Brian's Journal - Fall 2007

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9/30/2007 The rest of September after the Wind Rivers trip was another busy month with no time to write. I stayed home for a week, played with photos on the computer, worked a day, mowed the lawn. The sore shin from Mid-Mountain marathon cleared up by the middle of the week so Susan and I drove down to Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood and I ran the Timberline marathon from Mt Hood down the Cascade Crest trail through lots of beautiful old growth forest to Timothy Lake. On the way home we had a brief visit with Sara and Jeff and Uncle Bill in Portland. After Timberline I took a break from marathons to rest up for the Tahoe Triple, though I did do a hike with Tim to Lake Lilian. It was tougher than I expected. I had hoped to catch some trout in the lakes but didn't see enough sign to get out the fly rod, but in the course of getting lost out of the parking lot we ran into some great huckleberry picking and each got a couple of quarts. I've never seen so many large Boletus edulis as along the trail to Lake Lilian but almost all of them were well past their prime. Many of the caps were over a foot across.
Three days later we flew down to Reno and drove up to Lake Tahoe with Steve Barrick to run the Tahoe Triple Marathon, three marathons in three days around Lake Tahoe. I ran the first one comfortably, wanting to reserve strength for the next one. My arches were sore most of the race and I wasn't sure I'd be able to run the second two races. Felt better towards the end though, a 4 mile, 700' climb up to Spooner Lake. The second day we drove down to the start from Incline Village and arrived 5 minutes late. I hurried through the first 5 miles to catch up to the pack, took a bit of a break in Incline Village then picked up the pace again for the last 10, cutting 20 minutes off my day 1 time, felt great the whole way. Sat in the lake for 20 minutes at the finish then shivered through two Starbucks hot chocolates on the drive back to Village. We stayed at a great B&B there - Gabrielli's - very cozy and comforting. Cindy Gabrielli recommended a masseuse nearby so both Susan and I arranged to get a massage. It was wonderful. My muscles felt like they'd known Gwen all their life. We enjoyed Gwen and her husband so much that we took them out to dinner at the Wild Alaskan in Incline Village, an eclectic seafood place with delicious food and a very casual (think college dorm room) ambiance. Whether it was the salmon dinner or the massage or the cold soak in the lake, I don't know, but on day 3 I really felt strong and took another 9 minutes off my day two time. Started 3 minutes late, hustled to catch up to the pack, then ran comfortably through mile 20 before pushing hard the last 6 to the finish. Enjoyed talking with Heath Bryant, a young Mormon guy from Kent, between miles 16 and 20. We talked about the spiritual lessons we'd learned from running and about the similarities and differences between our doctrines. The race was very scenic, especially since a couple inches of snow fell the night before. We made it back to Seattle by about 9PM and I felt OK, so early Sunday morning I drove with Monte Pascual down to Elma to run the Gateway to the Pacific marathon in cold wind and rain. That course is a double out and back, rural, reasonably scenic and uncrowded. I ran with Jon Yoon and who held a steady 9 minute pace most of the race; I pushed hard in the last 6 miles and took another 20 minutes off my time from Tahoe 3.
10/05/2007 Boston - sunny and hot Took the JetBlue red-eye to Boston and met Rob with John at Bank of America,
John and Rob
spectacular view of Boston Harbor from our elegantly appointed private conference/dining room. After lunch we walked Rob over to the old State House to catch the T back to the airport, then walked back to the Harvard Club where John had parked and I had waited for him. On the way he
The Public Garden
pointed out thelandmarks and historic buildings. It was a beautiful day, clear and close to 90. The roses were still blooming in the Boston Public Garden but the swan boats had retired for the season. Tough traffic most of the way to Concord added an hour to our drive up to Jackson. John was quite anxious to make forward progress despite the obstacles so I served as navigator, guiding him from one lane to another seeking the fastest, and thereby shaving at least a minute off our four hour trip.
10/07/2007 Portland - Maine Marathon
With Kirsten at finish
I ran an impossibly fast (for me) race without any advance planning and qualifed for Boston, even under the old, more difficult standard. It was a dream come true, or maybe just a dream, I'm still not sure.
Kirsten and I drove down from Jackson together since she was running the marathon relay with a the girls nordic team from Bates. We reached downtown Portland in plenty of time but I hadn't printed out directions to the packet pickup location and though I thought I knew how to get there, I didn't quite. By the time we picked up our packets, stripped to running clothes and hit the bathroom one last time, we had only one minute left to run down to the starting line. We took our place in the pack of runners just after the national anthem and just a few seconds before the starting gun. I only had time for one photo before we were off. We started slowly but Kirsten picked up the pace right away and at one mile, we were at 7:45 and she was still speeding up. I told her not to hold back for me so she took off while I slowed down. A little.
We ran on a traffic-free boulevard along the bay for several miles then through some residential neighborhoods, across a bridge I think, then did a long out and back through countryside and residential areas, even along the water at one point I think. At three miles I had averaged 8:10 and decided to try to hold an 8 minute pace for 6-10 miles so as to get a good tempo run in before slowing down. At 10 miles I'd averaged 7:57 and was still feeling reasonably strong so decided to extend my pace to the halfway point. At the half I decided to go for 15 and at 15, 20. When I passed the half at 1:43:30, I was starting to think maybe I could make Boston. A couple of guys in blue singlets with whom I ran for a couple miles around mile 12 encouraged me to go for it, telling me I was well under the pace I needed. Since my watch strap broke in the Wind Rivers I've been carrying my watch in my belt pouch where it's somewhat hard to get to, so I only checked my time and pace every three miles. At 12, then at 15, then again at 18, my pace was under 7:45. I could hardly believe it. At 18 I began to believe I could make Boston - I was still feeling pretty strong despite running faster than I'd ever run before that far into a marathon. The thought brought tears to my eyes but I couldn't run choked up so turned my focus back to running, staying smooth, relaxing my feet and shoulders, picking up my heels. At 20 I was three full minutes under 2:40 and more than 5 minutes ahead of my fastest-ever 20 miles, and still feeling OK. Choked up again. Around 21 the boost from the last Gu began to wear thin but I began to realize I could break 3:30 and started pushing harder. I don't think anyone passed me after that point though I slowed down to about 8:05. At 24 I knew I had 3:30. Choked up a couple times in the last two miles but put my chin down and found that made breathing easier. At 26 I was at 3:25 something and sprinted for the finish - started crying and laughing and gasping for air all at once as I crossed the finish line and still couldn't speak when Kirsten found me a couple of minutes later. She probably wondered what was wrong with me. I qualified for Boston! With almost 9 minutes to spare! I took almost 10 minutes off my PR from 3 years ago and ran 15 minutes faster than I ever expected to run again. It was as if in one race, or for one race, I turned into the runner I longed to be but never expected to become. Was it a fluke? Just a really really good day?
It felt like a pretty ordinary day in most respects - I didn't sleep quite enough before the race, spent several hours yesterday walking around Fryburg fair so wasn't quite as rested as I'd like to have been. The conditions were excellent - cold and cloudy for the first half, cool and sunny for the second. The course was moderately hilly, perhaps 500' up and down overall. I ate a Gu around mile 9 and again around 18 and drank a good-sized cup of Gatorade every couple of miles, staying pretty well hydrated but not as well-fueled as I could have been. I ran Quadzilla - four marathons in four days, each one faster than the previous one, a week ago so I doubt I was fully recovered. For number four last weekend I had to work pretty hard to maintain a 9 minute pace, but of course I wasn't rested at all for that one. The previous three were at 6300' so perhaps it was the altitude training that made the difference. Or perhaps the sardines made the difference. I read in a recent Runner's World that Omega 3's reduce inflammation, and sardines and salmon are the richest sources. I've been eating sardines or salmon almost every day for about six months now. Perhaps that's why I can recover from a hard race in a couple of days instead of the couple months it used to take. Or perhaps it's a miracle, a supernatural gift from Jesus. I don't think He works that way though, at least not usually. I have no doubt that it is a gift from Him, my newfound (and hopefully not ephemeral) ability to run faster, but I think the gift is a physiological change of some kind and I'm curious to know the cause.
Back in Jackson this evening, Mom, John and Eric met me at the finish, arriving about 15 minutes after I finished and about 45 minutes before I'd expected to finish. We hung around in the cool bright sunshine mooching post-race food before heading home. Eric drove the Subaru back to Jackson; my left knee was a little stiff so I didn't want to work the clutch. We stopped at Shaw's for frozen peas and an antioxidant drink. By afternoon I was feeling good enough to walk around the Triangle with Mom and John - barefoot. We watched birds and admired the colors and I felt great. I registered for Boston before going to bed.
10/08/2007 Jackson - ovc, 50 Eric had arthroscopic surgery on his knee today. I drove him up to Berlin and went birding along the Androscoggin in Gorham while I waited for him. The surgery went well and should accelerate his healing from ACL surgery last spring. The doctor was concerned that his recovery had stalled and the swelling in his knee was persisting, so decided to go in and clean things up. The foliage is at its peak north of the notch and the colors were exceptional even under the low gray overcast.
10/09/2007 Jackson - sunny, 42-60 Beautiful morning. Mount Washington was very clear in the
sunshine. I walked down the property line trail birding and taking pictures of the foliage. At the downstream end of the lower field I found lots of sparrows in the weedy corn and pumpkin patches near the river. Matt and I had planned to go for a hike - we decided to do something easy so John could come along. After some deliberation we settled on Lake Pondicherry near Jefferson, a wildlife refuge accessed by rail trails. The hike in wasn't particularly interesting but the reflections of mountains and foliage on the languid lake were very photogenic. Pickerel were pursuing minnows near the observation deck where we ate lunch, at least I think they were pickerel. Wrong shape for trout. One time a silvery minnow danced on its tail about two feet across the surface of the lake away from a big swirl under the surface. Not sure how the minnow managed to stay above the surface so long.
Sparrow rest stop
10/12/2007 Jackson - ovc, 50 Three days of low overcast and some rain. I studied the sparrows in the field, corrected my initial mis-identifications. White-throated, White-crowned, Song, Swamp and Lincoln's. My tree sparrows turned into immature white-crowned sparrows. The common grackles (large brownish blackbirds with pale eyes and long tails) on the first day were replaced by a small group of Rusty blackbirds - shorter and stockier with short tails, pale eyes and on the brownish ones, a prominent pale eyestrip which had been absent on the grackles. The scaled appearance due to rusty body feather edges was only evident at close range. Lots of flickers around, and a surprising number of small hawks - merlins and sharp-shinneds - and some interesting interactions between them.
Every minute or so I kept hearing an unusual squawking, an urgent "kitlitlit" call repeated several times with the tonal quality of a flicker call, from Sarah's field. After a few minutes I found out why. A merlin soared out from Sarah's field and perched briefly in a snag, then flew directly out towards the middle of the lower field. It dove down and a flicker flushed up out of the grass, flapping for the woods. The merlin immediately pursued it. Just as the merlin was about to overtake it the flicker cried out with that "kitlitlit" call and swerved, evading the falcon. The evasive maneuver happened so quickly I couldn't tell exactly what the flicker did. The merlin resumed pursuit, climbing above and dropping in a shallow dive down on the flicker which again cried out and dodged the falcon. The flicker reached the safety of the woods before the merlin could try again. The hawk dove towards the flicker's tree then soared up to a nearby birch tree. Within a minute it was off again in pursuit of another flicker farther up the field. As soon as the merlin left the first flicker flew back out into the grass. Meanwhile the merlin had tried a couple of times to flush the second flicker but that flicker only squawked and refused to fly. Giving up, the merlin flew to the other side of the field, flapping hard and suddenly I heard the "kitlitlit kitlitlit" cry again. The hawk had found another flicker and was driving it back to the woods edge. Giving up on that one the merlin flew back towards me and shot directly overhead to quickly for me to get binoculars on it, heading for yet another flicker which was about to alight in the grass. The target did a quick U-turn and squawked as the merlin dove on it but reached the safety of the woods edge. As the merlin continued back to the birch branch from which it started the last target flicker turned around and flew back out into the field. That provoked the merlin to come after it again. The flicker squawked a few times and dodged as the merlin dove on it then gained the safety of a tree near the river. Watching the flicker I lost track of the merlin.
Not more than a couple minutes later I heard flicker-squawking again. This time the pursuer was a sharp-shinned hawk. The sharpie's strategy was to chase the flicker directly and attempt to grab it from behind. The flicker's response was the same - loud squawking as the hawk drew close and a last-minute dodge to evade capture. When the flicker would squawk the hawk would flare its wings, braking its speed and allowing the flicker to gain ten or twenty feet on it. The hawk would then resume the chase and the scenario would be repeated, sometimes two or three times before the flicker gained the safety of a perch. Movement in a tree across the field caught my eye. Turning to look, I spotted another sharp-shinned hawk hopping from branch to branch. It flew a couple of feet and tried to hover right near the trunk. Sure enough, another flicker was hugging the bark, refusing to move despite the hawk diving at from a few feet away. Frustrated, that sharp-shinned took off in pursuit of another flicker flying across the field farther upstream. More flicker-squawking. Altogether there were about eight flickers in and around the field so a hawk rarely had to wait more than a minute before finding another flicker to pursue.
In the couple of hours that I watched, I counted two merlins and three sharp-shinned hawks. I only saw one of the merlins well - it was quite dark with bold, almost-black streaking on breast and flanks that began to change to barring on the belly. Upperparts were dark brownish-gray with a thin dark moustache and yellow legs. One of the sharp-shinned hawks was an adult male. The others were brown and streaked, one small and the other larger. The flickers did not seem to be much concerned about the hawks. After being pursued to a perch in the woods they would fly right back out into the field again as soon as the hawk moved on. The hawks for their part did not seem to be serious about actually catching the flickers. The sharpies would brake when the flicker squawked and the merlin was diving on its prey more in the manner of a crow diving on a red-tail, attempting perhaps to tag it but not actually grab it. Several times I watched a hawk harass a perched flicker in an apparent attempt to flush it. If the flicker refused to fly the hawk would leave it to search for a flicker already in flight. Rarely did they have to wait long to find one.
Perhaps the game became more serious after I left - a few days later, walking in the field with Mom and John before I left for Seattle, I found a couple flicker tail feathers and a few fluffy body feathers out in the lower field where some of the flickers had been feeding.
10/13/2007 Hartford - Hartford Marathon Rain over the Kancamaugus Highway didn't dim the colors much - trees along the road as well as hillsides
Color W of North Woodstock
across the river were a blazing mass of orange, yellow and red. Only over the top of the pass were the trees mostly bare. Colors were equally bright along the small mountain highway I followed west and south
My living room at the Goodwin
out of North Woodstock and down towards I-91 at Orford Vermont but from that point south yellow and orange yielded back to green and brown. I caught a little late-afternoon sunshine as I approached Massachusetts, a harbinger of a beautiful morning for the Hartford Marathon the next day. My room at the Goodwin Hotel was a spacious 3-room suite; I only wished I had more time to enjoy it. I made the Expo just in time to get my packet, checked my bags with the hotel staff in the morning before the race (no late check-out) and sauntered into the brisk air and sunshine at the marathon start a block away.
I wanted to run fast to prove that Maine wasn't a fluke, and I succeeded, beating my Maine PR by 24 seconds. Had I not stopped for pictures I might have been able to break 3:26 but I was delighted to settle for 3:26:53. My pacing was the best I've ever done. My half splits were 1:43 and 1:43:53. My fastest 3-mile segment was 7:39 between 15 and 18; my slowest was 8:10 in the first three miles and second slowest 8:01 in the last two. I gradually sped up to mile 16 or so then gradually slowed down again to 26. At mile 20 I was 2:37:45, about 40 seconds slower than at Maine but I held my pace better in the last 6 so was able
The finish
The course
The start
to come in a little ahead of Maine. The entire course was sunny and overall a little warmer than at Maine but I never really felt hot. Although I didn't find any Maniacs before the race I saw one ahead of me and passed the rest behind me on the long out-and-back leg through rural residential East Hartford. The only one I recognized was Larry Macon who ran Rattlesnake Lake with us. Srlopez
The lunch
ran about 20 minutes behind me (an impressive performance considering his travel difficulties) but I didn't see him until after the finish. Whole Foods, colloquially known as "Whole Paycheck", provided a delicious vegetarian lunch at the finish. I ate with Dean Hutchinson, Maniac #278, with whom I will probably run New York next year since my sub-3:30 time gives me a guaranteed entry and Dean knows how to do the logistics.
My feet were sore enough afterwards that I decided to return to Jackson rather than run Bay State as I had tentatively planned. I made it back in time for Bridget's birthday supper though not in time to buy her a gift. The next morning I had a very pleasant walk down to Sarah and Roger's, then across the lower fields and up the boundary line trail with Mom and John before I had to leave for Logan. The colors along the lower field were quite a bit brighter than when I arrived a week earlier. The flickers were still around but the hawks had moved on and Rick Davis was mowing the weedy corn and pumpkin patches where the sparrows had feasted.
10/20/2007 Home Big windstorm. While we were at church the vent panel on the southwest side of the greenhouse blew off and though I searched a broad arc to the north and west, I couldn't find it. The vent had been open so the wind was able to get underneath it and pop it out. I expected to find it somewhere around the back yard because most of the poplar branches had fallen close on either side of the north-south row.
10/25/2007 Home Back to work after about 15 weeks off. The first couple days were a little difficult primarily because I didn't sleep much at night. My mind was racing with thoughts of work as well as projects I didn't get done at home and Maniacs website issues and who knows what else. Then I got a few things done at work and felt better about being there. They'd been saving up some problems for me to resolve when I got back. It's been nice to renew friendships at work, spent quite a bit of time just visiting, getting caught up on work as well as personal stuff.
10/26/2007 Home First frost of the season and a hard one, 26 on the porch and no doubt colder in the garden. Even the tomato vines in the greenhouse froze. In the morning I took a break from work to pick and shell the remaining beans and to collect the green tomatoes which hadn't frozen. I laid them out on cookie sheets in the living room and am hoping they'll ripen before they rot. Many of the tomatoes rotted around the stem and dropped off before the frost; the ground under the vines is carpeted with green and orange tomatoes. Some of the vines also got blight during the cold rain this month but it wasn't the fast-acting late-summer blight, but rather a more gradual die-back. Spent a pleasant hour picking and shelling the rest of the runner beans in the garden. Most were the brown variety but a few were speckled, streaked, white or black. The new beans were delicious but oddly enough, more strongly-flavored than the three-year-old dry beans I cooked up a week or two ago.
10/28/2007 Tri Cities - Tri Cities Marathon Broke 3:30 again with a 3:29:36 but I had to work hard for it. Frost glazed the cars in the parking
Tri Cities Marathon Start
lot when I looked out before dawn so I decided not to try for the early start. The regular start was just after sunrise. The air was chilly and calm, the river bright and still as we set out.
First mile
Caught up with determination to run a fast pace, I passed the one mile marker at 7:22 but slowed down over the bridge, averaging 8:04 for the next two miles and 7:58 for the following three. From about mile 5-9 I felt tired and a little queasy, even skipped an aid station or two but felt much better, running 7:40, between 10 and 13. In that stretch I passed everyone who had passed me between miles 4 and 8. For most of the rest of the race I ran to one side or another of 8:00/mile except for a 30-second slowdown at mile 21 and a side stitch which forced me to walk for a minute or so at mile 23. I wouldn't have beaten 3:30 except that another gray-haired guy was pursuing me for the last three miles and I was determined not to let anyone else in my age group pass me. As it turned out, he was under 50 and I was already out of the running in my age group but I appreciated his helping me to break 3:30 again.
Physically this race was tougher than the last two. Along with the customary tender inner hip flexors my left knee was stiff and my lower left shin sore after the race. Feet felt pretty good at the finish although my inner left ankle was sore as usual for a couple days afterwards. I stood mid-thigh-deep in the Columbia for 20 minutes but it wasn't really cold enough to do much good. Thinking I might have placed in my age group I stuck around for the award ceremony out in the sunshine by the finish line in the parking lot. Maniacs won both the men's and women's races and won or placed in most of the age groups except mine. I took pictures. My room was less than 100' from the finish line so I took a nice hot shower before checking out and heading home. I considered driving up to Saddle Mountain but figured David
Me, Monte and Rick
might need my help on homework so went home instead. On the way I chilled my shins in the American River - plenty cold but probably too long after the race to help as much as it might have. On top of Chinook Pass the sun was shining but the foot or so of old snow wasn't melting much. I trotted around in running shorts and flip-flops taking pictures until my toes were numb. Lots of driving, 193 miles each way, but a nice marathon in perfect weather with a convenient motel and lots of familiar faces.
11/04/2007 Little Naches thundereggs Pat called Friday afternoon to say that Centralia wasn't having church on Sabbath and did I want to go rock-hunting somewhere. I did so we considered a couple of possibilities and decided on Little Naches. I've been wanting to find out how to get there and what kind of thundereggs can be found at that location. Beautiful morning, sunny and not quite frosty. I thought I might go out birding in the morning before Pat got here but I stayed up too late on the computer. Over Chinook Pass Rainier was beautiful in the sunshine and the snow had hardly melted at all from a week ago. The Little Naches turn-off is near mp 92. We drove up the Little Naches road 1.8 miles then turned right on Quartz Ck road. At about 2.1 miles that road makes a sharp right while a prominent spur continues straight ahead. In another 2 miles or so another spur bears left at a wide Y in the road. The well-trodden trail to the thundereggs follows the crest of the ridge between the two legs of the Y. About two hours from the house. It's about a quarter mile to the diggings which are right on the crest of the ridge with a nice view off to the southeast. The eggs are in clay layers sandwiched between fractured rhyolite beds which appear to be trending northeast and dipping steeply to the west. I'll have to check that out a little more thoroughly next time. Some of the rock layers appear to consist mostly of intergrown thundereggs but the best eggs seemed to be in the clay. We found them as small as almonds and as large as grapefruit. By mid-afternoon I had a pack-full. There were decent though mostly broken eggs just lying around on the ground. Some appeared to be mostly light gray jasper and semi-opaque agate but others were nearly solid, fairly translucent blue-gray agate. I haven't cut any yet.
We lingered a little too long seeking that last baked-potato-sized egg but still managed to get home in time for me to head into Seattle with Susan for symphony. I was beat and I slept almost the whole time until intermission. I think I liked the music in the second half better anyway - Faure and Debussy. My back was only just barely up to digging thundereggs. It twinged (and I cringed) on just the third shovel of dirt but after that it was OK as long as I was didn't move or lift the wrong way.
With Jon Yoon at mile 7
iUWR start in Kent
11/05/2007 - iUWR Marathon As I wrote on the Maniacs Bulletin Board, "It's a beautiful race and fun to run even if the weather doesn't completely cooperate. The course is scenic and interesting and was very well marked - Jason put a lot of work into making sure we didn't get lost. The aid stations were well-spaced and well-stocked and the volunteers friendly and cheerful despite the weather. This is just a fine little marathon and given the entry fee of $0, an exceptional value as well." I was worried that my back would prevent me from running but it was no worse in the morning than the night before so I went ahead and ran. It felt better running than sitting. I ran for various sections of the race with Jon Yoon, Monte Pascual, Van Phan, Val Beyer, Jess Mullen and Jim Boyd. Due to a sore tendon in her lower left shin, Leslie was unable to run so she and Tony intercepted us at various points along the course to take photos, mostly in the drizzle. I finished in 4:04 but according to Gmap-pedometer the course is a half mile long so I passed the marathon point at just about 4:00. Ate fish and chips with Jon, Monte and Jim at Spuds. Next year I should just get the French fries, cut from real potatoes. The fish batter was too salty and oily.
11/10/2007 - Des Moines 6 Hour Run Monte and I ran 7 laps of a 4 mile loop through the woods just south of SeaTac airport and finished in a tie for first place in the 6 hour race. We also tied for last. About 30 runners started but most of them were only doing the 10K and the rest, besides Monte and I, were only doing the 3 hour run. David took the camera with him to his journalism conference in Philadelphia so I didn't take any pictures. Too bad. The weather was bright and sunny and the trail mostly smooth and in many places strewn with big angular maple leaves interlocking in shades of yellow and brown. Not many birds, I only noticed chickadees and kinglets and a few crows and robins. Lots of huge airplanes roaring overhead, most of them with an engine on each wing or with a pair of engines at the tail (those were the loudest) but I also saw a few prop-jets and one 747 with two engines on each wing. The race director had to pause several times as jets flew over while he was explaining the course to us. It was too confusing to explain but sufficiently marked that we didn't get lost. When I missed a turn Monte would catch it and vice-versa. The RD and a friend/helper waited patiently at the aid station for three hours while Monte and I trundled past every 50 minutes or so. Their cheers as we navigated the loops of our last lap were enthusiastic and heartfelt. My left outer shin got sore afterwards but my ankle did not, a relief since it had been a little swollen and sore all the previous week.
11/11/2007 pc, 52
David found Philadelphia a little intimidating - it was the first time he'd ever found himself in the minority as a Caucasian - but enjoyed the conference more than he expected to. The city was chaotic and noisy. Cars honked at the slightest provocation and pedestrians paid no attention to the streetlights. Most of the people on the streets were black. Inside the convention hall were 8000 high school students from all over the country. Everyone at the conference was friendly and open to meeting other kids. David liked that. Someone noted that most of the kids who attend journalism conferences are girls, and of those who aren't, most are gay, so it's a great place for a heterosexual guy. David reported that there were plenty of straight guys as well as lots of hot girls and that his roommate was gay. He asked his roommate if he could pick out other gays but apparently being gay does not make it any easier to discern if someone else is gay. David enjoyed the socializing and found the sessions generally interesting as well.
We visited UPS on Friday for Parent's Weekend, attended and enjoyed Daniel's logic class, browsed in the bookstore during his Spanish class and toured campus housing after lunch. Daniel came home with us for the weekend. He had a relaxing time at home but unfortunately didn't get any homework done.
Despite feeling a little stiff and sore I replaced the vent panel in the greenhouse which had blown off in the windstorm a few weeks ago, then I cleaned out the tomato and eggplant which had been killed by frost the next weekend due to the open vent. The tomatoes have been gradually ripening on the still green vines despite all the leaves being dead. I scrounged several cups of edible cherry tomatoes off the ground after cutting away the jungle of vines. After lunch I scrubbed the Little Naches thundereggs and found some nice translucent blue to gray agate inside some of the broken ones. The two small ones that I cut weren't as pretty but it was nice to finally cut a rock again - it's been several months. I also reorganized some of the rocks under the workbench and may have managed to strain my back again in so doing, just when my lower back pain was finally clearing up.
11/17/2007 Sabbath ovc, rain, 48
I dreamt of Dad Thursday night for the first time since he died, first time that I'm aware of anyhow. I woke up from the dream and thought about it for a long time before I fell back asleep.
Daniel came home again last night. I did a 10-mile run then we all went to church this morning. I'd been planning tentatively to join a Maniacs 12-hour run at Carkeek park starting around 5AM and trying to get in a marathon before coming home for church. I was anxious during the night and tired when the alarm went off at 3:30AM so I relaxed and went back to sleep instead of getting up. I had a decent run - was tired and slow for the first several miles then picked up the pace comfortably. My mid-lower back has been sore since cleaning up the upper garden yesterday. A new knot has developed on the right side across from the old one on the left side. Anyhow, we had a nice time at church. The boys made wisecracks for a while then settled down during the sermon. Bill preached on the story from 2 Kings 13 about Elisha on his deathbed advising the king to strike his arrows on the ground. Lacking passion, the king struck the ground only three times instead of 5 or 6, thereby indicating that he would defeat Syria only three times instead of utterly destroying them. Daniel wondered why Elisha found fault with him. The king's lack of enthusiasm was due to his doubt that God would truly come through for him and give Israel victory over Syria. Our passion for God is a measure of our confidence in Him.
That's also part of the answer I've come up with in wondering about my lack of enthusiasm for Christ. Today though, I wasn't condemning myself about my lack faith, my recent distance from the church and my indifference about the Sabbath. I've actually been looking forward this past week to going to church.
We may not have had much passion in church today but we did enjoy visiting with friends we hadn't seen in a while. We lingered afterwards, talked with Gregg and Grace G, Marshall B, Larry M, Rick S. As usual when we make it to church, we were about the last to leave.
11/25/2007 mostly sunny, 45
Disappointing day today - I wasn't able to run the Seattle marathon. Yesterday I got very cold standing around after the Seattle Ghost marathon so I went out for a quick run to warm up and to meet Monte who was about to finish. I was stiff and clumsy with cold and when I returned after 10 minutes or so, one of the tendons in the lower front of my left shin was a little sore. Monte and I drove over to the expo where we sampled all the bars and cookies we could find, bought a pair of shoes each and a couple pair of socks, and where I paid my $120 to sign up for the race. I'd put it off as long as I could wanting to make sure I'd be able to run it as the second race of a double. But my shin didn't cooperate. I soaked in an ice-water bath when I got home, then iced the sore tendon again during the night but it refused to get better on my schedule. When it hurt just to run across the parking lot at the start of the marathon I decided to turn in my chip. I took a few pictures of Maniacs before the start then ran the first quarter mile or so with Tom Rogers, but the shin tendon was clearly not going to get better. It was the right decision but frustrating to not be able to run, especially since lots of Maniacs were doing the race and the weather was perfect.
12/14/2007 ovc, 45
Not much rain this week - I've been watching, anticipating that with cool temperatures and fairly dry weather the Centralia area creeks would continue to fall. Providing the weather held my plan was to return to the creek where Pat and I went agate hunting last Sabbath.
On our previous trip up there a couple of years ago we got skunked but last weekend we were the first ones up the creek following the big flood the previous weekend. I don't think the creek got as high this time as it did in the floods a decade ago but it rose enough to scour the banks and rework some of the gravel bars from those floods. Enough to bring some impressive agates to the surface too. On the first gravel bar we reached we found a 3" carnelian agate and I knew we were in for a special day. Most of the agates we found had quartz-crystal centers and some were mostly quartz. I left a couple chunks of quartz behind that were 8-10" across - they were pretty but too heavy to add to my load. We each also hauled out a good-sized chunk of petrified wood which I suspect will turn out to be all black inside. My best find was a top-shaped agate nodule about 5" across and 5" tall, red on the outside and watery-gray inside; my largest was a oblong chunk of reddish quartz with a thin red agate rind. Even with both ends were broken off it was still 9" long and about 5" thick.
Hoping that lower water might have exposed a few more agates, I drove down there after dropping David off at school this morning. On the way in I passed a motor home with a scruffy-looking couple outside in the clearcut about a half-mile before the second bridge over the creek. They looked like rockhounds - not a good sign. But there was no-one else parked along the road. I parked at the gate and started up the creek. Again in the first gravel bar I came to I found a bright banded chunk of agate almost in plain sight. Whoever left the tracks in the sand probably would not have left that agate had they seen it. They certainly would not have left the 5" red and gray lens of agate I found just under the surface of the water a short distance upstream. As I'd hoped, the water had dropped a few inches and was nearly clear. I explored a little farther upstream than Pat and I did last weekend and found a few agates above where we turned around last time.
Red agate
Sandwich and agates
Upstream agate
I did better than I'd expected to in the section of the stream which Pat and I searched a week ago. Many of the agates I found would have been covered by an inch or so of running water last week and therefore harder to see, but some of them were in the exposed gravel bars or underwater where we could have seen them last time. By the time I turned to head back to the car I had nearly as heavy a load as I did last week. I photographed a few of the agates in place before I
Plate ready to fire
Daniel glazing big plate
picked them up. It might be quite a while before I get another day of agate hunting like that.
On the way home I picked up David then we drove over to UPS to get Daniel. He had to prepare some pots for glazing before he could come home so David and I waited around in the ceramics studio with him. The plate he was working on is huge.
12/16/2007 ovc, 43
Good run today at the Chrismas marathon, my 50th lifetime marathon. I ran 3:30:16 but that included an extra 0.2 miles because I overcompensated for a wrong turn, so my equivalent marathon time was 3:28:40, my third fastest. Because I started an hour early (with about 30 other runners), there was no aid on the course until after the halfway point. Fortunately I had two 8-oz water bottles and several gu's to keep me going. I joined the lead pack (SR Lopez, Steve Walters, Gary Marr and a couple others) in the first mile, then Gary and I pulled ahead. Until about mile 5 I tried to run-walk with him but in order to maintain an 8-minute pace we had to run too hard between walk breaks so after mile 5 he slowed down and I resumed a steady pace. From that point on to the finish I was in first place, a novel experience, especially as I met all the other oncoming marathoners during the second half. I missed a turn around mile 8 which made my first half 0.4 mile short so on the way back I ran an extra 0.6 to make up the shortfall. Allowing for the difference in distance, my half split paces were exactly the same. My fastest miles were from about 9 to 16 when I ran as fast as 7:30; walk breaks to down gels and a photo stop at the turnaround to prove I'd been there increased my average time to 7:58. I ran in racing flats, my Brooks Racers, and they felt great, light on my feet the whole way although a small blister developed at the edge of the callus on the inside (medial) of my right big toe in the last few miles. Given that I'm three pounds heavier (equivalent to 9 seconds/mile) now than I was when I set my PR at Hartford, it was perhaps my strongest race, validating the efficacy of speedwork combined with a marathon every two or three weeks in maintaining conditioning despite reduced overall mileage.
Alone at the turnaround
50th marathon
I drove down with Monte so waited at the finish for him, really enjoyed visiting with Maniacs and other runners. I talked quite a bit with Steve Walters, Robert Lopez, a Canadian named Kevin from Vancouver who'd just run a 3:14 PR and whose HR was the same as mine, a pre-Maniac named Lisa who loves the website, a just-qualified Maniac named Peter from Portland, Jim Boyd briefly and of course Monte. Monte had made matching 50th Marathon signs for himself and me so we had our photograph taken together to commemorate the occasion. Felt pretty tired most of the evening but not too sore.
12/22/2007 rain, 38
Had planned to run a 50K today but Susan wanted me around so I only ran 18. Just as well - the weather was cold and wet and I was somewhat sore from the combination of the fast marathon last week and quite a few additional miles this week. I ran out 8.5 with Monte at about 10:30 then ran fast most of the way back, with interruptions to run a couple minutes with Melissa and walk 5 minutes with Russ, whom I just found out is a birder as well as a Maniac. We spotted a merganser and several mallards, then a dipper, before I turned around. It took several sub-8 minute miles to get feeling back in my fingers.
We flew back to NH overnight to visit Mom and John for Christmas.

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