Escape from San Francisco

This past weekend, Brian and I escaped from San Francisco (and Fleet Week) to Susanville, home of Lassen National Forest and the famed Bizz Johnson Trail.  I was heading up to work the Coastal Trails races on Saturday and Sunday, and Brian was going to help on Saturday and run the 50k on Sunday.  Our Anniversary was Monday, so an adventure, a race, and some trails seemed like the perfect thing for us to do.

In an attempt to miss traffic, we headed out early Friday afternoon.  After sitting in traffic getting out of the city and enjoying some delicious fast food at Carl’s Junior, we made it to Red Bluff – pretty much the last large town before heading into Lassen.

The first part of the park/Rt. 36 was a trip through volcanic rock.  It was pretty cool and the sun was just starting to set, which resulted in some picturesque views.  I was able to catch the below just as the sun was setting……the photo doesn’t really do the view justice.

The winding roads took us through several little towns and villages that seemed to be ghost towns now, but I’m sure were booming railroad towns years ago.  Then the sun set and it seemed like the deer took that as their cue to come out and play….or try to get hit by cars….or both.  Too many close calls.  And, as Brian said – no one wins if we hit a deer….it dies and we have another busted up car.  Luckily, we made it into town safely.  
I had booked us at the only hotel available in town….Budget Frontier Inn, or something like that.  Based on the name, I had some idea as to what I was in for, and I had fun taunting Brian with ideas around what it might be on the last leg of our trip.  When we got there, I was definitely not disappointed.  The outside looked as I imagined and on my attempt to check in, I found the door to the lobby locked and pressed the doorbell multiple times before someone came to let me in.  Luckily, someone did eventually come and let me check in.  
On the walk to our room, we noticed at least one door that looked like someone had tried to kick it in…luckily, ours was in tact…or so we thought (we did find out later that side paneling left something to be desired).  We did have a door to an adjoining room that didn’t lock…awesome.  Luckily, during our years of traveling to cheerleading competitions and staying in sketchy hotels, my mother taught me well.  I just took the table and pushed it against the door – at least it would slow them down.   
Amongst other things, we also didn’t have a remote….where is there a TV without a remote?  Brian tried to find it and then I took a shot at it.  No dice….but I did find this guy.  Any ideas on what it is?  Creepy Sponge Bob?  Sponge Bob on drugs?  

But, despite the neighbors busting into their room at two am and waking us up with the noise, it ended up being fine.  We survived our three nights there and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the place in Rohnert Park a few years ago.  I mean, it didn’t smell like smoke to the point that we couldn’t stay there and there weren’t drug dealers waiting for rooms when we left.

Saturday morning started bright and early with check-in for the Express Half Marathon.  Even earlier for us since we didn’t really know where we were and needed to get coffee/tea before getting where we needed to be (the awesome hotel also didn’t have a coffee maker….what hotel doesn’t have a coffee maker??).  We had to be at the train depot at 6:15….so naturally we left the hotel at 5:15.  We were five minutes away….from both the depot and the Starbucks.  Only us…..

But, we got our coffee and tea and made it to the depot in plenty of time.  Again, narrowly missing some deer, but I digress….We worked check-in for awhile before Brian headed off to an aid station and I headed off to the finish line.

It was pretty cool to be near and see signs for a trail I’d read so much about.  When you run marathons for nearly ten years, it’s impossible to not hear about the Bizz Johnson trail.  Yes, I am a runner geek…deal with it :).  

I learned how to pull results – and managed to do so all day without causing any craziness on the computer….haha.  So, I spent the race pulling results, posting them, and reading out age group winners.  Since the only thing worse than the sound of my own voice is the sound of my own voice on a megaphone, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy making announcements…..However, it was actually a lot of fun.  People are usually excited when they win awards, more so when they aren’t expecting it.  It took me back to getting my third place finish from this race in the mail.  Totally unexpected, but so fun.

Once the Express Half had finished (and I’d had my fill of BBQ), I headed back up to the depot to run check-in for the rest of the day.  I was surprised at how many people showed up to check in a day early – definitely helped with things the next morning.  There was also some sort of chili baking competition….and festival…and I don’t know what else going on in the parking lot.  What I do know is that there was a very loud band (playing good music, but still very loud…probably because they were right outside the door), and people really don’t know how to close a door.  The amount of times we shut the door to keep the noise down (and what little AC there was inside), people just kept coming in and leaving it open….come on, were you raised in a barn?!

Saturday night was pretty low key.  We tried to find an Italian restaurant, and thought we had, but unfortunately, it was closed.  So we ended up at some random pizza factory or something.  And recognized just about everyone in the restaurant.  We’d either checked them in for the race the next day or saw them at the race that morning.  I remember one lady saying, ‘hi, expo people’….haha.  Food wasn’t the best – the Round Table pizza from the night before was better, but, oh well.  Win some, lose some.  And really, I was ready for bed.

Sunday morning started off similar to Saturday, but with a later trip to Starbucks – thank god.  haha.  We started with check-in, until Brian departed for his race, then he headed out and I stayed at the depot to continue check-in for the shorter distances, until those were ready to start.

Once the races had started, I packed up everything from check-in and the depot and headed to the finish line.  First, I was glad I had the x-terra – not that my car was ever an option, but that’s a whole different story.  Second, I was glad I had loaded the Coastal van so many times….loading the x-terra was like a mini loading of the van….haha.  But, I got it all to fit.  We bid farewell to the lady at the depot, and we were off.

I spent most of my time at the finish line on Sunday like I spent Saturday….pulling results and announcing age group awards.  Again, it was a lot of fun….people were in disbelief that they had placed, so it was fun being able to make their day.  Brian had a great race – PR in his 50k and first in his age group.  It was fun to announce his name and give him his first place medal.

I also got to take Brian on a trip in the Coastal van….always a good time.  Thankfully, he’s good with directions and was able to prevent me getting us lost.  We did pass a car that had just hit a deer….really glad that wasn’t me.  We picked up all the aid station stuff at one main gathering place – I thought I was being slick and got the tables in…thinking we wouldn’t have to unload them again.  Of course, I forgot about the timing mats.  Not that slick….apparently I haven’t loaded the van enough times…haha.  Once that was done, we headed back to the finish line, broke down, loaded up, and were off…until the next race.

We celebrated Brian’s good run with some more Round Table pizza (what else do you eat in Susanville?), some wine, and an early bedtime.  We were really excited to sleep in the next morning, but disappointed our time away had come to an end.  Such a great weekend getaway…..

Overall thoughts – great trip, great race – highly recommend.  I’d pick a different hotel though…or as Brian said, maybe next time we can see if we can find a worse hotel to stay at…haha….

Until then, over and out….

Tahoe Getaway

Great friends + the great outdoors = an amazing weekend.  Despite Tahoe being so close to San Francisco, Brian and I haven’t been there in years….I think the last time we were there was for the Tahoe Marathon/Half Marathon.  The one where I don’t remember the last two miles….I mean, there are photos of me looking pretty green near the end, so I got there somehow.  Anyway, I digress….

Brian and I haven’t been to Tahoe in years, so we were really excited when our friends Sean and Chiara invited us on a weekend away.  I was a little worried about getting out of work to get up there in any sort of reasonable time, but it actually wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it might be.  Traffic was….bay area traffic, but wasn’t as terrible as I thought it might be.  After grabbing a bite at one of the sketchiest, slowest Wendy’s I’ve ever been to and a dark drive down some winding roads, we arrived at about 11:30.  Enjoyed some celebratory beers before settling into some bunkbeds.  So tired…..

I got up Saturday morning to a group of friends preparing breakfast (I knew better than to jump in and touch anything ;))….it was as if we’d all known each other for years, rather than just met the night before.  And the food was delicious…..no one was going to go hungry on this trip.

After breakfast, I decided I needed to explore – busted foot and all.  Brian went out on a run, I swapped the ankle brace from my left foot to my right, and off I went.  It started out simple enough…planned on two miles out and two miles back….staying in a simple straight path – out and back.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on finding a trail.  Cause when I find a trail….I wonder where it goes.  And I have to find out.  I mean, I have Strava, and it will route me back, right?

The trail was great….pretty flat, through some gorgeous trees, I even found some trail race markers….and then it ended.  So, I ended up on the road….which was fine, I had a fine time exploring the nearby neighborhood.  Other than not really knowing where I was….typical me….haha.  Thankfully, I had Strava going and was able to route myself back.

Once I got un-lost and got back from my walk, we headed out to Camp Richardson to meet the rest of the group.  If you go to Camp Richardson, make sure you bring cash for parking….or stop at the general store once you get there, but before you pull in.  I think we had $4 on us…oops.  Luckily, it was an easily solvable problem and I was able to pick up some snacks at the store too.  No keep Tahoe blue sticker though.

The plan for the day was to rent kayaks and head over to Emerald Bay.  Since Sean and Chiara had decided to go for a double kayak, I decided Brian and I would do the same (he was parking the car)….I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the day in a kayak with me.  haha.  Our new friend Anna took a single kayak and the rest of the group went the stand-up paddle board route.

And, what a great day….good friends….cold beer….an adventure on the water…on a beautiful day.  Of course, I ended up with a new running pants tan line and flip flop tan line, because, well, why wouldn’t I….haha.  

Saturday night, we hung out at the house and made good use of the BBQ, the hot tub, and the sauna.  We all brought our own food, but shared everything, so dinner was a buffet of all sorts of meat and veggies and cocktails and wine.  I’m not sure I ever had flank steak, but wow…it was delicious.  As was the lamb and the rest of the steak I tried.  Such a fun night with old friends and new friends.

I decided I need to sleep on the top bunk of the bunk beds that night.  Not sure why that was a good idea….maybe it was the wine.  Or that I hadn’t been on bunk beds since Sarah and I went to London in 2004.  Anyway, I survived the top bunk experience and even remembered I was up there the next morning.  haha…..

We kicked off Sunday with yoga on the porch….what a great way to stretch out after a day of paddling on Saturday.  It was a great start to a warm and gorgeous day….even if I’m less than stellar at yoga….haha.  Anna was a great instructor too :).

After yoga on the porch, we decided to have a relaxing day at the beach and headed over to Falling Leaf Lake.  It’s another lake near lake Tahoe, but a little further up the road.  And, well, we all know how good I am at relaxing.  I was considering wrapping up the busted foot and shoving it in a hiking boot so I could go explore the trails around Falling Leaf Lake, but instead decided to have a second go at stand-up paddle boarding with Nathalie and Chiara.  June and I had a blast when we went a couple summers ago, so I figured this would be fun too (and far less taxing on my ankle).  And it was amazing.  Well, once I remembered how to do it…haha.

We paddled over to a private beach, then over past some Stanford cottages, relaxing and hanging out along the way.  The cold water felt great on my foot too.  Sadly, our hour was over far too soon and it was time to head back.  After paddling against the wind to get back to the protected beach, we just stopped and coasted in….we didnt want it to end.  I had visions of riding in like a surfer, but apparently that’s a bad idea…..luckily, Nathalie let me know and I scrambled to my knees just in time.  

But, like all good things, our trip had to come to an end…and we had quite the drive in front of us.  So, we said farewell to our new friends and jumped in the car with Sean and Chiara to head home.  

Of course, despite leaving at a reasonable time, there was an accident on 50 impacting all four lanes of traffic.  So we sat….and sat…and sat some more….two hours and less than two miles later, we got through it.  Annoying, but not the longest trip back from Tahoe I’ve heard of and a small price to pay for a fabulous weekend adventuring with friends.

Until next time….over and out…

Open Letter to Viansa

Wow…three posts in three days – if I have any blog followers, I’m sure you’re loving this…anyway, the point of writing, we went to Sonoma, we were expecting certain things and they failed.  Big time.  So, my first open letter. 
To long/didn’t read (TLDR): Corner 103 is amazing. Go there.  Avoid Viansa.

Viansa is the second winery off the 121/Arnold Drive.  It’s on several wine bus/wine tours.  Its been fabulous.  I won’t lie…it’s been a huge part of my life, but recently, and not so recently, its been different.  I thought it might get back to ‘the good old days’, but, I realized today that wasn’t the case.  I’ll forever be thankful for the friends I’ve made there, but, as I’ve learned in the recent past, sometimes knowing when to let go is just as important as knowing how long to hold on….     

Below is the email I sent to Viansa – our home away from home for several years…where we met some great friends, and more than that, where we re-discovered ‘us’.  It’s a great email, but a sad email where I canceled my wine club membership after 8+ years….   

Hello!

I updated my information this afternoon, but would actually like to cancel my membership.  Like most of America, I’m a busy person, but feel compelled to tell you why.   

My husband and I have been members for nearly ten years and for the most part, we’ve enjoyed every minute.  Between us spending time at Viansa to work on our marriage to a surprise 30th birthday party – you’ve been a big part in our lives.

We loved the staff, they always made us feel at home. When Lloyd owned the place, we never felt like anything less than one of his own. Kelly was always amazing…coming to see her was like seeing an old friend. It never mattered if it had been a week or a month, she always treated us as if it was only yesterday.   

Today, I arrived at the winery for the members party and it felt cold and corporate – the very thing I try to escape on the weekends. I entered the tasting room and recognized no one. I asked someone about Kelly, and was told, ‘she don’t work here no more’.  Quoted. Not even proper grammar. 

I don’t fault the employee, it’s not her fault. But, I do fault the winery. It’s become the corporation I wish to escape on the weekends, and while I can’t bring back the old days, I can take my money there.

I’ll look back fondly on my Viansa days, and at the same time realize that we all move on. We’ll move on as well – we’re loyal to Lloyd, Kelly, and the  rest of that crew, but we’re done with Viansa. 

Please let me know if you need additional information from me in order to cancel my membership immediately.

Thank you,
Kim

It’s All Fun and Games ’til You Fall Down the Stairs….

Two posts in two days, this must be some sort of new record….

But, you know, there’s never a dull moment and since I’m confined to the couch for awhile (again), I thought I might as well write about it.

The day started out normal enough….enjoyed sleeping in, confirmed that I could keep the rental car while they take a mont to repair Slimer (still waiting to find out who pays for that one…), made plans with a friend to go run…typical Saturday.

Brian and I headed over to the parking lot on the other side of the bridge to meet our friend Ann and run the ninja loop.  I’d heard plenty about the ninja loop, but had never actually run it (this will be important later).  As soon as we got there, we realized there were a lot of people heading up the trail….apparently we chose the same day as the Headlands 100 (and 50 and 75 and marathon).  Go figure, I never run from over there.  We decided to share the trails, everyone was pretty spread out, and we’d be turning off their course shortly.

So, up the hill we went.  I ran into one of the guys I see a lot at the Coastal races – (running the 100 mile, of course!).  I wished him luck and continued along my way up the hill.  I’d forgotten how long that hill actually was.  And then I came to a ‘T’…..hmmmm…..wish I knew the trails that made up the ninja loop.  I’m slow, so of course Brian and Ann were ahead of me.  haha.  I remembered when we were chatting about the trails, someone mentioned SCA.  The sign said SCA was to the right, so I took a guess and off I went.

Of course, I quickly realized I either made a wrong decision or was way behind.  I figured it was the former, and luckily had cell service, so sent off a quick text to let Brian and Ann know I’d see them back at the car in a few hours.  I continued to follow along the race course, getting asked direction at some point.  Really?  You’re going to ask me?  haha….I did have the course map on my phone, but another runner came along that knew the course, so they were all set.

At that point, I googled a map of the ninja loop and realized I was pretty much doing a reverse ninja loop.  I decided to eliminate the portion that drops in to Tennessee Valley so I could make it back to the car before everyone left.  I stayed high and then took Miwok down into Rodeo Valley….from there, I headed over to Rodeo Valley trail and eventually back up to SCA trail (one of my favorites!). SCA would eventually take me back over to the parking lot and back to the car.

And I love running on SCA….it’s not really uphill, it’s not really downhill….very rolling.  And the views, the views are spectacular.  It was everything I had missed about running and more.  I was also back on the race course, so was having fun cheering on the runners as they passed….of course a good number of them told me what a good job I was doing too….haha.  I, of course, didn’t have a bib, but didn’t have time to explain, so smiled, waved, wished them luck, and went with it.

I ran a lot of SCA….so great!!  And then came to some stairs pretty close to where SCA would meet the trail to go back to the bridge.  I’ve marked this area twice, run it far more than that….I KNOW to watch my footing.  I usually walk it…because, well, falling down the stairs would suck.  A LOT.  Today, I ran them.  Maybe because I could…maybe because I want to get over my fear of the technical terrain.  I don’t know.  I remember thinking it would really suck to fall here and I should be careful.  And then….

Trip…SNAP.

Oh…well….ouch.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  I guess luckily there were ropes on the stairs that I could grab on to, so I didn’t completely bust my ass.  But, something snapped.  My good ankle….awesome.  I mean, I had the bad one in a brace.  Barring anything super crazy, that one wasn’t going anywhere.  I just stopped for a minute….held on to the ropes in my little crouched position as I had fallen….and similar to this day, I bounced my foot up and down to make sure it still worked.  Thankfully, it did.  As I got up, I overheard a group of hikers talking….one of them said….’oh look…one fell….’  Yup, yup, I did.  Thanks for noticing.  And I’m good….thanks for asking.  For those who are wondering, yes, I did get up and pass them.

I sent another text to Brian and Ann….’one mile out….fell….walking in’.  And that’s what I did.  Passed multiple hikers (really guys, the busted foot girl is passing you??).  And received a lot of encouragement from passing racers.  You guys rock…and I hope you all have a fabulous race!  I only hope I was half as encouraging to you – especially since you may still be running now, as I sit on my couch with my foot up, enjoying some wine.

I met Brian and Ann at the parking lot and we headed for home.  I mean, it all makes sense….last year, I bust my foot the weekend before we leave for Nepal….this year, I bust my foot the weekend before Tahoe.  Good times…..

At this point, I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong.  However, I have sprained the other ankle multiple times and this feels…different.  It’s not crazy swollen, but the actual ankle (malleolus) is really sore to the touch and starting to bruise.  It also doesn’t really hurt unless I stand on it, move it, or touch it, which I remember the sprains just throbbing.  Again, it’s just different.  I’m not sure if that means good or bad different, but I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday, so will just add this to the list.

Like I said….never a dull moment….and I really just need to live in that bubble Erica suggested last weekend.  But, it was a pretty amazing run before I tanked.  Ugh…stupid stairs.

Thought of the day – I should have just stayed home and drank beer.

Until next time, over and out….

Who Ya Gonna Call…..

So, don’t ever have anyone hit your car….it’s a pain.  Figuratively and literally…..anyway, poor Slimer.

After much back and forth (and a little bit of yelling at the right people), I was able to take Slimer to a shop in the city on Tuesday.  Somehow, I managed to get out of work at the last minute to drop off the car, which was good since it was either that or the week of the 20th.  Which, as I told multiple people at Progressive, was unacceptable.  No, I didn’t know if the car was drivable.  Yes, it did run….however, no, I wasn’t sure that it SHOULD run.

When I got to German Motor Cars, the Progressive Rep met me at the entrance, and I was reminded why I love Progressive.  She was comforting and checked to make sure I was ok, and we walked the car together…..she helped me figure out a rental, the deductible, the other driver – basically all the things I’d been wondering.  She called in a rental while I waited for the German Motor Cars rep.  For the first time in several days, I actually felt ok about the whole thing.

The German Motor Cars rep was fabulous as well.  She checked the car, explained the process, and let me know when I could expect to hear from her.  Then the guy from the rental car place came to get me….it was right around the corner, and I totally could have walked, but I had four different bags and it had to be 85 in the city, which is unheard of.  haha….and he had a full gold mouth grille.  Of course he did…why wouldn’t he.  Keep it classy San Francisco….

I get my rental and I’m on my way.  Great.  Since then, its been radio silence – they told me it might take until Thursday at the latest.  Of course, Thursday I get two messages – one from the mechanic saying I’ll get an email with the repair estimate by the end of the day, and a second from the German Motor Cars rep stating that Progressive is still working on it.  Now, what good is going to come from that??  Ugh…..

Luckily, I heard from them today and they’re able to fix it.  It’s only going to take a month.  REALLY??  Hopefully I can keep the rental that long….or become really good at walking to Redwood City……

In the midst of all this, I headed out on my first work trip – 24 hours in Vegas.  It was….an experience.  On so many levels.  Apparently the conference has changed over the years, and this year was…..a new low?  I don’t know….according to the people who had been before, it was one or two trade show booths that were worth visiting and a bunch of cellphone accessory booths.  Yeah…..I have no words. Or maybe lots of them.  I don’t know.  Again, it was an experience.  It was good to get to know my coworkers a little better, great to attend a meeting with some of them, and also nice to see the dinner we’d been working on come to life.

The best part of it all?  I had a few minutes to go back to my room and get ready for dinner…..I only had the one outfit – a black business dress and a jacket (remember this for a few seconds), so it was pretty much adding some jewelry, re-curling my hair, and touching up my make-up.  So, I do that and head out for the restaurant.  I checked the map of the casino before I left the room so I’d have a fighting chance of getting where I was going (let’s remember how good I am at direction….), and I was in good shape.  Literally, I got off the elevator, stepped into the casino, and had some random dude ask me if I ‘worked’ there.  It took me a minute to understand exactly what was going on, but then…really?  REALLY??  I’m in a business outfit…..god knows I’ve been in Vegas in far more ‘appropriate’ attire, but this is when I’m going to get propositioned….seriously??  Although, if I need to pay for a month of a car rental, I know where I can find a third job….ha!

In better news, Dr. Hal (highly recommend Chiro Medical), taped up what was my good knee and adjusted/cracked everything from my hips up to my shoulders.  Ahhh….best feeling ever.  I’m so excited to get back out on the trails tomorrow.  He thinks he can have me up and running in time for North Face, which is fabulous….so tomorrow, I’m planning to get back out on to those trails for the first time in a long time.  I’ve enjoyed learning about other trails and parks all summer, but the headlands will always be home.  Its been too long since I’ve planned running routes while drinking wine on a Friday…haha….

Ok…until next time….over and out…..

Its Always an Adventure

Every time I think about updating this thing, I come back in and realize its been a month….sometimes more.  And then I realize that it feels like the longest month ever…or the shortest…and that everything and nothing seems to be going on simultaneously.  And I begin to wonder exactly where it is I’m headed and when I’m going to get there….then I remember that if I just keep moving, I’ll eventually be moving forward and get where I’m going.  That New Year’s update I promised, it might end up being a happy 2016 post – its been a hell of a year, friends.

Now that I’m a bit more up and running (literally and figuratively), and having adventures again (or maybe just feel like writing about them), hopefully I’ll be better about blogging.  I do have a 50-miler to start training for, that’s bound to be good for an adventure or two….haha….

Anyway, the past couple weeks have been great personally – seeing friends, getting cleared to run, working races, plans to join the gym, planning the future with Brian….I was so excited for a three day weekend.  I definitely needed it!  Friday, we got lucky and were told to leave the office early (ah-maz-ing).  I had scheduled a nail appointment later in the evening – I finally had to breakdown and find a place in Redwood City since I never back it back to San Francisco before 7 (in time to go to my usual place).  So, I decided to use the extra time to fill up the car for the race the next day and join the gym…and then use the rest of the time to walk and get some miles in.

But, fate had other plans.  I drove down and checked out the gym….and had second thoughts…like maybe I’d check out the other one in Redwood City.  So, I decided to go to the gas station and google the address of the second one while the car was filling.  Unfortunately, the second gym was across town and not convenient from the office at all.  So, I decide to suck it up and join the first one…it’s only a month, anyway.  I finish filling the car and get on the road back to the gym….I’m hanging out at  the stoplight, waiting for the light to change.  There were at least two lanes, maybe three….one was a left turn only lane – this one had its own light.  The arrow for the left turn only lane turned green and BAM!

I’m not really sure what was worse, feeling the impact or hearing the crunching sound.  Unlike when Brian and I got hit at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza, this was not like bumper cars.  It was like a fight…that slimer obviously lost.  I heard the crunching and for a minute, wasn’t really sure what to do next.  First, I pulled over on the corner, and then decided I should probably just pull back into the gas station.  So I did – met the other driver and called the insurance from there.  Somehow, I kept it together while waiting to lose it, but that never happened.  The ‘other guy’ was a giant pick-up truck with what’s apparently called a kangaroo bumper.  Unfortunately, as I thought, slimer was no match for him, but, the driver was nice as we sorted everything out.  The insurance company was great – yay Progressive, and at least that bit was sorted pretty quickly.

Then, then I wasn’t sure what to do.  Brian was I work, so I sent him a text and a few photos….then called my mom.  Cause, well, what else do you do.  After chatting with my parents for a bit, I decided to go to about my business as planned – headed back to the gym to sign up and then to my nail appointment.  I was either going to have a scary drive home now or an hour and a half from now, right?  And with the adrenaline running strong, I didn’t really feel all that sore.

So, with my nails a pretty color, a plan in place to get to the race in the morning, and a double check that my bumper wasn’t going to fall off on the 101, I headed home.  It wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be, though I did have someone run a stop sign in Noe Valley and try to take me out…cause that’s exactly what I needed…..What I did need was to be home, with some wine, and a couch…and a massage – now that the adrenaline was wearing off, I was definitely feeling the soreness.

I woke up the next morning, but not nearly as sore as I thought I might be.  After spending the night
between being terrified that I was going to wake up in a world of hurt and feeling like I was going to
be sick (but in retrospect was probably due to soreness from my abs), I was really afraid for what I might feel like, but other than a few creaks and groans, it wasn’t too bad.

I spent Saturday in the same fashion I’ve spent the past few weekends – adventuring on the trails; as a course marker, sweeper, race photographer, aid station worker, shuttle driver, and everything in between.  Its been so much fun….and, as I said last Sunday, always an adventure.  And really, with as crazy as life has been, Coastal Trails has been my constant and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thankfully, this weekend was a shorter race and there wasn’t any marking or sweeping involved.  Typically, I love marking and sweeping, but it was almost like I’d gotten hit by a truck or something.  Nothing a couple of Advil couldn’t fix, and I think walking around actually helped me loosen up a bit.  And, as always, working the race was a ton of fun….I’m kind of sad that I can’t go back until October.

Yesterday, I decided to officially get back into running and headed over to Mt. Tam with Brian and his friend Ann.  I got in an eight mile summit run and then two miles on some flat ground, because what else would you do when you’ve been cleared to run for a week and you were in a car accident two days prior.  Well, my idea of taking it easy was always different than everyone else’s…anyway, I had so much fun running, and maybe if I add two or five or so miles each week, I’ll be ready for north face…..haha. God help me.

Monday, we hit the gym and then had a BBQ with our friends Sean and Chiara.  Delicious Mac and cheese and steak, and fun drinks and games. Great way to spend Labor Day – can’t wait to head to Tahoe in a couple of weeks.  A mini vacation is going to be amazing.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to sorting out the car nightmare – both the insurance and the actual car.  And its affect on me…I’m not sure I’ve ever looked forward to a visit to the chiropractor more.

Until next time…

Impromptu Chicago Vacation

So today started out as a normal travel day.  Early morning, easy pass through security, lots of seats at the gate.  And then the flight computer was broken….but they started boarding….then they stopped boarding.  We’re checking connecting flights, they said.  Unless you’re going to Reno, don’t worry, they said.  If we leave by 11:30, all connections will be fine, they said.  We were ready to leave by 11:35….

Then something else broke.  Don’t worry, they said – connections are fine.  Here are all the gates for connecting flights…..if we didn’t read your gate, you don’t have a problem, they said.  I never heard Oakland….of course, my first thought was that I mis-calculated the time in flight and the time difference and actually had an hour.  They wouldn’t just forget me, right??  I decided I must have screwed something up, and continued swapping airline horror stories with the couple from Portland that was seated next to me.  Small world – she was from Redwood City (where I just took a job), visiting family in Buffalo.

Once we landed, I knew something was off.  My phone confirmed the time – 12:21….my flight was planned to leave at 12:15.  No email or text stating it was delayed….but, they were holding the Portland and Reno flights….so, maybe I was going to get lucky?  Maybe they just forgot to mention it?

I made a beeline for the flight monitors as soon as I was off the plane: Nashville…Omaha…Orlando….Oakland?  Anybody going to Oakland?  Does my flight exist?  I went to the first gate I saw and asked for help.  Yup, they confirmed that my flight left.  Awesome.  So….what now?  She’s messing with the computer to see when they can get me out….tomorrow 6:20pm.  uhhh….ok.  So, where’s my hotel voucher.  Oh wait, there’s nothing in her email about my flight delay being mechanical, so no voucher for me.  But she gave me a card and I can call the number on the card and they should be able to help me out (never mind there’s no phone number on the card)….she sends me along to the next gate over where there’s a plane headed to San Francisco that I can maybe be standby on.  Great…..

After my somewhat disappointing interaction at the first gate and feeling abandoned by Southwest, I headed over to the San Francisco gate.  No one was there and the jet way door was closed, neither of which was a good sign, so I waited in line at the desk there.  Coincidentally, I get behind another lady trying to get to the bay area.  The guy tells her the same thing the other lady told me, but somehow she got on a flight to San Jose…and I think they’re paying for her cab to Oakland or San Francisco or where ever she’s going.  I also watched them give another guy a food voucher.  Finally, it’s my turn.  I asked the lady if there was a customer service desk at the airport, and once she told me it was her, I handed her the card the previous desk had given me, and explained the situation.  Of course, she tells me the card isn’t going to get me anywhere.  However, her boss (who was helping the other Bay Area passenger) told her if I was on the Buffalo flight to give me the hotel voucher.  So I got that, then asked about food….so she gave me one meal voucher.  Ok, not trying to be difficult, but I have at least five meals (vs. the one I was planning on) between now and 6:20pm tomorrow, which is the next time you can get me out.  She tells me customer service should be able to help me sort that out…based on previous experiences, they are pretty helpful, so I thanked her for her help and went on my way.

Since my food voucher was going to expire today (and I was pretty hungry), I decided to grab a bite before leaving the airport.  Went to Harry Carey’s for a delicious lunch of Chianti and Fettuccine…yum.  Especially yummy since I didn’t know what or when I would be eating next.  

After lunch, I found my way out of the airport – pretty quick when you don’t have any bags – and found the sign for the Midway Hotel Shuttles.  I waited for a few minutes, along with a few others standing in a the general vicinity, but then had a fleeting thought that maybe I needed to call the hotel so they would send the shuttle to come get me.  Did a quick google on the phone and called the Midway Hampton.  Yes, in fact, you do need to call.  The little red bus showed up less than five minutes later (as the lady told me it would) and just about everyone there jumped on it.  Was I the only one who thought to call for it?  How long had these people been waiting before I got there?

Checking into the hotel was pretty painless.  Got a room easily and there’s even free breakfast, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss that tomorrow.  The nice lady at the desk even gave me a toothbrush and found a phone charger in the lost and found for me to borrow.

After getting to my room and figuring out exactly how the key works…of course it’s all it has on it is a picture of kids in a wagon and the caption, ‘backseat driver’, no arrow or anything to indicate how to use it in the door.  I call Southwest to figure out how to get reimbursed for the additional meals and to check and see if there’s another flight they could get me on.  The good news, I can get out at 6am tomorrow….ugh for the earliness, but yay I’ll get home and can take care of the pets.  Of course, they can’t check me in until tomorrow morning, so I’m sure I’ll be at the back of the C’s….goodbye B8….The maybe good news, only customer service at HQ can deal with any meal reimbursements and they aren’t open until Monday.  Ok, I’ll call them tomorrow, last time I called the HQ service people, they were super helpful, but really??  No one else is empowered to do anything in this situation?  Wouldn’t it be easier for the people at the airport to be able to handle it and be done?

Once I was off the phone with the airlines, I took off for Walmart…..the only thing I really needed was a bottle of contact solution.  I mean, I wanted wine and deodorant would be a nice courtesy to the people on the plane tomorrow, but being able to see was the main driver.  So, I headed off to what I believe is the same Walmart Brian and I went to a few summers ago when we were sure we were going to star on the next episode of The First 48.  It looked like it was going to pour (of course, I’d get my storm now…) and at some point, raindrops did start falling.  At that point I started jogging, thank you knee for holding up during that one, but the rain held off.  It even held off for me to get back to the hotel, despite the people in front of me having the poor cashier price check all 30 of their items.  All in all, a successful trip….contact solution, wine, and deodorant.  And there was a Subway in the Walmart, so I have a sandwich for later.  

Shortly after returning to my room, I realize that while I have procured a bottle of wine, I have no way to open it.  So, being the tech savvy person I am, I look on google for ways to open a bottle of wine without an opener.  Use a knife….yup, definitely don’t have that.  Put it in a shoe and bang it against a wall…hmmm, probably not the best idea in a hotel.  Use a key….ahhh, yes, I have a few of those I don’t use.  I’ve been looking for a use for that old desk key anyway….So I try that.  And break the key.  And possibly my shoulder.  So I try another key.  Not getting very far.  I briefly consider asking the front desk, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a wine opener and have already lent me a phone charger.  So, I decide to head out on another adventure to find a wine opener, there has to be a convenience store nearby that’s closer and less sketchy of walk than Walmart, right?

So, I head out.  Somehow, the rain has held off or blown over or is probably waiting to either disturb my sleep or impede on my travel tomorrow morning.  I decide to head the opposite way of Walmart, since it looks like there are signs of life down that way as well and what looks like a liquor store on the next block.  Liquor store – sweet – they have to have a wine opener, right?  Sure, they probably did….back in 1990 before they closed.  As I get closer, I realize it’s nothing more than an abandoned building with nothing left but the awning.  A block further, there’s a Continental Sales – Lots for Less – Food, Household Goods, and More, on the corner.  That sounds promising.  A bit sketch, but promising.  And oh what a place that was….kind of like if a grocery store and a TJMaxx had a baby, this place would be it.  But, they did have a $.75 wine opener.  Score.  And, it works pretty well, I’m a little sad I have to leave it, but am pretty sure it’s not allowed on the plane.  haha.

Alright, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that I’m at a hotel instead of the airport and for less than $10 have food and beverages for the evening….I mean, who doesn’t love wine in a paper cup and a sandwich from a Walmart Subway?  And Southwest, well, at the end of this you’re either going to be the prime example of customer service or the bain of my existence….only time will tell.

Until next time (hopefully from home)….over and out.

Tales of a Platelet Injection

So, the saga of the busted knee continues….at the time of this update, I was hoping that once I had crossed prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, my knee would be fixed.  Unfortunately, after an additional round of both prolo and ozone, the knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be.  I didn’t have too many problems hiking…or running (after I decided to see what would happen if I just went out and did it).

I spent some more time in PT and the doctor continued to check it with the ultrasound.  The good news, the strain went away for the most part, other than in the quad.  The bad news, there was still a dark spot on the meniscus, which could be a tear after all.  Awesome.  Maybe that run wasn’t the best idea.  So, I tried some more PT…and continued to hike without issue….unless I stepped sideways (think trying to catch a door and hold it open with your foot or kicking a soccer ball).  And for some reason, the doctor was always able to mimic that….haha.

Anyway, after two rounds of prolo, I was left with two options – surgery or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections.  Since I was nowhere near ready to let someone operate on it (I’d have to pretty much be unable to walk before that happens), I opted for the PRP injections.  Since there was still some strain in my quad and a couple of other places, my doctor also recommended some additional prolo injections at the same time.

I scheduled the procedure for later that week – a day after my in person interview, two days before I had to get on a place to New York, and in plenty of time to heal before working the next trail race.  Due to the timing (injections two days away), I had to start preparing right away.  Drink lots of water (two nalgene bottles on the day of)….no alcohol for two days before or five days after.  No OTC pain relievers (NSAIDS).  Ok, I can do that……I may or may not have snuck a cup of spiked tea in there somewhere…..

I was told (and read) that I would be more sore after these injections and I wouldn’t be able drive after these injections (not that I tried to drive after the last ones either).  Due to that, I took the bus over to the office.  Shorts on Muni….ewww….should have planned that one better.

While the prolo injections were a sugar water-type substance, PRP is an injection of your own platelets into the joint, so I had to come in an hour early for the blood draw.  The blood is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the plasma and red blood cells.  The drawing was done with a giant syringe, which was a creepy thought, especially when I saw the syringe.  However, it was quite painless in reality.  I didn’t watch, just read and re-read the diploma on the wall.  haha.  The nurses asked if I needed anything or wanted water once it was done.  I had some with me, so drank the rest of that and munched on some cookies while I waited for the platelets to be spun out.      

Similar to the prolo injections, the procedure was pretty easy and painless for the twelvish injections. He started with the prolo (after the anesthetic) and then moved on to the platelets.  It felt a lot like the first two rounds….pressure and fullness.  He had the ultrasound facing me, so I could watch the stuff going in, but after seeing that once decided it was weird and just looked at the ceiling.  He had to tap the bone(s) to get the platelets to activate….weird….and ouch.  At some point, the platelets clotted, so he had to stop, fix the shot, and then carry on.  That was weird…and then something (meniscus maybe) did some weird vibrating thing – apparently that was supposed to happen.

Knee was once again full and all sorts of swollen.  Not nearly as numb as the first two times, unfortunately.  This one started to ache almost immediately.  However, I was able to hobble out, pay my bill, and call an Uber.  I think my Uber ride may have been a more harrowing experience than the injections.  Driver spent the entire ride talking about how careful he needed to be….never mind the red light he ran.  He was also really pre-occupied with picking up someone else, even though they had canceled the request.  Luckily, we arrived at Walgreens without issue.

I filled my prescription….hooray for the good drugs.  haha.  And had a friend pick me up, since I decided walking the quarter mile home would be a bad idea.  By the time I got home, it had already started to bruise, along with swell.  Ouch, and gross, but that meant it was working, right?  It also made a far more disgusting liquidy, squishing, sound when it was bent.

The next morning (and subsequent couple of days) it was far more sore than it had been with the past injections, I was pretty much hobbling…as long as it didn’t bend, it was ok.  Which was fine, as long as I wasn’t trying to walk.  So, I kept that to a minimum, and spent most of the day resting….and took a doctor’s ordered nap.  Flying wasn’t too bad, I wore running pants and took the meds and got more rest.  As the days wore on, the swelling went down and the bruising is just about gone now.  Here’s to hoping it worked and I’ll be back to running ASAP.    

Over and out, until next time….

Thinking of Nepal

One year ago today, I was on a plane to Korea – final destination, Kathmandu, Nepal and the trek of a life-time.  Today, I woke up to text messages and emails about a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hitting the region.  To put it in perspective, the Loma Prieta, the ’89 earthquake that hit San Francisco, was a 6.9.  The Napa quake that caused quite a bit of damage late last year was a 6.0.  A 7.8 in California would do a lot of damage….in Nepal, it’s been catastrophic.
I took the below photo on our first day out and about.  We’d just finished touring our first Durbar Square (basically the word for palace in Nepal) and were enjoying lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  I took the photo because I liked watching the people in the street below….and there was just something about the multi-colored building across the way.
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I found this picture of the same area online this morning.  I recognized the colored building right away.  However, most everything else, including the building I was standing on it seems, is gone.

photo credit: http://time.com/3835621/nepal-earthquake-pictures/

It’s unsettling to know that many, if not all, of the historical places I visited around Kathmandu are gone, if not forever changed.  From the first day exploring Kathmandu on a seven mile walk to the tour we took with Ron Jon (totally not how it’s supposed to be spelled, but that’s how I remember it ;)), all of those would be completely different if we took them this year….if that would even be possible now.

And that was before the trek even started.  I read an article somewhere that said the small villages were 80% damaged.  I tried to look for further information, but was unable to find any.  Not really surprising….communication and internet and phone were difficult enough to come by during normal times, I can’t imagine now.  Are the lodges we stayed in still standing….in any sort of shape that’s reparable?  Are the people who showed us nothing but kindness safe?  I can’t help but think of the woman who ran the lodge at Lobuche and knitted wool hats to sell as souvenirs.  She had a horse for rent and let me charge all of my electronic gadgets for the hourly fee, even though they ran over the hour.  Or Namche….what of the bartender who served celebratory beers on the way down, who had moved from Queens, NY, after her Sherpa husband.  And the souvenir shop owners who sold us most of our gifts….and told us we could store it in our guide’s house while we were trekking….haha.  I can only hope that they’re all safe and able to repair their homes and businesses.

And that’s not saying anything of the guides, porters, and kitchen boys who were with us every step of the way.  From the ‘sherpa saunas’ to clear my congestion to a hand up to the top of Kala Patthar to all twenty-some of them rushing out to say goodbye as we made one last trek to the Lukla airport, nothing was overlooked and they always made sure we had exactly what we needed.  I can only hope, pray, and send positive thoughts that they and their families are safe.

We’ve reached out via email, but haven’t heard back yet.  Of course, internet will be very difficult to come by, and they’re trekking with a group, so I’m sure have lots to sort out with their current group.  One of my fellow trekkers checked the site, and we think the schedule puts them somewhere near Gorak Shep, the highest point of the trek.  Hopefully it was Kala Patthar day and they would have been heading back down at the time of the quake.

All the places I’ve traveled have been special to me.  Nepal, first because of the people and second because of the history.  Never have I been somewhere that just about everyone treated you like one of their own.  I hope that they are able to rebuild and that people continue to travel there, because it truly was a life-changing experience.

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Respect the Limp

Well, I can cross prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, and hopefully fix my knee once and for all.

After hurting my knee during this race, I’ve spent the past four months trying to heal via rest and PT, but it didn’t seem to be getting there. It got better, but was never really where I wanted it to be. At this point, the doctor thought the pain might be caused by a tear, so I had three options – prolotherapy and ozone, platelet injection, or surgery. I opted for an MRI so I’d know what I was really dealing with and learned that nothing was torn – yay!  Based on that, I was advised to go the less expensive, less painful, and less recovery time route of prolotherapy. And now my iPad recognizes prolotherapy as a word….haha. But, I digress…..

Prolotherapy is an injection of basically sugar water into an area with limited blood supply to cause irritation and increase the blood supply, thus improving the tissue’s ability to heal on its own. He also advised ozone…..some sort of oxygen substance.

Having had cortisone injections in the past, I was a little nervous about how it might feel after….cortisone was all well and good until the numbing agent wore off and then BAM – worst pain ever. However, I was assured this would be very different.

The procedure itself was pretty easy and painless for getting nine or so shots. The only ones that really hurt were the numbing ones. The first one caused some weird muscle reflex/jerking thing, which was odd and a little freaky. He asked what happened and I really wasn’t sure. Once I was numb, it wasn’t too bad….felt a lot like jello running through my veins if you can imagine. What that feels like.  And some pressure and a feeling of fullnessas it went on, but that’s about it. Three shots later and the inside was done. On to the front.  That part was….weird. Really weird.  And it was right on the side of the tibia, so I could feel most of it. Felt kind of like lava running down my bone. Ouch. But, luckily short lived. There was another shot that had to be jostled or something to get the muscle firing. Also weird. Then on to the quad.  Not bad at all once it was numb. And then it was over.

Knee felt full and was all sorts of oddly swollen. Almost like a smaller version of what happened at the race. Walking was interesting since half of my leg was numb…..doctor told me to respect the limp and go slow. Haha….after a stop at Walgreens to get the pain killers and Safeway to get some chicken – I was told to eat protein and not carbs, so my Friday night go-to of pasta was a no go, it was home to rest and let the healing begin.

Now, it looks far less deformed and is a little more achy.  And my leg muscles are softly quaking….it’s weird, but not awful and hopefully that means the stuff is working. I just hope it stops before bedtime.

For now, I’m excited to relax and watch the Red Sox, and sleep in for the first time in as long as I can remember. Though, I do wish I was heading out for a run or to volunteer tomorrow, I think I could use the rest.

Over and out….