Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drool Worthy

I went with The Colleague to Road Runner Sports today to get her outfitted for the 3-Day Save The Boobs Walk. While she was trying things on, I took the opportunity to check out the new Brooks T5 Racer. Yum.

I'm saving my pennies. There's still time to save the needed funds and get one short race on them before the Seattle 26.2! Right?

And yes, I do have a shoe problem.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Feels Like Summer Might Be Over...

A lot has happened since my last entry here. Our Southwest Swing is over, our move is complete, the kids are gearing up to go back to their respective publicly funded learning factories, I signed up for my first race of the new training season...It's a busy time. Let's get started.

Road Trip!
SuperVan rolled up 3,335 miles on our last trip. Seattle to Boise to Sedona to Pasadena to Portland to Seattle with stops along the way in Malibu, Santa Barbara, and other places it wouldn't suck to live. Conclusions: I don't want to live in Sedona. I could handle living in Pasadena (that place might just be a runner's paradise with its wide sidewalks, gentle sloping hills, shade trees...I have to stop now before I start crying).

I understand why someone would live in Malibu (of course the money it would take to live in the home of the friend we visited would make living anywhere pretty tolerable), and I definitely get the Santa Barbara vibe. But I think I'll stick with Seattle for now, thanks. It is still relatively affordable (unlike Santa Barbara) and it isn't in danger of falling into the sea or being engulfed in a wind-driven inferno any time soon...

Our trip ended with an open-air Jack Johnson concert outside of Portland. And while the show was a good one, seeing him at Kokua Festival in Waikiki pretty much ruined us for any other concert experience. The people in Portland just didn't seem to get the idea. Chill out, folks.

I don't really care for Portland all that much. There. I said it.

If You Lived Here, You'd Be in My House Now
After 2 years of rental living to start our respective second lives, The Colleague and I swooped into the depressed housing market and lowballed a motivated seller into giving us a house. So we packed up the Palace and had three dudes move everything 5 miles west to the top of ANOTHER F-ING HILL. Welcome to the Shack. We're staying here for a while.

Buying an older house is always an adventure in other people's stupidity. As a general rule, most homeowners should NOT be allowed to own tools or to attempt remodeling projects on their own. It is customary, for example, to remove the appliances before re-tiling a kitchen. Who is so lazy that they leave the appliances in place and cut the tile around them? Oh, the previous owners of this house. Right.

In the Shack, GVB and The Colleague each have their own offices and all of the kids have bedrooms on the same floor. We got central heating, and we're alright. Ya Ya Ya. Come on over. Bring wine.

Train This
So back to this hill we live on. Shit. The Palace was at the top of a hill that gave me three or four running options. I could do the 3 mile loop on the hill and stay level, or I could go down to the valley at three different spots. Options. It still always sucked to have to come back up, but I had options. I like options. The Shack leaves me with only two options. Down our street (3/4 mile to the Burke Gilman Trail, by the way), or down the hill on the other side of the neighborhood, which is a 1.5 mile detour. Sigh. One compelling reason to take the back door route is that there is a neighbor 5 doors down that I really don't care for, and I wouldn't put it past him to run me over if he sees me running up the hill. Another compelling reason is that the hill really is steep. Brutal steep. 11 minute pace steep. Walk the bike steep.

Anyway, I'm officially on the training train for the Seattle Marathon. November 30th. Portland is too soon (though Cap'n Ron is still planning on limping the course on a broken leg and no training) and frankly, a weekend in Portland is just too expensive. The idea of sleeping in my own bed the night before a race is very appealing to me. The Seattle course is pretty rough (2 out and back sections and a nasty climb near the end) but I'll see what I can do. Who's in? Come on...

Up next is the Super Jock and Jill Half Marathon in Woodinville. Any race that begins and ends at the Redhood Brewery is just fine with me. I set a PR at this race last year, but I'm nowhere near ready to try for that again. Just going out for an 8:00 pace and using it as my first double-digit run of the season. We'll see.

Mr. Obama, Will You Please Be My President?

The Colleague and I watched the Democratic National Convention last night. Can we please just get Obama in office now and get on with it? Isn't it obvious? Please? Be my president. Please?

Then we wake up to find that McCain (who celebrates his 72 birthday today) has chosen...who? The Governor of Alaska as his running mate? What?

And then this story hits: GOP Says Hurricane May Delay Convention

New Orleans is Screwed
Karl Rove says the GOP "can't catch a break" when it comes to the weather. Hmmm. Maybe it's because the weather, which you can't control, is highlighting how stupid you are. McCain wants to expand oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (meanwhile, Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on the existing oil platforms in the Gulf, which are being evacuated, and oil prices are climbing in anticipation of the production slowdown). McCain wants to focus on foreign relations and military experience abroad (meanwhile, Gustav is set to clobber New Orleans in a reminder of how utterly broken the GOP's domestic policies are).

So how can we spin this one? I know, let's postpone the convention and over-compensate for Katrina by lavishing the 300 people left in New Orleans with attention. Of course, if the storm doesn't hit a major city, screw 'em. On with the convention!

One does wonder, if New Orleans gets hit again this soon after Katrina, does that increase the chances of the NBA leaving New Orleans to return to Seattle? Hmmmm.

Welcome to the LPGA. Speak English.
The LPGA has announced that it will require all players to speak English by 2010. What? They claim this is for the players' own benefit. In Pro-Am events, they say, it is important for the players to be able to communicate with sponsors. How very progressive of you.

College Football Season Begins
And GVB is nervous for his Huskies. Very nervous.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The Seattle Marathon is Sunday, November 30th.

I haven't even tried to run once in the last month.

Rumor has it one should train before running a 26.2 mile race.

Since you have to start somewhere, I started at the front door of our vacation condo in Sedona, Arizona.

Some variables for you:

1. I haven't run a single step in a month.
2. Sedona is roughly 4,600 feet above sea level.
3. I live more or less at sea level.
4. Today's high temperature in Sedona was 99 degrees.

The sum of variables 1-4 is a really shitty first run of the training season. 4 miles with a lot of hills and some seriously nice slickrock trails.

The conclusion of this research is that I have a LONG way to go before I'm close to ready for the Seattle 26.2. And if I am seriously going to try for my Boston Qualifier in May at Vancouver, I need to put some miles together and get things in shape again.

Since today didn't kill me I'll try again tomorrow and add a couple of miles. With luck I'll get out before the temperature hits 100.

At the end of the week we'll be in Pasadena, where I'll try to get in a couple of long-ish days, so that by the time we get home from this trip I'll be back in the swing of things. In theory.

Other things I learned today:
•4 bedrooms with a view in Sedona will run you $1,000,000. Now, I don't know about you, but $1,000,000 seems excessive for an adobe in a forest fire zone. Without a pool. Why doesn't anyone around here have pools?
•Sometimes other people's kids are a serious pain in the ass. I'd say 90% of the time.
•I'm a fan of a full night's sleep.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

South by West - Part Two

It isn't a mystery to anyone who glances at this blog that I have more or less given up running in favor of endless bouts of leisure and relaxation, punctuated only by air and sea travel. But with the Seattle Marathon on the horizon (Thanksgiving weekend) it's time to get back on the road and build up some miles.

Today I scouted out several good routes around our current location in Sedona, Arizona. A nice 5 miler tomorrow morning ought to get me back on the road in style.

On my scouting walk today I learned some things.

1. The only people who live in Sedona are very restless retirees from northern cities and totally fried hippies who aren't even really sure they live here. It's a scary combination, especially on the roads. I also encountered one resident who was a deadly combination of burned out hippie AND northern city retiree. She stared at me from behind the wheel of her Jetta with the sort of fixation that either said "I think I remember you from a past life" or "you seem threatening to me and I might run you down." I casually stepped into the gutter to avoid whatever was going to happen next.

2. If you cover your doublewide with Stucco you can turn white trash into desert white trash. Adding a wagon wheel or cow skull to the fence is the finishing touch.

3. No one really wants to live here. They think they do, but they wish they had made another choice. It's in the eyes. Everyone here looks like they are begging to be adopted and taken to a better life with less heat and fewer poisonous animals and plants.

4. The staff at the Wyndham Sedona is wildly incompetent. Luckily they are also rude.

5. Whoever designed the above mentioned resort had no training in traffic flow or pedestrian tendencies. No sidewalks connect to anything, and all of the natural flow of the place goes right through plantings and rockeries, almost all of which have signs that say "Please don't climb on Red Rock." Well, assholes, people climb on the rocks because it is the shortest path to your pool.

6. I also found the brewery. But that's my little secret.

Monday, August 11, 2008

South by West - Part One

The Colleague and I returned from Belize and stayed home for a week, during which we had our water heater and furnace replaced at the new casa, hung out with the kids, and packed SuperVan for a trip south.

Destination 1: Sedona, Arizona. A week of heat and beer and pool water in the mountains north of Phoenix. 21 hours of driving interrupted by a failed camping attempt and a super fantastic hotel room in Boise, ID.

SuperVan is up to the challenge. 1300 miles into the trip and she's happy as could be.

Cheapest gas: $3.89/gal. Most expensive gas: $4.29/gal.

More later.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Belize It. Wherein GVB Babbles About Travel, People, Food, Drink, and Books.

So, Belize doesn't suck. I'll give it that. The Colleague and I are back from 15 days on land and sea in what I can only imagine is the coolest, friendliest Central American country there is. The stories are endless, of course, but my patience for writing them out and is not. So here are some pictures:

Hotel Mopan in Belize City. If you want to watch "Police Academy" in a dark bar and drink warm Belikin beer, this is the place.

Speaking of Belikin Beer, here it is. The ONLY beer in Belize. So even though it isn't good, it's the best beer in the world.

Public Transportation in Orange Walk, Belize. Wherein GVB pissed off locals by keeping his window down. Apparently the hotter the inside of the bus is, the happier people are. This particular bus took us from Orange Walk to Corozal.

For some reason related to tropical heat and sleep deprivation, we thought this was hilarious.

Apparently the Mayans built some huge temples in the jungle. Not pictured: bugs the size of small aircraft.

Caye Caulker is a tourist nightmare, but if I have to suffer through a day or two with a private beachfront cabana and the only pool on the island, I guess that's ok...

Welcome to Placencia, where the streets are sidewalks and the people like their signs.

And then we got on this boat with The Colleague's family. This is a big ass boat. 47 feet long and at least as wide. It sailed like a shipping container with a stick coming out of it, but it had air conditioning and 600 gallons of water, which we went through in 3 days. It was comfortable though. I'll give it that.

Did me a lot of reading on this trip. Here I am reading "Thunderstruck" by Erik Larson. Maybe someday I'll make a list of what The Colleague and I have read this summer with some reviews. Maybe. What I have decided is that most writers can't sustain a good book through the end. I haven't read a book that was consistently good from beginning to end all summer. "Exit A" by Anthony Swofford came close and is so far my fave of the summer...

Oh yeah, Belikin. There was some of that on the boat as well. 12 cases to be precise. Most sailors worry about running out of fuel, water, or food. We ran out of beer. It was about this time that The Colleague swore she would never touch another Belikin again.

I've seen worse anchorages. This is Tabacco Caye, the local economy of which is apparently based on the frequent discovery of Colombian cocaine washing up on the reef. I believe this was the first night of charades on the foredeck, during which I had the pleasure of acting out obscure 1960's movie titles. Thanks Colleague's Dad!

After a week of almost not grounding the boat, we made our way inland to Maya Mountain Lodge. People there are too nice for their own good and the cabanas, as you can see, suck.

Go to Belize. And be ready to answer the following question every time you meet a local: "You want some weed, man?"