Two Week’s Notice

Sutter Creek Volcano Loop

Sutter Creek Volcano Loop

S. took a job in New York City so we are moving east.  I have lived in Pennsylvania, Indiana, California, Alaska and Washington State.   Mustn’t forget Paris, France.

We’re in the process of packing all of our worldly possessions and I ask myself how the hell we ended up with so much crap?  One purchase at a time, I guess.  Boxing it all up is daunting in part because of the sheer mass of stuff and in part because we don’t have a place to live!

Not yet anyway.  The plan?  We do have one.  Find a pet friendly place in Brooklyn this weekend.  Because we move in two weeks.  Thursday night I take a red eye to NYC where I meet up with Suzanne.  We have a few appointments scheduled and sweet jaysus do we need to find a new home.  It’s not quite that desperate but there is a bit of a time crunch.

The bike is packed and I’ll be unemployed, but we’re about to start a brand new adventure!

For now, I’m enjoying my last seven days of my job and I’m giving California two week’s notice.  For now.

I’ll be back.

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No Hands Bridge

Doe at Placer High, Auburn

Doe at Placer High, Auburn

Sacramento, California is not what I think of when I imagine a city, but it has its share of urban problems in a sprawling, strip mall, tree-lined, pancake flat setting.  When the feel of cement underfoot becomes too great, I itch to get out in the woods.  It was easy in Seattle, because I knew the area and in the city were fantastic parks such as Discovery Park, Seward Park, Interlaken Park and more.  Dirt and trees were accessible and near by.  Nearly three years ago, I moved to Sacramento and I have yet to discover what the area has to offer.

This summer I joined the Fleet Feet Sacramento trail running training group.  Two times a week we trudge and shuffle through the foothills; we kick up dirt,  stumble, walk, suck down water and electrolytes, and weave our way through single track, root and rock-laden trails.   

If you have met an ultra runner, no, if you have actually talked to an ultra runner about their love of running, it is easy to recognize that there is something unique and special about the runner and the feat.  If you follow ultra running, you must know about the Western States Endurance Run http://ws100.com/home.html.  Maybe you have run it, and if you have, all I gotta’ say is wow.

In the past, I scoffed at the idea of  running a distance greater than a 10k.  I began running when I was a kid because my Mom thought cross country running with the Catholic Church team was a good idea.  And so I went.  At age 10, I learned that distance running requires patience, pacing and the ability to change how I thought about running.  My older sister shares my love of running, and she has been kicking my butt on the road and on the trails ever since I remember.  In the 80′s I bought Jeff Galloway’s book, Marathon; it was one of the few books on running available at the time and that book traveled with me through Alaska and Europe. 

I moved up in distance to a half marathon in 1998 and since I didn’t know much about training and more importantly, recovery, by the end of the race I was happy and frankly, kind of burnt out. But that didn’t stop me.

I have found that life has few certainties, but as long as I am able I plan to be a runner.  I do not care much about speed or placing at the top of  my age group. 

Running reminds me of how fragile our bodies are and most runs, I thank my lucky stars that I am able to run. 

When I moved to Sacramento, I decided to train for triathlons and lose the extra 15 or so pounds I had been lugging around.  I began to train, to lose weight, to monitor my diet and track my progress.  I love to train. I love the periodization, the science, the focus and intensity, goal setting, achievement. 

When I trained for my first marathon in 2007, I did it with the help of Jeff Galloway’s books and guidance.  I put in many miles and long runs on my own.  I ran a mile and walked a minute and was excited that I had no idea what my ultimate time would be.  That not knowing part is enjoyable to me; no matter how much I train, eat right, drink, come race day it’s all a crap shoot.  No matter how much preparation, it all comes down to that one moment. 

I decided to join Fleet Feet’s marathon training group and run the 2008 CIM (California International Marathon).  I met some incredible people and the second marathon was much, much easier.  Never thought I’d say that about a marathon!  I felt strong and healthy and came away with a friend or two.

The coaches at Fleet Feet are pretty awesome. I just signed up for my second CIM training and will have the pleasure of training with Coach Bob and Coach Terry.  The training program starts this weekend!

Speaking of coaches,  the current trail running coaches, Moe and Tim, are out of this world.  I forgot to mention that Coach Tim is actually Tim Twietmeyer, who completed the Western States Endurance run in under 24 hours, 25 times!  He won it five times and if you want to know more about him check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Twietmeyer.  He’s laid back, kind and a great coach.  I had no idea who we were running with until someone clued me in a couple weeks ago. 

Post Run Dirty Shoes

Post Run Dirty Shoes

I’m lucky enough to have fantastic coaches and to live in a beautiful part of the country with abundant sunshine.  Sunday I ran from Placer High in Auburn, into the Stage Coach area.  1500′ of descending brought me down to a river ripe with swimming holes, and back to a single track, switchback climb out of the canyon. I made it to the last part of the Western States Trail, the final two miles before the ultra runners complete 100 miles.  I walked because honestly, I was about to puke in the 90+ degree heat.  

On my way into the valley, I saw an antlered, young deer.  He stood so still, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real. I stopped in my tracks, took a couple of steps back, and we gazed at each other. When his head moved, I caught my breath because he was gorgeous. I am such a city person!  After the run, I cooled off with some strides and beverages.  Noise from the bushes behind me were faint, and when I turned I saw the doe pictured above. It is not easy to see her in the photo above, but she stood about 15 feet away and ate her supper. 

I am still pleasantly sore from my run.  The soreness reminds me just how fantastic it is to be alive and healthy.

What a beautiful way to start the morning.

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Everything Reminds Me of My Dog

Coco Dog Park June 10 2009

Coco Dog Park June 10 2009

Last night after work we took the pug and the Frenchie to the new midtown dog park, on 28th and C streets, just on the other side of the railroad tracks.  The park opened a few weeks ago and is divided into two sections; one for small dogs under 25 lbs. and the other for dogs 25 lbs. and up.

I’m afraid to say that the 11-month old puppy to the left is about 25 lbs, if I had to guess. She certainly could eat her weight in kibble if given the opportunity.  Hence the reason why we continue to “puppy proof” and monitor food intake.

Yes, the vet keeps telling us she’s, ahem, fat.  Rotund.  A butterball.

If you’ve never been to a dog park, and you’re a dog lover, you are missing out.  For real. The dogs have a blast and for us human types,  stress melts away as the dogs run, chase, wrestle, clown around and mouth tennis balls.

Coco the Frenchie is my second dog. She is officially a mixed breed dog and as far as I know, she is mostly French Bulldog with a little Bulldog thrown in.  She is short, stout, compact, jowly, sweet, sweet, sweet, food obsessed, gassy, loving, and mellow.  She is the epitome of lap dog and for me, it has been an adjustment. I went from big dog, tennis ball lover to a squatty-body puppy with a nose for treats.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself lucky to live in a place where I can have one dog, much less two.  And Coco? She came practically potty trained and is a proficient cat/dog door user.

Coco is a “Bossy Bully” (http://www.bossybully.com/) who comes from a breeder in southern Washington state.  Darlene, the owner, was kind enough to deliver Coco to the Portland Airport last fall.  I met Darlene, her family and Coco in the lobby, exchanged money for the puppy, tried my darndest to listen to instructions and was back on the return flight plane to Sacramento before I knew it.  This time, my carry-on was a small, tan, 8-week old puppy in the storage area beneath my feet. Check this out:

Coco PDX Airport Fall 2008

Coco PDX Airport Fall 2008

I guess you could call this post my ode to dogs, because you see, Coco was not my first dog, as I mentioned.  Cody aka Codygirl, the beautiful Golden, lived to be one month shy of her 15th birthday.  Not bad for a three-legged, arthritic (stinky), pooch.

Cody

Cody

This pose hides the fact that one of her rear legs was missing.  She lived 4 years without that rear leg and amazed me everyday she did it.  Living with a senior dog is pretty incredible.  Cody was all smiles when she wasn’t just waking up from a long, long nap.

It was about a year ago that I made the decision.  Don’t let anybody fool you, the dogs don’t make it easy on you. I waited for the “message” and the time “I’d just know”.  Honestly, it could have happened sooner, or later.  The not-knowing was agonizing because there really isn’t a right time.  I always thought there would be, but I was wrong.

In this case, the old girl was having problems keeping herself up when eliminating.  One day I saw it,  the next morning I called the vet and she talked me through it.  Yes, it was time and she assured me it was the right thing to do.  We scheduled it for the next morning. I didn’t want to put it off,  to use a harness or diapers and to prolong the inevitable. I don’t know about you, but I believe dogs have dignity and us humans have a responsibility to make hard decisions about their well being, even when we don’t want to.  I owed it to Cody to find the time that wasn’t too soon, and wasn’t too late.

When we set the time, I hung up the phone and cried. I have never cried that hard.  I had just 24-hours to bury my nose in her neck, to smell her ears, scratch the knob on the top of her head and look into those sweet brown eyes.

If you want a fabulous vet in Sacramento who does house calls, you need to call Dr. Nancy Weagly because she’s the best.  She came over and if ever there was peace, it was during  those last few moments as Codygirl drifted off.

Once more, Cody taught me a lesson about life, love and loss.  And the aches and pains were no more.

After years of carrying her up and down stairs, administering medications and all the waiting, it seems fitting that we were introduced to a healthy, squatty, friendly, incredibly well socialized puppy called Coco.

It is easy to love her.  She runs pain free, jumps fearlessly, plays and enjoys each moment.  The future is full of possibilities for this magical little puppy who seems to make even the curmudgeons smile.  She is a lovelove doggy.

cocokai-june-10-2009

cocokai-june-10-2009

Here’s to you, Coco McBride.  And Codygirl, I love you to pieces.

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Are you thinking what I’m thinking?


Even when all signs point to “It won’t happen!”, when word comes down that it really is not going to happen, it’s still disappointing.  I’m smart enough to know what a privilege it is to hold down  a solid job with decent pay and good benefits.  I’ve worked in some heinous work environments.

In fact, S. often jokes that there isn’t a job out there that I haven’t had.

I started lining soccer fields weekends at age 9.  I house sat, pet set and baby sat during my tweens and teens. Did “yard work; I was solely responsible for killing many of the gardens in my neighborhood.

I worked concessions and did scorekeeping at the ball park during high school summers. Stood on my feet at a donut shop, Taco Bell, a bakery, McDonald’s, two 7-11′s, four pizza places.

Sat on my arse as  a switchboard operator; the old fashioned-kind with lots of plugs and cords and holes that connected to mysterious far off places and some very impatient people.

I drove a forklift on a southeast Alaskan island. Drove my pickup and threw freight.  Worked as a do anything  human resources-type for a fishing company.

Was hit by three cars as a Seattle bike messenger.

Struggled to decipher voicemail messages from disgruntled Quebecois lessees as an insurance claims technician.

Worked at a video store that I just know was a front for something else.

Mercedes-Benz offers a concierge service to its credit card holders. You guessed it, I took the calls.  Anything from travel information s to “is there a drinking fountain for my cat” requests.  Then came the calls from the poor underinsured motorists in Appalachia whose cars were “hit” by deer.  No, I’m sorry but you don’t have rental car coverage.  Fun, fun.

Next came coffee.  Starbucks wasn’t a bad place to work back in the day before they grew to 100+ stores, before they went public.  They were still considered a specialty coffee company with quality coffee.

I poured mean shots alongside talented baristas at Batdorf & Bronson Coffee (http://batdorfcoffee.com/) in Olympia, WA.  Never could pull off a nice rosette, however.  Still haven’t gotten over that one.

Rosette

Rosette

Worked as a counselor at a community college and university.

Spent a summer doing graveyard shifts at a group home for youth.

Graduate school at Antioch University, Seattle came and went in a flash.  One M.A. in psychology, thank you very much.

Two years of intensive in-home therapy cured me of my desire to have the opportunity to “meet the client where they’re at”.  Too much information and frankly, a tad too invasive for my tastes.

Back to the news…

Licensure.  I need to get licensed down here and in order to do that I need to switch jobs.  Why?  Because the news at the beginning of the post – the bad news…it came. There’s a slim chance (aka none) that I can accrue hours at my current place of employment for a variety of reasons that I do not plan to share.  Consider yourself lucky.

This discomfort, this continued sense called  ”not arrived”, is it something that will up and vanish one day or will it linger, fester, grow to be insurmountable and unbearable?

Looking for a lower paying, at times frightening job with less benefits in a less than desirable work location?

Now, that Dr. Freud, is n-u-t-s.

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Psst, Hey You Drop the Sammich

Squirrel

Squirrel

I have this squirrel thing, see.  They approach me, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes not.

There was the time I took off for an afternoon run.  It was a beautifully sunny day in Seattle, and everyone knows you have to get outside on nice days in the northwest.  The driveway into our complex sloped downward and on either side were steep cement-walled garden beds. As I turned onto the sidewalk, I saw something to my left. Instinctively, I raised my arms to shield my eyes.  Impact.  Fur. Chaos.

The unsuspecting squirrel launched itself from the flower bed, onto my left forearm, where it bounced against my ribs, slid down my left leg as I was in mid-stride and was propelled into the grass at my feet.  It scared the bejeezus out of me and what did I do? Jump.  Try to shake it off me. And I screamed.  Nice.  In that neighborhood, it was especially nice to be a shrieking, jumping man in snug-fitting shorts screaming “Get off me!”

Have you ever seen a pissed off squirrel?  Endured the squawking and profanity of it all?  I mean, it’s a cute little critter but when threatened, the squirrel is capable of great cruelty.  This squirrel gave me a piece of its mind.

Spring semester is behind us now and without students, the quest for people food is more intense for the campus squirrel.  After all, thanks to us humans, the squirrel has developed a taste for nachos, french fries and the occasional cookie. Now, with nowhere to turn, they become desperate in their attempts to obtain people food.  Enough with the nuts and berries.  Gimme your damn sandwich!

It’s also spring.  We have some randy squirrels running around and a few tiny, tiny new-to-this-world squirrels.  Imagine being weaned on pizza, cheese puffs and  burger scraps!

At some point during the 2008 summer, the numbers of on-campus squirrels seriously diminished. Strange thing is, no one talked about it. It was as if it NEVER HAPPENED.  One day squirrels track you on the way to the cafeteria, the next? Nothin’.  Not a critter in site.

Poor little suckers, I think the maintenance workers conduct an after hours, unspeakable act and **POOF** problem solved.

Ah, the mysteries of higher education.

And for those of you who are interested in especially good humor and storytelling…

Check out the “This American Life” episode that aired in December 2002 called “First Day”.  Act two is called “Squirrel Cop”;  if you haven’t heard it, you are missing out because  it’s HILARIOUS!

Here is the link to the show:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=954

Enjoy the episode and remember, don’t  feed the squirrels.

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Friday Night is Pizza Night

If you’re in the Sacramento area and love to dig your teeth into a deep dish pizza, you must try Zelda’s Gourmet Pizza:  http://www.zeldasgourmetpizza.com/

Zelda's pizza pies

Zelda's pizza pies

The food is incredible so bring a HUGE appetite. The atmosphere is casual and if you’re really hungry, call in your order.  Quality takes time so sip some red wine, eat your salad and enjoy the long, slow ride. Once you become a regularl, the servers will know you by name and remember your order.  Be persistant and the best service awaits you.  As for the pizza, there will be plenty of leftovers – don’t worry.

Why mention Zelda’s? Because it’s Friday night and Friday night is pizza night.

And no, they don’t pay me to advertise…

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Specialized Robaix Triple

Specialized Paris Robaix Triple

Specialized Paris Robaix Triple

 

This is my bicycle.  It is a Specialized Robaix Triple.  It’s the most comfortable, smooth ride I’ve experienced.  I haven’t made any upgrades, the fit is perfect and as a recreational cyclist, I don’t plan to do anything drastic.

I hope to do some bicycle tours over the next few years. When I was a teenager I toured with family and I have always wanted to get back into it. 

I did a 40-mile group ride (my first) in Napa in April.  Actually I did a 38-mile ride and then my rear tire met a two inch nail.  The rest of the group did 40-miles.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my personal SAG vehicle.  She’s dreamy.

I’m going to do the “Almost Metric Century” ride on Saturday, June 6th in Rocklin, CA.  The route is described as hilly, scenic and cautions riders to train for the distance. 

I bicycle to and from work most days since selling my car. My body appreciates it and so does the environment. I’m fine with cars. I just know that my mind and body benefit from the exercise. Cycling home, I usually take the long way and listen to a podcast. It’s okay, I’m riding on a bicycle trail and the volume is quite low. 

Generally, I ride sixteen or so miles per day during the week and do longer rides on the weekends.

I follow professional cycling closely and admit to following pros on Twitter. Why didn’t Versus pick up television rights for the Giro?  http://www.gazzetta.it/Speciali/Giroditalia/2009/en/

I don’t know about you, but when I watch cycling on t.v., it’s like a slow-mo infomercial that makes me want to visit.  Today the flat roads of California’s Central Valley, tomorrow the Dolemites?

If you like intelligent and entertaining sports commentary in the cycling community, you’ll recognize two of my favorites, Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggitt.

Phil Liggitt and Paul Sherwin

Phil Liggitt and Paul Sherwin

In spite of what you may think, I do not live in San Francisco. Not yet anyway.  Soon.  So very soon.  For now, I live in Sacramento.  Flat, flat, flat Sacramento. Don’t forget hot. No wait, hot doesn’t begin to describe the waves of intense heat that settles in and lingers like that same pesky mosquito that keeps you up nights.  The same mosquito who assures you that one is a powerful number. 

sacramento-bridge

sacramento-bridge

Why Sacramento, you ask? It’s not because I want to put in lots of endurance rides and runs on flat terrain. Nah.  The very same person who comandeers the SAG vehicle found work down here,  It’s a close jump to San Francisco.  Not close enough, mind you, for those of you who know better. Often we are asked, “Sacramento?”  Seriously, it’s a great place to live and I have met nice, nice people and the weather is beautiful.

Stay hydrated. Use your sunscreen. Work out between the hours of  4 – 6 a.m.

I grew up in California and then moved around a bit before settling in Seattle for about 16-years.  Seattle = very wet .  I LOVE the way it smells, looks, and my friends and family up in the northwest. The Pacific Northwest is GORGEOUS. 

seattle

seattle

I mean, take a look at that photo and tell me it’s not fantastic.  Water, mountains, clean air, more water. You see, it’s rainy there and the incessant rain nearly drove me out of my mind.  I became an official grouch, a veritable crab.  I grew weary of the drop, drop, drop and plit plop plop rain down the back of my bleedin’ collar into my neck and argh! that’s cold. 

Truth is, that place seeped into me somewhere along the way and once I left it, I realized just how much of a northwesterner I had become.  Three years later and a recent visit remind me that I have moved far away and my sense of self has drifted south into an arid, sunny place with a beauty all its own.

With that, I say ”Get outside!”  Ride your bicycle and take a minute to breathe in what I hope is clean air before you glance at your surroundings with appreciation and gratitude for your health.

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SF Scoot

 

Lance Venice 2008 Scooter

Lance Venice 2008 Scooter

This is the first post from a new blogger.  While not an exhaustive list, I am crazy about food, dogs, outdoor activities, reading, current events and travel.  The content on this site will vary and hopefully it will be interesting.  Thanks for reading.
Kai
Kai and Coco Jan 2009

Kai and Coco Jan 2009

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Hello world!

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