Saturday, September 27, 2008

My boyfriend's an ultrarunner :D

It was a wonderful day for a 50k in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

After the less than favorable run at Redwood a bit less than a month ago, Ed was eager to try his luck at this formidable distance once again.

The day started perfectly- high fifties and fog as we dipped into Santa Cruz and arrived at the race start. Parking was easy and after a quick bathroom stop, it was time to go. Wendell called the runners over to the sidewalk (they would start with a 'victory loop' before heading off into the forest) to explain directions. This part has gotten me a little these last two races, wishing I could be one of the runners instead of having to move aside. But, I was excited to see Ed take off, and I had a good feeling about this race.

In a very short time, they took off, and I left for my car. I went to a cafe for the morning, got some breakfast and spent a leisurely few hours writing responses to my class's journals, reading and just relaxing. Ed planned to be finished with the first 29k in about 3 hours, so I headed back around 11am. Ed came through right on time, in around 2:58! He looked strong and happy, which was exciting. I got him some food while he stretched and then, after just a few minutes he was off again.

Before he left Sarah recommended that I head out to the river crossing myself so that I could see him again before the finish. So, back in the car again and up highway 9. I was a little worried I went the wrong way, since I had only gone on that highway once, but soon enough I say the caution signs for the runners and knew I was almost there. The parking lot was exactly where it was said to be, so I parked, got my water and my book, and took off down the trail.

Now, I was planning to hike all this, but as I started down the fireroad, with the redwoods above me and the soft dirt below me, I got a little carried away. "A half mile won't hurt me" I said to myself, and ran down the trail with my book in one hand and my big water bottle in the other. I felt a little silly, both with my accessories, and also with my non running outfit (cotton capris that were definitely not made for running!). Still, it was so fun running down the hill :)

Once I got to the bottom, it flattened out and I got a glimpse of the beautiful San Lorenzo river. In not too much longer, I reached the river crossing and cleared of a patch of sand to make my camp for the next 20 minutes or so. Just as I was about to sit down and read, I voice called out "Hello?"

It was Keith, the photographer. We began chatting and ended up talking the whole time I was down there, with breaks so he could do his job. It was so nice being down by the river, and I wished I had gone down earlier as well to see Ed go on the first loop. I got a definite kick out of watching people do that river crossing. The river was fairly deep in the middle, going up to mid thigh on most. Some people just ran through, some took off their shoes and gingerly crossed (one even had flip flops!), and one jumped all the way in, going completely under for a few seconds. In about 20 minutes, Ed arrived and crossed himself.

I hung out a little longer once he finished his crossing and then headed back. Once I got out of sight from the river, I started running again and kept it up until that climb began. Then, I had a lovely hike back to the car. I cheered on all the runners I saw coming down and in next to no time, I was back on my way to the finish.

I went back to the finish line and got out my kids' journals once again. But, I didn't get much done as I started chatting to others. There was a woman there waiting for her husband, and we talked for a bit. Also, I got to see Hao again, which was fun (I previously saw him at Redwoods volunteering).

A few 50k runners started trickling in, including that woman's husband, and I started to keep my eyes out for Ed. A man came in that I recognized as the guy near Ed during his river crossing, so I knew it probably wouldn't be too much longer (as long as he was doing okay). About 10 or so minutes later I saw a handsome shirtless man running through the last stretch of trail. I quickly jumped off my bench and ran over to the finish line, just in time to see Ed finish his first Ultra.

He had the ultra respectable time of 5:40 (or even a bit less), which is crazy.

I'm so proud of him! He did amazingly.

Even better, he had a great time, and felt great out there (for the most part). I do believe that more of these races will be in his future :D

Edited to add: He's not sore today- at all. How does one not get sore after their first ultra (or rather, first run over 22 miles)? Seriously...his body is made for this stuff.

Also, he got 7th overall :D

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy 23

Well, yesterday I became another year older!

It was a wonderful day, as Ed had the whole thing planned out for me. We started with a delicious breakfast (french toast, whipped cream, strawberries, mimosas, and almond biscotti tea) and then spending the morning lounging around, reading and watching Pride and Prejudice (BBC version with Colin Firth). I also got birthday phone calls all morning, and got to speak to all of my family.

Once we finally roused ourself from the lazy morning and did some necessary cleaning, we went on a beautiful hike in the santa cruz mountains. I even ran about a tenth of a mile :)

Afterwards, Ed took me on a surprise trip to Half Moon Bay where we enjoyed a lovely dinner with oceanfront views.

I do believe that 23 will be a wonderful year :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A wondrful weekend

Well, the 50k didn't quite happen for Ed. Despite his great training and attitude, the over 100 degree heat didn't agree with him (that and the PB&J he ate before the race that refused to stay down). Even with feeling pretty miserable for most of the time, he completed 30k, which is pretty awesome. He reasoned that he wanted to enjoy his first 50k, and since that wasn't happening here, he'd try again later. While that post DNF depression hit a little the few days after, he's since signed up for PCTR's Santa Cruz race in the 27th of September and is just about to leave for an 18 miler on the race trails :) He feels much more confident running his 'home trails' (he's done pretty much all of his trail training over in Santa Cruz) and is excited about the river crossing(s).

Now, with the title 'wonderful weekend' you might be wondering where the DNF figures in. Directly from the race, Ed and I took off to celebrate our one year anniversary. Can you believe it's been over a year since we started dating? It's flown by as the most wonderful year I've ever had.

We decided to go up to Calistoga for a short romantic weekend (it's hard to even leave for 24 hours with all the work I have to do), but it was just perfect. We stayed at a bed and breakfast set in an 1890s farmhouse that had only 4 other guests.

Our sitting room

Our bedroom

Our clawfoot tub

The grounds

After resting and relaxing in the room with fresh squeezed lemonade, pistachios and cherries, courtesy of our B&B, we enjoyed a lovely evening out downtown.

(the view from our room)

The next day we did what you pretty much have to do in wine country - go wine tasting! We went to Sterling first, where you take an aerial tram ride up the mountain to the winery to taste 5 different wines.

Next was our favorite, August Briggs. This was a very small, personal winery, which is what made it so charming. After trying a few wines, Ed told our server (sommaelier?) that I was only beginning to like reds. The server warned me that I might not like the next one because it was very "full bodied". I tried it, and of course, loved it, and said so.

Those, apparently, were the magic words, as the man immediately invited us to try something in the back. He took us through the large class doors into a room filled, floor to ceiling with wine barrels. In this room, he allowed us to try 3 wines straight from the barrel! It was amazing. The last wine he let us try was the same wine as the last tasting wine, but a 2007 versus and 2005. We wanted us to be able to compare what the barreling does to the wine. Both Ed and I ended up liking the newer wine best, surprisingly. Apparently it is going to be a very good wine in a few years.

I felt like I learned a lot at that winery, including why wines are often described as having the flavors of different foods. The vanilla taste is from the oak barrels (which is why chardonnays, who spend more time in barrels, taste more vanilla-ey). The fruit flavors are because the grapes have in them certain chemicals that are are also found in those fruits.

Needless to say, we bought a lovely bottle of wine there, that will be saved for a special occassion.

Our last stop before home was a third winery V. Sattui (we had a coupon for free tastings there). It was the most crowded of the wineries, in part because you could have picnics there. We had a lovely snack of bread and cheese and salami (no wine, because we still had to drive home!).

A perfect end to our celebratory weekend :)