Saturday, September 30, 2017

keep the change

In order to properly appreciate this blog post, you'll need the appropriate background music. "Rivers and Roads" by The Head and The Heart should set the tone quite nicely. I'll wait while you grab a another cup of coffee and settle in. Take your time.

Since you brought it up, let's talk about time. Specifically, the times and how they're changing. Side bar: I've noticed that I'm most receptive to words of wisdom when in a heightened state of vulnerability, but I'm sure that is true of everyone. We never heed advice when we feel invincible, because our invincibility brings with it infinite knowledge and understanding. Anyway...

"Time is life. Time is the most precious, invisible asset we have. Money will come back, anytime. A 100 times or more, money will come back. But time never comes back." - Humans of New York: The Series, Episode 1.

Have your eyes rolled back in to your cranium yet? Give it time.

After 3 and 1/2 years with my roommate in our lovely 2 bedroom condo in the bad part of town, I've moved. Now I am sans roommate, sans 500 sq ft, and (silver lining) sans sketchy neighborhood. As adventurous and independent as I pretend to be, I am a creature who's foundation rests in routine and consistency.

I feel like time has passed so quickly while simultaneously standing still. I relive all the moments and memories in vivid color, like I'm still in them but only as an observant bystander. Allow me to clarify, my roommate did not die nor did we part ways on disagreeable terms. Our lives split in two different directions professionally, which subsequently led to our lives splitting in two different directions geographically, and the clinger in me just wasn't ready for it.

"But time never comes back."

I wouldn't change a thing. I don't feel as though I took the last 3 years of time for granted. I just wanted to linger a little longer in my particular form domestic bliss.

Change is a funny thing. Am I really upset that my roommate moved away? Certainly. But is that what is really driving this overly dramatic personal narrative? That would just be too easy.

Change begets change. Even though I just finished hauling the truckloads of my belongings to my new living quarters, I know that this is still only the beginning. Closing the door on apartment #403 meant closing the door on that chapter of my life. During that time I always knew what was coming next, I'd turn pages but nothing was ever a big surprise.

Now I attempt to peek at the pages ahead and find them blank, unknown and unwritten. What will the new chapter hold? I am not much for surprises... But alas, here we are heading down the path of uncertainty starting the first real day in my new apartment armed with a cup of cold coffee and an exorbitant number of did I accumulate SO MANY hoodies???

"Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over?"- Jack London.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

my summer spent in BFE

Boy time sure flies when you're ignoring your social media outlets. Evidently blogging plummeted on my priority list, but I'm attempting to give it another go. Be warned, loyal follower, (I intentionally made that a singular noun as I'm thinking the only person left reading my blog is my mother) much has changed since my last post celebrating my alcoholic endeavors in the beer mile.

Given that my professional attention span compares to that of a goldfish (3 seconds, for all you wondering) I have found interest in a new career field, deviating only slightly from my cozy, air-conditioned customer service job in running specialty. Feeling the imminent pressure of retirement and the need to establish my 401k, I began thinking about my next career move in December of last year. Ideally I wanted something with an element of excitement, yet financial security and good benefits because I needed to appease the adventure seeker inside me while simultaneously quieting my inner senior citizen.

Originally, I intended on applying for the police department in Redmond, WA but had also explored some options on USAJobs, sending my resume to a few postings that looked interesting. Low and behold, in March I received a phone call from Twin Falls, ID asking me to interview for a wildland firefighting position. I thought I had made up my mind with the police department, only a few weeks away from initial testing, but elected to interview with Idaho for "the practice" anyway.

So in May of 2015 I moved to the guard station in Carey, ID to begin my summer as a wildland firefighter. What a curious little setup this fire fighting gig, so reminiscent of college life living in a station (dorm) with 8 other crew members (strangers) and trying to form some semblance of cohesion. Though, as I would soon discover, I couldn't have asked for better crew members and friends. As it turns out, stressful and sometimes life-threatening experiences tend to bring you closer to those you share them with.

In coming posts I'll give you the full summer breakdown, but as a teaser I'll leave you with these images sans explanation...

Until next time!

Friday, October 3, 2014

the beer mile

Always late, but worth the wait...well hopefully.

For the sake of my dwindling attention span, I will dive right in to my most recent shenanigans because I know you're all dying to hear about the (dun dun DUN...) beer mile.

Let me preface by explaining what exactly a beer mile is, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of participating in such an event. The beer mile is the ultimate test of stamina and stupidity, an equal playing field for runners of any ability or gender to be crowned the world's fastest alcoholic.

The beer mile is run on a 400m track, traditionally not on a high school campus seeing as how the encouragement of underaged drinking is generally frowned upon. Thankfully (?) Seattle is home to a smorgasbord on independent tracks located in local parks. This way you can drink, run and puke at your favorite family-friendly park instead.

It works like this:

Chug a beer.
Run a lap.
Chug a beer.
Run another lap.
Chug a beer.
Run a lap.
Chug a beer guessed it
Run a lap.

The beer mile even has rules as outlined by the official governing body, Your beer of choice must be 12oz and have an alcohol content of at least 5%. The race is a true mile, not just a 1600m run, so the track must be marked accordingly. There is a transition zone of 10 meters where competitors must consumed the entire beverage before embarking on the lap that follows. And finally, should you lose your Budweiser at any point before the mile is completed, you must run an additional lap (but no more beers are required). These are the rules of the beer mile, and they are unflinchingly rigid.

I opted to run my event with Schillings Cider, running a whopping 6.5% alcohol,  which I now find will likely disqualify my time from the leaderboard (see "unflinchingly rigid rules" at beer

Anywho, there was about a dozen of us who decided to accept the challenge, and about the same number of people who came out to simply watch the show. For the record, I am a staunch non-drinker. Not because I am anti-alcohol, but rather because my body seems to be... a point that was indeed confirmed throughout the evening.

We toed the line, drinks in hand, and the chugging began at the sound of "Go!" I was second off the line, and took to my first lap at an easy pace. Soon as the others had finished their first drinks, they were off like rockets. At least 5 or 6 runners blew by me in the first lap alone. And that was the last time I saw them...

I was third off the line after the second round of chugging, and feeling pretty good. Stomach full but not uncomfortable, I rounded my second lap in confidence. Downing the third beer was admittedly more challenging than the first two, but hearing "Holy crap, go Amanda!" from my peers gave me the fuel I needed to push through the pain. My third lap was one perpetual burp of carbonation. I was starting the feel it, and the reality that I had to force yet another drink down struck fear into my heart.

I boarded the struggle bus at approximately 6 minutes into the run. The fourth beer was reluctant to go down, and in fact almost had a "return to sender" postage before I even left the transition zone. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe, all I could do was repeat "Keep it down. I will NOT be running another lap." By this time I was feeling the effects of the alcohol. The last turn on to the homestretch became about 6 turns... But I finished, and I finished third overall with a time of 8 minutes 16 seconds! And props to the two gentlemen who beat me, Buck with a time of 7:25 and Reuben with a time of 7:26.

The bragging rights that I earned and am proud to announce:
- I was the third overall finisher in my very first beer mile!
- I was the only woman to complete the mile.
- My time of 8:16 should rank me 25th female ever in the beer mile (but won't because I drank cider, dammit!)

My mother must be so proud.

As much as I tried, I could not evacuate my stomach immediately post-race. And so began the after-effects of the beer event that keeps on giving long after the tape is crossed.

My one other achievement? I was most-handedly the drunkest participant. Most of my post-race exploits are a blur to me, but I distinctly remember running around and throwing my running shoes over a football goal post and yelling "Mic drop!" What followed were 12 hours of misery. I was THAT drunk person puking in the bushes in front of your house.

Don't worry, mom is still proud.

I got home and passed out, woke up at 3am feeling pretty good...because I was still completely drunk. Another bout of alcohol rejection and I was back to bed, but I rallied and woke up at 10am without a headache. Go figure.

Then came the fun of locating the car. I had to run about 4 miles to grab my wheels since naturally I had a driver for the event. Thanks to my roomie Anthony who chauffeured me and held my coat whilst I took to the shrubs. FYI: The following morning he proceeded to tell all my coworkers that I needed a boyfriend. There's a thin line between love and hate...

And that, my friends, is the beer mile in all its glory. If you've never done it, you need to check it off your bucket list. If you have done it, you'll understand why I'll never do it again.


Day 275.
Alta Peak
Sunrise at Mt. Rainier.

Discovery Park

Monday, September 8, 2014

finding focus and feeling enchanted

I am nothing if not consistent.

Competing in the Women of Wonder 5k brought to my attention a severe lack of focus with regards to my training. After the I <3 Nerds 5k I had set my sights on breaking the 20 minute barrier for the WoW, which was set to run approximately 2 weeks later. Sadly I fell by the wayside at some point during those 14 days and I was met with a disappointing reality check...

Let's get real for a moment and recap the steamy dump that was my WoW 5k yesterday. Going into the race, I suspected that my performance would be sub-par but I didn't anticipate feeling the way that I did - like a salted snail.

The first mile I was sitting pretty at 6:15 and feeling in control while riding comfortably in second place. We curved around the SE corner of Greenlake and headed west, where I clocked a 6:27 second mile.

Queue panic.

Up until now I have been able to maximize my fitness level on race day in the form of even mile splits (and even race means you ran as fast as you could on that given day). Seeing that 13 second gap between my first and second mile meant disaster was imminent, I had bitten off a little more than I could chew. Halfway between mile 2 and 3 holy hell began to rain down upon me. The tank was empty, fumes were barely carrying my legs forward, and to top it all off I managed to continuously wet myself for the remaining half mile. It was a day to make mama proud.

Of course, no one could really tell I was collapsing in on myself like a dying star, aside from the look of exhaustion across my face I'm sure I appeared in good shape. Thankfully my black shorts hid my otherwise very obvious and involuntary public urination, which has now been revealed to all thanks to my complete lack of filter or propriety. Moving on.

So I aim to find some more focus as I have a few more 5ks on the horizon and a 50 miler looming in the not-so-distant future. I find myself in a funk that only the mountains can shake from me. So I take to the trees.

In the weeks leading up to this weekend's race I escaped to the mountains on several occasions, the pièce de résistance being a backpacking trip into The Enchantments. This is Washington's premier hiking zone located about 15 minutes south of Leavenworth and contains peaks of the Stuart Range.

Colchuck Lake - elevation 5,570 ft
We hiked in via the Stuart Lake Trailhead which forks up to Colchuck Lake. There we set up camp and set off for the Enchantment zone shortly after 12pm. From Colchuck Lake you must climb Aasgard Pass, a measly 1 mile stroll with only 2,200 feet of elevation gain.

Aasgard Pass beyond Colchuck Lake
That shit is straight up.

We reached the top of the pass around 1:30pm, which sits at the base of Dragontail Peak. Sadly I didn't get to climb said peak, an ascent for another time. We dropped down into the Enchantments and quickly fell into the fairytale.

Top of Aasgard Pass at the base of Dragontail Peak


We only went as far east as Perfection Lake due to daylight constraints (for real though, no one wants to descend Ass-Gaurd Pass after sundown) but what we saw was incredible.

Gateway to the Enchantments

Crystal Lake

Perfection Lake
Coming down the pass was as daunting as I assumed it would be. I found myself saying "Where the f*ck is the trail?" most of the way down and nearly trapped myself on a rock face during one of my off-trail meanderings. Reaching camp was a welcomed sight, followed immediately by Mountain House (a tasty just-add-water meal I adorably nicknamed "Out House") and drink (what can only be described as a volatile mixture of Vodka and Zip Fizz - mostly Vodka - that became known as the infamous "Purple Drank"). It was awesome.

Thanks to Scott, Jill, Megan, Kevin, Casey and Colin for making this an unforgettable trip.

Jill, Megan and Casey. Part of our party for 7.
My trips to the mountains have become so frequent that I'm working on a new addition to my blogosphere, "views from my shoes", in an attempt to consolidate all my adventures in one place. I will let you, my adoring fans living vicariously though my summits and face-plants, know soon as it is functional.

On an unrelated note, if someone is really adept at the intricacies of blog page design...

Upcoming events include a trip to Sunrise on Mount Rainier, Squak Mountain hill repeats with my new running group, and possibly another trip to the Enchantments...but this time the goal being to run up and over the entire length of the zone (approximately 20 miles) should stamina and time allow.

Additionally I am looking ahead to the next XC race, which will be October 18th at the Emerald City Open.

Until next time, I retreat to the trees.

Views from my shoes: 

Snow Lake - 8 miles at 4,400 ft elevation

Annette Lake - 7 miles at 3,600 ft elevation

Friday, August 22, 2014

my big announcement

My fingers just sit lifeless atop the keys... not for a lack of adventures to tell, but at a loss for a way in which to tell them.


I know in my past posts I have focused less on my streak, but to be clear I am still streaking. My failure to acknowledge my running everyday is a testament to the fact that it is no longer a "goal" but simply my new reality. I run every day. Period. And this is day 233.

On to the adventures!

I recently summited Mount Saint Helens, like a boss, and did the round trip in 6 1/2 hours. Only thing missing from the view at the top was...well...the view at the top. Shrouded in misty clouds we saw nothing of the mountain's massive crater or the surrounding picturesque landscape.

Well, shit. 

Not to worry though, just means another attempt is in my immediate future.

My roommate and I had scored the passes for Mount St. Helens last minute. What I didn't factor in was the fact that I had signed up for a 5k earlier this month to be run less than 48 hours after the hike. I figured, "Ahh hell, I hike my far share, shouldn't be too bad." I don't know how many of you have hiked the 8,000+ foot volcano, but if you have you'd know she's a beach. Pause for comedic brilliance to sink in... Many stretches of terrain along the route are the equivalent of walking in a sandy beach angled at a 30 degree incline. Two steps forward, one step back...followed by a slip, fall and face plant. So in effect, she is a b*tch-beach of a climb. It goes without saying that I was quite sore the next morning, and even more so the morning of my 5k.

As for the race. I finished top 10 overall and was first woman (yay) with a time of 20:15 (crap). Back in April I ran a 5k only two weeks after my 50 miler and completed it in 20:38, so to not be far ahead of that is a little unnerving for the start of XC season. In hopes of shaking off a little more rust, I will also be running a 5k at the Women of Wonder held at Greenlake on September 7th. This time I won't be climbing mountains before hand because that is obviously responsible for my sub-par performance and not my lack of speed training.

I <3 Nerds 5k

And finally, the BIG news...

Being the glutton for punishment that I am and the worldly explorer I aspire to be, I have signed up for another...long run. I thought long and hard about this decision (maybe, 6 seconds...) and have signed up for the Antelope Canyon 50 Mile. You read it right, another 50 mile. My resolution has now become a lifestyle?

However, this is not your ordinary 50 miler. This is the holy grail of 50 milers! Words cannot describe, so let these picture do the talking.

That's for real.

Be jealous...

50 miles of breathtaking views. 

4,350 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Not sure how I will afford to get there, but I'm officially signed up so it's happening even if I have to hitch-hike 1,300 miles.

My peaks this week:

Mount St. Helens - 10 miles

Mount Pilchuck - 5 miles

Next up, the Enchantments! Until next time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ragnar, the effects of napoleon, and my weekly peaks's been a while. But thankfully we are like old friends who, despite long gaps between encounters, can pick up where they left off without skipping a beat. Yes, we are the oldest and dearest of friends.

Time to play catch up.

My Ragnar NWP experience was...interesting. If you've never run a Ragnar Relay, the general premise is that you and 11 other suckers agree to split the burden of 196 miles to be run over the course of 24 hours. Sounds like perfect fun to me!

Ragnar effectively falls under what I so lovingly label: The Napoleon Dynamite Effect.

Remember that adorably horrendous movie Napoleon Dynamite staring everyone's favorite llama and curly-haired geek with glasses? Of course you do! Chances are you have found yourself (on more than one occasion) chuckling aloud at the thought of voting for Pedro or seeing a Liger in the wild... Ah what incredible jokes arose from that blockbuster hit! But I'll be damned if any one of you can say that you actively enjoyed that movie as you were watching it. You may think you did, but really we all looked on wondering why we had ever agreed to plant our asses in that chair. Ragnar was much like that, tough to suffer through at the time...funny as hell after the fact.

Top 10 Ragnar Take-Aways:

10. Gym floors are for playing basketball, not for sleeping. Sleep in the car, thank me later.

9. You're not going to sleep regardless of where you are.

8. We all mastered the art of the "U-turn."

7. You will either love or hate the people you're stuck in a van with. Thankfully we were the former.

6. Don't pack enormous amounts of food that you probably won't eat. But bring chips, everyone eats chips...

5. Beware the bitch eaten' crackers and understand that the struggle is real.

4. You do you, and I'm gonna do me. Translation: I will get the parking spot that you missed while cutting me off at the transition zone.

3. The legs associated with Van 2 run up every major hill in northern half of the Washington coast.

2. I met "Post-Fontaine." Enough said.

1. Absolutely the most breath-taking views of the Whidbey Island countryside.

Since the completion of Ragnar, my XC training is now in full swing. My weekly mileage has steadily climbed to 30+ miles and workouts have begun.

I've had to combine my passion for running and my love of hiking, resulting in a love child that I've aptly named "Trail Run Tuesday." And yet despite the fact that I ride the struggle bus all the way up the mountain, I find myself falling in love with this sport as well.

Trail Run Tuesday:

7/28/14 Rattlesnake Ledge - 5 miles
8/5/14 Goat Lake - 10 miles
Currently training for the Sundodger Invitational on September 20th hosted by the University of Washington. 

Even more exciting, Mount St. Helens is on my horizon for August 15th! 

I want to give a special thanks to Scott and Jill for being incredible friends and encouraging my hiking endeavors. I should only hope all of you have people in your lives that are as special as these two.

Until next time, get outside!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

saddle up

I stand (currently sitting) a mere 24 hours away from the start of my Ragnar Northwest Passage adventure. Most blog posts that I've read on the matter outline an elaborate packing list full of must-haves and forget-me-nots...but seeing as how I have yet to start packing you will not find any of those helpful hints here.

Ragnar is a new and exciting adventure for me! Though my enthusiasm is not fully evident in my (lack of) pre-race preparation, but I assure you I have been anticipating this event for months.

Bird Machine kick starts their adventure at 10am. I am runner number 7 and will start my first leg at approximately 3pm in Bellingham, WA.

Is it sad that my biggest fear going in to this race is that I might not be able to stay awake?

Follow us along on twitter as #birdmachine takes on 196 miles of the Pacific Northwest! Check out the blog by Oiselle more info on our runners!