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all Ilana all the time
5th-May-2020 08:01 am - I have moved my primary journal.
As of May 2017, I am no longer crossposting here.

Please read me at ilanarama on Dreamwidth. I have a small number of invite codes if you would like to set up your own journal at Dreamwidth - email me at heyheyilana at gmail.com.
11th-Sep-2019 11:27 am - belated update
I have been intending to make a new house post, but lost my Round Tuit, as they say. But: the landscaping is done, and the furniture's in place, and most of our artwork is on the walls. We are still waiting to get back some of the artifacts that were discovered during our pre-construction archaeological survey, so we can display them in the niches in our rock wall; we have put some of our other treasures in those spots for now, but we will need to have glass display shelves made for those niches. I don't have time (see below) to take photos and make a nice fancy post, but have a picture from yesterday morning:

Morning visitor

Anyway, the reason I'm posting now is because I'm heading to the airport Real Soon Now. First I'm off to Boston, and thence in a van to New Hampshire, for the Reach the Beach relay with a team of mostly internet-friends. (I ran this race once before, in 2015, with the same team.) On Sunday I'm flying down to Virginia to spend the week with my parents, now in assisted living, and help my brother prepare their house for sale. Britt will join us on Friday night, and on Saturday morning...we are off to Barcelona for three weeks! We have not been on a proper vacation in some time because of the whole home-building and moving thing, so we are hoping it will be an enjoyable and relaxing get-away.

We've got Google Fi so I won't be completely cut off from the internet, but I will likely not be posting here (because typing on a phone is ugh) or reading my flists (because busy). I may be posting photos on Instagram (because it's easy): https://www.instagram.com/heyheyilana/ I may not be! In any event, see you (for, you know, social media values of 'see') in October.

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/174442.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
18th-Jul-2019 05:27 pm - ebikes are awesome!
It's been a month since Britt and I bought our Priority Embark ebikes. Verdict: YAYAYAYAY!

In this month, I have ridden mine 172 miles! The longest ride was ~25 miles: a bunch of errands, followed by a long ride up a dirt road into the mountains for a picnic, and then back home. But I also rode 6 miles each way to a doctor's office twice, as well as lots and lots of shorter rides: to the library, to go running along the river or at the high school track, to the farmers market, to the grocery store, to the recycle station...basically everywhere I would otherwise have to drive.

I'm a lot more comfortable with the throttle-style gearshift for the continuously variable transmission now. Also, it's become second nature to turn up the motor assist going up hills, and turn it down on the flatter terrain. I rarely ride with the assist off completely, but I pretty much always strive for the combination of gearing and assist that means that I pedal against a little-but-not-a-lot-of resistance. This works out to being in eco or tour mode most of the time, with sport mode for hills and turbo mode for steep hills; I have only actually tracked my mileage after one battery charge, and that gave me 48 miles on the charge, woohoo! (I am trying to charge only to 80-90%, because that is better for long battery life, and I don't run the battery down completely because I want to be able to get home up the hill with some assist, so I suppose if I charged it all the way and ran it down all the way I'd get even more mileage.)

I bought some cheap (in both senses of the word) panniers, and they look ridiculous, but they work well for the purpose I require, that is, to carry groceries, empty bottles, and so on.

ebike and panniers

Look, I can carry a vase of flowers! (I bungeed the vase against the rack so it would stay vertical and not spill any water.) There is also a large bag of bok choi in there, behind the mail I just picked up from our mailbox, and two six-packs underneath. In the other pannier is my u-lock and the rest of my farmers market veggies and fruit.

I can get stuff in my panniers

This last photo also shows my mirror, which is so useful that now I keep looking at the space where the mirror should be but isn't on my mountain bike, as well as the cheesy little bell the city was giving away for free during Clean Commute Week last month. Today I installed what will hopefully be my last bit of extra bike gear, a handlebar-mounted water bottle cage, because it's been really hot and I've been getting thirsty while biking around town doing my errands.

If this were a real blogger's review, I'd probably talk about the belt drive, or the motor, or other technical stuff. But you know what? I don't actually notice any of these things. I just notice that I can get on my bike, and haul stuff around, and ride places, and not get overly sweaty or tired despite the hills and the heat - but also that I feel like I'm still getting some exercise. I bought this bike to fulfill a specific purpose, and it does so unobtrusively and awesomely, and this makes me happy!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/174330.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
As some of you may remember, last summer we took a minivacation in Telluride for Britt's birthday, mountain biking and hiking. A few months ago we attended a local Democratic Party fundraiser, and one of the silent auction items was a July 4th stay at a cabin in Telluride, donated by the cabin's owner (an acquaintance who is a stalwart Dem); since we had such a good time last year, I decided to bid on the cabin, and I got it! So on Wednesday afternoon we packed up the pickup with our mountain bikes and hiking gear, coffee and beer and snacks and things to make breakfast and lunch with, and headed out of town.

On the way to Telluride we passed Memorial Rock, our first time on this road since it fell in May. The huge scar on the hillside where the rocks came down is as impressive as the rock itself! We also noticed how much snow still remained in the mountains - what a change from last year. We got to the cabin, which was basically a tiny house in the backyard of another house, put our things inside, and then walked the few blocks to the main street to have some dinner.

The next morning we had coffee and blueberry pancakes, packed a lunch and snacks, and hopped on the bikes. On our visit last summer we rode the first half of the Galloping Goose trail, which mostly follows an old railroad grade. This trip we were determined to ride all the way to Lizard Head Pass! But that would be easier said than done; shortly after the climb out of Ilium, about 10 miles into our ride, we had a moderately intimidating creek crossing. It turned out to be only the first of many. Last year, of course, a month later and after a terrible snow year, the creeks were only trickles.

IMG_20190704_113907 IMG_20190704_114840

Excitement! Adventure! Photos!Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/173829.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
19th-Jun-2019 10:53 am - my new electric vehicle
new e-bike!

My new electric vehicle: a Priority Embark e-bike!

When we first told our friends we were building a new house, most of them said, with dismay, "But your current house is so nice!" And yeah, there's a lot I loved about it, but when I thought about it I realized there was only one thing I was going to really miss when we moved: being able to walk or bike everywhere. Living right smack downtown we were about half a mile from the big grocery store and about a mile from the natural foods coop; half a mile from the library and a mile and a half from the rec center. We put around 5000 miles a year on our pickup truck. It was not uncommon for us to not get in the truck for days, or even a week or more.

Our new house is not that far from town (technically we're still in city limits) and we're easily within cycling distance of all the places we used to walk, but the mesa-top location that gives us those awesome views also gives us a 300-foot climb to get back home. It's doable - and we've done it - but not carrying 40 pounds of groceries or after a track workout with the running club. I'd long felt I really wanted a utility bike for just riding around town; I felt kind of silly doing errands on my fancy mountain bike, and it can't take a rack so I always had to wear a backpack for grocery runs. With our planned move, it made even more sense to get an e-bike! So last fall I started researching.

Choosing an e-bikeCollapse )

Actually buying an e-bikeCollapse )

It's interesting, actually. Riding the e-bike is like...riding a bike. It's not a motorcycle; it doesn't have a throttle. I don't really notice the boost except for starting from a dead stop, and going up hills. And it's not like I'm not riding up the hill - it's just that the hill doesn't seem nearly as steep as it does on my other bike. Which is exactly what I want!

I'm still getting used to the continuously variable transmission, which operates by twisting a ring on the handgrip (sort of throttle-like) but I keep forgetting which direction makes it a higher gear vs a lower gear. And we need to get mirrors, I think, and I want to figure out a grocery-carrying method. But so far, so good. I am looking forward to using our new electric vehicles all summer (and hopefully sometimes in the winter, too)!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/173730.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
15th-Jun-2019 04:29 pm - photos added to my race report!
I've added four photos to my Steamworks Half race report. One nice thing about this small race is that the photos are available for free! Here's my favorite, around mile 3.Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/173514.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
8th-Jun-2019 07:39 pm - Steamworks 2019
Earlier this week I posted my goals for this year's Steamworks half: I did not make my A goal, coming in about 50 seconds slower than my time two years ago with a 1:48:10, but that time satisfies my B goal of sub-1:50. I think I might I also ran a much better-paced race this year, which was really my primary goal, so I'm quite happy with how things went.

I biked to the finish, which from my new house is mostly a downhill coast followed by a half mile of gentle uphill, and then got on one of the buses for the start. I shared a seat with a guy named Tim who was running his first race of any distance, and if I hadn't already been fired up, his enthusiasm would have done it. At the start I saw quite a few people I knew, including Allan, who lives an hour south in northern New Mexico and comes up for a lot of our races. We first "met" via the old Runner's World forum, and it was fun to discover that we were sorta-neighbors. Allan is 62 and just ran Boston (and set a PR!) in April.


Heading from the staging area to the start. I'm in the white visor with my head turned, in the center front.

I was determined to not go out too fast this year (which is alas very easy to do, as the start is subtly downhill), so I placed myself well back from the start line. The start line had been moved back some distance this year; this has always been a short course, with my Garmin showing 12.9-13.0 at the end, but this year I think the distance was about right (I recorded 13.09), though the intermediary mile markers were too close early and too far apart late (which threw my pace math off like whoa). I kept a close eye on my watch and clocked my first mile at 8:06, a few seconds faster than my goal of 8:08 for the first miles but not bad. Second mile at 8:09, third at 8:12. Heart rate just a little higher than my easy-pace HR, a good sign that I was relaxed and not expending too much energy.


Still happy at mile 3!

Mile 4 went uphill, though, and my speed dropped as I strove to keep my heart rate under control, giving me an 8:33. But the next miles had more downhill, and I got my pace back into the 8:10-8:15 range I had been aiming at. My HR slowly rose into what I consider my HMP HR range.

Somewhere in the third mile I had seen Allan not far ahead - I hadn't realized he'd gotten ahead of me as we'd started fairly close to each other, and he'd told me he was aiming at 8:20 pace - running alongside a slender woman in a yellow shirt, and eventually I caught up and said hi. The three of us ran more or less together for the rest of the race. Occasionally one person would get ahead and then get reeled in. I walked at all the aid stations (and actually turned around and went back at the 8-mile aid station because they had gummi bears, and I had missed them and wanted some!) but Allan and the woman in yellow didn't, so after each aid station I worked on catching up. This was not just because I like Allan. It was because after glancing at the face of the woman in yellow, I was pretty sure she was in my 50-59 age group, and damn it, I wanted to win!


Just behind Allan and chasing my temporary nemesis

After the hill at mile 9 I decided that I had enough energy to start pushing, so I did. I started gaining on Allan and the woman in yellow, and passed them at the last aid station by not slowing to a walk. I used the downhill of mile 11 to push even harder, clocking my fastest watch-mile at 8:03. (The "miles" I'm listing are based on the mile markers, but as I mentioned they were pretty far off in places, so every once in a while I manually hit the lap button on my watch to bring things into sync. Mile 11 on my Strava record came out at 8:06, the same as my first.)

I was pushing partly to pass my temporary nemesis, but also because I knew that the dappled shade of the downhill would soon give way to a sunny uphill stretch, which I always dreaded. Possibly because I had controlled my speed well early, or possibly because it hadn't heated up as much as expected (it was only around 66° F instead of 70° as it had been last year) it didn't seem nearly as bad as usual, and I passed a few more people, including a man I'd noticed at the start because he was wearing a Shiprock Marathon shirt. I was definitely getting tired, though, and I could feel I was slowing down as I reached the last turns. I saw the finish clock and knew I wouldn't beat my time from 2017, but gave it a burst of speed anyway. The announcer called my name as I crossed the timing mat, and then called out Allan's name - it turned out he'd been gaining on me for the last few miles and he finished only three seconds behind me! (If the race had been longer he probably would have passed me!) The woman in yellow was next, about 15 seconds later, and indeed she turned out to be in my age group. The man in the Shiprock shirt came in ten seconds after that, and he was in Allan's age group. So it turned out that both Allan and I won, but it wasn't a gimme for either of us.


Sweaty and happy at the finish! Allan is visible behind my left arm, and Yellow Woman just coming into the finish chute. #233 was one of the early starters - walkers and slow runners are given the option to start 45 minutes early - which is why she looks so fresh!

Despite coming in nearly a minute slower than I did two years ago, I'm much happier with this race. In my 2017 race report I compared my average pace over portions of the course with my 2009 race, which was the first time I ran it with serious training. Comparing those segments with today's run it's clear I paced much better:

mile 18:067:37
miles 2-38:117:50
miles 4-118:158:18
miles 12-13.18:308:57

So, I'm still slowing down, okay. But I'm still a (relatively) fast old lady! For my first place AG finish, I got a $50 gift certificate to a local running store, which incidentally is the same award I got for winning the 5k in April. As it turns out $50 only makes a small dent in the price of new running shoes, and so when I used that award I actually paid more out of my pocket than I usually do for discounted older models online. But hey, I like to help out the local businesses, especially ones who sponsor our races, and I am sure they made some money off me. (The second place prize was a 6-pack of local beer, which I considered trying to trade for, though then I saw that it wasn't a flavor I was fond of. Oh, well!)

Allan gave me a ride home, which was good because otherwise I was going to text Britt and have him pick me up - I was not thrilled about the idea of biking up ~300 feet in the noonday heat after running a half! But this should be the last time I have to worry about biking up the hill to our new house (or feel bad about running errands in the car) because...as I've been planning ever since we decided to move, I finally finished my extensive research on e-bikes and ordered one, and it should arrive sometime next week! SO EXCITED. I will post more about it when it arrives!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/173226.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
6th-Jun-2019 01:15 pm - back to the half marathon
Today I did my last run before the Steamworks Half Marathon, which will be my seventh time running this race. (I have a standard pre-half-marathon workout of about four miles: two easy warm-up, one easy with strides, half a mile at goal pace, and then easy the rest of the way home.) The weather is expected to be sunny and hot, as it has been every year, which is not my favorite racing weather but that's what you get when you race in June in Colorado.

This will be my first half marathon since I did the same race two years ago. I had high hopes for that race that were dashed for a variety of reasons; this year, I'm scaling back my expectations, and it's possible that even my modest hopes may yet be too ambitious. My A goal is to beat my 1:47:21 from that race; my B goal is to come in faster than 1:50, and my C goal is to come in under 2 hours. I am also sort of hoping to win my age group, but that's not really much of a goal as typically this race doesn't attract a lot of fast old ladies, and I've won most years despite the 10-year age groupings this race uses.

Last year I started out fast, with an ambitious 1:43 goal (which would require an average pace faster than 8 minute miles), but after three miles my pace went north of that mark and never got back down. I hope to not make that mistake again this year. My training mileage has been lower than it was that year (about 31mpw vs 38 mpw), but my overall weekly workout time is about the same (8 hours/week) due to more mountain biking and more trail running (which is slower than road running at the same effort level, and therefore takes more time). I also felt that I suffered last year from having run a 10M race two weeks before, and then having a wonky taper of mostly mountain biking. So I'm hoping that I can maintain a steady effort comparable to the tempo runs I've done over the past few months, 8:05-8:15 pace, and not blow up. Cross your fingers for me!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/172961.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
25th-May-2019 06:41 pm - biking AND house!
As some of you know, Colorado had a late-season snowstorm earlier this week, but it cleared up beautifully for the Memorial Day weekend so we went on a bike ride! Here is the Strava map: basically, we rode the Skyline Trail (for some value of 'rode' which includes a whole lot of walking the bike up steep and rocky switchbacks, for me at least) up to Raider Ridge, then down the other side, then looped around through the Horse Gulch area and back through the trail system to the Skyline Trail trailhead, then back home. We actually rode to the trailhead on various bits of singletrack and one dirt road, so the amount of pavement totaled less than a mile, yay!

Here is Britt at our lunch spot on top of the ridge (and I know I've posted other photos at this very spot, but lookit all the snow in the mountains!):

Lunch on Raider Ridge

I also wanted to post more house photos, since I realized that basically everything I've put up here since we moved in has been either the exterior or the great room/kitchen. Here is our sunroom, which will be getting houseplants eventually. It's designed so that in the summer, the sun doesn't come in due to the angle and overhang, but in the winter the sun should come in and warm up the black stone floor. The view is not as dramatic as on the other side of the house, but it looks out over - well, our driveway, first, but then a golf course (my beautiful lawn that I don't have to maintain!) and Raider Ridge in the background (the ridge we climbed today, though this view is further southwest than the spot where we were).


Here is my office! I waited to photograph it until I got my new office furniture (the Metro line from Pier One, rather simply made but solid wood). I still need to KonMari some of my office things (and put up some pictures!), but I am pleased with it as a workspace.

Ilana's office Ilana's office

The thing on the left side of the view with the rock wall is the cat perch, which - I'm thinking of getting rid of since it doesn't seem to be bringing Lucy much joy. Instead she likes to sit in the bottom windows, which open and have screens across them (she loves sitting in them when they're opened), and the other evening I caught her sitting in the small upper window:

Ilana's office with bonus cat

We still haven't put out the patio furniture because the landscapers are still working (well, the past few weeks they have not been here, which is a bit aggravating - we want this all done!) but I'm looking forward to moving our primary living space outside!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/172649.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
6th-May-2019 03:49 pm - oh, yeah, we moved :-)
We moved into our new house! Okay, we moved in three weeks ago, but the settling in has been gradual and so I had been waiting to document things until we got a few more boxes unpacked. Even now, things are still not yet all in their proper places. My desk would have had to be disassembled to get it in through the narrow office doors, and it seemed to me to be too big for the space anyway, so I sold it on Craigslist and bought a smaller one from Pier 1 (which should be delivered this Friday). In the meantime I have my computer on a table, which is not ideal. Books are still in boxes as most of them had lived in the built-in bookcases in our old house. The landscaping and patio work is still in progress. (Noisily, from 7 am to 6pm Monday through Thursday. Ugh.)

Here is the front door. The dirt and trash on each side of the steps is at this moment being replaced by little plants and mulch and rocks. The large windows to the left are reflecting the ridge behind me, as is the rightmost window, but the tall windows on either side of the door show the crossbeam of the back patio roof, and the view beyond.

Front entry

Step inside...Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/172380.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
2nd-May-2019 04:08 pm - White Rim 2019
Our friend Ryan puts a White Rim trip together pretty much every year, and because she likes us :-) we get to go pretty much every year: I've posted here about 2017, 2016, and 2013 (and we also did it last year, though I only mentioned it briefly in a general post, and we did it twice with other groups when we lived in Boulder in the 1990s). This year's trip was only two nights as opposed to the three we had always previously taken for the ~100 miles; we went clockwise, which we'd only done once before (in 2013). It was just three couples: me and Britt, Ryan and Steve, and Kristin and Rolfe, with whom we have done many vacations before but never the White Rim. Rolfe had done it solo as a one-day trip several times, but this meant he'd never stopped at any of the interesting side-hikes, while Kristin had never been here before, so we were all looking forward to showing them the amazing sights. We also opted to take our Sportsmobile as a support vehicle, which was the first time for it as well.

The reason for compressing the trip into three days, and going clockwise, was so that we could camp at White Crack, which is usually a lunch stop for us. But this meant that the first day would be on the order of 46 miles, so I cheerfully volunteered to drive the first leg from the staging area at the Mineral Bottom Road: paved road to the turnoff for the Shafer Trail just inside Canyonlands National Park (the ranger gave me some shit for using Britt's parks pass for the rest of the group riding behind, and apparently gave them some shit as well, but she eventually let everyone in without making anyone pay extra); then down the Shafer Trail switchbacks, which was fortunately not too exciting - I did have to jockey around one tight switchback, but luckily I could see ahead enough to use the pull-outs to avoid oncoming traffic, as I wasn't too thrilled about the possibility of having to back up to a pull-out, as uphill traffic has right of way on these twisty one-lane roads; and then along the 4wd shelf road to Musselman Arch, where I traded off with Kristin.

Even after having driven the first 17 or so miles, it was a long way to camp, especially since the weather was dark and threatening; there was a bit of drizzle and a lot of wind, which (of course) was usually in our faces. But it made for some dramatic photos, as the Indian paintbrush seemed to glow against the dark clouds:

IMG_20190426_152905 IMG_20190426_192225

More photos and blah blahCollapse )

Flickr album with these plus a few more photos (and no blah blah)

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/172059.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
15th-Apr-2019 05:36 pm - I won a 5k (sort of)
Yesterday I ran my first race in nearly a year, the Run the Rim 5k, and...I won! There are a whole lot of asterisks and caveats here, but it was a great feeling, and a good sign overall. The race was around the local college campus, Fort Lewis, and the start was about a mile from my new house, a perfect warm-up!

My time was 22:38, which sounds great, but actually the race was quite a bit short because the organizers (the Fort Lewis exercise science class) had to change the planned course at the last minute. My Garmin read 2.86; feeding that time into an equivalency calculator spits out 24:41 as the equivalent actual 5k time, which amusingly enough is one second slower than a 5k I ran almost exactly four years ago which I referred to as "the slowest 5k I've ever won". (So I guess it's been dethroned!) This was, like that race, a fairly small one, and I suspect the better runners mostly chose the 10k, which was two loops of the same (short) course. Incidentally, the 10k started fifteen minutes before the 5k, and the leader passed me on his second loop shortly after the 1-mile mark! Not long after that, I managed to pass the second-place woman in the 5k, and take the lead; I'd started about in the second rank of runners and had passed two other women and one man. The three leading men in the 5k were ahead of me all the way, though nobody passed me other than the 10k leader and the second-place 10k runner, who passed me in the last few hundred yards before the finish line.

My goal going into this race was to not run any miles slower than 8 minutes, and I (just) succeeded, with splits of 7:59, 7:50, and a pace of 7:56 over the last 0.86 mile. My equivalent time is also nearly a minute faster than my last race which was almost a year ago, 25:35 at the Earth Day 5k, so I feel pretty good about that. I won a $50 gift certificate to a local running store, so that's a $32 gain over my entry fee! Plus I got to get my heart pumping and do a little fast running again.

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/171800.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
7th-Apr-2019 09:39 am - still running
Huh, from recent posts in my journal it looks like all I'm doing is building a house. Well, that's...not far from the truth. I see that the last time I posted about running was last August, when I decided to DNS the Thirsty Thirteen half marathon, and the last biking was our Thanksgiving vacation to Scottsdale. But I get super antsy without physical activity, so I've definitely been doing stuff, I just haven't been writing about it.

After several years of "exceptional drought" we finally had a relatively epic winter. It snowed a lot in town, and it snowed a LOT up at Purgatory. We pretty quickly earned out our ski passes, going once or twice a week.

IMG_20190315_140609 IMG_20190222_145121

Even with the snow, I was able to run 4-5 times a week throughout the winter, because Durango keeps the (paved) river trail plowed, and at midday it was usually pretty pleasant. Because of the issues I had after my pelvic stress fracture, I've been trying to keep up my stretching and core exercises and increasing mileage verrrrrry slowly, so I'm only up to a slow 35mpw right now, but I registered for the Steamworks Half Marathon in early June, so I've got something to train toward.

We also took out our mountain bikes for the first time since our Arizona trip! Things are still muddy up here (though rapidly drying out), but there are a few trail areas near Farmington, New Mexico, about an hour's drive away. Last Saturday we went to an area new to us, the Road Apple Rally trails, and spent a very pleasant couple of hours.

On the Kinsey Trail, near Farmington NM

Other than that, we are still madly packing and moving things and cleaning. The movers come on Friday! The closing on our old house is a week later!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/171676.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
25th-Mar-2019 03:55 pm - light at the end of the tunnel!
After a few weeks of pretty much nothing, the crews came back and are working full-tilt on our new house. We have an estimated date for the Certificate of Occupancy, which means we have an estimated official move date: April 12th - six days before the closing on our current house! We've started packing things in boxes and moving them into the back of the new garage. This is meant to save time, which I'm sure it will, but it also means that e.g. I can only cook things I know how to cook, or that I can find recipes for on the internet, because all my cookbooks are in a box in the back of the garage now. (As are my summer clothes, my running trophies and medals, most of our backpacking and camping gear, and all the pretty souvenirs that lived on display shelves in the living room.)

Photos!Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/171436.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
2nd-Mar-2019 05:38 pm - eventually we might have a new house
Nearly two months after discovering problems with the wood flooring, we...still don't have a new floor. The old floor has been ripped up, though, finally, and the new flooring that we chose is in boxes waiting to be installed. The delay is because manufacturer wanted a second inspector to come look at it, and he couldn't get here until about a week into February, and then we had to wait for the approval, and then the guy who was going to rip out the flooring couldn't get here because we got a lot of snow. The cement underneath needs patching before the new new floor gets laid, and the trim will need to be redone. For a manufacturing error that we are not having to pay for, we are still having to pay for an awful lot of labor...

(Btw, if you want to see the sort of problems we had with the original flooring, here are two photos showing the cracking along the planks.)

A few things have been finished, though. The hardware in the master bath sink area is looking pretty good:

vanity cabinet and sinks and mirrors

The picture was taken before the bedroom floor was taken out, so you can still see it in the background. Also, our custom range hood has been installed, along with the redone backsplash. The black under the cabinets is the same metal as the hood; the inset granite panel is the same "volcano" pattern that is on the kitchen island (hidden under the blue protective foam). The rest of the countertop is a black granite with a very subtle pattern.

broad kitchen view closer view of range area

Britt and the contractor have also been discussing putting rails on the roof to keep the snowslides under control. Right now our unfinished back patio is rather covered, as seen by the view from the patio looking along the wall where my office and bedroom are, and by the view out my office window:

pile of snow next to house pile of snow through window

Seven weeks to closing on our current house. I suspect we'll need every bit of it...

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/171102.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
8th-Jan-2019 04:12 pm - house update
We went up to the house on Saturday to see if any progress had been made. And...there is some. The floor has been completely installed (with the replacement floorboards), and that means the baseboard trim could be installed also. (No photos, though, because it's all covered with paper for protection). Unhappy ETA And...it turns out the floors are having problems (which we couldn't see because of the paper) and a rep for the company is coming out to meet with the contractor (and with Britt) tomorrow, sigh. But it's looking like all the floors are going to need to be replaced, again, and that is going to push things even farther out. Hopefully we will be able to move in by our closing date, 3 months+ into the future, but that is not a given!

The mirrors are up in the bathroom, though alas, we realized that the countertop color we chose doesn't look that great with the wood trim. Though that's just looking at the bit of sink backsplash since the counter and vanity drawers are all still clad in protective foam - hopefully it will look better when it's all visible. The kitchen backsplash and trim has been removed in preparation for replacing it with a slightly different arrangement; it had been installed without reference to our design plan, and the designer asked us to redesign it anyway because she didn't think it looked good, so we came up with a new plan and I guess that's what they've started in on.

But we've had a lot of snow, which has been great for skiing, and helping with our drought conditions, but not so great for getting our exterior hardscaping done. Which means that our steps and patio aren't safe to use without a lot of care (the flagstones are arranged but not cemented) and so they can't bring in the appliances. Most of the lighting fixtures and fans are also not yet installed, though some switches have been added.

I looked around and I said, "This doesn't look even close to being done!"

Britt looked around and said, "The things that are left will go fast once they can be done!"

So I don't know! BUT! I'm posting today because there is important news on the second half of the equation of us moving: WE SOLD OUR CURRENT HOUSE!!!!!

Okay, actually we just put it under contract today. So not "sold" yet, really, but I'm pretty sure this will go through; the couple we sold to are super nice and our house's idiosyncrasies, the things we did in remodeling to suit us but which wouldn't necessarily suit others, match their needs. (Like for example, we have a loft master bedroom/bath, and then a guest bedroom below, but because the loft is so open it's not suitable for a couple with a child, or someone who wants a roommate.) Best of all, because they haven't sold their own home yet (it's out in the country, and they want to move to town) and need the proceeds to afford another house, they were happy to set the closing date in mid-April, which gives us a lot of flexibility for our new house being finished and habitable and being able to choose when to move in (and so not have to move during a snowstorm, for example). If they don't sell their house, we'll carry the note (so they pay us directly rather than a bank) for a year, which is fine with us since the house money isn't critical for us and hey, we'll get interest.

So things are happening, but not immediately, which is about the perfect situation!

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/170918.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
Our original Thanksgiving plans had us moving into our new house, but if you've been reading this journal, you know that our move-in has been delayed until sometime in January. This left us with both a hole in our schedule, and some frustration, since we've been putting off vacationing in order to keep an eye on the building process. Because of this, Britt suggested we - go on vacation. And I had the perfect idea. During last year's Thanksgiving trip to Arizona, during which Britt and a couple of our friends rode a hard point-to-point trail while I car shuttled for them and did easier day rides, a real highlight was my solo day at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I had told Britt that someday we had to take a trip there together, so he could experience it as well - and so we decided to go to Scottsdale, Arizona, and stay in a hotel near the Preserve, and ride there and in other nearby areas. (Of which there are many. We rode and hiked in the two large connected areas on the east of this map, and also on the "Sonoran Loop" which is the furthest south part of the large area at the top-center of the map.) Spoiler alert: excellent decision.

I'd actually been up for camping, but Britt wanted to go full-vacation-mode and stay in a fancy resort. As it happens, Thanksgiving is still low season in Scottsdale - one of the waiters I spoke with said that it's really not that busy until Christmas - so we were able to get a decent deal at The Boulders. This is a lovely resort with two golf courses, but for us the main attraction was that it is only a few miles from a connector trail to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (Well, that and the hot tub. And the four restaurants!) Also, the name is not a lie:


Lots of photos! And me blathering on!Collapse )

In conclusion:

2018-11-25 14.54.44

(40 photos - and I might add more - and no blah blah blah at Flickr. I haven't put captions on the photos yet, though, and...I might not get to it, be warned.)

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/170552.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
16th-Nov-2018 04:37 pm - the house at the end of the rainbow
I'm beginning to think this house thing is a very expensive mirage :( Originally we were targeting late October, then it was pushed back to "around Thanksgiving", now it's going to be next year! Mid-January, at the earliest. I've stopped hoping for snow despite my desire for a decent ski season and an end to our drought; well, I still want it to snow, but not until after we move...

The thing that's slowing the process now is that the floorboards (an engineered hickory) were delivered from two batches, and the installer fought with them for days before he noticed the labels on the box saying that the batches were incompatible. The little bit that got done in the master bedroom and my office has to be torn up, and it all shipped back, and replaced with a single consistent batch - and that's probably going to take at least a month if not longer.

Stupid floorboards.

In better news, other stuff is looking good. We're having issues with the design of the kitchen backsplash area above the stove, and the pantry shelves were put in wrong and had to be fixed, but other than that things are progressing. The upper arched windows were delivered and installed (originally one was broken so we had to wait for a replacement), the wood stove has been installed, most doors and trim are on, and the flagstone work on the front steps and back patio is underway: Lotsa photosCollapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/170350.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
The November issue cover story, "Battle for the American West", talks about the reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument and includes a dramatic nighttime photo of Procession Panel, which I posted a (much more amateur) photo of back in September.

Later in the same issue is a short article "Caught in Chaos" about refugees from Venezuela fleeing to Brazil. These refugees are the indigenous Wareo people, who live in the Orinoco River delta - where we visited on our sailboat in 2001! Our website is no longer online, but here's a page from the Wayback Machine about our visit to the Wareo: Cambio

Originally posted on my primary journal at https://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/170158.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
2nd-Apr-2017 03:09 pm - clawing my way back
A month after my last post in which I bemoaned my February lost to illness, and I'm happy to say that things have been on a steady upward climb. I managed just under 118 miles in March, a huge improvement over February's 48 and the most since last October. My pace is also getting back under 10 minute miles for the most part, which - this is a small victory, since back when I was actually in shape my pace was generally 9-9:20. But it's still a victory.

Last week I ran 35 miles, which is, again, the most in a week since October 2016, with a 9-mile long run yesterday (at 9:54 pace!) that was my longest single run since The Other Half on October 23rd. Today I ache like I was hit by a truck, but I did it. Victory.

I'm trying to stick to a 5 days run, 2 days bike schedule. During the winter I skied once or twice a week, so this is just the logical springtime extension. Plus, we have a White Rim bike trip (four days) planned for mid-April, and a week-long ride to Moab in September (the same hut system as, but a different route from, the ride we did last summer) and anyway I have that gorgeous expensive mtb we bought last year, so riding doesn't suck so bad (and I have to justify the expense). So far we've been on our local trail system three times - it's really only recently become dry enough to ride - and we took one jaunt out to Phil's World, a fabulous trail network about an hour's drive from here. (I should probably go for a ride today, but the weather's kind of icky. Plus, I ache like I was hit by a truck.)ETA: We did actually go for a ride when it cleared up in the afternoon, 12 miles on the paved rec trail. Felt pretty good, actually!

If I can manage 35mpw more or less through April, that would be about 140 miles. (I'm talking running, now.) And if I can manage 40-45mpw in May, the Steamworks Half in June might not be horrible. I might even win my age group, though that's more because I'm old than because I'm any good. Which would be awesome, since prizes are beer. And then I'd have a real victory!

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/160648.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
4th-Mar-2017 09:23 am - tiny update
You might be wondering if I've dropped off the face of the earth, since I haven't posted since October! The truth is that when I went on vacations I wanted to post about, I was too busy to compose posts, and running has not been worthy of being posted about because I've been sick most of the winter and am only now beginning to get out again (even though I'm still not completely well).

Vacations were a week in the BVI on a sailboat charter with friends over Thanksgiving, plus a few days of land-based tourism there and in San Juan, PR on each end; and a long weekend over Christmas in Santa Fe, eating delicious food and visiting museums.

As far as the running goes, I dithered on signing up for the Canyonlands Half in March before the price went up in February, but ultimately decided I didn't have enough base to get in the shape I wanted to be for it. Turned out to be a good decision as I came down with a respiratory thing the first week of February and am still fighting it. I did register for the Steamworks Half which is in June; hopefully I will be back on form by then!

Being sick most of February also meant that my skiing ground to a halt, but I finally got out yesterday for a glorious bluebird day which reminded me of how nice it feels to twist one's body around and work with gravity to glide across the snow. Looking forward to our next storm!

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/160298.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
28th-Oct-2016 04:14 pm - The Other Half 2016
Me cresting a hill in The Other HalfThe last time I ran The Other Half I was light, strong, had just turned fifty; and not only did I set a PR, I was the first female Masters (40+) finisher. That was three years ago, and a lot has happened since then. After herniating a disc in late 2014, I had to stop running for a while, and though I've been clawing my way back to fitness I'm a lot slower and running much lower volume than I was then. Also - and I'm beginning to think this is more of a factor than I originally expected - I've hit menopause head-on, though it's not strictly official yet (the medical definition is one year without periods; I'm now at six months). By contrast, in 2013 I still had a more or less monthly cycle, though not long after I started getting hot flashes and ever more widely-spaced periods.

In my previous post I said "While I'd like to run under 1:40 again...I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course." Well, I managed those last goals by the skin of my teeth!

I drove out to Moab on Saturday afternoon, stopping in Cortez (about an hour from here) to ride a quick loop at Phil's World on my mountain bike. I met my friends Kevin and Nora for dinner at Miguel's, which is a venerable pre-Moab-race tradition, and then went back to my motel to lay out my clothes, take a soak in the hot tub, and then get to bed early to rest up before my 5:50am alarm. It was a great plan, but alas my sleep has been terrible lately (another consequence of menopause) and I did not get nearly as much sleep as I really would have liked.

I walked the few blocks to the Moab Valley Inn to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the start. A tall young man with a shaved head slid in next to me, and as the bus turned up the canyon and the predawn darkness began to lighten, he commented on how beautiful it was, with a distinctly non-US accent. His name was Kees ("Case"), and he was from the Netherlands. He had just finished the first week of a three-week vacation around the US southwest with his wife, at the end of which he would run the New York City Marathon. "My wife saw there was this race while we were here, so I signed up for it," he told me. We ended up chatting the rest of the way up the canyon, and also hanging out together in the starting area. He would be taking it relatively easy since he'd be running the NYCM, though as a much faster runner his "relatively easy" was still faster than my "all-out"!

At the start, I drank some coffee and attempted to eat the Clif bar that had been in my packet. (Usually I have something with me for breakfast but I didn't manage to get anything this year!) Unfortunately, it tasted terrible to me - it was the new "nut butter filled" and I am not a fan, as it turns out. So I only ate a few bites and then threw it out, but I wasn't really that hungry, and there would be Clif shots at mile 6.

I started just in front of the 1:40 pacer, which was more an accident than anything else. I have noticed that the pace team the Moab races use seem to be fairly bad more often than not - once I was on pace for 1:35 when the 1:40 pacer passed me - so I wasn't planning on running with him. But as it happened I ran pretty much alongside him (either in front of - I could hear him talking - or next to him) until just after the big hill at mile 8, at which point he seemingly accelerated away from me.

What really happened, of course, is that I slowed way down. It wasn't a horrible fade or anything, just that the hills took it out of me, which has certainly happened before. Also, it was a very hot day, or at least, hot for me. I overheat very easily, which is why I'd made the last-minute decision to wear only a sportsbra and shorts. I drank at every aid station, but I still felt as though I wasn't getting enough fluids. I took a Clif shot as planned from the people handing them out at mile 6, but I only managed a little squeeze of it because I was just too thirsty. In retrospect I should have stopped taking water and gone for the sports drink instead.


Here are the splits. I set my Garmin to manual split, as I almost always do in races, but for some reason my watch was misbehaving and frequently when I poked the button as I passed the mile marker, nothing happened, and I had to re-poke it a few times before it actually registered. I also missed the mile 7 marker somehow. So instead of reporting the actual splits I'm reporting the pace per split, which might be .99 miles or might be 1.01 (or 2.01).

mile  pace  Average HR      Max HR    Elev chg
 1   07:37.36	139 (68%)	151 (78%)	65
 2   07:28.61	151 (78%)	155 (81%)	-52
 3   07:27.11	152 (78%)	155 (81%)	57
 4   07:34.76	154 (80%)	157 (83%)	-54
 5   07:33.63	154 (80%)	156 (82%)	-4
 6   07:41.24	156 (82%)	159 (84%)	-20
7-8  08:20.85	156 (82%)	165 (89%)	210
 9   07:27.91	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	-107
10   07:57.92	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	5
11   07:34.99	157 (83%)	160 (85%)	-60
12   08:01.73	156 (82%)	160 (86%)	-9
13   07:18.58	158 (84%)	162 (87%)	-82
13.1 06:56.10	161 (86%)	162 (87%)	-1

A couple of things. First, the elevation change is just the difference between the start and finish, and can mask a lot of up-and-down in between. (Here is a map and elevation chart.) Second, the HR is given in both beats per minute (bpm) and % of HR reserve, which is the difference between resting and max HR. However, I'm pretty sure that what I'm using for my max is wrong and should be lower. This is supported by my max readings being only 165, when in previous Moab half marathons they have been in the lower 170s, and my average reading has been in the lower 160s. Finally, as usual my Garmin read more than 13.1 at the end, though with a Garmin distance of only 13.17 this was one of my shorter half marathons - I guess I'm getting better at running tangents!


My final chip time was 1:41:32, just 12 seconds faster than my first time on this course and my nominal goal. This was good enough for first in my age group (50-54F) out of 42 as well as placing me 16th woman (out of 526) and 57th person (out of 845). Though also, I came in 6 seconds behind the 55-59 winner - and both of us beat all the 40-44 and 45-59 women except for two, one of who came in second overall, the other who came in first Master's female (with a slower time than my win 3 years ago la la la!)

I ran in the Saucony Fastwitch, a shoe I bought at a fairly large discount not too long ago. Good thing it was cheap:


I have a terrible footstrike with my left foot. :-(

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/160189.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
My running's been sporadic over the last two years, after my herniated disc injury, much lower mileage than it used to be, and alas much slower as well. But after a spring and early summer more devoted to mountain biking than to running, I've started to get serious again.

Though I've run a dozen races post-injury, I didn't really train for any of them, and of course that shows in my race times. In 2013 I set non-downhill 5K (21:43), half (1:35:55), and marathon PRs; post-injury my best 5K was 24:12, my best half just under 1:44, and I haven't dared run another marathon.

But I'm a competitive person. I like to race because I like to do well - and I don't like not doing well. I registered for The Other Half Marathon, one of my favorite races and the course on which I ran my half PR (these things are probably related :-) with the idea that I'd have 12 weeks after our Weminuche backpacking trip to train. I wrote an "unplanny plan" - a skeleton layout of weekly mileage goals, long run goals, and key workouts - and started doing it. And now I'm halfway there!

I'd been running 20-35mpw most weeks, with occasional weeks of 10 miles or less when I was doing other things or sick, so I decided to start out with three weeks at 40mpw, followed by three at 45 - though the second week of this included most of Labor Day weekend and our Rio Chama raft trip, so my actual mileage that week was only 38. I also started incorporating speedwork: first strides and hill sprints, which I'd done occasionally in the previous month but now do weekly, and then formal intervals, followed by tempos.

Now I'm about to ramp up to 50mpw for the rest of the cycle, and I feel pretty good about it. The more I run, the more comfortable I feel running. I also find that consistent mileage (which I haven't had in a few years!) improves my fitness quickly. And I got a reminder of that when I ran a 5K this past Saturday morning.

I was a bit handicapped by the loss of my Garmin. Well, I didn't really lose it; the strap broke when I took it off my wrist after Tuesday's run. I ordered a new strap kit from Amazon that was supposed to arrive on Friday, but somehow it ended up getting sent to the wrong transit center, causing a delay. (It's still not here. The tracking page says Wednesday. So far it's gone from the Garmin warehouse in Phoenix AZ to two different places in California, and is now in Salt Lake City...)

The day after my strap broke I had a 2x2 tempo run (after my usual two-mile warm-up: 2 miles tempo pace, 2 minutes easy, 2 miles tempo pace, where 'tempo' = 'more or less hoped-for half-marathon pace') and I thought maybe I'd try it by feel, so I put what was left of the watch in my pocket and set out. Unfortunately I couldn't feel the watch buzz at the first mile mark, which meant I wouldn't be able to tell when my intervals started and stopped (okay, I know this route so I pretty much know where 2 miles is, but still) so I took it out and held it in my hand as I ran.

My next run two days later was an easy run, so this time I did just keep the Garmin in my pocket the whole time. And what do you know, my pace - retrieved after the run - was pretty much my usual easy pace. By then I had gotten the notification from Amazon that my strap wasn't coming in time for the race. I decided that it would be good practice in racing by feel, since I knew I wasn't in PR shape so if I failed, I wouldn't be too upset. My goals for the 5K would be: a) get a new valid HRmax, b) pace reasonably despite not being able to look at my Garmin (I kept it in my pocket), c) come in 1-3 and get an award (no age groups), d) break 24 minutes.

I ran the 2.4 miles to the race as a warm-up, with my Garmin in my pocket; checking it later, I was a little on the fast side but not bad. The race itself was a typical small Durango race, though with both a 5K and a 10K starting together, so I had to look around and see both who else was lining up near the front, and which course they were running, according to their bibs. One of the fast women I know was out of town, according to her husband Steve who was there (he won the men's 5K) and I didn't see anyone else that looked definitively faster than me, so I was feeling pretty confident as we took off.

I knew I couldn't keep up with Steve, nor with the other fast men who were at the front, so I didn't try. Instead I attempted to keep a hard-but-not-brutal pace and not let any women pass me. The course went gently downhill for the first mile, then there was a short uphill followed by a steeper downhill to the 5K turn-around. Unusually for a small local race, they'd gotten three bands to play along the course, which was fun and motivating, especially since after the guys had taken off I was pretty much running by myself. Every so often I'd glance over my shoulder but never saw anyone there other than one guy who passed me about a half mile in.

When Steve passed me going the other way we yelled cheers and encouragement at each other. At the turnaround I saw there was a woman maybe ten seconds behind me, but after I glanced around at the next curve she was gone, so I figured she was running the 10K. The second half of the course was net uphill, since it was an out-and-back, and I concentrated on holding what I thought was a reasonably fast pace without blowing up.

Since my Garmin was in my pocket I had no idea what pace I was going, and so I was pleased to see the finish clock reading just under 23 minutes as I approached; I sped up to try to get a 22:xx but the seconds ticked over inexorably, and the clock read 23:06 as I hurtled myself past the finish line and then tried to catch my breath.

As far as my pre-race goals, I'll give myself 2.5 out of 4. On the negative side, my heart rate data was not as unambiguous as I would have liked, with no real legitimate max, but I think I am fairly comfortable saying that it supports the numbers I've been using for HR training. My pacing felt okay while I was doing it - I didn't feel like I was dying halfway through - but my splits were terrible, though part of that's likely due to the down-and-up course profile.

On the other hand, I smashed my sub-24 goal. Still nowhere near what I used to do but my best 5K in two years. Oh yeah, and I won. First overall woman, 4th or 5th person. Which basically means that the fast women didn't show up, but hey, I got two $50 gift certificates, one for each of the running stores in town, so that's a $70 profit on my entry fee investment!

Now I'm looking ahead to the half marathon in six weeks. While I'd like to run under 1:40 again, this 5K result is not as good as I'd need for that; plus, while my tempo workouts are indicating I'm in better shape than I was before my last half, they're not supporting the sub-1:40 either. Of course, I still have six weeks. But I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course.

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/159963.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
10th-Sep-2016 05:25 pm - Chamarama
Over Labor Day weekend we rafted the Rio Chama, a wild and scenic river a couple of hours away in New Mexico. We did this trip five years ago (also on Labor Day weekend!), with a completely different group of people, and once in between then and now. The river is dam controlled with releases on weekends; though sometimes enough water flows during the week to float it, weekend launches are restricted by permit. Fortunately, our friend Jenny got a permit, and (maybe to pay us back for including her on several backpack trips this summer!) invited us along.

Not a lot to say about the trip this time, other than it was delightfully non-eventful (where event = raft capsize or camp injury or other thing you really don't want to happen). The only minor disaster happened in our second night's camp, where Ryan misplaced her iPhone and despite ransacking the camp, none of us could find it. We were preparing to leave when she jumped into the water next to her raft and started squelching around with her feet, in case she'd dropped it into the water the previous night without realizing it...and yep, there it was! AND due to its protective case, it still worked!

But have some photos, anyway:Collapse )

Above pictures and selected others (16 total), no words, at Flickr
All the photos (34) at Google Photos

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/159507.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
19th-Aug-2016 04:11 pm - starscapes, moonscapes
We did our annual backpack in the Weminuche Wilderness at the end of July, but gah, I have so many photos to go through and so much to write about that I haven't even started trying! So instead have a very short write-up about a mini-trip we did last week to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico.

As you probably know, the Perseid meteor shower peaked last Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and as it was expected to be an "outburst" event with many more and brighter meteors than usual, we decided we ought to spend that night in the desert, where we could sleep outside far from city lights. For previous celestial events we've camped at Valley of the Gods near Mexican Hat, Utah, and originally we'd been planning to head out there, but at the last minute we decided to go south rather than west. Neither of us had been to the Bisti Badlands, and it's about the same driving distance, around two hours.

We headed out after work, following Google Maps. When we got there, we found a nice flat spot to park the Sportsmobile, with room to lay out a tarp and sleeping bags nearby, not far from the main parking area. Two other vehicles were parked not far away, and as we surveyed our spot we noticed a group of people with packs heading into the hoodoos. Clearly others had the same idea!

After a brief hike down a wash through some of the formations, we returned to the van for drinks and dinner. Then, as the sky darkened, we took out a pair of binoculars for each of us and looked at the various planets: Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus were all visible near the west horizon, while Mars and Saturn were in Scorpio near the moon - a five-planet night! (Mercury was particularly cool to see since it's rarely visible.) I saw an amazing meteor slash across the sky even before it got fully dark! We went to sleep around 10 and woke up around 1:30 am, after the moon had set, and watched the Perseid display for a couple of hours. There were only a few really bright ones, but the frequency of meteors was impressive - sometimes we'd see one after another, four or five within a minute.

(Alas, no photos of the light show - our camera wasn't good enough, and we were too busy using our eyeballs.)

When we could no longer keep our eyes open, we went back to sleep. The sun woke us after we'd had far too little sleep, but we got up anyway, because we wanted to hike around the badlands before it got too hot. This is seriously a wilderness, in that there are no trails and no water sources: hikers are advised to bring a GPS (we had a GPS app) and plenty of water. A map at the parking area indicated several areas of interest, and Britt had grabbed the coordinates of a few others from people's web pages.

So what did we find? Wild and wonderful pillars:


The "Cracked Eggs", oval rocks with reddish layers peeking out from under the pale tan sandstone (no doubt they hatched dinosaurs!):

Cracked Eggs

Eerie arches:

Bisti Arch

And other strange landscapes, weirdly-shaped rocks, and petrified wood that looked exactly like someone had just split a few logs and left them there with the woodchips scattered around them, and it had all bleached in the sun. Then we tried to lift them.... It was like a practical joke played by nature, "Haha, you think this is wood, but it's NOT!"

Petrified wood

The best of our photos are on Flickr. We definitely need to go back at a better time of year (spring or fall) and explore further!

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/159424.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
13th-Jul-2016 01:49 pm - In which we go to Moab the hard way
Moab, in Utah, isn't very far away from Durango. We go there three or four times a year, for the Canyonlands running races in March and October, for the nearby backpacking when our mountains are too snow-covered for access, and for the world-class mountain biking. It takes a bit less than three hours to get there by car; how much less depends on your willingness to exceed the speed limit, and your need for gas and bathroom stops.

Or you can bike there in seven arduous days, over 215 miles of secondary roads, jeep roads, and trails, up mountains and across desert valleys along the route set up by San Juan Huts. (Here is a map Britt put together, showing the route - click "->7.5' Topo Maps" and zoom in to see it more clearly.)

Want to guess what we did? Yeah. Strenuous climbs, scary descents, rain, heat, mud, and mosquitoes - also killer views, deserted roads, and cold beers enjoyed with good friends. I call it a win.

Riding toward Geyser Pass

Day by day trip report, with lots of photosCollapse )

All the photos (119!), none of the blahblah

Advice I'd give to anyone contemplating this tripCollapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/159117.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
24th-Jun-2016 06:33 pm - Breckenridge biking
I go to a conference every June in Breckenridge, which for me is partly an opportunity to listen to climate modelers talk about just how doomed we are, partly a chance to reconnect with my old friends from Boulder and remind my co-workers that I am more than just a mysterious voice on the conference calls and a response on the other end of the email, and partly an excuse to go mountain biking on some awesome high-elevation trails. :-) Biking in Breck! With photos!Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/158820.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
14th-Jun-2016 06:41 pm - bikin' around
I've been biking a lot lately. This isn't because I've fallen out of love with running, or because I'm too injured to run - okay, I'm a little injured, but it doesn't keep me from running. But Britt and I, and four friends, will be doing the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab ride at the end of the month: that's 215 miles over 7 days, mostly on secondary dirt road, with a whole lot of elevation gain and loss. So we've been getting our butts in shape by riding a lot of steep high-elevation jeep roads and dirt roads, and a bit of single track.

So have some photos.Collapse )

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/158686.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
8th-Jun-2016 05:35 pm - Joy on the River of Sorrows
Many of the place names here in the southwest US come from the Jesuit explorers, who tended to the religious in their name choices. For example: the river they named the Dolores, which means Sorrows, as in Our Lady Of. The most sorrowful thing about the modern-day Dolores River is that it's been dammed to create McPhee Reservoir, the water of which goes to irrigate the alfalfa and bean fields of local farmers, and most of the year only a trickle of water flows through the beautiful and remote downstream canyons. So when the Dolores Water Conservancy District announced that the reservoir was full enough - and the inflow from snowmelt high enough - to do a recreational release for the first time since 2011, local boaters rejoiced.

We'd run two sections of the Dolores before: miles 47-97 (Slickrock to Bedrock) twice, most recently in 2008, and mile 141 to the confluence with the Colorado River, the Gateway run, in 2011. When we heard that the river would be boatable beginning the weekend of June 4th, we thought of doing Slickrock to Bedrock again, but we couldn't find anyone willing to join us other than right on the weekend, and we knew it would be crazy crowded then. (You need to have at least two vehicles to shuttle between put-in and take-out, and anyway, it's more fun to boat with friends.) But then on Monday, our friend Joe asked if we'd be interested in a day trip on Tuesday, in the Ponderosa Gorge section (miles 1-19), which we had never done. And so we got to see another part of the Dolores!

At the Bradfield Bridge put-in on the Dolores

Ponderosa Gorge is a beautiful canyon, walls of red sandstone contrasting with the dark green of pine and juniper. The grass grows lushly along the banks. No bugs, and few birds, but we did get dive-bombed by a succession of butterflies who must have thought our brightly-colored rafts some new gigantic species of flower before realizing their mistake and flying away, disappointed.

We hadn't brought our real camera, and the river was busy enough that I was reluctant to take out my phone-camera while underway, so I only have a few mediocre photos from some places where we stopped on the shore for breaks. The rapids were frequent but not very difficult, and so it was a great deal of fun and not too traumatic - at least, not for us. We did pass a group obviously drying out their gear on shore after one of their number, in an inflatable kayak, bumped a rock and tipped out. We passed a few other groups taking breaks on shore, or camping, as many of them were doing multi-day trips, taking out at Slickrock. But mostly we saw only each other -- and, of course, the butterflies.

In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River

The sun beat down on us from a hot blue sky, but the river, fresh from the bottom of McPhee, was icy cold, so it was really very pleasant. Toward the end of the day the walls shaded us; they'd grown impressively tall and sheer as we had continued down the canyon, and of course this was where the hardest rapids were! But they turned out to be only a very little bit more challenging than the previous ones, and none of us had any difficulties. (Which was partly due to Britt, the most experienced among us, taking the lead. So much easier to navigate rapids when you have someone else to show you the best line!)

We pulled out at the ramp, disassembled our gear and loaded it onto our truck, shared our last beers, and headed home after a delightful day on the River That Flows Too Infrequently. No sorrows here, just a great day!

Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/158369.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
We're not often in town over Memorial Day Weekend, but this year, we'd just finished a string of out-of-town vacations (New York city, Tobago, White Rim) and a friend invited us to his birthday party on Saturday night. So since we'd be around, I signed up somewhat last-minute for the Narrow Gauge 10 Mile Run. This race is actually the oldest continuously-run race in Colorado history, dating from 1978. One guy at the race has run it every year! I've run it twice before, in 2006 and 2009. The course has changed since then, but one thing's always the same: it runs from town up mesa to Fort Lewis College, a climb of about 500 feet in a few steep pitches, around the mesa rim, and then back down to town to the finish line.

This means that even if I had been in good shape (which I am not!) I was not going to challenge my 10-mile PR of 1:13, set two years ago at the CARA Lakefront Marathon in Chicago. (Hee, looking at those statistics it had less elevation change by an order of magnitude!) In 2009 I ran 1:24:20 at this race, and three weeks later ran 1:44:19 at the Steamworks Half Marathon, a PR at the time; that's 33 seconds slower than my recent Canyonlands Half time, and the current course puts the big hill at the beginning of the race rather than at the end (which I think makes it easier), so I figured I ought to be able to beat my 2009 time. Maybe 1:22 or so, which not-really-coincidentally is the time that the fastest 50-59 woman ran last year (I looked it up).

On the other hand, I haven't really been running a lot. I'd been managing a mere 29mpw before Canyonlands, but all those vacations in April and May got in the way of running, and my average dropped to 22mpw. Then again, in the past three weeks I've ridden my bike ~160 miles, which ought to count for something, right?

Here is a map and elevation widget for the race. (I don't know why it's in metric!)

Here is my map-corrected GPS elevation chart, with pace and HR superimposed:
elevation chart

The start/finish was conveniently located at a park 1.3 gentle downhill miles from my house, so I jogged there as my warm-up. Saw my friend Allan at the start and lined up next to him. We took off across the grass of the park, through the balloon arch, and then out to the road where things started going uphill fast. I kept my heart rate in half-marathon-pace territory and just tried to keep my pace comfortable-but-steady, knowing that if I blew up on the uphill I would be too tired to push the downhill.

Mile 1: 8:58 pace, 73% average HRR since it ramped up slowly, but ended the mile with 82% (156 bpm), right in the correct zone for HMP HRR of 80-84%.
Mile 2: 9:23 pace, my slowest split, and 82% HRR. At the end of the second mile, I'd climbed almost 400 feet.
Mile 3: Up on the rim things flattened out a bit. 7:44, 82% HRR. I was running pretty close to two guys who were yakking up a storm, and I hated them for being able to talk at this pace. I consoled myself by the thought that I was probably about their moms' age.
Mile 4: About halfway through this mile the last big climb started, another 100 feet to the high point of the race. 8:30 pace (which was essentially the average of my 7:45 at the beginning, 9:15 at the end), 82% HRR. The gabby guys finally pulled away from me, the bums.
Mile 5: Allan yelled out to me as he nearly caught me at the aid station at the mile marker, but the course turned downhill for a delicious half-mile here before leveling out in preparation for the big plunge, and I turned on my motor and pulled away. 7:44 pace, 80% HRR.
Mile 6: WHEE DOWNHILL! 7:10 pace, 77% HRR, and 185 feet down!
Mile 7: Still gently downhill, with a few steeper bits. Just before turning the main road to wind through the neighborhood, some friends drove by and hollered encouragement out of their car window at me. Gave me a lift! 7:45, 75% (possibly spurious HR here)
Mile 8: On the Animas River (paved) trail now, a familiar running route. Dodging the usual traffic of kids on tricycles and dog-walkers, passing a few runners. Mostly flat with a few dips and hills. 8:01 pace, 82% HRR.
Mile 9: I can see the yappy guys ahead, too far to catch up to. I do manage to pass a few other racers, though I'm definitely fatiguing. 8:09 pace, 81% HRR.
Mile 10: Up to here my Garmin has been a bit ahead of the mile markers, but it's all added on at the end. I get 1.03 miles for this one at 8:15, which works out to about 8 minute flat pace, and an average of 83% HRR, though it maxed out at 90% at the end. At the very end, the course goes over maybe 20 yards of packed river-rock surface, like cobblestones, which almost makes me fall over; a little pavement through a parking lot; then 50 yards of grass. Oog. But the clock read 1:21:44 - I made my goal!

Allan came through maybe 30 seconds later, and we congratulated each other on a race well run. Then we got water in our finisher's pint glasses, and cans of beer from the cooler, and collapsed on the grass.

They haven't posted full results yet, but I got a look at the scoring computer before I left. My time of 1:21:44 put me in 15th place among women, and if they'd done age groups (which they don't) I would have won the 50-59. I think I was the third woman over 40 to finish. Not sure how many runners there were, something like 200, so this is not particularly a spectacular finish...but all things considered, I'm perfectly happy with it!

ETA: Yep, I came in 1st F50-59 (out of 17) by about 4 minutes, and 3rd F over 40 (out of 47). 15th woman out of 95, 36/170 overall. And here is a picture!


Originally posted on my primary journal at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org/158151.html; please comment there. OpenID and anonymous comments are welcome.
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