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My weekend at the redwoods

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:15pm
Few things are as frustrating as writing incisive witty remarks for an hour and having the computer EAT THEM!. Hmmph! If my weekend report is boring it's not my fault, I wrote a very good report earlier.

I left my house Saturday morning, ready for the long ride up to Humboldt County. I had managed to get my car washed between rain showers on Friday night so it was nice and shiny and I could see out of all the windows. I made short stops for a latte and bagels then met Joanne and Oscar at the BART parking lot. Because of logistical problems we had decided to drive up separately but together. For almost the entire ride I followed Joanne's excellent pace setting. Her green truck kept me on the road at good speeds.

We planned to stop a few times since we were heavily hydrating in anticipation of a warm race. We stopped for lunch in Willits at La Mexicana. I had a combo plate with chicken soft taco and tostada, and rice and beans. I only ate a couple of chips since I know that my stomach isn't too happy with fried food the day before a long race. I also skipped the beer, which was much harder to do! The food was very good and filling, and I'm glad I had the protein. The tortilla for the taco was fresh and pretty obviously hand made. Good carbs!

It had been many long years since I had last headed up Highway 101 to Northern California. I don't think I've been north of Sonoma County for decades. I had forgotten how incredibly beautiful California is. It was exactly the right time for this trip. The hills are green, wildflowers are still blooming, new green leaves are on the shrubs and hardwoods, and there was no traffic on Saturday. That combined to make a very fast and enjoyable trip. Fast, except for the speed traps along the way. One was so obvious it was almost laughable. It went from freeway speeds to 35 mph in about 100 yards, with a patrol car sitting right there. I guess that town has to make enough money to pay the officer through speeding tickets. Another place there was a fake squad car alongside the road, with a dummy inside. No, a real dummy. No, not a cop, a scarecrow-like dummy!

I had brought along my iPod with the running music so my whole drive had a background of high tempo, rockin' songs. I had a good ol' time singing along so it was a good thing nobody else was in my car. It helped keep me awake and focused, especially on the return trip when there was traffic, road construction, more traffic jams, and have I mentioned traffic?

Packet pickup was at the staging area for the race. There wasn't a real expo, just one local vendor who had all kinds of running gear. This was good for the people who had forgotten some essential, like socks, gel or sunglasses. Packet pickup was very smooth for me; I got my bib and my chip. The chip tie was unusual, just a long baggie twist-tie.

I wasn't as thrilled with the tee shirt. The design was very pretty, but they had different 100% cotton shirts for men and women. The women's shirt was a girly cut white shirt, the men's was a normal tee, in burgundy. Not being a white shirt wearer, in addition to not liking the girly cut, I asked if I could have the men's shirt, since they hadn't mentioned in the registration process that they'd have different shirts. Nope. They said they'd ordered according to who had registered so I got the girly shirt. They said if I came back after the race they may have leftovers. Riiiight. After I've run for 6 hours I should schlep to the car and back to exchange my shirt. I took the white shirt, knowing I'd never wear it, and tossed it in the back of my car for later use as a rag.

I continued on to my motel, about another 25 miles north of the race staging area in Fortuna. The team was officially staying in 4 motels, all clustered together. I was at the Super 8. My room, although posted as being non-smoking, reeked of cigarette smoke. I think they took a smoking room and just stuck up signs without doing anything about the lingering stench. It was pretty bad, even after I tried to air it out for a while. When the furnishings are all soaked in smoke, just a bit of fresh air won't help at all.

Our TnT pasta party was in town at the Vets Building. I think there were about 300 people there, runners and their families (or maybe it was 200). I was unimpressed with the food. There were rolls, salad (greens in one bowl, a few cut up veggies on a plate), a very nice fruit plate with lots of different types of fruit and pasta. Three types of pasta, all using the same noodles. There was slimy pasta with mushrooms, slimy pasta with a tomato sauce, and slimy pasta with a meat sauce. Not my cup o' tea. I had salad, fruit and bread, figuring I'd have a bagel and cheese back in my room later. Not what I'm used to before a long run.

There were the usual speakers after we ate, including the requisite survivor who had us all sniffling and wiping our eyes. It is very touching to see that we're helping to make a difference in peoples' lives, to see someone who's been through it all, to hear what they've experienced and felt, and to hope that we can help raise enough money to find a cure. It puts it all in perspective, how fortunate we are to be able to run a race, to train, to be healthy. We can never take this for granted, it can disappear too quickly.

Afterward I went back to my room, made sure all my stuff was ready for an early morning (although not too early compared with other races), and went to bed. Oh right, as if I was going to sleep. My sinuses had stuffed right up when I reentered my room. The bed was hard. Blah blah whine I tossed and turned for hours, got maybe a couple of hours of sporadic sleep. I was up before the alarms went off, figuring what the heck, get the day started.

The race will be in a separate report, but short version is I ran hard, didn't give up, finished in 5:52:09. More than being pleased with the time (although I am), I'm happy with the effort I put forth.

I had told Bree that since she was returning to the Bay Area after the race she could come back to my room and shower. Her bf was going to meet us there so that he didn't have to drive back and forth and back and forth. I hobbled to the car, changed my shoes, and drove with erratic speed back to the room. My feet hurt! My legs hurt! Bree wished that she were driving! Bree showered and took off, I showered, and damn, it was almost time to leave for the victory party.

I'm not sure why but the party started very early at 4:00 pm. I made it there about 4:30 and the food this time was pretty impressive, maybe the best TnT victory party food I'd seen. There were a couple of types of salad, fried chicken, another chicken dish in some sauce, sweet and sour pork, a hunk of beef, oh, much more that I'm forgetting. And a dessert table. I had been waiting for that. There were fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, small carrot cakes, little mud pie thingies, and a couple of other dessert-y items. The only problem was I wasn't hungry. I knew I had to eat, knew I should have already eaten something, but I pretty much had to force myself to have anything other than the carrot cake. I tried several things, but the fresh strawberry lemonade and the wine were really all I wanted. Actually, I would have liked a doggy bag since I knew I'd be starving later.

Everyone managed to get out on the floor and dance a little after they ate. Only about 4 team people had run the full marathon, the rest had run the half. I was pretty happy for all the newbies who had run their first big race. I think it was a good one for a starter race. Some of them were more sore from their 13.1 miles than I was from my 26.2. I remember how I felt after the first time I ran that distance and I had plenty of sympathy for them. Mostly. It was fun to dance and laugh with my teammates.

The party ended early, I think I was back in my room long before 8pm. I decided to pack in the morning. I knew I wouldn't be sleeping since I never do after a marathon, but I wanted to just plant my body on my bed in my stinky smoky smelly room. I had brought a bottle of wine with me and proceeded to rehydrate with it. Ahhhhhh. Just what I needed to relax! Toss in a couple of advil and I was a happy camper. I did end up getting hungry about 10pm so I had some cheese and crackers I had brought with me. I really wanted something sweet and totally forgot I had brought some bars with me. I finally turned out the lights about 11:00 and tossed and turned for the rest of the night.

Since Monday morning I was up so early and packed and antsy to go I checked the phone book for the nearest Starbucks. Which was in Eureka. I'm pretty sure if someone wanted to make some money they could open one in the middle of Humboldt County and rake in the cash. Or maybe it's one of those areas where they want to retain the "charm" of the towns and not open chains. In which case they should dump all the motels, the Denny's, the Safeway, the McD's, etc. Or at least open lots and lots of really good and easy to find coffee shops the the sleep and caffeine deficient!

Mama Lisa had arranged for several of us to meet at Denny's for a pre-drive breakfast. Only thing is, geez, what's with the calorie/fat/grease laden (cheap) breakfasts there? I'm not a food snob but -- oh wait, I kinda am. I really wanted a piece of good french toast and a few slices of bacon. And a good latte. That was almost impossible to order so I got a meal with pancakes, eggs and bacon and a cup of coffee. It wasn't too appetizing but I ate quite a bit of it when it finally came. It was a fun meal, all of us talking about the race, past races, future races and more. We finally got on the road about 10am. Once again I w as following Joanne's lead. Thank you Joanne!

We had to stop at Bigfoot's place along the road. I would have liked to buy a tacky redwood chainsaw teddy bear but they were absurdly overpriced. My garden will have to do without it.

We stopped again in Willits for lunch. This time we went to the Country Skillet. I was torn between something healthy and something with gusto and settled for a Reuben, with french fries. I know, I don't eat beef. But I make this one exception, once or twice a year, for corned beef, since it doesn't really look or taste like beef and doesn't gross me out. I ended up taking half the sandwich home with me for dinner. I was afraid to eat too much when I still had several hours of driving left. After eating we cruised across the street to the cheap Safeway gas station where I paid only $3.29 per gallon! First of all, yay, cheap gas! Second of all, when did $3.29 become "cheap gas"??

After that we just drove and drove without stopping again. Once we got into Mendocino there was a lot of construction and traffic jams that were on and off until we crossed the Richmond/San Rafael bridge. Then, surprise of surprises, Highway 80 had no traffic. In the 30+ years I've lived in the Bay Area I have never seen 80 so empty, even when I've been on the way to pre-dawn weekend runs or when I used to stay out into the early hours partying. It was a very pleasant part of the ride that I had thought would take forever. Traffic didn't slow down until right at the 580/880 split (the 880 part had just reopened that morning) where stupidheads had to slam on their brakes to see the hole in the freeway. Dumbasses. What are they trying to do, create a crash with another conflagration to destroy another part of the freeway??

I finally made it home just after 4pm. I had driven over 600 miles and run 26.2. I was pretty tired! So I skipped my Monday run with Pam. Well, duh! Of course I did! I had a sofa with my name on it, just waiting for me. Ahhhh, naptime! It's great to be back home.
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