Yeasty Warmth

That post title goes out to Alix.

As much as I enjoyed the trip to California, it is always nice to come home. Unfortunately, that also meant 18 degree weather and short, dark days.

Yup, that’s pretty much all anybody wants to do.

Paul spent the break snowboarding up in the Canadian wilderness with his friend Ollie (like really, in the middle of nowhere) where he and his brother hunt their own meat and build their own shelter and stuff like that.  He brought this book back with him:

Big eye roll.  We live in a neighborhood, not in the wilderness or on a farm in the country (despite what our Christmas card suggests…that picture was taken in our backyard.)   We don’t own a large plot of farming land or cattle.  We are not survivalists.  This book does not apply to us.

But after a day of being home of doing absolutely nothing productive, I decided to crawl out from under my comforter on the couch and see what was in the book anyway.

Last week I helped (watched) Chrissy make some bomb bread in her apartment in SF.  Inspired, I found a bread recipe (there are many) in the book and decided to give it a try.

Boom.  Different recipe than Chrissy’s, totally different type of bread, but still good.  Plus baking it warms the house up and makes it smell yeastily delicious, which is especially wonderful on dark wintery days.

And that book?  I was wrong.  It’s awesome.  It has everything–cooking, gardening, raising animals, making clothes, making preserves (Paul is stoked about that), how to skin a rabbit, home repairs, herbal remedies, diarrhea relief for your dog (seriously)…watch out.

Steelhead 69.1

I’m thinking of getting this tattoo.

So yes, the swim was cancelled.  Which generally means I am completely screwed, because that’s the only part of the race that I’m remotely good at.

BUT!  I did get in to test out the water the day before the race…

…and after a short bike/run actually got in to splash around with Paul.  The water temp was in the high 70s, and the waves were juuust big enough to do some body surfing, which I did quite a bit of.  Probably not the best pre-race activity, but I couldn’t help myself, the water felt so good.  I miss the ocean.

Our hotel was in South Haven, about 30 miles north of Benton Harbor, and our stay coincided with the National Blueberry Festival.    We just missed the parade where the National Blueberry Queen made her debut, which was a shame.  But we did catch the South Haven Vintage Baseball Club baseball game in full swing.  They even played without gloves.

The weather that day was completely erratic, going from severe thunderstorms to sun all day long (we left the beach just in time to see a major storm rolling in), which wasn’t super promising for the race.

Woke up on race day with serious winds, and upon entering transition the first thing they announced was that the swim had been cancelled, there was a small craft advisory, and winds of up to 25 mph were predicted for the day.  Boo.

So we did a time trial start on the bike, going two at a time by bib number.  My bike was solid, I think…never raced 56 miles for time before and wasn’t sure what to expect…but I averaged significantly faster than I did in the 14-mile bike leg of the Markey Race (yes, for reals) and came in a solid 10 minutes under my goal time of 3 hours.

My run was GREAT…for the first 8ish miles.  My 10K split was right around 51:00.  I was on pace to easily break 2 hours, no problem, and was running at a totally comfortable pace.  Then suddenly, this happened:


It was ugly.  I walked for about a minute.  The next 2.5 miles were a combo of walk/run, and I grabbed a gel, some coke, and Gatorade from the aid stations as I went.  I finally got my legs back and was able to jog the last few miles to the finish line.  But it wasn’t pretty.

Final run time: 1:59:34.  Just squeaked in.  Paul met my semi-coherent self at the finish line, and helped me find my way back to transition to get my stuff.  I also had  knots the size of watermelons on my neck/shoulders from the new aerobars, which I rode on for almost the entire race.

Oh, and apparently I’m from Lexington, CA.

BUT!  I finished, didn’t die, broke 5 hours, and learned that I need to eat or drink more earlier on in the run.

More on the race (if you actually want to hear any more) to be posted here shortly.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I started this book on Sunday and finished it last night.  I know it’s a young adult novel geared towards the Twihard generation, but I was actually pretty surprised about that after I learned the premise.  Thought it was a little dark for that demographic.

But if you’re looking for something to fly through that you won’t be able to put down, read this immediately.  It’s good.

…here it comes…

for allison, who was in hysterics for like 30 minutes when she found this picture on the web

…and on a similar note to the previous post…

Steelhead 70.3 is this coming weekend.  All those months of training are finally coming to an end and I am TAPERING!  After Nashville, I am only slightly less terrified than I look in the above picture that I might crumple up in a heap and die halfway through the run.  Paul and I are driving up on Friday night, I’ll be doing all race-related reporting here.

I effing hate race pictures.

Time to be Fearless…or insane

Photo via CNN

If you’re bored today, check out Diana Nyad‘s progress as she attempts the 103-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage (they have a kind of electrical shark-guarding field that surrounds her during the swim, but apparently it doesn’t work for certain types of shark, so she also has a team of “shark divers” to distract any sharks that go after her.  Uhh…)  She jumped in at 7:45pm ET yesterday, the swim is expected to take about 60 hours.  She’s 61.

Track her progress on the swim here.

Update:  She didn’t make it.  After 29 hours she voluntarily quit, and exited the water vomiting (uhh…good call on calling it quits).  Props to her for going for it.


There is a big tree in the corner of our yard.

Last night Spike was going ballistic under the tree and wouldn’t come out, so we guessed he had cornered some animal under there.  I started to freak out because possums and raccoons are rabid.  And because Paul was in his boxers, I was sent outside with the head lamp to deal.

I stood next to the tree yelling Spikes name, but that did nothing.  At first glance I couldn’t see anything.  So I got down on my knees and shone the light between the branches and saw…this:

Its face was too short to be a possum, but it was almost the size of Spike (the above illustration is drawn to scale).  It was like a gigantic, hideous, deformed rat.   It was…So. Ugly.

I let out some noise between a gag and a shriek and jumped up to find a big stick/yell at Paul that he’d better get out there.  As I ran towards the corner of the yard to get a stick, Spike stopped barking and that creature started making these god awful, other-wordly screeching noises.  I started screaming “OH MY GOD HE’S EATING IT!  SPIKE IS EATING THAT THING!”

About 30 seconds later, as Paul emerged from the house shirtless in jeans with a broom, Spike came trotting out from behind the tree, like nothing had happened.  We searched him for bite marks or blood or saliva, but didn’t find anything and promptly threw him in the bathtub.  So.  Gross.  God knows what our neighbors thought was going on.

We still don’t know what that was (Paul’s mom said it had to be a possum, maybe a baby one), and this morning we went and looked outside and there was no carcass there, which means it is still roaming free.  Now every time I hear a bump in the night I think it’s that thing.  That rat on roids.  Or more likey…meth.

Catch up…

So I have my final for my godforsaken online class tomorrow in Louisville.  Things have been busy here with finals, moving, getting back into running, attending free earring making workshops at the local co-op with my mother in law…just so much going on.  But I promise to catch up shortly.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

When Mountain Lions attack

Accompanying the many warning signs for poison oak along the trails that we’ve been hiking have been similar signs announcing the fact that we are in mountain lion territory.  Mountain lion attacks are not all that uncommon in California, I remember hearing about them when I was a kid.  There have been a number of recent incidents in the area, and ever since hearing this story a few years ago about a Northern California woman who fought off a mountain lion that attacked her husband and LATCHED ON TO HIS HEAD while they were out hiking, I figured getting a little more info out there on how to avoid this situation couldn’t hurt the hiking community.

First, some additional info on mountain lions (aka North American Cougar):

  • Prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking
  • Territorial
  • Usually avoids people
  • Weigh between 100-150 lbs
  • Most active at dawn and dusk
  • Attacks are most frequent during late spring and summer (when adolescent mountain lions leave their mothers in search for new territory)

How to avoid mountain lions:

  • Hike in groups
  • Make noise when you hike (not usually a problem for us)
  • If you hike with kids, keep them close to you…they go after smaller targets
  • Never squat or bend–you will look like four-legged prey to any type of large cat (they suggest avoiding this if you are ever hiking in mountain lion territory, but I’m not sure how realistic that is…during the course of a hike some of us have to tie our shoes and/or pee)

What to do if you come across a mountain lion:

  • DON’T FLEE–they will chase you down
  • Make intense eye contact, yell, and appear larger and more menacing (some suggest showing your teeth and growling…if you have the wherewithal to do that when facing down a lion that wants to eat you, more power to you)
  • Put plenty of space between yourself and the ML…you want to make sure it doesn’t feel cornered; back away slowly, but make sure you don’t turn your back on it
  • Jab it in the eye (unclear how you’re supposed to do this while slowly backing away)

If you are attacked by a mountain lion:

  • DON’T PLAY DEAD or roll into the fetal position (you do that with a grizzly bear)
  • Fight back, never succumb
  • Hit the ML on the head as hard as you can repeatedly
  • Claw or throw sand in its eyes

Some other words of wisdom I came across in looking all of this up:

  • “Never approach a mountain lion and try to pet it, no matter how friendly they may seem.”
  • “If indeed you are attacked by an animal in the wild report this attack to Fish and Game, or the Ranger in the area as soon as possible.”