Archive for March, 2011

Ski Trip

March 30th, 2011, 1:15am by Kelvin

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We just got back from a weekend in Tahoe, where we sent Lucas to Ski School for two days. These were full-service, full day affairs. Kids get dropped off at 9AM, and the instructors take acare of fitting them with skis, feeding them, and of course, teaching them the basic fundamentals. Even though he took the class with some friends, it took Lucas a little time to warm up to being left with strangers. Eventually, he came to love playing around in the snow. He didn’t make a lot of progress skill-wise on day one, but managed a decent snow-plow by the end of day 2. Lot of fun to watch.

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Xanadu!

March 21st, 2011, 5:10pm by Jake

Well, would you look at this! Made my traditional 3 entries into the tournament, and using 3 highly dissimilar methods, I’ve got all 3 entries in the top 25. That includes 3rd place entry Xanadu! I’ve been near the top of the leaderboard before, only to fall one or two games short of a pretty nice payday. Will this be the year Pyslent represents? As for my method, I chose the bracket based upon which teams I acquired in a NCAA tournament auction I join every year. That in turn was largely influenced by sports stats guru turned political predictions guru turned sports prediction guru Nate Silver of 538.com. Thus, Butler & San Diego State in the Final Four, both of which seem quite possible. That might put me over the top in the competition, but there’s still a lot of basketball to play.

2011 Catalina Marathon

March 14th, 2011, 1:26am by Jake

[Past, present & future race reports. First run in 2007, rocky boat ride in 2008, bonking in 2009, tardy blogging in 2010 and recovering in 2011.]

All my race photos from the 2011 Catalina Marathon are on Flickr.  Will add a selection here soooon.

Where to begin? I love this race. The island, the hills, the runners, the volunteers, the organizers, the buffalo, the boats, the weather. After camping in the tent for the 2010 Catalina Marathon in Two Harbors, I reserved a camping cabin a full year in advance. So this date, March 12, 2011, has been circled on my calendar a long time. It’s been a long year, with many highlights including helping to organize the 1st Annual Operation Jack Marathon. Let’s linger on that highlight a little longer, and even post an awesome video from the race. Plug #1 is to be on the lookout for the 2011 running on December 26.

Catalina Marathon route Catalina Marathon race profile So let’s see. For those that haven’t been here before, might as well start out by seeing what kind of monster I’ll be up against. On the top, that’s a nice topographic view of the island from space, seeing the route climb this hill & that, along the ridges and through the valleys. On the bottom, well, that’s the elevation profile in terms far more stark. It’s about 4000 feet of climbing, 4000 feet of descending. There are no flat sections to this course, apart from the first 1/4 mile. As nasty as that last climb is, the second half of the race is actually easier than the first… can you believe it? It’s straight up out of Two Harbors,  then a few 400-foot high hills, the long slow climb to the base of Pumphouse Hill & the monster that follows… all topped off by a “scenic” run along the ridge that has about 4 Heartbreak Hill-sized climbs. So why would I be crazy enough to run this marathon again?

The last 10 months have been difficult for me. During that time, the cancer that afflicted my mother for 25 years took its toll on her body, and she died from cancer earlier this month. Mom & her Jacob (I miss you mom) I can’t put in to words what this loss means to me, what my mother means to me. I hope you are all lucky enough to have a mother that loves you as much, that loves life as much and that that you appreciate all that. Through all that, I did my best to train for Catalina, even through several months of this New England winter. The race was the one constant on my calendar, the one event that I had to complete, my one moment of selfishness in an otherwise selfless year. This past week did I return to California, days before the race. Exhausted mentally, emotionally & physically while fighting a cold. Now, in a moment of selfish selflessness, I’m joining a Relay for Life event in Oakley to honor my mother & my friend Dave Hohler. Wish me luck, and if you want to contribute, I’ll be matching the first $5 of each donation.

Burning sunshine

And onward! Thursday afternoon my friend & former co-worker Jake Salter (hereafter Jake, Jake S., or The Other Jake) flew in for a repeat performance after completing the 2009 Catalina Marathon. Friday morning, a quick lunch with old friends and off to Long Beach to catch the ferry. Heading out of Marina del Rey that morning might have led to Tsunami complications, but by afternoon it was not a problem in the gigantic twin ports. The sea was angry that day my friend! Windy, choppy, swelly & rough, it was bumpy enough that I left the warmth of the cabin for the refreshing bouncy breeziness of the upper deck. On the way over, I spotted Operation Jack Marathon winner Christian Burke, and we chatted for a few minutes about the Hermosa 24 relay race. Real quick, it’s a 24-hour relay race on the soft sand beach between the Hermosa & Manhattan piers. I’m sure many Catalina runners would love the challenge. Definitely check it out. I spotted Christian again many more times, last as the race began– he would finish in 15th in 3:27, a few minutes faster than target. Excellence! Eventually, we approached the island and soon began the anticipation of stepping off the dock and onto the island. Throw the bags in the cabin, register for the race, enjoy a pasta dinner (with the best chocolate cake in the world), shoot some pool & hit the sack. Game on.

Of heads & hillsides

Always fun to approach the line and see the other runners gather for the race. Every one has a story, from the oldest to youngest, fastest to slowest. This year, the sky was bright and the hillsides a vibrant green with the morning sun having risen an hour earlier. A change from years past, when the sun would rise as we started the race. So I did what came naturally to me, which is to take a TON of photos! Plus, with chip timing, I could readily wait for the athletes to cross the timing mat and then jump in behind. More photo opps. Perfect. Eventually, I slung the camera rig back in its arm band for the last time (don’t worry– I’m going for an upgrade next year), and started the long slog to Avalon.

Go!

Christian Burke at the start of the 2011 Catalina Marathon I shouldn't look this tired BEFORE the race The resourcefullness of the barefoot runner

Partway through the first climb, it was easy to flip a glance back to our starting town. And soon I was recognized by my first fan, who thanked me for introducing him to the race through my photography. Of course, I snapped a photo. Even before the race started, I knew it would be a slow day, estimating about 5 hours. And by mile 3, I knew even better that it would be a slow affair. Heart rate up, pace way down compared to years past. Seriously, you can compare my 5 entries side-by-side-by-side-by-side-by-side.

GVH  The shadow gonna git ya Climbing with all four limbs

It's like another perfect day...

But that was OK, I simply recalibrated and resolved to enjoy the weather, the scenery and my photographic genius. Genius. Nevertheless, I trudged along although I had to walk far more than I wanted as my heart rate continued to periodically spike. I announced miles in advance that upon reaching Pumphouse Hill, I’d hike the whole thing with no shame. No shame! And I did, and I enjoyed my 2 minutes at the top. Here’s video proof of the ascent.

Sweet victory!

Now, it was The Other Jake’s turn to slow our travels, as his knee started screaming at him. Oh, and my legs caught up to my lungs in the feeling gassed category. And TOJ had to upchuck to settle his stomach. We walked many of those miles along the ridge, but we didn’t mind being slowed by the trio of buffalo spotted just 50 yards from the course. OK, as we struggled through the last of our trio of troubles, I got recognized again on the course. Sweet!

The dark before the dawn

Then suddenly, the legs stopped yelling at me. TOJ’s knee quieted down and the stomach stayed settled. The course first flattened out, then we started the descent & my lungs got a needed break. The long, steep descent. As we ran I spoke, full speed ahead. “Flying” at 9-minute miles, we passed a couple dozen of the people that smoked us along the ridgeline. My heart rate climbed even as we approached the sea. And soon, we were upon town, traffic circle in sight then in the back as we could sea the Pacific ahead of us. Across the line, and with that completed! (And one more fan.) Slowest race ever, by a fair margin, it was about 5:13:24. But man, what a day. The fog that rolled in over Middle Ranch just as the temperature would’ve spiked. The sun that greeted us at the start for those climbs out of Two Harbors. The shoeless runner swiping his chip over the starting mat. The pairs and triplets of smiling walking runners splayed everywhere. The dozens or hundreds of cameras that for once at a marathon were not at all out place. And the hills. Any day on those hills.

So cheers all, hope your run was as fun as mine, and see you in 2012! More pics below, and on Flickr, and many more from years gone by.

Double track Stretches

GVH Another climb  Looking back

Double track Walk on

Little harbor

The Other Jake chills his legs Run across!

Kicks! Victors!

One Week Ago Today

March 2nd, 2011, 9:53am by Jake

Mama Rome & The Jakester

Two years ago today, at Jerry’s in Marina del Rey

One week ago today, I returned from the mall where I had spent an afternoon in Panera Bread surfing the web and relaxing while eating a light lunch. When I got back, late in the afternoon, Aaron went out for a run wearing his Luna sandals, headlamp and other associated ultrarunning gear. I went upstairs to sit with mom, and we talked for about 30 minutes about this or that with the same quick wit & jovial humor as always. Months earlier, I had the occasion to open up to mom and assure her that she didn’t need to give me anything, as mom had already given me so much– raising Aaron & myself, teaching us to be independent, strong & caring. I was in tears but mom wasn’t.

One week ago today, as I sat there, I knew there were a few more tales that needed to be told. Mom was always my rock, even when the roles should have been reversed by all rights. When I was a senior in college, mom was scheduled to get a mastectomy to fight This Thing, and I gave it not a second thought. Meantime, my paternal grandmother was entering hospice. While I knew Grandma Ethel was also fighting This Thing, hearing of the move shot a hole in my heart. I was in tears. Who did I call for support? I called my mother, still recovering from her operation, and cried into the phone as she cheered me up as no one else could. Amazing.

Last May, we had that great Pyslent reunion in Brookline, with my heart heavy with fear that This Thing had morphed into something ever more dangerous. I was comforted by all of you as we hung out, especially our crazy 2-hour trip to park Derrick’s car and sample the finest crappy homemade ketchup in eastern Massachusetts. I could barely speak, and upon seeing my brother & especially my mother, it took every ounce of strength I had to hold back my emotions. Mom was as strong as ever that Mother’s Day, and to celebrate and remember, Aaron, Mom & I drove to her mother’s grave a few miles from our Beverly home. Upon reaching the grave site, I unleashed a flood of tears unlike any before, for it was safe to cry. Mom thought I was crying for Grandma. After unleashing that storm, mom reassured me & spoke some words as we all asked for strength. And I got strength that day, from where I do not know. All the strength I needed these last 7 months I got from my mother, as her bravery in the face of adversity set an example I could never hope to match, but one to which I could aspire. Last week, I told mom all that, except the bit about the ketchup & Derrick’s car.

So one week ago today, I told mom how she gave me my strength & how she would always be my rock. She heard all of it, and knew more than ever what she meant to me. Mom was her regular self that day, just a mother & son sitting around talking like it was any other day. And I feel so lucky & privileged to have said everything I needed to say. Mom’s spirit left her body last night, but it lives on through me & Aaron and all her friends & family. I’ll miss her so much.


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