Thursday, May 28, 2015

The end of the Bikini 100 Challenge

If you don't know what the heck I'm about to talk about, go and read this first. Then come back. It will make more sense.

I'm an overachiever. The Peak Posse's May challenge was to challenge ourselves to 100 something. It could be fitness related like walk 100km or be able to do 100 sit-ups by months end. Or it could be something completely different. One gal did 100 random acts of kindness. I challenged myself to run 100 miles in the month. That's 31 days to run 100 miles. I broke it up into the 4 weeks in the month. Week 1 had 2 extra days, and week 4 had 1 extra day. I logged my miles by day and week and totaled up at the end of each week and put money in the jar at the end of each week. (part of the challenge is raising money for Caitriona Balfe's charity, World Child Cancer)

At the beginning I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off. During the months of My Peak Challenge, I would run between 2-4 miles, three days a week. And those 4 mile days were hard. In order to get rest days, I would have to run 5 miles, 5 days a week. Thank god for the extra 2 days that first week. I ran 7 of the 9 days that first week, and only 2 of those days, I was able to run 5 or more miles. But because it was a longer week, I was able to exceed my weekly goals of 25 miles and ran 30.42 miles. So I had a 5 mile lead going into week 2.

Week 2 wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I ran 5 days and had 2 rest days, and only 1 of those days did I go over 5 miles. I did a total of 22.38 that week, which cut my lead buffer down to just under 3 miles.

I challenged myself in week 3 to run 5+ miles each day. No short runs. (I know, a challenge in a challenge. Just a glutton for punishment) I noticed two things during this week. One was that I was starting to feel the impact of running this much in my feet. My lungs and legs were fine. No soreness, but my feet were starting to ache and thought I'd better do as much as I can now while I still can, before I give out. And two, it was getting easier to go farther and farther. I would chose to turn here instead of there or continue this way instead of that way which would lengthen the route by half a mile or mile. I ran 5 days that week and each run was 5+ miles, the shortest being 5.19 and the longest being 8.07. I did 29.66 miles in week 3 which put me in a good lead going into the last week.

Week 4, the last week. I ran Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday came up and for some reason I had a hard time getting myself out the door. I only needed 6 more miles to reach my 100 goal. So I told myself I could just do two shorter runs Thursday and Friday and it would be complete, ahead of schedule even. So off I go. I got to a point where I needed to make the first turn decision which would either shorten or lengthen the route. I chose to lengthen it. I kept choosing to lengthen it. I thought, hey, let's see if I can do 10 miles... like right now. I mean, that's just 2 miles short of a half-marathon. A freaking bloody half-marathon! I can totally do this. Well... I was tired at mile 5, and stopped in my front yard and watered myself with the hose. But I kept going. I stopped again at the park at mile 7.5 for the drinking fountain. I kept going. When the time came to make that last decision of turning to lengthen, I chose to go home instead. I was tired and was running like an old frumpy woman. On the home stretch I said to myself, "you fucking did it! These last few miles are icing on the cake." Oh cake...
Sorry, in dream land for a bit there. I managed 8.84 miles. Still my longest run ever to date. I collapsed as gracefully as one can in the backyard.

I ran 102.83 miles. Boom. My heels and hip bursitis tell me that yes, I can do this, but please for the love of all that is holy and covered in chocolate, don't ever do it again. Okay. Because my dad said he would match, $103 dollars (I'm rounding up) is getting donated to World Child Cancer (this link is to the just giving page where you too can donate if you wish) on behalf of The Peak Posse and $103 dollars is going to help me get new and awesome hiking boots for trekking up and down volcanoes with Balls. If you don't know who Balls is, read this.

So I did it. It was a challenge, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I thought, I'd have a hard time getting in the distance needed each day. I thought I might get sick or hurt myself in some way and not be able to finish it. Or I thought I'd just dive into a depression and just not do it. But the opposite happened. The running saved me from the dive I was on into depression. I ate lots of protein and took vitamins. I have no idea if they helped, but I knew they wouldn't hurt. I also ate my fruits and veggies. I knew I needed to keep my energy up.

I've noticed that I am leaner now. I've slimmed down. And by the time I hit mile 3, I am in the groove and just go go go, like I can just keep going forever. I do get quite parched though by mile 6. When I get home after a 6+ miler, I practically inhale my water bottle.

I bought a new hat to run in. Bought it off cafe press. It's a piece of crap. I had to restitch the patch on it, but I wanted a new hat and this is what I wanted it to say, so I fixed it and wear it.

 Even if you run on sidewalks, like I do, you must pay attention to your surroundings. No zoning out. You never know when a little yip yip will come plunging out of a bush to "chase you". And press pause on your music while waiting at a stop light. Even when you get your little flashing walking dude, wait. Make eye contact and stare those mother fuckers down! Had I not done that on one occasion I would be a blood splatter on the asphalt right now. Not one but two cars ran the red light on me.
You can stop reading now if you want, but I'm going to continue blabbing on for just a bit more. I have to share just one more thing. Some of the Posse Lassies are just starting on their health and fitness journeys and some have been discouraged by their lack of progress or success. I've been running off and on with varying success going on 5 years now. And only in this last year, starting with My Peak Challenge have I been truly successful in meeting my goals. I was never unrealistic before, but I lacked the proper motivation, I think. It takes time. I'm not the same person I was 5 years ago. I decided in January when I decided to participate in My Peak Challenge that this year was going to be all about Not Settling. Not settling for just okay. Not settling for just finishing, but to finish on fire! I'm not going to settle for not doing something or going somewhere because I don't have the money or vacation time. I'll find a way. And so, don't beat yourself up for not being able to run a mile. I couldn't even do that 5 years ago. Just starting out was torture. My entire body hurt. My lungs burned. I had an asthma attack, and I don't have asthma. When I first started, I had to walk at least half of each mile.

I will leave you with my only "fat" picture I could find from 5 years ago...
And today with $103 dollars in a jar!
and yes, that is my awesome "strong is the new skinny" tank
I did it with 3 days to spare. Next week, I'm not going to do anything. Except rest my poor feet. Then it's time to change it up again and start doing some new strength training, and if I can find a rower on craigslist or ebay, I'll give my feet some more "rest" by changing up my cardio as well.

And I think I need new running shoes too, och aye.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Trekking Volcanoes: Wright Peak of Mount Konocti

While idling after My Peak Challenge ended this past March, I was searching the internet for something to do physically. I didn't want all that work to go to waste. And I was coming down off of a high and sitting on my ass instead of working out. I needed a new goal to reach. Something to commit to that would keep me focused and working out. A few things happened. I found that climbing California's 14ers (peaks over 14,000 ft) scared the crap out of me, especially when people started mentioning ice axes and ropes. Summiting California's volcanoes (20 of them) sounded much more doable, and only one of them, Mt. Shasta, is also a 14er. And a Facebook/twitter group that I joined during My Peak Challenge decided to do a new "challenge" for May.

So, it is mid May now, and I am almost half way done with the May challenge. I'm on track! And this past Sunday I and my cohort completed our first volcano summit. Our adventure is as follows:

Balls! After mentioning on facebook my idea of climbing all of California's volcanoes, only one person said she was totally down with doing it with me. Crazy, I know, only one. I asked if she was serious, and low and behold, she was. She is fascinated by profanity and uses the word balls as a swear word. Although her favorite word at the moment is dick, I will stick to calling her Balls. Balls lives in Santa Rosa. For those of you not from California, it is north of San Francisco by about 55 miles. While researching which volcano to do first, I decided we'd best go for the closest one first. That happens to be Mount Konocti on the shore of Clear Lake in Lake County.
Red Arrow=where I live, Blue Arrow=where Balls lives, Black Arrow=Clear Lake/Mt. Konocti
Here's a quick blurb from the USGS: Clear Lake Volcanic Field is located about 90 miles north of San Francisco, California. The town of Clear Lake lies within the volcanic field as does much of the 43,000-acre fresh water lake of its namesake. The Geysers steam field, which sits at the southwest margin of the volcanic region, is host to one of the world’s most productive geothermal power plants, producing enough electricity for 850,000 homes. The heat driving the geothermal system emanates from a zone of partially molten rock (magma) deep below the greater Clear Lake volcanic system. The most prominent volcanic feature is 300,000 year-old Mount Konocti, rising about 975 m (3,200 ft) above the southwestern shore of the lake. The most recent eruptions occurred about 11,000 years ago around Mount Konocti. Although Clear Lake volcanic field has not erupted for several millennia, sporadic volcanic-type earthquakes do occur, and the numerous hot springs and volcanic gas seeps in the area point to its potential to erupt again. Monitoring in the Clear Lake region by the USGS and a collaborative effort with Calpine Corporation in the Geysers Steam Field, provides real-time tracking of earthquake activity. In addition, the USGS periodically analyzes volcanic gases and hot springs in the region.

I drove up to Balls' house Saturday night, forgot my phone, left it charging in the wall, and slept on Balls' couch. Woke up with her roommates dogs face in my face. Sunday morning we drink coffee. Coffee is important. We go to Whole Foods for snacks, and then leave for Kelseyville, where Mt. Konocti awaits us. We drive into town and turn down a road that turns to dirt. There is no signage telling you that there is a county park at the end of the road, let alone a freaking VOLCANO! Lake County is severely lacking on proper signage. This you will note is a frequent subject while Balls and I were on the trail. Balls was also somewhat shocked that I had an actual camera. Even if I hadn't forgotten my phone, it isn't a "smart" phone. So yes, I'm old school and carry an actual camera.

Look, we can take double selfies at the same time. We are awesome.
Mount Konocti is made up of five peaks (Howard Peak 4,286 ft, South Peak 4,286 ft, Buckingham Peak 3,967 ft, Clark Peak 2,880 ft, and Wright Peak 4,2999 ft). There are no trails to Clark or South peaks. Much of the area is private property. We hiked to the top of Wright Peak, which is the highest. There was a sign for the fork to Buckingham Peak, but there was absolutely no sign, post, or marker telling you that the road on the left would take you to Howard Peak. We saw it just fine from the top of Wright Peak anyway. Apparently Lake County decided having bathrooms, picnic tables, and benches everywhere was way more important than say a water spigot or proper signage telling you where the hell you are. Thank the spirits both of us printed out the crappy trail map and I had my pilfered GPS unit. Someone left it where I work and never came back to claim it. It sat in our backroom for a year. So, I'm sorry, I'm going to take it and use it. Balls was getting worried that she may not be able to make it up to the top, so we stopped at some of the many random benches for some breathers.

We finally made it to Mary Downen's cabin. Who? And why did she build a homestead on the side of a volcano? Well, once again, the signage wasn't great here. Apparently in 1903, a year after her husband died, her son-in-law Euvelle Howard (as in Howard Peak) took her up Mount Konocti on horseback and she fell in love... with the mountain. She staked a claim and paid a whooping $600. A cabin was built and she began homesteading... alone. There is no streams on the mountain and eventually she had a cistern built and her son-in-law Euvelle planted her orchard. Apparently her son-in-law moved up there. Balls and I debated why her daughter didn't move with him and talked endlessly about them most likely having an affair, but that kind of wigged us out. Ew. Euvelle is apparently buried near the homestead. The crappy signs say he is buried 500 ft from the cabin with a large "obvious" boulder with his name and dates carved in it. They even provide waypoints. But there is no path. So we plug in the waypoints into my pilfered gps and off I go uphill, off trail, looking for the "obvious" boulder. I never found him. Why the hell tell people he's up here and all and then not provide a way to actually get to him?? I don't get it. And why is he buried here and not Mary? What ever happened to her? We have no idea. We had to look her up on the internet during dinner. Found where she is buried. She's in Lakeport and shares her husbands marker. So she was buried on top of him, or next to him. I don't know. There is hardly anything about Mary on the internet. It's all the same little bit on every site we could find. She seemed like a very interesting person. Who decides to homestead on a volcano as a widower in her 50's in 1903? She sounds awesome. I want to know what happened to her. How long was she on the mountain? Where's her privy? How did she die? There is nothing! Now, there is obviously some archaeological records out there on her homestead. They fenced off her cabin and dump and there are pin flags everywhere. So those of you who still have access to CHRIS can maybe help a girl out?? Yes?
Mary Downen's Orchard
Anyway, we walked through Mary's orchard debating what kind of trees they are. Again, no signage saying anything about that. I said fruits, Balls said nuts. Of course she did. I think we were both right. We got eaten by mosquitoes, so dicided to get back up on the trail to our summit... after a pit stop at a random bathroom and picnic table.

We made it to the summit of Wright Peak! Great views. Top of the world... or Lake County anyway. While I was taking this pic of Balls, she took this one.

There is a fire lookout and cell tower on the top. The fire lookout was closed in 2005, technology and all that made it useless to stick a person up there 24/7 during fire season. There are some interesting stories about this mountain/volcano but I will spare you. I will say that I'm impressed that the Pomo name for the mountain remains. As with most of the history of white settlers, army, and Indians, things did not go well for the Pomo and Wapo that call this area home.

Clear Lake from Wright Peak
View of Howard Peak from Wright Peak
Balls' best Capt. Morgan pose

Our summit selfie

Our experience of Mt. Konocti has only wetted our appetite for more volcanoes, despite us being in Lake County and their lack of trail signage. We realized that both of us have forgotten much of our botany skills and need to brush up on them, not that we had any to begin with. And we need to do more pre-field research and learning before our next volcanic adventure. So 1 down, 19 to go.