Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hello. My name is Helen.

Forgive me readers, it has been 3 months since my last post. In that time I have both lived life and been passionate. But I haven’t had a whole lot of time to blog about it. And the passion didn’t have a whole lot to do with running so probably better you didn’t hear from me. And if I am being fully honest about it I have been taking the easy option and just posting on facebook. Sorry blogger.

But it’s spring now, at least in my new “home” in the south Bay area of northern California it is. But more on that later. It’s April and therefore Chippewa is around the corner (looking forward to hanging out with Tracy & Rasmus and bump!). So there will be a race report. And before that I need some blogging practice. I will follow up soon with a 2010 recap and a 2011 goals post (we’re off to Ireland this weekend which means lots of plane time for writing). It’s probably a good thing I left those until now since my perspective on 2010 is a little less harsh and my goals for 2011 a little less lofty.

I cannot wait to see my TWO new nieces on Saturday! Aoibhe and Áine. The former having a pronunciation that even I am still getting used to. Try it Steve. Congrats to my two sisters on their new bundles of joy. Between family and friends, there are a lot of new babies to visit during this trip causing Chris to ask if it will be a “baby tour of Ireland?!” Perhaps so, but we’ll also get time to catch up with everyone, run some trails and back roads, see Josh Ritter in concert AGAIN and generally relax and not do a tap of work for 10 days. Good times!

So, California… I officially started the new job full time on April 1 – but had been doing it in parallel with the old job since the start of the year - which is why I need a week off already! It’s still with the same company and still generally the same type of work but a totally new technology for me so lots to learn and figure out. I had considered a move to the west coast a few years ago when I started to get itchy feet after about 4 years in MN – a year longer than each of my two previous locations (Japan and Galway) but then things started to come together again and I had no desire to move at all. I love it here (here = MN though I am actually on a plane between San Fran and MN right now) and think it may well be where we end up but the job in Los Gatos (a town just south of San Jose) is too good an opportunity not to pursue and so we’re looking at it as a few years to experience life in northern California, the ocean 20 miles away, the mountains even closer and trails in our back yard. Oh and did I mention it’s already a few months into spring there? Hard to argue with that!

I will travel over and back every week for the foreseeable future until we figure out a longer term plan. Though I expect I’ll be able to lure Chris out more than the odd weekend… Cooper may take some convincing though. Though he would make lots of new friends – I think it may be illegal to live in Los Gatos without a dog. As for the running… there’s the Los Gatos creek trail (mostly paved but some trail trail) out my back door, tons of parks nearby – St. Joseph’s Open Space down the road, Fremont Older OS and Steven’s Creek County Park both about 10 minutes drive, and then Sanborne / Skyline Trail a little further up in the mountain. And of course, there’s Mt. Diablo on one side of the bay and the Marin Headlands across the bridge. Alicia came out this past weekend and we spent Saturday and Sunday running up there – training for her Miwok race in a few weeks time. We got the best possible weather for those runs – clear blue skies, warm in the sunshine and cool in the shade, and a light breeze carrying the sea air across the hills. It’s about an hour drive (w/o traffic on the early weekend mornings) up to Rodeo Beach (including a coffee stop at Peet’s – doing what I can Matt) – well worth it for a few hours of running on those trails. I hope to get over to Mt. Hamilton soon also – the tallest peak in the area with some great hiking (a.k.a. running) trails. And also a local favourite for road biking which is something I hope to do more of this year. The bike is traveling out in a few weeks. Still, even at 4196 ft it is still considerably lower than the Leadville course! But more on that in future posts…

I did have a very cool altitude training run for it last week. Before heading out to CA for the official start, Chris and I spent a few days in Boulder. We packed a lot into that trip – hung out with Angie and Beau and chatted about their wedding plans for Costa Rica in the fall (it’s always good to have another vacation planned before the upcoming one!), got to see Shelley who moved out to Denver last summer, ran with Kristen who Kami and I met at our very first ultra back in 2007 in Moab, drank some very tasty local brews and sucked air all the way to the top of Flagstaff, Green and Bear Mountains, and sampled some yummy marshmallows wrapped in caramel at Hammond’s Candies after a tour from Andy. That was sweet! Literally. Between CO and CA, the miles totaled 62 last week which is the highest of 2011 so far. It’s been a slow start to the year. But all for the right reasons. In the 10 years that I’ve been lacing up my running shoes I know that running = happiness. But in the past year I’ve found a few other things that equal happiness on a whole other level. Life is lived in the everyday moments. In the last few seconds before you fall asleep and the first few seconds before you’re really awake. In the moments when you are thinking exactly the same thought and you don’t need to say it out loud. In the moments when you feel that everything you have ever done, good and bad, brought you to this place and you are so glad that you are alive. Truly alive.