Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What we work for

Everyone has a reason why they get up and go to work almost everyday. What is it that has most of us on such a ball and chain that we spend a considerable amount of our life with people often other than our close loved ones and twiddle away the hours working. It is what it is. Most of us are in a situation that we must work full time jobs. What is the pay off? Will there ever be a light at the end of the tunnel? These are serious questions that we must ask ourselves before giving up all of our precious time in a job.

I think that my parents have found the light at the end of their tunnel. All their penny pinching has paid off. The years of hard work, my mom's endless scheming has came to fruition (well, technically in a matter of days, once all the paperwork is free and clear). I can see the happiness in her eyes, in her step and the way in which she carries herself. She did it, she found something that meant enough to her that she was willing to work to have this house on the beach. It brings me some ease to hear this come from her or anyone for that matter. To find something that you love enough to go ahead and sacrifice in order to obtain it.
It goes through my mind constantly, what are we doing this for? Why aren't we out there climbing, eating pb&j, living the life. Right now, we have a fleet of bikes, eat out, have a house and life is comfortable. This is working for.

Shoulder Season

Please help, I am being sucked in to the abyss of early spring. I know, early spring, what is more promising than early spring. Early spring does not have much to offer me. I am over winter, I am ready for spring and even more ready for summer. I am constantly cold, wet and muddy.

John told me I am suffering from the "shoulder season." I am caught in limbo. I want to go out and ride my bike everyday, run a lot of trail, play in the garden, and just be outside. It is just a tad bit too cold for me to really enjoy all these pleasures. I am going to rely on yoga to work through the shoulder season and come into spring and summer strong and fit as can be.

Take that Pacific Northwest weather, I will not be brought down!

(The view from my parents new casa.. right on the beach!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A taste of freedom

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We introduced the little ladies to the vast wilderness of our "front" yard. As soon as they discovered the treats in the soil they picked at the dirt for hours. I tried to work in the garden but was too entertained by their curiosity of the soil. John came home and did the honors of introducing Natasha. He Got her on a leash and she was inched in to them. Sniff. sniff. grunt. grunt. Next thing we know there are birds going ape shit and Natasha has one in her mouth. John got it out before we had a limp chick. Natasha got a taste of dirt and John's wrath. All is well.
Speaking of Natasha, John was telling me about the first time that she saw cows at the Stiles Ranch. I guess she took off and chased them with all her might. The next thing they knew there were cattle tangled up in barb wire and Natasha looking innocent. Oh Natasha!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The view from the living room

The weekend is here... ***AAAHHHHHHH****Sigh****
Some weeks it takes an act of great will to get through the week. This was one of those weeks.
I had a couple code amendments that I presented to Planning Commission on Thursday (mind you a room full of men... all men commissioners and audience, I think it was myself and Becky). I left questioning what the heck I was doing at my job, little, anxious, and glad that I had to pedal home 9 miles to get all this nasty experience out of my system.
I came home to flowers. Oh, did I mention I came home to daffodils...
My appetite finally backed off from the post race recovery. My legs are well, my endurance is there. I got a massage Monday. I went in with sore legs and the next day they were loose and limber. I am going to make a habit of getting massages after any big effort. I felt so much better. I managed not to run all week as well, I think I am recovered now!
Heather and Darrin had their first baby boy. They are the first ones of "my generation" to have a baby. I am so excited for them. I am going to go see him today for the first time! Yeah! What a joyous feeling they must have right now. I can hardly imagine. I wish them only the best.
Friday was a good day. I planted what I could in my garden. Peas, early beets, onions, leeks, and parsley. I have learned from John to not create too much work for myself, I can't help but plant a garden. There is something I love about it. It will take a lot of work, I will have to compromise the valuable time I have, but well worth it. It is going to be the best garden yet.
Saturday..... it is early in the morning still. I want to go ride my bike with John so bad. It is grey and looks like the skies are going to open at any second. The view from the living room is nice. It is going to be hard to get out. Oh the Northwest weather. After 25 years, I would like to just have some sun. I need some blue sky... today!
Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Chickens

Please meet and welcome the newest members of our family! I have wanted chickens since we moved into our new house and I finally made it happen. We now have six little baby chicks all huddled up under a heat lamp at our house. They are as cute as ever! They have grown significantly in just a week. I have a hard time imagining what it might be like to have children, if I feel this sentimental about chickens, I don't know if I could handle this experience with kids!

I am pretty excited to create a happy little domain for these little ladies ( I am only keeping the females!). I want them to run around in the yard, and we will need to create a little fenced off area so all the predators that want to eat them as a snack are kept at bay.

I am getting pretty excited to be able to feed these guys all our kitchen scraps, get wonderful eggs, be just a tad bit more self-sufficient, and have them run around the yard.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baby time!

Not us... sorry... not yet....

I get to have a baby vicariously through Heather!

She had her baby last night... Ascher (I'm not 100% on the spelling yet!)

I am going to stop by the hospital and get the details and snap a few pictures.

I am so happy for you two!

You will be fantastic parents!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Aftermath of the Chuckanut 50km

I made it! Here it is Sunday, the day after the race and I am winding down from a busy day, feeling great. My legs are understandibly tired, back a wee bit tweaked, my feet sore and an overall feeling of exhaustion, nothing out of the ordinary nor nothing to be expected. I actually feel quite good, all things considered.

Friday night I ventured over to Brandon's and tried to absorb some of his entusiasm and energy. We chowed down on roasted yams and sweet potatoes, pesto pasta, chicken and bread. He has been stoked on this product by Hammer products. He went on and on how I need to include a protien in my fuel. I usually (always) have water in my pack and suck on a GU about every hour. So I went home, felt uneasy about the whole idea but decided to add some "product" to my trusty hydration pack. MMMmmmmm.... don't ever....ever try anything new on race day...

Saturday, Brandon came and picked me up at 7AM, just as Dan (who finished in 4:40!!) the neighbor with incredibly long legs, knocked on the door to offer me a ride. Oh the buzz was about town! I was incredibly calm the day of the race, I had nothing riding on the race. I made up my mind that finishing was going to be a feat and focus on completing the course. It was just a long run in the woods, and what more do I love than that? I sat in the pavilion, killing the last 40 minutes before the race. People were stashing GUs in every crevasse that they could, lubing up, and even more talking it up. Spraying about all the races that they had completed this year. It was pretty comical actually. The next thing I know, all 350 of us were standing at the start line and off we went. The first 6.5 miles are flat and fast. This provided a great warm up and at aid station 1 I was right on time coming in just under an hour. We then climbed up to Fragrance Lake which ended up being a long hike trying to keep my heart in my chest.... Left around the lake and then down the old Two Dollar trail. This section of trail is usually the first of the mud fest. I thought this year that the mud would be overwhelming but the entire race was nice and tacky. This is when I first noticed my sideache. Odd, I never get side aches, this developed into a somache ache, a royal knot in the belly. Uh oh... When we hit the bottom of $2, we climb up Cleator, the entire road! This is the part of the race that is a total mind!@#$. This part of the race makes me question why I signed up to climb Cleator, why it is that I like my legs to feel like death... at the top of Cleator lies the reason why I signed up: the Ridge Trail, one of my favorites of all time. This was the only section of trail that I can actually pass people. I love the ridge! From the entire ridge, we venture back, deeper into the Chuckanuts and head toward Lost Lake, This is a grind, steadily uphill, muddy as all hell and 8.5 miles between aid stations. In this back section, I would take a swig of the milky water elixir in my pack and moments later, my stomach would be in knots, I would bend over to relieve the cramps. WHAT! Who ever tries new things on race day anyway... crazy fools! Once cresting "too many pigs" trail we fly down an old service road and to aid station 4 and the base of the CHINSCRAPER. The icing on the Chuckanut's cake. this section of trail is probably on three miles long but there are sections of it that are no give away, all fours type of affair. Once to the top it is a breeze down the Fragrance Lake service road, past the last aid station ( where I happily had a Dixie cup of water and so desperately wanted to drop my pack with someone so I wouldn't even tempt myself with the fluid that was contained in it) and back up the Interurban. This was the hardest part of the race for me. I felt every step. All I wanted to do was walk, walk, walk! "The faster you run the sooner you are done..." was on repeat in my head. I didn't want to walk because that means that it would be drawn out longer than I wanted to be doing it. I was alone, passing just a couple of people struggling, I had to just tip my hand and pass, I couldn't bear to look at them because I felt the same way. The last six miles are unreal, I know what it feels like to run six miles, it is casual, I fire off 8 before work. But the last six miles is insane. Then the last two miles are even more grueling. They just on and one, then before I knew it I made the last left hand turn into Fairhaven park, I can hear the PA system, then I hear them announce #238: Michelle Stiles. WOW I made it yet again! I see the crowd and get a 2Nd wind (I am actually probably on my 17Th wind by now) and cruise on into the finish line. John was the first person in the crowd I saw clapping, then noticed that he was surrounded by our friends: Andy, Az, Joe.... Ah how sweet. The finish light was the sweetest feeling of the day!

Ahhh... another year under my belt, another race chalked up and I am stronger because of it!

Thanks every one for the encouragement and support!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Butterflies in the tummy

This is what I read this morning about the race:

Posted 3/17

We are getting close! I am looking forward to seeing all of you this weekend. We have an amazing list of Volunteers thanks to Cheryl Batty who has coordinated each and everyone. This race (any race) is not possible without the help of volunteers. Please be sure to thank them throughout the day!

WEATHER: The forecast is for rather wet and cold weather, quite normal for this race, but with no drop bags this year, please consider that showers are possible and it could be very cold up on the ridge. There very likely will still be snow for several miles on the course, maybe considerable new wet snow, and slushy icewater unavoidably right in the middle of the trail. With no drop bags, runners will need to take enough clothes to be OK for the duration.

With that in mind, we do not recommend that a runner bring expensive or favorite jackets or other clothing unless you plan on wearing/carrying it the whole time. Although race management tries their best to get everything back to the start, we stress that there is NO guarantee that runner's personal gear will be returned in a timely manner or at all, and therefore runners should be careful what they wear if they plan on leaving anything along the way. You leave it at your own risk. Thanks for understanding this point. There are 350 runners and a very small group of volunteers coordinating this event, please be responsible for your items.

I will live, I know. How many times have I been out running in the snow this winter. Every weekend in fact, probably almost every long run and even bike ride has been endured in the snow/rain chit. So I have it on all those people who trained solely on treadmills, I can handle the gunky trails.
To get me even more stoked, an old running buddy invited me to run on the peninsula this May with her.
Here is the plan:

"I also wanted to see if you would like to run out on the peninsula from
Whiskey Bend to the North Quinalt maybe in late May. I did it two summers
ago and it was fun and fast! Rolling hills with one climb over Whatcom Pass.
Its 42 miles and it took 9 hours last time. I'm running a bit slower these
days, so you might have to be patient with me. There are a few river
crossings toward the end. But by that time, you don't really care about wet
feet anymore. The first 26 miles is a gradual incline and the last 16 a fast
down down down plummet!

Let me know if your interested! I need some kind of long run to look forward
too. We could even do the Hannagen Pass to Diablo Damn. Its longer, a lot
harder, but there is still quiet a bit of snow up there till Aug.
Let me know if your somewhat interested!"

Okay, so maybe I could get excited to start running again, especially with that to look forward to!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Colds and rain

Sick the week of the race.
I have not been sick in ages. The week of the race comes along and I am down for the count. I have been getting a couple massages a week my guess is that this worked some toxins, and the cold/flu bug out of my lymph nodes and into my system.
I have been trying to drink as much water as I can, sweating as much as I can, and resting. Hard to say what I am going to feel like when Saturday rolls around. Right now my bed and some hot luquid sounds comforting.
The forecast for the week is RAIN. Yes, RAIN in the biggest sense of the work. Lots of the wetness. The trails are going to be a disaster come Saturday, bordering unethical to run on.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chickens in the city

That is right folks... we are adding new members to our family. I am going to raise chickens! I haven't really wrapped my head around getting Natasha to live in peace with chickens, it will be a miracle when we do but I believe that there is hope.
I am going to get four little chicks on Wednesday with a little coop, delivered and care 101 by a sweet man from Ferndale. Once they are big enough hopefully we can create a little run for them in our backyard and eventually decrease the amount of lawn we have to mow! Not to mention not eating scary eggs from the grocery store at $4 a dozen, they will eat scraps, and provide poop for my compost pile. Oh the wonders...
Chickens in the city! YEAH!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Second chances

Fridays I leave work around 1:30 or 2. It is a treat and I feel grateful to be able to slip away early one day a week. Today I was pretty sure I was headed home to relax and go to yoga. I know that weather is supposed to roll in tonight so I took advantage of the day light and mild weather.
I gathered my shoes, gloves, and the one lonely ounce of motivation I had to run. It took me a while to warm up, as always, but once I did I always have the biggest grin that is hard to wipe off my face. Running trail, in the woods, fresh air, muddy conditions that just make you want to laugh... I wonder why I questioned my love of running. I feel at ease moving down trails and spending countless hours adventuring through the woods.
Brandon has been super excited to run the Chuckanut this year. He has been picking my brain for weeks now, I haven't had much to offer. I remember that feeling, such a clear goal that gave me purpose and a drive that is unstoppable. I don't know if I will ever be there again, and that is okay. I am growing and discovering what makes me whole. Brandon stopped by last night, after a track workout that I had suggested. He looked great and stoked.... that stoked look that people have when they are doing something that they love. When I got home this afternoon, I couldn't help but absorb some of his positive energy. With this I went on a run and I loved my two hours on the trail.
I am going to run next weekend. Run for the sake of being on the trail, some of my favorite trails in Whatcom County with a bunch of other people who also like to run trail. I bet there are a handful of others who feel the same way I do, under trained, lacking the mental toughness... all those excuses not to try. I remember having these same thoughts the first time I ran this race, Brie just reminded that it is just a long walk in the woods...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Second Guesses

Here I am, two weeks before the Chuckanut 50km race, second guessing my decision. I had great intentions registering for the race, ambitious goals at the time to up my running, be dedicated and train. The time has come, my quads are tooth picks, my body is fatigued with stress (me left eye won't stop twitching), my lower back is tweaked, and my mind is obviously not there. I am questioning my ability to run at this point.
Someone finally had some influence on me, the most unlikely of people. I have heard the argument a thousand times over that it is "unnatural" or "we are not built" for such distances. I had always disagreed. "Polish Bob," a fellow climber and my new massage therapist, of all people didn't make that argument. He put it in different terms. First, it takes my body at least two weeks to recover from such an effort. I usually don't rest for that long and wind up with injuries. Second, why put all one's eggs in a single basket. Really one can only run a couple ultras a year. What you get sick, injured, life just gets in the way. You have trained, basically eat, thought, slept, breathed with the intent of this race and now you can't compete. BLAH! Such is life I know but one is much more likely to suffer from major burn out with this type of training. Third, the likelihood of getting injured in these races is dramatically increased. Not the best...
Maybe I was just open enough today to finally listen to someone. I think that I just don't want to do it so I am open to any excuses I can find. I am not in very good shape nor do I have the confidence that once burned inside of me, pushing me to the limit. What ever the reason, I am admitting it, I just don't want to run that far right now.
***Ahhh*** It is a load off already. Who knows, I might still run it, I have to sleep on the decision because I tend to make hasty decisions.
As of now I am stoked on yoga, my floor bow is my favorite posture, I can do great back bends, I feel strong, and I have a great foundation for the coming climbing season. Distance running is another story. Is it a story of the past? Right now I think it is. I am not shutting the door on it completely, I will still get a couple runs in a week, I just don't want any pressure to run. Oh and biking is way cooler than running!

Sunday, March 08, 2009


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This is what my house looks like today and it is beautiful. It is quiet, sunny, and perfect. John is wiped from a l...o...n...g... week at the office. I had a trying week that sucked much of my energy. The house smells of sweet banana cake that is about to come out of the oven and a crock-pot full of split pea soup. There is nothing a little home cooking, sunshine, and love can't comfort. Now John is headed out for a ride and I am going to practice yoga. In the morning, it will start all over.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fat and sassy

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Here is to every woman. And every crazed cat.
My cat is fat, sassy and happy as can be.
What a life. I want to be more like my cat.
Fat and sassy in my own way.

Your bailout.

Everywhere I turn, the talk is concerning the economy. At first it seemed to be the catch phrase, small talk non-sense that fills up too much of our days. It is for real now. There is no shiny SUV to transport the economy out of this crisis. We are in it for the long haul. We are going to have to ride it out. It is hurting and trying almost everyone in the country and as we see it is causing ripples globally.
There are numerous local shops that have closed their doors, handed out pink slips, retooled their business plans, leaned up as much as possible. The future is unknown *nothing new there folks!*.
This shirt is an example that people will use anything/slogan in order to turn a profit.
John and I have our own plan: lots of bike rides in Whatcom County, bouldering in town and whatever else this lovely town has to offer.
I guess there is some shed of truth to the shirt. I will use yoga to keep me sane.