Halley

Friday night Orion ticked off another baby milestone: his first cold. Poor kid.
Now it’s Saturday night and I’m writing on my phone while he nurses himself to sleep. I’m listening to him gurgle, thinking about breathing. His very first breath was not so long ago, and his very last breath is hopefully so very far in the future. It’s 2015 – he could easily live to see 2100, which seems impossibly far to me.
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(I hope he’s got his flying car by then, or at least a jetpack.)

Thinking about the far-distant future made me remember Halley’s Comet. It came through our neck of the woods in 1986 – do you remember it? There’s a tiny, tiny group of us who remember seeing it in ’86 and can realistically hope to see it again in 2061.

I remember standing at the top of our driveway with my dad, staring up at the tiny little smear of light, and realizing two things: I’d probably see it again, and my dad certainly would not. I was eight, so I knew intellectually that I’d outlive my parents but we’d all die one day – but the comet really brought that lesson home.

Now I have a kid of my own. I’ll be an old lady when Halley’s comes back, and he’ll be firmly middle aged. If the pieces of his life click together in a certain way, he might have an 8-year-old daughter of his own, and maybe she’ll remember seeing that same comet twice, too.

Edmond Halley didn’t discover the comet that bears his name, of course. He used his colleague Newton’s new laws of gravitational attraction, plus the historical records of previous cometary appearances, to predict the return of the same comet years later.

I keep feeling inspired to write little snippets. Not essays or stories or even anecdotes, just little chunks of what’s going on in my head. Maybe getting them out of my head, lined up neatly “on paper,” will let me tie all these cometary sightings into one cohesive whole.
(image via clickamericana.com)

Hahah, probably not. But at least it’ll keep the writing skills sharp, right?

Hiatus

There’s a lot of nothing going on here. No riding, certainly no endurance, not even any running.IMG_5155G isn’t able to watch Orion. I keep coming home to a D: bawling baby, and nothing is worth that. I haven’t ridden since Ramage on the 4th. I got in one more 5k around Lake Merritt on the 7th and haven’t run since.

So I’m moving Dixie to pasture board further east, outside of Danville. She deserves a nice long break. In three more months, when O is six months old, I’m going to see about getting him in day care for a couple half days. I’ll be able to ride then, hopefully.

I’ve got a jogging stroller (thanks AWS and crew!!) and the pediatrician just cleared us to use it*, but my foot has a Bad Pain and I can’t get excited about running. I was just gearing up to really guilt myself into a shitty run when Real Runner Mel reminded Real Runner Ash that when you lose the desire to run, you really need to listen to your body or you’ll run into burnout/a real injury. Of course I’m not a real runner yet, but perhaps I will never be if I run myself into injury every chance I get?

So! No riding. No half marathon. Just a really adorable babs.IMG_5086He’s totally worth it, but this really sucks. It’s been over five years since I was goal-less like this. I miss my horse so badly I keep crying.

(I could leave her where she is, but I can’t walk her with the baby – there’s tons of poison oak that she keeps grabbing bites of and then I have to make sure her slobbery death mouth doesn’t touch the baby or me, ugh. And it’s really not fair for her to be in a stall that much. This is right for her and terribly hard for me.)

I mean, raising a baby is a totally worthwhile goal, but it’s way too meta to count. I’m planning on dragging him to Tevis with me, as the Tevisfeed on instagram, and we’ll go run base camp at Tahoe Rim later this year, but… it’s not Funder vs. anything.

But damn, look at this smile:

Talker.

A video posted by Orion_Pics (@orion_pics) on

*you’re not supposed to put them in jogging strollers til they’re, like, halfway grown – 6 months or 9 months or something ridiculous like that. But he’s got good head control already, and I’m not trying to trail run, just jog on smooth pavement.

Ramage wins this round

IMG_4829Ready to roll.

So Ramage Peak trail definitely beat me.

The first mile was hard, but doable. Just the usual rolling hills covered in oaks and a verdant sea of poison oak. Then we came out into open grassland and I started to think I was in trouble.

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I stayed pretty cheerful though.

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We climbed a hill and looked backIMG_4835

And aroundIMG_4834

At all the hills.IMG_4844

And my fun trail run became a horrible death march. I realized I was never going to make it eight miles to the end of the trail and decided I’d have to run “for time” instead — they say just staying on your feet and moving can be almost as hard as running the actual mileage. Modified goal: slog out, as fast as possible, for two hours, then turn around.

Dixie thought there was no real need to keep going – there was plenty of food where we were. IMG_4874

And danger lurked ahead, making terrifying gobbles.IMG_4840

A victim of a turkey attack, no doubt.IMG_4842

I felt for that cow, y’all.IMG_4847

We slogged on, through green fields and forested creek ravines. Dixie found something to snack on everywhere — grass in the fields and poison oak in the forests.IMG_4848

The trail hadn’t been maintained in a long time, and in a few spots branches grew low over the path. I was shoving my way through one tangle of twigs, thinking about how when I came back, I needed to bring the clippers I keep in my trailer, when something green smacked me dead in the face and I realized it was poison oak.

“MOTHER FUCKER!” I bellowed at the top of my lungs. (Well, I hadn’t seen a single other person on trail all day, so.)IMG_4852

Oddly, that broke the misery of the trek, and I started enjoying myself again. I started singing to my horse and having a much more cheerful time.IMG_4851

Another panorama – click for full-size.IMG_4861

Finally, at 1:55 in my self-imposed 2 hour trek, I popped out into another grassy area. As of spring 2015, there’s no discernible trail, just an arrow pointing sort of up and left. Do you go up this hill?IMG_4865

Or do you go around the top of this ravine?IMG_4866

The answer is around the ravine. If you circle the brushy cliff, you’ll find another arrow and the start of another forest trail. Hope that helps someone some day!

(A better trail description can be found here, written by a real ultrarunner, but there’s really not a lot online about this trail. It’s a secret, shhh!)

I fed Dixie an apple, then mounted up for the return trip. I had a new full sheepskin to try out and it was heavenly — thanks Angie! I’d brought Dixie’s bridle, strapped to the saddle, but I ended up riding the whole way back with just a rope halter.IMG_4867

I got off and ran, painfully, a few times, but most of the trip I stayed mounted and forced the horse to earn her keep.

We found a snake on a hill.IMG_4870

On the way back, the few remaining cattle were closer to the fenceline.IMG_4873

Near the trailhead, you go past a Christmas tree farm. We were trotting briskly along, with me singing rap lyrics at the top of my lungs, when a turkey gobbled inside the fence and Dixie stopped dead.IMG_4876

She used to be such a bad spooker, y’all. And she was just in that rope halter, and all she did was stop dead. So proud of that horse. (But ow, my poor neck!)

I figured I might as well get off, since I could almost see the end of the trail. I got a crappy video of the turkey, then marched on to the gate.

Turkey in the Christmas tree farm from Funder on Vimeo.

Behind me, Dixie stopped to rip up some vegetation. Horrified, I spun around, already knowing what I’d see.IMG_4882

Yes. Yes, that’s a tremendous branch of poison oak dangling from my horse’s mouth like a magic wand of suffering. Accio rash!

I mean, I’d already gotten hit in the face once, but still. When Dixie rubbed her face against mine as I loaded her, I almost screamed. Thank god for Technu Extreme.

What a shitty run. So what went wrong?

I was drinking Tailwind, but it really seemed to be doing me right. It’s extremely easy to drink – barely sweet, no artificial sweeteners, and my body really liked the amount of electrolytes in it. I think I like it. I can’t blame it (or my food/drink in general that day.)

I was wearing my new Altras, the heinously pink Superior 1.5s, but they feel a lot like the almost-as-new Lone Peaks, and I don’t have that many miles in either shoe, honestly.

The trail was harder than my running level, but not by much? I just don’t think I can blame anything but myself. I did maybe five miles with 1200′ of climbing,* compared to last week’s quite successful 6 miles with slightly less climbing. I don’t know, dude. Sometimes everything sucks and you just have to put your head down and slog it out.

Really hope Tuesday’s run is better.

*The GPS also quit trying in the middle of the outbound run. I reset it for the ride back, but the elevation gain on the outbound leg is higher than on the return trip — my turnaround point was maybe 150′ higher than the trailhead.

Didn’t Derby

Last Saturday we went to visit some friends in SF. It was late afternoon — not the best time to do ambitious things with babies; they’re usually tired and headed toward overstimulated even on a normal day. But Orion is such a sweetheart; we got him to take a good early-afternoon nap and threw him in the car at 4:45.
He fussed a bit in the bridge traffic, but once we got to our friends’ place, he was great. He stared at everything in their home — so different from his home! He grinned at them, and he gnawed on S’s finger and grinned at me, and when he got hungry I fed him and he took a nap in my arms.IMG_4625 IMG_4626We really didn’t feel like cooking, and we couldn’t agree on take-out, so we stopped twice for food on the way home. I changed Orion in a McDonalds parking lot and he went back in his boring car seat without a fuss. At home, he really needed snuggles, but he let me shovel half my food in my face before he started to fuss.IMG_4633I held him and felt his body go from rigid and unhappy to soft and relaxed, and I mentally ran through my ride plan for the next weekend, and I realized how hard it would be on my kid. He would try, and his worst is better than some kids’ best, but it would be so hard, either way. If I left him at home, he and his dad would get more and more frazzled, and if I took him with me, just the trip would be about all he could manage. And then we’d sleep in a strange hotel, and then I’d wake him up at 4:30 and load him in the car and take him to the lake so I could get Dixie ready… It’s just too much, too soon. And somehow the fact that he’s so good, that he tries so hard and stays cheerful — I can’t do that to him. When he’s a little older, he’ll be eating some real food and maybe drinking milk out of a sippy cup instead of the hated bottle. And he’ll just be sturdier and more resilient all around.IMG_4648Hellllloo, ladies!

So I cancelled my entry. It sucks, but there’s plenty of other rides this year.IMG_4659It’s the illustration for “ways to let your child sleep unsafely,” but I was wide-awake and right there, so STFU.

The next question naturally became what to do with my horse. I love Dixie, but we loathe conditioning by ourselves. Loathe it. And here I’ve just gone through all the work of getting her (probably) ready for a slow 50! The thought of doing it again two months from now seriously fills me with horrified ennui.IMG_4662I have quite a few friends in the South Bay, and I could haul down and ride with them, but I have to assume four hours travel time to get there and back, plus tacking up and riding, and there we are right back at me being gone a whole day, with all those challenges.IMG_4682White-baby rapper.

I spent a while on BAEN, looking for Fun Stuff to do locally, like trail trials or cow 101 clinics, but either the equestrians of the Bay Area don’t believe in piddly shit like that or they don’t advertise it there. Nothing but serious clinics and shows.IMG_4706I got tired of looking for horse stuff and flipped through trail maps instead, looking for a scenic 7-8 mile run for this weekend. I was thinking about maybe Kings Canyon on foot, when I looked over at the other side of the map and thought “why don’t we both go?” I can trailer down Redwood Road to the Chabot staging area. I’ll run up Ramage Peak Trail, dragging Dixie on a leadline, then get on and ride her back to the trailer.Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 10.48.37 AM(Jonna had asked what EBMUD stands for — it’s our water utility, the East Bay Municipal Utility District. They own a bunch of watershed land and reservoirs in the region.)

It sounds win-win actually. She gets twice the mileage with half the weight on her back. I get to see twice as much out-and-back trail as I would if I were alone. She’ll be shitty and reluctant — i.e. moving at my long-distance running pace — on the way out, then when we turn around and I mount up, she’ll be inspired to head for the trailer quickly. She can carry extra supplies and my helmet.IMG_4748Fat baby Buddha.

So that’s my new weekend plan. I wish I was riding 50 miles, but the season is very young. I just need to stay motivated to keep Dixie fit enough. Orion will keep getting older and easier, and we’ll make it to a ride this summer (and maybe a big ride this fall!)