July 31, 2012


I just read that the Equinox Marathon is one of America's toughest marathons.

I see.

Well, this should be interesting.

July 29, 2012

The Simple Task That Was My Charge

This weekend, I was the officiant in the wedding of two of our friends.

They prepared the ceremony script for me, so it was quite simple.

Public speaking, really.

Except, I failed to notice that all the guests were standing after the bride's father gave her away.

And they kept standing.

And I kept failing to notice throughout the rest of the ceremony.

So the reception involved me answering questions about whether I *intended* everyone to stand throughout the entire ceremony.

Ummm... No.

I did not.

Many apologies were made by me.  I was embarrassed.  And sad.  But happy about everything else in the wedding, which was absolutely perfect:

A magazine spread ready bride and groom in a perfect venue.  Taiko drummers.  A san-san-kudo ceremony.  100 guest-lighted lanterns sailing off into the night sky.  Dancing.  Eating and drinking.  A maid of honor who *sang* her toast.  They even added a very thoughtful birthday cupcake presentation for me coupled with all of the guests singing happy birthday.

At the end of the night, one of the close family friends said to me, "Something goes wrong at every wedding.  You did them a favor by making it something so minor, so early."

What a wonderful thing to say!  Thanks!

I shall strive to offer similar words of comfort to another at some point when it is apparent that they are struggling with disappointment at their own failure.

July 16, 2012

California Dream Runs

My cousin was married at the self-proclaimed "World's Most Beautiful Zoo" this weekend.


After the wedding ceremony, all of the guests were invited to feed the giraffes! (check out that tongue!!!)


So, yeah, you can add "licked by a giraffe" to the experiences I've shared with my siblings, first cousins, and niece. Cool!

In addition to the pleasure of feeding a giraffe, the travel commitment meant that the day of the wedding, I was able to run a loop from our hotel, through a canyon, under fog and mist, up a cliff, and out to a shoreline park trail, past crashing waves on one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, and finally, a recovery jog/walk up one of the more posh and fascinating shopping scenes I've ever seen (State St).

California is a gloriously beautiful state and to enjoy it on a run in perfect weather is one of the greatest pleasures I have known.

The morning after the wedding was equally awesome (after the wedding, E & I bid the 20-somethings goodbye from the last shuttle bus as they headed out to dance 'til dawn and we prided ourselves on our late wedding partying - I mean, we took the last bus and because I packed flip-flops, I left my heels at the venue, that has to count for some sort of mid-30's coolness, right?). I woke after what felt like sleeping in, and I headed out to the deserted paved path along the beach (nothing like a party town to make you feel like you wake early). I did speed intervals in the overcast cool temperatures, grateful for the sound of the crashing waves and a reprieve from the direct sun I get at home. I finished, happy with the fast tempo, and treated myself to my favorite post-run ritual of bare feet in the cold ocean, where I try to relax and metaphorically let the receding waves take everything I should release.

Last night, thanks to business obligations in Los Angeles, we had a fabulous date night in Santa Monica including sunset dinner at The Lobster and a wonderful room with awesome views at Ocean and Vine:


Today, I had the privilege of a short run along the paved beach path in Santa Monica and Venice where I pushed the pace and enjoyed the shared commitment to fitness.

You know, like this:

(In other news, while I opted out of the tightrope, this AM, I confirmed that I can still *barely* do a pull-up. This was a relief to me after a failed attempt on the shuttle bus post-rehearsal dinner, perhaps after too many drinks and while the bus was driving...)

Tomorrow, I'm planning to run to the Hollywood sign.

All in all, this picturesque SoCal interlude has treated me to some fabulous runs and I can't help but feel extra grateful to live in such a beautiful state with a commitment to its environment and making the beauty available to all of its citizens.

July 12, 2012


Over the years I've gotten pretty good at getting rid of and avoiding the acquisition of what I call "stuff."

I don't enjoy shopping, so I rarely acquire new material possessions.  E & I have essentially the same furniture that we've had since we met, in 2000.  I mean, we live in Silicon Valley and both work in technology-related careers, yet this is what passes for an entertainment center in our house:


(Why yes, that is a 38" CRT and an HDTV antenna to send signals to the free converter box from the gubment to convert those over-the-air HD signals to NTSC).

I make a pile to go to GoodWill so regularly that the pile has its own dedicated corner in the house despite my general hatred for clutter.

I enjoy the act of purging "stuff."  I never feel guilty or wasteful for getting rid of something that still has use.  In fact, I feel freer, happier.   The later thoughts of "didn't I used to have a...." never cause me to regret my decisions.  They just make me smile.

Yes, yes, I did used to have that thing.  But I don't have it now.  How wonderful.  Space!

But Ideas?  Goals?  Books? Pictures or videos of memories? For me, these things are not "stuff."

I collect them.  I hold on to them long past their useful life.  I grow unreasonably attached to them.

So I have boxes and boxes of photos.  And shelves and shelves of books.  And lists all over the house full of things that are unlikely to ever be achieved.  We even have a VCR and videotapes of memories from childhood (see above) that have survived my otherwise strict regular purging policy.

I also have an unreasonable attachment to the idea of *finishing* books.

Prior to today, I've only given up and agreed not to finish one book: Ulysses back in my early 20s.  Because of its stature in the literary world, and the fact that I just could not get myself to enjoy it, I finally admitted that I just wasn't "getting it" and thus it would be a waste of time to finish it.  Too many characters and complexities for me, thanks.  Perhaps one day I will return to it, but I doubt it.  There are more books in the world than I could read in my lifetime, so it seems unlikely that I'll go back to one I didn't like rather than try a new one (to me) that might.

But other than Ulysses, historically, if I start a book, I finish it.  And, I usually only read one pleasure book at a time (I'm mid-way through several educational books at the moment, on law, Chinese characters, etc. but I don't consider them part of my reading for fun habit -- I won't curl up on the couch with them or cuddle up with them in bed).

So, imagine my surprise when I admitted yesterday that despite absolutely adoring Anathem and REAMDE, I just couldn't bring myself to read another page of Quicksilver.  I slowed my typically page-ripping pace as soon as I started this one.  I'd been reading along at approximately 1,000 pages a month this year, and then, from May until now, I've been struggling to get through a handful of pages in any sitting. 

Yesterday, after yet another fitful few pages, I realized I was only on page 361 of 962!  And I'd bought or borrowed the whole Baroque Cycle Trilogy!

So, I had a chat with myself and admitted that I needed to make some more space in my thoughts, just like I need to constantly make more space in my physical life.

Not only am I not going to finish this book, I'm not going to finish the whole trilogy! Instead, I am going to go through my books, make a pile of books to sell to the used bookstore, and include the two books in the trilogy I bought. (I'll return the third one I borrowed back to metamatt.)

Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm going to admit that I'm also really struggling with River Horse.  It was a lovely gift from Arvay, and it's a treat.  But it's *so* *slow* that I actually agreed to cheat on it and start Quicksilver.  And look where that got me!

So, I'm going to follow several of the comments on GoodReads and relegate it to bathroom reading -- it's reassuring to learn that some folks took 4 years to get through this one.  I like it enough to finish it over the course of 4 years.  

And with that, I'm at 6,103 pages for the year and ready and excited to start a *new* pleasure book.

July 8, 2012

Inching towards a very hilly 26.2

This week, I finally pushed my mileage above 30 miles per week for the first time in 2012.

For my long run, I headed out to join H for a repeat of the hilly Sand Hill/Alpine loop with some additional out and back hills tacked on for good measure.

8 minutes faster than last time, overall, from beginning to end, including all stops and walking.  (Essentially, I kept roughly the same average pace as last time, but was actually faster in the running portions due to adding a bit more walking, plus I eliminated one of the stops/rests I took last time to buy beverages and cool off).

The first 4 miles (with some of the steepest hills) were noticeably easier than last time.  Also, I was able to hang with H (who's in *much* better shape than me) 'til 11 miles instead of 8, so I counted that as an improvement as well.

There's about 1300 ft of ascent and 1300 ft of descent on this loop.  So it's decent hill training and I'll definitely return to it a few more times for the benefits it offers.  But, when I look at the Equinox Marathon Profile, it becomes very apparent to me that I need to find some bigger hills if I don't want to die of quad pain on the day of the race...

Wish me luck...

P.S. yes, I realize my last blog post ranted about work-out regimes as an annoying default topic of conversation for women in my social cohort, and then I promptly posted about my running life.  

For clarity, I am more than happy to talk about working out for its own sake as a small subset of a general social conversation.  I really enjoy learning about what different people do to treat their bodies to some physical stress and strain in exchange for all of the myriad benefits.

I just really get uncomfortable when what I thought was a fact-based conversation around someone's work-out regime evolves into a weird competition, or judgment-laden topic, or, my least favorite, an entry into the Bermuda triangle conversation storm around cellulite, fat, size, and body image issues.  

Why is it that many women (and some men) can't live and let live when it comes to topics of nutrition, working out, etc?  I just don't understand why the reality that what works for one person may not work for everyone else is so hard to comprehend and accept.

July 6, 2012


Celebrities (usually with lots of judgment).

Cleanses (the more details of the dietary sacrifices made and physiological effects, the better).

Diet details (again, the more details the better).

Work-out programs (say it with me now, the more details the better).

Feeling fat, out of shape, or otherwise bad about and ridiculously concerned about one's appearance (aka body-dysmorphia).

Suffice it to say, I am severely disappointed with what are considered the default acceptable topics of conversation among women in my social cohort with whom I don't share some other obvious common conversation topics (children, as I've mentioned, leaves me feeling a little left out, however, they are actually much more entertaining and fascinating to me than the standard default female discussion topics.)

I mean, really.  Was I at a party this weekend where the dudes branched off to go troubleshoot a broken two-stroke engine and the women talked about diets and feeling fat for part of the separated time?

Yes.  Yes, I was.

Happy Independence Day!  (In fairness, the rest of the women-only conversation was scintillating and wonderful.)

But, I am sad about the state of women in America.  Why do we default to discussions that assume the value attached to female attractiveness and the maintenance thereof is all-important?

And I am especially sad because I am often hated by women who don't know me, simply because when they meet me, I speak with confidence and brush off the standard topics (like a guy, I've been told, more than once), which apparently makes me (one of my least favorite words) a "bitch."

Ladies.  We can do better, and we'd all be happier.  Seriously.

Come to the party ready to talk about what you love and feel like it's worth talking about.  I'm fairly certain that even if you love celebrities, cleanses, diets, and/or your work out, you also love something else in your life that's cool and just as interesting as a failing two-stroke engine.

And, if my prior rants about kids scared you off?  Please.  I would so much rather talk about your kids than celebrities, or cleanses, or diets, or body-dysmorphia.  Let's talk about them.  Please.

I guess this rant is a request to expand the acceptable default conversation topics for women who don't know each other.  We are smart.  We are interesting.  We can talk about all sorts of things.  Let's do that!