Ready for Everest

I am finally packed and ready to go. Today, I did my gear-check on the bed, laid everything out and my wife was amazed at what a mess I could make out of our room in such a short period of time. I try to pack as light as possible, but there are some things that I didn't want to be without, and considering the difficulty of planning and packing for weather from between 90 degrees in Kathmandu and freezing at Base Camp, and preparing for rain and everything in between, for three weeks, and keeping the total weight under 30 pounds, I think I did a pretty good job.

the gear splayed across my bed

I am sure I will forget something, and this is not an exhaustive list of everything in the pack, but a few of the more memorable things I am bringing to the Himalayas are:

  • hiking shoes
  • trail running shoes
  • big down jacket
  • pack of wet-wipes in lieu of a shower for three weeks which means I will hopefully get my own row on the flight home
  • my 3 water bottles (one of which is a big Obama 08 bottle that I will use to pee in at night; my conservative friends will be very happy)
  • a bunch of tech t's
  • hiking pants
  • wool socks
  • soap that you can wash body, hair, dishes and clothes with
  • first aid kit with anti-diarrhea medicine and moleskin
  • my trusty Timex running hat
  • The Original Buff
  • gaiters
  • a light jacket
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • High Adventure paperback
  • a couple of magazines
  • my wife's neon-pink ipod shuffle (to ensure that I am not hit women)
  • Cliff bars, Honey Stinger gels, Rev-3 energy powder, Enlyten electrolyte strips, Via powdered coffee, beef jerky
  • Canon point and shoot
  • Cell phone
  • passport
  • bunch of singles for the strippers sherpas

I packed it all up and weighed my pack, coming in at a svelte 27.8 pounds, not too bad, seems like I could even carry that around (at sea level).

my Obama 08 pee bottle

fully packed

I wanted to get in a last hike before I left, so I took my hiking buddy up to my favorite trail on Double Peak.  It was a beautiful day, the wind was blowing and the air was clear and we played name that cloud for about an hour, then finished up with some Subway sandwiches which always taste good after a long hike.

just getting warmed up

that one looks like a fish

clear and windy day

the kid's a natural on the downhills

That's it, a thirteen hour flight to Hong Kong, a twelve hour layover in Hong Kong, a six hour flight to Kathmandu, and then the Himalayas.

Sun Strides Trail Run Series Report and Getting Ready for Everest

This should probably be two blog posts with two shorter titles, but I'm feeling a little lazy (thus the 12:42 run this morning), so I am going to try to stick everything together and post a lot of pictures in lieu of flowery prose.

The Sun Strides Foundation puts on a series of trail races that raise money for sustainable, renewable energy in the developing world.  I paid $60 for the four races and as entry fees skyrocket (my wife just paid $95 for a half marathon), $15/race was a great deal.  They also kept the interest up by giving points for the top fifteen finishers in each race and the people with the highest point totals at the end of the series would be awarded a prize.  I have never won a prize for running, aside from sanity, blood blisters and stinky clothes, so I registered for all four races.

Lake Hodges 5K Trail Run

This was a beautiful out and back course along Lake Hodges in Escondido.  The trail was mostly flat with a couple of really small hills, so it was a fast course.  My strength is in the hills, so it was really hard for me to stay with the lead pack in this race, but I was happy with the result.

The finish at Lake Hodges

Black Mountain 7K Summit Run

This is my type of race, an out and back course, not too long, really steep and favoring a steady pace.  Basically, if you can do the thing without walking, you are assured a good finish.  The downhill was fun and rocky and there was some blood left on the trail at this race.  It was tough watching the high school cross country team show up weighing about 100 pounds, all of them together, and leaping up the mountain, turning around and flying down.  I totally outsprinted a 12- or 13-year-old kid at the finish, so notch one for the old, bald, shameless runner and as I crossed the line, I held up both hands and let out a stirring "Get off my lawn, bitch."

I totally beat that 12-year-old

Mission Driven Eco Run 10K

Unfortunately, I had to miss the third race, the Chollas Lake 5K, due to my son's birthday party, which I tried to get out of, really hard but at the end of the day, my five year old couldn't understand that I needed at least two points to win the prize and if I missed race number three I would probably finish in fourth place in the points series.  I even charted it out for him and his response was "let's watch Scooby Doo," which in itself is ironic because I had recently seen a bumper sticker that said "What would Scooby Doo?" and the answer was clear.  So, with no chance to win the points series, I set out to run the Mission Driven Eco Run 10K last weekend.

My plan was to try to stick with the lead group, but not lead the run because the course map was a series of concentric circles and I get lost on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I like to put my head down and run, so that is what I did until I realized that after about seven miles, the lead group didn't know where they were going either, so we formed a tight pack, turned around and headed for the finish.  The feeling that comes when running fast in a pack is pretty amazing.  I didn't think I would be able to hang, but you really feed off that energy, the silence of breathing and footfalls and sweat.  It was another sprint finish, and again the older guy won, but it wasn't me, it was a guy with a Tom Selleck mustache and a few more miles in the legs.

The pack heading towards the finish

The winner (of the race and the mustache contest)

I went on a great hike last week with my brother, brother-in-law, mom, her husband Ric, and our friend Steve.  I'm getting ready to trek to Everest Base Camp and realized I haven't done much official trekking, unless you count losing my lunch at about 1,700 feet on Catalina Island, so I'm a little worried about 18,200 feet in the Himalayas.

We drove up the Ortega Highway through the Santa Ana Mountains and did the 10 mile hike to Sitton Peak in about five hours.  The views from Sitton Peak were beautiful and with that 3,200 foot peak under my belt, I think I'm ready for Everest.

Sittin' on top of Sitton Peak (I know, pretty f'ing funny)

My Everest drugs...I'm the Barry Bonds of Trekkers

Today's Run -- San Elijo Lagoon

I have already told my wife that when I die, I want my ashes spread (probably illegally and in the cover of darkness) over the San Elijo Lagoon.

In college, a couple of friends and I rented a shack, literally a box-like dwelling on a road of other shacks in Solana Beach.  The place was a hole, but it was two blocks from the beach, two blocks from an outdoor basketball court, two blocks from Pizza Port, two blocks from the Tidewater bar and Mai Tai Mondays and about half a mile from the trail-head to San Elijo Lagoon.  Our neighbors were surfers, weed dealers, skateboard enthusiasts (the guy that shared the shack-plex with us invented these).  Back in those days I smoked, and I quit, and I smoked and I quit a bunch of more times, then I ran, and when I started running, smoking was some kind of self-flagellation, or maybe that was the running.  Some of my first runs were at San Elijo Lagoon.  I would drive the less than half mile to the trail head at the end of the street, park my car, and run for about five minutes, stop, cough and hack, then turn around and run back, get into my car, go home and eat some Ben and Jerry's.  My girlfriend, now my wife, used to walk at the lagoon, sometimes on Saturday mornings, then we'd go to the farmer's market at the other end of the street and buy some fruit, go home, do homework and make out.  Now I am starting to sound old, but I'll sound even older if I mention that most of the old shacks have been torn down and plowed over for the super-rich because you can't keep a location like that secret, I mean Mai Tai Mondays, come on.  I was happy to see the old shack still standing, painted a bright yellow with orange accents, and I said a small prayer of thanks to the owner (a Del Mar lawyer) who just totally redeemed himself.

The lagoon is the perfect spot to take out-of-town visitors like my in-laws, the lagoon is my Statue of Liberty, and it is more crowded now, more people were out today enjoying the trails than I remember being there last time out, bird watchers who give me dirty looks even though I try to sneak up on them, kids, dogwalkers, and other runners.  You can't keep a place like this secret, even though I thought of not writing the name of the lagoon in this post, just calling it the #$% ##%^&$ Lagoon, but people would replace those with swears and I wouldn't want the reader to get the wrong idea, because it really is a beautiful spot and it should be shared.  I wanted to take pictures and post them, but my camera battery was dead (I did find this site that has a lot of great shots of the lagoon).

My daughter at the lagoon, five years ago

I was feeling unmotivated and just down today, and when my wife called and told me that my son had forgotten his lunch box, and asked if I would drop it off at preschool, I rolled my eyes and was about to give her a lackluster excuse about work, but then she added maybe I should get a run in after, at the coast, and it's a beautiful day, so I couldn't resist.  She knows my weakness, so I dropped the lunch box off at the Y preschool and I must have looked just awesome swinging the blast-off rocket lunch box passing all the gym-rats, muscle-heads, made-up treadmill walkers and other assorted YMCA species.  At least it wasn't my 3-yr-old's princess lunch box, and it had a masculine, phallic rocket shooting off between a couple of moon rocks.  After dropping the lunch box off, it was only a few miles to the lagoon so I decided to skip the coast and hit the trails.

The lagoon stretches from the coast in Carlsbad and Solana Beach to Rancho Santa Fe.  The trails go around the bird sanctuary, over an old walking bridge that someone put up years ago and it is getting weaker each time I cross it, through some California desert scrub, sand and then to a tropical area covered with shady trees.  The trails aren't too hilly and aren't too flat; these are the kinds of trails that welcome everyone.  You won't find those rude signs that read "No Trespassing" or "Keep Out."  The signs at the lagoon say "Birds Only Beyond this Point," which is a much nicer way of putting it and I am much more compliant with that sign than the "No Trespassing" ones that I come across occasionally.

There are memorial benches along the trails, and one reads "In Memory of Patty Smith, Enjoy the View, Mom," which brought tears to my eyes.  Running the lagoon today brought back a lot of good memories.  I have run there with friends, family, hiked with my kids, all on those trails and, like all special places, my memories weave in and out of the scenery, the trails, the trees and make it something more than just a lagoon, or just another run, and I'm not sure why, but today, as I read "Enjoy the View," I stopped, sat down on the bench, took a few breaths and stored that moment away.

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