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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crystal Cove Xterra Training Run

A fitful night of sleep, I woke surprisingly rested at 5 AM, rain pounding down, wind whistling through trees with their branches swaying ferociously. (It was quite a scene -- I'll tell ya!) Gosh, I thought, and I'm going on a trail run. I bundled up good and hit Highway One under darkness. As soon as I made Laguna Beach, rain had ceased.

Thank goodness.

There were about 13 of us in the group today, some of us training for Xterra's 17K next month, others out just for the fun of it : ) Boy am I glad I got a look at that trail before attempting it in the race. It begins on a good mile and a half uphill, up El Moro Ridge to Bommer Ridge (which leveled out some, but was still ascending). Even going down "Pacific Ridge Trail" wasn't all downhill.

Quite a trail -- I've got to get my behind in gear for this one, less than two weeks away. (And I do have a game-plan, but I think I'll start it on Monday : )

Miles logged this morning: 10.6 (17 kilometers)

Despite the trail's difficulty -- it was a beautiful day indeed!

Me in the beanie and gripping a parking pass that I just paid FIFTEEN dollars for, Sheila lacing up for the run, Hank raring to go (photo courtesy Tom)

The climbing begins from step one (photo courtesy Tom)

Group Photo of some of our group (13 total ran today -- again, photo courtesy Tom)

"Mama always told me not to look into the Eyes of the Sun.
But Mama, that's where the fun is"

And I ran with a rain poncho tucked in my belt the whole way!

Heading back (& climbing again)

If I can see it, we're almost there -- see that blue there yonder?

"My Bonnie lies over the ocean . . . "

Some of the guys (I didn't catch everyone's name -- I was too far behind : )
(Tom's photo)

Tom provides cold drinks for all!

Sheila bids Farewell (photo courtesy Tom)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! 2009 Dana Point Turkey Trot

We began our Thanksgiving celebration the day prior with a BBQ at the beach. I brought my scooter along, with a “maybe” that I’d join my boys. Well, a mom can’t bring her scooter and not scoot along. So on a day that I promised myself physical relaxation I rode my scooter for a couple hours with my three boys along the ocean side. That’s worth giving thanks.

To bed early, I slept restlessly, finally waking at 5:45 for a race that I openly loathe – The Dana Point Turkey Trot. Why do I loathe this race? For one, it bores me practically to death, for two, it is way too crowded, and three, it is so poorly organized, which I won’t go into detail, because it is after all Thanksgiving, and to complain isn’t very thankful.

So why did I run this race that I so desperately loathe? Easy. I can’t not run a 10k race in my own backyard. I just can’t, can’t, can’t.

So, I ran to the race for a warm-up, and squeezed into the crowd. As I crossed the start line, I hit the timer on my wristwatch, aiming to break an hour. The crowd was thick, difficult to plow through, as walkers generally did not line up toward the back. I figured I’d just make up time in the last half.

It was a beautiful day, blue skies, crisp, cool temperature – perfect running weather. There were runners dressed as elves and Santas. We were all knocking into each other that first couple miles, nothing too bad – but the road just thins too much through Doheny Beach, especially since it’s cut in half for the return trip. I reached the 5k mark in 30:29, which is not my best 5k time. Still, there was a chance, I thought to myself, I could break an hour, if I picked it up some. By the time I crossed over onto the island, I was just happy to be more than half way finished, and really didn’t care much anymore about breaking an hour.

At the five mile marker, I looked at my watch and thought to myself, “all I have to do is a ten minute mile to make it.” I didn’t push it too much, and I also didn’t account for the .22 of a mile remaining after mile six – which equals running faster than a ten minute mile!

All’s well that ends well, so they say – and it is true. I didn’t break an hour, coming in at 1 hour, 58 seconds (but I can say that I made it within an hour : ). Also! Today's time is my best 10k time to date – and I surely can’t complain about that.

Will I run this race next year?

Probably so.

My 2009 Turkey Trot Standings:
Results: 1:00:58 (2008 Turkey Trot 1:03:13)
Placed 2,122 out of 3,798 overall
Placed 857 out of 1,998 women
Placed 111 out of 257 women age 40-44 (yeah, next year I enter a new bracket!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Speed

It's getting cold out here in the morning. I know, not cold, cold, like say Michigan or Montana cold, but cold for our parts. I don't know for sure, but it had to be low forties (brrrr). Tom and my ears both froze as we made our way down into the canyon. All the more reason to run it fast -- fast for my taste, definately faster than I had run it before, I'm certain.

It was Tom's idea! I wouldn't have come up with such an plan -- more mileage, sure, more hills, why not? But more speed -- yikes! That's dang hard. Last time Tom ran that out-and-back along Aliso Creek Trail and Wood Canyon, he did it in an hour forty minutes. With those climbs toward the end of Wood Canyon, I doubted that I could do it. Flat road, sure (I mean maybe!), but on a trail, didn't think so.

I certainly wouldn't have done it without Tom running alongside me (and sometimes ahead of me). But we did it -- we made those 9 miles of trail in just under an hour forty minutes. Wow. And the IT band didn't even whisper a complaint : )

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Up Rockit to The Top of the World.

On the road a little after 6 AM for a group run, I was hopeful for a good IT band day. Yesterday, I bought a foam roller. As soon as I got home, I tore open the packaging, layed on my side and rolled back and forth over the band. I would have never believed it, had someone told me that this would work (actually more than one person told me it would work). After only three painful rolls, I stood up with huge improvement. I could barely feel there was a problem. Wouldn't it be nice, I thought to myself as I rolled into Aliso Wood Canyons Park, if I could do these hills without burning pain in my hip?

We were pretty bundled up, all five of us -- myself, Sheila, Kelly, Tom and someone new to our runs, Hank. When I say new, I don't mean new runner, or even new trail runner. He seemed to take these hills with ease!

Anyway, what I thought might be a pretty dang cold descent into the canyon, turned out not to be so. Sure, it was cold, but definately not freezing. We took Aliso Canyon to Wood, saw a Blue Heron slowly walking through the brown grass. Then we ran up Mathis Trail just a bit to hop onto Coyote Run. We made our way along Coyote, weaving in and out of grove shade, up and down mildly hilly terrain, until we reached Rockit. And then the climbing began.

My hip felt great, but if there was anywhere it would start burning, it would be running up Rockit. What a huge relief it was to not feel pain -- and what a beautiful sight it was running up that rock trail in the early morning. Hank took up the lead with Tom, us three ladies coming up behind, we reached Westridge with gloves off, long-sleeves tied around our waists.

After a break over looking Laguna Beach at Top of the World, we made our way down to Mathis and took that lovely decline until the turnoff for Dripping Cave. There's a pretty good climb in the beginning of this trail, but nothing like we had already run. Plus some of it's beneath big old oaks, with their roots twisted above the surface. Running along a single-track ridge type trail for a bit, we climbed that final hill, and made our way back down into the shade. Of course we stopped in Dripping Cave, then left running for that final stretch back to the ranger station, passing that Blue Heron again along the way.

I had a great run today (great group, as always) and put in 11.07 miles running to the Top of the World. My IT band felt great. There was no limp back to the car, no painful stretching, just a very dull sensation that the trouble wasn't completely gone. Marvelous.

Sheila on Rockit Trail headed for Top of the World

Kelly so gracefully making her way on Rockit

Top of the World, Overlooking Laguna Beach (Me, Kelly, Sheila, Tom, Hank)

Kelly, Tom and Hank in Dripping Cave (A.K.A. Robber's Cave)

Heading Back toward Wood Canyon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why Run?

1. Why the hell NOT? You are just off a tad, right?

2. Because I have some inkling how the story will end. (This is quite important for a story teller.)

3. Because it's an opportune time to forget everything. (Forgetting is good, good, GOOD).

4. Because it's an opportune time to remember everything. (Remembering is good too -- perhaps, you think not, but THINK . . . running brings back those really odd times IN DETAIL -- like the time I ran right into a car when I was a child! Odd things like that come back suddenly and oddly when I run, some of them not too pleasant, they bring me back to gasping tears -- oddly, that's good too. Don't forget the flip-side though -- those old experiences way back when that you thought you long forgot, the fun childhood stuff : )

5. Because I can listen to music non-stop (glory), (that is if I run alone).

6. Because I can eat more calories than the average human being.

7. Because it helps me remember things long forgetten (Oops I already said this)

8. Because it allows me to beat up on myself,(without actually doing the deed. . . )

9. Because it gives me the opportunity to meet new people (QUALITY PEOPLE).

11. Because I can be alone (even admist those quality people).

12. Because it keeps me sane. (And insane, some might think)

13. Because it helps me to put things in perspective.

14. Because it gives me confidence.

15. Because I get to see deer, blue heron, snakes, bobcats, quail etc.

16. Because the "reality" of life and "reality" in general seem to co-exist.

17. Because I can get really dirty. : )

18. Because I never thought that I could do it.

19. Because it makes me proud because I can do it.

20. Because photographers take plenty goofy pictures of me (and GOOFY IS GOOD).

21. Because swimming then seems so much easier.

22. Because I get to see the sunrise.

23. Because I get to see the sunset.

24. Because I get to feel to glory of crazy.

25. Because to run is to ESCAPE without approval, well . . . let's see.

I know, I know, a lot of this doesn't make a whole of sense. Funny . . . It made perfect sense when I posted it at 2 AM : ))

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who Needs A Camera When You Have a Phone (And Who Needs Black Clouds When You Have Running)

I hadn't planned on running today. But this gal (that's me) who was crying the blues (literally), decided to take a break, and squeeze in a quick run anyway -- a flat run, right here at the edge of the Pacific. I wore a watch to keep track of time and carried only my phone (which turns out to take pretty dang decent pictures -- and I don't have one of those fancy new-fangled phones either).

I ran along the street and crossed over the island, running down the ramp to a shaded sidewalk that lines the parking lot. And when I came out at the other end, here is what greeted me and lifted that black cloud from my eyes:

Sure it's kind of a boring picture of a lonely road overlooking the harbor mouth. But I'll tell ya! It dazzled me this morning, kinda shoved me into my groove. As I continued along on this flat run, I passed another interesting camera-phone-worthy scene. I'm talking about meticulously stacked rocks. There's this guy out here who spends hours stacking these things. People stand about watching him in awe. Here's something I've never told anyone (except my husband) about the whole thing. I get this devilish thought every time I pass the scene to run through the rocks, kicking over the "artwork." But I would never do that; it would probably make someone cry. It's just this uncontrollable urge thing -- hopefully, you know the feeling, else you think I'm a complete jerk.

After running off the island, I turned around at the cliffs, making this a quick run with 3.61 miles gladly logged this morning.

My Turnaround:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Five Oaks Trail

I have a love/hate relationship with hills. I love running them, I hate running them, I love running them, I hate running them. I can narrow it down a bit more: I hate running the first three-quarters of a big hill (mile plus kind of hill), and love the last quarter. And I love, love, love, reaching the top.

So when my doctor asked, "Can you not run any hills until this IT band is cleared up?" I politely responded, "No." It was like OUT OF THE QUESTION. He compromised, "How about train on flat trails for now, races go ahead and do hills." I politely responded again, "No." With a smile on my face of course. And then I got to thinking, maybe I should at least cut down the hills. (It's not like I'm a serious athlete or anything-- I do this for fun!)

Tuesday's Top of the World run therefore, was not to the Top of the World. I don't think Tom believed me when I said that I'd run to the end of Wood Canyon and back with him, a relatively flat run. He said that I didn't say it very assuredly (I'm not sure if he used that word. I'm not sure if that is a word : )

Needless to say, it was a lovely "flat run" along Wood Canyon Trail. I put the quotes around flat because now I call that trail flat. Put me on it before I started trail running, you'd find me blubbering in the dirt, crying, "You call this flat???"

One of my favorite spots on Wood Canyon Trail, where you just might see a deer:

We turned around where Wood Canyon hits Cholla Trail, and I wasn't at all missing climbing up that thing. It was a delight in fact, knowing I was going to turn my back on that hell of a climb, a delight to feel no burning in the hip. Tom probably didn't believe that I really wasn't running to the top until that point when we turned around and headed back.

Being the mileage junkie that I am though (and I have been so low lately), we took a detour up Five Oaks Trail, one of the few that I don't have marked off on the MASTER MAP (a crinkled up map that I keep on the back kitchen counter where I highlight all the trails I've run in Aliso and Wood Canyons. My goal: highlight every inch of trail).

Anyway, what a pleasant surprise Five Oaks is! What started off as a dry, sunny trail, turned into a lovely shady, mainly leaf-littered-single-track. It ran along a dry creek bed, where water obviously spilled over some boulders during the wet season. After climbing up some wood plank steps, out of the shaded grove, we turned around, with the promise, "We'll be back", to conquer the rest of that trail that continued, up, up, up : )

Five Oaks Trail:

Miles logged Tuesday A.M.: 9.66

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Serve America Mud Run

I ran my fourth mud run this morning, a five miler, with an aching IT band. Result: I had plenty of fun and remained strong, plus it was for a great cause (the Wounded Warriors and other veterans organizations).

Arriving quite early (7:30), I didn’t realize that my race started at TEN. It was all good though (not “the” IT, but the general it : ), because I had lots of time to roam. The race took place at the old Lion Country Safari grounds, a family attraction from my youth. I remember going to Lion Country Safari at least once as a child (it was a drive-thru attraction, with wild animals roaming about). They’ve kept it much the same, wild, dirt roads, but with some man-made lakes (rather ponds), that I don’t recall. The best thing about arriving so early was that I got to watch the 5k mud run, which was enjoyable indeed. For the first time ever, I got to see the front runners cross the finish line. (I’m usually way too far back in the pack to see that!). There were three of them today, all neck-in-neck, when the lead guy ran off the course, had to turn back and lost his lead! The crowd groaned. A good ten minutes passed before another crossed the finish line, a few minutes later, another after that – all male. And then the first female from the 5k came in, lean and mean, and strong! I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone at the final mud crawl, and stood along the finish shoot clapping as muddy/wet runners came in before I went off to bag check and stretched my IT some more.

Of course, I chose the five mile, instead of the 5 kilometers (mainly because as far as distances go, I usually dislike 5k’s, because it takes me so long to warm-up – in other words, the race is practically over before I’m warm). As a future note, 5k’s for mud runs might be a good idea, especially with an aching hip.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy myself trudging through mud, running up hills, jumping over logs, pulling myself over walls, crawling through sand, jumping haystacks, and more. I’ve got that final mud crawl that all mud runs love to lay on us, down pretty good. It’s the one that we have to slide down into and crawl beneath ropes. Most people do that “army crawl” – not me, I let my body “float” and walk with my hands. Believe me it’s the best way to traverse it. I passed many in those final seconds.

I’d say this was one of the most enjoyable mud runs to date. I came in at little over an hour, passing many along the way. There were no timing chips – but time matters least in this kind of race. To do it is a feat. My accomplishment was that I never stopped, and I ran up every single solitary hill : )

Note to those of you considering one of these crazy races: to do well in a mud run, you don’t have to be a fast runner. You just need to keep a constant pace through all of it, and you need decent upper body strength, and most importantly need to know the best way to conquer the obstacles (that may take a few tries).

I mingled a bit afterwards, then hit the group showers. After changing into dry clothes in a shaded, cold, gender-segregated big tent, I headed back home, happy for a race well done.

Miles logged this morning: 5

Injuries acquired: a left bruised knee, a seam burn on my arm, and an IT band prevented from further healing.

Some scenes from the 5k

Oh the fun of a mud run!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How Fortunate Am I?

Reading through my last blog, I had to chuckle to myself. I chuckled thinking, how lucky am I that I get this opportunity? What a great adventure running, and then the ultimate, trail running, has been. Sure, I grumble, and I endure injuries (not too many in fact), but I really hope that it comes out in these blogs that I love it!

Sports in my youth was never this much fun -- softball, volleyball, swimming -- I compared myself to others instead of simply comparing myself to myself. I fretted, frowned and didn't enjoy anything but a win. I didn't count the tiny personal wins -- little things like a decent spike, a serve that actually cleared the net, a nicely laid bunt, a perfectly timed flip turn, or a backstroke where I didn't slap the swimmer in the next lane : )

Sure there's people who run better, and faster, and with less injuries -- there's lots of people who are smarter, skinnier and prettier too. But really, Who cares? Another chuckle -- does it take this long to finally realize, "Who Cares?" (I hope that my children learn A LOT sooner : )

I'm middle aged, and I conquer things I didn't even attempt in my twenties. I've worn dresses all of my life, high heels, and lipstick -- hardly ever shorts and dirty ankles (aghast!). Yes, it's true that I still won't wear flip-flops unless my toenails are painted. But now, I hold up a scraped elbow in triumph. And when I apply an ice-pack, I secretly delight.

How lucky am I???

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Up Mathis

I headed to the Top of the World solo this morning. After a struggle warm-up, I arrived to the base of the Mathis climb with dread. I thought, "I . . ., I ca, ca, ca . . . I . . ." But I wouldn't allow myself to think it. "Don't think about it," I hollered inside my brain, "just do it." (Hey isn't that a Nike commercial???)

How shall I describe my run up Mathis this morning? Hmmm. It was steep, slow to end, uneven and rocky, so, so difficult. Let me think . . . Hellish comes to mind. (Is that a word?)

Don't think about it, just do it.

The skies were blue, clouds white and wispy, the breeze cool. A blue heron wandered about on Aliso Creek Trail. Picture perfect for a morning run. My body though just wasn't into the difficulty. Fortunately, my mind was. And so I did run up Mathis, and then up Westridge. Finally reaching the Top of the World, I ran into the park, when my boss phoned. That cracks me up still, to get a call on the run, and to answer it! Well, I sat right down in the middle of the sidewalk for a few minutes talking, then rose (like rising from the dead) and ran across the Top of the World neighborhoods to enter the park again for a Meadows run.

Running down Meadows trail was a blast. I ran all the way back to the ranger station, my IT band acting up : ( When it was all over though, I was GLAD, wishing I could do it again soon. Back at home, it was ice on the hip and then a hot shower.

Here's my theory on what's happened here with this injury: 1) extra weight (pounds on the body), and 2) compensating for my toe problem. I tried to change my uphill gait, by implementing a mid-foot strike, even on the steepest parts (to avoid toe running) -- well, I'm pretty sure I started bending at the waist more when I got off my toes -- and tadaa, injury. (When I told my doctor about trying to run hills with a mid-foot strike, he said, "Our bodies aren't meant to do that." I should have listened.)

Needless to say, about a week ago I scratched the "off my toes on steep hills" plan, but the injury hasn't completely healed. Will I ever get it right? I'm 44 years old, a fairly new runner, I don't know what the heck I'm doing!! I never thought that I had to know what I was doing. That's one of the reasons I started running (because it was free and it didn't take much knowledge -- funny, eh? I'm laughin'. Seriously, I am.)

I love it still. And I smiled this morning driving home when I felt the layer of salt crusted across my face -- now that's a tough workout : )

Miles logged this morning: 9.08

Monday, November 9, 2009

Route 66 Half Marathon Cancelled

Saturday I had planned to drive all the way up to Barstow to run the Marine Corp's Route 66 half marathon. But the race has been cancelled. I was looking so forward to getting away for the day, and seeing if I could possibly beat last year's time (my best half marathon time 2:15). I admit though, that I was more than a little relieved learning that I didn't have to make that long, long drive to the high desert.

What to do though? No Route 66 means 19 races this year. I had planned on a nice even 20. So I scoured the internet looking for something to fill the void next Saturday. I couldn't find a thing that looked good. I mean, who wants to drive out to L.A. or up to San Francisco? I don't. And then, right before me, on my trail running group sight, a five mile race scheduled for next Saturday. I can do five miles! But it looks like I'm going to get a bit muddy once again. : )

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Buffalo Alley -- Redeemed

Skies were cloudy this morning for my first run since last Sunday, for my first race since mid-September. Buffalo Alley was the race today – a hilly 10k dedicated to wounded and “fallen” soldiers – an important race for me, one that I push myself to run every inch. And that I did, injured and all.

The way I see it is this: Men and women have put their lives on the line, gone through hell and back, given their lives in service to our country countless times. They have gone through unbelievable things. They ran when they didn’t feel like it, they ran when it was really, really hard, when they didn’t think they could take another step. Buffalo Alley is the race that in dedication to those soldiers, I run every inch, even the steepest of hills (and that first hill – it’s a doozy, a mile long, up, up, up).

My injury is much better, but not completely healed. Worried about a slight ache, I popped three ibuprofens before leaving this morning. I arrived early sipping a protein shake. Then I met up with fellow runner/blogger Rich before the race. What a trip! Funny, talking to someone like you know them, when you’ve never met. (I met his sister, Susie, after the race also – a delight as well!)

I held up pretty good during this trail race, though I felt that I might not beat last year’s time. Though many of the runners walked up much of that first big hill, most of them passed me afterwards. And it seemed like I didn’t pass many people after that. Running up the hills in their entirety does not conserve energy well – but it does much for the psyche : ) I didn’t lose heart, because my goal was really just to run the entire race, and to have fun.

When I say I never stopped, I mean it. I didn’t even stop to drink. I’d grab a cup while running and take a couple of sips as the water splashed all over me. I carried no camera, wore no belt, or camelback. All I brought along was my ipod, thoroughly enjoying my selections (Apocolyptica, Silversun Pickups, Kid Rock and more).

After that first big, big hill, it was series of rolling hills, though tiring, they were oh so fun. At a low-point in the elevation, a second climb began to another ridge. At the top of that ridge I expected to see mile marker four. It seemed that mile marker three was so, so long ago.

Alas, no mile marker four as we ran along the ridge. I asked the guy next to me, “Have we hit mile four yet?”

“Hell, yes!” he said. But then when I mentioned I didn’t see the marker, I noticed a little worry in his face when he remarked that, ya, he hadn’t seen one either.

And then, just after we turned to make our way down the steep descent off the ridge, there it was – mile marker FIVE! The feeling was awesome – I ran down that exceedingly steep hill in a gallop. Someone behind me said, “be careful,” and I thought to myself, oh don’t worry, I’m running slower than I want to – I know all about falls, and I ain’t fallin’.

And I didn’t fall, crossing the finish line in 1:05:29 (beating last year’s time!)

I met up with Rich and Susie after the race. And of course, I ran back to the car for a camera to capture some pics. It was great meeting these fellow runners. On the way out, I also finally met Lucinda– she’s the lady I’ve seen at so many races, dressed in black, running in combat boots, while carrying the American flag. She’s one tough gal.

Great race! Perfect weather! Good people!

Miles logged this morning, and also for the entire week: 6.22

Here’s to hoping I’m on my way back.

Fellow Bloggers / Runners (Me and Rich)

After race refreshments

Rich and Susie

Start/Finish Line

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is this wrong?

Maybe I'm a little grumpy for not running to the Top of the World this morning. Maybe I'm just a b****. I spent a couple hours at the gym this morning, and there were a few things that stood out as just plain wrong (& and I'm really easy going as to people doing their own thing, really, I am : ).

1) How about dropping the weights? Once accidentally, maybe twice. But every time? Come on? Does anyone else think that's okay?

2) I don't know if it's just me, but I don't douse myself with perfume when I got to the gym either. Am I just a plain ole' b***** to grumble when a woman hops up onto the elliptical next to me, smelling like my kindergarten teacher (I can still remember her perfume, my kindergartner teacher's, that is).

3) And then there's the guy (sometimes it's a gal, but this morning it was a guy) running SPRINTS on the treadmill. Now it's a beautiful day today, why not go outside for that? The treadmill just isn't made for sprints -- maybe my kind of sprints -- but not those 4 to 6 minute/mile pace sprints. Do these super humans realize how much noise that makes? It practically shakes down the building. Don't they see people turning around to see whose making all that noise?

Maybe I'm just cranky.

Miles ran this morning: ZERO

Sunday, November 1, 2009

IT hurts

This morning running gal took another afternoon run today. I was fooling myself though, and really shouldn't have taken that run. Yesterday, the pain in my IT band disappeared after 6 miles on the elliptical crossramp. I thought, "hey, it's over! I can go ahead and run again."

Not quite. Though my marina run was enjoyable, it was not pain free. And tonight, I suffer, walking about like I'm ninety years old with a bum hip. After much denial, I finally gave in, and have put in for five days (FIVE DAYS) no running.

So all of you out there running next week: know that when I see you, or hear about you, I am green with envy.

Miles logged this afternoon: 5.63