Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recently read: Pharr Davis, Abbey, Thoreau and Walls

Throughout the summer I have focused on reading blogs and books to help maintain my training schedule and ever-increasing mileage.  It's much easier to get up at five to hit the trail if you've been dreaming of Walden all night.
That said, these four books have shaped the past couple of months for me.  I read a LOT of books and I read them fast, so retention of information is not always one of my strong points.  I like to think of this quality as a positive thing, I only remember the best.
Becoming Odyssa is Jennifer Pharr Davis's account of her first through-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  This woman is a BAMF.  She first completed the trail in 2005, she broke the women's speed record in 2008 and she broke the overall record this summer, pulling off consecutive 50 mile days like nobody's business.  The book itself is a pleasant read that details the total experience of the trail; the personal, spiritual and of course physical aspects of her journey.  When my mom told me that they didn't have it at her local library I had a copy sent to her and told her to have everyone in the family read it.  Of course she obliged and has passed the book on to a few friends as well.  Although Jennifer and I would probably disagree on a lot of things, I admire her a whole lot and her adventures are a huge inspiration to me and have had an immense impact on my relationship with the wilderness.
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey was recommended by a college friend, I got about halfway through before leaving for vacation and was put in quite the anti-TSA mood before my flight to Seattle.  the novel details the hi-jinks of four eco-terrorists in the most lovely way imaginable.  The characters are not all as well developed as one might like, but they all have a different relationship with the southwest and take the actions that they do for different reasons.  Abbey was quite a character and had an extremely deep relationship with the deserts that he describes.  His prose is breathtaking at times and his anarchism balances this out in an unexpected way.
I finished this about a day into my vacation and perused the shelves at my grandma's house to find Walden.  Given that Henry David Thoreau was a big inspiration for Abbey, this was the perfect follow-up.  I got about ten pages in and wanted to smack myself for not having read this sooner.  The man sings the song of my soul. The book is boring at times, but the values of self-sufficiency and frugality that he preaches are vital to my own happiness and who I am as a naturalist.
Most recently I finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  (gotta love this interview) When my mom recommended the book she said something along the lines of "ohh, it's a memoir, the parents are alcoholics and they're abusive... It's really great."  Needless to say, I was hesitant, but luckily my mother is not very apt at identifying literary virtues as she recognizes them.  The story of Walls' childhood is certainly a heart wrenching one but she captures the adventure and romance in her parent's ideals in a very beautiful way.  It's a quick read and something that I would recommend to anyone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

End of summer let-down

Today was a day I had been planning for a while.  In mid-July I decided to sign up for a 29k trail race and adjust my training schedule to absorb my previous goal of a half-marathon as a training run.  My sister and best friend encouraged me and on a whim I hit the register button, excited to push myself and start building distance for the 50k that I would really love to run next year.  I started running more, on both roads and trails.  I ran through my vacation and started taking my training more seriously.  I ran the half marathon and beat my previous year's time by 15 minutes.
Today nobody showed up.  Well, the runners showed up.  A La Sportiva vendor showed up.  But nobody from PCTR was there to hand out bibs, no start or finish in sight and despite a nice reminder e-mail from the evening before, the course had not even been marked.  My best friend Jessie had come to cheer me on and relax in the park while I was out and she commented on how laid back the crowd was, "maybe they know something we don't, everyone seems totally unfazed".
As a gal stood up to encourage people to just get on with it and run the course, people started gathering to take on their respective distances anyways.  Although I didn't join them, an amazing day was had by many.
I stood next to Jessie, contemplating whether I might take off with the other runners.  I realized there was no way I was going to run today.  I was angry.  I was angry that I (and a couple hundred others) had paid hard-earned cashola for a race, and no one had even bothered to show.  Beyond that, someone sent out an e-mail the evening before knowing full well that there would be no race that day (one can only assume as the course was unmarked, which generally happens the day before).  There were no volunteers bearing water and salted potatos, no course guidance and no frickin t-shirt.  I was also angry at the lazy relief that I felt.  After a short discussion, Jessie and I decided to grab a bite and go hiking in Wilder ranch.  There are plenty of loops to modify your distance and it's flat enough to walk briskly and chat.  We ran into a few folks and had nice little chats.  Overall a great day.
Still no word from PCTR regarding refunds or reasons... Who knows what happened to them.