Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner


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Love Me Some Mountains

As my life continues to zoom about, so does my attention span. I’ve, yet again, managed to squeeze in an inordinate amount of action and miles on my odometer in a relatively short amount of time. Hang with me here, it’s a long read, but packed with good bits.

Mountains! Fast people! Running! Hippie cafés! Professional strides!

Have I got ya hooked?

Mammoth

I’ve been meaning to visit this distance-running fairytale of a location for well over a year now. Since I’m in a non-location specific part of life right now, I figured it was a good time to actually go.

Mammoth came on my radar awhile ago, as several older Chico State cross country alum now call it home, specifically for training reasons. Other badasses/elites call it home for training too, as the Mammoth Track Club tears it up on a regular basis (Chico State’s Scott Bauhs being one of these guys).

With a fresh wad of cash from a one-night catering gig in Chico, I filled my gas tank (by the way, the recent hike in gas prices isn’t exactly conducive to my hobo lifestyle) and set off to meet Mr. Jimmy Elam in Rocklin for a cup of coffee before following him caravan-style through the drive to the mountains.

I arrived to an at least a 20-degree drop and walked into a condo scattered with running shoes, marking a classic runners’ household. This one belonged to Alan, Jimmy and their Jordanian roommate, Mo.

After some small talk, we set off on an aerobic run around Lake Mary for my first taste of Mammoth-trail-crack. Surrounded by snow-dusted mountain-tops, and a fox sighting, I was almost distracted from the lack of available oxygen until Alan proudly tapped a road-sign as we cruised by our third mile or so.

Elevation: 8910 ft.

My poor sea-level coddled lungs.

I spent the rest of my short trip being treated to several of the guys’ favorite spots to eat, enjoying a 14-mile long run Sunday morning with Lindsay Tollefson (yet another Chico State alum), a gorgeous hike, and some beer with true personality at Mammoth Brewing Company.

I think I’m in love with the town.

Inspiration

I departed Monday morning, but not before an aerobic run with marathon icon and American record-holder Deena Kastor.

Can awesomeness rub off? I can only hope so as my debut in the marathon creeps closer (CIM, December 2nd! Gah!).

Being in Mammoth in general helped simultaneously calm me down, and pump me up, if that’s possible. I feel like I have so much unfinished business with the sport, and am welcoming the overwhelming calm in knowing that I want to continue, knowing that I want to find a way to make this work in my life.

I suppose I’m using the word “calm” synonymously with “certainty” or “assuredness.” Whatever the word, these feelings seem difficult to come by of late.

Lucky me.

Departing

I left feeling gratitude toward so many areas of life. Gratitude toward the gracious hospitality I’ve continued to receive, gratitude to my ability to explore, gratitude to my health and my continuation with training, and gratitude to everyone who’s helped and supported me along the way.

I took Tioga pass back, enveloping me in more breathtaking wilderness and leading me through a section of Yosemite. It also cut off cell service for a good portion of the drive.

Just me and the road. Ah, confused hobo relaxation.

Mountain Sage

In my more obscure route home, I stumbled across possibly one of the coolest little cafés I have ever had the pleasure of stumbling across.

Side note: for those of you who don’t know, I’m slightly obsessed with cafés. The ones with good-vibes. When I was in high school, I told everyone that I wanted to grow up and own a café that displayed work by local artists. As I got older, that idea evolved to also include a beer and wine bar. Who knows, maybe this is still in my future. But mostly, I think the idea stems from my notion of a place that I want to exist to hang out in. 

ANYWAY, this place was situated in the heart of Groveland, an area with a bustling population of 601, according to the ever-accurate Wikipedia. Essentially, one of those teeny-tiny-itty-bitty towns that can be driven through in a matter of minutes.

But, knowing the length of the drive ahead of me, the boldly carved wooden sign bearing the beautiful word ‘coffee’ lured me in.

Turns out, this place is a café, photo gallery, and herb garden, all in one. You walk into an actual house, follow the signs past a cozy living room situated with a furnace and comfy chairs and couches for lounging to the coffee house in the back.

Oh, and there’s a tree randomly growing in the living room. Of course I loved it.

The coffee bar itself was in a cute outdoor setting, surrounded by the herb garden. The coffee dude wore a “Pre Lives” shirt, a distance runner dead give-away (clearly a sign that I was meant to stop here). We chatted running for a couple minutes, and I assured him that marathon training wouldn’t be a gateway addiction to ultra-running.

I downed my Americano, strolled around the photo gallery for a couple minutes, and was back on my way.

Little Miss Professional

I returned from Mammoth late Monday night, chased daylight for about five minutes of my second run before succumbing to a street-light lit concrete shake-out.

Though I could have remained in the mountains for a many more days, weeks, months, etc., I needed to get myself back to the bay area prepare for some late-week professional ventures in San Francisco.

That’s right, it’s time for this lady to put the yoga pants and hoodie aside for a day and flex her college-degree-journalistic-public-relations muscles.

New adventure?

Random Wrap-Ups

For anyone trying to keep track, here’s the quick and dirty version of my physical/mind location:

  1. Still flitting about location-wise, but can mainly be found between Santa Rosa and Chico
  2. Running for the Sacramento Running Association (*this marks the only real commitment I’ve made recently)
  3. In training for my first marathon
  4. Job searching in San Francisco for PR and journalism related work
  5. Remaining a little too stoked (really, watch the video)

Until next time…

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Hobo Problems

As I continue to perpetuate the now over five months of constant movement, I’ve come up against two issues that a self-proclaimed hobo, like myself, should have mastered by now.

I’m not sure if it’s plain stupidity and/or stubbornness, but I have failed to actually address these until semi-recently.

So, without further ado, here’s my first attempt…

Goodbye-ing

Ah, goodbyes. I am god-awful at them.

I also realize that the style that I’m living in calls for an inordinate amount of goodbyes. It requires me to essentially be doing as much goodbye-ing as hello-ing. Which is why sometimes I just don’t do it. I survey the goodbye scene, and decide just to bow out before many really notice that I’ve gone.

Maybe it’s because I have somehow inherited a similar view to legitimate goodbyes as Peter Pan…?

“Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” – Mr. Pan

I’m adopting a loose interpretation of that quote, to help me explain my sentiments. I also find it slightly amusing that I’m finding great meaning in a quote from a character who refuses to grow up.

The truth is, every person in my life owns a certain amount of me. They’ve shaped a certain part of me that will never be undone, and I could never express that in a simple “goodbye.”

However, I’ve given this some thought. Though my lifestyle perpetuates an ordinate dose of ‘goodbye,’ by default, it also gives me just as much ‘hello.’ So, I’m trying to choose hello, to my best ability. It’s difficult for me to really wrap my head around a legitimate goodbye. In my head, we’re going to meet up in the future sometime.

Goodbyes have changed in meaning for me, perhaps merely as a coping mechanism. They’re best made with a hug, and a knowing smile. They’re more like a strategic or necessary pause than a complete severing of lives.

However, some people don’t make it easy on me.

Yes, that’s my leg that she’s holding on to. Sure makes it a lot more difficult to put my peacefully philosophical “goodbye” to practice.

Selfish bitch.

Kidding…kind of.

Packing

This topic is quite a bit lighter, but in all seriousness, packing is my kryptonite. I avoid it at all costs.

Part of it is because I have this constant fear that whatever I bring will never be quite enough. I usually end up throwing as much as I can into my car in the limited time I’ve left myself.

Example: I need to be leaving to Folsom (my first post-collegiate race is tomorrow morning-yip! More on that later…) in less than two hours. And here I am, writing a blog post. Yep.

Self-sabotage? Naw. This has got to be pure mental and physical laziness.

I’d love to prolong my ramblings, but I should probably go pack now…or take a powernap.

More wanderings brewing, and some recent past to share still. Stay tuned!


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23-year-old Youngin’

For anyone that read my last post and didn’t conclude that I don’t exactly want to be living at my parents house, well…I don’t want to be living at my parents house.

I spent a good amount of high school lusting after my college years, my association with freedom at that point. So, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that I’m not completely stoked to have come back to the nest after I thought I had fled for good.

But, my current life and financial situation necessitates it, for at least a short while. And I’m finally accepting that. That doesn’t mean that acceptance hasn’t come with my “adult” version of a temper tantrum, kicking and screaming the whole way. That’s definitely a part of why I’ve been so overly zealous of seizing every and any opportunity to move my physical location lately.

Past Hobo Attempts

Anywho, a strangely parallel situation from my youth has actually popped into my mind of late, running alongside the temper tantrum theme.

As many children threaten to do at some point, in my 7 years of wisdom and severe identity crisis from associating with Shirly Temple because of my hair (kidding), I democratically informed my parents one night that I was running away from home.

Mom and Dad, I’ve come to the conclusion that your ice cream rationing is bullshit. I refuse to live in this dessert dictatorship any longer. I’m leaving to find frozen-sugar-and-dairy freedom on my own. Screw you guys. I’m out.

Apparently I started cursing at a young age.

The point is, for whatever forgotten reason, I decided that finding alternate living accommodations would be the best solution to my exorbitant life problems. I was a complex kid, what can I say.

However, as I began gathering my most precious belongs for the big move, I started to realize that while freedom of ice cream consumption was extremely important to me, I had failed to consider the small detail of where else to actually go. Other issues arose as well. Who was going to pack me a sack lunch for school in the morning? Clearly my plan had some slight shortcomings.

So, I revised my previous statement, went to my parents and asked if I was allowed to run away to my playhouse in the backyard.

Way to stand your ground, kid.

For those of you a little slow on the uptake, ice cream is code for way of life, philosophical bullshit, blah, blah-de-blah, blah, etc. (For the record, I still hold my past sentiments about the aforementioned issue pertaining to ice cream.)

What my long-winded-point is, in all this temper tantrum business, I’ve failed to recognize that home ain’t all that bad. That I want to be an adult, and I have confidence that I’m getting there, but there are still these small adulthood things to sift out, like rent, car insurance, health insurance and money for food (ice cream).

To point out the obvious, I’m not quite there yet.

Clearly, independence has held a certain allure for me from an early age. And clearly, I still haven’t quite broken the habit of sometimes wanting to jump a little prematurely.

It’s more than a little chaotic at times, but the only thing that scares me more than my personal fears  is the fear that I’ll let them consume me in such a way that I forget to actually live and enjoy the beautiful life I’ve built for myself.

So, I’ve been running with scissors, so to speak. And I’m going to keep sprinting with those motherfuckers.

I couldn’t be happier.

Rediscovering Home

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that there are worse places to bide some time than Sonoma County. I’m lucky enough to practically have Annadel State Park as my backyard. In fact, I rarely have to drive to trailheads for my runs, as I’m able to hit dirt in just over a mile from my front door.

Late afternoon on the red dirt trails of Annadel. 

A semi-view of the lake I spent four summers lifeguarding. Holds a special place in my heart, and it’s generous pay checks definitely made these last four months of travel possible. 

And there’s been a slightly endearing nature to rediscovering my family’s quirks, like my mother’s habit of jumbling her words and wishing me “goodnight” every morning that she leaves for work.

…they’re adjusting to me being back as well. I already discovered two precious sleeves of thin mints hidden in the back of the freezer and Ghirardelli chocolate chips in the crevice of a cabinet.

Nice try folks. Time to step up your game.


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Baby, I’m back!

Repurposing

I got back from my European excursion, and stopped blogging. But, within the past several days, I’ve been feeling it call me back.

I started this blog as a way to share my adventures and misadventures with my friends, family, and whoever else cared to read. However, since I’ve been back, I’ve realized that though travelling overseas was an unreal adventure, it actually served as a catalyst to what I’m tapping into right now.

More than ever in my life, I’ve been exploring, in all senses of the word. And more than ever in my life, I’ve been relishing the unknown. Don’t get me wrong, I have my “whatthefuckamidoingwithmylife” moments, but generally, I’m embracing making decisions for myself. And lately, a good amount of those decisions have been made on wonderfully spontaneous whims.

Day Tripper

Since my arrival back stateside, I have yet to remain in one location for longer than two weeks. Sometimes it feels strangely glamorous, sometimes it feels downright dirty, but it’s always laced with a certain excitement and exuberance.

Here’s a rough outline of my location changes since the end of July:

  • Santa Rosa
  • Chico
  • Delaware
  • New York (Catskills, not city)
  • Santa Rosa
  • Chico
  • Michigan
  • Yosemite
  • Chico
  • Redding
  • San Francisco
  • …and finally back to Santa Rosa, aka “home”

Anyone remotely close to me gets HUGE credit for putting up with my whims of late. Though it’s been exciting/awesome/splendiferous, it’s also been exhausting. This is my mini shout-out to those still putting up with me. Grazie mille.

A large part of my most recent wanderings has been an effort to figure out what I want my next step to be. That next step largely relies on landing a job. It also relies largely on finding a place that I want to situate myself for this next period of growth. Location is an enormous part of my overall happiness, so I take a potential move pretty seriously.

Though being back at my parents house has it’s perks, I’ve realized that I got used to a certain independence during my last five years in Chico.

Plus, the ‘rents don’t seem to appreciate my definition of productivity in lieu of a job. Epic rubber band ball construction and self-taught songs on the ukulele seem like legit accomplishments to me, but evidently, I should be in my own apartment to fully appreciate these moments.

San Francisco

My decision to embark on my most recent excursion to San Francisco was made all of about 18 hours in advance. No more than 20 minutes into my departure from my at-the-time latest excursion in Redding, I dialed my friend Rachel and asked if she had time for a quick visit. Luckily she’s awesome and eagerly accommodated me.

After a quick overnight stop back in Chico to see my friend Katrina’s band play in a 90’s show, I woke myself up early to get a good long run in before jumping in my trusty blue, sun-spotted, Corolla that has endured my abuse from age 16.

(Complete sidenote: for anyone in Chico tomorrow night, the band that Katrina is in, The Rugs, are playing at Café Coda. I am more than a little devastated that I cannot be there. But if you have the chance to check them out, GO. They will rock your face off. Promise.)

With a fresh tank of gas (my current concept of currency), and some good tunes, I made the three-hour drive, and arrived in time to soak up a Sunday afternoon in the city.

For anyone who read this blog previously, Rachel is my childhood friend who just graduated from a St. Andrews in Scotland. She’s now back in the states as a San Fran gal, employed by the gaming company Ubisoft as the Associate Digital Marketing Manager for the “Just Dance” game.

She’s two years my younger, and already more of an adult than I am. Dammit.

We grabbed some baked goodness at Tartine, and lounged on the green grass of Dolores park amidst a colorful variety of other San Franciscans soaking up the last bits of weekend afternoon sun. Impromptu space-age fashion/dance show combos are totally normal on a Sunday, right?

Rach showed me around some of the neighborhoods, describing the different vibes each one exudes. Apparently, she thinks I would fit right in in Mission. I’m mentally drooling already.

We capped the short day off with dinner at the German restaurant, Suppenküche. A refreshing hofbräu beer, a couple potato pancake things, and a cheese spätzle (essentially the best macaroni and cheese of my entire life), later we walked out overly satiated.

Luckily, getting anywhere in the city requires a decent amount of transportation by foot. We made a detour to a small playground, before walking back to her flat in the Castro to crash.

The Next Departure

The next morning, Rach left for work, and I fed my parking meter with as many coins in my car as I could round up before hoofing it to a café.

I took just over an hour to enjoy a well-rounded breakfast of a double espresso and a croissant (tribute to my mornings in Europe), and the various leftover SF Chronicle pages from an earlier customer. My laptop accompanied me as well, for some morningtime musings.

I could have stayed in that café for hours, but my meter was a good 10 blocks and an incredibly steep hill away. I made it back, just two minutes before my meter was about to expire! Pro.

I left San Francisco with a bit of a new direction in my quest for a new home. Being in the city made me excited about living in a new area, exploring a new situation in life, soaking up different people and cultures.

I’m excited to take another step in my life. I’m excited to be excited about finding a job. A real one. One that I get to complain about the pay-to-rent-ratio. More than anything, I’m excited to be at a point to be excited about life.

…I need to find a new word for “excited.”

Yip!