Issaquah Run at Salmon Days

Last Sunday I did the Issaquah Rotary Run at Salmon Days. I completed the 10K in 57:27, according to the official chip time. This meant I was a bit slower than average, and way slower than the first place runners, but it was an awesome race, and I really enjoyed it. My pace was faster than I ran for the Livestrong Challenge 5K back in June, and the Runner’s World Smart Coach actually had me running slower for the race, so I beat what I guessed my time would be. The Smart Coach app on my iPhone is predicting a similar pace for the Seattle Half Marathon at the end of November. I laugh to think it is even remotely possible for me to sustain less than a 10 minute pace for 13.1 miles, but it doesn’t mean I won’t try!

Looking at the training schedule ahead, it’s not too crazy. My biggest fear is the waining light in the morning, as well as the rainy weather. My feet were definitely cold in the Bikilas while I was warming up for the race last Sunday. I tend to like to run with very little exposure protection because I do heat up so fast. I don’t ever understand the people who run in long pants and long sleeves on 50°F days. Granted, I’m cold when I leave the house, but all it takes is a block of running at a moderate pace and I’m plenty warm. The rain/mist is more of my concern, as well as the slick, oily roads I’ll be crossing in the morning hours. And people drive like idiots, and I wonder what good visibility will do me when most people in Seattle ignore the laws of physics (ie. just because you have the traction to go 45 mph in slick, low vis conditions, doesn’t mean you can stop easily when you absolutely have to.)

I’ve been toying with the idea of re-upping my gym membership for training on a treadmill. I know that I won’t get the kind of training I get from road running, especially locally, because any run means hill training. I’ve also been hoping to hold out in case I get hired at my current internship, because then I might get a free gym membership close to work, making mid-day runs more feasible.

I would love to find some training buddies locally. I don’t want to be ridiculously serious, but I really just want some people to share my hobby with. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, and it’s my nature. It’s something I’m thinking about, at least.

Now, to go shopping for weather related gear. It’s supposed to be a cold, wet winter. I wonder how my running will survive!

Running in Chicago vs. Seattle

Yesterday I probably walked over 5 miles – it was wonderful, especially considering the amount of fried food I ate yesterday was more than the past month combined. Today I went for a light, long run – it’s a break week, so I only did about 45 minutes for the run. My pace ended up just under 11 min for the entire run, and I ended up doing just over 4 miles. The biggest treat was going along the lake in the bright summer sun. It was a bit breezy and, of course, hot – but it was wonderful. Running in Chicago makes me feel like I could run forever. It’s amazing what running up and down hills in Seattle will do for your perception of effort. My heart rate was pretty low for a run (around 120-140 a good part of the time) due to a lack of effort needed. It was a fun vacation run, to say the least.

Today was also my first run in myVibram Five Fingers Bikila . They are definitely an improvement over the Sprints – and I’m glad to once again be running a minimalist shoe. My knees ache so much less after a run. The only problem I seem to be having is that my big toe on my left foot gets a little unhappy – similar to the problem I had first with the Treks. At least I’m relatively certain these are the right size. Not too big, not too small. It will take a few more runs before I’m certain – but I think the Bikilas are likely the winner.

Now – back to my break!

Decadent Dinner

Jon and I just happened to be on Capitol Hill last night to rent movies. Given the later hour, and not having anything at home readily available to cook for dinner, we decided to eat out. We ended up at Quinn’s, which is in the Pike/Pine area of the Hill.

Immediately, I was blissed out to find they had Dogfish Head’s Black and Blue on tap, a delicious beer to start with! Then, I was even more thrilled when our server replied to our question of a peculiar name of a starter (devils on four horses). The answer: Dates stuffed with blue cheese wrapped in bacon. SOLD! We additionally ordered the artichoke skewers special, I ordered the crispy chicken and Jon had the fish and chips.

The dates were toe-curling heavenly, and just about as perfect as possible. The artichoke skewers were deliciously surprising, especially with that lingering sweetness you get after eating a few. Our order was taking awhile due to a large party that came in before us, so we got comped the rabbit pate, which was pretty stellar. At that point, I ordered Russian River’s Damnation, which was a beer style I’ve been craving all week. I wasn’t disappointed. (I’m slacking, no tasting notes for you!) Jon’s fish and chips looked fried and delicious (and they were!), and my crispy chicken (as promised, with greens and cheese grits), was not exactly what I expected.

It was a small chicken breast with a crisped skin on top, layered on bacon-y kale, then layered on the cheese grits. Restaurant chicken usually underwhelms me, but this? This was amazing. The first thought in my head was that it tasted like duck. (I found out later it was braised in duck fat, then crisped in butter). The greens were equal to what Jon makes (which is PRETTY DAMN GOOD) and the grits were just absolutely delicious.

When our waitress returned to us to ask if we wanted dessert, we had to decline just because we had enough richness for the evening.

We were treated well, the wait wasn’t too long, and I’m always happy to find a good beer selection coupled with good food. I look forward to eating there again.

ETA: I failed to mention that our food was running late due to the kitchen getting a large order in ahead of us. We got comped some rabbit pate, which was delicious. It was very, very awesome. Yes.

Magic(k)al Thinking

Welcome to Monday, folks.

Last Thursday Jon and I went to see Erik Davis (author of Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV (33 1/3) and The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape) speak on Aleister Crowley. It was an interesting lecture which strung together some video clips showing the influence of Aleister Crowley on film, music, and spirituality. It was a compact lecture, and could have gone into greater detail – but what are you going to do with a late night, 2 hour lecture?

I try to be a fairly unsuperstitious person. All supernatural beliefs, in my mind, fall under magical thinking – though a quick Google search shows that others will quickly classify their chosen beliefs as being not magical, but all others being such. My interest in consistency makes me wave my hands, if only because to say that you don’t believe in ridiculous magical thing A but believe strongly in ridiculous magical thing B, for whatever reason, just seems silly.

I know of a few people who have taken Aleister Crowley very seriously, and Erik Davis shared with us some video of a Christian televangelist in the 1980’s warning that Led Zeppelin was more or less trying to invoke the devil in their live shows (not to mention the backwards masking, which we didn’t get into, but I’ve heard tons about over the years.) Years ago, I read The Magick of Thelema: A Handbook of the Rituals of Aleister Crowley, which, more than anything, I got the sense that good ol’ Aleister Crowley was having a laugh. The question seems to be, did he take himself seriously? Was he anything like the rumors of L. Ron Hubbard (who had less than 6 degrees of separation from A.C.)? Was he just doing it to see how much power he could exert over others? Was it the combination of heavy-duty hallucinogens, harsh climates and magical thinking that created the cosmology of Mr. Crowley?

The conclusion I came to, years ago, is that Aleister Crowley was Ha-Ha-Only-Serious. Even if you strip out all the concepts of “real” in the rituals and dismiss the belief that any supernatural creature can be invoked, the role of these ideas in the brain is a powerful one. Rituals and the supernatural have a place in society, and continue to exert power over the masses, regardless of what brand you subscribe to. Even atheists are vulnerable in that their non-belief gives a contrasting tension that gives the believers something to work from. Atheists cannot get away from the impact that magical thinking has on society. I see Aleister Crowley as a brilliant, warped, drug infused, megalomaniacal madman whose only power was granted to him by followers and those who feared him (and I guess, sometimes both.) His influence through the years is what keeps him interesting.

This Friday, Jon and I are scheduled to see Mike Daisey perform his monologue The Last Cargo Cult. Until Jon told me of this monologue, I hadn’t heard about the Cargo Cults. To put it short – when Americans used South Pacific islands as bases in the 20th century, they brought their wealth and technology with them – and when they left, they took it away. The islanders, to summon that wealth back, took to creating meticulously crafting radios, runways, planes, all non-functioning, made of local materials, and holding rituals. The description for Mike Daisey’s work states: “Their religion is explored alongside our own to form a sharp and searing examination of the international financial crisis. Daisey wrestles with the largest questions of what the collapse means, and what it says about our deepest values. Part adventure story and part memoir, he uses each culture to illuminate the other to find, between the seemingly primitive and the achingly modern, a human answer.”

Magical thinking is alive and well in our society today. Mike Daisey’s monologue should prove interesting.

Pet Peeves: Stop!

Lately, I find myself getting peeved at intersections, whether on foot, or in the car. Maybe I’ve just never noticed it before moving to Seattle, but my experience here, consistently, is that few drivers or bicyclists recognize or heed the red light or stop sign. I’ve caught myself at least twice in the past week, pointing to the stop sign when I’ve clearly had the right of way, and when I was in the middle of either walking or driving across the street. Both times were at stop signs, and I saw people literally roll through, and in some cases, I see people not even feign stopping. It’s like the signs don’t even exist.

I find myself a little tense when driving near intersections, especially if there’s a light turning yellow in front of me. Twice yesterday, as I saw it turn yellow, well within stopping distance, I slowed to a stop while the person in front of me drove through, not even accelerated, a fully red light. These were two different occasions. I get tense specifically because I’m scared one of these days when I’m dutifully stopping at a traffic light or sign I’m going to be rear-ended, because clearly, I’m not part of the norm.

I think to myself – do they not have driver’s ed here? Are the rules different in Washington? I was taught that you stop at the stop line, and if there is no stop line (which there aren’t in Seattle, I’ve noticed) you stop at the place where the stop sign is, then roll forward to make your turn or wait to get through traffic. Those who do stop never stop at the stop sign, but always near or past the curb, slightly into the intersection.

As a pedestrian, this is what bothers me the most – there is no buffer at many of the side streets for crossing safely. Those who disregard the stop sign have me training myself to not only look both ways before crossing, but to not trust that the stop sign means they will actually stop. I actually had a woman in an SUV look me square in the face with what I hope to be self-conscious horror as she blew through a stop sign and stopped short of hitting me by about 5 ft.

People in Seattle can’t be totally dim as to the rules, with a point in their favor being at 4 way stops, where I will see people minding the rules of dealing with 4 way stops.

Then there’s traffic circles – but perhaps that’s another rant for another day. If only our traffic circles had the handy diagram signs that Chicago’s traffic circles in Rogers Park has.