27 July 2011

Burning Man 2011 is SOLD OUT!

For the first time in the 25 year history of Burning Man, Burning Man has sold out. Yep, 50,000 tickets have been sold. It's going to be crazy. The biggest Black Rock City has ever been...

But what does this mean? 

I think it means the event is bigger. I don't think it means it will suck...there will be even more going on. (Hey people, get a bike, you need one!)

As my friend (and pacer of Javelina 100 Miler) said, "WTF? Burning Man sold out? How can an anarchist festival sell out?" I, too, didn't immediately believe it.

But more people are realizing what a beautiful, amazing, life-changing, life-affirming place the playa is. And they want go to too. 

(Almost) Barefoot Bliss

I'm a big fan of my Vibrams.

I wasn't sure at first what it would feel like, but it feels like...nothing. Like freedom. I went from a heel striker to a forefoot striker. My feet feel like they float through the air.

But I'm not a 100% Vibram gal.

My Vibram journey began two years ago when out in Palo Alto, I made a pilgrimage to the amazing Zombie Runner store. I bought a bunch of gels, some dorky running books, and decided to try on a pair of Vibrams. This was when they weren't pretty and pink, but I still was intrigued. Intrigued enough that I forked over my credit card.

I started out slow. A few random runs here and there...but you have to start on small mileage. And I don't usually run for just a mile. So it was hard.

And then it got cold. I can't wear Vibrams in temperatures under 40 - you feel it. Especially after getting frostbite this year, I know I have to be very mindful of the temperatures. You feel the cold a lot more. (And the heat, as I learned when running in mid-90s temps on blacktop.)

But then spring came again...and I built up. Small runs, and then I tried a 4 miler. Ow, a little too much. I decided to, at the end of my runs, go home, pull on the vibrams, and do the last mile or two in them. And that really helped. I built up slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly. I'd do my second, shorter run of the day in them. I maintained using them over the winter by using them on the elliptical at the gym, doing short runs in Florida in them.

I'm up to 11 miles at the most in them. I start to feel the ground more, especially at the end, notice my form. 

But I don't do all my runs in them.

Why? Trails - I stub my toe enough, feel every rock/root enough, so I don't want to wear Vibrams for this.I also have a noticeable issue with foot swelling in ultras - I want to feel comfortable wearing sneakers.

Right now, depending upon my week, I do 10-30% of my mileage in my Vibrams. That feels good. It feels right. It's been a slow build to this point, and that's what I'd encourage anyone out there wanting to try barefoot running.

You'll feel the ground much more. Start out on fields, if you have access to them. My favourite place to run is on an astroturf field (that I do mid-run, but oh, how lovely it feels! Like running on a cloud...).

I was doing 70 minutes the other day when I saw a guy running completely barefoot down Kent Avenue (a fairly dirty street). My Vibrams felt like combat boots compared to him.

23 July 2011

It's 99...I'm either at the beach or on the trails...

When it's 99 degrees, I could only be in one of two places: the beach or the trails. Most people are shut away in their AC and either way, I'm embracing the heat.

Yesterday was the beach, today was a long trail day with Mary and Erin. We headed to Wawaywanda in NJ, where we ran the Appalachian Trail. We were pouring sweat, tripping on rocks, feeling like crap, getting Italian Ices from a biker convention/party/rally/whatever, sharing secrets, dripping sweat, stinking, eating food not fit for human consumption, dreaming of cold water, dripping sweat, running on those planks that are oh-so-wobbly...

And really, it was much better than sitting inside of an air conditioned apartment...

19 July 2011

I Knew That It Was Now Or Never (Or, A Memory Smacked Into Me After Hearing a Song Playing at My Health Food Store)

I'm not sure how I got there.

It was a long process. After an early morning run through the familiar and dog-filled streets of San Ignacio, I took a three hour bus ride to the capital, where I grabbed a ferry over to Caye Caulker. I found a room on the beach, signed up for an amazing snorkeling trip, ate on the water, drank pina coladas on The Split. The bartender thought I was cute so he gave me extras for free. I closed my eyes. I jumped off the pier, got my hair wet, and dried out on my pink sarong I used as a beach blanket.

I let it all come in, and it was all beautiful.

Night. I ate with two Italian guys. We spoke entirely in Spanish. One of them leaned over and brushed a hair out of my eyes. I ate my pesto and discussed mi trabajo, mi gata, el libro escribe.

Walking down the sand/dirt road, I left my Italian friends, met some strangers. We ate ice cream, sharing licks from each others' cones. It felt like impossible was nothing.

I met the English Army, en route to the reggae bar. I was glad I met them; the guy that invited me earlier that day was less than appealing, even as a friend, mostly because I knew he was interested in things other than friendship. Still, the reggae bar was the place to be, until it closed.

The English Army - not all of them, but many of them - drank monkey lalas with me. We licked the chocolate, the coconut, the rum, the bananas off our own lips, leaning our heads back to see the stars above the rooftop bars. I sat in a swing while they sat across from me asking questions. They liked me, as any heterosexual Army would like women, but I was aloof. Still, they played at speed dating, during which I laughed, drank monkey lalas and kept my distance. I saw a drug deal. The warmth soothed my skin; back home there was a blizzard. I never wanted to go home.

The bar closed, after dancing to reggae music. Everyone moved to the other bar, the one that had karaoke. I hate karaoke. The English Army passionately shouted songs I never heard before.

Then they insisted I sing. They put on a song, the song we used to sing at the all-boys' dances we used to go to, looking for a boyfriend, or just wanting to try out our lipstick. I followed the words on the screen, but I didn't need to look for most of them.

These are the best days of my life...

We finished singing. Drinks were bought. I danced with other backpackers. We laughed, swinging each other around. Rum. Rum. It's Belize, after all. Rum. 

The English Army tried some things, but I wasn't interested. Not in them. I leaned my head back, opened my arms up, danced. There was coconut rum.

A drunk English Army guy kept trying to dance with me. He was nice. But he liked me. "Can I walk you home?" he kept asking. "Why?" I wanted to know. He insisted it wasn't safe. I scoffed. "I've backpacked across Central America and you want to say that my second-to-last stop in the safest country is unsafe?" He said it wasn't, and then said, "I like you."

He smoked too many cigarettes. He smelled like it and I coughed a lot. He was bad for my asthma. I tried to hide from him on the dance floor. Tired, rum, I said goodbye to those I met and tried to slip away. He followed me. We walked, he kept telling me I walked too fast. He grabbed my wrist. I realized it was unsafe.

I ran away. I ran so fast, faster than I've ever run in a race. He was too drunk to follow, but I ran anyway, not even daring to slow down to glance over my shoulder. I ran until I locked myself in my room, and then didn't dare turn on the light right away in case he could tell.

I sat on my balcony, watching the waves crash. I felt very content to just be with myself, hearing the ocean, feeling full of life. And just knowing that the real ones to watch out for could be the very ones to proclaim to want to help you.

And alone, I was truly safe, truly free, truly happy.


I've been thinking a lot (and talking w various friends) about what it means to "settle." And love. And settling down. It seems to be a theme, and people in my life seem to be obsessing over whether they should settle, or settle down.

I've settled down right now, but it's all about love and I definitely haven't settled. 

But there's this whole NYC single woman thing where you have to find the perfect guy - and when you start to get to a certain age, you panic, and thus, find yourself "settling." A lot of it, I suppose, is the panic of wanting children. But what do we want? Can we have the perfect partner - the person that compliments us, that works well with us - but also makes our knees weak when we kiss them? I think it's possible - but maybe not for everyone at every moment in time.

I understand there's reasons for settling - children, work, people who work well as partners but not romantically, not sure what else...but I still don't ever want to have to do it. There was a point in my life where I was in a relationship where I just wasn't happy - I wasn't over the top miserable, but it wasn't fulfilling me like I knew I could be fulfilled. I moved on. It was immensely hard, as staying would have been so easy, and so comfortable.

But I wanted more. I wanted happiness.

Iliana and I were talking about how we'd never want to just settle. Again, a NYC woman thing I think. We've done it before, and we definitely don't want to date any more assholes. But then this morning, Nelson and I were talking about women and men and dating, and he told me this long joke that was basically insinuating women were constantly looking for perfection, and nothing was good enough, and men will be satisfied and not look further. And while some of this is def based on gender stereotypes, I think part of it is our society imparting this idea to women that you have to be perfect: you have to be pretty, thin, rich, have a good guy, have a great job, a well-behaved kid, well-behaved adorable pet, nice clothes, be interesting, have good hobbies. I feel like I'm a hot mess half the time, with library books and letters from V falling out of my sequined bag onto the laps of strangers on subways, with a job I like (at an, ahem, nonprofit), talking too loudly, doing weird things like going to Burning Man and running 100 miles and calling it fun. So I fall outside of the norm, I guess. I don't settle for an ordinary 9to5 then watch some TV kind of life, so I wouldn't want to settle for any kind of relationship that's less than amazing.

But I've found it all right now, and I'm def not settling.

17 July 2011

Because Life Is A Street Party

One person weird on the street is crazy.

Two people is a scene.

Three people is a cause.

This Rachelle repeated more than once yesterday, and she's kind of right.

I'm not going to explain it, because you probably won't understand it.

But there was hooping.

And fire.

And colours, lots and lots of colours.

And hugs and cookies and dancing on the subway and singing and music.

Oh, the music. Yes, the boom trike.

We started in Bryant Park with all these beautiful things, and traveled to Queens, and traveled to DUMBO, with a whole mass of strangers in rainbows, and friends, and grew to all be friends, grew to form a community --

and it was beautiful.

And there were hugs.

And it was a glorious day.

Even if it doesn't make sense, unless of course, you were there.

Run Long, Run Strong, Run Happy

A shorter run on Saturday (2hrs40min), followed by an all-day Sunday run with Iliana at Stirling Forest and Bear Mountain State Park (one of my favourite places to run - it will kick your ass, but it's SO pretty!). Whatever I pulled in my butt when trying to outrace gnats last weekend is still hurting...so I had to take it easy on the uphills, and Iliana's chafing led to great grief and pain for her.

creepiness in bear mtn park

But you know what? With the sweat dripping down our faces, stink of our long-run bodies, gu filling our tummies, we had a blast. We met a guy doing the entire AT, another hiker who I gave gels and bars to, we were on such beautiful trails, catching up with our friendship, living, laughing, life.

16 July 2011

A Most Uncommon Running Injury

When people get injured, they'll come to me, knowing I have a history of running, and thus a history of injuries (though in recent years, through the combination of regular strength training, cross-training, vibram usage on some days, trail running, and ultrarunning, I get a lot less injuries!). ITBS. Bursitis. Shin splints. Random bone pain, bone spurs, other weirdness.

However, last August, I had a rather unusual injury while running. On a run home from work on the Williamsburg Bridge, my mind was racing. I had to pick up a bike box, then grab some broccoli at my health food store, then go home, make & eat dinner, sew, pack, converse with friends on packing lists for Burning Man...

And then I smashed my hand into the railing of the bridge, like I've done dozens of times before, but hard. So hard tears popped into my eyes. I clutched my hand, trying to ignore the pain. The pain that would soon pass. The pain that had to pass.

It didn't. Home that night, after carrying the bike box, the groceries, while sewing, while packing, I called my dad.

"Take it easy. Don't do anything, let it rest."

Easy for him to say. I had to finish sewing this tutu, had to turn the wrench on my bike bolts...

At Burning Man, I was useless. Hammer rebar? Hardly. Rachelle had to do the hardest parts of setting up my tent, do most of the shower set-up herself. I went to the medic facilities on 9:00 and C, and they gave me ibuprofin. Unfortunately, from taking way too much ibuprofin during high school track, it doesn't do anything for me/to me. I was in a lot of pain.

It started to heal. Slowly. Very slowly. After Burning Man, I skipped the machines at the gym requiring usage of my hand. And I decided after a few more days, I'd be good to go back.

Until a complete idiot riding his bicycle on the sidewalk rode his bike straight into me. I guess he thought riding into me was a good substitute for applying his brakes. I put my hand out so he would not smash into all of me, and he did get me pretty bad - I had bruises and cuts on my arms and my legs, and my hand, oh my hand, it hurt so freaking bad.

My Gram later asked, "What did he say to you?" I didn't know; I cursing too loud to hear any of the words he said to me.

Months later, I finally decided to go to the doctor. A cortisone-like shot caused me to scream curses in the doctor's office, and I'm good.

Alleve occasionally, but I'm still doing good. Until my second run on Thursday - I smashed my hand into something else on the Pulaski Bridge. I stopped, cradling my hand, tears in my eyes. A guy walking on the bridge inquired as to my state of being, and it's slightly swollen, hurts a little, but luckily, I smashed it in a different area.

Running seems to be a way for me to hurt not only my legs, but my hands as well.

No Vermont 100 Miler For Me This Year

I love the Vermont 100 Miler. I think it's probably my favourite race, now that I think back on it. I will definitely do it next year, unless I actually get into Western States. But still, it holds a dear spot in my heart and I might do it anyway.

I'm thinking of all my friends that are running it. I'm missing Margaritaville, Mile 63. I'm missing running into Spirit of 77 (Mile 77 or so) and seeing all the candles lit up in paper bags, all the Christmas lights. I even miss the heat, the humidity, the sunburn, the electrolyte deficiency. I miss the beauty of the course, Vermont, the hills. The people. Oh, I miss it.

I didn't sign up because I thought it was too close to Rio del Lago 100 Miler in Sept, which I'm really hoping to break 22 at - or really, even 21! I need to train harder. Focus more.

But what am I doing instead of running 100 miles? Yesterday I worked, and then took the ferry with my mom to DUMBO where we got Grimaldi's, went to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, walked around. We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, went to Mood Fabrics and Spandex Haus where I spent more than I really should. Then we got tea in Long Island City and then had blood orange Margaritas at The Habitat (my favourite bar), and then hung out while I sewed. Then she left and Wayne came over and we sewed and made dinner and he made me watch Mad Max, which is a lot like Burning Man. And this morning, Nelson, Wayne and I ran Roosevelt Island, one of my favourite running routes, then met up with NBR and did the bridge run, had coffee with the gang. I ran to the Farmers' Market, got a lot of amazing produce, came home, brekkie, baking oatmeal raisin cookies, and am in the midst of a lot of awesome sewing. I'm so happy today. I'm off to a street parade of colours, and then the after party. And tomorrow is a long run with Iliana in Harriman. It's a good weekend, indeed, despite not running 100 miles.

13 July 2011

Long Runs...

Time to up the mileage for Rio del Lago....that's going to be a rather interesting race as I'm running the Burning Man Ultramarathon (50k) just ten days before, and I'm spending a week and a half on the playa at Burning Man, running around, wearing crazy costumes, inhaling dust, drinking lots of mojitos at DeMentha, biking insurmountable distances in sand, dancing, having fun...so yeah, should be an interesting race.

Saturday I headed out to Long Island's Greenbelt Trail. If you take the LIRR to Massapequa, get out and run east along the train lines behind the train tracks (further away from Sunrise Highway), you'll see an entrance. After running on the bike path for a bit, you take a very unmarked left in between some water and hit the Greenbelt Trail, marked with white blazes. When I tried to find the dirt trail (pavement sucks!), this snotty runner was like, "I guess I can give you directions. I've been running an hour and fifty minutes, I'm almost done." I wanted to be like, "That's cute, I'm running 35 miles today." But I didn't.

The trail is very up and down, and I'd tell you not to run it right now - there is one section where there were just swarms of gnats following me. It pushed me to run faster than normal b/c I had all those disgusting gnats flying in between my sunglasses, down my throat - they had perseverance, I'll give them that. However, I tripped trying to escape a swarm and pulled a muscle in my butt.

The next day I headed to Rockefeller State Park, only running three hours with a slight pain in my butt on the uphills. The pace was easy and I was feeling sleepy.

I'm hoping to do some quality runs over the next few days - tomorrow I'm aiming for a good 22+ miles, Friday I'm going to take off or do 15, depending on how I feel, Saturday run a few hours in the city with Iliana, Sunday four hours on the trails with Iliana. So I'm building my mileage back up.

Due to my rather less than ideal taper time with the 50k and Burning Man, I'm planning on a more hardcore taper so I need to up the mileage while I can. Next Saturday, I'm hoping for long, long, long, as long as I can possibly go...join me if you dare/care.

This is Not What I Want to Hear

Horrible night, slept poorly. Nelson, my running partner and I both agreed to not run this a.m., we needed more sleep, I'd run tonight, so no adrenalin flooding through my body. And I slept in. And my house was trashed and I threw on a sundress, my shades, and clipped my hair up.

And after crossing the street, juggling with what music to listen to while balancing my bags, a van backing into the driveway whistled at me. I stopped. The driver got out. 

"Why did you do that? Did you think I'd appreciate that? That doesn't make me feel good."

The guy stammered, "I...uh...I'm sorry."

"That's really not acceptable. I don't appreciate being whistled at or treated like that."

"I'm sorry..."

I'm sick of this. They don't get it. What would make a man think that a whistle, a hey baby, a leer out the window would make them feel good? If anything, it makes me feel like I need to take a shower to wipe any imprint their slimy eyes left on my body. Do you know how it feels to go back home after leaving your house to put on a longer skirt? Do you know what it feels like to feel happy that you look good - only to feel like no, you're just a sex object for men to leer at and fuck.

Not what I want to wake up to. And definitely not what I want to hear.

09 July 2011

That's Just the Way It Is Sometimes

Tired, but feeling better after good conversations, carrying bags and heading home to the cat, I stuck the key in the lock when we were approached by a guy riding a small, nice fixed gear bike. He was trying to sell us this bike at 1:30 in the morning - for $20. A bike that could be worth $500.

"It's a nice bike, isn't it? Only $20," the guy said as I jammed my key into the mailbox key with the front door halfway open, Wayne looking at the bike.

"Yeah, but I don't know where it came from," Wayne told him.

"Oh, I had it for a week."

Bullshit. You're trying to sell a bike that's easily worth hundreds for $20 after one in the morning - something is up.

After we got upstairs, I felt this sickening pool of disgust in the pit of my stomach. I felt bad for the person whose bike was stolen (as it oh-so-obviously was), and what it was stolen for (probably drugs - $20 for such a bike is crazy and they must be desperate for money and to get rid of the stolen goods), when Wayne said to me, "I should have bought that bike."

I thought he was crazy for a moment. It was stolen. Bad karma. But then he continued.

"I should have bought that bike and listed it on Craigslist and returned it to its owner."

And if only all bike stealing stories had such beautiful endings.

07 July 2011


Pex was amazing. Amazing.

Pex is a Burning Man type summer festival in Maryland. It's filled with Philly and NYC Burners, and is a much cleaner version of Burning Man - with a bonus pool!

aerial performance over the pool

Life has been chaotic for me lately, absolutely insane. I'm going a little insane and I've been trying to calm down. Pex was just what I needed.

I spent my days in the pool. We shared drinks - mine was Jameson and a pink lemonade/fruit punch combo. We floated on a variety of floats, often forming a massive "floatilla." Every so often, Stefan would throw his parachute into the pool, and we'd float on top of it...or hide underneath for a very different crazy experience. People would push you along on your float. In the pool, people wore bathing suits, costumes, hats, sequins, water wings, or nothing at all. It was a wonderful combination of Burners and pool. It was heavenly.

the parachute!
hooping class

There were workshops - not as many at Burning Man, but there were quite a bit of hula hooping workshops. In between dips in the pool, I'd go to hula hoop workshops until I sweat too much. Or I'd hit up the dancefloor next to the pool. My favourite moments - dancing in the pool to DJ Clarkie. Or when I went out of control for Small Change's old school jungle set. 

It was amazing to just chill, have nothing to do...but relax.

I love Burning Man - don't get me wrong - but it's not always relaxing. The environment is very harsh; the conditions wear on you; and there's always TONS to do. You could go and not sleep one bit and you still wouldn't do everything. Here, you didn't want to sleep (and I didn't sleep much), but there wasn't heaps to do. Check out this blacklight balloon party. Look at this piece of art. Hear this DJ. Just have a wander.
Hoop Performance

Good friends

shot ski at fireside lounge

It ended up being one of my favourite parties in a while. I danced without abandoned, I hooped until my scar tissue hurt, I napped in the back of the dancefloor, I shared drinks with strangers, I pulled out my favourite costumes, I tanned deeply despite lots of sunblock, I shut my phone off, I hugged old friends, I made new ones, I poured my soul out to strangers, I asked for advice from random hippies, I laughed, I cried, I reached my arms up to the sky...and it came down to hold me.

Bananalicious Costumes
Okay, so I sound like a mega hippie but it was a beautiful, amazing awesome weekend. Only gripe: the meal plan sucked and was overpriced. But the community was great. I'm so glad my friend Rebeka told me about it, so glad I went, so glad I jumped in feet first because, honestly, sometimes that's the only way to do things.

06 July 2011


If you believe, you can.

Just mere days into the 3100 mile race that takes place around one city block in a pleasant part of Jamaica, Queens, I headed out with Mark D to take in the sights. And to gape. And to be impressed.

Runners must commit to 60 miles per day to make the cut-off. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress on one's body, the mental dedication required. By watching the race, and running along the course with Mark D, I was so inspired. I don't think I could do such a race - I'm much more of a trail nerd (Sorry, Mark!), but the beautiful energy and the focus was impressive.

Even a Huffington Post article was impressed.

I recommend heading out to Jamaica and watching the race, if at all possible.

04 July 2011


Surrounded by magenta shiny fairy wings, pink cowgirl boots, hula hoop pieces, Odwalla bars, sunscreen, an almost empty bottle of Jameson, and a pile of PEX stickers shoved onto me at my departure - I am forced to decompress.

Fourth of July. Fireworks should be littering the city skies soon, but on the West Side, so not sure how much I'll see. The two hours sleep I snatched last night underneath booming house music post-dawn are somehow sustaining me, though I feel slightly zombie.

But I also feel zombie. I spent the weekend at PEX Summer Festival - a kind of mini-Burning Man in MD. spending all day in the swimming pool or at workshops. It was like a summer camp for Burners. Cafeteria food, I could wear nothing and be accepted - or a gorilla suit. I spent a lot of time hooping (and thus, bothered scar tissue from my surgery of last year, ow). I danced. I did it all.

But this is abt decompressing. This is about walking through McCarren Park in a Burner-designed dress, pink cowgirl boots, pink suitcase and hula hoops and getting the stares. This is about missing my fantasy world where everything was love, where people listened to your problems and held you as you cried - even if you didn't know their real name. This is about how I wish I could just walk around in sparkly booty shorts every day and people would respect me regardless. This is about wishing I could live in a play world full of glitter and el-wire and creativity and community and helpfulness. This is me wishing I could permanently live in Black Rock City.