Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pancho and Sancho

"Dude, that board is sick!"

Well it used to be, that is before my Surfer Boy husband decided to take it out into the ocean on a death defying big wave day.  He came home from the beach, two pieces of neatly cut foam and fiberglass, one in each hand with a bereft look on his face.

"Are you okay?"  I said while anxiously checking his body for signs of injury or limping.

"Yeah, I'm okay but my board is not."

Leave it to a surfer to be more concerned about the condition of his surfboard.  Enter the Ding Doctor at DingDrX Surfboard Repair in San Clemente California.

Off we went, to San Clemente, home of Randall, one of the original Ding Doctors.

I set my purse down in his work area when suddenly I saw two raccoons dressed in white coats going through the contents.  Out came my lipstick as they unscrewed the top with their deft little hands, trying to figure out how it worked, out came my wallet containing my life savings, out came a pack of chewing gum which they were just unwrapping when I finally stopped them.

Pancho and Sancho

"What the?  Randall, where did these cute little guys come from?"

It turns out that one of Randall's friends had a neighbor who had four baby raccoons born in his attic.  The mother ended up on the wrong end of someones gun.  The babies were left without a mommy.

"It was a natural decision to take them in." said Randall.  The raccoons were infants at the time.

How do you care for baby raccoons?  That's what The Ding Dr. wanted to know.  Local veterinarians weren't much help so it was off to the Internet trying to find the little information there was.

Thus started the long nights, up every couple of hours bottle feeding the little babes.  Hot water bottles had to be kept constantly warm to mimic the mothers body heat.  The nights were sleepless and the days were zombie-like for Randall.  Two of the babies didn't make it, but two did.  Randall proudly named them Pancho and Sancho, poured them a big bowl of Friskies cat food to celebrate, and put them to work in the ding repair shop, entertaining locals and customers alike.

Daddy/Mommy Randall with Pancho and Sancho
Randall, the owner and operator of the original DingDrX surfboard ding repair shop in San Clemente will fix your board so that you can't even tell where it was broken.  I took one of my boards on a surf trip to Costa Rica a year ago when the baggage claim folks decided it would be a good idea to run over the nose of my board with their truck.  Randall fixed it good as new.  He's also a talented artist and will paint whatever design you would like on your surfboard or stand up paddle board.

As for my Surfer Boy husband: "I've been surfing all my life and I've never found anyone who can fix my broken or delaminated boards the way Randall does." If that weren't the case, I'm here to tell you that this would not be a happy household.  And a hush comes over the land.

Kerry, Happily Back to Charging Big Waves

Next time you snap your board in half while shredding Pipeline or the Trestles, or the airline folks decide to play Frisbee with your short board, pay a visit to the Ding Doctor.  Who knows?  You may even get to play with Pancho and Sancho.

Call The Ding Doctor in San Clemente, CA for an appointment today:  (949) 294-4741

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Race Report from 1998 - PCT 50 - A Cautionary Tale

The Start of the PCT 50

It's never too late for a good old fashioned race report.  Why do today what you can put off for fourteen years?

Back at the tender age of thirty eight - you do the math - I decided that it would be a wonderful idea to run my first fifty mile trail race.  I had a few road marathons under my belt.  I'd spent some time alone to the tune of five or six hours at a stretch traversing Saddleback Mountain.  I had my Power Bars, a hydration fanny pack, determination, grit and many friends in the Ultrarunning community.

I started asking all these wonderful people - both of them - what would be a good first fifty?  Marty piped up immediately with the name of a race in San Diego.

I'm not going to tell you that the race is called the PCT 50.  I'm not going to tell you that it has a fun reputation of being jinxed.  I'm not going to tell you that I've run that race amidst an active forest fire, that it got cancelled half way through one year for an impassable snow storm when Ben Hian was in first place at the turnaround.  No, I won't tell you any of those things.  Instead, I'll tell you about my experience that fine day in November of 1998.

My best, and only training partner at the time was my buddy, Bartender Bob.   One night, Bob was at the Hare Krishna Temple in Laguna Beach having dinner.  The Temple had a tasty vegetarian feast that was only six bucks - all you can eat.  Plus, the Krishna devotees are really nice folks, they don't try to convert you.  Bob was minding his own business when a likeable young man, who also happens to be a top ten finisher at Western States 100 - the grandaddy of all Ultramarathons - saw Bob's race t-shirt.  It bore the name of some triathlon that Bob had completed.  This nice young man saw the t-shirt, raised his eyebrows and announced "I've got something you might be interested in"  Bob mentally steeled himself for this poor guys' sales presentation for Amway.  But no!  It turned out to be even more of a scam.  Ultrarunning.

Bartender Bob was introduced to the world of long distance running.  He then introduced me to the joy of sweat, hard work, dehydration, laughter and pushing your body to extremes.  And the endorphin high.  That's what gets you hooked.  I decided right then and there, that if there was a way I could get a morphine-like substance into my body without having to meet those dudes in the back alley - I was gonna do it!

The PCT 50 - which stands for Pacific Crest Trail 50 was to be my first 50.  I tried to talk Bob into doing it with me, but it was not to be.  He was suffering from some injury or another at the time.  He did, however,  accompany me to the weekend we had planned in the fine town of Pine Valley.  The motel was a cheap little affair but it featured a nice swimming pool.  There are not many restaurants to pick from.  Directly across the parking lot from our motel was a place called Steph's Donut Hole.  What more does a carbo loading ultrarunner need?

The race start was 6am at the local High School.  It's an out and back course which features a downhill finish.  How wonderful, thought I.  My trail running claim to fame is hill running.  Downhill.  The morning was chilly and I was nervous.  The field of eighty runners huddled together as the race director shouted "Go"!  Talk about fanfare.

My run was going along swimmingly.  Vast amounts of time in Ultra Marathons are spent blissfully alone, unless you have a running partner with you.  I didn't.  I did have a disposable camera with me to capture the scenery.  Forget about church on Sunday.  This is my sanctuary:

At the turnaround, I shed my warm running tights and long sleeved shirt in favor of some cute little peach colored silky running shorts and a tank top.  Halfway there!  On the way back, inexperienced I, started following some pretty pink trail ribbons.  Now let me explain that trail races are marked by colorful ribbons at what is usually very large intervals.  It's always helpful, during the race briefing, to pay attention to the Race Director when they tell you what color the ribbon markings will be.  Did I pay attention?  I think you know the answer to that one.

I had a really good pace going when suddenly I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore.  The pink trail ribbons led me into a remote area that succeeded in resulting in lots of scratches on my sexy bare legs.  I ended up standing on top of a boulder, looking like a sailor on a ship, hand held up to cover the sun from my eyes, surveying where in the heck I was.  Pranksters had put up phony trail markings.  Buyer beware.  It happens more often than you think.

Up until this point, I had been concerned with the normal concerns of a healthy Ultra Runner; what I was eating, how much my electrolyte intake was, how warm or cool my body was staying.  Now I was only concerned with one thing.  Will I ever see my children again?

Now about this time, the next aid station that I was to have run through, was closing down.  The aid station captain glanced worriedly at his clipboard wondering what happened to number 153 - Jennifer Evans.  It was also about this time that Bartender Bob, who was waiting for me at the finish line got the message that number 153 was missing.

Jennifer Evans was worried about other things besides the aid station and whether or not I'd see my children again.  I was judiciously looking at the sun to see how much time I had left before it set.  Being a back-of-the-packer, I was prepared for nightfall with a flashlight, but it was waiting for me in a drop back at the now closed aid station.

As the sun slowly made its way to the horizon, this lost runner slowly made her way to the Miracle of all Miracles: The Sunrise Highway and what meant a chance of civilization!

After crossing the Sunrise Highway, I made my way to the next fortuitous chance of salvation.  The Sunrise Highway General Store and the gentleman who was to be my, ahem - Savior:

Disclaimer: I have no idea who the person in this photo is.  This story is not a work of fiction but any reference made to persons real is purely accidental.

The photo above may not be the real Sunrise Highway General Store, but it's close enough.  It was the kind of a place where you could get yourself a Big Gulp, a pack of Winstons and a Girlie Magazine, if that's what you're partial to.  As you can see, they also accept not only every major credit card, but some I've never heard of.  The total number of credit cards I carried that day equaled exactly zero.

I walked in with my bloodied up legs asking if anyone knew where the High School was as I needed a ride.  A hardy young gentleman wearing a plaid shirt and a torn pair of jeans proclaimed "I know where that is.  When I was in high school, I played football and we used to kick their ass"!

Well allrighty then.  I figured he was as good a man as any to give me a ride back to the Start/Finish.

Folks, if you take no other advice in your life from this tattered Ultra Runner, please heed this word of warning: If you can't tell if a car is a Pinto or a Gremlin....... do not get in it!

The real Pinto/Gremlin was more of a puke colored green.  My host and driver - I never quite got his name, but I'll call him Jethro - proudly escorted me to his sun faded car.

"I was in a fifty mile race and got lost" Said I.

Jethro eyed the race number pinned to the front of my running shorts and said "Where's your bike"?

"No, no, you don't understand.  This is a running race"

When I sat in the passenger seat, my gaze fell on the floorboard of the Pinto/Gremlin.  Or what I could see of it underneath all the trash.  Let's see, discarded Slim Jim wrapper, a few cigarette butts, fast food wrappers - a regular back country buffet!

We sped along the Sunrise Highway with the sky slowly turning multicolored, Jethro telling me that he planned on spending the night out in the desert and doin' him a little quail hunting.

Okay - so that means there's a firearm of some sort in this jalopy.  Lovely.

Suddenly Jethro made a sharp left hand turn onto a back country road and announced "I know a shortcut"!

Up until this point in my life, I'd never been that big on prayer - Catholic school cured me of that one - but I figured now would be as good a time as any to get my affairs in order.

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It's been thirty eight years since my last confession, and these are my sins".

My prayer was abruptly cut short by the screeching of worn tires as Jethro slammed the car to a stop in the middle of BFE.

"What the"?  At this point I was wondering -  First: how bad do I smell after running all day long?  The worst I've ever smelled in my life.  One point for my team.  Second:  How fast could I run?  Faster than Jethro, for sure.

There were two reasons for Jethro's abrupt stop.  One reason was to hop out of the car and pop himself a cool one from his twelve pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon which was in the back storage area of the Pinto/Gremlin.  Said vehicle did not have a trunk, which is good because that way, no dead bodies can be found in the trunk.  The other reason was for what is politely referred to as a pit stop.

Now I may be blond, but I'm not....okay, yes I must have been dumb that day.  I decided to stay in the car and see this thing out.  Heck, I might be able to blog about it one day.  How cool would that be?

"You know, this race is closely followed by the latest in walkie talkies.  I didn't make it to the last check point.  It's just a matter of time before a search party is sent out to look for me" I said, in my best Joe Friday voice.  Jethro seemed unimpressed as he drove on.

Finally, after what was only ten minutes, but seemed like ten hours, we spotted the last aid station.  "There they are"!  I yelled.

Jethro pulled over as I clamored out of the Pinto/Gremlin as fast as I could.  The aid station volunteers were all over me with alcohol swabs and band-aids to fix up my badly scratched legs.  But I wouldn't let them help.  No.  I wanted my war wounds to go with the story.  I had earned them.

I'm happy to report that I went on to cross the finish line at numerous fifty mile races.

I will end with a note of caution to my daughters who are now aged twenty four and twenty five.  If you ever do any of the things that your Mother did and live to tell about it - you are grounded!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jen's Awesome New Westsuit Review

California has some of the best surf in the world.  It's consistent, glassy, a great place to meet totally cute guys like my Surfer Boy husband, oh and one more thing about California surf - it's freaking freezing!

I seem to have what's referred to as cold hands (and feet), warm heart.  I grew up in Miami and I was cold there.

I am very happy to report that this surfer girl can give you a five star rating on my new Patagonia Wetsuit.  I'm the envy of all the surfers down at our local surf spot and am telling everyone who will listen just how great this wetsuit really is.

I love to surf.  Being that it's March, the water temperature has been hovering around 56 degrees.  My surf sessions have been accompanied by much complaining - again to anyone who will listen - and a hasty exit out of the ocean after about an hour with my tail tucked between my legs.

No more!  You guys have just got to check this new wetsuit out.  My surf sessions are now easily two hours and I could extend it to three hours, no prob, dude.  I'm totally stoked, man.  I think I'll check in on Face Book, take pictures for the blog and maybe even become a Patagonia spokesperson.

As my good friend Charlie says, I look like a model for  The Price Is Right

The wetsuit is made from recycled (Patagonia likes to use the word recycled every chance they get) polyester, chloroprene rubber - I've never met a man who didn't love a woman in rubber - and the real magic: Merino Wool lined.

What is Merino Wool, you might ask?  Only the finest, comfiest, highest quality, known for its superb wicking abilities, wool.  At least it's not Virgin Wool, which as we all know, comes from ugly sheep.

Here's what a Merino Sheep, prized livestock that they are, look like:

Wouldn't you just love to have my coat for the lining of your wetsuit?

As you can tell, I couldn't be more thrilled with this new development in my surfing career.  I'm paddling out with a huge grin on my face, taking off on steep waves with utter confidence that my body's not going to freeze up, practicing my spinners and ballerina moves.  All the other surfers in the lineup are looking at me wondering - "What happened to you" ?  They all want some of the kool-aide I'm drinking.

So, if you live in a cold water environment, or if you have aspirations of taking a surf trip to Alaska, the Patagonia Wetsuit is for you.

Excuse me now, while I slither like a snake into my new wetsuit (no back zipper friends) grab my surf board, booties and my smile for a surf session out in the Pacific Ocean.

See you in the lineup!