Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nookachamps 10k

Ran my first race of the new year today. The Nookachamps 10k. I didn't feel too much like running, and I switched down from the half marathon. So, I ended up walking parts of the final three miles, finish in 1:12.

The weather was terrific. I did see swans. The crowd seemed a little thinner, perhaps because of the Women's marches going on in Bellingham and Seattle. There were some runners in pink, showing their support for the marches.

I didn't run enough in December and early January, and so I've fallen off. That's when you get back on the horse, or so they say.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Best of 2016

Every year I do this---here’s a list of the best of 2016:

1.     Lime Kiln Point

I took a week off work at the end of the summer, but we didn’t travel far.  Deb and I hit the ferry for a day trip to San Juan Island—the ferry landing is only a half hour from home. We spent a full afternoon just sitting on Lime Kiln point, waiting for Orca whales, which we never saw. The breeze was right, the temperature was right, everything was right.  Canada was across the way. Porpoises and other sea creatures came by. This was a magical afternoon, which took very little work. I was so content, just sitting with Deb, looking out across the water. I've been to many national parks and preserves--Lime Kiln Point is as special as any of them.

2.     Maui

I’m a big fan of David Bowie. When he passed away in early January, I was surprised, shocked. He was there in my teen years, as I offloaded produce at the Farm Market. He was there in my college years, as I was digging into his older stuff, while playing cards with my best friends. When he died, and I saw a good deal on Maui, I said to Deb, life is short, David Bowie died, we need to go. There's never a bad reason to go to Maui, but this was ours.

The trip was awesome. We shared a condo in Maalaea with Deb’s daughter and husband. You could see sea turtles in the surf, at the seawall, from the lanai. I hiked the Acid War Zone trail, a short point to point hike on the west side of Maui, by the Nakalele blowhole. Amazing--I’ve never seen anything quite this short trail of combed and pored rock. We went to Mama’s Fish House for dinner, which rightfully lands on many national restaurant lists. We went up to Haleakala National Park, which is over 10,000 feet above sea level. From there, views of the Big Island, red rock cinder domes and craters, and all the eccentricities of high altitude life in such a strange place.

Never had a bad day in Hawaii.

3.     Pelton Basin

Mike and I hiked on a rainy summer day over Cascade Pass in the North Cascades, and down into Pelton Basin. I’ve never been into the Basin, as I usually turn around or go up Sahale Arm. This is an ancient trade route. Pelton Basin turned out to be a special place, with wide open valley space, long views down valley, and tall mountainsides. The plan is to return and find some way down to Stehekin or perhaps over Park Pass.

Another hike with Mike, to a favorite lookout of mine. We failed to make it to the top a few years back. This year, we made it to the lookout, while there is still lots of snow on top. This is a hard one, and I’m an hour or more slower than I’ve been in the past, but steady does it. I was actually pretty pleased with my day. We saw a bear, which accommodated a selfie.

My 13th Baker Lake 50k in a row. While I was slow, I was an hour faster than last year’s fiasco, which gives me hope for improvement. I know each turn of the trail well. Always enjoy seeing Stan, John, Terry, and others here. My favorite ultra.

Nice to toe the line again at one of James and Rainshadow’s runs. It's been too long. Deception Pass is beautiful, and the 25k hits all the right trails, with cliffs, big trees, bridges, and some really good pizza at the finish line. I also like those races with start lines less than an half hour from home.

So nice to get back to Bridle Trails this year.  I did the first lap with Holley, and the second lap with Mike.  Hung out with Seth too, on the way in. So this was a friends and family thing. I was so slow that I needed to finish in the dark, but I really enjoyed my time here, and may go back next week. When the weather is bearable, I love this January event. No pictures--every picture tells a story, I guess, but not every story has a picture.

8.     Dawg Dash

Dan and I ran this 10k at the University of Washington, my fastest, albeit slow, in a few years. Nice purple shirt with a dawg on it. Dan and I have been friends since we were teenagers. Family now. Lately, he has made it out to a few races with me, like Cutthroat and Dawg Dash.

On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, I ran our local half-marathon. Skagit Runners does a terrific job with this event, year after year. The weather was nice on this day, and I found myself in a reflective state, having gotten up early and watched the ceremonies. This world....sometimes running seems to be the only thing that makes sense.

I love this Methow Valley event. My memories of running through burned areas are special. I struggled with the sun, and I was definitely a back of packer. But this is one fine half-marathon. Recommend, recommend.

These rankings aren’t particularly meaningful. I just like to have them. The Maui trip really stands out, as do a few moments in the year, such as sitting by the sea, and more than anything, certain family events. There weren’t many, if any, truly epic endeavors. On the other hand, I'm pleased to note that I stayed active.

Honorable mentions go to finally running the Once Around Lake Cavanaugh, as well as getting down the trail at the 50th Anniversary of the Chuckanut Footrace. Other events included the Nookachamps 10k, the Great Sedro-Woolley Foot Race, March Point10k, Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon, Fort Ebey Kettles Half Marathon, and the Little Mountain 10k, and the Fall Fowl Run 10k. Great to see friends at these events, running and volunteering.

So, it looks like in total I did 5 10ks, 4 half-marathons, a 50k, a 25k, and 4 races of other distances. 15 events all total. A sampler of non-events. Honestly, I should be in better shape than I am. Strong spirit, if not flesh, I guess.

I also had a terrific day volunteering with Deb, BJ, Erica, Mike, and Aly at the Little Bear Aid Station on the Cascade Crest 100 course. I'd like to get back to that type of shape one of these days. I volunteered at a few other events.

We had many other highlights to the year, though none bigger than a certain addition to the family. We saw Patti Smith perform Horses from start to finish at the Moore. Later, she would end up accepting the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan. We saw Springsteen at the Key, where he and the E Street Band played The River from end to end. Eddie Vedder even showed up! We were right on the rail, and Deb shook the Boss’s hand twice. Amazing four hour show. I grew a whole lot of tomatoes from seed--at least 10 different varieties. It was my nightly meditation after work. Some of us fellas went to Flight to Mars at the Showbox, with a Bowie tribute, and a whole lot of Duff and Mike. I went to an exciting Monday night Seahawks game with Dave, Sean, and his wife. We ended the year with a nice trip to Las Vegas, for a family event which made us proud.

Thank you to all my friends and family for the times shared, and here’s to more good times to come.

Friday, December 30, 2016


I had a nice day today, taking Friday off work before the New Year's weekend.  I went to Chuckanut and hiked and ran the Ridge-Lost Lake Loop. There was snow on top of Chuckanut, and snow and ice on the backside out by Lost Lake. I find myself on days like this.

Slow and pleasant. I spent over 4 hours wandering. Temps were between 30 and 40, with the snow melting constantly off trees, and snowmelt running across the trail. Lost Lake had some ice. My right ankle didn't roll, but there is instability there. The left hip has voiced opposition as well. Worth it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Deception Pass 25k

I had a fun day out at Rainshadow Running's Deception Pass 25k. I was a little nervous about the distance, because I haven't ran much the last two weeks, but I managed to keep a steady pace, while walking some of the uphills.

This is one of the best trail races in the U.S., I think. Provided the weather is good. I suppose it depends on what you want from your trail race. Here, the cliffs and views of the sea are ever present. The single track is a bit crowded sometimes. You might see a whale, an eagle, a porpoise, swans. I saw a woodpecker in the final half mile.

The finish line changed a bit this year, and is now down on the beach by the amphitheater. There were fires at the finish line, wood fired pizza, ale and soda, and it was all great.

My time was 4:08, which is slow, but I'm seeing modest improvements in my running.  I managed to avoid rolling my ankle, which was huge for me.

Its been snowing this week, and sometimes windy, but the weather turned out great for the event. 40 degrees or so, little wind.

Great to see James, Kevin, Terry and others. A good Sunday, all around, at least until I got home and saw the Seahawks score.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fowl Fun Run 10k

Another fall, another Fowl Fun Run 10k. Always a fine event! So fortunate to have this local run nearby. I love being able to reach the start line in five minutes, race, see folks, and then get on with my day. Every community should be so fortunate.

My goal was to run the 10k in under an hour.  I fell just a little short, unfortunately, with a 1:02. A few years ago, this would've been a simple goal to achieve, but somewhere along the line, the fitness dropped off. Now I have new focus, and I'm working on things. The good news is my time was faster than in the previous two years.

My run was more of a struggle than I expected. I've had a busy couple weeks which haven't allowed me to stay on top of things, and so when I started I was very stiff. I never really got the cardio going right, and the left shin hurt much of the way. Still, I was able to keep moving without having to walk, and my gait was pretty straight.

Mike came up and killed the 5k, finishing 4th overall. Great to spend time before and after, chatting. Also, great as always to see so many friends volunteering and running. Thank you as always volunteers!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dawg Dash 10k

I ran the Dawg Dash 10k yesterday.  Dan and I did this a few years back, along with Holley.  He wanted to go back and I was game. Glad I did. It's a bit of an effort to get out of bed and down the road early on a Sunday morning, but its always good to be at the UW.

I ran the 10k; Dan ran the 5k. I was pleased with my improvement. I finished in 1:01, which is an improvement over my last 10k. I know its not a fast time, but I also know I'm getting in a bit better shape.

The course starts by Red Square, and then runs out into Ravenna. From there, it hooks back on the Burke Gilman all the way back to the hospital, and then all over campus. The course finishes in Red Square.

Great crowd of about 3500 runners.  Lots of exhibitors in the Square. A purple and gold donut at the finish, with coffee and all sorts of other drinks. A nice long sleeve purple shirt with a dawg on it.

Afterwards, I got together with friend Mike, grabbing breakfast at the 14 Carrot Cafe and wandering the U. Bookstore. Then, back to Dan and Kim's for some Seahawks football.  Good day. ( :

Next up: Fall Fowl Run in a couple weeks, unless something comes up sooner.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Baker Lake 50k

This year's Baker Lake 50k was rainy, and the rocks and bridges seemed a little more slippy than in recent years. I came across one runner, somewhat dazed, who took a spill on a bridge. They seemed ok, despite. The beautiful 14.5 mile single track trail along the side of Baker Lake is filled with log bridges. I'm guessing there's at least 60 of them on the trail.

It was a hard day to figure out what to wear. It wasn't raining at the Early Start, but the forecast called for some showers and middling temperatures. Of course, weather forecasts are little less sturdy when it comes to mountain trails. Microclimates and rainshadows, etc. I went with a short sleeve tech, plus a Nathan pack stuffed with a Patagonia Houdini. I really like the Houdini, and it came in handy on this day.

About 4.5 miles in, as I approached the water jugs at Maple Grove, I rolled my right ankle, AGAIN. Research indicates I may have "chronic ankle instability" from years of hiking and trail running. It hurts really bad when it rolls hard, which happens a little too often these days. At times, the ankle feels unhinged, which is why I might start calling it my Trump ankle. This race puts you out there a bit, with no real aid between the out and back, other than the jugs. I love that--it's part of the reason its my favorite--but caution is called for.

I carried on, but I was never the same after the roll. I ran with a single trekking pole, which gave that side of my body support, but also wore me down over time. The trail was beautiful, as always, with maybe a little more leaf cover, and more wet than in recent years. Mt. Baker was obscured by the clouds. Threat of rain and sprinkles turned to steady light rain as the day went on. I took too long to get the jacket on.

The turnaround is anticipated for miles, and always gets a big smile. The bridge over the creek is a big one, with crystal clear water below. I didn't see salmon. The half mile out and back to the turnaround is open, flat, and an opportunity to say hi as people pass, going back again. Nice to see Ryan out there. At the aid station, John B. filled my water pack, and I loaded up on S caps and Stingers. In and out in 3 minutes. But those were wonderful minutes, with a number of hellos and smiles to friends.

The slog back was slow, a few minutes slower per mile. I didn't have the endurance, and my right ankle couldn't really pick up the foot. No stride. It was also mentally draining, watching every step so closely. The rain got heavier. Many passed me.

I know the turns and landmarks well, anticipating them, staying patient and steady. Three climbs to the Noisy Creek sign. A long stretch to Maple Grove, with a few key turns and overlooks on the lake. Maple Grove, and I was out of water, basically toast. A stretch to Anderson Creek. Cross the log bridge, carefully. Then that final climb out to the road, which is always a few minutes longer than you'd like to think. The Road. The Dam. The Finish.

Despite my ankle struggles, I ran a bit faster than I have the past two years. That's not saying much, but my recent running, diet, and fitness efforts have brought some personal improvements. I hope to build on this. This race has found a special place in my heart. This was my 13th finish. The first week in October has meant Baker Lake for over a quarter of my life now.

Thank you as always to Skagit Runners. Terry, Delores, Toi, and all others. Thanks to all my long friends and acquaintances that share this trail with me. Great to see Stanley, Marlis, Bandur, Adam, Al, and so many others. This is something we share.