Friday, July 6, 2018

The Great Sedro-Wolley Footrace

Another Fourth of July, another Great Sedro-Woolley Footrace!

This year was gorgeous, with clear sky and nearly 80 degrees out. Highlights for me were seeing Mark, Carolyn, and Stan, old-timer ultra-running peeps. The shirt is also pretty cool this year, with a picture of some people tuckered out after their all-out race. This race is so fun to see everyone dressed up in red, white and blue. I'm running a bit more consistently these days, and so I was pleased to finish 8 minutes faster than last year. Still slow, but I'm able to keep a steady, slow run, without busting too many capillaries, ventricles, and aortas.

Afterwards, we just hung out at home, barbqued, watched the amazing Mariners, and I read a book. A most excellent holiday, all in all.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

March Point 10k

We're really fortunate in Skagit County, and Whatcom County too, to have a great number of longstanding races to choose from each year.  If I don't have anything else going on, I'll often turn out for a local event with not much forethought. Such was the case with the March Point 10k this year, out by Anacortes, which I basically decided to run on Friday night.

I got up at about 5 AM to make coffee and watch the first of three World Cup games. Belgium v. Tunisa, and Belgium looks very good.  Then off to the race, which is about 15 minutes from home.

The course circles March Point. It has a tough climb up N. Texas Ave, between miles 1 and 2. The final three miles are on waterfront, as is the first mile. There's a terrific barbq afterwards, with hot dogs, drinks, salads, and other goodies.  A half marathon was added a few years ago, which I'll have to try some time.  The half does the loop on the Point and then throws in an out and back on the Tommy Thompson trail, a converted rail trellis to trail over water.

I saw two eagles in a tree at mile 4.  No camera, alas, but the would've made a good photo. They're probably still there. No need to move along.

My running is improving.  I ran a 1:03, which I know is not fast, but its improvement for me.  I seem to be getting in consistent runs since I scheduled marathons at the end of the year. Hopefully improvements keep coming--probably will.  While I don't have great aspirations, I'd like to get so a basic six to eight miles moves by pretty steady.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Berry Dairy Days Half

A quick update here to record the fact that I ran the Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon yesterday. I took a few pics of the river, some cows, and some berries, but I'll have to add them later.

This run has become a favorite of mine, as I've done it four or five times in the last as many years. It's well priced, and I can roll out of bed at 6:30 and catch the early start without any real rush. Home by 11 AM to get on with things.  I like the early start, because I'm slower these days and because there are only about 30 starters with me.

I was pretty happy with my run. I ran a 2:25.  While not impressive, I'm seeing improvement, in that I can run a whole half without stopping. I've been out running four to six times a week lately, in preparation for some fall marathons.  In this one, I was able to run the second half of the half about as fast as the first half. I started slowly, which probably has a lot do with not sleeping or eating right beforehand. Eventually, though, I was able to find a pace and keep it.

The last six miles are really nice. The run goes out on the dike along the Skagit, comes back, and finishes on the Berry Dairy Days parade route.

It was great to see Dean and Ruth afterwards, Stan beforehand, and other friends supporting the community. Strawberry shortcake before heading home.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spokane River Run 25k

No pictures, and that's too bad, as there were plenty of spring-time sights at the Spokane River Run 25k this weekend. There were points on the run, particularly in the last 5 miles, where the trail was on a ridge, overlooking the valley.  There were balsam root plants in bloom--the short yellow sunflower plants. The rugged pine trees and soft trail were picture worthy.  Somebody though ran without a camera, and so next time, I suppose.

It's always good to get over to eastern Washington this time of year.  The peaks in the distance still show snow, but spring is apparent everywhere.  It's not too hot to run, and the weather is usually a bit better than what you'll find on the west side.

I enjoyed the "Challenge Course," which advertises a 1900 feet elevation gain over 25k. There is a slightly easier 25k as well, and the event also offers runners the choice of pairing the two courses for one 50k. Maybe next time.  Every mile is marked, which is a bit of a change, but kind of nice considering my condition.  There were three aid stations for the Challenge Course, which is plenty, but I carried a bottle of water and some gels. 

The event is a local benefit for the Garfield A.P.P.L.E. program, which offers enhanced benefits for Spokane students. The event had a real community feel to it. The tech shirt even features a student drawing. I ran with a good friend, who in turn ran with a bunch of peeps he knew.  I didn't actually run with them--but friendly faces before and after a race is terrific.

As for how I ran....well, slow, but I've done worse. I thought I'd hike a lot, but the soft trail was very inviting, and so a steady trot was the outcome. My hip, knee, and stomach are still in the opposition party, but I will continue to campaign for a better me.

The drive, by the way, was long. I managed to listen to the whole audio for Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology, a full PJ concert (Charlottesville '13), and some talk radio. RIP Art Bell.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mercer Island Half Marathon

I walked and jogged the Mercer Island Half Marathon a week or so ago. It was on a Sunday morning, and I registered months earlier.  I really wasn't into doing it, but I got myself up and went down at 6 AM for the early start.  I figured I'd be happier after the fact if I did it, as long as I didn't make it too painful. That was about right for me, and I'm glad I did it.

I've wanted to do this race for years. It is one of the older races in the Pacific Northwest and its fair to call it a classic.  I can't believe I've never done it, which is part of the reason I wanted to check this box.

For me, this race is a real throwback. In the 1980s, I used to be the Circulation Director for the Mercer Island Reporter.  I think I earned $9.07/hour, and I thought that was awesome. I was a Manager! The newspaper was published by Bellevue's Journal-American company (no longer operating), and was a once weekly newspaper. The job was nuts. Basically, every Tuesday night-Wednesday morning, I drove all over Mercer Island, delivering all the routes that I couldn't find carriers for. And on Mercer Island, a well-to-do area, the kids were often doing other things besides delivering papers. So, there were lots of routes to deliver personally. The rest of the week was great--basically, I would look for carriers, run sales crews, and I did a little bit of advertising sales.  On the Rock, as we called it.  I eventually quit this job so I could go look for work in Yellowstone, which didn't really work out.

Anyway, wandering around the Island really took me back. The course itself circles the Rock--it's a very natural half marathon--almost a perfect 13.1 mile loop.  I suppose there are some hills, but its not too bad--definitely not by trail runner standards. Tons of volunteers with big smiles. Thanks you Lions Club! Some amazing views of Lake Washington, and I really enjoyed checking out the houses, which are great examples of NW architecture. 

Anyway, I rolled around the island in under three hours, mostly walking.  I would definitely do this race again, and hope I do. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Big Island 2018

We had a wonderful week this year in our return to the Big Island of Hawaii.  We missed sharing the experience with our family and friends, but we made great use of our time.

On our first full morning, we went horseback riding at Dahana Ranch outside of Waimea. What a great experience! Our guide was terrific, and we had the ranch to ourselves for a couple hours. I am not a skilled rider, but I hope to do this again. Years ago, I went with family in Maui through a preserve--this was more of an open range type ride. My horse's name was Beachbum.

We stayed in Kona, and visited the farm market, beaches and restaurants. We cooked for ourselves mostly in our rented condo. One day, we took a tour of Greenwell Farms, a coffee farm established in the 1800s. We visited macadamia nut farms and the Big Island Bess honey operation. We also visited the town of Hawi on the north side.

Mid-week, we drove north, again through Waimea, and then went down the Hilo Coast to Hilo. We visited Akaka Falls and hiked the loop. Then, we visited the Wednesday Hilo Farmer's Market, which is fantastic.  I ate a lot of varieties of poke on this trip, including at Hilo's Farmer's Market. We also visited the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens, outside of Hilo, which is spectacular. Plants from all over, of all sorts--cacao, orchids, bird of paradise, and so on. Very worthwhile--I could've spent all day there.

That evening, we went up to Mauna Kea, to the 9200 foot Visitor Center.  The peak itself is above 13,000 feet, but was closed to private drivers due to 80 mph winds. I climbed a ridge above the Visitor Center, hoping to see the sunset, but the clouds were coming through strong. We were there to see the stars--this is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Things didn't look promising, but once the sun set, the clouds dropped below us, and the stars and milky way came out.  The Center turns off all white lights--using only red lights--and brings out some heavy duty telescopes. We saw Pleiades and the Orion Nebula through the telescope. Two astronomers then gave a star show, using a laser pointer to point out constellations and tell stories about them. This was a pretty special night.

We visited Pu'uhonua O Honohnau Nationa Park, a beautiful old Hawaiian village which served as a place of refuge for warriors during conflicts. Next door, some of the best snoring on the island is at the renowned "Two Step", so named because there is a two step ledge you use to launch into swim-only snorkeling. We then discovered another beach, Honolei, just cruising around. A great day was completed with island fresh smoothies at the South Kona Fruit Stand.

On the morning of our departure, I once again ran the Kona Brewer's Festival Run for the Hops. This year, I only did the 5k, because I wanted to get back quick to pack, but this is a terrific local race. The shirt has a manta ray on it--cool!---and the finish line had all sorts of fresh fruit.

Hopefully we get back soon! Mahalo, Big Island!


It's not all surf and sand

Greenwell Farms, founded in 1850s, specializing in Kona's coffee

Akaka Falls--beautiful short hike, tall falls

Bird of Paradise--Hawaiian Botanical Gardens

Hilo Farmer's Market


 Telescope on Mauna Kea-- in the day, on the sun--best look at the sun, ever

Tiki Gods

Run for the Hops

Our Last Breakfast

Monday, February 19, 2018

Woolley Runs Marathon

On Saturday, I walked the Woolley Runs Marathon in a downpour, mixed within winds, holding up an umbrella for much of the day.  I wore four layers up top, including a Marmot rain jacket, plus two hats (OR sombrero), a buff around the neck, and long running tights. I wore the wrong socks (Smartwool), in some old shoes (Montrail Masochists), and blistered bad under the foot and on some toes. My back was stiff going into this, and it hurt more as the day went on. I never seriously thought about trying to run, but there was some shuffling going on, now and again.

It was an ok day, notwithstanding.  This is an out and back on the Cascade trail out of Sedro-Woolley, put on by NW Ultras (Terry, Delores, James, et al.). Thank you all! The Woolley Runs are a terrific way to get out on a flat, rails trail in Skagit Valley in February.  The start line is about 15 minutes from home.  The trail parallels the Highway 20 corridor, from a distance. You pass fields upon fields, some with snow geese, Canadian geese, and swans. There were some bison.  Some horses and some cows. I think I saw some Alpacas. Definitely some sheep.  The hills and mountains on either side had snow in them. At some points, the trail parallels Lyman Slough and the Skagit River.

Indeed, the weather was miserable. I almost bailed, but I really wanted a long walk to clear the head, and so that's what I did. Basically, it was a hike with support at miles 4, 6, 13, 20, and 22.  There were great eats at the finish line (chili, chicken noodle, hot dogs, et al.), and soon enough I was home and watching the Olympics. The memory will last longer than the pain and discomfort. Walking for miles on end, with rain and wind my constant companion, is a good way to re-connect with myself and nature, at least in measured doses.