Sunday, February 24, 2008


I went to a presentation on “slow food” in Skagit on Saturday, with Dean and Ruth Taylor, two awesomes. The presentation was called “Skagivore,” and was all about growing and eating foods locally. Everything in the picture to the left was picked that morning. The meeting was held in an old 1800s school house at Christensen's Nursery. I’ve recently been paging through a book called “Local Flavors,” by Deborah Madison, which is about shopping at farm markets and cooking seasonally, recipes included. It's inspiring. The environmental benefits to eating local foods seem obvious—something to work on.

I learned that you can grow all sorts of vegetables and fruits in the Skagit. Well, duh, but really....anything grows here. Also, there are male and female trees, and sometimes you need both, to get fruit. I guess I knew that, but I forgot. At the end, they gave me a leek and a purple vegetable that tastes like radishes and starts with a K. My Unknown Vegetable will soon to be sautéed in olive oil, with Italian parsley. I plan on signing up with Slow Food USA, and will try to keep this train rolling in my life.

I had a low key running weekend. I did a two and a half hour run/trek up to Raptor Ridge on Friday night. Raptor Ridge is a spur trail in the Chuckanuts. Take a left as you're running through Arroyo, and proceed up. I actually found some wheels for a little bit--I must be getting past whatever had me sick. However, I forgot my headlamp on the way to work, and so I decided to test the "itty bitty book light" for trail worthiness. It fit well in my back pocket, but didn’t do so well in the dark. I lived. Consider alternatives. I was also chased by Denali, the dog, again. He lives for that. On Sunday, I ran to Burlington. This is not that far--just across the river--but I like that it sounds far. On my run, I did laps around a Latino soccer game, got some looks, and then trespassed across a railroad trestle just like the kids did in Stand by Me. Train dodge.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Orcas Island 50k

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, blah blah, blah.

I did this race two years ago, and at the time it might've been the hardest race I had ever run. When you have to run with your hands, something's up. Once in high school I ran an early season cross country race the morning after I "experimented" with orange liquer. That might've been harder. There have been a few others, but Orcas two years ago was up there.

Orcas Island is one of my favorite places in the world. Maybe my favorite. I've been going there since I was thirteen years old. Moran State Park even, where this race is held. I guess my Dad used to go there too, as a Boy Scout. The trails and views are spectacular. Moss, big trees, islands, volcanoes, mountain lakes, taco trucks, everything, it's all there.

This year, the course was SUPPOSED to be easier, with less elevation gain, because the course was revised due to snow up high.

This year, I felt I was in better shape.

This year....

Well, it was a two lapper. The first lap, I did the early start and messed around taking pictures. This was intentional--I planned on running easy the whole day. I still don't know what happened, and I'm not going to think twice about it, it's alright. All I know is the wheels came off, way early. I tried wearing a camel back, which I never do, and it busted. Most of my pictures didn't come out. My shoes felt like wood blocks with straps. My stomach was completely broken, and my GU was leaking. I was smiling, but everything was off.

The second lap was worse. I felt like I had the bubonic flu or something. I switched shoes, and the new ones were worse. I had a tough time walking downhill. The worst of it is, for the second race in a row, I missed a loop turn. This other guy and I agreed on a way to read a sign, and we were wong. So, after busting my butt for 30 miles with about 7000 feet of elevation gain, I technically did not get a finish. They'll probably make a "special" column for me. We're all special, in the end.

Still, what a great day! My running difficulties aside, the lakes were cut out of an old Life magazine, views from Canada to Mt. Baker, and some of greatest folks anywhere, everywhere.

James Varner and Alison Hanks, Fun Directors, have really dialed things in for this event, and their enthusiasm spills over. Bunks for everyone for the whole weekend, t-shirts, the race, bluegrass band at the finish, homemade soup and cookies, a keg....all for $45. Ridiculous. Roughly 200 people took part. I was happy to be one of them, and I will be back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

You're Gonna Miss This

There's a country song out right now called You're Gonna Miss This. It's a sappy diddy about living in the now. I like it, some. My taste in music sucks, so be careful.

The weather has been absolutely awful lately. Soon enough it will be sunny, and I can, not, wait. Even so, my recent weekends up in the nearby hills, plodding around in the snow, have been special. I AM gonna miss this. The hills are empty in the early hours, and this is the longest the snow has hung around locally that I can remember. The Skagit Valley Herald, one of my trusted sources for the information, says it's because of La Nina, which has something to do with ocean currents changing directions down by Peru. OK.

This morning, I made my way up to Lizard Lake, on Blanchard Mountain. The fog on the way up was ghostly, running fast through the trees. The streams were running too, from the meltoff, and my feet got soaked because the trail was flooded. I took a different route than usual---not running, really--as I decided I wanted to explore and take pictures. By the end I was tuckered out just the same, because of the knee deep snow near the lake. The lake itself was frozen over.

Yesterday was my true weekend run. I struggled up to Fragrance Lake, and from there up the Chinscraper to Chuckanut Mountain. Deep snow again at the top, but the trail was passable all the way up. Coming down, I met Corey from Spokane, who was trying his best to figure out the middle 18 of the Chuckanut 50k. I was going to head down, but I decided to show him the Ridge and actually run for a while. Corey works at Runner's Soul, a well known Spokane running store, and so he's a lot faster than me, but he toned it down, which was nice. The ridge trail is snow free.

Afterwards, I caucused for Hillary--that sure went well.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cutting Corners at Lord Hills

"It has spoken, it has told us the way!" --Pink Unicorn.

I cut a corner today at Lord Hills on the second lap, and suddenly found myself up by the leaders. I needed a magical Leopluridon, to show me the way. All my fault. And Dr. Rob's, who was running with me. We were yapping away, and just missed a turn. This is not the first time the two of us have gotten lost while running together. Pretty sad, considering we'd already ran the first lap correctly. I called it a day at 19.5 miles.

Lord Hills is a regional park near Snohomish. There were roughly 100 runners, some doing one lap of 10.5 miles, some doing three. The woods were gorgeous, and the running weather was perfect. The course includes one big hill. A Bellingham contingent made it down, including Al Coyle, Chuck Dooley, Chuck Snyder and Wes McCain. A good way to start Super Bowl Sunday.

The really big news of the day was my friend BJ and I lotteried into the Wasatch Front 100 in September. The race is in Utah, with 26k in elevation gain, at high altitudes, and so it will be tough. Still, I have friends who have done it, and I'm sure it will be an adventurrrrre.

Special thanks to niece Maresa for turning me on to Charlie the Unicorn, the most annoyingly brilliant youtube video available today: