Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blanchard Mountain Loops

I got up at 5 AM today and ran two loops around Blanchard Mountain, on the old Blanchard Ultra loop.  22 miles.  The farthest I've gone in a while.

I wasn't quick, but pretty steady. Hike the hills, jog the flats, run the downhills.  I'm encouraged by the improvement.

Great weather today--hitting the mid-to high 80s  Saw a big frog.  The first huckleberries of the year.  A number of different types of flowers.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tesoro March Point 10k

My unplanned "Run Local" June series continued today with the Tesoro March Point 10k.  This 10k is out near the Anacortes-Deception Pass junction of Highway 20, in Skagit, on and around the Tesoro Refinery. This was the 19th edition, but my first crack at it.  My fourth Saturday in a row at a Skagit or Whatcom County race.

It was a good way to start a Saturday morning again, but my digestive tract wasn't having it.  I ended up having to run/walk the last couple miles, which knocked my time effort out of the water. Came in slightly over an hour. I think I can do better than that now, though the miles still don't come easy. More core exercise and stretching required.  It's a journey, and the journey is the pleasure.

The course isn't particularly hard.  There's one big hill, called North Texas Road, right before Mile 2, and it's a slog. But it is matched with plenty of gradual downhills too.  Also, some great views of the water as you circle the Point.  This is a supermoon weekend--meaning the moon is as near as it gets, and full--and so the low tide was very visible along the waterline.

I'm glad I did this race, and which I had sooner.  It is a great value, w/ a great course, nice 1/4 zip tech shirts for an additional $15, and a hot dog barbq afterwards, with chips, drink, and all that sort of stuff. Skagit Runners were in attendance, volunteering mostly--good to see friends all about.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon

My little June running series continued this weekend with the Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon in Burlington.  The race kicks off the annual Burlington town festival, and concludes with a finish on the parade route in downtown Burlington, with spectators lining the street. 

Berry Dairy Days includes a 2 miler, a 10k, and a recently added 1/2 marathon.  The 1/2 marathon starts a half-hour before the 10k, with an early start option also available. The course takes country roads to the east of Burlington, running by berry fields and cow pastures, and ultimately after a turnaround or two, goes out on the Skagit River dike, with an nice five mile or so out and back. 

The  Skagit River dike trail is beautiful, but presents a bit of a challenge, because you can see w-a-y ahead of you, which got into my head a little bit.  Also, at some points, the gravel slowed me down, though usually I was able to find a bit of hard pack. The course offers a mix of road, dirt road/gravel, and even a bit of single track. All flat, with some great long views of the Skagit Valley and Skagit River. 

A+ weather for the day, with the sun shining enough to make me thing about sunscreen. In Washington??  I typically ran a mile, then walked a bit, staying steady, on my way to a 2:12 finish. I know this is not fast, but I'm pleased. I couldn't even run a couple months ago, and now I've managed to keep a 10 minute pace for a half.  I think I would be a bit faster if I could better manage my breathing and stomach. I feel like I'm relearning pacing and distance. Pleasures of running--I'll keep at it.

Breakfast afterwards at the wonderful Burlington Cafe, with a parade of John Deere tractors, Mariachi bands, and rodeo queens passing by outside. Good stuff. Nice to see so many folks coming out to the parade, race and festival. The small businesses of Burlington can use a little help now with the bridge down.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Broken Bridge Run

The big news in the Skagit Valley this month is the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River fell in the river one Thursday evening.  It's been a mess ever since, with traffic re-routed through the towns. At least 75 accidents based on the reroute. This is all well reported elsewhere. Fortunately, the powers that be have worked really hard to get a temporary bridge in place, as well as a plan for a permanent fix. The temporary bridge should be operational next week.

On Sunday, I decided to go for a run along the Skagit River, to see if I could get a look at the progress on the replacement "Bailey bridge," as it is called. Here are some pictures I took from that run. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Race Beneath The Sun

Early June presents so many different terrific race and backcountry options.  I chose to run the Race Beneath The Sun 5 miler this Saturday morning, hosted by the Greater Bellingham Running Club (GBRC). The sun didn't cooperate, but we didn't get rain, so it was a fine enough day.

This 5 mile race starts and finishes in Fairhaven Park, in the exact same place as the old start/finish for Chuckanut.  It's mostly suburban trail.  After leaving the Park, there's a little downill towards Fairhaven, that has everyone running a step quicker. What goes down must come up---there's some work to do, to complete the course, including the C. Moore Loop. It's sort of cool to take that final turn, and finish just like the old C-nut. Not as many people watching though--I think less than 100 did the race. I'll take the small event any day.

I finished somewhere north of 47 minutes, which is about 9 minutes slower than the last time I did this race, some ten years ago.  I remember the course pushing me that day too. There is slight improvement as compared to last weekend, but I still fought shin pain and shortness of breath a bit, causing me to walk in 10 yard stretches a few times.

My plan is to keep doing smaller and shorter events right now, and work my way up to the longer distances.  I'm happy for now to try to focus on diet, core, and consistency.  I need to stick with the PT exercises better.  There will be some longer races down the way, but these short events are fun!

Good to see so many GBRC friends, like Rick, Polly, Julie, Dave and so many others volunteering. This is club running at its local finest. Thank you volunteers. My best to all my friends running elsewhere this weekend---Cougar Mounatin, Vashon Island, the San Diego 100, and wherever else. Run strong, be happy.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dog Island 10k

I made my first visit to Guemes Island this weekend, for the Dog Island 10k, which benefits the island library. Guemes Island is a five minute ferry ride across from downtown Anacortes.

This race is a real gem. A 10:45 AM start makes it very accessible. The roads are quiet, with long stretches along shoreline and underneath beautiful canopy. The course itself is not fast, as far as 10ks go, with several hills. A few grinders, a few long downhill stretches, and all road. At one point, I saw five eagles circling above. Lots of caterpillars on the island right now, and lots of bushes flowering. Very beautiful.

I ran 1:01 or so, or just under a 10 minute pace. There was running and walking, because of the hills. I'm pleased, as a few months ago, I couldn't run much at all, due to IT and hip issues. Physical therapy has helped. The time is not too important to me, but it will serve as a benchmark. I needed to get out and participate in an event, and this was a good one.

Joe Tompkins and Stan Nakashima represented Skagit Runners, with the set up and finish line, along with the wonderful locals. Great to see them making things happen, as usual.

After the race, I walked and jogged the two miles back to the ferry landing. Recommend. A quiet country road, with all sorts of flowers, roadside sales, and island art.