Sunday, July 23, 2017

Needles 25k

Rich and Adam hosted a terrific semi-fat ass type run out in Easton, entitled Needles 50k. A fall back 25k option was available, and was more than enough for me.

The course is hard.

The 50k has about 10k in gain; the 25k probably comes in around 5k. The first half of the course is dry, and so you have to plan accordingly. The event starts out with a 3k+ climb or so up towards Doamrie Divide/Peak something, and the views are really cool. You look down on Lake Cle Elum and out towards eastern Washington (Teanaway, etc.). You can see Goat Peak across the way as you climb, which is the first climb of Cascade Crest. There are some picket fence type peaks to the north. Rainier. And more.

But the climb is tough. Maybe next time when I know what's coming a little better, it'll go easier. Or if I lay off the sweets. But I'd get up one miner's trail, and then there'd be another, and another, and I'm gasping, wondering about max pulse rates and blown radiators. Some really nice wildflowers, surprisingly still out-- lupine, paintbrush, columbines, astors. 

The full 50k does a loop out by Little Joe Lake and then up Mt. Thorpe, basically tracing the last trail section of Cascade Crest. And that's spectacular, with views of Lake Kachess, Mt. Rainier, and some mountains to be named later.  I didn't go that way--I did the cut through at the paper plate to the Silver Creek trail, for the so-called 25k route, which was probably 30k. This is a beautiful section in its own right--with two or three sharp climbs, and more views in all directions. The course finishes out through the Silver Creek drainage, just like CC. 

My effort was horrible. My consolation is I got out there. As consolations go, they don't get much better. Rich greeted me at the finish with a nice, ice cold Fanta, which is reminiscent of our days on the Annapurna Circuit with Seth. That was just plain perfect.

The best part of the weekend for me was seeing old friends. I camped both nights, and got to talk for a bit with many good peeps. A good time was had by all. 

Also, I camped in a field, under the stars each night. I love the Eastern Washington night sky. Satellites, the hue of the Milky Way, the pack of wolves near my's all pretty special.

Alas, no pics. Camera battery dead, and I didn't want to carry the phone, which takes bad pics anyway. Plenty of pics of the area available by searching Silver Creek, Easton Ridge, Lake Kachess Ridge, Domarie Peak. 


No pics, and not much of a report to make. Once again, I ran this terrific event on the 4th of July. I was very slow. The hip and left knee do not agree with me, and I should go have things checked, but when the day comes to get out, that's what I do. Great to see Skagit Runners peeps at the race, running and volunteering. The Skagit community is fortunate to have this longstanding event every 4th of July morning. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New Orleans

We visited New Orleans on a work related trip last week. A great place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there...because of the summer humidity. There was plenty of walking, but not much running. 

We took a swamp tour on our last day there. Saw lots of alligators, and got to hold a two year old. We saw a couple alligators eating a deer that they must have pulled into the water, and did a death roll with. There were dragonflies, but didn't find any snakes. The swamp vegetation was lush. We did the flat boat rather than the fan boat, and I would recommend this, as the fan boat had too many tourists and seemed loud.

We ate really well. Too well, sure. We stayed in a hotel right outside the renowned French Quarter, and wandered in their daily. A couple visits to the famed Cafe Du Monde coffee shop for beignets. An afternoon at Acme Oysterhouse. The grilled were great. Etoufee. Gator bites. Jambalaya. Gumbo. Red Beans and Rice. And so on.

Our room had a view of the mighty Mississippi. We walked on its banks, but didn't make it to the paddle boat.  We did ride the St. Charles trolley out and back, which is the oldest or one of the oldest still running trolleys. This was a great way to see some of the Garden District houses, with their columns and southern ambiance in display.  We made it onto Bourbon Street a couple times--a little much for me, I think, at this point in life.  We also made it to Jackson Square, at night, with all the fortune tellers out.

Our trip just happened to correspond with a visit from Tropical Storm Cindy.  It didn't end up being as bad as it could be, but at times the sewers were overflowing with the intense rainwater. We sat under an awning for 20 minutes at one point.

Truly a terrific place to visit--I hope we make the trip again one of these days.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon

No pictures, alas. I did the early start, along with some other 30 runners. We headed down Fairhaven Avenue, out of Burlington towards the cow fields. There were yards and fields with berry bushes, and extended views across the Skagit Flats. A turnaround, and then back and to the Skagit River dike. A few folks fishing on the banks. People playing horseshoes and soccer in the fields to the right. And then a finish, along the parade route, with people taking their seats to watch firetrucks and dairy queens on horses.

This race is great. It's flat. It's simple. It's local. And the price is nice.

Good to see Stan, Dean, Brannon, Kevin and other friends. Great weather.

I jogged, walked, jogged, walked, jogged, ran a little, walked, jogged, ran to the finish. Every weekend I toe a line is a win for me. Onward.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Blanchard Mountain

Feeling really good. I got up early on the Saturday morning of a three day weekend and hiked and jogged around Blanchard Mountain. I threw in the British Army Trail, and looped back via the logging roads. Just an absolutely terrific morning on trail.

I have an old phone, and I'll replace it one of these days. It doesn't capture the best pics, but I'd rather throw these up here and have them then not. These pics are like rumors of the full view. The temps were in the 70s, not a cloud in the sky, and the trails were not too busy, because of the early start.

I've only taken the British Army Trail a couple times. It seems like t lot of work has been done on the trail in the last couple years, and the white scrapes suggest to me that it is part of the Pacific Northwest Trail. It's a less-traveled gem, and the logging roads back to the upper parking lot was a quiet, solitary experience--just how I like it.  On the logging roads, the view of Mount Baker was tres magnifique at one point. A "Well, hello there! Sweet view!" kind of moment.

Mount Rainier was out too. Sitting square in the middle of the view, from the Overlook, looking down across the Skagit Valley flats and Bow. I do this loop all the time, but don't typically see it. The white capped Olympics Range was also in full view, over Anacortes. All here, said the mountains.

The State Legislature is wrestling with whether or not to protect Blanchard Mountain from logging, and for recreational use. It's a ridiculous debate, but politics are that way sometimes, I guess. Frankly, it looks like a lot of logging has already occurred up there, selectively. The trail is quite a bit different from when I first started running and hiking up there, so many years ago.  Also, there is four to five times the foot traffic. The place is very much used and appreciated. Blanchard Mountain needs to be preserved as it is.

Off the mountain for now. Might go up again this weekend; the weather is good. Cueing up the barbq now, with some Bob Marley beats kicking. Might have to be a homebody, and garden, roof care, and all those sorts of things. Lively up yourself, says Bob.

Train rolling around the corner on the waterline

I promise--Mt. Rainier sits large in the middle of this photo, if you squint. Click to enlarge.

Bow, Chuckanut Drive and the Skagit Flats

Skagit Flats in the foreground, than March Point, and the Olympics Range beyond

Another shot of Bow/Chuckanut/Skagit Flats

Lilly Lake

Lizard Lake - fish were hopping

Here's a fail picture of Mt. Baker.  The lighting didn't work. But the view is special, from the logging roads retiring to the upper Blanchard parking lot.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Beat The Bridge

I ran the Beat The Bridge 8k this morning. The race benefits Diabetes research, and is hosted by Nordstrom. The course runs over the Montlake Bridge by Husky Stadium in Seattle, and then the bridge to beat is the Roosevelt Bridge, which lifts about 24 minutes into the race.  I beat the bridge, but it was not a rout.

The best part of today, by far, was it was a family affair. My wife and I got up at 5 AM or so, with the help of an outlaw rooster. We made the drive down and met her daughter, husband, and others. In particular, Deb's 5 month old granddaughter participated, in a stroller. So very cute, so very cool.

I think Beat the Bridge was my first for fee race in Washington State. I ran it in 1986, 31 years ago! I remember being really excited with the idea of a challenge--Beat The Bridge!--and then finding that it wasn't all that tough to beat. I talked a couple roommates into joining me. Not my first fee race--I did a few in Washington DC before that.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Starlight Overnight

I had a nice Saturday night last weekend at the Starlight Overnight run, outside of Cle Elum.  I haven't spent much time with a headlamp on in the past couple years, and this event presented the perfect opportunity. The event starts at 8 PM, and runners are welcome to do the 2.3 mile trail loop as many times as they like, until 5 AM.  Afterwards, there is a breakfast.

I walked with Glen, and did four loops. We had a good time chatting, and had our hellos with many other friends, as they ran around in the dark. I didn't really feel like running--I just wanted to look at stars. Its been so rainy on the west side, all winter, and I was just looking for an excuse to visit the clear skies of eastern Washington.

I didn't camp out--I came back afterwards. It's probably a better idea to stay the night, but I've been gone a lot lately, and wanted to catch up on some things at home on Sunday. Plus, I like driving when no one else is on the road, with the music rolling. I listened to Bob Marley's Catch A Fire three or four times, and then opted towards some remix of the Hamilton soundtrack. This is night driving.

All the props in the world to Gretchen, Matt, Keri and the Endless Trails peeps for putting on a very special event. Hope to make this trip again next year.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Big Island

We had an amazing trip to the Big Island. We spent time with family and friends, and were there for just over a week. Highlights included hiking through a live crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling with manta rays, whale watching off the Kona Coast, and lots of good fishy eats.

Here are a few pictures. The picture above is the manta ray experience, which I'd recommend to all friends who go there. You float, hanging on to a surfboard, with snorkel and goggles, and then they turn on an LED light. This is at night. The light attracts phytoplankton, which is dinner for the manta rays. They come up and do somersaults with their mouth wide open, taking in the phytoplankton. The mantas are 8 to 16 feet wide. Big. And they come up right next to you. Totally amazing experience, like nothing I've ever done. My sweet wife surprised me with this as a gift.

Whale watching was nice. Humpback whales, swimming in pairs. March is still Hawaii whale season, and I really wanted to get out there, at least once, to watch. We saw a bunch. My photography skills are lacking.

Our condo was terrific. We stayed at the Kona Reef. The photo right below is the view from our lanai. We were walking distance to town, which made it really fun.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park included a hike through a lava tube! Short, but how often do you get to do that? We didn't see hot, red lava--maybe we should've tried harder. We did hike across a crater, and visit the main volcano. We also went down to Hilo, and had a wonderful lunch, and visited the local stores.

Friends Mike and Fran were there for part of the time. So awesome! I hiked with them to the supposedly green sands beach. There's a picture or two below. We have lots of green algae beaches in the northwest that are much greener, so consider me unimpressed. My favorite part of this was sharing the walk with Mike and Fran, which had a sort of desolate, bottom of the world kind of feel, looking out at the blue sea.  On their final day, we also got to visit a Kona Coffee Farm and a Macadamia Nut Farm.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I ran the Brewfest 10k in Kona. Gosh, that was hot, and I was slow.

What more to say?  This was one of my favorite vacations ever, and I want to go back, because there is much left to explore, and because it's Hawai'i.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kona's Run For The Hops 10k

Last weekend we were in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. It happened to be Kona Brewfest weekend, and to kick it off, there was the Run for the Hops 10k. The race supports some good causes, including kids, culture and the environment. I signed up and ran it, slow.

I find running in Hawai'i very challenging. The heat and the humidity don't sync well with me.

The course starts at the BMW dealer and heads down by the water, with a couple out and backs. Then, it heads up hill through the industrial section of town. There was lots of aid on the course. I found myself walking, and I wasn't alone, though I was towards the back. The sun got my ears. The sun shows up in the picture above, catching my shadow as I stopped to take a pic.

Terrific event organized by the non-profit PATH. Cool shirt, and a finish line full of papaya, melon, bananas, oranges, and Kona beer. Glad I happened to be there to participate.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birch Bay Half Marathon

Great day up at Birch Bay, running the half marathon. The skyline was beautiful, with Canada in sight throughout the course, snow on the ground, snowcapped peaks in the distance. A fast course, but I didn't run fast--I was out for a trot. The weather was terrific, at about 34 degrees at the start, but climbing to mid-40s as the day got going.

The first three miles are along the waterline, and then the course heads over to Drayton Harbor. I was able to see the Peace Arch--the actual Peace Arch, as well as White Rock, in the near distance. Then, onward over by Semiahmoo, with a finish back to Birch Bay State Park.

Rich has the marathon on his calendar for a while, and ran an amazing race. I was happy to come up, trot my half, and then cheer him on at the end. Great to see Linda, Reed, and some other great peeps. Somehow missed Stan, but I heard he was out there. The Pearsons and their team put on a terrific event. When the weather is good, this is as beautiful a course as anywhere. That was today.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Orcas Island 25k

This guy showed up at the Orcas Island 25k last weekend, and crossed the finish line. I was pretty close to not going, but the weather forecast was good, the fee was paid, and I figured I'd kick myself if I didn't. Bravo, me!

I took the 5:35 AM ferry over. Early does it. Stayed in the car, typing out some work stuff. By 7:30, I was at Moran. Good to see Randy, Kurt, Glenn, Heidi and other friends before the race.

The course is obviously shorter than the very tough 50k, but it still touches most of the highlights, and has some 4000 feet in climbing. The power line climb is as tough as ever. The last push to Mount Constitution is also worthy of curses. I was ok on the uphills, horrible on the downs. I finished towards the back, just over 5 hours. I was jogging, not racing, but just shooting for the finish line. As much as anything, I wanted to clear my head of all the nonsense going around, and just focus on some green trails for a long morning.

The view from the top was as good as I've ever seen. Squinting, I could see the tall buildings of Vancouver, and turning south, Mt. Rainier. And everything in between--though as I write this, I don't recall looking for Seattle. So, most of Skagit and Whatcom were easy to pick out. The Olympics too.

Great weather. A little overcast. Maybe 35 to 45 degrees. No rain, little wind. This race can get some tough weather. Not this year.j

I didn't have a lot of juice to stick around. I headed to the ferry afterwards, and missed my ferry by three cars. Subsequently, a three hour wait, eased by fish and chips at the Orcas Hotel.

This race has changed as much as any race I've been a part of.  I ran the 50k in year one, maybe ten years ago, or so, and there weren't many runners--maybe 30 to 40, I think. We might've got a little lost. Now the event is broken down into three weekends, with 25k, 50k, and 100m. James and the people of Rainshadow Running have created a classic. So many smiling faces. Great to take a Saturday and join in.

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.