Category Archives: Travel

What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays. So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

In what I am hoping will be the last of my very loose interpretations of WISWIRW’s, today I am going to share some action shots from the Bahamas! It is wayyyyy too cold outside to even consider running (not for every human, as my friends Liz and Sean are demonstrating – they have been out running this week- but temps in the 20s with the howling wind is entirely too much for my wimpy constitution!) but after this I hope to make Wednesdays a regular run day again. Until then, I am going to go to my happy place and find serenity now by getting lost in these images. Please feel free to join me:

Hiking through the pinewood forest of Lucayan National Forest

Hiking through the pinewood forest of Lucayan National Forest

Hiking through water to get to plover flats.

Hiking through water to get to plover flats.

Cartwheels, the cornerstone of any fitness program.

Cartwheels, the cornerstone of any fitness program.

Tree climb! A must in tropical locales.

Tree climb! A must in tropical locales.

Sprints into the water

Sprints into the water.

Meditation

Meditation

Vertical jumps

Vertical jumps

Refueling

Refueling

What did you see on your run today?

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Bahamian Running Bud

If yesterday was a test by the running gods on the virtues of restraint, I admit that I failed miserably, but happily. After Friday’s successful outing, it probably would have been the smart thing to wait a bit before the next one, especially considering my groin was wonky on Saturday (I really do have a growing body of evidence that it gets tweaked while I sleep. Not sure how to solve that one!). I woke up Sunday morning in considerably better shape than Saturday night and told myself I would rest it that day. Of course, that thought was generated in the dark-curtained room I had been sleeping. The plan was not long for this world, however, and was abandoned about .21 seconds after I looked out the window and saw the day. Lil Sis’ recent email about not doing too much too soon flashed through my mind but was no match for this:

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I made my way outside and walked around the grounds a bit to see how my leg felt. A little tight for sure. As I was having an inner battle about the idiocy of wasting a day like this versus the idiocy of re-injuring myself, I was interrupted by this friendly fellow who was literally sprinting right at me:

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I don’t believe in signs unless they point in the direction I already want to go so the sight of this dog who was so joyful at the simple act of running set my course of action. Run! I figured if it hurt while I ran, I would stop. If it didn’t, I would have an amazing start to yet another perfect day in paradise.

I set out and was happy to see that my running bud seemed game. He had no collar and seemed to belong to no one so I felt comfortable with him coming along ( I’m no dognapper!). In both Puerto Rico and Costa Rica I had similar encounters with running dogs and was excited to see how this adventure would play out. It started out innocently enough:

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A little over a mile into the run, my bud and I stopped at this beautiful spot in Marsh Harbor on Abaco Island. I could not resist the hammock for a quick swing! My leg was tight, but ok and not getting worse.

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As I reluctantly got out of the hammock, I noticed my companion was standing alert and looking back at the road- I followed his gaze and saw a large dog. He wasn’t growling, but wasn’t wagging his tail either. Hmm. I have been in tight dog situations before and don’t especially like being in the middle of their “helloes”. There was no way out of this one though- the dog was running over to check us out. My buddy seemed friendly but cautious- I myself was bordering on panic. One large dog running at us, one medium dog taking refuge next to me. I jumped on top of a picnic table and hoped it would not come to blows.

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And it did, if by blows you mean two dogs playing an insane game of tag- it was suddenly clear to me that my bud must be a trained agility dog- he was so fast, could cut tight corners and easily lept over obstacles. He liked to run out and then zoom back to my side. The first time I saw him barreling towards me, I jumped out of the way and he collided with my leg, leaving me this keepsake:

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Once I understood that he knew what he was doing, it was really fun to watch him gleefully outpace the other dog as he whizzed past me on lap after lap.

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Eventually I needed to move on. After a few more chases, he came with me. It was then that I decided he needed a name and settled on Four Leaf, in honor of the fact he was my lucky running dog. In fact, the fear I felt during the doggie standoff was enough to completely distract me from any leg pain. It never returned for the remaining 2 miles or the rest of the day, which was significant since we spent a majority of it walking, including some hills. The brain is a mysterious and wonderful place.

We returned back to the condo thoroughly satisfied (me) and with energy to burn (him). In between post-run fartleks, he did take a moment to bask in the moment. Smart dog.

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Today was a reminder that running buds of all species make good company. Four Leaf helped me to get outside my own fears of injuries and unknown situations and take it back to basics- a woman and a dog, out for a run in the sun. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing better.

Have you had running adventures with dogs?

Do you like to run with dogs?

Run on, (dog and people) friends!

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Bahamas Balm

BREAKING NEWS: I RAN!!!!!!!!!! And not just in my mind but for real with actual footsteps and heavy breathing and everything!!!

I am thinking I might need to change the name of the blog from Cape Island Runners to Island Runners since I have absolutely no interest in coming home (esp considering Tuesday’s high up north is 30dF). This place is amazing- the scenery is phenomenal and when you add plovers to the mix, you have a combination that just can’t be beat. Wednesday and Thursday were spent on Grand Bahama and we saw 41 plovers, including 2 banded ones! We sadly did not see Bahama Mama and I fear the worst since she was also not seen on the Christmas bird count. But hopefully she is just being extra elusive and will show up again in Jersey in the spring.

We started today with an early flight to Abaco- an eight seater plane was our mode of transport:

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The day was cloudy but it couldn’t dampen our spirits! While waiting for the right tide, I summoned the courage (and had very understanding travel mates) to give a run a whirl. Em came along as my running bud and emotional support in case the tropical atmosphere was not enough to buoy my spirits should the pain rear its ugly and unwelcome head. My heart was racing (for real, I checked; normal heart rate ~55 bpm, it was 78 just before we set out) and I was just a tad nervous:

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Garmy was raring to go (the watch said the date was Dec 6th before the satellites corrected that) but it’s been a long time since we danced together and he was afraid I had left him for a different partner. He saw the goggles and swim caps and wasn’t sure where all this was leading. But normalcy, and Garmsters, reigned king today!

I kept it slow and stayed anxious until mile .82, which is when the pain kicked in on my last run (44 days ago, not that I was counting). At .83, I started to relax. By 1.05, I was on Cloud 9- NO PAIN!!! Em got upgraded from staff psychologist to staff photographer when she captured these images. I think they speak for themselves:

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I felt like ME for 3 glorious miles . I worried that the pain might show up afterwards, but here we are 12 hours post-run and all is right with my right leg. Ummm, yes!!!!!

I think it is still too soon to say I am totally out of the woods but feel like I finally found the trail after wandering around the forest for awhile. My thoughts today are filled with relief, glee, and awe for the power of the human body to heal itself. This day will no doubt loom large in my catalog of runs in other countries. I have lots more to say on this whole topic, but will save it for future posts when my mind stops spinning.

Thanks so much to Em who was prepared to handle whatever came her way today. She’s a great friend and was worth her ( and about 50 other people’s) weight in gold today. Side note- I am so proud of her for sticking with running and look forward to many CIR runs this summer!!

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Still can’t believe this was me today 🙂

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What was a favorite post- injury run you have gone on?

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Bahamas Bound!!

Here is an example of the kind of pictures Todd was torturing me with. This is him - menawhile, back in the trailer, I was banging my head against the wall when the internet crashed for the upteenth time. Yeah, it wasn't hard to decide to come along in 2013!

Here is an example of the kind of picture Todd was showing me. This is him – meanwhile, back in the trailer, I was banging my head against the wall when the internet crashed for the upteenth time. Yeah, it wasn’t hard to decide to come along in 2013! source

For the past two years my co-worker Todd has tortured me with pictures of Piping Plovers, sunny skies and azure water upon his return from trips to the Bahamas to see our very favorite feathered friends on their wintering grounds.  After a busy and stressful breeding season up here on the mid-Atlantic coast, they like to head south,  let their wings down, crank the calypso up and leave their cares blowing in the breeze (the pressure to reproduce as an endangered species must be intense since the future of your species literally depends on every last one of you cranking out chicks. Bird needs a drink, stat!).  Last year, after a dazzling slideshow that was shown to me in our god-forsaken trailer (yeah, our office is a trailer. It was meant to be a temporary solution – that was in 1987! These people who think state workers have it made should really come take a tour, I think they would be whistling a different tune after. But I digress…) in the middle of miserable winter I vowed that 2013 was the year I would make my way to the Bahamas and see our birdies in all their sun-soaked glory! Obviously, this is not something the state would pay for, so it’s on my own dime. With GD out of work (but good things on the horizon!), that dime has gotten pulled in more directions and it probably would be smarter to defer this trip for another year. But I just could not do it! I already have the money in savings and cannot pass up another opportunity to see those cuties in paradise. Besides, I could be hit by a bus before then and I don’t want my last thought to be “nooooo!! but I never got to see plovies in the Bahamas!!!” This solves that problem nicely (unless I get hit by said bus between now and Wednesday, but who could have predicted that?!).

This beautiful gal in known as Bahama Mama (we're a creative group, what can I say!). She was banded in the Bahamas in 2010 and has been seen in the same wintering and breeding spots every year since. We last saw her at North Brigantine in September, so as long as she made it through migration, we should be able to see her by Wednesday afternoon on Grand Bahama. Yahoo!!

This beautiful gal is known as Bahama Mama (we’re a creative group, what can I say?). She was banded in the Bahamas in 2010 and has been seen in the same wintering and breeding areas every year since. We last saw her at North Brigantine in September so as long as she made it through migration we should be able to see her by Wednesday afternoon on Grand Bahama. Yahoo!!

So on the 16th  myself, Todd, Emily (she ran with us this summer but lives down south in the winter- CANNOT wait to see this girl!) and Tom (a seasonal of ours and easily the best birder among us. You may also know him from Tom Reads with Tom Reed, his hit show) fly the friendly skies and start our adventure.

I hope to blog from the islands so if you don’t hear from me one of two things has happened. One, there was no internet connection for me to get my hands on. Two, I have permission from the sports doc to try running beginning on Wednesday and if I run and still have pain, I may spiral into a deep depression, rendering me unable to complete simple tasks such as tying my shoes or writing blog posts. I have such mixed feelings about this first run – excitement mixed with fear. I want so, so badly to be running again. I miss it with that deep ache that comes with missing an actual person. I fall asleep  thinking about it, wake up thinking about it and spend lots of time in between doing the same. It has been easy to think “ok, back to the pool. Don’t worry, you be running again in no time! The 16th isn’t too far away!” But what if the 16th comes, running commences and pain does too? I can’t think about it too long because I find it too upsetting. This is part of the reason I think trying in the Bahamas is a good plan – even if it hurts and more time off is needed, I will be in the BAHAMAS! How bad can life be when you are tromping around a new place looking for banded plovers? Oh, and that place happens to be gorgeous and the temperature 80 degrees? If that can’t distract me from the running blues, I’ll kindly ask Em to give me a slap in the face and yell “Snap out of it, Kashters!”

Keep your fingers crossed for me, k? I hope to report good news soon. If not, get ready for more shots of swimming and rehabbing! Not the best outcome, but the road I will follow if it will eventually lead me back to running.

What was a run that you were afraid to go on?

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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays – Olympia, WA Edition

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Last run in the Pacific Northwest before we head home! We got unbelievably lucky with the weather – I know August is the driest time out here, but it literally did not rain on us at all! Yesterday it sprinkled for about 5 minutes and then the sun came back out in time for our last birding excursion at Nisqually NWR where we were quite excited to find a Black Phoebe. For my part, I documented the bird with this incredible picture:

Yeah, try not to be jealous of my digi-scoping skills. Nothing like a blurry picture to get people excited about a bird!

I set out this AM on a fall preview run – weather.com reported that it was 46dF at the start! I set out into the chilly air in shorts, armed with a camera and this is what I saw:

Right outside our hotel was this cute lil BBQ area. We saw people taking advantage of it last night.

We did not stay in downtown Olympia, so I found this University near our hotel to spend my miles in. The Abbey sounded very intriguing.

The campus featured some single-track trails, which I really want to like, I do. They look so very pretty every time I see them in a RW spread and invoke feelings of running in the wild. But then I get on them and I feel like my gait changes in an uncomfortable way, like my hips and knees turn in to keep my feet on the line. This happen to anyone else?

The presence of the Abbey made for great sights this AM, including these along the woods. They appeared to tell the story of Jesus’ crucification, but I can’t be sure since I only saw numbers X and XI 🙂

The doors of the abbey were exquisite.

There were a lot of real-life monks on the campus, but it seemed rude to photograph them, so you’ll have to settle for this guy. I like the way the statue’s robes were flowing–that’s exactly what the real ones looked like. However, I am pleased to report that none of the actual monks I saw looked this glum. Perhaps it was the raven on his shoulder bringing him down?

What did you see on your run today?

Have you ever visited a monastery? Fantasized about being a monk?

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Race Report – Richmond Olympic Oval 10k

The Olympic Oval stadium, fresh off the Vancouver 2010 games

In a nutshell: Canadians are speedy and oh-so fit!

Out of the nutshell: Luckily, my jet lagged brain recovered and I actually got the start date and time of this race right. Since we are doing this trip spontaneous style, I was not sure that we would still be in the area (just south of Vancouver) on Sunday but once we decided to stick around, I was in! Running near an Olympic stadium? Yes, please!

I got up bright and early to sort myself out and grab some cash for registration – except the hotel ATM was broken. The area we were staying and the immediate location of the Oval were not spilling over with ATM machines, so I figured I would talk to the race staff and see what we could figure out. Upon arriving at the race day registration line, the sweetest Canadian women and a lovely young man (her son?) allowed me to sign up and suggested I try the machine in the Oval. Great! But then not great as that one was also broken! For real?? The woman was again sympathetic and allowed me to take my bib and chip, with the promise that I would pay after the run (which I did – you don’t want to mess with race juju).

I chatted with a few fellow racers and enjoyed the conversation, in no small part because of their accents! What is it about accents that makes listening to them so enjoyable? I looked around at the group, probably about 200-strong, and was impressed by the level of athleticism I was seeing. Perhaps it was the “Olympic effect” (don’t bother Googling that, I just made it up) but these people looked like they were here to run!You know what (besides their crazy defined quads) also gave away they were serious runners? The lack of iPods – unless that is just a Canadian race thing. But I interpreted it to mean that these folks were here to race, not just go for a jog along the river with Rihanna in their ears. I thought to myself “that is pretty great, good for them for being so serious!” and then I put my earbuds in 🙂

Not an out of shape one among them!

We soon lined up and were off! The course was an out and back, which are not typically my favorite, but there was a nice loop at the turn-around point to break up some of the linear feel. The further along the Fraser River we ran, the prettier it got:

The gal in the blue top immediately struck me as something special – not only because I delight in seeing older runners, but esp because I love seeing ones hauling ass! I later learned this was Lenore Montgomery, a multiple Canadian and World record holder in her 80s. She finished this 10k in 1:02! As if the Oval was not inspiration enough, Lenore was the icing on the cake for me!

Seaplanes are definitely not something I get to see on every run!

This was the West Dyke Trail and where the course really started getting pretty. The gravel trail was quite kind to my legs, the color of the flowers popped against the cloudy sky (which never released any rain, hurray!) and the swallows flew all around us.

By Mile 4 or so, the race had thinned out enough (ie, everyone was already done, lol) that runner-free vistas like this were possible. I was happy, however, a little while later when I caught up to some racers and was able to use them as targets to help me through the last miles.

Running on vacation can get tricky. Sundays are normally a short, easy shake-out run from the previous day’s long run. I know from experience, though, that it is hard for me to jog a race. I can control myself enough not to go all out, but not enough to keep it easy-breezy. So I decided to make my “long run” on Saturday 6.5 miles and do a tempo today – combined with what we ran on Friday (normally a rest day) the mileage would add up to what I needed for the weekend but my legs would not be totally shot. My plan was to take the first three miles at a not-hard-but-not-easy pace and second 3.2 at a tempo pace, and maybe slightly higher for my current fitness level. This worked out well and my Miles 1-3 splits were 9:19, 9:06, 8:56, Miles 4-6 were 8:19, 8:22, 7:57 and last .2 7:13 for an overall pace of 8:37. I’ll take it! I am still battling feelings of feeling slower than “normal”, but then I remind myself I have only been doing speed and tempo work for 3 weeks and I should really pipe down and be happy I can handle this speed at all right now!

Post-race, my 53:48 (53:38 said Garmy) time was good enough for 4/6 in my age group, lol. The third lady was only 25 seconds ahead of me. I wish I had known! Chasing someone in your age group is such a good way to speed up! But no matter, I had a great run and felt quite pleased with the effort. I also truly enjoyed watching the speedsters fly by me (a benefit to an out and back, I think I saw the winner pass me when I was about 15 minutes into my race!) and this adorable pair, holding hands as they finished:

Cuteness overload!!

Post-race, this well-oiled machine had some great features:

Post-race food – oranges, watermelon (yum!!), cantaloupe, scones, cinnamon buns plus Starbucks coffee (perfect to warm me after the chill from damp clothes set in) and H2O in water coolers to encourage bringing reusable containers. Well done!

Very good call on the raffle winners – instead of reading names to a half empty crowd at the end and continually having to draw new names until they find someone that is still around, this race simply put them on an easel for runners to scan when they returned and claim their prize. Smart!

Overall, I give high marks for this race. The runners were very friendly, the level of competition was great to watch (the winners were at least in the low 30s – I did not see race results yet – and this was part of the Lower Mainland race series, so lots of motivation for folks to floor it) and the organization was top-notch. The course turned out to be very pretty, I loved seeing the Olympic Oval and the race staff was fantastic. My only small complaint was that the race fee ($38CAD) seemed a bit high to me when there was no t-shirt or other swag, which I especially love when I am at an out-of-town race. But that is minor in a sea of compliments. Thanks Kajaks Track & Field Club!

I am an Olympian!!! Well, almost.

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Running in Vancouver, BC: The race that wasn’t

After fueling up on an incredible meal last night at the Banana Leaf, GD and I were up and at ’em this AM, ready to take on our fellow birders in the All-Out Ostrich Uproar 5k.

We made drinking coconut water and a berry sangria extra romantic by entangling the straws. You know, because it is important to make drinking romantic.

After a moment of dismay when GD realized he left his running shorts at the hotel in Bellingham, he rallied and decided that khaki’s with a belt were just as good an option and we were off! We excitedly jogged to the start where we found…

Huh. Do birders hate running just as much as I suspected??

I didn’t expect a huge crowd but I definitely expected some crowd! After giving it a few minutes we accepted that something must have gone wrong but the beautiful morning relieved us of any disappointment. We decided we’d still salvage the run and had an awesome jaunt around the campus where we mixed looking and listening at/to towhees, bushtits (yes, non-birders, that is an actual bird name!), yellow warblers and puzzled over juvenile sparrow plumage. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t often have the pleasure of running with my hubby, so this was better than an Ostrich 5k any day!

The Kashi/GD race course was a gorgeous combination of sight-seeing and birding – we checked out the Museum of Anthropology (def going back later), the Nitobe Memorial Garden and the Main Mall of the campus.

We declared ourselves the overall male and female winners and accepted our award of birds singing all around us.

Mystery solved: My jet-lagged brain either thought today was Thursday or that I misread it to say Friday. Either way, whoopsie!!

So the race was a bust, but the morning was not. It is gorgeous here, can’t wait to explore more!

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