Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

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 – 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?


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel, What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

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.


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Race Reports, Travel

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!


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel

Running in Bellingham, Washington

Washington has been checked off the state list!! What a gorgeous morning for a run – crystal blue skies, no humidity and temps in the mid-60s! I set out for a jet lagged 6 miles, but I felt surprisingly good by the end and was able to get in a few tempo miles. I plotted a course that was mostly suburban/city roads with some nature mixed in. Perfect!

Drive-thru coffee places were the theme of the morning! Quite densely packed in this sweet little city.

Beautiful buildings mixed old with new. New court house…

…and old whatever this was. Ran by, could not tell, lol.

Sometimes pearls of wisdom show up in the most unlikely of places.

If we didn’t have to high-tail it to Vancouver this morning, I would have come back to this park and luxuriated in its beauty all day.

I wound up tempo-ing it through this park, so this was my last pic. But take my word for it, the trees were so inspiring, cheering me on and pushing me faster than I thought possible today (don’t get too excited, this was Kashi fast, not Meb fast!).

I usually take Fridays off from running, but at the NAOC conference we are at (GD is presenting a poster) we found out there is a 5k race tomorrow morning, the 27th running of race for birders!!! Could it get any better? Stay tuned to find out when, for the first time, everyone I run with will also be into birds.  BIRD NERDS LACE UP AND UNITE!


Filed under Pacific Northwest, Travel