Monday, July 29, 2013

A very nice run

Today is our last day on Whidbey Island, WA. We have certainly enjoyed the weather with lows of about 55 and highs of 70-75. It has been nice to be able to run at anytime during the day without having to worry about the temperature. I *am going to die* when I return to the heat and humidity of Hattiesburg, MS.

For today's run, I did not feel like fighting the hills and traffic or risk getting lost so I went to the track to zone out. I started out with a mile walk on the sidewalks surrounding the school and track. There was a sign posted on the track welcoming the general public but asking that we use lanes 6, 7, and 8. That was fine with me because I could just rely on my Garmin and run how I felt.

Surprise! Surprise! I ran 3.5 miles @ 9:54 pace. That is the fastest non-race pace that I have had in a very long time.

After broken ribs, severe bronchitic and two of the slowest 5Ks that I have run, I have not been feeling very good about my ever getting back my speed. We have been on this road trip for almost six weeks and I have really increased my mileage, but have only done a couple of speed sessions. On Saturday I did a 5K race at a respectable 9:22 pace and after today's workout, I am motivated.

We will continue on this trip for at least 2-3 weeks and I am going to  to work on getting my weekly mileage up to 27-30. I will also try for a weekly long run of 6-8 miles and one speed session.

Now is the time that I need to be careful. I do have a tendency to ramp things up too quickly and the old hamstring/piriformis issue returns. I hate to even write about that for fear that I will jinx myself.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Recovery/Discovery Run and Breakfast

Yesterday I raced a 5K @ 9:22 pace and I knew that if I were to run today, it needed to be very slow. That fit right in with where we are now located. We are at an RV park at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, WA and if any of you have ever been here, you know the beauty of the area.

The Deception Pass bridge is about a mile away and directly across from us is the state park. On Friday I had walked/run in the park, but I had taken the right turn that had lots of hills and not any views of the water. So today I took the left turn and was rewarded with beautiful views and not too many hills. I had a very enjoyable and very slow 3.25 mile run and I also walked 1.5 miles.

The highlight of the day has been the breakfast that we enjoyed at the Oak Harbor VFW. We like to partake in these community meals and although we had to wait quite a long time for our food, today's experience was very good. For $4.00 I had hot tea, scrambled eggs, a thick slice of ham, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy. 

This afternoon we are in Oak Harbor where Hollie did a long bike ride and I walked around the historic area and the marina. Later, when we get back to the RV Park, I plan to walk down and across the bridge. Hopefully, I can get some good pictures to post to the blog. 

Hollie Ran The Entire 5K

Hollie and I ran a 5K in Anacortes, WA this morning. The race started at 9:00 am with the temperature about 60-65 degrees. Since his severe ankle injury (now has 2-3 steel plates and 10-12 screws), this the first 5K that he has run the entire distance. I'm not sure of his time, but if they had age groups, he would have won. 

I have many excuses as to why I did not run faster. I did not taper. I haven't been doing consistent speed work, I did a speed session on Thursday. I could go on and on. But the reality is that I m pleased with my time. Since fracturing ribs early in the year and then having severe bronchitis, it seems like it has taken me forever to get back my usual fitness base. I do still have pain in the rib area, but that does not impact my running. It does prevent me from doing some of my usual weight lifting.

Enough about all that. I am happy to be racing! I would have been 1 or 2 in the AG with a time of 29:07. I really wanted to get down into the 28 something, but the course had a couple of 1/4 to 1/2 mile segments on sidewalk that had some unevenness which caused me to be slower (cautious) on those sections.

There was a 62 year old youngster who was faster than I so if it were 5 year age groups, I would have won and would have been 2nd if they had 10 year age groups. There were over 200 in the 5K and I'm not sure how many more in the 10K and Half Marathon. I'm guessing there were 500-700 total racers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aberdeen, OR to Port Angeles, WA to Port Townsend, WA

Aberdeen to Port Angeles to Port Townsend

I was more than anxious to leave Aberdeen. As I previously wrote, this town was a bit scary with lots of panhandlers, run-down neighborhoods and a general feeling of having seen its better day. I have since learned that Aberdeen was once a very thriving community and was a major area for wood/lumber processing. For various reasons, the large operations moved to other locations and the town went bust. It does seem to be making a come back with many buildings being rehabilitated and more attention being paid to parks and other public use areas.

It probably did not help that we were boondocking in the Walmart parking lot. All the state parks were filled and we were too cheap to pay the unrealistic prices for shabby campgrounds.

On Sunday, after leaving Aberdeen, we drove to Port Angeles, WA. The last part of the drive took us around Crystal Lake which is a very deep glacial lake with the typical colors that we had previously seen in the fjords of Alaska.
When we arrived in Port Angeles, we were surprised to see so many big ships. We soon learned that Port Angeles is a huge center for exporting wood. In my previous blog entry, I wrote about that.

We did enjoy our three days in PA. There was a very nice trail that ran along the waterfront and I did one of my “discovery” run/walks. PA also had a very nice Family Y and we did our weight workouts and showered there. They also had a nice WI-FI Hotspot where I was able to catch up on Facebook and email.

On Tuesday we took the ferry to Victoria for the day. Basically, we spent the day in Victoria touring BC Parliament and walking all around the town. In my previous blog entry, I wrote in detail about this trip. Now, I am including some pictures.

Wednesday we drove from PA to Port Townsend. We are so impressed with this place that we made a change in plans so that we will now stay here two nights. This is a beautiful city with a wonderful old downtown and lots of very beautiful old homes. We are staying at the county fairgrounds which has an 80 site campground. It’s nothing fancy, but we do have electric, water and showers.

Yesterday afternoon I did a 7 mile “discovery” run/walk. I had planned to stay within the downtown area, but there were so many people and cars that I ended up running in residential areas which were very hilly. After we finished our workout, we went to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market and enjoyed looking at all the local produce, baked goods, cheeses, etc. We purchased some cookies and apple cake and went to the Safeway Starbucks for our post exercise refreshments.

Today at 11:00 am when we went out for our workout, we were greeted with fog rolling in over our campground. It quickly dissipated and a few minutes later we had a cloudless day with the temperatures 70-75 degrees. 

There was a nice track that was almost exactly a mile from the campground. We walked there for our warmup and then did a speed workout. I'm not sure what Hollie did but I ran a total of 4.5 miles, including 4 x 600 @ 8:48. I am pleased with that, because my day to day running pace has been so slow, I had my doubts that I could maintain anything under 10 minute pace. 

After our workout, we took a driving tour of the older area of Port Townsend. Some of these homes are amazing, having been built in the late 1800s and still having their original window glass and some even had lots of stained glass. I know for sure, I would not want to paint any of these. The wood detail and variety of colors would be very difficult and very time consuming to paint.

After the drive, we walked around the old downtown shopping are which is along the waterfront. Most people like the shopping, but Hollie and I are more interested in the history and architecture of the buildings. I did make one purchase---homemade donuts. We are now at a Starbucks enjoying those with our afternoon coffee.

We will be here until 11:00 am on tomorrow when we will take our trailer onto a ferry to Whidbey Island where we will stay for at least three nights.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day Trip To Victoria, BC

We arrived in Port Angeles, WA on Sunday and have been checking out the sights, enjoying beautiful weather and running/biking the Waterfront/Discovery Trail. Once again we are boondocking in the Walmart parking lot and using the local YMCA for doing our weight workout and showering.

This area is a huge operation for shipping logs overseas. It has been very interesting to watch how they bring logs in on trucks, unload them, strip them of bark, reload on a truck and take them a short distance where they are then loaded on the ship. We were told that most of the wood from this area will be going to Japan for the tsunami rebuilding. I can tell you for sure that this is very dangerous work. It is like watching a kid operating a machine and picking up sticks, shaking them or dropping them and then picking them up until they have the load situated to their liking. If one log moves, the whole load moves. I guess they know what they are doing, but I bet there are lots of accidents.

Today we took the 90 minute ferry ride to Victoria, BC. What a beautiful city! The first thing we did was tour parliament. They were in session and we got to sit in the gallery and observe some of their discussions. This is a really beautiful building with beautiful architecture (designed in the late 1800s by a 25 year old young man) and wonderful stained glass. I took lots of pictures and will add these tomorrow.

After parliament, we walked all over the downtown, ending up in Chinatown which is the oldest Chinese settlement in Canada. Had it been later in the day or if we had been hungry, we would have eaten there. As it was, we probably walked 7-8 miles and my feet/legs were tired. Isn't it strange how I can run close to that distance, yet be more fatigued from walking?

Tomorrow we will be in Port Townsend, WA. On Thursday we will take a car ferry to Whidbey Island, WA where we will stay one night in a state park and three nights in a nice campground. I'm looking forward to the luxury of staying someplace other than a Walmart parking lot, although you can't beat the price.

Check back in a day or two and I will try to post pictures.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Boondocking in the Walmart Parking Lot

It's not the most desirable place to spend the night, but there are times when we have no other option or we are too cheap to pay for campgrounds. That has been the case last night and will be tonight here at the Walmart in Aberdeen, WA. We were in the company of 6-7 other RVers and it was fairly quiet and the price cannot be beat.

This is a big lumber area and is what is truly a "working man's" community. The area seems to be going through some hard times with more pan-handlers than I have seen any place other than San Francisco.

Our Family Y membership really came in handy yesterday and today. We could not find a path or roads where we thought we could safely run or bike, so we worked out at the Y both days. An added benefit is that we are able to shower at the Y. Since we are boondocking, even though we have a small shower in our trailer, we do not like to use it. We do have a gas stove and our lights can run off battery power. We also have a small toilet, with a holding tank that is adequate for at least 3-5 days (maybe more but we have not tried that) on any of our trips.

This morning we drove about 20 miles to Ocean Shores and I think we are very spoiled with the beauty of the MS and FL beaches which are so close to home. Although the wave action makes the WA and OR coast very beautiful to view, I can't say much for actually spending time on these beaches. It could have something to do with the temperature being 56 degrees here this morning.

Tomorrow we will continue up Highway 101. We may have slim pickings as far as state or Federal campgrounds, but if we can't find an RV park/campground, we can usually find a safe spot to just pull over and sleep. This type of travel would not suit everyone, but Hollie and I have worked out most of the issues that we face and we manage to have a great time simply exploring areas.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Westport, WA

We are now in Westport, WA at Twin Harbors State Park. I just finished a nice 5 mile run on the Dunes Trail

This trail runs from the Westport harbor, along the coast 2.5 miles, to the Westport Lighthouse. Today's running plan called for a 4 mile run, but I really wanted to see the lighthouse so I ran the 2.5 miles, walked around the lighthouse and then ran back. I averaged 11:08 per mile going out and 10:40 coming back (into the wind) so go figure.

Last night we treated ourselves to eating out at a pizza joint. We've been eating so many sandwiches and other "throw together" meals that it was very nice to get the pizza that I have been craving. We had pineapple/canadian bacon and it was delicious.

Tomorrow night and Saturday, we will be "boon docking" in the Walmart parking lot in Aberdeen, WA. Since all the campgrounds are full, we have no other choice. We will be returning to the state parks on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Now Heading up the Washington Coast

We just spent our third night at Fort Stevens State Park in Northern Oregon. This is probably the nicest state park that we have stayed in. It has it all---forest, hike/bike asphalt trails, a large lake, historic areas, Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. I have really enjoyed walking and running as I have explored most all these areas.

Tuesday night, we cooked what was supposed to be hamburgers over the campfire. Hollie had bought these frozen patties and when I put them on the grill, I was wondering why they looked so much lighter than what we usually cook. Once they were ready and I bite into my “burger” I soon realized this was something different. I then looked at the box and saw that we were eating mushroom and cheese pork patties. The nutritional information said each patty had 480 calories and 40% RDA of sodium. I usually eat two burgers, but one of these was enough. I would have rather had beef patties, but just about anything cooked over a campfire is tasty and these were OK, but the pork and beans were even better. So much for allowing Hollie to do the grocery shopping.

I have been running most every day on this trip and I have upped my weekly mileage. yesterday morning I was ready to try some speed work and with the temperature of 58 degrees and intermittent light rain, I had a really good workout. I ran 4.5 miles, including 6 x 400 @ 9:36 pace. That is way slower than my usual speed, but since it has been about 6 weeks since I done anything like that, I am satisfied. It is a starting point and I am going to try to continue weekly speed, do a long run of 6 plus miles and cover 3-5 miles the other days. That will be a good return to training and if I can do that while on this road trip, I will have a good training base for the Fall race calendar.

Today we will drive about 90 miles up the coast to a Washington State Park in Twin Harbors. We’ll be there for at least two nights as we work our way up the Washington coast.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Road Trip West 2013

I am currently experiencing very slow internet and am unable to post pictures. I will attempt to do that later.

We are now into day 24 of our road trip which began on June 20. Since leaving Hattiesburg, MS, we have driven nearly 4000 miles. We have endured temperatures as high as 124 degrees and as low as 50 degrees.

As most of you know, we have a 19 foot Scamp 5th wheel travel trailer which we pull with a 2012 Toyota Tundra. The trailer is made of fiberglass and is very light and easy to tow. It is also very small and most people probably would not be able to tolerate that. Prior to purchasing this trailer, we had a 16 foot Scamp, but quickly realized that we wanted a separate sleeping area because it was just too much of a hassle to constantly convert the dining table into a bed which was not as big as a standard double.

In 2011, we took the 16 footer to Alaska and when we had completed our time there, we sold it and immediately drove to Backus, MN to pick up the 5th wheel. This one has a separate sleeping loft with a nearly queen sized bed. This trailer has now twice been to the Florida Keys and also made a trip to Alaska as well as numerous shorter trips. From this, you can see that the Scamp product works well for us.

I had planned on keeping and posting a daily blog for this trip, but due to us mostly overnighting in areas where we did not have electricity and the fact that we have not usually had internet access, I have not kept the blog. Truthfully, today is really the first day that I have had some “down” time in order to work on this. We are staying four consecutive nights at a very nice campground in Newport, OR. This will be our last night here, so I want to get this posted before we head to more remote areas.

Our trailer is such that we have enough in our fresh water tank and enough battery capacity and holding tank capacity that we can go 3-5 days without hookups. When we are in US Forest Service Campgrounds, we do not have showers, but we have become quite creative with solving this issue. Although we do have a shower in the trailer, it is small and messy so we rarely use it. We just take sponge baths or outdoor faucet showers. We also stop at local YMCAs to workout and then shower. Like I said, this type of travel is not for everyone.

During our route planning, our first goal was to make it to Carlsbad, NM, then to the South Rim of the GC and on to Bullhead City, AZ to visit Hollie’s sister. We try to stay off interstates because we like to drive 55-57 MPH in order to get better gas mileage and reduce the wear and tear on the trailer and tires. We also simply like to see the country side and just stop whenever and wherever we see something of interest. We do not make reservations and we travel on the cheap, staying in state parks, forest service areas, National parks and parking lots such as Wal-mart. We rarely eat out, just eat whatever we can put together on that particular night.

Rather than posting a day to day summery of our travels, I will just hit the highlights and moving forward, I will try to do better with regular posting.

Here is a summary of our trip thus far:

June 20 – Gladewater, TX at Antique City RV Park. We have stayed here before and it is quite nice with a small track nearby where we could run or it is safe to run the roads.

June 21 – Abeline, TX KOA. This is where I began to realize how important it is to stay hydrated. I went out for a run and by the time I got back I was so hot I just took off my shoes and jumped in the pool. Thankfully, there was no one around to see me do this.

June 22 – Carlsbad, NM –This was one of the worst “Good Sams” parks that we have ever stayed in. Due to the oil and gas development boom that is taking place in this area, the place was full of workers and it was way over-priced. We really had no choice since it was so hot that we had to have hookups for our AC.

As usual, we wanted to get our daily exercise. It was not a good day. By the time we got ready to head out, the temp was still in the high 90s and the winds were very high. There was an asphalt trail close by so Hollie went out to ride his Catrike and I wanted to run. Neither of us did very well. I ended up doing a walk/run and it’s a good thing that we each carry our cell phones. I was about 2 miles away from the trailer when Hollie called to tell me that he had not one, not two, but three flats. He really did not know where he was, so I told him I would go back to the trailer and then call him to determine a plan of action. Once again, I was somewhat dehydrated and it was still hot with the high winds. It took me quite awhile to get back to the trailer. When I called Hollie he told me where he was and I drove (with the trailer hooked up to the truck) out to get him. This was quite an experience since it was the first time I had driven with trailer  in a city, but I did OK. After picking him up, he told me that he had run over a patch of sand burrs which will really mess up bike tires. People who ride in these areas have special tires and tubes, which he obviously did not have.

The next morning we went to the Caverns and took two tours---one self-guided and one with a guide. We have previously toured Mammoth Cave in KY and Blanchard Springs Caverns in AR and I think of the three, Blanchard is the best.

After our tours, we hit the road, making it to Alamogordo, NM.

June 23 – Alamogordo, NM – When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to Wal-mart to get gas and ended up buying a car. Sitting in the lot was a beautiful 2000 red Corvette t-top. As I was admiring it, the owners came out and one thing led to another and although we did not immediately make the deal, a couple of days later we called them and did just that. It is in great condition with only 73,000 miles. We sent them a deposit check and we will pick up the car in a month or so when we head for home.

We stayed the night at a Good Sams park which had recently opened. It was very nice and we will probably stay again on our way home. Just across from it is a pistachio farm. We toured that and learned how pistachios came to the area.

June 24 – Winslow, AZ – Since I have previously experienced “standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ” there was not much to report other than we stayed in the Wal-mart parking lot and we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets.

June 25 & 26 – South Rim Grand Canyon –We did not have reservations at either of the park campgrounds, but we lucked out and got two nights at Trailer Village.

As most of you know, I am a Grand Canyon nut, having done 8-10 overnight hikes. Until this trip, Hollie had never been below the rim. His entire adult life he has worked at overcoming his fear of heights and every time he had attempted to go below the rim, he was unable to make it more than a few steps. He told me that he has been working on overcoming this fear and this time, he did fine.

Shortly after arriving on the 25th, we hiked down to the 1.5 mile house on the Bright Angel Trail. Then, on the 26th, we hiked to Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail. Hollie was now hooked and he wanted to try to snag a cancelled reservation at Phantom Ranch in the bottom of the canyon. Due to a water break which impacted water availability, they were not allowing any mule trips or new reservations. Eventually, they went 4 days before the break was repaired so we were unable to make that hike. It’s probably a good thing since I was not prepared to hike that distance.

June 27, 28, & 29 – Bullhead City, AZ – The only reason we stayed those 3 nights here is so that we could visit with Hollie’s sister. We opted to stay at an RV resort so that we would have access to an exercise room because with high temps of 118-124, it is very difficult to exercise outside. On our last day, I did get up early and do a 3.5 mile run when the temp was in the low 90s. Our trailer AC barely kept up during the day, but it worked OK at night. Our fridge did not keep up. It simply good not cool with temps that high.

June 30 – Lone Pine, CA – We have previously been through Death Valley and with our worry about tire issues in such high heat, we took a longer route that provided somewhat cooler temps. Rather than being 134 degrees (temp that day in Death Valley) we chose to take the interstate to Barstow and then North to Lone Pine where we stayed in a very nice RV resort. While on the interstate, we saw numerous vehicles on the side of the road with blowouts. Tires, when driven at high speeds in this heat just cannot perform as expected. We were extra careful, driving slow and making frequent inspection stops.

July 1, 2, 3, 4 – Lone Pine, CA to Truckee, CA to Redding, CA to Eureka, CA to Crescent City, CA – Each of these nights were spent in US Forest Service campgrounds. Our cost ranged from free to $10 and we were quite comfortable in these beautiful settings where the temps were low enough at night that we were OK without AC. A couple of these parks were in the redwoods and it was absolutely beautiful. At one of the remote areas, we took a 3 mile hike along a river and really enjoyed viewing the variety of trees and other vegetation. We also had a campfire and cooked our traditional hot dog meal.

July 5, 6, 7 – Oregon Highway 101 (Pacific Coast Highway) – From my research, I knew that there were many state and federal parks along this highway and that is where we have been staying. This is such a scenic area with direct views of the ocean and the coastline Thus far, we have seen four lighthouses.

The exact location escapes my memory, but at one of these state parks, we toured a garden that had some of the most beautiful roses that I have ever seen.

July 8 – South of Florence, OR on Highway 101 – We spent last night in a USFS campground. During the day, we drove to Eugene, OR (track capitol of the world) so that Hollie could see Hayward Field and run on Pre’s Trails. I have previously done that so I chose to do a treadmill run at the Y where I could shower after my workout.

July 9 – Second night in USFS campground South of Florence, OR. We are in the heart of the sand dune area. The largest dune is over 500 feet high and over a mile long. The area north of Coos Bay (home of Steve Prefontaine) and up to Florence is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area where people bring dune buggies and other four wheel and two wheel sand toys and charge up, down and around the dunes. I have never seen so many of these things. The age of the riders/drivers range from barely able to walk to old geezers. There are many state parks or recreation areas devoted to the use of these toys.

July 10-13 – Newport, OR – We are getting big taste of civilization, staying at a very nice RV park at the Port of Newport. We are within walking distance of the harbor, an aquarium, a marine science center were we observed the feeding of an octopus, and lots of hike and bike trails. My first order of business was to do laundry and I was very surprised that the cost was only $1 for washer and $1 for dryer (45 minutes) which is the least we have paid on any of our trips.

While in Newport, we have taken some short trips up the coast and on one day, Hollie drove over to Corvallis to see Oregon State University. He has this thing that if he is close to a major university, he makes the effort to see it. Me---I stayed at the campground and enjoyed some alone/quiet time.

Just North of Newport, there are two lighthouses. We drove to one and were rewarded with sightings of sea lions and thousands of birds that make their home along this shore.

The only negative about this area is the high wind that begins about 11:00 am and continues throughout the day. We have been biking or running each day, but it has been difficult. Yesterday I went on one of what I call a run/walk exploration and I ended up discovering an asphalt trail that was in woods and protected from the wind. Those of you in other areas of the country would be surprised that ou high temps have been about 60-65 and low temps about 50. That wind makes it feel so much colder and I have been running in short tights, long sleeve shirt, windbreaker and gloves. Depending on the wind direction, I sometimes remove the gloves and the windbreaker.

Today will be a rest day from running, but I plan to walk back to that wooded trail and take a trail that leads down to a beach that is in a protected inlet. We have yet to really spend any time on the beach and I certainly need to do that.

Yesterday evening, we drove up the coast to an area called Otter Crest. This is an area with many views of the ocean and home of a famous “hole in the wall” restaurant called Mo’s Place. The food was wonderful. Hollie had clam chowder bread bowl and I had slumgullion bread bowl. We shared a shrimp stuffed avocado. When we walked out of the place, Hollie glanced toward the ocean and spotted a whale puffing. We then spent 15-20 minutes watching 2-4 whales.

Tomorrow we will be driving about 120 miles up the coast to Ft Stevens State Park where we will stay at least two nights. I am sure there will be many more great scenes as we make our way along one of the most beautiful drives in the US.