Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Swimming

I debated the title of this post because it makes me admit that fall is actually here.  I know that all you folks in Texas are anticipating the arrival of fall and the cooler weather it will bring.  But fall weather in the Northwest means cloudy grey skies and the beginning of 7 months of dreariness.  I knew that fall was really upon us when I went to Starbucks two weeks ago and the Pumpkin Spice Latte was back - it was a bittersweet moment.

I really wanted to go for a run yesterday after work, but alas, it was raining.  I would have put on a running hat and a wicking shirt and pushed through the mist (its what you have to do when you live in Portland), but Stephanie called and gave me a better option: swimming.  Not the fun splash-around-in-the-pool kind of swimming, but the real deal speedo-swimcap-and-goggles-in-a-lap-pool swimming.  I can't remember the last time I've actually swam for exercise, but if I had to estimate I'd say: at the Ridgewood Country Club summer kids olympics where the Brophy girls beat me every year (and then I would sulk about it and refuse to be in the picture as the "runner up" - the troubles of a 5 year old).

So Steph and I went for a swim at the Mount Scott Community Center last night and apparently I'm not quite in swimming shape.  It was tough!  During the first 2 laps, all that was running through my head was, "i can't breath. this is miserable. i bet the lifeguards are getting a kick out of my lack of swimming style. i'd rather be on the eliptical right now."  But Steph (who was a swim instructor for years) gave me some great tips on how to improve my swimming and by the end of the hour I was flipping through the water a little easier.

My big goals for this year were/are a half marathon (which I ran in July) and a full marathon (which I'm running in October).  Next year, it's a triathalon (a mini triathalon).  And I'll have the whole dreary fall and winter to splash around and train in the pool.

my childhood swim coach

my first pair of swim goggles

summers at Ridgewood - those were the days!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Olympic National Park

This past weekend consisted of a lot of time in the Great Outdoors.  My friends Alan, Scott and I decided to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and go backpacking/camping in Olympic National Park in Washington.  We headed North on 1-5 Friday afternoon, veered West on 101 through Sequim (the sunniest city in the Pacific Northwest) and made it to the Sol Duc trailhead on the North side of the park by nightfall.  Exhausted from the long ride, we quickly threw all of our bags and gear in the front two seats, lay down the back seats, threw down our sleeping bags, and camped in the car for the night.

Awakened by the sun the next morning, we got up, made oatmeal and coffee with Alan's nifty camping stove and french press, packed up our things, threw on our packs and started the hike "into the wild".  It took about 3.5 hours to cover the 8.5 mile hike to Appleton Pass where we decided to settle.  We nabbed an incredible camp site with stunning views, set up camp (actually, the boys set up camp while I stretched out in the sun) and explored the area.

Once we were in the park with no turning back, the boys informed me that Olympic National Park is known as Bear Country (a much wilder Bear Country than Waco, TX).  You're required to either store your food in a bear canister or hang it on a bear wire to keep bears from disturbing your campsite.  Alan and Scott crafted their own bear wire by climbing into some trees, tying a rope between the branches and hanging our bag of food high in the air out of reach of the bears.  It was actually pretty impressive!

Sunday (which just happened to be my 25th birthday) was a wonderful day!  We slept in, had some more delicious oatmeal and coffee, went for a beautiful hike where we climbed every peak we came upon, and had a relaxing afternoon napping and reading outside.  We made a warm dinner of polenta, sausage, peppers, onions and mushrooms (maybe not the birthday dinner I would have picked back home, but still yummy) and the boys were sweet enough to pack a little birthday treat for me (a smooshed zebra cake) which they put a candle in and sang Happy Birthday to me.  We made hot cocoa (a delicious treat to warm us up from the freezing wind), played cards in the tent, then dropped in our sleeping bags content from a perfect day.

We woke up on Monday morning to the blowing rain.  We forced ourselves out of our (somewhat) dry tents into the nasty mist, ate a quick breakfast, tore down the tents, stuffed our packs and started the long hike out of the wild.  I have to admit, I kept a swift pace trying to get out of the rain and back to the car.  Yes, the scenery was gorgeous, but my clothes were wet and I hadn't showered in 3 days.  I can't say that I wasn't excited to get back to civilization and drive to the nearest Starbucks for a triple grande pumpkin spice latte (nonfat, no whip, 3 pumps, extra hot with foam).

So I survived my first backpacking trip and would do it again in a heartbeat!  So many places to explore, not enough time!

A Quarter Century Old
Thank you for all of the sweet birthday wishes!  I'm sorry I wasn't able to actually answer calls and return messages on my birthday.  I honestly kept forgetting that it was my birthday on Sunday because I was disconnected from the rest of the world.  I brought along the birthday cards I had received before I left on Friday and opened them while sitting in the wilderness on Sunday afternoon.  And I loved turning on my phone on Monday evening and listening to all the voicemails and reading the text messages from my great friends and family.  This 25th year of my life is off to a great start!