Friday, March 23, 2012

My feet hurt

My Obligatory Cannon Beach Haystack Rock @ Sunset Photograph
. . . and my face is tanned.

A quick long weekend getaway down to Cannon Beach.

This is the first time that we have visited the Oregon Coast and we are finding it spectacular. Cannon Beach itself is a rather nice place, all the more pleasant by the fact that the summer crowds (or the Spring Break ones) have yet to materialize.

We left Seattle on a brilliantly sunny morning and headed down to Portland where we spent some time in the Portland Art Museum as a bit of a break but also to see the Rothko exhibit they are hosting. We had just seen the play "Red" at Seattle Rep and were rather keen on seeing the real paintings. It was neat to see the progression of his earliest of works to his more mature pieces, many of which were discussed in the play. They also have an exhibit by John Frame whose work is kind of eerie and disturbing and, at the same time, fascinatingly compelling. I am still thinking about some of the pieces and scenes.

The weather on the way from Portland to Cannon Beach turned nasty and I thought "Uh Oh! Here goes the weekend" especially as partly sunny skies became drizzly, the drizzle turned to steady rain, which became quite heavy, which and finally morphed into snow coming out of deep, ominously grey clouds. The temperature dropped from the mid'50's to the mid'30's in the space of ten miles. This made driving a bit dicey and I was more than glad of the Subaru's ability to stick to the road.

We dodged a bullet.

Still grey when we pulled into the Cannon Beach Hotel parking lot but to the West it looked as if the sun was going to push through. This is a nice place. Our room is small, cozy, and comfortable but lacks a view so it is not a place we'd likely spend much time in unless confined there during a storm. There is an inviting lobby and common dining area, a good place to sit an read a book. But, though we have a great many books with us, we are not here to read books per se but to see the beach and explore the coast. So that is what we did, taking the first of our beach walks to see the sunset (the first in a week apparently) and to chat with a volunteer from the Haystack Rock Awareness Program, whom I stumped momentarily by asking if the rock was a sea stack or a volcanic plug (it is the former and now I know the difference).

Something on the light side for dinner so our front desk person suggested Sweet Basil's Cafe (about a .7 mile walk from the hotel) and, boy, are we glad she did.  Kind of a funky beach shack conversion interior whose food reflects that feel too, and in a very good way. I had a chicken pot pie deconstruction that hit the spot after all this driving and walking around. Chicken and veggies in a  medium gravy flavored just right with a rather large puff pastry placed on the top. M had a Crab Salad which she enjoyed hugely. I know this because she ate the whole thing and was making yummy sounds throughout. Everything is cooked to order by one guy. Our server was great. Suggested wine pairings for each entree. But here is the best part. As we were dining so late he let us finish the bottles of wine and also gave us a wonderful dessert wine to go with the homemade chocolate cake (OMG!) we had after. Neither of us are used to treatment like this and it was really, really nice.

Needless to say, our walk back to the hotel was a bit wobbly.

Woke up this morning to blue skies and frost on the cars. It was 35 degrees with a windchill down to 29 and all I had to run in was shorts and shirts. Hmm. But it was sunny and the wind wasn't bad so I headed out for what I thought would be a very short jaunt but which turned out to be 5.3 miles of sheer bliss. It was cold to be sure but the sun felt oh-so-good on my face, legs, hands, and (eventually) my arms. Spent some time playing with form and actually managed to stop my shoulders down a bit and found myself running more comfortably.


Walked back into town after negotiating a rather interesting shower (this is one of those small circular curtain showers that I have trouble fitting into but which lend a certain old fashioned charm). Should we eat at Pig and Pancake from which many bacony smells emanated? Nah! We found Crepe Neptune where I ate this and M ate that as we chatted with the owner who was surrounded by containers of Nutella (very popular with the kiddies). The owners had been making crepes at the Farmer's Market since 2008 as a hobby and decided they liked it well enough to open a restaurant. I am glad that he did.

It was he who suggested that we head south and, perhaps, climb Neahkahnie Mountain as it was such a nice day. Yep! Let's make the most of it as it is such a nice day. Quick stop at the visitor's center for a map and some advice and we were off, down the 101 to the appropriate parking area. Or would have been had the signs been at all relevant. Drove way past, turned around, and guessed. We opted for the route on the Oregon Coast Trail that leads along to the mountain trail. This would add 1.3 mile or so to the trek but was really quite pretty.

There was a suspension bridge to play on, a tree to walk through, lots of climbing, and spectacular views of the coastline. Devil's Cauldron was amazing to see:

We went out and back in about 2.5 hours and I kept on thinking about how challenging and spectacular a trail run this would be. Any of my readers game to take this on?

So, let's summarize thus far: 5.3 miles + 1.4 miles + 3 miles = 9.7 miles (and all before lunch)

We decided to see something more of the coast and headed south and ended up having tacos while sitting in the sun at Left Coast Siesta in Manzanita. Pretty substantial and very, very tasty. So far I have not been disappointed in anything I have experienced or eaten this trip.

Going further down coast, enjoying the sunshine and the views, and all the small towns (Garibaldi?) we aimed for the Tillamook Air Museum which is contained in a former WWII blimp hanger. An impressive collection, many of which I had never seen AND which are airworthy. We even got to sit in a trainer for an F8-Crusader fighter. Quite comfortable but also very, very complicated. However do pilots keep track of all these gauges and switches? I had enough trouble in a Mazda 3. The blimp hanger could hold 9 airships and is just an amazing feat of construction. Very, very chilly in there though.

On the way back up-coast M wanted to stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory visitor's center. A nice break for some ice cream samples and we were away back up to Cannon Beach.

Out of the car. Quick stop in the room and then off for another beach walk which turned into going out to dinner. So add another 5-6 miles to the day for 14-15 miles of walking, climbing, hiking, and running.

Subtle sunset (see above).

Dinner at Bill's Tavern Brew House (Hippies go to the side door) where we both had a pint of their Cherry Porter (smooth and kind of light for a Porter but very, very tasty), listened to the top-10 countdown from 1981 on the radio (!!!!), and otherwise tried to take stock of the day over a nice repast. It is Friday now and the town is filling up for the weekend. Even so, getting a table was not a problem. Then back to Sweet Basil's Cafe for a nice dessert (mixed berry pie home made by a 78 year old grand ma) before wandering the .7 miles back to the hotel.


Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer than today but overcast and with a 20% chance of rain. We'll see what we manage to do.

Feet don't fail me now!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My week from . . .

The quarter is winding down and students are all thinking about Spring Break (as am I), the weather has shifted towards a more spring pattern (which means it is often unsettled, and frequently violent), and our neighbor's cherry trees have already blossomed. Transitions. 

I am now at about 8 hours of working out per week and this includes some combination of swimming, biking, running, and core workouts. I'll be ramping up as we head into the spring and the beginning of race season. I seem to be handing this increase alright. Never-the-less, this has been a rather strange week.

Monday was a short run of 3.5 miles followed by a 200 Med Ball workout, an especially short but impactful core strengthening workout. The run, an early spring run, had just about every sort of weather you can think of—snow, sleet, wind, sun, rain, etc., all in three short miles. I was freezing by the time I got home and it took a bit for my hands to be able to hold the free weights. 

Tuesday was my last "official" day of classes—official advising appointments later in the week for which I have to cancel classes—and it was a long day of talking about IR theory and popular culture and the politics of obedience and disobedience via Plato, Thoreau, King, Gandhi, and Rawls. Truly a fun way to end the quarter. Scrambled to get some admin stuff done before leaving TLF. 

Scheduled for an evening track workout. Five miles (2-mile warm-up, 2 miles speed work, 1 mile cool down). It was a pretty cold evening, low forties to upper thirties actually, with a slight but chilling breeze. Left the club house with everyone and then stopped to use on the bathrooms along the way and then started off again. Pretty soon my chest started tightening. OK. I coughed a bit. Normally that helps. Not this time. Hmm. Just kept on tightening and tightening. Time for the inhaler. Oops! It is in my run bag which is locked in the Club House. Crap. OK, I'll slow down. Slow down. Chest gets tighter. Walk a bit. Better. Walk a bit more. Better. Run. Tighter and tighter. I did that all the way to the track. Ran up to Coach, grabbed her by the shoulder for support, and said I couldn't breath. Not good. Used another runner's inhaler. That helped. Walked around a bit on Coach's recommendation as my HR was still over 100 while just standing around. Felt OK. Trotted around the track a bit. Whole chest started hurting. Coughed. Decided to call it a night. Ran very slowly back with another runner.  

That was no fun and I was worried about next day's swim. 

Wednesday I found that I was much better than last night, and thankfully so. That was no fun and I don't care to repeat it. A friend said there was wood smoke in the air, perhaps that was the trigger although I don't recall smelling it until I got to the track. Could have been the cold air too, that was a real problem for me growing up. 

I slept very hard and through the whole night, woke up right after 6 and the radio. Chest was hurting but not badly and it stopped once I started moving around and walking the dog. No worries. Off to swim. 

Pool was pretty crowded when I got there but I managed a lane with two other guys who were speedy, sort of (just the kind of "sort of" that I needed today). 2300 rather vigorous yards including some 800 yards of 50's on the X—4X50 fast, 4X50 super fast, 4X50 fast, repeat. Almost ran over one of the guys I was swimming with during my first super-fast 4X50. Hard going BUT I can feel that all the work is paying off as I felt faster in the water overall, even when kicking in the crawl. Quite a spirit lifter. :-)

Legs and adductors are still a bit sore but not bad. Spent some time stretching this evening. I am not getting sick. Whew! 

OK. I can handle that. 

Thursday was just weird. Of course the buzz is all about Kony2012 this week and that really does put my travails into perspective. Interesting conversations with students about all this and lots to think about regarding the power of Social Media as well. This will be a case study if I teach my Tech and Politics class this coming summer. 

Scheduled for four easy and I am looking forward to it. I find myself continually puzzled at the fact that TLF thinks I am capable adequately advise students into Physics but I do manage to engage a young man who cannot look at me but does so as soon as I ask him about his favorite music to illustrate an example. He likes "Tool" but had been listening to Zeppelin of late. Then is it lunch time and off I go in search of some healthy food. 

Walking to the cafeteria I am struck rather hard in the right leg (knee and lower leg) by a student buzzing along in a powered wheel chair. Ha! What are the odds? And, what I am I going to do? Kind of a Seinfeldian moment. I should yell at him but in doing so would be slightly tone deaf as it were. My leg is in pain and I silently limp away from the kid's mumbled apologies. My inner monologue is alive with most uncomplimentary thoughts (walking at TLF is a "Frogger" like exercises only instead of cars its rollaboards). Mostly I am worried about what might have happened to my leg. 

It is funny too, though, and I make everyone laugh back at the monastery of advising when recounting the episode. What are the odds? I ask this again. 

Decide to cancel my run in favor of icing and GVB calls me a wimp. 

Friday is a day off too so I was able to rest the leg more. No bruising or anything. Some puffiness and soreness but it seems solid and stable. Ate, badly but tastily, at McMenamins before seeing Red at the Seattle Rep (very good by the way, highly recommend it especially to you Rothko fans out there). 

Saturday dawned early and grey. I had a great run in the neighborhood. I was worried a bit about my leg after the wheel chair incident but things were fine. Just some adductor twingeing but that is all. Woke up early and naturally and so had plenty of time to run, come home, shower, breakfast, and then get out to Mercer Island. 

The swim was really fun. I can tell that I am getting stronger now as these workouts and especially the speed work is still hard but not overwhelmingly so. Did my warm up rather slowly and then concentrated on doing the quality stuff, the drills and also the speed work. We did lots of kicking stuff today or would have had it worked out well. Les changed things up for us, getting us all together in 8X50's on the 1:05. That was rough. Sj and I had just finished ours when we were told that we were going to be swimming two 100's in a relay. Divvied up into teams and both Sj and I were swimming anchor. N was lead swimmer on my team and he went out and came back after his first 50 with cramps. He had to rest and that threw all the order off, etc.. Basically, I had no idea where we were in the race because of this but just put my head down and swam. 

My first 100, right off the wall both my calves were cramping badly making swimming rather hard. Pushing off the wall eased that and I was able to gain speed. Finished that one strong. 

Second 100. Sj had about a half a length on me. I caught up to her, basically just behind, and we really raced. I wasn't really conscious of where she was in the water though as I was just going all out. Touched the wall just behind her. I remember a lot of yelling.

A great Saturday!

And Sunday?

Two hours on the bike . . . in the garage because the weather just looked sullen and cold when I started. Of course the sun came out as I was going. 

Many dogs being walked today and they all had to stop to look at what I was doing. One, a pug, just stared at me for about a minute before getting picked up. What, I ask you, is so strange about riding a bike in your garage on a trainer? 

Not my favorite thing to do by any stretch of the imagination, but made easier by watching Mad Max. It has been decades since I last saw it and it is still a thrilling film. Taut and disturbing but not gory. All the fast driving scenes made the peddling go more quickly too. I'd love to get on those roads. But, did you notice, this takes place in Australia of the "near future" and there are no Aborigines about. Its a totally white world in that film. It just seemed strange. 

So, an oddly successful week I suppose. 

This week the weather is supposed to be awful. Possible snow, damaging winds, and rain, lots of rain. Forecast for odd? Haven't seen that yet but there are some things I'll endeavor to avoid.