Beastly Saturday


More training was on the menu this morning with a swim in Hagg Lake followed by a short bike ride. Naturally, because we had our ration of sunshine yesterday, we woke up to rain. (Thankfully, swimming in the rain is much more acceptable than doing a long ride in it.) We got up and out early, so that we could be home at a reasonable hour. We met up with Luke, (who has recently joined the open-water swimming set) and his recently purchased wetsuit. It was cold and windy. The lake looked like this:

(I’d planned to take more pictures out in it, but that didn’t happen.) It wasn’t the best swim. There was a lot of chop and wind, plus T was not having a good swim. Luke ditched us both and swam out into the middle, so I swam with Todd a while and then sought a more sheltered section of the lake. It was helpful to get some wetsuit practice and I’ll definitely need to get a couple more before the race as my stroke has changed a lot since last year and felt really weird in the wetsuit.

Afterward, T took his wetsuit off to find that his swim shorts had apparently reached some sort of final crisis point and lost all their shape. They were really baggy and see-through in places. Unfortunately, he hadn’t brought any other bike shorts so he was out for the ride. I made the executive decision to call the ride, since I didn’t feel right leaving T in a soggy car for an hour or so. (Not to mention, I wasn’t exactly enthused about a cold, wet, rainy bike ride.) We headed back home, after a quick stop for lunch.

We were totally shelled when we got home, so we both ended up taking a short nap. Afterward, we took a short field trip into SE Portland for T to get a haircut and my mom & I to do some book shopping. Then we returned home for my mom and T to have a little Scrabble face-off on my mom’s new iPad. (If you knew my mother, you would be astonished that she owns an iPad. Technology is not her friend.) I amused myself by taking pictures of the action (and capturing some “classic mom” faces in the process… ) This one is my favorite:

I call this one “Are you taking a picture of me?”

And the classic “reaction shot.”

My poor mother…

Our big item on the evening’s agenda was a reservation at Beast, a renowned Portland restaurant who’s chef was recently featured on Top Chef Masters. I’d been hearing great things about it over the years and when Naomi Pomeroy was kicking ass on reality tv, we figured we’d better get our reservations while we still could. (Plus, I was pretty sure we’d be celebrating a new job for the boy from that interview. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Yet.) Our seating was at 8:45, so we had plenty of time to loaf around the house, get ready and drive over to NE Portland.

Beast is in a really cute little neighborhood:

With the usual Portland touches:

The outside looks promising:

The restaurant is tiny (24 seats) and has a set menu that they serve in two seatings at communal tables. We got there as the first one was clearing out and got to watch them set up service for ours. It’s an interesting way to dine, almost like waiting for a performance to start. Naomi was there, which caused a lot of excitement (including squealing and jumping up and down) among some of our fellow diners. (Portlanders are very different with celebrities than Southern California or New York, where ignoring them is an art form.)

Once inside, I didn’t feel comfortable taking a lot of pictures because it was such a tiny space. (Which is a shame because there were a million that I would have liked to take.) The food was beyond amazing and we ended up being seated across the table from another Seattle couple, who turned out to be chefs. It was fun to talk to them and hear their stories about the restaurant scene in Seattle. (Nothing Anthony Bourdain worthy, but still fun to hear.) The vibe of the restaurant was like a really wonderful dinner party. Intimate, but refined. Should you find yourself in Portland, I highly recommend it.


Epic training day


We had a busy agenda for the day and no time to waste. First, we dropped the dogs off at their boarding place and tried not to be offended at the eager way they ran inside. (Ungrateful bastards!) Then it was off to the new race course for a long ride, followed by a run. My biggest concern for the new course was the fact that I haven’t spent that much continuous time in the aero position and wasn’t sure how it would go. We were doing two loops, so I set up a combination aid station and transition area in the trunk of the car:

We lucked out on the weather. It was AMAZING:

The course goes right past the airport, so we had a number of planes land and take off over our heads as we rode. But my favorite part were the fighter jets:

There’s something about riding with a fighter jet zooming above your head. It really inspires you to kick it up a notch!

Mount Hood was clearly visible in the distance.

Riding a flat course is a very different challenge than a hilly one. You really have to work on your pacing and I’m going to have to really work on eating and drinking, as I didn’t do enough of either. This made the run afterward a little rough, so I’ll definitely have to work on that. On the plus side, I went a lot faster than the hilly course that I’d been training on, so that was fun.

T rode with me during my run, which was really fun. It was nice having him to chit-chat with and I didn’t have to feel bad about leaving him in the car while I ran. (Plus it makes you feel like a real athlete to have a bike escort, I must say!) After all of that, we had dinner plans with our friend Luke so we had to hustle back to my parents house to shower and get changed.

Luke showed off his bartender skills by whipping up my favorite drink from Pok Pak: the Tamarind Whiskey Sour. You know you’re in Portland when someone mixes a drink in a Nalgene bottle:

But he made up for it on the presentation:

The drinks were super strong (especially after the day’s exertions) so I was done with drinking after one. But T & Luke followed it up with a second cocktail at a wine bar where we had delicious burgers. So, between the training, eating and drinking, it was an epic day all around.

Switching gears


I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about this year’s racing plans, but I’ve been structuring my training around two half ironman races. A new one in Portland on July 10 and then returning to Grand Columbian on September 17. Grand Columbian is the higher-priority one, as my training has been fairly lackluster, due to the crappy wet spring weather. At one point, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do the Portland race as it had both a tough bike and run course and I wasn’t prepared for either.

I finally decided to plan a weekend in Portland to ride the bike course and run a loop of the run course and then see if I still wanted to sign up. I booked vacation time and warned my parents we’d be staying with them. Then about two days before we were supposed to head down, I started hearing rumors that the course was changing. Now, the primary reason that I’d chosen this race was because it started in downtown Portland, (where T would have lots of entertainment options to keep him busy while I raced) and the bike course passed within a mile of my parents house (so they could come out and see me race without a lot of hassle and drama.) The new course was out at Blue Lake, a venue that I’d raced an Olympic at when we lived in Portland, so I knew something about the course. (It’s very, very flat and windy.)

I will admit that I didn’t take the news very well at all. There was a lot of whining and some sulking. But then I thought about it and realized that I’d never done a flat half before and my rented race wheels that T got me for Christmas would be far more effective on this course than the old one. So, the training weekend was back on, but with a whole new set of challenges.

Too ambitious


Because of yesterday’s procrastination, I had to do my long ride today. M was nice enough to ride out for the first half hour before turning back and it was great to have the company. The weather was still pretty good, although there was a chilly breeze that I wasn’t too fond of. I had a big loop mapped out that would eventually take me up to Port Townsend and back. The route was rolling hills through farmland and very pretty. I ended up making a wrong turn and missing some of the loop, cutting my ride short by about 15 miles, but I felt pretty good about what I managed to do.

I got back to the campsite to find that M & J had taken the boys for a walk. (Being a single-dog mom is a lot easier with some help with my friends!) It gave me a chance to shower/pack up my tent and load the car without dog “assistance.” I was planning to catch a ferry in the evening and pick T up at the airport around 10. Our dinner plans for the evening were campfire pizza, which was a brand-new experiment.

It started out promising, but we rapidly realized that the cheese on the top wasn’t getting enough heat to melt. M had an innovative solution, waving a burning ember over the top of it:

That didn’t end up working so well…

The next pizza looked exactly like bikini bottoms:

Mmmm, panty pizza:

Luckily, I had some back-up chicken sausages that I could grill for dinner. I wrapped it in one of the pizza fails for a “pig in a blanket” sort of effect. Sadly, the pizza experiment was a bust, but nothing ventured/nothing gained.

Fort Fabulousness


Even with the snuggliness of Wally, the night was freezing. You would never know it was June. Coffee was definitely the first order of business:

Followed by bacon:

(Yes, those are hot dogs in with the bacon… ) Ask M how she feels about it:

(I bet you can guess!) After breakfast, we went for a walk on the beach. M tried her hand at skipping stones:

She was having a tough time, but every now and then, there’d be a success!

The scenery was beautiful:

You could see Port Townsend across the bay:

And it looked like the sun was coming out! My favorite sight on the beach was this driftwood fort:

The builders had even carved their names and some instructions on it:

(I’m hoping their building skills are better than their spelling!)

After a little loafing at the campsite, I headed out for a short bike ride. (I was supposed to do a long ride, but just couldn’t get myself out on the bike early enough, so it would have to happen tomorrow.) After I got back, we decided to drive over to the other side of the park with the dogs and see some of the old fort sections that were all over the park. I passed these on the way back from my ride:

So cool! The other side had huge grassy meadows and was up on a bluff overlooking the water. I didn’t want to let the dogs get too close, so I didn’t take any pictures of the view. But here’s another cool old section of fort:

Complete with awesome stretch of grass that was perfect for sitting on (me & the boys) or playing catch (M & J)

As we were hanging out, a giant hawk/eagle coasted over us and landed in a near-by tree. It was amazing to see it so close:

On our way back, we saw a very unusual picnic spot:

I guess it’s convenient, but a little lacking in ambiance. As we walked back to the car, we saw a young buck across the meadow. Wally got all kinds of interested in the “big dog with the horns” and I was scared that the deer would start running, then Wally would chase it, dragging me across the meadow and into the woods. Luckily, the buck sauntered into the woods calmly while I distracted Wally with treats. He still looked around for it, but otherwise did well.

Back at the campsite, it was time for some more deliciousness. Steaks, corn and baked potatoes:

(Have I mentioned that I love camping?) Almost as much as these two:

It was a very relaxing and enjoyable day. I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to the “real world.”

Adventures in camping


Last year, M & J took a vacation on the Olympic Peninsula and ended up not using a campsite that they’d reserved. It turned out that you can’t get your money back if you cancel a reservation, but you can re-book it for another time. So, this year we made plans to use it. Unfortunately, the boy got asked to go to Chicago for a conference with one of his professional organizations – so Smokey Joe, Wally and I were joining M & J in the great outdoors at Fort Flagler State Park. After a lengthy wait in the ferry line, (during which M almost didn’t make it onto the ferry that I was already on. She was the very last car on board. Scary!) we drove the hour or so to the state park.

We got to our campsite around six, so M had to hustle to go get some firewood while J and I started setting up camp. I had a new tent to wrangle with, so it took me a lot longer to get set up than J. I forgot to bring our sun/rain shelter, so J was on deck to create a DIY version. I dubbed it the “man project” and handed him a big bag of random lengths of rope and some blue tarps (a must for camping in the Pacific Northwest.) M got back in time to help with this project and I would look up from wrestling with my tent to see scenes like this:

I’ll admit, it wasn’t looking too promising. But before I knew it, we had a pretty snazzy looking rain shelter:

The load-bearing corner branch was my favorite part:

And I got our new tent assembled!

With no help from these lousy dogs:

After a nice dinner of hominy chili and homemade bread, we relaxed around the campfire. I think it’s going to be a great weekend. Certainly better than sulking by myself at home. 😉

Summer rations


I know I’ve whined about our weather here in Seattle before, but it’s been a pretty craptacular spring. And summer isn’t looking much better. Day after day of gray, cloudy, depressing gloom. Every now and then, we’ll get a gorgeous sunny day (usually on a weekday, when I have to be inside a cubicle all day. Grrr!) but then it will be back to the grayness. But finally, the stars aligned and we had a gorgeous sunny weekend in the forecast.

T and I took advantage of the nice weather to do a bike ride up to Edmonds. It was T’s first time climbing the dreaded Shoreline climb (and he ended up doing it twice, because he came back to get me while I was wheezing in one of the cul-de-sacs and missed me.) It’s disgusting how well that boy climbs…

When we got back to our neighborhood, I had a few errands to take care of, so I bribed the boy with ice cream to walk with me. En route, we came across a bike crit (race for the non-cyclists) that we had no idea was going on. We stopped to watch the action for a little while. We got to see the women start their race:

Those girls are amazing (and fast!) Afterward, the boy started on his new experiment/hobby: coffee roasting. Using the $5 popcorn popper he found on Craigslist:

The best part is that his hobby justifies the pizza pan I haven’t been able to let of:

The fruits of his labor:

M & J were coming over for dinner and got to witness some of the coffee-roasting goodness. We had a great summery dinner: grilled chicken and corn on the cob, plus a salad made with lettuce from my little balcony garden. Followed by a strawberry cobbler that we got from a local place that makes everything with local, organic ingredients. And of course no evening would be complete without some Wally-snuggling…

When you pack this much summer into one day, it almost makes it okay that you only get one day’s worth of sunshine. Almost.

Garden party


I have a confession to make: I am terrible with plants. I’ve killed so many over the years, that I pretty much never expect anything when I buy plants. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. So, when I saw some beautiful herbs and tomato plants on sale at one of our local grocery store, I decided to give horticulture another try. So far, they are doing pretty well. (Except for the basil. I don’t know what it wants.) But the rest of them are happy:

I already need to re-pot two of the tomato plants and my cilantro is going crazy. It even had a guest over:

I definitely like being able to cut herbs from the balcony and it looks pretty having them out there. We’ll see how long it lasts…

Girl time


The birthday festivities kept on rolling this week, with a little “lady date” with M. First, we hit up happy hour at a tapas bar in our neighborhood. (Sadly, I’ve run past the place for years and never knew it was there until I saw glowing reviews about it on Yelp.) When we got there, the bar was completely empty, save for the bartender and it was a little odd. But they had a great happy hour menu and yummy drinks:

And the company was sublime!

(M showing off her bitching tattoo in the pretty window light… )

After tapas and cocktails, we grabbed cupcakes and headed over to the University District to see a really cool film about Bill Cunningham, an 80-year old photographer that rides his bicycle all over New York City shooting street fashion. I highly recommend it, well done film about an amazing man. Solid evening on all fronts!