October 10, 2013

Second Portland Marathon

Filed under: General,health — mmrobins @ 8:53 am

I finished my second Portland Marathon last weekend! Finished in 4 hours 40 minutes. I had hoped to do it faster, but just finishing was more than good enough. Busy summer life got in the way of my training, but even if it hadn’t I don’t think I would have been fast enough to get the sub 4 hour time I set out for. I’ve really just been rebuilding the fitness base I lost the last few years as a new father, so having a goal was a good motivator, but not quite achieving it isn’t much of a disappointment. My other excuse is I spent 3 days prior to the race fixing up my rental house, including lots of yard work and work on a ladder, and my legs were tired from that.

The race day was about perfect for weather. It was cold in the morning, so I wore a sweatshirt to the start that I had planned to just through away, but they had convenient UPS trucks to take stuff that you could pick up after the race. I took a Car2Go to the east side of the Hawthorne bridge and then walked across so I didn’t have to deal with parking or other madness downtown. The bathroom lines before the race were a bit ridiculous and I bet there were quite a few people still in line when things started. I was there early enough for it not to matter though.

I lost my favorite LG Tone headphones a few days before the race, so I bought some others on short notice since I couldn’t get replacements delivered in time. I’ve gotten spoiled with having bluetooth headphones and can’t stand wired ones now when I run, so I got another bluetooth pair, Plantronic Backbeat GO. Big mistake. The battery life on those was barely 1 hour. So an hour into my race I was without my audio books and music. On a solo run this might have been the end since I’d have gotten bored, but with all the people around me running and the crowd providing entertainment in the form of signs, music, costumes and encouragement I was good to go.

I was actually running pretty well up to the half marathon time where I was just a tad over 2 hours, the pace I actually wanted. However, around mile 20 I started to get cramps in my thigh near my knee. Uh oh. The next six miles were *slow*. I would run a half mile or so, get a cramp, and hop along for a quarter mile. By the end I wasn’t nearly as physically tired as I was after the last marathon because this time I had gone so slow the last bit. I did force myself to run through the muscle cramps the last quarter mile or so across the finish line so I didn’t look like a total wuss.

After the race I devoured chocolate milk, bananas, peanut butter, string cheese, energy drinks, candy, and a bunch of other food that was laid out. It was sunny and pretty warm, so no space blanket was needed. I found Kim and Geneveve easily and we headed home. I took a hot bat, a nap and started massaging my muscles and stretching. By that evening I was already really tight and hobbling around. Geneveve thought my grunting was hilarious, so I played it up for her. The next day was the worst and I could barely move. The day after that though I already felt better. Usually the 2nd day after a hard workout is when I’m the most sore, but this time that wasn’t the case. All that muscle rub cream, hot baths with epsom salt, magnesium powder drinks, sleep and self massage must have paid off.

Now it’s Thursday, so 4 days after the race and I’m ready to go for a little run again. After my last marathon I didn’t run for months after. This time I want to keep up the training and prep for another half marathon at least where I can shoot for faster times. When I did my first marathon is was mostly just a thing to say I’d done, kind of a bucket list type of goal, but now I’ve realized that running is the easiest way for me to stay in shape with a hectic schedule with kids. Before kids it was easy to stay in shape with lots of hobby sports like rock climbing, soccer, dodgeball, hiking and more, but now those types of activities are much less frequent and harder to schedule. So I’m going to stick with running so I don’t forget to exercise with the new baby coming.

June 30, 2013

Second Marathon Training

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 9:51 pm

I just ran 13 miles as part of my training for my second marathon. Last marathon was 4 years ago, before having kid(s). I had hoped for this marathon to do it faster, but I have *not* been going fast enough on my training runs to hit the under 4 hour pace I wanted for the October race. At this point I’ll certainly be happy to finish, but will be doing all I can to hit the faster pace.

The hardest part of training so far has been blisters. I’ve been trying to break in a couple new pairs of shoes, but have given up on one pair after months of thinking they were almost broken in and fallen back to an older pair. I’ve been using moleskin and bandaids made for blisters, but the only thing that has seemed to work very well has been duct tape. The other stuff just doesn’t stick well enough with all the sweat I get in my shoe, and I can cheaply tear off big pieces of duct tape that wrap enough foot to stay put. I’ve also taken to carrying a change of socks in my running backpack and using some foot powder to make the sweat less of an issue.

Besides the blisters, my feet are also the body part that is the most tired after long runs. My legs get a little sore from time to time, but so far my feet are the limiting factor. I’ll keep experimenting with different shoes to see what helps. I was doing some of my shorter runs in my Vibram Five Finger shoes, but as the runs have gotten longer those shoes don’t really cut it for me. Those shoes might be good for getting stronger feet, but you really have to work up to using them for distances as they really give your feet a workout.

Another thing different from my last training is I’ve begun carrying Gu Energy Gels with me for long runs and taking one every 45ish minutes. This has helped a lot. I avoided these last time because I had a bad experience with some kind of gel during a race that left me parched. You really need water with some of these things, but since I carry water with me on long runs that’s not an issue, and they really help keep energy up during and after the long run.

I wasn’t sure after finishing one marathon that I’d ever want to do another, but having a goal to shoot toward makes exercising a lot more palatable, and since I’ve been working from home most of the time lately I don’t even bike to the office, so needed something to shoot for to get me moving. Organized sports and anything with a schedule is too hard to stick to if I want to spend time with my family, so marathon training is nice since I can do it early morning (rare) or late night after Geneveve goes to bed.

March 26, 2013

Northern Big Island to End the Vacation

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:11 pm

From Hilo we headed north along the Hamakua coast. We didn’t stop a ton of places like the big waterfalls since we had been there on our last trip, and while they were nice, we didn’t really feel the need to stop again so that we could see parts of the island we hadn’t before. We did see a new waterfall with a ropeswing at the base at Kolekole Beach Park, where we at lunch and swam.

We spent a few nights camping at Kalopa Park, which is higher in elevation and in a forest, so similar feel to parts of Volcano Park and cold at night. The campground is small with only 3 sites, one of which had a family with kids Geneveve played with the first night. The trails around the area are a bit overgrown with forest and the info on them seems really outdated, but they’re nice to walk around. The staff all seemed really excited to be outside while we were there because they said it had been raining for most of a month straight, so we lucked out with sunny weather.

From the campground base we made a day trip to the Waipio valley. We had been here to the overlook on our last trip, but we didn’t descend into the valley. The road down requires 4WD, not because it’s poorly paved or anything, but apparently because it’s so steep you need low gearing. We walked down, and it really is quite steep, even if it is only a mile. At the bottom we went to the beach, which is pretty nice, but I’m not sure it lives up to the hype. One of the things about the Waipio valley is that it’s supposed to be somewhat isolated due to it’s relative inaccessibility, but there were a lot of people there, more so than at some other little beaches we found. I’m guessing farther back in the valley is quieter and pretty, but the roads back there are supposedly private. I think if you really want an isolated valley experience you’ll have to do the overnight hike to the next valley over.

We drove through Waimea on the way to our next campground, but really didn’t see much worth stopping for. It’s strange in that the area seems to be a giant cattle ranch with grassy and brushy open fields, not what I would expect in Hawaii.

Spencer Beach Park was our next stop, and the campground on the island we had heard the most good things about. I’d say it lived up to it’s reputation. It’s got a lovely little beach, decent open camp space, and a nice pavilion. At this point in the trip we were pretty much ready to just setup camp and lay on the beach – which is what we did. Geneveve lucked out in that the family camping next to us had a 2 year old boy and a 6 year old girl who was great at playing with her. We setup the hammock, and proceeded to mostly lay there or on the beach with an occasional swim or meal. At night we chased little crabs on the beach with flashlights, and Geneveve was even brave enough to catch them herself by the end.

After a few days camping, we checked into a bed and breakfast near Puako to get cleaned up and pack for our flight home. We took a day trip to Hawi, and hiked down to the Pololu valley. I would recommend doing this over going to the Waipio Valley any day. Hawi is a cuter town than Honokaa with some really good restaurants, and the Pololu valley doesn’t have a road to it. The hike down is easier and shorter than to Waipio. The downside is the beach isn’t as nice – really rocky and not for swimming. But if you just want a pleasant valley hike, this is great.

We saw a bunch of whales during our time near this part of the island. We even saw them jumping out of the water, albeit quite a ways off shore. At one point we just pulled off the highway to watch them swim, surface and spout for 20 or so minutes.

We also hiked to Kiholo bay one evening around sunset. There’s a cool lava tube you can swim in called Queen’s Bath, and the bay has a ton of turtles. It’s a weird hike as there’s a bunch of super fancy houses along the way. We parked up near the highway since around 6pm they close the gate to the little dirt road that goes down near the ocean, and we wanted to stay to watch one of the better sunsets we had on our trip.

And now we’re back home. I think we were all ready to go home after a month away. Spring is in full swing here in Portland with flowers in bloom everywhere, so I think we got back just in time to miss the end of winter. We’ll be carless for a month before we go to visit my parents where our car is, but I imagine that will be pretty easy.

March 20, 2013

Pahoa to Hilo

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 12:12 pm

My week of work around Pahoa was pretty mellow. Unfortunately, the wifi access where we were staying was too flaky and slow for it to be useable for me for work. It’s just an internet connection over cell phone that the owner has attached a router to, which is fine for occasional email, but *not* for downloading even a couple megabyte file or video meetings. So I had to go to town to work. There’s only one little coffee shop in town, and they’re so small that they have a 30 minute limit on sitting in there, so it wasn’t a good place to work. I ended up working out of various restaurants and eating breakfast at those places, and then from a bar in the afternoon.

Kim and Geneveve spent a lot of the week swimming at the local Alahanui warm pools. It’s definitely nicest to go at high tide so you can swim around. Geneveve made a lot of progress learning to swim here since with the warm water she can stay in without getting cold for a long time. She still can’t swim on her own and is hesitant to put her face underwater, but she practiced swimming a few feet between us and is completely independent floating around on her tube now. We also visited the tide pools very briefly because it’s really rocky and was cloudy and cold, not a good recipe for a happy toddler. The Champagne pond was nice and kind of like the Alahanui pools in that it’s warmer, but it’s harder to access since to get there you need to go over a lava road that’s only 4 wheel drive accessible – we walked.

Besides swimming we went to a lot of local farmers’ markets and events, which seem to be happening frequently. There’s definitely a lot of interesting people in the area (not more than Portland, but that’s a hard competition to win), and we ran into a lot of them repeatedly. I think the most amusing person for me was the tall skinny white guy who wore nothing but a little loincloth like setup and smashed poi on a rock.

Toward the end of the week we left for Hilo to stay with our friends who had recently moved from Portland to Hilo. They have a girl a few months older than Geneveve, which was fun by the end of our stay, but initially she was not excited to share anything with Geneveve which resulted in a lot of screaming on both sides. I worked a day in Hilo at a coffee shop, and then we had a few to hang out.

We went to local zoo which isn’t a big, impressive zoo, but is free and great fun for little kids as it includes a nice playground. We attended a rally against Monsanto’s GMO practices on the island, which was a fun way to interact with some of the locals. We browsed the shops, went to the beach one day, ate at the local restaurants and generally just hung out for a not so touristy feeling couple of days. It was sunny for a few days, and cloudy for a few.

The last night was eventful since Geneveve woke up around 11pm throwing up. Not sure what prompted it, and she was fine the next day, so it was a thankfully short bout of sickness. We left Wednesday morning to continue seeing the north part of the island.

March 9, 2013

Hawaii Vacation: Coast to Volcanos to Coast

Filed under: travel — mmrobins @ 9:54 pm

With my week of working from Kona ended, we got our rental car and struck out counterclockwise around the island. Our first stop was Ho’okena Beach Park south of Kona for some camping on the beach. As we descended the single lane paved road down to the beach, we realized we had camped here 7ish years ago on our honeymoon. This time we camped two nights instead of just one, and had a great time. It’s definitely a bit crowded camping by Pacific Northwest campground standards with your neighbors only a couple feet away, but everyone was nice and there weren’t any loud, wild parties late into the night. Geneveve loved the beach, mostly rolling around and getting sand everywhere, and even braved the waves a little bit. The snorkeling here was actually the best we’ve found so far despite what the guidebooks say about other places being better. I swam around with a turtle for a while, and there was nobody else in the water.

We wanted to go kayak across Kealakekua Bay to the captain cook monument, but they aren’t allowing kayaks on it now to help preserve it. We didn’t see any dolphins there either, and the snorkeling was only so so. We wanted to do more in this bay last time we were here in 2006 too, but then it was closed because an earthquake had just happened. The guide books rave about this bay, but sadly so far we’re 0 for 2 on having it impress us.

Next destination was Volcanoes National Park. On the way we stopped at the black sand turtle beach on the south side of the island. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see turtles in the rocks here, so there’s a *lot* of other people here in giant tour buses too. I tried snorkeling around, but there was an oily film in the water that made visibility pretty bad and left me feeling gross afterwards. Not sure why it was so oily in the water. It seemed like someone dumped a bunch of sunscreen all over. Hopefully it’s not normally like that.

Once we got to Volcano we setup our tent at the Kulanaokuaiki campground, which is primitive with no water and a little bit of a drive down a one lane road. We pretty much had the whole campsite to ourselves except for a single strange tent that we couldn’t figure out since there was never a car around to go with it. Maybe they hiked out there to camp, but I can’t imagine why anyone do that since it’s in the middle of a bunch of mostly open, treeless landscape. From our site at night you could see the stars amazingly well with no light pollution around for miles except for a faint red glow coming from the crater a few miles away. It gets pretty chilly at night, so I was glad a couple at Ho’okena gave us a blanket they said they didn’t need anymore.

We did pretty much all the major hikes this time that we didn’t do last time including the steam vents, Pu?u Huluhulu to overlook Mauna Ulu, the petroglyphs, and a bunch more. We saw the major coastal hike we did last time from a viewpoint and reminisced about when we could backback overnight. Geneveve is definitely getting to be a better hiker, but overnight backpacking with her is still a ways away. We also saw the Halema’uma’u crater from Jaggar museum, which is a new thing since we were there last. Basically a lava lake opened up in 2008 that you can see the glow from pretty much every night even if you don’t see actual lava. We still haven’t gotten close to flowing lava since the Pu’u O’o flow isn’t in a place that’s convenient to hike to with a toddler.

After 4 nights of camping in beaches and on volcanoes, we headed to near Pahoa to sleep in a bed at an off the grid meditation center we heard about from a friend. All the power is solar and all the water is catchment. We’ve been here a few days and done a lot of swimming at the nearby warm pools and tidal pools. Today we went to the local farmers market, a event with a lot of colorful characters, and to see where the lava flows end and the smoke from the lava going in to the ocean from a distance. The whole area has a very hippie vibe to it. I think it’s in large part because the whole area could be wiped out by lava flows at any time (and portions of it have been in the last 30 years), so land is cheaper and you get a less permanent kind of people.

After tomorrow I have another week of work before my next week of vacation. I’ve never done this split work and vacation thing before, so we’ll see how I like mixing it up.

March 2, 2013

Hawaii – The Big Island

Filed under: travel — mmrobins @ 11:12 pm

Wow, I’ve totally forgotten about blogging for a long time. Well, I’m in Hawaii, so that’s blogworthy. In fact, I actually ended rereading my old blog post on the Big Island to try to remember some stuff we had done, and it was really interesting. This may be the first big vacation we’ve done where we revisit someplace we’ve already been instead of checking out some exotic new destination. Now I remember, I don’t blog for other people, I do it for myself because it’s really cool to remember the awesome things I’ve done, and I always thought it would come in handy in case I decide to do them again. I may have to go back and fill in some blog posts for our Alaska vacation this last summer.

So to begin the awesomeness, we’re here for a month, two weeks of which I’m working. This first week we’ve spent in Kona, and I worked remotely, which is something I could really get used to – sitting in 75 degree weather on a deck overlooking the ocean while coding. I actually had a very productive week despite the temptation of just going to the beach instead. We’re staying at a shared house we found on airbnb because it’s like $65 a night, which is way cheaper than most of anything else we found in walking distance to the beach, and there’s a 6 year old girl who lives here, and Geneveve loves her. It’s nice talking to people living here, getting tips about local beaches, sharing dinner, and more.

During the week I’ve been working from the house while Kim and Geneveve take the local public transportation trolley around the area to see shops and play at the beach. I’ve been meeting them for lunch at local little cafes, and then after work we’ve been going to the beach to swim with sea turtles, or a couple times to Kona Brewing for the best beer that I know of being brewed in Hawaii. One of the other nice things about the shared housing is that they let us borrow their bikes, including a crazy two person with a backseat bike that we took all the way downtown and is fun, but really not that efficient. We’ve been on a 6:30am to about 8:30pm schedule, which is great for catching all the daylight and is pretty much the same as our schedule at home since Hawaii is 2 hours behind Pacific time.

Last night we went to see a local production of the Wizard of Oz because the 6 year old from the house was in it as a munchkin, and Geneveve was so excited when she came on stage she stood up and shouted “That’s my friend dancing!”. It was fun to see the play, but Geneveve stayed awake for the whole thing and was up until 11pm, so she’s got a sleep deficit since she wakes up here at 6:30 – 7am regardless of what time we go to bed.

Today we went with the lady who organizes the house rental and her 6 year old daughter to Mauna Kea to play in the snow. It was a longer drive than I remember, partly because with a 2 year old and a 6 year old in the car, it really does take longer with bathroom stops and emotional drama. Kim was feeling the altitude at the visitors center at 7,000 feet, so she stayed there, and the rest of us went up to the summit at about 14,000 feet. Geneveve didn’t last long, and cried when an errant snowball got her a little bit, then fell asleep in my arms totally exhausted and stayed that way for most of the drive home. So I just sat in the truck and held her while I watched the clouds below me. So it was a much different trip for me than last time where I got to go in some of the observatories and ran around.

We’ve been carless all week, which has been fine for me working and us chilling out, but tomorrow we get our rental car and begin a week of all play. We’ll be headed counter clockwise-ish around the island, so will be hitting up Kealakekua Bay, the beach on the south end of the island with all the sea turtles, and camping in Volcano National Park for a while.

April 16, 2012

Visting Washington DC

Filed under: Culture,travel — mmrobins @ 8:48 pm

I spent this past week in Washington DC for orientation for my new job at LivingSocial. I’ll be working in Portland, but they’re headquartered there, so the week is to meet some people face to face and get to know the company.

I enjoyed the city more than I would have thought. There’s an amazing amount to do, great food, and the whether was gorgeous. I don’t think I could visiting in the summer when it gets too hot, but the spring is a lot like Portland when it’s nice.

Kim decided not to come with since she doesn’t know anyone in the city, and there was no guarantee how much time I’d have to spend with her and Geneveve. It turned out I had plenty of free time to see the sights outside of work since little extra activity was scheduled outside the normal work day, and really I could just as easily work at night.

This meant that I had the opportunity to spend time seeing the monuments, at the Smithsonian museums (natural history, air and space, art), the Newseum (one of the few museums with an admission, but well worth it), shows (plays, movies and musicals) and eat plenty of good food. It’s been rare since having a baby to be able to do those sorts of things, so while I was on my own I made the most of it and filled my time up as much as possible.

I was able to get around the city very quickly with a really cool bike sharing program called Capital Bike Share. For $15 I could grab a bike from all over the city, go to my destination, and drop it off. It was incredibly convenient – next time I’ll need to remember to bring my own helmet since those aren’t provided and I kept getting to bike shops after they closed so I never bought one. The city streets felt pretty safe though with plenty of bike lanes, and traffic never moves to fast with all the lights and intersections.

During the day I would go to the main LivingSocial office, which is about a block from the White House, but there are offices all over the downtown DC area, and I visited a few to get to know what people who use some of the software I may write do with their day to day jobs. LivingSocial is a much bigger company than I’m used to working at, but if has the semi-chaotic feel of smaller, startup companies.

I’m looking forward to returning to DC, and when I do I’ll have to remember to book some tours of the major government buildings like the Capitol and the Pentagon in advance. Unfortunately, these aren’t places that you can just walk into on any given day, at least that I could figure out. There’s still more to see in and do than could possibly be seen or done.

April 15, 2012

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-15

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 4:00 am
  • The test of our progress is not whether we add more for those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little #fdr #
  • I found one tree with cherry blossoms still on it in Washington DC #
  • @jwegener Yes, the cherry bloom in DC is pretty much over. It peaked around March 20 so now it's just leaves #
April 2, 2012

Traveling With a Toddler

Filed under: Baby,General,travel — mmrobins @ 9:50 pm

Traveling with a toddler is both rewarding and challenging. Everyone asked us when we got back from Thailand how it was with a kid. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, maybe hoping I’ll tell them it’s easy and no different than traveling used to be. Well, it’s definitely harder and I can understand why some people would be reluctant to try it. For us it’s definitely worth the extra challenge, the main thing we found was that we had to take it slower.

First, some of the difficulties:

The hardest thing for me is that I was constantly watching Geneveve and didn’t get to have full attention on a lot of the things I was seeing and doing, whether that was admiring a temple or riding an elephant. A mobile toddler is something that requires constant supervision so they don’t walk into traffic, pet a dog that will bite or eat something they shouldn’t. There’s really not much way around this except to take turns so that you get the occasional focus break. Sometimes people would play with Geneveve or hold her, but that still doesn’t allow me to completely not pay attention since I don’t know the people.

Another difficulty, but not nearly as much as I expected, was long trips on planes, trains, boats, motos and buses. We found as long as Geneveve could move around a bit, she was happy. We were fortunate that our longest flight was mostly empty, so Geneveve could sleep spread out or stand up in the seat, but 14 hours really is too long for an issue free flight. The train was probably our favorite mode of transport just because Geneveve could walk up and down the aisles and say hi to people, and there was lots more room. Buses were hard because they were usually fairly crowded and there wasn’t a lot of room to move.

Sleep was another issue, but again, not nearly so much as expected. It was pretty rare for us to be in our room for Geneveve’s afternoon nap, and generally Kim would just wear her in her baby carrier and we’d continue whatever we were doing. Also, Geneveve had no problem adjusting to the time change on the way to Thailand, but on the way home we had quite a few days where she’d be up in the middle of the night.

Now for the benefits of travelling with a kid.

Having a baby gets you priority in all sorts of places. In airports they let us go through the faster lines just about every time, same for immigration. Hostel staff were constantly giving Geneveve fruits for snacks.

Along those same lines, having a baby forces you to be a lot more social with everyone. This is both good an bad, good because it’s a great ice breaker and means you learn a lot more about local culture, bad because sometimes it can be a bit tiring.

Having a baby along for the trip causes you to see a lot of things with fresh eyes. Stuff you might take for granted, like how amazing planes are or how exciting ocean wavers are, is hard to take for granted when someone else is squealing with glee over it.

Finally, traveling with Geneveve just gave me a lot of time to spend with her. Having weeks of time to be with her constantly in an amazing place resulted in terrific memories for me and some great bonding time.

I think like a lot of things, traveling may be more difficult with children, but if you enjoy it and think it’s important, it’s something that you can make happen. We often hear people using their kids as an excuse to not do things, and we try not to fall into that trap. Besides, we figure we better travel with her know while she’s under 2 and can still fly free.

March 25, 2012

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-25

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 4:00 am
  • Back in Portland after a few weeks in Thailand. Jet lagged. #
  • I can't seem to get back on a normal sleep schedule since coming home from Thailand. #jetlag #