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.

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 #
February 29, 2012

Leaving Bangkok for Chiang Mai

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 4:37 am

We had one more day in Bangkok hanging out with Nathan, which was awesome to see family in Thailand. We bought our train tickets in the morning for the overnight train to Chiang Mai, and then wandered around Chinatown since it was close by. We tried to follow a walking tour in the guidebook, but the streets are crazy so we just winged it and ate snack food from street stalls. It’s been surprisingly difficult to find vegetarian food in Bangkok, so we gave up on a full meal outdoors and went to a nice place with A/C in the mall that was listed in our guidebook. We gave Nathan the Bangkok transit tour by taking him on the underground metro, the river ferry and the skytrain all in a short period of time.

After saying goodbye to Nathan, we caught our train for the night. I was wary of overnight train travel with a baby, but it went great. It wasn’t too noisy, I got great sleep and Kim even slept pretty well considering she was sleeping with Geneveve in a pretty small bed.

We arrived in Chiang Mai in time for lunch. Chiang Mai is *much* easier to find vegetarian food in, there’s signs everywhere. It’s still a busy city, but nowhere near the level of Bangkok. The first afternoon we wandered around a little and book our tour to see the elephants the next day.

Today we saw the elephants, and it was amazing. We’re considering going back to do an overnight stay, but really don’t have hard set plans. The day of elephants has a lot to tell, so that will be a post of it’s own, and I have to go to get dinner soon.

February 26, 2012

First Few Days in Thailand

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:02 am

After a crazy long plane ride (20+ hours with a layover in San Francisco and Hong Kong), we arrived after midnight in Bangkok.  The plane ride was exhausting.  Geneveve slept pretty well, but it’s still much harder flying with a toddler that needs constant entertainment.  She did really well considering the length of the flight, but she had some moments that were rough.

With the sleep schedules completely thrown off we didn’t even sleep in that late.  Geneveve has been waking up around 6:30 every day, so we start early even though by the time we eat breakfast and get everything ready to head out it’s usually past 8 am.

On day one we took it easy and just walked around a little and went to the MBK mall to peruse the shopping and excellent vegetarian food court stall.  I was pretty jet lagged and it all seems like a blur.  The first night we met a friend of Kim’s from culinary school, Wariya, for dinner.  It was at a fancy hotel, not at all the kind of place we would normally eat, but good food nonetheless.

The next day Wariya took us around.  It’s always nice having a local to help navigate things.  We went to the giant palace where I had to rent pants to go over my shorts to be proper.  It was hot and crowded.  There’s a crazy little buddha statue in the middle of a room full of way too much gold decoration.  And lots of cool buildings.  Then we did the river tourist thing after lunch, which was refreshingly calm for this frantic city.

The afternoon activity of a Ukulele concert was probably the highlight of the day, in large part because Geneveve was a bit of a star.  People here *love* her.  They’re always waving to her, many try to touch her.  Geneveve was running around the concert crowd and dancing, and there’s probably more photos of her from that than there will be from our entire trip.  When Geneveve cries, people here stop and want to help, offering her food, toys, smiles and kind words.  It often helps, although when she’s really tired she just wants to be left alone.

Today we went to giant marketplace.  It’s a lot like other giant, crowded, market places in other parts of the world we’ve been in:  lots of people, hard to navigate, lots of crap, insane stuff for sale.  For Geneveve the best part was that the marketplace was next to a park with a playground.  She wore me out in the heat running up and down the slide.

I just had a Thai massage and it was the best massage I’ve ever had.  The little Thai woman really worked me to the point I was worried she might break me.  Most massages are far too light for me, but this one involved elbows and knees and arm bars so that sometimes I thought to myself if I was in this position in a fight, I’d be in huge trouble.  And it was for less than $10.  I’ll be doing that as much as possible for the rest of our trip.  Kim’s off getting one now, so we’ll see how she likes it.  I’m keeping Geneveve entertained playing the Muppet Manamana video on repeat so I can type this and it’s working pretty well.

Tomorrow we’re meeting Nathan before he flies out of Thailand, and then we’ll get out of Bangkok.  It’s a fascinating city, but it’s just a little too big and busy for us to stay much longer.  We’ll next head to Chang Mai in the north, probably for a week or so before we go down to the beaches to really relax.

January 22, 2012

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-01-22

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 4:00 am
  • It's snowing! #
  • I gave blood today in record time. In and out in under a half hour. #
  • I finished my taxes yesterday. That's the earliest I've ever filed. They don't even start processing until tomorrow. #