Thursday, February 19, 2009

Florida Today 5k

We ventured out of the state to run the Melbourne and Beaches race in Florida, February 8. My partner ran the Masters Championship Half Marathon (13th in his age group and 67 over all out of 738). There was also a 5k, so I ran that. The big news is that it was the first race I completed without walking. Boy, it was a long time coming! I came in 9th in my age group and 167 out of 300. Race time 33:20.

We were in Orlando for a couple of days and stayed at the Amerisuites near the airpor
t. Airport Park was adjacent to the hotel. With a .75 mile gravel path through woods and 2 soccer fields, it provided a place to run, sprint and walk several times during our visit. There was a lovely lake that couldn't be seen from the beginning of the path so it was quite a surprise to follow a wooden walkway and find ourselves on a platform offshore. Armadillos were running around everywhere along the way!

The race was in Melbourne, on the Atlantic coast so we headed there via 192. The 1.75 hour drive was rural and scenic. We checked into our room at the Hilton and headed for the expo at the Crowne Plaza on Indialantic Island. We took the causeway over the
Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to get there. I have never been to this part of Florida before; the scenery was a treat!

We got our bibs and goodie bags and went back to the hotel. After some laps around the parking lot, we went for a quick dinner and called it a night. The next day, we visited the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce, about an hour drive south on the coast. It was small but so interesting. I took several pictures; this little guy with the spots, who I call Fimo, was the best looking specimen. The diversity of marine life in the IRL is astounding. I had never heard of it before but would like to come back for another visit.

After the race, we crossed the causeway to go to a beach on Indialtantic Island for a soak in the cold Atlantic Ocean. Then we headed back to Orlando and finished the trip with a dinner at Woodlands, a vegetarian Indian restaurant I found online. It was delish!

While we didn't see any wild alligators, there were signs posted along the pond next to the hotel parking lot stating "Enticing or feeding alligators is against the law", we did see a plethora of shore birds, cute 'dillos, some stellar shoreline and ran a race along roads with unique and inspiring scenery. Hope you enjoy the pics!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Visit to San Juan Bautista

On January 24, we went to San Juan Bautista for the Mission 10 5k race. It was dark when we set out and we enjoyed a slightly misty sunrise as we traveled down the coast. We arrived an hour before race time and parked a block from the starting line, across the street from a ranger station.

It was cloudy and cold. Registration was set up in
front of the old mission on Second Street. The mission sits on a bluff, looking out over miles of agricultural farm land with mountains in the distance. Dark clouds with small patches of sunlight and low hanging fog created a beautiful pastoral scene.

We registered and warmed up while the crowd of participants and families grew. By the time the race began, the clouds had thinned. Running made the chill much more bearable as we set out on the course. It was a hard race for me. I started too fast and walked just after the turn around point.

After the race, I headed for the Mission. Visiting all of the California Missions is on my Wish List. So far, I've been to the mission in Carmel, San Francisco and Santa Rosa.

The artifacts inside fascinated me. These people attempted to recreate their home in Spain in the wild west. I envisioned ornate objects being hauled over steep trails and wicked switchbacks by horse and Indian. The cemetery shows the sad facts of the impact on the local people: over 4000 graves, mostly Indians.

I went through the mission while my partner watched the awards and claimed his prize. The church r
eminded me of churches in Mexico, the clothed statutes, copious blood on Christ. I love visiting churches and other places of worship. Something struck me at this church that I thought different. Behind the alter, the statues were displayed in the wall, very theatrical and a little strange.

All but one corner of the garden was being renovated. The orange trees were heavy with fruit and flowers proliferated. It was quiet, serene, timeless. I took a deep breath, a last look at the parlor and then rejoined the world outside the mission.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Marine Immersion

On December 26 we decided to take the kids to San Francisco's Pier 39 for a day of fun at The Aquarium of the Bay. I have had this on my Wish List for a long time so I was elated!

We found free 2-hour parking which was perfect for our needs. We walked about 3 bloc
ks to the aquarium and waited in line for tickets for about 5 minutes. Once inside, the journey through the exhibits was well-directed. The layout is such that you enter one door, are lead through a series of exhibits via moving walkways and a manned elevator ride to the activities room and store at the exit. It's a small aquarium, but the price is right. I dallied off the walkways, taking pictures of the kids and exhibits and was thankful for doing so as the end came just a little too soon.

The tunnels were great! I remember walking through a similar tunnel at SeaWorld in Florida when I was a kid. This exhibit features a variety of sharks and rays, some tuna and many other fish. The jellies were spectacular and the smaller exhibits were beautifully lit. The touch-pool room was fabulous. In addition to
sea cucumbers and urchins, rays and a tide pool, they had a leopard shark pool. I love that stuff!

While the kids made origami frogs in the activities room, I watched the educational film. After we read the posters with information about crabs, octopi and other sea creatures, we meandered through the remaining activities in the room and left the aquarium for a walk around the pier.

It was a brisk, sunny day and the pier was bustling. At the end of the pier, tourists gathered to see the sea lions basking on the docks. We took a few pictures and headed for the car. With 5 minutes to spare, we pulled out of our space and decided to stop at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach on the way home.

We got there about half an hour before sunset. Tide was out and the light was soft. Much of the southern portion of the exposed rock was cordoned off because sea lions were pupping. We could see them off in the distance. I managed to get some great pictures of hermit crabs before the light faded.

After a full day of exploration and adventure we packed up and drove my partner's eldest daughter home before returning home ourselves. With another item checked off my Wish List, I feel satisfied and optimistic about what tomorrow will bring. I love living in California.

Holiday Break from Running

December 24, 2008.

The man is getting the children all snug in their beds and I'm taking a moment to read a few blogs and post a quickie update. The read made me feel a little better.

Oh, I know I can lose my conditioning. But am I at all provoked to tear myself from the hand mixer, sprinkles and chopped nuts? Can I blame my lack of enthusiasm to get on th
e treadmill on the holidays? Or that I'd rather play air hockey, search for newts and lizards, or hang out at the Santa Cruz Wharf? I did 2 miles a couple of days ago and did manage a strength training.

Yesterday, we walked the Redwood Grove Trail at Henry Cowell with the kids. We were in search of banana slugs and counted 17 before we got to the hotel suite; a large redwood whose cavernous trunk had been available as a hotel room many years ago. We ran from that point to the Visitor's Center. After making prints of animal tracks and learning about the local wild life at the Center, we ran to the entrance of the park.
The young 'uns left me in the dust. We're supposed to do a 6.8 miler New Years Day (if the rain stops)...but I'm wondering, will I remember how?

And then, I think... maybe this is my rest. Time for the body to heal a little and prepare for the year ahead. I have a lot planned and still have some thinking to do about goals for 2009. In the meantime, I'll have another Pecan Butter Ball. Yum!