Sunday, June 13, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 5

I don't know where the last three weeks went, but I have literally not completed a single stitch on my Great Wave piece. 

Some good weather, a weekend away, a couple of in-person races (the first in over a year!) and, well, I guess that's where the last three weeks went!

But here's where I am on the project -- it should look pretty familiar! And I still love the sky so much.



I am absolutely sure that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long have been much more productive than I have, so check out their blogs and see:


See you in three weeks, and I PROMISE to have done at least a tiny bit of stitching!

Monday, June 7, 2021

North Olympic Discovery Marathon Half Marathon race report

The bright morning streaming into our great VRBO woke us up plenty early, which meant we had time for a leisurely breakfast before walking down the ZigZag to get on the shuttle to the half marathon start. This race -- like the marathon -- would be a point-to-point race, so participants were bussed out to their respective starting spots and would all run toward the same finish line. 

We had been to the race expo the afternoon before -- a nice little affair, very well laid out and organized. We bought some RTP swag -- I mean, how could I resist these silicon pint glasses???

We also showed our vaccination card to receive a VACCINATED wristband, which meant we could board one of the vaccinated-only buses, so we didn't have to wait as long. We also picked up a wristband for the EAGLE CHALLENGE, so that we could pick up our handsome challenge medal at the finish. 


Finally, we picked up our nice, long-sleeved shirts and our race bibs. I'm gonna say it again -- these Run The Peninsula races are great!

We got on the shuttle -- which was admittedly weird because we were on a bus with a bunch of people. I mean, we had all been vaccinated and had to prove it, so it was as safe as possible... but it still felt weird. 

The start was next to some soccer fields that were near the trail, leaving room for a water station, a bunch of porta-potties, and plenty of room to space out in corrals. 


Of course we visited the porta-potties. Nice organization with the flags to create spaced-out mini lines!


We got in our corrals and, of course, took the obligatory pre-race photo. Ahh, I'd missed this all so much!


Again, small waves were started about a minute apart, and we never felt crowded.


Classic starting line photo -- both of us looking at our watches!


I'll be honest, I didn't take many photos of the course, which followed the lovely North Olympic Discovery Trail from Sequim to Port Angeles. Lots of lush green woods and fields, and only a handful of street crossings. And the occasional funny sign like this: 


Or this useful, soothing sign: 


(I mean, I would be happy to know that any gunfire I heard was at a gun club rather than lunatics picking off runners on the trail!)

The race was pretty small, which I loved, which also meant we were stretched out along the course. Every so often we would pass someone, or someone would pass us. Eventually the lead marathoner -- who did have a one-hour head start! -- passed us by, running strong and led by a bike escort to keep his path clear. Exciting!

Just past our halfway mark the course split temporarily, with the half marathoners doing a little out-and-back on a quiet road to pick up some distance. It was the first time we really had much of a view of the rest of the pack, and I was reassured that there were still a lot of folks behind us. Always makes me feel a bit better!

Soon we were headed down a long gradual descent and back to the shoreline for the final very very pretty 3 miles. Full disclosure: I didn't take this picture on race day; I took it when we were in Port Angeles for the Elwha Bridge 5K in January and walked this stretch. 


Eventually we neared the finish -- again, how great to have a small crowd of spectators at the finish line! To hear applause, and to have our names called out by an announcer!


And, of course, we held hands as we crossed the finish. :)

After the race we got out handsome challenge medal for completing the Eagle Challenge, having run the 5K the day before. You know I can't resist a challenge, right?



There's so much to love about this race, and this series in general. Always quality swag, and it's great that it's different and useful for each race in the series. Excellent communication from the race organizers, a well-marked course, plenty of volunteers, well-stocked aid stations, and nice post-race food. I'm already considering the series again in 2022 (perhaps?), and looking forward to the next race in the series. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

North Olympic Discovery Marathon 5K race report


Late in 2019 a friend told me about a race series over on the Olympic Peninsula called "Run the Peninsula". The medals and swag were great, and it seemed like a great chance to plan five weekend getaways over the course of 2020 in one of my favorite parts of the state. 

We ran the Elwha Bridge 5K in January 2020, and then, well, COVID-19 hit and the rest of the series went virtual... and we dutifully completed each race, reported our results, and collected our medals.

When the series was announced for 2021, we decided to sign up again -- even knowing that at least the early races would be virtual. In-person events were held for the 2021 Elwha Bridge 5K and 2021 Railroad Bridge 10K, but we just weren't feeling like it would be safe for us to participate because we weren't able to be vaccinated yet. 

We even went to the race locations -- spending the weekend quietly in Port Angeles for the Elwha Bridge 5K in January and in Sequim for the Railroad Bridge 10K in April (but just running different stretches of the trail to avoid needing to be around a lot of people). 

But it was really exciting to be fully vaccinated and ready to attend our first in-person race in over a year!

In normal years the NODM 5K takes place the same day that all the NODM events do -- but in order to reduce crowding at the start, both the 5K and 10K were moved to Saturday. Even better, the organizers added a CHALLENGE. 

Now, I love a race challenge -- running events back to back is one of my favorite silly running things to do. So of COURSE I signed us up for the 5K for the Saturday!

We got up early and took the first ferry from Edmonds, making it to Port Angeles in plenty of time to get great free parking right near the start. 

First and foremost, it was so great to feel that "before the race" vibe ... even if it did make me feel a little weird to be around that many people. 

We picked up our bibs and shirts, dropped them off at the car, and then milled about. 


The permits for the race required everyone wear face coverings and the start, and the vast majority complied (happily). 


Eventually we were asked to go into our corrals. I'm not gonna lie, this made me slightly edgy -- this was the most people I had been near since February 2020! 


The organizers did a good job of separating out the corrals, sending a few dozen out past the start at one-minute intervals. It's a great way to start a race just to reduce crowding -- even in non-COVID times! I was jittery and antsy -- it's been a long time since I ran a race -- even though I wasn't trained or even really prepared to run. I was just excited to feel the "pre-race feeling" again. 

Finally it was our turn, and we slipped in at the back of our corral. Perfect. You can see the gap behind us, and the back of the race director as she held the next corral back. Oh, and you can see our masks, which we pulled down not long after this pic as they weren't required for the actual race. 


The race was an out-and-back along the lovely Olympic Discovery Trail. Almost pancake flat, and we just moseyed along. We chatted with some other runners, made a point of thanking all the volunteers we saw, and got to the turnaround surprisingly smoothly. 

Then back the way we came, this time into a bit of a headwind. It was fun to run into the finish chute with ACTUAL SPECTATORS. Not a lot, mind you, but people clapped and cheered. 


And, of course, we crossed the finish line holding hands :)



We picked up our medals -- super handsome, like everything in this race series -- as well as some post-race snacks largely for the experience of picking up post-race snacks like in the "old days"!


In general, this race was excellent -- great organization, great pre-race communication, nice shirt, gorgeous medal, a pretty, traffic-free course, well-stocked water stops, and generous post-race food. We even got to trade a tag on our bib for a post-race beer at a local restaurant (which we did later in the day). 

I certainly didn't run my best 5K -- heck, I barely managed any running at all. But being able to participate in an in-person event was exciting enough. And the next day we would be running the half marathon!



Sunday, May 23, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 4

As I have been slooooowwwwllllyyyy stitching this piece, I have been amazed by the soft colors of the sky, and the fact that it was a woodblock print. Literally thousands of these prints were sold when the artwork was new; the publisher printing as many as the cherry wood blocks could handle. 

I've recently learned that Hokusai died on May 10, 1849. I wonder if I can finish this piece by May 10, 2022? In theory, yes -- but then I think about the other little projects I might want to intersperse... Still, it's nice to have a goal with a set date. That said, I reserve the right to throw that date out the window at any time!

I'm definitely getting ahead of myself, of course. Here's where I was last time:


Just look at that sky! I love it!

And here's where I am now:



A bit short of my goal for this round, but with the nicer weather and being fully vaccinated (hooray!) we have been a bit less hermit-like. I was able to hug my mom for the first time in over a year, and was able to get together with friends for the first time in a year. And it felt GREAT. Stitching can wait a bit!

My fellow stitchers always do amazing work, in a wide variety of styles. Visit their blogs and get inspired!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 3

Hi everyone!

This check-in snuck up on me -- again, where did the three weeks go? Well... here's where I was last time, a tiny sliver of stitching of the Great Wave:


Three weeks later, I have finished three half columns, that's about 1/12th of the project. It still amazes me how detailed the sky is in the artwork!


So I suppose I might finish this in the next year... I hope to get two more half-columns done in the next three weeks.

In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long. They do amazing work, and it always inspires me!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 2


Hi everyone! Not sure where the three weeks have gone! I'm just getting started on Hokusai's "Great Wave Off Kanagawa", which means there's not much to see. I love the original woodblock print, and the closer I look at the pattern, the more I learn about it. There are so many details to see! 

Here's where I was last time, just getting a tiny start: 


I soon realized that I really would need the gridlines I'd seen so many of the talented stitchers in this stitch-a-long use. I have in the past, on the small projects I've worked on, done the main central lines, but this piece is much larger than I am used to. 

I also realized that I would be better off with the frame rolled horizontally -- meaning I wouldn't have to reach so high around the frame.  So I took it off, re-mounted it, and stitched a lot of grid lines... every ten stitches. 

I really wasn't sure how big a piece to work on at a time; inspired by Japanese writing, I decided to work top to bottom, right to left, in columns. (Top half first, anyway...)


The colors are so subtle, but I love how they show the stormy sky. 


I only got one slightly wide (13 stitches, a per the pattern) column done, plus another one started. At this rate, you'll be seeing this project for the next 18 months!!! 

In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long. I know at least a couple of them are doing happy dances today because they have finished their most recent projects -- which is always inspiring!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Outstanding Blogger Award

The fabulously talented Kathy from Sewing, Etc. nominated me for the Outstanding Blogger Award, which was a nice surprise. She gave her nominees five questions to answer, and I like how I had to think about each one before I could answer. 

How do you learn best? Lessons, watching, a mentor? 

I learn best by using my hands. Whether it's a new craft, a dance step, or something technical like Google Analytics, I could watch someone do something for hours, but until I actually try it for myself (over and over, in some cases), it just won't make sense to me. 

Did you do post high school training to prepare you for a career? If yes, what was it, and are still doing that? If no, tell us how you got to the career you are doing!

After high school I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next – I studied fashion design for a couple of years! Through that I fell in love with the history of costume, which then led me to study history. I set my sights on a PhD and becoming a professor, but then while taking a break from writing my thesis after my doctoral exams, I took a job as the history books editor at Amazon.com – possibly the best job I could have imagined at the time! I read books, wrote book reviews, recommended books, interviewed authors, and learned a lot about early ecommerce and email marketing. 

I've always said I didn't have a career path so much as a career trail system – I've worked in publishing, managed brand aesthetics for a major telecom company, developed email marketing programs in the outdoors industry, and, for a couple of very cool years, wrote and edited travel guides. I love projects where I can feel useful, help people have great experiences, and most of all learn something. So I'm not sure my university education formally prepared me for it, in the traditional sense, but it did point me in the right direction! 

What do you look for in a friend? 

I look for someone who makes me laugh, someone I can trust, and someone who loves to learn new things and have new experiences. 

Early Bird or Night Owl? 

A younger me would have definitely said night owl, but now I wake up a little after 6 a.m. every day without an alarm and then start the day with a 4-mile walk to a park with a view of Puget Sound. Our morning walks have really helped keep us sane during the COVID year, and we hope to continue them as life gets back to "normal". 

Favorite instrument to listen to? 

This is tough – I feel like the only real answer I could give is the stereo! I love violins and the many ways they are played. But I think more than anything, I love the sound of the human voice. I can't sing well myself (I can't even sing Happy Birthday in tune!), but I like to sing along with music. 

I had never learned to play an instrument – any instrument – but a couple of years ago my husband gave me a ukulele and lessons for Christmas. Learning to pluck and strum simple tunes and sing along to them was a real joy. I haven't kept up with it, but every time I pick it up and play something simple like "Jambalaya" it makes me smile.

I really appreciate the nomination, Kathy; though I admit I don't really know many bloggers, and am a bit of an oddball, blogging wise, having started this blog to track our running training, then documented our travel, and nowadays mainly crafting and the occasional hike! That said, one day we'll get to travel again.

If I was going to ask my own set of questions, I'd ask the following:

1. When we are all past the coronavirus lockdowns, and it's safe to travel again, where is the first place you want to go? Assume there are no restrictions on your time, budget, etc. 

2. What is your favorite book, and why?

3. If you could only eat one dish or cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

5. Big party or intimate gathering -- where are you happier?

Feel free to post your answers in the comments below; I'd love to know more about my readers!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! It's happy dance time!

Last time I had decided to work on both the Starry Night embroidery and the sashiko bag. And, well, I finished the stitching on both! In fact, I got my sewing machine out and actually finished off the bag:



I had some fun fabric printed with origami rabbits, which seemed like a good match, so used it for the lining. 


It's fun and satisfying to make something "useful" -- though to be honest, I use the other sashiko bag I made a couple of years ago to hold.... you guessed it, my sashiko supplies!

I also finished the stitching on the Starry Night embroidery:


I got into a rhythm and by the time I started to embroider the cypress trees in the foreground I was really happy with it. Amusingly, when I compare it to Van Gogh's painting, the color is much different. But I still like the piece. 

The real challenge, now, is to figure out what to do with it now that it's done. I mean, I'm pretty sure we have established that I don't need any more pillows! And I don't want to hang it on the wall. The circular shape makes it a little more challenging, weirdly, as does the fact that it's 8" in diameter. I suspect I'll end up appliquéing to something... but I don't know what. I'd welcome suggestions! 

So... the next project. It's Hokusai's "Great Wave off Kanugawa". 


It's a large piece, 206x140 stitches. I've decided to break it into smaller pieces, though I've never done a large, full-coverage cross stitch project like this so I honestly don't know how big each section should be! But for now I've cut off one strip from the right side of the very large chart and diving in. Not much to see yet!


At the end of three weeks I'll have a better idea of how long this will take. But I suspect you'll be seeing this project for a Very Long Time. 

In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long -- you're sure to be inspired by all the amazing things they do!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

New Project(s) Stitch-a-Long, part 1

When we last checked in, three weeks ago, I was trying to decide what project to work on next because I finished stitching Mister Tiger! Would it be the small but for me stressful freeform embroidery of "Starry Night"? Or the big full-coverage cross-stitch of a classic Hokusai print? Or the small and in the end functional sashiko bag? 

Well, first things first -- I ordered trim and fabric off the internet, crossed my fingers, and made up the Tiger needlepoint into a cushion. The trim isn't perfect -- even if I had been able to shop in person it is always a challenge for trims, isn't it? -- but all in all I like how it turned out. 



Of course, now it's clear I have a PROBLEM and probably am not allowed to make any more needlepoint cushions. 

Kiki says "there is no room for me on the couch"

But back to the next project. I liked what a few people suggested -- balancing the freeform embroidery with the tidy, ordered world of sashiko. I have been trying to focus more on the Starry Night piece -- it' the one I find more difficult, so I am trying to work on it first. Not so much force myself -- hey, this is supposed to be fun, right? -- as flex myself. And though I think the colors aren't all that true to the original painting, I'm happy with what I have done so far. 



Most of the piece is done in long and short stitch, with a bit of satin stitch and some backstitching on the "village". I'm now using reverse chain stitch to fill in the trees and give them a little different texture. 




I plan on finishing this up over this nice long weekend; it's my husband's birthday and we're heading off to a cozy cabin in a state park a couple of hours north of here. Heating, electricity, a full bathroom, but no television or internet, and only limited phone service. Bliss!

I also plan on finishing the stitching on this cute sashiko bag. I've gotten a little over half of one side done, so finishing the stitching on that is next up. 



No bonus points for guessing what project will follow these two! I made copies of the big charts and am going to try to approach it like a lot of my fellow stitchers in this stitch-a-long do; by stitching one section at a time. As someone who usually stitches by color in bunches, I'm not sure how that will go!


But I'm getting way ahead of myself. I'll report back in three weeks. In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long -- you're sure to be inspired by all the amazing things they do!

Avis, Claire, Gun, CaroleConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Also, a fond farewell to Sue who is leaving our stitch-a-long. I'll miss checking in with her every three weeks!

Monday, February 15, 2021

2021 Elwha Bridge 5K Race Report



In 2020, the Elwha Bridge 5K was the last in-person event we were able to attend. Sadly -- obviously, only a minor sadness compared to the world's worth of sadness in 2020 -- the other four races in the series had to be virtual events. Still, we we so impressed by the organization, planning, and, yes, the swag that we signed up for the Run The Peninsula series again in 2021. I mean, look at this year's medals!


As things are looking up, this race was permitted to be held in person. But -- and this is our discomfort -- we weren't ready to run with even a small number of heavy breathers. (Ourselves included.) So despite having already booked the hotel in Port Angeles again, we decided to participate virtually. 

The RD was very understanding, and let us swap our registrations to virtual events, and even shipped us our swag early to make sure we'd have it on time. See, we had decided that we still wanted and deserved a weekend away -- just a very isolated one. 

So on Friday afternoon we packed up and headed out. We made the first ferry, and even got across the Hood Canal Bridge with no trouble. We were a little sad not to be given an upstairs room at the hotel, but turns out the top floor was being renovated, so we didn't have upstairs neighbors anyway!

We ordered some food for takeout, then came back to the room, listened to music, watched random TV, and ate in bed. Bliss!


We got up early in the morning -- a nice but chilly day. We put on our running gear walked out of the front of the hotel, and ran eastward along the Olympic Discovery Trail. The sun was just coming up and we had the trail nearly to ourselves -- during our entire run we encountered a total of 11 other people, and were able to stay distant from them all. 


We set our watches for 3.1 miles, and ran and walked until we hit the distance. You can tell I did run -- my glasses were steamed up!


Note that we're both wearing our RTP buffs; part of the swag from this event. Oh, and of course we carried our medals with us for our finisher pic!

As I said before, the swag was fun and useful: the custom buff, no-tie shoelaces, and a luggage tag. 


And, yes, this very cute medal. 


Sure, it was, for us, only a virtual run. But we have such good memories of last year that I felt like it still deserved a proper race report. 

We spent the rest of the weekend in our cozy hotel room, going for walks along the trail, finally climbing up that viewing tower on the pier, and enjoying the different scenery.

The next race in the series is scheduled for April 24, in Sequim. I don't hold a lot of hope that we'll have been vaccinated by then, so we will probably run this remotely, too. We'll see. I think we'll still head over to the peninsula for a little R&R!



Elwha River Bridge 5K

42:30

13:41 pace