Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Bike to Beachathlon

Sound like a "real" event? Ha! No. This little outing was my personal biking and running event on Sunday. I started out in Marysville, rode my bike 5.5 miles to my parents' house at the beach, ran 12.12 miles on the beach, and then spent the rest of the day there, ending with a big Father's Day dinner that evening.*

Essentially I guess this would be a duathlon. I would have liked to add a third event to make it a triathlon, such as kayaking (my preference) or swimming (again, ha! is in order), but time and circumstances did not allow. The only third event I can claim would be, perhaps, eating!

The weather, however, turned out to be perfect for all activities. Before I was about to leave for my parents' house I called my mom's cell phone (catching her as my parents were arriving at church) to warn her that I was arriving by bike, so that she'd know I was there when they got home, even though there would be no car in the driveway. She said, "It's pouring out!" I looked outside and it had, in fact, started raining, a pretty steady though fine rain. I was undeterred, though. The bike ride was short and I wouldn't mind running in the rain, if it continued. I did, however, change out of my running clothes for the ride so I wouldn't arrive at my parents' house soaked.

By the time I changed and drank another cup of coffee the rain had pretty much stopped, although the streets were still wet and sort of splattery. I took off at about 8:45 and set my Garmin; even though it was on running rather than biking I just wanted to use it to track the distance (and get an idea of my speed, although I wasn't trying to be fast at all).

The ride was pretty uneventful, through Marysville and out to Tulalip. I hadn't ever ridden my bike out that way before, even in my younger serious biking days, because up until a few years ago the road was narrow and fast and dangerous. In the last few years they've widened the road, added a bike lane and sidewalks, reduced the speed limit, and it's a lot better for riding now, obviously. There were only two hills, one sort of long and the other quite short, and within 25 minutes I was turning onto my parents' road. Once in the neighborhood I rode up and back down another hill, just to increase my total distance a bit, then rolled my bike into the yard and let myself into the house. (Here I am at the end of the biking portion of the event.)

After changing back into running clothes and having yet another cup of coffee (amazingly, I didn't have any bathroom issues during the run), I headed down the stairs to the beach. My challenge was this: 12 miles on the schedule for today, but the maximum length of my beach route was 6 miles. Some creative running was called for.

The morning tide on Sunday was amazingly low, less than minus 3 feet, and I started out about half an hour before low tide. (Meant to be earlier, but wasn't.) Regardless, I was going to have lots of beach for a long time.

Because of the earlier weather, I started out wearing a jacket, but after less than one minute I stopped and tied it around my waist. (I couldn't leave it behind because I was carrying stuff in my pockets.) The weather continued to improve over the two-plus hours of my run.

I've said many times, running on the beach is slow, and today was no exception. Especially since the first quarter to half mile was rocky. After a while I was able to run on packed sand, which was much more pleasant, and a bit speedier (just a bit, mind you). As with all runs, the first few miles are the hardest. It's always hard to believe at two miles that I am going to keep running for ten more miles! My turnaround point, at the "end of the beach," is slightly less than three miles along. Today, thanks to the extra-low tide, I was able to stretch it to the three mile point.
When I was young we used to collect pieces of driftwood that looked like animals. Doesn't this log on the beach look like some strange animal?

On my return trip I began experimenting with lengthening the distance. First, I decided to double back and re-run any portion of the beach that was a good (non-rocky) running surface. As I progressed, I became more ritualistic, picking landmarks on the beach where I would turn around and double my segment. I got so good at this that I was over six miles by the time I got back to the beginning of Mission Beach! (Normally this would be about 4.5 miles.) This piling decorated like a totem pole was a landmark I used several times.

By then I figured I could hit eight miles, even ten, by the time I got to the beach house. So I just continued my back and forth repeats. Since I was doing this on the better surfaces, I was able to increase my pace to 10:30 or faster for a number of miles. Believe me, this was an accomplishment!

In the end, my scheme was so successful that I was almost at 12 miles by the time I got to the cabin. I just had to run past for a short stretch to finish my distance. I actually first stopped at 12.11 miles, but then started up again so I could hit 12.12 (I'm funny that way).

After sitting in the sun on the deck for a while, I headed back up the stairs to the house (120 steps!) to take a shower and change. Then it was time to hang out and eat good food!

After the run.

*One of the perks of running 12.12 miles is about 1400 calories added to my meager daily allotment.

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