Posted tagged ‘Halibut Point State Park’

Catching Up, Eagle Sighting and Raw Cashew Cream

November 4, 2014

Blogging has taken a backseat these days—there have been a myriad of changes in my life and I have been busy focused on adjusting to divorce, moving, a new relationship, and a significantly greater workload.  No complaints here, though.  Life is good.  My ex and I have remained friends, my new relationship is a blessing I was not expecting, and work is physical and fun.  I am still teaching vegan cooking in a group setting on a monthly basis, as well as in private settings for individuals.  I am still running!  Definitely not the 50+ miles each week like last year, as I am doing a lot more personal training and wellness coaching for work, as well as teaching group fitness three times each week for the Recreation Department of my town.

This morning I had the opportunity for a long run.  My early client cancelled last minute and I found myself racing through Halibut Point State Park, enjoying the late fall scenery with it’s nearly-bare trees, glass-surfaced quarry and vast expanse of ocean view.  With the hours of cross-training I have been logging with work, running feels easier than ever.  This was one of those days where breath, legs and mind were all on board from the moment I stepped out the door.  I felt as though my feet barely touched the ground and I don’t think I heard a single song on my playlist after the first mile.  Running is meditation just as much as it is physical exercise, maybe even more than ever before. I did get to see an eagle perched on a treetop as I ran home. Not that I noticed it myself—a pram-pushing mama pointed it out for me. Magnificent.

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Teaching vegan cooking is a joyful experience.  The people who come to my classes are enthusiastic, open-minded, and excited to learn each month.  My amazing photographer has been recovering from a broken ankle, so I am sorry to say I have none of her beautiful pictures to share in this post.  She is coming along nicely in her healing so am hoping to she will be back soon to take photos and notes for me.  It makes me realize how fortunate I am. It’s amazing how good people are to me and how much I depend on the kindness, generosity and skills of those around me to help me get through and be successful in this life.

In the meantime, I want to share a very easy cashew cream recipe.  I posted earlier about cashew cream and the recipe called for roasting the cashews first.  That recipe is delicious!  This recipe is even creamier than the first, and without the roasted flavor, it is even more versatile.  Used in vegan chowders, cream soups and cream sauces, the rich, thick texture lends a sensual mouth-feel and no one ever misses the dairy.

Raw Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

1 c whole raw cashews

filtered water

Method:

Rinse the cashews in cold filtered water and drain.  Place the cashews in a medium sized bowl and cover with filtered water.  Soak for at least 20 minutes, but overnight is a great choice.  Without soaking, the cashew cream will not be as creamy.

Drain and rinse the cashews after they have soaked.  Place in high-powered blender and add 1 c filtered water.  Blend on low until the cashews start to move around easily.  Turn blender speed to high and blend until completely smooth.

I always double this recipe and freeze what I don’t use.  It’s great to have a stock of some basics ready to go when I find myself standing in the kitchen, pondering what to make for dinner.  Consider pasta primavera, pasta al invierno, sweet potato and corn chowder, creamy tomato soup, creamed spinach with cumin, cayenne and cubed tofu—bring it on, winter!  Hearty food awaits!  More to come…

Resilient and Relentless

January 28, 2012

The sun shines bright in a clear blue sky this morning; the wind is light. The air is cool but not cold, fresh and tangy with salt.  I am dressed for a run, the bad knee covered in gauze and wrapped in paper tape.  Although I absolutely cannot squat down, I can move forward.  I can barely wait to get back on the road.

This is one of those runs where I am so grateful to be out here that I have no goals in mind— I am not watching the clock, I am not planning a set distance.  I’m going until I’ve had enough and whatever that looks like is just fine with me.  A revised running playlist is in order on my iPod and I start out listening to OutKast’s “Git Up, Git Out”.  Perfect.

I run the first mile easy, easy, listening to my body for any signs of protest.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People pounds in my ears as I pass by Front Beach and Back Beach.  The heel does not hurt.  The left shoulder and hip feel good.  My arms are still a bit sore, but I don’t mind.  As I finish my warm up and pick up my pace I turn onto Granite Street to the melted-chocolate-rich vocals of Notorious B.I.G. rapping “Can’t You See”, a great tune from the soundtrack to the film The Wackness.  I run uphill and then down, cringing inside as I pass the spot by the Tool Company where I wiped out the other day.

Before I know it, I’m all the way to Halibut Point State Park, listening to Journey’s “Any Way You Want It”.  The song and the air and the wind in the trees and the blue, blue sky are deliciously satisfying to every sense, and the touch of each foot on the soft ground is almost unbearably good.  I gasp aloud with pleasure as I pass the deep quarry set in front of the vast expanse of ocean all visible from the path.

A family is out for a walk on the thick wood chip path that leads out of the park.  The dad is lumbering ahead, the mother and two tiny little red-haired  girls trail behind him, laughing, loving this morning as I am.  I think tiny hurdles as I zip past, laughing.  The two little girls call out after me, hi, hi, and I turn my head and wave to them as I head back to the street.  I take the long way, first down Phillip’s Ave., then Point De Chene, my breath in sweet rhythm with the motion of my legs.  The sound of Girl Talk’s “Bounce That” and “Peak Out” play as I turn back toward town.  I sprint down Broadway fast enough that my hair flies out behind me; I watch my shadow for a moment and see one long-legged runner move with joy.

I run eight miles this morning.  I trot up the final hill, listening once more to The Notorious B.I.G., this time the song “Sky’s the Limit” and I agree, grateful for having a resilient body and a relentless passion for running.

Ready

April 29, 2011

The weather, oh, the weather!  It’s warm enough to run in shorts, cool enough for long sleeves and a cap most mornings.  Light, sweet breezes push me along.  Everyone is out running, walking, gardening, happy.  Magnolias are out in full force, cherry blossoms explode in pink and white.   Their sweet smell mingles with the fresh scent of salt air.  Even the misty mornings feel delicious against my bare legs.

Cars zoom by and people I don’t even know wave and beep ‘good morning’.  I ran by a dog yesterday and I swear it smiled at me.  The owner proudly held the leash and the pooch trotted along beside him with his eyes on me, looking like he wouldn’t mind coming along for a couple of miles if I would only take the leash in my own hand.

I start off thinking “Okay, just the six this morning”, but reach Andrew’s Point and instead of looping around, my feet, all of their own accord, take me up the long, slow hill at the other end of Phillip’s Ave.  I can’t bear the thought of not taking the little loop through Halibut Point State Park, and the long, delicious downhill on the return route along Granite Street. I press up Phillip’s, enjoying the way the pavement seems to glide beneath my worn out Nike Free sneakers.

Halibut Point is greening, the leaves popping brightly.  Yesterday I caught a glimpse of a wild pheasant pecking for bugs in the tall grass beside the edge of the woods.  It’s bright tail feathers disappeared as I bounded past, and I slowed to watch in delight.  The soft mulch path sprang up to meet my sneakers as I made my way back to the road.

Each run this week has seemed easier than the last, if that is possible.  Nothing less than six and a half, but averaging about eight.  I’m loaded with energy and excitement each time I head out the door.  I have been singing along with whatever is playing on my iPod (and hoping no one is listening!) and maintaining my speed on the hills, even the big ones.  A lot of the time, I feel as though I barely touch the ground.   I’m surprised by the way the miles and the time slip by, leaving me wanting more.

The Twin Lights Half Marathon is coming up soon. A week of hotel treadmills and too much driving left me wondering if I will really be ready.  Today’s 10.5 in just shy of 90 minutes relieves me of my worry.  As I sprinted up the last hill home this perfect April morning, I knew I’d be just fine.

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March 15, 2011

The original title of this post was “Gym Rat”, but since I limped almost a mile home from my run this morning, I decided to delve a bit deeper into my vocabulary and psyche and find the truth here.  What I have discovered is that it’s really about the repercussions of perfidy, with a touch of James Cameron thrown in for good measure…

I recently joined a local gym  to learn how the equipment works.   I want to help some of my personal training clients who have gym memberships; my personal trainer certification course did not include learning the functions and use of gym equipment.  If a client really loves the gym and that works for them, I need to be able to adjust their exercise prescription to accommodate what they want.   I also thought it would be a great opportunity to mix up my workouts.  After the amazing Body Combat class I attended with my friend Charlene, I realized how much I loved the way it felt to move my body so differently.  The gym I joined is very affordable and only about 10 minutes away from home.  It’s open every day from 5 am to 11 pm, and offers a few classes.  Not Body Combat, but kick-boxing, spinning, and kettle bell classes.

I learned on my first visit that I should have made an initial appointment if I wanted someone to show me around.  I also learned that the gym has a solid core of members, many of them also personal trainers.  Friendly faces greeted me as I made my way around the machine circuit, and a woman who was working out stopped to show me how to use an entire roomful of machines.  She was tiny and unbelievably strong, without a lick of judgment.  She quickly demonstrated upper body and lower body moves, then waved me on each piece to try.  She kindly adjusted the weights so I could actually perform a set of reps on each one without rupturing my muscles.

My second visit included another learning session, this time with a kind and patient man.  He took his time instructing me on equipment I had not yet tried.  He showed me how to check my form in the mirrors.  Every wall in the gym is mirrored!  I felt self-conscious and had a hard time focusing, but after a little while, I got into it and felt like Wonder Woman  after an hour.

I met one of my clients on the third visit, and was able to go through most of the gym fairly knowledgeably, planning out a program for either a fast, intense workout or a longer, more relaxed one.  We used the treadmills and the elliptical machines last, and reviewed intervals on both.  I left him jogging on a treadmill, both of us satisfied with the new plan.

I made three trips to the gym last week.  Some muscles ached a little bit, but overall I felt pretty good.  I ran before I went each time, not trusting I would get an adequate workout without it, and also because the thought of not running outside was unbearable.  I have found a couple of things I love:  a pull-up assist machine, an upright core machine, and a weighted squat machine.  All three give me the support I need to work upper body, core, and lower body in a fresh new way.

I have also found a couple of things I strongly dislike:  the elliptical and the treadmill.  One of the best aspects of running for me is the satisfaction of landing.  I was not aware of this until I used the elliptical for 15 minutes.  I felt like I was in the film Avatar.  I remembered when the avatars ran, they seemed to glide, barely touching their feet to the ground.  Each time my leg came down, it just slid behind me.  My quads seemed like they were about to explode.  I could not find a rhythm, could not find a cadence that made me feel grounded.  And that grounded feeling translates to my mind and all that I am when I run.

Another aspect of running that satisfies me is movement.  Specifically, forward movement.  The treadmill is stationary, even though I’m running.  I could not let go of the feeling of being out of control, of being about to fall.  A nasty sensation of not being in the driver’s seat (or the runner’s feet?) overwhelmed me as the belt went around and around beneath me.  I held the side handles for dear life, raising the incline to 12 to try and lose that feeling.  12 was fine, actually, since I like hills, but not really what I wanted in terms of running.  Here’s where the perfidy comes in.  To top it all off I felt guilty, as if I were cheating on my one true fitness love.  Even as my legs spun around and around the belt, I found myself fantasizing about being outdoors, feeling the air against my skin, my feet softly landing on the ground like butterfly kisses over and over again.

My running partner Sue and I went to the gym together on Sunday.  She showed me her regular upper body routine, I showed her some of the lower body machines I had learned, we did core work together, then we split.  She hopped on one of the elliptical machines while I finished a circuit I liked from last week.  I joined her for and extra 15 minutes of cardio. Right away my left quad started to twinge.  Avatar!  Avatar! I just wanted it to be over.  I wanted the real me.  Outside.

So—lots of new moves, and extra workout time.  I should be feeling pretty good.  But I miss my free weights.  I miss my living room.  I miss the plyometrics and balance work.  And although I am still running outside, I somehow sense an ugly, passionless infidelity when I am at the gym.

Now for the repercussions.

This morning I planned to run the usual six miles.  The cold spring air opened my heart and my mind; I decided to go on to Halibut Point.  I have finally figured out a loop from the street that takes me through the park and all I could think about was the view of the sea from that long dirt road, with the feel of the earth beneath my feet.  The connection between mind and body is strongest in this place.

My left quad started feeling cranky as I exited the park.  I slowed down, easing my way along the side of Granite Street.  I foolishly turned onto Curtis Street, then Stockholm, thinking that the pain would subside.  I slowed even more when I turned down Story Street, and took it easy all the way to Beach Street, skipping the lovely downhill sprint I adore.  I wanted to run home.

I made it to the bandstand by Back Beach before listening to my body and giving in.  I walked the last .8 miles home, shoving the pain and fear back down each time it rose up inside me.  I fought back tears, trying to distract myself from the throbbing ache in my thigh and the acute awareness of the short two months until the Twin Lights Half Marathon.  I hobbled through my front door, swearing my allegiance to what works for me, ready to heal and get back to training for my first half marathon out in the real world.

Snowshoeing at Halibut Point

January 26, 2011

Poles again in hand, but this time with boots buckled securely in snowshoes, I scrape across the narrow road from the parking lot of Halibut Point State Park.   There are only two other cars in the lot; no one is in sight.  The air today is damp, the morning’s thick blanket of fog seems to have spread itself onto the very snow.  The trees’ bare limbs are coated with a thin layer of white that muffles the sound of my steps, giving the wooded trail’s silence a richness I can taste in the air around me.

The trail is well-defined— boot prints, ski tracks, and dog tracks pack the snow.  The edges of the trail are dotted with bunny paw prints that veer off into the brush.  I keep to the edges, too, not quite bunny-like, my snowshoes sinking into the powdery white fluff of yesterday’s snowfall.  I reach a fork and choose the trail on the right.

I move along the edge of the quarry, digging the toes of my snowshoes into the patches of ice beneath some of the snow on the trail.  I can hear the ocean ahead of me.  The roar of the waves mixes with the rustle of the wind in the branches of the trees.  I decide to add my own soundtrack to it and stop to tuck my ear buds under my headband.  Alexi Murdock’s smooth voice and evocative lyrics turn my hike into my very own movie.  He sings about  love and life, loss and change.  I keep the volume low so that I can hear my music and nature’s together.  As I walk upon the snow,  acutely aware of my alone-ness, the feeling of being part of something so much bigger than I am forces me to recognize my smallness, my  insignificance.   That recognition floods me with a sense of relief.  I embrace this feeling of smallness, of letting myself off the responsibility hook for a little while.

I follow the Bay View Trail downhill, where much of the gravel beneath the snow is exposed.  I stay to the side again to avoid the scraping sound of the crampons on my shoes.  Turning the corner, the rocky shore is exposed.  I stop.  The sky is layered with gray clouds that roll ahead of me with surprising speed.  To my left, the long, low, flat brown rocks at the edge of the sea are covered in frozen salt spray.  When salt water freezes like that, it looks like dusty white cotton candy— there is a softness to the look of it, as if when touched, it would crumble in my fingers.  The water is a steely gray-blue, dark and rich.  The horizon reflects the water, deep gray-blue melding up to touch the clouds.  I breathe deeply, feeling the cold air on my cheeks, the wind on my face.  I continue along the path, counting my blessings.  This day, this park, the solitude and beauty, all here, minutes from my house, available any time I care to come.

I like the Bay View Trail so much that I take the loop again.  I go straight at the end of the trail, heading toward the visitor center.  I see a little side trail called The Back 40 Loop and take it way around the back of the park.  The trees lean down toward the earth and the pathway bears less wear; I take that loop twice, too.  I pass the visitor center, and decide to go through the park one more time.  I take a different trail, short and a little bit steep, to an ocean overlook.  At the top, I stare out at the stark landscape.  The waves pound the rocks beneath me; the silence of the woods gone.  The sea goes on forever.  The air smells of salt and snow.  Tiny flakes begin to fall and I could stand right here until darkness falls, breathing, listening, being.