Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the tag “nature”

What I Saw on My Ride Today…

I went for a lovely 28-mile ride in the farmland west of my neighborhood in NW Portland today. Here are a few of the sights I took in:
A ghost town:
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Some tepees:
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A noisy, active community of honey bees in the middle of a field of clover:
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Also seen but not captured for posterity: A small plane towing a glider RIGHT over my head, lots of cows grazing peacefully, and about a bazillion other cyclists in groups and alone enjoying the beautiful weather.

In case you were concerned for my safety, I assure you I stopped my bike before taking any of these pictures. Maybe I was relaxed enough to take in the scenery today because I finally decided to let go of my plan to do the Olympic triathlon at Hagg Lake next weekend, and settle for the sprint this time around. My legs just aren’t ready to ride 25 miles of those hills before a 10K run…I need a few more months of consistent cycling first. Disappointing, yes, but I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing for me right now. Consequently, I’m going to try to start ENJOYING my long rides (and runs) more, instead of just grinding through them. My iPhone and I will be out there searching for interesting sights, and I’ll share them here!

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My Big Year…(Or, A Post About Birds and Running)

You know, as in “The Big Year,” that movie with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black? About birding? This is my post about birds. Birds and running, actually, or how birds make running interesting (to me, anyway) and therefore much more tolerable.

The reason I’m thinking about this topic is that I received a round of applause from motorists along my running route last week, and it had nothing to do with my attire, my speed, or the fact I was NAILING my tempo pace just a day after a long, hard bike ride. No, they were clapping because I stopped running to jump off the sidewalk into the busy street, stop traffic, and herd a crowd of ducklings across the street after their mother. (I’d tried to talk her out of crossing a moment before, but she was determined. “Don’t do it, you stupid duck! The lake is on this side of the road! Think of your children!” She didn’t listen, she just quacked in agitation and tried to waddle past me.)

I’m sure we were a comical picture, me trying to hustle along these ducklings who were so tiny they kept falling over trying to run away from me. Once I got them safely over the curb on the far side of the road, (Have you ever watched very small ducklings trying to hop up on a curb? It took each of them at least three tries.) I looked up and saw drivers and passengers clapping for me. I gave them a wave and started running again with a smile on my face that lasted the rest of the run, even as I tried to salvage my tempo pace.

It was the second run in a week that was slowed down by my fascination with birds, especially baby ones. On Thursday I stopped in the middle of an 8-mile easy run to take this picture of Canada geese with a big group of goslings; 8 or 9 if I counted right.

Not the best quality picture...My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist's that morning.

Not the best quality picture…My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist’s that morning.

I’m lucky enough to live and run near greenspaces that are filled with different creatures that entertain me. Here is my “Big Year” list of birds I’ve seen during this year’s training:
1. Red-tailed hawk
2. Great Blue heron
3. Red-winged blackbird (these guys sing to me while I run…I love it!)
4. Mallard duck
5. Northern coot
6. Spotted towhee
7. Flicker (These woodpeckers are one of my favorites)
8. Robin
9. Scrub Jay
10. Junco
11. Sparrow
12. Bushtit
13. Crow
14. Seagull (They must be a little misguided, since there’s a mountain range and at least 60 miles between here and the ocean)
15. Anna’s hummingbird
16. Goldfinch
17. House finch
18. Chickadee
19. Wood duck
20. Barn swallow (While I was running along a path beside a blackberry hedge on one side and soccer fields on the other yesterday, a couple of these guys started swooping in circles around me. They stayed with me for over a quarter of a mile, crossing right in front of me. At first it was kind of fun. Then it got a little creepy…What was their game, anyway? I never figured it out.)

I’ve also seen a few other species I haven’t identified, since my Field Guide to Birds of North America is too heavy to fit in my hydration belt pocket.

All these birds, along with the occasional rabbit, raccoon, deer, or gopher entertain me while I’m running and cycling, and help me appreciate the surroundings I get to train in. And if a photo opportunity or a chance to do some animal rescue interrupts a workout, I’m okay with that. I’m doing my best not to take my triathlon hobby TOO seriously!

Dogwoods in bloom...Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

Dogwoods in bloom…Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

My Daily Dose of Nature, and Some Other Random Stuff

I was about 6 miles into a 7-mile run, heading through the park, when nature treated me to the amazing sight of a red-tailed hawk perched on the ground just a few yards in front of me. My first thought? “Thank you, nature, for treating me to this beautiful wildlife encounter.” My second thought? “Why’s that stupid bird still sitting there when I’m running toward it?” (Though, to be fair, my speed at any distance over 4 miles doesn’t look particularly threatening.) My third thought: “Holy crap, it’s still there! Is it going to try to fight me over something it killed?” Luckily for me, who probably didn’t have the strength to defend myself just then, the hawk flew off when I was within a few yards of it and left me to contemplate just what that pile of fluffy gray feathers used to be.

Other cool nature-y and random stuff I’ve seen on my runs lately:

1. A blue heron (not uncommon, I know, but I love them.)
2. A swan on a lake in the local golf course
3. Two teenage girls carrying large dogs on leashes in their arms (Why are they carrying the dogs when the dogs are on leashes, I wondered…Until I noticed the dogs were very realistic stuffed animals. Then I wondered what the leashes were for.)
4. A large prison-inmate work crew wielding chain saws on either side of the trail I was running on… and the sheriff’s deputy “supervising” them while talking on his cell phone, a good hundred yards away, with his back turned to us.
5. A look of profound pity on the face of the Parks District garbage collector as he watched me run by him in the driving rain.
6. A fluffy gray bird pinning down a red-tailed hawk. (Okay, I made that one up, but I’m hoping I get to see it on a future run…Bird karma, you know?)

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