Good-bye, summer

Good-bye, summer

Fall officially begins tomorrow, Sept. 23.

I feel like I blinked and summer was gone.

IMG_3540

Yes, I did complain about the obnoxiously hot series of 90-degree days Seattle received. But, that doesn’t mean I won’t miss the warmth of the sun and getting my adequate helping of Vitamin D. (I guess I will have to dig out my vitamin supplements).

IMG_3654

I also feel like “I didn’t do anything” this summer since I didn’t go on any big vacations.

But, scrolling through my photos, I realize that I had an excellent summer.

IMG_3338

Bryce and I got out on a lot of good day hikes. However, we didn’t make it out on a single back packing trip. Maybe he can convince me to go on a fall back packing excursion. Maybe.

IMG_3292

I spent some quality time with Taylor (Swift).

I experienced the Women’s World Cup Final between U.S. and Japan.

IMG_3444

The summer months brought several of my good friends back home. That made me very happy.

IMG_3303

This summer, unlike last summer and other summers of the past, I didn’t have to stick to a strict running regimen and overall life schedule since I wasn’t training for a fall marathon. (Is it just me, or is it really unappealing to train for a marathon during the summer?)

Instead, I ran on my own terms. I started run commuting a bit — and plan to continue to do so even through the fall/rainy season.

IMG_3228

Good-bye, Seattle summer.

I don’t care what anyone else says. You really are the best of all the summers.

Running on top of the world — on a Thursday summer night

I didn’t want to run. But, I needed to run.

My cousin and I had devoured ample servings of Korean tofu soup for dinner and had (Molly Moon’s) ice cream for dessert. (We did order kids’ scoops if that accounts for anything … probably not). So, I was feeling the need to run it all off.

I first had to wait for my stomach to settle. Then I needed to wait for the high temps to subside. Around 9:20 p.m. I took off out the door and headed to the only nearby area I feel safe running at during “night-time” — the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. There are always couples walking their dogs or other runners doing loops around the paved path of the park. Often times there are just people reflecting on benches or being more active and playing pickle ball.

All of these folks were out tonight.

The beginning of my run was painful. I somehow managed to make my bruised toe(nail) worse by squishing it in a pair of uncomfortable work flats at the beginning of the week. It’s oozing blood off and on now. (Getting my sock and shoe on that left foot was a struggle, too!)

I felt my gait being weird since I was compensating for the painful-big-toe-situation. Each step I took felt heavy. I really felt like turning around and hobbling back home.

But, about six minutes into the run, the pain became tolerable. Or, I just didn’t notice it anymore.

Instead, I was noticing the beautiful sweeps of pinks in the sky to my right. Each block I passed, I would get a glimpse of brighter pinks beyond the silhouette of the Olympic Mountains.

When I arrived at the park, the sky was even more pink. I couldn’t look away. I usually hate running in circles but in addition to the pink skies, I had a view of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, as well as a shadow of Mt. Rainier.

It wasn’t until my second lap around the park that I noticed something else.

The moon.

Apparently yesterday was a full moon but it looked pretty darn full tonight. It was so bright and yellow as it hung just above the Cascades from my vantage point.

Walkers stopped to take photos with their phones of the moon.

I ran by and couldn’t look away. I didn’t know what I wanted to look at more — the pink sunset to the west or the moon on the east?

Both were mesmerizing.

Then I knew why I really needed to run tonight.

To enjoy a perfect summer night.

A month of August in pictures

When July ended, I got a little “depressed” because all of my planned fun, awesome summer activities were over. Potlatch, the biggest and best ultimate Frisbee tournament of the summer year was Fourth of July weekend as it is every year. Ragnar Northwest Passage happened in the middle of the month. And, I closed out July with the Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert at Safeco Field.

I didn’t have a whole lot planned in August.

But, I’m reminded through pictures*, that a lot did happen.

August 9: Julia and Vonnel's wedding

August 9: Julia and Vonnel’s wedding

My high school friend, Julia, got married at the beginning of the month and I was lucky to celebrate all the love and joy with our group of high school cross-country friends. Nothing like a wedding to bring (almost) everyone together!

 

August 16: Jackie’s bridal shower

Celebrated Jackie, my very first real-life** college friend with her sweet family and friends.

 

August 17: Lake Serene hike

August 17: Lake Serene hike

Visited Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene in the Central Cascades on a clear Sunday. Falls and lake not pictured … I guess you’ll just have to go for yourself!

 

August 18: Ritch Mitch in town!

August 18: Ritch Mitch in town!

My college friend, Ritch, was in town for a bit visiting from optometry school. (I know, I know, a lot of my friends are busy being all smart at medical school, optometry school, dental school … and what am I doing??) His visit brought together a lot of friends — he’s quite popular so it seems!

 

August 21: Columbia Tower 76th floor

August 21: Columbia Tower 76th floor

I’ve lived in Seattle my entire life of 27 years and this was my first time inside of the Columbia Tower. My friend, Gwen, invited me and my friends to her work’s fundraiser cocktail event. The view of the city (and Puget Sound) from the 76th floor was amazing in the afternoon and (of course) into the evening. Seeing my city from this different and mesmerizing — yes, mesmerizing — perspective may have even been better than the drinks!

 

August 22-23: Shi Shi Beach backpacking

August 22-23: Shi Shi Beach backpacking

Another Shi Shi one, just because

Another Shi Shi one, just because

While some people deem Shi Shi beach to be “one of the prettiest” beaches on the Washington coast, it was a shame it was cloudy our entire stay. But, the beach and Point of the Arches were still pretty in that emo-this-is-the-real-Pacific-Northwest kind of way. And, at low tide Saturday morning, we had the entire arch area to ourselves to explore the tidal pools … guess everyone else didn’t want to wake up at 6 a.m.

 

With September here, I’m scrambling and trying to squeeze in every last “summer activity” as possible.

I packed a lot into August without even really meaning to, so I think we’ll be fine.

Besides, Seattle Septembers are supposed to be the best part of summer anyway, right?

Summer, please stay a little while longer.

 

——————————————————————-

*August marks the beginning of Picture of the Day. It’s an activity my high school friends and I did back well, in high school, where we’d each take one picture each day for one year and document it into an album. (Yes, like a physical album!) My friend, Anna, and I decided at the beginning of the month to start the project again!

**I say “real-life” because my first college friend is probably my roommate in the dorms but we technically met online before the in-person exchange happened. Yep, kids of the tech-century!

 

Bon Odori — Dancing with mom

When I was little, it was just an activity my family and I did every summer. We’d stake out our plot of grass along the sloped street and my dad and younger brother would hold down the fort (and eat) while the girls danced.

I’d follow my mom around and act like I knew the moves. Of course, I’d sneak away for a few dances to eat shave ice or just sit and watch while others did the “complicated dances” that involved two folding fans.

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed all of it.

Until every so often, we’d be out of town during Bon Odori — either visiting family in Hawaii or Japan.

I would be bummed that we wouldn’t be dancing like coal miners or fishermen.

Always eating

Always eating

Bon Odori, or obon, is a Japanese summer festival that involves line-type folk dancing to honor and pay respect to your deceased relatives. While it is derived from Buddhism and my immediate family is not Buddhist, I always saw it as a cultural activity we took part in. In Seattle, lots of people join in on the dances and it is now a Seafair event.

 

Little K

Little K

A few weeks prior to Bon Odori, I’d always tag along with my mom and her friends to bon practice, where the buddhist church leaders would teach church members and frequent Bon Odori goers the new dance of the year and refresh us on the moves from the old dances. It never seemed like a chore, I always had fun. We’d see familiar faces. (Can you spot my mom in this Seattle Times video on Bon Odori?)

One year — I was probably in middle school — we were at home getting ready for Bon Odori, and my mom realized she did not have a yukata for me. Every Bon Odori we would wear our yukatas (summer kimonos), it was just tradition. I guess mine at the time had gotten too small for me so she had given it away to a cousin and forgot to buy me a new one.

While wearing a yukata isn’t the most comfortable of clothing, it was always fun to dress up in one for one day in the year. If it’s really sunny, you get really hot. If you have to go to the bathroom, it’s kind of a big ordeal because you’re essentially wrapped up in cloth like a burrito.

I pouted and probably cried a little (aw, tweenage angst!) I wore a T-shirt and shorts and my mom also wore “regular clothes” as well. We danced all the dances and still had a good night, as always.

 

Middle school chubby/awkward phase of life

Chubby/awkward phase of life

As I’ve gotten older, and summers have gotten busier with weddings to attend or friends visiting from out of town, or just other fun stuff, I make my best effort to block off that weekend in mid-July to go to Bon Odori with my mom and her friends. A few years ago I missed it because I went to an out-of-state ultimate Frisbee tournament. While that summer was full of fun adventures, it didn’t feel complete without going to obon.

But it’s not just the action of going to Bon Odori and celebrating summer and our ancestors with the community that draws me in. It’s going with my mom.

Last year my mom unexpectedly had to go to Japan to take care of my grandma for a majority of the summer and was gone for obon. I didn’t go to any of the practices. My dad and I sort of talked about “Oh, Bon Odori is coming up this weekend …” but we never went. Because, why would we go without mom? It wouldn’t feel right.

 

Cheesy grin-time!

Cheesy grin-time!

Recently I was asked what I like about Bon Odori.

When you’re doing the same dance moves you did as a child toddling around, there’s a sense of nostalgia. When one of my favorite songs come on, I immediately smile.

But, also, Bon Odori is the one thing I do that is “Japanese” and that my mom and I can do together.

I’m a runner. She does Pilates and tennis. I like attending sporting events. She prefers to watch them at home. (Yes, she has fallen asleep at a baseball game before.) She gardens. I hate pulling weeds.

None of our own hobbies or activities have really aligned — OK, OK, we both love traveling but it’s not like we can just take extended globe-trotting trips all the time.

 

Me and mom

Bon Odori, July 2014

But, Japanese folk dancing together has always been one we can share.

 

That one Thursday

Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery, a change of pace.

Sometimes, you need to be closer to the water.

Seeing it isn’t good enough. Smelling it is nice but doesn’t do the job.

Jumping in may suffice.

As a runner, I hardly feel like I’m floating. Maybe on a really good run, I feel like I’m flying.

Lake Washington

Lake Washington

But on the water, it feels different.

I feel free in an “I’m-trapped-in-a-canoe” type of way.

If only summer days like this could last longer.

Floating on water was just the break I needed in the middle of a Thursday evening 10-miler.

Seen on my run

Seen on my run

Because if you can’t always fly, floating is a close second.

Something about the morning

I wouldn’t call myself a morning person. I don’t like waking up early but I do it on the weekdays (before 6:30 am) so that I can avoid driving in traffic. I usually sleep in during the weekend — unless I have a morning long run scheduled with Joanna or I have non-running (gasp) plans.

This morning I decided to wake up even earlier so I could get a run in before work.

Yes, it was difficult to get myself out of bed.

But once I was outside running, it was a great feeling.

It was peaceful.

It was cool. (As in temperature. No 80-degree running for this girl!)

It was a nice start to my day.

Although my new neighborhood is surrounded by major heavily-trafficked roads, I tried to run on the side streets and even when I had to run on those busy streets, they just weren’t so busy at 6:15 in the morning. They were actually pretty calm and quiet. (But, I guess that’ll happen on a Friday in the summer.)

All I could hear were my foot steps and the occasionally car drive by. I saw three other runners on my 3-ish mile-run. We all nodded and smiled at one another, as if we knew that we had a good thing going on.

I decided to run this morning because there was no way I’d be running in the heat of the afternoon.

All my runs earlier this week felt gross because the sun was beating down on me and I was moving at snail pace. They were not fun. They felt uncomfortable.

I was by no means running fast this morning.

But, that didn’t matter.

There’s just something about the morning.

Getting ready to Ragnar

After I did my first relay race (Hood to Coast) last summer with complete strangers, I knew I had to do another relay.

This time I decided to stay a little closer to home. And to do it with people I know a little better.

We’re staying in state.

We’re going to do Ragnar Northwest Passage.

And, by we, I do mean we, because I’ll be doing this race with my friends. (Since I had so much fun running Hood to Coast with strangers, I can’t imagine how much fun it’d be to do a relay with actual friends!)

We’ll be starting in Blaine, Wash. (just next to the Washington-Canada border) and make our way down to Langley on Whidbey Island. That’s 200 miles of running between the 12 of us.

I attended the captain’s meeting last week and the race director enthusiastically told us that if something doesn’t go wrong, we’re not doing it right.

So, I hope enough goes wrong to keep us laughing and smiling and running.

I feel like I’m not as in shape as I should be to take on this race, but hey, my team isn’t out to win any categories or anything.

We’re about having fun, about trying new things.

This may be my first Ragnar race but I do have one relay under my belt. I’m pretty excited for 10 (of my 11) teammates though — this will be their very first relay. (Eeeeeeek!) I guess I’m a pretty persuasive friend by convincing all of them to join!

This race is one of my summer highlights since I don’t have any vacations planned. I’m pretty sure it won’t disappoint.