3 Things: 2016 and 2017

I’m still alive. I just made it through what is supposedly the busiest annual week of my new job, and I’m still alive. This space has been quieter than I wanted, but I’ve been living life and adjusting and catching up on sleep. This new job has me feeling like a new Marge; I’m sleeping better, I’m (more) excited to get up in the morning and go to work (there’s only so much daily excitement you can get from being in an accounting/analytics/finance profession) and learn new things, my skin is clearing up, I have more energy, I’m cooking more. My quality of life has definitely improved. I come home and I’ve left work at work. It’s an absolute delight. It also helps that I really like everyone I work with. And that my commute is now 10 minutes. Blogging has definitely not been at the forefront of my mind. Frankly, I’ve been enjoying holidays with family, and playing a lot of Candy Crush while my stress dissipates. Also this election cycle has left me feeling very political, and I don’t want this space to be about that. So I’ve been quiet.

Since I STILL am not in the swing of blogging (was I ever?), I thought I’d recap three of the best things of 2016, and share three things I’m looking forward to in the fresh new year. I’ve had three large glasses of wine tonight, so that should really help the creative process AMIRIGHT?

Highlights of 2016

  1. Went to Scotland. Spent 8 days eating and drinking and walking and soaking in the country. Ended our time wanting to move there. Successful international explorations!
  2. PR-ed my half-marathon. Had a decent (not great, based on pacing) race at the Vernonia Half. Decent enough to PR by nearly 10 minutes. PERFECT weather, overcast and cool. Plus my momma surprised me at the finish line.
  3. Went on my first trail run with a few lovely ladies back in late November. We did 7-8 miles on the Wildwood trail through NW Portland, and it was muddy and awesome and very hilly. I was SUPER sore in the subsequent days. It rekindled my urge to run. Plus I shot this unattractive picture of myself showing off my new Atlas Cider hat that I picked up at the end of the Bend Ale Run.

    First trail run!

Hopes and Dreams for 2017 (how’s that for cheesy dramatics?)

  1. PR the half-marathon…again. I want to hit 2:15. I’m still in that sweet spot of paces where it’s relatively “easy” to make big time gains with standard, consistent training. I have a half-marathon on my schedule Mother’s Day weekend, but I don’t know if I’ll try to PR that one or earlier…I’m hoping to follow the training plan in “Run Less, Run Faster” and I may join up with a new running group as well.
  2. Another trip…somewhere? We haven’t decided where yet, however. Is Zika still a thing? I’m torn between wanting to go back to Europe and explore another country for a week, or hit up an all-inclusive in the Caribbean. We avoided all Zika-related countries last year because we want to start a family…but I haven’t heard much about Zika lately. Caribbean countries on the table include Jamaica and the Bahamas. As for European countries, we are looking at anything and everything.
  3. My Favorite Murder’s live podcast tour! Don’t be put off by the title, My Favorite Murder is an awesome comedy/true-crime podcast and I can’t WAIT to see it live in Portland in March. I love everything true crime, and I’m pretty sure that these are my people. My husband is not so convinced.

I’ve been hitting the ground running (somewhat literally) in 2017. I went for a run this week (in below freezing temps), I’ve been doing BBG circuit workouts (and my abs and arms are feeling it), I’m starting to come into my own in my new job, AND I’ve been cleaning the kitchen every night (because I am trying the Commit30 planner this year and I made sure to set an attainable goal for January). I’m trying to spend more time and energy on my health this year, make some strides in my running, and focus on family and some home projects. And less time on Candy Crush. Damn you, Candy Crush.

Your turn – What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Race Recap – Bend Ale Run 10k

Hello internet friends, I’m alive! I know, I know. It’s been a while. In my defense, I’ve been working 50-60 hours a week (+1.5-2 hours of commuting every day) and when I get home I just don’t want to be on the computer anymore. Plus half the time, I cook dinner when I get home at 7:30 pm, watch a teensy bit of trash TV, and fall asleep. BUT, I think things are on the up-and-up! I start a new job the Monday after Thanksgiving which is a 10 minute drive from home, and I can’t WAIT to get my work-life balance on. I’ll miss all my coworkers, and my awesome job in general, but I think my new gig is going to be a little more balanced and my quality of life should improve a bit.

Now, on to what I really wanted to talk about – the Bend Ale Run 10k! Shayne had a long weekend for Veteran’s Day, so I took two days off and we took a little vaycay to Bend, which has become one of my favorite places this past year. Since I was signed up for a race at home that weekend, I forced us to sign up for a race in Bend to make up for skipping the Beaverton race. Because paying two race registration fees for TWO different races makes complete sense. I’ll recap our time in Bend in a subsequent post, but in terms of the race itself, we had a GREAT time.

It had been a while since either of us had done a 10k, but whatever. We were excited to be in Bend and excited to run. The weather was GORGEOUS, but we huddled for warmth at the start because the high desert breeze left us chilled. Neither of us had any idea what to wear, as we hadn’t ever run in Bend. I had a tech tee and capris, Shayne had a tech tee and shorts. We were both fine once we got going, but as we waited for the half-marathon to start before we corralled…we shivered a bit in the wind. Here’s a starting line-selfie:Bend Ale Run Start Line 1And the hubs stretching in out while we waited. There was construction happening. It was loud.img_3333The 10k was an inaugural distance for this event – previously they had only done the half-marathon. Inaugural distances or events can always be chance-y…and wouldn’t you know, we were directed the wrong way the VERY FIRST CORNER which was a block away from the start. We knew we would be going through the starting arch twice, but when we showed up at it again only 1.5 miles in, everyone was a little concerned. Rightly so, because we had all managed to immediately go off course. The race director clearly felt terrible, and was very apologetic (refreshing after reading about the snafu at this year’s Portland Marathon) and promised us extra beer at the Ale Fest finish. He said no one was obligated to start again, but we are all Oregonians and we’ll be damned if we aren’t going to run the true whole race, so it seems like almost everyone queued up to start again. We’re hardcore here.

Starting line selfie...TAKE 2!

Starting line selfie…TAKE 2!

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Headed uphill.

Honestly, I think the “warm up” really helped me during the actual race. Bend is at a higher altitude than home, and I’d figured out my breathing and my pacing by the time we started again. We headed out through a park and what I think is a future housing development but right now is beautiful high desert country. It was hilly, but gorgeous. img_3339 img_3336I mean COME ON, that rainbow?! It was so completely different from our usual scenery…replace piles of leaves and overgrown rhodies with tumbleweeds and juniper and ponderosa pine.

My pace was all over the place, but I had a blast. By all over the place, I mean I had a mile in the 10s, a mile in the 13s, and the rest of the miles somewhere squarely in the middle. I knew when we started the final mile (because it had been our warmup mile) and was so excited to head to the finish and the Bend Ale Fest!

Shayne and I finished at the same time. Literally. As in identical clock and chip times (for the second time this year). I tried to get him to run across the finish line holding hands, but he wasn’t into it. img_3346As soon as they handed me my medal and a bottle of water, we found ourselves in the line for catered lunch and our beer tokens. Due to the 10k snafu, we each got extra beer tokens, good for tasters from 15 different breweries in the Ale Fest tent! We didn’t partake in the lunch, but they had a great looking spread: pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, cookies…it smelled tasty but I just wasn’t hungry.

We took our celebratory pint glasses (the swag was ON POINT) right on into the beer tent and each tasted 6-8 brews from local breweries. Bend has a LOT of breweries, and although we’ve been to many of them, we discovered some new gems. We left tired, happy, and full of tasty suds. Honestly, we could have cared less about the mileage mess-up, because we had an AWESOME time. The race director also offered all the 10k participants 50% off race registration next year, so I’m hoping we’ll be back! I would consider our first race in Bend a smashing success and can’t wait for more!

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Don’t I look like a complete Oregon running badass here? I like to think so.

Thanks for reading! I promise it will be less than 6 weeks before my next post…

Race Recap – PDX Runway Run

We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled Scotland updates in a bit (because, believe it or not, there’s SO MUCH MORE), but I’m working on getting back to the “healthy” aspect of this blog so let me recap this recent race!

The inaugural (only?) PDX Runway Run 6k took place two weeks ago at the award winning Portland International Airport, which most people call by it’s three-letter airport code, PDX. Travel + Leisure has named PDX the best U.S. airport 4 years running, and to celebrate that AND the fact that the airport is turning 75, the Port of Portland closed the north runway for a Saturday morning 6k.

I talked Shayne into this race long long ago, because it was capped at 2500 participants and it just seemed so cool! So we woke up early on a dreary looking Saturday and made the 40 minute drive to the airport. It was $10 to park in the economy lot and totally worth it because it was right next to the expo/packet pick-up area and easy to get in and out. For some reason, Shayne and I both decided to wear shorts…it seemed like a good idea the night before.
img_3103 Because the race was within the confines of the airport, all participants were subjected to background checks prior to the race, and we all had to provide government issued ID to get to the actual starting line (which was a little bit of a walk from where we picked up our bibs). Likely due to the fact that this was a first-time race, the race organizers (Hood to Coast) had been very clear in saying “GET TO THE RACE EARLY.” They made it sound like we had to go through TSA screening to get to the starting line. So we showed up at 7:15 for a 9:05 start. img_3106 Well, we had our bibs and were ready to race by 7:30. The TSA line was 5 people checking IDs against names. And then we had nothing to do but take pictures. It was freezing and we had left our warm things in the bag check area. So we paced the runway and took a lot of selfies and I jumped up and down a lot while Shayne told me to stop being a weirdo. I ran into a few coworkers and said hello but mostly we just tried to stay warm.img_3109 There were a lot of informative signs about how to land an airplane and what the different runway markings are for. I learned so much about airports! Also landing an airplane just seems like such a feat.img_3110 Sometimes we walked up to this light up “X” because it felt a little warm. I was happy for the giant “X”s because they let all the planes know to not LAND ON THE RUNNERS.img_3114 IS IT FINALLY ALMOST TIME TO RUN?!img_3115 After the national anthem, the air horn sounded and we slowly funneled through the start (there were lots of walkers and not a very clearly staged seeded start), over the timing mats, and off we went. The plus side of a runway run is that it’s flat; hills + landing an airplane = not deal. The downside of a runway run is that it’s flat and there’s not much to look at, especially when it’s cloudy and you can’t really see airplanes taking off.img_3116We literally ran to the end of the runway, turned around, and ran back. There was one water stop in the middle, so water could be passed out to those headed out and back. There was a taiko drum group (and after the Portland Marathon, I LOVE me some taiko drums while running). I was listening to a podcast and trying to keep my tummy tame after waking up with it feeling a bit jumbled.
img_3124I felt good about the race, and didn’t do any walking except through the water station on the back half. And since it was a new-to-me distance, automatic PR. But I was still hoping to be a bit faster than my 39:36. Oh well. It was fun and I’ve barely been running so I have to do races in order to get my a$$ out the door.
img_3119 This one beat me, of course. I was proud of him! We started off together and I slowed down and he sped up. We were rewarded with medals, shirts, and shortbreadish cookies from Elephant’s Deli, which were delicious.img_3120 We also took a picture with a giant tree, because we love Friends of Trees! Mr. Shupe picked up lots of stickers for his classroom, so thanks for that Mr. Tree!img_3123We both agreed that we loved this race, and would totally do it again if they decide to do it again, but we would get there basically an hour later. Going to chalk it up to inaugural race jitters on everyone’s part. It was a bummer that it was so foggy, but we were able to catch occasional glimpses of planes taking off, and it was cool to be in the airport atmosphere. I am wondering one thing though – is runway concrete harder that your run of the mill asphalt? Because I was HELLA sore the next day. Like more than I should have been. But if being sore is your only complaint after a race, it was probably a good race.

Scotland Part 3 – Lengthy Edinburgh Explorations

Within an hour of our arrival, I was sure of the fact that Edinburgh was going to be my favorite place in the world ever of all time. I was right. We only spent two nights there, and we wanted to figure out how to stay longer (but we flew in and out of Glasgow so we were responsible and stayed on our original schedule). I mean, I want to MOVE here. The mix of old, historical sites with an awesome food culture and beautiful parks, hikes, and culture was incredible.

For starters, this was the view from our Airbnb:
img_2799Having only done the Airbnb thing once before, Shayne didn’t want to commit to booking rentals for our entire trip through the site, so we agreed to do our two days in Edinburgh through them. I found a “instant reservation” flat with high ratings that I booked, and it was the BEST accommodations of our entire vacation. That view? Yeah, that’s Arthur’s Seat, commonly known as Edinburgh’s top urban hike, overlooking a giant park. The owner of the flat, who met us with keys and to give us her parking spot, said that, when the Queen visits Scotland, her helicopter lands in that field. The one bedroom flat was perfect for us, allowed us to do some laundry (sorely needed at this point), and the owner even stocked us up with some fruit and bread. Though it was a little pricey compared to our other accommodations, it was walking distance for everything and allowed us to drive in, park, and not worry about our car until we were ready to head back to Glasgow.img_2801 Just some casual abbey ruins adjacent to Holyrood House, the Queen’s Edinburgh residence. From across the park full of dogs. At sunset. #Iwasinheavenimg_2804 img_2808Since we arrived right before dinner time, we got settled in our flat and then set out to wander up the Royal Mile in search of food. We had noted a few pubs from Rick Steves and figured we would just wander into a place that looked good and had space for us. We ended up at Number One High Street, where Shayne had a tasty burger with Scottish cheese and bacon, and I had a chicken sandwich and salad that were both a pleasant surprise, as I had been anticipating heavy pub food. Everything was light and fresh and we accompanied our food with a few pints of Scottish beer and some delightful live traditional music that started shortly after we got there. They played my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song, America, and despite the fact that only one of them REALLY knew it, I was borderline drunk and got super emotional about it. Classy. We also made friends with a couple next to us from Wales.

The next morning, we slept in a little bit (the flat was SUPER comfy) and then took off on foot to explore Edinburgh. We ended up walking 14 miles that day per our iPhones (I was dumb and left my Fit Bit charger at home so I lost all those steps…).img_3759 Our first stop? The Elephant House cafe, where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. img_3761According to every piece of JK Rowling lore, she sat at a table by the window with a view of Edinburgh Castle. Much like this one.
img_2840The bathrooms are FULL of Harry Potter graffiti. They finally gave up trying to get people to stop writing on the walls. I’m ok with it. It was amazing.img_2835img_2836After coffee and shortbread, we headed out to visit Greyfriars Bobby.
img_3763 img_3764And paid our respects at his grave.
img_3768 Then we had heard of a great viewpoint at the (FREE) Scottish National Museum, so we took a quick spin through some of the exhibits. Helllllloooooooo Dolly (the first cloned sheep)!img_3770 And found their rooftop terrace, which did not disappoint. img_3773 Then we went to get a closer look at Edinburgh Castle (but did NOT pay to go in, because it was expensive and crowded AF).img_3780 We stopped off at a bookstore we had put on our must-see list and picked up an antique book for our collection. We hit up so many delightfully jam-packed little stores full of books but I always felt super awkward taking pictures in there. So I didn’t.img_3785We stopped for a late lunch at Oink. We had read about this place in every guide and it was a must-eat for us. Each day they roast a pig and serve sandwiches from it until it’s gone.img_2841The medium size was perfect…I had mine topped with a fennel-apple sauce and it was DIVINE.
img_3786Then we continued our Edinburgh wanderings, popping in and out of shops and museums as we felt like it. And occasionally re-upping on coffee. We stopped in this old church that had been turned into a crafts market (mostly so I could get a latte) but I LOVED these lights juxtaposed over the stained glass windows.img_3799We also stopped for a few pints. The Last Drop was at the square where Edinburgh used to hold all their public hangings. img_3790Deacon Brodie’s was along the Royal Mile.img_2475Frankly I just thought this sign was clever.img_2483Then, we wandered over towards the newer side of the city as the sun started to set.img_3815And all of a sudden, we were at Calton Hill! I had wanted to stop at this gorgeous park full of monuments but had resigned myself to the fact that we would probably have to skip it. Then randomly, there it was (I don’t believe in maps…I just trust my sense of direction to get me where I want to be).
img_3842img_2508Sunset from Calton Hill was amazing (and full of other people who felt the same way, but still super peaceful). You get a 365 degree view of the city from up high as the sun sets and it was absolutely beautiful and I loved everything about life.img_2507With 14 miles of walking, I was super hungry. We had heard about Ting Thai Caravan and I had been craving good Thai for a while so I talked Shayne into the long walk over. Ting Thai is cash only (we managed to just scrape by with what we had left) and we split some pad thai and green curry crammed into the cozy window bar. The place was packed. It was delicious. It reminded me of Pok Pok in Portland (which is saying something, because Pok Pok is ridiculously popular and I’ve never waited LESS than an hour and a half for a table there). Oh man was this place good.img_3802img_3803And now that I’ve exhausted you with the highlights of our 48 hrs in Edinburgh (I literally could not narrow it down anymore, I loved everything), you should all go visit immediately. Seriously. This is my favorite city in the world now. I dream about it often. I look for jobs there that will sponsor a visa. I LOVED how walkable everything felt, it seemed easy to get away from the crowds of tourists, there were lots of peaceful outdoor spaces to explore, and the food scene was on point. I couldn’t get enough. Next time, I want to plan at least 5 days there, and it still won’t be enough. Edinburgh completely won my heart.

Scotland Part 2 – Isle of Skye

Both Shayne and I really wanted to see the Isle of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides, off of Scotland’s western coast. It’s known for absolutely incredible scenery, as well as it’s strong gaelic roots. It was a little bit of a drive from Inverness (2-3 hours), but we were determined to see as much as possible on our trip and broke up the drive with a few other touristy stops.

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Ponderous Shayne

Stop #1 – Eilean Donan castle. While we didn’t pay the entry fee to go in and take a tour (Rick Steves said it wasn’t worth it, and what Rick says, we listen to), but we did pull off and take some atmospheric photos of this old, well maintained castle that lays on the banks of three lochs.IMG_3600 IMG_3596 IMG_3585 Super arty shot of the Audi starts now…IMG_3578Stop #2 – this little roadside cafe. We lived on coffee the entire week we were in Scotland, which really kept us going. Aside from the first day, straight off the plane, we didn’t really feel any jetlag, but we also continuously pumped ourselves full of lattes. This little cafe was first and foremost a bathroom stop, but we each ordered a coffee from the sweet older gentleman running the counter. I wanted a pastry, because they looked incredible, but I was still stuffed from the full Scottish breakfast I was eating every day at the B&B.IMG_3572 Another reason we stopped at the cafe is that right across the street were HIGHLAND CATTLE! Also called “hairy coos,” I had been wanting to get close enough to these giant shaggy cows to snap a few photos. The cafe even sold food so that you could feed them through the fence! They were so sweet (if not a little stinky).IMG_3571 IMG_3569 Total hipster. So Portland. Much bangs.IMG_2783There’s a variety of great, renowned hikes on the Isle of Skye. Shayne was tired after a harrowing drive on a 2-way lane that was about the width of half a car, so he took a much deserved nap while I hiked up to explore the Fairy Pools, a series of waterfalls that stream down from the Cuilllins, jagged green mountains on the western side of the island.IMG_3642 IMG_3640 IMG_3631 IMG_3620 IMG_3618This hike was JAM-PACKED with other people, so I don’t know how I managed to capture this whole set of photos that don’t show other people. It was beautiful, and, despite the other hikers, kind of peaceful. It started raining while I was exploring, and I returned to the car soaked after about an hour and a few miles of exploration on a muddy, occasionally treacherous looking footpath.

The hike was near Talisker Distillery, on the shore of Loch Harport. The full tours were booked up for the next few hours, but we did a few tastings and pick up some bottles for ourselves, and to take back as gifts. IMG_3647 After Talisker, we headed into the largest town on the isle, Portree, a quaint and colorful harbor town. There was an international market happening in the town square, so we picked up a bite to eat (German sausage for Shayne, filled foccacia bread for me), and wandered around the town taking pictures and looking for some souvenirs. IMG_3648 IMG_3649Look at these colorful little harbor-front buildings!IMG_3659Portree has a delightful park, lovingly referred to as “the Lump,” that looks out on the water and has this delightful apothecary’s tower (it’s been rebuilt, but it mimics the original structure). Think of it as a lighthouse for pharmacists. We climbed up top and enjoyed the view.IMG_3665IMG_3667IMG_3676IMG_2423After our adventures in Portree, we headed back to the B&B. I fell fast asleep in the car, and when I woke up we were on a one-lane road with two-way traffic, and Shayne was saying “um…I think the GPS is taking us a different way.” It was remote, it was pretty, it was a tad scary. But we made it.

I would highly recommend Isle of Skye for ANYONE visiting Scotland. I wish we could have spent more time there. If we go back, I think I’ll plan a few days there, because there are a lot of little cafes, B&Bs, and amazing looking hikes in the more remote areas. It’s truly a magical place.

Scotland Part 3 coming soon!

Scotland Part 1 – Highland Games and Inverness

So we absolutely fell in love with Scotland. 100%. 110%. 1000%. Like I would up and move there in a heartbeat. And since I love all my pictures and there’s a LOT of them (thanks to the Canon Rebel we bought as an additional anniversary gift to ourselves right before we left), I’m going to split our trip into a few parts.

We arrived in Glasgow on a Saturday morning, gritty eyed and tired but ready to hit the ground running (with the help of some coffee). We had rented a car for a week, feeling like pros since we drove a manual in Ireland (and had upgraded to an automatic for this trip) and were given this AMAZING Audi wagon that we both now want to own, complete with a built in GPS system that definitely had a learning curve.

Whip for the week

Whip for the week

We were actually able to check into our hotel room immediately upon arrival, which was a pleasant surprise considering it was 9:30 AM. We dropped off our bags, took quick showers, avoided laying down at all costs, and set off ASAP to a nearby highland games I had found in the town of Airth in order to fend off jetlag, which kicked our trash on our last trip abroad. The games kicked off officially with a great procession from a pipe band and the local clan chieftain.IMG_3392We honestly planned almost the entire trip with the help of the Rick Steves guidebook. Now, we LOVE Rick. A few years ago, we went to his yearly travel festival at Rick Steves’ headquarters in Edmonds, Washington. While he recommended taking in a highland games if you were able, he didn’t give specifics. I had found the games in Airth on my own. And it was literally one of the ONLY things on our itinerary that wasn’t delineated specifically in the guidebook. And look who we happened to run into while we were there:IMG_2322Yup, that’s Rick with his camera crew, filming for an upcoming episode. When we first entered the games, we took a stroll around the big grass track that stood as the centerpiece of the event. And Rick walked past us. And Shayne and I looked at each other and went, “Nah, it can’t be.” But it was. HOW WEIRD AND AMAZING IS THAT?! Contact me to plan all your European vacations. K thanks.

We were hungry after 24 hours of travel with random airplane food, so we pounded a latte and then delved into a bacon roll. Shayne took the attractive photo of me below. Fresh bacon straight off the flat-top on a King’s Hawaiian roll. Nothing else. It was incredible.IMG_2325There was SO much going on in Airth. Scottish dancing, solo piping, and all of the heavy events were going on simultaneously from the beginning. The piping venue wasn’t super picturesque, but I LOVE BAGPIPES so it was ok.

You go girl piper!

You go girl piper!

Watching the heavy events competitors was incredible. Everyone was super strong (and kilted) and just casually threw 50-70 pounds around like it was nothing. And javelin, and hammer throw…I wish we could have stayed awake until the caber toss, but we couldn’t quite hold out that long.IMG_2328 Just casually throwing 56 lbs over a bar getting progressively higher like it wasn’t no thing.IMG_2332 The games also had foot races on the grass track, as well as cycling. When they announced a special “International Visitors 200m” I knew I had to participate. I came in 4th out of 5 and didn’t win the bottle of whisky, but I had a blast. Also, at least two of the girls I competed against were wearing legitimate running attire, and not skinny jeans and hiking shoes, so **cough cough** UNFAIR ADVANTAGE **cough cough**. Whatever. Still fun.IMG_2339We went back to our hotel after spending a few hours at the games, walked a bit and found a place to grab a few beers and some food, and then laid down to take a brief nap at 7:30. We woke up from our brief nap three hours later and said “screw it” and just brushed our teeth and went to bed.

The next day, we woke up ready to take on a drive up to the “Capital of the Highlands,” Inverness. Thank you Shayne for basically letting me plan a vacation around all of my Outlander fantasies.

The drive itself was close to three hours, but we made a lot of stops on the way. The Highlands scenery was absolutely incredible, with huge craggy mountains (really probably hills by Northwest standards, but “munros” in Scotland) and a lot of green and fog. Our first stop was the Glencoe Visitor’s Centre, commemorating the Glencoe Massacre, in which Scottish clansmen were murdered by the English soldiers they had welcomed into their homes in 1692. IMG_3436 There was a great little nature path with some outstanding views, and they were doing a little talk every half hour about traditional Scottish life. It was very informative, and we snapped this fun photo of Shayne with a traditional highlander.IMG_3442 IMG_3450Then, we detoured a bit to head towards Glenfinnan, a quaint little village that not only holds significant historical import, but also served as a filming location for Harry Potter.IMG_3466 We waited…but the Hogwarts Express didn’t come. I was sad, but maybe I’m too old to get my acceptance owl? Not sure. If you know Hogwarts’ policy on older students, please fill me in.IMG_3475 Glenfinnan was also where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to officially kick off the Jacobite Rebellion. The monument below marks the place. It was absolutely beautiful on a cloudy afternoon.IMG_3478 IMG_3480 IMG_3482Just outside of Inverness lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. Built up in various stages since the early Middle Ages, the castle was reduced to ruins by 1715. After watching a quick, impactful video, guests are allowed to explore the ruins in their entirety. It had been raining off and on all day, and the atmosphere was amazing to explore such an ancient, historic place (plus great for playing with the new camera).IMG_3490 IMG_3506 IMG_2351 I definitely had my fill of narrow, slippery stone stairs on this trip. I used to love spiral staircases. Not so much anymore.IMG_2367 IMG_2373 IMG_2371After Urquhart, we drove into Inverness to check into our bed and breakfast. Leanach Farm B&B was the home base for three nights of exploring the Scottish Highlands. I mean, just look at the view from breakfast!IMG_3680 And then look at breakfast! I forgot how much I love a full English/Scottish/Irish breakfast until we came to stay at the B&B. Those eggs…just LOOK at the yolk color. And I love broiled tomatoes, as they remind me of my mom’s stewed tomatoes. European sausages are always my favorite, and here, we were introduced to something magical: the potato scone (the quesadilla-lookin’ triangle on the left). It’s like a thick potato pancake, but not shredded like a latke. Literally like a pancake that tastes like potato. I want them always.IMG_2776We celebrated our actual 5th anniversary in Inverness. I found a Caribbean restaurant with good Trip Advisor reviews (Caribbean Bar & Kitchen) and made us eat there in honor of our Caribbean honeymoon. I loved our pitcher of rum punch, our saltfish appetizer, and my curried skate(??? I think that’s what it was but because of the rum punch I can’t remember 100% and they have no current menu online). Shayne thought the flavors of his oxtail stew and red beans and rice were good individually, but perhaps not in combination. Either way, we left happy. And walked around the corner to a pub with live music where we witnessed a brawl so that was cool.IMG_2762 On our first full day in the Highlands, my number one stop was Culloden Battlefield (because Outlander. And history). This was, without a doubt, THE best historical monument I have ever seen, anywhere. We spent a few hours inside the museum/exhibit, looking at artifacts, reading about the events leading up to the battle, which was the culmination of the Jacobite Rebellion, and learning about what happened to prisoners from some delightful historical reenactors who were working there that day.IMG_3517 One of the most amazing things (for us) about Scotland was that almost every single place is dog friendly. We sat next to dogs at restaurants and bars all over the country. This historical battlefield had poop bag dispensers in the middle of it. HOW WILD IS THAT?! THIS COUNTRY IS MY DREAM LAND!IMG_3519 After you tour the museum, you collect audioguides and head out to the battlefield itself to walk through all of the major points of the day. One highlight is the clan memorial stones, as the aftermath of the battle was a significant tamping of traditional Highland ways. People still lay flowers and clan tartans upon the stones, which mark gravesites of whole clans of Jacobite soldiers.IMG_3528The Clan Fraser stone was especially popular #outlander #jamiefraseriloveyou
IMG_3530 IMG_3534 IMG_3544 IMG_3543 We spent the rest of our day exploring the town of Inverness. Did you know that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn? I didn’t. Did you know national animals could be fictional? I didn’t, but I like it.IMG_3549 Along the River Ness.IMG_3555 IMG_2387 Leaky’s Bookshop, aka Marge & Shayne’s book wonderland. Books upon books upon books.IMG_2767 IMG_3552After exploring town on foot, we stumbled upon a new taproom for Black Isles Brewing Co and had a DELICIOUS pint. This was some of my favorite beer we had the entire trip (I’ve even stopped at a good bottle shop since coming home to pick up an expensive bottle to share). Shayne had the Scotch ale, I had the blonde, both were amazing. They also had wood-fired pizzas and other bites, but we were still stuffed from breakfast.
IMG_2770 Eventually we ended up at Culloden Moor Inn, right down the street from our B&B, for a few pints and some nibbles.IMG_2789 Another Outlander must-see: Clava Cairns. Again, right down the lane from the B&B (did I mention that it was an AMAZING place to stay?). This ancient pagan burial ground served as the inspiration for Craig Na Dun, the standing stones through which Claire travels back in time. I tried (unsuccessfully, sadly) to time travel. Shayne was a sport and took my picture (but told me if I disappeared he wasn’t going to follow, NOR would he send the dog through, because he’s seen how they lived back then and isn’t super keen to experience it).IMG_3689 It was super peaceful, not crowded at all. Definitely a mystical feel, as there were a number of burial cairns and numerous rings of standing stones.IMG_3694I’ll be back soon with more recaps of our Scottish adventures!

Life Lately?

Life lately has been…hectic? Sad? Happy? Busy? I’m not sure how best to describe it, so here’s some pictures (aka iPhone photo dump) and some brief sentences.

Lots of mediocre runs. Not much in terms of long runs (except a half I’ll do a short recap on later). A few decent runs (including a 5K PR and two AG 4th place finishes).img_2467Lots of ducks on my neighborhood runs. I watched these babies grow up over the course of a few weeks. I stopped every time for pictures.IMG_2357A few Timbers games from our 1/3 of a season we share with friends. I get more and more excited every time we go. This last Sunday’s was especially exciting as we beat our West Coast rivals, the Seattle Sounders. IMG_2723 IMG_2718 IMG_2427A great time at a family wedding in Sedona, AZ, over memorial day weekend. This view doesn’t suck. IMG_2484 Neither do these puppy snuggles with PuppybabyJoeybaby. He likes to jump in your lap like a cat and I didn’t argue with it. I was also hella hungover in this picture.IMG_2494 Cousin time is always the best time.IMG_2496Returning home from Sedona and picking up a sick dog from the kennel, who then infected another dog we were dog sitting. I spent a week making homemade dog food (white rice, boiled chicken, and canned pumpkin) and steam cleaning the entire house.IMG_2529Celebrating the life of this lady: my grandma. I already miss her terribly, and had an all too brief trip to Iowa to attend her funeral. I love her lots but I hope she is now in a place where she has her vision back and can quilt and knit to her heart’s content. We ended her funeral by singing “You Are My Sunshine” and she always called me her sunshine girl so that made me smile, and it was nice to have some aunts from my mom’s family, as well as my maternal grandma and grandpa, there to support us as well.IMG_2543Spending some QT with my boys. Went to a Hops game for date night, had some nice evening chats on the front stoop, and shared some beers at our favorite local taproom when it’s nice enough to sit on the patio.IMG_2634IMG_2673IMG_2601Bought plane tickets to Scotland for our 5th wedding anniversary. I’d been reading a lot of Outlander at the time, but really it wasn’t a hard sell. We leave Friday. Back to your regularly scheduled blog program (keyword REGULAR) after our return. Thanks for putting up with my slacking! I’m getting my head back straight on my shoulders after a few crazy months, and I’m looking forward to 10 days with Shayne exploring the highlands (and maybe going back in time through some standing stones…I mean, I won’t say no).IMG_2450

Global Running Day – A Look Into My Miles

So technically, Global Running Day was yesterday and I was intending on linking up with Kristin from Jonesin for a Run for this Global Running Day survey, but work is kicking my trash and I missed the boat. I didn’t want to completely miss out, so here it is, one day late!Why do you run?

I run because I know it’s good for me, but I also run because it helps me feel balanced in my life. I run because it helps me decompress after a long day. I run because it makes me feel strong and confident in my body.

How do you plan to celebrate Global Running Day?

Truthfully? A full day at the office followed by a Timbers match. Unless I manage to get up early (occurrences have been few and far between lately), I probably don’t have time to squeeze in a run. I NEED to run, after a Memorial Day weekend consisting of a family wedding with too much drinking.

How many miles have you run so far this year? Do you have a mileage goal for the year?

111.3, not nearly enough miles! Work has been crazy!

What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?

Besides the races I’ve done so far, I’ve got the Vancouver USA Marathon coming up in 3 weeks…it was initially my goal race for the year but I derailed my own training a bit so I’ve tempered my expectations. I’m doing a 5K through my job next weekend, and Shayne and I are signed up for the inaugural PDX Runway Run in September! You get to run ON the actual airport runway at Portland International Airport. TSA screens all the runners beforehand! It should be super interesting. 

Before I leave for a run I must have: 

My Fitbit and my cell phone. My keys if Shayne isn’t home. My water if I’m going more than 5 miles or it’s hot.

Do you track your runs? If so, what do you use?I was using Nike+ Running with my Nike watch, now that I have my Fitbit, I just use the Fitbit app. So far it’s giving me all the detail I need! A Garmin is probably in my future down the road, but Fitbit peer pressure won this year!

Who is your favorite running partner?
 I love running with my BRF Angie because we push each other. I love running with my husband because unless we’re racing, we don’t take anything seriously and laugh and chat but also push each other to go a bit further or a bit faster.

What races have you run so far this year?
February – Worst Day 5K

March – Shamrock 15K

April – SW Hope 5K, Vernonia Half Marathon

If you have to give someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?

Someone gave this advice to me before I really became a runner, and now I pass it to you: even if you think you hate it, if you want to become a runner, just start running. Only compete with yourself.

When I received this advice, I was honestly convinced that I would never like running. And now I do.

Describe your relationship with running in one word: 

Fluid 

 

Race Recap – Vernonia Half-Marathon

Sometimes you sign up for a race on a whim.

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I’ve been focused on The Vancouver USA Half-Marathon in June as my spring “goal race.” That was going to be the race where I was going to PR my half-marathon time and hit 2:30 or less (my previous PR being 2:40:10 at the 2015 Oregon Spring Half). However, after how great I felt after the Shamrock Run 15K in March, that 2:30 mark seemed too…boring? Not lofty enough? With my current level of fitness, getting to 2:30 by June would be too easy. SO I decided a tune-up race was in order, and started searching around for a half-marathon in April, a race where I could confirm that I could run sub-2:30 NOW, and a race that would help me develop a better goal for June. If I could hit my goal without expressly being trained for a half-marathon, I could definitely do bigger and better things with an additional two months of training.

So I stumbled across the Vernonia Marathon and Half, a race organized by the Oregon Road Runners Club that takes advantage of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. The Banks-Vernonia trail is an old railroad track that has been converted into a multi-use hiking/biking/equestrian trail that stretches 21 miles from the small town of Vernonia, out in the coast range, to the other small town of Banks, which is about a 20 minute drive from Portland. I’ve been out there a few times before, and knew that it was a nice, paved trail. With the half course advertised as 7 miles of downhill and the race fee only $35, I knew I had found myself a great spring race. I roped BRF Angie in on the antics as well.

The course was point-to-point, so I picked Angie up at 6:45 to make sure that we were able to get through packet pick-up and onto the bus to the starting line. We picked up our bibs in what seemed like record time; I hadn’t ordered an optional race shirt, but Angie did, and we were both impressed with the quality of the long-sleeve half-zip with the race logo as an emblem. We hopped on a bus full of people who were WAY more awake than us, and headed out on about a twenty minute drive to the half-marathon start at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. I’d not been to Stub Stewart, one of Oregon’s newest state parks, despite the fact that it’s less than an hour drive from our house, but it was nice and peaceful, and seemed to have a lot of options for camping, RV-ing, or yurting. There was even an off-leash area for dogs, so camping dogs could let their wiggles out in a safe place.

Chilly morning but great views!

Chilly morning but great views!

Considering we were on one of the first busses, we ended up at the starting line a full hour before the scheduled start. Luckily, ORRC had a convenient bag drop up there, so we were able to keep our over layers on until right before the gun went off. Another bonus of starting at a great, newly developed state park? REAL BATHROOMS! They had additional porta-potties as well, and I found it odd that more people lined up for those than the nice flush toilets, but I didn’t complain because it meant a shorter line for me, and a hand dryer that helped ebb away the morning chill.

Angie's spontaneously got to represent her old area code!

Angie’s spontaneously got to represent her old area code!

Ready to run (ish)

Ready to run (ish)

The first mile of the course was an out-and-back hill to another parking lot at the state park, before we headed to the Banks-Vernonia trail head near the park’s entrance. There were a surprising number of cars coming in and out of the park, but the ORRC volunteers did a great job of keeping everyone safe as we entered the trail (which is closed to motor vehicles). After that, it was incredibly peaceful for the next 11 miles, until we got into Banks proper and neared the finish line at the local high school.

The first marathoner didn’t pass me until about mile 7, so it was otherwise fairly quiet on the course. There are only a few trail heads, so that’s where the aid stations were found. We wove in and out of the trees and it is SO QUIET until you near banks, it was great to just listen to podcasts with my headphones in. I was feeling good for the first 8 or 9 miles, and I cruised along, monitoring my pace on my Fitbit. I wanted to come in with an 11:30/mile average or better, but although I couldn’t really feel the downhill while I was on it, it showed in my pacing. A lot of my first miles were under 11, and I knew I probably went out of the gate too quickly, but it was hard to hold myself back when my legs felt fresh. Each aid station had water, Gatorade (which became my FAVORITE running treat during marathon training), and sweet and salty snacks. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and walked through each aid station, but I skipped the snacks because I had a fresh sleeve of Mountain Berry Shot Bloks in my handheld.

There was a sign near mile 6 that warned of a photographer up ahead. I definitely appreciated the warning, because, as evident by race photos past, I need all the preparation I can get in order to not look like a hot mess. They stationed the photographer in the perfect location, in the middle of a rebuilt train trestle that I was super excited to run across.

Oregon Road Runners Club Vernonia Marathon. These photos are free for personal use of the participants as a benefit of the event.

Oregon Road Runners Club Vernonia Marathon. These photos are free for personal use of the participants as a benefit of the event.

Aside from the pictures from the Southwest Hope 5K, this is definitely the best race photo of me ever taken. I tried so hard.

Mile 8 is where I feel like I started to fall apart a bit. The course becomes a bit more…farm-ey? Less picturesque trees, more manure smells. Also, the downhill levels out. Though I couldn’t feel the downhill while running it, I definitely noticed the change when it occurred. I took a few walking breaks and it got harder and harder to start running again.

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A particularly sparse stretch of trail around mile 9-10.

Miles 11 and 12 were both over 13 minutes, which I was not happy about, but I knew that my average pace was still on track to hit 2:30. Coming off of the trail in downtown Banks, there were other people who had already finished sporting shiny medals which renewed my drive and, looking at my watch, I knew I was cutting it close to my desired time. I picked up the pace as much as I could through the empty main street. We were diverted across the street at mile 12.5 due to what looked like a recently extinguished house fire…thankfully everyone seemed to be ok (the house was literally less than a block from the fire station) but still, some unforeseen and unfortunate excitement added to the race. I was directed into the finisher’s chute that runs through the parking lot of Banks High School and spits you out for one lap around the track into the finish area. It was here that I heard my mom yelling “GO MARGE!” I had never heard if she was going to come or not, so I was so excited to see her!

Mom snapped this pic of me running into the finish. I'm smiling because I'm almost done.

Mom snapped this pic of me running into the finish. I’m smiling because I’m almost done.

As I neared the actual finish, I saw that the clock was just about to hit 2:30. Though I knew that, adjusting for chip time, I had probably met my goal, I still tried (and failed) to cross before the clock time of 2:30. But after receiving a medal (with the cool train logo on it) and hugging my mom (who knew I wanted to finish within 2:30), I was able to get an instant print out of my official time – 2:29:19!

Angie came in shortly after me, and then we picked up our drop bags and snapped some parting photos:

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My #1 cheerleader/she birthed me.

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Thankful that this lady says yes to all my crazy last minute race ideas.

The Good: I was so happy to PR by more than 10 minutes. It was my first time doing this race but I would sign up again in a heart beat. The ORRC knows what’s UP when it comes to race organization, and I love how it was inexpensive yet still a great race experience. The volunteer brigade was super friendly, the course was scenic, the weather was perfect, and there was plenty of finish line food, though I chose not to partake in any (I just wanted COFFEE).

The Bad: Nothing, really. Despite my PR, I wasn’t thrilled with my pacing (or lack thereof), as I keep thinking that maybe I could have done better on the back half if I restrained myself in the first 8 miles. But that’s on me. Race wise, everything was great. I would probably take a later bus to the start next year…there’s not really much to do at 8 AM in a state park parking lot on a Sunday morning. One can only do so many pre-race stretches.

Oregon on the Run

It’s finally that time of year again…where it’s pleasant to be outside (most of the time) and you don’t always have to dodge puddles or rain clouds. It was dicey for a bit. I went out for five miles one afternoon and accidentally turned it into a mud run:

Pro tip – the grass is usually not drier than the giant puddle

Ramsay is loving that he can roll around in the grass without getting his paws wet (he’s a California dog at heart) and chase all manner of vermin around our backyard. And we’ve been especially lucky that the weekends have all been super nice lately. We even did a family hike at Tryon Creek State Park, a great little park with intersecting trails in the heart of Southwest Portland. Ramsay was a champ, we hiked around for an hour exploring and encountered a ton of different dogs, but he showed ZERO leash aggression #proudmama.

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He didn’t love this footbridge but we coaxed him over it…he’s half intrepid adventurer, half scaredy cat (dog).

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I’ve been continuing with my weekend long runs with Foot Traffic University, and trying to sneak a few miles in here and there throughout the week. Work is still busy, but during the winter weather months I made use of our office’s basement gym and got in some treadmill work and worked on my wee little biceps. It seems like everyone at work got a Fitbit for Christmas, so I finally hopped on board with a Fitbit Surge (I had been wanting to upgrade my Nike+ TomTom). So now I’m a llllllllllll about the step count. There’s a Weekend Warrior challenge amongst my coworkers almost every weekend, so I try to do a lot of walking during the week to both up my step count and take a break from my spreadsheets.

A few weeks back I participated in a 5K that my friend helped to organize through her church, the SW Hope 5K.

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This is undoubtably my favorite race picture of all time and sums up my feelings on running – PURE HAPPINESS!

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Katy was my randomly placed freshman year roommate in college who became one of my best friends!

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The SW Hope 5K was an untimed inaugural race, but it was for a great cause, a local non-profit that helps to feed 400-700 families a month in the Southwest Portland neighborhoods. And almost all of the race fees went directly to the cause! It was a beautiful day, a tough and hilly course in Gabriel Park that involved freshly cut wet grass, gravel, dirt, and pavement, and a great atmosphere with a DJ and a fun post-race raffle. My friend and her husband cheered me on during the two loops of the park and I soaked up some sun afterwards.

And finally, last week I had the great opportunity of going to a meet up with Katie from the blog Runs for Cookies . She was in town for a race and was staying with a friend nearby, and hosted a get-together at an amazing little coffee shop right down the street from me! I’ve been reading her blog for a while, and her entire story is inspiring, but I’ve definitely enjoyed reading about her recent training, as she’s been working on speed for shorter distance races. Since speed has been my focus this year, I’ve loved watching her progress and it’s helped me brainstorm some different ways to improve my own speed. Shoutout to Katie for meeting her 10K PR goal while she was out here! It was so nice to meet her in person!

I'm on the far far right, and Katie is standing next to me. It was great to meet some other fellow blog lovers and talk about life while drinking a delicious latte!

I’m on the far far right, and Katie is standing next to me. It was great to meet some other fellow blog lovers and talk about life while drinking a delicious latte!

And that’s what been going on over here in Happy Healthy PDX land. I’ll have a race recap up tomorrow from the Vernonia Half Marathon, which I ran last weekend. And, hopefully, a recipe! I’ve been mastering slow cooker applesauce, and I’m planning on making a big batch tomorrow. You heard it here first, folks, I WILL POST RECIPES AGAIN!

Your turn – done any races lately?  What’s your best (or worst) race photo? Are you as addicted to reading blogs as I am?