Friday, April 17, 2015

Adventure Thursday: Tryon, a walk and some biking

Just two weeks post-surgery, Dad and I were back at Tryon for Adventure Thursday!

This time, we stuck to the ADA trail and a smooth, wide, gentle-sloping trail near the parking lot. No jarring downhills for quite a while. The map calls it an "all-abilities trail" - I like that ;)
Mom got to come, too.
I got out a bunch in Thursday's summer-preview weather. I rode my bike work, then took a walk in Cook Park on my lunch break:
New Chacos!
In the evening, Brad and I dusted off our road bikes in preparation for upcoming rides. We pumped up the tires, checked our batteries and planned to just tool around the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous sunset, and we decided to just keep going.
Ended up going about 11.5 miles. It was fun to go fast with my sports car road bike :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Goat Mt. Gallop Half Marathon (4/11/15)

When we saw the Molalla Running Club advertising a race series that offered three events for $89 - one goat-themed and one Sasquatch-themed - we had to sign up. Series participants also got trucker caps with this awesome logo:
The Web site provided little information about the Goat Mt. Gallop except that it was a hilly course and there were free pancakes at the end. OK!
Brad eventually found a course map online. We aren't familiar with the Molalla area, so the map didn't help much. I glanced at the elevation profile but didn't study it too hard - I prefer to be surprised. Perhaps I should have studied it more!
We prepared for this race by doing the opposite of tapering, including a 5K race at lunch Friday and a kickboxing class 12 hours before the race. Dumb? Probably. But too fun to pass up!
Race day started with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call. Ugh.

After our pre-game preparation, we were out the door at 6:15 a.m., ready for what I thought was an hour drive to Molalla High School. It only took 30 minutes, so we arrived with tons of time to spare.

Inside the gym area, we grabbed our bibs, shirts, trucker caps and paper grocery bags for the "bag check". Then we sat in the car and sized up our competition as other runners trickled in.
The field was very small (88 in all), and we noticed that there seemed to be few runners our age group. There were a handful of young people, and then the rest appeared older. Wouldn't it be funny if we placed in our age groups?! (spoiler alert: we did!)

At 8:15 a.m., we boarded one of two buses to Colton High School and got a short pep-talk from the race director, explaining how our money was directly helping the Molalla High School track and cross-country teams. He also asked how many had done this race before. About half the runners raised their hands. Then, in a very hesitant and foreboding tone, he described the course as hilly and "interesting." Oh, goody!

At tiny Colton High, we left our paper shopping bags (mine had a receipt inside!) on the bus to be returned to Molalla High. Then we used the indoor restrooms and hung out inside until it was time to walk the 600 yards uphill to the starting line. The road kept going up, up, up! In fact, the entire first mile was uphill.

I was expecting the rural race to be through fields, much like January's Cascade Half in Turner. But it was actually mostly forested and gorgeous - one of the prettiest courses I've run!
We were also expecting tons of rain and wind, per the forecast. But it was totally dry, and even sunny at times... until it wasn't. At about mile 8, it started to sprinkle. No problem! Then I noticed those "raindrops" bouncing off the pavement. OH NO! Then suddenly I was running in torrential rain and pea-size hail pounding from above.

OUCHY! That stuff hurts! I pulled on my gloves to protect my hands and just kept going, thinking how hardcore I was ;)

I also contemplated the point at which I should take shelter. When does "hardcore" become stupid or even dangerous? Thankfully, the cell passed after about a mile.
The hills were brutal, and I decided to walk briefly at the mile-5 and mile-11 (who puts a hill at mile 11?!?) hills. There was not a flat spot on the entire course. Still, I was strong on the downs and "flats", feeling confident as I passed several runners.

After a slug of water and brief walk through the final aid station (mile 12) - and a bit of a contact high from the plume of smoke on the other side of the road - I gave myself a little pep talk and decided to get 'er done.

The final 1+ mile was through a neighborhood with road construction (gravel roads!), a couple turns and a short hill right before the final push into the Molalla High parking lot. OH - and there were two speed bumps in the finishers' chute - SO glad I saw those before taking a header into the asphalt.

I kicked to the end - so fast that the official camera could only snap a blurry photo ;)
I was wearing my new TomTom GPS with heart-rate monitor. Because my display showed only my heart rate, current pace and total distance, I had no idea how fast I was going. I never planned to race it, and because of the hills, I figured I might be in around 2:30.

Nope. 2:08!

I am absolutely thrilled with that time! I ran completely by feel and nailed it.

My splits:
  • Mile 1: 9:51
  • Mile 2: 9:24
  • Mile 3: 9:51
  • Mile 4: 9:54
  • Mile 5: 9:06
  • Mile 6: 11:57
  • Mile 7: 9:39
  • Mile 8: 9:33
  • Mile 9: 9:20
  • Mile 10: 9:17
  • Mile 11: 10:20
  • Mile 12: 9:56
  • Mile 13: 9:24

Dude - those splits are awesome! (I'm still smiling about this)

Of course, Brad was waiting at the finish line. He'd already grabbed our warm clothes from the "bag check" - an unmanned pile of paper bags in the hallway inside the high school.
His finish photo:
Both of us ended up placing in our divisions! That's how you know it's a small field :) I was 3rd out of 11 female runners ages 35-39 - yippee!! 

The school offered hot showers, but we chose to just trade our wet clothes for our dry warmups and head inside for pancakes:

This race was excellent! The small-town feel was intimate and comfortable. Everyone was friendly and encouraging, including the sheriff's deputies posted along the route. The course was gorgeous. Each mile was marked, and the aid stations were staffed with friendly high schoolers. The price was right - and the money went to a good cause.

My only "complaint" is the lack of information on the Web site and the fact that there were no finishers' medals. I've never done a half marathon that didn't have a medal - and I hoped this one would have a goat on it. But since it's a charity race, I'll forgive them :)

I've done huge races and I've done tiny races. Both have lots of pros and cons. But there's something so fun about an intimate little race where you're out there all alone, just you and the country roads. Especially as a woman, there's something so freeing about running out where you'd likely never go alone.

This Goat Mt. Gallop ranks among the toughest - and prettiest - courses I've ever run. I came away smiling and so proud of my effort. Definitely a new favorite in my book :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Birthday boy

This weekend was a celebration of Dad!
We got together Saturday for pizza dinner, a card game, gifts and dessert at Shari's.

Dad and Brad ordered pie shakes. Total indulgence :)
Happy birthday, Dad!! So glad you're on the mend :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Autism Awareness 5K

The THS Autism Awareness 5K - what a great way to spend my workday lunch break!

Eryn and I changed into running stuff and made the short walk to Cook Park. A ton of students, staff and some community members also showed up for this middle-of-the-day run/walk hosted by our student leadership team.
It was casual but still very well organized! The course was well marked, and several water stations were available over the not-quite-3-mile course around the park.

Because I have a race tomorrow morning, I took this one easy. Eryn just began her 26-week training for the Portland Marathon (is that public knowledge yet??), and did a slow run/walk.
I finished and then walked back to run the end with Eryn. Then we did a little extra to finish off the 5K.
The fliers promised a sandwich bar after the run, and boy, did they ever put on a spread! Several kinds of bread, peanut butter, jelly, three kinds of cheese, several meats, condiments, lettuce, tomato, chips, cookies, granola bars, yogurts and a cake. 

We split the chips and cookie :)
I'm so proud of the THS students and staff who want to help others and do great things! You guys are awesome :)

Adventure Thursday: Cook Park

Adventure Thursday was predictably low-key this time around.

Dad is just one week out from his spinal stenosis back surgery and doing so very good! He's cleared to walk as much as he wants, but no big downhills and no exertion to the point of sweating.

Dad's been walking in his neighborhood as his energy level allows, so I thought he might like a change of scenery. At lunch, Mom and I took him to nearby Cook Park to explore the ADA-approved trail in the butterfly garden.
We didn't go far, as Dad's energy level is still low. But it was nice to get out in the sun for a little adventure!
We also spotted the new bench to honor Sabrina, my student who died in August of an unknown heart condition:
Very cool!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

I can't believe it's been a whole year!

Nearly one year ago, I took a chance that kinda changed my life.
A graduating senior offered a donation-based kickboxing class to THS staff, hoping to raise money for an educational trip to Italy. I fumbled my way through the first class... well, the first many classes. I'm not very coordinated. But the workout was terrific, the comradery was fun, instructor Brittany was very supportive, and I got hooked.

But Brittany soon graduated, and the class ended.

Fierce Fitness, her parents' gym in Multnomah Village, offers free trail classes, and I eventually worked up the nerve to try it out - thanks to Lindsey for going with my chicken-poop self! We both fell in love and signed up for memberships.
I try to go at least once per week, in addition to all the running, hiking, biking and other fun stuff I do. I've also done a couple technique classes to improve my skill. Brad joins me when not neck-deep in marathon training :) When schedules allow, Lindsey and I turn it into a mini date night with dinner after class.
Sometimes my motivation wanes... I'm tired, it's yucky outside, I'm having a bad day, I don't want to drive across town to get there. But there's honestly only been one time when I put on my gloves and my bad day didn't disappear. Sometimes exhaustion can't be overcome, no matter how many endorphins you throw at it.
I was driving home from class last night, high from a great workout, and I just couldn't stop smiling. Kickboxing with Brittany and Candice (her mom, the other instructor I usually work with) is so empowering. It makes my body and mind feel so good. Brittany and Candice take me to the point where I don't think I can do any more... and then I do. Their encouragement is so motivational and seems so genuine. I believe they truly want us to do our best and be as in love with kickboxing as they are.
I often struggle with sadness around my tummy condition. No matter now strong I am, no matter how many miles I can run, no matter what I eat, I can't control this thing. I feel yucky much of the time. My clothes don't fit. It's embarrassing. It's uncomfortable. But kickboxing makes me feel confident and strong, despite this strange condition. Yesterday was a "bad tummy day" - but I came out of class knowing that I was strong, even though my body was rebelling.
I love running and hiking and biking and being outside. But I also love kickboxing. The sweat, the sucking wind, the temporary pain, the friendships, the endorphins, the satisfaction.
I'm not good at trying new things - stepping out of my comfort zone. But I'm so happy that I gave this a go. Thanks to everyone who's supported me along the way :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

No. 16

"Another culinary mystery???", Eryn asked while waiting for Dad. Yep. Can't stay away.

I have three of these, from the THS band garage sale, I think.

No. 16 is Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson:
I finished it up Saturday while at the beach for a quick get away with Brad.

Nothing deep, but a good mystery. I love the female heroines - a much different vibe from some of the other testosterone-driven detective books I read.