Saturday, January 31, 2015

Adventure Thursday: spa birthday

Thursday was definitely an adventure, but not the usual kind for me. 

I was invited to spend the evening celebrating the 40th birthday of one of my dear friends. Laura wanted to pamper herself at The Allison Spa, and she wanted us to go with her!

I had a handful of massages after I was rear-ended a couple years ago. They were amazing, but they were in a doctor's office - not exactly a "spa" experience. So this was all new - very foreign and very fancy!

The plan was to get spa services, then spend the evening hanging out together in the lounge. Laura suggested the Sensory Bliss massage, so I booked that one. 
When I arrived, I was given the first-timer tour. I changed into my robe and slippers, then hung out with my book until it was time for my treatment. Out came Theresa and Laura, done with their massages. My turn!

The 30-minute Sensory Bliss concentrated on neck, scalp, shoulders, hands, arms, feet and lower legs. It was very nice - very relaxing! And while I was on the heated table, my robe was hanging on a heated rack - like I said, very fancy!

Soon, all six of us were gathered in the lounge, all relaxed from our services. We ordered dinner and desserts, delivered right to our robed-selves in the lounge.
The food was really good, especially the butterscotch and chocolate desserts!

Time was ticking, and we still hadn't visited the saunas, so we moved the party out of the lounge. It was my first time in both a dry sauna and a steam room. I'm NOT a hot person; I really wilt in hot weather. But it was a fun experience. The steam room caused a few moments of claustrophobia-like panic, but I stayed standing by the door and it became more comfortable. It felt really cleansing to have the condensation and the sweat just pouring off me.

You're allowed to hang out all day, but closing time was near. So we took turns in the showers, dressed in our own clothes and prepared for reentry.

Fully relaxed:
The Allison was amazing! I can't believe all the amenities - they've truly thought of everything.

I'm so glad Laura invited me to share in this special day with her! But more than the spa fun, I am so glad to have Laura in my life! She's a wonderfully funny, sensitive, caring, witty person. She's been a great friend for many years, and I hope to have her in my life for many more. 

Happy 40th, Laura!!! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Jazmin and I laced up our running shoes and hit the trails during fourth period.

Jazmin's a senior in our (CE)2 program. She's about to graduate and decided to it was time to get strong and healthy. She's been running a bit on her own but is having a hard time self motivating. So I asked if she wanted me to run with her sometime and she said yes!
So after I wrapped up my other duties, we changed and then headed to Cook Park for some run/walking.

Jazmin kicked butt! We did 2.75 miles in all - more than she's ever done before! We chatted about running and being healthy and girl stuff and life stuff. I'm so proud of her - and she's so proud of herself - and that's what really matters!!

I hope this is the first of many runs together :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No. 6

While I enjoyed my last non-fiction, I decided to spread it out and maybe go every other.

So No. 6 was another culinary mystery - Peach Cobbler Murder by Joanne Fluke:
Hannah, the owner of the Cookie Jar bakery, investigates after the owner of her rival bakery is murdered. Lots of drama! :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend fun, food and fitness

My BFF Sarah was in town last weekend for a quick trip. She wanted to introduce me to Fat Milo's for breakfast Monday, but the Sherwood diner was unexpectedly closed. We ate at Rose's instead, and it was fabulous.

But I was thinking all week about Fat Milo's, so I asked Brad is he'd like to bike there Saturday morning for some weekend treats. He was all over that idea!

We left home about 9 a.m. and biked the ~ 8.5 miles under warm (for January) but cloudy skies. After a short wait, we got a table and ordered the chilaquiles and HUGE pancake to share.
That pancake was incredible!

The clouds burned off while we were inside:
It was next door to Rainbow Market. I lived in Sherwood through second grade, and we sometimes walked with the neighbor kids to Rainbow Market to buy cheap candy. Oh, the memories!
Lots of downtown bike parking right outside:
On the way home, we swung by my old house at Lincoln and Willamette, and I filled in Brad on the roller skating in the basement, the giant tree they removed, the laundry shoot tiny Eryn climbed through when we locked ourselves out and the bathroom pipe Dad climbed up with we locked ourselves out.

And there was Julie across the street, the pit bulls next door, the daddy long legs by the basement door, the leftover oatmeal for the dog, the silver leaf maple, the bi-colored rhodie, the filbert tree (it's still there!), the twins down the street and the neighbor's dirt bike I burned my leg on.

Good times!!!!!

We took a different route home and ended up with about 17.5 miles over all. A perfect way to start our Saturday.

Sunday, we woke to no power. We've been watching Jerico on Netflix, so I was a tiny bit freaked out that we were under attack and would have to live in the dark for months. We skipped showers and got dressed by candles and flashlights (Thanks, Pa, for the awesome Christmas flashlights - those things were perfect!)

The juice was back on when we returned from church, and life went on as normal.

We baked some things for Monday potlucks at work, then I took a short book and nap break. It was incredibly foggy all day, but the clouds cleared while I slept - perfect for our afternoon run.

Brad and I are still recovering from last weekend's half marathon, so we took an easy run to Tualatin Park - 5 miles in all.
Is this really January??
Then it was time to cash in on my Christmas gift from Lindsey. We met at Bye & Bye on Northeast Alberta. I had some yummy BBQ tofu with black eyed peas and collard greens. Then, since Salt & Straw was just 10 blocks away, we walked down for some ice cream.

I got the candy cap mushroom and port - and it was amazing!
She's a good friend to eat vegan food with me :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cascade Half Marathon (1/18/15)

The streak is finally broken!!!
My half-marathon PR (personal record) stood for two years at 2:06. I hit the magic number THREE times and was beginning to think I'd never get under it.

Well, last Sunday was my day!

While improving at PT, I gradually upped my long-run mileage, adding just 1 mile each week. Then came a series of pain-free runs and graduation from PT. When Brad decided to sign up for the Jan. 18 Cascade Half Marathon, and I saw that my long-run progression had me running 11 miles that same weekend, I signed up, too - 11, 13, what's the difference? :)

It POURED all day Saturday, but Sunday's forecast for Turner, Ore, looked better with showers and temps near 50. Unfortunately, winds were also expected to be sustained around 15 mph with gusts to 20. Certainly not ideal.

We made the 1-hour drive to Cascade Junior High School nice and early, picked up our bibs in the gym and hopped back in the car to wait for our 9 a.m. start.
The school was open, and I used the real bathrooms twice before it was time to run. Nice!

I truly didn't know what to expect for this one. I did a solid 10 miler and a solid 12 miler in the weeks before, so I figured I might be able to push it. Plus, the route is completely flat - perfect for running fast. But I hadn't been training for a PR.
I started comfortably and tried to just keep a steady pace. The wind was blowing from the south, and when we turned across the farmland, rain was coming hard from the right. I had pulled down my sleeves but then pulled my right sleeve back up. My temp was perfect. (I love running with sleeves because I can pull them up and down depending on conditions)

Because it was all open farmland, the wind really whipped - nothing to slow it down. I've done lots of wet and windy races, and this was for sure near the top of the list as wettest and windiest!

I really felt great the whole time. I was working but not struggling, and my miles clicked by at a fast pace for me.

I decided to wear my water belt so I could sip and eat gels on my own time. The aid stations were definitely adequate, but I skipped them all, opting to fuel on my own. I ate one gel before the race and nursed two during the race.

My PR pace was 9:37. In the last few miles, my average was down near 9:20. I knew I had this - if I could just hold on.

I passed many, many people in the last miles - always a great mental boost. I briefly chatted with one woman, and several people gave me encouragement as I passed. (Everyone at this race was so great!)

With under 1.5 miles to go, I switched views on my Garmin and saw that I was at 1:50. That meant I was definitely going to PR, and I had 11 minutes to get done in 2:00 (anything under 2:01 counts in my mind). GO TIME!!!!

I still had kick left in me, and it was basically just one straight stretch to the finish line. BUT - that last mile was DIRECTLY INTO THE WIND. AHHHH! I tried SO hard to run fast, but I just couldn't do it. It was like running into a wall - I could.not.go.faster. I gave it my absolute all, and finished in 2:02.

Brad was waiting at the finish:
At first I was really disappointed that I couldn't get in under 2:01. But then I realized I had PR'd by 4 minutes!!! That's huge.

Also, this was the first time ever that I'd run 13 miles without walking. Ever. I usually walk through the aid stations. This time, it was all running. That's huge, too!

Brad PR'd but missed his goal by mere seconds. We decided the wind was definitely the deciding factor. He left it all on the course and should be very proud of all his hard work over the past six months of training!

He was pretty chilled by the time I finished. So we went to the high school cafeteria (next door) for our reward soup, bread and cookies:
It was great to be inside, dry and warm. And that salty soup tasted amazing.

New medals for our racks:
My body felt relatively good during the race, but I felt a little pain on my left middle toe. My toes rub together, and I have to be careful that my nails don't cut into the skin next to them. I looked down after my race and saw the telltale sign:
Bloody shoe. And bloody sock:
TMI?? Sorry ;)

It wasn't really as bad as it looks. The rain really spread that blood :)


My Garmin time was 2:02:28 - a 9:16 average. (The course measured 13.21 miles on my watch)

Official results have me at 187th pace overall (out of 349), 15 of 35 in my division (F 35-39) and 73 of 215 in women. Not too shabby.

My splits:
  • Mile 1: 9:21
  • Mile 2: 9:19
  • Mile 3: 9:28
  • Mile 4: 9:21
  • Mile 5: 9:17
  • Mile 6: 9:12
  • Mile 7: 9:12
  • Mile 8: 9:09
  • Mile 9: 9:12
  • Mile 10: 9:15
  • Mile 11: 9:15
  • Mile 12: 9:21
  • Mile 13: 9:26
  • Last .21: 8:13

Splits don't get much more even than that. Brad says I'm a running robot. 

Notice how my pace dropped off in miles 12 and 13? That's that darn wind!

Because of my Achilles injury, I hadn't raced a half marathon in about a year and a half. I have been building up my mileage, but I haven't done speed work or serious training since February 2014. But, I have been doing tons of cross training, specifically intervals and anaerobic threshold training with spin and kickboxing. I'm a true believer now!

I am so proud of this race! It felt amazing to get back out there and run hard. YIPPEE :) :)

PS - My Achilles didn't hurt at all. Oh, yes!

PPS - This was a great race. Good price, good course, good people, good food. I would do it again. And you should, too.

Adventure Thursday: Tryon trail run

I really want to get back to my Adventure Thursday habit with Dad! We had lots of fun this past summer and fall, but with shorter winter days, we've fallen off the wagon.

Because I had an eye doctor appointment this Thursday (an adventure in itself!), I asked Dad to join me after work Friday instead.
We went to Tryon State Park for some trail running and hiking. Mom joined us for the first little bit but had to get back to work.

We spent about an hour on the trails - and it felt so great! The rain held off, and the ground wasn't too muddy. The temperature was way too hot for January, but if global warming is the way of the future, I guess we just have to get out and embrace it.
Already planning our next adventure! :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No. 5


Brad's been harassing encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone and read some non-fiction. So I grabbed this Donald Miller from my shelf. I've read several Miller books and enjoyed them, and Through Painted Deserts was no exception.
It's the story of his young self traveling with a new buddy in a VW bus - from his hometown of Houston to Portland. Of course, the bus breaks down a lot, and they have fun adventures. And along the way, he discovers some things about God and his faith.

And he's beside himself when he gets to Oregon and there's a coffee shop on every corner - and it's more than $1! HA! Welcome to Portland.

I really enjoyed the story, especially the Oregon twist. And the VW twist. My folks owned VWs when I was a kid (including a bus), and we took lots of road trips to Southern California. Dad's more mechanical than Donald and his friend, Paul ;)

Donald talks a lot about creation and beauty in nature. Then I rode to work this morning with this view:
Oh, yes!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No. 4

As promised, I started a non-fiction title after my last book. But then Eryn grabbed the latest Michael Connelly from the Tigard Library, finished it well within the 14-day loan period and then passed it to me (we always share like that). No renewals allowed on the new releases, so I traded non-fiction for The Burning Room.

I busted that out in a couple days. It's a typical Connelly, which follows an LAPD detective as he solves crimes. This time, he was working a couple cold cases. As always, a good mystery and a fun read.

Now back to my other book :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vista Butte (1/1/15)

What do you do when your aunt e-mails to say her Sunriver home is unexpectedly available during Christmas break? You pack up and drive east for some R&R!

Kari and Vicki were southbound for the Rose Bowl when their New Year's renters canceled. They offered up the house to us, and we jumped at the chance for a mini vacation. Brad already planned to take off some time at the beginning of the year, so we left after work on New Year's Eve and didn't return home until Sunday evening.

Most of the time was spent unwinding after several long weeks of work for Brad. We watched cable, football and movies, read some, ate a lot, looked at the snow, and lived in our PJs. Sean came out Thursday afternoon to join in the fun. (Karen had to stay home and work) :(

But it wasn't all slothfulness. Thursday, Brad and I moved the coffee table out of the way and did a kickboxing DVD - all three sessions. He's been training for a half marathon (this weekend!) and hadn't done that in a while. He was pretty sore after!

Friday, we took Sean up Vista Butte, a little bump near Mount Bachelor. The short jaunt with a big payoff has become a favorite for us.

It was sunny, calm and warm as we skipped the traversing trail and pointed our snowshoes straight up the hill. What was supposed to be 2.5 miles was just 1.1 miles - and 667' of elevation gain! We were moving pretty good up that hill and reached the top in 47 minutes!

Then the sun went behind his huge cloud. It looked like something from a sci-fi flick:
Jan. 1, 2015:
January 2011:

Sean, tromping around the top:
It never translates well to the camera, but we had a 360-degree view of the mountains and valley:
And the tree:


It was windy at the top, so we snapped some pics and then moved around the side to eat our lunch.
We started down the trail but quickly got bored and went off piste. Brad had marked the car with his GPS, so we basically just went straight there instead of winding through the woods.

Saturday morning, Sean and Brad went to a nearby gravel pit to shoot a shotgun that Sean just inherited from his Dad's estate. It was such a "boy" moment, and they had a great time. I turned down the invitation to join them and opted for a run.

The Sunriver trails were plowed but still had a thin layer of snow and ice. The snowy parts were fine, but I didn't take my chances with the ice. I walked in the slick parts, and near the river, the ice was so bad that I almost bit it several times just walking!

Sunriver is SO confusing to navigate on foot. But I armed myself with a paper map so I could stop at traffic circles and make sure I was going in the right direction. I went north and then along the river. It was gorgeous out!
I ended up doing almost 6.5 miles - and it felt wonderful! First run of the New Year!!

As always, a HUGE thanks to Kari and Vicki for your generosity :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sabbath by the Sea

Each year, I see information about Sabbath at the Sea and consider attending the "personal retreat with others". I've heard nothing but praise for the annual event, but going means taking time off work, and school workers just don't get time off other than sick leave. 

But this year, I decided to go for it - to not worry about the lost wages and give it a try. I signed up for a half-week session led by my friends Susan, Gary and Mauri.

So after work last Thursday, I jumped in my car and hit the road to Twin Rocks in Rockaway Beach. But first, a quick stop in North Plains for gas and a creme de menthe hot chocolate:
Since this is a small retreat, limited to 12 participants, it was held at Harbor Villa, the camp's smaller retreat center on the water and nearer the center of town. I've enjoyed many retreats at the main camp, but this was my first visit to the other site.

I'd requested a room with a private bathroom, and I had lots of space to spread out and my pick of four bunk beds or a double. I went for the big bed :) No ocean view but several windows for fresh, sea air:
There was so much freedom in this retreat. There were three short group meetings each day that included music, learning and some sharing, but all were optional. Three meals were also provided - again, all optional. All the other time was our own to read, reflect, sleep, recreate, whatever. The main camp was also available for putt-putt, disc golf, hiking, etc.

I chose to attend all the group sessions, partly because I didn't want to miss the chance to sing with Mauri! I also wanted to take advantage of the wisdom of our leaders, Susan and Gary. Plus, the group was really fun! I was afraid they might be "stuffy", but we were actually fairly sarcastic, providing lots of laughs.

During Friday's "sabbath time", I did some reading, took a short nap, and then went for a run. Not wanting to stress my calf/Achilles, I stuck to the frontage road. But I had to grab some pics at the turnaround:  
It was SO warm and calm! I ended up in shorts and T-shirt:
After lunch, I retired to my room for more reading. I started to doze and thought, "What the heck? I have nothing else to do... " So for the second time Friday, I took a short nap. Ahhh.... Heaven!

I was up and prepping for dinner when I realized the sun was setting over the ocean. I grabbed my coat and camera and walked out to see this:
And this:
And this:
Several of us were standing together, snapping away at the sky show.
From Harbor Villa:
Saturday also included two (!) naps and a cloudy, but mild, walk on the beach:
I walked south to the main camp and then hiked around the Charlotte's Mountain trails.
It was misty and gorgeous!
The place is overrun with salamanders - watch where you walk!!
Sunday's workout adventure was an awesome run down to the camp and around Charlotte's Mountain.

The whole weekend was very peaceful and relaxing. I so enjoyed, without any pressure, the freedom to do what felt right at the moment. The leadership was excellent, providing good worship and learning time. The food was amazing (I ate way too much!) The people time was fun and fulfilling, as was the alone time.

I will go back. Anyone interested should check it out and take a chance. You won't regret it. Click HERE for more information.