Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No. 17

I picked up three of these Diane Mott Davidson culinary mysteries last summer at the THS band garage sale. I just read the last of my three: Fatally Flaky.
It was simple but fun, and I wasn't sure of the killer until the end. 

The heroine is a caterer who finds herself in the center of death investigations. Her husband is a homicide detective, so they kinda team up to solve the mysteries. Cheesy, I know. But entertaining. It's perfect for reading while falling asleep each night because it doesn't take a lot of brain power.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cool Kids Bike Club rides again

I don't know how she's done it, but Deb ordered up the most summer-like weather for another Cool Kids Bike Club ride!

Six of us THS friends joined a few Tualatin High folks last Monday for a ~9-mile lollipop (an out-and-back route with a loop at the end) It was so fun that we decided to do it again today after school!

This time Brad got to join the two-wheeled fun. But no TuHS friends came along. They must not be cool enough :)
Nicole, Catherine, Deb, Liz and Brad
We did the same loop and didn't lose anyone this time :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Discrimination is discrimination.

Written by my mother, one of the smartest and most thoughtful people I know:

Very concerned that some are taking up the cause of raising money for the bakers who refused to serve a same-gender wedding. Verbiage including "persecuted Christians" is being tossed about, as if their situation is on par with people who are jailed for holding Bible studies. Friends, these bakers are not being persecuted. It is illegal to discriminate, whether you wrap it up in religion or not. Regardless of the sincerity of belief, discrimination is discrimination. Consider this: in my state of Oregon, the Klan held rallies, marches, and cross-burnings in the 1920s, all in the name of their "Christian beliefs". And those in the Klan were very sincere about the "Christian basis" of their actions. 

So here's what's up: We in America are blessed to have First Amendment protection that allows us to worship without threat of government intervention. And if your religion includes not inviting a same-gender couple into your home for a piece of cake, be assured you are free to never, ever, entertain a same-gender couple in your home, with or without cake. But if selling cakes is your business, you must not question the sexuality of someone coming into your business who wants a cake - you must sell them a cake. And if you refuse, even if you say to sell would offend your religion, you are not being faithful - you are being a bigot. And running your business in a bigoted manner is a violation of Oregon law. No religious persecution here.
Now go read Matthew 22:36-40 and see what Jesus said to do.

Thanks, Mom!!

And I'll save you the trouble of looking it up:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Peak mileage

It's taper time!
Yesterday's 12-mile run will be my longest for this training cycle with my goal race, the Hippie Chick Half, just two weeks away.

The weather was supposed to turn nasty in the late morning, but the thunderstorms never arrived in our area. We didn't even see rain. But my friend, Gregg, got caught in a hail storm during his long run in Newberg! Glad it stayed nice for my outing.

Brad and I left at the same time but soon parted ways as I was going very slow on tired legs and he was planning to do some tempo work in the middle of his long run.

My only goal was to get the miles under me. I wore my heart-rate monitor and tried to keep it low, but I was so tired from this past week that I just couldn't do it. I felt like I was almost walking by the end!

Also - my iPod was dead (totally my fault), so it was 2 hours without music. Man, I sure could have used it for the last 5K or so. It seemed like the longest 3 miles of my life :)

Brad finished way before me but was waiting on the front porch when I arrived home so we could get a picture together. What a good running buddy :)

It felt good to battle it out and overcome my fatigue. But now it's time to recover and taper and get ready to run fast again!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Crazy, cursed weekend

Last weekend was supposed to be a fun adventure to Seattle with my fam. But our trip was cursed!

The weekend started on a sad note. My high school classmate, Christa Maunu Abrams, died last week after battling hard against cancer. We celebrated her life Friday at a memorial service and potluck.
It was a beautiful remembrance and also served as an impromptu high school reunion with friends I hadn't seen in 20 years! Christa was a great person who is already missed. Her grieving family, including her husband and young daughter, could sure use your prayers.

Since I knew I'd be traveling Saturday, I got up early to squeeze in a little 5K run around town. It was a beautiful morning.
Then Brad and I met Dad and Eryn at REI for the quarterly used-gear sale. Dad and Eryn scored some deals, but Brad and I left empty-handed - I rarity for sure!

Brad and I parted ways (he had plans to climb Mount Hood), and Dad, Eryn and I drove north to catch our train to Seattle. (Mom had an afternoon band concert and joined us later)

We had a little time to kill, so we checked out the Vancouver Farmers Market. Hand-dipped veggie corn dogs for lunch:
Dad helped Eryn finish hers:
Bought some YUMMY pecan nut butter from local vendor Nut-Tritious Foods:
While waiting for the train, we learned that the Tukwila Homewood Suites was overbooked, and we didn't have a room. After much "discussion", they ended up agreeing to put us up in their sister hotel, the Hilton at Sea-Tac.

The train ride was totally uneventful... until it wasn't. We stopped south of the Tacoma station, and the conductor said there was a problem with the air line. We sat for a very long time (an hour?) before limping into the Tacoma station for a potty stop. Apparently, the air controls the toilets and the brakes.

We eventually left Tacoma at the blazing speed of 25 mph! That's the fastest they could go in order to stop the train - since we didn't have brakes! We looked out the window while crawling through one small town and saw a old guy in a mobility scooter on the frontage road next to us. We were not going much faster.
Man, that took a LONG time to get from Tacoma to Tukwila.

Meantime, packet pickup for our Sunday race came and went. Then it was obvious Dad wouldn't get the King Felix bobblehead he hoped to score before the Mariners game. Then it got so late that he wouldn't even make the start of the game. UGH!

Fortunately, he hadn't yet purchased a game ticket, so he decided to skip the game and stay with Eryn and me. We finally de-trained and got the hotel shuttle to take us to our new hotel, where we had some trouble checking in and getting our meal vouchers (the original hotel included an all-we-could-eat breakfast).

After getting settled, we rented a car (to get to the race Sunday morning), and went in search of dinner. Our zippy Kia Soul took us to The Landing to scout out the race area. We chose Mucho Burrito for dinner, and it was really good! Dad went for a steak quesadilla, and Eryn and I eat had chipotle shrimp. I wish there was one near home.
For dessert, we went to Top Pot Doughnuts, which I had heard was the best in Seattle!
And they had my favorite - the glazed chocolate old fashioned:
It was good, but nothing special. I was expecting more, I guess.

The plan: After going to packet pickup on a little bus adventure, Eryn and I would kick back at the hotel, paint our nails Seahawks colors and watch some cable TV. Lots of relaxing before an early bedtime and an early wakeup for the race.

After a long day of traveling and lots of disappointments and plans falling through, it was late and we were finally just getting ready for bed. We were laying out our race stuff when Eryn said, "I forgot my sports bra!" WHAT?!? I almost killed her.

Mom arrived shortly after the discovery, so we all jumped in the Soul and drove to Target so Eryn would be supported for her race.
All I wanted was sleep, and we were driving around Tukwila looking for bras... and a Filet-o-Fish for Mom's dinner. We also got lost driving back to the hotel and ended up in Burien.

Next up was the breakfast debacle:

Because we missed packet pickup, we had to be at the race early to check in. We each had a $25 food voucher, which basically buys nothing at the Hilton restaurant. Plus, the restaurant opened at 7 a.m. and we wanted to leave the hotel by 6:30 a.m.

But wait - they have room service that starts at 6 a.m. PERFECT! We asked at the restaurant and were told we could use our food vouchers. OK! We looked at the menu and could only afford oatmeal and fruit. So much for that all-we-can-eat buffet.
Eryn called in our order and was first told they don't really start serving until at least 6:15 a.m. or 6:20 a.m. Ugh. I guess we'll eat fast. Then the guy said we could not use the food vouchers.


After some discussion with his manager, it was confirmed that the vouchers were no good for room service. Now what?? A while later, the manager called back and said there was some confusion, and we COULD use our vouchers. OK. Orders all set.

Finally time for sleeping.

We woke up early, early and got all dressed and sun-screened. Then we sat around waiting for the room-service knock. 6:15 a.m. came and went. 6:20 a.m. came and went. I was about to call when the phone rang. 

"This is room service and we have your order all ready. Except our stove isn't working, so we can't make your oatmeal."


So by "we have your order all ready," she meant that they had cut up some fruit. Yay. We had specifically told them we had to leave the hotel by 6:30 a.m. 

I canceled our order, called Mom and Dad's room and told the fam we would have to get something at the race.

After getting a primo parking spot and easily picking up our bibs and shirts, we joined dozens of other runners in line at Panera Bread. We got fruit and oatmeal - ALL FOUR OF US, for $25!
After all that, the Seahawks 12K Run was a blast - a total success! I ran smart and hard, and PR'd by more than 2 minutes.
We scooted back to the hotel, showered, packed and headed to the Mariners game, arriving after the start but just in time to see a three-run homer.

Mom purchased seats in the handicap section, not knowing how Dad's back would be just two weeks after surgery. He ended up not needing it, but they were sure nice seats! Cold, but nice.
The Mariners were way down toward the end of the game. Then they started to make a comeback. The game was getting really good - but then it was time to leave to catch the train! 

UGH! That stupid train.

We walked slowly down the ramp, stopping on each level to check out the action. Then we had to tear ourselves away and walk to the train station.

The crowd erupted in cheers as the Mariners took the lead in the bottom of the ninth. We were crossing the parking lot and could only imagine the spectacular ending.

Fortunately, the trip home was without too much excitement. We played cards at a four-person table while the guy across the aisle got high in the bathroom and then scratched and picked at himself the whole way to Vancouver. After the crazy weekend we had, that didn't even phase us :)

PS - I'll be driving next time!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Adventure Thursday: Discovery Run

This week's Adventure Thursday overlapped with the first Discovery Run of the year!

Three weeks after back surgery, Dad's not ready to run, but he can walk. In fact, he did a whole (slow) 5K Sunday in Seattle!
RoadRunner Sports hosts these free, monthly scavenger hunts in Tualatin. Runners and walkers of all shapes, sizes and abilities collect raffle tickets and then sip free beer or root beer floats at the finish line while hoping for great prizes.

We took it easy as Brad's been sick and hasn't run in a week, and I am still recovering from a tough race Sunday. Also, you get double tickets for wearing the official Discovery Run shirt. They have new shirts this year, so we missed out on those.
It poured just before we left for the run, but then it stayed dry. Still, dark clouds threatened more rain, so they moved the finish-line festivities inside the store.
None of us won a raffle prize. BUT... Golazo was one of the vendors, and we scored a bunch of free drinks. This brand is Brad's favorite!
A very fun way to get in a workout! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seahawks 12K (4/19/15)

Months ago, when we planned to go to Seattle this past weekend for some Mariners baseball, we signed up for the Seahawks 12K Run in nearby Renton.
Friend Tera has done the race a couple times and recommended it - plus, I don't really need an excuse to register for a race - especially one where I'm encouraged to wear my tutu ;)

The weekend was a near-total disaster, with so many things going wrong that I can't even remember it all. But Sunday's race was a high point!

Our train broke down Saturday, so we missed packet pickup. Because the crowds were supposed to be huge, and there was limited parking close to the race, the plan was to get there really early to grab our bibs.

We parked just a block from the race area (which was a big shopping center) and walked right up to get our bibs and shirts before the big crowds gathered. Without trouble, Mom and Dad were able to switch from the 12K to the 5K.

I was so distracted by all the things going wrong with our weekend that I didn't take any pictures at the race. Not a single one. Until we were all the way back to our hotel:
An empty storefront served as the gear check, but since we were parked so close, we opted to put our warm clothes in there.

Because of a breakfast debacle at the hotel, we arrived at the race with empty stomachs. Fortunately, there was a Panera Bread in the shopping center. Unfortunately, many, many other racers decided to fuel up there, too. We stood in line for a long time to order fruit and oatmeal, and when we finally got our food, it was cold (yum!). But we were desperate and without other options, so it would have to suffice.

After ditching our clothes and hitting the port-a-potties, Eryn and I jumped into the starting chute for the 9 a.m. 12K. Amazingly, Tera spotted me - and we exchanged a pre-race hug for luck. Each wave started with some fanfare - and apparently an appearance by the Seahawks mascot, dancers and drum line, though I couldn't see them through the crowd.

This race was large - capped at 12,000 runners. And almost everyone was dressed in Seahawks shirts, jerseys, flags or tutus. I loved it! Mom, Eryn and I all wore our green tutus and blue tank tops. Dad apparently didn't get the memo and wore orange:
As always, I didn't study the course ahead of time. I knew it was an out-and-back and there were some hills. Oh, and it went to the Seahawks training facility. That's it.

I've only run one other 12K, so I didn't have a good sense of what this distance (7.46 miles) would look or feel like. I planned to go by feel and see what happened. I did look to see that my PR from my first 12K was a 9:14 average. I tucked that in the back of my mind and went to work.

It was very crowded at the beginning, so I spent a lot of time weaving. That gets old really fast. Actually, it was never not crowded. Fortunately, I was able to run on the other side of the center line for some of it. Having that wide-open path feels good. (That's one of the things I enjoyed about my last race - the openness of the field)

About 2 miles in, I heard a siren. I soon realized that it was the motorcycle escort for the lead runner coming back on the course. I was at 2.25 miles when he lapped me! (He ended up winning with a 5:08 pace!)
One of the most amazing things about this race was the crowd support. Everyone cheered for that runner as he went past. And then the next one. And then the next one. And pretty soon, here came the lead woman. We cheered even louder for her! I can only imagine the mental boost those runners got as they ran past a huge crowd cheering just for them.

Runners are the best!

The course had lots of rolling hills, so I shortened my stride on the way up and then took full advantage of gravity on the way down. I felt like I had a good rhythm, and I watched my average creep down. I was running controlled but also pushing a little. The out-and-back provided a nice distraction as I watched the other runners coming toward me. Also - snagged a high-five from Tera as she zoomed past. She's really fast!
The course was gorgeous! Once we left the shopping center/industrial area, we ran next to Lake Washington.

The training facility was at the turn-around point. I rounded the corner and spotted the water station... and some Seahawks players handing out cups of water! WHAT?!? I didn't know that was going to happen! I don't know who the players were - not Wilson, Sherman or Lynch - but they were still Seahawks!

I really wanted to stop and gawk, like many other runners were doing, but I was doing so well with my pace that I let myself take just a moment to take it in. I also saw the little helmet car they drive at the games, as well as the big grass field where they practice outside, overlooking Lake Washington. And through big glass garage doors, I saw some weight machines. It was so cool!

I got back in my groove and started picking up the pace. The temp was near-perfect, the wind was light, and the left lane was mostly clear. I started pushing a bit more. I was passing lots of people, including men, and felt awesome that I was kicking butt in a neon-green tutu!

One woman gave me a "nice job" as I passed. But to keep me humble, a woman pushing a newborn in a giant stroller zoomed past me. It's all relative :)

I kicked as hard as I could at the end, rounded the corner to the finish line and barely crossed the pads before I was stopped by the crowd.

The finisher area was JAM PACKED like a cattle chute. It was very well organized but no where near big enough. I think I was in there 15+ minutes, getting water, bagel, banana, shoe chip removed and finally this awesome medal:
I was completely cooled off by the time I got out of the chute, and the wind was chilly. So I ran to the nearby car and grabbed our puffy jackets. Then I went back in search of my family.

I had a slight panic moment when I realized we never made a meet-up plan. The place was big, and all 12,000+ people were dressed the same! Thankfully, I finally spotted Mom and Dad (yay for the only orange shirt!), and then Eryn.

We were hustling to shower, pack, check out of our hotel and then beat it downtown for the Mariners game, so we didn't hang out. But it looked like there were lots of freebies and Seahawks things to photograph.
I ended up finishing in 1:08:36, an 8:56 average pace! (My Garmin had the course long at 7.66 miles) That's an 18-second-per-mile PR!

I usually finish VERY middle of the pack. But I'm starting to move up! This time I was 924 out of 4953 and 80 out of 560 in females 35-39. WOOHOO! That's not the middle of the pack :)
I'm most excited about my splits. I negative split the entire race, aside from the mile I was distracted by the professional football players!

 My splits:
  • Mile 1: 9:28
  • Mile 2: 9:24
  • Mile 3: 8:55
  • Mile 4: 8:51
  • Mile 5: 9:22 (Seahawks!)
  • Mile 6: 8:45
  • Mile 7: 8:30
  • Mile .66: 7:57
Sub-8 for the last .66?! YES!

We've gone to opening weekend two years now, and I hope we go again next year and make the Seahawks 12K a new family tradition :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cool Kids Bike Club

I'm in the Cool Kids Bike Club!

Deb sent out an all-staff email asking folks to join her in some after-school biking - the ultimate goal being June's Ride for Schools

Catherine, Deb, Nicole, Andy, Brenda and I met in yesterday's sunshine and zipped down the hill and over the river to Tualatin City Park. A few folks joined from Tualatin High School, and we set out on a 6-mile loop out Tualatin-Sherwood Road, 124th and Tualatin Road.

There was a little mix up on the planned rest stop, and the group got split up. But these ladies met at the end and shared some grapes (thanks, Deb!):
Liz, Brenda, Deb & Caroline
I wish I had a picture of the whole group... next time for sure!

Unfortunately, I can't make the Ride for Schools this year.  Looks like lots of fun - and it benefits schools - a win, win!
Looking forward to our next outing :)

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 :)