Monday, February 29, 2016

Buck Mountain Mudslinger (2/27/16)

In keeping my vow to have lots of fun running trails this year, I signed up for Saturday's Buck Mountain Mudslinger at Silver Falls State Park.

The week was dry, but Friday's rain turned the dusty trails to the mud pit we were hoping for!

This was a 6.5-mile race in the Howard Creek Horse Area:
Elevation chart - whoa!:
The race didn't start until 9 a.m., but Google Maps put the drive at over an hour, and since there was only day-of packet pickup, we had to allow time to get our bibs. Oh, and the car was out of gas. So we had an early alarm and then left the house shortly before 7 a.m. and drove south in the yucky almost rain.

We arrived nice and early and got a nice parking spot near the start/finish. (I'd always rather get there early and hang out than be late and rushed before a race) It was cowboy themed, and a handful of people had some great outfits. The women registering next to us had costumes, but in order to get their "cowboy stickers" they had to do shots of Fireball. At 8:15 a.m.! One gal, much smaller than me, said she'd hardly eaten anything that morning. The guy told her to take a small shot.
So it's gonna be one of those races? Hmmm.

But.... it didn't turn out that way. Everyone was nice and appropriate. I've been to other event that weren't, and that's not my favorite atmosphere.

We grabbed our bibs, hit the potties before there was a line, and then retreated to our warm car. The potty line got crazy long... apparently two portas sat empty while runners mistakenly thought there was someone inside. Organizers held the race a few minutes to let the line die down. We ate our pre-race snack, did a little warm-up spin around the parking lot and got behind the starting line. And by then, the rain had stopped and it was in the mid-40s - perfect racing temp.

The race started in the parking lot but quickly turned into the woods. And we came to a grinding stop. There was a giant mud puddle just down the trail, and everyone was afraid to go through it. HELLO?! Isn't that why we were there? When it was my turn, I just stomped right through!

The crowd kept the starting speed slow, which was A-OK with me. We rounded a corner and saw the trail head up, up, up, and I walked... along with most everyone else. I started farther back in the pack, and that trail was MUDDY by the time I came through. We were slipping and sliding all over.

At the top, I took advantage of the big downhill to gain some time and pass some runners. These strong quads are really good at running down!

Portions of this trail were very, very muddy. And some puddles were up over my shoes. Many people were trying to weave around the mud and water, but I just went right through - it was awesome!

I ran all the flats and downs and walked when the uphills caused my heart to pound out of my chest and my calves to feel like they would explode. There was a very short - but very steep - section toward the end. A photographer had planted himself atop the hill... so I had to run up so he didn't catch me walking. That was very mean. But I did manage a smile:
This race was so fun! I loved stomping through the mud and felt pretty hardcore. I took my time going up and then went hard going down. I "chatted" with some people on the course and just had a great time.

Brad finished at 1:05 and was waiting for me at the finish. I crossed at 1:15. Not too shabby considering the course and the conditions. I've very pleased with my time.

The race wasn't chip timed, and because I started back in the pack, my official time is 1:16:06. That's good enough for 143 out of 265 overall and 4 out of 23 in my gender/age group!

I munched on a big wheat roll with peanut butter. They also had chili con carne, but Brad said it wasn't so good.

Then we had to take photos of our awesome mud-covered legs:
The front looks less muddy because some huge puddles toward the end washed off a bunch of the chunks:
He said the leg hair made removal extra challenging :)
This was a great event! Small but well organized, fun and MUDDY! I would definitely sign up for more in this series.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

No. 11

Stumbled on this at the Tigard Library and scooped it up!
I've read all in the series (alphabetical), and this is the newest from Sue Grafton.

X had a couple different plots going at the same time - lots of mystery to keep me on my toes. It was well woven! One thing that bothered me, however, was her use of the term "hoodies" for a book set in the '80s. We didn't call hooded sweatshirts hoodies back then. Oops.

Now Eryn's turn to read it - we always swap when we get good books from the library :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

No. 10

No. 10 was another Christmas gift from the sis.
I have a couple favorite culinary mystery series, including Joanne Fluke's books. The Hannah Swensen mysteries, including Blueberry Muffin Murder, are fun reads - light and entertaining. And the recipes add a fun twist. I tried one out of this book: cream cheese grilled cheese sandwiches - YUM!!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Happy 60th Anniversary, Ma and Pa!

Earlier this month, the family gathered to celebrate a milestone: my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary!
All us ladies (and a couple significant others) ate pasta and cake in honor of these two:
Ma and Pa with their daughters, Kati (center left) and Kari (center right) - and spouses, Mark and Vicki:
And the grands - Liz, Kayla, Jessie and Eryn (and Brad and Ryan):
Lots of estrogen in this group! At least Pa, Dad and Brad have another male around. Welcome to the group, Ryan :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tryon Creek (2/20/16)

My weekend started with a 7-hour training! It was great information, but that makes for a long day (and a short weekend!)

Along with six others, I'm now an official union steward, trained to represent my fellow workers on union matters. Ready to make a difference!
Eryn and I planned ahead and brought running clothes with us. I know that if I had gone home, I would have collapsed on the couch never to move again :)

The timing was perfect, and Brad was just getting home from a bike ride in the Coast Range. So the three of us set out for an easy trail run at Tryon Creek State Park.

About 3.5 miles up and down, up and down.
 Not too muddy:
A section we normally run was closed due to a landslide, so we ended up running another section backward. The trail I know so well going the other direction looked very foreign - I even thought we were on a different trail!

Brad and I have a trail race this weekend, so this week won't include anything too crazy :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

No. 9

No. 9 was another Christmas gift from Eryn - Diane Mott Davidson's The Grilling Season.

The culinary mystery follows a small-town caterer who stumbles upon a body - the girlfriend of her abusive ex-husband. He's arrested for the murder, and her life is thrown into chaos!

A good mystery :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Very soggy lunch walk

Walking in the rain on your lunch break pros:
It's wonderful to get out and breathe fresh air. 
I had the whole park to myself. 
Everything is green and so beautiful.

My pants (jeans!!) are soaked.

It was worth it :)

Council Crest (2/15/16)

With a hilly trail race looming, I thought I should do some hilly trail work. My running friend, David, has several times mentioned the trails around Council Crest, which is atop a giant hill. I asked for his recommendation, and he said it's his favorite run!
So after a weekend full of obligations, Brad and I went out Monday for a belated Valentine's Day adventure. We found a coveted spot in the tiny Marquam Shelter parking lot on Sam Jackson Park Road and started out on our adventure.

David's map had us starting farther away, near Duniway Park, but we figured we'd skip the boring city part and go straight for the mud. Well, that meant we didn't get that gentle warmup. The trail takes off straight up hill! Probably should have started lower :)
I was wearing my monitor and tried to hike the hills when my heart rate climbed. High clouds obscured the surrounding mountains, but we could see the city below:
Since the top is less than 2 miles from the car (though it is practically straight up!), we decided to keep going down the other side to add some miles. We ended up at the zoo before deciding my legs were nearing their end.

We turned around, crossed Highway 26 and ran/hiked back to the top of Council Crest. Thankfully it's all downhill from there!

We took the Shelter Loop and Marquam trails up and the Marquam and Sunnyside trails down. Sunnyside was a bit more narrow, rocky and muddy than Shelter Loop. More challenge :)
Monday was muggy, and I was drenched by the time we finished that monster run - about 5.8 miles in all. I changed into dry clothes before we drove across the river to Vita Cafe for some yummy veggie lunch:
What muddy adventure lies ahead for this weekend??? :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sisters run a marathon

So guess who just signed up to run the Portland Marathon? ME and ERYN!

We planned to run it last year, but Eryn injured her back the very next day after our first long training run together.

She's healthy, injury free and ready to go again! We're both signed up and looking forward to the next many months of training!

It's going to be a big adventure :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Christmas rewind

OK... I know it's almost Valentine's Day. BUT... our computer was on the fritz (thank you, Windows 10!), and I am so behind with sharing. In case you're feeling nostalgic for the holidays, here's something to help you out :)

Christmas break was kind of a wild ride this year!

It started crazy with Mom's accident. Eryn, Mom and I all missed the last day of school, leaving things hanging a bit - personally and professionally.

After spending half the day with her in the emergency room (always good family time!), we took turns babysitting her concussed head. Then we had a family dinner of Chinese takeout comfort food.

Saturday was the Ugly Sweater Run, our first fun run as a whole family (minus our concussed mother):
After, the Wood side went to lunch at Native Foods Cafe (Jill's a vegetarian, too!) and then a little shopping while we were at Bridgeport Village:
Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve activities, I made sure and got in a nice, early 5 miler:
Love seeing this guy at the end of my December runs:
The day was filled with family, handbells at church and then late snacks at Eryn's. I failed to photograph any of that. There's always next year!

Christmas morning always starts with an early call time at Mom and Dad's for a light breakfast and piles of presents! Vaulted ceilings mean big trees!
Merry Christmas! Done with lots of fun at Mom and Dad's - time to go to Ma and Pa's house for more!
Pa got lots of Minion-themed gifts, including this custom-made stocking cap:
The whole fam:
My time off included lots of time with this crazy lady:
Local friends and family gathered for a casual wedding reception for Jill and Maroof: (MORE RECEPTION PICS TO COME!)
Gizmo snuggled with her panda while we watched some movies:
Our tree:
Brad got some sweet Star Wars gear:
Icy days meant extra time for reading and cuddling:
I feel so fortunate to have a job that shuts down during the holidays. I'd trade pay for that time off any day :) I hope your holidays were full of family and love and all good things!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No. 8

No. 8 was Diane Mott Davidson's The Last Suppers, and other culinary mystery from my sis:
An Episcopal priest gets murdered right before the main character's wedding. The fiance, a homicide detective who found the body, is kidnapped.

The book goes into some church politics between the traditionals and the charismatics. And because the author is Episcopalian herself, I think a lot of the denominational info is authentic. I don't have much experience with the Episcopal church, and I found it interesting.

Also - it's a good mystery that had me guessing until the end :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tualatin River Greenway (2/6/16)

We explored a brand-new trail in our community!

When developers turned Tualatin's old KMart property into the Nyberg Rivers shopping center, news articles said master plans included a greenway along the river. My cynical self figured they just said that to gain approval, and that part of the plan would be axed when budgets ran over.

Well, they proved me wrong!

Construction's been in full swing for many months, and the trail is now open! (The official grand opening isn't until April 9, but it was sure packed with people Saturday when we explored)

The Tualatin River Greenway starts right behind the Tualatin Public Library:
It runs behind the shopping center, under Interstate 5, along the river, behind the Nyberg Woods Shopping Center (owned by the same property group) and dead ends at the defunct mobile home park:
When the mobile home park is soon turned into apartments, the greenway will continue the short distance to Brown's Ferry Park and connect with all those trails.

We ran from our house and through Cook Park, and it was exactly 3.5 miles to the fence above - perfect for a mid-distance run. And it was mostly off road on trails!

On the return trip, we stopped to read all the placards and learn all kinds of great history of the area. I love history and geology! Fascinating stuff :)

The east side of the freeway has these great, wide boardwalks to keep us on trail and up off the wetlands:
And the whole thing is right along the river:
I think the planners did a great job on this trail - very impressive! I can't wait to incorporate it into more workouts :)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Cascade Half Marathon (1/17/16)

While training for the Holiday Half, I always had Cascade in the back of my mind for a back-up race. I ran it last year and did awesome, surprising myself and PRing by several minutes on the flat course.

Unfortunately, racing back-to-back half marathons isn't necessarily a great idea (Dec. 13 and then Jan. 17). First you have to recover from the first one. Then you have to taper for the second one. And in between was Christmas and all it's excitement and activities. Not the best recipe for success.

I did really well working out over Christmas break, but I did a lot of cross training and not tons of running miles. Honestly, I was a bit burned out from months of training and then the disappointment of missing my goal by so far. 

I waited until the last minute to sign up (Thursday, I think) because I was scared of what might happen. I knew I wasn't 100% prepared and was a little gun shy after December's failure. I was also watching the weather forecast and it looked terrible.

I finally decided to pull the trigger and stop being scared. I would give it my best and run for fun - no pressure.

Brad went with me Friday night for a short, easy shakeout run in the dark:
We were very visible with lights and reflectors:
We woke early Sunday to very heavy rain. It was supposed to pour all day with moderate wind. But I couldn't complain... I knew that when I signed up. Last year was wet and windy, too. In fact, I blame that southerly headwind for making me miss the 2-hour mark in 2015!

The sun rose as we drove south to Turner - and by that I mean the clouds got turned from black to dark gray. We parked behind the school, and I noticed that the wind wasn't so bad. Then we walked to the south side of the building... THERE'S the wind!

Waiting inside the dry school with heat and real bathrooms!
This was my motto for the day!

It was raining so hard that almost everyone stayed inside or huddled under the eves until right before the start. (and this was the south - windy - side of the building!) OK... let's do it!
Go time!
The course is a very flat out and back in wide-open fields. Last year, the southerly wind provided an intense headwind in the last portion of the race and a crosswind for much of the rest. This year, the wind was coming from the south/southeast. So that whole middle section was into the wind.

In retrospect, I should have slowed a bit more to conserve energy. Instead, I ran too hard and ended up losing my steam. By the time it turned into a tailwind on the return, I was too pooped to take advantage.

After seeing me off at the start, Brad found a parking spot near mile 5 and waited with the camera:
As I passed, I told him that 3ish miles of constant headwind was really taking it out of me. He said I still looked strong.

Two days before, our 20-month-old cat got very sick and stopped eating. We'd spent lots of time, energy and money trying to figure out what was wrong. It was incredibly stressful and definitely affected my race day. 
The vet was to call back Sunday morning between 9-11 (the exact time I'd be running!) with test results. Of course, she called right when I was passing Brad the second time. I saw him on the phone in the car and knew he was talking with the vet. Talk about a stressful moment.

I still managed a smile and wave as he snapped some photos out the window:
When I knew that my 2-hour goal was no longer possible, I changed my goal. I really wanted to just have fun and enjoy being so hardcore that I was racing in a crazy storm ;) 

Also, last year's event was the first time I ever ran the entire 13.1 miles - without stopping for walk breaks or at aid stations. So I decided to make this the second time I ever raced a whole half marathon without stopping. It's a true mental challenge to keep going when your mind and body are telling you to stop!

I gave it my all on the home stretch and did manage to pass a couple people.
My official time was 2:07:49. I came in 172/265 - 12/25 in my division and 67/142 in women.

Now days, I usually place in the top third. Placing in the middle was really an indication of how fast this field was - these were hardcore runners, especially to come out in weather like that!
The rain and wind never let up. This was not a shower situation - this was wall-to-wall rain. Can you see how soaked I am??? I felt like I was wearing a swimsuit instead of shorts and shirt!
I was proud of this race. I didn't let a bad day get me down - I still enjoyed racing, even though it was tough. That's a good day in my book :)

Because I was soaked to the bone, I changed clothes in the car before heading to the cafeteria for hot soup, bread and cookies!
Hot, salty soup is amazing after running in the rain :)
Per our new tradition, I showered, put on my race shirt and then refueled with PizzaSmith:
Half marathon No. 22 in the books! :)