Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Race Recap: Grapes of Half

Sunday I hopped back on the half marathon wagon after what felt like quite a hiatus. And on top of that, I picked a hilly {but fun} one to do!

Grapes of Half was held in wine country just outside of Eugene and was originally planned for this weekend after the Eugene Marathon opted to move to July for a number of reasons. They also had a 5K and marathon distance April is a good time to race in Oregon {even if you do get wet} and there just don't seem to be a ton of races out there during the spring months.

Saturday, I played it safe and skipped power yoga. Instead, I just did an easy 3 miles around my neighborhood before running errands and doing the usual weekend thing. You know, like eating your farmers market salad on your front porch with the pooch.

Jonah intently focused on a fly she wanted to capture

Ooh, and I made these tasty scones {to be blogged about}.

A good scone just might be my favorite type of pastry

Saturday evening, I picked out my outfit, laid out my fuel and foam rolled a bit. With a 7 a.m. start, I was up and eating breakfast by 5:20 a.m. Breakfast was peanut butter toast, a scone and green tea.

I had encouraged friends Danielle and Stef to run the half with me, so we drove out to the race together. Danielle and another friend decided to run the 5K, while Stef and I did the half marathon.

Probably the prettiest race bib I've seen 

The race started at Noble Estate Winery shortly after the morning rain cleared up and the sun started shining. The race was delayed about 30-45 minutes due to issues with the shuttles, but no one seemed to be too upset. After all, we were all about to run and drink wine!

Finally, a few hundred of us were off!

My goal for this race was to run strong, but not kill myself trying to hold an aggressive pace. I was planning for a 2 hour finish time, but would be happy with anything faster than that.

The Course
The first mile or so included a pretty steady decent until flattening out and rolling a bit for the next few miles.

I was bummed I left my phone behind because the weather ended up being perfect and the course was so beautiful. Just think: green pastures, cows staring at you and open roads on a quiet Sunday morning. In case you're thinking about booking a trip to visit Oregon wine country, you should probably just do it already. 

The first half of the race included some gentle rollers, but it wasn't until mile 6.5 where we really got kicked in the butt. Miles 6.5-8.25 were all up, up and UP. My glutes were talking to me, reminding me how much more strengthening they need and I just answered back by chuggin' along.

I'm always amazed that some people try to crank it up on the hills because it's just so taxing. I much prefer easing up the hill and saving some of that energy for later!

I was feeling pretty good having passed a few women who looked strong and were around my fitness level, so I just tried to maintain my pace and not give up in those last few miles. By mile 10, I could definitely feel fatigue kicking in, but luckily there were a few guys running ahead of me, so I used them as rabbits to chase, which kept me motivated.

So, the last part of this race was a bit torturous. First, you turn up and climb the 1/2 mile or so steep driveway to Sweet Cheeks Winery, circle the parking lot and fly back down, then you run up the hill to finish at Silvan Ridge Winery.

I just thought about the poor marathoners having to run up that hill at mile 25.5... no thank you!

Helen, me, Danielle, Stef 

I was happy to run across the finish line and see I had finished in under 1:50. With a few brutal hills and some wind,  I'd definitely call that a success.

Speedster Stef won the race for the women and finished with a time of 1:29!

After enjoying a little food and our complimentary glass of wine at Silvan Ridge, we made our way across the road to Sweet Cheeks for another complimentary glass of wine and Sassy Cupcakes!

After a bit more sipping and girl talk, we called it a day and headed home. A nap was in order for this gal. 
For this race, I decided to leave my handheld water bottle in the car and just use the aid stations for fluid. I did however bring a mocha Hammer Gel with me. I alternated taking Gatorade or water at the aid stations and sucked on the gel from miles 8-10 or so.

Bottom line: this was a challenging course, but the views, friends and the complimentary wine made it all together a great race.

Finish time: 1:49:21
Pace: 8:21
Overall: 19th
Overall female: 7/145

I have to say, I'm glad I signed up for both of my April races back in January as it definitely gave me something to keep pushing toward. Now I have an open calendar (as far as races go) other than the 50K I got into for early September, so it feels like I need to pick something, even if it's just a 10K to work toward. We'll see...

With the warmer months, it's also fun to keep the workout schedule flexible so I can go on more bike rides and just enjoy the weather in whatever makes most sense that day.

Speaking of warmer temperatures... today is supposed to get to 80 degrees here!

Do you prefer a flat and fast course or something with a little hill action? Anything exciting happening this week for you?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fashion Friday with a Side of Smoothies

Good morning (or afternoon) and happy Friday! While it may be raining cats and dogs here, I see some serious sun in the forecast for next week, so all is good.

Because I've been keeping track of my looks a bit better lately, I thought I'd share a fairly Fashion Friday heavy post. And by Friday, I think we're all ready for a little lighter reading anyway.

To kick off your morning reading, I've been jumping on Jen's April Smoothie Challenge and enjoying more green smoothies lately than usual. She's making one every day, but I've been making them about three times per week for breakfast with a piece of PB toast on the side.

Fun fact: I don't drink a cup of coffee in the morning before work, but I almost always have a sip {or five} from the manfriend's cup. I am usually a tea drinker, unless it's a Saturday or Sunday and then I like an Americano or cappucino. Are you a morning coffee/tea drinker? 

Oddly enough, this week is another semi-'taper' week. It feels weird to call it that, but this time, I'm going to cut out the yoga on Saturday so I'm a little more willing to run hills early Sunday morning. 

Workouts this week have been: Two easy 4 mile runs, 6 miles with tempo and 400m repeats, yoga and a little strength training. I'm going to keep things easy the next few days and remember how to do the whole early morning racing thing (this race starts at 7 am about 30 min out of town in wine country).

Now let's get to what I've been wearing...

Fashion Friday

As I was wearing this combo a few weeks ago, I realized how cute it would be with the jacket buttoned up. That got me thinking that I should consider bringing this jacket to Europe as it will be great for both a little added warmth and changing up an outfit.

Hello Kelly Green

Jacket and dress: LOFT, shoes: Audrey Brooke via DSW

Casual Sunny Friday

Cardigan: LOFT, shirt: Gap {new}, jeans: Goodwill/Old Navy, shoes: Old Navy

This slit neck top is one of my new favorite pieces as I'm adding a few needed staples to my woredrobe. It's a generously cut top, so it can be worn untucked with fitted pants/skirt/shorts, but I chose to tuck in the front. Love stripes and the summery feel of this top!

The Workhorse Dress

Shirt: Gap {old}, necklace: Stitchfix, dress: Old Navy, boots: Clarks

This is proof that even something old can still be a staple. I've had this basic shift dress from Old Navy (with pockets!) for at least 6 years and it still works well for when I want to wear a comfy dress. I had the idea of putting a button down under it this week and added the boots when it decided to crazy rain yesterday morning.

What is your wardrobe workhorse? Have you worn any unexpected combos recently? Favorite breakfast this week?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Success on all Fronts

This was one of those weekends where everything just seemed to be in balance, which is just what I needed after a stressful Friday. There was some play, some work, some rest and a few good workouts!

The work
The manfriend installed a new back door (whew, what a project) and bought and planted some new plants for the front yard. We've been slowly chipping away at completing a landscaping plan his friend drew up for us a few years ago, but man, plants can be expensive and this project is not usually high on my priority list.

Meanwhile, I soaked and washed our mini blinds from the dining room in our bathtub. If you've never done it, it's pretty disgusting, but so nice to have clean blinds afterward!

The play
Friday night we went to see Banff Film Fest - always amazing. Saturday, a trip to Target for mostly needed items (sheets, laundry detergent, moisturizer), but it always feels like a treat strolling the aisles for longer than necessary. And finally, Easter breakfast out with my main squeeze.

The rest
After Easter breakfast out and a few errands, we came home and I did a little studying on the back deck. When the manfriend got back from Home Depot with the new plants, I hung out (AKA napped on the front lawn) as he did the dirty work.

Last week was sort of a rest and refresh week for me in terms of workouts. I decided my body needed it and conveniently, I had a chem test to study for, so it all worked out.

Week in workouts: 

Monday - lunch walk with Sarah

Tuesday - p.m. park yoga - 45 min in the park doing my own flow and easy stretching in the sun

Wednesday - 15 min a.m. easy spin followed by 15 min of strength training

Thursday - 25 min a.m. yogaglo flow working on arm balances, ~ 3.5 miles of hill running in the rain. I  met the running group for the speed workout, but took it easy and didn't do the 6 x 100m hill sprints in the middle and stuck with easy hill loops instead.

The magical trees in Hendricks park near the workout hill

Friday - 10 min of strength. Long day, I wanted to workout, didn't happen.

Saturday - power yoga, 30 min spinning, 10 min strength training

Sunday - 10 Easter miles in the sun @ 8:43 pace because I'm running Grapes of Half 1/2 marathon next Sunday. Felt harder than I would have liked, but the sun was out so life was good.

We were babysitting our friends' corgi (behind me) this weekend 
and I dressed like an Easter egg, just because.

While this was a much lighter than usual workout week, I was amazed (as I am during any rest week) at how tired I was several days in a row. I find that when I give my body some extra rest it's almost like it's saying "Thank god. Finally. I have needed THAT for a while! I am now going to suck all your extra energy from you in order to recover."

Anyway, now that I've given my body a decent rest, I'm hoping for a week of strong workouts and runs and then easing back a few days before the half marathon! This race will be in Eugene's wine country, so the course will be have some rolling hills. I've only done one other half with this kind of profile, so we'll see...

What the most exciting thing you did this weekend? Anyone else notice similarities during your recovery weeks? 

And I almost forgot... Boston Marathon Monday is tomorrow! I'm looking forward to seeing all the posts on social media and hopefully following a bit of the race online. Hopefully, someday I'll be there in person to experience it all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Race Recap: Peterson Ridge 20 Miler

20 miles of trail is a long way to run on hilly, occasionally rocky terrain at 3,000 ft elevation. This is not necessarily a new revelation, but one that I was reminded of on Sunday morning. 

Oh sure, you've run 20 miles before. In fact, you've run THIS race before. You'll be fine on a few longer trail runs. You're totally going to beat your 2011 race time out of the water. Yeah...


Well, if you're guessing Sunday's race didn't go smashingly well, you'd be correct.

We got to Bend (just about 20 min SE of Sisters, OR) Saturday afternoon in time for me to pick up my bib and check out the running store and then let the manfriend gear up for a little road ride back to Sisters where we'd be staying.

See ya in 30 miles!

Saturday night we met my family for dinner at the nearby Three Creeks Brewing. I had a pear & walnut salad, a side of sweet potato fries and a beer as I had been eating carbs pretty much straight the last few days.

My parents decided to use their gift certificate for Five Pine Lodge that we gave them on our wedding weekend so they could come see the race and enjoy a weekend out of town. We opted to stay at a motel that allows dogs and is just a mile or so from the start of the race. While the bed was not comfy and Jonah Bell was up pacing the room every 20 minutes, it was convenient. 

Sunday morning we left for the race about 40 minutes 'til GO time. I had picked up my race bib in Bend, OR on Saturday, so I just needed to use the restroom and hang out a bit before the race. This time I dressed much better - shorts, tank and a long sleeve (which I promptly threw at my dad around mile 2). 

Finally, at 9 am, a few hundred of us (and about 75 dogs the race director said) lined up and we were off! The first two miles are dusty trail and then the next few are on a rocky road before veering off into another 12 or so miles of trail along the Peterson Ridge. 

On the one hand, I loved how beautiful it was. Geez, is anything in Central Oregon not beautiful? Frankly, it's a major factor in why we got married there. I just love it.

But on the other hand, I did not love having to always be on the lookout for the next rock that would trip me. This happened in 2011 and it happened again in 2014.

So pretty, right?

Last time I fell twice and nearly fell a number of other times, this time I fell just once. Perhaps you could consider that an improvement??

The course meanders up and over the Peterson Ridge a number of times, which requires some short inclines and rocky sections that required walking, but mostly it consists of gentle flat(ish) trail.

The highlights (and a few lowlights): 

Mile 7 I tripped so bad I fell and cut up my left leg decently. I tried to get off the trail so the folks behind me could continue on. Nothing like a bruised ego (leg) to force you to get up and get movin'.

The aid stations were just as good as I remember them. Trail races know how to do an aid station right. They had gummy bears, small PB&J's, goldfish, pretzels, peanuts, Oreos, boiled potatoes, orange slices, water and electrolyte. At the two aid stations where I grabbed stuff (I was carrying my own fuel/water), I had a handful of Goldfish and salted peanuts and a slice of orange. That combo tasted like gold, I tell ya. I didn't end up taking much fuel as I think I ate too much for breakfast and my stomach just didn't want much more. 

There was a 40 miler (which Sweaty Emily ran) that started at 8 am so there were already runners on the trail. About halfway through, we started to see some folks (likely some 20 and some 40 milers) coming back toward us in a section that was supposed to be one way only, so it was clear that some folks got a bit lost. It is easy to do in these kinds of races with multiple distances, even when there are arrows and flags.

It was clear from the start that I overdid it on Saturday. As many races as I've run, you'd think I would have learned. I did an easy 3 miler and yoga on Saturday. I probably should have done none of that and been much better off, but I hate missing out on things I love. My glutes were sore from the get go, which makes running hills for 20 miles a little bit harder. Ha. I will learn... someday.

My cheering squad! My family (the manfriend, mom, dad, youngest bro and his gf) all came to cheer me on. It was really nice to have a whole cheering squad out there, even if I must have looked like a total wreck. I think they saw me at about six points throughout the race. I definitely felt a little bad about not doing so hot in the race with such a fan base. 

It was beautiful. I wish I had risked my iphone and just brought it on the run with me. Every time we crested the ridge, I took an imaginary photo of the snow covered peaks in front of me. It was friggin' gorgeous out there. A good reminder that even in those moments when everything is hurting, you are LUCKY to be running this damn thing. Amen.

The finish lineThe course was a lollipop, so we were dumped back onto the road and short trail section for the last four miles. I will tell you that the road was rough for me. In my mind, I was saying "you're going to pass so many people because you run roads all the time." But in reality, I was like "I'm so tired and starting to hyperventilate. I need to walk." 

So yeah, I walked maybe 30 sec each a few times before the end of the race, something I HATE to do. But honestly, my breathing was outta control and it wasn't worth shaving off a minute of my already non PR.  

As I ran into the middle school track and finished the lap around the track, I was so relieved to be done. So tired and a little frustrated.

I took a few minutes to stretch and determine if I was going to throw up (I didn't) and then made my way to the aid station to get the grit cleaned out of my leg.

Did some park yoga on Monday to try and stretch away the soreness

How I feel about it
This wasn't by any means my worst or most disappointing race, but it was a good reminder that running any distance is a challenge. Those 20 miles were hard for me and I wanted to be blazing past people I felt I was stronger than. But I also wasn't out there to win any medals and I enjoyed a beautiful course and a perfect day to be running outdoors. 

Overall, it was a win, even if I was reminded that if you want to run fast on trails for long distances, welp, you better be training on them a lot more.

Finish time: 3:20:58 
~10 min slower than previous race

Anyway, I'm not the type to dwell on a less than spectacular race, so I'm moving on and learning from it. This week I'm focusing on recovery and some easy exercise over the next few days. I took a whole two days off from doing much of anything besides a little stretching. 

How is your week going? Favorite thing to do during a recovery week?

Because it's worth repeating...
Even in the moments when everything is hurting, we are lucky to be doing this thing we're doing, whatever IT is. As I write this one year post Boston Marathon bombings, these words never rang more true. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Race Week: Ready to Rumble

I forgot to mention how impressed I was with the fact that several of you plan out your work outfits the night before! This will be motivation for me to someday get my act together (or not - we'll see).

Well, it's race week around here and I'm trying to remind myself not to do anything stupid. It's amazing how easily you forget you're running a race and then next thing you know, you've got sore legs/abs/arms at the start line {been there, done that}.

From experience, I'm reminding myself to keep the miles easy and the weight lifting to a minimum the rest of the week. And 48 hrs prior to the race, I need to keep in mind that fiber is not as much my friend as it is every other day of the year, but carbs are fair game.

This week has been especially awesome on the weather front, so it's no surprise that my mood is following suit.  Monday I headed out after work for 7 miles on the bike path + a few minutes of walking because I just wanted to soak in the scenery and 70 something temps. My legs were going unusually fast for what felt like an easy run.

In an effort to not feel all tight and in pain Sunday morning, I went to Lindsey's yoga class Tuesday night and then did another 25 min of yoga this morning. I opted for Tiffany Cruikshank's 'Open your side body & IT bands' flow, which is awesome for runners with tight everything.

If you haven't tried YogaGlo before, they have a free 15 day trial and then it's $18/month for unlimited online yoga classes taught by amazing teachers. I highly recommend it.

Today's running plan is to do a few easy miles and skip the usual speed work. Friday, I'll likely take as a total rest day and then a short run Saturday morning. And with all of that, hopefully I'll feel ready to rumble on Sunday morning for 20 miles!

I'm also looking forward to this race because we'll be in Central Oregon {which I love} and my parents will be spending the weekend there as well as my youngest brother and his girlfriend. Woohoo!

On the fun front
I tried out a new place in town, Oregon Wine Lab for girls night on Tuesday eve. It's a cool new wine bar with some of the owner's wines that he makes in Southern Oregon as well as other local wines by the glass or flight. The owner was super cool and friendly and the space is really well done inside.

Because it was girls night {and because we were drinking wine}, it was necessary to also order TWO cheese plates. We clearly hated it all...

Well, here's to a fantastic Thursday! I hope you're seeing some sunshine in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wardrobe Staples

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, but lately I've become quite aware how lacking I am in some of the "staples" I feel my wardrobe could use. I think it's the product of years of shopping for too many casual clothes (and let's be honest, a lot of running gear) over investing in nicer stuff, which I need to wear more often.

Casual weekend:

Because who doesn't love jeans and a cozy cotton long sleeve?

Business casual work wear: 

I love these flats. Wish I could buy them in more colors - Audrey Brooke via DSW

You know that feeling, you go shopping one weekend and buy maybe two new pieces of clothing and then you're shocked come Monday when you don't have a bazillion new outfits to wear! I know it happens to me.

In the last few years, I've been telling myself "now when you go shopping, you really need to buy an entire outfit or make sure you have other things to wear with it." Too often, I'll buy a random cardigan over here and then another time a shirt over there without having multiple outfits in mind.

Lately, I've realized I'm in need of a few staples. As spring sales are popping up left and right, I'm going to keep these staples in mind just in case I come across pieces that catch my eye. Sometimes, when you realize you need to make the investment in something, it's just time to do it and quit whining about it.

A few of the things I'm on the lookout for:

  • Blouses/nice tops to go with cardigans, jackets, or on their own (for work or dates, girls night, parties, etc.)
  • Cardigans in multiple colors (currently own a heathered brown, two grey, an aqua and two black cardigans)
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Black flats
  • Jackets - navy blue blazer to be dressed up or down and perhaps a khaki trench coat

Casual Friday

Jacket: Gap scored on sale last year, jeans: Old Navy via Goodwill a few years ago for $5!

And of course, because I'm on a budget I want to find nice things that will last, but are hopefully on sale.

I'm typically on the hunt at LOFT, Gap, Banana Republic and JCrew/JCrew Factory because their styles work with my tastes and they tend to have sales quite often. 

Where do you shop (even if it just means putting the item in your cart and never purchasing)? What are the staples you're looking for to beef up your wardrobe?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Post Work Bike Date

I hope your week's going well! I'm back in school mode as of Monday, but with one class this term and life in general already feels way more manageable. 

Weekend Running Recap
Last Sunday I gathered a group of us to run the McKenzie River Trail. 

Little did I know that the first 10 miles of our run would involve plenty of snow! We ran up along Sahalie Falls and then around Clear Lake where there were long sections of 4-6" thick snow and we even ran as it snowed lightly for a bit. 

After making our way around the lake and back down along the water falls, we fueled up at the cars before heading out for another 7 miles. While it wasn't fast by any means, I definitely feel more prepared to tackle the 20 miles of trail on April 13. 

And because I couldn't resist, I threw my name in the lottery yesterday to run the McKenzie River Trail 50K again. We'll see if I snag a spot...

A Morning Short Cut
I wanted to share a little short cut that's been making my week a little bit easier. The night before, I've been prepping a small salad as part of my lunch (minus the dressing), yogurt (I usually mix berries/bananas and cinnamon into plain yogurt) and a PB&J or something else so that my mornings are a little less hectic.

Because I had picked up ingredients for the greek quiche last week, we still had some of those items on hand. I've really been loving this combo of kalamata olives + tomatoes + feta + artichoke hearts on my salad.

My dream goal is to have an outfit picked out or thought of the night before because picking out a matching, semi-cute outfit seems like a chore every morning. But as I said, it's more a dream than anything...

Bike Date
We have been back to rainy weather in Eugene for the last few weeks, but today was especially nice with 60 degree temps this afternoon. The manfriend and I planned for a post work "bike date" to get some fresh air and cruise the bike paths together.

Not a bad way to end the work + school day.

What I love about bike dates is that they can be free (this one was) and that we aren't distracted, scrolling on our various devices. We seem to notice things we haven't seen before and talk about all kinds of random things. Plus, there's something about just being on a bike that makes me feel like a kid and forget my worries.

Need some stress relief? Hop on a bike, STAT!

I'm looking forward to the warmer weather and having more opportunities for creative bike dates. The possibilities are endless... Bike to beers, bike around the river path, bike to picnic, bike to dinner, bike to ice cream. You get the drill.

Do you use any tricks to streamline your morning routine? Creative bike date ideas?