Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Race Report: Thirsty 13 Half Marathon

As you probably know, or have gathered, I ran the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon last weekend. It's a point-to-point race that starts to the west of Durango and comes back along county roads to end at Ska Brewing. The race is associated with the San Juan Brew Fest, hence the name. [I believe an alternate name, which was voted down on Facebook, was the "Half-Brew" Half Marathon.] This was only the third year the race has been done but it was well organized. I did the inaugural run in 2014 and there was some confusion regarding the course in the last couple miles which I'm glad was cleared up this time. At 500 runners it is a small race but larger than most of the local ones I've done lately.

Mile 1 - 9:08, Trying to start out nice and easy and relaxed.

Mile 2 - 9:29, Up a small hill, Still trying to take it easy.

Mile 3 - 8:42, Mostly flat, I feel good!

Mile 4 - 7:55, I cannot begin to remember the last time I ran a mile that started with a 7! All downhill, Feeling very good and "floaty."

Mile 5 - 8:30, Mostly flat, I walk through the aid station and have a Clif Shot. I didn't run with my camera this time but this is the official photo taken around Mile 5. [Free race photos is one of my favorite perks!]

Mile 6 - 8:58, Up a medium hill, Feeling grateful that my everyday loop around the neighborhood has some pretty big hills so this doesn't feel completely awful.

Mile 7 - 9:02, I keep marveling about how good I feel midway through a half marathon!

Mile 8 - 9:58, I walk through another aid station and have another Clif Shot, which doesn't settle very well. Some pretty views of Lake Nighthorse but I start to think I won't make <2 hrs after all.

Mile 9 - 9:49, Up a long gradual hill but my stomach is feeling better so I keep plugging away.

Mile 10 - 8:25, We start to go downhill again.

Mile 11 - 7:59, This mile was all downhill. I sure didn't think I'd see another starts-with-7-mile! I just let gravity do the work.

Mile 12 - 9:28, We've made it back to Durango but in the "industrial" part of town... Not very picturesque and there's plenty of traffic.

Mile 13 - 10:12, This mile was miserable - It was pretty hot by then and the course went up and down and up the same darn hill on the way to the finish.
Official time - 1:58:02

Instead of a medal I got an enormous glass beer stein, which I have no idea what I'll do with it ever! It must be 32 ounces. I definitely don't drink that much beer at once! Although it might be the right size for a milkshake.

The only other photo I have is from the finish. My dad ran too so my mom and Swede came to meet us but Swede was a little shy of all the people as you can see.

I was really excited to finish under 2 hours. I did not think that would happen but all the downhill helped, plus I think the strength and stretching I've been doing the past eight weeks through 21 Day Fix has had a big impact on my overall running strength. Too bad it took me 15 years of running to figure this out but better late than never!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 28, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? The highlight for me is that I ran the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon in 1:58:02! It was a great race and much faster than I anticipated. Other highlights of the weekend: An early dinner date with Jonathan on Saturday afternoon at the Irish Embassy, and making pancakes with Swede on Sunday morning.

I have been mostly successful lately at not using my phone very much, but that also means I don't take many photos. What I've been doing instead is taking out my real camera every couple weeks to capture some new photos of the kids.

Here are a couple from this weekend:

Moving on to the week ahead!

I decided to try following a meal plan from Real Simple this month. This is Week 1.
Mon - Chicken with Blistered Corn & Tomato Salad
Tue - Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (The actual plan was for Tomato and Shrimp Bisque but I've always found homemade tomato soup to be more trouble than it's worth).
Wed - Tortellini with Squash, Egg, & Breadcrumbs
Thu - Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Spinach (I'm going to use up the rest of spinach from the salad on Monday instead of the chard per the actual recipe).
Fri - Hanger Steak with Buttery Mashed Carrots

I have really enjoyed alternating running with 21 Day Fix workouts for the past two months but I decided it's time for something new so I bought 22 Minute Hard Corps.
Mon - Run 4 miles
Tue - 22MHC Resistance 1
Wed - Run 4 miles
Thu - 22MCH Resistance 1
Fri - Rest
Sat - Run 8 miles
Sun - Yoga

 - Tuesday is Swede's first day in her new classroom at preschool, and Abel is also starting in the "Chickadee" classroom. I know that Swede will do great. She is really excited! But I'm a little nervous about Abel being with someone other than me/Jonathan/my mom for the whole day.
 - I don't have any other major events going on so it's just the usual life with the kiddos, getting busier at work, reading, running, blogging, etc.

Do you have anything fun coming up this week? Thoughts re: It's September?!?!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Favorites - August 2016

Hey Friends! I would like to commemorate that this post marks one whole year of "Favorites." Let's take a look back at my favorite things from August 2015: Swede, books, cake, coffee, and I still love that necklace (and am wearing the same earrings from that photo today)... Not much has changed!

Here's what I'm loving this month:

1) I talked about this cucumber soda on Tuesday, but I think it deserves a double mention. After the kids are in bed, post-run, on the patio with a book, this soda (plus a splash of vodka) is the perfect easy and refreshing summer cocktail.

2) So I bought these Asian Wrap Cropped Pajamas from Garnet Hill last month. They are really comfortable, but what I think I like most about them is that having matching pajamas makes me feel like a grown-up. Even if Jonathan did tell me he thinks I look like a dental hygienist.

3) I really like this Downton Abbey English Rose Tea from Republic of Tea that Jonathan's mom gave me for my birthday. I don't usually buy in on kitchy marketing tie-ins to my favorite books/movies/TV shows, but I do like this one. Just realized that two of my favorite things this month are beverages, Hmm... I will try to branch out in September!

4) For years my grandma has asked what I want of hers and I've always said, "The pineapple!" And voila.. It is mine! [My grandma is still with us but a recent move was a good time for her to pass along some things.] You can't really tell from the photo but it's a cloth applique that she made. I'm planning to hang it in the entry way... Aren't pineapples a symbol of welcome?

5) Look, I'm finally showing you a photo of my new hairdo! It's been over a week and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I didn't realize that my hair has gotten so curly since being pregnant. [Apparently this is pretty common.] See how it flips out at the sides there? It's all crazy like that in the back. It did not look like this when I had a pixie cut before the kids were born. Anyway... What I do love about my short hair is that is so quick and easy that I feel like I actually have enough time in the morning to get a little more put together before the day officially starts.

That's all. What is your current favorite beverage? [Since I'm apparently that's what I'm all about this month.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

It's been a while since I've done a survey so when I saw this one on Heather's blog I thought I'd give it a try!

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes! I'd always choose blue cheese over ranch dressing and I also eat actual blue cheese.

2. Favorite color? Pink.

3. Do you get nervous before a doctor's appointment? Not really. I do get nervous before dentist appointments though.

4. What do you think of hot dogs? Yum.

5. Favorite Movie? It Happened One Night - 1934 Best Picture starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

6. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? A vanilla latte... Every day.

7. Do you do push-ups? No, The only thing I hate more than push-ups is burpees.

8. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring, but I also love the new "mommy bracelet" I got for my birthday.

9. Favorite hobby? It's a tie between reading and running.

10. Do you have ADD? No.

11. What's the one thing you dislike about yourself? I seriously think my nose is getting bigger as I get older.

12. What's your middle name? Elizabeth.

13. Name three thoughts at this moment: 1) Wow, I'm only on question #13! 2) What should I eat for lunch? 3) Oh, I can't forget to look into the pumpkin patch train for October.

14. Name three drinks you regularly drink: The aforementioned vanilla latte, water, and cucumber soda... I know that sounds strange but it's so refreshing!

15. Current worry? All things related to I-think-we're-buying-a-new-house!

16. Current annoyance? My neighbor has a construction project that has forced me to keep my windows closed most of the summer due to noise and dust.

17. Favorite place to be? Home Sweet Home!

18. How do you ring in the New Year? We started a new tradition last year of appetizers and board games. And I'm always in bed well before midnight.

19. Where would you like to go? See HERE and HERE for a list of my dream vacations!

20. Do you own slippers? Obviously. I like to be cozy.

21. What color shirt are you wearing right now? I'm wearing my green Kennebec Mountain Run shirt.

22. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No, I prefer flannel sheets year round. [See above re: slippers and being cozy.]

23. Can you whistle? Sadly... No.

24. Would you be a pirate? In theory... Yeah! In reality... No way!

25. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower.

26. Favorite girl's name? I love the name Ingrid because that's Swede's real name, but it was Jonathan's pick and a hard sell at first. My first choice was Annabel, which actually sounds a lot like... See next question.

27. Favorite boy's name? Abel

28. What's in your pocket right now? Nada.

29. Last thing that made you laugh? The kids being silly and cute.

30. Best toy as a child? I had one of those rocking horses on springs that I loved. [Do they even sell those anymore? It seems like the springs would be considered a hazard nowadays.] I wanted to be a Pony Express rider for a while there. His name was Gallant.

31. Worst injury you've ever had? I broke my arm just before kindergarten.

32. Where would you love to live? Within walking distance to all my best friends. Or at least in the same town. I am within walking distance to my parents which is really great.

33. How many TVs do you have? One.

34. Who is your loudest friend? Hmm... We are a pretty quiet bunch. Does Swede count? She hasn't learned "inside voice" yet.

35. How many dogs do you have? The one and only Gumball! By the way, Gumball's birthday is on Friday! She'll be five, which, if you go by the x7 rule, means we both turned 35 this month.

36. What book are you reading at the moment? The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. [It's not actually about goats or sheep.]

37. Favorite candy? I have a weakness for jelly beans.

38. Favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate Fudge Brownie or Vanilla Caramel Fudge.

39. Favorite sports team? Either the Colorado Avalanche or the San Diego Padres.

40. Favorite month? I've always liked August, because summer and my birthday and often a family trip to the beach, but I also like October as the quintessence of autumn.

That's all! Did you learn anything new about me?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 21, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? I was in Denver for work on Thursday and Friday then was able to attend a first birthday party for Elliott before coming home on Saturday.

I love this family!

Other highlights from the weekend: Friday night in Denver at Laura's house with wine and mozzarella sticks. A good eight mile run. An enthusiastic greeting from Swede when I returned home. Church. Ice cream. Watching Galen Rupp win bronze in the Olympic marathon. 

And... Getting organized for the week ahead! Here's the plan:

Mon - Italian Sausage & White Bean Cassoulet - Three Many Cooks
Tue - Cesar Salad
Thu - Southwest Scrambled Eggs - Budget Bytes
Fri - Spaghetti & Meatballs <-- Pre-Race!!!

Mon - Run 3 miles
Tue - Lower Fix
Wed - Run 3 miles
Thu - Upper Fix
Fri - Rest
Sunday - Yoga

   - I have another dentist appointment on Tuesday... Remember the never-ending Saga of the Root Canal? It's still going on.
   - On Friday I'm taking Abel for his nine-month checkup, and I need to pick up my race packet for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon.

One more photo for the road... This is Swede practicing (3 months early) for her birthday:

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dream Vacations [Abroad]

Last  month I shared the my dream vacations in the U.S., so I thought I should also share my dream vacations abroad. Unlike the U.S. vacations which are all fairly likely and/or possible in the next 5-10 years, these vacations are serious dream vacations that may or may not ever happen, but it's still fun to dream.

1) Hike the Tour de Mont Blanc. There is a 100 mile trail that circumnavigates Mont Blanc on the French/Swiss/Italian border. It takes about a week and you can arrange to have your luggage transported each day between mountain huts and quaint little towns along the way. (Here is an example of a self-guided tour itinerary). The scenery looks spectacular!

2) Do a cruise on the Baltic Sea. I'm not sure about the exact itinerary... Maybe something like this Viking Homelands tour: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Poland, and Russia. I haven't ever done a cruise or guided tour before but I like the idea of a getting to see so many places in one trip and I think it would be nice have a guide for some of these locations.

3) What sounds the greatest currently is an all-inclusive Caribbean beach resort vacation. I don't want to think about driving my car or spending (additional) money or trying to plan the itinerary. I just want to read on the beach, swim in the water, do a little snorkeling and paddle-boarding and yoga, and eat all the delicious food. The end. Where do I sign up?

4) Take a train across Canada. Check out this two-week itinerary from Vancouver to Halifax with stops in Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. Although maybe I should just do the Toronto to Halifax portion... Four days on a train across the prairie might get a little dull. Or maybe I'll save this one for my dotage.

5) Go trail running in Patagonia. Years ago I read an article in Trail Runner Magazine about this Patagonia Running Adventure by Andes Adventures and it's been on my Bucket List ever since.

Also on the list... A road trip through Bavaria, a beer & cheese tour in Belgium, a bike trip around Tuscany, and a yoga retreat in Bali. Oh, and why not add an African safari to the list!

What are your biggest dream vacations???

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 13, 2016]

Greetings! I have a busy week ahead, but first, some quick notes from an uneventful but nice weekend... We didn't really do anything except mooch around with the kids, but we had a (surprisingly, after my complaints on Thursday) nice time.

We baked coffeecake and brownies. We went on a nature walk. We ate pizza. We went to the library for a dozen new books, and read them all a dozen times. The kids napped simultaneously for over an hour on both Saturday and Sunday, and I enjoyed the quiet with a cup of tea (I'm enjoying the Downton Abbey English Rose, which was a gift, I promise) and a book (I'm reading Keep Me Posted for Brie's bookclub on Tuesday). There were a couple unpleasant tantrumy moments but otherwise it was low-key in the best way.

Some photos:

Here's what's on the agenda this coming week:

Mon - Pimiento Cheese Chicken Salad Sandwiches from How Sweet Eats
Tue - Cesar Salad (This is on the menu weekly in the summer, I'm addicted).
Wed - Spaghetti & Meatballs
Thu & Fri - I'll be in Denver for work

Mon - Run 4 miles
Tue - Upper Fix
Wed - Lower Fix
Thu - Run 4 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Run 8-10 miles
Sun - Yoga

Other Stuff:
   - On Monday I have a dentist appointment in the morning and a haircut appointment in the afternoon. I'm still planning to go ahead with the pixie!
   - I'm flying up to Denver on Thursday morning for two busy days in the office. I have scheduled nearly back-to-back meetings!
   - I'm staying in Denver on Saturday to attend Tyffani's baby Elliott's first birthday party!

That's all! Do you have anything fun planned this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Coffee Date #5

Hey Friends! I think it's time for another coffee date.

First: This will come as a surprise to exactly no one but I am still finding life with two kids to be pretty challenging.

This little man is SO busy!

The most difficult times are when I'm on my own with both kids. The 30 minutes every morning from 7:30-8:00 once Jonathan has started work but before I take the kids to preschool and/or my mom's house for the day can be a little frantic. There is the struggle to get everyone dressed and fed and organized. Then we start to run this little scenario on repeat:

   Step 1: Swede starts to play with Toy #1.
   Step 2: Abel crawls over and tries to grab Toy #1.
   Step 3: Swede, shrieking: "Nooooo, He can't have it! He has to play with he's [sic] toy!" Hands Toy #2 to Abel.
   Step 4: The kids play with their respective toys for approximately ten seconds.
   Step 5: Return to Step 2.

So... Yeah. I realize this isn't groundbreaking news. Every stage of life comes with its particular challenges and this is where I'm at right now. I keep thinking, "How can I make the morning go better?" but I'm not sure if there's anything I can do except wait until Abel is old enough to understand the "taking turns" concept.

In other child-related news, I am really excited that Swede has finally consented to me doing anything with her hair! I love the pigtails.

Next: Lately I have been feeling really sad about the world. There is so much anger and hate and destruction and cruelty. Every day I carry on with my usual (& extremely privileged) life while millions of people and animals and the Earth in general is suffering and dying. I'll get a glimpse of a tragic news story and I can't even handle it and so I try not to think about it at all. Even things like seeing the daily roadkill on the way into town every day makes me so sad. And anxious about the future of the world that I've leaving to my kids. I don't feel like I can do anything about anything and so I don't do anything, except some token donations to various charities, but I don't know what I can do to change anything except by trying to be a nice person, but that (obviously) isn't enough.

Moving on to a lighter subject... I feel a little awkward doing so but I have more to say! Isn't this how a real coffee date is though? One minute you're having a serious discussion, and the next minute you've segued into the hilarious thing someone said at work the other day. So... I have a haircut appointment on Monday and I think I'm going to get a pixie cut. I had one in 2012-2013. It's just so easy. And cute - I hope! My pixie cut inspirations:

What else? Recently I've been infatuated with various gorgeous bullet journal feeds on Instagram, and thinking about abandoning my Erin Condren Life Planner for a Leuchtturm and an array of colorful pens, but honestly I don't have the time or the creativity to draw up a whole new spread every day/week/month. The one thing that is lacking from the Life Planner in my opinion is more blank pages at the end. So to remedy that I ordered a new blank notebook for ALL THE LISTS. I chose a flamingo design for the cover, which is my current summer obsession. I need more flamingos in my life. Maybe it's just that I love how Swede calls them "mingos."

Before I go... To catch up from our last coffee date in June, when I was talking about getting serious about eating better and working out more: I've mentioned it here a few times but I did buy 21 Day Fix. I'm not following the program religiously but I've added the strength and yoga workouts into my weekly schedule along with running and I feel so much stronger and healthier overall. I've never been able to maintain any at-home workout routine in the past, or really to do anything consistently other than running, but this seems (6 weeks in) to be working for me really well.

That's all! What's new with you?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Reading Roundup - July 2016

Happy Book Day! Before I get started, I'd like to note that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my blog! One year ago I said to myself that I'd see... a) if I enjoyed blogging, since the last thing I need is a hobby that feels like a chore, b) if I could manage a consistent schedule, and c) if anyone wants to read my random ramblings. The third item is still up for debate, but the other two are definitely yes, so here I am! And now... Let's chat about the books I read in July.

1) First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. 3.5/5 stars. This book goes back and forth between two very different sisters, Meredith and Josie, struggling with their life choices fifteen years after a family tragedy. Meredith is unhappy despite an outwardly perfect career and family. Josie is desperate to have a baby but hasn't found "the one" and starts pursing non-traditional paths to motherhood. I enjoyed the book but think it could have been done better, and I'd rather just follow one character rather than bouncing back and forth between the two narrators. One thing I did like was the glimpse back into Ellen's life from Love the One You're With, which I happened to reread on a whim back in May.

2) The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. 3.5/5 stars. This book, as the title might indicate, is a Bronte spinoff, although it mostly features the lessor known Anne Bronte novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, rather than Charlotte's Jane Eyre. It follows the last living relative of the Bronte sisters, Samantha Whipple, on the hunt for a mysterious and long-lost family legacy with the help of her handsome and equally mysterious Oxford tutor. I enjoyed Samantha's quirky voice and references to the various Bronte novels, but the plot flagged a little at the end.

3) The Children by Ann Leary. 4/5 stars. This is one of those books where everything disintegrates slowly as you go along and was increasingly painful and sad to witness. The narrator is Charlotte Maynard, who lives with her mother Joan and often-visiting sister Sally in a sprawling Connecticut lake house which is now owned by her step-brothers Spin and Perry since the unexpected death of their father. When Spin comes to visit with his fiance Laurel... Cue the aforementioned disintegration of the seemingly well-adjusted family.

4) Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry. 3/5 stars. I think being a working mom (or a stay-at-home-mom, or any part-time variation of the two) is really difficult. I can't even imagine working in high-stress, male-dominated Wall Street, as Belle, the main character of this book, does in the years leading up to the recession. This is an interesting, and also depressing, glimpse into Wall Street culture and specifically at the greed and irresponsibility that caused the global economy to collapse. There are also struggles at home with her husband, and to a lessor extent, her kids, who are the least present aspect of the book, as well as a pretty unbelievable side plot involving an ex-boyfriend.

5) The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson. 2.5/5 stars. I could barely finish this book. It wasn't bad. It was just very slow paced and none of the characters pulled me in. Most of the book is the diary of Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor struck with a fatal disease which has blinded her, who becomes friends with rising literary star Anton Chekhov at her home in the Ukrainian countryside in the summer of 1888. There are also two minor present day storylines - Katya, who is hoping the diary will rescue her struggling publishing house, and Ana, who she has hired to translate the diary into English.

6) The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay. 4/5 stars. This is the story of the four Turner sisters, aged 13-22, who set out on the road as a vaudeville act in 1919 after their father injures his hand and can no longer work. Narrated alternately by the shy and intellectual Winnie and the vivacious Gert, this was a really interesting look at a vanished era. I had no idea how popular vaudeville was in the years leading up to the introduction of movies and radio.

That's all! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my review? What have you been reading lately? As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

Life According to Steph

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Week Ahead [August 7, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? I'm thinking about starting a weekly post to get organized for the week ahead. I know it's not very exciting stuff but this is a good venue for me to stay accountable to goals and plans. Here's what on the agenda this coming week:

Mon- Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta (Budget Bytes)
Tue- Tuna Melts
Wed- Cesar Salad
Thu- Southwest Scrambled Eggs (Budget Bytes)
Fri- Take-out (Thai?)

I've been alternating running and 21 Day Fix strength workouts for the past month and am really enjoying the balance!
Mon- Dirty 30
Tue- Run 4 miles
Wed- Lower Fix
Thu- Run 4 miles
Fri- Upper Fix
Sat- Run 8 miles
Sun- Yoga

Other Stuff:
 - On Wednesday evening there is an open house at Swede's preschool. She's been going two days a week for the past year and will be moving up to the 3-year-old classroom in September so I want to visit the new classroom and meet the new teachers.
 - I also need to book a hotel and rental car for my work trip to Denver next week.

Finally... A few notes on the weekend:

1) I had a great 8 mile run on Saturday morning. The Kennebec Mountain Run was miserable but there's no denying a big effort like that makes you stronger overall.

2) Afternoon date with Jonathan at Ska Brewing Co... This Greek pizza was so good!

3) We had a successful family outing to Cold Stone for ice cream this afternoon, although Abel was a little disappointed he didn't get to partake.

That's all! Do you have anything fun on the agenda this week?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Race Report: Kennebec Mountain Run

Dear Friends, Let me tell you about the Kennebec Mountain Run... This race was a doozy! I'll be the first to admit that I was not adequately prepared, but I think it would have been pretty tough even if I had done more trail running this summer.

I have done my share of trail running over the years, especially in 2010-2012 when I trained for and ran four trail half marathons and a six-day, 120-mile trail race. I think this race was as difficult as any single day of running back then. The altitude (9000-12000 feet) and elevation gain (+3000 feet in 7 miles) are challenging enough, but for me the real difficulty was the trail condition.

This race is primarily on very loose rock jeep roads, which is my least favorite running surface of all time. The above photo is actually one of the nicer stretches of trail. All the way up the hill I was thinking, "I can't wait to get to the single track!" But when we finally reached the mile-ish of single track up and down the very top of the mountain it was a narrow path of scree cut into an otherwise very steep hill. And I now revise my earlier statement to be that scree is my least favorite running surface of all time.

There are so many gorgeous trails in this vicinity that I think would have been more pleasant to race on that I'm surprised anyone wants to do this race year after year. I guess people don't do it because it's pleasant. The point is that it's a doozy. I'm just not in the right frame of mind for serious adventure racing right now.

My official finish time is 3:53:34. That is 15:34 minutes per mile pace, which isn't so bad for a trail race. I usually estimate 15 minutes per mile for trail running to account for elevation and technical terrain. The mile of single track scree took almost 30 minutes to navigate!

The Bright Side:

1) I managed to keep a fairly decent 11 minute per mile pace for the last 5-6 miles once we were back on the jeep road down the hill despite being completely exhausted.

2) The scenery and wildflowers were quite lovely.

3) My parents both did the race with me. It was nice having someone to carpool and commiserate with! They are both right behind me in the first photo, although my dad was ahead of me most of the race otherwise. My mom and I were accidentally twinsies in the same hat and pink shirts.

4) I really like the t-shirt. It is not a tech shirt, but I have more than enough tech shirts. It's just a nice soft comfy t-shirt, albeit in a slightly wonky bright green color.


1) I don't really care for up-and-down-the-mountain style races. I can do hills, but I'd rather the uphill be interspersed with the downhill throughout the entire race rather than each one all at once.

2) If contemplating future trail races... Confirm the trail conditions ahead of time.

3) I'm pretty sure I've put my kinda-sorta-maybe-someday dreams of an ultramarathon behind me. At least in the near future. I just don't have the necessary time/energy/guts right now.

And that's all I have to say about that. What's the hardest race you've ever done?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Birthday Extravaganza Weekend

The infamous birthday has come and gone. I'm 35 years old today. Perhaps I'll share more about how I feel about that later. (The short version: Mostly good!) But today I'm going to share a belated long weekend recap of the various birthday festivities leading up to today. 

On Saturday, I started the day with the Kennebec Mountain Run. This was an extremely difficult 15-mile trail race. (In my case it was more often a power hike). Full recap coming later this week, but suffice to say it was more than I bargained for when I signed up!

Unfortunately I still had to run back DOWN the mountain!

For dinner we went over to my parents' house for the greatest dinner - Ribs, Mac & Cheese, Fruit salad, and Spinach salad. All my favorite things! The kids were really well behaved during dinner too which was very nice. The last time we had dinner with my parents (on Memorial Day) the kids were both in meltdown mode from start to finish.

Fact: No one cooks as good as your mom.

For dessert we had a fabulous ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery. My favorite combination is chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream with caramel, fudge & brownies mixed in.

Swede helped me blow out the candles. She is very excited that her birthday is the next one coming up (but I don't think she realizes how far away November is).

On Sunday morning Jonathan and I headed up to Denver for our first getaway in exactly two years! I owe a huge thank you to my parents (who are probably thinking right now, "Yep, It's gonna be another two years!") for taking care of the kids.

We stayed in downtown Denver at the The Curtis Hotel, which is a fun "theme" hotel. We were on the "Fun & Games" floor.

Love the Colorado flags on Larimer Square!

We went to an early dinner at Jonathan's favorite Mexican restaurant, La Loma. They have the best chile con queso and chile rellenos and fajitas. They make their own tortillas onsite which makes all the difference.

Then we went to see The National at Red Rocks, which is one of the coolest places to see a show. The walls of the amphitheater are made of these huge red rocks (hence the name).

The show was great too although Jonathan was disappointed they didn't play more of their earlier music, but you really can't expect them to keep playing songs from ten years ago, even if that is your favorite song that your son is named after...

On Monday we were planning to have breakfast at Snooze but there was a 45-60 minute wait (at 9 am on Monday morning!) which was super disappointing. It's so hard when you have your heart set on doing something and it doesn't work out. Jonathan and I could both work on handling the inevitable changes in plan with more grace. After a few minutes of frustration and complaining, we headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens and picked up coffees and pastries from the onsite cafe, then toured the garden.

The waterlilies were spectacular!

Every year at the garden there is a different sculpture series. This year it's called "Stories in Sculpture" from various artists. This one was my favorite:

Another disappointing thing about the weekend was the traffic! I don't know if it's that we've been in a small town for the past 2+ years or if Denver has gotten that much more crowded and busy, but we were always getting stuck in traffic. The worst!

For dinner on Monday we met Chesleigh and Doug at D Bar, one of my all time favorite places. I think this is the fourth birthday I have celebrated there!

Photo courtesy of the lovely Chesleigh

We split some delicious appetizers (Bacon wrapped dates... Heaven!) and I had a fried chicken waffle sandwich and Nutella beignets for dessert.

We drove home today to rescue my mom from the tyranny of two small children. Swede gave me a disappointingly less-than-enthusiastic greeting, but she was pretty thrilled with the Peppa Pig pajamas we brought her home from Target. I was pretty happy to see both my darling kiddos. They both seem more grown up in just three days.

One last photo: My birthday present from Jonathan and the kids - LOVE.

FYI: Swede's real name is Ingrid - See HERE for the story behind Swede.

I'll be the first to admit this was a pretty major birthday blowout weekend! Next year will probably be more low-key. What's the biggest or best way that you've ever celebrated a birthday?