Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Race Recap: Steamworks Half Marathon 2017

On June 10th I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon for the sixth time!

Here is a short summary of the course, lifted verbatim from last year's race report:

This course is a point-to-point starting at Baker's Bridge 13 miles north of Durango. If you've ever seen the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the scene when Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump off the cliffs into the river to escape the posse was filmed here. The course stays on the same county road through the Animas Valley all the way back to Durango. It is mostly rolling hills, although unfortunately more of the downhill rolling is near the beginning and the uphill rolling near the end.

At Baker's Bridge near the start line

Here are my times for all the previous years:

     2010 - 2:01:57
     2011 - 2:03:59
     2012 - 1:57:30
     2014 - 1:57:26
     2016 - 2:09:10
     2017 - 1:58:56

You can see that this year was right in the middle. Not my fastest time but not my slowest time either. At the beginning of the year I was hoping to be closer to 1:55 by now but I've struggled with consistency and motivation. I thought I could do sub-2 hours though. I had doubts along the way but I'm glad I managed to meet that goal. I do think this course is deceptively hard; I have consistently struggled to get comparable times to other races in the same year.

Here are my splits this year:

Mile 1 & 2 - 8:55 & 8:37. I started out feeling pretty good. The first mile is mostly a gradual downhill and I tried to take it easy versus going out too fast. In Mile 2 I settled in to what I hoped would be my pace for the majority of the race (around 8:45) but you'll see below that didn't really happen.

Mile 3 through 8 - 9:02, 9:09, 8:55, 9:06, 9:03. It turned out the pace I settled into for the majority of the race was closer to 9:00 than 8:45. I did push a little more in Mile 5 but overall I didn't have it in me to go any faster.

I think this is around Mile 5-6

Mile 9, 10, & 11 - 9:15, 9:16, 9:10. I slowed down a little more during these miles, and I admit that my mental game suffered at this point as well. I was feeling a) really tired and slower than I want to be, and b) discouraged to feel that way.

Mile 12 & 13 - 9:56, 9.24. Mile 12 was bad. It took a big effort to keep running, albeit slowly. I made it to the aid station at Mile 12.5 and took a longer than usual walk through and then managed to pick it back up a little for the final mile.

Final time - 1:58:56. Over it felt really hard. It was less enjoyable and I was slower overall (9:05 average versus 8:45 average) than at the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile two weeks earlier. I knew it hadn't been the best two weeks from a training standpoint but I was surprised how much my pace decreased - A good reminder to stay focused during the next ten weeks as I train for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon on August 26th.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Family Vacation in Denver 2017

Greetings! We have returned from our first ever family vacation which was a short trip to visit friends in Denver. It was a pretty even split between really fun and really difficult, but I think (& I hope I'm right) that traveling with the kids will get easier each year. I didn't really understand the impact the constant high level of excitement and novelty would have on the kids (which resulted in a couple big meltdowns). But it was really fun to see our friends and to see the kids having so much fun. 

We drove up on Thursday morning. I was a little nervous about the drive but it went really well. MVPs of the trip included: the Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You Hear? Sound Book, the Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter, and a couple new Melissa & Doug Water Wow Activity Books. Plus snacks. Lots of snacks.

We stayed with our friends Tyffani & Bryn (who visited us in Durango last summer). Their son Elliott is exactly three months older than Abel. It was great to see the kids playing together. Elliott is very sweet and would frequently give unprompted hugs to Swede and Abel, which sometimes turned into full-body tackles. They also have a gentle giant of a Bernese Mountain Dog named Bandersnatch.

On Friday we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens. It didn't seem like that much was in bloom though. Maybe we are between the spring and summer seasons, or maybe I was too busy chasing after the kids to notice. Abel is at an age that whenever he's released from the stroller he runs as fast as he can either in the opposite direction that we are going or straight toward a hazardous situation such as the water lily pond. My friend Chesleigh also met us there, but I'm not going to share the photo of us together since she looks adorable and I look like I'm posing for a driver's license photo, which does not at all reflect how glad I was to see her. Let's admire the kids instead.

On Saturday we went to the Denver Zoo. The first half hour was really fun. Swede and Abel were so excited to see the animals. But I think the excitement caught up and overwhelmed them after that and we ended up leaving a little earlier than planned.

On Saturday afternoon we went to a water fountain in Tyffani and Bryn's neighborhood which might have been one of the highlights of the trip for the kids. It's often the easiest and cheapest thing that's the most fun! They loved running around and splashing (without the fear, in Swede's case, that her hair might get wet).

Those are the highlights! We headed back home on Sunday. The drive seemed much longer on the way home but we made it. There were some really tough moments throughout the whole trip but those memories are already starting to fade and all I remember is the fun. (Although I'm definitely not ready to plan any more family vacations for at least another year).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Race Recap: Narrow Gauge 10-Mile 2017

Hello! This race recap is coming a little late as I've been waiting for the race photos to be posted. They have still not been done yet but I can't wait any longer or I'll forget everything I wanted to say! I suppose the drawback to free race photos, or free anything for that matter, is that you can't be too picky.

This is the fifth time I've done the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile, but only the third time on this specific course. It was also my fastest time on this course compared to 1:32:12 in 2014 and 1:40:47 in 2016.

Last year's recap is HERE and includes more details about the course.

As you know my friend Laura was here visiting over Memorial Weekend and she ran the four mile race. It was nice having someone to chat with at the start.

I wore the Relay Capri 2.0 from Athleta, the Accelerate Tunic from New Balance, and Wave Rider 20 from Mizuno.

I know you've seen this photo before but it's the only one I have!

Mile 1 & 2 - 9:58 & 9:57. These first two miles are entirely uphill. I felt pretty good though. Steady. I knew I had to just plug away up the hill and then it would get easier.

Mile 3 & 4 - 8:33 & 8:54. Ugh, I forgot there was another hill in Mile 4. This part was looping around campus on Rim Drive with pretty views of the mountains.

Mile 5, 6, & 7 - 8:12, 7:36, 8:16. These miles are almost entirely downhill. I had fun and felt very floaty. At Mile 6 I was <54 minutes so I knew I'd made up from the first two slower miles back to 9 min/mi average pace which was my goal.

Mile 8, 9, & 10 - 8:32, 8:37, 8:41. These last three miles are on the bike path along the Animas River through town. I did fade a little but focused on catching up with Girl in Orange Shorts and then Man All in Blue which got me to the end on pace.

Final time - 1:27:16. This one of my faster times ever at the 10 mile distance. I did a 1:27:09 at the Snowman Stampede 10-Mile in 2012 and I *think* I ran a 1:25:XX in 2008 but that was before I kept track of race times.

As usual in Durango there was a pint glass instead of a medal. I am pretty indifferent either way as I don't keep medals and we have more pint glasses than we need. I really like the race shirt though. It is not a tech shirt which is better for me since I almost always run in tank tops anyway. I like the logo which is a throwback to the first year of the Narrow Gauge race - 40 years ago! Incredibly there is one runner who has done the race every year since.

That's all! It was a good race and I am happy with my time. It was also really fun that Laura participated too and that Jonathan brought the kids meet me at the finish line.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reading Roundup - May 2017

Book Day! I've been working my way steadily through my Summer Reading List - Here's what I read in May.

1) The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. Forty years ago, Anthony Peardew lost a keepsake from his fiancee on the same day as her tragic death. He spends the rest of his life collecting and meticulously curating a museum of lost items in his house, which he leaves to his sad and lonely housekeeper/personal assistant Laura upon his death, with the charge that she attempt to restore as many items as possible to the original owner. It's cute enough but a little twee. Everything comes together a little too perfectly at the end and there's a supernatural element which always annoys me if I'm not prepared for it.

2) The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler. This book made me feel a little grim about the hearts of men in general and navigating my son's teenage years in particular. It takes place over three generations and revolves primarily around a Boy Scout camp in north Wisconsin. I didn't really like or connect to any of the characters.

3) On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. This is a nice little rom-com. It's light and cute and fun if a little predictable, but I don't think anyone's looking for the surprise twist ending in this genre. It's about a rather topsy-turvy year in the main character's life after she buys an adorable little house on Turpentine Lane. Thanks for Carly for the recommendation!

4) The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova. This book takes place in Bulgaria, and while I did enjoy the setting - Bulgaria sounds so beautiful and I enjoyed the folktales and history woven in - and the main characters are well drawn and likeable despite their flaws, this book didn't have the same magic for me as The Historian. It goes back and forth in time between an American woman recently arrived in Bulgaria in the modern day who gets caught up unraveling the story of a brilliant musician whose life was destroyed by years spent in the gulag in the aftermath of WWII. (Spoiler alert: The years in the gulag are pretty grim).

5) The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell. This is a memoir of the author's first year living in Denmark after her husband takes at job at Lego. It's always fascinating to read about other cultures and the author's writing style, reminiscent of her former career in women's lifestyle magazines, is light and funny. This book is less helpful if you're hoping to incorporate any Danish philosophy into your own life because she concludes that many reasons for Denmark's high happiness rating are unique to Denmark. For example, there is a very high level of trust in the government. It would be laughable how untrue that is in America if it wasn't so sad.

That's all! As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie and Jana for Show Us Your Books - I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been reading lately!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekend [June 10-11, 2017]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? Here's what we were up to:

On Saturday morning I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon. It was a tough race for me but I managed to finish just under two hours which was my goal. In the afternoon, after naps for both kids - thankfully, because I was so tired too! - and a visit with my parents, we went out to dinner as a family for Chinese food. I am always anxious about meltdowns in restaurants but both kids did really well. In the evening I finished reading The Atomic Weight of Love and started Bury Your Dead.

At the start of the race

Swedey's new watermelon pajamas

On Sunday my mom and I took the kids swimming in the morning which was really fun, and in the afternoon we went to the river trail so Swede could practice riding her new pedal bike. It's harder than I thought to learn how to ride a pedal bike even with training wheels! There are so many things to think about and do simultaneously. We stopped to play in the river for a while then went back home to have tacos for dinner.

A rare photo of J and me together

Abie at the river

Upcoming this week:

I am only working three days this week and then we are heading to Denver for a family vacation! I am excited and nervous. I need to start my packing list now so that hopefully I don't forget anything crucial.

I have a haircut appointment on Tuesday as well as a board meeting of the charter elementary school for which I'm the Treasurer. I am doing a recovery week after the half marathon so will just do a couple easy runs before I start my official training for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon next week.

The meal plan is pretty simple: We're having Chicken Caesar Wraps tomorrow, Maple Dijon Salmon and salad on Tuesday, and egg sandwiches on Wednesday.

That's all!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

That's Life [Episode 2]

Hey Friends! It's hard to believe that Episode 1 was all the way back in February. I was planning to make this a more regular series but the truth is that I completely forgot. I think it's a fun format though so... Let's see what's new!

Mom Life: I feel like the Baby Years are coming to an end. For the past three and a half years I've had a baby, then a toddler, and then a new baby and a toddler. Currently I'd say that I have a kid and a toddler, but pretty soon I'm just going to have two kids. They both seem to have grown up significantly in the past week. Swede is suddenly and fearlessly able to do all the things at the playground without any help. Abel is starting to refuse his high chair and wants to do everything by himself all the time (which is difficult because he does still need help much of the time). Watching them grow up is so bittersweet. I'm really excited for the next few years as a family, but also I feel really sad to leave this era behind.

Abel hasn't quite figured out popsicles yet...

Work Life: For a while - For most of the Baby Years, actually - I'd say that my career has been a little bit on cruise control. I've been doing my job. I've been doing a good job! But it's definitely felt like more of a job than a career. Lately, however,  I am starting to feel more motivated to "lean in," to learn new things, and to take on new responsibilities.

Running Life: I've been having trouble staying consistent with running this year. I really loved running in February and March, but I felt very lackluster for most of April and May. I had a good race at the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile less than two weeks ago but since then have only managed three runs and I ate all the food while in Denver for work this week, so I'm not feeling very confident going into the Steamworks Half Marathon on Saturday. I'd really liked to be sub-2 - Wish me luck!

I did sign my "big endorsement deal" with Brooks yesterday though which was fun.

Social Life: It was so fun to see all my Denver friends this week while I was there for work! But it also reminded me that I need to keep making the effort at home. I have a couple new friends in Durango but they could easily fade back into acquaintances if I don't keep reaching out to make plans. #IntrovertProblems

At my favorite D Bar Denver with the lovely Tyffani

Blog Life: Many of the bloggers that I follow have been stepping back or taking breaks lately, and I suppose the same can be said of me since this is my first post in June, but it's more that I've decided to relax the self-imposed Must-Post-Twice-a-Week rule I've tried to follow ever since I started. Like I said in the May Check-In - I'm trying to take a more relaxed approach towards to-do list items. I don't want the activities that I do for fun to add stress to my life. If I'm feeling tired or if I'm not excited about whatever topic I had planned that day or if I'd just rather finish my book instead of blog... That's fine with me. And I hope it's fine with you too.

That's all! What's new in your life?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017: May Check-In

Here we are at the end of May! This month was a little strange for me. For the first couple weeks I felt really anxious and stressed all the time. I fell back into my old bad habit of repeating my to-do list in my head over and over all day long. Then I had a light-bulb moment and decided to calm down, to slow down, to take a few things off the to-do list, and to a take a more relaxed approach toward the remaining items. Since then I have been feeling much better.

Here are the goals I set at the start of 2017 and how things went in May - The short version is: Not perfect, but I'm channelling this Tea wisdom:


The Goal: My official goal for 2017 is to PR the half marathon, but aside from that I like to exercise most days to be healthy and feel like my best self. I try to run 3x/week and do strength, HIIT, or yoga 3x/week.

The Reality: The numbers look good. I ran 75 miles, did 8 21 Day Fix workouts, and even made it to a yoga class at the studio. The reality is that it was a struggle to keep plugging away when very few of the miles were fun or fast. Thankfully I have started to feel motivated and happy to be running again in the past two weeks, and I had a good race last weekend.


The Goal: My goal is to be more mindful, to be more present, to single-task, and to spend less time on my phone. The word of the year is REST.

The Reality: As I said before, the first half of the month was a complete failure in this category but the second half of the month has gone much better. In terms of phone usage, I spent $3.99 to upgrade the Moment app and I'm glad I did - There are a few nice tricks that have been really helpful to me in cutting back even further.


The Goal: I'm trying to read one non-fiction book per month this year.

The Reality: Yes! I finished my trilogy of Danish books this month with The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.


The Goal: My goals here are a) Don't buy any clothes for myself until May, and b) Be more careful with random discretionary spending.

The Reality: I fully admit my spending has been a little excessive the past two months. [Hello Capsule Wardrobe!] But I do feel like I have most everything that I had planned to buy and that we needed for the summer, both for myself and for the kids, and for the house in general, so I am going to attempt another spending freeze until September.

This water table was a solid May purchase though!

Going into June I want to:

     - Start playing the piano again regularly - I did play a few times in May but would like to be more consistent.

     - Really focus on being present and mindful - Whenever I catch myself running through the to-do list ad nauseam in my head I have to STOP and repeat a mantra like "Right Here, Right now."

     - Be cognizant of the budget and reign in impulse purchases and retail therapy. I wrote this exact goal last month but I mean it this time!

     - Enjoy the sunshine!

I am also running my first half marathon of the year on June 10 and the following weekend we are heading to Denver for our first family vacation.

That's all! How did May go for you? Any fun plans for June? As usual I'm linking up with Gretchen and Kristen for What's New With You.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Hey Friends! Super long weekend recap coming at you so I won't waste any time!

On Friday my friend Laura drove down from Denver to visit. We went on a short hike with the kids and had pizza for dinner.

On Saturday we made doughnuts (these ones, which were a little disappointing, I like this recipe better) and then went to the swimming pool. Swede and I had so much going down the biggest water slide together.

While the kids napped we chatted on the back deck. I bought this rug from Wayfair last week and I love the way it makes the deck feel more like another room in the house. I am so much more inclined to spend time out there now!

Afternoon activities included: playing with the water table, drawing with chalk on the driveway, picking up race packets at the Durango Running Company, pimiento cheese sandwiches and chips and watermelon lemonade for dinner, and watching Anastasia with Swede.

On Sunday I ran the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile. Laura did the 4 Mile race. It was a beautiful day and I had a great race! Jonathan brought the kids down to the finish line. This is only the second time the kids have come to the finish (and last year Swede was super shy of the crowd and would not leave my mom's arms) so it was really great to see them there. My father-in-law did the 10-Mile too so we chatted with him. And there was also ice cream which was greatly appreciated by the under-4 crowd.

After nap time / quiet time for the kids we went to the river. It was very fun albeit very muddy. Main activities included filling a bucket with water and then dumping it out, throwing rocks into the river, watching rafts and kayaks go by, and trying to take off Mom's hat.

We had Rainbow Peanut Noodles for dinner, and watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty after the kids went to bed.

Laura went back to Denver on Monday morning - My campaign to convince her to move to Durango is thus far unsuccessful. Jonathan and I took the kids to the playground, and then Swede and I baked my favorite Chai Snickerdoodles. In the afternoon we went on a short hike then had hot dogs and potato salad and root beer for dinner.

That's all! There were a few difficult melt-down moments as usual when dealing with small children but overall it was a really fun weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5x5 Things About Me

Hey Friends! Wednesday seems like a good day for some random trivia. And, of course, some random recent photos.

1) Favorite Disney Songs, in no particular order:
     1) Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty
     2) Prince Ali from Aladdin
     3) Let It Go from Frozen <--Swede's current favorite movie
     4) Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast
     5) Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid

Mommy & Me Watermelon Toms

2) States in which I have lived, in chronological order:
     1) California
     2) Washington
     3) Idaho
     4) Florida
     5) Colorado

With my buddy Elliott in Denver earlier this month

3) Favorite black-and-white movies, also in chronological order:
     1) It Happened One Night - 1934, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert
     2) The Philadelphia Story - 1940, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn
     3) Casablanca - 1942, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
     4) Roman Holiday - 1953, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn
     5) The Apartment - 1960, Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine

This kid is so goofy and fun.

4) Things I'd like to do someday:
     1) Go for a ride in a hot air balloon
     2) Hike the Colorado Trail (500 miles from Denver to Durango)
     3) Learn how to can, quilt, and ride a horse
     4) See the Northern Lights
     5) Go on a yoga retreat

Swedey has graduated to the grown-up swings!

5) Words that describe me:
     - Affectionate
     - Quirky
     - Introverted
     - Organized
     - Tired

Your turn! Favorite Disney song? How many states have you lived in? Are you a fan of old movies? What's on your "Someday" list?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Currently - May 2017

Hey Friends! It's time for another "Currently" post. Here's what I'm up to these days:

Listening to: The Runners World Show podcast. I've enjoyed following along with Editor-in-Chief David Willey's attempt to BQ, and remember how I said I wanted to have dinner with Shalane Flanagan? Well - The interview with her a couple weeks ago was the next best thing!

Watching: Most recently - Waitress, which makes me want to bake all the pies, and Bridget Jones' Baby, which was funny, but probably my least favorite of the three.

Reading: I'm working my way through my 2017 Summer Reading List. Right now it's The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova.

Wearing: I am loving my 2017 Summer Capsule Wardrobe!

Feeling: Really stressed and anxious about things that don't matter. I probably feel this way every year but I've been having a hard time transitioning back to normal life after busy season. I have replaced the work to-do list with the life to-do list without decreasing the stress level at all.

Praying: To feel more peace and contentment, and to be present in the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.

Trying: To do 15 minutes of yoga every night before bed. This is one of those on-again-off-again habits that feels so good when I manage to do it consistently.

Loving: Happy days with my loved ones!

Not Loving: Less happy days with my loved ones. Both kids have had some difficult moments lately. Abel is entering the "the testing age" (which is apparently what the Danish call the "terrible twos," as it has a more positive connotation) and Swede is, hopefully, nearing the end, but it's resulted in some very long days.

Looking Forward To: My BFF Laura is coming to visit Memorial Weekend. Look how little Swede and Abel were the last time she was here!

Eating: Inspired by Waitress I am making a ham & Brie quiche aka "Bad Baby Pie" for dinner tonight.

Planning: Our family vacation to Denver in June. I am excited to take the kids to the zoo for the first time!

That's all! What are you up these days?