Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Add It To My List [Q2 2017]

Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Bre for Add It To My List. These are all the things that I've enjoyed in the past few months that I think you should check out.

First - New recipes we've tried lately with great success:

     - The Best Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Cookies & Cups is the best.
     - The Maple Dijon Salmon from Delish is so easy and so delish.
     - This Corn and Bacon Chicken Salad is the perfect picnic sandwich. 
     - Although these Chicken Cesar Salad Wraps are a close second.

Second - Favorite books I've read in the past three months:

     - I love the Chief Inspector Armande Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny.
     - The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was magical.
     - On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman was a nice little rom-com.

Next - Kid stuff:

     - We've enjoyed playing the Hoot Owl Hoot board game with Swede.
     - All the kids' dishes and utensils are from Re-Play. I love that they are indestructible and made from recycled milk jugs. The kids love the bright colors.
     - I've mentioned it before but we play with this water table every single day.

Finally - Running shoe update:

     - I mentioned in the March link-up that I was loving the Saucony Freedom ISO but the low drop started to aggravate an old plantar fasciitis injury so I switched to the Mizuno Wave Rider 20. I'd never worn these shoes before but they feel very "familiar" and the niggling pain in my heel every morning has gone away again.

That's all! What do you recommend that I should add to MY list?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekend [June 24-25, 2017]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? This is what happened here:

On Saturday I ran six miles while listening to The Runners World Show podcast about David Willey's BQ. Sometimes when I listen to podcasts while running it slows me down but this one was very inspiring!

Swede and I baked The Best Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins and then while both kids napped I read Celine <-- So good! In the afternoon we visited with my parents and then our babysitter came over while Jonathan and I went out to dinner at Animas Brewing Company where we ordered pretty much the entire appetizer menu.

On Sunday we had a peaceful and leisurely morning before going to church, and then played at home some more before and after nap time.

In the early evening Swede and I went for a bike ride together on the river trail which was really fun. We biked together frequently two summers ago and I'm hoping to do so again this year. And then we had fresh strawberry milkshakes for dessert! A very fun and delicious end to the weekend! Abel missed out because he goes to bed so early but he'll catch up next year.

Upcoming this week:


Mon: Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella Panini
Tue: Thai Red Curry with Vegetables from Cookie & Kate
Wed: Risotto with Parmesan & Roasted Tomatoes from Love Real Food
Thu: Jonathan's Birthday! His request was enchiladas.
Fri: Salmon with Dijon Cream and Garlic Butter Breadcrumbs from How Sweet Eats

This is Week 2 of training for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon. I'm running four days a week - One easy, one speed (via Kara Goucher's plan), one hill, and one long.

This is a rare-in-the-summer full week of work but I'm planning to crank through a long to-do list before taking the whole next week off for a staycation!

That's all! Tell me - What was the best part of your weekend?

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?