Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Races

Last night when Eric got the mail there was magically a Race Center magazine in there, which contains a listing of all the races/triathalons in the Pacific Northwest.  I never signed up to get it and not sure how it got sent out, but I made a huge mistake of sitting down and reading it while on my 2nd glass of wine last night.  I ended up signing up for two half marathons and highlighted several other races that I will probably call an audible on at the last minute!  Since I am not sure what our lives and travel are going to hold this year, I don't want to commit to too many races, although there are a couple I am itching to sign up for.  Here are the races I'm signed up for so far this year:
  • The Heart Breaker Half (February 16th)
  • Hippie Chick Half (May 10)
  • The Helvetia Half (June 7)
And I am so crazy about certain's totally bugging me that I have a half marathon I completed in January, and one I'm doing in February, May and June, but no half marathons in March and April.  There literally wasn't a local one for me to do, and the races that are local are 10ks!  It would just be cool to be able to do a half each month of the first half of the year, or at least in my mind it would be.  And of course, to feed my ego and receive medals to add to my growing collection would be a's becoming kind of a problem.  ;)

It's funny how things change.  When I first started running years ago, I was strictly a 5k girl, with the occasional 10k thrown in.  I thought that half marathons and especially full marathons were an exercise in insanity, but doing both distances last year took the mystery and fear out of the equation and made half marathons seem much more doable in my mind.  (I still want to shoot myself in the face at the thought of doing another full marathon).  As I was signing up for those races last night I signed up for the half marathon distance without hesitation or consideration of the shorter distances.  I guess my confidence is growing!

I definitely want to try doing one of them in 3 hours (or God forbid maybe even a sub-three, but that is ambitious).  I suspect that the Hippie Chick is probably my best shot since the weather won't be ungodly hot like it typically is at the Helvetia.  The Helvetia is typically my cutoff for doing races until September or October because I simply CANNOT with the heat.

That's all the news that's fit to print for now!   

Monday, January 27, 2014

Louisiana Half Marathon Recap

First things first, this is my 100th post!!  Totally crazy!  I know I haven't posted as faithfully as I could, but this is definitely the longest stretch I've ever kept up with a blog, so I must be mildly into the running thing.  :)

I wanted to recap my half marathon from The Louisiana Half before too much time goes by.  I theoretically could have done it while I was back home, but we were busy going all over the place, plus I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to insert pictures via the Blogger app on my tablet.  Anyway, I'm a little over a week late, but I'm here!

Two days before the race I got the shock of my life, which was my big brother surprising me to tell me that he'd secretly signed up for the half marathon and intended to run with me!!  My brother is pretty much the opposite of me.  He's very dedicated to running and runs 4-6 miles consistently every single day no matter how miserable it is outside or whether he's sick/tired etc, and is extremely fit.  He is actually the person who should be doing races, but I don't think the crowds and all of that are his thing, so he's really never done one.  Contrast that with his chubby baby sister who will easily blow off a run because it may be 5 degrees over the ideal temp, or because someone has suggested going out for beers, yet I love doing races.  I warned him and apologized about a million times in advance for how slow I was, especially since I hadn't run in over a month due to my sinus/lung shenanigans, but he insisted it was all good and he would roll with whatever.

The next day we went out to packet pickup in Baton Rouge at the River Center.  I wish I'd taken more pictures, because the Expo was definitely cool and super organized.  I think it helped that we were there Friday an hour after it opened, because there weren't many people.  The one thing that bummed me out was that my tech shirt was too small because AS USUAL, women's race shirts are not designed for women who have breasts.  It was too bad because the shirts were cool, but short of me winning the lottery to get my dream boob reduction, I don't know that it's going to fit.

I snapped a quick picture outside of the Expo (with my new short hair!) because I loved this sign.  In case you're confused, it's a Louisiana thing to spell words that have "oh" sounds with "eaux".  (ie snow would be sneaux, blow is bleaux) It mainly is used during LSU games to say "Geaux Tigers", but the spelling is used quite a bit.  It's definitely not a race advertisement that you'd see anywhere other than Louisiana!

The day before the race we drove back down to BR to get into the hotel and I was actually pretty impressed with the Marriot on College Drive.  I mean it wasn't a 5 star room at the Chateau Marmont, but the beds were super comfy, everyone was very friendly, and there was a free shuttle transporting runners and spectators to the race the next day!  Apparently there was drama with the host hotel (the name escapes me at the moment) where they ended up screwing over a bunch of the runners.  I guess they whimsically decided to do a bunch of renovations to the hotel the week of the race, so they didn't honor a ton of reservations and had to ship people to other hotels that were far away from the start line.  Yikes!  I was definitely happy to be at the hotel we were at and not have to deal with that kind of stress.

For once I was really on my game and neatly laid out all of my stuff for the race that afternoon, which was therapeutic and made me feel more prepared than I actually was!  That evening we all went out to dinner at a place called Jason's Deli.  It was pretty good, but I made sure to keep things light and just ordered a turkey wrap with fruit on the side.  God knows I'd "carbed up" all week with an ungodly amount of po-boys and pieces of king cake.  The next morning my brother rolled out at the unholy hour of 5:30 am in order to catch the shuttle to the start line.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the shuttle, but the buses were super nice and comfortable, and were running about every 10 minutes.  We got to the start line obscenely early, but it did leave us plenty of time to scope things out and get to the bathrooms before they were too skanky.  The weather to me felt good, it was probably about 47 degrees, but of course all the people who live in the South thought it was freezing!

The start and finish line was at the State Capitol, and when we arrived at the start line the Capitol looked really beautiful.  They had the logo for the race projected on the side, and it just looked really cool.

My brother and I also passed the time by taking selfies, because that's just what you do in this day and age!  It's funny, we both happened to wear Saints headgear, though his was a wool cap that would have made me pass out before hitting a mile!

My dad texted me right as we were about to start to tell me that my Aunt Shirley (my mom's sister) was at the start line looking for us.  There were at least a couple thousand people there, so I didn't think we'd see her, but right after the gun went off and we were ambling towards the start line we saw her.  I think my brother and I scared a couple of people with our screaming, but Aunt Shirley saw us and started cheering us on!

Right off the bat I can tell you that this race had one of the prettiest, most interesting courses that I've ever had the pleasure of running.  Some of it is that is bias because I am from Louisiana and there are things that are significant to me, but overall the course really was beautiful.  There were lots of neighborhoods, the lakes around LSU, we ran through the actual LSU campus...there was just a lot to look at.  And since it is Louisiana and we will party for any and all reasons, the neighborhoods were totally great.  People had set up stereos with great local music blaring, there were tons of signs, some people were handing out fruit, and at one house the people had set up an entire table with beer, mimosas, wine and bloody Mary's for runners!!  I found out later that it was one of the local newscasters (!!) who did it.  I certainly love to drink, but I can't understand anyone who would throw back a beer during a half marathon.  I want to toss my cookies just thinking about it!  The newscaster who was handing out the libations said that one of the runners chased a beer with a bloody Mary.  I'd have to take a Pepcid and a glass of Alkaseltzer if I did that!

I didn't take a ton of pictures on the course, which I kind of regret, but here are a couple of pictures from the beginning of the race.

This is the lake by the LSU campus, and it really provided a very beautiful, peaceful atmosphere to the race.  There are so many cypress trees and native birds, and it's very scenic and pretty.  I should have taken a few more pictures from other points in the race, because it just got prettier and prettier.

I took this just for my "Oregon aunt", because she's the lone black sheep (just kidding Bitsy!) of the family who graduated from LSU while the rest of us went to SLU.  She is a diehard LSU fan, so I knew she'd love the fact that I ran right past the stadium at mile 5!!

The actual race definitely wasn't my best.  Though the weather was pretty, it was sunny and to me it was hot.  I think the humidity ended up getting to me a little, but I was definitely not happy and would have prefered it to be 5 degrees cooler.  My month off from running punched me in the face right at about mile 2, and I definitely had no energy or kick to my legs.  In fact I had horrid leg cramps for most of the race despite drinking tomato juice and coconut water (not together!) all week.  The other thing that was unusual is that I had a major code brown and had to stop at pretty much the first portapotty available, and then had to stop again towards the end of the race.  I usually never have issues like that, and I mostly hate that it ate up so much time.  I got side stitches, which totally pissed me off.  I had to walk a lot, which made me feel bad because I know my brother could have run the whole race without stopping, but he was determined to stay with me.  I also had made 2 rookie mistakes, which was to not put Vaseline in my typical chafe spots, and to not tape up my known hot spots on my feet.  The last few miles were torture because I had bad chafing in my sensitive areas, and I had bad blisters on the bottom of my feet.  It definitely wasn't easy breezy like the Nike Women's Half, but having my brother there was great!  We had lots of laughs and some great chats during the race.

The end of the race was awesome because right as we were rounding the corner to go towards the finish line, we saw our family there cheering us on!  It was a nice incentive to push to the finish line, and of course towards our medals!  ;)  I finished in 3:25:46, which isn't awful considering all that I was dealing with.  It did make me mad that I had spent so much time in line for the bathroom, because if I hadn't, I would have maybe PR'd!  Right as we crossed the finish line they handed us bottles of water with a nice koozie on them, which I thought was a nice touch.  I downed the water in about 3 seconds, and then immediately eating one of the orange slices that got offered, then we went to get our medals.

And I have a confession....I absolutely love the medal I got at the Louisiana Half, in fact, I actually love it more than my marathon medal.  I feel like the Portland medal was kind of weird and meaningless design-wise, especially compared with past Portland medals, whereas the Louisiana Half medal is pure Louisiana.

The cypress tree, the fleur-de-lis, the colors, the design...I don't know, I just think it's so pretty and elegant.  I just love it!

After the race we cleaned up and went to lunch at On The Border.  I so badly wanted a cold beer, but my family doesn't drink and I didn't want to offend them, so I went without.  I did get some yummy chicken and onion tacos and some sopapillas, so it wasn't all bad.

OH!!  I do want to give a shout out to Desiree from Finding The Skinny Geek Within.  She lives in Louisiana and came to spectate at the race with her fabulous "Worst Parade Ever" sign.  We tried to coordinate meeting, but sadly I didn't see her which bums me out, because I totally wanted to meet her!  Someday Desiree!  If you'd like to read about her experience in spectating, please go here.  And thank you Desiree for spectating, it really is such a boost to the runners to have people care enough to come out, take time out of their day and cheer for strangers!  The funny signs are a good distraction too!  Loved yours BTW!

All in all, the Louisiana Half was great and I would highly recommend it if you are curious about it and need a good destination race, or if you live in the area.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Louisiana Adventures

Okay, so I am posting this from my fancy fangled tablet, and it's all I can do to figure out writing on it, much less posting pictures, so this is probably going to be a pretty boring post.  ;)  Apologies in advance, hopefully my poetic wordsmithing will bring your imaginations alive and you won't need the pictures!

I have been in Louisiana since Saturday, and it's definitely such a change!  I think the thing I forget the most is how slow paced everything is in the South.  Everyone is doing their own thing in their own time, and it drives me bananas!!  It would probably do me good to learn to slow down a bit, but it's definitely been an adjustment.  The other thing that's a change (and this is good) is that the sun is out here all the time!  In Oregon we don't see the sun a great deal during this time of year.  I am used to the cold, so I get pretty amused that everyone here thinks 50 degrees is arctic level temps.  I am typically in shorts and everyone else is shivering, but that's usually the case anyway.  I am hoping the race will be on the cool side, but it looks like it's going to be one of the warmer days.

We've definitely been zipping around all over the place and doing things.  Today we did something I've always wanted to do, which was visit The Myrtles, which is a haunted antebellum home in St. Francisville.  I have heard stories about it for years, and I love ghost stuff even though it scares the shit out of me, so I was pretty excited to see it.  The tour was a bit awkward because it was just me and my parents, plus they were fixing some rooms that were damaged by Hurricane Gustav, so we didn't get to see all of the rooms that are normally on the tour.  It was still really beautiful and cool though, especially all of the antique furniture.  There is a mirror in the entry way that is supposed to be haunted, and sometimes faces will appear in it when you take pictures.  Of course nothing happened even though I took a million pictures, and I think my mom was pretty disappointed!!  I was totally amused, she was all about the paranormal stuff and wanted to have a ghost experience.  I was hovering between disappointed and relieved that we didn't.  ;)  Apparently staying there is pretty terrifying.  I've heard stories from people who were either pretty freaked or just outright left because of all the shenanigans going on in their room.  I looked at some pictures and videos on Youtube, and I think I can pass on staying there.  Although, we stayed at a haunted hotel in New Orleans a few years ago and had some stuff happen, and emerged relatively untraumatized.  ;)

I actually feel like I am fighting another cold off, and I am trying my best to stay healthy until at least Sunday.  I did try to do a run yesterday, and I felt like my lungs were going to explode.  I am definitely nervous about the half but there's really nothing else I can do at this point except run it.  I have been getting quite a bit of walking in here, which feels really good, so I am not worried so much about the distance.  I just know that it's going to be slower than I wanted.  It stresses me out a little, but what can you do.  At the end of the day it will be fun, and that's the whole point right?  I mean I'm not trying to be Jessie Owens!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A New Year

I can't believe it is 2014!!  We're 10 days into the year and shit has been pretty eventful already, almost too eventful for my liking.

We had a fabulous time in L.A.  As an Oregonian I am supposed to hate Los Angeles, and it's still not somewhere I'd want to live in a million years, but it admittedly has grown on me the last couple of times we've gone down.  We tend to do fun, random stuff instead of touristy stuff though, and since Eric lived there for 11 years he's a great tour guide.  We spent good quality time with his brother, and our New Year's Eve was the most fun one we've ever had I think!  Here's some pictures from our trip

The exterior house used on Golden Girls!
Selfies with James Dean at Griffith Observatory

Venice Beach on New Year's Day after a 5 mile very hungover walk...
We came home on January 2nd, and my sabbatical from work officially started, so I am not going back to work until March 3rd.  So, I was pretty much on cloud 9 about that.  Then life decided to throw us a curveball on Monday, and my poor hubby (along with several of our friends/coworkers) got laid off from his job.  Yeeeeah.  We are admittedly not terribly broken up about it.  I have vaguely written about work here, and I'm sure you guys can read between the lines and know that the job has been tough lately, so this was almost a relief and very freeing for him.  Obviously being out of work is a very serious thing, but I feel deep down that everything will be ok, and that I will have a happier husband in the long run.

Then on Tuesday, and friend texted me to tell me that our friend Tom's dog Dexter died suddenly that morning of a seizure.  I had babysit Dex several times over last year while Tom was out of town, so I was very attached to Dex and the news was so upsetting.  Dex was a big (emphasis on the word big...he was probably 100+ pounds) goof and totally sweet, and besides the fact that I loved him, we are nearing the 1 year anniversary of Natasha's death, so all of this kind of brought that stuff back.  It's just all so sad.

And of course the other big news is that I am leaving for Louisiana tomorrow for TWO WEEKS!  It's the longest I've been able to go down and be with my family in a long time, and of course I'll be doing my half marathon.  I am not prepared for it in the least, but I will struggle through it.  I am sad to leave Eric for 2 weeks, it's been the longest we've been apart since we were dating, and that was like 8 years ago!  I will try to blog while I am there, or at the very least post a picture after my half.

Anyway, it's been a head spinning 2014 so far.  I have the feeling this is going to be the year of a lot of change, but I honestly feel very positive and ready for it.  A lot of things definitely need to change, and I'm game for it.  2014 is going to be a clean slate.