Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Making 2016 More Analog, Less Digital

I've pretty much coasted for the remainder of 2015 when it comes to my health goals.  Sometimes you just need a break, and while I don't recommend that "f**k it" should be a life strategy for anyone, that kind of had to be mine for the remainder of 2015 just for my mental health.  I just didn't want to become obsessed with weight loss and feel pressure and disappointment, so I took a little break.  There was too much chaos and instability going on for me to get into the routine I needed to be in, but now things have calmed and I have plenty of time to plan and get back to losing weight and creating a better life for myself.

I don't have super specific health goals for 2016, it's really more of an overall feeling of wanting to jump back in 100% and wholeheartedly into what I know works for me.

Overall Health Goals for 2016
  • Consistent daily tracking in MFP
  • Daily activity
  • Not having treats unless they are earned or fit into the daily plan
  • Create small monthly fitness and nutrition goals
  • Lose 20-30 more pounds by December of 2016
  • Determine a goal weight range by the end of March
This very humble list is the tone and focus for this year, it's really all about rebuilding healthy habits and focusing again on losing weight.  Running or specific races really are not the priority for me, although running will always be part of my life and will surely factor into a monthly goal at some point, and I'm sure I'll do races at some point.  I'd love to have a speed goal at some point, despite being the least speedy person ever.  ;)

The not having treats unless they are earned is one of the bigger goals for me and will be challenging.  There was so much more pomp and circumstance around treats/wine/beer when I'd done a workout and felt good about fitting them into my daily plan earlier in 2015.  Once I let things go and quit tracking, I just started having whatever whenever and now these things aren't special anymore or an incentive for me to do a harder/longer workout, and mentally that makes me feel guilty.  It's time to go back to earning treats and not feeling in the least guilty about it!

And once I'm back into my routine and losing weight, I do want to finally settle on a goal weight.  Whether I reach that weight by the end of 2016 is debatable, but I think setting a number finally would be a healthy thing to do.  I have not stepped on the scale in awhile, but I suspect I'm back over 200 pounds again.  Not great, but it is what it is.  I figure if I'm in the 180s by March, I'll have a better sense if my goal looks like 160s or 140s.  We'll see.

So on to the monthly goals!  I have actually missed doing this and looking back, I had much better success with setting small monthly goals to keep things fresh and exciting.  I tend to get bored very easily, so having an expiration date on specific goals works really well for me.  Depending on the goal, some of these even end up being daily habits

January Goals

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 15-30 minutes on stair stepper every day

Nothing too crazy at all there, it's all about a nutrition goal and a fitness goal that are easily attainable and contribute to my overall yearly goals.  One of my favorite challenges in our Lovely Ladies group was the fruit and vegetable challenge, mainly because I love those things and fitting them into my diet is easy for me!  I think it will be a great way to ease back into tracking food and making things a habit.  It also challenges me to cook more and try different recipes.  On that fitness goal, I haven't written much about my stair stepper yet, but I got a very nifty little portable stair stepper that weighs about 15 pounds.  The weather this winter has been crappy AF, and without any running goals I've been kind of waving in the wind, so I figured it would be a good option.  I haven't used it a ton so far, so I didn't feel right about writing a review about it, but I will once I get some more experience with it!

When I think of personal goals for 2016, the main thing that comes to mind is that I need less in my life.  Less commitments, less social media, less staring at a screen, less brain drain.  I feel a little consumed and out of control when it comes to technology, and maybe that's just me getting older and freaking out or something, but I'm tired of looking down at a smart phone and not paying attention to what's around me.  I'm also tired of being so busy all of the time, and I really want to dial back my life in the sense of doing things that center more around home and getting quiet enjoyment out of stuff around the house.  I just want to simplify my life, go back to indulging in small pleasures and have life feel less chaotic.

Personal Goals

1)  Prioritize shows/events and start being more choosy about commitments.  We go to a shit ton of stuff, all of the time, and frankly it's become exhausting.  I didn't even write about half of the stuff we did in 2015 because I couldn't even keep up with it, and December was especially nuts.  There comes a point where if all you're thinking is "Okay I just have to endure these things and then I'll have a free day", then there's no point in spending the money on those events.  We are definitely taking a hard look at things and seeing what we can cut out and making sure the things we go to are "We'll feel really hardcore bummed for the rest of our lives if we miss this" type stuff.  Eric has one such concert for next year (Bruce Springsteen) that we're going to, and I have earmarked Brian Wilson's potential Pet Sounds tour as a non-negotiable "I gotta go" for me.  Other than that, we're scaling way back.

2)  Make reading a priority.  In my younger years I was a voracious reader and would consume books at an insane rate that served me very well in school and into college.  I majored in English in college, and my love of books and ability to speed read really served me well in school.  For some reason though in the last 5-6 years I've really kind of stopped reading, and I totally equate it to getting smart phones and being more involved in social media.  I used to read 12-20 books a year, now I'm lucky if I read 2 a year.  I really want to make it a goal to read a little every single day, even if it's a magazine, and just get back into the habit.  I feel a lot more relaxed and mentally balanced when I am upstairs in bed reading, and obviously it's better for my brain and eyes.

3)  Less screen time.  This kind of goes hand in hand with the reading goal, but I honestly am disgusted with myself by how much time I spend on the computer and staring at my phone or the TV.  And when I think about it, I'm not getting anything out of it really.  I mean yeah, I have TV shows I enjoy but for the most part we're watching Seinfeld or Family Guy reruns 90% of the time.  As far as social media, I just don't feel quality engagement with people beyond a handful of friends and my LLL FB group.  I mean, why am I constantly checking my social media stuff, specifically Facebook?  It's no longer cool vacation photos or what's going on in my friend's lives, it's all political memes and that "Copy and paste this status or you hate the troops and kids with Down Syndrome" kind of bullshit.  I also feel like the social media tide has turned to where people don't interact or engage with each other on life type stuff that's posted, it's like people just creep your shit, and I hate that.  I'm not exactly missing out on thrilling stuff here, so I'm going to dial it back and prioritize reading and listening to music at least 2 nights a week.  I feel like reading and music will enrich my life a whole lot more than knowing what so and so thinks of the social issue du jour.

4)  Get my passport!  So I am a bit ashamed of this fact but...I have never been out of the country, not even to Canada or Mexico.  I do not currently have a passport and as dramatic as it may sound I am very ashamed about this.  It just kind of makes me feel like a bumpkin or something, it's hard to explain.  There is so much of the world to see and so much culture to be exposed to, so I am very determined to get my passport now that my life has calmed down and start making travel a priority.  We are hoping to perhaps take a short trip to Canada to get my feet wet on the "international" travel thing, and then plan to do a nice trip for our 10th anniversary in 2017.  

5)  Get the house in shape.  I did better with this when I was unemployed because I had the time obviously, but I really want to get back into decluttering our house and making things more streamlined for 2016.  I think picking a room a month and slowly clearing it out and organizing is a pretty manageable goal.  I am not a huge clean freak, but living with Eric has rubbed off on me enough to where I'm getting the heebie jeebies about how much stuff we have and how the house could really use a deep clean.  I'm not as attached to "stuff" anymore, so I am definitely ready to clear out our house a bit.

I am feeling so relieved and optimistic about 2016.  I am looking forward to slowing down and appreciating the little things.  What do you guys want from 2016?  What are your goals?

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 - A Year in Review

It's so hard to believe we are in the last days of 2015, and I know I need to write some kind of recap post, but this year has not been like other years.  2015 has been ...weird.  In some ways it's been positively awful and in other ways there have been so many positive things that have happened that there is no possible way I could complain.  While I wasn't exactly sure how to frame this recap, I decided to focus on the positive for my recap post, and there is definitely a lot of good to focus on!

1.  I changed jobs and it changed my life

I started out as unemployed at the beginning of the year after leaving a very toxic job after 9 years.  (For the record, the job did not start as toxic, but sadly ended up very much that way.)  It was heartbreaking to leave and I think a lot of people thought I was insane for leaving a job that paid so well and had great benefits.  Despite it being the right thing to do from a moral and a health standpoint, it was an incredibly scary period of my life, and there were so many times I questioned whether I did the right thing.  I worked at a winery for a period of time to blow off steam, then decided to focus on finally finding a job that was the right fit for me.

Then it happened, this summer I was able to get a job this year at the company where Eric works, and it's honestly a dream situation.  It's the type of job people told me doesn't exist anymore:  there's no pressure to be fake, there is no jumping through hoops to climb a corporate ladder, and there is work/life balance.  I work for 8 hours and go home to my personal life, and there is no laptop/work phone/travel.  My boss is a kind person who trusts us to do our work and doesn't breathe down our neck about anything.  I don't have to kiss anyone's ass, I can just be myself, work hard and be nice, and it's like I'm the bee's knees.  It's absolutely night and day from what I came from, and I am just so absolutely grateful.  I shudder when I think about how much precious time I wasted at a job I hated, and how much I let it affect my mental health, physical health and my personal life.  Now I come home feeling relaxed and good about myself, my blood pressure is in check, and I haven't been in tears once over this job.  Imagine that!

There were so many lessons I learned from leaving my old job.  That money definitely is not the key to happiness, that sometimes in life it pays off to be really uncomfortable and scared, and that taking a risk in the name of happiness is always more rewarding than being comfortable with the devil you know.

2.  I discovered I'm tougher than I thought

The hits came hard and fast this year between the stress of unemployment, trying to train in the record breaking hottest summer since 2009, constantly being injured and obviously the very heartbreaking situation I've had with my family.  I am not going to lie, there were many times this year when I wondered if things were ever going to end and if I'd ever feel happy or normal ever again.  Honestly there are still pockets of that here and there, but I am surviving and I am managing to come out on top somewhat!

If I were to be perfectly honest, I wanted nothing more than to bow out of Seattle.  My depression was so great and things were such that I just couldn't fathom having to rally and finish my half marathon.  But I pushed, and I did it, and I am so immensely proud of that.  I didn't back down, I didn't let the bad stuff defeat me, and I have a lovely weekend in Seattle and a PR to show for it.

As a person I feel stronger.  I mean there are some days I'm having to "fake it till I make it", but for the most part I didn't let everything that happened completely knock me down.  I'm moving forward as best as I know how, and moving forward is always better than standing still or stepping backwards, right?

3.  Real, lasting friendships have come into my life this year

The latter part of this year has been crappy, no doubt, but I can't fully wallow.  I've met people this year who have unexpectedly become like family to me, and it's oddly become the year of the "internet friend" for me.

I don't make friends easily.  I have a difficult time trusting people and fully allowing people past my emotional wall.  I tend to keep people at arm's length, a practice which somewhat came crashing down on me once I quit my job.  The beginning of the year was hell because I felt so isolated and alone, but then my life changed after joining my Lovely Ladies Facebook group.  I truly don't know where I'd be without my Lovely Ladies.  I was skeptical about joining the group at first because those types of interactions have just never worked out for me, and the subject of weight loss and fitness tends to make people crazy.  Everyone has opinions on what's "right", they judge you and there are inevitably disagreements.  Plus there's just the typical "people" type stuff  that we humans often disagree on, such as politics/religion/etc.  It could have been ugly, but the group has somehow become one of the best things to ever happen to me in my life.

Somehow between the plank challenges, food goals, Star Wars discussions and unanimously agreeing that Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon is totally bangable (ok, Alan Rickman in any context is bangable), something wonderful happened.  We all became friends.  Really good friends.  The support extends far beyond "oh, I want to eat 9 chocolate bars because I'm sad, please talk me out of it" type thing.  I don't really know if they know this, but there were times at the beginning of this year where the only people who spoke to me aside from Eric on a daily basis were my Lovely Ladies.  When I was my most sad, isolated, lonely, and fearful, I knew I could make a post in the group and at least have some kind of human contact for the day.  It truly saved my sanity (and probably Eric's too) during a very scary time when I was unemployed.  We've shared some painful issues with one another, we've vented, we've all asked for the other's advice at some point or another and they are the best cheerleaders anyone could ask for.  And the best part is, there has never once been judgement from anyone towards the other.  Not for our preferred weight loss methods and certainly not for our personal issues.  They've done everything for me from vet interview outfits to being a safe place to vent about my family issues.  It's truly been one of the best things to happen to me this year.  If you'd told me a year ago that I'd have an internet group that I was doing Secret Santa exchanges with and having serious planning/discussions about a group vacation, I would have said you were insane.  Yet, here we are, and I am so thankful.

I also must speak of a friend who I've reconnected with this year, one of my dearest friends from high school in fact.  We went about 5 or 6 years without speaking, the details surrounding that are honestly not important, but it has always bothered me and weighed on my heart.  It truly felt like a piece of my life was missing and finally this year I couldn't bear it anymore.  I decided to put my pride away and reach out to her, and amazingly enough she was feeling the exact same way.  I feel so thankful and so blessed, and it gives me such joy now to be able to talk with her on a regular basis again.  I'd so missed her humor, spirit and our shared geekiness, and having a friend like that back in my life is more than anyone could ask for or I deserve.  She helped me through the dark time during the summer when all the family stuff was going on, and it was so, so helpful.  Love you M, you are very, very important to me and I am so happy we are in each other's lives again!

At the end of the day, I don't know how I ended the year with these wonderful, solid people in my life, but I am so grateful.  All of these friendships pulled me through a dark time and gave me a safe place to land, and I thank you all!

4.  I made fantastic strides with my health

Despite the setbacks during the latter part of this year, I feel like this was the year that I finally got a handle on things.  There's no more fad diets in my future, no more crazy elimination stuff, no more feeling guilty.  Just simple calorie counting and eating the things that make me happy.  I've lost about 30 pounds, and though I still have tons of progress to make, I definitely feel proud of what I've done and more mentally stable about weight loss than I ever have been my whole life.  I feel pretty, I feel normal and I feel good about myself.  And you know what, that's kind of damn awesome.

I also ran 6 races this year, which is more than I'd remembered doing!
  • Shamrock 8k, 
  • Double 5 Challenge 5 miler
  • Starlight Run
  • Halloweenathon 5k
  • Seattle Half Marathon 
  • The 12ks of Christmas

5.  We saw some good shows this year

I'm pretty confident this is one of the crazier concert years we've had, or at least the concerts we attended all seemed to be clustered together.  Music is a huge part of my life and very important to me, and we definitely had a very blessed year with some of the people we saw.  I mean, we saw Paul and Ringo sing together for God's sake!   The Brian Wilson show was a particularly one of those shows where I felt humbled and privileged to even be in the same room hearing his beautiful music.  Here's the tally of all the shows we saw!
  • 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 
  • Doobie Brothers
  • Rush
  • Brian Wilson
  • Living Colour/Aerosmith
  • Def Leppard/Styx/Tesla
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Death
  • Alice Cooper/Motley Crue
So while I will stop short of saying it was a "great" year, it definitely was an interesting one with plenty of bright spots and blessings!  I am looking forward to turning the page in 2016 and having a brand new clean slate.  I will be posting my 2016 goals very soon, and I am very excited and relieved for those to begin!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mary's Day Off

So full disclosure, my birthday was on Thursday.  Basically yes I'm a year older and still no wiser or emotionally mature.  :)  I will say, I did have a lovely birthday on the actual day.  I usually run my age in miles, but we've been having the crappiest weather ever lately, so I decided to walk my 3.6 miles during lunch instead.  It was storming and freezing, but I just grabbed an umbrella and made it happen.

Eric took me to a nice dinner in Portland that night and I had a really wonderful time!  Friday I treated myself to a vacation day, and I swear, sometimes the best "vacations" are when you're just hanging out on your own and doing your thing.  So what did I do Friday?

1.  Molly and I resurrected the long walk

So when I was unemployed, one of the things I enjoyed most was being able to take Molly for a nice long walk every morning.  Without fail we'd go around the same time every morning to the same neighborhood and do anywhere from 1-4 miles depending on her energy level.  Molly amassed a little fan club of adorable older men and women who always stopped to dote on her every morning.  Obviously I was happy when I got a job again, but I do really miss being able to take Molly out and have one on one time with her.  She kind of gets 2 lame short walks around our neighborhood, which is about as nice and fascinating as a prison yard.

When I knew I was getting this day off, one of the things I looked forward to the most was taking my baby for a long walk, and she was SO excited.  Unfortunately the weather has been the absolute pits lately, so I literally had to check Weather.com for the hourly forecast to see when we'd hit a dry hour.  We were successful though and got a mile in before the rain started again!  Molly was so happy, which made me happy.  She even got bonus Momma time  because I took her in the car with me on errands a couple of times.  She's been clingy lately because we've been gone so much, so I know it made her happy to be able to hang with me.  

2.  I got in the Christmas spirit

I had about a billion presents to wrap, so I turned on the movie "Love Actually" and wrapped everyone's stuff, even Molly's presents and presents for my aunt's cats!  It felt like a huge accomplishment to get it all done, and I had fun watching the movie too.  It made me think of my amazing Lovely Ladies group!

3.  I treated myself

I've really been jonesing for a vinyl shopping trip, so I decided to treat myself at our local record shop and buy a couple of things for myself for my birthday.  I didn't really have time to do my usual bargain bin digging, but I bought myself a brand spanking new copy of Pet Sounds, as well as an earlier Beach Boys album.  Now that things are calming down, I can't wait to put Pet Sounds on this week and listen to it!  Brian Wilson is supposed to be doing a Pet Sounds anniversary tour next year, hopefully there is a date or two near us!

4.  I got transported back to childhood [Spoiler Free!]

The day I'd been waiting on for like 2 years arrived, and yes, I'm talking about Star Wars!  I didn't go in costume per say, but I did have my adorable Star Wars tights on with a cute dress, plus my R2-D2 scarf that Eric got me along with an awesome R2-D2 ring that my friend M bought me as a birthday present.

Obviously I won't write any spoilers, but for me the movie definitely lived up to the hype.  I didn't expect to get so emotional, but I started crying the second the credits came on and was super emotional during several parts of the movie.  I think even my stoic husband was misty during a couple of parts.  I wasn't expecting to warm up to the "new" characters, but ended up being won over by all of them (Rey is amazing!) and my heart just totally stolen by the new droid BB-8!  The script and the casting for the movie was just perfect!  If you're a fan, you'll definitely like the movie.

The rest of the weekend was decent, though I unfortunately started getting sick late Saturday and felt like absolute garbage all day yesterday and feel even worse today.  I had to take my first sick day ever from work today, lame.

I did end up passing my Level 2 certification for the shelter on Saturday, though things are such that I don't foresee being able to practice my skills or benefit from the new level much until we get another Level 1 on my shift.  Cleaning the dog's kennels while they are being walked is priority, so on Sunday that was 98% of my shift.  (That and dealing with a scary AF situation with a terrifying German Shepard who I think might actually be insane).  I got about 5 whole minutes to spend with the dogs in the kennels doing training and enrichment, which made me kind of sad.  I reached out to our volunteer coordinator to let her know we need an extra person, so hopefully they can get some help soon.  We've just had a crushing volume of dogs lately compared to when I first started, which is a lot of the problem.  Sadly I don't see that improving anytime soon.

I was happy working with the handful of dogs I got to spend time with, some of them really are so smart.  One of them is a 10 month old Black Lab, who I suspect was gotten as a puppy, never trained and then dumped at the shelter when the person couldn't handle her.  She is just insanely excited all of the time and loves to jump, but actually is quite smart once you work with her.  I spent a few minutes with her, and was able to get her to sit very readily and worked with her on settling on her bed and practicing the wait command.  It was SO hard for her, but I was proud of her for restraining herself even for a few seconds when asked.  You can tell it's hard for her to practice impulse control, but she's so sweet and wants so badly to please that she tries her best.  Hopefully once she's officially up for adoption, the right person can take her and work with her.  I suspect with continued training she'll make a very lovely and smart dog for someone.  I even worked with Mr. Barksalot border collie who has been the bane of my existence the last few shifts, and just like most BCs he is incredibly intelligent and immediately ready to "work".  Of course he has no issues with simple stuff like sit/stand/down/wait, it's just going apeshit over other dogs.  He was more affectionate than I anticipated, and enjoyed being petted, so that buttered me up towards him just slightly.  ;)

Last night we went to see the Nutcracker, which was lovely and also signaled the end of our obligations for December.  He and I are both so relieved, even though I am disgustingly sick (seriously, every f'ing Christmas for the last 3 Christmases), I am so happy to be able to be home tonight RELAXING.  Everything is done, I have no where else to go or anything to do.  It's amazing.  We are definitely reevaluating things and making sure that 2016 won't be like 2015 was.  I mean it was fun/real, whatever, but we crammed way too much in and it shifted from being fun to being something to endure.  Not much point in that.

I can't believe Christmas is this week!  Are you guys prepared?  We're pretty much ready, I just have to go shopping this week for the smaller stuff I need, and then we pick up our prime rib on Wednesday!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Class of 2016

It's not fitness related but I had to take a minute to comment on one of my biggest passions, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!  The Class of 2016 was announced this morning (well, Eddie Trunk actually leaked it last night), and I couldn't be more pleased with this year's class:

  • Cheap Trick
  • Chicago
  • Deep Purple
  • N.W.A.
  • Steve Miller

Any of the nominees in the running this year (other than Chic and Chaka Khan) would have made me happy honestly, but you can't get much better than this class.  I was mostly ecstatic that N.W.A. got in, they were the band I was pulling for the most.  Of course there's always the "herp a derp, it's not the RAP Hall of Fame" people, but honestly screw them lol.  I've spoken about my feelings on the subject of N.W.A. and rap acts getting into the Rock Hall before, but my definition of rock and roll tends to be somewhat broad.  A band like N.W.A. pushed boundaries, and their music is full of defiance, protest, shirking authority and confronting injustice.  Their music makes people uncomfortable, and honestly, sometimes music should make you uncomfortable and make you question the ways of the world.  To me they are pure rock and roll, and I highly recommend people seeing the movie Straight Outta Compton.  Besides the fact that it was a great movie, I think it would give people respect or at least understanding of where they came from and why their work is important to music.

A lot of people were bothered that a woman was not part of the final class this year, and I suppose I'm a bad feminist because I was not quite as bothered by that this year as I have been past years.  For me, and this is just me personally, Janet and Chaka just were not strong arguments for the Hall compared to some of the other nominees.  I don't want women to get in just because they're women, I want them to be the best woman you know what I mean?  Again, I know both of those ladies have passionate fan bases, and I'm not saying they should NEVER get in, but they are not as glaring of an omission as say Chicago or Deep Purple.

Lots of people ask me questions about the Rock Hall, who is in/not in so I put a couple of links below from my favorite site Future Rock Legends.  Neil has the most professional, comprehensive overview of everything Rock Hall and it's awesome!

Future Eligible Artists by Year - Pearl Jam eligible next year!
The Snubbed List - Lots of forehead smacking on this list of wonderful artists who have yet to be nominated.  Seriously, many will shock and infuriate you.  I mean Jim Croce?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tetrazzini and Getting My Ks On

Hola!  I survived my weekend, and it was actually tons of fun and very busy!


Saturday began with us sampling one of my freezer breakfast creations, the baked French toast sticks, and I have to say that I was very impressed!  I am not a huge French toast person believe it or not, but I liked these because they were actually not super soggy/eggy and weren't super sweet.  A serving of 3 sticks is only 205 calories, if y'all are curious.

After that I got dressed and ready to do my first 1k walk for my 12ks of Christmas race.  I talked Eric into going with Molly and I even though the weather was super crappy and cold.

Yes I like to ambush my poor loving husband and take pictures of him when he is unaware.  ;)

I was smiling through the pain/rain/cold, but Molly has no such poker face, so I cracked up at her bewildered expression in this picture.

Afterwards I picked up some last minute stuff for my Lovely Ladies Secret Santa and got her stuff wrapped and boxed up.  I hope she likes everything and that nothing breaks in shipping!  Also confession:  This is my first Secret Santa ever!

Afterwards we kind of chilled out before getting ready to go to our third and final party of the week, a birthday party for one of our longtime friends and ex-coworkers.  Eric, Will and I were the only people on our team in the Oregon office back in the "good old days", and were all very close.  Will left Place That Shall Not Be Named several years before we did, and sadly we just don't get to see him that often other than during his fabulous horror movie marathon around Halloween.  This year we were finally able to make one of his birthday parties, which was at his house and catered by an Ethiopian restaurant.  I'd admittedly never tried Ethiopian food, but I love trying new things and am not picky, so I was definitely game.  Everything was so delicious!!  I especially fell in love with the bread served with the meal, which was called Injera.  It looked a lot like a crepe but was slightly thicker and had a sour taste to it, and you basically use it to eat the food instead of using a fork.  It was so delicious and addictive!

We had so much fun at the party.  Will is hilarious and we were both doubled over laughing until we had headaches almost, just recounting the old days and joking around about other stuff.  He'd also invited a mutual friend of ours we hadn't seen in awhile, which was great since we got to catch up with him and I finally got to meet his girlfriend!


Sunday I tested out another freezer breakfast creation from the other day, the spinach and egg breakfast sandwiches.  I thought they were pretty good, although I fully admit to not being too jazzed about the whole wheat English muffins and would have much preferred a sourdough or white muffin.  It wasn't bad and I'll certainly happily eat the ones I made, but I would definitely make them with different muffins next time.  They are 267 calories each, definitely very reasonable for breakfast.

Afterwards I did my Day 2 1k with Miss Molly, and she even "PR'd" on her walk time.  ;)

Yes, she still looks like I abuse her because I take her on walks.  She looks like a depressed praying mantis.

This week's shelter shift wasn't as bad as last, but it was still really busy.  The one insane dog was still there making all of the other dogs go insane, but he seemed slightly more responsive to being redirected this week than last.  I managed to get all of the laundry done and folded, plus all of the dishes washed, all while helping the Level 3 people clean dog kennels.  I still don't know how I did it!  At least I worked up quite the sweat.  I was able to get my Level 2 certification rescheduled for Saturday, so wish me luck!

As promised I came home afterwards and worked on putting together some freezer casseroles.  I picked two to concentrate on, the Sour Cream Noodle Bake from Pioneer Woman and the Chicken Tetrazzini from Cooking Light.  I love both of these recipes so much, so it's exciting to have a few of them waiting for me in the freezer.  I used ground turkey instead of beef for the noodle bake and made a double batch of it.  I made one pan that had 4 servings worth (Sunday and Monday dinner!), and then froze the rest in small two serving pans.  I made a double batch of the tetrazzini and froze servings in various sized pans ranging from 4-2 servings.

That's 5 pans worth of tetrazzini!  Thank goodness I like it so much.  I am going to brainstorm what the next freezer meals I'm going to make are, then spend most of my day off making those recipes.  By the end of the week we should have a nice assortment to choose from in the freezer.

Our Busy Week

This week is going to be kind of insane but it's fun stuff, and it's also the last crazy week of the year, thank God!

- Tuesday we will be seeing the Motley Crue/Alice Cooper concert, and you bet your sweet ass I will be quoting this scene from Wayne's World
- Thursday we are going out to eat to celebrate another year of me being old and crotchety.
- Friday....do I even need to say it?  Ok, STAR WARS!!!!!!!!!
- Saturday is my Level 2 certification
- Sunday we are dolling up and going to see the Nutcracker  :)
- Throughout the week I will continue getting in my miles for the 12k race, plus testing out a new portable stair stepper that I bought and will be reviewing for you soon!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Stress-mas and the Burritos

For many years, I have scoffed when people talk about how stressful the Christmas season is, have been troubled at how many women's magazines (it's always women's magazines isn't it) give tips on how to destress during the holidays, and get bummed out when people are angry and mean during the holidays.  Now here I am eating crow.  By the way, I wonder if there is an entry for crow on My Fitness Pal?

Has anyone heard  the song "Suddenly It's Christmas" by Loudon Wainwright?  It pretty much sums up my feelings right now.

We majorly overbooked ourselves in December in an already overly booked year, and yesterday I hit the wall a bit.  Not in a dramatic way, but I am definitely stressed out, and it seems every time we turn around there is a party or an event we have to go to, all things that we can't decline.  It's been like that all year and I was just kind of over it yesterday.  And all of that sounds so stupid, entitled and typically American, and I hate myself for even typing it out.  The horror and suffering, I have too many parties!   Call the Syrian refugees and tell them Mary's got bigger issues, she has nice people in her life who invite her to things.

I am a bit introverted and only have so much social toleration in my emotional bank so to speak.  Several parties in one week, even with people I care about is just a bit overwhelming from an emotional standpoint.  That much people time exhausts me, which sounds awful, but is just how it goes.  We also have so little free time that I don't even have time to grocery shop, and even if I did, we're not there to eat the food anyways.  I suddenly started panicking yesterday because I can't get into the routine I need to be in that will make me successful at weight loss.  I got into this total mental freak out about it, convinced I was going to gain all of my weight back, and all of these other crazy things.  I truly, truly want to get back to the dedicated place I was at the beginning of the year, but I know myself very well...until I can get into a routine, it ain't gonna happen.

And I start wringing my hands about that a lot.  Part of me is like, "oh that's all excuses, if you really wanted it you'd just do it", and then I feel bad about myself.  That was the cycle I was in yesterday, so I posted an SOS/vent on my ladies group page yesterday, and funny enough, it seemed like everyone is in the same boat.  It's such a relief, well not that I want others to feel overwhelmed, but just to not feel alone.  Most of the women in the group are also introverts, so they knew exactly what I was talking about.  And I felt less bad about myself and am just trying to do the mantra of "this is how things are for 2 weeks, they will not be like this forever."  I have made peace that I don't have the ability to be perfect for 2 weeks or so, and that's just who I am, for better or worse.  I have small opportunities to make good choices when I can, and I will have to take those opportunities and forgive myself for all of the other ones.

One of the good choices I made last night was planning for when things won't be apeshit, and putting together a plan of freezer meals that will be ready to deploy so that I can immediately get into healthy habits and things are easily trackable.  I had a free night last night, so I sucked it up and went to the store so that I could make the first round of stuff, which were actually a bunch of freezer breakfasts  that I found on this link:  Freezer Breakfast Ideas.  Last night I made breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches and a mountain of French toast sticks.  Sadly I was so in the zone that I didn't take pictures of the process, but all of the recipes were easy to make and things went well. While I was exhausted by the time I got done, I was so pleased with how everything turned out!  I ended up with 12 breakfast sandwiches (egg, spinach, chicken sausage), 7 burritos (eggs, hash browns, chicken sausage) and an ungodly number of French toast sticks.  I used the whole loaf of Texas toast and made multiple batches, because, why not.  I logged all of the recipes in My Fitness Pal, so not only can I grab and go in the mornings, the logging will be easy!

We tested out the burritos this morning and I was very happy with them.  Eric threw them in the oven at 350 degrees straight from the freezer as soon as he got up this morning, and we let them hang out in there until we were ready to leave for work.  They stayed nice and hot through the commute and it was perfect by the time I was able to eat mine.  After weeks of hurried mindless grabbing of cottage cheese or yogurt in the mornings, it was nice to have a substantial hot breakfast that will leave me full until lunch.  It also reminded me of my breakfast burrito obsession at the beginning of the year when I was dedicated to my weight loss, so that was nice too.  I am definitely taking some more time this weekend and making a few more of these to stash in the freezer!

As evidenced by the giant bottle, I am obsessed with that hot sauce, although I can never remember the name of it.  I usually just call it my Chula Vista sauce since all I ever remember is that the name starts with a C.  ;)

Sunday will be somewhat free, so I am going to concentrate on making freezer casseroles for us and continue adding a bank of meals to our freezer.  The act of making the freezer food calmed me down a bit, because now I know that I will have plenty of food measured out and ready to be cooked, which will save me so much time and allow me to get back into my routine.  Knowing that when things are more mellow and calm, I won't have to start from scratch cooking, measuring and all that jazz is a huge relief.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  We have a party tonight and tomorrow, and then I will have my shelter shift on Sunday as usual.  My virtual race for the 12ks of Christmas also begins tomorrow!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Circling Back

With all the Seattle stuff I didn't blog about some fun stuff that we had going on for the past few days, so I wanted to go back and recap!


Friday was such a great day!  I started out the day by finally getting to meet one of my Lovely Lady group members in person!  Jessica was in town for work reasons, and we somehow managed to finagle a breakfast together on her last day here in Portland.  It was surreal to finally meet one of the wonderful women I've been talking to for almost a year.  I usually am quite nervous with "new" people, but I felt instant comfort with Jessica and we immediately hugged and began having regular old conversations just like we do all day on Facebook!

Jessica blogs over at A Little More Each Day, so you should go check her out and follow her!  She is such an inspirational runner and always gets it done!  I feel very blessed to have made these great, interesting friends this year.  Every day I find out more things about our group and the women in it that make me love them a little more.

After Jessica and I parted ways, I went back home and then came back out to Portland with Eric for the Holiday Ale Fest, which is an annual tradition for us.  And yes, we do take public transit and don't drive too and from.  Now admittedly, we've gone a bit insane in the past at Ale Fest, easy enough to do when you get multiple tastings of beer that are anywhere from 8% to 12% ABV!  This year though we were both really good.  We sat down with the program on Thursday and marked down the beers we wanted to try the most, and since some of our wants overlapped, we decided that one person could get Beer A and another get Beer B.  That way we both could try the other's beer to see if it was something we wanted a full taste of rather than wasting a ticket.  There were several times where I was like, "eh" and decided to use my ticket for something I liked better.  Another thing we did this year was dump beer we were not in love with rather than drink it anyway, and while it sounds wasteful, working in the wine industry helped me be a lot more at peace with dumping.  It really does save you from getting obliterated!

Between sharing tastes, dumping, making sure we ate and drank water, I felt buzzed but not insane by the time we left.  Trust me, it is definitely an improvement from years past.  I drank plenty of water when I got home and actually felt fine the next day, which is definitely a victory!  Before we left we stopped at the Oregon Lottery booth since they always do a free photo booth thing.  I loved the picture we took!


On Saturday I was supposed to get my level 2 certification for the shelter I volunteer at, but unfortunately there was some kind of miscommunication and the person who was supposed to mentor and test me didn't show up.  I was totally bummed, I love volunteering at the shelter and am happy to help in any way I can, but I am definitely ready to move up the ranks from laundry and dish duty.  I know that stuff is vital to keeping a shelter running, but I've spent enough weekends since August elbow deep in laundry soaked with cat piss and crusty food bowls, plus hosing dog poop out of kennels that I feel like I've paid my dues and am ready to move up!

As a level 2 I'd be able to get in the kennels with the dogs and work on basic training and socialization skills with them.  Definitely sounds like more fun than washing litter pans!

Since that was a bust, I came home and Eric and I spent a very pleasant afternoon listening to the jazz station and not talking at all.  He sat and browsed on the internet, and I started a recipe organization project.  I know all of that sounds boring, but with the craziness of the last few months it was nice to just sit quietly and do something simple.


Sunday morning was my shelter shift, which cue sad trombone because I thought I'd be playing with dogs in their kennels, but was back into laundry duty.  The dogs in the shelter this week were completely insane, and it was the first time I contemplated using the ear plugs they provide for everyone.  One of the higher level volunteers who walks the dogs came to me with a look on her face akin to PTSD, and asked if I could help her out by calming down the dogs when when was taking each dog out for a walk.  I felt bad for her, because the other dogs were barking so much and going crazy that they were scaring some of the shy dogs and making them not want to leave their kennels.  My job was to stand in front of the reactive dog's kennels and toss pieces of treats and kibble to them and get their focus on something else.  She and I made a pretty good team, and I was able to get some of the dogs to a calmer state with the exception of one dog, who was just an asshole no matter what you did.  I definitely felt rattled by the time I left the shelter.  Hopefully next week some of the dogs are in a better state of mind!

Afterwards Eric and I went to pick out our Christmas tree and get it decorated.  We got a beautiful 6 foot Nordmann Fir and had a really nice afternoon decorating and listening to Christmas music!

This week is going to be a bit busy with tons of Christmas parties!  I am definitely looking forward to the year slowing down!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Seattle Part 3: Final Thoughts and What's Next

This is the last of my "Seattle Series" posts, and I just kind of wanted to wrap up this chapter, because it definitely feels like a different chapter of my life going forward.

Did the Half Help or Hurt Me?

Overall, Seattle felt like a bit of a reset button on a really, really crappy year.  I went into the experience depressed, nervous and without much hope.  I left with a PR, a lot of confidence, pride and a ton of wonderful memories between the race and the fantastic time spent with family.  I also left with the realization that I don't think a second marathon is in the cards for me.  When I was passing all of the mile markers for the marathon runners, at EVERY single one of them I mentally felt so grateful that I dropped to the half.  I felt just as much pride and happiness finishing the half marathon as I did the full.  I think the act of doing this half despite everything this year threw at me was the equivalent of running a marathon, and I'm okay with that.

It's hard to explain, but I'm such a different person after the whole deal with my family earlier this year.  Whatever part of me had the need and drive to "prove" my worth by doing a full marathon in under 7 hours seemed to die in August.  A marathon doesn't seem appealing at all, not because of the work it takes, but because I don't think it will fulfill my needs.  I know I'm not explaining it in a way that makes sense, but that's how I feel.

I fully admit that despite having such a great time and feeling so proud of my accomplishment, I'm relieved to not really have a race looming over me that I HAVE to do.  I had so much money wrapped up in Seattle that I really didn't have a choice in doing it, and it was a lot of pressure.  I find it interesting that a lot of the depression and anxiety I was feeling even two weeks ago has definitely improved once I crossed the finish line, it was almost like it released me to do other things with my life.  It's very hard to explain.  I got to the point towards the end of training where I felt guilty doing any kind of activity that wasn't running, even when I was hurt, since I was "supposed" to be training for the race.  Now I feel like I can focus on other things than running and not feel guilty about it.  I know that sounds insane, it's not like someone is going to cane me in an alleyway for not running and it's all self imposed guilt, but nevertheless!

What's Next?

So what's next for me?  Running wise, not a whole lot.  I am participating in a virtual race called the 12ks of Christmas, where starting on December 12th you run or walk 1k (0.62 miles) every day until the 24th.  You report your times to the race company and they send you a cute medal, easy as pie!  I will definitely be walking this one, I really and truly need a break from running since I'm kind of soured on it right now.

My main focus for awhile is going to be getting back into healthy weight loss habits, which is something that really got tossed to the side during all this training stuff.  My weight has mostly stayed the same and while that's great, I have a lot more that I need to lose and I really want to be near goal by the summer.  I'm not happy with my body shape right now, and there's just really only one thing to do about that!

Getting back into the habit of being religious about My Fitness Pal is going to be a big focus for me, as well as eating within my calorie goals and going back to moderate 80/20 eating instead of the full blown apeshit diet that I've currently been living.  It will be an adjustment since running lets you get away with calorie murder basically, but I'm ready for the challenge!  I am still on the fence about what "goal" looks like.  I found myself not hating my body in the pictures we took in Seattle, and I'm in the 190s.  I honestly wonder if I'll be just as happy in the 160-170 pound range as I would be working toward the 140s.  I guess I won't know until I get there.

From a fitness standpoint, I intend to go back to what I was doing at the beginning of the year, which basically is whatever sounds good at the moment.  Again, I felt like I was most successful and happy when I just kind of rolled with whatever sounded good that day just as long as I was being active.  I already feel enthusiasm towards working on some fitness goals, and I can tell you, it's definitely different than how I've felt.  Right now I am challenging myself to do several of the 30 Day Fitness Challenges at once:  the wall sit, the plank, the arm and butt challenges specifically.  I really liked how my body looked when I was focusing on these types of challenges earlier in the year, and I feel like I really need some muscle tone and some help to shape my body, so it will be a nice change of pace.  That 30DFC site is great because the exercises are so fast and you can basically do them whenever and split them throughout the day if you're doing a couple of the challenges.  And it's free, so who doesn't love that?  I've been doing those challenges as of December 1st, and while they're tough, I'm enjoying them!

Overall, I'm ready to be happy and have fun again with my weight loss.  I know that sounds crazy and that weight loss couldn't possibly be fun, but it totally was at the beginning of the year!  I'm happy to now be in a position to get back to that place and continue making strides with my body.  I miss hitting milestones and feeling like I reached the goals I set out for myself.  I definitely need a more worthy goal than "hopefully I can survive this race."  I just honestly feel like I'm going through yet another "who am I" reinvention.  I'm just hoping I can get back the fire I had at the beginning of the year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Seattle Part 2 - Eat Like a Roman, Laugh Like a Maniac

Part 2 of my Seattle series will focus on all of our touristy adventures there, so it's going to have a "your Nana pulling out all her cruise vacation photos" feel to it.  If you're not down, you're better off skipping it.  ;)

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day, Turkey Trot, Travel)

We left for Seattle on Thursday, but not before I participated in my friend Meg's "Screw the Crowds" virtual Turkey Trot early that morning.  Molly and I headed out in the toasty 30 degree weather and got our 5k walk in (well Molly got more like 1.5 miles in then hung out in the car while I finished)  It was a great way to start the day!

Once I got back to the house, things got busy.  Luckily I'd packed the day before so I had all of that straight, but I had to take Molly to the kennel, and then once that was done I made and packed our dinners for the train.  I wanted dinner to be special since it was Thanksgiving, so I made all of us turkey sandwiches, but not on bread, on waffles made out of stuffing.  Oh yes, I am that outrageous.

It was actually pretty easy and it was SUPER delicious.  I took about 6 cups of stuffing (works best if it's basic and doesn't have sausage in it), 3 eggs and enough broth to make things slightly softer than a paste, but not at a liquid point.  I measured each waffle with a 1/3 cup scoop so the waffles would be uniform for sandwiches.  I loaded all of our sandwiches with turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, sliced baked sweet potatoes and a dab of cream cheese.  We were definitely getting some jealous looks on the train, and it was nice to have all the elements of a Thanksgiving dinner in a very portable way!

The train ride was fine although our train was THREE hours late.  It was my first time on a train since I was 10 years old, I went on two disastrous train trips as a kid and had vowed never to get on an Amtrak again, so it was definitely a big deal that Eric was able to convince me to do it.  Lucky we did too, apparently the I5 was a hot mess of accidents and black ice on Thanksgiving and on our return date!  The train ride was fine, and I begrudgingly agreed that it would be a decent way to get to and from Seattle.  We all checked into our AirBnB late that night and went to bed immediately.

Friday  (Experience Music Project, Packet Pickup, Toulouse Petit, Pesos, Mecca)

Friday was our action packed day since I wanted to somewhat rest my legs on Saturday before the race.  Upon a recommendation from someone on Reddit (plus research on Eric's part), we decided to have breakfast at Toulouse Petit, which was only a couple of blocks from our rental.  It was billed as a Louisiana place which always makes me do a side eye, but OMG.  It was literally one of the best breakfasts I've ever had in my life.  I got grits with this gorgeous and spicy Creole sauce that had crawfish, shrimp and andouille sausage in it.  It was so savory and absolutely heavenly.  We also shared an order of the beignets, which were only lightly powdered with sugar and came with this chicory creme anglais that was to die for.  The best part was that the portions were exactly right, and we all left feeling full but not gross.

Afterwards we went to the Experience Music Project (henceforth referred to as EMP), which I was pretty excited about since I hadn't been since 2007.  It happened to be Jimi Hendrix's birthday, so they had a bunch of special exhibits going on in his honor, as well as a super cool fantasy/sci fi/horror exhibit.  Before we went in I got up close and personal with the Space Needle.

For whatever reason they had a video game/Hello Kitty thing going on.  I don't get the Hello Kitty obsession, I mean if you like it keep doing your thang, but it just seemed like an absolutely bizarre thing to have in a music museum.  I did gravitate towards the Super Mario mural though.  ;)

After the EMP we hopped on the tram to make it down to the Westin for packet pickup.  I was really pleased with the Seattle expo, it was super organized, there were tons of cool booths (and tons of cool food samples to pilfer).  I was really happy that they let me try on the tech shirt they gave out, it was the first time I've ever had race people offer to do that.  (The large fit perfectly BTW, first time that's ever happened!) The baggie of stuff they gave us was pretty great, tons of granola bars, hemp seeds, corn cakes and other fun stuff.  Some races are so stingy with what they will give you, but the Seattle folks were pretty generous!

Oh, another thing they gave out at the packet pickup were these coupons for a free ride with Lyft.  More on that in a bit, because Lyft was the hero of Seattle!

After the packet pickup we decided to chill back at the AirBnB for a bit, then go out to dinner at this Mexican restaurant called Pesos.  It was super loud in there, but the food was so delicious.  We got some stuff to share, specifically queso  and nachos.  I also got a shrimp taco and it was absolutely to die for.  So delicious!

Afterwards, because having a bazillion margaritas is never enough right, we decided to go to this dive bar/cafe called Cafe Mecca for one last beer.  Oh man, Mecca is the very type of place I love:  unfussy, dark, quiet and not pretentious.  We had a hilarious and foul mouthed server who convinced my aunt, uncle and I to split a pitcher of beer.  By the way, the two on the left there are my wonderful aunt and uncle who I talk about all the time.  Everyone say hi to them because they are awesome!

Saturday (Seattle Underground Tour, Shunning Pike's Place Market, T.S. McHugh's) 

The plan for Saturday was to not wander around quite as much since I wanted to make sure my legs were nice and rested before the race.  We were drawn back to Toulouse Petit for breakfast (shrimp and grits this time!), then decided to do the Seattle Underground Tour, which I cannot recommend enough if you are in Seattle.  It was my first time doing it, and it was so interesting and I learned way more about Seattle than I could have ever hoped.  For instance, basically there would have been no Seattle after the great fire had it not been for a prostitute named Madame Lou.  She had great business sense and a ton of money, and she had full approval over and gave loans to businesses who otherwise could not have rebuilt after the fire.  Of course she was mostly written out of Seattle history because I guess no city wants to be the city that hookers built, but recent historians have started giving Madame Lou her due.  If you'd like to read more about her, this blog post summed her story up pretty well.

After the Underground Tour we took a Lyft to Pike's Place to have a look around and maybe get a light snack but dear God....I have never seen that many people at Pike's before.  Y'all know how I get with crowds and my anxiety, so I lasted about 5 minutes inside of Pike's.  Not only did every restaurant have over an hour wait, but I was getting enraged by women using their kid's strollers as a battering ram against my ankles.  Life tip moms, don't do that, because it's an asshole move.  When I get in those situations and my anxiety/irritation gets out of control I develop temporary Tourette's, so the lady in question who was ramming my legs got to hear exactly in great detail how I felt about it much to her wide eyed surprise.  ;)  My aunt is similar in personality and was also getting to a Tourette's place, so we decided that there was nothing in Pike's we needed that badly and that we'd be best served going to a bar.

After walking as far away as we could from the madness, we stumbled into a very dark, awesome Mexican bar that I knew I'd never remember the name of so I took a picture of the sign.  Indeed, I had no idea what the name of the place was until I inserted the picture in the post just now.  We shared a thing of queso and chips and had some of the best margaritas I've had in awhile.  My aunt and I got ridiculously giggly and my uncle threatened to cut us off.  Plot twist though, we're that giggly together whether it's margaritas or coffee.  ;)

We went back to the rental and took naps (poor Eric was starting to get a cold and was a bit wiped out), then afterwards we went to this great Irish bar named T.S. McHugh's.  Totally awesome place though it was slammed in there due to a show that was going on at Key Arena.  The fish and chips were pretty legit though and worth the wait, but the Bailey's ice cream pie was ABSOLUTELY worth the wait!

Sunday (Race Day, Pain and the Elliot Bay Oyster House)

So obviously you guys know all about my race and that it went well.  What I didn't write about was that I've been in quite a bit of pain afterwards.  I really messed up my left foot, and while it is getting better slowly, I honestly thought it was fractured after the race was done.  Not fun!  I just think I severely tweaked it.  Anyway, Sunday was pretty horrible afterwards from that standpoint, I could barely walk.  Of course that didn't stop us from walking to find brunch and Bloody Mary's....

We tried to go back to Mecca for a post race brunch but it was packed, so we ended up back at T.S. McHugh's.  I got a pretty tasty Rueben and a nice Bloody Mary, then we shuffled back to the rental to watch some football.  Sidenote...you guys know how much I hate the Seahawks with everything in my being, right?  If you're newer and not aware, you can read about my justified hatred here.  In a nutshell, Seattle is a wonderful city, their football team and the fans of said team are another matter. Anyway, I found it really amusing....Eric and I had our honeymoon in Seattle in 2007, and I swear on every religious text there is that I didn't even know who the Seattle football team was hardly because no one talked about it.  Not a single shirt, sign or an anything around the city about the Seahawks.  This trip, OMG....you couldn't turn around without seeing a Seahawks shirt, headbands, jackets...the works.  But you know, no bandwagon fans there....everyone has been a fan from day one right....

Anyways, my point in saying all of that is that the jerks played the Steelers on the day of my race in Seattle, so things were crazy and so many people were in Seahawks gear that it made me want to barf.  I pretty much demanded we go back to the rental when the game started around lunchtime so that I didn't have to listen to crazy people hooting and hollering over the game.  Of course the assholes won, but oddly enough the normal people on the streets were less obnoxious about it than most Oregon people I know.  I don't even pretend to understand it.  Not all was lost in the NFL since the Patriots got beaten by the Broncos, and Tom Brady's tears sustain me.  The Bills and Saints loss because they're just one big old "bless your hearts".  No one can accuse me of being a bandwagon fan, that's for sure.

For dinner I asked for seafood and an "opulent dessert", so we went to the Elliot Bay Oyster House.  I got the most amazing salad topped with grilled scallops, shrimp, salmon and crab.  It was so fresh and delicious!  For my dessert I picked...well, something opulent.

Afterwards we walked on the pier a bit and admired the ferris wheel.  It was foggy outside and the ferris wheel looked so pretty against it!

We got cold and wandered into a random building that had these most random wooden statues of the Rat Pack, who I absolutely love.  Who doesn't want to spend the evening hanging out with these guys?

That is really about it for all the activities we did, but I did want to circle back to my experience with Lyft.  I had never used one of the ride share things before, but we knew we were going to need to take cabs or Uber around Seattle.  I honestly forgot Lyft existed until I got that coupon code at the expo.  I figured it was a free ride, so I downloaded the app, and as a reward they gave me $50 worth of ride credit on top of the 1 free ride from the expo!  We literally rode around Seattle 6 times for free (barring tips, because I would feel gross about not tipping), it was really amazing.  I definitely was a bit sold on the ride share thing, though I would never take one by myself, but you couldn't beat the convenience.  You would summon one and literally 2 minutes later one would be there.  Even if we'd had to pay for rides, they were no more than $8-10 a piece.  All of the drivers were very professional and nice, the cars were clean and it was a good experience.  Totally recommend it if you guys go there!

Well, that is pretty much the end of my very lengthy vacation photo journal.  My next post is basically just going to be a wrap up about feelings and thoughts on the half, plus information about what I"m doing next.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Seattle Part 1: Seattle Half Marathon Recap

Hey guys!  I'm back!  I thought I'd split my Seattle adventures into a few posts since I have SO much to tell you.  I am going to start with my race recap since it was the main part of the trip and since it was actually a really wonderful experience.

As y'all know, training for this race has been fraught with drama and injury since the start practically.  It started out with me signing up for the marathon, then running into horrible family issues, then being plagued with injuries left and right.  I was forced to drop to the half, but even then was dealing with stubborn leg injuries that finally had me throw in the towel on training and not run for an entire month before the race.  I honestly was not expecting much when I rolled up to the start line on Sunday, and honestly I was truly expecting to get in trouble physically and potentially not be able to finish.  The Portland Marathon was the last time I've lined up at a race feeling so terrified.

I slept horribly the night before the race and got about 3 hours of sleep.  I was nervous, our room was completely roasting, plus poor Eric was sick and uncomfortable all night, so I don't think either of us got any rest.  I felt like a zombie when I got up out of bed!  However, my spirits lifted when I grabbed my phone and saw that my Lovely Ladies group had already started their "legs" of what was affectionately dubbed as the Carry Mary Marathon.  If you recall from the last post, my friend Anna knew how disappointed I was to have to drop to the half marathon, so she rallied some of the ladies in our group to divide the remaining 13.1 miles between them and "finish" a full marathon for me.  So before I even pulled on my running tights that morning, I had amazing women in Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and even Paris running on my behalf.  It definitely gave me a boost and made me feel oddly calm!

It was COLD Sunday morning!  The temps never got above 34 degrees (1.1 Celsius if my Google converter is right), and there was a fog that hung around all day long and never really burned off.  It was that damp cold that gets into your bones and makes it hard to get your core temperature back up.  I decided to switch up my outfit at the last minute due to a comment that Meg made about my Cold Gear tights on my last post, and realized that indeed I did NOT want to be yanking up my too loose tights for 13.1 miles.  Instead I wore a pair of my favorite Old Navy compression capris under my fancy Star Wars tights, and they worked out perfectly for the race.  I also randomly added a second long sleeved tech shirt under the long sleeved tech shirt I already had, and let me tell you, I was SO happy I did.  I would have been pretty miserable had I not.  After much debate, I wore my battered old shoes that are literally about 4 years old but seem to make my feet the happiest.

I was nervous and could only stand choking down a Stinger Waffle and 3 sips of coffee before we headed out to the start line, which was at the Experience Music Project.  My aunt, uncle and Eric are such troopers, I know they were freezing their delicate bits off but hung out with me until right before the race started.  We were also startled to find that the heavy fog over the city was freezing on the ground, so there were some gnarly slick spots in certain areas.  Once my race was about 15 minutes from the start I had mercy on the family and told them to go ahead and go back to the Air BnB and have coffee and breakfast like normal humans!  I always kind of like having a few moments to myself right before the race starts just to mentally get in the zone anyway.

So again I'm not going to lie, I went into this race fully expecting it to be difficult at best and at worst, utterly miserable and potentially ending any running "career" for the rest of my life.  That's how much trouble I've had with my legs, even up until a week ago.  When the horn went off and I went over the start line, I just started up my Garmin and told myself that I would run/walk my intervals like I did during training and just hope for the best.  Even then though, I wasn't optimistic.  So off I went, and as I got going the strangest thing began to happen.  I settled into a comfortable pace, and most importantly, I felt good.  REALLY good.  I didn't feel winded, I didn't start out too fast the way I normally do at races, I just found a groove and went with it.  My watch beeped to signal a walk break and I realized I didn't need or want the walk break.  So I decided to keep going.  I kept waiting for the familiar tendon pain to begin in my leg, or even God forbid for my adductor to flare up.  I anticipated it at a half mile, then a mile, then two miles, but no tendon pain happened.  Finally at the third mile I decided to take a little walk break, but I think it was merely like 30 seconds, which is so unlike me.  I'm lazy, I love my walk breaks!  But I reasoned that surely my leg was going to crap out on me at some point, so I might as well get in as much running as I could before that happened.  So I kept running and before I knew it, I was at the 5 mile marker, feeling great with no pain.  My disbelief started fading and turning into the joy that I know and recognize, my complete and utter enjoyment of running.  I was in a beautiful state with my amazing family, running a half marathon and doing well at it!

The course for Seattle is really beautiful barring a few legs of it, specifically the portion of it over the I-90, but even that was interesting because it's crazy being on this huge portion of freeway that's been closed off for the runners!  It was really high up, so we had a crazy view of everything, or I guess we would have had it not been so foggy.  I was pretty skeeved out on that portion of the course because the freezing fog made things very slippery, so I was having to slow to a very careful shuffle.  One poor lady in front of me totally ate it, and once that happened I especially took things easy.

An icy, foggy jog on the I-90, and yes we took that curve to the left!

After that we went through the Mt. Baker tunnel, and unfortunately I lost the GPS reception to my Garmin.  It really aggravated me because I wanted to keep tabs on where I was and also be able to see my pace/time, but I guess these things can't be helped.  Once we made it through the tunnel we were dumped into this residential area right along the shores of Lake Washington.  I really wish it hadn't been so foggy, it was obviously pretty as it was, but I'm sure it would have been gorgeous if we'd been able to see more of the water and the scenery!

After going through the neighborhoods, part of the course seemed to wind through a park, which I am assuming is Interlaken Park, but the course map doesn't really say and Google Maps is totally confusing, so we're just going to go with Interlaken.  ;)  It was incredibly pretty but God it was hilly!  There was even a point where we were going through switchbacks, and I thought I was going to die.

By mile 9 I was definitely starting to get tired, my adductors were starting to sing to me, and my calves started faintly whispering of their intention to start cramping on me.  Oddly enough, not a peep from the tendons that have been bothering me for months.  It was very difficult, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and trying my best to run when I could.  This was the point where it was very frustrating to not have my Garmin be accurate, and I'll explain more on that in a moment.

I took this picture around mile 10 or 11.  The fog was still pretty heavy, but it lifted enough so that you could see a pretty nice view of the water and all of the hills.  Simply beautiful.

So I don't know what happened, but around mile 11 I stopped seeing any mile markers.  I'm sure they were there and I just missed them, but I never once saw the 12 and certainly didn't see the 13, so I felt like I was running blind since I didn't have my Garmin to guide me.  The only way I knew I was close is because Eric and I were keeping in contact through text, and he told me the street corner they were standing on, and I knew that was right before the stadium.  The last half mile or so was uphill on Mercer St. (rude!), and then I saw Eric, my aunt and uncle.  Talk about the happiest I've ever been in my life!  I hugged everyone quickly and then booked it for the finish line.

My official finish time was 3:04:32, which is about a 4 minute PR from my fastest marathon time.  I literally couldn't believe it you guys.  I started the race doubting that I would even make it, and finished the fastest I've ever run.  I can't help but be just a teensy bit annoyed, because had my Garmin been accurate, I'd have likely walked less or taken a couple less pictures in order to get a sub 3 time!  Not that I'm not thrilled with my time, but a sub 3 would have been nice.  ;)  OH!  And my ladies finished their half in 3:27:43, so HUGE shoutout to all of my wonderful friends on their times too.  Together we all did a marathon in 6:32:15, which is definitely a PR for me.  ;)

I had a rough time in the recovery area because my calves decided to revolt and go into full on cramps.  My legs started to buckle a bit, and it was the first time after a race where I was like, I've got to sit right now or I'm going to collapse.  I sat for a minute and Eric got me some pretzels (he also got me a rose, so sweet!), and my calves finally let up enough so that I could stand and walk again.

So my Star Wars tights were my pride and joy of the year pretty much.  I had about 30 people tell me how much they loved them...all women.  Too bad that Under Armour couldn't get that memo!  I got these at SuperheroStuff.com, if you guys want to check it out.  They have TONS of cool geek gear.

I also loved the medal for the race.  Super simple but cool, just the type of design I like!

My overall thoughts and impression of the Seattle Half is that I was super impressed.  Not only was the race very organized, but it wasn't blown out (only 15,000 runners total between the half and full!) and the course was absolutely beautiful and representative of Seattle.  Honestly, Portland could learn a whole lot from Seattle in this respect, there was never a point in the race where the course was boring or ugly, unlike Portland's which is like 85% ugly.  The one thing that might bum people out is that I found that there were very few spectators, even at the finish line.  I'm a lone wolf runner so it didn't bother me per say, but I know some people like the higher energy and support.  Portland does trump Seattle in that respect, there were tons of spectators at Portland.  Honestly though, it was so cold on Sunday that I don't really blame people for not wanting to stand out in the freezing fog just to ring a cowbell.

I highly recommend the Seattle Marathon/Half Marathon, and would absolutely do the half again myself!

Tomorrow or Thursday I will post a recap of all the fun, touristy things we did in Seattle.  We had such an amazing time that I definitely want to share the highlights with you.  After that I'm going to do a review of any lingering thoughts/feelings on the race and talk about what I'm doing next.