Snohomish Women's Run Half Marathon Race Recap

So, yeahhhhh...  This didn't go at all the way I'd hoped or planned, but I did cross the start and finish line of yet another 13.1 mile race - my sixth, to be precise.  I have been reminded, and have reminded myself, of the accomplishment in crossing any finish line.  Now that I've got that out of the way, this was a well done inaugural race with a lot of nice touches.  Things that sucked pretty much had to do with me having an off day and my personal preferences when it comes to a race.

First off, the shirts and personalized bibs were great.  The tees are cozy and have a great (not unisex/boxy) fit.  

I was also lucky to snag a parking pass during packet pickup from Dawn, since she was unable to run.  I parked right next to the start/finish.  Major score, as I guess there were supposed to be two buses to shuttle folks who parked offsite and only one showed.  My friend Meghan said they were pretty packed and people were waiting around a half an hour to get on the bus.  This delayed the race by at least 20 minutes.  But really, I find it a rare occurrence when a race starts exactly on time, so this hiccup seemed to be pretty well managed. [Edited to add, the race directors told me it was only a seven minute delay - so I guess it just felt like 20!] 

As we lined up to start, runners going any faster than 2:10 were very, very sparse.  This was a small race (about 500 peeps), which is great (zero dodging and weaving at the start), but can also be a drawback (more on that later).  And, there were pacers...  I'm sure they are a help to people (obviously), but to me, they are the worst.  Again, this is my problem, not the race's.  But it's just another thing to mess with my head and they usually run completely even splits, which is not the easiest for me to do. 

Per my plan, I wanted to run the first four miles without looking at my Garmin.  I cheated once, around mile two, and just kind of kept my eyes on the 2:00 pacer, figuring I could just linger a decent distance behind her and probably be doing a 9:30ish pace.  Bad. Bad. Bad idea.  So, yeah, even splits for a two hour goal are around 9:10 minute miles.  That's not where I wanted to start out and I started to feel the wheels come off as early as mile TWO.  I should have looked at my Garmin and just slowed down my pace much sooner.  Alas, I kept my eyes off it for the first four miles and I fell into the trap of my last Seattle Marathon.  Now, I would have tried to lose the pacer/not go anywhere near her, based on my prior experience.  But, with such a small race, there was no escape.  I did my best to distract myself and just tried to get comfortable for miles four through eight, whatever pace that might end up being.  Aaaaand that's when the course just got really mentally tough.  There's no access for spectators and there just weren't many runners around me.  I started to feel like I was on a really tough training run and the adrenaline of race day, which I rely on pretty heavily, was completely MIA.

The course is indeed beautiful with views of the Snohomish River and farmland, and we got really lucky with a sunny morning.  But I started to feel like the sun was beating down, as you're pretty much on an open road out and back for most of the race.  The pretty views only went so far when I'd look ahead and be able to see nearly two miles ahead of me at all times.  Eventually, I started to feel nauseous, and that's when I decided to walk.  I could run a slow pace through tired and leaden legs.  However, the pukey feeling I did not want to ignore.  So, walk I did.  And I certainly had moments where I thought about bagging the whole thing.  But, I kept making little goals to keep me going: run through this song, then take a walk break.  Run to that water station, then take a break.  Finally at about mile 10, the course goes on to a trail.  This was so nice to finally be out of the sun, see some people and be almost done.  However, it seemed like the worlds longest out and back.  There were times on that winding trail that I seriously had thoughts of cheating and just turning around!  Not to get a better time, just to be DONE.  Since there weren't many runners around and the trail had lots of twists and turns, it would have been totally doable.  I had a good laugh with my friend Meghan about it, who shared many sentiments about what a mentally tough course this was, as she totally had the same thoughts.  But, of course, I could never bring myself to cheat.  And a few bigger goals crossed my mind: try not to get a personal worst.  When that went out the window (for people who must know, I finished in 2:20:25 and I haven't even downloaded my Garmin stats), my goal became: finish without any cramping like Eugene and don't do anything to sacrifice my healthy leg.  I accomplished that goal and crossed the finish line feeling only sore toes and slightly ill.  Plus, I managed to pull off a smile for the camera.

From Snohomish Women's Run Facebook Page

The medals are awesome, so I'm glad I didn't bail.  

yep, I needed a drank.

Post race treats were also great: Kind bars, Luna bars, these amazing sea salt crackers and big vats of peanut butter or Nutella to slather on top and an array of what looked like petit fours.  But I was feeling too yucky to eat anything more than a banana and some of those yummy crackers.  My one ask would be for water bottles at the finish.  Having to wait until the post race area, get in line for a cup, then bend my aching body over and fill up my water at the cooler seems like an unnecessary process when water bottles are just as easy (easier?) to throw away/recycle. [Edited to add, there were apparently water bottles available - guess I just got passed over? ]  

I probably wouldn't do the half again, but it's a good course for a 10K.  It's the same route as the Snohomish River Run which I enjoyed and might have to make some room in my calendar for again it this fall.  And as for the half marathon distance, I'll definitely run some for fun, but the idea of shooting for a PR is on hold until next year at least.  I have been contemplating what that race should be, and I'm thinking I might have to revisit the scene of my PR...


This Weeks Eats 5.25.14

Like I mentioned with Indian food, there are some things that just seem to taste so much better at a restaurant.  Tex-Mex food is something we make at home quite a bit.  And vodka drinks are something I can get behind at home.  But, for whatever reason, homemade margaritas are not my bag.  It probably has something to to with the degree of difficulty in juicing so. many. limes.  Our favorite date night marg destination makes a tamarind flavored one with a cinnamon sugar rim.  It's a bit over the top, and I usually switch to a beer or another straight up marg with dinner, but they're oh sooooo good.

I don't take a ton of selfies, but the margarita pic has become a bit of a tradition!  There's even one in my header above.  If you're in the Seattle area, I highly recommend trying out The Matador

Also, if you've ever seen that confetti cake dip that makes the rounds on Pinterest, my mother in law made it with the kids this weekend.  If you really love eating frosting, then I suppose I could recommend it, haha!  

It's one tub of cool whip (lite is fine), two cups of vanilla yogurt and a box of confetti cake mix combined.  It was great for dipping apples and graham crackers.  I think I'd try it again but with a couple tablespoons of honey and some sprinkles instead of all that sorta nasty cake mix, which could also be good over granola or topped with berries...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


A Few of My Favorite Things (and April/May Julep Review)

Yes, I'm stalling on writing a race recap for the Snohomish Women's Run, but it's also been a long time since I've shared favorite things. I've received TWO Julep boxes since my last review.  

April Box
 In April, I went for the Classic with a Twist box and really love 'Caitlin' the pink color:

The orange color 'Mariska' is fun, but a little on the neon side and I think it's best for fun toes.  I also really love the blush.  It's a flattering color, goes on nicely, lasts and is in a really sturdy mirror compact.  My only complaint is that the powder is a bit loose, so I have to be careful so it doesn't end up all over my bathroom counter.

May box
In May I went back to my usual Boho Glam box and love both polishes: 'Jeanne' a fun and versatile blue and 'Paulette' a light violet color with a little shimmer.  This was also the month that the much ballyhooed Plie Wand arrived.  I did try it out and it's actually kind of cool.  I have to keep trying it, but in general, it's easy to switch between polishes and definitely easier to handle than any standard polish brush.

Recently, I broke out my first pair of Toms sandals and they did not disappoint.  They are just as comfy as regular Toms, going a full day of hoofing it around town with the kids on their first wear with nary a chafe.  WIN.  I love the Nordstrom exclusive Jonathan Adler designs and the ones I purchased are on sale!   

I'm adding new must haves to my Trader Joe's list: every single one of these fruit preserves.

For the longest time, we'd buy the huge jars of organic strawberry jelly from Costco for the kids pb&j's (of which the eat a metric ton per week).  I just felt like it was overly sweet and decided to try the TJ's low sugar variety.  Now we have every flavor and can't get enough of them.  I'm particularly fond of the apricot on the TJ's Greek yogurt with granola.  

Speaking of favorite food finds, if you have Boars Head deli meat in your area, definitely get yerself some Blazing Buffalo Style Roast Chicken.  OMG, this stuff is amaaaaazing!  I normally don't get chicken deli meat, but this is a notable exception.  

Last favorite thing, I got a new handheld water bottle, as my nearly 3 year old Amphipod was getting kind of gnarly.  I really wanted something that could accommodate my Nuun bottles and went with the Nathan Quickdraw.  It took me a little while to get used to, but now I love it.  I recommend not using the thumb hole and just placing your thumb above the hole.  I don't feel like I'm losing my grip at all and it's easy to tighten periodically while running with just a little pull on the strap.  

Even though I shared my Spotify playlist, I figured it's been awhile since I added songs to my master playlist, so here are three recent faves pulled from my Spotify - enjoy!

Take Me Home by Cash Cash

Dare You by Hardwell

Find You by Zedd (this is not at all new, and they even played it during the end credits of Divergent.  But I still love it, love Zedd.)


This Weeks Eats 5.18.14

Alas, the race today didn't go as I'd hoped.  Funny enough, it was a record of sorts - a personal worst!  I was thinking that if I put those pie in the sky hopes out there, that they might come to fruition.  Isn't there a whole book on that, The Secret?  Guess I should have kept things a secret!  I'm feeling okay about it and I've already decided on my next goal race, which will be next year.  Any further half marathons I run this year (like Beat the Blerch OMG) will be for FUN.  I may try to work on my 5K or 10K time, though...  

I decided that no matter how it went down, my sixth half marathon needed celebrating!

I also made sure dinner was as simple as possible tonight, and this favorite old crock pot recipe for Korean short ribs did not disappoint.  Neither did the mashed potatoes to which I added all that extra butter, because I EARNED it.

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


On Race Eve...

It's the night before the race: the first 13.1 I'm going to attempt after swearing off half marathons for a year.  I haven't talked very much about my training cycle, or how I'm feeling about said training.  And to tell the truth, it's for fear of jinxing myself.  Even calling the last couple of months a training cycle seems to be admitting something.  And no matter how I do tomorrow, I'm really grateful for this race that has got me back into running more miles, training and the love of running.  But if I acknowledge that I've been focused, consistent, and intentional in my running, then what happens if I don't do well?  If I was consistently writing about all the great tempo runs where my (hopeful) race pace didn't feel too hard, or about completing my longest training run ever (12 miles), or about my new dedication to yoga,  or about my obsessive foam rolling, or about how I'm hydrating like a boss, it's like I can't fail or I'll be disappointing someone.  That is COMPLETELY CRAZY, I know.  Obviously the person we fear disappointing the most is ourselves.  So I just felt like flying under the radar on this little comeback.  

all ready to go!

It's been so long since I've really felt invested in a race.  I suppose it's truly been a year.  After Eugene, I just felt pretty defeated and I think that was my body (and my wonky leg) telling me to take a step back and heal up.  Sure I had a wee PR in the last year; I followed a plan and prepared for that race.  But this feels different, there has been weather stalking (showers, boo!), playlist perfecting (see below), even perhaps some taper tantrums: my lower back started aching after a little fender bender where a girl rear ended me last week and it's clearing up with the help of my chiro.  He thinks I'm fine to race, but I'm still freaking out about it!  I'm even thinking through a 'race plan' (yes I'm using quotes on that) which I've NEVER done before.  All I've ever done was just hit that start line running and hope for the best.  Tomorrow my 'plan' (just visualize me using air quotes there) is go out at a very comfortable effort, but an effort nonetheless, and not look at my watch for the first four miles.  After that, I'll adjust my speed as necessary, whether I need to reign it in a bit or speed up with the end goal being to negative split.  I'll then do the same at mile 8 and mile 12.  Mile 13 will hopefully be all about kicking it into high gear.

My first sharing of a playlist!  I'm still adding/tweaking, and I never put it in any kind of order: I'm a shuffle kind of gal.  You can check it out here.  And yes, there are a couple songs that are definitely 'one of these things is not like the others' in there - I like to mix it up, to a point.
When talking about my May goals, I said that I wanted to be within five minutes of my PR (which was a 2:02:54) for a time of around 2:07.  You know what, eff that, I want to PR.  I think I can shave off at least 30 seconds.  Yes I'll be happy with a strong race, if I have fun, etc. and that's certainly my 'C' goal.  But with the way I've been able to bust out 9 minute miles at a comfortable effort, if I'm admitting what I really want, I want that PR.  And, while I'm being completely honest here, I'd be lying if I wasn't visualizing a finish line clock that begins with 1:5X.  If conditions are right, I think I'm capable of that sub two hour goal.  So there it is, A, B, and C goals.  Even though I thought about taking any kind of PR attempts off the table at the beginning of the year, I changed my mind!  The intent behind that was to ensure my priorities were on running pain free and getting back to running more miles.  My leg is 100% pain free and I'm enjoying my running so much lately that it's quite obvious to me now that I was in a nearly year long slump.  Un-slumping yourself is indeed not easily done.  Being on the other side of it, I feel ready to move mountains.  Though my name is not Buxbaum, Bixby or Bray, I have my own tiny mountain and I want to get on my way.

**Since I put this up later in the day, if you happen to be reading on Sunday morning, please send speedy race juju my way.  I appreciate it in advance.**


Family Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

Ahhh, yes.  We caved.  As you may have noticed, I skipped out on This Weeks Eats because we were oh so busy livin' it up at the Great Wolf Lodge!  My kiddos birthdays are within a week of each other and this seems to be the beginning of a pretty nice little tradition.  My husband and I are not huge fans of crowds and nonstop activity, what were we getting ourselves into!?  In some ways our fears were fully realized, and quashed in others...

In the weeks leading up to birthday time, I kept my eye out for a Groupon type deal.  In the end, I subscribed to Great Wolf Lodge's newsletter and got a first time customer deal of 15% off and $30 resort credit.  We also decided to go on a Sunday for a cheaper rate, and went with the Kid Kamp room which has a sectioned off space for the kids with a bunk bed.

Also, each kid gets the wolf ears upon check-in.  Awesome.
The water park is open to guests at 1pm on the day of arrival, through 9pm on the day you check out.  We decided to have an early lunch and hit the road to arrive just after 1pm and enjoy the park until around 5 or 6pm, so that we'd have time to get ready for dinner.  Once we got settled and changed, we arrived at the water park hoping to put our towels and cover ups on a chair or something while we swam.  Apparently everyone has this idea and despite there being hundreds of chairs around the pools, we couldn't find a single one to spare.  I figured that going on a Sunday (and MOTHER'S DAY at that) would be pretty quiet. HA!  Attendance at the water park was probably at normal levels.  I can't imagine what it's like at peak times!  It's ten bucks to rent a locker and that's just ridiculous when your room is a few minute walk away.  So we huffed it back to the room and ditched our flip flops, shorts, cover ups, etc.  If you're not a fan of just waltzing around in only your swimsuit through hotel corridors, Great Wolf Lodge is not for you.  And I have no pictures to show for our water park adventures, either.  Ah well.

Once unburdened, we hit up all the rides they had to offer over, and over, and over, and over again.  My husband and I took turns with each kid, since my 4 year old was restricted to the smaller slides and my 7 year old was free to do whatever.  It worked out nicely, alternating running up and down stairs to experience super fun slides, to chillaxing in the kiddie pool and just watching my girl play.  Pro tip: the big slides (Howlin' Tornado and River Canyon Run) are cool but over really fast.  The slides where you carry your own inner tube up the stairs (Alberta Falls) are WAY more fun, have shorter lines and seem to last longer.  I would have gone on these all afternoon, but my son had an obsession with the wave pool so we spent a ton of time in there, chasing the biggest waves.

Getting the kids to vacate the premises was, predictably, very difficult.  But going 'out' for dinner and the superawesomeohmygod bunk beds were helpful carrots to dangle.  Lots of people advise you to get a pizza delivered to your room to save money on the exorbitant costs of the restaurants on site.  However, we figured that since we're really only planning on visiting once a year, we'd rather walk around, explore and go out for a family meal.  Camp Kritter Bar and Grill was a pleasant surprise with some fine dining options that tasted really rather good.  My husband decided to try their NY strip, and it was delicious!  And I think that's saying something, with all the steak joints we've eaten at from Chicago to Seattle.  It's not Gibson's or anything, but it was darn tasty.  I got hazelnut crusted halibut, also very yummy.  The kids options were typical, and the kids got their typical cheese themed dinner out: mac and cheese for the girl child and quesadilla for the boy child.  Also, there are plenty of opportunities for those 21 and over to drink up.  There's a bar by the pools, and TGIFriday's style cocktail menus at every restaurant.  And you can apparently carry that shiz all around the resort with you.  There were plenty of parents tottering around with their glass of red during story hour.  To each their own... 

Sufficiently stuffed, we timed things so that we were able to catch the nightly story hour in the main lobby.  This was basically a vaguely creepy Chuck-e-Cheese kind of deal where animatronic creatures 'come to life' and sing a song and then the lodge mascot 'Wiley' the wolf comes out and reads a story with one of the resort staff, then they lead a little song and dance.  It was cute and a perfect way to send the kids off to bed.  

After four hours of constant swimming without any breaks, and hitting the hay at least two hours past their bedtime, you'd think your kids would be a little tired.  HA!  We finally turned off their Kindles in their 'cabin' around 10:30.  Yes, we let them have their tablets in bed as a vacation indulgence and it usually helps them wind down.  Despite the fact that there's a tv in the kids room, there aren't many appropriate options, even on Disney/Nick, at 10pm.  Great Wolf Lodge should really think about a channel with kid friendly movies or shows on a loop - kinda like at Children's Hospital!  Anyway, I think they finally drifted off around 11:30 after several trips to the bathroom and visiting each other's bunk.  Of course my girl is a TERRIBLE sleeper and woke like a newborn crying because of 'weird sounds' ever two or three hours.  The idea of going back into the water park vortex the following morning was just too much for me and my husband to bear after such a sleepless night, and aching bones from our exertions the day before.  Luckily, a friend of mine lent me her son's 'magic wand' for the MagiQuest fun around the park.  Basically, you can buy a plastic wand to make things light up, talk, move etc. around the resort, even in 'secret stairwells.'

  There are also games available at an extra charge (of course!) wherein you can earn points, get clues to finish a quest, etc.  But we just used the wand to make 'magic happen.'  This was the perfect thing to keep us busy before checkout and it might just have been the highlight of the trip.  The place was teeming with packs of kids all decked out (some with wizard capes and wand holsters.  Holsters!) and taking their game very seriously.  It was pretty cool and I think that if we go next year we'll definitely pony up for our own wand and a quest.  We also spent a little time in the arcade, which is always a good time.  

A claw game for Starbucks reusable cups and gift cards!
All in all, we were pleased with our experience and will definitely be back.  


Books I Read in April 2014

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I added For Darkness Shows the Stars, and several others titles to my Goodreads 'want to read' after reading this Bookriot post (including Tin Star).  I've confessed before that I'm not a huge Austen fangirl, and I've never read Persuasion. But, I do love the stories - maybe that's why I love all the movie adaptations of her work...  I think Peterfreund's interpretation of Persuasion was a fine way to enjoy the story mashed up with a pretty original dystopian theme, wherein Luddites are the ruling class. Also, the love story between the main characters is revealed through letters they ferry to each other in secret and I'm a sucker for epistolary writing. Definitely a quick and romantic read.

The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

There's something about Moyes' books that makes me just eat them up. This story, similar to The Last Letter From Your Lover, bounces back and forth in time: present day and the German occupation of France during WWI. The connection is a painting entitled The Girl You Left Behind and by the end of the book, I felt like I could clearly visualize it in my head. Beautifully told story and I love her characters, even though they're heavily flawed (and often a damsel in distress *eye roll*) they are written with humor and wit.


Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I decided to give this book a shot since one of my favorite bloggers (Everyday Reading) really loves it. It was fun and fluffy - good brain candy. But it seemed like I was reading a formula for how to write a Regency period piece/how to write Austen. I could tell you EXACTLY what was going to happen after 20 minutes of reading. Yes, it unfolds exactly how you think it will and I kinda wanted to hit the main character over the head about a dozen time. Would be good for a drinking game, for every time she uses the word BLUSH (or blushed, blushing, blushed, etc.).  Meh.

Gods in Alabama

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson has popped up on my Goodreads feed quite a lot over the years, and even more so on social media lately with her latest novel: Someone Else's Love Story. I thought I'd start with her first book, and it did not disappoint.  It grabbed me from the first pages and didn't let go.  It's a little bit family drama, a little bit murder-mystery with a dash of humor.  Super quick and powerful read.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy's awesome 'Twitterature' book posts roundup!


This Weeks Eats 5.04.14

The week of birthday crazy has begun in our house!  I can't believe she's FOUR.

First mani-pedi! She chose blue for her toes and pink for her fingers. 

We had her special dinner out at Zeeks (a favorite local pizza joint) and cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes.  The kids each got a Neapolitan, my husband got a Black Forest, and I tried the Nutella cupcake.  

All were fabulous.  I really wish I was into baking fancier things like cakes with nifty flavored frosting.  At least when we buy the cupcakes, we all get to sample several different kinds and I don't have a weeks worth to plow through at home.  Plus, I can concentrate my efforts on making more energy bars!  I highly recommend these homemade Z bars.  I added two tablespoons of cocoa powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to the batter.  Then I mixed in coconut and chocolate chips before baking.  YUM.  The Enchilada Quinoa Bake from last week was also very yummy - definitely recommend.

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


May Goals and April Check-In

Goals from April:

Finish up monthly photo catch up!
Wahoo!  Mission complete.

Have a plan for the kids birthdays and get presents.  

I'm actually heading out today to get some little presents for baby girl who turns four (!) this weekend, as we decided that her main present will be a big girl bed with all the decor of her choice.  Presents for big brother have mostly been acquired and we made reservations for our first foray to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate both birthdays.  Hold me.

Get out to the trails at least twice a month. 
This was harder than I thought to achieve with the kids off of school for a week with Spring Break, which is when I usually escape to the trails.  I did get out on the Burke Gilman twice this month on the weekends, so I'm gonna give myself partial credit! 

Lastly, go to the chiropractor at least once a month for an adjustment/ART.  
Yeahhh, I didn't go this month.  I've been feeling fantastic lately, though.  And it's hard to part with $60 for a 15 minute appointment when I'm not feeling any pain.  I might wait and see if anything feels wonky after the Snohomish Women's Run this month and re-evaluate a visit.  

Goals for May:
  • The main goal for this month is to run smart, healthy and strong coming back from my year long hiatus from the half marathon.  Sure, I have time aspirations, but I don't want to jinx myself.  Let's just say that training has been feeling really, really good and we'll see...  I'll have lots more to say after the fact.  For the most part, I just want to cross that finish line without falling apart like I did a year ago (or the half before that) and be at least within 5 minutes of my PR.  A 2:07:54 should be doable.
  • Gotta throw some maintenance ones in here: make an appointment to get my hair under control, it's been three months since my last visit to my stylist.
  • Update our Christmas memory book.  Every year since having kids, I've kept a memory book with a a page a year with that year's Christmas card and an overview of the day: what we ate, presents received, fun stories, etc.  I just realized I completely forgot to do this in January!
  • Do the 100 Happy Days challenge.  I've seen so many of my Instagram friends doing this and I really loved the Altra/Zooma photo a day challenge back in March and having a incentive to take more pictures.  Plus, the prompt is the same every day, which makes it pretty easy.  Boy, did I pick the right day to start this thing: it was a gorgeous summer like day here in Seattle, and I had it all to myself!  

Yes, a large portion of my IG feed is this same view.  But, it makes me SO HAPPY.  Coffee, books, and today - flip flops!  Here's to 99 more days of happy...