This Is Forty

As much as I've claimed to be 'ZOMG! Freaking out!' about turning 40, I'm really not that freaked out.  I've only had a day at this age, so maybe I'll have my midlife crisis in December or something.  I did have a moment when I got a card that included an 'over the hill' reference.  Really?  But I recovered.  I can't help but reflect on my last big decade birthday at 30 when I sort of DID freak out.  Mostly because, at that time, I worried more about external, superficial things.  (Well, and we were going through a huge life change - leaving Chicago for Seattle just weeks after that birthday.)  

The big road trip, ten years ago - we look like baaaaaabies.
I was caught up in the endless questions of "What are you doing for your big 3-0!?"  Being slightly less mature at the time, I figured it had to be EPIC!  At the time I didn't think a really nice dinner out with my husband was that epic.  It WAS, I just didn't appreciate it at the time.  He took me to Tiffany & Co. on Michigan Avenue to pick out a piece of jewelry.  We walked through Streeterville and had wine and tapas appetizers at an adorable restaurant in the neighborhood.  It was all capped off when we walked over to Navy Pier for a big steak dinner (a chateaubriand, complete with a bottle of Opus One - thanks mom!) at a restaurant with a perfect view of Venetian Night fireworks.  Not a bad little birthday, right?  I was all stressed about it and ended up having the BEST NIGHT.  My husband and I talk and laugh about that night to this day.  That's pretty epic.

Soooo, the questions are bubbling again, and now Facebook exists wherein I see pictures of many of my contemporaries going on EPIC trips for their big 4-0, some even Couples Retreat style!  And right now, yes, I would really love to spend some time alone with my husband in Mexico.  Not gonna lie.  But, we have a four month old puppy at home, 

OH HAI! I'm a pretty nice addition to my mommy's 40th year.
we just refinanced our house (which involved paying off one of our loans and, of course, closing costs), I'm already leaving the kids for five days in August to go to Bend, etc. etc.  Are these excuses?  On some level, I suppose.  But, I'm pretty confident we will get on that vacation sometime soon, and I'm just really happy with life right now.  I really love this old post from Zoot and the point that she makes about fulfillment being individual.  

My kids are pretty awesome right now (for the most part...), and my whole family is happy and healthy.  No kids ended up at Children's this year while I was at Ragnar, and my husband has taken up biking and is loving it.  My mom is cancer free, we had a little scare a few weeks ago - right when she was planning a trip here, which was cancelled of course!  Whomp.  But she's doing great now and I think that's a pretty darn good present.  I've been injury free and had some of the most amazing running experiences this year...


I heart you Ragnar.
 And it's only July!  A running retreat with my Oiselle teammates in Bend, Oregon awaits!

So, yeah, I can file this under Epic - right? Smith Rock in Bend from the Oregon State Parks website.
All I feel right now is gratitude.  Maybe my age has given me a little perspective.  I adore the song "Be Okay" by Oh Honey.  It drives home this point simply but effectively:

Fresh cut grass, one cold beer.
Thank the Lord I am here and now, here and now.
Summer dress, favorite park.
Bless your soul, we are here and now, here and now.

I'm wide awake, so what's the point of dreaming when your life is great?
Celebrate the feeling, celebrate the feeling.

Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
We're screaming out, I believe we'll be okay.

Sun kissed skin on my lips.
Thank the Lord I am here and now, here and now.
Fireflies after dark.
Bless your soul, we are here and now, here and now.

I'm wide awake, so what's the point of dreaming when your life is great?
Celebrate the feeling, celebrate the feeling.

Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
We're screaming out, I believe we'll be okay.

We'll be okay.
We'll be okay.

These beachy days definitely make me hum this song.
Nope, can't complain about much these days.  Well, I'm kind of DONE with the kids constant summertime bickering...  But, that's it.  I think? I do tend to worry, so if you give me something to worry about - I will.  But, little worries aside, I'm enjoying this time in my life, I feel like I'm just coasting, enjoying the ride.

This is forty.


This Weeks Eats 7.27.14

One of the few food preferences my husband and I differ on is eggs.  He's your basic scrambled guy, those eggs had better be cooked.  Me?  I'm partial to a slightly runny egg, usually topped with hollandaise sauce.  But really any food can be improved with a fried egg on top.  I usually eat them for lunch - over leftover tex-mex food, or rice and veggies, even some toast.  So when I finally got a chance to try a new-ish local restaurant, The Commons, there was no hesitation when deciding what to order:

A smoky veggie hash with potatoes, squash, peppers, mushrooms, and kale topped with fried eggs (to which I also added bacon).  I might have to try and replicate something like this for lunch one of these days. SO GOOD.

The Chopped Thai Salad from Pinch of Yum we tried last week was really good and we'd definitely make it again.  Wonder if I could put a fried egg on 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!


Ragnar Northwest Passage 2014 Race Recap

Another year, another Ragnar has come and gone.  I have so many thoughts, observations, and so much I want to commit to memory.  Now that you've met the team, I guess I'll just start from the beginning...

The night before the race, most of us were able to meet up at the Oiselle offices to organize all our goodies, eat a pizza dinner and decorate the vans.

I got to bed nice and early and slept nice and late, since I was in van 2 this year and didn't need to hit the road until about noon for the first major exchange in Bellingham.  This was super weird moseying out of bed around 9AM and seeing tweets/instagram pics from our team starting as I was sitting and drinking coffee in my pjs.  We all met up at the Newton's parents house, since there's ample parking and they're right off I5.  

We forgot to take good pics of our decor, thanks dudes on Twitter for doing the work for us!
Not even 10 minutes into the drive we were cracking each other up and I was crying tears of laughter.  I knew this was going to be another ridiculously awesome experience.  

van 2!
It was great to meet up with our Van 1 peeps for a few pics, get our Ragnar swag, do the safety briefing and then we were off!  

first meetup with van 1
Since Amanda runs like the wind, and her first leg was just over three miles, we hightailed it out of exchange 6 to hand things off to Lauren.  So, my legs in a nutshell:

Leg 1: 6.8 miles

Leg 11

The first downhill portion of this run was rather nice, but it was canted a bit to the side and I was glad to get on flat road.  It was a pretty long run by my standards, since my long runs as of late are around 8 miles.  The views were lovely, but I could see for what seemed like miles ahead of me - which is mentally tough.  Thankfully, it was my first leg and all that Ragnar energy got me through without a hitch.  

Awesome views, for miles...
I accidentally turned off my Garmin when I put on the slap bracelet, but my last 5 splits were in the low 9s, which I was pretty darn happy with for a 7 mile run and I passed 9 people!

Leg 2: 6.5 miles

Leg 23

After our dinner at Skagit River Brewery and a little rest at La Conner middle school, we were back on the road around midnight.  My much anticipated run over Deception Pass bridge was one of the best runs of MY LIFE.  I was nervous about running in the dark with a headlamp; something I've never done before.  But the rolling downhills through the forest were amazing.  I felt like I was flying because it was the opposite of my first run: all I could see was the 10 feet or so in front of me (more than enough to run safely/see the ground) and then the majestic evergreens being illuminated every few minutes by the headlights of the vans going past.  All the other runners on that leg were so happy to be out there, too.  There was a lot of 'great job!' and 'strong running!' as we'd pass each other, and I passed 12 runners, averaging a 9:30 pace.  And of course, there was the amazing light display they added to the bridge this year.

Had to steal from Ragnar, because the one photo I took was super blurry and I was afraid of dropping my phone into the depths below.
Seriously, I felt like Santa Claus coming in for a landing.  It was just outstanding.  I was a bit worried about the weather.  Originally we were all concerned about the heat, but then the forecast turned to rain.  I thought I was going to freeze, but it started misting a bit while I was out there and it was downright refreshing.  Everything just came together.  Oh, and for the record, I did not have music on this entire race - didn't need it one bit.

a little comparison shot from when we visited with the kids about 4 years ago!
The next break for us didn't happen until close to 6AM and we had less than three hours until our next set of legs.  I spent a decent amount of time with baby wipes and changing into warm clothes before collapsing in the van with Amanda around 7AM for about an hour of sleep.  This is one of the major drawbacks of van 2.  It seems like the most mileage for van 1 is the first set of legs, while you're driving up to Bellingham.  The first break is only enough time for dinner and a nap.  And by the time you're really tired during the last break, there's no time to sleep.  

My vain attempt at sleep after dinner. I highly recommend a sleep mask, though.
We were up and at 'em again around 8:30AM.  It was rather funny that our whole van just sat on the curb at Coupeville High like zombies watching people come into the major exchange.  Other teams were making cheer tunnels, carrying boom boxes and even clipboards!  Clipboards!  I can't even imagine taking it that seriously with our times! We'd just drive our runner to the exchange, cheer/support them along the route after seeing them off and head to the next exchange and wait.  Like last year, I don't think anyone had any solid knowledge of each other's times.  No one was ever lost, or left hanging (for more than a minute, anyway) at any exchange.  That's just how we roll.

Leg 3: 3.5 miles

Leg 35

I was glad that I wasn't the first runner in the van this year, having to run right after sleeping.  I had plenty of time to wake up and prepare for my run.  That being said, I still felt like death warmed over - that's just par for the course for your last leg of Ragnar.  You just get through it.  It did not seem 'easy' and I averaged about a 10 minute mile.  Somehow, I was smiling during this run, probably telling myself to 'fake it 'till you make it.'

After I finished up, we gave Morena some support about half way through her brutal last leg to the finish and then hightailed it over to said finish line.

Parking was super easy and we had enough time to return our safety flags and catch up with van 1 before spotting Morena and running across the finish line together.  Apparently there were spots opened up for more teams this year, but you'd never know it - Ragnar ran super smoothly, as usual.

We sat in the grass and ate some pizza together and van 1 took off pretty quickly to catch the ferry home, as they were waiting HOURS for us to arrive.  A con of being in van 1, and I distinctly remember this from last year.  It's great to be done first, but then you have to wait, and wait, and WAIT to be truly done.  I did spot The Oatmeal (again) as we were eating and encouraged Paulette to grab a pic!

I left him alone (save for the catcalls as we'd drive by him in our van) since I already got one a few weeks ago at a Beat the Blerch training run:

with van 2 teammate Lauren, too!
It was fun to see him and his team out on the course, he was a van 2 runner as well.

Speaking of van 2, at first I was thinking that it's the lesser of the two.  But then I made a list of pros/cons, because I'm ridiculous like that.

Van 2 pros:  
  • You can sleep in and start later (ya know, if work or the kids aren't an obstacle in the AM)
  • The scenery, in my opinion, is better than the van 1 legs
  • You can eat a real sit down dinner at a normal hour after your first break
  • You're more likely to get the middle of the night running (yes, a pro!)
  • You don't have to wait for-ev-er at the end of the race to finish
Van 2 cons:
  • The legs are WAY HARDER OMG
  • There really is no good time to get more than 2 hours of sleep TOPS

And while I'm making a list, here are the reasons a minivan is way better than the 12 passenger van:
  • So much easier to handle, for all those 3 point and U turns
  • Much more comfortable/reclining seats
  • More reliable, more likely to be a newer vehicle (last year our 12 passenger van stalled on us at least 3 times)
  • You can open the back windows for more air, cheering and pictures
  • I'm guessing they're cheaper to rent
In conclusion, to remember the ridiculousness, I'm doing a straight up High School Yearbook tribute - "I will always remember" meme:
  • Cheering Amanada with "EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE YOUUUUU!" Because, we all totally do.

  • Whisper cheering, 'natch.  This is my favorite Ragnar tradition.
  • Whisper cheering killlll, killllll, killll sorta horror movie style when our runners where about to pass (or 'kill') another runner.
  • 'The Napoleon Dynamite Effect' of Ragnar - it kinda sucks while you're in it, but then it's suuuuuper funny and awesome after the fact.
  • "Bitch eatin' crackers."
  • I am an expert at U turns.
  • "You do YOU."
There are probably a bunch of other things that seemed absolutely hilarious at the time, but I'm forgetting them now.  I'm looking forward to the posts from some of my teammates.  And if you ran Ragnar and blogged about it, I'd love to read your post, so please feel free to leave a link in the comments.  I'm nostalgic already...   



This Weeks Eats 7.20.14 (and Ragnar Food)

As I had predicted last week, I did indeed eat a turkey sandwich in the van!  However, it was for lunch on the drive up to our starting point in Bellingham.  One of the nice things about being in van 2 is that the first break is perfect for a sit down dinner.  We ate up at Skagit River Brewery before taking a short 'nap' until our second run started in the wee hours of the night.  Although, I was wrong in my prediction on the Oiselle blog, I didn't eat one bite of my pasta salad or savory goodies.  Womp, womp.  For one thing, they were stuffed in the way back of the van.  Secondly, the next break was so short and all we had time for was sleep.  And third, when I woke up at 8:15 in the morning (after getting one hour of sleep) the last thing I wanted were chips or pasta salad.  I suppose there's really no way to predict what you're going to want to eat when you stay awake for 36 hours and your stomach is sayin' "um, WHAT?"  

Predicting what you're going to be thirsty for is MUCH easier. So much water, so much Nuun.
So I had some banana bread when I got up, and a Picky Bar around lunchtime.  Not much, but it was about an hour before my last run and I didn't want anything too heavy.  And yes, my stomach was cramping up the whole time I was running because I was HANGRY.  The pizza at the finish line tasted SO GOOD.  As did that iced mocha on the ferry ride home.

Oh and, until I get around to putting all my Ragnar thoughts together (they are always going to be epic, I think), we came in 6th in the women's open with a time of 28:32:04!

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!


It's Ragnar Northwest Passage Time - Meet Team BIRD MACHINE!

Summer is here and you know what that means??  RAGNAR NORTHWEST PASSAGE TIME OMGGGGG.  I'm so darned excited and am so glad to have the opportunity to experience this race again.  I really hope I find a way onto a team every year.  This year, The Flockstars have changed our name to Bird Machine and half of the original group is returning: (yes, I'm using photos n' stuff from last year):

Thank goodness our fearless leader is back. 

Paulette in pink, and also teammate Sophia in yellow
Yay, Paulette - we couldn't do this without you!

The Newtons! With our team manager Kristin and I.
Morena and Nolana, one of the most awesome Oiselle sister duos!  Yep, there are a few sets of sisters on the Oiselle team.  But they are two of MY favorite local peeps and I can't wait to have some quality time in a van with them again.

And there are a TON of running BFFs on the team, but Sophia and Laurel are definitely one of the sweetest duos EVER.

And my sanity keeper Lauren.  Although, I think I'll be the one needing to keep her sane this weekend...  She's got the most mileage of us all at 19 and some major elevation gain.

And now, for our new Ragnar peeps!

Amanda is a freaking badass who is currently on her quest of a year long (or longer?) run streak and ran a 50 mile ultra this spring.  I'm reaaaaally glad she'll be picking up some of my slack in Van 2.

Also joining van 2 is West Side Suzie (her nickname around these parts), hailing from Poulsbo, WA.  Suzie has got the most Ragnar Northwest Passages under her belt: this will be her 6th and she's on a quest to run it at least 12 times, experiencing each runner position!  I'm guessing she'll keep us on the straight and narrow, since the rest of us have yet to experience the van 2 segments.

Joining Laurel in van 1 will be her MOM, Anne!  I believe I can say they are the most awesome Oiselle team mother-daughter duo.

Also joining van 1 is Allison, another long time bird who I'm glad I'll finally meet, as we never crossed paths when she lived in Seattle. She'll be joining us all the way from North Carolina.  She and van mate Sophia go way back, having met as new members of the UW Husky Run Club during undergrad.  Also, she has the best Oiselle team profile pic, IMHO.

And joining van 1 is Jess, who also ran the Snohomish Women's Run!  She placed 7th in a blazing 1:43 and TOTALLY AGREED that it was a tough race.  Although, she had just run the Boston Marathon, so...

Also new to the team is some support coming from different companies this year!  In addition to the tees from Oiselle ('natch) and boxes o' Picky Bars that we also enjoyed last year...

plus wristbands, club cards and water bottles this year!
This year we're really exciting to be sporting some Swiftwick Socks!

And Bic Bands!

We'll be drinking even more Nuun this time around!

Also, rumor has it we'll be getting some promotional goodies from Bia Sport!  

We're SO GRATEFUL to these awesome companies and we are just so pumped to get back out there and conquer 200 miles of awesome.  Follow our shenanigans with hashtag #BirdMachine on Twitter and Instagram.  If you're running, leave your team name and start time in the comments - would love to look out for ya!


This Weeks Eats 7.13.14

I finally made it over to a local brewery near my house this weekend that is apparently ALL THE RAGE with my Instagram friends.  192 Brewing was a perfect place to take the boy child for a little date night.  

There was live music (they even played free bird - which my son rather enjoyed), bikers to watch pass by on the Burke Gilman Trail and 'pizza bread' for dinner ZOMG.  I very much enjoyed my beer, their signature Shticky Blonde, and a heaping pile of nachos - with bbq pork.  YUM.

The weather is heating up in our neck of the woods, so we're keeping things simple and summery with a short menu this week - since I'll be MIA for Ragnar shenanigans this weekend!!

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Grilled Chicken with Quinoa Avocado Salad
  • Wednesday - Grape n' Tuna Pasta Salad (this is one of those recipes we've made without a recipe for years, so I dug up this similar one from Food Network that uses a few different ingredients, like Greek yogurt instead of mayo, to try.)
  • Thursday - Goin' out for dinner with Ragnar teammates!
  • Friday - I'll likely be eating a turkey sandwich in the back of a van!
  • Saturday - Hot Dogs on the grill (super easy so I can eat and go directly to bed)
  • Sunday - BBQ Pork Salad (Didn't end up making this last week, as things got hectic with big brother's swim lessons - hence the dinner date.)
Speaking of last week, the spaghetti recipe from Eat, Live, Run was a success!  We used ground turkey and turkey sausage and it tasty really hearty.  I would suggest adding a few cloves of chopped garlic after the veggies cook, cuz I just don't do garlic salt/powder/jarred garlic.

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!


Books I Read in June 2014


Wool by Hugh Howey

I thought I was kind of done with dystopian stuff, but had to read this book based on a friends recommendation and all the hype surrounding this self-published novella turned novel. There were lots of familiar elements from classics like The Giver and The City of Ember, but enough originality to keep me intrigued. Howey is a master of pacing and creating characters you feel invested in - which is kind of a bummer, because he tends to kill them off early in the book. But I devoured it and definitely want to read the Shift prequels.


Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I adored If I Stay and it's sequel Where I Went (maybe even more than the first book) by Forman.  I figured this was the summer of the Just one Day series.  It starts off similarly to that old romantic flick Before Sunrise, but then the one day encounter ends about halfway through the book and we follow our heroine Allyson back home from her Paris fling and how her encounter changes her.  A decent coming of age novel, but I think Forman has a pattern of delivering a better story with her sequels...


Just One Year by Gayle Forman

This picks up right where Just One Day leaves off, but is told from the boy's point of view as he navigates his own coming of age in the year he's separated from Allyson.  I thought Willem's character and story was much more complex, interesting and compelling.  And it's also rather compelling to read parts of the same story from a different perspective.  I did feel like the end of the book could have been just one more chapter long.  Without giving spoilers, really, it's the least the author could have done.  And, whaddya know, this popped up after I finished reading my Kindle library loan:  


Just One Night by Gayle Forman

A nice little novella that put the cherry on the cake of the series.  Very satisfying.  I highly recommend reading all of these in one go.


Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind by Biz Stone

As a pretty avid Twitter user, I've been meaning to read this as well as Hatching Twitter.  Biz Stone writes in a very fun and playful way; there were several laugh out loud moments, as well as really cool insights into Twitter.  Alas, I thought it was a little hokey and that it ought to be in the 'Self-Help' section of the library. 

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


Things I Learned While Doing a Run Streak

I'm SO glad Runner's World had a summer run streak challenge.  It was the perfect thing to get me out of my funk after a bad half and have something to focus on that was not a race.  I just checked my total mileage for the streak and I put in 115 miles in 40 days.  I know there are many, many runners who go at it every day and average much higher mileage.  But I'm pretty pleased!

day 35
  I was also pleasantly surprised that wasn't too much of a struggle to fit in that minimum of one mile a day.  In the beginning, it was kind of novel - finding new places to run, bringing a change of clothes in the car on occasion, etc.  By about half way through, I really did feel like it became a habit and that I truly felt 'off' if I didn't get to run.  The only time I really dreaded the daily run was the day after the Rock n' Roll Seattle Half (and maybe the day after THAT), which I'm thinking is kind of understandable.  Normally I'd take a day or two off and then do some cross training.  

I also met my goal of running every single one of my miles outside and with Charity Miles!  

Seriously, get the app if you haven't - so easy.
I mostly put my miles toward The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stand Up 2 Cancer and Every Mother Counts.  I can mostly thank the weather for this, but I'm definitely going to try for the winter run streak from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.  I've actually gone beyond the 40 days!  I'm up to 45 and maybe I'll make it to Labor Day, or beyond...

Some things I've learned:
  • I'm glad I have an abundant supply of Oiselle running duds, because my laundry pile has become quite a bit larger.  It's always fun to get to the bottom of the pile and re-discover 'vintage' pieces!
  • Getting it done early in the day was the best way for me to make sure I achieved my goal.  
  • That being said, I had to run in the afternoon quite a bit or occasionally in the evening, and I think this streak really helped me adapt to running in different situations.  Running in afternoon heat, running with a stomach full of Jimmy John's #5 or a burrito bowl from Chipotle is good for Ragnar training, methinks.
  • If you're in a running funk, it seems counter intuitive, but running more can get your mojo back.  Usually after a half marathon, I treat myself with kid gloves for at least a few days and very cautiously get back to running.  Having to run after Rock n' Roll really opened my eyes to the fact that I was underestimating myself, and I was ready to get in some speed and longer runs after just a week.
  • I feel more in tune with my body.  If I hadn't run the day after doing 13.1, I probably would have just felt general soreness and moved on with cross training for awhile.  I'm still doing cross training (bootcamp twice a week) but by throwing a little run in, I could instantly tell where I needed to focus any extra stretching/foam rolling.
  • Strength, core and stretching easily became a daily habit.  Doing planks and core (and sometimes a vain attempt at Dr. Lesko's workout) is a lot easier to keep on top of if you're in workout gear and already sweating.  For me, it's rest days that get in the way of doing this stuff daily.
  • Your family will come to expect your run.  Another thing that seems counter intuitive, but the more I took off to go run, the more my family accepted it, got used to it, encouraged it!
  • As with any exercise, getting out the door is the hardest part.  Usually I wanted to run more than just one mile after I got going - time constraints/cross training days usually dictated the one mile run.
  • It sure helps with weight maintenance/loss.  I'm never going to be the thinnest person in the room, and that's totally okay by me.  I don't really ever set out to lose weight unless it's after the holidays - yeah, you know what I'm talking about.  Buuuuut, I'm sure as hell not going to complain if two pounds just magically disappear!  Thanks run streak!
  • I'll gain more endurance and speed?  Jury's still out, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed...