four months

Four Months

 

Having a girl moment… only 4 more months until we say “I do!” Quick update:

Dress, Venue, Florist, Photographer, Rental Company, Invitations Ordered, check check check!

Started taking Bar Method 5 days a week. In for the long-haul all the way to May!

John turns 31 this weekend and I am whisking him away to Walla Walla for wine tasting and great food.

That’s about all I have for now! Love you all so much!

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Gratitude

Happy December, readers.

photo 5I have this little notebook that I have been carrying around with me for almost a year. On the cover of my cherry red, pocket-sized carrier it reads, She makes the day brighter. She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes. I remember seeing it at the store, purchasing two of them and shipping one off to my best friend in Alabama. Since then I have filled the pages with a multitude of words. Quotes I want to remember, gratitude statements and bucket lists of things I want to remind myself to do.

Our Thanksgiving was a big giant cup overflowing with blessings. John and I spent time in Birmingham with the people that we talk to often but rarely get to see, our families. Everywhere I turned was full of rich conversation. The week following our trip was spent discussing how much we appreciate them and how perfect our time home was soaking up their company. It made me want to begin jotting down things that I am grateful for, big and small.

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Lunching in Birmingham at Bottega Cafe.

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Courtney and her daughter, Alice Wells. I had so much fun seeing them!

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Thanksgiving in Birmingham at the Gleysteens

This time of the year always stresses me out… what gifts should I be buying, how perfectly can I decorate our home, what in the world am I going to wear to that Christmas Party…? So this morning I stopped and pulled out my red notebook and  thumbed through the pages. I quickly realized that most of my notes were already about viewing life differently; being grateful for what I have instead of making growing lists of things I want.

Here are a few that stood out the most:

Let us, then, be up and doing,photo
with a heart for any fate;
still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
-A Psalm of Life

What an amazing gift we are given: the space to exist. The space to just be. As we are, as we are not. And who are we to not share that gift -our space- with others? Isn’t that the most truly generous, vulnerable act we are capable of committing? Sharing openly, authentically with the people in our lives.

This year I am thankful for so many things: a loving family and husband to be, a warm place to come home to, a steady job, friendships that are deep and spread throughout the country, being healthy and injury-free. I have so much to be grateful for and I hope that spreading gratitude becomes an everyday thing for me instead of just around the holidays.

We are hosting my supper club for an Italian Christmas Dinner tomorrow night… I am also thankful for party dish rentals and good wine!

Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. And Thank you, for whatever roll you play in our lives.
Our cup truly is running over,

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Prost!

Hey there my long lost band of followers. So sorry for all of the silence. I hope you are enjoying the season change as much as we have been!

Here’s what we were up to in October:

Chris turned 30 and Courtney surprised him BIG TIME. She rented a cabin in Government Camp and organized family and friends from all over to fly out and celebrate. We had to leave after dinner on Saturday since I had to run the Portland Marathon on Sunday but it was totally worth it.

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Friday night spread of goodness. We even made it to the hot tub.

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Love her!

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Afternoon hike to Burnt Lake (not the smartest move the day before the marathon but it was worth the view).

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Courtney’s dad made us the most impressive paella dinner.

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Courtney, Chris, me and John before heading back to Portland.

John and I have been planning a trip to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest since we moved out here. It finally worked out where my friends were able to come too. We had so much fun in the tiny Bavarian town.

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We managed to get in a post-marathon trail run before heading into town. The dog does not belong to us but his name was Sly so he was definitely welcome… he took on the straight up hills better than me.

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Kelly, me and Aofie trying out our new steins. 

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Cannot tell you how blessed I am to know this fine group of people.

We have managed to make it to a few more shows lately. Even to hear a prospective band for the wedding! I told John I need to purchase “concert shoes” — Translation: my feet start hurting after standing and listening to music for a couple of hours so, therefore, concert shoes are a completely justifiable purchase, right?

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Karl Denson made it back to Portland so John made sure we made it to the show.

And then in November…

I am SO SO SO SOOOOOOOO proud of John! He ran his first half marathon a few weeks ago! It was all on trails and in the cold, drizzly rain. Seriously beaming with pride. It was very hilly, rainy, muddy and so much fun. He did AWESOME. He beat me and ran it in 1:45. I came in 7 seconds behind 3rd in my AG in 1:47. Who cares… this one was all about him.

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I bought him a cheesy 13.1 sticker and made him pose with it before the race. He was a trooper.

It gets dark pretty early these days so this is how we usually spend our evenings. A nice glass of wine and John serenading me with a little bluegrass. He is getting in some good practice thanks to this research block.

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Yes, I am still running but haven’t signed up for another race yet. I am looking for a good one in the spring before the wedding. Speaking of the wedding!!!! Save the Dates went out and our photographer and florist have been chosen. Next up is… well, I can’t tell you all of the details! I must save some for a surprise.

We leave for Birmingham in less than 2 weeks!

It’s truly been a beautiful fall here in the pacific northwest 🙂

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Portland Marathon Recap, 3 Minutes from Boston

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I approached the start line of the Portland Marathon Sunday morning feeling rested, fueled, and very uncertain of what the race had in store for me. I have been training steady since the 50 miler but haven’t incorporated any speed work and have backed off about 15 miles a week. I had no idea what my body would be ready to do. Trails are certainly different than the road.

I began in Corral B with the 3:40 pace group but started dreaming big and moved up to the 3:35’s (my Boston Qualifying time) early on in the race. Pace leaders in the Portland Marathon pace you by effort. Some miles are a little faster than others so that when you reach the big hill at St. Johns bridge (mile 17ish) you can slow it down some, even out your effort and pick up speed on the downhills. The group carried me at a solid 8:07 pace until just after the bridge, but I felt myself slowing little by little as they maintained and picked up speed.

You finish… what you start,” some homeless man yelled at me from the sideline.

Even though I was getting further away from the group I was determined to keep them in sight. At mile 22 I still had time to finish in 3:35. It was going to take everything I had left but it was certainly doable. That hope lasted about a mile. Just after I hit 23 I realized I was slowing even more. I kept doing the math and while my pace needed to increase for me to make it, my legs were slowing. I wanted it so badly.

So, I tried. I pushed myself extremely hard the last 2 miles. Up over the Broadway Bridge and through downtown. I made the turn onto Nato Parkway and 800 yards from the finish line my Garmin hit 3:35. Just like that my goal of qualifying slipped right through my fingers. I was fast, faster than I have ever been in a marathon, but simply not fast enough for a BQ.

3 minutes. 180 seconds. 800 yards from accomplishing one of my biggest goals.

While I am extremely proud of my 11 minute PR and I am overjoyed with breaking 3:40, there’s a tiny bit of sadness and disappointment I can’t seem to shake. My efforts on Sunday were so big. My discipline has been so finite. I have worked so unbelievably hard. I know what it takes for an “everyday, average runner” like me to get there. I started this journey to Boston years ago and this is the closest I have gotten.

I guess it’s circumstances like this one that make you want something even more. It’s going to take another race or two or three but I am even more determined to get there now. 3 minutes. 180 seconds. Those last 800 yards…

You finish… what you start. I intend to do just that.

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Rainy Weekends

Hi there!

What a crazy week it has been. Work has me a little exhausted, while my other half is very much enjoying his six months of research and working from the home office a few days a week.

Last Saturday morning I woke up early to meet the group for our last long(ish) run before the marathon. The weather looked debatable but held off until we finished all 16 miles.

When I got home John had our camping gear strung out all over the place. I told him about the dark clouds looming around Portland in every direction but he was determined to get in one more camping trip before fall showed up in the Pacific Northwest. Why we decided to go backpacking and NOT car camping is beyond me. But I put on my camping pants and a BIG smile and we hit the trail around 2pm on Saturday IN THE RAIN.

We luckily found a shelter and were able to escape the wind and rain and actually build a fire but goodness… it was cold!!

BeforePutting on a smile before we hit the trail in the rain.
(I also just woke up from a nice nap, hence why I look so sleepy!) 

BackpackingCreek Crossing on the Timberline Trail.

campfireTrying to dry out our shoes and hats by the fire.

Let’s just say that I learned my lesson: I was not made for cold, rainy backpacking trips. John just kept calling it an adventure, which I guess is a little accurate.

It’s supposed to pour this weekend too but this time we will be nice and dry and warm in front of the TV hosting  a “house divided” football party. John is resurrecting the smoker and I have promised him a homemade apple pie. I also have champagne in the fridge– whichever team wins I am sure we will celebrate.

And I definitely added the countdown app! Cannot wait to marry this guy in less than 8 months!

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Hotty Toddy Y’all!

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Better late than never… Fall updates!

I know, it’s been over a month… my sincere apologies. We have been nonstop, full speed ahead since August and I can barely keep up! This update will be mostly visual since I have a lot to catch you up on!

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Mom and I before dinner at Lincoln.

My mom and Roger came to visit a few weeks ago and we had a great time eating some amazing food and catching up. They were in town for “Memphis Goes Hog Wild in Portland” – a local winemaker at Elk Cove invited 5 Memphis chefs to town to pair some of their foods with his wines. It was a perfect match. We had dinner at Lincoln one night and headed out to Elk Cove for a hog roast that weekend. It was such a great visit. I even found a wedding dress!

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Hog Roast at Elk Cove Vineyards

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Our friend’s Danny and Ashley found out they are having a baby… GIRL, so we threw a fun party for them. I had the envelope for an entire week and had to keep my lips sealed.

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John spent a week of vacation in New York with some med school friends while I spent my week on I-5. It was a really productive week at work, I feel like I am finally getting comfortable in my own skin and learning my way through the system, but I hated to miss such a fun week off with him. He certainly deserves a vacation far more than me!

While he was away we had supper club in Lake Oswego at Caitlin’s. Not a bad way to spend the end of a fun day.

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I did talk him into flying back early to go to the San Juan Islands for Labor Day weekend so we were able to sneak away together for a few days of camping and sea kayaking!

SanJaunsFerryOn the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor

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Campsite on Friday Harbor (please disregard my appearance!)

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Friday Harbor

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 Island Hoppin’ Brewery

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West Beach Resort on Orcas Island
(Don’t let the name fool you, it was just a glorified campsite!)

After our fun trip to the San Juans my running group threw an amazing backyard engagement party. I am not very good at letting people do things for me so I made them promise to keep it small and simple. We (well, maybe I should say others) played the guitar around the fire pit until late into the night. Aofie even made us a chocolate Guinness cake! It was all perfect. I am so thankful to have such sweet friends.

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Last weekend we snuck away for a day to do a 16 mile hike in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It was the most gorgeous hike we have done yet. Washington is such a beautiful state.

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On top of Hawkeye Point, Mt. Adams to the South

We are still on the fence of what to do this weekend but John purchased a camping stove and water purifier so my guess is we will be back out camping again, this time backpacking! I absolutely love this time of the year in the Pacific Northwest.

Another time of the year that I love is Thanksgiving. Last night when I got home from work John handed me a very sweet letter from his dad… he is flying us home to spend Thanksgiving in Birmingham! I was in tears. I was so overwhelmed and thankful and surprised. I cannot wait to be back and share our engagement with family and spend Thanksgiving together!

So sorry it has taken me a month to get you in the loop (ahem, Grandmother). I promise to do much better in the coming weeks! Marathon number… I have lost count… is two weeks from Sunday. Someone got up extra early this morning to run his first 9 miles, very proud of him 🙂

Not enough fingers to count my blessings these days… Love you all!

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ps- I have many more photos to post but we are fine tuning our photography skills so I will save the sea kayaking and mountain views for another post another day!

Lately…

Oh my stars, I am so sorry I haven’t updated you in weeks. We have been trucking along, enjoying Portland in its thriving months of summer!

We had our last Hulu Lulu run on Tuesday night. Scott is taking off to Germany and Katy is passing the torch so we did one final lap around the waterfront and then headed to Rouge Brewery in our Hawaiian shirts for one last hurrah. I don’t think we have ever stayed that late on a Tuesday night. I am so thankful for such a strong running community and even better friendships through that run. Just because it won’t be organized doesn’t mean you won’t find us circling the waterfront on a random Tuesday night anyways.

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Great group of ladies!

On Saturday I had the best treat I could have ever asked for! Anna, my college roommate and very good friend, had been on an Alaskan cruise that docked in and out of Seattle. I found a spot on the Bolt Bus and made a day trip up to have lunch with her and Ben. I love that I haven’t seen her since December of 2011 but we can still pick right back up as if we were in the same city all along. I am beyond excited that she will be standing up there with me on my big day. I couldn’t ask for a better friend!

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Engagement toast and shopping at Pike Place Market for the day.

Just because I haven’t been running 70 miles a week doesn’t mean I have lost my appetite. I currently cannot get enough fruit, especially peaches right now. So, I made my first peach cake last night!

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Ina Garten’s Peach Cake – I added a touch of cinnamon to my batter, the house smelled delicious!

I am currently in “goal mode.” In September I am going down to Ashland to pace a friend from Alabama that is running Pine to Palm, a 100 mile endurance run. I’ll hop in around mile 74 and run him in. Running from 11pm to 6am will give me a better feel for what a 100 miler might be like. My wheels are turning.

Today I decided that I cannot let my friends run the Portland Marathon without me, so with the help of a very generous sponsor (ahem, dad) I bit the bullet and signed up! Another marathon on October 6th, this time with a few of my favorites pictured above.

In other exciting news, we have a new runner among us… JOHN! I’d like to think I might have had something to do with his recent enthusiasm (that or he has just been really anxious to finish his current audiobook). I asked very nicely one evening if he wanted to try and run a half marathon with me in November and he said yes. So, at 8am sharp I signed us up for the Silver Falls Half Marathon -which sold out 600 spots in 10 minutes! He likes to tell me everyday just how many days we have left. I think we’re around 86, he’s adorable. November 2nd, send up some prayers that I don’t get upset when he beats me.

All of these goals are helping me stay on track, right up until May 24, 2014… oh yeah, we have officially set a date! My mom is coming to visit this week and wedding dress shopping commences on Friday, I am so excited!

Life is so good,

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Mt Hood 50

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“Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further… past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known.”

That’s me up there crossing the 50 mile finish line after 9 hours and 24 minutes of running on the PCT. I’m not going to tell you that it was easy or that I would recommend it for just anyone. I’m not going to tell you that I enjoyed every second of it or that I hated it. But I will break down the day for you in the most honest way possible: it was tough but I was just a little bit tougher.

Here were my goals for the day:
Be light on your feet. Choose your path wisely. When you trip, roll with it. Relax in the midst of effort. Concentration does not mean tension. Dress the part. Ask questions. GO YOUR OWN PACE. If others need to pass, they will. Make adjustments to remain balanced. Pack smart. Have options. Refuel before you are empty. Finish a better woman for having made the adventure.

We started the day at 4 am, packing up the car and getting on the road for a 6:30 race start. Being my first 50 miler, I photo 2was surprisingly calm. When I first began running trails I had to realize that my sense of time had to change, and like in life, I had to accept that worthwhile things can take a long time. It was certainly going to be a long day.

The course was an out and back 28 total and another out and back 22 total. Aid stations were set every 5-6 miles stocked with Gu’s, s-caps, pb&j, chips, coke, gummy bears. You name it, it was probably there. My first 25 miles were relatively quick. I met some great people on the trail that carried me at a solid pace, but I backed down when I realized that 5th female was probably jumping the gun a little. (Who was I kidding? I NEEDED to slow it down!)

I would say miles 25-35 were the most difficult for me. I coasted into the start/finish 28 mile station and John greeted me with my electrolytes and a big grin. (How could that adorable face not have cheered me up!) The 2nd half of the race was the meaty part, extreme elevation gains and drops made it difficult to keep a steady pace. I walked the ups and ran the downs. I was tired. When I reached the 39 mile turnaround I made a decision to let my mind wander a little. The next thing I knew I had 5.5 miles until the finish. My Garmin was dying but I caught myself checking it anyways, not because I wanted to see how much further I had to go, but because I wondered how much time I had left to enjoy. Those last few miles were a victory lap for me. A pat on the back for getting up at 4:30am every day to run in the pouring rain, to miss dinners and fun weekends because mine were spent on the trails, to squeeze in mileage whenever I could so that I could teach spin classes, hike mountains, and still have a life, and to feel fresh and light on my feet after 47 miles of running. I wanted to enjoy every last step. My legs felt strong. My feet weren’t achy. My quads didn’t hurt. I can’t really compare those last few miles to anything– it was a very emotional (evidence above) and a very proud experience for me.

I crossed the finish line 3/18 in my age group, 7/48 female, and 50/127 overall with plenty left in my legs. 9 hours and 24 glorious minutes to run 50 miles.  I would do it all again in a heartbeat…

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and I definitely will. Love to all of you for your unbelievable support!!! I think I’ll take it easy this week 🙂

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the taper

So here we are. Race week.

Unfortunately, this is my least favorite part of this whole thing… I hate the taper. I am the type of person that enjoys training for a race far over race day itself, so when the taper shows up between the part I like and the part I don’t, I am not myself. I am hungry, achy, lazy, grumpy, restless and impatient. My mind wanders. I can’t focus long. I can’t sleep. I definitely prefer training over this any day. I enjoy long runs with my friends. I like big meals and hot showers. I revel in getting dirty and then clean. Eating whatever I want. Logging the miles and feeling tired but stronger by the week.

Race day doesn’t even come close to being as fun either. There’s the early alarm. I barely sleep. Mad rush to eat, pack the car and get to the start. Race bibs. Pins. Watches. Drop bags. Other, super fit, runners running around looking ‘ready’ and fast. A lot of hurry up and wait. Gu and gear and gun… boom, it starts.

Honestly, it isn’t fun for me (not entirely) until I finish. I like it better in the rear view mirror. The memories that come flooding back of the countless training runs, how difficult it was to climb that last hill and how exciting it was to see people you love cheer you on through something so challenging. BUT since this isn’t really a ‘race’ for me, it’s a test of endurance, I have decided to embrace the taper. To eat when I am hungry. To rest when I can. To enjoy being showered and fresh for a few days. I am going to rely on my training, plan early so I am not rushed, stretch it out and enjoy staying off of these tired feet. I’m going to focus on building up the efforts ahead instead of tearing myself down with fear.

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And then, with every last thing I have in me, I am going to run 50 miles around Mt Hood.

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30s and crawfish and HEAT

I blinked and it was July.

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Last week I turned 30 and I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome than spending it with good friends at home eating one of my favorite meals and drinking champagne. Saturday morning I woke up early, crept downstairs and whisked out the door for my last big training run. I ran the first couple of hours by myself then met the Portland Marathon Clinic for the last three. The sun was out, the volunteer stations were necessary and our pace group had a blast.

That afternoon John and I picked up 50 lbs of crawfish and helped throw a welcome party for the new residents. He started his THIRD year of residency on Monday. Proud, proud, PROUD of that guy!!! (On a side note I am very excited that one resident is from Mississippi and her boyfriend went to Alabama–football season party plans are already underway!)

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On Sunday, Sally went with me for a site visit in wine country. I have a place in mind for the wedding but there are many big things I need to decide on. Turns out, planning a wedding is so much fun! I had no idea I would be this into it!

Eleven days until the race and it is HOT here. We do not have air conditioning, just one floor fan we purchased last year. I went to get us another one yesterday and the entire fan isle was sold out. Hoping the heat is gone by race day.

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I am off work for the rest of the week and will be taking my running super easy, hoping it keeps my nerves from getting the best of me. We are planning to camp around Oregon for the upcoming holiday and are looking forward to staying up late by a campfire and getting in some great hikes.

As my co-workers have been telling me… I don’t need any sparklers this year 🙂 Happy 4th of July!

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