Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The rumors are true: There IS magic in Eugene

First things first - Becka and I finished in 5:17, which is 1. not a PR, but is 2. MUCH faster than 7 hours, and 3. exponentially better than being dead.

I feel like it COULD have been a PR kind of day, but I was kind of hurting, and... well, I just really enjoyed the course, and I'm glad I wasn't too distracted to keep yelling "OHMYGOSH THIS IS THE PRETTIEST PLACE EVER!".

There is always, always, always another race.

In hindsight, I will admit that I was a little sad when we let the PR dreams go, but considering the state of my entire right leg today (48 hours later), it was a good call, and probably one I should have made earlier in the race.

Anyway. Apparently I personalized my bib! I forgot all about doing this!

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We met up with Alma and Kim Saturday afternoon (after a quick stop at Voodoo Donuts {x2} and Lululemon in Portland - which, btw, is a colorful city...). We had a lame dinner at Amici in Springfield, then headed over to Hop Valley Brewing to continue our carb loading festivities.

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After morning arrangements were made, and parking tips provided, everyone headed off to separate rooms, and I think we were in bed by 10? Early birds!

We stayed at Holiday Inn Express in Springfield, about 10-15 minutes from the start line, and I can't reccommend this place enough - in addition to being adjacent to a brewery, they also provided a super late checkout (2:30!), so we could even come back and shower after the marathon. Sweet!

We left around 6am, for the 7am start, and found parking pretty easily - we got SUPER lucky that we got where we did, because by the time we got out of the car and back to the main street, it had been blocked off already. So, of note, getting there around 6:15 was okay, but close - and there was plenty of parking to choose from. The shuttles sounded like they might take forever, so I'm glad we made this choice. (that is, I was until we ran right by our car at mile 9.5, and thought, huh, wouldn't it be kind of nice to just stop here? And we were joking, but some people weren't....)

Ran into SR at the awesome bathroom lines....
Tip: There were lines lines lines lines lines like mad for the bathrooms. If you can hold it, do - there are TONS of bathrooms on the course. If you cannot wait, head to the very back - lines were WAY shorter. OR, if you're a risk taker, once the race started, there was zero line - the race is chip timed, so if you don't mind dodging a bit, that might be an option.

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The course is BEAUTIFUL. It never felt too crowded, and there was plenty of room to maneuver.

The first 9 miles run through some residential areas, and the crowd support is amazing.

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Dear H: It's so pretty here, I might just stay forever.
I took this picture on the giant hill at mile 8, because Gabby LOVES dinosaurs. Turns out, it's Kim's friend, Maureen! Happy coincdence!

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At mile 11, you cross over the river, and head into a little section of trail, and then a residential area again.

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Dear H: This is my new running path....

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Miles 13-16 are through kind of a commercial area, and on a coned of section of the road - not my favorite, but it wasn't the worst ever.
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it's true, there is!

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The thing that I was REALLY excited about, when I decided I wanted to do Eugene, were the miles on the Willamette River. It looked so, so pretty. And it was, which I yelled to Becka about 437 times.

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Dear H: It's for real, I'm staying.

We found the Hash House Harriers around mile 22.6...

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You stay on the beautiful river path until mile 25, then you run through some funky industrialish not-pretty route, until you're suddenly back out in the street at mile 25.5. And, just when you're saying, "Maybe we can walk until mile 26....", you turn a corner, and like magic, your friends that ran the half are somehow RIGHT THERE ready to take your picture!

See? Magic. In Eugne.

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Post race, there was the standard medical, photographer, food, etc., but we knew there were people waiting for lunch, so we headed out expeditiously. After some delicious food, B, L and I started the long, beautiful drive up to Portland, to complete the Voodoo Trifecta.

Did you know, there are three Voodoo locations - two in Portland, one in Eugene. We managed to hit all three in just over 24 hours. BEST CHALLENGE EVER.

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The end.

Eugene is a GREAT race, and I would totally do it again. Kim was a fantastic hostess, and even though I didn't love Pitch Perfect (sorry, ladies), I loved being there.

Excellent, excellent weekend.

Let's do it again, yes?

Friday, April 26, 2013

And I ran... I ran so far away.

1. Or just 5 miles. Whatever.

2. This is me, every day.
3. Look how cute we were in Van 2!! This is before our 2pm middle of the Corona desert leg, which made me SIGNIFICANTLY less cute immediately.

4. SO cute, AND SO FAST that we won first in our division (by we, I sincerely mean, the 11 fast people who dragged me along, because believe me when I say, we won DESPITE me).

5. I hear magic happens in Eugene.

I'm really going in unprepared, I think. My long runs have been pretty much non-existent:
April 13 - 20 miles (11:25 pace)
April 8 - 13 miles  (11:23 pace)
March 30 - 15 miles, but should have been 20 (11:25 pace)
March 17 - 15 miles, plus 4 miles earlier in the day (11:07)
March 3 - 18 miles (11:07 pace)

Okay, I guess when I type it out in a list, it doesn't actually look THAT awful. It's not ideal; at least I got some long stuff in. But, clearly I've gotten significantly slower (credited to running about half of the miles I should have run in training).

Ideally, it will be a glorious day, and the weather will be great, and we'll breeze in sub-5 and be happy.

Or, maybe beat my SFM time from last July (5:10:xx).

Or, not get swept and/or die (7 hour course limit).


I am REALLY excited for Eugene, even if I kind of blew off my goal race training plan because I'm lame. But I'm excited for the course, and I'm REALLY excited to see a bunch of my friends.

And the beer, of course. The beer.

Anyone want to take a guess at my Eugene time??

Maybe I'll toss out a free tube of Nuun to whoever comes the closest ;).

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dinosaur Party : Team Gab (not)Virtual Race/End of Chemo Party

So, listen. I'm not great - or even marginally decent - at crafty-type projects. I am also reasonably terrible at throwing parties for kids.

Confession: I have never, in the 14 years I've been parenting, thrown a birthday party for any of my 3 children. I know, don't all rush to award me Mother of the Year.

But as we reached the end of Gabby's leukemia treatment, I wanted to do something special. I planned the Team Gab Virtual Race for the same date as her last treatment day, and figured.... I know what a finish line spread should look like, at least, so maybe I'll throw a party for her there?

I didn't consult her, because the idea of weeks and weeks of "IS IT MY PARTY YET" made me cringe. But Gabby is SUPER into dinosaurs, so that was the theme I went with.

It started out simply enough - dinosaurs, it can't be THAT hard - and I started clicking around the internet machine for ideas, and.... well, to be honest, it exploded in a mess of glitter and glue, and I spent hours and hours and HOURS AND HOURS crafting a variety of projects, creating tablescapes, and plotting food arrangements. My dining room was basically declared off limits for a week, and every day I would come home from work, and plunge into glue for hours and hours.

And that was before we decided to invite HER friends, and not just ours :-/ {another Mother of the Year nomination, The H had to suggest we invite Gabby's friends and classmates, and otherwise, it would not have even crossed my mind. So, really, it's all his fault that this party got crazy}.

We didn't send out party invites to her friends until about a week out, and by then I assumed that most of her friends would have plans already. BOY howdy, was I wrong - I think all but one kid turned up.

So, with less babbling, here's the results of the party, and some details. Some of this stuff is pinterest worthy, but I don't know how to use pinterest, otherwise I'd tell you to pin this isht.


We held the party at Mason Regional Park in Irvine - tip: they charge HUNDREDS of dollars to reserve shelters. That's not hyperbole - the shelters start at $200 for the day, up to $500 for a larger shelter. Or, if the shelter is unreserved, you can just show up early and claim it, which is what we did for Shelter 2. Shelter 2 is right on the water, close proximity to a bathroom, volleyball court, and playground, and the runnning/walking/sidewalk loop runs directly by it. I spent weeks stalking it online, but noticed that NONE of the shelters were getting reserved, so I just crossed my fingers really, REALLY hard and showed up at 7am when the park opened.

There was a sink and running water there, which was helpful, but it's a little bit of a hike from the parking area.

For the run event:

With some last minute cancellations, we only had a handful of runners out in the morning, but I was prepared with a spread of juice, coffee, bagels, peanut butter, and muffins, as well as Nuun, GU, and some candy.




Striding Mom and kidlets

Party Decorating

I had visions of a banner. I know it's a little hipster-ish, but I decided... to make one?

It seemed to be like a very easy project when I googled it, but it turned into a days-long event that occupied a ton of my time. I'm sure that for anyone who is remotely good at crafts, it would be a very simple undertaking, because it was NOT complicated.

I bought this type of card stock, the package with a variety of colors, and a package of this glittery paper as well. With the plain paper, I cut off the bottom corners into an upside-down pentagon. Then, mimicked that shape, but slightly smaller in the glitter paper (cut with some scalloped edge type scissors?), and glued them on top. Then, in contrasting colors back in the plain card stock, I free-hand drew some weird letters, and cut them out and glued them on top (to glue on the glitter paper, I used rubber cement, and it stuck just fine, and I'm pretty sure I got a contact high, as well, so double bonus?).

So basically, it was plain card stock background, glitter paper second layer, then a plain card stock letter in white.

Hole punched in the corners, and tied the letters together with curling ribbon. Between the words, I hung a dino foot print cut out in green card stock.

The tables were covered with a plain green vinyl sheet from Party City, with this colored mesh as a table runner. Around the edges of the table, we put just a simple jungle-y fringe, also from Party City. Dinosaur plates and green cups, also found at Party City.


Party Food

For the food, I figured I should continue the dino-theme, and made up - basically - goofy names for everything we had on the food spread.

I bought a package of luggage tags like these, at JoAnne's (that link is for a retailer, I couldn't find them on the JoAnne's site), and with sharpies (colored in brown, purple, and green to match the party theme) wrote a variety of Jurassic-y themed descriptions:
Triceratop Treats (for take home boxes)
Hunting Grounds (Carnivores - for the meat eaters)
Jurrasic Gardens (for the herbivores)
Watering Hole (ice bucket with drinks - water, juices soda)
Jungle Punch (fruit punch)
Lime Slime (jello with gummy worms)
Dino Bones (pretzel sticks)

I decorated those with dinosaur stickers from Party City, and they looked very fancy.

We laid out a fruit tray (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, and kiwi), tangerines, veggie tray with hummus, meat/cheese tray, and bread for sandwiches, and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.

This is supposed to be a brontosaurus, but Gabby disagreed. A for effort?

On a separate table, we had the glorious cupcakes from Rooney Girl, the jello, and the take-home boxes for candy.


Keeping Kidlets Contained

One of my concerns was that I really am not a kiddie-person, and don't really know what to do to entertain them.

We set out a length of table with each kid set up with a dinosaur mask to color (dinosaur face printed on regular paper, glued to poster board, and a popsicle stick attached to that to make a hand-held mask), various coloring pages, bubbles, playdough, and noise makers.


I initially planned to set up a safari/dino themed photo booth area, but it was just too windy for that to work out (note the banner flying around below....)

But, for that, we had a variety of stuff - safari hats, dinosaur noses, etc.
We bought this jute fabric sheet as a backdrop.

With the playground nearby, a pond stocked with frogs and turtles, and ample running-around-like-a-crazy-person space, the kids were properly entertained.

So, that's it. It took a LOT of time, but that's pretty much my own fault for being not intuitively crafty - everything I did took more time and thought, and patience. Oh man, the patience.

But if I can do it, I pinky swear anyone else can.

Photo credits to my #2, who I hired to play photographer for the day, and Madison, who is a better party-goer than I am :D

Monday, April 22, 2013

#RagnarSoCal with #TeamNuun

When I talked The H into letting me run Goofy Challenge AND Eugene Marathon, I had to trade out some other events - namely, Ragnar SoCal.

The course runs directly outside my office window.....
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heeeey, Santa Ana River Trail...
Plus, 1/3 of #VanAwesome from last year is busy growing tiny new humans, so I was resigned to staring longingly outside my office all day, wishing I were wearing a sweaty slap bracelet and not sleeping for 24 hours.

So when Sarah OUaL asked if I was interested in running with #TeamNuun, it took me approximately .47 seconds to tell her ABSOLUTELY I WILL.

(I'm ignoring the parts in the 3 weeks following me joining the team, where I almost dropped out when I realized I was BY FAR the slowest runner, when I wasn't having fun training, and when I thought my right quad might just amputate itself if I didn't cut some shit out).

I lived in denial for a few weeks, and procrastinated so much, that I was packing at 9:30 am on Friday morning, while van 1 was getting their safety briefing and at the start line.

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This year, I was runner 9, and in van 2 (last year, I was runner 3, in van 1), so it was like a whole new race for me.

Megan, our fearless Nuun leader and van 2 driver, got us to exchange 6 in record time, and we breezed through the paperwork, waivers, safety briefing (one for each van!), packet pick up. While our first runner got ready to pound out 8 miles in the hot, hot inland sun, we met up with van 1 for the first time, and got a present from Sheila!

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The other van 2 runners had already decorated the van for our adventure.
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Runner 7 off, and van 2 on duty.

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Man. Like last year, it was HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT. I think the heat index was 101? So not ideal, but... it's Ragnar, and it all moves so fast, so you barely even get to register the heat (ha).

Leg 9, my first.....

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This was an ugly, ugly slog up that hill, and down a long stretch of unshaded road. I have never been so psyched to see red lights during a run, ever.

After our van finished our 6 legs, we headed for a quick dinner at Applebees, and then on to the next major exchange, #18 at the Lawrence Welk Resort.
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We had a couple hours of downtime here while Van 1 worked their legs, before we headed out again (I think around 1am?).

My second leg, leg 21, was an easy 4 miler, mostly downhill. It was cold and glorious and everything should be run downhill in the cool dark air. (seriously, I want to find that exact race course).

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Safety first! Not even Ragnar Ambassador's can forego safety gear.
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San Marcos at 3am. In case you ever wondered what it looked like.

Van 2 finished up around 5:30am, and we headed out to find some breakfast.

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After breakfast and a delicious coffee break, we headed out to exchange 30, right in Torrey Pines. I was SUPER excited to hit this exchange, because I've never been to Torrey Pines.

And then we ended up here.

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Off the freeway in a broken van. Womp, womp.

Luckily, a friend of our first runner lives locally, and was able to pick her up and take her to the exchange so we could keep running. Van 1 rescued us shortly after, and the van rental company sent down a new van to get us through the remaining legs.

My last leg, leg 33, was an easy down/flat for 4 miles, then a killer death hill at the end.

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Our last runner handoff......
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And we headed down to the finish area to meet Van 1 and run Megan in as a team.

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I had a blast, Ragnar is just the funnest event in all the land. Everyone is fun, and friendly, and I can't wait to do it again. The entire course was well organized, and well marked. Ragnar does a stellar job at the logistics, which seems overwhelming to me in an event THIS enormous.

A HUGE thank you to Nuun for letting me on the team, and for their great support this weekend keeping us all hydrated in that hot SoCal sun!


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