Guess what I woke up to?  Snow!! 

A cold start to 2016!  Speaking of 2016, each year I give out calendars of pictures I’ve taken as Christmas presents.  Its how I pretend I’m a photographer!  Anyway, I have a few extra, which are up for grabs.  Email me at travelwithemily at gmail dot com if you are interested.  First come, first served.


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Word for 2016: Fight

I still haven’t done a wrap-up for 2015, and I imagine I’ll get to it eventually.  At the moment I don’t have real internet (its coming next week!!).  So posting is slightly complicated, especially if pictures are involved.

But on this, the first day of 2016, I wanted to share my word for the year.  I’ve participated word of the year (or one little word) off and on, usually more at the beginning of the year.  I tend to lose sight of it as the year goes on.  We shall see how this year progresses.

When I started thinking about a word for 2016, the word that kept coming to me was fight.  Fight?  Really?  But I couldn’t escape it.  As much as I tried to find another word, fight put up a good fight against being cast aside.  Okay, so fight it is.

As I started thinking about my word, it began revealing itself to me.  I have a new job and I am living in a new place.  I am an introvert by nature and can disappear quite easily.  I don’t like change, and I have serious anxiety issues when meeting people.  I have to fight for myself in this new space – not so much in a conflict sense, but more in a effort sense.  Or in a nothing comes easy sense.  I may have to work hard, but its going to be worth it.  Also in fight to not let history repeat itself.  When I moved to St Louis, it was so negative that I lost myself and didn’t fight.  All my energy was directed toward surviving.  I don’t want that to happen again.

Fight.  I think my first fight is going to be to find a yoga class and start going regularly.  I haven’t practiced yoga (other than here and there) since I moved to St Louis.  I miss it.  It may be small, but its a first step in carving out a space for me.

What’s your word for 2016?

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2015 12Ks of Christmas

This has been a staple in my race running career since I began running.  I’ve only missed it a couple of times (2008 – cancelled due to ice, 2010 – recovering from a torn MCL, and 2013 – in STL).  So of course when I saw the date was December 20th, I planned my trip back to Seattle to coincide with the 12Ks of Christmas.

I woke to cold and rain.  While I just received my boxes in Portland, I am no where near being unpacked.  I had thrown a few items in my suitcase, but of course not a hat or a raincoat.  I know it can be considered taboo to wear the race shirt the day of, but given my limited wardrobe and the coldness of the day, I went ahead and wore it.  I also bought a hat, but more for the cold as the rain died down.

The course was changed up from previous years, with promises of flattening out the course.  There would also be two water stops on the course.

We lined up at the start line and they released us in waves of a couple hundred at a time.

The first big change I noticed (other than starting in the complete opposite direction) was we had a downhill fairly quickly!  Through Marina Park (the old start/finish line) and down Lake Washington Blvd.

Based on my last 5K, I once again switched up my intervals, this time to 1:15 run / :45 walk.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to maintain the 1:30 / :45 so pre-emptively decided to shorten the run.  It was a good decision – while I was able to maintain 1:30 run for the 5K, I wasn’t sure that I could maintain it for the 12K.

The uphill to catch the Cross Kirkland Corridor was brutal.  Especially when at the top, there was the remains of a water station but no water.  Really?  This the second year in a row, there has been no water at the water stops.  Boo.  When a race says they are going to have water, shouldn’t they have water?  Even for the back of the pack runners?

The majority of the Cross Kirkland Corridor was gravel.  I played leap frog with a few folks.  And then we got to the second water stop.  Once again, no water.  So frustrating.  But it was so close to the end!  Up and down and up and a long down and we were at the finish!

Let’s talk times, shall we?  Last year I PR’d at 1:29:28.  It’s been somewhat disheartening to watch my times get longer and longer this year, and I knew that time was unattainable with where I’m at now.  Deep, deep down I really wanted to come in under 1:40 (my secret goal).  The last downhill definitely helped me sneak in under 1:40 at 1:37:27.

This year has not been great for me, running-wise, but as I look back at my history with this race, I realize I have come a long way.  With the exception of this year, I have improved my time every single year I’ve run this race.

  • 2006 – 2:00:37
  • 2007 – 1:44:08
  • 2009 – 1:42:28
  • 2011 – 1:39:34
  • 2012 – 1:33:04
  • 2014 – 1:29:28
  • 2015 – 1:37:27

Here’s hoping 2016 brings a little bit of speed with it!


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2015 Holiday 5K

How in the world did it get to be December?  And the middle of December at that?

A co-worker told me about the Holiday Half & 5K.  I thought once or twice about the half, but realized that would just be silly and so I signed up for the 5K.

As I made my way to the start line, I realized that I was really looking forward to this race as a way to judge where I am at, running-wise.  The last couple of half marathons I’ve done I’ve fallen apart.  Not to mention the lack of consistent training (or cross-training for that matter).  (The last couple of 5Ks I’ve done with others so I haven’t really been able to judge myself.)


At the start line

The race started on an uphill, but since it finished in the same spot (but in the opposite direction, so a downhill) I wasn’t going to complain too much.  I would much rather have the uphill at the beginning!

There wasn’t any seeding per se, but more of a request for the speedy folks up front and the rest of us in the back.  I made my way to the middle trying to seed appropriately.  Generally I start out WAY too fast and lose speed throughout the race.  But by being in the middle of this giant throng of runners, it actually kept my pace at a more consistent level.  Maybe there is something to that!

I’ve been playing with my intervals and recently changed them to 1:30 / 45 sec.  This was my first real test of the intervals in a race.

After that first uphill the course flattened out for the most part.  There were no aid stops for the 5K, but there was a caroler stop!  The course wound us through neighborhoods and then out along a road with views of the river.

Before you knew it, we were rounding the corner for the DOWNHILL finish!  Going into the race, I really debated with setting a time goal for myself.  Partly because I didn’t want to disappoint myself if I couldn’t hit it.  But then again, I was trying to judge where I am at, running-wise.  I had thought I would be happy with anything under 40 minutes.  I came across at 38:38.  I’ll take that.

Since this has already gone on too long, I’ll sum it up by saying, I don’t know that I’ve lost that much speed, but I have lost a lot of endurance.  Maybe its time I find a training plan that I can actually stick to!


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Hello Portland

Once upon a time (my favorite way to start any story) I moved to Portland.  Or, you know, two months ago.  What, two months already?  I know, I can’t believe it either!



Initially I was in corporate housing.  And I got spoiled – it was in a great location with a grocery store across the street.  And a coffee shop!  And a Chipotle down the block!!



The cherry on top was a few blocks down I could catch the waterfront trail.  Sadly I was only able to use it a few times.

Running along the waterfront

Running along the waterfront

Being that my housing was temporary, I was on the clock to find a new place to live.  Last time I ended up staying in my temporary housing.  I did think about it again, but it would have meant selling the majority of my belongings to fit in the tiny apartment I could afford.  Portland is slightly more expensive than St Louis, especially when looking downtown.

I embarked on the great apartment search of 2015, trying to find the perfect balance of space, commute and affordability.  Easier said than done.  I found some beautiful apartments but either they were too small or too far away (i.e. an hour-ish commute).  And none gave me that feeling of being home.  That’s how I ultimately knew the apartment in St Louis was the one – I was happy to come home.  Again, I imagine being across the street from Forest Park had a lot to do with it.

One dark and stormy night, after a long day of apartment searching, I ended up at a Mexican restaurant.  Over chips and salsa, I bemoaned my choices.  I was running out of time and I needed to make a decision.  Decision making is not my strong suit.  But leaving the Mexican restaurant, I drove by an apartment complex.  It looked okay in the dark.  It wasn’t too far out.  I emailed the apartment complex to find out more details.

A few days later I was signing a lease!  (After I looked at it of course.)  It was across the street from a grocery store!!  Not only is there a grocery store, but there is a Barre 3, a cycle place and an Orange Theory Fitness is coming!  I’ve been wanting to try Orange Theory!  There a few open spots for additional stores and my fingers are crossed for a Chipotle!  It had the space, was within my price range, and I have (at worst) a 30 minute commute.  And I felt good about coming home.

While I’m still waiting for my belongings to show up from St Louis, I’ve made a few purchases and unpacked so it’s really starting to feel like home.  Once I have it put together I’ll take some pictures.

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2015 Rock ‘N’ Roll Vegas

I find it slightly hilarious that even though I say I don’t like night races, this was my fourth of this year and second in a week!

A long time ago (possibly in a galaxy far away) this was going to be a girls weekend and an excuse to go see Britney!!  It was still a girls weekend, but smaller than originally planned.  It ended up being the Three Musketeers again (i.e. Nilufer, Jessica, and myself).

Three Musketeers

Three Musketeers

We met up Friday morning and hit up the expo.

Expo Fun

Expo Fun

And then got gussied up for a night out for BRITNEY!!  Did I mention we were going to see Britney??  Now, you may not know this about me (or actually you might) but I love pop music.  Especially bubblegum, teen pop.  A night singing along with Britney to Britney songs was A-MAZE-ING!  She’s definitely still got it.  And her dancers were awesome.


We took Saturday fairly easy.  I had lunch with my aunt who lives in Vegas.  Nilufer and I went to Mystere and met up with Jessica after to have dinner at the Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay’s restaurant).

Ready for the show

Ready for the show

Sunday.  Race Day.  While this was my fourth night race of the year, I still really haven’t mastered proper fueling for night races.  We decided on brunch, hoping eating all the things early enough would tide us over.

Brunch over, we headed back to the room to chill.  Jessica was doing the 10K, which started earlier and in a different spot (but it finished where the half and full where finishing).  We did a group picture and said goodbye and good luck to Jessica.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Then it was our turn!  We boarded the shuttle and drove the wrong way down the Strip!!  After being dropped off, we headed over to Mandalay Bay to use the real bathroom.  I said goodbye to Nilufer (who was starting in an earlier corral) and went to my corral.

Almost time

Almost time

The wind was definitely starting to kick up and the temperatures started to drop.  And then the rain started.

Finally it was my turn to go!!



Down towards the Las Vegas sign and back up the Strip.  It really is such a great race.  When else do they shut down the Strip!!?!  Oh yeah, New Years.

Welcome to Vegas

Welcome to Vegas

The wind was brutal.  Absolutely brutal.  At times (leaving the protection of the buildings) it was hard to tell if you were even moving forward.

The Strip

The Strip

After playing hide and seek with the Stratosphere, finally I caught back up to it and the lights of the Strip were in view again!



At this point, I was tired, both from the time of night and from fighting the wind.  My foot, which has been bothering me on and off, really started bothering me.  I was contemplating sitting on the curb and crying but I knew the finish line was just ahead.

Done!!  I grabbed a heat sheet and a water but I was so cold I didn’t drink the water and instead just held onto it (cue foreboding music).



The finish line chute was super long but finally I was out and headed back to the hotel.  Even with the heat sheet, I wasn’t getting warm.  I walked through the hotel towards the elevators and as I approached the elevators, the blood drained from my face, and I had a buzzing noise in my head/ears and I knew I was this close to passing out. I leaned up against the wall but knew that wasn’t going to help and started sliding down the wall, before my legs gave out.

The security guard at the elevator saw me and had me sit down on a chair by him.  He kept talking to me and asking how I was doing.  I figured if I just sat the feeling would pass.  But it didn’t.  I called Jessica and Nilufer to let them know.  At this point it had probably been 10 – 15 minutes and the dizziness and ringing in my ears was not going away.  I finally had the security guard call the EMT who basically said I was dehydrated and to drink water or electrolytes and see if that helped.  The problem was I could barely hold my head up without getting more dizzy, but I attempted to get down some water and Gatorade.

When I was able to move without feeling as if I was going to pass out, we made our way up to the hotel room.  I ate some very salty French fries and tried to get warm.  When a hot shower, didn’t quite do the trick, I got under the blankets with a heat sheet!!

A race in Vegas needed some drama right?  Even though this wasn’t my best race (by far!!), it still was a great race and I highly recommend it!!

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2015 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Christmas already!?  I was so excited to see that the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would be the weekend of the Wine & Dine Half (aka Quarter Marathon).  I enjoy going to the parties as it generally means less crowds and fun characters.  I won’t bore you with details of all the evening, except to share a few of my fave pictures from the evening.

Scrooge & Donald

Scrooge & Donald

Minne & Daisy

Minnie & Daisy

Minnie loved my schwings!

Minnie loved my schwings!

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle



Christmas Decor

Christmas Décor

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

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