Lightening Round of Races 2017 Part I

Blink and its May!  My grand ideas of getting caught up are quickly going by the wayside, so we’re going to do a lightening round of recaps!  Partly due to my quest for 40, partly due to motivation, and partly due to time, it may seem as if I’m going from race to race.  You would be correct in that assumption.  Here we go:

#1 ORRC 10K – this was my first race of the new year (and it was my first race of 2016).  It was a race against the snow (it started snowing just after I finished).  I like this race because you can wait in the school before it starts and there is a pancake breakfast when you finish!  Secret goal going into the race: under 1:20, actual time: 1:16:57!

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Beat the snow!

#2 Race for Warmth 10K – nothing like a last minute race decision!  This was a smallish race on the Washington side of the river.  Work is generally crazy in January and add in a couple weeks of snow, so I wasn’t expecting much from this race.  Especially with a crazy hill at the end.  Secret goal going into the race: under 1:20, actual time 1:19:50 (whew, just snuck under 1:20).

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Brrr

#3 Chocolatathon 5K – another last minute race decision, but one that ended in lots and lots of chocolate!  And a medal!  This race took place in Cook Park, which I really should explore more!  I walked this race with Jessica so no time goals.

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Mmm Chocolate!

#4 Heartbreaker 10K – not to far from my house, and another race that starts outside a school which means real bathrooms and a warm place to wait!  This is definitely a hilly course!  But still a lot of fun, especially with the finish on the track!  Secret goal going into the race: under 1:20, actual time 1:20:41 (not quite under, but not quite over 1:20).

 

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Gotta love races that end with cookies

 

 

#5 Wurst Run 10K – how can you not love a race that bills itself as the wurst race?  This race was a bit of a drive, and involved several hills, but was great fun.  I had 9 miles on the calendar so arrived early and started exploring.  The starting point was right outside a Bavarian inspired hall which was hosting a Wurst festival later in the day!  I actually had great timing until all of a sudden I had to go the bathroom NOW!!  I made it to the start line literally seconds before the race started.  I hate being late, and prefer being super early so that was a bit difficult.  Secret goal going into the race: under 1:18 (surprised?), actual time 1:17:10.  Whew!

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Stay tuned for the next episode!!

 

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Tiptoe through the 2017 Tulips

One of my favorite Seattle activities!  I happened to be in Seattle in April and so decided to make the trek up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Due to our wonderful weather this year (cough sarcasm cough) the tulips were delayed and just waking up for the season.  It was still so amazing to see the all the beautiful colors.  Tulips make me smile!!

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I love it when the tulips match my shoes!

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2017 Big Cottonwood Canyon 10K

My dear blog readers!!  And my poor neglected blog!  I keep having grand ideas of getting caught up, but no luck so far.  I’m going to skip around here, and you’ll soon see why this one is first!

 

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Brr!  Thank goodness for coffee!

 

Once upon a time, as in last year, I said to myself, I’d really like to PR my 10K.  And guess what?  I did just that!  The fact the race was mostly downhill may have played a teeny tiny roll in the PR.  By teeny tiny I mean it had everything to do with the fact the race was mostly DOWNHILL!  I really should do all my races downhill.  Ha!

What was this magical race?  Not only was it my 14th race of 2017, but it was in a new state (UT) and I got a PR!!  Can I say PR a few more times?

Jessica & I have talked about going to Utah for while to visit a national park or two.  Which is how this trip started.  Due to scheduling issues and other things the national parks were not going to be in the works this trip, but a race was!  Big Cottonwood Canyon lined up perfectly with our travel plans and I signed up!

 

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Beautiful scenery

 

It was a point to point race down Cottonwood Canyon, with a half, 10K, or 5K option.  Originally I was planning on the half but when it worked out I could do Tink (!!) I opted for the 10K.  Our hotel was literally across the street from the finish.  The finish was also where we were picked up and bussed up to the start line.

It was super dark when I caught the shuttle.  The start line was along the side of the road, however they had coffee and cocoa while we waited.  The views were amazing!  The sun was coming up by the time we started.

I didn’t have a real plan going into this race.  I knew it was downhill and  should take advantage of that.  In the end I decided to play it by ear – I wouldn’t go more than 3 intervals without taking a walk break.

 

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Almost go time!

 

GO!  We were off down the hill.  It was amazing!  The first mile went super fast, as did the second mile.  It was part way through the third mile that the thought of a PR entered my head and exited fairly quickly.  Apparently I had dropped my phone a ways back!  Oh no!  As I turned around to see if I could find it, another runner came up behind me and handed me my phone.  Hallelujah!!  PR attempt back on!

 

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Down the canyon

 

Soon we were out of the canyon and onto a trail near the river  I can’t say enough about the gorgeous course.  It had flattened out by then.  I tried not to keep watching my watch…but it was hard.   My current 10K PR was 1:14.   The time kept ticking down.  Race math is not my forte but I was starting to feel confident I was going to break 1:14.

And there it was!  The finish line!!  I went across the line with a huge smile on my face….and a time of 1:08:06!

 

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Done!!

 

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Matchy matchy is the best

 

 

 

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2017 Shamrock 15K

Hello dear readers!  My poor neglected blog.  Just when I think life can’t get more busy, the busy turns up a notch.  Although it is promising to be a slightly less chaotic summer.  Hallelujah!

Since I’m turning a very scary (to me anyway) number this year, I decided it would be a good idea to try to run 40 races.  Why I thought this was a good idea, I am not sure.  I finished race #11 earlier today and at some point I will try and do a lightning round of recaps.  But I thought I’d give an actual post to Shamrock since it is one of the premier events in Portland.

Last year, Shamrock was so wet!  Good news, it wasn’t wet this year.  It was freezing, but no rain!  But let’s back up a tick.  They rearranged the schedule and the 15K was no longer first!  Yay!  However the 5K was first, which turned out to be a good thing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I decided to take the Max into downtown to avoid and parking hassle.  Halfway there I realized I had forgotten my iPod and my watch!!  Oh snap!  What  to do?  Fortunately my friend Jessica was doing the 5K and offered to lend me her watch.  I was on my own for the iPod.  But what I’ve found is that every once in a while it is good to run without music.  I caught up with Jessica right before the start and grabbed the watch.

 

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The Great Watch Hand-off

 

Finally it was time for the 15Kers to line up.  They had changed the route slightly from the year before, but the route looked just as hilly, but backwards.

Going into the race I wasn’t expecting much – my training has really consisted of races and I had gotten back from Disney World the night before.  However, I like to have a goal.  Taking everything into consideration, I was hoping for anything under 2:05, but I would be happy with anything under 2:10.

 

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Go time!

 

The race started off on Naito Parkway towards Barbour Boulevard.  Since I had a watch (YES!) I was able to keep fairly consistent 1:1 intervals even up the giant hills.  Seriously, why do I put myself through this?

 

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Stupid hills

 

Finally I was at the top of Terwilliger!  All downhill from here, right?  Yeah, not quite.  There was another slow uphill before we turned around and finally headed back down towards Naito.

And done!!  Time?  2:03:09!!   Under 2:05!  I didn’t stick around too long at the after party since I was SO COLD.  As much as I complain about the hills, I really do enjoy this race.  And I really enjoyed the fact they had heat sheets this year!!

Stay tuned for details on my quest for 40!!

 

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Finished!!

 

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2016 in Races

Another year is coming to an end!  How is it you blink and another year passes?

Reflecting back on 2016…I lost speed, suffered through some plantar fasciitis, found a little speed, and FINALLY got a new half PR!  No new states this year, but I can cross off another country!  Thank you Disneyland Paris Half!  And I made my goal of a race in each month, if barely!

What’s in store for 2017?  Well I think I am about ready to take on a new 10K PR.  Who knows if it’ll happen in 2017, but it is something to work towards.  It’s probably time to dust off the old “Race the States” challenge and find a race in a new state (or two).

By the numbers:

  • 1 – 5K
  • 2 – 8K
  • 17 – 10K (did I really do 17 10Ks!!?!?)
  • 1 – Quarter Marathon (auto PR, new to me distance)
  • 1 – 12K
  • 1 – 15K
  • 10 – Half Marathons

And of course, in pictures:

2016-racing

  • January – ORRC New Year’s 10K
  • February – Princess 10K with the fabulous Abby
  • March – Shamrock 15K
  • April – 520 Go Long 10K with Nilufer
  • May – Tink 10K with Jessica & Susan
  • June – Seattle RnR 8K with Nilufer
  • July – Foot Traffic Flat 8K
  • August – Canby Dahlia Half
  • September – Disneyland Paris Half
  • October – Girlfriend’s Quarter Marathon
  • November – Wine & Dine Half with Jason
  • December – 12Ks of Christmas
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2016 12Ks of Christmas

If its Christmastime, it must be 12Ks of Christmas time!  This has been a staple in my running career since I started running.  So of course I planned my Christmas trip back to Seattle in time to be able to run it.

If you register in time (which I did!) they offer packet pick-up the day before at Everyday Athlete.  It was super easy and I was in and out in a flash.

The race started at 9:35, which meant I could sleep in a smidge!  Woohoo!

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Pre-race “footie”

Considering I hadn’t really run since Wine & Dine, I had very low expectations for this race.  They let us go in waves of a couple hundred each.  I set out and tried to get into a groove.

 

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Smile for the camera

 

The course has gone through several changes over the past few years, but I really do like this last version.  There are still hills, but its Seattle, or rather, Kirkland.  Pretty hard to avoid hills altogether.  But the course has definitely been smoothed out.  A decent amount of the race now takes place along the Kirkland Cross Corridor Trail, which also means a decent amount of time spent on gravel roads.

Towards the end I was definitely feeling the effects of not having run – i.e. I was tired!  My run intervals had significantly slowed down, but I was still running.

 

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Almost there

My favorite change to the course is the downhill to the finish line!  And finally it was in sight!  I didn’t really have a finishing kick left, but I gave it all I had.

Going into this I didn’t have high hopes, but my secret goal was under 1:35.  I came in at 1:33:52, which I was more than happy with.

So ends 2016 in races.

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Done!

 

 

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Post Race Treat!

 

 

 

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2016 Christmas Market Adventures

It has been several years since I’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving abroad.  It used to be more of a regular occurrence.  It had been playing around in my head for a while to try and put together a trip for this year and when my friend Nilufer moved to Luxembourg, I decided I really should make this happen!

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Vienna (Christmas market near city hall)

The end of November is still a little early for Christmas markets, however Vienna’s Christmas markets would be open, which is how I ended up in Vienna to start my trip.

After I landed in Vienna, I made my way to the hotel where I met up with Nilufer and we began our explorations.  But first, dessert!  Our hotel (Pension Suzanne) was in a great location, near the Opera and more importantly, near the Sacher Café!!  I had once read a book that took place in Vienna and the characters would often go to the Sacher Café.  When I visited Vienna with Jana, we had several meals at the Sacher Café and discovered their delicious chocolate liqueur.  I happily introduced Nilufer to the Sacher Café.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the various Christmas markets, drinking gluhwein, and eating all the things.  Oh and eggnog!!  I have a rule (self-imposed) that no eggnog is allowed until after Thanksgiving, but since Vienna doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I think I can break this rule.  Right?

For dinner, we had Weiner Schnitzel (what else are you going to eat in Austria?) at Figlmueller (behind the cathedral) and called it an “early” night since I could barely keep my eyes open.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel (typical European breakfast) before making our way to the main train station to catch a train to Bratislava.  We arrived at the Petrzalka station and caught the bus to the old town, driving across the New Bridge (Novy Most) with the giant UFO looking observation deck.  We spent the day wandering around Bratislava Castle, the old town, and the Christmas markets!  We even climbed stairs up to the top of St Michael’s Gate and ate at the oldest restaurant in Bratislava.

We caught the bus back to the train station and the train back to Vienna.  We finished our night with what else but a hot chocolate at the Sacher Café!

Monday was our last day in Vienna and we started off with breakfast at Aida, near the cathedral (a Viennese chain established in 1913).  We had the tower of breakfast!  And it really was a tower!  It barely fit on the table!!

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After breakfast, we caught the tram out to Schonnbrun Palace and meandered the grounds (it was a beautiful day) before exploring their Christmas markets, complete with gluhwein.  We made our way back into town and meandered some more before it was time to make our way to the airport to catch a flight back to Luxembourg.

Nilufer was back at work Tuesday and so I took the train to Metz (in France).  If you are counting, that would be country number 4 (Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg and now France).  Metz was a charming little town and I happily wandered through their Christmas markets (which were just starting), cobbled streets, and the magnificent cathedral.  It threatened to rain most of the day and even started sprinkling at one point.  When it finally started raining in earnest, I made my way back to Luxembourg where I met up with Nilufer for a delicious Italian dinner!

Wednesday I was on my own again and made my way out to Vianden (in Luxembourg), which involved a train to Ettelbruck and a bus to Vianden.  The bus stop was in the town of Vianden and the castle was at the top of the hill so up I climbed.  Up and up and up.

After touring the castle, I was on my way back down when a sign caught my eye.  It looked like it was pointing to a good view-point.  You know me, I’ll do just about anything for a good view or a good picture and so I started climbing again.  The trail was almost completely covered with leaves, which of course disguises the tree roots and other tripping hazards.  I gingerly climbed up the switchbacks until I got a decent view.  I think I may have gotten a better view if I had continued up, but figured I might be pressing my luck, considering my history of tripping.  And my general clumsiness.  Even if I could climb all the way up, I would still have to make my way down (which might be worse).

I wandered around the town before beginning my journey back.  I explored Luxembourg City a bit until Nilufer was done with work and we ventured to the Christmas markets.

Thanksgiving!  We celebrated by making our way to Echternach (oldest town in Luxembourg, however there is an Echternacherbruck in Germany across the river).

 

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In Germany!  Echternacherbruck

 

We stopped off at the Tourist Info Office which was closed but there was a brochure with a walk around the city.

We had lunch in what looked like a hole in the wall but was highly recommended on yelp.  And they had turkey on the menu!  Of course I had to have the turkey!!

We attempted to explore a nearby castle, only to discover it was closed when we arrived.  So instead we made our way into the Mullerthal (aka Little Switzerland) and did a baby hike out to a beautiful little waterfall (Schiessentümpel).  We made our way back to Luxembourg for dinner at a Spanish restaurant, where we had pumpkin soup to continue the Thanksgiving theme.

Friday morning, it was time for me to leave.  Nilufer dropped me off at the train station and I began my journey to Bremen to visit my friend Mandi.  Mandi and I went to high school together and have a history of meeting up in places not in Seattle.  In fact, she was in Bonn at the same time I was in Bonn (how crazy to think that was 8 years ago!!).  Mandi met me at the train station and she showed me around Bremen’s old town and their Christmas markets where more gluhwein was consumed!  Along with other deliciousness.

Mandi was hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, so Saturday morning she took me on a tour of some absolutely charming houses as we picked up the last few ingredients needed for dinner.  We cooked and decorated and before you knew it, it was time for Thanksgiving dinner.  Dinner was super fun and delicious!  And it was so great to see where Mandi lives and catch up.

My flight home was way too early Sunday morning.  I had opted to pay for economy plus (it was an extra $100 or so) for the extra leg room.  I do have to say for that long of a flight, it was worth it.  I didn’t feel nearly as cramped and I was very happy to be able to stretch my legs out.

And there you have it – what I did over Thanksgiving break.   

Posted in Bratislava, Bremen, Christmas Markets, Luxembourg, Metz, Trip Report, Vienna | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments