A Case of the Mondays … Or Post-20 Miler Fatigue?

Okay, I can’t necessarily blame the exhaustion I feel right now on running 20 miles.  I had a jam-packed weekend.  Dinner out with friends after working late on Friday, baby shower and family dinner on Saturday, house chores and 20 miles running on Sunday… Not enough sleep, and I am starting to feel the effects.  I am going to be grateful for the next two weeks of “taper”.  Fewer miles to run = more time to sleep! Today my legs are exhibiting some signs of use in the form of that “ugh” stiffness that you feel after sitting for too long, and mild soreness.  No limping or hopping around, just a slow start after a complete stop.  🙂 Okay, yesterday, I did not consume a normal amount of nourishment – I had consumed about 1.5 meals by 2:30pm and then went out to run 20 miles.  Hard to keep the pace when your energy is low.  Overall, I was not consistent.  I was thrown by the heat, and was slow and fast alternately (probably depending on when I hit shady spots!).  I averaged somewhere between a pace of 10:45 – 11 minutes/mile.  Not exactly what I was thinking I would do, but hey, I ran 20 miles in 70 degree heat!  (Yes, that is hot compared to the usual 45-50 degrees of six o’clock in the morning). I was pleased to get to go to dinner tonight and take it easy with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants in Portland – The Sweet Hereafter.  Nice atmosphere (before it gets crowded – this place can get a little noisy on those Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights), tasty food, and great drinks.  And all Vegan (if you’re into that – I just happen to love the Jamaican Bowl.  SO delicious!)

Beautiful long stems and candles…. all about the atmosphere!

It is so refreshing to know that summer is on her way bringing blooms of all kinds – and I will just have to remember to run before the sun takes over the sky and heats up the black, city pavement.

Such a pretty array of flowers.

As I write this I am fighting a losing a battle with my eyelids, so I shall bid you all good night! Happy Running! ~Alaina

The Last Long Run – 20 miles, Done!

My plan for this weekend was to run 20 miles on Saturday and take it easy on Sunday… and, due to baby shower madness, I delayed my run to Sunday (Mother’s Day).  This was my last long training run before the Newport Marathon – I needed to get these miles in no matter what, and I was not sure when I would be seeing my mother who is in from out-of-state.  So just as I started to worry that I was either going to have to sacrifice the run, or sacrifice seeing Mom, everything fell into place.

I hit the road at about 3:15pm, knowing I would be running for about three and a half hours.  Fortunately for me, my Mom is also a runner, and she was game to meet me for the last 8.5-9 miles and spend some quality time together.  We planned a meeting place, time, and ran into each other on the South Waterfront a little after 5:20pm to complete finish the back-half of the 20 miles together.

On normal run days, I run in the morning, and today was bright and sunny – and warm!  I have not run in such warm weather in about a year, and I noticed a marked difference in how my body reacted.  I was thirsty every half mile, sweating after only a half mile, had sausage fingers starting around three miles, and overall just felt a little hot, especially when there was no shade to help me out!  Obviously, it was a beautiful day!!!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful person to spend time with running (and incredibly grateful for the genetics she has passed on to me!).  Supportive, realistic, fun, strong, encouraging, and everything that Moms are supposed to be.  We finished the evening with a great dinner at Dick’s Kitchen.  … and dessert, Yum!!!

Thank you, Mom, for spending your evening with me.  I really enjoyed our time together.

until tomorrow… Happy Running, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Aunts, Grandmas and Great-Grandmas!!!
~Alaina

Early Morning Adventures in the East

Early this morning I dragged myself out of bed, crossed the river, and ran with a friend on the East side… And although I felt I needed two more hours of sleep when I got in my car, five minutes into the run, we were having delightful conversation, and the area had my full attention: it was truly beautiful.

Going somewhere new for my early morning run was (literally) a wake-up moment.  Running in a new location is so refreshing!  Also, it showed me how used to my area I have become with drinking fountains everywhere; I’ve stopped carrying water on runs that will take less than an hour… And forgot water this morning!  Oops.

I am so grateful for the brilliant and beautiful running terrain available in Portland.  I feel very lucky to live in such a lush, green region of the world with water so readily available.  Thank you, Mr Simon Benson, for your many Bubblers around this gorgeous city.  You make training for marathons much easier.

Until tomorrow, happy running!
~Alaina

Gratefulness and A Delicious Recipe

Sometimes, the only thing that really matters in life is your state of mind.  At the end of the workday today, I needed a little reminder of the good, so I started going through my ‘I-am-grateful-for‘s’ and felt my body relax, my mind clear, and the smile return to my face.  Today really was a great day.

Today is day six of the 30 for 30 push-up challenge, and I already feel stronger.  I no longer stop after ten and wait a while before going back for another ten, and then another ten.  Instead, I am completing two sets of 15 with a short break in the middle.  Makes a girl wonder why she didn’t take on a challenge like this earlier…?

My morning runs are short and sweet this week – 5 miles: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in preparation of the 20 mile long run this weekend. Due to my sister’s Baby shower (omigodImgoingtobeanauntie!) Saturday, I will be modifying my schedule to do the run on Sunday.  I haven’t covered this much distance since last year’s training prep for St. George in September, and although I am a little nervous about the distance, I no longer harbor any fear of not finishing.  I know I can, and that mind game is finally over.

In the interest of getting a little more sleep tonight than I have in the last five (consequences of starting a blog post at 10:45pm), I am here to share my absolute favorite made-up (Baked!) dish.

As the Farmer’s Markets return to the neighborhood parking lots, I find myself craving the end of summer already, if only to have some lovely yellow squash again!  You are getting this recipe (well, a list of guidelines to create a dish – recipes are more scientific and precise than the list that will follow below) well in advance of the availability of the vegetable, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

Baked Delicata Squash:

– De-seed and cut 2-3 delicata squash into small pieces
(seeds may be soaked in sea salt & water and baked for a great crunchy snack!)
– Place squash pieces in baking dish
– Chop onion (to your desired amount – maybe 1/3 onion?) Spread over squash
– Sprinkle a handful of raisins (plus or minus) over squash
– Sprinkle with a handful of almonds
– Sprinkle with cinnamon (as desired)
– Dash of Nutmeg
– cut butter into slim tabs and place on top of the squash (this may be substituted with EarthBalance or other oil substitute)

Cover dish with foil and bake in oven at 350 degrees until squash is soft.
I kid you not, this will taste like dessert.  So.  Good.  This squash is so naturally sweet, no sugar is needed.

What is your favorite way to prepare Delicata Squash?

Happy eating, training, and nourishing – I am so grateful to be able to write this and share with like-minded people.  🙂
~Alaina

Fair Weather Runner No More! … Or Not

On Tuesday last week, after my first weekday run, I decided I had finally succeeded as a runner: I no longer shy away from running in uncomfortable weather!   Tuesday morning was cold and wet … very wet.  I felt proud of myself for getting out, completing five miles in heavy rain, and rather enjoying myself.

Puddle jumping with the Geese!

I was ready to declare to the world: I am no longer a fair weather runner!

… and then I woke up Wednesday morning to a sunrise blackened by heavy cloud-cover and the sound of hail hitting my windows…  And the only thought going through my mind was: “I can run at work today”.
On the treadmill.

Immediately I was upset with myself.  It felt like I was cheating!  And that was not the end of it… when I decided to do my run – on the treadmill – the sun broke through the black sky and taunted me as I looked out the window from my stationary running machine.  I nearly got off the track and got outside, but the threat of hail and heavy rain kept me sequestered indoors.

I run in the rain all the time!  It seems rather silly (or dare I say, shameful!) that I would avoid the outdoors simply due to the threat of inclement weather.

Do you find yourself avoiding your outdoor workouts when the conditions are less than favorable?  

Fortunately, this week the weather has turned and given a nod to Summer… into the eighties, beyond my wildest imaginations for end-of-April in Oregon.  Unbelievable.  I ran at sunrise without a hat for the first time this week, and in a t-shirt this morning!  (I like to stay warm, generally that means long sleeves, hat and gloves in the wee hours of sun-rising).

And it has been so Beautiful!

I am loving the early sunrise, heavy foot traffic on the waterfront, and reflections in the river I have come to know so well in the last six months.

This weekend, we return to rain, and I resolve to get out and run!

Happy running!
~Alaina

Saturday’s Run: a.k.a. “Get Your Rear in Gear”

Last Friday, when the weekly email came from our local run-planning-expert, I scanned the email to find our starting point, check the distance, and was thrilled with the scrumptious words and double-digit numbers my eyes brought into focus.  We were starting at the Farmer’s Market (and ending there – fresh breakfast, anyone?), and doing 10-11 miles.  Perfect!  The initial email had no map of the route or elevation map, so I just planned to follow the group, no biggie.

Later that evening, a second email with more details arrived to my Inbox, and again, I paid it little heed, knowing I would do an extra 1-2 miles prior to the run, I was focusing on going to bed so I could get up a little early.  To be honest, I am happy I didn’t look to closely at the route or see the elevation map, or I would have been a little more nervous about the words at the end of the message that declared: “This is going to be a butt-burner!”

Yep.  And, man oh, man, that was no lie!

The day started with a beautiful sunrise…
Halfway through our run, we were off the pavement, and onto trails…
…which soon became muddy and slick as the rain poured down on us!
We saw a little Newt! (I know it looks like a worm, but do you see his little legs?)
After the first summit to reach the Vista Bridge on the way out, the second summit up the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we found that getting up Vista really was another LONG uphill…
The view was TOTALLY worth it.
By the time we saw our destination, stomachs were growling, mouths watering; we knew we would be at the Market shortly!

We all made it to the end of this run.  A day later, I felt soreness I have not felt in… Months, truthfully, probably not since last year’s marathon at St. George.  I learned that my ‘hills’ on my daily run are nothing compared to what we conquered Saturday.  And that was only (I say only because I know what I am up against in July for the Siskiyou Outback) 400 feet gain/loss (albeit three times!).  

In June, I plan to tackle some serious hills, and some altitude.  Does anyone want to join me for some long runs at Timberline?

After our run, and perusing the Farmer’s Market, I made my way home and took a bath.  The first bath I’ve taken in over five months, and the first in this new home.  I love this tub, and I do not know why I ever “forget” or do not make time for baths.  Self care is SO important!  (and it was SO deliciously relaxing…)

Next weekend, we are being treated to a flat course.  For this, I am grateful – I am scheduled to run 17 miles, and I do not know how I would make it through 17 miles of hills like last weekend!

What distance are you tackling this weekend?

Until next time, Happy running!  And always remember to treat yourself with care.  🙂  You deserve it!!!

with joy in movement (and in rest),
~Alaina

Saturday Evening Race to the Top

Saturday morning I awoke to the most colorful, layered sunrise sky I have seen from my new apartment (I apologize for not capturing that gloriousness in a photo – will do next time!).  For some unknown reason, I sat up with a start early-ish this lovely weekend morning. Perhaps because the time was 7am and my body usually experiences the 6am wake-up alarm of the M-F routine, or because Saturdays are reserved for the group run, which commences promptly at 8am, and a little worry may have crept into my sleeping brain that I might soon be missing something important.

Last weekend, Saturday’s agenda took an unusual path.  I was meeting my sister for breakfast in the suburbs, and going to a baby shower a little farther yet from home.  And I was nervous.  Why, you ask?  Because I was driving outside of the city…

To most people, this will seem a little dramatic.  But to tell you the truth, I was a little terrified.  I have only had my driver’s license for a little over a year, and a car to drive for less than three months.  (Yes, I am a grown adult and nearly 32 years of age – I’m just a little late to jump into the vehicle game).

and I had NEVER driven on the freeway alone…

I knew the easiest, and most time effective, method of getting to my destination meant driving on one of those multi-lane, 50 mph and faster highways with crazy people speeding, merging, and darting around me.  I was…

TERRIFIED!

My morning progressed slowly, meaning by the time I walked out my door, I was running late, and since the back roads were going to take about 26 minutes, I needed to save myself ten minutes and take the highway.  So I sucked it up, got in my car, and drove right onto the highway ramp.  I drove my little car down the big, scary road, and you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad, after all.

Also, I am eternally grateful for the little voice in my phone that tells me where to go.  (Thank you Apple!)

I had a lovely breakfast with my sister, we discussed baby shower details – Yes, I am going to be an Auntie! – and then we decided to wander and shop at a surprisingly nearby mall.   (There is a possibility I have missed this from my teen years).  It’s incredible how close things become when you can drive to different locations in mere minutes.

New adorable flats in hand (the Jeffrey Campbell “In Love” flats – a la Miss Meers, my favorite shoe boutique from the college years), I hugged my sis and was off to a friend’s baby shower.  We played games, munched on some delicious food, and guessed if the baby was a pink bow or a blue bow.  They had been keeping their little one’s gender secret for many weeks… and the reveal came just three and a half weeks before baby is expected!  I picked a pink bow to pin to the board, and … I guessed right! Woohoo!  (Yes, I am very proud of guessing correctly – two of three recent births… one still TBD).  I am very excited for this little person to join the lives of my good friend and her husband, and can’t wait to meet her!

After all the congratulating and asking to be notified of when and how it goes, we all left in our vehicles… I was excited to get home and get to my run!

I really wanted to catch the view of Portland before the sun set, and since I was heading out the door after 5pm, I knew I had little time.   Choosing to take the most direct route to my favorite overlook of the city, I went straight up the hill… as fast as I could without making myself sick, that is.  And the view was lovely, of course.

On my way back down the hill, and toward the waterfront, the sky turned red…

Once I reached the waterfront, the sun was fading from the sky, and night began to envelop the city.   A blue hue fell over the water and clouds.  I was greeted by a very large flock of birds floating near the water’s edge.The night was beautiful.  Dry, quiet, and water so still; a mirror reflecting the city back upon herself.  Dazzling even to those who hadn’t just run eight miles, I’d wager.

In the next few weeks, I will be increasing again, training for the Newport Marathon.  It’s crazy how quickly these dates catch up to us – this marathon at the end of May will be my “longest run” (or one of my longest runs) in preparation for a 50K in July – The Siskiyou Outback.  Part of me can not believe I have chosen to challenge my mind and body in that race, the other part is thoroughly excited.  🙂

A shorter race is upcoming before these two long races. In March, I’ll be tackling the Shamrock with a bunch of friends, running the 15K.  I have never actually run in this race, despite having registered on two separate previous occasions.  I look forward to finally running amidst all the green attire and silly Leprechaun get-ups.  Thinking about this race, I’m wondering if I should have some kind of strategy for race day.  I’d love to hear from you – how do you plan for race-day?  What is your strategy?

All my best to you out on the trails, roads, puddle jumping, and sliding through snow…
Happy running!
~Alaina

Snow Day on Repeat; More Snow, More Miles

Last night, as I went to bed, I decided to let myself sleep in as long as my body would let me, regardless of the fact that Saturday is traditionally the group long run day.  Of course, I woke up promptly at 7am and decided at twenty after I would throw my clothes on and run out the door to meet my friends on foot at 8am… two miles away, for an eight mile run.  In the snow.

Fortunately, I made it on time, and I am so happy I got out of bed to meet them – It had snowed again overnight, there was hardly any traffic, and it was gorgeous.

The Hawthorne Bridge
Hidden track of Duniway.
Up the hill on Terwilliger.
View from the hill.

City view from the top deck of the Steel.
On the Eastbank.

Toward the end of our run, it really started snowing heavily.  I had a wonderful time walking home through all the white flakes of fluff.

We were lucky to have one more day of glorious snow; we are currently experiencing freezing rain, and it seems the conditions tomorrow will be best suited for staying indoors.

What are your favorite snow-day adventures?

Be safe and stay warm, everyone!

with joy,
~Alaina

A Snow Day Run

Over the past few days it has snowed.  It snowed a little on Monday and again on Tuesday, and while it looked pretty floating in large white balls of fluff, the air was warm enough that it all melted away moments after it hit the ground.  Then, on Thursday, after a very cold, dry Wednesday, the weather reports were all over the board, as is usual when there is a potential for “winter weather” in Portland.

And then… at about ten in the morning… tiny, white flakes began falling from the sky.
The snow did not necessarily stick, but was blown around by incredible gusts of wind. 

When I decided to leave work at twelve thirty in the early afternoon, snow was piling up, the wind was crazy, and the temperature was around 20 degrees (with a ‘feels like’ six degrees!).  Needless to say, in a location where drivers are inexperienced with the white stuff falling from the sky, a half hour commute turned into nearly three hours, much of that spent waiting for a bus in ‘blizzard’ conditions.  I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate at one of my favorite coffee shops close to home, and on my walk after the fortifying hot beverage, snow-covered the ground.

Snow was predicted for varying amounts of accumulation, and to my delight – there were measurable inches by the end of the day!  Which of course meant that today I was probably going to skip the commute to the office and work remotely.

And I did – delighted to sit at home at my desk, and gaze out my single-pane window at the snow-covered city.

After a few hours of sitting, staring, and finishing some work, my legs could not sit still any longer, and I had to get out and run!

I layered up (three wool shirts!), headed out the door and quickly learned that running on lightly compacted, powdery snow is very much like running on dry sand.  Challenging and so much fun; I found myself giggling every two minutes as I would slip or slide.  And of course, I took pictures!

It was a beautiful morning…

During this morning’s run, there was no precipitation, in fact the sun starting peeking out from behind some clouds.  At noon, it was snowing again… and it has not stopped!  I am looking forward to walking out into a dreamy, white winter wonderland to get my morning cup o’joe, and plan which direction my feet will take me on the Saturday long run…

Where do you like to run when the weather is … compromising?
How do you stay warm?  I thought about a scarf today to cover my nose, but decided against it as it could have been uncomfortable.

Keep warm, and have fun getting outside!

with joy in running (and the unexpected),
~Alaina

Sunday’s Run: Cloudy with a Quartet of Birds – So Very Portland.

Sunday I went out for an early evening run.  The day had been bright, and I was seeing a soft, warm glow of the beginnings of sunset when I decided I needed to pull my shoes on and head outside.  It was cooler than I had expected, and I was happy I bundled up, heading to the waterfront to visit the well-known bridge loop.

The sky was putting on quite a show, varying in light puffs of cloud to the dark menacing threat of storms.  I had a ball capturing the many different beautiful faces of Portland clouds with my iPhone (which thankfully, did not shut down this time!).

Those birds! So funny…

The run felt great – to get out and be able to photograph the little things that catch my eye make each experience of lacing up and getting going two hundred times more exciting.  The world we live in is so beautiful, and I cannot stop admiring her.

I am looking forward to the long run with Saturday’s Run group of gals.  Secretly, I am hoping it will be foggy … That would make for a gorgeous photo story!

What is the weather like where you are?  Do you have to wear special gear to get out in the snow?
I’ve heard something about putting screws in the soles of your shoes for ice and snow… Does that work?

Happy running everyone!
~Alaina