Eight Hours Until Race Time!

Yes, I know, I should be sleeping… 

But I had to share with you – I am so excited to be running the Newport Marathon with my Grampa.  We had a lovely drive out to the coast, and a wonderful dinner where we met a lovely girl who lives in the first building I called home in NW Portland!  In the same unit one floor down!  We live in a a small world, full of surprises.

The drive out was gorgeous: blue skies, old barns, and grand views of the ocean.

The old Air Museum
The old Air Museum

When we arrived at our hotel, we discovered the most perfect view from our room:

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I want to share so much more, but since I am posting from my phone (which is a little more challenging and time consuming), as well as getting up in five and a half hours, I must bid you goodnight, my friends.

Sweet dreams, and have fun running tomorrow!
~Alaina

Running to the Beat of My Own Drum

RW Quote 5:29This quote arrived in my email inbox from Runner’s World this Thursday evening, and at first made me chuckle… Then I thought, you know, this is really true.  I love getting out and running and looking at the world around me.  I people-watch, see wildlife, photograph this beautiful city I have the great pleasure of living in, and sing songs in my head to my heart’s desire (or out loud, depending on how many miles I have covered and if I’m getting that runner’s high … There’s a possibility that I can pass for a crazy person after 12 miles; a happy, smiling, singing crazy person, but … a little different nonetheless).

It’s funny to sit here and know that in about 36 hours I will be on my way running 26.2 miles.  I feel like I am in denial that I will be doing this race at all this time around.  Maybe because the circumstances surrounding last year’s St. George race really did not start off well (story here: Marathoner), and this time my Grandpa is going to do the race with me.  Which is fantastic!  The weather in Newport will be a perfect 50 degrees, not raining, cloudy with sun… What more could a Portland girl want?

I know with everything that I am, that I will run faster than I did in Utah seven months ago.  I still claim to not have a goal pace, although I do think that 4:40 finishing time is my new target.  And while this clocks in at a whole half hour faster than my previous marathon (I think) I am pretty sure I have it in me.  Regardless, I go forth into the unknown of this race, without expectation or need for a specific outcome.  Because I still want to have fun (and take pictures!).

I run to finish with enthusiasm and joy for the sport!  I do think that there may be a turning point when my ego is inclined to begin racing rather than allow me to run and enjoy, and I am grateful that I have not yet reached that point.

Do you run in organized events to race?  Or is it a run for fun with thousands of your peers?  Has your point of view changed?

Happy Running!
~Alaina

 

A Short Run and a Trip to the Beach: A Pictorial

The Tree

 

Look at that tree…  I mean, would you even guess that I took this running in L.A.??? 

This morning’s run was gorgeous.  The sun was out, it was 70 degrees, and I got to tackle a hill with drinking fountains on the way up, and a surprise at the top:

Oil!
Oil!
The view overlooking the valley.
The view overlooking the valley.
Gorgeous trees with fabulously vibrant, purple blossoms are everywhere down here: Jacarandas.
Gorgeous trees with vibrant, purple blossoms are everywhere down here: The Jacaranda.

Rose 5/27/14

 

I even found roses lining the sidewalks of homes in the area.  And their scent was so sweet!  Just like the roses at home.

After our morning workout, we went to breakfast and had some delicious eggs and bacon and headed to visit a good friend in Santa Monica.  On our drive in, there were some pretty amazing murals on the walls beside the road:

Horses
Horses

mural 2 5/27/14

 

Whales
Whales

The beach was full of people: using the bike path, catching some rays in the sand, and surfing in the waves.  The wind was blowing, and kites were flying.  With a smile on my face, I decided to go stick my toes in the ocean:

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Beach Day
Beach Day

This has been such a wonderful trip – spending time with Brandi is always good and getting to see her and just hang out like we did so many years ago is really … indescribably healing and relaxing.  She is my best friend, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share in each other’s lives despite distance between us and the different paths we have taken.  Friendship like this is hard to find.

Brandi: best friend since third grade.
Brandi: best friend since third grade.

Do you have a friend you keep in touch with from your early childhood? 

Does it still feel like it did all those years ago – free, easy, and always accepting?

Happy Tuesday, and Happy Running (and Reminiscing!),
~Alaina

Countdown Begins: Five Days ‘Till the Newport Marathon

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This morning, Brandi and headed out to Fullerton to watch my Mom’s fiancé play a match of Racquetball.  It was the first time I have ever watched him compete in his sport, and I tell you – the man is focused, fair, and very respectful for this game and his opponents.  He is a great athlete to watch, and a fabulous source for inspiration.

As the Newport Marathon quickly approaches, I am finding myself under-enthusiastic about running this race.  I can’t quite put my finger on what is nagging at me, this race is close to the beach (which I love), my Grampa will be there with me, and we get to enjoy the surf, sand, and sea for one more day before heading back into town to return to ‘real life’ – a.k.a. My day job.

Part of my hesitation about this race is that for some reason, I feel less prepared than I was for St. George last year.  But frankly, I used the same training g program.  At this point in time, I am prepared in just the same way as that race seven months ago, and in fact, I am faster than last year.

So what is keeping me from the excitement?  The anticipation?  

Overall, I know I am not as prepared as I wanted to be.  In my mind, before training began, I wanted to max my weekend workout run at more than twenty miles, to get in more weight truing, and practice yoga twice each week to maintain (and re-gain) flexibility.

The truth is, I hope that after today, I can harness some of the energy I saw this morning at the Racquetball match.  Those gentlemen really know how to have a good time, and how to concentrate on the task at hand.

How do you stay motivated until you race?
Have you ever felt simply exhausted and let that “I don’t care” mentality creep into your mind?

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With hope for fun runs to you all,
~Alaina

Four Miles in Las Vegas; Also, Running with Grampa

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This morning was so wonderfully, the whole day felt fantastically indulgent.  I slept in until about 7:30 (which is totally out of the norm, and was amazing), had a couple of cups of coffee and chatted with my aunt for about an hour and a half before my Grandpa appeared and we went out on our 4 mile run.  The weather was perfect: Clear and sunny and not too warm, probably staying in the low seventies.

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We were able to run without water (the air is so dry here, I would carry water on a two-mile run if it weren’t available) because a mile from our starting point we arrived at a park with two very lovely water fountains, some delicious shade, and a rubberized walkway encircling the park.

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We ran & walked the distance – and it was truly a wonderful run, and great time spent bonding with Grampa.  I am so grateful for my family that supports me in my crazy pursuits, and a big ole thanks to my Aunt and Uncle for putting me up on this vacation!

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I bid you all goodnight – have a great Friday!
~Alaina

Running and Travelling; Balancing Vacation and Training

Morrison from the Steel.  5/21/14
On a train headed out-of-town!

As I was packing to go on my first vacation since the Christmas/New Year’s Holidays, I realized I need to run four times while I am out of my city.  In unfamiliar territory.  Out of my comfort zone.  In cities where I won’t know North, East, South or West like the back of my hand, and frankly, it’s a little intimidating.

Fortunately, this will not be a super long distance weekend for me.  With the Newport Marathon only a week and a half away, this Saturday I only need to run 8 miles, and tomorrow, I happen to be lucky enough to get to run with my Grampa – a nice, short four mile run (I’m learning to love the short).  I am especially grateful that it is short because I am no longer in the cool, breezy northwest, having taken up residence slightly further South in Las Vegas for a couple of days.  This run may be in 75 degree heat, and I am trying to mentally prepare myself to feel too warm.  

The lights of 'The Strip" and the Luxor pinpointing it's location on the cloud-map.
The lights of ‘The Strip” this evening, and the Luxor pinpointing it’s location on the cloud-map.

On Saturday, I will have the good fortune to be spending time with my best friend in LA, who tells me she knows the perfect spot for me to do my 8 mile run (possibly – or quite likely – also a warm run).  I am looking forward to exploring some unknown terrain over the next few days.  A change of scenery will (hopefully) bring some great photo ops!

How do you prepare for travel when you are training for a race?  

Happy running!
~Alaina

Running. Meditation. Strength.

runnersworld.com/quotes
runnersworld.com/quotes

For the last several years, I have wanted to learn how to meditate.  No matter what I try, where I sit, the time of day, I just never seem to have the ability to quiet my mind, remain open, and just be.  It is so hard to be present with … the silence.  Nothingness.  Patiently waiting for … for whatever is supposed to actually happen when you are meditating.

Over the last year, I have come to realize, for me, running is my meditation.  It is a time in my day when I am usually on my own, the rhythmic pounding of left, right, left… looking for traffic, simply observing the world and being present.  I can run for hours and simply enjoy BE-ing in the world, moving on my feet, smiling for no reason other than … I am.

I have not run since Saturday, and I am feeling that … yearning of wanting to get out and move my body.  I miss the quiet spaces I find while putting in my paces around the waterfront.  I am so grateful tomorrow is a run day!  Being on the taper, I think I will feel the difference – lacking the extra mileage, and for the first time, I feel like NOT running will be harder than running every day.  It’s funny how things change.  🙂

Happy Running!
~Alaina

The View Out My Blurry Window

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I was very happy this morning to be able to stay in and snuggle under the covers for a couple extra hours, savoring sleep on this last day of the weekend.   The day was rainy and I don’t mean the usual Portland rain – There was thunder, and many downpour moments.   It was a wonderful day to stay in.

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Of course, many hours later, the sun shone her light a little upon the damp Earth… Just to remind us it is Spring and not Fall.

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I keep thinking about the level of training I am about to embrace for the 50K in July… and savoring today as a rest day, a day off from social commitments, and a day to really just be in my skin, in my home, immersed in my own thoughts was truly a blessing and totally necessary.   I keep forgetting that I need to take time for me, and I do believe I was starting to feel the effects of this choice.

Do you ever feel like you just can’t go anywhere?  You have to stay in … just to think?

My day was rounded out by the daily email from Runner’s World:

RW Daily Kick in the Butt 5/18/2014
runnersworld.com/quotes

There is so much truth in that statement.  I know I have finally beat my opponent for the 26.2 mile races, but I fear that the battle will resume when I start pushing past that distance.  Training for the Siskiyou Out & Back 50K is going to be trying, but I am ready for the challenge.   🙂

Happy Rest Day!
~Alaina

Taking the Top Deck on Saturday’s Run

 

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Saturday morning was one of those, when you just don’t want to drag yourself out of bed and hit the road… A morning when the desire to pull the covers over your head and turn off the alarm and just sleep until you wake up naturally from thirst or hunger is all you want…

But despite your reluctance, you get up, get out, and run.

And it was a beautiful morning, full of dynamic clouds, catching up with friends, and taking a trip across the top deck of the Steel Bridge on foot for the first time in my Portland life.  Turns out, the view from up there is pretty nice.

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I am so grateful to live in such an inspiringly beautiful city.   She makes early morning long runs… easy.  🙂

IMG_9966Happy weekend long-running!
~Alaina

 

Carbo-loading, OSF, and My Favorite Meal. Ever.

A runner’s tradition, the pre-race (or pre- long training run) dinner often is thought of as the “carbo-load” meal.  Of course, recent studies have shown that spreading this out over a few days (meaning: eat more carbs and store more energy, a few days prior to your big run/race event) is actually more helpful for storing that energy.  Despite this fact, there always seems to be a pasta feed somewhere within the 24 hours before a big race.  Pasta, spaghetti, meatballs, lots of marinara, and rolls to soak up all that extra red sauce – filling, delicious, and satisfying.

Well, I can’t say that I don’t fall for the same old dinner trick and participate in some grain-carb consumption.  I mean, who wouldn’t?

My absolute favorite place to get my pasta dinner is at the OSF – The Old Spaghetti Factory.  (Now offering Gluten Free pasta options!!!)

Old Spahetti Factory & the signature Blue roof!
Old Spahetti Factory & the signature Blue roof!

Growing up, my Dad’s family took relatives to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner, and so it became an individual tradition for me, as well.  Since graduating from college, I can say I have celebrated more birthdays there than any other location.  We continue to go to the OSF as a big family group on Grandma’s birthday.  These days, I choose the atmosphere of the bar (dark, polished wood, and much more quiet) upstairs over the caboose my sister and I always wanted to sit in during our youth.

Caboose! OSF.
The caboose! http://www.osf.com

A few years ago, I paid a visit to the restaurant on my own – It was a rainy, miserable day, I worked late, and did not feel like cooking, so took myself out for a bite.  I always get the “complete meal” (soup or salad, comes with sourdough and delicious garlic butter, coffee/tea/milk, and a scoop of ice cream!), and when the waitress came to take my order, without looking at the menu I answered “the A la Homer”.  She looked at me, and said “you have been coming here for a while, haven’t you?”  When I glanced at the menu the next time I visited the establishment, I noticed they no longer called out my favorite meal with the Homer reference, it is simply called “Mizithra Cheese & Brown Butter”.  Yep, I’m a regular.

I know what you’re thinking – The Old Spaghetti Factory’s Butter and Cheese dish?  That’s your favorite meal?
My answer is – Yes.  I know this is not the healthiest choice, and I definitely sometimes feel like I need to eat some green vegetables, but… It feels like home.  Butter and Cheese on pasta, OSF style, is familiar, comforting, and downright tasty!

In fact, I missed this dish so much when I went to college I sent the restaurant an email asking what kind of cheese they used!  Someone was kind enough to respond, and also included the recipe of how to make pasta “A la Homer”!  I was shocked and delighted to be honored with such a gift.  (The cheese can be found at Whole Foods, New Seasons, and occasionally Fred Meyer).

I now make the dish at home as often as I visit the big, blue roofed OSF.  (But it still tastes better on location.  I just don’t have the technique!)

What is your favorite restaurant?  

Do you have a place that you visited often growing up that has become tradition?

Enjoy the pasta feed, and happy running!
~Alaina

(For those of you who enjoy indulging in Pasta and Beer – Check out one of my favorite races: Pints to Pasta 10K  It is mostly downhill, and you get a pasta feed and free beer at the finish!  The weather is usually beautiful, the race is quick, and the people are great).