Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weekend roundup: pumpkins!

Last weekend my dad was in town and we had a terrific time getting into the Fall swing of things.  My dad got in Friday evening and we had a nice mellow dinner at home.  Saturday was my Pt. Defiance 30K race, so the boys (dad, Matt, Cole, and Wilson) stayed in Seattle to do work around the house.  

Sunday was the highlight of the weekend when we went to The Farm for pumpkins and fun.  We kicked off the day with a duck race, then watched the 3 Little Pigs acted out by real pigs.

We enjoyed a great tractor ride around the farm and got some family shots in the process:
 After hopping off the tractor ride, we got lost in a corn maze.  I am not a big fan of being lost, but Cole and Wilson were a-ok:
 All in, great times. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Race Reports: Base 2 Space AND Pt. Defiance 30K

It's been a racy kind of month - but not in the Victoria's Secret way.  I'm still building up to New York Marathon (gosh I love typing that!) and in the process of upping my mileage I upped my race-age.

 Two weeks ago, I ran the Base 2 Space.  An incredible stair climb and fundraiser for Fred Hutch that our good friend managed at the Space Needle.  This was the first time people have been able to run up the stairs at the Space Needle and it was pretty spectacular.  I enjoyed the buildup to the race, too, with the weather rapidly changing and the sun seemingly flying into the sky in a matter of minutes.

Speaking of minutes, I was blown away at how FAST the race was.  I ran up the entire needle in just under 7min (and managed to place 2nd woman in the process).  I will say, though, that at the top I was way more exhausted than if I had run a 10k - I couldn't catch my breath for literally hours.  One guy walked by me at the top with a dr. mask covering his mouth and said "you must be new at this.  You have track hack.  You should get a mask."  Lesson learned.  A couple people in the race were semi-pro stair climbers.  One guy came from Minnesota just for this run, another guy was off to OR next week for another run.  It's a whole new race field.
More than the race aspect, I enjoyed the race because of the amazing people and the great cause.  I'm so proud of our buddy for putting this race on - it was quite a feat - and I can't wait to support him and Fred Hutch again.

This past weekend, I ran the Pt. Defiance 30K for the 4th time (and this course for the 5th time - last year I did the 15K).  This was hands down the rainiest run I have ever done.  It was crazy - the morning started with an amazing sunrise and then clouds quickly rolled in almost timed with us starting the race and the sky opened up into a downpour. 

I started at the front in the race and by mile 3 fell to 3rd woman which I held until the finish.  The course was turbulent to say the least with tree roots jutting up all over the place, fallen trees to step or hurdle over, mud everywhere, rain and mist blocking the views, and pure awesomeness.  My iPod stopped working at around mile 8 and I have to admit, it was incredibly freeing.  I have never run without music (not that I can remember anyhow), but the rain on the trees and the birds dodging the shower made for a great sound track.

After each loop there's a rope to get down a super steep hill.  My first loop was fine as the hill was muddy but not terrible.  My second loop I slipped and skidded almost the entire way down the hill making it a bit of a mud dash vs. a trail race.  I LOVE the Pt. Defiance trail runs and can't wait to do this one again next year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Weekend roundup: annual family trip

Since we moved to Seattle, we met a great group of families with boys Cole and Wilson's same age.  This weekend after my race, we met up in Roslyn (home of Twin Peaks) for an annual family get away.  We had 6 famlies all of whom had 6 year old boys and a couple younger kids and babies.  Needless to say, the house was nutty with kid energy, grown up on vacation energy, and pure happiness of being with great people.

The house location was perfect with good streets for bike riding (except Cole and Wilson managed to find some steep hills to go bombing down), a pool and hot tub, and a big back yard for wrestling and light saber wars.  There was also a playground within walking distance that was perfect for Ninja Warrior. 

Besides all the kid fun, the grown ups had a blast cooking great meals together (we all like good food which was great), talking about work, travels, and nothing at all, and lounging around the house  in PJs just enjoying being together.  Yes, there was a good share of meltdowns (seriously, picture all those kids with little sleep and tons of fun).  We can't wait to do it again next year! 

Race report: Woodinville wine country half

Last weekend I ran the Woodinville wine country half and it was AWESOME.  This is my 8th or 9th Destination Races wine country half, I've done a handful of the Napa to Sonoma race, a couple Healdsburg halfs, the Oregon half, and now this one.  I want to try them all.  All in the race was OK and I'm sure it'll only get better in years to come.  I remember doing the first of the Napa and the first Healdsburg and within 3 years both sold out fast! 

The race started at 7am at Chateau Ste. Michelle winery with an overzealous announcer toggling between raggae (Toots to be exact) and hip hop.  The start line was pretty great with a lot of porta potties and free coffee.  It was a bit sparse, I think all in there were ~500 runners for the half, not in relays. 

The course itself was beautiful starting at the winery and then winding through Woodinville to Redmond.  We ran along the water for much of the race along Sammamish River.  It was a refreshing course as the Napa course runs past a handful of cow fields which are beautiful but stinky. 

The finish line was rather quiet at the Redmond town hall.  One thing I love about the Destination series is your name is on the race bib so people often say "good job Amber!" and at the finish the announcer yelled out my  name.  After the finish, I made my way to the free massage tent which was perfect.  Great people offering free massage to gross sweaty runners?  Good karma for sure.  After a massage and stretch, I found my co-worker and we celebrated with a cup of coffee - it was too early for the free wine tasting they had lined up at the finish. 

Both my co-worker and I placed 2nd in our age group which was super cool.  We were supposed to get awards (free wine I think) but we had to head out so I could pick up the boys and the race coordinators wouldn't give prizes to people who weren't at the ceremony so that was a bummer.

 I ran an OK race with a time of 1:33:46.  I placed 2nd in my age group and 10th in my division which was cool.  I'm hoping to someday hit a sub 1:30 ... must train more.

All in, good times.  I'll do the race again next year to see how it grows.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Race report: Lake Sammamish cyclocross race #1

I did a couple cyclocross races two years ago and then fell out of practice (too busy, too many excuses).  This year I decided to try to tackle as many as possible in the season, and today was day 1.  For those who don't know, cyclocross is a crazy fun bike race where you ride on dirt trails (sometimes pavement), go over stairs, hurdles, and more (today beach).  I did the beginning women's race this morning and the boys did the kids race.  All in, awesome. 

The race today was at Lake Sammamish right on the beach.  For the adults course (mine) we did laps starting on pavement, then onto the beach 3 times, up a stair, over many many tree roots and through the dirt and mud, then going again. 

The beginning women's race was funny because it started with kids 7 and up ... which meant I was literally racing the boys' classmates.  The race started in waves with the mid-aged kids, then the beginners like me, then younger kids.  Some of the 10s to teens were amazingly good (like whipping by me  and shouting "good job." 

After my race I found the boys who had been warming up around in the field.  We got them lined up for the kids race and they hauled.  The kids race even had a hurdle which was hilarious (Wilson went over backwards, Cole was good at sprinting over it, some kids stopped completely).  At the end of the race the boys were ready for more wanting 1) new bikes, and 2) to be in the big kid/grown up race. 
 Also post race, Wilson found one of his classmates, Fiona, who is his "girlfriend."  Literally, Wilson calls her his GF, she calls him her BF, and her parents introduced themselves talking about how much Fiona talks about Wilson (the banter is mutual).  All of the kids played on a playground in the middle of the course for a good hour before starting to get grouchy at which point we piled them asap into cars to head home.

All in, an awesome day.  I'm ready to go again!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Race report: Dash Point trail half marathon

It has been WAY too long and I finally got back on the trails for a race - and this was an awesome race! This weekend I ran the Dash Point trail half marathon and loved almost every second.

The race started at 9am which was great because it meant I could get up at a normal time with the boys, enjoy a coffee, then hit the road. It was a small field - less than 200 people all in for the 10k and half. Trail races are typically small, but I think peoples' personality and cheering at the start and finish line more than make up for it. The race started with the entire first mile up hill with a couple flights of stairs and bridges thrown in to ensure very tired legs before going too much further. The half marathon was a double lollipop with a side lollipop thrown in (kind of like an infinity sign on a stick). It was a dry morning and the trail was fairly dry which was great. The race was almost entirely covered by trees, too - also nice.

Here are a couple of the highlights / lowlights of my race: at mile 3 I took a wrong turn, when turning back I jacked my ankle (not awesome since last year I sprained it terribly), a couple cuss words later and I was fine; at mile 6 near the turning point, a bug jammed itself up my nose - a BIG bug; at mile 10 I was going down hill and hit a root funny and fell, like a pancake, on my face, sprawled and winded. The fall was the big ugh moment of the race, but I successfully shook it off and made it to the finish to nab 3rd female. The funniest part of the race was running the final loop of the lollipop and seeing the 1st place woman - for some reason when she saw me she said "oh! It's you!" I have no idea who she is/was so this was entertaining - and now I'm feeling bad that I'm so terrible with faces and names. Felt great getting back on the trails. Now I'm ready for more!!

Here's the start with the small half field lined up:
And the finish with the tiniest glob of mud on my face:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kids art room

I took the week off a couple weeks ago to catch my breath. During the week, I cleaned the house, got rid of a BUNCH of old stuff that just keeps moving with us but that we don't use, and made an art studio for the boys' room. Here's the final inspiration board (all in I only paid a couple hundred as I searched high and low in consignment stores and stores having sales for the best deals).
Kids art room

Here was the alternate I was looking at. But I decided this + kids wasn't awesome, it wasn't as cozy, and there was just too much animal!
Modern option 2