Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon – May 3, 2015

A couple of runners from my local running group headed down sown to the Redwoods to run the Avenue of the Giants half marathon (one of our group rocked the full marathon!)

Unfortunately with a meeting scheduled at work on Friday that I couldn’t miss, Michael and I weren’t able to get on the road until Saturday. It was a beautiful day and a pretty easy drive (easy for me as the passenger!), but it was still an 8 hour drive, which makes for a long day!

We got there right in time to join the group (who had all left at least a day earlier) for dinner. We were staying at the Miranda Gardens Resort which was super cute. There are a bunch of little cottages. For dinner we just walked across the street to the one restaurant in the area. It was ok, but none of us were particularly wowed by the food.

We hung out for a bit afterwards, but then headed to bed to get rest for the next day.

I didn’t really have any expectations for the race, other than to have fun and run it with my friends. That was achieved, although I have to say afterwards I felt worse than I’ve ever felt after a race in a long time. My body just ached and I was very frustrated with how difficult the run was for me.  We didn’t push ourselves either, so there was no reason why I should have been struggling so much.  I guess it just wasn’t my day….I suppose we all have those.

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Unfortunately, this race was a week after I found out that I won the lottery and would be running the Chicago Marathon in October! Not exactly how I wanted to start of my training for that.  IMG_7674 IMG_7672  finisher

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DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon

The decision to do this race actually happened while at a Blazers game against the Wizards. Michael and I thought it would be fun to go to a Blazers away game, and what better place than DC, since we could stay with my parents? And….as I was looking at the schedule, it just so happened that the Blazers were playing the Wizards at home the Monday after the DC Rock n Roll race! So of course the first thing I did was email my brother to see if he’d be up for it. And he was! So plans were made! I registered for the race and Michael got the Blazers tickets!

This was my first race as a member of Team SunRype. Around mile 2 or 3, I heard a “hey SunRype girl!” and it was actually my brother who had to poke me and say “you know they’re talking to you, right?” They told me that their friends who were also on the team were running too. Further along the course nearing the end, I saw 3 other girls on the team running. They had stopped under a bridge to take a picture (I think). I stopped for a second to say hi, but my brother was flying and it was obvious he wasn’t going to stop…..so I kept running to keep up with him.

The weather was AWFUL. Rainy, cold, windy. I have the best boyfriend in the world who not only fought through the weather, but also an injured foot to cheer us on at the race, making sure to be there at the start and then further along the course.   We finished the race with a PR for my brother, so that rocked. It was also fun running through my old neighborhood and seeing how much DC has changed in the 3.5 years that I’ve been gone.  But I run in the rain enough in Portland, it would have been nice to have had a dry race this time.

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Running in Scotland

After finishing the race in Mexico (yes, I am THAT behind on blogs!) I had a few hours before I had to get to the airport and make my way to Scotland. Why Scotland? At work the new region I’m supporting was having their annual meeting at our European headquarters office, and it was a great opportunity for me to meet the country directors I’ll be working with now. Unfortunately it meant cutting our Mexico vacation a da      y short (well mine since I was flying directly to Scotland from Mexico…..Michael would be going back to Portland first) but on the flip side it meant another mini-vacation in Scotland! We were able to use frequent flier miles to have Michael fly out to join me at the end of my meeting in Scotland, and my boss approved me switching my original vacation day to the other end of the trip….and adding in that there was a holiday on that Monday, we got a long weekend!

The last time I was in Scotland, I was there for the Edinburgh Rock n Roll Half Marathon. (ps don’t look for the post on that race, I apparently never did one! such a slacker I am).

I had been in Nigeria for work and was able to work my flights out so that I could stop for a long weekend on my way back.  And because I have awesome friends who also like to travel, my two friends Amanda (yes, both named Amanda!) were also there.

The race itself was actually pretty miserable. I wasn’t in shape and it was rainy, windy and cold. But we finished! And from running an international Rock n Roll race and a domestic one, we got an extra medal! The “World Rocker” medal. Heck yeah, we rocked the world!!

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Amanda and I with both our Rock n Roll Edinburgh medals AND Rock n Roll World Rocker medal!!!

This time since there was no race, and I had just run the one in Mexico…correction, I had just ROCKED the one in Mexico, the running in Scotland this time was just for fun.  The hotel that we were staying at was in a great location close to everything, including a nice park, the Meadows which had a nice path all the way around and was full of runners, which was nice since I had to get up early to try to squeeze a run in before our meetings and it felt safer to be with others. That being said, it was a little weird….I couldn’t figure out which side of the path to be running on.  Since they drive on the other side of the road, do they also run on the other side?  I don’t know if there just wasn’t any “rule” of if there were so many random people running, there was no consistency. So I just kept to the right side as I’m used to and then if someone was coming towards me, I’d move!

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The next day, I decided to run around town a bit.  Edinburgh really is just a beautiful city….full of pubs! I tried counting the number of pubs I passed on my run, but lost count. Just too many! I ran up to the castle and then down to Holyrood Park and back. Holyrood Park was where the half marathon had started, so I remembered that part (although not particularly fondly!)

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Michael joined me for the last part of my meeting and then we stayed on for a long weekend.  While still in Edinburgh, we made a stop at the Camera Obsucra right near the castle. If you’re in Edinburgh, I highly recommend going! It was a ton of fun.

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We rented a car and drive up to the Highlands and back. Scotland is such an amazing country! And we visited Loch Ness which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

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On our way back to Edinburgh, we stopped off in one town to try to get lunch and had the hardest time finding a place to eat (strange!).  But we did find a mall, so figured that would be easiest to find something. And when we walked in, this was the first thing we saw!!!!  Still not sure why it’s TK instead of TJ but I instantly felt at home 🙂

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Catching up!

I am sooooo far behind on a ton of race recaps….it’s pretty sad.  There’s just been so much going on it’s been hard to keep up.

So, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I’m in Nigeria for work, it’s the weekend, and there are limited options of what I can do and catch up. So get ready for a bunch of short and sweet race/run recaps!

Before I do that….a little bit more of why I’m in Nigeria at the moment:

I’ve been very fortunate to have had 4 really amazing jobs since college, all with amazing companies. They all had two things in common: 1) a great mission and 2) allowed me to travel the world.  For the past (almost) 4 years, I’ve worked for Mercy Corps, an organization working to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.

We work in some really difficult places, but as a result I’ve been able to travel to many places that the majority of people will never go to:  Iraq, Yemen, Liberia, Nigeria, Gaza.  But every now and then there’s the chance for a visit to somewhere amazing: Egypt, Scotland and Jerusalem.  And in the coming year there will likely be a trip to Colombia, Guatemala, Ukraine and/or possibly Georgia (the country, not the state!).  I’m actually looking forward to going back to Latin America for work, it will be interesting to see how much has changed!

But for now, I’m here in Abuja for about two weeks meeting with our finance team and the donors for one of our big programs supporting girls education.  It’s the rainy season here, so it’s been quite warm and there have been some pretty impressive downpours and thunderstorms. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll be able to get out for a run while I’m here…although I did bring my stuff just in case!  I guess marathon training will have to start when I get back.

NoPo unofficial half marathon in Bandon, OR

This wasn’t an official race, but a fun run (13.1 miles) organized by two of my friends in my NoPo Run Club running group  (NoPo = North Portland). A bunch of us drove down for the weekend to Bandon.

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The “course” was gorgeous and the weather was nice on the way out, but a little chilly on the way back. But the sun was out the entire time, so no complaints there!

It was also the first “race” that I ran as part of Team SunRype.

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Even though it wasn’t an official race, our amazing Toni did print up bibs for us and even surprised us with medals!  Afterwards we got some delicious seafood for lunch and then grilled out for dinner. After dinner we were all so exhausted from the days activities that it ended up being a pretty early night.

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Michael and I took the scenic route on the way back and stopped in Florence for lunch (super cute little town!) and Salem to see the cherry blossoms (we were a few days too late…there were still some, but they weren’t at their peak any longer) and then couldn’t drive by the outlet mall without popping in!  All in all, a fun filled weekend getaway!

Los Cabos Half Marathon

For anyone who lives in the Pacific NW or has spent any time during the winter here, you can imagine that it is a necessity to escape and seek some sun at some point! So for the January long weekend holiday, we decided to escape to Mexico. We found a good deal on airfare to Cabo and decided to go for President’s Day weekend. Hours after clicking purchase (literally)…and just out of curiosity, I googled “half marathons in Mexico.” Boy was I surprised to find that there was a half marathon….in Cabo…..the weekend BEFORE we just purchased our flights for! I did some quick research and found that we could change our flights within 24 hours of booking, and it would actually be cheaper if we went the other weekend. Now I just had to convince my boyfriend why this was a perfect idea! Luckily he is very understanding of my race habit, and agreed to change our trip – which as it turns out worked out rather well, since I ended up having to cut our Mexico vacation a day short to head to Scotland for a work trip….more on that later.

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Our plan was to fly into San Jose del Cabo, rent a car, spend a few days in Todos Santos and then head back to Cabo for the race. What a brilliant idea. Todos Santos was an adorable small, quiet town. We walked to a nearby beach and pretty much had the place to ourselves, aside from a few others we passed along the way and the 4-5 whales we watched playing around in the water!  The weather was absolutely gorgeous – sun was shining, but the heat wasn’t unbearable.

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The hotel that we stayed at (Guaycura Boutique Hotel) had a wonderful rooftop deck where we sat and watch an amazing sunset, while enjoying some drinks.  The hotel was right in the center of town and everyone was super friendly (even those the system was down when we got there so they couldn’t get us our room key right away! Not a problem….we were on vacation!  We were really surprised at how empty the town felt. For such a cute, artsy town we expected there to be a ton of people (but of course were relieved that there wasn’t!)

After our time in Todos Santos, we headed to San Jose del Cabo, stopping in Cabo San Lucas for lunch on our way. Talk about two cities being as different as possible! Within minutes of being there we both agreed that we made a very smart decision by going to Todos Santos. It was just so much more our style. Cabo San Lucas was just way too built up and crazy. Maybe if we were still in our early twenties on spring break!!

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After lunch, we continued on to San Jose del Cabo, where the race was and where we had rented an apartment through AirBnB (our first time!). The city was a happy medium between the quiet, laid back Todos Santos, but still lots of options of Cabo. After getting settled into the apartment, we headed to the packet pick up.     I wasn’t sure what to expect, not really knowing the size of the race. It was pretty organized but relatively small compared to other races. There were a few tables set up from local vendors selling running gear and medal displays. Nothing particularly great. Afterwards we found a spot for dinner, away from the blaring music!

The night before the race I didn’t sleep particularly well. When I woke up, I wasn’t very optimistic about the race.

We got to the start line, which was conveniently just a few blocks from the apartment we were staying at. I was very surprised at the amount of people who were actually wearing the race shirt. Maybe I’m a bit superstitious, but I don’t think you can really wear the shirt until you actually run the race! That and I’m a big believer in not doing anything new on race day. You just never know what sort of chafing the shirt could cause!

I felt pretty good the first two miles. I spotted a girl who was keeping a good pace – just fast enough to stay ahead of me but not too fast that I couldn’t keep up. …until we hit the hill and I passed her! Guess she doesn’t do much hill training!

The course had a few out and backs which were great since I was able to see Michael a few times along the course. He was amazing support! Each time I saw him I got a burst of energy. The last time he jokingly said that he’d better start heading back to the finish line so he could see me cross, and he’d better hurry since I was doing so good. I hadn’t really been paying much attention to my watch throughout the race (shocking for me!) so I was really surprised to look down and see that with only a mile left I could end up finishing under 2 hours! Considering how great I felt and I didn’t really feel like I had been pushing myself, I was super surprised, and also super motivated to get myself to that finish line under 2hours!!!

And I did it!!!! With 54 seconds to spare! (if you’re not a runner you probably don’t think that is much….but trust me it is!)IMG_6939I got my medal, found Michael and walked around the post party set up for a bit before heading back to the apartment to shower, get food, and pack…..I had a flight to Scotland to catch!!!!IMG_7002IMG_6936

Running in Egypt

It has been quite some time since the last post….which I guess makes sense since I haven’t run internationally since then!  Well, that sure has changed!

Time for me to get caught up a bit…..

In November, I traveled to Cairo for a support visit to our office.  Going to Egypt has been a lifelong dream of mine, and the fact that I was able to go for work is truly amazing! And even more amazing is that I was able to work in what just may be the best vacation ever around it (more on that to come….).

When I arrived to Cairo, turns out I had a fever 😦  I spent the first few days struggling and feeling all around pretty awful.  I had a fever over 101 for the first 3 days I was here.  Not exactly how I pictured the trip going!

I was able to get some medicine from the pharmacy (there are some advantages to being in a country where you don’t need prescriptions! especially when you have a fantastic aunt who is available to provide medical advice via email!!!) After the first 2 doses I started feeling like myself again.  Thank goodness.

So as the weekend was approaching (Friday – Saturday here), and with feeling better, I started thinking about what I wanted to do. Of course, going for a run was one of them!  I asked one of my coworkers if she knew any good running routes and she mentioned that she’s seen a running group around the neighborhood a few times. So using the wonderful internet, I googled “running in Zamalek (the neighborhood where our office and my hotel is)…..and up pops Zamalek Runners, a running group that had their next run scheduled Friday morning at 7am.

So Thursday night (well technically Friday morning since I didn’t get home until after midnight!) after a lovely Italian dinner and seeing a film at the Cairo Opera house as part of the Cairo International Film Festival, I set my alarm for 6am so that I could get up and have some time before I needed to leave around 6:30am to get to the place by 7am.

So I woke up, put my gear on and headed out……(my gear being capris with the attached skirt and a long sleeve shirt….trying to dress modestly…even though with the temperature being in the low 70s, I would have preferred to be wearing a tank top and my running skirt!!!)

I made it to the place with no problem (just a few strange looks from people trying to figure out what the heck I was doing that early and probably being a foreigner as well).  There was already a bunch of people gather when I arrived.  I found a spot to sit next to a young girl while we waited for the run to start.Zamalek Runners group

While sitting, the girl next to me started a conversation. Luckily she knew more English than I do Arabic (I’m at about 10 words now…..) so we were able to have a somewhat complete conversation! We did keep it to basics though, but she was super sweet.selfie during the run

The run finally started just after 8am! Apparently timeliness is not a very Egyptian trait.  I was trying to explain to the girl how in America things are usually very punctual.

The run ended up being more of a run a few blocks, stop and walk, talk to a few other people, start running again…..Which was fine. I definitely wasn’t expecting to go out and have a full speed run after being sick!  Also, it was more fun enjoying the social aspect of it (I know….shocking right? For anyone who has known me for any amount of time will know that I am much more of a social runner than a competitive one!!!)

IMG_5089All in all, the route we ran (we opted for the shorter route) was about 3 miles or so.  I got to see more of the Zamalek neighborhood which was nice.  And I can say that I’ve now run with an Egyptian running club!!! Pretty cool 🙂

Unfortunately I didn’t end up making it out for any more runs while I was in Egypt, but spent an amazing week with my boyfriend, Michael, playing at the pyramids and cruising down the Nile

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