I won! HB Tune hand band (thanks Running Diva Mom!)

For anyone that knows me, they know that I love free stuff! (can you really blame me?)

Just the other week, I won a giveaway from another runner’s blog, a HB Tune hand band.

(thanks Running Diva Mom for hosting and of course HB Tune for offering it up!)

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I had actually already bought one a year or two ago at one of the expos (I can’t seem to remember which one…..there have just been so many!) and have really liked it.  Proof below….one of the many races I’ve run with it! (this once was the Vancouver Half Marathon)

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But, when I got my new iPhone 6, it was just a little bit of a snug fit. It still worked, but I felt like it was busting out (I guess if I weren’t so lazy and would actually take my cover off of the phone before using the band that would help…but who has time for that?)

Also, since my boyfriend started running and he still has the iPhone 4, he was able to use it without problem….well, the only problem being that now we had to share one HB band!

Well…problem solved. The new band arrived on Tuesday and I’ve already taken it out on two runs.

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It’s pretty much the same version as the older one I had just bigger, except for one major improvement…..before if you wanted to take the phone out of the holder while running (you know, for those awesome selfies…..) you had to unstrap the whole thing which was sort of a pain. Now, there’s a separate Velcro strap that is just for the phone. So you can take out the phone, but the band still stays on your hand. Brilliant!

If you like free stuff too….she’s got two more giveaways going on now! Check them out:

Ion Designs Reflective Transfers (great for those “it’s too hot while the sun is up” runs)
http://runningdivamom.blogspot.com/2015/04/ion-designs-reflective-transfers-review.html

 Road Noise Vest with Speakers (essential for anyone planning on running any relay races coming up….Hood to Coast, Rogue Relay, Cascade Lakes?)

http://runningdivamom.blogspot.com/2015/04/road-noise-vest-with-speakers-review.html

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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

Team SunRype

In January, I got a great email to start off the year:

I’ve been selected to join Team SunRype!

Team SunRype is made up of 150 runners, triathletes and cyclists who are focused on achieving athletic excellence and possess a strong passion for their community. I’m super excited to have been chosen to be a member of the team this year.

My box of samples came in and made me even more excited! In it was a tshirt and visor and several boxes of products that I will be sharing with my running group and friends and handing out to other runners at various events throughout the year.

Before I can hand out the products, I of course had to try them all out. DELICIOUS! They’re 100% fruit.   I’m still trying to decide which flavor is my favorite…but they’re all just too good.

As part of the team, we get Team SunRype gear to wear during races. I hope mine arrives in time for some of my upcoming races…..next up is the DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon in March. I’ll be heading home for a long weekend to run the race with my brother, watch the Blazers play the Wizards (again, but in DC this time!), and spend some time with the family and see a few friends.IMG_7132

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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German Wine Road Half Marathon

After a great two week work trip in Jerusalem, it was time to head home. My itinerary originally included a required overnight in Frankfurt. Taking advantage of having a friend who lives in a town outside of Frankfurt, I emailed her to see if she was going to be in town and was free. Turns out she was! So I extended my layover to include one more night. Then….just out of curiosity I started looking around to see if there were any races nearby that weekend. And, as luck would have it, there was!!! And a really great one! The Deutsche Weinstrasse Half/Full Marathon (German Wine Road race). How could we not sign up for it?? Unfortunately since it was already so late, the half was already sold out, but there were still entries for the full, and there was a note that said that if you signed up for the full you could switch to the half around the 8.6 km point. So we signed up!

I arrived Saturday afternoon and after dropping my stuff off at my friend’s house, we headed to the expo to pick up our stuff. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we got a little lost but eventually found our way. We picked up our packet which included a bottle of wine (awesome!!! Can’t wait to try it out), a bunch of grapes shaped sponge (still trying to figure out the exact purpose for it….we saw some people who had it with them during the race either dunking it in water and using it to cool themselves off and then others squeezing water out of it to drink, and wine too!) There was also a bottle of some sort of other drink, which I took one sip snd spit it out, it was so disgusting! I don’t even know how to describe it….it was sort of like flat cola, a malt like drink, some lemon mixed in, and just, gross! There were some brochures for other races in Germany and then a few candies. It all came in a cute drawstring bag. They had the option to purchase a tech shirt for the race, which I did. I figured it’d be a great souvenir.

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The race was on Sunday, and didn’t start until 10am (thank goodness because daylight savings was in Germany on Saturday night! So we lost an hour of sleep that night). We got there with plenty of time. The atmosphere was great. A lot of music and people everywhere. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and looking forward to a great race.   The weather was perfect as well! Sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot.

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The course itself was really pretty, but really hilly. We ran through a bunch of vineyards. I got some great pictures. We actually ended up walking most of the course. My friend is such a trooper! We had only signed up about a month before race day, so there was very little time to train. And not to mention she was still dealing with previous knee and other injuries. It was still a lot of fun. We got to enjoy the course and even stopped and had some wine at the water/aid stations along the way! I really do enjoy not having the pressure of “racing” and just running/walking the course instead. It is a different mindset and experience, but one I think I enjoy more. Granted – I say that now after being plagued with knee issues myself and having slowed down my pace a lot. Maybe that will change if I get my speed back 😉

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At the last point of the race, we were passed by one of the marathon runners. He had a funny long-billed hat on backwards and was running in a plastic fake butt!!! Once I saw it I had to run after him to catch up and take a picture! There were a few people in the crowd who saw me sprint after him and didn’t realize what the heck I was doing until they saw his “backside” as well! Then they started laughing as well. I think it’s great that people have a sense of humor.

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We crossed the finish line and heard our names announced (they even pronounced mine correctly!). We met up with my friend’s boyfriend and eventually sat down at a picnic table and enjoyed some beers and food. It was a beautiful day just to sit outside and hang out with friends.

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The medal itself is pretty neat too. It’s a bunch of grapes and the ribbon is the colors of the German flag. I can’t wait to hang it and the one from Jerusalem on my “Tracey Runs the World” medal hanger that I got for Christmas!   Two great (and appropriate!) additions.

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Jerusalem Half Marathon

I may have mentioned it before, but I am lucky enough to have a really awesome job.  I get to travel to interesting places that most people would never think of going (Iraq, Yemen….) and occasionally I’m able to squeeze in some fun on the way home.  This is even more important to me since I moved from DC (where I could easily fly to Europe for a long weekend) to Portland, here it seems like it takes an entire weekend just to get to Europe!!! I’ve been particularly lucky in being able to add on side trips to international race destinations in the past year (Edinburgh and Nice) and most recently (as in today!) Jerusalem. Well, actually, this time, Jerusalem was actually the destination for my work trip. 

The race itself was on a Friday.  And the race went quite well! Or at last it did once I got there. I woke up around 5:15-30ish, and went down to the lobby around 6 where I was expecting to see a bunch of the other runners I had seen at the hotel last night. Instead, it was dead quiet! Kind of weird. I realized I was cutting it a little close (race started at 6:45am), but figured I still had plenty of time.  So I asked the guy at the front desk to call a taxi.  He called, talked for a while, and then hung up and told me that no cabs could come because the roads were closed already for the race. I started to panic! The starting line was quite far from the hotel, and there would be no way I could walk there in time! It would probably be another half marathon just to get there! So I pleaded for him to call again or if there was anyone at the hotel who could get me at least somewhat close to the start. He called, talked for a little while again, and then hung up and said 5 minutes. I was so relieved! (although granted I didn’t really believe him to be honest).   But thankfully in about 5 minutes, a cab pulled up! I got in the front seat and was just so relieved that I didn’t even notice that there were 2 girls in the back seat at first! Turns out they were staying at a hotel nearby and were also going to the race!  I was seriously so happy.  The one girl was from Sweden and the other from Germany.  So we finally got as close to the start as we could and the cab dropped us off. It was nice to have someone to walk to the race with (and to take a picture of me at the start!)  They were nice girls who were also there for the race. Looking back I’m kicking myself for not exchanging info with them! Obviously they’re awesome girls who travel for races, so we should be friends 🙂

 

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 Anyways, I felt pretty good throughout the entire race. There were some serious hills though! Especially at the end. Talk about cruel. I’m just thankful I was only running the half and not the full.  We went through some neat neighborhoods and actually ran through part of the Old City. That was pretty neat.

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I ended up finishing the race much faster than I would have expected! I think I came in just around 2:10. Not too bad for not having really trained for it that much.  Afterwards, I walked around a bit seeing if I could find the girls from the taxi (hoping we could share a taxi on the way back!)  but no luck. I sat and stretched and enjoyed the sun for a bit, and then started trying to figure out how I was going to get home!!! I ended up walking to a hotel and found a cab, who charged me a crazy amount (well about $20, but it seemed crazy). And, I’m pretty sure he was crazy.  He was driving like a maniac, asking all sorts of questions, was mumbling to himself “why, why, why” anytime he something. And then we couldn’t get to my hotel because the roads were closed. So at one point he stopped, pointed and said, “there your hotel is up there. just walk up and it’ll be on the left”.  It didn’t look anywhere close to where I thought the hotel was, so I said fine, but I’m only going to pay you 50 (he wanted 80 ILS). Apparently that was unacceptable, so he ended up driving around again for about 10 minutes and then got to a point again where it was close, but not to the hotel. I told him I wasn’t going to pay the full amount because he didn’t take me to the hotel where we agreed on! He started throwing a fit. I ended up paying 75 just to get out.  I was sort of mad, and was trying to explain to him that I had just run for over 2 hours, the last thing I wanted to do was walk up a hill!!! He didn’t seem to care. Oh well, can’t win them all!

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Overall it was a great experience and I’m so glad I was able to run it!  It’s definitely not nearly as much fun doing a race alone as it is with friends, but sadly I wasn’t able to convince anyone to come with me for this one.  Maybe next time! Well, actually definitely next time! Next race is next weekend.  I have a mandatory layover in Frankfurt on my way home (it takes just about a weekend to get home from Europe too!).  I emailed my friend who lives near Frankfurt to see if she’d be in town (she will be!) so figured I’d extend my layover one day and see her. And then….I just happened to be looking at races, and saw that there was one that weekend, not far from Frankfurt!!! Talk about perfect! Unfortunately the half was already sold out, but we were able to sign up for the full and can switch to the half during the race. And if that wasn’t perfect enough, the race is in wine country in Germany! I’m so excited. Last time I visited my friend, we went to a beer festival, so it seems only appropriate to do something wine themed, and even better something win running too! We ran the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in November to celebrate her birthday (again, another logistical coincidence that worked out great!) See the birthday girl in the middle (obviously!) and one of the best photobombs ever (guy in the American flag shorts to the right)

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More details and pictures of that race to come next week!

Tinkerbell Half Marathon

This past January I went to Disneyland! No really, I did 🙂  The trip originated from my friend Amanda’s 30th birthday just happening to fall on the day of the race.  So what better reason than to fly to California, dress up in costume and run a race?!?!  Of course I was in!

I had all sorts of great intentions of making a super costume, but of course life got in the way.  I was literally sewing my costume the night before the race in the hotel. But I got it done! I think it turned out pretty cute (I finally decided to be Snow White).  I had gone to Target the night before I left to try to find some last minute things, and in the toy department, in the Disney aisle, I found a super cute (and cheap!) Snow White purse.  As I was in the check out line, a woman behind me saw the purse in my basket and squealed, “Oh that is sooo adorable!  Who’s the lucky girl that is going to get that??”   I laughed and said, “Me!!!”  Her face changed from one of delight to confusion, so I explained to her what is what for.  Then she looked at me like I was crazy.  Oh well!

Here a few pictures of us before and during the race! Such a fun time.Image