Thursday, May 22, 2014

Take the Leap: Grow Your Heart. And We're Moving to Bend, Oregon!

With every place we call home,
there's a piece of ourselves to be found
a part of us to give.

 we stay long and set roots that last a lifetime,
we are only there but for days,
We always know when we've found
a place
[or person,
or possibility]
 that is like 
coming home...

We don't choose to make it part of our hearts
It just is.
Even when we have to leave
and say

  Better to have wandered
even when it leads to sadness in parting ways
than to have never ventured off at all.  

When we love,
we plant seeds of our hearts 
that will stay forever.

With this,

Endless are the
possibilities, people and places
that will make our hearts
wild and free.  
I hope to capture
as many of them as a lifetime will hold.  

Each one,
Grow our Heart.

Well, it's official.  In July we will be moving to Bend, Oregon!  My husband recently accepted a new job with an engineering company focusing in small hydro power where he will open a new office.  What a huge new step for us!  

Moving here to Asheville, NC from Portland, OR last spring was an adventure like no other.  We were at a point in our lives where we knew we wanted to travel and take a year to see another part of the country.  We were comfortable and content living in our small home in the suburbs of Portland.  Near family.  Nice back yard.  Culdesac for our three kids to run around in.  Great friends.  Short drive to trails.  Besides the rain that comes form living in Portland, we were very happy.  But we knew how easy it would be to get settled and end up never moving or going anywhere new once our family continued to grow.  We didn't necessarily want to stay right in the same place as we were but we were definitely getting more and more comfortable with that idea as time went on.  We'd talk of dreams of moving somewhere different or trying to go to another country for a year.  Then we remodeled the kitchen and built a deck.  Things became more comfortable.  Time passed.   

Then one day, while in bed quite sick, I had a friend mention to me that I should move to Asheville, NC.  He said I would thrive there.  My first reaction as a person that really knew very little of this side of the country was: "What?!!  Why would I ever leaver HERE (the beautiful Pacific Northwest) to move to the south?!"  Ha!  North Carolina sounded anything but MY style.  And then I did some research and realized that not only was Asheville not what I thought but it actually seemed to be a perfect fit!  Mountains, rivers, trails, trees, sunshine, fireflies, art, unique culture, good beer...a place very much like Portland or Bend but only on the other side of the country and with it's own flavor.  Here was our opportunity to travel and see the other side of the country and live in a really cool place!  

So, one thing led to another. We took the first step and things unfolded from there.  Energy started moving.  Before we knew it, my husband was transferring to an office here in Asheville to work with a different section of his work and they were actually moving us!  We put our house up for rent, packed our things, and moved our family of five to Asheville, North Carolina.  Then we found a perfect little craftsman style home in the downtown of a small town right outside of Asheville and the rest is history.  I fell in love.  

I love everything about living here except the fact that family and close friends are in Oregon. I'm pretty sure I've never loved living anywhere as much as I love here.  Colorado, Iowa, Oregon...I love them all but I've never felt quite the same as I do here.  I love the climate, our house, my porch swing, the seasons, community, fireflies, trails, schools, size of the town, and so much more.  I've loved our road trips up the east coast and all the friends we've met. So much to love.  It has truly been a year of growing our hearts.  

It hasn't all been easy but we made it happen! Moving three kids across the country made for an adjustment.  It was scary as all heck and thrilling all at once. But before we knew it, the kids were in soccer, gymnastics, math clubs, book clubs, community classes through the YMCA, preschool and so much more. We found community and love. We planted seeds of our heart. They grew. All our hearts grew. Especially mine.  Asheville...this experience...this side of the will all be a part of my heart for always and part of my heart will always be here.  

That brings us to Bend!  As sad as I am to say goodbye to my time here, I knew it was just that: a temporary adventure.  It was a chance to travel, grow and experience something new.  We did that and MORE.  Now my heart is fluttering with excitement over the next chapter in this wild and wonderful and glorious life!  A heart that's ready to grow. 

Yes yes yes!!  

A few things I'm most excited about when it comes to Bend:
  • A trail running mecca.  No I won't have my lush green forests that are quite the same as Portland and Asheville.  BUT, I can drive only 1-3 hours to be in that kind of forest!  (Raina, I plan on driving over to meet up with you for some of your trails when I'm craving lush green forests.) The trail systems in Bend look incredible!!  You can run on trail almost everywhere.  I may never run on a road again!  Ha!  
  • Mountains, outdoors activities galore: hiking, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, running, rafting in the Deschutes River, swimming, fishing, camping...OMG no joke, the list goes on and on and on.  Now, I'm not much of an extreme sports girl and I actually like my bed over camping.  Oh, and I don't like skiing or snowboarding...way too out of my control zone...I don't like speeding down a mountain with my feet strapped in and I don't like paying money to be cold and awkward.  I do like the views though.  But put me in the lodge by a fire with my writing and coffee and I'm in heaven.  Although I don't like a lot of the outdoorsy adventures that will be at my fingertips,  I know I'll come to love them as I get used to the culture surrounding me.  Pretty sure I'll love the beauty and vibe that comes with living in a small mountain city like Bend.  Oh, and my husband loves all this stuff so he will definitely be in HEAVEN.  
  • Sunshine!!  Sunshine!  Did I say sunshine?!  Not as many trees as I fact, I'm pretty sure I will mourn my lush green forests.  Deciduous trees: I will miss you because there isn't enough of you in Bend for my tastes.  But sun? Blue skies more than rain and grey?  I can handle this.  
  • Fast runers to admire.  Some of the best runners around live in Bend.  It is an absolutely amazing place to train.  My days of AG wins just might be over unless all these fasties stick to the big time races.  :) 
  • Size.  Bend is only around 80,000 if that.  So many great and unique neighborhoods to choose from as I house hunt here.  Decisions decisions decisions.  Thankful for a few local runner connections and other friends that have given me advice here.  
  • Schools sound really good. Maybe I'll go back to teaching.  Or maybe not...I think there might be something new out there for me.  
  • Close enough to family to where my husband and I can still A. See the people we love the most and B. Get away on trips together and have someone who not only will watch our kids but craves the time with them!  Score!!  
  • Bend is a vacation destination and I know we will be able to have so many of our friends come visit...this will be so fun!  

For those of you that don't know much about Bend, Oregon, here's a video:

Here's to new adventures!  Here's to finding LOVE, following our passions, taking risks, and growing our hearts in the process! Even when it scares the crap out of us.  Here's to doing it anyway. Oh, and having people who not only encourage us to live like this but to do it with us!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Run This Race! Cradle to the Grave 30k or 5k.

I'm pretty sure every muscle in my lower body is sore right now.  Tight calves.  Quads that groan when I go to stand up.  Buns and hamstrings that got worked!  They are sore and happy. That good sore that comes from a fantastic workout and pushing your body.  Then add the fact that this workout came from running free through gorgeous trails, rivers, forest and all things natural and beautiful for almost three hours and you have one happy, sore, heart-and-spirit full runner.

This was the second year I've been lucky enough to run the Cradle to the Grave 30k trail race.  Last year was the first year this race was put on and my first ever trail race experience.  I went into last year's race naive and ready for anything.  I'd just run two spring marathons (Napa Valley and Boston) and was going into this race as an extension to our Try NEW Things Adventure in moving out to Asheville for a year. I bought my very first pair of Brooks Pure Grit trail shoes and I was ready to be schooled in trail running.  I couldn't have found a better race to break me in.   I came out of it beat up, humbled, exhilarated, and wanting MORE. It wasn't like anything I'd ever experienced with running.  I'd gone on plenty of trail runs with plenty of trees, mud and water.  But I'd never run this long in a forest or experienced this type of trail experience.  It was thrilling!  Rain, rushing water, mud, roots, rocks, climbs, views, challenge, strategy (in my case last year there was no strategy), and lots of time running completely alone through nature with just your heart and head.  Really, I was like a giddy school kid visiting an amusement park for the first time.  At least until the end when I realized that maybe I should have taken in some sort of fuel or food along the way. Even then, I was smiling and happy to be out there taking part in this experience.

This year  was no exception.  A highlight of my running year.  I didn't think I was going to run this race this year since it was my husband's turn.  Living on the other side of the country away from family doesn't make for many opportunities to get away for things like this with my husband.  Not a lot of babysitters want to show up in the wee hours of the morning so we can take off for a trail run in the mountains.  And we wouldn't ask anyone to take all three of our kids for an overnighter just so we can go running through the forest together.  I'd accepted that it was my husband's turn.  Besides, I didn't think I'd be up for a 30k trail race after Boston anyway.  However, it didn't take long after Boston before I was craving some "fun" running where I just get to run for the pure love and joy of running and not just stick to a training plan.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  I was able to get entry into the race AND we found an amazing sitter to watch our kids.  Score!

Rising sun behind us, setting moon, and nothing but mountains and beauty ahead on the open road as we made our way to the Pisgah National Forest on race morning.  

I'm lucky to do this with someone I love and that shares in the same passion for running .

Here are a few facts about the Cradle to the Grave 30k and 5k:
  • If you're a seasoned trail runner or someone that's never tried a trail race or run and you're looking for a great race worth traveling for or just driving to locally, add this race to your list!  It's got it all:  pre and post run celebrations, gorgeous trails through the heart of the Pisgah National Forest, unique to Appalachian culture entertainment, local sponsors, a well-organized event, etc.
  • This was the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association's (CFAIA) second annual Cradle to the Grave 30k and 5k Trail Race presented by Foot RX in Asheville.  

  • Involvement in this race means that supporting a local non profit organization while enjoying a beautiful weekend of trail running within Pisgah National Forest. 
  • You can read more about the course descriptions on the Cradle to the Grave website but here's a short description from their site:  "Come enjoy 18.6 miles of trail running in the birthplace of modern forestry! The second annual Cradle to Grave 30k starts and finishes at the Cradle of Forestry, located just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Sliding Rock. You will run out the lush Pink Beds trail past fields of wildflowers and beaver ponds, cross creeks on bridges and rocks, move along forest service roads in the heart of Pisgah National Forest, and climb up to one of the most unvisited and spectacular views of pristine forest land available. The return trip will utilize several different trails, each with their own unique topography, beauty, and characteristics. After race lunch and entertainment will be provided."
  • This entire race before, during, and after has a unique Appalachian flavor!  From a pre race party at the local Oskar Blues Brewery to camping, local food from Hob Nob Farm Cafe, a string band, and fantastic sponsors...this race is done up right!  Oh, and only a race in the Appalachian mountains would you see a pet goat tagging along with the local musicians and guy with a starting shot gun rifle like the one below! There were even a few fiddlers on the course.  Awesome!   
Morning music in the Cradle of Forestry center.

Yup, no joke. The band had a pet goat.  

So glad my friend got this picture of the guy starting the race!  You couldn't help but smile at how this added to this Appalachian race.
  • Two of the race sponsors that I'm particularly excited about:  Nuun Hydration (I hydrated with Nuun Energy throughout the race...electrolytes plus caffeine) and Huma Gel!  I'd tried Huma Gel once before since they sent samples to us as Asheville Marathon ambassadors.  I'm pretty sure I've found MY gel.  I had three of their strawberry gels during the run.  Not because I needed them every time I took them but I actually found myself WANTING to eat one.  They taste like applesauce with chia seeds!  I enjoyed them instead of gagging on them like I have with other gels.  If you have a hard time with gels and are looking for a natural, easy to eat gel, check out Huma! 
I've found MY gel! 

  • What's better than a cold beer right after a trail race?  Not much.  Thank you Oskar Blues Brewery for having such a fun selection of brews to choose from!  Oh, and for the unique beer medals!  
  • The post race gathering and award ceremony was worth sticking around for.  It made for some good laughs as well as connection with the local running community.  Plenty of cheers for even the runners that weren't able to stay.  

Happy with a huge improvement from last year.  First in AG and 4th woman overall.  And thanks to Huma and a 26.2 endurance run only weeks ago, I felt amazing at the end! I still stick to my story that these Oiselle Roga shorts make you run faster too.  Had lots of people ask me about my Nuun hat and what Nuun is...only they called it NUN (instead of Noon) just like I did at first.  And these Brooks Cascadias have seen some incredible trails from east to west coast!
  • The race shirts (picture above) proved to be of great quality again this year!  Last year's race shirt has come to be one of my favorite t-shirts to run in and wear casually and this year's will too.  Quality fabric and well made! This year's shirts were made by New Balance and last year they were Columbia
  • The volunteers at this race were so supportive.  Thank you to them for standing out in the middle of the forest to give their time and support.  Good volunteers really do make a race!
  • During much of the race I was alone or quite spread out from the other runners.  This course was so well marked.  Any chance of going in a different direction and there was clear marking to keep us from doing so.  I never felt like I was lost and I can tell that a lot of work was put into efficiently marking the race course.  A couple of pictures that my friend Kelley sent me:

View and picture opportunity at around mile 10?  

If you're a seasoned trail runner or someone who has never run a trail in your life but would like to give it a try and see what all the trail hype is about, this is the race!  There is a 30k and 5k.  The 5k isn't as much of a trail race as it is a race in the forest near the trails but you still get the trail race energy and pre and post experience.  I know many friends who have said they want to visit Asheville, North Carolina and surrounding areas and mountains.  Well, this is a great weekend to do so AND hit up a must-do trail race.  It's spring, the trees have their leaves back, the temperatures are perfect, and there's so much to see and do.  You can book a bed and breakfast, a cabin in the forest, or even a nice hotel surrounded by restaurants and local shopping in downtown Asheville.  Make a weekend out of it or take a week and enjoy the restaurants, scenic drives, hikes, outdoor adventures, good breweries, and so much more that the Asheville area boasts.  I know I'll be back someday...even if it means flying all the way from Bend, Oregon to get here.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Gift of the Run

I've run on this path so many times in the last year since we moved here to Asheville for this adventure.  So many days I've made a choice with these divergent paths...
each one, 
welcoming me, 
letting me wander...
always leading me back to myself. 

These paths have heard my deepest of secrets and fears. 
Shared in my greatest of joys and feelings of hope and possibility. 
They've caught my tears in heartache 
and whispered 
"YES! You can!" 
in moments where I've spoken my dreams and intentions. 

All on a run. 

Today's run was no exception in all I've found and given of myself while running here. 
As I came to where this path splits...
the rain pouring down on me...
I couldn't help but be grateful. 
For here.
 For now. 
For all the healing, hurt, and happiness that is part of life. 
For the gift of the run. 
This run. 
And for all that is waiting ahead.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Husband Called It: Another Marathon. #10 in Minnesota!

Some BIG things coming up in life in the next few months! With moving, career, connecting to exciting opportunities, and a few fun races.  This time two months from now, we will probably be just leaving for our long road trip back to Oregon.  We'll hopefully have a house to move into, kids registered for schools (or ready to do so), and a whole gaggle of things lined up and ironed out.  I'm excited!  I've gone back and forth with my emotions in regards to leaving but I think I'm finally in a really great place where I'm ready to stop digging my heels in and instead throw my arms out, take the leap, and FLY!

And you know, it is freaking amazing what happens when we put ourselves into things whole heartedly.  Without fear.  Both feet in.  Opening doors.  Closing others.  Taking steps in the direction of our dreams and supporting those we love in making their dreams come true.  Big things start happening and it sure is exciting to see!

Just as exciting things are unfolding in our personal lives, there are some fun things coming up with my racing/running life.

After Boston, I had a mixed bag of feeling and thoughts.  Isn't this usually the case after a big race that we trained so long for?  On the way home from our Boston trip my husband mentioned something to the tune of:

"Well, hon, if my calculations are correct, you'll be registering for another marathon in oh...about a week."

Ha!  Okay, so he's right and he knows me well.  I've run 9 marathons and only trained through 5 full marathon training cycles.  Three of my marathons so far have been followed by another marathon within two months.  Here's how my Marathon Affair has gone:

2003 Napa Valley Marathon 3:22.  First in AG.  Say what??!  I qualified for Boston.  What's that?  Why would anyone go all the way to Boston for a marathon?? Oh, well when you put it that way...why not??!

2004 Boston Marathon.  87 degrees.  1 gel.  Still young and naive.  3:32.

Baby Making Days 2004-2009

2010 Training for Portland Marathon.  Big FAT FIRST INJURY from Tripping in the Forest.  BIG ugly complete tear of my hammy.  Did the splits, heard a rip, saw a bloody (from inside) leg.  S*&$! Went into a depression of sorts.  Funk.  Had just quit my job as a teacher to be home with my kids and needed something!! Was more determined than ever to run quickly and train hard!  Started a blog....RUNNINGHOOD!  Connected quickly with so many fantastic people from all over the world, made friends (2 of them now seriously like family to me...BFFS), wrote my heart out, learned so much about running, and opened doors to tons of experiences.

2011 June Newport Marathon.  Trained for what I thought was a 3:15 but clearly not. Or maybe but just needed a different strategy.  Hit the big fat wall from going out too fast.  Plus it was almost 80 degrees.  3:30:17. What's up with the heat Newport, Oregon??  Must be me.

2011 July 4th Foot Traffic Sauvie Island Marathon.  A month later: my redemption marathon.  Ran it with my husband.  Most fun I've ever ran in a marathon. Music, chatting with my hubby/best friend, strategy...just fun!  Felt great!!!  Oh, and it was his first marathon and he kind of just jumped in without training for a marathon (super fit though).  Amazing man!  3:24

2012 Boston Marathon.  90 Degrees.  HUH?  Kidding me.  All my marathons hot?  This was the death march for me.  I did have my dear friend AM run with me from mile 19 to 26.2 and I'm darn proud of breaking 4 hours this year when I felt like I was going to die at mile 5 from the heat.  3:58.

2012 July. Foot Traffic Sauvie Island again!  Two months to recover and come back so I could run another marathon and Boston qualify for 2013 (hey, I love Boston!).  Two days before the marathon got a severe Kidney infection and was given some awful antibiotics that never should have been given to marathon runner IMO.  Cipro.  Ran a 3:28 and happy with that.

2013 Napa Valley for the second time!  Felt so prepared leading up to this race.  But low iron is a bummer!!  And seemed to come at the perfect time. Always does, right?  Felt awful in this race!!!  3:40.  Oh, and we were just about to move to Asheville.  Super stressful time.  Pretty sure after both these last two marathons I said I would NEVER do a marathon again!!!!!

2013 Boston.  Ran for experience...not time.  Well, what a powerful year for many reasons.  A very strong race for me mentally.  Very beautiful and loving self talk during a difficult time in my life.  I started the race fearful and let my fear go, replaced it with love and healing and just had a mostly easy race effort wise.  3:35.  Then we all know what happened that day... it changed so much.

That brings me to my last race, Boston 2014.  Yes, I ran a race I was proud of.  Wasn't the time I wanted but with getting sick and considering my consistency for so much of the race, I was and am proud of my 3:28.  However, something within me just wants more and feels like I trained for more. And maybe clock time won't be much different.  But maybe it will.  No matter what, if my body allows, I'm excited to run another marathon in June!

And what a great marathon to be running!  One of the most talked about June Marathons I've heard of and one I've only heard GREAT things about:

"A World Class Event with Small Town Charm."
Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN!  I'm so excited to be entered into this race and to experience all that makes this such a talked about event!  Lots to say about the reasons I chose Grandma's but here are a few:

  • Minnesota may have winters that nobody on earth envies but their early Junes are much cooler than say the south!  :) So give me Georgia or give me Minnesota for June marathon and you bet I'll choose Minnesota.  I've had enough with scorchers.   
  • A point to point course.  I like these kinds of races.  
  • World Class Event with Small Town Charm!  There's more than a marathon going on at this event...much more!  Check it out:  Grandma's Marathon.  
  • A good PR course if one was to have the perfect kind of day!  Yes!  PR or no PR, I'm excited for this course.  
  • I get to see a place I've never seen.  
  • Grandma's is known to have some of the best speakers on race weekend!  I love to learn and be inspired. 
  • Um, Kara Goucher was raised in Duluth!  That just makes Duluth cool right there, right?  
  • Certainly not last...I get to spend the weekend with one of my best friends who lives in MN!  She's even going to stay in the college dorms with me.  What a trooper.  
If you're looking for a June Marathon for this year (maybe a redemption race? Oh, the stupid things we runners do.) or in the future, I haven't even been there yet and I can tell you that from what I do know, it's worth adding to your list.  

I'm taking it slow in my build up here.  I'm making sure my body has had time to heal and then I'll go from there.  Maybe I can build up in a way that my running fitness is even better than it was before Boston!  I'm just excited to run right now.  Excited to race.  Excited to ENJOY this sport I love so stinking much!  

There is another race coming up for me on May 17th that I'm super excited to run with my husband. The Cradle to the Grave 30k.   One more thing to nail down before that's 100% official.  Fingers crossed because it's one of my all-time favorite races I've ever done and I'm excited to tell you all about it.  Can't think of a better way to wrap up this adventure in Western North Carolina before heading home to Oregon.  As far as trail races go, this one was my first but if you're in the area and looking for a beginners trail race (5k) or one that is more of a challenge (30k), this race has both and I'm pretty sure if you're quick to sign up, there might still be spots left.  Incredibly well run event and the trails through the Pisgah National Forest are absolutely beautiful! This was my blog from last year: First Trail Race 30k Cradle to the Grave. 

1.  Have you run back to back marathons? How did that go?  
2.  Have you run trail races?  If so, what's your favorite?  If not, do you want to someday?