Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I may be jinxing myself, buuuuuuut......

...I kind of want to start counting training weeks? Even though I'm still doing more elliptical than running & only just cut out walk breaks? Don't get me wrong, I'm still taking things super carefully, but it's been a long time since I had any pain walking or running at all, and I finally feel like I'm making real progress towards normality.

So. Here we go. Week 1, such as it was.

~*~*~CIM WEEK 1 OF 11~*~*~
    * 8 walk/run
    * 2.5 hours elliptical
    * 1.5 hours strength work

Monday: afternoon 30:00 strength work & 30:00 easy elliptical / p.m. karate

    My plan was to do my strength work in the morning as usual, but a wicked bout of insomnia put the kibosh on that. Instead I went to the gym after work. I'm trying to ease my way back into strength work, but MAN, apparently I packed a lot into that half-hour because for the next few days I was sore as you know what.

Tuesday: elliptical "speed work": 10:00 warm up, 6 x 0:45 hard/1:45 easy, 17:00 marathon pace effort, 6x(0:45 hard/1:45 easy), 10:00 cool down. Translating pace workouts into elliptical ones is a true art, my friend.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / afternoon 8 x 5:00 run/1:00 walk = 4.4 miles / p.m. karate

    This was a bit longer/further than I intended because I did the math wrong in my head. I'd intended to keep things in the 30-40 minute range, and I didn't realize I'd made a mistake until I realized I was over 2 miles from home & not even at the halfway point. The good news is that I didn't have any pain during or after, so that's something. If anything, it's karate that's still bugging my left leg. (Impact = no big deal. Twisting/torquing = ehhhhh kind of a deal.)

Thursday: 1 hour easy elliptical. BARF.

Friday: a.m. strength work / p.m. elliptical "tempo run" Failure

    This entire day was a logistical fail thanks to work. I had to be in a wide range of places geographically & there was no time during the day that I could get to the gym (which is by my office, 30 miles from home). I've had a number of days like & they always make me consider potentially joining a gym by my house as well so I can have access to an elliptical or bike.

    Eh, at least Stanford won.

Saturday: 6 x 8:00 run/1:00 walk = 3.6 miles. More like what I meant to do on Wednesday. So far, so good!

Sunday: Rest. Again with the need for elliptical access near my house. You don't really need rest days when your week includes less than an hour of running and five hours of elliptical.

Overall, pretty decent on the running front, but I wish I'd been able to get in a couple more hours of elliptical. (I mean. I don't, really, but long term, it would have been in my best interest training-wise.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kinvara 5 vs. Kinvara 6: Part 2

(Part 1 Here)

In the last couple of weeks I've had a chance to do some actual running in these, science-style (read: wearing version 5 on one foot an version 6 on the other, alternating which foot is which for each run). I've also put in a decent number of miles in the 6s alone. Here are my updated observations.

Comfort & Fit

I noticed that the 6s felt different on my feet than the 5s, but I didn't form a real opinion about this until I actually ran in them. And yes, the verdict is they ARE demonstrably different in terms of fit. The heel cup definitely feels a bit deeper, and after a while this became a little uncomfortable. Whereas the heel cup on the 5s feels like it wraps right around my heel and holds it without any weird spots, on the 6s, it feels as if there are lumps inside of the heel cup that press up against my heel. It's not horrible; just not super comfortable.

The other definite difference is related to what I mentioned in Part 1 about how the shoe feels more squashed, top to bottom. Just standing/walking, this kind of just felt like my foot was getting a warm hug from the shoe. Running, though, is not quite as comfortable. I had to loosen the laces completely so that they weren't putting any tension on the rest of the upper, and even then, my foot still feels a little squashed. It's particularly bad on the outside edge, near the pinkie toe/outer ball of foot area, and I often get the sensation of my foot sliding forward in the shoe so that my toes are rammed into the end. This gives the sensation of running in a shoe that's too small, except with extra space in the heel.

For me, it's not bad enough that I can't run in them or want to return the shoes. Like I said, all my 5s have gotten kind of loosey-goosey & needed tighter lacing as they got older, so I'm curious to see whether with a little breaking in the upper on the 6s loosens up a bit & starts to feel a little more comfortable. Even so, I suspect this version will never be a marathon/long run shoe for me. (Back to Brooks Launch, I guess.)

Flexibility & Support

This is why you really need to compare two brand-new shoes side-by-side if you're going to say anything definitive about how the two compare. Putting on just the version 6s, my first thought was, "WOW, these are SUPER stiff compared to the 5s!" And compared the ones I've been running in, they are. But then I put on the brand-new 5s & was kind of startled to find that they felt equally stiff. Apparently, ~200 miles is all it takes to mush them out a bit (which maybe explains part of why I don't like wearing them for long runs after that?). So in that regard, I think the flexibility of the two versions is about the same. No detectable difference folding/twisting them up by hand, either. Like every other version of Kinvaras that I've owned, these are more bendy than than the vast majority of traditional running shoes, but they are not by any stretch 'minimalist.' (WHY WON'T PEOPLE STOP CALLING THEM THAT??)

Also, like every other Kinvara ever, they have a decent amount of support for reasonably efficient runners, particular if you happen to be a mid- or forefoot striker. (Probably fine for heel strikes though there are also probably better shoes out there for that.) They are neutral, though, so if you have an overpronation problem, these shoes are not going to fix that.


Not much to say here -- the 6s felt pretty much identical to the 5s in this respect in every way, if you can ignore the differences in fit. (Though I have clearly gotten used to the old ones I've been running in lately & the amount of ground feel you get from mushier shoes. The brand-spankin'-new ones, both 5s and 6s, did not feel quite as good.)

Bottom Line

Really, the only issue for me with the Kinvara 6 is the squished-up, pinchy nature of the upper in the heel and outer toe box. Like I said above, it's not a *huge* deal for me, but I don't imagine I will generally run more than about 10 miles in this version. I think whether or not I buy another pair will probably come down to whether the upper loosens up at all as they get broken in, to what extent, and how long it takes.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Welcome to My Nightmare: Running Anxiety Dreams

Last night I dreamed I was running CIM with a friend who has also run it before, but never the same year as me. We are generally in the same ballpark pace-wise, so in my dream we decided to run it together. I was extremely worried about forgetting the route and going the wrong way (I blame this on the fact that I've mostly run super small local races this year where that is actually a concern), so since she has run it more recently than me, she drew me a rough map which I stuffed into my pocket. Our goal was to run 8:00 miles, so we started out doing so, and I was relieved to find that they felt fairly comfortable and easy.

We passed mile marker 15, which is traditionally the hardest point for me mentally in a marathon (15 miles is really far, and you've still got over ten miles left to go), and I was feeling really over the whole thing & just wanted to be done. "Remember, this is the part with the hills," my friend told me, and I remember thinking, "Ah, yes, everyone thinks CIM is just easy downhill, but they forget that there are actually some pretty big hills in there." (This is not true in real life. There are no big hills whatsoever.) Nevertheless in my dream the course went steeply up, up, up, broken only by a few short plateaus. My friend started to really struggle after the first couple of steep parts, so I threw her arm over my shoulder and basically dragged her all the way to the top. (You had to climb through a fence, too, which I also dragged her through, thinking to myself as I did so that perhaps that was not the most efficient strategy.)

The payoff for the set of big hills, though, was a twisty slide on the downhill side that let you built up so much speed that it shot you out like a cannon at the bottom, and runners were meant to fly through the air a short ways, then literally hit the ground running. Soon after this I realized I'd lost my friend. I stopped & tried to see if I could spot her somewhere behind me, but it was like she was just gone. We'd agreed at the beginning that we didn't have to stay together if one of us started to struggle with the pace, so after a minute of looking I gave up & kept running.

(Also, it was dark. I have a had a lot of running dreams where the race takes place in the dark. Not exactly sure why.)

Around this time, a guy started running with me who reminded me a lot of a former co-worker. We had some conversation about how he was either trying to run the same pace as me or had the same goal time or something and so we decided to run together for a while, but he kept getting really upset that the pace was too hard and maybe he wasn't going to hit his goal time. And I kept looking at his watch (not mine, for some reason) & being like, "Uh, dude, the reason it's hard is because we're running 7:10 pace right now." But instead of being concerned about this, I decided it was a good thing because it felt easy for me right now and maybe I could bank some time. (#dreamlogic)

Soon after, we entered the shopping center portion of the course, which I remembered from my friend's hastily sketched course map. (I'm not sure why, but many of my racing dreams also seem to feature running through shopping malls.) My not-co-worker and I tried our best to follow the course, which was marked by yellow police tape, but mall workers kept redirecting us to go back because we'd gone the wrong way. "You have to go to the left of the Estée Lauder counter and then to the right of the Dior counter," a woman told us disapprovingly in the make-up & perfume section. I wanted to scream because I felt really good for this late in a marathon and I knew we were just barely right on pace and all this going back business might cause us to miss our goal time. Finally we reached a point where there were no other runners around and the police tape marking the course was wrapped comically around the mall railings and kiosks and even knotted in places, making it impossible to tell which way to go.

"Which way?" I asked a mall attendant frantically, who just kind of glanced uncomfortably around at the tape and shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe that way?" Why are you people all so incompetent?? I demanded in my head and pulled out the map my friend had sketched me, knowing as soon as I did that a) it was not detailed enough to tell me how to get out of the mall and b) there wasn't much race left to go and I still needed to make up a LOT of time. I'd lost my not-coworker at this point so just head in the direction that made the most sense to me. (I had the vague sense of other runners around, but somehow none of them were in front of me or running in the same direction.)

And that's all I remember.

I read on the internet that something adults should stop doing after the age of 25 is telling their dreams to anyone other than a significant other or therapist, so, if that's true, sorry.

HOWEVER, I'm not the only one doing it, because I've had enough conversations with fellow runners to know that I know I am not alone in having running anxiety dreams. And just as with showing up to work or a party naked or having your teeth fall out, there do seem to be some fairly common themes:

  • Being unable to find the start. I once had a dream that my mother was driving me all over San Jose trying to find RNR San Jose and after like an hour of driving around we still couldn't find it. I was freaking out and she was soooooo angry at me, which made me even more upset & eventually made me cry.
  • Uncertainties about the course (see above). This is definitely not the first dream I've had where it was unclear which way to go and the race volunteers didn't know either. (Though, this has happened to me in real life, so...)
  • Thinking you've set a huge PR only to find out that you either turned around in the wrong spot or cut the course super short in some other way. I dreamed once that I ran a three hour marathon & everyone was congratulating me, and I kept telling them, "No, really, you don't understand. Something is very very wrong here." And it turned out I'd cut some kind of dog leg or something, and then everyone was angry and accusing me of cheating.
  • Arriving at the race only to realize that I have forgotten to wear or bring running clothes, and trying to race in jeans & sandals or some such.
  • There is no finish line. Or you can't find it for some reason. SF Track Club workouts at Kezar Stadium sometimes overlap with a Nike training group, and since "There is no finish line" is their mantra, I had a pretty amusing conversation with a Nike dude once about how those words made me shudder because they were my actual, literal nightmare.

Do any of these dreams resonate with the masses? Have you had other, more different upsetting running/endurance racing dreams? Should I stop telling my dreams to people now that I am an actual, grown-ass adult?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Books Update: Quarter 3

Fall is finally here, if only officially (did I mention it's been 80s & 90s in San Francisco for weeks? Not okay), and as we close the book on September without much to remark on running-wise, it is time once again to speak of books.

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last two years. It started as a one-year project in 2014, but I've enjoyed it enough to keep going with it & will probably continue until it starts to feel like a chore.

July: A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (1990, 637 pages). Ahh, John Irving, you got me again! Sweet, depressing, hilarious, & raw. The story follows Johnny Weelwright (1st person narrator) & his best friend Owen Meany (tiny, brilliant, charismatic, & possessed of a bizarrely shrill voice) from their childhood together in a small town in 1950s New Hampshire through early adulthood, while periodically flashing forward to Johnny's middle age in Canada. The relationship between the two is weirdly cemented when uncoordinated, nonathletic Owen somehow manages to hit a baseball at the end of a Little League game that hits Johnny's mysterious mother in the head, killing her. After that, Owen is convinced he is "God's Instrument," with everything & every moment in his life leading to a single purpose. I think it's the sheer audacity & improbability of the whole thing that made it one of the best books I've read in a while.

August: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (1847, 507 pages). I think sometimes it's difficult to fully appreciate classics because the reason they are classics has mainly to do with the context in which they were written. Reading Jane Eyre for the first time in 2015, I have to admit that I spent most of it rolling my eyes & ready to chuck it across the room. Really? Really, Jane? It's so painfully clear that Mr. Rochester is a dire shitbird, and you are utterly pathetic for not realizing this almost immediately. (Though, I will also admit that she gets a little less pathetic as the book goes on, but he is still a shitbird, and their conversations are honestly kind of gross.) BUT, I do get that it was rather revolutionary and radical for 1847 and (kind of hilariously) was actually lambasted for being anti-God/Church (ie, a woman every once in a while having an original thought and maybe occasionally for half a second not doing exactly what some rando self-important dude tells her to do). Still, a part of me was screaming throughout, JANE, YOU IDIOT! DTMFA!

September: The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair (1905, 335 pages).

Welp, I guess I'll go shoot myself in the face now.

The Jungle is about the trials & tribulations of a Lithuanian family that settles in Chicago to pursue the vast riches and endless opportunity that they have heard are there for the taking in welcoming, democratic, class-blind America. Lololololol. No but really, it's one of the most depressing books I've ever read in my life. I get the historical significance of this book and that the fact that it's completely and utterly depressing as hell is the whole point, so three stars for that. But when you have only one color in your palette (shit-color, for instance), it loses its effect real fast & you stop expecting anything else. Most of the other books I've tagged as "depressing as hell" offered at least a few strokes of other colors occasionally, if for no other reason than to provide enough contrast for the horrible parts to maintain their effect (and presumably to stop you from pausing to kill yourself). Not so here. It's shit sandwich after shit sandwich, and any time things start to look maybe-kinda not so bad for the protagonist, you know that a shit sandwich with an extra-crispy cat litter crust is just around the corner.


I have read a lot of stuff lately but here are the titles I most highly recommend:

The Ocean At the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (2013, 181 pages). 5 stars. Beautiful, creepy, imaginative, & sad. Essentially: All things Neil Gaiman. More along the lines of Coraline and The Graveyard Book than Neverwhere / Stardust. Hard to explain any more clearly than that.

Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk (1996, 218 pages). 5 stars. I picked this up in the airport because I wanted something short to read on a plane, & having only seen the movie & never read any Chuck Palahniuk, I was curious. Super entertaining & amazingly well-written & well crafted! My only regret is that I wish I'd read it before seeing the movie. I also enjoyed the afterword at the end about how the book began as a six-page short story no one paid any attention to & evolved into an international blockbuster. The question now is, which Palahniuk to read next?

The Blue Girl, by Laurie Foos (2015, 220 pages). 5 stars. A super quick, easy, fairly minimalist read, and at the same time amazingly, gorgeously, breathtakingly written. I'm not sure how you do both of those things at the same time, but somehow Foos pulled it off. A silent blue girl has appeared in an unnamed lake town; after one of their daughters saves the blue girl from drowning, three sad, middle-aged women with sad, middle-aged husbands, teenage daughters, and troubled sons sneak out at night to the cabin in the woods where the blue girl lives with an old woman to feed her the secrets they've baked into homemade moon pies. When the kids catch on, everything changes. Again, I don't understand how she did it, but these 220 dream-like pages weave together some of the most brilliant character development I've read in a while with profound narrative themes & symbolism. Not a wasted word anywhere. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson. (2014, 371 pages) 5 stars. This may be the absolute best modern YA novel I've ever read in terms of teenage characters who are actually believable in terms of how they think, act, and (especially) talk. It's also just a lovely, if bittersweet, story about a set of artsy teenage twins trying to navigate their own & each other's tumultuous lives in the wake of their parents' own issues, and manages to strike a nice balance of humor, heartache, sweetness, and raw teenage emotion without veering too much into melodrama (or trying so hard to ape modern teenage lingo that it's painful). Still a *bit* too much schmoopy in places for my taste, but not so much as to make me want to vomit (which more or less seems to be the norm with YA). A great read for 12/13+, but there's plenty going on for adults to appreciate as well.

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay. (2015, 288 pages) The story follows the Barrett family (out-of-work, hyper-religious John, his cynical, frustrated wife Sarah, and their two daughters Marjorie and Merry, fourteen and eight respectively) as Marjorie descends into (severe mental illness? Demonic possession? A desperate bid to salvage the family's financial situation?). John gets the local minister involved, who in turn gets the family a reality TV deal ("The Possession"), which in turn leads to Complications, all of which is narrated by eight-year-old Merry. The real genius of this book, though, is that it's kind of meta-horror. Instead of telling the story purely from eight-year-old Merry's perspective, Tremblay ups the ante by framing it as told by twenty-three-year-old Merry to a bestselling author who is writing a book about the events, and then interspersing those interviews with blog posts about the reality series "The Possession" written by a quirky & mysterious horror junkie. Because of the reality show, a lot of what happened is on film, but a lot of it isn't; there is also the reliability of Merry's memory to take into account. This all adds up to an undercurrent of uncertainty about what did and did not actually happen and to what extent was the situation was medical, supernatural, or faked by Marjorie and/or the exploitative reality TV producers. Brilliantly written, start to finish.

The Longest Date: Life As a Wife, by Cindy Chupack. (2014, 212 pages) 5 stars. I picked this one up after hearing a podcast interview with Chupack & finished it on a single plane ride. It's pretty short, and manages to be funny and entertaining even when she's writing about some pretty heavy stuff. Even so, she pulls absolutely no punches, laying bare just about every facet of her relationship with her husband, from their courtship as late-thirty-somethings to raising an adopted child at fifty. And I think it's that completely candid openness that makes it such a compelling read. It's not, "Marriage is hard work but if you pick the right person and really love each other and practice gratitude or whatever you'll make it through the tough times." It's more like "I'm the luckiest person alive!" on some days and on others "SWEET JESUS WHAT HAVE I DONE," and for her getting married was agreeing to stick it out, even on the SWEET JESUS days. (That, and coming to terms with the fact that she was a control freak & now had someone permanently in her life that she couldn't control.) If you've ever had a moment when you're like, "Oh god, why can't we be like all those nice, normal people who are super in love all the time & never have any horrible moments together???," this book is a great reminder that nobody is those people, because we are all real, live humans with strengths and flaws and history and baggage, and that's what you sign up for when you marry a real, live human.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli. (2015, 303 pages) 5 stars. What a sweet, wonderful, (sadly) subversive book. The last twenty pages or so actually had me kind of weepy (in a good way), and if you know me at all you know how rare that is for a book. This and I'll Give You the Sun have reaffirmed my belief that yes, there IS, in fact, really excellent YA left in the world. Like all the best books (I'm discovering), the marketing copy just really does not capture what makes this one so great. Come down to it, it's basically about gay-but-not-out 16-year-old Simon negotiating all the usual sixteen-year-old orders of business (school, friends, family, extracurriculars, crushes, feeling generally awkward & out of place), but with the added wrinkle of an anonymous email penpal about whom he knows nothing except that said penpal is a fellow gay-but-not-out junior boy at his school. Hijinks, turmoil, laughs, and all the feels ensue. (Also, mad props to Albertalli for a) writing a gay protagonist (1st person) who is just a normal kid and b) handling the whole teen boy coming out / figuring out how to relationship in such an earnest, thoughtful, brilliant way, particularly for someone who, as far as I know, has never been a gay boy)..

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff. (2015, 392 pages) 5 stars. Oh, man. I don't even know where to begin with this book except that it was amazing. I actually think the marketing copy included a pretty decent summation: Every relationship has two perspectives, and sometimes the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. The relationship in question is that of Lotto & Mathilde, madly in love and married at the tender age of twenty-two after knowing each other for all of two weeks. The first half of the book tells the story of their decades of marriage from Lotto's point of view, and though the writing is utterly gorgeous and the characters dynamic and multi-dimensional, it's on the darker side, without much in the way of comic relief. The second half, though, is Mathilde's story, which fills in a lot of blanks. The genius of this book lies in the juxtaposition of the two voices, addressing issues of destiny, creative potential, and the nature & meaning of marriage. Not a light read, but the complexity and cleverness offers enough relief from the darker nature of the story to make it brilliant.

* * *

Currently Reading: The Fifty Year Sword, by Mark Z. Danielewski

Currently Listening To: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Up Next:

Taking future suggestions as always. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Still alive, mostly functional!

So, sorry if you've been refreshing this page over & over since last Friday, waiting with bated breath for a new post; it's just been a lot of drama & moodiness up in here, and no one wants a tortured, real-time play-by-play of all the ups & downs of someone else's personal drama unless the person in question is your BFF or significant other (and, let's be honest, maybe not even then). So, maybe a weekly digest of ups & downs is a little more bearable? I will try not to be too much of a drama queen.

Soup. Which I have been eating a lot of, since
I've been sick for nearly a week. BOOOO.

So I signed up for CIM at the end of August & entered the race into my RunCoach calendar, meaning I have an official training plan now (UP!). But, since my busted leg made it impossible for me to actually follow it yet, I've been doing as many of the workouts as I can manage on the elliptical at the gym by my office (DOWN). The only issues with this are that 1) I can usually only eke out an hour on the thing and 2) I'm obviously not driving to work on the weekends, so no long runs are happening right now. (Also, let's be honest; I'm not sure I could handle more than an hour on the elliptical anyway.)

Once I'd been pain-free for a week, I also started to add in little bits of running, usually around half an hour every other day or so of walk-run intervals (UP!). This was going great up until the Sunday before we left, when, the day after running, I was in a rush to get to a local store before it closed & decided to jog it. Bad idea. My left tibia started screaming at me, and I kind of limped home a little (DOWN).

At the beginning of said hike. (Read: Another excuse to post Oregon pictures.)
FINE, I thought. We were about to go on vacation anyway (UP!), where I did not intend to run at all, so for the next three days I went back to elliptical only (DOWN) & figured that that plus a solid week off should be enough to placate my whiny bone cells. Vacation was pain free (UP!), up until the second-to-last day, when Don & I, starving and ready for beer, decided to jog the last part of the trail we'd been hiking. This was fine for about five minutes and then my leg informed me that it was suddenly very NOT fine and we walked the rest (DOWN). To be fair, though, this was after six hours of hiking/climbing that day and about three hours the day before, all with no ill effects. So it may just have been too much time on my feet overall.

That was September 8th, & it hasn't hurt since (UP!). I did ~35 minutes of walk/run intervals the Saturday after we got back just to see how it felt, but since then have been sticking to the elliptical to be safe. The spot on my leg has gone from feeling like a large, swollen bruise early in September to now feeling like a very tiny bruise that's just a bit swollen, so that's progress (UP!). Still, I'd been hoping I'd be up to a 10K this Sunday, which is clearly not going to happen (DOWN). Which is just as well, since I've been sick the last few days (DOWN).

All this has made me start to feel a little antsy about CIM, seeing as that it's only 11 weeks away (which feels unsettlingly soon) and I have yet to run for even 30 minutes without walk breaks (DOWN). (I mean, I probably could. I just haven't because I'm afraid I'll wake up with pain the next day.) And also anxious because, although I can mostly do my speed/tempo & shorter runs on the elliptical as I gradually add running back in, long runs don't seem like something that's going to be happening any time soon (DOWN).

As I've said before, I think there are lots of good reasons to pay some amount of money for some amount of coaching if it's something you can do and are interested in, and one of the reasons why I think it's a good idea for me is because in situations like this, I will work myself up into a frantic mess worrying and end up scouring the internet for advice, which will inevitably all conflict. So at times like these, it's worth every penny of the $40 a month I pay to RunCoach to have pros just an email away (who, at this point, know my history fairly well & have access to three years of workout logs).

Coach Ashley was good enough to remind me that I wasn't starting a new marathon cycle from scratch and that I have a really solid foundation still from the training I did this summer, even with a few weeks of rest/elliptical only/no long runs. So I can't really think about building up to this race the way same way I would ordinarily. She said the elliptical work I've been doing so far is fine, and as long as I have 8-9 weeks of long runs to "re-sharpen", I should be in a good place for CIM. (Also not to worry about long runs at all until I can run 45 minutes with no walk breaks.)

So, that was a huge relief. Part of me was expecting them to be like, "Eek, we didn't realize it was this bad, you should probably just hope for a half in December & target NVM again in the spring." I'm going to try another ~30 minutes of walk/running on Saturday, & if all goes well, attempt to drop back into that progression while continuing the elliptical work. Hopefully within a couple of weeks I'll hit that 45 minute mark!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Portland / Willamette Valley / Columbia Gorge

I'm always kind of conflicted about blogging about trips/vacations, because blog posts about other people's vacations are among those I tend to skip. But every now and then I will mention an upcoming or recent trip and someone will leave a comment like, "Can't wait to hear all about it!" or "Can't wait to see pics!" And of course, because I am insane, there is always a part of my brain going, But does s/he *really* want to hear about/see pics from x trip, or is s/he just being nice and/or leaving a benign comment because I left one on their post?

Which is I guess is an unnecessarily long-winded way of saying, "Here are a few photos from our recent trip to Oregon! Enjoy, and no hard feelings if you skip it!"

I downloaded everything from the memory card in my camera last night & was a little stunned to see 585 files appear in the folder titled "2015 09.02-09 OREGON." It was only eight days and I honestly felt like I was practicing a little restraint.

(Because otherwise, you know what happens. During the trip, it's all "I'll just take one more shot of this, what's the harm" and "Oooonnnnee more with a different aperature" and "Oooonnnneee more from a slightly different angle, just to be safe," but then you arrive home like I did after three weeks in Italy, download 2,000+ photos, & find yourself resigned to nothing but quiet weeping for the rest of the night.)

I'm a quality-over-quantity type of person in general, though, so please enjoy Portland, the Willamette Valley, and the Columbia River Gorge in the equivalent of a single old-school roll of film or less each.

We spent our first few days in Portland, eating & drinking all the things.

After checking in to the Bluebird Guest House (perfect!), we wandered next door to the SE Wine Collective for a bit of tasting & snacks. Both were fantastic.

SE Wine Collective

Then off to Beast for a mindblowing eight course pre fixe, including duck leg confit.

Day 2 began with The. Most. Amazing. Breakfast burrito I have ever had in my LIFE. Oh my god.
Portland is definitely winning at street food.

No visit to Portland is complete without a stop at Powell's Books!

So big you literally need a map.

Pause for refreshment just around the corner at Deschutes Brewery. So much delicious beer that doesn't make it to CA!

Once you're in a tasting frame of mind you might as well hit up the awesome folks at Clear Creek Distillery.
(I recommend the eau de vies. Actually I recommend everything.)

Home to change into nicer clothes, then a quick sour beer tasting at Cascade Brewing....

...then around the corner for one of the most incomprehensible dinners of my life at Le Pigeon. (Seriously....I can't even. You had to be there. There were some tears & one of our party may have mentioned tingling in her naughty parts.)

Smoked foie gras profiteroles from dessert. (Yes; apparently you can do that.)

After hours at Teardrop for fancy pants cocktails!

Day 3 began with coffee & donuts from Blue Star. (Far superior to the Voodoo Donuts tourist trap.)

We bid adieu to Portland with a delicious lunch at Clyde Common (including house-made Italian sodas!)

After that it was on to Willamette Valley, which is Oregon's main winemaking region.

We stayed at The Painted Lady Guest Cottage in Newberg, which is AN ENTIRE HOUSE (2 bed, 1.5 bath, & full living, kitchen, & dining rooms, plus backyard with covered patio, grill, & fire pit) which will set you back a whopping $200 A NIGHT. You can't even rent a hotel room for less than that around there!

The best part of The Painted Lady Guest Cottage is that it's about 20 feet from The Painted Lady restaurant, which serves a four-hour, nine course pre fixe that will positively ruin you for eating out for the rest of your life. (This was the pasta course. THE HAND-BRAIDED PASTA COURSE.)

Cheese course. (I'm pretty sure I never met a beet I didn't despise until this course.)

Be super nice to them & they might even walk your evening cognac, dessert wine, & other accouterments over to the guest cottage for you on a silver platter. Made of actual silver.

Next up: Let the wine tasting begin!
(Colene Clemmons)

On the road up to Domaine Drouhin Oregon

In the vines at J. Cristopher

Vidon I think? (If you want a list of solid wineries in the
Northern Willamette, just let me know. I've got you covered.)

We took time out to harass Ben Franklin on the way to dinner in McMinnville.

Pork belly & other deliciousness at Thistle.

After three days of wine tasting, nothing hits the spot like tapas & mojitos. (La Rambla, McMinnville)

After dropping our friend K at the airport, Don & I spent our last few days in the Columbia River Gorge, which is one of those places where you can pretty much point your camera in any direction and it will be gorgeous.

Bridge to Shepherd's Dell Falls

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail

Bridal Veil Falls

Sunset in the Gorge

Wahkeena Falls

Gorge stream on Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail

Gorge stream on Wahkeena Falls Loop Trail

Fairy Falls

Weisendanger Falls

Weisendanger Falls

Multnomah Falls Trail

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Behind Ponytail Falls

Behind Ponytail Falls

Elowah Falls

Elowah Falls

Epic Hood River sunset is epic

I thought we had a really excellent itinerary, & logistically everything worked out just about perfectly. 3-4 days of wine tasting is really plenty, but I definitely wish we'd had more days in Portland itself and maybe 1-2 more in the Gorge. I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves good food, good wine & beer, & hiking through gorgeous scenery!