This One Time, At Bird Camp

The only way I'll be able to summarize all of last week is to break it down in a series of statements, American Pie style.  This one time at Bird Camp...

We talked and laughed for six straight hours on the drive to Bend, OR.  Women are good at that.

Nolana, Morena, Portia and Me
We picked up awesome bags of swag and there were boxes upon boxes of food for us to bring to our condos. SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD (which I will talk more about on next week's menu plan post).

We all felt like we knew each other already, even if we hadn't met in real life.  Thank you Twitter!

We were inspired by our fellow teammates, and amazing speakers we were so lucky to have in attendance.

Linsey Corbin, who just set the record for fastest Ironman by an American female!
Stephanie Howe this year's Western States champ!

Jay Dicharry, legendary PT and author of Anatomy for Runners
And of course, our very own Kate Grace, Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher (via Skype) - pictured with the aforementioned Stephanie Howe
We were asked a LOT of questions when we showed up to a local race with more than 90 of our teammates - my roommate claimed that she was asked how many camp counselors we had.  Uhhhhh...

We ran at nearly 4,000 feet elevation - which, for many of us, was HARD, yo. (Having unlimited Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale post race made up for it.)

We were blown away by the beauty of Smith Rock.  I need to go back there ASAP.

Monkey Face

I miss hiking...
We sat by a pool without having to keep children from drowning! So relaxing!

Actually not a beer - I may now be addicted to Kombucha...
We stretched and meditated with Jasyoga - and I didn't have to drive to Seattle from the Eastside to do so!

We were led in campfire songs by Lauren Fleshman, like whoa.


We ran the river trail along the Deschutes, which was right behind our resort.

We shopped and imbibed as much as possible in town.  Bend is adorable.

We ate our last dinner together alfresco at sunset, which included amazing street tacos and doughnuts for dessert! 

Me and one of my roommies, Raine who I got to spend the most time with - love her!
We witnessed the hilarity when 100 women descend upon a cute little bar, in a little town, with a little dance floor.  I was cry laughing at many points during this trip, but mostly on this night.

Yes, this was the most bare bones post ever, but it would really take way too long to go into every wonderful detail of this amazing trip.  Many times I found myself saying that it's a lot like Ragnar, but with a little more sleep and a lot more showers: bonding, running, great times and so many inside jokes (Sir, this bus is on fire! & She's living her best life!).  I'm so thankful to Oiselle for the years of camaraderie and to Sally, Sarah, Kristin, Katie the Little Wing gals and everyone at The Nest that made this all possible.  We made memories that will last a lifetime.  We were 'living our best life' last week, that is for sure.  I already miss you Bend, and can't wait to see you again...


Books I Read in July 2014

(Housekeeping note - yes, I'm working on fixing all that blank space above the new header with the designer.  Hopefully it's not too distracting.  Moving on...)

Yep, I'm talking books and not recipes today.  There's no real menu planning going on since I'm only home for TWO DAYS this week.  AAAAAAAAAAH!  I'm having palpitations I'm so excited for the big Oiselle team retreat to Bend, OR.  I realized that I haven't updated my books yet from July, so here goes:

One Plus One

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

This was a really quick read - Moyes still has a knack for making me turn the pages, laugh out loud and swoon. But this romance felt familiar/formulaic, like I'd read a similar story or seen a movie just like it, or something... The plot didn't seem wholly original, but it had great characters and substance.  I will always read her books.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I think this might be my favorite book of the year so far.  I LOVED the Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and Lockhart's new book has certainly been getting a lot of buzz. Liars plops you right down into summertime on Cape Cod - it is one of the best atmospheric novels I've ever read, I could almost smell the sea air and taste the food prepared by this wealthy family's staff. It's also haunting, unsettling, and highly suspenseful. What DID happen that summer they were all fifteen? We the readers come to some horrendous realizations along with the main character, Cady, as she struggles to overcome her amnesia from an accident that year. I wasn't expecting a major twist at the end and my hand literally flew to my mouth as I was reading. Crazy good, and I feel like this one will stick with me for awhile.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I was on a bit of a roll in July, as this novel is competing pretty closely with We Were Liars as my favorite book of the year so far.  There's sort of a 'Butterfly Effect' theme going on, with all these seemingly small choices that the characters make that end up making a huge impact on their lives and the life of A.J.  I'm also partial to stories that take place in bookstores or that revolve around characters that are also book lovers.  This was just wonderful, sweet, surprising, hilarious, heartbreaking while being uplifting and inspiring.  LOVED.


Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I was really looking forward to this one, as I thought I could identify with the protagonist the most of all Rowell's characters: a married mom of two small kids.  Alas, I'm no Georgie (well, I do tend toward the social anxiety that comes off as suuuuper chatty - I've got that trait down) and I really couldn't relate to her marriage.  The way she emotes, though, always gets me.  She EXCELS at writing romantic language without being cloying.  I just got a little exhausted being inside Georgie's head for the whole novel and felt like it could have been whittled down to a short story.  But, as with Jojo Moyes, I will always buy Rowell's books.


August Goals and Ways to Support Every Mother Counts

First of, a check in on July Goals:

Continue with 100 Happy Days pics.

This has become quite the habit!  I'm pretty sure I've been consistent since May 1st, and should hit 100 by Friday.  I did register at 100 Happy Days.  I wonder if I'll get some notification when I've hit 100...  Either way, I have a new goal for August while I finish out this challenge.

Finish the run streak.

Not only have I finished, but I've kept going!  I'm on day 73!  I've used Charity Miles for every single run except for the two days of running Ragnar (because I wasn't getting a signal on my runs and I didn't want to kill my battery).  Part of me is thinking maaaaybe I could shoot for a year.  Another part of me is thinking that it might get a lot harder in the winter with inevitable bad weather and illness.  For now, I'm going to keep it up as long as I feel good.

Have a blast at Ragnar and make sure my family is 100% healthy before I leave!

Eat some sort of frozen treat with the kids once a week.

Total gimme. My favorites are the fruit bars they sell in the SUP shack at our local beach. 

Not freak out about turning 40...

August Goals:
  • As I said before, I'm going to finish up the 100 happy days challenge, but I've started using the one second a day app to make monthly videos and it's already really fun.  I'm excited to share my first one next month!
  • Continue with the run streak.
  • Run smart in Bend and don't overdo it just because I'll be surrounded by a bunch of fasties.  We are all doing a local 5K during our running retreat (amongst A LOT of other running/hiking) and I started thinking about time goals and decided that I just want to run for beer.  I have another 5K a few weeks later, the Women of Wonder at Greenlake, and I'll save any goal setting for that race.
  • Get school supplies - eeeeep!
  • And last, but not least, I added an August goal that I've already checked off my list - but sometimes you have to put something on a list just to cross it off, am I right?  Making a donation to my teammate Paulette's Every Mother Counts NYC Marathon fundraising goal was definitely on my to-do list for awhile and I've checked it off the list this month.  
It will be the third time that I've supported a friend running for the cause.  If you'd also like to support Every Mother Counts (which you can read more about here - really if you are a mother or know a mother, it's a very worthwhile cause), you should hop on over to Paulette's fundraising page!  OR run charity miles, which I think I've explained enough about here.  OR buy awesome Oiselle duds! OR go buy the beautiful Stella and Dot 'Enlighten Bracelet' from my cousin's page!

Seeing Every Mile, Every Mother made me recount my own not so easy births.  I had preeclampsia symptoms with both kids, and eclampsia by the time I checked into the hospital with both.  It was terribly frustrating to be a person with normally low blood pressure, only to have it skyrocket when pregnant.  I am so grateful that I had the care available to me so that my babies and I were safe and healthy.  All women should have the care they need.  That the film was introduced by Sally and Christy Turlington Burns herself was pretty awesome.  

She is even more ridiculously beautiful in person (even in a non-air conditioned Seattle summer event), and it's obvious that she is on the inside, too.


This Weeks Eats 8.3.14

Every year on my birthday, we usually try a new restaurant.  Last year was a nice night out, but just okay.  I did look into going to Canlis this year, but there were no reservations available online even six week out!  If you watched Top Chef Seattle, it was featured in the episode where the contestants try to replicate the restaurant's classic dishes that have been on the menu since they opened in the 1950s.  I probably could have picked up the phone and called, but I took it as a sign that we should just go with Daniel's Broiler, always our favorite.  

A 'French Horn' martini, it was lovely.

We always request a booth that faces West, looking toward Lake Washington, Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.  

Maybe we'll venture into new territory on our anniversary in September, maybe...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


This Is Forty

As much as I've claimed to be 'ZOMG! Freaking out!' about turning 40, I'm really not that freaked out.  I've only had a day at this age, so maybe I'll have my midlife crisis in December or something.  I did have a moment when I got a card that included an 'over the hill' reference.  Really?  But I recovered.  I can't help but reflect on my last big decade birthday at 30 when I sort of DID freak out.  Mostly because, at that time, I worried more about external, superficial things.  (Well, and we were going through a huge life change - leaving Chicago for Seattle just weeks after that birthday.)  

The big road trip, ten years ago - we look like baaaaaabies.
I was caught up in the endless questions of "What are you doing for your big 3-0!?"  Being slightly less mature at the time, I figured it had to be EPIC!  At the time I didn't think a really nice dinner out with my husband was that epic.  It WAS, I just didn't appreciate it at the time.  He took me to Tiffany & Co. on Michigan Avenue to pick out a piece of jewelry.  We walked through Streeterville and had wine and tapas appetizers at an adorable restaurant in the neighborhood.  It was all capped off when we walked over to Navy Pier for a big steak dinner (a chateaubriand, complete with a bottle of Opus One - thanks mom!) at a restaurant with a perfect view of Venetian Night fireworks.  Not a bad little birthday, right?  I was all stressed about it and ended up having the BEST NIGHT.  My husband and I talk and laugh about that night to this day.  That's pretty epic.

Soooo, the questions are bubbling again, and now Facebook exists wherein I see pictures of many of my contemporaries going on EPIC trips for their big 4-0, some even Couples Retreat style!  And right now, yes, I would really love to spend some time alone with my husband in Mexico.  Not gonna lie.  But, we have a four month old puppy at home, 

OH HAI! I'm a pretty nice addition to my mommy's 40th year.
we just refinanced our house (which involved paying off one of our loans and, of course, closing costs), I'm already leaving the kids for five days in August to go to Bend, etc. etc.  Are these excuses?  On some level, I suppose.  But, I'm pretty confident we will get on that vacation sometime soon, and I'm just really happy with life right now.  I really love this old post from Zoot and the point that she makes about fulfillment being individual.  

My kids are pretty awesome right now (for the most part...), and my whole family is happy and healthy.  No kids ended up at Children's this year while I was at Ragnar, and my husband has taken up biking and is loving it.  My mom is cancer free, we had a little scare a few weeks ago - right when she was planning a trip here, which was cancelled of course!  Whomp.  But she's doing great now and I think that's a pretty darn good present.  I've been injury free and had some of the most amazing running experiences this year...


I heart you Ragnar.
 And it's only July!  A running retreat with my Oiselle teammates in Bend, Oregon awaits!

So, yeah, I can file this under Epic - right? Smith Rock in Bend from the Oregon State Parks website.
All I feel right now is gratitude.  Maybe my age has given me a little perspective.  I adore the song "Be Okay" by Oh Honey.  It drives home this point simply but effectively:

Fresh cut grass, one cold beer.
Thank the Lord I am here and now, here and now.
Summer dress, favorite park.
Bless your soul, we are here and now, here and now.

I'm wide awake, so what's the point of dreaming when your life is great?
Celebrate the feeling, celebrate the feeling.

Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
We're screaming out, I believe we'll be okay.

Sun kissed skin on my lips.
Thank the Lord I am here and now, here and now.
Fireflies after dark.
Bless your soul, we are here and now, here and now.

I'm wide awake, so what's the point of dreaming when your life is great?
Celebrate the feeling, celebrate the feeling.

Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
Can't complain about much these days, I believe we'll be okay.
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.
We're screaming out, I believe we'll be okay.

We'll be okay.
We'll be okay.

These beachy days definitely make me hum this song.
Nope, can't complain about much these days.  Well, I'm kind of DONE with the kids constant summertime bickering...  But, that's it.  I think? I do tend to worry, so if you give me something to worry about - I will.  But, little worries aside, I'm enjoying this time in my life, I feel like I'm just coasting, enjoying the ride.

This is forty.


This Weeks Eats 7.27.14

One of the few food preferences my husband and I differ on is eggs.  He's your basic scrambled guy, those eggs had better be cooked.  Me?  I'm partial to a slightly runny egg, usually topped with hollandaise sauce.  But really any food can be improved with a fried egg on top.  I usually eat them for lunch - over leftover tex-mex food, or rice and veggies, even some toast.  So when I finally got a chance to try a new-ish local restaurant, The Commons, there was no hesitation when deciding what to order:

A smoky veggie hash with potatoes, squash, peppers, mushrooms, and kale topped with fried eggs (to which I also added bacon).  I might have to try and replicate something like this for lunch one of these days. SO GOOD.

The Chopped Thai Salad from Pinch of Yum we tried last week was really good and we'd definitely make it again.  Wonder if I could put a fried egg on it...?

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Ragnar Northwest Passage 2014 Race Recap

Another year, another Ragnar has come and gone.  I have so many thoughts, observations, and so much I want to commit to memory.  Now that you've met the team, I guess I'll just start from the beginning...

The night before the race, most of us were able to meet up at the Oiselle offices to organize all our goodies, eat a pizza dinner and decorate the vans.

I got to bed nice and early and slept nice and late, since I was in van 2 this year and didn't need to hit the road until about noon for the first major exchange in Bellingham.  This was super weird moseying out of bed around 9AM and seeing tweets/instagram pics from our team starting as I was sitting and drinking coffee in my pjs.  We all met up at the Newton's parents house, since there's ample parking and they're right off I5.  

We forgot to take good pics of our decor, thanks dudes on Twitter for doing the work for us!
Not even 10 minutes into the drive we were cracking each other up and I was crying tears of laughter.  I knew this was going to be another ridiculously awesome experience.  

van 2!
It was great to meet up with our Van 1 peeps for a few pics, get our Ragnar swag, do the safety briefing and then we were off!  

first meetup with van 1
Since Amanda runs like the wind, and her first leg was just over three miles, we hightailed it out of exchange 6 to hand things off to Lauren.  So, my legs in a nutshell:

Leg 1: 6.8 miles

Leg 11

The first downhill portion of this run was rather nice, but it was canted a bit to the side and I was glad to get on flat road.  It was a pretty long run by my standards, since my long runs as of late are around 8 miles.  The views were lovely, but I could see for what seemed like miles ahead of me - which is mentally tough.  Thankfully, it was my first leg and all that Ragnar energy got me through without a hitch.  

Awesome views, for miles...
I accidentally turned off my Garmin when I put on the slap bracelet, but my last 5 splits were in the low 9s, which I was pretty darn happy with for a 7 mile run and I passed 9 people!

Leg 2: 6.5 miles

Leg 23

After our dinner at Skagit River Brewery and a little rest at La Conner middle school, we were back on the road around midnight.  My much anticipated run over Deception Pass bridge was one of the best runs of MY LIFE.  I was nervous about running in the dark with a headlamp; something I've never done before.  But the rolling downhills through the forest were amazing.  I felt like I was flying because it was the opposite of my first run: all I could see was the 10 feet or so in front of me (more than enough to run safely/see the ground) and then the majestic evergreens being illuminated every few minutes by the headlights of the vans going past.  All the other runners on that leg were so happy to be out there, too.  There was a lot of 'great job!' and 'strong running!' as we'd pass each other, and I passed 12 runners, averaging a 9:30 pace.  And of course, there was the amazing light display they added to the bridge this year.

Had to steal from Ragnar, because the one photo I took was super blurry and I was afraid of dropping my phone into the depths below.
Seriously, I felt like Santa Claus coming in for a landing.  It was just outstanding.  I was a bit worried about the weather.  Originally we were all concerned about the heat, but then the forecast turned to rain.  I thought I was going to freeze, but it started misting a bit while I was out there and it was downright refreshing.  Everything just came together.  Oh, and for the record, I did not have music on this entire race - didn't need it one bit.

a little comparison shot from when we visited with the kids about 4 years ago!
The next break for us didn't happen until close to 6AM and we had less than three hours until our next set of legs.  I spent a decent amount of time with baby wipes and changing into warm clothes before collapsing in the van with Amanda around 7AM for about an hour of sleep.  This is one of the major drawbacks of van 2.  It seems like the most mileage for van 1 is the first set of legs, while you're driving up to Bellingham.  The first break is only enough time for dinner and a nap.  And by the time you're really tired during the last break, there's no time to sleep.  

My vain attempt at sleep after dinner. I highly recommend a sleep mask, though.
We were up and at 'em again around 8:30AM.  It was rather funny that our whole van just sat on the curb at Coupeville High like zombies watching people come into the major exchange.  Other teams were making cheer tunnels, carrying boom boxes and even clipboards!  Clipboards!  I can't even imagine taking it that seriously with our times! We'd just drive our runner to the exchange, cheer/support them along the route after seeing them off and head to the next exchange and wait.  Like last year, I don't think anyone had any solid knowledge of each other's times.  No one was ever lost, or left hanging (for more than a minute, anyway) at any exchange.  That's just how we roll.

Leg 3: 3.5 miles

Leg 35

I was glad that I wasn't the first runner in the van this year, having to run right after sleeping.  I had plenty of time to wake up and prepare for my run.  That being said, I still felt like death warmed over - that's just par for the course for your last leg of Ragnar.  You just get through it.  It did not seem 'easy' and I averaged about a 10 minute mile.  Somehow, I was smiling during this run, probably telling myself to 'fake it 'till you make it.'

After I finished up, we gave Morena some support about half way through her brutal last leg to the finish and then hightailed it over to said finish line.

Parking was super easy and we had enough time to return our safety flags and catch up with van 1 before spotting Morena and running across the finish line together.  Apparently there were spots opened up for more teams this year, but you'd never know it - Ragnar ran super smoothly, as usual.

We sat in the grass and ate some pizza together and van 1 took off pretty quickly to catch the ferry home, as they were waiting HOURS for us to arrive.  A con of being in van 1, and I distinctly remember this from last year.  It's great to be done first, but then you have to wait, and wait, and WAIT to be truly done.  I did spot The Oatmeal (again) as we were eating and encouraged Paulette to grab a pic!

I left him alone (save for the catcalls as we'd drive by him in our van) since I already got one a few weeks ago at a Beat the Blerch training run:

with van 2 teammate Lauren, too!
It was fun to see him and his team out on the course, he was a van 2 runner as well.

Speaking of van 2, at first I was thinking that it's the lesser of the two.  But then I made a list of pros/cons, because I'm ridiculous like that.

Van 2 pros:  
  • You can sleep in and start later (ya know, if work or the kids aren't an obstacle in the AM)
  • The scenery, in my opinion, is better than the van 1 legs
  • You can eat a real sit down dinner at a normal hour after your first break
  • You're more likely to get the middle of the night running (yes, a pro!)
  • You don't have to wait for-ev-er at the end of the race to finish
Van 2 cons:
  • The legs are WAY HARDER OMG
  • There really is no good time to get more than 2 hours of sleep TOPS

And while I'm making a list, here are the reasons a minivan is way better than the 12 passenger van:
  • So much easier to handle, for all those 3 point and U turns
  • Much more comfortable/reclining seats
  • More reliable, more likely to be a newer vehicle (last year our 12 passenger van stalled on us at least 3 times)
  • You can open the back windows for more air, cheering and pictures
  • I'm guessing they're cheaper to rent
In conclusion, to remember the ridiculousness, I'm doing a straight up High School Yearbook tribute - "I will always remember" meme:
  • Cheering Amanada with "EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE YOUUUUU!" Because, we all totally do.

  • Whisper cheering, 'natch.  This is my favorite Ragnar tradition.
  • Whisper cheering killlll, killllll, killll sorta horror movie style when our runners where about to pass (or 'kill') another runner.
  • 'The Napoleon Dynamite Effect' of Ragnar - it kinda sucks while you're in it, but then it's suuuuuper funny and awesome after the fact.
  • "Bitch eatin' crackers."
  • I am an expert at U turns.
  • "You do YOU."
There are probably a bunch of other things that seemed absolutely hilarious at the time, but I'm forgetting them now.  I'm looking forward to the posts from some of my teammates.  And if you ran Ragnar and blogged about it, I'd love to read your post, so please feel free to leave a link in the comments.  I'm nostalgic already...   


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