To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Take That, Big C!

When we last talked I had just finished my 25th half marathon, and final race of 2013. As I sit here typing this I am actually wearing my race shirt! Coincidentally, my awesome friend wore hers today, too! ;) It's super comfy and I shall be wearing it with pajama pants tonight as I watch all the countdown shows on TV with my favorite husband (Man Friend), and others at my mom's house. Tonight we celebrate my Grandpa's birthday with a fancy dinner and conversation. He's a New Year's baby and still a kid at heart. On Christmas morning (our 3rd Christmas get together of the season) we even got him to show up in his pajamas. I hope we make this a new tradition. Grown up pajama days are fun! Here's the birthday boy with his favorite daughter and favorite grandchild -- am I playing favorites? It's my blog, I get to assign things the way I want...besides, I'm named after him, of course I get to call myself the favorite!


At our second Christmas of the year we had the pleasure to have the company of MF's children (his daughter is also a Rae girl like my mom and I!). We are all very serious when we get together....

Sometimes we look normal, too...

I'm working on a pretty big project right now during my housewife hours, and I've been taking photos along the way. Once it's done I'll share a before/after post. I blame Pinterest! My house smells like paint right now. Boxes are all over the place. And then I try to USE the boxes - but I can't because my cats decided they own them. It hinders productivity!!!

And then finally, the Big C... I don't have to worry about kicking it's ass because, after my highly dramatic surgery earlier this month the doctor was successful in getting rid of all the precancerous cells. Woohoo!! Yesterday I finally got the 6 stitches removed and soon I get to check out my new scar. Until then I just get to see it this way (through photos that MF is kind enough to take for me) -->

Pretty, right?!?! I'll just say it again -- wear sunscreen! And cover up. I try my best to remember to wear my sunblock and it is rare that I am even out in a tank top. But I guess after years of just being a normal human and seeing sunlight I hit the jackpot by having some potentially bad cells. I get to go back in 6 months for another check-up, and you can bet I'll be buying even more sunblock once the sun decides it exists again!

So that's it for the year. Have a good evening everyone and .... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS!!!!!!!  *love of my life*

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eugene Holiday Half Marathon - Take Tew

Last year I ran the inaugural Eugene Holiday Half Marathon in less than favorable conditions. I wore THREE shirts, pants, knee socks, ear warmers, gloves and a hat. This year would not be the same.

About a month before the race I registered for this race due to the appeal of a long sleeve, hooded tech shirt and a new out and back path that avoided the mud show that was the last tenth of the inaugural race.  By the time race day came I was having concerns. There had been so much snow and ice in Eugene, would the race be miserable? Would the path even be clear?

The night before the race I had everything set out ready to easily put on and be on my way. The race didn't start until 10am so I didn't have to wake up any earlier than I do normally. I was up, dressed, fixing my breakfast for the hour drive to the race. I felt ready and kind of excited. You see, the roads were dry! It wasn't freezing when I stepped outside. I had a new Garmin on my wrist and I was ready to have a good final race of 2013.  My friend was doing the 5K so we were texting the whole way up, and I shared my joy at clear, blue skies over the race area. Yay!!

We arrived at Applebee's with plenty of time to use the warm bathrooms and get our bibs and shirts. In the car we relaxed and added our layers.... or did we? Sure, Man Friend had all of his - but did I?? My 26th half marathon... a half marathon in December in Oregon ... and what did I NOT have? My long-sleeve tech shirt. Oh. My. Gosh. I frantically tore through my bag and realized I had the hot pink short sleeve for my base layer on, and then post-race pants. No shirt. My shirt was an hour away on my couch. Ugh... So that long-sleeve shirt I ran this race for? Yeah, I had to run the race IN it. 

Soon it was time for pre-race photos and we went to the start area. It was already much warmer than last year so I ditched the ear warmers and gloves, what a relief!  At 10am the gun went off and we were on a 13.1 mile journey through a flat bike path on the west side of Eugene.  In that first mile we settled in to our "back of the pack" spot. I planned on having a "good" race until the great freeze out happened and I couldn't do any of my long runs for a few weeks. Oh well, I knew I'd still just make the best of it. At mile 2 I decided to Galloway it and do my run/walk intervals. When I'm not mentally into it that really helps because it mentally makes the time go by faster if I am just making myself run a certain distance before a little breather.

Mile 9, feeling great!
The weather was perfect! I actually got a little hot! The water stations were adequately supplied this year and each stop had a variety of gels to offer - we went home with 16 I think? Score! *FYI, Ragnar team -- I'll probably be bringing this to share since I am a Clif girl!  The course had a few out and back spots to it which I actually did enjoy. I was able to see that while I was at the back I was the THE very back. As a matter of fact, we consistently kept passing people with each mile. Except for one....

One woman we passed at the start ended up passing us. Her strange style of running made me not want her to beat me. I was confident we would pass her again. I wasn't, however, expecting to have a terrible Meniere's attack mid-race. The last couple of miles were so difficult I was almost in tears. It helped having my friend at the finish line texting me. And it helped having Man Friend at my side to hold me up when I actually had to run with my eye closed for a while to try to help the vertigo. I was on the verge of throwing up for the last 5K and feeling absolutely miserable. I'm telling you, Jeff Galloway knows his stuff -- all those people that had passed me at the start? I was miserable but sticking to my intervals and I ended up passing a lot in those last 2 miles. I resigned myself to the fact that that one woman I would not beat. Oh well.

Then I got to the Applebee's parking lot. I saw my friend her mom, gave them a wave and then focused on the ground for the last hair-pin turn. After that turn I looked up and there was that lady. This was my chance! With no signal to MF to keep up, I took off! I practice finishing sprints with every run for a reason. I blew by the woman like she was just standing still. Childish goal achieved!! He even said later, "You went from about to throw up to bullet speed with absolutely no warning!"

We got our medals, met up with my friend and enjoyed some post-race water and bit of a bagel. With my medal around my neck I was pretty happy to put an end to a pretty lackluster 2013 race year - aside from my Goofy and Dumbo weekends of course! As far as a holiday race goes, the weather was just beautiful and the volunteers were very friendly and positive. I have no complaints!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Story of Non-Training

Once up on a time I was super excited to train for the Southern California Ragnar Relay. It is not forgotten that it is less than 4 months away. That might sound long, but when you've never stayed up for so many hours in a row, you have to get airline travel taken care of, figure out vans, decide on your race attire, etc.... that's not a whole heck of a lot of time. Plus, perhaps one should, Oh, I don't know ... train?!?!

I was on a roll. I have my entire plan written out on a calendar. I had been having some really great runs. My pace is non-existent, but I've been able to run without walk breaks and have noticed my pace picking back up. I really think that before long I'll be back to where I'd like to be for the race. But it's hard to improve ... when you are being a big, fat weenie!

On Cyber Monday I prepared myself for Ragnar... I ordered our reflective vests for the night portion of the race; I ordered a charger for my phone and Garmin so I won't have to be without technology in the van; I even got a new, smaller, simpler Garmin! On paper I am prepared! But what also happened across the entire US except for Florida? Oh yeah, that storm.  Sure, I could have braved it and tried to run in the snow -- but what it?!? WHAT IF I tried to run, slipped and broke myself. How is that helping my training?

And for a week I looked outside longingly. I went out every day to touch the snow and look at my yard completely covered in white. Heck, at work the first day of the snow I even paused to take care of very important business....

Clearly I have no problem with snow! It turns me into a kid and I HAVE to touch it. I HAVE to get IN it. My dog is just like me. During the great snow of 2013 she was wanting to go outside constantly. I think she just likes making fresh paw tracks all over the place.

But now the snow is gone and tonight I get to run with my new Garmin -- Forerunner 10 for those of you that are curious. I've been using the 305 for the past 4 years, I was ready for a change.

Minus the bandages that had been over it.
Also keeping me from running one night at the end of the snow was my surgery. That's right ... SURGERY! Oh yes, it was very dramatic! It was! I saw blood, dammit, there was blood!!  A couple of summers ago I was at the golf course and noticed a spot between my toes. I kept watching this spot grow but didn't go to the doctor since I was busy running so much and training for back to back marathons. This year I sucked it up and showed my doctor. She sent me to the dermatologist who removed said spot and another on my back. I got the call that the spot on my toe was nothing, but I had to go back for "a 30 minute surgery" on my back. I swear they said "30 minute surgery" 4 times during that phone call. Talk about freaking me out!!

So last week I took my grown-up self back to the dermatologist and had to lay face down on his table, my head on a pillow and fully clothed. Woohoo! My biggest worry was having to strip down. Fortunately we were able to just move my shirt aside to expose my shoulder (I thought ahead with that outfit choice!). We talked the whole time I was under the knife. Thank goodness for the numbing stuff because I didn't really feel anything until he put the stitches in. It was a little disconcerting to hear him say CANCER multiple times throughout the surgery, but he has a point .. better to remove precancerous cells than ignore it and actually develop something. So from this I get a new scar to add to my collection! Man Friend had to help me change the bandage this week, so he snapped a photo and counted ...4 stitches! 35 years old and I finally got some stitches. The pain part is gone, unless I bump it. Now it is just itching. I still have 2 weeks before I go back to have it looked at and the stitches removed... so for 2 more weeks I shall remind my mom and husband over and over how I had SURGERY!

And with that .... wear your sunscreen and don't ignore any spots, you never know!!! And also, if you do end up having your shoulder hacked into, Victoria's Secret has lovely racer-back bras available!

Exploring Neon in the Desert

Hello there! It's been a while, and so much is going on, so I thought I'd have a little flashback post to October in Las Vegas!

For this most recent trip to Vegas I wanted us to add in things we hadn't done before. The one thing that was on our MUST DO list was visiting the Neon Museum. I love all the lights on the strip, I love the history and nostalgia of old Vegas, I love a chance to see something "new" and take tons of photos... the Neon Museum met all of this desires!

We happened to be there on the 1 year anniversary of it's opening in the current location with the La Concha Motel lobby as the main hub. It totally reminds me of Men in Black, yes? no? Before the tour I wandered around taking photos off the less glamorous part of Las Vegas Boulevard. I recall things like bullet holes and bars over doors and windows of empty buildings. BUT they had the awesome Neon Museum sign that just summarizes all things I love about Vegas!

The gift shop had cut merchandise, which I ended up buying after our tour, and some videos and pictures talking about the history of the signs. We noticed that we were one of only a few Americans on the tour - so apparently Europeans like this kitschy history, too!

Right on time we were off on our tour through this open air museum in the desert. It might have been late October, for but for this Oregonian it got pretty toasty! Throughout the tour nearly everyone was sneaking a pause break in the shade of the neon signs.  

The signs were so cool. It was like stepping into the old vintage photographs I love to look at. Hotels with well-known names, small motels that have been gone for ages, wedding chapels... everything with a sign, we saw it! The tour weaves through the signs, pausing every few paces to give history, quiz you on your trivia knowledge (we did pretty awesome at it!), pointing out photo stops and answering questions. At a wedding chapel sign we were the only couple to raise their hands when asked if anyone had gotten married in Las Vegas! A bonus for the trivia was my knowing that I was married in the same place (new hotel, same location) as Elvis and Priscilla Presley!

It costs only $18 for the standard Neon Museum tour, $12 for those of us with military ID, and is really worth the value. I mean $18 for an hour of history and entertainment (well, I found it entertaining!) in Las Vegas? That's a win in my book! They also offer night tours where you can see some of the signs lit up as intended. For photography fans you can book time for photo shoots as well. I took an obscene number of photos and was able to do it without getting other people in the shots, so really you don't have to go out of your way to book something special if you are wanting to see it all and get pictures.

Our tour guide was great! He answered questions and had such passion for his job that it really rubbed off on all of us. I highly recommend stepping away from the heart of the Strip and visiting the museum next time you are in town!

Now a couple more photos and I'll send you on your way!

The R -- I made it a point to photograph every R I found! *And yes, I was risque with my see through shirt and animal print "bralette". Viva Las Vegas!

The hotel/casino with the biggest presence in the boneyard ... Stardust.

Looking back at one of the rows of signs.

The happy Las Vegas newlyweds!