Nice lazy Sunday…

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We’ve been having some crazy weather lately, colder than usual with rain, sun and sometimes hail alternating over the course of the day. I had a bike ride scheduled, but spent my morning on the couch watching really bad T.V. (courtesy of VH1) and surfing the web, while T. and the boys (Wally, Smokey Joe and George) slept in. Finally the sun broke through around 1, so I hustled into my biking clothes and out the door.

I’ve got training camp coming up and I’ve seriously been neglecting my bike for the last few weeks (having crappy weather makes it very hard to motivate riding – I can ride my trainer indoors, but that’s boring and hard to motivate for different reasons… ) So between weather and being sick, I hadn’t ridden since I did my awesome ride in Seattle – which was three weeks ago. So, I set out to do an hour of hill-climbing at Mt. Tabor, which is only a few miles from my house. Mt Tabor is a small volcanic “mountain” in the middle of Southeast Portland. It has a dog park, some nice trails, a reservoir and a few roads that wind up the mountain with a range of steepness and not too many cars, so it’s great for hill repeats.

Last year, I would try to do this workout at least once a week, and it really helped my climbing. The first time I did it, I could only do one ‘repeat’ and had to stop a few times to rest. By the end of the summer, I was up to three or four with no rest-stops. Because I’ve done it so many times, I think of the hill in three parts – the first part winds into the park and passes the dog park – it’s not too steep and is a nice way to ease into the climb, the second part is ridiculously steep and straight – so it’s just you and the road and your heavy breathing (this part was where I’d usually require a rest-stop) and then the third section has a little flat part and a nice gentle slope up to an overlook loop, where there are always tons of people walking their dogs, playing with their kids or just sitting on a bench and looking out at the city. This is my favorite part of the climb because I can recover a bit and it’s really beautiful.

Today, I took the first section way too hard and had to stop for a moment because I was couldn’t catch my breath and was getting dizzy. But once I got going again, I did the rest of the climb and a second repeat without stopping or incident and was really proud of myself. The weather was getting darker and cloudier and as I was headed back down the hill it started to rain, so I decided against the third repeat and start heading home. The rain really started coming down and was freezing cold. The frozen drops against my face actually gave me an ice-cream headache! Luckily, the rain didn’t last too long, nor did I have very far to ride home – but I was still quite cold and happy to be done with my ride.

After a nice hot shower it was back to the couch for more lounging/bad T.V. watching and web surfing. Ahhhh, Sundays…

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SICK!

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So, as predicted I got T’s cold and what took him two days to get over has taken me a week and counting. GRRRRR! Luckily, I have terrible television and this blog to keep me company. Lucky you guys!

Happy Easter!

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So on Sunday, we went over to visit my parents and celebrate Easter, which to my family pretty much means we have ham for dinner. (Mind you, when I was a kid, we did the whole Easter-shebang: baskets, church, crazy Easter-egg hunts where my dad would hide eggs in places like the ventilation system and the bottom of a jar of peanut butter… ) But since we don’t have kids (as my mother frequently likes to mournfully point out) and there’s only so much Easter candy I’m allowing into the house, the celebration has mellowed.

My parents live in Oregon City, which is about 20 minutes away from Portland, but feels much further. A neighbor on one side of their house collects antique tractors, and on the other side has 20-30 ducks. But it’s nice and quiet and our dogs LOVE to romp around the giant backyard. So, we had a nice day of visiting with the parents, letting the dogs run around and lots of yummy food.

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My parents have a little pug named Jasmine, who is simultaneously attracted to and terrified of our dogs, particularly Wally. So she tends to just follow them around the house and then cower if they pay any attention to her. Todd likes to torment her and wind her up, as seen below.

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As we were getting ready to leave, she co-opted one of the toys that we’d brought to throw in the backyard and carried it around which was pretty freakin’ cute. Especially since I think it weighs about as much as she does!

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Poor T.

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T. is sick, which is a real rarity, as he has the immune system of a viking. But at least he doesn’t have to worry about being cold, because he has Wally…

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(please avert your eyes from the messy house… )

While I was taking the picture, Smokey Joe decided to help me with my composition, so here’s his contribution…

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Such good dogs…

I heart drawbridges

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I don’t know why, but I do. Perhaps it’s because the other cities I’ve lived in only have giant bridges. Portland has tons of them – the one above is the Burnside Bridge, taken from my phone on my lunchtime run today. There’s just something about seeing the street up in the air, lampposts all askew that just tickles me.

The Shamrock run

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This year I took on the Shamrock run’s 15K option. (For those that are metrically impaired – that’s 9.3 miles.) This is the longest stand-alone running race I’ve ever done, and the longest run this year. But since last year I did the 8K Shamrock runs and was barely able to handle that distance, I’m psyched to be at a place where I can contemplate running just over 9 miles.

We left a little later than we wanted to, and then had stupidness at our usual parking garage (the machine ran out of tickets – wtf?) and so it was a little crazed getting to the start line. T. was doing the 8K, which started about half an hour later, so he took on parking the car so that I could get to the race start. Naturally, the port-o-potty line is crazy long, so I had to forego that. (Luckily, I went right before we left the house, so it wasn’t an emergency or anything… ) I stretched a little bit, and fiddled with the Nike+ thing I got for my Nano (yes, I’m one of those people who races with an i-pod, but only when it’s allowed by the race rules.) and before I knew it, it was time to line up. There were tons of people, so it took forever from the horn going off before we were actually able to start running, but eventually we were off.

I found two women that were running a nice slow pace and stuck with them for the first few miles. Amazingly, they stayed at a consistent pace, which is a novelty in the first miles of a race. After mile two, we wound around onto Terwilliger where I looked ahead to see the runners ahead of me at a pretty noticeable diagonal. Hmmmm, that’s quite a hill we’re going to have to go up. I was suddenly glad I hadn’t looked at the course beforehand, because it was really hilly in the middle three miles. When it got steep, I just walked as quickly as I could and ran when I got to the downhills or flats. (I LOVE running downhill, it’s my one chance to just relax my legs and go fast with gravity’s assistance – it’s awesome!)

Around mile six, we got to an overlook where they had a band of bagpipers playing, which was awesome. One of the runner’s asked me if I thought we were done with the hills and I didn’t have the heart to say that I didn’t think so, so I told her I didn’t know. (We weren’t) The weather was perfect, overcast, not rainy and not too cold. Eventually, we made it back to a nice gentle downhill for the last three miles of the race, where I was able to run pretty much the whole way. I’d stop to get water from the aid stations and take a Gu, but otherwise was able to keep running.

At mile 8, T. was waiting for me, having blasted through his 8k in 40 minutes (fast bastard!) So he ran the last mile and change with me. It was nice having someone to talk to, especially since I didn’t have to do a lot of the talking. As we approached the finish line, he started teasing me about passing the two women that were ahead of us, which at first I was totally dismissive of, but then as we got closer I realized I was slowly gaining on them, so I did pick up the pace a bit. I ran as fast as I could for the last little stretch, passed both women and was afraid that I might fall down it hurt so much. Luckily, I didn’t and got to the finish line at around the 1 hour and 50 minute mark, which was pretty close to what I wanted to do. I was aiming to go faster then 12 minute miles and I accomplished that. (12 min. miles was the pace I’d done the 8K in last year, so going faster than that for nearly twice the distance was really significant to me.)

Today also marked the season’s first ice bath. (exactly like it sounds – you sit in a bathtub with cold water and a bag of ice, it stimulates the blood flow in your legs and keeps things from swelling and getting sore.) They suck, but are so effective. And then I spent the rest of the day lounging around and reminding T. of how far I’d run that day. Hey, you’ve got to take the perks where you get them…

Because nobody believed me…

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(Apologies for the crappy photo, I took it with my phone.)

I saw this during an earlier visit to Target but when I talked about it’s existence, was summarily not believed and mocked by T. & my friend M, but here it is in all of it’s glory – the cat wheel. Now, no cat I’ve EVER met would use this thing, so I’m not sure what they did to get those cats to sit on the thing. The fact that they had to put a cat bed in it speaks volumes…