Portland reunion


Sorry for the break in posting, after so many years of writing this blog, I’m afraid my material is wearing thin. ūüėČ

The boy has been traveling down to Portland a lot lately, so in an effort to actually see him, I decided to tag along. Susan was kind enough to watch the pups, so we drove them down to Salem, stopping briefly at my folks place so that my mom could meet Mr. Austin. (She loved him, especially since he tired out little lord Bingley… )

We stayed in a lovely room in the Deluxe. (Working remotely from a hotel room is weird.) It was fun to get to spend some time in Portland. I got to re-visit two of my favorite run routes. The bridge loop, which was beautiful even with the royal sampler of crazy weather it dumped on me (rain, wind, hail, sunshine, thunder and lightning.)

BridgeRun1 BridgeRun2And, of course, Forest Park was a must. It rained NON-STOP for the entire hour that I was there, but it was still beautiful:

FP-Collage FP-4 FP-3 FP-2I had hoped to get to ride up Mt. Tabor for old times sake, but I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to do that in the rain, so it didn’t happen. Another time. I did get a couple of swims in, so it was a pretty decent week, training-wise.

I also got to walk around the city, enjoying the random public art that is Portland’s trademark. I hadn’t had a chance to see this creepy gem:


And there may have been some shopping, because… you know… no sales tax. Stupid Keen store. It was too enticing.


There was also a fair amount of eating. We went to an old favorite:


To our astonishment, we didn’t have to wait at all. But we did end up sitting next to the worst person on earth, so there was a down-side. (Example: when one of our appetizers came, she talked at length about how disappointing and sub-standard it was, despite the fact that we were sitting right next to them. She’s lucky I was too busy eating to kick her ass… ) But the delicious food and cocktails mollified us:


I also got to try a really delicious food cart that I’d been hearing about:

FoodCartWe celebrated our 17th anniversary while we were there.¬†(I KNOW!!!) I even bought myself a cute new dress for the occasion. I’m fairly bad at the mirror selfie, but I rather liked how this one came out:

AnniversaryWe went to¬†Ox, a restaurant that we’d heard amazing things about. (It did not disappoint.) There was a bit of a wait, but there was the Nike Factory store just up the street, followed by their¬†nice little bar next door. I really loved the cocktail names on the menu. (I think it’s¬†obvious what my favorite one is):

OxCocktailsWe ended up sitting at the counter, which I’m normally not a fan of on special occasions, but it was fun. We got to watch them fire the meat entrees in¬†the giant wood-fired grill:

OxOvenPlus, we had a great conversation with another couple at the counter, which was fun. The food was magnificent:

OxFoodAnd on our way out on town on Saturday morning, we finally made it to Screen Door for brunch. Holy crap! We got breakfast hushpuppies:

ScreenDoor1And I stupidly ordered the fried chicken and waffle, forgetting where I was:

ScreenDoor2(The good news was that we didn’t really need to eat again until Tuesday.)

We spent the remainder of the weekend in Salem. We were supposed to do the Monster Cookie metric century that I did last year, but I called it due to pouring rain and my general wussiness. Instead, I went on a run with Susan and three out of the four dogs (Wally stayed home with T.) They got to be off-leash for the majority of it, which was great. Until Austin caught a little chipmunk/vole thing which was gross and traumatizing.

It was supposed to be a four mile¬†run, but in Susan-world that turned into¬†five and half, so things got a little bonky toward the end, (I forgot my standard “bring a gel” protocol for running with Susan) but we survived. Good thing this little killer is cute:


Then it was time to hit the road for the long drive home. I think that everyone had a good week, but were also happy to be home:




Oregon whirlwind


Back when I started setting up my training, I put a few events on my calendar to break up the monotony of training alone. I thought it would be nice to do a weekend down in Portland as one of those breaks. What I didn’t count on was how logistically difficult it would be to squeeze in time with both families, T trying to get some work done and all of the training I had on my plan.

Early start to the day. T was working all day, so we dropped Wally off at doggie daycare and I took the day off to hang out with my mom. I made her go to a tri store with me (birthday $ + sale price + no sales tax = new wetsuit for Vineman. Yay!) Afterward, we went to the Rebuilding Center ‚Äď this giant place where people bring stuff from their house when they remodel or tear things down. It has a little bit of everything and a lot of little things:


For example, an aisle of doorknobs:



My favorite was the shelf of toilet tank lids:

RC4It was a really interesting place to look around. I envy those people who can look at stuff like this and turn it into amazing things, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. My mom scored a couple of old oak drawers that she’s going to make into little shelving units to display some creche scenes, so I’m excited to see how that turns out.

We headed over to SE Portland where we had lunch, got some cupcakes for desert and poked around a couple of shops. Then we headed home to relax in the backyard sunshine with Bingley (aka the holy terror):


He’s a lap and guard dog in one!

Who, like all pugs, knows when he’s being made fun of:
Bingley2Todd eventually joined us after battling the Friday evening traffic. Lucky for him, we got to sit in some more to drive down to Salem. Yay!

Another early morning to get ready to ride. The dogs were still sleepy:

WallyBlueBlue is now Wally sized, but still a puppy:

WallyBlue2Originally, I’d planned to do a century up in Silverton, but it was a bit more catered (and expensive) than I needed. So, I was planning to do a mostly solo 100 miles down to Brownsville, the town my grandparents lived when I was a kid. Sarah and Susan joined me for the first leg of the ride, it was nice to have such… um… fashionable company:

RainbowBrightIt was a lovely day for a long ride. We even saw a baby llama:

babyLlamaAfter about an hour and a half, I bid farewell to my riding companions and continued on my way. There was a section of the ride called the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. I couldn’t figure out why they would possibly call it that:




At some point in here, a mini-van coming toward me stopped and asked “if I was part of the bike race.” Um, nope. Then I passed an intersection where some obvious volunteers were hanging out and chatting. I was clearly coming from a direction they didn’t expect, so they watched me pass without comment. Then another five minutes later, a pick-up truck pulled up next to me while I was refilling my water bottle/taking a picture and ask if I was in the triathlon. (There are so many things to love about that question.) So, should you ever contemplate doing the Albany Triathlon (my best guess as to where the race would be), the whole community is looking out for you!

Eventually, I made it to Brownsville. It was mostly unchanged, but they’ve kept the historic downtown section nice and clean. It’s still a cute little town. (Fun fact: they filmed the movie Stand By Me here back in the 80’s.)

BrownsvilleMedleyI was pleasantly surprised by how much I remembered. I was easily able to navigate the way from the park, (where we used to swim in the river) to my grandparent’s old house (now owned by white trash, complete with car on blocks.) Then it was time to hit the road again. And deal with the terrible scenery and copious amounts of traffic:


Scenery5The rest of the ride went without incident. Except for needing to pee and not having anything but open farmland and stupid towns that don’t have obvious restrooms, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the ride was going. I made it back to Salem just in time to shower and gather my wits for the BBQ Susan was having. When I came out to the backyard, Susan and T were testing out the¬†croquet¬†set up. Blue added a “miniature golf” quality to the game:

BlueCrocquetWe had a nice meal sitting in the sunshine. I was pleasantly tired from the days ride, but there was no rest for the weary. Time to head back up to Portland!

Today was supposed to be the Hagg Lake Open Water Swim. I wanted to practice the 2.4 mile swim in race-like conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well and we were too late getting out of my parents house. (It’s much further to get there from my parents’ house than our previous residence, so we completely mis-calculated how much time we needed.) I beat myself up about that for a little while, but it gave T a chance to visit a few more locations and finish up some work. Then a long drive back to Seattle. Whew!

Overall, it was a good visit but it was much more frantic and stressful than I wanted it to be. Hopefully, I can remember some lessons to make future visits go more smoothly.

The boy takes on the Portland Marathon


WARNING: This post is going to be very long. But there will be pictures. Many, many pictures.

The big day started very early. (It’s weird to not be the one with pre-race jitters. You sleep much better, but getting up at 0:dark:thirty is much harder… ) Susan was meeting at our hotel at 5:30, so we needed to be up at 5. We had prepped coffee in the room and had oatmeal fixings for breakfast. Susan and T made fun of my desire to document the pre-race experience, so I’m posting this silly picture of them. (Don’t poke the blogger!)

T went about his normal pre-run routine: eating, stretching, what-not. He seemed to have the nerves under control in the room, but all of us started to feel the pre-race energy as we walked downtown. More and more runners joined us on the sidewalk and we passed the start line:

Then what felt like fourteen other corrals (really it was closer to five.) I made us take a pre-race picture before we dropped T off at his corral:

Then it was good-bye to the Boy and off to stake out a spot toward the start line. There was a crazy amount of energy in the air as we waited for the start. Before too long, the wheelchair guys came flying by. Followed by the group that holds the marathon winners.

Then the 3-ish hour crowd:

We were nervous that T would be on the other side of the road and we wouldn’t be able to see him, but we lucked out and here he was:

And off we went! We had about 40-45 minutes to grab some coffee and walk over to the 4.5 mile mark a few blocks away. Luckily, Stumptown’s crappy customer service ate up a bunch of that time for us! ūüė¶ We did still have time to go to Voodoo donuts again. (There was a small line of marathon spectators, which I found hilarious.) By this point, we had to hustle down to the race course, but I was relieved to see one of the faster pace groups pass us. (Side note: munching on a donut while watching other people exert themselves is awesome.) As we waited, we’d¬†occasionally¬†see a spectating friend run alongside their marathoner. I teased Susan that she should do that to T, holding her donut. So, of course, she did! (Much to the amusement of the man standing next to us.) She ran alongside T, offering him a bite of donut. He declined and told her “Shoo! Get away!” which got big laughs.

Here’s Susan and the donut, posing in front of the course. (I love the “WTF?” look from the racers behind her… )

From here, our spectating duties got a bit more hard-core. We went back to the room, picked up our bikes and headed off to mile 12-ish. There was a nice big cheering section, so we locked up our bikes and joined it. T had estimated a time that he’d be coming through, but he was slightly ahead of his projection, so I didn’t manage to get a picture of him. He looked good, but I was worried that he’d taken the first section too fast and that the second half was going to be rough.

A combo of bike and the MAX light rail got us out to Mile 21. The train ran alongside the later miles of the race course, so we got to see the faster folks suffering. Even though there was no way it was possible, I was worried that we’d somehow miss T. (This spectating stuff is hard work!) As we found a good spot to cheer from, people were looking really rough. I was very worried that T was going to be one of them, but he came through looking awesome:

From here, we had one hour to get back to the finish line. I was hoping that we could drop our bikes off at the hotel first, so we had to hustle. Luckily, there was a nice straight route with a good bike lane, so we were able to make it to our hotel in just under half an hour. We then hurried over to the finish area, which turned out to be way more confusing than expected (even with the map provided in the race program.) We ended up squeezing through a fence and going around some barricades and were getting very stressed that we were going to miss him. Finally, we made it to a good spot near the finish line. It was crazy exciting. M and I were texting back and forth and I couldn’t wait to see him finish. Finally, Susan spotted him and I raised my camera to get a picture of him coming down the line:

Only to find that I’d hit the front camera button in my haste. <sad trombone> This is why M is our official race photographer. Luckily, the interwebz have me covered:

The only real complaint that I have about the race is how the finish area is designed. Both racers and spectators had a long walk to be able to meet up. (I’m fine with the long walk on my end, not so much for folks that have just run a marathon.) It wasn’t really clear where their area ended and the “reunion area” began. I didn’t want to miss T and we’d agreed to meet up in the reunion area, so we stood next to our lettered section waiting for him. Finally, we saw him hobbling in our direction, looking shell-shocked and overwhelmed. (I’m all too familiar with that feeling post-race.) But we gave him big sweaty hugs and tried to use confetti popper things that Susan had brought.

We picked up his bag and got him some water. Then made him take some finisher photos:

Susan offered to take some of T and I. There were a few technical difficulties:

(I can’t really throw stones… ) But I really liked this one:

But she got a good one eventually, which I promptly posted on Facebook:

We then parked T on a chair outside the Chipotle and got some lunch. I made him eat some tortilla chips and refilled his water. Then we hobbled the next block and a half to wait for the MAX again. When we finally made it back to the hotel, I filled one of our expo bags from the ice machine for the a post-race ice bath:

And since I have pictures of me and M in our post-race ice baths, I thought it only fair to include T:

We hung out in the room and had some lunch. Poor T wasn’t eating much, but he was drinking a protein shake and some water. Susan headed home and I prodded the boy into a little walk to keep him legs from getting too stiff. I got him a giant fountain Gatorade, some frozen yogurt and a sunny bench to sit on:

We had a few hours to relax before we met up with Luke for some dinner. Our room had a cute button on the phone that you could use to order pillows or pints of ice cream:

Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to have any new legs for T. ūüėČ But he was a trooper. We’d run into two guys in the lobby who were rocking their finisher shirts and medals, so I urged T to wear his to dinner. Which he did:

We got Luke to wait for an hour to eat at Screen Door, so T could celebrate his race with some guilt-free fried chicken:

There were also many cocktails. It was fun to catch up with Luke. The food (and cocktails) were delicious as always. It was a great way to end an epic day. It was tiring, but I’m so glad I got to sherpa T for his big race and ¬†pay back some of the support he’s given me over the years. He, M and J have set some pretty high standards for spectating and I didn’t even come close to their levels of awesomeness. Maybe by the time he qualifies for Boston… Mwuahahaha!


Pre-race hijinks: Portland Marathon countdown edition


At long last, the big weekend has arrived. The boy is doing a marathon! After this winter’s heartbreak, we’ve both been worried that injury would sideline him again. But he’s been very diligent with stretching and rolling and actually listening to his body for a change, so fingers crossed that will pay off on Sunday. We took the day off of work on Friday, so we could have a nice leisurely drive. We hit up a local bakery for breakfast sandwiches and T got us some breakfast dessert:

(Apparently, I’m sympathy carbo-loading!)

The drive down was unremarkable. And due to our large breakfast, we didn’t stop en route like we normally do. So, we could check out an amazing sandwich place in Portland that T had been hearing rave reviews about:

The place was classic Portland hipster:

But damn, they make some delicious sandwiches:

Should you find yourself in Portland, I highly recommend checking them out. It’s worth the hipster proximity. ūüėȬ†We then dropped the dog off at their¬†sleep-away¬†camp. Per usual, they ran off with not so much as a backward glance to play with their pals. (Ungrateful bastards… ) When we got to my parent’s house, we were greeted by full-sized Bingley:

These in-focus images give a false impression of Young Bingely. Most of my pictures of him look like this:

We talked my mom into coming to the race expo with us so that T could pick up his packet and we wouldn’t hav e to deal with it on Saturday. It was fun to expose her to the crazy world of endurance sports. Since we’d registered for this race way back in March, I forgot that I’d had a little fun with the “Name on Bib” field for Todd:

All hail The Todd! ūüėõ

We collected a bunch of free samples, tasted some gross nutrition products and saw some funny shirts at the expo. This one was my personal favorite:

If I didn’t already own a million running shirts, I’d have bought it.

A local running store was giving out free socks, so we stopped by. They had this creepy Prefontaine statue (who, as a Facebook friend pointed out, looks like Will Farrell playing Pre… ) and we got a group photo with it:

Afterward, my mom had the excellent suggestion of going to Voodoo Donuts. They’ve upgraded their location since we were there last, but the line remains the same:

But the new sign is awesome:

Afterward, we hung out at my parent’s house and enjoyed Bingley’s antics:

Give me that rock!

No! (pugs are so special… )

The next morning was nice and¬†leisurely. We hung out at my mom’s and then headed over to check into our hotel, the Hotel Deluxe. T had worked his work connections to get us a sweet room:

Which was good, because he was going to be grounded and resting for the rest of the day:

I walked around Portland (and noticed all of the marathoners who were not in their rooms resting.) The boy was allowed to come out for a brief trip to Whole Foods for dinner and breakfast supplies and then it was an evening of bad TV and an early bedtime. That alarm was going to be going off way too early tomorrow…



Cluck cluck!


After a few hours of chilling at our hotel post-race, we met up with our friend Luke for dinner at Screen Door. (I’ve been planning to reward myself with their fried chicken if I made it through the race for about a month.) In the past, I’ve had issues post-race with my stomach being nauseous and feeling terrible, so it’s a testament to my improved nutrition plan that I finished this one feeling relatively okay. I still stuck with liquids (including a Mexican Coke generously relinquished by my mom) and watermelon for the first couple of hours post-race. Some of which may or may not have been consumed in a jacuzzi tup watching TV…

Anyway, I donned my super-sexy compression sleeves to accessorize my otherwise appropriate dinner attire and we hobbled off to dinner. (I love Portland because no one batted an eye at my strange attire, except for another diner who asked how my race went… ) We got a seat on the outdoor patio and I ordered my first Manhattan in about 14 years.

Yum! When M & I had been at Screen Door last winter, we’d sat at the bar and watched them crank out a million of these. I swore I’d try one next time I was here and voila! Apparently, they’re the hot drink right now. Who knew? Plus, it’s nice to have a non-frilly drink in my arsenal… And then of course, the star attraction:

(Apparently, I was too hungry/excited to get a picture that was in focus… ) I’ll confess I only made it through about a third of it before the stomach cried uncle, but it would make for delicious leftovers. We bid Luke adieu and headed home for some much needed sleep. And another soak in the jacuzzi tub.

But our Portland indulgences were not done. As part of the morning errands we had to take care of before we could head home, I had one more piece of decadence on my list. A trip to Pine State Biscuits:

This place opened just as we were leaving Portland and I’ve been meaning to visit for years, having heard wonderful things about it. Ordinarily, I can’t resist the siren song of Jam, but luckily this place was much closer to our hotel. And because I could, I went for the Reggie Deluxe:

That’s right, more fried chicken. On a biscuit. With bacon, egg, cheese and gravy. So much Southern-ness in one place. (My sister-in-law joked that they needed to serve it on top of grits… ) It was delicious (duh) but definitely not an every day indulgence. (But an excellent motivation to get out and train!) All in all, it was a very successful trip to Portland…


Poor boy…


Part of today’s workout agenda was a short run in my parent’s neighborhood. The boy was planning to join me for part of it and then run a bit more on his own. But some swearing from the family room told me the plan might be in jeopardy. I came in to find T angrily holding up his running shoes. Or rather, one of his running shoes and a second different older running shoe that he’d been using as a “walking around” shoe.

Since he was very clearly upset about it, I tried really, really hard not to laugh. And failed. So, I tried to laugh quietly. (The part that made it impossible not to laugh is the fact that this is the third time T has either forgotten his shoes, or their insoles or some variation thereof.) Then my mom came into the conversation and tried to come up with logical ways this could have happened (“Was it dark? Was it early in the morning?”) The problem was, none of these were the case, so the funnier it became. Poor T…

But he sucked it up, and wore the mis-matched shoes on our run. Here he is, ready to rock and roll:

Just in case you’re feeling sad for poor T getting mocked on my blog, we went and got him some new running shoes later in the evening. (He badly needed them and there’s no sales tax in Oregon, which is like getting an extra 10% off… ) So, here are some happier pictures of T:

Adventures in badassery


My friend M is currently doing her version of the Ironman. She’s getting a beautiful half-sleeve tattoo from an amazing artist down in Portland. It’s a design that involves three to four different visits, so we’re taking turns keeping her company. Visit number one was a few weeks ago and was J’s turn. I was pleased to go along for visit number two, it’s been a while since we’ve had a good old-fashioned girl’s road trip. My primary function was going to be to entertain M for the hours she had to sit in the chair, so there was much joking that we shouldn’t talk on the drive down lest we used up all of our conversational topics, but naturally that didn’t happen…

The appointment was on a Saturday evening, so we planned to stay the night and then drive home in the morning. M had booked a room at the Kennedy School, which was the perfect low-key place to stay in Portland and I’d always wanted to stay there but had never had occasion. We got into town a few hours before her appointment, so we dropped our bags off at the room and rested for a little while. We were in the “Crooked Room” which featured the nursery rhyme about “the crooked man who ran a crooked mile, etc.) It was the perfect room for some Hipstamatic action:


The tattoo shop was in my old SE Portland neighborhood, so we headed over to grab some food and peruse a few stores. We picked up some fish-shaped sandwiches at No Fish Go Fish (who should really consider a Seattle location, just sayin’… ) Then it was time for the big dance. M was getting nervous because her last session hadn’t hurt nearly as much as expected and maybe this one was the one that was going to. The tattoo shop was amazingly rad:

There was interesting artwork and little collections of objects grouped together on the walls. There were even wood-burned designs on the side of the entry-way’s counter:

It was a very interesting, creative space. Clae, that tattoo artist was very different than I’d expected. He was very laid-back and calm (both excellent qualities in a tattoo artist) but M & J had described him as quiet and focused on the job at hand. Maybe it was the heady combo of M and I, but he was very chatty and playful. It was amazing to watch him work. I couldn’t draw/shade half as well on a flat piece of paper with a pencil, let alone with flowing ink on someone’s arm!

Here’s M pretending to be terrified, while we waited for Clae to get set-up:

Clae at work:

And contrary to her fears, this session hurt even less than the last, so M is either the world’s biggest bad-ass or Clae is just that talented. (Probably both.) Tattooing is an art-form I hadn’t given much thought about, so it was amazing to get to watch the process. I still don’t want one, but I was glad to be part of the journey for M.

Afterward, we grabbed some dinner nearby and then crashed back at the hotel. The next morning, I had to capture a few more shots of the Kennedy School, especially the empty hallway outside the movie theatre:

There was a mason jar in our room that we could have filled with beer for a reasonable fee, so we thought it would be nice to bring the boys back some McMenamins beer. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the world’s slowest waitress helping us, so the jar ended up taking twenty minutes to get filled. (We dubbed it “the World’s Greatest Beer” and vowed that the boys would love and appreciate every sip.) It made this sign over the bar particularly appropriate:

Though both M & I have zero tolerance for idiots, somehow when we encounter them together it becomes hilarious more than infuriating. Had either of us been there with a husband, we’d probably be raving all the way to the car about throwing the mason jar across the bar, but instead we were laughing about the idiocy of the situation and calculating the cost of the beer based on our hourly rates. It’s sort of like two negatives making a positive (look at me, using a mathematical analogy. It must be the effects of sleeping in a former elementary school… ) And just like that, it was time to hit the road home to Seattle.