Monday, August 31, 2015

Hood To Coast Relay 2015

Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from my sister who wanted to know if I'd be able to fill a last-minute spot on her Hood to Coast team. To say I jumped at the chance would be an understatement. I knew it would fit in to my Air Force Half Marathon training plan really well—that race is in 3-weeks so this would be an excellent mileage sub for my long-run day. Hood to Coast is a 198-mile relay from Mount Hood, Oregon to the coast at Seaside, Oregon that is made up of teams of 12-runners. Each runner has three legs that average between 5-7 miles per leg. It sounded spectacular—I accepted immediately and landed myself a spot on Barefoot Wine's company team "Foot Patrol: Running with Sole."

I flew out and joined the team Thursday evening—on my birthday—and we all got together for some delicious pre-race carb-loading at Almafi's in Portland, Oregon. I devoured an entire calzone and got totally spoiled with a big birthday cake and candles—as well as singing, of course—by this new group of people who I had never met before. They were all so nice! After dinner, we hit the sack early since we knew we had an early start and a long two days ahead of us.

Our team's first van began running the next morning at 8:00 am. I was in van 2, so our runners weren't set to begin for a couple hours. We enjoyed a leisurely morning and home-cooked breakfast at one of the team member's houses and departed with our six runners to our starting checkpoint in Sandy, Oregon.

By this time, we were about 30-minutes ahead of schedule. We joined up with van 1 and began our legs, sweating our buns off in the hot Oregon sun. I began running my first leg, leg 8, around 11:30 am. It was a warm afternoon and I'm so used to running at 5:00 am in the cool, crisp air, so this was very different for me! I ended up passing 40 teams (we call those "road kills!") and finished my leg with a 6:30/mile average.

After my leg, I munched on Clif bars and fought off nausea (I think I overdid my first leg) as we drove the rest of our van's legs. My sister rocked hers! After our runners finished, we had a couple hours to "rest" before departing for our next checkpoint. We took quick showers and tried to lay down, but we were all dreading our second legs (we knew it was going to begin raining soon) and weren't able to get any sleep. We headed off for our second legs around 7:30 pm—ready for the "fun" to begin again!

I began my second "very hard" leg, which was an uphill/gravel trek, around 11:30 pm. It was pouring rain at this point and the road was so dusty with all the cars driving past. I had expected a crazy-intense leg, but compared to my uphill leg at Sawtooth Relay, this one was nothing. I cruised through it with a pace of 7:30/mile and finished soaking wet, covered in dust, and on a huge runner's high. I don't ever get to run in conditions like that—it felt hardcore!

We all enjoyed our nighttime second legs and seemed to run super-fast, despite the pouring rain, and were able to get in a one-hour power nap at one of our team member's homes in Astoria, Oregon. We were lucky and so fortunate to be able to squeeze in that bit of rest! We woke up to hurricane-like winds and headed off to our third legs around 7:30 am. I was running again by about 9:00 am, running straight into 70 mile per hour winds over the course of five miles. A giant tree was blown over right in front of me, coming just inches from smashing down on a walker. She and I were so lucky we didn't get hurt (or killed!). I battled the drenching rain and wind for the duration of my leg and can't even believe I was able to come in with a 6:45/mile pace. There were so many times that I didn't even think I was moving forward because the wind was blowing so hard!

We all suffered through the torrential rain and tempest winds for the rest of the run, finishing in Seaside about an hour ahead of our predicted schedule. We were so glad it was over! All in all, we endured 29 hours of running, 40 hours of being awake (with a 1-hour nap in between!), and totaled 12 runners, 2 drivers and mini-vans, 3 running legs each, 15 miles ran (my total—each leg was different), 103 personal road kills, 8,000,000 drops of rain, 70 mile per hour winds, 50 Clif bars (I don't want any more bars... ever!), and finished 383rd place of 880. It was so worth every single minute.

There was supposed to be a rockin' tent city beach party afterward, but the wind literally blew it away. The beach was destroyed so we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Shilo Inn (I had a seafood feast!) and Marnie and I crashed hard on our pillows at approximately 9:48 pm. We just couldn't make it one more minute.

The entire weekend went so fast, was so fun, and just was filled with hilarious and unforgettable stories. I'd honestly write more, but this post is long enough as it is! See some photos of the race below, with stories and little bits and pieces of the day with each!

Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team
Toasting to team Foot Patrol at Almafi's in Portland. This team went above and beyond, bringing me out a cake and singing to me on my birthday! They sure helped me celebrate turning 29!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team
The van was decorated and it was time to head to our first checkpoint!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team
Foot Patrol: Running with Sole. Van 2 was ready!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Leg 8/20/32, Hood to Coast Jump, Jumping Photo
My sister and I were getting excited before my first leg!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Leg 8, Hood to Coast Runner
Turning the corner to finish out my first leg. I was so hot, sweaty and ready to be finished!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Leg 8, Hood to Coast Runner
Finishing up with my first leg, leg 8, averaging 6:30/mile.
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Leg 8, Hood to Coast Runner
Stoked to have gotten 40 road kills. I felt great and was ready for some food and relaxation before my next leg!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Leg 32, Hood to Coast Runner
Handing off on my last leg. We missed a photo during my 2nd leg because it was, well, midnight.
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Leg 32, Hood to Coast Runner
I wish I could describe the true condition of the weather at this moment. It was 70 mile per hour wind, pounding rain, and hundreds of soaking wet runners! I finished my 3rd leg with a 6:45/mile average and couldn't have been happier to be completely done!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015
This has got to be one of the coolest bibs and medals I'll ever add to my collection.
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Sisters run Hood to Coast
Marn and I were all smiles post-race. We knew what was coming next—a hot shower and some much-needed grub (which took the form of a giant Tillamook double-scoop waffle cone, I might add)!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Hood to Coast Wind Storm 2015
The "beach party" before the rain rolled in. I wish you could see the true state of the disaster. There were porta-potties strewn about the beach, SWAG and product everywhere, pieces of tents blowing around... it was a mess. However, all runners, despite weather conditions, seem to still know how to strike up a post-race party—and this day was no exception!
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team
Barefoot's Team Foot Patrol: Running with Sole
Hood to Coast Relay 2015, Barefoot Foot Patrol Team, Sisters run Hood to Coast, Hood to Coast Wind Storm 2015
Marnie and I had to get our finish line photo (the day after, of course) when we were finally allowed back on the beach!

My biggest take-a-way from the whole trip was not my road kills—though 103 is pretty rockin', right?—my leg paces, the sweet SWAG (oh, and there was so much free swag—schwing!!), or even the food... and you know how I love food. The best part of the whole weekend was spending it with a group of entirely new people and having them totally welcome me right in. Sure, they may be Marnie's colleagues, but gosh—they were real friends. Everyone was so nice, sweet, helpful and genuine. It was such a pleasure to meet such awesome folks and to get to spend an entire weekend with them. I was grateful for all of their hospitality and for being invited to participate with them in such a big event. Thanks, Barefoot! You guys totally spoiled me and treated me to a fantastic, unforgettable weekend.

And to my sister—gosh, I love you. We have never been able to do something like this together, and I hope this isn't the last time. What an experience! And trust me—you are a runner! I was so impressed with your drive and determination this weekend. You crushed it, sis!

We survived the Hood To Coast Wind Storm 2015! Yeah buddy! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

twenty-nine.


Twenty-nine. It sounds surreal. Every year I'm shocked by how fast the time goes. This year, it's not so much of a "not wanting to get older" feeling as much as it's a "I don't feel like I should be 29 yet."

It's interesting—a few weeks ago, I attended my 10-year high school reunion. While it was so good to catch up with old friends, see faces I hadn't seen in umpteen years, and look back on some of our best memories—what struck me the hardest was how different the paths we've all taken have been. Some of my best friends have already been married for almost 10 years and have multiple children. Most have had at least one or are expecting, and the rest seemed to be single with well-to-do jobs.

For some reason, even though I know I couldn't even add one more thing onto my plate with my job at the hospital, everything I've got going on with the Air National Guard, finding a love for competitive running, volunteering for three different organizations and I-could-keep-going-but-I'll-stop-here-and-just-say "everything-else," I still feel behind... like the world is spinning faster than me... like I'm living this crazy-awesome life, but it's not necessarily what I'm supposed to be doing... like I should be a mom by now. Am I alone?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's the birthday cards that are stacking up (thank you all, by the way!), maybe it's just this season. But I just don't feel ready for another year. Not yet. I want to go back and do 27 all over again. Or just stay that age forever... either way.

They say that "no time is the perfect time" and that if you want something, you can't just sit around and wait for everything to be in place to make it happen. You just have to do it. In this case, I'm not necessarily thinking anything big—wish-wise—for my birthday this year. I am just going to go where God's leading me. Because no matter what path I think I should be on, He's going to direct me to the right path.


Now that I've gotten my sappy-reflect-on-the-last-year-and-look-toward-the-future thoughts out of the way, I should note that I have an amazing family and they helped me celebrate the big 2-9 a couple days early. We feasted at Joe's Crab Shack (I ordered my first big crab pot all to myself!), and Daniel and I finished out the night with a cozy movie and a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (and popcorn—always popcorn—which was layered with caramel, Nesquick, marshmallows, chocolate chips and Captain Crunch... just for the record).

For my actual birthday—today!—I'm heading to Oregon for the Hood to Coast relay to run with my sister and her work team. My sis is also celebrating her birthday next week, so we're turning it into a big race/birthday/celebration/get-out-of-town-and-let-your-hair-down weekend.

You know, life is awesome. Here's to approaching this next year with positivity, spontaneity, and a bright, bubbly attitude. Bring it on, 29!

Past birthday posts: twenty-sixtwenty-seven│ twenty-eight

Monday, August 10, 2015

Train Hard, Run Fast

Aunie Sauce Fitness, Healthy Living Blogger, Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Programs, Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide BBG, Competitive Running Program

It's no secret that running & fitness have become a major staple in my life. It's turned from a way to stay healthy into a hobby that I put a lot of energy and experimentation into—finding out what works best for me and produces the greatest return. With several recent competitive races under my belt and times that are dropping with each race (I took 16-minutes off my half marathon personal best time in less than 4-months—going from 1:33:09 down to 1:17:23), I've been getting a lot of questions about what training plan I'm following and how I'm achieving these results. In an effort to be as up-to-date and helpful as possible, I'll try to give as much detail as I can!

I'm still following the same plan I was using back in May, which included the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Program for running and the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (BBG) for strength training. I've tweaked the programs slightly—increasing the times and intensity of my workouts—but nothing drastic.

Here's a breakdown of my current plan, which I have scheduled out for the duration of 2015.

Aunie Sauce Fitness, Healthy Living Blogger, Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Programs, Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide BBG, Competitive Running Program

Here's a further breakdown of this plan to include more detail:

Half Marathon Training & Running:
  • Overview: I'm following a modified version of Hal Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon Training Program. While his program calls for 6-days of running a week, I find that if I overtrain to that extent, I injure easily—so I revised his program. I simply pulled his Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday run schedule and put it into my plan. I figured that it included a speed day (speed, sprints or hills), a tempo day, and a long run. 
    • Tuesday Run Days: I do the listed speed workout, performing the intervals at a 6:00/mile pace (which I aim for as a "race pace"). So if it's 400 repeats, each speed lap is run at 1:30. If it's hill repeats, I pick a roughly quarter-mile hill and sprint up it for 1:30. If it's 1600 repeats, I run each mile with a goal of a 6:00/mile. 
      • No matter what the speed interval is for the day, I aim to run for 60-minutes. It typically ends up being about a 30-minute workout, so I tack on a 15-minute warm-up and cool-down to achieve the full 60-minutes.
    • Thursday Run Days
      • I like Thursdays because whether I perform the suggested tempo run or instead to run based on how I feel that day, it typically ends up being a relatively quick pace. Tempo runs start you out with a jog for the first 1/4, build to a decent speed for the middle 1/2, and slow you down to a recovery jog for the last 1/4.
      • Some days my body doesn't feel up to a tempo run (since the middle 1/2 is usually pretty fast), so I'll just run at whatever pace feels good that day. Sometimes it's a 10:00/mile, other times it's a 7:00/mile.
        • I always run the suggested time he lists, though if I have extra time left over until I reach the full 60-minutes of my desired run time, I'll do a little extra recovery jog and/or walk at the end.
    • Sunday Run Days:
      • While I typically go for my long runs on Sundays before church, I do interchange them with Saturdays on occasion. With the Advanced Half program, the long runs don't specify a distance to run, they only specify how long to run, so the length of my long runs vary based on my pace for the day. 
      • If I'm feeling on or if the schedule calls for it, it will be a faster run, usually under 8:00/mile pace. If I'm just running to get the long run over with and don't feel on point that day, it will typically be a slower run, averaging 9:00-10:00/miles. 

Bikini Body Guide & Strength Training:
  • Overview: I'm currently on BBG 2.0, Kayla's second 12-week workout series. I saw great results from BBG 1.0, and continue to see increased strength and decreased body fat as I make my way through BBG 2.0. Once I finish with this guide, I plan on going back and starting BBG 1.0 again. 
    • Strength Days: Kayla's workouts are typically 28-minutes long from start to finish if you do not rest in between. I always perform a 15-minute warm-up and 15-minute cool down. Sometimes I will do them on the treadmill, other times I'll go outside for a quick walk around the block. 
      • Occasionally I'll also throw in a couple additional weighted strength exercises at the end of my workout if it's a body part I'm working on and didn't feel like it was integrated very much that day (i.e. deadlifts on lower body day or bicep curls on upper body day). 
      • As I am doing the BBG with my running training, I often have days where I'm sore from either the strength training or the running (like after race days or long runs). I do modify exercises in the BBG based on how my body feels. For instance, I don't do bench jumps or anything leg-related a couple days before a race. Likewise, I typically am unable to do things like squats or plyos for a few days after a race as my body is just too tired and sore. It happens. 
    • Challenge Days: One difference from BBG 1.0 to BBG 2.0 is that 2.0 often has full-body or Challenge Saturday workouts, whereas 1.0 only had workouts on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I try to fit these Challenge or full-body workouts in, but don't always succeed. I really enjoy doing them, so if I am unable to do them, I'll often tack the Challenges on to a regular strength day (like core day) or fit them in after a run. 
    • Cross Training Days: On the Saturdays where a Challenge or additional workout is not listed, I'll take it easy and opt for more of an "active rest" day. This usually involves a bike ride, rowing session at the gym, walk around the neighborhood, etc. Some days it's just a simple foam rolling & stretching session. It doesn't really matter, as long as I move a little bit that day. 

Lunch Break Walks:
  • Overview: Whether I get in my workout or not, I try to aim for a 20-30 minute lunch break walk each day at work. I typically eat lunch at my desk, working while I eat, and take my "lunch" sometime in the afternoon. Not only does it get me out of the office and away from my desk, but it helps clear my head, reduces my stress, and slightly elevates my heart rate. Its just the active rest I need during the day to re-fuel my tank.

While this feels like a super-specific breakdown of my training and—to be honest—probably seems a little over the top, I'm hoping it will help answer some of the more workout specific questions that might come up. People often want to know how I balance getting these workouts in with my free & professional time, and this is it. For me, it's all about moderation. If it feels good that day—I'm all in. If it hurts—no way, baby—rest is a good thing. And hey, sometimes fitting in that day's training may mean getting up at 4:00 am to be on the road running by 4:20. For me—it's worth it.

I'm super open about this topic & love to talk about it. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments below. I'm not a certified personal trainer or dietitian, so I can't give specific advice, but I'm happy to answer questions based on my own personal experience.

Train Hard. Run Fast.

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Fitness Instagram @auniefit │ Garmin Connect

Monday, August 3, 2015

The 4th on Whidbey

Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip

True story, we visited Whidbey Island for the 4th of JULY, and I thought that now would be a great time to share a couple photos from the trip. I've documented our 4th of July adventures for the last three years on this blog (2012, 2013, 2014)—so I couldn't pass over this one—and now is as good of a time to share it as ever!

If you click on the links above, we've been alternating years between McCall and Seattle/Whidbey, and being that this year was the 100th annual Maxwelton Day Parade on Whidbey—we stuck to tradition and just couldn't miss it.

We drove over to Seattle on the 1st, spending time with my sister, her husband, and my grandma on Wednesday and Thursday. We ate fish 'n chips at Ivars, overlooked the water over fine dining at Anthony's, sipped a cocktail and made Smore's at The Shelter, ate a huge plate of eggs & chorizo at La Carta De Oaxaca, enjoyed a couple meals with my grandma, and shoot—we even went to the Woodland Park Zoo. And that was in a day and a half, folks.

By the time we got up to Whidbey, we were ready for beach walks, sun, and more food—of course. We went to my number one all-time-favorite pizza joint in Langley, Village Pizzeria, and ordered none other than the infamous Pesto Pizza. Similarly to how Daniel raves over Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins, Village Pizzeria is like my place.

Whidbey Island is my favorite spot to visit. It was like my second home growing up—so many memories were made there. On the 4th, we enjoyed time with family, watched the Maxwelton Day Parade, I played in the post-parade games and won the little race they have (it's like a 50 meter sprint—ha—and I've won it every year I've gone back since I was a little kid!), and ate tons of delicious food. We snuck in a beach walk before the parade, and while I didn't find any whopper agates, it was more about spending time with family anyway.

Similarly to our Wyoming trip, I was rather unplugged and didn't bring my camera or phone with me anywhere. Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, who hooked me up with these photos!

Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip, 4th of July Maxwelton Day Parade
Hanging out at the Maxwelton Day Parade.
Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip, 4th of July Maxwelton Day Parade
Some of the fam, catching rays & doing lots of people-watching.
Whidbey Island Washington, Langley Washington, Village Pizzeria, Village Pizzeria Pesto Pizza
The BEST pizza EVER—the Neapolitan Pesto Pizza. Mine is the one with the pesto spread all over so I could make sure to get a good amount in with every single bite.
Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip
We LOVE exploring on the beach.
Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip
Rex, my sister's pup, chillin' on the beach.
Whidbey Island Washington, Maxwelton Beach, Seattle Road Trip

This year's Washington trip was short & sweet. I'm so glad we got to spend time with my family. I wish I'd have gotten a couple photos with my grandparents. Each and every trip is so special, so cherished. We'll be back sooner than later, anyway, so this is my mental note for next time! Whidbey—until we meet again...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wyoming Road Trip

Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins

This last week, Daniel and I packed up the car and headed somewhere I've never been—Cheyenne, Wyoming. While Cheyenne might not seem like a typical "destination" trip, it was sure a vacation for us! Daniel lived in Cheyenne for several years and had long-awaited showing me his hometown and introducing me to his childhood friends.

We left Wednesday morning and drove the 10 ½ hours across Idaho, Utah and Wyoming to reach our destination. Our first stop was the gym at F.E. Warren Air Force Base—after that many hours of driving, our legs were in need of a good workout. We then headed to meet some of Daniel's friends—all of whom were amazing and so friendly—before heading off to Cheyenne Frontier Days and none other than Aerosmith! We had great seats and totally jammed out—my favorite songs were "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and "Sweet Emotion." It was definitely an experience, that's for sure!

The next day, we enjoyed huge meals at the Tortilla Factory, which is renowned for their Mexican chorizo & eggs breakfast. We decided that it would also be fun to venture down to Fort Collins, Colorado, so we jumped in the car and made the short drive across the border. We walked around Old Town Fort Collins, stopped in at all the boutiques, sampled fudge, ate Walrus Ice CreamBEST ICE CREAM EVER!—and sipped a cocktail at Social. My only Fort Collins regret was not picking up a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with peanut butter icing from Mary's Mountain Cookies. BIG. MISTAKE. I tell you.

After returning back to the house Thursday evening, we grabbed a couple of bikes and toured around downtown Cheyenne as the sun was setting. The town felt like a ghost town—it was totally empty, probably due to everyone being at Frontier Days—but it was so unlike Boise! After biking for a while and realizing our extreme hunger, we ended up at the Rib & Chop House, which was probably my favorite place to eat on our entire trip. I enjoyed a HUGE pulled pork stuffed potato and a cup of gumbo as well as a mountain of a brownie sundae.

Friday, our last day, was filled with some much-needed relaxation. We again went to the Tortilla Factory for breakfast, stopped by Eileen's Colossal Cookies—which totally made up for not going to Mary's Mountain Cookies—because these ones were SO GOOD. I picked a frosted sugar cookie but also tried the oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and scotchies. I also learned how to ride a scooter (while Daniel schooled me on a Yamaha), and again visited the Chop House for a killer dinner. This time I got a bowl of gumbo (because a cup just wouldn't cut it!) and the hot apple cobbler à la mode for dessert. Again... best meal. Our trip wouldn't be complete without another trip to Frontier Days to wander through the carnival, munch on a funnel cake (you bet I did!), and do a decent amount of people watching.

Looking back, I didn't take many photos. I've been trying to "unplug" a little more lately and traveling without my camera or phone on me all the time is clearly having drawbacks! The benefit, however, is I'm able to live a lot more "in the moment," and I see no negatives in that at all. Check out the sparse assortment of the photos I took of our roadtrip below.

Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Aerosmith Concert
Watching Aerosmith jam out! There were over 18,000 people in the crowd.
Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins, Walrus Ice Cream
Daniel claims Walrus is the best ice cream EVER. I had cake batter with cookie dough & brownie mix-ins and cannot argue with him! In fact, I won't even debate it. It was amazing!
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Eileen's Colossal Cookies
A Cheyenne treat—a frosted sugar cookie from Eileen's Colossal Cookies. It was colossal. It was amazing. I want like 10 more.
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Scooter Rides
Puttering around one of Cheyenne's neighborhoods while learning to ride scooters & bikes. We didn't go far but sure had fun!

While we didn't make it to every place we wanted to go (hiking Vedauwoo, Denver, and Estes Park will have to wait for the next time), we did manage to fit a good amount of Cheyenne into our short trip.

What I enjoyed most—in addition to the buffet of Cheyenne eateries, the beautiful sights and the hometown feel—was the people. Daniel has some of the kindest, nicest friends. They absolutely lavished us with generosity, their time, and their hospitality. I am so grateful to have finally met them and cannot wait to plan a return trip. And hey, if I happen to sneak in a scotchie from Eileen's and a cone of Walrus along the way, that just makes it all the merrier.

Thanks for a great trip, Cheyenne. It won't be the last time we see each other.

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