Sunday, November 25, 2018

Montgomery TDY

187th Figher Wing, F16 Red Tails

I guess I haven't talked about my job lately--but boy, I've sure seen a lot of different states traveling with my job in the last year. No, I haven't deployed yet (I want to!) but I have been to Great Falls, MT, Gulfport, MS and Orlando, FL. This work trip to Mongtomery, AL was highly anticipated and was worth the wait.

As you know, I'm a member of the Security Forces Squadron here in Boise, Idaho with the Idaho Air National Guard. I worked as a temp from June 2016 - Feb 2018 with the squadron (there's not a full-time position available for me within the squadron). Temp work is hard and comes without any benefits (leave, pension, health benefits, etc), so when I was offered something different (and for a lot more pay!) this past March, I jumped on it! From March - October, I was full-time in our Inspector General office as the Wing Planner. Concurrently, I also served unofficially as our Wing's Chief of Information Protection (CIP) (classified info, security clearances, etc). In October, I was offered the full-time, permanent job as our Wing's CIP, and I am so grateful to be able to have that position within our Wing! I still get to work with Security Forces on drill weekends, but during the week I work for the Wing and really enjoy the job that I get to do there because I get to work with everyone! It's a great opportunity for career broadening and enhancement, and will significantly help me down the road when I hope (fingers crossed!) to someday be in Command.

Anyway, this work trip was part SF and part CIP related. It was a week-long training course and I was able to travel down with my SF boss, so that made the trip very enjoyable. I had been to Montgomery once before for Officer Training School, and I was so excited to go back this time and explore Montgomery more than I had been able to before. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't too cooperative while we were down there, but I still was able to enjoy many of the local eateries and get my fill of BBQ and seafood.

Montgomery Alabama

It's not that the weather was bad, by any means, but it was just cloudy, drizzly, and a bit chilly. But t was a nice break from the 30's and 40's in Boise!

Our training took place at the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery. It was a very nice facility to spend the week in. During lunches, my boss and I explored Montgomery and sampled foods from the infamous eateries there, including Dreamland BBQ, Fatman's BBQ, Baumhauers, and the Montgomery Stockyards.

After our lectures each day, we'd hit the gym at Dannelly Field (it was the perfect size to get in and out for a workout without it being too crowded) and then we'd go watch football and eat delicious food in the evenings. We were pretty predictable on this trip--eat, lecture, eat, gym, then counteract the gym and drink, football, eat, sleep.

Below are some of the photos of all of the above!

Wintzells Montgomery Alabama

I liked Wintzell's Oyster House in downtown Montgomery. I was able to get in some good Monday Night Football at the bar all to myself, and chowed down on charbroiled oysters, grits, and collard greens. It felt like a true, southern, authentic meal!

Dreamland BBQ Montgomery Alabama

We ate at Dreamland BBQ twice. I didn't love the stew I got the first time, but the BBQ pulled pork sandwich I ordered the second time was incredible. Plus, their restaurant is set up for some awesome football-watching!

Jalapenos Mexican Food Mongtomery, Pollo Fundido

So, I know it's not BBQ, but the meal above, the Pollo Fundido, from Jalapenos at The Alley in downtown Montgomery was so so so good. I could eat that every week along with a side of chips and salsa and a large margarita for the rest of my life.

Aviator Bar Montgomery Alabama

One of the coolest (well, I guess the ONLY) bar I visited was the Aviator Bar in downtown Montgomery. I loved all the different aircraft they had on display, and while I didn't order a cocktail, all the ones I saw being made looked really good!

Hank Williams Statue Montgomery Alabama

Standing alongside the Hank Williams statue in downtown Montgomery.

Capitol Oyster Bar Montgomery Alabama, Gumbo

The gumbo at Capitol Oyster Bar was to die for. I'm a big gumbo and jambalaya fan, and as most places don't serve it in Idaho, I almost always order it when I'm in the south. My favorite part about that spot wasn't only the food, but the service was amazing!

Candied brown sugar pecan bacon

The 187th's Security Forces Squadron hosted our training, and they were such gracious hosts. One of the guys made this incredible candied pecan bacon that was insanely yummy. I got the recipe and made it for my family for Thanksgiving. It was gone quick!

Firebirds Montgomery Alabama

Ok, I know they're a chain but Firebirds Wood Fired Grill makes some of the darned best salads I've ever had. We don't have them in Idaho, so I always enjoy eating their food when I can. The BLT salad with cheese and shrimp was SO good. In fact, I ate there twice that week and ordered the same thing both times. It was THAT good.

Montgomery Stockyards, Alabama

One of the most interesting places I visited was the Montgomery Stockyards. Yes, it's a stockyard, but it's also a restaurant. The food wasn't super impressive (I ordered a steak sandwich and it was literally a piece of steak on a plain bun...), but the stockyard display was awesome. I'd love to go back for some live action (and maybe to try something... else).

187th Figher Wing, F16 Red Tails

I got an up-close-and-personal look at the F-16 Red Tails. I think the heritage there with the history behind the Tuskegee Airmen is really cool. In addition, if you click back up to the first picture in this post, I also got to see one of my teammates from the Air Force Marathon's MAJCOM Challenge Team. He and I ran on the team together in 2016 and 2017. I hadn't realized he was stationed at Dannelly Field. As soon as we put two and two together, we scheduled a run for after my classes one day and he absolutely kicked my butt. I was grateful to catch up with him!

Oyster House Mobile Alabama

Another highlight of my trip was catching up with another friend who I met at the AF Marathon in 2015, and then went to Officer Training School with in 2016 (it was a coincidence), and then ran with him at the AF Marathon again in 2017. Our military travels keep leading us to the same spots (I was TDY at the same spot as him in Montana earlier this year), so each time we get to catch up it's always a good time!

So... I promise I actually worked on this trip. I don't talk too much about what I actually do at work mostly because I can't (that's legit). I'm very fortunate to have an awesome job, but a lot of what I do is sensitive stuff, so I don't share much about it. But if you have questions--you can always ask!

The entire week spent in Montgomery, Alabama, minus the 20-hour trip home (delays, awful!) was so fun, relaxing, enjoyable, and quite tasty! Thanks for sharing in my love of all-things-food-and-travel... it seems that's all I do these days!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Onward Shay Half Marathon

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

It's been a long time since I've... (1) run a race with my mom and (2) really, really enjoyed the entire race. Onward Shay marks our fourteenth race together and it was a last-minute decision to run it... it was a decision that we were both very happy with!

As a side back story, my mom called me eight days before the race and asked if I was interested in training for another half. It had been three years since we have run a race together, and we were both looking for a kick in the pants to get us going again. It had just so happened that I'd received an email from Toyota earlier in the week, offering to sponsor me for the race. I had initially declined, since I'm just NOT in race shape right now (read: not fast), but when my mom put the bug in my ear, I contacted them and said we were both in!

Fast forward eight days and my mom and I were literally the FIRST people to pick up our packets on race day. You never know how unpredictable Boise traffic will be, and we definitely overestimated how long it would take that morning. We laughed and laughed and laughed because we were there so dang early. We checked in first thing and warmed ourselves up in my car until it was time for the race.

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

It's always so fun for us when we get to match, and this race was a fun one to plan for since it was so last-minute. We ended up wearing shirts from our marathon training days in 2013 that we'd never raced in, and I bought us some matching calf sleeves that almost totally matched.

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

At nine o'clock we were ready to run!

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races
Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

And... the gun went off--and so did the crowd! Since we hadn't trained for this race, we didn't even try to set a pace or goal time. We just started running and settled into a pace that felt good. We maintained an even 9:55/mile pace for the entire race. It's a far cry from my past 5:54/mile and 6:35/mile half marathon averages (which actually sound CRAZY right about now), but the almost 10/min mile pace felt GOOD the whole way through. We had absolutely no regrets!

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

One thing we were nervous about was not training for more than 4-5 miles at a time for the last year or so and then being able to run the whole thing. My mom is recovering from significant shoulder surgery, and I'm still working on getting back into running after stress fracturing my foot and then running on it for the last two years. So neither of us were trained, but we were pretty sure we could do the 13-miles. We were overjoyed when not only did the miles tick on by without issue, but we felt really, really good while running them!

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

I love the photos of us running, even if they're not the most flattering, because it's so fun to look at both of us and see the same exact person. We run the same, we walk the same, we talk the same... it's scary how similar we are. I'm pretty blessed (hashtag it!) to have received such great genes from my mom--and I know I have a lot to look forward to in the future.

Throughout the race, I don't think there was a minute that went by that we weren't talking about something. This race was so great because we weren't going for time--we were just going out and talking and hanging out for two hours! Also, the course was on the Boise Greenbelt the whole time, so it was incredibly scenic and very flat--bonus!!

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

We crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 10 minutes. I don't know where it ranks among our fourteen races for time, but it was one of my favorite races we have done yet simply because there was just no pressure on either of us.

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races, Payette Brewing Boise
Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races, Payette Brewing Boise

After the race, we enjoyed brews and burgers while we watched NFL football at Payette Brewing in downtown Boise. The beer was delicious and even made the mystery-meat-post-race-freebie burgers taste pretty darn good!

Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races
Onward Shay Boise Half Marathon, mom and daughter running, Boise races

My mom and I were both so grateful to Toyota, who sponsored us for this race. We go to hang out and check out the brand new Tundra, and I sure wish I could have taken it home!

I think my biggest takeaway from this race was just how grateful I am for my relationship with my mom. She and I have been running races together since 2008, and each one is a new memory and story to tell. We love exercising and getting out and moving our bodies, and racing together is not a thing we do to WIN or take home a MEDAL or a PRIZE or go around and say how great our TIME was--it's something we do together to spend time together. I just can't encourage parents out there enough to get outside and do something fun with your kids. When she and I run together, we have so much fun picking out our outfits, training for the race (we usually train, we promise!), getting ready for race day, and spending half the day together during the race.

Love you, Mom. When's number 15?