Monday, July 27, 2015

Homer Trip Part One: Across the Bay

Little Tutka bay is off in the distance, across Kachemak Bay from Homer.

I'm finally getting around to posting pictures from my trip to Homer a month ago...oops. Time just seems to fly by when you're having fun!

I went down to Homer to visit Steve's family and to run in the Homer Spit Run: 10k to the Bay race, which I did an overview of, here. It's always so fun to go visit Homer, but usually we're trying to cram so much family stuff in that I never get to see friends and go places that were my favorite spots when I lived there. So this time I planned to stay for almost a week since I didn't have to work around Steve's schedule.

It was so nice to have that much time to settle in and relax, especially with a race in the middle of everything. I went down Thursday and went straight across the bay to visit Steve's dad in Little Tutka. Steve's brother Ben had to work across the bay so it actually ended up working out perfectly that I went over with him instead of having to pay for a water taxi ride. Not that I would have minded at all but I like to pinch my pennies where I can, haha.

Riggs was so happy to see Opa and to get to roam and explore the beach. I wish I could have spent another night over there, but was happy to get even one night. I put the kids to bed and went back over to the cabin to stay up late talking with Steve's dad and his wife, it was so nice to have adult time after it just being me and the kids for a few weeks.

I am so thankful that Steve got to grow up in such an amazing place and that his dad still lives there for us to visit. I just love seeing Riggs running around where Steve used to at that very same age. And Raina was really into crawling around exploring everything too, she did so well!

I hope next time we go back across that Steve can come with us, but we'll see. If you have never been across the bay from Homer, I highly recommend a trip. It's like a different world and there are so many beautiful places to explore and spend time immersed in nature. Steve's dad run an ecotourism business, A Seaside Adventure, that offers both cabin rental and kayak tours, and he is great with accommodating kids and all sorts of special situations. I highly recommend them, and though you may think I'm biased, just read some of their reviews on tripadvisor, everyone else loves them too!

At the harbor ready to go. Morgan and Riggs; Me, Raina, Evelyn and Mercedes.

 Raina loved exploring all the shells and grabbing the fishing poles.

Cousins are the best. Riggs and Morgan heading down from the cabin to the beach.
Riggs' favorite beach-combing find was a crab shell. Opa told him all about how crabs grow out of the skin and leave their too-small shell behind for us to look at and enjoy!
Oma telling Evie and Morgan about everything in the tidal pool.
Sunsets in Little Tutka may possibly be the most beautiful ever!
Morning in our cabin.
Ready to go exploring.
Helping Opa with the running line.
Blueberry pancakes for breakfast in the main cabin.
Little captain heading out on a water run.

Kayak selfie!
Already right at home in a kayak.
Water so clear you can see every detail from the Kayak. That green starfish was the most beautiful color I've every seen.
Kayak nursing.
Heading home, helping Uncle ben drive the boat.
He only lasted about 10 minutes before he was cuddled in, sleeping instead of driving.
Raina wanted a turn driving too.

It was such a fun trip with so many great memories made. Stay tuned for Part Three: the Homer Side, coming soon!

See some of our other trips to Homer and across the bay, here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Her Tern Half-Marathon Recap 2015

It's almost been a week and I'm finally getting around to writing up a race recap for the Her Tern Half-Marathon. It's kind of crazy to me that it's already been that long, and that the whole race weekend went by so fast.

It was my first half-marathon and it's an accomplishment that I'm pretty proud of. During the race I kind of thought about why an official half-marathon race is so special since most people run that distance and even longer sometimes during training, but I couldn't quite figure out an answer, other than that it just is. Ask almost anyone who has run in an event of any distance, and they'll tell you, there's something so exciting, so electrifying about participating in a race. The Her Tern Half took all of this excitement to a whole new level.

The Her Tern Half and Quarter are advertised as 'boutique' races that pamper participants in nearly every way possible, and I've heard from so many people that it's their favorite race of the year. They even offer a training program weeks in advance of the race to help runners of every level prepare, which I think is so cool. I definitely would have signed up if I lived in Anchorage. 

I went camping in Seward (post to come soon!) Friday night and then drove directly to the race 'expotique' in downtown on Saturday after packing up our campsite. It was a beautiful sunny day, which made the outdoor expo even more enjoyable. They had the entire road blocked off between Skinny Raven and Her Tern with tents set up including the most amazing fitting rooms ever. Every staff member we encountered was extremely friendly and helpful, and acted like they were genuinely happy to be there answering any questions and handing out bibs and goodie bags.

I used the amazing coupons included the event packets to purchase a Her Tern Half labeled Nathan water bottle (I love the narrow silicone spout!), a HTH labeled Brooks Running tank (which I LOVE), and some Nuun hydration products. I had both kids with me, which wasn't a problem at all, as it was an extremely kid friendly event. There was even a sign decorating station for kids (and adults) to decorate signs to hold while cheering on their moms. Genius! And Riggs was served popcorn by a very friendly staff-member, which made trying out some of the Moving Comfort sports bras (see my favorite, here) even easier. I was a little bit obsessed with the fitting rooms and kind of wanted to grab some snacks and lounge around in them for a while, haha. 

On race day I got up a little early to eat a little bit of yogurt but didn't end up eating like I should have because my stomach just felt a little off and I was trying to pack the kids up to head in to Anchorage. I met my sister downtown and she stayed with me to cheer me on at the start line, then took my kids to church with her for the morning, which was so nice.

I used the bag drop at the race since I would be alone at the finish, and it went very smoothly (it was my first time using a bag drop and I was a little nervous about it for some reason). I actually didn't do any running warm-ups before the race because of the length of the race. I did do some light stretching and a few dynamic stretches in the five minutes before the start, but that was it. Maybe TMI, but I was able to successfully use the restrooms right before the race, and that was a huge bonus. I never ended up having to use an outhouse at any of the aid stations during the race, which I was a little worried about. And I didn't pee in my shorts, so that's awesome (am I the only one who struggles with this for races? I know I'm not so don't be shocked haha). All good things!

My goals for this race were to have fun and not get injured, and also to finish under 2 hours, which was an easily attainable goal since that was at a pace well below my usually training pace. But I didn't want to give myself any extra pressure, because I really really wanted to enjoy my first half and not be sore the rest of the week from pushing myself too hard. I'm very competitive when it comes to sports and have a hard to forcing myself to slow down, so I knew this was going to be a challenge.  

At the starting line I just felt so at ease and didn't really have the usual pre-race jitters, which I thought was a good sign that I would be able to take it slow and easy like I wanted to. Once the race started I just settled into an easy pace and sort of pretended I was just doing a nice and slow weekend long run. I needed to run around 9 min miles on average for the whole race, and ended up running about 8.15 m/m's for nearly the whole way. 

For me getting passed is really mentally challenging further on in the race and I had a little guilt complex while running because I kept passing the participants who had signed up for the walking version of the race. I was really inspired because a lot of them were running and were putting all their effort into completing the race and I felt that connection, that common bond that comes from suffering/working through something hard together. 

I was feeling great during miles 10-11 and then just sort of started to feel out of it during the last two miles. I kept thinking I just wanted to stop and lay down on the side of the trail, even thought my legs weren't feeling that tired and my breathing was just fine. Also the last half mile was uphill nearly the whole way, and that was really really tough for me. I slowed down A LOT the last mile. 

I did not pack any sort of nutritional supplements and took about two sips of the electrolyte drinks they offered at the turnaround point (about mile 7) which in retrospect I think was a big mistake. In addition to not eating breakfast, I think not fueling during the race really contributed to my feelings of fogginess and fatigue during the last two miles. 

probably the happiest I've been at a finish line
(even happier than at the Twilight 12k)

Despite the slip-up with not fueling and with slowing down the last couple of miles, I'm really happy with how the race went and thoroughly enjoyed myself during most of the run. The 'post-race pamper party' was amazing and I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was also excited to get back to the kids. There were gourmet cupcakes and mimosas and photobooths and more and the atmosphere was just so fun and encouraging, it's definitely a race I recommend doing with a friend or group of friends. 

My next race will be the Skinny Rave Half-Marathon on August 16 in Anchorage, which is a part of the Big Wild Life Runs put on by the city. My sister is doing it too and that makes it even more exciting. I ran three days this week so far, taking it super easy the first two after the race and running very slow and easy then did a typical training day on Wednesday of 5.5 miles at easy pace (8:30) with a tempo mile in the middle (7:30) and some striders at the end. Went camping again Thursday so took that day and Friday off, which actually felt just about right. 

1) post race happy smiles 2) participants received bracelets with coordinates of the finish line instead of a medal 3) My own personal little foam-rolling station on the sidewalk after the race 4) results - you can see how much my pace slowed (to 9:35 for last mile) reflected here.

Anyone have any big races coming up or plans/goals/dreams to do a half or full marathon in the future?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites: beautiful things


find inspiration, think deeply, be grateful and write things down once in a while.
[journals: here]

focus on what is really important and invite your friends over,
even when your house is messy and your fridge is empty.

that vanity. that curtain. I'm in love.

you're smart, Alice Waters.

Happy Friday!