Category Archives: things that make me Happy

Running & Reporting from the Bay in CA

It’s been quiet in this little corner, while life was being all kinds of loud! In the past few weeks, we’ve gone from this…

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….to this:

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Along the way we crossed 15 states (including the District, of course), stopped to see friends and family in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Chicago, Quad Cities, Colorado Springs and Albuquerque. We visited the Corn Palace* (oh, yes we did), the Presidents at Mt Rushmore, a lovely bed & breakfast in Rapid City, SD and Los Pollos Hermanos (aka Twisters). We were graced with everything from sun to rain to golf-ball-sized hail (what kind of guest treatment is that, Wyoming?!).

*Nobody takes corn lightly in South Dakota.

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Moving on…

We covered 3500+ miles throughout 8 days, with a nice long break in New Mexico to celebrate my little sis gettin’ hitched!

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And in the 2 days that followed, our powerful little car trekked the remaining 1,030 miles. And the day after that, all of our furniture met us in California and – voila! – we are officially temporary residents.

Monterey, CA

For the next 18 months you’ll find us running and riding along the bay, in the peaks and valleys of the Sierras and up and down many San Francisco-esque hills. I’m still on the Wellness Corporate Solutions team (whoop!) and joining the world of remote-working.

Currently, I’m reporting from the Adirondack chair in our back yard as I soak in the afternoon sunshine hours and admire the lemon tree that requires little care but provides ample fruit.

And that’s that.

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Filed under about me, distractions, new things!, pictures, things that make me Happy

MCM 10K & LGF (Super Oats) GIVEAWAY

There has been quite a bit of running going on here lately. What do we runners do? Eat to run. Today we do a little bit of both.

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It felt a little odd to be out of the marathon loop throughout the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) weekend, but I know this was a great step back for me. The first time I had anything to do with MCM was in 2009; as I rode the Metro and pinned on my 10K bib, I felt simultaneously in awe of and daunted by the fact that most of the runners around me were about to run an additional twenty  miles. I mean, WHAT? What would that even feel like? How nervous were they? Did they think I had it easy? Because I sure did.

And this year, after two back-to-back MCM finishes, I know how both sides feel. When I was trained and ready, I wouldn’t have traded a single thing to finish all 26.2 miles on those days. When I signed up for Sunday’s 10K option, it would have taken a LOT of convincing to go beyond the 6.2 miles I had on deck.

Every MCM race (10K & 26.2’s) has been a PR for me.
Those are big shoes to fill.

When we lined up on the mall and “only” had to run by the Capitol, over THE bridge (oh.that.bridge), quickly through Crystal City & right on the highway to Iwo Jima, I felt grateful for this 6.2 mile way to still be a part of this race. Happy to be in this city, on this {perfectly sunny} day, with (so many of) these runners and marines. As always, nicely done, MCM.

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GOOD MORNING, DC. You’re a beauty.

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Kate & I lined up with the expected “40-49:xx” finish group, which felt a little too close to the very front. The only other option was sub 39:59, so, go with it? We did. We got started with a 7:20 min/mile and kept it right there. I raced in my Mizuno Wave-Sayonaras for the first time; my calves are still on fire but during the run these gals felt great.

We stayed together the whole race, joined by a familiar pacer at mile 4.5 who initially ran with us, until he ran just a few steps ahead. Chase you? Well alright, FINE. The last two miles were our fastest, with or without energy to thank him for it. “RUN UP THAT HILL!” Aye aye, Captain!

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In true MCM fashion, I have a new PR for the books (4-for-4!).

Marine Corps Marathon 10K – 2013
45:32 – avg. 7:19 min/mile

Overall: 191  of   7,605
AG (25-29F): 18  of   905
Division (F): 44  of   4,761

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Next year’s race is a lottery; I’ll be throwing all of my cards in for that one.

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Until then, it’s time to FUEL UP! With LOVE? Yes, of course.

My favorite foodie friends at LOVE GROWN FOODS are hosting a giveaway while announcing their newest LOVE fuel: Super Oats! These are a dream.

What makes the oats SUPER? They contain gluten-free oats, chia seeds, quinoa and amaranth. If you want to up the ante, go with the Nuts & Seeds option.

What makes the Love Grown Foods team Super?
As usual, they’re sharing the love with YOU, too:

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FINE PRINT: Must live in the United States to participate.

Hot Oats and Super Oats are available in The Fresh Market, Kroger, City Market, King Soopers, QFC, Fred Meyer, Dillons, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Sprouts, and select regions of Whole Foods.

ENTER TO WIN: 2 bags of SUPER OATS (one of each flavor), 1 bag of Oat Clusters granola (flavor of your choice), and 4 Hot Oats Cups (1 of each flavor)!

…Follow the LOVE  @LoveGrownFoods on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter!

BONUS OPS:  #fueledbyLOVE | #SuperOats | #HotOats | #OatClusters | #LoveGrownFoods | #LOVEgiveaway

HOW: leave a comment with your LOVE flavor-of-choice, and/or a goal you’re working on this fall (running or otherwise)! (Open until Thursday 10/31.)

Winner will be announced FRIDAY, November 1.

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Congrats to all of the MCM 2013 finishers! You make it one of my favorite days in DC, every year.

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Filed under DC, food, Giveaway, MCM, race report, Races, running, things that make me Happy

RW Festival 1: 5(K) & Dime (10K)

Let’s start with this: if registration was already open for the 2014 Runners World Festival, I would already be signed up (probably going for hat-trick II).

Yep, they’re that good. But would you really expect any less from a Runner’s World race?

The hat-trick challenge started with two of three races today (Saturday). On deck: 5K at 8am followed by the 10K at 9:30am. Our RW-blogger team had the luxury of shuttles to/from the race this morning, so we hopped on the bus at 6:45 am and headed in for our “5 & Dime” morning.

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Thanks for the {too early} group shot, Monica!

It’s been slightly cooler-than-expected (read: prepared for) on these mornings, but ya know, RW has us covered. Waiting inside {the Arts Quest Center}? Yes, c’mon in! Indoor bathrooms, too? Of course.

Bag-check was easy and available for a stop-in between the two races. All good things, RW! Nice work.

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Another group shot, thanks to Katy! We’re sort of awake…getting there!

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Bag-check: check! Heading to the Start line with Susan & Jocelyn.

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GOOD MORNING, Runners! 3.1 miles to go – let’s do this.

The 5K course is pretty simple with a great view across the bridge and a few hills to keep it just on the side of challenging but not too miserable. A few blogger-team runners took this thing by storm (Susan: first in the AG!) and a few of us just took it easy. 24-ish minutes later…

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Up for grabs: the 5K bling, water, bananas, Larabars, apples & bagels. And open for runners to stay warm: the Arts Quest & Steel Stacks Visitors Center. This is how you know the race is planned for runners, by runners.

We stayed nice n’ comfy in the Visitors Center, waiting for the 45+/- minutes until the Dime began. And then we lined up for round 2!

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Neon & SHOES: Linda, Sara, Heather & me.

This felt so much easier than the 5k – warmed up (literally, and…muscle-y) and pumped that when this Finish line is crossed, we only have one more race to go! The course was similar to the 5K but with an extended tour of the town and an extra hill or two.

Bethlehem, you are quite cute. Fall leaves, homes, downtown shops & eats and friendly spectators all around.

The Finish line was full of us! And a lot of other relieved hat-trickers 2/3 done.

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Linda & I ran the whole thing together, coming in at 47:31.

And now, there are two blings.

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Sunday, we wrap it up! We go 3-for-3.  13.1 miles are waiting for us…

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Filed under race report, Races, running, things that make me Happy

On the First Day of Runners World…

I remember my very first issue of Runner’s World; on the slow mornings at the hospital (circa summer 2008) I wandered around looking for which magazines might be worth skimming through. (People donate a LOT of magazines to said hospital.) Through one stack I saw the huge “RUNNER’S” letters, and having just run my second half-marathon, my interest was immediately piqued.

There is an entire magazine dedicated to just runners? Not elites, not pros, but just…us everyday runners?! YES. Give me that.

I don’t remember what I did or didn’t learn from that exact issue, but I do remember spending every remaining working break in that hospital searching for more. My eyes scanned every pile looking for the familiar capital letters peaking out. Then I scanned airports and Targets and bookstores. Then I bought a subscription. Five years later, the magazine’s arrival still my favorite monthly mail day.

Five years later, I’m still soaking it in that an invitation was extended to step inside, and see where the running-magic happens…

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When our itinerary arrived for this weekend’s RW Half-Festival blogger events, I had to do a double-take. On the first day of our all-Runners-World weekend: a tour of the HQ and a BBQ and s’mores and the company of Bart Yasso? Yep. All of it. I’m in.

Runners World HQ

First we sat down to eat with RW staff, family and friends. It was a welcoming crew, eager to meet us and ready to chat! We were also joined by the Altra Zero-Drop shoe team – all the way from the mountains of Utah. They’re stopping in DC next, so we made some plans for a Monday night run. (What else do you do at a Runner’s dinner?)
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Full of good eats* and round 1 of dessert, we took a walk. Bart showed us around the RW digs:

(*They have a garden outside the office! And Rodale started publishing Organic Farming & Gardening in 1942 . They eat well around these parts.)

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Well of course they have a treadmill desk…

…and of course Bart’s office is full of race + travel mementos.

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He has stories for days (weeks, years?) and a grin that doesn’t stop. He undoubtedly loves the world inside these walls and the experiences that  have, and continue to, come with it.

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The Runner’s World Editor-in-Chief, David Willey, joined us for part of the tour, too. His office has a few less bibs, and a lot more shoes.

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A few other things we got to peak in on: the bike room, the Men’s & Women’s Health areas, the online marketing team and the wall with the next issue’s spread all lined up.

Then we had S’mores.

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We all owe a HUGE thanks to Bart, David, Golden (Altra Zero-Drop’s Co-Founder), Ms. Laura Beachy (+ David T.) and the RW family.

Thank you for bringing us here together, for hosting us at your dinner table, for letting us ooh-and-aah around your workspace and for welcoming us into your home for the night!

Bethlehem PA view

Last, but not least, thank you for challenging us – would I have signed up for a Hat-trick race weekend otherwise? Who knows. But this one’s credited to you!

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Next: we shake it out, take our shoes off & meet the (former host of Figure it Out and) Olympic swimmer, Summer Sanders! Among other things (i.e. racing).

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Thirty Acre Farm & Outstanding in the Field {Whitefield, ME}

You may or may not have heard of this “farm-to-table” trend and, perhaps depending on who you ask,  it may or may not have hit the road and spread across the country thanks to Jim Denevan. He started a career in the food world as a dishwasher, progressed to second-line cook and, with credit given to the influence of Alice Waters in California, eventually led an Italian restaurant to source locally grown ingredients and be proud of it.

As fate would have it, his brother (Bill Denevan) owned and operated an organic farm in the area. Jim’s idea to source locally to his restaurant’s tables was eventually taken outdoors to an actual on-the-farm table. Years later, he tours the country with his Outstanding in the Field (OITF) team and, lucky for us, opens the farm doors to any and all who wish to dine.

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A summer trip to the Land of Lobstah was largely planned around the Thirty Acre Farm dinner in Whitefield, ME. An outdoor dinner on a farm on a late-August Maine evening? Yes, count me IN.

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The “dinner” started in the late afternoon (3pm) with appetizers, generous local beer and wine pours, a farm tour and a lot of photo-taking.

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On the left: Jim & Anna giving the OITF story.
On the right: Jane & Simon giving us the Thirty Acre Farm story!

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Each OITF dinner is BOYP – bring your own plate. This was an excuse to buy new plates, because there’s no reason to trust TSA with this kind of thing, and bring home a unique souvenir! The OITF team kindly cleans them for you before the evening is said and done, and they do have extras laying around just in case you miss the memo.

We sat down to dine around 5pm, with four courses ahead!

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We started with freshly baked artisan breads and, of course, a fresh-from-the-farm salad. Summer tomatoes and arugula have never tasted so good…

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The second course brought us locally sourced grilled Bluefin tuna, the farm’s signature kimchee and a daikon lamiaceae salad.

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Each course is served family-style, with “family” being defined by the lines in the table. We were among locals (Portland, ME) and travelers  (Boston, South Carolina, California, DC…) alike. It makes for great conversation, plenty to eat or a way to pace yourself for the main entrée – depending on your approach!

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For the big hurrah, the table was graced with Thirty Acre Farm lamb, baked Swedish beans and roasted peppers + eggplant. My plate looked a little bit different, with a variety of grilled vegetables, herbs and rice ‘cakes’ (not the cardboard-kind, the kind made with freshly cooked rice and seasonings):

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(They happily accommodate food allergies, intolerances and/or preferences.)

And while we were all hoping that the deliciously in-season Maine blueberries would make an appearance for dessert, we were instead greeted with a creative spread of sweet breads, homemade granola and sweet spreads:

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I’ve already scouted events in 2014, as these dinners sell out quickly! It was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had while on vacation. I know no better way to get a feel for the local food scene: support a family farm, meet the traveling farm-to-table enthusiasts and hang with local servers and chefs (huge kudos & thanks to Eventide + Hugo & Chefs Andrew Taylor & Mike Wiley).

If you have the chance to join this crew for a meal, don’t turn it down!

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Check out their upcoming events & read more about the OITF family here.

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Filed under food, things that make me Happy, travel