My Funemployment List…How’d I Do?

It’s with a bit of a heavy heart I have to announce that funemployment has come to an end. I’m pretty excited about my new opportunity (I started on Monday), but a little sad to be giving up my freedom. I think that’s what they call “being an adult” or something? Or, there’s always winning the lottery.

By the numbers, here are the good things that the last two months brought me:

8 trails hiked (including 3 alpine lake swims and one summit snowfall!): Oyster Dome, Lake Ingalls, Rattlesnake Ledge, Goat Lake, Margaret’s Way, Melakwa Lake, Annette Lake, Green Mountain


Rainy Sunday at Goat Lake

6 books read: Euphoria, Love with a Chance of Drowning, Swerve, My Drunk Kitchen, Black Eyed Susans, The Santangelos

4 cities traveled to (overnights): Nashville, Phoenix, Bellingham, Hansville

5 series watched: American Horror Story (liked the first season, didn’t like/watch 2 or 3 and still working on 4), Jane the Virgin, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, Walking Dead Season 4 (still working on), Law and Order SVU (the handful of seasons available on Netflix)

127.5 miles run

11 items left on the bucket list! Too many, but they’re at least made their way back to my regular bucket list…it’s what nights and weekends are for!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Nashville

In a delightfully hasty decision, I booked a ticket to Phoenix by way of Nashville at the end of October.

First I had to drop off little Rigo at the boarders for the week. He was not as excited about his vacation as I was about mine.


Then, I flew on a red eye to Nashville. Especially for long distances, this is just the way to go. I was worried I’d be wiped and I didn’t sleep a ton on the flight, but I got to my destination ready to party.

Oh, and yes, I went alone – it’s kind of hard to find someone else who can travel during the week with a few days’ notice – yay unemployment.

Why Nashville? Because I’ve always wanted to visit. Spoiler alert, I was right, it was amazing! Here’s the somewhat quick and dirty of my four-day trip.


Breakfast: Puckett’s Grocery
Coffee, coffee, coffee and eggs and such to fuel my busy day.

Nerd alert: Tennessee State Museum and State CapitolIMG_0074[1]

IMG_0076[1]Get your cruise on: Country Music Hall of Fame MuseumIMG_0084[1]

IMG_0085[1]airbnb: East Nash Room
For the first time, I stayed in a “private room” airbnb, meaning sharing a home with the homeowners. It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be, honestly. My hosts were, of course, super nice and the room was great and it was perfect for mostly just sleeping since that’s really all I needed it for. I was out and about most of the time anyway. (Also, a nice money saver when traveling alone!)

Nashville perk: Sam Hunt street concert
Is this real life? In Nashville it is! The concert was announced for Tuesday (the night before I got in) but moved to Wednesday due to weather! What a charmed life I lead!

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people's pictures.

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people’s pictures.

GNO round 2: John Corbett at City Winery
This was my original plan for the night. Yes, he sings. Yes, he sings country…kinda, it’s kinda like Southern rock. Yes, he’s still sexy. Yes, he’s actually pretty funny. I loved the intimate venue.

Dinner and bed…I was zonked.


My hosts made coffee and blueberry muffins, which totally saved me from the struggle bus so I could start my day.

Local culture: The Parthenon
Yes, a full-scale replica in the middle of a nice, little park with some history.IMG_0139[1]

Local flavor: Loveless Cafe
Just yum. Like holy shit, but yum.IMG_0160[1]

Nerd alert: Cheekwood Botanical Garden (and art museum)
One of my favorites!



I took a very important phone call here….couldn’t have asked for a better view!

IMG_0175[1] IMG_0176[1]


Pop culture must do: The Bluebird Cafe
Stood in line for a good chunk of the evening, but loved the intimate show – my favorite of the night was Michaela Anne.



Local flavor: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden
I was (kinda) finally hungry again after breakfast and yum! Also, I met not one, but two, bartenders from Washington!

Nashvegas must do: hit the honky tonks, like Tootsies!



Small town charm: Franklin, Tennessee


History nerd alert: Carnton Plantation
Another highlight for me!

Get in my mouth: Red Bull Vodka slushy
Found on tap while afternoon honky tonkin’. Obviously another highlight.


Dinner #1: Five Points Pizza
Like a snack…don’t judge.

Classic Nashville: Grand Ole Opry
Friday night at the Grand Ole Opry! I saw, among others, Charlie Daniels playing the shit out of his fiddle and Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley! At the Grand Ole Opry!

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Local flavor: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hot chicken is a Nashville thing and Hattie B’s is the place according to friendly locals I met. It was good, but after three days of Southern cooking, I should have just tapped out.


Run it off: Shelby Park
Another perk of staying with hosts…finding out about the local running trails!


IMG_0232[1]Breakfast: Noshville

See ya later from Bicentennial Park

I loved Nashville! Everyone’s friendly and there’s a great, creative energy all around. Fall is such a gorgeous time of year to be there and and there’s plenty to do no matter what you’re in the mood for. I’m not always big on vacation repeats, but I will definitely go back to Nashville! I’ve hopefully already talked it up enough to my friends that there may be a girls’ trip in the works!

As for traveling alone, I actually liked it a lot. I’m very comfortable on my own and have done business trips and quiet, recharging road trips solo, but this one was bigger and made me somewhat anxious, but yeah, it was great. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer it, but given the option to travel or not, I’ll take travel TYVM!

That Motivation Problem

Last week, I was kind of a rockstar. I ran 22 miles including a 9-miler and 6-miler, did two OTF-style sweaty sweat seshes and went on my longest kayak adventure yet. It’s pretty easy to pull off when you’re feeling great, seeing improvements, oh and have a shit ton of spare time.

This week also started off great. I ran five fast treadmill miles. Who knew Like a Prayer and Turn Back Time could be such great running songs? Then I hopped on the elliptical because reading on it is one of my new favorite pastimes and followed it up the next day with another great OTF workout, a power day this time = lots of sprints!

Then, those fast days, plus probably the jump lunges, caught up to me and I was super sore. AND I saw an article about the importance of rest days and realized I’d been going strong for eight days, so I figured a rest day was probably in order.

My competitive, stubborn spirit usually has me striving for seven days a week and “rest” days are more often “too busy to fit it in” days. But, rest and recovery is important for your body. Not taking rest days can actually inhibit your progress.

If you obsess much, active rest is fine – a long walk with your Rigo perhaps or a good stretch session, a bike ride to dinner.

I obsess much, but I try to shake myself out of that by taking a real rest day and being okay with it. This week, my rest day turned into a lazy, treat yoself day, then a lazy, treat yoself two days. How did I go from 60 to 0 so fast?

I got my butt in gear today with another good elliptical reading session (currently reading: Love With a Chance of Drowning) and everything else was better. My brain clears. My day feels complete. My eating stays on track. I’m more productive. I’m calm. ALL that is so important all the time, and especially so now when I need structure.

Despite knowing that, I still have those days when I have that motivation problem.

Anyone else with me? Any tips to bust through that?

Having a training plan helps me, but then again, it’s flexible and I know it and I can go from hardass to softy real fast.

I like the rule about never going three days without a workout. I think that’s what got me moving today.

Also, those cliche Pinterest phrases: no one ever regrets a workout and an hour-long workout is only 4% of your day.

Lately, the lure of reading is a way to get me moving since I could sit on my butt and do it, or jump on the elliptical and do it just the same.

I also sometimes tell myself I’m just going to start and after 5 or 10 minutes if I’m still not feeling it, I can throw in the towel, which after 5 or 10 minutes I don’t feel the need to do anymore. I gave myself that out today, but ended up lasting almost 90 minutes.

Sometimes, it’s just taking a shower! After a workout I’ll shower and can start my day instead of procrastinating for no good reason. Just having a schedule usually keeps me on track, so I’m hoping when I do have a schedule again I can keep up with my new level of rockstarness (past two days excluded of course).

Treadmill Sweatfest

After a great 9-mile fall run yesterday, I planned out my second OTF-hack workout and was pretty excited about it…that’s always a good sign! Then my upstairs neighbors kept me up until 5 so I slept in a bit later than usual. When I finally rolled out of bed, I hit the tread for this endurance/strength/power combo day:
Treadmill intervals - Endurance, Strength, Power - OTF-hack

I was a sweaty mess! I had the whole gym to myself until literally my last 30 seconds and then someone came in and got on the tread right next to me. Don’t you hate looking like you’re leaving because of someone else?! I swear, I was finished! The 3.5 miles on the treadmill and my sweaty mess of a body were evidence enough of that! With someone there, I was too self-conscious to do my strength workout in the gym, so I headed back up to my apartment to complete this:


I timed each set to match up with the length of the cardio blocks, so I did them for 9 minutes, 8 minutes and 7 minutes, respectively. Since the first block was long-ish and I realized I was now the asshole jumping up and down on my downstairs neighbor’s ceiling (albeit at a REASONABLE time), I added in tri dips on my coffee table (10) and supermans (15).

After the cardio part, I thought, “that was hard, but I did it.” That’s a great feeling! As long as I keep pushing myself, these cardio/strength workouts are definitely going to help me maintain the level of fitness I achieved from six months at OTF.

Oh, but another hard part of at-home workouts is getting on the floor, which I don’t normally do, and seeing the dust situation under my furniture! It was hard to keep going instead of running to get my broom – but you can bet I did that as soon as my timer went off!

My OTF Hack Workout

Today I attempted my first post-OTF (RIP) gym sesh. Actually, I more than attempted it, I crushed it!

I miss OTF, but I kept OTF-style (cardio + strength interval) workouts on my training plan 2-3 times a week.

Today, I did a strength day (aka hills for days):


I don’t have access to weights right now, so for the strength blocks, I’m sticking to bodyweight exercises. I used this POPSUGAR circuit routine, doing each circuit continuously for 8 minutes:


It was a great workout, although having to pay attention to the cardio part instead of just following along was somewhat mentally challenging, but that’s kind of the appeal of this style of workout – it’s tough, but it’s short and you can get through it!

Funemployment, Month One

I remember making a list when I was younger of the things that went wrong on a specific day. I don’t remember what they were, but I do remember making the list, looking at it and realizing none of it was really all that bad. That Debbie Downer moment aside, I think I’m a very positive person. I think life is good. I think I’m lucky and that people who think they’re lucky are luckier, so it’s kinda a twofer. I acknowledge that life isn’t all sunshine and glitter, that blips happen, but they don’t really get to me. Kinda something like this:


I had a big one recently, but the closed door pretty much immediately felt like an open window.

At the beginning of September, my job was eliminated. I was upset and frustrated and anxious, but I also felt strangely fine with it and completely confident that it was all going to work out – and it has.

Well, I’m still looking for a new job, but finding good opportunities. Oh my goodness, it is so much easier to look for a job when you’re actually living in the city. But, spending all of my time looking for jobs and worrying and stressing out will not get my anywhere, so I’ve been enjoying this “early retirement.”

I’m gettting my fitness on, using the remaining classes from my yoga Groupon and (sadly) using the last month of my Orangetheory Fitness membership. I recently found my two favorite trainers and have been soaking up as many of their classes as I can. I’ve been running routes I’ve been meaning to check out and upping my mileage because why not and OMG the hiking.


First snow of the season – Green Mountain, September 2nd!

I’m tracking my hikes on the Washington Trails Association site since that’s where I scope out all the trails and put links on my PNW Hikes page, which has grown considerably in the last month! Summits and lakes and swims in those alpine lakes, which really just means talking myself into jumping in, dunking and getting out, but hey, I did it!

Yes, even this one on this chilly, foggy day!

Yes, even this one on this chilly, foggy day!

I also visited Bellingham and Hansville. I cheered on the Sounders at CenturyLink. I went kayaking in Lake Union. I went to the Seattle Art Museum and have spent some time wandering around downtown and Pike Market Place. I took Rigo to a dog beach on Whidbey Island and he loved it.

Double Bluff Beach

Double Bluff Beach

I would have gotten around to these things eventually, but filling a potentially unhappy time with things that just make me so happy has been the absolute best.

So, that’s been my first month of “funemployment.” No doubt, more adventure awaits!

My Latest Visitors

I spent this weekend on the Kitsap Peninsula. It requires a ferry ride, so just that in itself is pretty great. Life is a little slower there and it was a great place to seemingly say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Saturday was gorgeous, sunny and warm and we spent the afternoon outside playing lawn games, then enjoying a bonfire long after the sun went down. On Sunday, I woke up to an overcast sky, dropped temps and football!

While the summer here has been amazing, I’m looking forward to a real fall. With sweaters and rain and apple picking and baking and tea and fall foliage, which is already starting to show up on some of my hikes.


Hike to Melakwa Lake

Before the summer ends, though, I have to share one of my favorite weekends I had this summer, when my parents came to visit me! It’s already been a few weeks since they were here; they came out in mid-August. When in the F does the time go?

They have visited Seattle a few times before – with me when I was looking at schools here and when they traveled through on their Alaskan cruise – so I tried to come up with some outside the tourist box ideas of things to do.

On their first full day, I had to work, so they did some exploring on their own before we went to the Mariners game. I don’t remember who they played, just that there was a second it seemed like they had a chance, then they lost big time! But, everyone stuck around because it was the last fireworks game of the season. It was a ton of fun. If you go to a game, I’d recommend upper level on the first base line, it gives you great views of the field and the city.


Saturday morning we took the ferry to Bainbridge and walked around the town. They have a great farmers market on Saturday morning and just a ton of cute shops to wander.


On their on-their-own day, my parents found the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. It’s really close to my place, but I’d never been there, so we went there on Sunday morning. It’s pretty incredible! The coffee is crazy fancy, which is a little overwhelming, but I love that it’s authentic coffee, not fluffy coffee. I could spend a long morning hanging out there!

Then we made our way to the Seattle Center to check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Again, overwhelming! The art is gorgeous and there’s so much of it!

Then we needed a little break. I was calling the days they were here “active rest” because we were hiking all over town and that was plenty of exercise to keep me sleeping soundly at night!

We went to check out the Ballard Locks, which allows large boats to go between the Sound and Lake Union. We were there for a while watching them load up the large locks, then filling it up and letting the boats go through.


Definitely falls into the unique category for tourists, but I thought it was fascinating. There’s also a salmon ladder to help the little fishies go between, I still want to go check that out soon!

That night, we stayed in and my mom and I made chicken and waffles! Yum. I got to test out my new waffle maker and learn how to make our classic family meal from the pro.

On Monday, I took the day off work to share my love of Pacific Northwest hiking with them. I researched a few hikes to find something lovely and manageable and landed on a 3-mile hike in Mount Rainier Park, Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak.  It had a little elevation, a lotta awesome views of Rainier and we ran into a handful of PCT hikers heading to Canada! It was also very dusty and a looong drive, but worth it!


And then, because it’s beautiful and because in Washington, you can go from mountains to sea (Sound), we spent some time at Golden Gardens, a beachy beach in Ballard, where we saw some seals playing not too far out from shore.


We ended their trip with a tradition started on my last two trips to Seattle before my move – a last meal at Ivar’s on Lake Union. With great views of the city, the lake and of course, seafood, it’s a great way to say goodbye to my city love (only this time, I didn’t have to say goodbye).

I told them we were knocking out everything in the city because next time, I want to take them to the San Juan Islands, or maybe the Olympic Peninsula. There are just so many wonderful options!

Ragnar Northwest Passage 2015

Last weekend I ran Ragnar Northwest Passage! What a great adventure!


A few months ago I said “yes, I’m going” to the race on Facebook and planned to find a team either through local running groups or on the FB event page where people often try to piece together teams. Within a few hours, my college roommate emailed me that her husband’s team of friends was traveling to the race (they live all over and last year did Cape Cod) and needed another member for the girls’ van. It made the whole thing super easy and everyone on the team was so great!

I wanted to do the race as a fun way to see my new state. The route starts at the Canada border in Blaine, goes down into Burlington, across Deception Pass and down to the south end of Whidbey Island ending in Langley. My first leg was six miles through Bellingham, which consisted of the cute downtown area, but also stoplights and then freeway overpasses, so it wasn’t my favorite, but that’s where the race photographer caught me, so of course I was all smiles. Also, I never run with a water bottle and thought with a few stops from the van for water, I’d be okay, but my teammates knew better and loaned me one of theirs for my longer runs. I’ll be stopping over at REI soon for my own!

Leg #1

My second leg was eight miles of rural roads in Mount Vernon run in the middle of the night, so you know Children of the Corn, kidnappers, urban legends, Hills Have Eyes type stuff. Again, my team was to the rescue stopping in front of a creepy-ass gas station so I didn’t even know I had run by it until they told me about it later. They kept their eyes on me for most of the first few miles, but I actually felt pretty comfortable and didn’t mind the solitude of the cool, dark miles. At the very end I saw a few runners far ahead of me (yay taillights) but yeah, otherwise, it was quite isolated. Finally, my last leg was four miles of rolling hills on my dead legs, but with gorgeous water and mountain views in Coupeville.

Last leg's view

Last leg’s view of Mount Baker

The team captain plotted out the runner numbers maybe about a month ago, so when I learned I had 18 miles, I stepped up my training a bit and felt really good leading up to the race. I also really think working out at Orangetheory helped so much. I am not good about doing strength or intervals or aggressive hill training  on my own and the race hills were A.GGRESS.IVE. but I could handle them because OTF makes me do those things even when I don’t feel like it!

I was not, however, prepared for the heat. The team (Chafing the Dream, LLC, btw) picked this Ragnar because the average temps should have been in the 60s, but Washington is in the middle of a long, warm, dry summer and during our day runs, it was high 70s (+ direct sun + those hills). When the boys’ van did their final runs, it was about 85. Eek. Part of what got me through it was thinking about how many people would have died if it had been run in Arizona in July. Comforting, right? Basically, I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to say it’s hot because my desert dwelling friends and fam are dealing with so much worse! Plus, it did get cool enough at night that our girls’ van yetis established themselves as the best idea ever.


Yes, we wore them into a store. Ragnarians know no shame.

When our team decided who was running which leg we also got our start time. 11:30am. Hmmm. At first I thought that meant we were fast, but with a projected overall pace of 9:15, we were kind of decidedly average. We finished in about 31 hours and 22 minutes, which was a little slower than expected (thank you hills, heat, “food poisoning” aka a boy deciding to eat brisket in between legs). Put those things together and we were running the race pretty much on our own.

We started with a few of the actually fast teams and kept up for a bit, but I think I saw about 4 other runners on all of my legs. Total. At the major exchanges we saw a few more teams, but it was really lacking the Ragnar feel unfortunately. We definitely got good girl time and fun van time, so that was Ragnarish and overall it was a lot of fun!

Start line girls' van selfie

Start line girls’ van selfie

And I was right about it being a great way to explore! Washington is gorgeous and I loved seeing parts of it I may not have seen otherwise and also seeing other people see it and thinking, yep, that’s pretty much why I moved here…northwest is best!

Teammates at an exchange point

Teammates loving the view at an exchange point

Since we finished pretty late, there was a crazy line to get on the ferry to Mukilteo so we drove around, basically the route we had run and we got to cross Deception Pass at the very end of the sunset. The night before we had driven it in total darkness. It was so beautiful!


And then I slept. Glorious sleep in my own bed and it was amazing.

Now I’m not sure what I’m training for, but I know I want to keep up my running and keep exploring my beautiful new home state! And/or other great places in another Ragnar!

Our awesome team captain, Julie, put together this recap video with footage from GoPros in both the vans. Watch til the end, I’m sure you’ll find it quite educational. I love watching it and reliving the fun weekend! (She’s a blogger too! Check out her blog, Diving Into the Gene Pool.)

MJ + PNW = True Love Forever

I’m in a relationship. It’s getting pretty serious. It was what I wanted and I took the steps to make it happen, but it all happened very fast and it’s even better than I could have imagined.

Washington, I love you. Let’s just get married.

Here’s how I’ve been exploring my new home state this month, from the mountains to the sea:

Second hike…this time Mount Dickerman…this time with legit hiking boots, thank goodness because it was in the snow!

IMG_0528 IMG_0534


Yes, that is how the professionals get down from the summit.

Kayaking to a (for now) private island. Jetty Island gets a little more crowded in the summer.

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First outdoor climb: The Feathers at Vantage…5.1-5.4 to learn the ropes. Get it? See what I did there?



Second climb…Endless Bliss at Exit 38, which is a two-pitch 10a, two things I knew nothing about a month ago!





Sailing at Lake Union with my Arizona visitor.


Exploring the San Juans via kayak and a whale watching boat.



Humpback whale and Mount Baker.

Exploring the PNW: Mount Pilchuck

I went on my first, AMAZING Washington hike two weeks ago and I’ve been dying to go again! The weekends since have been rainy and I’m not quite ready for that, so I’ll just tell you about my trek up Mount Pilchuck.


My coworkers are all very outdoorsy and active (prereq in Seattle, I think) and a group of them goes up a different mountain every weekend. When I told another coworker I was going with the group, the look on his face was pretty much like, oh my gosh, she’s going to fall off a cliff and die.

Some of their hikes can be pretty intense, but for my first one, they took it easy on me and we went to Mount Pilchuck. It’s a nice little 5.5 mile roundtrip, 2300 elevation gain hike in the North Cascades northeast of Seattle. It was pretty much the best day ever for it, not a cloud in the sky and cool.

It was a crowded day on the trail, so we went off the trail and scrambled up the rocks for about half of the hike. It was my first real experience with that – and with snow! – and it was so much fun!




The top is a little lookout hut some people spend the night in. You can see Mount Rainier and Mount Baker and Seattle and the Sound. Ridiculous views!


I think I did pretty well overall – no falling off cliffs and got an invite for another one sometime. On the way back down we took the trail, which was pretty much just ice, so there was a lot of slipping and sliding, but that was probably the hardest part. So we stopped and had a beer here:


Overall, it took eight hours! I wasn’t really expecting that, but my Chipotle burrito and 9pm bedtime never felt so good! Washington is a playground of countless hikes like this and I’m so excited to get out there and play!