Mexican + Sweat + Staycay + Sushi + Vodka + Whiskey + Pizza = Birthday

My favorite day of the year has come and gone – it actually fell on a Saturday this year so I had a birthday weekend, a fantastic one in fact! A lot of people may claim their birthday as the best day of the year, but REALLY…there’s nothing else going on in August, so it’s nicely isolated; as a kid, you don’t have to go to school; it’s perfect for parties, although a friend who had a birthday a few weekends ago told me she has anxiety about summer birthdays because too many people are on vacation and can’t come. Anyway, it’s amazing and it’s mine and this weekend, I did everything I wanted to do.

It started with dinner with my family at Juan Jamie’s on Friday. My local family now includes my grandmother who moved from Pittsburgh in June and of course, my newish boyfriend who is getting to be a pro at the FFF.

On Saturday, I fit in a new-to-me workout at Amenzone (more on that in a future post) and did some shopping before checking into the Hotel Valley Ho for the night, an iconic little retro hotel near Old Town Scottsdale, perfect for going out at night, sleeping in in the morning and hanging out at the pool the next day, which is exactly what I had in mind.

Dinner was at Stingray Sushi with Sean, my sis and her husband…they left the babe with my mom and stayed out past 10 – new parent win! Then I met up with old and new friends at Kelly’s at Southbridge and ended the night at Gilligin’s.

Birthday

I had been thinking earlier in the day that perhaps I needed to add “Do a Fireball shot” to my 30 before 30 list (yes, next year is the big 3-0) and lo and behold, two shots appeared before me by the end of the night. I pretty much handled them like a champ. There was also a lot of water involved for the night!

IMG_0964

The next day, it was unfortunately a little hazy. Still warm and the sun did peek out a few times, so the pool day was great as well. Stacey got us hooked up with a cabana, which included drinks and some delicious snacks.

Birthday Pool

My final birthday request was Spinato’s pizza and watching Orange is the New Black to combat my Sunday night, end-of-my-birthday-weekend blues before it was back to reality. I’m actually only at work for two days this week before heading to San Diego. It’s FOR work, but working in a different environment and of course, getting away to a cooler climate, is always a nice break!

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Going Rogue

My race calendar was pretty much set for the remainder of spring until a few weeks ago, Ashley from She Runs Strong did a giveaway for the inaugural Rogue Runner on her blog and I won! Even better, she was giving away two entries and my blog friend turned real-life friend and Ragnar teammate, Stacey, won the other, so I’d have a partner in crime for the race!

The race was on Saturday at McDowell Mountain Park, so it was actually an awesome and challenging 6.2 mile trail run in addition to being an obstacle course.

By the time we got our codes to enter, the earliest wave available was 11:30 and the high on Saturday was supposed to be 90, so I was a little concerned it would be too hot – that was a huge problem with the only other obstacle race I’ve done, the Lozilu, which took place even later into the hot Arizona spring/summer. Rogue before

The first half of the race was pretty warm and unfortunately the water stations were out of water! The obstacles offered a slight break because we had to wait in a line to go through them…we got to one and people were walking away saying they had been there for an hour already, so we skipped it as well.

Despite the heat, lack of water, my lack of recent training and Stacey’s hamstring injury, it was a great running day and we kept up a decent pace in between obstacles, not letting our Ragnar spirit die and chicked plenty of men along the way.

Finally, we made it to the mid-way point with its glorious stocked water station, port-a-potties and a water obstacle. Essentially it was a dumpster filled with water and you had to swim under three barriers. Kinda gross? Yes, but we were sweaty and dirty already and getting drenched to start out on the next three miles was actually quite welcome!

Then there was a slip and slide, which was super fun, some more military-style obstacles and more trail running, of course. There were a good amount of obstacles for the distance and they were spread out pretty well. Only once we ran for almost a mile between them, but the view was awesome and the trail made it more interesting. Then before we knew it (a little less than two hours after starting), we finished and got our sweet medals!

Rogue after

Lozilu was TOUGH, so I was worried about doing a longer course, but I guess with my yoga and swimming, I’m more strength-trained than I give myself credit for. I was sore for a few days, but it was a fun kind of sore.

This race did not feel like a first for Rogue Runner. It was well-marketed and brought in lots of participants and except for the water issue, it ran very smoothly. (I ran the first Neon Race the week before and it was fun because I was with friends, but logistical it was a complete disaster.)

The Rogue Runner course was legit – not just another copy-cat gimmicky run with more talk than walk – though it’s definitely an obstacle run, not fully a “mud” run. It definitely gave me the confidence boost I needed to get me thinking I can handle a Tough Mudder! I’m so happy I added this race to my schedule at the last minute, I had a blast!

Will Run for Chocolate

The Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k came to Phoenix last weekend and I’m not sure we’ll ever be the same! It was the inaugural event here and it was huge AND well-run AND full of great perks for participants.

I signed up for the 5k with a girls’ Meetup group I go to. Of course, with so many runners and different corrals, it was hard to find everyone, but I found my friend Rachel who was in my corral (A… not to brag or anything!) and we were able to start the race together.

The 5k course was…boring. Out around the Salt River Fields ballpark, through a commerce park and back toward the field, but there’s only so much you can do with 3.1 miles! It was a cold day, but I took off at a great pace and felt good and happily finished in 27:20 – a new 5k PR for me!

HC Finish HC Mug

Rachel came in shortly after and we went to go grab our finishers’ mugs! The hot chocolate was good, but the melted chocolate with dippers, while probably good, sounded like just about the least appetizing thing at that moment. We met up with some more of the group and went off to a well-earned breakfast!

Fiesta Bowl Half-Marathon 2012

My prior association with the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon and 5k is that last year when I worked it for the Girls on the Run it was MIS-ER-AH-BLY cold. This year, as a half-marathon participant, I could not have wished for better weather. It was a gorgeous day!

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This is how great I felt during the whole race!

Between shuffling to get my packet, back to my car to stash my swag (in a lovely grocery bag) in there, then back to the start line, I wasn’t even chilly at the start in my tank and fantastic lulu speed shorts. Bathroom lines were epic, but since I had gone to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a Bela Fleck show two weeks prior, I decided I was totally allowed to use theirs. Win!

I met up with Stacey for the start and we even caught Ari before her fantastic 5k race. With no concept of time or the race course, we totally missed the actual start! Five minutes late, we found our start line, I turned on my Britney Spears station on Pandora (only appropriate since it was Brit Brit’s 31st birthday yesterday! Is it weird that I just know that?!), started my run on my new Nike app and unceremoniously began.

Since getting my iPhone over the summer, I’ve just been holding my phone when I run, but I really didn’t want to do that this race so on Cyber Monday I bought this TuneBand. By the time it came, I only got in one treadmill mile pre-race to test it out, but it worked out really well during the race. It’s not super easy to access the face (as with any armband), but it was kinda nice to NOT be staring at my pace and miles on my Garmin and only one song came on that was slow enough that I wanted to change it, and it was easy enough. The band itself is made of stretchy velcro and it just barely fits my arm (#skinnygirlwhining), I have to position the phone right against the ring and it attaches a little looser than I would like, but I suppose long-term I could cut and sew to resize it.

See?! About to pass the tutu.

I know that racing is all about YOU, but it helps ME to find “targets” and pass them and then find another and another and so on. Rule #1: People in tutus and/or fairy wings don’t beat me. Rule #2: Find a fit looking guy who might be a little peeved when he gets chicked. If, when you pass him, he’s cute, trip and fall in front of him. Since I was five minutes behind the start, the first targets were pretty easy. Eventually I came up on the 2:30 pace group, then the 2:15 group. I was truly hunting the 2:00 pace group, but (spoiler alert) I didn’t find them.

Either way, it was a gorgeous day for a run with 1,000 strangers, I felt great and I absolutely loved the course. I drive Scottsdale Road so often, so it was cool to run a big old chunk of it and to start in Old Town and get relatively close to my office! The second half of the race took us back down south along the greenbelt. Okay, okay, I didn’t “absolutely love” this part of it. The greenbelt is great for running, but after 8 miles, I was less than excited about switching from asphalt to concrete and the ups and downs of the underpasses.

My average pace (the app tells you overall pace, not mile-per-mile) stayed pretty consistent at 9:22 for a lot of the middle miles and I kept pushing to get it down to 9:15, but between miles 10 and 11, my legs were feeling pretty spent and I slipped into 9:30 and 9:40 territory as the race wrapped up.

Somewhere around, I’d say, mile 12 or 12.5, Stacey found me! I said, “okay, now I guess I’m going to keep up with you,” and I tried, but that was not going to happen! Girl was booking it – she took off and got a great PR! I dropped back to my pace and finished in 2:09:00.

It wasn’t the sub-2:00 I always want, but I’m nothing if not consistent (my other times have been 2:07:48 and 2:09:06)!

I felt great during the race. I really think supplementing my iron in the past few weeks actually helped. After finishing, I felt borderline awful, so I guess that’s how I know I left it all out there! After rehydrating, walking around and stretching a bit, I was tired, but felt better and enjoyed a celebratory brunch with bottomless mimosas at RnR!

My quads are feeling it today, but it’s a great feeling. And, keeping with tradition (of catching the race bug and signing up for another immediately)…I signed up for Pat’s Run today! It recently opened and it’s an annual can’t-miss for me!

My First Bountiful Basket

I’ve been wanting to participate in a food co-op, but the amount of produce I’d get and the idea of getting some really weird stuff that I’d have no clue what to do with kept me away for a while…until this weekend! I follow Bountiful Baskets on FB so when they said Arizona ordering was up and to reserve your basket by Wednesday, I thought, why not? My arthritis diagnosis last month (along with other food allergy tests) has me eating a little better – mostly produce and A LOT of it, so I figured I could probably handle it.

Bountiful Baskets has locations all over and is more of a food co-op than a CSA (Arizona has plenty of farms that have weekly programs, but you commit for a certain amount of time for a lot of them). I paid $15 for 20 pounds of fruit and veggies and here was my haul…

That’s…

  • grape tomatoes
  • english cucumber
  • 4 broccoli heads
  • spinach bunch
  • head of green leaf lettuce
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 6 BIG potatoes
  • 4 fuji apples
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • 9 bananas

It’s definitely all food that I would consider “normal,” nothing that had me asking, “what the heck is that and what am I going to do with it?” But, unfortunately the foods I’m supposed to stay away from because they cause inflammation and make my neck issues flare up are nightshade veggies aka potatoes, tomatoes and peppers (and eggplant, but I’ve yet to find an eggplant recipe I like anyway), which were a big part of the pick-up.

I’d like to really eat clean for some time to see how it goes, but that is hard for me right now (need to find my mental grit), so I’m still eating those veggies on occasion. I still have a ton of my haul left, so I’m not ordering again this week…it really is a lot of food and requires a totally empty fridge and a meal plan to follow to not waste the food!

What I have eaten, I can’t say I’m super impressed with, unfortunately. I might stick with Sprouts or seek out a few farmer’s markets for fresh produce so I can pick and choose what I want, but I just have to be better about not trying to buy everything that looks good on a Sunday afternoon, and just buying the food I can eat before it goes bad, but it’s a nice option and participating made me feel super crunchy!

Rigo’s First Hike

Work out five times a week WIN! With one day and probably a yoga class to spare, I got in five workouts this week!

On Monday, I got off on the right foot with a pre-work run, swam on Wednesday afternoon, ran AND did a hot yoga class on Friday (yes, a two-a-day) and this morning, took Rigo for his first hike!

I was up way too early, but it was 70 degrees and I’m pretty sure I heard some angels singing – it’s really been heating up around here lately, so it was glorious – so I made the most of it and headed out to a trail I have been meaning to get to since I moved to North Scottsdale.

Lost Dog Wash is a multi-use trail system that’s part of the McDowell Mountains. The trailhead is pretty close to me, but five minutes into the hike and you can completely forget that you’re anywhere near civilization! It’s all mountains and saguaros.  There were a handful of other hikers and trail runners and some mountain bikers, but it was mostly quiet.

I took a trail that led to overlook Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and some pretty views of the city. Rigo did not quite understand the concept of stopping to enjoy the view after the hard work and was ready to keep going! It was an out-and-back trail, so back we went for just over four miles total. I’m glad I finally made it out there and really glad it’s a dog-friendly trail that’s so close!

My Mini-Spring Break

2006 - Senior Year

My college roommate, Amy, is currently on her two-week spring break from the school she works at in LA and she took her middle weekend to come visit me! And I took the opportunity to pretend for two-and-a-half days that I was on spring break as well!

The only plan for the weekend was an alumni event at a Diamondbacks/Dodgers spring training game at Camelback Ranch Stadium in Glendale. She’s a Dodgers fan and I’m a DBacks girl, so it worked out well, especially since the DBacks won!

The alumni event was a nice idea (I went to a small, private college in California and it’s nice that they do events here sometimes as many students are from Arizona or land here after graduation), but it was a lot of older alumni and their families and it was held in an open-air suite and the lack of sun and the wind that was coming through there made it really chilly, so we spent some time on the deck before finding seats in the sun behind home plate to enjoy the rest of the game.

Spring training brings in a lot of visitors, but I think it’s something I tend to take for granted and miss out on, so I’m glad I got to at least one game this season!

On Monday, I had to work in the morning, but I left at about lunch time and took Amy to Old Town Scottsdale for some wedding dress trying on fun with my newly engaged guest!

When I have visitors, I suddenly think of twenty places we HAVE to go to eat, so it felt like we were eating all weekend long, but we were eating well!  We hit Postino for bruschetta, La Grande Orange for wine from their grocery enjoyed at the picnic benches outside with my St. Patrick’s Day Run friend back in town with her boyfriend for the wedding, Local Bistro for some fantastic risotto and Salty Senorita for mid-day margaritas and Mexican food on their sunny patio.
It was a pretty grand mini-spring break and I have another three-day weekend coming right up to enjoy the spring weather in Arizona!

Kick it!

I love the city I live in.  Sure, I miss Thousand Oaks sometimes, lust after Seattle and currently am dreaming of Charleston, but nearly every day I find myself having a “wow, I really love Scottsdale” moment, usually because of the breathtaking views, the sheer amount of things to do and see and places to go or just the energy of the area.

Golf courses, mountains, desert...that's us!

 I had a love-this-city moment over the weekend when I found myself at a kickball tournament sponsored by Scottsdale Healthcare and their new Fit City Scottsdale program.

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, I was just filling in as a token female to help balance a team, but I found out about the program when I got there and think it’s pretty cool!  I can pretty much get excited about anything that’s getting up and moving and encouraging others do the same.

On Saturday, my whole plan was to get up and move and show that being active and being good at kickball are not actually related – my “recruiter” technically never asked if I could play before we even got to the field!  The first time I got on base was because I was pegged in the ear by the other team’s pitcher, so I think I proved my point.

I did get better as the day progressed and the team did better than I think any of us expected and we ended up with second place…although with a little grumbling about sportsmanship and the spirit of the tournament, my whole team would tell you we won!

It was fun to do something out of the ordinary and my muscles definitely felt the effects of the different movement the next day (okay, and the day after).  Oh, and yeah, we play kickball in January in Scottsdale.  It was high 70s all weekend!

My Glorious Return to Hiking

I haven’t been hiking since…oh this day.  That’s nearly nine months!  The weather has been absolutely perfect for a hike at any time of the day recently, so on Saturday I finally took advantage of it and hiked Pinnacle Peak – a four-mile back-and-forth, up-and-down trail – in North Scottsdale (although it ended up as more of a challenging trail run, which was just what I needed to kick off the weekend).  

About halfway through, I thought, “oh boy, I’m in trouble.”  Not because I was pooping out, but because I was remembering how much I love hiking!  There are more activities I enjoy than time and space on my training schedule! #singlewhitegirlproblems

Beyond getting an amazing view of the Valley and getting out to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful weather, I love hiking because it works random muscles that I don’t necessarily hit in my regular routine, so I was definitely feeling it!  On Sunday, my yoga class had a sub who focused on quad stretches and hip openers.  For that 75 minutes, she was my new best friend!

I took this picture of the trail and mountain when I went back yesterday for a pre-turkey sweat sesh.  My family went hiking every Thanksgiving morning when I was growing up and I’m pretty sure I complained the whole time…little did I know I’d be continuing the tradition by choice eventually!

A New Perspective

After my first yoga class, I felt refreshed and like I was seeing things differently. Maybe that’s why I fell in fast love with it. Every now and then I still find a new perspective during or after a good session.

You never know when this inspiration is going to strike, so I love trying new venues and instructors.  I’ve wanted to get to a lululemon community class for a while, but never got around to it until last week. And wouldn’t you know it?! I can’t believe I’ve missed out for so long!

Many lulu locations offer Sunday morning in-store classes, but the lululemon at the Scottsdale Quarter partners with the W Hotel in Old Town for a yoga series on Thursday nights. The fall series is hosted on the pool’s sky deck.  It’s an hour-long session that starts at 6pm after the sun is behind the buildings and when the temperature is so perfect that you don’t even notice it one way or the other.

Yoga al fresco was pretty great.  No checking your poses in mirrors, just feeling them. My down dog had me looking up at a combination of the sky and color-changing lighted art around the deck.  Quite literally, a new perspective…something I need lately to transfer to my life in more figurative ways. 

Also, there was singing and dancing.  This is not your mother’s yoga class.  I think we forget to be silly and get outside of ourselves every so often, so it was a welcome exercise.

The fall series ends tonight, but I overheard last week that they might come up with something again soon and I certainly hope they do!