Saturday, December 9, 2017

No. 48

No. 48 was Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander:
I read Alexander's previous series set in Ashland. This is the first in her new series set in Leavenworth, Wash.

I ended up with a free evening and cuddled up in front of the Christmas tree and fireplace to finish this one :)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Columbia Gorge Half Marathon (10/22/17)

I'm very goal oriented. I do OK at self motivation, but if I give myself an outside goal (and a little competition), I really excel. That's one reason I love to race - because it gives me structure and motivation to get out and run!

I sought a fall half marathon to get me through the summer months and chose the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon on Oct. 22 in Hood River. It was described as gorgeous fall scenery and very hilly. Yep! Definitely lived up to its reputation.

Since it was a stormy weekend, and the forecast threatened mass amounts of rain, I was prepared for a very wet (but not too cold) race. But Brad and I arrived in Hood River to this:

NICE! It ended up being dry the entire race :)

The start was right next to the river. Not a bad place to hang out:

There was a huge tent set up at the start/finish, which would have been a lifesaver had the rains arrived. Still, it was nice to be inside and then step out to the start line (literally just to my left in this picture)
Parking would have been ample (and right next to the starting area), but the storm flooded the gravel lot, severely limiting available spots. Since we were coming from Portland, we arrived nice and early and grabbed a spot out of the huge puddles.

Inside the tent were tons of snacks and places to sit. Outside were plenty of porta-potties. Lines got long but moved quickly.

The out-and-back course had some serious elevation gain - mostly uphill the whole first half. This prompted me to run hills over the summer, choosing hills I would normally avoid in my daily routes.
We started next to the river and headed east to the Scenic Columbia Highway trail.
The only really weird thing was the starting corrals. We were supposed to self-select our start time based on our predicted speed. Since it's very hilly, I hung back to a comfortable pace group. But they staggered the starts by 10 minutes! A minute or 2 would have been sufficient. I ended up starting about 20 minutes after the first gun. That was odd. I guess it was to keep from crowding the narrow(ish) course, but it was strange to wait so long to start.

Brad was along just to spectate and be my personal photographer. Too bad he missed me at the start :)
I could tell he didn't see me as I ran past :)
Because most of the miles were on the trail, there were very few spectators. But I knew Brad would be waiting at the turnaround in Mosier!
Here I come, zooming out of the tunnel and up the hill:
Not knowing what to expect from this course, I simply had the goal of running most of the hills. And I made it to the turnaround without walking!
I walked briefly to greet Brad and take a gel. Then I was off!
Another weird thing was the half relay option. A whole bunch of runners were waiting at the turnaround to START their race.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a hill after the turnaround, and without knowing the course and having great pacing (since I'm not used to racing hills like this), I struggled a bit. I had to take some extra walk breaks and ended up positive splitting the second half. (my time was slower in the second half than the first half) I had hoped to gain some time on the downhill return, but that wasn't in the cards this time.

Side note - the overall winner (A WOMAN!!!!) hit exact even splits. But the next three runners all positive split, too. In looking at the results, many people were in the same pacing boat as me :)

Check out this view:
This really was a gorgeous course!
Brad was waiting as I kicked as hard as I could across the finish (I didn't have much kick left!):
My official time was 2:09:10 - a 9:52 average. My first half was 1:03:10 (9:39 average) - second half was 1:05:59 (10:04 average).
I'm disappointed that I couldn't translate those downhills into fast numbers, but I'm happy that I ran a very strong hilly first half! I was 332 out of 1,002 overall, 39th of 199 in my age place, and 177 of 713 for all females. 

I would definitely recommend this race! But work on your hills :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nos. 45, 46, 47

Sheila Connolly's Orchard Mysteries are great on audio book! I listened to these while doing yard work and chores and while running!

No. 45 - Rotten to the Core:
No. 46 - Dead Cold Brew:
No. 47 - On What Grounds:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ashes and licorice ice cream

The McKee side of the family said goodbye to Grandpa this fall. Most of us gathered in Depoe Bay to scatter his and Grandma's ashes in the ocean, sending them off to Hawaii :)

My life-long fear of water kept me on the shore while the rest of the fam boarded Samson for a short trip into the ocean:

After spreading the ashes, we all hung out in the candy shops and ate caramel corn and taffy! Then we had a wonderful catered meal at Side Door Cafe in nearby Glen Eden. It was a good time of food and fellowship with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Then some of us returned to an ice cream shop for black licorice ice cream. We thought we were partaking because it was Grandpa's favorite. But it's actually Dad and Uncle John's favorite! We had a good laugh over that... and our black tongues!
It was actually pretty good!

I'm thankful for this special family time :)

Monday, December 4, 2017


Since the house is now decorated for Christmas... time to look back at Turkey Feast 2017!

Eryn and I do a lot of prep - including a big shopping trip to New Seasons and Winco:
But it's all worth it when friends gather for yummy food!
We kept it small again this year, and it was wonderful :)
Good food and good times :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

No. 44

No. 44 was another audio book, consumed while doing chores, driving, and running.

Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle: