Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Run Vegan Run Columbia Gorge

I did it! I ran the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon and finished. Not only did I finish, but I finished with a better time than anticipated. Even my split time suggested I would finish around the 2:08/2:10 mark because my split time was 1:04. That was the last time I looked at my watch because I was completely focused on the task before me. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

I woke at 7:00 to a dark and rainy morning. When I peeked through the curtains of our hotel room, I saw pelting rain and the big Oregon trees swaying in the wind. It was confirmed that it would be a wet day to run. I tried to stay positive, hoping for a break in the weather.

I had my gluten free brownie from Sweetpea bakery, and made some tea. The brownie was really filling. I was probably still full from our feast the night before at Portabello in Portland. I changed into my running clothes and pinned my number to my long sleeve shirt. Then, I went to reception to see about a late check out. We thought we'd probably need an extra hour to make it back to the hotel from Hood River (20 minute drive), and for me to shower after my run. The woman who checked us in Friday night said we would have to ask the day of the race and that it shouldn't be a problem. She changed her story that morning, and told me that she had already given away their limit of 5 late check-outs! I was so pissed, but too tired and too concerned about my run to bother with her. db then went down to reason with her, but she wasn't budging. I can't believe she told me (with a smile) on Friday night that it shouldn't be a problem, and then Sunday told me (without a smile) that I was S.O.L. (well not those words exactly). I mean how many people are checking in on a Sunday afternoon in Cascade Locks, Oregon? Seriously!

Anywho...I pushed that out of my mind and focused on the run. We checked out around 8:15 or so and drove to Hood River. The rain was letting up. The closer we got to Hood River, the better it looked. The sky was still cloudy, but the rain had stopped, and there was even a double rainbow over the Columbia River; it was quite beautiful out.
missed the shot of the double rainbow, but this was lovely.

I did my usual "should I get in the continually growing line up for the porta-potties, or wait until the first aid station?" I walked around trying to figure out what to do. There wouldn't be time for a warm-up so I got into the long line joining the rest of the anxious runners. Everyone is always so friendly and chatty. I love races for that reason.

The start line was on a grassy lawn that faced the marina. We would run across the grass to a wide trail that went to the water and then loop back before heading into town. I kissed db for luck, and got into line.
 The frontrunners -- I'm obviously not in that group.

The gun went off and we all shuffled through the gate adjusting our clothes, earphones, and gaits. Not two minutes into the run, just as we reached the water where we began to turn towards the town, the sky opened up and pelted us with rain. I thought it was hale for a second because it was so strong, but no it was just hard pelting rain. Two minutes into my run and I was dripping wet, my feet squishy, but I laughed because that's all you can do and besides I was with a group of people who were all going through the same thing together.

The first hurdle was the suspension bridge that swayed violently back and forth when it filled with runners. I had to stop and walk, swaying from side to side trying to hold on and move quickly at the same time (it doesn't work). I stumbled over the bridge and headed into town.

The first series of hills we had driven so I knew what to expect. They did level out a bit, and I felt fine running up the hills. I told myself that it was just like running up Heritage Mountain at home, and it really wasn't much different except that it twisted and turned. Before I knew it, I was at the first water station at the entrance to the trail that we would follow for the rest of the run. I left my long sleeve shirt at the water station because it was water-logged, and told a volunteer that I'd pick it up on my way back since the route is an out and back route. I had to remove my bib number and pin it to my sleeveless, but I managed. I carried my Vega Sport mix in hand and away I went.

The rest of the route was beautiful. There were several lookouts that viewed the Columbia River from different angles. The path was paved and tree lined with firs and big leaf maples that were golden yellow. The trail went up and down and twisted and turned. Some of the aid stations had bananas and orange slices, which was brilliant because I could just grab an orange slice for some quick energy and keep going. Near the turn around point we ran through a tunnel, which was very cool.

I turned and checked my watch: 1:04. I'd reach the finish around 2:08 or 2:10 as expected. Probably my slowest run ever, but considering the year I've had I would have been pretty happy to just finish.

After the turn around there was more descent that I expected. I still had several hills to climb, but there were longer descents so it was easier on my fatiguing body.  My achilles wasn't hurting and there was no calf pain; overall, I felt pretty good.

Unfortunately, I did see two runners turn around before reaching the official turn around point. They were cheating and that pissed me off. They were probably 1.5 km or so from the half way. I made a point of looking at their bib numbers as I ran passed them, because I did eventually catch them. They were obviously more fatigued than I was.

I reached that initial aid station and picked up my long sleeves before beginning the final long descent into town. I flew down that hill and into town. I typically start my kick too early, and this race proved to be no different. When I reached the suspension bridge again, I was toast, but I kept going and stayed focused. I crossed the grassy finish line to the sound of my name being called out and being thanked for coming down for the event...I checked my watch and realized that my stop watch had stopped a while ago, probably on my fast descent. db and I quickly found each other and he told me I had come in around 2 hours! The official time: 2:02!

 I look like the only runner out there, but there were many others. It's just a smaller race.

I couldn't belive it!  I did so much better than I ever thought possible for this race.

I hit the food tent and made us some bean tortillas with guacamole (best event food ever!), and then we headed to the car to get ready for our drive home.

I wanted to find the race officials and tell them about the cheaters, but db said that they were just cheating themselves and to not worry about it, so I let it go. No point it causing trouble when I was feeling so good.

The finisher medals they handed out were unique. Made by a local artist, I think it's the nicest finisher medal I have.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm in love.
Thank you: Food Fight, Herbivore, Sweetpea Bakery, Back to Eden Bakery, Red Bird Studio, Alberta Co-op Grocery, Pie Footwear, REI, Beermongers, and last but definitely not least Portabello (the best vegan restaurant I've ever been to, and I've been to a few. I was so excited about the food -- and so hungry -- I forgot to take pictures. Imagine though. We had cashew cheese stuffed pepadew peppers, portabello steak with whipped potatoes and swiss chard, semolina gnocchi with chanterelles and vegetable ragout -- db also had a Arrabiata pizza and finished it! -- then, the best part of the dinner was the raw chocolate cannoli stuffed with vanilla coconut cream filling. Oh my goodness it was amazing!).

I had an amazing time.

Tomorrow morning I'm running the Columbia Gorge and I cannot wait. It's uphill for at least the first three kilometers, but it levels out after that.'s going to be fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whoville to Cascade Locks

We made it. Cascade Locks looks like it's really beautiful, but because we arrived at night it's difficult to tell how beautiful.

The drive down was a little busy. The border crossing was a two hour wait. I thought it might be an hour, but alas no, we waited two hours. After that long wait, it seemed like no time at all to reach Seattle. Of course the approach to Seattle and leaving Seattle was crazy busy with traffic. It was bumper to bumper for a few hours of travel. Our expected time on the GPS kept getting longer and longer as the day went on. Oh well.

Instead of driving straight to our hotel to drop our stuff and then head to Portland for dinner, we had to change our plans because the running store where I was to pick up my race kit was closing at 7 pm.  db reset the GPS, and our route said our arrival time would be 6:40 pm (this was quite different from where we had started in the day -- 4 pm arrival time). We were close, so close to reaching our destination, but I desperately needed a bathroom break. I always try to keep well hydrated before a run and had been drinking water all day so I needed to stop. We took the next exit to a gas station, and pulled over. It took us no time at all to get back on the freeway, and we were moving closer to the running store. There were a few wrong turns, but we finally found our way into this cute, happening neighbourhood in the northwest. The street was narrow and tree-lined with beautiful old buildings that have been turned into businesses. There were lots of restaurants, and cafes, and the street was humming with activity. I parked and we hopped out of the car and then...db couldn't find his wallet. Ahhhh! We decided that I would run into the the running store to pick up my race kit and then we'd drive back to the gas station where we made our pit stop.

The running store looked amazing, but I only had time to grab my kit and go. I ran back to the car to find db searching every corner of the car. My mind was racing. We'd have to cancel credit cards, take out cash to pay for everything, and get all of db's ID replaced. Ahhhh! I got back into the drivers side and sought around. I found it! I was so relieved to feel that George Costanza sized wallet wedged between the door and the seat. db was so relieved.  We caught our breath.

db found a new route for us to take us to dinner at HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery). We found it online at the Veg Portland website. It's so nice to let the server know that you're vegan and they totally get it. We didn't have to define vegan. A regular pub menu, and veganizing items is listed as an option. Welcome to Portland. I love it so far. HUB's beer is organic and delicious. We ordered a couple of beer while we waited for a table in the brew pub that was much, much larger than I expected, and it was packed.  Sorry there are no photos, but I was so tired that by the time I remembered photos we were heading back to the car.

We drove out of Portland, and here we are in Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. I can't wait to actually see it all tomorrow! I didn't bring my plug to add photos to the computer, so I'll have to post photos once I get home.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Free stuff

This is my pick of the day from the free listing on craigslist. This listing is almost poetic with it's line breaks. Haha! I really liked the pictures as well.

"A used pink plastic colander.

Handy when rinsing rice.

Made in Japan.

Withstands high and low temperatures, 120ºC to -20ºC.

Pick up only, please."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The New Job

No, I haven't changed jobs, but my job is moving. Our location is moving to a new beautiful space. We're expanding from about 250 square feet to 2300 square feet. It's a big move for us.

The new space is in a beautiful older building with exposed brick walls inside , hardwood floors (although they've got an iffy looking dark stain on them), and the lower level has exposed rock with a deep cement ledge that runs the length of the space that we can use for display, or books or whatever. With the store having two levels, the food, including a vegan deli with sweet and savory treats, will be on the lower level and the clothing, shoes, bags, wallets, make-up etc will be on the main level.

With this expansion, I've been offered a position in the company with more responsibility and to be in charge of any new staff we hire, inventory, plus all of the other things I take care of now.

Initially, the job offer wasn't quite what I wanted. They originally offered me to be in charge of managing the deli and handling all of the food prep (very minimal), service etc. This worried me because I don't really want to be food service gal. I was also worried that I'd be spending too much time in the basement, which would make me squirrelly.

I met with the owners and we revised the position so that we could both be happy. I think we've reached a good compromise. I'll do three days a week food prep, and two days a week upstairs. Of course, the nature of the job really requires me to be all over the store since I'll be handling inventory as well, but I didn't want to be pigeon-holed into one area. I'll also be helping out with the growth of the wholesale area of the business, and that really interests me.

The manager and I have been going through resumes and interviewing people for a couple of part-time positions since we'll need staff to cover the times that either one of us can't be there. One of us will always open or close, but we definitely need more staff to help out. The interviewing process is a new thing for me. Trying to figure out who is the best person for the job is not an easy task, and at first I was uncomfortable knowing that I'd have to help make a decision, but as the interviews continue I'm gaining confidence and am finding it easier to make a decision. I think we're close. We had three more interviews today (Monday), and I'm just checking references.

So I think it's going to be a little hectic in the next few weeks. We're aiming to be open in the new space the first week of November.

Portland will be a nice little diversion next weekend.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Run Vegan Run

Sunday, October 10.

I had a big run planned as in: this is the big run before the actual big running event next weekend in Hood River, Oregon. I was a little nervous because aren't we all nervous before a test?

I did everything I usually do before a long run: ate well the night before (no alcohol), got a good night's rest, got up two hours before my run to have a substantial breakfast (not too much, but good nutrient dense food -- as Brendan Brazier would say -- to sustain my run).

Running map is a website where I usually map out a route to match the distance that I need to go. The scheduled run for the morning was 17 k. I started to map out a route, but because I prefer to go out and make it up as I go along, I scrapped the running map ideas and went with a run that could take me where I'd like to go. The important thing was to run somewhere around the 2 hour mark.

You have to understand that since the pneumonia silliness, and the time off due to my Achilles injury that my running pace has slowed quite a bit. Normally, I would be able to know exactly how far I've run by simply knowing the time I've run, but recently my pace has slowed considerably so I'm not quite sure how long it takes me to run a km anymore. It's varied lately, and I've done a lot of running at the gym without measuring distance so I'm running in the dark, so to speak.

I loaded my water bottle with my Vega sport drink and set out. I do hate carrying a water bottle, but it's essential for the long run.

 It was sunny and just the right running temperature.  I started out slow, holding back my pace knowing I'd need it in the middle of my run. I felt good. I ran towards the Pitt River area, taking a nice back route that weaves through lots of little streets. I reached the DeBoville Slough and ran about 400 meters of the trail before I realized that I really should be heading towards home. There are some nice park trails in that area that are quite flat so I ran that circuit, and then hit my wall at around the 1 h 20 mark (note to self: good time to have a few medjool dates, or a whole food energy bar on me for the actual event. Quick energy). I struggled a bit, took a two minute walk break, and fought through it. Before I knew it, I was back to my rhythm and maintaining a good pace.

Along the route, I decided to run to the Whoville central station where all of the city buses converge, and then I could hop on a bus to avoid the hill home, but by the time I reached the station, I was worried that I probably hadn't run far enough and I wanted to keep going to be sure that I ran 17 k.

I was getting close to home, but would still need to catch the bus. I stopped on one of the trails that runs along Scott Creek and felt that I was finished. When I checked my watch and it said 2:07, I knew I was finished, and had definitely covered the 17 k. I called db to give him the heads up, and he offered to pick me up so I wouldn't have to endure the long, long, oh so long walk up the hill.

Once at home, I mapped my run that revealed I had gone over the 17k, and had actually run just over 20k!  20k is almost the half marathon distance (21.3k). Hmmm. The funny thing was that I really wanted to keep going on my run, but I was afraid of overdoing it. At least I can be sure that I'll be able to go the distance. I'm definitely excited now!

Columbia Gorge in 8 days!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Toad Lily

I adore lilies. I wish I could have more in my garden, but with the rainforest bordering the yard, and more hours of shade than sun, I'm limited to what I can plant. However, that doesn't stop me from trying.

Toad lilies are shade tolerant, and they bloom in the fall when all of the summer lilies are long gone except for their stems. They are the brightest flower in the garden right now (well...the black-eyed Susan is still going strong, but it's not nearly as sweet as the toad lilies).

Shrooming on Thanksliving

We decided that we would put together a Thanksgiving meal (or as I'm calling it Thanksliving) since the flavours of the season are in abundance. In our fresh box (organic produce delivery) we received fresh cranberries, brussel sprouts, and parsnips. So we thought, lets just pick up a Tofurky and make it official, but we would need some mushroom gravy, and some fresh mushrooms for it.

We headed into the woods, and went to our usual spot to find some chanterelles, but they weren't as abundant as we've seen them before, and we have already picked in that area; however, we did find some. db found most of them actually because I was busy taking pictures of all of the other mushrooms I was spotting. So there are no chanterelle pictures here, but all the other mushrooms that are a mystery to me.

 These are absolutely everywhere right now. I haven't identified them...yet.

 I'd really like to know what these are. They seem so unusual to me because of the underside.
 And this is the forest where all of those mushrooms were spotted.