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Posts tagged ‘Oregon’

A new PR in PDX: Part II


So I mentioned how Sam and I made our way to the expo with a very expensive cab ride. We wanted to get out of the cab so bad, as to not incur any more charges, that when the cabbie asked us where we wanted to be dropped off we said “here!” the moment we could get out of the car. That’s how we ended up in a different expo hall that we should have been.

A gun and knife expo. This was definitely uncharted territory for me.

I was confused. Sam was interested. But it cost $10 to attend. If it hadn’t of cost anything and if we had not just taken a $40 cab ride, I bet we would have gone. I could have at least taken a lot of photos for my husband.

“Where is the runner’s expo?” Sam asked a very nice security guard. He smiled, because he’d obviously been asked the question numerous times during the day. He pointed us out another door and through the parking lot.

The hall for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon’s expo was far larger than the smaller one we’d walked into. We were greeted by cheerleaders. Very happy, jumping-up-and-down-type cheerleaders. The good thing about Rock ‘n’ Roll expos is that they are well-oiled machines. There is little or no deviation from one to the next, outside of the addition of one of two things here and there.


The nice thing is that it means you can usually get through the main check-in area pretty quickly. Sam and I were done picking up our numbers in about five minutes. We were also given “Run Now” bracelets in honor of the Boston Marathon. We headed over and grabbed our race shirts, which were a nice gray color that kind of matched the weather conditions.


I’ve noticed that the race shirts for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races have started to be a lot nicer. I actually want to wear them now as opposed to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race I ran where I was handed a unisex shirt that was basically way to big for me to even bother taking out of my closet.

I particularly like this one and one from the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon last year. My Pasadena one is kind of so-so in terms of design, but it’s red so I like wearing it when I run in the evenings.

As with all the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos, you exit the main check in area and then go right into the Brooks-sponsored merchandise. Sam normally HATES this part. It’s all overpriced and, since we already got a race shirt, it’s usually full of things we absolutely don’t need.

That said, something was different about this race expo.

The moment we walked in, we noticed a strange carnival-style set up.


Brooks had a huge area dedicated to its “Cavalcade of Curiosities.” To say we were curious would be an understatement. We kind of stopped right in the middle of the expo and tried to figure out exactly what we were looking at. In all our previous Rock ‘n’ Roll experiences, we’d never stumbled upon anything this grand in the merchandise area.

A guy handed us two cards to fill out, which we did, and then told us to head to the prize area and see if we won something. Everyone was guaranteed a prize, he added. Plus, after the noon “show” we could stick around to see if we’d won a pair of Brooks shoes.

Sure enough, we walked over to the booth and handed our tickets over to a Brooks representative, and were each given a prize. Sam won a red T-shirt. I got a Brooks Run Happy bandana.

It was nearing noon, so we stuck around for the “show” not really knowing what it was.

It was pretty amazing.

That’s my edited version of the 15-minute show that was part fun, part marketing pull for Brooks shoes. My trail shoes are Brooks. I run, primarily, in Nikes. The one time I switched to something else, I tore up my feet. I never broke my pair of Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes in. I ended up giving them to my mom instead.

So I wasn’t convinced. Sam wanted to check out the Brooks, though. So we did.


It was around this point Sam declared this the “best race expo ever.” She even looked up where the “Cavalcade of Curiosities” traveled to. Not one stop was in California. That was surprising if only because California hosts a lot of races, including many Rock ‘n’ Roll races.

One thing we both had done was a gait analysis. I wish the video that was sent to my email worked, but it doesn’t. The Brooks representative had be run barefoot on a treadmill. I’m a overpronator. That’s why I’ve always run in stability shoes. My stability shoes started out exactly as they sound, kind of clunky with a big sole. When Nike moved into the Lunarlon padding and discontinued my Nike Equalon’s, they also moved into prettier shoes.

All that said, I now see how I overpronate thanks to the analysis. My right ankle bows out a little when I run. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable.

See how jam-packed this expo was? We weren’t even out of the Brooks main merchandise area yet!

When we decided to leave the area, we came across the the Brooks fortune teller. She told our running fortunes for the next day.

In total, we spent more than an hour in that one area alone. When we finally got out to the main merchandise floor, Sam and I even purchased lightweight running tank-tops with the race name on them.

The rest of the expo was just as filled. Our stops included numerous food vendors, including getting free regular-sized Chobani yogurt samples, and finding other runner knick-knacks along the way. Sam recently got a new phone that doesn’t fit inside her Nike water belt. So she found a new belt that expands to probably 10 times its size from the Hippie Runner booth.


This was also a more densely-packed expo than we were used to as well. Sam always tries to get in the tape line, to get her knee taped, but it’s usually ridiculously long. Even with only 10 people or so, it ALWAYS takes forever. Sam, like me, is impatient when it comes to that stuff. So she got out of line.

While she was in that line, I was in another one. But mine went by quickly because I was waiting for Kara Goucher to sign my race bib. You know how fast she is when she runs? She’s also that fast signing bibs. And that’s not to say she didn’t spend time with me. She signed bibs or other race items, then took photos with nearly everyone.


Because Kara Goucher is amazing. And I’m pretty sure her signing my bib made me a better runner during the race. At least it propelled me to do my best.

After more than two hours at the expo, we decided to call it a day and hit the train into downtown Portland where Sam had booked a hotel for herself when she registered. I’m thankful she let me crash with her and I didn’t have to get my own hotel room.

Our trip on the Tri-Met was about 30 minutes. We got off at a street called “Couch” but pronouced “Cooch.” I’m pretty sure I nearly died laughing when I heard the train’s automated voice say that. (I know, pretty juvenile of me, but whatever. It WAS funny.)

We checked in and then headed down to Voodoo Doughnut for our first of three stops there where only one ended in us getting doughnuts. That will get its own blog post later on. By then, it was raining. And the rain just kept getting worse. And worse.

It was about that time we realized we were also very hungry, so we walked back up to the area near our hotel called the Pearl District (or at least that’s what many of the signs said). There we stopped first at a fun place called Lardo, but the menu was all sandwiches. Instead, we found ourselves in the bar area at Jake’s Grill Seafood Restaurant.

And we were starving, so much so that we both ordered an appetizer.


The bruschetta was just what I needed, despite the fact that the cheese didn’t really have any taste. I then ordered a $4.95 cheeseburger and fries. I have to say it was the best $5 meal I’d had in a long time, exactly what I needed.

I also had a margarita. And a mango mojito. Before a race. I was living dangerously.

After dinner, I made Sam head to a fancy cupcake shop. Because I’m all about the fancy cupcakes.

Outside of the fact that the staff completely ignored Sam when she was hoping to order to, the cupcakes were pretty good.


I ordered six cupcakes. Six. Probably because I’d had a couple drinks and was convinced it was a good idea at the time. It was, actually. But I kind of regretted it the next day when I had to take four of those cupcakes home to California. I was literally stuffing cupcakes in my Voodoo Doughnut box so I could limit my number of carry-on bags.


Confession: I was not a fan of the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But the butter cream frosted ones with sprinkles on them were amazing. I ate the last one yesterday. I tried to savor every bite.

Once we got back to our hotel, Sam was exhausted. She had an ear ache from the plane. The moment we got to downtown Portland we had to find her some antihistamines. By the time we were done with dinner, the pills were really starting to work.

That means we actually got into bed at an early hour. So early it was still light outside, which my husband said is because we were in the Pacific Northwest. It was about 9 p.m. when I decided to turn in too, because I was feeling the impacts of a long travel day too.

Surprisingly, we both slept well. And were ready to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning to Rock ‘n’ Roll our way through Portland.

A new PR in PDX: Part I


The trip to Portland marked a lot of firsts for me — specifically it was my first time in another state for a race. It was also the first time I flew to run. It was the first time I took a cab (that cost a ridiculous $40 to an expo). The first time I walked to a race start (and back). That’s a partial list.

There are a lot of races in California. Included in that are a lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll races. But my running buddy Sam, who I’ve done seven half marathons with, bought the Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour Pass this year. She’s getting her money out of it too. She had this race on her schedule. I was considering it, but then backed out after I left my full-time job in January.

Then she told me about an awesome deal on air fare. And I booked my trip. Simple as that. I wanted to run. And I wanted to run out of state for once too.

We’d talked about it for the two months we knew we were going. When the day came, I don’t think either of us could contain our excitement. And yes, I was more excited than anxious for once in my life.

For that reason, I’m doing something I don’t normally do — I’m splitting my race report into three sections. This post will cover the travel to Portland. The next will be the expo (because it included a lot of things that made it deserving of it’s own report). The last will be the actual race.

There will also be a lot of photos.

She picked me up bright and early to head to Oakland International Airport on Saturday morning.


Bay Area traffic is rarely bad on weekends. At 7 a.m. it moves along nicely. After a quick stop along the way, we got to the airport with a lot of time to spare and chill for a bit.

Security wasn’t even that bad.


I always wonder how many people actually check in at the desks at airports these days. Especially for quick flights. We had carry-on baggage, so we didn’t need to bother. I think when we walked into the airport there were only about 50 other people around. The line to get scanned and checked was about 15 minutes.

Lucky me, I was selected for a pat-down on my left side.

By 8:50 a.m. we were boarding for our 9:15 a.m. flight. Another first for me — I had never boarded a plane on the tarmac. It was so bizarre walking down the connector and then going outside, down a ramp and then boarding the plane via another ramp.

The small plane was packed full of people. I don’t think there was one seat empty. Sam and I, even though we bought our tickets at different times, were lucky enough to be able to sit together.


Everyone needs an excited plane selfie, right? We settled down for the nearly two hour flight with a couple magazines and good conversation. That included making sure we were up-to-date on the appropriate way to escape the airplane just in case of emergency.

I guess I’m a little strange. I read these every time I get on a plane.


One picture showed how not to drop a suitcase on another passenger’s head. Apparently some people need to be told that.

Since we were flying north, I was able to snap some amazing photos of San Francisco. I’m always amazed that the seven-by-seven block that is the city can be covered in a marathon (which I’ll be running now in less than a month if my IT band doesn’t act up).


I always love how it can be cloudy in some parts of the Bay Area and then bright and sunny in others. When I live in Oakland and went to school in Berkeley I used to love climbing to the top of campus and looking down at the vast puzzle that was the Bay Area.


I loved this shot of part of the Golden Gate Bridge. You get a great view of Fort Mason and Golden Gate Park too.

I’d never flown Alaska Airlines before so I was a bit surprised when the drink and snack choices included beer and wine. Yes, even on a 9:15 a.m. flight. OK. I’m saying for the record that I’m not typically a lush. Not even close. I’m usually the designated driver, especially since I had my gallbladder removed.

But it was two days before my birthday. And I felt like I deserved some wine. Even though it was red wine, which I’m not usually a fan of. I’d like to think I wasn’t the only person on the plane opting for early wine.


Red wine, Biscoff cookies and a rumor-mill Hollywood magazine. I indulged myself a little. Maybe a lot. I had two other drinks during the day. For dinner, I ordered a margarita and a mojito. I’m not sorry. Not even close.

When we arrived in Portland, we were immediately greeted by cloudy skies.

I was warned to expect this. I was also sure when I checked the weather report it said clear skies this weekend.


This was before we landed in Portland proper. I kept marveling at how green Oregon is. I know that California has pockets when it’s lush and green, but we’ve suffered from a severe lack of rain this year. We had a little a couple weeks back, but the span of ranges between where I live and San Francisco is still mostly brown.

Oregon was all green.


I knew, as soon as we went through the clouds and down into Portland, that one of us should have brought an umbrella.


Fun fact: At PDX passengers are allowed to embark the plane from the back and front. That rocked for Sam and I since we were in seats 17A and 17B. No waiting! In this photo, you can also see the ominous rain clouds. And puddles on the ground.

Unlike the Bay Area, that wasn’t a fog layer. Those were rain clouds. I ran a very hard California International Marathon in the ran. For 18 miles it poured and poured. I was hoping (and saying a silent prayer) that I wouldn’t have to do the same for my first out-of-state race.

It didn’t take long for us to pick up our belongings and head out to the terminal.


PDX is an incredibly nice and easy to get to airport. And right when you get by the security entrance there’s a Nike store. (There was also a guy waiting with a Nike sign and a name, which was pretty cool too see.) I didn’t partake in the Nike store, since we were heading to the expo.


Next thing you know we were heading to a cab en route to the expo. What we didn’t know was that the cab ride would cost us $40 because the cabbie decided to go out of his way and make the trip longer than it should have been. (You live and learn, right?)

The best part is that we didn’t initially walk into the expo we were supposed to be at. Instead, we walked into a knife and gun show…

A late addition to the racing calendar

As of Monday, this is happening:


Yes. I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon. It’s the day before my 29th birthday. I’m considering this my birthday present to myself, kind of a big celebration to welcome my last year in my twenties.

I’m heading up with my running buddy Sam. I’m crashing in her room. I’m going to keep costs down by being as frugal as possible while there, but certain things will happen. Voodoo Donut will happen for sure.

I’m excited. This will be my first race out of state. And, surprisingly, I’ve never been to Oregon. I’ve been to Seattle, but that was a long time ago. I haven’t been out of state since we went to New York a couple years ago.

My husband is stoked because it means he’ll have quite a few nights without me in upcoming months. I’m taking my students to a journalism conference in April. Then there’s this. I have his blessing to have a good time.

I think I’m more excited about this race than I am about any other coming up. It is sure to be a good time! Look forward to running PDX!