A couple seeking a cure for the travel bug

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hitting Reset


Well, it's been a while. In fact, it's been well over a month since I've even thought about touching this blog. To say we've been busy would be an understatement. Since early August, our schedule went from zero to sixty, we've had multiple visits from family members in South Dakota, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, we've celebrated Casey's 30th birthday and we've covered more miles than you can count. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but we're exhausted.

South Dakota

Hotel room birthday decor - a beer-day cake!

Casey's brother surprised him in LA for the big
3-0! Thanks, Andy! 

Casey's birthday celebration continues...
a quick stop in Vegas to meet up with his parents and see the show, Absinthe.
Thank you, T&C! 


CO adventures - follow along in real time on IG:
@jlcox6 or @cagarms

There are so many blogs I've wanted to write re: making the Oiselle Volée Team, adventures in S. Dakota, Colorado, Casey's birthday celebration in California, race recaps, #TourLife - What We Do For A Living, etc. (for a terribly outdated version click here) but the thought of using any ounce of potential "free time" sitting in front of a computer was quickly nixed without an ounce of guilt.

Now, we are back in Southern California and we only have three months left on our current tour. In three months, we'll only bounce between three regions: Southern California, Northern California and Las Vegas (yes, I'm considering Sin City a region) which means we'll have less travel (less travel compared to our usual excursions across the country) and more free time. Our schedule is slowly winding down, and now it's time to hit reset after an adventurous, jam-packed, few months.

The CTRL + ALT + DELETE buttons of life have been pressed and it's time to buckle down and reorganize. Here's a few things I will be focusing on...

Training for CIM
I have come to realize that touring and training for a marathon is nearly impossible. But, now that we are going to have much more free time (I say that loosely) it's time to nail the bull's eye and prove myself wrong. I will be squeezing in as many half marathons as I can prior to work events (yes, I run a race, shower and then head off to work - not complaining, I actually thrive off of this) and focusing once again on building more muscle, all while following my curiosity of trail running. Also, being a part of a team makes you want to better yourself and inspire others. It puts a little bit of pressure on your shoulders, and that's exactly what I need right now to motivate myself on the road. As part of the Oiselle Team, I want to be a better, faster and most importantly a much stronger runner. I've had two bonked marathons due to injuries and dehydration overall poor planning - it's time to focus (which is always hard for me to do) and make this training cycle...this race...a good one. This train has fallen off the tracks and it's time to get back on for a smooth ride into my final destination...the California International Marathon.


Blogging
I have said many times that blogging is pretty much last on my list of priorities. You can probably tell, since I've been pretty terrible at it. Sometimes, I don't even know why I blog - who really cares what I have to say? Plus, I can't stand to waste any time in front of a computer. But, it is nice to have a record of our travels (when I can post them in a timely manner) and a record of my workouts. With that said, I hope to revive my weekly mileage posts starting with Sept. 15-22.

Cross Training | Training | Running in General
Every morning I wake up before Casey. I lie in bed usually for an hour or so because once he hears me stir, he's awake and there's no turning back. Therefore, I never get up early to workout because I feel guilty waking him up. He honestly doesn't care and he's told me he'd be able to fall back asleep, but I can't shake the guilt. We also share a vehicle on tour, and I feel bad if I take it for the day to go running or do something I want to do instead of something we want to do. Well, it's time to get over it. These next three months, I have to be somewhat selfish if I want to obtain the goals I want to achieve. I will be scheduling more races, I will be spending more time outside and I will be setting my alarm for morning workouts (sorry, Case!).

Nutrition - A New Discipline; 31 Days Alcohol Free
In 2013, I was injured for 7 months and shed many unnecessary tears because I couldn't run. I needed a challenge and something to take my mind off of not being able to lace up, so I tried to become a vegetarian for 31 days. After doing a lot of research, this BBQ-lovin' St. Louis gal not only made it 31 days but I extended it to a year. Now over a year later, I am still a vegetarian. It was a hard challenge - one that took a lot of discipline and now I'm ready for a new one. In a era of instant gratification, I think it's important to practice self-discipline/personal growth. To me, it's a practice of making better decisions, connecting with yourself, and remembering that YOU can choose to do whatever you want to do in this life. Our time on Earth is much too short, just remember that it's YOU who decides how you want to spend it and you can make anything happen if YOU put your mind to it (i.e. like quitting your full-time jobs and becoming contractors in order to travel). My next challenge (even harder than giving up meat) is giving up alcohol for 31 days. It sounds silly, but it's going to be really hard. We're social people and when we meet up with friends/family in the various cities we travel to, it's usually over a couple of cold ones or a glass of vino. Plus, we always love to try new craft brews during our travels. But, as mentioned I want to focus on running and this training cycle which is currently of most importance. My body feels ragged from our travels over the past two months and I just want to rid it of toxins and give it a fresh new start. From September 11-October 11, not an ounce of alcohol will be enjoyed. However, I can guarantee you this "discipline" will not last for a year.

Heal Sprained Ankle/Foot 
I sprained my ankle pretty bad on the way down from Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado (my first 14er!). It was kind of a freak accident with loose footing and I heard a pop which brought me to the ground and got my attention. In order to make sure I can accomplish a lot of my goals listed above, I need to make sure this puppy heals and heals quickly. I ran a trail half marathon and hiked Hanging Lake a couple days later which was a stupid decision, but it seems to be just a gnarly sprain. I'm able to put weight on it, it's just still a little swollen/bruised on the top right side of my ankle/foot. Injuries are frustrating to me, and most of the time I pretend like they're not there but this one, I have to be smart about and make sure it heals correctly. A lot of RICE is in my future this week...


FYI, Hanging Lake is so beautiful...

And, so is the summit of Mt. Bierstadt



Post-Tour Travels
As our contract comes to an end, we'll be taking at least 2-3 months off to spend time with families during the holidays and for personal travel. We tossed around the idea of a New Zealand/Australia trip, but a winter wouldn't be complete without some skiing in the Rockies. So, we just need to nail down an international trip and when we're going to be hitting the slopes before airline prices are through the roof and we're forced to choose one or the other. This is on the top of the "To-Do List."

Well, that's all I've got for now. It feels refreshing just to write this, to list my goals (sometimes they're not real until you tell everybody about them) and to be working towards said goals for the latter half of the year. For now, I just have to learn how to stay focused and keep at it.

I have to hit reset.


WHAT'S ONE OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2014? 

TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS? WHERE SHOULD WE GO? 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Things to do: Bend, Oregon




Since the Tunnel Marathon post, we've traveled from Sacramento to Eugene, OR, Portland to Seattle, Seattle to Bend, OR, until settling down for a few events in Carson City/Reno, NV. During our travel/off days we were able to swing a trip to Bend, Oregon for two nights. We were so stoked because it's a city we haven't been able to hit yet after 3.5 years on the road and we were finally able to make it happen. And let me tell you, it was love at first sight.

I imagined it to be similar to Asheville, North Carolina - beer, mountains, scenery and an active person's paradise. It's all of the above and more. Asheville quickly made my list of top 10 cities in the U.S. after our short trip last year, and Bend may have just trumped it. My first impression of Bend is that it's totally a cross between Asheville and Fort Collins, CO. All three are smaller cities with a lot to offer. I mean c'mon, beers + trails + water + mountains=what more do you need? Oh yeah, maybe a job.  But hey, one can only hope...

We were coming off our biggest weekend of the tour. We had our most successful event at the Bite of Seattle going through 721 bottles of wine in three days. Plus, our secondary vehicle (the one Casey and I drive on tour) was broken into and some of his belongings were stolen (all items that can be replaced). So as much as I wish I had more time in Bend to discover the trails and play outdoors, this trip was primarily hops-focused. It was our "weekend," and the clock was striking beer-thirty.

Casey booked a great hotel, close to town, making it easy for us to walk everywhere and cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. We love to walk when we're out and about (we never take our company vehicle to a bar/brewery) so 1-3 miles one-way is not far to us, so if that seems like a little much to you then I would suggest renting a bike. Of course, you can cruise around in your car to explore just leave the beer tastings off the itinerary.

Anyway, I digress (shocking). If you find yourself in Deschutes County for a trip to this magical town here are a few places to stay and things to do while you're there...
Note: I'm only speaking on behalf of our experiences, but I will add in a few other activities via the worldwide interwebs...

PLACES TO STAY

Fairfield Inn & Suites Bend Downtown | 1626 NW Wall St. | Bend, OR
We stick with the same two hotel chains, Marriott and Hilton, during our travels to rack up the rewards points so we chose this Marriott Property. Again, this is within walking distance to downtown Bend. Reasonably priced + free breakfast.

McMenamins - Old St. Francis School | 700 N.W. Bond St. | Bend, OR
Located downtown, Case and I stumbled across this mecca and couldn't believe what we were seeing. This compound is an old Catholic school house turned hotel, brewery, bakery, cigar bar, etc. It's crazy. We grabbed a beer and browsed their campus until we came across their patio where we enjoyed our cold brews by the fire. You almost have to see it to believe it.



COFFEE

Backporch Coffee Roasters | 1052 NW Newport Ave | Bend, OR
We stopped by Backporch on our way out of town because I had tried a local beer brewed with their coffee beans (chyeah!)...but more on that later...
This cute coffee shop is a perfect pick-me-up with popular pastries from Bend's Sparrow Bakery and they even sell hometown gal Lauren Fleshman's Picky Bars!




BREAKFAST 

CHOW | 1100 NW Newport Ave | Bend, OR
Just down the street from Backporch Roasters, is breakfast/brunch spot - CHOW. We sat outside on a perfect morning sipping coffee out of their homemade mugs staring at the pop art that adorns this place (side note: be sure to check out the bottom of your coffee mug-you'll see why). The service wasn't speedy, but they could have been short-staffed. Either way, it didn't really matter to us because we were enjoying ourselves and didn't have anywhere to be. They have some yummy homemade sauces - Casey's favorite was the green one which was some kind of green chili sauce. In retrospect, I wish I would have tried their infamous french toast versus the scramble I ordered (although both of our dishes were divine). Peep their photos/reviews on Yelp! and let me know your pick!





RUNNING STORE

FootZone | 845 NW Wall Street | Bend, OR | Hours: M-F 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. | Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
So, if you've followed me or read this blog long enough you know that throughout our travels, I love to stop by local running stores. Bend was no exception. Located in the heart of downtown (along with almost everything else) FootZone is a sick running shop. They had a killer selection of Oiselle (and other running apparel), running kicks, books, hydration vests, fuel, etc. Plus, they seem to be super involved in the community. I saw a gal in head-to-toe Oiselle with her dog in the store. How cool is that? Definitely worth a stop to stock up and shop local.

Tip: Check out their events calendar




BEER | BREWERIES | HOP HEAVEN

10 Barrel Brewing | 1135 NW Galveston Ave Bldg. A | Bend, OR
Awesome patio, good food, dog friendly and their sampler is 10-beers deep (3 oz pours). I tried their seasonal Swill while we were waiting for our table, but I wasn't a huge fan - it tasted like carbonated orange juice. If you like fruity beers, it will be right up your alley. Otherwise, my faves were: Paramount (#3 in the sampler), Apricot Crush (sour-#8) and their ESB (#9). I'm eager to hear which ones are your faves!





GoodLife Brewing Company | 70 SW Century Dr. | Bend, OR
Unfortunately it was raining during our visit to GoodLife so we didn't hang out in their incredible backyard, but we still had a blast. My tip: if the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day - go to GoodLife! You can't beat their outdoor space to hang with friends, drink cold brews and play some games or just relax. Our sweet bartender let us taste test a few of their beers before selecting a pint. I opted for their Nothing as it Seems-Coffee Blonde brewed with Backporch Coffee Roasters' coffee beans. Now, you're probably expecting the beer to be dark in color, but just like the name - nothing is quite as it seems. The beer smelled like coffee with a faint taste of your morning cup of joe, but it was golden in color and not too heavy. It was DELICIOUS. The crazy part is that I couldn't sleep that night...I still can't decide if that's because I can never shut my mind off or if there was a little kick in that [possibly] caffeinated brew? Either way, you should give it a little taste test yourself and make GoodLife a stop on your Bend-cation.




This truly is the GoodLife.

Deschutes Brewery Tour | 901 SW Simpson Ave | Bend, OR
New building. Same old beer tour. The beer is great, but there was nothing special about the brewery tour. I would skip it, and just head to the Deschutes Public House downtown for food and brews. Maybe it's just us, but Casey and I really dig breweries that spice up their tours and either have you sampling the beers during the tour or just offer something unique (New Belgium, Redhook, Highland Brew. Co, etc). Maybe, it's because we're in the experiential marketing/advertising business, but you want to stand out and offer your consumers an experience they'll never forget. There's only so many stainless steel tanks, bottling lines and barrels you can look at before getting bored. My favorite part about the nation's sixth most popular craft brewery were the  artworks from local artists used to determine the label for their winter seasonal. Rumor has it, the amount of snow depicted in the chosen piece of art may predict the kind of ski season/snow Bend will have. 

Deschutes faves: River Ale and Fresh Squeezed IPA. 
Tip: Reservations recommended for brewery tours. 




He loathes pictures.


This piece of artwork previously chosen for the Jubilee label is made entirely out of beeswax.


Deschutes Brewery & Public House | 1044 NW Bond St. | Bend, OR
This place gets slammed so arrive early. If bar seating is available, snag it. For my fellow vegetarians, they have a veggie burger and sweet potato fries awaiting you.


Signed by American decathlete and Olympic champion, Ashton Eaton!

The Bend Ale Trail
Just like Eugene, Bend has an Ale Trail. Pick up the brochure located at any of the breweries listed above or at your hotel for an awesome map of the local breweries.

There is one place I really wish we could have added to our brew tour list and that's Bend Brewing Company - the only brewery in Bend owned by a woman and brewed by a woman! Here's a great article on these two ladies from Brew Public. We walked by, but we're lightweights and didn't have enough room in our livers to accommodate.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES [These are not from experience but instead pulled from Trip Advisor, the internet, or seen via brochures in our hotel -- and yes, I still look at those. You should always peep the brochures - they usually contain coupons]. 

Also, Bend offers an endless list of outdoor adventures - these are just a few resources I pulled for a short trip. 

Wanderlust Tours 
Brews & Views canoe tours, kayaking tours, cave tours - you name it, they've pretty much got it. 

Deschutes River Trail 
Run on the Deschutes River Trail -maps available here


More Trail Running in Bend 

Crater Lake National Park
If you have plenty of time during your trip (say you're staying for 4-5 days) dedicate one day to Crater Lake National Park. It's about an hour and forty minute drive from Bend. 

Little Wing! 
And of course, if you're on the #oiselleteam or if you're a huge fan of Oiselle or elite athletes - keep your eyes peeled for the lovely ladies of Project Little Wing! 

BEND HAS SO MUCH TO OFFER - THIS IS JUST A TINY, TINY, GUIDE TO THIS AMAZING CITY. HAVE A BLAST ON YOUR TRIP TO BEND, OREGON. 
AS ALWAYS, FEEL FREE TO SEND ME MORE RECOMMENDATIONS AND TIPS DURING YOUR TRAVELS! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon 2014

ComerPhotos.com

Race: The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon
Date: Sunday, July 13, 2014
Start time: 8 a.m. 7:30 a.m. due to heat
Location: North Bend, WA
Course: Point-to-point downhill race from Hyak to North Bend on a scenic gravel rail-trail
Field Size: 400 runners
Price: $129 (that's with the race shirt) OR you can opt out of the race shirt and save $33.90

Some people say runners are crazy. I'm inclined to say those people are right. I think I have quite a few screws loose to think the following plan was a good one: 

On Friday, we worked the California State Fair from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Plus, we arrived early to train staff, get our footprint ready to go and we always stay after the event to close everything up for the night. So, we're looking at 12+ hours on our feet. 

Saturday, it was back to work the California State Fair and thanks to my company, Casey and Sal, I was able to fly to Washington to run a marathon I had previously committed to. Around 1 p.m. I requested an Uber X, hopped into the back seat of a Prius (in my work uniform) and made my way to Sacramento International Airport. Once I landed in Seattle, I grabbed my rental car and my lovely Enterprise rep reminded me that temps in Seattle were going to reach the 90s, which was a first since 2009.

Crazy is...
work + travel + marathon + travel + work in less than 24 hours

The Tunnel Marathon, Seattle for that matter, is known for its cool, almost perfect running temps in the midst of summer which made this an ideal race for me. Not this year. 

You see, my body has two things that sound the internal alarms. The kryptonite for this not so heroic body of mine: heat (especially dry desert heat) and vodka. The latter is unrelated to this report. 

I was worried about the temps, but my flights were booked, the money had already been shelled out and I was locked in. 

Plus, I had really been looking forward to this race (even though I thought I was no longer racing it, until work approved it about 3 weeks prior). It had a lot of my favorite things included, race day packet pick up being one of them, and a lot of quirky traits that lured me in. 

Just check out these stats:

-No race expo
-Only race day packet pick up
-Shirts with zero sponsors attached to them
-Race shirts were optional; meaning race registration was cheaper if you opted not to purchase the shirt
-Almost 2.5 miles of the race course went through an old abandoned railroad tunnel (Snoqualmie Tunnel). Flashlights and headlamps recommended, and this is where the race received it's name...because while you're in the pitch black tunnel you can see a faint light at the end of it. 
-Race caps at 400
-No spectators for the most part. I could count the amount I saw on two hands. 
-Point-to-point course; Hyak to Northbend, WA on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (trestle bridges included). A BEAUTIFUL and incredibly scenic gravel trail. 
-A gradual decline the entire race with only four turns, meaning it's a fast course and a great race to BQ. 
-LOTS of Marathon Maniacs.
-Race Director Brian Pendleton's sarcasm is hilarious (just check out some of descriptions on the website) and his organization is impeccable. 
-Even an opportunity to potentially see a bear!

What's not to love about this race?! Everything was right up my alley. No frills - just running with others that love to run, on the most breathtaking course I've ever been on.


Anyway, once I picked up my rental I headed towards Bellevue where I was staying. I was starving so I stopped at the Bellevue Brewing Company for pizza and beer, the ultimate carb-loading experience. I was a wimp and couldn't finish my sampler, but the Rye Ale, Scotch Ale and Medina Malt Liquor were my favorites and the food was delish. I used points, but if you run this race think about staying at the Residence Inn Seattle Bellevue. The brewery was only 1.5 miles from the hotel and only about 35-40 minutes to the race parking in North Bend.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Life is a Highway


Per usual, I've gone M.I.A. because work picked up and we've had lots of time with family and friends in the past few weeks. As I've said before, work and family far outweigh the blog and their priority outweighs running as well.


Most tours we are traveling across the country from coast-to-coast. This particular tour has been incredible because we are the "West" team and if you've read this blog long enough you know it's our favorite part of the country. However, it turns out we have spent more time in California than any other state (granted, we've been up and down from SoCal to NorCal) and haven't moved as much as we normally have on past tours. So it was refreshing to finally leave The Golden State and hit the road a few weeks ago. Our first stop was Las Vegas en route to our next events in Colorado. 

Such a gorgeous hike at Mt. Charleston. Not to mention, it was about 30 degrees cooler
here than on the Strip. 
Stunning views. It's hard to believe this is in Sin City.
We spent time with my best friend and she showed us there's much more to Vegas than just the Strip. 

But of course, we still spent some time in the heart of the action.
Who can resist?

Then we made it back to our Colorful Colorado and the place we consider to be "home." My family came to visit and it was so refreshing to see familiar faces and loved ones. My family is my everything, so spending time together and building new memories in my favorite state made this visit one to remember. 

My everything.

My brother had never been to Casey and I's favorite town, Winter Park, and my mom is already head over heels for this mountain resort so we took both of them up there to spend some quality time together on our day off. 

The following day we made our way to Fort Collins for our event. We went out in their downtown area called Old Town Square and y'all have to visit these killer hotspots: Social, The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen, Blind Pig, The Town Pump, etc. 


Casey and I are very blessed to have such amazing friends. My former co-worker Matt and his lovely girlfriend Felise even made the trip up to FoCo to hang with us!

Thanks, Matt and Felise!

More Colorado memories (more on these in a separate post)...

I met my running idol, Ms. Kara Goucher! Pinch me!


We worked an event in Aspen and visited the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Welcome to the most photographed peaks in North America: 
And from Coloradical, we traveled to Boise en route to Tacoma/Seattle, Washington. In the Evergreen State we visited my sister (my dad was married before my mom) where I met my nephew for the first time. He's going to be a little heartbreaker. Meanwhile Casey entertained and chased my niece. I miss these kiddos already.



Lastly, I received permission to run a marathon I stopped training for because I didn't think I was going to get to run it. So, I'm under trained and attempting to run 26.2 in less than 2 weeks. Neat. With that said, I was lucky enough to be in the state of said marathon so I previewed a portion of the course with Casey. I may have to crawl to the finish, but holy cow it's going to be one helluva gorgeous race. 


I may not blog often, but I post on Instagram like it's my day job.
To keep up to speed on our travels, follow along on IG.

From Washington (I swear this post is almost done) we cruised over 1,100 miles on I-5 to Los Angeles with a stop in Sacramento to see our good friends Amy and Clint. 

Thanks to my dear friend, Amy, for scoring me this killer
Oiselle #AmericanRunner tee when she was volunteering at
the USA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, CA. 

Again, I hope to include separate posts on many of our stops but we have more family coming in this week and it's crunch time for the marathon. Casey's parents are making the trek to Tinsel Town and we cannot wait to see them and spend some quality time together. 

Although cheesy...for us life is one big highway. We're constantly on the go, traveling at least 300 days a year for the past 3.5 years but dang it, we're having the time of our lives and we're going to enjoy this ride for as long as we can. 

I hope you all have a beautiful week filled with family, friends, miles and adventure!
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