Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fueled By Fine Wine Half Marathon

Now, this is going to be a BIG statement, but this race is HANDS DOWN my favorite Half Marathon to date.  It was spectacular and fun and challenging and different and flat out amazing.  

My running solemate Sarah and I decided to team up with her sister and friends for a weekend of racing, wine and girl time.  It was easy to sign up for this destination as I had heard it was a gorgeous race and a fantastic part of Oregon, plus I knew it was going to happen in the middle of the Arizona summer which made it even easier to book.  I pulled into Oregon having left my 120 degrees and arriving in a brisk 65.  UH...........

.....but oh man was it heaven!  Green, lush, breezy and the sun was shining to warm up my chilly parts.  I connected with Sarah and we took the hour drive into Newberg and the Dundee Hills area.    Having never been to Oregon I was simply blown away at its beauty and ruggedness.  What a fun state.

We got into Dundee and met up with the rest of our crew.

After a check in at our hotel and an easy 2 mile shake out run, we showered and decided we needed to start wine tasting!

The Dundee Hills area is like a small little town that is just wall to wall wineries.  We could walk everywhere which was so much fun and so relaxing.  To make the whole event even better is the fact that wineries filled our goodie bags with coupons for free tastings.  I think the entire weekend we only paid for 1 glass of wine.  It was a blast!

Argyle was our first stop and the Chardonnay's, Pinot Noir's and Sparkling Rose's were the hit for sure.  We sipped and chatted and simply enjoyed our evening.  We cooked dinner at the house the other girls were staying in and had a simply great pre race evening.  We were all early birds and even though Jasmine, Sarah and I were the only runners, the other two had wee little ones so an early bedtime was a must!

Race morning was a crisp 58 degrees or so and very relaxed.  We got to the house, collected our running compadre and walked to the start line.

Okay....the race.  I don't think that I can actually truly paint the picture of how tough this race was.  It wasn't so much of a race but a trek through the hills of Dundee.  Nothing was flat....nothing.  You were either going up....WAY UP or you were going down.  We probably climbed 10-25% gradients and descended the same for the ENTIRE 13.1 miles.  It was so challenging it was laughable, and we seriously all had the best time giggling about the adventure we were on.  Nothing was flat. I mean the start line was at the bottom of a huge mile long hill.  It was so steep that if you looked straight ahead you saw pavement, not the horizon.  So the gun went off and it became abundantly clear that no one in our group was going to "run" this entire course.  Some of the climbs were so steep and muddy that you nearly had to brace yourself on your legs to "crawl" up it.  It was incredibly fun and I am proud to say that I "run-shuffled" every hill.  I stopped at the top to wait for my buddies and get the heartrate out of the rafters, but I didn't walk any of the hills.  ONE AMAZING FEAT....Lordy.

The race is only open to about 1200 participants because the private wineries literally open their properties for us to traipse up and down the rows of grapes.  The experience was simply incredible.  I loved every second and doing it with these ladies was simply too much fun.

While we were ready to see the finish line, the consensus amongst us was truly....LETS SIGN UP FOR THAT AGAIN!  We came across the finish line feeling like a million bucks.  That was something you don't do every day!

The real reason we signed up for this race was what came after.  Not only did we get a sweet medal, but a lovely wine glass.  Then 25 of the closest wineries came for an unlimited wine tasting.  1 glass.....limitless possibilities.  AMAZING!  We all hung out for a good hour just sipping and chatting and giggling about the race.  What a great time (in case you can't see it on my face)

The rest of our race day was filled with more free wine tastings and beautiful conversation.  It was relaxing and perfect.  Having a wine belly helped too.  We spent a good couple of hours at the Four Grace's Winery.  We sat outside under the shade on a picnic table and just sat in the moment. So refreshing.

We all got to bed early to rest our tired muscles.  The following morning was spent going for a walk and heading out to breakfast together.  Our flights weren't until later in the afternoon so we drove back into Portland and walked along the waterfront.  What a fun and eclectic city.

Our trip was perfect and I am so eternally grateful for this woman's friendship, sisterhood and running feet that have gone on many adventures together.  I CANNOT wait for the Tucson Marathon in December with this chick!  

Oh.....and a HUGE shout out to Angelina Feyter and Southwest Airlines for getting me on an earlier flight without charge!  I made it home for bedtime!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Colorado Moments

I cannot even begin to tell you how incredibly thankful I am for my photography business and for the incredible friends and clients that keep me coming back to Colorado.  Especially during this time of waiting for my parent's house to sell it has been amazing to be able to have a constant visiting plan!  I really am just so very grateful.  

Our Colorado trip came right on the heels of our Bahamas trip which didn't leave very much time for unpacking, repacking and regrouping, but we did it and found ourselves in the cool Rocky Mountains lickity split.  My girls LOVE the mountains and while it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the outdoors again, within 1 day they had embraced the mountains and all the fun it had to offer.   

One thing is for absolute certain, my girls LOVE their Memaw and Papa.  There is simply nothing so sweet for me as watching every face in these images.  The smiles are so genuine and full of so much love.  THIS is what life is about.  Tickles and giggles and snuggles.  It makes my heart so happy to watch my girls with Memaw and Papa.  Kids are so simple and so easy.  Just love them...You just can't help your smile when you have a giggly 6 year old in your lap!

Evie Frances is ALL about tickles right now and Papa, AKA the Boogeyman, was only too happy to deliver.  I love everything about this.

As always one of the many highlights and "must do's" of my trips to Colorado is running and visiting with my sweet sole sister and best running buddy Sarah.  Her friendship is so special to me and we and our children have such a bond because we are a 6-some that runs!  From the time they were all itty bitties we have run together.  While pushing our double joggers down the trails we would dream about the day when all 4 of them would ride their bikes and we would be jogger free.  Well, we are half way there!  Lily and Caleb rode over 11 miles with us during this visit and we were left sharing the weight (the heavy weight!) of only 1 jogger.  Our kids love each other so much.  

Sarah and I always feel so blessed too because each set of friends does friendship really well.  They love each other and we hardly ever hear fighting.  It is just special.  

There is something about literally growing up together in a jogger that connects you for life I suppose.  It doesn't matter how much time goes between visits, one fact remains, these 4 are best buddies for life.

I was very busy doing my photography, but did manage to have a couple of days of down time during our visit.  One of the mornings we headed out to the barn for some horse time and I really couldn't help but smile.  My girls light up out at the barn.  There is so much joy and talent that comes from these little girls.  Evie is of course the fearless wonder who believes that a 1200 pound animal is just a big teddy.  She wants to do everything herself and I find myself having to just pray any lessons learned come with low consequences.

We had a blast riding together and enjoying the trail behind the house.  When riding is done there is of course an endless supply of playing and exploring left to do.  The girls LOVE it and take their playing role seriously.

Memaw kept all of us out of the main area of the barn because there were little fledglings (spelling Mom?) who were learning how to fly.  Mom and Dad discovered their nest a while back and have been watching and caring for them.  The Momma has kept them in the barn as they explore the idea of flying.  I got to sneak into their practice field later that day and snagged a couple close ups.  How cute are these guys?

The girls and I went for a nature walk one day on a hunt for pine cones to decorate.  It wasn't really the season for great pine cones so it was a tricky hunt.  Memaw has the eye for it and helped the girls find this gem.  Just seemed to perfect a cone not to photograph it.

Sarah and I got together again one morning to run the Waterton Canyon trail.  It is so gorgeous up there and was a lovely run with her.  It's so great to simply run and walk and talk and have good conversations.

We have entered a really exciting time as my parents have sold their house and will be Arizonans by the end of summer.  While its bittersweet, I cannot tell you how excited I am to have them closer.  This visit was kind of the final hoorah before we close one chapter and open the next.

The best part of the trip really came right at the end when our travel plans crossed paths with my brother and sis-in-law's plans.  It was such a short time, but it was so great to connect and catch up with them on the last day of my visit and the first day of theirs.  We played with drones and my girls had a BLAST playing with Caksu their awesomely energetic lab.  My girls need a two ways around it.

Colorado will always be a  special place for me and my girls and I look forward to many more visits.