Hood to Coast: The Main Event

Race morning, as they all do, started bright and early. I had an alarm set for 3:45am but was awake well before that due to paranoia of missing the alarm. This is pretty much the scene that plays out the night before every single one of my races. Elisabeth, Sean, Jenny, Eric and I sleepily met in the lobby to wait for Casey and Arielle from Nuun Hydration. They picked us up from the hotel at 4:30am and we were off to the starting line at Mt. Hood!

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Drive to Mt Hood

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Start photo credit: Arielle

The energy at the start was electric and I just could not get over the fact that I was about to FINALLY run Hood to Coast. Only a certain type of runner will get excited to spend 30+ hours in a van with sweaty strangers. The weather was a little foggy and overcast so Mt. Hood was hidden behind the clouds the entire time we were at the top.

Elisabeth was our leadoff runner and took off down the mountain at 10:15am. She cruised through her 5.65 mile leg under the projected time and then Jenny set out on Leg 2, followed by Eric, Sean, and Arielle.

HTC Relay - Exchange 1

HTC Relay - Jenny and Sean - Leg 1

Leg 1 – 6.97 miles

In the weeks leading up to the race I tried to read recaps of the legs I’d be running and review tips on HTC’s Facebook page from runners who had tackled the same miles in years past. One recurring comment was to prepare for traffic leading up to the exchange and this was no exaggeration. From the point where I got of the van until the actual exchange, it was about 3/4 of a mile. Casey walked with me and the one thing I remember distinctly is being incredibly quiet. For some reason I was ridiculously nervous and this was causing my heart to race. 80 degrees with 90% humidity at 3:45am in the dark is what I’m good at. Having the mid-afternoon sun beating down on you, despite how warm it is, is another animal entirely.

Arielle had [unsurprisingly – she’s a total badass] beasted through her leg and came flying into the exchange just after 2pm. She slapped the bracelet on my wrist and I set off to conquer my first leg. A majority of the first mile was spent trying to get my heart rate down and breathing under control. By mile 2 I was in good shape and riding my “I’m running Hood to Coast!!” high. Just after my watch clicked over to 4, the wheels fell off. It was a struggle from there on out and I was so damn happy to see all 11 of my teammates at Exchange 6 and hand off to Kevin.

Jenny navigated us to Laurelwood Brew Pub for dinner and our first real meal of the day. She then skyrocketed her way to the top of everyone’s “Favorite Person Ever” list by offering up her house as a place for us to rest, shower, and basically enjoy the extra room that the van sorely lacked. I spent a majority of the time there laying in the hallway with my legs up the wall and my eyes shut.

HTC Relay - Portland ExchangeExchange 13 in Portland
photo credit: Rachel

All of our night legs went off without a hitch, with the exception of a random man who barked at Elisabeth during her leg. There were some interesting characters in that particular area of Portland. During Sean’s leg I started to get really tired, so when Arielle [and Casey] took off for her leg we made a stop to grab ice for the drink cooler and some sort of caffeinated beverage for me. I settled on a Starbucks Double Shot Coffee that ended up being too sweet and too heavy, but overall got the job done.

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Exchange 17

Leg 2 – 5.23 miles

I don’t know if it was the legs up the wall or what, but this leg was magical. It felt like my first run of the day. Sure, there was a lot of climbing but it was only 60 degrees so I really didn’t care. The quietness of the night was so peaceful and I kind of wished it was a couple miles longer. We weaved through a neighborhood a few times and I was so grateful for all of the volunteers working through the middle of the night, letting us know where to turn. I loved every minute of Leg 18.

Walking back to the car someone mentioned to prepare for a shitty ride to Exchange 24 [where we would sleep + wait for the handoff from Van 2] and I didn’t quite understand how the traffic could be that bad at 3am. At some point, for a reason that’s still unknown, the exchange was shut down and no longer letting any vans inside. We sat in the same spot for over 2 hours. I would sleep intermittently and every time I opened my eyes we hadn’t moved an inch. Casey somehow managed to keep himself occupied in the driver’s seat the entire time – I don’t know what we would have done without him! We should have had 3-4 hours to sleep at the exchange but by the time we actually pulled in and parked? It was only 30 minutes.

With it being everyone’s last leg, we made a point to stop mid-way on each runner’s run to cheer and cowbell excessively for them, providing an energizing boost to help them push through the suck. And after Arielle crushed a monster hill on one of the hardest legs of the course, we set up finish line tape made of toilet paper for her to break through [the video at the end caught that gem]

HTC Relay - Eric - Leg 3
Leg 3 – 5.43 miles

This wasn’t pretty. I take that back – the actual leg was GORGEOUS and definitely the most scenic of the three I ran. My legs were toast at this point and the only thing keeping me going was the fact that the finish line [ahem, beach + beer] was oh so close.

And with that, Van 1 of Team Wild Berry was officially DONE!

HTC Relay - WB Van 1 - Team

HTC Relay - Leg Check Marks

As glorious as a shower sounded once we arrived in Seaside, everyone opted to venture down to the Biergarten instead. Hashtag priorities. A couple Widmer Upheavals later we heard our anchor, Liz, was almost done so we headed to the finish to cross as a team. This was an incredibly bittersweet moment: so proud + happy to have those 200 miles behind us, but so sad our HTC experience was coming to a close.

HTC Relay - Team Wild Berry - Finish Line    photo credit: Eric

HTC Relay - Team Wild Berry - Finish Line Beers photo credit: Eric

And the TL;DR :: My teammate Eric put together the video below that recaps our race fantastically in a short 3 minutes:

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An Ode to Nuun Hydration

I have to thank Megan Fay for one of the best weekends of my life. She worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure a successful experience for all of the ambassadors. If any issues or problems arose, we knew nothing of it. From the second I stepped off the plane in SeaTac on Thursday to my sad departure back to Austin on Sunday, every single detail was taken care of and perfectly executed by Megan. She worked her ass off to ensure everything went off without a hitch and I know every single one of us appreciated her hard work.

Nuun Hydration was the key to our success throughout the entire race. A company is only as strong as their team and I have to say – Nuun has an incredibly strong group of people working for them. [Kevin – hold on to ALL of them!] I hesitate to use the word “working” because every single person seemed to sincerely enjoy what they do. And that’s the dream, right – to love what you do? They’re a perfect example of this.

Thank you to our excellent van drivers – Casey, Jay, Kevin and Vishal – who signed up to be the navigators and had to deal with some of the worst HTC traffic in recent years. Thank you to the Nuun employees – Arielle, Megan, Zoë and Kim – who completed each of our vans and rocked every single leg. We couldn’t have made it across the finish line without each and every one of you!

I am so honored to represent Nuun Hydration and grateful to have been offered a spot to race with them at Hood to Coast. It was truly the experience of a lifetime.

Hood to Coast: The Prequel, Part II

Thursday morning started with a run along the Seattle waterfront for most of my teammates. I opted to sleep in and rest my legs a little. My shins get super feisty when I cram too many miles into too few days and with 19ish miles on deck between Friday & Saturday, taking Thursday off seemed like a logical decision. Skipping the run also meant I had a little extra time to get ready and enjoy my final shower before living in a van for 36 hours.

The girls returned from their run around 9:30 and somehow the four of us were out the door by 10:20. A miracle I tell you. Vishal and Zoë from Nuun Hydration picked us up and whisked us away to Brooks Running’s new headquarters.

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Brooks’ new space is absolutely massive, spanning five floors in an energy-efficient building with open floor plans, a cafeteria [it was Mac & Cheese day and unfortunately we already had lunch plans] and a huge rooftop area with gorgeous views of the Seattle skyline. We were lucky enough to sit down with one of their Product Line Managers, Carson Caprara, who discussed the life cycle of shoes. It was interesting to hear about the research that goes into developing the next iteration of a specific model – it’s a lot more extensive than you may think. Carson also touched on the process of nailing down design details, reviewing 3D prototypes of the shoe [welcome to the future] and what the steps are once it gets closer to production. The amount of work that goes into one model of shoes is mind-blowing.

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Team Nuun Energy at Brooks HQ

After our tour of HQ, the vans took us back downtown to Pyramid Brewing across from our hotel for lunch. Pitchers of Hefeweizen and Thunderhead IPA were passed around the table and the only time anyone stopped talking was when our food hit the table. I ended up sitting next to Eric and we chatted about our New Jersey and Philly Marathon experiences, among other things. His running story and how it changed him is pretty awesome. I also had the opportunity to talk a bit with George, starting with me thanking him for the shot of Fireball that closed out the previous night. Since there were so many of us, it was really hard to get to know every.single.person especially if you weren’t roommates or in their van. I wish I could have had just one more day to spend a little more time with the people I missed!

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Everyone split off into groups after lunch and our group [Susie, Lauren, Doug] hit up Target for a few necessities, did a little browsing in an antique store, and ended up back at Pike Place Market to give Storyville a shot.

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Storyville  Collage

The final item on the agenda for Thursday was a visit to Nuun HQ for dinner catered by Chipotle, liquid carbs [beer] and van decorating. This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend because it was one of the only times every member of each van was together. I finally got to meet Joe of Recycling Runner, who knows my IRL friend Ashley. She wrote a great piece on him and his mission a couple years ago. The running world sure is a small one!

After dinner we moved out back to decorate the vans and show off our sweet drawing skills. Or lack thereof. One of those.

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photo credit: Rachel

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14862233968_b57911a12a_z photo credit: Lauren

Of course, the night didn’t end there. Once we were back at the Silver Cloud, a fairly large group of us wound up back at Jimmy’s on 1st despite having ridiculously early departure times in the morning. Ahem, 4:30am for Wild Berry – Van 1. We ALMOST made it out of there shot-free until we were 5 steps from the door and Sean called us back to the bar for a round of Fireball.

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Next up is the main event (!!) so now would be an excellent time to introduce you to the two teams that represented Nuun Hydration at the 2014 Hood to Coast Relay:

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Team Wild Berry

[Van 1] Elisabeth / Jenny / Sean / Eric / Arielle / me
[Van 2] Kevin / Rachel / Doug / Amanda / Megan / Liz

Team Lemon Lime

[Van 1] Justin / George / Carrie / Zoë / Susie / Lisa
[Van 2] Lauren / Sophia / Joe / Jim / Kim / Hyla

Hood to Coast: The Prequel, Part I

An absurdly early wakeup [3am] followed by an equally as absurd flight time [6am] kicked off the beginning of my journey from Austin to Vegas to Seattle. I had grand plans of sleeping during the first leg but those were quickly tossed aside in favor of a large coffee and way too many episodes of Million Dollar Listing. The connection in McCarran was short and sweet, complete with another large coffee. A couple hours of Bravo reality TV later the flight landed in SeaTac and I quickly located Elisabeth waiting in the food court for me. Megan from Nuun Hydration scooped us up from the airport shortly after and we made our way downtown to the Silver Cloud Hotel, conveniently located next to a brewery and CenturyLink Field. Huge thanks to Megan for shuttling all of the team members from the airport to the hotel all day long, dealing with traffic and many flight delays! She rocks.

Susie [one of our roommates] was just coming back from a run and brought us up to our room. Our hunger was taking over so we decided to take Megan’s suggestion and head to Elysian Fields up the street to grab lunch. The food was fantastic and I enjoyed the Immortal IPA so much I had two. Rachel [our last roommate], Sean, Lauren, Jim and Doug met up with us after lunch and our group set out to be tourists at Pike Place Market.

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We visited and made our contribution to the infamous [and gross] Market Theater Gum Wall in Post Alley:

download_20140820_165258photo credit: Susie 

Part of the group waited in line for coffee at the original Starbucks, but Holly had recommended a shop near Matt’s in the Market so Susie and I went in search of it. This was an interesting adventure considering we didn’t know the name of the shop and my GPS kept getting us turned around. We admitted defeat when we found Ghost Alley Espresso on the lower level and although it wasn’t what we were looking for, their double salted caramel nut latte hit the spot. On our walk back to meet the group we passed Storyville and knew immediately it was the place Holly suggested. Susie and I decided we’d try to make it back for a visit before heading to Oregon on Friday.

Of course we couldn’t leave our first group outing without photo evidence:

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photo credit: Rachel

We moved the party to Pyramid Brewing for a few pre-game beers and just before 7pm made our way across the street to CenturyLink Field to watch the Seattle Sounders take on the San Jose Earthquakes. This was my first MLS game and Seattle was definitely the best venue for it. Their fans are super passionate and they are LOUD. And I mean REALLY loud. Seahawks games have to be absolutely deafening. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that the game ended in a tie because, a tie? That’s just weird. Someone needs to WIN. This is probably why I could never get into soccer.

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We ended the night at Jimmy’s on 1st for a late dinner and drinks with several teammates who had just arrived in town. It was great to meet a few more people but at this point the long day of traveling and/or exploring was starting to wear on everyone. As we were in the process of settling up our tabs, George declared none of us were allowed to leave yet. And that’s when our server reappeared with these:

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photo credit: George

We all toasted to the beginning of an exciting weekend and then parted ways to rest up for the next day’s busy schedule!

Westward Bound

After several years of dreaming about running the Mother of All Relays, this Friday I will finally make my way to the starting line at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Over the course of two days my 11 Wild Berry teammates and I will cover 200-ish miles through beautiful Oregon.

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We received our itineraries from Nuun for the week and I’m kinda-sorta-maybe-ridiculously pumped for what’s in store for us. I poked around on Yelp and Googled “Top 10 Things to Do in Seattle” over the weekend, compiling a list of restaurants to try and landmarks to visit. Also if I could find a nametag somewhere that reads “Hello, my name is: TOURIST” that would be ideal.

After skimming flight times and plans for the week, the amount of sleep I won’t be getting between Wednesday and Sunday is glaringly obvious. Maybe I should have taken another day off post-relay?

Wednesday: 3:30am wake-up call, 6am flight to the west coast

Thursday: all sorts of jetlag, 5:00am wake-up [guaranteed it] – 8:30am shakeout run

Friday: 4:30am departure for Van 1 of Team Wild Berry – proceed to stay up for 36 hours

Saturday: still awake from Friday, most likely suffering a severe case of delirium

Sunday: 5:30am departure for Seattle – fly for umpteen hours – return home to Austin at midnight

Monday: sleepwalk to work.

Stay tuned for incoherent tweets and desperate pleas for all of the coffee in all of the land. But guess what? I don’t care! Because I will be running HOOD TO COAST and it’ll be 110% worth it.10418999_927601913921803_1130609836037782024_nNow, let’s take a look at the legs I’ll be running on Friday/Saturday. I’m runner #6 [Van 1] which has the 4th most miles and the 4th most difficult legs. That freaked me out a little bit while typing it. Here’s what I’ve gotten myself into:

HTC Relay - Legs for Runner 6

NBD, just a few hills.

I was runner #6 during Ragnar Cape Cod as well and loved feeding off the energy at every major exchange. I’m also feeling pretty damn lucky to have snagged a spot in Van 1, since due to logistical issues and traffic Van 2 cannot go up to Mt. Hood. Being completely new to the PNW, I have a feeling the views will be amazingly breathtaking.

The HTC packing list is queued up in Google Sheets and I should be able to start check-check-checking things off tonight as they go into my bag. We have the option of leaving a larger suitcase at Nuun HQ during the relay so I’m struggling with whether I want to stuff the duffel to the brim or have a little extra breathing room for souvenirs in a suitcase on the way home. But larger suitcase = baggage fee. Decisions, decisions.

I have most of the day Wednesday and a few hours on Thursday free to explore all that Seattle has to offer. Any must-sees [other than the Space Needle, Starbucks, Pike Place Market, etc.] or restaurants I need to find my way to?

Life Lately

I don’t want to be different than every other blog on the Internet, so let me start out by saying: OMG guys, tomorrow is August! Can you believe it?! This year is just flying by!

Okay, now that that’s out of the way – let’s catch up on a few things, shall we?

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1. I’m 110% over summer. Almost positive I say this every year. Sure, Austin has only seen a handful of days over 100 degrees making it an exceptionally mild year for us. Lora, if it was you who brought these “cooler” temps then you’re never allowed to leave. While we may not have broken 100, we’ve been in the high 90s most days and the daily low is between 75 & 80. This occurs somewhere in the 3-4am timeframe and is hideously accompanied by 90% humidity. I’m jealous of you northerners flaunting your windows-open weather and enjoying morning runs in the 60s. Anyway, I’ve decided it’s definitely okay for us southern state dwellers to complain about how hot it is since we spent all winter listening to the rest of the country complain about how cold it is. What’s fair is fair.

2. Recently I received a promotion and have been splitting time between training my replacement and transitioning into the new role. I had been in my past position for two and a half years so I’m really excited for the challenge and experience in a new role. That being said, work has been keeping me very busy. The hours are a little longer but it doesn’t really bother me until we’re eating dinner at 8:30. Once the transition is over everything will settle down. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

3. With marathon training starting in mid-September, we decided it was time to clean up our eating habits. 3 weeks ago we switched to a modified Paleo lifestyle. I say modified because we still have coffee, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate on occasion. Moderation! In the first 2 weeks we collectively lost 14 pounds and it wasn’t terribly hard to stay on track. I also noticed a significantly positive difference in my sleeping habits, which was a welcomed surprise. Last weekend while friends were in town we definitely bent the rules [because pizza. Tex-Mex. beer.] so we’re starting from scratch again.

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The plan is go hard for 30 days to allow our bodies to adjust and then maintain an 80/20 balance afterwards. The only downside is all of the cooking. The prep work can be tedious and letting a spaghetti squash cook for an hour in the oven after walking in the door from work at 7pm results in several late dinners each week. Eventually it will be second nature but for right now I’d rather just pour a bowl of cereal and call it a day.

4. Relay #2 is just around the corner! It’s hard to believe Hood to Coast is only 3 weeks away. I’ve never been to the PNW so spending 4 days out there should be pretty damn fantastic. Much like my last foray into slap-bracelet world, I haven’t met a single one of my teammates in real life. Each and every one of them is a Nuun Ambassador so we’ll have that in common at least. I’m fairly certain this girl and I will get along just fine, based on her appreciation for the Red Sox and stellar social media posts. The sarcasm that girl throws around unabashedly is top notch. I also just found out my best friend from high school will be out there running HTC as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to rendezvous on the beach in Seaside Saturday night. This will be the second Seaside city [next to our neighboring one in NJ] we’ve wreaked havoc in. Can’t wait.

5. Sox has pretty much turned into Dora the Explorer on our hikes and two weeks ago managed to snag a sweet case of poison ivy. Thankfully she didn’t eat any or it could have been a lot worse. Her poor face did swell up though. Dog - Poison Ivy

Sox - Poison Ivy

Sad puppy. Google Machine to the rescue, since it was Sunday and a visit to the emergency clinic would likely result in a $200 bill. A few rounds of Benadryl and she was good as new. Now that we’ve seen what Benadryl can do to her, we sometimes talk about giving it to her when she’s being spaztastic and we’re trying to sleep. Kidding, kind of. Parents of the Year over here.

6. Weird Al released “Word Crimes” [his spoof on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”] and it touches on almost every grammatical error I find myself getting fired up about. If you’re passionate about using the English language correctly, you’ll love this video. If you’re one of my friends on Facebook who doesn’t know what a run-on sentence is, writes words like L8R, or misuses ‘literally’ on a regular basis – you might not understand most of this video. But plz watch it neway, k thx.

7. I probably spent too many dollars at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but you won’t find any traces of regret here. I was able to grab a tote for work large enough to hold my beast of a laptop but small enough that it doesn’t feel like I’m carrying the entire world on my shoulder. I’ve been on the hunt for 6 months so it was nice to finally quit that adventure. I also picked up my first pair of Fryes– a little gift to myself for the recent promotion. Treat yo’ self, kids.

8. I had the absolute best Manhattan of my life last weekend at Travaasa. Not usually one to choose Makers Mark over other whiskeys but the bartender said he’d make one with it for us and we could order something else if we hated it.

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Rather than using sweet vermouth and bitters, he used a bottle of something delicious from Barbados that sent the Manhattan way over the top. Between the two of us over the course of the evening we sent the bartender dashing out of the building to grab another bottle of Makers after flying through the first and landed ourselves a pretty healthy bar tab. Sadly, I can’t recreate this cocktail at home unless someone wants to make a quick trip to Barbados for me. Any takers? I will pay you in tasty whiskey beverages.

And that’s all folks! Until next time…

Tuesday Things

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1. My work-life balance is struggling. Our annual audit begins each year in March but doesn’t really kick into high gear until the end of April and carries through the month of May. May is also one of our busiest months on the revenue side. For the past several years I’ve made the stupid mistake of taking vacations the first week of May: New Jersey Marathon, Long Branch Half Marathon, Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. No matter how well I plan for the time off, I’m inevitably buried for the remainder of the month. The third week in May is always our annual user conference, so basically as soon as I have a handle on my to-do list I have to somewhat abandon it again for four days. I try to stay caught up on emails between sessions but it can be overwhelming. This was my 5th year working the conference and for the first time I actually came back to the office to get work done. It definitely helped me stay on track but there were still items that didn’t get done and ended up coming home with me last weekend. No idea why I keep doing this to myself year after year, but I want to declare right now that MAY 2015 WILL BE A VACATION-FREE ZONE. It has to be. I miss my sanity.

2. I was chosen as an ambassador for the Houston Marathon!  I was blown away in January by the organization of the race, the number of spectators on the course and how great the course actually was. The weather was pure perfection [this is a variable, I know] and despite having a miserable race performance-wise, I knew this wouldn’t be my last time in Houston. As an ambassador, this also means I will be running the Houston Marathon. After quite a lengthy hiatus, I’ll be making my grand return to the marathon distance in January 2015. And possibly the most exciting part of all? Training doesn’t start until September. So while I may be slightly jealous of everyone running Chicago and NYC this fall, I won’t have to do any sauna-running at 4am this summer.

COME RUN HOUSTON WITH ME! Early registration for my fast friends [sub-4 full marathon or sub 1:52 half marathon] closes on May 29th. The lottery opens up on June 4th and will run through June 19th , with results announced on June 23rd.

Houston Marathon Registration

3. In August I’ll be running Hood to Coast with Nuun. After several years of trying to make it on the team and now finally securing a spot, it still doesn’t seem real. Airfare has been purchased and 3 months from today (!!) I’ll be heading out to Seattle. After running Ragnar Cape Cod last weekend I feel less nervous and much more excited for HTC. I have a loose training plan sketched out for the next few months but probably will push the kickoff to the 26th. My shin & knee are now more of a dull pain, but I don’t want to rush into it just because the plan was supposed to start this week. Once it’s underway I’ll talk a bit more about the training. HTC_logo4. RedFest starts on Friday and we FINALLY won tickets. I’m not even sure how many different contests we were entered in to win tickets to this festival. Eventually we came across a voting-based contest, which allowed us to plaster the link all over social media. All of the begging [so annoying, I know] paid off when we scored 3-day VIP passes! To be honest I’m a little nervous because there is little to no information about the event on their website. They finally uploaded a map and schedule over the weekend, but there is nothing about what time the gates open or what activities are included with the ticket. I emailed them two weeks ago to find out and apparently they were “still in the process of figuring that out”. Two weeks out from the event. In any case, we’ll be drinking and eating for free all weekend while listening to country music. I highly doubt we won’t have a good time.

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5. We’re going to Europe! Unfortunately, the trip is 18 months away. After we unexpectedly had cancel our Mexico trip [which coincidentally freed me up to run HTC…] Brad was on a mission to find us a replacement vacation. One of his suggestions was a European cruise. I was hesitant initially because while our all-inclusive resort in Mexico was fairly pricey for 7 days, the airfare to Cancun was about $350 per person. A trip to Europe requires a ridiculously expensive [and ridiculously long] flight and the total cost of the trip was almost twice as much as Mexico. There was no possible way we could go anytime soon, so we pushed the date out to Fall 2015.

Cannes, France

It’s hard for me to get excited about it because it’s really far away and there’s definitely potential for a wrench to be thrown in our plans. But this didn’t stop me from ordering a couple books on Mediterranean cruise ports. On the agenda: Barcelona, Cannes, Rome, Naples, Palma Majorca, and Florence/Pisa. I’ve already been researching hotels and we’re in the process of learning Spanish. The plan is to be pretty damn fluent en Español by the time we leave. We’ll be spending an extra day before/after the cruise in Barcelona so if you’ve been there [or any of the ports we’re exploring] please tell me EVERYTHING.

A New Opportunity

Last year I was selected to be an ambassador for a certain organization. If you’re in the running/HLB community, you undoubtedly know who I’m talking about. As time went on, it became increasingly clear it wasn’t a good fit. A lot of the campaigns weren’t relevant to me. Many of the campaigns went to the same people, who professed their undying love for Saucony one week and then declared Mizuno as their one-and-only the next. It didn’t feel genuine. My Twitter feed was filled with hashtags and reviews all for the same product. I expected to change my mind at some point but early this summer I asked to be removed from the program. I truly appreciated the opportunity but in the end it just wasn’t for me.

I blog because I enjoy writing. (And yes, I know I’ve been absent for a few days – NaNoWriMo is kicking my ass!) I don’t post three times a day or even every day. If there’s nothing to say, there’s nothing to post. I don’t force content. I don’t accept every free product offered to me just because its OMG-FREE. During this 3+ year journey, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful companies.

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Oiselle In August I was one of a lucky few chosen to run for Oiselle Team. This was a huge (and AWESOME) surprise! I am incredibly honored to run along side some ridiculously fast and inspiring women. Oiselle is a feminine fierce company founded by Sally Bergesen and I consider myself very lucky to represent them at every race I run. Before becoming a member of the flock, my closet was stocked with multiple poppy and indigo items, Lux Layers and 50/50 tees. I love their clothes, my fellow teammates, and the opportunity Oiselle has given to me by offering me a spot on their team.

Keep Austin Hydrated

Nuun Hydration I became an ambassador for Nuun after being assigned as an alternate for their 2013 Hood to Coast team. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I’ve been a fan of these electrolyte tablets since Tricia first introduced me to them a few years ago. The amount of Nuun tubes in our house is borderline ridiculous. Brad and I both use it for running, and he tosses a tablet in a water bottle for his softball games too. I don’t talk about it because I’m an ambassador – I talk about Nuun because I use it frequently and love it.

And finally, my newest opportunity: Verizon Wireless. The timing of this probably could have been a little better. I noticed yesterday that another company kicked off a campaign with VZW as well. I’m not associated with that campaign – I’m working with Verizon directly. I’ve been a customer of Verizon for 15 years, so becoming an ambassador for them over the next few months seemed like a perfect fit for me. There are a couple programs I was interested in (ie. Verizon Edge) so this is a great way to learn a little bit more about them and in turn, share the information with YOU. I know Verizon isn’t running related, but it’s a company I’ve been involved with for quite a long time (and probably some of yours!)

Over the past few months I’ve been trying to incorporate more of my personal life and other various topics here. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about running and it’s nice to change things up once in awhile. In any case, the purpose of this post was to make everyone aware of my new relationship with Verizon Wireless and why I accepted it. And it is NOT because of OMG-FREE products or to add another ambassador notch on my belt (I feel like this is becoming a trend with bloggers lately…)

Is there a company you are an ambassador for? If you could be an ambassador for any company in the world (cupcakes, vodka, Urban Decay – whatever you want!), which would it be?

The One with Justin Moore, Independence Brewing, and the Nuun Giveaway Winner

This past weekend was one of the busiest we’ve had in a long time. It started off slow with an uneventful 4th of July. We spent the afternoon sitting in our neighbor’s driveway in lawn chairs drinking Bud Light cans {aka how Texas does Independence Day} and I made these amazing chicken cheesesteaks for dinner. Not the standard 4th BBQ-esque meal, but they were REALLY good. But how could they not be good, hello – QUESO.

Chicken Quesosteak

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Anyway, Brad, Sox, and I watched the fireworks from the back patio while Bo hid from them under the bed in our guestroom. Poor guy. Sox didn’t seem phased by the loud noises at all so hopefully she won’t end up afraid of fireworks like Bo.

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Friday I opted not to dip into my PTO and worked from home. Pretty sure 90% of my office (and most of our clients) took the day off, so it was pretty slow. At 5 we headed down to San Antonio for a concert.

Justin Moore - Cowboys Dancehall

We bought the tickets for this show pre-Sox. Generally we stay the night but didn’t want to leave her locked up in the crate for that long, so we decided to drive back home after the concert ended. San Antonio is only about 90 minutes away – not horrible.

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I hadn’t read or heard anything about an opener and expected the headliner to start around 9:30 or 10. But at 10:30, the house band took the stage. And everyone around us was pretty damn hammered. Since we were driving back, we only had a couple beers each and stopped drinking around 10. This made the drunk people around us SUPER annoying.

Just after 11, Justin Moore came on. It took a little while to find a spot (tickets are General Admission) that wasn’t overrun by screaming teeny boppers, obnoxious drunk dudes, or people in front of me who were pushing 7 feet tall. But once we got situated, it was an awesome show! Easily in the top 3 country concerts I’ve been to.

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By the time we got out of there and on the road, it was almost 1:30am and I was beat. We stopped for gas and I grabbed a small coffee so I’d be able to stay awake and keep Brad company as he drove home. We crawled into bed shortly after 3.

Sox was wide awake and ready to play just a few hours later at 6am. She clearly doesn’t understand that weekends are for sleeping in. Is this what having a child is like? Because I still have no interest in having one. Ever. We had plans to go to the First Saturday event at Independence Brewery so we drank copious amounts of coffee, packed up the dogs, and headed for South Austin.

Independence Brewing Co

The brewery holds this event the first Saturday of every month. You pay $10 for a wristband and get a pint glass + 3 full-sized beers. There’s live music, food trucks, and you can bring your dogs. Pretty sweet deal.

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We were slightly unprepared since it was eleventy billion degrees outside and didn’t bring a pop-up tent (which we don’t own – minor detail) but one kind man offered us a spot under his spare tent. SO NICE!

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Our dogs became fast celebrities. Everyone wanted to meet them, pet them, and know if Sox was Bo’s daughter.

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On our way home we stopped at the park so the pups could swim a little bit and when we got home around 6, our evening looked like this:

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I think we were in bed that night before 8. It was definitely still light out but couldn’t imagine staying awake another minute. Three hours of sleep had finally caught up with me.

Sunday morning Sox woke up at 6:30 (which was SLIGHT improvement from the day before but nowhere near the 8am I’d prefer) and we headed to the dog park at 7.

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Oh and this “puppy” of ours has gained 9 pounds in the month since we rescued her. She’s probably going to grow up to be a horse, just like Bo.

I spent that afternoon in the kitchen cooking and baking a million things, followed by a bunch of a laundry, cooking dinner, and then another early bedtime.  This weekend was the exact opposite of my recent ‘laziest weekend ever’ but somehow we didn’t spend a ton of money AND I felt fully rested Monday morning. I’ll take it!

PS. I swear this isn’t going to turn into a puppy blog. I just registered for my fall race and will have details (and the training plan!) posted later this week! Melissa DOES still run.


And now for the Get Your Nuun On :: A Nuun Hydration Giveaway winner!

Nuun Giveaway

And the winner is…

Nuun Giveaway Winner

Danielle from It’s a Harleyyy Life! Please email me your mailing address + flavor choice to melissaliciatx {at} gmail.com and we’ll get that 4-pack of Nuun out to you ASAP!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Don’t forget you can still use discount code hydrateHTC on Nuun’s website for 15% off!

Get Your Nuun On :: A Nuun Hydration Giveaway (CLOSED)

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Nuun. I’m either hydrating on the run with Lemon Lime, recovering from a cocktail-filled night out with Citrus Fruit, or mixing up an adult Arnold Palmer with Lemonade and Sweet Tea Vodka.

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When I first started running, I went with a few of the various –ades on the market. They worked okay for my shorter runs, but once the mileage increased my stomach rebelled against the sugar-laden sports drinks. I think back now on the powdered drink packets I’d stuff in the pouch of my Nathan handheld to refill my bottle with. What a pain in the ass! My friend Tricia introduced me to Nuun a couple years ago while out on a run together and I’ve been through eleventy billion tubes since.

Keep Austin Hydrated

Not familiar with Nuun? Let’s break it down! Each super-portable tablet is jam-packed with the electrolytes you need without the sugar you don’t, for only eight calories per serving. They have three different products:

  • Nuun Active Hydration is specifically for high intensity workouts and/or to satisfy your electrolyte replenishment needs
  • U Natural Hydration is all-natural and contains less electrolytes than Active formula
  • Nuun All Day Hydration makes staying hydrated during the day much easier and will help add more water to your day

My favorites are all in the Active category: Watermelon (seasonal, so stock up now!), Lemon Tea, and Strawberry Lemonade. Currently my secret weapon for surviving the 3pm slump at the office is mixing 1/2 tab of Kona Cola and 1/2 tab of Cherry Limeade. Just perfect!

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Are you running low on your favorite flavor? Still need to experience one of the three newest flavors? Never heard of or tried Nuun?

Solution: a Nuun Giveaway! One lucky winner (must live in the US) will receive a 4-pack of Nuun in the flavor of their choice.

Entering couldn’t be easier – just leave a comment on this post! What’s your favorite hydration company? Have you ever tried Nuun? Which flavor will you choose if you win?

All entries must be submitted by midnight on July 9th. The winner will be selected at random on July 10th.

Can’t wait until next week to get your hydration on or restock your stash? Use discount code hydrateHTC on Nuun’s website for 15% off! (and FREE SHIPPING through July 7th!)

So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and get entered to win a 4-pack of Nuun!

Five Things Friday

I have way too many random thoughts to be contained in a normal, paragraph driven post. So I’m jumping on the ever-popular X Things XXXXday wagon today.

1. I probably can’t even explain to you how excited I am for The Great Gatsby to hit theaters. (May 10th!!) Which is surprising considering my excitement to read the novel back in high school was pretty much nonexistent. The second trailer was released yesterday, but I think the first one is still my favorite. So I’ll show you both.

 

2. I’m back to square one with running shoes. I know, you’re probably not surprised. Despite what most may think, I’m not constantly buying new shoes because of my desire to always own something new. It’s simply because the ones I buy? Don’t work for me. I trained in the fall in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 12s. They worked fine up until Philly Marathon and the Decker Half. After that point, my arches ached and required icing after every single run. I then transitioned into a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires and the pain went away… until the week before ZOOMA. This time it seemed to travel from arch to the outside of my leg. Took a few days off and ran again – same problem. So I dropped from the half to the 5K at ZOOMA and ran in a pair of Pure Cadences that I use only for short runs. SO! I’m back on the hunt for a pair of shoes. The never ending saga. I’ve probably talked about this eleventy billion times on my blog but I promise once the problem is fixed, I’ll shut the hell up about it!

Brooks Ravenna vs Mizuno Wave Creation
Any recommendations for a flat-footed runner with a penchant for pronating?

3. I’m in love with the new Nuun flavors. new-nuun-flavorsAt first I thought I loved Cherry Limeade the most. I highly recommend mixing 1/2 tab of this one with 1/2 tab Kona Kola – it gets me through the afternoon slump at work. Then came Lemonade and it just tasted like SUMMER. It won me over with its effortless pairing with vodka and fresh lemon wedges. That is, until I tried Watermelon. It slightly edges out the other two. Unfortunately, that was the only flavor of the three that I DIDN’T buy a 4-pack of. Well until yesterday. Should be arriving by EOD on Monday. Whew, crisis averted.

Haven’t tried any of them yet? For a limited time, Nuun is offering a Summer Sampler that includes one tube of each new flavor.

4. I’m running the Austin 10/20 again this year.
austin-1020-bib-and-medalMy 2013 racing schedule started out really heavy and by the time the Austin Distance Challenge had wrapped up, I was ready to sail off into the sunset on a racing hiatus. I had roughly a month between the Austin Half and ZOOMA but apparently that was all I needed to want to race again. I was bummed that I had to downgrade to the 5K at ZOOMA and after some thought, decided to squeeze another race between now and the Long Branch Half Marathon next month Enter the Austin 10/20. I ran this race last year and it. was. AWESOME. I shouted its praises on pretty much every social platform I’m on because I enjoyed it so much (and even made it on to their Participant Feedback page!) So I signed up again.

5. BASEBALL IS BACK!!

2013 Boston Red Sox