Pacific Northwest Buzz

I’ve been in Portland for a little longer than 24 hours and I am in love. Is it really any surprise? I basically love any new city or place within minutes of being there, whether it’s El Paso, Texas or Madrid, España. I’m quite impulsive like that. 😉 I’d never been to the PNW before, and coming from the desert, the intermittent rain and high humidity were a welcome change, as well as the hilarious conversations with my sister Emily, who has wanted to move out here for years now.

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Chinese Garden

I arrived at PDX yesterday and then took the train to a stop just a block away from my hotel. I was exhausted; I’d only had about four hours of sleep the night before and I can never sleep on planes. Especially not when I feel motion sick. So I was tempted to crash in my room. However, knowing that I had less than 48 hours in this city, I decided to explore.

I was more than excited to explore this city on my own, and to get a break from normal, everyday husbandless life (Aaron spent a couple weeks with me in El Paso and then went to visit family for a couple weeks). I got settled in my room and then went out with Google Maps in hand.

After hitting up a coffee shop, Powell’s Books, and the most beautiful Target EVAR, I had the most perfect opportunity to go for a run along and over the Willamette River at sunset.

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters, only one of the places I had a “real coffee”
As seen on my run on the Willamette River
As seen on my run over the Steel Bridge, which spans the Willamette River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to present!
Ready to present!

 

 

This morning I presented my research at the TESOL Master Student Forum, the whole reason I came here. It went well, and I had a great time getting to know the other presenters in my room. It’s crazy to me that I was able to shrink my nearly year-long thesis project into fifteen minutes of PowerPoint.

 

 

 

 

Maybe it’s the real coffee (here, Starbucks is “not real coffee”), the fresh air, the rain, or all three, but I am on a high… manic even. I feel filled with confidence and direction in life, as this conference and environment have confirmed to me that my life’s work is in linguistics/ESL teaching and research, and that I am PhD material. I feel so blessed to have found this passion so young, and to have had so many wonderful opportunities to pursue it. Go get your dreams, guys, overcome the fear. The reward is sweet.

Now that this presentation is presented and my thesis draft is written, the rest of the semester is going to be all downhill. I defend my thesis in about a month, and graduation is in less than two months. What’s next? I honestly don’t know, but I’m ready for the next phase.

P.S. I’ve been bingeing on Portlandia and I know the show is legit because I heard the theme song IN PORTLAND. Whoa.

This place is the inspiration from the Women and Women First bookstore in the show.
This place is the inspiration from the Women and Women First bookstore in the show.
Conversation with my sister
Conversation with my sister

1,503 Feet of Confidence

I’m hesitant to say I’m back in the saddle of doing this 50K… but this morning’s run gave me a sorely needed confidence booster.

Monday’s run was a major bonk. We headed to the gym one day this week and I completed a 3-mile hill workout on the ‘mill. I was nervous because on Monday my right knee started to bother me. I think it was the shoes I was wearing, so back to the trusty Brooks Ghost I went. They have 300+ miles on them, but I don’t have issues like with the Mizunos.

I did some other cross-training this week, including yoga and a little weight lifting. We got weight set for our house including a 45-lb barbell and bench, so I’m excited to be able to come home from a run and get my lifting on right away.

We decided to try a 17-mile run from our house and up the mountain. For the Transmountain Challenge 13.1, I ran from the other side. But this side is actually steeper. We started out at 5:42 this morning, and ran in the darkness for quite a while. I actually like it better that way, to get started before your body realizes what’s going on. Early morning Sunday running really jives with my spirit, even if my body was tired from being up on the hour last night for whatever reason.

We both took house keys in case I decided to bow out. But as we pushed up the mountain, I felt the same strength as when I ran Transmountain. 8.5 miles would be the halfway point, but as we ran we realized we’d have to go a little past the crest of the road onto the west side of the mountain. The wind was awful. I mean, this is the windy season in El Paso, but it was cold. After we turned around and got a couple more miles under our feet, we were then running into the sun which felt amazing.

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Up and over juuuuust a little bit

I couldn’t believe that just days earlier I had totally bonked on a mostly flat run, and today I ran up up up without complaining or feeling really fatigued, even with just water and two gels and nothing to eat before hand. The sweetest reward for running up is then coming down. Some runners hate it because it tears up their quads or something, but I welcome the pain. Sick, I know. In some way it feels good. The last 2-3 miles were the worst as they were on concrete and completely flat, and there were plenty of stoplights and irresponsible drivers to contend with.

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Mile high club 😉

We got it done, and we both needed the confidence booster. I really really really want to do this 50K, even if I’m hobbling by the end, even if I’m the last one. In ultrarunning, being the last one is actually celebrated. We have 10 weeks to complete this training… and I think we can do it.

Recent events

This post is a mash-up of all the random happenings around our household over the past week. It certainly feels like much longer that my husband’s been home.. we’ve settled into a routine quickly. But as our life always is, our routines change.

Weeks 3 and 4 of 50K training were not so stellar. I did less than the recommended amount of mid-week runs, and week 3 did not have a long run. I was out with a sinus/chest infection of some sort. Yesterday after debating all weekend when to do the long run, we went out for 16 and ended up with 12.7. My legs from my ankles to my hips were on fire; the pain was comparable to the end of the Illinois Marathon.

I was disappointed… from here on out the long runs get longer and after bonking at the EP Half and now this run yesterday, I just don’t think the 50K is going to happen for me. Mentally I feel pretty good, but my body screams no whenever I go longer than 10. My right knee was hurting yesterday too, which is something I haven’t felt in about a year, even with the high-mileage months I had last fall (80, 90, 100). I really don’t want to give up on it yet, but if I can’t pound out the 16, 18 and 20-milers soon it ain’t happening. The Jemez Mtn Trail Runs have a 13.1 option so I will shoot for that. I’m obviously trying to force my body and mind into something that isn’t jiving.

On Saturday after arriving to Ruidoso for our first full weekend together after 10 (!!!!!) months, we tried the long run on some trails. I got about a mile into it before I started to hate it. I love nature, I love hiking… but the whole thing was just pissing me off. I hate having to look at my feet so much, having to stop to walk around boulders, etc. It was also cold as heck and sleeting.. or something. So we hiked back to the car and put off the long run.

I thought I’d just love trail running.. but that seems that that’s not the case, at least not right now. I have a lot of fears about trail running that I need to either accept or get over before I can tackle a race like the 50K, and those fears weren’t helped after I got lost on a 9-mile trail race in November. I need to transition slowly into trail running for my body but also for my mind’s sake. Maybe I’ll shoot for 31 miles before I turn 31. 😉 That gives me three years.

It’s been a busy (and expensive!) week with my husband back. We junked his car since the engine was shot (1996 Honda with 225000+ miles), both got new phones as he needed an upgrade and I completely shattered my iPhone… soon we’ll buy another car. We had a great weekend in the mountains just relaxing and talking. Something I’ve always loved about us is that there’s never a lull in conversation, or lack of impressive vocabulary words, something this aspiring linguist can appreciate.

March will be busy with Aaron’s trip to Illinois to visit family and my trip to Portland to present at the TESOL conference. I also need to get the bulk of my thesis written. The analysis is done, so the writing won’t be too terrible.. just time-consuming. But I’m saving that for another day, not during spring break. Here soon we’ll be propelled into the never-ending summer in the desert. 🙂