Bird Camp!

Back in May I noticed that there were sign-ups for regional running camps put on by Oiselle. They’ve done a national and several other regional camps in the past few years and they all looked like a lot of fun. The closest one to me and that would work for my schedule was the California one in September. Because I’m a member of Oiselle’s Volée, and Oiselle means “bird,” we’re all “birds” and hence, Bird Camp.

It was held at a conference and retreat center in Aptos, California nestled in among enormous, beautiful trees. I showed up Friday, signed in and got my Bird Camp bag filled with all kinds of awesome swag – a Roga hat, a Hankorange headband, Stance socks, a wrap bracelet and shoelace charm from Momentum Jewelry, and Picky Bars and Nuun.

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I found an open bed, settled my things and headed down to lunch to meet the other birds. We did some easy yoga that afternoon in a big open meadow and then we got to talk to Devon Yanko, an ultra runner and restauranteur, about her experiences. Then we had a happy hour put on by Sufferfest Brewing Co. They produce gluten-free beer that doesn’t taste like gluten-free beer. I was very surprised at how good it was!

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The following day we had a long run before we headed to the beach. I chose to run the trails with the shorter group and had a lot of fun. The trails were so beautiful and the weather was perfect. We did about 8 miles at a pretty slow, easy pace.

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Also, we found a banana slug. It was huge!

The beach was kind of chilly though pretty so we hung out for about an hour and a half before half of us went to a local brewery and the rest of us went to go take naps. My running shoes had developed a hole in them so I went to Fleet Feet to see if they had the same model and debate replacing them before I got home since I knew they were long past their lifespan.

(I didn’t)

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Then we had a talk with Sarah Lesko and Kate Grace about her experiences at the Olympics in Rio, and a trunk show of the new Fall Line which is out on the website already. My favorites are the Nelle shirt, the Muscle long-sleeve, and the Pintuck long-sleeve, and for bottoms the Black Widow tights and the Lux track pants. Their theme for fall is “The Warrior Within” and how putting on clothes is one of the many steps of preparation we make to go out and win and I think their line really reflects that well. It’s feminine, but strong and fierce. I am also super in love with their Lux material – it’s soft but warm and wicks so well and looks great when you’re not running, too!

Anyway, back to Bird Camp. Sunday morning some of us had registered to run a local 5K or 10K. I left my cabin late with my bunkmate and two other women and we had no idea where we were going. We started walking up a big hill (and the wrong way) and managed to flag down a woman in a van who confirmed we were going the wrong way and very nicely offered to give us a ride. We found our group a ways down the road and the woman asked us what kind of group we were and we told her “a running group” and then started laughing because of how ridiculous it was that we got a ride.

I signed up for the 10K but wished I had done the 5K. My shoes were very much toast and it was kicking up shin pains I didn’t know I could have. Fortunately it was just an out-and-back along a dirt road into the Nisene Marks State Park so I just focused on getting to the turnaround and then making it back in. I finished in about 55 minutes, which is pretty typical for my cruising pace, but we rocked that race. We finished top 3 in every category, though we may have had a slight advantage as we also had our Haute Volée with us, women who are professional runners at various distances. My roommate, who was not only incredibly nice and down-to-earth, is also an incredible marathoner and her husband used to be in the Army so we had that in common as well.

The race might have been my favorite part of camp, and I have lots of favorite parts. It reminded me so much of when I ran cross-country in college with the team aspect. Running in Alaska is so different. Although we run for PT, the distances are a lot shorter and there’s more of an emphasis on spadework because our test is only 2 miles long. When I run longer, I’m always running alone and Bird Camp reminded me of how much I really love running in a group and how much fun it is having a team. Some of the other birds who didn’t run for various reasons, set up a cowbell corner on the course and cheered for us. It was just so nice to feel the team love and really solidified for me what I love about Oiselle and the Volée.

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After dominating the race, we headed back (with a quick pit stop for coffee) and did a more in-depth yoga class for additional recovery. That afternoon we had a talk and demonstration about the PHLX (pronounced “flex”) roller system and we each got one to take home. I’m a little bit of a foam roller snob and kind of particular about what I like, but I really like this system because it has multiple uses and packs up easily and nicely with a carrying bag.

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A blurry picture of me and Kate Grace

Then we had a panel of our Haute Volée about nutrition and it was so fun to talk to them and hear what they eat and how they manage things in their off-season. Not everyone eats steamed broccoli and boiled chicken either – some eat whatever looks good that day for whatever their husband made.

We had our last campfire and s’mores that night.

I really can’t say enough nice things about Bird Camp. I had so much fun and met some great people and it reignited my love for running all over again. I can’t wait for next year and I hope I will be able to go to another Bird Camp then.

 

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Recap

So this is almost a month overdue – sorry!

I’ve wanted to run the Disneyland Half Marathon for several years, but it just hasn’t worked out for my schedule until this year.

I was originally only going to sign up for the Dumbo Double Dare (10K and half marathon) but then they announced the 5K was Country Bears themed and I love the Country Bears because I think the show is hilarious. Funnily enough, it doesn’t exist at Disneyland anymore, only at WDW.

I stayed at Grand Legacy at the Park, which I found to be very convenient. It was just across the street from the park entrances. Due to the new security checks in the parks though, it can be kind of a pain to get to Downtown Disney as you have to go through the security line just to get to the other side. They also had a 17% military discount, which made the price a little more affordable.

I spent almost a week at DL this time, which I think was probably too much as I felt pretty burned out on Disney by the end. I went to the Expo when it opened on Thursday and checked out all the merchandise. I liked some of the shirts they had, but I’m always on the fence about buying more shirts when they’re provided with the race. I did pick up some glitter sunscreen, however. It was also scented and I felt like I died and went to preteen heaven.

I had no issues getting to the race the following morning, and I squeezed in a stop at Starbucks on the way. The 5K was well run and had lots of characters out. Since it was Country Bears, they had lots of bears – Liver Lips and Al from Country Bears, Baloo, Kenai from Brother Bear, Winnie the Pooh, and Lotso. It was also probably one of the best days for the race photographers because there weren’t tons of people on the course.

 

For the 10K I was still in Corral A. The course was still mainly in the parks but also cut a little bit backstage which I kind of enjoyed (and wished I had taken pictures of). I didn’t care for the medal myself, but I know a lot of people liked it. The overall theme of the weekend was “Best Friends” so the 5K was Country Bears and the 10K was Aladdin and Genie and the Half was Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

 

I had a meetup with a couple of other Oiselle birds for dinner that night at Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney and I had a great time talking about running and Disney with the other birds. The food was also outstanding and much better than expected, which is likely why it’s so hard to get a reservation there.

 

The Half had me scooted back to Corral B, which was fine with me! I was definitely feeling more tired that day for sure and my pace showed it.. The course was pretty good, it went through the parks first thing (probably so they could open on time) and there were a lot more people so I figured my pictures wouldn’t be much good that day. From there it wove into the streets of Anaheim, took us down to a trail (which I think I would’ve liked more if it was earlier in the morning) and then through the Anaheim Angels stadium and then back to Downtown Disney and the finish. It was a warm day and I felt myself fading around mile 9/10 but there was lots of course support which helped. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed running around the stadium and right around Mile 10 a woman was handing out magic feathers, which I happily took and ran with the rest of the way.

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I was happy with my finish and ready for a smoothie, but then remembered I had chosen to leave my card and all money in my hotel. I also didn’t bring any cash so I couldn’t take part in the post-race massage being offered at $1 a minute, maximum of 20 minutes. Take note: Always bring cash to the race! So I just walked back to my hotel to shower and change.

Aside from the race, I had a good time at Disneyland and was glad I got to see the 60th anniversary decorations before they came down, and their anniversary fireworks shows. I liked Paint the Night, loved their Disneyland Forever fireworks show, and really didn’t care much for the Celebrate show in Disney California Adventure.

 

I also tried the tea at Steakhouse 55 and while it was good, I liked the one at the Grand Floridian better, and I liked their original version better than the new one they changed to that has less options and costs more.  Food wise, I also  tried the Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans and agree with its reputation as delicious.

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All this could be yours, for the low price of $55

Lastly, I rode the Hollywood Tower of Terror one more time for myself before it goes away to become something else.

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It was a good trip and a fun race, but I think it will be my last Disney race for a while because of the cost, the time off, and the cost of everything else at Disney. My trip to Japan and China reminded me of how much I enjoy seeing new places and I want to do more international travel and not just the World Showcase at Epcot (though it was really funny to walk around China and say funny things about how it was so much bigger than the one in Epcot). That being said, I have a friend who is dying to do one of Disney’s new Star Wars races so I may end up back at Disney sooner than I expect.

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Please excuse potato camera, but how cute are these seagulls all together?

Roam If You Want To

It’s been a long time since my last entry, hasn’t it? I took some vacation time and went all over – Japan, China, Disneyland, Death Valley and Yosemite, and finished up with a women’s running camp put on by Oiselle (I’ll save that for another entry).

It would be way too long to go into Japan and China  but I had a great time. I did a tour with Affordable Asia and was really pleased with the service. It was so nice to have all the logistics taken care of for me, especially since I don’t read or speak Japanese or Mandarin.

Japan was so clean and exactly like I pictured it would be. I loved the food, so much seaweed and different noodles, and how beautiful the clothes were.

China was so different. I had such a hard time getting through the immigration that I was almost willing to just call it and get on the next plane back to America. China outside of the airport was a lot nicer, and a lot more like what I expected Southeast Asia to be like – lots of traffic, people driving crazy, lots of motor bikes and people everywhere. We were very popular because we looked so different and people stopped us for pictures everywhere. The food was also a lot heavier and had much more meat and noodles and less vegetables, and the people seemed much less concerned with fitness than they did in Japan.

Still, lots of fun and here are my 15 favorite pictures from the trip!

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The temple of the large Buddha

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Osaka Castle – 8 floors high

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Forbidden City

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Forbidden City

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Temple of Heaven

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Ming Tombs

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This is an imaginary animal that’s supposed to be good luck