Our Long Weekend at Miraval Spa💆🏼‍♀️🧘🏻‍♀️🚵‍♀️

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Recently hubby and I visited Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson. We went to celebrate my birthday and Valentine’s Day this year. And, although the resort was only 40 minutes from our Tucson home, it was as if we had journeyed much further. The tranquil environment, delicious food, beautiful setting and indulgent treatments were just what we needed! It’s no secret that Dennis and I are tremendously active, and our sore bodies needed a little TLC, in the form of massages 💆🏼‍♀️ and down time.

This is a popular spa and we had to plan our trip months ago. So far in advance that we sort of forgot what we signed up for😂. We had many options to choose from, and not just in the spa treatments, but the activities list was extensive! Everything from horseback riding to psychic readings was available. We tend toward active pursuits and stayed true to form. We did, however, avoid activities that we already participate in regularly.

The weather was a little cool, but we did get some sun from time to time. Our first goal was to orient ourselves to the property, so we set out to take a look around.

 

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View from the spa, overlooking one of the pools

 

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The mediation area, near the front entrance

 

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We didn’t have too much time because we were scheduled to take the slack line class! I was particularly excited about this one 🤩.

We started out low to the ground and them made our way up to the higher line. Dennis was pretty good at this!

I am really in love with this! It’s an excellent way to work on balance and strengthen the core. You will be seeing more of this on Instagram next month, as I already purchased one 😂

After our class, Dennis headed out to a yoga class that caught his attention. I decided to work on my own practice on the back patio at our room.

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And, continued looking around!

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We also spent some time in the pool 🏊‍♀️, and next to it reading. So great to just relax for a bit! We both had massages scheduled for later that night, so dinner was first.

Oh the food!! Have you been to a spa? If so, you know that the emphasis is on healthy, tasty meals😋. All dishes have the nutritional breakdown listed, and is appropriately portioned. Of course it is still easy to consume too much! It is a lot like going on a cruise, where the food is included, so you do have to police yourself😉

We (tried) to eat lite, as we had the massages later, and no alcohol since we had an early tightrope walking class the next day. Still, we had to try three desserts 😂

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The next morning, it was time to hit the ropes course. I had signed up for this experience and had them add it to my hubby’s schedule too, without telling him! That was two months ago, and I meant to tell him….really!

We went through the safety stuff, were fitted for our harnesses and the order of participation was set. Much to my chagrin, I was last😳, and Dennis was to go first.

So, up he went. The course is 35 feet above the ground and is effectively a slack line with ropes to grip as you make your way across the obstacle.

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Dennis had no trouble moving all the way to the last rope (on the right of the picture). The vertical support ropes start out close together but grow farther from one another as you progress.

As I mentioned, he was first, and I was to be 8th. So, we watched the other ladies for a while. Most made it all the way🌟

Finally, my turn!

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more clouds have moved in!

 

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Yep, I made it too! Dennis took this shot. I look like a spider in a web 🕷🕸!

We went for breakfast after this and I was in heaven. Breakfast is my favorite meal and Miraval did not disappoint!

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Pesto fried egg on a roasted sweet potato 😋

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And, steel-cut oats with more eggs! 🥚

We split up after this amazing meal. I went to the spa to hang out in the hot tub and have a facial, while hubby went to another yoga class. He had another treatment as well, so we did not see one another until the sunset hike later that evening.

The hike itself was fairly straight forward. Since we do live here half the year, we have been on many desert hikes, but never with a guide. She was wonderful and very knowledgeable about the desert environment. Not too much of a sunset though, as it was quite cloudy☁️

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She did point out this prickly pear that had a heart shaped lobe. Had to grab this image for Valentine’s Day ❤️

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We finished our 2 hour hike just in time for dinner. This time, there were no restrictions for time the next day, so we had some drinks 🍸🥃🥂 and, then a few more🤪

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We also continued to explore the menu! A few appetizers…..

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And, two more desserts to sample 😂

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We crowned the dessert winner….This sweet potato tart with white chocolate ice cream 🏆

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At some point, during another round of drinks, I noticed that I was feeling a little off.. a cold perhaps? Oh well, not tonight!

The next morning however, ya, I was starting to feel a little yucky! But no matter! We had mountain biking to do 🚵‍♀️🚵🏻‍♂️

I don’t have any photos of this as we were too busy mowing over obstacles, but believe me it was a sight to see hubby on a bike😂 definitely not his comfort zone! We did not fall and had fun, all you can ask, right?!

Dennis went off for a massage and I headed to my yoga class. I signed up for a yoga wheel experience, but when I got there, it was just me😳 I ended up having a private session in the most beautiful yoga studio.

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Just the teacher and me

 

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What a view!

By now, I was limber and feeling the full effects of my cold 🤧 Time for some hot beverages

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And, another round of hot tub soaking, and my final spa treatment. I had a sugar scrub and was all set for, more hot beverages, and dinner.

This would be our last dinner, so we wanted to have our favorite dessert one more time. As well as something really tasty for the appetizer and entrée.

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The farm fresh egg appetizer

 

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Roasted shrimp with forbidden rice entrée

Afterward, we took a walk around and saw a beautiful sunset!

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By now, I was ready for bed, with my cold in full bloom!

Our last morning at Miraval and Dennis had one more spa treatment, while I went to the core blasting experience. So glad I didn’t cancel this one!

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I had never used one of these boards before! It was fun, not super hard, but I may have been in need of a tougher class for this one. Many other folks seemed to be hurting 😂, at least I got some exercise in before we left!

One last stroll around the beautiful grounds.

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This long exposure almost looks like a cartoon

 

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And, with that, we left for the short drive home 🏠😊

Such an amazing experience. We truly felt rejuvenated, and rested. We chose a mixture of relaxing treatments and fun activities for our experience, but you could truly go more indulgent or more active. We recommend Miraval, and the spa experience in general.

I’m already looking forward to our next visit🌟

 

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A Yoga Retreat 🧘🏻‍♀️, and I am the Caterer👩🏻‍🍳 😬

That’s a scary thought huh?! You might be wondering how this happened, I know I was!

Last January we went Mexico to attend a yoga retreat. I did a few posts on that trip. This was the same location as the previous yoga retreat, which we loved! Our yoga instructor, Lisa Shifler for both of those retreats, recently moved to Twisp, WA, 4 hours east of our home in Redmond. She told us that she was building a “yoga Shalla” on her property and would be holding retreats this summer.

We were all sitting at breakfast, talking about her plans when she said she was looking for someone to do the cooking for two weekends in June, during the women’s only yoga retreats. I blurted out “I will do it!” And she said “great!” 😳

What was I thinking!! After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this would be a great challenge and experience for me. And, with the first one in the books, I can honestly say it was a blast!

I had never been to Twisp before, which is located in the Methow Valley. I have heard great things about the area so I was excited to see the area. It is as advertised!

This is the Methow River, and it is so relaxing and I love the sounds of the water flowing along.

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I drank a lot of coffee sitting next to this beautiful scenery💕

And all the blooms were out. 🌼🌸🌹It is sunny on this side of the mountains, as they get less rain than the Seattle side.

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Lisa’s yoga Shalla was so cute and inviting!

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Lisa decorated with articles from her two trips to India

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And, bought Mexican blankets, a nod to our other retreats .

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But I had a job to do! I made two desserts, both gluten free, dairy free as one of the ladies has Celiacs. Friday night we had a chocolate cake with bruleed bananas. Saturday’s dessert was this angle food cake with triple berry sauce and ice cream (for the dairy folks). Some of you may remember these from instagram, as I have been recipe testing for the last few weeks.

Then I had two brunches to prepare, both had gluten free options as well.

Our first morning we had crustless quiche, one with cream cheese and one without. There was also fruit salad, mango-orange Greek yogurt, gluten free granola, breakfast potatoes (not shown), cranberry & pistachio biscotti and sourdough bread that I had made a few days earlier.

Sunday’s brunch also included the yogurt and granola option, along with a French toast bake, gluten free pancakes and bacon.

Lisa also made some gluten free steel cut oatmeal both days and I never got to taste it! Hopefully I will next time😊.

I am happy and proud to report that no one got sick!! That was my biggest fear, and we all were pleasantly full for the weekend.

The weekend wasn’t all about yoga, we had some creative time. We painted inspirational rocks from the river. I have a couple weeks to think about the next design and am hoping to come up with a better idea for my second rock!

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We also went into the town of Winthrop to do some shopping. I had never been there before, and found it to be a cute town. I have travel blogged about Leavenworth, a nearby town that has a Bavarian theme. Winthrop is fashioned after an old western town.

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This dude was in front of the Putt Putt Golf Course.

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Like most tourist towns, there were plenty of ice cream and coffee shops. I love the mottos and sayings of these two in particular!

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The weekend was a success! The 8 of us had a great time shopping, eating and stretching!

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The Yogis, relaxing and shopping

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Lisa, (left) is our instructor and Teena (right) also teaches in the Seattle area.

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And I am now thinking about what to prepare for the last week in June, when I will head back for the next, and final, retreat. Any suggestions??

 

Yoga Retreat, One More Time

Last January I let my hubby talk me into attending a yoga retreat. He is a big yogi and his instructor told him about a retreat she was holding just north of Manzanillo. I was skeptical. I don’t love Mexican food, we had been to Mexico many times and it was always way too hot for me and I only do yoga when I can’t rock climb or run. So, how much fun could I possibly have?

The answer: So Much!!

Our goal last year was to meet fun people and do some yoga. We greatly exceeded those expectations, so much so that we signed up to go again this year. We even hosted a reunion last summer at our house. My blog posts from last time Good Morning from Manzanillo!, Exploring Bara de NavidadHappy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay! and Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up! are full of pictures and images that we were privy to this time around as well. So, for this year’s post, I tried to focus more on what was different.

Bill and Susan, our hosts, were once again, fabulous! They made most of our meals and they both are great cooks! Additionally, they would take us to places that no other tourists go-we had day trips to Colima and Comala and they chose restaurants that the locals frequent. They are a big reason why we chose to repeat this experience. Of course Lisa, our yoga teacher, was another big draw to the event! Once again we met wonderful people and had even more adventures. We did repeat the snorkeling trip but otherwise the experience was unique.

We began each day with meditation at the nearby beach then morning yoga, at Bill and Susan’s home. Look at these views!

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The infinity pool at the lower house

 

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View from the lower house

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Another angle from the lower house

We did all our yoga at the upper house, under the palapa. You can see the pool at the upper house as well

We had morning and evening yoga sessions. This year Lisa challenged us with partner yoga poses. She would give us a pose and then we had to interpret that pose in a creative way. For example, Dennis and I did a “moon pose” on the beach.

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And, Janet and Annie did this interpretation of the fish pose, in the pool

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So these were more creative poses than the traditional forms. It was fun to see what everyone would come up with for their assignment.

In between all the yoga were the adventures. Snorkeling, hiking, museum visits and lots of shopping.

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And the food! Oh my god, did we eat!! If Bill and Susan weren’t cooking then we were at some amazing restaurants! I have a few images, many of which were on Instagram, of some of the cuisine we were fortunate to enjoy.

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Breakfast was wonderful! Bill’s granola and yogurt, with local fruit was a fan favorite. And with this sunrise, hard to beat!

 

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Bill and Susan always served dessert-This is a Poncho Villa. Amazing!

 

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Lunch in Colima, these crepes could have been from Paris

 

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Bill and Susan selected this restaurant near Colima. So glad they did!

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Many of you know about my coffee “issues”, This Sunday brunch spot, Los Portales de Suchitlan, was a true highlight. A young girl served as our translator as this was a local place, no tourists around!

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And then this…A Swiss restaurant (?) in Comala, Mexico! Piccolo Suizo was spectacular!

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You can see why we are trying to eat lighter after coming back to Tucson! We ate constantly on this retreat, and it was worth it! So good 🙂

We had another wonderful experience this year, just like last time. One of the tasks I undertook was to organize a slide show for the final night, I was the only one who brought a computer (what a nerd, right?). I took the partner poses and some fun images of our experience to attempt to capture the feel of the week. It is short, only 2.5 minutes and our yogi buddies wanted to see it again. I thought I would post it here for anyone who wants to see a few more images.

 

So what is next for Dennis and I? We need to spend some time on the homes for now, no trips planned right now, but you never know!

Gardening Update, 3 Months Later!

A few nights ago we hosted a party at our house. This was a reunion for our yoga retreat friends. You may remember that my husband and I went to Santiago, Mexico back in January to attend a yoga retreat lead by my hubby’s favorite yoga instructor. We had an amazing time snorkeling, sight seeing, eating and, of course, doing lots of yoga! I created several posts which you can see here, here and here. 

In fact we had such a great time that we have already signed up to go again in January of 2018! Our hosts who are americans living in Mexico, Bill and Susan, were visiting in Seattle this month and we couldn’t resist the urge to get “the band” back together again. We offered our home for the 20 or so folks who attended either the first retreat week with us or were part of the second week group. Since I was responsible for the desserts you might expect that this is a food related blog post. I did post an Instagram picture of my little sugary creations.

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top left: Lemon meringue flower tarts, top right: Berry white chocolate mousse cookie cups, bottom left: Peanut butter chocolate fudge, bottom right: Salt caramel cheesecake bites. I also made some appetizers and potato herb dinner rolls.

But this post is not about the food! Everyone who came to our house that night had never been here before. We saw our home through new eyes which is always a delight. It is so easy to take what you have for granted when you view it day in and day out. But our guests were so complementary about our home and, in particular, our garden and backyard that I began to take notice myself. I realized it has been awhile since my last garden post in which I shared the status of the new spring plantings and planter boxes that I hung along the fence line. So, here we go WARNING: lots of pictures!

We have three of these large pots, one on the deck and two on the patio below. I chose coleus plants and sweet potato vines, in varying colors for each pot.

This is one of the two on the patio. The hummingbirds love this red plant (don’t remember what it’s called!)

The hydrangeas are doing particularly well this year. They line the stairway down the side of our home and lead into the patio.

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Do you remember what the planter boxes looked like back in April? Ya, me neither! Here they are.

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And now….

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What a difference in just three months! I also put two other planters (which I did not build but purchased and painted) on the adjacent side of the fence line. They also filled in nicely.

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In fact, the entire garden has filled in!

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This is a pathway (that leads nowhere really) from the side of our patio.

 

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Same pathway as viewed from above

These plantings fall under the category of “trying to attract more hummingbirds”. It does seem to be working as we now have two fighting over territory of the yard.

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Other plants were chosen for their color or uniqueness.

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love this purple color

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This is a banana leaf plant and will be huge in August

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Others were selected to help with weed control, to serve as ground cover, but I still wanted variety and color.

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The garden really has come a long way. I am happy with the overall look, but will still be tweaking things here and there. After the third growing season I can see that some plants need to be thinned, or removed all together. Of course there is the constant weeding! I am going to try to remember to take a step back and enjoy the surrounding and attempt to avoid the tunnel vision I often acquire when I work in the yard. After all, the point is to enjoy the fruits of our labors and not just look for more flaws, right!

We also recieved a lovely bouquet of flowers from one of our guests, so I would like to leave you with some pretty images of lilies and dahlias.

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Thanks for reading this far! Enjoy the summer while it lasts and I wish you all good fortune!

Half Marathon Training Wrap Up!

 

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Spoiler Alert: We survived!

This last week of training was fairly straight forward. We had two runs scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday with the option of either 4 or 5 miles each of those days.  I decided to make them both 5 milers, while my hubby went with 5 on Tuesday and 4 on Thursday. My average pace Tuesday was 9:51 and Thursday was 9:41. I don’t know why one was a little faster than the other, it was the same course and same time of day. The only difference was that it was raining pretty hard on Tuesday with a decent wind to contend with, so perhaps that affected me more than I realized.

 

 

 

I have been so nervous about my back injury and this half marathon, that I have been really scaling back other activities. I did go climbing a couple times this week, but didn’t try anything too hard. When Saturday rolled around we made our way into Seattle to pick up our race packets at the runners expo.

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It was really starting to sink in that this was going to happen! We decided to sign up for the morning VIP package. This is a pre-race option that would allow us to park at the finish line, take a shuttle to the start and a continental breakfast would be available to us. We also would benefit from a private gear check and, most importantly, flush toilets just for the the VIP group. We have done this at other races and have never regretted spending the money for this perk. However, the start time for this year was 6:30am which meant that we had to catch the shuttle at 4:30am! Factoring the drive to the parking garage and getting ready for the run meant getting up at 3:30am! We were not sure that this was a brilliant idea this time.

Saturday evening, we decided to take a Yin Yoga and Gong Bath class. If you are not familiar, Yin yoga focuses on holding static poses for longer periods of time to allow for greater stretching of the muscles. A Gong Bath is effectively meditation with background music played on a variety of gongs and chimes. Our thought was that this would give our muscles a good stretch, before we made them work really hard the next day, and help relax us and wind down before the race on Sunday. Did it work? I think so. My back was less tight and we were happy to have the diversion from thinking about running 13 miles the next morning!

The big day finally came on Sunday. We got up at 3:30am (ugh) and made our way to the start at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. We immediately saw the wisdom of the VIP package as the line for the honey buckets was the worst I have ever seen at any race in which we have participated. 20,000 people registered for the Seattle Rock n’ Roll and about 250 were in the VIP area. We had coffee (several cups), bagels and yogurt parfaits. Not to mention space heaters! Both my hubby and I made several trips to the bathrooms and the runners outside were lucky to get one. Yes, I will be sticking with the VIP option for future races!

The course this year was a little easier than last year, which I appreciated! My husband was in the fast wave and I started about 30 minutes later. I was nervous about my curtailed training the last few weeks, but it went just fine. Actually better than fine!

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I managed an average pace of 10:15 and had my fastest half marathon to date! This was my third half and the fastest as I finished in 2:16.  I was shocked as my only goal was to keep running the entire route and be able to walk, with my back intact, the next day.  I did a lot better than that-so grateful my body held together.

My husband absolutely crushed this course finishing in 1:38! That’s a 7:20ish pace and a PR for him! Not too shabby for only his second half marathon. Unfortunately, he really pushed it and was hobbling around for the rest of Father’s Day! He laid on the couch and watched the US Open and rehabilitated.

We are both happy and grateful to be healthy and active at this point in our lives. We are planning another half in the fall, but have a lot more to do before that! I want to really hit the climbing routes now that I don’t have to hold back anymore. I also want to start up golf lessons again, provided I keep healing!

Thanks to all of you who were supportive and for your words of encouragement, both on the blog and Instagram, I really appreciate your positivity!

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Half Marathon Training, Week 15 Update!

This is it! My last update before we run the Seattle Rock n’ Roll half marathon on June 18th, Father’s Day. It is hard to believe that we are only a week away from the day. It seemed so far away when we began training 16 weeks ago.

This last week was really tough for me. My back is slowly, so slowly getting better, and I have been stressing over it. We got back from our Vegas trip on Monday and had a 12 mile run scheduled for Tuesday. It did not go well!

 

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I really struggled to get this 10 miles done and had hit the wall and could not go 2 more without possibly doing more damage to my back. At this point I was beginning to question if the half was a good idea. Sure, I could walk the rest but what is the point of that! Even with the struggle my time was not that hideous at 10:38 average pace. But I was in pain and dejected!

When Thursday rolled around, I hit my usual trail for the 4 mile assignment. Even though my pace was faster I still felt exhausted and it seemed like this was such a hard 4 miles-How was I going to do 13!

 

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I was dreading the 6 mile run today. I have been so down and stressed about my injury and my pace. And then I decided to change my narrative. Today is a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. The type of day we all dream about here when it is dark and raining for 3 months straight. I took a look around and saw the kayakers gliding down the slough, the bikers dusting off their cycles and all the families out enjoying the sunshine. I decided I was going to relax and just run. The pace and mileage would take care of itself! I did not push myself or set a specific goal, just ran because I love to.  It turned out to be the break my mind and body needed. I had the most enjoyable run of the last two weeks since I hurt my back!

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My pace was 10:04/mile and that is not bad for me! We are heading into the taper week and have 4-5 mile runs on both Tuesday and Thursday and then the half on Sunday! We will be carb loading both Friday and Saturday night, and have booked a Gong yoga class Saturday night to relax and stretch our mind and body.

I am hoping to have a recap of the event to post as the wrap up to this project next week.

Wish us luck!

 

 

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Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up!

We finally made our way back to Seattle, which thanks to Trump and his new policy made it quite difficult as we were swept up in the protest at SeaTac! But, mine is not a political blog and I will leave that story for someone else to tell!

I spent our first day back much like anyone else arriving home after a week away. I did bills, laundry, grocery shopping and a run to Costco to stabilize the household. Now I have a moment to describe the last two days of our retreat.

Thursday morning we got an early start, to beat the heat, and went on a hike to an abandoned hotel. Palm Royale did not survive for long. The story that was told is that the hotel was finished and was scheduled for a soft opening. However, the workers were not paid the wages they were owed and they decided to dynamite the only road leading to the hotel to protest the lack of reimbursement. The developers never reopened! Now, I don’t know if that story is true but it is certainly colorful. The hotel sat at the top of a mountain and the views were outstanding!

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We arrived at the top just after sunrise

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This is a birds’ eye view of the shoreline where we met our boat for the snorkeling tour

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As you can imagine, this is a favorite hang out for local teens to tag and party!

We made our way back down and headed over to La Cumbra for breakfast. This restaurant is located in a gated community consisting of condos mostly owned by Americans who have retired and relocated, at least for some of the year, in Mexico.

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The view from our table located outside on the patio

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This is a small portion of the full condo complex

We were told about a bridge on the property that had been damaged, some years ago, by a hurricane and had never been repaired. So, of course we had to go investigate after our meal.

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It did not look to bad yet!

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We started to see what they meant!

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It was stabile enough for us to cross one at a time, and the view on the other side was worth it!

That evening we had a special treat. A local woman came to our condo to teach us all how to make authentic Mexican tamales and enchiladas. I am not a big fan of Mexican food in general but do love to learn how to properly cook alternate cuisine, so I was very excited to learn from her. She is the “lunch lady” at the local elementary school down the road from our hosts. She brought a mix of masa, which is corn meal, flour and lard, and a variety of fillings for the tamales and enchiladas. She then proceeded to show us how to construct and cook the dishes, she even brought her personal steamer which was large enough to hold all 24 tamales.

With the tamales done, it was time to work on the enchiladas.

Of course, no Mexican meal is complete without home made corn tortillas. I got to try my hand at making these. The mixture was just corn meal and water, no lard this time! I rolled them into a ball, then pressed them with a traditional wood press. We then cooked them off in a dry sauté pan. It was actually surprisingly easy!

We ate, too much, then went to evening yoga and meditation. The next day was our last full day in El Naranjo. I skipped yoga in lieu of one last run in the warm weather! I ran 5 miles and then jumped in the pool! After breakfast we headed to the Tortugario Ecological Center of Cuyutlan. This is a sea turtle preserve and plantation. We were treated to a boat ride in the mangroves to search out snakes, birds, iguanas, turtles and crocodiles.

The turtles were easy to find, the other animals, not so much!

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The large adults in their holding tanks would swim right up to the edge to check us out

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These cute little guys hatched not too long ago

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The eggs are protected by fencing and marked with plastic buckets

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We made our way to the boat and got our first glimpse at the mangroves and tropical forest

We saw many birds and a few iguanas that hid too far back into the jungle to photograph. We did catch a couple interesting sights.

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Two Great Snowy Egrets

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This little croc was hiding in the reeds trying to cool down.

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These are two of the biggest termite nests I have ever seen!

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The tour was at an end. So, you know when you take your kids to the zoo which ends with the obligatory trip to the gift shop, and they want everything in sight? Well, you won’t have that problem at this gift store!

We had one last evening yoga session that night and prepared to leave paradise the next day. We had a blast on this retreat! Our hosts, Susan Lewis and Bill Pecha are amazing! They provided all the meals, transportation, lodging and excursions-this was truly all inclusive and can they cook! The food was amazing, better than any of the restaurant meals that we had! They worked with our yoga teacher, Lisa Kaulen, to put together a great week of activities that kept us motivated and engaged. We highly recommend this type of trip if you want to see some place that is not just the regular touristy sights, and enjoy physical activity!

Good Bye El Naranjo!