eric, elephants, and (running in) england

Given my forever love for running, one of the first questions people ask about my boyfriend, Eric, is if he is a runner.  Strike that, they first ask how we met, THEN they ask if he runs.  Of all the questions that someone could ask about a significant other, it’s quite high up on the list.  I’ve always had an affinity for dating runners since it’s such a large part of my life, and Eric is the first serious boyfriend (whatever that means?) that hasn’t been a runner.  YIKES.  However, it’s been almost two years, so I suppose it’s working out, ha.

One day I’ll write a post about the benefits of dating a non-runner (holding my sweatpants so I don’t have to throw them away, texting my mom to tell her I’m still alive, etc. etc.), but that’s not what this post is about.

Eric is not a runner, and I’ve never actually tried to make him one.  However, awhile ago he promised he would run a 5k.  I did not prompt this, I did not ask for this – it was actually his idea!  Then we got into a mess of him preparing to move here, moving here, then OMG WINTER IS COLD.  I hardly wanted to run in it let alone a guy who doesn’t own pants worthy of running in 20 degree weather.  He still kept saying he’d run a 5k…some day.

In the meantime, I was scrolling through Instagram and some elephants caught my eye.  (This is relevant, stick with me!)  I follow the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust account to get my daily fill of cuteness, as they generally post daily baby elephant pictures.  If that doesn’t give you a boost, I don’t know what will.  However, this elephant picture stopped me in my Instagram-scrolling tracks:

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People in elephant costumes?  Running?  WHAT IS THIS?  TELL ME MORE.  I clicked through and found out that the DSWT does a fundraising 5k/10k in order to raise money for their elephant orphanage in Nairobi.  I actually visited the orphanage when I was in Africa in 2012…but apparently I’m the worst blogger ever and never finished blogging about my trip.  This is sad since the baby elephants were definitely worthy of their own post, and that’s right when I stopped!  Fail.  (Here’s a post about patrol week with the elephant voluntourism part of my trip…lots of elephant pictures!)  Just so you don’t totally miss out, here are some pictures:

Elephants on parade!

How could you not love them??

Gatsby saying hi.

The gist of the DSWT is to save elephants that have been orphaned as a result of poaching, raise the elephants, and release them back out into the wild.  This takes years because elephants are dependent on their mother’s milk for so long.  (DSWT has a special formula they make.  The elephants hold their own bottles once they’re old enough.  It’s adorable.)  They’ve had wildly amazing success, and it definitely aids in the dwindling elephant population.  And baby elephants are sooooooo cute.

Basically, it’s a great cause.  Especially if you love elephants, which you may assume I do since I carry around a stuffed elephants wherever I go.

So back on track here.  I researched the 5k/10k that appears to be run while wearing an elephant costume and was a little disheartened when I found out that it’s only in England.  It’s called the Enormous Elephant Run and is indeed run while wearing an elephant costume.  After polling Facebook about the ridiculousness of buying a plane ticket to London to run a 5k, I decided it wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve ever had.  After some plans I had hoped for fell through, I decided even more so that it would be a go.  (Especially after I learned you get to keep the elephant costume.  Um, done deal?)

Full circle back to Eric – obviously he wasn’t going to miss out on a travel opportunity (and I wouldn’t miss out on a travel buddy).  Before deciding to go, we joked about his first 5k being run in an elephant costume………..and yet here we are!  So yes, in June, Eric and I are flying to London for a long, long weekend in London.   And we will be running a 5k in an elephant costume.  (I pondered the 10k, but we weren’t so sure Eric would get up to that level so quick, and given my current injured state, a 5k might be a better idea for both of us.)  The downside is that the 5k isn’t timed, which might be for the better, but it also means that I can’t set an elephant costume PR.

Of course, this is a fundraising event, and I hate asking people for money.  (I was bad at selling Girl Scout cookies, if you that gives you any idea…)  However, although we paid an entry fee, they would like us to raise 200 pounds each (give me enough Girl Scout cookies and it might happen, har har…).  So, if you feel so moved to donate to save the baby elephants, you can do so at my Enormous Elephant Run fundraising page.  Any gift is welcome and much appreciated, and Gatsby certainly thanks you even more.

Annnnd back to Eric.  We headed over to the local Jack Rabbit running store so he could get fitted for shoes.  I tried to hold back my opinion and just ask him what he thought felt best.  He ran in a bunch of different brands, and he ended up picking the Brooks Adrenaline.  Be still, my beating heart!  My first love in running shoes.  Eric sure knows how to pick them.  ;)

ericrunning Giving it a go on the treadmill.

image He’s already mastered the Garmin/shoe picture…

Eric downloaded the Couch to 5k app, which he’s modifying a bit since we’re on a time crunch…and he may not have run too much while on vacation.  Oops.  I do admit I’m seriously jealous on the couple times he’s headed out to run while I’m…not running.  Role reversal at its finest.  I don’t know if this running thing will stick – Eric always talks about his knees hurting, so we’ll see how that goes – but this will certainly make for an interesting first race.  :)

Have you ever run in costume before?  I need tips.  Also, any tips on things to do/see/eat while in London – last time I was there was nearly ten years ago, yikes!

a non-running vacation: seattle and portland

It’s been almost three weeks since I posted about quitting a few things and how running seems to be quitting on me.  I pondered leaving it out there as a cliffhanger, maybe quitting the blog and having people wonder if that was it.  (All seven of you who might notice if I never blogged again, ha.)  Mostly my writing slumps come around when I’m not running much, and I definitely haven’t been running much…so not writing much.  Here we are.  I missed Nurse’s Week this year as well.  Although I usually do a week of nursing-related posts, I sat down to write and didn’t feel too compelled on anything.  I always have some ideas floating around in my head, but putting my thoughts into words didn’t quite come to me…so I didn’t.

So anyway, yes, I’ve been on hiatus from the blog.  And from running.  And from New York, as I headed to the Pacific Northwest for about ten days.  Originally, I planned on running the Eugene Marathon and hanging out in the PNW afterward, but injury led me to DNS the race and instead just have a non-race-related vacation.  Of course, I’m really sad about not being able to run, especially since Eugene is on my bucket list, but I know it’s for the better.  This also allowed me to enjoy delicious food and beer without second thought.

Recapping the entire vacation isn’t really my thing, so I think I’ll just do a top five from the two cities/areas we visited, and probably not in any particular order.

Portland

My brother lives just outside Portland, and my parents flew out to visit as well.  (They planned to watch the race, oops.)  It should go without saying that hanging out with my family was certainly a highlight!  After a bit of a rocky start where I learned that I’m still allergic to cats (hello, swelling eyes and emergency 11pm trip to CVS…), we had a lovely time.  Highlights include…

1.  Voodoo Doughnuts

voodoo

I’ve heard of the famed Voodoo Doughnuts from other people who have traveled to and/or live in Portland.  On Friday, we had some time to kill between my mom’s flight and my dad’s flight landing, so we took a quick trip into the city for deliciousness.  Then we happened to be nearby the next day and stopped by again.  I don’t love doughnuts, but they do have a ridiculous variety…although I stilled opted for vanilla with sprinkles.  We waited in line for awhile the second time, but they entertained us with trivia, and Eric and I both won tshirts.  HOORAY.

2.  Portland Saturday Market

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The Portland Saturday Market (which also runs on Sundays, ha) is basically a gigantic craft/food/random clothes fair.  It was a nice day (read: almost 80!) which was excellent for wandering.  At the first booth, we found this elephant tank and my trip was complete.  The market was also great for people watching…Portland is certainly keeping it weird.

3.  Portland Sightseeing! – Forest Park, Pittock Mansion, Japanese Tea Garden

forestpark Urban hiking…ish.

Many people mentioned Forest Park to me as something to do in Portland, and I wasn’t quite sure what it entailed…but I loved it.  We went on a hike (and ended up visiting the International Rose Garden…which will be really pretty in a week or two!) and kept commenting on how tall the trees are!  I’m used to tall buildings, but not so much all the tall trees.  Some people were running on the trail, which basically made me want to move out there and run there all day every day.  Although I’m sure people who live there don’t do that…

 

IMG_8223 Our new house!  hahahhahaha.

Pittock Mansion is a huge house that overlooks Portland.  It’s quick to go through (maybe an hour-ish?) and was pretty cool…it had some furniture from its original time period and some neat gadgets.  Worth a trip!

IMG_8286 Just hanging with the family in the tea garden.

The Japanese Tea Garden was something we kind of added in just do it – but it ended up being really cool!  Apparently Japanese ambassadors have said it’s the closest they’ve seen to a real tea garden in Japan, so it must be good.  It was really quiet and tranquil, as noted by the picture of my family staring at a waterfall.  Thanks to Eric for capturing the moment.

4.  The Coast

In Oregon, they don’t call the area where the land meets the ocean “the beach” as anyone else would, since you don’t really go sit on the beach.  The water never gets warm enough, so it’s just “the coast.”  While I certainly enjoy a day in a swimsuit in the sun, it’s still pretty even though it was a misty rain most of the time…

We headed to Cannon Beach, home to the Haystack Rock…and apparently where the Goonies was filmed, but I’ve never seen the movie.  (I know, I know…)

IMG_8371Mom and I at the coast!

Just taking a picture of my elephant…

5.  Hanging out with Portland friends!

I have no pictures because I’m a terrible blogger.  Oops.  Anyway, after “knowing” Jen for almost seven years, we finally met!  Jen had one of the first running blogs I ever read, and it was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own.  She stopped blogging a couple years ago, but I get to keep up with her adventures (and cute kids!) on Facebook/Instagram.  We chatted about my upcoming trip to Portland, and she invited Eric and over to dinner, and it was lovely!  It was great to meet her and her family, and we chatted for hours.  It’s always a little strange to “meet” someone you feel like you know, but it’s pretty cool too.  I had a lot of fun – thanks again to Jen and her family for having us over!  I hope to see you again before another seven years pass by…

I have another friend, Jason, who lives in Portland, who I also met on the internet.  (I’m so cool, I know.)  We met up with him at 10 Barrel Brewing for dinner and some of the local craft brew scene…then headed over to Rogue to try to find one of Eric’s favorite beers.  It’s been three years since I’ve seen Jason, and hopefully we’ll be able to catch up in person in less than three years as well.  (This whole east coast/west coast thing makes it rough!)

Seattle

After five days in Portland, we dropped my parents off at the airport before Eric and I headed up to Seattle by train.  I would definitely recommend train travel – it was about 3.5 hours, $29/person, and such a beautiful trip!  We only had one rainy day in Seattle (the first day…), so we lucked out.  Most days we spent playing tourist and then hung out with Eric’s friends in the evening – nice to have the local touch.

1.  DUCK TOUR

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I don’t know how you feel about Duck Tours, but I think they’re great.  It’s a fun way to see the city and learn a little bit about it.  Eric and I splurged (ha) for the quackers, and we were the only people on the tour with them.  Our tour guide was full of puns, which was hilarious because I have a terrible sense of humor.  Highlights of the tour including driving by the Brooks headquarters (it wasn’t part of the tour, but I still got excited…) and seeing the houseboats on the lake.  They’re super cool and will cost you a pretty penny…yikes!

2.  Chiluly Glass Museum

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I think my mom talked about going to the Chiluly Glass Museum every day we were in Portland.  I didn’t know much about him, but he does some mighty fine work!  He had all sorts of glass projects, from the balls in a boat pictured above, to vases/baskets, to gardens made of glass, to huge chandelier type things.  Super impressive and pretty.  At the end of the museum, they had a glass blowing demonstration…based on how long it took them to make one vase, I can only imagine how long it took to make some of his displays!  He has work in a bunch of cities across the world – check it out if you have a chance!

3.  Swinging by the Nuun office!

Nuun Platoon Van 2!

The two other things I’ve been in Seattle were compliments of running Hood to Coast with Nuun, which are experiences I still hold near and dear to me.  The picture above is of my original vanmates – including our awesome driver, Casey!  Eric and I stopped by the Nuun office in hopes of catching Kim and Casey, but Kim was out – but it was good to see Casey and how Nuun has grown since the last time I was there!  Big things are happening, as they just released Nuun Plus and just keep gaining speed.  With the summer heat heading our way, the visit was definitely a good reminder to stay hydrated.

4.  Hiking – Boulder Canyon River

I knew the PNW was a good spot for hiking, so I did some research before heading out.  Fodors had a list of “10 Best Spring Hikes,” and Boulder Canyon River was on there.  Done!  Eric’s friends like to hike (and have a car – double win), so we headed out  with them.  It was an easy hike, and we only did about the first 1-1.5  miles of it…as the waterfall was right there, and we spent some time climbing down/around the water fall.  Plus, it was misting a bit and apparently there isn’t too much past the waterfall.

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Hanging out with Eric in a giant tree…

Ah, the outdoors.

5.  Baseball!

safeco

Last year, Eric and I headed to California for the California Baseball Tour, hitting all the stadiums in the state.  You may remember my epic reviews of each stadium, and I still dream of Taco Tuesday at Petco Park.  One of the main reasons for heading up to Seattle was that Eric had never been to SafeCo Field, and when you’re THAT close, you might as well make the most of it.  So we did!  It was a rainy day, but luckily the field has a cover so we stayed nice and dry…and didn’t get rained out!  Smart move, Seattle.  The Mariners lost, but we had some awesome seats about six rows from the field…no foul balls came to our section, but maybe next time.

6.  BEER!

I’ll add in a sixth point for Seattle, as it happened to be Seattle Beer Week, so that was a win!  Plus, Eric’s friends happened to really like beer, so they had the inside scoop.  We checked out a bunch of different places, but Black Raven had a special at a bar, and their Kitty Kat Blues took the cake.  A pale ale with blueberries, vanilla, and catnip (yes, catnip), it tasted like a blueberry pancake, but not too sweet.  Give it a try!

hooray

So, that was that!  We ended up with a redeye where I didn’t sleep at all…thanks to the airplane being a bit like a sauna and a four year screaming behind me.  (Please don’t let me suggest that a redeye is a good idea ever again…)  Otherwise, a relaxing, not too crazy vacation with family, friends, and fun times!  Luckily, the next trip is right around the corner…stay tuned!

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