Daddy-Daughter Adventure #3

If you would have asked me that when I agreed to go on the back of my dad’s Harley Davidson cycle, we’d continue that tradition, I probably would have laughed. I never thought that we’d be blessed with opportunity after opportunity to spend quality time together. This adventure however kept me at home as my dad decided that since mom was in Nashville, TN, he’d venture to the PNW to visit me! It was a quick weekend but it was packed full of fun and adventure.

It started with a jog around my favorite location, Green Lake, which is also where I spend majority of my time with my running group, Seattle Green Lake Running Group. We didn’t go very far because as a spontaneous purchase, my dad and I decided to run the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon. We weren’t alone in our short jaunt. My roommate had one of his good friends from college in for the RnR Seattle, though he was running to win it, and he decided to come join us. There was a “HUGE” pace differences: my dad and I were closing in at 10:30 minute miles; he was at like 5:10 minute miles (or some crazy fast pace). You can imagine our faces when moments after we arrive he took off like a deer. My dad and I just started laughing because in less than 10 steps we couldn’t even see him. After our run, we grabbed some breakfast and coffee before heading home to get ready.

I knew Friday was going to be our one main day to spend in and around downtown but it was also our only chance to pick up our race packets. So that’s exactly what we did. I don’t drive into downtown because, well, driving a manual into the hilly center of Seattle is not a fun or easy combination. My dad didn’t mind taking the metro system and walking a little. We walked near the stadiums, took a few selfies with my new selfie stick (laughing while doing so), and wandered around the Expo enjoying the loves of runners.

After the expo, we headed through Pioneer Square, which was a first for him, and enjoyed a “Pre-Race” beverage at the Oldest Saloon, “The Central”. From there, it was to Pike’s Market Place for another selfie, then up towards Capitol Hill to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, a first for the both of us.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room opened in January 2015, located 9 blocks from the original Starbucks, and is a place for people to come and enjoy/taste/learn about unique blends of coffee.  Starbuck Reserve are rare and exotic micro live coffees that are unique to this location. I really had no idea what to expect, but I did learn that this roastery is responsible for roasting all of the Reserve label beans sold in all Starbucks. My dad and I did get to try two of the reserve labels, which in his words “the most expensive cup of coffee” and yes, he would be correct. This isn’t for the cheap at heart person, but it does offer a unique experience. We headed home for an early night after our tasting, but it wasn’t over yet.

A few days prior to my dad arriving, I received a WhatsApp message from my high school friend Blaine, who was going to be in town this same weekend and on a spur of a moment, decided he wanted to run the RnR Seattle Half Marathon too. So, after he landed at SeaTac, he taxied to my place to join myself, my dad, my roommate, and my roommate’s friend. Talk about a house full of runners.

We were able to catch some ZZZ’s before waking up and beginning our race day prep. This half marathon took me on a different training plan, which included adjusting my nutritional aspect to add a few supplements and this morning was nothing different. Luckily, my dad is the one helping me with my supplement/nutritional changes and so our mornings are fairly similar.

We made it to the meet up location for the SGLRG RnR crew for our typical race day photo before heading to the start line. I was pretty excited as this would be Blaine’s first official half marathon and my dad’s first big adventure through Seattle. My dad and I had a plan to run the first 5 miles at 9:30 pace then change to a 3 min. run/1 min. walk. However, at mile 5, I was feeling great and my dad told me to rock it. Which I did. I PR’d by 6 minutes finishing at 2hr 13minutes, a 10:13 minute mile pace. I was so extremely happy with this finish time and proud of my dad who didn’t finish to far behind me (2hr 27 minutes). Blaine finished at 1:54, my roommate came in at a 1:35, and his friend Roosevelt rocked it with a second place finish at 1:09. Do you know what it feels like to be standing at the start line knowing someone who is half way done before you even start? Let’s just say it provided some early morning laughter for my dad and I.

After the race and after-race party, we headed home to shower and re-get ready for another afternoon on the town before the Sounders game. I mean my dad couldn’t come to Seattle without experience a Sounders game. Blaine and Roosevelt joined us for a Ballard experience (one of my personal favorite). We enjoyed some good brews, good food and good company. Blaine parted ways with us as we head back to Pioneer Square for the ECS March to the Match experience.

One of my favorite parts of traveling with my dad is watching his face during new experiences. This was one of them. Between him and Roosevelt’s facial expressions, I was quite entertained. I think the biggest shock for my dad was the amount of people and the fact that we STOOD the ENTIRE game. We won 3-0 and the night still wasn’t over. It was time for dinner and we headed to another neighborhood close to home for some pizza and ice cream.

We crashed that night and woke the next morning a little stiff but ready for another adventure. We headed north to Mt. Vernon, joined by Roosevelt, where we were blessed with the chance to meet up with our Mexico/Canadian friends and spent the morning catching up. Instead of heading directly back to Seattle, we took a road trip detour to Lake Stevens. Reason is because this is the place of the Lake Stevens Half Ironman hosted in August of each year. I’m trying to convince my dad and his tri-group to race it. Another new place checked off for my dad and I together.

The night was less busy. We spent it relaxing, BBQ’ing, and enjoying each other’s company. It was a semi early night for both my dad and I, as he was jetting back home dark and early (like 3AM). I was absolutely blessed to be able to spend this weekend with not only my dad for our #3 adventure, but with my friend Blaine, and new friend Roosevelt. These are the moments in my life I cherish and love. AND my dad is already registered for next year’s RnR half marathon. Maybe I can convince my brother, sister, and mom to join in :-).

Stay tuned for my next mapless adventures.

Family Travel: Little Brother Visits Seattle

It’s been nearly two months since I turned 28 years old and that means it’s been two months since my little brother, Joel, came to visit me from his summer in Chicago. My brother, who was interning with his company at their head quarters in Chicago, was given the opportunity to fly out for an extended weekend. It would be his first time in the PNW and only my second family visitor since moving to WA in 2012. We have been discussing this trip pretty much since the moment I found out his company provided each intern with a free flight. In all reality, it was pretty much me telling him “You’re coming to Seattle”. My parents were also onboard with this plan to use the flight to visit his big sister, because we all knew he’d never come otherwise. I know I shouldn’t say never, but it’s hard for ue Lang siblings to travel to visit each other. So I was so excited when he actually booked the ticket. Plus, it was my birthday weekend too!

He landed pretty late Thursday night and I knew Friday was going to be an early morning so we didn’t do much once he landed. I love playing tour guide so I packed our weekend full of “typical” WA adventure starting off with a beautiful drive and hike in the mountains.

I’ve mentioned this before that the Cascade Mountain Range takes anywhere from a 45 minutes to 2 hour drive northeast/east/southeast from Seattle. For our hike, I selected one that I have been wanting to go on for sometime but haven’t been able to go. This summer has been all about alpine lakes and what better “Welcome to Washington” gift to my brother then to take him 4.1 miles up a mountain and make him jump/swim in one. This particular hike, called Lake Serene, is quite popular to many Seattlites and Washingtonians.

It’s a 8.2 mile round trip hike that climbs 2000ft, reaching the alpine lake at 2521ft. We started off on an old logging road before starting the climb up through  overgrowth forest, crossing over waterways and ascending upwards with the use stairs (yes, physical stairs built along the trail) until we finally arrived at the lake. We took a short break to refuel and then took a dip into the lake. The dip started off freezing, as the sun was beyond the mountain ridge and left us in full shade, but after several minutes became refreshing and much needed.

After the decent, we ventured to a local brewery in Everett, called Scuttlebutt, for some burgers and beers. It didn’t take us long after our arrival home before we crashed, as we knew another long day was waiting for us upon waking.

Saturday came quickly and before I knew it, my brother, my roommate and myself were heading down to CenturyLink Field for some pre-gaming at Pyramid Alehouse, where we met up with several other friends. This was my “birthday celebration” and what better way then to celebrate watching my beloved Seattle Sounders FC. The whole concept of our weekend together was to show my brother what it’s like to live here, and Seattle sports are a huge part of that. I don’t attend the Seahawks games ($$$) and rarely attend the Mariners, but the Sounders are a whole other story. My brother has never been to a professional soccer match and I loved being able experience it with him. The game was against Tottenham Hotspurs, a member of the English Premier League. Not only was this his first MLS game, it was both of ours first European match. It was a high scoring game of 3-3, but did end in a tie. I guess a tie is better than a loss.

After the game, the group ventured to a local pub for some grub. We didn’t last long before exhaustion set in, so we headed home for some RnR. The night was still young and as we were celebrating my birthday, we got ready and hit up the local bar scene in my favorite neighborhood, Ballard.

Ballard is a fairly popular night life spot that is only 10 minutes away from my home. It has one fun bar/dance club that my roommates and I are fond of, so after grabbing beers at King’s, another bar, we decided it was time to dance and DANCE we did, all night long.

You could imagine what Sunday consisted of after dancing all night long. If you’re thinking eating and lounging then you’d be correct. Joel and I left for brunch at popular joint called Portage Bay Cafe, per recommendation from one of my roommates. We weren’t disappointed and came home stuffed to the max. My original plan for Sunday was a microbrew tour throughout Seattle but being completely hungover (not going to sugar coat that fact) we didn’t make it very far from the couch. We did move later the evening and drove down to Tacoma to enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local breweries and met up with our brother-in-law’s little brother, Joe, who is currently stationed at Fort Lewis. This particular day, we were blessed with meeting his new wife and her daughter. I have spoken with his wife on the phone very briefly but I loved being able to finally met her and we enjoy each other’s conversation. After dinner, we decided that we wanted to relax but still do a little brew tour. Luckily, many of the local brews bottle their beers, so we did a “stay-at-home” brew tour with 6 local brews and watched movies.

Monday, his last day, was our “tourist” day. We drove past the Fremont Troll, wandered around Pike Place Market, stuck gum onto the Gum Wall, visited the Space Needle via the monorail, and walked along the boardwalk. Before his final departure, we ate lunch at The Pike Brewing Company, located in Pike Place Market and brewing since 1943. I “made” him get the beer sampler as one last good-bye from the Emerald City.

It was a hard, sad good-bye at the airport, but I couldn’t have asked for a better packed-filled weekend with my brother, Joel. We hiked, watched sports, drank local craft beer, and saw the sights. Hopefully, someone else will want to come visit me next summer so I can show them the Seattle Experience. I love my city! Until next adventure…

Contiki Friends Visit Seattle

My April Mexican Adventure with Contiki Holiday was amazing and came with many new friendships. Two of these new friendships even made their way to the Pacific Northwest for part of their holiday adventure and I had the privilege to be able to play tourist/tour guide to Nicola and Todd, both who venture their way to Seattle. Talk about exciting!

Nicola, who is from New Zealand was venturing to Hawaii with several girlfriends after Mexico but given a few extra days between decided to come to Seattle. Reason…”I just always wanted to come”. Unfortunately, due to work conflicts and busy schedules (as this was just 10 days after I returned), I wasn’t able to spend an extreme amount of time with her. Luckily, we did manage to finagle a night, where I took her the Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square. This is very touristy, not honestly not as touristy as you’d think. These tours take you to the original Seattle downtown, which as the tour title gives it away is underground.

If you don’t know already, Seattle’s original downtown is actually 1-level below the current street level. I could provide you with more details but quite frankly this is one of those learning experiences that you actually need to hear and see for yourself. Nothing I could write would explain it to you well enough, nor do pictures do it justice. This type of experience is one that I was very happy I got to share with someone who isn’t American and really didn’t fully understand what makes Seattle my favorite city. I love the history of this city and HIGHLY RECOMMEND anyone visiting Seattle to attend one of the Underground Tours.

After the underground, we ventured to a coffee shop close to where Nicola was staying and spent a good hour just talking. It was a very simple yet exciting time to spend with someone as lovely and kind as Nicola, plus she can make anyone laugh!

A few months after the Contiki tour ended, I had the chance to spend a few days with another tour mate, who to be honest with you, I only spend maybe 4 hours with him. He was on the second half of the tour, whereas I was on the first. Thankfully, Contiki provides a good chance to interact with people in that short amount of time.

One of the main reason Todd ventured south from Vancouver, BC, Canada was to watch the Seattle Mariners baseball game. Don’t get me wrong, I do love baseball, but I have always had a hard time with  the whole “American Baseball Experience” concept. At the same time, I’m never going to say NO or turn away from going to a sporting event, and I do love watching baseball. This was exactly what Todd and I did pretty much immediately after I met him at the greyhound station just outside the stadium!

We spent the afternoon chatting about our travels and enjoying some delicious beers watching the Mariners! After the game ended, we ventured into the heart of downtown and wandered the city before parting ways for the evening. The next morning was our “Extreme Touristy Day”, which is basically doing every typical Seattle tourist attraction within the downtown area. We walked through Pike Place Market, where we enjoyed delicious mini-doughnuts, Starbucks, and some Beechers cheese; spent some time being grossed out by the Seattle Gum Wall then headed off to the Space Needle. At this point, I was suppose to head off to work but due to unfortunate circumstances, I was blessed with the entire day off.

So what do you do with an unexpected day off with an Aussie…well I took him to one of my most favorite places to eat…”The Crab Pot”. Let me explain. The Crab Pot is a restaurant overlooking the Puget Sound and you can select from various mixtures of seafood, which they proceed to dump the food directly onto the table. You are given a mallet, a wooded board and bibs. Get it Crab Pot. It was quite delicious and very messy. After lunch, it was time to send Todd back to the greyhound station for his return to Vancouver. I didn’t know Todd much before this quick trip but I’m thankful for Contiki Holidays for allowing us to create such a wonderful friendship! Now it’s my turn to visit his city: Sydney, Australia. A girl can dream…one day, one day!

A Runner’s Log: Seattle Rock’N’Roll Half Marathon

Back in December/January, I signed up for the Seattle Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon and in all reality it was a great idea, except I didn’t know about Mexico at this point. When I found out the exact detail of my Contiki Mexico Adventure, I realized that the timing would run right at the beginning of my 12-week training program and I wasn’t sure what my training would look like after my return.

Since December, I have been working hard to get back into better shape and loose some weight I’ve gained.  Prior to Mexico, I was able to run 4-5 miles easily, but my fear was all that hard work would be a waste. I say this only because I didn’t want to miss out of anything in Mexico due to training and Contiki tours tend to be very fast pace and quite a bit of night life. Luckily, by the time I arrived home from Mexico I was still in pretty good running shape and maintained my 4-5 mile runs without difficulty (after a week or two that is).

Here is where my training takes a turn for the worst. The month of May hit and everything in my life turned upside down. I was still able to run a few days a week but nothing to the extent I wanted. Reason being that my lease was up at the end of May and I began the house hunt. I knew I was going to be moving up to Seattle and was searching for a room vs. apartment. As I had an entire apartment worth of furniture, I also needed to start downsizing my life. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to house/room hunt, downsize, work full time, train for a half marathon, and editing nearly 5000 photos from a 2-week adventure before but let me tell you that 1 of the ladder became not as important as the others (running/training). My training slowly started to move further and further down the “Importance” list and before I knew it I was moving into my new home AND started job hunting/interviewing (let’s throw more onto my full plate).

Now it’s the beginning of June and my half-marathon is only 3 weeks away and the longest distance I’ve ran is 5 miles. Talk about panicking. Luckily, moving to the area that I did, I was able to get connected to a local running group and began planning more runs during the week. At this time, my stress level also dropped because I had found a new job within one week of moving north. I was able to build up my endurance levels to tolerate 9 miles consistently at 10:30 pace. I’m not the fastest runner, but I don’t mind. My goal became more of “I am just going to finish” vs. “I’m going to break 2-hours (my initial goal)”.

It’s the 2 days before the race, which means expo time! I didn’t know anyone running this race at the time of registration, but due to my recent joining of the SGLRG, I ended up knowing quite a few people running/pacing this race and one particular runner became my running partner. She got me through my first 8 miler run and knew we’d be able to help each other through this race. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected injury, she had to withdraw from the race, but still joined me at the expo. Have you ever been to an expo for a race before? If you have, then you know how much fun they are. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you go! We spent a good couple hours wandering around the various booth and purchasing some new running gear to get us through our races.

It’s race day now and I’m pumped and ready to go. I got to the finish line, which was located right next to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center, with plenty of time to spare and for a good 30 minutes I simply stared at everyone around me. I always forget how crazy starting lines are at the start of the race and how much adrenaline begins to pump through your veins. I was still in complete awe that I actually was going through with this. The Seattle RnR Half Marathon is not my first half, however it is my first half I sort of trained for (considering the last one I had completed 0 training for and signed up 2 weeks before the race- you’re welcome Beki).

The race started and I was off. Let me tell you a little bit about this course I ran. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect for a race, the course took you through downtown Seattle, headed south with the amazing Mt. Rainier in the foreground, through a beautiful neighborhood along Lake Washington, before heading back towards downtown directly next to the stadiums. After the stadiums, you run back through a little portion of downtown before entering a highway, which places you along the waterfront of the Puget Sound and winds back to the Seattle Center. Seriously, my description of this course doesn’t even begin to describe the actual perfection of what I experienced. This race was by far one of the most gorgeous runs I’ve ever done. The changes in scenery from start to finish was just spectacular. I did stop several times to capture some footage and images (because who would I be if I didn’t) but I came in at a reasonable time, due to my lack of training. I ran 13.1 miles or a half-marathon in 2 hours and 25 minutes, which took off nearly 20 minutes from my first attempt. It wasn’t exactly the time I wanted but it does give me another goal to achieve with my next race.

Yes, my next race. I have registered to race in the Rock’n’Roll Vancouver, BC, Canada Half-Marathon: Inaugural Year. I guess it really is true what they say, once you start running it becomes addicting. I have recently restarted my training and am on week 2 of the 12-week training program. Let’s hope I can manage to stay on track with this training schedule this time. I really am hoping to break a 2:15 half-marathon (and again, I am stressing that I’m not the fastest runner).

Oh, yeah…I forgot to mention that the day of the race was also Summer Solstice, which is a HUGE celebration in Fremont (a neighborhood in Seattle) and so after the race, instead of relaxing and sleeping, I started drinking and spending quality time with my roommates. This turned into a night out on the town and staying up until 2 in the morning. Talk about long, exhausting day. Good thing, I had all day Sunday to recover as I started my new job that Monday. Let me just emphasize, I really don’t like to take things easy. It’s “Go Big or Go Home” as my mother would also say!!!

Something about “Starting Fresh”

Returning from Mexico, I instantly became, well, depressed. I mean for the last 5 months, my life has consisted of planning and preparing for my Mexican Adventure with Contiki and I didn’t really know what to do now that I had returned. I tried to jump right back into the swing of things (work, gym, play) but something was missing.

My lease was about to end and I didn’t want, nor was I going to stay where I have been living for the last year of my life. I was tired and bored of living along and it just wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. I spend most of my time in Seattle and knew it was time to make the move to the big city. It took about a month of searching, email and interviewing (and panicking) before I finally found my perfect new home. This new home was in the heart of my social life, but was different than any other living situation I’ve ever put myself into. I mean, I’ve lived with roommates before but never more than 2 ladies. This house has 5, yes 5, total women (including me) living in a three-story three-bathroom home built in the year 1909. It sounds like tight quarter, being there are 5 of us, but in reality, this home is fairly decent in size and besides now I have 4 new amazing friends in my life. Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone, but that’s what Mapless Adventures is all about.

This house is located on the east side of a lake just north of Seattle and with nothing but the lake in view from our balcony, we get to end most nights watching the sunset across the lake and feeling blessed to be given the chance of a lifetime to live where we live. God has been so good to me this year, and I think he has something in store for me this year by opening up this opportunity to live in a new home, in a new city, with new friends.

But the “starting fresh” doesn’t end with a new living situation. Shortly after finding my new home and while searching online, a posting was found about a job opening at a facility located just 1 mile west of my new home. After applying and going through the interview process, I was offered this new position and started only 2 short weeks after moving to Seattle. This news basically means I only had to commute 45 minutes south for 10 working days. I have been driving no less than an hour to and from work for the last two years, and now my commute to work is under 5 minutes. Honestly, I don’t even have to drive if I choose not to, I’m only 1 mile from work. Talk about a blessing in disguise. If you commute to work, you have my sympathy. I didn’t even move before I was dreading driving to and from work 45-60 minutes each way.

I know this isn’t normally the type of post I write on Mapless Adventures, but both moving and accepting a new position were not part of my plan. I don’t know where I’d be if I decided not to take a chance and move into a house with four amazingly beautiful and kind women and starting a new job with less stress and less driving. I feel like this year has been one of my best years to date. I’m eager to see what else God has in store for me for the remainder of 2014. Stay tuned for more Mapless Adventures.