Community in Chocolate

Eight years ago we forged a friendship over running. Six years ago I ran my first half marathon with Alicia at my side. Four years ago Erin, Alicia, and I began this journey of the Hot Chocolate Run. And this year, we chose once again to foster our community through our love of running…and chocolate. This race is no joke; we a run 15k (9.3 miles) on brutal hills and questionable weather. It’s truly one of the hardest races we’ve ever done–so why do we keep coming back? Because after running that demented race, we get UNLIMITED chocolate. Drinking chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and amazing chocolate-flavored gear. Oh, and we get a tech sweatshirt and a plethora of scrumptious swag in addition to all deliciousness.
Go ahead and let that sink in and let me know if you want to join us next year.

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Upon arrival at the hotel, March 2, 2018. READY FOR CHOCOLATE!


So this morning, three friends left bright and early and headed north. We’ve traveled together up and down the west coast, from San Diego to Seattle and east to Bend. These ladies are my running rock stars.


When you reach your thirties, there is a level of entertainment that shifts. Whereas we used to go out on Saturday nights and do body shots, shake our booties, bring home boys, and wake up feeling like we swallowed metal-spiked hairballs laced with arsenic, now we recognize a more…sophisticated palate. Instead of body shots, we train our bodies to run for miles. Instead of staying up all night, we pass out at a reasonable hour and get a few amazing nights of sleep. We try unique restaurants and giggle for hours.
And I’m digging it. I love the traditions we’ve created: our yearly brunch at Toulouse Petit for their incredible Cajun food, the trip to the flagship Nordstrom to devour the fashionable deals, and all the adventure walks we take along the way. Of course we always stay at the adorable Maxwell Hotel, which happens to be right next to Key Arena/Space Needle AND the finish line.
Community. Chocolate. Bliss.

Snowpocalypse Recap

Hello from snowy freezing slushy Portland, Oregon! We’ve finally melted and all is pretty much back to normal here. At least the rains have finally come and washed away most of the snow banks. I never thought I’d hear myself say that I’m grateful for the rain, although I don’t have a severe hatred for it like some transplants. (I credit my running habit—once you start running in the rain for 3+ miles, you realize there are much worse things than getting a little wet.)
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However, my gracious attitude towards the rain does not lessen my love for what has been called the Snowpocalypse of 2013. I am very lucky to live and work close-in to downtown Portland, and therefore can easily get around on public transportation. So instead of getting stir crazy inside my apartment, rationing a dwindling supply of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, I frolicked. I played Uno Attack and went sledding with my awesome neighbors on Friday. Allison’s Uno victory dance and Danny’s smack talk were legendary; the Flexible Flyer that we took to the top of Fremont did us proud; we watched the Blazer game and ate pizza. It was pretty great.
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The next day I decided that I needed to hit the city, snowman style. I put on my ski pants, jacket, and trusty hat (plus two pairs of socks, 3 shirts, a neck buff, and gloves) and snow-hiked to the MAX train that took me downtown. I met up with several groups of friends during the day (even met some new ones!), walked all over town, gulped warm drinks and ate bad food, and not until 11 p.m. did I realize that the MAX had been shut down due to the freezing rain. Not a problem! I hiked back across town to find the one bus line that was going my way and waited…and waited…and waited. Luckily my friend Ruth had tagged along, trying to figure out if she would be able to get as far as 60th (Alas, the bus stopped at 25th. No matter, my living room and an air mattress were just fine for her.), and so we chatted as we watched for the bus that would take us across the river. When it finally sailed (lurched, skidded) to a stop on NE 15th, we decided we’d better get a drink to celebrate making it over the bridge, and hit up my neighborhood bar for one last drink (2 drinks and a shot).
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Sunday was more of a relaxed day. Did I get anything productive done? Nope. Do I regret it? Nah. Snowpocalypse weekend was all about feeling fancy free and not worrying about the little things. I had heat, I had food and drinks, and I had great friends and fantastic moments.

HOWEVER! Now that playtime is over, it’s time to get serious again. Up next on the roster is the Hot Chocolate Run in Seattle, and I have some pretty hardcore training to do in the next 2.5 weeks. Join me in a training run, wish me luck, or come to cheer me on in Seattle on March 2nd. If you’re less of a runner and more of a consumer, the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival are also coming up soon.
Who says winter has to be dreary? Come out and play!
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and the winner is…!

I sat with anticipation, a little nervous to click on the random number generator. Who would be the big winner? Who would collect the spoils of my very first giveaway?!?

Today's the day!

Today’s the day!


Would it be someone I know, or one of the complete strangers? (Gasp! Yes! There were actual strangers that entered! *fist pump*)
Well, it turns out it’s my coworker, Brooke! I’m thrilled for her – she has been enthusiastic about the Hot Chocolate Run since I brought it up a few weeks ago.
But just because someone else won, it does not make you a loser! You can STILL register with my promo code CURIOUSMUG for the Seattle race and be the recipient of extra fabulous Chocolate Run goodies!
So here’s a challenge for you Portland runners: let’s see how many PDXers we can bring to Seattle! Better yet, let’s show ’em that we deserve our own race in 2015! Who’s with me?!
See you at the race!
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November is Awesome!

I know, I know, it’s an unwelcome month when it comes to weather. We in the Pacific Northwest are just now receiving the gifts of our true autumn – i.e., the onset of nine months of rain. Around the world, (well, in our hemisphere anyway) we simultaneously squeal with happiness about the upcoming holidays and groan as we think of the many plights of winter.

But cheer up! There are SO many reasons to love November.

Movember – (and No Shave November) – This is one of the most unique fund raisers I’ve ever seen. Even in Portland, where ironic mustaches abound for miles, the ‘staches come out of the woodwork in support of a cure for prostate cancer. It’s a creative and hilarious way to encourage awareness and raise funds for a serious cause. There are the usual ways to participate, like donating funds and, of course, growing your own ‘stache, but there are also ways for “mo sistas” and those of “Generation Mo” who are unable to grow bewhiskered finery, such as Mo Running events, Mo Parties, and utilizing social media to get the word out. #Movember

Photo provided by us.movember.com

Photo provided by us.movember.com

Blogember – This is a great way to stretch those writing muscles, especially if you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo. You must write every day, whether it is from a list of prompts, or on topics from your very own noggin. Check out the Blogember link above to get some fantastic ideas. Happy writing!

NaNoWriMo – You know I had to give this its own section. I love love LOVE this program. Not only is it fun to write a terribly horribly mad-scramble novel in 30 days, but it is also a great platform for the fundraisers that the Office of Letters and Light put on for the writers of our future generations.

Thanksgiving! Enough said.

GO H.A.R.D. – Hug a Runner Day – (November 20) You all should know by now that I love running…and hugging…and if you didn’t know, here is a picture of my 2013 Halloween costume. Hug Therapist! That makes it official. So go on, hug your runner friends tightly on November 20th and spread the mutha-huggin love.

#HugLife

#HugLife

Speaking of running (I had to save the best for last), my last reason November is awesome is that I’m doing a REGISTRATION GIVEAWAY for the HOT CHOCOLATE RUN! That’s right! Free stuff! Wooo!

What is the Hot Chocolate Run? Well, you should have read my last blog post about it, but if you didn’t, here’s the scoop. You choose a 5k or 15k distance. You choose the city you want to run in. The beneficiary is Ronald McDonald House Charities. The race ends with CHOCOLATE. I’m talking a LOT of it. In fact, don’t take my word for it, read it straight from the website:

The chocolate really begins to flow at the Post Race Party where runners enjoy music, a family friendly kid-zone (complete with bounce houses and games) and a finisher’s mugs filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and tasty dippable treats! 

And did you see the goody bag??

SO AWESOME!!

SO AWESOME!!


But wait! There’s more. If you don’t happen to win the free registration, you can sign up using my promo code CURIOUSMUG and get even more super cool swag! Join me in Seattle in March 2014 or choose from one of 13 other cities (For my Ohio buddies, this includes Columbus – and it’s next week!).

How do you enter this fabulous giveaway? Simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you started running. Let’s see em, people. You have until November 12th to enter. That’s next Tuesday, so get cracking! I will notify the winner next week. Good luck!

Seattle Trip + BIG NEWS!

Recently I went to Seattle to meet up with my friend Mandy. She lives in Washington DC but is a jet setter around the world for her journalism career. (This girl is totally inspiring!) She happened to be teaching a conference from Wednesday–Friday, and asked me if I wanted to meet up with her for a weekend of fun. Obviously I said yes! I hopped on an Amtrak train at noon on Friday, and when I arrived at King Street Station I was swiftly carried away to my downtown hotel, transported by a cheerful cab driver, where I was soon presented with beautiful downtown Seattle.

--GORGEOUS!--

–GORGEOUS!–


It was a great time to travel, as the autumn rains hadn’t completely set in yet. In fact, it was a flawless sunny weekend, a rare treat in October for the Pacific Northwest. We took full advantage.
We checked out some local gems that first night, starting with the complementary happy hour in our hotel. Free wine every night at 5:00? Yes, please! A fabulous dinner at Ivar’s Acres of Clams and a flight of beers at Pike Brewing found us befriending a grizzled chocolatier named Vladimir (Could he be the man of my dreams? *insert fantasies of living in Willy Wonka’s world here*) who then invited us to visit him at his chocolate factory the next day.
Both being runners, we wanted to test out our legs in a new city, so we ran along the beautiful waterfront Saturday morning and up into the hills for a very challenging run. We richly rewarded ourselves later with a delicious brunch at Planet Java and, of course, a visit to Vladimir’s chocolate factory. Filled with sweet delights, Mandy and I took to the water and took a ferry to Bainbridge Island.

Planet Java's retro counter and stools

Planet Java’s retro counter and stools




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In the evening, we took a cue from our younger years and decided to hit the energetic nightlife in Capitol Hill to go dancing. Seattle, you did not disappoint. There seemed to be a huge variety of places, from your typical club scene to niche bars, to hipster joints to punk rock palaces. We stayed up way past our bedtime and had a blast doing it.
The next day, Mandy had to leave early to catch a flight, so after breakfast I was on my own to explore. I chose to visit the EMP (Experience Music Project) and Science Fiction Museum. I had heard about the excellent exhibits and was curious to check them out, especially the Nirvana exhibit. I grew up in the grunge era and have fond memories of the grunge era, Nirvana and Alice in Chains especially. I also very much enjoyed The Lure of the Horror Film. My dad, should he ever step foot in Seattle, would go completely gaga over this exhibit. He raised me with the classics, and they were all represented at the EMP. There were original costumes and props from movies, mini documentaries about the many horror sub-genres, a screaming booth, a monster timeline, and more. It was seriously cool.
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Seattle is incredible! I definitely created lots of memories to take away with me, and I can’t wait to make more. Give me more than two days and see what happens then!
After I left, all I could think was that I wanted to go back sooner than later. Well, I got my wish! I’m excited to announce that I am collaborating with RAM Racing Series as an ambassador for the Seattle Hot Chocolate 5k/15k 2014! (It’s perfect for me, don’t you think?) This is great news for me and even better news for you. I get to be a part of a fantastic event that is raising money for a worthy charity (Ronald McDonald House) and YOU can join me for a weekend of fun, running, and of course, chocolate! Even better, if you sign up with my promo code, CURIOUSMUG, you not only get the amazing goodie bag (see below for details), you also get a bonus gift because you are awesome and read my blog. This is my chance to give back to you for being such loyal readers and all-around amazing people!
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You can sign up today, OR you can wait for my next post, because guess what? I’M GIVING AWAY A FREE REGISTRATION TO ONE LUCKY READER! That’s right! Stay tuned for my registration give-away, and in the meantime, mark your calendars for March 2, 2014.