Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon Race Weekend

Last month I ran the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon and although it was one of my slowest half marathons to date, our weekend in wine country was amazingly fun and a much needed summer getaway! This post is much more about the weekend than the race itself! OOPSY!

We have some really good friends who flew out with us to show their support of my running and cheer me on during the race! HAHAH Who am I kidding, they came along for the wine tasting!! Either way, it was so much fun having another couple to enjoy the weekend with.  We arrived to San Francisco Friday just in time for lunch! We picked up the rental car and made our way to Francis Coppola's  Cafe Zoetrope  for lunch. Such a nice treat! Afterwards we walked around Chinatown and couldn't resist picking up some steamed dumplings and sticky buns at our friend's favorite spot! We took the food to go and seriously enjoyed them during our long drive in traffic up to Napa.  

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Saturday morning we went straight to packet pickup right when it opened at 10am.  The location was so pretty and it was a nice expo with some good vendors who handed out some nice samples ;) That's always a plus! Once I had my bib + shirt and my fair share of samples, we were off to do some wine tasting! 

Our first stop was our favorite winery, which we are also wine club members, Benzinger Winery. They use bio dynamic and organic farming, which is such an interesting process and we learned so much more about their history and sustainable farming practices during the tour.  Afterwards we enjoyed wine tasting in their private members only tasting room.  We lost track of time chatting and tasting, but our tummies soon let us know it was time to eat, so we bought a bottle of wine and found a nice picnic table with some shade to enjoy the snacks we had purchased earlier.  Had the weather been just about 10 degrees cooler, it would have been perfection!

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Our next stop was their sister winery, Imagery Estate Winery, which was such a cool artsy place and the grounds are beautiful!  It was packed inside because it was just way too hot to be sitting outside by then, but we found a nice spot in the members only area and enjoyed a bit more wine tasting and fun conversation.  

The last stop before dinner was Domaine Carneros! I absolutely love bubbly wines and pinot noir so I'd been looking forward to this visit for a while. Plus, the grounds were so pretty! We ended up sitting outside and again if only it had been 10 degrees cooler, it would have been so dreamy! The view of the vineyards from the terrace were beautiful and the flights of champagne were super yummy! By this point in the day, we were really getting hungry so we ordered a small charcuterie plate to enjoy while we finished our flights.  Thank you so our server who recommended the best place for us to grab a casual, yet delicious dinner, which of course included lots of water and my go-to pre-race meal of...PIZZA!!

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Unfortunately, for as much as I tried to stay hydrated during wine tasting on Saturday, it was still not enough! I started off ok.  I wasn't going for any PR or anything, but I was hoping the idea of another fun-filled wine tasting day would be enough to make my legs go fast! The race course was beautiful and running alongside rows and rows of vineyards was amazing.  The weather was unseasonably warm and I soon started struggling with the heat and the sun beating down on me.  After I saw the hubs and friends at mile 7ish I got some renewed energy and I was doing good and keeping a nice pace till about mile 9 or so.  At that point my calves started to feel super tight and by mile 10 they were cramping terrible.  I was dehydrated and in pain! I managed to pull through, but I had to slow down and even walk those last 3 miles.  I felt bad and was so disappointed in myself.  After I limped my way across the finish line, I chugged some coconut water and stretched my legs as best I could.  I met up with the hubs and our friends, plus some running friends from Vegas who ran the race too and together we grabbed our wine glasses for post-race wine tasting festival! Soon enough, my pain was gone and I was back to feeling great! lol 

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After the race, it was back to the room to shower and get ready for round 2! We visited my hubby's favorite winery, Sequoia Grove.  Talk about another good time tasting, laughing, and making new friends! Afterwards we had some time to kill before our dinner reservations at Ad Hoc, so what else is someone to do while in Napa waiting? We found a wine bar, enjoyed another charcuterie platter and waited patiently ;) Dinner at Ad Hoc was amazing! Thomas Keller's take on family style casual dinning was spot on. We just wish we would have had more room to fit more food in our bellies!! 

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The next day we started our trip back to San Francisco! We spent some time walking around Fisherman's Wharf and enjoyed some clam chowder and some delicious Irish coffee from the iconic Buena Vista.  Then, as all good things, our trip came to an end and it was time to catch our flight back home to our little ones!  

I learned a valuable lesson on this trip: Although I love running and I love wine tasting, the two shouldn't really be paired up! At least not for me!!! The next time I go to Napa, it will only be for wine tasting.  And the only drinking I'll do on race weekend, will be my post-race celebratory beer! Live and learn, right? 

Summer Family Vacation Part II: Portland, Oregon

Here's Part II of our Pacific Northwest family summer vacation.  We left Seattle in the early afternoon and headed to Portland.  As soon as we were out of the city, the weather started to clear up and we were happy to see blue skies and sunshine! 

We arrived at our rented apartment from AirBnB, unloaded our suitcases from the car and freshened up for dinner.  Our AirBnB was in a great location close to so many of the best food spots in town!  We met up for dinner at the Country Cat with some good friends who'd moved to Portland a couple of years ago from Las Vegas. The restaurant was small and cozy and we had a great table right up against the window and not in the middle of the restaurant.  That was great for us with the kiddos! Afterwards we made our way to Salt & Straw on SE Division St. for ice cream.  The ice cream shop had a long line and we probably waited a good 30 minutes before we had our ice cream, but it was worth it! Plus, time went by fast since we were chatting and catching up! Thank goodness our apartment was just around the corner, because we were stuffed and ready for bed. 

 Before heading out  to explore on Monday, we grabbed breakfast at one of the awesome food truck pods that are all over the city.  We chose Fried Egg I'm in Love because they had great reviews on Yelp and with breakfast sandwich names like  Smells Like Protein Spirit and Free-Range Against the Machine, we knew they'd be good! They did not disappoint. Bellies full we took off on our day trip to the Colombia River Gorge area and got to see the famous Multmonah Falls and drive along the river and visit the countryside. We were a little early in the season for berry or cherry picking but we got to feed and pet some alpacas so that totally made up for it! Plus, the craft beers and gourmet food truck at the Gorge White House really hit the spot after our long day.  Once we were back in Portland we picked up some groceries at New Seasons Market. It's a local(ish)grocery store chain in Portland/Vancouver areas that is similar to Whole Foods.  We were beat after our long day but so happy we got to spend some time in nature and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We planned to stay in Portland on Tuesday.  We started our day with a cool make-your-own-pancakes place called Slappy Cakes.  The food was ok and the pancakes weren't amazing, but the kids really enjoyed making their pancakes into different shapes! It's a nice place for kids, but don't expect an amazing meal.  We did lots of walking and sightseeing in Portland and visiting a lot of the major attractions, such as the Japanese Garden, the International Rose Testing Garden, Voodoo Donuts, Powell's Bookstore, and eating from yet more food trucks.   We met up for dinner with our friends again at Deschutes Brewery and Public House, which was another not-so-great place.  The wait was long, the food was mediocre, and the service was poor. We were disappointed, especially since there are so many other good places to to eat at in Portland. I don't recommend it. 

We took another road trip on our 3rd day to visit the Oregon Coast.  Seriously would love to spend a full weekend out there!  The coast is so beautiful and we really enjoyed Cannon Beach and Astoria! We got back to Portland just in time for dinner and we chose to visit another food cart pod, this one was on SE 28th Pl and Division. We were totally diggin' the vibe there and we all ended up picking up our meals from different carts! Diego had pizza, they actually had a brick oven! Elysse chose mini corn dogs (not so adventurous this day) Jason had sushi, and I chose Indian.  We were pretty tired from our trip, so rather than eat it there, we took it with us and enjoyed a nice quite evening at the apartment. I also took advantage of the washer and dryer and ran a load of laundry.  Not exactly what you want to be doing on vacation, but it was just 1 load and it made packing easier. Plus, it was one less thing to do when I got back home!  

 Our last day started off with a quick breakfast in the apartment while we, and by we, I mean mostly I, packed everything up to check out.  We then met up with our friends for lunch at Lardo.  Do yourself a favor and go there for lunch next time you're in Portland.  I crave their Korean Pork Shoulder sandwich and the Pork Meatball Banh Mi! So so good!! The rest of our day was spent at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry! I didn't think we would spend the entire day there, but there was so much to see and do that it really did fill up our whole day. Then it was off to PDX to head back home to Las Vegas! One worse thing about the flights back home to Vegas is that they're usually filled with folks ready to party, while we're always tired and grumpy our vacation is ending and theirs is just starting! LOL 

Seriously though, it's hard when vacations end but I'm always so grateful we got to go! We visited some amazing places, enjoyed cool weather, ate some delicious food, and made lifelong memories together.  What more could we ask for?!? What are some fun places you've visited this summer? I'd love to hear some of your favorite vacation spots ever too! 

Summer Family Vacation Part I: Seattle, WA

As I mentioned in my last post, I got to run the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon last month. And, having never been to the Pacific Northwest, we decided to make it a family vacation, adding Portland and the Oregon coast to our trip.  Today, I'll be sharing all about our weekend in Seattle first and Part II will go into our 4 days Oregon.

Since our trip ended in Portland, that's where we flew into.  Whenever we have trips where we are visiting a few cities or doing a road trip once we land, I prefer to fly into the city we'll be visiting last.  The main reasons I prefer to do this are 1: Renting a car one-way is a lot more expensive than returning it at the same airport.  2: It's less stressful to be near your airport at departure than having to calculate for a few hours drive.  I'd hate to miss our flight due to unforeseen traffic or getting lost. 

The drive to Seattle from Portland took longer than anticipated due to traffic, but we had plenty of time to pick up my race packet at the expo and then make our way to Pioneer Square for our walking tour by Beneath the Streets.  We'd heard about these tours from some friends and when I saw they were giving 1 complimentary tour to Rock N Roll runners, I figured we'd give it a try.  We don't normally do group tours on vacation because I prefer a more authentic vibe, plus with little ones, you just never know if they'll find them interesting.  Well, to my surprise the kids, who aren't so little anymore, did enjoy the tour.  They found it interesting and even asked some really good questions to our tour guide.  Afterwards, we stayed in the area and enjoyed some of the fun games they had in the square.  

Our next stop was Pike Place Market.  The market was closing when we arrived but it was still super crowded.  I know this is an icon Seattle tourist spot, but I wasn't really impressed.  I think there were just way too many people walking around aimlessly and being, well, tourists.  We originally planned to walk around the market, watch the famous fish throwing, and eat from a few of the popular food places.  With the market closing, we didn't get to see much and we only made it to one place Beecher's Handmade Cheese for some mac n cheese.  It was cool to see the cheese making process through the window, but it wasn't really amazing mac n cheese.  The best part was seeing all the beautiful flower stands.

Afterwards, we checked into our hotel room for the night and we were all so tired & a bit cranky from waking up early for our flight and walking around all day, that we just ordered a pizza and salad and had it in our room.  

It was another early morning for me on Sunday to get up and run the half marathon.  It was a great course and I really enjoyed it and the VIP lounge area.  You can read the race recap on my previous post HERE.  After the race, we made our way to Seattle Center for a closer look at the Space Needle and to grab some lunch before making our way to Portland! I wish we would/could have spent more time in this area.  I would like to go back and check out some of the museums, but we still enjoyed our time walking around the pretty gardens and the kids had a blast at the playground there.  Our last stop was to go see the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge.  Such a quirky spot and I'm so glad we got to see it! 

Although it was a bit of a whirlwind, our weekend in Seattle was a ton of fun.  Coming from Vegas, we welcomed the gloomy and rainy weather.  It never really rained but we did have a few drizzles.  Ideally, I think 3 days in Seattle would have been perfect and would have allowed us to visit a museum or two and not crammed so much into 2 days.  

Have you been to Seattle? Besides the museums, what else would you recommend we do or see on our next trip to Seattle? What side trips would be worth a visit from Seattle? Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come back for the rest of our PNW trip!