Hood to Coast Relay Recap!

I’m super excited to share my Hood to Coast race recap with you guys today! As I write this, I’m recuperating from the weekend and going back through all my pictures has almost erased the extreme soreness I’m feeling today!

First off, let me try to explain (in as few words as possible) the logistics of the race. The Hood to Coast race starts at Mt. Hood and goes 198 miles to the Oregon coast finishing at Seaside. It’s a relay race involving 1,050 teams with each team having 12 members. There are three legs of the race each consisting of 12 checkpoints. There were a total of 36 checkpoints. Each runner on the team runs one time per leg (for a total of 3 runs). Each runner was assigned a designated running position ranging from 1 to 12. Teams had two vans, van 1 had runners 1 – 6 and van 2 had runners 7 – 12. The first 6 runners would run their legs then meet up with van 2 at an exchange point to hand off the baton to the second half of runners. Then van 2 runners would each run their legs and meet up with van 1 again to start the next leg. Repeat two times.

Confusing, I know. Just think of a relay with 12 people, each person ran 3 times, there were two vans with 6 runners each and we tagged each other at each checkpoint. Simplify and go.


I know, you’re dying to know what I packed. I tried to keep it as light as possible since there were 6 other people in my van – I tried not to overpack. Two pairs of shoes, three outfits plus some backup outfits in case of emergency. Ready to go!


Our team had an 11:30am start time on Friday so van 1 drove up to Mt. Hood on Thursday night to make sure we got to the start on time. Our boss has a place on Mt. Hood that he let us crash at. It was legit – such a nice place to relax before our race the next morning!


The view off his back porch. Oregon, you are stunning.


This is the van we lived in all weekend, she was a trooper. She handled our team like a champ. However, she did NOT smell pleasant by the end of the race. Sweaty runners for two days…yuck.


On Friday morning we wanted to stop for breakfast before heading to the start line. I knew I had to run in a few hours and didn’t think an omelet or french toast would really sit well, so I opted for toast. Our #6 runner, Michael, ordered milk with his breakfast. We all thought that was a very bad choice before a run (granted, he did have about 7 hours until he was going to run…) and we made sure to give him a hard time all morning!


We got to the start of the race around 10:30am on Friday morning and had time to check-in and watch some other groups get started. Here is my van! The guy next to me, Jack, he was our driver. He was supposed to be a runner but got injured on a cruise (crazy, how does that happen?!) the week before the race and had to bow out. Luckily we found a replacement but I know he was bummed that he couldn’t run with us. The rest of us were all ready to run!

IMG_0222Beautiful views at the starting line!


Me and Curtis (he was runner #5) getting our game faces ready!




I lined up at the start at 11:30 and was ready to go!


As my van passed me on the way down the mountain they rolled the windows down and cheered me on! My first leg was 5.5 miles ALL DOWNHILL. I started at the top of the mountain at 6000 ft. and ran 5.5 miles downhill to 4000 ft. elevation. There was no flat, no uphill, straight downhill. My view though, it did not disappoint.






Selfie with a waterfall! See that little box on my shirt? It’s a clip-on bluetooth speaker! Headphones weren’t allowed on the course so I had to come up with another way to blast my tunes because I cannot run without music. This little speaker worked like a champ!


I finished in 44 minutes, 43 seconds which averaged 8:13/mile. Do not be fooled, I am in no way, shape or form that fast. That was insanely fast. Know why? Because, downhill. See that line? See how it goes down? That’s the only reason I ran that fast. I handed our baton (it was a wrist band, one of those snappy bracelet things) off to Tony, our second leg runner, and hopped back in the van!


Once I was back in the van we drove over to the second exchange point to pick up Tony…and then Michael was off. Most of the checkpoints looked like the picture above – parking lots or fields where we could pull off the road, park, get our next runner out and over to the exchange line and cheer on our runner coming in. There were always tons of other vans at the exchange points waiting for their runners so it was fun to keep up with the teams who were pacing with us! After we dropped each runner off we drove to the next checkpoint to cheer them on and send off our next runner. Friday was a record high for the Hood to Coast race – it got up to 97 degrees. Luckily for me I started early in the day so I ran in about 72 degrees which was still warm but not terrible. Our leg 3, 4, 5, and 6 runners were running on the road (think, black asphalt, traffic passing by) in the blazing sun, no shade, in 97 degrees. We pulled off the road at various points of their run and would offer them water and gatorade so no one got dehydrated. It definitely made for an extremely challenging run but my team handled it like champions.

At exchange 7 we picked up our last runner and tagged the runners of van 2 off! Then all 6 of us got in our van and headed to Michael’s house which was by the start of exchange 13 where we would tag off with van 2 and start our second leg of the race.


The race ran all through the night which meant some legs were going to be run at night. We were scheduled to start our second leg around 10pm and run all night into early Saturday morning. The rules of the relay were from 6pm – 6am, any runners who were running during those times had to wear a reflective vest, a headlamp, and two flashers (one on the front and one on the back of the vest) so that they could be visible. Most of the race was run on the road so it was important for cars to see us. During the time that van 2 runners were running their legs we went to Michael’s house to shower, change, eat, and attempt to take a nap. We had about 5 hours before we were up again, but no one really got any sleep. We got to his house around 6pm and had to leave again around 9:30pm, so no sleep was had.


I had all my reflective gear on and we headed to downtown Portland to the 13th exchange. I got to the exchange line and waited for runner 12 to tag me in, and then I was off!


I started my run on the Hawthorne Bridge. I am terrified of bridges and I had no idea that part of my run involved running on one. I guess that’s a good thing because I had no choice but to face my fear! I tried to get a picture of the Portland skyline from the bridge, but taking a night time picture while running proved, well, not so great.


I ran through downtown and into some pretty industrial areas of Portland and finished my 4.2 mile leg in about 39 minutes. At the exchange point I tagged in Tony and off he went!


This leg wasn’t downhill, and the elevation picture is a little deceiving. It was a pretty flat route so it was definitely slower than my downhill leg!

Our #6 runner finished his leg around 3am Saturday morning. At the exchange point he finished at there was a high school doing a fundraiser for the Hood to Coast teams – $2 for showers and $2 for a place to sleep. We were all about it. We showered and got to sleep on a gym floor on wrestling mats. We slept from about 4am until 7am. Then we packed up our van and headed to exchange point 25 to meet up with van 2.


I started my final leg after getting tagged in by runner 12 around 8:40am and this run was through the country! I saw horses and donkeys, farms, and chickens!


PHEW!! I was done!! The weather was so much cooler for this leg, only 63 degrees!


Another exchange point, this was our runner 3 (Michael) handing off to runner 4 (Dinisa) – the countryside was so pretty and the weather continued to improve. Running in cooler temps > running in 97 degrees.


Funny side story: the team made a Costco run on Thursday and packed our vans full of snacks. One snack being beef jerky. The first time someone decided to open it in the van for a snack we all immediately deemed it an outside the van food. It smelled AWFUL. In such a small space, combined with the sweaty runner smell, it was a terrible combination. This is Tony snacking on the beef jerky OUTSIDE the van where we pulled off on Curtis’ leg to cheer him on as he passed us. It was a pretty funny joke we made the whole weekend!


We picked up our last runner and tagged van 2 in and headed to Seaside because we were DONE with all of our legs! The drive to Seaside was about 30 minutes from where the last exchange was so we all took a nap.


At the beach…it was COLD! But it was refreshing. The beach was in full party mode, tons of tents with food, beer, recovery massages and first aid. We had a special VIP section because we were a fundraising team. We got two beers and a full meal. The food was delicious because we were all starving! No one ate a whole lot during the race because no one wanted any unexpected stomach issues. So the first meal we had after finishing was inhaled pretty fast!


Once our last runner from van 2 crossed the finish line, we celebrated! We just finished 198 miles as a team and everyone did amazing! We got our medals and took a team picture together. Completing the race was an amazing example of how much could be accomplished as a team – something that would have been impossible to do alone could be done with the help and support of others. What a great event, I’m so grateful I got to be a part of this team!


Our final results! Out of 226 teams in our category we got 130th, and out of all 1,050 teams that competed we got 503rd place. Not a bad stat for a team full of Hood to Coast newbies! Our finish time was 31 hours and 37 seconds – that’s A LOT of running! I’m so so happy that I decided to join the team and run this race. It was definitely an experience I will never forget!

Now, I’m going to get back to foam rolling. My legs are definitely screaming at me today! Totally worth it though…


Surprise after Surprise – All Our Alaska Trip Pictures!

Well y’all, it’s been QUITE the two weeks over here. I knew that August and September were going to be busy travel months for us…but man was I in for a surprise!

First, let’s start with surprise #1. IMG_0201

Showed up in ATL last Friday for my little blonde friend’s birthday! She had no idea we were coming, and it was epic.


Her boss is a hunter. He gave her this bobcat to keep in her cubicle and I just love him. So naturally, I had to get a selfie.


Then, we were off! We hit up Cinco for lunch first. Still my #1 fave Mexican restaurant. It never disappoints.


Then we headed to one of our favorite neighbor date stops, Stout Brothers.


So many choices!! We used to go to Stout Brothers on the regular – there is always something new on tap to try.


Then we surprised the rest of our #fam at Ali’s birthday dinner at Tin Lizzy’s! It was so amazing to have the whole group back together. How I miss these people!


We finished the night at Taco Mac. I miss this place, and I’ve missed this face!!


Mimosas we a must on Saturday morning at Chicken and the Egg. They just keep them coming! And I got my fill of chicken biscuits and hashbrown casserole. The boys played golf on Saturday morning while were were indulging.


Everyone was pretty wiped out so we all took naps before heading over to Matt & Rachel’s for our #fam garage party.


Just another day in the life of the eight best friends you could ever imagine! As you can see, I’m overly happy to be hanging out with these people…


Before heading home on Sunday I went attempted to go for a run. Y’all…the humidity there is no joke. And I don’t think I realized how real it was until I moved away and then came back in the summer. My normal route around my old neighborhood up to the farm to see the donkeys got cut wayyyyyyy short. I ran by our old house which was bittersweet. The new owners haven’t changed it (on the outside…I contemplated knocking on the door and asking to walk around but I thought that’d be creepy) and it was just fun to think about the memories we made in the short time we lived there.


And then made it back around the circle to my favorite little farm. It was a hot and humid run but it was fun to get back on my old route! It was such a great weekend and I loved surprising Ali for her birthday. That’ll definitely be one of my favorite surprises and it was so much fun to see all my favorite people!

Life got back to normal after we got back from Atlanta, although we were all pretty sleepy.


I was expecting to be home for the next weekend before my Hood to Coast race at the end of August, but some sneaky husband of mine had other plans in mind! Steven had made me plan out what we were going to do last weekend. I had decided I wanted to go on a hike on a really pretty trail that a co-worker had done recently and then go to dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown. I thought I had our weekend all planned out. But on Thursday when he picked me up from work – we jumped on the highway instead of heading home.

I was very confused, but quickly started putting some things together. When I picked Mila and Wilson up from boarding after coming home from Atlanta they wanted to verify that the dogs would be back August 18-21st. I was a little confused, but I assumed that I had made that reservation early in the summer back when we were planning on going to San Francisco or before we made definitely plans to go to Atlanta to surprise Ali. I told the lady that no, we didn’t need that reservation so they could cancel it and didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t even bring it up to Steven because I really thought it was an oversight on my part.

When we started driving toward Portland on Thursday, I started asking questions. “Where are we going?” “Where are the dogs?” “WHAT ARE WE DOING???” Eventually, I got it out of him that we were going on a trip somewhere. And we were flying. But he wasn’t telling me where. It could have been anywhere, I really had no guesses. I thought maybe Cali, Hawaii, Canada, all places we had talked about going because we’re so close, but I didn’t have a hint as to what it might be. Then – I said, “Oh wait, I’m supposed to go to work tomorrow!” To which he replied, “No you’re not, I talked to Lindsey. You’re good!” Steven had even talked to my manager at work and made sure it was okay for me to take Friday off – he really didn’t overlook any details! He changed all my Delta login information so that I wouldn’t get any email or app notifications that I was going on a trip. He had this surprise completely under wraps for a month! When he went to drop the dogs off at boarding on Thursday morning they told him that I tried to cancel the reservation but they had made a note that this was a surprise so they didn’t actually cancel it (he was, admittedly, a little mad that they even mentioned the reservation in the first place after he had told them not to, but it still worked out).

So, we were on our way to the airport bound for…I had no idea! We got to the checkin and he made me stand way off to the side while he checked us in and got our boarding passes. He told the TSA agent at the security checkpoint not to show me my boarding pass as we went through security. The agent giggled and played along. So I got all the way through security still having no idea where we were going. Then…he told me.


ALASKA!! What?! PS this picture is a screen shot of the video Steven took of me when he handed my my boarding pass. I couldn’t get the actual video to upload which is a bummer, but as you can tell I was pretty surprised! We have talked about going since we live so close, but it never crossed my mind that that’s where we were heading! I was so excited and so so impressed at how much thought and effort Steven put in to this surprise. He couldn’t wait to tell me and see my reaction and I just felt so lucky that he planned this whole trip for us. He really is the best.


We headed out of Portland around 8:00pm…


And landed in Anchorage at 11:04pm! And look, there was still some light! Their days are SO long, the sun stays up until about 10pm and sets slowly so it stays light out really late into the night! PS – Alaska is one hour behind Portland time…who knew?


I knew when this guy greeted us at the airport that we were in for an exciting trip! We headed to our hotel right from the airport and went straight to bed!


The next day Steven planned a glacier cruise for us! We had to drive about an hour and a half north of Anchorage to get to the glacier. The drive up there was amazing. It felt like there was a more beautiful view around every turn!


We toured the little visitor center at the park where our glacier cruise was and Steven made a friend.


Then we hopped on our boat and headed out for the glacier!



The boat took us on about a 15 minute ride up to the glacier. Some fun facts we learned: the water is about 32 degrees. In the winter it freezes about 3 feet deep, then gets packed with about 8 ft of snow on top of the ice. BURRRRRRR!


There were tons of little baby waterfalls coming off of all the mountains on either side of the boat that were really cool!


There were also a couple icebergs floating in the water too – only 10% of the actual iceberg is visible above the surface. The rest of the iceberg is underwater!


Then…we turned a corner and came up to Portage Glacier!







It was AMAZING! It was really blue and just massive. It was incredible to be close to something that big, you really felt like a tiny little any next to it. Everyone on the boat enjoyed taking pictures and learning about the glacier. The captain and cruise leader were very informative and made it a really fun experience for everyone.


On our way out of the park where our glacier cruise was we pulled off the road to go see this beautiful lake that caught our eye while we were driving.


The color of the water was incredible, we just had to stop!


We also made a pit stop at Beluga Point. We saw a sign for it while we were driving to our glacier cruise and I told Steven we HAD to stop on our way home.



And we must have stopped at just the right time because we got to see a Beluga whale!!



I have a slight obsession with whales so it was like Christmas day for me! We stayed and watched him swim away – what a cool experience!


We headed back to downtown Anchorage that night for some shopping and dinner!


I found a baby otter!


He channeled his inner Leonardo DiCaprio to fight off the bear.


A quick pic with Balto!


And this colorful friend! All the shopping got us hungry so we headed to a restaurant recommended by the girl at the rental car company – Humpy’s!


We started with some smoked salmon spread and calamari. When in Alaska, you must try all the seafood, right?!



Y’all, when I tell you this was the BEST calamari we have EVER had, I am not exaggerating. At all. The pieces were so thick, it was like calamari fries! And there was actually more calamari than there was breading so it actually tasted like fish instead of fried batter – holy crap. Like, I can’t even with this. It was hands down the best thing we ate the entire trip.


After Humpy’s we headed down the road to Tequila 61. This flower outside the restaurant was huge, I had to get a picture. It doesn’t really show the size, but it was almost as big as my head!


I ventured out of my margarita comfort zone and went for this beauty, the Zazu. It was as delicious as it looks.


Then I asked the bartender for a dealer’s choice drink. I told him what I liked and he put this one together for me. It has orange juice, vodka, pomegranate liquor, champagne, and sprite. It wasn’t overly sweet like I was expecting, just amazingly delicious. This place was a lot of fun, the bartenders and servers who stopped by the bar were a lot of fun to hang out with!


Then we headed to our 9pm dinner reservation at the Glacier Brewhouse (recommended by our waitress at Humpy’s) and had crab legs and seafood linguine. I’m running out of delicious/yummy/amazing adjectives to describe our food but this dinner was out of this world. The seafood was so fresh, and Steven was happy he got his crab legs!


Saturday we slept in and had breakfast at our hotel. We decided to head south of Anchorage to go check out Eklutna Lake. We heard it had beautiful green/blue water and that you could rent a kayak! We drove about an hour south and were not disappointed!








We decided not to kayak but we found a nice little spot on the edge of the lake and sat together and talked and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery. Steven skipped rocks 🙂





Staring at the lake and just thinking about how massive it was really made you feel so small. I feel like that’s something I took away from Alaska. The mountains, the lakes, the glaciers, everything there is so massive – I really am just one small little grain of sand! It was breathtaking. Everywhere we turned we would just look at each other and say, “Woah! Look at that!”


We headed back to downtown Anchorage and decided to eat our way through the city…again. There are a ton of restaurants that you could probably spend a whole week there and never eat at the same place twice! We started at 49th State Brewing Company which is a newer restaurant. We split a wedge salad and the seafood chowder. The seafood chowder was mind-blowingly good.


Then we hit a street food vendor selling reindeer sausage. Naturally, Steven was intrigued.


He devoured it, and then talked the rest of the night about how he couldn’t get over how good it was. Needless to say it was a hit!


We drove over to a spot nearby where they said you can see salmon swimming upstream – but I don’t think it was the right season for it. We stood on the bridge for a few minutes looking for them but didn’t see anything. But, we tried!


It wouldn’t be a Swider vacation if we didn’t find a sushi restaurant! We got a California roll and Steven got two Kani rolls which is just giant pieces of crab on top of rice.


And then he went back for reindeer sausage number two. Did I mention it was a hit? I think this was his favorite thing he ate on the trip.


And I ended the night with a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Typical. We headed to the airport and spent several hours there waiting for our flight.


The Anchorage airport has a lounge with comfy chairs and a giant projector TV where they were playing replays of all the football games so I was in heaven.


The Northern Lights on the ceiling guided us to our gate.


In a world full of divorce and where it seems like marriages are doomed, that love never lasts, and that relationships are just full of mediocrity, I feel so grateful to have a husband who makes it a point to make me feel loved and cherished and like I deserve the world. Seeing how happy he was that he pulled off this surprise trip makes me realize how lucky I am to be married to someone who finds such joy in making me happy. I hope we continue to wake up every day choosing to love each other, and trying to out-love each other. My heart is so full – what an amazing feeling to know and see and feel how much you are truly adored. I promise to keep working every day to show you that I love you, more. Thank you, Steven, for the most amazing weekend.

Life, Eats, Michigan, Olympics…oh my!


Howdy! Nothing but smiles over here lately! This is me with some of my team…they’re pretty spectacular people. The “Unlimited” campaign is Nike’s Olympic theme this year. Right before the olympics started they had a photo booth and everyone was invited to get together with their Unlimited Squad and take pictures together. We’re a pretty fun bunch if you can’t tell!


Speaking of the Olympics, I was basically glued to the TV all weekend. I don’t think I missed one minute of Olympic coverage. This week it’s been nice to catch the prime time coverage at night, but man am I tired! I’ve stayed up past 10pm every night to watch all the swimming and gymnastics. Priorities people…Phelps > Sleep.


Now that the Olympics have started I can share this cool fashion show I got to do at work. They had a bunch of us from the legal team model all of the outfits the athletes were going to wear in Rio – but we had to keep it tight until after the games started…top secret, ya know?! I wore the Brazil kit, I think it’s an outfit they’d wear after they competed and were going around doing interviews. The pants were crazy comfy!


Still working on our golf game! Since golf is back in the Olympics, Steven is big into getting ready for the 2020 games…maybe he’s got a shot!


We’ve been enjoying the summer weather here lately. I’m taking advantage and working outside whenever I can. It’s nice to have a mobile office.


I cut cereal out of my diet a little while back, but I had a pretty big craving for some Raisin Bran one Sunday on my weekly grocery store trip. I decided to give in and boy was it amazing. It will definitely be making it’s way back into my diet.


If you haven’t tried vanilla almond butter, you haven’t lived. A giant piece of bread, vanilla almond butter and sliced banana on top = life. Current favorite snack.


And, because I know you’re super interested in all of my food choices lately, this is my life. Steven wants Chinese food, I want a sandwich. Luckily the Subway and Panda Express are right across the street from each other, less than a mile from us. We are frequent visitors.


Alright, recap of our trip to Michigan. The weather held up and we got to go to a Tigers game!


We had great seats! It was fun to watch a couple former Braves players who are now with the Tigers. Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin both had amazing games for Detroit. Evan Gattis was on the other team, the Astros. He was a beloved Braves player and was traded a few years back. He struck out twice…so it was a rough night for him.


Bonus: Tigers won! Then we went back to Motor City Casino and the boys played poker. I sat at the slots and just had a grand ‘ol time!


Steven met up with some friends from high school at the Imlay City Beer Tent. No joke, it’s a giant tent with kegs of beer at the fair. It was quite an experience for me. It was great to see Steven catching up with old friends and hearing stories about high school.


We drove by Steven’s old elementary school one day on our trip to find…it’s for sale. A school? For sale? I guess that’s what happens when it’s such a small town and everyone grows up and moves away – no new kiddos to move in! We had such a great trip. I got to visit my grandparents, we saw all of Steven’s family too. It was exhausting but always nice to go back home for a bit!


The BFF has got a birthday this weekend! I’m sad I can’t be there to celebrate with her or make her a special dessert (she requests something different every year, and I’m always happy to bake it). But I know she will have a fun weekend with friends and family.


Back when we were #neighbors, anytime she would come over early in the morning – either for a shopping date, yard sale, or morning run – if I had coffee made she’d always be willing to drink some. That was one of my favorite things…it’s those little things in a friendship that make it so sweet!


Sorry if you’re tired of me obsessing over the Olympics. But I’m just so inspired by everything these athletes do, how hard they work, and how much dedication and passion they have for their sport. Getting to watch Michael Phelps swim in this historic 5th Olympics is beyond incredible. We’re watching history people – we’re living it with him! It’s got me feeling all kinds of athlete feels, and I’m soaking up every minute!