Cycling McKenzie Pass, Oregon

McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Greetings!  Last weekend I took a glorious break from the never-ending Portland house hunt and headed out to Sisters, Oregon with a friend.  We went to ride our bikes over McKenzie Pass, which is a scenic bikeway in Central Oregon.  The road is closed during the winter and in spring it first opens just to cyclists, providing a car-free exploration of this beautiful region.  The forest varies from one side of the pass to the other, from high desert ponderosa pines through 2,000 year old lava fields and a finale through lush green forests with waterfalls.  Here’s a promotional video about the bikeway from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department 🙂

We left Portland Friday afternoon after work and camped at the Olallie at McKenzie Bridge campground, which is located off McKenzie Highway 126.  The campground was really nice and the site we stayed in with some friends is located right next to where the Olallie Creek meets the McKenzie River.  There are few things better than sleeping in a tent next to a rushing river!  ❤

Olallie Campground at McKenzie Bridge, OR - scottileona.com

We started the ride around 12pm from Eurosports bike shop in Sisters – I had some brake issues that needed to be addressed before hitting the 4,000 foot descent.  Note to self: don’t rush out of town for a long ride without checking over my bike for needed repairs!  Despite my last minute repair needs, the guys at Eurosports were super helpful and replaced my back brakes, fixed my front ones, and cleaned out the gunk that had built up from rainy rides to work for a very reasonable price.  🙂

The initial ride up to the Dee Wright Observatory gives you a 2,000 foot gain in elevation, but provides epic views of the surrounding mountains.  We made a pit stop at Windy Point to check out Mt Washington and lava flow that leaves you feeling like you are standing on another planet.  Dee Wright Observatory is a castle-like structure that sits at the summit of McKenzie Pass and is made of lava rock.  From the top, you can see Mount Jefferson, Cache Mountain, Dugout Butte, Black Butte, Bluegrass Butte, Black Crater, North Sister, Middle Sister, Little Brother, Condon Butte, Scott Mountain, Belknap Crater, and Mount Washington.  In clear weather, you can also see Mount Hood and a few other peaks, however it wasn’t quite clear enough for us to clearly make out Hood.  Still, that is quite an impressive list of mountains!

Windy Point, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Dee Wright Observatory, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Dee Wright Observatory, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

After taking in the views and munching on a snack at Dee Wright, we began the trip down the pass.  We passed more lava fields before hitting the really exhilarating part of the ride – steep declines and switchback turns!  We barreled down the mountain on a road flanked by dense trees and the shade was a relief from the sun exposure we had on our way up.  We made a pit stop at Proxy Falls.  Proxy Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is 226 feet tall and doesn’t feed into a stream.  The water from the falls pools at the bottom and sinks through porous lava at the foot of the pool – pretty neat!

Proxy Falls, OR - scottileona.com

Proxy Falls, OR  - scottileona.com

According to MapMyRun, we rode a little over 41 miles and the falls added about 1.5 miles of hiking.  Not too shabby 🙂  I am stoked I checked out that part of this part of Central Oregon and was left with an even longer list of places I’d like to return to!

XoXo,

Scotti Leona ❤

Traveling Healthy

IMG_0129

Traveling is one of my favorite activities.  I love exploring new places or revisiting places I have loved in the past.  I love being surrounded by unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.  I also love trying new food and taking a peek into the daily lives of other people experiencing a different culture, locale, environment than the one I currently inhabit.  However, there is a part of the healthy, fit-minded me that feels slightly uncomfortable with the thought of leaving my routine of knowing exactly what, how much, and when I am eating and when I will squeeze in my workout.  This feeling stems from the fact that I have spent so much time and energy focused on getting in to the best shape of my life and there is a small fear that all of that hard work could disappear over the course of my vacation.

First, I want to clarify that I believe we should let go of rigid thinking while traveling (and in life in general, but that’s another post! 🙂 ).  It’s ok to taste and try everything or have days of complete rest where you don’t leave your beach side hammock (the dream, right?).  It’s also ok to completely forget about your fitness goals while on vacation.  The definition of vacation is a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday, which definitely includes turning off that 5am alarm clock that wakes you for your daily workout.  Where vacation mode becomes a concern for me is when I return home.  If I have completely gone buck wild on a trip, I find it a little difficult to get my mind back in the game when I get home.  It’s so easy to continue vacation mode – eating out often, sleeping in instead of working out – if I haven’t kept my goals in mind while I was away.  Your health and fitness shouldn’t consume you or your ability to explore the world, but here are 5 simple tips to help you stay on track while you are away from home.

Tips for healthy traveling:

1. Pack food for the road

The transportation to your destination is one of the best ways to start a trip off right.  If you are on a road trip, pack as many healthy snacks and meals as possible.  Nuts, homemade granola bars or bites, and fruit (dried and fresh) make excellent munchies for the road.  You also have the option of packing salads or sandwiches for meals along the way.  This not only saves on calories, but you will save major cash if you aren’t eating fast food or snacking at gas stations.  I’d rather use that money for a couple of better dining experiences, admission to a national or state park, or some other adventure I come across 🙂

The same applies for flying, but you may be limited in baggage space.  Still, make some room for a few snacks for the flight.  The snacks available on planes are often full of sodium, artificial flavorings, and other nasty chemicals and they aren’t even filling.  You can also pack a whole meal if you want.  There aren’t security restrictions on the food you bring, it just cannot be over the limit for liquids (so no water, juice, etc).  Last week, I took a short flight to Santa Barbara and packed an apple with cashew butter and Shakeology.  To get through security, I put the Shakeology powder in a shaker cup and filled the cup with water once I got to the terminal.  Easy peasy!

Snacks and book - perfect carry on items.

Snacks and a book – perfect carry on items.

2.  Adapt your accommodations to your routine

Once you arrive at your destination, seek out ways to adapt your accommodations to your routine.  If you are staying in an Airbnb, hotel, hostel, or family home that has space in the fridge to store food, go grocery shopping for snacks and meal items.  This is also another money saver.  When Nick and I traveled to Japan in 2013, we moved around to many hostels and didn’t really have access to a kitchen most of the time.  However, on the nights that we did we purchased breakfast items and made food before heading out for the day.  You can also do this for lunch and pack a meal for when you are on the go.

IMG_0169

To get your sweat on, you can pack work out DVDs that don’t require equipment.  DVDs take up very little room in your bag and you can pop them in to your laptop or a nearby TV to get your workout in.  I love to pack PiYo on trips because it is low impact so I don’t have to worry about jumping on unfamiliar floors (oh hello, neighbors!) and it doesn’t require much space.  Last week, I did PiYo on my grandmother’s porch.  Running is also an exercise that doesn’t require much equipment aside from your clothing and you get the extra sight seeing in too!

3. Choose according to your goals at restaurants

Grabbed Backyard Bowls for lunch with my cousin last week!

Grabbed Backyard Bowls for lunch with my cousin last week!

When eating out, be conscious of what you are ordering.  Like I said before, you don’t have to continuously be thinking about how each meal will affect your muscle definition.  On the other hand, it is totally possible to eat healthy at restaurants.  It is up to you and your goals for your fitness/health and your vacation.

4. Skip the rental car and get active

Skip the rental car and walk as much as possible.  I love walking and taking public transportation everywhere when traveling because it is an awesome way to take in the sights and live like a local.  The added bonus is the extra exercise you get!  You can end up walking several miles each day while taking in the sights of your destination.  You can also seek out adventurous ways to explore the area: If you are somewhere tropical rent a kayak or stand up paddle board.  If you are near mountains go hiking or rent snow sport gear.  You get the idea – just get out there and be active and you won’t need to worry one bit about your missed work outs!

IMG_0164

5. Relax and enjoy yourself!

This is the most important step.  You spend the majority of your time on the grind: working out, eating clean, working and paying bills, taking care of family, maintaining your home….the list goes on and on.  You are now on vacation!  I think the mental health benefits of taking time to actually relax outweigh the benefits of you continuing an intense exercise regimen.  Unless you are in the middle of training for a race, you should be able to skip a day or two…or seven…and it won’t be the end of the world.  Stick to your goals the best you can and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to hop back on that horse when you get home.  🙂

Happy travels!

Scotti Leona

Hood to Coast 2014!

course-map

Every year since 1982, runners have been piling into vans and taking turns running 197 miles from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon.  The relay race involves staying up all night, taking brief naps (if you get any sleep at all!) on the ground or in a van, and being crammed in that van with 6 other people and their belongings.  Sleep deprived and sore, participants must navigate all types of roads to meet their runner at exchange points and send out the next team member.  The race has grown to 1,050 teams with each team having 12 runners, some who have travelled from all over the world to participate.  Each member chooses a “leg” between 1-12, each varying by distance and difficulty.  Van 1 starts at Timberline Lodge and runners 1-6 complete their first legs.  At the end of leg 6, runner 7 from van 2 is tagged in and van 1 drives ahead to the end of leg 12 and rests until van 2 arrives.  This back and forth happens three times until runner 12 crosses the finish line on the coast of Seaside.

Starting line at dawn on Mount Hood

Starting line at dawn on Mount Hood

The logistics of Hood to Coast are mind boggling and most runners are pushed to their limits as they pound the pavement on open highways and breath the dust of gravel country roads.  It sounds completely insane and some (including my other half) wonder why the heck anyone would PAY to put themselves through such torture.

Those white dots are runners!

Those white dots are runners!

All done with a very dark and dusty leg 21!

All done with a very dark and dusty leg 21!

It’s hard to explain the answer to that question except by saying…Hood to Coast is some SERIOUS FUN!  I love the physical challenge of running on various terrain and various times throughout the day and night.  I love the camaraderie that is so quickly built between team members who are in this crazy thing together, all with the goal of taking care of each other and getting to that finish line.  The last two years I have done Hood to Coast, I have been on teams where I have only known 1 or 2 people before race day, and by the end of those two days together in a van, I have made 5 incredible friends.  I love the kindness I encounter from the other teams we see along the way.  Even the elite runners who are flying past me in the middle of the night offer encouragement and congratulations.  I also love seeing Oregon in a way I normally wouldn’t.  Driving to the coast is one thing, running various points along the way is another.  People get really into making the race fun and some of the team names crack me up.  A few of my favorites from this year include:

  • Scrambled Legs and Achin’
  • At Your Cervix (I think this was a group of ladies from a gynecology office.  They also had some really cute team shirts.)
  • Run?  I Thought You Said Rum!
  • The Agony of Da Feet (This won the award for the best team name)

photo-24

This year I ran leg 9, which means I completed legs 9, 21 and 33.  Here is what Portland Running Company has to say about Leg 9:

photo-25“Teams would be advised to put their strongest runner on this leg of Hood to Coast. Leg Nine’s runner encounters a scene from the Great Dustbowl in his or her second stage, and the third stage is eight miles long, which is, well, just plain long. Stamina, fortitude, and confidence are essential for this runner.”

Me?  The strongest runner?  Last year I struggled to finish my Hood to Coast legs.  I hobbled around the house for days after it was over.  I have spent the last year doing p90x, p90x2, and running lots of miles and it paid off in a huge way. Despite having a tough set of legs, I felt amazing the entire race this year.  My calves weren’t cramping, my IT bands weren’t tight, and I didn’t have to push my mind beyond its limits.  I felt so strong going into my last leg of the race and finished feeling over the moon!  I may not have the abs I want, nor the fastest half marathon time, but I have made huge progress in my strength and stamina over the last year.  Don’t forget to use varied ways of testing your fitness and progress.  I have found it very important to measure success in many different areas.  It is encouraging to see growth and change and its important to not get hung up on one or two ways of measuring progress.

Crossing the finish line as a team at Seaside, OR

Crossing the finish line as a team at Seaside, OR

If you have been thinking about running a relay race, I would recommend you give one a try!  It’s a hectic, exhausting and completely exhilarating experience!  See you at Hood to Coast 2015 🙂

photo-26