Fitbloggin 2013: fears, beers and tears

5 July, 2013 Off By Renée

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I had another amazing experience again at Fitbloggin this year though I would say slightly different than last year.

1. My amazing friend Jill-ann graciously offered me air miles to get from Amsterdam to San Francisco and back, so I only had to make my way to and from Portland – much friendlier on the budget! Also I had a live blogging assignment which got me into the conference for free.

2. I was returning to Portland where I lived from 1990 – 1994

3. In addition to Fitbloggin friends, I was going to see my best friend Joan, whom I haven’t seen since my wedding in 2009

This year I had different roommates. The coolest thing about the people who go to Fitbloggin is basically you can’t really go wrong in the roommate area. Last year my plans fell through with Paola and I arranged instead to room with Robby, Michelle and Melissa. This year, because I was so indecisive about going my original roommate plans fell through and once I put the signal out again that I needed to share with someone, Paola was my saving grace! There was no doubt in my mind that whomever my other two roommates were, we were going to have a blast! Within pretty much seconds of meeting Monica and Danielle I had my confirmation. Seriously, I didn’t think I could top last year’s roommate situation but to be perfectly honest my new roomies were equally awesome!

Monica, Danielle, Me, Paola

Monica, Danielle, Me, Paola

But it wasn’t just my roommates who squashed any fears of wondering if I belonged there. It was friends I met last year and meeting even more amazing people . People who could say “I know exactly what you are going through” or “I feel like we are practically twins” or even people who said ” we think you are amazing and are so glad you are here” . If you know me at all, you know I don’t do compliments well, in fact I’m WAY better at self-deprication.

Anyway, here’s how it went down:

I arrived in Portland on Wednesday night after a few delays from San Francisco, Joanie picked me up and we went to our hotel near the airport, dropped off our stuff and went for a drink and a few bites at a McMenimins near the river. Eventually we went back to the hotel and after chatting way too long in bed like two high school girls fell into a glorious deep sleep.

Thursday
We spent the morning talking, eating and drinking coffee in our old neighborhood up in NW and 23rd. Eventually my friend Winter came around and we went to Barista in the Pearl District so I could try a chemex brew (as you know, I do love coffee and never tried this brewing method before). Around 3pm it was time for Joan to drop me off at The Nines and for her to get back to her kids. Now I was officially nervous!

Turned out there was no need to be! The first person I ran into was Melissa! I’ve been talking to her for years and we mutually felt like we knew each other forever already. After that it was a bit of a blur… Paola came down to fetch me at reception and we went down again for a drink where several others were already there. We were in full on hugging mode! Kelly, Sue, Leah, Steve, Dacia Alan… and BROOKE! OH MY GOD BROOKE!!!!!! *twirls around*

photo courtesy of Brooke's instagram

photo courtesy of Brooke’s instagram

cool fitbloggers before the meet and greet - photo courtesy of Alan

cool fitbloggers before the meet and greet – photo courtesy of Alan

At some point we went down for the meet and greet where I met tons of new (to me) people, sadly I can not remember everyone’s name… BUT, after a while Erika ran up to me and hugged me HARD and then said “I’m not going to let you go!” – what an amazing way to meet someone!! I love her by the way, hilarious, sarcastic, snarky… my kind of girl!

Erizzle mah bizzle!

Erizzle mah bizzle!

I ran into Michelle and Maggie and then met Caroline and eventually groups started to split off for dinner. I went along with Maggie and Caroline for dinner and great conversation. After dinner I went back with them to their hotel room and hung out for a bit, but I didn’t want to stay up too late because I had arranged to meet a group in the morning to go for a run. Sadly I didn’t get a photo with M&C that I am aware of, but once I go through the Fitbloggin photos maybe I’ll find one.

Friday
I got up early to go running with a Amanda and Stephanie. Admittedly I was worried I wouldn’t keep up or even worse, I would be holding people back. Once again, in true Fitbloggin fashion, I was amazed and the wonderfulness of the two ladies I met up with at the somewhat uncomfortable hour of 6am. The sun was already shining and it was already warm. We ran along the waterfront and then a bit over by OHSU. In total Stephanie and I did 5 miles and then Amanda went and did a few more on her own. It was a fantastic way to start the day and a way to see Portland that I never really experienced before, even though I used to live there!

The rest of Friday was breakfast (mmmmmm bacon), chatting, and sessions. I decided I wanted to try and open up a bit more this time around, so Friday was all about sessions. Plus I had my live blogging assignment in the afternoon, Building your blog through organic SEO and image optimization (which is totally out of my league and took a lot of energy and stress to do the assignment; pretty sure I won’t be live blogging again). The funnest part of Friday was the Fashion Show! Emmie had asked several of us if we would like to model sports fashion and I really wanted to take the opportunity to do something outside of my comfort zone so I said yes!

Unfortunately I don’t have photos (yet) of the event (or rather I’m searching the web for people who have them) but here’s my girl Kenlie, Michelle, Leslie and myself after the fashion show:

Michelle and I flanked by the gorgeous Kenlie and Leslie

Michelle and I flanked by the gorgeous Kenlie and Leslie

After the fashion show was my live blogging session and then I spent some time starting to get the blog post together while my roomies headed out to Voodoo Donuts. Meredith dropped in and the roomies returned and we all went to the Deschutes Brewery for some BEER and food! Portland has never disappointed when it comes to micro-breweries and it’s only improved since I was gone!

deschutes

Next up was the Ignite presentations and some mingling and fun with Karaoke. And yes of course I had to sing!

All in all it was a LONG day but I was full of energy from all these amazing people that either just came into my life or had been in it for some time. I LOVED the first day!

Saturday
Up early again, and wanted to be sure I was properly fueled (i.e., coffee) before breakfast and my first workout so I left the room with my lovelies still sleeping and headed downstairs. I ran into Emily in the lobby so I asked her if she was waiting for anyone and what she was going to do. Turns out she was going for coffee as well! I was just going to head over to Starbucks but she was going to Stumptown for a coldbrew so I asked if I could join her. This is the kind of spontaneity and connection I love! We chatted as we walked, got a coffee and walked back to the Nines. I have seen Emily online but not sure we really talked before and it was an absolute delight to get to hang out with her even if only for about a half an hour. As most of you know, I’m somewhat of a coffee geek, so getting to talk to others about what I’m pretty passionate about (she’s a fan too!) is just really nice.

Saturday was going to be about workouts – first up was the trampoline class. As you know, last year I did not do this class as I was worried about my old lady bladder. This year I thought “screw that!” and signed up. What an AMAZING workout. And really HARD!! Who would have thought a little trampoline could create so much work! So much fun!

Caroline, me, Michelle, Maggie and Thea jumping like maniacs!

Caroline, me, Michelle, Maggie and Thea jumping like maniacs!

Then we had the Cross Fit workout, which to be honest, was a little disappointing. Last year it was much longer. It was literally 4 minutes after they explained a few of the exercises we’d be doing.

At some point Paola and I went off to lunch to the Food Carts. Again, this is a big change – when I lived in Portland, we had coffee carts and that was it. So to see all these amazing food choices was just overwhelming. In the end we went with organic piggy sandwich that had enough garlic on it to offend just about anyone in a one mile radius!

Fine Pork Sandwiches, people!

Fine Pork Sandwiches, people!

In the afternoon I attended the “When you have a lot to lose” session again and again it was tearful. Maybe I don’t have a lot to lose nor have I ever been more than 70 lbs overweight at anytime, but I can identify a lot with situations and feelings. I was also glad to be there for others and to have opened my mouth instead of bottling up my feelings like usual.

The downside to live blogging is that the rest of the afternoon I spent trying to get my notes together to finish my session’s blog while my roomies went out shopping at Lululemon and had a bite to eat at the food carts again. Eventually I was able to hook up with several lovlies (Dacia, Kelly, Brooke, Gwyn, Erika, Paola, Annabel – oh God am I forgetting someone???) and go to dinner at Rogue Brewery where I had, of course… BEER and food.

a beer flight

Saturday night was a bit nuts – we had the goodbye drink, there was tons of dancing, Joan came by with a couple of her friends, I spent a lot of time being snarky with Erika and eventually as I was trying to get two groups of people together that completely backfired on me and everyone split off as some point. I went up to the room (I was tired anyway), packed my bags and went to sleep.

Sunday

Sunday’s main event was the FUN RUN – I believe it was a 1 mile walk, a 5K or a 10K run. I choose the 10K as I just prefer that distance, and I wanted to add a bit more mileage to the week. Running in Portland was a great experience, it gave me time for reflection on how different I am compared to how I was/ what was important back when I lived there.

It was a gorgeous morning, the only downside to the run was that I had no map with me and I was not a part of the front group OR the back group. It seemed I was really in the middle of the pack but on my own. I tried a few times to stop and wait but I didn’t see anyone and wanted to continue. The 5K’ers went around the opposite way than how we started so I saw several people who High-Fived me along the way – a really nice boost! Eventually though I was lost so I just decided to carry on to hit the 10K mark however I could, to at least complete the task. If I have a chance next year, I would definitely put myself up to be a guide of some sort, to make sure everyone was with someone and everyone knew the way.

reflections from the run

reflections from the run

After the run we had breakfast and we were all rushing around saying goodbye, getting hugs, photos, etc. It went by too fast! Michelle and I were on the same flight back and several other people didn’t have to leave right away so I hung out for quite some time with Kenlie, Michelle, Tim, Sarah, Martinus, Alyssa (love these people so much, seriously)… eventually Joan came to have lunch and take Michelle and I to the airport.

Though I was with Michelle on the way back to San Francisco, Fitbloggin was officially over.

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