Sunday, September 14, 2014

Porter's 23rd Birthday

September 13th, 1991, a special day when I delivered a healthy baby boy, my baby.
I love this picture because of the way he is embracing us with his strong, long arms.  So warm!

Tonight we would gather together as a family and just celebrate for him, since he's not here.
I made a chocolate, buttermilk, zucchini, cake which is so moist and delicious.  I look forward to digging into this!
We decided to meet at 7:00 pm at the house and when all the gang arrived we got a photo on the stairway.  Oftentimes in the early years after Porter passed away I would picture him at the top of the stairs where Jordan is sitting just watching me work in the kitchen, and conversing with me because that's what he would do.  I thought a photo of us all on the stairs would be appropriate.
Jordan is dating a cute little gal named Katelyn and she was so worried about hanging out with us for this family event but I was very happy she did.  Her mom insisted on her bringing us balloons and flowers!  How sweet of both of them.
Cooper is also dating a very lovely girl named Kari.  We are anxious and hopeful that marriage will happen soon for them.
We headed off to Wallaby's BBQ for a yummy meal together.  Porter loved to eat, although he was as skinny as a rail it sure didn't show.  We ate plenty for him tonight!

We love you sweetheart!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Nebo Half Marathon 2014

Oh how I love this race!  Let me count the ways!!

Nebo is hands down my favorite half marathon course I've ever run.  This would be my third year in doing it and I was looking so forward to it.  September couldn't get here fast enough so I could run down this beautiful canyon.  There is nothing quite like running down a mountain road with beautiful Fall colors and pine trees and rivers to see along your way. 

I got to bed super early Friday evening, about 8:45 pm, for a wake-up alarm at 3:45 am the next morning.  I slept pretty well for a pre-race night and was feeling physically and emotionally so excited!  I got myself ready and headed to the kitchen for a banana and yogurt, and made myself a toasted PB and honey sandwich to eat about a half hour before the race started.  I also drank a little caffeine, which I usually do before races but I think I probably drank a little too much because I was a tad bit hyper on the bus.  Poor Becca and Josh, some of my running buds were trying to rest 
their eyes on the long, dark, drive up the canyon but I was just a bit too chatty and giggly!
Awwwee!  I love this girl!  She ran her heart out!

We got off the bus with just about 40 minutes to spare and stand in the port-a-potty lines and visit with all of our Runaway Friends (FB Group)  We were missing quite a few people in the photo but as you can see we were excited and ready to run!!!

Front: Jonathon Crampton, London Riding, Robert Merriman, Kathryn Massa
Back:  Cathy Twitchell, Becca Wood, Me, Vince Massa

The race started right on time at 7:00 am and my whole goal was to try and stay ahead of my pacer friend Jonathon Crampton here holding the 1:45 pacer sign.  I ran down another canyon a couple weeks ago in another race called Run Elevated that I haven't blogged about yet in 1:48 and I was soooo hoping I could do this canyon in 1:45.  I just wasn't sure though.  I had a friend tell me I could and so I was trusting and hoping.

  I ran this Nebo race the 2 previous years 1:54:35 in 2013 and 1:57:49 in 2012.  

We headed over to the starting area and chatted a bit more with friends and then we were off.  I had lined up between the 1:35 and 1:45 pacer and just took off fast.  I wasn't sure if that was smart or not but I decided to just go for it.  I wanted to run this race without looking at my garmin and just run according to what my body felt like doing.

Stride for Stride
Elbow to Elbow
Shadow by Shadow
I felt someone with me the entire 13.1 miles.
I know I had an angel helping me run this race!
Many times I even felt a little extra push and burst of energy to keep me going. 

I ran this race COMPLETELY with my heart.  I looked at my watch once around mile 6 and then decided I just didn't want to know my pace.  Somebody further along in the race was keeping the same pace as me for a few miles and said we were running slightly under a 7 minute mile and I told him shhhhh.....I didn't want to know!  I let him go on ahead so I could enjoy my peace and joy of what I was experiencing. 

This course was changed slightly from last year with an added half mile on flat ground and around a high school track.  I had stayed within reach of the 1:35 pacers for most of the race and when I got to the track I heard cheering, whistling and the excitement of the finish line and just sprinted with all the energy I had.  I passed the pacers and came in with a final time of 1:34:27.  I was so ecstatic!  

Holy Cow!  What had just happened??  I just wandered around in a daze not really believing this. I got a few high fives and hugs from many running friends who were just as shocked as me.  Does trail running really make you a faster road runner?  Well, if so give me more trails!  That's where my real love of running happens anyway.

 I enjoyed some treats of watermelon, chocolate milk, wheat bread and honey, and a Creamie.  
So delicious after a race! 

Later I checked the stats after they were hung and found this!  What??

 Ummmmm..................that's NEVER happened before, but I sure was thrilled with it.  I've never stood on a podium before!  Yikes!  So glad I didn't fall off and embarrass myself.
 I hung out for another hour or so just visiting with great friends and enjoying the runner's high that happens and lingers for me for a long time. 
 Me, Robert Merriman, Josh Hansen, Becca Wood
 Super, duper fun day and a race I will definitely return to again!

There were so many friends who got PR's today and had a phenomenal experience!  Congrats to all of them!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Porter's Half Marathon August 30, 2014

What an absolutely perfect/beautiful day this turned out to be.  I love this race and have run it now for three years in a row.  Each year has been such a different experience, yet each experience so valuable.

I picked out a couple photos from Porter's scrapbook and pinned them to my back as I have done each year when I run this race.  Although the race is about Porter Rockwell and not specifically in honor of MY Porter I like to think it is.
I got up super early, around 4:20 am and got up to the Draper park by around 5:30 am for packet pickup.  I met up with a few friends from my running Facebook group for some great visiting and hanging out while we waited for the bus ride up to the starting line.
 Me and London Riding.  
She and I have shared a lot of miles and conversations together.  A great lady, and friend.
This was a much smaller race than many other races, with only about 150 people running the half today.  
The weather was incredibly perfect.  It started a little warm even, but right off we got some nice winds to cool things off and even some cloud cover to help.  The whole run was just absolutely gorgeous!  I love to look at the mountains and skies and all the scenery around me as I run.  It helps keeps my mind off the hard stuff.
We gathered for a pre-race group photo and then got ready to run.

I had no specific goals for this race except have a great time!  Well, let's be honest, it would be nice to hopefully run it just a bit faster than the two previous years.  (2:14:39 and 2:30:48) I have been working super hard over the past 6 months with core work and trail running and hoped that all that work would carry over into road running.  

Good news!  I completed the run in 2:08:59 and I was very pleased with that time, yet my experience out on the run was more important than the time.  Really, truly I was just so enjoying the moments of kind words from people as they would pass and see my sign.  There were some great conversations from a few others as well. 
I was so honored to run with a great mentor and friend, Cory, whom I met while running ultras this year.  I'm learning that everyone in life really has a story and if you just stop and talk and ask questions and listen, they oftentimes want to share.
After finishing the race I, of course, found some delicious food of watermelon, and oatmeal and just sat on the grass and ate and visited some more with friends.  My heart was just so happy and in a peaceful place.
 We hung out at the finish line for quite a while just enjoying the atmosphere and the excitement that you feel from finishing a race.
I tend to turn into a silly dweeb at times from the runner's high I get after a race.  Oh well!  It's who I am.
My pacer friend Monte in the orange shirt took 7th overall in the race and first in his age group.  His wife London right next to him, took third in her age group and was extremely pleased as well.
An excellent day!  I'll cherish it always!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Jackpot Ultra 100 Running Festival

(Made by my running buddy Joshua at

100 miles??!! Did I really just do this?  Yes, my body is telling me I did but my brain is still trying to catch up.  I hope I can share my thoughts and feelings of this whole experience adequately enough for you, the reader, to enjoy yet at the same time to realize, it is a dream that any runner with a willing heart and the commitment to training can accomplish.  I'm not a super hero, or super elite running woman.  In fact, I still consider myself a regular, back of the pack, kind of running girl.  I'm not fast by any means.  I just find happiness in being around other runners out there doing what makes them happy too.   

So, how did I come to this decision of 100 miles?  Well, the easy answer would just be to say Cory Reese made me do it.  He was a great influence and I will be forever grateful for his inspiration.  Reading about his experiences is what probably gave me the courage to realize that maybe I can do this.  I am fascinated with long distances and have been for a long time.  I wasn't getting any younger and I thought if I was ever going to attempt something like this then I better get going on it soon. 
(Cory at mile 36 at the Jackpot Ultra 100)

This is the training plan I followed but didn't pick it up until around week 11, since I signed up for the race with only about 14 weeks of training before race day.  That was alright in my thinking though because I was already actively running before starting this specific training plan.  

Friday afternoon we headed on down to Vegas, where we stayed with my cousin in her beautiful home.  We drove over to Cornerstone Park to check out the surroundings and get a general idea of where I would be spending the next 30 hours.  We could see a lake, pathways, motion sensor light poles, dirt trails, public bathrooms, picnic areas and a little bit of grassy area.  I think it helped with the pre-race jitters to see that, however I didn't sleep very well that evening. 

I got up about 6:30 am Saturday morning and was ready to go by 7:15 am.  Cornerstone Park was only a 10 minute drive away so that was very ideal for those who would be coming and going throughout the day and night to help pace me.

The route we would be running was a 2.38 mile loop around the lake in a horseshoe shape, 42 times.  We would run the outer loop first and then make a big turn and head back on the inner loop.  I had set my stuff up right near the half way point and so I was able to have an aid station at the starting/finish line and half way through on the grassy area.  It was a very convenient set up.
The cutoff for completing the 100 miles was 30 hours and since this was my first hundred miler I was planning on using all 30 of those hours.  I had no idea what to expect, only that I WANTED desperately to just finish.  Mark, my dear husband, helped me get my stuff set up and hung around until the race started.   
Cory found us and set his stuff up by mine.  That was comforting for the fact that it meant I would at least see him once in awhile.  There is a great sense of calm and comfort in seeing a familiar face at a race when you are so far from home and attempting something like this for the first time. A couple of other sweet friends from home decided to come down and do the 6 hour event and so I was super happy about that as well.  London and Monte Riding have been friends for almost a year now and they make me smile daily through our Facebook conversations in our running group.  Another familiar face was Cinder, who lives in Vegas and was an amazing volunteer at the race.  She brought her massage table and hung out all day and night helping many people, not only with massage but at the timing table and the aid station.  THANK YOU CINDER! Those volunteers are really angels.  A race certainly couldn't be done without all they do.
London, Me, Cinder

After a big group picture and then listening to the Star Spangled Banner on the trumpet by a very like-able and well known ultra runner, Mr. Ed Ettinghauser, it was time for this party to get started.  And boy what a party was in store! OK, running may not be a party but hanging out with so many other amazing, fascinating ultra runners just felt incredible.  9:00 am and we were off! Would I really be out here 30 hours???
The temperatures were comfortable for most of the day with only a couple hours that were a little bit yucky. I was so grateful for some nice cloud cover but definitely wore my sunscreen.  I learned that lesson quickly from other experiences.  

I had told my mom and a couple other friends to text me or call anytime day or night.  I wouldn't be going anywhere except around and around in a circle and would definitely love some company or distraction once in awhile.  My friend Laurie Oldroyd called and wanted to see what the surroundings looked like so I took this picture to send to her.  You can see see way across the lake the starting/finish line area.  You can also see that the scenery just wasn't that gorgeous, but we had birds and geese honking at us throughout the day, hanging out in different places on the course.  Also, because the course ran all the way out and made a turn and then went back the opposite direction, we were always seeing other runners.  It was awesome to say hi and wave to everyone attempting this same crazy thing.
The first 32+ miles I wore this green shirt and then after feeling completely soaked from the warmth of the day I changed my top.  I had texted my family around 2 or 3 pm and said to come back and help me out.  They got my clothes, and other things needed, body glide, baby wipes, etc handed off to me to do a quick change in the bathrooms.  I said hi and goodbye quickly and headed out onto the course again.
It was amazing how completely refreshed I felt and ready to tackle some more miles at this point.  I had my ipod in and was enjoying some tunes, but sure wishing I could have a buddy to run with at this point. 
So as the day went on I just continued running and walking trying to not over exert myself and would see Cory occasionally.  He gave me some good advice to pretend like the race really starts at mile 60.  So, for now I needed to just conserve and run smart.  He talked about how he had definite places he would walk and had those specific places planned out every loop.  I probably should have used that strategy but didn't.  I went with the feeling of run when my body felt like it and walk when it didn't.  As long as I had some good music I was doing alright.  Cory's strategy worked wonderfully for him as he set a new 5 hour PR!  

As the day started turning to late afternoon and early evening we were then allowed pacers.  We could have any amount of pacers but only one at a time.  My sweet cousin, Laurie Brister, who opened up her home to our family (and gave Mark and I her king sized bed to sleep in) was the first that would join me.  She showed up around 6:40 pm.  She runs a little bit and has run one half marathon.  I wasn't sure how long she would be hanging out with me but I was more than thrilled when she ended up doing 14.25 miles with me!!  She just kept going around and around those loops with me, 6 times to be precise.  I think it was about 11 or 12 am when she finished up.  We must have been having so much fun together that we completely forgot to take a picture out on the course, so we got one on the morning after the race.  Yes, I'm standing but not for long in this picture. 
Another friend of mine who lives in Vegas came by with her husband.  I wanted her to run with me but she didn't feel ready.  Her husband ran half a loop with me.  They cheered for me though and made a cute sign and hung it in a tree so I could look at it as I went around the course.
It was so amazing to me how every encouraging text, sign, phone call, message on the phone, person pacing, people giving thumbs up, etc. just would give another little boost when I would start to feel tired and want to quit.  I will admit right now that I was tempted around mile 60 to just be done.  But I knew there were so many friends and family rooting for me that I just couldn't quit.  

After my cousin, Laurie was gone, and my friend Mike and Robin Ballard had left, I was alone for just a short amount of time.  Then, my most sweetest ever husband showed up. He brought me some avacados (yes I was craving that at 1:00 in the morning) and my recharged phone and garmin (I had two) that had died earlier in the day.  Like I said, it was nice to have my cousin live so close to the course.  Mark then ran 2 loops with me for a total of 4.8 miles.  It was dark outside, yet peaceful and just so comforting having him there with me.  I had no idea he was planning to be there in the night for me.  It was about 12-1:30 am that he spent with me and I was so grateful.  Once again no picture. I think my brain had gone to sleep for the night.
Somewhere later in the evening Cinder wanted to give me a hug from all my Facebook Running friends back home who were asking about my progress and cheering me on.  THANK YOU to all of you!  You know who you are!  I felt very supported and loved by all of you.
Somewhere around mile 45 I was enjoying some luscious cheesecake.  I did have a few times in the day and night where I would get nauseated and wasn't sure if I needed more food, less food, more water, less water, more salt tabs?  It's all a challenge to figure out the fueling.  Some gingerale and pretzels usually worked the best when this issue came up.  

After Mark was done pacing me, a girl who lives 2 hours North of me wanted to pace.  I had only met her once briefly at a race last month and then we conversed at length on Facebook.  She had talked about wanting to be part of this experience with me.  I was cautious because I didn't know her, yet I realized that this could be a huge blessing for me.  She told me she was going to be in town and to text her anytime in the night when I was ready for help.  I texted her at 1:30 am and she arrived not too much later.  

Around 4:00 am my son also showed up and surprised me.  He did one loop with me and I was super happy about that.  He got to see a little bit of what ultra runners experience as we came upon a woman who was really struggling.  She was crying and needing a boost.  We hung out with her for quite a long distance and shared stories and helped cheer her up.  
We watched the moon go across the sky and at mile 85 stopped for a picture before the moon was gone.

This sweet girl, Robin Williams, who dropped everything and came to help me, hung out with me all through those lonely, dark hours of the night from around 2:00 am until about 8 in the morning.  The weather was a little cool and I wore sometimes one jacket and sometimes two.  I was very grateful for such beautiful conditions though.  I knew the heat would be coming though when the sun came up, but boy did I ever want to see that sunrise.  
She stayed with me for about 20 miles and we just talked all night long about anything and everything, but mostly about running.  What a great support and such a selfless act for me a stranger but now forever friend.  Here we are saying good-bye as she is leaving around mile 91.  I still had 4 more laps to go.

 I had 9 1/2 miles left!  I could do this!  I was tired and dragging and barely running at all.  Occasionally, I would muster some strength and shuffle along for a little bit but it was challenging.  The sun was pounding down now and it was getting super hot.  There was no cloud cover this morning.  I slathered on some more sunscreen and just tried to finish those last few miles.  Mr. Ed Ettinghauser, the guy who played the trumpet for the opening of the run yesterday was coming up behind me as I had 3 laps left.  He was walking most of the whole course due to an injury.  It was pretty amazing to watch him walk so fast with those long legs.  I hooked up and visited with him and his nephew for a complete loop.  I asked about what keeps a person wanting to do these 100 mile races multiple times?  I just don't think I personally have it in me.  But Ed here, he is going for the record of most 100 mile races done in a calendar year.  That is just crazy, yet impressive!!  I felt honored to be able to see him finish.  I still had 2 more loops to do and was just so done both mentally and physically.   

Little did I know what was in store for me as I was anxious and worried about finishing this race alone.  I looked up and saw my husband there waiting for me.  I gave him a big hug!  He was there to finish my race with me and I just about cried.  He will never know the joy that brought to me.  We carried on continuing down the course.
I had seen this specific poster (there were a few others) along the course and loved it.  Mark took a picture of me with it.  I thought the first 2 statements were so appropriate at this very time of the race! I most definitely needed to keep thinking positive and just keep breathing deeply to get this done!  
I only had one loop left after this and I just dug in deep and finished the job!  When I figured out about how long I would be out there and that I could make it under 26 hours I pushed a little harder to break that time.

25 hours 49 minutes and 33 seconds later 
I crossed the finish line to my first 100 mile race!

I was elated, relieved, grateful for life, family, friends and so happy to have had this experience and to also be done!!!
I crossed that finish line and received my medal and belt buckle.  Cory Reese, my friend and inspiration was there to greet me and cheer for me as well as my family. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to so many people who helped make this happen for me.  It's definitely not a solo experience.  There were dark times in the night when it just felt too overwhelming and I would just break down and cry.  There were phone calls from special people who brought so many emotions to the surface.  There were some absolutely amazing texts from a dear sweet friend, Julia Hubbard, who has been where I have been and knew what to say to help buoy up my spirits. And I'm forever grateful!
 The ultra experience is a profound one, and worth doing at least once!

When we gathered all my stuff and headed back to my cousin's house I was hungry and all I wanted was a big fat sweet potato.  So that was my first after-race meal.  A couple hours later after an ice bath and hot shower and putting on jammies I had a soft flour chicken taco and soft flour beef taco, filled with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and cheese!  That hit the spot magically and then I headed to bed! Lights out for this lady!