Saturday, November 30, 2013

Running with Facebook Friends and the Day I Didn't Mean to Run a Marathon

Last year on Thanksgiving about 7 of us running friends from our Facebook group, Runner's Anonymous, got together on Thanksgiving to run before we chowed down on our big meals. This year we decided we wanted to meet up again but waited until the Saturday after Thanksgiving when we would hopefully have some more time to run and not have to hurry home to our Thanksgiving feasts.  Plus, our Facebook group has grown so much (over 400 members now) and so it was going to be fun to meet more runners in real life.
 Robert Merriman suggested a big park in Bluffdale that has a big 1 mile outer loop and a  smaller inner loop so that we could run and still see each other often.  

 Since I have now officially started training for my 100 mile run coming up in February the  training schedule calls for big mileage on the weekends.  I'm not necessarily following it  exactly but I'm trying my best.  

 The plan for today's run was to meet at 8:00 am and run as long as you want.  I arrived at  about 6:45 am and started in the dark.  I wanted to get a few miles in before the group got  there.  I wore my headlamp and set out on a nice paved path and went around and around  the 1 mile loop.  As it started to get lighter a few cars came in and so I finished up the loop I  was on and headed over to say hello to the friends that had gotten there.    
 My buddy Josh Hansen and other running friend Becca Wood had come and I am always  happy to see their smiling faces.
 My friend Cory Reese, who is the 100 mile maniac champ, and the one who inspires me to run  these long distances had text me a few days previously and asked about running this weekend  since he was in town with his family. I told him to come join the RA group, which he happily did.  I was thrilled to see him and his wife, Mel, and son, Jackson.  

 Since he is known far and wide for his mad jumping skills we all decided we needed a lesson  from the pro. And were we ever in for a treat!  I don't know if I should give away his secrets but I  was so surprised to learn that the very first rule is to set the camera on the GROUND!  Well,  that just made perfect sense.  The other tricks I won't give away.  Maybe someday you can  invite him to run with you and you can learn the tricks from the master.  
 Instantly we were all jumping for joy, or jumping like Mexican jumping beans, or just jumping  with pure delight because we were being taught by the master himself.  This started turning into  a jumping party instead of a running party!
 After chatting, jumping, snacking on some treats, drinking hot chocolate and hot cider, it was  time to head out and get some more mileage in.
 Robert Merriman, Papa Kunz, me, Elise Kunz, and Gay Tregaskis.  These people are all such  awesome friends and amazing people.  I feel so blessed to know each one of them and look  forward to the times I get to see them.

 The group started breaking up and people were leaving.  I knew I wasn't done yet.  I had a lot  more to do.  I was so grateful that Cory ran quite a few miles with me.  It does make the time go  faster when there are people to chat with. We talked about the upcoming 100 mile race in  Vegas, and that helped ease my mind a little.  I know I won't be running all 100 miles.  There's  just no way.  I'm glad to know that it's OK if I walk a lot.  I'm sure I will be.  Even with all the  training I just know my body will be hating me and screaming at me as I get up past 50 miles.  From what I've heard and read is that it then becomes a mind over body experience.  This is  what I want to be able to accomplish.  I want to see how strong-willed and determined at that  point I can be.  I want to see if I have the mental capacity to just keep pushing and going when  my body says enough!  I just want to know what that experience will feel like on my own, without  reading what everyone else says it feels like. 
 After I said good-bye to everyone I was then alone to keep going and get in as much mileage  as I could.  I got my ipod out and listened to music.  I have a Christmas playlist and so that was  super fun to listen to.  I mixed up my loops and ran in different directions.  There were different  routes and mile markers all along the trail so I would totally change things up all the time.  Luckily I had my Garmin and so it kept track of all mileage done for the day.

 At mile 17.5 Cory text me and asked how far I had gone.  I told him and he gave me a thumbs  up.  He wanted a report of my mileage when I was done.   That gave me motivation to just keep  going a bit longer. 

 At mile 23 I just wanted to be done so I got in the car and ate a piece of cold pizza.  I thought I  would end it there but then I thought I could get out and do one more mile.  Then I stopped and  got a drink and stretched at mile 24.  I text Mark at home and asked if he needed me home for  anything or if I was OK to keep going. He was so supportive and said all was well at home and  to keep going if I needed to.  As I would complete each mile I thought I would end there.  I was  getting so bored out there alone.  But as I kept getting closer to 26.2 I thought, "A Marathon?,  why not?"
 So nearly 6 hours later, with the watch paused for jumping, visiting, and snacking, I had  completed my unexpected marathon for the day.  Although I was bored for a lot of those later  miles I felt happy and more excited for the big race in February.  I text Cory and told him that  26.2 felt like a good number to end on for the day.  He was very kind and responded back to  me with this nice advice.  "To finish a 100 miler you have to be able to tolerate some  mindlessness and boredom and be able to do crazy things like run 26.2 miles just for the  fun of it.  You have the most important key to success."

This is fun right?

Bring on Vegas!!

Wait....not yet....I still have more training to do first.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful 13 Half Marathon

Ahhhh!!!! Thanksgiving!!!! One of my favorite holidays of the year.  But to be able to enjoy all the calories I would be indulging in I wanted to run a race to cancel it all out before the damage happened.  I wanted to sign up for the Thankful 13 half marathon but hesitated because I would be hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year and I wasn't sure I could do that and run a morning race.  So, I didn't sign up.  Only about a week before the race I was still really, really, wanting to run this but refrained from signing up, especially since it was now at the full price option.  Well, one of the pace groups that I belong to had just posted that their 2:40 pacer was injured and wouldn't be running.  They asked if anyone would like the spot.  I immediately jumped on it (after chatting it over with Mark to make sure he would be ok with me being gone on Thanksgiving morning).  He was completely supportive and so I took the spot.  

I headed over to packet pick-up on Wednesday afternoon and picked up 10 packets for other running friends who asked.  Hey, it's what us runners do to help each other out, right?  The pacing group also asked up to help out if we could at packet pick-up so I offered when I got there and they told me they had things covered, but that if I wanted to head over to Lehi to the starting line area they could use help over there.  So I hopped back in the car for about a 10 minute drive down the road.  
When I got there they were just barely starting with unloading a big trailer and also hauling all kinds of stuff all over the place.  I wasn't dressed appropriately for heavy labor and so I took the job of punching holes in the tops and bottoms of these 60+ signs which would be placed all over the course.  As I read through some of the things people were thankful for that they had previously submitted I thought it was fun to recognize a few of my running buddies names, so I snatched a couple photos and sent them to them.  They were thrilled.

I ended up also helping with setting up the big blow-up starting line arch, by attaching signs all over it as it was filling with air.  I also hauled big orange cones out of a trailer, and just toted stuff to where ever the people asked me to.  I learned very quickly that setting up races is NOT a fun job and I am so glad it's something I don't do on a regular basis.  I have a whole new appreciation for Race Directors.  Did I mention it was really cold outside?    
Race morning dawned not too early, about 6:00 am for me and I got ready and headed to the starting line around 7:00 am.  Because I was subbing for the injured pacer my bib said her name, so I would be Susanne Martin for this race.  That's ok.  I was just thrilled to be running. Pacing was just an added bonus.
My good buddy Joshua was running this race as well and was hoping for a 2:40 and so planned to run with me for the entire race.  We have only done that a couple times previously, and it's always a good time when we run together.  He must have been in a baking mood because he made the most delicious batch of rice krispy treats I have ever eaten.  They were loaded with caramels, pretzels, and snickers.  What a tasty treat!  He handed a bunch of them out to his running buddies.  There goes some of my calories, and I haven't even touched Thanksgiving dinner yet.   Heck, I haven't even run yet.
Me and the bright green pacing sign I got to hold for 13.1 miles.  (Except when I had to make a pit stop and send the sign down the course with Josh and then catch up to him later) It happens.
The race would be starting at 8:00 am and the sun was coming out and I shed a couple jackets and headed over to the starting line area.  The course was beautiful and weaved through some nice residential areas, golf courses, and along the River Jordan Parkway Trail.  It was truly a perfect day for running and I was just happy to be a part of it. 
Pacing went very well, other than running a 2:40 is a bit of a struggle when I'm used to pacing 2:20 spots. I was constantly watching the time and realizing I needed to go slower.  Each mile I would be over by anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, so I would take more walk breaks at the aid stations and then continue to try and run slower.  It all worked out in the end when I came in at 2:39:30.  These 2 gals I see often at races and I love visiting with them.  Denise and Melanie always make me smile.
YAY for treats at the finish line.  Pumpkin bundt cakes, hot chocolate and pumpkin pie.  Pretty delicious if you ask me.  Oops, there goes more of those hard earned calories.
What in the world is this photo doing here?  That's exactly what I was wondering.  Then I realized it's what Josh does if you ever hand him your camera.  He's the selfie king. Taking pictures for me to be surprised and find later.  
Josh, me and another running friend, Robert Merriman
More running friends, Becca and her hubby Nate Wood.  She actually ran for the first few miles with me and Josh but must have gotten a little spring in her step because off she went without us.  She regretted that decision later when we found her around mile 11 out of fuel and energy. I gave her a chocolate GU and on we went.  She was able to catch back up and even finished strong coming in before me.  Good job girl!
This race and course was absolutely fabulous.  I would certainly love to run it again next year.  It was the perfect way to start a Thanksgiving morning.  
 I'm loving the turkey medal!  He's a cute one.

As for things at home, I had made most of my food items the day before and had set the table the night before so that when I got home I only had a few little things to do.  Mark had put the turkey in the oven and kept tabs on that.  He did a good job and that turkey was just coming out of the oven as I got home.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Jordan

My boy, Jordan, had a birthday this year on Thanksgiving.  Poor guy, this happens to him about every 7 years.  So we decided to celebrate a day early so he could still feel important.  I bought 3 large Papa John pizzas and some drinks and we celebrated at home this year.  It's always a good time too when the grand kids come over.  They entertain all of us.  I'm so lame sometimes and forget the simple basics like candles to put on the cake, and ice cream to go with the cake.  Seriously, who does that?  So, we improvised with the candles and pulled out a number 4 and a number 6 (from when I turned 46) and wrote a 2 on the back of the 6 so we could get a 24.  It's a good thing Mark made the cake because that may have been forgotten too.  My only excuse is having to host the Thanksgiving dinner this year and worrying about everything associated with that.  We skipped the ice cream and ate the super yummy carrot cake that Mark has perfected the art of making.  Seriously, it's so good.  He made one once for a scouting fundraiser in the ward and it brought in $110 dollars because everyone was bidding on it.  Part of his secret is the way he does the frosting and also you have to chill the cake and eat it ice cold.  Super yummy!!

 Jordan opened his gifts, which were all things he had asked for from the health food store.  He has been working out and gets all kinds of supplement stuff there so me and Cooper took the list of things he requested and got him all the goods he was wanting.  Keep pumping that iron, Jordan, you buff boy!
Oh, and Happy Happy Birthday cute boy!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Corner Canyon Group Run

November 23
I've been having so much fun just asking on Facebook in a couple of running groups, if anyone wants to go on a trail run, and seeing who shows up.  This was the 3rd weekend in a row I decided to ask and see if anyone would go with me.  The first week there were 10 of us.  The second week we got 8, and then this week there were 4 plus a dog.  Often times I like to run alone but if I can get others to join me on the trails I prefer that.  Mostly, because I get bored after a few hours of me, my brain, and my music but also because I feel way more safe out there with someone else to scare away the bears, cougars, and wolves. Now I'll be honest, I've never seen any of those, nor heard of people seeing them, but there's always a first for everything.  Actually, I saw a porcupine once out here in Corner Canyon, and that was a little freaky!

Me, Jeff, Dallas, Cosmo (the dog), Jeffrey

So for this weeks run I headed to Corner Canyon and got one person from last week to join in and two others I had never met before.  One of them I had talked to on Facebook and is also planning to run the Vegas Ultra 100 in February.  We had plenty to talk about with that race coming up so soon.  Jeff gave some great strength training recommendations to get my legs and hips ready for the race.  I'll be working on that pronto!
We met at the Andy Ballard Equestrian parking lot and headed up into the hills.  When we got to the upper area of the canyon we found quite a few places with signs like this.  I was very sad because these were my very favorite places to run.  So we headed off and explored a new area, only to discover down below other people using the closed trails.  We also had run into a couple other people on the trails that had said they were going to head over and run them anyway.  So we did the same thing.  I was VERY nervous about crossing over the chain and would not have done it had I been out running alone.  I figured if we got in trouble then we would get in trouble all together.  One of them said "What are they going to do, give us a running ticket?" 
After getting deep into the trail and seeing the snow, ice, and sometimes mud, it made sense as to why the trails were closed.  We only did a little slippin' and slidin' sometimes, but mostly did fine. We had a great time.  Anne's trail which is higher up the mountain is the longest trail in the Corner Canyon system and we were able to do a very long out and back on it before heading back to the car.
This is Jeff who is planning to run the Vegas Ultra 100 in February too.  Good times will be had I'm sure.
After almost 5 hours of running in a cool, crisp, and exhilarating morning we ended up with a distance of 19.25 miles.  That's finally some good mileage I have so desperately been needing to get.  My training for the ultra is calling for some big runs on the weekends and my challenge and goal will be to continue to try and do this in the next couple months.  

One thing I have discovered about myself in this whole running journey is how much I really enjoy the social aspect of it.  I love to run the races and be with the people.  I love to organize runs and just head out into the hills and visit while running.  I don't love to train and run by myself in the neighborhood.  That's just boring. So it will definitely be interesting to see how my training goes up through February.  I'm sure I'll be doing quite a bit of treadmill mileage too as Winter hits and the roads and trails get plastered with snow and ice. 

Let me know if you're ever up for a trail run on the weekend!  You know I want to go!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Trail Running in a Winter Wonderland

Since signing up for my first 100 mile race coming up in February 2014, I have been researching online different training schedules and trying to find one that will work for me and my life and my brain.  I've narrowed it down to 2 different ones.   They are both recommended for newbie and first timers of the 100 mile distance. The problem is they require 24 weeks of training and I basically have only about 13 weeks. Yeah, slight problem.  Can I be ready for a 100 mile race in such a short amount of time?  Ready or not I'm going to have to be.  One of the ways I can get some good solid, intense runs in are by running in the mountains so close to home here.  Last Saturday I posted on FB and invited anyone to join me.  We got a good turn out of 10 people and meandered all around the hills for a few hours.  We had a good time and my heart is just really happy when I get to run up here.  I feel so incredibly lucky to live so close to some beautiful trails.

Photo taken November 9th, 2013

So now here it is a week later and I'm itching to run the trails again and shooting for some bigger mileage than last week.  Once again I posted in FB and was super surprised to get some response from some of the big guns that run with the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers FB group.   I'm not a fast runner at all and so I was a bit nervous about running with fast people.   6 men and 2 women is what our group was comprised of.  I was so grateful another woman showed up! My friend Jen Richardson.  We met at 6:45 am at the trailhead, introduced ourselves and off up the hill we went.  About 10 minutes into the run it started to snow ever so softly.  A half hour into the run it was coming down in bigger flakes and an hour later we were getting plastered.  Every so often I would hum to myself "Sleigh bells ring, are ya listening? In the lane, snow is glistening, a beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, running in a winter wonderland."  Notice I changed it from walking to running.  I had to, since that's what we were actually doing.  Yeah, there's nothing quite like running in the snow in the mountains to make your heart happy and chipper.  I think I am still smiling from the exhilaration of being out there.
The only thing I regret was not wearing a hat to keep the snow out of my face.  Other than that I was warm and enjoying every minute of this.  One of the guys brought a camera and kept pulling it out of his pack to snap pictures of everyone as we ran by.  That was pretty awesome of him since my family probably wouldn't have had any idea of what I was experiencing out here.

Runners:  Matt Clark, Carl Grimaud, Jenn Richardson, Me, Bill Hiatt, Sam Jewkes, Jeff Davis and not pictured Nathan Younger

We spent a little over 2 hours out here in the weather and 8.25 miles later I got back to my car.  I was ready to get my wet jacket, gloves and headband off and get into a warm car.  It was definitely a fun experience and I'm hoping to do it again soon.