Monday, April 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Gardens Half Marathon

THAT was my very first thought after running this half marathon. But I will back up and begin at the start.
I got up about 5:15 am and got myself ready with the pre-race things I do: hair, make-up, dress, eat, gather necessary things for running etc. I then headed out the door about 6:00 am.  I got to Thanksgiving Point about 6:30 and got some good parking and headed to the hub where people were gathering.  It was so incredibly cold, about 35 degrees this morning and there was only one big heater for people to warm up by.  It was already so packed with people so I decided to just keep walking around to try and stay warm.  I also wanted to see if I could find my neighbor who was also running. In the process I found a couple more people I knew.  Scott Wheelhouse, Clint Friel, and eventually my neighbor Natalie. Monnica found me between mile 1 and 2 and we chatted for a couple minutes and then off she went.  She was hoping to beat her last week's time and I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with her so off she went.
My hands were so ice cold and some random person took my photo for me and didn't warn me when she was pushing the button so this is my unready pose.

At 6:50 am I dropped off my jacket and misc. stuff in the gear bag, drop-off area and started meandering to the starting line area looking for the 2:20 pacer.  Since I ran Salt Lake Half Marathon last week at 2:25:46 with three other people I was hoping to really push myself and beat that this week and get in around 2 hours and 20 minutes or less.  I was unfamiliar though once again with the course and didn't look up online ahead of time the elevation changes.  I kind of like to be surprised actually.  I may have to rethink this idea in future races after this mornings adventure.

The race started right on time with a lot of buzz and excitement in the air.  The MC was keeping us all laughing with his comments and jibberish. Well, off we went with the temps super cold but of course once you start running and heating up the cold actually feels good.  People shortly after started shedding gloves, hats, jackets, etc all along the course. 

I didn't keep track of my thoughts and feelings mile by mile but just tried to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of running with so many people around me.  Once we hit around mile three we were finally in the gardens area, which was actually my most favorite part of the run. 
(google images)
Unfortunately it only lasted a couple miles and then we hit the dreaded golf course area. 
I had heard a little bit of people talking about some hills in the golf course area but I had NO IDEA it was going to be so challenging.  Clint Friel who works at Gold's Gym as a personal trainer, and also used to be in our ward, ran this race and totally validated my feelings when he said "I have run 17 half marathons and this one was by far the hardest course I've run".  I was so glad to know that I wasn't just feeling like a big wimp but that it was actually very challenging for the well-seasoned runners out there too.  My friend Monnica who ran the Salt Lake Half with me last week also said she just ran out of steam around mile 10 because of all the hills in the golf course.
I'm not a golfer and have never been on a real golf course before but I have a new respect now for all those golfers out there who decide to walk the course instead of riding in the golf carts.  Definitely this is a great way to burn calories.
I'm not sure which half marathon number this is for me, maybe 9 or 10 but I definitely took the most walk breaks in this race than any others.  It just proves I should get out and do some more hill training in my runs. 

I was very impressed with how well the aid stations were managed.  There was plenty of bananas and oranges, Powerade and water all along the course. They also handed out more GU packets here than at any other race I've run.  I actually came home with more than I started with.  But one lesson learned is to not store them in my bra.  Major chaffing!

As I was coming toward the finish line my good friend Laurie was there to cheer me on.  I was so spent of my energy and was so glad to see her face.  I grabbed her arm and said "Please help me run faster and get to the finish line".  She ran the last couple minutes with me and I even made her run through the chute with me with all the crowds cheering us on.  What a great boost that was for me to have her be there at the end for me.  Thanks so much Laurie!!
We walked around and I got some super delicious after-race goodies.  Thanksgiving Point knows how to do good treats!  Chocolate milk, water bottles, bean and ham soup, kneaders bread, California Pizza Kitchen samples, big soft cookies, bagels and cream cheese, and fruit.
Somewhere around mile 11 my left calf started seizing up and I was really feeling it after the race was over.  I stopped to stretch it for a moment and Laurie felt the need for a photo moment.
My final time was 2:31:42 which was nowhere around my desire of 2:20:00 or better.  I'm totally fine with that considering what seemed like never-ending rolling hills!  I'm actually looking forward to a few races I have scheduled for this Summer which will be quite a bit of downhills on the courses.  That's where I will hopefully get a new PR.
The shirt and Medal
I have learned the importance of ice baths for muscle recovery and have talked about them a little bit in previous race recaps.  This is my first time actually showing myself in the tub. Mark wasn't home this morning and so Cooper helped me out by dumping the ice bin in the tub for me.  
The technique for taking an ice bath is quite simple.  Turn on lukewarm water and get in while it feels somewhat bearable.  Then immediately shut off the warm and let it fill up with straight cold water while your body gradually adjusts.  Then have a helper come in and dump the ice bucket.  Sit for 20-25 minutes reading a book and then go take a real nice hot shower afterwards.
After I got cleaned up and showered I was headed off to Southern Utah. My friend Annaleesa invited me to go see Martina McBride at the Tuachan in St. George. She picked me up and away we went for the almost 4 hour ride South. I was so glad she drove since all I wanted to do was relax and sleep.  Martina puts on a very nice show and was very chatty with the crowd.  She has an amazing voice and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mondays with Mr. Miles #12

It's been a little while since I've posted a 'Monday's with Mr. Miles' and when his mama sent me this picture a few weeks ago I knew I wanted to use it. Thanks Kali dear.
Miles was happily enjoying his very own first ice cream cone.  Oh the joys of being a kid!!

A grandchild is a gift from above ... one to cherish and to love."
"A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty."
"Grandparents and grandchildren are God's gift to each other."
"You Put the Grand in Grandma."
"Whenever I see you I have an uncontrollable urge to fling open my arms, excitedly shout your name and scoop you up."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Salt Lake City Half Marathon

In the parking garage at the Gateway bright and early-5:30 am
Me, Monnica, Shea
On facebook just only a few days ago this gal right next to me, Monnica Skinner, was asking if anyone wanted to run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon with her.  Her husband had to go to a Scout thing and couldn't run with her so I told her I would like to if nobody else volunteered.  She messaged me back a couple days later and said "Let's do this!"  She had another running friend that at the last minute decided to join as well.  This was to be her first half marathon. 

Friday night I went to bed semi-early about 10:30 pm and got up at 4:00 am.  Monica was picking me up at 4:30 am.  We drove to Salt Lake and parked in the Gateway and hopped right onto the trax.  This was my very first time riding them and I'll have to admit it was pretty smooth.  Even though it was early in the morning the Trax was filling up with lots of runners and bikers heading up to the East side of Salt Lake City.  We arrived nice and early at about 6:00 am.  There were many people taking photos and this cute little gal named May Chen from China couldn't hardly speak any English yet wanted pictures with Monnica and her long braid.  We thought she was so spunky and fun. 
On our way to the starting line area we met this cute couple on the Trax and got to know them really well.  It's interesting how runners can start conversations all about running and then all of a sudden you feel like they are your good friends.  Their names are Jay and Nikki and they live up North somewhere.  Nikki runs about the same pace that I do and wanted to hang out with us and we said sure thing.
About 6:30 am we did a final pit stop and then put our stuff in the drop bags and took them to gear check drop off.  We headed up to the starting line and lined up way in the back by the 2:30 pacer.  Our hopes were to be able to pass him early on.
Here are all four of us at the starting line right before the gun went off.  There was some great loud music playing to pump us up and we were excited to get started.  I was really excited for Shea since this was her first half marathon.  She is just a young mommy with two little girls.
Shea, me, Monnica, Nikki
Around mile 3 and feeling good.  The weather was a little cool and feeling so good as this point.
There were plenty of easy gradual downhills which I totally love.  I wanted to just take off and zoom while I was feeling good but knew I needed to take it easy or it would catch up to me later.  Once the sun came up it was warming up quickly.  We stopped and got water and gatorade at every station, which I was very happy that the whole group wanted to do.  Usually I just try to run while I drink and end up sloshing it all over me.  Nikki had a water backpack and ended up not stopping.  We would get behind and then go catch her.  Eventually she left us in the dust.
Around mile 8 some super kind random people on the side of the road had set up a table filled with bananas, oranges, strawberries and water.  That was such a nice surprise and we took advantage.

As we turned and headed up State Street it reminded me all too well of my 46 mile birthday adventure and I was having some flashbacks of that day and the pain. We had about 3 miles left to go and  I didn't realize how much of an uphill it was back then but I was sure feeling it today and had to take a lot of walk breaks.  I kept telling the girls to go on without me but Monnica was so sweet and insisted we were in this together right from the very beginning. When we reached the top of State Street and made a left hand turn on South Temple it was a nice flat road and the crowds were thick!  It was so fun to have people cheering and encouraging us for the last mile. 
There were policemen on motorcycles coming up in the left lane and blasting their horns for us to move to the right because the elite runners from the full marathon were coming up the road.  I just can't hardly wrap my head around the fact that people can run a full marathon faster than I can run a half.  That is just super awesome.  This guy right here was out in front and probably won the whole thing!  Good job whoever you are!!

As we came to the finish line Monnica insisted that we three girls hold hands and cross together with our arms raised.  We did it with a final time of 2:25:46.  Nikki left us around mile 7 or after and we never caught her again.  She finished about 10 minutes before us and didn't get to hold our hand.  This was my first opportunity in a year and a half of running to actually run an entire half marathon with people I knew by my side the whole entire time.  The time seemed to go faster having people to talk to and distract me from the aches I was feeling.  I do like my music though as I run to keep me pumped and so I did run with one ear bud in so I could have some background music.  I got the best of both worlds with visiting and music.  We kept playing leap frog with some little old man and every time we passed him he would call us the "Chatty Cathys".  We thought that was pretty funny.
Just posing by the Salt Lake City Half Marathon sign. I think I wasn't ready yet.  The after-race treats are always my favorite.  There was chocolate milk, Creamies, apples, bananas, drinkable yogurts, water bottles and Danon smoothies in a bottle.  We got our treats and made our way to pick up our gear bags and make a final pit stop before the ride home.  We said goodbye to our new friends, Jay and Nikki, and then walked to the car and said goodbye to Shea and her husband and two little girls. 

Once we got back to the house I had Monnica come in and I put her photos on my computer since I didn't have a camera at all on the race.  Plus, I wanted Mark to meet this cute, spunky lady that I got to spend my whole morning with. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Monnica for a fun experience and inviting me along for a great run.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fisher's Spring Break-Las Vegas Style

Spring Break happened last week and it's time to get it written down for memory sake, before my brain forgets the memories. We usually like to go somewhere that we can hike, explore and relax as well. I didn't want to spend much money and didn't want to travel anywhere very far. Since I have a super awesome cousin in Vegas who loves company and can't fill up her house all by herself we decided to go down there and help her out. It is seriously more luxurious than a 5 star hotel staying here with her.
Cooper and Jordan headed out on Saturday afternoon and got there in the Evening.  Mark and I both had church duties to attend to on Sunday and so we didn't meet up with the boys down there until Sunday evening.  Once we got to Vegas it was dinner time and so we ate dinner at a place called Steak and Shake. It was pretty good.  The boys all had big specialty hamburgers and fries and shakes.  I had a big salad (of course) but also snitched their fries and tasted their shakes.  Isn't that what mom's are supposed to do?  After dinner we came back to the house and pulled out all sorts of treats and the board games and spent time together enjoying each others company. 
 This is the bedroom and bathroom that me and Mark got to use while staying here.
My running has taken a little dive since my 46 mile adventure. On Monday morning, I attempted a run outside in the Las Vegas heat and made it all of 3 miles up and down every little street in my cousin's gated community.  I couldn't get enough water even while carrying a water bottle. I found some sprinklers to run through yet it was still too hot. (about 80 degrees)  I decided to come inside and ran a couple more miles on the treadmill. That was super boring with no t.v. to watch. 
After I showered and cleaned up Mark and I got ready to go out to Red Rock Canyon for a day of hiking, sight seeing and exploring. The boys weren't even slightly interested in going with us which made me sad so we went without them.  We packed a lunch and headed on our way. (In the heat)
A friendly little dude in the visitor's center at Red Rock Canyon. While here we got the scoop on what to see and where to go since we had about 4 hours to use.  The lady at the desk told us about a waterfall and a nice easy loop to hike to see it.  So we decided to definitely plan to see that. 
Red Rock Canyon is a 13 mile one-way loop that has many stops to get out of your car and go on trails for additional hiking.  Can you guess what I was totally thinking when I learned it was 13 miles??  What a great place this would be to run a half marathon!!  Well, when it's not 75-80 degrees.
Can you see the trail way down the hill on the right side of the picture?  I wasn't feeling ambitious enough to explore that far.  This mountain side was beautiful to look at right where we were.  I love all the colors and swirls in the rocks.
This stop on the loop was fascinating with the large boulders setting here on the ground.

It is an interesting place to visit because it was created at a time when Las Vegas was first incorporated. The purpose of this place was to quarry 10 ton blocks of sandstone. This was to become a building material.
The mine operated from 1905 to 1912 as the Excelsior Stone Quarry. The on-again, off-again operation employed as many as 15 men at one time.

The 10 ton blocks were cut so that they could be transported to Las Vegas using the 'Big Devil Wagon'. This frightful locomotive-like behemoth could haul 20 tons of cut stone on a single trip. The odd looking contraption also burned about 400 gallons of crude oil per day.

Unfortunately for the Excelsior company, the mine had to be abandoned due to the cost of using this machine. Probably also due to a lack of demand for weak sandstone
This is a picture taken close to the top of the 13 mile loop with my camera zoomed in as far as it would go.  You can see some of the big buildings of Vegas in the distance.
This picture is taken at the exact same spot with my camera at the normal range. I'm still learning and playing with my new camera I got for Christmas.  I'm not loving it yet.  (Kali dear, HELP your mother!)
After driving, sight seeing, and hopping in and out of the car we got to the the place where the lady at the visitor's center told us to hike.  I was excited to see a waterfall on this journey.  We took the Willow Springs Loop route and I was looking so forward to some cool water and a refreshing waterfall to look at and maybe cool off in.

HUH???? This little drip, drip, drip is what she called a waterfall??

I need to bring that lady back to Utah and show her a real waterfall!  We sat on this rock anyway and relaxed in the shade for a bit before heading back out into the sunshine.  (P.S. My sunburned legs were still suffering and I could feel the sun beating right through my pants on my calves. Yes, a little painful still.)
Coming out of the loop and heading back to the car. I like this kind of hiking when my muscles are still tender.
We found a picnic spot and Mark ate his lunch.  I had already eaten mine earlier since I was way too hungry from my morning run and I didn't want a hot chicken salad sandwich that was supposed to be eaten cold. Mark was safe since he had a peanut butter sandwich.
Still playing with my camera.
An interesting guide for hiking.
I never saw any tortoises on the road.  Sad day!  We saw lots of bikers and a couple joggers who I thought were a little crazy to be out running in this heat.
Good Bye Red Rock Canyon
After we got back I made some dinner and then Mark and I hid eggs all over Laurie's house.   We didn't have an opportunity at home to do any Easter activities so I brought the goodies to Vegas.  We would count the number of eggs hid in each room so Laurie wouldn't find random eggs months later in her house.  Mark and I hid those eggs pretty good and the boys did a good job finding them.  It's true there is no Easter basket filled with chocolate bunnies and other goodies but they did get a handy dandy tie hanger that they both had mentioned a couple months ago they would like.
After the egg hunt and dinner it was time for heading downtown to see the fountains at the Bellagio.  No trip to Vegas is complete without seeing the dancing waters. We walked down to the M&M store and the Coke store and found the streets way too crowded for my liking.  It was a Monday night for Pete's Sake!
I was happy to be back to the car and on the way back to Laurie's for the night after a couple hours of chaos and crowds. You definitely see all kinds of people out in this big world.  Jordan stopped at Albertson's for some more goodies and drinks and then back to the house we went.  We pulled out the games and played Phase 10 and Masterpiece.  We didn't get to bed until about 3:00 am.  We had a blast just laughing and being together.  What an extremely long yet fun-filled day.  

Tuesday morning meant sleeping in until almost noon.  We relaxed and I read a book, the Aron Ralston story. I had checked it out of the library at home.  Remember the guy who got stuck in a canyon in Utah with a boulder pinning his arm? And after six days the only way he was getting out alive was to cut off his arm?  What an incredible story.

 Later in the day we went to Mandalay Bay and saw the Shark Reef Exhibit.  It was all very fascinating.  My very favorite were the jelly fish and getting to pet a sting ray.  The sharks were also pretty cool to watch.
We came back to the house and had dinner and relaxed some more.  The boys earlier in the day had gone to Best Buy with Laurie to get some electronic equipment she wanted.  They spent about 4 hours rewiring and trying to get all of her new stuff hooked up.  It ended up not working out and they eventually put everything back to its original place.  The great thing about it all was just watching my two big boys working together so well and having a common goal.  They then packed up and headed back home to Utah at midnight, so they could sleep in their own beds and have a full day of rest before they had to go back to work the next day.  Mark and I spent the night and got up and headed home Wednesday afternoon. 

Thank you so much Laurie for letting us come down and hang out with you!  You're the best!