Thursday, January 31, 2013

24 Hour Solo Endurance Run

Ahhhh!!! I'm freaking out just a little bit.
I'm dipping my toes into new water. Shoot, maybe I'm jumping in with both feet!
I knew 2013 was the year I wanted to explore some new distances and new territory with my running. 
I have already been signing up for half marathons that get me an early bird registration price. I've got to take advantage of that for sure. 
I've also been asked to pace the Salt Lake City Half Marathon which will be a new experience as well.  You know those people in the brightly colored shirts holding a little sign as they run?  Yeah, I get to do that on April 20th.  Want to run with the 2:30 group?  Then come find me and join me for a run through the streets of good old Salt Lake City. It should be a fun time!

But now the REAL reason I'm freaking out. 
I just signed up for a race distance I've never done before. 
I'm going beyond my furthest distance of 46 miles that I did last year for my 46th birthday.

I just signed up for the Moab 24 hour solo run in March. 

I will be attempting to run/walk for 24 hours straight.
That means start at 6:00 am one day and end the next day at 6:00 am.
So exactly how many miles will that be?? I have no idea.  If I can average a 15 minute pace then that would get me 96 miles.  I have no idea what to expect though being out on the trails.  I know how fast I can travel on regular roads.  Trails are definitely slower for me.  I just like the concept though that I don't have to cover a certain amount of mileage to complete the race.
I only need to try and stay on my feet for 24 hours.
It should be a fun adventure.
I hope it is.
I hope I don't get bored.
I hope I can stay awake.
What does a person do for that many hours to stay entertained? 

I've wanted to do this race for a few months and gave up all hope because I am just a big chicken to do this kind of stuff alone.  When I discovered another runner friend was going to attempt it (She made the attempt last year too) I soon started chatting with her about it and decided if there was going to be another familiar face out there then I could be brave and go for it.  Both of our worries comes from being out there all night in the dark alone and so we will try to stay together for company and safety purposes during the dark hours.
This course is a 5.61 mile loop that you just do over and over and over again and so there should be no concern about wandering lost in the mountains somewhere.  At least I'm hoping the trail will be marked well and if we get lost then at least we'll be lost together.  

I'm excited!  I'm nervous!  I'm crazy! 
I'm thrilled that I finally had the nerve to push the registration button, just like Cory Reese said to do.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Trail Running in Zion's and A Couple of Lessons Learned

After the St. George Half Marathon was over we headed back to the motel for a little R&R but mostly for me that meant taking a sponge bath, and getting a little refreshed so I wouldn't stink too bad for another run. Cory Reese who is the master trail runner dude, spearheaded a group run in Zion's.  Part of the Zion 100 course he will be running this Spring is called Eagle Crag and he wanted to take some friends out there and show us around his territory.
If you look really carefully at the mountains in the distance, the sharp, jagged rocks on the left of this trail-head sign is the base of the area we ran to.  It ended up being about 6 miles round trip.  Sometimes we were running in nice red soft sand, and the weather felt so clean and cool. It was  absolutely perfect temps in the 50's.
And sometimes we were powerclimbing up big hills in snow and trying not to fall down. 
When we reached somewhat of a turnaround spot we were rewarded with amazing views.  Actually the views and scenery were stunning everywhere we looked along the way.
All of these fine friends of Cory's were amazing runners and I felt a little like a dead piece of wood lying by the side of the trail.  Yup........I was a little challenged on this run.  The people's names in this photo are:   Angel, Melanie, Susette, Nate, and Cory
I got a new camera for Christmas and Cory showed me the cool feature of setting the timer. Fun stuff!
A lot of times when I run I like to spread my hands out and let them run through the brush and foliage.  I love the feel of nature running through my fingers.  Yes, that may be weird but it is what it is.  However,  today was not such a good idea to be doing that.  You see, Zion's is more of a deserty type of place to run and as I was enjoying the shrubbery through my fingertips along came a nice prickly bush that felt like the shot you get in your finger when you give blood.  Yikes!  No more playing with nature for me.
Coming back down the trail I was a little bit slower than the group and wanted to make sure of my footing in the snowy areas so I took my time.  Plus how can you not slow down and enjoy the beauty?  This run was a totally different experience than the half marathon this morning where my brain was just so engaged in running fast and hard and I wanted to just slow down and soak this all in. 
At one point the gang got way far ahead of me and all of a sudden a cactus bush jumped right out onto the trail and I kicked it with my left foot.  YOWSA!!  A big long spiky thing was sticking out of the top of my shoe so I bent over and pulled it out and felt a sharp twang in my toe.  I continued running for another couple of minutes thinking that sharp pain would ease but it never did.  In fact it felt like it was getting worse.  So I pulled over and took off my shoe and sock.  Sure enough, there was still of piece of cactus stuck in my toe and I slooooowwwwly pulled the rest of it out while the blood dripped a little bit. 
I put my shoe and sock back on and headed on my merry way feeling better now.  I tried to catch up to everyone else but realized that wasn't happening soon.  I knew I had less than a mile to go so I just once again enjoyed my surroundings and kept my hands and feet out of mother nature.
When I got back to the trailhead I realized on my garmin watch that the numbers weren't rounded up to the nearest quarter mile.  So, me and my silly self said I was heading off down the road to do a little more running and to pick me up in just a few minutes.  I knew the gang needed to get loaded and the road was very rutted and Cory would be driving slowly. (At least he did getting up the mountain) So I headed down the dirt road, once again loving downhill running that I enjoy so much.  I was able to get in another .75 miles before they pulled up and picked me up, for a total of 6.75 on this run.  Add that in to the half marathon this morning with an additional one mile warm up and my grand total for the day came to 20.75.  It was a great day of running!
~~~Lessons Learned~~~
*Don't run your hands through the foilage on a desert run. 
*Don't kick a cactus!
*Make any run a fabulous adventure and it will always leave lasting, happy memories!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

St. George Half Marathon-January 19th

Race #3 of 2013
I've been looking forward to this race because:

*It's in a warmer part of Utah than where I live and I was so ready for a little vacation with the hubby and son, and to just get out of the filthy air and freezing cold temperatures.

*I ran it last year in the rain but still had a great time.  The weather forcast for St. George was to be mid 50's this year.  That would feel like a heat wave in comparison.

*One of my goals for 2013 is to beat my race times from the same races I ran in 2012 by a least a minute, and I was feeling ready and anxious to see how I would do.  The St. George Half Marathon was the first race of 2013 that was a duplicate of 2012.
We got to St. George Friday evening with about 10 minutes to spare to pick up my race packet and shirt and walk through the expo.  Saturday morning I got up in plenty of time to get to the starting line early.  I wanted to be sure to warm up and be ready.  Last year it was a mad dash with being stuck in traffic and then running to the starting line from down the road with barely a few seconds for a potty stop.  This year Mark brought me over and we waited in the nice warm car and then when I had about a half hour left I got out of the car and said good-bye to him.  He would come back later to see me run in.  I told him since I ran it in 2:22 last year to plan on me hopefully coming in at 2:20.

*Spoiler alert* He missed me coming in because I was sooooo off on my guess. I ran like a mad woman and beat my last year's time by 10 minutes by running in at 2:12.
Even though the temps were supposed to get into the mid 50's it was still a little bit chilly at 9:00 am.  A lot of people were wearing hats, gloves, long sleeves, etc. I wore a light jacket and was grateful for it.  I never took it off the entire race. The clean air and sunshine were such a great boost though and made me a happy girl.
The National Anthem was played over a loudspeaker and then a helicopter flew overhead and then away we went. Isn't that clear blue sky absolutely amazing?  I'm pretty sure you wouldn't even be able to see the sky back home, due to the inversion.
I have no breakdown of how the mileage went or a play-by-play of the 13.1 miles.  I just tried to maintain a speed that felt like a push that was slightly out of my comfort zone. If I ever felt like I started slowing down I would keep telling myself to push harder.  It was a constant mind game the whole entire race.  This half marathon had a number of hills to climb and I knew if I looked at those hills as I was running I would get discouraged and slow down and walk.  However, this time I was wearing a visor and decided I didn't want to see the hill and so I kept my head down and watched the ground and climbed those hills not knowing how long it was going to last or how steep it was.  When I would get to the crest and then either get to level out or go downhill then I smiled and felt like I really conquered.  Hills are definitely not my forte. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 I was done listening to the chatter going on around me and put in my music.  That is most definitely a pick-me-up and helps me run faster. 
I only stopped one time in the race and that was to take pictures of this beautiful lake and the cute ducks chilling out on the banks.
Around mile 5 I ate a gu that was being handed out and then another one around mile 7.5.  I've determined that 2 gu's in a race was perfect for me, especially since they both had caffeine in them. I also wore my water belt for the race and so I didn't have to stop at aid stations for liquids.  That helped shave some time off. 
Running along the Virgin River and being able to see all of St. George laid out ahead of me was a sweet sight.  Getting closer to the finish line there was a lot of dirt to run on instead of the paved path.  I seemed to be the only person taking advantage of the softer landing in dirt.  People probably wondered what I was doing "out of bounds" but I'm a trail running girl at heart and like to take advantage whenever I can.

As I rounded a big semi-circle corner and went under the overpass I started keeping my eyes open for Mark and Cooper on the sidelines.  I got all the way to the finish line and got my medal and timing chip clipped off of my shoe.  I got some delightful refreshments and still couldn't find them.  I decided to head up the sidelines again and see if they were there yet.  Sure enough I found them and stood right by them and pretended to be watching the race too.  They didn't even realize I was standing right next to them for a little while.  It made me laugh.  I threw them off guard by being on the other side of the fence.  
I shared my news of my new PR for this race and how much fun I had.  I also apologized for being so off with my guess of when I would be there.  It wasn't their fault they missed me.  At least they were here now.
My final time was 2:12:53 and I was super happy!
I still couldn't get over what a beautiful day and gorgeous weather it was.  I have such a great hubby who is so supportive of my running adventures.  He likes the little vacation get-aways too.  This running day was not quite over yet.  Cory Reese organzied a trail run with some other running peeps in Zion's and of course I didn't want to miss out on that opportunity. 

Next post I will share the second half of my running adventures out in Zion's and a few lessons learned.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No Frozen Toes/Snowshoeing at Soldier Hollow

Last Saturday, January 12th, was a free half marathon in Salt Lake City called the Frozen Toes. It was to benefit the hungry with donations of food. The plan was to show up at Liberty Park with canned goods which would be taken to the local food bank and then run the course laid out and then meet up with everyone for breakfast at a local restaurant. It sounded like a fun plan but Mother Nature had different plans for me that morning.

My goal this year is to run a few more races than last year and so this was going to be a great opportunity to add another one to the line up. The problem came when a major storm arrived a few days prior to the race and decided not to leave. I watched the local news on Friday night and with over 53 accidents that day in Salt Lake County and seeing people sliding all over the roads and getting stuck I decided I better play it safe and stay home. I was sooooo disappointed, to put it mildly.

I still wanted to run my own personal half marathon so I hopped on the treadmill and put in the time and miles there while watching lots of episodes of "Boy Meets World". My kids got me watching this silly show because apparently a newer one is in the making right now and will be coming out later in the year with Cory and Topanga as a married couple with a 13 year old daughter. Should be a cute show.

So, now moving a little further ahead into my Saturday, I saw a website offering free snowshoeing at Soldier Hollow up in Midway, Utah and was super interested in trying it out. I have been curious about snowshoeing for a little while now and almost signed up for a big race at the end of January. I didn't want to go into this race with not ever having tried snowshoeing first so when this opportunity came up to try it for free I decided now was the time to take advantage.

The day was beautiful, a little chilly, but I had a pleasant time tromping around in the snow out on the groomed trails.  I was all alone but saw so many other people doing some cross country skiing.  That was being offered for free for first-timers as well.  So the hills were loaded with lots of newbies. 
But now the truth be told.  I didn't love snowshoeing.  In fact I thought it was challenging and a little annoying.  I was frustrated that it took me longer to snowshoe than it did to just walk.  I felt like I had something stuck between my knees and could never get comfortable with my stride.  I traveled 3 miles and it took me an hour and 15 minutes. I even tried to run on the snowshoes but that wasn't going well at all.   I knew my decision about the big race later this month was not going to be hard to make.  Snowshoeing is definitely not the sport for me.  Give me a pair of skis and some goggles and I'll be happy. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy Harper/Blessed Harper

This is Harper, my beautiful grandaughter. She was born about two and a half months ago and I am completely smitten with her smile, her sweetness, her gentle cooing sounds, and her tender, delicate way. She is such a little princess and is the most perfect little baby girl. She doesn't cry very much and when she does it's just one or two waaa's and then she's happy and content with the pacifier. Or if you pick her up and hold her and talk to her then she's as happy as a lark. I could hold her and love on her all day.Last Sunday, January 6th, 2013 was a special day. She was blessed at church by her daddy. He did a nice job in asking Heavenly Father to bless this beautiful little daughter with many precious blessings.

After church we went to Kali and Wade's home for a nice lunch and visiting with friends and family.  Kali made a darling dessert bar with white treats and a cute banner for little Harper's room.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The New Year's Half Marathon-January 5th

Race #2 of 2013
Here it is January and the month I was thinking would be hard to get in some fun races because of the frigid temperatures in Utah this time of year, but that is not the case. I saw a local race being advertised called the New Year's Half Marathon, put on by a local guy named Jonathon Crampton. I remember almost signing up and running it last year but chickened out because of the cold weather. This year I signed up way ahead before I could see what the weather was going to be like. If I pay for a race then by golly, come rain, sleet, snow, or shine I am going to be there.  I would just have to bundle up tight and brave the elements.  My friend Josh signed up as well and we decided we would just stick together and not worry about speed.  Besides, we had just run a big race at the Olympic Oval only 4 days previously and so this was to be a more relaxed adventure today.  The race started at 8:00 am but Jonathon told us that anyone that felt slower could start earlier.  I knew I would be at the back of the pack so I got out to the race start about 7:15 am and headed out about 7:30 am. 
This picture was taken inside my car at about 7:10 am after I parked my car at the race start.  Notice the temperature??? Yeah, I was pretty nervous.  I had bundled up well though and even had my trusty face mask.  I warned Jonathon that I was going to look like a bank robber and he said he would tell his neighbor who is a cop to not arrest me.  Oh gee!  Thanks!
Ever see a smiling bank robber before?  There's a first for everything.
I know it looks pretty ridiculous but let me tell you my face was toasty warm!!! See that white piece of paper I'm holding in my left hand?  It's a pretty handy dandy map that Jonathon made for us runners so we wouldn't get lost.  The course was marked really well though and I didn't even need to use it but it gave me comfort just in case I got lost.
My friend Gay Tregaskis from Runner's Anonymous decided to join me and Josh and stick with us slower people.  She is such a sweet lady and I feel pretty lucky to know her.  Here we are showing off our cute little snowmen medals we earned for running 13.1 miles in the bitter and frostbitten world. Somehow, running with friends seems to make the time go faster.  As we got to about mile 11-12 we got to run right by the Timpanogos Temple and it was beautiful and then we realized we were almost finished and I actually felt a little sad.  She mentioned that she couldn't believe it was almost over.  That's how running should be, having such a good time that you've lost track of the time.
My other cute friend Monnica ran as well but I've mentioned multiple times she is a little speedy girl and I can't keep up with her.  She and her husband Cory ran together this morning and did really well.  It was fun to chat and visit with them as we ate our delicious post-race food.
This is my friend Josh who quite possibly would have lost his fingers and toes if Gay hadn't of come to the rescue with some extra hand warmers she had.  It was so cold that the water bottle I had brought and put in my pocket had turned into a nice thick slushy by the time I was almost done running! Maybe I should have wrapped hand warmers around it.
Get ready for lots of photos this year at races with Josh.  He's just as crazy as me in signing up and we will be doing quite a few of the same races. I think there's some underlying competition going on to see who can run the most races in a year.
This cute gal is Chelsea Mckell and I was excited to finally meet her.  She is all over Facebook with The Utah Running Guide.  They advertise for a lot of races and give away free entry's. I haven't won any yet but a lot of my runner friends have.  I'll just have to keep saying my prayers and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that my name will come up someday.  
This is Jonathon Crampton who puts on one nice race and meal spread afterwards.  Part of the website advertising the race reads as follows:

The tradition continues on the first Saturday of January 2013....pots of steaming hot chili, french bread, yoghurt, bananas, chocolate milk , a runners' FEAST ....AFTER you complete 13.1 miles in a winter wonderland running adventure though Pleasant Grove, Cedar Hills and Alpine back to my home in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
If you have been here either of the first two years you know this is the best value for money half marathon out there. A small race with 60-70 runners and walkers braving whatever weather January may throw at us as we continue our winter training and racing.
Where: a 13.1 mile counterclockwise loop course starting and finishing at my home in Pleasant Grove. 

I'm a sucker for delicious food and I was anxious to continue strong with finding some races for January.  This race is literally in my neck of the woods so how could I NOT sign up?  

Jonathon's counters were overflowing with food even after everybody had eaten.  I can't even imagine the hours of work in preparing and cooking all this food.  I got to meet his cute wife Kori who actually was my son's high school Mythology teacher. My daughter Kali, was a teacher's aid for her.  It was fun to visit with her.  I learned that she had just barely gotten her gall bladder out over Christmas break and was up and about doing this stuff.  That is way too nice of her to allow 100 stinky, sweaty, frostbitten, crazy runners into her home after what she just recently went through. She's a strong woman and I hope she gets lots of pampering after all of this.
Yeah, Josh was trying to photo bomb my picture.  Nice work Josh.

Baked potato topped with chili and cheese, lasagna, yogurt, chocolate milk, and a pumpkin cookie!! (I downed the chocolate mile before I could get a picture of it)  Where else are you going to find food like this after a half marathon?? I'll tell you where, NOWHERE! This was all so delicious and hit the spot so nicely after freezing out there.  I say freezing but with all my layers and face mask I had on I wasn't doing too bad.  It was only if we ever stopped (which we did multiple times) that the cold would start to creep in.  We just had to keep moving. 
This cute little plump snowman was out in the front yard of Jonathon's home for us crazy runner people to have a photo opportunity with.  Yeah, I think I felt like a snowman out there on the course today.  All in all this was a great race, even if it was zero degrees in the beginning.  I think it may have warmed up to 11 degrees by the time we finished three hours and eleven minutes later.  Yes, that's a terrible time but who's counting?  Oh, I do.