Monday, February 25, 2013

Retired Running Shoes

When I started this running journey a little over 2 years ago at the end of 2010 I had no idea where it would lead.  I thought I was going to train for one major half marathon and then call it quits.  I would get to say I ran a half marathon and then move on to other life goals and ambitions.  I didn't know this body of mine could run more than one half marathon in a year.  Wow! What shallow, naive thinking I had back then.  I ended up running 3 half marathons in 2011 and thought that was pushing the limit.

Then along came 2012 and I went totally NUTZO! I won't expound much more on that except to say I ran almost any race I could get my hands on.  Little did I know what would happen to me mentally.  There's this constant drive to run more and see where else I can go on this journey.

So with all that running means my shoes are going to get worn out.  This poor, sad little pair is one of the first pair I owned and trained in.  My good friend Annaleesa gave them to me to help me in my new running adventures and I have used them and abused them beyond any safe limits. 
They don't look so bad from this angle unless you look a little closer to the ankle area.   And then when you look at the tread all worn away and even getting past that layer you realize I abused these poor soles.  When I got new shoes to run in I still didn't have the heart to throw these away and turned them into my walking shoes that I did twice a week with my other good friend Laurie. 
Quite a few different pairs of shoes have been added to my shoe rotation and these poor things simply must now go.  There is no more use for them and I am saying good-bye.  I'll admit I did throw them away once and then went out to the dumpster to rescue them after a couple days.  There's just some strange connection to those first pair of "real" running shoes.  Sigh...........they really are gone now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moab 33k Sweep

Race #5 of 2013 
The Moab Red Hot 55K/33K.  How can I sum this up in a short explanation?  Well, honestly I can't.  If you've read my blog long enough you know I can get a bit talkative about my adventures and the great fun that I have, especially out on the trails.  So here goes!

I got onto Facebook on a early, Saturday morning to discover the race director for this event was asking for helpers in sweeping the course.  I was immediately interested and asked for more details.  He replied back with a few instructions of what it required to sweep a course and I knew instantly I wanted to do this.  I just had to ask my hubby, but I knew what his answer would be.  He loves to get out of town just as much as me and so this was a no-brainer.  He's such a good guy!

There would also be another sweeper working along side me because the RD likes there to be two people out there working together.  I'll admit I was a bit nervous about this because I'm not the fastest runner, and I just knew this was going to be some young, slender, fast, little gal.  Sure enough!  She was all that.  But more than that she was just as sweet and wonderful as could be.  Her name was Erin and she came all the way up from Flagstaff, Arizona.  The thing that worked so well was that we had to stay at the very tail end and couldn't pass the slowest runners out there.  Or basically we would be taking down their trail markings and then they would be lost wandering in the wilderness. 

The assignment was simple.  Be at the very end of the pack, don't pass the last runners, and clean all the plastic flagging off of the trees, bushes, rocks, dead wood etc. and deposit it at the next aid station.  I would get to enjoy the beauty of an organized trail run, complete with aid stations and other people out there running too.  To me there's nothing worse than running alone in unknown territory, or even known territory.  I much prefer to run with others.  I just plainly feel more safe.   
The race started at 8:00 a.m. for the 55K course and 8:30 a.m. for the 33K course.  Because of the way the course was marked we only had to clean the 33K course and we had to get to the first aid station and wait until all the 55K people had come through. They had a cut-off time of 12:30 p.m. and so I didn't need to start running until about 11:15 a.m. to get to the first aid station about 4 1/2 miles in.  It's a little confusing but by the time I got there, there were still 55K people coming in from a large loop they had to do.  The aid station I went to would be about mile 18 for them.  I waited and cheered in the runners and visited with the other volunteers there.  You can see here behind me the starting line and not a single soul in sight. That felt a little weird to start a run with everybody long gone for hours already into the race.  I wasn't concerned though.  Erin showed up at the starting line soon after and we started our journey.  She passed me very early and I knew I would see her hanging out at the first aid station waiting for the cut-off time too.
This is a picture of the very first hill we had to climb.  It was a bit slippery but fortunately was the worst part of the whole run and only lasted about a mile. Once we were up and over this ridge the snow and ice was all melted for pretty much the rest of the way.
Arriving at aid station #1 about 4.4 miles in and with about 15-20 minutes to spare. (Mile 18 for the 55K)  Erin was there and a few runners and the volunteers.  They quickly gave us a bright orange vest we would have to wear for the remainder of the day, and also a radio that I stashed away in my pack to use only if we had an emergency.  (Which we kind of did later on and then didn't know how in the world to use it!)  We waited until 12:30 p.m. and for the final 55K runner and then we began our journey together.  We started pulling the bright pink and black striped flagging off of everything it was tied to as we ran along.  Sometimes it came off easy and sometimes it took some more fidgeting with.  I got a few scratches and pokes along the way but nothing critical.  
I have read so many times about trail runners and the issue of "It's not IF you fall but when".  Well, I always thought to myself "Whatever.  I'm so slow and careful, that will never happen to me."  Well,  today was my turn for that to happen.  I hit a slick rock that had a little too much sand on it and down I went.  I gouged a nice piece of skin off of the palm of my hand and scraped up my knee.  I was grateful for the long pants I had on for that protection.  Now after a few days the hand is healing nicely and the bruising is going down.  Falling is no fun and I hope it never happens again, but I'm sure it will.  Shoot!

Getting to aid station #2 had so many rewarding views.  The climbs were a little challenging but it just felt so great being outside running again.  I have been cooped up indoors on the treadmill all Winter up North where I am.  I loved being South in Moab and enjoying the sunshine, blue skies, and perfect weather!! (about 50 degrees)
There were many times I had to just stop and search for the next flagging.  I'm grateful Erin had young eyes because she usually saw them before me.  I can't imagine how anyone could find their way back to civilization if they were lost wandering out here.  It was a bit comforting knowing we had something to guide us along the way.  Hmmm......there could be so many metaphors for life used with this concept.
Getting to aid station #2 was at about 8.1 miles into the course.  We were treated with delicious foods and treats and friendly volunteers.  There were also a few runners straggling about and when they saw us they knew there was no more dawdling.  They knew we were the final people and that they better get a move on if they didn't want us running on their heels.  It was actually kind of funny when we would come upon some people.  They emphatically let us know they didn't like us being so close by. "Nooooo.......stay back!" one woman in particular would say each time she saw us.  We would try to maintain some distance and would run back down the trail, or run side to side on the trail to keep a distance.  Erin was a super strong runner and would even disappear for a long time in the opposite direction so that she could get a lot of miles in for the day.  I tried that too for awhile but didn't quite have her stamina and strength.  When we got to the top of the mountain near aid station #2 we took a few photos to let the runners gain some ground before we started in on them again.  This is looking down on highway 191 that leads right into Moab to the South.
I like to maintain some distance from ledges.  That's a scary place to be.  It was cool to look down and see where we had come from though.
This is my cute little partner, Erin.  We chatted about families, running, interests, and life in general.  I loved that she was just so peaceful to be around.  There was a certain point in our run when we came upon somebody REALLY, REALLY sick.  He was just sitting down drinking a red bull and trying to get some energy.  Erin just kept her cool, and I tried to maintain some distance so I didn't get splashed on.  I was really grossed out though and had to keep from being vocal.  The poor guy was just wasted and should have ended his journey at aid station #3.  We really thought he would when we got there but he loaded up on food and drink and continued on.  He was determined to finish this.   We were starting to get a little irritated because he was slowing up our assignment drastically.  Up to this point we had seen other runners and even got to run with them and visit and laugh and have a good time as we pulled the flagging off.  But this poor guy was clearly not going anywhere fast by any means.  We saw no other runners for the remainder of the course. (about 5 miles) They were long gone as we waited for this guy to try and feel better, but it just never happened. I kept asking him if he needed anything.  I had plenty of fuel in my bag and pretzels but he kept telling me no.
The sun was heading down in the Western sky and I was starting to get a little bit nervous about getting to the finish line before dark.  Aid station #3 was mile 15 and we still had 5 miles to go.  I just didn't see how this guy was going to go 5 more miles in his condition.  We had to keep encouraging him to pick up the speed and that we weren't going to make it before dark.  He didn't act concerned and kept saying, "I'm glad there's not a closing course time"  Well, we finally had to tell him there was and that we didn't have lights and we needed to hurry.  This race was supposed to be over at 6:00 p.m.
You can see the sun in my glasses is on the horizon and once it goes down I knew we only had a little over a half hour until we were in the dark.  The RD told us that if we get near the end and there are stragglers then we could just pass them and finish.  So Erin and I felt like we needed to just continue without this guy.  He was only walking now and showed no interest in running at all.  We told him goodbye and he said "Please don't send any jeeps up here after me, I want to finish". We had to give him credit for his determination.  So we left and continued taking flagging down.  There were a few times I felt a little nervous leaving him out there to find his way and so Erin was so good to run back to find him and he would just be sitting down on a rock resting!! What??? Didn't he realize the predicament he was putting us and him in??  Gahhh!!! By now we were so frustrated.  She made him come with her and caught back up to where I was waiting and we continued trying to hurry him along.  Finally with about 2 miles left we knew he would be ok and that we were nearing the end.  It was at this point that I pulled out the radio they had supplied us with at aid station #1 and I tried to use it to get some advice or help with what to do with this guy.  I talked and talked into that thing but got no response.  I doubt I was even using it correctly. What a lot of good that did to haul all over a mountain for 22 miles and not even know how to use it huh?  We were just so nervous about leaving him alone and being in the dark with no lights.  He kept insisting that he would be alright and that we could go on.  He said he had done 5 ultras and that this one was by far the hardest.   He still insisted on finishing and not getting any help, so on we went.

We could look way down from a high mesa we were on and see the finish line area and even a couple of people were coming up the trail.  The sun was completely down and it was definitely dusky outside.  We crossed the finish line area about 6:10 p.m. and when I looked up the results on the webpage I learned that the guy we left behind finished around 6:25 p.m. I was pretty worn out and didn't wait to see him come through.  There were plenty of people at the finish line to do that.  I'm just grateful he made it down off that mountain.
This was taken around mile 16 with 4 miles left to go and less than an hour before the sun would be gone!

So, you may ask, did I love this assignment of sweeping the course?  Most definitely!  I would do this in a heartbeat again.  I felt bad for that poor sick runner, but clearly, he should have called it quits at the last aid station.  It was just an odd predicament he put us in trying to make a decision of getting off the mountain before dark and leaving him alone, or staying with him and being completely in the dark and possibly getting lost ourselves.  It all worked out in the end and I had a superb time regardless.  

Because I did this assignment of sweeping the course the RD is now giving me a free race of my choice.  He has a few different events throughout the year but this Red Hot Run is looking the most appealing right now.  You just may see me back here again in 2014 running the full 55K!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moab Red Hot 55K/33K Sweeping Assignment

I had a blast this weekend and had the awesome opportunity to sweep the Red Hot 33K portion of the trail.  I will give a full write up about my adventure when my other computer that I load all of my pictures in gets fixed. It's having issues now and so for now enjoy this one photo from my phone that shows a little of the back country I got to enjoy.  Check out the bright orange vest I got to rock out in!  Also my nice full bag of flagging tape I was carrying.  Good times for sure!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cooper's Birthday

Between this nasty weather and a sore throat and a cough I am pretty worn out with Utah's winters.  As I sit here typing right now I am looking out the window watching the snow continue to fall and according to the weather man it's not letting up for awhile either.  I'm really not much of a complainer.  I consider myself a pretty positive, optimistic type person.  So instead of carrying on about how much I wanted to run an outside 10K race today but didn't get to I'll talk about something more on a personal and happy level and that's my cute boy Cooper.

Cooper is my eldest son and just celebrated his 25th birthday.  Cooper's a sweetheart.  He takes charge and is responsible when we aren't home.  You just know things will be alright at home when he's here.  I enjoy having my boys around still even though they are grown adults and could be out on their own.  The house would just be too quiet if they moved away.  I know the day is coming when that will happen but for now I'm holding on as long as I can.

Cooper wanted to go to a place called DP Cheesesteaks for dinner. I had never been before but the other family members had and guaranteed I would like it. I'll admit it was pretty delicious.

Little Miles made "Uncle Coo-Ker" a card with all kinds of scribbles on it that were pictures he had drawn.  Kali labeled everything so we would know what it was.  Pretty cute. 
Little Miss Harper is always the center of attention.  She's such a little princess.
"Uncle Jo-Jo" was doing a little bonding or flirting with the little princess. 
After dinner we came back to the house for a little cake and ice cream.  Cooper's GF Brittany made a red velvet cake with pudding, cool whip, and crushed oreos!  Wow what a nice treat!
Happy Birthday Cooper Dear!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

UVU Charity Run

Race #4 of 2013
Oh what a fun race!
The UVU charity 5K.
Which turned out to be a 10K for me and Josh.
I've mentioned before that I wanted to experience unique and different races this year.
This one certainly falls under that category.
Never in a million years would I have signed up for this on my own.
A 5K?  That just seems like a waste of time and money. 
But when Josh said he and Jill and Mark Gabica were coming down to Utah Valley to run it I jumped on board.   I had met Mark and Jill last year at the Pink Donut Half Marathon where they helped volunteer and hand out the most delicious treats at our turn around spot.
This charity run was a pretty inexpensive run and we would get pancakes and a t-shirt.
Not only that but it would be indoor and warm with no dirty air inversions, no bus rides, no portopotties. 
It was to be a positive experience all around.
I got down to UVU about an hour early because Josh and I decided ahead of time that running a 5K on a Saturday morning just wasn't going to cut it for mileage for the day. We got checked in and got our bibs and t-shirts and a map of the course. When the lady showed me the map I was a little confused.  The red line and arrows showing where to go just seemed like a very short run.  I kept asking her if she was sure that was 3.1 miles?  Could the halls of a campus really be that far?  Finally we both read the small print and discovered we would need to run this a total of 4 times.  Ah Ha! That made much more sense.
There weren't a lot of people here yet and I was itching to get some running in before it started..... So away me and Josh went with about a half hour before the race was to start. Up and down and turn around and round and round we went, following the pink signs and arrows as we ran.
The morning fog was pretty bad, along with the nasty air inversion and I was just grateful to be inside running.  I've been enjoying my treadmill quite a bit this winter but this was just a lot of fun to actually be moving somewhere and be indoors still.

This is the famous Hall of Flags at UVU.  I don't know a lot about it but my son Cooper said it's a pretty awkward place for girls to walk during school because guys sit here and watch them.
Jill snapped this photo of me and Josh running.  I'm still waiting for Josh to draw up the adoption papers and then he'll officially be one of my kids.  He calls me Mama Duck and says I need to get yellow shoes to match my name.  I'm not sure if he calls me that because I run like a duck?  Or waddle like a duck? I can quack like a duck most surely.
We were able to get in 3 laps and then headed back to the starting area for the "official" start time.  We would need to do 5 more laps to have a complete 10K.  No problem! 
We did our loops and basically had a blast of a day. I have no official time because we just did it weird doing 3 laps then 5 rather than 4 and 4.  Anyway, I think I came up with a time of 1:08:15 as a pretty close guess for our unofficial 10K.
I saw some friends from my ward running and waved multiple times as we would pass in the halls.
I saw people pushing strollers.
I saw kids, and families.
I saw Lindsay Farnworth as one of the volunteers for UVU and she would cheer us on as we went by her intersection.  She snapped a few photos of us trying to jump.  Hmmm.....wondering how those turned out.  We were struggling jumping in sync.  It was kind of hilarious actually.
Everyone just seemed to be having a great time though. 
When we got back to the finish line area they were serving pancakes, oatmeal, orange juice, and nutella.  I'm not a big pancake lover unless they are healthy with oats or whole wheat in them so I passed on those.  The oatmeal was delish though. A glob of nutella hit the sweet tooth nicely.

T-shirts are pretty cute.
Some races are just an automatic do again for the next year.  This would be one of them.  I would even want to go a little earlier and get in a few more laps.  I could have run here all day it was just that delightful for me.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just Call Me Red Hot 33K Course Sweeper

This morning I woke up dreaming that I had won an entry into the Dogtown Half Marathon.

The Utah Running Guide is an awesome Facebook page that highlights so many different running events all over Utah and they give entry's away all the time to many races.

They currently have two entry's they are giving away to run down by St. George, in Dogtown, (Washington City) and I want to head South so bad to enjoy some warm running temperatures. 

When I woke up I headed straight to the computer to see if my dream was a reality.  My dream was quickly forgotten when I saw this instead:

GrassRoots Events
Looking for a sweeper for the Red Hot 33k course Feb. 16th. Course sweep will start at 12:30pm (55k cut-off time) and will start their sweep 4mi from the start. If you can help with sweep you will have a comp into your race of choice: Red Hot 2014, MAS50 (sept 14th) or Amasa (April 13th)

I immediately responded back asking for more details and expressing that I was VERY interested. I got a reply back right away from the GrassRoots Events people. He asked for my phone number and immediately called me with everything I needed to know to perform this task. 
There was absolutely no hesitation on my part in accepting this responsibility!  I welcomed it whole-heartedly!  He told me there was one other woman interested from Arizona and that there would be two of us out there together sharing the job.  These photos are all google images taken from the Moab 55K/33K course and I cannot wait to get out there and be amongst the beauty!!
So what precisely does a sweeper do?  We get to be at the very end of the line.  We get to run the entire course and pick up all the pink flagging that guides runner's along the course so they don't get lost.  We will hand off rosters of the runner's from one aid station to the next.  We will still get to enjoy all the benefits and goodies of the aid stations because they clean up after we leave.  (I hope there's still treats leftover for us) We get to enjoy the beautiful scenery and cool weather, and not be worried about meeting any time restrictions.  He told us we have basically about 6 hours (longer if needed) to run 20 miles (33k) while cleaning up the course. That's definitely do-able. 
He also said under no circumstances are we to pass any runners.  We definitely are there to make sure we don't leave anyone behind as well, and we don't want to take down their trail markings too early. That would just be sad to leave someone wandering lost out there.
The exciting thing to me is I wanted to try this race so bad and had already been looking at their website and researching it beforehand. But, once again the big chicken in me didn't dare sign up because I don't like being alone out on an unknown course.  Even though there are always people out there running, for some reason I just think I'm going to be left in the dust and the bears are going to eat me.  Crazy thinking I know. 
This will now be a perfect opportunity to get to enjoy an awesome trail run in beautiful Moab.  The best part??? It's FREE!!! It's like they are paying me to sweep the course for them with a free run.  It's a win/win situation. On top of that I get to pick any of their races and have another free entry!!  Two trail run races for free!! Wahoo!! Can you tell I like FREE??
This run will be a perfect opportunity to get some trail miles under my feet before the big 24 hour trail run in March.  Yeah, I'm pretty stoked!
Oh and about my dream and Dogtown?  Giveaway is happening tonight.  I'm still not giving up hope yet for that one.