Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Moab 24 Hour Run

Race #7 of 2013

I could either be extremely depressed about my experience this past weekend at failing to go 24 hours or I could be extremely happy that I have another 50K under my belt.

There is an apprehension to sharing about this race because I feel like I failed miserably.  
After a roller coaster of emotions and having the weekend to process it I am now going to try and put it all down here so I can remember the good and the bad and hopefully learn from it.

I felt like I had prepped so hard for this adventure with long 3 and 4 hour runs on Saturdays and easily 1-2 hour runs everyday of the week.  I was putting in easily 50 miles a week.  Major problem was they were ALL on the treadmill.  I should have been out training in the winter cold.

Looking back now I know that wasn't enough miles.  I needed to get out there for many more hours if this body of mine was going to be able to handle a longer adventure. If I'm to attempt this again I really need to find a good training plan. 
I didn't do any nighttime runs which caused me to panic come race day when it started turning to evening. I bought a really good headlamp but didn't have the opportunity to try it out because I was just worn out. After 10 hours on the trail, I quit before it turned dark.  I was so excited to listen to a book on my ipod even while traipsing around in the dark.  Pretty sad that didn't happen though.

I felt like there were 4 strikes against me even before starting the race.  Wind, cold, little sleep and one more I won't mention.  It just wasn't my day.

The morning we were getting ready to head out of town this was about half of the load I had been rounding up and getting ready for hubby to pack.  
The view out my front window the morning we headed to Moab.  If this was any indication of what we were in for I wasn't going to be a happy camper.

Friday morning me and the hubby got all packed and ready to go.  At the last minute hubby decided we needed to take our son's vehicle since our car wouldn't have been a good choice with all the gear we were taking.  So he spent some time getting burned out headlights replaced and brake lights changed.  Checking the oil and other fluids was necessary too. 
Driving South to Moab and away from the Northern Utah bad weather had me a little hopeful that we would be ok.  But watching the wind blow as we got further South made me extremely nervous.  We could see the dirt clouds and major winds blowing everything in sight.

We arrived at the camp spot and just sat in the rodeo hoping the winds would die down.  We watched other people trying to set up and give up because the winds were so extreme.  We finally braved the winds and got out and did it.  Gale force winds I tell ya!

Once it was all set up and the rodeo was unloaded I was so hungry and ready to head into town about 15 miles away for some food and shelter and warmth.  The wind had already blasted me so bad and I was freezing.
This was part of the RD's camp spot and they had postponed setting up as well due to the high winds.  They had attempted it once but put one of their tents back down.
I felt so bad for the one and only person I knew at this race, Rebecca.  You can read about her Moab 24 experience.  This was her tent after she worked so hard getting it pitched.  The wind was just relentless! 
We went to a place called ZAC's for a yummy pizza buffet with soup and salad too.  It was warming and delicious and I didn't want to head back out to the lonely, dreary camp spot to freeze again.  But we did.  We got our teeth brushed and faces washed and put on three layers of jammies and hunkered down in tight in our sleeping bags for a restless night's sleep.  The wind flapped that tent all night long and sleep was not my friend this night. 
My alarm went off at 5:30 am and I turned it off and reset it to wake me up at 6:00 am.  I think that last half hour was my best sleep all night. Getting out of my warm sleeping bag was pure torture though. I had to muster up all the strength in every fiber of my being to do so.  I went over to the RD tent to get my shirt and packet and my whole body chattered from head to toe.  There was a pre-race meeting at 6:45 am mandatory for all races.  I got myself there but was in no way shape or form ready to start running at 7:00 am.  I watched all the runners lined up ready to go and promptly at 7:02 am they headed off.
I stood there watching, not even believing where my brain was.  I was not starting this race with any of them.  I headed back to the rodeo and climbed in to warm up.  I had a little melt down and wondered what on earth I was doing here??  What was I about to do??  And why was I even here??  This was not like me at all and I was mentally not ready for this race.  My dear hubby came out of the tent and climbed in the rodeo and sat there and talked to me.  He was helpful in getting my mind ready.  He told me to just get out there and get a feel for the course and get one loop done.  I got out and ate a bagel and cream cheese, used the port-a-potty and gathered my stuff.  The sun had finally come up and I was ready to head out on the trail.   Here I am heading off to that beautiful canyon on the left and coming out of the canyon on the right for a total of 5.37 miles every loop.  By the time I started around 8:10 am there were quite a few people already completing their first loop.
The scenery was beautiful!  The course was a little hillier than I expected but I completed my first loop and came in feeling good and happy.  I fueled up a little more and went over to the tent and truck and climbed back in to warm up again.  After about ten minutes I headed out again for loop #2.  I was feeling better but never got in a mind set of going fast. It was obvious to me that this was going to be a casual day for me. 
This is the view of the campsites and check in point after each loop. 
This was after completing 2 loops and downgrading my coat from the thick heavy one to a lighter one.  I was nervous though because it was still so cold.  I never ever did take that headband/ear warmer off the entire day.  Gloves were a necessity most of the day as well. 
I love this picture because it shows the top part of the loop and looking to the right top of the photo shows where one of the canyon entrances is.  With the loop being 5.37 miles, this was probably getting close to the halfway point once we reached the top of this climb behind me.
 Yes, there were times I actually was feeling good and happy, and for that I was grateful.
 There may have been times I was craving M&M's out here on the course.  Peanut M&M's at the aid station was nice to have.
I will say though that snacking on a few Cadbury chocolate eggs and rocking out to the Carpenters on the ipod may have been one of my more positive times in the day.   Running in the deep sand there below is not so fun.   I loved running in my new Hoka One Ones though.  I never had any problems with my feet throughout the 32 miles.  It was just my tired, achy body that decided enough was enough.
Even though this was a loop course we were to switch directions each time around.  I loved this concept because then you never knew how far along people were and you always crossed paths with runners.  Most everyone was so friendly and would always throw up a hand or say hi or smile.  Positive energy flowing everywhere.  I loved that.

This is Rebecca, the only person I knew out here and oftentimes we would come in around the same time but just in opposite directions. (Remember I started over an hour later than everyone else)  As the day was getting later and we once again were finishing opposite loops I realized I may not get a picture of her before the sun went down.  You can see we are still bundled up and still cold!
After my 5th loop (mile 26.85) I came into the tent.  Mark had gone into town to check into a motel for the night.  This is when I really started to feel alone.  I sat there and looked around at my surroundings.  My bed was there so neat in case I needed a nap.  Mark had cleaned up the tent and tried to make everything handy and cozy for me.  All of my fueling, shoes, socks, jackets, anything I needed was there to the side of me.
I just sat there needing some energy and rejuvenation and was hoping to get that with some peanut butter pretzels.  It helped somewhat and after a few minutes I headed out for my next loop.  Mark would be back later to visit me some more before turning in for the night.
This 6th loop was my last and hardest loop. I walked almost the entire way, just trying to take in the beauty and surroundings.  It was also an opportunity to really think about Porter and have thoughts of him so close. I had no strength left in me. The wind had blasted me all day and being cold for 10 hours was just miserable.
32 Miles
When I came in after finishing 6 loops and 32.22 miles Mark was here and I told him my body hurt too much and I was afraid of him leaving me alone out there all night.  I just wanted to be warm and all I could think of was a nice hot shower in the motel.  He was so kind and didn't make me feel bad for quitting.  He broke up camp and we loaded it all up and headed into town.  I was depressed and frustrated but kept trying to process this whole day.  What if the weather had been better?  What if we hadn't have slept in a tent the night before?  What if I had trained better?  There were so many what ifs and I just wanted to move away from this whole experience and never go back.  I was so frustrated that when I got to the motel I immediately deleted the Facebook page for this Moab 24 hour run.  I was mad, run down, and in low spirits.  I had an awesome shower, a bowl of cereal and milk and a sweet phone call from a good friend, and then went to bed feeling better.

The next morning as we were heading North out of town we had to drive by the area we had camped in and I looked back and could see a few people still over there.  I found out later that only 2 people out of 10 signed up for the 100 mile run had completed it.  Out of 9 people signed up for the 24 hour solo category, nobody completed 24 hours. There were a few more categories and stats. If you are interested in seeing the results go here.

So as we were driving and talking on our way out of town my sweet hubby said, "I think you need to try this race again.  Under completely difference circumstances this could be a great race for you."  Little did he know I was thinking along those same lines.  My heart had softened and I truly wanted to know if I could have a good experience out here.  No way am I committing to it now, but never say never. 

*Good organization from the RD
*Excellent food and fueling choices at the aid station
*Beautiful course and scenery-It's Moab! How could it not be beautiful?
*Plenty of Port-o-Potties
*I loved having a loop course to be able to rest and refuel. The downside to that was it was definitely easier to stop and rest.  5.37 miles is not a tremendous long distance.

I learned a few things about myself out there.  My mind needs to be ready, alert, and excited to go.  That has always been the case for me in every race I have run.  I am always so just excited to be running a half marathon or a trail run but for some reason it just wasn't happening today.  I also learned that helpers along the course are VITAL!  Mark was a great support morally but he couldn't be out there for me physically running.  I know I definitely will need that to attempt something like this again.  I guess that means I will attempt this again.  I won't let this race get me down.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shamrock Half Marathon

Race #6 of 2013 
This running adventure I started a little over two years ago is starting to come full circle with the races I'm running this year.  2012 was the year I went crazy and ran every race I could get my hands on.  This year I want to run a lot of the same races as last year, with my main objective being to see if I have improved at all over last year as a runner.  I will never be fast but it's just nice to see if I have improved, even if it's just a little bit.  My whole mentality this year, as I run a race that I ran last year, will be to just beat my time, beat my time, beat my time.  Even if it's only by a minute.  

The Shamrock Half Marathon is a race I did run last year and after reviewing my experience then I was ready for the challenge this year.  Last year I knew nobody.  This year Josh was going to be there, and my friend Julia who is here from Minnesota.  Starting a race with familiar faces and friends is so much more fun.
Me, Julia, Josh
  I was so super surprised to see a friend I met at Top of Utah last year, and who came to our Christmas RA run, Melanie Maxwell.  We saw each other in the port-a-potty lines and had a fabulous visit.  She was here with a friend of hers who recently lost her husband and I was able to visit with her as well.  In my own experience, death was not an easy topic for me to talk about until I had experienced it so close to home myself.  I was always so grateful when people weren't afraid to bring up my sweet little Porter after he died.  I think actually talking about our loved ones helps the healing process and helps us feel closer to them.  My heart ached for this dear little lady and I wanted to tell her that in time the sting, painful aches and deep hurt will eventually ease, but until you're there it just doesn't seem possible.  Each person will eventually heal, in their own time and way, although that longing for that person never goes away, nor should it.   Running has been a great way to help me think about Porter as I have healed.  

My morning started with a 5:00 am alarm clock.  As part of my training for the Moab 24 hour run next week I have been putting in at least 3 hours or longer on the treadmill on Saturdays.  So I got up and headed downstairs to get in some mileage before I headed to the race.  I watched a fun show on Netflix called "The Adventures of Merlin" and got in 4 miles.  I then showered and put on some fresh, clean running clothes.  I ate some oatmeal and pears and headed off to Saratoga Springs for the race.   
I had picked up me and Josh's race packets the day before and met him in the parking lot to give him his.  The sun was just barely starting to come up over the mountain and I was just so stinkin' excited to finally be running outside and the temps actually being above freezing.  You can't tell how happy I am, can you??? I think it was about 45 degrees at race start which ended up being absolutely perfect!! I always over-dress in the cold and then I'm wishing later, when I'm too hot, that I didn't have a long-sleeved shirt or a jacket.  Today I decided to just be cold at the start and wear short sleeves and leave my jacket in the car.  I was so glad I made that decision.  
The race is well organized and started on time at 8:00 am.  I don't have a mileage recap to share.  This course is tough and seemed to be a constant climb.  There are a few downhills but the ups out-weighed the downs.  Or maybe it's just that the ups take longer to accomplish and so when the downs come and you zip through them it seems like the joy of it didn't last long enough.  I will never be one to complain of downhill running.
It's a constant mind game I have to play with myself while out there running to just keep pushing, pushing, pushing to try and beat last year's time.  Well, I am happy to say it happened by a whole whopping 3 1/2 minutes. That's o.k.  I'll take it!!
Pretty nice little 4 leaf clover medal that was handed to us at the finish line.  I quickly headed over to the treat table and enjoyed some orange slices, chocolate milk, and whole wheat bread and butter.  For some reason the oranges seemed to taste exceptionally sweet and juicy.  I may have eaten a few too many.
I decided to sit in the grass and stretch while I waited for Josh to come in.  It was a little chilly and the wind was blowing lightly.  I was still just so happy to be outside and so grateful for what my body just accomplished.  Those endorphins were kicking in, or it was just the beauty of the hills and snow and sunshine all wrapped up in a package. 
After Josh came in, Julia and Melanie both came over and we had an awesome time chatting about our run and life in general.   Sometimes I don't think very good and I totally missed out getting a picture of my cute friend Melanie.  Hopefully she has one she will share with me (wink wink) and I would love to post it here. 

This was an absolutely awesome day and I had a blast!  This early Springtime race just makes me so excited for the line-up of races I have scheduled for the rest of the year.  I'm not quite done filling it in yet, as I am still deciding which ones to do, but it's getting there.  

Next up........... 24 hour race in Moab.  I hope I don't get lost in the mountains in the dark!!!
Thankfully I have a brand new super bright head lamp and some awesome shoes to keep me upright.
I'll definitely be saying a few extra prayers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Excitement in the Air

There's so many things going on in life that I'm looking forward to.
They may be small but they make me happy.

*I won a hotel and dinner package for the weekend of Top of Utah Marathon. I didn't sign up for this marathon because I don't love running marathons unless they are out on the trails.   I have a decision to make as to whether or not I will be running this.  Regardless, I can have a nice weekend in the lovely Logan valley in September.  I will be running the half marathon though a couple weeks previous to the marathon.  I am so excited my daughter Kali is signed up and will be running with me.  Having my family join me in this journey makes me extremely happy!

*Spring Weather and getting back out on the trails to feel some dirt under my feet.

*Just ordered some HokaOneOnes and will be getting those any moment. I will be using these for my upcoming 24 Moab race.  I've been told that running in them feels like running on clouds.  Can't wait to try them out!!  I will definitely need some extra cushion while running that many hours.

*St. Patrick's Half Marathon in just one week.  I haven't run a half marathon race since January and I'm itching to get out there and see if I've progressed since running this same race last year. 

*I've been ramping up the mileage in preparation for my 24 hour run.  206 miles in January, 201 miles in February and already running like crazy in March.  I think I have become a little obsessive with the treadmill lately.  Netflix has been a fun discovery.  My son has been paying for it for about 3 years now and I didn't even know of its loveliness until now.

*Since I was chosen to be a pacer for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon in April there are a few things I need to learn about this assignment.  There was a pacer meeting last night where an Adidas rep came and helped us pick out our free shoes we will get to run in.  We also learned we will be running in an Adidas shirt and shorts.  I'm not excited about the shorts and will probably wear some sort of leggings underneath.  But the whole experience is exciting and one I am looking very forward to.  We will be having another meeting soon to learn more of the pacing how-to basics and to then receive our shoes, shorts and shirts.

I've just realized as I typed all this out that each one of these is running related.  I guess you could say that running makes me happy!  What makes you happy and what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Thoughts I Shared At Porter's Funeral

Today is not an easy day but with each passing year the ache and hurt eases over losing my youngest son.  I thought I would share here the memories that I shared at Porter's funeral only 3 short years ago.  Standing and speaking at your own child's funeral is not an easy task but this mother heart wanted to and needed to.  Porter was too precious to me and I wanted my family and friends to know that.   

 Porter Addison Fisher
September 13, 1991-March 5, 2010

Our precious little buddy was a son, a brother, a grandson, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin and a friend.  He was born on Friday, September 13th, 1991 in Provo, UT.  The youngest of four siblings.  Porter was a very sweet baby and it was oftentimes difficult for me to put him down.  Mark would tell me many times I spoiled my babies by holding them too much, yet I found so much joy in nestling, and cuddling them.

Our little boy Porter grew up enjoying the many typical adventurous things that boys do.  He loved kites, bikes, airplanes, Legos, and remote control vehicles of any shape and size.  Porter was always earning and saving up his money for the next greatest toy.  If he didn't have money he would just build something else instead.  He spent many hours working in the garage with his dads tools constructing anything his creative mind could come up with.  The kitchen counter with the junk drawer right below was also a favorite spot for him to build and create.

Porter was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the age of 8 by his father, and had looked forward to this important event in his life with much eagerness.  He received his Gospel in Action award a year and a half later with a couple of his goals being to read the Book of Mormon with his family and to learn and grow in a new talent which he accomplished through taking piano lessons.   

As a young man he enjoyed many adventures in the Scouting and Young Men's program.  He went on many a camp out and enjoyed the friendships of so many Young Men leaders and Bishops who taught him and influenced him for good.  One of his favorite places to go was Burriston Ponds just South of Utah County.  As Porter got older and was able to drive himself it wasn't uncommon for him to grab a buddy or two and just head out to enjoy a campout, a drive up the canyon, and just be in nature.

Because Porter has two older brothers it's very common for our home to be filled with young men of all ages.   Some of those young men are now currently serving missions throughout the world and when they heard the news of Porter's passing they shared of few of their thoughts which I would like to now share with you. 
            -Elder Ian Wheelhouse said:  "Porter is an amazing kid and an awesome example for all of us.  I have so many great memories growing up with Porter from campout adventures we had to just hanging out at the Fisher house.  He was truly a friend to everyone and I don't think he even had the capacity to have bad feelings towards anyone.
            -Elder Tyler Bristow said:  "I got to know Porter on camp outs and he always brought smiles to faces and brought an excitement to camp.  He was always exploring something new, looking for new creatures, finding new trails, climbing up rocks and more without a fiber of fear.  He has a great intelligence for many things, cars, bikes, music, sports and many other things and loved sharing it.  I know that he is in a good place and in good hands.
            -Elder Nathan Buhler who was his next door neighbor for 16 years and life-long buddy said:  "I know that Porter was a great man, and will always be great in my eyes.  There are but a few I have grown as close to.  In every sense of the word I will always consider him my brother, my best friend.  I know that it was meant to be for me to grow up right next door to my family.
            -Elder Jonny Oviatt said:  "Porter was a great friend to everyone and I loved his smile.  He's definitely preaching the gospel on the other side!"

We as a family echo those same thoughts that Porter is now serving his mission on the other side.

As Porter grew his interests changed from little boyhood adventures and little toys to big adventures and big toys.  He liked motorcycles and purchased the most beat up, run down yellow thing I ever saw just so he could see if he could make it run.  Amazingly enough he fixed it up, and made it look pretty good and was able to make a few bucks.  Porter actually bought and sold a number of motorcycles that he would fix up.  He wasn't really interested in owning them to ride, he just seemed to like the challenge of seeing if he could fix them, and he could!

Also as Porter grew his interests turned more towards music and he immersed himself whole- heartedly into acoustic guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers, drums and found much joy in developing this talent.   He spent many hours with Will and Stephen Petersen and Brian Farnworth enjoying this newfound love.  They so badly wanted to start a band but just couldn't seem to get it to fly.  After searching out bands he came upon one in Salt Lake County needing a bass guitar player and auditioned for it and earned the position.  He was now a member of "Ask For the Future" and has loved that opportunity of performing with them so much.  He often would tell me that Sam the lead singer and his fiance, Trista were like brother and sister to him.   He enjoyed all the members in the band and often talked of the laughs and good times they shared together.  Thank you band members for allowing him these fond memories and experiences with you.

My own father often tells me that this musical gift of Porter's just came down the pipes in the family, through the genes and that his Uncle Perry Asay, who would be Porter's great-great uncle, had this same gift.  I'm positive that Porter has now found Great Uncle Perry and is talking his ear off about music in every way, shape and form.  If it were possible for Porter to be holding a guitar now then I'm sure he's doing it.  There was always music coming from his room if he was hooked up to his amp, or he would walk around the house with his acoustic guitar always showing us some new melody or rhythm he had just made up.  Porter just only days ago had finished recording a song with a friend who did the lyrics and singing.  Porter had a talent for recording and editing music as well as playing it.  I have fond memories of some very beautiful sweet melodies he has recently written and look forward again to the day we will see his long beautiful fingers strum their melodies again.

Porter had some pretty lofty goals he had recently set and was nearing completion of them.  I'm sure he's desirous of still fulfilling those same goals and is working towards them on the other side. 

Because Porter had so many interests in music and building things at home he never had a desire for a regular job.  He did work for his grandmother and my sisters  and also would go help out a sweet, elderly gentleman named George with his many projects.   George expressed his feelings about Porter saying, "He contributed so much happiness to my life.  Every time he came to work he showed up with a smile on his face and brought joy into this place."

Porter truly brought joy and smiles and happiness to so many around him.  I know whenever he was around we couldn't help but laugh at his quick wit and humor.

At this time I'd like to take the opportunity to thank so many people who have come from far and near in support of our family.  We have been completely overwhelmed with the outpouring of love.  Thank you for your prayers, your fasts, your hugs, your cards, your food, your smiles and kisses.  We have felt so strengthened by so many loved ones.   Our family feels so blessed by having known all of you.  Thank you for being a friend to Porter.

I have a good friend who gave me a card with a scripture inside many years ago when I was experiencing some challenges.   It's in John 14:27 which reads "Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth,  give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid."  She gave that to me at a time when I needed to hear those healing words.  That has since become a favorite scripture of mine and I think of it often in trying times.   I know I will think of it daily for the many days and months ahead.   

Porter, we miss you so much and our hearts are broken at this tragic sudden passing.  We know you died enjoying your most favorite thing in the world.   I know that you would want our family to be at peace and so with Heavenly Father's help through the Comforter,  we can have that feeling in our home and in our lives.  Thank you for allowing me to be your mother.  I feel honored to have been able to raise you for the short 18 years you were here on earth.  We love you so much little buddy!    We know we'll see you again because of Heavenly Father's plan. We are so grateful that families are forever.