Saturday, August 31, 2013

Top of Utah Half Marathon 2013

Top of Utah Half Marathon
Race #27 of 2013

Since starting this running journey almost 3 years ago I have run quite a few races.  This would be my third opportunity coming up to Logan to participate in this specific event.  I was struggling in my heart and mind as to how I would run this race.  My daughter has been working and training hard to get ready for her first "real" half marathon.  We don't count the first one she did when she was pregnant and walked the whole thing.  She was anxious and excited to see how this would go.  I was torn between trying for a faster time than the two previous years, and staying with her for moral support.

We got to the bus pickup fairly early and boarded the third bus.  I like to sit in the front seat if possible and watch the course as we travel.  Kali didn't like seeing how far she had to run.  We got to the top and hopped off the bus and immediately started seeing people we knew.  It's one of my favorite parts of the race to visit friends I've made through running.  My mom's the biggest socializer in the world and claims she only goes to the gym to visit all the friends she's made there.  I definitely am starting to sound like my mom. 
Adrian Toledo is a bigger socializer than me.  He knows everyone and talks to everyone.  Such a fun person!
After waiting for about an hour and a half for the race to start and making final pit stops we headed up to the starting line area and the race promptly began.  Kali was hanging with me for the first little bit but kept telling me it's alright if I go on.  So I did.  I would look back and she would be so close still so I hoped she would just hang in there.  Eventually I looked back and she wasn't there anymore.  

Now this is where the race gets a little interesting to me.  My last weekend's race at the Porter's Half Marathon was a challenge.  My heart and energy was not into the run.  Something was missing.  That running spark just seemed to be fizzled out.  Well, I noticed the same thing was happening today too.  Usually as I run, I am happy and loving my surroundings.  Around mile three is when I really start feeling loose and good and my muscles finally are warmed up.  There's usually an exhilaration I feel as I run that just keeps me moving forward.  Well, it just didn't happen last week and it wasn't happening today either.  I started questioning my abilities and motives.  I felt like Forrest Gump when he had run so far and then all of sudden stopped and said he wanted to go home.  I was also feeling bad for leaving Kali and so when I came out of the canyon and saw her hubby and the kids there I decided to stop and visit my cute grand kids and to wait for Kali.  Grandchildren were exactly what I needed at that moment and I was so happy to see them.
Wade has a phone finder app and knew exactly how far back Kali was.  I was totally fine hanging out there and watching for her to arrive.  She was less than 3/4 of a mile back.  She was surprised to see me and I told her I wanted to finish the race with her.
After a few hugs, kisses, and photos we were off to finish the race.  Kali had some hopes and expectations of herself but was struggling with a lot of soreness in her hips and we ended up doing a lot of walking and running for the next 7 miles.  I would try to encourage her to just keep running and she would try to sabotage my good eating lately with Aggie ice cream after the race.  She tried to make a deal with me that if she ran a mile without stopping then I had to eat ice cream.  Yep, that deal didn't pan out.  I'm still eating healthy.
As we were getting closer to finishing this race there were so many times she just wanted to quit and have Wade pick her up.  I knew she could finish this race, especially after walking 13 miles pregnant last year.  We finally got to the home stretch where it felt like this race was never going to be over.  I admire those people who can run a half marathon in an hour and a half.  Even any thing with a 1 in their time, but you gotta give credit to those who are out there for nearly 3 hours hobbling along in pain and just pushing their body to get to that finish line.  Kali pushed and persevered and I was very proud of her for not giving up.  She says she is done with half marathons.  I wonder though if she'll try again.  It kind of gets in your system.
Mark held little Harper high in the air and that's why we have such big smiles on our faces.  She was a cute face to see as we crossed the finish line.
I've now run Top of Utah three times and think I will call this good and done.  So although I didn't improve upon my time this year I did have the sweet opportunity of being with Kali as she crossed that finish line.

There is a race a lot closer to home called Run Elevated that is down Little Cottonwood Canyon that just had its inaugural race on the same day as Top of Utah.  I love me some canyon races and so will probably run that next year, if I can get me some happy running feelings to return!!
A very well, hard-earned medal.
Final time of 2:49:40

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Porter's Half Marathon

Porter's Half Marathon
Race #26 of 2013

I ran this race a week ago and thought I better get the memories down pronto before they become fuzzy.  I ran this race last year too and loved it.  Not necessarily because of the course or the whole race specifically, but because the name alone has special meaning to me. As long as I can run, I will do this race.

The race started at 7:00 am and I was grateful for the extra hour of sleep.  Now that Summer is starting to wind down we are losing the morning daylight and so half marathons are starting later.  I got up still pretty early, around 4:00 am and got myself ready and out the door by 5:00 and headed to Draper for the bus pick-up.  I met up with my friend Josh, who would be running this race for his first time.  (He rocked it)
Josh pinned my photo of Porter on my back for me.
We meandered around while it got light and made some new running friends from our Runner's Anonymous Facebook group.  Half the fun of races is the opportunity to socialize and meet new people.
Me, Josh, Carl and Tani Downing, Quesnel Atwood
My running buddy Josh was super excited to run this race, can't you tell?  He is working so hard getting faster at each race and is really improving.  It's so fun to watch his enthusiasm and determination.

This is a new race, in its 2nd year.  The only glitch I saw was the late start.  If a race advertises it's starting at 7:00 am, then that's what should happen.  It's just a little frustrating to stand around at the starting line with jitters and anticipation mounting and then having to wait longer.  This started about 10 minutes late which wasn't a huge deal but when the sun started coming up over the mountains a little further down the trail 10 minutes was a big deal when it got hot.

This run was challenging.  Plain and simple.  I have been having some minor sore back issues going on in the last couple weeks and trying to rest and take it easy.  My running has scaled back a lot and I wasn't sure how ready I would be to tackle 13.1 miles.  On top of that my diet has suffered and I've put on a few pounds.  That will be changing pronto!!

So the gun went off and away we went down the street.  I could tell right from the very beginning I felt a little off.  My body usually gets in the groove around mile 3 and things start to feel good by then and I can continue on.  Today I never found that 'happy' spot.  I constantly hurt and did the most walking and running combination I've ever done at a race.  At mile 5 1/2 I got a bloody nose and asked some kind people out in their yard for tissue.  The sweet lady ran in the house and came out with a huge wad for me.  What a lifesaver!  It finally stopped around mile 8, as I ran with tp shoved up my nose.  What a sight huh?

At 2 hours 30 minutes and 48 seconds I finally crossed the finish line, grateful it was over.  Josh was being interviewed by the Deseret News, who was doing a story about fighting obesity and she took photos there at the finish line giving him high fives. 
Even though I didn't have the strength and energy and enthusiasm that I usually do at many of my other races, Porter was heavy on my mind.  In fact, I believe he was by my side many times encouraging me and helping me through this challenging morning I was having.  I definitely thought about him here more than at any other race, and I found a lot of comfort in thoughts of him. 
 Crossing the finish line means delicious refreshment, and relaxation.
 And of course a medal!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hostess Twinkie Comeback Run and a Family Vacation

Every once in awhile my daughter, Kali, likes to go on little vacations with us and suggested a getaway to Southern Utah. She knew I wanted to run a specific race held in Hurricane this specific weekend by Cory Reese titled the "Hostess Twinkie Comeback Run".  It wasn't a typical "real" race. In fact it was supposed to be on the down low so that the city wouldn't come after him if there were too many people in an organized run. We were technically just a group of people out running/training for fun with friends.  And really, that's what it was.  Cory can tell you all about the challenges of dealing with the city when it comes to organized runs/races. 

Kali is currently training for a half marathon and she needed to do 11 miles this weekend in her training plan. So I was more than happy when she said she wanted to go down there and do it with me.  She had the connections with her in-laws to stay at a beautiful new vacation home they just recently purchased.  So we loaded up our stuff and headed South.

Mark and I arrived first to the Washington, Utah area and went inside and turned on the air conditioner, ice machine, and unloaded the car.  Kali and her family would be arriving a few hours later when her hubby got off work  Cooper would be coming and traveling with them as well.  We had a few hours to relax and go eat before the twinkie run was to start.
For some reason a big mushroom burger with fries from Red Robin just sounded delicious.  It's very rare for me to eat this kind of food but I was on vacation so why not?  I needed some good carbs and energy for my run coming up in a couple hours.  After dinner I got changed into my running gear and gathered all my stuff for a long run and headed on over to Hurricane.  Mark drove us out there and decided to wait there until the rest of the family showed up a couple hours later.  They would just come straight there and drop Kali off to run with me.  He would go back to the house with the others.  While he waited he hung out inside Cory's house.  Mel was so kind to offer to let him watch tv in the nice air conditioned house while I was out running in the heat.  He happily did so.  What a guy!  I told him he should go visit my relatives and he said he would rather sit on the corner watching me run in circles, how rude. 
The run started at 8:00 pm and I arrived just a few minutes before that.  I LOVE not having to ride a bus to get to the starting of a run. We just pulled up on Cory's street and got out and walked 30 feet to his driveway.  Our "entry fee" for running this race was to bring a package of Hostess goodies, or any other treat you wanted.  I added my bag and took a photo.  Would all of this high fructose corn syrup junk really get consumed throughout the evening???
I can just tell you right now I much prefer a nice delicious homemade sugar cookie or other homemade treat. I can pass on this stuff, not my favorite.  In fact, I only ate 2 donette gems the whole evening and even still thought they were meh.  I can't even think of gagging down a twinkie. (gasp!)  So then you may ask, "Why in the world did you drive 4 hours to run a race that promotes Twinkies???"  Running for me is a social event. I do love treats at a race but the highlight for me is to just be out there with people having a good time doing something that feels so good for my body.  
Cory and his darling wife Mel.I was given strict instructions to take lots of photos and to give these two a hug from Cory's little sister Hollie, who so much wanted to come down and join in the fun.  Pregnancy has a way a changing plans a little bit. 

Here is what the group looked like in the beginning.  People were coming and going throughout the whole event and it was fun to see so many having a great time.  I was really impressed by how many young people were running.  They were out there having a good time, but really I think they were just happy for some treats!
The course was slightly longer than a one mile loop starting and ending at Cory's house.  The weather was extremely warm, even this late in the evening, somewhere in the low 90's, and eventually moving into the 80's as the night cooled off somewhat, crazy, I know!!  I was so grateful to be able to stop and drink after every mile.  I certainly needed it.
A picture of some random trees, but let me tell you.  These are my all time favorite trees.  I wanted to plant some along a fence, lining my backyard further up North but I was told by the local nursery that these are not zoned for our area and that they wouldn't survive in our harsh Winters.  Very sad :( 
Molly's nipple in the background.  That is one of Cory's famous runs.  He has shared many experiences on his blog of running up there.  
There's those awesome trees again!! Aren't they just the most fabulous, stunning piece of greenery for the landscape??
The sky had beautiful colors and I thought I would try to capture a little bit of it.  Unfortunately I don't have photoshop to help enhance the coloring.  Just enjoy it all in its natural state. 
Here's a nice colorful photo that Cory took and posted on his blog.  It shows the gorgeous mountains of Zions in the background.  His photos are always so great.  He just knows how to tweak them and make the colors pop.  I really need to take a class and learn.   This photo also has me and another Facebook friend chatting and running together for a loop.  Angel Johnson and her hubby.  Good times!
I had just completed 3 loops for a little over 3 miles when I saw this super fun gal.  I met her last December at the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon.  I was hoping she would be coming.  I loved visiting her last year at the race and felt like I didn't get to hang out with her long enough.  She just had a baby 2 months ago and came to do a few loops.  She is currently following a 5K training plan and so I was so excited to get to do that with her for a little while.  Seriously, the heat was pretty intense and I was ok with doing a walk/run plan for a little bit.  We are planning to run a race somewhere, somehow, together in 2014.  I sort of, kind of, maybe, challenged her to run Cory's Baker's Dozen Half Marathon this December with me.  We'll see, right Jess? Then it seemed as fast as she was here, we were done and she was gone.  
I kept waiting and watching for my daughter to get here, and finally she was.  For the next 11 miles I got to hang out with her.   She was all fresh and radiant.  I was just glowing from a headlamp and sweat, uggghhh!!  We got right down to business and dug in for her 11 miles.  At this point I had done almost 7 miles and was just trudging along the best I could with the heat and dark.   Kali was having a hard time even wanting to do this and kept questioning why she was.  

It seems runners often go through mental challenges at some point along the journey. Questions of why am I doing this?  What do I have to gain from doing this?  Will I be healthier, happier?  If I'm not loving this now, will I ever??  Those are all thoughts that have gone through my mind many times as I have been out there pounding the pavement or the dirt trails.  But there always seems to be some sort of real satisfaction in digging in and getting the running done.  There seems to be some sort of self pride and satisfaction to putting in the mileage and just feeling so great when it's over.  
As the crowds were dwindling down we were some of the last few out there on the course. Cory joined us for a couple loops and provided some much needed words of encouragement for kali.  I loved that we weren't out there trying for any speed records but only to put in the mileage.  If we needed to walk that was ok.  When we needed to stop for liquids and treats, that was ok too.
FINALLY 11 MILES DONE FOR MY SWEET GIRL!  It may have been way past midnight when the run was supposed to be over, but we needed to get it done.  Cory was nice to continue running until we went home.  He claims he wanted to get in 20 miles for the night and hadn't done it yet.  I hope that was really the case and that we weren't holding him up.
I'm so proud of this girl.  This was her longest training run yet.  We then rounded up my stuff and said our good-byes to Cory and his wife, Mel, and thanked them for the great time and goods, and for not kicking us out of there at exactly midnight.  At this point I had completed 17.75 miles and I was feeling just a little frustrated that the number wasn't rounded up.  After we got back to Washington and came into the house everyone was still up and we visited for a little bit.  I then headed outside and ran another 1/4 mile.  Do you know how hard it is to run 17.75 miles and then ride in a car for 15 minutes and then get out and go run again?  The muscles were a little bit rebellious.  Silly me just needed to get that number to a nice even 18.  We cleaned up and then went to bed about 2:00 am or after.  Sleeping in definitely happened Saturday morning for some, sadly not for me.   I heard little Harper fussing and so I got up and played with her after only about 5 hours of sleep.  After a morning nap later I made a fun breakfast for everyone of french toast, eggs, bacon, and orange juice.
I got some help from this little guy.  Shhh.....don't tell his mama but there may have been a few chocolate mint cookies enjoyed before breakfast.  Hey, isn't that allowed by grandmas?  Notice the chocolate evidence on his mouth?
Kali was getting spoiled by some nice massaging from her husband.  I tried to rub her legs and she just got mad at me because I was too rough.  She said my fingers felt like knives stabbing into her legs.  Hey, I guess I don't know how to play nicely at massages.  If you need a rub I'm going to make sure you feel it!  HA! You got to get that lactic acid moving around and out of those muscle fibers right?
Mr. Mellow Mark, enjoying some Mah-Jong on the computer.  We had no internet access so he was playing some little freebie game.  I found a demo download on Cooper's laptop of Build-A-Lot and enjoyed that for a few hours.  Vacations are all about relaxing, being with family, wasting time, and eating, right? 
Kali's going to kick me for posting this photo but it describes exactly how we were feeling the next morning after running what felt like all night long.   Little Harper girl is just happy as can be to have so much attention.
Later after breakfast, Miles wanted a treat and so, of course, grandma came to the rescue.  I offered him some Good and Plenty candies which his mom and dad both quickly said he won't like.  We were all very surprised that he loved them and gobbled them up.  This is his famous cheesy smile he will do when you ask him to for a photo. What a little peanut.  
The plans for the rest of the day included heading to this new place in St. George called Swig.  I must say I was impressed with the variety of drink flavors and treats.  The cars were lined up down the street and so we got out of the car and ordered at the window.  I think people are afraid of getting out of their cars in the 100 degree weather.
A tiger's blood shaved ice with ice cream in it was called an avalanche.  It was seriously the most refreshing delicious treat to indulge in on a hot afternoon.
Kali bought some "out-of-this-world-sugar cookies" that must have had cream cheese in them. Straight calories to the hips for sure for me!  
Miles sure loves drinking black juice.  (That's what he calls it.) 
The next part of our day included heading down to Quail Creek Reservoir to swim and soak up some sun.

Little Miss Harper girl rockin' the sunglasses.
OOPS!! Mr. Cooper forgot his swimming suit and had to sit out in the blazing heat.  100 + degree heat makes for a miserable time.  Good thing he had a little bit of shade.

After hanging out in the water and sunshine we changed our clothes and headed to a ghost town that Kali and Wade found somewhere in Leeds.  Silver City Ghost Town I think is what it was called.  On our way though I was quickly drawn to this place with the gorgeous trees again!! Can somebody please just buy me a tall skinny tree??  They were in the little cemetery in the town of Leeds, super tiny town.  Population 843. 

After our adventures out in the water and sunshine we headed off to dinner at a Mexican restaurant up on the hillside in St. George called Paula's.  We quite like the chimichangas they serve there.  We sat down and immediately little Harper was excited about the chips and salsa.  Too bad she has no teeth and can't eat this stuff yet.  Just wait little baby girl.  You'll get to enjoy it someday soon.
Mr. Miles enjoyed his sprite and dinner out with the family and enjoying the chips and salsa with Uncle Coo-Ker.

We had a super, fantastic little weekend getaway with the family, enjoying good food, running, being lazy, sleeping and just being together. My kind of vacation!!