Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Red Hot 33k

Hey everybody! It's been a while since I raced, hasn't it!? I've had a really fun summer, getting more into trail running and pretty much just doing whatever I want without having a training plan. 

As nice as that was, there's always that call to race, isn't there? My running buddy, Sue, talked me into signing up for the Red Hot 33k (that's 19 miles for my fellow non-metric system using Americans) in Moab. I knew it would be nice to go down there in winter and it sounded like a fun race so we started training loosely following a training plan, and just tried to keep having fun and not stress out about it. I think this worked great because I did have a lot of fun on all our training runs!

Sue and I drove down on Friday, stopping at Ray's Tavern for an early dinner.

Ummm.... Carb loading?

When we got to Moab, we picked up our packets and checked in at our hotel. Check out the sweet trucker hats we got in our packet!

My friend Shannon got there later that night, and we made plans to grab breakfast, then drive over to the start together.

We got to the start, which was the Gemini Bridges trail head, just in time for Shannon to pick up her packet, take our turns at the port-o-potties (which we knew would be the last ones we'd see until the finish), and see the early morning sun shine on the beautiful snow-covered red rocks!

We were feeling excited and ready to go do something crazy!

The race director spoke to us all before the race started, and he let us know that the Jeep club guys were able to wench their jeeps up "the waterfall" so there would be a second aid station after all. Nice! He went on to tell us to be very careful between the 3rd and 4th (or was it 2nd and 3rd?) aid stations, because if something happened, "it would be very hard to get to you." He said they would have to bring in a search and rescue helicopter so don't get hurt! We all look at each other like, "great..."

We also took a look at the course map, as if it meant anything to me! But I took a picture just in case I did get lost and it could maybe help me.

We started at 8:30 - half an hour after the 55kers, and this is what it looked like starting out! Shannon took off right away, and I hoped she would have a fun time even though she hadn't trained on many trails! The snow was hard packed, but hard to run on so I was hoping it wouldn't be like this the whole way. I started walking pretty quickly on this steep first mile, telling Sue that I wasn't in a hurry, so she went ahead too. I knew I needed to save my energy for the end!

After reaching the top of that first climb, we went around a bend, and suddenly we were in a different world!

We ran on this dirt road for a while, and I made sure to enjoy running down the hill!

The scenery was just so unbelievable. It really was hard to not stop and take pictures constantly! This was along the dirt road. It was at about this point, maybe about mile 5, that I heard a guy say, "I'm doing this race every day of my life until I die!" as he stopped to take a picture. I loved that so much!

Then we turned onto the sandstone and it got so much harder, but so much more fun!

I remember seeing someone stop to take a picture and saying to them, "This is so cool!" Even though we were all hiking at this point, totally sweating and breathing hard, I was just enjoying it and trying to take it all in.

Up, up up!

I swear we were hiking up steep sandstone from like mile 5 or 6 to mile 8, but I just kept thinking, "So rad."

Here are the Jeeps and what we had to climb up to get to the second aid station (mile 8). I could see why they weren't sure if they'd get up there or not!

I grabbed some mini candy bars and a hammer gel along with some water here and stopped for a minute to catch my breath and enjoy the view. I told myself I could listen to music once I got to mile 8 so I put my earbuds in. Then I got to run down that sandstone! It was so much fun and I just felt SO happy in that moment! It was awesome.

It wasn't all down from here, though, we went down a little, then up some more, then down, then up, and, well you get the picture.

I pretty much walked the uphills, taking those opportunities to drink water and eat my candy bars. Then we would turn down and I would pick up the pace and feel like a mountain goat on the downhills.  It was so much fun running around the sandstone, jumping over rocks and crevasses. All the while, this amazing scenery surrounding us. I felt like a kid, just out there playing.

The snow-topped La Sal Mountains, looking beautiful in the distance.

From this spot, at maybe mile 9, you can see Arches National Park in the distance, and the snow area down below that we had started from. Pretty amazing.

More slickrock to run around on!


I couldn't get enough of the red rock with the snow on it. Not what I'm used to seeing. It was so pretty, and such a pretty, perfect day for a run!

Finally I got to the point where I had to just focus on moving forward so I stopped taking pictures. Unfortuantly, the happy euphoria didn't last the entire run. I started to get tired and my legs started to hurt so I took my Excedrine at the mile 15 aid station, along with quarter of a PB&J sandwich and some Coke. The volunteers cheered us on, telling us, "Only 4 more miles!" so I got to work to get those miles done.

But it was not just a straight-forward run to the finish. There was a lot of sand, and now some snow, and a few slippery spots to get over, along with the rocks to continue dodging.

At one point, the course went up this really steep, snowy hill. It was almost a cliff and when it came into view there were 5 or 6 people struggling up it, and someone was helping a girl up who had fallen. I was thinking, "Um, that's not safe. I'm not going up that," when the 2 people in front of me just turned and went around a different way that totally made more sense than that steep hill. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't think the poor girl who was struggleing would appreciate having her picture taken in that moment.

One of the women who was part-way up when I got there actually came down and followed us around the other way. At one point she said to me, "I've just got to get my heart rate down now!" and I said, "I can't believe they were having people go up that!"

There was one more slippery spot where the girl in front of me was practically sliding down the whole thing, and I commented that it looked like a waterslide. I think I had better traction than her, and didn't slip, but there were just a lot of things like that where it was really hard to just run.

I had been kind of planning on finishing at around 4 hours (though I don't know what that was based on), so when I hit mile 17 and noticed that I was also about to hit the 4 hour mark, I was a little dissapointed and discouraged that I still had 2 miles to go. But we were on a dirt road now, so I was mostly able to run and I tried to keep it up. I'm so sad my Garmin data didn't get saved so I don't know what my mile splits are or anything.

Finaly I started to notice spectators so I knew we must be getting close. I was excited that "Out of the Woods" came on my iPod. Could there be a more perfect song for sprinting to the finsh?! Then I saw Sue's husband and daughter out cheering. We didn't know they were coming, so that was a nice suprize! I ran around one more corner and there was the finish line! It sure felt good to run though that!

At the finish line they were handing out these pint glasses instead of medals, and I love that! I'd much rather have a momento that I can use. It also came with a beer ticket so Shannon and I went and got them filled up. I had never had beer at a finish line before so I wasn't sure how that would go over after a hard race, but it was really good! I was, maybe, a little thirsty, though.

Shannon is amazing, and had finished almost an hour ahead of me so it was nice of her to wait around for me at the fnish line! Great job, Shannon!!

Sue also finished before me, by about half an hour! She did a great job, getting the same time as last time she ran this! I'm so glad she had the idea and pretty much planned this whole trip for us. It was amazing!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Drop 13 Half Marathon 2015

June 13, 2015

This race was totally last minute and awesomely spontanious!! It was the Wednesday before the race, and someone on facebook was selling her spot for $60. She said they would transfer it over to my name for free, which is practically unheard of! I thought running down Big Cottonwood Canyon would be a really fun long run, and that this was a pretty good deal for a half marathon so I took her up on her offer! It was crazy! But crazy awesome!

Friday night I set my alarm for 3:30 so I could be at the busses before 4:30 to pick up my packet. I pretty much, got up, got dressed, made some oatmeal and packed it for the bus, then hurried out the door. I made it with plenty of time, and even had a lot of time to stand around at the start, and go to the port-o-potties twice.

It was really cold up there on the mountain, but it was also so peacful and the birds were singing in the trees. I was just happy to be up there.

The race started and I really did try to hold back and take it easy, but I looked down at my first mile and it was...

"Wow, that's too fast!" I told myself, but myself didn't listen and just continued to keep having fun and letting gravity pull me down the mountain. By the time I got to mile 5 my feel were burning, and I just knew I had big blisters on the bottoms of both my feel. Every step was so painful, but I just kept telling myself, "This is superficial. It's just skin. It's not going to leave lasting damage...." etc.

Like I said, I'm crazy.

Even with all that positive self talk, I did try to adjust my stride a bit so that I was landing on more of the middle of my foot, not so much the ball of my foot - which is how I normally run, and I really think that saved my knees. I'd rather have blisters than hurt knees.

Anyway, at almost the half-way point, I decided to stop at a port-o-potty, and I snapped this picture. It was really a beautiful run!!

The port-o-line was taking too long, though. Then I saw the 2:00 pacer pass me.

Ok, so I went into this race saying that I was just going to have fun and no pressure and everything, but inside I knew that this downhill run would be the one where I woud break 2 hours. So I just couldn't have that pacer pace me. I just couldn't.

So I jumped out of line and started running again. I caught up to the people I had been with before pretty fast, so that gave me confidence to try the next port-o-potty (because, if you know anything about anatamy, if you don't go, you still need to go 2 miles later...) so that's what I did. This time the line went a little faster! Again I was able to catch up to, and pass the people I had been with before so I felt like it was worh the stop.

My feet were really hurting, but I tried to ingore them. Then luckily at about mile 11, one of the blisters burst (I know, gross), and it felt SO MUCH better! That really helped me be able to keep the pace up and finish strong and happy!

It was such a good feeling to run under the finish line and see the clock be under 2 hours!! They even gave out extra medals if you got a PR!


That's about a 9 minute PR and such a milestone for me to beat 2 hours. Wahoo! What a fun race! I don't know if I'll be doing any downhill half marathons again anytime soon, though. Ouch. I really need to toughen these baby feet up. And I was really sore the next few days. Yep, you've gotta pay for those PRs somewhere.

PS - I was really worried about how my feel would look when I took my shoes off, and I was totally expecting bloody socks by the way it felt. But when I got home, I was shocked to find my feet looking normal! There are blisters, but no blood and they aren't as bad as I thought they would be. See? Superficial! :) BUT I was much more sore after this race than St. George 70.3. Go figure, running faster hurts more.

I went up to Sundance that night with Pete for his birthday dinner and it was so fun to be in one canyon at sunrise and another canyon at sunset. It's beautiful up there too, and The Tree Room has amazing food! Also, Robert Redford was sitting right across the room from me so I pretty much watched him the whole meal... That was kind of surreal. I was so tired by the end of the meal that I was putting my head down on the table! We decided to get the desert to go and ate it at home in bed.

IRONMAN St. George 70.3

It is so strange. I've been wanting to do this race ever since it started as a full Ironman 5 or 6 years ago. It is a half now, and I have a couple friends, Chrystel and BJ, who go down every year. I was at a party with them during the winter and they convinced me to sign up! It was so great to have something big to work towards again, but at the same time I had done a half Ironman before so it didn't scare me enough to make me too stressed. It was perfect!

I trained pretty well, but gave my training plan a lot of wiggle room. Chrystel and I were also rehearsing for the upcoming ballet performance that my girls were going to be in. I was stressing out about that more than the race, and starting to feel like I shouldn't leave for the weekend and miss a rehearsal. Then BJ crashed his bike and broke his shoulder so he said he would just go if Chrystel went. But she wasn't so sure if she even wanted to go anymore. This made me not really want to go by myself. I had signed to go with them. So I couldn't decide...

But then the week of the race arrived, I followed the advice of friends and Pete, (who knows me so well and reminded me that I would regret not going) and decided to go. I had put in the work, and I knew I would have fun, so why not go?! Then Chrystel decided to go too, and suddenly I was excited again! Yay! So, let the packing commence:

It had been a while since I packed for a tri!

With my new excitement, I did my nails to match my bike, and bought a new water bottle. By the time we hit the road, I was starting to feel pretty nervous!

Pete and I had my dad watch the kids, and we got to St. George Friday evening with not much time to spare to visit Ironman village...

Get my wrist band, pick up my packet, drop my run stuff off at T2...

And my bike stuff at T1.

Looking at the beautiful swim course at Sand Hollow Reservoir, and the nice smooth water, made me more excited!

I went out to dinner with my friends while Pete went with his friends for a work meeting. That was fun, and helped me calm down a little. We were just there to have fun, no worries. Then we slept at a friend's house and I woke up bright (er, dark) and early to meet Chrystel and BJ at their condo so we could all ride the bus out to the start together. Let's get this party started!!

It's so much more fun going to a race with friends!

The swim was so great. I was a little nervous since I hadn't even put my wetsuit on for almost a year, but I got it on nice and early and had a lot of time to stand around and get excited, watching a lot of waves go before me.

Chrystel started about half an hour before me, and BJ was starting about 5 minutes behind me so my goal was to beat him out of the water!

When it was time for my wave to get into the water, it was so cold! I kept trying to put my face in, but I just couldn't keep it there! I wondered how I was going to swim in that, but then the gun went off and we were swimming. I told myself to just relax and take it easy. I focused on 3 strokes, breath, 3 strokes, breath. Before I knew it, I was feeling good and breathing just fine! Whew! The water was really smooth so that helped! I also used some of the moves I'd learned in the open water masters class I went to a couple times with a friend. When I got to the last buoy, I pushed hard to the end, and like usual, part of me didn't really want it to be over. I wish I had tried to go faster, I think I could have...

I'm not sure if I beat BJ me out or not because transition was huge and I just had to focus on finding my spot, but it must have come pretty close because I swam a 39... and his swim was like 35 minutes (It was only that close because he had a broken shoulder btw... Tough guy!!). That was my fastest swim for a half (by like 13 seconds...), but I didn't find out until afterwards. I was so happy to see that I'd gone under 40 minutes!!

SWIM TIME: 39:57

I put on a long sleeve shirt for the bike because I realized during my Havasupai trip, that it really wasn't that bad to wear and that it would keep me from getting sunburnt. It was actually nice to have at first, since I was cold and wet at the start, and then it was nice to not have the sun shining on my skin. The bike was really fun! I got to see Pete two times on the bike, and the second time he was like, "already!?" I yelled, 'Yeah, I'm going SO FAST!" He took this picture of me:

Love him.

There were a lot of ups and downs, which I did not train for at all, but it was just so beautiful and such a nice day, and the hills weren't too long so it seemed just perfect. At least until Snow Canyon. Snow Canyon starts at about mile 40, so I was just starting to get sore and tired of riding my bike. The longest training ride I'd done for this was 50 miles, and that was on flat.

At first, I really enjoyed Snow Canyon too. It was SO beautiful! Unbelievably beautiful! I even saw some people stop to take pictures.

When they had us turn around and go back down, only to turn around and go up it again, the slow hill started to get old, though. A LOT of people were walking their bikes by the end, but I was determined to stay on mine no matter how slow! Working that hard and moving that slow, it really started to get hot and I just couldn't wait for the last 9 miles when we would get to zoom down the highway into St. George and feel the wind again. I did stay on my bike, and boy was that downhill delicious! I was feeling pretty sore, though, and ready to get off my bike!

BIKE TIME: 4:09:08

In T2, I sat there for a little while, feeling so tired and hot and really not wanting to go run a half marathon! It was about 1:00pm by the time I started the run, and of course, the long sleeves had to go now. It was HOT. The run starts out uphill right away. I was only able to get myself going by telling myself that I could walk on the uphills. As long as I was moving forward, that would be ok. So that's what I did.

I pretty much walked the first 2 miles, then we got some really fun downhill! Then more up and more down and so on. It's a really hilly course, and so exposed! There was no shade whatsoever, and you're out there in the red hot desert! Luckily there were aid stations at about every mile, and I just kept myself drenched and ice in my bra and hat. That worked pretty well, and I stopped a couple times for sunscreen.

I asked a volunteer, I think at mile 4, if she had any Ibuprofen (meaning like at the aid station), and she dug in her own purse to get me some! That was so sweet, and really gave me a kick to get going! Then, either at that same aid station or the next one, the song "Shut up and Dance With Me" came on. I was walking so I could drink, and just as it got to the chorus, I came up alongside a guy who was also walking. We both yelled out, "Shut up and Dance With Me!" and I started running! For me, "Shut up and dance with me" became, "Shut up and start running!" Every time I'd want to walk, I would sing that to myself and I would give it a little more. I started running more on the uphills, though not on all of them, but I was determined to run now!

I think it was at about mile 5 or so that I finally saw Chrystel and BJ! I was so happy to see them, I gave them both big, wet hugs and we cheered each other on! It was hard to do the math while running, but I think they were about 3 miles ahead of me. The way the course zig zags and goes out and back up there on the hill, I was able to see them 2 more times! The second time, they told me Pete was at the bottom of the hill, at the half-way point! That was so great to hear, and I was so excited to see him again! He took this picture there, just before I turned around and had to go back up this hill.

I was feeling really happy. Only 6 miles to go. The second half of this half marathon was much better for me. I even pulled off a 9:21 in the last mile. Those last 2 miles are about the same as the St. George Marathon course, and I think the memory of running them strong after 24 miles really helped me be able to keep pushing this time. It was awesome.

Feeling happy when I saw Pete with the finish line in sight!

It was so funny, I saw a guy that I knew from when we lived in St. George at the very end, and he slowed down so I passed him and said, "Come on!" We both ran hard then, and he ended up beating me across the finish line, but that was a fun way to end!

RUN TIME: 2:37:34

I knew it was a hard course, and that it would take me longer than Utah Half, but I really had no idea it would take that long, or be that hard! It was great to have friends waiting for me at the finish line too!!

looking a little beat here...

FINISH TIME: 7:41:09

Woowee, that was a hard course! But the good news was that, since I was so slow, I really wasn't that sore the next day. Win! :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Havasupai Falls 2015

For our 14th anniversary we went to see the Havasupai waterfalls at the end of March 2014. It was such an amazing experience that I will never forget! And I do hope to go back someday. 

We started out driving from Salt Lake at about 10:00 on Friday morning, and just spent the whole day driving. It was actually really fun with just the two of us. We talked and listened to music and podcasts, including the whole season of Serial. After we got off I-15, everything was new to us, and it was so beautiful! Even when we got into Arizona, I had no idea Arizona looked like that! I always imagined it as barren desert! But there were forests and mountains as well. I love seeing new places so this whole drive was just a treat.

This is just after we got off I-15. New parts of Utah!!

Our route from SLC to Seligman.

We stopped at about the halfway point in Kanab for gas and had to try the famous "ho-made pies" while we were there. Unfortunately, they weren't really worth the hype, and we ended up sitting in there for way too long for just pie and coffee. Luckily we weren't in a hurry, and it was a nice little break. 

We got back in the car and drove to Flagstaff, where we stopped at a BBQ place called Satchmo's for dinner. The food was really good and the place had a cool vibe too. It that made us feel like we could totally live in Flagstaff.

After dinner, we drove for about another hour west to Seligman, which is right on Route 66 and is the town the movie Cars is based on (according to our Hotel owner). There are a buch of old cars made up to look like characters from the movie so first thing in the morning we walked around to get pictures of them for the kids.

Our guide, Chelsea, from Pygmy Guides picked us up in her van at about 8am, along with two other women, a mother and daughter: Marcia and Tracy. They were all really cool and we had a great time spending the next 3 days with them!

We drove for about an hour and a half, out to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. At this trailhead you are able to drive down past the first layer into the canyon, which makes for a  shorter decent into the bottom so that's nice. But the view from the top was still breathtaking!

Our guide had some horses that they packed most of our stuff in on, and also nice backpacks for us to wear and put our day supplies in (basically our swimsuits, sandals, water and snacks). We got started at around 10am.

The hike down was really not bad at all. It's slightly steep for the first mile and a half with switchbacks, but after that it's just a pretty flat walk on dirt and gravel. We stopped every two miles for a short break and at the halfway point for lunch, where Chelsea got out delicious sandwich fixin's and chips for us. Man, it was so luxurious having a guide! It was also SO much easier to hike without kids! It was just a lovely day and the whole walk down was just breathtakingly beautiful! I felt like I couldn't look up enough at the canyon walls that were surrounding us, growing taller and closer as we walked. 

At mile 6 or 7, we reached the water! We changed into our sandals and cooled off a bit. I also dipped my shirt in and put it back on, and that felt really nice since it was getting pretty hot! 

At about mile 8, we got to the village where we went into the little cafe and enjoyed some lemonade, air conditioning and real bathrooms for a few minutes before continuing on.

Chelsea explained that they call these two rocks the mother and father of the village. They look completely different from opposite sides of the village.

After about a mile we got to the first waterfall and I was just blown away. This is technically called Navajo Falls, but Chelsea called it Rock falls because there is another Navajo falls just above it that we got to see the next day, and this is less confusing. As we were passing, we saw a guy getting ready to jump off, so we stopped and watched. I wondered if I would dare do such a thing. 

Words can not describe the beauty.

We walked down a little more before ariving at the most famous of the waterfalls, Havasupai Falls. The blue water here is just amazing. So unreal! 

We continued on a little farther to the campground where there was already a camp set up for us. Again, so luxurious!! It was in a nice spot, right by the blue-green river with the red cliffs towering over us.

This is what my watch said when we got there. So it took us about 6 hours. I don't know if I trust that 12.51 miles, though, everyone knows it's a 10 mile hike.

We dropped our stuff off, changed into our swimsuits and went back up to Havasupai Falls to swim. It was a little chilly since the valley was now in full shade, especially standing in the spray of the falls (as you can tell by my face in this picture)!

The pool at the base of the waterfall is pretty deep so it was fun to swim in, and you could feel the power of the waterfall pushing at you even at the edge. 

After we felt like we had explored that area enough getting pretty cold and excited to get back into dry clothes, we went back to our camp. Chelsea was making fajitas for dinner and it was really good! I felt so spoiled. Our campground was so nice, and these cute little frogs would hop through every once and a while.

The next day we packed some water, snacks and our camera and hiked down to see Moonie Falls. This one is really tall! Almost 100 feet, and it's morbidly named after a miner who tried to rappel down on too short of a rope and ended up falling to his death.

Do we look touristy enough? I'm happy to report that with the hat and longsleeves, I managed to avoid getting burnt the whole trip!

It was a fun adventure getting down there because you have to go through this tunnel that was blasted out of the rock many years ago. Then down some rickety stairs with chains to hold onto. It was all wet and slippery to make it even better! There was a girl (not little - probably collage age) in front of us who was really scared and it took her a while to get down. That made me more nervous for her than climbing down myself. But everyone made it down safely! 

Once we were down there we went on and explored another little break-off canyon called Fern Canyon, I think, if I'm remembering correctly. It was pretty in a different way, with all the green ferns and rocks with tiny waterfalls. It was so peaceful there, I really liked it! 

Then we headed back to the main river where we swam and played around in a section a little ways down from Moonie Falls. There was a smaller waterfall where I was able to swim in place at its base because of how strong the current was. That was fun! I wished I had brought goggles so I could have stay in longer.

We walked back up to the base of Moonie Falls to take more pictures before heading back up the old, rickety ladders. 

Favorite picture of the trip. <3 font="">

We stopped back at camp for lunch and a little break, then walked up to Rock Falls. Pete wanted to jump off this since we had seen that guy do it on the way in. We asked Chelsea if it was ok to jump (deep enough, and we wouldn't get pushed under by the waterfall, i.e. SAFE) and she told us right where to jump from. Again, so nice to have the guide for that! She even took pictures for us!

Here I am getting ready to jump. The photo of me actually jumping didn't come out too well, so you just have to trust me. :)

I can not believe I jumped! And I didn't even stand there deliberating it for too long either. That's the trick to jumping off cliffs, you don't think - just jump!

After jumping off twice, (and skinning my knee on a rock while swimming back the second time) we went up to Navajo Falls (sadly, my camera died just before this!) and just took it all in for a while before heading back to camp for a nice spaghetti dinner.

I slept so good that night, and Chelsea made sure we were up at 5am to eat, pack up and leave by 6am. This was so nice because we were in the shade for most of the hike out. I don't think we were in the sun until the last 2 miles. Of course the last little bit is the hardest and was also the hottest! It was cool watching all the horses run up and down the canyon. 

We got to the top at about noon and had sandwiches at the van before driving back to Seligman. 

What a wonderful trip! I can not wait to go do it again someday!

Pete and I drove to Las Vegas where we stayed at the Red Rock Hotel. We stayed there for 2 nights to relax, go to the spa, and eat some good food before driving back home. I love our little trips! Honestly, anywhere we go together has been so much fun, but Havasupai Falls was extra special and I will never forget it!