Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Hobbler

What do I look like when I am running, crying, and clapping at the same time?
Oh hey, thanks to my dad, now we know!

Wow, fabulous.
But you know what, that is one of my favorite pictures right now.

I mentioned that fabulous half marathon I ran with my son Jacob.  He is 10 years old.  Ten!  The thought of running 13 miles would never ever have even crossed my mind when I was 10, and he just did it!  That picture is from the finish, when he saw the finish line and took off like a shot.  This was me a few seconds behind him cheering him in.  It was such an amazing moment.

It's been a couple of weeks since this race, I tend to stink at recapping lately.

Both Alaina (11) and Jacob mentioned a number of months ago that they wanted to do a half marathon or even a marathon this year.  Knowing people who started running marathons early, I would be willing to entertain that possibility for them, but I wanted them to start appropriately and not just try to jump in to that.  After mulling it over with Aaron, I told them that we would agree to them running a half this year, but would not register them until they had run at least five miles.  Running 3 or 4 seems to be ok for them but I needed to know they would work to get past that point and continue to the point of readiness for a longer distance.

I had been eyeing the Hobbler Half for it's timing and course, I've heard good things about this race (aside from the uphill at the end.  mean.), and it's in a beautiful place.  It's a canyon race but not nearly as steep as the one I ran in June, so I figured it would be a nice easy run to start with.

Jacob passed the 5 mile mark and decided he wanted to keep going, so we signed him up.

There was some serious excitement as we counted down to race day, but he had a hard time keeping up with some of the runs.  I didn't push him to stick to a schedule because it was becoming a chore and I didn't want that for him.  He still kept up with decent runs, a couple of shorter runs each week and a longer run on the weekend, but I think it helped him to not feel like he *had* to go run exactly this mileage on this day.  We hit a couple of snags in the time leading up to the race and his long runs didn't quite happen as we had planned, but I knew if I could get him to 10mi he would be ok.
It wasn't until the week before the race that he hit the 10mi mark, and he struggled through the first couple of miles of that run-he did not like getting up super early to get that in, but by the end of the run he was absolutely cruising and loving it!  (I posted a little clip on the Facebook page if you missed it)
(after his first double digit run)
I knew he was ready for the race.

Based on his time running 10 miles, I figured he would be able to run pretty close to the 2hr mark in the half, especially with a downhill course.  

It's a good thing I had gotten him up a little early for the 10 miler, because race day was really early. Yikes.
(when I see these kinds of numbers on my alarm clock, I question my sanity)
He was nervous and quiet on the bus ride to the start.  or maybe he was just half asleep still.  
Things started on a high note with the start line festivities including Jacob winning a free entry for next year's race because he was the youngest runner there!  He frequently talks about "next year when I run Hobbler...".  Makes me smile.
This is us at the start-and I just now realized that my cousins photobombed the background!  ha!  The guy with dark hair in the middle at the top is my cousin, the girl in the bright green tank behind me is my other cousin's wife.  And there is one more hiding behind my big head.  Hi Shawnie! Sorry my head is hiding your cute face!  I had forgotten they were running till we saw them there that morning.  Always fun to see people you know.  

We started out with the 2:10 pacer, I want him to learn early to go out easy and build up as the race goes.  The first couple of miles he had a great pace and there were a handful of times when I suggest that he slow things down just a little bit and see how he felt about speeding up in another mile or so.

He continued along fabulously, and by mile 5 we were right near the 2:00 pacer.

At about mile 6 I suggested he fuel up, he told me he felt fine and wasn't hungry.  I made him eat anyway!  The last thing I wanted was for him to crash near the end, I wanted to keep him feeling good through the whole race.

One thing I did not expect about this course-especially because it is a canyon course-was that it was rolling!  It was super pretty up there.
I expected some parts of it to flatten out as just about every other canyon does, but I had not looked closely at the elevation chart to see that it rolls up and down quite a bit for most of the middle miles.  I worried that it would burn Jacob out, but that boy just kept on trucking.

I continually asked him "is this pace ok for you?" and "are you feeling ok still?"  and it was always an enthusiastic "Yep!" in reply.

He was asked continually along the course "how old are you?!"  by anyone we passed, and both spectators and other runners cheered him on the entire time.  It was so fun!  And it really kept him perked up even as it started getting warm and he was getting a little tired by the end.

One of my favorite moments of the day was around mile 11.  It was really warming up at that point, we were both sweating buckets, and all around us people were slowing to walk and catch their breath.  As we kept on just running by, many of them watching this young kid in disbelief, he randomly shouted "wow-I LOVE running!  And I'm born to be a runner-it's in my blood!"  Totally cracked me up!
We weren't stopping at every aid station for a drink, though I did really encourage him to hit every other one.  He decided he didn't want to walk through them, explaining to me instead that it was more efficient to keep running, throw the water at his face while holding his mouth open, and get a combination quick drink/face cool down all at the same time.  Whatever works!  I slowed to walk at mile 12 to grab a water cup and had to pick it up to catch up to him again!  Aside from a few steps at a couple of aid stations, he didn't walk at all!
The boy was in his groove and just truckin'.

The uphill that comes after mile 12 is tricky.  He was tired and I could tell it was getting harder for him to hold his pace, but he kept on.  He talked himself through it (out loud), with a lot of "I can do this.  I can do this.  Come on legs, don't stop yet, we're almost there!"  I hope that everyone around us found it as entertaining and motivating as I did and wasn't annoyed by it.

Once we turned the corner at the top of that hill it was a nice little downhill stretch to the finish line in a park.  We turned, then made the turn into the park.  Once he saw that finish  He found a fire in him that blew me away!  He picked up his pace and just flew through that last little bit!  It was amazing!

I am SO glad my parents were there so that I have these pictures, they are priceless!

Look at that determination!
(There are some other super awesome finish line pics of him here, outgunning some guy for the finish!  You can search by his bib number 1298.)
I was totally blown away that he made the sub 2, he finished at 1:55:30!  SO awesome!
The guys MC-ing the event were great, since they had made such a big deal about Jacob being the youngest runner at the beginning I snagged them at the finish to let them know how great he did, and they pulled him up on stage to celebrate.  Plus he won an awesome electric toothbrush for it.  He loved it.
He got to relive the spotlight when they did the age group awards, this time obliging the requested victory dance.  So funny.
It was such a treat to run this race with him, for a number of reasons.
It's always awesome to do something great with your kids. It's always awesome to watch them thrive.
It was even better to see the excitement in his face and the sense of accomplishment he felt from this.  He struggles to focus in a lot of areas, he gets sidetracked and distracted very easily and that frustrates him.  For him to have found the focus and determination to do something like this and not only follow it through to the end but to blow away everyone's expectations was such a boost to him!

 And of course he still had energy to go play in the bounce house and on the slide after running his first half marathon in under two hours.
  Crazy kid.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jiggystick (a giveaway)

Have you heard of Jiggystick?

I hadn't until a couple of months ago either, but this has quickly become a new favorite of mine and I have been anxious to share it with you!

I saw Jiggystick lip balms and Jiggybar lotion bars featured on one of those daily deal sites and it caught my eye.  I'm a sucker for a good lip balm, and have a couple of friends who have sung the praises  lotion bars, so I looked into it a little.
I went to their website and read about their products, their company, and their purpose.  

First, I was thrilled that it was a local company.  (ok, local is relative since I live in the sticks.)  Jiggystick is up in Cache Valley, just a couple of hours from me where some of my extended family happens to live.  Bonus point number one.
Then I read about their purpose.  That's what really got me.  In March of 2008 their beautiful 15yr old daughter Jocie tragically passed away in a skiing accident.  Turning to keeping bees to provide some level of comfort while mourning this heartbreaking loss, the first harvest of honey also brought a harvest of beeswax.  Jocie, who was known by the nickname "Jiggy" always carried lip balm with her...thus in her memory the all natural beeswax lip balm Jiggystick was born.
You can read more about them and the awesome good that they continue to do for others here.

After learning more about them, I couldn't pass up the chance to try this out.

I have to be honest, the products looked fantastic, the flavors of the lip balms especially, but I am very picky so I figured if they didn't live up to my pickiness that I'd just pass them on to my kids who seem to have inherited my need for lip balm.  I've been a pretty die hard Burt's Bees (pomegranate!) lip balm fan for a couple of years now, so that's ALL I have used for quite some time and I love it.  Jiggystick really had to wow me.

The package arrived quickly and was packaged wonderfully.  I don't know about you but I am a sucker for great packaging.
And the product itself...well, let's just say I have a new lip balm that resides in my purse and that has already been repurchased as a gift for friends.  I seriously love their products!  The Coconut Lime and Raspberry Lemonade lip balms are my current favorites.  They are awesome!
The Jiggybars didn't disappoint either-Mango Splash and Coconut Lemongrass are the two I have tried and they are wonderful!  Coconut Lemongrass is my favorite summer scent, so I instantly fell in love with that.  I tucked that away in my Ragnar bag last month too, and got comments about smelling fabulous after running and sitting in a van for a ridiculous amount of time.  Now that's impressive.

So now, I want you to experience the goodness-
I have a set of five lip balms that one of you will win!
But it gets better.
When I contacted Jiggystick to let them know that I loved their products and was purchasing some to giveaway to you lovely people, they threw in more for you!  
Someone wins the set of lip balms from me, and someone else wins a set of two Jiggybars and five lip balms from Jiggystick!  How awesome are they?

Allrighty, to get in on this goodness, enter below via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All the regular rules apply, all entries will be verified.  If a winner is chosen that has not actually completely the entry, a new winner will be chosen.  Giveaway runs till 11:59pm MST on Monday Aug 5th, winner will be announced Aug 6th.  Prizes provided by Jiggystick and myself, I was not paid or compensated for my opinion which is fully my own.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meeting Tony Romo and other randomness

Yes, I met Tony Romo last week.

Ohmygoodness, isn't he adorable?!

My older brother is getting another dog so that his sweet lab Ruby (who started out as our sweet lab Ruby many years ago, long story) isn't so lonely.  His other lab Georgia passed away a while ago.  Anyway, Ruby's new buddy is Tony Romo, the great dane.  This puppy is 5wks old here people!  He is going to be HUGE!

A couple of days ago day by the time 10am rolled around I was tired of being asked "Can we play the Wii?", "Can we watch a movie?", and "Can I play on the computer?" so I instituted a no screens day.  It was fabulous.  Although my 6yr old did think he was going to die at first.  "If I can't do any of those things then there is nothing to do!"  Seriously son?  These things weren't even an option me when I was a kid and obviously I survived.  The good news is that within a reasonable amount of time they all got over it.  We had that 6yr old making cookies (thankfully it was a cool stormy day), kids playing Lego games, dress-ups, a game of soccer, and all sorts of other random goodness that lasted the rest of the day.  I have a friend who does Technology free Tuesdays and I'm thinking it's time to institute that here!  A few days of being lax with these things and the kids seem to have forgotten how to actually play.

Please wear a helmet when you ride a bike.  My younger brother got hit by a car recently while riding his bike.  The driver didn't even see him, so no slowing down.  She hit him hard enough to send him flying over two lanes-thankfully devoid of traffic at that moment!  Miraculously he got away with broken ribs, whiplash, a hip injury and lots of scrapes and bruises.  He was certainly being watched over!  The kicker is that he was hit so hard that his helmet blew off his head upon impact.  Can you imagine if he hadn't had it on?!  I know none of us wore them as kids, but wear one now.  And be the mean parent who makes your kids wear them.  Please.

I started a new fitness challenge.  I am participating with a group doing the new Shaun T. (of Insanity fame) workout called Focus T25.  I needed some cross training and strength training to sprinkle into my marathon training, and though I love P90x, I just don't have enough hours in the day for that right now. I figured I could throw in a 25min workout a day and it would be a fabulous little supplement.  
Except it's kicking my trash. 
I have sold myself this great lie that because I can go out and run 16-20mi on a Saturday morning without worrying about it that I'm in good shape.  Nope.  I may have good endurance right now, but I am feeling every weak spot in my body with these workouts.  And there are a lot more than I care to admit.  Not to mention the food side of things.  Yikes.  I love food so much!  Though I really do eat fairly well most of the time, cleaning up my eating and cutting out any extra junk has been a little challenging.  I'm stuck in that place of really wanting it just because I can't have it.  I hate that place.  60 days of this will do me good.  

I still need to recap Ragnar.  And that incredibly amazing half marathon that I ran with my ten year old last week.  Still blown away by that boy!  I know, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you already saw a bunch of pictures, but there are more.  There's always more!  After that all you non-running people can breath a sigh of relief because there is nothing else race related on the schedule until the Hood to Coast trip in a month.  One month!!  Can't believe it's so close!

I just found out the blog has been nominated for Circle of Mom's Top 25 Big Family Blogs again this year.  If you would love to humor me and vote for it, feel free to go HERE and click on the little vote circle next to Random Thoughts From the Zoo.  There's only two days left to vote, so go crazy and vote today AND tomorrow.  Live on the edge!  No signing up, signing in, giving info...nada.  Just click and done!  No exciting prizes or anything for landing in the Top 25, but I'm at #28 right now, and, well, since a handful of votes bumps me up like 5 spots, that would be awesome wouldn't it?  

Did you win the Nuun?  No?  No worries, next giveaway is coming up in just a couple of days!  Something new that I found recently and love, you'll love it too.  Promise.   All of you.  

I'm going back to the basement now.  Aaron's position at work is changing which allows him to now work from home.  Beyond excited for that!  Not to mention the extra 2hrs he will have in his day now that he doesn't have to commute.  A little nervous he'll get sick of being around all day every day, but super excited to have him here.  Him working from home means he needs an office in which to work, which means we have been rearranging kids and repainting bedrooms and most importantly-cleaning out!  Painting is all done, kids' beds are moved into their new rooms, but everything else they own is packed into the family room right now.  It's astounding.  And ridiculous.  I took pictures.  I may share them.  Or I may delete them so I can pretend my house never looked the way it has for the past few days.  Now I have to go back down and start digging through it and making a few ginormous piles to donate and toss, and smaller piles to keep.  Seriously, how do we end up with so much stuff?!  It may honestly take me the rest of the week to sort through everything.  But it will be such a fabulous end result that it's totally worth it, right?  

Happy Monday!  I hope your house is significantly less messy than mine is.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Attempting blogging from the phone in order to announce the Nuun giveaway winner.  I'm at an amusement park spinning till I nearly puke and feeling older than I ever have before.  Still laughing my head off on the roller coasters though, so that's a good sign.   

Since I'm all Tilt-a-Whirled out, I've handed that duty over to my brother.  Uncles are more fun than moms anyway, right? 

Anyway-the lucky reader who will hydrating with a 4pack of Nuun is....

I want to try the strawberry lemonade, yumm!

Congrats Jennifer!  

Even if you aren't Jennifer, you can still hook yourself up with some Nuun fabulousness at 15% off using code hydrateHTC.  It's hot out there, stay hydrated!  Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You want Nuun (a giveaway)

^That^ says it right there.  You want Nuun.  Really you do.
Nuun in superfantastic.  It really has made a difference in my running.

Now wait!  Don't go skipping away if you aren't a runner!  This is for you too!
Yep, Nuun has something for everyone and today is your chance to win it.  Read on.

First, what the heck is it?
 Everyone has tried those sticky sweet sports drinks.  Blech.  This is *not* that.  When I first jumped into triathlon and running I used those.  Inevidibly I ended up with a not so happy stomach.   But I needed more than just water because I sweat.  A lot.  Like my face crusts with salt and my dogs insist on licking my legs after a run.  Yes, I know I'm gross.
It was about then that I was first introduced to Nuun.  A little tablet to mix with 16oz of water, packed with electrolytes, not loaded with sugar (no sugar at all!), lots of flavors to choose from...what did I have to lose?

It did not disappoint.  Not only did it taste better than the alternatives, I felt better using it.  No more stick stomach!  Better hydration meant better recovery, better recovery meant better running!
Thus began my love of Nuun.
And the creation of the Nuun drawer.

See?  I'm not kidding when I tell you I love it.
Though that's probably obvious considering that I applied to as a part of the Nuun team of bloggers running Hood to Coast in August.  44 days!  If you're counting. (missed that video?  check it out HERE)
I'm super pumped to now officially be a Nuun ambassador too!

But like I said, this is not just for athletes, or those of us aspiring athletes who sweat like a pig.
Nuun really does have something for everyone.

All you dehydrated people out there, listen up!
Don't think you're one of those?  Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?  As someone who has always been a big water drinker that seemed ridiculous to me until some friends and I were doing a fitness challenge.  Some of them were struggling with getting 32 oz of water a day!  And I was blown away at the number who said they hated drinking water or they were bored with water or they just didn't like the taste.
Daytime fatique anyone?  Dehydration is the number one cause.  Let's fix that.

 Nuun Active Hydration is perfect for us sweaty folks.  Packed with electrolytes, it helps alleviate cramps, helps muscle fatigue, puts back all those things you're sweating out.  It makes the perfect sports drink.  And it comes in 14 flavors!  Banana, Orange, Lemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Kona Cola, Lemon Tea, Tri-Berry, Grape, Tropical, Citrus Fruit, Cherry Limeade, Watermelon and Lemonade.

My current favorites:
Tropical, Strawberry Lemonade, and Lemonade.
(yes, I really do keep these stashed in my purse.)

For those of you who aren't as disgusting as me, check out U Natural Hydration.

Optimal for those less intense activities.  All natural, sweetened with stevia, only 7 calories per tab.  4 awesome flavors of U Natural Hydration; Cucumber Mint, Goji Berry Green Tea, Tangerine Ginger and Lemon Chai.

Wrapping up the line up is Nuun All Day.
Don't ride the roller coaster of sugary and caffeinated drinks all day.  Seriously.  Knock it off. You know they are wreaking havoc on you so it's time to dump them!  This is an awesome alternative.  Zero sugar, under 8 calories per tab, 17 vitamins and minerals, and fabulous flavor for those of you who just don't love or are bored with plain water.  Nuun All Day comes in Grapefruit Orange, Tangerine Lime, Blueberry Pomegranate and Grape Raspberry.  Yum.

Now it's your turn to snag some for yourself.
Up for grabs is a four-pack of your choice!  And while you're waiting to find out if you won, snag some at 15% off using the discount code hydrateHTC!

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.
- Tell me what you'd love to try!  Already a Nuun lover?  Which one is your favorite? (one entry)
- Follow me on Twitter, leave a comment with your twitter handle. (one entry)
-Follow Nuun on Twitter (one entry)
- Like Random Thoughts From the Zoo on Facebook.  (one entry)
-Share the giveaway post from the Random Thoughts from the Zoo fb page! (one entry)
-Follow the blog, or let me know you're already a follower (one entry)
-Share the giveaway on Twitter, linking up to it.  Feel free to tweet it on your own, or just copy this: "You want Nuun.  Win it from @Cateydid " (one entry per day, please leave the link to your tweet in the comment.)

TONS of ways to win, so get to entering!

(Giveaway ends at 11:59pm Monday July 15th, winner will announced by Wednesday July 17th.  Prize provided by Nuun, opinion and sweaty grossness provided by me.  And seriously, stop loading yourself with the sugary caffeinated junk.  No bueno.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The beginning, the end, and one full month

It's tradition here (just like it is for everyone else) to do first and last day of school pictures.  Except I just don't bother to do all of the cute little pinterest signs that everyone else does now.  Digital file = date tagging = close enough for me.

Thankfully unlike last year, this year did not include an hour of frustration trying to track down kids (or one kid in particular) in attempt to take the darn picture.  It also did not include crazy five day postpartum mom which helped immensely.  

The beginning: 
And since Emily was still asleep for that picture, one with her:
Hey, Sam stood in the line for one of them, even if he was in pajamas.  I take what I can get!  

And the end...note not only how the kids have grown, but how Lincoln's obsession with that shirt continued and how the girls just didn't care as much as they did in the beginning of the school year.  oh well.  All kids, no pjs, and I caught Emily before she ran out of the picture.  Good enough!

It's hard to believe we have already made it through the first month of summer.  We don't even have two full months left!  On the one hand I am super excited for the end of August to get here-that means it will be time for Hood to Coast with the Nuun team!  Oh the other hand, it means that school will be starting and summer will be over.  So not cool.

We are soaking up every minute of summer that we can get!  The kids are off on various adventures with each other and with friends.  We got a little brave and let Malia go away to Colorado for the weekend with a friend.  I love that her friend's mom sent us this picture.
She travels as well as I do!  Don't worry, I have picture proof of me coming up soon too.

Our four older boys went with my parents to Oregon for a weekend.  People are growing up all over the place!

We've had four fabulous weeks of summer vacation so far.
Four weeks of beautiful mornings,
and twilight performances in the back yard.
Of lazy mornings in mom and dad's bed,
and story time in the pop up tent.
We also fit two dogs in there with us.  It was cozy.

Weeks of learning new things, like how to do our signature two thumbs up pose,
how to give foot/leg rubs (never too early to learn!)
and learning that your dad can still rock a drum set.

There have been adventures like scout camp, 
and thankfully only one injury so far-a head wound at 9:30 on a Sunday night.  Dallin vs the corner of the kitchen counter.  Between a lot of pressure and a lot of prayer we were able to avoid a trip to the ER for stitches!

And of course the summer time favorites. 
Like Family BBQ's, and seeing my baby brother who I haven't seen for a couple of years (years people!)

(I swear those Cheetos were not mine.  Ew.)

chalk drawings

more play in the giant inflatable ball

and almost daily pool time for the water babies.  Soaking up every second of summer.  

And though sick days stink, especially during summer, snuggling makes it a little better.

Only 50ish days left.  Planning to enjoy every single one!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ogden - the end

Turns out I forgot to hit publish on this baby.
Just one more post on this one and then I'll stop.
Really.  Because there is so much more life to cover!

It's been well over a month of digesting this marathon.

All things considered, I should be thrilled with how things went.
And really, I'm mostly happy with it.  I am.
But it has left me wanting more.

It's frustrating when you know you are capable of more than you were able to give.
It's hard to have spent months in preparation only to not have all of that come to fruition.

I am thrilled I made it to the start line.  I am pleased with my finish time, which I realize I never shared,  4:01:57.
Gotta be honest, it kills me that it was so stinkin' close to sub 4 but just not quite there.
Overall finish of 947 out of 2531, 347 out of 1208 Women, and 80 out of 246 age group.

I did end up with my second blister ever from running, a reminder that running for hours in wet socks and shoes isn't optimal.  But all toenails were still blissfully happy and intact.  And really-one blister after 4 hours/26 miles in soggy shoes?!  That's pretty fantastic.

On the flip side, no matter how awesome the product is that you use to avoid chafing (2Toms Sportshield is the very best btw), you will chafe when spending that much time and distance in wet clothes, even if you have tested out your clothing choice multiple times to make sure it's the right one.

I guess the good news is that I hadn't even noticed these spots until I climbed in the hot shower to try and stop my post race shivering?

So what did I learn from all of this?

-I trained well, and had a good base before officially starting training.  Having those extra months of mileage building really did help me.  My body held up really well, no injuries, and I felt strong throughout this training cycle.
-I very much enjoy and prefer running in cool temperatures.  38* and raining and I was perfectly comfortable (temperature wise) in a tank and skirt and sleeves.  Even though they were wet.
-I am a strong runner.  I may not be a particularly fast runner, but my body holds up well over distance. I really enjoy being out there for the long run and my body responds well.  (Hmm....Ultra anyone?!?)
-Spring marathons are the best/worst.  Awesome motivation to keep mileage and workouts up over the winter.  Running in single digit temps and snow sucks.  But running 18mi through slushy snow during this training cycle made running 26 in rain not seem so bad.  While you never know what weather will do, odds are more likely that it will not be ideal in the spring here.
-Race day is always a crap shoot.  You can't ever predict how the weather will be.  Or what your body will do.  Or how your mind will react.  You do your best and work hard, but there are no guarantees.
-I am enthralled and enchanted with the marathon.  Partly for the reasons above-you just never know how it's going to go.  Which is odd because I have always been such a type A, play it safe kind of person.  Funny how things change.  But also partly because of the amazing feeling when you think about the fact that you just ran that reminds you of just how many amazing things you are capable of.  It taps into a place inside that opens up all sorts of strength.
-Running is a gift.  It is a privilege to get out there with a strong, capable body (even when it isn't 100%) and soak up the beauty of the world around me.  It is a privilege to be surrounded by the energy of a couple thousand people who are as crazy as, and crazier than myself.
-There are so many good people out there.  Spectators, Volunteers, and other runners all played a part in reminding me again how much good there really is in the world.
-I am capable of more than I thought.  In the past I have had ideas of what my PR goals could/should be, but now I am seeing that more is possible.  It's ok to aim high, and sometimes it's ok to fall short of that.  You have to take the bad with the good.  Obviously it should be kept realistic, but pushing myself to work harder, to train smarter, and to eventually run faster is something I can do.

Less than 100 days till I get the opportunity to see how it pays off.

Hopefully things will go better in October than they did in May.  Hopefully I can hit the goals I have set for myself.  But if not, as long as I appreciate the experience and enjoy the adventure, it will still be well worth it.

Get out and live!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Drop 13, race redemption

Oh my goodness...where does one even begin on a race that was totally unexpected.

I have been looking forward to this race for a long time.  I've only run two half marathons, and have always felt the need to disclaimer them when asked my finish times.  With the first one it was my first double digit run, and I really hadn't trained.  It was the beginning of my love of not being completely type A when it comes to running.  It's good for me.  The second one was last September, when Emily had just turned 3 months old.  While I ran decently considering where I was at that point as far as training (or lack thereof) and recovering from giving birth to my ninth child, the end result wasn't what I wanted it to be.
I knew that after training all winter for a marathon I'd be in a good place to bag a killer new half PR.

Now, I will also feel the need to disclaimer this race result with the fact that it was a downhill race, but holy smokes, the fact that I can claim this finish time as mine is surreal to me still.

A couple of things just went super right for me.
I knew that no matter how I did, unless something crazy happened and I crashed and burned and walked this sucker, odds were very highly in my favor for a new PR.
Since I hadn't spent months with this in mind as an A race, I put so much less pressure on myself than I had for Ogden.
It was a cool morning.
Running Big Cottonwood canyon has been something I have wanted to do since June 23, 2010.  This race was a 3yr strong wish, and it made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning to get to realize that wish.

A little ridiculous that I know that date?  perhaps.   On that morning I ran 3 miles (well, mostly ran).  I was 31ish weeks pregnant with Sam.  That afternoon we took the kids up this canyon to Aaron's family cabin to do some hiking around, wanting to get some summer fun in because we were on a week by week watch of my pregnancy and Sam's condition and honestly didn't know how many days of summer we would have available to go out and do things before his arrival.
As we were driving up the canyon that day we passed a man running down.  He had the biggest smile on his face!  I felt those instant pangs of runner envy...I wanted to be running down that canyon with a big grin plastered on my face!  I turned to Aaron and told him that I wanted to run down the canyon.  He told me I was crazy.  I agreed.  There are some curves in that road that would make it risky, especially if a driver wasn't paying attention.  I put the hope in the back of my mind, knowing that if I was ever able to do that it certainly wasn't going to be any time soon.
So when I found out that people were starting races that ran down the canyon last year I was beyond excited!  I missed the Big Cottonwood event last September, as it sold out before I jumped on the opportunity.  I wasn't about to let that pass me by again.

This event, the Drop 13 Half, was perfect timing for my "let's do this!" half marathon.
The race is named Drop 13 not only because of the drop in elevation as you run the 13 miles, but because in addition to the finish medal they offer a medal for dropping 13 minutes off your previous PR, and one for dropping 13 pounds during your training for the race.  (you had the option of putting your weight on the registration form, then there was a weigh in after the race)  Awesome idea.

I knew I'd have a little help thanks to the downhill, so in looking at my recent paces I decided I'd aim high for a 1:45 finish.  I knew I had that sub-2hr finish in me, I just hoped I had a lot more in there as well.

And this little thought kept popping up for me in the week leading up to the marathon.

I needed a redemption race and I wanted this to be it.

The morning started early.
With race start at 6:00am, it meant bus loading started at 4:30.
I live about an hour away.
Which yes, meant I had to leave my house by 3:30 in the morning.
Which means I had to get up even earlier.
I suppose this is proof that runners are insane.

Friday night meant the pre-race/long run failsafe meal for me:

Pizza and lemonad Nuun.  
Yep, pizza.  

I was all taped up, clothes were out (the 10k PR get up-maybe I am getting superstitious?).

The alarm was set. 

I met a friend at 4am up in Salt Lake and we headed to the race together.  I was such a treat to have company!  And I learned a neat little trick from her-taping might need (or will need!) meds to the back of your race bib.  For those who always have the failsafe dose of Immodium or Ibuprofen with them on race day, this could be handy.

It was chilly up in the canyon, colder than most of us had expected.  But I knew that within a few miles it would feel perfect.  And it did.

It was an amazing race.  It was a small race, which I have come to really love.  While feeding off the energy of a crowd is fun, being able to run your own race in your own space is so appealing to me lately!
Things were very well organized, especially for a first time race, and the only complaint I heard from anyone all day was that there were only 10 porta potties at the start, which made for some super long lines since the busses all left at the same time instead of heading up the canyon as they filled.

My only snafu came when while standing at the start line I turned on my ipod.  I am a music runner.  Though I often find my mind wandering and that I'm not even aware of the music on, I like to have it.  Plus in breaking down my race plan I had coordinated it with my playlist.  That way if I was in enough of a mental daze (good or bad) and I couldn't recall my numbers (It seemed too looming to write them on my arm), I would know what song I was supposed to be at or have not heard yet to be on pace.
I turned the switch to on, and heard the oh so lovely "battery low" warning.  Dangit!  Having had the thing plugged in the day before, I was not happy.  I realized that one of the kids must have unplugged it and that I should've listened to the gut feeling of "check the battery" the night before.  But it was too late now, so there was no point in dwelling on it.  I decided I would run without music until the last mile or two, hoping that if I needed a little push to help keep the pace the battery would be enough for that last little bit.

I decided I would run just behind the 1:45 pacers, having been reminded in Ogden that I really don't like the feel of running in the pack around a pacer.  This race was small enough that it wasn't much of an issue, there were only half a dozen people with that pacer, so I started to move up a little as things got underway.

I decided I would rein it in a tad the first couple of miles and then just let it go and run this baby.

It was amazing.  The complete joy that I saw on that runner's face 3yrs ago as he flew down the canyon was still short of the happy wave I was riding.

So many awesome memories in this canyon!
Most notably my first date with Aaron.
Such a beautiful place!

If you have a minute check out some of the race photos HERE to catch a peek.  Amazing.

I soaked up every second, completely giddy, feeling amazing, and surprised at what I saw when I dared peek down at my pace.

Especially considering that I was running without music, I was thrilled!

I rode that high until I hit the mouth of the canyon, just a couple of miles from the finish.  After the last real downhill stretch I dared turn on the ipod, which very appropriately started up with Best Day of my Life.  So perfect.  So fitting.  So happy.

Next up, Live Like a Warrior.  A song that didn't quite suck me in the first time I heard it but has become one I love.  And just happened to have the perfect beat to keep me on pace through that last little bit.

I continued to push through the end, blown away with how much I was loving this and how quickly I was moving-I'm not used to that pace at all!

I crossed the last street and rounded the corner into street that led into the office complex where the race finished.  I knew I was close.  And then I realized that the 1:40 pacer was walking right in front of me.  She turned to me and said "One tenth.  You're there.  Go get it!"
I thought that I was still just a hair in front of the 1:45 pacer, so to have caught up with 1:40 was unexpected.  Knowing that they were pacing to bring you in about a minute before what their assigned pace was the little fire I needed to find a kick and fly in to the finish.  I came around the last bend to see the finish line.  And the clock just hitting 1:38.
I probably looked like a goon running in to the finish with the smile that erupted out of me.  To hit 1:30 something?!  Never on my goal list, never even on my radar!
The plan vs what happened.  You see how I'm all high tech?  Scribbling on envelopes and coupons is the way to go.  6:02 pace sprint to the finish?  what?

1:38:20.  Unreal.

The friend I ran with?  She not only nabbed her sub-2, but also first place in her Age Group-by a whopping TEN minutes!!  Way to kill it Alison!

Finish line food was great, and the bling was fun too.  I nabbed the Drop 13 minutes medal (taking nearly 24 minutes off my previous PR!), and they ended up doing a PR medal as well for those who hit a new PR even if not by 13 minutes.

I am excited to run this canyon again in September.  The course for that race doesn't start as high in the canyon so it is only 7-8mi of canyon running and then continuing down into the Salt Lake valley.  I am excited to see how I do on that one vs this one.

I am excited to run this race again in the future as well.  I would very highly recommend it!  Kudos to On Hill Events for an amazing event!