Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay - 5th year, more success, and a whole lot of gratitude

Holy cow!  Have I really been doing this particular event for 5 years now?  I had to go back and check.  I really thought I had done it SIX years and then realized I missed a year due to the kids getting married in SoCal.

This year was just as fun as ever! I've been with Legally Dead now for 6 years and we've done several relays together.  Not just Ragnar but Epic, Red Rock, and they did Hood2Co but I had to skip that one.  There is a core team of about 4 or 5 of us that are around each time but we always have new people filling spots each year.  This year, I got to have another daughter-in-love! I'm the luckiest duck!

We were van 2 so we really didn't need to starting until later in the morning, but we traditionally still meet as an entire team, and send off our first runner together.  This year, our start time was 5am, which means we had to be in Logan by about 4am, which means we had to leave SLC about 2am, which means we met at our Captain's house at about 1:15am, which means, I had about 2 hours of sleep to start off with.  Niiiiiiiiiice!

It was too dark to get a team pic at the start but Kar and I squeaked one with just the two of us.  After seeing Lisa take off on her first run, our van headed off to find breakfast and then the first exchange at Liberty.

(KarCat's yummy breakfast)

We no sooner got parked when the heavens opened up and the rain began to pour!  Holy smokes!  I kept thinking this has got to stop!  I was grateful that I wasn't in van 1 and having to run in this crap, but we all know how I feel about running in rain and cold so I was praying it would be done by the time our van started.

It let up after a few hours and we got out to check in, have our safety briefing and wander around the vendor booths.  It felt good to stretch out the legs, grab some free stuff but most importantly bump into fellow running friends like Carl, Andrea, Jeff and others for hugs and well wishes before we took off.
The scenery there in Liberty is gorgeous!

Karalee (KarCat) was our first runner and my girl did me proud!!  She rocked her first run and nothing makes me happier than seeing my kids come in from a run with a huge grin on their face!  She passed off to Don, who ran and passed off to Ellen, and then it was my turn.

My first run was a mere 5k.  I wondered how I was going to do.  Higher altitude.  Coming off rehab for the stress fracture.  First event since Boston.  I had no idea how it was going to play out.  I tried for something new and downloaded a metronome app. I put the cadence at 180 per minute, turned it up loud, and let the ear bud hang just tucked under my shoulder strap.  That way I could hear it, but not have it right in my ear.

I think I have a new best running friend tool.  I really liked it!  In fact, I was able to post my fastest 5k in a reeeeaaaallllly long time!

After I passed off to Wayne, we headed to the major exchange at Snowbasin and settled in for a bit of a wait.  Wayne's leg was long and hard.  He would pass off to Brenda who did a hard loop there at the ski resort so it was going to be awhile before we left there.  Time to get out, stretch our legs, wipe down, change clothes and chat with other runners.  It is so beautiful there that even though it was getting chilly, it was nice to be in the mountains and breathe that amazing air!

Once Brenda finished and handed off to the other van, we loaded up and headed to the next exchange.  Unfortunately, Wayne was dead sick.  Muscles cramping up and then the vomiting began.  Don slid into the drivers seat, we stopped for gas and a coke to see if that would help Wayne's stomach and then mad a bee line for the major exchange and the aid station.  Wayne was hoping a quick IV would set him right and we'd be on our way.  Instead, we were told that if he had an IV, he would be automatically DQ'd.  He wasn't having any of that, so instead he opted for some pepto bismal and some electrolyte tabs to see if that would be enough.  We found a spot on the grass but I was cold and exhausted with a headache starting.  I stayed in the van, took some medication and went to sleep.  If you've never slept in a van that's full of gear with no leg room, you should try it.  You basically hearken back to your inutero days and fetal position it.  All the while praying that IF you get some sleep that when you wake up and try to move that your legs will willingly unfold and actually work.

All too soon, we get the call that it's nearing our turn for our next legs.  It's getting dark.  Wayne is feeling better but we've all offered and figured out a back up plan just in case he isn't up to running.  Get Kar to the hand off area and away she goes!

Aaaaaannnnnddddddd.....repeat all over again.  Kar kills it, does a great job and hands off to Don.  I go back to sleeping.  I think I got another 20 minutes total when I hear Wayne tell me it's time to get ready.  Oh my gosh - it's cold, I'm so tired and I ask myself, "Why do I do this again?"  I opted for tights, long sleeve and my cool Nike reflective jacket.

And super fun finding my Andrea and Jeff again!

Once I take off, my legs remembered what to do and after a few turns in town, I am on the trail and running.  Couple of hiccups with this run.  First, I decided that since I would be out there an hour or more, I was going to enjoy it with tunes and not worry about time.  I turned on Pandora, but quickly realized I somehow ended up on a country station.  No flippin way was I going to do that for over an hour.  I changed stations to a running hits station I've listened to before there must be something different for the middle of the night.  Now, I'm no prude, I like all kinds of music, and not easily offended.  BUT HOLY SMOKES!  The lyrics!  Oh my freak!  I could feel the Holy Ghost running away from me as fast as He could and I really wanted time for good thoughts and mojo, so I stopped.  Took out my phone and changed stations to one I knew would be safe and have fun songs to sing along to.  After another stop for water and another one to tie my shoes, I gave up all hope of posting a decent time.  My headlamp wasn't super bright, and the road was uneven so I had slowed way down to avoid turning an ankle.  Meh.  It is what it is, and while not a terrible time for me, not a great one either.   I was just grateful to be done.

(and to the dude who passed me and complained that my jacket "blinded him".  HAH!)

The best part about nighttime runs?  The peace and solitude one gets with their thoughts.
The worst part about nighttime runs?  Once you're finished and cool down, the sweat turns cold and before you know it, you are chilled to the very bone and can't get warm.  I think I shivered for the next couple of hours while everyone else finished up their runs.  Wayne?  OF COURSE he ran his leg.  His hard leg.  Not a complaint, not a thought of resting and having someone else take it.  Nope.  The man gets out and RUNS!  I'm in awe.
(runner 12 - Brenda - gets a lot of sleep!)

(Poor Kar  - sleep for her)

Brenda finishes up and hands off to the other van and we head for our last major exchange.  A high school with a sleeping area, hot breakfast and hot showers.  YES!!!  The sun is starting to come up and the day is looking beautiful!

Kar and I head indoors, take showers and start to feel human again.  We found Ellen and Brenda in the cafeteria and got some breakfast.  Chilled out for a little bit and then headed back to the van to organize, clean out and stretch in the sun
(don't ask- don't tell)

(how one can apply anti chafing and never have to leave the van)

Again, it feels like it always comes too soon when you get the call that your van better be ready because it's almost your turn!  It's about 10:30 or 11 now when Kar takes off!  I just couldn't be more proud of this girl!  Another strong run and more smiles!  She did it!  She is an official Ragnarian!!

It's getting pretty warm and I'm thinking ahead to my final leg.  The Ragnar hill.  I've done leg 9 before (the first half of the hill) but never runner 10 with the "official" part.  I have no idea what to expect except that it's 4 miles of unrelenting climbing.  My goal was to run as much of it as possible, but not push it.  So far, my legs were holding up excellently and I didn't want to do something stupid to re-injure myself.

I got my Ragnar tat applied, sunscreened up, instructions to my van as to how often to check on me and away I went!

(gettin a kill - although this lady was NOT very nice)

Oh.My.Gosh.  That is an unbelievably hard leg.  The climbing never ends and add to it the extreme high elevation and it was a chore to just get oxygen!  But my how stunningly gorgeous.  This run, I opted for nearly naked.  No ipod, no pandora, no metronome.  Just my Garmin and my thoughts.
(before my run - overlooking the valley)

I have to say, those 4 brutal miles were mentally and spiritually the best miles ever!  I literally spent the entire time with a prayer going in my mind and heart.  A prayer of gratitude for my strong legs, my healthy body, the beautiful surroundings, my friends, my family, the aspens I was running next too, my Hoka shoes, sunscreen, water, roadkills, races, the fact that I don't chafe, my passion for running, my job, my co workers, that little beautiful cabin I just passed that made me think happy thoughts......seriously.  Anything and everything that came to my mind was added to my ongoing prayer of gratitude to my Heavenly Father.  Sweet communion indeed!

As I was nearing the hand off area, I heard my name and looked to my right.   MY PEOPLE!!!!  Paul, Tiff, JaNae, Tom, Jake, Kandi!!!!!  Some of my dearest, dearest running friends!  My people!  Paul jumped out, grabbed me in a great big bear hug, swung me around and that was it.  That's all I needed to get me through the last few feet of quad killing climbing.

I handed off to Wayne and then began furiously hugging and chatting with all my friends.  Oh what a great feeling!  Finish my last leg.  Do it under the goal I had mentally set for myself, and then get to soak up the goodness of some amazing people!

I got back to my van, apologized to my teammates for taking so long, but was assured that it was okay because we were purposely stalling.  Wayne's leg was a long, hellish 11 miles and while he was better than he was last night, he wasn't completely well.  His leg was unsupported so the idea was if we stall enough, he can get a few miles in and see how he feels.  If his body was going to rebel, then one of us could jump out and finish his leg for him.

We headed down, and found him along the course.  He gave us the thumbs up, he was feeling good, and wanted to run.  I think my respect and admiration rose a few notches even higher for this man!  Seriously.  Less than a day before he was puking his guts out and now here he was, in the heat of the day, taking on one of the hardest runs!  The man in a running animal.  And my idol.

We made it to where we parked the van at the finish. And after a quick trip to the sev for some diet coke, we got Brenda to the hand off area, and started the waiting game for Wayne.  Van 1 was also there so we got to chat and exchange stories from the road. Once we sent Brenda off, we moved to the waiting area so that we could run in as team together once she came across.

Corbin, Splenda Daddy and Chloee were there!  YAY!!  It's the best to have your favorite cheering squad there and be able to tell them all the fun adventure you had.

After running across the finish line, it was time for a team picture and then the long walk back to the van, gathering gear and walking to the car to ride home with our family.  I know my total running mileage was in the 15ish area, I think we logged another 5 just walking around between cars and vans.  Holy smokes!  In hindsight, I think it was good for us and the legs since I don't feel nearly as sore this morning as I anticipated I would.

(2 kills on my first leg, 9 on my second and 15 on that beast of a hill!)

So.....another WBR down in the books.  I feel great.  I feel satisfied with every run I did.  And particularly pleased with my first and last legs.   Most importantly?  Not one single twinge of shin or tibia pain.  Not. One.  THAT pleases me the most.  That tells me that for once, I might have been a little smarter with rehab and took my time to really heal.  That tells me that I can officially say, I'm back.  That tells me that I can now safely ramp my miles and training back up for the rest of the events I have planned for this season.  That tells me that I am STILL a runner.

A huge thank you to Wayne who will forever be the baddest ass runner I have ever known.  Ever.
To my fellow teammates of Legally Dead who makes this the funnest event of all season.  To Karalee for joining me at the last minute and making it a special year to run with another daughter-in-love.  And of course to Splenda Daddy and Corbin for navigating the crowds and being there to celebrate with us.  A true test of patience with so many people, and trying to find each other, the carrying of our gear and the long walking.

Most importantly, I am beyond grateful for this amazing body I have.  One that was broken a couple of months ago, but heals itself and allows me to do all the things I love doing.  Relays are hard.  No sleep, not great fuel, cramped in a van and then running at sporadic and weird times of the day.  A true challenge and I'm blessed to be able to do it.  After having that awful season with gastroparesis and no running at all, I am even more grateful for the ability to feel good, be healthy, and RUN for the joy of running!

So Legally Dead, looking forward to 2015!

PS -the first post relay meal is the most important one.  Couldn't have chosen a better option!
(so tired, so hungry)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Preparing for Ragnar Wasatch Back and a lot of runners I adore from Ogden marathon

So dude.

Tomorrow morning at 1:00a-freaking-m I will meet at mon capiton's house, and we'll load up to start our annual Ragnar event.  I believe this is my 5th or 6th year doing Ragnar specifically but have thrown 4 other relays in there as well.  Relays are hard.  I think they trash my body harder than a marathon does.  I think it takes me longer to recover.  Simply because of the lack of sleep, crappy fuel (think snack/junk food) and sitting in a van/suburban for so many hours.

And I wouldn't change a thing!  I love it!  I love the teams I run with, I love the adventure, I love the challenge, I love to be surrounded with "my people"  People who love running, events and having fun.

Sure, I'm going into it a little less prepared than I would normally.  I took extra care when rehabbing the stress fracture from Boston but my last couple of runs I have felt well, no pain, and knowing my body - I can bring it.

As I lay in my bed this morning mentally planning out my packing list, wondering if I can find all the gear I need, and thinking about how tightly I can pack everything, my mind is full of all the amazing runners I have had the privilege of meeting over the past couple of years.

Lucky for me (or unlucky - based on perspective) because of my injury I wasn't able to run the Ogden marathon.  Instead, I represented the store at the Grand Slam tent.  I loved being able to chat with runners as they came in, hear how they felt, how they did....and while admittedly slightly envious, soak up all their good juju.  All that goodness that is only experienced at a marathon finish line.

Why it's taken me so long to post this, I have no idea, but knowing that I am going to be immersed in running for the next couple of days has motivated me to share a few of the pics I got at Ogden with a few of the most amazing runners, human beings I have had the pleasure to meet.  Did I capture everyone?  Sadly no, but here's a few of the folks in my life I enjoy calling friends:

My little space for the morning

A few of the crowd

Miss Millie representing WRC well!

John  and Paul - two of my running idols and inspirations!  John is a cancer survivor and Paul is my road trippin brother.

Vince, my last Boston long run partner, and nemesis with brown bubbly.  He drinks the wrong stuff and I am on a mission to convert him, but he's so busy running and OWNING the road that it's a little tricky

Clark who makes me laugh and is a bestie of WRC.  His smile can make anyone happy!

My girl.  My running bestie.  My Boston soul sister Andrea

Jonathon and London.  Fierce competitors that always motivate me to go out and get some miles!

Dave who started all the facebook fun and brought so many of us runners together.  Also the friend I was happy to give my Ogden bib to so that he could enjoy it!

Johnny, an incredibly funny and fast runner who makes me laugh daily on facebook.  Ladies - he's single....snatch him up!
Molly and Jerry.  Molly is seriously my hero.  The kindest spirit you will ever meet and Jerry?  Not just an outstanding runner, but a good soul that has nothing but kind words for everyone around him

Truly an amazing group of people that I've the chance and privilege to rub shoulders with.  Sometimes no more than on facebook or on race days, but who inspire me nonetheless.

So Ragnar?  Bring it.  I have no idea how well I will run.  My strategy is not to push it, but to listen to my body and most importantly have FUN!  Too many other things on the schedule this season to rush coming back too quickly too soon, so if nothing else, I hope I get to run into a few of my Run4Fun peeps and make some memories!

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Open letter to Heaven......with a shout out for graduation and my girl Chelsea

My dear friend Tracy,
   Oh my gosh girl!  First off - you are deeply missed.  I still get a lump in my throat every time I drive past your old house on our street and remember the fun times we had.  I will never forget the first time I sat at your kitchen table (which was exactly like mine) the night we met and a friendship was forged.  Seeing our boys grow up best friends, survive middle school, girl drama, graduate high school together, serve missions and luckily, you were able to see your Christopher get married.  You already know this, but Lukie got married a year ago and our boys still maintain a close friendship.  Just like we always wanted.

I just have to tell you about last night though.  Your baby girl did it!!  She graduated last night!  Walked up on that stage, got her diploma and smiled as big as the sun.  And of course, the older she gets, the more she looks like you.  She is truly beautiful.

I don't have to tell you it's been a tough couple of years for her.  Especially this last one.  But in spite of the challenges thrown her way - she proved she is stronger than anything that she's been hit with.  This last year of high school, she's grown into a beautiful, independent and mostly importantly, a caring young woman.  When we have our dinner dates, and catch up, I always come away more and more impressed. You would be so proud of her!

Her senior year was hard Tracy.  It was up to HER to make sure she made it to school, wasn't late or at least made up her tardies :), finished her homework (and turn it in), and still enjoy some social life.  She worked at a job, kept in touch with family and friends but in most part did it on her own.  She's been surrounded by a wonderful support system and I know you are grateful for that, but in reality - she did the work by herself.

But then again, we both know I don't really have to tell you all this.  You have never been far from her.  I know her biggest cheerleader has been you on the other side of the veil.  Always watching, always encouraging, and most importantly letting her feel you close by.

Last night as I sat at graduation watching her and thinking over the past couple of years, my heart hurt a whole lot.  For her.  For you.  For the future and the all the wonderful things in her life to come that she'll be missing you at.  I made myself remember the plan of salvation and peace came quickly knowing that the separation is brief.  Painful, but mercifully brief.  I made myself remember that though you are not here in body to see the amazing things that your beautiful daughter is accomplishing, you are here in Spirit.  What a loving Heavenly Father to let us all have that.

So my friend, as you pursue the things that you are busy doing now, and Chelsea continues to move forward - know this......she is loved.  Loved so very much.  She has a network of people in her life that want nothing more than for her to be successful and to reach every dream she has.  Family and friends that will work tirelessly to help her accomplish them.  And finally, that you are always missed.  Some holes can't be filled and a mother's place is one of them.  You'll never be forgotten and never not needed, Chels will always need and will find a way to access your strength and example.  Actually, I think she's already shown how to do that.  As much as I refer to her as "my girl Chels"  we ALL know, she's your girl - always has been, always will be.  Thanks for sharing her with me for a little while though :)

Rest easy my friend that she is strong, beautiful, kind, thoughtful, smart and mature.  She is planning her future and it looks bright!  Sunday will be her first day in Relief Society with me.  Holy crap! Did we ever even imagine???  It feels like just yesterday we were going on trek and she was barely 14!  And now look at her.  An amazing woman.  Just like her Momma.  Just. Like. You.

I know you would be and are proud of her!  As are the rest of us down here.  She is so loved. Perhaps that's because she's as easy to love as you were.  Two peas in a pod you are.  I know you are looking down on her with love, happiness and continued hope for all her dreams to come true.  Last night was the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.  Perhaps her first milestone in life without you, so  I just wanted you to know, she did great!  She did it.  She graduated and now she's moving on to the next phase and the next milestone in life.  Please stay nearby, she needs you.  We all do.  Your smile, your encouraging spirit and your never ending's what keeps us all going.  I know Heavenly Father has work for you to do, but just don't go too far k?

And finally my friend, thanks for sharing your dear Chelsea.  She's a bright spot in my life and I'm proud to call her my friend.  You raised a good one sistah - a really, REALLY good one!!

Love and miss you

Dear Chelsea,
Thank you so much for inviting me to your graduation!  I am so proud of you and it was an honor for me to be there!

YASL!!  (to the moon and beyond)