Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Catmull's 2015

What a year 2015 has been!  Lot's of adventures, family fun and a new addition to the family.

Let's start with Corb and Kar:
They bought a beautiful new townhome not far from us.  Okay, like 6 miles, not that I've run there or anything.  Kar is still working at the dentist office, She trained all year and ran her first marathon in St George this past October.  She keeps busy being a wonderful mother to Chloee. 
Corb is going to school at Westminster and works part time at the Veteran's center there on campus.  He's bustin out his credit hours all while maintaining a 4.0  
Chloee turned 8, got baptized loves school and had an early Christmas present!  The newest furbaby in our family is Millie - an eight week old shorkie that seriously is the cutest little thing ever!  Chloee is going to be a great pet owner, they fell instantly in love.

Luke and Mindy:
Luke is still working at his same job, he continues to do well.  He has had the chance to travel a bit with his job this year and been to some places in the United States that he had never been to.  
Mindy is working for the Intermountain Donor Services and doing fabulous.  She seriously has the dream job.  She gets to be right in the action of actually saving lives.  Be an organ donor!  She also began a new drug just approved by the FDA for use in Cystic Fibrosis patients with a specific mutation.  So far, she is doing great on it.  Praying that it continues to work as it should and it leads her to feeling much, much better more of the time.  She is certainly a warrior!  She also ran her first marathon this year in St George.  She did amazing and beat us all!
They completed all the work to post their adoption profile and now just anxiously awaiting the sweet little one that belongs to their family to come.  If you know of anyone looking to place a baby for adoption,  here is the link to their profile page, feel free to share it.  Every day, my prayers include a plea for them to be blessed with a baby.

Preston and Montana:
Preston is still working for Coke.  He was promoted to salesman which is a nice step up, but super stressful.  His work phone never seems to stop.  Hoping once the holidays end, things will slow down a little bit for him.  He is also working for Primerica working on getting licensed as a financial advisor for life insurance as a part time side job.  He is great with trying to help people get the right policy for them.  He has some great goals ahead and is working hard.
Montana is blessed to be home with Addy.  She watches another little girl a couple days a week but Addy keeps her hopping.  She's had her share of health issues this year, but she's a tough cookie, you'd never know when she didn't feel well, and now is on the upswing.
Addy turned two and is cuter than ever.  She is working on her speech, but let's face it, at this age, anything they do or say is adorable.  At least to us.

Splenda and mCat:
Splenda has had a great year at work.  He was recently promoted and is now the Executive Director of Planning at his employer.  His additional duties certainly keep him busy and it's not unusual to find him on his laptop or at his "command center" in the office at home catching up on emails and projects.  Grateful that we are empty nesters so that he has the time to devote to his responsibilites there.  He re-did our front lawn and it looks beautiful.  Well, it did before the snow came.  He also had some additional concrete poured so that our front yard and driveway look much better. When he finds time to relax it's usually playing with the grandkids, watching sports and hanging out with the kids.
mCat has had a rough year.  The neck issues that I have been dealing with for more than two years now is hopefully resolved.  I had surgery in March to remove a bulging disc and bone spur.  That surgery was done by going in through the front of my neck.  However, there was a bone spur in the back of my neck that couldn't be accessed that way.  We were hoping that since it was small, the irritated nerves that were causing pain would calm down and everything would be okay.  By November, it was clear that it wasn't happening like that, I had another surgery two weeks ago.  This time, the surgeon went through the back of my neck and removed the bone spur.  After he finished he told Splenda that it was a good thing we had done the surgery since things were worse in there than the MRI originally showed.  Hopefully, this is it for surgeries.  The nerves are still quite irritated and I have some days where there is a lot of pain, but after time, this will all calm down.  
In March, I also had a small tear in my rotator cuff.  Sadly, both issues are caused by repetitive motions and movement.  The exact things I do for work at Wasatch Running.  Both my shoulder doc and my neck surgeon requested that I end that kind of work. So, broken hearted, I have to report that I no longer get to work my dream job.  I desperately miss my WRC family and customers, but it's pretty clear that my old body just can't do it anymore.   Surgeon also eliminated cycling and shoulder doc eliminated swimming so my Ironman training went into the crapper too.  Silly surgeon even told me to stop running.  I had decided to reconcile myself to it, but after running the St George marathon with my girls, I realized that I can never give it up.  Instead, I'll moderate how much running I do, and stick to my favorite races but maybe not more than one marathon a year.  Kudos to my surgeon for understanding me and only calling me crazy once or twice.  I now keep busy with serving at the temple, church callings and my family.  I couldn't be happier.
We went on a cruise earlier this year in February and enjoyed the Western Carribean.  We loved it so much that we booked another one for Feb 2016.  We have become a huge fan of crusiing.

So that's a wrap!  The down and dirty of 2015 for our fam.

Now wishing all our family and friends 
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and much love and peace for 2016.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A little perspective

Wow.  I can hardly find words to describe the humbling experience I had today.  Where to start?

First off, you have to watch this video.... and then come back.  I'll wait.

Just some quick background.  Brian is from NewYork but moved to Utah about 4 years ago to enjoy all the wonderful outdoor things that we have to offer.  This past June he was mountain biking when he had his accident and is currently paralyzed from the chest down.

Here's the deal. I have a good friend that I have "known" for quite some time.  We met through blogging (back in the day was blogging was cool) and have stayed in touch via facebook, email etc.

He contacted me and another mutual friend, Abe, here in the SLC valley and asked if we would be willing to help him out.  He is a family friend of Brian's and wanted to do something special for him.  He hatched a plan to bring him some cheer and motivation.  This dear friend sent money to both Abe and I with some instructions.  Abe was to have his 1st grade class write some get well cards.  I was to find a pair of cool running shoes that Brian could have to look at and motivate him in his therapy.

When the mail came, and the funds were in my hand you bet your knickers I toddled off to Wasatch Running Center.  With Darrell's help, we were able to get him some shoes, shorts, socks, a water bottle, and a WRC shirt and hat.  I was particular on the shoes.  They had to be red.  Knowing that he was a Utah transplant I had hoped that some Ute blood had gotten to him and that he was a fan.  The shoes are sick! (that means cool for you old people)

This evening Abe and I made the jaunt up to the hospital to meet Brian and to give him his presents that our mutual friend had provided.

Can I just tell you that he is quite possibly the coolest person I have ever met?  Upbeat, happy, cheerful, and inspiring.  He's quite sure that he will get his legs back.  In fact, by the time, we left, he had me convinced.  Just seeing the progress he has already made, and watching his grit and determination - the dude will meet and exceed his goals.  He's someone that while I only spent about 30-40 minutes with, will remember the rest of my life.  His amazing spirit is etched in my brain and on my heart.  Our mutual friend who provided this opportunity?  Has my undying loyalty and love.  He is truly one of the best human beings that I have ever not met in real life.
The shoes got a little cut off, so his mom retook the pic

There they are - Mizuno's.  And the coolest part of it all?  His new wheelchair that he ordered with the Drew Brees donation will match the shoes.  Very cool!

Of course, we had to include Ellen and Drew in our pic

As most people know, I've been dealing with my own health issues and some chronic pain for over a year now.  I had neck surgery in March, still dealing with some pain and as of Tuesday, there was discussion of perhaps another surgery.  It's been a year of a lot of miserable day's.  More pain than not, and a roller coaster of emotions.  However, when I was getting ready this morning and again grumbling about my pain, I had a moment of clarity:  At least I could feel my pain.  I am standing up, I am walking, I can run (even if my doc doesn't want me to).  I can shower by myself, I can play with my granddaughters, I can do just about anything I want to.  And while pain least I can feel it.

Perspective indeed.

Best wishes in continued progress and improvement to Brian.  I plan on following him closely.
Thanks Abe for coming with me - it was a great experience.
To my anonymous mutual friend - I love you.  More than a fat kid loves cake.  Thank you.  There are not enough words to express my gratitude.
To my Heavenly Father - thank you for providing some clarity and perspective to me.  I needed it.

PS - If you ever doubted that God puts people in your lives for reasons you may not understand right away?  Stop doubting.  Heavenly Father knows exactly who you are, what you need, and provides it all for you in sometimes the most unexpected ways.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

St George Marathon 2015 - The year of first's and some spiritual thoughts

*blows dust off of blog*

Oh hey..... *looks around*  this place looks vaguely familiar.  It seems that posting on one's blog is a thing of the past.  Unless of course you're some big time writer and you make money and whatnot.  I originally started this little piece of the blog'o'sphere to capture my thoughts and create a journal.  And then all of a sudden I stopped.  Shame on me.

Soooo..... St George Marathon Two Thousand Fifteen!  I really have to gather my thoughts and get them down before they're lost in the wind (like the dust I just blew off).  Disclaimer.....I'm tired and hurting a little bit so my grammer isn't going to be perfect, I might be rambling a bit.

This is my fifth SGM and sadly, I went into it thinking it might be my last.  But I'll get back to that.
This was my daughter-in-love's FIRST marathon's. (marathon? marathons? - I don't know the right way).  Mindy and Karalee are both runners and had both done half marathon's before but this was their first full monty.  The real deal.  The big kahuna.  They both began training, and all three of us had our own set of challenges that we faced but nevertheless, when word came down that all three of us were in, Splenda Daddy booked a condo and we decided to make it family vacay.

We were able to get the whole crew into a condo Thursday evening.  It was beautiful!  The view was amazing, it was large with a beautiful deck and some grass to throw a frisbee and football around on.  Perfect for us.
the view from our balcony

Some shots Splenda too while in Snow Canyon

Don't try to use our pool man

Another view from the balcony 

This mornings sunrise from my bedroom

So freakin pretty

Just wearing Mimi's flip flops and wishing she could go out on the balconey

Thursday night was fairly lowkey, just dinner at Pacho and Lefty's and then while everyone else hung out, I went to bed exhausted and with a sore back and neck.
Waiting for dinner

Sick of being in the freakin car!

Pancho and Lefty's new family favorite in Dixie

Friday morning, the girls and I headed out for a quick 20 minute shake out run and then back to shower and get ready.
Splenda dropped me off at the expo and I met up with my WRC family for a little work.  I LOVE working the expo's.  LOVE them!  Sure, they can be long day's and a lot of standing on cement but I love the fact that I get to see so many of my running friends and family.
Mindi !!

Carl !!  (seriously, this guy gives the best hugs)

Melia !!

I swear to you that me and Vince must be siblings seperated at birth.  Both screwing up the picture.
And DUDE!  He spoiled me freakin rotten with treats!  I KNOW they gave me super powers!  Thanks to the Massa clan!

Once I was done there, the girls came and we picked up our packets, got our runner series shirts and headed back to the condo.  Early pizza dinner and then again, I was the first to go to bed.  I knew how early the 3:45am alarm would be and I also know that I'm older and need more rest.  Oh and my back and neck were hurting so laying down was for the best.

Indeed, the alarm sounded.  We quietly got ready and headed over to the bus loading area where we met up with the rest of our "crew".  It's a pretty remarkable thing that Mindy is able to run, and even more remarkable that she was about to undertake a full marathon.  Brenda helped me get some shirts made and we created a "Team Minderella".  They turned out awesome and I'm so grateful for all those who wore them.  We got a lot of questions and raised a lot of awareness (winning).
Ryan, Karalee, Mindy, me, Mindi, Ellen, Brenda and Candice
Team Minderella (just missing Joni - next race)

Running to Cure CF

We waited until the end of the line for the buses and literally loaded on the very last one.  For me, it was perfect.  We got to the top, left our drop bags, got the porta potties taken care of, national anthem and then we lined up in the corral and was off!

Now originally, us three girls had talked about staying together.  Mindy and Karalee had done so many of their training runs together, that we thought it was be awesome to finish together.  Cross that line holding hands.  But isn't there some saying about the best laid plans?

We started together and stayed together for the first couple of miles but as any runner will tell you, paces are so individual and unique.  Even friends who often start and finish together will have moments of separation, it's just how it works.  Karalee struggles with side aches.  EVERY STINKIN TIME!  So frustrating for her.  So the harder she would push, the more of a side stitch she would get.  She slowly was dropping back to where it was more comfortable for her.  Now what?  We wanted to stick together but our paces were just not the same.

As we moved along, the miles seem to fly by.  I was plotting out how I could cross the finish line with both of the girls at different times when Mindy finally spoke up. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't know if I'll ever be healthy enough to run a full marathon again, I'd like to see what I can do"

Well that decided it.  She was right.  We weren't meant to all stay together, because just as life is individual so is a marathon.  You have to run your own race.  She was right about the health.  She has Cystic Fibrosis and while she is pretty healthy and strong right now and is doing well, you just never know with that stupid disease.  I hope this won't be her only one, but it could.  She really should just go all out and see what she can do.  It's her race.

The same was true for Karalee.  It's HER race as well.  She needs to run it the way she wants to run it and not for anyone else.

Me?  I was just so freaking happy to be running that seriously the endorphins hid all the back and neck pain and I just ran for the sheer joy of running.  I was taking in every single step with happiness and gratitude.  Funnest moment was when Brock (one of my extra 'sons') came up behind me with a sweaty hug!  Best.Hug.Ever! I had no idea he was going to be there and just seeing his smile and hearing him talk for a few minutes was the perfect boost!

Mindy and I were making great time as we came into mile 16 where Splenda Daddy was waiting with mine and Kar's bottles of UCan (fuel for the second half).  I told Mindy to go on ahead.  I told Splenda to hurry to the finish line because Mind's was coming in fast and I waited with Kar's Ucan.
So, SO happy!

As I waited, I walked/ran backwards on the course to find her and looked at all the runners as they passed by me.  I watched their faces, their bodies, wondering what their stories were.  One by one, I cheered on fellow Team Minderella friends as they cruised by full of gratitude for their support and happy that they all looked so strong!

I finally found Karalee and she slowed down to walk and talk for a minute.  I explained the plan for Mindy and that I was going to try and catch her, run in until just before the chip pad and then stop and come back for her (Kar) and cross the line with her.  There was some "You don't have to" and from me some "But I really want to" and then she was all about focusing and trying to keep her side aches away.  I wished her luck and away I went to try and catch Mindy.

If you've ever been running for a long time (16 miles - 17 by now), stop, and then start up again, you know that it's more painful to start up again than if you had not stopped.  It took me a few strides to get past the pain in my quads and then surprisingly I was able to lock onto a fast (for me) pace.  Seriously, I'm looking at my Garmin at mile 10 and see a 8:27 pace and wondering what in the crap was happening!  I'm never that fast that far into it.  Again, I credit it all to the endorphins (and maybe the ibuprofen).

I cruised along until mile 24 when it became quiet obvious that I would never catch Mindy.  In fact, I hadn't seen most of the rest of Team Minderella.  I knew Kar was frustrated so I turned on my phone, texted Splenda Daddy to tell him where I was and that I was going to wait for Kar and come in with her.  I turned my phone back off and again ran/walked backwards on the course to find her.

Mile 24 is an interesting place to watch marathoners.  Some were in so much pain that I hurt just watching them.  Many were walking.  Some were limping.  One man was shuffling with his whole body tilted to one side.  He was obviously gutting through some serious pain.  I watched the blind runner that was tethered to a sight runner finally slow down to walk a little bit.  My admiration for her was so immense that I got a little choked up.  And then I started to worry that I had been runner watching so much that I actually missed Karalee.  I finally turned on my phone to see that Corbin had sent me a text WAY earlier saying that Kar wanted to finish on her own and that I should just come in.  Okay doke!

I turned around, willed my quads to cooperate and started running again.  Amazingly, back at a pace that I don't ever see at mile 24, 25 and 26.  I couldn't believe my eyes looking at my Garmin, but more importantly, I couldn't believe how I felt.  Holy Smokes!  I felt good.  I felt like I could keep running.  I felt like I could fly!

As I came into the chute, I heard and saw Splenda cheering for me.  A few feet further and I saw Corbin and Chloee cheering for me.   Another few more feet and there was Preston, Montana and Addy cheering for me!  Oh, what a feeling!
Cute Chloee waiting and watching for her Momma

I crossed the line.Turned off my Garmin and thought - well.  This is a first.  Not only did I take longer than I have ever taken, but I ran further than I have ever run.  Huh.

Mindy was right there to greet me and when I heard she finished in 4:19 I about peed my pants!  Holy smokes!  That's like my own PR time for that course!  She killed it.  Out of all of Team Minderella, the sick girl beat us all!  I am so proud of her!

Yeah, I licked her face.  I needed some salt!

We stayed right there at the finish line waiting for Kar and before I knew it she was in!  She was able to cross the line, go to Corb and Chlo before she came to us.  There were tears and hugs of happiness.  She did it!!  All those months of training, the blisters, the early mornings, the horrible side aches, it all payed off and she did it!  As a mom - my heart was seriously bursting with happiness and righteous pride.
Corb and Chloee made her a cute poster!

I grabbed a man Coke from the cart and we headed out to meet our family outside the runner's area.  I was out of my shoes as quickly as possible.  I knew I had some serious blisters going on, I had felt them since mile 10.  I quickly said hi to my WRC family at the Grand Slam tent, hugged and congratulated some runner friends (it felt like every time I turned around there was someone else I knew, I loved, and I wanted to hug).

Catmull's and Luetkemeyer's

Mindy's pace and splits

The little member of Team Minderella


Then it was time to bail.  We'd been out there for a long time and all any of us wanted was to lay down.

Home to the condo, a shared ice bath and then basking in glow of it all.
Misery loves company when it comes to ice baths
I absolutely love this picture.

As always, my deepest thoughts come while running.  Life lessons, spiritual lessons.....all come when it's me and the pavement (sometimes even surrounded by 7500 of my closest friends).

As much as me and the girls wanted to hold hands and cross the finish line together, it wasn't meant to be. Everyone's journey is different and unique.  Each of us had our own challenges along the course that were individually ours.  Yes we were traveling the same road, with the same end goal and were going to be reunited at the finish, but the experiences were and needed to be different.

As a devout Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints), I firmly believe in an afterlife.  That when we are done here on earth, we are reunited with our family, friends and loved ones and continue those relationships into eternity.  Each of us have different experiences in life, but we are all trying to get to the same place.  Some get there faster than others.  Some experience more pain and suffering.  Some have to slow down a little bit, be more careful, and take a slower pace.  BUT, we all get to the same finish line.  And while we were separated for hours I knew that I had family waiting for me and that we would all be reunited when we all were finished.  No one was going to leave until everyone was safely in.  I watched a variety of runners.  Hundreds of them.  Many of them multiple times in my passing and going.  Each person battling something different.  Some having a seemingly easier time than others, some with obvious struggle.  Mile 24 is a great equalizer.  It's hard.  Your body cries for relief.  You want to be done.  You don't think you can carry on or take it any longer.  And dig a little deeper for something you didn't realize you had in you, and you find yourself still moving forward.  One step at a time.  We will all have/face/deal with trials, struggles and those are oftentimes equalizers for us as a people.  We all will have to dig deep at some point in our life, and find the necessary will to keep moving.  As I came into the chute I heard so much cheering, but when I heard MY husband, and MY kids......that's when the real reward paid off.  That's when the tears come, the pain melts away, and nothing but pure joy and ecstasy overwhelm me.  I know without a doubt it will be the same when it's my time to pass to the other side.  I will hear my loved ones cheering me in, waiting with hugs and congratulations for surviving this tough life, for staying faithful, and for finding the will - when it was the hardest- to keep moving forward.

No this won't be my last marathon despite what two of my doctor's have told me.  I've been told to give it up, no more running.  And then on the otherhand, I've had two other doctor's tell me it's okay to run and that I'm better off if I do.  Two months ago, I was in despair and had resigned myself to giving up this part of my identity.  After this weekend, and my 28.46 miles?  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  I might scale back and ease up a bit (in fact, just between you and me, I think my lack of training is what made it so great), but I.Will.Keep.Running.

Huge thanks to all my running friends and family!  Huge thank you to my Team Minderella teammates.  We will race again together!  Huge thanks to my family for their amazing support.  Most of all, immense gratitude and thanks to my Heavenly Father for gifting me with this body that while is imperfect, is enough.  It is enough for me.

Finally - So so SO proud of my girls!  Karalee and Mindy, you amaze me.  You inspire me.  Your righteous influences make me want to be a better person.  Thank you for taking this journey.  I simply am so happy for you I could just......just......cry!

And just one more of the littlest team member

PS - hopefully the girls will each get a chance to post their own thoughts about this weekend on their own blogs:


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wasatch Back Ragnar - Legally Dead 2015

Oh my gosh, where do I start?  How do I find the words?

This is one of my all time favorite races and my 6th year with the Legally Dead team.  It was going to be iffy as to whether or not I could participate this year based on my neck issues and the resulting surgery (another blog post to come on that), but when I realized that I would be about 12 weeks post op, and that I had chosen a leg that could easily be walked quite a bit, then I was all in!

This year, we were able to fill a van with all girls.  All of us, but one, had run together before and knew each other quite well - our new gal Janelle fit right in with our craziness.
l-r Mindy, Janelle, Karalee, me, Mindi and Brenda

our binder with our legs.  Mindi made the joke of "Mitt's binder of women"

Our team and Van 1 had a start time of 4am.  Since we were van 2, we slept in a little bit longer and then just met them at the first exchange.  We did our check in, safety video, got some temporary airbush tattoos, decorated the van, and then I got ready to meet our runner at the exchange since I was runner 7 (the first one from our van).
Mindy had a new boyfriend

As I waited at the exchange, I met up with some friends and one in particular who was the same runner as me.  We made a deal that if he took off before I did, then I had to catch him.  If I left before he did, he had to catch me.  I really didn't have hope that I would catch him.  This was my first race post op, I didn't really have the training in me, and I anticipated some walking.

His runner came in and off he went.  I was still waiting when my other teammates showed up and let me know our runner would be in any minute.  The anticipation was killing me!  I was standing next to the volunteer who was calling team numbers as they came in so we would know, but they never called ours, I just happened to see Duane run in.  I ran over to him, took the slap bracelet and off I went.

I started at what I felt was a fairly slow pace and just settled into what felt comfortable.  At the first mile I looked at my Garmin to see that I had done it an 8:28 pace.  Too fast to start!  Gah!  I tried to make my feet slow down, but in all honesty, I felt so good!  The leg was fairly flat with only a few rises.  I allowed myself a few walking breaks to try and stay conservative.  All the time reminding myself to take it easy.

As I rounded a corner, I saw my buddy up ahead and knew that if I kept a steady pace, there were enough miles left to catch him!  As I passed him, I shouted some encouragement and we talked briefly but I was feeling too good to stop or slow down.  It was hot, about noon but I so happy to be running, I didn't even notice.  I crossed an intersection and started to cross a bridge when I passed a runner off to the side puking.  I slowed and asked him if he was okay.  He shook his head, said no, then said yes.  I figured, the cops at the intersection were about 100 yards away, if he really needed help he could get it.  I kept going.

Once I reached the exchange and passed the slap bracelet off to Brenda, I felt like I was running on air!  Never have I experienced such an endorphin rush (well, since qualifying for Boston and then running Boston).  I was so happy that there is no way I could even begin to describe it.  SO HAPPY!

We had a few minutes before needing to get to the next exchange so I stretched and evaluated how I felt.  No shoulder pain.  No scapula pain.  No neck pain.  Legs felt fine.  I was winded and had to remind myself that I was not only still gaining my cardio back, but also the altitude was higher.  Overall, I felt fantastic!  Leg one down, two more to go!
crap- sideways

After all our girls finished their legs (and finished them amazingly, I might add), we passed off to Van 1 and then drove to a high school for some food and rest.  It's nearly impossible to sleep during these relay's but I think I dozed for about 30 minutes.  Next thing I knew I was getting a text from Lisa that they would be ready to pass off in about 45 minutes.

It was about midnight when I started my next leg.  This was supposed to be the easiest of them all.  And it was delightful.  The temps were perfect, so I was just in shorts and a long sleeve tech tee.  I started out, and then was directed down a dirt hill.  Wha??  I wasn't prepared for trail.  I slid all the way down that hill praying the whole time I wouldn't fall.  I went extremely slow.  After that portion, it flattened out, I was on pavement for a minute and then back on to a flat trail.   Night runs are glorious! I didn't take my ipod, I simply had my garmin, my headlamp, my reflective vest and my own thoughts to keep me company.  The entire 4 miles or so was a complete prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for allowing me to heal and be able to run.  It was delightful!  Leg two done - one more to go!

The rest of the girls finished their night runs (some of them very tough - but not one of them complained) and then it was time to pass back off to van 1.  Again, we made our way to a high school and for a couple of bucks got a hot breakfast and a cold shower.  I didn't even care that it was cold, I was just glad to wash the stank off - even if the shower heads made the water feel like glass shards.  Good thing it was only a buck :)  I laid down for a little while, and actually slept for about an hour.
such cute girls

 When I got the text that it was time to get ready, I gathered the girls, drank my Ucan, and my Monster and waited at the exchange.  This last leg of mine was going to be brutal.  It was now about 11am.  I loaded my hydration vest with ice and gatorade, applied sunscreen, lip balm, got my ipod, phone and was ready to go.

As Duane came in and passed off the slap bracelet and I started, I really had some mixed feelings.  The competitor in me wanted to push it and perform well, but the rational side of me was warning me to take it easy and not push it.  I started off at a fairly conservative pace until about 1.5 miles.  Then the course hit a trail that was STRAIGHT.UP.HILL.  No lie, it was like a hike.  No running even possible.  I looked at my garmin and saw that I was at a 20 min + pace and thought,  "If the rest of the leg is like this, I'll be here until midnight!"  Luckily, that portion only lasted about a half mile (it felt like 10) and then it was back on the pavement and winding up the mountain.  I saw runners who were actually running it, but for the most part, many of us were walking.  It was just so steep!  I would run when I could, and there were a couple of down hill portions that I opened up and tried to make up some time.  I anticipated taking about 2.5  to 3 hours and I tried really hard not to pay attention to my Garmin and just go by how I felt.  Time wasn't important to me, I wanted to stay healthy.

The hill was relentless and never ended.  No letting up. 10.2 miles (according to the course) and 2800ft elevation gain.  I checked out the beautiful scenery and watched other runners as we either leap frogged, they passed me or I passed them.  As each mile ticked by, I would just tell myself I only had ____ left.  The hardest portion for me was from mile 7.5 to mile 9.  I was so fatigued.  Nothing hurt, just plain tired.  I really had to slow down and just talk myself into keeping moving. Finally I crested the hill, saw the exchange and saw the downhill into the chute.  Elation!  I started to run and cry that I had actually, ACTUALLY done it!!  Again, no words to adequately express how I felt.  Just pure, unadulterated happiness!
Never have I been so happy to get a medal - except maybe Boston...

my garmin didn't quite pick up the entire 10.2 but I was running tangents whenever possible....

Brenda took off and I allowed myself to just soak it in.  The people congratulating me, the hard earned extra medal, the pictures, the cheers of everyone around for every runner that had tackled that hill.......soaked it all in.  I did it. I actually DID it!  12 weeks post op from a fairly substantial surgery, an almost entire year of pain in my neck, scapula and shoulder (torn rotator cuff to be blogged about later) and here I had completed the hardest of all legs in Ragnar!  I think I'm till high on those endorphins.

Each girl in our van took their legs and even though it was the heat of the day, they ran them strong.

Just some random pics:

Mindi and Brenda

Just hanging out between runs
Mindy before her night run
Beautiful scenery
Mindi rockin it
the girls being silly

 Finally Mindy was our last runner in, we met up with Van 1 at the finish and crossed together.  Got our medals, took some pictures and then wandered the expo while attempting to meet up with a photographer.
Van 1 - Wayne, Kris, Lisa, Cade, Pam and Duane down in front - love these guys!!!
All of Legally Dead 2015

A friend of Mindy's wrote a feature piece on her and Luke's quest for adoption and her Cystic Fibrosis so a DesNews photographer came to the finish line and took some pictures.  You can read the article here.     The link to their gofundme account is here.   And below are the pictures he took.  Clearly, he's the professional.I am so incredibly proud of her!

We loaded ourselves back in the van, gassed up, got real food and headed home. What an amazing adventure.  Every single runner in our van performed so well!  Each of us have been dealing with some sort of issue: Mindy and Cystic Fibrosis, Mindi and plantar fascitis, Karalee and the never ending side ache, me and the surgery.  And yet, we all ran our best and not one person had to back out, pass off some miles to someone else or otherwise hold back.  We went at it strong and I couldn't be more proud of my friends and girls!

So yeah, another Ragnar in the books.  I'll never forget the look on the face of my surgeon when I told him I was doing it.  I kinda wish I had another post op appointment just so I could tell him how great it was and that due to his expertise, I was back at my passion in record time!

All the girls in my van are really wanting to do Ragnar Vegas.  Since Legally Dead has already done it, I don't think they will want to again, we are going to see if we can put together an entire team of 12 to do that so we can get our Saint's to Sinner's medal.  Until then, I'm back running, cycling on my stationary trainer as cross training, and picking up races here and there until October and St George Marathon.

Huge thank you's to:  Wayne, the founder and captain of Legally Dead, Kris and Lisa Lundell, Duane, Pam and Cade (van 1)  and my girls of Van 2: Mindi, Janelle, Brenda, Karalee, and Mindy. Seriously, one of the best teams we've ever had and I love them so much!
Special thank you to Dr Robert Berry.  More on him in a futue blog post - but without him I wouldn't be running!

Happy running = happy mCat!