Boston Marathon 2017

Yesterday, while flying across the country from east to west, heading home from a five-day adventure, I jotted down some key topics that I wanted to touch on with this post. Without being too long-winded and boring the reader, I hope to accomplish my goal here of giving others an inside view to what running the Boston Marathon is like.

So, as you likely already know, one must “qualify” for Boston, meaning the Boston Athletic Association has set up a grid of qualifying times, depending on one’s age and gender. The female 50-54 age division requires a 4:00 or faster marathon time which has been run on a sanctioned course. It just so happened that I met that requirement at the St. George Marathon in October 2015 with a finish time of 3:57:18 — a whopping 2 minutes and 42 seconds to spare! Oddly, qualifying for Boston was not even on my mind that day. I was simply running my own race at my own pace. When I discovered that it was a BQ time, I discussed with my husband the option of getting registered and making a weekend out of it with him; he gave his consent. I received my acceptance notification from B.A.A. via email about a week after others (who had registered) had received theirs, so I honestly had discounted the idea that it would happen. You see, even though one may run a qualifying time, that is still not a guarantee of entry. There are so many people who are now qualifying and registering that B.A.A. has had to tighten up the requirements with faster times, and even then they skim off the top, meaning they accept the FASTEST times of those who qualified in each particular age division. My bib assignment was #23589, and my calculations lead me to believe that numbers went up to #23600 for those who were accepted (just 11 numbers shy of the cap); once again, I squeaked through.

All that being said, it did not mean this opportunity meant less to me. If anything, it meant far more. I made reservations for airline and hotel last November, then just waited patiently for the time to pass….

There is so much to tell about the entire marathon experience, let alone this experience on a BOSTON MARATHON level. This is the marathon of all marathons, the oldest in the country, celebrating its 121st year. Hence, it gets a lot of attention and lures world-class athletes who compete for the first-place status. I could go on and on about all that, but due to lack of time right now (I would refer reader to the B.A.A. website where all the history is revealed), I will cut right to the chase, so to speak.

As part of my race preparation, I had ordered a black tank top to wear. It is not just any ordinary tank top, though — no sirrreeee! This tank top boasts my running accomplishments to date which include 20 years, 40 marathons (including this one), over 200 races, and 24,901 miles (the circumference of the earth). That is featured on the front. On the back, I have listed the names of 26 friends and family members who are dear to me and who have influenced my life in a positive way. That list could have been extended to hundreds of names, but I chose immediate family members and close friends. Besides that, there was not room for more.

The names are arranged in a column down the middle of the back, looking somewhat like a spine, with the title at the top, BOSTON 2017.

I also chose to wear a pair of red compression socks to commemorate the Boston Red Sox baseball team; we were able to attend one of their games the day prior to the marathon — and they won. 🙂

Getting back to this story, Todd and I picked up my packet at the marathon expo. The packet contained my bib #23589, which was to be affixed to the front of my shirt. The bib also houses the chip which measures the time from start line crossing to finish line crossing. It did not matter that I was assigned to Wave 3, Corral 8, because my personal time only began when I crossed that starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on April 17, 2017.

I have to post credit here to the St. George Running Center owners Kendra and Steve, who have given back more to the community of St. George than they have taken away from it. One of their running shoes brands, New Balance, offered to make shirts for those of us running the Boston Marathon (see below photo). We met at the finish line last Saturday to take a group photo. These are some amazing athletes and people!

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The night before the race, I ate shrimp scampi which was delicious and so satisfying. I made a true effort to carbo-load starting the week prior. I tried to spare my legs from too many miles as we toured downtown Boston. I have to put in a plug here for my dear friend Conor, who dedicated his weekend to be our tour guide. He even took the day off work on Monday to spectate with Todd alongside the thousands and thousands of other spectators who lined the course on both sides for 26.2+ miles. Conor currently works in New York City but grew up on the outskirts of Boston, so he knew the ins and outs of the city. His knowledge and guidance were priceless.

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Another enormous helper was Tim, with whom I became acquainted via text messaging and Messenger. Tim, it turns out, has his own blog called thevoyageofdh.wordpress.com and started following my son’s blog (Tyson) which is drivetofive.com. Are you still with me? So because of Tyson’s blog, and because he lives in Boston, Tim learned of my pending trip and offered numerous suggestions of places to go, things to do, etc. He was a very valuable resource for us, and I regret that we were unable to connect during the three days we spent in Boston due to his activities or ours.

As per tradition, I set out my running attire the evening before, checking the items off my list in an effort to account for everything I might need. I left the hotel and took the train (Redline, inbound) to Park Street, where I disembarked and walked to Boston Common. It was there that I had arranged to meet up with Natalie, long-time friend and running buddy. We loaded up on one of the dozens of buses (hundreds, more like, maybe even thousands) that took approximately 32,000 runners to the starting line in Hopkinton. It was quickly obvious that the weather would play a role in our performance. It was at least in the high 60’s if not low 70’s when Wave 3, Corral 8 (packed tightly with energetic runners dressed in colorful apparel) was turned loose.  Prior to that moment, four of us (me, Natalie, Cheri, and Joann) had been caught up in the long porta-potty line and then temporary-tattoo-application table, not realizing that our Wave 3 runners had long since departed for their respective corrals. We literally ran to our corral to get ahead of the yellow-bibbed runners, those who had registered under the charity option.

And we were off. The first few miles of the course are downhill, which played in our favor. We maintained about a 9-minute mile pace, weaving in and out of other runners while at the same time keeping track of each other. Natalie had asked to run with me and when Cheri showed up at the runners’ village in Hopkinton, I was grateful, for I had considered running my own race (which I had planned to document as much as possible, and documentation takes time!). We lost Joann somewhere along the first few miles, then the three of us stuck together until mile 7. At that point, I felt that the pace was taking its toll on me, and I opted to linger longer at a water station and let Cheri and Natalie run on ahead (but only after a Facebook Live video).

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I had my phone on airplane mode up to this point in an effort to preserve the battery, but once I was solo, I kept in touch with Todd and Conor. I knew they were tracking me via my bib through an app the B.A.A. offered, but I also was coordinating with them the specific place where they planned to be along the course. They let me know that they would be at mile 14, just past Wellesley, on the left-hand side of the road.

The heat started to get to me — I mean really get to me — about an hour into it. We had a decent tailwind but I felt zapped to a level that I have never felt before. Feeling faint was my main complaint, and it required more-than-usual effort to lift my legs high enough without stumbling.

At precisely mile 13, I saw that I had missed a call from my parents. I called them back and my mom asked, “How was it?” She was not aware that this race had started later morning as per tradition. I got a little emotional as I described to her, “It’s really hard, mom! But Todd and Conor are just up ahead, and that is my focus right now.” I assured her of my love for her and ended the call with a promise for a full race report later. At mile 14.50 (but who is counting?) I called Conor in a panic, believing that I had somehow missed them. Seriously — this was highly possible due to the 3-deep people lining the sides of the streets. I was prepared to go back if I had to, but Conor said, “We’re just past the streetlight — keep coming, KEEP COMING!!!” And there they were at mile 14.65, on the left-hand side as promised, offering hugs, smiles, and encouragement. It was the boost I needed to press on.

Press on I did, though dizzy and somewhat delirious. My progress had slowed down considerably. I sent Todd a text message that I felt like I might pass out, and he ordered me to ingest some sugar stat. Now this is the truth: I pulled off the course briefly and walked over to a family gathering where there was a variety of food. I approached a young mother and asked if she could spare anything with sugar in it. She selected a mini muffin and handed it off to me. It was dried out and stale, but I ate it anyway. I also accepted offerings of other food items after that, like orange sections, Otter Pops, and…. beer, though I did not drink it (I did not realize it was alcohol until I got a whiff of it, and I don’t drink alcohol, even in dire situations such as that). At about mile 20, when I realized that I might be in trouble, I stopped at a medical tent to ask for something salty. I was given a paper cup full of pretzels, which I ate gratefully.

There were some fabulous distractions along the course, including spectators dressed up in costume.

Besides the 26 names on the back of my tank to think about, I was carrying with me a few tokens to remind me of the support from friends and family, one of them a quarter which I actually found on my last training run before Boston. As it was lying there on the road, it seemed to say, “Please, pick me up and take me with you to the Boston Marathon!” I know it was a sign from Granny (see my prior post) and of course I picked it up and took it with me. Coincidentally or not, I also found a quarter on the Boston Marathon course, and I am pretty sure it was my Aunt Marieta, reminding me that she was there to support me, too. Friends with me since the age of 10, Connie and Penny had mailed me some elasticized bracelets to wear during the race. It was their way of offering support. Let me also add here that they also offered monetary support — as in helped pay my way to Boston! And a band from Tia2 was proudly worn as well.

I admit that not all went as planned during the race. Besides the heat and probable dehydration, I also lost a valuable pin that my sister had provided for me to wear. It was a handmade clay pin of an artist holding a painting palette, about 1.5 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide. I pinned it to the upper strap on the left side of my tank top (as can be seen in pre-race photo above) but somewhere early on it must have decided to give running a try and worked its way off my top to the pavement below, only to be crushed (I imagine) by thousands and thousands of runners. Discovery of this fact made me sick inside, and I had to alert my sister of the bad news. She assures me that she is not upset and that she rather likes the story it made. I aim to make it up to her somehow, though. The blue corn is something that my grandson Beckam had colored and given me.

Another mishap was a house fire which we ran past at about mile 4 or 5. It appeared that the fire was accelerating quickly due to the black smoke billowing out of the garage and front door, and witnessing the family outside scrambling to get hoses hooked up to combat the fire was rather unsettling. I felt helpless and could not imagine how a fire truck could access their home, since runners spanned the road for miles elbow to elbow.

The last 10 miles are somewhat of a blur. I turned my music up loudly to try and drown out some of the spectators’ cheering which translated to a constant high-volume noise that was constant and unrelenting. I have a testimony about songs that match the moment I am in. But that’s a topic for a later blog. Music is a daily part of my life, and without it while running, I would suffer.

Realizing that I was on target to finish under 4:30, but still not able to resist documenting the experience via photographs and videos, I hastened my pace and disregarded the miserable state I was in as I focused on the finish line. The last turn of the course delivered us onto Boylston Street. I ran straight down the three blue stripes that were painted on the road, right smack-dab in the middle. I ran as fast as my tired legs could go. I ran past the places where the bombs had gone off four years prior, the bombs that killed three and wounded hundreds. I thought of my Pal Peg, who shares this blog with me (she was mere feet away from the first bomb near the finish line when it exploded on that fateful day in 2013). I thought of the power of love and the outpouring of support, not just by the people in this town called Boston, but also in our nation, a nation united! My watch revealed 4:31 when I crossed the finish line, and though I wanted to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb (I borrowed that line from Cory, a friend who inspires — he has a blog, also, called factory.com), I had Todd to find, for I knew he would take good care of me — and that he did and continues to do on a daily basis as I quickly recover to baseline. I am forever grateful for his patience and support of this passion of mine.

Now in hindsight, looking back two days since the marathon, there are a few thoughts that stand out. In no particular order, let me share some of them with you.

Support: You can’t even begin to imagine the enthusiasm of the spectators. It’s something that cannot be comprehended unless experienced personally.  Energy: It was palpable. It was infectious. Determination: Exhausted runners who resorted to walking were set on finishing regardless of the time clock. Camaraderie: The common bond between runners was unmatched. Complete strangers joined up to spend a few hours together with the same goal, leaving behind their differences. Passion: There was such a sense of dedication which earned all of these athletes the privilege of participating in the Boston Marathon.

Finally, a short video which I took of the spectators just before turning the corner onto Boylston Street and down the final stretch. Can you feel the love, too?

( video to be added when my son can help me this weekend)

I had earlier vowed that this would be my last full marathon, but since there is going to be another party on the St. George Marathon course this October, I had to submit and register! Look out St. George Marathon, here we come!

Happy trails!

 

 

Running Essentials

As redundant as it may seem, each and every time before a race, I make a list of the items I will need for that race. I then refer to said list before I retire for the night, setting out those items so that I have them ready to go come race morning. When deciding what I will need, I have to consider the projected temperature, weather conditions, distance, terrain (road versus trail), and aid stations (if any). In hindsight, I should have just early on laminated one list and included some variables; I would have saved myself a lot of time and paper over the years.

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Usually the first thing on my “needs” list is SHOES. As any runners knows, having a couple pair of good shoes to alternate is a must. I usually save my “best” shoes for the races, then replace them with another pair of “best” shoes when they start to show wear. Shoes can be tricky, believe it or not! When making a shoe selection, one might be asked one or more of the following questions by a sales associate:

  1. Do you supinate or pronate?
  2. How many miles are you training?
  3. Do you have a high or low arch?
  4. Do you need neutral, cushioning, or stability shoe?

One thing I have NEVER been asked is if I have a color preference, which I find interesting because I ALWAYS have a color preference. In fact, I have been known to buy a pair of shoes JUST BECAUSE of their color. I have also made the silly choice of choosing shoes that are a half size smaller than I normally wear, which has caused suffering “down the road” (literally). Just because I think a shoe looks like a clown shoe on my foot does not mean that everyone else thinks it looks like a clown shoe! Having enough room for the foot to do its job (run in fine fashion) is key.

Shoes have transitioned and evolved a great deal over the last 20 years since I bought my first pair. They are made of better products, have specific designs for specific needs, and prices have risen dramatically. Seriously! Paying $150 for a good pair of running shoes seems unthinkable, but often the concept of “you get what you pay for” rings true here. I said often — not always. I have found some screaming bargain deals on shoes that have served me just as well as the pricey ones. So many colors, styles, and purposes to choose from can be overwhelming. Trail shoes have come to the forefront recently as there are many who have given up the road running for trail running. Honestly, I can see myself making that transition soon. Trail running shoes have nubs on the soles for better traction. It is due to those nubs/extra grip protruding from the sole that I have gone down on the trail more than once. Lifting the knees up higher when running on trails is necessary which translates to being more physically and mentally demanding, in my opinion.

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Another item on my list is SOCKS. I prefer Belaga brand, as well as SmartWool, or even Thorlos. They “run” about $10 pair but I find it absolutely essential to have good wicking socks.

 

Moving on down my list, you will find HAT to be near the top. Whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring down, having a hat can make the difference between pleasant and miserable. Bonus points are credited if the hat can match the laces in the shoes or some other apparel being worn. Function AND style come in to play here. Along this same line, SUNGLASSES is one of those variables which can be added or subtracted, depending on the direction of the course; running into the full sun can be an unpleasant experience. However, that being said, having sunglasses that sit solidly on the face (as opposed to bouncing around) is important!

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What should probably top my “needs” list, even above good shoes, is a good SPORTS BRA. It’s amazing that I don’t have scars from bra chafing over the years. Finding a seamless sports bra is a priority, and wearing KT tape under the points of contact for long distance runs has become a tradition. Taking a hot shower after a run during which chafing has occurred can cause one to make an exclamation of discomfort. It’s true, too, that a decent bra is going to cost upwards of $50, but well worth the money if it does not cause chafing while holding down the girls.

Now on to the fun stuff — what to wear!! Early on in my running years, I prided myself for never wearing the same thing twice. You can imagine the expense. I have long since learned that it’s okay (if not financially pertinent) to mix and match. Necessary basic apparel, in my running opinion, includes at least one of everything: LEGGINGS, CAPRIS, and SHORTS or SKORTS in black and at least one or two other colors. I fell in love with the “skort” (skirt/short) concept right when it came out and it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. There is no race or training run that cannot be executed in one of the above-mentioned items of apparel. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE color, but I have also seen some patterns and color mixes that should stay at home in the drawer, only to come out for lounging around the house. Haha. When throwing on a top, whether it’s a TANK or a thin, long-sleeved TOP versus the thermal variety, consideration must be made for the outside temperature and the fact that it’s better to have thin layers than one heavy, bulky top that cannot be shed as things start to heat up. I like to wear something light that I can tie around my waist (and cover my hind end). Naturally, adding layers for colder weather is a given. Wearing apparel made of wicking fabric is absolutely necessary! I will add here that, at least for me, the perfect temperature for running is low to mid 50’s (wearing a tank top and skort). Anything in the 40’s requires that I wear a light long-sleeved shirt, and anything in the 30’s begs for a heavier (though still wicking) jacket. I have run when it’s 8 degrees, and I have run when it’s over 100 degrees. Let me reiterate that I prefer mid 50’s. 🙂

Anyone who knows that I run must also know that I take my IPOD everywhere I go. I listen to music without fail during training as well as races, unless I am running socially with friends. It really sucks to find out the battery is low or, even worse, dead, when starting a run. That happened to me at a marathon a few years ago, and it was as if the energy in me died, too. Having a charged iPod is as important as having good shoes. I have grown very dependent upon upbeat music to pull me through any given race. I even have playlists that match my desired race pace, but maybe that’s a topic for another time.

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The only other running accessory I consider, depending on the distance of the run, is my HIPS-SISTER FANNY PACK (I chose black) which is made of stretchy fabric and rides on the hips while running. Its role is to hold items like a cell phone, GU, keys, lipstick, and iPod. Carrying all of these items during a marathon can be a real confidence booster! Obviously, wearing a fanny pack during a 5K race just adds extra weight and distraction. The hips-sister belt can be purchased online and costs approximately $22.  *Disclaimer: The model in this photo is not me; it was a photo I found on the hips-sister website.

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Last but not least, not by a long shot, is your BIB! Don’t forget to set your bib out (pins attached) before race morning! Nowadays, most bibs have the timing chip in them so unless you want a DNS (did not show), you won’t get race credit without your bib!

So there you have it, my head-to-toe checklist. It has been very consistent over the course of time, likely because running has not changed — it’s still pretty much a left, right, left, right kind of activity! Happy trails (and roads)!

 

Spice IT UP!

For me, running is only part of the equation for healthy running.  Let me give you a simple equation as to what doesn’t work for my body and what does work:

Running + More Running = Injuries

Running + Cross Training = Healthy Body/Healthy Mind 🙂

So let’s talk about spicing up your weekly routine a bit……….

SWIMMING—-

Swimming serves as an ideal form of active recovery for runners, swim sessions allow you to increase endurance and oxygen capacity, while giving your weary legs a break from all that pavement pounding.
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/cross-training-101-swimming-for-runners_82017#641zZguJLriQU2X4.99

I first learned how to swim 6 years ago and at that time, I was petrified to put my face under the water.  This stems from the fact that I nearly IMG_5219drown in a pond when I was 4 years old.  I grew up in a small town in Utah and our pool was a pond.  EWWWWW!  Anyway, my friend, who I met at the pool, did not know what to do with me when I went for the first time and then another older lady came over (it was quite a scene) to see if she could help.  Talk about embarrassing haha.  I found out later that she is the coach of the local Master’s Swimming group and I stumped her too, but she gave me some simple underwater breathing exercises to do to get me warmed up to the idea.  One thing I did know during all of this was that I WAS NOT GIVING UP–I really wanted to learn how to swim and that was that!! I thought about it, watched YouTube videos about it and I even prayed about it.  I had to win the battle within myself.  Someone then introduced me to a book called, “Total Immersion” by Terry Laughlin, which was full of drills to get you to the point to swim freestyle and also the Master’s Swimming Coach still kept coaching me and then soon I was able to swim freestyle in the pool.  I also joined the Master’s Swim Team which was fun too and I learned a lot!

Training in the open water for the Ironman in 2014 was the next obstacle for me to overcome.  I had to do some serious self talk, but I was able to complete it with no panicking.  It was a miracle.  My motto—“just keep swimming, just keep swimming………..” and it worked!

Swimming is just a great overall workout–your arms and lats are pulling you though water so they are strengthened, your abs are engaged at all times, the glutes and legs are engaged when kicking through the water as well.  My heart rate is high when I continuously swim compared to the other cross-training activities, so that tells me it’s giving me one of the best cardio workouts.  SO SWIM PEOPLE:)!! It’s great for the bod!  AND if I can do it, anyone can!  Also, try pool running!  That’s a great workout as well, especially when injured.

BIKING—-

There is something that is so freeing about biking and it’s one of my favorite cross-training activities.  I LOVED training for the biking portion of the Ironman with my Bikesweetheart.  We made some great memories :).  I love a good long ride in the morning and incorporating some interval training, which is riding 1 mile hard and then recover a 1/2 mile and repeating this several times.  It gives me a great cardio workout, but if you’re looking to strengthen the legs, a good hill workout will do the trick–try hill repeats and you will tire those legs out in no time :).  Another option is to catch a spin class at your local gym.  We have some great spin instructors here and if you’re uncomfortable on a road bike, this is a great option.

Biking is a great nonimpact workout and it’s easy to recover–a great complement to your running!

HIIT WORKOUTS—-

Yes, I did say HITT–High-Intensity Interval Training.  A HIIT workout is great if you are in a pinch for time and is a great workout.  As we all know, life gets a little crazy some days and it’s nice to have a short, intense workout for those days.  For me, HITT workouts have made all the difference in my training and has helped make me a stronger runner in my old age :). A HIIT workout consists of intense bursts of physical exercise (like your heart is going to jump out of your chest 🙂 with a less intensity rest or a complete rest.  A favorite HIIT workout of mine is Tabatas, which is 20 seconds on (intense burst) and 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds.  You can get the free HIIT timer app on the App Store.  Try looking up a HIIT workout on Pinterest and do it  2-3 days a week for 6-8 weeks and you’ll notice a change.  Here is an example of a HIIT workout for you:

The three exercise moves below will make up your “intense” interval, then performing an easier form of cardio afterwards will make up your “rest” interval.

  1. Perform the following three exercise moves back-to-back according these reps: Start by doing 10 reps of each, then repeat the cycle doing 15 reps of each, then repeat the cycle doing 20 reps of each. Don’t take any breaks until after you’ve gone through all three sets.
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Jumping Jacks
  • (In place of these 3 moves, you could also try performing fast alternating lunges, push-ups or kettlebell swings.)
  1. After you’ve completed these three sets, do a form of steady-state cardio for about three minutes. This can mean jogging, running in place, hopping on an exercise bike, etc. You want to be working at about half of your ability.

STRENGTH TRAINING—-

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One of my favorite workouts to do is to run to the gym from my house, which is about 2 miles, do a cardio strength exercise routine at the gym for 30 min, and run home on tired legs ha.  Strength training is easy to do at home too.  I purchased two sets weights– one 8 lb. set and one 12 lb. set and I just look up strength workouts on Pinterest (love Pinterest 🙂  Strength training is important as we age because after the age of 30 our lean muscle tissue decreases at a rate of approximately 5% a year and that percentage increases after the age of 65.  Yikes!!  The more you build muscle, the faster your metabolism becomes, your muscle mass will go up and you will feel tighter and more firm. Who doesn’t want that, especially when we are experiencing hormone changes.  As most of us know, muscle weighs more than fat, so when you first start out lifting, DON’T WEIGH yourself, especially if you are concerned about that stupid number on the scale (for the record, I dislike everything about the scale ha).  Your weight will most likely go up, but don’t despair, because you will look more fit and tone as you lift 2-3 times a week and you will be pleased with the results.  Also, I am less prone to running injuries when I lift on a regular basis, so that’s a huge bonus for me.  Try looking up a weight lifting program online or schedule an appointment with a personal trainer and they can help you if you’re feeling unsure about it.

YOGA—

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Yoga is another great way to strength train.  I try to get a yoga session in once a week at least and this DVD is a favorite of mine.  It strengthens and stretches and it’s only 40 min long. There are many benefits to doing yoga according to a publication called “Yoga Journal.”  Here are just a few:

Improves flexibility

Builds muscle strength

Perfects your posture

Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown

Protects your spine

Betters your bone health

Increases your blood flow

Ups your heart rate

You can view the full article and an explanation of each benefit at http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit/.

Cross-training is very fun when you work it into your schedule.  Variety is the spice of life so I encourage all of you to SPICE IT UP and let me know how it goes for you.  I think you’ll like it :).

HUGS

Pennies from Heaven

Today I want to write about money — the coin kind of money that comes in various sizes, colors, and values (much like people). My habit of coin-seeking began on March 26, 2011, following the death of my 98-year-old grandmother. We called her Granny. She was full of spunk and fun, always game for adventures. Granny slipped to the other side that day almost exactly six year ago, and I recall vividly that it was raining very hard. I needed a run badly to allow myself time to think and process the fact that her physical body had expired. I laced up my shoes and pulled the knit hat on my head which she had herself made and which she was wearing when she died, then I actually tied a plastic garbage bag over it (something I had never done before, nor have I done since). It was such a Granny thing to do — she was a collector of garbage bags or anything of a plastic nature. I stepped outside and braved the rain… and I ran. I cried while I ran, but the rain washed the tears right off my cheeks. Ahead of me on the road was a bright copper metal object, nearly speaking to me as I approached it; it was a new penny. I stopped and picked it up, tucking it in my pocket and pressing on with my run.

I like to think that Granny sent that penny down from heaven that day as a reminder that she is still with me/us. To me, it was a symbol of love and affection — evidence that angels are among us. Seriously, how else do pennies and other coins wind up on the ground, if not tossed down gently from heaven? Have you ever stopped to wonder why anyone would toss a penny out of a window, or how it would fall out of a pocket of another runner or walker? I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t EVER carry change when I run. Ever since the day that Granny took her last breath, I have been on the lookout for coins (and bills, for that matter). Nearly EVERY TIME I run, walk, or even hike, I find at least one coin. I even have my husband on the lookout now, too. We walk into grocery stores and scan the floors. Gas stations and convenience stores almost always have coin(s) on the floor. We have found them in some very strange places as well!

I have been collecting coins for six years now, and they have added up to quite a mound. I decided a couple years ago to create something with them — something meaningful that I could see often, something inspiring. I bought three matching frames and some special glue, and this is what I came up with:

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Live Out Loud. This has been one of my mottos for many years. I have hung these three frames, each measuring about 18″ x 12″, in my exercise room where I can see them and am reminded of the presence of my Granny daily. I have since collected enough coins to also adorn a frame that holds a photo of Granny:

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Isn’t she a gem? Every single one of the coins on these frames has been found on the ground while I am out and about, and my collection continues to grow. I know that my Granny runs with me and is cheering for me every step of the way.

Thanks for letting me share this personal and spiritual experience with you. I hope your activities have more meaning than just EXERCISE; let your activities strengthen your physical body as well as your emotional and spiritual needs. Happy trails!

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE…

This past weekend, I had the privilege of flying to Phoenix where my oldest son picked me up from the airport and assured my comfort in his home. It was a very big weekend for many in Phoenix, with the focus being primarily on a wedding. I opted out of the Sand Hollow Marathon in Hurricane because it fell on this important weekend, but I was still determined to knock out another marathon before Boston next month. I opted to name this solo marathon the “Hugie/Kenrick Acura Inaugural Marathon” as a tribute to my son, who helped make it happen, and a dear friend of mine, Conor Kenrick, who was celebrating his 29th birthday that very day. Because of this desire to sneak in a long run of marathon distance, I routed a course which started from my son’s house in Central Phoenix and then connected to a trail which paralleled the canal which extends around the perimeter of the city for miles and miles. The trail consists of fine gravel and dirt as well as concrete (like a wide sidewalk), depending on the location. I calculated that if I ran an out-and-back course, 13.1 miles each way, I could make the route scenic and mostly traffic-free while traversing along the trail next to the canal. I loaded my Camelbak vest with all of the essentials, including tissue, Band-Aids, gel blocks, peanut M&M’s, cash, and a credit card. Oh, and I filled the bladder with big chunks of ice (but no added water), anticipating drinking cold ice water along the way as it melted.

 

I checked the weather report and double-checked my route, then headed out at 6:30 a.m. just as the sun was rising. The temperature was in the mid 50’s. I recall thinking how good it felt to run up the street in the brisk morning air, feeling grateful that my legs were rested and ready for the distance which I was about to require of them. At about mile 3.5, the road joined with the canal trail, where I ran and exchanged pleasantries (I have always wanted to use that term) with other fellow joggers and dog-walkers. Other than about a dozen busy road crossings, the trail was perfect for a morning run. At about mile 10, I passed a swanky mall in Scottsdale where shoppers were bustling about, getting their morning on.

Heretofore, the ice in my Camelbak bladder was not melting at the rate which I had expected. Hence, I was only allowed about one good swallow of cold water every mile or so. I decided to get to mile 13 and then turn around, stopping at the mall for a bladder check (both mine and the pack’s).  Mile 16 was the point where I was strolling the halls of the mall, looking for a water fountain and a restroom. Jamba Juice seemed to be the obvious choice for some cold liquid sustenance, so I stopped at their kiosk and described to General Manager Brandon (pictured here with me) what I was doing. He was all too happy to oblige me by filling up my Camelbak bladder with chopped ice and water. It was the size of a volleyball when I stuffed it back into my vest.

With the sun high in the sky by this time, and along with it rising heat, my new goal was to finish my run before noon. I passed up the urge to buy a new shirt or pair of shoes and tarried on my merry way back to Tyson’s house. I am never in too big of a hurry, however, to stop and take photos of beautiful flowers along the way.

With just 2 miles left to go, my watch warned me that it was down to 10% battery. I figured that if I ran quickly I could get my 26.2 miles recorded before the battery died, so I took off on a pretty good sprint. About a block from my finish line, I looked down to check on the time and distance and….. nothing. The battery life was depleted. Feeling dejected (and somewhat dizzy), I stopped at a convenience store to buy a chocolate milk. Having nearly passed out at the counter while paying, I realized that my last block could feel like a mile. I staggered across the street heading toward the house and a wave of nausea came over me. It was all I could do to input the garage code and then weave through five cars in the garage to the interior door. Once inside, I barely got my vest off before collapsing on to the bed, where I curled up for the next hour (sweaty and all) and drifted in and out of a light sleep.

Later that evening, my son presented me with a Finisher Certificate which he had fashioned on his computer and then signed to make it official, plus a medal that he found in his stash and was willing to donate to my cause.

I later realized that my Camelbak bladder was completely empty! That is how much water I ingested over the final 10 miles, which tells me I was on the verge of dehydration. With the coming warmer summer months, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of hydrating adequately. I love LOVE my Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest which holds 1.5 liters. I hardly know it’s there while I am running. I will get much use out of it with trail runs planned soon. My advice is to be sure and route your runs where there is access to plenty of water…. not the canal kind, but the drinking kind! Happy trails!

 

Feeding the Soul

This weekend I indulged in a much needed local getaway with the hubs.  After a long week at work, I booked a much needed appointment for us to “feed our soul”:).  Red Mountain Spa is in a beautiful location in Ivins, Utah.  If you haven’t been there, you’re in for a treat!  They have a special for local peeps to go to lunch and get a massage for $108 a person, and oh, what a treat!  We decided to ride on the motorcycle because it was such a beautiful day here in Southern Utah and during the ride,  I took in the majestic beauty that is all around us–the beautiful red mountains, the sunshine on our backs, the blue sky and clear air, and being with my sweetheart for just a few hours with no electronic distractions.  It was medicine for my soul.

Upon arriving at this beautiful facility, we were greeted by the front desk employees and the lady at the front was one of our patients (my hubs is a dentist and I am the office manager of our practice) and it was kind of funny because she did not know we were married. LOL.  We got our lunch ticket and went to the restaurant to eat and it was delicious.  The salad bar was mouth water worthy and there are several other fresh buffet items to choose from as well.  We enjoyed eating outside and each other’s company.  After lunch, we went back to the spa facility and the front desk gave us a key to our locker in the dressing room and rubber slip on sandals that are so comfy.  The massage was incredible and it was so relaxing and a much needed reset for the two of us.

Some times when life gets crazy, we need to think of a way to reset, whether it’s reading from a good book, having a spa afternoon, going on a much needed trip, reading from spiritual magazines or books, yoga, or whatever you need to do.  Take a few minutes this week and think of a way that you can calm your spirit and just “BE” for a time.  It does wonders for the soul.  Hugs!

Red Mountain 55K, 30K, and Dirty Hurty Half Marathon, March 4, 2017

Yesterday was a very popular day in Washington County for athletes, park-goers, and sun worshippers. Many events took place, and my event of choice was the Dirty Hurty Half Marathon in Ivins.  https://redmountain50k.com/   A friend of mine who had participated in this trail race four times previously, Sandy, came down from Northern Utah, and we made arrangements to hook up. With alarm set for 4:15 a.m. and my running apparel with bib set out the night prior, I felt ready.

Race morning arrived and I grabbed my traditional pre-race breakfast of bagel, peanut butter, and banana, then set out to pick up Sandy. We drove  the 16 miles to Ivins and hopped on a bus which drove us the 3 miles to the starting line. Having arrived there with time to spare, we had about 45 minutes to kill before Steve Hooper (race organizer and owner of St. George Running Center) counted down, “Three, two, one, GO!” The temperature was in the mid 40’s but we were comfortable with extra layers.

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The first section of the race was up a wide dirt trail, which narrowed and became more rocky as we progressed. Runners became more spread out, and, as the sun rose, many of them (including Sandy and me) paused to take photos and appreciate the beauty.

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Sandy was a great leader and followed the markers religiously. Apparently she had taken a few wrong turns with about 30 other runners a few years back when the course was not so well marked. With hydration strapped to our bodies, we made our way along the trail, sometimes stepping aside for other (faster) runners who were either coming up from behind or who had already made a loop and were coming back toward us at speeds that would put a mountain goat to shame!

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There were a few times when the rocks along the trail reached up and grabbed my feet, causing me to lurch forward or nearly twist an ankle. I kept reminding myself that trail running is so very different than road running, such that one must pick up one’s legs a little higher in an effort to avoid biting the dust. There was a gentleman a bit ahead of us who took a spill, not once but TWICE within the mile that we followed him. Well, my fear became reality when at mile 10.5 I did the same — a good old-fashioned face plant on the trail. I still cannot rehearse in my mind what happened. All I know is that I was upright one second, then heading down the next, arms flailing forward in an effort to catch myself. My right cheek literally bounced off the dirt (I am fortunate that there were no rocks at that very spot) and my sunglasses flew 2 feet off my head. Sandy, in the meantime, was still telling her story and running along ahead of me, oblivious that I was sprawled out on the ground. We laugh about it now, but at the time, all I could think about was notifying Sandy that I could not hear her anymore. I also wondered who might be behind us….other runners who may have witnessed my ungraceful fall. Ugh! I picked myself up and Sandy ran back to me and helped brush me off. I spit the dirt out of my mouth and quickly took damage inventory. Other than some bruising on my shins, hands, and cheek, I was golden. We took off running again, making our way to the finish line at Unity Park in Ivins. Hands grasped together and raised over our heads, we crossed with a time of 2:34:06.

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The post-race snacks were delectable and the medals were so big and heavy that I could have used a wheelbarrow to haul it to the car in the parking lot — that or a very strong neck, which I have, thanks to my chiropractor/husband, Todd. 🙂  It was another great run, thanks to the sponsors and the participants. I cannot overemphasize the positive energy felt at such an event. I hope to, through osmosis or some other way, glean from the people in attendance, either on the course or on the sidelines doing all the cheering!

Until the next race report, or just another blog post, happy trails!