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!

Dog Town Half Marathon, 2/25/17, Washington, Utah

A great race!


On Saturday, February 25, 2017 we ran Dog Town Half Marathon in Washington, Utah. This was a beautiful race and one that we highly recommend. The course was full of beautiful scenery and a whole lot of fun. The course changed this year and a lot more downhill was the result, and who doesn’t love downhill?  Tia and I started out together and then parted our separate ways.  There is an unsaid code with our running friends — “If you feel good, go for it.” We do not want to ever hold each other back from doing our personal best; however, we did say beforehand that we were going to take it easy — NOT! Haha.  Here are some snippets from our run!

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A RACE RECAP 🙂