Huntsman World Senior Games Cycling (Road Race) 10/14/17

I got a tad behind with my blog postings recently, attributed to the recent move and nonstop action secondary to unpacking, organizing, and updating things around the house. Since there is no rest for the weary, and with another event next weekend, I decided to spend this afternoon getting caught up rather than basking in the sun while sipping on cool liquid and listening to good music. Hopefully, there will be more days like today when I can do such things as that….

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Huntsman World Senior Games which comes on the heels of the St. George Marathon every October. I was offered a complimentary registration to any event by Senior Games Massage and Chiropractic since they are official sponsors of the Senior Games and have been for many years. Last year, I opted to run the 5K race. This year, however, I decided to expand my horizon and register for a bicycling event. I have really LOVED biking lately, and this was the perfect opportunity to mingle with some of the greatest senior athletes around. I say “around” but I really do mean around…. the world. As the title indicates, these are the WORLD Senior Games, and these folks travel from many different countries to participate.

I learned over a birthday breakfast conversation with one of my favorite friends, Peg, that she, too, was registered in some biking events. Unfortunately, her events did not overlap with mine (she did the Hill Climb and the Time Trial, while I did the Road Race). We met up this past Monday at the Dixie Center for a mandatory meeting for all bikers to get the scoop/details on the various events.

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As Peg and I sat there in that convention center, we looked around us and discussed how inspiring these “senior” athletes are. There was a definite buzz in the air, with an energy level likely adequate to power the city of St. George for weeks!

I admit that I was more nervous for my biking event than I was for the St. George Marathon. My husband had to bring me down a time or two (or three) and tell me just to chill. I had a great deal of apprehension about the course, that being a really decent climb from Gunlock up to Veyo, then up Veyo hill (same route as the marathon), and then a decent descent down through Snow Canyon with a finish in Ivins. The distance I had opted for was 37K, which translates to 22.5 miles. It wasn’t the distance, but the course I was concerned about…. pedaling with legs that were tired from a recent marathon.

With an 8:30 check-in time in the little town of Gunlock (about 30 miles’ drive from our house), Todd loaded up me and my bike in the truck, and off we went. It was COLD at the starting line, and the decision regarding whether or not to wear my jacket was agonizing.  I followed Todd’s recommendation and left the jacket with him, and 3 miles into it was grateful I had done so.

Here I am pictured with a new friend whose name is Robert; he is originally from Paris, France, but resides in Los Angeles these days. Robert has a big name in cycling history and, though he is humble (and shorter than I), he has every right to boast. Being now 82 years old, he has been cycling for something like 65 years! Everyone at the HWSG seems to know and respect him. As we parted ways to line up at the starting line, he said, “See you on the podium!” in his adorable French accent.

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I had the perfect jersey on which to have the logo for Senior Games Massage and Chiropractic heat transferred.

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The men were to be given a 5-minute lead in front of the women, and we all lined up at the starting line in anticipation of the “GO” command.

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It felt so good to warm up quickly and know that the “the wall” (as they call it) was early on in the course at mile 4.5 — before legs were too thrashed. At this point, some women were catching some of the men, and a handful of cyclists were walking up the hill with their bikes. It was about a 10% grade, if Map My Ride holds true on its elevation chart.

We pedaled through Veyo and turned the corner on to State Road 18, then up Veyo hill we rode. The riders were really starting to spread out and I imagined that I was just on a leisurely bike ride by myself on a beautiful Friday morning. It wasn’t too many more miles before the course turned right to follow down through Snow Canyon. I have to say, this was my favorite part! Looking ahead as well as behind me, I spied not another cyclist as far as my eyes could see. The road has recently been repaved, the curves are delightful, and the downhill grade offered about a 30 MPH speed. This section of the course had been closed to through traffic, so essentially the road was all ours for the taking — and take I did. It seemed to end too quickly, and before I knew it, I was heading west towards Ivins where the finish line was set up by the fire station. The time on the clock when I finished read 1:30, but since women cyclists were 5 minutes detained, my true time was 1:25.

I took the opportunity to go “live” on Facebook (12 minutes’ worth) during which I “interviewed” Robert, asking his advice for this or that. I promised to “friend” him on Facebook and have already sent him a request. Just as he predicted, I saw him on the podium; he took 2nd place (silver medal) in his age division, and I took 3rd place (bronze) in mine. These seniors are unstoppable! Many women who are older than I completely wasted me on that course!

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It took 2 additional hours for the award ceremonies to be completed, following which I hopped back on my bike and pedaled another 19 miles to home. I am pretty sure I was smiling the entire way.

 

 

St. George Marathon 10/07/17

Another wonderful fall marathon has come and gone. It seems that six months of anticipation is not enough, because the Big Day sneaks up quickly and BAM! The alarm clock is set for 3 a.m. and it’s judgment day! This year I vowed not to put too much emphasis on training, at least not as much as in years past; this has been a very busy year and we just recently moved, the move from hell (downsizing can be tricky, as is letting go of unneeded belongings).

I have experienced new adventures this year (refer to prior blog posts) and this marathon has not been my main emphasis. Still, though, 26.2 miles is always 26.2 miles and should not be taken too lightly. Early on, friends and family members teamed up and created a private Facebook page through which we offered each other encouragement, training tips, and inspirational photos. Those involved included my niece and nephew, my son, my friend from California, and my niece’s friends. It seems easier to pursue a big goal when you have a lot of moral support!

I hosted a carbo-loading dinner the night prior to the marathon, feeding about 14 adults with the financial and meal prep assistance of niece Jandi and her BFF, Katrina. As per past history, packet-pickup day at the expo turned out to be a frenzy of activity. The planned baked potato bar quickly turned into a less-time-involved pasta meal. Even my parents in their mid 80’s came to join the dinner party.

It was early to bed that night for some, not so early for me; 10 p.m. found me with eyes wide open and a racing heart in anticipation of an expected 3-4 hours of sleep. Ugh. I guess when I quit stressing the night before a race, it’s time to unlace my shoes and call it quits. It was a stress encompassing excitement, fear, and anxiety.

One of the trickiest aspects of running a marathon is deciding what to wear. Seeing that the temperature variation would shift from 40’s to 80’s, it was my goal to bundle up sufficiently for the around-the-bonfire, windy hour’s wait at the starting line at Central. After meeting up with the others, including another friend of Jandi by the name of Angie, we all loaded up on the same bus and made the trek north up State Road 18. Blankets, jackets, gloves, and space blankets were appreciated there. The camaraderie with my companions was palpable. We laughed A LOT. You could not find a funner blend of people if you tried.

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We toed the line a little late since the last bus was delayed for whatever reason. We had a tailwind initially which helped push us down the course. We split up early on, Matt and I running stride for stride while Jandi and Katrina brought up the rear. I lost track of Tyson immediately but he prefers to run under the radar, if you know what I mean.

Matt had expressed his goal to get a PR, his previous one and only marathon time being 9 years ago and fetching him 4:29. He had trained sufficiently and I knew his will was strong. We kept up a good pace (sub 9’s, according to his watch) going into Veyo. At that point, I took a pit stop at a port-a-potty and had banked enough time (I thought) to catch him again when I got done. However, he was nowhere in sight and I knew not whether he was way up ahead or still behind me. Ascending Veyo hill there at mile 8, I called Jandi and was pleased and somewhat surprised when she answered my call. She informed me that she and Katrina were at the bottom of the hill. I walked and waited for them to catch up, then picked up their pace with them. I quickly decided that it would be easier for me to “leap frog” with them than to stay with them and their long legs. I ran ahead at my own pace, then walked until they reconnected. This was the case for the next dozen or so miles.

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We were exchanging group text messages with Tyson in an effort to keep tabs on each others’ locations. Dillon, whom I chanced upon at about mile 12, was having issues with leg cramping; he was off on the side of the road trying to stretch. For a brief time, the four of us stayed together.

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At the point where Snow Canyon’s view manifests itself rounding the corner just past mile 13, I opted to bust down the hill to the next aid station.

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Just past that aid station, I found a friend named Shawna, who had reserved an ice cold bottled Coke for me at mile 17. Shawna has been in that same spot every year. No liquid has ever tasted so sweet and refreshing as that Coke! I saved some of it and shared with Jandi and Katrina, who agreed that it was better than liquid gold.

We continued pounding the pavement, appreciating the (finally) downhill stretch that last 8 or so miles. I was within a mile of Tyson, who was that far ahead, when I decided to catch up to him — and it took me a few miles to do so, but I came upon him at about mile 22.

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I expressed to Tyson my desire that we all be together when we got to mile 24, where my dear mom, sister, husband, niece and her husband, and three of Tyson’s good friends (Conor, Josh, and Jason) would be waiting for us. Some time prior to this, Dillon had bailed due to legs that were not cooperating; he was picked up by my sister (his mom) so he was there waiting in the group for us, too.

It was a sweet reunion! My mom, as per tradition, was sitting in her red camp chair, holding a handmade sign on which she had penned a poem for us runners. We must have hung out there for 3-4 minutes, exchanging hugs and comments plus taking many photos, before we pressed on to the finish line.

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I have to add here that Conor had flown in from New York City, Josh had driven from Boise, Idaho, and Jason had driven from Albuquerque, New Mexico — all to support me and Tyson. Honestly, though, they were also there to commemorate a huge milestone with Tyson and his Acura Legend. But that’s another story, one which they will highlight in their own blogs.

I had learned from Tyson via text message along the course that my grandkids were waiting for us at Judd’s. This was the next big incentive I had for staying strong and dismissing my discomfort. I rounded the corner and could see them a block away, sitting on the curb, waiting for us. I sprinted over to them and they greeted me in the middle of the street. I explained to them that Uncle Tyson was close behind, so we ran back to him with giggles and smiles. Words cannot express the love and delight I felt from seeing so many supporters!

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Matt had long since finished, meeting his goal of a new PR with a time of 4:22. Katrina finished about 5 minutes ahead of us with a time of 5:00, and I ran in with Tyson and Jandi with a time of 5:04. I chugged 2 cartons of chocolate milk and made my way to the bag drop where Todd was digging through them to find mine. He is such a great companion. He is the most patient man I know, and I love him to pieces.

As per protocol, we took a few more photos to document our experience. Matt and I had run a previous race together, the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, about a dozen years ago. This pose was trying to imitate the pose in a photo taken on that day so long ago.

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And Tyson, with his plethora of training (I think he busted out a couple 3-milers this year) had another marathon under his belt. It must be nice to be young and invincible!

Anxious to get cleaned up, eat, and rest, likely in that order, we dispersed and made our way back home with new memories to recall for years down the road (so to speak).

It feels good to have marathon #41 and St. George Marathon #16 in the books. As long as my mom is able to be somewhere along the sidelines, I will go the distance to earn her praise and see her poster. Until next year….over and out.

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Tushars Half Marathon Trail Run 07/29/17

Anyone who knows me understands my organizational nature. That being said, when I have an upcoming event, I begin a week or two ahead of time with a list (imagine that — me, making a list!) of items to take, adding to it as things come to mind. Then a couple of days prior to departure, I adhere to said list and compile my items. It’s slick! It’s easy! It’s a no-brainer! So I felt well prepared for this race, especially since I had run it last year and was able to learn from that experience regarding what I would and would not need. Obviously, the most important need was a (drum roll here) HYDRATION PACK. I have several of them ranging in size and shape. One is best used to hike across the Grand Canyon; one is specifically to wear while biking; and one was purchased last year for trail running. I have worn it often and have loved my Camelbak pack. So when Todd and I arrived at our destination 2 hours away (remote cabin in the woods) and unloaded the truck, panic set in quickly when I realized that the blue bag which held all of my running needs was left at home. LEFT AT HOME!!! My confidence level was immediately shattered and I began to brainstorm about alternatives. I knew I would need drinking water on this run.

We were too far from the town of Beaver to consider driving back down the canyon, plus it was early evening and after store closing time. The only store I imagined that would still be open was the grocery store, and I doubt it would have backpacking supplies. I rummaged around the cabin and spied a durable Klim backpack in which were my son’s tools for his ATV’s (a tool “emergency kit”). He gave me permission to use it (it had a bladder) but even after I emptied out the tools, it was heavy and bulky on my back. I considered carrying plastic water bottles in my hands (the small kind you buy at the store) but that posed the problem of not being hands-free to hold my trekking poles. Thus, the debate went back and forth.

I decided to wait until my running buddy, Misty, arrived to see if she by chance had brought a spare pack. We met up with her at packet pickup at the ski lodge at Eagle Point. She had no extra pack; however, there was a tent set up for St. George Running Center where water bottles and packs were being sold. I bypassed the nicer $127 pack and sprung for the “insulated” $27 hand-held 17-ounce Camelbak option. My stress level went down a notch with that purchase, but just one notch, not two.

Carbo-loading was as simple as handing over a meal ticket and dishing up a big plate of spaghetti and breadsticks, catered by Eagle Point and overseen by the dude who manages the bicycle shop there at the lodge. He assured me that he was not the chef — he was just assigned a shift at the dinner meal that night. Whew.

Misty, Todd, and I mingled with other runners and the energy was palpable. There was a crispness in the air and we knew that, come morning, the temperature would warrant a light jacket. We retreated back to the cabin and turned in fairly early (10-ish) with a 6 a.m. wake-up alarm set.

I got roughly 6 hours of sleep that night, though piecemeal, but I’ll take it. The race start for the half marathon was 7:30 which meant plenty of time to pull things together and get to the starting line which was just 1 mile and a 5-minute drive away. I filled up my new water bottle and ingested a PB&H made with “thinwich” bread and called it good. Todd took us to the starting line.

Aside from my trail running shoes, the most important article of clothing that I had chosen to wear was a headband that originally read, “It’s All About Me.” I had crossed out the word “Me” and written the name KIMMY BROOKS in its place. I was dedicating this run to Kimmy, a girl with whom I had just become acquainted recently. Kimmy sustained a horrible leg injury in a boating accident a few weeks ago, in which she nearly lost a fight with the boat’s propeller. Through a common connection, I was able to visit her in the hospital where she was recovering. Kimmy is very strong and positive, and she inspired me further that WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. At several points along the course, I called out to Kimmy, as if she was there, reminding her, “We’ve got this!”

 

At 7:15, we huddled with the other runners and received some last-minute instructions. There was no signal such as a gunshot, just a verbal “3-2-1, GO!” And we were off.

The first part of the half marathon course was downhill for maybe a half mile, then turned sharply left (north) and went uphill for a mile or so. I fast-walked the climbs, conserving my energy for later. It was a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky and temperatures in the 50’s. The elevation was 10,500 feet and THAT, my friends, is the clincher. After a couple of miles, I opted to shed the sleeve portion of my jacket and wadded it up and stuffed it into my back pocket. Fortunately, the jacket I had chosen to wear had 5 pockets of various sizes, all easy to access. In them I had put a GU that I found in my purse, a coin that was given to me by a friend as a good luck token, another PB&H sandwich, and some Clif Shot Bloks.

We climbed up and leveled out, climbed more then leveled out, and so on and so forth. Misty had long since disappeared ahead of me, and all I could really see was the backside of the runner in front of me on a single-track trail. Sometimes the trail was smooth and covered with shed pine needles, making it spongy and soft to run on, while at other times it was laden with rocks of the large and small variety. Runners spread out quickly, and for every one runner who I passed, it seemed that I was passed by two more. I was determined to set my own pace and not feel too rushed. The time limit for the half marathon is 6 hours, which is oodles of time to cover 13.1 miles on any terrain (at least for most folks I know).

I was thoroughly enjoying my autonomy, stopping on occasion to record a video or take a few photos with my iPhone. I knew I would want plenty of evidence for this blog post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ran on the flats and descents, hiked on the ascents. Our Aid Station was at mile 4, which I had reached in just about an hour. Just past this station, the lead runner in the half marathon passed me on his return route back to the finish line. Seriously! He was a full 5 miles ahead of me at that point. I felt like a snail. At about mile 5, after running on a dirt road for a mile, we turned right abruptly and began our climb of Mount Delano.

 

According to Wikipedia, Delano Peak is the highest point in the Tushar Mountains of south-central Utah. The Tushars are the third-highest range in the state, after the Uinta Mountains and the La Sal Range. It is named after Columbus Delano, Secretary of the Interior during the Grant administration. The grandcircletrails.com website states, “The Tushar mountain range is a hidden treasure of 12,000 foot peaks not far from Bryce Canyon. This is one of the most challenging courses in the Grand Circle Trail Series.” And also, “The half marathon takes the Skyline trail to the aid station, then does an out-and-back climb up to the summit of Mt. Delano at 12,169 feet, then returns the way they came to the finish line.” Starting at 10,500 feet then going up and back down, there is a total elevation change of about 3300 feet over the course of the 13 miles.

Having decided against my trekking poles, as really this 1.5-mile stretch of the course is the only section I thought I might need them, I had quick recollection of the race last year and how I would go only so far before having to stop and catch my breath. This time I tried a different approach, that being a side-stepping method of ascension which proved very successful for me. It was a very steep mountain, and those runners who were suffering due to the elevation were having to stop and catch their breath time and time again.

I could hear a jubilant voice coming down the mountain, and soon discovered that it belonged to my new friend, John. He was hammering down Delano on his way to his 100K goal. John later would have to make the choice of continuing pursuit of his goal or giving it up to stop and help other runners who were in dire straits (suffering from hypothermia, for instance). His choice showed his true character.

Here is John’s recap of his race experience that day, as posted to his Facebook page and copied here with his permission (and as you can see, he did not use paragraphs, so take a deep breath and plow through his report — smiley face):

Tushar update.. all is well. I replied in length to questions about my post , here is a summary of my race experience. The race is beautiful and extremely hard. I ran huge races all year just to prepare for it thinking it was probably at the outer most limits of my abilities. I surprised myself by staying well within the cutoffs and took extra rest time at aid stations when I banked more time on the course. I think over 60% of field dropped or was pulled from race, a scenario playing out way to much in ultras these days. Leadville finishers said it was a harder finish for them, the flagging crew led by Patrick Sweeney said it matched the first 50 of Hardrock, needless to say averaging 10500 ft in elevation it was extremely hard! I banked time thru the aid stations because the hardest cutoff was 9:30 pm at mile 48 at Miners Park, right before a 4000 ft climb from 8500 to 12500 ft. I wanted 2 hr buffer there not knowing how I’d fare that late in the race on such a huge climb. Leaving Bullion Pasture with a 7 mile 3300 ft descent it started to pour and hail alternately with thunder and lightning, huge rain that you only get at altitude. Fun shit, I hammered down spread out in a group of 6-8 while 10 others were still at aid station. We were last of potential finishers as 70 people were pulled at cutoff at previous aid station. I pulled over when it was raining so hard it was just better to watch it for a while, I had plenty of time. People with essentially no gear went by, tough guys I thought, turned out they were just dumb. 1-1/2 miles from aid station a gal I had been running with ( I recognized everyone at this point having seen and talked to them at previous aid stations) came running up trail saying 1/4 mile down a flash flood at a creek crossing took out the trail, the creek was impassible, and a woman had a boulder roll over her leg and broke it. A guy she was running with stayed with the hurt woman and asked this gal to run back up the mtn to the aid station to get help. As we were talking 6-8 others made it down, all improperly dressed and about to go into hyperthermia. We said she couldn’t go alone and everyone looked at me, the only guy having fun, warm, dry, and properly dressed. Of course I immediately offered to go and off we went for another huge climb. I figured I could make it up and back if the rain stopped and finish a bigger version of race. We hammered up to the top and found since everyone quit they shut down early, no need to stay open after last guy left right. A course sweeper had just gotten dropped off and his ride had left. He was surprised to see us and we explained situation. It had stopped raining about 45 min before and I thought maybe we’d just hammer down and they’d give us some leeway on cutoff if we missed it. I turned to Ken ( yes that was her name) and saw she wasn’t moving as was locked up freezing, it took about 5 min of standing there. Todd the course sweeper tried to call out but no service so we wrapped Ken in plastic, gave Todd both our cells and as I tried to keep her warm by vigorously rubbing her arms and back he ran up road and used all our cell phones to get help. An hour later he got thru, they were 2 hours away due to having to evacuate 25 or so people from the lower aid station and help search and rescue get the woman with the broken leg out. The shit can go south fast at altitude. Todd and I worked on Ken, putting dry socks on her and rubbing her for warmth for 2 more hours until a truck made it to us. It all worked out in end other than I didn’t get to finish race. Kind of selfish but #*@%, every race I did this year, 9 big ones, was training for this. In the end I asked the race directors not to give me a dnf since we were responsible for getting word out about the woman who broke her leg and how we worked on Ken to keep her warm. They laughed and said they wouldn’t think of it and had heard about how in the middle of the storm we went up to get help not knowing when the creek would be able to be crossed. It was a awesome adventure but as I stated in some replies to my initial post, I am quite disgusted in the course ultramarathoning is taking. Races with a30% drop rate are the norm and this one and the next one I’m doing, Castle Peak are selling out and having 50-60% drop rates. Inexperienced and unqualified ( racers, ha ) are taking hard to get spots in races they can’t possibly finish! It puts undue stress on the race organizers and many people just quit when they get uncomfortable. I haven’t gotten into one lottery race I tried to enter and they’re making qualifiers to easy so the pool of people trying to enter lottery races is getting huge. After talking to Tushars RD’s, they like Castle Peak, are requiring hard qualifiers and a mandatory gear list. I wish the other races would follow suit. Do the hard shit!!!

This race really separated seasoned runners like John from the newbies (like I am). I agree with him that there ought to be some kind of checklist (list…. did someone say list?) of requirements to know about as well as to take in preparation for a run this gnarly, and I am certain that next year the race directors will put something together accordingly.

Now back to my story, it started to seem that Delano peak was out of my grasp when I finally laid eyes on it way at the top of the hill. People had gathered around the sign to celebrate and take a break. Misty was just starting to come back down when I got there, and I convinced her to come back to the sign “Delano Peak — 12,169 feet” with me for a photo. In hindsight, I should have let her bust back down the hill to the finish line because she may have placed in the top 3 females. I, on the other hand, took advantage of the crowd and did a little FaceBook Live videoing. Apparently I need some schooling on how to do that, because in the video, the sign is backwards. More conversations ensued as well as a few more photos, and then I started my descent.

I have always been a little timid going down steep, rocky trails. Images of a sprained ankle or a face plant were vivid in my mind. I picked every step carefully and made my way purposefully back to the same Aid Station that was at mile 4 (now mile 9, approximately). I had run out of water by that time so filled my bottle with Tailwind-enhanced water.

I committed myself to the final 4 miles, during which time I saw only a few other runners, one way up ahead and a couple way behind me. I did my best to run on the level and downhill sections, and hoof it quickly on the uphill sections.

I had secretly set a goal of beating my time last year which was 4:02, so a sub 4-hour finish seemed reasonable. My iWatch actually only measured a distance of 12.76 miles when I crossed the finish line in 3:53 and some change, but I’ll take it. Misty was there to greet me, having crossed the line 19 minutes ahead of me; she was the 5th woman to finish and I was the 9th.

I regret that Todd could not be there to see me in since he was 10 miles away at an Aid Station offering medical care to any runners in need. Fortunately, there were no runners in need, at least not at his Aid Station. We learned later that many runners suffered as a result of torrential rain and subsequent flash flooding that washed out the trail and made it impassable, one woman even being mowed over by a large boulder that broke her leg. She had to be air-lifted out to receive medical attention.

With a tough race under our belts, Misty and I were craving protein, so we made our way down to the Canyonside Restaurant and each ordered a half-pound cheeseburger with grilled onions and bacon. Yum! It was easily the best hamburger with a side of fries that I have ever eaten.

Later after Todd’s shift at his Aid Station, we returned to the finish line to witness the first 100K (62 miles) runner finish in a time of 13 hours 33 minutes. That’s insane! He looked like he was just getting started.

We returned home after a restful day at the cabin, and when we walked in we saw this sitting on the floor near the back door — the bag with my hydration pack! Oh well, there is always next time to get it right.

I made a few new friends at this event, which is what I always hope to be able to take away from such activities. Let me make mention here of John, Charlene, and Kayli.

According to my iWatch, I did not meet my standing goal this day, but I burned 1400 calories, exercised for nearly 4 hours, and completed 31,865 steps. There were 18 half-marathon finishers in front of me and 50 behind me. I had such a good experience that I am entertaining the option of doing the marathon next year. The Tushars is where it’s at! But don’t tell anyone, because I like having the place pretty much to myself!

Desperado Duel 50-Mile Bike Race 07/15/17

When the time rolled around for the annual Desperado Duel Bike Race, (details on website ridesouthernutah.com), I quickly hopped online to register because I was already familiar with the course and scenery. Back at that time, the event featured 100- and 200-mile options, hence the word “dual” in the title. I had previously ridden the century ride (which is actually 109 miles, not 100) back in 2005. I recall vividly the headwind that was present for the distance between Circleville and Panguitch, roughly 30 miles. It took me 6 hours and 48 minutes to finish that thing! The 200-mile option is no longer offered, but instead are 50, 100, and 150-mile courses (hence the spelling of “duel” now). This time, I opted for the 50-mile distance (actually closer to 52, per my bike calculator) which was described as an out-and-back course starting in Panguitch and winding through Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest along Highway 12 near Bryce, Utah (check it out on utah.com/bryce-canyon-national-park/bryce-canyon).  This is what the Ride Southern Utah website states about the course:

The 50-mile route has a total gain of 2066 feet. It has one Category 2 climb at the beginning of the event. (The climb rating system goes from 1 to 5 with 5 being the easiest). You’ll climb 1205 feet in the first 13 miles — an average grade of only 1.7%. After that, the course flattens out and you’ll only gain 867 feel in the final 37 miles. 

Panguitch (Utah) is a drive of about 1 hour 45 minutes from St. George. Its elevation is 6624 feet and population approximately 1500. The 4000 feet of elevation change from St. George to Panguitch translates to meaning it is MUCH cooler this time of year! We were all too happy to leave the 100-degree temperatures and trade them for the 80’s.

I was privileged to work at the event’s packet pickup for 4 hours that evening, meeting other riders and mingling with some high-energy individuals who motivate and inspire me — and make me laugh.

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And none of my activities would run as smoothly without the help of my husband, who is always willing to participate and be where I need him when I need him to be there.

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Pictured here with Kellie, one of the greatest bike riders I know, both mountain and road. For real.

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My dear and long-time friend, Sherri, having also registered for the 50-miler, arrived in Panguitch Friday evening. We coordinated plans for race morning, which was to meet at the starting area around 6:45 a.m.

The Sandman always makes himself scarce prior to any event in which I participate. Sleep had NOT been in abundance on Saturday morning when I awoke at 4 a.m. I readied for the ride and again worked at packet pickup from 5 to 6:30 a.m. I then donned my biking helmet, shoes, and gloves, and found Sherri among the approximately 300 riders; she was looking like a million bucks, as usual.

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Sherri wanted to stick together, but I encouraged her to climb the hill at her own pace (she is a much stronger rider than I). At 7 a.m., after a little instruction from the race director, Margaret, we crossed the starting line and ventured out in the 55-degree temperature. As expected, Sherri was knocking out the miles one at a time more quickly than I was, and I finally lost sight of her at about mile 5.

The course took a sharp left and we were on highway 12, heading due east toward Bryce Canyon National Park. Bikers were directed to leave the roadway and take the trail that parallels the highway. The trail is maybe 10 feet wide and covered in shade offered by the tall pine trees surrounding it. I am pretty sure I had a perma-grin on my face, and for certain I called out to anyone who may have been listening, “THIS IS THE LIFE!!” I took a couple of selfies during that stretch of trail, first making sure that no other bikers were around me (I did not want to take any chances of causing an accident).

At about mile 20, the course turned north on to Johns Valley Road. It was along this route that some of the faster 50-milers were heading back down, and I was looking for Sherri. I counted about a dozen bikers by the time I reached the aid station at approximately mile 25, which was loaded with all the best goodies that bikers crave! The line to the port-a-potty was long and I decided that I could “hold it” for another hour or so. I set back out quickly, reversing my route and heading back toward Highway 12 south along Johns Valley Road. I passed Sherri, who was going the opposite direction, and I later learned that a big group of bikers had missed the turn at the intersection where Johns Valley Road is to the left and Ruby’s Inn is to the right — and that group of bikers went straight, which means they added a couple of miles, at least!

I busted back down the trail pedaling as fast as my little legs would go. I mostly stayed in a small clump of bikers, leaving enough space ahead of me to allow me to see the trail. The only close mishap was coming around a corner and seeing a young boy, maybe 3 years old, on his little bike with training wheels right in the middle of the trail. At that point, we were going 20-25 MPH and I was not sure what he would do, but he stayed put and we swung around him.

I felt really good the entire way back, eventually separating myself from the other bikers by a couple of minutes. My goal was to finish under 3 hours, and the time clock read 2:59:47 when I passed under it. Goal achieved! Sherri came in at 3:11 (but remember, she had more miles) looking strong and invincible. My time put me at the 7th female out of 49 in the 50-mile category, and 21st out of 110 overall (men and women in 50-miler).

Here is Sherri at the finish line, with husband in the background:

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I chatted with my friends on the tandem bike, Shaun and his daughter, Kira, who had finished a few minutes ahead of me. I also warned them that they would be mentioned in my blog. They were a powerhouse!

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I found Todd busy hauling coolers in preparation of aid station supplementation, so I rode my bike to the house 2 blocks away where we had spent the night, quickly showered and packed up, then headed back to the finish line where a post-ride meal of lasagna, bread sticks, Caesar salad, and berry cobbler had my name on it.

Lastly, while heading back to St. George via Panguitch Lake (which was part of the 150-miler course), we passed some of the 20 or so gutsy bikers who were pressing up the steep hill toward the lake (a downhill reward would await them) and I captured this photo of the guy in the lead, at least as far as we were able to ascertain. Check out his kit! (A “kit” is the term used for a cycling outfit that includes shorts/bib, jersey, and sometimes socks, shoes, and helmet).  For other fun biking lingo, check out this link: https: greatist.com/fit/ultimate-guide-cycling-lingo

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I was again impressed with how well Red Rock Bicycles sponsors an event. Margaret and her team have the system down pat. Their next bicycle event for road biking is the Fall Tour of St. George on October 21st with 35, 75, and 100-mile options. Ride Southern Utah!

Logan Peak Trail Run 06/24/17

I have pounded pavement for over 20 years. I have run the same courses over and over again. I could nearly run the St. George Marathon blindfolded. Having said that, transitioning to trail running has been a welcome change. I accepted the challenge from dear friend Sandy when she suggested that we sign up for the Logan Peak Trail Run. She had run it two years prior, and I trust her judgment. I copied the following description from the ultrasignup.com website:

The Logan Peak Trail Run traverses the mountainous area around Logan Peak through Logan Dry Canyon and Providence Canyon (the main drainage’s just south of Logan Canyon). During this challenging event, runners travel a bit over 26 miles on a predominantly loop course with over 6600 ft elevation gain. Amazing views, lots of climbing, and varied terrain/habitat are just a few reasons to run this course. The elevation gain/loss makes this event roughly comparable to many 50 K races. The race is a spectacular opportunity to experience the outstanding trails around Cache Valley, and Logan is a great place to hang out and have fun.

Runners also have an option to complete only the Syncline Loop (avoiding the 1070 foot climb to and descent from Logan Peak), for which they will receive an official time but not an overall place.

The fact is, however, that this trail run constitutes 28 miles, not “a bit over 26 miles” as described. And if one missed the final turn to the home stretch, one can easily add an extra mile, which I did. Heck, 29 miles is so close to 30.1 miles (a true 50K distance) that I should have just kept going. I am an over-achiever like that at times.

I was anxious to get registered, thereby having something to look forward to (spending a chunk of the day with my running buddy, surrounded by spectacular scenery and cooler temperatures than we have become accustomed to in Southern Utah). As far as training for this, I chalked up a couple of 4-mile runs in the hills just east of my house; I really did not train on the terrain nor for the distance that would be required of me for this endurance “race.” Regardless, I was determined to give it my best shot.

About a week prior to the event, an email from Jim (the event director) announced that the option of ascending all the way to Logan Peak was out secondary to excessive snow and subsequently no access. I was somewhat relieved, feeling like the 22-mile option (“Syncline Loop”) was more within my grasp. However, due to grumblings of the registrants as well as a very warm week leading up to the event, Jim emailed an update just days before the event, stating that ascension to the peak was back in the mix. The one drawback, however, would be that we would not have any aid for a solid 20 miles; aid stations were not possible where they would have been otherwise because of the snow-covered trail. Having been suffering from a nagging hamstring injury, Sandy was reticent to attempt any distance at all, but at the last minute decided to pursue it with the encouragement and support of her husband, who was also participating.

Race day arrived, and with a 6 a.m. start time and packet pickup prior for the hour prior to that, I had my alarm set for something like 4:30. When I awoke at 3 a.m., nervous that I needed more time to prep, I set my alarm for 4:15 but did not fall back asleep. A very patient and supportive husband drove me and my hydration pack to the start line at Gibbons Park at the base of Dry Canyon in Logan. I immediately met up with Sandy and her husband (and also their daughter). We gathered on a grassy knoll with the 106 other runners for brief race instruction presented by Jim, and following his verbal countdown, we were off and heading for the hills.

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The trail quickly narrowed and we made way for those who opted to actually RUN it. As for me, I was determined to save something for the second half. I have not decreased the size of the following photos since I want the reader to have a greater appreciation of the scenery we encountered within the first mile….and every mile subsequent to that.

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The course description is as follows:

Start to Aid Station #1: The course proceeds about 0.5 mile from the start up to the Deer Fence/Bonneville Shoreline Trail then north another 0.5 mile to the Logan Dry Canyon trailhead. Runners then climb up Logan Dry Canyon for about 3.5 miles on single-track trail to Aid Station #1/4.

Aid Station #1 was not a figment of our imagination. It was stocked with Mountain Dew, Coke, water, Cheez-Its, gummy bears, M&M’s, and all the essentials for regeneration of energy. From this point, we were on our own (as far as water and food rations go) for the next 20 miles. We pressed (hiked) on, at this point turning south and appreciating that the trail was leveling out somewhat. Again, course description posted here, except there would be no Aid Station #2:

Aid Station #1 to Aid Station #2: From Aid Station #1/4, the course turns right onto the South Syncline Trail and continues over to Providence Canyon (a little more than 2 miles on single-track with spectacular views). As the course enters the Providence Canyon drainage, the South Syncline Trail merges with the Welches Flat jeep trail, which rolls up and down for about 4 miles until joining the main Providence Canyon jeep trail. The Providence Canyon jeep trail climbs for another 0.75 mile, and then you follow the main forest service road 1.5 mile north to Aid Station #2/3. There are a few side trails along here. Pay attention to the course markings.

We paid attention to far more than the course markings; we were really into opportunities for photos, selfies and otherwise.

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Sorry, but I will not spare the reader from large photos. I would make them even larger if I could — the scenery was THAT spectacular, and I would love for you to see the detail of each and every leaf and rock, both of which were in abundance.

We soon encountered our first ridge of snow, and seeing this up ahead of us made me panic just a tad. I was grateful for the single hiking pole I had opted to bring.

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The barrier of snow proved to be less of an obstacle than it had first appeared. We had been made privy to the fact that the course would be more like an obstacle course than just a trail on which to run, but when we did encounter flat, smooth sections of it, we ran.

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Before introduction to my next photo, I have to also introduce you to a trail running legend, a man whom I met along the course. I had heard of him and had seen his name in race results time and time again, but it was on this day that I was actually fortunate enough to meet him in person. He is James McGregor, and here I have captured a shot of him (far right, photo forefront) agilely making his way along the course. And yes, he is a distant cousin who is knowledgable about the rich history of our McGregor heritage.

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At this point along the course, runners were chatting and exchanging details about their experiences, whether on other trails or on this one in years past. We formed friendships quickly. There was ample opportunity to chat about the common bond we all shared; trail running.

With the need to restock our water supplies ahead, we looked forward to the spring spoken of in this course description as offered by Jim:

Station #2/3.
As you are above Providence Canyon on the jeep road, there will be a water source coming from a pipe into a trough. This water is really cold and good and as far as I know safe. I’ve drank from it numerous times and never had an issue.

Though the runners had thinned out by this point, a half dozen or more of us found ourselves at the spring all at the same time, which can be seen in this photo to the left. And it was very true that the water was REALLY COLD AND GOOD, and hopefully “SAFE.” As far as I know, no runners had any “issues” secondary to drinking it. I filled my hydration bladder to the brim.

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Sandy and I lingered a little longer at the spring than the others, and found ourselves likely bringing up the rear for the next many miles. But who cares? We sure didn’t. We stopped to document the beauty every chance we got.

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In the following photo, you can see the orange trail marker tied to the tree. Obviously, the trail was obscure, so it was important to pay attention to these markers in order not to get lost.

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Sandy and I knew the steepest part of the course was still ahead. We held a steady pace and used our poles to assist us through mud, snow, rocks, and under and over trees. Remember, there was no Aid Station #2:

Aid Station #2 to Logan Peak and back to Aid Station #3: It is a 900 foot climb in about 2.5 miles on jeep trail from Aid Station #2/3 up to Logan Peak. In most years, at least part of this is on packed snow. Along the way you can look down and see Providence Lake and a huge bowl called the Rodeo Grounds. The course returns the same way from the peak. Runners who wish to avoid the trek to Logan Peak (the Syncline Loop Option) can skip this section and proceed to the next section. (Finishers who take the Syncline Loop Option receive an official time, but not an overall place; note also that the distance for the Syncline Loop Option is NOT an ultramarathon distance.)

There was no question whether or not we would make the trek to Logan Peak. It did not look that daunting. Why would we come this far only to cut it short? That would be crazy.

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On the way up to the peak, Sandy’s husband was coming down, which meant he was at least a full hour ahead of us on the course. We took advantage of the meeting with a few more photos.

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Once at the top, a.k.a. Logan Peak, we touched the phone tower as we had been instructed to do. Apparently, in years prior, there has actually been someone assigned to be there to witness said contact, for without it, all the effort was futile and would not “count.” Here I am with new friend, Celeste, touching the tower (and feeling really good about it, obviously). I learned later that some runners not only touched the tower, they wrapped their arms around it and KISSED it. 🙂

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Realizing I had cell phone service at the top (underneath a cell phone tower, no less), I made a FaceTime phone call to my husband, sharing the view with him from atop 9700 feet while he was sitting in the car somewhere down around 4500 feet.

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Sandy and I were followed up to the top by another runner, and we imposed upon him to capture our achievement in a couple of photos.

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Here is Sandy descending from Logan Peak, running as if she did not have a pained hamstring and 14 miles under her belt already.

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Having passed the halfway point, we were looking forward to some more amazing scenery and downhill portions. It’s true what Jim said, though, about the most varied section of the race (and remember there was no Aid Station #3):

Aid Station #3 to Aid Station #4: This is the most varied section of the race, with pine forest, fir forest, aspen groves, wildflower meadows, sage slopes, short snow fields, mountain springs, and spectacular views into Logan Canyon and the Naomi high country. Leaving Aid Station #2/3, runners turn left and take the main forest service road north for about 1 mile, before turning left onto a spur road. About 0.4 mile down this spur road, the course makes a left turn onto single-track trail. This trail rolls for a little less than 2 miles until encountering a T junction at the bottom of a descent through fir trees. Make a left at this T (the trail to the right goes to a spring). Continue along this single-track for another 1.5 miles, eventually climbing gently to a sage/wildflower covered ridge. From this ridge, runners descend 1.25 miles back into Logan Dry Canyon. Along the way, there is a high mountain spring. When the trail comes to the canyon bottom, it makes a sharp right turn and then descends gently about 0.25 miles to Aid Station #1/4.

There are two water sources along here. The first is a side trail off of a switchback. It’s about 100 yards down this side trail and is a spring coming out of the rock. I have also drank from this water and not had any problems. The other water source is about half a mile from Aid Station #4. It comes from a pipe into a trough and is really cold and good. I highly recommend filling your pack/bottles here as there may be limited water at the aid station.

The photo below gives the reader an idea of the obstacle courses along the trail. There were many times that we questioned the course, but managed to always find the orange markers tied to trees.

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Suffer through these photos, if you must. I insist.

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And here is one section where we had zero trail but trusted the footprints of the runners in front of us. I was not tempted to stray from the course — not even to take a look to see how far the drop-off was. Where is an inner-tube when you need one?

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The view of Logan and nearly the entire Cache Valley was spectacular.

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We saw no other runners from when we started the North Syncline Trail until Aid Station #4, where we informed the volunteers there that we knew of at least one other runner behind us. It turned out there were four. We had run out of water about a mile before finding the next spring, where we gratefully filled our hydration bladders. It was just a quarter mile from the spring to Aid Station #4 (which was also Aid Station #1 coming up).

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Once we reached Aid Station #4 and grabbed a handful of melting M&M’s, we headed back down the course on the same trail we had come up many hours earlier that day. Sandy’s watch was keeping track of our distance (as was mine, unbeknownst to me — but it about fell off my wrist with the buzzing announcement that I had just set an all-time exercise record… 2022 calories burned, 457 minutes of exercise, not quite 63,000 steps, and a total of 31.49 total miles for the day).

Aid Station #4 to the Finish: This last section (4.5 miles of mostly single-track) is simply the reverse of the first section of the race. Enjoy the downhill and the great views down Logan Dry Canyon into the Cache Valley!

Here you can see the elevation chart. I am in the process of losing my two big toenails, so if that tells you how that downhill section felt to my feet….

I sent Sandy on her way ahead of me for the last 3 miles since she felt good and my legs felt like rubber. One thing I did not want to risk was spraining an ankle (or worse) on a trail where the only way out is walking. I jogged solo slowly and, in my nearly delirious state in the 80-degree heat, missed the last turn to the finish line. I admit that I shed a tear or two during that last extra mile.

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Though I was nearly last out of 109 finishers, taking 9 hours 25 minutes to run 29 miles, I was THRILLED to have finished such a difficult run! And I RAN to the finish line where my patient, supportive husband and friend Sandy were waiting for me with open arms. A cold Diet Coke never tasted so good!

 

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Me and cousin James at the finish line. He is 74 years young and, while this was his 75th or so ultramarathon, it was my first at age 55. I hope longevity is in our genes!

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At breakfast the following morning, this was my view of Logan Peak from where I sat at a table in Logan. Yep. Been there, done that. HAPPY TRAILS!

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Double Nickles 06/07/2017

Here it is nearly July, and I am just now getting around to telling you about the anniversary of my birthday earlier this month. Time just marches on, sparing no one. It’s true that time is a he, as in Father Time, just like nature is a she, as in Mother Nature. Father Time has a way of stealing the hours from a day to the point where a week seems to be comprised of 5 days rather than 7. The older I get, the more quickly time seems to pass. I cram as much as I can into the time I am allotted, and the older I get and the more I accomplish, the more I realize how much there is yet to do — and how very precious time is; it is definitely a gift, and we should not be wasting any of it.

My birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, and I had purposely left the day wide open to do some of my favorite things. I started off with a long bike ride, intending to bike 55 miles (one for each year) and had a very good start.

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However, the temperature rose very quickly and, after a couple of hours and about 35 miles, I realized that I could be content with cutting the distance short (riding as far as how old I feel, rather than how old I actually am).  With other things that I wanted to accomplish, I made the decision to settle for 40 miles and move on to the next project.

I parked my bike and loaded up my cleaning bucket, then drove across town to my mom’s house. There on her front door was this poster:

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My mom is my #1 fan, obviously. She turns 85 later this year but does not use that as an excuse for simply a verbal “happy birthday, daughter!” Rather, she still spends hours being creative and productive. After cleaning her four toilets as well as performing various other household chores, I accepted some birthday cash and a kiss, then drove back home to swap out my car for the truck.

My next destination was the Lifetime store on St. George Boulevard, where I quickly picked out a bright orange kayak (I had done a little research on these) and used my birthday money to purchase it. Off to the pool I went, convincing Todd and others to join me for a cool time. That kayak fit perfectly on the water, and soon three of my grandkids were navigating it around the pool effectively and efficiently.

 

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Using barely enough time to shower and clean up, I whisked my best boy off to dinner with me at my favorite restaurant, Cappeletti’s on Tabernacle Street.

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Having my birthday fall on a Wednesday meant that I got to party with more than just family members; I attended my weekly Adult Beginning Hip Hop class at The Vault and continued the celebration with much dancing and exuberance. Having over a dozen people dancing in a circle around you while chanting a birthday wish trumps being sung to prior to blowing out candles on a cake every time!

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Returning home to this on the counter was nearly more than I could take in; a dozen beautiful roses from my husband.

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Extending the festivities out 10 days post-birthday with husband, sons, and grandkids, hosted by daughter-in-law, was the “icing on the cake” (so to speak). Other than my youngest grandson, age 2, insisting on blowing out his own candle — and dousing it by putting his mouth over the lit flame — the evening was perfect.

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Birthdays are a welcome event for me, and with age comes wisdom (or so they say). I know for certain that with each passing year and more candles to count, I have more blessings to count as well.

 

Life and Its Changes

Life—it just has its ups and downs and it changes with wind and oh,  it’s ever so busy these days with all of our obligations.  With that change, comes adjustments and a reorganization of life.

I started a cooking blog recently and it is taking more of my time than I realized.  With all of my other obligations, I’ve had to make some of those changes in life, so I decided with a heavy heart to put all of my energy into the cooking blog.  My friend, Tia, will carry on doing this blog and keep doing a fabulous job.  She is top notch at everything she does and this blog will be no exception.❤️

Thank you to all of you readers. We have quite a following for only being live a short time–about 2,000!!  So exciting!!!  As a parting post, I would like to share one of my favorites from my itsapegslife.com blog Raspberry Chipotle Salmon with Zoodles. Just click on the link and you’ll have it. 🙂

I hope you like it!! Run happy, dear friends! Hugs to you all!

Pal Peg