Monday, June 21, 2010

Ragnar 2010!!

This weekend was the big dance. I've been thinking/worrying/preparing for the Ragnar Wasatch Back relay for 5 months or more, so it was great that it finally came about!! As a warning, I must let you know in advance that yes, this post is just as long as my post about the Red Rock Relay back in September, so sit back and get comfortable... or just stop reading when you get bored!

Our team name was The UFO- Unforgettable Family Outing, and our team members included a bunch of members from Paul's family. Aunt Dawn and Uncle Reed Frandsen drove here early from Minnesota to do this race with us... it was so fun to spend that time with them! Paul's brother, Spencer, and our brother-in-law, Luke McCausland, were also in our van with us. The other 6 team members in Van #1 were Paul's sister, Amy, Aunt Heidi and Uncle Jon Obray, and Jon's two brothers, Tyler, and Rick, and Rick's wife Cathleen. Got all that? Good! Here's a picture of all of us!

The way this race worked out was Van 1 (Amy and all the Obrays) started in Logan, UT at 7:00am. They got to run through Cache Valley, through Logan, River Heights, Providence, Millville, to Hyrum, down through Paradise and Avon and over Avon pass until they reached Liberty, UT (total of 39.6 miles) at about 1:55pm. That is when Tyler handed off the slap bracelet to Dawn and she took off for a 4 mile run through the Liberty and Eden neighborhoods. I really wanted to get a picture of each handoff, but the first Tyler/Dawn handoff was blocked by a big suburban... grrr!

Dawn is a speedy runner, so she finished those 4 miles in about 38 minutes. She handed off the bracelet to ME at 2:34pm. Here's a picture collage of this!

Off I go! Did you notice the time? 2:30 in the afternoon was pretty toasty by that point. There was no shade, but overall the 3.4 miles I ran was pretty flat with a slow incline over the last mile. I'm not fast, so I only got 1 roadkill on this leg (that's when you pass someone). This is me needing some WATER!!!

And this picture is of me handing off the bracelet to Luke at 3:10.

As I was walking toward the van, Paul kept telling me I needed to stop and stretch but I got a little testy because I was so stinkin thirsty! We hurried along to the next exchange because we knew it wouldn't take Luke very long to get through his 3.5 miles. I took this picture of him at 3:35 (that's 25 minutes later) AFTER he'd already handed off to Spencer.

Luke almost ALWAYS has a smile on his face... not just when he's posing for a picture!

Spencer also ran his first leg super fast. This is him handing off to Paul at 4:01. If you're keeping track, that's 3.6 miles around Pineview Reservoir in about 26 minutes. Impressive, I know!

Both Luke and Spencer said this was their hardest leg because they felt the pressure to be really fast. They both had a short distance to run on mostly flat terrain, but it was hot and they pushed themselves really hard. It was great to have these tough guys on our team and in our van.

So, here's a collage of Paul's 3.7 miles up and UP and UP! and then DOWN Snow basin road. He handed off to Reed at 4:38pm (10 minute miles up a freaking mountain). Yes, I'm married to a total stud!

Reed had a VERY difficult leg to run at this point. He had to go 3.1 miles, finishing the ascent up to the Snow Basin Resort. It was hard, and he knew he'd have to walk some... but he ran most of it. After supporting him through most of his leg, we hustled up to Snow Basin for the van exchange. We got to say hello to our other teammates and ask them how they were doing. At this point, everyone still had some smiles!

I loved that the other team was wearing their alien antennae headbands! It made it easy to spot them in that gigantic crowd. Sidenote... the van exchanges were TOTAL chaos!!! This year's race had 1088 teams. That's over 2100 vans, and about 13000 runners (not all teams had 12 runners... some had 6). We were never all at the same place at the same time, but there was always a TON of congestion at the van exchange points. It's possible this race is getting too big. Here's a collage of the snow basin site. They had live music, free massage and chiropractic adjustments, really expensive food we opted not to buy, and a ridiculously long line for the toilets. That was a recurring theme at EVERY van exchange. YIKES! I did get an adjustment, but did not have the patience to wait for a massage.

Now, this is the part of this blog post that has no pictures, so I'll just have to talk about the next 12 hours. At this point, Van 1 was starting their second legs of the race. Cathleen got to descend 2000 feet over 8.5 miles to get out of Snow Basin. Heidi got to run 3 miles along Hwy 84 along Mountain Green. Uncle Jon ran 4.9 miles through a quiet residential area in Morgan Valley. Amy ran 4.2 miles along Morgan Valley Drive and into the town of Morgan.

*We were there at Morgan High School when she came through and handed off to Rick, but I missed it because I was in the High School waiting/taking a shower. Thankfully, when I entered the line for the TWO showers, there was only 4 people in it, but by the time I was done, the line was HUGE! I'm glad I got a shower since I'm pretty insecure about being a smelly person, but it wasn't a nice, calming experience! At least my timing was good! After my shower, I joined my vanmates who were "purposefully resting" on the field in sleeping bags. I think Luke managed to fall asleep, but in the 30 minutes I had to lay down, I'm afraid sleep escaped me.*

While we were not sleeping, Rick ran 4.2 miles south on Morgan Valley Drive again toward East Canyon. Tyler finished up their van leg running 8.1 miles up to East Canyon Reservoir... (Dang, we gave him the hardest crap to run! Ouch!). We got there with plenty of time for Tyler to hand off to Dawn. I'm not quite sure what time she started her run. I missed this exchange too, because I was chilling in the car, listening to my iPod and starting to gather all the gear I would need for my next run. Since it was dark, we needed to be wearing reflective vests, head lamps, AND tail lights. Add to this a hat, the iPod on my arm, my race belt holding my number, and a hydration belt to carry water and a GU. I was feeling a bit over accessorized for this leg of mine! It was also pretty chilly with a good breeze going, so I had on a tee-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt and my running pants. At least I was prepared!

Dawn had to run 3.8 miles with most of it climbing out of East Canyon along the Donner Reed Party Route. She did a great job and was running strong every time we passed her. She handed off to me at 12:18am and I got to start my 7 mile run into Summit County and into the town of Henefer. My first 5 miles were downhill, and I'm glad I trained a little bit for that. I had a good pace going with a sub 10-min-mile pace for the first 3.5 miles, a 10.5-min-mile pace for the next 2 miles, and then my last 1.5 miles leveled off and started to climb again. At this point, my hip joints and flexors were complaining quite loudly and I slowed down quite a bit with some occasional walking. I'd set an estimate of 75 minutes to do this leg and I did it in 74:05 minutes! Not too shabby I guess, so I felt pretty good about that leg. I actually love running in the dark. This was my best leg of the 3. (By the way, I got 4 roadkills on this leg!)

I handed off to Luke, and he KILLED it on his 9.6 mile leg heading toward Echo lake, around the lake, and into the town of Coalville. He got 34 roadkills on that leg... the dude is a machine. Then Spencer took off on his 7.7 mile run along the Weber River valley toward the town of Wanship. He got 21 roadkills... that dude is ALSO a machine! All throughout this portion of the race, I was laying down in the back of the van, TRYING to get a little rest, but mostly feeling all kinds of abdominal/GI pain. The toughest thing about races like these is managing the food and the way your body reacts to that food. For the actual running, I feel fine. But within an hour after I stop running, my system starts to freak out a bit. Paul started his leg in Wanship at 3:50am. He finished his 5.5 mile leg around Rockport lake 50 minutes later at 4:39am. The only reason I know these things is because our GPS watch keeps track of this kind of information. Again, I missed all these exchanges because the second we entered each exchange point, I had to find the honey buckets. Ugh.

So Reed started his leg at 4:40 and had to run 6.5 miles through Peoa and up into Oakley. I slept through most of this leg and when I woke up, it was already light outside. We ended up at the Oakley Rodeo grounds for the next van exchange. The Obray group had a slow time getting from their hotel room in Park City to Oakley, so Reed had to stand there for about 10 minutes waiting for them to show up. We used the bathrooms and bought breakfast there. It was yummy but with minimal sleep and "issues", I wasn't feeling so hot! We drove ahead to the next van exchange in Heber. We got to see the route the other van had to run and we were glad our name wasn't Jon!! They ran a total of 25.9 miles at this point. We used the facilities (after an even longer line than any previous line - seriously, Ragnar... more buckets at the van exchanges please!!!!) and then claimed another patch of grass in the shade. I wish I would have taken a picture of all the people wrapped up in sleeping bags in random places. It was quite a site, but I wasn't thinking about taking pictures as I was walking around half comatose. I think I snagged another 45-60 minutes of sleep before we started packing up our stuff again. I changed my clothes in my sleeping bag and had to get myself all sunscreened up and ready to run again.

Van 1 got to the exchange at 11:03 when I got to take this picture of Tyler running toward Dawn. She took off on her last run of 4.2 miles around the ag area of Heber.

We stood around for quite a while talking to our teammates in Van 1. It was fun to chat with them, but I was nervous that we weren't giving Dawn any support and also nervous that I was going to be too rushed to get my stuff ready. We jumped in the van, followed the route and passed Dawn when she had just over a mile left to go.

When we got to my handoff area, I got all my stuff ready and tried to get pumped up for this last butt-kicker leg of mine. I was feeling pretty exhausted, uncomfortable, defeated and worried that I wasn't going to be able to run much. Paul was giving me some good pep talking. I determined that I would set my watch to a 5 minute cycle where I would run for 4 minutes and walk 1. Dawn handed off to me at 11:46am and it was already pretty warm, very sunny, with a stiff breeze blowing. I was able to get through the first 3.5 miles doing the run/walk schedule and able to run for the entire 4 minutes. But once that leg started to climb more and more, I was stuh-ruggle-ing. I would run 2.5 minutes, walk 30 seconds, run a minute, walk a minute, repeat (over and over and over). And then by the end, my goal was to run as much as I was walking, alternating single minutes. It was so hot, I was so tired, the hill was L.O.N.G. and just kept getting steeper and steeper. I didn't get a single roadkill... I WAS the roadkill! But I finished, FINALLY, a whopping 80 minutes later! That is so stinkin slow, but what can ya do?! Here's a few pics:

Coming up was Luke and Spencer running up a ginormous mountain. I couldn't BELIEVE what they were able to accomplish! The highlight of these two legs for me was Dawn reading this quote to Luke and Spencer as they ran straight up, "In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits and favored by the gods!" This is the definition of "ragnar"! At one point, she ran along with them, reading the quote. Then she would shout it out the window as we would pass them! It kept a smile on Luke's face, and I took this shot of her following behind Spencer out the van window. She's holding the flag and Spencer is two people in front of her! Too fun!

Just so you have an idea, this is the view we were seeing as we continued to climb:

(I told you it was uphill!)
Paul started his final leg at 2:32 and he had a SEVERE downhill drop that was supposed to only be 5.4 miles, but right before he started, we got a text saying that due to unforseen blockages, they had to lengthen the leg 1.1 miles. So he got to run 6.5 miles instead. Awesome, huh?! The first mile was actually uphill, which was tough, but he ran it well, and then he started down. Most of the leg was on a trail and at one point he stubbed his toe on a stump and actually fell. He finished it in 57 minutes, averaging 8:45 minute miles.

I was very proud of him... Paul did an awesome job on all of his legs and didn't get nearly enough glory! He even got a KILLER blister on the bottom of his heel that looked awesome! I'm just glad I didn't miss THIS last exchange. I missed most of the others because of these:

Oh, Honey Bucket. May it be a long, LONG time before I spend any more time inside your four blue walls!

Anyway, Reed took off for the last leg of the race. We moseyed on over to the van, figured out a way to get out of the parking lot, and hurried up so we could wait in traffic FOREVER to get to the Canyons Resort where the finish line was. It took long enough that a bunch of us fell asleep in the back seat waiting and waiting. When we finally got there, we found a parking spot, and hurried up so we could wait in line to ride the gondola up to the resort. It was while riding up that we talked with the others to find that Reed already crossed the finish and was too tired to wait for us! Thats okay, but it was awfully anticlimactic. It was extremely frustrating to make it this far and NOT experience the finish. The Canyons resort was 10 times as chaotic as every other chaotic place along the course. We wanted to figure out some issues with our t-shirts, since the women's shirts were sized WAAAAYYY too small. But irritatingly, they only had women's M or S or men's L or XL... not what we're looking for here, people! So, I'm not sure if I'll get to wear my race shirt much unless I can actually manage to lose the 10 lbs I've gained back over the last 8 months!

Aaaaannnnd... here's some of our final pictures.

We were all pretty burned out and ready to get a move on, so we kind of forced Dawn and Reed to take off a little earlier than they would have liked. They were giving the four of us a ride to Woods Cross where our van was parked at my Aunt Lynn's house. She was a sweetie and gave us a ride up to Ogden on Friday morning so we would have less travel time after the race was finished. She's so awesome! Once we got to her place, we grabbed some Panda Express and made our way back home... exhausted in every kind of way! Thankfully, Charlie fell asleep in the car on the ride home from Grandma's so we didn't have to work hard to get him in bed that night! I showered and collapsed and had the best nights sleep I've had since I did the Red Rock Relay! I guess it's a special kind of fatigue!

Overall, this experience was better than my last long relay experience. It was hard, but not dramatic! It really is a fun thing to do because for the most part, you don't feel like total crap until after your second leg. So at least 2/3rds of the time, it's all kinds of fun! And, there, now I'm done posting about it and I can get on with my life! My next goal is to start training for another couple of sprint triathlons by the end of the summer so I can get my hot body back!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Canon turns 7!

Canon had a birthday, Canon had a birthday, One year older than he was before!!

Because I'm not a super-mom like other people I know, I've decided to do what my mom did when we were little, and let us have a friend birthday party on our even number years. Since Canon turned 7 this year, it was a family celebration day and Canon got to decide what we would get to do.

We started off the day with a few presents and then a family bike ride to a nice park 2 miles away from our house. Luckily it wasn't too hot at that point. Here's a picture of Canon opening his gifts and the boys and me enjoying the shade at the park.

Canon really wanted to go swimming that afternoon, but we were unable to set that up in advance, so we'll have to do that another day. He then decided that he wanted to go to Pirate Island for dinner. We took the plunge and decided to check it out. Basically, Pirate Island is a glorified Chuck-E-Cheese, but for bigger kids. Charlie still managed to have a good time, but the environment and arcade games were really geared toward slightly bigger kids (which means that Paul had a great time!!).

We ended the evening with a dollar movie. We went and saw Alice in Wonderland and I LOVED it! Paul had to miss the ending because there's no guarantees when Charlie is involved.

Canon wanted to sleep outside in the tent, but it was really windy, cloudy and threatening rain. Bummer, another activity we'll have to do on a different day. But overall, I think Canon had a great birthday.

A much needed new toy

I think one of the (many) reasons why my blog has sucked so bad is that for quite a while, we have not had a camera. How can you blog about something exciting if you didn't even bother to take a picture of it!? I have NO IDEA what happened to our old camera... I'm blaming it's disappearance on the process of decluttering for home staging purposes!

Anyway, it was time to take the plunge and just buy a new camera already! We looked for a while and decided that we are fans of Nikon cameras, and ended up with the S3000. We got an OK deal on it on Memorial Day, so we were happy about that! So what do you do when you haven't had a camera for a while? Take ugly pictures of yourself in the car, of course!!! Here's a little sampling.

Ahhh, much better!

On one of Andy's first days of summer, he got to go to the dentist to get that tooth fixed! They had to shave it down and ended up putting a cap on top of it. I think it looks great and it was all for the bargain price of $180! Here's hoping he can manage to keep the rest of them whole from here on out!

See... much better!!