Sunday, May 20, 2012

Girls On The Run Final 5k

I had one last day with the punks yesterday, at the Girls On The Run (GOTR) Final 5k in Sugarhouse Park.  We met at the Arby's restaurant at 8am and once most of the girls were there we moseyed over to the festivities.  As we came through the big pine trees at the edge of the park and started down the hill, the sight of several hundred girls, tents, and a live band caught me off-guard.  I knew this was going to be a big event, but wow.  This was magical.

As soon as the girls got to the edge of the festival, their eyes went glassy and they were drawn towards the tents:  "face-painting", "hair station", "healthy snacks"...  Oh, I had to do something quick or I was going to lose control!  Suzanne was still up at the Arby's waiting for late-comers, and Lizzy was up there too, moving her car to a better location.  There were several parents with me, but they were not clear on what to do either (they were supposed to check in with the main pavilion as "running buddies" and receive their gift packets).  I was feeling like I should have read the instructional email prior to the event just a little more carefully.

We got everyone gathered around (the term "herding cats" came to mind several times) and once Suzanne and Lizzy got there, I relaxed a little bit.  The pressure was no longer just on me.  Problem was, the t-shirts we were given by the race coordinators said "Ask Me", so apparently I was supposed to know what was going on and what the procedure was!  HA!

Time got closer to the start and I realized that we were all relatively squared away.  We took pictures and laughed and used the bathroom one last time.  At the start line, Suzanne led us in our two team chants:  "Hey~ YOU! You go Girl! Sweet!" and the Bananas cheer and we all had our Awesome Hedgehogs capes on and we were psyched and ready!

Lizzy and I ran the course together and kept an eye on several of the girls.  Everyone had running "buddies" chaperoning them (for safety); mostly parents.  Proud parents ~ it was really cool to see.  When we were almost to the finish (most of the way around the second lap of the event) Lizzy and I picked up the pace so that we could finish and get some photos of the girls as they finished.

While I was taking photos, I was transported back in time, to when I was a kid.  These girls were such individuals, and such really cool kids!  Some kids did the whole race fast, like I would have done when I was a kid.  Some girls crossed the finish line hand in hand, with big smiles.  Some kids crossed with their proud parents next to them.  Some kids strolled along looking at the ducks in the pond and the blue skies above, dreaming.

While we were re-living our experience together at the finish line, the race and program director, Shelley, came over to us and said, (always enthusiastically), "Did you hear?  You guys ~ the Awesome Hedgehogs (of Uintah Elementary) won the Spirit Award!"  Which is an award given to the team with the most enthusiasm and team spirit.  What?!?  That was awesome!  All of the girls got a special prize from the race director.  In addition, they got finishers medals, their hair done in silly colors, their faces painted.  And the satisfaction of finishing their first real 5k race (as third, fourth, and fifth graders).  Awesome.

I'm so grateful that I was able to be a part of this wonderful program.  It brought back so many good memories from my own childhood, and reinforced in me that we don't all need to be competitive and "winners", but that we really are all winners just for being out there.  Sounds kind of cheesy, and maybe a bit of a sign of the times, but the fact that every kid is encouraged for being healthy and doing their best to be outgoing and positive is something that I think we really need a lot more of in our society.

I'm looking forward to the next session!

Awesome Hedgehogs coaches:
Mysterious Missy, Little Lizzy, Silly Suzie

Molly and Aiden pre-race strategizing.

Groovy G ~ Georgia, with Lainy (below, with cape)
Kinsley and Ally behind.
Suzanne with the scary tooth guy.

Little Lizzy models a cape.
Kinsley (right, blue shirt) killing it down the finish chute.
Tory and mom bringing it home to the finish.

Georgia in the final strides to the finish
with dad (behind) smiling on.

M&M Emory and mom right before the finish.

Hannah and Mei Mei (blue shirts) hand in hand before the finish.
Weird guy (on left) got hit by the sprinklers.

Charlotte, our dreamer, all smiles with her mom coming in to the finish.

Awesome Ally and mom headed to the finish.

Jazzy J ~ Jocelyn bringing it home!

Narly Naina (left) and her cousin before they
kicked in a sprint-finish.

Aiden appears to be break-dancing with her mom to the finish.

Walk, don't run ~ our girl Bria almost there!

Coach Suzanne (with daughter Molly, hiding behind, bare feet)
always positive and getting the last ones rounded up!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Travel Bug

I can't believe how time flies! It seems like just yesterday I started planning and booking my trip and now here it is:  I leave for my Scotland trip a week from tomorrow!  I am so excited I almost can't contain myself.  If you're not up to date, I will be running the West Highland Way, about 20 miles per day for 5 days, and a tour company has booked Bed & Breakfasts for me and will be lugging my baggage.  I've been thinking of doing this trip for about 10 years, and can't believe the time has finally come.  I have a friend in Glasgow who is letting me stay at his apartment, and he will also join me on the trail for the first few miles.  Then he will pick me up nearly a week later at the northern end of the trail.

I had a great week prepping my mileage for the trip this week.  It's the first week since Pemberton 50k back in February and since my back injury that I've been able to do 40 miles in one week!  I had almost 10,000 ft of elevation gain as well.  I had a little bit of achy-ness in my achilles/heel on one side, but it's feeling better after icing it down the last few times after I ran.

I've been trying to get some yard work done too; and hopefully this place will not look like Miss Havisham's when I get back after my three week trip.  After my week in Scotland, I'll be R&R-ing in southern Germany at our house in the Alps.  I am a lucky girl!  Ugh... all the headaches that that house has caused us lately (the boiler-tank was the latest thing to go after the pipes burst this winter.  Completely rusted out, and will cost about $10,000 to fix, because it not only supplies the hot water for the house, but is also the main component of the radiator-heating system).  I'm glad I will finally be over there to enjoy the house for a few days, instead of just paying bills on it!  Really looking forward to seeing my friends over there as well, and eating delicious German food, drinking lots of great beer, and of course having daily coffee and cake at 3:30!

The travel bug has bitten me and I'm grateful to have such support from so many people, both here in the US and in Europe, to be able to do this once in a lifetime trip!

Photos today are of one of our favorite dog walks.  The wildflowers are out early this year, because of the mild winter.  Hopefully they will still be in full bloom when I get back in June!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rollin', rollin', rollin'

Artie spies ~ mountain bikers below!
I had a few really good days in a row running the last few days and my mind is set at ease that I will be able to pull off my Scotland trip (twenty miles per day for 5 days, no rest days).  On Saturday I did a great 13-mile Salt Lake City streets-Shoreline trail loop, one I like to call the "mini-mega" (the mega was done last summer, and was about 5 miles farther).  Setting out in the early morning hours before the street traffic really gets going is a very peaceful running experience.  Hitting the Shoreline Trail before the masses hit it on their mountain bikes was equally delightful.  The run turned out to be 13 miles, with 1,300 ft of elevation gain, and my Garmin watch said that I burned 1,300 calories.  Lucky 13s!

My route can be seen here.

The flowers are out in force and are gorgeous this year.  We have had a very nice spring so far with temperatures in the 70s to 80s.  I wish it could stay this nice all summer and not get up into the 100s like I am sure that it will!

Secret Perch ~ Franklin takes a turn spotting bikers.
Sunday I had an easy day with the dogs, up our Hidden Canyon to our Secret Perch.  It was only about 4 miles, but a good 1,700 feet of elevation.  Once up on top, we sat under some mahogany trees for a bit, spying the mountain bikers on the main trail below.  Artie actually ran down the hillside to check one of them out and I was afraid she was not going to come back up!  I'm not sure if the mountain biker saw her, but if he did, he was probably wondering who this lone fluffy, yellow dog belonged to as we stayed hidden in the trees above.

Monday I took the day off from exercise (but pulled weeds in the backyard for two hours!), but was quite energized at work from such a great weekend.  [On a side note, we at the clinic are looking forward to our staff retreat day as we are going to the Natural History museum at the University of Utah.  You know what this means ~ dinosaurs.  There's a new museum building that just opened a few months ago and I've been really looking forward to checking it out.  At first I was really upset with the location of where they decided to build it, because it took out one of my favorite sections of trail that I used to walk and run with my old yellow dog, Roxie.  But the new trail that they built to replace it is equally delightful, so I've come to terms with the change.]
Atop Little Black Mountain

Today, Tuesday, I had the day off and had designs on doing the Wahsatch Steeplechase route.  I put the question out to a few friends on Facebook if the route was clear of snow, and they all agreed that it was.  It goes up over a pretty rough peak called Black Mountain (or Little Black Mountain, depending on how historic you go back into the map archives) over a section of crags that are about a quarter mile long.  There are legendary rattlesnakes up on those crags and the more I thought about it, the more I didn't want to go there as there have already been several rattlesnake sightings on the east bench this spring.  I did the route this past December, part of it through the snow, and the crags section really is pretty sketchy to do solo if you're not used to climbing around on rocks.  I would feel better with a buddy up there.

So I got up to the US Geological marker on the peak, which was exactly 5 miles away from where I started at Morris Reservoir (water tanks) and I thought to myself that I would be completely satisfied with turning around at this point and not continuing.  The wildflowers were if full bloom up there, and the views were absolutely gorgeous.  The run (hike, on the steep uphills) turned out to be 10.25 miles, with 2,850 ft of gain.  Whew!

The trail to Black Mountain (above, left).
But as if that was not enough, after I got home and got refueled, I took the dogs for a 2 mile jaunt at the base of Grandeur on the dirt double track.  I decided to brave the trail in flip-flops and was happy with my decision to let my feet breathe a little bit.  I'm not a proponent of barefoot running, but doing a couple of miles in the flips I think might just strengthen my feet a little bit.

What a great few days of running!  So far over the last 4 days:  29 miles and 5,900 feet of elevation gain!  Feeling strong, and ready to roll over the Scottish Highlands in just two weeks!