Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!

Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!
Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner and entering code AMB-bee4a78d!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Memory of Spike

In 2002, I left my job at Betsey Johnson and went to work full time dancing. I had always wanted a dog and I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Pomeranian. They are just so cute and fluffy! I mentioned to one of my dance students (whom also happened to be a vet at the Bronx Animal Care and Control) that I was interested in adopting a dog from the shelter. My flexible schedule was perfect for having a new dog.

I lived in a studio so I needed a small dog. "I would take any of them, but if you come across a Pomeranian, I want it!", I told her knowing that getting a Pomeranian in the shelter was a stretch. About a week later she came to class with a Polaroid photo of her holding a cute, white Pomeranian. I knew he was mine!

My friend went on to tell me that they were driving around the Bronx in the rescue van when they came across an overpass which they frequently found dead cats and little dogs used for "bait" for fighting dogs then dumped there by the monsters that stole them. This particular night they saw a little fluffy white dog mauled nearly to death, but still alive. When I went to see him for the first time, he was nothing but a fluffy head and stitches. When I brought him home, my dance partner Roddy said "After all he's been through, you better not name him Snowball! He needs a tough name." Roddy was right. I named him Spike.

Spike was a hoot! He thought he was a big dog even though he only weighed 6 lbs. He used to ride in my bike basket all over Manhattan! He was my boy!

When I decided to serve a mission, my sister came to New York and took him to Atlanta while I was away. Between friends and relatives, Spike was well cared for. When I returned from my mission, my mom and and her husband had fallen in love with him. I stayed in Atlanta for 3 months after my mission and when Spike and I were going back to NYC, my mom pulled me aside and asked if they could keep Spike until I got settled in NYC again. I said OK. Every trip back to Atlanta ended the same way when I tried to bring him home.

I got married, moved to SLC, got 2 more dogs, a Yorkie (Toby) and another Pomeranian (Zoe). After my mom passed away, I thought I would be bringing Spike home after the funeral, but her husband couldn't take losing my mom and Spike, so I left him to keep Papa Jay company.

This morning I received a call that Spike passed away. If you don't have a dog or think of dogs as just animals we keep as pets, you may not get the pain that is in my heart over losing Spike. I don't have kids so I think of my dogs as my furry babies. Even though Spike hasn't lived with me for a while, he is still my little boy. I just looked at it as if he was at boarding school (hee hee).

I will never forget the joy he brought to me and everyone who scratched his belly. I love you my little Spike! I hope you are in heaven getting a belly rub from Miss Lillie!

Monday, October 17, 2011

#27- The SoJo Marathon! My First Ultra...Sort of!

The So Jo (short for South Jordan) Marathon was not on my list of races this year, but I decided to do it kind of last minute. The finish is about 5 minutes from my house so it was pretty convenient.

I didn't sleep well Friday night so getting up at 3:30am was a struggle. I almost decided to take my first DNS (Did Not Start). I just was not feeling it, but I drug my tired behind out of bed and made it over to the finish area to catch the 5:15am bus to the start (which got lost on the way to the start).

Since my marathoning partner Teresa decided to do the half marathon, I prepared myself to make a lot of new course friends as the the half started later and at a different location. I was happy to see a few of my Utah Maniac friends at the start. Franz, Kim, Melanie and Bob K. were all there.

Utah Maniacs Bob K., Franz, Kim and Melanie waiting for the race to start!

Since our bus got lost on the way to the start we didn't have to wait too long outside, we had a little extra time on the warm bus which was fine with me!

There were about 300 people in the marathon so the start was pretty easy. A lady sang the National Anthem and we were off. The sun was just coming up over the mountains when we started which made for a nice start.

The sun coming up as we started.

The course was pretty hilly, but in a good way. There were some long climbs followed by some nice long stretches of gentle downhill.

Looking back on one of the long uphill stretches near the Kennicott Copper Mine.

Kennicott Copper Mine

Getting in the Halloween spirit, there were also a few cute decorations along the course!

Even though I ran most of the race alone I did get the opportunity to meet a few first time marathoners which is always fun, not to mention I got to run past a domestic Elk farm!

These are just a few of the many Elk on the farm. These things are huge!

For not getting much sleep and almost not showing up at all, I was feeling pretty strong the last few miles of the race. When we hit the last 2 miles I was ready to be done, but was happy. I knew at that point I was close to a PR, but I did realize how close! Crossed the finish line beating my old PR by only 10 seconds! Hey a PR is a PR!

After the race I saw my Maniac friends who had finished about 15 minutes before me.

Franz, Me, Melanie and Bob at the finish!

We congratulated each other, ate some Chick-Filet sandwiches and checked the results board where we learned that I had won the Athena division and took 6th in my age group! Just ahead of me in my age group were Kim and Melanie (3rd and 4th)! Franz also took home an award for 3rd place in his age group! We got medals and a free entry to next year's race! Whoo Hoo!

Me with my medals!

Now at this point you might be wondering how running 26.2 miles is sort of an Ultra. Well, it's not, but I did run more than 26.2 miles that day. After the race I jumped in my car and headed downtown to a race that a friend and co-worker was the race director of. I told him I would run his race and I kept my word!

The Night of the Running Dead 5K was a really fun race. Running around the fairgrounds, you could either run as a human or a zombie. Humans got a 2 minute head start, then they unleashed the zombies. I didn't have time to get any zombie makeup on so I put some lipstick on my face (like blood) and ran as a human that was not quite a zombie yet (though I felt dead for real).

There was about 3,000 people at this race and there were some incredible costumes (hopefully I can add some photos later). While there was a glitch on the course in the form of a volunteer sending runners the wrong way on course causing some major confusion, it was still a fun run for a great cause (Huntsman Cancer Institute). I mean really if zombies were really chasing me I WOULD be confused right?

After the race I went home, ordered pizza and collapsed! It was a good day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#26- We Were HOT Stuff at The St. George Marathon!

The 2011 St. George Marathon was really great, despite having high temperatures again this year.  This was the race most of our Galloway runners were training for, so I was really excited to run with and support them.

On Friday morning I left my house at 7:00am and picked up fellow Maniac, Liz Gotter in Orem to start the 5 hour drive to St. George. I like leaving early. I hate feeling rushed and getting into town early gives me the opportunity to enjoy the town a little bit.

Liz and I pulled into St. George at around 12:00pm and headed straight for the Temple. We thought it would be an easy landmark to meet our friend and fellow Maniac, Galen Garrison for lunch. You can't miss the big white building in the middle of town.

The St. George Temple is so beautiful!

Liz and I walked around the Visitor's Center and I relived fond memories of my mission there. Then Galen pulled up in a car that made him look like he was in the FBI (a rental from Las Vegas, which we made fun of all weekend) and the three of us headed a block over where they were setting up the finish line. We stopped for a few photos then it was off to Cafe Rio for lunch.

I am just practicing my finish photo pose!

After lunch we headed to the expo to pick up our race packets and to soak up the pre-race excitement. We got our stuff and had a fun time walking around the booths. The Select Health booth was giving out free mouse pads with your photo on it!

Doin' the Mari on our free mouse pad!

St. George is a fairly small town, so finding a place to stay on race weekend is harder than getting into the race if you don't book early and the prices are out of control (Super 8 at $180 per night, really?). For this reason our Galloway group has always rented a house, which when split by 6-8 people is much more affordable. My Co-Director, Jim levy found a beautiful house for us to rent. It looked like a Spanish hacienda and was perfect for our needs (good job Jim!).

Our Home for the Weekend!

The back yard.

I was on double duty this weekend, first as coach to my Galloway runners and second, as a Marathon Maniac. I decided instead of trying to be at two places at once, I organized the Galloway and Maniac dinners at the most convenient place I could find for a large party... the St. George pasta dinner. The food and the company was great! It was awesome to see our first time marathoners mixing with the seasoned veterans.

Maniacs at the Pasta Party!

Me with a few of my Galloway peeps!

After dinner we headed back to the house to hit the hay.

Diane, Julia, Marci and I decided to get the 4:30am bus to the start, just to beat the porta-potty lines. A decision I may not have made if the temps were normal (40 degrees F) at the start, but we knew it would be warm up there and it was. 60 degrees F is perfect for running, but scary when you know how hot it will become once the sun comes up!

Marci and Julia on the bus and ready to run their first marathon!

St. George is famous for it's organization. When we got off the bus we were handed a foil blanket (St. George is the only place I have ever got one of these BEFORE the race) and a pair of gloves. We wrapped up and headed to the porta-potty line. I was glad to see there was no line...yet! After that we went back to the St. George sign, laid out our blankets and waited (it was a little warm to sit around one of the many bonfires they had).

Just waiting for the start!

At 6:15am I organized the Maniac and Galloway photos at the St. George sign. It was cool to see so many Maniacs there, but like Teresa and I at TOU, a few Maniacs took later buses and didn't make it. We still had a great group though.

Maniacs at St. George!

My Galloway runners ready to go!

At 6:45 the gun went off and so did we. I had lost most of my group in the rush to hit the porta-potty one last time and get my drop bag checked. Teresa had set it up that we would all meet at the 5:00 pacer if we got separated. Unfortunately, she was the only one that stuck to the plan (good job Teresa!). Luckily, I saw two of my first timer's Marci and Julia and we crossed the mat together. We were off!

Marci and I having fun!

Marci and Julia lookin' sassy!

I wasn't worried about finding the rest of my crew. I have run enough races to know that if we run about the same speed, we will find each other eventually. That's exactly what happened. Around mile 2, I heard Teresa behind me talking to someone else. Within a minute, we saw Rob and Chris. Before you knew it, we had a nice little group with us.

As the race continued Julia, Marci and I were going pretty good. Then at mile 7 we hit Veyo. The longest, hardest part of the race, Veyo is a very long hill that teases you as you make your way up it. Just when you think you've hit the top and head down the other side, you turn the corner to be met by another hill. This happens three times in the 5 mile stretch. The good news is, it's still early enough in the race that you have the energy to do Veyo. The bad news is, use too much of that energy and your race is spent way to early.

Just a small part of Veyo in the distance!

We tackled the hills where we could and conserved energy where we could. The 5:00 pacer passed us on Veyo. Once we off Veyo, I pushed the pace to make up some time. We wanted to get ahead of the 5:00 pacer. At about mile 12, Marci fell behind us with a  sick stomach. We slowed our pace so she could stay with us, but she told us to go ahead, so Julia and I went after that pacer again.

The course is beautiful!

At about mile 17, I pushed the pace again and Julia responded, though I could tell she was nervous. At that point I decided, it didn't matter if we caught that pacer or not. This was Julia's first marathon and I wanted her to finish. I backed off the pace and just had fun.

Me and Snow Canyon!

At mile 21 it was very HOT (almost 90 degrees F). It was there that we saw Teresa again. I continued to push Julia as we left the canyon for the last few miles in the city. I knew she had it in her physically, but at mile 23, I tried to push her mentally. This was a great part of the race because there is so much crowd support. People were even out handing out ice pops! YUM! The signs were great too! I love the Metcalf Mortuary signs!

Hey! Somebody is rooting for me! ;-)

This said it all once it got HOT! Hee Hee!

When we came around the last corner, I told Julia she could walk for 30 seconds, but then we had to run the rest of the way to the finish line and that's what we did. When we got to about 100 yards from the finish, Julia started sprinting! I could barely keep up! We finished strong in 5:10 which is just where Julia wanted to be! We just hugged, went and stood under the "cool zone" misters, got our medals and hit the grass where we reunited with all of our runners that finished before and after us. They all did AMAZING!!


When all of our runners came in, it was off to the house for a shower, some food and a relaxing night of massage (thanks to Jodi and Jeannetta for coming over to give massages to anyone who wanted one) and hanging out on the patio with friends. What a great night!

Running the Galloway group is time consuming and challenging at times, but it makes it all worth it to see our members, both old and new, cross the finish line. I would like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to our FABULOUS group leaders. There is no way I could run this program without you. Amy, Diane, Kimberly, Rosa, Kathy, Shanie, and Crystal. You guys are the BEST!!!

To our runners, Wow!! That's all I can say! YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!! There were some triumphs and disappointments, but no matter what, you should all be so proud of yourselves for the hard work and dedication you put into your training. I know I am super proud of all of you.

The St. George course is challenging and the heat didn't help things. If your race didn't go as planned, don't give up. There are so many races out there you can take on! Keep going! Remember a DNF (did not finish) is better than a DNS (did not start).

Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey.