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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ragnar's 10th Anniversary for the Wasatch Back!

For my fifth Wasatch Back, I was fortunate enough to gain a spot on my friend and fellow Maniac Sue Mantyla's "Girls Just Wanna Run Team". In all my past Ragnar relays I have always been in van 2. This year I really wanted to experience the race differently than in year's past, so I asked to be in van 1, leg 3.  
Our start time was at 5:45am, so we drove up to Logan and stayed at the home of one of the past G.J.W.R. members, who could not run this year as she was expecting her first baby soon (thanks Hilary)! This was awesome as we were able to get a little sleep, before driving five minutes to the Start.

Our team Captain, Sue picking up our bibs.
Van 1 Girls ready to get started!
The 5:45am Starters are filing in!
Sue is getting the party started!!
The weather was much cooler than in year's past and I was looking forward to getting out there! Here is what my first leg looked like:

When I started, it was still a little bit cold, but I warmed up fast. I got about 3 miles into my run when I saw our "van" (aka Sue's Suburban"). The girls all cheered and drove ahead. I kept running when all of a sudden another van pulls up and a man gets out with his orange flag to cross the street. There were no other runners near me at that point, so I wasn't sure why he was in such a hurry until he started screaming my name. It was my good friend Kory and his lovely wife Ele!!
It was so great seeing Korey!!
I met Korey at the SLC Marathon 3 years ago, when he, Teresa Baker and I struck up a conversation during the last few miles of the race. The conversation went like this: "If we finish, we can go to Cafe Rio for lunch!" Which we did and we have all been fast friends since!
As I continued the leg, I felt like a rock star! Between our van, Korey's van and the other two vans that that were cheering for me (one had Julia in it, a former Galloway member and the other was another team that we had struck up a conversation with at the exchange), I felt well taken care of!
Deborah finishing her first leg with nobody there! We had a few exchange glitches, but made the best of them and had fun anyway!
Jennie handing off to Saranne!!
Saranne just killed Santa!!
As we were looking for Saranne, we noticed a fire on the mountain and called 911. We saved Ragnar! OK, so a lot of other people called 911 too, but we like to think it was our call that saved the day! Hee Hee!
Once all the girls in our van ran, our first major exchange was at Eden Park in Eden. We handed off to our "Van 2" then hurried up to Snowbasin Ski Resort (the site of the 2nd major exchange). Van 2 had a total of about 23 miles to cover in their first leg, which only took them a couple of hours to cover. We had enough time to eat something and rest for a little bit before it was our turn to run again.
The first major exchange is always a mad house, but fun!
I found Marsha up at Snowbasin! Teota was there too, but I forgot to get a photo with her. :-( 
This was the view as we waited for Sue to run down the hill on her 2nd leg.
Deborah killing it!
My second leg (which in year's past has been in the middle of the night), was the most difficult even though the mileage and terrain were the easiest. It was late afternoon and it was a little toasty. Here is what my leg 2 looked like:
Seems easy right? This was my hardest leg!
I don't know if I was tired, or it was the heat or both, but that second leg wiped me out! I kept leapfrogging one of the guys on the Santa team (they all dressed like Santa). I asked him to deliver a little snow for us as we were roasting! I also made the mistake of not changing my shirt after the first leg. The salt that was already on my shirt made me start chaffing! Man! Right under my arm was on fire! Luckily my team was there with some sunscreen which they applied and that took the edge off until I finished and hastily changed my top!

The Wasatch Back is Beautiful!
Ashlee getting ready to run.
Once our van finished our 2nd legs, Van 2 had about 40 miles to cover through the night, which meant we were going to get a good 3-4 hours of sleep! We headed to North Summit High School in Coalville where we would sleep on the floor of the gym with hundreds of other runners. We were one of the first people up on the second floor of the gym, so we spread out. When we woke up, there were hundreds of people next to us all cramped together! Oops!
Sue was next to run for our van, so at 3:45am, we were driving to the next major exchange, which we thought was South Summit High School. We dropped Sue off at the exchange, then drove ahead about 2 miles to wait for her. Sue left her phone in the van so when she got a text, one of the other girls picked it up. The text was from Van 2 and it read: "Where is Sue?" Hmmm.
When we figured out that the exchange was at the Oakley Rodeo Grounds and NOT South Summit High School (SSHS is where Sue would finish her leg), we rushed back to get her and drive her to the correct exchange. Poor Van 2 had to wait almost an hour for us! So sorry Van 2!! Poor Sue felt so bad, but hey, that is part of the adventure that is Ragnar right? 
I was not looking forward to my last leg. It was the longest and hardest looking of my three legs. Here is what leg 3 looked like:
Ugh!! My longest hilliest leg yet!
 Luckily the sun had come up by the time I set out for my last run so I didn't need a vest or headlamp, but it was pretty cold. I put on my arm warmers and headed out. The first couple of miles felt really good (looking at the elevation chart I see why), but right around mile 3, I hit the never-ending hill!
I feel great! If I only knew the hill that was waiting for be just around the bend!
I really wanted to channel the mountain goat in me, but I was just to tired to try and run the whole thing. I had to run/hike that hill! I was glad I did that as I was able to save my legs enough to do 8 minute miles the last mile and a half! I hit the exchange and was sooooo happy to be done! It was now time to relax and enjoy cheering on the rest of our team!
Once we handed off to Van 2 for the last time at Rocky Mountain Middle School (where we had one more exchange glitch, why stop now? Hee Hee!), we ate pancakes and bacon then we drove about ten minutes to Sue's BEAUTIFUL new home and took showers, cleaned out the van, and rested a bit until it was time to head down to Park City High School for the arrival of Van 2 and the big finish!
When we arrived in Park City, we hung out, took some photos and talked to some other teams we met along the course.
Saranne, Jennie, Sue, Deborah, Me and Ashlee- the lovely ladies of Van 1!
Then Van 2 called and said Andee (out last runner) had just left the exchange for her last 3 mile leg. She is pretty speedy, so we knew we only had minutes to get team corral to see her run in and finish the race as a team!
When she came in, our team came in behind her and ran her into the finish!
Andee, our last runner coming into finish!
After the finish, we all sat and had some pizza and ice cream (little Fat Boys are soooo good) to celebrate!

Girls Just Wanna Run 2013 enjoying some post-race pizza!

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this was my fifth Wasatch Back. Every year I think "I will take a break next year", but every year a couple of weeks out, I always end up on a team and every time I am so glad I did!
I would like to thank Sue Mantyla for offering me a spot this year and THANK YOU to all our fellow teammates: Deborah, Saranne, Jennie, Ashlee, Rachelle, Nayumi, Paige, Arwen, Paige, Nancy and Andee for the best time ever! Thanks to you all for sharing your photo too!
I would also like to give a huge shout out to Hilary, David, Tony and Amy for being our AMAZING volunteers! You guys ROCK!! THANK YOU!
I have said it before and I will say it again, the Wasatch Back is the most beautiful Ragnar Relay and it's right in our back yard! Will I do again next year, I sure hope so!!
The Bling!!

Our "Van"

Monday, June 17, 2013

The American Fork Half Marathon!

I usually don't include my half marathons in my blog, only because I barely have time to keep up with my marathons, but since I finally broke 2 hours in the half, I had to give it a mention!
The AF Half Marathon is AWESOME! It runs down American Fork Canyon for about 7 miles then flattens out. I tried to keep the 1:55 pacer in my sights and surprised myself when the 2:00 pacer never caught me!!
Cute Galloway Girls and I at the Start!
They doubled the size of the race this year, so the start was pretty crowded!

This is what a Half Marathon PR looks like!
Speedy Sue also ran a PR! Way to go Sue!
Another reason to love this race? Kneader's french toast at the finish=HEAVEN!!
Yeah, I am pretty proud of that!
Not only is this a great race, it is supporting a great cause. The American Fork Canyon Half Marathon and 5K is helping local neighbors who need financial assistance to pay for the cost of cancer treatments. The Cancer Centers at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and American Fork Hospital, in partnership with the Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation, donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the race to this cause. If you would like to help, click here:

#55- The Utah Valley Marathon!

Last year was super fun at the Utah Valley Marathon as it was the host of the 2012 Marathon Maniacs Reunion. In the midst of organizing the event, by the time race day actually came, I was exhausted and didn't run well at all. In fact, for a fairly fast course, I never really run well here. I was hoping for that to change this year.

Fellow Marathon Maniac and Chief Running Officer at Runner's World Magazine, Bart Yasso and I at the expo!

This year was promised to be warmer than in year's past and I was struggling with some foot issues. My goal this year was just to make it to the finish without hobbling or dropping dead of heat stroke.

Me, Marci, Galen, Sue and Teota at the start.
The one thing I love about the Utah Valley Marathon is the 6:00am start (start early, finish early and beat the heat). The one thing I hate about the Utah Valley Marathon is the 6:00am start (only because this means a 2:00am wake up call for me in order to get the 4:00am bus to the start).
My fellow Maniacs, Galen, Marci and Teota met in the Harmon's parking lot in Draper at 2:45am to carpool down to Provo. I was excited to see Teota running her first full marathon since her injury in January! Welcome back Teota!!
Once we got to the start we were all a little put back at how warm it was. It is usually freezing at the start, but it was quite comfortable. That only meant it was going to be a scorcher once the sun came up!
We had a few less Maniacs than last year at the start!
Since 1-800 Contacts sponsored me to run, I ran in their colors! Here I am with Roger Gibson, who works in the Marketing department with me! Thanks 1-800 Contacts!
Marci, Teota and I trying to get one last photo in before we crossed the timing mats!
The weather was perfect for most of the race. There was no wind like last year. I ran most of the race with fellow Utah Maniac Mike Akagi!
Maniac Mike!
For those of you that have never run the Utah Valley Marathon, it is a must! It has some of the most beautiful scenery around.
So beautiful!
There was only one glitch to the race this year. There was not a single port-a-potty between the start and the half and between the half and the finish. Now, working and speaking with Race Director Hyrum Oaks over the years, I know his commitment to the comfort and safety to the runners is top priority. I knew right away, that this was not the fault of the race and I was right. The company responsible for placing the p-o-p's dropped the ball. While it was unfortunate, it was a mistake. People who are vowing never to come back because of it, will just cutting of their nose to spite their face. It is a great event!
One thing that changed this year (for the better), was that we were running on the opposite side of the road. This allowed some lovely shade, but once we got out of the canyon at around mile 21-22 (I think), it started getting hot and there were only tiny amounts of shade.
Mike and I hung strong to the finish and I actually felt great! While my time was not all the speedy, it was faster than I had ever run that course before. A course PR!!
A few Maniacs at the finish!
Me and another co-worker, Jeff Edwards at the finish! Jeff finished his first Marathon and I am already working on him to join the Maniacs! Hee Hee!

After four years of running the Utah Valley Marathon, I still love it! See you next year!

Friday, June 14, 2013

#54- The Ogden Marathon!

After the cold and rain at the Salt Lake Marathon in April, I was not to happy when Sue Mantyla and I came out of our hotel to catch the bus to the start and see it pouring. The Ogden marathon is one of the most beautiful courses in Utah (or anywhere), but the start is way up Ogden Canyon and it's always cold up there even on a nice day. I was not looking forward to sitting up there for 1 1/2 hours in pouring rain and freezing to death before we even took a step, but we are Maniacs, what else can we do?

The bus ride to the start was nice as there was a bathroom on it. I least it was clean and warm and there was no line!

Once we got up to the top, it was still raining, but it didn't feel that cold. We found a place next to one of the fires and stayed warm. We noticed that there were people walking around with plastic bags over their shoes to keep them dry and mud free. I wish I would have thought of that as my shoes were wet and muddy before got to the start line.

Maniacs at the start of the Ogden Marathon.
Hanging at the start with Jeff Galloway
I was happy when the race got started just so I could get warm. The second I moved away from the fire and took off my jacket, it was cold! I kept on my long sleeved shirt and I had already put on my $1 rain poncho, but once the rain started, they didn't do much to keep me dry or warm.
I was running with fellow Maniac Tim Gill (aka Kilt Dude) for the first few miles which is always fun. Around mile two, my foot really started hurting. I was already miserable and I couldn't imagine walking the whole race in the rain. I would have froze to death. I asked at an aid station if they had any pain medication and they said no, so in desperation I just started asking people on the course. A nice man heard my cry and hooked me up with three Advil. I NEVER take Advil during a race, but I was desperate. If it didn't work, I would have to take my first DNF. Thank goodness about 20 minutes after I took it, the pain let up enough for me to continue.
I lost Tim at a potty stop so the rest of the race I was pretty much on my own. People do not talk to each other when it's pouring rain and cold. I finally took out my iPod (which only comes out in an emergency) and started listening to episodes of NPR's "This American Life". The podcasts were so interesting, it took my mind off of the misery I was feeling.
At about mile 22, I started getting a second wind and I picked up the pace. I just started ticking people off one by one. When I got a mile out I realized that if I kept going, I not only would break 5 hours (something I thought was lost in the middle of the race), but I would get a negative split!
As I saw the finish line, I ripped the rain poncho off me (I was sick of wearing it and I wanted at least one photo without it), and sprinted towards the finish. When I saw I broke 5:00 hours with a negative split, I burst into tears. I have run a lot faster on that course, but I was so happy to have turned my race around when I thought I might DNF. It was quite emotional for me.

It was a fist pump moment for me when I crossed the finish line.
No DNF today!!
I love Ogden and will be back next year, I hope!

#53- The Tacoma City Marathon and the Marathon Maniacs 10th Anniversary!

The Tacoma City Marathon in 2010, held a very special place in my heart. It was the first time I had ever attended a Marathon Maniac reunion and I went with about 10 other Utah Maniacs. What a blast we had! I had even managed to wrangle a PR (at that time) out of the hardest and hilliest course I had ever run!
When it was announced that the 10th Anniversary Celebration would be held in Tacoma on May 5, 2013, I was so excited and scared at the same time. I knew it would be fun with over 500 Maniacs in attendance, but I wondered if that hilly course would still feel hard (even though I was a more experienced runner and the course had changed some)? My was!!
I flew into Seattle on Saturday and immediately went to meet my fellow Maniac and foodie, Michael "The Shoe" Hsu for a delicious Mexican lunch before heading to the host hotel.
How is that for carbo loading?
After lunch we headed to Tacoma and to the Hotel Murano where the expo and Marathon Maniac meeting and dinner would be held (and where we were all staying).
I had a room with a view!
After checking in, Michael and I hit the expo! We ran into a lot of friends there!
The Prez and Marathon Maniacs #1, Steven Yee and I!
The AMAZING organizer of this year's reunion, Ms. Patty Krebsbach and I!
Joe Taricani and Greg Goebel
Dave Mari and I!
Clem George and Tony Nguyen and I!
Michael and I went a little crazy at the expo!
After the Expo we headed to the Maniac meeting and pasta dinner. As the meeting and pasta dinner was held in the same place as the expo, we had to wait a couple of hours for the hotel to clear the expo space and set up the meeting and dinner space. Our Presidente killed some time by giving out some rare Maniac gear only available at the reunion!
The Prez calling out names in the drawing.
There were colored t-shirts and gloves, but I wanted one of the red MM sippy cups!! I ended up winning a XL Pink t-shirt. My hotel roomie Abbi Auger won the cup and an excellent trade was made!
Oh Yeah!! Abbi traded her cup for my t-shirt! Awesome deal!
When the hotel finally opened the doors to the room, they informed Tony P. that they had another banquet in the hotel and did not have enough food to meet the tickets sold. At this point a lot of us with tickets gave them up for a full refund on the spot. I felt terrible for the organizers. This was a hotel fail! 
Before taking off to find dinner, we stayed for the first part of the meeting. I had been instructed to keep my friend Galen Garrison there as he was getting an award. That was hard to do! It was getting late and Galen was hungry! I finally convinced him to stay. When the big 3 (Steven, Tony and Chris) started giving out awards I was shocked and honored to receive one myself!!
The Big 3 (MM#1, #2 &#3) presenting me the award for "Positive Goodwill and Spirit within the Marathon Community"!
My Award! 
Dan Semsel presented Galen one of his rare USAF Challenge Coins to recognize him for taking the lead in tracking down all the Marathon Maniacs in Boston during the Boston bombings. 
Galen and Dan.
We ended up eating at the restaurant in the hotel and while dinner took forever, once we got it it was pretty good. 
After dinner we all went upstairs to get ready for the race and to get some sleep. 
The next morning Abbi and I got up and headed down to meet our fellow Maniacs for a bus ride to the start.

Abbi and I on the bus to the start!
The start area was in this big airplane hanger. We all gathered in there to keep warm as it was quite windy and chilly at the start. Lord knows we were begging for that cold air later in the day.
A few of my favorite Maniacs!
Tom Scott (aka Harem Dude) and I
Fellow Utah Maniacs, Galen and Sue!

Kim and I like to re-fashion our Maniac gear!

My Birthday buddy, Brad Nelson and I!
This group picture barely fits on the page!
 After all the catching up and photo taking, it was finally time to run!
Galen, Marci and I starting the race!
"The Shoe", Rose and I about a mile in. I am still cold so I will run with my blankie a little while longer!
JC had quite the team running with him to celebrate his 100th Marathon!
Getting ready to run over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge!
I had a great time running through Pt. Defiance with the AWESOME Betsy Rogers heading up the 5:00 pace group.
I was having a really nice race running and chatting with Betsy Rogers through Pt. Defiance. Man is that place beautiful! It is also quite hilly, but the trees offered some lovely shade. At about mile 19 I could feel my calfs start to seize. I would stop and walk for a minute until the twinge passed and then start running again. I did this two or three times until both calfs revolted and went into full on cramping. By this time, I had lost Betsy and was out of the lovely shade hobbling the best I could. I felt a little defeated and thought I might need to walk the last 6 miles in.
It was then I saw Dave Mari. That angel with a camera gave me some salt tabs which I could take now that I had just filled my water bottle at the aid station. After about 10-15 minutes, I was able to run again, but at this point it was so hot, every time I would come up to a Maniac walking, I just stopped and walked (and talked) with them for a few minutes. Heck, I was not getting a PR and I had lost the 5:00 pacer, I might as well enjoy the last few miles!
I ran/walked with Michael Hsu the last few miles. He was trying not to get a PW (personal worst) so in the last mile, I "shooed" him off. The half last mile was hard as I could hear the finish line but could not see it. I just wanted to be done! When I finally saw it, I was so happy! I knew once I crossed that finish line there would a nice big medal and lots of Maniacs to visit with!
Dan, Louie, Monte and I at the finish!
Post race interview with Joe from the Marathon Show!
Probably my favorite photo from the whole race! Thanks for the cape E. Dude!
So many cool Maniacs, so little time!
After the race Marci and her husband Mike let me shower in their room and get ready for the first of the after parties (thank guys)!

Food and great people at the after party!
The second party was bowling! I was sooooo wanting to go, but I was sooooooo tired. Galen was nice enough to offer me the sofa bed in his room so I had a place to crash before hitting the airport home. Thanks G!
All in all it was a GREAT weekend. Every reunion makes me love this little (7,000+) club of ours! I can't wait to see what's in store for 2014!!