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Monday, June 22, 2015

Girls Just Wanna Run the Wasatch Back!

Every year after running Ragnar's Wasatch Back (the 200ish mile relay) I say, "I think I will sit this one out next year." Then the next day I say "I can't wait until next year!" So after my 6th finish, I was back for a 7th year with my "Girls Just Wanna Run" teammates (my 3rd year with these great ladies)! 

After 2 years of being in Van 1, we decided to make a change and move to Van 2 just to mix it up. Another change was after many years of running from Logan to Park City, UT, this year's finish moved to Soldier Hollow, which was closer to our Team Captain, Sue's house. 

The good thing about being in Van 2, is that I didn't have to be in Logan on Thursday night! I was able to work at Wasatch Running Center on Thursday, go home, pack and meet the girls on Friday morning to decorate our van (or in this case, Jennifer's Suburban), and make the hour drive to Eden where our Van 1 would had off the Ragnar slap bracelet to us.

Now, this report is very Van 2 heavy as I was in Van 2 and I never saw the girls in Van 1 except at the last exchange, but I do know that that they ran great! Way to go Rachel, Brooke, Kristi, Janielle, Lisa, and Malia!!

Jennie, Abby, Jennifer, Me, Sue and Kim ready to get this adventure started!

Van 2! She got a little dusty, but we it still looks cute!

We got to Eden and picked up our race bibs, attended the new video safety presentation and waited for the girls in Van 1 to get there.

Sue and Kim!

Chillin' at the safety presentation! Good thing Sue and Jennie are listening! Hee Hee!

Jennie was our first runner (runner #7 on out team) so after the hand off we headed back to the Suburban and I got ready for my first leg. As I walked back to the car, I was told that at 8:30am a runner had died. His name was Tyler Rasch and he was 46 years old. 

I did not know Tyler, but as a runner it is scary. It was 95 degrees out at the moment we found out about this man's death. We don't know the details of what happened, but we all felt a sense of loss and fear. We all made a pact at that moment that we would be extra careful out there. If we got to hot, it was OK to stop and take a break. Better slow and safe than speedy and sorry.

I was runner #8 on our team. As I started, I felt great. My first leg was 7.2 miles and the first mile went fine. Then I started to over-heat. Anytime we were running on the street, it felt like running into an oven as the cars drove by. I had to stop and walk a few times just to have my teammates and other teams dump water down my back to cool off. That saved me. It felt like hell!

It took me much longer to to run that 7.2 miles than I wanted, but I had to slow way down to avoid passing out and I didn't care. Every time I had to walk, I would take a photo of the beautiful scenery.



Beautiful scenery!

I finished my run and handed off to Abby (runner #9), the youngest member of our team who had one of the hardest legs on our team. Her run was 7.8 miles in the heat, uphill (elevation gain of 2,084 feet)! She was a trooper!
Abby kicked butt going up that hill!

I am driving and Sue is navigating! We might be in trouble! Ha Ha!

The Italian Stallion, Sue looking strong despite the heat!

Abby handed off to Sue (runner #10). Sue had 8.10 miles in the heat, but her leg was one of the most beautiful legs and she had some nice downhill as well. Funny thing is, this is a leg that Sue ran a few times over the years in Van 1, but with all the course changes, it was now a Van 2 leg and she got it again!

Stores love Ragnar!

Sue handed off to Kim (runner #11) who had a beautiful 7.7 mile run. By this time the sun was getting ready to set and the temps were cooling down. By the time Kim handed off to Jennifer (runner #12), she had to wear her night gear for her 4.1 mile run.

Getting ready to run over night!

Once we handed off to Van 1 again, we headed into Morgan High School to get a few hours of sleep. We unloaded our sleeping bags, towels and a change of clothes and headed upstairs in the gym of the high school to sleep with a bunch of strangers on the padded floor. It was dark and quiet until one guy started snoring so loud, I wanted to shove a sweaty sock in his mouth!

We only got 2 1/2 hours of sleep before we had to head out for our second run!

Joshua was stalking me! We decided to take a selfie of ourselves at the same time! Now that's talent! Ha Ha!

This lighted Ragnar sign was so cool at night. It changed colors!

We all were doing great on our night runs, until we handed off to Sue. Sue was kicking asphalt and we checked on her about a mile from the finish and went to drive to the exchange where Kim would take over. We missed the turn to the exchange and drove about 2 miles down the road until we realized what we did. When we turned around, we were met by a man in a hard hat telling us the road back was closed and that we were going to have to take a detour. What he didn't tell us was that the detour would take us 30 minutes to get back the 2 miles!

We ran into another van that did the same thing when Jennifer flagged them down and asked them, and I quote, "Would you guys like to break through the barricade with us?" It was the quote of the night!

We did not break down the barricade, but we dropped off Kim and Jennifer who ran both of their legs together in case we did not get back in time. Good thing, because once we made the detour, we had to wait about 45 minutes in traffic to pick up poor Sue who had been waiting in the cold at 5:00am for over an hour!

Our girls got the legs in and we were able to catch up to them once they had finished and Van 1 didn't have to wait.

It's 3:45am and I had just finished a really fun night run!

Sue getting ready to run. She didn't know the adventure that was waiting for her!

After we all finished our 2nd legs, we headed over to South Summit High School and changed our clothes and had the pancake breakfast. We had to drive to the last major exchange at Park City High School and didn't have time for a real sleep, but on the drive there, I took a nice cat nap.

At our last major exchange all decked out in our team shirts!

Our last exchange was fun! We ran into so many friends! We could have taken a little nap on the grass while waiting for our last Van 1 runner to come in, but we were having too much fun socializing!

Sue and I looking for the van! The blind leading the blind! Ha Ha!

It was love at first sight! 

Our last legs began with Jennie doing the 10.30 mile "Ragnar" hill! With 2,608 feet of elevation gain, this was the hardest leg of the race. It was not only hard, but it was hot! This leg was so hard, the runner doing it was given a special medal after finishing it! 

The Ragnar leg was also the prettiest part of the race at the summit of Guardsman Pass (elevation 8,900 feet).   

At the summit of Guardsman Pass. 

"Ragnar" Exchange

It was great to see fellow Maniac Matt kicking butt up the Ragnar Hill!

Jennie finishing the "Ragnar" hill!

Jennie handing off to me! Do we look like we are having fun?

Jennie and her special medal for taking on "Ragnar"!

So beautiful!

My last leg was only 4.1 miles down the back side of Guardsman Pass. It was one of my favorite runs. It was all downhill, some parts so steep it was a little hard to run, but overall I flew down that hill! 

I was cooking down that hill!

Handing my water bottle to my team to fill up. There was no stopping on this run!

Kim starting her final leg!

Jennifer was our last runner and unfortunately, the finish line at Soldier Hollow was so congested, she beat us to the finish. We were left doing the ceremonial finish with only half our team, as Van 1 decided to go home.
Our finish photo!

All done and still having fun!


As for the new course, I liked it. The traffic was terrible at places which is expected, but the new finish area at Soldier Hollow was the worst! The flow was all wrong. It was congested and confusing.

We got our Fat Boy ice cream and pizza and left. Rob was nice enough to come pick me up so I didn't have to drive.

All in all, I had a great time with the greatest group of ladies! I am now thinking of doing an ultra team next year!
This year's shirt.

This year's medal.

When you turn over our team's medals and put them together, they have a message!

On behalf of Girls Just Wanna Run, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Tyler Rasch's family. I can't imagine what they are going through. His friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help his family. If you can give a little to help them please do.

We run to live and we live to run,

Monday, June 15, 2015

#96- The Utah Valley Marathon (and my 2nd Boston Qualifier)!

This is my 6th year running the Utah Valley Marathon. I run it every year as it is one of my favorite marathons in Utah. Not only is the course stunning, the race one of the most organized I have run.

Another real perk is that 1-800 Contacts (where I work full time) sponsors their employees to run every year, which means one less entry fee I had to pay for! They also picked up all our race packets for us and brought them to our gym where we had our own packet pick up. I like expos, but working until 8:30pm and having to get up at 2:00am, a 60 mile round trip to Provo, just to get my packet would have been a nightmare. This was a great service!

I wasn't sure what to expect this year. After my BQ in Ogden last month my hip has been a little sore. With my 100 mile training in full swing, I never really gave it a rest, so I was not sure if this race would end with a BQ, a PR, a PW, or a DNF! What I did know was that for the past 6 years, I have wished to be fast enough to earn one of the Boston Qualifier shirts the race gives out if you Boston Qualify on the Utah Valley Marathon course. I was always fine running my own pace, but I was secretly jealous of the faster people who got to don the BQ shirt and I never thought I would ever earn one. This year I wanted to try! Could lightning strike twice? Could I BQ two times in a row or was Ogden just a fluke? I would soon find out. 

1-800 Contacts had our own packet pick up where we were given treats, hand warmers, Mylar blankets and gift cards to Fazoli's.

At 2:00am my alarm went off and I got up, got dressed and made the 30 minute drive to Provo. I found parking near the finish area easily and made my way to the bus that would take us all to the start up in Walsburg.

The staring area of the Utah Valley Marathon had beautiful scenery and lots of  fires to keep runners warm. (Photo by John Bozung)

The first bus to the start left Provo at 3:15am and the last bus left at 4:15am, I split the difference and made it on the bus around 3:45am.

This was the first time in this race that I sat with total strangers on the bus! This was fine, as I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. I pulled on my fleece poncho and closed my eyes. I had little dreams of the Maniac reunion in 2012 and how happy I was last year and I got a little emotional (out of exhaustion I'm sure). I told myself that even with a sore hip, this was going to be a great day!

Once we got to the start, I found a place on the grass, pulled my poncho over my face and tried to get another little cat nap before getting in the potty line.

I started seeing a few Maniacs, but was really glad when I saw my good friends, Sue and Galen. We grabbed all the Maniacs we could find shortly before the start and got a group photo before checking our bags and lining up at the start!

Maniacs at the start of the marathon.

The race started promptly at 6:00am and we made our way out of Walsburg and down Provo Canyon! This is a fairly fast course, but don't be fooled if you think that this course is all downhill. While there are some nice down hill sections, there are also some good hills between miles 7 and 11 and another nice one at 16 and 18.

Lots of farms and horses in Walsburg!

One of the worst things that can happen during the race (especially if you are trying to BQ), is having to use the bathroom. Around mile 4, I knew I was going to have to stop. I knew if I could just hang on until the half, there would be tons of free potties with no lines (this is where the half marathon starts). I knew by mile 6 that there was no way I could wait. I HAD to stop.

As I approached the aid station, I could not see any lines, but of course the 5 people running in front of me saw that too and decided it was a good time for them to go too. So between waiting and going 4 minutes was lost. Ugh!

As I came out of the potty, I saw Sue. I said hi and was on my way!

The course is beautiful! (Photo by John Bozung)

Beautiful mountain flowers. (Photo by John Bozung)

Another Ranch! (Photo by John Bozung)

At mile 7, we round the corner and start our love/hate relationship with a bunch of hills! Every year I have to walk at least one of these hills, but not this year. I powered up them slowly, but I didn't have to walk once!

I love Provo Canyon!

This was a nice downhill section.


For the past two years, they have run the course on the East side of the street, which gave us a lot more shady areas. 

Bridal Veil Falls 

Maniac John Bozung with some firemen running in full uniform! (Photo courtesy of John Bozung)  

At about mile 21, we come out of the canyon and have a long straight run down University Avenue to the finish. This stretch is filled with spectators to cheer you on, but it is the hottest part of the race with little to no shade. You want to finish fast just to beat the heat.

I had to wear a hat due to getting a nasty sunburn on my forehead in Steamboat Springs last weekend, so I was roasting! Thank goodness for the Otter Pops at mile 23 and the misters those last 2 miles. I was really ready to be done.

When I looked at my watch at mile 24, I felt like I had the BQ in the bag and thought I may even PR, but those last 2 miles were tough, so once my watch hit 3:44:08 and I was not at the finish line, I let up a little so I wouldn't collapse at the finish for nothing.

I came in officially at 3:45:35 (9 minutes and 25 seconds under my qualifying time)! I was thrilled to earn my second Boston Qualifier in one month and I got my shirt!

O.K. I was a little excited to BQ again!

Me and my Boston Qualifier shirt that I coveted for 6 years!  

The race finishes in front of the beautiful Provo Tabernacle, which had caught fire two years ago, but the shell was saved and it is being restored as a new LDS Temple.

Caught up with a couple of Maniacs at the finish!

1-800 Contacts had a tent for us with post race massages, water and snacks. It was cool to see my co-workers Roger and Scott there!

Me and my BFF Galen!

I had to get back home as I had to work at Wasatch Running Center (my second job) after the race, but I wanted to see where I came in my division. To my surprise, I was 4th! They give awards to the top 5, so I had finally not only got my BQ shirt, but I had made the podium!

The top 5 women in the 45-49 age group (2nd place is not pictured).

Me and my award!

After the awards, I headed back to find my car. I took a photo of the intersection so I wouldn't get lost, and yet I still could not find my car! Luckily, I kept walking past this yard sale looking tired and lost and this elderly couple browsing at the yard sale offered to drive me around to find my car. Turns out I had walked right past it! Classic Ang!

I zoomed home, got a shower and headed to work so I could catch Ryan Hall before he left the store (he was doing an in store at Wasatch Running Center), but right as I pulled in, I saw him getting in his car. Boooo! Oh well!

My cool co-workers with Ryan Hall! Could someone just Photo Shop me in there? Ha Ha!

Anyway, what else is there for me to say about the Utah Valley Marathon besides, that it is AWESOME and it is a great June marathon, half marathon or 10K. They even have a cute Kids 1K! Come check it out!

The Medal!

The shirt! 26.2 Miles of the Pain You Enjoy!

My Boston Qualifier Shirt!!!!