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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Vancouver USA Marathon! The Most Fun I Have Had At A Race I Didn't Run!

Sunday afternoon after finishing the Revel Rockies Marathon, I got a call from Bart Yasso asking me if I was free to accompany him at the Vancouver USA Marathon in Vancouver, WA the following weekend. He was going to do the race announcing for the 6th year and I jumped at the chance. I have never traveled to a race where I wasn't going to run the race. There was a part of me that wasn't sure how I could survive the temptation, but once I got there, I had a blast just hanging out with Bart, doing shakeout runs, seeing friends and cheering on runners of all ages!

I flew into Portland on Friday afternoon and got to the Hilton at about 4:00pm. Bart was waiting out front for me with other runners when I pulled up. Being a celebrity in the running world (working at Runners World Magazine for 30 years and being a running legend in his own right), Bart does not get far at a race without being asked for pictures and/or selfies.

He told me first thing on the agenda was a shakeout run at 5:30pm, so I went to the room, changed into some running clothes and met a nice group of runners for an easy 3 miles along the Columbia River. 

Shakeout run #1

After the shakeout run Bart is invited to a dinner thrown by a group pf local runners. We went to this cute little Italian place called Little Italy's for some really tasty pasta and pizza! It was really fun meeting the local runners and I appreciated them being so welcoming to me!

After dinner, we hit the hotel hot tub for a little relaxing soak with a few other runners staying at the hotel. After being on a plane, sitting in a hot tub feels great!

The next morning Bart and I decided to go for a run before he had to announce the 5k, Kids Marathon (1.2 miles) and Kids Fun Run (one lap of the park) and asked a few people at dinner to join us, so at 8:00 we all met at the bell tower in Esther Short Park and headed on the same 3 mile out and back we did the previous night.

Saturday morning shakeout run!

After the run, we all went to Starbucks for coffee/tea and breakfast. Bart hit the shower so he could start is job of announcing all the days races. By the time I got in the shower I could see Bart starting the 5k. The great thing about the Hilton is that you could literally see the start/finish line from the room. As I got ready, the 5k leaders came across the finish line!

When I finally got down to the start, it was almost time to get the Kid's Marathon started! 

Bart and I at the 5k!

Bart asked me to help get the kids warmed up. They look thrilled! Ha Ha!

Bart getting ready to start the Kid's Marathon!

At 2:00pm, Bart did a Facebook live Q&A called #AskBart! People could ask him questions live or on Facebook. It was pretty cool! Facebook live is pretty awesome.

My job was to take tons of photos and post to on social media. Hang out and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all day? Yeah, I can do that! Ha Ha!

Bart answering questions during #AskBart

I have a few questions for this guy! Ha Ha!

Bart with Race Director Brian Davis and his cute family, April and Skyler!

Before dinner, Bart and I took a nice stroll along the river where we saw some fun art, beautiful scenery and BUNNIES! 

This stuff make me want to start Lindy Hopping!

In front of the bridge!

A nice view o the Columbia River

The Lady of the Harbor!


We made reservations at the Hilton for dinner and invited a few Maniac and local friends to join us. They were having a pasta buffet dinner for $10 and it was really good! You could still eat off the menu if wanted something different, but they had lovely salads and pasta with 2 sauces. For $10, you could not beat it. With our reservation we got right in at 6:00pm with no waiting.

Dinner with friends. Georges (and his selfie stick) must have thought Bart was in the witness protection program as only his face is blurred out! Ha Ha!!

After dinner, we hit the hotel hot tub with a bunch of runners again and got ready for race day!

The marathon started at 7:00am and the half marathon started at 9:00am. You could literally see the start/finish from our hotel window, so we looked outside and waited to go downstairs until we saw the Maniacs milling around for the photo scheduled for 6:30am!    

Yeah, I didn't run, but I still jumped in the Maniac photo! Ha Ha!

After a quick photo, we headed over the the start and Bart got to work!

Bart getting ready to start the marathon!

Bart giving Georges a high-five as he starts the marathon!

After all the marathoners were off, Bart and I headed out on the course for a quick 3.5 mile run of our own which ended at Starbucks for coffee and spinach and egg wraps before he had to be back send off the half marathoners.

Bart getting ready to start the half marathon!

Once the half marathoners were off, it was just a matter of minutes before we would start seeing the top runners in the marathon coming in. 

Cute little Skyler and I having fun waiting for the runners to start coming in!

About 4:00 into the marathon, I decided to run down to the trail along the river (where we had done our shakeout runs) around mile 24 to cheer on those runners who might need a little more encouragement in those last miles. I was so glad I did! I saw some of my favorite people!

Ed Childress was looking strong!

My new friend and fellow Emoji lover, Jim Skerjanc survived a heart attack and was back out there preserving his 6 year streak! His wife Suzanne is a doll too! THANKS for dinner you two! 

When I saw Georges he was looking strong, but told me that Johnathan was struggling... I went out to kick him in the butt! J/K! I ran with Jonathan to the finish and he did great! 

I met Half Fanatic, Mwenyewe and her sister Khadijah! They were so nice and I loved her pink outfit! (Photo credit: Hijabi Runner)

Super cool to see fellow Maniac, Janice Ann Northup finish her 100th Marathon! Congratulations! (Photo credit: Steve Walters)

One thing that sets the Vancouver USA Marathon apart from other races (especially in Utah), is that they have a Summer Beer Fest in conjunction with the marathon. If you like beer, this race is for you! With 25 breweries and 50 taps, beer lovers will never go thirsty.  

After the race, Bart, George, Johnathan, Mary Lenari and others hit the beer fest for food, dancing, and FUN! We had such a great time there! While we were there I got a text that my flight home was delayed 1 1/2 hours. I was so happy. I was having too much fun to leave!

We stayed until the Beer Fest closed, I got my stuff, said goodbye to Bart and headed home.

This race was so much fun and I didn't even run! The course is beautiful, the medals were awesome and the fun Beer Fest made it a really good time! This will be on my list for next year and next year I will run!

Friday, June 17, 2016

#110 (FINALLY!)- The Revel Rockies Marathon

After a respectable showing in the half marathon at Utah Valley on Saturday (by respectable I mean I at least finished and placed 3rd in my age group), I jumped on a plane and headed to Denver right after the race to take on Revel Rockies Marathon!

When I got to Denver, our Maniac/Revel Ambassador host and hostess, Daniel and Stacy Bolyard made sure I (and all the other people they generously put up at their house), was picked up at the airport (or nearby) and promptly served a delicious pasta dinner.

I walked into their house and was greeted by some of my favorite people! Dave Bell, Brian Post, Aaron Braunstein, Missy Peters, Denis McCarthy, Cade Remsburg and a slew of other cool Maniacs! There was a party going on!

I ate dinner, chatted with everyone for a bit and Missy showed me where our room was and I hit the the hay! I was exhausted and we had another early wake up call!

The alarm went off at 2:15am. I got dressed and headed downstairs where Daniel had laid out everything we needed for breakfast! He wasn't even running and he was up early taking care of us and driving us all to the start!

Stacy's husband Daniel had our breakfast needs covered!

We got to the buses around 3:30am and drove the 40 minutes to the start. I don't remember much about the bus ride because I fell asleep the second I sat down in the seat.

The start area was beautiful! Pine trees everywhere, but when you are at close to 10,000 feet, it was a little chilly. I put on my fleece poncho, pulled on my hat and gloves and found a sign near the drop bag truck that I could sit and lean against. I was cold, so I pulled my head into the the neck hole of the poncho. It was like I was in a little fleece tent! It felt so toasty, that I fell asleep and would have probably slept right through the start of the race had the announcer not came on and told people to come drop their bags in the truck. I woke up, poked my head out of my little fleece tent and I was surrounded by people trying to drop their bags! That was my cue to wake up and get moving!

Because I was sleeping the whole time we were up there, I didn't have time to organize an official Maniac photo, so on our way to the start line, I just grabbed people and we put together a quick one on the spot!

Some of the Maniacs running the Marathon!

Heading to the start!

Selfie at the start!

As we walked down to the start, I realized that I forgot to put on my Garmin! This both scared me and offered a little relief. I was scared as not being able to see my pace meant I would just have to run on feel. I was relieved as not being able to see my pace, I would just have run on feel! 

The only issue is that downhill courses have a way of tricking you into feeling good at the beginning of the race, making you feel like Meb Keflezighi or Shalane Flanagan as you fly down the mountain with speed your legs have never felt before! Then out of nowhere, something punches you in the face while, dragging your lifeless body along the road later in the race when the course flattens out or God forbid there is the slightest chance of a hill! Without seeing my pace, my reality is tested and I am sure to go out too fast, and I did. My legs were already tired from the half the day before, so pushing the pace was the dumbest thing ever. 

The views at the start of the race were breathtaking!

Enjoying the downhill!

The other thing about downhill courses, it that they can play havoc on my gut! I spent more time in the port-a-potty lines in the first half, than I spent running (3 visits in the first 7 miles)! I don't know if it's the faster pace or all the pounding my body was taking, but I felt like they should have named a port-a-potty after me that race! 

Maniac Murray Honick played leap frog at least three times!

Fellow Maniac, Tom Stofleth and I having fun!

The first half of the course a pretty steep decline (dropping about 2,000 feet in the first half). What the elevation chart does not show is the pretty significant hills in the second half! You are still going down, but those rollers (after all that downhill) about killed me! So I caught up to my friend Kinnier Lastimosa (who had just run a half Iron Man the day before) and we walked every big hill we came across I wanted a sub 4:00, but it was much more important for me to get a finish feeling good.

Marathon Elevation Chart

So beautiful!

By the time I got to mile 22, I was feeling pretty good. Taking it easy actually helped me enjoy the course and this is one of the most beautiful courses I have ever run. 

This made me think of Bart Yasso after hearing his stories of running in Africa!

By the time I hit mile 23, I was chatting up other runners who were struggling, just trying to motivate them (and myself) to keep going. The sun had peeked out from behind the clouds and I could feel myself starting to overheat. I was running pretty strong at this point and did not want to get dizzy!

I loved how the last miles were on a nice gentle downhill, but when I approached the finish and saw this little hill that led to the finish line, it might as well have been Mt. Everest! I made it up that thing, but it was tough. I headed to the finish line one happy runner!

No PR. No BQ. No sub 4:00, but no dizzy spells and no DNF! This was a win for me!

Heading to the finish!

After the race my legs felt trashed. I walked over to meet the rest of my friends and saw people sitting in the river. OMH!! Nothing makes your legs feel better after a hot marathon than sitting in cold water. I made my way down the river bank, found a rock, kicked off my shoes and had a seat. That water felt heavenly!

Nothing feels better on your feet after a marathon than putting them in the river!

I finally caught up with my friends (who were in the beer garden enjoying free and cold beer) and we headed out just in time to see fellow Maniac Edward Broadnax finishing his 200th marathon!


Those have to be the three best smiles in running right there! Hee Hee! (Photo Credit- Jamila Williams)

We headed back to Daniel and Stacy's, grabbed showers, lunch, dinner, drinks and Voodoo Doughnuts all before crashing for the night! Good times!

This race is a MUST DO! If you run it smart (and don't run a fast half the day before), the course is fast and gorgeous! The medals and shirts are awesome, though I would have loved to see a different color shirt for each Revel race (the Rockies shirt was the same color as the MT. Charleston shirt). The post race food was OK, but the free beer for those that like beer was great.

Charlotte and her costumes crack me up! She is awesome!

The free pics are AWESOME! The  free gloves, hats and foil blankets in your swag bag was great too! Revel really does do a great job!

Don't forget to join us for Big Cottonwood (click to join our team for up to $10 off) on September 10, 2016! The party WILL continue!!

HUGE THANK YOU to Stacy and Daniel for the AMAZING hospitality! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Utah Valley Half Marathon!

Well after two disappointing DNF's I needed to do two things: 1) Figure out what is going on with these dizzy spell and why I am having them when I run; and 2) Finish a gosh darned race! Luckily, I work for a great company (1-800 Contacts) that has a GREAT health and wellness program and as a part of that program covers out entry fee to the Utah Valley Marathon, (half marathon or 10k).

I had originally signed up for the marathon. I have done the marathon the last five years and did not want to miss this year. With Revel Rockies Marathon in Denver the next day, I thought this would make a great double, but with my last two races ending in DNF's, I decided to move down to the half marathon at Utah Valley and was glad I did.

I have only run the half here once in 2010 and was pretty excited to do it again. I was also looking forward to seeing my friend and co-worker Cheralynn Dansie finish her first half marathon. We put together a little running group at work and I have been helping her train for the past few months, so by doing the half, I could see her finish.

The festivities actually began on Thursday night as a few of us got together for a pasta dinner at the Olive Garden. The race was on Saturday, but with a 2:15am wake up call on Saturday morning, we didn't want to go out on Friday.

Part of our 1-800 Contacts run group loading on pre-race carbs!

Saturday the alarm went off at 2;15am and I got dressed and met Cheralynn at our office at 3:15am for the 30 minute drive to Provo. This was Cher's first half and I didn't want her to be nervous about where to go and what to do race morning and we live close to each other, so it was perfect.

We made a plan to meet the other ladies from our running group at the bus by 4:00am, just in time to get the 4:15am bus to the start. Everyone was on time and we got on these nice coaches up Provo Canyon.

Me, Ashleigh, Deborah, Cheralynn and Rachael getting ready to board the bus to the start!

Cheralynn and I on the bus!

When we got to the start, it was pretty warm. We parked ourselves in front of one of the fire barrels that was full of cardboard. Once lit it burned quickly and that was it. No more fire. Luckily, we didn't really need it. We all just sat together talking and waiting to see the rest of the 1-800 Contacts team show up.

Selfie at the start!

Selfie with the girls! 

At 5:45am, I organized a team photo at the start (because that's what I do) and was happy to see so many 1-800 Contacts folks show up!

Some of our 1-800 Contacts half marathon runners!

Getting ready to start!

So great to see my friend Meridith racing again after her courageous fight with breast cancer! She is gorgeous inside and out! 

Promptly at 6:00am, the gun went off and so were we! The plan was for me to go easy. I didn't know if the dizziness would rear it's ugly head and I was doing a marathon in Denver the next day, so pushing it was not in my best interest, but I was feeling good and my own competition got the best of me I NEEDED a good race!

About 3 miles in I felt warmed up and I pushed the pace, not super fast, but not easy either. I was running well under BQ pace and just held it there while I still felt good.

I love the beauty of this course!

Bridal Veil Falls 

We left the canyon around mile 8 and it started getting warm. I could not believe how humid it was. While the rain took me out in Ogden, I was praying for a few sprinkles those last few miles. I started overheating, so I slowed down. I did not want to get dizzy!

In the last 2 miles there was a mister set up. It was like a gift from heaven! I ran through it and felt 100% better! It cooled me off just enough to get to the finish in 1:50:36, which was good enough for 3rd place in my age group!

After I finished, I headed back up the course to find Cheralynn and Rachel. It was really cool to see Deborah and Ashleigh come in too!

Deborah looking strong!

Ashleigh looking happy!

Right around the 25 mile marker I saw Cheralynn and Rachel! They were looking awesome! Cher was tired, but still smiling and they were keeping a very steady pace.

Go ladies go!

I ran with them all the way to the finish chute then peeled off before the timing mats (I didn't want to mess up my result by going over it twice).

Just before the finish!

It was so AWESOME to see Cheralynn achieve her goal! She put in the work and made it happen. I was super proud of her!! It was great to see her husband and daughter there for her too! 

Congratulations Cheralynn!!!

Finish pic!

Maniac sighting at the finish!

After the race, we went over to the 1-800 Contacts tent, where they had water, snacks and free massages for all their associates! It was awesome!

Me, Cheralynn, Deborah and Ashleigh celebrating at the 1-800 Contacts tent!

I hung out there until the awards ceremony, then had to get home, showered, packed and head to the airport for my marathon the next day!

Smiling on the podium!

In front of the 1-800 Contacts tent with my age group award!

I am so lucky to work at a company that cares so much about our heath and encourages us to live an active lifestyle! Thanks to 1-800 Contacts for sponsoring us and a special thanks to Katelyn Vidmar on our wellness team for leading this endeavor and embracing the idea of a running club!

We are not stopping here. All of our group want to keep running, so we are going to do just that!

I do need to give a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to my friend and fellow Marathon Maniac John Bozung! John completed his 400th Marathon that day! I was sad to miss him come in due to having to catch my flight, but John, YOU ARE AWESOME my friend! CONGRATULATIONS! I will be there for #500!