To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Take That, Big C!

When we last talked I had just finished my 25th half marathon, and final race of 2013. As I sit here typing this I am actually wearing my race shirt! Coincidentally, my awesome friend wore hers today, too! ;) It's super comfy and I shall be wearing it with pajama pants tonight as I watch all the countdown shows on TV with my favorite husband (Man Friend), and others at my mom's house. Tonight we celebrate my Grandpa's birthday with a fancy dinner and conversation. He's a New Year's baby and still a kid at heart. On Christmas morning (our 3rd Christmas get together of the season) we even got him to show up in his pajamas. I hope we make this a new tradition. Grown up pajama days are fun! Here's the birthday boy with his favorite daughter and favorite grandchild -- am I playing favorites? It's my blog, I get to assign things the way I want...besides, I'm named after him, of course I get to call myself the favorite!

 

At our second Christmas of the year we had the pleasure to have the company of MF's children (his daughter is also a Rae girl like my mom and I!). We are all very serious when we get together....


Sometimes we look normal, too...

I'm working on a pretty big project right now during my housewife hours, and I've been taking photos along the way. Once it's done I'll share a before/after post. I blame Pinterest! My house smells like paint right now. Boxes are all over the place. And then I try to USE the boxes - but I can't because my cats decided they own them. It hinders productivity!!!

And then finally, the Big C... I don't have to worry about kicking it's ass because, after my highly dramatic surgery earlier this month the doctor was successful in getting rid of all the precancerous cells. Woohoo!! Yesterday I finally got the 6 stitches removed and soon I get to check out my new scar. Until then I just get to see it this way (through photos that MF is kind enough to take for me) -->

Pretty, right?!?! I'll just say it again -- wear sunscreen! And cover up. I try my best to remember to wear my sunblock and it is rare that I am even out in a tank top. But I guess after years of just being a normal human and seeing sunlight I hit the jackpot by having some potentially bad cells. I get to go back in 6 months for another check-up, and you can bet I'll be buying even more sunblock once the sun decides it exists again!

So that's it for the year. Have a good evening everyone and .... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS!!!!!!!  *love of my life*

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eugene Holiday Half Marathon - Take Tew

Last year I ran the inaugural Eugene Holiday Half Marathon in less than favorable conditions. I wore THREE shirts, pants, knee socks, ear warmers, gloves and a hat. This year would not be the same.

About a month before the race I registered for this race due to the appeal of a long sleeve, hooded tech shirt and a new out and back path that avoided the mud show that was the last tenth of the inaugural race.  By the time race day came I was having concerns. There had been so much snow and ice in Eugene, would the race be miserable? Would the path even be clear?

The night before the race I had everything set out ready to easily put on and be on my way. The race didn't start until 10am so I didn't have to wake up any earlier than I do normally. I was up, dressed, fixing my breakfast for the hour drive to the race. I felt ready and kind of excited. You see, the roads were dry! It wasn't freezing when I stepped outside. I had a new Garmin on my wrist and I was ready to have a good final race of 2013.  My friend was doing the 5K so we were texting the whole way up, and I shared my joy at clear, blue skies over the race area. Yay!!

We arrived at Applebee's with plenty of time to use the warm bathrooms and get our bibs and shirts. In the car we relaxed and added our layers.... or did we? Sure, Man Friend had all of his - but did I?? My 26th half marathon... a half marathon in December in Oregon ... and what did I NOT have? My long-sleeve tech shirt. Oh. My. Gosh. I frantically tore through my bag and realized I had the hot pink short sleeve for my base layer on, and then post-race pants. No shirt. My shirt was an hour away on my couch. Ugh... So that long-sleeve shirt I ran this race for? Yeah, I had to run the race IN it. 


Soon it was time for pre-race photos and we went to the start area. It was already much warmer than last year so I ditched the ear warmers and gloves, what a relief!  At 10am the gun went off and we were on a 13.1 mile journey through a flat bike path on the west side of Eugene.  In that first mile we settled in to our "back of the pack" spot. I planned on having a "good" race until the great freeze out happened and I couldn't do any of my long runs for a few weeks. Oh well, I knew I'd still just make the best of it. At mile 2 I decided to Galloway it and do my run/walk intervals. When I'm not mentally into it that really helps because it mentally makes the time go by faster if I am just making myself run a certain distance before a little breather.

Mile 9, feeling great!
The weather was perfect! I actually got a little hot! The water stations were adequately supplied this year and each stop had a variety of gels to offer - we went home with 16 I think? Score! *FYI, Ragnar team -- I'll probably be bringing this to share since I am a Clif girl!  The course had a few out and back spots to it which I actually did enjoy. I was able to see that while I was at the back I was the THE very back. As a matter of fact, we consistently kept passing people with each mile. Except for one....

One woman we passed at the start ended up passing us. Her strange style of running made me not want her to beat me. I was confident we would pass her again. I wasn't, however, expecting to have a terrible Meniere's attack mid-race. The last couple of miles were so difficult I was almost in tears. It helped having my friend at the finish line texting me. And it helped having Man Friend at my side to hold me up when I actually had to run with my eye closed for a while to try to help the vertigo. I was on the verge of throwing up for the last 5K and feeling absolutely miserable. I'm telling you, Jeff Galloway knows his stuff -- all those people that had passed me at the start? I was miserable but sticking to my intervals and I ended up passing a lot in those last 2 miles. I resigned myself to the fact that that one woman I would not beat. Oh well.

Then I got to the Applebee's parking lot. I saw my friend her mom, gave them a wave and then focused on the ground for the last hair-pin turn. After that turn I looked up and there was that lady. This was my chance! With no signal to MF to keep up, I took off! I practice finishing sprints with every run for a reason. I blew by the woman like she was just standing still. Childish goal achieved!! He even said later, "You went from about to throw up to bullet speed with absolutely no warning!"

We got our medals, met up with my friend and enjoyed some post-race water and bit of a bagel. With my medal around my neck I was pretty happy to put an end to a pretty lackluster 2013 race year - aside from my Goofy and Dumbo weekends of course! As far as a holiday race goes, the weather was just beautiful and the volunteers were very friendly and positive. I have no complaints!



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Story of Non-Training

Once up on a time I was super excited to train for the Southern California Ragnar Relay. It is not forgotten that it is less than 4 months away. That might sound long, but when you've never stayed up for so many hours in a row, you have to get airline travel taken care of, figure out vans, decide on your race attire, etc.... that's not a whole heck of a lot of time. Plus, perhaps one should, Oh, I don't know ... train?!?!

I was on a roll. I have my entire plan written out on a calendar. I had been having some really great runs. My pace is non-existent, but I've been able to run without walk breaks and have noticed my pace picking back up. I really think that before long I'll be back to where I'd like to be for the race. But it's hard to improve ... when you are being a big, fat weenie!

On Cyber Monday I prepared myself for Ragnar... I ordered our reflective vests for the night portion of the race; I ordered a charger for my phone and Garmin so I won't have to be without technology in the van; I even got a new, smaller, simpler Garmin! On paper I am prepared! But what also happened across the entire US except for Florida? Oh yeah, that storm.  Sure, I could have braved it and tried to run in the snow -- but what it?!? WHAT IF I tried to run, slipped and broke myself. How is that helping my training?

And for a week I looked outside longingly. I went out every day to touch the snow and look at my yard completely covered in white. Heck, at work the first day of the snow I even paused to take care of very important business....


Clearly I have no problem with snow! It turns me into a kid and I HAVE to touch it. I HAVE to get IN it. My dog is just like me. During the great snow of 2013 she was wanting to go outside constantly. I think she just likes making fresh paw tracks all over the place.

But now the snow is gone and tonight I get to run with my new Garmin -- Forerunner 10 for those of you that are curious. I've been using the 305 for the past 4 years, I was ready for a change.

Minus the bandages that had been over it.
Also keeping me from running one night at the end of the snow was my surgery. That's right ... SURGERY! Oh yes, it was very dramatic! It was! I saw blood, dammit, there was blood!!  A couple of summers ago I was at the golf course and noticed a spot between my toes. I kept watching this spot grow but didn't go to the doctor since I was busy running so much and training for back to back marathons. This year I sucked it up and showed my doctor. She sent me to the dermatologist who removed said spot and another on my back. I got the call that the spot on my toe was nothing, but I had to go back for "a 30 minute surgery" on my back. I swear they said "30 minute surgery" 4 times during that phone call. Talk about freaking me out!!

So last week I took my grown-up self back to the dermatologist and had to lay face down on his table, my head on a pillow and fully clothed. Woohoo! My biggest worry was having to strip down. Fortunately we were able to just move my shirt aside to expose my shoulder (I thought ahead with that outfit choice!). We talked the whole time I was under the knife. Thank goodness for the numbing stuff because I didn't really feel anything until he put the stitches in. It was a little disconcerting to hear him say CANCER multiple times throughout the surgery, but he has a point .. better to remove precancerous cells than ignore it and actually develop something. So from this I get a new scar to add to my collection! Man Friend had to help me change the bandage this week, so he snapped a photo and counted ...4 stitches! 35 years old and I finally got some stitches. The pain part is gone, unless I bump it. Now it is just itching. I still have 2 weeks before I go back to have it looked at and the stitches removed... so for 2 more weeks I shall remind my mom and husband over and over how I had SURGERY!

And with that .... wear your sunscreen and don't ignore any spots, you never know!!! And also, if you do end up having your shoulder hacked into, Victoria's Secret has lovely racer-back bras available!

Exploring Neon in the Desert


Hello there! It's been a while, and so much is going on, so I thought I'd have a little flashback post to October in Las Vegas!


For this most recent trip to Vegas I wanted us to add in things we hadn't done before. The one thing that was on our MUST DO list was visiting the Neon Museum. I love all the lights on the strip, I love the history and nostalgia of old Vegas, I love a chance to see something "new" and take tons of photos... the Neon Museum met all of this desires!

We happened to be there on the 1 year anniversary of it's opening in the current location with the La Concha Motel lobby as the main hub. It totally reminds me of Men in Black, yes? no? Before the tour I wandered around taking photos off the less glamorous part of Las Vegas Boulevard. I recall things like bullet holes and bars over doors and windows of empty buildings. BUT they had the awesome Neon Museum sign that just summarizes all things I love about Vegas!

The gift shop had cut merchandise, which I ended up buying after our tour, and some videos and pictures talking about the history of the signs. We noticed that we were one of only a few Americans on the tour - so apparently Europeans like this kitschy history, too!

Right on time we were off on our tour through this open air museum in the desert. It might have been late October, for but for this Oregonian it got pretty toasty! Throughout the tour nearly everyone was sneaking a pause break in the shade of the neon signs.  

The signs were so cool. It was like stepping into the old vintage photographs I love to look at. Hotels with well-known names, small motels that have been gone for ages, wedding chapels... everything with a sign, we saw it! The tour weaves through the signs, pausing every few paces to give history, quiz you on your trivia knowledge (we did pretty awesome at it!), pointing out photo stops and answering questions. At a wedding chapel sign we were the only couple to raise their hands when asked if anyone had gotten married in Las Vegas! A bonus for the trivia was my knowing that I was married in the same place (new hotel, same location) as Elvis and Priscilla Presley!

It costs only $18 for the standard Neon Museum tour, $12 for those of us with military ID, and is really worth the value. I mean $18 for an hour of history and entertainment (well, I found it entertaining!) in Las Vegas? That's a win in my book! They also offer night tours where you can see some of the signs lit up as intended. For photography fans you can book time for photo shoots as well. I took an obscene number of photos and was able to do it without getting other people in the shots, so really you don't have to go out of your way to book something special if you are wanting to see it all and get pictures.

Our tour guide was great! He answered questions and had such passion for his job that it really rubbed off on all of us. I highly recommend stepping away from the heart of the Strip and visiting the museum next time you are in town!

Now a couple more photos and I'll send you on your way!


The R -- I made it a point to photograph every R I found! *And yes, I was risque with my see through shirt and animal print "bralette". Viva Las Vegas!

The hotel/casino with the biggest presence in the boneyard ... Stardust.

Looking back at one of the rows of signs.

The happy Las Vegas newlyweds!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Officially Ready For Ragnar

As they say in the Haunted Mansion, "There's NO turning back now!" I am officially in for my first ever Rangar Relay. I say First because I'm hoping it is so much fun that I do it again!


Last night was another training run, which, despite the freezing temperatures, was really good! I covered a few hills and managed to again not walk at all. Awesome! It's such a nice change to run in cold weather again instead of melting and sweating in the first tenth of a mile. I did get annoyed at my old junior high school when some really cool 12 year old called us joggers. Perhaps I'm not meant to be a mom since my first instinct was to want to kick his 7th grade ass for calling me a jogger. F--- you, kid!

I love seeing the leaves changing colors and falling. The runner in me, however, isn't as thrilled when trying to run in the dark. Those suckers get rather slippery and the last thing I need is to fall and break myself. Most of my training will be in the dark, so last night was good practice for our potential Ragnar night legs. I had on a headlamp, light on the back of my head and flashing lights on my arms. Either I'm being safe or making myself a really fun target! Also I realized that I was in complete winter gear. You'd think I was running in snow. My skirt/pants combo was the thickest, warmest one from Skirt Sports while my shirt was my thickest, warmest shirt. I felt nice and toasty! I even had my ears covered. It's only November. Remember it was November that I was running in Arizona and melting?!?! 

In other news, did you see Charles Manson is possibly getting married to a 25 year old that he has named Star? She's been a fan and following his writing for 6 years. She moved to be closer to his prison. Good lord. Her poor parents.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fins Up For THE Coolest Man EVER

Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett.

Need I say more? He's not just a man, not just a singer, not just a songwriter. He's a way of life!

Let me tell you about my adventure trying to get to see Mr. Buffett last month.  I set my alarm for 1:45am. I shouldn't have done the iPhone update as I was falling asleep. Due to said update my alarm never went off. I woke up at 3:30am. My flight, an hours drive north, took off at 5:15am. I threw it into overdrive, took the fastest shower ever, put on my clothes that I had already set out and jumped in the car. The bonus of driving so early in the morning is minimal traffic! We pulled into the Eugene airport and I did a tuck and roll move, jumping out of the car and running to the ticket counter. Panting, I asked if I would make it to the plane. As the VERY nice girl pulled us up I joked about how you should not do a phone update the night before a flight and noted that I had woken up at 3:30. They were pretty impressed and she made an exception to let us still be on that flight. Man Friend came running from the parking lot carrying our suitcase and carry-on. Someone had to come get our bag to make sure it was on the plane. We hurried to security and a few people, when hearing our names being called over the loudspeaker, let us pass them. I took off my shoes and jacket, dumped everything on MF and slipped in to the metal detector. From there I ran barefoot through the airport to the gate. 3 minutes. We had 3 minutes to get MF through security and onto the plane. I ran back, grabbed him and our things and we ran back to the plane. Our carry-on was tossed onto the cart to go under the plane and, still panting, we climbed the steps into the 5:15am departing plane! I want some sort of award for pulling this off!  The joke was on the entire plane when we sat there for over an hour and fifteen minutes due to technical difficulties.  All but 2 passengers had to be rerouted to get to our final destinations. We got to Portland and immediately were put onto a plane to Seattle. I did my make-up in that plane and fortunately had found my hairbrush earlier so I did at least have my hair brushed the entire day. From Seattle we flew to Las Vegas and only arrived 2 and a half hours later than we were supposed to.


Fins to the left, Fins to the right....
Once in Vegas it was Parrothead central! We Parrotheads were everywhere! I dropped my bags off at the Flamingo Hilton (where I stayed since it is attached to Margaritaville!) and went straight to, you guessed it, Margaritaville! You could barely walk through anywhere due to the mass amount of older folks in their beachy attire. Crazy hats, hula skirts, coconut bras -- we Parrotheads know how to do it!  Eventually we checked into our room and transformed from weary-eyed travelers to a sailor girl and her escort!  Last time I saw Jimmy I went with the coconut bra/sarong/flower in my hair look, so this time I channeled Son of a Son of a Sailor and brought out MF's authentic adorable Navy hat. *I'm sure he loves that I call his uniform "adorable".

The concert was at the MGM Grand Garden Area, which wasn't as big as one would think. Oregonians, it's way smaller than the Rose Garden! This smaller size was good for me, made me feel a bit closer than I expected to be! I got my concert shirt and then excitedly went to my seat. We were by the coolest group from Texas that really knew how to party! 

As expected, the concert was AWESOME!! It was one of those where people singing along didn't annoy you - because if you weren't singing and dancing then you just looked like a freak that didn't belong. A Jimmy Buffett concert is one huge party! Pirates, sailors, rum, cheeseburgers, margaritas .... I'm not sure what isn't to love?!?!

I'm thinking this might turn into a tradition - Vegas + Jimmy = Perfection!
  
Even Caesar was a Parrothead - I bet you didn't know that! 


And now I will share a video with you. Everybody knows Margaritaville, right?!?!?, but I'm actually a HUGE fan of his ballads. Whenever I have a baby, the first song he/she hears will be one of my top slow Jimmy songs! And so here is one of them. 1:12 in still gives me chills ... A Pirate Looks At Forty.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ragnar Training Begins

It's been a quiet year. Not really, it's been freaking busy - so busy that my blog has been quiet!  I planned a wedding with a reception 2 weeks later, I got married, I ran a few BIG races back to back, I quit half of my job, I traveled a lot. What I haven't done is run religiously. This was on purpose. Last year I trained hard for my first marathon, quickly followed by my second one as part of Goofy weekend. Once it was done I vowed to essentially give myself a rest year, running races whenever I felt like it, but not dedicating my calendar to scheduling runs.  My hibernation has come to an end!

Yesterday I planned out my next 4 and a half months as I prepare for my first Ragnar Relay. I keep trying to type ranger instead of Ragnar. I'm getting on my own nerves. As I type I am saying, in my head, Ragnar, but my fingers want to type ranger. ANYWAY!  I looked at the training plans on the Ragnar site. They offer beginner and intermediate. Um, excuse me? I've done tons of races and don't consider myself a beginner. I also don't consider myself advanced. I always figured I'd be intermediate. Clearly, according to their training, I am nowhere near intermediate! So I spent a lot of time talking with Man Friend and doing math to make sure it is a small increase every week, and I've created a blend of beginner and intermediate training. I'm pretty darn excited!

I'll be running 5 days a week, giving myself a rest before and after my Saturday long run. I'm looking forward to hill training and speed work, as well as the days when we run 2 or 3 times in one day. Having a big goal race is just what I needed to help me put an end to my rest year. I love the fact that I am part of team. Knowing 11 other people will be depending on me gives me extra motivation to not slack and to really focus.

So last night was my first run. I hadn't run a single beat in exactly 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS! That's a long time to not run at all. I figured it was going to be painful and that I'd want to walk it all. Um, yeah - it felt awesome!! I ran every single step of the way and never once thought of whining. While my pace is slower than when in training, it wasn't as slow as I thought it would be. I have a goal range I want to get to by the time Ragnar is here, and if last night is any indication of my current fitness level, I think I will be able to achieve that pace!

Expect to see more posts of running and training, as I like to keep my blog as a way to hold myself accountable to myself! And that's all for today. I shall now spice this up with random photos from my computer!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

RRRRRRRRRRRR

R.  This one letteR is Running thRough my mind, and not just because it is two-thiRds of my initials.

Two mornings ago I was getting ready for work, otherwise read as "I was hurrying to throw on make-up and brush my teeth so I could grab my brush to fix my hair in the car on the way to work." *I carpool with my mom, that day I was the hair brushing passenger. My phone had a message pop up and it was a name I don't often see pop up on my screen. Hmm, "what's up?" I wondered. I finished brushing my hair - did you know I actually use a brush for HORSES on my hair instead of a regular one you'd find in a normal store? Yep! I have A LOT of hair! - and then grabbed my phone to see what CaRRie had to say.

I did a double take at it. Could it be? Was she really asking what I thought? Hmmmm!

I calmly said to my mom, "I just got invited to do a race."  Simple. Flat. No big deal. 

Around an hour later I texted Man Friend as said, "Hey, my friend just invited us to join her Ragnar team!"

And that's when things changed. I had suppressed my excited, but once I typed RAGNAR the giddy feeling came exploding. I was trying toooo hard to just stay calm and collected about it, but that only lasted less than an hour.  It was only a week and a couple days ago that MF and I were talking to the Ragnar people and then trying to convince Tara that we should all do the Arizona Ragnar sometime. But even at that point in Arizona it was a "some day" kind of conversation.  But suddenly "some day" was today!!!

I checked the dates and realized, holy cow!, we are far enough out for me to get time off of work, plan and actually train! Once I saw it was in April I knew I was going to be telling her yes. I tried so hard to convince myself to wait until MF was home from work so we could discuss it. But I also knew that MF was so badly wanting to do a huge relay, so I knew his answer.  And so it is!

The slacker that has essentially taken 2013 off from serious running and training is throwing herself back into training mode to prepare for the So Cal RagnaRRRRR RRRRRelay!!!! Woo hoo!!!  Thank you, Carrie!

So now what do my days consist of? Working four hours at a normal job, coming home, and then trying to not constantly google all things Ragnar while painting my spare room and doing my housewifery things. I already have a Ragnar binder with every single leg printed, the race Bible printed, and calendars to prepare my training plan. I am so ready!!

The birthday girl in front stinking out her tongue... that's me.  The girl next to me in glasses ... that's Carrie. Would I have ever thought these two flute players would be running a crazy 200ish mile relay together? Hell no!
*Side note, I just realized that 4 of the 6 six girls all played the flute, the other 2 played the clarinet. Woodwinds are just too cool.
One final note, for the non-runners that may stumble upon this ... Ragnar is a 200ish mile relay (like Hood to Coast). 12 runners split into 2 vans. Each person runs 3 legs. It goes non-stop until you are done. Sleep? Psh. Stink? Uh, yeah. We're gonna stink. Is it going to be awesome? YES!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My First DNF!

2 marathons. 25 half marathons. Add in 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, and more .... all of these races have something in common.... I finished!  So imagine my dismay when on a Friday night in Arizona I had my first ever DNF!

Seeing as I was in the Phoenix area and that's where Tara lives, it was only natural we meet up for a mini-Team Freedom reunion. I was so excited when she sent the text message suggestion .... go karts!!  It sounded so fun! I had driven one once back in college, and I know how to drive a car. Of course I could handle this!

Man Friend and I got to the go kart place early to order some dinner and watch sports while waiting for Tara and her son to arrive. They appeared and signed up for 2 junior races due to her sons age. "Junior" races sound perfect to me! I threw on my closed toe shoes, signed my life away, tossed my purse in a locker, threw on some strange medieval looking head cover, found a helmet and jumped into car #21! Let's do this, let's race!!!

Only 4 of us were racing... in order of our line up, Tara's son, Tara, myself and Man Friend. I got in the kart and had to figure out how to buckle my seat belt. Clearly I know how to buckle, but I couldn't see where it went because of this huge helmet. And also I couldn't hear, because of said helmet. I was immediately panicked when I realized I have no idea how to drive a go kart! Why is mine in the OFF position? How do I make it go? How do I make it stop???  After a quick introductory video I was still petrified, but determined to be awesome!

Tara, about to dominate ... and myself ... clueless!!
The first lap was at half speed and we weren't allowed to pass. It was the warm up.  Man Friend was right behind me and can attest that on that first sharp turn I was cranking the wheel and NOT turning .... this did NOT help me feel great about my chances of winning!  By the time I finished the first lap Tara and her kid were already racing! I floored it and almost crashed. Man Friend passed me on the first corner.  Oh. Great.

I'm not sure I even made it one lap before I was passed by our youngest racer. I laughed it off. Next thing I know Tara passed me. Every lap I finished the kid working at the track was laughing at me. I was laughing at me! We ALL were laughing at me! I got lapped by everyone not once ... TWICE!!!  The race was over and I was ushered into the parking area. As fast as I was in the car I was back out of the car on safe land. We looked up at our results .... I did 8 laps. How many laps in a race? 10. I didn't even get to finish the race!!!


That was my one and only attempt. We hung out waiting for Tara's next round and while doing so MF talked to the guys running the place. He learned that our max speed was 25 mph and that while I WAS putting my pedal to the metal I wasn't going 25 mph. And why?? Because they lowered my speed ... for my safety!! They were concerned!  I could have died from embarrassment if I wasn't so busy laughing at myself!

No spot for me on the podium

Tara kicking ass in the final race.... rubbin' is racin'!


Scottsdale Women's Half Marathon


My trip to Arizona was very spur of the moment. My registration for the Women's Running Series half marathon in Scottsdale was even more spontaneous! With zero preparation and no thought I registered Man Friend and I (he was 1 of 50 dudes!) for my first ever race in Arizona. Friday we hit up the expo and discovered the nuances of driving in Arizona compared to Oregon -- hello legal u-turns! The expo was much bigger than I expected, and I admit I was disappointed in the race specific merchandise and walked away purchasing none of it. I did, however, get a free Ragnar shirt, some blotting sheets and a new skirt - so not a loss. OMG, they let men run ... but they also get the women's hot pink shirts. MF put his on and it was hilarious!! While at the race we also set some goals, as seen in the photo. What I didn't prepare for?? Altitude. Silly me, I figured I was in the desert and it must be low elevation. I was wrong. I realized that day I would be running at an altitude 3 times higher than what I run in. Oops.


I spent Saturday night with Tara, Team Freedom!!!, so we would be close to the start. At 5 am we were finally parked at Sun Devil Stadium and getting on a bus to the start line. We arrived and it was dark, and only slightly chilly for us Oregonians. We wandered around the start area and realized we were at City Hall! Oh how fancy it all was. The courtyards had ponds, fountains, art work, all sorts of things! We also stumbled upon some very nice public restrooms ... with lights, running water and NO lines. Score!! As the sun started to slowly rise we made our way back to the crowd a woman behind me said, "Looking good in your skirt!" I turned to see the longest legs ever. I looked up and it was the creator of my skirt! "Thanks, you too!" I said. As she left I said, "she's totally going to place, if not win!" She got 3rd.

The race began at 7 am. I was corral 3, but since I am married to a man, he was put in the last corral with nearly every other man. Naturally I started with him, which was the first time I was ever at the very back to start - usually my slow running just gets me there anyway! And off we went! Initially we did pass a lot of people because really, we were put back with runners much slower than my natural pace. But once we got through that first mile it seemed everybody had spread out and we were with the same runners for the remainder of the race. That first mile was so cute, too! We ran through Old Town Scottsdale and it was just adorable, I wish we had some place at home even half as quaint and appealing!


Seeing as I can't be completely serious in an untrained for race, it felt old fitting that someone in the second mile Man Friend stopped to shop.... He got the attention of fellow runners with this one ... I told them it was the only way I could get him to join me in a girl race!  So running plan talk -- I decided to Galloway it and do intervals so I could run and then walk to get my breath. I kid you not, for the rest of the day and the next my lungs were feeling it. Had I realized I was running at a much higher elevation I may not have spontaneously signed up. My body was fine, but trying to find air was my big challenge that day. It was my last day and last race in the 30-34 age group, so I decided to not care at all about time and just enjoy the scenery and being in a new place. 


I really liked the course. If it was set in Oregon I'd have loved it even more. The "hills" were non-existent compared to our every day runs, so that was a bonus on my legs.  My favorite part was along this canal that actually had water. It wasn't just some desert mirage! Plus it was a trail and felt great to run on. It was fairly long and I was disappointed to get off of it and back onto the road. Across the water we saw some mountain type things and this strange pyramid. Later I found out it was the tomb of a 7 time mayor, his wife and family ... thank you Roadside Attractions app!  Shortly after the trail we had caught up to the 3 hour pacer. I was determined to not let her beat me. If so then clearly I was waaaay out of shape and didn't belong running. **She did not finish before me!  As soon as we passed her we stopped for our 2nd potty break of the race. Hey - we were hydrated! Back on the road, we quickly passed her again and for the rest of the race I just made sure to never see or hear here anywhere near me.

This picture summarizes how I felt for most of the race .... hot. I saw so many people in long sleeves and some in pants. Some in both.... I was all sweaty in my shirt and skirt. I was so warm, for the first time ever, I ran this race without my knee high compression socks! This picture also shows the one negative ... we were crossing this bridge and just on the other side is the finish line. The downside is we were only 8 miles into the race. We had to pass the during a long out and back, watching the fast runners come flying toward us on their way to the finish line.  But soon enough it was our turn. I fully admit by the last couple of miles I was not doing too well. I had tweaked my ankle at some point so I was pretending to not be in pain while gasping for air. I just really missed Oregon!! I focused in and once the finish was in sight I gave myself a strong finish and happily received my medal from a young Air Force boy. I swear I could have been his mom!


The finish area had a lot to offer in terms of food and drinks. I got my HUGE, HEAVY medal, stopped for photos and soaked up the atmosphere before the mile plus walk back to the car. Best post-race food? In-n-Out French fries. I felt it appropriate to stop there at least once on the trip!

Final thoughts ... would I do this again? Totally! I'd probably actually, oh, I don't know ... train?!?! And maybe not just sign up at the last possible moment so I could get my name on my bib. Would I choose the 5 am bus again? No. What the heck was I thinking with that option?? Definitely a fun and non-intimidating event .... and thankfully not an abundance of tutus for me to bitch about. Hallelujah! I'll end with a couple of "official" photos.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crying Through Michael Jackson .... AGAIN

Time for some Vegas posts! I guess it was a couple weeks ago now that I was in Vegas. Quite frankly I've done so much flying and driving and was in 6 states in a matter of days ... so my brain and time frames are frazzled! Anyway - Viva Las Vegas! And Viva Michael Jackson!

Our second night in Las Vegas I had tickets for us to the new Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson ONE. In 2011 I was at the opening show of the earlier MJ Cirque show Immortal, and loved it, so I knew I HAD to go see this next version. For Michael Jackson fans (isn't that the whole world?!?!) it is a "permanent" show at Mandalay Bay, so you have time to get yourself down to see it!


Earlier in the day we had picked up our tickets at will-call and visited the gift store. I like to play the "guess the price" game and this store just threw me for a loop. Expensive looking things were "cheap" and things you'd think were an okay price ended up being outrageous. I ended up only getting my pin and souvenir program, as per usual. Had they been selling a CD of the show I'd have gotten that, but they don't. *Hint, hint, Cirque people. Later in the evening we were dressed up and ready for a wonderful night out set to the best music I know! *Aside from Jimmy Buffett, of course.


Getting to the theater was quite easy and the crowd size wasn't as crazy as at Immortal so right there I was pretty happy; I don't need chaos! Michael Jackson music filled the lobby areas and got me into the mood and wanting to dance! Of course we couldn't pass up the official photo stop on the way in...

Although I picked the next to cheapest seats (and nowhere near cheap!) we still had great seats and an excellent view. We were in the center, but I imagine all seats provide a great view. Once in our seats my annoyance began. The ushers were helping everyone get to the seats ... except for one. This large man just stood there staring at us all. He almost had a mean glare and was just waiting for someone to do something that he could jump on them about. I felt like some kid sitting in time out even though I was just sitting with my husband waiting for the show. Once the show began did he move? NO!!! All of us were trying to see around him and eventually he did move... but not for good. Throughout the first songs he kept going and standing just staring at the crowd and glaring. At one point someone took a photo. He shined a light in their face and said "1 more and you are out!" with very aggressive hand gestures. Asshole. During the show a woman in front of us left. Upon her return her shined his light right in MY eyes and again had that mean body language. He got a nasty look back and the woman went to HER row in front of us. That guy was pretty distracting and I wish he wasn't there. I blocked him out most of the time to focus on the show....


I'm not talking about the show on purpose. It was so great, I don't want to ruin anything! I got chills at the very beginning and it stayed throughout.  As tradition shows, once they slowed the music down and played little Michael -- hello, tears! I thought I was going to be fine after my mid-show cry... but I was wrong.  Smooth Criminal ... awesome! Billie Jean .... freaking awesome! Thriller ..... WOW!! SO FREAKING AWESOME!! And there was Man in the Mirror. One of my all-time favorite songs and a part of the show that gave me goosebumps now just thinking about it. I cried through the entire thing. Please, go see this so we can talk about it!


It was an incredible show. Some might say it was amazing! Incredible stunts, effects that I still can't figure out how they did them, dancing, music, a story line... they really did bring Michael Jackson to life right before my eyes! I would definitely go to this again, so now I'm begging you to go - and take me with you! *and remind me to bring Kleenex!!!