Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Anatomy of a Marathon

At the Start Line
I was ready. I was excited.  All the time, all the training, all the carbo-loading, all the fast-food and sugar avoiding, all the alcohol avoiding – all came together on Sunday, November 12, at 4:41 PM when I crossed the start line of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon.  At age 61½, I was running my first ever full marathon.  One more bucket list item to check off!

Sue and I used Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run strategy for our first marathon.  We worried that we would be much slower than the 5 hour maximum finish time the race had implemented, but race-day adrenalin had us pacing our running periods much faster than we had trained.  No sag wagons for us!  For most of the race, we were pacing 10:46 minute miles – even with the walk breaks!  We thoroughly enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the race, taking water when it coincided with a walk break, chatting, and thanking the police officers on every corner. 

With respect to all you ultra-runners and tri-athletes out there, the marathon is a grueling race that truly tests your body, your mind, and your strengths to their limits.  It seemed that, for this race, my limit was 21 miles.  At about the 21 mile mark, the notorious abdominal cramp hit, and it seemed the only part of my body that wanted to function was my lower digestive system – if you get what I mean.  Thankfully, the section of the race we were in at the time wound back and forth around a real bathroom! 

All done!
I thought I had a good nutrition plan, but my body had other ideas.  First off, pre-race jitters had me seriously limiting my food intake the few hours before the race.  And then, once on the course, after I hit the 21 mile mark, I couldn’t swallow the Clif Bloks that I dutifully tried to eat.  It was like my body was telling me, “I know you need food but I’m not going to let you have it.  Mwah ha ha ha ha!”  I drank Gatorade at the final two aid stations, but I wasn’t able to ingest solids until the next day.

I walked the last 3 ½ - 4 miles of the marathon.  Sue stayed with me.  When the Finish line was in sight, we decided to run it in.  Two steps and my left leg cramped up.  Yikes!  It took nearly four minutes for the cramp to ease so I could walk – yes, sadly I had to walk across the Finish line.  I know it was four minutes because that’s the difference between my finish time and Sue’s. 

I finished my first full marathon in 5 hours, 7 minutes, and 49 seconds.  Over the race time limit to be sure, but I finished under my own power and completed the full 26.2 miles.

So after all this, will I run another marathon?  Absolutely!  I’ll have to train better, and I’ll have to find a better nutrition plan, but now that I know what to fix, I can’t not fix it and try again.  New bucket list item:  finish a marathon in under 5 hours!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I'm a Believer

My marathon buddy has had some nagging injuries these last few months, but being the competitive runner that she is, she’s not giving up the marathon.  She did a little bit of research into the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method, and decided to try it.   She told me about a few of the benefits of the Run Walk Run method, which I’ve captured here directly from Mr. Galloway’s web site,

Principles behind Run Walk Run
• Continuous use of a muscle will result in quicker fatigue
• The longer the run segment, the more fatigue
• Run Walk Run is a form of interval training
• Conservation of resources
• Quicker recovery
• Less stress on the “weak links”
• Ability to enjoy endorphins
• Reduce core body temperature

Walk breaks
• Speed you up: an average of 7 minutes faster in a 13.1 mile race when non-stop runners shift to the correct Run Walk Run ratio – and more than 13 minutes faster in the marathon
• Give you control over the way you feel during and after
• Erase fatigue
• Push back your wall of exhaustion or soreness
• Allow for endorphins to collect during each walk break
• Break up the distance into manageable units
• Speed recovery
• Reduce the chance of aches, pains and injury
• Allow older or heavier runners to recover fast, and feel as good as in the younger (slimmer) days
• Activate the frontal lobe – maintaining your control over attitude and motivation

Well, what’s not to like?  Especially considering that, in the long run (literally) you won’t lose that much time.  I tried it on a 20 mile run, and am thrilled with the results.  In previous long runs where I pretty much ran continuously, walking only to fuel, I ended up with about an 11 minute mile pace.  On my 20 miler, I ran four minutes and walked one.  For the first 10 miles my average pace was 10:12.  As the miles wore on I did find myself both running more slowly and walking more slowly, but even then the overall pace for the 20 miles was 10:58!  And while I was still quite tired after the run, I wasn’t sore. 

I’m a believer!  Thank you, Jeff Galloway!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

All In

Into each runner’s life there comes a decision point:  to go for it – or not to go for it.   It, of course, is the marathon.  The holy grail of running.  Twenty six point two miles.  Sue and I have decided to go for it.  We chose the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Marathon because, to quote Sue, “it’s low and flat.”  It’s also later in the year – and at night – so heat won’t be a factor in making it through all those miles.

Actually, the decision was made several months ago, but in the last few months it’s become real.  The training is getting harder – and definitely more time consuming.  “Honey, I’m going for a run.  Be back in four hours.”  Not only are the long runs getting longer, but the short runs are also getting longer. 

The long miles are exhausting.  When I come in from a long run all I want to do is sleep.  I guess it’s a good thing that the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Marathon is held at night.  When I get it in will be way past my bedtime. 

The long miles also take a toll on one’s legs and feet.  Think about it.  The average person takes 2000 steps per mile.  That’s – drum roll, please – 52,000 steps in the marathon.  Fifty-two-thousand times my feet will hit the pavement.  Training at 20 – 30 miles a week, well, you can do the math.  Whew!  No wonder I’ve worn out a pair of shoes in only 5 months.

We got a bit of a scare after the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. 
Our hearts go out to the victims of this needless tragedy, and our hearts are all in for Las Vegas.  We will be there to support the city – just as runners returned to Boston after the bombings.  After all, if training for a marathon doesn’t scare you – what will?  #VegasStrong.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mother of the Bride

OK, I know most normal people have their children get married well before they retire.  But since when have we ever been normal?

Our daughter was married last weekend at the Homestead Resort in Midway.  I confess – having a big party was my idea.  We have only one daughter, and she’s having only one wedding (at least, only one that we’re paying for), and we’d had the money saved for over 20 years, so why not?

As soon as the engagement ring was on her finger, we began planning.  About three weeks into checking into venues, we decided that we were in the wrong business.  Weddings are quite pricey – particularly if you want the venue to do most of the work, which we did.  We settled on the Homestead because the price was reasonable, the location beautiful, and the wedding planner, Jamie, was both personable and extremely well organized. 

Then it was time to pick a dress.  We visited several bridal shops and found just the perfect one.  I tried on a couple of dresses as well.  Good thing I didn’t buy one because they were a lot more formal than the wedding turned out to be.

Our daughter did most of the planning and arranging for the rest of the details.  With her Excel spreadsheet in hand, she showed us the plans for decorations.  She hired a photographer and a Photo Bus for the reception.  The spreadsheet details were pretty much between her and her dad. 

I got to do the good stuff.  I attended one of the four bridal showers she was given.  We got pedicures together so our toenails would match at the wedding. I spent the night before the wedding with her at the Homestead, where we went through the last minute details and then just relaxed.  It was all taken care of.

On the day of the wedding, I was a permanent fixture in the Bride’s Room.  We both got our makeup done, which was somewhat amusing.  Not only had I never worn false eyelashes, I had never used an eyelash curler!  Everyone laughed.  We drank champagne.  I helped her with her dress.  And from the time she walked down the aisle to the final sendoff, everything was perfect.  Even the following day’s “trash the dress” event, where she and her new husband jumped into the Homestead Crater – in their wedding attire – was beautiful and fun.

The most amazing thing for me to witness was all the support she received from her friends and co-workers.  Her former roommate did our makeup.  Her current supervisor did her hair.  Her close friends prepared a book for her to open the day of the wedding, and were all there in the Bride’s Room drinking champagne with us.  A sorority sister did all the decorating.  Several of her sorority sisters came to the reception, each bringing her a red rose.  Nearly everyone we invited came. She is well loved by her family and friends, and of course, by her new husband.  

Congratulations to the newlyweds from the overflowing heart of the mother of the bride.

By the way, did you know it costs $70 to dry clean a wedding dress?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Karma and the ATV Adventure

Grassy Lake
Last Sunday’s ATV ride was a little more adventure than we bargained for.  The abundant rainfall in July made for some serious mud along the Arapeen OHV Trails.  On Friday’s ride we pulled a two-wheel-drive truck out of a muddy rut on Skyline Drive – the main road.  When we arrived, he was elbow-deep in mud trying to put down enough rocks to get himself out.  We learned that his name was Jim, that he’d been there all night, and that it had rained – again – at around midnight.  We hooked up his tow strap and pulled him out forward.  That was a sign.

On Saturday, we came across a fallen tree – right across the main road out of camp.  Again – armed with a tow strap and with the help of several riders on the other side of the tree, we dragged it off to the side, clearing the road.  That was a sign.

But ever optimistically ignoring the signs, we set out on Sunday on a long ride down Reeder Canyon to Joe’s Valley Reservoir, then taking the Potter’s Pond road back.

Reeder Canyon was actually in good shape.  There were a few muddy spots but nothing too deep or treacherous.  Several riders coming up the canyon assured us the road was completely passable.  And it was.  We reached the end of the road.  We saw Joe’s Valley Reservoir in the distance.  And we could not find the road to get us there. 

Nor could we find the road to take us north to Potter’s Pond.  Of course, the map was back in the trailer, and our GPS was less than helpful.  The one helpful way point it gave us was Grassy Lake.  We’d been near Grassy Lake, so we were sure we could find our way back from there. 

Off we went on a fairly major road, and soon enough we were at the turnoff to Grassy Lake.  We were sure that the road we wanted was just north, but hey, why not go check out the lake?  After a short stop, we headed back the way we’d come and proceeded to follow the road.  We realized we weren’t where we thought we were about ½ hour after we’d left the lake, but knew the road we were on took us to Skyline Drive.  We could make it back from there.

Or could we?  As we made the northbound turn on the ridge, we saw it.  Couldn’t miss it.  It was a snowdrift all the way across the road.  There was no way we were getting across it.  We had to find another way.  So we turned around and headed down a very rocky trail we’d been on before that we knew would get us back to Reeder Canyon.  At the bottom of the trail, we ran into some serious mud. 

Clouds about to burst
We knew we had to cross it – there was no other way.  So we plowed through and found ourselves at a 45 degree angle with the front wheels spinning.  Thankfully we were able to back out.  There was another fork.  The mud was just as deep but the steep section was on the downhill.  I hopped off to lessen the weight on the ATV, and Paul drove across.  I found a way across through the trees, avoiding the deep mud, and we were off.

Shortly after the mud we found the Reeder Canyon trail.  As we headed up, it started to rain. Then it started to pour.  Thank goodness for helmets and windbreakers.  As we finally pulled into camp, nearly 8 hours after we left, the sun was peeking out and we knew we were safe.

So where does karma come in?  I’ve always believed that good begets good, and in this case I’m sure of it.  We made it home safely.  We didn’t fight.  And on the other side of the huge mud puddle at the bottom of the rocky road, there was a truck waiting that would have pulled us out if we’d gotten stuck.  He made it across as well. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

If You're from Utah, You Must be a Republican

Another story from our Alaskan adventure.  When we arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska, we met an entrepreneur named Otto.  Otto is the owner of Alaska Smart Rentals, which quoted us the least expensive car on the island.  Granted, the car was a bit older and not exactly pristine, but that was exactly what we wanted.  It was great not to have to care about getting mud and or/fish guts in the rental car.

I digress.  This story is about Otto.  After Otto picked us up and brought us the Ford Explorer that would take us pretty much throughout Revillagigedo Island, we headed downtown to find a place for breakfast.  We chanced upon the Pioneer CafĂ©, where we sat at the counter and ordered up a hearty breakfast.  No sooner did our food arrive when Otto showed up and sat at the counter next to me.

We started chatting.  When we told him we were from Utah, he asked if we were Mormon.  No, we told him.  We’re not.  He assured us that he’d met a few Mormons and that he liked them, but that he was a Lutheran.

“But Utah is a Republican state, right?” 

“Yep,” my husband told him.  “My vote hasn’t counted in years.”

Otto then launched into a tirade that only a true Trump believer could have recited with a straight face.  He had donated $50 to Trump’s campaign.  Comey was a leaker.  Hillary should be in jail.  Russia didn’t have anything to do with Trump’s election.  It was all a witch hunt.  While we thought we’d made clear our true political leaning when we could get a word in edgewise, our statements went right over his head.  He was certain we were agreeing with him.  He ended the conversation by patting my husband on the back and telling him how delighted he was to be able to visit with fellow Republicans.

We’re still shaking our heads.  He believed us when we said we weren’t Mormons, but apparently everyone in Utah is a Republican.  That’s his story, and he’s probably still in Alaska sticking to it. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Celebration of Family

My husband’s step-brother died a week ago yesterday.  While a close family member’s death usually brings grief, this one did not.  This man had managed to alienate most of his family and friends, and in the end, he died alone.

To be truthful, it was not entirely his fault.  Mental illness is insidious.  I won’t go into my tirade of how the mentally ill really need to seek treatment and follow their doctors’ orders; I’ll only say that he did not.  And when he died, he left his estranged children with the task of setting his affairs in order and arranging for cremation.

So – how do you hold a memorial service for someone that nobody was even going to miss?  His siblings and children asked us to host an open house in his honor.  The event that actually transpired was a celebration of family.

The open house was pretty much the same as a luncheon following a funeral service – only without the funeral.  Or, since we live in Utah, without the funeral potatoes.  We had fresh flowers on the tables and a display of photos of the deceased, but the photos all had family members as well. 

We had not seen some of the family members who attended in over 20 years.  Some I did not recognize.  Little children had grown up and brought children of their own.  Some were in poor health.  Some of this man’s family had also not seen one another in over 20 years.  There were tear-filled hugs and past-due reconciliations.

We reminisced about the good times we’d had together.  Conversations revolved around the family.  We caught up with one another’s lives.  I uttered the words, “I am sorry for your loss,” only once – to the father of the deceased man who has now felt the tragedy of burying three of his sons.

I write this in gratitude for family.  I was so honored to be a part of what turned out to be a blessing for the family and friends of this man.  And if the occasion ever presents itself again, I will be honored to host a Celebration of Family.