Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter? Already?

Winter is doing it's best to be here early.

This morning as I walked outside to my car at 6:30, very light snow was falling. It was collecting a bit on the roads, but otherwise not sticking. More the sandy kind of snow that blows in patterns across the freeway. Very pretty, but perhaps too soon?

It can be chilly here in Utah in the winter, but with little to no humidity, I don't normally notice too much. However, perhaps due to the fact that we had temperatures closer to 60 degrees as recently as Tuesday, the last two days (today and yesterday) have felt very cold. Additionally, the wind was incredibly strong on Wednesday. I think most of the leaves that were left on the trees were persuaded to find a new home.

I don't usually mind cold weather, as long as I can indulge in space heaters, hot herbal tea, hot chocolate, copious amounts of layered clothing, soup, and corn bags, but it still feels a little too soon for this. We're not even half way through November! We still have all of December, January, March, and April to deal with cold snowy weather. :/

Ah, well, here it is, all the same.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Birthday!

So, yesterday was wonderful.

I woke up early and read for a little while before getting ready for work. On my way to work (I'd left just a few minutes later than I should have so I was late getting to work), I was about two minutes from work when one of my coworkers called and wanted to check on traffic. Noting that this was an unusual call to receive, I was not entirely surprised when I arrived and everyone was gathered in my office to sing Happy Birthday to me and share delicious donuts. And to top that off, Jody brought me some beautiful gerbera daisies (potted!).

Beautiful Gerbera Daisies!
Work was pretty normal, but instead of leaving at 5:00, I left at 3:00 so I got to leave while the sun was still shining! Once home I chatted with my roommate for about an hour before running over to meet Brandon at his house. I'd been up in the kitchen the entire time, but just before I left I went downstairs to drop off my backpack and my door was closed. Thinking this was a little weird, but perhaps there had been someone there working on heater (they often close my door when they come over), I didn't think much of it. Until I opened my door and found my room filled with balloons. :) On my bed was a pack of Hi-Chews and a beautiful card from Brandon.

Incredible card artwork. 


Apparently, after Brandon had dropped me off the night before, he'd gone to the grocery store and picked up some balloons. He and Nate and blown up about half of them at his house (70-ish balloons) and then brought them all over at lunch yesterday to finish blowing up the second half. AnnMarie had heard them downstairs and came down and helped them. 140 balloons later, and my room was swimming in balloons. :)


Balloons - everywhere! 


After meeting up, Brandon and I headed North to Logan. We stopped by Gossner's (eggnog!), ran another few errands, and then had dinner at Le Nonne (delicious - though Pier wasn't there, so not quite as delicious!). While there, there was a table of about six people who'd been sitting by the window. After we'd been sitting at our table for a little while, they asked the servers if they could move to the table next to us to get away from the draft by the window. As they were walking over, Brandon whispered to me that one of the women in the group looked very familiar. A little later, we happened to exchange some conversation and the woman declared that it was her 50th birthday! Excited, I told her that it was my 26th birthday today as well! Half way there! She then remarked to Brandon that he looked very familiar to her, but she couldn't figure out where she knew him from. He asked her if she'd worked up at the University and then everything clicked. Turns out that Brandon worked with her a lot up at the University Library. Flora. She'd been a much beloved staff member of the students. Always happy and cheerful to work with. And from our brief interactions that night, I can definitely understand why they all loved her. Definitely one of the best parts of our night. :)

And then we drove back home, hung out for a little while at Brandon's, and then I headed home for the night. A good day!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Moab Trail (Half) Marathon

This past weekend Brandon and I adventured down to Moab for a change of scene. We left mid-day on Friday and drove through central Utah towards Moab. The scenery on the way down is beautiful, but strange - like another planet. In fact, I'm fairly certain that they shoot a lot of movies that are set on other planets in that region.

We arrived in Moab, checked in at our hotel (all of six days in operation - so, very clean and fresh), and then went straight to Milt's Stop & Eat to pick up my packet and eat dinner. Everything we ate at Milt's was delicious, but especially their shakes. Back at the hotel we spent a good while in the hot tub outside, chatting with a few of our fellow hotel guests. The one downside we discovered to the newness of the hotel was that some of the kinks, such as consistently hot bath water, hadn't quite been sorted out yet.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and got ready, had breakfast, and packed our stuff up before checking out. Relative to many of the races I've done before, this one started fairly later in the morning, with several waves ranging from 8:30 AM to about 9:00 AM. So, while we got up early-ish, it wasn't a particularly painful time.

The drive to the race start wasn't bad, just a meandering little road between the red rocks and river. We got to the race start, I ditched most of the extra layers I'd planned on wearing (long sleeve shirt, jacket, and gloves), as well as my small backpack I'd planned on taking, and then I was pretty much off! Even though the race starts were staggered, we didn't have a lot of time to hang around before my wave started. 

The Race Camp/Start/Finish.

Loading up my pockets with the necessary items. 

Almost all of the races I'd done until this weekend were road races. There were a handful of trail 5Ks, and the Spartan this last summer, but flat or downhill road races is where I'm generally most comfortable. This race was definitely not flat. With total elevation changes of over 1000 feet (not all at once, thankfully), it definitely brought some challenges. And of course, the footwork was the kind where you had to constantly be watching for the next rock ledge to jump up. So, where a normal half might take me about two hours, this one took me four. 

Beautiful views!

Fantastic day!

Some of the more unexpected parts included the following,

-Only two pit stops with food and water, at about miles six and ten - I very quickly regretted not bringing my pack, just for the fluid. However, each stop was very well stocked with water, heed (a disgusting electrolyte drink), coke (random unusual drink for a race like this), cut bananas, cut oranges, cookies, fruit snacks, and energy gels. I stopped both times and ate, drank, and rested until I was ready to continue.

One of the steeper climbs (though it
doesn't look to bad here). 
-Near the second pit stop (almost mile ten), as I rounded a ledge to begin descending into the crevice leading out, the path was suddenly blocked with a long line of runners. Apparently, up ahead, there was a small choke point where everyone had to individually jump down. As a result of this, I waited in line for at least thirty minutes - a ridiculous thing to have to do in a race like this. While it's nice to take a break, a long break like that results in cold muscles that have to be reawakened, and right when everyone has really hit their stride. 


View of the ledge I'm about to follow. 

View of the line ahead. 

View of the line behind. 

-I'd known there would be some of this, but the last two miles or so of the run was mostly down in the riverbed, literally in the water. Off and on we waded through the thigh deep water and ran across the mud. And while I didn't really want to get wet, I didn't mind so much. My legs and knees were really feeling it at this point and the shock of the cold water felt good. 

Coming out of one of the water sections of the river bank.


Just about the end of mile twelve we had a brief jaunt along the road before heading back into the riverbed. As I was nearing the ascent to the road I heard Brandon call my name! He'd been sitting up the hill along the bank waiting for me. I'd originally thought it would take me between two to three and a half hours, but he'd come back to the finish line (from reading and walking around) around two hours in. Noting that I wasn't there, he found that spot on the bank and waited there. As I came up to the road he walked/ran with me until I went back down and then met me at the finish line. 

The last stretch of road. 
Handsome brief running companion!


I'm a huge fan of sprinting at the end, but not until right at the finish did we come up out of the riverbed, so I had a very short distance to sprint.

Done! We grabbed a little food (soda, quesadilla, soup, cookies, chips, fruit snacks, etc.) and then headed back to town. Since we couldn't think of anywhere else to go on short noticed and had enjoyed Milt's so much the evening before, we went back there for lunch. We'd considered walking around town, perhaps going to the local Celtic Festival, or seeing a movie in town, but by the time we finished lunch we just decided to head home - good decision as I was too exhausted to be good for much else. 

Finisher Mug!


It was a long and challenging run, but going to Moab, seeing the deep red rock of the area and running across the landscape - all definitely worth it.