Saturday, July 30, 2011

SHORT


Here is my new short hair!  I haven't had short hair in a long time and I am really liking it.
and the side view...

It is fun to have a new look, especially something I never would have tried when I was heavy. It is super easy and nice and light... wish I had done it before the NY trip!!

Josh did AWESOME at his tri this morning. His time for the olympic distance was 2:24.25. This was his first tri ever! He said that the swim was fast (it was in a river so there was a current helping you along) and that the bike was INTENSE. He said the course was very crowded and he was pretty much "stuck" in a group that was zipping along at 24-27mph.  At one point he had people yelling "on your left" and "on your right" at the same time and he almost wrecked. I guess it was dramatic enough that he had a whole bunch of people yell "nice save!" at him when he somehow managed to keep the bike upright after getting his front wheel clipped AND hitting gravel. Whew.

Josh said that the run was the hardest part for him. I am not sure of his time exactly but he thinks it was about 52 minutes. He said his thighs were really crampy.  But, he is thrilled with his time and thought it was the most fun thing he had ever done. He is ready to sign up again for next year and definitely has more tri's in his future. I am excited for him!!!

I passed up our local 5K race this morning. It is an all downhill course and I had been really looking forward to running it and seeing if I could get under 21 minutes (which I was feeling pretty sure I could). But Josh was out of town, my big kids were all gone on various activity trips, my brother is here from NY, etc. so it was hard for me to leave, plus, I am avoiding speed work because of this achilles and didn't want to hurt myself just for giggles.

I did get up EARLY (left house at 5:30am) with Jenny and we did eight easy miles. My achilles is LESS swollen and LESS stiff than it has been and yet has a little pain to it. I can't tell if that is better or worse! On a pain scale of 1-10 while I am running it is no more than a 2, so I am still running and taking it easy, but it is stressing me out somewhat. I have such big goals and I am so excited about things coming up that I just want this to go away so I can get back to training hard. I am supposed to run 20 miles tomorrow and instead of our usual route, we are going to run five miles away from home and then five back and see how I feel, and if things are ok then we'll go out five miles and back in another direction to make 20 miles and if it is hurting then I will call it quits after 10 miles. I sure hope I am able to get the run in without making anything worse.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. We have the demolition derby at the fair tonight... nothing like a little redneck fun to spice up a summer night. :)

More soon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Five for Friday

It's Friday! Here are five random things going on right now.

- Josh has his first tri tomorrow!! He is doing the Spudman Triathlon (olympic distance). The swim is actually in a river so you have current helping you along. He is going to rock it!! My Ragnar teammate and good friend Alana is also doing Spudman and I am super excited for her too. She has done a few tri's at the sprint distance before and has been training a TON. She is going to do awesome tomorrow.

- I got my hair cut yesterday. Pretty dang short. I really, really like it. It is not as short as I wanted it, but the girl said she thought this style would work better with my hair so I took her advice.  I haven't had short hair in over 15 years, and I had always said I didn't look good with short hair because I had a fat face. I decided it was time to try something new! I have to put new batteries in my camera but I will get a picture up soon.

- My little brother is here from New York! He got here late last night/early this morning and brought home my two girls that I had brought to NY last week. The girls had a total blast and were thoroughly spoiled in a very good way. :) When my brother leaves next week he will be taking my oldest son, Nate,  and his best friend back with him. Our county fair starts this week (kicks off with the Demolition Derby tomorrow night. Yay for some redneck fun!) so we will have lots of fun stuff going on.

- Speaking of Nate, he is 15 today. FIFTEEN. Crazy! Everyone tells you when you have a baby that the time is going to fly by, and when you are knee-deep in diapers, bottles, sleepness nights, etc. it is hard to believe. But it is very true. Nate is the one who made me a mom. I was 18 when I got pregnant with him and 19 when he was born. I wouldn't change a thing. He is an AMAZING kid and I am so grateful to be his mom. He is gone at Scout Camp this week but gets home tomorrow and I can't wait.


- We got a minivan! I know, not very exciting to most people, BUT, this is the first time in over 15 years of marriage and 12 kids that we have had TWO VEHICLES. And, to someone who is used to driving this all the time (my Chevy 15 passenger van)
 THIS


 is actually quite small and sporty. It is used, but is new to us and having two vehicles is going to make life SO much easier. Noah's wheelchair fits in the back which is really really nice.


Today is a running rest day and I am taking it. I am trying to feel hopeful and not frustrated about my Achilles. I just want the dang thing to be 100% so I can get back to speedwork and serious training.

More soon!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fit?

First off, I was thinking about the running stats I posted yesterday, and couldn't help but think how fun it would have been if there had been a stat about "number of children" the average female U.S. runner has. I would have blown THAT one out of the water. :)

My run this morning was pretty tough! I did seven miles super slow and easy, and my stomach was just OFF the whole time. I had to make frequent pit stops, which was just frustrating. Good grief! I finally felt good at mile six, but didn't want to run extra since I am taking it easy(er) this week. I think my problem was a combo of waking up too late and not having ample warmup/potty/pre-run time, and eating a lot of fruit last night. Tomorrow will be better. In good news, my Achilles continues to feel better. Every day it is a little less swollen and stiff and still no pain. I just keep praying it heels completely.

This morning Josh and I had to go to a health evaluation that is required by our health insurance company. They had us come in for a blood draw and a bunch of screenings. We will get the blood test results in a week or so and we got a little booklet with results in it from this morning sent home with us.

The guy that was doing the screening was pretty funny. He took my blood pressure and pulse and then said, "Well, apparently you CRAWLED in here". My pulse was 51 and was blood pressure was 108 over 75. I was worried it would be higher than normal because of that whole "I am sitting in a chair about to get poked with a needle" stress, but I guess not. I told the guy that I hadn't crawled but that I had run 7 miles just before we came in and he looked at me like I was nuts.

Then when he went to draw my blood I asked if he cared which arm I gave him and he said, "It doesn't matter because I can see from here that you have garden hoses for veins in both arms." Garden hoses? Sheesh. He made me laugh though.

Next we did height and weight, BMI and body fat percentage. I knew my height, weight, and BMI (5'5", 133, 22.1) but had never had my body fat percentage done. They gave me a little chart that said that for BMI, "normal" for a woman 20-39 years old is actually 21-32.9 which was the first time I had seen BMI broken down by gender and age.

For body fat percentage I held a little two handled thingy and squeezed, and an electrical current apparently shot in and out of my body and counted all my fat cells in a matter of seconds. My body fat percentage came back at 19%, which I was super happy to see put me in the "athletic" category for women (you can find the chart here).

As I left the guy said, "well... uh...mam... just keep doing what you are doing." Alrighty then!

Two years ago this sort of "evaluation" would have had me all sorts of stressed out and depressed, so it was kind of cool to go and come out of it seeing how my hard work has paid off, and feeling so good about my overall health. I know they are just numbers, but together they showed that my body has transformed into an athlete along with my mind and heart. Got to love that!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

how do you compare?

Happy Tuesday! I think I am finally caught up on work, emails, stuff around the house, etc. Being gone, even for a short time, always leaves me buried in stuff to do when I get back. It was worth it though!

Thanks  to all of you who have left comments and sent email about my achilles. I actually saw a physical therapist this morning. My youngest son, Noah, is two and has cerebral palsy and he has a PT that comes to the house once a week to work with him.  The PT is also a runner and a triathlete (and a crazy nice guy), so he is great to have around. :) He looked at my heel and said that it isn't actually the Achilles tendon that is irritated but the sheath that is around the Achilles (less serious). He said the fact that there is no pain and that it is improving even with running is a very good sign. He also knows me well and knows I tend to push things, so he cautioned me NOT to do any speedwork or hills for the rest of this week and to try and scale my miles back a little. He gave it an ultrasound which is supposed to speed up healing and recommended I stretch it lots, keep it loose, and ice a few times a day (which I have been doing). I am really trying to be smart about this and keep my focus on the BIG picture of my running goals. So, I am listening to my body and praying for quick and complete healing.

This morning was "Track Tuesday" and I went to the track since the girls meet at my house at 6am on Tuesdays, but I didn't do my interval workout because I had read that speed work wasn't good for an upset Achilles area (I saw the PT later today who confirmed that). I did six miles, with the first one super slow and then five at my marathon pace (7:50-8:00). It felt really good, although it was only for five miles and not 26.2!!! :)

Here is a fun quiz I stole from Christy over at My Dirt Road Anthem who got it from http://www.runningusa.org :) I love this and thought it was really interesting.
Demographics:

  • Average Age: 38.5     I am 34.
  • 63.2% Married      Yes- I am the most married person you know ;)
  • 78.2% College educated    Yes
  • 70.3% Earn a household income of $75,000+     Some years!
Running History:
  • Average number of years running: 9.9 years  I am way less on this one. I have been running for two years and almost three months.
  • Average number of running events participated in during the last 12 months: 7.2 events   I have done 9 which is pretty good considering I live FAR from almost everything.
  • 51.8% have completed 1 marathon or more in their lifetime  I have finished three so far and have at least four more in the next six months. LOVE ME THE MARATHONS.
Running Routine:
  • 70.4% Run/Jog 4+ hours each week  I spend 7 to 11 hours a week running
  • 77.7% run 12 months a year  Yes
  • Average number of days run per week: 4.0  Six or Seven (so I guess average is 6.5)
  • Average number of miles run per week: 21.9  50-60
  • 66.1% describe themselves as ‘Frequent/Fitness Runners’ I think I am slightly more dedicated and competitive than that
Running Preferences:
  • Favorite race distance is the Half-Marathon (39.0%)  No way. Give me a marathon any day.
  • Interested in entering next year: Half-Marathon (77.0%), 5K (57.3%), 10K (56.0%), Marathon (43.3%) Half- yes, 5k- yes, 10k-yes, marathon- yes. I love to race.
Motivation:
  • Primary motivation to start running: For Exercise (25.0%), Weight Concerns (14.5%), Needed a New Challenge (9.3%)  All of the above, and I really enjoy racing and competing
  • Motivation to continue to run: Staying in Shape (76.8%), Staying Healthy (74.2%), Relieving Stress (64.4%) Yes, Yes and Yes! I continue to run for all of the above reasons and because I love it. It is part of who I am and something I believe I was born to do.
Product Preferences:
  • Average number of running shoes purchased in last 12 months: 2.9 pairs  I go through 9-10 or so pairs a year, running over 200 miles a month. I always have two pairs I am rotating and keep very good track of the number of miles on each pair.
  • Last running shoes purchased: ASICS (26.4%), Brooks (16.6%), Saucony (14.2%) BROOKS ALL THE WAY!
  • 65.3% spent $90+ on their running shoes and 47.9% purchased their running shoes at a specialty running store  Iget my online at Roadrunnersports.com or Runningwarehouse.com
  • Favorite brands of running apparel: Nike (64.8%), Under Armour (45.7%), Champion (34.3%), adidas (30.7%)  Brooks, Under Armour, Champion and North Face
  • 80.4% spent $100+ on running apparel in the last 12 months and 59.6% purchased running apparel at a specialty running store  Um yeah. I definitely spent more than $100. Quite a bit more i dare say. And I have bought a few small things at a specialty running store, although I buy most of my stuff online (and on sale or with a coupon code or discount).
Health:
  • Average Weight: 137.6 lbs      I am 133 right now - I am not sure what my ideal weight is, although I think I have a few more pounds to lose
  • Average Height: 65.01 inches / 5 feet, 5 inches  5'5"
  • Average Body Mass Index (BMI): 22.9  22.1
  • 40.9% are content with their weight  I am mostly content but I do think I could lose a few more pounds
  • 42.3% are content with their fitness level  I always see areas that could be improved. I know I am in very good shape but I also know that with continued training I can be faster, stronger and have better endurance and I want to keep improving.
 Pretty fun!
how do you compare to the average female runner in the US? 

One more cool thing... Gore-Tex is offering the chance to TWO people to get to spend a day running with the one and only Dean Karnazes during the 2011 TransRockies Run in August 2011. You can find the details and how to apply (super easy) here. How cool would it be to run with Dean??? (yeah... I sent in an application. Can't hurt to try, right?)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Phew

I have spent a lot of time in warm climates. I grew up on Long Island. I have made many trips to Florida... one poorly planned for August. I have been to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and quite a few Caribbean islands.  I was in Vietnam for almost three weeks. I have spent more than a few weeks in Africa. You get the idea. And even with all of that, I can honestly say that I have never, EVER, ever sweat as much in my LIFE as I did this weekend in NY.

Of course NY would have a heatwave that started the day before I arrived and is supposed to finally break tonight. (I am typing this from the airplane on my way home sweet home). I knew when I planned the trip that it would be hot, but I had no idea it would be as hot as it was. The radio kept saying that the "Real Feel temp" was 105. Then 107. Then 108. The humidity was 100%. Everywhere you went people were talking about the crazy heat. Even late at night it was almost  unbearable outside if you weren't in or close to water.

And yeah... I ran. And I ran outside. Yeah baby.

We got to NY on Thursday night and since my achilles was a little grumpy I had decided to take an extra day off on Friday. (I had already taken off Thursday).I wasn't sure how my body would handle running in the heat and I wasn't sure how my achilles was going to feel once I started, so I figured it wasn't worth going to the gym if I wasn't going to run long. Plus, I wanted to get done early so I could be ready for the day and it just seemed faster and easier to run outside. My Dad and Pam gave me some great suggestions on where to run and I was excited to run somewhere new.

I was really tired from the late night and the time change, but I got myself up at 5am NY time (3am Wyoming time) and was out the door just before 6am. My plan was for eight miles but I figured I would just take it easy and see how I felt.

My achilles felt ok! No pain at all, but when I got up I knew it wasn't 100% and it was still a little stiff and a little swollen. It felt fine though as I ran and I kept the pace easy. I was ridiculously HOT, even at 6am. I had filled my 24 ounce water bottle with ice. By the end of the first mile it had ALL completely melted and by the end of the second mile the water was warm. Crazy!  Despite the fact that I was sweating like a crazy person and wishing I had my sun glasses (the sun comes up a lot earlier when there aren't mountains in the way... duh!) I didn't feel too bad.  I finished the eight miles and was really happy to do so.

I was even happier that as the day went on my achilles felt even better than it had the day before and that running easy hadn't bugged it at all.

We had a great (HOT) day on Saturday and another late night, and I was contemplating my long run. My plan called for 18 miles, but I knew that with the heat, the humidity and the achilles that 18 probably wasn't smart. I was thinking about the big picture of my running and didn't want to do anything I would regret.

I got all my stuff set out, and made a bottle of my Accelerade and put it in the freezer for the night. Once again I was up at 5am NY time (3am WY time) and out the door before 6am. My plan was to do start slow and easy at long run pace (8:19 to 9:19) or slightly slower and pay close attention to my achilles and how I felt overall in the heat. (The achilles was less stiff and less swollen when I woke up than it had been but still not perfect).

My Accelerade, which was frozen SOLID when I started (it could have been used as a weapon), was completely melted before I hit the 2.5 mile mark and was warm before four miles. Sheesh!

I made a few stops at portapotties along the docks, took my Accel gels every five miles, kept drinking, kept the pace easy and really stayed in tune with my body. I ended up doing 15 miles. I knew I could have done another 3 miles to hit 18, but I also knew that in the big picture it would not have any huge benefit to my overall fitness and training and I didn't want to push it too much.

I was really, really excited though that I was able to get two good runs done despite the heat. I used to be SUCH a wimp in the heat. I still hate it, but the fact that I was able to run and feel strong (albeit very sweaty) made me feel pretty tough.

Running in NY was really fun though, despite the heat. Couple of thoughts-

It was a great experience and pretty exciting to run in a new place. 

My parents live in a beautiful neighborhood, just blocks from the beach, with tons of incredible houses. Water and boats made for a fun change of scenery.

I have no idea if being more than 6000ft lower in elevation helped me out at all because the heat and humidity were so over the top ridiculous.

It was really fun to see SO many other runners (and cyclists) out, although my Dad said there were a lot less than usual because of the heat wave. I love seeing other runners. And I only had one driver yell something obnoxious at me, which surprised me. There was way more traffic than I am used to but the cars were really good to all of us out running (although I am sure they thought we were nuts in that weather).

Long Island is FLAT. Especially coming from the Rocky Mountains.

And thanks for all the kind words about my achilles. After being able to run as much as I did this weekend and still being pain free, I am pretty sure it is going to be fine. Still a bit stiff and a just a little swollen, but no pain at all and improving daily.

The trip to NY was awesome, although it went by way too fast. There were conversations that I didn't get to have with my parents, things I didn't get to eat, places I didn't see,  and just not enough TIME. I miss my parents so much already and it is one of those days that it hurts living so far away from them. I love them so much and the amount of love, support, and encouragement that they give me is overwhelming in a very good and powerful way.

The time that I did have was wonderful and we squeezed in a lot. My parents' home is so beautiful and just special to be in. And they had even bought an extra air conditioner so it was perfectly cool and comfortable. They have an incredible pool so the girls are in heaven, and we also got to go out on a boat and swim in the ocean which was a blast. We went out to eat a few times and my parents hosted a very nice get together for some of their friends and coworkers to come and see/meet me (and we had family and my best friend from when I was young there too). I missed Josh and the other kids something awful and am excited that I will be back with them in a few more hours.

So that is the recap of my trip to NY. It was a wonderful, but very sweaty trip. :)

Please, please, PLEASE let the weather be a whole lot cooler when I am back in November!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Glitches

I am writing this post from the "comfort" of my seat on a Delta flight...somewhere up in the sky in between Salt Lake and NY... and thinking it is pretty dang cool that WiFi is available on planes now. Love it!

What a crazy couple of days it has been. Most of the craziness has been the reality of "I have 12 kids, a crazy schedule, and a demanding job and trying to get things ready for me to leave for any period of time longer than an hour is A WHOLE LOT OF STINKING WORK". I got it all done and we got out of the door on time this morning, but whew. I am ready for this short vacation FOR SURE.

There have been a couple of glitches worth mentioning.

- If you have tried to donate to my Team MEB fundraiser and haven't been able to, I apologize. Team MEB  is getting their own 501c3 status and they are switching around some technical stuff that I have nothing to do with. You will be able to donate again at crowdrise SOON and I will post as soon as things are up and running. In the mean time, I will extend the offer of five bonus entries to anyone who makes a first donation and 20 extra entries to anyone who makes a repeat donation until further notice. If you want to donate and can't you can shoot me an email at fullhousemom @ gmail dot com and I can give you an address to send a check to, OR, you can just leave a comment and let me know how much you are going to donate once things are up and running again and I will count it. :)

- Sorry I didn't announce a winner yesterday! Like I said, I was a wee bit busy and stressed out. I didn't get a post up, but I used Random.org yesterday to pull another winner and fate smiled on EVE H. We have been in touch and she picked her prizes. Yay!

- I hurt myself. BOOOOOO! I switched around my running schedule a little bit to accommodate my travel this week. I didn't want to miss my 10 mile run (with four miles at tempo) so I did that yesterday instead of my six mile easy run. I felt AWESOME during the run and nailed all of my paces (four tempo miles were at 7:18, 7:17, 7:21 and 7:03). No pain at all. But when I got done, my right Achilles felt a little sore. 

I got home, stretched, rolled, and got on with my day and felt fine. When I got in the shower and was shaving I noticed that I had a small lump down by my Achilles and that it was stiff and swollen. URGH. It doesn't feel too bad (just a tiny bit sore) and it is not swollen much at all anymore, but it is still stiff for sure.

In hindsight, I guess a 20 mile run, 8 mile easy run and then two days of speedwork in a row wasn't the smartest, especially when my right calf was a little stiff after the 20 miler.

I took today off and am going to take tomorrow off, and will see how things feel and adjust accordingly for the weekend. I hate taking days off, but I am not going to do anything to risk a real injury. I am SO excited for Pocatello and for Top of Utah coming up and I have BIG MARATHON RUNNING PLANS. So I am resting for a couple of days and hope this little "glitch" goes away as fast as it popped up. It is not anywhere that I have ever injured before or that has ever even bothered me before so I am thinking positively...

I am not looking forward to 95-100 degree temps for the next couple of days (it was so chilly at home when we ran yesterday morning that we could see our breath!) but I am SO looking forward to time with my parents and family and friends, and to a short break. I do really have a hard time being away from Josh and I miss him like crazy already.  I don't like being away from home or the kids either (yes, I cried putting Noah to bed last night knowing I wouldn't see him until Sunday night). I am a pretty big homebody for the most part. And I miss Jenny already too! My brain is always make a list of things to "tell Jenny" and when I don't see her on any given morning for a run the list gets long! But the girls and I are excited. Watch out NY... here we come!

That's all for now. Think cool thoughts for me. And think happy thoughts for my Achilles please. More soon (from the Big Apple). :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MORE prizes added and MORE chances to win!

Ok, so I am excited to tell you that I have THREE new prizes added to the already awesome pile of loot I have just sitting here waiting to be given away in my Totally Awesome Fundraising Giveaway!

The three new prizes are -

- a $40 gift certificate to SILVER MAPLE!!! Your biggest problem if you win this is going to be deciding what to use your gift certificate for! There are so many beautiful things.  Here is one of my favorites.


Here is what Jacquelyn from Silver Maple says about her jewelry, "At The Silver Maple, we work hard to create uniquely special, hand-stamped, vintage-inspired, pieces that channel happy thoughts. Whether it’s your child’s name, a memorable date, a special place, or an inspiring phrase, the idea is to smile and reflect each and every time you look at your piece."
You can find the Silver Maple on Facebook here.

- A friend who is an ambassador for Snickers Marathon Bars has donated TWO boxes of Snickers Marathon Bars (one box of Snickers Marathon energy bars, one box of  Snickers Marathon Protein Bars). Can you say yum??? Check them out here!!! Each box will be considered one prize. :)


- And the awesome Joel at Allied Medal Displays has donated a SECOND medal display (winner's choice of any in stock display!) The first display was already chosen and won, so if this is what you were hoping for, here is another chance. :)
And just in case you have forgotten all the other awesome stuff that is available to win, here is the list of what has not yet been given away.



-One prize pack containing a pair of Ironman Performance Raising Earphones (these sell for $50 each!) AND an Ironman Series Armband from Yurbuds!

- A totally awesome skirt from Running Skirts! The skirt donated fits women who wear a size 8 in women's pants, and they said that is their number one best selling size. The skirt I have to give away is a sky blue color with yellow sides. SO CUTE!

- I still have THREE awesome shirts to give away from Tri It Wear!!! (Each one is a separate prize). Winners who get a Tri It Wear shirt get their choice of shirt style and size.

-A combo back of two great books! A copy of Family Feasts for $75 a Week and a copy of Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn. This prize pack is worth over $20 (and much more if you consider the money saving and sanity saving tips you will get!) :)

 - Gotein! I have TWO prize packs from Gotein.  Gotein is a protein supplement that you add to your water that helps refuel  and improve lean muscle mass. The first prize pack is of two boxes of Gotein, 12 packets each box,  (your choice of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry) and a Gotein t-shirt.
The second prize pack is of one box of Gotein (12 packets) and a Gotein t-shirt.

- A beautiful black and pink flowered headband from Active Bands! I have tried lots (and lots) of headbands and I am really impressed with how well the Active Bands are made, how well they work, and how pretty they are! My best friend Jenny tried one out during Ragnar, and really really liked it.

- THREE pairs of Flex Sport Buds (pink, green and blue!) from h2o Audio! (Three separate prizes). These sport buds are sweatproof and waterproof and they STAY IN your ears. They come with three sizes of silicone ear plugs so you can find your perfect fit and they are perfect for running, swimming, just hanging out or whatever activity you enjoy.  Josh used a pair of these for his marathon a couple of weeks ago and he thinks they are great. These are his favorite and go-to earbuds for everything. He loves that he can just rinse them off when he is done sweating. :)

 - A gift pack of products from 2Toms! I have a pack of Butt Shield, Blister Shield and Sports Shield. If you haven't tried 2Toms products yet, these are superior products for athletes and active people that prevent blisters, friction burns, saddle sores and all sorts of other uncomforts that can plague us! These are great for runners, cyclists, hikers, triathletes, etc. I have a full review of these products coming up soon. These products last all day, are non-staining, non-toxic, non-greasy, unscented, waterproof and go on easily.



Because I am SO GRATEFUL for the generosity that so many are showing, for anyone that makes a first donation to my fundraising giveaway today, I will give you FIVE BONUS ENTRIES (on top of all of the other entries you earn) into the giveaway. And for anyone who has already donated and makes a second donation today, I will give you TWENTY BONUS ENTRIES (on top of all of the other entries you earn) into the giveaway.

I will draw another lucky winner in the morning who will get their choice of any two prizes/prize packs!!

You can read all of the details about the giveaway and my fundraising for Team MEB and the NYC Marathon by going over to this post here, although all you need to do to be entered is to make a donation here. (And anyone who has already donated since the start of this giveaway and has not yet won a prize is still entered).

Please, please help spread the word about this fundraising giveaway. THANK YOU again to all of the amazing companies who have showed such generosity and support by donating their great products and thanks to all of YOU for helping me raise money for such a great cause. Good luck to everybody!!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lesser of two evils?

I am going to New York on Thursday. Yay! I am very excited for time with my parents, some quality time with two of my daughters, a break from my job, and the opportunity to see some family and friends that I very rarely get to see. I leave on Thursday and am home on Sunday so it will be very fast, but it will be great.

Now the big question I have is... which is the lesser of two evils?

1. Running 18 miles on the streets of New York (Long Island) by myself, in heat and humidity I am REALLY not used to

or

2. Running 18 miles on a gym close to my parents house?

On one hand, I like running in new places and I much prefer to be outside. But right now, even the LOW temps of the day in NY are a good 20 degrees higher than what I am used to running in. And what do people do when they have to go to the bathroom on a long run in NY? Do you have to carry money and buy something so a store will let you use their restroom?? Will they let me pack my runner's mace in my checked luggage?

A treadmill in an air conditioned gym will take care of the heat issue, and the mace issue and the bathroom issue. But then there is that whole "bored to tears" thing (and a day pass will cost $10). I can't decide if running at a gym is a smart idea of wussing out.

I did find a decent 18 mile route from my parents house and back on roads that shouldn't be too dangerous but also should take me past an ample amount of convenience stores for emergency pit stops, and I found a gym just half a mile away that opens early, has tons of treadmills and has no time limit for using the treadmills. So what do you think? Take it slow, suck it up, be adventurous and run outside while I am in NY (probably one 8 mile run and one 18 mile run) or be safe, keep cool and run in a gym??

If it wasn't six weeks out from the Pocatello Marathon I would probably just switch things up or skip the runs, but this weekend is just six weeks before race day and this is an important part of the training for me.

So help! Give me some advice and tell me what to do. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

20 miles and race pics

Since I decided to run the Pocatello Marathon on September 3 in hopes of qualifying for Boston (and in reality, I want to more than qualify.... I want to be at or under 3:30) along with the Top of Utah marathon on Sept. 17, I had to bump up my marathon training plan by a few weeks. I still wanted to get in thee 20-mile long runs, so my options were to jump up to a 20 miler this week, cut out a week of taper and do a 20 two weeks before Pocatello, or double up somewhere in the training and have two weeks back to back with 20 mile runs in them. I knew after all my Ragnar training that I could do a 20 miler now (and it seemed the smartest plan) so that is what I decided to do. I pretty much just shifted up my training plan by 2 weeks, which put my first 20 miler today.
It was a totally awesome run! Jenny and I started together at about 5:45 am and she ran 13 miles with me. Then I went on and did the last seven on my own. It was long, and the sun was strong, but I felt seriously awesome the whole way. It was my best 20 mile training run ever. :)

And, it put me at 64 miles run this week, which is my highest weekly mileage ever. I have never felt better.

I averaged a 9:02 pace on my 20 miler this morning. My goal long run pace is 8:19-9:19 so that was just right. Woo hoo! Into the ice bath I go.

And yay! Here are pictures from the half marathon last weekend. Seriously, this is the most beautiful course and was just an awesome race. (And did I mention I finished in 1:38:18 and won my age group? I am still pretty excited about that). Here is their race website and if you missed it, here is my race recap.

You can click on any of these pics to see them bigger.(And the cute guy in the yellow shirt is my hubby Josh). :)

These first three pics are all from the first mile. How beautiful is the national forest?? Josh is fun. :)



 This is me coming into the final stretch. I love this pic!
 The guy in the green, the guy in the blue and the girl in the white were way ahead of me the whole race and it was exciting to catch them (because I didn't think I would get close). I passed the two guys in the final stretch and the girl beat me by two seconds.


Fun! These are some of my favorite race pics ever.

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy running. :) More soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Favorites

I can hardly believe it... I have now been the recipient of TWO prestigious awards in one week (please, please tell me there are other Christmas Story fans out there??) First I won my age group in the Star Valley Half Marathon last week and got my very first trophy, and then the awesome Molly gave me the Amazing Blogger Award!
Molly is also running the NYC Marathon in November and we are going to have a blast! I am excited to meet her. :)

Ok, so as a recipient of the prestigious Amazing Blogger Award, I have to answer some silly questions about myself.  They are all "favorites", which is not good for me. I warn you in advance, I have been known to have a lot of favorites. Any hoodie I am wearing is my favorite hoodie. I have more favorite books than I can count. When I am watching movies I am known to proclaim that it is my favorite movie (even though I have said it about lots of other movies). And I often declare that a meal I am enjoying is my favorite food, even when at the meal before I bestowed the very same honor on something else.

I'll do my best here...

My favorite cartoon character- Hmmmmmm. I love cartoons. I love all things Disney. I am a child at heart. This is a hard one!!

For as long as I can remember I have loved Pooh Bear
Woody Woodpecker has always made me laugh (love to show my kids the old episodes on Youtube... Over the falls in a barrel anyone??)
I think Pepe Le Pew is very awesome (even though I am super afraid of skunks when I run and we seem them and SMELL them all the time!)
One of my very all time favorite cartoons is One Froggy Evening with Michigan J Frog (here... my gift to you... go watch it now on Youtube. You won't be sorry. Go. This post will still be here when you are done. You will thank me later.)
I have said for many years that my very favorite cartoon character is Jiminy Cricket. Is he not the coolest?  "When You Wish Upon a Star" always makes me cry too. I am a sap.
But, right now I am slightly obsessed and extra in love with Goofy because I am so stinking excited about going to Disney and running the Goofy Challenge in January 2012!!! (39.3 miles to race in two days. Yeah baby!) And lets face it... Goofy has such a great attitude and is so much fun. Seriously, if you can watch Goofy's "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater" and not laugh, you have no soul. (Go, watch. You will smile and be in a better mood).

My favorite thing to photograph - Kids! Good thing I have 12 of them. :)
Here is our Christmas card pic from last year... I took it myself!
My favorite thing to cook - Trick question! I don't like to cook!! I guess if I HAVE to pick something I will say baked goods... cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. I am good at baking and I am popular at home when I bake treats. But if I never cooked again, I would not miss it. 

My favorite way to exercise - Another trick question! Running. I love it. I am (maybe just a little) obsessed with it. In a good way. I do also enjoy hiking, swimming, jumping on the trampoline and playing with the kids, but running is for sure the favorite. 

Here is a sneak peak of the race pics from last week's half. This is coming into the finish line. :)


My favorite movie - Oh man. Another hard one. I love movies. A lot. And there are so many kinds... 

Pixar movies are some of my very favorites... I love them all....
Toy Story is a favorite, and always will be. My Solomon got a wish from Make A Wish and wished to meet Buzz Lightyear. It was incredible. I heart Buzz.
But I also really, really, really love UP...
and my little girls said I have to tell you that my favorite princess is Belle, and my favorite princess movie is Beauty and the Beast (it is).
The first movie I ever had on VHS tape when I was younger (and watched way too many times to even count) is Can't Buy Me Love (I loved McDreamy before he was McDreamy!)

Now if I have to act my age...

Probably my all time favorite movie is the Princess Bride
I also love (in random order) Love Actually (watch it every Christmas and throughout the year too, )My Blue Heaven, Three Men and a Baby, Sandlot, , all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, When Harry met Sally, You've Got Mail, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken,  all the Indiana Jones movies, It's a Wonderful Life, Adventures in Babysitting, Roxeanne, Anna and the King, Steel Magnolias, Groundhog Day, A League of Their Own, Raising Arizona, Serendipity, Terms of Endearment, all the Shrek movies, pretty much anything Disney...oh forget it. This is way too hard.

My favorite article of clothing - Hoodies! I am a hoodie-a-holic.
With my Dad in a hoodie - 
With my best friend in a hoodie - 

On my way to a race in a hoodie -

Hoodies rock.

My favorite flower - I am not a big "inside"flower girl, but sunflowers are my favorite.  I don't think that it doesn't get much prettier than this
or this...
Sunflowers are just beautiful, and I love the wildflowers on the mountains. They grow in all shapes and colors, without any gardening, just how God planted them. Perfection!

My favorite Breakfast - Oatmeal!!! I love it. Josh says it is barely oatmeal by the time I am done with it. I add in blueberries, strawberries, almonds, banana and a couple of dark chocolate chips. SO yummy.

I am supposed to tag people now but I have no idea who has been tagged and who hasn't, so if you want to play along, consider yourself tagged. Leave a comment if you do. :) Thanks Molly! This was fun. More soon!

Opposites

Any runners stay up to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter? I love Harry Potter and all, but I just wasn't going to give up a night of sleep for a movie. Maybe that makes me old, or a party pooper, or an athlete that takes herself too seriously. :) And, truth be told, I am kind of more excited about the new Winnie the Pooh movie. I heart Pooh Bear.

Ok, on to running stuff.

Yesterday's run and today's run were total opposites.

The temps were the same and the weather was the same... other than that, TOTAL opposite runs.

Yesterday's run was a 10 miler with 4 miles at tempo pace. Jenny and I started off together (ran five miles together at about an 8:45 pace) and then I had to "take off" on my tempo miles. At the beginning of the run I was a little worried that my legs wouldn't show up for the tempo part of the run. At 4.5 miles into the run I told Jenny I was a little worried that my legs weren't going to "go" when I said "go". She told me they would. I still had my doubts.

My Garmin beeped at mile five and I took off for my four tempo miles. I kept telling myself that in less than half an hour it would be over and to just RUN. My goal pace for tempo miles now is 7:07- 7:25. I was able to get into the right pace zone right away but I could also tell right away that it just wasn't going to come easily that day. It didn't.

The first two miles of the tempo run were mostly flat, and then the last two miles were uphill (not huge hills at all, but enough of an incline that it made a hard pace even harder). The last mile had the steepest incline, I had turned a corner and the rising sun was shining in my face,  and honestly, I think that was the hardest mile I have ever run. The devil on my shoulder was saying, "Your plan says 3-4 miles at tempo pace so you don't have to finish this last mile." And the runner who really wants to run a 3:30 marathon said, "I don't quit on workouts. I don't give up mid-run. I am going to finish this mile even though it is really freaking hard!"

I finished, and the paces for the tempo miles were 7:10, 7:19, 7:19, 7:15. I walked/jogged back to Jenny and we cooled down together. I usually recover really quickly but I was BEAT. I got home and laid on the bed by Josh and just felt sick to my stomach and wiped OUT. I had some chocolate soy milk and my oatmeal and felt better as the day went on, but I was still just exhausted. It was a great run... I nailed my (fast!) paces, I didn't give in when I really wanted to and I finished strong... but it kicked my butt!

Last night we rented a movie to watch with our big kids (Source Code... everyone loved it!) and I didn't even try. I took out my contacts, got my blanket and was out cold curled up next to Josh before 9pm. 

I woke up this morning feeling awesome, and Jenny and I went on a super easy five mile run. I left Bob (my Garmin) at home, didn't wear a watch, didn't care which way we went, and didn't have a care in the world. The cool temps, the slowish pace, and time with my best friend were all perfect. It was also a great run, but for totally different reasons than yesterday's run. It was easy and fun and left me rejuvenated in a few different ways.

Every morning I get up and put on my running shoes and just never know what that day's run will bring, but I am always glad I went and I do believe that every run makes me better.

I have eight miles (easy pace) tomorrow and then my first 20 miler of this training plan on Sunday. I am looking forward to it.

Josh never did email me those race pics yesterday but he promised he will today so I will post those soon, and I got tagged by the awesome  Molly with the Awesome Blogger award and now have a fun post to do for that. I also had a reader email me with some marathon training questions that I am going to answer in a post very soon, so if you have any marathon training questions feels free to leave them in a comment or email me and I will add them to the post.

Happy Friday everybody and Happy Running!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Numbers!

I am a numbers girl. I have always been very good at math. My check book is always balanced. I get on the scale regularly. I need to know what time it is. I like to have a training plan. I like to see my splits after a run. I like numbers. Here are some bullet points with numbers.

15 - As of today, this is the number of years I have been married to the greatest guy ever. Life is so very, very good.

8 - the number of 800M repeats I did yesterday for Track Tuesday. I did a half mile warm up, half mile cool down and quarter mile rest intervals in between each one (6.75 miles total). It was a tough work out! My body didn't feel sore or tired after the half this weekend, but mentally the 800s were tough. I nailed them all though. My target time for each 800 was 3:04-3:21 and my times were 3:10, 3:09, 3:10, 3:09, 3:10, 3:09, 3:07, 3:10. It was tough, but a confidence builder when I was done for sure.

3:24:47 - This is the time that McMillan predicts I can run a marathon in based on my half time this weekend! I took the 1 minute and 12 seconds I lost in the portapotty off my half time to figure the numbers for what I actually ran (I ran the half at an average pace of 7:24) and put that in the calculator, and it predicts a 3:24:47 marathon. Holy crud! That scares and excites me all at the same time. I bumped up all of my training paces to the new paces given by McMillan for this new time, and it is all doable and in the range of what I was already doing so I am feeling very hopeful and excited about a sub 3:30 marathon. I can't believe I am saying that, but I am believing and working towards that goal!

9/12 - This is the date that registration opens for the Boston Marathon this year. Six months ago, I truly and honestly did not think that qualifying for Boston was a realistic goal for me. Now I am feeling confident, and even hoping/expecting to be quite a bit under the time I need to qualify (this year I would need a 3:45 to qualify).

9/17 - This is the date of the Top of Utah Marathon, which I am registered to run (and excited to run with several friends!) and is the race I have been planning on trying to BQ at. However, since the registration for the Boston Marathon open earlier this year, there is a good chance that registration could be full before I even race on Sept. 17th. I had been saying that I would be ok if I didn't actually "run" Boston and that I would be happy to just qualify, but someone awesome (who keeps telling me to Dream BIG), said that with all the work I have been putting in to qualify for Boston, I should at least have a chance to run the race. The more I thought about it, the more I realized she is right. For a non-professional, non-elite, non-Olympic caliber marathoner, this is the most competitive race I can earn entry into and be a part of. I want in! So....

9/3 - is the date that I will be running the Idaho State Journal Pocatello Marathon!! Last year I ran the 1/2 at this race (my first half) and it was great. Everything went very smoothly and was very well organized, it was loads of fun, and the swag was great. (Seriously... along with the great shirt, real back pack and other goodies, you get a bag of potatoes!) The course isn't quite as nice as TOU, but it is still a mostly downhill course and it is pretty close to home. Jenny can't run TOU because it is her anniversary that day and she has wanted to do a full marathon, so she is going to run Pocatello too (her first!!!) so I am super excited.

2 - The number of marathons I will be running in 14 days. Woo hoo! This will earn me Marathon Maniac status which makes me feel pretty darn cool (silly, I know!), and will give me two opportunities to qualify for Boston. If I do really well in Pocatello and qualify, then I will just run TOU for fun, and if Pocatello doens't go as well as I hope, I will race TOU. I have recovered very very quickly from all of my other marathons so I am not worried at all about doing two so close together. I am actually crazy excited. :)

$1525 - this is the amount of money I still need to raise for Team MEB and the NYC Marathon on November 6.  If you donate here I will be grateful forever and you will be entered to win tons of great stuff.

12- The number of kids who really want breakfast now, so my computer time is up for the moment.  I got to see some FUN pics from the race on Saturday last night while I was at the newspaper office and Josh is supposed to email them to me so I will post when I get them. Have a great Wednesday everybody!

Winner #3!!!

I added in the most recent donations this morning, retallied all the entries and then used Random.org to choose the next winner in my Big Fundraising Giveaway, and fate smiled on #67 which is -

TERZAH!!!!

Since she has made THREE donations I was super happy to see her win. Yay!!

Congrats!!! Check out the link above and then email me at full house mom at g mail dot com and let me know which two prizes/prize packs you want!! Yay!!

For those that didn't win, there are still many many awesome prizes/prize packs (and likely more being added soon). Everyone who has entered (and hasn't won) will continue to be entered until all of the prizes are gone and a new winner will be chosen every Wednesday.

If you are already entered, at any time you can make another donation of at least $10 and have your number of entries doubled (or tripled if you have already donated twice) or if you  haven't entered yet, you can make a first donation and get in on the fun any time.

THANK YOU to all of you who are participating. Your generosity and support means SO very much!!  I am just under half way to my goal of raising $3000 for Team MEB.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Want to win some cool free stuff?

What kind of question is that? Of course you do!

Want to support a nice girl trying to raise money for a good cause? I hope you do! :)

All you have to do to support me and Team MEB for the NYC Marathon (and help children in the U.S. and Africa have access to health, education and fitness opportunities) is to donate here.

You will be automatically entered into my fundraising giveaway, which still has over $600 worth of great stuff just waiting to be claimed. You can see the fundraising giveaway details here. There are lots of chances to earn extra entries into the giveaway.

I am just about half way to my goal of raising $3000 for Team Meb. Please help me out by making a donation of any amount (it all helps!) and by spreading the word. Thanks so much! I will draw the  next winner TOMORROW and she/he will get their choice of any two prizes/prize packages still available. Good luck everybody!

Strong

Below is a post I put up on my private blog today. It is baring my soul a little more than I usually do on this blog, but somehow it seemed appropriate to post here too. I will have another (more running related) post up soon.

I have been thinking a lot lately about strength. There are a lot of ways that a person can be strong. Someone can be physically strong, mentally strong, emotionally strong, spiritually strong... other ways too I am sure.

For most of my life, I never would have described myself as strong, especially emotionally. I grew up with an abusive mother (verbally and emotionally). (Please note that this is NOT my incredibly wonderful, loving and supportive step-mom, Pam, who I now just refer to as my Mom).

They say that human beings are supposed to have a "fight or flight" response to conflict. I have never, ever been a fighter. I have never been a "flight-er" either. I was always more of a "crawl up in a ball and cry" kind of girl.

I was like that with my mother, and with anyone who was hurtful to me. If someone was unkind, judgemental, mean, insensitive, nasty, hurtful or whatever to me, I just took it. I never stood up for myself. I rarely even said anything. I internalized it... usually cried... and let it make me feel badly. I cared too much about what other people said and thought. I have always been a person who sees the best in people and in situations, and it hurt a lot when other people didn't see the best/good in me.

I am not one to hold on to things for long (especially bad things) so I always let things go quickly (still do!), and I have always been a very happy and optimistic person overall, but I never stood up for myself and my self esteem struggled. This was true well into adulthood.

My Dad told me time and time again (in dealing with my mom) that I did not have to keep putting myself in a position to be hurt. He told me that I had to forgive, I had to forget, I couldn't be angry or sad all the time,  and that I shouldn't harbor bad feelings towards her or anyone else, but that I also didn't have to keep putting myself into a position where I was being hurt.

Since I did not want my kids exposed to the emotional abuse, once I became a mom (and after many, many attempts at having any sort of healthy relationship, even just between her and the kids) I was able to draw the line in the sand with my own mother. And yet since I was doing that more for my kids than for myself, I still struggled with standing up for myself with other people.

Over the last couple of years, I can finally say that I am emotionally strong. I am still a lover, not a fighter. I still hate conflict and avoid it at almost all costs. I have worked hard at not being overly sensitive (although I think I will always be a sensitive soul), and have found the courage to stick up for myself when it really needs to be done. I still walk away when that is the best option, I bite my tongue most of the time, and I am SO much better at not letting unkind things people say or do get under my skin. I choose not to be offended. I love this quote from Brigham Young, "He who is offended when offense is not intended, is a fool; he who is offended when offense is intended, is a greater fool." I love it! And I have figured out that I don't have to be around people who drag me down.

I still forgive very easily. I still let go of things quickly and don't hold on to things people have said or done that were hurtful. I still move on quickly. Anyone who knows me knows that I give people the benefit of the doubt and don't hold a grudge. I give second chances, third chances and then some.  At the same time, I have learned that I don't have to put myself in a position where someone is repeatedly hurtful, judgmental, mean or whatever.  Those people don't get much of my time or emotional energy.

I focus on ALL of the good in my life and don't give emotional energy to the bad stuff. I focus on the happy. I smile. Life is too good not to! I  count my blessings and surround myself with the people that lift me up, support me, encourage me, love me, inspire me, accept me, and make my life better for knowing them. And I try to do the same for those in my life.

I don't think that it is just coincidence that a lot of my gains in emotional strength came along with gains in physical strength and spiritual strength. I believe that losing weight, getting into running, doing something for myself, and improving my self-esteem helped me become stronger emotionally. And I know that building a closer relationship with my Savior and my Father in Heaven has helped me to feel better about myself and be happier overall, and also to be kinder to myself, more forgiving (to myself and others), less sensitive, and more patient.

Life is good. I love and I am loved. I am blessed. Don't sweat the small stuff.

I of course still have room to improve and continue to strive to be better in many areas. I am definitely a work in progress! I try (and will continue to try) to be what I want Josh and our kids to see and what I want them to be - confident, slow to anger, grateful, resilient, caring, hard to offend, optimistic, kind, forgiving, happy, loving, patient - emotionally strong.

On my RoadID I chose the phrase, "Courage, Faith, Strength", and it is as important to me to be emotionally strong as it is physically, mentally and spiritually.  Among other things, running has helped me find my inner strength. It's awesome to feel strong. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Star Valley Half Marathon Race Report!

Race report time! Warning - it's long. I am detail-oriented. :)

This is a fun one to write because the entire experience was just FUN.

I got up yesterday at my usual "run" time of 5am and got dressed and ready. I also made sure that Josh was up and getting ready (we had gotten everything set up and ready to go the night before). Josh ate breakfast (I didn't... I always run on an empty stomach unless it is a marathon) and then just after 6am Jenny and Alana were in the driveway. I remember thinking that I was ready to RUN (as I usually head out at 6am to run in the summer time) but we still had two hours before the race started. But I really wasn't nervous at all. I was excited because I knew I would be seeing lots of friends and neighbors and because I knew it was going to be a fun event, and I was excited to race hard, but not nervous.

I got up one of my older boys so that he could hear when Noah woke up, left some last minute directions for the kids and then we were out the door.

I had Josh snap a couple of pics of me and the girls before we left. We forgot to get one of Josh and I together. Oops!

I missed the memo that we were supposed to put makeup on to race. That is why Alana and Jenny look beautiful and I look like a zombie. :)

The drive was about 20 minutes or so and it was fun! We were all excited, and I got a tiny taste of what Ragnar will be like next year. (Jenny, Alana and I are the three girls on our ultra team and then Josh and two of his buddies are joining us. Can you say FUN?)

We had picked up our race packets the night before, so all we had to do was hang around for a short while until they started loading the buses to take us up to the race start. We saw the finish line (we parked at the finish and were bussed to the start) which was exciting, and the girls helped me pick which head band to wear. I wore a dark purple and black running tank, black shorts with white piping, and went with the white headband because we figured it would be cooler.

It was a beautiful morning... bright blue skies and sunshine... although it was chilly (about 45 degrees or so) which was fine with me. :) It was really fun to see lots of friends and neighbors and to talk with everybody.

As we got on the bus, Josh was the first one on, and he made a big scene about announcing that he had been FIRST on the bus that day, and that while it may be the only time he beat his wife that day, he had gotten on the bus FIRST. Of course he got lots of laughs.

The walkers had started an hour earlier and they were on the course as we headed up, so it was fun to see them and cheer them on (especially since we knew many of them). It made me want to get out there and get running! There was lots of fun conversation and I kept thinking how awesome it was to be doing a race with Josh, Jenny, Alana and so many other people we knew.

We got up to the start area and used the portapotties (we were glad to be on the first bus because the line was short for us. It was long once the other buses got up there), then shed our sweats, warmed up, checked our bags, and got ready to run! It was chillier up in the canyon but again, I wanted the cool temps to last as long as possible so I was not complaining. I used one of my 2Toms Sport Shield toweletes and this stuff was GREAT. It was super convenient to use one towelette and then toss it (no tube to carry around) and it worked like magic. I had zero chafing and irritation. I am a new fan of Sport Shield for sure!

There was lots more visiting and chatting as we waited to start. There were just about 300 people who participated, which was a great turnout for a first year, small town race. Almost all of our Ragnar team from this year was there and running the race! I still felt excited and confident. I can honestly say I had almost no nerves at all before this race. I am sure being so close to home and having so many of my favorite people around helped!

A few friends had mentioned that they thought I could be in the top female finishers. I just wasn't sure. We have a few very fast, talented runners here in the valley, and the family that put on the race has many connections in the running community and I knew people were coming to run from surrounding states. (The overall winner, Gray Augustus, came from Idaho and finished in 1:13! how awesome!!!). I heard that some Ragnar staff was supposed to be there and assumed they would be competitive too. I figured I would just go out and run my best race, and if that put me in the top finishers that was great, and if not, that was ok too.

We lined up to start, and there was a very nice little speech given. This race was a memorial for Jeremy Kunz, who was killed during a Ragnar relay by a drunk driver. His family put on this race as a way to celebrate and honor Jeremy, and they did an INCREDIBLE job.

It was a "gun start" (but a chip finish), so I lined up close to the front and right at 8am we were off! The course has an overall elevation loss of about 1,000 ft, but the first 2-3 miles were at a steeper grade than the rest of the course and the first two miles were on dirt/gravel. I knew people were going to take off too fast and I did not want to get caught up in that, but I also knew I wasn't going to fight gravity or work hard to go slow.

This was actually my least favorite part of the race. I don't like running on gravel, and they had just grated the road so there was lots of loose rocks. Maybe I am just a chicken, but I hate running fast on loose rocks. I kept looking down at my Garmin and seeing times in the 6:30ish range and knew that was way too fast, so I kept concentrating on pulling back.

Before the race, Josh had said he wanted to run with me. I told him that I was out to race this race, and if he could keep up that was awesome, but that I wasn't going to wait for him. I also told him if I was holding him back to go for it it he wanted to. Those first two miles or so he got out ahead of me a bit (he loves trail-running and the downhill) but when we hit the pavement and lost some of the downhill we ended up back together. I was super happy to hit the pavement and ran a bit without looking at my Garmin to settle into a comfortable but fast pace that I thought I could maintain.

After a bit I checked my Garmin and saw that I was running about a 7:30 pace. I was really surprised! That was quite a bit faster than I had planned (the plan was to go out at about 8:20 or so and then pick up the pace as the race went on if I felt good). I was nervous to push too hard too early and blow up at the end. I knew from my tempo runs and track work that I could run 4-5 miles at that pace, but wasn't sure about 13.1 miles. But, I was feeling really really good and wanted to race it all out, no regrets. I decided right there (at about mile 3.5) that I was going for it, and kept the pace at about 7:30.

Right around mile 4 we hit the first longer uphill pull. There were a few steep uphills in the first two miles (on gravel) but they were both very short. There were two longer uphill pulls in the course, and then the rest was all downhill or flat. Definitely a fast course! As we hit that first uphill section, I maintained my pace, and I could tell by his breathing that Josh was struggling to keep up on the uphill. He slowly drifted back, and that was the last I saw of him until the finish. I knew he'd do well though!

I picked people off as I went.There weren't a ton of runners ahead of me, but a thin, steady stream. I think a lot of them went out too fast. There were also walkers on the course (who had started an hour earlier) and it was way fun to cheer them on as I went by and to be cheered on by them as well. I saw Josh's boss's wife and several people we know from the community along the way.

I raced without music as usual, and really kept in tune with my body. I was "listening" for any sign that I was going to hard, and at the same time working hard to maintain the pace I was at. It really was quite perfect conditions... the sun was shining but not hot, the sky was super blue, the farmlands were super green, the mountains were beautiful and there were friendly people all along the course (very small, but very enthusiastic crowds, and familiar faces are awesome!)

At mile 5 I took my Accel Gel (I carried my handheld bottle and was sipping on Accelerade the whole time... I am a FAN), and was surprised that five miles were already done. It was going by really quickly! At each mile marker they had a picture of Jeremy (who the race was held to honor and celebrate), and many were pics of him with his wife and children. I had to stop looking at the pictures because I was getting choked up and I can't run when I cry!

The second of four aid stations was at mile 5.75. I had easily run past the one at mile 3, with my stomach feeling GREAT. As I was getting close to the second aid station I had a decision to make. Almost always I need a pit stop about six miles into a run. As I was coming into the aid station I felt like I could "go", but I didn't HAVE to go. I really wanted to keep running, but I was also really afraid to pass that portapotty and be regretting it big time half a mile down the road. (Seriously, when my stomach troubles hit there are no options... it is "go", or stop running). I went back and forth with myself and finally decided that I was GOING FOR IT in this race, and was going to take the chance and keep running and hope I didn't regret it.

I kept on running, and I was amazed at how easily I was keeping the pace. I was running hard and I was running fast, but it felt really, really good. I continued to pick people off, all of which were runners that had maintained a faster than 7:30 pace for six miles at that point, so were strong runners.

The sun got stronger and the temps warmed up some, but I kept taking little sips of my Accelerade and never got miserably hot. I enjoyed the course and continued to be pleasantly surprised with how quickly the miles were passing by. I felt fast, and I felt good and I was having so much FUN.

The third aid station was just before mile 9, and about a quarter of a mile out I knew that as much as I did NOT want to stop running, I needed a pitstop. There was no line, and I got in and out pretty quickly. It was a little discouraging to take off and be behind people I had worked so hard to pass, but I got right back to business and actually ended up ahead of where I had been in the "line up" before the pitstop.

I passed two guys we are friends with who are both pretty fast runners. One yelled out, "Hey! Nobody passes me!" and then the other guy said, "You have been my pacer the whole time. I have been watching your purple back. You are super steady and a really good pacer. Then you disappeared!" I said, "Sorry! I had to go to the bathroom!" He replied with, "You must be female!" and I answered with, "The last time I checked!" He said, "Go ahead, and I am going to use you as a pacer and then sprint past you at the finish". I yelled over my shoulder, "Good luck! I have a really strong final kick!" It was all said laughing and in good fun, and the little bit of trash talking gave me a boost. Again, it was just fun to have so many familiar faces on the race course. (And no, he didn't sprint past me at the finish). :)

We got to mile 10 and I couldn't believe that there were only three miles left to run. At this point I was feeling pretty darn excited about what my time would be, and was trying to calculate if I would be able to be under 1:40. I can't do math when I am running though! My initial goal was to be under 1:50, although I told Josh that I would really love to be under 1:45.  I didn't think under 1:40 was realistic even in my dreams before the race started, but at that point I knew that it was. I continued running at about a 7:30 pace and truly enjoyed the last few miles.

At mile 11 we went past the final aid station, and some of our very good friends (who own a physical therapy business and were sponsors of the race) were there and gave me a big cheer as I went by. I wanted to ask how many girls were ahead of me but there just wasn't time to talk and run fast. :)

At 2.5 miles to go, I saw one of our good friends, D., who is a new runner. She had taken the earlier start and was running her first half! D. has trained so hard and was really nervous but we knew she would do awesome! Another friend of ours had showed up to run the last three miles in with D., and when I saw them I gave them some huge cheers as I was running by and told D. she was doing great and was almost done! They gave me some cheers too and I was just all smiles.

With about two miles to go, I noticed a bright pink tank top up ahead. It was my friend K., who is a really fast runner (and one of the nicest people you could know). She had taken off at the beginning of the race and I hadn't seen her since. Before the race I had assumed the very best I could do was take second in our age group since she was running. When I saw her ahead of me and knew I had two miles to catch her I realized that it might just be possible to catch her and pass her. It wasn't anything personal against her, it was just that I had thought there was no way I could be faster than her, and then all of a sudden I realized maybe... just maybe... it was possible.

I didn't want to go out too hard too soon, so I continued to run at my pace and noticed I was still gaining ground on her. With one mile to go I picked up the pace. I passed several men that I had been trailing the entire race, and then  shortly before the 13 mile marker, I ended up shoulder to shoulder with K. She looked over at me and sprinted ahead. She wasn't going to let me pass her easily. It was a race! I thought, "Oh crap!" and figured that was that, but I took off as fast as I could after her. I knew right then that I had to choose to either fight or settle, and I did what I had done the whole race and chose to fight. I kept pushing and noticed she was slowing down, and before I knew it I had passed her. I was headed into the final stretch to the finish line and I just pushed and pushed and ran as hard as I could. I had a few seconds where I worried that I had started to sprint too early and that I had ran it too hard and that I was going to down just before the finish line, but I kept pushing and finished strong. I definitely finished with the gas tank empty though. I gave that race my all.

I passed a few more people in that final stretch and no one passed me. :)

When I told Jenny about the last two miles of the race and how I finished she said, "That's why you do Track Tuesday." Isn't she the greatest? Yup, the hard work (especially all the speed work I have done) was worth it, and it's just like a best friend to remind you of it when it matters most.

I saw one of Josh's best friends taking pictures at the finish line and saw that the clock said 1:38 as I ran by it (official time was 1:38:18), and I was THRILLED.  I really had not even imagined that a best case race would have me finishing that fast. This race REALLY has taught me not to doubt or underestimate or limit what I can do. :)

I knew that there had been at least two other girls that finished ahead of me, although I wasn't sure of their age groups or time. At that point I was just SO happy with my time and was feeling pretty confident that I may have placed. I got a lot of congrats from friends and neighbors who were at the finish line and that was really cool.

I stayed right by the finish line as I wanted to see Josh and our friends finish and to cheer them in. Smaller races are awesome, and there was an announcer calling out all of the names as they came in.

I cheered for K., who ended up finishing just about 30 seconds behind me and we congratulated each other on well-run races. I cheered in D. and then I saw Josh coming! He finished in 1:45, which is a 15 minute PR for him. He made a lot of jokes about his wife kicking his butt, but he really did a great job and ran super well. I am way proud of him!

I cheered in a few of my other Ragnar girls and other friends. My butt muscles were CRAZY tight... hurting they were so tight... so I kept trying to stretch a little but I did NOT want to miss Jenny or Alana, so I stayed right there at the finish line. Josh went and got me a water and watched out for the girls for me while I stretched a little. Soon we saw Alana and I cheered like crazy as she came in. She finished her first half in 1:58:02 and I was SO proud. Her first goal was to be under 2:05, and her husband told her that was "lame" and she should shoot for under 2 hours. So she did! Awesome!

And shortly after that Jenny came in at 2:02! Josh and I cheered like loons as Jenny came in and she looked great. This was just her second half and she beat her time from the last one. She did an awesome job.

We walked over to the finish line area and I had some chocolate milk, watermelon and banana. They had lots of great food and drink for the runners.  I looked like a five year old with the watermelon. I was sticky and drippy to my elbows but it tasted so good I didn't even care. We got our gear bags and I took off my running shoes and after walking around in the cold grass for a bit I put on my sandals. A bunch of friends came over and it was great to sit under the tent and stretch and chat with everybody.

They posted the results up on a wall. I was excited to see that I had won the 30-34 age group, and just a little bummed that I had missed the top three overall by just TWO seconds (ended up fourth female overall). In fact, I was only behind the overall female winner by a minute and two seconds. Sheesh if I could just figure out how to run without needing the pitstops!

We stuck around for the award ceremony and I got my first trophy of my whole life. :) I had won ribbons for horseback riding and a couple of plaques from school, but never a trophy. Josh kept calling it my "prestigious award" (any other Christmas Story fans out there?) They gave away a bunch of prizes in a raffle after the awards (including a $1200 treadmill!!), and it was such a nice finish to the race.

We snapped a few more pictures and then headed home. Everyone had had a great time and I can't wait to run this again next year.

If you live anywhere near here or are looking for an amazing half marathon to travel to, the Star Valley Half Marathon is an incredible race!

The course was beyond beautiful with the perfect amount of downhill and was just great overall. The weather here is always perfect this time of year (low 40's at race start, high 60's at finish).

Everything went super smoothly (which is even more impressive considering it was the first year of the race) and everything was very well organized and well planned.

Aid stations and portapotties were plentiful.

The small town love and support from volunteers and spectators is hard to beat.

The swag bag, tech shirt, medals, awards, and raffle prizes were SO much nicer than most races have (including expensive races like Rock N Roll Vegas!) and the entry fee is low ($40).

The race is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man, and you could feel the love and emotion of his family by the incredible amount of effort they put in to making this race a wonderful event for all.

And, if you come next year you can hang out with me. :)

Here are a few of our after pics. A few friends snapped pics of me running during the course so I will post those as I get them.

Here is me with my "prestigious award". :) It is a star in front of a mountain range (Star Valley) and has a little plaque on it that says, "Star Valley Half Marathon, First Place, Female, 30-34"

Alana, me and Jenny. Yay!
Josh and I! :)
 Jenny said I had to make a SUPER happy face, so here it is. :)

If you are interested here are my mile paces -
Mile 1 - 7:02 (very downhill)
Mile 2- 7:21
Mile 3 - 7:37
Mile 4- 7:33
Mile 5 - 7:18
Mile 6 - 7:29
Mile 7 - 7:48 (longest uphill stretch)
Mile 8 - 7:38
Mile 9 - 8:42 (potty stop, lost about a minute)
Mile 10 - 7:18
Mile 11 - 7:34
Mile 12 - 7:27
Mile 13 - 7:08
Final stretch! - 6:57

Did I mention how much fun this race was?? 

Surely an age group win, fourth female overall and a 26 minute PR is worthy of a donation to my good cause right?? Click here to make a donation to Team MEB (who I am running with in the NYC Marathon) please please and if you want to enter the fundraising giveaway which still has LOTS of awesome prizes waiting to be chosen, you can enter here (or just by making a donation).