Posts Tagged ‘family’

Park City Trail Series 10K

Date: July 8, 2017

GarminConnect_20170709-182235Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)

Time: 1:15:33

What a great race! I loved this second race of the four-race Park City Trail Series and already can’t wait for the 15K next month.

The weather was perfect, I got to run with my daughter and one of our dogs, and we had a really great time.

I don’t do a lot of trail running, but I am really enjoying it. It feels more “fun” than a road race even though I have to really watch my footing (or perhaps because of that). The course included two main elevation gains and drops, and the last mile-and-a-half was the fastest part of the course–which I loved. I was also reminded of the increased technical skills needed–I saw two people fall during the course and a woman had to visit the medical tent at the end of the race due to a huge gash on her forehead. Yikes.

I must also give a shout out to The North Face. They are a sponsor of the series and have IMG_20170709_183820-1been very generous with their give-aways. After the 5K race, I was lucky enough to win a drawing for one of their backpacks. This race, they were giving out free dog collars to all of the dogs who ran the race. Awesome.

The aid stations were very dog-friendly as well–with bowls of water for the pups who were running.

Thank you to Salt Lake Running Company for always putting on such great events. I’m grateful to live in such a great place for outdoor activities and people who encourage others to get outside and be active in our beautiful state. There are lots of ways here to #havemorefun

IMG_20170708_093359

 

 

Park City Trail Series 5K

Date: June 10, 2017

Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)

Time: 34:50GarminConnect

My daughter asked me awhile back about doing this race series and of course I agreed. She thought it would be fun because it’s dog friendly; I thought it would be fun because it means I get to hang out with her.

Today was a beautiful day for a race. The race announcer said there were over 500 participants, and we also saw lots of dogs. As far as I’m concerned, this was a perfect way to start a day: sunshine, mountains, running, and getting to hang out with one of my kids and one of my dogs. Loved it.

I also wore my “Stop the Clot” gear for the first time. Recently, I ordered a shirt and a hat from a fellow runner and blood clot survivor. He is doing such good work to spread awareness of clots and I’m gaining a whole new network of supporters. There are lots of us who have survived DVTs or PEs and it’s pretty inspiring. Not everyone is so lucky.

Next month: the 10K!!

5Finish

#StopTheClot

 

Back on the horse. SLC Half Marathon

Date: April 22, 2017

Behind Utah Capitol Building as we neared Memory Grove.

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Time: 2:22:04

Distance: 13.1 (13.35)

I think this was the fifth time I’ve run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, but this year, the course was completely different–for the better! The race has always started at the University of Utah and ended up downtown but taking the beginning of the course towards the capitol and down Memory Grove was a great change. The change resulted in a more scenic, more downhill course overall.

The best part? My daughter, Kaitie, ran with me and she did amazing. I was so happy to have her company at the start and at the finish.

#resist

After days of rain, we were lucky that we had a beautiful, clear day for the race. It was cold, however, and we were glad we wore long running tights, long-sleeved shirts, and covered our ears. As a nod to Science March Day, I added my #resist button to my headband. Other racers were in solidarity and I saw a race shirt that said, “Racing for science.”

I wasn’t sure how I would do since this was the first race I have done since I was forced to walk the January race in Hawaii. My training runs have been slow and I’ve really taken it easy following my blood clot diagnosis in December. Also, while I had gotten in my longer-mileage runs, I hadn’t been so diligent in getting all of my shorter runs in. I was happily surprised, then, to have finished as fast as I did. And, I felt good! At about mile 5, I could feel the spot in my right lung that signaled the location of my blood clot in December, but it was more of a dull ache and nothing else. After a few minutes, the nagging sensation went away and at no point did I feel short of breath or concerned. I now have renewed hope that I’m back on track as far as my ability to keep running goes, and I’m even more motivated to continue my workouts.

Guess I’ll keep signing up for races, keep going to Bikram Yoga, and keep taking my dogs to the dog park.

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Best sign? “Run as if United wants your seat.”

Cold start!

shirt & medal–luggage tag!

Finish at old courthouse downtown.

Great day for a race!

Aloha Series (50th state)

Date: January 19, 2017

Location: Kapa’a, Hawaii (Kaua’i) (Aloha Series)

Time: 3:31:05

Distance: 13.1

We did it. Our bucket list goal of completing a half marathon in all fifty states has been accomplished.

both

Celebrating the completion of  a half marathon in all 50 states the year we both turn 50!

I should be happy, but in all honesty, my feeling of accomplishment is tinged with some sadness–kind of like a kid the day after Christmas when they’ve opened all of their presents after weeks of anticipation.

I’ve put off writing this post because I don’t really know where to begin. Do I start with the story about how ten years ago, my best friend from college suggested we run a half marathon in every state? Do I describe our wonderful, week-long Hawaiian vacation? Or, perhaps I start with the story about how I was in the emergency room at the hospital only three weeks before the race?

I’ll start with the emergency room story.

Early in December, I suddenly noticed a sharp pain in my ribs along the lower, right side towards my back. I was sure it was a pulled muscle and didn’t pay too much attention to it. After about three or four days of aggravating pain, I got a massage. The pain went away–further confirming my initial thought that I had pulled a muscle.

For the next two or three weeks, I went about my daily routine–still running, going to yoga, and looking forward to visiting my parents in Arizona during Christmas.

While in Arizona, the pain returned–coincidentally, the next day after a rousing game of Pickle Ball. “There’s that muscle strain again,” I thought. “I really should have taken it easy yesterday.” I was sure that a few days of rest would make it go away again.

I enjoyed the time in Arizona with my family, continued running every other day, and noticed that the pain only hurt when I lay on my back or took a deep breath. At that point, I started considering other possible ailments. Pinched nerve? Kidney infection? Gall bladder attack? While I was up during the day and moving around, though, the pain really wasn’t all that apparent, so I certainly wasn’t worried that it was anything serious.

On December 30th, I drove the eleven hours home without any pain. I was just looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep in my own bed after being gone for a week. A good night’s sleep, though, would elude me. That evening, as I tossed and turned, trying to find a position that didn’t hurt, I finally realized that I probably should go to the hospital.

After getting to the emergency room at about 1:30 am, I learned that the symptom of “sharp, stabbing pain,” and saying, “it hurts to take a deep breath” gets immediate attention.

The hospital staff was great. In the midst of my fear and agony, they tried to keep the mood lighthearted and reassuring. I also appreciated how they explained everything they were doing and why. Those first couple of hours included an IV, blood tests, giving me Morphine, and following the other normal intake procedures. The blood test prompted a CT scan, which confirmed that I had a pulmonary embolism. A giant blood clot that, I found out later, was taking up a third of my right lung.The size of it also prompted the doctors to order an ultrasound of my heart to find out if my heart had been damaged as a result. Luckily, it wasn’t.

I was immediately admitted to the hospital in the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve, and enjoyed the holiday weekend pumped full of anti-coagulants and pain medication.

The three days I spent in the hospital flew by as I mostly slept, and I looked forward to going home–not really letting the gravity of what had happened sink in. In fact, during the first conversation I had with the doctor, I asked if I could still go to Hawaii and run the half marathon I had been planning for so long. He kind of chuckled, then realized I was serious. After some thought, he said it would probably be okay. There would be no restriction on airplane travel, because I was now on anti-coagulants, and he said as long as I had been training (I had), I could do the race as long as I didn’t over exert myself. He said a slow jog or walking would be most appropriate.

So there you have it. I was still able to go. And, I was still not really comprehending what had just happened to me.

My finish time was the slowest I’ve ever had, but I didn’t care one bit. After everything I had gone through, I finished it, dammit. And that’s really all I cared about.

Other things I cared about? Going to Hawaii with my husband, kids, and parents, and celebrating my friend Denise’s 50th birthday while we were there. That whole week was great.

Finishing the 50 half marathons in 50 states goal the year my very dear friend and I both turned 50 is certainly an accomplishment worth celebrating.

Again, I’m somewhat sad it’s over. It’s been an emotional journey as much as a physical journey, and it’s hard to let it go.

People have been asking me, “What now?” a lot. No, I don’t have the desire to now run a full marathon in all fifty states, do a race in all seven continents, start running ultra marathons, or start doing triathlons. Frequent walks with my dogs, a few running miles, yoga classes twice a week, and an occasional race sounds perfect.

What I most look forward to now is the ability to sign up for races purely based on whether or not they sound fun, and which friends and family they bring me together with. Races for me have always provided the motivation I need to exercise regularly, and now I don’t have to plan my races a year or two out and decide where to send my registration fees based solely on whether or not “I need the state.”

The 50 states are DONE. Now I can choose races based on so many other reasons.

group-shot

Our entire entourage celebrating with us at the finish. What great support!!

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Post scripts.

The race put on my Mainly Marathons was incredible. An entire blog post devoted just to the race would be needed to fully explain how beautiful the course was and how great the organizers are. Click here for a great article about the race from The Garden Island newspaper.

My parents. I am so grateful that my parents cheered us on and have provided unwavering support all of these years. The week vacationing with them in Hawaii was a blast.

My kids. One of my kids stayed home to house sit and take care of our pets because it couldn’t get the week off from work. (Thank you, Evan–we missed you). The other two, Kaitlin and Keil, completed the race as well. The two of them made the experience all that more special.

My husband. I also am incredibly grateful that Orlando was able to spend the week with us. His job as an airline pilot often prevents him from getting to every family function. Not only did he get to spend the whole vacation with us, but he walked with me for almost two miles of the race and also got some great film footage. He has been my biggest supporter over this past decade and never once questioned why I wanted to do this or suggest I should be spending my money on better things. Thank you, Orlando, from the bottom of my heart. You are an amazing, supportive husband and I love you.

Denise. We’ve been through three decades of experiences together and I thank you. Thank you for coming up with this crazy idea, for helping me stay young, and for keeping it real. I’ve learned so much by being your friend. (Hug).

My health. I expect to be on an anti-coagulant for at least a year and I’ll have doctor’s visits to make sure I’m on the right path towards healing. I still feel like the news is still too new for it to completely sink in. Also, despite the occasional soreness or run-down feeling, I generally feel really good and pretty energetic so it’s hard for me to remember to take it easy. I often need to remind myself that what happened to me was very serious and could have taken my life. I continue to read as much as I can about pulmonary embolisms and will forever be grateful that I was prompted to go to the hospital when I did. Sometimes pain is a blessing.

Future races. I’m already registered for three upcoming races and want to do more. In time, I will learn more about whether or not it’s possible for me to regain my full lung capacity and how much I’ll be able to exert myself–if at all. Only time will tell.

My yoga practice. I can’t close this post without giving a shout-out to Bikram Yoga. I am 100% convinced that yoga was a huge contributor to the positive outcome I had health-wise. I didn’t need supplemental oxygen while I was in the hospital and my heart and lungs remained strong through all of this. I attribute that, in part, to my running. I also think Bikram Yoga had an even bigger influence on how well my body coped through what essentially was a life threatening condition. Namaste.

Alaska Half

Date: August 20, 2016

Location: Anchorage, Alaska (Skinny Raven Half)

Time: 2:27:12

Distance: 13.1

The 49th state is my 49th state! What a great feeling to be this close to my 50-states goal. This was a whirlwind of a trip, but one made more meaningful because my daughter and one of my sons completed this race with me and my whole family came along for the trip. For Keil, this was his first race ever and even with minimal training, he finished in 2:33.21. I was really proud of him and hope this experience sparked an interest in racing and running for him.

KeilSkinnyRaven

Keil

Kait outraced us all and I was really proud of her 2:18:55 time. Both Kait and Keil plan to run Hawaii with me in January, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Denise was also able to run this race, and that made it even more meaningful. This was her 47th race, but her race calendar allows us to run Hawaii together as our 50th state. After working towards this goal for ten years, it’s so nice to see our plans come together.

I wish we would have had more time to spend in Alaska. On Friday, we barely had time to fly in, get over to the convention center and pick up our packets (then buy Kait a new pair of running shoes since she forgot to pack the ones she had been training in–oops), and grab dinner. The next morning was the race, we showered and grabbed food, then all flew out SUPER early on Sunday morning.

 

SkinnyRavenKaitcropped

Kait

On the plus side, Orlando and I can now able to say that we have been to all fifty states in the country. He was able to accomplish that thanks to his extensive traveling as an airline pilot, and I can thank my 50-states half marathon goal for being the reason I have visited so many states.

While staying in Anchorage, we used airbnb for the first time and couldn’t have been happier. Renting a house for the whole group of us was a lot cheaper that it would have been to get hotel rooms plus it allowed us to have more shared space and kitchen facilities–I would definitely consider that option again in the future.

The race itself was a mostly flat out-and-back course and, despite my irritation that it was raining the whole entire race, I actually ended up enjoying it. The 60-degree temperature with very light rain made for very enjoyable conditions–not too hot and not too cold. The water stations were plentiful, the crowd support was good, I loved the race medals, and the only complaint I would have has to do with the width of the running path in some portions of the course. Because it was an out-and-back, it got a bit crowded at some points. All-in-all, though, it was great and one I would definitely recommend.

Next up: Hawaii in January! Can’t wait.

 

SkinnyRavenStart

Race start. Kait, Keil, and I are at the far right.

 

How to Describe the 2013 Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay? Oh, My Heck!

Date: June 21 & 22, 2013

Distance: 198.3 miles

Location: Logan to Park City, Utah

Team of 12 11 10

Time: 35:36:28

OurVan

Our van. Covered with two days worth of Wasatch dust.

This year’s Ragnar experience was fun but it was also more challenging than normal–even more difficult than last year’s race when I was assigned the infamous “Ragnar” leg. At least then, I only had to run my assigned three legs and not a surprise “bonus” one.

This year, my fourth time running the Wasatch Back, I joined my friend and co-worker, Jennifer, on her relay team. Jennifer and I ran our first Ragnar Relay together in 2008 when she was on my first team. Since 2009, she has been team captain of her own team that is made up mostly of her family members. Her team is creatively named, “Oh, My Heck,” which is a familiar Utah colloquialism and serves as a “Mormon-acceptable” way to express exasperation without using profanity. I would have to say, “Oh, my heck” summed up this weekend perfectly.

We blamed it on the full moon and the year “13.”

The first set of challenges started with team members having to back out at the last minute–one team member had to leave for work-required trip to China about a week before the race, and another team member punctured a lung the day before and had to be replaced just hours before the race. Thankfully, he is going to be fine, but a punctured lung certainly disqualifies one from running a race.

Starting line in Logan, UT at the Utah State campus

Starting line in Logan, UT at the Utah State campus

Jennifer was able to replace the two last-minute drops (thank you, Molly and Tyler) but, as it turns out, two other remaining team members were unable to complete all or some of their legs due to illness.

In our van (van #1), Marcus woke up the morning of the race with severe flu symptoms that included a fever and diarrhea. With a brave face and all the intentions of running, despite his illness, he packed up his gear in the van and joined us as we drove to the starting line. As Jennifer was running the first leg of the race, it became quite apparent that Marcus would not be able to run–he was just too sick with different kinds of “runs”–so we dropped him off at his sister, Ashley’s house (another team member in van #1), to rest and recover.

We greeted Jennifer at the end of her 7.7 “very hard” leg with the news that Marcus would not be running and we would need someone to cover his 6.7-mile “hard” leg that was due to start in about one-and-a-half hours. After looking at all of the van #1 legs, and taking all of our levels of “running readiness” and training levels into account, we decided it made the most sense for Jennifer to run Marcus’s first leg. Molly would run his second leg (4.9 “moderate,”) and I would run his last leg (7.5 miles “hard”).

OMHshirtFront

Our team shirt–designed by Ashley and Ryan.

So, poor Jennifer had to knock out the equivalent of OVER a half marathon early into the race when she already had some of the most difficult legs in van #1–and the highest total mileage. Lucky for us she is a really great runner and was up to the challenge. So overall, instead of running a total of 20.9 miles, Jennifer would put in 27.6 miles over the two days. Instead of running 14.4 total miles, Molly would run 19.3; and, instead of running 17.2 miles, I would run 24.7.

Oh, my heck!

The other van had all of their runners with them–but they, too, faced illness throughout the weekend. Tyler, the last-minute substitute, began vomiting at the beginning and end of his first run, and Sidney experienced severe wheezing and barking-type coughs after her first leg. Tyler chalked up his puking episodes to having just come off of a week-long series of football practices and decided he was just exhausted and dehydrated to begin with. Luckily, he ended up feeling well enough to run his remaining two legs. Sidney, however, had to sit out her two other legs and have those covered by two other runners in van #2.

Back of team shirt. The shoe print includes the course map--cool!

Back of team shirt. The shoe print includes the course map–cool!

We were all concerned about Sydney’s breathing symptoms and her van members kept a close eye on her all day Friday and into Saturday. She improved as time passed and once she got closer to the end of the race, she was checked out by a doctor, who examined her and administered Albuterol. She likely experienced an episode of exercise-induced asthma and was told to follow up with her own doctor as soon as she could.

My Personal Race

First off, the weather for the race was perfect–we had clear skies, only a slight breeze, slightly cooler-than-normal temperatures (which were perfect for running), and the night runs included a beautiful, full moon watching over us.

I also really loved that my daughter, Kait, joined me for this race–her first Ragnar Relay. That made it special, despite our team challenges. I loved sharing this experience with her and I’m really proud of how well she did. She didn’t really train for the race and still managed to finish strong–and with very little soreness the next day. How she managed that, I have no idea. I trained for weeks prior to the race, even making sure to include hill work, and my quads are screaming the day after. She was runner #2 (7.7 miles–very hard, 3.0 miles–easy, 3.3 miles–easy).

As a surprise, Orlando and our dog even met up with us to check in just before Kait started her second leg, in Morgan, Utah. That was a nice perk along the way.

About 18,000 people ran the race this year, and it was the tenth anniversary of the event so the atmosphere was especially festive and celebratory. I was so glad to be able to take part.

My first leg, Off Avon pass into Eden, UT

My first leg, Off Avon pass into Eden, UT

Leg #6 (6.9 miles–1:06:48)

I was runner #6, so I was assigned legs 6, 18, and 30. My first leg started at about 1:45 p.m. The first 1.5 miles continued the previous 7.4 miles uphill climb to the top of Avon pass–about 6500 feet elevation. I was so glad I didn’t have to do leg #5–Molly’s leg was called, “What the Hill?” and it’s a grueling, steep, challenging run–made even more challenging due to the dirt road and rocks. Several people have told me they think this leg is far more difficult than the Ragnar leg. It’s not as steep, but it’s longer and more technically challenging.

I couldn’t even run the entire first 1.5 miles of my leg–I walked part of it. After I got past the first 1.5 miles, though, I LOVED the fast, downhill run. My normal running pace on flat surfaces is usually about 10:00 or 10:30 but on the downhill portion of this leg, I was running about 8:20–having to take care that I was keeping my footing and not rolling an ankle on all the rocks as vans were passing me and kicking up dust. The last 3.5 miles were paved, flatter, and took runners into the town of Eden, where our van met up with van #2 and they took over for the next six legs.

This was a great way for me to start–I felt energized from being able to do a fun, downhill route–but I was also covered in grime and had breathed in a ton of dirt. My Ragnar Race had officially started.

The next exchange point was at Snowbasin Resort and, while we waited for van #2 to run their first legs, we had time to rest, change, and eat real food. Kait and I enjoyed a cheese burger and fries–fueling up for our remaining runs that night and the next morning. And, yes–it’s true, those two burgers, fries, and water cost $23.00. I only wish I could get in on that racket. I guess hungry runners will pay a lot for a hot meal. The usual running snacks of crackers, cheese sticks, beef jerky, trail mix, and peanut butter do get old pretty fast.

I couldn't resist correcting grammar while at Snowbasin. Too bad I couldn't get to them all.

I couldn’t resist correcting grammar while at Snowbasin. Too bad I couldn’t get to them all.

Leg #18 (8.3 miles–1:34:15)

This leg, that I started at about 11:00 p.m., was the most dreaded of my three assigned legs. Dreaded because it was during the night and dreaded because it was all uphill, with a total elevation gain of almost 1000 feet. I like running in cooler weather, however, so it wasn’t entirely bad–just tiring and long. (And past my bedtime).

This part of the course goes up East Canyon and along the East Canyon Reservoir–creating a spectacular, moonlit scene. I didn’t listen to music during this portion of the race because I wanted to enjoy the peace of the night run, which I certainly enjoyed as I also took glimpses upwards to see the stars in the clear night sky. I ran in the quiet and calm of darkness, hearing only the sloshing of my water bottle and the steady rhythm of my foot falls, sounds that were only occasionally  interrupted as other runners struck up brief conversations or shared words of encouragement as we would pass each other. I handed off the team baton at about 12:30 a.m. and our van #1 took off to drive to the next exchange point.

Leg 18 East Canyon

Leg 18 East Canyon

The Middle-of-the-Night Detour and Near Collision

What is normally supposed to be about a 30-minute drive to our next exchange, took us over two hours because we were dutifully following race packet instructions to go a different route–one that would lessen traffic congestion along the race course. It certainly accomplished that, but we felt as though we were the only van that followed their suggested long, convoluted route because we saw almost no other vans along the way. Everyone else was smarter and decided to maximize their rest time rather than drive much further than they had to. And, to top it all off, we almost hit a deer during our drive.

I was driving when I saw a deer dart quickly into the middle of the road. My rural Montana-trained driving instincts kicked in and I made a slight braking action with a slight adjustment of the steering wheel to successfully avoid collision. Thank goodness. That outcome certainly could have turned out differently than it did. I guess we weren’t entirely unlucky this weekend.

Our Sleeping Quarters

We finally arrived to our next exchange point after 2:30 a.m. and had the choice of sleeping in an open field or staying in the van. We expected van #2 to arrive at about 6:15 a.m. and it was really cold out at that point, so we all just tried to sleep in the van. Imagine five of us crammed in a minivan–exhausted from running twice that day. We made the best of it and I got the especially luxurious driver spot where I contended with a front seat that didn’t go back very far and the steering wheel. Sorry to my fellow Ragnarians who were also trying to sleep in that lot–I accidentally sounded the horn as I struggled to get my sleeping bag spread out. Oops. Really didn’t mean to do that.

Saturday Morning

Jennifer woke early and prepared for her first run of the day. She was ready to go and we were all awake by 5:30 a.m.–expecting our teammates to be meeting us soon at the exchange. We learned, however, that they had lost a lot of time during their night runs and were about two hours behind schedule. So, we waited in the van, not able to go back to sleep, until they arrived at about 8:00 a.m.

Up to Jordanelle.

Up to Jordanelle.

Leg #27 (7.7 miles–1:27:51)

This was the leg I completed for Marcus and, boy, was it killer. I started it at about 10:00 a.m. and it was already getting pretty hot. The route included some rolling hills, but overall, it felt mostly uphill to me–with about a 600-foot elevation gain. This leg was really enjoyable, though, and I was rewarded with a most beautiful view of the Jordanelle Reservoir at the top. The support along this portion of the race was really great–with several water stations and volunteers spraying us down with water (which I like).

It was during this leg that I met a runner who seemed to be struggling a bit so I asked him if he was doing okay. He assured me he would be fine but said he was from Louisiana, where running below sea level on flat terrain had certainly not prepared him for mountainous running at 5000 to 9000 feet elevation. Poor guy.

Had this been my first leg, I would have enjoyed it a lot more, but at this point, I was running on a serious lack of sleep and was feeling pretty spent from the miles I had already run. I couldn’t stop thinking about having to run again in just a couple of hours.

Leg 30 (2.1 miles–22:45)

How funny to say that a two-mile run can be the hardest run of all, but it was.

Leg 30 in Heber

Leg 30 in Heber

By the time I had to run this, starting at about 1:15 p.m.,I was completely spent. My quads and my glutes were killing me and I was just so tired. All I could think about was a hot shower and my own bed. I couldn’t get to either of those things, though, until I knocked this one out.

This leg was just a quick in-town run in Heber on flat roads–a run that would normally have taken me 18-20 minutes. Instead, after Molly handed me the team baton, I shuffled away like the stiff, old lady I was–taking little baby steps and just gutting it out.

After getting through the first half mile, I loosened up a bit, but I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t fun. I was hot, I was sore, and I just wanted things to be over. I was so happy to hand off the baton to van #2 at the exchange and know that the 2013 Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay was in the books.

Why do this?

Why spend a bunch of money and give up an entire weekend for such a crazy pursuit?

Relay races are not just about the running. This year’s race bibs included the saying, “Connect, Conquer, Celebrate” and I think that captures this race–and many others–quite well.

Connect

Many families and friends run events like this as a way to connect or re-connect. I, for one, spent more time with Kait in this one weekend than we often get to. She is probably tired of me after being forced to hang out with me for hours on end, but I relished the two straight days we spent together. I was really proud of her positive attitude and her willingness to try something challenging and new. I loved getting to see a slightly different side of her. I hope she wants to do this, or something similar, with me again.

These races are also a way for strangers to connect. People who have never met often become teammates and very quickly get to know each other surprisingly well in a short amount of time. Racers and volunteers–also strangers to each other–share the race connection and strike up conversations easily throughout the weekend. This supportive, positive environment keeps me coming back year after year, and it’s one thing that draws me to running. Most runners I’ve met are down-to-earth, open, and fun to be around. No stand-offish competition here–we are all drawn together to have fun, celebrate life, enjoy being outdoors, and be supportive of each other.

It's all about the shirt and medal. And the car sticker.

It’s all about the shirt and medal. And the car sticker.

Conquer

A very hilly, high altitude race that takes runners almost 200 miles along back country roads and up and down three mountain passes IS challenging. Most runners, like myself, like to challenge themselves and love the feeling of having accomplished something that is difficult and pushes one’s personal limits. I, like many others, find that to be quite rewarding and we are proud of having met the challenge. That’s why, today, cars all over this state (and beyond) will have a 2013 Ragnar car sticker in their back windows and why hundreds of travelers are wearing their newly earned race shirts on their flights home.

Celebrate

Every race I’ve run includes some sort of celebration at the end. It might be as simple as being handed a finisher’s medal and a bagel, or it might be much more elaborate–an all-out party with full meals, drinks, music, and gifts. That’s because we runners sign up for races and we run to celebrate. We celebrate our accomplishments, we celebrate friendships, and we celebrate life.

Was this year’s race tough? Yeah. Will I run a Ragnar Relay again? I sure hope so. And I also hope I can get as many of my family members and friends as I can to join me.

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Favorite sayings and team names I saw on vans along the way?

“Not Fast but Furious”

“I just swore in my head a little.”

“You call THIS a fun family reunion?”

“We should have stayed at work.”

“I thought this was going to be a 5K.”

“Baby’s got Wasatch Back.”

“11 sinners and Matt”

“Thirsty from eating all these pretzels.”

5K for Boston

Date: April 22, 2013

Distance: 5K

Time: 30?

Exactly one week after the Boston Marathon bombing, my local running store

We both hate this picture, but it proves we were there!

We both hate this picture, but it proves we were there!

hosted a free 5K run for Boston. They sold commemorative “Keep Running” shirts and 100% of the proceeds will go to the victims of the bombing.

Just before the race started, they announced that over $10,000 had been raised.

Before the race began, we started with the crowd-pleasing “Sweet Caroline”–you have no idea how much Utahns love Neil Diamond–followed by a moment of silence, and then the singing of the National Anthem.

This race was made even more special because I got to run it with my daughter Kait–who, by the way, has also agreed to run the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay race with me in June.

Yay.