Monday, September 12, 2016

Getting back to it.

It's been just over a month since my last blogging. And what a month it's been! The wedding went as planned, no big stress or drama.
Runners love cake.

Basically, the greatest cake topper of all time ever. Thanks Melanie!
After a successful wedding, we began the successful honeymoon. It wasn't without its struggles, though. My car broke down 6 hours into our trip.
We had the nicest tow truck drivers. It was great. Thanks AAA!

We spent a lot of time in tow trucks...
My car had to sit in a shop in Boise, Idaho while we secured a rental car and continued the honeymoon. We couldn't miss our race! We managed to get to Cascade Locks in time for packet pick up that night. Thank goodness. The race was incredibly beautiful and I would have cried like a baby if we had missed it.

The race starts and finishes at Cascade Locks, and during the course of the race you run over 5 different bridges. The first and most impressive of the bridges is the Bridge of the Gods (that's also the name of the race).

Our view from the Washington side of the race. The bridge links Washington and Oregon together.
Fun fact: the Bridge of the Gods is not solid. You can see the water below you. And that is slightly terrifying as you run across it. I was running very gingerly and carefully until we reached the other side.
It's a long way down.
And he's allllllll mine.
After the surviving the bridge, we got to meander through the beautiful Oregon forest surrounding the area. Everything is so stunning and green.
The mermaid and the Scotsman take Oregon by storm.
I guess you can tell we spent a good deal of time taking pictures and not running. This race was definitely not about our finish time. We wanted to get the most out of our entry fee, so we did.
This is the "Stairway to Heaven" section of the course. It was FUN. Because 4 flights of stairs in the middle of a race is always fun. 
Getting close to the turnaround point. Alas, we didn't get to run on those two higher bridges. 
While we took our sweet time, we were still nowhere near the last finishers of the race. The race offers a very generous cutoff time, allowing for walkers to complete the course with time to spare. It was a wonderful, no pressure race, and they served up a great little lunch on the island in the middle of the river afterward. If you're looking for a wonderful destination race, I can't recommend this one enough.
Obligatory swag shot. Half marathon number 82, in case you were keeping track.
After the race, we continued our honeymoon through Portland, then up the coast of Oregon and into Seattle. We managed to get a few training runs in (although not nearly what we should have been doing, but hey, we were on vacation). It's a good thing we managed to get some runs in while we were gone, because I had signed Scott and I up for a marathon happening two weeks after we got back home. Oops.

So we arrived at the start line of the East Canyon Marathon a bit undertrained. But we sure as hell weren't going to back out of the race. We are stubborn and we like medals.
Here we are at mile 14, pretending that we feel fine and we can totally make it another 12 miles. 
It was the inaugural year, and there were only two bus loads of runners competing. That spells trouble for me on a good day. Being as undertrained as I was, I knew that we could very possibly be last. Scott could have finished hours sooner but he decided that we were going to do the whole thing together. He's sappy like that. 

Even though we were moving at the pace of a snail trapped in molasses, it felt like the miles went by quickly. We'd pass a mile marker and what seemed like mere moments later, we would pass another one. I guess that means we were enjoying the course and each others' company so much that we didn't notice the time ticking on by.
There was also a delightful selection of haunted buildings to distract our attention. 
 The canyon was popular with cyclists that day, and part way through the race I hear one yelling my name. My friend Devin was out finishing up his training for LOTOJA. It's always a bonus to get some surprise encouragement mid-race.

Even with the mid-race boost, we were starting to feel our lack of training. It was around mile 20 that things started really hurting. And not just in the "oh I hit the wall" way. The scenery was still lovely, so we tried focusing on that.
See? Super neat scenery.
At this point, we knew we were in last place. The support van would check on us once in awhile, but they were never annoyed or belittling to us about our pace. I appreciated that more than they could ever know. As we were approaching mile 23, we could see a figure ahead, hobbling down the road. We instantly started trying to figure out if he was in the race or not. Because if we could over take the injured and hobbling man, we could totally not be last.

Now y'all know that I've finished dead last before. More than once, even. It's really not a bad thing. It didn't ruin my life or stop me from running a race ever again (obviously). But I really didn't want Scott to come in last on his first marathon because he decided to stick with me. He just wanted to get to the finish line so he could sit down, I'm not sure he cared what order we got there in...
It turns out that the poor man, who was really more of a poor teenage boy, was in the race and he had messed up his ankle pretty badly. But he was still trucking along towards the finish line the best that he could. I was seriously proud of him for continuing to push through. At this point, Scott and I were picking landmarks to run to, then walk to. It's the only thing that got us through those last three miles.

Okay, see that mailbox? We'll start running at that mailbox. Then we can walk at that stop sign up ahead there. Got it? Let's go! Oh wow. That stop sign seems really far away. Is it actually moving away from us?! Why aren't we any closer?!  We made it! Phew. Okay... see that parked truck up there? We'll run when we get to that truck. Hmm. We got to that truck faster than I would have liked, but here we go!

Three miles of that and we were approaching the finish line! Finally! And then we got lost... Not lost like we didn't know where the finish was, but lost like we couldn't tell the route that they wanted us to take to get there. It was at the Morgan high school, and there was approximately a zillion people in the area for multiple high school sporting events. There were cars and people everywhere. We followed the path that the arrows pointed to, and ended up running the wrong way towards the finish arch. The finish line crew looked as confused as we were. The distance on our watches wasn't at 26.2 yet, so we ran past the arch, kept running up the road, then turned around and made it to the finish line with the proper distance.
Marathon #22 done.
So having survived our undertrained marathon, I, of course, ran another race the next weekend. Because I love my husband and didn't want him to divorce me after a few weeks of marriage, I did not sign him up to run it with me. The Nebo half marathon is wonderful. The hardcore followers of this blog know that is was my very first half marathon, 5 years ago. It's a fast course, coming down Payson canyon and finishing at the high school not far from the mouth of the canyon. I love that there's only about a mile of the course that goes through neighborhoods.

Right before the race started, one of Scott's friends, Pam,  recognized me we started chatting. It turns out that her pace and my pace are basically the same. So we ended up running the whole race together. I was tired, and it was only Pam's second half marathon. And of course neither of us let on that we were both dying, so we continued to keep pushing each other through to the end. I know I would have had a much slower finish time if I hadn't been worried about slowing her down.
Finishing up half marathon #83. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.
Scott did run up the course to meet me, since I had signed him up for some later races, he couldn't stop running completely after the marathon. He caught up with us just before mile 10 and ran us into the finish, getting some great photos, like he always does.
We're almost done! Wheeeeeee! Also, isn't that a great view? Running in Utah never disappoints. 
After we finished the race, we hung out for a bit and waited for Jamie to finish up the marathon. I will need to run the full marathon at this event one of these days... Jamie was having an incredible race and finished with a shiny new marathon PR! To celebrate, we went and ate breakfast burritos. Because nothing says victory like breakfast burritos.
This race always has the most beautiful medals.
Some of you may be wondering if I'm going to talk about the Bear Lake 50 now. Well, I'm not. Mostly because the race got moved to a later date. Also, I can't run it at the later date anyway, which is actually totally fine with me. Spoiler alert: it might have killed me. With the wedding, honeymoon, and house hunt, I am just not ready to tackle that distance. But we are only a week or two away from closing on a house that we love, which happens to be less than a mile from one of my favorite running trails. I've got a game plan that's going to take effect once we get settled. I'm going to get serious and get back on track. I'm going to get my nutrition sorted. I'm going to stop neglecting my cross training. I am going to spend the rest of this year and 2017 prepping for my next 100 mile attempt in March of 2018. Things this big need serious time and preparation. A fact which I blatantly ignored on my last attempt.

So stay tuned for all of that. Because we all know how the best laid plans tend to go! Until then, happy running!