Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Phoenix + Pool = Heaven

I am in Phoenix! After an unexpected overnight layover in San Francisco, I made it to Arizona! I didn't make standby on my first flight, so I got bumped to the next SF flight. It got into California just 10 minutes after the last flight to Phoenix left for the night. Luckily I have a very dear friend in the area who came and rescued me. We went out for mexican food at El Farolito in the mission district and then went for a drive over the Golden Gate bridge and took in the sights at the lookout point. It was a perfect San Francisco evening. The next morning we were up at 3:45 to head back to the airport. The airline gods smiled on me and I had a whole row to myself. I laid out on the seats and promptly fell asleep. I woke up in Arizona and my good friend Natalie picked me up at the airport. We spent the day catching up, eating popsicles, and I may have or may not have taken a 3 hour nap. 

After my nap we headed over to the pool paradise.   It is averaging 110 degrees here this week and the pool was AMAZING. I haven't been swimming in a LONG time and it felt so good to be back in the water. I can't even remember the last time I swam at an outdoor pool, and I will tell you that I would move here and endure this heat everyday if it meant that I could swim in a beautiful outdoor pool with crystal clear water and the sun shining on me from the heavens. Everything was right with the world when I was in that pool. 

We swam for a good hour and then came home to watermelon. Did I mention this place is heavenly? Oh, I did? Let me do it again. Heavenly.

At about 6:00 my Emily friend was off of work and came to fetch me. I. Love. Her. No. Joke. In fact, I would like to take this moment to say that I have the best friends in all the world. That is all.

We went to dinner at the Pita Jungle (which I HIGHLY recommend to any Phoenix area residents) and then we went back to her house and chatted away most of the evening. Tonight I am back to Natalie's! There will be more swimming, the Phoenix Art Museum, and dinner with her bf who I am dying to meet.

I think that I may never make it back to Utah...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mink Creek

I am sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight to San Francisco --> Phoenix. I just came back from Mink Creek, ID. Last minute travel is all the rage! I left for Mink Creek Saturday night and then had my friend drop me at the airport on our way back this morning.

I was in Mink Creek because a good friend of mine is house sitting for his uncle who has a summer home of sorts up there. The house is actually an old family home that is in the middle of some gorgeous sprawling farm land. (The photo above is the view from the back porch of the house.)

We had an incredible day yesterday that included church, visiting the local cemetery, *holding a raccoon*, exploring the neighbors backyard that is full of a network of boardwalks, tree bridges, and cabins, going for walks, long jumping contests, tin foil dinners, and stargazing. It was a perfect day.

In other perfect news, one of my very best friends got engaged Friday night! Kate, her now-fiance Steve, and I were a team for our Stake Triathlon on Saturday morning and we had a marvelous time! Steve ran, Kate swam, and I took on the bike portion. Every year our YSA Stake puts on a free triathlon, I think that it is a brilliant idea, and I am so glad that I have been able to be a part of it! Especially with Steve and Kate this year! Congrats you two! I love you!

Well, I had better go check and see if my standby ticket has been assigned a seat. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gelato and Phoenix! TGIF!

My blessed roommate has spent a fair amount of time in Italy. One of the greatest things that came out of her sojourns there is the Italian Bible of cook books. That means gelato recipes! Serious, genuine, Italian gelato recipes.  My mom is out of town in Boston this week, so her ice cream maker has found a very comfortable temporary home and is currently brewing some chocolate gelato. Could this day get any better?

Our gelato looks ALMOST exactly like this.

Why yes, yes it could! I logged onto facebook about an hour ago and a good friend of mine was looking to be rid of some United Air buddy passes that expire at the end of the month. If someone could travel and return by the stroke of midnight on Jun 30th, then discounted air travel was up for grabs!

I am a lady of leisure! I can travel whenever I please! I have people that I need to see! I am going to Arizona next week! I will be poolside before I know it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Well, it has taken me a minute to get this recap up, but it is amazing how crazy life can be when you are a lady of leisure.

Thursday night:
We met for a fabulous carb-loading-pasta dinner and decorated our vans. We were team Shaka Laka and hence, had a tropical theme. my favorite was the shark attacking a runner.  It was a Shakattack! Clever, I know.

Friday morning:
I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:30am. We had to finish packing and be to Logan for our 6:00am start time. The weather was beautiful and the energy at the start of the race was incredible. Ragnar is no small race and the anticipation for this show to get on the road was palpable!

Our first legs:
Natalie rocked her first leg and our van cruised through our first set of runners...until they got to me. My first leg was 8 miles. Uphill. Unpaved.  I did ok for the first 4.5 miles and then I more or less tanked. My leg had been bothering me and I found myself not exactly prepared for the trail run (turns out I might have some mild sciatica, nothing too problematic). It is amazing how much easier that blessed pavement is than dust and rocks! And  believe me, the dust was insane. It was almost impossible to stay hydrated.

I started running through every mantra I have ever had. "Be patient. You got this.", "You can do hard things." , and my new favorite that we made up before I started running, "Hills are friends AND food! Eat this hill!" (Get it? it's like Nemo!) So yeah, I said those a lot and I had the voice of my good friend, The Blur, in my head as I kept saying to that mountain, "I OWN YOU!"

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

In the end it was really just the picture of being done and in the van with a cool cup of chocolate milk that got me through. But I did it! I beat that mountain. Yes, Avon Pass, I OWN YOU! 

The First Exchange:
At the first exchange we tried to get some rest on a weedy hill in a parking lot. There were SO MANY people there! The crowds were wild. Sometimes it amazes me that there are so many people out there who think it is fun to run all night long on no sleep and granola bars.
So many people! So many potties!
Second Legs:
Van 1 had the greatest times to run. We ran in the beautiful morning and then in the evening when things were cooling down. My second run was 4.8 miles through some small towns with some gorgeous scenery. I tell you, Utah is one of the prettiest places on the face of the planet. My run was a little rough, my leg was giving me trouble and I may or may not have prayed that LMFAO would come on my ipod toward the end of my run to help me power through the finish...and guess what?! Just as I was coming up to the exchange I heard, "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!" BAM! Prayers are answered, sometimes even with LMFAO!
America, the beautiful!

The Second Exchange:
Free hot chocolate! Sleep! Heaven! And I saw one of my favorite vans of the trip:
David Bowie + Tom Selleck = YES!

Our Last Legs:
We were up at 5:00am and off to conquer our last portion of this race. I would say that we all had really good runs, especially when you consider that we were reaching our totals of 15, 17 or 18 miles in the last 30 hours. My last run was certainly my best. My leg wasn't bothering me too much and I got to run from Midway to Heber - again, a GORGEOUS run!

The Finish Line:
Because we were van 1 we got to the finish area hours ahead of van 2. We used the time for some serious R and R. We waited in the sun for massages (YES!) and then rested in the shade as long as we could. It was the middle of the day and very hot! We did not envy van 2 in the least. They were total rock stars for finishing the race out in the heat of the day while we rested and got pampered!

 When the time came, we gathered all of our things and went to meet our last runner as he came in. We all joined in and ran across the finish line together. 

 Finally, we were awarded with our medals, coupons for free pizza, and the coveted Ragnar car sticker. Over all, I would say it was an epic event. GO SHAKA LAKA!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I am stealing today's post from the Ragnar blog. It is a recent blog post from a woman who ran the Cape Cod Ragnar in May. I think it sums up perfectly why I keep signing up for crazy things like this...
As the story goes...I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and marched off, admittedly feeling a little unprepared.  But...I realized something about this race...
What Ragnar has done for me is remind me that life is about going even when you're tired ("Wake up! Meagan is on her way! GOOOOO!), pushing even when you're unprepared, and about just doing it when you don't feel ready, knowing that you'll figure it out along the way. Even with the hose water, beer lines, and other snafus, Ragnar has really become a metaphor for the way life works.
It's a reminder that even when you have no idea what lies ahead, even when you're unsure if you're going the right way at all, there's only one thing to do: keep going. It's a reminder that there are often long, dark, scary roads with no lights ahead of us and no lights behind us, so this is when we run like hell for our lives. It's a reminder that sometimes in life your friends can cheer from the sidelines, sometimes they can cheer alongside you, sometimes they can jump in and even pull you along because you're hurting or doubting yourself and they can reassure you. Sometimes, though,  you just have to go it alone, but they'll be at the end waiting for you. Sometimes, no one is there and you have to figure it out for yourself.
Ragnar is a reminder that when you feel like life is all uphill and you're ready to quit the climb, that just over the horizon is the finish line. 
Here we go!
2 Vans
12 Runners
30 Some-odd hours
197 Miles
1 Heck of a good time!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pee Pee Hide-N-Go-Seek Christmas Eve!

RAGNAR is in two days. Two days! I have that nervous-excited-pee-pee-hide-n-go-seek feeling and the kid on Christmas Eve I-can't-sleep-cause-Santa-is-coming feeling all at the same time!

I have already started packing and I keep checking the weather incessantly to make sure things stay clear and are not too hot while we are on the course (looks like it will be sunny and clear with a high of 82). I have also been making a mental note of all the things I have to do before tomorrow night to make sure I am ready to go. The list is as follows:

Make a playlist for my 8 miler
Find my stupid ipod armband that has been missing for 2 weeks
Make some homemade granola bars
Pull out my sleeping bag
Get some cash for food and a RAGNAR hoodie!
Wash every piece of running clothing that I own
Yoga it up and foam roll to loosen my crazy tight legs
Charge my Garmin
Eat some more macaroni and cheese (hooray for carb loading!)

Am I missing anything? Probably. Luckily, all I really need is my running shoes, right?

Well, ready or not, here I come!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's all in your head..

It's RAGNAR week! I can't believe it is already here! About a month ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted to sub-in to her RAGNAR team. The guy on her team who wanted out REALLY didn't want to run and even offered to cover half the entry fee for whomever was willing to sub for him. I tell you, that lucky sub is ME! I did a relay race last year and I loved every sleepless minute of it. (Well, hindsight may be a little rosy, I recall some very sleepless moments that I did not enjoy.) But, overall it was an incredible experience and a RAGNAR relay was quickly bumped to the top of my running bucket list.

I had just finished the Salt Lake Half a few weeks before signing up for team Shaka Laka and had been taking it super easy on my training. My next half isn't until September and I didn't plan on starting that training until June. So, I did some reworking on my training schedule and hopped back on the bandwagon. I will admit, that the training CERTAINLY hasn't been what it ought to be, but I am SO EXCITED!

In fact, speaking of my totally lame training, I have realized something interesting. This last week I have been stressing a lot about the race. I am running one of the most difficult legs of the RAGNAR and it has me more than a little bit freaked out. I keep asking myself, "Who do you think you are to just jump into a 15 mile weekend with a freakishly intimidating 8 mile run up the side of a mountain?!" In those moments all I see is the little, unathletic theater girl who I always was. The girl who walked the fun run in school just because she resented anyone telling her that she had to be athletic. The girl who shies away from laid-back, pick-up games of anything because she is afraid that someone will discover that she sucks at sports and isn't athletic like EVERYONE else seems to be! All of my old fears of not being able to keep up with everyone else have come rushing back.

But then you know what I remembered? Running has taught me that I can do hard things. If I am determined, if I am patient, if I am consistent, if I go at my own pace - I can do anything. I just ran 13 miles 6 weeks ago for heaven's sake!

It is amazing how much negative thinking can effect you! It is no good!

I am strong. I am healthy. I am determined. I am a runner.

It really doesn't matter when you cross the finish line, it matters that you cross it.

I realized on Saturday when I saw people complete a 3 hour marathon and then returned to watch others cross the finish at 6 and 1/2 hours, that all of those people had performed with herculean effort. They had all done something amazing.

So, you know what 8-mile-uphill-crazy-run?! Bring it.

Give me this mountain.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spectating at the Utah Valley Marathon

Today was my first Saturday run with my running group. Last Saturday I was dirty dashing and missed the change to run with these awesome ladies. Yesterday we wrapped up week 2 of the Couch to 5k program.  We have 10 girls in the group and average 4 or 5 runners at each run. There is a group that goes in the morning on Tues/Thurs and one that goes in the afternoon. On Saturdays, the idea is that we all run together. However, I am pretty sure the idea of sleeping in often wins out at 8:00am. This morning we had 4 girls show up and we rocked the run. When we were done (because Saturday is a special day), we went to the Provo Bakery for donuts and then walked down to the finish line of the Utah Valley Marathon! 

We stood and cheered on the back of the pack half marathon runners and the front of the pack marathon runners. It was incredible! I loved watching people cross the finish line with intense looks of determination on their faces. Everything they had just accomplished in the last 26.2 or 13.1 miles was written on their face. Many people had family members join them for the last stretch of the race. I am not kidding when I tell you that I teared up more than once. One of the reasons I wanted my running group to see the end of the race is that I always think it is surprising to see the kinds of people who run endurance races. They are not all professional athletes. What they ARE is determined. Short people, tall people, large people, skinny people, old people, and young people - you see them all. You make up your mind, and you don't stop. You are capable of anything. This has been the greatest lesson I have learned from running and this is why I wanted to start this a group. I wanted to share that awesome feeling of  realizing that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought you were. 

Because I am running the Ragnar next week I had to get in a couple more miles before the end of the day. My fabulous new roomie came out with me and we actually ran back down to the UVM finish line. We got there just in time to see the last marathon runners cross the finish line. This is when I really got emotional. Those people had been out running for 6 1/2 hours. You make up your mind, and you don't stop. I love it. 

Quick shout out to my running group: The girls I run with are fantastic. They are dedicated, enthusiastic and so. much. fun. They are progressing quickly and are already kicking my trash. It's going to be tough to keep up with them! We are training for the Pioneer Classic 5k on July 21st. The race is sponsored by Magleby's and ends with french toast. Say what!??! Yeah, it's gonna be great. If you are in the area, you should come run with us! 
Visualizing the finish of our race in just 41 days! These girls are amazing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dashing Dirty!

Dirty Dash June 2012
Last year I ran the Dirty Dash with two of my very good friends. We were super excited to run it again this year but, when we went to sign up, the race was SOLD OUT! I am sure that we all cried a little, but we moved on and got over it. Then, miracle of miracles, I got a phone call about a week before the race. It was Mindy from Gold's Gym. My first thought was that she was going to try to sell me something. She asked if I was Jennica and then asked if I had entered to win a team for the Dirty Dash. I HAD! I won 5 entries into the race! Not only did we get in, but we got in for free and got to bring 2 more friends along! We laughed, we cried, we danced for joy! Gold's hooked us up with some sweet tops and we ran like the excessively awesome team that we are. We took on the 10k again this year and had a blast. My most spectacular moment of triumph was when I took on the monkey bars. I haven't faced those bars since 3rd grade. Well, my friends, I took them on at mile 5, dirty, tired...and triumphant! BAM! There is nothing like proving that you may actually have an ounce of upper arm strength to make you feel like a rock star. 

I really do love this race.  I love all of the costumes that people wear, I love the energy, and I love that there is no pressure to finish within any time limit! We just took our time and got as dirty as possible and loved every minute of it!

Thanks to my best mates for getting dirty with me and thanks to Gold's Gym for hooking us up!