Road Trip 2014 | The Half Marathon

Oct 17, 2014

A Utah road trip was in the plans for summer of 2014 since returning home from Road Trip 2013. The wee ones and I had so much fun last year that we just had to do it again! But this year's trip was a little different than last year's... instead of staying just shy of two weeks, we were in Utah for three full weeks so that my lungs would have time to adjust and I could end our road trip by running a half marathon!

I am not a natural runner. I am not even remotely athletic. Bruce Wayne will tell you- watching me play sports is actually painful. But, I do like to exercise and be healthy, I have just always managed to do that without running Ü

At the beginning of the year Bruce decided he wanted us to run a half marathon together. He asked me what it would take for me to agree to this. I told him there was nothing he could offer me that would even begin to tempt me to run for 13.1 miles. He started to offer me all sorts of things but I declined everything. Then he mentioned diamond earrings. For practically every anniversary, birthday and holiday, when Bruce would ask me what I wanted, I would reply "diamond earrings". In nine years, those diamond earrings never materialized, but here he was, promising them to me in exchange for running a measly 13 miles? Psssh. Done!

On January 1st 2014, I strapped on my shoes and headed out the door. I ran for 3 minutes. Then walked for at least that many before running a few minutes more. It took me a good long time to run 1 mile and I was beat. Slowly but surely, I built up endurance and by April, I could make it 4 solid miles without even stopping to walk. By late April, my longest run reached 7 miles and I started searching for a half marathon to run. I knew it would have to be out of state since all races cease to exist in Arizona from about May to October. I looked in Utah and in California. I even looked up in Oregon where KJ lives. I finally settled on one in Utah that happened to fall close to our already planned road trip. Unfortunately, Bruce was not going to be able to join me for the race as it was squad change at work that weekend, but I had worked so hard to get to this point that I was determined to run something, and do it soon, before I could chicken out. So I paid the fees and started to panic.

In June I ran my first and second ever 10 miles runs and hoped that I was adequately prepared. At the end of June I arrived in Utah and began to train there, allowing my lungs to adjust to the much higher altitude. By July 12th I was as ready as I was going to be. I was also scared out of my mind. What on earth had possessed me to sign up for this!?

The morning of my race started bright and early. I think my alarm went off somewhere around 3:30 in the morning. I got up and put on my race gear. I stretched and tried to eat a little something. I then headed to Springville High School where I boarded a bus that drove me up into the canyon to the starting line.

It was super nerve wracking to be there by myself. In some ways it would have been really nice to have had a friend there with me to help calm my nerves, but then I am really glad that my first  half marathon experience was a solo one. It ended up being a super spiritual experience for me, one that I will definitely treasure in the years to come.

All during my training, I had listened to General Conference talks while running. Music just doesn't do it for me. I get so bored! But Conference talks grab my attention and help keep my mind occupied. Over the course of my training, I listened to almost all the talks that were available on The Mormon Channel app... almost 10 years worth of talks! I heard some amazing things during my training and felt the Spirit strongly on many occasions.

The day of my race, I started with the Priesthood session from the April 2014 session of Conference. It totally grabbed my attention and helped to calm me as the race started. As I ran down Spanish Fork Canyon, I couldn't help be but in awe of the beautiful world we live in. The views along my run were breath taking and I just felt so close to my Heavenly Father as I listened to His inspired words and enjoyed His beautiful artwork. I had many tender mercies throughout the race- from the friendly girl who I sat next to on the ride up the canyon, to the fact that they served purple Gatorade the entire race (the only flavour of Gatorade I can stomach!). Around mile 7, my knee started to act up really bad and for a brief moment I thought I was going to have to bow out of the race. It was extremely painful and I was scared I would do severe damage if I ran on it for another 6+ miles. I prayed and prayed hard and Heavenly Father poured out the blessings. The last half of the race was very difficult and I walked more than I wanted to, but my knee held out, I was able to finish the race, and I was given strength far beyond my own. I even managed to finish the race at a 12 minute mile pace (2 hr 38 min finish time), which is about what I had gone into the race anticipating. I still can hardly believe I managed to hit that pace while struggling with my knee. My knee could have slowed me down considerably, but really, it didn't. A 12 minute pace is exactly what I had been training at.

Coming to the finish line was such a neat experience. As I ran in, I quickly spotted my parents and children and my sweet girlies darted out, grabbed my hands and ran me across the finish line. I still get teary eyed thinking about it. I loved having them there to help me finish up what was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I received my finishers medal after crossing the finish line, got a massage and enjoyed a French toast breakfast. Originally I thought the idea of finishers medals was kind of dumb. I don't subscribe to the "everyone needs a trophy" school of thought, but now the medal hangs on the wall near my desk, and I get great satisfaction out of seeing it there. I did something hard! Really, really hard! I trained for months and stretch myself more than I ever knew possible and I finished! I wasn't the fastest. Not by a long shot. But I finished, and that is definitely worth rewarding.

The next day I was incredibly sore, but it was kind of the best sore ever. Sure I cringed with every step, but it was just a reminder of what I had accomplished the day before. I swore I never needed to do another half marathon again, but by the time I arrived back home to Arizona, I was ready to sign up for another. And I did! In just a few hours I'll be getting in the car with a few friends and heading to Lake Powell to go through this madness all over again! And eventually, Bruce and I need to run one together, since that was the original plan. So it looks like, in time,  I'll have 3 half marathons under my belt. And to think, this from a girl who just 10 months ago, hated to run. Ü


Oct 5, 2014

Today marks four years since the day my sweet mother in law passed away. The years have felt long... it seems as though it has been a lifetime since we last saw her, since we last heard her voice. But then again, the events of this day, four years ago, are crystal clear, as though they happened just moments ago.

This day four years ago was by far the most horrible day of both Bruce and my life. It was the day that we were forced to grow up, without being ready to do so. We were suddenly faced with grown up tasks... even more grown up than paying a mortgage or caring for our children. I was writing an obituary and Bruce was arranging a funeral. Bruce was trying to hold it all together and be strong for his family. I was figuring out how I was going to feed my 10 month old baby who still nursed exclusively, because the stress and shock had dried up my milk. We were explaining to our 3 year old why we weren't at Disneyland after all, and trying to help her understand why Grandma wasn't around and why everyone could not stop crying. I had to explain that wishing and praying wouldn't bring her back... that all we could ask for was peace and understanding.

And you know what? Being a grown up sucks! For the first 5 years of our marriage, we had just been playing house. Now, we were truly grown ups, facing very grown up things and feeling completely unprepared to handle them.

But we are surviving.

We still break down. The tears don't come as often, but when they do come, they are just as painful as four years ago today. Not even two weeks ago, as Bruce and I put the finishing touches on Man Cub's birthday video, we experienced a break down. It hit us hard that Man Cub had never met his sweet Grandma... at least not in this life. He had never been cuddled by her. He had never felt her kisses on the top of his head. He had never heard the sound of his name from her lips. And oh how she would have adored him!

Four years ago today, our lives fell apart in a big way. We have spent the last four years picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together again. The thing is, our lives will never be the same. But slowly and surely, we are finding a new normal. That normal includes pausing in the hallway to look longingly at the photos of Grandma that hang on the wall. It includes snuggling under the precious quilt made of scraps of her clothing that my father in law gave us for Christmas last year... easily one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received. Our new normal includes sweet conversations with a handful of special people who knew and loved Becky as we do, sharing memories and stories that will be treasured for a lifetime.

For most of the people who knew Becky, today is nothing special. They have already forgotten the significance of October 5th. But for us, it is most certainly a day of heartache. And with that heartache comes the chance to recommit ourselves to living righteous lives that will allow us to be with her forever. Four years without her has been long enough... I will do everything I can to be sure we are worthy to be with her for eternity.

Road Trip 2014 | Week 2

Oct 4, 2014

It's hard to believe my first three lengthy road trip posts only cover the first seven days of our 3 week vacation... I'm obviously a little long winded! That, and we crammed a LOT of fun into our visit to Utah.

The second week of our trip was just as eventful as the first. We went to the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point, I finally watched the Veronica Mars movie with my sisters- something I'd been dying to do for months. My grandma came down from Salt Lake for dinner one night and while she was there we had a little henna party. We went up into the mountains where my thin blooded, desert dwelling children should have turned into little popsicles as they played in the ice cold Provo river after eating our picnic dinner.

We went to the zoo again, this time on a day that Tressie was working and we got to see her help out with the bird show. My nephew Bodhi was chosen to be a part of the bird show... he got to help "train" the birds. It was super cute to watch.

Sunshine and I spent the 4th of July in Salt Lake with Tressie, attending Fantasy Con. Super nerdy but oh-so fun. We had a blast. Tressie had gotten free tickets through work so we figured we had nothing to lose other than a few hours of our time. But we didn't even lose that! It was a fun experience and definitely something Sunshine will remember in the years to come. Especially since we followed it up with lunch at our absolute favourite Mexican restaurant ever.

Our friend Steve joined us, in costume and everything. We saw a lot of cool booths including one with an awesome bat mask that I still wish I had bought... how cool would it be to do laundry in that beauty!? I think household chores would be much more exciting. We watched an awesome silk dancing performance and saw lots of fun people in costume. I about died when Hook from Once Upon a Time came walking towards me... as he got closer I realized it was just a guy in costume but it was quite the convincing costume! 

We rounded out our week with some outdoor fun. The kiddos played on the slip and slide, ate popsicles and did sparklers and fireworks. I continued to train for my half marathon and my mum introduced me to a new British food store in their area where I was finally able to get a bag of Walkers crisps for the first time in years. And that happy day- the day I had Walkers cheese and onion crisps and a galaxy bar for lunch, ended the second week of our summer road trip. Two weeks down, one to go!

Road Trip 2014 | Whirlwind Weekend In Idaho

The first weekend of our visit to Utah was actually spent in Twin Falls, Idaho. My youngest sister, Tressie, wanted to go to Twin Falls to hear her college roommate's mission farewell talk. The wee ones and I are always up for an adventure so we said we'd tag along. I mentioned this trip to my best friend KJ and plans started to formulate. KJ and her crew are about 9 hours away from Twin Falls, which sounds like a lot, but we are typically 22 hours away from each other. And that is assuming that traffic is good and no one has to go potty. 9 hours felt so darn close that we had to take advantage of the opportunity to get our kiddos together. So, KJ, her husband and their 4 little boys loaded up and headed east as we headed north and we met in Twin Falls.

KJ and I have been lucky enough to see each other almost yearly for the past few years, but our children had only met once before... and that was back when we each only had two children and Beebs was 4 months old. None of them really remember meeting. This time, we created some solid memories that my girls and most of KJ's boys should remember for years to come!

We started by meeting up at the Twin Falls temple as it was an easy meeting spot. The wee ones all touched their first temple and we came up with a game plan for the afternoon. We started with a quick Costco run to buy the fixings for dinner then headed to the "Niagara of the West", also known as Shoshone Falls. After viewing the falls, we found a fun lake where we ate and played in the water. It was my girls first experience swimming in a lake (naturally occurring bodies of water are a rare and exciting thing for us desert dwellers!) and they L-O-V-E-D it. After the lake, my parents headed to our hotel room with my little ones and KJ's husband took their little men to do some exploring so KJ and I could go to the Twin Falls temple together. Heaven I tell you. There are few things in the world more peaceful than sitting in the temple with your best friend. Really, the only thing that tops it is sitting in the temple with your spouse. It was so good to just relax and feel the spirit together.

After the temple, KJ and I parted ways for the night. I crashed hard once I got back to the hotel. It had been a pretty exciting day after all!

The next morning, the wee ones and I attended the farewell with Tressie and my parents. It was by far one of the most incredible Sacrament meetings I have ever attended. Kenya (Tressie's roommate) did a fantastic job on her talk, and the other speaker was amazing as well. Kenya's talk has given us a new family gem that my children will eventually get sick of hearing- "happy, happy, sad, sad". It's a quick and easy reminder that happy (good) choices will ultimately lead to happy consequences and sad or bad choices ultimately bring about sad consequences.

After the farewell, we had lunch with Kenya's family, then the wee ones and I headed to a nearby park to spend a little more time with KJ and fam. The park was a lot of fun. The children had a blast on the cool horsey swings and carousel. Then KJ's husband set up their slackline and all the little ones took turns walking along it while KJ and I did our best to enjoy each other's company. (Difficult task with 7 little ones running in every direction, but I absolutely loved that our children had the chance to grow their friendships that afternoon)

We put off parting ways as long as we could, but eventually it was time for KJ and Sean to head home and for the wee ones and I to pick up my parents and Tressie and head back to Utah. We snapped one last picture of KJ and I with all the children then said our goodbyes. It was far too short a visit, but oh how I love that our children were able to meet and play and get to know each other. Beebs often asks about "KJ's little boy with the red hair" and both girls ask when we get to see their new friends again. Unfortunately, it will be awhile before this sort of meet up happens again... KJ and Sean just received word that Sean has been accepted into the University of Hawaii's pharmacy program, so they are heading across the ocean in a few months time. It will probably be many years before all of our children have the chance to be together again, so I am extra grateful that we were able to pull off this whirlwind weekend in Idaho.

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