Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tender Mercies and 18.6 Miles

TWO MONTHS AGO, I joined 11 other teammates and more than 2000 crazies in the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay!  It is nearly 200 miles from Blaine, WA (on the Canadian/US border) to Langley on S. Whidbey Island and these 11 other women and I ran the whole way.  In two vans, we leap-frogged each other.  Runners 1-6 would run while runner 7-12 rested, then vice versa.  After Van 2 ran, Van 1 started over until each van’s runners had run 3 times.  This was a major challenge and accomplishment for me.  I’ve never counted myself much of a runner and all of a sudden, training for this race included regular 6 mile runs (3-4x week).  Occasionally, I ran an 8 or 10-miler as well and in the final preparation, I ran several times in a day to simulate the lack of rest between runs in the Ragnar Relay.  We ran three times in a period of about 24 hours with only about 3 hours of sleep in between runs.  While this would never have been my original idea of fun, I am so thankful to the women I ran with, particularly my van who was so supportive to me personally in my training and runs.  Thank you Robin, Megan, Angie, Bethany, Miryam, Shalise, Amy, Cami, DeAnne, Kimberly and Jenny!


Van 1 in reverse running order (I was runner 6).


The starting line!  Only 190 miles to go!!


Robin and her GAME face.  This girl is FAST!  All these people had no idea what was about to hit them.


Way to go, Megan!  She and I were among the novice runners and she did an excellent job!


One of Bethany’s legs in the race was extended by more than a mile.  She’s still smiling!


Helpful AND cute!  Love the running skirt, Ang!


Miryam was mad her legs weren’t longer.  This is a world I’m not altogether familiar with…Also, have to love Miryam because her eating is so pure that 8 M&M’s was enough to have her WIRED!  Pretty funny…


All the runners called them “kills” or “roadkills”—meaning, the number of people you passed while running.  Robin pulled up our team average SIGNIFICANTLY.  We would hear other teams say, “Where is that FAST girl?  She has to be coming soon!”


Exchange point!  They used a snap bracelet as the baton.  AWESOME.


This was after my second run at the major exchange before Deception Pass.  These are the ladies of my van all together—stinky, tired, and having a great time!

I felt blessed to have this experience.  The Lord knows I need challenges (not just trials!) in my life to keep it interesting and I felt this was presented just for me. 

My first run was through Bellingham and ended at Bellingham High School.  Nothing too exciting.  It felt like any other run through town.  However, the second and third runs were special.  My second run was at the very end of dusk and it was between two towns through farmland.  I passed a barn and knew immediately this barn had chickens.  I didn’t know my nose could tell the difference between manures, but apparently my childhood on “Chicken Patrol” stuck with me.  The run was very flat until the last 3/4 of a mile which had a steep hill, but I felt strong.  My pace was good and I finished running up that hill, arriving at a state park in the dark. 

After some pictures and well wishes to the rest of our team preparing to run through the night, we laid out sleeping bags on a tarp and slept SOLID…for three hours. Smile  At such time, we received a text that van 2 was on it’s second to last runner and we needed to get to our next exchange so we could begin again.

Saturday morning’s run was quite foggy.  I was feeling apprehensive about this run.  The entire length of the run before me had been foggy and cold and I was not excited about the prospect of running without being able to see ahead.  I felt anxious, but it was my turn, so I took the snap bracelet and took off.  The blessing?  Within about a mile and a half, the fog had burned off and it was a glorious day.  I was on Whidbey Island by this point and could see the water, sailboats, wildflowers and greenery.  That and the frequent hills were breathtaking! Smile It was a very hilly course, but I knew this was what I had prepared for.  This was my last run.  Why hold back?  I was determined that unless I had some major injury, I would not ever stop running.  I would never stop to walk.  I was conscious mostly of my own thoughts when in the back of my mind, I heard an indistinct, but unfamiliar screeching sound.  When I heard it again, my mind registered the sound as unusual, so I glanced around for the source.  And I stopped.  About 20 feet from me was a bald eagle, spreading its massive wingspan landing on a tree.  I gaped for about 5 seconds before it spread its wings again and took flight, but I was in so much awe of the majestic creature—one I wouldn’t even have seen in the fog.

My last run ended in a small town called Coupeville and I gave it everything I had.  By this time I’d already run 13 miles and had very little sleep, but with nothing to lose, I set a PR for myself in pace.  I ran my last run of 5.5 miles up and down many hills at a 8:58 pace.  This won’t win any races, but given the distance, exhaustion and hilly terrain, I felt very proud of my effort.

So, being in the best running shape of my life, I knew this was my chance and since then I’ve been training for a half marathon that Jonathan and I are running on Saturday.  13.1 miles, here I come!

Thank you, DeAnne, for this fabulous video and the one cool running picture of me perhaps ever taken.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bahama Mama

The first time Jonathan and I really decided we wanted to go to the Caribbean, it was because we were reading together the book by Elizabeth George Speare The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  Kit Tyler (heroine) moves from her native Barbados to Connecticut to escape an unwanted marriage and talks frequently of home throughout the book.  Jonathan and I decided we would one day have to go to Barbados.  Well, since then, we’ve talked to people who have been to Barbados and apparently the Barbados of the 17th century and the Barbados of today aren’t really the same place.  Still, barring that, we’ve hoped for 5 years or more that we would go to the Caribbean.  Two weeks ago, we had our chance.

Jonathan’s mama came up to watch Caleb and James and we took a 5-night cruise from Miami to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.  We LOVED it and got the sunburns to prove it.  Get a load of this water!

DSC02111DSC02124Parasailing in Half Moon Cay…It shocked me a bit, but once we got in the air, it was the most serene thing I’ve ever done.  It was silent and peaceful.DSC02123DSC02166Look at this unbelievable property in Nassau.  If you look close enough, you’ll see these villas have beach front property in the front yard AND in the back.  Nice.DSC02167DSC02171DSC02173DSC02175DSC02062Look how HAPPY we are! SmileDSC02063DSC02070DSC02073At the end of the pier.  This water is probably what?  15+ feet deep?  I’m from CALIFORNIA!  Are you kidding me?!  I half expected California kelp to beat me across the face in our snorkeling adventure (waterproof 35mm camera.  I’ll try to get those pics soon). 


We also made friends with our dinner group!  Thank you Jeremy, Kelsey, Jordan, Tiann, Andy and Katie for some good times!

We had a blast on the on-deck waterslide, laughed at the family friendly comedy shows, bust out one song in Karaoke, but more than anything we LOVED the water.  It was the PERFECT temperature.  It was cool and refreshing, but it took zero time to get used to.  You could walk in freely and never get a chill.  It was clean and amazing.  We LOVED it.  I could get used to swimming in the Caribbean every day. 

Hot island get-away?  Check.  Happy belated sixth anniversary, Jonathan!