Leap day!

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I can’t say for certain, but it seemed like there was a bigger deal made about leap day this year. There were sitcoms about it and it just generally seemed more a topic of conversation. So, in the interest of seizing our extra day of the year, T and I went out for a little cultural date by going to see the movie Pina, which was playing at one of my favorite movie theatres in Seattle โ€“ the Cinerama.

The movie was in 3D, which I wasn’t really sure I’d like. But I did enjoy taking a picture of T rocking the glasses:

The movie itself was really good. T & I had seen her troupe perform when we lived in New York, so it brought back fond memories of that time in our lives. And it was fun way to spend our extra day of the year.

Full weather spectrum

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Prior to our trip to Phoenix, we’d been invited to spend a weekend at our friend’s cabin out in Withrop. Never one to say no to a fun weekend with friends, especially since the boy could really use a fun weekend after his last few lackluster ones, we packed our bags and headed east. (Gotta love a two day work week!) After spending the previous weekend in the desert, it was funny to spend this one surrounded by tons of snow.

It was actually snowing when we arrived, which made for a lovely little snowshoe expedition right out their back door. Here’s Bryan, losing the battle with Jenn’s snowshoe bindings and opting to leave them behind. (The cabin is to the far right of the picture, someone obscured by the tree.)

And T, exploring the wonders of post-surgery exercise:

While we were out, I had to take a picture of this sign. For those of us not familiar with groomed cross-country ski trails, it just looked hilarious to see all of those rules posted together:

Jenn & Bryan’s cabin is awesome. It’s the perfect size and filled with great touches. Like this rad guy:

It’s about to undergo some significant renovations, so it was cool to get to see the “before” picture in person. (And it’s going to be so beautiful when they are done. I can’t wait to see the “after.”) Greta and Tyr were their usual gorgeous/sweet selves:

Even if poor Tyr had to endure pestering from T. She handled it like a lady though…

Saturday brought us a bright blue sky, which we took advantage by doing a guided snowshoe trip in Mazama. It was very enjoyable, (though there were a few too many long stops with lengthy discussion of whether or not those tracks are a mountain lion or an off-leash lab… ) But when the scenery looks like this, it makes everything easier to deal with:

The rest of the day was a lovely combination of good food, some minor/pleasing errands (including a trip to a wonderful little farm store), followed by more good food back at the cabin and a fun night playing a game called Mexican Dominos (which despite having a very racist name, was a lot of fun.) It was a great weekend and we were sad to see it come to an end.

We did liven up the trip back with a stop at world-famous (?) Rusty’s drive-in in Cashmere, WA:

World famous or not, they had pretty good food. We also stopped in to a local grocery store to buy some water/use the restroom and saw their unique approach to checkstand numbering. (Can you tell we’re in apple country?)

Many thanks to our gracious hosts for all of their hospitality. We had so much fun. Now I just have to brush up on my Mexican dominos for a future rematch…

 

Post-race hijinks, Arizona style

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On our way home from the race, we stopped at a local grocery store to get some ice for an ice bath. (I also took the opportunity to buy some Girl Scout cookies.) As I was wandering through the freezer section on the hunt for ice, I noticed that the frozen food section was also the random cement lawn statues section:

There was one that looked like Wally:

When we got back to the hotel, it was ice bath time. M got the honor of going first (finishing a marathon has it’s perks!)

It’s funny to watch other people’s ice bath process. Apparently, M’s involves crouching by the side of the tub while she works up the courage to get in. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the interests of fairness, I let her take one of my rocking ice bath outfit.

After the ice baths, there was some nice lounging in the bed and eating junk food:

And I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the post-race detritus on the bed:

 

Surviving the Lost Dutchman

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Race morning started very early with a 4:30 wake-up call. Luckily, there was a bus from our hotel to the race start at 5:30, so we only had to eat, get dressed and walk across the parking lot, which was so great. Plus our bus was pretty empty compared to some of the other shuttles we saw loading up. Per usual, my stomach was full of butterflies, which made eating my hotel waffle difficult.

The bus ride was around 20-30 minutes and was filled with the usual nervous athlete chit-chat. When we got off the bus, we joined the hundreds of athletes gathered around the little campfires they’d made. It was really cool:

Some girls at our fire took M & my picture:

Don’t we look so happy? It’s a good thing we didn’t have a crystal ball! The sunrise over the desert was beautiful.

After a final porta-potty stop, we headed over to the start line. It was a very orderly start, we basically walked to our pace corral and the gun went off. And just like that, it was time to run a marathon!

The first six miles were on a nicely packed dirt road:

The scenery was cool, especially in the early morning sunlight:

The best part was that there were cows grazing in that. (I wish I’d stopped to take a picture, especially of the cute baby cow.) It was funny to see cows grazing around the cactus and what-not. I felt great and worked hard to not go out too fast. The dirt road was easy on the legs, and it was gently rolling for the most part. Even when we transitioned to the pavement, I felt pretty good. The route ran right past our hotel, so J was able to sleep in a little bit and spectate easily. Then the race had a long false flat transitioning into the hilly section of the course. I was glad I knew the false flat was there, rather than thinking it was flat and my legs were dead.

My stomach wasn’t happy and I was having the same sorts of burping issues that I frequently have in triathlons, (I blame being bent over the bike for so long.) But I’ve never had the issue in a stand-alone run race or in any of my training runs, so it was a little worrisome. I had some Gas-X strips, but taking a couple of those prompted a minty flavored acid-reflux, so I stopped. As I continued, the stomach got more unhappy and I didn’t really know what to do, so there was a lot of internal debate (Should I eat something? Should I be drinking more? Or am I eating/drinking too much?) Eating more certainly didn’t seem to help and I drank a little water at each aid station, but they were 2 miles apart, so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to drink too much more.

By the time I got to mile 13, which was the most rolling section of the course, my legs were already starting to hurt in ways that they didn’t usually start hurting until much later during our long training runs. This was concerning, because I knew how the pain thing generally built up over time. Then my brain lost focus and I took a tiny walk break to re-group. I pulled myself together and ran pretty steadily until around mile 15 or so. Then the mental demons were really starting to get to me. My stomach was really unhappy, my legs were hurting and the walk breaks began. It was here that I started to contemplate quitting. It was starting to feel exactly like Ironman Canada and I’d said from the beginning that if the race was anything like that one, I was quitting!

I tried to stick it out, in the hopes that it was just a wall and that it would pass. But it didn’t pass. The walk breaks got longer and when I walked the bulk of mile 16, I knew it was over. Every time I tried to run, my legs were killing me and I knew I didn’t have another ten miles in me. I knew I could walk it in, but I’ve seen that movie before, thank you very much. I texted J from mile 17.5 and told him I was done and that I’d walk to the mile 18 marker to wait for him to pick me up.

He offered me a ride back to the hotel, but I opted to go to the finish with him to see M finish her race, which I hoped was going well. She’d looked great when she passed me at mile 12, so I had no reason to doubt that she was doing great. I was very glad I did, because even though I knew I’d made the right choice about pulling out of the race, I was sad that I’d had to make that call. But watching people crossing the line and cheering them on and feeling the positive vibes made it impossible to feel too down. M was hoping for a 4:45/sub-five finish and as the clock ticked closer to her goal I prayed to see her come around the corner, but sadly five hours came and went. A few minutes later, we finally spotted her. She looked great:

But when she crossed the line, she burst into tears and I knew immediately she had the same tough race I’d had. We commiserated over post-race pretzels and orange slices as we walked back to the car.

Soaking in the local culture

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The day before a big race is always a little surreal. You’ve been planning for the race for a long time and it’s always been off in the distance. Then, suddenly, it’s tomorrow. TOMORROW! We kicked off our day with a trip to the Waffle House because a.) I’d never been to one, b.) J loved them and c.) because we could. I’d heard much about Waffle House and it did not disappoint.

Then we headed over to check out the race expo at the senior center. Just because. I’m very happy we did, because otherwise we would have missed seeing this fantastic sign:

Please note, we are at the SENIOR CENTER. The expo itself was pretty tiny, but fun. M & I scored some rad running shirts that seem like they are custom made for us:

(In case you can’t read it, it says “I run so I don’t kill people.”) So true…

We love us some kitsch, so we then went to check out a local tourist attraction called Goldmine Ghost Town (or something like that.) It was packed full of people, some of which were obviously there for the marathon. The walk from the parking lot was probably better than the actual ghost town. It had this handsome guy:

And this sign should have told us the kind of folks this place attracts:

The actual ghost town was sort of sad. It was like one of those shopping malls that’s going out of business or a ghetto carnival. That happened to be Wild Ol’ West themed. We wandered through and took a couple of pictures:

But we all agreed it was sad and left. Then it was off to Walmart, always a good time. I was tempted by the giant barrel of cheese balls (only $5.98!) but didn’t figure I could bring it home on the plane:

When we were unloading our stuff back at the hotel, M pointed out how many beverages we had in our little hotel mini-fridge:

(For those of you playing along at home, there are 12 different containers of beverage in there… ) But it’s important to hydrate, especially here.

Now, we’ve set our clothes and stuffed a ridiculous number of gels into fuel belts and soon it will be off to bed for the crazy early morning wake-up. It feels very surreal that I will get up tomorrow morning and run for a significant amount of time. I’m trying not to think about it. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be an adventure and at least I get to spend some quality time in the sunshine.

Mixing business with pleasure

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Today was a nice combination of business and pleasure. Both M & I had a short run on our training plan, so we got that out of the way early. (I even talked her into running my pick-ups with me.) It was helpful to run here and make some final decisions on my race outfit (I’d been debating shorts vs. the running capris I’d been training in โ€“ definitely shorts!) Then we headed out to Scottsdale to run a few errands and visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, followed by dinner with an old friend of M’s. The first of the errands was packet pick-up and a few last minute race items at the Roadrunner Sport, so it was low-key and enjoyable. (There was even a 20% off discount for people doing our race. Score!) Then a little guilty pleasure lunch at Red Robin and it was off to enjoy some architecture.

I’ll confess I’ve never been the hugest fan of FLW, mostly because like many great architects he was an ego maniacal asshat. But I like Falling Water and M is a huge fan of his, so I agreed to go. And I was really glad I did, because the tour was really interesting and the site was beautiful. Rather than giving you a blow by blow, I’m just going to share my favorite shots (of the many, many that I took.)

The site is high up on a hillside, so you also get to enjoy sweeping views of the desert and awesome cacti:

Should you find yourself in Scottsdale, Arizona with some time to kill, I highly suggest you check it out. (Take the 90 minute tour, it’s well worth it.) Then it was off to dinner with M’s friend Shasta and her husband Henry. M & Shasta lived together in Boston and it was fun to hear stories of that time in their lives. They took us to the Scottsdale location of a venerable New York pizzeria Grimaldis and the food was delicious. We also got to meet Shasta & Henry’s adorable little girls, which was fun. Then we hit Trader Joes for our final errand of the evening. Picking out pre and post-race food at Trader Joes is a lot of fun. You end up with a basket that looks like this:

 

Best Western indeed

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Getting on a plane to Phoenix makes this view out of my window far less depressing.

Our flight from Seattle to Phoenix was uneventful but took forever with a stop-over in Salt Lake City. I managed to score the front row both flights, but didn’t get to sit with M & J. On the second flight, I landed an aisle seat and snapped this picture while people were being seated:

It’s fun to see all of the crazy instruments and what-not. (Even though I secretly believe that they are all for show… ) The guy next to me on this leg of the trip was an affable older man who slept most of the short flight, but as we were descending he noticed the running magazine I was reading and asked if I was a runner. I responded that I was and told him about the impending marathon. He asked me a few general questions about itย  which I answered with my “I’m talking to normal people” responses. (Example: “Oh, is this your first marathon?” “Yes” vs. “Oh, is this your first marathon?” “Well, sort of. I did an Ironman and there was a marathon at the end of that, but that doesn’t really count because it’s totally different and so on… ” He then told me a “funny story” about how he’d inadvertently* run the Rim to Rim to Rim (which is from one side of the Grand Canyon and back in one day.)ย  Crazy talk.

After the usual 3 Stooges Car Rental routine we were on our way to the hotel. Marveling at the weird color of the sky (blue) and how warm and not wet the air was, we headed east to Gold Canyon. Stopping for a snack en route:

We were staying at a Best Western in the middle of no where, so I was expecting the usual small town motel experience. And I was not disappointed. In fact, the decorator really took it up a notch. This was the first thing I saw, handing on the stone mantle of the lobby fireplace:

The room had similarly delightful touches. Howdy, pardner! I’m a lamp…

And I don’t know what his counterpart is. Space alien? El chupacabra? Super racist Native American?

And then there was this mysterious object on top of the television:

Ummm…

Instead of the razor or vibrator we were joking about, it is in fact the TV remote control (ironically called the Clean Remote.) I can’t make this stuff up:

But my favorite part was opening the nightstand drawer and finding this. It’s the Holy Sampler:

Before we headed out to dinner, I had fun taking pictures of Southwestern kitsch in the upstairs lobby area. Enjoy!

(Why, yes, that is a wagon wheel chandelier… )

(And apparently Kokopelli enjoyed a round of golf with some friends… )

So far, this trip is off to an excellent start.

* They were originally going to run one direction but the shuttle back is 243 miles or something so they decided to just run back. I assume he was pulling my leg, but one never knows…