Race for the Cure 5K

Race for the Cure 5K

photo credit Shawn Ryan

I have a little race recap for you today! It’s been a while since I wrote one of these posts – it’s been almost 100% recipes lately. Of course I love talking about food with you, but running also feels like a big part of my life in the brief seasons between hot and cold spells here in Utah. So if it’s OK with you, let’s briefly switch gears to fitness!

I actually feel a little silly posting a race recap about this totally casual charity “race.” Most of the participants were definitely there to show support for the cause, don their most obnoxious pink outfits (never have I seen so many hot pink tutus!), and walk or jog the course. My company was running a booth and had organized a team for the race. I wasn’t too involved in the fundraising side of things, but I did think it would be a good excuse to run my first 5K of the season.

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Weekend in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

I promised you guys some pictures of my trip down to southern Utah this past weekend. And although I can never get my act together for a “weekend activities” post on Monday, Tuesday’s not bad, right?!

Nate and I spent the weekend in Moab, which has quickly become one of my favorite places over the past year. Less than a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City, it is an adorable touristy town that is a mecca of hiking, biking, climbing and Jeeping. It is close to the Slickrock trail and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, so it’s a popular outdoorsy destination. Despite my childhood dreams of becoming a park ranger, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself outdoorsy… in fact, I made Nate stay in a hotel because I’m a huge wimp and the desert gets COLD at night! But I do like the hiking, running, and beautiful scenery down there. I have to say that these pictures, even with my nice camera, don’t come anywhere CLOSE to doing it justice.

It was a popular weekend to go down to Southern Utah, since the weather is just starting to warm up. We ran into two different sets of friends while we were down there, which was lovely!

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Weekend in Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Things have been a little quiet around here lately… sorry about that.

Zion National Park

You already know one of my excuses: I had no time for cooking because Nate and I took a last-minute trip to Zion National Park over the weekend. Also, work has been busy, and so even though I wanted to share my trip to Zion with you earlier, I didn’t have time. Sorryyyy.

But better late than never. Here are some pictures from the weekend! Naturally, I brought my DSLR, but didn’t even take it out of the case once. Oops. The iPhone is just so much more convenient for hiking, you know? I’m sure my hiking pictures would be much better had I used my nice camera, but I’m also sure that I would have either a) dropped it off the side of a canyon or b) fallen off the side of a canyon myself while trying to rescue my camera. So let’s just save the DSLR for food, shall we?

Zion National Park

Last week Nate suggested that we head down to southern Utah, since he had a long weekend and we were both so sick of the cold. I said yes on one condition – no camping! We tried to camp down in Moab last March, but I panicked as soon as the sun set and the temperature dropped, and ended up sleeping in my friends’ hotel room. Huge wimp right here – no winter camping for me! So this time he made us a last-minute hotel reservation, and on Friday night we made the 4 1/2 hour drive from Salt Lake down to Zion.

We arrived in the dark (pretty sketchy!) and couldn’t wait to wake up and see the park in the light. We were not disappointed – here’s the view we woke up to on Saturday morning:

Zion National Park

We stayed at the Zion Lodge, the only hotel in the park, which was pretty ideal. The park is small, and the hotel was centrally located; we even walked from the hotel to the trailhead for one of our hikes.

Zion National Park

On Saturday morning we decided to hike the Angel’s Landing trail. We’ve been hearing about this hike since we moved to Utah, so naturally it was the first thing to check off our list. But part of the reason we’d heard of it is that parts of the trail have long drop-offs and chains to hang on to… possibly not the greatest wintertime route. But the woman at the visitors’ center said we should be fine, so off we went!

Zion National Park

You can’t tell here, but a lot of the trail was very icy, and it was also very crowded. Nice weather on President’s Day weekend made for a lot of hiking company! We would have preferred some more solitude, but the views at the top were pretty spectacular anyway:

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Happy hikers!

Zion National Park

After snapping a few pictures at the top, we spent much of the way down hanging onto the chains for dear life and hoping no one else would slide into us and topple us off the mountain. I was glad to get down off that icy part!

Zion National Park

After a day of hiking and a trail run (admittedly a pretty wimpy one), I was feeling extremely grimy. The main benefit of not camping: Showers! I made Nate take a picture of me before dinner to prove that I only spent most of the weekend in sweaty hiking clothes.

Zion National Park

Speaking of dinner, no pictures of food here. The food was definitely not the highlight of the trip. I guess that’s pretty common for outdoorsy destination towns. That’s OK – the natural beauty of the park more than made up for it. Here was our drive to dinner:

Zion National Park

This sunset was so beautiful. There was a line of photographers on a bridge as we were driving out of the park, just waiting to capture the beautiful light on the red rock. We didn’t want to act like tourists, but a few minutes afterwards I gave in and made Nate pull over so I could take a few iPhone photos. :)

Zion National Park

On Sunday we got an earlier start to avoid the crowds (and also to be able to make the drive home in the daylight). It paid off – we had a BEAUTIFUL hike up to Observation Point, and only saw 1 other hiker on the way up!

Zion National Park

We got a great workout, had amazing views of the park, and at times there was complete silence – an unbelievable day of hiking.

Observation Point is higher than Angel’s Landing and looks down onto it. It was cool to have done Angel’s Landing the first day and then be able to see where we had been (especially because we were higher up!).

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The Observation Point hike was a little icy in parts, but unlike Angel’s Landing, there were no chains we had to hang onto… so it was much less treacherous. It was still slow going on the way down, especially since I can’t bear the thought of slipping and had to inch my way along whole sections.

Zion National Park

I was pretty proud of myself for keeping up with Nate (super-marathoner) on our hikes. Well, “keeping up” – he let me set the pace, and the one time I let him lead, he put 10 yards on me in about 5 seconds. Oh well, what did I really expect? But I do think we were good hiking partners. We did the 8 mile Observation Point hike on Sunday in 3 hours and 40 minutes, including stopping at the top and going veeeeery slowly on the icy patches on the way down. Go us!

Looking at these pictures is making me wish we were headed back down there this weekend. No such luck, unfortunately. But on the bright side, that means I’ll be in the kitchen, and we’ll get back to the recipe posts next week!

Hope your week is going well!

Yoga

I think I’ve overdone it on the beets and butternut squash.

Is it too early in the season for that? Probably. But that’s OK… I’m moving on to soup this weekend. Maybe beets and butternut can get another rotation early in 2013.

So while I’m busy being grossed out by the foods I loved last week, it’s probably a good time to talk about yoga.

I love yoga! I’ve really gotten into it in the past 3 or 4 years, and think it’s a great complement to my running (and motivation to get in some exercise after work). When I moved to Salt Lake, I found a great yoga studio within just a few days of being here, and have been going regularly ever since.

I love the feeling of being strong. But I’m also kinda lazy… and that’s where yoga comes in. Yoga can be intense, but it can also be relaxing, and you have someone guiding you through every pose. Especially with a good teacher, yoga is enjoyable for me, and I don’t mind going 2-3 times a week. That is vastly different from weight-lifting, which I find difficult to keep up. I’ve had personal trainers in the past, and while I do develop muscle quickly from weight lifting… then I’m always too tired and sore to do the things I enjoy (like yoga and running). Yoga is probably never going to make me look insanely buff, but it does give me some upper-body strength that I definitely do not come by naturally. It also strengthens and stretches my legs for running.

During my first year in Utah, my roommate Kera and I went regularly to the Power 1 & 2 class at our studio. It’s a 90-minute class, hard but not excessively so, and the teacher loves working up to inversions and arm-balances. It’s a good balance of stretching and strengthening, and I always felt awesome after class. Then this summer, something bad happened. I hurt my hip trying to get into twig pose (twig? stick? I can never remember the difference) at class and had to stop running. It was actually really painful and took weeks and weeks to heal. So I started to rethink my approach to yoga. Maybe, if I wanted to focus on running, I should stop with these crazy poses. Just focus on strength and forget headstands and deep stretching, anything that could injure me.

So I switched from my Power class to Yoga for Athletes at the same studio. Objectively, it made sense – I was focusing on quad and core strength, which I need for running. But it was hard. At first it was hard in a good way – like “hey, I’m getting better at this!” – but then it just wasn’t fun anymore. Like, standing at the top of my mat at the beginning of class, DREADING the next 75 minutes and wishing I hadn’t come. That is not what yoga is about! I was definitely getting stronger, but I was also getting tighter, and before I knew it, my old knee injury was back in full force, keeping me from running yet again. Initially I thought that more strengthening was the solution, and I kept going to class regularly. Then, realizing how little stretching and opening we were doing in class, I started rethinking my yoga practice a second time.

So now I’m back at Power 1 & 2 – thank goodness! The first night back in that class, I realized how much more fun it was than Yoga for Athletes, and how much more relaxed I was – not at all dreading what the teacher was going to do to me over the next 90 minutes. After a month back in that class, my knee is already feeling quite a bit better, and I actually went on 2 runs this weekend! Hooray!

Basically, between yoga and running, I would choose running. But I realize that I need some strength training in my life, as well as a regular excuse to stretch and breathe deeply. Right now, yoga plays a supporting role in my workouts, but I think it’s a great hobby long-term. Someday when I’m old and gray, I hope that my bones will still be strong and I’ll still be going to yoga several times a week!

Race Recap: The Other Half 2012

I ran my first half marathon on Sunday!

And ouch, now I hurt. But I’d say it was worth it!

I decided to do this race with a few friends about 4 or 5 months ago. I’d been looking forward to it for so long that when the time came, I couldn’t believe it was finally here! We headed down to Moab on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon and evening hanging out by the pool, visiting the race expo, and walking around downtown Moab. The town was crowded with runners and other Northern Utahns coming down to the desert for some sun, now that it’s fall and Salt Lake is getting chilly.

We had a relaxing day on Saturday and headed to bed early in anticipation of an early wake-up on Sunday. The race started at 8:30, so it could have been a lot earlier, but there were mandatory shuttles to bus us 30 miles out of town to the start of the race, meaning we had to get there much earlier than if the race had just started in town.

moab at dawn

The morning was warmer than I’d expected, and I was thankful – until we got off the shuttle, where it was FREEZING.

Maybe it was the slight change in elevation that made it so much colder out there? In any case, it was a chilly start to the race.

The race itself was well-organized, with a speedy packet pick-up on Saturday, shuttles to the start of the race, plenty of port-a-potties beforehand (remarkable!), lots of water and Gatorade at all the aid stations, and a great finishers area with beer and food. The only hiccup seemed to involve the shuttles. Apparently they didn’t send enough shuttles to one of the pick-up locations, and had to send a few back (30 miles into town) to get the rest of the people waiting there. Those shuttles showed up after the race was scheduled to start. They held the race for them, so we started 10 or 15 minutes later than planned. That doesn’t sound too bad, but when you’re waiting out in the desert in a tank top at 8:30 am, 10 minutes seems like a LONG time!

Once the race started, the course was beautiful… although to be honest, I could only appreciate it for the first few miles. Looking around at the scenery was quickly replaced by focusing on putting one foot in front of the other!

moab the other half

As far as my run, I stuck to my race plan, and I think I ran as well as I could have, considering my injured knee! Amy and I started off strong and ran together for the first 5-ish miles. My splits at the beginning were:

Mile 1: 8:57
Mile 2: 8:26
Mile 3: 8:35
Mile 4: 8:39
Mile 5: 8:28
Mile 6: 8:25
Mile 7: 8:44

The first hill started at the end of that 7th mile, and I kind of broke down from there. The hills were frequent and LONG for the next 5 miles, and you can see there was definitely some walking involved by mile 10!

Mile 8: 9:30
Mile 9: 9:25
Mile 10: 10:22
Mile 11: 9:35
Mile 12: 11:08

The 2:00 pacer passed me at the mile 12 aid station. Noooooo! He had clearly been very consistent the whole race, and was just going much faster than me at that point. I had no hope of keeping up.

That mile 12 hill was a killer, but at the top were the taiko drummers! They were just the motivation I needed to keep going at the top of that hill.

Mile 13: 9:22
Last .25: 2:01

The race was totally at least 13.25 miles instead of 13.1 – brutal! I think I can safely say that making it through the last 2.5-3 miles was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically. I know it was only a half marathon… and I can’t imagine ever running a full! After running the first 12.75 miles or so on highway 128, we turned into the Sorrel River Ranch to finish up. It was one of those finishes where you think you must be so close, and it just. keeps. going. I was so ready to be done by this point. I had been told that the final stretch on the ranch felt long, but I didn’t really appreciate that fully until I was ready to fall over and still couldn’t see the finish line.

I finally made it over the finish line in 2:01:41. Not bad for my first half! In fact, considering the fact that I hadn’t trained in over a month because of my knee, I’d say I did as well as I could have.

Happy girls!

After the race, we got our bags, snacks and free beer in Other Half pint glasses, and hung out on the grass for a bit.

moab the other half

It was a great finishers’ area. I’d never had beer after a race before, and although it’s nice that they had it, beer was not exactly what I wanted. And this is coming from a major beer lover! All I wanted was Gatorade. Luckily they had that too :)

So now I am back in Salt Lake, hobbling around and looking ridiculous… and already wondering whether I’d be able to run the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab in March. Of course I won’t let myself – remember how I promised myself I wouldn’t race for a year? – but the point is, I think I’m hooked.

Thanks to Nate and my family for all their long-distance support! And of course to Jacquey, Madelyn, Amy, Janelle and Carlee for making this such a fun trip.

The Other Half – I’ll see you again next year!

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