Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freedom! (Part 1)

One thing I have come to know, since I bid the semi-sedentary lifestyle goodbye (for a while at least), is empowerment.  I have accepted sweat, grit, risk, and the courage to try, into my normally pampered, soft-bed, daily shower, and sitting-on-the-sidelines world and, as a result, I feel more free.  

And what's more, for me, this came quite late in life.

Which may be why I also feel gratitude.  

And joy.

I used to balk at roughing it.  I used to hate most sports, especially running.  It was all so uncomfortable.  And I was never much good at it anyway.  I opted to stay on the bleachers or in the support vehicle, preferably with air-conditioning, and look cute in my latest new top from TJMaxx.  And heaven help us if my hair frizzed!  

But now ..... maybe it is because I am getting older and the self-perceived cuteness is fading .....  either I just don't care as much or I'm in denial regarding how bad I actually look.   (Which is why I don't like TOO many cameras pointed at me because the pictures usually force me out of that denial to which I emotionally cling.)  

I am free to DO.   I am free to run and to be on a team with people who are young enough to be my kids, and keep up.  And even pass a few of them!  I am free to be seen sans make-up, in all my middle-aged glory, letting my frizzy curls fly -- gray roots and all.  I am free to sleep on the ground (With at least an air-mattress please!) un-showered after my last run, in my sleeping bag, next to teammates who are in a similar gritty state, and unsure as to where the nearest toilet is.  I know I can do this and survive!  

And not only can I survive, I can walk away in my sunburned, smelly, frizzy condition with a grin.  I CAN do it!  I DID do it!  And I can DO IT again!

THAT, my friends, is empowerment.  I have eliminated some personal fears and replaced them with freedom.  And it feels good.

Thank you, Favorite Daughter, for this picture.

Stay tuned for Part 2.  Freedom ain't free.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Arctic Circle Run

It all started with a simple comment on face book.  We should RUN on the Arctic Circle on the summer solstice.  Hahaha, yeah, that would be something, wouldn't it.  

Somehow that innocent online exchange took on a life of its own and quickly morphed into elaborate plans for an actual trip to the AC.  T'would merely be a drive of 5000+ miles in a van with fun friends and little sleep.  Yeah!  We can do this!  High fives!

But Reality reared its head, trimmed the big plans back a little, and the Alaskan-bound-trip turned into a tour of Utah's like-no-other canyons.   From Alaska to the deserts of Utah?  Of course!  When you can't go cold, go HOT.  

The trip included (in exact and meticulous order):  Driving ... retrieving socks at rest stop ... motel with lousy beds in Boise ... driving ... pickleball in Ogden ... driving ... cool rented house in Moab ... sunrise hike to Delicate Arch in Arches Nat'l Park ... a dip in the pool ... naps ... ice cream ... Moab again ... Dead Horse Point ... driving ... Mesa Arch (amazing!!) ... rattle snake ... pizza ... expensive but necessary shorts purchase ... Moab (still there) ... driving ... Goblin Valley ... almost running out of gas ... pit-stop behind a bush (t'wasn't me!)... hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon (also amazing!!) ... driving ... the non-town of Caineville ... driving ... obscure motel in Tropic with the sorta-free breakfast ... driving ... Bryce Canyon, sniffing trees, and a hike down into the hoodoos ... whistling lessons in the van ... driving ... The Narrows in Zion Nat'l Park (a perfect hike for a hot day) ... motel in Hurricane (dutifully pronounced hur'-i-cun) ... and the totally logical idea that .......... hey .... we're only twenty-some miles from St. George where there is an actual Arctic Circle.   So we went ...    

... on the 21st of June,

... to run.

(Side note:   AC's milkshakes are not milkshakes.  I mean, when it's so thick that you cannot pull it up through a straw, it is NOT a milkshake.)  

Continuing:  Back to Zion to hike Angel's Landing (wow!) ... driving (unshowered) ... Provo ... more ice cream ... dinosaur bones ... driving ... Boise ... nice hotel with great beds ... water sports on boat with Awesome Niece and Nephew ... (a relaxing visit with Favorite Sister for me, and some quiet hair time with my flat iron) ... Greek food with friendly waiter ... nice hotel again ... driving ... big horn sheep ... quick stop at Multnomah Falls for flattened penny ... and home.

Sprinkled onto EVERY WAKING MOMENT WITHOUT EXCEPTION:  profuse and slightly-obsessive picture-taking.  (And THAT is an understatement.)  

So it goes to show, when life takes away apricots and hands you bananas instead, just know that those bananas will make a fantastic smoothie.  And the apricots will be there next year, or the year after that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We know fun

Mormons know how to have fun.

What does that have to do with running? .... you ask.  Well I am learning that it has a LOT to do with it.

First of all, I am a Mormon and I run.  And apparently, a lot of other Mormons also run.  

This weekend we participated in a fairly new-to-the-running-world relay called the Epic Relay.  And  heck, since it's practically in my backyard, meaning it literally goes right behind my house ...... we decided to sign up and give it a go.  Our team, captained by Awesome Daughter and her Awesome Friend, consisted of twelve AWESOME women/mothers, which inspired the team name:  Throw Momma From the Van.
L to R.  Sheri, Bethany, Monica, Ellen, Anna, Val, Melanie, Lindsay, Carrie, Solana, and me.  (Missing Michelle, who headed for home before this photo was taken.)
I plan to write more about this experience in a future post, but for now, just know that it was FUN and WE DID IT.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  At one of the relay exchanges I chatted with one of the faithful and necessary volunteers and learned that she was the mother-in-law of the creator of the event.  And I noticed the "aura" which is what I call the "look" of fellow members of my church.  (No, we don't look different than the rest of the human race, except that there is just something familiar that we tend to sense about each other.)   So I asked her and yes, she .... and her son-in-law, are also Mormons.  As were, I discovered, the two other teams waiting at that same exchange.

The Epic Relay series offers a choice of roughly 200-mile long relays in Oregon, Colorado and Utah/Wyoming.  It's three years old and still small in participants, until the word gets out.  (Check it out.  Much cheaper than most.)

Then there are the Ragnar relays.  According to the website, there are 15 Ragnars across the U.S. and from what I've heard, they all pretty much sell out every year.  This series of similar-type running events was started in 2004 by a couple of BYU alumni.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Yes, they too, are Mormons.

Then there's the up-and-coming Saints to Sinners bicycle relay in which Husband will be riding next month.  Similar format as the running relays, except it's done on bikes and stretches from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.  Hence the name.  Since Mormons (which is a nickname) are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is easy to guess that the title of the event was my first clue.  Again, started by Mormons.

Last but not least, there is the renowned annual Run Run Ye Saints.  Ha!  An idea conceived in brilliance by Awesome Daughter and moi.  If I had written a post about our recent one, you would know that we had over 100 participants this year!   NOT that we are even in the same universe of importance as the above named events, but I'm going to claim a little glory here.  It IS my blog, you know.

It's commonly known that members of my church do not drink alcohol.  I've been told by non-members that drinking enhances life.  They say it makes it more fun.

I beg to differ.

We know how to have it and we know how to create it for others.  We happily choose our mountains to climb rather than letting them choose us.  We revel on the high peaks, relishing the hike up and the dizzying trip back down.  Then we grab our friends by the hand and party with them up the next mountain.  

Good times.

Good memories.

Good people.