Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Extreme running and funning

Oh, hello September! August just slipped away with a single blog from me. I was busy reaching new extremes in running and funning.

I ran my first unsupported marathon in training. By myself and without seeing a single soul out on the trails. 26.3 miles in the woods by yourself is quite a long time to get inside your head. Surprisingly, it went better than expected given the 90 degree temps outside and thousands of feet of elevation gain.

I had to muscle through a lot of positive self-talk in the last 3 miles, but I was stupid happy to finish. I celebrated with a bag of chips and a cherry slurpee.
And later, beer. Of course.
Adam got a bike trainer so that we can workout together. And the new bike trainer meant that we needed to get a new TV. Obviously. We chose Orange Is The New Black as the show to binge-watch while we workout. No OITNB is allowed unless we are sweating.
Enter Saturday two weeks ago. First day of my 10 day vacation. Let's go for a long run!

This run was 3 weeks before the big dance at Woodstock and would suffice as my last long run if I couldn't stand to do another 3 hour run. I've taken to tapering at 2 weeks for a normal marathon (if aiming for speed), but being a 50 mile virgin, I wanted to back off just a little bit. Spoiler: I ran 18 yesterday...

Anyway, after the run, I refueled and got ready to go hang out with my sister, a good friend, and Luke Bryan.

If you aren't into country and not into dude, you probably are like womp, womp. But I like country. And dudes. And trucks on fire.
The next day brought my father-in-law to town and we hung out in downtown Atlanta for a bit before going to dinner with my family. The 3 of us had an early wake-up call to fly to Phoenix on Monday morning. After catching our plane with not too much time to spare, I relaxed with the breakfast of champions.
Whatever. Don't judge. I was on vacation.

When we landed in Phoenix, it was determined that 3 of the 4 people in our party had their baggage lost by the airlines. Somehow my obnoxiously colored Vera Bradley bag was right there waiting for me. Score!

The group had time to kill before the Diamondbacks baseball game in the evening so we went for a drive, had lunch, and decided to visit the Phoenix Science Museum. Did you know planetariums are a really great place to take a nap?
We stopped at pub for a drink afterwards and then decided that despite a great selection of brew, the lack of proper air conditioning in Phoenix in August was too much to handle.
Onto Chase Field!
My brother-in-law caught a home run ball during batting practice. I consumed an 18-inch corn dog wrapped in bacon, covered in jalapenos, and smothered in cheese.
Needless to say, I was completely useless in the car ride to our rental house just outside the Grand Canyon 3 hours away on east coast time.

When I woke up, I was surprised that I wasn't fighting the urge to bail on my run. The sunrise willed me to get out and explore my beautiful surroundings.
Lots and lots of flat dirt roads for miles and miles. It was heavenly.

The gang got together (brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, uncle-in-law, Adam, and me) and went to the Canyon for our Rim Mule Ride. This is something that has been on my bucket list for awhile. And it was totally amazing.

The views were absolutely stunning and I actually enjoyed the misty, windy day. I would do this again in a heartbeat. Seymour (my mule) was a cool dude and wasn't feisty like the horse I rode last summer in Yellowstone.

When we got back to the lodge, we had a late lunch and then wandered along the rim until it got to be late afternoon. Then we retreated to a porch for drinks (noticing a theme here?) and watched the sun dip below the horizon in the Grand Canyon. Yup, didn't suck.

The next morning (Wednesday), I went out for a run on the dirt roads. About a mile into my run, 2 dogs come sprinting up to me out of nowhere. I stop dead in my tracks until I realize they are super friendly and just want to lick me. I continue along and one of the dogs follows me. I trotted down the road until I spotted a man on horseback about a half mile ahead and I turned around.

The dog followed. And ran with me for 4 more miles.
He then sat on the porch the entire rest of the morning while we ate breakfast and got ready. I dubbed him Nacho. Spoiler alert: his name is Bear.

The group headed out towards Winslow and enjoyed gorgeous weather on the way out.
Adam may or may not have tested his ability to drive 100 mph on a desert highway.

We took an obligatory photo in Winslow.
And then spent the remainder of the afternoon in the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert.

A storm was rolling around out in the distance and the skies were stupid gorgeous. This is one of those instances that pictures don't do it much justice.

On Thursday, I went out for another run and met the dog owner who informed me that the dog's name was bear. It was sunny and warm, but the lack of humidity and long dirt roads made up for any hardships.

The next adventure was learning to ride a Segway in Sedona. It's hard to not be in love with Sedona. The backdrop is unlike anything back east. I lusted to have an extra week to go play on the sandstones.

But learning to ride the Segway was super cool and I felt pretty confident within a few minutes of being on it. We zipped around the residential areas of northern Sedona and were awarded with some pretty spectacular views.

Lunch was at a great restaurant right at the Sedona airport. Watching planes take off amongst beautiful scenery while eating southwestern food? More please!

That night, Adam and I picked up our rental car in Flagstaff and then had a sunset drive in the desert on the way back to the house.
The gang sipped wine and beer and snacked on bread and cheese for dinner. It was pretty much a perfect way to end this leg of our journey.

At 3:30a.m., Adam and I woke up to catch our 8:20a.m. flight in Phoenix. Though it was stupid early, we jammed out to Road Trip Radio on Sirius and the watched the sunrise over the desert. When you're with your best friend, these types of things are pretty memorable.

When we touched down in Kansas City, we met my sister and my 3 month old nephew, Rhett, in the airport. Rhett's 92 year old great-grandma (our grandma) lives in the town of Salina, Kansas, about 2.5 hours from Kansas City. My sister didn't tell grandma they were coming and so it was the best surprise I'd witnessed in quite some time.
I couldn't muster the strength to make it through a run on Saturday so I decided to take another rest day and eat. We went to the usual haunts that I've been visiting my last 33 years and spent time with grandma.

I promised myself I'd gut out a run no matter what the next morning after 2 rest days. I had 15 on the brain, but I could only manage to get before 10 before I threw in to towel. I just felt blah and mentally not there. So I decided to spend extra time with grandma and forget that extra 5 miles. Spoiler alert: I ran 15+3 on Monday 'cause I couldn't let it go.

We came back to Atlanta Sunday night and after properly hydrating, returning to 1000' in elevation, and sleeping in my own bed, I decided I was ready to get those 15 miles. So I went to my Greenway and it was like putting on my favorite yoga pants. Easy and comfortable.

I watched the miles click off with ease and though I had a few waning moments, I felt much, much better. All systems restored.

I got home and drank a Muscle Milk shake, ate some chips, and looked at my Strava calendar.

198 miles for August?


Up to the treadmill I went. 3 more miles. Yeah, yeah, I could have done 2. But 3 is better.

201 for August.

Now it really is time to taper. A few regular runs and then some teeny weeny runs next week. Hard to believe I will be on another plane for another amazing adventure in just 9 days.

Life doesn't suck.

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