30 June 2008

I'm ok.

I've had a rough few days. A little bit sad and lonely. A glass case of emotion as it were. I don't know why other than that this happens about once a month. Hmm... I should get that looked at.
Anyway... some good things happened that helped pull me out of my funk.

5 hours of Puzzling with Prison Maren.

Rock Band. This will always, always make me happy.

New brakes. I love not hearing the sound of metal grinding on metal.

And this (I'm not kidding that I was crying a little while I watched it):

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

25 June 2008


What I didn't expect while running the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay was that I'd also run the gamut of emotions during the 31 hours it took us to finish. 30:53:46 to be exact.

More than anything I am SO PROUD of my team! I want to confess my undying love and devotion to each of them because they were ROCKSTARS each and every one of them! Team HEAVEN or HELL!! Woot! Woot!!

I'd been looking forward to this race for months and was pumped that we had an awesome team put together- friend from Vegas, friends from UT and soon to be friends from the Ragnar message boards. However, with one week to go I had four - FOUR! - teammates drop out of the race (one the day before that race). Talk about stressful! So, out of thin air I had to find 4 replacement runners (not to mention paying $80 to substitute runners). I think God really wanted us to do this race because we miraculously found some KILLER runners for our team!

Friday afternoon those of us in Van 1 headed up to Logan for our 2pm start time. I loved going back to my old stomping grounds and happened to run into a ton of people, some of whom I haven't seen since I graduated from USU. It was great.

Sarah - aka IcyHot - was our awesome first runner and she killed her first leg even though it was blazing hot outside.
I - Cropstar - was runner 2. My first leg started out really well but I started to die in the heat around mile 3. Since this was the first time doing Wasatch Back for any of us, we hadn't yet learned the importance of supporting your runner by stopping every few miles to cheer them on and get them whatever they need. So I was on my own for 6.7 miles. I had my fuel belt with me but my water an gatorade were like hot tea by the time I finished my run. But it felt great to get the first leg done with.
Chloe took the 3rd leg and got to see some gorgeous scenery around Hyrum Dam. I was feeling her pain running in that hot, hot heat.
Anne - aka Freckle Face Girl - was runner 4 and it soon became clear that training at sea level does not help you when you're running at altitude.
Mike - aka Warren (a la Warren Jeffs because he was the only guy in the van... get it? get it? ok I just came up with that and thought it was hilarious) - was our awesome 5th runner. He kicked it in gear to make up for us super slow runners. He had a nice uphill on gravel run. He was also our resident techno geek who kept track of all our times and made it super easy to figure out when we'd have to meet with the other van at every exchange.
Maria - aka The Camp Director - amazed me by not spraining an ankle running her steep downhill gravel/boulder run. She rocked it.

Finally it was time to meet up with Van 2 - Kelli, Melinda, Josh, Jason, Bryan and Matt. These guys were too fast an their legs were too short so it didn't give us much time to rest. But they seriously rocked all their runs! And had way tons of fun doing it.

Our 2nd shift came at about midnight. Everyone did pretty well now that it was cool (I'd call it cold) and we weren't melting on the asphalt. None of us had gotten that much sleep by then end of our second shift so we were all pretty cranky. We knew we were at the end of the pack due to our late start time and slow running but we kept cranking. During our break we took a ride into Park City to find a convenience store to change, fill up with gas and use the nice bathrooms. Although, as many have said, those Honey Bucket Portapotties were the finest I've ever used. I feel weird saying that but they were so clean and didn't stink. What more can you ask for from a portapotty. We went back to Rockport State Park to wait for Van 2 and finally all got a good nap. We were much happier.

However- here's the part where I just wanted to quit- I already knew we were one of the very last teams on the course and I seriously hate to lose. More than that though, I felt like I personally had let down the entire team because we weren't in first place. We were really hoping that even though we were one of the last teams that we wouldn't be one of the slowest teams... but we kind of figured we were. I can't exactly explain why but I was really feeling like I was an awful team captain. Then came the text from Van 2 that said "Josh just ran 2-1/2 miles in the wrong direction!" Not only did I feel horrible for him that he had to run those extra miles but I knew this did not bode well for our case. All I wanted was to not be in last place. Then I was really ready to quit when the next message said "Our van just died". I seriously knew at that point that we were done. Pack it up kids! This game is over! But, luckily they were able to get a jump and didn't lose anytime because of the situation. So... we were still ok.

It was so great to see everyone in Van 2 at that exchange. I just wanted to hug all of them and tell them how much I appreciated them sticking with it and making the best of the situation. At this point we found out that there was only one team - ONE - behind us (an ultra team that was about one exchange back). So now it was time for our final running shift. I wasn't looking forward to this because, yet again, we were running at the hottest part of the day.

Sarah rocked her final leg. I had to seriously dig deep to make it through mine. I had some gorgeous scenery and a nice breeze through Oakley and Kamus to get me through. But the thought that kept going through my head, and the one that really pushed me along, was that I wasn't running for myself. I was running for 11 other people and I was not going to let them down. The best part of the run was how awesome my van was. They stopped every mile or so to hook me up with some ice that felt so, so good. I put some in my mouth, held some in my hands, then rubbed it on my head and arms. It felt awesome. I was pretty sure the exchange was never going to come but it finally did and I was so relieved. I was done! It took me until 1/2 way through Chloe's final run to realized that I really was done and man, that was an awesome feeling. Chloe dug deep and finished strong then Anne was on her way. I wish she could have seen herself running because she ran 3 miles up a steep, steep hill at nearly 7000ft. She wanted so badly to finish her run but with about 2 miles left she couldn't even breathe. I know it killed her to have to let Maria finish her run for her but that is the amazing thing about being part of a team. When we've done all we can do sometimes we have to let someone else help us out and sometimes we are the person that can fill in for someone else. I was seriously in tears as we welcomed our dear Anne back into the van. I was SO proud of her and at the same time I knew exactly how she was feeling for having to quit. But it really was one of the most beautiful moments of the race for me. I don't mean to get all Gospely here but seriously - think Atonement and you'll understand why this was a beautiful moment for me.
Maria rocked out the last 2 miles then Mike seriously went into turbo mode for his last leg. Seriously that kid killed it! The good news is that even though the Ultra team caught up with us at this exchange, they were still behind us. Maria finished strong, despite bee stings and the confusing course. Finally we were done! And not in last place... or were we?

Yep- the Ultra team tricked us. Turns out that there was a mess up with their starting time so they had actually done the last half of the race before they finished the first half. So this meant we were LIT'RALLY in LAST PLACE. Can you even understand what it feels like to be the very last of 575 teams? Seriously, we felt like losers... well, I did anyway. It was embarrassing to be last. But, my teammates were champs and just kept plugging along. There was no question that we wouldn't finish this damn race. We didn't care if everyone was going to have to wait for us at the finish line. We were going to finish. I love them all for this.

So, we made our way done to Park City to wait for Van 2 to rock it in for us. We slept, ate, and just chilled and it felt great. There was tons of energy at the finish line and it was awesome to see so many people who'd participated in this awesome event. As we were waiting I sat by the finish line watching teams come in. This was when things started looking not as gloomy as I thought they were. I realized that there were teams that were finishing with the same time that we projected. Then I realized there were teams that were way slower than us! Happy thought indeed! We weren't the slowest! We may be the last but we weren't the slowest!

Then came the awesome text messages from Van 2 - 5 kills along the way! AWESOME!! However, I was a little sad that we weren't the slowest, nor the very last team. I mean... there's no distinction in that. Ha! But, I was just so happy to be near the finish and so, so proud of my team!

FINALLY... at 8:54pm, after Mattybear came around the corner, we all ran down the shoot and crossed the finish line with a total time of 30:53:46. HURRAH!!

I can honestly say this was one of the hardest things I've ever done but without a doubt one of the most awesome experiences and definitely a highlight. Being team captain was one of the most frustrating, stressful, time consuming and expensive things. I kept saying that I'd do WBR again but I would never but team captain again. But, I learned a lot. There are tons of things I'd do differently to make it better but overall I couldn't have asked for things to go more smoothly.

Would I do it again? Yes. Hell yes! Only... I'll train harder.

19 June 2008

Jumping the Gun

I wish everyone got it like this girl.

Check it out: Jumping the Gun

You're making tears come outta my face!

Seriously, Jean-Marc Genereux! I never thought it would be possible for you to make me cry. But there I was... tears running down my face. Beautiful.

And Twitch and Kherington, COME ON! Could you two BE any more amazing?!

But Mark and Chelsie H... wow. You guys are my favs!

Wait! Matt and Kourtni, YOU guys are my favs!

And Joshua, you are so darling. I just want to carry you around in my pocket!

AHH! There is just too much to love about this show!!

Am I right in saying that the choreography this season is already above and beyond?

18 June 2008


My "minor project slash sushi date" cancelled on me. Now I have to hate him... at least until next week when we reschedule. Man, I was really looking forward to free sushi and edamame! Oh, and of course his company. But I was really craving sushi.

What's that you say? "I thought cropstar didn't like sushi and raw fish?" Well... you're right. But deep fry that sushi/eel, wrap in in avacado and cream cheese and deep fry it again and damn. That's some good eats.

Ah HA!

Hal Higdon is THE MAN! I might have a bit of an old man crush on him.
I used his training schedule for my 1/2 marathon and love it so I thought I'd stick with him for the full. I've been reading his book MARATHON: The Ultimate Training Guide in preparation for the St George Marathon in October. Until the moment I finished my first 1/2 marathon, I never thought I'd have the courage or ability to train for and complete a full marathon. My confidence still waivers so I need every bit of help I can get. This book has been a revelation! Seriously!

They say to start slow. I always figured that since I'm the world's slowest runner that running as fast as I can is still considered "slow" compared to most people. So this rule doesn't apply to me right? WRONG!

Hal Says:

" If there is one difference between fast runners and those who finish back in the pack, it's that the fast runners seem to have no qualms about running slowly. They're not embarrassed about it. One year at the Boston Marathon when I was in town appearing at the expo. not running the race, I went out the day before the race for an easy job of a few miles along the Charles River. Returning, I arrived at a pedestrian bridge across Storrow Drive at the precise moment as did two Kenyan runners. I had seen them at a press conference the day before, so I smiled and nodded, and they smiled back. After we crossed the bridge and continued to jog up a side street toward out hotels, I realized I was jogging faster than they were. In fact, I had to slow my pace to avoid embarrassing myself by passing them. The following day I say them on TV at the front of the lead pack. If runners capable of sub-2:10 marathons are not embarrassed to jog very slowly, you should not be, either.

...the goal is to perform well in important races, not in every daily workout."

Guess what. I'm not a fast runner. Guess what. That's OK! There are plenty of runners out there who aren't "fast" either. And that's OK! It's finally time to stop comparing myself to others.

So, I thought I'd give it a shot. Normally when I do a 3-miler I'll start at 9:30, get exhausted after mile 1, walk for a while, run slowly for a bit and then walk some more and end up averaging 12:00. This week I've slowed my starting pace to a comfortable 10:30 and it has been amazing how much longer I can run without getting too tired. Running comfortably at the beginning allows me to push myself towards the end of the run. My last 3 runs I've done negative splits and finish under 31:30 for the total 3 miles. Awesome! It has taken me an entire year of running to figure out that "starting slow" means staring slow FOR ME. And ya know? They are right!

16 June 2008

is it ironic that i'm wearing all black today?

Take this test!
Your color is black. The color of night. Serene and mysterious, black conjures up images of elegant evening gowns, dashing tuxedos, and gleaming limousines. Traditionally a symbol of success, black also represents power and an uncompromising demand for perfection. Not surprisingly, you tend to set challenging goals for yourself and do whatever it takes to achieve them — your strength of character is second to none. This unfaltering determination, along with your natural elegance, impresses people. But keep in mind that your personality might be intimidating to some. Try to temper your demanding side with a little softness — trust us, it won't kill you. Overall, though, black is the color of professionalism and achievement, which means it's clearly the color for you.

15 June 2008

sometimes i forget that i have a blog.

sorry for not posting this week. i got hit with the flu then busyness.
hopefully this week i'll be able to do a few vacay recap posts. i just barely looked through all my photos. i think i may have gone a little overboard with the photography.

on second thought, i may not get get to the vacay posts as i'll be prepping for wasatch back this coming weekend. bad news for the team- we lost 3 guys this week. i'm very not happy about that. we've got 2 replacements already but if anyone wants to run this friday and saturday let me know! we've got a spot open!

08 June 2008

Contrary to popular belief...

Yes, I'm still alive. I could blame my lack of blogging on having to readjust to real life but truth is it took no time at all. I just haven't cared enough about my faithful readers to update you. Well, that's not totally true.

The problem is that I just spent 17 amazing days in Europe and took over 1,400 photos (seriously...) and I want to tell you all about it and show you all the photos but I'm overwhelmed at the thought of actually blogging about it. But, I promise as soon as I sift through the photos I'll give you the run down on the travels.

Suffice it to say, it was AMAZING! Consumer and I had tons of fun, ate more food that any human should consume and delved (is that a word?) into the rich history of every city we visited. I returned enriched and rested and well... it basically changed my entire perspective on life (ok, not really but, if you watch "The Hills" you'll get why this is funny).

I love to travel. I love seeing new places and peoples. But, inevitably, at the end of the vacation I am always happy to come home. Until you are without it you take for granted the luxuries, comforts and conveniences of everyday American life.

The good news is that my jet lag really worked to my advantage. Before leaving I was in the habit of staying up until 2am and waking up at 8:30am. Not a good schedule. I basically could have used the bags under my eyes to pack for my trip. The night I got home (one week ago today) I fell asleep at 10:30pm and was wide awake and ready to take on the day (which involved sitting at my desk with nothing to do for 8 long hours) at 6am Monday morning. I've tried to be diligent about keeping this schedule and am happy to report that it has stuck. I feel so well rested everyday. I feel so much better in general. Someone once told me that the hours you sleep before midnight count for twice as much as the hours you sleep after midnight. It's the whole "early to bed, early to rise" concept and I am now a firm believer.

And on that note, I'm up past my bedtime and ready for sweet dreams.

PS - Can I just add two things?
First of all, Wasatch Back is in 12 days and I'm in serious panic mode. Totally not ready. That whole "running in Europe" thing didn't really take. I was too exhausted from all the walking, etc we did to even think about doing it... and then it was too cold and then I was too lazy. Oops. Sorry team.
Second of all, I went to see "What Happens In Vegas" last night and loved it. That's the good thing about going into a movie with low expectations. Anyway, just wanted to tell you that.