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Big Cottonwood Half Marathon


This was the inaugural year for this event. And they put on one amazing race.

You can always tell if a race is organized by runners or by…anyone else. Runners understand what is important in the race day experience, and what’s not.

The pictures were well done…and free!

From the get-go, they marketed the Big Cottonwood Half really well. Not with annoying fliers at every other event (I’m looking at you Provo Halloween Half), but with Internet ads. And they offered great discounts for things like liking them on Facebook. And…they sold out, months in advance of the race.

With the first pre-race email, I knew this was going to be different. They promised race day gloves in the race packet (sweet!), and emergency blankets at the start (which promised to be very chilly). Then they moved start time back half an hour so it’d be a little warmer and a little lighter.

Next? An email saying if you follow the instructions (like them on facebook, something else that took no effort), you’d get your race day pics…FREE! FREE?!?!?!? Race day pics are never free, and they’re expensive, so you usually rely on pictures taken by friends and family. They’re reasoning? ‘You already paid for the race, why should you pay more for photos.’

Parking for the shuttle bus at the beginning was the only hiccup in the day. There were too many cars going into too little a space. Also, bad directions. Thank goodness for my little car, because at one point I had to make a 3-point turn in the parking lot in which everyone else was having a big problem finding space to turn around.

Buses? Great organization. Emergency blankets at the very, very dark start? Awesome. Colleen and I chose not to use the bag drop, but from the looks and sounds of it, that was really well done, too.

We started out at 6:30, just as the sun barely started peaking over the mountains behind us. As it got higher (and we ran farther down the canyon), the sun lit up amazing fall colors. The aid stations were always stocked, the volunteers were incredibly awake and excited, and the mileage markers were perfectly spaced. THAT, I love, because I find misread mileage during races to be incredibly annoying. If my Garmin can keep better distance tracking than yours…then as a race director, you have the wrong equipment.

The whole race was well marked (not that you can really lose your way running down a one-road canyon), but for the one mile after the canyon, too.

And the finish line? Tons of people (always nice), great food at the end (including Popsicles? Best post-race food I’ve ever had!), and a lot of fun.

Do I sound like a spokesperson? Well I would gladly be. It was great. I love running downhill races with Colleen, who had a PR of about 6 or 7 minutes as we came in around 2 hours, 6 minutes. When the open registration for next year (hopefully within a few weeks), I’m signing up immediately.

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And then we ran races…


We did. Here’s a short (or not) list and synopsis of each one I have run so far this year.

Color Me Rad (April) – was. awesome. once we figured out that you cannot breathe colored cornstarch and had to keep your mouth shut while going through color stations. I was pretty nervous about the schedule we’d laid out, as it was a lot of races. About a mile into this race, running side by side with my running buddies Colleen and Ana, I remembered that ‘hell, running is fun!’, and that it doesn’t matter if I run every race as fast as possible, but it matters if I enjoy every race as much as possible.

Running With Ed (May) – this is a fun, 5 person, ~45 mile relay race that raises $ for and visits each school in the Park City School District. I wore a bacon skirt, Chris wore a cape, it was all awesome. Plus, I ran extremely fast UP the Olympic Park hill (that’s hard, for those of you who don’t know it). During my second leg, the only guy to pass me during both my legs said ‘mmm, bacon’, and I swear I don’t know if he was hitting on me or my skirt.

Memorial Day 5K (May) – is not a 5k. Is much more like 3.5(+)? miles. I ran sub 9 minute miles the whole time, and was much closer to 8 minute miles. It’s a big loop around Park Meadows, starting and ending at the High School. I strive so hard to be one of the first few women in this race, but keep getting thwarted by former Olympians (oh, Park City).

St. Olaf Reunion 5K (June) – I had forgotten my freshman dorm actually has no sound proofing. Or, did I just not know? I may have been woken up at 3:00AM by my college classmates sneaking (yes, sneaking, as campus is dry, even for alumni) a cooler full of beer into the dorm. I expected to be really fast since I was running at about 300 feet elevation as compared to the ~7000 at which I live and train. But don’t you know that darn humidity erases all gain from the elevation loss. So, I came in at much faster than a 8 minute / mile pace (closer to 7:30?), I was the third female, and it was so much fun to run around the college, something I did only 3 or 4 times while I was there.

Ragnar Wasatch Back (June) – I had a really easy leg this year. I only ran about 14 miles, and since that was the case, I ran them pretty fast. My team had a great time with each other, as usual. One of the fun things was that we got our team registered for Ragnar Vegas the day before Ragnar Wasatch Back, so I got to see TWO Ragnars in my login page. I’m just saying, it was pretty exciting.

4th of July 5K (July) – someday I’m going to feel like I’ve conquered this course. But at this point, even though I train on it, train to run it, train to know how it’s going to kill me, it always does. Kill me. I came in very close to 24 minutes this year, which I consider a major triumph. But the course still beats me, every year. I can’t imagine all those people who come in from out of town to run it.

Canyon to Canyon Half Marathon (July) – this was really more of a training run for which I received a t-shirt and got to run with a whole mess of people on a measured course. Ana and I didn’t run for time, but just to finish a good, slow, training run on new terrain. The course was tough. It was mostly on a dirt road, with a lot of rolling hills, and it was absolutely beautiful running.

Legacy Midnight Half Marathon (July) – the one in which we all decide that we’re too old to run that far after our bedtimes. Next year, maybe the 5k or 10k. I love glow-in-the-dark accessories as much as anyone (no, really, I’m kind of obsessed), but I was a zombie by 11 o’clock. I ran with my running buddies through mile 7, and then decided to see how fast I could run a 10K. The answer was, fast. It was a great tempo training (6 fast miles at the end of 13). And, it was fun to run at night. But the Legacy Parkway smells funny, isn’t always pretty, and I just can’t see doing it again.

Park City Half Marathon (August) – I was training all summer for this run, basically. I knew I wanted a sub 2 hour half marathon at elevation (my only other sub 2 was in Tucson), and I knew I was ready for it. I ran just fast enough to not feel like I was working too hard for the first half of the course but was within my goal for time splits, and then let myself go as fast as I felt comfortable, coming in at a happy 1:52:57 (ish). I was superbly happy with that time. Also running were: Ana, Colleen, my nephew Donaven (his first half!), and my mother walked it (she’s amazing!)

Salt Lake City Half Marathon Relay (September) – the girls and I did the relay. It was great to run such short distances, yet feel like we accomplished so much. As we left our respective houses for the race, there was a hell of a thunder and lightening storm going on. All of us thinking ‘I don’t think we should run in this much lightening’. It was still raining as we left PC. But by the time we got to East Canyon, it was just a light drizzle, there was no lightening, no thunder, and you could tell the day was actually going to turn out perfect.

Miner Day 5K (September) – the quintessential Park City race. It was a brand new course this year (no running UP Park Ave at the end of 3 miles), and the course was a little short. But, it was fast, it was a great morning, and it was (as always) fun. I was trying to keep up with a woman from London, so my first mile actually came in at sub 7. Not really something I want or had planned for. I steadily slowed down through the next two miles (in my defense, they were uphill).

I actually have run one more race at this point, but it was just last weekend, and it deserves it’s own post. It was amazing – the best run race I’ve ever participated in, I think. So, peoples, Big Cottonwood Half Marathon is coming up next!


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And….she’s back.


Have I been away? Well, mentally maybe.

I had a very difficult spring in the mental health arena. I wasn’t happy with my work, which made it harder to do anything, including workout regularly. On Valentine’s Day, the was a treadmill, which Chris and I bought. Totally out of character for us. For something that important that costs that much, it’s more like the two of us to spend weeks (months? years?) agonizing over the right model, the lowest price, and if it’s something we can afford.

Putting the treadmill together was one of those experiences. You know, one of THOSE. We put it together almost entirely, realized we’d left something out, took it apart almost entirely, and put it back together. They’d changed the version of the treadmill, but not updated the instructions. Special. We did inventory before we started, and were missing a ton of screws, bolts, nuts, and washers that it said were needed. Chris ran to the hardware store before it closed, and picked up a bunch of the “missing parts”. What did we end up using? One bolt and one washer.

But the treadmill was great. Instead of having to get up at 6 to get to the gym to run half an hour, shower, and get home, I could get up at 6:25 and accomplish the same thing and more. The treadmill is in our front porch, so you get to watch the sun come up over the mountains. And, you can run at night! After the gym is closed, the treadmill still turns on. It’s amazing.

It’s also iFit compatible, which is pretty cool. iFit allows you to do a lot of customization to workouts on your treadmill, including mapping out an outside run and having your treadmill simulate it in terms of incline (decline if your treadmill does that). I haven’t subscribed to iFit, as I’m not really ready for that kind of monthly commitment.

Point of the story: the treadmill kept me running at least a little through the winter / early spring. After tax season, race season started and hasn’t really stopped, and that will be discussed next.

127 Hours

I finally just had the chance to see 127 Hours, the film portraying Aron Ralston’s climb in Blue John Canyon in southern Utah during which he had to saw off his own arm.

As someone who loves being in the outdoors, loves hiking, and extreme sports in general (except climbing…that whole heights thing), I have read many commentaries on Ralston’s experience and his career since then. Many people think he shouldn’t be so famous, because his actions were, basically, not safe. He didn’t follow the basic rules of the outdoors: he didn’t tell anyone where he was going, he didn’t tell them when to expect him back, and he didn’t really prepare for every possibility (in other words, his pack was half-assed packed).

I don’t think anyone, Ralston included, wouldn’t agree he was dumb. He knew he should have told someone where he was going and when he would be back. But in his story, is that really the point?

Well, yeah, partly. Because after hearing a story like that, everyone of us will be more conscious about the rules and about our gear. But the part of the story that makes it worth telling is that Ralston obviously has some strength that many of us might not have. He had the strength to survive, no matter what. Could I cut my arm off? I really don’t know; and I think you can’t know until you find yourself in that situation.

So to those who can’t find the good in anybody who does something stupid, let’s shut up. Learn from his experience, and find a way to thrive from the strength he obviously found in that canyon. You never know when a little extra good in the world, such as letting someone’s strength outweigh their faults, might bolster a little extra good in your own heart.

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Special Offer for Runner’s World Editors:


You too can lose a reader!

It’ll be easy! Follow these easy steps from this special offer:

1) Send me another ad with my monthly subscription that is this offensive to women:

2) Don’t apologize in the next issue for perpetuating the idea that women need to be concerned with how they look and especially how they look naked as opposed to living a healthy lifestyle.

Look, I don’t read Women’s Health. Is it possible they’re a magazine that promotes a strong and self-reliant woman? Sure, but based on the cover and “health guides” (HA!) shown on this ad, I don’t read Women’s Health because they think I, as a woman, should be concerned with ‘big sex secrets’ and ‘how I look naked’. Guess what? No.

I understand you make money via these ads stuck in plastic with our decently low priced monthly subscription, but you should be more discerning about what ads you approve. Women runners are strong, healthy women who don’t appreciate being told that maybe we’re not good enough and should work on that. Remember how confidence is an important part of running, racing, and life? Magazines and ads like this work against that confidence to tell women there’s more than training and working hard and meeting goals (in any facet of life) – there are ‘cellulite blasters’ and ‘super-hot sex secrets’ and ’6 flat-belly powerfoods’.

I don’t get women’s magazines because I don’t want to be told I should be concerned with how I look or if I’m pleasing my man. I read Runner’s World because it tells me how to run effectively and be healthy. Stick to that, even in advertising, RW, and you’ll have me for life.
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