Saturday, February 28, 2015

If this isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen.....

Well then I'll give you a dollar :)

If you are new to these two, Flora is our 120 lb mally girl, rescued about two years ago. She's the biggest, goofiest, smushiest love sponge of a dog.

Dexter is our newest addition. We adopted him at age 20. TWENTY! He's a very special dude -- who was rescued from a hoarding situation. He craves affection and just wants to be next to you, all day, every second of the day.

We weren't sure how Flora would react to a cat. After all, she's very BIG and very wolfy.  I guess we had nothing to worry about :)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Antelope Canyon 50 miler: A Sandy Beast

Beware: beautiful, beautiful pain ahead.
I need to write this blog now. In just about 24 hours I will forget all about the brutal, agonizing, painful, emotional, and grueling parts -- only to be replaced by the wonderful, exhilarating, amazing, breath-taking, powerful, all-encompassing beauty of the experience.

I am going to be real here: That Race Broke Me.

But, here's the awesome part about running. Any race. Any distance. If you keep on, if you push through, you will finish. And it's not really about the time, it's about the experience. It's just the sheer fact that YOU DID IT. No matter what, you did NOT GIVE UP. And that's what the post is going to be about.

Here' some nice photos to get you feeling warm and fuzzy. These are the sights that kept me going.

About 5 miles into the race. Awesomeness!

En route to Antelope Canyon -- perfect weather, brilliant skies.

An awesome runner at the entrance of Antelope
This sums up how I feel about everything. Right now. And all at once.

The incomparable Antelope Canyon (oh man, how I wish I had a real camera!!)
Running through Antelope was magnificent. Everyone had so much energy. It was just pure exhilaration. I was feeling great. Awesome. On fire!

The views after Antelope were spectacular. Ultra Adventures knows how to put on a show.

Runners above, runners below.

Surreal. Just that.
I whizzed through Horseshoe bend checkpoint way ahead of schedule. That should have been my queue to slow the heck down. But true to Jill style, I wanted to go fast. I wanted to finish fast! I should have listened to my inner voice of reason saying "you will pay for this later, trust me."

Meanwhile... the views at Horseshoe Bend:

I can't even write a proper description.
After this beautiful view things went quickly downhill.

I just. got. tired.

Really tired. Really fast.

Thankfully I had a nice stash of Honey Stinger gels and waffles. I knew I wasn't doing very well. My heart started beating out of my chest, anxiety set in, and I felt very sick. This usually means I need to refuel. And fast.

I also didn't pee yet -- which was bad. Really bad. I drank as much as I could stomach, ate a waffle and kept on. I wanted to cry but really I just had to mentally get through.

I made it to the next aid station. I cannot say enough about the volunteers who sacrifice their weekends to accommodate our crazy running aspirations. THANK YOU! The folks there got me right back on track.. some salty chips and chia fresca (I dont know.. it was awesome tho!) and I was feeling A OK again! I navigated the trippy waterholes slot canyon (see photo below)....

There are tears behind that smile.
 Once I climbed out of water holes, game was ON. I hooked up with such an amazing runner, Zanna, who kepts me moving. Actually, we were flying! I felt awesome (that's the beauty of the ultra - one minute you are down for the count -- and a few potato chips and a honey stinger later you are LIGHTNING!)

At mile 34ish I saw my FAMILY! This meant everything to me! I could do it! I could push through. Those cute little blondies yelling "GO MOM".. Steve, the most amazing husband ever who puts up with this craziness... I knew I had to shove on.

mile 37 I saw these smiling faces --- xoxoxo my Kanab friends, who took a day to volunteer and be AWESOME, per usual:

OK, 13 miles to go. I got this. Right! Right???

Well, my mind was saying yes. My stomach was saying "yeh right, lady -- no way." And here's tip #1 from ultrarunner Jill. Never.. NEVER.. forget immodium on a long run. It's really the difference between life and death. Or, smiling and crying. I felt SO sick. So so so sick.

Here's the deal though. In ultrarunning you meet these amazing souls. People who would sacrifice their own time for YOU. Little ol' you. Those people, for me, were Sean and Sue. Sean -- amazing, never give up, always positive, keep moving... and Sue --- "you got this, you are a warrior, you are NOT quitting" These two people literally kept me moving. I cannot say enough about the ultrarunning community. Everyone is just so awesome and willing to help you achieve your goals.

At mile 49.8 I saw them. I saw the smiling faces of the three people I love the most in this world: Steve, Harry and JJ. Harry kicked it up and ran with me the final .2 miles, through the finish line.

11 hours and 39 min. I'll take it! (4 HOURS off of last year's time. OK -- YES! Heck yes! I'll take it!)

My motivator, Sue. This lady rocks!

My hand crafted finisher bracelet. Love it! I earned it!!
A couple shout outs -- first to Ultra Adventures -- The coolest people, the most bad ass races. I love these guys.

Also to Honey Stinger who fueled my run and gave me the pure, natural energy to keep going. And to Athleta, the ONLY running tights I swear by --- just cool looking, SUPER comfortable, supportive and ready to perform.

Oh wow, look at that! I've already forgotten about those rough patches :) Monument Valley in a month? Bring.It.On :)

Thanks for reading xoxo

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Other-worldly Adventures - White Pocket, AZ

There's this place. It's called White Pocket.

I kinda feel like I landed on another planet
White Pocket is logistically difficult to get to. It's in the middle of nowhere and to get here it takes a really good 4wd (on most days) with high clearance (we love our Xterra!!) and you have to have pretty good navigation skills. The sandy "roads" that lead you to this wonderland are deep and rugged. But let me tell you -- it's worth the effort.

Power to the She

Happy little clams

desert oasis

JJ gets a lift from dad (when is this kid gonna pull his own weight?!)
White Pocket is a destination that many people will never ever see in their lifetime. So here's the deal -- wanna go see? Come visit me! We'll take you :)

We went with our awesome friends The Hiatt Fam. See, they have a 4wd, but like I mentioned you need the right kind of 4wd w/ HIGH CLEARANCE. After a few attempts to make it to the trail head, their car was just not gonna do it. So we piled in the trusty Xterra, clown car style (4 adults, 4 kids and 2 large dogs) Please -- do NOT underestimate the dangers of going out alone in the wild west. Pack shovels, tow ropes, and enough water for 2-3 days.

My sweet marshmallow of a dog

Getting in some trail work for my upcoming 50 miler next weekend!

cooling off

Thank goodness for strong dads :)

JJ gets a lift from his buddy Sam
Next weekend I'm going for it -- at the Antelope Canyon 50 miler. White Pocket was a stop on the Antelope Canyon Trifecta (read about this opportunity here if you are into running in amazing scenery and with seriously cool people!!!) I'm so glad we had the perfect weather and perfect friends to come along on this adventure. xoxo

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Trail shoe review: Mizuno Wave Kazan

What good is a shoe review without an adorable fluffy malamute?

This is my first official shoe review. My last couple of relationships with shoes haven't been very good. It all started when Mizuno discontinued my one true love of a shoe -- the Wave Elixir. Oh, how I loved that shoe. It was perfect in every way. It was light, fast, comfy, and had the perfect amount of stability.

Over the next year, a lot of disasters happened. This is in no way a diss on the specific shoes that I will next mention -- it's more that I have messed up feet and so I literally need THE PERFECT shoe.

I tried the Altra Torins. Loved loved loved them. They were so comfy! So I splurged on Altra Lone Peaks (for trails). That's when everything went downhill. It could have been just a coincidence, but after my first run I developed plantar fasciitis (which is probably the worst injury I've ever had). After running in standard shoes my entire life, and then switching to zero drop (which means there is no difference between the heel and ball of the foot from the ground) I most likely strained my plantar fascia and put extra stress on my achilles. Ouch.

I heard about Hoka trail shoes. I know a lot of runners who swear by them (especially to treat/heal plantar issues). Hoka's are crazy looking moon shoes that have max cushioning. I tried them out on two runs. I never got such bad blisters. Another $$$$ down the drain. (side note --- they did totally kick ass when it came to keeping sand out! If you have a narrow(er) toe box, you might love these shoes!)

I decided to give Mizuno's another shot.

I chose the Mizuno Wave Kazan for a few reasons.

(Note about me if YOU are considering this shoe!: I am an average build female - 140 lb. I train about 40 miles/week off season and 50-70 during season. I over-pronate and past injuries include achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis)

Supportive (more of a stability shoe)
Light-weight (only 8 oz -- amazing for a trail shoe!)
Traditional drop (12 mm heal to toe differential)
Good heel notch, doesn't rub achilles (big deal for me..)
Good arch support
Cool looking!

Fit a little small -- go 1/2 - 1 size up
Feel a little stiff (at first!)
Need to double/triple knot laces

But would they hold up on runs through sand and rocks? And for many, many miles (without blisters and hot spots?) I needed to try them.

I ran about 50 miles in them so far. The trails I run are very sandy and technical. There are a lot of small rocks and loose scree. There are also sharp rocks and slick rock.

First impressions (first run): The feel is a little stiff and not as cushioned as I am used to. They had good responsiveness on rocky trails. I didn't get very much sand in the shoe. NO BLISTERS!

Second run: OK, this stiff feel might not be too bad. I actually quite like how it hugs my foot and after a 10 mile trail run my feet feel great.

Third run: I can't believe I said these were stiff! They feel really really great. 

Overall, I really LOVE these shoes!The true test will be my upcoming 50 miler. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Huntress! A secret slot canyon in Kanab.

I heard about this cool little slot canyon just north of Kanab that was fairly easy to hike to. You can't really find directions online and so this made the journey even more exciting for us. We loaded up and brought Flora along for the adventure. Check out these pics!

Heading down the wash to find THE HUNTRESS!

Taking a quick rest with our favorite girl

Flora wonders "how did I get so lucky???"

70 degrees in February. That's sand, not snow!

I love this pic. Great colors, rad swirls, cute boy.

Brothers in awe

JJ the explorer


Flora is a just a wee bit too large.. er... fluffy... to climb up into the slot.

Dad and his boys

Just chillin' in nature

I will never, ever, take this wonderful wacky surreal place for granted. We are so lucky to live here!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Time to get serious -- 2 weeks til Antelope Canyon 50 miler

I'm going for round 2 at the Antelope Canyon 50 miler on Feb 21. I am SO EXCITED!

Antelope Canyon was my first foray into the world of ultrarunning last year. My slightly crazy friend Cory (I mean that in the very best way) convinced me that since Antelope Canyon was "in my neck of the woods" (not really -- but close enough) I should just go for it. You know, just go run 50 miles.. no big deal (side note: Cory ran 205 miles IN ONE RACE last year -- see? crazy!) I took him up on that and I could not be more grateful for the lil' nudge. Within a year I ran 3 ultras (taking first place in the Grand Canyon 50!) and was named as an Ambassador for Ultra Adventures!

Here are some pics from last year

Precariously running alongside a cliff overlooking the Colorado River

A few miles into the race, early morning.

Heading into a super awesome slot canyon. We had to climb down steep sand hills and even climb up and down very high ladders. Fun and scary!

Mother Nature decided to make things a bit harder

The incomparable Antelope Canyon

Desert views

About halfway done. I was never so happy to see my family at the aid station (why I'm smiling!! crying on the inside LOL)

My beautiful handmade navajo medal. I earned this!!

After a couple of months dealing with the most annoying running injury, IMO (plantar fasciitis) I am on the road to recovery and ready to kill it this year! Look out :)