Of Road Trips, Birthdays, and Fast(er) Runs

It was a road trip weekend!

It had been over a month since I had been to Idaho to visit my little niece and nephews, so I took advantage of Labor Day weekend to go visit my family (and celebrate my nephew’s third birthday while we were there).  It’s been a rough few weeks for me, although not for any reason in particular.  I’ve simply been feeling run-down and unexcited about most things.  Because I’ve been in a bit of a slump, I was very excited to take a day off work and get away.  I was counting down the minutes until I could leave work on Thursday, and I can only describe my attitude as that of a college student the day before Christmas break.

The road trip got off to a spectacular start on Thursday evening when my little Honda’s air conditioning suddenly and inexplicably broke while I was driving home from work.  Awesome.  Who wants working air conditioning, anyway?  At my urging, we decided to stick with the plan and drive my car up anyway.  This was ostensibly so that my dad could troubleshoot my AC problem and let me know if it was a cheap fix or an expensive one.  While that was one reason, I also had a less practical (perhaps more influential) reason.  I had been looking forward to a nice Saturday morning ride with Rob, and if we had taken his car, we could have only brought one bike.  So, my little Honda it was.

I picked up Rob at 6:30am on Friday morning.  We stopped at McDonald’s for our traditional road trip breakfast and drove up to Boise.  The drive up was as wonderful as a five hour drive can be.  Most people I’ve met think the drive between Salt Lake City and Boise is ugly and barren, but Rob and I both find the colors of the desert gorgeous, so we always enjoy the scenery.

We were both hit with a wave of nostalgia when we came into Boise.  I know this is clichéd Idaho-speak, but it really is a gem of a city, and nowhere else has managed to feel like home quite the way Boise does.  We stopped by Hyde Park to visit TriTown, our old bike/triathlon shop.  We got some lunch while we were there and basked in the joy of being in Boise again.

Visiting TriTown for the first time in months
Visiting TriTown for the first time in months

Once we got to my parents’ place, the evening was mostly taken up by playing with the little monsters and stocking up on vegetable bouillon.  Yes, you read that right.  I can’t find anywhere in Salt Lake City that sells Knorr Vegetable Bouillon cubes.  Chicken and beef?  Always in stock.  But vegetable?  Nowhere.  Not at WinCo, Harmon’s, Smith’s, or anywhere else I’ve checked.  It’s absolutely absurd that I need to travel 350 miles to get vegetable bouillon.

All the little monsters
All the little monsters
SO. MUCH. BOUILLON.
SO. MUCH. BOUILLON.

I was unreasonably excited to go on a bike ride with Rob on Saturday morning.  I wanted to ride around Lake Lowell with him.  It’s a fairly easy (and very pretty) ride, and it’s perfect for a not-too-intense workout.  But it was cold.  Like, unseasonably and unreasonably cold.  There was no way Rob was making it out with the clothes we had packed (knit gloves and arm warmers), and it sounded pretty miserable to me too.  I was really disappointed—far more disappointed than any 27 year old has the right to be when something that small goes wrong.  I wanted to work out, but I certainly didn’t want to go on a 50° bike ride on a rainy day—especially when that ride was supposed to have been a fun, glorious ride.

So I moped around for a while (“I drove up here with no air conditioning to go on this ride!”) and lamented the weather before I was struck with a grand idea.  Sunday was supposed to be a perfect day, so Rob and I could skip church and go out Sunday (I only felt a little guilty for this).  That meant I was running on Saturday.  And, while I would usually take a 30 mile bike ride over a 7 mile run any day, a 7 mile run in cold-ish weather is leaps and bounds better than a 30 mile bike ride in that same weather, so I was almost happy to run.  And I surprised myself on the run!  Maybe it was lack of hills or elevation, maybe it was the fact that I had been up and moving for several hours before running, or maybe I was just happy I wasn’t riding.  I felt really strong to start and got into a strong, easy pace.  I had no idea where the mile markers were, so I was running totally blind and just vaguely aiming for a sub-9 minute pace.  I looked at my watch when I turned around at 3.5 miles, and I was pleasantly surprised to see I had been out for just over 29 minutes.  Having such a strong start gave me an extra boost of energy, and I just kept up that strong pace on the way back and managed to finish the run in 56:57, or an 8:08/pace.  I’ll take it!

On Saturday evening, we celebrated the main event of this weekend—Clayton’s third birthday.  I love how excited toddlers get for their birthdays.  I thought Clayton was going to explode with pure toddler happiness whenever we reminded him that he had a birthday party that night.  He only got more excited as we played games, opened presents, and then ate cake.

I love how Jordyn is as excited as Clayton is.
I love how Jordyn is as excited as Clayton is.
Playing Lincoln Logs with Auntie Katie
Playing Lincoln Logs with Auntie Katie
OMG CAKE!
OMG CAKE!

My dad waited for the kids to be busy eating cake and then pounced on Clayton’s new Lincoln Logs.

Working diligently.
Working diligently.

He was very pleased with himself when he finished the cabin.

Rustin destroyed the cabin not long afterwards.
Rustin destroyed the cabin not long afterwards.

On Sunday morning, I finally got my glorious bike ride.  I had ridden around Lake Lowell before and knew the ride could be surprisingly stunning, and I found myself stunned again on this go-around.  I’ve gotten used to the mountains in Salt Lake, so the flat farmlands of the Treasure Valley seemed particularly beautiful because they are so different from what I see every day. Neither Rob nor I are usually the type to stop for pictures during a ride, but we were both pulling over for photo ops today.  The first half hour or so of our ride was pretty easy because we stopped several times, first to take some pictures of Rob riding by fields and then to take pictures of the landscape surrounding Lake Lowell.

RobCorn
Rob riding past a corn field
The foliage around Lake Lowell (this was prettier in person!)
The foliage around Lake Lowell (this was prettier in person!)
Riding into the distance
Riding into the distance

We picked it up while riding behind the lake, though.  After spending so much time climbing canyons, I felt like I was flying on this route.  We spent a respectable amount of time pushing 22mph without even struggling.  It made me think that maybe focusing on scenic 30 mile rides on cool mornings is the way to go as a cyclist and that struggling up canyons when it’s 90° outside might be for chumps. But I know that without those rough rides, the ride we did today would have been too long or difficult to be enjoyable, so I suppose I’ll keep training in those canyons after work.

We stopped one more time to take pictures from the dam that we crossed.  My poor iPhone photography doesn’t do the view justice.  There’s something about being surrounded by a large expanse of water like that.  I love open-water swimming, so being that close to that much water always makes me wish I were swimming across it.  The fact that Lake Lowell is known for being kind of gross and not really all that pleasant to actually spend time in did nothing to rid me of that primal impulse.

I need iPhone photography lessons
I need iPhone photography lessons

In total, the ride was almost exactly thirty miles long, and we did it in about an hour and forty minutes of ride time.  Considering the various stopping and starting we did because of our photography sessions and the ease in which we managed this pace, I felt pretty good about it.  It was nice to have a long ride that was all of the good things (fun, relaxing, speedy, etc.) and none of the bad things (hot, frustrating, boring, etc.).  We got back just as the whole crew started eating Sunday dinner, so we were able to refuel with lasagna and, later, a nap.

The day ended as it began—with a bike ride:

This was cute but kind of painful.
This was cute but kind of painful.

On Sunday evening, I mentioned to my mom that I was going to do a five mile run in the morning.  My dad perked up and looked over.  “You’re doing a five mile run?  Do you want company?”  My dad loves to run with his kids, but he doesn’t often get the chance, probably because none of us like being shown up by an old man.  (Seriously—last time he and I ran together, he destroyed me.  He spent the last half of the run slowing down and waiting for me, and I could barely move the rest of the day.)  But I knew how happy it would make him, and he’s good company, so I agreed.

We left at 8:00am the next morning which is pretty early for him.  His muscles take longer to warm up than they used to, so he likes to run a little later in the day, after he’s been up and walking around for a while.  Starting out early worked out great for me because it meant we started off the run at a pretty manageable pace—about 8:15 for the first mile.  I felt pretty good, and I continued to feeling good.  We ran the second mile faster and the third mile even faster.  I noticed I wasn’t having any trouble keeping up with my dad, so I picked up the pace a bit because I was worried he was holding back to avoid leaving me behind.  A few minutes after picking up the pace, I still felt really good.  When we hit mile 4, I saw that we were on track to break an 8:00/mile pace.  And I still felt strong.  So I picked it up even more.  At this point, my dad was struggling to keep up with me.  (Of course, he did keep up with me up until the last 100 meters or so because he’s tough.)  I focused on my keeping my head level and my arms moving and before I knew it, I hit the driveway and stopped my watch.  38:42 for a 7:45/mile pace.  And we had run the last mile in about 7:00 minutes even.  Oh, and in addition to pushing me to my fastest five mile run in a long time, my dad also fixed the air conditioning in my car.  Dads are awesome.

Fastest time in ages!
Fastest time in ages!

I’m finally back in Salt Lake after a long (and cool—thanks again, Dad!) drive.  Thinking back on it, I can’t imagine the weekend being any better.  It was great to see my little niece and nephews again.  My workouts felt great.  My appetite was strong.  And I was really relaxed the whole time.  I haven’t felt that way in a while.  I was just really happy, and that’s not something I can say about myself every day.  Of course, weekends away are essentially meant to foster happiness and reduce stress, so I don’t want to fall into the trap of romanticizing a situation just because it’s new and different.  I know I struggled plenty when I was living in Boise with no real friends or hobbies.  But I realized this weekend that I need to find a way to add more to my life here in Salt Lake.  Lately, the daily grind of my days has been wearing on me.  I get up, I work out, I go to work, I come home, I eat dinner, I dink around on the Internet, and I go to sleep.  I need to proactively seek out something to do to break up the monotony so that I can have those moments of relaxation and happiness throughout my week and not just when I travel 350 miles.  I’ve made some steps towards that already, like joining a triathlon club and even just starting this blog, but I’ll be on the lookout for more opportunities to do so in the coming weeks.

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2 thoughts on “Of Road Trips, Birthdays, and Fast(er) Runs

  1. Rebecca Dwelllo

    This was well written – your dad was right! Even non-athletes like me find an article interesting when it contains humanity. One needs to draw in the reader – you have done that. Keep writting!

    Liked by 1 person

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