Two weeks of marathon training is all I’ve needed to decide that if I ever do train to race a marathon, it will be a flat course that is lower in elevation than Salt Lake City. Going from running in Salt Lake City to running in Nampa, Idaho, feels like going from swimming without a wetsuit to swimming with the most buoyant, non-triathlon-approved wetsuit there is. I realize that’s not a helpful comparison at all for non-triathletes. So for those non-triathletes who read this blog… basically, it’s magic.
That and the prospect of seeing my ridiculous flock of nieces and nephews makes visiting Idaho a priority for me. So, as I do fairly often, I took Friday off, packed up my car, and drove up to Idaho. My niece was having her fifth birthday party, and that’s not something an aunt can miss. Because I hate when traveling consumes an entire day, I left early Friday morning, around 6:00am. Leaving that early means that I still have most of the day to decompress, spend time with my parents, and play house/school/go-to-gymnastics about a hundred times with the birthday girl.
The drive was wonderfully uneventful, and when I got to my parents’ house around 11:00am, they were both gone. My mom was working and my dad, who works part-time after retiring a few years ago, was at the grocery store. So I got ready to decompress after my drive. In other words, I sat down with my computer. Moments later, I realized I had left my power cord at home. I was annoyed at myself for the oversight, but it ended up being a good thing. I was mostly unplugged for the weekend, and while I still had my phone, I spent hardly any time online (at least, compared to a normal weekend). Being removed from my blog, my Facebook, my forums, etc. forced me to be more present and less distracted while I was spending time with my family, and it’s hard to complain about that.
I spent a lot of time playing with my nieces and nephews on Friday. I went over and spent some time with Jordyn (birthday girl) while her siblings were napping. We colored which is always fun to do with kids, and we played house which is only fun when the kid you’re playing with is a relative. We were outside when her brothers woke up and came out to join us. Rustin (affectionately dubbed “Monster Baby”) woke up very cranky. He was toddling around outside with us when he fell down and started crying. He just tripped in the grass, so he was only upset, not hurt. Jordyn looked at him for a second and then grabbed my arm, pulling me away while she said, “…I guess Rustin doesn’t want to play.” My younger sister stopped by after she was done with work, and she, my older sister, and I all raked leaves for the kids to play in. Once Rustin realized he could annoy his brother and sister by walking through the leaves and ruining the pile, he was in a much better mood.
Friday was kid day, but Saturday was for my run. When I made plans to come up this weekend, I told my dad that I had 12 miles on my schedule. He replied, “Okay, we’ll just go thirteen. That’ll be fine, right?” Um, sure. Thirteen miles it is! I was unsure how the run would go. My longest run so far had been 10 miles, and I had experienced some knee pain during the final mile or so. I didn’t have any doubt that I could run the 13 miles, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able keep up with my dad. I woke up early, drank some water and juice, and ate some dessert pizza and a bowl of cereal. I have a pretty fickle appetite in the mornings, so generally, fueling for morning runs involves me wandering around the house looking for anything that sounds remotely appetizing.
We started off at what felt like a very manageable place and finished the first mile in about 8:15. Typically, my dad and I start out at this pace and then speed up a bit as we warm up. Today was no different, and the next few miles were close to an 8:00 pace. The way out is just very slightly uphill, but today the wind was at our backs, so I didn’t even notice the slight grade. I’ve just started practicing my fueling on long runs, and I brought some Skittles to try out. They settled okay in my stomach on the way out. We reached the golf course outside of town, turned around, and were greeted by a nasty headwind. Once we got back into town, there were enough buildings and fences around to break the wind that we felt okay, but the first mile or so on the way back was demoralizing. We were still moving a pretty good clip (probably still around 8:00/mile), but as we hit miles 7 and 8, I started to feel some fatigue and was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep the pace up. Around mile 8, I ate some more Skittles and drank some more water. This time, it didn’t sit well at all, and I started to feel nauseated. The sugar from the Skittles had perked my legs up, though. They didn’t feel amazing, of course, but I felt I could continue the pace for another four miles. My stomach was the limiter as it started to feel worse and worse. I could ignore it as long as I was thinking about something else, but it was not a good feeling. When we hit two miles left, I mentioned the nausea to my dad.
“Do you want to pull back a bit?” he asked.
I knew we were running a 7:58/mile average pace at that point. “No, we’re this close. Let’s make sure we break 8 minutes per mile.”
And then I picked it up a bit. Sometimes the biggest motivation to push the last few miles is knowing that the harder you push, the sooner you’re done. That was the case here. The last two miles of all my dad’s routes are the same, so once we hit mile 11, we both knew exactly what to expect for the rest of the run. And we kept ratcheting up the pace a bit as I did my best to ignore whatever was going on in my stomach. Finally, after an overzealous sprint to the driveway, we were done. We did our last mile in about 7:30 and finished the whole run in 1:42:22, or at a 7:52/mile pace. Oh, and I didn’t even throw up afterwards, much to my relief.
We sat on the porch a bit recovering. My mom came out and told us we both needed to take showers before Jordyn’s party that night because we stank. I made a show of sighing and declaring that I was totally planning on showering already (I totally wasn’t). And then, somehow my dad went off to do a million chores like mowing up leaves and feeding the cows while I sat around and moaned and groaned for a while longer before getting a text from my younger sister that the Kona Ironman broadcast was on. So of course I turned it on for inspiration. This was the first time I’d watched a Kona broadcast since I started (somewhat) seriously pursuing triathlon, and watching it was a very different experience than it has been in the past. I’ve always known it’s sentimentalized, but I really felt how overly sentimental it was this time. And I understood better than I had in the past that no broadcast can actually capture the mundane hours and boring, non-inspirational dedication put into training for an Ironman.
And then, birthday party! The kids’ cousins came over, and the present-opening and cake-eating was as hectic as I’ve ever seen. I waited patiently and didn’t descend onto the cake like a hawk, and I barely got a piece! Fortunately, there was enough cake for everyone to some, so a cakeless crisis was averted. Jordyn could not open her presents fast enough. She tore through them like a wild hurricane and then was off, sprinting down the stairs with her cousin Maddie to (try to) hide from the boys so they could play Littlest Pet Shop in peace. They were discovered a few minutes later.
One benefit of having five kids running around the house, all playing with each other, was that they forgot all about me and I had plenty of time to hold my littlest niece Brooklyn. She’s apparently a very sweet baby who typically only cries when she’s hungry, tired, or needs a diaper change which was a welcome change from her older brother (Monster Baby, remember?) I held her whenever I got a chance this weekend. Holding a (quiet and sleeping) infant is so comforting. Every once in a while, she’d open her eyes a bit and give a big yawn before cuddling back in and going back to sleep. Adorable. After I handed her off, I played with Jordyn and Maddie for a bit before chatting with my parents and going to bed. Not a bad way to end an evening.
I wanted to get on the road pretty early on Sunday, so I went to my sister’s house around 8:30am to say goodbye to the kiddos. Then it was off on my bike for the short spin I had planned. It was warmer than I had expected, but I dressed with most of the cold-weather gear I brought because it was cloudy and windy. I wore my Gabba jersey which is basically the greatest invention known to cyclists who are faced with cold winters (and no, Castelli isn’t compensating me in any way for saying that because they have better things to do with their time/money L ). But it’s awesome and absurdly versatile. It’s wind-proof and water-resistant. I’ve worn just my Gabba with no base layer in weather as cold as the mid-30s and have been perfectly comfortable. The only time I reached it’s limitations was during a rainy, 40° descent at 25-30 mph. Even then, I probably would have been fine if I had been wearing a base layer.
Despite the weather being warmer than I expected, I was glad I had it on Sunday because it was really windy, making the “out” of my out-and-back pretty miserable. The “back” part was really fun, though, until I got some impromptu flat-changing training. Ugh. Flats happen, and it was good practice. I was pretty much packed already, so once I got back to my parents’ house, all I had to do was put my bike in the trunk and change my clothes before I took off and headed back home to Salt Lake City.
It’s coming up on a year since I moved to Utah, and I still really miss certain aspect of Idaho. I miss being close to my family, I miss running on the Boise Greenbelt, and I miss nearby places for open-water swimming. And while Utah continues to feel more and more like home, I think a part of me will always miss certain elements of Idaho, not the least of which is my family. I’m grateful that I live close enough to justify these short, whirlwind roadtrips. I’m glad I get to build a relationship with my nieces and nephews. I love that I am able to run with my dad. I’m thankful I get to spend some time with my sisters and my mom. But I was also glad to get back to Rob, Mr. Pip, the mountains, and my own bed.