Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moab Half Marathon

Quote of the Day: “If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you cannot paint’, by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Van Gogh

Last Saturday Rhonda and I ran in the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab. This was an incredible race!! Rhonda ran the race last year, but this was my first time.
We drove down Thursday morning to get a bike ride in on Thursday afternoon. We rode a trail called Klondike Bluffs, which goes into Arches National Park. I’ve ridden the trail before, but it was so fun to ride it with Rhonda. This was her first time on slick rock, and she did awesome! The scenery was incredible.

Rhonda and I on Klondike Bluffs trail

We read that there was dinosaur tracks along the trail. We think these must be those dino tracks.

Fiday morning we went up to Dead Horse Point, which is north of town on Island in the Sky. The view from the point is amazing. Everywhere we went there were a lot runners, which was fun to see. After seeing some sights we drove the half marathon route, which is so beautiful. We walked around town some more and just soaked up the sun. The weather was wonderful.

Dead Horse Point

Friday afternoon we met up with our neighbors who were running in the half marathon as well. We stayed in a really nice condo that had a pool and ping pong table, private hot tub, plasma tv, and other nice amenities. We cooked a nice spaghetti dinner to carbo load for the run, went out and had desert, sat in the hot tub, played pool and ping pong, and stayed up late playing board games.

Because of Rhonda’s experience last year, she prepared us really well for the cold early morning temperatures, but hot weather during the run. The run starts 13 miles north east of Moab, follows the Colorado River for the first 11 miles, and then the main highway into Moab for the last 2 miles. They shuttle all the runners from Moab up to the start line by bus starting early Saturday morning. With over 4500 runners, this is no small task. Because of this, the run doesn’t start until 10:00 AM. They start shuttling the runners quite early when the temperatures are still cold, and then all the runners, especially the first ones up the canyon, stand in the cold at the start line for a couple of hours. We waited until 8:00 or so to board the bus, but we still had to wait for well over an hour at the start line. We took some old fleece jackets to wear until the start of the run, but before we made it through the first mile we had taken them off and thrown them alongside the road (all clothing discarded along the run was donated to charity). Last year Rhonda wore a nicer jacket and had to tie it around her waist. I’m so glad she prepared us this year.

We both finished the run with Rhonda finishing over a minute in front of me. The park where we finished was crazy with people, so we didn’t hang out for the food and fun; we went right back to the condo, sat in the hot tub and had some good food. It was an incredible weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Porcupine Rim-Moab

In October of 2006 a group of guys went to Moab to bike the White Rim Trail. The White Rim is a fairly easy trail with amazing scenery. The trail is about 100 miles long, depending on where you decided to have your shuttle pick you up. I've ridden it a couple of times and loved it.

We had a great trip planned that had been in the works for months and months. The White Rim is in Canyonlands National Park and has some very strict rules for biking and camping. Several months earlier we were able to reserve campsites for two nights, and were ready to complete the trail in 3 days. This would gives us an opportunity to get some hiking in along the route as well, including a hike out to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers.

We drove down in two different groups on Wednesday and were going to bike the trail Thursday through Saturday, then come home Saturday evening. The first group went down Wednesday morning, and the second group went down Wednesday afternoon. I was in the second group. About half way there we got a call from the first group telling us that the White Rim Trail had been washed out by a major rain storm that week and had been closed. I thought they were kidding, and didn't fully believe them until I pulled into Moab.

We were disappointed, but how sad could we be, we were in Moab with bikes, camping gear, and 3 days off work! When in Rome...! We decided to bike some day trails and set up camp in the Sand Flats area, which is by the Slickrock trail. One of the trails we biked was Porcupine Rim. Most of us had ridden the trail at least once, but it really is one of the best trails in Moab.

The storm had passed by Wednesday and we had pretty good weather for the trip. We slept under the stars, but at 5:00 or 6:00 on Saturday morning it started to sprinkle, at we got a little wet.

I added links to 3 videos on You Tube of this trip. This first video is a 7 minute compilation of the trip. The videos aren't great because they were taken with a still camera.

These next two videos are included in the compilation video, but I think it is so funy that it's worth listing separately. On Porcupine Rim there's a little jump made of sandstone that someone built years ago. We were going off the jump, then hiking up and doing it again. One of us had a great idea (?) to lay down under the jump and the others could jump over them. Two of us did the jumping. The first video is of me jumping over a guy named Brandon. I didn't realize he was going to lay his bike down between his legs until I was close enough to the jump that I couldn't back out. Luckily, I cleared him and his bike. The second video is of a guy named Dax who didn't quite have enough speed to clear both Brandon and his bike. Make sure you have your sound turned up on the second video, you can see how much compassion we have for poor Brandon, we didn't ask if he was okay until we had stopped laughing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Moab Biking and Half Marathon

I love quotes! I think I'll give a quote at the beginning of each post.

"No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Next Saturday (March 21st) is a pretty eventful day for us, it's my parents 50th wedding anniversary, and it's also the Moab Half Marathon in Southern Utah. We're driving down on Thursday to get some biking in before the run. We're renting mountain bikes on Thursday and biking Klondike Bluffs trail, and then on Friday we're going to bike the route for the half marathon (we're taking our road bikes for that ride). Both of these rides our somewhat short and not technical, so I don't think it will affect our run on Saturday.

As much as I love road cycling, I also love mountain biking. I went to Moab for the first time in the spring of 1995, biked Porcupine Rim and Slick Rock, and was hooked from the beginning. I have no idea how many times I've biked in Moab since then, but I think I've biked the majority of the trails, at least the well known ones quite a few times each. Some of the trails are half-day rides, some take all day, and others are multi-day trips (we've had support on those). Here's a picture of me on the Portal section of Poison Spider trail a few years ago.

There's a group of us that started going down together a few years ago. Although we had a lot of crashes on every trip, we had never had a serious injury. A couple of years ago we must have jinxed ourselves because we came home from that trip with a broken leg, a broken arm, and more skin on the rocks than on our bodies. We've all been back; it was all worth it!

I love Southern Utah, and I am so excited to spend a couple of days down there again. I'm also very proud to have the parents that I have, and I'm excited to come home right after the run to celebrate their anniversary with them and all my siblings. It's going to be a great day!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Training and Preparing

I learned a great lesson a few weeks ago. Rhonda has convinced me to take up running. I’ve run some in the past, but not recently and not more than 6 miles (and that was walking for part of it). I don’t think I have ever run more than 3 or 4 miles at any one time. A few months ago we signed up for the Moab ½ Marathon, which is on March 21st, and I started to train with her. Her training is far beyond mine, so I would train on my own through the week and we would run together on Saturdays. For a lot of the runs, my training distance was shorter than hers so I would meet up with her and her friends and finish with them.

A few weeks ago I decided to jump my distance up quicker than I should have, and went from doing 5 miles up to 10 miles. I had never run that far, and should have worked up to 10 miles over time. Normally I have a fairly low resting heart rate and a max heart rate in the upper 180’s, but I had overdone it leading up to that run. Here’s a graph of my heart rate that day.

My heart rate was pretty high all day because I hadn’t rested and recovered well that week. We took two short water breaks at miles 2 and 6, and I seemed to recover pretty quickly at both stops. When we got to mile 7, my heart rate started to peak and stayed maxed out pretty constant for the rest of the run. I’ve never ran this far and my body knew it. I kept a pretty close eye on it for the rest of the run trying to keep it down. I could feel myself starting to bottom out. Between miles 7 and 9 it stayed about 5-6 beats under max and I was feeling okay (we had to stop at a stop light at mile 7.5, and it dropped to the high 160’s). At mile 9 we started going up a slight incline and my heart rate maxed out. After about ½ mile at that heart rate, I needed to get it down; my body couldn’t keep going. I said I was going to walk for a bit to get it down, and then start running again. Instead of walking we slowed the pace a bit (by about 30 seconds/mile). My heart rate immediately dropped by 12-15 beats per minute and I felt good again. This is so interesting to me. First of all it proves the point of training: once I hit a level of running beyond what I’ve ever done, my heart was struggling to keep up. I should have built up to the level I wanted to be at and not spurted. Secondly, it is amazing to me how quickly my heart rate dropped once we slowed the pace by just a little bit: I learned that I shouldn’t run faster than I have strength. A very insignificant change in the pace brought me back to a level where I could function well without burning myself out. (By the way, my pride made me push it hard at the end to finish strong, that’s why my heart rate went up again).

I think there are some great lessons here for running, but I think the lessons carry over to other areas of life. If I want to increase my operating level in any aspect of my life, spiritual, physical, knowledge, etc., I should build up to the level I want to be. It’s the tortoise and the hare scenario, I can either be steady and consistent, or inconsistent and a “spurter”. The hare had a pattern of overdoing it, then stopping, while the tortoise stayed his course and didn’t exaggerate his efforts. Slowing down, even just a little bit, may put me back on track so I don’t burn out.

Here’s a link to a great talk on being steady and immovable:

Conquering Self

About 4 years ago Rhonda decided she wanted to take up running. We got her some running shoes, but they weren’t very nice in case she didn’t like it. She hated running in the day because people might see her, so she’d run in the early morning when it was still dark. One neighbor saw her and criticized me for allowing my wife to run alone in the dark (I still find it funny that he thought I controlled that). We have a track in our community that is a little over ½ mile long in an oval shape, so she’d go there to jog. When she first started she could jog the short length of the track, walk the long length, jog the short length, jog the long length, etc. Over the space of a couple of weeks, she worked her way up to jogging the long length and walking the short length. She kept working at it for weeks and weeks, and now jogs 4 times a week for distances never shorter than 3 miles. She has become quite the runner. I am so impressed with her! She set her mind to doing something hard and proved to herself that she could do it. Not too long after she started, two of her friends started jogging with her, and 2 years ago they did the Ogden marathon.

Shortly after she marked that off her to-do list, she decided to do a triathlon. There’s a women’s only triathlon here that she decided to do. The only road block was that she didn’t know how to swim. But again she set her mind to it, and started to train. She went to the pool, but still had to plug her nose. We bought her a nose plug, but it didn’t work. It’s probably not possible to do a triathlon with one hand plugging your nose, so this was the first hurdle she had to overcome. When she kind of got over that, she would paddle in the water but wouldn’t move, she pretty much just stayed in the same place. She kept at it, and last May completed her first triathlon. I believe she feels pretty invincible now, not necessarily in an athletic way, but in a deep understanding that she can do anything she sets her mind to. She knows she can make the sacrifices necessary to do anything she wants, which gives her great confidence and power. She tries to keep these things quiet because her purpose is to conquer and triumph over self, not defeat anyone or anything else.

Rhonda does not consider herself any different than anyone else. She considers herself a very normal and average person. She is not a flashy person. She says if she can do it, anyone can do it, and although I consider her to be way above average, I believe she’s right. It’s a great motivator for me, and I hope I can follow her example with defeating the natural.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Joseph of Egypt

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been a great admirer of Joseph of Egypt. As my knowledge and understanding of him has grown, I’ve been more and more impressed with how he lived his life. Not necessarily the accomplishments, like ruling Egypt, but more on how he got there. A few years ago I gave a talk on him, and titled the talk “Things I’ve learned from Joseph of Egypt”. I think I’ll add a post from time-to-time with a specific thing I’ve learned from his life.

Joseph was so forgiving. I think he became a master of the forgiving process, which ultimately prepared him to forgive his brothers. Imagine how he must have felt being sold by those closest to him, which had to make him feel meaningless, worthless, insignificant, and of no value. I’m certain it took him a long time to forgive his brothers. I can’t even imagine how much pain he felt. I’m sure it took him time, which I think is okay. I’m also sure that he was treated very poorly by those traders who bought him, and had to learn to forgive them. He then became a slave, but after giving so much of his heart to his master, he was betrayed. Again, he was treated unfairly by those closest to him, and he was sent to prison. I think at times we put ourselves in a “prison” by holding grudges and letting other’s actions limit our progress. While he was in prison he must have had to work so hard at building himself up by forgiving Potiphar and his wife. He had no reason to forgive them, other than it was the right thing to do. I imagine he didn’t want to forgive them; he might have liked sitting in prison and blaming them for his pain. Holding grudges and not forgiving others has such a limiting effect on us, and he could have let it paralyze him in prison, but he worked through it and moved on.

Years later, after he had risen to great prominence and power, he was “reunited” with his brothers, which must have brought back all the pain that his brothers had caused. He may have felt like he had forgiven them, but we know he struggled with that again. However, he was able to lovingly forgive them and bless them, which I think is a big part of the forgiveness process, and actually a very important Christ-like attribute: seeing other’s needs regardless of our own pain and suffering.