Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ragnar report 2011

Almost two weeks ago I ran in the Wasatch Back, a Ragnar relay here in Utah that covered 192 miles this year. This was the third year I've run this, and I only needed 11 days to blog about it!

The Ragnar consists of 12-person teams (though some crazy teams just use six) split into two vans. For the third year in a row, I was in the second van, so I knew what to expect in terms of fatigue and sleep. Basically, I was always fatigued and barely slept. As runner No. 11, My first leg was a 3.2-mile leg halfway up to Snowbasin ski resort. I knew it would be arduous, but I was mostly pleased with how I slowly ran. My goal was to run more up the mountain than I walked, and that I achieved. I had been dreading this uphill for weeks, but it turned out I was in better shape than I thought.

Our team (organized through my wife's work) stopped to try to sleep before our van went back on the course. For the third year in a row, I never fell asleep, even though I was tired. I did manage to sleep for about an hour overnight in the van while teammates were running. Finally, around 4:45 a.m., I started my second leg, a 5.5-mile leg along Rockport Lake. The conditions were freezing (high 30s) and I was bundled up. Once I got going, I warmed up enough and felt good. The sky started to brighten as sunrise approached, and the lake in this light was pretty. I felt really good on this leg, only to be surprised how slow my time was. The course featured a gradual ascent, but not enough that I felt like I was slowing down too much. Maybe my body felt as good as it could after a long night. That's just a small complaint -- the best thing is that I felt good and enjoyed the run, particularly when a deer crossed the road.

I got about another hour of sleep in the morning before our van took off again for our last legs. My last run was a 7.3-mile trek from Guardsman Pass down to Deer Valley -- a 2,000-foot descent. My knees held up well, and I was again happy with how I ran. The only big obstacle in this leg was a 100-foot steep ascent smack-dab in the middle of the downhill. There were maybe eight runners on the hill when I was on it, and collectively, we all silently thought "F--- this!" and walked up the hill. I came into the exchange listening to "Badlands" on my Shuffle, which gave me energy to finish my third Ragnar strong.

Of my three Ragnars, running-wise, I was happiest with this one. I had an uphill leg my first Wasatch Back I wasn't pleased with, and last year, I was rushed on my first leg, had light malfunctions on my second leg and tightened up after tying my shoe on my third leg. Except for the infuriating hill on my last leg, I felt great this year (slow times notwithstanding). We had a great, relaxed van and really never felt that tired. One of these years, I will get more sleep (and next year, I won't drop my sleeping bag downwind from the Honey Pots!).

Coming down from Park City, I fell asleep in the van and later, fell asleep at 8:30 and got 10 hours sleep (then got a nap on Father's Day). I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Days of everything

We've been cramming plenty of fun into our days this summer, and at the end of the night, we've been asking Littlest what his favorite part of that day was. His answer: "Everything!"

Today was one of those jam-packed days. While we were winding down, I asked him the same question: What was the best part of your day? In a tired but smiling voice, he replied "Everything."

Was it reading camp, I asked him.


Soccer camp?


Swimming with his best friend?


Going to his brother's swim meet?


Going to his t-ball orientation, getting a new uniform and hat, and seeing his other best friend, who will be on his team?


Getting frozen yogurt to finish off the long day?


I am led to believe one of three things by Mr. Everything:

1. We are cramming so much into each summer day that it's too difficult to decide on one best thing.

2. He's too lazy to actually think about what was best and give a thoughtful answer.

3. "Everything" is the thoughtful yet instant answer my little optimist can't help but come up with after a good day.

I'm hoping it's No. 3, and I hope he never loses that optimism in the joy of every day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer blogging

I'm out on our front porch typing tonight on a breezy, warm Utah evening. The temperature here generally cools off a little more at night during the summer than in the Midwest, but because today was so warm, it's settled into a comfortable dusk. Perfect blogging weather.

The past two weeks have been incredibly busy. We added soccer camp this week on top of everything else. But I'm not complaining -- summer has definitely not been boring so far; in fact, it's been quite fun. The weather returned to normal for this time of year, with temps in the 80s (after a May of below-normal 50s), and there hasn't been much lazing around the house ... until this afternoon, when the boys and I somewhat needed it. Eldest has swim practice, soccer camp, his first diving meet and then a swim meet Wednesday, and I didn't want to wear him out before he gets worn out tomorrow. I thought about taking the boys to the water park (we got a good deal on season passes) but decided we needed a small break. Now that it's hot, the weather won't change for two months; we have plenty of time and will get our money's worth from the passes.

What has suffered this month has been blogging -- I unfortunately pushed it aside when everything (kids, running, contract work) got so busy. I'm changing that tonight. Summer is my favorite time of year, so I need to be writing about it every day. And that's my goal: Blog every day for the rest of the summer. Even if I'm typing in two sentences about our day, that's better than nothing. I love going back into old blog entries to see what I was doing three, four years ago (especially during the summer). I need to make that record of this summer as well. Come back tomorrow for another post in my summer of postings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunset town

(Transcribed from a notebook. Photos of the sun going down behind Antelope Island are taken from my Droid so they aren't the greatest, and hell, I had to pick a spot with power lines.)

Tonight is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. As I have done in past years (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010), I drove myself to a hillside in Donner Park to watch the solstice sunset and reflect on the year that has passed. I almost drove to the H Rock to do this (the view is better), but came back to Donner -- I can actually sit here and enjoy a little solitude. I wish I had brought a sweatshirt or at least something with sleeves -- it's a little chilly for a tank top tonight. I'm about to put on "Sister Golden Hair" on my iPod -- the opening riff has always sounded like a sunset to me. I'm ready for that sunset.

Except, I'm not sure what I'm going to write about

The last year was a year. Nothing life-altering, nothing mind-shaterringly awesome, nothing too depressing (except the cats dying). The year was great, just not incredibly notable beyond me turning 40. Nothing I'm going to spend a thousand words reflecting upon.

But here's one thing I feel at the end of another 12 months -- the writing goals I've been working toward to achieving for years -- particularly since going part-time and becoming a stay-at-home-dad (with the goal of writing more) seem close, closer than ever. Even though my NaNoWriMo accomplishment of writing a novel was in 2009, I still feel that the experience awakened my creative side from a long dormancy. I've always had these writing goals that always seemed out of reach. Now, the goals feel achievable -- close. I've made plans on what and how I want to proceed with my writing -- I just need to actually proceed with those plans. Before, proceeding seemed impossible; now, it's simply a matter of "how soon" rather than just "how." This is my next step, so that 12 months from now, when I'm on this hillside again writing about what I've achieved since the previous summer, there is an achievement waiting to be celebrated.

I love my family more every day, and watching the boys grow a year older has been amazing. Life is crazy, but not so stressful that I can't function (dare I say, a good crazy?). Work is good and at the balance we sought out five years ago. And I'm writing more than ever and am about to take even more creative steps.

Maybe I did have something to write about tonight. Maybe this is the happiest I've ever been.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Burn notice

We bought waterpark passes this year and got a good deal on them, and a week into summer vacation, we went for the first time. The weather was warm but not too hot, the water in the wave pool was pleasant, and the park wasn't too crowded. We ran into one of Eldest's friends and his family (he has a younger brother who is Littlest's age) and hung out with them for a while. Littlest didn't like hanging on to a inner tube in the wave pool, but otherwise didn't mind, in fact, kind of enjoyed big waves crashing over him. He also rode a waterslide in a tube all by himself and declared "I did it!" as he emerged from the slide.

The passes are great because we didn't feel the need to go on everything today. We spent a few hours there and left, and will come back again, maybe next week. I made one little miscalculation, however: sunscreen.

When we got home, I noticed by left shoulder and some of my back were red. I got a small burn yesterday on that shoulder and wondered if that made it a little more vulnerable. I need to do a better job/get some help lotioning my back, but I was a little surprised my shoulder got red -- I'm usually good about getting my shoulders.

Eldest got the most unusual sunburn I've ever seen: He's red on his calves, his lower back right near the waistline and the back of his upper arms (the non triceps/biceps side). Part of his waistline burn was that his trunks sagged a little lower beyond where we put lotion on. But the red was still unusual for someone who didn't fall asleep on his stomach in the sun for three hours, but I have a theory on what happened. Eldest also loved the wave pool and had a tube to himself. He was hanging on the tube with his arms draped over the side, his back somewhat parallel the top of the tube, and likely, his legs bent in the deep water so that his calves were parallel (and likely near) the surface of the water. Couple in the facts two hours went by before I realized (and thus didn't reapply right away) and an SPF30 for my lighter-skinned child, and the sunburns make a little more sense.

The burns weren't bad -- they will probably be fine by tomorrow. We'll get it figured out the next time we go, and we won't forget the calves.