the sawtooth relay, or: that one time i won an athletic event.

This is about how cool I felt while I was running. I just channeled my inner Fonz. “Ayyyy!” (photo credit: Gretchen Hurlbutt)

Never in my life have I been known for my athletic prowess. As a matter of fact, for many years I feel as though I may have been known for my lack of athletic prowess. I’m not necessarily proud of this, just sharing the facts. That said, my mind felt a little bit blown when they announced the Boise Betties (MY TEAM!) as the first place team for the women’s division of the Sawtooth Relay.

The Sawtooth Relay is my favorite race that I’ve run. This was my second year running it, both years with the Boise Betties. The race starts in Stanley, ID and travels 60+ miles (up and over Galena Pass) and ends in Ketchum, ID. Teams have six runners who each run two legs that are roughly five miles a piece. Our team stayed in Stanley on Friday night at the Sawtooth Spirit┬ácondos (check it out next time you’re in Stanley. The store is super cute!) and had dinner together at The Redd (extemely delicious but I’m pretty sure that our waitress was literally a crack head). The race officially starts at midnight with teams starting every fifteen minutes until 9am. The Betties ended up with the amazing start time of 8:15am so we practically got to sleep in!

Boise Betties at the start line. L to R: Gabby, me, Becca, Erica, Shea and Sam. Erica was about two minutes away from crushing the first leg of the race.

I ran legs 2 (5.83 miles) and 8 (5.09 miles) and would say that I did moderately well. I kept within my target pace and didn’t die. That’s good, right? I was surprised at how much the altitude affected me with my first leg and despite how gradual the incline was, my glutes were killing me by the time I was done. The next several hours involved lots of cheering, driving, time keeping, snacking, porta-potty using, shit talking, water supplying and laughing – then leg 8 rolled around and I got to run again! This time I had a nice, gradual downhill and felt like I was trucking. But no matter how fast I was going for Rachel-pace, it couldn’t even hold a candle to the other girls on my team. These ladies are fast! So fast that other teams were asking us whether some of our runners were Olympians or not. Ha!

Gabby brought us home over the last short leg into Ketchum, ringing in an amazing 7 hour, 37 minute overall time for the total distance. It was awesome! I wish I could say that I contributed more to the smokin’ fast time, but I definitely brought my team down to earth. ­čÖé I’d hate for their heads to stay in the clouds.

Along the Relay course. Remember how I told you in the last post that Idaho is beautiful? Seriously, it is.

Ready to pass off the neon, reflective slap bracelet “baton” at the end of my first leg. This was also when I realized that I had cramps. Awesome. My sister has a fridge magnet that says “I can do anything a man can do. With cramps.” Pretty much.

Meeting up with Gabby to sprint the final few yards to the finish. WHY DO I LOOK LIKE I AM DYING? My whole face and body is looking as if I ran the entire sixty mile relay solo, not like I had just jogged the last thirty yards as a formality. I have never claimed to be photogenic.

bruneau beast and catching up.

Did you know that there are gigantic, natural sand dunes in Idaho? Proof:

On Saturday I ran a 10k along the ridge of these dunes and on the surrounding sandy trails. I signed up for it months ago, on a whim when they opened registration for $10. The irrational side of me thought, “This sounds fun! Let’s run for six miles through sand!” As soon as I told my friends that I signed up for the Bruneau Beast they put it in perspective for me: “That sounds awful.” “I hate sand in my shoes.” “You couldn’t pay me to do that race.”

Oops.

But, stubborn mule that I am, I insisted on running anyway. The day before the race I rode up to the Foothills Learning Center with the kids in the bucket bike. Not an easy ride. It was good pre-race cardio. When I was parking the bike I managed to somehow bash my knee on the rack and get a serious bruise. My knee immediately started aching and didn’t stop all afternoon and evening. I felt a little sick to my stomach thinking that I might not be able to run at all because of a stupid mishap. Felt like a flashback to last summer’s sprained ankle fiasco. Boo. I spent the evening icing my ankle, taking ibuprofen and finding elaborate ways to wrap KT Tape on my knee. Worked like a dream, though! I woke up, bright and early at 4am, with no pain at all in my knee and ready to head to Bruneau.

I left at 4:30 for the hour and a half drive out to the dunes. The race started at 7am but I wanted to make sure I was early enough for packet pickup and to warm up. I didn’t bank on the fact that the race was tiny and there would be no line at checkout, plus it was chilly and mosquito-y enough that as soon as I grabbed my bib I sat in my car and played Mahjongg on my phone until I needed to warm up. After a five minute jog and some stretching, it was time to go!

The emcee for the race was dressed as Darth Vader, obviously. Lent a slightly ominous tone to the event. 10k and half marathoners started together and between both distances, there were probably only 200 runners. Having no idea of how I would fare in the sand, I started midway back so I wouldn’t hold up a ton of people. The first 1/4 mile or so was on regular trail so it helped me warm up a bit more before we got to the sand.

And then we got to the sand. And oh, what a lot of sand it was.

Approximately the next two miles of the race were navigating the ridge of the three gigantic dunes. The uphill was a slow, steady hike where I focused on stepping in foot holes of the gal in front of me. It made it less slippery that way. The downhills were so fun because you could just take huge, bounding leaps and FLY down! The tough part about the ridge is that everyone is stuck single file so jockeying for position is nearly nonexistent.

As soon as we came down the dunes we hit the first aid station and it seemed like a perfect time to empty the massive amounts of sand that had accumulated in my shoes. Once that was taken care of I headed to the trails which were very loosely marked and meandered around the back country of Bruneau. It was beautiful! My legs were exhausted so I allowed myself a couple of small walk breaks but was amazed at how well I was able to power through. Turns out, I’m a lot stronger than I thought I am!

Now comes my big mistake: not emptying the sand from my shoes at the second aid station. I didn’t want to waste the time and decided to just finish strong. Wrong. So much sand had built up that my shoes were fitting me as if they were two sizes too small. The sand rubbed a huge blood blister on my second toe and it felt as if my toenail was tearing away (cue nauseous gagging). Half a mile from the finish I stopped to check on my toe and it made me miserable. My toe hurt so bad that I decided to walk to the finish. But then I realized that walking still hurt and was only taking longer. I limp/walk/jogged to the finish, so relieved to be done.

I had no idea of what my pace would be in the sand and just hoped to finish under two hours. It was pleasantly surprising to see that my time was 1:22 and that I came in seventh place overall for women! I feel like now that I know some mistakes that I made, I could actually be a contender to place next year. Booyah!

Isn’t Idaho beautiful? Not a bad place to watch the sun rise and spend a Saturday morning.

Sunday was a rest day. Whew. Monday was supposed to be Body Back but my toe was still killing me (and my knee decided to flare up) so I decided to stay home and ice and rest.

This week has been a million degrees (seriously! A high of 98 on Tuesday!) and of course this is the week that the kids were signed up for a late afternoon soccer camp. Nothing drains your energy quite like sitting at a park for two hours during the hottest part of the day. After soccer camp on Tuesday, Alex and I came home and decided to embrace the heat by doing this workout by Pumps & Iron in the yard. I decided to be a multi-tasking genius and grill chicken for dinner while we did our workout. DON’T BE ME. After severely charring our dinner and having our children start throwing dirt at us, we had to call it quits after the fourth round in a last ditch effort to not be completely neglectful parents. But, considering how sweaty we were from working out in 98 degrees, I’d still call it a full workout.

Wednesday was rest day (and cheat day!). Bring on the Patio Wine Wednesday!

On Thursday I taught Stroller Strides at Kleiner Park in Meridian and the kids got to play in the splash pad afterwards. We had the last soccer class in the afternoon (which was a disaster from Jasper’s perspective) and then I was supposed to have Body Back again. And again I skipped it. It was a good time for me to remember that even if I have prior obligations, sometimes my family just needs to come first. My kids definitely seemed like they needed mama at home.

This afternoon I am heading up to Stanley, ID with my friend Sam because our team is running the Sawtooth Relay tomorrow. We have an 8:15am start time (which is awesome!) and I’m running legs 2 and 8. I feel ready for the running but am also ready for it to be over because I want our schedule to normalize a bit. Alex and the kids are staying in Boise so I feel a little bad about ditching them for races two weekends in a row.

Details about Sawtooth soon to come!

womp womp.

Random thought: I love that it’s getting warmer in Boise but I have a bit of a conflicted relationship with the heat. We don’t have A/C which means that my kitchen gets to be approximately one billion degrees in the summer. It’s not too hot yet but we are at the point where all of my coconut oil is liquid (yay! easier for baking). That also means we’re at the point where I wage an all out war with the fruit fly invasion that is happening with my kitchen compost. Just, no.

Well, wow. Last week was a bit of a derailment. The day after Memorial Day the kids and I flew to PHX to visit my sister for a few days. We had basically an awesome time (other than Jasper deciding that sleep is unnecessary when you’re on vacation) but I was not great at sticking with my clean eating or getting in all of my workouts. I wasn’t a total slacker though! The evening of the first day we were there I talked Abby into doing a bodyweight countdown workout with me. I loved this workout! It was so fast and feels really rewarding because you fly through the last few rounds yet still work up a major sweat. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that Abby was ready to murder me. Nbd. I took Wednesday as my rest day and then on Thursday I headed out to Scottsdale to meet up with a Phoenix area Stroller Strides group. The workout was pretty different than what I am used to from the Boise SS crew, but it was so fun to meet other moms who are crazy enough to workout with their kids. Also, they meet at an amazing park that I wish I could bring my kids to every week!

There was a kid-sized old west town for them to play in. We even got to go for a little train ride after the Stroller Strides class!

Other highlights from the trip:
-The Phoenix Children’s Museum – my kids could have stayed there all day
-Introducing A and J to In-N-Out
-Getting so many iced mochas at my sister’s favorite PHX coffee shop, Jobot
Short Leash, a restaurant entirely devoted to hot dogs!
-and being able to spend some time every day swimming at my sister’s pool

Unfortunately, I may have enjoyed a little too much foot and I let the heat intimidate me from getting any running in. After we flew back home on Saturday I felt absolutely fried from my lack of sleep all week. Jasper had been waking me up around 4:15-5am every morning and apparently I need more sleep than that to function. Alex and I wussed out and skipped our Saturday workout and went to the Grand Reopening of the Stinker Station instead! Truly, you have never lived until you go to a gas station grand opening. It was quite the community affair.

Sunday we planned to go for a 4 mile stroller run with a park pit stop in the middle, but a lawn mowing snafu left us pressed for time and we settled with a MUCH shorter run to a closer park, giving us about 2 miles altogether. Better than nothing, right?

Yesterday is where we started to get back on track. On Sunday we did some epic grocery shopping to fill our house with healthy, homemade food and to get me back into the clean eating mind set. So with real food to eat and a pathetic weekend under our belt, I was feeling motivated to get back on track. I taught Stroller Strides yesterday to five dedicated mamas who braved black skies and crazy wind to get their workout in.

Last night was the first night of my new session of Body Back that I am taking. We have an awesome group of thirteen participants plus two instructors and I am so pumped! We did assessments last night and I always get myself so psyched out for them. I don’t think I did any PR’s on my strength assessments, but I kicked ass on my timed mile. Technically we only ran 0.9 miles, but I did it in 6:19!!! That’s almost a full minute improvement for me within the last year. Despite wanting to puke when I was done, I felt amazing. Rarely have I been more proud. The only bad part? Now I have to beat that time in 8 weeks. Ack!

This morning Jasper woke up puking and threw off our plans for the day. Fortunately my friend Layla, who is the mom of Alma’s best friend, was willing to take Alma for a while today and ended up letting her hang out for most of the day. It gave Jasper some time to rest and gave me a chance to get some cooking/baking done. I made some of my favorite crackers┬á(I sub more sunflower and pumpkin seeds in place of the pecans to make them nut-free) and a new hummus recipe – and now I have finally found a decent hummus recipe! Alex got me the America’s Test Kitchen Vegetarian cook book for Mother’s Day and I am finally getting around to trying it out. I made the roasted garlic hummus and it is so creamy and delicious. Definitely the best hummus I’ve ever made and maybe even some of the best I’ve had, period.

Word to the wise: do not fill up on roasted garlic hummus and crackers before you are about to do sixty burpees. You will be tasting them the entire time. While the kids played in the yard this evening, Alex and I did this quick twenty minute workout:

We made it into twenty squats instead of fifteen, but other than that we stuck to it. It wasn’t the most challenging workout ever, but it was a great one to do on a weeknight with kiddos who are ready for dinner and bed. It’s also a great workout to do while you’re wearing a bike helmet and tap shoes, obviously.

The “tap shoe burpee” is my new favorite variation on the burpee. I can’t wait to use it in my classes. I think it will really catch on. As for the bike helmet? Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Tomorrow is my rest day (which is also my cheat day… woot!). This week is a special installment of Patio Wine Wednesday – “Cocks in the Henhouse” – where husbands have been invited and we’re doing a potluck for dinner. Alex just whipped up some peanut sesame noodles to bring and I’m going to make this summer-y cocktail/dessert to share. It’s gonna be a good day.

Update: A week ago Sunday I totally did the 7.7 mile Crestline/Lower Hulls loop that had been taunting me. And I was even faster than I had anticipated… which I think is mainly an indicator at how bad I am at estimating pace.