Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How the Americans won Boston

Like most of you did I spent yesterday morning watching one of my favorite runners cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon in first place.  The first American to do so since 1983.

Meb Keflezighi has been a favorite of mine ever since I read his book Run to Overcome a few years ago.  He is a true hero, someone who has to overcome amazing things to win.  He almost retired last year but after the awful bombings last year at the finish line he decided not to retire and come back and run Boston.

He did it in amazing fashion.  I teared up, which is seriously something I never do, as I watched him cross the finish line.  This is a man who turns 39 in a couple weeks.  Many said he was too old.  A few years ago Nike dropped him.  Getting dropped from one of the biggest running sponsors is not a small thing.  He was picked up by the new to the business of running shoes Sketchers, and a few "lesser" companies, but that didn't stop him either.  He has dedicated his life to God, to live up to God's standards in all he does.  Although I've never met him, I respect him more than I can say.

Yesterday I looked for my other favorite American male marathoner.  Ryan Hall.  I didn't see him anywhere in the top results and I was disappointed and sad for him.  His past few years have also been plagued by injury and disappointment.  This was his first marathon in a couple years.  It was supposed to be his big comeback.

Ryan's wife Sara posted this photo on her instagram account:

She said that pretty much describes his day, it was tough. I was sad that things didn't go well for him.

This morning, I read this article.  Seriously, click on it and read it.  It describes how Ryan used some tactics similar to what you often see in cycling.  He basically realized that if Meb, who had already broken away up front, was going to have a chance to win the race he had to keep the chase group from attacking.  When other American runners went to go past the chase group, Ryan would stop them.  He knew that to keep Meb safe up there he had to sacrifice his own time, his own race, and his own efforts, to help his friend, and rival, win.

That isn't an easy thing to do in the sport of running.  In cycling you're all on a team, and if your teammate wins you share the spoils.  In running each person runs as an individual.  Not only do you not share in the spoils when a fellow countryman, or shared sponsored runner, wins the race, but often if your results aren't within a certain limit you will have your own pay cut.

Ryan's finish at 20th place is I'm sure far outside those limits.  I'm sure that his finish not only didn't get him any prestige or bonuses, but in fact probably cut his base contract pay.

He knew that for Meb to win, he couldn't, but he did what he could to make it happen anyway.  That, my friends, is the mark of a gentleman.  Ryan, who has often been blasted for his believe in God above all else, helped his fellow man.  Meb brought tears to my eyes and pride to my heart yesterday morning as I watched him win, but Ryan brought the Spirit of God to my heart as I read of what he did.

I know that some may feel I'm overstating what Ryan did.  Some may say he wasn't going to have a good result no matter what he did.  In a world where every result counts towards or against your livelihood I think it was a bigger sacrifice than many of us think.

I, for one, am so proud that Ryan and Meb and I am so glad they represent my country and my belief in God.

And yeah, I have met Ryan.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Way too much information about my hair (The Curly Girl Method)

A few months ago a friend of mine came over and handed me this book:

I tried to be polite, but mostly I just stared at her.  I am completely hair challenged (and makeup, but that's a different story).  I seriously don't know how to do it.  I have two hairstyles, down and up.  Up means a ponytail, just the regular kind.  I have nothing else.  No tricks up my sleeve, no fancy hairdos, just that.  

My girlfriend is hairdresser and, although she phrased it in a much nicer way, she basically said "Your hair is dumb, let me fix it."  because this is what my hair looked like those days (taken August 2013):

I was going for the beachy wave look.

Okay, okay, really I had just gotten completely lazy.  I grew up in the era of the hair straightener.  So I spent years straightening my hair all the time.  I have a ton of hair so it took forever, and my hair rebelled and never got quite straight enough.  Finally I realized that I was spending way, way too much time on my hair and it didn't even look extraordinary.  It just looked like plain long hair.  No matter what style I got my hair cut in it looked the same because to get the weird waves out of my hair it took serious amounts of straightening.  I even got my hair thermally straightened a few times just to save time.  It worked, for the most part, but I would still have to straighten parts of it.

So when my friend came along I had just given up.  I had just decided to have wild woman hair.  She gave me the book and looked me in the eye and told me I absolutely had to read it.  It was only because I truly love this friend that I cracked it open.  I seriously debated just shoving it on my overcrowded bookshelf and smiling and nodding every time she mentioned it.

I have a hard time reading a single beauty article without dying inside, but I read the entire book in an afternoon.  (I did skip a few chapters that didn't apply to me.)  What drew me in was not the hair method, it was the testimonials.  It voiced things I felt but couldn't put to words.

The method itself sounded easy and complicated at the same time.  Easy once you got used to it, but so different than my current hair routine (or lack thereof) that it sounded daunting.  I won't go into details about the hair method, because if you have wavy, slightly wavy, or any kind of curly hair, you should just read the book.  Plus there are a gazillion blogs out there describing the method in great detail (though you really should just read the book, I think it explains it all better).

I've been using the Curly Girl method since mid December, and although it took some time to get used to it, it now takes me way less time than it did before and I actually like my hair now.  I mean, it's still wild woman hair, but I like it.

One of the hardest parts for me was finding the right products, so here are the ones I use:

Sulfate free shampoo: Nature's Gate Tea Tree Shampoo
Silicone free conditioner: Nature's Gate Herbal Conditioner
Alcohol and silicone free "gel": Herbal Essence Naked Volumizing Souffle (This is a relatively new line and I haven't tried any of their other products, but from the brief label reading I did it looks like most of them would work.  The book recommends gel but I found I liked mousse better.)
Okay, and a fourth, I only shampoo every three days or so and on the off days I put apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on my roots, rub it around, rinse it out and then follow up with conditioner.

That's all it takes to tame the mane.

A few other tips I learned along the way:

The book says to run your fingers through your hair to comb it while you have the conditioner in it in the shower, but that didn't work well for me.  I have way too much hair and it took forever and I'm impatient.  So I use a wide tooth comb, but only in the shower when my hair is full of conditioner.  No other time.  You're not failing if you do this, you just won't be as hard core as the true curly girls and they will judge you for it.  (Just kidding, no one but you will know unless you tell them.)

After I get the conditioner in and comb it out I stick my full of conditioner hair in a shower cap for a few minutes.  (I actually did this part before I even started curly girl, but it's a great addition to it.)    The heat of the shower makes it like a deep conditioning treatment and it gets my hair out of the way so I can continue on with my shower without rinsing out my conditioner prematurely.

Once I got used to the method I got a shorter haircut (it was super long because my hair apparently likes this and it grows insanely fast now) and got a ton of layers put in it and now I love it even more because it's even more wild and crazy.

I don't have a really great picture of the back of my hair, it's so dark it doesn't photograph well, so here is the best picture I have right now of the "after".

I can't say it enough, if you think you have weird unevenly wavy hair that could never be curly, read the book.  If you have curly hair and it's frizzy or hard to control read the book.  If you think you like your curly hair but haven't ever read the book, read the book, you might learn something new, you never know.  (If you live nearby you can borrow it from me.)

I am still the most awkward person ever with hair, I still only have two hairstyles, but at least I like my hair a lot more now! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break 2014

I'm finally blogging about our amazing spring break vacation we had last week.  A lesser blogger might break up this post into more reasonable (or at least readable) chunks, but not me.  I'm going to power straight through to the end with such singlemindedness that only the most dedicated reader will be able to endure all the way to the end. 

Single mindedness?  Who am I kidding.  I'm going to take 17,000 tangents along the way.  Starting....right....now...

Singlemindedness - totally not a word.  Single minded, or single mindedness, but never all in one word.  I'm sticking with it anyway.

We started our adventure on a beautiful Friday morning at 4:45.  Vaughn, just like his father before him, wanted to start early and get a good bulk of the trip out of the way before the kids woke up.  Again, just like his father before him, he said we would leave at 5, only to truly leave at 4:45 because "if you're not five minutes early, you're late" and obviously even earlier is better.  (Who am I kidding, I'm just as, if not more, prompt than Vaughn.  Together we are awkwardly early to almost every single event.)

For having two kids, a dog, and someone whose name I won't mention with a surprisingly small bladder (maybe I'll tell you, when I get back from the bathroom) we made relatively short work of the 870 mile drive with relatively few stops and some surprisingly fun rest areas.  

One might be temped to think that with an entire mini van for a family of four we would have plenty of room to stretch out and relax, and perhaps for a regular family of four that would be the case.  However, add a cyclist into the mix and things change.

Upon arrival at our destination we were nervous about being in a big city and decided to lay traps for any unsuspecting barefooted bandits.

I'm sure the original occupants will be finding hidden traps for weeks to come.

The next morning, Saturday, found the gentleman in the company of his companions.

And the Lady with her childhood friend celebrating her expected increase.

They were duly impressed with the beautiful way the lady has matured over the years.

Our ginger headed companion had one site he could not wait to see, so the next evening, despite the massive amounts of men in black exiting the premises in search of a bite to eat, we headed to the anxiously awaited location.  (Priesthood session was just getting out.)

The gentleman and lady were granted access to some "front row" seats for the headlining event to watch our favorite choir member perform.  (Hi Mom!)

We were situated in a position to see and be seen by all the great ones, including a former presidential candidate and his family.

I don't think his hair ever looks less than perfect.

One of the assembly thought that walking a mile each way to the meeting in these shoes wouldn't be a big deal.  In order to not tarnish their reputation I will refrain from mentioning who.

The other was kind enough to not mention the stupidity of such a thought and kindly offered his arm frequently as the lady, who can walk perfectly respectfully in the aforementioned shoes under less extreme conditions, realized that the pavement conditions of Salt Lake City are not pristine upon closer inspection.

We were then pleased to be introduced to a new member of the party, Mr. Jack.

He seemed to be an amiable sort of fellow, and we find him to be a tolerable addition.  (Who are we kidding, he's one of the most adorable things we've ever seen!)

The gentleman and lady were then pleased to take their posterity to the place where their union began almost 11 years ago.

However an over abundance of car rides and meetings left the children far from impressed.

The lady used the local facilities to improve her mind and figure.

And partook of the much anticipated meals by the local cook, Cafe Rio.

We returned to the square on a less crowded day to more fully partake of the offerings.

We were able to listen to a recital by a talented and renown organist.

The lady found it quite entertaining, and the children found it quite loud.

On another day we traveled down south to relive memories of the collage days.  While we were there we took an invigorating hike up a mountain.  Y?  Because we delight in torturing the young ones.

On the way back home we were able to enjoy the museum of Ancient Life. 

We spent more time on the square touring more beloved locations.

And the lady's fingers itched as she beheld many a tempting musical instrument.  But alas, the proprietors were never swayed by her pleadings at any of the many locations.

However, at one museum we were able to find the fiddle of an ancestor carried across the plains with the pioneers. (Isaac Morley, found at the Church History Museum, no despite the similarities in name he is not mentioned in A Christmas Carol)

We tried to convince the young masters to adopt a transportation method for our return home.

The lady patiently waited for her charges to finish their activities.

Another day we journeyed north to show Master Tyler the grave of his namesake. 

And the lady was able to watch her dear mother rehearse with her choir for her upcoming Easter concert.

As we left town a week later, again at 4:45 AM (even though we planned on 5), the lady and young masters were overcome with exhaustion and slept the majority of the way home making the return trip even easier and quicker than the previous one.

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this ridiculous post with various styles of writing.  For any of you who have ever thought to yourselves that I should write a book (which is actually no one), I'm sure this post reinforces all the reasons it would be a complete disaster.

In all honesty, this was by far one of the best vacations we've ever taken.  The kids were amazing, the places were moving, the time together was priceless.  It would be difficult to put words to the amount of incredible and special experiences we had, which is why the post is mostly pictures.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

OnlineShoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Review

OnlineShoes.com recently sent me a pair of the new New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Shoes.  If you've read my blog for longer than a minute you've probably realized that I'm a total shoe fanatic.  I love shoes of all kinds so I absolutely adore reviewing running shoes. 

The first thing I noticed out of the box was that they looked good.  Mine are what's listed on the website as the blue/orange color wave, although I would argue the "orange" is certainly pink.  

I also noticed that in lieu of the arch post they opted for a solid sole, as so many neutral shoes have been moving to over the past year or so.  I really love it.  I have a few other shoes with that type of sole and I have noticed how quiet and smooth that type of sole is so I was thrilled to see it.  

I took them out on a few short runs.  

Since I normally favor a different brand of shoes it took me awhile to get used to having a completely different fit on my feet.  I don't know if it's because I'm totally in love with my regular running shoes, or if it was just different to get used to, but I couldn't ever get the laces to fit just right in a run.  The toe box is a little narrow for me and the heel was a little loose, and would create a few hot spots.  

I am a mid/forefoot striker and the roll through was really fantastic.  I felt the shoes just encouraging me to toe off again and get some fast footspeed.  

The word "foam" in the name make me think that these shoes would be softer than they ended up being.  I would equate it to the memory foam pillows we have, they are not necessarily "soft", but supportive.  

After a few runs I realized that I kept reaching for my old favorites over these shoes.  They were fun to try, but they will not become a new regular in my running. 

However, what did surprise me is that once I took them out of my running cycle and they were okay to wear around (It's totally just a mental switch, but does anyone else do this?  I'm fanatic about keeping my running and regular shoes separate) I found that I was reaching for them almost every day, not to run in, but to wear around.  

Some of the things that bothered me when running, the tighter toes and loose heel, didn't bother me at all while walking and I appreciated how supportive they are.  On our vacation to Utah last week I wore them nearly every day as we walked miles and miles (I averaged around 5 miles a day walking).  I even wore them hiking up a mountain.

So although I didn't like them for running, I have loved wearing them daily.  I even have a few pairs of my favorite running shoes that have retired to my casual shoes list and I am choosing the Fresh Foam 980's over them.  

Everyone's feet and running stride are different, so what works for me is not nearly as important as what works for you.  The bottom line:  this is a quality shoe that I find myself reaching for over and over again..

Monday, April 7, 2014

Giveaway results!

I am so sorry it's taken me so long to get the giveaway results posted! 

Tink is the winner! Shoot me an email and I'll let you know how to claim your race entry!! 

We are currently visiting Utah and my laptop for some reason now hates connecting to the internet. Since posting from my phone is lame I'll just let you know that we are having a blast and I can't wait to fill you in on all the amazing stuff we've been up to! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reebok Spartan Race Giveaway!

Let's face it.  I'm kind of a race wuss.  I mean, I've done a lot of races, and a bunch of different distances, but they've all been relatively tame.  Most of them have been on the road, with only a few short forays into cross country.  They've all been reasonable distances, I've never ventured into the ultra or the super fast sprints.  And I've never done a hard core mud or obstacle run.

Have you heard of the Spartan Races?

They sound pretty flippin' hard core.  They have them all over, including one right here in Washington on August 2nd.  

Each even has a different level.  For example the Washington one is a sprint, or the most basic level, and the one in Utah on June 28th is a beast, or the hardest level.  

That means they have races out there for (relatively) chicken people like me, or super hard core people like some of you.

One of you has the opportunity to be a lucky duck and get a free entry into any US 2014 Spartan Race!  That's pretty awesome!  You can pick the race that works best for you!

To enter:
Each bullet is one entry, leave a separate comment for each entry.  

Giveaway ends Thursday at midnight PDT.

Don't like your chances in the giveaway?  Click here for a code that will get you 15% off any Spartan Race! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Track is Back!

What a great day!  The sun was shining, it was warm outside, it was phenomenal.  The fantastic weather made me brave enough to go to the track for the first time in about two months.  

I met up with running buddies Terra, Heather, and Martinho for a speed workout.  While we were warming up there were some young high school looking boys doing 20 meter sprints.  After our warm up I asked if we could race them, and the looked at me funny, but agreed.  I told them that if any of them got beat by a girl they had to tweet it out.  We did a couple different kinds of football drill sprints, and they beat me in all of them, but only by half a stride or so.  I put out a respectable showing.  Then we did a straight out 20 meter sprint.  2 of them beat me without question, one of them I tied with, and one of them I beat.  It was good fun. I asked them how old they were and they said they were all 19-20, and I told them I thought they were high school kids, they said that was okay because they thought we were too.  

Is it strange that I'm more motivated to get in shape to beat them then I am to run a race?  

I could tell that it's been awhile since I've done at true speed workout, I've lost a lot of speed in my turnover.  Nevertheless, when I was done playing we got to the real workout.  Terra had 10x400m on the docket, I had no workout plans so I was just going to tag along with her.  However, after doing 5 20 meter full out sprints, and considering it's my first week back in months, I was holding myself to just 5.  

I wasn't wearing my garmin, so I have no idea what the times were, but I felt really great.  It was amazing to be on the track again with my friends like old times.  I loved it.

Just before bedtime we were all playing with Legos, when we sent the kids off to bed Vaughn and I just kept right on playing.

Can you tell who built what? 

I'm not the most creative builder, I only know how to build houses.  But it's a beautiful lake house with a dock and a boat and friends on the dock!

Good times. 


I'm just throwing it out there, because I'm getting desperate, if any of you live in the greater Seattle area and are a high level musician I need a few more chairs filled for the Ensign Symphony & Chorus concert in May.  Specifically: Violin, harp, contrabassoon (or contrabass clarinet), French Horn, tuba, percussion, bass clarinet. Seriously, if you play this and would be willing to play with us I need you.  I will even make you a treat.  E-mail me (click on the contact me tab).