the letdown

I’ve been waiting for this to happen. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I knew the high wouldn’t last forever; I’m just sad it didn’t last longer.

I’m now experiencing what call only be called the post-70.3 blues. I imagine this is what addicts feel like once the drugs have worn off. It’s been a few days since I crossed the finish line. I’ve talked ceaselessly about my accomplishment. (to the extent that some are likely avoiding my phone calls) I can no longer brag to family and friends about what I’ve done. Everybody has heard! The race event photographer has sent my photos and I’ve looked at the expression of sheer joy on my face hundreds of times. Others have moved one, it’s now time for me to do the same.

So, I’m going back to my regular life, just like all of you have. Don’t get me wrong, I will be forever changed by this experience. I had to dig deeper than I ever have to reach my goal. I learned that I am mentally stronger than I ever thought possible (and I’ve always thought I was unbelievably mentally strong!) And, I can’t be too depressed, my niece Lucky now calls me “IronMel!”

my craziest endeavor yet, 70.3 miles part 2

I know, it really wasn’t fair of me to leave y’all hanging yesterday. But, the post was really long and I didn’t want any of you to be bored and stop reading. So, here you go….the good stuff!

my finisher’s medal

After a fitful night of sleep, I finally got up around 5:15. I needed to eat and get ready for the day. I got dressed, grab the last of my stuff to take and made a PB sandwich to take with me. Unfortunately, race nerves had gotten the best of me. I was completely unable to eat. As I drove to the race venue, I tried to choke down the PB sandwich as best I could. I think I managed to eat about half of it. I had a couple of other items with me to eat before the race started but couldn’t stomach the thought of any of them either. Luckily, I was able to drink and did manage to get plenty of liquid into my body.

I arrived at the race venue, parked my car (worried that I wouldn’t find it after the race) and headed over to catch the shuttle.

I can truly say I felt very alone at this moment. This isn’t meant to make anybody feel bad, but I just wanted someone I knew to be there with me. For various reasons, none of my friends or family were able to be there with me on race day. From the moment I woke up I had to mentally convince myself that even if they weren’t with me physically, I had lots of family & friends cheering me on from afar. I just wanted someone to talk to, someone who understood how I panic before a race, someone to calm me down & make me laugh & tell me I could do this. But, I knew I’d have to count on myself to make that happen.

After the short ride to the lake, the shuttle dropped us off at the swim venue. As I stepped off the bus it was the moment of no return for me. Once I was off that bus, this race was going to happen. I went and got body marked (they put your number on your upper arm & age on your calf to help identify each athlete) and headed into the transition area. I needed to check my bike, make any final adjustments and inflate my tires (yes, I had to inflate my own tires–something I rarely do!)

And now, the waiting game began. Transition was scheduled to close at 7:15, the first wave (all the pros) was set to go off at 7:30 and I wasn’t scheduled to start until 8:35. That is a very long time to wait around with nothing to do. Again, I was really wishing I had someone there with me, but I didn’t. I knew I’d have to get through this alone. I decided I should probably try eating again. And again, no luck. I got a few bites of a health bar down but just couldn’t manage to eat more than that. I hoped it wouldn’t effect me later in the race, but there was nothing I could do about my inability to eat.

A little before 8 the pros began exiting the water. I didn’t have much else to do so decided I’d watch these amazing athletes head out of the water. It was the best decision I’d made all morning. For whatever reason, I found this to be very relaxing. Maybe it was the fact that I was focused on something other than myself. Either way I was finally starting to calm down and get focused on the race.

Before I knew it, they were calling my wave to the start. Soon thereafter, we entered the water. The water felt great. I’d started eyeing the markers of the swim course and it didn’t seem so bad. I reminded myself how much I’d swum over the past several months and I was ready for this swim.

The air horn sounded and we were off! As always, I stayed back a bit to avoid the melee at the front of the swim. Within just a few minutes I was getting into a rhythm. The worst part of the swim, for me at least, is making it to the first turn. Once I hit that first turn I knew I was a third of the way through the swim and nothing could stop me. I can honestly say I felt great on my swim. It was one of the best open water swims I’ve ever had! All through the swim I resisted the urge to look at my watch. I didn’t want to worry about my time (or my heart rate), but just focus on having a strong swim. When I finally reached the shore I decided I’d peek at my watch. “Anything under 1 hour and you’ve had a great swim,” I told myself. You can’t begin to imagine the thrill of looking at my watch and seeing “45 minutes.” That put an immediate smile on my face. I knew then it was going to be a good race day!

Once out of the water, I headed up the shore and into the transition area. I was shocked at the number of bikes still in transition near my bike. (Typically, you’re bikes are racked based on your race number & the age group you’re racing in.) This made me smile again; I was in a much better position than I expected to be out of the swim. I took off my wetsuit and began to get ready for the bike. As I glanced up, there was a man who had apparently decided he didn’t need to wear anything under his wet suit and was now changing to get on his bike—yep, right there in the open, with nothing on. I was a bit shocked, but also thought “oh, those crazy triathletes!” And then, I did something I never do in transition–I ate! Usually I’m worried about how quickly I get out of transition, the time does count against your overall time. But today, I decided that I wasn’t worried about my transition times. I took my first (of many) GUs and choked it down with some water. I double checked to ensure my helmet was strapped on, my sunglasses secure and my shoes buckled (with their velcro of course). I stuffed my wetsuit and other swim gear into the bag and was on my way.

The bike has always been the hardest (maybe worst is a better word) part of the triathlon for me. I can ride just fine; I’m just not a very strong nor fast cyclist. It’s the area I always wish I was better at and know, with more work, I could definitely be faster. Well, today I knew I had the secret weapon—a sweet set of Reynolds wheels. Joe, my bike boy at SBR, hooked me up with this great set of Reynolds sixty-six tubular wheels. I knew I couldn’t let those wheels or Joe down. I had to work hard on the bike.

I hadn’t seen the bike course until I started riding it. I didn’t do any recon work the day before and had only glanced at in on map my ride. However, it was turning out to be exactly what I expected. There were some “climbs” but nothing with a serious grade. There were some downhills, but nothing seriously steep. It was a bike course designed with me in mind!

One of the things I’d struggled with in my training was my nutrition. I knew I had to manage my nutrition or pay the price later in the day. I had salt tablets, GUs, cytomax mixed with CarboPro and some EatDutchWaffles on board. I also knew that every 12 miles along the course were aid stations with water and other items. I only planned to pick up water along the course. I did my first bottle exchange at mile 24….and it went off without a hitch (I was very concerned about grabbing water bottles out of the hands of volunteers on the fly, but no need to worry, I was a pro!) It was about this time that I started to panic. My bike was going great. However, it appeared that I had one less GU than I originally thought. This meant I now had to start rationing, not a good position to be in. I was glad I had initially started with 2 (instead of my usual 1) water bottles of cytomax mixed with CarboPro (about 300 calories in each bottle). After the first bottle exchange, I still had a full bottle of this mixture. I was feeling great and knew that I could get by on just those calories for a few more miles. Luckily, this small glitch had no effect on my nutritional needs. I continued to feel great throughout the bike.

I was watching my bike computer to see how many miles I had left. As I was approaching the 30 mile mark I came to a realization–once I hit 34 miles on the bike I was at the half way point to my goal (1.2 miles on the swim plus the 34 on the bike was 35.2–yes, sometimes I can do math). At this point there was no way I was stopping. I was going to finish all 70.3 miles!

It was also around this point that the wind picked up. Have I mentioned how much I hate the wind? No, well let me mention it now. I hate the wind! Especially on the bike. Especially when riding a deep wheel set (I don’t like being moved sideways across the road). Every time I’d start to gain speed, that wind had a different idea. I’d be riding along at 18 mph and suddenly, my speed would drop to 12 mph. I was still working as hard, just not going as fast. This continued for most of the second half of the bike course. My legs felt great, I just needed that wind to stop!

As great as my legs felt, there were other areas of my body that weren’t so happy with me. I have never wanted to be off of a bike as much as I did at mile 40. I no longer wanted to sit in the saddle. I just wanted to be done with the bike and off on the run. But, they only way that would happen was to ride faster. As much as I wanted to ride faster the wind just wouldn’t let me. I checked my watch and realized that I was on pace (even with the wind slowing me down) to finish the bike portion in under 4 hours. I’d told myself before race day that the bike would likely take me 4 hours and I’d be happy with that. Once again, I surprised myself! My final bike split: 3 hours 37 minutes.

I came into the final transition feeling great. I’d had one of the best bikes in any race and was feeling great. My legs weren’t tired and I was well on my way to finishing this thing. I got on my shoes and socks, stuffed the last 4 of my 8 GUs to be consumed that day into the pockets of my tri-kit and grabbed my visor. I only had a half marathon (13.1 miles) to run and my goal was accomplished. As I exited transition I checked the time–if I ran the half marathon in a couple of minutes under 2 and a half hours, I’d finish the entire race in under 7 hours. It was a crazy thought, but one I allowed myself to think, but only briefly.

As I started out on my first of three loops on the run course I began to realize that my legs just didn’t want to cooperate. No worries, it always takes me some time to get into the run. The entire first loop (just over 4 miles) was not pretty. It was hot, I was tired and I really wanted my day to be finished. My legs continued to rebel against what I was asking of them. At every aid station I poured water & ice into my sports bra to help keep me cool. I began to think that I’d never start my second loop on this course. Again, I really wished that there was someone there just for me; someone cheering me on by name. I knew I’d have to fight through these miles and finish this on my own.

As I finally came around to begin my second loop, the announcer called my name. For the next few feet spectators that I didn’t know were cheering me on by name. I don’t know what it is about having people cheer for you by name, but it is a definite motivator. I was finally able to run at a steady pace. It was slow, but I was making progress and wasn’t feeling as bad as I did on that first loop. I thought I’d finally found my groove! Sadly, this freedom only lasted for about 1.5 miles. But, it was enough. I began to give up on my hope of finishing in under 7 hours, but knew there was no way I wouldn’t finish this thing. I no longer calculated a goal time, I just wanted to finish. I met other people along the way who were struggling through the run just like me. We’d chat for a few minutes until one of us felt the need to start running again. They’d leave me or I’d leave them only to come across the next weary soul. Finally, I was at the turn around for the final lap.

I was relieved! I only had to run this loop one more time before heading into the finish chute. I headed back out with a plan. I told myself I could walk all the uphill portions of the course as long as I ran the downhill portions. I also started drinking Coke at the aid stations…..not just Coke, but warm Coke. Drinking that Coke made me think of my Dad–he’s a lover of the stuff and I can’t stand it, but man during that race I loved it. I wondered if my dad were at the race would he challenge me to a “leg race” once I crossed the finish line. (another story for another time, but yes, he would have challenged me!) I also reminded myself of all the amazing supporters I had in Utah, Texas, Australia and Peru. (I literally had fans around the world–I bet not many other racers could say that!) I couldn’t let any of them down! And, I even mentally dedicated the toughest miles along that run to Wendy–I kept telling myself, “if she can fight cancer, I can easily finish this race!”

As I approached the last half mile I saw a guy who I hadn’t spoken to, but who I’d been playing leap frog with throughout that final lap. As he came up to me, he stopped and started walking alongside me. I told him that he couldn’t walk, he’d been my motivator all afternoon. He told me I’d been the same for him. (It’s always amazing to me the bond that is forged between complete strangers during an endurance event) We walked another 50 yards and then agreed to start running again. He took off and left me, which I was fine with. I wanted to have the finish line all to myself when I got there. With about 200 meters to go, I totally started to tear up–I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this. I made myself stop (as I likely would not have been able to finish had I started to cry). Once I rounded the corner to enter the arena and the finishing chute, it hit me. I was about to finish my first Ironman 70.3. I had a new surge of energy. I ran faster than I had all day toward that finish line and I had the hugest smile on my face!

When I woke up that morning I didn’t know if I’d be able to complete an Ironman 70.3. I finished the race and left everything I had out there on the course; I know I couldn’t ask more of my body than I did that day. That night when I went to bed, I felt like a champion!

my craziest endeavor yet, 70.3 miles part 1

I decided several months ago that I wanted to complete an Ironman 70.3. At first I considered doing the race in Boulder, CO. It was close to home, would be easy to get to and seemed like a great course. As the race date neared, there was no way I was prepared to complete that distance. I decided that a fall race would be my best bet. So, as I began to look I determined that the race in Austin, TX definitely suited me. It was a fairly easy bike course–no real climbing and being at sea level couldn’t hurt.

After weeks of debate, I finally bit the bullet and registered. If you know anything about the Ironman brand and their series of races, you know how pricey they are. You can register for a half Ironman (or Ironman 70.3) for the low cost of $250. As soon as I hit that “complete registration” button, I wanted to throw up just a little. You’d think because of the race entry fee, but no it was because what I was about to do became real. No only was I going to ask my body to complete 70.3 miles (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike & 13.1 run) I was also asking my body to train for such an endeavor.

Little did I know just how much work and preparation this race would take. Lucky for me, my dear friend Rhielle agreed to do all my long rides with me. I don’t know what I would have done without her by my side pushing me through all those rides. We rode through construction zones (and even risked our lives one day); we rode canyons; we rode in hot and freezing cold temps. Never once did she let me quit. She was even there for my last brick workout and pushed me harder on the run than I thought I could go.

Soon after I signed up for the race I booked my hotel, airfare and rental car. I didn’t want any little detail to keep me from the race. I even called Mandy, who lives in Keller, to see if she could come down for the weekend. I needed as much support as I could get around me.

After months of training and preparation. Race week was finally here. I didn’t know if I was ready but there was no turning back. A couple of days before the race I had a major meltdown. I sent harried emails, text messages and phone calls to my favorite bike boy, Joe at SBR. Fortunately, he was able to talk me down and convince me that I’d be ok come race day.

My bike had been shipped the week prior and had arrived at the bike shop. I called to let them know when I’d be by to claim it so they’d have it built for me. Joe stayed up late on Thursday to finish my wheel-set so I’d have “fast wheels” to race on. I spent hours packing and double checking to ensure I had all my bike gear. Rhielle even wrote a beautiful post & tribute and got many people to post encouraging messages on her blog just for me. So, on Friday October 21st I boarded my flight for Austin, TX.

Friday afternoon was great! Mandy, Matt, Maddy & Landry came all the way to Austin to spend 24 hours with me. We ate dinner at Chipotle, tried to swim in the pool (it was FREEZING) and just had a fun time together. It was so great to see those cute kiddies and I don’t think they realize just how much I appreciate them making the trek to spend so little time with me.

Saturday they all kept me company as I headed over to pick-up my race packet and drop off all my gear. Matt even helped me figure out how to change out my brakes and wheel-set so my bike was ready to go for Sunday morning. The lines were crazy–both for packet pick-up & to get official Ironman gear. (I wasn’t leaving this race without some memorabilia that I’d been there.) We decided to divide and conquer. Mandy waited in line at the store and Matt & Landry kept my company. As I was waiting in line to get my packet, I felt completely out of my league. Who did I think I was? No way could I be doing the same thing all these fit, muscular athletes were doing! And so the panic began.

Finally, we got through the lines. First, I had to sign a waiver–basically stating that if I died on the course it wasn’t their fault and I wouldn’t hold them liable. Then I got my official packet–t-shirt, swim cap, gear bags, drawstring bag and some fliers. We had the goods for the race and we were on our way. Next stop was the car so I could sort all my race gear into the various bags—bike, run, etc. Then we were off to T2 (transition 2) to unload my running gear. I wanted to get everything dropped off on Saturday so I didn’t have to stress about gear come Sunday morning. To get to T2 we walked through the open arena. I had no idea that the finish was inside the building. We watched them set-up the finish area and were on our way. Well, at least I was. Maddy decided she wanted to stay inside where it was cool and wait in the chairs. That was just fine with me as it allowed me to take my time. I wandered through T2, found my spot and figured out where bike in and run out were located. At this point, the nerves were definitely starting to kick in!

Next it was time to drop off the bike. Whether I wanted to or not, bike drop off was mandatory the day before the race. Matt drove me over and dropped me off as close to the transition area as he could. Again, I easily found my spot in transition, set-up my bike and my gear and headed out. I resisted the urge to look at the swim course. Viewing the swim course always makes me nervous and I always think it is longer than it should be.

It was now late in the afternoon on Saturday and we were all starving. At Maddy’s request we were off to Chipotle again. That girl loves her rice and beans! We ate our meal and headed back to the hotel.

Sadly, it was now time for Mandy & Matt to pack everything up and head back to Keller. So, Maddy and I enjoyed a little Blue Bell while Matt & Mandy got everything together. I was certainly sad to see them go. We hauled everything down and got them situated in the car. They were off and I was left all alone.

Come back tomorrow as I document the details of race day.

separate, but…..separate?!?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for equality. Yes, women should be paid the same as men for the same job. Women should have the same rights as men to vote, own property and complete higher education. But what’s happening right now with the IAAF is just ridiculous!

Here’s the full article on what constitutes a woman’s world record in a marathon. Basically, the current world record of 2 hours 15 minutes and change held by Paula Radcliffe no longer counts as she earned that record at the London marathon—a mixed sex race. She had an unfair advantage because she was racing with men and they pushed her to run faster and harder. They are now claiming that only records set at women only races should count for women.

In my opinion, I see several problems with this new “rule.” All the major marathons are co-ed endeavors. Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York all have a mixed field. These are the marathons that people know about, have heard of and are possibly hoping to qualify for or be chosen in the lottery to run these races. Now, the most important races in the sport can’t have a world record set at them? Where does that leave the elite women runners? Competing for cash but not time? (Trust me these majors pay out significantly more than the smaller races)

This is a major step back in the history of women’s running. The first woman to enter and try to run the Boston Marathon was Katherine Switzer in 1967. Race officials tried to pull her from the course for the mere fact that she was a woman. It wasn’t until 1984 that the Olympics allowed the women’s marathon to be an official event. ( I still remember watching that race and being so proud that the American Joan Benoit Samuelson won on home turf!) Before that it was believed that “women just couldn’t run that far.” (even though they’d been doing it for several years at other marathons).

The major complaint for women setting record in co-ed events is the fact that the men push the women to be faster. Who’s to say the women don’t push the men? Let’s be honest, I don’t know any man that likes to get beat by a woman. Yes, it happens to many of them in co-ed races but I guarantee the sight of a woman coming up on a man only encourages him to run a little faster so he doesn’t get beat by a chick!

My final issue with this potential rule change is the atmosphere of all women races. I’m not opposed to all women’s events; I’m running the pink half marathon next month is Park City. You can even read my friend Rhielle’s thoughts on all women’s races. In my experience, all women’s races are more about the swag bag, making friends and wearing pink not about the competition. Most all women’s races are designed to help women feel comfortable and confident racing. They provide a safe haven for women who don’t want to compete with men.

I think if we’re really going for a separate but equal playing field when it comes to road racing, we need to let women set women’s records at co-ed or same sex events. There will always be separate records for both men and women; I just hope we don’t see an asterisk denoting a record set at a co-ed event.

the kindness of co-workers

I work in outside sales. I love that I don’t go into an office everyday. On occasion, I miss the Monday morning catch-up or the water-cooler conversation. For the most part I don’t miss that day-to-day interaction with co-workers. It’s just never been that important to me. I much prefer the randomness of my days and getting to converse with a variety of people. The downside to all of this is you never quite develop great relationships with your co-workers. Sure I see them on occasion; we work together on a semi-regular basis. But, it’s rare that I have the feeling that a co-worker’s “got my back.” Recently this all changed.

Earlier this year I was working with a potential client. Things were going along as expected–there were a few bumps and set-backs but everything was progressing smoothly. Then, without notice, they seemed to fall of the face of the earth. I couldn’t get a response via phone or email, my co-worker experienced the exact same thing. I just chalked it up to a lost client. Not something I like, but something that happens in sales.

Then just as suddenly this client was back calling and emailing. However, this time they were irate. Why wasn’t anybody calling them back? Where was their contract? What had happened? I started the process again and thought things were moving along. Until the day I received that awful email! I have never been spoken to via email or in person the way this client spoke to me. There was nasty language (stuff that would make a sailor blush!), inaccurate accusations and phrases that weren’t meant to be nothing more than hurtful and rude. I was shocked and decided then I was through with this customer. Fortunately, my co-worker felt the same way and so we were through.

Boy was I wrong! Here we are 3 months later. That client has now signed a contract (for which I will get all the benefit) and has started using my product. The thing is, I haven’t spoken to this customer since June when that nasty email was sent. As it turns out, this client contacted my co-worker a few weeks ago. This kind gentleman took over the contract negotiations and closing of the deal (knowing he wouldn’t make a penny off of it) so I wouldn’t have to work with this client again. His actions almost brought me to tears when I heard. Not only did he negotiate the contract. I also learned that upon visiting this client again he informed them their actions and word were inappropriate, they had no right to speak to me that way and if they ever felt the need to use that kind of language they could speak to him directly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty tough girl who can take care of herself. But to have someone defend me that way was unexpected and truly appreciated.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a co-worker (even ones that I’ve had a great relationship with and saw everyday) treat me so well. This guy is a gem! If he treats me this way, I can only imagine how he treats his wife. How do you express gratitude for such kind actions? I did send him & his wife a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants with a kind note. But, it just doesn’t seem like enough. To be honest, I’m not sure I could ever repay this small act of kindness. I only hope that some day I’m able to pass along this same type of kindness to someone else.

my near death experience at the hands of UDOT

As you may or may not know, I’m training for an Ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). As part of my training, I have to get in a longer bike ride each week. Lucky for me, I have a great friend, Rhielle, who is willing to do all these rides with me. Last week we decided to do our loop through Francis and the part of the Jordanelle bike course to add the extra miles. We also had our friend Sonia join us, so it was destined to be a great time!

As is typical of Utah in the summer months, there is construction everywhere. We knew that part of our route was under construction, but it was less construction than on any other route we might ride. We headed out fully prepared for a few bumps in the road. When we hit Oakley, there was one 3 mile section that was a single lane of traffic. Being the law abiding citizens that we are, we stopped to wait for our turn to navigate through the traffic. Rhielle went up to talk to the flag person to inform them how we would proceed through this section to ensure our safety. It was agreed that we would follow behind all the cars since we would obviously be slower than them. As we would be the only people on the road, we would ride down the middle so we were more visible. The man at our end would radio ahead to let the next person know there were 3 cyclists riding through so no cars would be sent before we reached the stop point for cars.

Everything seemed to be going as planned. We waited until all the cars had passed, got in line behind them and took off on this 3 mile section. The road was winding and slightly downhill. This was great as a cyclist; I had the whole road to myself and could maneuver through the turns without fear of any cars. Or at least that’s what I thought. Just as I started coming around a curve there was a car directly in my line of travel. And, right behind it was another car, actually a big diesel a truck and a full line of cars heading out on the one lane road. I’ll admit, I panicked a bit. Obviously our plan for safety hadn’t worked. I was able to move out of the path of the first car. And fortunately, the big truck slowed down enough that I could move over to the non-working lane and travel the last quarter of a mile in safety.

Needless to say, we were all pretty upset with the flag person who had sent cars before we had made it to safety. After some heated words spurned on by all the adrenaline, we learned that she had not been notified that there would be 3 cyclists coming through at the end of the line of cars. She apologized and we completed our ride without further incident.

I tweeted about my experience and even mentioned the offending UDOT region, UDOT Region Two twitter account. I guess they don’t really monitor their account because I never got a response. I even called the UDOT office, logged my complaint and asked for a call back. That was a week ago and I still haven’t heard anything from them. The best part of the call–I was told that all the work is contracted out, so it really wasn’t UDOT’s fault that I was nearly killed in a construction zone. I’m sorry! Those contractors are representatives of your organization and as far as I’m concerned they are UDOT. I’ve since sent an email through the UDOT site requesting that they call me back. I’m not holding my breath.

china: american care package edition

*not pictured a small bag of Cheetos and a Hostess fruit pie for jg


One of the best parts of prepping for my trip to China was getting together a little care package of American goodies for meggie. During all the email exchanges during trip prep I continually asked if I could bring her anything from the US. I always received the same response—nothing! Okay, she did ask for a couple of necessary items that she had shipped to me from drugstore.com. And eventually, she did joking ask if I could bring her a diet Mountain Dew.

Well, that request got me thinking……and happened appears above. I just wanted to do my best to take all of meggie’s favorites from America. It was so much fun figuring what to take, how to pack it and what meggie would be most excited to get. I was almost as excited to give meggie all her treats as I was to get to China!

When I saw meggie and jg at the airport, jg immediately grabbed my bag. I was so worried he would comment about how heavy it was and question what I had packed. Luckily, I didn’t ask any questions so i didn’t have to worry about ruining my surprise for meggie.

After we arrived in Yangshou, I could hardly wait to give meggie all her treats. We headed to their apartment to drop off all my stuff before heading to dinner. I started to unpack and give meggie the items she had requested. I then tossed her what appeared to be a hand towel stuffed into multiple ziploc bags and told her she should open it. When she opened it, she discovered the diet Mountain Dew.

I then proceeded to give her the other items pictured above—lots of meggie favorites! One of the best items I was able to take her was some dill pickles. Thanks to Wendy I learned that you can get dill pickles in little individual wrapped snack sizes. It was so awesome to had those to meggie. She is a lover of dill pickles and it is something she can’t find in China.

I love that I was able to take a surprise and a little piece of America to my sister living in China. And, my bag weighed about 15 pounds less after emptying all of meggie’s treats.

oh the jet-lag!

As soon as my sister (meggie) and brother-in-law told me they were moving to China, I knew I had to go visit them. I’d never been to China and figured this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Back in January, they moved to the south of China; to a small town called Yangshuo. Sadly, I would be nowhere near the Great Wall, the Forbidden City or the Terracotta Soldiers, but I was going to visit a beautiful area of China.

After what seemed like a week, (but was really only 2 days) I arrived in Shanghai. I had about 17 hours in Shanghai before catching another flight to Guilin. I arrived late at night and headed to my hotel. Rather than change my clock, I figured I could just calculate when to set my alarm. Well, if you know me and math, it will come as no shock that I set my alarm to get up at around 7am (not 9am as I had anticipated). Oh well, I felt great so decided to get up and head out to do some sight seeing.

I wandered down toward the People’s Square. It was so interesting to see several groups of people doing various forms of Tai Chi. There were people with fans, swords, scarves and just themselves. It was fascinating to see all the people up and about at that time of day. I wandered over to The Bund. If I was going to be in Shanghai, I had to see this area. It was so beautiful!

After walking through the city for about 2 and a half hours I was getting a bit tired and definitely hungry. I decided I’d better head back toward my hotel. Just around the corner from my hotel was a great area of all sorts of street vendors. I wandered looking for something tasty to eat (I knew my mom would not approve of me eating from a street vendor!) I found this yummy looking sesame filled pancake looking thing (yes, that’s its official name). I bought a couple of pieces of fruit from another vendor. Then went to a little store and bought some water and juice to round out my meal. It was definitely delicious!

After packing up my stuff, it was off to the airport for another flight. By now I thought I’d be through with flying, but I guess the thought of seeing my little sister soon was enough to get me back on the plane. I must say, I like flying in China–they don’t make you take your shoes or jacket off when you go through security. Quite a change from travel in the US! I couldn’t wait to get to Guilin.

After getting my luggage, I walked to the lobby area and witnessed the most beautiful sight! There jumping to look for me was my sister! I was so excited to see her and jg. I was also lucky that one of their co-workers had some business in Guilin and was willing to give us a ride back to Yangshuo. It was only a 1 hour 45 minute drive and I would be to my destination. (for those of you keeping score, I traveled for close to 24 hours to arrive in Yangshuo) As soon as we got in the van, I could wait no longer—I had to give my sister one of the many American treats I brought her–Cheetos!

We headed to meggie’s favorite mei fun place for some delicious dinner. Mei fun is a delicious noodle dish, served in broth with pickled radishes and spiced green beans. It was after dinner that things began to get fuzzy–I was exhausted!

Here’s an example of just how “fuzzy” I was: On my last night in Yangshuo as we were headed back home, I said I wanted to stop and get a beverage. meggie and jg said we’d just stop at the same place we went the first night I arrived. I thought, great. When we arrived at this mysterious store I had no recollection of ever having been there before. I swore up and down that I had not been to this store, but a different one. meggie and jg assured me that we had been there. We all agreed that my memory was not to be trusted as I could hardly walk straight I was so exhausted.

I had no idea that around the world travel could take it out of you. My brother-in-law was determined to keep me up until 9:30pm (and he barely succeeded!)  I didn’t want to spend my vacation sleeping. So I decided that it was just mind over matter to get over my jet-lag quickly. Ha! I had no idea.

**stay tuned for the American gift basket, me v. a piece of limestone and many other adventures. sorry if these posts seem a bit tedious, but i’m using them as a journal of my adventure.

**sorry for the lack of pictures. i’m on the road ,but wanted to start posting before i forgot everything. as soon as i return i’ll post all my pictures to an album for your viewing pleasure.

room with a view

After several hours on an airplane, I finally arrived in China. Now, this is the view from my window every morning I wake up. Gorgeous, no? 

I got to spend a bit of time exploring Shanghai on my own before heading out to Yangshou (where Meggie and jg live) I was so excited to see the two of them waiting for me at the airport in Guilin. Unfortunately, the weather has been nothing but cold and rainy since I arrived. Hopefully it will soon clear and we will do some climbing and exploring. In the meantime, I'm eating every delicious food I can get my hands on, and there's a lot of it here! We've done some shopping and some indoor bouldering. There will definitely be more to share. But for now, just be jealous of my amazing view!

sisters, sisters……

Every year around Christmas time, my sisters and I watch “White Christmas.” It’s one of my favorite holiday movies. The performance of “Sisters, Sisters….” is one of our favorite. We’re often heard singing it to each other throughout the year. I really love my sisters and feel very blessed to have them as sisters.

The other day when I attended the Jingle Jam with Wendy, I became a bit envious. All of Wendy’s kids and her sisters kids attend the same elementary school. And, they all live within about a half mile of each other. As if that weren’t enough, they all meet at Wendy’s house each morning with their kids to finish getting ready and take the kids to school. There was definitely a pang of jealousy in me when I learned that.

I adore my sisters and wish that I got to see them everyday. My closest sister lives about 250 miles away in Hurricane, UT. I see CJ a handful of times throughout the year. I stay with her twice a year when I do the St. George tri and the Kokopelli tri. If I ever decide to do the St. George marathon again, she’ll provide me with lodging for that as well. She also comes to Provo a few times a year–usually involving the Hurricane State Football championship game or some other sports related event. Sadly, when I see CJ it is only briefly and it is rare that her kids (and sometimes even her husband) are around. I wish they were closer so I knew those nieces and nephews better. I will take what little time I get with CJ as she is a busy mom of 4 teenagers.

My next closest sister lives about 280 miles away, at least for 10 more days. When Meggie got married, Jonathan took her away! Yes, he still had school to finish and his school was BYU-Idaho. But, still, we once lived within 5 miles of each other and spent a good deal of time together. I did go visit them in Rexburg over the summer (and ran a half marathon while I was there). Jonathan has been great and brought Meggie down to visit several times. Each of their visits are so fantastic and I’ve grown to love Jonathan more and more with each visit. Now, not only has Meggie left Utah, she will soon be leaving the country. She and her cute husband and heading to China for several months. It’s an exciting adventure for them, but Meggie will be dearly missed. The best part, I have an excuse to visit China now! I can’t wait for that.

And then, there’s Mandy. Mandy lives 1200 miles away in Texas. I go visit her every year and she is good about coming to Utah. But, gone are the days of diet coke and a crossword puzzle in the history department. And, now that Mandy has 2 adorable kids, it will be even harder for her to make the trek to Utah for some sister time. I went to visit Mandy for Thanksgiving this year and boy was that trip not what we had planned. We were both looking forward to some good sister time; Mandy’s last hurrah before baby number 2 came along in January. Well, Lucky’s brother had other ideas and he just didn’t want to wait until January. That cutie-pie decided November was a better time to arrive. I had a fantastic time with Lucky, but Mandy and I missed out on some good sister time. We did the best to cram a week’s worth of playing into 24 hours, but it just wasn’t enough.

As Wendy told me about the fun with her sisters, it really did make me a bit jealous. I thought how fun it would be to live within a mile of all my sisters, to see each other everyday, to have our kids (well, not that all of us have kids or any school aged kids for that matter) attend the same school, to enjoy play dates at the park. I miss having my sister’s around to watch a good (bad?) made for TV movie with me. I’d love to see CJ and more of her kids’ sporting events. I wish I was around to help Mandy right now and spend time with Maddy watching Monsters, Inc and playing outside. I wish Meggie was around to help me feel hip and cool and do fun crafting projects. Hopefully one day we will all live closer to each other. Until then, I will just have to enjoy what little time I do get with them. And, at least we can talk all we want thanks to mobile-to-mobile minutes.