Friday, January 3, 2020

Life Update & Outlook


Hello friends. I thought it might be time for a small update, considering I haven't posted anything that wasn't travel or race related for... oh, you know--the last two years--that is if I've even posted at all. So if you're still reading here occasionally or possibly a new reader, thank you for your support!

Life as we know it has changed immensely. I'll give you a few quick updates on where we're at.

Job: I've been working full-time for the Idaho Air National Guard since June 2016 when I became a commissioned officer. I worked as our full-time Security Forces Operations Officer for about a year and a half while I went through all my initial certifications and training. I then transitioned to a "drill status guardsmen" (weekend warrior or part-timer) and accepted a temporary full-time job with our Wing's Inspector General shop in February 2018. I worked there for about 8-months before being hired into a permanent, full-time position as the Fighter Wing's Chief of Information Protection (CIP) in October 2018. That is still my current Monday-Friday job--overseeing personnel security clearances, as well as information, industrial, and physical security for our entire Wing.

I love being full-time in the military and I have no plans to go back to the civilian sector anytime soon.

Life: As you may have seen in my last post in December, Daniel and I are expecting a baby--due at the end of February. We don't know what gender we're having--baby will be a surprise! This is a story I could go very in-depth into, but it's our story, so here's the short version. We tried for two years to have a baby, had a miscarriage and a lot of struggles along the way, but we ended up finally making it happen after much heartache and lots of prayer. This is the biggest blessing of our entire lives, and we cannot wait for our lives to change even more in just a few short weeks.

This last year has also brought significant struggles (and triumph) with my mom being diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer and undergoing major surgery and chemotherapy to rid herself of the tumors. We documented her entire journey on Caring Bridge. When she was diagnosed with cancer it looked really bad and she was so afraid she'd never live to see her grandchildren be born. Surprise--we found out we were expecting the month after she was diagnosed!  Through months of heavy treatment, invasive procedures, and a new oral version of chemo, she is currently cancer free, and we can't wait for her to meet her very first grandchild in February.

Outlook: There's something to be said for free time—or lack thereof. I'm currently in a state where I'm a full-time wife, military member, recent Master's graduate (as of December 2019--woo!), and member of several committees, volunteer groups, and always staying active... not to mention that little bundle that's on the way for us next month. I just don't really have the time to dedicate to being online these days.

As the posts around here begin to dwindle (or stagnate), please remember you can always follow along on Instagram @Annelise Rowe (it's a private account so you'll need to request to follow). I'm trying to do things a lot more offline these days and I'm trying to live a lot more in the moment, so blogging and social media are just not quite as high on my priority list right now. I know you guys understand, you always do!

On November 10, 2011, I wrote a short poem, my first post on this blog. I still find this poem to be so fitting. But instead of making my impact online, I'm now focusing on making it in person, as a new mom, a wife, in the military, as a friend, with service before self, love, kindness, grace, humility, and a motivation for living life to the fullest that once again, feels like a new beginning. Thank you guys again... for everything.

The Beginning.
Though it seems like a new start,
it is simply a moment in time.
A small moment. 
A revelation,
to one soul,
who aspires to feel the depth,
the impact,
of herself on the world.
Though small, like a bird
she shall fly,
and show you just how high
she can soar. 

An original poem - 11.10.2011

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2019


MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Love ♥ The Rowes and Baby Rowe due February 2019

♥ —God is so good— 

Past Christmas cards: 2011 │ 2012201320142015201620172018

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Boise SPARTAN Sprint Race

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

Preface: As I'm getting around to posting this, it should be noted that we completed this race at the end of June 2019, and yet here I am sixty days later finding time to get it online. Ah, the life of a has-been blogger who is also a full-time military member, committee member, volunteer, part-time graduate student, traveler, wife, daughter of a mom with cancer, and avid Fantasy Football addict... we've had just a couple of things going on lately.

Now, I'd like to start by saying that this race was incredible for two reasons. First, it was Daniel's first race EVER (ever ever!) and I couldn't have been more proud of him for how well he did in it. Second, this race marks my first Spartan Trifecta earned, and I couldn't be happier to have ran a Super in April, Beast in May, and to finish it out with a Sprint in June! I am now part of the Trifecta Tribe--Aroo! 

This was also the first Spartan that I did not compete in. You know, I thought that I might be able to train for Elite Spartans and might have a chance at doing OK. And after doing both the Super and Beast as an Elite this year, I think with enhanced training and a different mindset, I just might be able to be alright at this sport as a competitive athlete. But where I'm at right now in LIFE is just not a place where this fits. I am just not "there" (and neither is my fitness level), so while that may have been a short-lived dream, for now I'm just embracing my fitness right where it's at. What am I training for? I'm training to be HEALTHY!

Daniel and I entered ourselves into the Age Group category, which is still technically "competitive," but we mostly did that so we could get a decent start time and hit the obstacles early enough before all the sunscreened hands and wet bodies mucked everything up. That decision was worth it! We started at 0800 and it was a perfect day for a race!

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

Now, I mentioned before that Daniel has never done a race before in his life. So this was REALLY cool to be able to share this experience with him. We stayed together the whole time and through the obstacles, and surprisingly I even had to tell him to slow it down a bit.

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

Clearly I'm having fun above, having just completed the rolling mud hills and completely soaking the lower half of my body. Spartans and BEING DIRTY is the MOST FUN!

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

The race course was laid out in a very cool way. It was set out at the Thomas Pence Ranch in Payette, Idaho, and while the first quarter mile of the course is on flat, low ground, shortly after the start you head up two significant hills and find yourself overlooking the entire Treasure Valley. Now that was cool! Most of the obstacles, minus the obstacle gauntlet along the last half mile of the course, were up on this huge plateau. It was scenic, serene, and so peaceful. Also, not trying to race for my life against other Elite athletes and just taking my time made a huge difference.

This course was very different than other Spartans I have been to. There were not many grip obstacles at all, and I was a little sad to not encounter Beater, the Stairway to Sparta (the new, hard one with the climbing pegs), Twister, Olympus, or some of the other ones that have the potential of either wrecking your hands or making you pay with 30 burpees if you can't complete them. To me, this course seemed significantly easier than both the Seattle Super and Montana Beast. But I guess that's what we get with a Sprint!

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

Not even an hour after we started, Daniel and I were jumping over the fire and crossing the finish. We had done it... together!

I loved this race for so many reasons, but mainly because it was the first time that I got to share something I absolutely LOVE (running & racing) with the person I love most! It was so fun walking him through the obstacles since he had never done any of them before, hearing him cheer for me as I followed behind him, and it was even fun doing burpees together after we both missed the spear throw. Truly, this race made me so happy and finally checked a bucket-list goal box that I've had to run a race with my husband ever since we met! Now I just need to convince him to do more! :)

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

The entire experience in Boise was wonderful. We saw so many friends, colleagues, and people we knew. And doing a Spartan in my home state in my home town was so fun--finally!

Boise Spartan Sprint Race

Earning my Trifecta this year has been a huge accomplishment. I display my Trifecta medal on my desk at work and it receives comments often. I cannot wait to try for more in the future (again, probably not competitively, just for fun). And the journey goes on...

My Trifecta Posts: Seattle SuperMontana Beast │ Boise Sprint

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Montana SPARTAN Beast Race

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

In early May, I completed the second wedge in my Spartan Trifecta with the Montana Beast! This race came just a few weeks after completing my first Spartan race, the Super in Seattle, in April. My love for running along with a newfound addiction for obstacle training has me pinging for more Spartan races in the future. They sure are expensive races, but I love that you get to travel to new places to run them since they can be found almost every weekend all over the world. This was only my second time to Montana, and the venue did not disappoint!

Before I get too far into the race recap, I want to discuss something different about this race that made it way more special for me that just going out and running a race. Just a few weeks before the Montana Beast, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. It was a terrifying diagnosis and one that came totally out of the blue. To say that my life turned upside down was an understatement. All you think about when you hear "Stage IV" is death, and to think of losing my mom would be the saddest, most life-changing event ever. To those who have lost moms--you are truly inspirational and the support from some of you throughout this journey has been invaluable. Without diverting too much into my mom's cancer story, if you'd like to read about her journey or want to see what updates are currently happening, here's a link to her CaringBridge page where we post regularly with the ups and downs of her cancer treatment. So far, my mom has been kicking cancer's A$$ and has been nothing but positive, hopeful, and a WARRIOR. 

Going into this race, it had already been planned and paid for before finding out about my mom's diagnosis. She insisted I go run, and if anything, she wanted me to go have a super-strong race for her. So I decided that I would run the race "for Mom," which explains the hashtags you'll see Sharpie'd onto my body during the race. We hadn't shared her cancer news with anyone at that point, but if we had I'd totally have tattooed "F*CK CANCER!" on any visible portion of skin that could have been seen :-).

As it worked out, my mom's first emergency surgery to remove as much of her cancer as possible was scheduled for the same day of the race. She still urged me to go and run for her, so I listened to her and gutted it out as best as I could. At any moment during the race when I was struggling, failed an obstacle or was having a down-and-out moment while being mentally or physically fatigued, I kept reminding myself I was "running for Mom" and I'd keep on chugging to finish the race.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

This race was a fun one to travel to because I knew several other folks who were running it, and they invited me to join them. One of my troops offered me a ride and to be able to share her hotel room, so that saved on costs and turned into a really fun trip for the both of us.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

We got into Big Fork, Montana Friday evening and went right over to the Open House so we could explore the obstacles and check out the course. Below is a shot of our whole motley crew.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

Saturday morning, I wasn't too nervous. I didn't know what to expect (except for hills), and I just knew I had 13-miles of rugged terrain ahead of me that needed to be conquered. At 7:45 am, the elite heat was off and running. No turning back now... I was running for Mom and I was ready!

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

Man, those elite racers are so fast. They took of like lightning bolts and soon I was alone and running along toward the middle-back of the elite heat. Heading up a hill during mile 2, I somehow lost track of where I was going and ended up taking a side road instead of following the arrows up another steep hill in the forest. I got totally turned around and by the time I found someone again, it was over a mile back and on part of the course I had already ran before. I ended up losing 1.5-miles of distance and in the end of the race, ran 14.6 miles instead of 13 like everyone else. That was so frustrating to me because I knew immediately that I was about 25-minutes slower than what my time would have been. While I didn't anticipate placing or anything like that, it was still frustrating to set myself back so early on in the race. Oh well, I had to keep going!

The course layout in Montana was rough. It was hill after hill after hill with a 3500 foot elevation gain. I would get to the top of a hill and face another hill. it's like they never stopped! The obstacles were almost always at the tops of the hills, so that added a fun challenge to the event. As you may recall, in Seattle I had to do 180 burpees and 2 penalty laps for failing eight (8!!) obstacles. In Montana, I only failed three (Twister, monkey bars (they were right after the dunk wall, ugh!), and Spearman). To only have to complete 90 burpees was a huge relief--maybe one of these days I'll have a clean race!

The photo below was halfway through Beater (a monkey bar system with rotating kitchen-beater-like bars). I was elated when I made it through Beater and other obstacles that I had previously failed in Seattle (like Z Wall, Olympus, and Multi-rig). Being able to ring the bell on those obstacles after having to burpee out of them in Seattle was the BEST feeling.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

The race was long--it took me 4 hours and 4 minutes to complete. Had I not have gotten lost and been a little bit demotivated from that, I would have been closer to 3 hours, 35 minutes. Oh well, lesson learned... pay attention to the dang arrows! Spartan courses are challenging because there's not a trail marked out for you--you're simply running through (in this case) a forest and paving your own path as you go. Needless to say, my legs got destroyed while running through the downed trees and stray branches, and when I fell on a rock and cut my leg and slit my hand open during the "ball shrinker" water obstacle, it made it even that much more challenging. I literally ran through the race with blood streaking down my shin and a broken, open-wounded hand for over half the obstacles... sorry about that guys!

I also experienced something crazy during this event that I'd never had happen before--cramping! Oh my goodness, through all of my dozens of half and full marathons, I have never, ever cramped before. Right after the dunk wall in Montana and going into the monkey bars, my legs started to seize up. It was every part of my legs between my knees and hips. I couldn't move them--it was terrible! I tried doing the monkey bars, but I was so drenched and couldn't get a grip on the bars and my legs were cramping up so bad I couldn't move them, so burpees was the way to go. Unfortunately, my legs continued seizing during burpees, making them take absolutely forever, and then heading into the hill after burpees I was stopped to the point of having to sit and massage my legs until they would start working again. I had taken two Gu packs during the race and stopped for water at every aid station, but the cramps just wouldn't subside. A friendly gentleman offered me a Gu pack as he passed and he truly saved the day... my legs stopped cramping about 5-min later and I was able to carry on to the last three miles of the course.

As I came through the multi-rig a mile later, one of the volunteers yelled, "Don't you dare drop! You're doing this for you mom! You got this girl!!" She lit a new fire inside me that wasn't going out anytime soon!

When I got closer to the finish, I couldn't have been more happy. I was still frustrated at my time and that I'd gotten lost at the beginning, but so happy that I'd finished with less than half the burpees than I did in Seattle. I new my mom would be proud, no matter how long this stinkin' race took me. She knew I did it for her, and that was all that mattered.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

To know that I completed this Mountain Series event as the second wedge in my Trifecta is a huge accomplishment. I hated being away from my mom during her surgery, but she wanted me to gut it out for her so you can bet I gave it my all.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer
Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

The weekend with friends, laughs, and memories was so fun. All nine of us had good races, and spending time together during the event and afterward at dinner was priceless. To travel to Montana with friends and colleagues and enjoy and entire weekend dedicated to exploration and racing is truly my favorite thing.

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

Cheesin' hard for the cameras with our Fitaids and medals. For my colleague on the right, it was her first Spartan EVER... I was so proud of her! My friend and colleague in the middle of us is the guy who coaches me for Spartan racing. He's the best athlete I know!

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

With the second wedge in my Trifecta complete, next up is the Boise Spartan Sprint in the end of June. That race day recap will be coming soon!

Montana Spartan Beast Race, Spartan Elite Racer

I hope one day my mom will be able to get out and run with me again. I'd love for her to be able to do a Spartan with me and we can hashtag our bodies up with #Survivor! after she finishes kicking cancer's a$$!!!!!

Spartan Race Posts: Seattle SuperMontana Beast

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Race to Robie Creek 2019 Defender Team Ruck

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

Back in April, a team of nine of our Security Forces Defenders got together to hike the Race to Robie Creek Half Marathon here in Boise, Idaho. I hiked it last year with a fellow cop as a ruck, and this year I motivated (read: suckered) eight more to join me for the fun.

One of our Master Sergeants designed and ordered team shirts for us (thank you!). They were awesome! We all decided to go with wearing either our duty flak vest or a ruck for this event. Our rucks last year were pretty darn heavy so we didn't want to set ourselves up for that kind of pain again this year--we wanted to have FUN! I also didn't want to put any any crazy time or pressure expectations on us--we just wanted to get together for a hike and enjoy some time outside of work together.

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

The weather was almost perfect that day. It was sunny and warm at the start, and we knew we'd be gaining over 2000 feet of elevation so we were prepped for cooler, possibly rainy temps at the top (spoiler alert: it hailed and was crazy).

I saw one of my gung-ho running friends at the start. She and I have been running races together for years. She's fast as lighting these days--I can't keep up with her anymore!

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

At high noon, we started off up the hill. The first 8.5 miles of the course is solid uphill, and I have to be honest... if you're just hiking it and not carrying a 40-lb ruck like we did last year AND if you're not running it, it's really not so bad. After having a terrible experience running it several years ago and then gutting it out on the ruck last year, the standard weighted hike really was quite enjoyable. Our guys all did great and we mostly just kept a quick walking/hiking pace for the duration of the uphill portion.

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

We all stayed together the whole time. Team RWB Boise loaned us their flag, and we switched off who carried it each mile. I felt like that really brought us together and made it feel like a team effort.

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

These two girls below, V & L. They were CHAMPIONS. They set our pace the entire time and had they not been slowed down by the rest of us, they'd have dominated Robie with or without their vests on. What MOTIVATORS!

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

I literally love my job SO MUCH and to have the opportunity to combine my love of running and hiking together with my Security Forces colleagues was absolutely such a fun way to spend the day.

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

In the picture below, we're about to crest the top of the 8.5-mile uphill, the Temptation Station, and begin our descent downwards. I'm so proud of this group of people!

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

Coming over the top of the hill and heading down into the descent, we traveled up the foothills into the mountains and forest. It was like the weather totally changed on the backside. There was snow on the ground, it got cold, and we knew a storm was starting to roll in.

The downhill portion, as we all agreed, was much harder than the uphill. It's pretty steep, so walking is almost uncomfortable on your hips and knees--it's like you HAVE to jog. We all took an easy shuffle/jog to get down the hill in an attempt to beat 4 hours on the clock. Last year, my colleague and I finished in 4 hours, 40 minutes. I thought it would be pretty darn cool to come in under 4 hours!

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

As we crossed the line together, whooping with joy that it was over and a huge sense of pride for accomplishing the ruck together, we didn't even care about the time--we were just happy to be done! We ended up finishing the race in 4:06. Absolutely killer!

It was a lot of fun and it was something totally out of the comfort zone of most of the guys who did it. We feel like it brought us together, was something pretty badass that we could all say we did, and it was a heck-of-a-fun way to spend our Saturday afternoon.

The after party was great. We sipped on some cold brews and ate some food before getting absolutely hailed and stormed out. We all sheltered under a picnic area with about 60 other runners and attempted to wait the storm out. 45-long minutes later, it abated and by then we were freezing cold and wet! It wasn't the most fun way to end the day, but we laughed about it the entire bus ride home.

Race to Robie Creek, Robie Creek Half Marathon, Security Forces Ruck Race

I'm very grateful for this team of guys & gals who gutted it out with me on the Robie Creek hill. They're a big bunch of warriors, and it was so cool to be able to capture this experience with all nine of us there, pushing out those 13 miles with Old Glory together. I'm looking forward to hopefully doubling our numbers and coming back again to hike it all over again next year!

AddThis