Monday, July 27, 2015

Wyoming Road Trip

Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins

This last week, Daniel and I packed up the car and headed somewhere I've never been—Cheyenne, Wyoming. While Cheyenne might not seem like a typical "destination" trip, it was sure a vacation for us! Daniel lived in Cheyenne for several years and had long-awaited showing me his hometown and introducing me to his childhood friends.

We left Wednesday morning and drove the 10 ½ hours across Idaho, Utah and Wyoming to reach our destination. Our first stop was the gym at F.E. Warren Air Force Base—after that many hours of driving, our legs were in need of a good workout. We then headed to meet some of Daniel's friends—all of whom were amazing and so friendly—before heading off to Cheyenne Frontier Days and none other than Aerosmith! We had great seats and totally jammed out—my favorite songs were "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and "Sweet Emotion." It was definitely an experience, that's for sure!

The next day, we enjoyed huge meals at the Tortilla Factory, which is renowned for their Mexican chorizo & eggs breakfast. We decided that it would also be fun to venture down to Fort Collins, Colorado, so we jumped in the car and made the short drive across the border. We walked around Old Town Fort Collins, stopped in at all the boutiques, sampled fudge, ate Walrus Ice CreamBEST ICE CREAM EVER!—and sipped a cocktail at Social. My only Fort Collins regret was not picking up a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with peanut butter icing from Mary's Mountain Cookies. BIG. MISTAKE. I tell you.

After returning back to the house Thursday evening, we grabbed a couple of bikes and toured around downtown Cheyenne as the sun was setting. The town felt like a ghost town—it was totally empty, probably due to everyone being at Frontier Days—but it was so unlike Boise! After biking for a while and realizing our extreme hunger, we ended up at the Rib & Chop House, which was probably my favorite place to eat on our entire trip. I enjoyed a HUGE pulled pork stuffed potato and a cup of gumbo as well as a mountain of a brownie sundae.

Friday, our last day, was filled with some much-needed relaxation. We again went to the Tortilla Factory for breakfast, stopped by Eileen's Colossal Cookies—which totally made up for not going to Mary's Mountain Cookies—because these ones were SO GOOD. I picked a frosted sugar cookie but also tried the oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and scotchies. I also learned how to ride a scooter (while Daniel schooled me on a Yamaha), and again visited the Chop House for a killer dinner. This time I got a bowl of gumbo (because a cup just wouldn't cut it!) and the hot apple cobbler à la mode for dessert. Again... best meal. Our trip wouldn't be complete without another trip to Frontier Days to wander through the carnival, munch on a funnel cake (you bet I did!), and do a decent amount of people watching.

Looking back, I didn't take many photos. I've been trying to "unplug" a little more lately and traveling without my camera or phone on me all the time is clearly having drawbacks! The benefit, however, is I'm able to live a lot more "in the moment," and I see no negatives in that at all. Check out the sparse assortment of the photos I took of our roadtrip below.

Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Aerosmith Concert
Watching Aerosmith jam out! There were over 18,000 people in the crowd.
Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins, Walrus Ice Cream
Daniel claims Walrus is the best ice cream EVER. I had cake batter with cookie dough & brownie mix-ins and cannot argue with him! In fact, I won't even debate it. It was amazing!
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Eileen's Colossal Cookies
A Cheyenne treat—a frosted sugar cookie from Eileen's Colossal Cookies. It was colossal. It was amazing. I want like 10 more.
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Scooter Rides
Puttering around one of Cheyenne's neighborhoods while learning to ride scooters & bikes. We didn't go far but sure had fun!

While we didn't make it to every place we wanted to go (hiking Vedauwoo, Denver, and Estes Park will have to wait for the next time), we did manage to fit a good amount of Cheyenne into our short trip.

What I enjoyed most—in addition to the buffet of Cheyenne eateries, the beautiful sights and the hometown feel—was the people. Daniel has some of the kindest, nicest friends. They absolutely lavished us with generosity, their time, and their hospitality. I am so grateful to have finally met them and cannot wait to plan a return trip. And hey, if I happen to sneak in a scotchie from Eileen's and a cone of Walrus along the way, that just makes it all the merrier.

Thanks for a great trip, Cheyenne. It won't be the last time we see each other.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon

This past Saturday was a new experience for me—my very first downhill race—the Freakin' Fast Half Marathon! Not only was it a downhill run, it was also my third competitive half marathon. It was another race that I was blessed to be able to run with my mom and we both had a great time!

The nationally certified course began at the base of the Bogus Basin Ski slopes and dropped more than 3,000 feet over the 13.1 miles down to the bottom of the hill—which is why it's so "freakin' fast!" I started out quick—my first mile coming in at 5:45—and just kept cruising from there. I went a little bit up and down with my times, hitting a sub-5:00/mile on the steepest portion and coming in around 6:30/mile on the two miles with a little bit of an uphill incline.

I wasn't too concerned with my pace, however, because I just wanted to finish injury-free! I'm still in the beginning weeks of training for the Air Force Half Marathon in September, so I didn't consider myself "prepped" for this race, though I knew I'd be able to complete it without a problem. I just didn't want to over-do it and hurt/strain/injure something! Thankfully, besides for my feet feeling hot, I didn't experience any physical problems during the race. My mantra the whole time was, "Down-Hill Ba-by!" which I said every four steps when I was feeling tired, and it definitely helped me stretch it out and speed it up!

Over the span of the course, I went back and forth with another lady several times before taking the lead around mile 9. Once I crested the uphill portion during mile 11, I kicked it into high gear from there and literally sprinted into the finish, crossing in a time that even I couldn't have expected! I finished as the First Place Overall Female with a time of 1:17:23, averaging a pace of 5:54/mile. I was also the 6th overall finisher out of 361 total participants.

My mom did awesome as well. She finished in 1:45 and had a great race. As soon as I crossed the line and chugged some Gatorade, I jogged back up the hill to meet her and we finished together as we always do. And if you'll notice our cute matching outfits in the photos below—they were sponsored by Gordmans and we absolutely adore them!

See more photos of our race below!

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
A shot of the crowd at the top of the hill. It was 6:30 am—we were chilly and ready to run!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
Cheesin' it while waiting for the start.
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon
"Workin' it" & cruising into the finish line with a thumbs up. I was stoked to finish in 1:17!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Gordman's Athletic Wear
Our awesome shirts, part of our running outfit which was sponsored by Gordmans—my new favorite place for affordable—and cute—workout gear! Aren't the finisher medals fun?
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
Coming up to the finish line with my mom. She's a rockstar!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
We did it! We were both glad to have the race over with. We can't decide which we like better (or should I say least?)—killer uphill runs or dreadful downhill runs. We've decided flat races are our favorite!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together, Final Kick Events
Celebrating being "Freakin' Fast" with Christie, the super-cute organizer of the race & owner of Final Kick Events.

If you'd had asked me prior to the race what my goal was, I'd have said it was to 1) either beat my PR (maybe try for 1:25?) or 2) just finish without any injuries. I did both! As I was watching the miles fly by, I was estimating my finish time and couldn't believe I was on pace to finish sub 1:20. In fact, I achieved a new personal record by taking almost 9-minutes off my prior best time, which I ran at the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon in May, and have taken a total of 16-minutes off my time since the Volition Half Marathon in March. Granted, I know it was a downhill race—hey, the course is certified, after all!—but I was still so jazzed to run that time!

This race was so encouraging for me. Not only did I do well, but I got to run with my rockstar mom and also had an amazing post-race experience. As I normally do, I prayed throughout the duration of the run (running is my favorite time to pray!), and after I finished and began my trek back up the hill, I was listening to Hillsong's "Oceans" and was completely overcome with emotion. I felt strength, excitement, joy, gratitude, and humility—knowing that I did not run that time by myself. I was protected, that's for sure. God is so good!

What a great freakin' race!

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Fitness Instagram @auniefit │ Garmin Connect

Monday, June 29, 2015

Air Force Half Marathon MAJCOM Challenge Team

Air Force Half Marathon, Air Force MAJCOM Challenge, Idaho Air National Guard Runner

Today begins a new 12-week training program (which is really just a repeat of the last one I did) but in prep for a new race—the Air Force Half Marathon in September! This is the first time I will have traveled to run competitively, so I'm excited at the prospect of trying something new.

There was a big Air Force-wide email that went out earlier this year calling for applications for the MAJCOM Challenge, which is a competition between the different branches of the Air Force where a team of full and half marathon runners is created to try to get the lowest combined time. There are four full marathoners (3 men and 1 woman) and six half marathoners (4 men and 2 women) per team.

I submitted an application for the Air National Guard Half Marathon Team, and out of over 90 nation-wide applicants, I was chosen! We had to submit a time from a recent race within the last year (I used the results from the Volition America Half Marathon—of which my time is now faster, too!) and the teams were chosen based on the fastest times. I feel incredibly honored that my time was one of the select few to be picked. It's my goal to represent the Air National Guard and the State of Idaho to the best of my ability!

While I recently completed the Hal Higdon Intermediate Half Marathon Training Program in preparation for the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, this time I'll be switching to Hal's Advanced Half Marathon Training Program, combined with Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide 2.0 for a running and strength power-training program.

I'm following the same schedule as I posted about here, by following Hal's Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday run days and Kayla's Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday strength days. I find that it's very difficult for me to run the recommended six-days per week as Hal's program calls for, and that I get too tired and too burnt out by running that much. Using a combo of both programs keeps me fast on the run days and keeps my strength up by incorporating a weight-lifting and bodyweight training program.

Anyway—that's my current fitness & running update! I'm so excited and honored to go run my heart out for the Air Force, the Air National Guard, and as a representative for the State of Idaho in September. What a fun event that will be to be a part of. There is no greater joy for me right now than to run for my health & for our country, and all with these legs God has given me to do it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sawtooth Relay 2015

Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners

This past weekend, I joined the ladies of "Hit the Ground Runnin'" as we relayed 62-miles across the Idaho mountains at the Sawtooth Relay. Oh man, we had a good time. The weather was perfect, we had a great start time of 5:45 am, the teams around us were a blast-and-a-half, and it was just an overall kick-in-the-pants good time. I had last ran Sawtooth in 2013 (I missed last year due to being away at Basic Training) and was excited to be back for another year.

We all met on Friday afternoon and loaded up the "Beast" (a.k.a. our rental van) before trekking up the mountain. We arrived at the cabin in Stanley around 7:00 pm and enjoyed a dinner of chicken, pasta and kale salad—a perfect pre-race carb-loading meal. While we were lucky to get a good start time of 5:45 am (teams start as early as 1:00 am), we still wanted to call it an early night and turned in around 10:00 pm.

The alarms began going off the next morning at 4:00 am and we were loading up the van and heading to the start line by 5:00. My mom started our team off with the first leg and each of our runners did awesome. We stopped and cheered them on every couple miles and enjoyed the camaraderie with the other teams—especially "Stay Classic" and "Team Spirit's" mariachi band!

I ticked away the racers, legs and hours until I was up to run the 6th leg—the dreaded Galena Summit. When I had last run Sawtooth, I had legs 2 and 8 and jokingly said, "I'll take Galena next time!" ... Little did I know they'd take me up on the offer! Since I hadn't trained hills at all due to training super-hard for my most recent half marathon, I was a little nervous about tackling the uphill leg, but it ended up being OK! The first mile of my 5.35-mile leg was a little too fast, and I slowed down a little between miles 2-3. However, as soon as I turned the corner of the Galena Summit overlook and could see the huge mountain I had just climbed, the feeling was so empowering and I was able to pick up speed for my last couple miles. I ended up averaging about 8:22/mile, which is not my normal race pace, but gosh dangit it was all uphill and I was excited about that time!

The heat set in as my mom headed down the mountain and everyone began picking up the pace to bring us to the home stretch. We started dancing more, cheered on everyone passed, and had such a blast. I ran the last 2.64-mile leg into the finish line chute, coming in with a pace of 6:10/mile, and we all crossed together with a final time of 9 hours, 25 minutes and 54 seconds. WE HAD DONE IT!

We celebrated with the after-party feast and basked in the sun—stoked that it was over. After lots of story-telling and laughs, it was the end to a perfect day. And yes, it was only like 8:30 pm, but after being up for that long and running through the hot sun, all you need is a shower and it's lights out after that for us. We're such troopers, I tell you what.

See some of the photos of the race below!

Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
The team, minus one, decorating the van before heading up the mountain.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Our signature "Hit the Ground Runnin'" team pose.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Checking in at 5:15 am and getting ready to begin. My mom was all done up in her neon for her first leg start.
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Prepping for the hand-off! Here comes Jess!
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
And I'm off! Heading up the mountain and jammin' out to my electronic dance music.
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cruising up Galena Summit. I felt strong! My chant this race was, "One Foot! One Foot!", which was the shortened version of "one foot in front of the other" in order to keep me going... though after all was said and done, I'd definitely run that leg again—it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the teams around us were so supportive, cheering me on the whole way!
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Galena Summit Scenic Overlook, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cresting the top and passing the Galena Summit scenic overlook. This was where I started to pick up the pace!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Handing off to my mom. She had the downhill 7th leg. Everyone thinks the summit is the hard leg—I disagree! My mom took one for the team by doing this leg.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cheering on my mom and she took off—she averaged 7:35/miles going down the hill. What a rockstar!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Coming down the finish line chute. We were there!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Team Hit the Ground Runnin'... I love my team!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Sitting proudly next to our "kills" before breakfast the next morning. We passed 57 teams during our race!

Sawtooth this year was an absolute blast. It's so fun going up to the mountains for a weekend with the ladies and joining so many people who love to run! We always come home with the best stories and memories that last a lifetime. If you ever have a chance to gather a team together and run this race, don't miss it! See you next time, Sawtooth!

Monday, June 8, 2015

AF PT Test 2015

Air Force PT Test, PT Test, 1.5 mile run test, Air National Guard PT Test, Air Force Physical Fitness Test
One of these is not like the others...

It's hard to believe it's been an entire year since I graduated BMT. On the anniversary of my graduation date, I took my first annual Physical Fitness Test and—since this blog seems to be all about fitness lately—I thought I'd share a quick post with my results.

AT BMT, my 1.5-mile run time was 8:47, and I completed 54 push-ups and 68 sit-ups in the minute allotted to us. This year, I lowered my time by 10-seconds, finishing in 8:37, and was able to achieve 50 push-ups and 64 sit-ups.

Air Force PT Test, PT Test, 1.5 mile run test, Air National Guard PT Test, Air Force Physical Fitness Test

So what does that all mean? It means I passed—hooray! I've been so focused on decreasing my half marathon mile pace with my speed training workouts that I haven't been paying too much attention to getting in my daily push-ups and sit-ups like I did at BMT. When you're at BMT, doing push-ups and sit-ups on a daily basis, in fact—MULTIPLE times per day—is a given. At home, it's a little different. Plus, I've been working hard at increasing total-body strength and fitness, so as long as my numbers are still in that passing PT test range, I'm super happy.

People often ask how I train for my runs & PT test, and my suggestion is to find a training program online (a free one if you can!) and make a plan of attack. For instance, you could pick a 5K training plan, which will totally set you up for a successful 1.5-mile time, and begin training however many weeks out the plan specifies. My suggestion is to make a plan and, here's the most important part—STICK WITH IT! If you're interested in checking out my current personal running and strength training program, you can read it here.

One year down... only 19 more to go!

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Fitness Instagram @auniefit │ Garmin Connect