Monday, April 13, 2015

Palm Desert 2015 Trip

Palm Desert California, Desert Falls Country Club, Aunie Sauce Travels

During the first week of April, Daniel and I packed our things and headed south for a road trip to Palm Desert, California. It's hard to believe it had been two years since we'd been there! I was attending Air Force Basic Training last year during our normal PD trip timeline, so we had to skip a year. Bummer! Thankfully, this trip made the wait well worth it.

We, as we always do, spent out trip being super-active and enjoyed each day by fitting as much in as we possibly could. On our past trips, we've done several hikes like Joshua Tree National Park, Indian Canyon, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the Living Desert and The Valley of Fire. Wanting to take in as much as we could, this year we tried new hikes and visited places we'd never been before.

Our first hiking spot was the Coachella Valley Preserve, where we hiked three hours on the Pushwalla Canyon Trail one day and then three more hours on the Moon Canyon Trail the next day. Both hikes were incredibly scenic (and so vastly different!) and we found lots of wildlife on the way. We caught—and released, of course—several chuckwallas, a desert iguana and even a sidewinder rattlesnake! I'd never seen a rattlesnake in person before, so to have Daniel catch it right in front of me was quite a thrill. And don't worry—we were safe! Daniel has been catching reptiles since he was a kid.

In addition to the Coachella Valley Preserve hikes, we also did a two-hour night hike in Joshua Tree National Park (with flashlights! It was so cool!) looking for fun night-time creatures. All we found were black widow spiders... not the thrill we were hoping for, though the hike was wonderful. We also ventured to Whitewater Preserve where we hiked four hours on the Painted Canyon Trail—which ended at a "hidden" waterfall! That one was really neat and very unlike anything else we'd seen on our Palm Springs hikes.

Of course we didn't spend our entire trip hiking. We also got up early to go to the gym each day, spent lots of time with my Dad and his wife, ate lots of delicious food (Armando's is our favorite!) and even managed to get in a round of 18-holes at Desert Falls Country Club.

See more photos from the trip below.

Palm Desert California, Red Diamond Rattlesnake
We spotted a red diamond rattlesnake on Highway 247 going into Palm Springs. We pulled him off the road to save him from being hit by a semi. What a neat snake he was!
Palm Desert California, Pushwalla Canyon Hike at the Coachella Valley Preserve
The gorgeous view of the valley on the Pushwalla Canyon Trail at the Coachella Valley Preserve.
Palm Desert California, Pushwalla Canyon Hike at the Coachella Valley Preserve
We found a chuckwalla on the ridge of the Pushwalla Canyon Trail at the Coachella Valley Preserve.
Palm Desert California, Moon Canyon Hike at the Coachella Valley Preserve, Sidewinder Snake
One of our more thrilling finds, a sidewinder rattlesnake, which we stumbled upon during our Moon Canyon Hike at the Coachella Valley Preserve. Daniel is fearless, I tell you!
Palm Desert California, Sidewinder Snake at  Pushwalla Canyon Hike at the Coachella Valley Preserve
My favorite shot of the sidewinder rattlesnake. He was small but aggressive!
Palm Desert California, Desert Falls Country Club, Aunie Sauce Travels
Playing a round of best ball golf with my dad and his wife. They are the most generous people and we wish we could get down to PD to visit them more!
Idyllwild California, Aunie Sauce Travels
We took a day-trip up to Idyllwild, California. What a neat little mountain town. We ate lunch at the Gastrognome and it was delicious!
Palm Desert California, Whitewater Canyon Painted Trail Hike at Whitewater Preserve, Aunie Sauce Travels
We passed a giant flowering yucca on our hike up the Painted Canyon trail at the Whitewater Preserve. That hike was so beautiful and scenic.
Palm Springs California, Whitewater Canyon Painted Trail Hike, Aunie Sauce Travels
Climbing the small "hidden" waterfall at the Painted Canyon trail at the Whitewater Preserve. That four-hour hike was my favorite of the trip.

Our vacations to Palm Desert, though usually a week long, never feel long enough. I love the hikes on those trips—it's so good to be active and enjoy the outdoors—but I love catching up with my dad and his wife most of all. Now that they spend half the year down there, we don't get to see them as often so it's truly nice to be able to vacation to such a beautiful place and spend time with such great people.

A video diary of our Palm Desert trip is to come. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Volition America Half Marathon

Volition America Half Marathon, Boise Idaho Half Marathon, Military Runner Boise Idaho

This past Saturday, March 21, I finished my very first competitive half marathon! It was the Volition America Half Marathon & 5K Series that is touring the United States. They kicked off their inaugural race in our hometown of Boise—what an honor for us!

Going into the race, my goal had been to run a 1:35 (I've run several half marathons before, but this was my first "competitive" half). I ended up having a better race than expected and set a new personal record for myself with a 1:33:09! I was so excited. My fastest half prior to that was a 1:48 in 2009, so I was stoked to test my legs and see what they could do! My splits averaged 7:08/mile, though the breakdown was much more varied. My fastest mile was a 6:28 (mile 1) and my slowest was a 7:37 (mile 10). But I finished strong with a 6:49 on mile 13.

I ended up finishing 12th overall, 4th overall female, 1st overall military member, and 1st in my age group (25-29). I was very happy with those placings and my time.

The race was harder than I expected—I'm used to running those splits for 10k training runs but hadn't truly trained for more than an hour at a time for this race, so after mile 8, it was pretty painful. I think with a dedicated training plan I could significantly improve this time! We'll see what the future holds for half marathon races.

See more photos of the race below!

Volition America Half Marathon, Boise Idaho Half Marathon, Military Runner Boise IdahoStarting out strong!
Feeling great and waving to the volunteers around mile 6.
Running along the greenbelt at mile 6—check out my neon 124th Fighter Wing Squadron PT Shirt!
Having a "Why am I doing this moment?" from miles 8-10. The man behind me is a colleague out at the Air National Guard. It was awesome seeing so many Air Guard members at this event! 
Volition America Half Marathon, Boise Idaho Half Marathon, Military Runner Boise Idaho
I was so excited to finish with a new PR of 1:33:09!
Volition America Half Marathon, Boise Idaho Half Marathon, Military Runner Boise Idaho
Totally experiencing a runner's high!
I'm a lucky wife! His encouragement was what kept me feeling strong and motivated!

I was so grateful that Daniel came out to support me during this race. He drove the course and was on the sidelines about every 3-4 miles. The only thing I looked forward to more than each new mile marker was his smiling, loving face! I mean, when you have a handsome man cheering you on and saying, "Finish strong, sweetie! You're doing so well!" how do you NOT go all out and finish strong? His support made all the difference!

I have several more races planned for this year at varying distances. Can't wait to see what else 2015 holds and where my feet will run me to next!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

All About That Pace, 'Bout That Pace

Aunie Sauce fitness update, Air Force 1.5 mile run, BMT Fastest Female, BMT Top PT

If you've been following my fitness journey since the beginning, you know I'm a runner—it's that spark that fuels my fire! If you've been following me since I joined the Air Force, you've seen some big fitness changes happen—and some big goals get set (and achieved!). The Air Force has seriously re-ignited my love for running.

When I joined the Air National Guard in November of 2013, my 1.5-mile time was a 10:53—which I determined by jogging circles around my neighborhood on a snowy day, just to see my starting point. I made it my goal to achieve Warhawk (the highest PT standard) at BMT and earn the title of Top PT (given to one male and one female in each graduating class). In June of 2014 when I graduated Air Force Basic Training, I ran an 8:47, BMT's 5th fastest female run time in history, awarding me those coveted titles of "Warhawk" and "Top PT Female." I had done it!

Fast forward to almost a year later (how did that happen so fast?), and I'm now back to my civilian job at the hospital and working at the Idaho Air Guard one weekend per month. My annual PT test is coming up in June, so I'm beginning to train for it. This morning, I decided on a whim to put myself through the Air Force PT Test of a 1.5-mile run, 1-minute of push-ups and 1-minute of sit-ups. While my push-ups and sit-ups need some work (47 and 58, respectively), I finished my 1.5-mile run in 8:33. Eight thirty-three! When I graduated BMT, I thought I'd never beat that run time, but here we are, almost a year later, and I'm feeling like I'm in the best shape of my life. It feels darn good!

In addition to training for my PT test, I'm also focusing on speed and distance work and learning how to run fast for longer distances—like more than 6-miles. I'm trying to figure out which distance I like best—5K's, 10K's (I've never competed at this distance but run it for practice often), half marathons, and full marathons. Full disclosure? I don't have any desire to do another full marathon anytime soon. Yuck. But the other distances are open for discussion. I have one half marathon coming up next week, in which I'll try to PR (my best is a 1:48—I know I can beat it), the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon scheduled for May, and the Sawtooth Relay in June.

I know a running update might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's super-exciting for me lately. I'm enjoying challenging myself and pushing my legs to the limit. I'm not sure where they'll take me next, but I can guarantee that wherever they're going, they'll be running there!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Checking In

Airforce C-17 Aircraft, Idaho Air National Guard

It's been a little quiet around here lately—on the blog, anyway. In real life, it's like a daily chaos BOMB. But a good chaos bomb—if there is such a thing. As you may recall, right after I returned home from Air Force tech school, I began a new civilian job as a Wellness Coordinator. While my part-time and one-weekend-a-month duties with the Air Guard are still going well, my full-time job is taking off like a rocket. And it's awesome.

As a Wellness Coordinator for a hospital health system, not only do I manage several programs (like our website, employee and community health education programs, a weight loss challenge, etc), but I am also involved in our big annual healthcare screening process. It has all been so fulfilling and awesome. I'm learning so much and getting to be very creative with my web skills, both managing and designing websites and also blogging often—and actually getting paid for it! The hours have been longer than the standard 40-hour week, but with such rewarding work, it makes all the difference.

Needless to say, when you're working 50+ hour weeks and on the computer all day and then doing Air Guard drills one weekend a month—when I have free time, I ENJOY that free time. Unplugging is my new favorite thing. That being said, this blog has taken a back seat in the process. While I don't expect to be back to blogging on a weekly basis, I will still be checking in with updates. For instance, I got to work my very first deployment line with the Air Guard this last weekend. It was so cool! We got to prepare troops for deployment and not only see how the process worked, but got to be the ones sending the troops off as they departed in the C-17! Finally, putting all that tech school knowledge to work!

Airforce C-17 Aircraft, Idaho Air National Guard

I also recently got a new haircut—woohoo for change! See it here.

Short bob haircut

Despite feeling the rush-rush of the day-to-day, I'm still making time 7-days a week for my workouts (though I do have to several 4:00 am morning starts since my workdays begin so early and I prefer working out in the morning!). I've been spending about half my week in the gym doing high-intensity style workouts and the other half is spent doing shorter 30-60 minute runs outside. I'm not training for anything specific—just trying to stay in good and healthy shape!

In between posts, you can still catch up with me on Instagram. Life is good, y'all. A little overwhelming and stressful at times, but life is good.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Something Greater Than Yourself

Something Greater Than Yourself, What an honor it is to serve in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard

Since joining the Air National Guard in November of 2013, I haven't had a moment of regret. In fact, it's one of the best decisions I could have ever made for myself, my family, and my future.

There's something amazing about the transformation that takes place when you put on the uniform. There's a huge sense of overwhelming pride... of gratitude... of honor. To think about all who came before you and all who have given up so much to defend their country—it's truly something so big that I'm so honored to be a part of.

I feel this way whether I'm in or out of uniform. Now that I'm a military member, I hold myself to a higher standard. I not only show integrity, courtesy, respect, and service during drill weekend, but it's expected of me 24/7. And that's a standard that I am proud to uphold.

When you're a part of something so big, something so much greater than yourself, saying that "it's an honor" just doesn't do it justice. It's real. I have never been so proud to be an American, a member of the Idaho Air National Guard, or a citizen who has the opportunity to serve our country. And getting to do it alongside my husband? That's the icing on the cake.

I am an American Airman. What an honor.

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