Thursday, December 31, 2015

30 Years of Santa Photos

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos

Our family's long-standing Christmas tradition has always been sitting down on the lap of good 'ol Saint Nick, filling him in our wish list items while he squeezes our sides and pats our heads, and going home with a shiny new 5x7 photo to add to my mom's Santa photo album.

See, my mom has this book that makes the rounds on Christmas morning that is filled with our family Santa photos for the last 30 years. THIRTY YEARS! It blew our minds when we realized we had hit that milestone. That's 30-years of coordinated outfits, waiting in ridiculously long lines, and paying for over-priced 5x7's to fill this little book of memories. But the memories—oh the memories. They're worth every penny, every minute, every bad and embarrassing outfit and hair 'do (and hair don't!) that's contained in that book.

Whether we're all together or doing our own thing for the holidays (since my sister now lives out of state), we always make this tradition happen. Sometimes we're in the same shot, other times we have to take our own, and we've even had my brother-in-law hook us up once or twice with a rad photoshop edit because it just wasn't going to get done. Either way, we now have 30 of these little precious memories that we are able to look back on with a smile. My mom tells us each year, "This is my favorite Christmas gift." We think it's ours, too.

I can't give you the collage and not break it down, can I? See the 30 great (and yes, some are definitely awkward) photos below.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1986 - Seattle, WA: My very first Christmas photo. 1987 - Seattle, WA: And then we have a sister.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1988 Seattle, WA: This Santa was one of our favorites. 1989 Seattle, WA: Matching Easter outfits... at Christmas. Cute!

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1990 - Seattle, WA: Matching again. 1991 Seattle, WA: Where's my teddy bear? 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1992 Seattle, WA: This one might be my favorite of all. And there's my teddy bear! 1993 Spokane, WA: And little Stew-man was born. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1994 Spokane, WA: Matching Norwegian lusekoftse's (sweaters). 1995 Hot Springs, AR: Stew wasn't so happy about Santa that year. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1996 Edmond, OK: Marnie and I in velvet, Stew only happy after mom came in. 1997 Edmond, OK: We loved this Santa... and Stew's pants. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1998 Edmond, OK: Oh, the beginning of a really couple awkward years for me. 1999 Edmond, OK: This was the year I discovered tweezers... and braces... and what being a teenager was. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2000 Mason, OH: New city, new grumpy Santa. 2001 Mason, OH: We look really happy to be taking this one. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2002 Eagle, ID: We moved again! We love Idaho. 2003 Eagle, ID: One of our better years. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2004 Eagle, ID: In my senior year of high school—yes! 2005 Eagle, ID: Skater boy brother... what a cutie. Marnie was extra tan after just getting back from a tropical trip. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2006 Eagle, ID: Marnie was cheering for University of Idaho, I was a Boise State Cheerleader. Matching again. 2007 Boise, ID: Both brunettes for the first time! Stew finds a love for ties. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2008 Boise, ID: We had just flown in from Hawai'i. Very tan. 2009 Boise, ID: Marnie and I were in college, Stew was in high school ROTC. All I have to say is that I was about 40 pounds heavier in that photo than I am today. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2010 Boise, ID: We all looked really happy. Good memories. 2010 - Seattle, WA: Marnie and Andy couldn't make it to Boise, but they made sure to still visit Santa! 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2011 Boise (Photoshop): It was a crazy year so my brother-in-law photoshopped a picture of us with Santa. It did the trick! 2012 Boise, ID: This was taken the day before Daniel and I got married. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2013 Boise, ID: Stew's hair was orange because he dressed up as Ron Weasley (from Harry Potter, if you don't know) for a Quidditch something-or-other. 2013 Spokane, WA: Marnie & Andy living it up in Spokane! Separate pics again. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2014 Boise, ID: Stew and I matched on accident! Fun to have mom in the picture again. 2015 Boise, ID: Marnie and I were trying to decide what to wear, but there was a Seahawks game on so we just drove over and took the picture during halftime. Easy as that!

Thirty years. Can you believe it? I love looking back and reflecting at the changes we've made, the life hurdles we've combated, and just where we were at during that time in our lives. This tradition is so, so special to us... and it definitely gets conversation going at a party when we bring the book out.

And here's a close up of our 2015 photo, because Santa's mustache is too on-pointe not to share.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos

Merry late Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 25, 2015


Merry Christmas rustic Christmas card, Rowe Christmas 2015

Love ♥ The Rowe's and our annual holiday card tradition

Past Christmas cards: 2011 │20122013 │ 2014

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our Third Anniversary

Rowe's Third Anniversary

Today marks Year Three of being married to that sweet, handsome man. When I think about the 4 1/2 years I've been with him and how that's longer than any other commitment I've ever made (personal, professional, etc), it's amazing at how fast time passes... and how much you can squeeze into that small amount of time. Every minute is so worth it.

I'm so grateful that not a day goes by without Daniel showing me how much he loves me. I have never second-guessed his love, devotion or faithfulness to me, and that is so important. He truly goes above and beyond to be gentle and kind to me—every. single. day. It's hard to explain just how much that helps me out and keeps me grounded... I'm honestly so, so lucky. But it's not just him and it's not just me—God brought the two of us together for a reason, and we're seeing Him work through us and better each of our lives with every passing day.

Daniel, you help make me a better person. You give me a reason to strive to be better and to just smile. You make my heart so full. You know how a giant bear hug cures all my fears, and puts all my woes to rest. You know my ins and outs and put up with so much. Thank you. I could never thank you or love you enough. You're my man, my best friend, and my everything. I love you. Love, love, love.

Past Anniversary Posts: Year OneYear Two

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Citizen Soldier

Citizen Soldier, St Luke's Health System Honors Veteran's Day and Wellness Coordinator, Idaho Air National Guard, Citizen Soldier, 124 Fighter Wing

I often write about my work with the Air National Guard, but don't often touch on my civilian job—the one that I do full-time. I know I've mentioned it before, but I am a "traditional" guardsman—meaning that I work out on the base just one weekend a month and two training weeks a year (unless I have other training/deployments/etc). The rest of my 40+-hour work-week is spent at the hospital, where I am a Wellness Coordinator. I've worked for the hospital for five years and have had the privilege of working within three different departments... it's been a great growing, learning experience.

I love my job with the hospital because I currently work in the department of Occupational Health and Well-being. Our focus is developing and implementing health-oriented programs to our employee population and the surrounding community. We have a few folks who have the same title as me, but we all have different areas of focus. I specialize in healthy pregnancy, weight loss and maintenance, and web and social media marketing. The work we do is very fulfilling, and it's so encouraging to see the healthy changes people make in their lives as a direct result of the programs and opportunities we offer.

Last week in remembrance of Veteran's Day, I had the honor of being featured by my employer as a veteran and current employee. They showcased a few other retired veterans, and I, being one of several hundred veterans who work for our hospital, was chosen to represent the "active" service member population. Our public relations department came over and snapped a quick shot of me—thank goodness I was wearing my Air Force shirt in honor of the holiday—and took a quick quote. They shared it on their social media sites with the above photo, noting:
"Annelise Rowe, a Wellness Coordinator at St. Luke's, saw the impact joining the Air National Guard had on her husband. So in November 2013, she enlisted as well. Annelise is an Airman First Class with the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field and will soon receive her commission as a Second Lieutenant.
'It's very humbling to think about those who have dedicated their lives to service,' she said about Veterans Day. 'It's a huge honor to be part of that.'"
Honestly, I feel like I get to experience the best of both worlds. Full-time, I have the opportunity to engage with the most amazing employees and Treasure Valley residents on a daily basis. We have a lot of fun doing our job and "sharing the health" with others. And then on the weekends when I get to spend time out at the Air Guard, that's incredible, too. I get to train as a soldier with the hardest working troops out there.

I also love the opportunity for growth. As a civilian, I am allowed the creativity to create and deploy new healthy-minded projects and have the ability to pilot almost anything that I can come up with. A BABY (Best After Baby You) class for expectant moms? Done. A Healthy Living BINGO wellness challenge? Done. It's awesome. And with the Air National Guard, I'm also awarded opportunities, such as being selected for commission, which will happen sometime within the next year. I have been pursuing a commission for the last year, and to finally be selected has been a very rewarding—and time consuming!—accomplishment.

In my Veteran's Day post last week, I mentioned that I love what I do... and to be honest, love seems like an understatement. Sometimes life is crazy, busy, hectic, overwhelming, consuming, fast-paced, and entirely a whirlwind... and sometimes that's when it's the best—like right now. I'll take the crazy-pace any day if it means it's going to be this good. Because really, it's that good.

Grateful—for all the opportunities. Thankful—for all the support. Excited—for what the future holds. And that about sums it up. I'm a citizen soldier... and I love it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

For the Love of the Service

124 Fighter Wing, 124 Beacon, Idaho Air National Guard Runner wins Air Force Half Marathon Military Finisher Award

When you can think back to the big decisions in life and say, "That was the best decision I've ever made!" isn't that a good feeling? Professionally, joining the Idaho Air National Guard was, without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made.

The Guard has helped me feel like I belong to something—something so much greater than myself. I have the ability to serve, volunteer, meet new people, have my voice be heard, strive for excellence, learn new skills, put a purpose behind my passion for fitness and running, and so much more.

Every drill weekend, there's something new that's happening or a big change that's taking place. As this blog is my online diary, these are things that I want to be sharing, but due to the nature of this new line of work, I have to limit what I can put out there. I apologize in advance to any of you who come here hoping for career updates. Times are sensitive right now, and I have to withhold from publishing all the amazing things I'm experiencing (and trust me, there are a lot!). While I'd love to give constant "this is why the Air Guard is the best thing ever" and "this is what we do in the Air Guard" posts, I'm honestly unable to. It's sad, too, because it's interesting, rewarding, exciting, and ever-changing. But I have to—for myself, for my family, for my fellow guardsmen, and for my unit.

I did want to share something quick—the photo above—which is a snapshot from our wing's monthly newsletter and a recent article about my trip to the Air Force Half Marathon. It was a huge honor to be featured in that story, and again, it's just one of the amazing things I'm so blessed to be a part of with my commitment to the Idaho Air National Guard.

This week, we look back on all of those who have gone before us with Veteran's Day. As I remember all who serve, who have dedicated their lives to the mission, and who have died defending it, I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing force. Thank you, Veterans.

Truly, I wish I could update you with more. But for now, stay tuned. I will end by noting that what I do is something I love to do. I may only spend part of my time in the uniform as a "traditional" guardsman, but I am a member of the military all the time. Again, committing to serve my country was the best professional decision I've ever made. And it only gets better from here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Boise State Weekend in Las Vegas

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Boise State traveling fans, Boise State at UNLV game

When your mom gives you a call and says, "I'm treating you to a full expense-paid trip to Las Vegas for the Boise State game... can you go?"—how do you not go? GIRLS' WEEKEND was on.

We flew down to Vegas on Friday morning, giving us a full weekend to take in the sights. I've been to Las Vegas several times for cheerleading events (football cheer & cheer competitions), so it was fun to take my mom back and show her around since she hadn't been for many years.

We stayed at the Excalibur—not my favorite hotel on the strip—but hey, when you get a free trip, you get a free trip! We didn't spend much time in our room or hotel though. Instead—as we're not much for gambling, shopping,or partying—we made it a point to explore and walk around as much as possible!

Our first top on Friday afternoon was Jimmy Buffet's Margartitaville. They have my favorite nachos, so we ordered a big plate and also shared some jambalaya. It was delicious! We also walked all up and down the strip, totally tuckering ourselves out. We had expected we'd get tired from all the walking and people-watching, but we hadn't expected that we'd be fast asleep in our room before 9:00 pm. Oops!

The next morning, we were up early for an hour-long run down the strip. We ended up getting joined by a nice man from Holland. That made it fun! We then bussed out to the Boise State game, joining all the other fans decked out in blue & orange while we cheered on the Broncos. The weather was so nice (and very hot!) and we made some new BSU friends at the game. It was great to watch our team bring home the win!

After we returned from the game, we grabbed a giant caramel apple at Hershey's Chocolate World (so good!) before walking over and enjoying dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was so good, but our server made the experience even better! Afterward, we were walking back to our hotel to avoid the crazy Halloween party-goers when we stumbled upon a dance party outside New York New York. It was great because the DJ was playing upbeat music and there were tons of families there! My mom and I ended up dancing with kids, a giant stuffed bear, and all the other costumed families for over three hours. We hadn't expected to have that much fun! We turned in around the time that the big crowds started coming out around midnight, and it was a nice end to our active day.

Sunday morning, we woke up early and ran from Excalibur all the way down to the Stratosphere and back—that was a long one! We ended up grabbing a Mexican breakfast at La Salsa Cantina to make up for all the calories burned before getting on the plane to go home. Literally, despite eating our way through the strip, I think we lost weight after all the walking and running. Boy, we were tired!

What a fun girls' weekend we had. You just can't beat it!

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Boise State traveling fans, Boise State at UNLV game

I think that the above photo just about sums it up. The only thing it's missing is the video of me dancing with the giant stuffed bear at the dance party. You're lucky I spared you.

Thanks for the fun weekend, Harmon Travel, and of course mom for asking me to be your date!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Back to the Blue

Boise State Alumni, Boise State Blue Turf, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center

This past weekend was Homecoming at Boise State University, and—being a BSU graduate and cheerleading alumnus—I was invited back to The Blue to take part in our annual Spirit Squad gathering with the current and former team members.

We all got together Friday night at the band hall, our old practice stomping grounds, and talked over Hors d'oeuvres while we went back in time looking at all the old cheer and dance team photographs. Man, how time flies! We then took the short walk over to tour the new Bleymaier Football Center, Boise State Football's new training complex, for a room-by-room tour of the $22 million dollar facility. To say that it was grand would be an understatement. Those players are livin' the life in their new digs, and I couldn't be more excited for what a huge recruiting tool this will be for the Broncos.

The evening culminated with a silent auction and hugs all around. It was so nice to reconnect with some of my former teammates and friends and to see all the neat things they're doing with their lives now. I mean, it's been seven years since I cheered for Boise State and five years since I graduated. I can't believe where time has gone!

See photos from our evening below:

Boise State Alumni, Boise State Football, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
Touring the new, beautiful Bleymaier Football Center. Boy, it was grandiose!
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Football, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
The auditorium where the players watch film. We got a sneak-peek to the video the players would watch before the Wyoming game. How neat!
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Football, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
Their weight room. It came fully stocked with a "snack shack" that was more like a mini grocery store.
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Football, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
The locker room, which felt like Vegas. It was legit.
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Blue Turf, Boise State Football, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
Protect The Blue! Yeah buddy!
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Blue Turf, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center
I got to bring my handsome man with me to this fun event. He—a big-time Bronco football fan—loved it!
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Cheerleaders
Former teammates and our past coach on The Blue!
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Cheerleaders
Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.
Boise State Alumni, Boise State Blue Turf, Boise State Cheerleaders, Boise State Bleymaier Football Center

Thanks so much to the current Spirit Squad coach, the volunteers who helped put the event together, and to BSU for letting us come celebrate Homecoming in style with an amazing tour and super-fun evening. Go Broncos!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Freakin' Fast Marathon

Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner

Of course I wasn't done racing for the year, of course I wasn't! A mere 6-days after racing in the City of Trees Marathon, I competed in yet another marathon—the Freakin' Fast Marathon!

Similarly to the City of Trees, I hadn't intended to run this race, but the day after signing up for City of Trees (three weeks ago), I was asked to run the Freakin' Fast. Oh man, the thought of two marathons in less than one week's time? No way, dude! While I initially said no—considering that I hadn't trained and adding not one but two marathons sounded super daunting—I changed my mind this last week in a "runner's high" moment and said once more, "Why not?!"

The Freakin' Fast Marathon is known as the "second fastest marathon in the world" and is a Boston Marathon qualifying course. The course begins at the top of Bogus Basin ski mountain and drops over 4,000 feet to the finish at Julia Davis Park in the heart of downtown Boise. The only difference between the Freakin' Fast Half Marathon (which I ran in July) and the full is that the full starts up the hill a little farther and ends in the city. Same great course, same great race directors, same stinkin' crazy runners.

To be honest, when thinking back on my experience with the half—in which I placed as the 1st Overall Female with a time of 1:17:23—and the fact that it took me three entire weeks to get my legs back to normal after the intense post-race soreness I experienced, I cannot believe I actually agreed to do this race. I just re-read my Freakin' Fast Half post, and I surprisingly seem to have left out the insane soreness and recovery time that my body hit me with after that race. Dude. It was a killer. It was one of those, "I will NEVER do anything like this again," kind of races. And yet... there I was, subjecting myself to another bout of torture.

The race began at 8:00 am on Saturday morning, and I was sitting on a bus to be hauled up the hill at 6:00 am, oatmeal in my tummy and antsy legs itchin' to get started. When we gathered at the start line, the first thing I noticed was the smaller crowd that usual (about 80 people). The good news was that if I was crazy for doing this race, at least these other folks were crazy enough to do it, too! We started running at the honk of a car horn (yeah, Idaho!), and we were off.

The race was so scenic and surprisingly fun! We have a big wildfire going on right now, so I was fortunate that the hazy air and red-air conditions didn't irritate my lungs. One thing that I did differently with this race was start out a bit slower than I'm used to (about 7:15/mile), to ensure I didn't totally die at the end like I have been doing lately. 7:15-minute miles are actually faster than my usual full marathon pace, but considering the downhill slope of this race and the fact that my last race on this course was a 5:54/mile average—this was taking it easy. To ensure I kept this pace, I ended up running with a nice guy from Northern Idaho for the first 9-miles. A little worried of pushing it too hard and running two marathons so close together fueled my mantra for this race, which was "God please guide me," and guide me he did! Every time I felt a little twang of pain or something start to tighten, I slowed down. Mentally, that was challenging—but physically, it sure paid off!

The course wound down through the foothills with aid stations every few miles. Unlike most of my other races, I made it a point to stop at each aid station for a small sip of water. Staying hydrated definitely helped keep me on a good foot. I was able to make it through the whole race with a very good mental attitude and positive spirits. I had a pretty hard time at the last race after about mile 20, but the soreness and mental fatigue didn't hit me at this race until mile 24—and I was on the home stretch by that point! I will say that running the last six miles on flat terrain after just pounding the downward slopes for 20 miles was rather challenging, but slowing down and taking the first part easier helped out tremendously.

When I saw the finish, I began my kick. I was so excited to be done. I ended up finishing in 3:06:58 (7:08/mile average) and won 1st Overall Female and finished 7th overall. Woo-hoo! I had just earned another Boston Marathon qualifying time and a new PR by 9-minutes and 45-seconds! I ran straight into Daniel's arms for a huge hug and then straight over to the refreshments table where I snagged a huge cup of candy. A worthy trophy, indeed!

See photos of the race below!

Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
The cute race shirt and matching bib.
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
Gathered at the start as the sun was coming up and chatting with my friend Tanya. We were ready to run!
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
And we're off! 10-steps in, only 26.2 more to go! Yikes!
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
So, funny story here. At this point, I'm running with this guy Ben. He and I go left at the fork in the road, following the six people in front of us. Guess what? It was the wrong direction. See the guys behind us? Check the next caption...
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
These guys realized that we, as well as the six people ahead of us, went THE WRONG WAY! Look how concerned they are! And we were too far away for them to stop us! So they did what any respectable runner would do and they went "right,"—the right way! Too bad for us, right? Ha! Fortunately, my new running buddy looked back and noticed these guys heading off in the opposite direction and he let me know. We stopped—dead in our tracks—and looked left (at the first six guys), then right (at everyone else going the right way), and then at each other like "Which way's the right way?" We then realized we had taken a wrong turn so we started running again, frustrated at ourselves and trying to recover the time and distance we had lost. See next caption!
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
Here we are... trying to make up for our little detour. So technically, since I finished 7th overall, I was actually the very first one to finish the entire course as the first six guys missed out on about 1.5-miles of the course. Whoops! But, as they are all men of integrity, they were very quick to tell the race director about the mishap, so while their times may be a little skewed, each ended up running more once they got to the finish to make up for the initial loss.
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
There we are, all smiles as we have finally made up ground and gotten back on the right path!
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
I loved this race because I was so happy during the whole thing! Each race, I set a goal to just feel good during the race with the intention of not trying to pressure myself to take a certain place or run a certain time. And this race—I actually did it! I was all smiles the whole race (well, until mile 24 anyway). 
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
As I made a point to stop at almost every aid station, I was thrilled to find that each one had not only water and Gatorade, but also CANDY! I've never been to a race that had candy at every station, and I tried to grab a couple pieces each time I grabbed water so by the end I'd had a few Mike & Ike's, sour gummy worms, and Sour Patch Kids and I have to say—candy is my new absolutely favorite intra-workout re-fueling treat! Carbs are carbs and these ones gave me just the quick-acting sugar I needed! And gosh—isn't that medal great? It's 5.5 inches of awesome... what a reward!
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner, 1st Place Overall Female
The feeling I was experiencing during this photo cannot be explained. If you've run a marathon, you know the feeling. It's not about winning 1st Place Overall Female. It's not about the new PR by almost 10-minutes. It's not about the trophy or the medal or the title. It's about the feeling that you have simply done it—you've pushed your body further and farther than you ever could have imagined. This is literally a photo of my runner's high.
Freakin Fast Marathon, Fastest Marathon in the World, Marathon in Boise, Downhill Marathon, Boise Runner
I had so much fun connecting with a fellow Boisean and Instagram friend, Mandi after the race. She and I have supported each other via social media for the last few months and I met her at the City of Trees Marathon. She was volunteering at this one so we got to hang out for a bit post-race! I love meeting other local runners!

I loved this race for a couple of reasons. 1—It was a beautifully scenic course, offering panoramic views of the entire Treasure Valley for most of the race. 2—The weather was divine... decently sunny, not too hot, and a little breezy. 3—While the downhill wreaked havoc on my legs post-race (I can barely walk today and don't foresee it being an easy task for the next several days), since I paced myself and didn't go as fast as usual, it was a rather comfortable race. 4—The crowd and race directors for this race were so supportive. It's always fun running an extreme race like this one because the people who come out to participate are all as crazy as you are! 5—This race (and I know my husband likes this, too!) should be my last big race of 2015. Yes—I'm finally doing it. I'm going to give my body a much-needed break and—while I still intend on working out daily—I do not have anything big I'm training for so I can just focus on repairing and strengthening over the winter.

Speaking of repairing... my legs are beyond shot from this race. Sitting, standing, walking, bending over, even laying down... it all hurts. That "freakin'" run... freakin' fast, freakin' awesome, freakin' glad it's over!

Monday, October 12, 2015

City of Trees Marathon 2015

City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits

This past weekend I had the opportunity not only to compete in my second full marathon, but I got to run in a race with my mom and sister! Originally, I had planned on running The City of Trees Marathon by myself because I thought my mom was going to be out of town, so I went ahead and registered for the full with the rationale of "Why not? I've trained for half marathons all year so let's see what I can do," fueling my fire. When my mom and sister found out I signed up for the full 26.2, they figured they needed to get in on the action and register for the half! So my sister, who lives in Seattle, flew in and the three of us were able to run our very first race together!

The marathon began at 8:00 am with the half beginning an hour later at 9:00 am. Marnie and Mom went with me to the start, cheering me on as the starting horn sounded. The marathon's course (which had changed since I ran it in 2013), took us west on the Boise River Greenbelt for half of the race and then joined back up going east with the half marathon route. What was cool was that I got to run past my mom and sister along the course! I really liked that aspect of the out & back course... there was almost always someone around you, no matter what distance or mile you were running.

My sister and my mom ended up having a great race, finishing in 1:54:08. This was my sister's first half marathon, and—despite what she's telling us at this moment—I don't believe it will be her last! She and my mom were a dynamic team and I'm so glad they got the chance to run together.

Despite only training for half marathons this year, I figured I'd be in okay enough shape to be able to complete the full. I set out with a goal in mind of 3:30 (8:00/mile average), 5-minutes under the Boston Qualifying time for my age group. I ended up having a better race than I had planned for (until about mile 22 that is!) and finished as the 2nd Overall Female with a time of 3:16:43, averaging exactly 7:30/mile. I definitely set out just to run this race and didn't intend on competing or placing, so I was absolutely surprised to take home a beautiful handmade trophy and a BQ, which I exceeded by almost 20-minutes! Woo-hoo!

As I have a mantra with every race, this race was not about placing, or winning, or anything fancy. At about mile 20—when it started to hurt—I began repeating over and over, "This is MY race." The intent behind the mantra was that I wasn't doing it for anyone else but myself. I didn't care about the place, or the pace, or anything... I just wanted to do this for me. And I tell you what, that mantra helped carry me through the finish. That, and A LOT OF PRAYER—of course!

See more photos from the race below, captured by my sweet husband and brother-in-law, who cheered the three of us on the entire way!

City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits
Mom and Marnie cheered me on at the start! It was a bit chilly to begin with but quickly warmed up to a comfortable temperature. We were ready to run!
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
Marnie was in Brooks, Mom in Saucony, and I'm in New Balance!
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
All lined up at the start! My husband asked, "Why do you always start in the front?" My response was, "Why not—someone's gotta do it?!"
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
I was fortunate to run about 10-miles with this superstar, Audrey, who was running her very first marathon and ended up winning 1st Overall Female with a time of 3:06. She came up behind me around mile 7 and asked if we could run together. Not only did we run, but we chatted and kept each other around 7:05/mile splits for about 10 miles. I was ready to slow it down just a bit (aka I couldn't hold that pace any longer) around mile 18 so she took off and totally killed it! She was a doll and I was so glad to be able to get to spend some time with her.
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits
One of my favorite shots of the day. I had just high-fived my mom as she and my sister were heading into their last few miles. I still had plenty to go but it totally jazzed me up to get to see them along the course!
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
Coming around to the finish. I was so excited to be done! My pace at this point was definitely about 9:00/mile... every step felt like that could be my last. I was toast!
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
Running across the finish. I achieved 2nd Overall Female with a time of 3:16:43 (7:30/mile average), a new personal record by 47-minutes!
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Marathon PR
The awesome award, which was hand-crafted! Isn't it beautiful?
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Boise Races, Running in Boise
The post-race "Yeah!" pose! 
City of Trees Marathon, City of Trees Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits
I couldn't have asked for a better race. A BQ and a family event? It just doesn't get much cooler.

While I definitely didn't anticipate earning a Boston Qualifying time, I truly didn't anticipate what mental game the race was going to be. I definitely cruised through the first 20 miles, but the last six were very, very mentally and physically challenging for me. Earning a BQ is—to me—a true honor in itself. Now, whether or not I'll actually run the Boston Marathon... that's a whole different conversation. I am not certain what this next year holds for racing, military training, or vacation plans, so I don't anticipate making that decision quite yet. All I know for now is that it's pretty darn cool that I was at least able to qualify.

My true favorite part of this race wasn't the medal or the award or the BQ or the freakin' awesome sweatshirt (which is really why I signed up for the race in the first place). My favorite part was seeing my mom and sister on the course, high-fiving them as I ran through the finish, and getting to have my sister come be a part of this family race tradition my mom and I have started. When you love doing something so much and you are able to share it with the people you love so much, there's just something there that makes your heart quadruple in size.

I'm not yet certain whether this is my last race for 2015 or not, but regardless, it was an awesome one. COT for the win!