Monday, August 29, 2016

199 Miles

Invitation to the Hood to Coast Relay
Who? 12 runners 
What? Run 199 miles 
When? August 26-27, 2016
Where?  From Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to Seaside
Why?  Because who wouldn't want to spend 2 days and 1 night running 199 miles?
Fun Fact: The 2016 event included 12,600 runners and 3,600 volunteers
On your mark, get set, run . . .
Thursday morning, I realized I had not run many miles in the sunshine to prepare for the Hood to Coast relay.  I'd either run early in the morning before the sun came up or during the day with cloud cover.  So . . . Thursday morning, the day before Hood to Coast, I ran 10 miles in the sun.  Not my most brilliant idea.  The sun completely drained me, and when I started climbing the last hill up 152nd, my calf "snapped," and I had to limp home.  I diagnosed myself with the help of Google; it was a Grade 2 calf strain.  Sounds professional, right?!  Google recommended the following treatment plan: ice, heat, ultrasound, taping, massage, strength exercises, and rest. Ain't nobody got time for that, so I made up my own treatment plan:  I purchased another roll of KT tape and some snacks, a Cheetah "robe" from The Salvation Army, packed my bags for Hood to Coast, got a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep, and headed to Kerry's house the next morning to load up the van for the ultimate relay experience.
Our van of 6 "Happy Valley" women arrived at Timberline with time to spare.  Our team's start time was 7:30 am. It was sunny and breezy.  We used a bathroom with flushable toilets, signed in, took pictures with Mr. Sasquatch, and got ready to cheer Ashley on at the starting line.  She took off like a flash!  
Ashley = Runner #1
Elizabeth = Runner #2
Jennifer = Runner #3
Christina = Runner #4
These girls are seriously the most positive, strong, supportive women.  They smiled and laughed while running through the heat and standing with me in line for the porta potties.  While Christina was running her first leg, the rest of us got to make a quick pit stop and hang out with some of the firemen from the Gladstone Fire Department.  Fireman Kirk was nice enough to pose with us for some photos.  He should definitely win "Fireman of the Year"! We appreciate how hard these men work to serve the community.
I was super nervous to take off my Cheetah costume and run my first leg.  I ate a peanut butter waffle, taped up my calf, took a pill to "freeze" my colon, ate a GU, disrobed, and looked down the road for my teammate, Christina, to arrive.  I was both excited and nervous when I saw her running towards me.  She slapped the bracelet on my wrist, and I was off.

My calf ached while I was running, but I tried to smile and enjoy each step.  The side of the road was covered with volunteers giving directions, other teams cheering runners on, and an occasional person holding a pump meant for bug spray asking if we'd like to be misted.  I just hoped and prayed that those bug sprayers were filled with water and not pesticides!  Luckily, my colon stayed "frozen" during the run, I survived the uphill, I didn't catch a disease from whatever was misted on me from the bug sprayers, and Run Number ONE Was Done! 

Vanessa=Runner #5
Kerry=Runner #6
We had just a moment to breathe before we drove to the next exchange where Kerry, the last runner from our van, passed off the bracelet to Van #2, our partners in crime:  Heidi, Linda, Laurie, Maggie, Jonathan, and Lisa. Five people from Van #2 flew in from California to run the relay with us.  We were so happy to see the six of them at the exchange because 1) they are amazing and fun and 2) that meant the people in Van #1 got to take a break and go back to Kerry's house to shower and eat spaghetti and meatballs!
These are the amazing runners from Van #2!

The shower, rest, and food at Kerry's house was just what we needed to gear up for our next run.

Unfortunately, my colon "unfroze" at some point while we were waiting to start Leg #2, so back to the Honey Buckets I went.
Note:  My iPhone should probably be fumigated after Hood to Coast.

We were all still pretty drained from running in the heat during Leg #1, but we charged ourselves back up for Leg #2 with a flying leap under the starting line for a different relay race!
Then, we watched for Lisa from Van #2 to run in,
she slapped the bracelet on Ashley, and Ashley
was off like a rocket!
Elizabeth is ready to go!

Jennifer can't wait to get running!

Christina is ready to rock!

I'm just going to be perfectly honest, it was about 10 or 10:30 pm when it was time for me to run again, and I didn't know if I could do it.  I sprayed BioFreeze on my leg, taped it up, took more Aleve, strapped on the headlamp, and tried to smile, but inside I was cringing. When I started to run, each and every step hurt.  I was running along the highway in the dark with no music telling myself I just needed to finish 7.7 miles, and then I could rest and ice my leg.  I ran past a bar where some drunk men cheered me on.  I ran past a dead animal on the road.  I ran past a girl who looked like she was loving life almost as much as me.  I ran and I ran and I ran until . . . I found Kerry!  I have never been more excited to see someone!  Run Number TWO Was THROUGH!

Kerry did amazing on her run, (unfortunately, I was doing poorly at picture taking at this point, so I don't have a photo of her), she turned the rest of the night runs over to Van #2,  and we all headed to the next exchange point to sleep.  A HUGE THANK YOU to Jennifer for driving at this point and to Christina for navigating.  I was completely incapacitated.  

When we arrived at our next exchange point, three of us tried to sleep in the van and three of us tried to sleep on the grass.  Sleep was difficult to come by because it sounded like the volunteers were screaming team numbers into their megaphones right beside the van.  I must've dozed off because the next thing I knew, Ashley, Christina and Jennifer were back at the van getting ready for the next run. It was time for the FINAL LEG!!

Christina before Leg #3.  She ran right before me, so I was starting to get butterflies.
I had heard that my last leg was the most difficult.  Basically, I was going to run up a mountain and then back down the other side.  I was scared to death.  It actually ended up being my favorite run ever!  I pretended I was back in Utah running up Hobble Creek Canyon.  I ran past some guys.  I was feeling pretty strong.  When I started nearing the top of the hill, I heard the lyrics to the R Kelly song, "I believe I can fly.  I believe I can touch the sky." I know it's totally corny, but I held my arms out like airplane wings as I sang along to the tune.  My kids were so embarrassed when I told them I did that!  Then, as I neared the top of the mountain, I saw two runners holding a roll of toilet paper stretched out like a finish line.  I ran towards it and busted through that TP.  Best feeling ever!  Next, I got to run about 2 1/2 miles downhill.  It felt amazing.  I ignored my leg and just enjoyed the experience. Run Number THREE, Yippee!!!

After Kerry finished her 3rd leg, she found a bag of ice for my leg (she is an angel), and we headed off to enjoy a hot meal while Van #2 finished the journey for our team.   
We ate at the Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria.  Food has never tasted so good!  We got cleaned up, brushed our teeth and changed our clothes in their bathroom.  Don't worry.  We left a great tip!  Next stop was Seaside . . . the finish line of Hood to Coast.
We found our names on the list of participants for this year's Hood to Coast Relay.
We found Mr. Sasquatch again!  I'm pretty sure he felt a little less fresh at the finish line as well!
We waited for the rest of our team.
We crossed the finish line with our team!
We had a special moment,
and then our team celebrated the awesomeness of Hood to Coast 2016.
Thanks to the MISSFITS for including me in this awesome journey.  199 miles with 11 amazing people I am lucky to have as friends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Oregon Marathon Race Recap

The Oregon Summer Marathon route is very similar to the Vernonia Marathon that I ran back in April.  The marathons have different locations for the start and finish, but about 21 of the 26.2 miles are run on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail in both races.  A couple of my running friends, Terry and Joe, decided to do the Oregon Summer Marathon, so I decided to give the course another try.

I have had posterior tibial tendonitis in my left foot for the last couple of months and my ever problematic piriformis (weak heinie) issues.  I did take a couple of steps (well . . . at least one step) to try to fix my problem areas. I went to the physical therapist.  He gave me some strengthening exercises.  He also DID NOT tell me I COULDN'T run the Oregon Summer Marathon, so I decided to tape up my foot and give it my best shot.

Logical people (my entire family) told me I should not run this race because of my aches and pains. Nyah looked at me on Friday when I told her I was still planning to run and said, "Mom, you are crazy!" 

My response was, "I prefer to say that I'm dedicated!"

I actually did a couple of things that I THOUGHT were RIGHT in preparation for this race.  I ate really clean for days before the run.  I did not slip up and eat Thai food for my pre race meal this time.  (I am still having nightmares about the repercussions of the Pad Thai during the Vernonia Marathon.) I wore a newish pair of shoes without many miles on them that I had broken in on a couple of previous short runs.  I purchased all my favorite GU flavors to enjoy during the race (peanut butter chocolate and salted caramel).  I also bought a "new"robe from the Salvation Army to keep me warm before the race. So, besides my nagging injuries, I felt like I was ready to go.

Terry, Joe, and I got on the first bus at 5:30 am.   While on the bus, I gagged down a banana which I despise, but I ate it anyways because that's what runners are "supposed to eat" before a race.  The bus took us up to Vernonia High School where we were blessed with INDOOR FLUSHING TOILETS! This is the 2nd time I have been blessed with the gift of flushing toilets before a race.  There is just something special about being able to flush a toilet vs. shutting the lid on a porta potty.  I did notice something curious while in the restroom line.  The line for the women's restroom was VERY short compared to the men's line.  That never happens!  My mind was racing; either the women running this race had strong bladders OR there weren't many women running the race!  I used the bathroom seven times and then decided I'd better head to the starting line.  Ready or not!  When I got to the starting line I looked around and realized it was a VERY small race.  (I found out later there were only 29 women that ran the full marathon.) I chit chatted with a woman beside me and found out she was visiting from Utah!  What a small world!   I waited until the last minute, kissed my "new" Salvation Army robe goodbye, and started running.

I decided to start out a little slower this time in hopes that I'd have something left for the last six miles.  There were quite a few people in front of me.  I kept my eye on one girl that was about a half mile ahead on the path.  My goal was just to keep her in my sights.  I ran in silence, listening to my breathing.  Aaron had spent 3 hours loading my iPOD with new music the night before as a special treat.  Running for me is all about mental games and tricks to make it through the miles, so I told myself that I couldn't turn on my iPOD until mile 4.   I saw the mile 4 marker and pushed play.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard music playing! I really needed a boost.  It was an Eminem rap song.  Very motivational!  Next mental trick:  I forced myself to listen to that SAME Eminem song over and over again until I caught up to the girl in front of me.  I pushed "repeat" many times as I ran along. Finally, at mile 7, I caught up to her and quickly pushed the fast forward button on my iPOD to a new song.  Mile after mile ticked away with music playing in my ears.  A couple men passed me.  I took a GU.  A couple more men passed me.  I took another GU.  Then I threw up at Mile 17. Chocolate peanut butter GU is no longer my favorite flavor.  I smelled really gross.  I kept on running.  I could feel a huge blister forming on the bottom of my left foot.  I guess my newish shoes were a little too new.  Run, run, run . . .

Then there was an out and back at around Mile 20 or 21.  The volunteers handed me a cold wet towel. It was a nice reprieve from the heat.  However, during the last five miles, I really wanted to quit.  My Aleve had worn off.  My ankle was aching.  My new blister was throbbing.  My butt hurt.  "Why am I doing this?!" kept running through my mind.  Then I remembered . . .

I needed another mental game.  I imagined myself doing a tempo run on the Springwater Corridor. "It's only one mile to the stoplight from Johnson Creek," I thought to myself.  I ran a mile.  Then, "It's only one mile to the food carts!"  I ran another mile.  "It's one more mile to the overpass where the nice homeless man lives who always waves at me." I ran another mile.  I talked to myself, listened to music, and just slogged out the rest of the race.

When I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer say, "Vanessa Heber . . . first female finisher."  I couldn't believe it! I won?!  3:24:33 was fast enough to be female and cross the line first that day.  A nice volunteer at the finish line brought me a cardboard box filled with ice cubes as a special treat for my bum foot.  Best reward ever!  I also treated myself to a Diet Pepsi from a local food mart and then headed home to tell my family that their crazy mom had survived another race and lost another robe.

Friday, May 6, 2016

PR in Eugene

Jill and Marisa flew in from Utah on Friday to run the Eugene Marathon.  

We drove to Eugene on Saturday morning, stopped by the Expo to get our race bibs and stumbled upon a new product called Run Gum, a caffeinated chewing gum.  The co-founder of Run Gum, Coach Sam Lapray, was the nicest guy and gave us lots of training tips for the future.  We explored the other booths, took some photos, and then headed off to Eugene's Saturday Market.  The booths were filled with wares being sold by artists, bakers, and a wide variety of other entrepreneurs. After exploring beautiful Eugene, we ate our pre-race meal, laid out our running outfits, and watched the movie, Creed, to help us get pumped up for the race!  I may or may not have hummed the Rocky theme song multiple times during the race the next day.

The next morning, we woke up with plenty of time to "prep" for the race.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon a women's restroom in the hotel lobby that had an abnormally high toilet seat that no one else in the hotel seemed to want to use.  It was really quite odd to sit on a toilet without having to bend my legs much. I don't think I will be installing tall toilet seats in our house any time soon.

I was forced to wear my grey monogrammed bathrobe (not pictured) on the short shuttle ride to the starting line because I lost my favorite purple robe at the last race.  Old grey kept me nice and toasty during our pre race rotations through the porta potties.  I'm pretty sure that some of the other runners thought that I was homeless.  I have a slightly pained expression in the picture above as I was quite chilly after disrobing.  Unfortunately, old grey was not at the finish line.  I hope someone with the initials VH is enjoying it.

The starting line was jam packed with runners and didn't thin out for miles.  I'm really not sure where the race took us because I don't know the city of Eugene at all yet, but I DO know that we ran over and along the beautiful Willamette River for a majority of the run. The views were spectacular and the company was even better.  It had been six months since I'd been able to run with Jill and Marisa, and I enjoyed every step of the race.  I tried to smile at the people cheering us on.  The spectators in Eugene were fabulous!  They handed out jelly beans and what appeared to be warm beer.  They held up motivational signs.  Lots of kids held signs that read, "Power Up!" that I punched for a boost of extra energy.  Jill, Marisa, and I all agreed that our favorite sign on the course was a poster board that read, "If Donald Trump can run, so can you!"  That one made us chuckle.

Now, I don't want you to think I am getting cocky, but I have to brag for just a moment about my big accomplishment in Eugene.  I actually ran a PR - a Poofree Race!  I know.  I know.  I can hear the rounds of applause from the two people that are reading this.  Thanks, Mom and Dad for believing in me!  The picture above is at Mile 26.1, and I am frantically scouring the area for a porta potty, but I managed to cross the finish line with a PR.

Side note:  Jill and I are pictured above preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics in the new event called Synchronized Running.

The Eugene Marathon is a race I will never forget!  Thanks to these two girls for making the long trip out and for helping me remember why I love to run!  P.S.  I'm hoping there is another PR in my future!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sandy and the Tram

The kids were off of school today because the teachers had to finish up 3rd quarter grades.  We decided to head to the city of Sandy, Oregon, to explore.  The big draw for us to Sandy was . . .   
We have heard great things about Joe's Donut Shop.  Supposedly, everyone that skis at Mt. Hood stops here on their way home for some delicious sugary goodness.  We decided to see if Joe's really deserves a 5 star rating from us on Yelp.  Ian ordered the cinnamon sugar and old fashioned, Nyah decided on the cronut and a blueberry fritter, and Carson stuck with his favorites the applesauce and chocolate glazed.  We sat down at a table to enjoy the tasty treats and noticed a sign on our table that read, "These are the most famous donuts in the world because they are the best in the world!"

Ian bit into his cinnamon sugar donut, moaned, and said, "These taste just like the donuts at the Red Barn!"  The Red Barn makes cinnamon donuts in Santaquin, Utah, and they are Ian's absolute favorite donuts in the whole world.   Sixty seconds later, he bit into his old fashioned donut, moaned again, and said, "So moist and soft." Personally, I don't appreciate the word "moist," especially when describing a donut, but this was a huge compliment coming from Ian.

The kids' verdict is that Joe's Donut Shop is indeed a 5 star business.  We will make the drive to Sandy often just for these tasty treats.

After we consumed our donuts, we wandered through the parking lot and noticed a beautiful park just steps away.  It is called Meinig Memorial Park and is filled with pine trees, steams, and wooden structures for the kids to play on.  Most of the kids we saw playing there were between 3 and 5 years old, but that didn't stop the elderly Heber kids from having a blast.

During our time at the park we took some Senior photos of Ian. (He cracks me up!)

Some Senior photos of Carson. (He yelled about getting this picture taken but smiled for the camera.)

And some family photos for our wall at home. (Really?!)

Can you guess who the baby of the family is?!

The trails that run through the park are absolutely gorgeous.  I would highly recommend this park as a place for a family picnic or even a double date for a couple of the kids pictured above.

We still had some hours left in the day, so we decided to head into Portland to ride the Tram.  The OHSU Tram runs between the South Waterfront district and the OHSU campus.  Ian dreams of going to OHSU someday to earn a Nursing degree and thought it would be a good idea for us all to check it out.  It cost us each $4.50 for the 4 minute Tram ride, but it was totally worth it.  The views of the city from the Tram are breathtaking.

Ian made a wish and threw a penny into the fountain at OHSU for good luck in his future endeavors at the school.

It was a great day!  We are excited for Aaron to get home from his week in Dublin, so we can give him his apple fritter from Joe's Donut Shop.  It may or may not be here for him when he gets back.