Thursday, July 11, 2013

Q&A Thursday: Managing Church with lots of Little Ones

Today's question come from a reader:
 I wondered if you had any advice on how you handle church and manage your bench with several little ones. I don't know if you've had the experience of doing it alone because of a husband's calling, but I'm in that boat. I'd love any advice or suggestions you have to offer.
While my kids are fairly good at Church right now (hoping that continues), it helps a lot that my older ones set a good example for the younger ones and can help entertain the younger ones.  I also am blessed to have my husband there to help me, where other moms' husbands are needed elsewhere.


I put the question to some other LDS moms of many and I got plenty of wonderful suggestions:

Christina (me) I've found over the years that I prefer simplicity. I'll bring Cheerios only for if the baby gets restless. I bring notebooks and colored pencils (long ago learned that my kids have a compulsion to peel the wrappers off crayons if I bring them) and Friend magazines, but that's all. We don't get out anything until after the sacrament. We have an older couple in our neighborhood that are wonderful to welcome my younger girls to sit with them, but we don't let them go sit there until after the sacrament. Kids over 8 are expected to listen the entire meeting and not color (though I have an 11yo son who has an origami compulsion). When necessary, I take the younger restless ones out in the hall where I let them get some energy out. Unless they've been outrageous, I don't really put them in time-out or make the hall a punishment. So far, most of my kids learn how to behave pretty well over time.
  
all dressed and ready for Church

Marybeth:   I'm pretty similar, except when I take my kids out in the hall. I don't want the hall to be a fun place, so they do not get to run out in the hall. I hold them or make them sit and do nothing on the couch out in the hall. I want them to want to go back in to sacrament meeting, even if it is only to color. (I figure they will hear something!) The only other activity I bring is Tangrams (those geometric shapes with green triangles, blue diamonds, red, and yellow hexagons) that they can make their own designs on the bench or match up with the books that I have.

Diane:  I'm on the don't take entertainment boat. I bring pens and paper and that is all. I actually think it goes even better when I bring nothing and all they have to do is listen, read their scriptures or look at the hymnal. I only bring food if we don't have time for breakfast. I feel like food in church is too messy and too noisy. 

Katrina:   When our oldest was still around 1, our RS president gave a homemaking meeting about reverence with children. She basically said that our children will rise to the level of our expectation. If we allow them to run around in the halls when they misbehave, they will use that as an escape (because what 2 year old really wants to sit still when they could be running around). So we will bring something small to eat for anyone younger than nursery age, but no one else gets a snack. We have some picture books that I made (I got the template from a blog somewhere) with scripture stories and facts about the prophets and apostles. We bring those and the LDS scripture readers, and that is it. If we have to take our youngest out (he is almost 2), we hold him the entire time and have/help him fold his arms. It is NOT something fun for him because we want him to prefer to be in sacrament meeting. Sometimes if I know he is tired and needs to sleep, I will try the mother's room to rock him and help him sleep, but usually there are too many mothers/children (as in 7, 5, and 3 years old whose mothers use the mothers room as a room to let their children play/talk), and I can't hear anything that is going on in the meeting. It is so refreshing to be in there with someone else who actually wants to hear the talks and will let me listen - but that is a rant for another day! 

Siobhan:  yep, all of the above. sit in the front, too. we sit third row back on whichever side the bishopric is on. no toys at all, church books for after the sacrament is passed. our 8yo and 9yo are expected to listen, but can write in journals or read their scriptures. no food once you're old enough for nursery because you'll get snacks in there. if you have to be taken out, you can stand with your nose on the wall till you're ready to go back in. no bathroom or drink breaks.

we watched a large family follow these rules before we had kids and we adopted them immediately for our now six kids. it's worked pretty well and i have to say we have the best behaved kids in our ward. they're certainly not perfect, but i think minimizing distractions and sitting close makes a world of difference.
 


Andrya:  I prefer not to bring anything. Sometimes they bring pencils, pen in the scriptures and then they may write or draw on the program. I only brought snacks for toddlers or younger.My husband had a calling in the high council and I was on my for getting everyone ready and doing the whole church thing. My oldest was 11 at the time. We got down such a system that when my husband was actually around it threw us all off and I found I was irritated because he didn't know our system. lol. kind of. 

Montserrat:  We do the same! I don't bring anything extra except for scripture stories or Friend magazines so the nursery aged kids have something to look at. When I have to take a child out (usually it is just a nursery aged child) I hold them on my lap or take them to look at the pictures hanging in the hallway. The other kids know to behave when I am out (my husband is the Bishop). If they don't there are consequences! All of my kids are required to get a drink and use the bathroom before the meeting starts. I do not allow them to leave for those during sacrament meeting. Everyone can hold it for an hour. No one will die of thirst. Kids will rise to your expectations, especially when you discuss with them what you expect and why. Usually when a child is having a hard time it is either because they are hungry or tired. Try to take care of those needs before by planning ahead and it will so much easier.
Montserrat's family

RaelynI am also for less is more. I no longer bring snacks to church- but have a sippy cup of milk for my nursery kid. We have friend magazines that kids can look through. I do have an ipad and iphone with some LDS games on it for the toddlers-but that sometimes backfires on me if I am not diligent on who has it.

Wendy:  My husband is the bishop in our ward. Before that he has had callings (bishopric and high council) that kept him from being in our bench with us. Even before he had callings that kept him from sitting with us and before we had a lot of kids, I was strict. People are always asking me how I keep my kids do reverent during church. They often do not like hearing what I have to say as it means they will have to actually parent their kids. OK, that is harsh, I know. But I get annoyed when people think it is a magical pill or something that will make their kids behave, instead of working hard at being a parent. Our kids are not allowed to use the bathroom or get a drink during sacrament. They know the rules and I do not feel sorry for them if they don't prepare beforehand. We sit in the 3rd or 4th bench from the stand. The less distractions in front of us, the better the kids can pay attention. They are not allowed to turn around. We have a seating arrangement with older siblings and me between younger kids. I don't let kids sit by siblings that they cannot be reverent near (for example, my 9 yo boy and my 11 yo boy do not ever sit together). No one is allowed to have treats past the age of 3 at church. And there are never toys, books, crayons, papers, etc. They have to sit quietly. It is their choice if they listen to the speaker. I try and be a good example by looking at the speaker attentively (even if it is a struggle for me), acting as if I am enthralled and could not imagine doing anything else more fun. They seem to do better when they see their parents doing what they are asked to do.
 
Aislinn:  Yes, we do like the rest of you. Snack only for the baby, church books/magazines/pictures for kids under 8, and expect over 8 to listen...and if they want to write, they can take notes. I hate when people comment on my reverent children and follow it up with, "My kids are just too spirited and active to get them to sit still!" or some such. Ha! I know all about "spirited" and "active"...they've just been taught that sacrament meeting is not the place!

Tana: This was a lifesaver for me. When my hubby was in the bishopric, I'd sit in the smaller side pews (near the front) with half the kids in the same row and half in front of me. Having us in a "clump" like that rather than spread out linearly on a long pew made it so much easier to manage. I also had a couple of ladies and a man that I pre-arranged help with. They sat near me and also knew that if I gave them The Look, I needed them to help. As for activities, we're minimalists. I let them look at copies of the Friend or the GAK, and they can have a pencil and notebook. We don't take snacks and we don't let kids leave during the meeting unless it's a true emergency.

Lorraine:  Great comments here. It sounds like Generals making strategies for war! Here is something that helped me: I made a page of little drawings depicting all the things that were BAD on the top half and all the things that were GOOD on the bottom half. The pictures were things like kicking the bench in front, touching other people, getting out of your seat, etc. There are just so many millions of ways to get in trouble, that my kids needed specifics! The good pictures were also helpful. We had a FHE and taught them our expectations. Then I took the sheet to church every week and when someone did something wrong, I quietly pointed to the picture of what they were doing wrong, and to the picture of what they should be doing. They got the message!

Gerilyn: We all seem to have figured out what works. I just want to add that I have always had "reverence practice" at home. Esp. with the little kids, to have to do pretend sacrament meeting and sit on the couch quietly for 20 min. is super helpful and effective. By the time mine are 3 they are expected to sit quietly through the whole meeting. When I do this consistently I hardly even have to try at church. My husband is also the bishop and he is also very reverence-conscious. So he has asked and expected us to be a good example to others (and boy, do some need it!) I agree with Montserrat, kids rise to the level of expectation.

Cheryl: Okay, so what do you do when you have a Special Needs child who can't sit still? Or a child with an auditory sensory disorder who needs attention and can't process what's going on?

I have a son with an auditory sensory disorder, and so we make allowa
nces that people would find annoying or interpret as being bad parents.

I get that it's important to teach our kids to be reverent. I do a lot of the things you guys have mentioned, but I also feel like I need to speak for the women who --for whatever reason --can't and don't. Who have kids who eat treats when they are 4 and those who have kids writing and drawing pictures at 13 and for those who are just grateful they got to church on time (or at all).

I know this thread was an answer to questions about how to improve behavior, but the original OP seemed to want to know how to survive without spousal support. And I think she needs to know that if her kids are irreverent or if it's not perfect --it's okay. She brought her kids to church. That's a beautiful thing.


I mean, because we understand what it's like to have a lot of little kids. And we work extra hard to teach our kids to behave. But that means we should also understand and be more empathetic and sympathetic to women who might not have the talent nor the inclination to make this a hill for them to die on. Their kids aren't going to go inactive because they don't sit still in church, their kids aren't going to refuse to go on a mission if they eat cheerios in Sacrament Meeting. This is in no-wise a judgement against the things people teach their kids or their expectations of behavior. This is more a plea to be a little less assumptive in how children/families should behave in church.



Cheryl's cute kids

Gerilyn:  When my husband was called in to the bishopric years ago we were in a military ward. During the height of the war. Almost every single bench had a family with no dad on it! I learned then and there never to judge. I simply joined their ranks, and counted myself lucky that my husband was at least in the building, not on a ship in the Persian Gulf! Cheryl is right, it can be difficult even to get to church for some,and we should welcome all who can make it! For some of those moms church was the only break they got all week. But we all should do the best we can and help the Spirit to be with us. Often that comes through reverence, but many times it is kindness that brings it!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Ragnar Wasatch Back ~ Awesome, Exhausting, FUN!

The Basics
Ragnar is the name for a series of long-distance relay races that are all over the country.  The Wasatch Back was the first one, started ten years ago, and modeled after a similar relay series called Hood to Coast in Oregon.  Teams are comprised of 12 runners who each run 3 legs of the course.  Each team is divided into two vans of six runners each.   Van 1 starts and each of the six runners takes a turn while the van follows the same course, leapfrogging ahead and stopping to cheer their runner on and offering water, fluids and other support along the way.  At exchange points, the runners pass a slap bracelet on to the next runner.   Each runner has three assigned legs, ranging in length from 2 to 12 miles.  After all of van 1's runners have finished, they pass off the slap bracelet to the first runner in van 2.  The first van then has a break while van 2's runners take their turns.
When a team is put together, they each put in their 10K race pace.  Each team is then assigned a start time based on their speed so runners are starting anywhere from 5 in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  In this way, they ensure that the course can be set up and stay open for only certain periods of time.  Our team started at 5 in the morning on Thursday and was slated to finish at around 5 p.m. on Friday night.

Most people have this kind of reaction when they hear about it:


My Experience
Going into the race, I knew only two people on my team -- my running partner Ellyn, who moved to Washington a few months ago but drove back for the race with her sister Meagan, and Ellyn's friend Natalie, who I'd run with a couple of times when she'd come down to visit Ellyn. 

Natalie, Ellyn, Meagan and I were joined in our van by Kelly Patterson, a quiet, strong runner who works in medical billing in Caldwell, and Megan Cousin, a very sweet 23-year-old recent BYU graduate in Humanities who is hoping to get an internship at the Smithsonian for the summer and then go on to graduate school.  We really had a wonderful van.  We got along, I kept us on track of where we needed to be and helped us find our way when we would get lost (guess I take to the organizing role naturally), and there was absolutely no friction or crankiness at all.   Meagan, Ellyn's sister and our strongest runner (she's very amazing!), has run a ton of marathons, halfs, and lots of these relays but she said our van was the funnest team she'd ever been on.  It was my funnest team ever, too. 

I met three of the girls from van 2 -- Melanie, Jenny and Crystal -- in Park City on Wednesday afternoon, where Natalie and I separately drove to leave our cars at the finish.  The parking lot we'd been told would be good to leave our cars at was empty and blocked off, so we found a junior high a half mile from the finish line and left our cars there.  The five of us then drove to Logan, where Melanie, Jenny and Crystal checked into their hotel before we drove to Angie's, a local restaurant, to meet the rest of the team around 6:00.  Two of our team members, Megan and Rachel weren't able to meet us there but the rest of the team enjoyed visiting and swapping running stories.  The food was okay, but not fabulous.

Most of the team Wednesday evening
After dinner, we headed over to the Walmart parking lot to buy supplies and decorate our two vans.  I didn't see that it was such a big deal to decorate it, but it ended up being more fun than I expected and it's definitely part of the Ragnar experience.  (Tip for van decorators:  Window paints?  Not good.  Window crayons?  Awesome.  Stuff that you stick to your van with magnets or tape?  Usually falls off.).  Almost all vans are decorated with their team name, the name of the six runners on their van, and a place to count all the "kills" they make.  A kill is how many people you pass on each leg.  Since our team's name was "Crazy Train" I drew a train trying to incorporate as many crazy elements of trains I could -- a runaway prison car, a couple of circus ones, whatever.  It was a decently decorated van by the time we were done, and we made van 2 look similar.  Later, as we were running, it was great fun to see how clever and elaborate some teams had been with their names and decorations.  I took pictures of some of my favorites.



 Van 2:



 Van 1:


Other cool vans we met along the way:
  
 

 


After the decorating, Natalie, Ellyn, Meagan, and I managed to stuff all our things tiny two-door car and headed to a friend of a friend's of Natalie's empty house where they graciously let us stay the night, or what was left of it.  Meagan and Ellyn were exhausted after driving all the way from Washington, leaving at 5 a.m. that morning, but still, we didn't get much of sleep as we had to get up at 3:30 and get to the start line at 4.

Starting Legs
It was surprisingly cold with a bitter wind that morning.  We were grateful that temperatures wouldn't get too bad later in the day, but hadn't really prepared for how darn cold we'd be as we hung out at the start and waited in line for our van's safety briefing, where they told us about using flags when we cross the road (and reminded us that they aren't magic flags that stop traffic, so be careful!), running against traffic, etc.  We picked up our shirts and our goodie bags and headed to the start line to see Runner #1, Kelly, off.  She left a little bit late, with the 5:15 group, and then we headed back to the van to meet her when the runners rejoined the road in a few miles.  They spent the first couple of (cold) miles on the Bonneville Shoreline trail there before heading back to follow some roads south through small towns south of Logan.  We had fun cheering Kelly on and then it was time for Natalie to run, then Megan, and Ellyn.  These legs were through the beautiful rolling farmlands as we headed towards the famous "Avon pass" road. 

freezing cold at the start:
 Kelly ready to go:
  
 That's Natalie running just below the balloon:

 Another view of our beloved van:
 One run down, 17 to go:


 Natalie finished:


 My favorite thing about running is the views I enjoy while doing it.  This race was stunning! 

 Ellyn providing support for Megan:

 Megan running:
 More beautiful views:








 Me enjoying the day (but still in a jacket because hey, it was still a bit nippy!):
 Megan:




 Ellyn getting ready to head out:

 

 Once we hit Avon, we knew the famous "Avon pass" would not be far away:


 I loved how crowded with vans the entire course was -- something like 1500 teams were participating over the course of three days (Thursday to Friday teams and Friday to Saturday).  Many of the roads we were on were pretty remote and I bet they see more traffic in those three days than in the rest of the year.


 And here comes Ellyn:
 with Natalie providing support


 These kids had an otter pop stand so we bought one for Ellyn. 
 Love the farm implement and old wagon decorations:






Runner 5, Meagan, got the joy of running the first part of the Avon Pass, climbing 1400 feet in 7.4 miles on a dusty, rocky dirt road -- and passing pretty much everyone along the route!  The rest of us got between 3 and 12 kills on each of our legs.  Meagan got between 40 and 60 on her longer runs!

 so dusty:
 
 Meagan's a 35-year-old mom of five and very likeable.  I don't think I'll ever be as fast as her, but she definitely inspired me!


 Beloved van, now covered in dust only partway up the hill

We stopped near the top of the rise for the exchange.  It was lovely there, with the hills covered in yellow wildflowers.

 


 Here I am ready to go


 More vans:
 Waiting with other runners for the exchange:
 Meagan coming in fast!


As runner 6, I got to exchange with Meagan.  She passed off the by-then-pretty-sweaty slap bracelet and I was off.  I climbed 260 feet in the first mile and a half, then dropped down steeply -- 1200 feet lost in the next 3 miles.  If the road hadn't been full (and I mean full -- it was challenging!) of ankle-turning rocks, I would have simply watched the view in awe because it was stunningly gorgeous the entire way down.  It was also dusty and each van that passed by kicked up more of it in my face.  The last quarter mile was particularly dusty and I tried to cover my mouth and breathe through my nose for that part.  I felt strong and fast and ready for the downhill -- I'd trained pretty well for both my uphill and downhill runs, heading up and down Provo Canyon, including the Sundance turn-off road, as well as running up and around the Provo Temple several times.  I loved this leg.  I was excited to be running and feeling great.
Unfortunately, my old nemesis, my right knee and calf, gave me problems a couple miles from the finish.  It was mostly just an aching pain I could run through, and I hoped it wouldn't get worse.  The pain got mildly intense the last half mile, but it didn't slow me down.  I finished the 6.9 mile loop in 1:14, about a 10:50 average pace.  Pretty good for my running level and the difficulty of the course.  I stretched out my calf and leg and IT band pretty well and the pain dissipated quickly.  I hoped it would be fine for the next leg I had, a difficult 8 mile climb, but I didn't worry much about it then.  I put it out of my mind and focused on enjoying our first break. 

I was so covered in dust that when I washed my face later, the paper towels looked like I had just wiped foundation off.  Even my socks got dusty under my shoes:

First Break
It was around noon when we made the exchange to van 2.  We grabbed a few of the free goodies available at that exchange point, including Great Harvest bread (yum!), and then drove directly to the next exchange, at Snowbasin Ski resort, where we tried to recover, partly from the run, but mostly from the lack of sleep from the night before.  There was a grill inside the ski resort that had overpriced food ($14 for a burger and $1.50 for a bag of chips?  I don't think so!) so we skipped that.  I did enjoy the real bathrooms they had inside though (there were plenty of lovely Honeybuckets outside as well).  It was in going down the stairs at Snowbasin that I began to realize my knee might not hold up through my next leg.  It felt fine until I started going down stairs, when it throbbed with every step down.  We ate some of the food we had in the van and then laid out our sleeping rolls and tried to sleep on the grass near the parking lot.  It was challenging, with some vans rolling in blaring loud music and lots of conversations and things going on, but I think I slept a half hour or so.


Meagan, Ellyn and Natalie:
 All of Van 1:  Kelly, Meagan, Me, Meagan, Ellyn, and Natalie.
Middle Legs
Exchange 13 was a bit confusing, as there were two legs that started at the same place.  One was a 2 mile trail loop that van 2 had just completed and the other led to a short-cut to the main road.  We saw Kelly off and then gathered up our stuff and took some time getting back to the route to support her.  As we got on the highway, we kept an eye out for her.  It had been about 30 minutes since she'd started, so we figured we'd see her around mile 3.  She wasn't there.  We kept going.  At first, we thought, "wow, she's really fast on this downhill!" but as we kept going, we started to worry.  She wasn't at mile 4 or mile 5, and we knew that fast as she was, she couldn't have gotten further than that, so we turned around and went back, hoping that nothing had happened to her.  I said I hoped she hadn't gotten confused and run the last lap instead of this one but others reassured me that they'd probably clearly marked the course.  We then thought that maybe she'd been injured or someone near her had gotten hurt and she was helping?  Finally, we found Kelly just a little ways into the course.  She'd run the entire 2 mile trail loop before hitting the exchange again and realizing the mistake.  What was supposed to be 8.2 miles turned into 10.2 for her, and we tried to support her as much as we could, cheering her on.  I'd bought a sprayer at the garden shop before I left town (like the kind you put Round-up in) and filled full of water, it was welcome relief from the 5:00 afternoon heat.  We'd drive a few miles ahead, cross the road and spray all the runners coming down, then meet Kelly to provide anything she wanted (water and gatorade typically for our runners), then drive ahead a mile or so to repeat the process.


 Natalie, Me, Ellyn, and Meagan being supportive.  ;)

Kelly made the best of her extra-long run, and we joked that now we could say we were the only team who ran 200 miles instead of the 198 everyone else did.

The next exchange was at a gas station, so I ran in and bought a tub of ice cream and plastic spoons for our team.  It was a nice treat, though no one pigged out on it and we had lots left over.  Megan and Natalie had good runs and then while Ellyn was running, it was starting to get dark and I started to worry about my 8.2 mile leg that rolled upward 1000 feet.  On impulse, I asked Meagan if she wanted to switch legs with me, since I was worried about my knee.  She said sure, but I batted the idea around in my head for a bit, worrying that I'd hate myself for being wimpy, but also thinking that if my knee gave me problems, I would struggle all the way up that hill.  The fact that it was getting dark and I knew I'd be running that leg in the dark made me decide to switch. 

So I ran a 4.2 mile leg instead.  There was a few hills, but nothing too difficult.  My knee started hurting the minute I started running, though, so I was glad I'd made the decision to switch (and grateful Meagan is in such amazing shape she can take two very hard legs in a row on!).  I was able to run through the nagging pain and enjoyed the cool evening air while I ran.  The leg was through country roads in a small farming town and it was pretty.  I finished up in about 45 minutes, about 10:50 average pace again. 
Then for the next 8 miles, as I saw the steep rolling hills Meagan had to climb, particularly towards the end of her run, I felt a bit guilty, a lot grateful, and somewhat regretful.  I'd prepared for some uphill and I really wanted to test myself.  In choosing the easier leg, I had given up the "I conquered it!" feeling I'd been hoping for, but I also preserved my strength and running ability by not putting myself in the way of more serious injury.

Night Break
We hit the next major exchange point around 11:00 at night and we were all bone-tired by then.  It didn't help that the exchange was at a campground with a horrendous parking situation or that we had to drive what seemed like forever with pretty poor directions to the rodeo grounds in Oakley, Idaho.  Our van was quiet as we all felt the fatigue of being up since 3:30 in the morning and running twice.  As the miles passed and our destination seemed way too far away, I started to think to myself that I never wanted to ever be that tired again in my life.  I was never going to run another Ragnar, I thought.
The events of that night only confirmed that opinion.  We got to the rodeo grounds past midnight and I was so tired I grabbed my things, pulled on my jacket, set up on the lawn, pulled the sleeping bag over my head, and went to sleep.  I didn't stop to change or go to the bathroom or even find a way to brush my teeth.  I was out for a few hours until I woke up freezing cold all over my body.  I don't think I've been that cold in the last twenty years.  There was frost on the lawn near us and I checked my phone:  3 a.m.  I went to the van, where Kelly and Megan had slept and tried to warm up there, but it wasn't much warmer.  I spent an hour shivering there before heading over to where there was a pancake breakfast provided.  For $5, I got a few pancakes, a sausage, and some eggs.  I enjoyed some free hot chocolate by a fire there as I tried to get over the cold.
There was a physical therapy place there were I decided to get help for my knee, which was giving me pain every time I tested it in a short run.  The funny thing was, these PTs, who'd been seeing runners all night long and surely had seen tons of running injuries, were baffled about my calf and knee and what could be causing the problem.  Seems like whatever I've got is not a common running injury.  They let me use their stuff to stretch out my calf and roll out my injuries and I hoped it would be enough.  I knew I could handle my 2.1 mile leg, but I was hoping to switch for a harder leg.  Poor Megan's feet were covered in blisters and if my knee would let me, I would have loved to have taken her 7 miler that morning.  I did feel better after the stretching and foam rolling but not confident enough for 7 miles!  Megan did great, though, and we were all so proud of her as she tackled several tough, tough, hills on her poor, blistered feet.  I ran with her for a bit a couple of times and I enjoyed that.


Final Legs
We made the exchange with van 2 around 5 or 6 a.m. and Kelly, who'd taken the coldest leg and the longest leg of the day before, once again started us out strong in the cold.  It warmed up fairly well through the other legs.  Ellyn did awesome on her long downhill 6-miler.  Meagan joined her as a pacer and just to cheer her on as a sister.  By now, it was getting pretty hot, so once we were allowed leg support (some parts of the course are too narrow to allow the vans to stop), we enjoyed pulling out our sprayer and giving the runners some relief as they went by.

Pretty view of the Jordonelle Reservoir

Meagan and Ellyn getting ready to run Ellyn's leg:


 Megan after her final run.  This girl was awesome -- you'd never know her feet were a mess of blisters the way she smiled through all her runs!


Meagan flew through her 3 mile leg and then I finished up with my last leg, an easy 2 miler through the streets of Heber.  Partway in, I heard someone running up behind me.  I moved over to let the gal pass, but she stayed right with me for a bit.  I slowed down and suggested that we run together.  We did and enjoyed a fun visit.  Rachel is a 17-year-old who loves to run, but not competitively.  It was fun to talk to her and the miles passed pretty quickly.

And me, just before my last leg:
Finishing Up
It was awesome to be done and I was grateful not to be in van 2, which had run through the heat of the day on Thursday, through most of the night and then had to run in the heat again and tackle the famous "Ragnar" mountain at the end -- so steep that even experienced runners end up hiking it rather than running it.  It's broken down into two legs of about 4 miles each.  Both climb about 1600 feet in that distance.  We noticed that on our pace calculators (that estimated how long each leg would take our runners), it figured 80 minutes for those four miles.  After the steep climb, another runner drops 2400 feet in 8 miles into Park City, and the final runner does a lap around the "P" mountain there before finishing on the track at Park City High School.
Since it was around 11, our van started to look for something good to eat.  We were considering a restaruant in Heber, but found it was closed.  A quick internet search told us there was a Cafe Rio in Park City, so we headed there for lunch.  It was delicious, and I was so famished I ate more than I should have and felt a bit sick by then.  The Cafe Rio was near the Splash Pad, so we thought about using that to take a bit of a shower, since none of us had bathed since early Thursday morning.  But despite the hot sun, there was a cold and steady wind that nixed that plan.  We drove instead to the junior high where Natalie and I had left our cars.  This was now a parking lot for Van 2's last exchange, but the attendants let us in and we parked near our van and walked over to the high school to hang out and try to rest.  They had showers inside the school for $5, and I thought I'd do that, but after taking a wrong turn and getting lost, I figured I'd just forget it.  I found a bathroom and cleaned up and changed into clean clothes and that felt good enough.  The finish line was pretty noisy, with a live band on one end and piped music on the other, teams finishing up every so often, and a few free things being handed out (energy drinks with tons of caffeine and tea drinks (um, no), but also fat boy ice cream and Little Ceasar's Pizza (two free pizzas for every team after they finished).  Megan visited the first aid station to get her blisters bandaged.
After trying unsuccessfully to sleep at the finish line, I headed over to the van and took a short nap in the shade of the middle school.  It was quiet there and I needed the sleep.
When I got back, I had time to visit the first aid tent for two small blisters.  There were three people in there getting IVs at the time and I felt decidedly healthy in comparison.  I also went to the physical therapy tent to see what they would say about my knee problem.  Meagan told me she'd been around tons of runners for years and had never heard of my problem and the physical therapist here at first seemed as baffled as the one at the rodeo grounds that morning.  Finally, he told me the pain was more likely to be from perhaps some arthritis in my knee or some cartilage damage.

We met up with the girls from van 2 and hung out at the end waiting for our last runner to come in so we could finish together.  We finally found her and finished around 5:15.



 

We got our medals, posed for pictures together as a team, got our pizzas, and then four of us -- Meagan, Ellyn, Natalie and I -- headed over to clean out Van 1.  Kelly and Megan joined us after a bit.  It didn't take too long.  We had a lot of fun piling all the trash onto the ground and then placing Megan's blister-inducing shoes (which she'd had since high school) on the top for a picture.
Van 2 drove over to drop off Ashley, our team captain, who owned van 1.  We said our goodbyes and then headed home.  I was exhausted and slept as much as possible the next few days.  But it really was a ton of fun and I'd love to do it again, cold, freezing nights, no showers, sleep-deprivation and all.  Maybe in a few years.


 

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