Sunday, October 10, 2010

12 June 2010

My best friend Jill is incredible. Not only does she have numerous qualities that I admire about her but she's a hard-core runner. She won't admit it but I really think she is. Jill has run four marathons--and I think that is outstanding.

I have wanted to be like Jill. So when I suggested one night that we should run a half-marathon together she got excited. And then I got more excited. And then we started talking wildly about training for a half-marathon in the summer. And while Grant sweetly encouraged us, Josh just looked at me incredulously and laughed. Why do spouses need to know your bad habits of procrastination and minimal self-motivation? And his laughter strengthened my fury and fire of desire....for a month. I don't remember exactly during which winter month Jill and I had decided to run the race but I remember thinking I had plenty of time to train and that it was too cold to start right then.

Once it started warming up outside, Jill and I ran more frequently together. But then it started getting hot... Well, you get the picture. Our training may not have been consistent but it was enjoyable for the most part. I enjoyed listening to Jill talk and talk and talk while I puffed along beside her. And I think she enjoyed our extra long cool-down walks as I responded to everything she talked about while we were running. Running through Provo was beautiful. We went through cemeteries, by old historic houses, up through new neighborhoods and parks, and once up 1/20th of the trail of Y mountain (that one didn't work out so well). Jill helped to make training fun.

And I certainly wished that we had done more of it when the phone alarm went off at 3:30am on Saturday, the 12th of June. I'd had this date on my calendar circled a thousand times. But when the alarm went off I realized, "Why was I ever looking forward to this day?" The feeling of dread was worse than walking to the testing center, worse than getting pricked by a needle, worse than...eating beans. I knew that agony would come but I didn't know how and I didn't know when.

It was a cold, wet, and anxious morning for Jill and I. She came over not long after I woke up and we drove through the misty rain together to Provo Towne Center Mall. We took a quick picture together (in case we would never have another again) and loaded onto the buses, armed with bananas and bagels. Someone up above was watching out for us as we realized at nearly the last minute that we were standing in line for the bus headed to the full-marathon starting line. We leaped out of line and stumbled through the crowd to find the correct bus. As my mama had told me while she drove me to the MTC and as we watched buses of fresh, excited missionaries leave the parking lot, "This reminds me of groups of people tricked by the Nazis into going to concentration camps." I felt uneasy on the bus as we slowly drove up University Avenue to Provo Canyon. I had alternating surging needs to vomit and go to the bathroom. Jill, who's slightly nervous face brought me a little comfort, danced her feet on the bus floor with anxiety.

The bus made a u-turn just south of the tunnel in the canyon which was just south of the turn off to Sundance Resort. Lined along the walls of the canyon were multitudes of portable potties. And nearly twice the length of the Great Wall of Potties was the urgently dancing line to get into them. Jill and I managed to find two empty stalls and then headed over to the moving truck where we tossed in our bags carrying our personal belongings (again, reminding me of something at a concentration camp). We tried to squeeze as close as we could to the fire pits while we punched holes in the garbage bags we'd kept with us. They were noisy bags but protected us from the chilly wind and mist coming through the canyon.

Finally it was time to line up....and wait. The anticipation was driving me mad. I kept thinking, "I'm freezing! What am I doing out here? It's so stinkin' cold and ridiculously early! What am I doing out here?!!" The start time of the race kept getting pushed back which made us all a little anxious. Eventually it was time for the countdown and the crowd of us were pumped and ready. "!" And then we stood there. What would it take to be able to get a whole crowd to move at once? Finally we were able to start a little shuffle and then a trot as we crossed the Starting line and began the race.

It was beautiful. The sun was barely beginning to lighten the sky so the mountains were still dark and cozy. We swished, swished, swished our way further up the crowd. People gave us dirty looks for having such noisy garbage bag ponchos but they were retaining heat and keeping most of the drizzle off. Jill and I ended up taking them off around the 2 mile marker. After that the run was even more beautiful and quiet! For me, it was the most incredible run I'd ever experienced. It was peaceful and made me feel connected to everything yet isolated at the same time. It was special.

By mile 4, it wasn't so special. I was really starting to question why people did this for fun. I was getting a little tired and just sick at the idea that I was less than 1/3 the way through the race. But Jill pushed us on. We straightened our posture and made extra determined looks as we passed the photo site. We pumped our fists as people cheered for us along the grassy area in front of Riverwoods. The worst part of all, though, was passing people. Now, we did a fair share of walking (thanks to Jill's patience with me) but when we'd start up again she would make me push along further. In her terribly sweet voice she'd say, "Now, let's try and catch up to that group up there....See if we can pass this girl in the green...Let's catch up to that guy in black." It was so frustrating. I wanted to turn to her and say, "No Jill. I'm not running any harder, not opening my stride any further--I am happy where I am. Actually, I'm just planning on finishing the race on my feet and not a stretcher." But I'd follow her (sometimes a bit behind) and we would pass people. We could do it! I can think of only a few people who managed to pass us.

One of the mile markers had a table of bananas, oranges, Powerade, and water for us. Jill suggested that I eat an orange but they were cut in wedges and I prefered to eat my oranges sliced and I didn't want my saliva to get all thick inside so I couldn't breathe and wait, why did I grab one, I'd put it in my mouth and OH MY HEAVENS THIS IS DELICIOUS! I devoured that poor orange slice like it was a turkey leg on Thanksgiving, a plate of spaghetti after fasting, a Burger Supreme gyro after logging in 39 miles of biking/running (images of Gollum eating fish on Lord of the Rings should come to mind). That orange slice was the sweetest bit of heaven I had ever tasted and its goodness renewed my energy.

Not long after we were crossing University Parkway and then the Flower Basket boutique, and then Zions Bank on the corner of 200 North. I was very tempted to simply turn left and run straight back to the house. My legs were on automatic but they felt weird. They were tight but felt close to Jell-O. But I realized that we were almost there. I had run over nine miles already. I was doing this! And then I began to get choked up. I was proud of myself for having made it so far. I was happy to be able to share this with Jill. And I was thankful for our healthy bodies. I became so emotional that I couldn't breathe well with my throat constricting and it was really slowing me down. So I did my best to control my emotions but there were several times afterward that I got caught up in the moment, in the emotion as I accomplished my overwhelming goal.

The worst part of the race came around mile 10. I was dreading the gigantic bridge over the railroad tracks. We were so close to the end but it really did feel so far away. I felt awesome running in front of all the people lined along the streets but I was about done with the whole race. Jill continued to push me and we braved ourselves for the bridge.

To my extreme delight we found Craig waiting by the lamp post at the base of that dreaded bridge. He whipped out his camera as we ran by. It made me so happy and filled me with renewed determination to persevere (that and somebody was now watching me so I had to run well). Jill continued to push me and we continued to pass people. The entrance to the mall was a lot further than I had anticipated and I was starting to get frustrated. It was even more frustrating to have to run all the way around the front parking lot so we could pass in front of the main entrance to the mall. But as soon as we turned the last corner and I could see the Finish line ahead I took off at a sprint. I wanted for it to be done and, most of all, I wanted to beat Jill. It would have just been the cherry on top to have gone all that way and smoked her at the last leg. But to my shock and worriment, Jill kept up. It took her a split second before she realized what I was doing and she immediately turned on her burners. I tried my hardest but in the end it literally was a photo finish. Both of our legs were in stride crossing over the line. (The time posted on the internet showed that Jill beat me by 1/100th of a second--her foot with the sensor crossed before mine.)

The whole experience was made worthwhile after I was able to get my chocolate Creamy popsicle. We meandered around, picking up our medals, snatching up plates of pizza slices or Red Robin fries. Grant and Craig found us and we chatted with them through clattering teeth. Jill and I were freezing! After pictures and lots of laughs everyone left and I stayed to get a quick little rub down at the massage tables. Then I went home and had a nice, long hot shower. I had completed a half-marathon and it was an incredible feeling and I was able to share the whole thing with my great friend Jill!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

That one time when I was in the car with Grant and Jill for 25+ hours



I don't know how common it is to enjoy every minute of an eleven hour car ride but with Grant and Jill Ensign every moment was entertaining! We drove up to Portland to visit Josh over Memorial Day weekend. The drive from Provo to Boise and through Eastern Oregon was one of the most fun roadtrips I've been on yet! Whatever self-built barriers we had prior to the trip were obliterated as we slowly lost our minds on the long drive. We talked, listened to music, played games, teased Grant about losing every ABC game we played, sang numerous songs really loud, talked some more, giggled, then giggled uncontrollably, then started crying... It was a hilarious drive up to Portland!
The last few hours were rather intense for me. I was anxious to see Josh (since I hadn't seen him for four weeks) and I was anxious for Jill as she bravely drove along the Columbia River Gorge in a downpour. She safely got us to the hotel where we met Josh. I was so happy! After settling into our rooms we let the GPS guide us to a good place to eat--Buffalo Wild Wings. We hungrily devoured our food and caught one of the NBA playoff games. Afterwards, we drove across the Willamette to tour around Portland and check out the Rose Festival carnival. We spent most of the time driving around in circles trying to get to the place we wanted to park. We awkwardly snatched the spot and walked in the drizzle down to the water front. The whole park was covered in mud. Jill was picking her way through in her new white tennis shoes and I was climbing up Josh to avoid getting my sandals sucked into the mud pits. We were cold and damp but the carnvial lights were beautiful and helped make the whole adventure fun. We found a little zoo where they displayed a huge porcupine, a gigantic Bengal tiger, a juvenile lion, and a super creepy reptile room. The boys spent a lot of time in the reptile room while Jill and I stared in amazement (and suspense) at the tiger. It was being kept in a cage of pencil-thin metal bars and plastic tie-downs. It didn't seem very stable or safe--so we stood there and stared anyways.
The main event we were waiting for at the Festival was the Lighting of the Bridge, the Lighting of the Rose, and the fireworks. We stood huddled in a fairly small group as we waited for the highly anticipated Lighting of the Bridge. The four of us couldn't wait to see beautiful white lights draped along the bridge or whatever stunning decor the city had planned. At the end of the countdown, the bridge we were looking at on our right didn't change. We looked around and followed the stares and pitiful "OOooos" to the bridge on our left whose concrete pillars were being teased with fading lavendar, rose, and blush colored lights. It was a huge disappointment. But it prepared us for the Lighting of the Rose behind us which was nothing but flipping the switch to the neon lights. Lame. So we were ready to leave before the fireworks even started. It must be noted that Grant and Jill are firework conessieurs and we've learned our lesson from taking them to firework shows that don't meet their high standards and expectations. I so badly wanted to electrify them with my beloved Portland city and felt that a lame show would start them off with a horrible impression desperately in need of redemption. Well, redemption was able to save its grace for another day because the fireworks show was off the hook! The lameness of the previous events was directly related to the 1% of the budget used for non-firework displays. They shot incredible fireworks from off of a boat in the river for 45 minutes! Grant and Jill were actually getting tired of the spectacular but long show. The four of us cheered loud for the big ones, hoping to put an end to it so we could get out of the cold rain but the fireworks had the Energizer bunny as their champion. We endured and were grateful.
The next morning we drove to Shari's (one of my favorite places to eat on the mission) and played Go Fish while we waited for breakfast. The food was not so great but they serve pie there 24 hours a day so it made up for the tasteless forkfulls of breakfast--even though we never ended up ordering a slice of pie. After breakfast we drove to Multnomah Falls (another one of my favorite places). Again, we walked around damp and cold from all the spray coming off of the water. The waterfall was so beautiful and definitely worth it. Grant and Jill hiked to the very top while Josh and I enjoyed some time together on a bench in an outlook.
We then drove back across the river and made our way around town and up to Washington Park. We walked around the Rose Gardens enjoying the soggy sunshine. While the dad in Jill made her want to hike to the top of Multnomah Falls, the dad in me made me stop at every rose bush and take pictures. The gardens were filled with stunning rhododendron bushes and rows and rows of rose bushes (I'm rather tickled by that line). After meandering through the gardens we drove through the gorgeous hillside neighborhoods and made our way down to 23rd Street for some incredible window shopping. We found a beautiful dress shop, a thrift store that left us with a bad feeling we couldn't put our finger on, kitchen stores, furniture stores, and a soap store celebrating a grand opening with a band, finger food, and wine. The placed was fun, festive, and packed. We stayed long enough for Jill to have an awkwardly large glob of lotion spill down her pants and shoes. Then it was on to lunch at Pizza Schmizza for delicious margharita and meat-lovers pizzas, embarassing videos, and lots and lots of laughs.
We spent the evening driving to the Oregon Coast and picking out the perfect camping spot at Cannon Beach. Josh and I had camped there two years earlier on our first wedding anniversary. Now we were celebrating our third year anniversary and couldn't have picked better company. The four of us set up our tents and then wandered down to the beach. It was a nice, chilly evening on the coast which made a hot chocolate treat aftwards a perfect ending to the night.

The next morning it rained so we all crammed into one humid and stinky tent to watch Wall E on a computer. When we woke up again we headed down to the beaches to walk around. Josh took the opportunity to astound us all with his knowledge of sea creatures and their scientific names. It was neat to listen to him tell us every detail he knew about each jellyfish, crab, seaweed, seal, sand dollar, and sea star. The beaches went on for miles and miles (as most beaches do). It was really nice to be able to spend that quality time with Josh just meandering up and down the beach. We were going to have our lunch of hot soups with bread and brie (provided by Safeway) on the beach but we decided to grab a warm, dry hotel room and eat it there instead. The hotel room was nice except for the fact that the room decor was hideous (I'm changing my major to hotel decor) and the hotel was next to a store with a giant picture of Bigfoot on it. Despite the numerous songs I made up of Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Harry from Harry and the Hendersons on the drive up to Oregon, I really am scared of finding it. He's creepy and ugly. I hate him--and was teased constantly about it throughout the trip.

The next day, after spending a pleasant night enjoying the sound of rain from inside our warm hotel room, we walked around the shops and candy stores of Cannon Beach and Seaside. The climax was eating at Mo's for dinner. One of Josh's favorite traditions is eating a heaping bowl of hot, sandy clam chowder at Mo's. I became converted when we came out to the Coast for our two years ago and now we were happy to share the tradition with Grant and Jill.

The trip was too short but we had a really great time. I've never laughed so hard, so often! One of the highlights was making Grant nearly throw up from laughing so hard! Oh...good times. We left Josh in Portland to wait for his ride down to Coos Bay, four hours south of Portland. Actually, we said our goodbyes at the Best Buy which made us think it was just like the BuyMore from the TV show Chuck. That made the goodbyes seem cooler and more bearable.

The drive back to Provo was a little sad but still pleasant nonetheless. Grant and Jill deserve kudos for driving the eleven hours straight home. It was exhausting for all of us but made for a happy ending to a happy weekend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bijou Market Spring 2010

The Bijou Market was held on the 5th of June this year. I love the Saturday market feel of the craft show. For the most part, the creators try to keep it relaxed and enjoyable. It's good if you want something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon; it's bad if you want your handmade goods snatched up in a shopping frenzy.

This spring it was held at the Cherry Hill mansion in Orem again. The booths were set up throughout the orchard. In the center the organizers had placed large patio chairs, blankets, floor pillows, and magazines so you could relax and enjoy the afternoon. Just behind the craft fair was a roped off area for the owner's horse to meander around. The atmosphere was picturesque!

Grant, Jill, and I worked hard to creatively display the onesies, shirts, pennant banners, canvas boards, and tea towels. I think we did a great job with what we had to work with. I couldn't have pulled it all off without Grant and Jill. They were lifesavers!

Monday, August 9, 2010

While He Was Gone: St. George and Las Vegas

While Josh was frolicking through the rocky tide pools of chilly Coos Bay, I made a solo trip down to visit some of my best girlfriends. With plenty of snacks, my favorite music (don't even be embarrassed that I brought my NSYNC cds), and a trusty GPS, the four-hour drive wasn't so bad.

I first stopped in St. George to meet up with my old college buddy, Pacha, and her fabulous new roommates. They were all so amiable and funny. Pacha and I stayed up talking outside, catching up on everything. It was really nice to talk for hours and cover all that's happened in the last four years. The best part, I have to say, was when she showed that the baseball fields they used for filming the second High School Musical movie were right across the street from her house! I may or may not have giggled like a 7th-grade girl as she later gave me a tour of the resort, pool, and golf course where they filmed a majority of HSM2. So great!

The next day we went to the St. George temple together. As we were walking in, I ran into my first mission president and his wife who I hadn't seen in five years. The Westons were so nice to remember my name. It was exciting to see them again.

Our session was wonderful. It was really neat to be in a gorgeously decorated 140-year old temple and to think about all the incredible people who built it and the amazing things that happened inside.

Rachel and I took pictures outside and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day. The temple looked like a cake! I love that Pacha and I are both wearing glasses. There are so many good memories with the Martels and their eye glasses...

On Saturday afternoon I drove another two hours down to Las Vegas to visit Josh and Willow Batt. They gave me the royal treatment while I stayed with them. We went out to dinner at a new sushi restaurant near their home. There were about a hundred different kinds of rolls and they all had scandalous names. I won't even tell you what some of the names were but it made the menu a rather entertaining piece of reading material. After our delicious dinner we walked around the outdoor malls. The three of us strolled into my favorite store, Anthropologie, where Willow came across a flowering pot that she had created. Apparently she didn't realize that her work was being showcased in the window display of Anthropologie! Willow is such an amazing artist/designer/creator/iceskater/cook/yogini/decorator/photographer/choreographer/model/woman. I love being around Willow because she's an inspiring person to be with. Some people have a certain place they like to go to where they think and find refreshment; my place is anywhere with Willow.
Later that night we went to Whole Foods Market and bought cacao powder, coconut oil, and almond butter to make homemade chocolate. It was delicious and literally melted in our mouths. The rest of my weekend was spent hiking around the red rock, playing games with their friends, coloring and drawing with Willow, sweating through a fantastic yoga class (taught by Willow, of course), having thoughtful conversations, going for a trot through the nature preserve, driving around the Strip, eating good food, and watching Willow practice her graceful ice skating routine. It was so nice to be with the Batts again. They are great friends!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New York, NEW YORK!

At the beginning of May I went on a Girl's Trip with the ladies of my In-Law's family. Kim, Dana, Ashley, and I flew out of Salt Lake City to meet up with Lucia, Angela, Judy, and Anna in New York City. I was a bawling mess in the airport since I was leaving Josh a few days before he drove out to the Oregon Coast for the next six weeks. For me it was heart-wrenching. We had been side-by-side for the past two and a half years. The last time he left it was only for a weekend trip to Georgia. So this separation was a big deal for me.

But Josh made his absence a lot more bearable with a little surprise when I arrived at LaGuardia. I turned my phone on after we got off the plane and I discovered that I had a very sweet text message from him. Having a text on my phone was a foreign concept for me. As it turned out, Josh had added texting to my plan so we could communicate more frequently. I almost started crying all over again! It was so sweet and I immediately felt more connected to him.

Outside of the airport, Kim picked up a taxi cab for us. I'd never been in a cab before. And our driver was crazy! He was flying in and out of lanes, speeding through intersections, and everything else you might expect from a big city driver. I'm sure that our driver was like all the other NYC cab drivers but it felt like a roller coaster ride for me.

We spent our first night at the Belvedere hotel. It was old and regal and beautiful and fabulous! The four of us dropped our bags in our room and took off to grab a bite to eat. We found Carves and grabbed a slice of pizza. After our late-night snack we walked down to Times Square. I'd forgotten how crazy Saturday nights on Times Square could be. We meandered over to where our hotel for the next night would be (where we should've been staying tonight had it not been completely booked) and found the area all taped off with yellow police tape. People were crowded behind the barricade and I thought we were all gaping at a movie set. We asked one tall man what was going on and he said, "Umm, I'm not quite sure but there are rumors that there's a bomb." Oh...And we're all standing around staring at it. We kind of laughed incredulously and moved on. Back at the hotel room, we turned on the TV to discover that there had been a car bomb. Through the rest of the week the story unfolded to be the terrorist bomb that hadn't ever detonated. Faisal Shahzad was arrested days later just before his international flight took off. It was hard to believe that the whole thing was a real threat--it seemed too much like a movie.

Other than the bomb threat, the week was simply delightful and rather incredible! I could honestly say, "What didn't we do?!" Here's the list:

-breakfast at delis with romantic flowers along the outside wall
-gorgeous views from our 32nd floor room of the Marriott Marquis
-St. Patrick's Cathedral
-American Girl store
-Trump Towers
-Rockefeller Center
-Billy Elliott at the Imperial Theatre
-Museum of Modern Art
-lunch on a bench in Central Park
-carriage ride through Central Park
-hiding out from the rain in the Plaza Hotel
-Etsy craft night in Brooklyn
-5th Avenue shopping
-yoga class (with Elvis music) at Broadway Dance Center
-watching Ashley's dance classes at BDC
-The Cloister
-scary Canal Street
-fabulous shops like Madewell and Lululemon
-In the Heights starring Corbin Bleu
-"Top of the Roc" at night
-Ellis Island
-Statue of Liberty
-Battery Park and the Financial District
-Magnolia Bakery
-George Washington's pew and the 9/11 memorial in St. Paul's Cathedral
-Metropolitan Museum of Art
-seeing Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester) from GLEE at the Italian restaurant
-South Pacific at the Lincoln Center
-working out in our fabulous 11th floor gym
-another bomb threat on Friday
-reading The Lost City of Z in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis with my hazelnut/toffee steamer and fruit, cracker, and cheese platter from Starbucks
-Ashley freaking out about seeing Oprah, Gail, and Denzel Washington after his play
-stalking Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife into the elevator as they got out of their taxi cab
-picking up almost a dollar in change from off the streets