Friday, March 16, 2012

Ragnar Del Sol

A couple of years ago I heard about this crazy race where you and eleven of your friends, pile into two vans, and run 200 miles.  Sounded like a great time!

I was so intrigued that I semi-stalked a lady in my local grocery parking lot because she had the Ragnar sticker on her minivan. Yep, she confirmed that it was a blast.

I had put thoughts of it out of my mind when my first running partner and friend Virginia emailed me. Her hubby, Clint, was doing Ragnar Del Sol again and they needed a twelfth person. I know how fast Clint is and how much he runs, there was no possible way they really wanted me on the team. Alas they were that desperate. After much debate and Clint telling my hubby (they work together) that they really didn't care how slow I was, I agreed to do it.

We had one team meeting and it was nice to put faces to names. There was a great deal of email communication and I felt very welcomed.

Three weeks before Del Sol I caught whatever bug the kids were passing around school. I stopped running and just tried to get well. The week before I was feeling better and went for a little run. The Wednesday before, I became sick again and Thursday I was in bed all day as sick as I could be.

Friday - Ragnar Day, I woke up feeling mostly better but still coughing like crazy and with a sore throat. I packed my bags and my hubby took me to the meet up spot. We loaded the six of us and our gear and were off.
Van 2
Almost everyone
Van 2 - don't we look clean and fresh? :)

So the way Ragnar works is van one, their six runners each run a leg, once they are done they hand off to van two and their runners run their legs, and then hand back off to van one, and so on until each runner has run three legs.                Since I was the slowest of the team I had the shortest legs. At first I was a bit embarrassed but after the first run being so sick I was thankful!

Day one of running was one of the hottest of the year so far and my first leg was on a dusty road. By the time I was done with those few miles my throat was on fire and I was wondering if I would make it.  My team was great and waiting at the end with cool water and wipes. I was never so happy to see the end.   

We ran and cheered and drove and ate. After our first legs were over we went to Macyo's for dinner and then headed to the next major exchange. It was at a community center that had showers and floor space to sleep on. The girls in the van found a quiet corner of the center and tried to get a couple hours of sleep. The two guys slept in the van and decorated it with glow sticks.  

Not our team but it was dark out there.

Before we knew it it was time to go again. I think it was around 2am. We sent off our first runner and got ready to drive out to cheer him on and make it to the next exchange. The second runner in the van was me. We drove and had to catch up to Matt, he was flying in the night! We got to the exchange and they were announcing "team 315 your runner is in!" I had to run to the shoot and to our exchange and I was off. 

This time I tried running with cough drops to help sooth my throat. It worked to a certain extent but produced a thick mucus that I had to spit out every few steps. It was either spit, choke, or not breath.  Mind you this is at about 3am, it's dark, and I'm trying to figure out where to go... the signage wasn't great at one turn so I followed other runners. Once I got into the rhythm of run, spit, and then breath, it was really nice. We ran through a neighborhood with horses and crested a little hill and could see the city lights. 

I finally made it to the end of that run and crawled into the back of the van. I did get out to cheer on another runner but after that I thought it would be better if I tried to rest and recover for my last run. My throat was killing me and I wasn't sure I'd make the last run. 

I woke up and we had arrived at our next rest station, which happened to be one of our teammate's in-laws. They were A-mazing! We walked in and they had towels laid out in the entry way. We grabbed towels and headed to the showers. After showering we were treated to fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, OJ, coffee, water, bagels, cream cheese, and muffins! 

I ate a little and went to bed. I never slept so well. We awoke refreshed had a little more to eat and were out the door to make the next and last exchange.  

My last leg was mostly downhill but in a good way, it was literally down hill. I felt much better and my pace showed it. At the end there was a slight up hill and my tummy started to show it's distress but I carried on and made the exchange. 
From there we cheered and drove, stopped at Subway, and finally made our way to the end.  When our last runner came into sight we joined with our van one teammates and several of the team's kids and ran across the finish line together.  
It was an amazing run. Tons of fun. Made new friends and I'd love to try it again and see what it's like when I'm healthy!

~Happy running

The Ups and Downs of Life

The end of January and all of February were crazy busy months of highs and lows. Thankfully the highs out weighted the lows.

In late January the aviation community lost a great man.  To me he was a mentor, an online-friend, and someone who always had an encouraging word. To many others he was so much more. My only regret is that I never got to meet him in person and we lived so close.  RIP Ken Calman...

Thank goodness there was an extra day in the already short month of February! I was preparing for Ragnar Del Sol at the end of the month and knew that I would solo soon.

On morning, shortly after hearing news of Ken's passing I headed to South Mountain Park to get in a good quality trail training run. As I was pulling into the parking area my phone rang. It was two ladies from AOPA calling about a scholarship application I had submitted. They said they had a few more questions for me and asked if it was a good time to chat. Of course it was a good time! We talked for a few minutes and then they said thank you.  I was expecting, "thank you, we will get back to you." Instead it was, "thank you, we have made our decision and would like to award the scholarship to you."

I was dumbfounded for a moment and said, "thank you," and then it started to sink in. We chatted a few more minutes and they said they would follow up with an email. We hung up the phone, I got out of my van, and proceeded to jump up and down saying, "YES! YES! YES!" I'm sure the golfers nearby thought I was a crazy woman.

The very next thing I did was call my hubby and a very close friend of Ken's and my friend Bonnie. I knew she would appreciate the good news and she has been so supportive of me. Next I called my friend Ginger who kept sending me links to scholarships and encouraging me to get my apps in. After the phone calls I had the best 6 mile trail run I'd had in a long time. I was running on air!

February 6, 2012 I soloed, that was most exciting!  I continued to fly and had a couple more solo flights. Then I got sick. There was definitely something going around. I recovered but hadn't done much running and Ragnar was a week away! I flew on the Wednesday before Ragnar and ended up sick again. Thursday I was really sick and slept all day.  Friday was go day for Ragnar. I will do a separate Ragnar post but that was an up and down weekend in itself.

In the middle of all of this my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (the photo is from our 20th).  Celebrated is a bit of an exaggeration, with busy kids, work, flying, and just life, our anniversary was more of an acknowledgement of our love and an evening at home.

All in all February was a good month and a reminder to not take people for granted. Drive across town if you have to, don't be too tired or whatever to take the time to spend with the people you love.

~Blue skies and tailwinds

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Like a baby bird leaving the nest...

...this aviatrix leaves the pattern.

Waiting on the ramp for arriving traffic
The day after my solo in the pattern I was scheduled to fly again. The plan was to go out to the practice area with my CFI, circle around, and bring him home. If I didn't screw up anything he would send me back out on my own.

The weather was great, not too much traffic, we went out and reviewed emergency procedures.  He asked me a few other procedural questions and we headed back to the airport. I dropped him off at CAS and made my call to get me back out to the practice area.

I took off and climbed, did a left turn and headed back to the practice area but this time alone!

Reached cruising altitude, straight and level flight
Look at me, I'm flying solo!

Heading back to the airport

Don't worry all the photos were taken with my point and shoot camera which I literally just held up and pushed the button. I'm surprised the photos turned out as well as they did since I was being a pilot not a photographer. ;o)

I arrived back at CHD, did two TNGs, landed and taxied back to CAS.  It was great up until I parked or rather attempted to park. I pulled up next to the building to try to get a spot and leave an open spot for the next person. I lost momentum, people walked out of the building, and by then I was at a weird angle. My CFI came out and game me the 'kill it' signal and we pushed the airplane back and maneuvered it around into its spot. So I need to work on parking.

~Blue skies and Tailwinds

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Flying Along

I started this little adventure the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2011. I have been motivated to fly as much as practical on the advice of many students before me. The more you fly, the less you lose between lessons. Of course what makes airplanes fly... Money! And contrary to popular belief money does not grow on trees.

However, I have been able to fly two to three times a week most weeks and am cruising along. In addition to the flying, my CFI (certified flight instructor) and I have also done some ground school to cover important information like what is safe and what is legal.

Saturday, February 4, 2012, my CFI and I went flying. We stayed in the pattern and did touch and goes (TNG). It was crazy busy. I was on a runway I hadn't really used much before, coming from a direction I'm not really use to, and crosswind I had not encountered before.  All good for learning.

After we were done he said that we would practice more next week and when I was ready I would solo. He endorsed my logbook and made sure that I knew what I needed to have in order to solo... logbook with endorsement, student license, and medical.

Monday! I went to CHD, preflighted the aircraft and off we went. It was calm, hardly any traffic, and I was on a runway and in a pattern I was really use to. On our third TNG he says, "do you think you are ready? I think you are ready."

"Um, sure, sure... umm." Very profound and confident, huh?

We talked about what was going to happen. He called the tower for the option and as long as I didn't mess up the next landing I would be going up Solo.

Everything went well. I dropped my CFI off on the ramp. Taxied back to the taxiway. Called for my clearance telling them that I was a student on first solo (ATC already knew that I was a student, we had requested instructor drop off on the ramp. So they were expecting me). I had to wait for landing traffic and then I was cleared to go.

I did three uneventful TNGs, watched a ground squirrel run across the runway as I rotated on my last TNG, landed, and taxied back to pick up my CFI. He congratulated me and gave me a high-five!

It was awesome! I loved seeing his smile and knowing that I did good.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Running Year in Review and Plans for 2012

I know, I know it's the last day of the first month of the new year and I'm just getting to this. Be happy, I still haven't mailed out my Christmas cards!

2011 my running goal was 1000 miles... total miles 1,053.14! Yea!

Mt. Lemmon - almost to the top!
Arizona Road Racers Desert Classic 1/2 Marathon
Aravaipa Running's Mesquite Canyon trail 1/2 Marathon
Mount Lemmon 1/2 Marathon

My running was a bit all over the place this year. Our trip to cooler country totally ruined me when we returned to the desert and 118* degree heat. Combined with distractions like school and now flying, my running has been taking a backseat to almost everything else.

The good, I am strength training with some consistency and am seeing gains.
The bad, not really running my plan.
The ugly, I'm up 18 pounds since this time last year, ewww, is that right??? Ugh, yes it's right. :(

The plan get rid of this 18 pounds!
Make a running plan and plan my flying and everything else around that. Running needs to be in the front seat!!!

So far I only have one event scheduled and that is Ragnar Del Sol. Since I'm the slowest on the team I have the least amount of miles. I feel really good about this though. I've been doing multiple runs and my longest distance is 4 miles, easy peasy.

I need to figure out what my running goals are. I have a milestone birthday this year and last year I had grand ideas but now I'm at a loss. Last January I ran 112 miles this January 57. :/

There are two things that are holding me back on entering more races; one the cost, with flight training I'm sinking every spare cent into that; and two I've fallen apart at the end of my training for most of my events last year. I performed fine I just sort of had a mental breakdown, it was especially bad before Mount Lemmon. So maybe I just need to run this year and not worry about races right now.

I am excited about Ragnar though and the team thing. Maybe this is what I need to get my racing spark back?

I think I will head out and do an easy 3 so I can at least hit the 60 mile mark for January. ;-)

Happy Running!

This Runner is Flying!

No really, literally, I am flying! 

So, I finally listened to my husband, who has been telling me to do this for the past 20 years, and started flying again, more about that in a minute. 

Rewind... it has always been a dream of mine to get my private pilots license (PPL). I'm not sure when or why the flying bug bit me, but I just have always wanted to fly. When I was young I thought the only thing a pilot did was fly for the big airlines, so that was my dream. 

When I was 15, for Christmas my parents gave me ten-hours of flight lessons at the Glendale Airport in Arizona. My instructor was amazing and said we would prepare me to solo in that time. I did solo in just under 10-hours, the day after my 16th birthday. I was in love, not only with flying but my instructor too. ;)

He went on to fly for an airline and I moved on to a new instructor. The new instructor and I did not see things the same way. I didn't understand him and where he was coming from. His teaching style and my learning style just didn't click. Shortly after getting the new instructor my mother had a health issue that stopped my flying. I missed going to the airport, I missed flying, but dreamt of returning one day. 

Fast forward a few years... I married into a hot air ballooning family. What fun! Ballooning has been a great environment to raise our kids, and the side benefit of crewing you can take lessons too! I did take lessons and was close to soloing but a life insurance thing conspired against me.  

Fast forward again... brings us to November 2011, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and my first flying lesson, again.  This time I am at the Chandler Airport still in Arizona, flying with Chandler Air Service. 

It was very surreal to be back in the cockpit and the right seat. My instructor this time is a very nice young man (gee I feel SO old).  I've been away from it for so long I'm starting over, and now that I'm older and  *cough, cough* wiser, I think I know too much of what can go wrong. However, we are working on that and I think I'm getting better. 

The goal is to get my PPL then work my way to my CFI (certified flight instructor).  Between the PPL and the CFI I hope to get involved with several different groups that help out around our state. For example, there is a group that transports people and/or medical supplies and a group the relocates homeless animals that are being adopted. Besides that it's fun to fly to different airports and meet up with other aviation enthusiasts and have breakfast!

Tailwinds and Blue Skies...