Belated Touristy Tuesday: Return to SLC Edition

Touristy Tuesday is just a LITTLE late this week! Whoops – at least I got around to it eventually. This week we headed back to Salt Lake City, Utah to pick up where we left off two weeks earlier!

Our drive down from Boise was pretty uneventful, until we found ourselves in the Middle of Nowhere – literally.

The gas station owner definitely had a sense of humor at this place!

This place was part gas station, part “history” museum, and part petting zoo!

Just like the last time we pulled into Salt Lake City, we had a friend waiting for us. Matt, a character you might remember from Fresno, had flown out to meet up with us for a few days while he was on vacation.

Our first day off in Salt Lake City we checked something that off the Bucket List that we’ve been waiting to do for quite some time. Being in the Southwest, we often hear people say, “Ooh! The Wienerschnitzel car is here!” WRONG!! NO. NO. NO! And as much as we pridefully defend Oscar Mayer and the Wienermobile, a small part inside Abe and I has been secretly wanting to find out what these Wienerschnitzel wieners are all about! So with the Wienermobile off the hot dog highways for a bit, we walked on over to the nearby Wienershnitzel.

Stripped of all company apparel, we covertly ordered. Abe got the Junkyard Dog – complete with just about everything on the menu, which was delicious.

Yes – those are french fries loaded on top of an already loaded hot dog!

When I started Hotdogging and had to pick my nickname, I originally wanted to be Corndog Kelly – you know, because I like to ham it up! Legal turned me down though and so I was dubbed Cookout Kelly. On our undercover trip to Wienerschnitzel I figured why not be a real rebel, and ordered a corndog after my wishful namesake.

The friendly Wienerschnitzel employees had me try it with four different types of sauces too – ketchup, mustard, BBQ, and fry sauce. I can now report that if I’m going to eat a corndog, I’m going to dip it in BBQ! Fun fact though – most corndog enthusiasts actually choose mustard! (Who does that?!)

Once we had our fill of the competition, we braved SLC public transportation. Let me tell you, those Mormons may be classy, but public transportation is pretty scary no matter what city you’re in. The three girls surrounding us openly debated the benefits of “having a number” and going to prison over doing the time in a county jail.

We were dropped off downtown after our fun-filled bus trip and walked down to Temple Square. Finally!

We went into the visitor’s center, where we spoke to several missionaries, all women, That was pretty interesting.

We weren’t allowed in the temple since we didn’t have the necessary ‘Temple Recommend’

I really like Mormon’s – they’re so darn friendly and really not judgmental for being so zealous in their own religion. Plus, the first girl didn’t blush a bit when I asked about the special underwear! I did ask about their beliefs on homosexuality and another girl said that they are raised that it is corrupt outside influences that cause those feelings. She said SHE went through a stage when she was younger but her family and church helped her change. Then I abruptly, quite admittedly awkwardly and inexcusably forwardly, asked, “So are you attracted to men now?” Well, let’s just put it this way, she didn’t exactly say yes. So yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have asked such an overly personal question, but honestly I’m glad I did! haha!

While downtown we also walked around the City Center shopping area – where we stumbled upon a really neat, modern looking two story Harmond’s grocery store. Now one time Abe said to me, “Asking me to go grocery shopping with you is like asking me to go to hell.” If that doesn’t capture how much he hates grocery stores, I don’t know what does! But luckily it was 2-to-1 with Matt in the picture, and Matt and I went off to explore with shared enthusiasm.

It turns out that this grocery store actually has a cooking school on the second level and they had a class that very evening! I was THRILLED – what a fun thing to do! I really enjoy cooking but am not that great at it, plus the course was based on using herbs and spices – something I know nothing about.

Later that evening I returned and joined about 10 others for the class. it was really neat – there was a newlywed couple, a mother and daughter duo, an older married couple, and one other single girl. We spent the first half of the class learning about the differences between fresh and dried spices. Chef Adalberto was from Cuba and absolutely hilarious – he made the class that much more fun. “There’s a time and place for dried herbs,” he said, “the least amount of the time!”

After the group lesson we broke into smaller groups and each helped cook part of the menu for the evening. Fresh herb dressings to go on spring salads, smoke paprika chicken and garbanzo salad, and a marinated fruit salad with sorbet!

I even learned how to supreme and orange, which is like cutting it up grapefruit style – which I was terrible at!

The best part of the evening was eating, of course! Tyler was Chef Adalberto’s assistant and it was his last day because he was returning to school for vocal performance. He serenaded us over dessert with an opera song!

Talk about dinner and a show! They were both absolutely charming and I had a total blast on my single-gal night out!

Day two off in SLC we made the mistake of going to check out the Great Salt Lake AGAIN. You think we would have learned our lesson from our first visit, but nope! This time Abe, Matt and I ventured to Antelope Island, a state park that promised a great beach for lake swimming. When we arrived we were just thrillllled to hear from a family, “You’re in for one disgusting treat! There are a foot of flies out there!” Not deterred, we braved the sand barefoot. I’m not sure which was a worse choice, deciding to go out to the water in the first place or going out barefoot.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

We returned disgusted as promised, they were accurate with the foot of flies comment, and with sore feet. What a bust! On the plus side, I acquired one more stamp for the Park Passport. Naturally, I forgot it again and this one was on a post-it!

This is how we felt about the “Great” Salt Lake

That evening we continued to be tourists and went to the Tabernacle Choir Rehearsal at the Tabernacle in Temple Square. The organs and the choir were equally impressive!

Friday and Saturday were both busy work days for us, so we didn’t do too much adventuring after that, which was fine by me. I’ll be honest, Salt Lake has been fun to visit, but after two trips I’ve decided it’s not somewhere I’m dying to go back to – ESPECIALLY if you’re talking about the Great Salt Lake!

Sunday we took off to Boulder, Colorado, which I’ll blog about in the next Touristy Tuesday!

7 Days, 3 States and 50 MILES!!!

That’s right – GOAL. ACHIEVED! I finally had my first 50 mile week! Whoo!

The week started out in the great state of Idaho, where I did my 20 mile run before our drive that day. It was such a good run that I wanted to run my final mile sub 8:00. Didn’t quite make it, but I’ll take an 8:00 exact mile any day!

I did the 20 miles on the Greenbelt River Trail. I was only supposed to do 19 miles, but I just love that trail and was feeling good about it. Finished it off with a well-earned chocolate milk!

Work and Reward

That same day we drove into Salt Lake City, Utah –  we were back again for some absolutely stunning views!

Then, yesterday we rolled into Boulder, Colorado where I had the chance to finish out my miles for the week.

FIFTY FREAKING MILES!! Whoo!!

I celebrated with plenty of carbs throughout the week – both bread and beer! More on the rest of the adventures from the last seven days in tomorrow’s Touristy Tuesday post!

Touristy Tuesday: Salt Lake City, UT Edition

I already blogged about the most exciting part of my week in Salt Lake City – the Porter’s Half Marathon! Although that was certainly the highlight of the week, we still did some pretty fun things in the area. That being said, I’m grateful we’ll be back to Salt Lake because there are still lots of things on my bucket list for the area!

Our trip to Salt Lake City started off with a bang on that first day rafting and exploring! After that, we spent quite a bit of the week hanging out and just taking it easy. Recovering, if you will, from having so much fun the week before!

This week at work provided plenty of entertainment though. We were kept busy handing out whistles to the ample amounts of children present at all of our events – talk about some extensive families! (And I thought those families in the latino districts were big!)

Here’s what I can say about the people of Salt Lake City – they are unbelievably friendly and unbelievably blonde. I really just can’t get over how NICE everyone in this town is! And here I thought the Midwest was home to the most neighborly people.

It only took two days in town before I got my first Book of Mormon. The lady who gave it to me was a total sweetheart! She answered a lot of questions I had about Mormonism, some answers of which were quite shocking. For example, I asked if girls ever went on their own missions. She said they aren’t allowed to until they’re 21 and when I asked why she said they prefer the women to stay home and get married! Hey, at least she was honest. But that certainly explains why I kept seeing girls that looked my age stop by with 3 or more kids! I couldn’t get over how many children all these young couples have! There was definitely some culture shock there. What’s funny is that I grew up in a high school where all the teenage girls had kids, so this really shouldn’t seem that surprising. Just different contexts I suppose.

Thursday night we went out to dinner with Abe’s cousin, Rueben. He’s a professional soccer player. (Yeah, what?! No big deal!) He was in town with FC Dallas for their game against Real Salt Lake and we headed downtown to the new City Center shopping district for dinner. It seems like a pretty good shopping area, but I had already stocked up on all the sundresses I’d ever need in Fresno. It was pretty cool though to hear about Rueben’s life with soccer and traveling on the road.

Rueben also hooked Abe and I up with tickets to the game that weekend. It was my first MLS game, but really my first soccer game of any kind. Surprisingly, it was pretty fun – especially for not knowing any of the rules besides no hands! Haha!

The stadium definitely had a different feel to it than the football or baseball games I’ve been to. There was an entire drum section that kept the mood lively the entire game. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without those beats! We were in the minority, cheering for FC Dallas, but it was pretty exciting because they won!

Choreographed halftime routine of hundreds of high school dance girls. It was pretty impressive actually!

Saturday morning was the big Porter’s Half Marathon, which was definitely the highlight of the week for me. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I freaking love the running community. They are some of the coolest people you’ll meet! That’s why I love racing – it’s 100% concentrated with awesome people.

Sunday we just took it easy and packed up for the drive to Boise, which is where we are this week. I can already tell you this next week is going to be a good one! Look forward to some great running posts, a post about … CROSSFIT, and hopefully some fun touristy trips and nights out on the town. Rumor has it there is a club that has both a comedy show and dueling pianos afterward!

As always, any suggestions on where to go in Boise, what to eat, and who to meet up with while we’re in town?

Yee-Haw! A WINNING Race Report of the Porter’s Half Marathon in Utah

Yippie-Kay-Yay! This weekend I WON my age division at the Porter’s Half Marathon in Draper, Utah! That’s right – I won it! I’m still in shock!

This was an absolutely incredible race and I had so much fun that it just might be one of my top favorite race day experiences so far. (Nothing will top the Cincinnati Flying Pig, but what could top your first marathon?)

Ok, before I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning. I know I had been a little hesitant about this race. It was smaller and I signed up quite late. I was excited about the elevation map and the potential for medals, but really it was just going to be a training run for me. This totally turned around on race day.

The race began at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Draper, UT. They bussed runners from the finish line at the bottom up to the start. On the way up the bus stopped at the 10k start, which was literally a whole in the wall you have to run through – about 3′ wide that you would barely notice if you were running solo! I joked with the people on the bus that this was their last chance to switch races.

On the way up the girl I was sitting next to, Emily, also pointed out these huge houses. It turns out they were old polygamist compounds before they were shut down! Her husband does real-estate and they were able to take a virtual tour of the place and said it was eerie. I can only imagine! Only in Utah – right? This is exactly why I’m doing this Race for 50 States – you get to see the coolest, and craziest, things.

The race start was gorgeous! My blog about it being ‘bustling’ didn’t do it justice – eventually more people showed up and we had about 350 people ready to run. At the start I met quite a few interesting people, including one gentlemen from St. Louis. (He had a Go!St.Louis Marathon shirt on – how could I not chat him up?!)

I also met Todd and Kayla – a father and daughter doing their first half together. They were really nice and I love meeting people on their first race – it almost makes it feel like mine again! Kayla was in my age division and hearing that re-sparked my desire to compete for the division winner belt buckles.

As excited as I was to meet new people, I was also ready to get running! This was one race that I absolutely had to have start on time. I had it figured out to the minutes. Start at 7:00, finish around 8:56, and be out of the park by 9:15 (hoping to get some kind of ‘shower’ in during that time.) Of course when you’re counting on it, it never happens. Being the inaugural run, there was a little disorganization, but at 7:10 the race director gave us our pre-race pep-talk and we were off with a big “Shoot-Dang” and “Yee-haw”! I actually wasn’t too worried about it because all the rootin’ tootin’ fun cowboy talk kept me in good spirits.

I immediately noticed the elevation map wasn’t lying. Downhill we went! Around mile 1 we saw a sign for the Salt Lake City half marathon on September 1st and I joked with runners that it was time to sign up for that next! That joke is funnier with people who think running is ridiculous as it is, much less doing two half marathons in a month, but it’s no that ludicrous of an idea to runners who would actually do it! haha!

The first portion of the race was roadside and it was still open to traffic. I was a little worried about that, but all the cars kept a good distance. Without fail, I tried to get every single car to honk that passed by us. Even with a measly 10% success rate, I didn’t lose my enthusiasm and kept trying. Every honk was inspiring.

I spent miles 1-8 running with pretty much the same people. Leading the pack was a smoking hot middle-aged couple who would always say “sexy hill, sexy hill!” each “hill” we went up. I’m not sure why, as I know it was some kind of inside joke between them, but I loved hearing that and it really kept me going. I also ran with Chad, who was running with his brother. Chad had done Ragnar and was good at keeping the pace up for sure. His brother was a bit faster and left us in the dust early on. (I caught up to him and blew by him at 12.5 though!) And then I ran with Todd, who I met at the start. This guy was awesome! At one point there was a serious downhill and I said to the people around me, “alright, this is our chance to feel like Olympians!” and did the whole, “Wheeee – no hands!” enthusiastic run down. Well at that point Todd BLEW past me, sprinting down the hill. I called out, “I know what you’re doing…” and we raced to the bottom of the hill. Probably not the wisest decision mid-race but it sure was fun!

The second half of the race was on trails and it was a little less of a downhill grade. Because the group had thinned out it was a little bit lonelier. Along the way I met David, from France, who told me all about his next marathon – the Marathon du Medoc. It’s a 26 mile race with wine and cheese tastings at every mile. Does this belong on the Race Bucket List? I think so! I’ll have to save it until I’ve done all 50 states, but this is a race I definitely want to do!

Course support was great! I’ve gotten to the point in my racing now where I don’t need the crowds to cheer me on as much. I’m glad I started with bigger races, but now I know I can do it! Even still, any time along the way I saw families I always ran out of my way to go high-five them, even though they’re not for me! Also there were water stations every two miles, which is the perfect increment in my book.

The last three miles went by really quickly! There were some interesting sights – zebras and dinosaurs – oh my! At one point I ran back to get a picture of the zebra (for the blog!) and David from France remarked how crazy that was.

Too bad the photo of the Zebra still turned out terrible! This place had peacocks, billy goats, and might have even had a unicorn somewhere out of sight!

Here I was trying to PR, but took time to take pictures. My philosophy though is that I’m never going to sacrifice the moment for my time. I’d rather take all the pictures I want and come in two minutes later than not have any memories! (I think I take that from my mom who wanted to finish her marathon in under 5:00, but came in at 5:06. She said she wouldn’t take those six minutes of goofing around on the course back for anything. I totally believe in that!)

I’ve really been working on having a strong finish with the last mile being my best mile. The last mile of this race was great! You could hear the announcer at the finish from .5 mi away. I love that! Gives you that little extra push needed to get in. I also love passing that crowd at the end, knowing you paced yourself perfectly. Finish strong, but also finish on empty – that’s my goal. I never want to coast in on fumes! Right before I got to the finish I saw the Wienermobile in the distance – Abe was waiting for me at the end and had the horn honking as I ran in to the end!

I crossed the finish line and melted with excitement. The runners high was definitely coursing through my veins. There was a kiosk you could check your official results at and I plugged in my bib number. 1:50:10 – A new PR by more than 7 minutes!! And then right there in the Division Place – the number 1. HOLY. SHIT. I DID IT!!! I GOT FIRST PLACE IN MY DIVISION. Commence freak out immediately! Was I screaming? Yes! Was I in tears? Almost! I absolutely couldn’t believe it!!!

I was absolutely thrilled, but I knew there was a caveat – the course might have been short. Everyone I talked to had GPS readings of anywhere between 12.79-12.95. No one’s broke 13 though. So I knew that the PR probably wasn’t going to count in my book. While I wasn’t going to trust my time too much though, I knew we all did the same race, so I was still ridiculously excited about my division win. Having never even placed in my category before, this was a huge deal! I jumped up and down, hugged the race director, and then promptly hugged everyone else I knew from the race.

At the finish I tried to grab pictures with everyone I ran with along the way. I got almost everyone except for Todd! Bummer too because I ran with him the most!

Chad and his brother who kept me going the whole way! Beat them both out at the end though! :-)

After the all-out-hug-fest I grabbed some grub from their impressive spread from the Corner Bakery.

I wish I could have stuck around longer because there was quite a bit of fruit I wanted to stay for. Then I headed to the company car and did a water bottle shower, quick change, and then we hit the road! Talk about one hell of a way to start the work day!