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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Perspective

Perspective is what you get when you've had time to be away from something for a while. To look back on it and ponder. I guess you could say that's what I've been doing for the last 2 months. Has it really been that long? *Sigh* Even with time passing, and perspective gained, there is still a sadness and a sort of depressing wishfulness attached to my memories of Ironman St. George.  I know I did my best...yet I didn't get to finish. I had an amazing experience...but it was horrible at the same time. People tell me they're so proud of me and that I'm an ironman...but I can't fully let myself believe it or take any praise. I know the journey is the reward. I truly know that. And my journey was AMAZING! And yet...no "reward" to take home with me. No memories of crossing the finish line and crying while hugging my family and friends. No medal around my neck. No memory of the announcement: "Jenny Crandell, you ARE an Ironman!"  Only wishful thinking that it could have been different.  I don't mean for this to be a sad post, I just simply want you to know why it's taken me so long to get back to blogging, and to tell you my story.  I was sad. I still am sad sometimes. But I'm OK. So...here's what happened, from start to finish. (Fair warning, it could be lengthy!)

Before I even left for Utah I was really emotional. I kept tearing up at every little thing. I was happy and grateful and appreciative and nervous all rolled into one, and that makes for an emotional roller coaster no one needs to be on! :) My students (did I ever mention that I had the BEST class in the whole world last year??) threw me a little surprise going away party with lots of cards, balloons, a basket full of great things, and a million hugs! I cried (see above re: emotional roller coaster), and they all promised to be praying for me and watching my progress online. Then that night my young women class from church brought me over a basket full of goodies and a big poster with notes all over it. Yep...cried again! I was just so overwhelmed with everyone's love and support for me. I knew that with all the prayers and well wishes and good thoughts coming my way, NOTHING could stop me from crossing that finish line. Not only did I not want to disappoint myself - I didn't want to disappoint anyone else!
My sweet class!
I got to St. George on Tuesday night. I was lucky enough to stay with Dan Vincent and his adorable family, along with Sarah Hankel (2 of the captains) in a really nice house he had rented. It was perfect! We checked in to the Ironman village on Wednesday morning, and I'm telling you - I sort of felt like a rock star. :) It was surreal in a way. A year before I had been there as a volunteer with the opportunity to sign up for a race that was a YEAR away...and now that whole entire year had passed! How had that happened?? It was definitely a different experience to be there as an athlete.  You get a wrist band that must be kept on at all times as your ticket into everything, you get your number tattooed onto your body (which sort of makes you feel cool when you're going around town because everyone knows you're racing in the ironman...you're actually racing in that crazy thing! And you deserve to be there...that's how I felt). I walked around looking at everyone else and wondering if they felt as nervous as me, and as out of place. I wondered if they were looking at others and then second guessing themselves like I was. I had all those thoughts, and yet secretly in the back of my mind I really did think there was NO WAY I wouldn't finish this thing. I knew I had trained enough. And I knew I was ready. But it was still scary!

During those couple days leading up to the race we didn't do much working out. We did go to the Sand Hollow Reservoir to swim in the water Wednesday and Thursday morning. HOLY CRAP! 56 degrees is COLD!  The first day it was really windy, so the water was cold and seriously choppy! Kind of freaked me out a little. But once we got swimming it was fine. My face and hands were certainly numb, though!

Dan, me, Vic, Tiffany, and Annie
 We got our bags that we were supposed to fill up with whatever we would need for each transition and special  needs area, and we did lots of talking and strategic planning as we filled those up.  Thursday night was the athlete's dinner, and they had a program prepared for us. It was fun to see the videos and be part of this HUGE crowd of athletes all here to do the same thing. The athlete meeting after the dinner kind of freaked me out a little with all the talk of time cut offs and medical needs, and violations, etc. But it was still a good evening.
Friday came, and with it...SERIOUS freak out mode for me. Up until this point I had not really been that worried, and had just been more excited than anything to finally get to this race that I had been training for for so long.  But Friday morning we had to have our bags completely packed and then turned in to the transition areas by 3:00.  Here is where it gets bad...I had been using Carbo Pro as the fuel I put into my water to give me calories and carbs on my long rides.  I had also been eating Clif bars and Shot Bloks as energy sources. They had started making me sick to my stomach, so I had been trying new things (which is a NO NO when you are doing a race of this size. You don't change ANYTHING, especially the day of the race).  I had never used electrolyte tabs in my water.  When I left to Utah I was flying, so I didn't bring the giant bottle of Carbo Pro with me because it didn't fit in my suitcase (well, it probably could have, but I didn't want to put it in there). I knew Troy was driving up with the kids on Friday, so I would just get it from him then. Unfortunately I didn't realize that I had to have everything already turned in to transition by Friday afternoon...and therefore, my Carbo Pro was NOT available when I needed it. I should've just bought a new thing, but it's $35.00 and I didn't want to spend the money.  So when Friday morning came around and Sarah and Dan had their bags completely packed and ready to go, and I didn't, I just freaked out. I started sobbing uncontrollably and completely doubting my sanity in even signing up for this race. I could not stop. I was scared to death. And I was unprepared. What was I thinking???

After quite a while I sort of calmed down and Dan told me I should just mirror his nutrition and use his stuff. (BIG NO NO ON DAY OF RACE!!!)  I had no other options at this point, so that's what I did.  I got my bags ready and we were off to turn them in to transition. We BARELY made it before the 3:00 cut off.

After that he dropped me off at the hotel where I finally got to see my family.  Insulindependence had planned a big dinner that night for all the athletes and their families, as well as our triabuddies and their families.  It was great to see London (my buddy) and her family!  They had awards for each of us, and it was really a nice evening.  My sister Dana came up to cheer me on, and she and I sang the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked at the end of the evening.  I made it through without crying, which I didn't think I could do!
London and me!





That night my dad gave me a blessing that all would go well with my ironman, and I said lots of prayers.  I didn't sleep A BIT. Not one single tiny little bit. I even took 2 melatonins...but it didn't matter. I was wide awake.  I had been receiving text messages and emails all day from friends and family, and I was feeling so loved and supported. It was great.

I "woke up" Saturday morning at 3:30 am, and I was surprisingly completely calm.  All the fear from the day before was gone. I was excited, and I was ready.  I knew all my hard work from the last year was about to pay off, and I could not wait!  We ate breakfast at the hotel, my blood sugars were good, and we got on the bus to take us to the starting area.  It was exciting to see everyone there getting their bikes ready, checking last minute things in their bags, and waiting in the LONG lines for the bathrooms! :)  (I made it JUST IN TIME to get my wet suit on and get in line!)
This is what the bikes looked like at the transition area. This was when we dropped them off the day before.

Annie (who finished), Dan (who was sent to hospital with BS of 600 +), and me before starting race

Touching up my tattooed number 197
Walking down the chute to the water with Sarah, Andrea, and Dan was one of the greatest moments of the day.  I was smiling and happy and excited. I felt great! (I was thirsty...really really thirsty...and that would play into the whole day going wrong, but I didn't know it at the time).  I took some drinks from Sarah's water bottle, wishing I had more, and then we were in the water.


I'm the one in the pink cap looking up :)

Since I'm a strong swimmer I decided to make my way up to the front of the group.  The water was freezing cold. Like 58 degrees.  But I had on my wet suit, a neoprene cap as well as 2 regular caps, neoprene booties, and ear plugs.  I was just fine!  I'm telling you what, though...NO ONE prepared me for the craziness of an ironman start.  HOLY SHNIKES!  I'm a strong swimmer, remember?  It didn't matter. It was CRAZY in there!  I was scared and panicky because people were ruthless. They just swim right over you, grab your legs, kick, elbow, you name it!  I knew this could happen, but I'd never felt that panic before. I decided I could let it get to me, or I could just keep swimming.  And that's what I did.  You literally couldn't stop because there was always someone there.  So I just swam as hard as I could.  When someone would grab my leg I would kick hard and keep going!  Soon I had a rhythm going in my head.  I had watched the video "You are a champion" on You Tube the night before, and every stroke I would say: "I am a champion!"  It worked. It helped me!  The only bad thing was that my legs started cramping up about halfway through the swim.  Especially when I would have to kick hard at someone trying to grab my leg.  It scared me because that had NEVER happened before!  I was trying to keep kicking while flexing my leg to get rid of the cramp.




I made it to the end, and I was 13th in my age group! I got out of the 2.4 mile swim in 71 minutes, and I felt GREAT! Literally...I wasn't even tired.  I wasn't cold. I was just ready for the next part! :)  There were people there to rip my wet suit off for me (which was awesome), and then when I got into the changing tent there was someone there who literally did everything for me to get me ready.  I ran out to get my bike, which they brought to me, and I was off and going and couldn't keep the smile off my face!  It was so cool to see my family there cheering me on, and my friends from Insulindependence. I loved hearing all the cow bells, and I loved being in the race.

The bike is 112 miles.  The first 28 miles take you from the swim to the bike loop, which is 42 miles, so you do the loop twice.  The first 28 miles I knew I needed to eat and hydrate a lot.  I had put electrolyte tablets in my water (which, remember, I'd never done before), and it tasted like grapefruit fizz.  I have a really sensitive stomach.  It doesn't like anything flavored.  It gets sick easily (and yet never ever wants to throw it up).  The grapefruit fizz was terrible! I was regretting that right from the start.  Also, I was trying to drink the fuel Dan had given me.  I made myself drink as much as I could...but I started to feel sick.  I made it to the loop feeling great, and only slightly nauseous, and still really excited.



I knew there were a LOT of hills on this bike route.  One in particular is called "The Wall" because it is so steep, but is less than a mile long.  Just before the wall they have an aid station.  I stopped there to check my blood sugar, and I was in the low 200s, which was just great!  I had made it up a lot of tough hills, and I was ready for the wall.  I got there and I made it to the top without having to stop and walk my bike!  It was HARD!  I almost felt like throwing up...but I didn't!  All the hill training I had done here was worth it.  I knew it was pretty much downhill after leaving Veyo, and then I would start the next loop and do those hills all over again.  I checked my blood sugar at the top of the hill.  87.  Woa!  That hill took a lot out of me.  I ate some fruit snacks, drank some more fuel, and took off.  I was really starting to feel sick. 

It was getting very hot, and my stomach was really starting to hate me.  I finally decided to dump my water with the grapefruit fizz tabs and refill it with different water, but unfortunately that flavor stayed with me for quite a while.  When I finally made it to the special needs station I stopped and got my bag, ate some of the orange slices I had in there, got some more water, threw out the water bottle with the fuel and just replaced it with plain water...I knew that was probably bad, yet I couldn't even think about swallowing any more of that stuff.

A little while later I made it to the end of the first loop.  70 miles down.  I was REALLY sick.  But just then I saw my whole family cheering for me and that gave me a serious boost! :)  I knew there would be times during this race that I would want to quit.  Everyone says that.  There are "dark moments" where you're sure you want to die, and you could care less about finishing.  But I also knew those would pass and I would have to fight through them.  I kept thinking (for the last 42 miles) that that was all it was.  I got excited after seeing my family and tried my hardest to just think about good things.  I knew I only had 42 miles left to go, and I WAS going to finish!  I also knew the crazy freaking hills I had ahead of me, and I was scared.

As I was riding away from them and into town it was slightly flat or downhill...and I was only going like 10  mph.  I knew that was bad.  My legs just didn't want to go any faster.  They also started to cramp REALLY bad.  Like, rippling legs, siezing up on me, really painful cramps.  I was a little more scared.  I knew I needed more water, and really more fuel.  I decided to stop on the side of the road and try to eat one of my clif bars.  I tried to throw up first, though.  I just kept thinking that if only I could throw up I'd feel better (kinda like when I was pregnant and sick ALL DAY LONG, but never threw up!).  Well, I was unsuccessful in throwing up, so I just tried to eat my bar.  I took one bite and did my darndest to chew and swallow, but I literally could not.  My mouth was so dry and this chunky peanut butter bar was just making it more dry, and my stomach was refusing to take it in.  A policeman came running up to me asking if I was OK or if I needed medical attention.  I told him I just felt sick, but was fine.  I was NOT quitting.  I just needed to take a little rest.  My blood sugars were just fine at this point, too.

I finally got back on the bike, and literally just around the corner was an aid station! :) I should've just gone a little farther!  But I stopped there, too.  I tried to go to the bathroom...almost fell asleep just sitting in there!  They were so great at all the aid stations.  Someone would hold your bike, give you water, pour water on you, clean your glasses, get you food...whatever you needed!  I kept wishing I could drink their Powerade or eat their Gu's, but I just couldn't!  That stuff makes me want to throw up and I already felt like throwing up!  As I left the aid station my aunt Lucy was there cheering me on. I told her I felt sick, but I just kept going.
Troy (and Cooper) cheering me on
The back roads on this loop are quite lonely.  Oh...and it was 95 degrees by this time.  The race started at 7 am, and it was probably 1:30 by this time.  I had slowed down drastically, and I was just trying to make it to the end of the bike so that I could walk the marathon.  And really, at this point I was afraid I wouldn't even be able to do that because of how sick I was feeling.  It was agony. Literally.  It seemed like an ETERNITY before getting to the next aid station (which is the one just before The Wall).  I stopped one other time to force myself to eat some honey stingers.  Then I just kept going until I made it to the aid station.  I did walk my bike up one or two hills, but other than that I just plugged along.
This is a picture of The Wall
 When the aid station FINALLY came into view I thought I would cry.  I wasn't the only one.  Athletes were just dropping off their bikes and laying down on the grass because there was a big tree which actually provided shade.  I laid there for quite a while.  I tried to throw up again.  No luck.  Finally I realized I'd better get going or I would miss the time cut off.  I got up to leave and literally thought I would throw up right there.  A lady brought me a chair and told me to put my head between my legs.  She got me water and cleaned my glasses and asked if I wanted anything to eat.  Nope.  At this point I couldn't even keep water in.  I would put it in my mouth to cool it off, then spit it out because my stomach didn't want it.

I finally got up.  I started riding.  I knew the wall was coming up soon.  When I got there 2 guys were there cheering people on and helping them have motivation to go up the hill.  I saw MANY people walking their bikes up at this point.  They yelled to me to stand up and do it!  So...I did.  I stood up and started riding up the steep hill.  They cheered like crazy for me!  And it really helped.  But it was short lived.  My dehydrated and cramping muscles just couldn't take it.  So I sat back in my seat, and then eventually I got off.  I started walking my bike up the hill while trying not to throw up.  It was SO HOT.  I was SO SICK. I didn't know how I was going to finish this race, but I was going to finish it.  Then I thought maybe I should just sit down for a minute, so I did.  A guy came up and said: "Come on, get up! Just keep walking. You can do it!" And he waited for me to get up.  So I kept walking.  I got to the sign that said 90 miles, and I HAD to sit down again.  I couldn't help it.  I had been trying so hard for so long to get out of this "dark moment" and it just wasn't working.

I laid down.  2 motorcycle sag people came up to me asking if I needed a ride, and I told them both "No. I'm fine. I just need a break, and then I will be going."  But, the next thing I know someone is sitting me up and pouring water on my  head and putting ice on my neck.  I guess I had passed out.  They asked me if I needed help into the car, and I just cried and said: "No! I'm finishing this race.  I only have 22 miles to go and then I'll walk the marathon!"  They were very patient with me, and very understanding.  They told me that I really needed to get into the car because my mouth was dry, I had goose bumps, I couldn't drink anything, I was nauseous, and if I didn't get in now I'd probably end up with heat stroke, which could be deadly.  They said I needed to go to the medic tent because I had severe dehydration and heat exhaustion.  I told them no.  Lots of times.  But finally, crying as I went, they helped pick me up and get me into the van.

I'm crying as I write this.  Because it just sucks, you know??  All that training.  All those prayers and well wishes.  All that time...and I couldn't do it.  And I had to call Troy and tell him they pulled me off the course.  I didn't call for a while because I was just too sad.  When I finally did I felt like a total failure. There were 5 other athletes in the car by the time we got to the medic tent.  And 2 other vans were full of athletes who couldn't finish for one reason or another.  All in all I think 600 athletes didn't finish this race (including the pro who won it last year.  I saw him pull out of the race).

Of course everyone was supportive and loving, and no one said they were disappointed in me.  I was just disappointed in myself.  I raced for 8 1/2 hours, which is a great accomplishment...but not as great as completing a whole ironman.  I realized that I was dehydrated going into this race.  I should've been hydrating all week, and drinking lots of electrolytes - but I hadn't been.  I also learned that I really need to figure out what nutrition will work for me because clearly using someone else's didn't work - and mine wasn't all that fine tuned either (since things were making me sick leading up to the race). 

I went back to the hotel and cried. I didn't want to talk to anyone, and yet everyone was calling to find out what had happened.  I got ready, and then went back out to the race to support my friends who were still racing.  Sadly, out of 10 triabetes people that raced, only FOUR finished!  It was a crazy day for everyone.  Nothing went right.  But the 4 that finished did awesome!  We stayed til midnight watching the last one cross the finish line, and it was a very very bitter sweet time for me.  I was so proud of them and so happy for them, and yet so sad that I didn't get to share in that victory.

So...that was my race.  Not the race I had hoped for.  Not the race I had dreamed of. And certainly not the race report I wanted to be writing.  However, one thing I did realize was that I WAS ready for this race.  I was able to do those crazy hard hills.  I could have completed it. And strangely enough, after I DIDN'T finish, I felt more confident that I could have finished than I did before I started the race.  I have to finish one of these things.  So, I'm racing in the Rev 3 Irondistance race in Sandusky, Ohio on September 11.  And I'm doing it with 6 other captains from triabetes!  After I finish that race, I'm going to hang up my 140.6 ironman hat, and just compete in 70.3 ironmans.  The half distance is awesome, and much more doable.  This year was hard, and it took its toll.  But it was great, too.  I just want to thank everyone who helped in any way. Everyone who donated money.  Everyone who sent me notes of encouragement and support.  Everyone who helped take care of my kids.  Everyone who understood why I couldn't be at some function or other.  Everyone who worked out with me.  And everyone who loved me and made me feel like I could do it.  I appreciate you all more than you could ever know, and more than my meager words can convey. I have gained a lot of perspective throughout this whole thing, but more than anything I have realized the amazing capacity the human body has to endure hard things (whether physical, emotional, or spiritual), and the amazing goodness of people. So...to everyone: THANK YOU.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

2 Weeks To Go

A year ago I signed up to do the craziest thing I've ever even considered doing in my whole life. I signed up to do an Ironman. Me! An Ironman. The craziest thing about that is when I was younger I was always a sprinter, whether that was in swimming or running, I could only sprint for a short distance, and then I was done. I had no endurance in me. In fact, my senior year of high school I decided to do cross country at the same time as swimming because I wanted it to help me train for track.  I was a joke as far as cross country went. I would always come in near the end of the pack. I think the longest training run I did was 5 miles, and I really thought I would die. (It did take 2 seconds off my 50 free time in swimming, though!)  I was NOT a distance athlete. I had no endurance in me. I had no mental toughness to keep going when the going got tough.

Fast forward 20 years, 3 kids and LOTS of pounds later, I'm not in any shape (but round), and I'm even LESS of an endurance athlete than ever.  After my 3rd baby I decide I'm sick of being fat and I start going to the gym. I work out (a lot) for a year, and I lose maybe 20 pounds.  Then I am diagnosed with T1 Diabetes. Wha??  I put some weight back on when I start on insulin. :( Grrrr.  My sister proposes a triathlon, and I am in.  Training for that triathlon does something to me. I get hooked. I get completely crazy about training and racing and feeling good about myself and meeting new and amazing people and losing weight and being "an athlete." (I realize, I'm not really an athlete...I'm pretty much a wolf in sheep's clothing, but it feels exciting to be part of "that crowd").

One year after beginning real training I've lost about 40 pounds, and I've completed my first marathon. Oh yes I did! Still...I'm NOT an endurance athlete. I still don't really consider myself an athlete.  But I'm continuing on this journey.  I find this group of other diabetic athletes, and I feel like I'm really "one of them!" Except secretly in my head I still think I'm fooling everyone. They all sound like "real athletes" that know what they're doing and have done lots of racing. Me? Not so much. But I like talking with them about how to deal with the 'betes and training, and I continue to train.  And craziest of all...Peter Nerothin (founder of Insulindependence) calls me up and asks me if I want to be a Triabetes team captain.  Me. A team captain. As in, compete in a FULL IRONMAN in a year. WHA??? But I've only ever done a couple of sprint tris (and not that spectacularly either), and again...I'm NOT an endurance athlete. I'm not really an athlete, remember?

For whatever reason (insanity?) I said: "Yes."  Holy shnikes, what a difference in my life that ONE word made. It changed everything.  In one year I have:
1) Met 8 other inspirational diabetic team captains who are now friends for life
2) Met DOZENS of other diabetic athletes that have helped me and supported me along the way
3) Worked with diabetic kids who have taught me a lot about dealing with the 'betes
4) Worked my butt (quite literally) OFF
5) Gone from being able to ride 12 miles on my bike to 100
6) Gone from being able to run 10 - 11 minute miles to running 8 - 9 minute miles
7) Trained from 2 - 4 hours a day when all I wanted to do was stay at home
8) Conquered hills in both riding and running that I NEVER thought I would
9) Been contacted by random diabetics who have looked to me for help and guidance and have told me I inspired them. (Me? Wow).
10) Lost now a total of 52 pounds and (and have not much to wear because of it! :)
11) And I have realized that even though I will NEVER be a podium finisher, and I will NEVER be super fast...I am an athlete. I am an ENDURANCE athlete. And I WILL finish this Ironman in St. George in 2 weeks. Me. An Ironman finisher.

I completed a 96 mile ride that had 7000 feet of climbing. I rode 92 miles by myself. I ran 18 miles by myself. I spent hour after hour after hour (by myself) at the gym riding, running, and swimming. I have trained with an amazing friend (who is training for IMAZ), and been so grateful for her support (Hey Sharon!), I have met a great tri group in Mesa that has helped me immenselfy (Hey IronGear!), and I have fought my brain and WON on multiple occasions where it yelled at me to quit, to give up, to stop trying to do something I'm not capable of, and I yelled back to my brain NO! And I finished every single thing I set out to do.

Except one thing. My 20 mile run. I went to run and just couldn't do it. I was in so much pain. The same pain I felt in October when I DNFed the St. George marathon. It was freaking me out because it hurt so bad, and I thought for sure I would never be able to do the Ironman when I couldn't even run my training run. Then 2 weeks later I competed in the Marquee triathlon (which was turned into a duathlon), and my first 2 legs I did great (ran 3.1 miles in 25:19, rode 25 miles in 1:25 (about 17.6 mph), and then the third leg was a 6.2 mile run. I basically run/walked it because of that BLASTED pain! My time? 1:10, which was like an almost 12 min/mile pace.) I was DYING. I couldn't breathe. I felt all this pressure under my ribs, and it HURT.  I was almost in tears the whole time, and it just got worse and worse the longer I ran.  I finally went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with allergy induced asthma. ASTHMA!! Weird! But since being on Singulair and having a puff on an inhaler before each big workout, NO PROBLEMS! So....now I feel better about the run portion of the race, but it is still my biggest fear.

So...one year later I am ready for this race to be here. I am ready to face my demons and just do it. I'm ready to have my life back. And I'm ready to truly be able to say: Jenny Crandell...You ARE an Ironman! Which is the penultimate of endurance athletes. And then there's no way my brain can tell me I'm a faker. I will have earned the title...and it's one I will keep FOREVER.

2 weeks people. 2 weeks...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

IronGirl Jenny's Fundraising Page

IronGirl Jenny's Fundraising Page

My Video! (Again)

VIDEO OF ME AS TRIABETES TEAM CAPTAIN!!

Hey everyone! Here is ME...on Insulindependence TV :) This is part of the documentary that Blair Ryan has been working on all summer.  She has completed all the videos, so if you have time you can navigate through the site and watch the other 8 captains videos as well. What a great experience! :) Watch through the whole thing...my boys at the end are kind of funny. Hopefully this will help everyone to understand what exactly it is I'm doing...and why. What an amazing organization Insulindependence is. It has changed my life for the better. And I truly have been changed for good. :)

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

B is for Brooklyn's Baking Birthday Bash!

 See this cute little girl?  That's my Brooklyn. She turned 5 on March 12, and to celebrate we had a big birthday bash! (She got the new pink outfit, and I did her hair in a cool little updo, too!)  We decided to have a baking party, so we called it: "Brooklyn's Baking Birthday Bash."  My mom is wonder woman with a sewing machine, and since I have no spare time in my insane life (and I don't sew even if I DID have spare time), she just whipped up 13 super cute aprons for all the little chefs who came over.
 Here's Brooklyn and Cousin Jayce modeling the boy/girl apron styles for us!

 And here are the 5 cousins together: Dane, Morgan, Maggie, Brooklyn, and Jayce. Aren't they cute??

Brooklyn is modeling the chef hat along with the apron here. 

When the kids arrived they each got to decorate their own chef hat and put on their apron. Our first major activity after that was to dip little Rhodes rolls in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, then place them in tiny little bread loaf pans.  Each child got to take home a perfect little cinnamon bread when we were done. It made our house smell delicious! :)

While the bread was cooking we had a little dance party! Each child got a baby food jar filled with heavy whipping cream and we shook those babies to the sound of Justin Bieber and made BUTTER! This was so cute. The kids really got into it, and couldn't believe it when their milk turned into butter.  They got to take that home to eat with their delicious cinnamon bread!

Next we went back to the table to make our lunch.  We did "pigs in a blanket" by wrapping hot dogs with crescent rolls and putting them on little wooden skewers. We baked these in the oven and then enjoyed them with carrots/celery, chips, gogurts, and caprisuns. They were certainly not starving at this party!! (While those cooked we played a little game with utensils...but no pics). 




We also played "Pin the Moustache on the Chef."  I have a friend at work who is an artist, so she just whipped up a little chef guy for me and voila! Party game!  This was cute because they each had a different colored moustache and I would call out a different color each time and they couldn't wait until their color was called.  It was nice to be able to see whose moustache landed where also. :)  My favorite was Morgan's...totally on the wall NEXT to the poster, not even near the face!


 Here are the 5 cousins again...Maggie is 3, but the others were born March, June, July, and August of the same year. They have so much fun together!

 Brooklyn
 Dane
 Liberty
 Dylan
 Jayce
 Morgan (love the moustache on the wall!)
 Cade
 Brayden
 Maggie
Isobelle (Brooklyn's bestie) :)

After the game they ate their lunch (and were stuffed!) and then they decorated "Cookie Monsters."  There was just so much darn food at this chef party (which makes sense, right??) but they were so full from all of that, that NO ONE had room for cupcakes!  I got Brooklyn this cute little "cupcake cake" and we sang and she blew out her candle...and then no one ate any! (My girls at church were happy the next day when they got to eat them instead!)




 Santa brought Brooklyn the wrong pillow pet for Christmas (the lady bug) and she was a very good sport about it...but she REALLY wanted the unicorn.  So, I helped her out for her birthday!
She also really wanted a DS.  Seriously? You're 5. A DS? I think not. So instead, she got the age appropriate Leapster! Much more 5 year old friendly, and a heck of a lot cheaper to boot!

Overall I would call the day a smashing success, and I had a 5 year old little princess who was happy as could be.  (I could have NEVER done this without my mom and my sisters, and my friend Julie, so a MILLION thank yous to them)!  

When she woke up that morning she came in to me and said: "Mom! Look at how tall I grew! I am 5 and now I am so much taller!"  (She's amazon height already, so she really is tall...but not any taller than when she went to sleep the night before).  All day she would tell anyone who would listen that she was 5. "I don't have to sleep with the light on anymore because I am 5." "I LOVE being 5 it is the best!!!"  She was adorable the whole day.  She was happy, excited, and very much the most perfect little 5 year old I could've ever asked for. 

This girl is infected with Bieber Fever for sure! She will tell anyone who will listen that she LOVES Justin Bieber! And she can sing all the words to his songs (on key and quite well, I might add), she sat through the movie just enthralled with every bit of it (and sang along in the theatre as well), and she will sing and dance to his music any chance she gets.  She cannot wait to go to Zaharis and be in kindergarten next year, and is also quite thrilled to be starting piano and dance in the fall. She will also be starting swim team this year, and I have a feeling this is the one who will actually be a champion.  (My boys just never really got into it like I had hoped...I make them swim on the city league every summer, but they're just not that fast, and they just don't seem to care. :( Boo).  But this girl?  She's got some very natural talents in all areas, and I can see the athleticism in her already.  I sure love my Brookie Doodle! Happy Birthday babe!




Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ragnar Relay 2011

Here's my amazingly awesome Ragnar Relay Del Sol team for 2011! We were called the D.C.S. Trail Burners (DCS were the initials of Amy's dad who passed away last year), and we burned some serious trails!!!! Seriously. What a great race! In van 1 there were Troy, me, my sister Dixie, my sister-in-law Lana, my brother-in-law Colby, and my fellow Triabetes captain, Dan.  In van 2 there were Leon, Amy, and Chester (bro- sis- and father-in-law), and 3 people I didn't know, Kris, Zane, and Jenny. 

 This is Sione from the Biggest Loser! He was the announcer at the beginning and end of the Ragnar. He is super cute in person! He was awesome and let us take a picture with him. :)

We started the race at 7:30 am. We probably should've started a little later because our pace times were faster than predicted, but that's OK. It made for a whole different experience, because we were in the 2nd or 3rd position through the whole race (after Troy picked off everyone in his first leg, and we all picked off more people after that - I think we had a total of like 68 road kills!), so we were basically by ourselves the whole time.  It was weird to get to a major transition and see all the vans because it felt like there was no one in the race until we saw them all there! (A little scary running completely by yourself in the middle of the night, but cool to know you're totally in front!)

 Here is Troy.  He started us off on leg #1. He seriously kicked butt! He had an 8.8 mile HARD run, and he kept an average pace of 7:15. He passed every person in our starting group! This picture cracks me up because he wasn't really dying there, but it looks like it. :) (Troy kept a sub 7 pace on his next 2 runs...AMAZING!)
 Troy passed the slappy bracelet on to Dixie. She didn't have a watch, so we're not really sure about her paces, but they were fast, and she did great! During the first leg everyone was happy and excited and felt great. Middle of the night legs were a little tougher. :)
 Dixie passed the bracelet to me and I had one of my BEST RUNS EVER!!!! I am NOT a fast runner, but I was able to keep a 7:57 pace on this 7 miles! It was downhill, so that helped a ton! I loved it. :) I was feeling great, and realizing that all this Ironman training is REALLY working and paying off. Thank goodness...it gave me hope for May 7! (Although, let's face it...St. George is NOT all downhill. In fact it is relentlessly uphill much of the time. Boo on that).
Just a little proof for everyone! :)

I passed the bracelet on to my bro-in-law, Colby. We were so happy to have him in our van. He's a ton of fun! :) He is a self proclaimed athlete, but NOT a runner. He proved himself wrong, though, because he did AWESOME on all of his runs! Like me he did one Ragnar and was hooked. It is seriously crazy fun.
Colby passed the bracelet on to Dan. He's my fellow Triabetes captain from Washington. He was awesome enough to fly down just to run in the relay with us. And seriously, he was amazing! He had surgery on his toe a week and a half before, and it was still totally infected and very painful and he was able to run low 7 minute miles on all his legs...plus he ran an extra 4 miles with Lana at night so she wouldn't have to run alone. Hello! :) Thanks, Dan!
Dan (being from Washington) had never seen a cattle guard before. Funny, I think! Anyway, so Dixie and Troy made sure to use the orange flags to help warn him of the cattle guard coming up. He just leaped right over it! It was funny.  (We had a lot of fun in our van).
Dan passed off to Lana. This was Lana's very first Ragnar, and she did awesome! Plus...she was so great to have in our van because she made homemade pitas and grilled chicken for one of our meals. (Dixie made spaghetti and brought a propane stove to heat up the sauce, too, so we had seriously good food on this little trip!)
And she's still smiling after leg number 1!  After our first legs we had about 6 hours to eat and rest, so we went to some high school and had our delicious spaghetti lunch and then laid on the field and TRIED to rest. Seriously, people...there is no sleeping on these things. You can try, but it just doesn't really happen much. It was still fun, though.

We began our next legs at about 6 I think. This is where you have to wear your reflective vests, head lamps and flashing red "butt lights." This is usually one of my favorite runs of the weekend. I love running in the dark! This year I had a good run, but it was definitely my hardest leg.  It was only 6.3 miles, but it was HARD because I was diverted from the road to a trail where I nearly sprained my ankle multiple times, had to pass down a seriously steep, rocky downhill section, and then finally made it back to the road section. This leg had hills on it, which I HATE! And...8 coyotes ran across the road in front of me and scared the crap out of me! I was so afraid they were going to turn and chase me, and NO ONE was around! I was by myself the entire time. My first leg I passed 4 people, and only one person passed me the entire time. No one passed me on any other leg, and I wasn't around anyone else ever to try and pass them. Crazy! But my night leg pace was 8:59. Much slower, but still under 9, so I was happy with it!!

When we finally finished our night legs it was about midnight. We were in Anthem at that point, and went to the major exchange...and WAITED and WAITED and WAITED for van 2. They were at the wrong exchange!!! Lame! They finally made it, and 20 minutes later were off and running. We were at a rec center where we ate our yummy pita sandwiches, and then tried our darndest to sleep. It was tough. Not much sleeping going on.  And the dumbest part of this Ragnar was that the legs were SO unevenly split between van 1 and van 2. Van 1 ran a total of about 110 miles, and van 2 only about 85. So, we only got to rest for 3 hours before they were done and we had to run again! :( Boo!

Because of that, I ran in the dark TWICE! Weird...that's never happened before! But, my last run turned out awesome. I ran 7.88 miles in 1:03, which gave me an 8:01 pace. I actually thought I was going faster, and thought I was under 8, but that's OK! It was great. Again...all downhill! I LOVE ME SOME DOWNHILL!

We finished our legs at 8:30 and decided to go to my mom and dad's house to have REAL showers and some rest before meeting our teammates at the finish line.  We were the 2nd or 3rd team at the exchanges the entire weekend, and it was awesome! But, by the time we finally finished some other teams had passed us.  The thing with Ragnar is, they stagger the start times depending on how fast/slow you are. Since we started to early (and ran faster than we thought we would) we were out ahead for the most part. But...the faster groups that started later took LOTS less time! :) Overall we got 78th place - out of 306 teams! I felt pretty dang good with that. And we got 26th out of 129 in our division. Our total time for 197 miles was 28 hours, 45 minutes. Not bad!
 This is all the Crandells that participated! Chester (Troy's dad), Leon (Troy's brother), Amy (Leon's wife), me, Troy, and Colby (Troy's sister's husband)
Here are Troy and I at the finish of Ragnar Del Sol 2011. This was Troy's first Ragnar ever, and our first together. We had a blast! We will DEFINITELY do this again!