I’m kicking off the last year of my 20’s tomorrow and that’s prompted me to look back on the 28 years of life that I’ve lived so far; things I’ve done, things that I’ve experienced. So I’ve come up with a list, that in no particular order, accounts 28 things that I’ve done in my 28 years of life!
Grew up on a farm in rural Illinois (in the St. Louis area).
Have 2 sisters (they’re twins) and a brother.
Had an “old fashioned” appendectomy when I was 13. Long story cut VERY short, My appendix ruptured and I almost died.
I had a crush on Steve Irwin growing up.
I stepped on a pitch fork barefoot and one of the prongs went all the way through my toe. I still have the scars to prove it. 😂
I’ve been to the old Busch Stadium and the new Busch Stadium.
I met the guy who plays Fred Bird and Joe Cunningham (a retired Cardinals player) at a Cracker Barrel in Troy, IL.
I’ve been to Disney world and Disney cruises several times.
I’ve been to Mexico, the Caribbean, Washington DC, The Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and have driven through many different states on various road trips.
I’ve worked at a dog boarding kennel, a Walgreens, and a nursing home.
I was an essential employee during a pandemic. Something I’m still experiencing and am very much over at this point. 🙃
I vividly remember seeing footage from 9/11 on TV. I’ve lived through 2 major economic collapses, have seen my country go to war. I’ve seen MANY natural disasters, people hurting other people, riots, various diseases, protest, what could be considered martial law, and a plethora of other scary things, all from the comfort of my own home. The world we live in is weird, scary, and beautiful all at the same time.
I married my high school sweetheart.
We moved to Kansas, 5 hours away from all of our friends and family, and created a life for ourselves, all starting at 20 (me) and 21 (him).
I’ve seen Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Story of the Year, Seether, Papa Roach, Three Days Grace, Hollywood Undead, Steel Panther, and and Stone Sour play live (and those are just the notable ones! 😂).
So far, I have 10 piercings and 4 tattoos.
I’ve raised a countless number of animals. I’ve bottle fed puppies, goats, a calf, and kittens, and I’ve raised chicks by hand. But border collies have always been and will always be my favorite.
I’ve witnessed a man take his last breath while laying in a hospital bed.
I’ve loved. I’ve lost.
I’ve learned to love people who started out as complete strangers to me. People who are in the end stages of their lives. People who, for the most part, I know nothing about who they were before they came to live at the nursing home I work at.
I lost a significant amount weight. Gained weight. Lived an unhealthy lifestyle and a very healthy one. I started running and have now run 7 half marathons.
I’ve experienced nature in all of its glory. And I’ve seen how badly people have fucked it up.
I’ve eaten sushi, escargot, duck, lamb, goats milk, rabbit, squirrel, and a bunch of other “weird” food.
I can hunt, grow/raise my own food, and can identify several edible plants in the wild. I also know how to process, butcher, and preserve food.
I cut and dye my hair myself. I’ve even pierced my own ears because I’m stubborn AF. 😂
I’m getting REALLY close to having read all of Stephen King’s published works.
I’ve discovered a love of baking! I like baking dinner rolls, pretzels, and lots and lots of desserts! But out of all of the things I can bake chocolate chip cookies are my favorite! Plus, I make THE BEST chocolate chip cookies! 🍪😋
I think every month I’m going start sharing a story from my life. It might be running related or it might not. Because I am more than just a runner after all! And because the more I think about it the more I realize that I do have quite a few interesting stories to share! The plan is to actually do this on the first of every month after this one time of sharing in the middle of the month, but we’ll see how that goes. 😉
So here we go!
Remember pre-Covid times? Back when we could stand in the middle of a large crowd of people without worrying about contracting a new, mysterious virus? Back when you didn’t have to wear a mask everywhere you went and didn’t have to freak out when people got too close yo you? Back when the phrase “I’ve been exposed by at least 17 different people” would raise a lot more questions. Ah memories.
This story takes place there, back in the very end of precedented times…
Now we need just a little more backstory before we get to the actual adventure; I’m from the St. Louis area, born and raised. I’ve lived in the Kansas City area for 8 years now, but to me, STL will always be my hometown. And My husband and I both still have a lot of family that live there.
So in early January of this year the NHL announced that they were going to be putting on a free outdoor Green Day “show” on Market Street right next to the Enterprise Center, which is the home stadium of the STL Blues, for the NHL all star game.
STL is our hometown, Green Day is my favorite band, AND I just so happened to be scheduled off of work that day?? Oh hell yes! We could definitely make that work!! I just had to convince Luke that it was worth it. 😂 I’m not sure if he actually thought it was, but he finally agreed that we could go and so our plans were set!
On Thursday, January 23rd after Luke and I both got off of work, we loaded up the truck, with all of our four dogs and all, and drove the five hours to his dad’s house. And that’s the best part about having family in the area! There was no need to stay at a hotel or camp out in the truck.
We stayed the night there and hung out with everyone on Friday which was an added bonus! We always have a good time when we get together! But on Saturday the 25th it was go time!
That morning we ate breakfast and hung out at Luke’s dad’s house until about noon. That’s when we left and drove into St. Louis, found the area in which we needed to be, then found a parking space. Which is never an easy task to do in the downtown area of a big city so we ended up parking a few blocks away and then we walked to the corrals where people were already lining up. Luke wasn’t convinced that we needed to be there that early, especially because it was January and freezing cold, but I’d definitely ended up being worth it! Well, I’m my opinion anyway.
As you can see in the photo above, we were pretty close to the front of the line! Obviously there were several different lines, but still. And the longer we waited the longer the lines got! More and more people just kept showing up and even though we ended up spending a looong time standing in the cold I’m very glad we lined up as early as we did!
At 3 pm they started letting people into the pit! Luckily we had no bags so we got through the medal detectors and security pretty quickly. And then we ran. We weren’t the only people who took off running and honestly everyone looked stiff and awkward after standing in the cold for so long, but we ended up securing our spot pretty close to the middle and the closest to any stage at any show I’ve ever been to. I was STOKED!
And then the waiting continued. While the crew was setting up the stage and getting everything ready I was able to point out several different people I knew from following Green Day for so long. That was pretty cool!!
But the waiting continued. In the freezing cold. At 5:00 when Green Day didn’t come out to the stage I was beginning to suspect that this whole thing was very poorly planned by the NHL and that the band wasn’t happy with what went down either, but I won’t get into all of that. A lot of it is just speculation anyway, but some things that happened during the actual All Star Game kinda proved something. To me at least. 😉
But anyway, Green Day finally came out a little before 5:30 and obviously the crowd went crazy. I was right outside of a circle of a small group of people who were getting really rowdy. Shoving people and what not. So I had to throw a few elbows but that didn’t ruin the experience for me. Although I did leave that pit feeling sore and a little bruised. 😂
My expectations were low because now I really new that this was mostly a publicity stunt for the NHL but whatever. Green Day ended up playing three songs. Four of you count the fact that they replayed “Fire, Ready, Aim,” because the crowd “wasn’t hyped enough”. But I think the NHL just needed more footage. And that was pretty much it. Bills Joe Armstrong said “see you in the summer” because they we’re supposed to tour this summer. Obviously they didn’t happen. If only we knew then what we know now. 😂
A lot of people were pissed that the show was so short but like I said, I personally think that was the NHL’s fault, not Green Day’s. And I was just stoked that I was THAT freaking close to them and actually got to see them at a “small show”. This was probably my only chance for that because tickets for small shows sell out ridiculously fast so I’m glad I jumped at this chance! Especially since it was the last thing like this we ended up doing because of the Rona. 😉
The fun didn’t stop there though! After the show we walked back to the truck, drove back to Luke’s dad’s, picked up our dogs, got all of our stuff, said our goodbyes, and the drove the 5 hours back home to Kansas. We got home around 1:30 in the morning and probably got to bed by around 2. Then I was up at 5:30 the next morning so I could go to work that Sunday.
So long story short, we drove 5 hours to see Green Day play 3 songs at a sketchy, free show put on by the NHL, and then drove 5 hours back home right after the show so Ashley could be at work by 6 am the next day. It was exhausting but totally worth it! 😂
Here’s a YouTube video of the full show if you’re interested! And a video of them performing during the actual All Star Game. Billie Joe said “fuck” on live TV and it was awesome. 😂 Whoever was attempting to censor the song tried their best, but Bille still managed to sneak one in. I also don’t think they were supposed to play America Idiot, but again, that’s just my speculation so I won’t go into it. 😉
Alrighty! That’s my random life story for the month! I should have another one for you on November 1st!
I’ve been trying to sort through all of my thoughts on this race, but I still haven’t been able to pull them all together. I’m gonna try though! But this post might end up being s jumbled mess. 😂
I’ve also been waiting for the professional race photos to be posted onto Gemini Adventures’ website. Mission accomplished on that front! 👍🏻😉
That being said, I still have a ridiculous amount of photos thanks to my dad. He’s become quite the shutterbug and we definitely stopped more than once just so he could take pictures. But I mean, I can blame him when the views from the course looked like this…
Anyway, let’s recap this thing!
So, the day before this race my dad and I drove about 5 hours from Longmont to Grand Junction, which was super close to Fruita, where the race was being held. We made a few stops along the way, including one stop to take around 3 hours to hike to and from Hanging Lake. I won’t go into all of that again since I’ve already written about that here. But I will say that whole adventure was super hard, fun, and beautiful. Not exactly something I’d recommend doing the day before a race, but I don’t regret it. 😂
After that adventure we made a stop for some burgers and then made our way to one of my dad’s drivers houses (my dad basically runs several FedEx terminals). He invited us to stay the night with him and his family so that we didn’t have to stay at a motel. That was super nice of him and he and his whole family were super welcoming and incredibly nice. 😊
I ended up getting to bed around 11 that night and I’m not sure when my dad finally made his way to bed. But we were up before the sun at 5 am Sunday morning. The guy we stayed with laid out breakfast for us the night before; a couple of water bottles, some instant oatmeal, bread, candy bars, and an invitation to anything in the fridge or pantry that we wanted. I definitely like oatmeal before a run though, so that’s what I stuck with. 😄 So we ate, got dressed, and loaded up our stuff into my dad’s van and then made our way to the staring line in Fruita.
It only took us about a half an hour to get there. So we actually got there super duper early at around 6:30 am. The race didn’t even start until 8:30 am. 😂 So we drove up this pretty gnarly Jeep trail. That was a bit iffy in my dad’s van. But it was fun.
This was AFTER we made it back down the super iffy section of road we went up. 😂
We didn’t go too far though. There wasn’t a lot of parking for this race so we made our way back to the starting/finish area and snagged us an awesome parking spot.
We sat in the van for a while. Talking, people watching, and sipping at water and nibbling on a few snacks. Packet pick up started at 7 am, so we got out our stuff right as they open up. Being some of the first people there definitely had its benefits! Along with our bibs and participation shirts, we also got buffs. They had a limited supply of them that were donated to them so not everyone got one. Hahaha I was pretty stoked though! Mine sure came in handy during the race. I wiped my nose on it more times than I can count. 😂
After we collected our things we stopped at the port-o-potties. There weren’t many of them but at this point it was still pretty early so no one was in line. Score!! 😁 Hahaha after our business with the port-o-potties was taken care of we went back to the van to warm up because it was pretty chilly out that morning. And of course while we were there we pinned on our bibs and got the rest of our gear ready.
Before we picked up our bibs we obviously needed to get a selfie with the starting line. 😄
At about 15 minutes to the start time we shed our outer layers (and oh boy was that hard! It was still pretty chilly out! 😂), strapped on our hydration packs, and made our way to the starting area. We also marveled at the line for the port-o-potties and we’re grateful that 1. We went when we did and 2. Didn’t have to go again. 😂
There was very little organization going on. Half marathoners were mixed in with the 10k-ers and as far as I could tell no one was really lined up according to pace. It wasn’t really a super big deal though because this was a really small race. Just several hundred people really. Those aren’t negatives though! Just facts. 😁
A race official counted us down but honestly we couldn’t hear him all that well, but it was kind of easy to tell when we were supposed to take off because everyone cheered and started moving forward. 😂 So we took off down the trail, starting with a slight down hill that I definitely didn’t feel and sure didn’t notice until we had to climb up it on our way back to the finish line. 🤣
That downhill was short lived though! We began one of the bigger climbs of the race (and there were several) in the first few minutes. Those climbs KILLED me. My legs were actually pretty prepared for them thanks to the hill work I had done on my treadmill, but my legs were also sore sand tired from our hike the day before. And unfortunately that never went away… That wasn’t what actually killed me though. It was the elevation. Here in Kansas I’m just about 1,000 feet above sea level. I. Fruita Colorado we were at 5,000 feet and we gained around 600 feet getting up some of those hills. I’m sure that’s not a lot for you mountain runners out there, but for this flatlander who also happens to be exclusively a road runner it was TOUGH.
Anyway, the first 1.5 miles were the hardest. I think. Hahaha honestly from this point on everything is a blur. The aide stations were each about a mile and 1/2 apart and that’s what I’m kinda basing everything on. 😉
So by the time we made it to the first aid station we were DFL (Dead Fucking Last). At least as far as the 10k-ers went. But considering how small the race was and all of the other circumstances that was pretty unsurprising. And honestly, not at all upsetting. I went into this thing just wanting to survive it and to have some fun. I knew it was going to slow going and I had put any kind of ego aside for this one.
Anyway, the volunteers at the aide were all super awesome. We got many complaints on our Sloth Running Team t-shirts, and I got several laughs and sympathetic looks every time my dad told people I was from Kansas.
Ps. Next time I do a trail race in Colorado I’m wearing a shirt that says “I’m from Kansas”. Just so everyone understands why I look and sound like I’m dying. 😂😂😂
Anyway, the next 1.5 miles were much more rugged. There were loose rocks and the rail definitely got more technical. Honestly though I had so much fun on the harder (but more flat/downhill!) sections of the course. Having to chose you’re footing and trying not to trip over rocks was a lot of fun! And I was actually pretty good at it!
You can definitely see the rocks in this photo, but there were more fun sections of the trail than this!😁
Now, if I remember correctly (and I probably don’t 😂) pretty close to the next aide station and the half way point there was part we had to kinda scramble up! Oh man, that was hard! My poor lungs were just not doing well this less oxen than they’re used to. But we both made it up it. With lots of huffing and puffing on my part. 🤣
At the next aide station I took a little cup of tailwind to drink and a couple of Honey Stinger gels (score!!). I don typically like gels for fuel while running because they upset my stomach but I took some just incase. But at this point I was doing pretty well on just water and a Gatorade that I had stashed in my hydration pack.
This side station was located on Pizza Overlook. Sadly they didn’t have any pizza. 😂
After we left the second aide station is when we ended up running around the rim of the canyon (at least I’m pretty sure. Hahaha like I said. Everything is a blur. 😂). Pictures will never do justice to how beautiful it actually was.
After a few twists and turns we stumbled upon the one and only race photography. Shout out to him for sitting there and waiting for our DFL asses. 😂 of course I had to be a total dork for my photo. But at the very least I was being a total dork during a super hard 10k with some incredible views! 👍🏻😁🏃🏻♀️
On the way to the final aid station at about 4.3 miles were we’re blessed with some amazing downhills. The trail was still a little tricky but I picked it up quite a bit going down those hills (around 10 minutes per mile pace according to the one time I actually glanced at my Garmin 😂). That was a ton of fun!! At this point we were starting to head back the way we came and the last aide station was also the very first aide station. We were also heading back up hill. Yuck. 🤢🤣Basically the whole last mile was uphill, with one super short down hill in the middle of it.
The finish line was just on the other side of that hill on the left side of this photo.
We crossed the finish line at the EXACT same time, cheering and holding hands! That was pretty cool! And according to the official results, we weren’t actually DFL. Hahaha neat! But also still, not a big deal. 😂
Once we crossed the finish line we were handed our “medals” (really just a dog tag on a chain, but still super neat!), and made our way to the food tables were we got pancakes, fruit, coffee, and a few other things, although they did have quite a bit of other post race snacks as well. 😄 we found a nice place to sit and cheered on some of the first half marathoners to start running in.
After we ate we went back to the van, wiped ourselves down with wet wipes and I changed my shirt (and managed to get out of my wet sports bra without showing any boobies to the world. 😂). And then we started our 17 hour drive back to Kansas.
So yeah. This was my first trail race ever. My first official 10k. The farthest I’ve ever run at 5,000 feet above sea level, and the slowest 10k/race I’ve ever done. It was hard. It was beautiful. And it was absolutely so much fun!!
Apparently we’re doing the half next year. Hahaha we’ll see about that. 🤣🤣
But for now, the next race on the schedule is the Running With The Cows 5k on May 11th here in Kansas! I’m very excited about that!!