Goldilocks Las Vegas 2014 50K (31 mile) Ride Recap

On Saturday, October 25, 2014, I participated in the female-centered bike/run event out in Summerlin (Northwest Greater Las Vegas pretty much).  It was called “Goldilocks” by event organizer Brooksee.  I’ve never done an organized ride other than a group ride through a local Meetup group (Biking Henderson, which is made up of a great group of supportive riders who accept with open arms all skill levels and share their experience in return – the group is run by the husband and wife team of Ryan and Gayle) so I was nervous about being in a crowd of cyclists even in what was deemed by the organizers as a “noncompetitive event.”

Goldilocks 2014 Packet Pickup
Goldilocks 2014 Packet Pickup

We had packet pickup the day before, the window of time was between 4pm to 8pm out where the event was to be held which can be good as far as finding your way the next day but not great for driving in rush hour traffic to the other side of town when you’re heading out there the next morning anyway.  A minor gripe but only because we had the school trunk or treat to get back to at home and were juggling timing.  My husband drove me and the kids to packet pickup so they could have the outing and we arrived at about 3:30pm.  I helped with a few boxes at registration and the kids got to meet “baby bear” (yes, everything had a Goldilocks story theme).  R was enthralled by the large bear mask and E kept saying “I think that is a person!” so I reminded her it was like Santa where we don’t tell people something is pretend lest we ruin their surprise.  Teachable moment and whatnot.

2014 Goldilocks Vegas' "Baby Bear" tells E and R her age
2014 Goldilocks Vegas’ “Baby Bear” tells E and R her age

There were no course or other details in the packet when we did get to registration – I was assigned a rider number and given a gift style bag with some fliers for sponsors and some lip gloss as well as an event-themed water bottle.  The official shirt was a tech tee with a cycling pocket at back in a bright pink color (see part of it on the image below).  I had sized one up but would have sized two sizes up if I’d known how snug the shirt was.  They said you could swap for another size the next day but I wasn’t going to haul the shirt around when I had plenty of gear as it was.  Still, nice to know if you’re debating registering and participating after reading my review/recap.

One of our favorite bike shops, Irwin Cycles, was a sponsor.
One of our favorite bike shops, Irwin Cycles, was a sponsor.

The 50K riders were the last to start so I was able to hit the road out to Summerlin at about 7am for my anticipated 8:30am start time.  When I parked I got to chatting with a group of really nice ladies from Utah that were getting their bikes and gear ready.  They’d done a Goldilocks event out near Salt Lake City earlier this year and seemed to love the experience.  At that point I spied Gayle, one of the organizers of the meetup group I’m in for cycling, on her signature pink bike.  When I say pink, I mean not just for the event pink, but always pink, down to her tires.  For the occasion, however, she sported a pink tutu to match and it made me feel at ease to see her.  I got to meet her sister and her sister and I hung out a bit before it was time to get started on the course.

When I registered you could create a team to get a discount, so couponer that I am at heart, I created a team called “Spoketacular.”  A bit Halloween, a bit cycling, a bit girl power all rolled into one.  A friend signed on with me, Michelle, and though we only knew each other via email and Facebook (we were introduced a while back by a mutual friend), I felt like I already knew her.  We were both going to ride our own race so to speak though we did see each other once or twice out on the course after we started.

Me and Michelle starting the ride (picture courtesy of Michelle's husband)
Me (purple jersey) and Michelle (pink jersey) starting the ride (picture courtesy of Michelle’s husband)

I’ve seen a lot of people say they liked the signage on the course and I’ll just say that I was glad I had made an effort to memorize the course from the web map before we started because there were several points where I saw people go the wrong way or misunderstand a sign that I would have easily misunderstood similarly if I didn’t have the directions on my mind.  I’ve ridden from Blue Diamond into Summerlin, which was the latter part of the course, but getting out there from our starting line took a couple turns and even some roundabouts.

(Attempt at a photo of my displayed distance while riding, I ended up using text to speech to message my husband instead.)
(Attempt at a photo of my displayed distance while riding, I ended up using text to speech to message my husband instead.)

The advertising for the race called it “fully supported” but there was one aid station fairly early and then nothing for quite some time.  The traffic was something to contend with as well, a lot of construction on the route that made it tricky going for a bit since some of the riders didn’t have experience with riding etiquette.  I don’t mean that as a jab or anything, and I am not seasoned by any means, but there are things I’ve been able to learn from riding with small groups that came in handy for me.  For example, when you are coming to pass someone, you announce “on your left” or “on your right” so that they know you’re coming and don’t make a sudden swerve.  If you see a problem on the road you yell it out, like “car back,” or “rocks” so others can avoid them.  I made a point to say thank you to everyone that followed good practice by announcing their presence, it just helped keep us all safe.  Someone mentioned that for Pedal to the Medal  (another cycling event) they gave a little primer on etiquette right before the race so everyone was on the same page.  That’d be something I’d suggest for Goldilocks as well.

Oh, and on the subject of aid stations, I stopped 3 miles before the second station for my first (and only) break and later learned that the aid station I bypassed after my break was out of water when people were reaching it.  I don’t know that information first hand but hopefully no one relied solely on the stations for their water if that was actually the case!  A main aid station feature were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – I avoid nut butters just for peace of mind with E’s allergies and could see that if she ever does a cycling or running event she’ll just have to be vigilant as usual about bringing her own food and water.

Where the course got familiar for me, off of Blue Diamond
Where the course got familiar for me, off of Blue Diamond

The first 14 miles went by at a great pace, I managed them in an hour, but the rest involved a lot of inclined road.  By the Blue Diamond turn I knew the course well and that if I just kept pushing along I would get the glorious downhill to make up some of my time.  Still, being rusty on my training the last few months meant that my uphill pace was 6 miles per hour if I was lucky, and I know when I’m more on my game I am capable of 7 miles per hour or more so it does give me an official time/pace to beat.  But when all was said and done, I made it through without injury, major discomfort, or incident, which was nice.  I did miss the usual guys I ride a portion of that route with, it was strange not to see my husband, JR, and Sam (to name a few) waiting for me at the top of hills.

I finally made it to the point where I knew the downhill was coming when I saw a Honda Pilot go by.  For a split second I thought it looked like our car but shook the thought away since my husband and I had agreed the day before that he wasn’t going to bring the kids out.  They had swimming and other activities to keep them busy and there was no reason to waste the gas.  What I spied at the top of the hill, though, made me so incredibly happy – my husband and the kids were waving and cheering me on.  It was such a rush to see them and to hear “go mommy!”  They drove ahead and stopped another time before heading ahead of me to the finish (where they were given the cutest pink bells to ring by organizers).

My official time was 3:05:53.9 (link) per the timing chip for 50K, here’s a screenshot of the GPS data:

Goldilocks Vegas 2014 50k
Goldilocks Vegas 2014 50k

I think the GPS deducted non-moving time which would be the break I took.  My usual average just on the portion of the map from Blue Diamond to Summerlin and back is 12 mph so I feel good about my average yesterday.  Plus, it gives me something to beat on the “official” side of things since when I do the usual route we get to stop for coffee midway and rest for a bit.

They don’t do finisher’s medals for Goldilocks, they do necklaces!  (They also have free event photos, I haven’t seen mine yet but that is another nice perk.)  Then you can purchase additional charms but I didn’t know when I bought my charm that I needed them to use pliers to add them, I assumed they would just slip on.  Just a tip, I think the volunteers were eating lunch when I purchased my charm or they would have mentioned it to me.  The funniest thing to me was that at the finish they had performers from male revue show on the strip presenting the necklaces.  It took me a minute to figure that out!  In the interim, he said something about riding like the wind but what I heard was a question about win conditions on the course so I rambled about the cross winds up by Blue Diamond (they were worse than a headwind) while another part of my mind read his shirt, thought about the Australian accent, and understood that the last thing he wanted to hear about was the condition of the course.  Oops.  Very nice of the guys from “Thunder from Down Under” to come out for the event, though!

Finisher's necklace with purchased charm (they had nothing for my distance so I got a bike image)
Finisher’s necklace with purchased charm (they had nothing for my distance so I got a bike charm)

Michelle and I chatted for a bit after the ride (she posted a great time!) and she got to meet my husband and the kids.  Her kids had been at the race start so I’d met them earlier, she has such a sweet family.  I love how being outdoors for things like running or riding brings people together.  You get to forget about deadlines and conflict for a little while and just keep moving forward.    My husband and the kids took me out to lunch at Jason’s Deli and we had a wonderful rest of the day.  They were serving food at the finish line but I didn’t try any though at the start I did have a banana from the food tent.  On the ride itself I had water and a Gu energy gel (caffeine plus sugar, essentially).  Normally for this distance I would (and should) manage nutrition better but I had some nervousness that makes me not crazy about eating.  So it is always a mix of listening to your body and keeping in mind that it does need some fuel.  And also, sometimes you have to stop when the lactic acid in your muscles is getting to be too much (the one stop I did make was very necessary and helped a lot in that regard).

Team Spoketacular!  (Michelle on the left, Me on the right)
Team Spoketacular! (Michelle on the left, Me on the right)

I have pangs sometimes where I miss running but ever since the Hoover Dam half marathon last December my right knee just hasn’t played along with running.  I do think the 5k distance is still something I’ve got in me with the right prep but cycling leaves me a lot less wrecked and is simply more fun through the whole process.  When you get to the top of a tough hill on a bike you get to feel the wind in your face as you go downhill at 30 mph while the reward for reaching the top as a runner is not as exhilarating.

My trusty road bike (a sale find at REI)
My trusty road bike (a sale find at REI)

I would absolutely do the event again – I think the vibe was upbeat and friendly, the volunteers were great, and riding a route I largely had done many times was a huge plus.  I had to chuckle at the fact that more than one person complimented my jersey as they passed – not that I haven’t complimented men on their jerseys before but I don’t think they feel comfortable doing the same to me.  I was going to wear a new one I’d found but at the last moment wanted to wear my first bike jersey.  I told my husband later it was my lucky jersey because it had gone the Blue Diamond route but then he reminded me it was also my torn jersey from my bike crash on the River Mountain Loop Trail.  He’s technically correct that I have an odd definition of lucky, but the reminder of crashing my bike was actually useful to me on this ride because I stayed focused, alert, and safe.  I also had a lot of fun!  Here’s to the fall/winter cycling season and more good rides!

Review: Dreamy Desserts Nut Free Bakery in Las Vegas, Nevada

It has been almost two months since E’s 6th birthday and she knew she wanted a “store bought” cake.  Not “mommy made.”  It had to be “Frozen” themed and as her RSVP list grew the prospective cake did as well.  I had been watching with fascination the updates on twitter and facebook of Penny Redlin, owner of Dreamy Desserts (a nut free online bakery based in Las Vegas), and knew that the nut free made to order bakery was my “store bought” solution.

Frozen Birthday Decorations
Frozen Birthday Decorations

Penny was incredibly friendly and helpful with the process.  Given her time limitations she fills up reservation spots on her calendar and as your date nears you can get in touch and firm up what you’d like.  I actually shipped (via Amazon Prime) cake toppers directly to Penny to make the process that much easier.  Advance ordering isn’t just for cakes but for other treats like cookies or parfaits as well.


Dreamy Desserts is Las Vegas based so if you’re traveling to town for an event you can order in advance and even pay to have your order delivered if you are within a certain range.  I sprang for delivery because I had no idea how to transport E’s cake.  The best part of doing business with a fellow food allergy parent is that you can ask all kinds of questions and never feel silly – there’s a detailed answer in response and even frank discussion of kitchen practices for those allergens that are off the beaten path (oat and sesame for us on top of peanut and tree nut).  Dreamy Desserts can make vegan cakes as well, which we debated to be more inclusive of E’s dear friend K but after consulting with K’s mother she was going to make her own matching cupcakes (see, I’m not the only one!) for the party.

Image Courtesy of Dreamy Desserts
Image Courtesy of Dreamy Desserts

More about Dreamy Desserts:

Dreamy Desserts was created for anyone looking for nut free treats.  Sadly, my son can not have peanuts or tree nuts.  As it turns out, I have over 20 years of baking experience, so I decided to offer nut free baked goods to others with a similar need. 

We are an online bakery based in Las Vegas, NV.  We can deliver any of our nut-free treats within the Las Vegas area!

If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask, we may be able to accommodate

 (as long it doesn’t have nuts!) 

(source: Dreamy Desserts).

I should stop rambling and offer the big reveal – the look on her face made it so worth it.  E’s  6th birthday “Frozen” cake…

Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Oat Free, and Sesame Free Frozen Birthday Cake
Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Oat Free, and Sesame Free Frozen Birthday Cake

The snowflakes were a mix of sugar (the smaller ones) while the larger details were a vegan fondant.  The frosting sparkled and the cake was white with strawberry preserves.

Frozen Birthday Cake by Dreamy Desserts
Frozen Birthday Cake by Dreamy Desserts

E was delighted, as was I.  Penny didn’t ask me to write about this but I kept meaning to highlight how wonderful she is to put so much love and care into making special treats for those that live with food allergies.  By the way, Dreamy Desserts’ Facebook page is really close to breaking 20,000 likes so if you’d like to see other delicious options as photos are posted, head on over!


Also at E’s birthday was my friend Pamela Sundlie, owner of Magic Wand Face Painting, who did a fantastic job with face painting and glitter tattoos for the kids.  Best of all, she had her ingredient sheets with her (and we’d gone over them in advance of course) so there were only adorably painted faces and no itchy cheeks.  I love that we can support the creativity of our local friends while also having a great time.  This was E’s first solo party since before R was born (we’ve been doing joint parties) so I wanted it to be special – I warned her that I can’t really top her 6th party until perhaps her wedding day.  She seemed okay with that.

Clark County School District Procedures/Guidelines for Managing Potentially Life-Threatening Allergies

Thank you to Dana and Duane Gordin, Principal Paula Naegle, and other parties that put so much hard work into making the CCSD Guidelines for Potentially Life-Threatening Allergies a reality.  These guidelines were 2 years in the making and made possible with support from the Food Allergy Guidelines Committee Members, key leaders of CCSD including the Board of Trustees and Superintendent, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), and those who participated in the Nevada FAAN/FARE walk in previous years.  The guidelines I’ve linked to below are the product of a FAAN/FARE walk grant and with Dana’s permission, I wanted to make the resource available here for download:

2014 CCSD Food Allergy Manual (pdf download) “Clark County School District Procedures/Guidelines for Managing Potentially Life-Threatening Allergies”

A copy has been sent to schools in Clark County (the district was ranked the 5th largest in the nation in 2012) as well as to local allergists.  The guidelines are 79 pages and cover everything from classroom activities to food service and laws of note.

Some highlights as I look through the document and am encouraged about the guidance Southern Nevada teachers, nurses, and other school employees receive:

  • “The emotional, as well as the physical, needs of the child must be respected.” – pg. 7
  • “Avoidance is the key to preventing a reaction.” – pg. 9
  • “Remember, students with food allergies are children, first and foremost. Do not ask them if it is acceptable to deviate from any of their individual plans. Be aware of signs of anxiety or bullying.” – pg. 11
  • Avoidance Measures for Insect Venom/Stings Allergic Reactions – pg. 13 (tips new to me included avoiding wearing blue and yellow or floral clothing and ensuring garbage is properly covered and away from play areas)
  • CCSD Regulation 5150 covers self carrying medications while CCSD Regulation 5157 covers nutrition concerns.
  • Page 24 has a school nurse checklist that would be handy for any parent meeting with a school’s nurse at the start of the school year.
  • Page 32 has a parent checklist for a school nurse to provide to a parent
  • “Every single person plays an important role in preventing food-allergic reactions, including the child with the food allergies.” – pg. 34
  • Page 35 has a teacher checklist.
  • “The student must not be required to wipe down his/her own area prior to eating to avoid accidental exposure to or ingestion of allergens.” – pg. 37
  • Page 43 includes the recommendation that cleaning supplies be marked specifically so that, say, a mop bucket used when mopping up peanut butter is not later used to clean an area meant to be free of a given student’s allergen. (A great detail I would not have considered.)
Photo taken at Principal Naegle’s school in Clark County and included in the Guideline packet
  • Page 57 includes a bus driver checklist.  CCSD guidelines also prohibit eating on the bus (with a diabetes exception of course).
  • Page 62 has a resource regarding reading food labels.
  • Page 63 discusses “Constructive Classroom Rewards” and begins: “Rewarding children in the classroom need not involve candy or other foods that can undermine children’s diets and health and reinforce unhealthful eating habits.”  It concludes with two pages of suggestions of alternative rewards, including everything from privileges to trinkets/tokens.  The recommendations are taken from the Healthy Schools Campaign and adapted from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  • Page 73 references epinephrine auto-injectors Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, and Epi-Pen, which is helpful since school employees may be familiar with one and not others as they go through the process of assisting families and students.

Dana and Duane Gordin are Southern Nevada food allergy advocates that for 5 years worked to direct local food allergy walks (first through FAAN, the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Network, and then through FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education) in addition to testifying regarding stock epinephrine in Nevada and more.  One thing I didn’t know until I met Dana was that money raised by the national FAAN/FARE organization didn’t just go to funding walk operations and research activities, a small portion is used for local walk grants.  The Gordin family saw the need for training and education here in Clark County and worked hours upon hours to help make it happen.  Their eldest son graduated high school last month and their younger son is in high school so the impact of these guidelines is a wonderful parting gift!


Updated July 15, 2014 – Debbie Bornilla, who first brought the then-FAAN walk to Las Vegas as a director and co-leader of our local Food Allergy Parent Education Group (FAPE) provided me with the full list of people that contributed to these guidelines.  Thank you all!

Cynthia Alamshaw, Principal
DeAnn Baker, Nurse
Virginia Beck, Director of Food Services
Abby Berhe, Operations Coordinator
Debbie Bornilla, Parent & FAPE Co-Leader
Gina Clowes, Director of Education FARE
Betsy Fuentes, Food Services Coordinator
Eleanor Garrow, VP Ed & Outreach FARE
Doug Geller, Director I of Transportation
Duane & Dana Gordin, Parents & FARE Walk Directors
Michael Harley, Chief Officer Compliance
Vicki Herman, Related Services Coordinator
Sally Jost, Director of Related Services (Committee Lead)
Rod Knowles, Principal
Connie Kratky, Eq. & Diversity Coordinator
Kimberly Krumland, Risk Management Coordinator
Gwen LaFond, Director of Guidance
June Likourinnou, Nurse
Karie Mulkowsky, FARE Grants
Paula Naegle, Principal
Daniel O’Brien, Attorney CCSD Legal
Greta Peay, Director of Eq. & Diversity
Irma Pumphrey, Health Services Coordinator
Roseanne Richards, Instruction Coordinator
Lynn Row, Director of Health Services
Bevelyn Smothers, Principal
Denise Thistlewaite, Director of Instruction
Linnea Westwood, Principal


Great Articles

On the food allergy front, there have been some great articles and posts recently that I wanted to highlight because they’ve enhanced my knowledge of the development of allergies:

Protect Your Digestion, the First Line of Defense Against Food Allergies by Dr. Eva Untersmayr – This article is fascinating, if I’d seen it before my presentation last week I would have had to mention it.  Be sure to explore the fantastic website (the site’s founders will be at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, see the agenda for details).

From the outside in: How eczema could lead to food allergies by Iona Twaddell – I am trying not to let mommy guilt get to me when I read research articles but I do confess to wondering often whether using Aveeno lotion (which is oat based) with my daughter is related to her severe oat allergy.  I was directed to this article via the twitter feed of Anne F. Russell BSN, RN, AE-C (who will also be a conference speaker and helped us proofread the conference brochure I created… download the brochure here as a pdf – thank you Anne!).

Genetic glitch at the root of food allergies? by Jessica Martin, PhD – I love how Jessica breaks down concepts.  The other day she e-mailed me a detailed response to a question I had and hopefully you’ll see it on her Food Allergy Sleuth site soon.  When she bought a ticket to the conference I was thrilled because I can’t wait to meet her.

Food Allergy Walk and Food Allergy Bloggers Conference

I have a fundraising page again this year for the Food Allergy walk here in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 2, 2013.  I’m on the walk committee and also a co-founder of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference that will be kicking off with the walk and running through November 4, 2013.  So it will be a big weekend for Food Allergy in Southern Nevada!  We need team members and virtual walkers are welcome!  If our team raises $1,000 before August 31, 2013 our team name will appear on the official walk t-shirt!  We’re just about halfway there, donate and/or join today!

(If you’d like to have a chance to win tickets to The Wizard of Oz at the Smith Center, check out the team page of Young Artists Supporting FARE – a $10 donation during their raffle period earns an entry.)

An Allergy Friendly Kickstarter Campaign

Ending September 10, 2013, here is a Kickstarter campaign that might be of interest – it involves a top 8 allergen free, vegan candy that I’ve backed and you may want to as well!  Premium Chocolatiers needs to raise funds for the equipment necessary to manufacture their vegan marshmallow coated with chocolate and candy.

Vegan, Allergy Friendly Kickstarter Campaign
Vegan, Allergy Friendly Kickstarter Campaign

The way the Kickstarter website works is that if the funds needed to achieve the stated goal aren’t raised, the campaign doesn’t get “funded” and none of the money pledged is charged.  They’re almost halfway to their goal with two weeks left and I’d love to see this idea take off.  $7 gets one bag of “No No’s” shipped to US addresses sometime hopefully in time for Halloween, so check it out here.

The VanSquigglebottoms-to-be

Something with a deadline that is a little further into the future is the fundraising campaign my friends Jessica (not the same Jessica I mentioned above) and Jeff have launched that involves changing their last name to “Van Squigglebottoms” permanently and officially if they raise $1,000,000.00 for Oxfam on or before December 31, 2013.  I hesitated to donate only because I like their names as they are but then I got to thinking that I love the positive approach they’re taking.  They care passionately about the causes associated with the less fortunate and they’re willing to do something off the wall to get the attention they feel this cause needs.  You can see their fundraising page here and I can assure you that even the smallest donation will cheer Jessica and Jeff on.  Even if all you can do is spread the word about their fundraising efforts, that may prompt someone else to donate.

Children’s Literature (and Music!) Reviews

Finally, it has been a while since I rounded up my latest reviews.  I’ve even had the chance to review some music which was a lot of fun.

Mind of My Own (CD)

Say Daddy

Where to Sleep

Steam Train, Dream Train

Memoirs of a Goldfish & Memoirs of a Hamster

Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America

He’s Been a Monster All Day

Blink of an Eye (CD)


School starts tomorrow and E turns 5!  It is exciting and surreal at the same time.  Have a great week, all!

2013 Red Rock Canyon Marathon and 1/2 Marathon

I’ve run a half marathon!  My husband and I did another Calico Racing event, this time the 2013 Red Rock Canyon Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on March 9th.  We were officially engaged out at Red Rock (Ice Box Canyon) in 2006.  I say “officially” because I got to wear my engagement ring before we were engaged in part due to the advice of my wonderful sister-in-law to be who wrote in an e-mail to my husband: “Does she get to wear the ring during this not-quite-yet-ready-to-be -officially-engaged period? I hope so. It’s too pretty to keep in a box.”  We were married on March 10, 2007 so this race was a great chance to celebrate our 6th anniversary weekend.  I should let that sink in – who would have thought we’d be the sort to go out and run for over 2 hours as part of a celebration?  This is where something as seemingly simple as Couch to 5K can lead.


I’m not sure how best to tell the story of this race.  I know some people think that blogging is narcissistic so I hopefully don’t come across that way with a bunch of details but what I’d like to convey with my recap is how much I appreciate the things that brought me to the finish line, both from within and from without.  We made it to the Suncoast Hotel where they were picking up runners to drive out to the start line just in time to catch the 6:30 a.m. bus.  The start was 7:00 a.m. so we didn’t wait around long (I believe it was around 44 degrees Fahrenheit at the time) after leaving the warm bus before we were crossing the starting mat.  One young woman I met while we waited told me that she’d run the course a year before and that I should be prepared to walk.


Now, I had a hard time getting back to feeling good with my runs after the 10k race in January but a few days before my 30th birthday in February I pushed myself to a 13.1 mile training run (no walking) in 2:29:05.  I had the Red Rock Canyon Marathon and 1/2 Marathon’s unique course in mind when I opted to make sure I could cover the half marathon distance before the race because I had been warned by several people that I would not be able to run the whole race.  It sounds pessimistic to prepare for walking but: first, there is nothing wrong with walking, and second, my goal was to finish the race without injuring myself so knowing I could really run 13.1 all the way through was my way of giving myself permission to walk on race day if I had to.  I tried to incorporate hills in my training but nothing prepared me for the relentless 5 miles of an uphill course that yielded about an increase of 900 feet in elevation.


So to have the subject of walking come up made me think about how I had mentally prepared to allow myself to walk.  I would be of no use to anyone if I pushed so hard that I really hurt myself so I opted to deal with the course (see a video of some of the terrain here) as it came.   The first mile or so was really good, a loop around the visitor’s center at the park entrance.  I did it in under 11 minutes and felt good though I was of course easily passed by much of the field, including my husband.  Then we started to climb.  It was slow work and my legs were not cooperating with me.  I told myself I could walk when I hit the 2 mile mark, hoping that at 2 miles I could convince myself to run to the 3 mile mark and on but I simply couldn’t do it.  I walked.  The picture above is the only one I took on the course but it wasn’t my only walking break (most of the other pictures in this post were taken by my husband while he waited for me at the finish line, having finished about half an hour ahead of me).  Other people were walking as well so I didn’t feel as bad as I’d feared and each time the pain lessened I would run as much as I could before taking another break.  My training, I think, helped me recover during the walk breaks even though I hadn’t incorporated a walking interval into a run in a long time.


On the way up a hill I found myself walking with a woman who had brightly colored shoes.  I complimented her on them and after saying thank you she remarked that it was a bad idea for us to walk up a hill, we should run, so we ran alongside one another for a while and even chatted.  She told me about Team in Training and pointed out shirts of people in the distance who were also running to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  She remarked as to how little children fight cancer and here we were running.  She told me about her coach and the support network she’d found when before she thought runners were crazy for doing it.  It had helped her find her place as a runner.  I told her about someone I love dearly who is battling Rheumatoid Arthritis.  How I think about her when I run and how hard she has to work on most of her days to get her body to cooperate and let her move, and how the effort anyone puts into something is what matters, not the distance they cover or the time they manage while doing it.  My companion slowed to a walk and encouraged me to keep running.  She really boosted my spirits.  That said, I believe I reached the hour mark only having done 4.5 miles or so and my heart sank.  I started calculating in my head what my pace meant for my finish time and for some reason I cannot do basic math while I run yet I kept attempting to do so.


This is another finish line shot from my husband to give you an idea of the snowy mountains in the distance and the beautiful red rocks that are the namesake of the Canyon.  I did finally reach the overlook area.  There was a welcome aid station there and I had been making certain to drink water at each station and eat a few Jelly Belly Sport Beans as I completed miles on the course.  One thing I learned during my training run two weeks prior was that I seriously hit a wall a little after the twelfth mile and I believe that happened because I never hydrate during runs.  At one aid station I did accidentally take a sports drink but luckily it didn’t upset my stomach or anything.  After the summit I complimented another runner on her sparkle skirt (I think I see a pattern in my ability to start conversations with people, but why wear awesome shoes or a flashy skirt if you don’t want compliments, right?) and she told me “this is the last bad hill.”  I asked her if she’d run the race before and she said that she had not but she did train out at Red Rock so she knew what to expect.  Good enough for me!  I may have told her I loved her for telling me that news and she laughed.  After that “last bad hill” she took off and I didn’t see her again.


The downhills were letting me gain back some of my pace time, I hit 9.5 miles at the two-hour mark, so I did 5 miles in the second hour and knew a sub-2:45 time was in reach.  Not great considering my training time but not as bad as going over three hours as I had feared during the early part of the ascent.  The volunteers at the aid stations were so kind and encouraging, I made sure to thank them for their time and even though I went back and forth between feeling cold and warm I had to pour a cup of water over my head a little after mile 10 just to cool off a little bit.  It was certainly a work out!


The traffic on the course wasn’t too bad, cars were quite courteous though it was hard to see the cyclists whizzing down the hills while I kept adjusting my form to accommodate my hurting knees and ankles.  Downhills are easier for me but they are not without their own complications.  Some of the descent was so steep that I felt like I was just falling forward but it still took energy to move and though at mile 11 I started to feel like just maybe I could run the rest of the way with no more walking breaks, it just wasn’t to be.  I was hurting and needed to keep taking breaks as needed.  The mile markers seemed to pass by so slowly near the end and I just could not see the finish line anywhere.  I passed a young woman stopped at the side of the road by her bicycle and she cheered for me.  I told her this was my first half marathon and she told me I was almost done.  I knew my friend Mindy had promised to be at the finish line with her husband and her three children (one of whom was just fourteen days old!) with posters and I started to envision seeing them and what the signs would say.  I wondered how my husband was doing, how long he’d been waiting for me at the finish, and if he had hurt his knees that were already giving him trouble in the days leading up to the race.


At last I could see the structure in the distance that I knew was the finish line and I started to think of how I wanted to stop and walk again but I couldn’t because I was in sight of the end.  Because people would see me walking and even though my legs were burning and I couldn’t feel my hands (I’m thinking I’d stopped breathing properly or maybe had tensed my arms up but there was something enough wrong circulation-wise to be distracting), I had to keep running.  I saw my husband holding his phone up to take a picture of me and I shouted to him that I was hurting.  I was crying at this point, a mix of “I’m almost there!” and “I don’t know if I can make it!”  Just then the young lady that had been by her bicycle rode by slowly, calling out to me that I was about to finish my first half marathon.  I could see my friend Mindy with her neon colored signs with my name on them and my husband’s name on them.  She was smiling.  Everyone was smiling and I was just crying.  I ran across the timing mat and kept crying as the kind volunteer let me know he needed to cut off my timing chip from my shoe.  Someone put a medal around my neck, the medal I had been dreaming of but could not even look at because all I wanted to do was hug my husband.  I could hear cameras clicking so I think someone got a few shots of me crying and I am certain I ruined my finish line picture but at least the shot my husband got shows me with a smile, albeit a pained one.


I love that you can even see the woman on her bicycle coming up behind me as well as the beautiful scenery.  My husband had finished with an official chip time of 2:06:30.48!  My official chip time was 2:38:13.36 for a pace of 12:08 per mile overall, my RunKeeper track is a little off but you can see the course and elevation map below.


I was able to say hi to Mindy and her family while my husband stood in line for me for some finish line food…


…and remembered to ask her to take our picture before we left.  My husband was (and is) amazing.  I love that we did this together, taking turns watching the kids so we could train early in the morning, running together when we could, and encouraging each other.  I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life and to have goals bigger than yourself that you can also share as a couple is a pretty special thing.  We also got to share in a pretty epic anniversary lunch the next day with the calories we earned from the run.


The bus for the Suncoast was full and Mindy and her husband offered to drive us back to our car on their way home instead of having us wait for another bus (what an amazing friend to come out early on a Saturday morning with her whole family and then to give us a ride, she is a total star — thank you so much Mindy!).  We took them up on the offer and were on the road home in no time.  The kids had both woken up before we left the house and we were eager to get home and give their grandmother a break (she is another star by the way!).  I did finally have a chance to check out my medal and I will be wearing my race shirt with pride.


I am not sure what will be next, I am honestly feeling a little burned out with the long training runs over the past weeks and months.  It also has meant a lot of time away from the children but my hope is to do a maintenance schedule of 5K / 5K / 10K for my three runs each week and incorporate more strength training as well as bicycling to my exercise regimen.  As with most goals we do wonder what comes next and though I have been trying to savor the feeling of accomplishment I know the weeks and months ahead are filled with other challenges.  I do want to think back on running even though I wanted to stop, how the thought of people that mattered to me kept me moving forward, and that even though we have to walk sometimes we still can make whatever progress we can.  We’re not trying to do better than anyone else and as Plato wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  No one person’s journey is comparable to another’s.  As always, thank you for reading and may you have the friends and family you need along the way to fight your own hard battles.


Some songs that came up in my mix during the race:

Non E Per Sempre – Eiffel 65 (amazon affiliate link)

Your Disco Needs You – Kylie Minogue (amazon affiliate link)

There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths (amazon affiliate link)

Waka Waka – Shakira (amazon affiliate link) – my older sister shared this one with me the night before the race, I thought of her when it came on!

Take Me Away – 4 Strings (amazon affiliate link)

Las Vegas Discovery Children’s Museum Member Preview


The new Las Vegas Discovery Children’s Museum (formerly the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum) will be opening March 9th but today we had the great fortune of taking part in a member preview of the museum!  Located right next to the Smith Center, the new museum has so many neat details inside that I tried to capture with my little phone camera so I wanted to share them.  For example, the railing in the picture above is from the courtyard by the museum, I love the detail in the design that looks like children with their arms reaching upward.


We hadn’t received a confirmation e-mail for our RSVP so we arrived half an hour early and let the kids run around in front of Reynolds Hall.  It was a gorgeous day, albeit a little windy.  My husband and I had been to Symphony Park just the day before to catch West Side Story at the Smith Center but we don’t usually get to explore when we’re there for a performance.


I will never tire of taking pictures of the Smith Center.  I’m so proud of Las Vegas for Symphony Park and the offerings there so far!


We made our way back to the entrance of the museum and a line had formed so we knew it was time to wait instead of playing on the grass.  The kids did pretty well, actually, with the waiting.  The day before we’d been at “Touch a Truck” over by The Orleans and they’d surprised me with their patience while waiting to go on the garbage truck.  I was getting really excited to see the museum myself and it did not disappoint.


They have screens up showing the pricing and it now reflects that ages 1-99 are $12 per person which is a change from their previous pricing and it looks like their packages for memberships have changed as well.  I wanted to talk to someone about party pricing and was told they’re already taking reservations for parties but by then it was lunch time for the kids and we needed to leave.  The member preview did offer food but not really anything safe aside from a bit of the fruit and I was also told that while we used to be able to bring our lunches to the museum they have adopted a no outside food policy for guests as well as for any parties or events.  Good to know so that I can plan accordingly.


These kites are suspended over the entry area to the left of check-in/ticketing – I love the playful colors that seemed bright and energetic without being cloying as multi-colored decor can sometimes be when people are decorating for children.


There was an area for pretend play, so you had a pirate ship, a castle, and even a dress-up stage on the first floor.


We didn’t go into toddler town but it was adjacent to the fantasy area and the water play area.


I snapped a picture of some of the dress up options inside the castle…


…and her’s another picture of the pirate ship.  It was a packed museum, all three floors, but everyone was just excited and friendly so it all worked out.


Our kids did not want to leave each area we explored, especially the water play section which is a huge improvement over the one in the previous museum location.


Lots of splashing so pack a change of clothes for your kids or take advantage of some of the ponchos they have in the area.


I’m not sure if the ponchos will be a regular feature but then again in the summer it won’t be too difficult to pop outside to dry off before returning to the museum to play.


They had no maps available yet so I got a few shots of the one on the wall just to share so I apologize if any of the exhibit names are hard to make out.




The details were amazing and lovingly done.  I snapped this photo on the second floor.


The area I think we’ll spend the most time at in the future has to be “Young at Art” – there are all forms of media for cutting, pasting, crayon rubbing, and even digital painting.  It took a while to convince the kids to move on!




The museum has an elevator and regular stairs but through the center of the building is a staircase of sorts that lets you play, slide, and make music all the way to the top.


The very top was not yet open but should be soon.  I love the pinpoints of lights that reminded me of stars.


Other areas include a mystery town where you can use various clues (such as those using morse code) to solve a crime.


I was extremely worried the car exhibit we knew and loved in the old museum would not be at the new museum but the spirit of it lived on in Eco City!


The Smiths store in Eco City was another familiar find though slightly updated.


Next to the Smiths and Findlay Car Care area was a construction zone (foam blocks), an animal clinic, airport, and a mini Jamba Juice complete with counter and pretend food for serving to patrons.


What a treat it will be to continue exploring all the museum’s offerings in the coming months and years.  If you are even just visiting Las Vegas with your children in tow I have to say this is a world class museum and worth the price of admission.  I’m gushing, I know, but the museum exceeded our expectations and then some.  The best thing of all is that the friendly staff and volunteers are just as wonderful as they were at the old location and their enthusiasm and excitement for their new home shows.

“Food Allergy 101 & Caregiver Training” on February 9, 2013


I wanted to share for local folks that there is a great opportunity to bring a friend, family member, or caregiver for the child in your life to a free training that will help them gain a better understanding of food allergy management!  Be sure to RSVP to soon so that they know to expect you at:

Food Allergy 101 & Caregiver Training

The event is free, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Rose Hospital San Martin (8280 West Warm Springs Road, Las Vegas, NV 89113) on Saturday, February 9, 2013.

One thing we discussed at the last Food Allergy Parent Education group planning meeting was what would help FAPE families.  The topic of babysitting came up – how do you trust someone to watch your child with food allergies knowing how our own road to learning about food allergy management is so ongoing?  Also, there’s a feeling sometimes when you’re giving someone the breakdown of what to do in case of a reaction, or even just what food allergies mean for your family on a day to day basis, that they probably think you’re being “overprotective.”  This is a great training to address that.  Dr. Sean McKnight of Allergy Partners (he is the allergist for many of my friends and very supportive of food allergy awareness) is offering his knowledge to attendees to help them understand all the basics.  I haven’t heard one of his presentations yet myself but based on what I hear about past events, it will be well worth your time to attend.

Also, the next FAPE playdate is in Summerlin on February 5, so check out the FAPE Events Calendar page to get the details and RSVP if you are interested!

In other news…

  • Whether you are local or not, if you’d like to sponsor a booth or even get your name on the FARE (formerly FAAN) walk shirt for 2013, there is no time like the present.  I am trying to help gather support for the event in whatever way my schedule can spare so I thought I’d mention it here on the blog.  For a $1,000 sponsorship, for example, you get a booth and recognition on the walk shirt.  The event is fun (see my recap for 2012) and well attended (they are expecting around 3,000 attendees this year).
  • The Auvi-Q is now available in the United States and I am going to try to get a prescription filled for it soon.  It is an Epi-Pen (our Epi-Pen Jr. is pictured above) competitor that is voice guided and compact (see Jenny’s post about it and Caroline’s post as well – they were both able to preview the device recently).  The best news is that the company has a discount coupon right now that will make our epinephrine refill much cheaper this year and you can obtain it at:  In a way, this is a perfect tie-in regarding the February 9th Food Allergy 101 presentation – the idea of a voice guided injector is promising because it would offer extra guidance to caregivers at a time when every moment counts.

There are so many dedicated folks out there offering their time and energy to not just care for their own loved ones with food allergies, but to educating others and raising funds for research, that it feels really exciting.  On the other hand, I do admit I have moments where my heart feels a little broken to consider the looming threat that food allergies represent for my children.  I know we are lucky that we can “manage” food allergies to a certain extent, of course, but as we prepare for our daughter to enter kindergarten this year I keep thinking of how life-threatening food allergies are impacting our family.

I don’t mean to not end on a positive note, so I will say that sometimes we aren’t active about something we care about because when the news all seems promising we figure it has been taken care of, that perhaps our help is not needed.  This is not the case.  The more I get to see “behind the scenes” in a field such as this, the more I realize that anything you or I can offer is going to actually make a difference.  For example:  I sometimes start conversations with people at the grocery store that seem to be having a hard time in the gluten-free aisle.  Yes, just like in a product commercial where a random stranger starts gushing about their favorite cough medicine, which is strange considering I’m an introvert (and yet I have a blog, I know).  At any rate, I was looking at site stats for the blog and this link was pointing to one of my posts.  It was a bookmark on Pinterest and the pinner wrote: “As I stared completely confused by the overwhelming types of flours in the market, this sweet woman toting her 2 kiddos went out of her way to help me figure out what was best for my allergen-free diet!”  Let’s just say, reading that made my day.

So, please RSVP at the e-mail above if you can make it to the training and if you have questions about contributing to the Las Vegas 2013 FARE walk, let me know!