It’s been a while…

The family at the Utah game at USC in September

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve visited my own blog. Sorry about the lack of posting over here folks. My online attention as been focused on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’m going to put a renewed focus on my blog in 2012.

A lot has happened in 2011: I completed my Wood Badge ticket and received my beads; I served as a troop guide on a Wood Badge staff last April; I was asked to be a senior patrol leader for a Wood Badge course in April 2012; I ran my second half-marathon (Salt Lake Half); I ran in my 5th and 6th Ragnar Relay events (Wasatch Back and Las Vegas); Neal and Riley tore it up in baseball in the Murray Liberty League; Amber and I celebrated our 16th anniversary in August; our family went to Southern California in September to Utah’s first-ever Pac-12 football game against USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum — and Disneyland and Legoland; Neal earned the Arrow of Light award; we sold our home in September and started the process to build a new home in Herriman; and finally I finished my quest for 1,000 miles in 2011 by running 725.19 miles and biking 280.3 miles for a total of 1,005.49 miles.

People have asked: Why are you moving to Herriman? We’re not sure yet. Following some promptings. Stay tuned!

Overall it’s been a great year. We look forward to the completion of our house in April or May and many more great experiences together as a family. Happy New Year!

Kids and Christmas…

Have you seen the Mormon Messages the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produces? Our family enjoys watching them. They’re thought-provoking. They’re inspirational. We met one of the producers of Mormon Messages in July when we had new family pictures taken as well as a video produced. His name is Tucker. He approached us a few months back and asked if our kids and some other kids we knew would be willing to be filmed for an upcoming video with kids about Christmas. Neal, Riley, and a few other kids we know were interviewed in our home. A few weeks ago the LDS Church released the video on its Mormon Messages YouTube channel in time for Christmas. The video, Kids and Christmas, features Riley and three of the friends – but no Neal. He was left on the cutting room floor. We didn’t say anything to him about it for a week or so. We didn’t know how he would react to not being in the video. He was actually OK with it. Neal’s a good sport. He understands. Maybe they’ll use him in another Mormon Message down the road.

Check out the video (Click on this link to be directed to the video. For some reason WordPress isn’t placing it in my post). Riley shows up around the 2:14 mark. I love his honest and sincere response to what he would say to Jesus if he was there when He was born. I love my little guy – and his bigger brother. They are sincere in their love for Jesus Christ. Enjoy the video and have a Merry Christmas.

The Block

I was nervous the whole day. My team wasn’t playing great. Actually the defense played pretty well – holding the other team to only 16 points. My team’s offense just wasn’t doing it. That is until the fourth quarter. You know what I’m talking about… the Utah-BYU game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Finally the Utah offense started to roll putting up 17 points in about 11 minutes. When the Utes took the lead, there was just over four minutes to go. Too much time. BYU moved the ball down the field with just a little too much ease. Then it all came down to this – The Block:

 

From: Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s Brandon Burton got in on the left side of the line, practically untouched, and blocked Mitch Payne’s field goal attempt as time ran out to seal the win for the Utes. That pit I had in my stomach all day all of a sudden went away. Finally, it was Utah’s turn for one of these games to finish in our favor. Here’s the scene on the field from section N20 moments after the block.

Amber and I went to the game with my dad and my Uncle Blair. It was cold. I was prepared for the cold. But, I was still cold. The win and the hot chocolate after the game made up for the coldness. We’re not coffee drinkers, so we don’t go to Starbucks. But, they have dang good hot chocolate and we stopped to get some. I got the peppermint hot chocolate this time. It was good!

Overall, I think the game was good as far as the fans go. It seemed like most fans were trying to be on their best behavior, given the crap that’s gone on during the last 12 months. I think people were afraid to say anything and take a chance at offending someone. I’m glad this rivalry will be changing with the move to the PAC 12 and BYU’s move to independence. Playing in September will change things up a bit. No more 12 weeks of build up which adds to the issues. Here’s Amber and I showing our U’s after the win. And Amber and I with my dad.

These two guys make a new sign every game. They based this sign on one that a BYU student put up on the scoreboard at the Marriott Center in Provo after BYU beat Utah State in basketball last month.

Overall, I was very happy with the way the Utes played this year. 10-2 isn’t too bad. It could have been better. They definitely weren’t as crisp during the last four games of the year. Next up is Boise State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Boise had a heart-breaking lose to Nevada last week. It spoiled their hopes of a chance at the BCS title game. National media are already stating that Boise’s going to work the Utes to death as a statement to the nation that they deserved to be in Glendale in January. What people forget is that Utah has a coach who is one of the best at preparing for bowl games. The Utes have gone to 8 straight bowl games and won 9 consecutive bowl games – longest in the nation. Coach Whit will have this team ready – even with Wynn out with season-ending shoulder surgery. Terrance Cain will be ready. At least that’s my hope.

We’ll be making the trip to Las Vegas for the game. We’re taking the boys and going with my dad and Amber’s parents. We’re excited. They boys are even more excited! Looking forward to the quick trip and the game. Go Utes!

 

Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving was a great one for our family. We spent the day with my family. Two of my siblings families were with us this year. We missed the other two. The food was great and the company was wonderful. Even I had some fun…

The boys made good use of their spoons while waiting for dinner.

Amber made some amazing pies. She stayed up late on Wednesday night, and it paid off. She made a pumpkin pie and a cherry pie. Check out the picture below. Isn’t this pie awesome?

Neal enjoyed looking through the newspaper with grandpa.

It was a great week. I took most of the week off from work. It was good to be with Amber and the boys. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!

Who’s the Turkey – 2010 Edition

So Who’s the Turkey in 2010 according to Neal? Before we get to this year’s Turkey, let me give you some history. Neal loves to draw. In November 2007, he came to me with a couple of well-done pieces for a 6-year old. The first was of a Utah-BYU football game. Check out the score on this one! The second was of a turkey dinner. Both masterpieces in my eyes.

In November 2008, Neal took a different angle on his piece. He decided to combine Thanksgiving and turkey and the Utah-BYU game. BYU all of a sudden became the Turkey. The Utes won big in 2008. All was well in Uteville. In November 2009, Neal put together this masterpiece – Utah aliens destroying BYU. Even though the Utes lost a heartbreaker, we still all knew that BYU – and especially Max Hall and his hate were the Turkeys! I would like to introduce to you the 2010 version of Who’s the Turkey?

Again, the Turkey is BYU. I sure hope that’s the case again on Saturday. Hoping for a nice Utah win to finish out the season 10-2. Go Utes!

Seriously, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Rivalry week is here

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I used to dread the third or fourth week in November. Growing up in Utah was great. Growing up a Utah football fan in the 70’s and 80’s in Utah was a test of my faith. BYU fans at school and church were ruthless. Each and every year my team would end up losing. Well, November 1988 was a different story. I was in 9th grade. As always, I was optimistic that my Utes were going to win. Our quarterback was Scott Mitchell. He was shattering NCAA passing and offense records right and left. He was a stud. My optimistic dreams came true that year — Utah beat BYU, 57-28. They ended the game on a four game winning streak.

Not much else happened for a few more years in this rivalry. It turned back into dominance by BYU. But, this was the first step in what has become a neck and neck battle. Utah is 10-7 against the Cougars since Chris Yergensen kicked the game winner in Provo in 1993. Since 2000, both teams have won five games each. This year is set to be another great game. Utah started strong this season, but dropped two against TCU and Notre Dame. They seem to have the offense moving again after a nice win at San Diego State. BYU started soft and is improving each week right now. Of course I’m hoping my Utes will finish strong and take a 10-2 record and second place in the Mountain West into the Las Vegas Bowl.

Here’s a few videos of the games I’ve mentioned above: Utah’s win over BYU in 1988 – the first time in ten years. My favorite part of the first video is at the beginning. Eddie Johnson scores a touchdown and ends up in front of a BYU cheerleader. Eddie sticks out his hand and the cheerleader gives him five. Classic. Then, the one that started it all – Chris Yergensen’s game winning 55 yard field goal in Provo in 1993. Have fun on Saturday and cheer loud!

Saints & Sinners

My update on my latest running adventure is long overdue. My apologies. I know you’ve been waiting for days for this. Right? Two weeks ago, I ran the Ragnar Relay Las Vegas with some family and new friends. As it’s been with the three previous Ragnar Relay’s I’ve run, this one didn’t disappoint… well only one disappointment over the whole weekend. Not to bad if you ask me. The logistics of getting to Las Vegas for this relay compared to Logan was a bit more complicated. But, it wasn’t really too bad. My cousin Curtis and I spent the night before the relay with Amber’s aunt and uncle in Cedar City. Her uncle, Joe and his son, Jordan ran on our team. I enjoy staying with their family when we head to southern Utah.

The Ragnar Relay Las Vegas began in the Valley of Fire State Park and ended 195 miles later in western Las Vegas at the Red Rock Resort and Casino. I was in van one. We started at 7:45 a.m., which means we had to leave Cedar City at 4:45 in order to get to the start line for our mandatory safety training and check in at 6:30. Thank goodness Las Vegas is on Pacific time. That gave us an extra hour. I was runner #5. My first leg was a moderate 7.2 mile leg inside Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The leg was a bit uphill for the first three miles or so. The remainder was mostly downhill. The run actually felt very good. I started just after lunch time. It wasn’t too warm. It was in the low 70’s. Perfect for running. Along the way, the support van for the team of Boy Scouts and their leaders was pulled off on the opposite side of the road from where I was running. A few of them, including their leaders were huddled down on the ground. They were trying to gather up something — it was a huge tarantula! Gross. I’m not a fan of the eight-legged creatures.

Overall I was pleased with my first run. I was nervous going in to it. I’ve been fighting plantar faciitis for months. It had been nagging me quite a bit in September. So much that I stopped running the three weeks before and worked hard on an elliptical. Well, it paid off. I didn’t have any foot pain throughout the three legs I had to run.

My second leg was also 7.2. But this one was much more difficult. It was mostly consumed by gradual, long hills with one extreme, long downhill. This leg was completely in the dark and through Henderson. I was a bit frustrated when I started this leg. I wasn’t ready. We accidentally took a wrong turn when coming to the exchange and got off track and got to the exchange right as runner #4 was getting there. I hate starting a run like that. I was so glad to finish this leg. It was a challenge. But most importantly, it meant it was time to get some rest. We spent the night on the grounds of Sandy Valley School in Goodsprings. The area that was designated for sleeping was full, so we grabbed a tarp and headed to the grass. It was wet from the watering that had happened an hour or so before. We finally got to sleep around 1 a.m. Around 3 a.m., I woke to people screaming and scurrying. The sprinklers went off again. Luckily we were able to hurry and grab our things and get out of the way before we got too wet. We spent the next two hours sleeping on concrete. So comfortable after running and driving all day.

Our van had to be ready for our next exchange at 5:30 a.m. It was chilly when we started up again. Now our legs were taking us west of Las Vegas into Sandy Valley. My next leg was a hard 4.2 mile run. It was a steady, uphill climb on a rocky, dirt road. I felt like I spent the whole 4.2 miles dodging rocks. It was challenging — especially since I felt like I was dancing back and forth instead of running. Also, by the time you’re on your third leg, you’re pretty tired.

When our van finished, we headed in to Las Vegas and found some food. We wanted to find some showers too, but that didn’t work out. We ate at a good bar and grille. The steak and eggs I had tasted so good after only eating bananas, apples, dried mangos, GU Chomps, and peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out poolside at the Red Rock Resort and Casino while we waited for van two. The weather was comfortable and it was a great opportunity to rest. One of the pools was very cold. It felt great to sit on the side and soak my legs in it. It was just like an ice bath. Very relaxing.

As a finisher of the Ragnar Relay Las Vegas as well as the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, I received a second medal at the finish line — the Saints and Sinner medal. It’s pretty cool! This may sound arrogant, but I’m pretty proud of myself for completing four Ragnar Relays. It’s one of the most challenging, and one of the most satisfying events I’ve ever participated in. I’m looking forward to running Wasatch Back again in June. If you ever have the chance to run a Ragnar Relay, do it! you won’t regret it.

My only complaint about the event was the same as my complaint with Wasatch Back. The shirts they gave us for participating were way too small. Even the XXL’s. It’s far too tight and way too short in the length. I’ve talked with the owners of Ragnar about it. They’re trying to do something to help me out. I hope they realize not all male runners at 5’10” and 160 pounds. Some of us are 6’7″ and 265. I have the same problem with a few races I run in. I wish they’d all realize this. Outside of my only complaint, the relay was amazing.