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.

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What happens in Vegas…? Does that apply to running?

If so, I hope I can leave the remains of my dreaded injury there after this Saturday. I have to say that I’m so excited! The Ragnar Relay Las Vegas begins Friday in the Valley of Fire State Park, which is located north of Lake Mead, east of Las Vegas. Six members of our Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back team signed on to run with us and six other friends and family members. This is going to be a fun relay. It’s quite different from Wasatch Back. Not as many hills, but some of the legs are longer. I’ll run a total of 18.6 miles over three legs.

Getting ready has been interesting in many ways. Mostly logistic, but also in regards to my health as mentioned above. As many of you know, I’ve been battling the dreaded PF — plantar faciitis since January. The rehab has been a roller coaster ride. Some months are great. Others are not so great. Much of the lengthy rehab has to do with my desire to run and train for races. I had to pull out of the Salt Lake Half Marathon in order to rest it up and be able to train properly for the Wasatch Back. I also ran the Deseret News 10K, and a few other 5K’s (Murray Fun Days on July 4th, and Utah Young Alumni Scholarship 5K — where Neal beat his PR!) in between and after over the last six months. Running’s addictive. At least it is for me. As addictive as it is, I’m going to take some needed time off from running after Saturday. I’ll still workout at the gym. I’ll just focus on weight training and other cardiovascular-type activities for at least 4-6 weeks, if not longer. I should be OK. I don’t need to start training for the Salt Lake half until January.

If you want to track our status during Ragnar Relay Las Vegas, follow me on Twitter@Bryan_Packer. I’m to tweet as much as I can on Friday and Saturday. We start at 7:30 a.m. We’re staying in Cedar City on Thursday night and will need to leave around 5 a.m. in order to be at the start line in time for the safety training. So, expect some early tweets once we’re on the road. I’m working on a hashtag to use so those that care can easily follow my “fun!”

Watch for a recap on Ragnar Relay Las Vegas later next week!

Ragnar… Wasatch Back

Heading down the south side of Avon Pass towards Liberty - my first leg

Two weeks ago I completed my third Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay. This year was just like the last two – an amazing experience. Our team consisted of some great family members, and some new friends. I was runner six in van one again. I ran those legs last year. In our van was my brother-in-law, Matt, Amber’s aunt, Sharon and her cousins, Spencer and Jordan. We also had a special friend of Jordan’s — Danielle. We started at 7:30 on Friday, June 18 in Logan, and finished 188 miles and just over 31 hours later in Park City at The Canyons Resort. In van two was Amber’s brother, Geoff and his wife, Jill. She was awesome! Jill was our team captain and spent a lot of time getting things ready for our team.

The relay for me this year was a little harder. My training since January has been very limited. I’ve been battling a plantar faciitis injury in my right foot. It’s taken numerous doctor appointments, steroid shots, and two podiatrists to help it to feel better. My foot held out very well during my three legs. In fact it felt great all of the next week, but started to show some signs of soreness again earlier this week. Overall, it’s so much better than it was 5 months ago. I think I’m about out of the woods.

Our team is signed up for the relay in June 2011 already and we also signed up a team for the Ragnar Las Vegas Relay, October 22-23. It starts in the Valley of Fire, and ends at the Red Rock Resort and Casino on the west side of Las Vegas. I’m excited for this relay. Same distance, but not as many drastic changes in elevation like the Wasatch Back has. Participants who run both the Wasatch Back and The Las Vegas relays receive a special “Saints and Sinners” medal. I’m excited to get this one! Want to see more pictures? If you’re friends with me on Facebook, check out my profile.

Team 218 - Up & Running

An update’s coming… I promise!

Seriously, I promise an update is coming soon. The past two and a half months have been crazy-busy at work and home: school activities for the boys; soccer; Wood Badge; ribbon cutting and open house, etc. And now, the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay is on Friday and Saturday. When I get back from the relay, I promise to give some great updates on what’s been happening with the Packer’s. Until then…

Running to Grafton

Earlier this month, Neal and I took off for southern Utah to participate in the Butch Cassidy 10K and Kids 5K. Amber stayed home with a sinus and ear infection. We decided it would be easier to leave Riley at home as well.

We stayed with Amber’s aunt and uncle in Cedar City. We had a great time. We went to The Pizza Factory for dinner, then hung out until it was time to go to bed. Here’s Neal downing his breadstick. He said he was full after eating that.

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The 10K race starts in Springdale, which is just outside the entrance to Zion’s National Park and ends in the ghost town of Grafton. The 5K starts at the halfway point in Rockville. This is one of the more enjoyable races I run in each year. The scenery is beautiful, the course is fun, and the family we run with is awesome to be with.

Neal finished the kids 5K with a time of 35:15, which was third place of all the boys under 10 who ran. I finished the 10K 1:02:31. That was a few minutes slower than normal for me. The last 3-4 months have been busy and I didn’t train or eat as well as I should have. In fact, I put a few pounds on during this time. That didn’t help. Check out some pictures from the race.

Me and Uncle Joe getting ready to head over to the start line.

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Neal and Aunt Lana ready to head out to the 5K start line. Lana tore it up in the 5K walk!

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Neal coming in to the finish line.

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Joe and I heading towards the finish line. Man, I need to lose more weight…

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Neal telling mom about his finish on the cell phone.

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Neal getting his award for third place from the mayor of Springdale.

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Neal and I after the run.

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Neal and I with the Horton’s and the Sander’s after the race.

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One of the remaining buildings in Grafton looking towards Zion’s National Park.

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Run // 4th

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Today, the boys and I participated in the Murray Fun Days 5K and Kids Race. Neal came to me a few months ago and said he wanted to run the 5K this year. I was worried that he would struggle since a 5K is 3.1 miles. He really wanted to do it. So, we trained 2-3 times a week. His training runs were pretty good for an 8-year old. I was excited to be able to run with him. I wanted to stay with him and run at his pace. I figured it might take us about 40-45 minutes to run the 5K. I usually run them in about 27-28 minutes. Neal surprised me! He ran the whole time and ran at a pretty good pace. We finished the 5K in 33:25! The only time he stopped was about 2.5 miles into the race to get a drink from some cute grandma’s on Vine Street who were handing out water to the runners. Neal pushed it hard at the finish. The family was cheering him on and Amber said he had such a proud look on his face.

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Riley and Neal both ran the Kids Race after the 5K. They ran hard, and had fun. Neal finished in about 5 minutes, and Riley came in at 6 minutes. They both were so excited about running. Plus, not only did they get a shirt for running, but they also got a medal. Amber and I were so proud of our boys. It’s great to see them have so much fun running together.

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After the 5K and Kids Race, we watched the parade. We had a fun time. Amber and I are proud of the boys. We’re glad they’re choosing to be active while they’re young. Hopefully it will continue to help them develop good, healthy habits which will last throughout their lives. Next up: BBQ and fireworks! Happy Fourth!

Half marathon

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Last Saturday, I ran in the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. I am so happy. I completed it! And, I met my goal of 2:20 – right on the nose! Finishing the race and meeting my goal was important to me. I wanted to run in this race last year. Just as I started to train for it, I injured my back and was not able to finish my training or run in the race. I was determined to do it this year.

The course was fun. Spectators were on the sidelines throughout the course cheering for family and friends. It was on the cooler side as the race started. It was perfect! I’m glad it wasn’t like my 12-mile run two weeks earlier in the snow. The course was downhill or level most of the way, until there was one mile left. This part of the course went north up State Street to South Temple. The last two blocks of that was up hill and a challenge after running 12 miles.

There were a couple of neat things about reaching the top of the hill at South Temple: First, the hills were now behind me, and second, as I made my way west on towards The Gateway, the Salt Lake Temple came into view. I became a bit emotional as I thought about the importance of the temple and my family. The Salt Lake Temple is where Amber and I were sealed for time and all eternity almost 14 years ago. I am so thankful for that day!

Seeing the temple reminded me of the race we run through life. This race also has friends and family on the sidelines cheering us on. It has it turns, detours, and potholes which we need to avoid. We have to “train” and prepare daily by doing things such as praying and studying the scriptures, in order to reach the finish line or the ultimate goal of returning to our Heavenly Father.

As I reached the final stretch at The Gateway, both sides of the road were lined with thousands of spectators. They were cheering everyone on. Especially the elite marathon runners who were coming in at the same time as us “slow” half marathon runners. It was a neat feeling to come through the finish line and see Amber, the boys, and my mom there cheering me on. I won’t forget that feeling.