Monday, October 19, 2015

Outback in the Ozarks 2015

If you've been with me for a while on here, you might remember this post where I talked about our experience (briefly) last year with this race. Let me tell you: It is incredible! This is its third year now, and we have been able to help out as part of the crew for all three years. It has been fantastic! If you're a runner or know anyone that is, go check out their website, Come join us next year for a great time! One day, Graham and I would love to run on a team for this race. For now, we are happy to simply be a part of something so crazy and awesome.

This year the race was held on October 9-10. For the first two years it was held in May, but timing ended up making October a better choice for this year and the years to come. An added bonus of the race taking place in October was definitely the scenery! This 200-mile race goes through the back roads of Northwest Arkansas and passes through five state parks. Additionally, this year we really worked hard to make the race more of a party (The race doubled in size this year). The finish line expo and concert was a great success, but I'll get back to that later :)

This year was also different for us as well in that we now have a baby! *Last year I was fairly early in my pregnancy so I had to battle morning sickness; luckily I only got sick once on those windy roads.* Graham's dad was awesome and watched her for us so that she didn't have to hang out in her car seat for 36 hours. He watched her both days (and through the night) and brought her to us throughout the race since she is still breastfeeding. Graham's mom was out of town for a friend's daughter's wedding, and she was bummed that she wasn't able to be there to help.

**A little bit about our role: The race has 36 "legs" that are run by the teams. On a 12 man team, each person runs 3 of the legs, which vary in length from 3-8 miles. Each leg ends (and the next begins) at an exchange zone. These were set up along the course at churches, state parks, and sometimes often random fields/clearings along dirt roads. Volunteers are set up at the exchange zones to sign teams in and write down the time they arrive. This helps us keep track of all of the teams and ensures that course rules are followed for competitive teams (must remain a consistent running order, among other things). After all of the teams pass through an exchange zone, Graham and I collect the clipboard and information/sign-in sheet as well as the cone that was marking the spot. Then we head up to the next exchange zone. At night blinking lights are placed on the course at all turns and exchange zones, so we pick those up as well.

Without further ado, here's our race recap.

We started out at the second exchange zone and arrived on the course at 8:45am. Two of the teams were already making such good time that we missed them. It was fun for us to be able to man an exchange station and see all of the teams come through, since we stay at the end of the pack for the rest of the race. I took a few pictures once I remembered. If I had taken some about 30 minutes earlier it would have been a lot more crowded. Having so many teams out on the course was a blast! It really made it more fun for the runners and for us. Around 10:30am we closed down the exchange station and headed on to the next one. We had our first meet-up with baby E there! She was so excited to see us, it was beyond adorable :) After time with her and a quick hot meal, we headed onward! It was raining for the first few hours of the race, but after that the rain cleared and it was gorgeous.

Our morning/afternoon were pretty uneventful. We closed exchange stations, picked up "Runners on road" signs, and enjoyed talking to the volunteers that have helped out in the previous years. There are several Volunteer Fire Departments that man exchange stations and it is always fun to talk with them. It's also fun to hear their feedback. They all told us that they were looking forward to helping out again next year!

In the late afternoon there was a car accident along a windy road that involved one of the vehicles from a team in the race. We pulled up about 20 minutes after it happened. We worked with the team that had been delayed to create an alternate plan for their running. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and half the team continued on to run their legs and finish the race. We saw the entire team together at the finish line. After that setback, we were on the road again. By this time, it was getting to be evening.

I remembered to take a few pictures here and there, and we stopped several times to soak up our surroundings. We live so close to all of this, but we would never see it if it were not for this race! Graham and I love the opportunity we have to be out in the back roads of Arkansas for this race.

We had a few runners take wrong turns, but we were always able to get in contact with the teams and straighten things out. Phew!

Two of the exchange stations in the middle of the night (we were getting there around 3 and 5am) had fires going with s'mores and one had hot chocolate. At exchange 17 we were able to get an incredible view of the stars. It was amazing! Graham and I only got about an hour of sleep each this year. Somehow we managed to stay on our feet and relatively alert and coherent.

Only picture of us from the race

Sunrise from October 10

In the morning we made it to Lake Fort Smith State Park and met up with Evie again (we also met up with them at Hobbs State Park and just before Withrow Springs State Park on Friday). We enjoyed hot Mountain-Man style breakfast burritos (which were sooooo good--Evie agrees) and fresh fruit for breakfast. And just like that we were on our way again! Saturday during the day is normally such a blur because of the lack of sleep. We just did the sort of same things as we closed down exchanges, answered any questions, kept up with all of our teams, and made sure everyone was on pace to finish the race on time. We did have a couple of teams skip forward a little bit, but after that everything was going smoothly and we didn't have any issues really.

This random skull was on a tree branch at an Exchange Zone

We made it to the finish line around 5-5:30pm and enjoyed Outback Steakhouse for dinner (they were a sponsor this year and did the food for the finish line! How great was that?!). We loved that we came in about 1.5-2 hours earlier this year than we had in the previous years. The finish line was awesome! There were vendors set up (including someone who was giving massages!), Outback was grilling, there were lots of friends/family of the runners there to meet them at the finish line, and it was really a party!

Despite my plan to take more pictures this year...I simply did not do so. Sorry! Maybe next year? I did remember to take a few, but I forgot my camera so they were taken on my phone. They really don't do the scenery justice.

Sunset on our way home

We headed home around 7pm, had Evie in bed by 8pm, and we crashed at 8:30pm. And then slept for 12 hours. :) I feel like it took me a good three or four days to fully recover and catch up on sleep. Once again, however, we loved our time helping with the race and can't wait until next year when we get to do it all again! If you know anyone that runs (or if you do yourself) you should start preparing to be a part of this awesome race. It's difficult, but worth it.

From Marissa, with love.

Also! My scripture for this week is from the Book of Mormon. (No idea what I'm talking about? Check out this post) 1 Nephi 1:20 "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I'm focusing on the second half of the scripture, which is what I've posted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Daily Life Update #2

Hello, all! We just enjoyed a fun weekend filled with family (my mom and sister's monthly visit), General Conference (more about that here), and beautiful weather. My mom always takes lots of pictures on her camera when she is visiting, so I thought that a "Daily Life Update" post was in order so I could share those pictures with the rest of you. If you missed the first update, you can find it here and catch up :)


My absolute favorite picture from this weekend. That face!

So rather than list off the foods that Evie likes, I thought it would be simpler to say the few things that we've found (so far) that she doesn't like. *Yes, I know this will change. I can, however, hope that it won't and that she will continue to be a fantastic little eater. Power of positive thinking right?* She's not a huge fan of eggs or sausage (smoked, breakfast, whatever), and that's about it. Everything else she devours. She definitely has preferences, though. I'll give the lunch example from today. She had turkey, cheese, banana, and cheerios. (Cheerios are almost always present because I give them to her first while I prep the rest of the food.) First pick? The banana. Next up is cheese (then the turkey, and she'll eat the cheerios if she doesn't see any other food around).

She can crawl crazy fast when she chooses. Mostly, this happens when she is "escaping" or heading to the computer/wires. I say "escaping" because she makes a mad dash for the door of her room if she thinks something more interesting might be happening out there. We'll be playing in her room (or the living room) and then she'll turn on her turbo speed and take off. After she goes a few meters she'll look back over her shoulder in order to make sure I'm watching and/or following before continuing onward. And she'll giggle like she's the funniest and sneakiest person in the world as she does so. So. Stinking. Cute.

Evie is very much still in the put-everything-in-her-mouth stage, but it is lessening to some degree. Before placing an object in her mouth (other than food of course), she'll play with it and examine it for a little while. Yes, she put that sock in her mouth all on her own ;)

What else has this crazy thing been up to?? Hmm... She is starting to try and stand all on her own. She'll pull up on something and then balance on her feet while letting go of the object for a split second. I'm sure that she will keep on practicing! She also has gotten better at turning pages in books. We have a touch and feel book out from the library right now (which I actually renewed to keep longer) that she loves! When I read it with her I'll show her how to feel the different parts of the pages and she totally does it! Sometimes she'll then grab my finger and pull it over the part of the page that has the sensory item (thus mimicking what I just did to show her how to feel it). Isn't she just the cutest and the smartest baby you've ever met?? (Excluding your own, heh.)


Er...not much has changed for me in the past month or so. Hah. Working out is going really well and I've dropped a few more pounds. I got back to the high end of my pre-baby weight a few months ago and am now at the low end of it. (Weight is variable folks, so I "judge" it with a 5-lb window; thus the "high" and "low" points of pre-baby weight.) And, more important of an indicator than weight, my jeans are loose! Which is crazy to me. Proof that exercise works! (Along with a balanced, semi-healthy diet, hahahah) Again, if you want any tips/tricks for eating healthier/better or exercising, shoot me an email or message :) *my degree is in Public Health for those who don't know*

I finished the Mistborn trilogy and The Alloy of Law and am now reading Steelheart (all by Brandon Sanderson). Upon finishing the first series I texted Camille and had her bring me the rest of Sanderson's books that I hadn't read yet. He is that good. If you love fantasy, go read Mistborn! I cannot praise it enough. My sister, Camille, and I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss books while she was visiting :)

Other tidbits about me....I've been better about meal planning (that was a goal I had set after doing the previous update) and will typically plan 2 weeks at a time, to coincide with my shopping trips. On the "off" weeks I will do a smaller grocery store run. Typical store list on those weeks? Milk, bread, and produce. Hmm, what else? I've been thinking that I should organize/clean out different things. Today I actually did! I got out a bin and closed us in Evie's room so I wouldn't have to stop her from going to the computer. I then proceeded to get rid of nearly every "Certificate of Achievement" for school subjects that I had kept in a binder up until this point. Why was I keeping them this entire time? No clue, guys. No. Clue. 


Since he is taking this semester off from school in order to work, his graduation date is now May 2017. He is still working in the ICU as a nurse assistant and loves it! It is hard work though. He does his best to not be too tired when he gets home, and is still awesome about playing with Evie and doing her bath after dinner each night. 

He is excited for Hunting Season!! Next week is the "early season" where you can hunt on private property for antler-less deer, and he is counting down the days! I am undecided as of yet as to whether Evie and I will join him down at Camp David for those days. Also, Evie and Graham once again have matching outfits. My mom and sister found an adorable coat at Walmart to match Graham's favorite flannel shirt. I say once again, because we bought her a fleece plaid coat/outfit when she was a newborn. Picture of that in this post  (it's towards the top, so you don't have to look through all of the pictures if you don't want, but spoiler alert: They're adorable.) 

On the days he is off from work he enjoys playing on the computer (he plays Diablo III), watching Netflix (currently watching my Dad's favorite--NCIS), and spending time with myself and Evie of course. Yesterday he went to storytime at the library with us and Evie had a blast dancing with her Daddy at the end when the music was playing. He also played a fun-filled game of "Don't Break the Ice" with Evie this past weekend. Needless to say, my Mom got a ton of great pictures of them playing together :)  


We're blessed to have time as a family so often since Graham works 3 days a week (12 hour shifts). I love the latest family picture that Mom took of us this past weekend as well. Go Razorbacks! 

Also, we decided to take the challenge presented in General Conference this past weekend to "Ponderize" scriptures each and every week. (More about that in the talk "My Heart Pondereth Them Continually") 

This week I chose a verse from The New Testament. Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." 

Graham chose a verse from The Book of Mormon. Mormon 2:19 "And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day." 

Each time that I post, I'll post what our scriptures are for that week. Sound good? If you're also doing this, I'd love to hear what verse you've picked as well as any experiences you've had while taking the time to ponderize a verse of scripture each and every week. 

From Marissa, with love