Fall-a-pa-looza

Fall is my favorite time of year. Leaves turn, bugs die, the air is crisp and the humidity disappears. Plus, my birthday is in October (best month ever, duh!) so what’s not to love? This fall has been frantic, in a good way. I’ll give you the Readers Digest version (NO ONE under 40 is going to get that reference. Ha.)

My birthday was a big one…55. The speed limit. A Sammy Hagar reference. AARP worthy. And it was lovely. The weekend before I participated in a marathon relay that benefits Back on My Feet, an organization that assists homeless people trying to get their lives back on track. Our team of 6 ran a total of 26.2 miles in a little over 5 hours. Pretty cool stuff. My birthday was mid-week, and pretty low key. We were leaving on vacation the next day, so too much frantic packing, unpacking, and repacking was happening to really celebrate too much. But I knew adventure awaited.

We flew out the following day for Phoenix. I’ve not spent much time in the southwest, except for the occasional trip to Las Vegas. Not a huge Vegas fan, but Red Rocks Canyon outside the city is amazing. After staying overnight in Phoenix we headed north to Sedona. The drive was pretty basic…brown desert and enormous saguaro all around. But as soon as we turned off the interstate onto the highway to Sedona, everything changed. Too many words to describe it, but suffice it to say it was breathtaking. The entire earth changed color, the air was cooler, and the landscape was just amazing. I know we drove for miles with our mouths hanging open, completely in awe of what we were seeing. Nothing like this in the Midwest, for sure. We checked into our condo and wandered around. For a week we hiked, climbed, ate, and slept. We rode in a jeep to the top of the Colorado Plateau, where we saw newly scattered human remains. Trust me, there are worse places to spend eternity. The sky is so clear at night that you can actually see the Milky Way. One day we drove north to Flagstaff (cool town) and up to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Taking the ski lift from 6000 ft elevation up to 11,500 feet was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. From the top we could see the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and on a clear day, Mexico. It was off the charts cool.

A bit about Sedona itself. I’ve always heard about the spiritual aspect of the vortexes in the area. I’m not at all religious, although I’m always open to signs from Brock or spiritual coincidences. I certainly wasn’t expecting any great revelations to come from this trip. But at one vortex site, Boynton Canyon, things just felt different. I climbed part of the way up, and just sat down to listen to a man sitting on the top of the spire playing Native American flute music. I honestly felt a strange peace come over me. I could have stayed there all day…the temperature was perfect, the breeze was cool, and the view was amazing. For a few minutes I even stopped looking around for fire ants/scorpions/tarantulas/rattlesnakes. It was definitely a cool experience. Maybe there is something to it all? My inner hippie was happy and peaceful. Definitely one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve had in a while.

Coming back from our trip, I had 3 weeks of training left before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I did this race last year as my first half marathon. I was eager to do it again, because it’s a great course through downtown Indy, and I wanted to see if I could better my time from last year. Training went well (all those SLOW miles in 90 degree heat had paid off) and I was as ready as I was going to be. So last Saturday I toed the line with 17,000 of my closest friends (and one really good friend doing her very first half marathon!) (She killed it, btw) and off we went. I was a little disappointed in my race…bad foot pain from mile 7 on (blaming my shoes?) and weird fueling issues (yes, you have to eat during a race that takes you 2.5+ hours to complete). I managed to finish 5 minutes faster than last year so I’ll take it, but I’m still replaying it in my brain to see what I could have changed. Paralysis by analysis, as my lawyer friend likes to say. I’ll be mulling it over for days to come. But I did it. 13.1 miles. Boom. Kinda badass for an old gal, don’t you think?

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