Sunday, June 29, 2014

American Fork Canyon Half Marathon

In keeping with tradition of running a half after having each of my boys, I recently ran the American Fork Half Marathon.

It's been so nice training for this one because I have my own treadmill at home now and access to an awesome trail system by our house. I followed a new training schedule and though I didn't follow it religiously, (especially since I took an entire week off while we were in Ireland) I really liked it. Surprisingly, I am not sick of running like I usually am when it is all over.

I was also lucky enough to win a free entry into the race through a promo they did on Facebook. Even though I got to run for free, one thing I really did like was 100% of the proceeds went to support local cancer patients. The race organizers encouraged everyone to run for someone, so I decided to run in memory of my aunt Mary, who passed away from cancer a little more than two years ago, and I wore a purple ribbon in her honor. It was inspiring seeing all the different ribbons, photos, and names people wore in the race.

The course started at Tibble Fork in American Fork Canyon and ended at American Fork High School. One of the reasons I really wanted to run this race was because it felt like it was in my backyard!

Race start at Tibble Fork

The course was beautiful, and by far my favorite I've run. I loved that the first half or so was in the canyon and the last half passed through the golf course, park, and neighborhoods. I never got bored, which made the race fly by for me. It ended up seeing a friend riding his bike up the canyon, as well as some neighbors who happened to be running and had forgotten there was a race that day! I was surprised and moved when I saw a friend near the end who had come to cheer me on. It seemed like everything came together and contributed to me feeling the best I have ever felt during a half. 

I finished in 1:57:02, which I am happy with. I wasn't trying to beat my best time, but I wanted to keep it under 2 hours. 

I'm always so happy to see my handsome boys at the finish!

And I LOVED the messages some friends surprised me with on my driveway! 

To anyone looking for an awesome race, I HIGHLY recommend this one. It was insanely organized (seriously, I swear they thought of every tiny detail), beautiful, and even the race tee was awesome. Also, you get Kneader's french toast at the finish, which is never a bad thing!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ireland: Day 6

We started our last day in Ireland packing up and saying farewell to the Loch Lein House (the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Killarney). We started each day there with a yummy breakfast. 

This is the traditional full Irish breakfast I ordered one morning: an egg, sausage, bacon (though their bacon is almost more like ham), tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, toast, and pudding (black and white). 

There was porridge for Davis, though we couldn't get him to eat much! See the pitchers on the table to the right? I loved them, and asked about them, and it turned out they were made by a famous Irish potter named Nicholas Mosse. I ended up finding some of his stuff for sale while shopping later in the day and was able to buy a cute little bowl to bring home!

View from the breakfast room towards the lake.

Standing at the entrance to the house, with Loch Lein (one of the lakes of Killarney) in the background. At night, you could see an old castle across the lake when the sun hit it just right.

We loved our stay at the Loch Lein. Paul and Annette were so friendly and helpful, and our room was awesome. After saying our goodbyes, we packed up and headed out. 

Our first stop was at the Rock of Cashel. This is the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century and was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years before the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster donated his fortress to the church.

The building was so beautiful and striking up on the hill surrounded by the green countryside.

The majority of the buildings on the site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. The oldest building is the round tower, dating from around c. 1100.

Inside the cathedral.

View from within the walls and looking down onto the remains of the abbey. 

View of the abbey through an arrow slit in the fortress wall.

Checking out the graveyard.

View on our way out of town.

After touring the Rock, we headed to the city of Kilkenny to grab lunch and do a little shopping before heading back to Dublin. We ate lunch at the highly recommended Cafe Mocha (now called Mocha's Vintage Tea Rooms). It was really good and was a fun atmosphere. They even had a gluten free brownie for Sean!

Kilkenny's streets were some of my very favorite.

Loved all of the cute little shops.

When I saw these plates in the window, I knew I had to have them (specifically, the one second to the left that says, 'Other planets cannot be as beautiful as ours'). I was hoping to find something on our trip to put in our home and this was it! I love it. And seeing as this was a trip to celebrate our 10-year-anniversay, I thought it fit perfectly.

I also found this in the same store (honestly, I could have bought everything in there). I bought it as a reminder of my new love of Ireland and celebrating our anniversary there.

My Nicholas Mosse bowl!

We finished the day walking around Kilkenny castle and taking a short tour inside. 

This castle was built in 1195 and had people living in it all the way until 1935, which seems crazy to me!

King of the castle :)

After the castle, we headed back to Dublin and spent the night near the airport so we could catch our flight in the morning. Our flights home went smoothly and Davis was a champ. The flight attendants and people sitting nearby couldn't believe how well behaved Davis was. What a relief!

It was good to get home after a long day of travel and so good to see Jackson and Bode. I feel like we had the trip of a lifetime and I am SO glad we went. Ireland lived up to and exceeded my expectations. It is a beautiful place, full of beautiful people, and rich in history and culture. We left with some amazing memories. I hope someday we will get the chance to return.

A HUGE thanks to my mom for taking a week out of her life to come to our house and take care of the boys. And another huge thanks to my sister for helping also. Without them, our trip would not have been possible!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ireland: Day 5

The next morning we woke up early and set out for the Cliffs of Moher. We were a bit nervous because it was raining really hard in Killarney when we left and we had been warned that if the weather is really bad at the cliffs, you can't see them because they are covered in mist. We decided to take our chances and went anyway. 

It was a bit of a drive, but as always, we enjoyed the scenery along the way. 

We were lucky and had a break in the rain when we made it to the cliffs and we were able to see them in all their glory.

To get an idea of the size of the cliffs, the little dots on the top of the cliff on the left are people. They were HUGE and so cool. The recent rain gave them an almost mystical quality.

It was really windy at the top-- and chilly!

O'Brien's Tower: built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, a descendent of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. I know I have O'Brien's in my family tree-- maybe we're related!

Making the trek back down to the car.

After the cliffs we headed towards the Dingle Penninsula. We missed catching the Shannon Ferry by about 5 minutes. I was really bummed, but it ended up being a good thing.  During our spare hour we went into a nearby town and hit up a yummy bakery and pharmacy. Davis got thrush while we were over there, and luckily, the pharmacy just gave us the medicine to treat it, no questions asked. I wish things ran more like that here in the states!

Riding the ferry. Ours is the little blue car in the middle :)

Our drive to Dingle was really beautiful. I kept telling Sean it looked just like the Ireland I have always pictured in my mind.

Beautiful countryside broken up into sections by hedges, and of course, sheep everywhere.

Cool beach on the Dingle Pennisula

I'd heard a lot of good things about the city of Dingle and it was really charming. We walked through the main streets and did a little shopping before the stores closed.

Love these colorful boats. And I love the sheep on the hill in the background!

We made the trek back to Killarney, stopping at a pub in a nearby town for dinner (where we saw an Irish man drain a whoooooooole lot of Guiness). We were now down to our last day in Ireland!