Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Vacation Part 3: Yosemite, Reno, and Will's 100 Mile Race

Before I tell you about Yosemite National Park, I have to tell you about how we almost lost Preston at Motel 6 in Modesto.

We were packing up in the morning to get ready to head out again for the day. I was down by the car getting things organized, and Will was going up and down the stairs getting our bags and things. Taylor was in his car seat, and Preston was busy climbing the stairs and being Will's shadow.

After about 15 minutes of packing the car, I asked Will where Preston was. He said "I don't know, isn't he with you?". I said "No, I thought he was with you...?"

I thought, oh great, he's probably playing around the staircase way on the other side. I went to the stairs and he wasn't there and went to the top of the hallway and didn't see him anywhere either. I yelled "Preston, where are you?". No answer.

"Preston?.....Preston!" I yelled. All I heard was my voice echo down the hallway.

This was no small motel either. It was a big U-shaped building with multiple hallways and staircases and levels. Usually when I call Preston's name, I hear the pitter-pattering of little feet come running, but I didn't hear anything.

I started to panic, and thought about the fact that someone could have easily opened their motel room door and grabbed him. He could be in any of these motel rooms with strangers.

I picked up the pace in my step and started going down every hallway calling his name. My heart was racing as I realized that I couldn't believe he'd been gone for 15 minutes and neither one of us had noticed. "Preston!!" I yelled. Just then I looked across the parking lot and clear on the other side of the motel was Preston on the bottom level.

Thank goodness!! I ran down the stairs and over to him. He came walking towards me a little sheepishly like he knew he wasn't supposed to be over there. I told him "You are not supposed to go off by yourself!". Something you should know about Preston is that he has absolutely no fear of being alone or being left. There have been several times when we've been to leave a place and he wasn't ready to go and wouldn't obey to come get in the car, and so we "threatened" to leave him there. He was perfectly happy about that and walked off, even with us pretending to drive off in the car. We quickly realized that that little tactic did not work on Preston.

Anyway, he came walking towards me with a handful of candy and said, "Look mama, I gots candies for the trip!".

I was like, "Ummm, where did you get that?".

Each of the motel rooms have a little bowl of candy in the bathrooms. He said "In a room." So I asked him "Which room?" and he said "Um, I nunno." I then realized that he no longer had his Mater and Thomas the Train toys in his hand either, and I could only assume that he left them in whatever room he found the candy. Great.

So I took him by the hand and after scolding him for going into someone else's room, told him that we needed to go and look for his toys. I kept asking him where he left them, but he couldn't tell me. After walking down a few hallways, we turned a corner and in the back corner of the motel was an open motel room door. Fortunately nobody was inside, but as I peeked in there were empty beer bottles and cigarette butts lying around everywhere. And there I saw Mater and Thomas the Train sitting on the TV stand. I quietly snuck in and grabbed them and then left.

Preston got a hefty lecture on not going off by himself. I tried to explain to him that there are bad people out there who do mean things to children, but when I tried to tell him that, there was a scared look on his face. I did want to scare him, but I didn't want him to get too scared where he started thinking everyone was a bad person. How do you explain that to a 3 year old?

For the next 2 hours of our car ride I kept replaying scenarios in my head of what could of happened, and I was so mad at myself for letting him out of my sight. Argh. I felt like such a terrible parent that day, but was so incredibly grateful that he was okay.

Later that morning we made it to Yosemite National Park...

It was hot, hot, hot! And there were TONS of people.

I had no idea that there were so many people that visited this park - and on a weekday even. Any time there was a really scenic thing to look at, there wouldn't even be a spot to pull over because there were so many cars.


Once we left the Yosemite valley floor, we got to see some really beautiful views.

Ha ha had to stick that picture in of my hot husband. LOL

We drove to a lookout point called "Glacier Point", which is at the top of a waterfall. You can hike out to a lookout point, and the view is literally straight down.

I really don't take to heights very well.

Back on the valley floor as the sun was starting to set for the evening...and there were less people, we actually enjoyed Yosemite. But due to the fact that you have to make camping reservations 9 months in advance, we were not staying there that night. So we needed to make the drive back into a town to find a motel for the night.

The next morning it was my birthday! I can't say that I was excited about turning 34, but whatever. I was having a ton of fun on our family vacation and that is what was exciting!

We made it to Reno that afternoon and met up with Will's parents, Tessha, and our nephew Sitani.

The next day, Will and I and the kids drove up to the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, which is where the starting line was for Will's 100 mile race (The Western States Endurance Run).

It didn't really hit Will, until we got to Squaw Valley, how close he was to his race. He started getting a little bit nervous and told me that at his physical check-in his blood pressure was pretty high, which is not normal for him. And his pulse was in the 70s, when it is normally in the 40s or 50s at resting.

He had to go to a pre-race meeting with all of the other runners...

And he checked out the starting line...

After we got back to our hotel, I had fun painting crew tshirts for everyone to wear on race day...

Will spent quite a lot of time getting his drop-bags ready and preparing for the race. He needed to have a drop bag at each aide station (if he so chose to). His drop bag contained whatever he needed such as different socks, shoes, medicine, gel refills, candy, etc. While they do supply gels and food at the aide stations, sometimes he can only stomach certain brands or kinds and so he brings his own.

A tired, but cute, Taylor...

The boys watching a movie on Grandma's bed...

Swimming at the pool...

Will making me a "to do" list, as well as directions of where to meet him during the race. The man was so organized he gave me a spreadsheet of times where we could come meet him depending on the pace he was running (which was broadcast online). It was very helpful and he was pretty spot-on for his times too.

These two little cute boys had a lot of fun together! They were best buds the entire trip. At first Preston kept calling him "The cousin", and then finally called him "Tani" (short for Sitani), and one time he said "Hey papa, where did that big guy go?". Hahahaha. I guess if you are 3 years old, a 5 year old can look pretty big to you.

Will got some fun time in at the pool, even though he should have been napping to get some sleep before the big race. I think he preferred to spend time with the family though.

Although, I think Will may have regretted spending the time swimming, because later that night he only got a grand total of 3 hours of sleep thanks to our two boys who were keeping us up.

We all got up at 3:30am and got ready to leave for the day. We got there at 4:15 or so...

I do have video coverage of much of the race, but just haven't had the time to put together a race video yet. But will hopefully soon. The race start was pretty exciting. There were hundreds of people there - about 400 runners plus their families and support teams. We call counted down to the start and then they began. It was bittersweet to see them all leave the start and head up the mountain, knowing that it would be the last time we would see our loved one(s) until mile 62. I stood there next to a guy who was watching his friend run. We were both happy and sad seeing them run off and stood there as long as possible until we couldn't see them anymore.

We were all very excited to finally get to see Will, knowing that he had been running ALL day long. Our first opportunity to see him was around 9:30pm that night at the mile 62 aide station.
Normally on this race course, support teams and families are able to see the runners at other aide stations earlier, but due to the amount of snowfall this year they were not able to allow people to drive up to the other stations. So that is why we couldn't see Will until mile 62. And the place was completely packed with people too.

Will seemed pretty excited to see us, but even more excited to get some refills on gels, liquids and food. I had brought him 5 McDonalds cheeseburgers and a large Sprite, as requested by him. However, I later learned that he couldn't stomach them and ended up throwing them out.

His pacer, Hugh, met him at the mile 62 aide station as well and ran the remainder of the race with him. I am so grateful that he asked a pacer to come in at this point, because knowing he only got 3 hours of sleep the night before I was really worried about him running all through the night. He had done this once before at a different 100 mile race and ended up sleeping on the trail because he was so tired. He sort of starts to hallucinate too when he is super tired and mistakes logs for animals and vice versa. It sounds kind of funny, but yeah, I did worry about him. So I was glad he was going to have a fresh runner there to talk his ear off all night long.

The next time we got to see Will was bright and early the next morning. We got up at 6 am to make it up the canyon to meet him. He came through the mile 92 aide station around 7:15 am or so.

He did look pretty beat at mile 92 and I was worried about him a little. He didn't come running into the aide station, but was walking, and so I knew he was really tired or hurting. Knowing that hundreds of people were watching him come in, he normally would have run. I saw him ask one of the race volunteers for some tylenol so I knew he was having some issues. I talked to Hugh (his pacer) and he told me that around mile 75 or so Will really hit a wall and they just had to walk it out for a bit. And then he put on his headphones and just took off for 10 miles and really made up for lost time. He was really pushing no wonder when he came in at mile 92 he looked so beat. Although I know he got a good breakfast at this station - full of pancakes and sausages and things. He was pretty excited. :)

(this is just some random photo that the media person took during the race, I'm not sure where it is at)...

We saw him again a few miles down the road at another aide station, and then after that he only had 1 more aide station and then the finish. According to his chart that he gave me, he was calculated to come through the finish line around 10 am. I dropped off Will's mom and sister at mile 98 so that they could run the last 2 miles with him. I drove to the stadium with Will's dad and the kids. I dropped off Dan at the stadium so he could find a seat, and then I went and drove around until I was able to find a parking spot.

At that point it was only 9:15am, and so I thought I had some time. Taylor was fussy and needed to be fed, so I pulled him into the front seat with me and nursed him while Sitani and Preston played in the backseat. After I finished feeding Taylor I called Tessha and asked her if they had found Will yet. She said "Yeah he's already come through!". I was really confused, I said "Come through where?" and she said "The finish!".

My heart sank. I couldn't believe he'd already come through the finish line. I really really REALLY wanted to see him finish! I was really upset. Here we were just sitting in the car and he already came through. I was thoroughly bummed, and I knew he was probably really sad that his family wasn't there at the finish with him either. They let family and children run into the finish line with the runners, and later I learned that Will was looking all over for Preston, Sitani, and Taylor so that they could "race" with him.

So I didn't get to see him run into the finish, but instead had to catch the replay on the media footage on youtube the next day.

Thanks to Glenn T. for catching these images.
We were so proud of him! He definitely look incredibly tired after his race. He looked as though he could have fallen asleep just sitting there.

I drove him back to the motel with the kids and he instantly fell asleep, and says he doesn't remember much after that. He took a shower and fell asleep for the next 24 hours almost, with the exception of waking up to eat.

And here are the feet of a man who just ran 100 miles across the Sierra Mountains.

Will really wants to blog about his experience during the race, and has plans to do that. He can give you all of the nitty-gritty info from his point of view. He hopes to be able to do that here within the next few weeks or so.

After the race, we let Will sleep for a day and a half, and then packed up the car and took I-5 all the way home to Seattle with just one stop in Oregon for the night. It was definitely a very fun trip and we have some really awesome memories.


The Thomas Family said...

That was so fun to read. Thanks for sharing. Will has got some MAJOR endurance. Sooooo impressive.
What a memorable family trip. Happy belated birthday Jenni. :) :)

Carolyn said...

Can't wait to read the rest of the story. Sounds like you had a great time. Hmmmmmm....Preston reminds me of Michael......I needed to put a leash on him at times just to keep track of him!

Dan Thomas said...

Jenni, thanks for all your blogging. I am so sorry that you did not get to see Will finish! If somehow you could have parked where you dropped me off you might have seen him finish. I did! Thank You! He came across right after you left! I await to here of his experiences in the race. But I KNOW he was blessed.

Renae said...

I was thinking just yesterday that I really missed reading about your family on your Belly Diaries Blog. So, tonight I decided to go to your family blog to see what was up outside of your weight loss journey. I LOVED the post.

Your story about Preston so reminds me of our little story with Adam running off outside. I totally sympathize with what you were thinking and feeling, ESPECIALLY after you knew he was safe. Crazy stuff!

Loved hearing about the race. So sorry you missed the finish! That had to really stink!

Great stories!

Daniel L.Thomas said...

WOW! Amazing!

Sandy said...

It's fun to hear all about the first part of your vacation and thanks for letting us share in the last part. We loved spending time with you guys! Did I ever mention we used to call Will "Superman". I guess he's proved us right.

Emmy Southworth said...

Incredible journey. Thanks for all the details, and so upsetting about Preston. Yikes.

James and Elizabeth said...

I just love reading about your trip. SO fun. I want to come to Will's next run.