Although my most recent road-trip didn't involve TP-laced beverages, I did manage a few "firsts":
- visited Utah
- ran a half-marathon
- experienced culture shock
I've lived in Arizona since mid-2004 and made it a goal to see UT before I departed from this region of the country. I'm not an outdoors kind of gal. I've had intense allergies since I was a teen so I tend to not get along with anything that floats in the air. Based on this alone, (not to mention the fact that I scream every time I see a bug) UT doesn't seem like a good match for me right off the get-go. Here's the catch: I'm fascinated with geology. How in the world did two--or three--land masses collide to make that rock formation?! What caused those smooth holes to form on the face of that plateau in symmetrical patterns? It's beyond me but I spent much of the drive pondering questions like these.
There was still snow on the mountains in June
The end of the Grand Canyon
I learned that, I can NOT train for a long race and make it out with my joints (pretty much) intact. I started training when I initially signed up for the race back in February--pinky promise I did. It lasted for a month and a half before my knee (the one I had surgery on in 2009) decided that it wasn't going to cooperate. I wasn't going to back out of the race so I made up my mind to walk the 13.1 miles. Anyone who finished within 4 hours received a finishers medal. This was my goal. This meant that I needed an 18:19/mile pace--totally doable.
Within the first couple miles I noticed that I was hovering around 14-15 min/mile so I started to do the math..... If I jogged the downhill sections I could improve my pace and make it to the finish line in under 3 hours. New goal! My final time was 02:55:12. I'm not gonna lie though, right around mile marker 9 every joint in the lower half of my body was in pain. Not the "I have a hemorrhoid that needs operating" kind of pain but the, "I've been pounding my limbs into the ground for 9 miles" kind of pain. And no, I've not had a hemorrhoid but I know someone you could ask if you have any concerns for yourself--or a "friend."
FYI, lateral movement doesn't exist after 13.1 miles
The race was in Provo, UT which is an hour drive south of Salt Lake City. I was well aware before the journey that Utah is Mormon territory and had a vague idea of what their beliefs are but I wasn't prepared for what I saw. Foreword: I understand that Mormonism fervently fosters familial relationships and that this is a major focus in their relationship with God. Additionally, I am not judging, only stating my observations and my own personal reactions. That being said, I have never (EVER) seen so many children in all my life. I saw girls between 20-23 with a toddler and another on the way, sometimes two toddlers and a bun in the oven. OMGeesus.
The point of this story is that I've never experienced culture shock before. I'm accustomed to new environments and, for the most part, tend to fit in easily. I attended seventeen (yes, 17) different schools K-12, moved to Va Beach, VA at age 19, joined the military a few years later (which in itself implies more moving/traveling and a large diversity of people), and am currently a non-traditional student at UA. I've seen a fair share of lifestyles but have never been left speechless.
After the race I headed north to SLC and stayed downtown which was much more my pace. The city has an awesome public transit system (huge kudos) although the street numbering system is convoluted. U of U is on my list of graduate schools so I decided to scope out the campus. My mind is so tainted from living in the desert for seven years that I can't tell if I would actually enjoy attending uni there or if I'm in desperate need of greenery. Definitely not crossing it off of the list just yet. Who knows, if I become a Ute maybe I'll convert to Mormonism and have a litter to call my very own.
Number 38 on my list of visited states