Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Ain't About How Fast I Get There...It's the CLIMB!"

Alright Wasatch Back 2012!  This past weekend was a BLAST!  My favorite part was getting to do Matt's first BIG running event with him- and the fact that he LOVED it!  It makes me really happy that we got to do something so hard yet so rewarding together and encourage each other and make it through.  It was really fun to see him start to get so excited about all his kills (all the people he ran past on his legs of Ragnar).  He was a rock star and I'm really proud of him for finishing it.

Our van was such a blast!  We got to meet Millie and Mario- both were tremendous assets to our team.  Annie had about a bajillion kills on every single one of her legs- dang that girl can run!  Very impressive! 

Mario really cranked out his legs- especially the 4.4 mile first half of Guardsman Pass- holy smokes that was steep!  What a champ!  

I unfortunately, had the priviledge of doing the second half- 4 miles- with an increase of almost 1700 feet.  They say that's the hardest leg out of all the legs in any of the Ragnar races.  I would believe it.  The title of this entry definitely comes from that leg.  Ha.  I had to walk a whole lot of that leg- even walking up it made your calves just burn- seriously they were on FIRE!  So I was trying to tell myself that it didn't matter how fast I got up there- just that I made it.  During the first half- Mario's half- we passed a girl throwing up as she tried making it up.  Honestly, that's understandable.  It was HOT.  I got near the top of the leg and saw this monster hill left and almost started crying when I realized it was actually part of Melissa's leg- not mine.  Poor girl. 

However, the coolest thing I've ever seen was after about 2 miles on that leg, Melissa's knee gave out and she literally did a somersault, then just got up and kept running like nothing had happened.  Melissa definitely had the most miles out of anyone, and she handled it like a rock star. 

We are already looking forward to Vegas Ragnar in November, and are making plans for our team for next year's Wasatch Back.  I'm really grateful that we got to make it through this thing- and I'm especially grateful that Matt loved it too.  Stay tuned for future summer adventures and more races!  :)
This is the Ragnar leg- my last leg.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Gonna push it to the limit, give it more..."

So, it happened!  Crystal, Melissa and I all finished our first full marathon!!!  Wow, that was SO HARD but SO COOL!!!  My rockstar cousin Crystal finished in 4 hours.  Holy awesome!  Melissa and I weren't as speedy but we finished AND we accomplished our goal of running the whole thing- that's right we didn't walk at all.  We felt pretty good about that. 
So I woke up at 3:10 in the morning to get ready and head over to Melissa's to carpool up to get on the bus.  We got there just before 5 and got on the bus to head up the canyon.  We got to the start at 5:30, which meant we got to spend an hour and a half freezing up there waiting for the race to start.  They had fire pits that everyone hovered around, so then we got to smell all smokey before we got sweaty and gross from running.  :)  We started right at 7 and were pretty nervous.
Melissa and I met the coolest guy around about mile 10.5... his name is George.  He started talking to us- giving us tips about the course.  We asked how many marathons he has done and he said this was his 144th.  Holy smokes!  He spent about the next 2 1/2 miles talking to us, telling us about his favorite marathons he has done.  He's done the St. George Marathon 24 times, the Boston Marathon 3 times (although he said he has qualified for it 8-9 times), New York once, and a bunch of others.  The coolest one he told us that he's done is the Bataan Memorial Death March.  Here's the site if you want to read about it: http://www.bataanmarch.com/ This is technically a military marathon but they open it to the public.  It's held in honor of those who served in WWII defending the Philippines.  He said it was the most emotionally taxing marathon he's ever done.  At the beginning they show a movie about what the prisoners of war went through and talk about the Bataan Memorial Death March. 
"On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.

They were marched for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces."

George said that the gun went off to start the race, and everyone just stood there and he couldn't figure out why they weren't moving.  When he finally made his way up to the start, he said all the survivors were lining the start so everyone could stop and shake their hands.  After doing that, he started running but the people in front still weren't moving very quickly.  After a few minutes, as he began passing people, he realized that was because there were amputees running in front of him.  He said some had no legs but were doing the whole marathon with just crutches!  After getting over being choked up over that, he got to the running part.  Then, he said, at the finish, the survivors were lining the finish too, so he got to shake their hands and thank them again.  It sounded like a really incredible marathon.  I thought it was really cool that a guy that could have easily smoked us ran with us for almost 3 miles until we got to the halfway point.  :)

The course was gorgeous.  We got to run around the reservoir, over a dam and at one point, we were running past a bunch of horses and they started running along side us- that was pretty cool.  It was a beautiful day and we had a nice breeze going- it was incredible.
By the time we got to mile 17, we had to stop for a quick bathroom break- we had been drinking water at every water station because it was a little warm, and we ate Cliff bars everytime they gave those out.  After making that quick stop, my legs didn't want to keep moving, but Melissa was determined to make us keep running the whole way, so she pushed me to keep running.  Around mile 18, we ran into a guy with an artificial leg.  Wow.  That made me realize I had better quit complaining about my legs hurting- at least I had both of them.  Then, we saw a girl with a sign on her back that said, "Survivor: celebrating 11 years cancer free".  Holy smokes.  There are some really cool people running marathons- let me tell you...
When we got to about 20 miles, we started hurting... alot.  Melissa's sister Angela was going to join us at mile 22, so we just kept telling ourselves we got to see Angela soon and kept going.  When we finally got to Angela (at about 22.5) we were both so happy we wanted to just cry.  Angela was very encouraging and made us feel cool and like we could finish.
My wonderful, amazing husband was going to meet us a mile before the finish to run the final stretch with us, but he actually caught up to us a mile and a half before the end, which I was SO happy about.  I always love seeing Matt, but I don't think I've ever been that happy to.  He was so sweet and encouraging- it was very helpful.  The last stretch was so hard!!!  Every step hurt and the finish didn't seem to be getting any closer.  Angela and Matt kept cheering us on though, and when we saw our families and they were cheering for us, that helped a ton too.  The last 15ish feet, Melissa and I sprinted it out and ran across the finish line.  It felt so good to be done!!!  Then we got chocolate milk and bread and I got a creamy.  Delicious.  It was so neat to finally finish what we've been training for since February.  Looking back, it was hard, but I think I could do it again.  Probably no more than one each year, because that takes a lot of time and work.  For the rest of this year, I think I'll stick to Ragnars and half marathons... and the Dirty Dash of course. :)
This is Melissa, Angela, Matt and me running down to the finish

After the race- the traditional Neel family pose

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Even Crazy Dreams Come True"

So it was brought to my attention that I haven't updated this blog for months, and it turns out that quite a few things have happened this year! 

1. I married my best friend in the entire world on March 8th, 2012 in the Salt Lake temple.  This was without a doubt the most wonderful, perfect day of my life so far!  I couldn't believe how many people came out to celebrate with us!  It was a beautiful day- first we were sealed at 11- I thought that was a pretty great time.  Not too early, but we still had time to take some pictures before our lunch at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Matt's parents arranged that whole thing and it was just perfect- his mom made the cute centerpieces and his dad made our slide show which I just loved (there are some pretty cute pictures of Matt- if you didn't get to see it, come over and I'll show it to you ;) ).  Matt's dad had a microphone and opened it up for people to come up and say something- I was surprised when both my brothers and my sister went up to say something.  They were so sweet, I started bawling. 
After the lunch, we went to our reception at Heritage Gardens.  Everyone made that so perfect!  Annie picked up our centerpieces so those were already set up and ready to go, our cake was gorgeous (thanks to Rebekah Poppleton- I can give you her card- she's amazing!) and delicious... I've been looking for an excuse to get another ever since.  We had the most fun DJ ever- he even got the dads and brothers and Matt to dance while ridiculously dressed- if you missed that, you'll have to check out the pictures.  A BIG thank you to everyone that helped with everything for the wedding and to everyone who came.  :)  Best day ever!

2. Tomorrow I am graduating from the University of Utah with two of my best buds- Melissa and Torri.  I couldn't have made it without these girls.  They definitely got me through.  Sadly, Torri is now moving to Colorado so her husband can go to pharmacy school and she can do a program to be an ultrasound tech- pretty cool.  Good thing I still get to hang out with Melissa- in fact, Matt and I moved to Bountiful so I get to run with Melissa every week which leads to the upcoming third thing:
3. Melissa and I are doing the Ogden Marathon on May 19- Melissa's birthday.  Crazy girl- who wants to spend 4-5 hours running on their birthday, right?  Well let me tell ya- this girl.  She is hard core and it was one of her goals to run a marathon by the time she turned 22... so she's doing it ON her 22nd birthday.  What a rockstar!  I am sure I would have quit by now if it hadn't been for her making me keep going on those long runs.  We've gotten up to 18 miles and will be running 20 this Saturday. 

4. I somehow got admitted to the grad program for Speech Pathology at the University of Utah, so I will be starting that in August.  In the meantime, Matt and I are planning on going to Hawaii and St. George and hopefully Disneyland this summer- to have as much fun together while we can. 

5. I somehow got Matt to agree to start running even though he hates it.  We did his first 5k- Color Me Rad- this past Saturday.  Emma Kofoed- my favorite 10-year-old, did it with us as well.  It was a blast and made us all want to do more races.  As a result, Matt and I are going to be doing Wasatch Back Ragnar next month AND Vegas Ragnar in November.  I'm also trying to talk him into trying a half marathon at the end of the summer, so stay tuned for that. :) 

Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted on the adventures of Matt and Charisse trying to learn how to be responsible (if you look at all the faces we made on our wedding day, you'll appreciate the challenge that must be) and figure out married life in Boutiful, Utah.  Also- I'll have pictures for graduation and the marathon, etc. coming soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you"

So back in about May last year, I met this incredibly sweet, good-looking guy named Matt Wright. Unfortunately, it was on a double date, and he was not my date. Ha. But we talked to each other quite a bit on the date and had a lot of fun. But then I didn’t see much more of him other than seeing him across the room in church or once at Smokey Mountain Pizza when I went in to buy cheese bread (he worked there).
Well then in July, I moved downtown so I could be closer to work and school. For those of you who don’t know, I work doing IT support over the phone for the LDS Church. One day in September, I was at work and I heard someone come up behind me and say “Hey Charisse.” I turned around and saw Matt standing there. I asked what he was doing there and he said he had just been hired and was now going to be on the hardware team- my team. Well he ended up sitting in the cubicle next to me, so we started talking all day every day. At the end of October, I finally got him to ask me out. We went to the Odyssey dance production of Thriller at Kingsbury Hall. Prior to this, I had been frustrated with myself and with dating and had been praying about it and told Heavenly Father that I have commitment issues and that He would probably have to make it pretty obvious when I met the person He wanted me to marry if that was ever going to happen.
Anyway, so Matt and I went to Thriller and just really hit it off. We had been talking so much prior to our first date that it was completely comfortable the whole time. He brought me flowers and he held my hand during the performance and I got big time butterflies. It was pretty fantastic. Well then, the next day we decided to go to the Witch Hunt at Gardner Village and on the way we were talking about how crazy it was that we both ended up working together and were talking about how it seemed like the whole “us dating” thing was kinda meant to be. He said “Charisse, do you even know how I got this job?” He then proceeded to tell me that he hadn’t even applied at the Global Service Center, but that our boss, Bob, found his resume on the internet and called him to offer him the job. When he told me that, I got this little voice in my head that said, “Can I make it any more obvious for you?” I got goosebumps. Pretty cool eh?
Well, Matt and I kept dating… a lot. In fact, we haven’t had a day since our first date that we haven’t spent together. I just feel like he’s become my best friend and I just can’t get enough of him. So we started talking about getting married and all that jazz because even though I thought the “When it’s right, it’s right” mindset was a little crazy and I was always against getting married super fast.
So for Christmas, Matt got me a gift certificate to take scuba lessons, because that was the top thing on my bucket list. So last night, we had our appointment to go to Dive Addicts in Draper for our class. We went and got in our gear and started the class- there were two other people in the class with us. So we would go under the water and the instructor would show us how to do a particular skill and then he would point to each of us, one at a time, and we would do the skill. We went through the class to the last skill we were going to do- hovering in the deep end of the pool. So we went down to the deep end and the other two people we were with did their hovering, and then I went. Well, Matt was the only one left and suddenly our instructor’s equipment malfunctioned and he had to go up (this freaked Matt out a lot but he didn’t tell me that until later). Well he fixed it and we went back down. He had all of us line up along the wall opposite Matt so he could do his hovering skill. Well suddenly, as Matt was swimming there, this sign came floating down that said “Charisse will you marry me?” and Matt swam over and grabbed my hand and put a ring on my finger. I was super shocked and couldn’t say anything cause we were under water! Haha. Well we all played around at the bottom for a little while and then it was time to go. So we got out of the pool and I still hadn’t really said anything. So Matt walked me out to his car and we drove to the Draper temple. He made me get out and walk over to the front of the temple. I was in a towel and my swim suit this whole time- keep in mind (we definitely got some weird looks!). So when we got to the front, he gave me a bouquet of lilies- my favorite flowers- and knelt down and said something to the effect of “Charisse Elizabeth Horne, you are my best friend and I want to spend all of time and eternity with you- will you marry me?” So I said “of course!” and we jumped back in the car to go tell our families. The ring was perfect- I really like it. I helped pick out the setting and he got the diamond.
I am ridiculously spoiled and feel like the luckiest girl in the world to get to spend the rest of forever with my best friend. We are still trying to work out the wedding date with school stuff, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Lights Will Guide You Home"

Last Tuesday, my uncle Scott- my mom's sister Valeri's husband- passed away unexpectedly. Over the past week, all three of my mom's 3 brothers and my cousins all flew out here to help out and to be here for the funeral. It was really neat to see how everyone came together to support my aunt Valeri and her family through this time. It was really nice for us all to be together again- I haven't seen them all together since my grandpa's funeral 5 years ago. The weekend was filled with hugs and tears and some laughs as well just because my family is amazing. I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to be comforted by someone that understands perfectly what we are going through. I am really sad for my cousins who just lost their dad. Two of them, Scotty and Shauni, spoke at the funeral and did an awesome job. It was a really nice service. Scotty and his cute wife, Aleese, sang my all time favorite song "Count, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It was so awesome. I was bawling through the whole thing. I was impressed that they made it to the last verse before breaking down. The whole day was very bittersweet. I can't imagine going to a funeral not believing that we can see our loved ones again. It's hard enough doing without them for just a little while here on earth. I came away from this whole thing just grateful for the gospel though. I don't have a doubt that we will all see the people we love again and I am so grateful for that knowledge and the peace it brings during tough times like this. The gospel is true! :)

(Our family is tough- we can get through anything!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"I Just Wanna Run..."

So last week was a little crazy. On the 16th, my cousin Crystal and I ran "The Other Half" in Moab. That was a pretty fun time in spite of our detour that took us somehow into Colorado due to my cousin's instructions that "it's a straight shot".... We just wanted to take the scenic route I guess. I liked the course though. There were a couple hills, but a lot was fairly flat or downhill. At about mile 10, my IT band started bothering me a lot and I slowed way down. I was still able to beat my time from my last half though and finished in 2:14:20. Next time I do one I'm shooting for 2 hours or less, like my amazing cousin did this time. We'll see how that goes. The best part was that we got lost on the way home as well, so it ended up taking us about an extra hour and a half. We're not the best with directions...

Well then this past weekend, I got to go to Las Vegas to run the Vegas Ragnar. I'm not gonna lie, I did it for the super cool medal. You get a really neat one for doing two Ragnars in the same year. So I got to be on a team full of people I didn't know.

Driving down there to even start the race was a mess. There was so much traffic and construction that it took my mom and me 8 hours to get to Vegas from Salt Lake, and on the way we managed to have a piece of something flip up and dent the hood of the rental car and crack the windshield. Not cool. By the time we got there, we were both frustrated and starving and bawling. Ha not a good way to start a two day race. It ended up being ok though. We got to our hotel and made it the next morning in time for me to meet my team and go to breakfast with them. They were all way fun and super cool people. Mostly from California but one from Vegas and one from Washington.

We ended up having one of our team members drop out due to an injury and we almost weren't able to finish the race, but somehow we got through and finished Saturday night around 6:30. It was definitely an adventure.

It's funny how the harder things are, the more you appreciate being done and the better you feel about your accomplishments. I also really appreciated my parents going down with me and being so supportive of what I wanted to do. I am pretty dang lucky. :)