Don't you just get the worst feeling towards the end of any vacation? Who really ever wants to go back to real life and everything that comes with it. It's so nice as an adult to go back and stay at your parents house, where the cooking & cleaning are all done for you. Not only that, but you have a default, handy babysitter for the kids when you have spur of the moment activities. I could never be a mother, they get no credit. Thanks Mom.

Well, now we're back from our extended trip from Utah, with lots of pictures to show for it. Let's goooooooooooo.

Let's start off with a couple dandies: Fake smiles all around. First Hayden on the left, then Josh on the right.

How about a trip to the coolest children's museum in all of Utah, the Treehouse:

What would a trip to Utah be without fireworks, right?

Hanging out with some old high school friends. Aaron & Heidi, Kayla & Brandon, and Christy (solo this time). Josh, Austin, Zack & Cole all enjoyed feeding the ducks & playing on the benches. At the end, Josh learned what it means to be a leader, and a man. Holding other dudes hands and showing them where to walk... He was actually too good of a leader, as you can see in the action shot, Austin is face-planting because Josh was pulling too fast.

Carter & Gavin were also good sports, giving us their best staredowns:

Lots of good times were had on our little trip back to Utah. One of the events that Katie was most excited about was the Top of Utah half-marathon. Somehow, I've no idea how, Katie was able to convince me that I could do it, and that it would be fun. In preparing for the race, I made a few goals for myself:

1 - Don't be a wimp. If you start the race, you finish the race.
2 - Let's be honest, if you're going to say you ran a half-marathon, don't you think you should actually run it? Otherwise you just finished a half-marathon.
3 - If you could run a mile in less than 5:30 in high school, shouldn't you be able to run at least a 9 minute/mile pace? Thus setting my finishing goal at under 2 hours.

The day before the race Katie approached me very politely, and asked me a question, obviously afraid of offending me. "Would you be mad if after the first half of the race I press on without you? I want to see how well I can do." To which I just laughed. I was getting ready to ask her the same question...

Well the morning of the race came, and the bus ride up to the starting line was waaaaaaay longer than I thought 13.1 miles would be. For goodness sake, it felt like it took us 45 minutes to DRIVE it. Doubt started creeping in, as did a little IBS. I had to make 3 bathroom trips in the hour prior to the race. TMI I know.

Before we knew it we were off and running. My first thoughts were a little rude. I mean honestly, who thought it would be a good idea to put 1,000 people at the FRONT of the pack who were WALKING after the first mile. It was madness trying to navigate around these people. If you know you run a 20 minute mile, let's start a little further back in the pack.

So Katie and I are cruising along, feeling good. Around mile 6 we each picked out a person that we wanted to beat. Around mile 7 our pace was not quite fast enough for us to keep up with the guy I selected, so I was forced to speed up, slowly leaving Katie and the target she was locked into. It was about that time that my competitiveness kicked in. "Heck," I said to myself, "I'm not letting anyone behind me beat me to the finish line." Easy to say at the halfway mark. Within a couple miles 2 50 year old women went cruising past me. Again I had to speed up a little to stay with them. I thought if I could stay within 50 yards of these out of control grandmas, I would be able to reel them in within the last mile. True enough, in the last half mile I passed grandma #1, and within the last 100 yards I passed grandma #2. However I did get overtaken by a teenage girl with about 20 yards to go. Big mistake on her part, as I had just enough in the tank to sprint past her 5 feet from the finish line!

I'm proud to say that I completed all of my goals. I finished the race, I ran the whole time, I did it under 2 hours (with an average time of 8:59/mile), and nobody passed me after the halfway mark.

Here's the proof. My cousin Kylee (who didn't train at all and ran it), Erika (who hardly trained and ran it), me (who half-way trained and ran it), & Katie (who trained the most and ran it. I think Katie could've completed another half marathon that night. The rest of us were dying).

Here are the Allen kids. Ashley, Nicole, Erika & Me. We'll never know how Ashley & Nicole would've done. They stopped around mile 10 to carry this kid to the finish line. I think he was faking it so that he could get Ashley's phone number. Why didn't I come up with something that clever in high school?!?