Monday, August 31, 2009

The Rolling Stones

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for Naomi and I, and boy was it fun! Sometimes it seems as though we never stop to let ourselves breathe!  Here’s what we’ve been up to as we roll on down the river!

The craziness started last Thursday when I picked up my sister Janna from the Airport (I would come to visit the airport 5 times in the next 8 days!) So Janna, like us, doesn’t believe in having a real, relaxing vacation but decides to work her tail off during her time off!  She came out and visited us for a week, and as you will later learn, most definitely lost that tail.  Janna’s flight was diverted to Missouri for a bit because of weather in Chicago, so I had to chill in the airport for a few hours to wait for her.  Never fun, but I did read almost an entire book on Greek History! Awesome stuff.

Next was Friday! And this time, it was Naomi and my turn to go to the airport! Janna drove us to the airport, and in a successful attempt at gaining stud-points, drove us in our car (she’s not used to driving a manual) through Chicago traffic in the afternoon, then back home by herself! Way to go Janna!

Naomi and I flew into Minneapolis and were picked up by Naomi’s sister, Becca.  We had an insanely fun night playing with Becca and Taber, and I got to deliver Becca’s Marathon Frame!


When I got to run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN with Becca last June I decided to make her a frame of all her memorabilia to remember her first Marathon!  I’d say it was a trade definitely in my favor! I got to run a Marathon for free, and all I had to do was make a picture frame!

We went to bed pretty late that night and got up (no joke) 3 1/2 hours later!  the Next two days would be pure insanity. Just look at this picture:


Does this person look sane to you? I think not.


Becca, her husband Taber and I ran in what’s called the Ragnar relay.  It’s great! we ran a total of 195 with an 11-person team.  Each person took turns running a leg, passing the baton to the next person as we went.  Each person ran a total of between 12 and 21 miles.  Now most of us just ran 3 legs, but some people, like our fearless team captain, Doug, decided that 3 just wasn’t enough and they did more!


We started in Winona, Wisconsin and followed the Mississippi River up into Minneapolis! The river was gorgeous and was really nice to run next to.  This shot is at the river next to the starting line.


Now the Ragnar relay series has a very special place in my heart, as it’s the first organized running event that I ever did!  The idea for the Relay came from a couple of guys from my high school and started back in 2004 in Utah, as the Wasatch Back Relay.  I was invited onto a team that year last-minute by a good friend of mine, Ross Harris and his wife Alecia.  I’ve done the relay every year since then (except last year, when doing an out-of state internship prevented it) and this year make relay #5 for me! Bring on the pain!

Here’ a quick synopsis of my legs.

Leg #1

6.6 Miles; category – Hard

Time 43:40  Pace 6:37 min/mile.  Time of day: 3:30 PM


This leg ended up being the fastest pace I’ve ever run in any race, ever. I didn’t plan it that way, but my mind was changed for me after about 1/2 mile into the leg when a kid passed me and we started chatting.  I’m a good-natured guy, and joked with him as he passed me to “slow down! You’re making us all look bad!” to which he responded without an ounce of emotion on his face: “well then speed up and I won’t have to waste you.”


Now I don’t know if this guy was just ultra-cocky or a natural-born motivator.  Whatever the case, it did motivate me and I stuck to his tail like white on rice on a paper plate in a snow storm for the next 4.5 miles.  This kid was fast and pulled me hard!  As we passed our team mates (we always leap-frog the runner to give water and cheers) my team would always cheer for me, or squirt me with water! His team mates would always cheer for him as well, and add “He’s still behind you! your new friend is still behind you!”  hahaha

After mile 5 I just couldn’t keep up with him any more and slowly started to fall off his tail.  I kept up a good pace though and only let him gain a hundred yards or so by the final stretch.  When we hit the last quarter mile, I decided that I wanted to see if I could catch, and I took off!  It’s an exhilarating feeling the haul like that, and the only thing on my mind was that white shirt just a bit in front of me.  My team mates told me later that his entire team was going nuts cheering for him and yelling “watch out! he’s right behind you! he’s going to catch you!” I didn’t hear this of course, I could only hear my heart beating and the cadence of my shoes bouncing over the pavement!


It wasn’t meant to be though, and I didn’t end up catching him.  I was dang close though, within 15-20 feet.  I passed the wrist band on to Becca who ran right after me, and enjoyed some much-needed stretching and water in the van as we tailed her!


I even got to play with the camera and take some really sweet pictures!  Becca is smiling in this picture mostly because she’s an animal and thinks a mere 8-mile leg is a cake-walk!


After everyone in our van was done, it was time for the second van to do their legs, and we got some much needed rest! I found a lovely little spot in the grass at a park right next to the river and caught some much-needed Z’s.

Leg #2

6.8 Miles; category – Very Hard

Time 49:30  Pace 7:17 min/mile.  Time of day: 1:10 AM


This leg ended up being simultaneously the most beautiful and the most physically painful run for me.  The Mississippi river is gorgeous during the daytime, but it can’t compare to how beautiful it is at night! I loved how cool and quite it was.  Before my leg started, I managed to hop on a bike and ride along side Taber as he ran his leg.  Taber is such a stud, he’s like a machine.  I think that even if an earthquake rolled through, a tornado touched down behind him, and the T-rex from Jurassic Park started bellowing, he would just keep trucking along at the same even pace.  It was awesome to ride next to him and watch him go.

The reason my leg ended up being so painful is because in between our 1st and 2nd legs, everyone in our van ate these yummy chicken salad wraps from a booth at one of the exchange points.  Like I said, they tasted alright and our bodies definitely needed the fuel, but man did they do some rumblin’ in the ol’ belly afterwards.  During that entire run I could feel that chicken fighting around down there and threatening to launch itself back out of my mouth at any moment.  It was very uncomfortable.

But I made it and passed the wrist band once again on to Becca!

Leg #3

7.2 Miles; category – Very Hard

Time 53:05  Pace 7:23 min/mile.  Time of day: 10:00 AM

This ended up being my all-around favorite run of the race.  I found some Maalox and Tums sometime during the night, and Mr. Tummy was quelled and I felt great!  I didn’t push myself as hard as I did for my first leg, but by this time we were all so tired that I FELT like I was pushing myself just as hard.  The course was all rolling hill, with 2 or 3 really good tall, steep hills! I got to run along side and chat with several other runners (several of whom had some choice words to say about the sport of running . . . but it was the 3rd leg of the relay, so I can’t blame them too much!) My biggest “oops” moment also came when I passed a guy and said, trying to get a smile out of him, “Come on! It’s our last leg! after this we’re done!”  He turned his head and glared at me as he said “I’m on a six-man team, so I have to run two legs each time! I’ve done a total of 40 miles so far and I’m not done yet.”  Then he turned his head back and kept running.  Oops!

The last 1/4 mile of that leg was all downhill, so I sprinted to the end and gloried in the fact that was done! It felt very good to be done!

At the end of the run we were met by THE hottest girl in all the world.  Naomi was watching the kids with her parents as we ran the race.  She got to hang out with our team a bit and cheer us on as we all crossed the finish line!


20090822_4746  20090822_4768

Becca, Taber and I completing one more race together! I hope it’s not the last!


Our team at the end!


Told you she was hot!

Here’s a few random shots I thought I’d add that I just thought were cool:

ThreeStooges DandR  MississippiDusk2


After the race, Naomi Brooklyn and I flew back to Chicago where Janna was waiting for us! But she wasn't alone! And that’s a story for another blog post!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Does it get any better than this?!

This Week was a ton of fun. We've discovered in the last little while just how much Brooklyn likes water. She LOVES taking baths, going outside to play in the puddles after it rains, and even loves running outside when it does rain. So naturally, she quite enjoys the pool, and anytime we put on her little swimming suit, she gets giddy and bouncy with excitement! Naomi says I get the same way right before we go to the pool too, but I don't believe it!
She's getting more and more brave everytime we do go to the pool, she keeps wanted to jump away from me and swim by herself, which I haven't the guts to let her do - yet. You can see her in this picture trying to jump off my shoulders into the pool.

She especially likes sitting on my shoulders when I walk down into the deep end. Hahaha I love going to the pool!

Now ever since Naomi and I moved from Utah, we've been pretty sad about leaving the plentiful outdoors. We've always enjoyed going on hikes, going camping, and basically having fun outside! That's a thing, we've discovered, that's a tad more difficult to do in Urban Illinois. So we decided to get creative! For the last few weeks, we've pulled out the hide-a-bed in the living room on the weekends mostly for something different. We call it "camping"! and it's turned out to be a ton of fun!

Last weekend we took our fun idea and made it even better! It was such a nice day out, that when the evening rolled around, we were commenting to eachother about how neat it would be to have been able to go camping that night and sleep outside in the nice cool air . . . so we found every blanket we could in our house, and laid them out on the deck. We slept out there both Friday and Saturday night! It rocked. I don't think I've slept that good since we moved here. It was a ton of fun!

When Brooklyn woke up and found out what we were doing, she of course thought it was the coolest thing in the entire world, and ended up playing out there with her stuffed animals all morning!

Then I had to go to work on Monday morning. Sigh.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary! 4 Years and Counting...

4 years ago I made the best decision of my life. I married Kevin! Since then we've moved 7 times, finished school (Kevin with his Bachelors in Engineering and me with my Associates in Pre-Secondary Education), had several jobs...some fun...some for the paycheck, left Utah for Illinois, and...our best accomplishment thus far, we had a beautiful little girl, Brooklyn, who is the light in our lives.

We've had our ups and downs as all marriages do but I couldn't be happier to have gone through them with Kevin. Now that we are beginning our 5th year together I just want to say that marriage gets better with time. I can honestly say that I am now married to my prince charming. Kevin is the most sensitive, generous and selfless person I know and he is perfect for me. Thanks for all the good laughs and great adventures baby! I love you!

Us before we knew what we were getting ourselves into!
The official couple August 13, 2005

4 Years in Chicago and living the life! Woohoo! Glad we made it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

June and July… The Executive Summary

So if anyone ever even comes back and checks out our blog and has a chance to read this… I apologize for the lack of posts over the last two months. Perhaps after reading this you will garner a little sympathy into the state of the Chicago Hanks Ohana, and understand our techno-silence over the last little while.


This month started off with a surprise announcement from by boss at work that my presence was needed at the jobsite to help do an inspection of the structural elements being erected. Of course, the job site was in Texas, so it involved a bit of traveling. What was supposed to be a day-and-a-half trip, turned into a week! I did get some valuable experience solving problems in the field and got to know a bunch of the guys actually building the stuff I helped design! It was pretty neat. I even managed to keep up with my running training while I was there and put in about 25 miles that week! Running in south Texas in June was a new experience for me, and put a whole new meaning to the phrase "sweating buckets". Yikes. My claim to fame for the trip was that I managed to go that whole week living off of what was in my backpack, as I vowed before-hand to follow the Manager-Tools recommendation and fly without checking in a bag! And it wasn't so bad! I had to wash a few sets of clothes in the bathtub while I was there, but I did it!

The Greenville, TX Power Generating Station. Greenville is located about 40 miles south of Andrew's new home in San Antonio, and is pretty close to as far South in the Continental US as you can go.

One of my babies for the project was the design of the foundation that supported this Tank. It's called the fire water tank, and holds the water used throughout the plant in case of a fire (which given the heat of Texas, I'm surprised the atmosphere doesn't ignite)

I even jetted into downtown San Antonio for a nice meal and to visit the Alamo, which was pretty sweet! They unfortunately closed 10 minutes before I got there, but I got to see the outside, and had to climb the wall to see the inside. Pretty neat history, and boy am I glad I wasn't there.

I finally got home, and made plans to drive up to Minnesota where Naomi and I were planning on watching Naomi's sister Becca and her husband Taber run their first Marathon in Duluth. Because of an unfortunate injury, Taber ended up not being able to run it, and offered to let me run it in his place (don't tell the race organizers we did that) So with one week's notice, I got to run a Marathon! It turned out to be one of the most fun races I've ever done. Duluth is an absolutely beautiful place, and we ran the entire race along the north shore of Lake Superior finishing in down town Duluth. I ran with Becca the entire length of the race (I think we finished less than a second apart) who lead a perfect pace for us, and totally rocked it at the end. It goes down in my books as one of the coolest running moments I've ever seen when Becca, who was so tired (weren't we all) at the end she could hardly speak, broke out in a sprint for the last 200 yards and passed a dozen people before crossing the end! It was all I could do to try to talk my poor legs into keeping up with her!

This is the aura of simultaneous buffness and insanity in the faces of two people about to run a maddening amount of miles.

The moving river of sweaty bodies! There was a fairly high attrition rate due to the unexpected high heat of the day, but it was still packed.
I carried Becca's tiny little Elf camera during the race and was the designated race photographer. Needless to say I had some fun with it! Oh, and the only reason I'm still smiling and goofing off is that we'd only hit mile three or so.
At the end of the race with the greatest wife in the entire world! Brooklyn was a little cranky at this point, but you've got to hand it to her, it was a really hot day. In the background you can see Lake Superior, where Becca and I jumped in after the race was over. It was freezing cold, and felt wonderful. I am now a firm believer in taking ice baths after a long run like this, as it cut down on the amount of time that I was sore after the race.

June turned out to be a pretty awesome month! I liked the fact that in the space of just one week, I managed to go on a run in one of the most Southern places in the continental US, then go and do another run in one of the most northern places!


This month had us (yet again) traveling! I finally accumulated enough vacation time at work to take some time off, and we flew out west for a Family Reunion. We spent the 4th of July weekend in Boise, ID spending time with our awesome Smith Family. It was a blast! We played games, met new nieces and nephews, floated the Boise river, watched fire works, and so on. It was a great time, and I loved seeing all my family.

After the family reunion, we drove back down into Utah to chill and hang out with both mine and Naomi's families. I'm starting to realize that of all the things we left when we took off for Chicago, I'm pretty sure that I miss our families the most. They're all absolute Studs and it ended way too soon. Some highlights from our Stay in Utah:

-A 55 mile bike ride with my Dad. We rode down Legacy highway to his office out by the airport, then I went on a little tour of Downtown Salt Lake City. I went around Temple Square, The University of Utah, and the state capital. Riding down Beck Street into North Salt Lake is to date one of my favorite hills to ride down!

-A spur-of-the-moment midnight hike up to the peak of Mt. Timpanogos with my cousin Eric. Well, technically it wasn't midnight, we started at 3:00 AM and made it to the peak just after sunrise. To prove how buff Eric is, he dragged me up that mountain (a 9 mile trail to the peak) in just over 2 ½ hours, and we made it down to the bottom in just under 1 ½ hrs. It is my favorite hike in the entire world, and I loved every second of it!

It's a little snowy up at 11,000 ft . . . even in July!

Can you get a view like this in Chicago?! I think not.

-I got to go on a run with Jake, who taught me the meaning of the word fast. To preface this item, just 6 months ago I went on a run with Jake around the neighborhood, and we had to stop and walk several times (he had just gotten home from his mission, and as every missionary knows, you're not usually at your peak-physical shape when you return home). But he's obviously worked his rear off, because he did the four mile route at a cool 7 min/mile pace (which is smoking fast) and I simply couldn't keep up with him, he totally smoked me! It was pretty sweet. Rock on Jake!

-We got to have a Wii party at Josh & Erin's house! Nothing is more fun than playing wii sports and laughing your head off at 12:00 at night, then staying up until 4:00 AM playing random games with Josh! It was awesome. Every vacation needs an all-nighter playing video games. It's pretty much a must.

-we got to attend my cousin Andrew's wedding. He married an awesome girl, and I know they're in for some fun times. Andrew definitely followed the Smith/Hanks family tradition of marrying someone much cooler than ourselves. It was a great wedding, and I'm very proud of him.

I'm sure I've left something off this list, but I've had a blast none the less!

We've had a fun last couple of months, and again, my apologies for being so silent on the ol' blog. I forgot to mention that, in addition to traveling to a bunch of random places and being super busy, our computer actually blew up and quit working. It wasn't until just before we left Utah that I was able to get it fixed (I've got a warranty on the laptop, but it's at a computer store in Kaysville . . . I didn't think of that when we moved to Chicago. . .) Also, at the same time, my cell phone died, and it took me a few weeks to save up the dough to purchase a new one. So without a computer to access the internet, and a cell phone, I was pretty close to being completely electronically incognito. It was annoyingly relaxing. But all is well now! I've got a working computer and sweet Palm Centro! I'm back in business!

On a random note, I've started training full swing for the Chicago Marathon which is coming up in mid-October. I have a bit more of a warning than I did for the Duluth Marathon, so I've decided to do some good training so I don't die at mile 17! I've been doing pretty well, and am really enjoying getting out and putting in more and more miles. Running is very relaxing (cathartic even . . .) and I really enjoy going out and exploring the area around us. I've also begun keeping better track of my training through an on-line training journal called It's got a cool little widget that allows me to post my workouts and weekly totals on the side of the blog. So please take a look at it on the right side of our blog, and chew me out if I start slacking off and the miles go down . . . a person training needs all the motivation they can get!

To end off my thoughts, here are some shots of Brooklyn for anyone who hasn't seen her in the last little while. I may be a biased observer, but she really is the most adorable thing on the entire planet.