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Month: September 2018

westward ho!

westward ho!

after standing at the top of buffalo ridge early this summer and seeing the bison herd and waving grasses urging me to head west…well here i am at the cusp of the missouri river ready to spend some time in the hills.

nate and i headed out around 9 this morning and booked it down hwy 23 to the border. i forgot how long that drive is, and i drove it in june!

anyway, we stopped at the teepee for a photo opp. it was cold. low-mid 40s all day. huzzah for cold vacations. (still better than work.)

then, much to nate’s chagrin, i made him stop at the corn palace. talk about hokey. but you gotta do it at least once!


you know, given my propensity toward corn, i think i don’t need to go to the corn palace anymore. hmm.

onward and upward to chamberlain! we stopped at the rest area to check out the new “dignity” statue, which is absolutely fantastic. the placement, the area, the size. she was all just great.

then i topped off the evening with a visit to the atka lakota museum, which i’d visited in 2015 but wanted to visit again. it’s a very informative museum, and after reading about the lakota’s never-ending relocation problems through the summer at all the mn state parks, i thought it was fitting to see how they managed in south dakota. every time i learn about native people’s past, i just feel ill. i don’t know what i can do, but i did leave a donation in the museum donation box. people have this misconception that the lakota/dakota were a warring people, but they really weren’t. they got pushed out of eastern MN by the ojibwe, then they just worked really hard to keep their way of life and lands, both from the ojibwe and then the europeans. i feel really sad about how the lakota were treated. i think that prominent item like Dignity bring more light to these issues  and pull them to the surface. learning about the past is the first step. then figuring out what to do from here is the next. is it returning the black hills to the native americans? i’d be ok with that.

spending the night in chamberlain at a super8 in a cheapo jacuzzi suite. tomorrow we’re off across the western half of SD, picking up wall and the badlands, then ending up in our camping cabin at custer for the next four nights!

some things

some things

now that ragnar is over and the summer is winding down and i only have two state parks to go and it’s 8:20 p.m. and pitch black outside, i feel like interesting blogging time is spiraling into a black hole.


  1. i went for probably the best run of my summer the other night. the weather was mid-50s and pushed me along, it was a road run so no worrying about tumbling into a divot, and it’d been 3 days since my last run. i would’ve been happy with two miles, aimed for three, and actually ran four. and it was my fastest four-mile run! unfortunately, it really aggravated my bruise and now i think i need to wait til the bruise is more healed. which ok because
  2. BLACK HILLS next week! ready to head to my happy place. i’ll try to blog every night with pics and all that good stuff. we have no real plan besides where we’re staying each night, so it’ll be interesting to see what we do. i thought about bringing my running gear, but it’s about 4000′ more in altitude than here, so i’d probably die sucking in air. that’s ok. i can take a week off from running.
  3. hm i just checked the weather out there for the week. lots of rain of course. oh well. better than work!
ragnar takeaways!

ragnar takeaways!

welp, a completely different ragnar in the books. what have we learned, kids?

  1. weather: running in the cold is better than running in the hot. but recovering in the hot is better than recovering in the cold. it would be nice to run in not extremes. or if it’s cold again, figure out a way to bring a heater.
  2. shoes: i like my trail shoes! they are great at stabilizing my foot and they are heavy duty (great for hiking!). but i think for the 9-mile forest trails, which have a lot of junk sticking up out of the dirt, road shoes might be better. less stuff on the bottom to get stuck on the roots.
  3. food: i have GOT to eat better at these things. oy! i figured out that i burned about 2000 calories running, and that’s not including the normal calories people burn by living. i don’t even think i ate that many calories total while i was there! good news was i ate a lot the night before and i ate a lot afterward. but better food preparation would probably be good.
  4. books: don’t bring books to read. or any other stuff to do. it just won’t get used.
  5. hammock: it was a great idea, but i didn’t use it much. i really wanted to. maybe if it was warmer?
  6. sleep: i don’t know how to fix this! i can’t turn my brain off from thinking about how my run is going to go. i don’t want to take a pill or something but good god, it’s hard to run when you’re so tired. tried earplugs, tried napping, tried my comfy cot (it is comfy!). ugh. any thoughts on this would be appreciated!
  7. when in doubt, walk: for realz, though. getting injured or wearing yourself completely out is not fun, and if you can prevent it by walking briskly up a hill or through the roots and rocks, then do it. who cares if you’re the slowest.

ragnar part deux

ragnar part deux

at least this year i knew what to expect for trails!


i made it out of ragnar northwoods major injury free. i only fell twice, one of which was pretty hard, but my feet are intact, and that’s what was super important.

i went up thursday night where i met up with liz, abby, and art, and we went to the site to set up a tent and claim our spot. then we came back into wausau and slept overnight at a hotel 😀 i didn’t sleep too well – there was a shaft of light coming in the window, and it’s always weird sleeping with someone else in bed. but we were WARM, and we got a hot breakfast out of the deal and a place to park our cars for carpooling.

the downside to this year’s ragnar was that it was really cold. it wasn’t bad running weather – in fact, the cold is nice for running. but after you’re done running, your muscles are all warmed up and then you’re sitting in the 45º weather that’s seeping into your bones. your clothes are also soaked in sweat, so you have to change out of them as quickly as possible to prevent getting too many chills.

my first run was on the yellow trail, about 5 miles. i was doing really well, telling myself to pick up my feet, watch out for roots and rocks, and keep my eyes on the ground. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. a bridge (one of those short ones that goes over a slight gulley where water can gather after a storm) was coming up with a caution sign on it, but i was so concerned with how narrow the bridge was that i didn’t concern myself with getting onto the bridge. i don’t know if i tripped over the plank or slipped on the plank, but down i went, trying to keep my feet under me but failing. and flailing! i banged my right thigh on the edge of the wood planks and landed on my back on the grass, slamming the back of my head into the ground.

huzzah! my feet were ok. i walked for about a quarter mile to see if i had any dizziness or confusion from the head slam, but i seemed to be ok. off i went. my thigh started to hurt, but i expected that, and on i went to finish up the 5 mile. i managed to shave 12 minutes off last year’s time!

afterward i spent too much time in the village with liz when i should have booked it back to the tent to change out of my clothes. i think that was the first sign that the cold was going to get me!

and i should have eaten more. i don’t know why but i don’t eat enough food at ragnar. that happened last year, too. i tried to take a nap (fail), then got up to do some yoga in front of the tent to stretch out and warm up.

my green 3-mile run was in the dark a little before 9 and relatively drama free. i didn’t have anyone to run with like last year (boo) but i fell on my knee about halfway through and just plowed on. weirdly there are a lot of roots on this trail, but i felt like a lot of it was downhill, so that was good. i felt like i should’ve finished it in 40 minutes, but DANG IT it took me 47 minutes which is still annoying to me.

i hoofed it back to camp to change out of my clothes asap and try to warm up. i ate a snack (should’ve eaten more) and went to my cot to try to sleep.

AND COULDN’T. i tried. i sort of dozed, i had earplugs in but they only half worked. i got cold even in 3 layers and my 30º sleeping bag. i started shivering and eventually i got out of bed and walked to the bathroom (i caught the portapotties right after they were cleaned – huzzah!) and back, then picked up a couple handwarmers and stuck one my feet and one in my pants to get warmed up. i think i maybe slept a total of 30 minutes, if that? didn’t help that my stomach started rumbling because i was hungry and i couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed again in the cold.

then my alarm went off at 4 p.m. for the red loop. UGH what a crapfest. i got dressed under my sleeping bag (thank GOD i had the foresight to put my clothes in the bag with me), then rolled out to try to choke some food down while i was too anxious to even think. (why was i anxious?? i rolled my ankle hardcore on last year’s red loop. i didn’t want a repeat and kept thinking about it.)

liz left off at 4am for her yellow loop, so i headed down around 4:40, almost got there, then turned around because i forgot to take ibuprofin. what a disaster that could’ve been. between my bruise and just running in general, it could’ve gotten uber hurty. got back and waited for her to roll in.

it was still dark when i took off around 5:15ish. we were 45 minutes ahead of last year; i took off at 6 last year, just as the sun was starting to make an appearance. i really do like how the red loop goes if i’m not worried about my rolled ankle! because guess what? i made it through with no falls! i walked all the technical stuff and kept my eyes on the ground. i repeated to myself PICK UP YOUR FEET LOSER over and over. the sun started coming up as i made it through the first technical section, then about mile 5 i was able to turn off my lamps. for a while i was pacing two other gals through the tech section, but i stopped when we crossed a road so i could eat a gel. i made a stop at the water tent (always nice to take a couple breaks), then finished up on the wide section of the trail with the morning sun! that red loop is actually quite nice as long as you don’t push yourself through the technical crap (unless you’re a mountain goat like those ultrarunners).

i only shaved off three minutes from last year’s time, but i was a lot more tired this year, and hangry during the run. i also walked probably the same amount – i didn’t want to fall or wrench my ankle again. i ALSO took one for the team and ran during the coldest part of the event. afterward i practically ran to the tent to get out of my clothes and into some dry ones so i could eat and sit in my sleeping bag in the sun. i spent probably 3 hours warming up.

on the way home, i had to stop for a snooze at a rest area, but i got home, took a shower, and then slept 11 hours last night. and now i’m ready for another nap. for supper i’m getting something really good (not sure what yet).

here’s my giant bruise from falling off the bridge.

NOTE: next year (if next year), i think i’ll try running in my road shoes. i feel like the lugs on my trail shoes catch on the roots.

prepping for RAGNAR

prepping for RAGNAR

HOO BOY only two more days til i leave for ragnar!

is it concerning when the thing i’m concerned the least about is the running? haha!

things i’m having weird anxiety about:

  1. injury (with good reason)
  2. dressing for my long run (39º predicted during it)
  3. thunderstorms thursday night

i find it odd that two of these are weather related. after last year’s weather, anything is welcome, let me tell you. i’ll take thunderstorms and cold over 99º heat indices.

anyway, now that i’ve got my anxieties out of the way, i went shopping today and picked up batteries, a book, some food (cheese, yogurt, coffee creamer, etc.). tomorrow i’ve got to pack! i’m also thinking about making some apple crisp.

things i’m looking forward to:

  1. setting up my hammock and lying in it with my new sleeping bag, reading a book
  2. volunteering on the course and cheering people on
  3. redeeming myself on my 4.5-miler
  4. leaving afterward and finding a place to get hot food
  5. a shower when i get home

i went on my last pre-ragnar run tonight, just two miles but at a sub-12 pace. time to treat my feet nice for the next couple days.




this evening i drove to st. john’s for a nighttime trail run, and i made my way down into the small valley where collegeville resides just as the sun was starting to dissipate into the horizon completely, casting a low shadow across the hills of trees. a few trees have already started to turn to autumn colors, but most still hold onto their green with starts of tingeing to yellow green, which will give way to complete yellow, red, brown, orange in the next month. seasons change, the sun tilts, whether or not i want it to give way to winter.

i remember the first time i realized that this was my space, the place i knew that i would probably like to be, for a while, at least. it was my first year at st. ben’s, and of course i had a couple classes at st. john’s and had to take the link (the bus) between the two campuses to get to class.

the ten minute ride on the bus went from st. joe onto hwy 75, which merged onto I-94, under the walking bridge, before taking the first exit and left onto the road that slipped into the woods to the st. john’s campus. most of the time, this was ideal time to catch up with a friend or classmate, or cram for a test, or finish your homework, or read a book. and it was a perfect time to stare out the window and watch the trees go by with a backpack on your lap and keeping worries at bay.

it was full fall. i was in the “stare out the window” mode, and when the link merged onto I-94, there was a sudden burst of color on the right as trees closed in on us, vibrant reds, punchy oranges, ethereal yellows going forever that beckoned one to walk in the woods and imagine a sense of weightlessness. i don’t know that i’ve had such a sense of groundedness in a place as i had at that moment.

i look forward to running through the woods in a few weeks when the leaves turn yellow. when fall comes, maybe you’ll go to the north shore; perhaps a trip through the minnesota river valley; or maybe a meander down the mississippi from hastings to winona. me? i’m content right where i am.

closing in

closing in

this weekend i went to wisconsin to check out locations for a cabin* shared with my sisters and to visit jenee. on the way back, i dropped in to st. croix state park.

when i started in april, there was snow on the ground, and on the drive through st. croix, the leaves were changing and starting to shove autumn right on in. i got stamp # 70  in my passport, another display that time has just slipped right on by this summer.

i have stopped at st. croix before on the way past.  there’s a section of the park that sustained some pretty severe wind damage in 2008. the last time i was there, i drove past and kind of poo-pooed the landscape because it wasn’t very appealing. but NOW i know: what’s really super interesting is that the wind damage started an unintentional restoration of a pine-barren oak savanna habitat, which is really rare in MN and other areas. wildlife and birds now have habitat opportunities that they haven’t seen since settlers came in and started plowing and restricting the wildfires that maintained the oak savanna. the oaks are kind of scrubby and there aren’t a lot of big, old-growth oaks, but they are here and there across a wide expanse that have no other trees. red-headed woodpeckers have reemerged in the state with this new old habitat.

the st. croix is a lovely part of the state, from stillwater up to duluth, all the state parks i’ve visited on the st croix have been especially nice.

just two parks left, which i will pick up in early october.

before then, you’ll hear from me on RAGNAR and also i’m heading to the black hills the first week of october (YAY).

*we decided on the minong area! now to save up enough for that down payment.

mn state parks: mn river valley

mn state parks: mn river valley

after a lazy-ish labor day weekend, i decided to get on the road and pick up a state park that was relatively close but i hadn’t gotten yet: minnesota river valley state recreation area.

this park is located to the southwest of the cities, between jordan and belle plaine. i headed out a little before noon and took the backroads down.

the MRV is on the minnesota river bottoms, so it’s very flat and very sediment right. it’s apparently also a great place for horseback riding.

i took a quick hike along the bottoms after i got my stamp just to see what it was all about. i was reading on the dnr site that often this park is flooded and only a few trails are open. you can see the evidence of the flooding all over the place! but the tall trees and the sparse ground was a perfect place to imagine imps and will-o-wisps and tree faeries frolicking about.

there was also a lot of evidence of horses! this is a good place for horse girls to come get their fix. i will also add that for a recreation area on a weirdly humid, chilly day, there were a lot of people around. i guess location is helpful, too, it being relatively close to the cities. on a sad note, it looks like they used to have a campground, but no longer. the campground part of the sign was painted over. i’m not sure if this is due to the flooding or lack of funds for the dnr.

after my short hike, i headed home by way of visiting jane. my labor day weekend didn’t seem quite so pathetic anymore! and i am one stamp closer to the end of my stamp book: just three parks left.

next weekend i’ll stop at st. croix on the way to wisconsin.

oh september

oh september

september is a lot like april. fickle, questionable weather abounds. it could be a humid 90º or it could be 30º and snowing. like april this year with its late snowstorm, i’m expecting september to pull out something odd from its hat.

i really like fall; i really do. once i get into the thick of it, it’s gorgeous and lovely and makes me want to dance around in the woods. but the sun’s movement toward the southern sky and the nighttime dark coming sooner and sooner in the day is just another indicator that winter is soon to come.

winter wouldn’t be so horrible if it didn’t last 6 months, or if it was a cheery, snow-covered landscape with the sun-twinkling flakes for its entirety. but a lot of the time, the landscape is dark and dingy with dead foliage strewn on the ground and barren trees, and just to make things worse, clouds crowd the skies and the sun is a rare treat. this is what autumn ushers in.

granted, if not for dirty snow and rock-hard dirt and below-zero temps, spring wouldn’t be quite the treat it is. i love sprummer, the three weeks in may and june that are so gorgeous and anomalous that you want to cry with relief and wonder. how could the outdoors, which was so awful looking for the past 6 months, be so wonderful all of a sudden?

i could be the average white girl, sucking down pumpkin coffees, going apple picking, hauling around pumpkins in my down vest and fancy boots. (granted, i do enjoy pumpkin coffees. and pumpkins). but really? i think autumn (and september) have been usurped. october, you’re coming in 2nd. i think my favorite month is now may.

(i might just have a thing for the transition seasons.)



in august i tried out dietbet, where you bet money against yourself to lose weight. the pot is split at the end among those who win. i worked like a crazy person to lose 8 lbs, and i did it! i won $12 on top of the initial $35, too!

that said, the dietbet has ended and i’ve been eating like a normal person again (for me, that means too much, generally *eyeroll for myself*). and so today i decided to bump up my training for ragnar, which is in THREE WEEKS.

this morning around 11:30 i went out for a 3-mile road run. it was humid out, my worst enemy, but i finished with a decentish time. then 7 hours later, i headed out to st. john’s for a trail run for 8 miles, which i smashed, considering how i’ve done on long trail runs recently.

thank goodness i’ve been able to eat food to support my running!

anyway, i kind of wanted to continue the dietbet because it’s a good motivator, but i need to take a break in september. i need to eat more than net 1300 calories a day to run well, and i can’t let my teammates down after last year!! but october’s coming, and i can probably try out another dietbet, just in time for the holidays!

speaking of ragnar, after last year’s awful 4 mile and debilitating ankle sprain that i ran all of the red loop on, i have been taking preventative measures out on the trail. both my knees are taped/braced up, and i wear a heavy duty brace on my right foot (problem foot to begin with). i’m also planning on going to PT for my that foot in hopes that it will get a little more resilient.


*i probably won’t, but it’s a nice thought.