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ragnar 2021: NO INJURIES

ragnar 2021: NO INJURIES

my constant vigilance paid off!

(and so did my propane heater!)

thursday

after a hiatus in 2020 because 2020, we were back for ragnar trail wisconsin 2021. and i was prepared. after the cold year, i knew that i did NOT want to be cold again because that sucks. sure, running in the cold is something everyone’s like, yeah! so much better than running in the heat! but when you’re tenting, you don’t get to go into your warm house and take a warm shower after your cold run.  personally, i’d rather run in the hot during ragnar trail at that point.

BUT i had been monitoring the weather and what do you know, it was going to get down to the 40s at night, and no way was i gonna deal with that noise. so i bought a propane heater to go on top of a 20 lb propane tank.

it was a lifesaver both nights. best purchase for ragnar.

i also packed plenty of layers and what i thought was more clothes than i needed, but better to be safe than sorry.

so off i went thursday around 11, picked up jane, and we headed out to wausau, which is in the middle of wisconsin. we got into line right at 4 p.m., and once the line started moving, we were moving pretty quickly. got in, unloaded, and i took the car to parking while jane hauled our crap down to our campsite.

we hung out for a bit until liz, doug, and quinn showed up with the tents, and then we were really able to set up camp in earnest.

that night it was just us five, but we got to test out the new heater and managed to remember why we brought so many layers. it’s no fun being cold at camp! i managed to get a decent amount of sleep, though i ended up waking up every 2 hours or so to roll over and had to get up once to use the porta-loo to pee (it was 4 a.m.- no way was i holding it). (also, hydration is KEY the day before race day, so i wasn’t surprised i had to get up in the middle of the night to pee.)

then it was race day…

friday

liz was set to start the first loop at 9:40 a.m., which seemed awfully early for our fast-ish team, but we took it. matt left early so he could get to camp before his loop, and our remaining two teammembers were on the way to be there a little later in the day.

i decided to opt for a later loop than i normally do, because i wanted to do the red (read: hard) loop in the daylight. that loop has been an arch nemesis in the past when i fell and sprained my ankle right at the beginning of the loop. in the past, i ran it during sunrise, which was nice, but our timing was weird, so i chose runner 5 this year.

yellow loop

oh, so fresh, so ready to take on a run. the yellow loop has always been 5.5 miles, but only this year did they figure that out. it’d always been advertised as 4.5 miles, and every time i ran it i wondering, how is my running time so slow? it’s my first run, on fresh, pampered legs, with trail running that i’ve been killing lately. so, imagine my happiness when it’s actually a MILE LONGER. (well, not happy because of that extra mile; just happy because my time isn’t abysmal.)

the yellow loop is probably the least hazardous of the loops – fewer roots and not as many rocks. there are a lot of switchbacks and some minor slopes to run up, but overall, it’s a pleasant route. they did a little rerouting and i didn’t have to deal with the bridge that i fell off three years ago.

it was about 70º when i went out, which was nearly perfect for me. i was able to wear a tank and shorts and not sweat too badly during my run.

here i am: a vision in sherbert.

note my knees! i was so worried. i decided to see what happened on the yellow loop to figure out the other two. i taped the crap out of them and wrapped the right one. after my run, they weren’t horrible, but they weren’t too happy. i stopped at the medic tent and grabbed a bag of ice. after stretching and icing, i decided to give the next loop a go.

they yellow loop was the best as far as weather and speediness. i was booking it at the end. i finished 5.5 miles in 1:07, which i right about where i expect that to be.

time for a break! i ate some food, drank a lot of electrolytes (which, i think, saved me), and then we lived through a big rainstorm. liz was running during the rain, and with the rain, the temps dropped. i had to figure out what to wear in the night at 50º-ish degrees. trying to figure out what to wear to run in anything 40s and 50s is the worst. ugh.

green loop

i ended up taking off on my red loop around 10:45 after matt came in a little later than i’d expected from his red. that red loop is just a beast. anyway, i ended up wearing a long-sleeved wool shirt, a poly tank, a poly tshirt, and then a pullover poly long sleeved 3/4 zip that i had just purchased! good call on that. i also pulled on a brace over my long pants on the one knee and then slipped a knee wrap on the other one.

off i went into the cold on the green loop.

THEY SAY the green loop is only 3.35 miles.

THEY SAID it used to be 3 miles.

we think they’re wrong. i ran that whole dang loop, and there’s no way i’m running a 14.5-minute mile running all the time. that’s about where i was at when i first started running! plus, that loop always seems to go on and on, and i run 3 miles ALL THE TIME. it’s my minimum mileage these days.

i think the green loop is closer to 4 than 3 miles. but whatever.

i have no pics because it was dead dark out, but there were some pretty awesome lit-up arches that matt managed to sort of get a pic of!

i was expecting a lot of puddles on the loop since it had rained, and doug gave good advice to just run through the puddles that were there to avoid the mud. i think a lot of them had been soaked up but there were still some that i had to just splash through. good thing i brought two pairs of shoes.

the coolest thing about the green loop was that i was pacing a dude. i asked him a couple times if he wanted to get past me, and he said nope, he was good. the trails through the woods on ragnar are single-file bike trails, so when you really get in there, it’s hard to pass without moving over/stopping. and since i am a slowbie, i end up doing that quite a bit. so, pacing someone in the woods is actually pretty cool. it forced me to just keep on running, which also kept me warm.

i finished up red in 48 minutes. totally closer to 4 miles than 3. i ended up getting done a little bit quicker than expected, and i must have just missed quinn in the transition list. i waited for maybe 5 minutes, then i had to go. i was going to get chilled. i hung my bib on a rack for times like this, took a glance at people watching screens and didn’t see her. so i went back and told the dude on deck about quinn, and he went to take a look. meanwhile, she responded to a text i sent her, and she got going about 15 mins later.

and THANK GOD FOR THAT HEATER. holy cats, what a phenomenal investment. i ran (yes, ran) back to the tent, changed into my wool under layer shirt, wool sweater, down vest, wool socks, two pairs of pants, and fleece jacket and then camped out in front of the heater for about 30 minutes while i ate some oatmeal, cheese, and some protein, then drank more electrolytes, chatted with a semicolon aficionado teammate, stretched, and then decided to call it and try to sleep.

surprisingly, my knees weren’t screaming at me too badly. so i was gonna do the red loop.

saturday

i maybe got 3-4 hours of sleep after crawling into my 400 layers of warmth in my sleeping bag. the unfortunate thing about that was that my pillow got damp from my sweaty head, so every time i rolled over, my face was on chilly wet pillow until it warmed up. yuck-o.

and in and out went teammates on their runs. liz got up and came back, jane got up and came back. but i slept, and that was a good thing. this was probably my best year for sleep. (although, i was lying there thinking, what am i doing? i could be at home, in my bed, in my warm house, and be comfortable. why am i doing this?)

i woke up to go pee at 5:30ish (again). there’s always a bit of hum during the night because the relay is constant, so there are people out and about. the moon was bright enough overhead to not need a headlamp to see, and on my way back, i saw a shooting star. the stars in general were great.

(the portapotties were also pretty great this year. clean, well-ventilated, and emptied often. TP was always stocked.)

when i got back, liz had come back from her last run, and jane was awake, so i just stayed awake. i wasn’t feeling too bad. dressing myself was going to be a different matter!

red loop

i was going to, once again, be running at the low-temp time of the day. fortunately, it didn’t get as cold as expected, and it was a whopping 43º instead of 39º. i didn’t realize that i was going to be running this early, so i hadn’t packed the right pants for cold weather, so instead, i wore my long shorts and my calf compression socks. wool tank, wool shirt, long sleeved poly shirt, and a short sleeved poly shirt. i wore liz’s ragnar cap, which i think actually helped quite a bit.

time for the last loop. the red loop is not only the longest, but possibly the most treacherous. there are sections of giant boulders and small rocks and middling rocks on the path that you have to hop your way through. then there are sections of roots and roots and more roots sticking out of the dirt path. and, if you’re like me, you don’t pick your feet up well enough, and the toes of your shoes just catch the edge of the root.

but first, the red loops starts out nice. a wide, open, grassy path where you can warm up, get your bearings, think you’re doing great. there are a couple of long, slopey hills that are more work than you want them to be, but generally they are followed by a nice downhill. then BAM.  we enter the single-file forest rock city.

this is pretty tame.

there are two bridges on the red loop, and i walked both of them. they were full of mud from the trail. and if the roots were too much, i walked that too. i tried to run through the rocks; generally, the rocks were better for me than the roots. maybe because they were obvious? i’m not sure. but the last leg of single file dangerousness was rooty rooty rooty.

also not too bad. this pic courtesy of matt!!

but after you get through the roots sent from hell, you get back into wide-open grassy paths where you get a little too confident in your running.

side story! so quinn was telling us about her fall on her first run, where she landed on her face. she was describing it and said, “you know when you trip and you throw your hands back like this?” and he demonstrated by throwing her arms along her sides and backwards, like reverse superman.

in my head, i was thinking, “i don’t do that. i throw my hands forward to stop the fall what is she talking about.”

so i am just rolling out into wide-open plains for running, and i do NOT constant vigilance, and i trip over something. and i THROW MY ARMS BACK TO COUNTER BALANCE. in my head, i’m not thinking about the possible trip and fall of this, but rather, WHAT??? QUINN WAS RIGHT!!!

(i did manage to pull out of that fall, though my lower back did a LOT of work to prevent that.)

and when i told the others about this? they all said that they, too, were skeptical of quinn’s arm position, and liz actually had the same experience that i did! so, that’s the side story. and the closest i came to injury.

the final slopey section is about a mile or so long, but it’s nice because you aren’t hemmed in by trees and switchbacked trails. there’s more freedom in the run, and you can lengthen your stride. there’s a GIANT HILL that you basically just power walk up, cuz ain’t no one gonn run up that thing.

and then you come into the final stretch where all three loops’ runners converge, run through a short leg in the woods, and come out to cheers in the transition tent.

then i was DONE!!

i finished up the red loop, 6.75 miles through rocky, rooty mess, in 1:33. and that was with a lot of walking through obstacles!

we had three more runners after me, and then we got our medals and pics.

matt did the volunteer shift while the rest of us packed up and hauled everything over to the drop site. by the time we were done, almost 2 p.m., nearly all the teams had finished up. it was probably the earliest that i’d ever seen us finish up our relay – i think in the hot year (2017?) we didn’t finish the last runner til almost 3 p.m.

then it was time to get out. i was tired, needed a shower, and also needed food. liz, jane, doug, quinn, and i stopped in wausau for lunch, then it was time to head out.

i got home at 9 p.m., took a shower, threw my sweaty clothes in the wash, then promptly passed out. i slept 11 hours last night. and, weirdly enough, all that running seemed to have healed my knee issues?? what the heck.

til next year, ragnar!

runnerversary: some top 3s of my time running

runnerversary: some top 3s of my time running

as i was slogging along for four miles on the treadmill this evening, i realized that november marks 9 years since i started running. 9 years! holy cats, that’s a long time and a lot of miles. my runkeeper tells me  i’m about to roll over on 4,000 tracked miles, which probably is about 2/3 of what i’ve run since i only started tracking my treadmill winter runs last winter.

to inadvertently commemorate this anniversary, i ordered some new shoes: brooks bedlams. brooks were the first shoes i bought specifically for running, but i ditched them for asics for a long time, then i had foot issues and i’ve been trial-and-erroring with shoes for the past nine months. i’ve got a good feeling about these!

top 3 running moments:

  1. first time i ran a nonstop mile. i was going to the st. ben’s fieldhouse at 10:30 at night to run around the track, following the couch to 5k plan. it was probably the week before christmas, and i was still getting my breathing under control and figured out, when i managed to get a mile in without stopping.
  2. first time i enjoyed a run. it was sprummertime in st. joe, 68º, evening on a saturday, and i was running a pretty quick pace for me. there was minimal hurting, my feet were having a not-bad time, breathing was ok, and i realized that this is what people talked about when they talked about having a good run.
  3. the first ragnar i did, my 8 mile was the last and i had rolled my ankle multiple times. physically, this run was probably my absolute worst. bottom of the barrel. but the timing of that loop was magical. i started in the dark with a headlamp on, fell in a hole, continued to run on a wobbly gross ankle in the dark, but the sun came up through the trees and slowly made its way up in the late-september woods.

3 worst things about running

  1. starting. your breathing sucks. your legs hurt. your hips hurt. you use these muscles that aren’t used to being used, and they scream at you to stop. your lungs are even worst. you can take ibuprofen to shut up the muscles, but there’s nothing for the breathing except to push through til it works itself out.
  2. injuries. you all know my feet in general suck at running. it’s a wonder that i’m still going, but PT, tape, the right shoes, and exercises can help with that. but there’s nothing but rest for ankle sprains.

    i rolled my ankle on a run on a gravel road in austin, rolled the other one at one ragnar, and had a few minor rolls here and there. i’ve biffed it in the woods in st. john’s, tripped on the track at st. ben’s, fell off a footbridge and got a massive thigh bruise at ragnar, fell and scraped a knee and hand at another ragnar,  etc. etc. the good news is, i have learned that CONSTANT VIGILANCE is key when running on anything not flat, and wearing the right shoes always helps. also, pick up my feet. i’ve been acute injury free for a couple years now.
  3. it can get expensive, especially when you buy stabilizing shoes like i do. relatively speaking, running is an inexpensive sport. it’s not like hockey or football. but dropping $150 on a pair of shoes that will last you 6 months can get kind of depressing. not to mention a reasonable sum on runderwear every year. but, to do this and do it without pain or injuries and feel comfortable, i’ll spend the cash.

3 best things about running

  1. eating food. i mean, that’s generally why i run.
  2. getting done running. especially when it was a good run with good time. stretching, peeling off the shoes and socks, drinking a lot of water to quench the thirst. then eating food.
  3. finding your muscles. my leg muscles are like rocks.
two topics for today

two topics for today

i have two topics to touch on today! (alliteration for the win.)

first topic: environmental junk

one of my goals for the year was to be a little more conscientious when it came to the environment, and i’m hoping i’ve already sort of started down the path. i still buy a lot of plastic, but i do recycle it. (on a related note, one of the things i want to research in the very near future is what exactly happens with our recycling?) but, the first two items in the three Rs are reduce and reuse, so i think it’s time to do that. i am going to try to buy more bulk items, items in better-recyclable or reusable packaging (aka NOT plastic), or buy from companies that are more eco-conscious.

today i ordered some dishwasher pods from dropps (don’t worry – both environmentally and septic safe!). the pod itself is made from polyvinyl alcohol which film dissolves in the washer and enters the water stream as micro-organisms (including bacteria, yeasts, and fungi) that commonly exist in water treatment plants are capable of breaking down polyvinyl alcohol to water and carbon dioxide. they’ve got quite a mission. so i’m hoping they work well – a 4 months’ supply was $17.

as i was thinking about what else i could do, i realized there are some things that i just. won’t. compromise. like my running gear. i’m always going to through a couple pairs of shoes a year and they will always be asics. i will buy headbands and wear shorts that are comfortable (though two of my pair are from tasc, which is bamboo fabric); i will buy single-use energy gel packs that are pretty wasteful; my socks and underwear will always be some sort of poly blend.*

which brings me to point two! i start half marathon training in a couple weeks, and the plan i’m trying out this year really ramps up the mileage compared to my last four halfs. i know in the past i’ve sort of blogged about training and all that, but i’m wondering if my readers would like to see more in depth running posts – maybe even some video? i could be one of those annoying runner youtubers, but only on my blog, and, unlike the other vloggers, i won’t be racing at unattainable speeds and looking like a graceful gazelle on camera. instead, i’ll be plugging along at 5 mph and gallumping over the pavement like a super sweaty rhino on a mission. i could review the stuff i wear and use. maybe someone will pay me to wear their stuff HAHAHAHA.

here’s a link to the video. can confirm: look like a gallumping sweaty rhino. (liz looks like a graceful gazelle.)

*check out my awesome segue

top ten of the ’10s

top ten of the ’10s

before i dive into my year in review, i thought it would be interesting to do a DECADE in review. that’s right; we’re throwing caution to the wind and counting the 0 year as part of a new decade (sorry, dad).

so i thought about the best times i had in the 2010s. some days were really easy to count as a top ten day, but toward the end of my top ten, i was having trouble figuring out which deserved a spot and which didn’t. there are, of course, a lot of trips that i could have counted, but ultimately, the day had to be something really outstanding, and there was really only one trip i went on that was really outstanding. i also counted days/moments of clarity that, while pretty boring to an outsider, changed my life going forward.

and i’m still not sure on what my #10 of the ’10s is quite yet. i’m going to write up the rest and see where it lands when i get there.

  1. best black friday evah: i don’t have a blog post about this one because of the great blog migration failure of 2011, but BF 2010 was THE BEST black friday evah. i had scoped out a $500 fridge at sears and decided it was time to replace my top-freezer fridge. this was back in the old days (haha) of when black friday was actually on friday, so jane and i woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get to sears by 4 a.m., sat in the parking lot watching a movie on netflix until about 4:20, walked in, dodging the fanny-pack wearing, cruising old ladies, straight back to appliances, where i placed my order. we were out of there in 10 minutes and back in bed by 5 a.m. later that day, jane used an expired macy’s coupon (25% off!), and we won on scratch-off lottery tickets. i know there’s something else i’m missing about this day (i think jane had another expired coupon she used), but we STILL aspire for all black fridays to be like this one.
  2. Cali: everything about visiting california was AWESOME. it was WARM. sunny. the ocean. a couple days were standouts on this trip: the day jane and i went to HP world was just the coolest thing ever. you were IN hogwarts, just drinking butterbeer and trying on your house robes. of course, it’s all fun and games until you decide to go on a ride without your dramamine, but even the hour it took me to get over my motion sickness (while sitting in the three broomsticks) was still better than being at home. we also drove up the PCH to santa barbara (in our CONVERTIBLE) and ended that day at the santa monica pier, looking out across the pacific as the sun set. then the drive home, jane had a real-life video game moment when she realized she was driving the road from one of her racing games! the worst part of the day was that jane missed the turn to our hotel. but if that’s the worst part of the day, i’ll take it. #thankskim
  3. TED stalking: one day in 2013, jane and i decided to go to crypticon because ted raimi was going to be there. (my top three days all involve jane. liz, you gotta up your doing stuff with us game.) we knew it would be a little fun, but we didn’t realize it was going to be THAT fun. but first things first: that morning, we ran the big gay race in the cities, which was the start of the fun. after we got to crypticon, we found ted and had a picture taken with him, and he autographed my joxer picture. this was after we told him we sang the joxer song the night before in preparation (to which he looked a little scared and wondered if we were going to break into song right then). we went to a couple sessions, checked out the merch, watched a cosplay pageant, got a TWEETED REPLY FROM WIL WHEATON,
    tweettook a break and went to a halloween store at the moa, then came back to the bar where we got two glasses of free beer from the bartender. then we went to the halloween prom and watched as ted came in and danced with some chicas! then we decided to stalk him a lil bit (but not too much because we didn’t want to get kicked out). after the prom, we did a circuit of hotel room parties and drank way too much (well i did) and i ended the day barfing from all the drinking. excellent. also, jane knows that the doubletree is not physically by the hilton now.
  4. starting running: in 2011, i got on a scale and decided i was too close to 300 lbs for comfort. i also was uncomfortable in clothes, chairs, and other things. so i decided to start running. other than a brief stint in the summer of 1998, you wouldn’t find me running anywhere at any time. when they made you run the mile in high school, i was sure i could walk a mile faster than run it. but, one day in november of 2011, i made a conscious decision to just start doing it. i paid for a monthly fieldhouse membership at st. ben’s and printed out a couch to 5k schedule. and i stuck to it. the first  day i ran a whole mile nonstop? i felt so accomplished! one day i was scheduled to do a mostly run, little walk for 3 miles, but i decided to just run the whole 3 miles. somewhere along the way, i became someone who runs. i’m still not fast, but 8 years later, i still run regularly, and i run long. i’ve taken three or four breaks due to foot injuries, but other than that, i have run at LEAST once a week for 8 years. since then, i’ve run four half marathons, a bunch of 5ks and 10ks, 3-ish trail ragnars, and countless hours on my treadmill, pavement, trails, and in the woods. it’s never a wonderful experience. what’s wonderful is knowing i can do it and then doing it.
  5. first half marathon: in 2016, either liz or i (oh look! a liz moment!) decided to convince the other that a half marathon was a good idea. at this point, i’d been running regularly for 5 years, so why not? i trained, but not as much as i should have. the half marathon was ok, but at that point, anything more than 8 miles was just such a drag (i had lost some weight at this point, but i was still only about -50 at that point (-90 now – holy cow!)). so the end was really tough for me, but what the training and the half marathon did was tell me “hey, you can do this too! see if you can keep doing this.” since then, liz and i have done a half marathon every spring. my training has gotten tons better, and our time has gotten better each year too. i’m hoping for a sub-12 minute mile this spring.
  6. accepting the roch job: after working at merrill for 5 years during the recession, i was ready to do something that was a little more attuned to what i actually wanted to do (although working at merrill made me an extremely adept adobe-shortcut wizard). i found a relevant job in rochester and decided to apply for it. lo and behold, i actually got it and was ready to put in my two weeks’ notice. the day i put in my notice, i drove home in the gathering dusk (because i worked til stupid 10 p.m. but at least it was may) and felt so good about life in that moment. remember in jerry maguire when he’s in his pontiac trying to find a song to sing to and lands on “free fallin” and you can relate because we’ve all have similar moments? that was me, except it was nicki minaj’s “starships” and in a nissan altima.
  7. SC Tech interview day: my interview for my current job was the easiest interview of my life. i don’t know if it was because i finally felt like i knew what i was doing, or if it was because i knew i wanted that job because i wanted to get back to central mn so dang it, it was going to be great. but the thing that was good about this day, in addition to the interview, was that nate drove up with me and we stayed overnight in st. cloud. if he hadn’t come up that day with me to my interview, i don’t know if we would necessarily be back here. it was a very familiar, very grounded day for both of us, and i’m glad it worked out like it did.
  8. charlie’s alive: when charlie had his accident, they put him in a medically induced coma. we had no idea what he would be like afterward – they’d just taken out a racquetball-sized piece of brain and who knows if some of his motor skills or memories or brain functions would be lost. so when he came out of his coma, and he looked at aunt rae and looked confused, who then pointed and told him his mom was on his other side, and he turned to see her, then responded to questions by squeezing their hands, omg. aunt rae called us (liz, jane, and me – we were on our way to the hospital) and told us what happened, and we jumped up and down in a huddle in jane’s driveway. that was probably one of the best days of my life so far!
  9. corn syrup: in early 2010, i watched a doc that finally changed a life trajectory: king corn. it basically talked about the food industry and how corn is in a ton of our processed foods we eat, and then it dove into big ag subsidies and a how high fructose corn syrup is just, well, the devil. so i decided to try to not eat any corn syrup (not just hfcs) for a month. and i did it. and after a month, i realized that food made with real sugar was better tasting, and actually a little better for you than corn syrup (i did a lot of research while i was abstaining from corn-derived sugar). so, i continued to try to not eat corn syrup (or devil’s syrup as i like to refer to it now). since that 2010 experience, i’ve relaxed a wee bit (mostly in social situations), but the food industry has really turned around, too. items that i avoided in 2010 because of devil’s syrup now list sugar as the sweetener (and NOT corn sugar – that’s just a obfuscating term for DS). the organic/simple ingredients trend has really become more mainstream, and it’s easier to find food that’s fewer ingredients these days. i knew that my crusade had come full circle just in the past couple months when i went to buy ice cream (have to get the expensive stuff because DS is cheaper to make ice cream out of) and kemp’s – KEMP’S – had scrounds of “simply crafted” ice cream in the freezer made with sugar.
  10. where i get hung up: what is #10? there are a couple items i feel could fill out the top ten of the ’10s. it could be visiting all the mn state parks in 2018, but that was more than a moment. that was an ordeal (altho a very satisfying one!). it could be a couple of the trips nate and i took: when we did a southwest loop in 2018 or headed to utah in 2010 (my favorite part of that trip was the 2 overnights we spent in the black hills on the way back). memorable for sure, but outstanding? not sure. it could be wizardworld, but that was for sure not as fun as crypticon. it could also be getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to take photos of sunrise over the SE minnesota valley towns. it could be the day i submitted my passport paperwork: that’s a moment with future.

    but what i think i’m going to choose is something a little mundane. nate and i were living in st. joe and i had just gotten back from an evening run – so this is narrowed down to 2012 summertime. i came in the house, poured myself a glass of iced tea, and headed out onto the deck where nate was standing with the cats for their supervised outside time. i plopped down on the deck and stretched out, chatting with nate about what was going on as the sun set on the other side of the house, casting a pinky purply bluey haze in the east across the short backyard, pond, small field, and copse of trees – trees forever in central mn. i don’t know why i still remember that evening. maybe it was because of the timing of nate on the deck when i came back from a run. maybe because it was just before i started commuting to roch/austin. maybe because of the time of year (sprrummer is the bomb, y’all). or a culmination of all put into one memorable moment that i just won’t forget.

a last hurrah

a last hurrah

today was halfway productive! nate and i put the lawn mower away after putting some gas saver junk in it. i, of course, had grand plans to mow the lawn one last time and failed, but not before i filled the tank with gas. then we hauled out the snowblower, cleaned it out, and got it ready for snow. i had to order a replacement part, which should be here in the next week. then it should be at least a little more workable when the snow comes down. (things were not working right toward the end of last summer.)

it was mid-40s today, so i figured why not take advantage of it and go for a run, which may be the last outdoor run of the season. it was really windy, so i headed out to st. john’s in hopes of the trees cutting the wind a little bit. no leaves, so it wasn’t a great windbreak, but it was probably better than if i’d’ve run on the road. and oh man, it was rough with the hills but i got in 4 miles! i’ll take what i can get. unfortunately, it’s probably back to the treadmill tomorrow.

to ragnar or not to ragnar

to ragnar or not to ragnar

(note to self: always ragnar.)

(down the road from our out-of-the-way campsite)

this year i had the chance to take some photos on the saturday of ragnar, and i didn’t want to give up the opportunity to make some cash. but i also wanted to ragnar. so, i did both.

  1. thursday i drove up to 9-mile forest early afternoon and got to drop-off only minutes after liz and abby did, which was handy! we got setup and parked, all that jazz. jane arrived shortly after, and we got situated with checkin, tshirts, and some wood-fired pizza (could go for some of that right now). that night i slept horribly, which was unfortunate, but it was what it was. i have to figure out how to turn off my anxiety for sleeping during ragnar. i even took a melatonin in hopes that that would knock me out. no such luck. oh well.
  2. friday we started early at 9:45 a.m. with quinn taking the first loop. abby took the second, which meant that it was only 11:15ish before i headed out on the first red loop of the team. i have to say, i really enjoy the red loop. sure, it’s long, and sure, you walk a lot of it (there are SO MANY roots and rocks and stuff), BUT you’re in the forest for about 4-5 miles, and then it opens up at the end into this wide roadway and you feel like you can just fly to the end.
    one unfortunate thing about my red loop, and i’ll take it because it didn’t involve any sort of permanent injury: my calves and feet started cramping up about a mile from the finish line. i should have worn my calf sleeves, but i thought i’d be ok. at the end, my toes were curling under in my shoes and i couldn’t straighten them out. (this cramping thing is a relatively new occurrence, and i have a doc appt tomorrow where i’m going to ask her about it.) unfortunate, because my legs were willing to kick in a little bit more and make it a fast finish. booooo calves…
  3. THEN I WAS DONE. WHAT???? i was so anxious about the run, that when i was finished, i was anxious for another hour or so afterward. but i just chilled at the tent and took off my sweaty clothes and cooled off. note to self: get a better water bottle system. my water belt just congregated sweat, it ran down my stomach legs, and then my shorts were just soaked with sweat. tmi? well, you’re the one reading about my ragnar experience…
  4. i still had my volunteer shirt to do, so i hung out for a little bit, then as soon as the supper line opened, i headed down to eat and then go to the HQ tent to get out to the water station. i ate SO MUCH food.
  5. my volunteer shift was actually kind of fun.

    i staffed two water stations on the red loop – one at mile 2.6 and one at 5.6. everyone was happy to see the 5.6 because it meant about 2 miles left and the enchanted forest was almost over.

    (entrance to enchanted forest from the water station crossing. this actually isn’t a bad section of it. there’s a lot worse.)
    AND, there was a guy out there running ragnar on a prosthetic leg. i am done complaining about everything ragnar, because if that dude can run on a prosthetic leg? then i can run on my injured foot.
  6. my volunteer shift was cut short due to a volunteer miscommunication, and i was done an hour early! that was good because i needed to leave and get to hudson, WI that night, about 2.5 hours west to take pics at a wedding saturday in stillwater.
  7. so ended my ragnar 2019 experience. if i am offered to do something on a ragnar saturday again, i think i’ll pass because i missed being there through the night and the next day 🙁

addendum: my one red loop i ran was great. i shaved 20 minutes off from last year. is that due to my better running times lately, or is it because i ran it on fresh legs and it was the only loop? (normally i run it last.) next year may be an indicator…

because you’ve been waiting for one!

because you’ve been waiting for one!

holy toledo, i haven’t given you an update on RAGNAR!

ragnar is in ONE WEEK. but here’s the deal: i’m taking wedding pics on day two of ragnar, so i have to skip out friday night. that means i’ll run the red loop (almost 8 miles in the woods) and then do the volunteer shift. so it’s not quite as overwhelming as doing all three loops, and i’m actually looking forward to it a bit more.

that said, i haven’t been training as much as i would have in years past, which is OKAY. i’ve run out at st. john’s a handful of times, and last weekend i did 8 miles out in the woods. but while the past couple years i’ve been out there 2-3 times a week, this year i was lucky if i got out there once.

see what happens when you only have to run one loop?

this afternoon (like, right after i finish this blog post) i’m heading out for a 9 or 10 mile road run. we’ll see what my time is like; i have been averaging a faster minute this summer, and whether that’s due to me no hauling around as much weight or just trying a little hard, i don’t know (probably both).

so, in one week we’ll see how i do on the red loop. the past couple years it’s been my last loop when i am so tired and muscles are out of juice. two years ago i did it on a sprained ankle. at that point, it’s lucky i was able to finish, let alone run a little bit of it (seriously, i bet i walked 3/4 of it each year).

next week goals: no injuries. run more of the red loop. dare i say finish in under 2 hours? that would mean shaving off 15 minutes from the past couple years. hmmmmm. we’ll see what it brings!

 

stranger danger

stranger danger

when i run, i tend to stick to well populated places for the most part. it takes me two miles of running from my house to get to any sort of solitude. even then, on the lake wobegon trail, there are other runners and bikers, dog walkers, couples out for their evening stroll.

there is no regular vehicle traffic, which is nice.

when i go for trail runs, i drive to st john’s then take off on the dirt logging roads that wind through the woods. i rarely run across people, and when i do, it’s normally in the fall and in the first half mile or so of the trail. the back 40 of the trail is mine alone for many runs. (this is sometimes disconcerting because i wonder what would happen if i fell or hurt myself. i do have the security number in my phone, so don’t worry, mom.)

i enjoy the solitude while i’m running; the introvert’s life longs toward not meeting anyone on the trail. but i’m often warned or reminded through the media about what could happen. kidnappings, assaults, attacks of women who are out on a run. i do have pepper spray. i don’t bring it with me. is this foolish? i’m not sure. the chance of being murdered out on a run? 1 in 35,000. i have a better chance of dying in a car crash. and in rural mn? i feel like the chances are even slimmer. (harassment while out on a run is a different matter.)

let me tell you about two incidences.

one was last fall when i was training for ragnar trail out in the woods. i had to try at least one night run out in the woods so i was prepared for constant vigilance on the trail. i don’t generally run in the dark because it freaks me out, but i needed to do one. i was out for a 4-mile run at about 8:30 p.m., and i saw a light up in the distance, like it was another runner  or someone with a flashlight. i listened closely for anything that might be weird or out of place, but didn’t. eventually, it went away. then i saw another one. (know what this tells me? i wasn’t watching my feet very closely.)

after a few more instances of this, i realized my headlamp was reflecting animals’ eyes. i probably freaked out more than one deer or raccoon that evening.

more recently:

i was running a long run on the lake wobegon trail. it was a dreary day, mid 40s. i did not want to be out there, but i needed to be if i was going to be ready for my half marathon. i was huffing along at my relatively slow, mediocre pace, when i saw someone come toward me, maybe 1/4-1/3 mile down the trail. then i turned around and headed the same way i was heading, at just about the same pace i was going.

he was a little bit slower because i gradually, sort of caught up to him. finally, he slowed down and started running backwards, telling me that he thought i would have overtaken him by now. i laughed and said slow and steady runs the race.

he was an older gentleman, a retired newspaper columnist from new york who was also a vietnam vet. he told me about his life while we ran the next four miles together. it never once crossed my mind that he might be an attacker.

the weekend following this, i went to visit relatives, where my aunt asked if i ran alone and what would happen if i were attacked and i had to be careful. i relayed this story. she seemed to have an “i told you so what would have happened if he’d been bad” moment. but i think it’s the opposite – you have to hope for the best in people, and this is a perfect example of camaraderie among runners. if i’d turned around, that would’ve been giving in to fear; you can’t be afraid of everything – we can’t live lives of complete fear*.

* i do have a more heightened sense of what’s around me while i’m running trails (paved and dirt) than when i’m running on the road. (well, a different sense of what’s around me. i need to know what’s going on with the cars.) please don’t worry about me 🙂  also, read this article about running while female.

grey is women, black is men.

pros and cons: a list about weight loss

pros and cons: a list about weight loss

this morning i stepped on the scale and saw a number i haven’t seen since 1999. 20 years ago!! i also just bought two pairs of pants that are size 12. i have only worn a size 12 once in my life, when i was 13 years old. (granted, 1993 size 12 was probably like today’s size 16, but i’ll take it.)

(i’ve done a few dietbets in the past 6 months or so, and now i’m down a total of 80 lbs. i’ve lost about 20 over the past 4 months.)(and made about $30 from the dietbets.)

so yeah, there are the pros to losing some junk in my trunk (and running as part of it):

  1. it’s easier to find clothes that look nice
  2. clothes fit better
  3. i fit into chairs better (not great yet, but better)
  4. when i cross my legs, my leg isn’t sticking way out in the middle of the room
  5. my leg muscles are pretty intense these days
  6. my cholesterol levels are super awesome
  7. my triglycerides levels are also pretty awesome

but it isn’t all butterflies and sunshine and kittens and unicorns. there are downsides to being overweight and then losing it. and i guess some of these apply to people who haven’t been overweight ever, too.

  1. the flabby skin is getting out of control. something about subcutaneous fat or some such. i need to google it and how to deal with it. i know part of it is age, too, which sucks because i can’t do anything about that. obviously the skin was more taut when there was more fat underneath it, but now it’s just hanging out. literally, in some cases.
  2. fat was a good face filler. my smile parentheses wrinkles were non-existent, but when i lost weight, they appeared. this is apparently a common thing among people who’ve lost a lot of weight.
  3. i’m a side sleeper most of the time, and when i snuggle up and put my legs together, my knee bones rub against each other. no fat there to keep the bones from knocking together.
  4. same on the butt bones when sitting on hard surfaces at a certain angle.
  5. i am COLD(er). COLD ALL THE TIME.
  6. i read a great quote in a book today about running and weight. the gist of it: if you were fat as a kid, as an adult you are either fat or scared of being fat. i remember the first time i had to take extended time off running (2 weeks for an injury). i was terrified i was going to gain back all the weight i’d lost – 40 lbs in 2 weeks, which would never happen. the struggle over weight anxiety is real, folks!
a run in the woods

a run in the woods

i’m thinking of getting some snowshoes, if only so i can go for an easy-ish walk through the woods at st. john’s. mid-winter treadmill blahs are never easy, especially when a person knows that running through the woods is only 5 mere months away.

a run in the woods starts with a forecast. if it hasn’t been rainy lately, it’s a good day for a run in the woods. a lot of rain means a lot of the low spots on the trails are filled with muddy water. even on not-so-rainy weeks, the low spots can still be muddy and hard to navigate with the muck.

st. john’s is about 5 miles from my house, so i hop in my car and take the short drive to park outside the prep school. take the fob off my keychain and stick it in my pocket. grab the can of OFF i keep in my car and spray down my exposed limbs, clothes, and top of my head. lock the car, then walk out on the asphalt road that runs through a cavern of trees to the freeway’s walking bridge. on my right is the stone gate.

i take a moment at the edge of the woods to stretch out my hips by swinging my legs back and forth, side to side. in the springtime, the trail is covered with old leaves that survived the winter; in summer, the trail is mostly dirt, the leaves having been desiccated; and in fall, sometimes the yellow leaves are so thick on the ground, it’s hard to know where the trail is.

my headphones go in and i take off into the woods, down the hill that greets me first thing. it’s a pleasant way to start the run. it gets harder.

the first half mile of my run, the lake peeps at me through the trees – teasing me with thoughts of paddleboarding. but i carry on and the trail gets a little harder.

hills go up and down, some a little rougher than others. sometimes there are divots hidden under brush. there is a series of hills i call the goldilocks – the first starts off ok, the second is a little harder, and the third is a bear (so to speak). toward the end of my 3-mile loop, there are two sections that are similar in grade and look, and i sometimes get confused as to how much i have left. on my 5-mile loop, there is a beast of a hill. going up or down is a challenge.

the mosquitoes are a challenge. if i forget to spray down with deet, i have a swarm of bugs following me and clinging to my skin. if the deet’s been sprayed, there is still a cloud, but they tend to stay off. however, if i stop for a moment at mile two (right before goldilocks), the mosquitoes take their chance and congregate. at this point, a lot of the bug spray has sweated off, and they strike while the iron’s hot. i have a lot of bug bites in the summertime.

it’s always wonderful thing, though, to be out in the trees running through them. the critters are out there, as are other people. summer is quiet, which is nice. once school starts in the fall, there are plenty of people out on the trails. one time i was out while the ROTC was doing some sort of training, and a creepy dude wasn’t moving except for his eyes were watching me like i was a russian operative. i said hi and he barely said hi back.

on the back part of my loop past the logging clearing, you can hear the traffic on the freeway, which cuts its way through the campus’ woods. then you loop a little bit away on a causeway next to a small lake with a swamp on the other side. in the spring, the view is breathtaking, and the call of the frogs overwhelm the hum of I-94.

my most common loop is the almost-4-mile. it ends with a rough patch, where i have to work to make it up the hill that greeted me on the run so pleasantly. and it ends back at the stone gate.

sometimes i stop at the gate; sometimes i hoof it across the road to finish up 4 miles on the other side; sometimes i take it easy and run back to my car on the asphalt.

i stretch out on the grass next to my car. i always stretch, but trail running uses different leg muscles than treadmill or road running, so i make sure to spend some extra time. then i grab my beach towel that stays permanently in my car, spread it on my front seat, and get in to drive home. i always have a bottle of water with me for the drive home, and at this point, the sun is generally close to setting.

it’s always a good day for a run in the woods.

now, running in the woods at night?

that’s a different story.

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