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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.

TBT: c2 5k edition

TBT: c2 5k edition

this month marks SEVEN YEARS (!!!) since i started running. barring some injuries and vacations to high altitudes, i’ve consistently run the past seven years.

let’s do a throwback to 2011’s trip to the black hills with the fam.

five months after this pic was taken, i started running regularly at the fieldhouse at st. ben’s.

and, as my dad said, i’ll never be a sprinter! but, starting running was hard. it was probably one of the harder things i’ve done in my life, especially since it was from scratch. i’d run off and on during the summer of 1998, but it never really got into a groove with the breathing.

breathing was the worst part, followed by the ambition to keep at it, then trailed by the fact that muscles started to hurt. oh god, the breathing. it took probably 2 months for my breathing to get into a groove. and once that breathing was under control, i knew it was time for easy street.

i will say this: the muscle part was never really a barrier; in fact, i think i got off pretty easy with how little my leg muscles hurt. i could have had shin splints, and i never did. i wrapped my knees for a while, and my hips hurt for a couple weeks, but overall, muscles were good. now i’ve got calves of steel. (that’s about the only steely muscles i have, unfortunately. wish i had buns of steel but the junky trunk is real).

i don’t know how i kept going. i could have easily quit and resumed my lifestyle of slothdom. but maybe it was a challenge – sort of like how i run long distances, not because i want to win a race, but because i want to prove i can do it. the first time i ran a mile non-stop was glorious. i stretched out on the wrestling mat in the corner and was just giddy with myself.

i’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my right heel, a bad cortisone shot in that heel, three rounds of PT on it. i severely sprained it at ragnar 2017 and screwed up the tendons, and now the top of that foot’s not doing great because i’ve been trying to correct my gait. i just have to be ok with the fact that that foot will never be like the left, unfortunately.

i’ve lost 75 pounds! and my triglycerides are fantastic, despite still eating a bunch of bad food. my cholesterol levels decreased into levels that my doc said they didn’t even register on the bottom of the scale. i can attest to running as a healthy alternative to sitting on the couch.

winter means treadmill running, which sucks, but it makes summertime outdoor running that much more enjoyable. there are days when i wonder why i even put on my shoes, then there are days when i would be fine with two miles, aim for three, and actually run four (those are few and far between). i just recently ran my fastest 5k, another exhilarating moment.

i’ve run three half marathons and two ragnars. a marathon will probably never be on my plate, as my joints and muscles just don’t like running more than 8 miles. and that’s quite all right! if you’d asked me 10 years ago if i’d ever run 13 miles, i’d’ve laughed in your face.

and i’m still slow. i mean, you’d think after 7 years, i’d be a little speedier, but it’s OKAY to run slow. i want to enjoy the run and not kill myself. i think that’s 90% of why people quit running after trying it out. you don’t have to run a 10-minute mile right out of the gate. you don’t even have to run it after 7 years. my fastest 5k time? it was an 11:34-minute mile. that was FANTASTIC. i normally run a 12-12:30-minute mile.

so here’s to another 7 years of running. i didn’t think i’d still be running after 7 years, but now i’m invested. i hope my knees hold up, my foot works itself out, and my bunion chills out (good grief my feet). in the grand scheme of things, i’d rather have some bad joints than a heart attack.

here’s 2015 with my green lady!

ragnar part deux

ragnar part deux

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

#constantvigilance

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.

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