08/29/11

First Bike Ride This Month

It’s been two weeks since my chair accident and three weeks since my 50 mile race. I figured since the small runs had gone well, it was time to try my bike again and see how my back felt while doing it.  Good news — it was pretty good! My lower back didn’t even start to ache until I was finishing up!

I passed the peppermint fields, the cornfields, corrals of horses and cows, hayfields with haystacks piled up like children’s blocks and also strewn all about throughout the fields. I love haystacks! It makes me think of hay rides and pumpkin patches and corn mazes — some of the delights of fall!

I wore a long sleeved shirt today on the ride, which was a first for this season! I woke up fairly early since I’d been tossing and turning in the night dreaming I was at an upcoming race as a crew member or pacer. It was a fun dream and I kept switching pals I was helping throughout the night it seemed, so when I’d wake up I really wasn’t sure if I was actually at the race or not! Kind of funny how the brain gets on a track like that and won’t let go! It just seemed easier to get out of bed and start my day than go back to “pacing and crewing” in my sleep since I wasn’t resting during my dreams anyways. haha!

11.24 miles on the bike.  1:08 total time. 9.8 speed. Heart Rate: 138 Felt: Fine

08/28/11

“Christie, you’re RUNNING!”

I picked up an IT strap yesterday. I was eager this morning to get out and try it on a little run in the neighborhood. I wore my trail shoes and figured I would walk the asphalt section (about a 1/4 mile) then gently jog along the dirt canals near my home. That’s what I did.

As usual, I woke about 8 am, got dressed, fed the kids and had breakfast, got them started on chores, then headed out for a run around 10 am. It’s always pretty hot when I finally get out to run and there are so many times I think to myself, “Why do I always do this? I should be one of those early birds, getting up before the sun and the heat.”, but it never seems to happen – at least when I’m running alone.  It was about 80 degrees, very sunny and hot. I didn’t mind that much. Since I’ve done it this way so often, the heat doesn’t bother me that much – at least for a short run.

Since this is only the second “run” I’d attempted since my chair injury, I was a little nervous. I kept the pace slow and clicked through my Garmin screens until it was showing just the heart rate and figured I’d focus on that for this one.  I was surprised how high my heart rate was while running so slow. I’d assumed it would be in the “easy” zone and it was midway through the aerobic one.  Maybe it was the heat. Likely, it’s also from hardly running at all this month. 🙁  I’ve been losing fitness while unable to workout. 🙁

The run went pretty well. I ran along the canal, the water reflecting the clouds in the sky above, ducks silently swam one-after-another in little rows along the waterway. Bushes dotted with bright purple coned flowers  lined the water on both sides.  The straw-colored grasses along the path were interspersed with pops of bright yellow sunflowers that cheered my heart.  I ran along the canal, as it wound through the golf course, settling into a steady, slow rhythm and thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh! I’m running and it doesn’t hurt!”

I hit 2.5 miles and decided to turn around — not wanting to push too hard too soon, even though I was feeling fine. I jogged along and suddenly, I heard my name, “CHRISTIE! You’re running!” I whirled around and saw my lovely running friend, Francie, out on the golf course enjoying a game with some friends, waving at me.  “Hi, Francie!”, I said and she said, “You’re running again! How is it?” I told her, “No pain yet! I’m so happy!” We waved good-bye and I grinned as I kept hearing the phrase, “Christie! You’re running” in my mind.  It made me glad.

Naturally, though, that high moment needed something to bring it back down to reality, so my IT band did start to ache a bit just a few minutes later. I slowed down to a walk and adjusted the band again to make sure the tension was good on the sore spot. I drank some water and then eased back up to a slow jog.  It seemed ok. Not bad, but it was still less-than-perfect.  That’s ok, though. I’ll take my time. I’ll hold back the pace. I won’t even THINK about that fall marathon I had my heart set on. It doesn’t matter now – not as much as running at all.  If it means to fully recover, but still be able to run, will involve a slower pace with walk breaks for awhile — then I’ll do that. I’ll do whatever I need to do to regain my running abilities and full health.  Running for a lifetime has always been my overall goal. There are things we can’t always control.  I grew up watching my Mom run all the time. She was the first female marathoner I ever knew and I was so proud of her for it! Then, about a year ago, she was struck with rheumatoid arthritis and almost overnight, her running career ended after nearly 25 years. It broke my heart and I watch her struggle emotionally with that loss. Happily, my Mom could not be kept down, so she discovered a love for biking and now easily knocks out many more miles per week than I ever have. She’s an athlete for life and I’m so proud of her for that accomplishment! I hope to be like her too and keep up a fit, active life as long as I live! Well done, Mom! What a great, example!

Stats: 5.03 miles 12:51 pace. 1:04 overall time. 166: ave HR.

08/28/11

Hello Baby!

 

My best friend, Bertha showed up at my house yesterday with a wonderful surprise — her beautiful granddaughter, Annie, who’s only 5 months old!  I have been dying to meet the baby since she was born, but we hadn’t been able to work it out.  She totally caught me by surprise when she asked if she could just pop by for a visit and didn’t tell me who she was bringing!  I opened the front door and just gasped when I saw that adorable little baby girl!

Bertha and I were like a couple of seven year olds with a new toy, hugging the baby, making silly faces at her, taking her for a walk and giving her baby food for the next couple of hours! It was wonderful! I hadn’t held a small baby since my own were little. My “baby” is now 4 1/2 years old, so getting do cuddle this sweet, warm bundle of joy, who couldn’t have weighed more than 12 lbs or so just melted me like butter! She had the sweetest toothless smile and I got to use my “baby voice” with her, which I’d totally forgotten I used to use ALL THE TIME with mine! It was awesome!

When the baby got fussy, we put her in the stroller and headed out the door. My 6 and 4 year old daughters (who were star-struck by the cute baby) begged to come along, too. The five of us girl strolled around my neighborhood, while Bertha and I chatted and admired the baby.  It was fun!

Stats: 1.5 miles Time: Who CARES?! 🙂

08/27/11

Just a Little Test Jaunt

I woke this morning before my sleeping spouse or any of my five children had stirred. It’s Saturday and that’s my favorite running day of the week. Usually, I’m up before the sunshine and headed out to meet up with a group of my running gang in the Boise foothills. Not today, though. Since my 50 mile race, where the IT band misbehaved for the last 17 hours, I’ve only ran once — a 10 mile run with my friend Ryan while our families were camping together in the mountains. I had ended up having to walk the last few miles of that one, since the IT band was still cranky with me.  Then, I had the unfortunate incident with my desk chair breaking and the dramatic fall to the wooden floor on my lower back that sent me to the ER in severe pain. I’ve struggled with lower back pain and sciatica since that fall and had to take muscle relaxers and pain medication for the last two weeks.  It’s been a crazy month! In addition, my sprained ankle from early July still has not fully healed and my plantar faciitis in my right arch has been giving me trouble too. It seems I’ve been falling apart lately!

So, the calendar, where I like to give myself a colorful rubber stamp mark on the date each time I do a run (it’s that elementary teacher in my blood showing through again), shows that I’ve only ran or walked 5 x this entire month.  Last month there were only 3 days I did not run/bike or workout. I ran over 135 miles (low for me this time of year since I was trying to baby the sprained ankle), and biked 117 miles in July.   This month, it’s nearly the exact opposite due first to tapering for Wild Idaho 50 miler and then to my injuries.  I’m definitely eager to get back on the horse again and get back to my regular training and volume.

Every year, the fall racing season is my peak one. The fall marathon is always my crowning jewel — the thing I spend the entire rest of the year gearing up for.   This may be the first City of Trees Marathon since 2009 that I don’t even participate in. I’d hoped to break 4 hours this time. I ran it in 4:20 last year, holding the sub 4 pace for nearly 20 miles before fading. That time was still better than the year before where I’d ran the same course in 4:57, so I’ve felt pretty confident that as I grew in experience as a runner and trained harder, I would continue to improve my marathon times. I really think sub 4 is in within my grasp – or was — before the injuries.   Now, that I’ve lost some key weeks in my training, I’m really not confident at all.  I’ve got 6 weeks to the race. I’m still not fully recovered. It’s not looking good.

Today, I pulled on my bright pink running shorts and black tank, laced up the Asics and headed out for my first solo run since my 50 mile race 3 weeks ago. I was nervous. The doctor clearly gave me instructions NOT to run for 2 weeks after my chair accident (13 days ago) and only if I could do so without pain.  I was nervous about how my body would react. I tried a 4 mile walk a few days ago and my lower back just throbbed the next day from the effort.

Thankfully, today went a bit better.  I started out walking the first 1/3 mile to warm up the IT band and muscles since they’re out of practice. Then, very gently, I started jogging, noting that my right butt cheek did have a bit of pain (where the sciatica has been happening) but just a little discomfort, nothing too bad. I kept the pace really slow – like 13 min pace going over each achy body part and checking in with it and seeing how it was doing. My sprained ankle actually was pretty sore at the start, but once it warmed up I didn’t notice it at all. The IT band spoke up almost immediately, but kept it down to a dull roar.  It did not affect my gait or cause me to limp – just ached some. My lower back surprisingly felt fine! Yay! As long as I don’t have any inflammation by tomorrow morning, I think I’ll gradually start adding back my workouts and seeing how my body responds. I’m so eager to get back into the swing of things, but don’t want to rush my body before it’s ready. I’ll need to be patient as my friend, Ryan reminded me to be this week.  I’m not very good at that, so I’ll have to do my best.

Today’s stats: 2.37 miles. 12:25 pace. 29:28 total time. Felt: Ok

08/25/11

Tears Falling Down Like Raindrops

depression

I’m really struggling today.  I know other injured athletes can relate. You’re competitive, focused, you get a real high from working out, staying on your plan, patting yourself on the back each time you mark off yet another challenging workout on your way to a big race goal, enjoying the camaraderie of your like-minded friends – and then suddenly — injury throws you to the sidelines.  You’re out of the game. Watching everyone else continue on down the path to greatness.  It messes with your self-esteem, your self of “who” you are since you identify so much with your sport.  If no longer running – am I still a runner?!!! Am I one of them?  The chitchat of upcoming races and scheduled runs makes your heart ache with longing to join in the fun, the challenge.  But, you can’t.  You’re just a spectator now.

You watch the calender. Day after day goes by without a single workout written on it. You don’t feel like “you” anymore.  Who are you?! You know the answer is supposed to be, “Well, that’s fine because I’m also a Wife and Mother and great friend, a writer, a neighbor.. blah blah blah.”  You know that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to say.  You’re supposed to be fulfilled in other ways. Supposed to say, “Well, look at that! Finally some time to get to writing that great novel I’ve always meant to find the time for” or “Fantastic! I’ve been wanting to spend more time with the kids, baking cookies and making Kodak moments!”  But, you know yourself too well.  You’re an addict. An exercise junkie! You process your emotions as you ride, run and do your core work and yoga. You’re not like the others – the non-exercisers.  You’re different. Something in your DNA makes it impossible to just go back to “how it was” before you had your first taste of endorphins. You can’t do it. Impossible. Your best memories, your favorite facebook photos all involve you and your sport and your pals who do it with you.  They get it. They’re like you. Part of your tribe. Your people.  You miss them terribly. You yearn for the joking, the kidding around, the gossip on the trails, the funny pictures you always take of each other.

I’m drowning in a sea of tears today.  Can’t seem to stop the avalanche of emotional baggage I’ve stacked up since I last ran.  It’s crushing me. I can’t breathe. I feel so alone. Other problems in my life – things that I should be able to overcome and handle – loom larger than life all of a sudden. I can’t cope with the usual stresses and problems the way I normally do — through pushing myself hard and sweating it out.  My brain is working overtime – thoughts spinning wildly out of control.  Friends, family members might find my reactions to simple things irrational and overblown.  I can’t seem to help it, though. It’s how I am.  It’s who I am. I’m a runner and I’m not running right now.

It’s been only 10 days since my accident.  The pain in my back is still bad enough I’m taking a few doses of ibuprofin a day and finding myself waking in pain in the mornings. I feel like my identity has been switched and I’m really NOT liking the change.

My eyes are puffy, my shoulders slumped, my self-esteem in the toilet. Why do I need the constant pay-off that a good workout gives me? Why do I need to be surrounded by a zillion, fun-loving, athletic friends to feel good about myself? I don’t know, but it’s how it is. I’m at peace, I’m whole, I’m happy and balanced when I’m doing what I love with the people I’ve come to adore as part of my extended family.

And, I do have a great family – don’t get me wrong.  It’s because they love me and support me that I’ve been able to achieve what I have in my running career and personal life. I know I’m being melodramatic. I know I’m being ridiculous and silly and emotional. It really would crush me more if something happened to any of those who I love or if my husband were to lose his job and our ability to support our family or if I found out I was facing a life-threatening illness, like my courageous, strong and beautiful friend Tami.  Those are real problems and much worse than what I’m dealing with and I know that and I don’t mean to overshadow real heartache with my own selfish pity party.

I just had to express it. Get it out. In some way, shape or form purge the ugliness and YUCK from my tumultuous heart, while I sit idly by, waiting.. always waiting…. to be healed and back on the trails and roads again, alongside those who understand and will welcome me with open arms and a challenge to “push outside of my comfort level” again.  I just miss it.  🙁

08/23/11

The Rustling of the Cornstalks in the Breeze

 

I’m starting to feel better. Yesterday, I cleaned the house, deep cleaned the pantry, mopped the floor, scoured the bathrooms, vacuumed and made the bed and even got to work on my fall lesson plans for the upcoming homeschool year. I also didn’t take any pain medicine. It was an improvement! I still struggled with the sciatica in bed when I tried to roll over or adjust positions, but it was better than the day before.

When I woke up today, I noted that my lower back is still sore, but much less sore than a week ago. I decided to go ahead and take a walk today and see how my body is recovering.  I’ve had a lot on my mind (a common problem when I’m not able to run for weeks at a time, since all of those day-to-day frustrations and feelings build up inside and I’m not able to purge them in the usual sweaty way.) I figured a walk would at least clear some of the mind clutter.

Autumn is in the air! There was a gentle breeze as I stepped out the door.  I noticed the leaves on the trees are starting to turn golden and brown. It made me smile. I’m a fall baby! My birthday’s in November and I always feel like the natural world is doing a fantastic job  of decking out the trees and the grass before my birthday in lovely shades of red and orange and brown!

I love the delicious fragrances and sounds of fall! The air is crisper. The local farmers are harvesting their fields.  Harvesting machines are out, humming along, doing their work. Heavy trucks whoosh by me on the road, filled with local, fresh farm produce. When I walked by the peppermint fields,which are now mowed down fairly short, the decadent scent nearly overwhelmed me! I closed my eyes and dreamed of gum and candy canes. As I strolled by the corn fields, I gazed upwards. The stalks made me feel miniature when I’m next to them! I’d say they are nearly 7 foot tall and I’m closer to 5!  The soft breeze rustled the cornstalks and I again closed my eyes and enjoyed the pleasant, familiar sounds of fall.

I passed ducks swimming in the canal bordered on both sides by purple wild flowers. I gazed up at the sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds.  My heart ached. I wanted to break into a dead sprint, push hard for all I’m worth, feel the speed in my legs again, the wind rushing past my ears and face. Give it all I’ve got and run until my lungs burn, my sides ache and my legs give out, leaving me a pleasantly empty shell.  That’s what running can do for me. It cleanses me. It purifies my heart, my thoughts, makes decisions easier, gives me courage when those decisions are difficult ones that need to be made. I’m better when I can run and run hard and fast and long. Sometimes I wish I could just start running and never ever ever stop……..

But, I’ll have to wait for my purification. Today was just a walk in the countryside. I’ll ache and yearn for my back to heal, my IT band to settle down so that I can recklessly run into the arms of my true love again — my stride stretched out, my arms held wide, alive, free, happy and at one with the beauty all around me.  For running IS my true love.  And I will dance the ballet of the the truly joyful.   Mother Nature’s world  a lovely blur as I rush by, delighted and free spirited and happy, shedding all my worldly cares and being the little Nymph I was meant to be – laughing, smiling, twirling on the mountain tops, naked, alive and free.  I miss you running!!! We’ll be together again soon, I hope! I’m just not me without you.

 

08/20/11

Who Knew Office Chairs Could Be So Dangerous?

On Monday, I got up early and was feeling very rested and happy from our camping weekend. I sat down at my home computer, like I’ve done a thousand times before and caught up on my morning e-mail and checked in with Facebook and Daily Mile.  Just a moment after I’d hit submit on my Daily Mile entry, I stretched my arms over my head and let out a nice, long yawn.  I heard my chair make a loud POP!  Before I knew what was happening, the back and side of my office chair had collapsed and I fell onto the wooden floor. Severe pain shot through my back and I screamed, “OUCH!” I was moaning and the pain was enough to nearly make me pass out. I thought I’d broken my back. I wasn’t even sure if my legs could move at first, but slowly, I got up, grabbing my back and crying in pain, “Help me!!”

My sweet, little 10 year old son was the only one in the room with me when it happened and he stood nearby, just frozen in shock, with his mouth open, looking terribly scared. I pulled myself painfully over to my desk and grabbed my phone to call my husband. He didn’t answer, so I called his cell phone, my hands just shaking from the pain as I tried to focus through the agony and dial the right number. He didn’t answer that call either. I started to cry. It hurt so bad and I was having a hard time moving at all.  I inched my way to the living room couch and painfully laid down and asked my son to go get my 12 year old daughter to help.

She came down quickly and when the phone started to ring, she brought it to me and I found my husband on the other end wondering what was wrong. I couldn’t stop crying and just told him, “I’ve hurt myself badly! I need to go to the hospital. Please come home now!” He works about half an hour away and I was eager to have him there to help me get to a doctor.  I just moaned and cried on the couch, while my mind was racing and I wondered, “What in the world have I done to my back?!”  I admit that the first thing I was thinking was, “Will I still be able to run?” and tears came when I even considered that I’d hurt myself bad enough that I never could again.

My husband got home as quickly as he could and we very, very slowly got me inch by painful, moaning inch to the car, where I yelled in pain when I had to lift my right leg up to shut the door.  He drove me to the Emergency Room and we found a little old man waiting there with a wheelchair.  He asked me, “What happened?” and I told him through my tears, “I think I broke my pelvis.”  A younger, strong, burly nurse came over and said to me, “Do me a favor, Miss. If you ever break your pelvis again CALL AN AMBULANCE!”

It was about an hour before they were able to get me into x-ray.  When I laid perfectly still, the pain wasn’t too bad, so I’d found a position with my head on the sidebars where I was ok. I started making jokes with the nurse and when she told me she was interested in losing weight and becoming a runner, I of course had to tell her to friend me on facebook and I’d hook her up with the coolest running friends around!”  I also noticed the doctor wearing Saucony shoes and while I laid there, I said, “Doc, are you a runner, too?” He was a pretty straight-faced, serious, all business type of guy, but a I saw a little smile cross his lips when I’d uncovered his secret other life. He said, “Yes, I am.” I told him I had just ran a 50 mile ultra marathon in the mountains the week before. He said, “You must have a very supportive husband to let you go off and do that sort of thing.” I told him,” Yes, I’m very lucky.”  I think Wayne liked the compliments.

They tried to put me on a moving board to get me over to the x-ray table, but it was no use. They had forgotten to give me my pain meds, so I felt every single movement and it was so sharp and awful I swear someone was tazering me with electric shocks at every little movement. Very quickly, I went from social butterfly to crying out in pain and gritting my teeth again.  It was SO painful!

After the x-rays, they brought me back to my room and I waited for the doctor’s diagnosis. He finally came in and told me, “Good news! You didn’t break it! You bruised it badly! NO RUNNING until you can do so without any pain at all!”  I asked “How long do you think that will be since I have a marathon to train for?” He said, “As long as it takes – at least two weeks.”

Well, it’s been 6 days since I hurt myself now and the pain is still just as bad. 🙁 I’m not able to do much of anything right now. Bending hurts, turning over in bed hurts, quick movements hurt, tying my shoes – impossible, bending at the waist – also impossible. 🙁 I’m feeling rather helpless and a bit sorry for myself at the moment. I wish the pain would subside at least! The medication doesn’t really help at all.

I’m crossing my fingers that this imposed rest will help heal it quickly and that my IT band and sprained ankle will also benefit from this break. But, i’m going kind of stir-crazy. I’m so glad Ryan took me on that run the last day of camping since I’d already taken a week off before that after Wild Idaho and had tapered almost a week before the race. 🙁 I feel like I haven’t ran much at all the last three weeks and it’s breaking my heart.

If you have any “Get better” vibes to send my way, I’m freely accepting any and all I can get!  And word of warning — don’t assume something as innocent as an office chair cannot hurt you. Apparently, in my case – it totally can!!!!!

08/20/11

Camping with the Andersons

Wayne and the kids and I hadn’t had a lot of experience camping.  We’d only gone once – two years ago and figured it was time to try again. We made plans with our friends, Ryan and Michelle and their four fun kids to do a little camping last weekend. It turned out to be a whole lot of fun!

We met up at Bruneau Dunes State Park on Friday evening and enjoyed hot dogs and smores around a campfire, while we settled in.  Though it had been a brutally hot day, as the sun was setting the temperature was pretty close to perfect.  After the sun had set, we gathered up the 9 kids between us (yeah, we looked like a school field trip more than two families out for some fun), and drove to the Observatory only about a mile and a half from camp to enjoy some close-up views of the stars and planets.

The moon was full and it turns out that’s the worst time to try and view the stars, constellations and planets! Oops! It was so bright out! I’d even worn my Robie Creek glow-in-the dark skull shirt to amuse the kids, but you couldn’t even tell it was glowing the moon was so bright!  We still had a good time, though, checking out all the telescopes and chatting with the other people there.  We got into the long line to see the main telescope and we were treated to a very up-close-and personal view of the moon.

By the time our families got back to the tents, we were all pretty tired. No one in my family even bothered to brush teeth or put on pajamas. We just snuggled into our sleeping bags and fell into a restful, deep sleep. I found that the fresh air lulls me to sleep like a contented baby.  It was very cozy in our tent and I dreamed happy dreams all night, surrounded by my sweet family.

The next morning, after a quick breakfast of donuts, fruit and bagels, we headed over to the best attraction of all out there – the sand dunes!  The last time our family had been there, my kids were pretty young, so it didn’t occur to me that they might be doing a LOT of climbing and need plenty of hydration! Oops! Luckily, Ryan was on the ball and brought his Nathan vest filled with water and snacks. It was pretty funny watching kid after kid walk up to him and beg for a drink! I think he got voted “Nicest Grownup of the Day” after that. I, too, admit to begging for a drink of water from Ryan’s magic hydration vest.

It was such a blast walking the little trails out there in a long line (13 people in all shapes and sizes!!!) Savannah was the littlest at age 4 and I was the oldest at age 38! We made a colorful pilgrimage to the best dunes, the littlest ones sometimes saying, “Could you carry me, puuuleeezee????”  The kids had a blast climbing up and down, playing in the sand and burying each other. My son Wayne Jr and Ryan and Michelle’s son, Zach seemed determined to see how many times they could do hill repeats on the steepest dune of all! I think they ascended and descended it like 8 times and they were still full of energy when we left! Those little dudes totally impressed my socks off! We definitely have to get those two boys out on the trails soon and really let them go to town and see how they do! We could have a couple of future Badwater contenders on our hands here!

Nearly the entire group did climb close to the top at least once.  I made it up after Ryan, Jr and Zach had already arrived. The view was spectacular up there! Idaho is such a beautiful, scenic state and this particular area is especially lovely from way up high! The blue sky didn’t have a cloud in it. You could see the greenish-tinted lake down below.  There were hawks flying about, looking for prey. It was definitely a view worthy of the climb to get there.

After a bit, I told Ryan I wanted to roll down the dune to the bottom. He agreed to race me! My husband got some funny pictures of us careening down the hillside, sand flying everywhere. I think I may have kicked Ryan in the head on the way down (Sorry, man!)  It actually was a painful journey, too. It felt like hammers were hitting every body part as I rolled. I think I yelped, “OUCH!” a few times, but doing so only caused more sand to get into my mouth – choke choke.   When we hit the bottom, I was so dizzy, I couldn’t lift my head for a minute. I was smiling when I finally got up, though. That was crazy, but fun! I had so much sand in my ears, they were totally coated in it! Ryan looked like someone had sandblasted him.

Ryan headed up again with the two boys and they aimed for the tallest dune around and made it all the way to the top! The photos they got from there were pretty cool! I regret that I didn’t join them and check it out too! Next time!!!

After everyone was tired out and hungry, we headed back to camp to pack up.  We drove a couple of hours to Baumgartner Hot Springs for our next night of camping adventures! We were not disappointed either! It was awesome!  There were Ponderosa trees everywhere, there was an icy cold lake to dive and swim in and a natural hot springs to warm up with! There were even trails for hiking and running! It was SO cool!!!

I think the kids would say they loved swimming in the lake the best. It was fun watching them jump on floating tubes and ride around, laughing and having fun or taking turns leaping off the giant rock in the middle.  Ryan kept doing these crazy back-flips right off the top and I had to cover my eyes since I was certain he was going to kill himself with his crazy acrobatics!  Luckily, no one was injured at the Lake and everyone had a great time.

After eating a yummy dinner around the campfire, we all headed to the hot springs pool.  It’s a pretty cool set up. The water is actually drained and refilled each day, so it’s fairly clean despite the zillions of people who are there bathing with you.  I think the drastic change to the very hot water from the icy cold water was a fun one for the kids (and very appreciated by me, since I’m a total weenie in cold water!)  It was relaxing and a lot of fun!

Back at camp, the kids played chase, football, tag and enjoyed one another’s company. The grownups sat around the campfire until each of the younger ones had been tucked in for the night. It was a lovely time, sitting under the stars and moon, sharing stories with one another under the night sky. Staring into the flames of the firelight, I breathed deeply the scent of wood and forest and smoke and felt truly happy and at peace.

After a bit, we all headed to our tents to get some rest. I’d told Ryan I wanted to join him on his morning run, so I slept a bit fitfully, wondering if I was oversleeping or not, waking and checking the night sky from the vent on the top of my tent and wondering if it was 4 am or not yet.  Finally, my husband woke me from a deep sleep and told me Ryan was ready to run. I stumbled out of the tent and headed to the car where I’d laid out my Garmin and running clothes the night before.  All was still and the night was black around me as I gathered my things and headed to the bathroom to change, while trying to be quiet and not wake up the rest of the campers.

Finally I was ready. I ate a banana and told Ryan “Good morning” in a whisper. The truth was, I was pretty nervous about this run. Since my IT band acted up at Wild Idaho, the week before, I had not ran one single step and I was fearful that I would try to run and only make it a few steps before finding the pain too much and having to turn back and go back to sleep.  Injuries always scare me like that since healing happens in it’s own sweet time (not when I want it to get better unfortunately!)

Luckily, Ryan suggested we walk the first few minutes, which I think helped my IT band a lot since it was warm before I pushed it harder.  We stayed very quiet as we passed several campsites and only began chatting and running once we’d gotten further away and wouldn’t disturb anyone.  The moon was full, the stars were shining bright and the scent of the damp earth and the pine trees rejuvenated my senses and brought me to life – even though it was pitch black all around me and hours before I usually wake up for the day. The chill in the morning air made me shiver in my shorts and tank top, but I had a huge smile on my face since I was actually RUNNING and not in a lot of pain! Times like this, when I’m out running under a dark sky with a friend make me feel like I’ve discovered a secret — that the real fun isn’t in staying under the covers for an extra hour or two, but it’s in being one with nature, letting the breeze whip your hair from your face, feeling the damp grass under your feet, watching the sun rise while on a mountain top and in sharing those special moments with a friend who’ll look you in the eye and share a knowing smile as the day begins anew.

We didn’t have any particular goals, so we just ran up one trail and when it dead ended, we’d find a new one.  This happened a lot! Ryan even took me cross-country a couple times to get back to the main road when the trail we were running became too rugged. We came to one spot where there was a deep water crossing.  Normally, we’d both just go for it and run right through, but it was very cold and we were both shivering in the morning air and decided against that path.  We spotted the hoof prints of a deer near where we’d been running and hoped we’d bump into some cool wildlife — but… it didn’t happen. It must have been nearby, though! The tracks seemed fresh.  We did stop when we heard a really loud turkey calling into the morning air! That was cool, even though we didn’t get to see him either!

We ran and then walked as my IT band eventually started to get sore again.  The sun rose as we finished up our 10.5 miles and headed back to camp to start the fire and get breakfast going for the families. It was a relaxing, enjoyable start to the day! We were so distracted getting morning preparations going at camp, that we forgot to remove our headlamps.  Ryan’s wife came out of the tent and teased, “You guys can take those off now you know.” haha! It was funny! At least they weren’t turned ON!

After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausages and bacon with juice and coffee, the kids begged to go swimming one last time. Ryan kept an eye on them while the rest of us packed up camp. We ended the morning with one last dip in the hot springs, which was the perfect way to relax before going on the long drive back home.

My children said as we drove away, “I hope we can do it again soon!’  My sentiments exactly!!!

08/10/11

Happy Early Birthday Rebecca!!!!!

12 years ago on this day, I headed into a hospital in Overland Park, Kansas to begin the induction of my first labor.  16 hours (and more pain than I had ever experienced in my life) later, I was holding the world’s most beautiful baby girl – Rebecca Robin Ebenroth!!!  🙂 Tomorrow will be her 12th birthday! Happy birthday, baby girl!!!! It still feels like it was only yesterday!

08/10/11

Michael Lebowitz professional photos from Wild Idaho Endurance Race

I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from the Wild Idaho Endurance race this weekend, taken by my pal and a fantastic photographer – Michael Lebowitz.   You can find the entire gallery at:

http://gallery.longrunpictures.com/Ultras/WIFMERWIHMER-2011/18449838_X8Xzvv#  PASSWORD: wild idaho

Please credit Michael Lebowitz with any photos you choose to download or share! He’s an awesome guy and I really appreciate what a fantastic job he did at the race not only with taking these wonderful photos, but also offering lots of positive encouragement and smiles along the way! Thanks Michael!