I’ve gotten pretty muddy on many occasions – you might say I’m a bit of a mud connoisseur. I’ve gotten muddy at work (more times than I care to admit)… At play… And while running… Twice… But the third time’s … Continue reading
Happy Tuesday! Hope you had a great Labor Day – if you didn’t get out and enjoy the great outdoors on your long weekend, don’t fret! Head over to Bite Size Wellness and check out my Top 10 Outdoor Essentials … Continue reading
It’s true, I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. But, I can tell you what I want to be like. I want to be like Virginia. Virginia Farneman was the first woman to … Continue reading
This is the fourth installment of Staying Safe. This series tackles common safety issues in being active and enjoying the outdoors safely and responsibly. Have a suggestion or a topic you’d like to learn more about? Send me an e-mail … Continue reading
What does “tough chick” mean to me? A tough chick is someone who doesn’t give up. When things get tough, she gets tougher. She thrives on pushing beyond her current abilities, always growing and expanding her limits. She’s become comfortable … Continue reading
It’s often easy to overlook the little things as we go about our days.
Today’s adventure invites you to pause and notice the littlest things: The way the light comes in the window. The rise and fall of your chest as you breath (or maybe the breath of whoever else is in the room). The patterns made by the trees.
How do the little things add adventure to your day? What have you discovered that you missed before?
Today was Ian’s first day back at work for the new year – he’s a middle school science teacher, just like my Dad. He usually leaves before I’m awake, but he always makes sure to come in, give me a kiss, and wish me a good day before he leaves. In true “case of the Mondays” form, he forgot his lunch today. After my freezing run, I ran it over to him at school – my first time visiting. I walked into the office, told the secretary that I was Mr. W’s wife (which by the way, still sounds really weird to me), and was directed to his room.
As I walked down the hallway, I had the strangest sense of deja vu. Although I myself had never delivered a forgotten lunch to my husband at school, but I know my Mom has done this hundreds of time in the 40 years that my Dad taught. It was a strange sense of things coming full circle.
As a young person who had always dreamed of “getting out” and doing “big” things, what really struck me was that this made me happy. Immensely happy.
I feel honored that my husband is following in my Dad’s footsteps. He was an amazing man, and I consider myself so very lucky to have married a man struck from such a similar mold.
Over the past few years, I’ve struggled with an intense case of wanderlust, to move out of Ohio and live in an entirely new place. I’ve had the chance to do this many times, but I haven’t taken them, because I’ve also felt an intense need to stay here, near my family. I felt pulled in two polarizing directions: follow my dreams of branching out, or stay where I felt needed, surrounded by my loved ones.
The past year has brought so many changes to our family, and I am absolutely, 100% happy with decision to stay. I’ve learned that we have nothing without our loved ones, and that choosing to spend more time with them will never be regretted. I cherish every single minute I spent with my Dad, even the ones that have me fighting back tears as I watched a disease take its toll – these are memories I wouldn’t have if I had moved away.
I used to think that I would only be happy if I lived in some exotic faraway place, doing epic things. Now, it’s the little things that make me happy – like delivering a forgotten lunch to my husband, drenched in sweat and shivering like mad from a 6 mile tempo run in 20* weather, wondering whether his students would wonder who that sweaty, breathless woman was.
Perhaps someday Ian and I will move away from Ohio. We both would like to experience so many different things in so many beautiful places. But for now, our wanderlust will be satisfied by traveling to visit our dearest friends, and coming home to our family.
And I couldn’t be happier.
It’s a brand new year and many of us take this time to start fresh.
Today’s adventure is all about seeing things in a new and different light. Take a photo of something familiar from a new angle: up close; upside down; from above; from underneath.
What do you notice? What’s interesting? Unique?
I was curious to see what the world looked like through the eyes of these two jokers…
Moka (my fur-dogger) & Myles (my fur-son).
Moka usually spends her time in lounging in her bed…
while Myles spends his time at the sliding glass door, dreaming about adventures beyond the glass.
This is not to say that Moka isn’t similarly excited about the things that lie beyond the apartment. As soon as I reach for my running shoes, she’s at my feet, looking up expectantly. Don’t even try to mention the “W” word around her. We started to spell it out, but she caught on to that, too. Poor Myles gets less time in the outdoors, though. Although we do let him out occasionally, he’s not much of an outdoorsman, and probably couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag, so we keep a short leash on him when he does venture outside.
What have you noticed or seen from a different perspective lately?
First, let’s talk numbers. Today, I ran my 1st race of 2012, the Liberty Half Marathon. It was also my 5th half marathon, 13th race overall and the 1st long run of training for Marathon #2.
In it’s 2nd year, the Liberty Half is a small, local race in western Ohio. Last year, the race consisted of about 12 people who said, “Hey! Let’s run a half marathon!” So, they threw a bag of food under a bridge, and set off. Turns out the course was more like 13.6 miles, and there was no medal at the finish, but it sure was a heck of a run, from the stories they tell.
This year, it was a little different. There were a little over 100 runners, the course was shortened appropriately, and instead of a bag of food under a bridge, there were donuts, bagels, bananas, and water in a warehouse about .3 miles from the “finish line,” which was little more than a cone and a guy with a stop watch.
This was the anti-Rock N Roll. If you’re into screaming crowds, a closed course controlled by sheriffs, music and aid stations at every mile, and fancy t-shirts and medals, the Liberty Half is not your race. There were no bib numbers, no chip timing, little fanfare, and minimal “crowd support.”
But, it had a few things that were better. Gumption. Spirit. Passion. Community.
The race began at a Subway in West Liberty, a small town in Western Ohio. From there, we ran up a country road that cuts through a valley carved out by the glacier millions of years ago. As you might imagine with a race this small, the crowd thinned out pretty quickly once the race got underway. I ran the entire 13.1 miles almost entirely alone. As a “lone wolf” sort of runner, I really enjoyed this. It was a unique experience for me to be able to feel the pressure of racing without being surrounded by tons of people. It was truly me and road, battling it out. No crowd support to lean on, no fellow runners to commiserate with… just me and my determination to continue onward despite it all.
The first half of the race was full of gently rolling hills that provided mini-challenges followed by nice easy downhills. I took the first couple miles a bit too fast, so miles 3-6 were a bit slower, but I also went into this race thinking of it as a training run, and fought the urge to push it hard and get a good race time.
The race crew had marked each mile the night before, but unfortunately experienced some vandalism, so the markers for miles 3 – 7 weren’t up anymore. My shiny new Garmin Forerunner 305, a Christmas gift from my in-laws, definitely came in handy during those miles. I cruised along during those miles, enjoying the perfect running weather – mid-40s and dry. I hit the second and last aid station at the end of mile 7, but I had my Honey Stinger Waffle and water bottle, so I cruised on by, turned a corner… and blurted out, “Oh, $h!t!”
It may be a little hard to make out in this cell phone photo, but the behemoth hill I had heard so much made it’s appearance right at mile 8. 6-8% grade for 1.5 miles. Oh, $h!t indeed. This may make it a bit more clear…
Umm, yeah. I braced myself for some hurt, and trudged onward. I made it up about half of the hill you see in that picture before walking. What that photo doesn’t show is that this massive hill levels off for a short distance before climbing upward yet again. I’d estimate that I ran 1/2 to 3/4 of it total, which I am more than pleased with.
Thankfully after climbing for almost 2 miles, the course then levels off for about a mile before plunging downhill for the final 2 miles.
I caught my breath after the hill, just in time for what seemed like freak monsoon-like weather to hit. Like I mentioned, I experienced perfect running conditions for the first 10 miles, but suddenly the wind kicked up to a fairly constant 20 mph with 40+ mph gusts, and a few minutes later, hard rain joined the party. Within 2 minutes, my right side was soaked, thanks to the wind driving the rain sideways.
A few times, the wind gusts were so strong, they blew me right off the side of the road and into the grass. At some point, they changed direction – I remember very clearly a wind gust coming from behind me, and it literally felt like someone was shoving me forward.
I thanked my lucky stars that it was a tailwind and not a headwind, hunkered down, and soared down that 2 mile hill at an average pace of 9:12 min/mile for a finish time of 2:14:47, an average pace of 10:19/mile! Despite the uncomfortable combination of wet and wind, I’m pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear during those last 2 miles. I felt completely alive, stripped bare to the elements, and I loved every miserable, cold, wet second of it.
This is adventure.
After I crossed the “finish line,” my time was written down on a piece of paper with my name and age on it, and handed over to the race volunteers to be tabulated. Ian & I made our way via shuttle to the post-race Par-Tay, and I shivered a lot until the overall winners and age group winners were announced, and they handed out our finishers beer steins. I suspected that I finished in the top of my age group – the winner finished in 2:05 and change, and I didn’t notice too many of my fellow 20-29ers ahead of me. I’ll have to double-check the results when they’re posted, but I think I may have been 2nd or 3rd! I have to say, it was a speedy group overall. The winners of the other age groups, male and female, smoked the 10-19 and 20-29ers!
This was by far my favorite half marathon to date. I really loved the fact that my entry fee (only $15, by the way!) went to supporting a small, local running club that was clearly very passionate about the sport. I also thoroughly enjoyed the challenging course, and I loved the minimalist, grass roots approach to racing. After the race, I thought back to my bigger half marathons, and for me, they don’t hold a candle to this kind of intimate race, where everyone is there for the pure enjoyment of running. I will definitely be seeking out smaller races!
I have to give a HUGE thanks to all the volunteers who made the Liberty Half Marathon possible – what an awesome new tradition, and I can’t think of a more perfect way to ring 2012!