Tag Archives: race recap

I can’t believe this race exists a.k.a. Rocky Mountain Flyathlon recap

I can’t believe this race exists.FullSizeRender (2)I can’t believe this place exists.

I’m talking about the Flyathlon. It’s the brain child of this incredible person, Andrew Todd.IMG_1514I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first heard about it: a race with the motto, “Run. Fish. Beer.”

Sing here: These are a few of my favorite things…

In typical Heidi style, as soon as I heard about the race last year, I wanted to sign up. Unfortunately, it was full, so I signed up for this year’s race.

It’s held just outside of Saguache, CO, which is basically in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. FYI, Saguache is pronounced like suh-watch. No wonder people had a hard time understanding where I said I was going… I said Saguache like it rhymed with Chattahoochie (which also holds some awesome fish, in case you ever get down to Georgia…).

I had a VERY exciting and eventful trip out here, so I’ll start at the beginning…

Thursday morning: 6:00 am. I roll my curly, sleepy self out of bed. It’s difficult.

7:00 am. I’ve showered, dressed, and loaded everything into the car. I head out for MKE, the Milwaukee airport.

10:00 am. I’ve parked, and headed into the terminal.

10:10 am. My luggage is overweight. It must be the twelve beers from Central Waters and O’so. I became that annoying person in front of you at the airport, transferring gear from one bag to another. I also already have a ton of stuff, since this is a long trip. I have six days in Colorado and five days in Nevada. Temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 105. And since I’m a photographer, I always have my camera gear. And my laptop. And I needed to bring all my trail running stuff, fly fishing stuff, and some camping stuff. I was a hot mess. I eventually got everything settled, and headed through security, and to my gate.

10:30 am. I discover that my flight has been delayed. I’m not really mad- I planned plenty of time for the flight, picking up my rental car, and swinging by REI and Whole Foods for a few race necessities before attempting the four hour drive into the mountains. I sit in MKE, catching up on work, and was able to actually sit down and eat a salad. 🙂

2:00 pm. We board the flight. I was about halfway through the boarding order, and as I was struggling to wheel my camera bag, laptop bag, and carrying my rod tube onto the plane, I heard, “Heidi! Sit here!” I looked up to discover my friend, Rich. How fabulous. I snuggled up next to him, told him all about the race, and also explained some serious anxiety I had about a big upcoming project. It’s not finalized yet, so I can’t talk about it, but I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

IMG_1428I knew Rich was coming out to CO, I just didn’t know we were on the same flight! I’m staying with my friend, Meredith, and she had mentioned that they were going to see Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks on Sunday. They invited me, and I was excited to see them and to check out that venue. I’d heard such great things!

This is Meredith. I’ve known her since we were six. Disclaimer: she’s amazing.IMG_1526Anyway, we landed safely in Denver, and my luggage arrived as well.IMG_1429I told Rich that I could give him a ride into town, since I was getting a rental car. I typically rent from Enterprise or Hertz, but there was a big business travelers’ conference in town, and they had a shortage of cars. I ended up having to rent from Budget. We took the shuttle to the Budget rental counter.

5:00 pm. We walk in the big sliding glass doors, and see this:IMG_1430I immediately told Rich that if he wanted to take the train downtown or grab an Uber, that I would totally understand. He did. 🙂 I wheeled all that luggage through the indoor switchbacks, and talked to the woman next to me in line to pass the time. She is a guitar instructor, and was out in CO to teach some masterclasses. Too cool. I’m glad we started talking, since we were there in line for an HOUR. I started to worry when doing the math… adding four plus hours to the current time equaled setting up my tent in the dark.

6:00 pm. When I finally made it to the counter, and the woman there looked up my reservation, she gave me bad news. I had messed up my online reservation, and I was actually supposed to pick up my car at a different Budget location, in Englewood. I asked if it was possible to modify my reservation, and she agreed. Yay! Unfortunately, there was going to be a $400 upcharge. I didn’t have $400, so I just stood there for a minute, stunned. I asked her what to do, because I was hoping she could help me out somehow. She said it was not their fault, so I was on my own. I asked for the address of the Englewood location, and called for an Uber. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me- he couldn’t seem to find me. I had to ask a shuttle bus driver for directions for the driver, and eventually he found me, but it took longer than it should have, and I was trying to lug all that luggage around. I seriously put the LUG in luggage. My driver was a little scary- I just got a weird vibe from him. He was very jumpy and kept putting his left hand down on the side of his seat and making a rapid clicking noise. I didn’t know what was going on down there, and it was just freaking me out. To make matters worse, we were in serious Denver rush hour traffic, so it took us 45 minutes to get to the correct rental place. I was stuck with one heck of an Uber bill. We drove into a very industrial district- there wasn’t anything friendly-looking around. Apparently, I was supposed to pick up my car from a Budget truck rental facility- they must also have a few cars. I unloaded my luggage from the Uber, and turned to walk up to the door… only to realize it was dark inside. I pulled on the door, and it was locked. They closed at 6:00. I turned around as my Uber driver drove away. I looked at my phone and realized it was almost dead, but tried to call Budget customer service, anyway. They closed at 5:00.

::cue emotional breakdown::

I sat on the sidewalk and cried. I didn’t know what to do!

I called my trusty Denver friend, Meredith. She was in California for work, but was so sweet. She said, “Hang on, I’m going to text some people and figure something out for you.”

Amazing. Her friend, Kyle, text me an address to get to, and I called for another Uber. The next driver was amazing. He pulled up in a nice car, and when he got out, I found a kind middle-aged man wearing a tie and sweet frames. He loaded all my luggage. He even opened the door for me! I’m sure I wasn’t what he was expecting- he pulled up to the car rental place and found a tear-streaked, travel weary, curly Wisconsin woman with four pieces of luggage and a rod tube.

He dropped me off at the location Kyle gave me, and I asked for his phone number so I could call him directly the next time I needed a ride. I started wondering how I was going to get back to the rental place, and how I would get everything situated.

To make a long story short, I spent the night in a very nice hotel in Denver, and Kyle made sure I was comfortable. Thanks, friend! I’m so thankful.

This is us- look at Kyle’s cutie patootie face.IMG_1579I unpacked some of my luggage, and discovered that all 12 bottles of Wisconsin beer had survived the trip! We were asked to bring some of our favorite beer to share, so I had to make space among my clothes and gear for the important things.IMG_1436I took a bubble bath, made some tea, and slept pretty well.

Friday morning: 8:00 am. My alarm went off. I called Budget to tell them about my ordeal. I kept thinking that I was really lucky- something awful could have happened to me out there in that industrial district. I couldn’t easily walk anywhere to figure out what to do or charge my phone, especially not with all that luggage. Why did the woman at the airport tell me to go somewhere in the middle of nowhere when they were closed?! As it turns out, Budget didn’t care. I asked them if they could at least let the Englewood location know that I’d be over to pick up my car that morning, instead of the previous day, and the customer service representative’s response was, “Well, technically… your reservation is only valid for 15 hours from the time of pick up. Since you had planned to arrive in Denver at 1:30 yesterday, your reservation has already expired.” I asked to change it, and there was going to be (you guessed it!) a $400 upcharge. I couldn’t believe it. I hung up.

I stared at my phone, like I expected someone to call and explain this situation to me. Instead, I called Hertz at the airport, asked if they had any cars (they did!), and made a new reservation. Then I called my favorite Uber driver and asked if he could pick me up and take me to the airport. He said he could, but couldn’t get there until 2:00. I didn’t push my luck with a different driver- so I hung out at the hotel and got a little more work done.

I did some research on Red Rocks, and discovered that Brandi Carlile was actually playing with OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW!!!!! I lost my mind in that hotel room, jumping up and down and screaming. I love them. That helped me be in better spirits!

I hoped that traffic wouldn’t be too bad, and I’d still get to the mountains in time to meet everyone and get myself settled. My driver arrived, and he offered to take me on my errands in town and then to the airport. The traffic was crazy- I guess Denver’s Friday rush hour is even worse than Thursday. He was so kind- he didn’t want me to pay him. He felt so bad for me during this ordeal! I bought him coffee and lunch. 🙂

4:30 pm. I arrived at Hertz at the airport. Check-in went smoothly, until my credit card was declined. I had a zero dollar balance on it, so I couldn’t imagine what the problem was… until I realized that Budget must have run it every time I tried to change my reservation, so there was some kind of hold on it. I couldn’t let that stop me- so I used my debit card. A bad idea, I know… but it’s okay.

5:00 pm. I picked up my little white Jetta and hit the road.

The drive to Saguache was incredible. Around every bend, there was a new mountain. A new view. I cried a bunch on the way there. I was just so thankful to be finally on my way, and everything was so beautiful. It was storming, so I saw beautiful lightning strikes in the distance, and a few wicked rainbows.IMG_1445My ears popped as I drove up and down the mountains and into the valleys, while my cell phone popped in and out of having service.

I hit a traffic jam… I was literally stuck behind a house. I didn’t even care.

IMG_1441I knew I was racing the sun, and the closer I got to the race, the clearer it became that I would be arriving after dark.flyathlon-1There is serious value in written directions, and having the capability to follow them. I will be the first to admit that I am a GPS addict. Yes, I have a well-worn gazetteer marked with all my favorite fishing spots and little notes, but when I’m traveling, my eyes are glued to my phone’s map. Once I got within a couple hours of the race, I had no service, so no GPS. There was also no address attached to the lodge where race headquarters are located. I was driving in the dark, counting the miles on my odometer, and praying that I didn’t get lost. I didn’t. I pulled up in the pitch black, followed a gravel road, and wondered what the view would be like in the morning. Everyone had already set up their tents, and some people were sleeping in preparation for the next morning: the race.

It’s so hard to meet people in the dark. I parked, and was welcomed by a few really kind people, including my new BFF, Brian from Iowa.IMG_1492I’ll be referring to him from here on out as Iowa. We’d met virtually a couple months ago, because he’s planning a Flyathlon in the driftless region. I’m stoked. Registration is currently open, so if you’re interested in running a Flyathlon of your own this fall, check it out! I’m planning on being there. 🙂

I set up my tent (Andrew, the amazing race director, brought one for me) and unpacked the few things I’d need. I checked in for the race, got my bib and a bag with a ton of swag, and chugged some water. I was so thirsty. It was really cold, so I didn’t stay up late. I curled up in my tent and finally ate my dinner, in my tent, around 10 pm. I was exhausted after the stressful couple of days, but I didn’t sleep well. It’s my own fault- I was so cold. It got down to 40 that night, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

Saturday, race day. 6:30 am. My alarm went off. I had created a little mummy bag out of my blankets, sleeping bag liner, and clothes, and slowly emerged like a butterfly out of a very cozy cocoon. I took my thyroid meds, and cursed the fact that I didn’t have a plan for securing a hot cup of coffee. Need a visual? Here’s home sweet home.flyathlon-2It was the perfect place to camp. I saw this sign, and made sure the tent was zipped tightly.IMG_1496…And this is literally the view from my tent. Mountains were the perfect view for my morning yoga.flyathlon-3I had to sit in my car with the heat on to warm up, and I wasn’t really ready for the race. I was mentally making a checklist of required items to take with me- my gear was all rearranged for the flights, so it wasn’t all in one place. Normally, I have a detailed list of the things I need, and I lay everything out ahead of time. The crazy night prior to the race eliminated my routine. I forced myself to get out of the car and get ready, and I was in a hurry. I packed as much in my Osprey pack as I could, and grabbed the rest, including sandals for after the race (brilliant!). Noosa was one of the race sponsors, so I had some kick-ass yogurt for breakfast, with some granola that I’d scooped up at Whole Foods in Denver.IMG_1448The volunteers left early to drive to the trailhead and hike up to their posts, so I didn’t know anyone around the headquarters. I made my way around, introducing myself to people, and eventually found some nice people who let me ride with them.

Look at these friendly faces.IMG_1480I was the fifth wheel in a very sweet truck of flyathletes.IMG_1449We rode through farmland on gravel roads and over cattle guards, until we finally found ourselves with everyone else.

We took pictures of the race map with our phones in case we got lost out there.IMG_1450I rearranged my gear and realized that I’d forgotten my forceps and nippers in my luggage. 😦 Luckily, Iowa’d driven himself there, and he was more than willing to loan me his gear. Crisis averted. I checked in, and they gave me my measuring bib, which they won’t give us ahead of time to prevent cheating or pre-fishing.IMG_15679:00 am. I looked around at all the mountains surrounding me, and checked out the badasses who were lining up at the start.IMG_1452IMG_1453The trail head was adorned with this kickass sign, our logo made of beer caps.IMG_1475Andrew gave a few directions and reminders, then started the race by shooting a Busch Light with a BB gun.IMG_1456When the cheap beer started spraying, we took off.

The race had two courses- a short course of seven miles, and the long course of twelve miles. I’d been training for the long course. The short course runners went to the left, and the long course runners headed right, and straight up a hill. I stood at the bottom, looking up that hill, and had second thoughts. I ran anyway. By the time I could see the first switchback, I was already panting like a dog on a hot day, and started to worry. I stopped. Should I stop? Keep going? Could I keep going? Will something bad happen to me if I just charge ahead at this altitude? I turned around, and headed back to the start. Andrew was there, and I ran up and asked if I could switch to the short course. He said, “Of course.”

So… I took off on the short course, in very last place.  I spent the first couple miles of beautiful trail paralleled by stream, and beat myself up about changing courses.IMG_1566I knew at that moment that it was the right decision, but I was upset about it. Luckily, Andrew’s dad (a doctor!) was there to check on the flyathletes, and I stopped to chat with the volunteers. We had to cross the river, but there were a few felled logs. I pretended to be Baby in Dirty Dancing, and danced my way across.

I passed a couple people who had stopped to try and catch their fish, and I tried to focus on the trail. The brush scraped up my legs as I ran by, and the sweat stung a little bit. I tripped a couple times, but didn’t fall.IMG_14589:40 am. I came around a corner and found a spot that looked super fishy to me, so I veered off the trail and made my way over to the stream.

9:44 am. I strung up my rod, and opened my fly box.  I was planning on using a hopper-dropper combo, and after I tied on the big bug, I saw ONE rainbow warrior left from the last time I came out to Colorado. I’d seen my friend, Jon, in the airport, and he gave me a couple of his killer flies to use. I delicately tied it on, and hoped it would bring me luck. The stream was narrow, maybe four feet wide, and rather shallow, with some rocks creating riffles and some little plunge pools. My first cast went straight into a tree on the other side of the stream. Luckily, I just popped the flies right out, and…

9:50 am. …my second cast hooked me right into a beautiful little brookie.

Secretly, I was hoping I’d catch a brookie. I feel, about brook trout, the way that Western people feel about cutthroat trout. I get it.

I snapped my mandatory photo of my fish to prove I’d caught one.flyathlon-100Oh, wait- that’s my back-up photo, in case I couldn’t hook into one. 😉 Here’s my real fishie.IMG_1459I wanted to keep fishing, but also knew I’d have a rough time with the “unpleasant switchbacks” nearing the turnaround. I reluctantly packed up my gear, but my spirit was buoyed, so I skipped right along, breathing heavily the whole way.

A mile later, I ran into a snake on the path. I didn’t panic. I didn’t scream. I patiently waited for her to cross the trail, and then I ran really fast past her. I passed a few more people. I was almost to the switchbacks when I started to come across people on their way back. Those guys and gals looked awesome: happy and hardworking. I asked them how much further it was until the turnaround, and they said, “Look for the yellow tent.”IMG_1565Can you see the little yellow tent up there? I couldn’t get there fast enough. I ran past this guy, fishing his little heart out.IMG_1462I tried to run up the switchbacks, but they were so steep that my run was basically a power hike. I loved it the whole way. Challenges, baby.

And just like that, I was at the top.IMG_1464The view is gorgeous. The air was thin, so breathing was tough, but I was so happy. I almost didn’t want to go back down!

Kelly was running up right behind me, so we stayed up at the top and chatted for a bit.IMG_1465Luckily for me, these three were up there. What a welcoming committee! Look closely at the lower left corner of the photo- they’d brought provisions!IMG_1564Stranahans for me, and a little Redemption rye for Kelly. One good pull, and I headed back down the mountain.IMG_1524It was amazing. I tried really hard not to fall, because going downhill is much faster…

In fact, I had the most amazing trip ever. I tripped on a rock, and I fell for about fifteen feet. It wasn’t graceful. Eventually, I caught myself- I didn’t actually end up hitting the ground! I felt like I was moving in slow motion. I thought I should take a picture to show you guys what the rocky sections looked like.IMG_1472I didn’t have anyone take a picture of me on the way back, but the panic button on my car keys really captured my posture as I was running/falling on the way back down the mountain. FullSizeRender (1)I took one last selfie on the course, then crossed back over the river, and brought it in.IMG_1470
Here’s the finish line! IMG_1479The final point total placed me 15th out of 34, and I’m VERY proud of that.

I’m also proud that we raised over $20,000 to help organizations that take care of native fish.

Next year, I’m definitely going to do better, on both fronts!

IMG_1473One of my favorite parts about trail running is the line of dirt from where my socks end, and I knew I’d gotten lots of dirt in between my toes, so I was very excited to take off my shoes…IMG_1474…and grab a beer.IMG_1477We stuck around until the race was over, cheering each other in and drinking beer. So much good beer. As I shoveled chips and salsa into my mouth, I was so thankful for all these new friends. And the salt.

The drive back (to headquarters from the race) was just as beautiful as the way out.IMG_1487IMG_1486IMG_14851:15 pm. Once we got back, everyone started celebrating! I celebrated in my own way- I took a power nap, and woke up ready to have some fun!

This is where we were all hanging out. I loved seeing it during the daylight, since I’d arrived at night.flyathlon-6We had a kick ass BBQ dinner with mega salads from Mad Greens (another race sponsor), and I was so hungry! I spent hours talking to and meeting people from all over the country. We came from very different places but shared so many common interests.

These guys had the car next to me- they’re a father son duo. The father lives up here in the mountains, and the son works for a big marijuana facility. Their general existence was a reminder that I’m “not in Kansas anymore.” They were generous with coffee, beer, and bloody marys. I sure picked the right guys to park next to!IMG_1494IMG_1491IMG_1489A little Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. #midwestisbest

pc: Ben, the fish whispererFullSizeRender (3)We hung out into the wee hours of the night, laughing and sampling good beer from across the country. I was definitely ready to fall into bed that night. Tired muscles, full heart. I slept like a rock.

8:00 am. The next morning, I woke up cozy and feeling a little like a raisin. I stayed to help clean up, and got to know the Colorado people a little better.

I should have titled this post: A Little Jetta in the Big Mountains.IMG_1497What a view. I sat on the back of my car and drank my coffee, looking out at this.IMG_1495I didn’t take nearly as many pictures (with my camera) as usual, but I snagged a few of some of the coolest little things I saw, like this.flyathlon-10Now these people- these are some amazing people. The clean-up crew, the kick ass volunteers. The organizers. The planners. The cheering squad. The beer pouring, late-night steak grilling, welcoming team of the century. I love these people.flyathlon-9Best logo ever, on a very full trailer.flyathlon-8I had been waffling on buying a rod vault for the new Subaru, but my need has since been cemented in my mind after seeing Andrew’s. And one on every other truck at the race.flyathlon-7Many hands made clean up swift work, and we were packed and heading out in no time.

I loved the cloud of dust following us as we left that guard station behind.IMG_1499I had no service for the weekend, and part of the drive, but I filled my time with some of my favorite tunes.IMG_1500When I came back into service, my phone exploded, as expected. I couldn’t wait to text Brian all sorts of pictures and updates from the race! He hadn’t heard from me since I’d lost reception on the way up the mountain Friday night.The rough part was receiving the many messages and emails from Chase, asking me to confirm possible fraudulent activity on one of my bank accounts. Someone was using my card number all over the place, and spent over a thousand dollars. Luckily for me, Chase is awesome, and they refunded all my money… but they temporarily froze the account and deactivated my card. I hate traveling without easily accessible money. This trip has just been full of challenges adventure!

First stop? Elevation Brewing, to return the kegs and thank them profusely for being a race sponsor.IMG_1506And buying beer to give Meredith. 🙂

IMG_1505And getting a little life advice.IMG_1504We went for brunch in Salida, at an awesome brunch place- Rivers Edge.IMG_1508Yeah, baby, lobster omelette. As we walked there, we passed some awesome bike racks. I love traveling and getting ideas to bring home to my own municipality! I think all local elected officials should visit other places and gather experiences.IMG_1515The restaurant is right along the Arkansas River, so Andrew jumped in. 🙂IMG_1509Before I knew it, I was hugging my new friends goodbye, and hitting the road. I’m so thankful that I found my tribe- there are a whole bunch of people who care about wild and native trout as much as I do, who have a passion for conservation, and a love for fly fishing. They love to play hard, trail run, and they appreciate good beer. I found my people.

This race was perfect- it was well-organized and well-staffed. Everyone was so accommodating, and I can’t wait to come back and run it again next year.

Mega thanks to Andrew for putting this thing together, and props to Iowa for spreading it our way to the Driftless.

 

I followed Iowa all the way back into Denver, and went straight to Meredith’s condo. A quick shower, a quicker dinner, and a gaggle of us piled into a car to head to the concert.IMG_15597:00 pm. I was so excited, I couldn’t handle myself. I skipped up the path to the amphitheater. Literally.

I don’t even really have words to describe the experience at Red Rocks. I cried. I laughed a lot. Brandi rocked so hard. OCMS had so much energy. We sat in the 16th row and had incredible seats. I turned around, and saw Iowa, sitting in the row right behind us, just a few seats over. We drank some more Colorado beer. I danced my ass off, and sang my heart out, and swayed arm in arm with strangers and friends alike.

Here are some photos. I can’t properly explain what an amazing night this was.IMG_1539

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IMG_1555IMG_1553IMG_1552IMG_1551IMG_1550And last, but not least, here’s Meredith and I. Every time I come to visit Colorado, it’s hard to leave. Thank you for your hospitality, girl! I love you.IMG_1542The mountains are amazing. I’m going to leave you with a few lyrics from my favorite OCMS song, as they’re just resonating with me right now.flyathlon-4

Ain’t it enough to live by the ways of the world,

To be part of the picture, whatever it’s worth?

Throw your arms around each other and love one another,

For it’s only one life that we’ve got.

And ain’t it enough?

As always, thanks for reading, friends. I’ll have more about the rest of this trip later! I had too many adventures to cram in one post.

 

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My Favorite Holiday Weekend

I love kicking off my favorite holiday weekend with the Heart and Sole Race, in Pittsville, WI. It’s always on July 3rd, so sometimes it’s crazy hot! It’s an evening race, which sometimes helps, but it’s a fabulous five mile race that raises money for their little local fire department. What a great cause!

There are a couple things that I can count on in this race, and this Blues Brothers guy is one of them!

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This course is an out-and-back with four water stations, and they’re all needed since it’s usually so warm. I stop every time! I run this race with my friend, George, and we chat almost the whole time. We both see runners that we know from other races, so it’s nice to wave at our friends when we run by! That’s one of my favorite parts about out-and-back courses… I get a chance to see everyone who hit the turnaround before I did on their way back, and then I get to cheer on everyone behind me once I turn around! 🙂

The finish line for this race is just adorable. So festive!

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I obviously took that photo before the race- when we came through the chute, there were lots of other people with us! I really love small town races. 🙂

I enjoyed some incredible watermelon post race…

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…and granola. Oh, gosh, the granola.

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It’s homemade, and I have dreams about it the rest of the year. It’s sooo delicious, and I love munching on that once I finish the race! 🙂

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Many thanks to this lady, who obviously is responsible for cooking pans and pans and pans of the good stuff!

George and I came in at a strong 47:24, and refueled with cold beer. 🙂

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I came home, soaked in a tub, and hung out with Brian on our newly finished back deck. We live close enough to Riverfront Rendezvous that we could hear Here Come The Mummies as they played, and I relaxed with a glass of lemonade and enjoyed them from the comfort of my own home. 🙂

On Saturday morning, we prepped for a cookout later, and I got ready for our Stevens Point Fourth of July parade. I love parades, and the Fourth of July, and everything patriotic. This is my favorite day!

The common council and the mayor all got together and walked in the parade. It was a lot of fun!

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This is me with “the Marys…” Alderperson Mary Kneebone and Alderperson Mary McComb. 🙂

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Our other friend Mary was driving the truck with the City Band float. Way to go, girl!

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After the parade, I dropped off cookies for our police department and fire department (THANK YOU for working holidays and keeping us safe!), then met Chris and Amy at our house for some lake time!

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We had some perfect weather- hot and sunny with a cold, clear lake to jump in. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to our house for our annual cookout. Of course, I completely forgot to take photos of our friends and all the delicious food, but we had a gaggle over for burgers, brats, sweet corn, and all sorts of traditional grilling foods!

For dessert, we featured my tenth annual flag cake!

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I can’t believe I’ve been making this cake for ten years! I used to choose white cake, but now I make angel food cake with fresh whipped cream for frosting. Delicious!

Once it got a little darker, we played with some sparklers. My friends are the cutest!

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We finished our night with s’mores by the fire, and Amy and Chris stayed for a sleepover!

We woke them up with coffee, egg sandwiches, and quite impressive Bloody Marys.

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Breakfast on the front porch with friends is really the best way to start my day, especially since our post-brunching activity was a walk to the new winery. Brian and I were lucky enough to attend their soft opening the week prior, so we were excited to show off this new facility!

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We strolled through the parks on the way home, stopping to look at the emergency vehicle display.

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Abbie was thrilled with all our visitors and all the time playing outside, but she was really happy to cool off inside for the afternoon. 🙂

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Stevens Point hosts fireworks on Sunday, so Brian and I headed over to the park with our kayaks and watched both our friends in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades play at the park AND the fireworks from our little place on the water.

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Don’t worry, friends: we are experienced kayakers and had both bow and stern lights, as well as headlamps. I get concerned about the other kayakers out on the water- there is a lot of boat traffic out for the fireworks and I’ve seen less experienced kayakers struggle in the wake. Lights are very important, too!

We packed up the boats, drove the three blocks home, and collapsed in bed.

Fourth of July weekend? Complete, and a total success. 🙂

As always, thanks for reading!!

Miles this year: 308.55

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Life has sure been busy.

I’m starting to learn that being busy is just a state that we all know as adulthood.  I keep thinking things will slow down, but they don’t! 🙂 I did take a very brief break after the race, but it didn’t last!

While I’ve been out on adventures, here is what you missed:

-An Earth Day presentation. Matt, my TU chapter president, and I, made a PowerPoint to share what TU does in our community. The Jensen Center was packed with friends of water in our area. 🙂   

   -I ran up to Wausau and did a few headshots and event photos from an oral health presentation sponsored by Fehrman Orthodontics.  

   -I cooked a killer batch of fajitas. They were pretty, too…  -I religiously went to yoga at Community Soul.   

 -And last, but not least, Brian and I celebrated my one-week-post-marathon anniversary by running a little five mile race in New London. It’s called the Sturgeon Shuffle, and the course runs along the Wolf River while the sturgeon are typically spawning.  It was a great race, though my legs were feeling pretty tired near the end. Marathon recovery is no joke! I do love running along the water, and this course is an out-and-back, with a two mile option. It starts and ends at the school, runs through a little park, then the rest of the course follows the river. I loved that part of it. Brian was a trooper and stuck with me through the whole thing, even though I felt like I was running excruciatingly slow. Post-marathon muscle fatigue is such a weird and very real thing. It was a relatively small race, with chilly and windy weather, and it was well organized. They had bananas and delicious cookies at the finish, so I was obviously pretty excited for that! We finished and warmed up inside the school until it was time for awards.

Brian placed 2nd in his age group. I got 3rd in mine, and we both came home with these fabulous mugs as awards.   

 I’ve been traveling all over the place, shooting places, people, and projects… and I can’t wait to sit still long enough to share them all with you! 

I’ll be back soon. 🙂

Miles this year: 266

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Oshkosh Marathon 2015 Race Recap

My ninth marathon. Oh boy!

Brian and I went to Oshkosh on Saturday night to pick up my bib, and we spent the night with my mother-in-love, Jean, in New London. We were lucky enough to get to hang out with my sweet nephews, and we brought pizza, so they seemed extra happy to see us 🙂

I had my fly box in the car, so I got to show the boys a little piece of my passion… apparently, the boys like bugs! They thought it was awesome. I relaxed and painted my toenails, a pre-marathon ritual, and caught up with Jean.

We went to bed pretty early, and amazingly, I slept soundly through the night. My 5:00 alarm went off awfully early, and I peeled myself out of bed, took my thyroid meds, and started getting ready. I got dressed, braided my hair, and made oatmeal. Brian brewed coffee and helped me get everything together, and we headed out to Oshkosh. We met Lydia and Matthew at a coffee shop near the start line, and we huddled in the warmth of the store before we made our way to the start.  The race starts at the same place that we have our annual Wisconsin TU banquet every year, so I’m very familiar with the area.  Our men came and acted as pro spectators for us- I think Brian shared some of his secrets with Matthew. 🙂 Lydia and I made our way to the crowd and settled into our pace group.

The view in front of us:  …and behind us… …and us!   They sang the national anthem, the gun went off, and we started shuffling along. We talked and talked for the first few miles. Before I knew it, we saw the boys!

Shortly after this point, the half marathon course split from the marathon course, so I had to say goodbye to Lydia. Our first few miles had gone by so quickly that I wasn’t ready to say good bye! It snuck up on me. Luckily, I had a huge bridge to climb to distract me, and then I was looking down on Hwy 41.  Miles 3.5 to 17 were out-and-back on the Wiouwash trail. It was beautiful! Sometimes we were sheltered, but it was mostly open. 
  

 I was happy to make it out to the turnaround and head back.  Unfortunately for me, it was super windy, and the “back” part of the course was hard-fought with a headwind. I still managed a smile for my halfway selfie. 😉  In the meantime, Brian and Matthew went out to meet Lydia. I’m not sure how far this was on the half marathon course, but Lydia looks awesome!  

   I think almost every race I’ve run has had someone who runs the whole race with a full-size American flag. I loved cheering on this guy when I passed him!

We ran past a lot of water on the course. I was thinking about fishing and Trout Unlimited and high capacity well pumping and invasive species and all sorts of other water stuff for a good chunk of the race. Surprisingly, I didn’t think there was enough water stations on the course, but that may be just because I am a sweaty, thirsty runner.

We ran though a little bit of campus, and along this little trail along the water, too. For a majority of this race, I ran with a guy named Mike. When I say ran “with,” I really mean that in a totally unusual way. I drafted off him from miles 4-6. Then for miles 6-17, we’d run together for a mile or so until we hit a water station. He didn’t stop for water, but I always stop and walk through, so I can drink my water or Gatorade. It would take me about a quarter mile to catch up to him, then we’d run together until the next water station. It was kind of fun. Eventually, around mile 17 or so, I couldn’t catch up to him. Luckily for me, he reappeared around mile 22, and we gave each other pep talks along the way. For example, I confessed to him that I was running without my glasses, so I couldn’t see that well. About a mile later, I said, “I’m going to walk for a bit at the next block.” He replied, “Oh, come on- you can make it to the next turn.” Of course, about a quarter mile later, I realized there was no turn!

That’s the kind of marathon buddy I needed. It was perfect! Eventually, I out ran him, and made it into the final mile by myself. I was starting to feel my muscles on the verge of cramping, both hamstrings and calves. I started giving myself an audible talking to… “Come on, girl. You can do it!”

It helped to have my sole sisters cheering me on virtually. I love these women! I had been texting them mile updates and photos, and they helped me through the rough times. 

The end of the course is up and over a bridge, with a kind of sharp angle at the bottom. It took all of my remaining bodily control to make the corner and not take out the spectators standing at the end there. 🙂 The final .1 is along the river, and it would have been fabulous, if anyone was paying attention to the race. Kids were playing, and anglers were fishing, and there was no one there to give me a little push for the last stretch. I was feeling pretty miserable, and making a sound kind of like Darth Vader, if he knew how to whimper. 🙂

Luckily, I hung in there for the last minute, and found myself running through the chute!

  

My official time was 4:40:54. So close to a PR! Darn wind. 🙂

Lydia convinced me to stretch, even though I didn’t want to! Plow hurt so good.  As we relaxed on the grassy knoll, I drank the chocolate shake that Brian brought for me (thanks, baby!), and then they called my name to the podium… 2nd place Athena!   
 I caught up with Mike for a quick photo, then we headed out. 

Of course, the only thing to do after a race is have pizza and beer. Of course. Glass Nickel, FTW! 

I stretched and danced and ate and drank until I was full and happy, then I napped in the car on the way home. Brian went straight to Belts for an ice cream dinner, per my request, and I crashed hard and early at 7:30 pm!
It was a great race.

Some people don’t believe in weight-based classes like Athena, and I don’t always race as an Athena, but I do feel like there’s something special in taking ownership of my size and reaching for goals anyway. Until I competed Athena, I never felt that powerful feeling of competing against someone else- I was always competing with myself. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, I usually prefer it… but it was kind of fun to race hard (for me!) against other runners and know that I had a chance to win something.

Despite the wind, the weather was beautiful, and I was so happy to have company of friends for the course. Thanks for the support, Lydia, Carmel, and Stranger Mike!

I’m already looking for my next race… I wonder where I’ll go! I have my heart set on Missula for next year, but I might pick something for the fall. 🙂

Thanks for reading, friends! 🙂

Miles this year: 259

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Festival College + Bull Falls race

Good morning, friends!

For the past several years, I’ve been invited to Festival College, which is a leadership conference for the managers of Festival Foods. Festival is a grocery company, and I just love working for them. They welcome me with open arms and I coax smiles out of their attendees. They had 375 people this year, so their event coordinators run everything like a well-oiled machine. 🙂 It takes place at the Kalahari resort in the Wisconsin Dells, so when I’m not working, I get to relax at the indoor waterpark and run in their hotel gym. 🙂

I took photos of the cocktail and social hour…

  

 …entertainment (the Badger band and Brat Pack Radio!)…   

     …award winners…

…senior staff and guest presenters…

 

  

  

  

  

 …and I captured the atmosphere of the event. 

  

  

 After a few days inside, I was happy to log a few miles outside. I consider myself so lucky to live in a town with the Green Circle, and it runs right through my neighborhood. If I head out from my house, within a mile and a half, I find myself in the sculpture park. So cool!  

I was happy to be home, and Brian and I bundled up on Saturday to head over to Bull Falls Brewery for their annual Bock run. It raises money for the Honor Flight program, which is incredible in its own right and is a tear jerking cause. 😀 

Backtracking a little bit- I guess I forgot to mention during my sixteen miler that I took a mega digger. We were a half mile in to the run, and I tripped over a heave in the sidewalk. I tore up both of my knees, though my right one was worse, then I had to run the remaining 15.5 miles with skinned knees. Anyway, since I had that knee wound, I couldn’t wear pants to the Bull Falls race, so I had shorts on, even though it was in the 20s. Brr!

I ran into a few friends while we were waiting. Hi, Nicki and Kim!

 They had two races- a normal 5K, and a hilly course they called the Bock Buster. Of course, I couldn’t just run the regular race, so we lined up near the front of the pack with the rest of the Bock Buster runners.

 The race itself was, indeed, a buster. Holy hills! The upside was that it was mostly uphill the whole way out, so it was downhill on the way back. I have a relatively new Garmin, so it notifies me when I set records, and I set a record for fastest mile on the way back in during this race. There were also adorable notes to cheer us on!   

 Brian and I came in somewhere around 29:30. I hopped right on the massage table, then hugged it out with my best friend, Nikki, who ran the 5K! 🙂    

 I’m pretty experienced with races, so I’ve learned to bring dry clothes along to change into afterwards. I hate that sweaty chill! I even brought a blanket this time, and the beer helped warm me up. I had something brand new this year- carmelized beer! They took a hot metal rod and stuck it in my beer to melt the sugars, I guess. I’d never even heard of this! It was delicious.  After we mingled and visited with everyone, even this bearded monster that loves Nikki ;)…  …we headed over to Amy and Chris’ house. We took a quick shower and headed out for a wine tasting and dinner. The wine tasting was at Lil’ Ole Winemaker, and we had a great time!

After the tasting, we went straight to Thrive for dinner. 

 We talked about wedding stuff, and laughed, and had a grand old time. Thanks for the fabulous day, friends!

 

As always, thanks for reading! 🙂 

Up next? An impromptu concert, my 18 miler, and meetings in Minneapolis.

Miles this year: 182.35

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Singing + playing in the snow

I was offered the opportunity to sing with the Central Wisconsin Master Chorale.

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We sang Bach’s Magnificat and a few other beautiful Christmas pieces in a three-concert series.

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I had a busy concert weekend, including a shoot with these cuties.

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Katrina and Jed brought their new puppy, Stitch, out to play with us in the snow for their Christmas photo session.

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Brian makes the best model for me to test my settings on. ❤

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This was also the weekend of the Frostbite- a 5- and 10- mile race here in town. Winter weather is always unpredictable here in Wisconsin, but this year was beautiful. Brian ran with me, so we did the five mile race, and we had a great time!

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It’s a partial out-and-back course that basically loops around our neighborhood. I’ve run parts of the course hundreds of times. We finished this year in 45:41, then came home for lunch and hot coffee. 🙂
Sunday morning, I had brunch at the Wooden Chair with my cousins…

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Love these girls.
Right after brunch, I sang in our last chorale concert, then skipped over to shoot the CWSO concert- specifically, the blue guitar.

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Luthier John Currier, of Currier Guitars, designed and built this beauty. The DC jazz sextet Chaise Lounge came to Wisconsin to debut a commissioned Christmas concert. It was a treat for my ears and my lens. Wonderful work, John, and thanks for the tunes, Chaise Lounge!

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I left at intermission and sped home to finish packing- my flight to the Pacific Northwest left at 5 am Monday. That adventure is next- a storm, a couple monster steelhead, and a couple reunions. 🙂

Miles this year: 35

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Noodleini race recap

When I woke up on Sunday morning, I felt okay. It was my fourth day of antibiotics for my ear infection, and the pain was gone, so I decided to run.
The Noodleini is one of my favorite races. It’s always the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and it’s a good reminder to not eat the whole pie.
Brian was my spectator today, and we headed out to De Pere right from his mom’s house, with a quick stop in Appleton for oatmeal and coffee. 🙂
We made it just in time, found a place to park, and walked in to the warm high school.

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This race is notorious for having terribly cold, icy weather. The roads were a little slippery, but the temperature was hovering right around 30, so it felt like a heat wave. We all usually stay inside the school until right before the race starts, then we walk out together and start. Since it was warmer this year, people were slowly making their way outside. Brian and I walked out to the group near the start line, and I got my music ready. Classic Christmas music, in case you’re asking. Not exactly “pump me up” music, but very festive! I double checked my shoelaces. I heard a gun go off, so we all compressed toward the line, but I noticed that no one was running. I (mistakenly) assumed that they shot the gun to get everyone to come up to the start. I looked around, and thought, “Hmmm, I think I’m faster than these people, so I should move up closer to the front.” So I did. Then I noticed there were an awful lot of kids around, for a 15k. I know the race is a combined 15k and 5k, so I hoped they were running the 5k. I asked the stranger next to me if the races were combined, and she said, to my dismay, “Oh, no- the 15k runners left a few minutes ago.” Minutes? Oh, boy. I thanked her and took off running.
In last place.
Very last place.
There were a few turns in the first mile, so I literally couldn’t see a soul running ahead of me. That was a terrible feeling, and something out of my nightmares before my first race.
I thought, maybe I should just turn around and go home…
I do have an ear infection…
No one would blame me…
I’m not trying for a PR anyway…
I’ll have to race back to celebrate Thanksgiving lunch with my inlaws, maybe I should just go.

Of course, being the runner that I am (and yet to find a DNF next to my name), I pressed on.
I passed a few volunteers at crossroads who cheered me on. I shouted, “I’m late!” They replied, “You’ll get ’em!” I ran a little faster.

I passed the second to last person. And the third to last person. And then a dozen people. And a dozen more.
I stopped to take a picture that proves just how much Wisconsin loves the Packers.

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I sent Brian a selfie halfway, to which he told me to slow down and take it easy.

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He even cheered me on with a “That’s what she said” that made me LOL on the course.

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I talked to everyone on the course, and thanked them for volunteering, and was thankful for a body that allows me to run.

I came around the corner at the finish smiling, as usual. 🙂 Brian was there, waiting and cheering.

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I felt like a million bucks. It was the only race I’ve ever run where I wasn’t passed by a soul on the course, not even at the end.
We walked into the warm building, grabbed my chicken soup, and I started sneezing and coughing immediately.
A while ago, I posted about running races in weight-based classes. This is the only race that I run in Athena category, and I don’t really know why I chose this race to be the one. The only trophy that I have on my running shelf came from my second place Athena finish at this race a couple years ago.
Those of you who run with me know that I usually don’t wear my glasses. I walked over to the result tables, wondering where I’d placed. I definitely didn’t run a PR at this race, but I wondered what my official time was and where I’d placed. Of course, with no glasses, I couldn’t read the tiny writing. I asked Brian to come look, because I was in a hurry to head out so I’d have time to shower before lunch with everyone. He looked, and smiled at me, and told me we’d better stick around for the awards.

Seriously? No. Way. He must be kidding.

Turns out…

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No kidding here. First place Athena. Amazing. The field was smaller than my age group- there were thirteen of us competing in this class, but I still took that trophy and smiled until my face hurt. I still can’t believe it. I never thought I’d win anything in a race.
I wish those haters could see me now.
All the kids who made fat jokes when I was at Riverside Elementary.
And the ones who laughed at me when I danced.
And my old self, the one who let herself get defeated when people teased her. If only I would have known that I’d turn things around. ❤

Then I went home, took a really fast shower, ate lunch with my inlaws, then ran back home for choir dress rehearsal.

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Best day ever. The end. ❤

Miles this year: 4.5

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