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My week as a ninjagrapher!

Brian and I spent the last five days shooting at Lifest as a part of the ninjagraphers. Ninjagraphers are the photographers and videographers contracted through Life! Promotions to capture their events. I have a ton of photos and stories to share- but I’m going to start at the beginning of my week.
I had to do a headshot self-portrait to use in the publication of Hoopla, which will be coming out in two weeks.

I’m very excited for this new publication, although we’ll have to wait until the second issue to see my work on the cover- this month’s cover story comes from out-of-state.
I started jury duty on Wednesday. I was unhappy that the timing had to coincide with Lifest, because that’s one of my favorite events to shoot all year. I got up early to commute the whopping 1.5 miles to the courthouse…

…then waited patiently in the hallway…

…then turned off my phone. I had to sit through a few hours of jury selection, random number drawings, and lots of questions. I wasn’t selected, though, and I was able to make a break for it (legally!) and get packed for Lifest.

We packed up the cameras, overnight gear, and puppies…

…and headed to Oshkosh.
As a reminder, all photos on this blog are (c) Heidi Oberstadt, and the Lifest photos are (c) Life! Promotions.
Our work at Lifest is always an amazing time. It’s hard to explain the bond between our team- it’s a group of photographers, videographers, and editors who capture, sort, edit, upload, and build videos of the event. We’re a well-oiled volunteering machine.

That’s one of Lem’s (our team leader) portraits of the team. We spend the week logging lots of miles walking around, climbing, laying in the dirt, riding on a golf cart…

…and trying desperately to stay hydrated. We work in a TINY trailer next to the grandstand…

…and try to work as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are two married teams on the ninjagraphers, and the rest of the team has friends and families that graciously let us steal them away and work them to exhaustion during the festival. 🙂

We do have an incredible opportunity to shoot some world-class artists (like Switchfoot and Newsboys), but we have an even more wonderful chance to catch the joy, excitement, and faith of all those in attendance. We also get to meet a lot of awesome people! This year, we met a band from Kentucky called Too Many Drummers. Those guys are classically trained musicians, so we sat and geeked out about things like marimba, accordion, and the joys of teaching music and sharing it with others. We caught their second show, and we caught some great facial expressions, too!



I caught our friends, Bill and Darrell. They were ninjagraphers a few years ago, and we had a blast! I see them once a year, and they always make me smile.

I end up feeling so special at Lifest. Our job can be exhausting and stressful, but it is an amazing opportunity. I work with wonderful people, and after five years on the team, I have gotten to “know the ropes.” I get to wear a fancy lanyard with a fancy all-access pass and fancy backstage access.

It gets me to places like this:

Despite that, I still get really nervous being up on stage. I’m afraid I’m going to get in someone’s way or distract from the show. That’s part of why we’re “ninjas,” we try to be sneaky and not intrude. I’m not very good at that. When I come in a room, people almost always see me. I even wear black in the heat, but I’m not exactly flying under the radar. I’d have to stop smiling and glowing from the inside, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. 🙂
Fort Fawley is my favorite place to hang out during the week.

Andy has an incredible food ministry going on over there- they feed us (delicious home-cooked REAL food!) and make sure we’re hydrated. In fact, they cook the best meals at Lifest!

They don’t even make me pull any meal shifts. 🙂

I can’t divulge their location- it’s top secret. 🙂 I did take Too Many Drummers over there for breakfast on Saturday, though.


They had plenty of watermelon to feed my addiction.

Thanks for everything, Fawley family! You are wonderful.
This is what it looks like from my point of view. I shot this view forwards…

…then turned around and shot this view, behind me!

Tracy and I are the only girls allowed on the stage to shoot. It’s an honor but comes with a lot of responsibility. Responsibility to shoot a self-portrait in an awesome place, anyway!

I always try to sneak around and find new places to shoot from. These are two of my favorite shots of Duncan- the drummer from Newsboys.


Lifest had their second annual 5K race this year.

Brian ran it with me, and we had a great time!

I think he liked it, but I don’t know if he’ll be running marathons anytime soon.

Lem and Nick gave our sweaty ninja bodies a ride back to the campsite to get changed and ready to shoot for the day.

It’s good to know people. 🙂 Sometimes, the ninjas all get together and be nerdy camera-y tech-y people together. Like this…

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the week.



Those are Switchfoot. Just as exciting was the performance of the Black Star drumline from Madison.


Those little drummer kids absolutely stole my heart.

We stayed at my mother-in-law’s home for the week, and we had a full house with us, our pups, and Brian’s aunt and cousins- Jill, Mackenzie, and Allie. Brian’s aunt Jackie came for one of the concerts, too. 🙂





I talked with Tiffany Thompson…

…saw a fancy motorcycle show…


…heard Bob Lenz speak (Lifest is his party, really)…

…shot Family Force 5…

…was amazed at the crowd for Steven Curtis Chapman…

…and enjoyed an outdoor Catholic mass.



Lifest is always an incredible experience. It’s so exciting to be a part of something so big, and we love being able to make people happy. We get to give away private meet-and-greet invitations and prizes, and we get to put their photos up on the jumbotron. After another successful year, we were exhausted.
Our pups had a wonderful time running in the woods at Jean’s house, so they had a great week, too.


We were all ready to go home, though.

We came home to a warm house with a warm forecast for Monday, so we installed our new air conditioner in the office.

It’s now a comfortable 73 degrees in here!
Just when I thought my week couldn’t get any better, I found out that my billboard for Lee Ayers is up. It’s the first time that a photo of mine has been on a billboard!

My mom saw this photo and said, “When I told you the sky was the limit, I didn’t think your photos would be in the sky!” How cute.
This is a new milestone for me. Woo hoo! I’m off to celebrate.

Miles this year: 375.6

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A Wisconsin heat wave

Hey there, friends! I hope that those of you in this heat wave are staying cool and hydrated. I haven’t been turning on the stove much this week- lots of salads in our home! 🙂
It’s the best time of the year for salad ingredients around here. 🙂 Tonight’s salad had fresh yellow beans, chives and basil!
On Tuesday night, I ran a race called the Heart and Sole race, in Pittsville, WI. The proceeds from that race went to support their firemen. I love small town races! 🙂 I told my friend, George, about the race, and we ran the five mile race together (almost). When we got to registration and bib pickup around 6:30, it was a balmy 94 degrees.


They had a trumpeter play the national anthem, which was a nice change from the usual vocalists. Can you see him playing over on the left?

I wore my Mizunos and pink socks.

It was a very Heidi-esque outfit. Running skirt, of course… And loads of sweat. This race was hot. In my mental plan, I was thinking I’d stick to 9:15s for the course. Around mile 2, I passed this guy.

He added new meaning to a small-town, down-home, farming-country race. Yikes.
It’s almost like I didn’t take into account the severity of the heat- I was nailing that pace for the first three miles, but then I got sick to my stomach. A few dry heaves later, it was apparent that I had nothing left in my stomach to puke up, and I heeded some sound advice: “Suck it up, buttercup.” it’s not like I was running to win, there was no prize money for me at the finish, and I wanted to enjoy some of the homemade granola and beer! I rolled in at a casual 51:40. The sweat was running down my legs, it was nasty. I kicked a few little kids out of the sprinkler and stood there with the cold water spraying on me to cool down.

I finished with a smile on my face, and George and I headed home.

Brian and I ran down to the river to do a little night swimming to cool off.
On the fourth, I woke up late and spent the morning with my pups and Brian.

Misty has been on an ice cube diet this week, to help keep herself cool. I love that old dog.
We did a lot of work up in the office, despite it being 95 degrees up there! We’re preparing it for an air conditioner- it should arrive tomorrow. It’s getting hard on me to do all my editing and photo work down in the living room. I can’t separate work and home, when it’s literally a shared space. I’m so happy that we got that work done quickly, so we could head to the beach!

Hello, Sunset Lake! It was packed, but nice and cool.


When we got home, we decided to take Abbie out for a run. I hadn’t taken her out for exercise at all this week due to the heat, and we were all going crazy on day three of no Abbie-cersize. We took our cruiser bikes to Belts, and stopped every mile or so to give Abbie a break and some water. She even got her own ice cream…

…and she got a ride, if we thought she was getting too hot.


Thursday brought a trip out where tractors are a mode of transportation… Lakeview Berry Farm!

They’re featured in an article in the August (inaugural!) issue of Hoopla, coming out soon. Until then, here’s a preview. Let’s go berry picking!




Those blueberries are huge! 🙂
Friday was the start of packing and traveling for our camping weekend! For the most part, clients of ours aren’t getting married on holiday weekends, so we get to spend those weekends doing whatever we want. We headed up to the Minocqua area to camp at Clear Lake. We encountered some hail on the way up.

And a serious rainstorm.

Since it was storming with lightning when we arrived at the campground, we couldn’t unpack the tent or cook dinner. Since I’m such a gourmet chef, I opened the box of wheat thins, pulled out a block of cheese from the cooler, and cracked open a couple wheat beers.

We know how to keep it classy. This weekend was full of swimming, skinny dipping in broad daylight, paddling, missing our pups, fishing, lots of sleeping, reading, trail running, hammock-ing, and cooking over an open fire. We also got to meet up with Jen and Josh (and Jen’s parents) in a feat of amazing scheduling on two vacations (Thanks for meeting up with us, guys! We’re SO excited for your MKE wedding!). Here’s the weekend in photos…




What is that? A pay phone?


George! We found cave ale!




Dark chocolate s’mores!










We’re home safe and sound- and it took me a day to wash all the dishes, do all the laundry, and catch up on some photo work while recovering from the weekend. I hope you’re all doing well!

Miles this year: 372.5

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Cinco de Mayo!

Crazy weekend so far at the Oberstadt home.
On Thursday night, I had a TU board meeting and Brian had a union meeting. I’m super excited to go to fly fishing school in two weeks.


Our board is a bunch of fun guys, and they are teaching me a lot.

After I finished up the meeting, I headed over to Guu’s to meet Ashley and Sarah to drop off one of the Running for Rachael shirts. It turned out to be a night of awesome random encounters! Starting with…

…my friend, Brendan, who was celebrating the end of his long commutes to finish up his doctoral degree. The girls came soon after. Since the loss of our sisters, we cherish each other and make every effort to see our friends whenever we can!

I played a few games of foos with Mikey…

…saw Jim doing yo yo tricks…

…and wrapped up the night with my sweet husband.

Brian had Friday off from work, so we worked in the yard together, and we found the best surprise…

Morels! Yum. Friday was a blur of getting ready for the weekend. We drove up to Wausau to drop off May day flowers for my mom and stop at Sam’s Club. We also shot a piano studio recital on Friday night, but I don’t have photo releases for those adorable kids so I can’t provide any proof.
We woke up early on Saturday to head to La Crosse for a 5K. Brian was driving, I was sleeping. This is me, upon waking. 🙂

My trusty driver.

We had just gotten into La Crosse when my car started sputtering. We looked at the gas gauge, and I had 1/8 tank of gas left, then my car turned off. We coasted into a parking lot, and I got worried. Brian was convinced that my gauge was broken and my car was out of gas…

…and he was right. So my gauge must be broken. 😦 I did learn that gas stations often have loaner gas cans. I hated being that couple walking down the street carrying a gas can. How embarrassing! Luckily, it was an easy fix, and our friend, Karl, was able to pick up our bibs for us. We made it to the race with plenty of time to spare. It was an overcast, humid morning, and the race started and finished along the water.



This is everyone before the race.
Brian was beyond ready!

I was, too!

Jaime walked the race with her brother- and sister-in-law, and their super cute baby, Lucy! Karl started the race with us.

We started too far back in the pack- we had to weave through a lot of walkers. Whoops. We had a little fun with that, then settled in to our pace.

La Crosse’s police department uses Jeeps!

The course was a mix of city streets and paths along the water.

We finished with a official time of 30:28 and 30:29. I cheered Brian on ahead of me. 🙂 I’m still debating the time- my Garmin showed our time being a full minute faster than theirs- I wonder if this race messed up our official start time? Anyway, I cried happy tears of pride for my husband.



Lucy was able to walk across the finish line for the first time, and it was adorable.

We stopped at Panera bread for lunch. 🙂


I love you, Jaime! The ride home was beautiful- I love that area of our state. La Crosse is so hilly, and everything was so green with the rain we’ve had lately.

We got home from the race and started preparing for my photo shoot and our Cinco de Mayo get together. I left our house just as people were arriving, and I headed over to the Theatre @1800 to shoot the concert of my friend, Danny. I love hearing him play, and our friend Ben flew in from Maryland to play, as well.






It was great to see you, Danny. Thanks for having me capture your concert!

It was also SUPER awesome to see Ben.

I rushed home to see all our friends. Brian, Devon and Christy, Amanda, Curtis and Mo, Davin and Kari, and Mary and Joe. It was a fun night of margaritas, Cranium, charades, and friends 🙂








Curtis, Mo, and Amanda spent the night 🙂 We made a delicious pancake breakfast since I’m carb loading for tomorrow’s 20 miler.


I have to go for now- the boys were rained out of their golf scramble today, so we’re having an afternoon of friends, too! 🙂

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New focus.

It isn’t really a surprise, but I’ve temporarily abandoned my training schedule and adopted the “run until I feel better” plan. It takes surprisingly few miles, and I’m able to work through my own feelings during that time. I’m banking on my previous training and my experiences with marathon prep… I’m trusting that a month of doing what feels good for my heart and soul will win out in the end. I’m confident that it’s early enough for me to “do what I want” and still set a PR up in Duluth.

I’ve decided to donate a dime for every mile that I run since we lost Rachael through the end of the year. I would start that count on January 1st, but I wasn’t tracking my miles earlier this year. 😦 I haven’t decided the exact charity, but it will probably be melanoma-related, or maybe I’ll donate it towards a scholarship in her name.

I’ve officially registered for Grandma’s marathon on June 16th. Brian and I got one of the last hotel rooms available in Duluth, and I’m hoping for an incredible weekend. I’m also registered for the Point Bock Run on March 3rd. I love that quick 5-mile hometown race, and everyone loves the beer at the end. 🙂 I’m tentatively planning on running the Madison half marathon on May 27th- some of my Delta Omicron siblings are joining a team for Miles for Melanoma in Rachael’s memory. I would jump right into it, but I will have had my last long run the week before, and Grandma’s is two weeks after. Knowing myself, I wouldn’t miss a chance to run as part of a team with the brothers and sisters that I love dearly. Oh, boy… It will be a busy spring 🙂

Miles this year: 12.5

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