Magic City Half Marathon: An Even Greater Almost

Hello, friends!  Nice to chat with you again!  It’s been a little while, hasn’t it?  The week before Thanksgiving was full of school insanity, and then, of course, I had a big holiday week last week.  Fellow teachers:  why is the week before a break so much crazier than others?  It always seems like there are three times as many things going on, and let’s just say the kiddos definitely react to a looming holiday and amp up the nuttiness.  Of course, the three weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas break takes it to a whole new level, and the mere thought of it was enough to give me a serious case of the Sunday blues yesterday.


Seriously, we deserve hazard pay.

In other news, I raced over the holiday break!  Dad and I traveled to Birmingham for #11 in our 12 in 12 in 12 series, and, spoiler alert, I had a repeat of the Great Almost from last month.

But let us begin at the beginning.  Saturday morning before last, I woke up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT (well, it was like 4:45, but that might as well be the middle of the night for the first day of Thanksgiving break) to start my ten hour journey to Birmingham.  Dad and I weren’t meeting up until Monroe, LA so I had about a five hour drive by myself.

Thanks to the fortuitous timing of The Trail Show‘s new episode, I was kept entertained during that drive, and those five hours zipped by pretty quickly.  I met up with Dad, we combined our stuff into one car, and headed east.

We made it to Birmingham around 4:30, and were able to hit up packet pick up right before it closed up shop for the day.  After taking our obligatory t-shirt picture, we grabbed some dinner, and went to the hotel to crash.  Turns out a ten hour drive can be really exhausting!


The next morning we were able to sleep in a little bit as far race days are concerned since start time wasn’t until 8.  We woke up and immediately checked the temperature since we knew a cold front was expected to blow in overnight.  Sure enough, the temps were hovering right around the freezing mark, and the wind was fairly strong.  That meant a return to my running capris, and we busted out our long-sleeved running shirts from Omaha.

The Magic City Half Marathon starts at Regions Field, and we didn’t have any trouble getting downtown and to a parking spot.  We even sat in the car for about 15 minutes to avoid spending that time in the cold weather!

About ten til 8, we made our way to the start line, took care of last minute bathroom essentials, and waited for go time.  The gun sounded just a few minutes after 8, and we were off!

Right away, I knew I was in for a little bit of discomfort.  I don’t know how much I’ve mentioned it, but I am a terrible breather.  I just do not do it well while running, and the cold simply excarebated it.  The first few miles my legs felt frozen, and I sounded like I was dying.  At one point, a passing runner turned around and looked at me because I sounded so bad.  I know he was worried something was actually wrong!

Our pace was pretty fast, but I started worrying fairly early that a sub-2 wasn’t going to be possible.  I knew I was struggling, and I doubted my ability to keep up that pace.  I decided to race sans-Garmin this time (which I’ll talk more about in another post) so Dad was solely in charge of pacing us, and he kept saying we needed to be moving a little bit faster.


Despite all of that, the 2:00 hour pacer remained in our rearview until the 8.5 mile mark.  At that point, we played leap frog with the group for the next 1.5, but a steep hill finally allowed them to pull away from us.  I was crushed because I saw my sub-2 slipping away.

At mile 11, Dad told me there was still a possibility we could hit my goal, but that I had to push.  Just after mile 12, I saw Mom and Joel cheering us on.  They along with my grandma and aunt had decided to take a quick trip to Birmingham to see our race and do a little sightseeing so they were on had to be our cheering section.  All you runners out there know what a huge boost it is to see family and friends on the course, and this was no exception.  I was so happy to see them, and loved that they even made a sign!


With less than a quarter mile to go, we entered the baseball field to run the warning track to the finish.  At that point, we had around thirty seconds to get the sub-2, and, unfortunately, it was just too much to cover.


Official time was 2:00:41, and, perhaps, I should call this an Even Greater Almost.


It was definitely a bittersweet ending because while I did PR, I was 42 seconds short of my goal, and that was disappointing.


However, it’s time to move onward and upward, and our very last (say what?!) race for the year is in two weeks.  I’ve been putting in the work, and I’m hoping that I close out 2015 with that sub-2 finish.  We shall see!


Marathon: Will I or Won’t I? A Fitness Discussion

Hello, folks!  How was the weekend?  John and I (and Max and Gus!) went home to spend some quality time with some of my favorite people.  We got a little exercise in the beautiful weather, ate pizza, and took in a show.


We like to take advantage of the Broadway shows that come to Dallas as often as possible, and we knew we couldn’t miss The Sound of Music.  It was so good!  The actress who portrayed Maria could use a little more polish, but she’s young, her voice was wonderful, and overall she did a really great job.  The star of the show was the Mother Abbess.  Girlfriend had a voice that you wouldn’t believe, and I felt myself wishing she had more time on stage!

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about my workout routine, and I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve really broken down what I’ve been doing here on the blog.  You guys know I’ve been running a ton of miles this year, but that’s not all!  So today I want to give you a clear picture of my schedule, and also look forward to what I’m anticipating once the year of 12 in 12 in 12 is over.

Here’s what the schedule loosely looks like right now:


I say loosely because it definitely depends on what I have going on that day.  The last several weeks I’ve had to do some rearranging to fit everything in, but, in general, this is the schedule I like to keep.  I just started yoga last week, but I anticipate making the Wednesday class for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure if I really addressed it here, but, obviously, I’m not doing Crossfit anymore.  I could blame it on all the miles I’m having to run, and that is a big part of it, but really that’s not the whole truth.  It just ended up not being a good fit for me so instead I lift with John and our friends, Michael and Hanna, twice a week in their garage.  I can’t explain how much better I like this, and that will definitely remain part of my routine.

So what will the next year look like?  Well, running will still be a part of the equation.  I’ve become a little bit addicted to racing, and I don’t see giving it up any time soon.  A lot of it will depend on my next two races.  It’s no secret that I’m aiming for a sub-2:00 half, and I am so close.  If I don’t break it in Birmingham or Indianapolis then I’ll be looking for a half pretty quickly into the new year.  I don’t want to lose any of the base I built up before I hit that goal.

Once I do, it will be time to re-evalutate.  The obvious question is “Will you run a full?”.  Trust me, I’ve been getting this one quite a lot in the last few months.  The answer?  I don’t know.  I think it is the obvious next step, but I am still scared to death of the distance.  Much like before I started running half marathons, I’m just not sure if I’m capable of going the full 26.2, and I’m definitely not sure if I want to commit to training for one.

I do know that I want to work on my 5K time.  I feel like I can shave a minute or two off of my current 27:28, and I’d like to aim for that in the first few months of 2016.  I also plan on adding in at least one more day a week of yoga.

Basically, 2016 hasn’t fully formed yet as far as fitness and goals are concerned, and I’m okay with that.  I told you last week that I plan on slowly down a bit in 2016, and I very seriously meant it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any adventures, and I’ve got a few things I’m dreaming and scheming about.  Here’s hoping 2016 is less busy but just as fun!

The Year Of No

Hello, friends!  Did everyone enjoy their Halloween weekend?  I did exactly what I wanted to do which was lay on the couch watching Hocus Pocus while John passed out candy.


I’ve told you before just how much he looks forward to trick or treaters, and this year was no exception.  Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to get as many as we have in years passed.  Does it seem like people aren’t going door to door as much?  I know in our part of the world Fall Festivals have become huge at just about every church in the area, and more and more people seem to be opting for that.  I think it’s kind of sad!

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my weekend because I spent most of it just basking in some down time which leads me to the topic at hand.  I’m sure many of you have noticed that my posts have been few and far between in recent months, and that is a direct result of how much I’ve had going on.  Some of it is personal life related, but I’ve also taken on a large extra chunk of duties at school.  Between the two, I feel like I’ve been spinning out a little bit.

It seems like it’s really come to a head in the last month or two, and the extra amount of general busyness has of course meant extra stress.  That has manifested itself in some not so pleasant ways.  I am tired all of the time, I feel like a lot of things are only getting half done, and my neck and shoulders have been in a knot for two months.  I’m educated enough to understand that this is really NOT GOOD for me so I’ve been thinking lately about how to combat this, and I’ve come up with a few things

  1. Give Myself A Break

Sometimes things just don’t get done.  Maybe the towels don’t get folded or I have to leave the dishes in the sink for the night in favor of crashing on the couch.  I do not have the type of personality in which things like that sit well with me, but I’m learning to let go.  I’ve actually made huge strides since John and I first got married, and I’m getting better all the time.

2. Yoga

Poteau has finally entered the 21st century and yoga is coming to town!  The first class I can make is Wednesday afternoon, and I am most definitely going to make this a regular part of my routine.  I really think it could help my neck and shoulders a lot.

3. Learn To Say No

This one is huge, and really what I want to focus on.  I don’t say no very well, and it’s not just when being asked to perform some task or duty.  Someone will come up with something fun to do or try, and I jump on board before even thinking it through.  This can be just as dangerous as taking on too many tasks, and I’m trying to be mindful about really thinking through these kinds of invitations.  Is this something I really want to do?  Will it be better for my body and peace of mind to just sit this one out?


2015 has been a really wonderful year so far, but it’s also been jam packed.  I’ve joked a few times in the last few weeks that 2016 is going to be the Year of No, but I’m starting to think it’s not such a joke.  It will definitely be the year I slow down, and I feel like that will make the things I choose to pursue that much more meaningful!

How do you manage stress? Are you guilty of saying “yes” too often?

Currently: October

Hello!  As predicted, last week was a whirlwind of activity, and I really didn’t feel like I was able to catch my breath until Sunday afternoon.  That being said, Fall Break passed in kind of a blur so I am going to be more than happy when this weekend rolls around.  We have plans to hit the trail, but, unfortunately, it’s starting to look like Mother Nature has other ideas.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I’m definitely in need of a little trail time!

So how about we do a little Currently today? It’s a little snapshot of the craziness that is my life right now!


Current books:  I finally finished up one I’ve been working on for a few weeks (yes, that’s how busy my schedule has been!) so now I’ve moved on to Into Thin Air.  I’m really excited to get deep in the middle of it.  I felt like I got to know the characters when I watched the Everest movie so now I’m really craving some more background.


Current music:  Three cheers for the newest Trail Show episode!  You guys, this is my favorite podcast, and I anxiously await the newest installment every month.  October’s episode just came out today!


Current food:  Last night I made Katie’s Cream Cheese Chicken Chili for the second or third time, and I swear it gets better every time I make it.  It’s really good, and I have gotten an enthusiastic response from the male member of our household each time.  To make it even better, it’s so easy!  I highly, highly recommend this one!

Current shows:   You know I’m a TV junkie, and the week all my shows come back is basically one of my favorite of the year.  We’ve been into the new seasons for a few weeks now, and my DVR is full of all my old favorites.  We have discovered a few new ones that we’re really liking namely Quantico (so good!), Blindspot (two thumbs), Limitless (quirky with Bradley Cooper thrown in every now and again), and Life in Pieces (hilarious!).  Side note:  Has anybody been watching How To Get Away With Murder?  I really liked it when it started last year, but they started losing me towards the end of the season.  I’ve picked it back up this season, but I haven’t been liking it AT ALL and I’m really close to giving it up for good.  Thoughts?

Current wish list:  A day in which all I have to do is move from my bed to the couch with a full DVR and a good book to read.  Seriously, that’s all I want.

Current needs:  A really good massage.  I’ve been having some back/shoulder issues lately, and they just aren’t letting up.  I had a massage over Fall Break, but it hasn’t seemed to alleviate much.

Current triumphs:  You know that feeling you get when it just seems like you’re rocking at your job?  I’ve kind of been feeling that lately, and it’s super nice!

Current bane of my existence:   An overloaded schedule

Current celebrity crush:   Well, I mentioned Limitless above so I’m going to with Jake McDorman.  He’s pretty tasty :)


Current indulgence:  I’m trying NOT to indulge right now.  I’ve got some big goals in the next few months, and being about five pounds lighter would be super helpful.

Current blessing:  Opportunities that create a busy schedule.  I am definitely overextended and wiped out, but I’m also taking part in a lot of pretty cool things that I’ll be glad I didn’t miss.  I’m thankful that I’m living a life that makes that possible.

Current outfit:  A standard teacher outfit of black pants and one of about five shirts that I rotate.  Have I said I need to go shopping??  (same as last month although I did manage to buy two more tops!).

Current excitement:   YOU GUYS!!  I’ve been bursting to talk about this since I started this post!  In case this is the first time you’ve been on the Internet in the past two days, I have some very exciting news for you. NETFLIX IS IN TALKS TO BRING BACK THE GILMORE GIRLS!!!  It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE Gilmore fan, and I’ve been freaking out about this since the news broke last night.  I am beyond excited!  I almost don’t even care if it sucks.  It will just be so nice to be back in Stars Hollow!


Current mood:  Gilmore is coming back, all’s right with the world :)

What’s going on with you currently?

Visitors Always Pop In This Time Of Year

Hey, hey!  Look at me checking in on a Monday!  It has been quite awhile since I did a weekend recap, but I wanted to pop in today with some pictures because something super important happened this weekend.


Mom and Joel came to visit!  I haven’t seen either of them in months which is I’m certain is the longest I’ve ever gone so we were overdue for a visit.  The drove in Saturday morning, and we took full advantage of two days together.  Saturday was one of those perfect fall days so we took the top off the Jeep, and headed into the mountains.  We happen to live in the prettiest part of the state so are visitor log always seems to get a little bit more dense this time of year :)  I think this photo dump will show you why.





By the time we got home, we were windblown and pretty wiped out, but it was exactly the kind of relaxing day I needed after what’s felt like months of going ninety to nothing.

Sunday we took them over to our new land to show them around.  I neglected to take pictures because apparently I can only remember to be a good blogger one day a week, but they were excited for us nevertheless.  Afterwards we caught a matinee of Everest.  Has anyone seen this yet?  I know there is some controversy surrounding the movie, but I felt like it was really beautifully shot and extremely powerful.  It helped that I didn’t know too much of the backstory of the 1996 Everest disaster, but, you better believe, I’ll be reading Into Thin Air now.

It was an altogether too short weekend, but we had a blast.  Now it’s time to gear up for a crazy week.  We’ve got Fall Break Thursday and Friday, but the first part of this week is going to more than make up for two days off.  It’s going to be a jam packed few days!  I’ll see you when the battle is over!  Have a great week!

The Great Almost: A Race Recap

Hello, friends!  It’s been a hot minute!  I’ve got to be completely honest and say I’ve been feeling a little uninspired when it comes to the blog lately.  For some reason, I just haven’t had much to say.  I’m hoping that it’s just a phase because I do so enjoy interacting with you guys when I make myself sit down long enough to type out a post.  There is definitely an ebb and flow in this blog business!

In the meantime, let’s chat because I do have something fun to report on today!  This past Sunday, Dad and I ran #10 in our 12 in 12 in 12 quest.  We kept it somewhat local this month and stayed in Oklahoma for October’s run.  Of course, local is relative.  The race was in Lawton, OK which is clear across the state from where I live!  It was worth it, however, because Lawton just happens to be where my grandparents live.  Being on opposite ends of the state means I don’t get to see them nearly enough so this month’s race was a no-brainer.

I made it to Lawton mid-afternoon on Saturday, and was not only greeted by Dad and the grandparents but by Caite and Tace as well.  I haven’t seen either of them for months so that it was so nice!

Dad, Caite, Tace, and I immediately jumped back in the car to hit up packet pickup.  This race was the 10th Annual Spirit of Survival race with proceeds going to benefit cancer centers in southwest Oklahoma. As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I was so glad that our October race had this theme.  I’ve shared before that Mom fought breast cancer a few years ago, and the cause is very near and dear to my heart.


We picked up our packets, did a little looking around in the shopping center in that part of town, and then headed back to the house for a feast of Nana’s home cooking.  Last month, Dad and I were trying to figure out where we’ve had the best food this year, and I’m pretty sure this is the winner!

We had a 7:30 race start Sunday morning, and Papa was able to drop us off a few blocks from the start line about ten til seven.  There was a bit of wind, and it was a slightly chilly wait!


The Lawton Fire Department was on hand with the flag, and after the singing of the national anthem we were off!


The first three or so miles were fairly normal.   Honestly, I don’t remember too much about them other than we started out with the intention of at least matching our results from Omaha so we were running fairly fast.  Around mile 3.5, I started to notice that it was taking a lot more effort than it should have been, and I even told Dad at one point that two weeks recovery was not enough time!

I continued to feel less than stellar as we cruised through miles 4 and 5.  I was starting to think I would just be happy with a 2:05-2:10 finish because my legs did not feel capable of anything faster.

My legs felt like they were starting to recover as we approached the turnaround.  They actually had a clock set up at this point so you could see your time at the halfway point, and I was astonished to see that it read under an hour.  I remember thinking, “Wow!  That’s a pretty fast 10K for me.”.  Dad mentioned at this point that we were ahead of what we did at Omaha at the same spot, and I started thinking that this might not end up so bad after all.

This is where I have to comment on the power of positive thinking.  Of course, I think I finally found my legs at this point, but I’m convinced that the race started to go better for me because my thinking changed.  The minute I knew I still had a chance to put in a really good showing, I immediately felt stronger.  The mind is not to be underestimated!

The next few miles felt, if not easy, then very comfortable.  I was able to take in my surroundings a little bit, and actually enjoyed looking out at the prairie with the Wichita Mountains in the background.  Side note:  Do you know how you can tell that you’re in western Oklahoma?  When you are at mile marker 8 and you can see the flag for mile marker 9 waving in the breeze, you are in western Oklahoma!

At mile 9, I looked down at my watch and was astonished to see it read 1:21.  I knew that meant that a sub-2:00 finish was possible.  It would be down to the wire and there were still a lot of miles to go, but I felt myself perk up a little at the possibility.


That possibility kept me going strong until mile 11.5.  That was when I started to run out of gas, and the remaining 1.6 miles were a hard fought struggle.  All year long, I’ve kept the sub-2:00 goal in the back of my head.  I actually thought to myself, “Don’t give up right now!  That just means you’ll have to work this hard all over again in the next race!”.  I was seriously running out of steam, though, and I just couldn’t sustain it through that last mile.

IMG_0986 (1)

You can see how hard I was working!  As we turned into the finisher’s chute, Caite, Tace, Nana, and Papa were all there cheering us on.  I sort of saw them through my brain fog, but I was focused on that finish line.  I think the cruelest thing in the world is making a finish line on an uphill.  Seriously?!  Nevertheless, I powered up it because I wasn’t about to stop with that many people watching.


We crossed the finish at 2:00:45, and, I’m not going to lie, a tiny part of me was bummed that I didn’t make that sub-2:00.  I got over it pretty quick though because I know I fought hard for that finish, and I completely slayed my previous PR.  It was a good race day!


So let’s talk a little about how that happened.  I’ve been incorporating a lot more speed work lately and I definitely think that helped, but I think the major difference can be chalked up to one thing.  You guys know that I’ve struggled with runner’s knee in the past.  No matter how many ibprofuens I popped before or during the race, I’d always start hurting around mile 8 or 9 and struggle through the rest of the race.  Well, after Omaha, I ordered a knee strap.  This was the first race I’ve run with it, and I think it worked wonders.  I still popped two ibprofuens at the halfway point (which is later than I normally do it!), and, although my knee hurt a little during the race, it was nowhere near the level that I usually have to contend with.  I can’t think of any other reason for such a huge time jump, and that little strap is now my new best friend.

No one was more surprised than me that I got that close.  Despite the fact that I’ve been talking about that sub-2:00, I don’t think I’ve ever really believed I could do it.  I didn’t think I was fast enough or strong enough to pull it out.  I’ve been treating it a bit like a pipe dream, and yesterday was the first time the goal actually felt attainable to me.  I’ve got a month and a half before the next race, and you better believe I’ll be working hard with one thing in mind!

A PR In Omaha!

Thursday already?  I know I say it every week, but it’s been a busy one!  Perhaps that’s just what the life of a busy adult is like?  Wow!  It only took me ten years in the full-time work force to figure that one out.  I’m nothing if not a quick study.

So, here we are, four days removed from my latest half-marathon so it’s I’m popping in to share a recap!


The ninth installment of our insane quest to do 12 half marathons in 12 states in 12 months took place in Omaha, Nebraska.  It was my first time in the Cornhusker state, and, since my obsessive personality is always looking for ways to cross off new states, I was really excited to visit this one.  P.S.  Turns out you have to drive through Iowa for a bit when trekking to Omaha from my house so there’s two down!

Dad, John, and I took off fairly early Saturday morning for the seven and a half hour trip, and pulled in around 4:30.  We went straight to the expo which was held in the parking lot of the Ameritrade Baseball Park.  Fun fact:  Apparently, this is home to the College Baseball World Series.  The things you learn 😉


The expo was small without much to browse so after we got our packets and took our obligatory t-shirt picture we set off to find some food and entertainment.

We ended up at a Triple D burger place that was good but not fantastic, and then found an awesome movie theater to catch a showing of A Walk In The Woods.  Seriously, if you’re ever in Omaha, I highly recommend seeing a movie at that Askarben Cinema.  I’ve been pumped to see this movie for a while.  I knew the book was hilarious, and you know I’m watching anything I can about long distance hiking.  Nick Nolte and Robert Redford did a hilarious job bringing Bill Bryson’s journey to life, and I’d watch it again.

The next morning we headed back to Ameritrade Park for a 7:00 AM start.  The weather was in the 50s to start the day, and Dad and I were pumped to run a race that didn’t include altitude, humidity, or heat for the first time in months.


We had discussed race goals the night before, and I knew the plan was to run it fast.  I had spent most of August and September working on speed, and I was more than ready to see a good time on the clock after months of less than stellar finishes.

We started in the same general area as the 2:00 pacer, and matched him for the first few miles.  Early on, Dad led us through fast paces on the downhills so we could get ahead of the pacer a bit for water breaks, and this strategy allowed us to stay with him for the first five to six miles of the race.

The course was an out and back, and, as we approached the turn around, the pacer kept getting further and further ahead.  I knew that I didn’t have the stamina to stay with him the whole race, but I was still bummed to let him go.  The next mile was mostly uphill, and I was feeling it in every ounce of my body.  To say I was working hard was an understatement!

The second half of the race was all about making sure the 2:05 pacer didn’t catch us.  Although I slipped a bit here and there, we kept up a good pace, but it definitely took an extraordinary amount of work on my part.  Around the seven mile mark, my knee started giving me fits again that I dealt with throughout the remaining miles.  Dad started keeping up a constant stream of encouragements around mile 11.5, and I needed them.  You know when you see race signs that say, “Run like someone is chasing you!”?  Well, that’s exactly what I was doing.  I knew Mr. 2:05 was somewhere behind me, and I was determined to keep him there.

With less than a quarter mile to go, we entered the baseball field to run the rest of the way on the warning track.  Despite the fact that it was taking every bit of mental focus I had to keep moving, it really was an awesome finish out there on the field.  Right after we entered the stadium, I spotted John in the stands which was definitely a cool perk.

As we made the final turn into the finish, I kicked up into the highest gear I had, which, honestly, was probably not discernible to anyone but me.  I just had nothing left in the tank!

The hard work paid off though!  We crossed the finish line at the EXACT SAME MOMENT as the 2:05 pacer with a final time of 2:05:39.  That’s an almost twenty second PR, and I’m not unhappy about a thing!


As for the race/course itself, I have nothing but good things to say.  Was it my favorite race or the most scenic?  No, but it was well-organized and a good solid course.  Plus, did you see those medals?  Those bad boys more than make up for the disappointing non-medals in Albuquerque!

So that’s #9!  September’s race was really late in the month and October’s is really early so we’re actually doing #10 in about a week and a half!  We’re heading to the other end of the state to do one in Oklahoma, and this one is pretty special.  It happens to be held in my grandparent’s town so this particular race weekend will include a lot of family time.  I can’t wait!

Check Grand Canyon Off The Bucket List: A Guest Post!

Happy Wednesday!  We’re halfway through the week-can I get an amen?  I don’t know about you, but this one has been a rough one for me.  Between school, allergies, and mysterious back injury (oh, and BOOK FAIR!), I am more than ready for the weekend!  Anyway, enough complaining.  Today I have a really special treat for you that I am so excited about.  My mom and stepdad are two of the coolest people I know, and Mom is more than a little responsible for my love of travel and the western part of the country.  They just got back from an incredible trip to that corner of the world that included a Rim to Rim backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon.  Mom decided to write up a trip report to share with all of you that I know you’ll love so enjoy!

When one reaches retirement age, a sense of now or never begins stirring inside yourself to not only have a bucket list, but to actively complete those dreams and adventures.  My husband, Joel, and I were able to do just that with our “Rim to Rim” backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon.  If you have read my daughter’s blog, you know how much she loves to be out in nature, but she really thought we were a little crazy to do this.  Not only backpacking in the high desert of Arizona,  but in the heat of August…yikes!!  This was not our preferred time, but since you have to get a permit, August had the only available dates.  Wonder why?  Joel and I were up to the task.  We decided to take 4 days and 3 nights, so we could take our time to enjoy the scenery , plus we didn’t want our bodies to wear out before completing the trip.


Day 1: North Kaibab Trailhead to Cottonwood Campground, the descent is 4,161 feet in 6.8 miles.

We began our trip from the North rim because it is 1,381 feet higher than the South rim, which we felt would be easier to descend than to backpack out on the fourth day.   However, going downhill can be brutal on the knees.



Arrived at Cottonwood Campsite around 10 a.m. and it was 103 degrees by noon.  Throughout the day, we cooled off and soaked the old knees in the Bright Angel Creek that ran next to the campsites.  Sorry there’s no picture because we didn’t realize we didn’t take any here. (I guess we were too occupied with the heat!)   If anyone finds themselves doing this trek, get campsite #10 because it has the most shade.  Unfortunately, we did not, so we kept moving our picnic table several times that day just to have a little shade.

Day 2: Cottonwood Campground to Bright Angel Campground, 1,600 feet descent in 7.2 miles

This day was an enjoyable hike because there’s no significant elevation loss, and the trail has canyon walls on both sides with the Bright Angel Creek paralleling it.  There’s a total of 4 bridges to cross before reaching the Bright Angel Campground.


The Bright Angel Campground is about two-tenths of a mile from the Phantom Ranch.  Many people hiking or rafting will stay overnight in the cabins at the ranch.  We didn’t, but we did make reservations to eat a meal there.  A little pricey, but money well spent.  You can’t beat a good bowl of beef stew, cornbread, and several glasses of ice tea after two days of “trail food.”

The weather was great that day.  It sprinkled a little, but dark clouds were around all afternoon, which was a welcoming sight from the glaring sun.  We took advantage of the cooler temperatures by hiking to both bridges that go across the Colorado River. Hikers must go over the Silver Bridge to ascend from the bottom of the canyon.


Day 3: Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground, 1.320 feet elevation gain in 4.7 miles

For the first mile and half, there was 0 feet elevation gain or loss.  The next 3.2 miles you had several switchbacks because of the 1,320 feet elevation gain.


After getting past these switchbacks, it began to rain on us.  We took the time to cover our backpacks but decided not to put our rain gear on because the rain felt so good.  This is the entrance to Indian Garden, which is a little oasis in the middle of the canyon.


The view from our tent at Indian Garden campsite.  Joel was enjoying a little nap before an afternoon hike.


Hiked to Plateau Point (3 miles round trip), and had a view of the Colorado River snaking through the canyon.


Day 4: Indian Campground to South Rim, the ascent  is 3,060 feet in 4.9 miles.

Once we made it to the top, a nice room at Thunderbird Lodge was ours for the night.  After 4 days, a shower and a soft bed were heavenly.


Yes, Joel and I both bought a t-shirt to let people know we backpacked from Rim to Rim!  It’s nice to see the view from the top at the trail we completed.

Currently: September

Hello, favorite folks!  I hope everyone is enjoying the short work week.  I know it’s taken me until today to get back into the swing of things just in time for the weekend.  I love it when things work out that way 😉  John and I have been super busy with home renovations which you’ll see more of below.  Our little house is really changing, and it won’t be long before we’re ready to pass it off to someone else.  Exciting things are happening!

August got a little away from me so here’s a Currently post for September.  Things are a wee bit different than the last time I wrote one.  Back in July, my Currently was all about vacation.  Oh, reality, thou art an evil witch.

Currently: September

Current books:  I have been on some kind of streak in the last few months with books, and I’ve been reading a ton.  I am a huge fan of YA literature, and I happen to believe that some of the best writing being done is in this genre.  I just recently finished these two new release YA books, and I’m on a hunt for another great one to capture my attention.downloaddownload (1)

Current music:  I haven’t been listening to music AT ALL because all of my iPod time is spent with my latest Audible purchase.  Have you guys heard of The Great Courses?  They are audio of university courses that cover over 500 topics.  I’ve listened to several in the history genre, and I’m currently making my way through A History of England From The Tudors To The Stuarts.  It’s over 19 hours long and chock full of information.  The history geek in me rejoices!

Current food:  I’m trying to hurry fall along by breaking out the crock pot.  We’ve done several meals in it the last few weeks including these beef carnitas that got rave reviews from the pickier member of our household.  I’m holding off on the soups and chilis, but, hopefully, it won’t be long!

Current shows:   I have discovered a new to me show that I’m absolutely addicted to, and it has been helping me get through some of my long runs on the treadmill (because runs outside in this horrific heat aren’t happening).  It’s the ABC Family show Switched At Birth, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m addicted.  I’ve got an episode playing whenever I have the TV to myself (unfortunately, John is not as enamored as I am), and I’m almost done with season two.  I’m actually trying to slow down so that I don’t catch up to the current season too quickly.  I don’t want to have to wait from week to week for one episode!

Current wish list:  Cold weather.  Yes, I’m skipping right over cool weather and going straight for cold.  It has been in the high 90s with 150% humidity for the last week, and I am over it.  I am never a fan of hot weather, but it is especially excruciating when fall seems so close!

Current needs:  I absolutely hate to shop, but, unfortunately, I do not have the type of job that allows me to stay in gym clothes all the live long day.  I really need to get a few outfits, and I am in desperate need of some new black dress shoes.  Will someone do it for me?

Current triumphs:  John and I worked hard over our three day weekend, and installed this really pretty flooring in our living room all by ourselves!


Current bane of my existence:   The fact that we still have to install that same flooring in the kitchen, bathroom, and hallway, and that my house feels like a bomb has exploded.


Current celebrity crush:   I’m going to change things up and go girl crush on you.


John and I watched The Age of Adaline the other day, and I just cannot get over how beautiful Blake Lively is.  I always love people who are, what I call, unusually pretty, and she falls into that category.  Plus, the movie was really good!

Current indulgence:  Have you seen this stuff?


It is ridiculous how good it is, and I only let myself buy about a jar a month.  Even then I have to serious ration how much I get or else I could easily hose the whole thing in about fifteen minutes.

Current blessing:  Mi familia.  I haven’t seen any of them in awhile, and I miss each and every crazy one of them.

Current outfit:  A standard teacher outfit of black pants and one of about five shirts that I rotate.  Have I said I need to go shopping??

Current excitement:   My next race is weekend after next which I am super excited about because it means we can get out of town for a little while!

Current mood:  Not gonna lie, guys-My mood is flat worn out with a side note of allergies suck.

What’s going on with you currently?

Mother Nature-1 Fords-0

Hello, friends!  How’s the week treating you?  My week started off a little rocky, but I feel like I’m on an upswing now.  I am a self-diagnosed mild insomniac, and every so often I have nights where I just do not sleep.  Sunday was one of them.  I fell asleep about 10:15 Sunday night, woke up at 12:30, and I was up for the duration.  Bad news-I started a Monday with two hours of sleep.  Good news-I am now almost finished with my new favorite show which I’ll tell you all about it my next Currently post!


So, as promised, a month and a half after the fact I’m here to finish up our annual backpacking story.  I’ve already detailed the fun we had the first week, and now I’m going to wrap it up with the second week John and I did on our own.

The original plan was to head to Wyoming after the rest of the group left to head home, but, the week before the trip, John started calling all the ranger stations in the areas we were going to be.  He does this every year just to check in about trail conditions and what not, and it’s a great habit to get into if you’re setting out into the backcountry.

When he talked to the Wyoming station, he was informed that the trail looked good but that we definitely needed to make sure we had bug spray and even a head net.  Apparently, the bugs were out in full force already (a risk you always run in the summer time.  The one down fall of a teacher schedule is that we can’t hike in the best times of the year!).  We talked about it, and decided very quickly that dodging mosquitoes did not in any way sound like our idea of a fun vacation.  We opted to spend the second week in Colorado.

We came off the first trail on that Friday, and said goodbye to the rest of our group early Saturday morning.  John and I spent that day in town relaxing and letting John do his trail magic.  I swear-you give that guy a map and in a matter of an hour he can put together an amazing adventure!

We set off to the trail early Sunday morning feeling rested and ready to go.  The trip was going to be a strenuous one, but, after being confined to the tent for so much of the first week because of the rain, we were more than ready to stretch our legs.


We arrived at the Pine River Trailhead and started towards Emerald Lake, the first night destination.  Emerald Lake is a popular spot in San Juans, and it is easy to see why.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  It takes ten miles to get to with the first five being fairly flat.  However, once you make the turn to go, the next five miles is a steep uphill that seems to go on forever.  That being said, we were pretty proud to make it to camp around 2:00.


We set up camp, poked around a little bit, and decided to filter water.  Around that time, the rains started once again, and we were forced back to the tent for the duration of the evening.  John and I gave each other looks, but tried not to discuss what we were both fearing.


The rains cleared sometime around ten, and we woke the next morning to, if not clear skies, then at least no real threat of imminent rain.  We started the uphill with plans to make it over the pass to Rock Lake.  It was supposed to be another ten-mile day, and we knew pretty quickly that was going to be tough.  Until you cross the pass, it trail was all uphill, and our legs were feeling it after the previous day.

By the time we made the six miles to Moon Lake, we were exhausted, and knew we needed to take a real rest before attempting to cross the pass.  We hung out by the lake for a while and watched the clouds start to build up.  It became clear that the weather wasn’t going to allow us to get to Rock Lake that day so we set up camp.  We still had hopes to make up our mileage the next day and continue on as planned.


And then the rains came.  Around 3:00, it started pouring, and we spent several hours (again) in the tent.  Before long, John noticed something strange on his side of the tent, and we realized it was floating!  The water was pooling, and we were in real danger of flooding our tent and everything in it.


Imagine, if you will, two soaked to the skin figures in the middle of a rain storm unstaking a tent and carrying it several hundred yards to a somewhat less wet patch of ground.  We were not amused.


By the time, we cooked dinner under the tent vestibule, and I proceeded to knock the pot and all its contents onto the ground, we were done.  The neverending rain had beaten us, and we decided we had to call time of death on the whole trip.


The next morning we packed up camp, and headed down.  It started raining again by the time we got back to Emerald Lake, and we proceeded to hike the rest of the way to the car because the thought of spending another 14 hours in a tent was too much for us to handle.  In total, we hiked sixteen miles just to get to dry conditions.


The first thing you have to learn about backpacking is that you are playing in nature.  There are some things that you just can’t control, and weather is number one on that list so we try to take it in stride.  Nevertheless, we are already crossing our fingers that next time is better, and it didn’t take long to wish we were back out there!

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