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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Entertainment Of A Four-Legged Nature

Hey, friends!  How’s the week so far?  Today I’m bringing back a Thursday Thoughts post because, honestly, they’re my favorite kind to write!

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1.  Is it starting to feel like fall where you are?  The days are still pretty warm here, but the humidity is starting to go down and the mornings are have just a hint of a chill in them.  Those are both sure signs that fall is approaching.  There is something in the air in early the fall that I’m sure is meteorologically hard to describe, but that everyone can sense.  It puts a little pep in my step because fall and winter is far and away my favorite time of year.  I can’t wait for colder weather!

2.  Despite fall’s onset, we’ve still got a few lazy summer days ahead of us, and whether or not you’re lounging by the pool or mowing the grass it is super important to protect your skin.  I have very fair skin, and I’ve become vigilant about taking care of it in the last ten years.  However, I’m not crazy about all the excess junk that comes along with our regular SPF.  That’s why I was more than happy to give Block Island Organics a try.  Block Island is a family run company that focuses on skin care, and when one of the co-founders, Kelly, contacted me right before vacation, I jumped at the chance to give it a go.  Skin care is seriously important in the high country!  I really loved it.  It absolutely did its job without the weird smell and/or texture that’s normally associated with natural based sunscreens.  Block Island Organics is offering a special discount code for Free Range Human readers right now.  It’s good for 15% your order until September 2nd.  Just enter natalief at checkout!

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3.  So we’ve been back in school two weeks now, and things are running really smoothly.  We’ve even had some entertainment in the library to make sure no boredom sets.  For the last week, my aide and I have been terrorized by a tiny, four-legged rodent.  Senor Mouse has eaten three times his body weight in cheese, peanut butter, and fun-sized Snickers bars and, alas, he has alluded us.  Yesterday morning, my aide came in to find me standing in my roller chair.  It has really been a comedy of errors, and it would be a horrible situation if it wasn’t so funny.

4.  So I have a little bit of news.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that John and I have bought land about a year ago.  We’ve been busy fixing up our house to sell, and dreaming and scheming all the plans for our new house.  Because of a few issues that have arisen, we decided over the summer that original land we had purchased may not be the best place to build after all.  All is not lost, however.  Yesterday, we started the process of buying another piece of property that, I believe, is going to be even better than the first!  Once we clear a few trees, it’s going to have a wonderful view, and it is a bit more secluded while still having all the amenities of town.  I am so excited, and, hopefully, we’ll begin the build in the next couple months!

5.  I’ve really stepped up my training this last week or so, and I’m starting to really notice a difference.  I’m anxiously excited about our next race in Omaha, and I’m hoping it’s going to be the best one in several months.

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6.  Last year I began taking piano lessons, and loved every minute of it.  I was taking them from music teacher at school, and lessons when on summer break just like the rest of us.  I’m really excited to start up again after Labor Day, but, in the mean time, I’ve been playing around with this website the last few days.  My super husband, who is always supportive of all the one million hobbies I’ve adopted over the years, found it, and I think it’s really going to be beneficial.

7.  So I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet, but about six months ago I got a second job.  In my spare time, I’ve started working as an exchange student coordinator.  You guys, I am having so much fun!  I’ve placed two students with families this year, and they are the sweetest girls.  One has a really quirky personality, and I can’t wait to get to know both of them better.  John and I are even thinking about being host parents once our house gets built!

8.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m doing a Novel Studies class with a small group of students this year.  They are a mature group, and I told them from the get go that we’d be reading thought-provoking and sometime controversial books in order to spark discussion.  We’ve started with Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, and it has definitely provided no end of interesting discussions.  It’s really going to be an enlightening class!

9.  Because it’s Thursday and because yesterday was National Dog day, here’s a throwback of my two favorite rascals.

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How cute are those puppy faces?  Little did we know the mischief to come!

10.  That’s it for me today!  Be sure to check back in next week for week #2 of our backpacking trip!  Have a great one!

Rio Grande Lovelace Half-Marathon: Or How I Spent 13.1 Miles Dehydrated

Hello, friends!  Look at this-I’ve been back to school two weeks, and already I am so thankful that Fridays exist that I did a little jig when I walked out the door this morning.  This working thing is rough (<—–sarcasm warning).  I actually have to make a trip to Tulsa tomorrow so I’m really looking forward to having a low-key day on Sunday.  Those have become very precious of late!

So, in an effort to not fall too far behind, today I’m going to document our most recent half-marathon from a week and a half ago.  #8 in our 12 in 12 in 12 was the Rio Grande Lovelace Half-Marathon held in the high desert town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dad and I met just outside of Oklahoma City on Friday morning, condensed our stuff into one car, and headed west.  Dad was a little unwilling to let summer end so we wanted to make this a mini-trip instead of just traveling for a race.  We stopped in Santa Rosa, New Mexico for the night, and checked out a few of the sites around town before collapsing into bed fairly early.

The next morning we got an early start to make the hour drive to Albuquerque.  We were excited to to try one of the many Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives places in town for breakfast, and we chose Cecilia’s for a Mexican-style breakfast.

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Post-food we drove over to get pick up our packets, and, I gotta tell ya, I think this race wins for best shirts.  I love the color, the fit, everything, and I have a feeling we’ll be wearing this one for at least the next few races.

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We spent the rest of the day poking around Albuquerque and trying to hold on to that summer vacation feel as long as possible.  We called it a day around 7, and I think I was asleep by 9:30.  I wanted to be well-rested!

The race was a 6:30 start on Sunday morning which I loved.  It was on the small side so we had no trouble parking and finding the staging area for runners at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  After a few minutes and our usual pre-race selfie, we headed with the crowd to the top of a nearby overpass for the start.

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The first five miles took us down the overpass and around a large square before leading us back to the cultural center.  My legs felt pretty good through the first five miles, but I could tell pretty quickly that the altitude was going to be a problem in this race just like in our July one.  I was a little bummed because I knew that meant a slower finish than I would’ve liked, but there wasn’t much to be done at that point.

Around mile three, my knee start griping at me so I took my normal ibprofuen and fully expected for that to solve the issue (like it has every other time).  Spoiler alert:  It didn’t.  My knee nagged at me for the rest of the race.

At mile five, we turned onto a paved bike path that ran parallel to the cultural center for an out and back.  The path was 100% flat so we settled in for 8 miles of steady running.  Unfortunately, it was hard to keep a consistent pace because my knee continued to aggravate, and it eventually spread to the muscles above my ankles and all the way up my glutes.  That, of course, meant a lot of stopping to walk it out.

I need to pause and mention a few things about the race itself.  First of all, we have never ran a friendlier race.  Since it was an out and back course, we passed a lot of runners coming and going.  Almost none of them failed to give an encouraging word or a high five.  The difference was palpabale and very cool.  Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end.  The course wasn’t difficult, but it was boring.  There wasn’t much to look at, and, although hills will never be my favorite, I’m come to the conclusion that completely flat races are mentally much tougher.  Sometimes you need a hill just to be doing something different!  The biggest negative of this race so far were the aid stations.  Or maybe I should say, the lack thereof.  The ones that were present were well-stocked with Gatorade, water, and awesome volunteers, but there were so few of them!  I think there may have been a total of four on the entire course, and I know we went over three miles during one stretch without one.  In my humble opinion, that is just not enough, and the lack of water definitely contributed to my lackluster performance.

We crossed the finish line at 2:15:37 which is the third worst time I’ve ever put up.  Yes, I had some pain.  Yes, there was altitude to contend with.  Yes, there was a definite lack of hydration.  However, the bottom line is I wasn’t well-trained for this race, and I need to put in some serious work before the next one.  The last few races have been on the slower side, and I’m ready to get back to some better numbers.  Luckily, we have a good stretch before the September race, and I’ve been nailing training the last few weeks.

Yes, instead of medals, we got cheapo necklaces.  No bueno.

Yes, instead of medals, we got cheapo necklaces. No bueno.

One side note before I end:  I almost certain the reason I was experiencing pain is because it’s time for new shoes.  I have absolutely loved my Saucony Rides, and I plan on ordering another pair next week.  Of course, I’m going to shake things up with a different color!

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So race #8 is in the books, and we’re headed to Omaha in September.  We’re getting so close to #12!

And Then The Rains Came: A Trail Report

(Hey, guys!  This was suppose to post yesterday, but we had a wee bit of technical difficulties so it’s coming at you a day late.  Enjoy!)

 

Hey folks!  Happy Monday :)  I’m keeping a positive attitude although I’ve relearned a very important lesson today-the first Monday back after a break is rough!  It is especially rough when you teach a class first hour.  I swear I could not make my brain communicate with my mouth, and I’m a wee bit concerned about the impression I left on my brand new students.  Going to have to make up for that tomorrow.

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So, since it’s been nearly a month since we returned from vacation, perhaps I should get back at the trip recaps, huh? When last we left off, we’d barely made it to camp on the first night.  Quick recap:  Don’t run a half-marathon and then start a backpacking trip the next day.  It’s not a great idea.

We awoke on the second morning feeling a little better, and were all excited that our ultimate destination was only a couple of miles ahead.  The original plan was to camp at Granite Lake the first night and then take the entire second day off to rest and play.  Since we didn’t make it the first day, we had about two miles to cover before the relaxation could begin, and we quickly realized that it was a good thing we didn’t try to make it all the way the night before.

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We crossed the Pine River and began to climb up to Granite Lake.  And I do mean climb.  It was a short distance but it was steep, and I knew there was no way I would’ve made it the night before.  I was struggling as it was!  Lesson #2:  It takes more than one day to recover from a half-marathon.

We made it into Granite Lake mid-morning, and proceeded to fall in love with the place.  It’s a bit off the beaten path so it doesn’t get a lot of visitors, and the feeling of completely and utter solitude took over while we were up there.

We set up camp, and John took one look at our motley crew and realized we needed to rethink our intended route.  He did his map magic and worked it where we were still able to stay two nights at Granite and take a much-needed day off.  I was sad to miss some of the other places we had planned, but it was ultimately the best decision.

So we spent a the rest of the second day and all of day three getting to know Granite, reading, playing cards, and eating the copious amounts of junk food we had packed.  Oh, and laying in the tent a lot.  This was very unusually wet summer in the mountains, and the rain drove us inside for much more of our trip than I would have liked.  Our first morning in Granite we stayed in bed until about 10:00 before the rain finally stopped.  Despite the rain, our rest left us in much better spirits with much better legs when day four dawned, and we set off around the lake to find a trail that would take us over the ridge.  The standard route would’ve been to go down the way we came and around the lake, but John was sure their was a game trail we could follow that would cut off a few miles.  Plus, the bushwhacking we did was actually a lot of fun!

When we topped the ridge, it opened into one of the most beautiful meadows I’ve ever seen.  It was gorgeous, and I stood in awe for a long time having one of my euphoric “I love backpacking” moments.

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We headed down the trail just another mile or two looking for the little unnamed lake that was our destination for the night.  It was off trail a bit so Dad, Alex, Caite, and I dropped our packs and had lunch while John and Justin went to explore.  It didn’t take long for them to spot it so we climbed up to camp, and had a leisurely afternoon.

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It started raining (again) around 6:30 so we headed for bed, and I was sound asleep by 8.  John got up for a little while after the rain cleared and snapped this shot.

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I just don’t think I can be convinced that there’s anything prettier than mountains.

We were up and going fairly early the next morning because our target camp was about eight miles away.  We spent most of the day paralleling the Pine River which I have decided is my favorite river on the planet.  The entire Pine River valley is just gorgeous.

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We set up camp in the late afternoon, and spent the rest of the evening jumping in out of the tent because of the rain (are you sensing a theme here?).  The weather was definitely get us all a little discouraged, and we knew were going out the next day so real food and showers were on the forefront of our mind!

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We turned in fairly early that evening so we could be up and out the next day.  Luckily, the last morning dawned pretty sunny, and the rain stayed at bay for the five miles we had to cover to the car.  It actually was a really beautiful day.  Of course it turned beautiful the day we were walking out!

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We made it back to the trailhead around 10 and piled in the cars.  We were headed to Durango and showers and food!  All in all, the first week of our trip was a success even though the rain definitely wreaked a little havoc.  Coming soon:  The portion of our trip that was just John and I in which the rain got much, much worse.  Stay tuned!

Trailhead:  Weminuche Trail

Trails Used:  Weminuche Trail, Pine River Trail

Total Miles: Around 25

Time To Chat

Hello, friends!  I’m sorry it’s been a hot minute, but it has been a seriously busy couple of weeks and it doesn’t promise to let up for at least another few days.  So pull up a chair-today we’re going to play a little catch up.  I’ve missed our chats :)

Last week was bit overwhelming in the Ford household since we had the pleasure of puppy-sitting this beauty.

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This is Buttercup.  Buttercup is a Bernese Mountain Dog which means that she is 8 months old and the same size as Max.  She also loves being around humans every single second that she can, and has a very intense tongue.  Despite the increase in drool everywhere and the accidental severing of our Dish network wire, she was nice little house guest.  The idea, however, of never wanting a third dog has definitely gone from an abstract to a concrete concept.  John and I were outnumbered!

Despite the fact that I’ve spent most of my time this summer going ninety to nothing, I’ve actually gotten a ton of reading done.  I love finding a book that you can’t put down, and that feeling you get when you’ve read something that will make you walk around with your head in a fog for a few days.

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That’s exactly how “Go Set A Watchman” was for me, but, unfortunately,  not in a positive way.  To say I hated it was an understatement.  I could fill pages about how much and why I hated it, but, needless to say, it was such a far cry from “To Kill A Mockingbird” and I was bitterly disappointed.

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Dad and I did the eighth race in our year-long challenge this past weekend in Albuquerque.  It wasn’t the worst race and it wasn’t the best, but I’ll fill you in on all the details a little later.  The unique thing about this particular race was that as soon as it was over, Dad and I had time for showers and pancakes before we had to hit the road back home because…………

………….school started yesterday.  Teachers had to report for our first day of inservice, and the kids come on Thursday.  After dragging in around midnight Sunday night, it was a wee bit hard to pull myself together yesterday.  Luckily, I spent most of it running on manic energy.  I crashed around seven last night, and, so far, I haven’t come back up.  Today has been way harder, and I desperately need a nap!

I’m excited about the new school year though.  There’s lots of changes coming down the pike this year, and I think most of them are going to be really good.  I’m always mostly ready for school to start anyway because September through December is my favorite time of year, and the start of the year always signals that it’s coming!  Besides it has been over 100 degrees here for the last week, and that does not fly with me.

Ok, folks, my eyelids are heavy, and I believe a nap is going to be in order.  Hopefully soon my schedule will calm down, but, until we meet again, have a wonderful day!

I Am Apparently NOT Invincible

Hey, folks!  I’m actually back at home and get to stay here for an entire week before I head out on my next (and last) trip of the summer.  My summers are always pretty busy, but I’ve taken my travel to new levels in the last few months.  I’m almost ready to go back to school so things will slow down a bit (ok, you know that’s not true.)!

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Mom, Tace, Caite, and I spent the first part of the week on a little girls trip that started off with catching a performance of the Dancing With The Stars tour.

It was so good!  I started out as a DWTS fan years ago, and then drop off for a few seasons when I couldn’t handle the seeming popularity contest of it all.  However, I picked it back up this last season, and I’m so glad I did.  There was some wonderful talent, and I have a feeling I’ll be a firm fan for several more seasons now!  Also, Val is so hot.

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We spent the rest of the trip taking in some sights in Little Rock including the Clinton Presidential Library and the Little Rock Nine Central High School Historic Sight.  We really had a blast despite the fact the temperatures hit 100 everyday, and decided that next year we’re going to plan a longer (and cooler) girls trip.  Side note:  Yes, I said 100 degrees.  How many days until fall?

So I’ve promised recaps on our hiking trip, and, you know, I’ve only been home for two weeks now so there’s no time like the present!  When last I left off, Dad and I had just run our July half-marathon in Colorado Springs.  After we headed back to the hotel and cleaned up, Dad, John, and I did a little sight-seeing there, and then headed towards Gunnison to meet up with Caite, Justin, and Alex.

We hooked up with the three of them, and headed toward Crested Butte to celebrate our nation’s birthday with a little food and fireworks.

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Actually, Dad, John, and I waited for the fireworks until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer then bailed to go back to the hotel!  We had an early wake-up call the next day, and it had already been a long one.

The alarms went off about five the next morning so we could make the 2 1/2 hour trek to the trail head at the Rio Grande Reservoir.  Once there, we pulled the backpacks out of the car, put in the last few necessities, and headed up the Weminuche Trail.  And I do mean up.  The first several miles were climbing, and I could tell immediately that I wasn’t 100%.

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Here’s the thing-I’m in pretty good shape.  However, that sometimes lead me into bad situations.  Because I know I’m in pretty good shape, I tend to think there’s not a whole lot that I can’t get through.  Obviously, I know I couldn’t go out and do something crazy like the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course, but, in general, I can do a lot of physically challenging stuff.  The point of this meandering story is to say that I had absolutely no concerns about running a half marathon and then setting out on a backpacking trip the next day.  I was wrong, friends.  I was wrong.

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I had absolutely no legs from the first mile on.  I was dragging pretty seriously, and Dad was feeling it as badly as I was.  Between the trail going up and up and up and having serious stamina issues, our group was moving at a snail’s pace.  Luckily, the view’s were a wee bit distracting.

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By the time we were eight or nine miles in, it became obvious that Dad and I were not going to make it to our proposed campsite at Granite Lake, and we began begging for a place to pitch the tents.  Unfortunately, we picked the exact wrong moment to do so because it was another mile and a half before we found a suitable place to do so.

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We had actually packed in hot dogs for a first night meal, and after setting up camp and roasting them over the fire, the group was more than ready for bed.  I believe I was asleep before the sun went down!

I’ll be back next week with the rest of the story from the first week of our backpacking trip.  Here’s a teaser:  Rain.  Have a great weekend!

HuHot Half: A Flatlander Races At Altitude

Hey, friends!  Happy Monday!  I’m off on yet another short trip (trying to soak up all the adventure I can before reality starts in a few weeks!), but I wanted to pop in quickly to give you a brief recap of July’s half-marathon.  I’ve got several posts coming your way in the next little bit all about our trip (look at that-I’m actually going to get to talk about backpacking around here!).

Because our annual vacation to the mountains started with our July race, that’s where I’m going to kick off the recaps as well.  This particular race recap will be short and sweet for one specific reason-it was three weeks ago and my memory is hazy!  That definitely means that I’ve had plenty of time to completely forget any bad parts, and just focus on the good stuff.  Isn’t that always how races go?

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When I first started looking for July races, I knew that scheduling would be tricky since we always take our two-week vacation that time of year.  That’s why I was really excited when I found a 4th of July race in Colorado Springs.  It was easy to fit into our trip, and I thought it was a really cool way to celebrate Independence Day.

This was the HuHot Half On The 4th in Colorado Springs, and we pulled into town the night before.  We just missed the window for packet pick-up that night, but Dad, John, and I were able to scope out the race site and eat a carbtastic pizza dinner.

The next morning we were at the start line about an hour early to get our packets and bibs, and take all of our usual pre-race photos.  We’re making sure our adventure this year is well-documented.

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Just before seven, Dad and I handed over our race swag to John, and towed the start line.  The race started in Monument Valley Park, and the whole thing was on the Greenway Trail.  It was really nice to not have to worry about traffic, but the start line was a bit congested.  Hundreds of people starting on a path made for maybe two is a bit much!

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I have to be honest-I was a little bit worried about how I was going to handle running at altitude.  As much I consider myself a mountain girl at heart, my lungs spend 11.5 months a year at sea level.  There’s no way I wasn’t going to notice.

Sure enough, I felt the difference immediately.  I run enough now that I can usually cruise through seven or eight miles before I feel the burning need to make.my.legs.stop.moving.  This time around I got to the mile 1 marker and thought, “Oh my gosh, that was only mile 1?!?!”.

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I could tell Dad wasn’t feeling 100% either, and, when I looked over at him, he quickly indicated that his legs were completely dead.  I settled in for a long race.

Luckily, it was never horrific.  Sure, it wasn’t the best run, but I never felt miserable.  It was an out and back course, and, when we made the turn at the halfway point, it seemed like my body magically adjusted.  That made for really pleasant second part of the race.  I was able to concentrate on my surroundings, and really enjoy the views all around.  It was easily the prettiest course we’ve raced on, and I could feel my Colorado euphoria threatening to take over with each passing mile.

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When all was said and done, we finished in 2:13:14.  That’s definitely all the slow end for me, but, overall, I was completely happy with the race.  Dad and I were able to hold a consistent pace throughout, and we were definitely working against some factors were not used to.  It was a solidly good effort on our parts, and I’m proud of it.

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Quickly, I’d like to say how much I really enjoyed the course.  Yes, it was a bit congested at the beginning, but it was actually better than a lot of other races I’ve been a part of, and you just can’t beat the scenery.  Not to mention it was a fairly fast course with no significant ups or downs.  Perhaps it doesn’t make me as hard-core as others, but that’s always a positive in my book!

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So that was #7 Colorado!  In case you’re wondering, we’ve now covered Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Colorado.  Next up we’re heading to Albuquerque for #8, and I can’t believe we’re already that far along!  We just might actually do this crazy thing 😉

A to Z: Jumping On The Bandwagon

Hello, friends!  I’m back from my two weeks of paradise, and I definitely got hit with a huge reality check as soon as we got back.  I have horrible teeth.  I take care of them, I do everything I’m suppose to (ok, so I don’t floss like I should), and, still, I am plagued with problem after problem with my teeth.  One in particular has been giving me problems all summer, and I joked that I’ve seen my dentist more than I’ve seen my mom.  The last few days of vacation it started to aggravate me, and, almost the minute we got home, it turned into full-fledged pain.  Long story short-yesterday, I had to have a root canal.  It’s the first one I’ve ever had, and I am seriously considering sending my dentist flowers or candy or Super Bowl tickets for ending the pain.  Today I am sore and swollen, but not in pain and I am so thankful!

All that being said, getting posts written about our trip has definitely taken a backseat.  I owe you guys a recap on July’s half-marathon (spoiler alert: altitude is real!), and a trail report (spoiler alert:  It rained.  A lot.)  I’m working on the write-ups and going through the pictures, and I’m hoping to get those out soon.  In the mean time, today I’m going to jump on the blogger bandwagon with the A to Z survey.  I’m sure you guys have seen it floating around, and today you’re getting my answers!

A to Z Survey

A – Age: 31

B – Biggest Fear:  Snakes.  I have a serious phobia.

C – Current Time: 10:49 AM

D – Drink You Had Last:   Water.  This heat has me so dehydrated!

E – Easiest Person To Talk To:  John.  I can tell him anything, and I also don’t have to worry too much about carrying the conversation.  He talks a lot 😉

F – Favorite Song:  I can only narrow it down to something by James Taylor.  You guys know I’m a Sweet Baby James super fan.

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G – Grossest Memory:  I can’t think of anything right off-hand, but I’m sure it involves one of the many times I’ve had to clean up dog vomit.

H – Hometown:  Calera, Oklahoma

I – In Love With:   Well, duh :)

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J – Jealous Of: People you live in the mountains.  I always tell John that while we’re in Colorado I have this irrational need to scream at everyone you are obviously locals, “Do you know how lucky you are?!?!”

K – Kindest Person You Know: My aunt Tammy.  She’s ridiculously nice and considerate and thoughtful.  I have literally never seen her upset.

L – Longest Relationship:  John.  We’ve been together for almost eight years, and married for almost six.

M – Middle Name: Nicole

N – Number of Siblings:  One sister and three step-brothers

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O – One Wish:  Fall.  I always start longing for fall around this time of year.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: Mom

Q – Question You’re Always Asked:  Well, in the last couple of days it has been, “How are you feeling?”  Lucky, the answer so far today has been “Good!”.

R – Reason To Smile: My fur-babies.  It is a little ridiculous how much I laugh at them.

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S – Song You Last Sang: “Midnight Train To Georgia”.  I’ve been marginally obsessed with this song lately.

T – Time You Woke Up: 8:15 which was glorious after three days of not sleeping.

U – Underwear Color: I have running shorts.  They’re orange, if that counts!

V – Vacation Destination:  Well, of course, my favorite place to vacation is the mountains, but, lately, I’ve really been wanting to see New England.  I hope we can make that trip happen soon!

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W – Worst Habit:  Making lists.  I have to remind myself sometimes to just chill out.  Things will get done when they get done.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had:  A zillion on my teeth!  Other than that, I’ve had them on my knee and my feet.

Y – Your Favorite Food:  Pizza.  Fresh, frozen, take-out:  I’m not picky.  I recently decided that it is the food I could eat every single day!

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Z – Zodiac Sign:  Sagittarius

Ok, folks, I’ll see you soon with tall tales of all my travels.  Have a great day!

Celebrate Yourself!

Hi, friends!  We’re still in the middle of our vacation, but I wanted to pop in briefly for a super short post to finish up the 10 Day You Challenge.  I’ve been working through the ten different posts for months, and it was really fun to fill out.  I especially love reading other bloggers posts in the challenge so some of you should definitely do it too!  I love getting to know my fellow writers!

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The very last post in the challenge is to post a picture of yourself.  The idea is to find one that you really love, and not necessarily because you look great in it (although that’s a plus!).  I went through quite a few pictures, and realized that I actually don’t have many of me.  Apparently, I am not apart of the selfie generation!

However, I did manage to come up with one that I absolutely adore every time I look at it.

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Excuse the old school date stamp in the bottom!  I really love this picture.  Have I taken better ones?  Sure, but this picture really represents me.  I am truly in my element doing my very favorite thing.  This was taken in the San Juans which means I was also in my very favorite place.  The smile on my face is a little bit tired, but I know the exhaustion I felt was the very best kind.  The fact that I’m still smiling means I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

This was a great way to finish up this challenge!  I think people don’t take enough time in our everyday lives to really appreciate and celebrate ourselves especially in photographs.  Most the time I look at photos of myself and nitpick everything that I don’t find attractive.  This one just radiates pure unadulterated joy.  I kind of love that!

Currently: July

Hey, folks!  Right now, I’m currently in the middle of the wilderness, and basically living my idea of heaven.  But I didn’t want to completely leave this little blog of mine to gather dust so here’s a quick Currently post for July.  Have a great one!

Currently: July

Current books:  I’ve packed about ten books (counting the ones on my Kindle) to make sure I have plenty to read in the backcountry and on the road.  The one I’m hitting up first is It’s Classified by Nicolle Wallace.  I’m such a junkie for political dramas either in book or film form, and this is the second book in a trilogy that follows the presidency of the first female ever elected to the office.  The first one was pretty good, and I’m excited to see where the characters go next.

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Current music:   James Taylor came out with a new album a few weeks ago, and I’ve been listening to his new song “Montana” on repeat.  One of the reasons I love his music so much is because he is able to put my feelings into words, and it’s so beautiful.

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Current guilty pleasure:   Leading up to vacation, I challenged myself to go a month without my Diet Dr. Pepper kick.  I made it, but you better believe I’ll have a few while we’re gone!

Current food:  Nuts, granola, beef jerky, dehydrated meals….you know, backpacker fare!

Current shows:   My favorite summer show is Rookie Blue, and I’m so excited it’s back on the air.  John and I will have a few episodes on the DVR to watch when we get back!

Current wish list:  The only thing I could possibly wish for is to stay in the backcountry always!

Current needs:  See above answer :)

Current triumphs:  Along with kicking my Diet DP habit, I decided a few weeks before our trip that I wanted to drop a few pounds before we left.  I cleaned up my diet, watched my portions, and I went into it 5 lbs lighter.  Now I will proceed to gain it all back with road trip food :)

Current bane of my existence:  Social media.  Enough said.

Current celebrity crush:  Oh, you know I recycle about three of them.  This month it’s all about Mr. Gosling.

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I watched Crazy, Stupid, Love the other day.  I love him in that movie!

Current indulgence:  Being in the backcountry allows me to indulge in some junk food that I don’t eat normally.  Bring on the Pop-Tarts!

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Current blessing:  I’m blessed to be able to travel the way we do.  I hope I never take it for granted.

Hiking in the Narrows at Zion National Park

Hiking in the Narrows at Zion National Park

Current outfit:  Something along these lines!

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Current excitement:  I bet you can guess!

Current mood:   Happy!

What’s going on with you currently?

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