Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

Mesa Verde National Park

This summer we took a whirlwind tour of Colorado via Durango, Pagosa Springs, and Crested Butte. While in Durango we decided to spend a day at Mesa Verde National Park and I am so glad we did. It was incredible. I could easily spend two or three days discovering all the hidden gems this landscape has to offer.

The Ancient Ones

The Ancient Ones

Greeted at the visitor center by a soaring sculpture of a Puebloan scaling a cliff face while carrying his bundles, we were on our way to see for ourselves the cliff faces where these ancient ones carried the necessities of life up and down the bluffs.

Knowing we just had one day in which to see as much as possible, we chose to do just two of the many guided tours that are available. First we went to Balcony House where everyone on the tour had to overcome any fear of tall ladders or tight spaces in order to get under the overhanging precipice to the shelter underneath where our guide imparted his own ideas on the how and why the people who chose to call this home, would build in such a place. Personally, I thought the view was worth millions in real estate value today.

The view from inside Balcony House

The view

We timed our two tours in order to have time between them to take a quick driving tour through some of the park and to eat a quick lunch in one of the picnic areas. The area we chose was infested with stealthy, robust, bold little rodents. I was thoroughly entertained by their tactics to get to leftover people food. They waited in the shadows, as if they knew all the signs of a family finishing a meal. They weren’t watching those of us still tucking into our pic-a-nic baskets, they were eyeballing the moms and dads who were wiping grubby little hands and putting tupperware away. As soon as the soon would be providers of squirrel lunch vacated the table, those little furry darlings scurried up to scavenge any and every crumb left on, under, or near the recently abandoned outdoor restaurant.

If I were a squirrel, I would live here too

If I were a squirrel, I would live here too

Our next stop on the tour was the large Cliff Palace Dwelling. A downward climb on steep steps, obviously CCC work from back in the day, both Joe and I pondered about the safety measures taken and not taken in the park. It seems these days the views are often hindered by fencing, signs, and other necessities to keep people from doing silly things. There seemed to be a noticeable lack of such notifications in the area. The one admonition we were given over an over was “please don’t touch the rocks in the dwellings.” Simple right? It’s a kindergarten level instruction, keep your hands to yourself while you’re here. When you leave you may touch anything you want. Yet over and over I watched as people rubbed, touched, leaned on, and practically caressed the stone. As I stood there with my arms crossed over my chest lest I break the rule, my inner 97 year old woman with a fist shaking in the air was screaming at these people “You Kids, GET OFF MY NATIONAL TREASURE!” Joe managed to take me away and get me out on a trail before I slapped a grown person’s hand and got arrested. I’m ornery like that. The oils on people’s hands turn the stone black. I want this beautiful place that has withstood the test of time and mother nature, to be enjoyed by my great great grandchildren, without the greasy stains please.

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We learned about kivas and discussed theories, of which there are many, on why the Ancestral Pueblo chose to build here and then why they chose to leave after living in the area for 700 years. This people, this tribe lived here more than twice as long as we have been the United States of America. Whether it is true or not, our Park Interpreter shared a story that tradition is that it was time to move on. There is no great story of drought or war, just that the people are in-tune with nature and when it is time to move, it is felt. I kind of like that version, the story of wanderers. I watch as my children are becoming wanderers. I live for their stories and adventures while I keep trying to find ways to wander myself, because I feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day is Earth Day

This morning my social media feeds are filled with admonitions to take care of mother earth, to protect nature, to save the world. For many of the sites that I follow, those directives are an everyday occurrence, not a plea that resounds throughout the community once a year. It does not take grand gestures to celebrate Earth Day; there are commitments that are easily integrated into everyday life that make every single day, earth day.

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1. Carpool or use alternative and public transportation. Carpooling even with just one other person is a bonus for reducing traffic and traffic emissions.

2. If you aren’t in a position that allows you to use alternative transportation as often as you’d like, please support those who do walk or bicycle for transportation. Join advocacy groups for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Let your local politicians know that alternative transportation is important to you.

3. Pick up trash. If you notice that not everyone around you is practicing a Leave No Trace routine, help us all out by cleaning up trash whether it’s on the trail or in the parking lot.

4. Recycle when you can. This is an area I need to work on. We are lucky that our waste management picks up recyclable trash but where I need more effort is in our collection of stuffs. Stuff clutters my house, my shelves, my car, my garage. Why do I have so much stuffs? I have so much stuffs I need more stuffs to store my stuffs in. This is a blatant violation of the rules of living the simple life.

5. Waste less, compost more. We’re working on this one too. My kid was disgusted by the leftover romaine lettuce butt-stalk in the fridge. I quietly explained that I was planning to attempt to re-grow the lettuce as we had been doing with green onions. She’s the one who made us start composting again after losing our big mesh bins to a dog who liked to chew.

6. Get out and enjoy the dirt. Visit and support your local, city, state and national parks. Give when they ask,  help keep them clean, and when necessary-fight to keep them open and well funded.

A much longer and detailed list of great ideas can be found on one of my favorite sites Attainable-Sustainable.

National Resources:

Leave No Trace    Gardens from Garbage   US Composting Council   Women Bike   League of American Bicyclists   Bike Walk Alliance   National Park Service

Local Resources:

Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas   Bike/Ped Little Rock   Arkansas State Parks   Arkansas Recycling Coalition

 

Free My Sole

The subject line of the email read “Runner’s World Sweepstakes Finalist!”. I enter a lot of contests and I knew Runner’s World Magazine recently promoted a contest for a year’s worth of shoes.  The person who contacted me sent multiple avenues by which I could determine that she was indeed an employee of Runner’s World and she wasn’t spamming or phishing.  Intrigued, I followed the instructions and waited, impatiently. Soon I received a confirmation that I had indeed won a years worth of shoes, which in a runner’s world, means six pair of shoes. Six. I don’t know about you, but I find running shoes that I like are expensive and I would prefer to replace them only when absolutely necessary. To me, that necessity arises about twice a year. Six pair of shoes is a veritable gold mine! I was informed that the choice of shoes would be determined by the sponsors which I understood to mean “Tell us what size you wear and we’ll see what we have in the pile of stuff they send us to test.”  Within a few days a large box was on my doorstep. I brought it inside and got all giddy like a kid on Christmas morning. Inside the box was a sampling of athletic shoe makers. Right away I noticed the distinctive red and white bag on the Puma shoes, and then discovered I had two pair of Pumas. I continued unpacking: Reebok, Skechers, and Asics. Then I saw a plain white box. Opening it I found a pair of blue Mizuno Wave Prophecy 2. Now, I know that the Prophecy shoe recently released in version 3, but I was intrigued. My current road running shoe corral includes a pair of Mizuno Inspires so I thought I might like what Runner’s World randomly chose for me. It just so happened that I was running a 10K a couple of days after the package arrived and in front of me lay a mound of shoes to test.

 

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I guess now I have lots of shoes to write about and review,  although I admit, if anyone expects a technical review, this is the wrong place to look. I know what I like, I know what feels good, but when I read some shoe reviews I feel like the person writing them is a shoe designer and knows all the vocabulary that I don’t. What the heck is thermoplastic overlay?

Fit and technical components of the shoes played into my decision making process of which shoes to try first. Just kidding, the Mizunos were blue and orange and since I was running with a group of blind/visually impaired runners and guides wearing blue and orange shirts, I chose fashion over function. Don’t judge. In the first mile I knew I  made a good choice. The look of the Mizuno infinity wave sole reminds me of these wedge shoes I had in the early 80’s with a hole in the wedge like an oblong donut. I won’t concern myself with a weird aesthetic such as a sole that makes me think of pastries, because the shoes felt great. I am sometimes a neutral but more typically a stability shoe purchaser. These shoes feel solid, which people who like a truly neutral shoe probably won’t like. The cushion was good, but not overwhelming and the advertised “propulsion” of the wave sole doesn’t seem far off the mark. I was able to run a decent pace without feeling the nagging pain of a recent knee problem. In short, I can’t wait to try the rest of the shoes, but for now the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 2 just went to the front of the running shoe rotation.

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5 Great Things in My Kitchen

1. Quinoa- Hello protein packed grain! You’re my hero. I still miss rice sometimes but you’re doing a great job as healthier alternative.

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2.  Almond Milk – It seems like a good idea to try something other than pasteurized cow milk. Almond milk is a good low fat source of iron, calcium, vitamin E and potassium without the vitamin A palmitate that is added to low fat cow milk that is added to replace vitamins lost during fat removal.

3. My garlic press- I love garlic and always try to keep a head or two in the kitchen.

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4. Ezekial Sprouted Bread- Sprouted grains that spoil versus over processed wheat product that in some cases has so many additives and preservatives, it doesn’t even mold.

5. The Feed Zone Cookbook- This book is filled with easy recipes meant for athletes who want to eat whole nutritious foods and not rely on prepackaged bars or gels for fuel during training and races. Another plus, no crazy ingredients that kids or picky eaters won’t like.

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Grounded

I’m sitting in the lobby of an Asheville hotel in the middle of the afternoon sipping red wine that’s been chilled a little too long out of a coffee mug so as not to alarm the hotel staff. The small one is upstairs in our room taking a nap. She was up late last night, spending a good part of it watching the birth of a litter of 11 piglets. How did it come to this?

A couple of years back our family chose Asheville, North Carolina as a vacation destination hoping to take advantage of the hiking and mountain biking opportunities. At the time, the young one was just beginning high school and we took a couple of hours to check out the local college campus to continue giving her ideas about what options she should be looking for in a college home. She didn’t fall in love or even in like with the  UNC-Asheville branch, but she did fall in love with Asheville. A year ago we happened to invite a friend of mine along for a trip to a music festival. The subject of college came up and my friend asked if we had heard of Warren Wilson College near Asheville. I didn’t give it much more thought but the small one started researching and soon, we had a request from her to make a visit back to Asheville in the autumn so she could see the campus in person. Long story short, we’re back in Asheville for our 3rd visit because in 143 days, we will be returning with the small one and her luggage to help her start the next phase of her life, making a home and getting an education in one of the most beautiful settings in the south.

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We’re back for a second visit to the school now that they have committed to each other. While she was hanging out, making a few new friends and learning a little more about her future home, I took to the trails. With 25 miles of trail around the 900 acre campus, I had plenty to choose from. I thought I’d go for a run. I felt like I should run. I needed to run. But as my shoes hit the dirt I realized that my head and/or my heart was not in it. My thoughts were racing and I suppose my heart was much heavier than my feet. I found myself watching the flow of the Swannanoa River beside me, trying to find the peace that should be there.

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Isn’t that why I love being outside? Normally, that’s where I find my peace. I watched my feet on the dirt and I had to wonder if she would be here in my steps a few months from now, searching for that peace. When classes are overwhelming, when there are roommate issues, when there is boy trouble,  when her heart feels like mine does right now, will she ground herself in this beautiful creation and find what I have often found there? Will she quench her thirst at the spring of mother nature?

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I hope she does. I dream she does. And that hope lightens my load. So I start running…

Smells Like Trail Spirit

Somewhere in a discussion thread about 100k runs, trail karma, and borrowed socks, the phrase “smells like trail spirit” was uttered. Rather it was typed as the discussion was via social media, the avenue of choice for most discussions these days. Borrowed socks, especially socks that were borrowed during a trail ultra-marathon, should probably be washed before being returned to their original owner lest they return with the smell of trail spirit lingering like the cloud that surrounds the Peanuts character, Pig-Pen.

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I have been on the receiving end of the -returned socks- equation several times lately. I loaned a spare pair of  dry socks to my friend Cassandra during the Sylamore 25K when she got blisters. She washed the trail spirit out of them and promptly returned them to me, fresh and bundled with a “thank you very much for saving some of my skin from rubbing off and leaving me lame a week before my first marathon.” Socks are an important component in the arsenal.

 

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I was standing amidst a few of my fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers who were manning the social media booth for the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show when Ashley sauntered up beside me and handed me a plastic water bottle and a pair of socks. I stood there for a moment, trying to puzzle out the best way to store my returned goodies. In my head it made perfect sense to store the socks inside the water bottle to conserve space. Then I realized the company I was in. Now out on the trail, post long-run or long-ride, if someone hands me a pair of socks I’m going to store them in the most space efficient way possible, no matter what. But I figured not one of my blogger buds, save Ashley who would probably do the same, wanted to see me put my socks in my water bottle. Why? Because socks smell like trail spirit, water bottles do not, and no one wants a water bottle that smells like trail spirit.

 

 

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

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My own attachment to Red Ryder began long before Ralphie’s mom responded to his Christmas wish, “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!” with “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”  When I was a little girl, my dad collected films from the 1940’s and 1950’s. He owned an extensive collection of serial Westerns, like Red Ryder and Little Beaver, Gene Autry, Zorro and Lash LaRue.

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During a trip to Rogers, Arkansas last year, we visited the Daisy Airgun Museum which houses decades of Daisy memorabilia. Displays chronicle the company’s early days of  manufacturing windmill blades in Plymouth, Michigan at the end of the 19th century before switching to making air rifles in 1886. The company enjoyed the success of manufacturing BBs and selling promotional novelties as the age of Hollywood gave them a national audience not to mention their part in  manufacturing for the war effort in the 1940s.  The small museum is located in the lovely downtown square at 114 South First Street, the address the museum has called home since 2000.  The company’s ties to Northwest Arkansas began in 1958 when manufacturing moved from Michigan to a Rogers plant.

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Times, they do not change, even in the 1930’s when movies like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century were popular, kids and adults bought up toys, lunchboxes, books and novelty items based on the movie. That included the Atomic Pistol, made by Daisy. The company continued its close relationship with Hollywood producing the Red Ryder BB gun during the 1940’s, except for the three years when Daisy used their metal and manufacturing expertise for the war effort. In 1949 the company sold more than a million Red Ryder BB guns, a phenomenal sales record for the time. As I walked through the museum’s display of movie posters and models, I was transported back to my own childhood. Ralphie wanted to be like his hero from the big screen. I watched the movies with my dad, wanting to be like his hero from the big screen.

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I went for a run through town the day after we visited the museum. I couldn’t help but stop to snap a photo of the Red Ryder window mural, one more moment of nostalgia, reliving those Saturday nights when we’d set up the retractable projector screen and pop the corn.

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Spring Break is coming up. If you’re planning to be in Northwest Arkansas, perhaps visiting Crystal Bridges, take a couple of hours to visit the historic downtown square in Rogers and the Daisy Airgun Museum. Find more to do on the Visit Rogers Blog. Share your memories with the young ones and build a few new ones.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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My Everything Hurts

My friend Stephanie turned her head as we ran down the trail during the Sylamore 25K and said, “My everything hurts.” I knew exactly what she meant. Some days there are those runs when there is not a specific pain, no calf cramp or side stitch, not a burning hamstring or a blister. There are days when so much hurts that the pain can not be specified.

I have claimed in the past that I would never run a road marathon yet found myself attempting a third road marathon within 65 days this past weekend. For marathon #1, the starting temp was right at freezing but the day warmed up to the 50s and partly cloudy. For #2 the weather was slightly colder and stayed cold but we did have a little sunshine. On the morning of #3, the temperature was 56 degrees when we arrived in the parking lot about 45 minutes before start time. By start time the temperature had started to fall. By the time our corral made it to the starting line 45 minutes after start time, the temps had fallen about 15 degrees, there was a cold spitting rain, the winds had picked up, and we had stood shoulder to shoulder for nearly an hour. We were cold, our muscles were tight and we couldn’t wait to get moving. Ashley and I had looked forward to the day, our 3rd of 3 marathons we needed to become Marathon Maniacs, a goal she set for herself and I agreed to join to share the joy of her journey. Rain, cold, sleet or wind would not stop us from reaching the goal. We set off at a pace that was a bit ahead of our earlier finish time paces. We agreed that we would also try to limit our stops and not stop to take photos or chat with friends as we had been prone to do in our previous races. This was the race we’d been looking forward to, this was to be the crown.

We're off!

We’re off!

Every few miles we would see my sweet hubby who was riding his bike around the course taking photos and checking on us. We also ran into our friend Christine who was out cheering her spouse and his pace group, the one we meant to be in but got in front of at the start.

Hi! Can I stop for a kiss?

Hi! Can I stop for a kiss?

By mile 12 the temperature had dropped 20 degrees, the wind was gusting up to 20mph, and we were wet. I’m not going to say we were all happy happy joy joy, but we were still determined to finish and told each other that we could take it easier in the hills of the Heights neighborhood that were coming up. Then as we rounded a corner, we saw a policeman jump out of his car so quickly he left the door open and he began yelling at us to stop. We were right at a point where the half marathon was heading down for their last mile to the finish line. The policeman told us the course was closing due to severe weather and we were to immediately go to the finish line. We only got to complete 14+ miles. We went to the finish, collected our unearned medals, and in our disappointed and unbelieving state, wandered past all the people celebrating their finishes with photos and cheers and sat huddled under the only protection we could find from the wind and rain for 30 minutes while waiting on a ride. We had nowhere to go since we were forced to  finish in less than half the time we projected. I could not think of how to comfort Ashley. We sat shivering in the cold, our fingers frozen, still in a bit  of denial of the day’s events. My everything hurt, including my heart.

Upon reflection, though that moment of being handed the giant medal was undeserved and unearned,  it was also unimportant.  I have  a wonderful experience of my very first road marathon to hold on to. I have a great weekend of travel that included a big batch of off-site cheerleading from my sweet blogger friend Delta Moxie and a wonderful finish to my second marathon with Ashley. And this weekend, I got to spend an afternoon with my friend, shopping and talking at the marathon expo where we met the badass  mother runners who were so funny and encouraging.

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We heard Bart Yasso share some stories, inspiring us to continue seeking adventure, not just finish lines and had our moments of “ohmygod Bart Yasso just retweeeted us!”. We had a beautiful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants before crawling into bed. I spent the next morning running with my favorite running partner and fellow porta potty enthusiast. It may not have ended the way we planned but that doesn’t diminish the journey.

The Trifecta

The Trifecta

Amen.

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