Frenetic Fitness

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

Give a Little Bit



Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
Send a smile and show you care ~ Supertramp

One week from today is Giving Tuesday. For weeks we’ve been inundated with advertisements for Black Friday, which seems to be Black Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday these days, and Cyber Monday. The media and corporate retailers have convinced us that we need several $100 40 inch TVs in our homes. We need these things so much we are willing to stay up all night in line, trample over our neighbors, and act like deranged fools to get to those things a few bucks cheaper than buying it on any other day. But this isn’t the soapbox I want to be on today. Tuesday December 2nd is a chance to give back after all the getting of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a global celebration of generosity. While our eyes are open to needs around the world, we often fail to see the need of our own neighbors. They are not in the national news, you will not see their plight played out on television. They are single parents who need a hand through the Single Parent Scholarship Fund and the kids who benefit from AR Kids Read, helping Arkansans reach their educational goals and intellectual potential. They are our aging kin who get help from the Project Compassion as they live out their lives in nursing homes. They are the kids who benefit from Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch and Big Brothers Big Sisters. They are my sweet friends at World Services for the Blind who are making a huge difference in the lives of visually impaired adults.

I first became involved with World Services when I found out they had a group of runners. I tried to get involved by leading blind or visually impaired runners at organized race events. They also meet twice a week to run, about thirty minutes before I get off work and it was impossible to join in the weekly runs making it more difficult to lead during races. Instead I started volunteering to take on the duties of shopping guide on Thursdays at the Target near my house. It should have been easy, a couple of hours of my day at a place I probably had an errand to run anyway. But, I found myself making excuses like it’s at the same time as my favorite yoga class or there’s this other event I want to attend. This weekend I found out that they have had to cancel that day of shopping for lack of volunteers. It made my heart sink. I failed my fellow-man. This Tuesday is my chance to make it up to them and to myself by committing my time and my money to people who deserve my time and my attention not because of what I can give them, but because of what being with them does for me. It is utterly selfish, the opposite of what people think volunteering is. One of WSB’s clients, a PhD animal scientist who is losing his sight, once asked me why I volunteered to shop with them. It took me less than five seconds to answer “because how else would I get to meet all these cool people?”

Take the chance to make a difference on Giving Tuesday. There are many ways to Share the Bounty, as P. Allen Smith would say. You can find many of them on the Arkansas Non-Profit Alliance  #GivingTuesdayAR facebook page.

College: It’s always something

Mac Fail

This morning I got a call from the small one, not terribly unusual, she texts or calls quite often. Today she was in a panic that she had fried her Mac desktop. I’m no good at tech support and I’m really no good at Mac tech support. The incident led to a discussion about the very good, very fast, very reliable and very heavy laptop her grandparents gave her for Christmas last  year. It’s so heavy that she’s having difficulty lugging it around campus and she’d like to have a smaller notebook. We aren’t even to her first winter break yet and I can tell we are headed into four years of issues that will require the shuffling of money and reorganization of our payment plan for college. Fortunately I recently attended a day long session about the Arkansas 529 college savings plan also known as The GIFT Plan. Less fortunate is the fact that I have not made the most of that savings option over the years I’ve had the account. I’ve heard stories of parents completely funding their children’s higher education and even having funds left over while taking advantage of being able to deduct their principal deposits to the account off their Arkansas state tax returns. I have not come close to saving that much, but this weekend I learned that I can still take advantage of many of the benefits while saving as she’s still in school.

Four year university study has been the choice of all our kids, the youngest is just beginning her journey. Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn 62% more than peers with a high school diploma. But, if any of them had shown interest in a trade or apprenticeship program, we would have encouraged that too. The beauty of the GIFT Plan is that it will help save for many education options including trade school, community college and traditional university study. There is easy online enrollment.

I’ve done some things right, I’ve used the option of saving through Upromise and shopping through the website when I make purchases online. I wish I would have set up more regular deposits into the account to build principal faster. I also wish I had asked friends and family to make contributions to their future with UGift on birthdays, holidays and special occasions.


For many of them it would have helped with their tax savings while doing something good for us. One of the many benefits of the GIFT Plan is the Arkansas state tax deduction and estate tax advantages.

“If you’re an Arkansas taxpayer, you can deduct up to $5,000 (up to $10,000 for married couples) of your GIFT Plan contributions from your Arkansas adjusted gross income.
You can contribute up to $14,000 (up to $28,000 for married couples) per designated beneficiary each year to your GIFT Plan account without incurring federal gift tax consequences. And you can contribute up to $70,000 per designated beneficiary in a single year (up to $140,000 for married couples) to take advantage of five years’ worth of federal tax-free gifts at one time. Withdrawals used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal income tax, so more of your savings can go toward paying for college instead of toward taxes.” from the GIFT Plan 

My plan for the next few years is to save as much as I can in my 529 account. I also plan to give every new mom I know an information packet and a check to start an account for their new little bundle of joy.  I’m going to shop through Upromise to get cash back on the purchase of the long-johns the kid needs because it’s colder where she is than it is here at home and then I’ll research laptops through the cash back options on RewardU through Upromise that includes vendors like the Apple Store, HP, and Best Buy.

 I participated in a free educational financial planning workshop sponsored by the Arkansas State Treasury and Arkansas529, but all opinions and recommendations in this post are my own.






Wordless Wednesday


Peace Beneath the Stars

Sixty-one days after we drove away from the Sunderlin Hall dorms and the campus of our youngest child’s college home, the child returned home and she and I were sitting in camp chairs beside a fire that took far too long to build and stoke. We roasted hotdogs and talked about all that has transpired in the sixty-one days since we last sat down to eat dinner together. There was no wait staff, no noise from the kitchen, I wasn’t busy running back and forth between the stove and the table. Serenaded by the crackle and pop of the fire, we marveled at the sizzle of the grease droplets as the hot dogs oozed down to the burning wood and anticipated the much looked forward to ceremony of The Blowing Out of the Fiery Marshmallows. We needed this because sometimes in our hustle and bustle world it’s necessary to stop and listen to nothing more than the crackle of the fire and to each other. We were hoping to find a piece of peace in our busy lives. What better place to find it than under the stars?

Want S'more?

Want S’more?

We were only an hour from home, surrounded by the rich Ouachita National Forest and the Flatside Wilderness Area. Being the first weekend of muzzleloader season we were concerned enough to find a place to camp that is far off the Ouachita Trail, hoping to avoid most of the hunters.

The other girl of the house, our dog Hobo, was with us too. Luckily Hobo is not much of a barker. Most of her intrusions on the peace were due to us calling her back when she wandered a bit too far for comfort. We talked about school, studying, bonfires, creek swimming, classes, fear, roommates, jealousy, rats, bus schedules, the future, and cafeteria food. Just the normal conversations one has with a new college student.


Hammocks were hung, dog beds were made, fire was roaring, and it was just us girls with a few bugs, crawly critters, probably a few hunters not far away, and one scary something that half barked half screamed in the wee hours of the morning resulting in a barking dog with her fur up. She tried to crawl into the hammock with each of us in turn, but eventually the scaredy-dog went back to sleep in between her protectors.

We woke to a crisp fall morning. I made hot cocoa in no time with our trusty Jet-Boil. Then I got the bright idea to heat up our now stale donut holes in it. It worked. Hot stale donut holes were much better than cold stale donut holes.


We took our time packing up, planning to attempt a hike on the OT with an orange vest at the ready for the dog and orange flags for our backpacks. Alas, as we traveled down closer to the trailheads near Lake Sylvia we could tell by the number of vehicles and full campsites that the woods were full. We chose instead to follow the Flatside Wilderness Scenic Drive, much of which is familiar to me from the Full Moon 25/50K Trail Run and from our mountain bike forays in the area. The roads are rough, the hills are steep, and driving can be a challenge. I let the small one take the driver’s seat and we drove on, stopping at the overlooks to check out the views. We talked about “going off the grid” and living a less hectic lifestyle. I doubt that will ever be in the cards for me, but for my kids, I hope they find a way to escape if not as a full-time lifestyle, at least on occasion. How else will they find peace?





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.


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.


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.



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.




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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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?



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.


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.




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.



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