Respect the 13.1

A funny thing happened recently. Okay, maybe not haha funny. Or maybe not really funny at all, maybe more of an anomaly. I had not been running as much as I like to in the warmer summer months and then I signed up to run a trail half marathon. Rather my guy & I signed up to run a half marathon. We had tossed this idea around for a while but didn’t commit until maybe six weeks before the race.

Having done five halves over the past three or four years this wasn’t a super intimidating thing for me. Still, I’d prefer to be physically and mentally ready for a challenge of that magnitude. I said as much a few times leading up to race weekend but my schedule was just crazy. Three weeks before the race I was up to around 20 miles a week but then the next two weeks got extra crazy; I was only able to get four runs in…over two weeks. I know tapering before a big race is part of a lot of training plans but that only works when you actually have a training plan.

My guy was preparing for the half even less than I was. In the past he’s been able to go out and do some pretty tough races without batting an eye even though he doesn’t run regularly. A lot of the time he has more energy and speed than I do even when I am running often. It’s super annoying!!!

We’ve done lots of basic 5ks, some 10ks, a couple “doublers” or 15ks including a brutal trail 15. Earlier this year we had a back to back races with an easy 5k on Saturday and a not so easy 5 mile trail race early Sunday. He still killed the 5 mile trail run; I struggled a bit. (Like I said, it’s super annoying.)

A half marathon is different though; 13.1 miles feels like a lot more than even a 15k. I mean, it is. More than just 4 miles, 13.1 is a different level of mental challenge and stamina. It requires at least a little preparation!

But life is…life and preparation did not happen. The exact opposite of preparation happened. (Negative preparation? Reverse preparation? De-preparation? Idk. One of those.)

The day before the early August trail half marathon my guy had a golf tournament for work. No big deal. Except that he was out in the sun all day, drank more than is smart the day before a long race in the hot sun, and probably didn’t eat very well either. See, negative preparation!

Saturday morning come 6 A.M we were trying to get out the door for the race and he was not feeling so hot. Using all my previous experience and half marathon knowledge I told him to eat a decent breakfast and hydrate like hell on the way to the race. Oh, and to let me set the pace. He’d never make it if he set off at his usual race pace. (Heck, I wouldn’t make it either.)

Of course we were later than we wanted to be getting to the course. We started towards the back of the crowd and the first couple miles guy trapped in a group. The narrow trail made passing a challenge. Maybe that was a good thing though, it gave us time to find a nice, steady running groove. By the fourth mile the crowd had thinned out a bit and we were able to settle in at a slower but okay pace.

The course wound around the outside of the state park including some short road segments. There weren’t many hills other than a good sized one somewhere around mile four but the trail surface itself required some attention while running. There were a lot of pits and uneven areas which kept the pace a little slower.

In a trail race if it’s not the hills slowing you down it’s the terrain.

Somewhere between miles 7 and 9 the lack of preparation started to show. Well, for my guy they did. He was really starting to slow down. I was being a good girlfriend and mostly staying with him, trying to encourage him along. In a half marathon the last three or four miles are the toughest. Besides, I didn’t really have any goals for this race. Because I was running this half marathon without really training the goal was to have fun and finish.

My efforts to make this half marathon thing a more pleasant thing for my boyfriend dropped off sharply right around the ten mile marker. I was stuck behind a cluster of runners we had been back and forth with for two miles because I had slowed down to stay with my guy. (First time ever that I was feeling better and faster during a race than he was.) I turned my head to see something behind me and BAM! My foot hit something and I went down, skidding on the dirt trail.

I jumped up, super mad, and assessed the situation. Blood running down my right leg, dirt everywhere but mostly okay. My boyfriend and another runner were asking if I was alright. I responded briefly, yanked a dangling piece of skin off my scraped and bloody knee and took off. No more of this slowing down and waiting around thing, it was time to finish this race!

While I wouldn’t call my last three miles fast, they were definitely quicker than the previous few. I finished the race alone and went straight to the first aid tent to get the dirt dug out of my wound.

By the time that was done my guy was crossing the finish line. I had had plans to find him in that last terrible mile but the timing just wasn’t right.

One of the first things he said to me is “That was brutal!” And then maybe I’m not doing that again any time soon.

I think we both learned something that day: You’ve got to respect the 13.1!

Advertisements

Banned to the Basement: Home Renovations, part whatever

Progress is being made. Right now someone is sanding and refinishing my hardwood floors. Floors someone hid under carpet and peel & stick vinyl. In the past week we managed to peel up that vinyl and mostly remove the adhesive, paint a room, and move our entire living room.

20180826_133208

Peeling with a heat gun and a scraper

20180826_143616

All the vinyl is up just adhesive left

20180826_154825

The end product. We cleaned as best we could with mineral spirits

20180901_151051

Just beginning and a little freaked out I chose such a dark color

20180901_164051

1st coat and it was blotchy with the former chair rail clearly visible. eek!

20180903_091827

End product. Everything covered up and evened out. Whew!

We’re cruising along but, right now, I’m stuck. Stuck in the partially finished basement with my boyfriend and three cats. And those cats did not go easy.

I spent the morning, before my first cup of coffee, chasing one cat around the house after he got loose when I tried to close him in the basement. He is freaked out very easily and upon figuring out we were trying to sequester him he jumped a baby gate and plowed through what I thought was a closed door. It was a process but he is safely hiding under a couch in the basement. Finally.

bathroom-renovations-kitty-5

While one is hiding the other 2 cats want to be where the action is 

My living room floor is being worked on which means I can’t get anywhere in my house. Not the full bathroom (yes, thankfully, we have a half bath in the basement), or the bedroom, or my office. This is why everyone is stuck in the basement. I can get into the kitchen but because there is not a door to the basement the area is being blocked by two the of cheapest baby gates I could find. Cheap baby gate means pain in the ass to use! So I’m not going through them unless expressly necessary. But, it’s not terrible. We have a tv and couch down here. Plus a twin air mattress. And more reading material than I could possibly finish. It would almost be like a vacation if the sound of sanding wasn’t so distracting. After all there’s not much I can do down here.

17962b4cde46978048d5978b157ebd1e

Tomorrow I go back to work and hopefully the floor project will wrap up. By Thursday evening I’m hoping to actually be able to walk on it and get to the shower & bedroom. By Friday I should be able to put furniture back where it belongs and start organizing my house again…at least a little. I still have a living room to paint!

 

 

Spackling dust, the new dry shampoo

The home renovations continue. Those lazy bastards (aka the former home owners) have struck again. I was prepping our extra room for painting. Patching where I removed the chair rail, sanding, and re-patching.

20180821_173859

That’s not blurry, it’s dust floating in the air. What a mess!!

20180821_173954

My post sanding look. Old chemistry goggles are good for something!

Finally I was ready for one last wall and ceiling wash. I noticed as I was washing the ceiling that there were TWO colors up there. Very similar colors so I never noticed before but with my nose pressed up there to wash, it was clear, the lazy bastards didn’t bother to cut in when they painted. They just rolled to about 6 inches from the wall and stopped. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore but it still makes me roll my eyes.

9039fe81180a3743952ce54fcc36bf87

We also are removing carpet in our living room. The hardwood floors will be sanded and refinished next week. Who covers hardwood with shitty carpet in the first place?! However, as we removed, we found another surprise.

20180825_110941

We hadn’t swept yet. So much dirt under carpet!

Someone had stuck peel and stick vinyl flooring over the hardwood to create an “entry way.” It’s awful. Today’s project is going to be trying to peel it all up. That’ll be a good time, I’m sure.

At least we have supervisors who keep their opinion to themselves.

20180825_130804

Keeping an eye on the progress

The Great Birthday Backpacking Adventure: Day 3

I know it’s been a hot minute since I (finally) posted about days 1 & 2 of my early June backpacking trip along the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; time gets away from me and the summer days are packed with both fun and obligatory happenings. Hopefully you haven’t been holding your breath in anticipation of a conclusion after reading about Day 1 and Day 2. (If you’ve been a regular here you definitely know better. We’re very slow but steady eventual bloggers.)

The second night of the trip we camped in an area called Mosquito River. As I said, that was not a misnomer. The camping spot was basically a mini campground with designated spots and a very rustic outhouse (which was still better than having to dig a hole in the ground). It was right on the Mosquito River in a lush, brilliantly green forest.

Day three’s hike started here with some more mini bluffs and a steep uphill climb. Both Adventure Guy and myself were well rested and ready to go after another breakfast of oatmeal and insta coffee. With only ten or eleven miles left to Munising Falls we knew we’d be done hiking by the end of the day. That put a little extra pep in our steps. Not that we weren’t enjoying this adventure but I, for one, was looking forward to hot showers and cold beer. The fierce hoard of mosquitoes that began swarming as soon as we hit the trail added to our motivation to move quickly.

After a few minutes of hiking and probably half a can of bug spray we stopped so I could put on one of the head nets we picked up on our way up North. The guy didn’t want his…or any bug spray at first (he did cave on the bug spray after a few more minutes of fighting the swarms). Mosquito Valley spanned the first four or so miles of the day. Apparently there’s also a Mosquito Falls but we decided not to take the detour to see it. The bugs along with the lure of showering and hot food played heavily in that decision. (Maybe we’ll get back up there sometime soon for some more hiking. The area really is amazing.)

We stopped as infrequently as possible on this patch of trail. Finally, after close to an hour and a half, we emerged from the trail into a parking lot with freshly cleaned porta-jons. I never thought I’d be so happy to see one of those things but they were so clean and the bugs couldn’t get in. There was a great little boat launch here (not a small launch, rather a launch for small boats like kayaks or canoes). On the other side of the parking lot the woods began thinning a bit and soon the shore of Lake Superior was in view again. Miner’s Beach was a short mile from there and finally we were out of the high intensity bug zone. What a relief that was!

When we got to the information center and “overlook” at Sand Point a few miles later a thick fog was rolling in. Like literally rolling in. We watched the view across the bay disappear.

It went from this…

…to this…

…and then this in maybe five minutes. Maybe.

And as you can see by the angle of the trees in those pictures the wind was picking up too; rain was about to happen. Despite our hunger, the shelters, & running water available we decided to just grab a quick snack and keep moving. There was some debate over whether or not to break out rain gear; jackets, but not rain pants (actually I was already wearing mine) were donned and we picked up the trail again as it headed back into the woods.

The ground was pretty wet throughout this last section of the trail (between Sand Point & Munising Falls). Some of the very muddy areas had boardwalk but much of it had a variety of branches, rocks, & tree debris to hop and step across if you wanted to avoid the thick black mud. And believe me, you wanted to avoid that mud! I did a so-so job of it and was damp and muddy from almost my knees down.

Along with mud and seemingly younger forest in this section there were these awesome fern sprawls. They looked like something straight out of Jurassic Park…

resized_20180603_1330201540471221.jpeg

Can’t you just imagine a T-Rex photo shopped into the background?

The last three miles of the day (and the trip) seemed to take forever, partially because cautiously picking a path over the muddy spots slowed us down. Sometime in this stretch it started to rain. It wasn’t too cold but we definitely ended up thoroughly drenched. Adventure Guy and I agreed that if this wasn’t our last day of backpacking the rain would really suck! As it was we were kind of enjoying it; it added to the sense of adventure as we trudged through the very wet woods.

Another cool feature of this leg of the journey was the waterfalls. There were so many of them! And a lot of them were very tall. While there are a couple falls noted on the map, most of these were not marked or named. They were just out there along the trail.

Sometimes the trail went right along the edge of the falls. It was crazy and somewhat intimidating for someone who doesn’t exactly love heights (such as myself).

That tree on the right is growing straight up out of the ravine.

It’s hard to tell but the line of yellow moss is the cliff edge. All that other stuff was waaay down there!

At the very end of the trail there was a detour. That was quite the disappointment because we were having a debate over where the North Country trail came out at the Munising Falls visitor center. I thought we might hike right behind the falls where we saw the frozen falls back in February but the guy thought we might pop out right by the visitors center. I guess we’ll have to go back to see someday because we were directed out of the woods and onto a small stretch of road that put us in the visitors center parking lot.

And finally we were done!

I was hoping to get to the visitors center in time to stamp our National Parks passports… We just missed it. By maybe two minutes, probably less. There was still a park ranger inside but the doors were locked. This was our second near miss with the stamps at the Munising Falls visitor center.

I was pretty mad about not getting stamps and also very wet and tired. We threw all the soaked gear in the back of the car and turned up the heat. Sitting down on a cushioned seat felt amazingly luxurious.

We did it!!!

On day three we hiked from Mosquito River to Munising Falls, roughly 11 miles, for a total of 42 miles on the North Country Scenic trail (from Grand Marais to Munising) plus all the side run-offs for scenic overlooks and campsites… 45 miles of backpacking in three days.

Quick Little Baby Granny Square

I started a new job in February. With that came 3 pregnant bosses! They are all lovely ladies and it seemed like a good excuse to pick up the crochet hook again. Handmade gifts always go over really well. And those of you who crochet under how quickly a simple baby blanket can be whipped up. I finished this blanket first.

It was a nice slightly thicker wool yarn and I liked the colors. Simple, basic granny square pattern. I just alternated colors as I wanted.

I have a second baby blanket in the works. To be honest, I’ve been working on it for a few years. I got tired of the pattern and shoved in the closet where it sat for, well, a long time! But it’s a cute pattern and now I’m finally going to finish it! Here’s the work in progress:

And a cat. Because when you pull out the yarn the cats show up. 

The pattern can be found here. I have to complete the blanket this month to get it to it’s intended owner! Wish me luck.

Not the Time

It’s just shy of four-thirty in the morning; I’m sitting at work, a little bored. Some stray thought wanders across my idle mind, I’m not even sure what, and suddenly I want to know what her last post on Facebook was. Actually I just wanted to see her page in case there was something significant there. And then I felt a need to see what the last thing my sister posted on Facebook was. I need to know.

But knowing means I have to dig through all the other posts. The ones from people remembering her; the ones from the day of her memorial service, that emotional, hot Saturday a month ago (just about exactly). The ones in between too, in that dead period (pun only slightly intended), the void spanning the space before the memorial service. And, of course, the many many thoughtful, sad, tragic posts from friends, family, a community reeling in shock in the immediate aftermath of my sister’s sudden death.

But I’m at work. And it’s four-thirty in the morning.

This is not the time. I don’t have the space for what this look-back stirs up. It seems to be a theme of late.

Because I’m not the husband, not the parent, not the children, life allegedly moves on and fast. I’m not a part of the local community that may or may not be still coming together over the loss of their power house, my sister. I’m just out here on my own trying to carry on, politely thanking the few aberrant “I’m so sorry for your lost” type comments that occasionally trickle in.

There isn’t space for all the tears that refuse to stay in. They’re seeping out as I move from one place to the next. At work. At the grocery store. At the 4-H fair. Here, there, everywhere. But it’s not the time and this isn’t the place.

(This post is in relation to this…)

Humane Society Cat Cafe

I have previously posted photos of my own cats. Last week I had a day off with some friends and we decided to check out the Huron Valley Humane Society’s Cat Cafe, Tiny Lions. You pay to spend time with shelter cats and drink a coffee. It’s my kind of place. I took my camera just for fun too. And all the cats are adoptable. They do pretty well adopting cats out from the location with 2-3+ finding homes each week, usually older cats as well. These are some of the cats we spent some time with.

dsc_0717_4dsc_0707_4dsc_0694_5dsc_0700_5dsc_0708_4