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Archive for November, 2009

And The Winner Is…

Thanks to everyone who posted yummy recipes as entries in The Contest.  We got a great variety and I believe that with the wonderful Weight Watchers Online, I’ll be able to put recipes into the system and have the computer spit the points right back out at me!  Can’t wait to try that. 

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for.  The Winner of the Contest is…

Lainey, the plastic cheese-wrapper gal!

Helaine, just let me know if you’d rather have the awesome running socks (I’ll need your size) or the awesome Pampie Chef mix-n-chop.  I’ll get it and send it ASAP. 

Thanks again to everybody for participating.  As we make these recipes in our test kitchen here at Land of the Happy Family, we’ll post comments and feedback and points and fun stuff about them.  That’s the plan, anyway. 

 

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Running Shoes: BEFORE

So here’s the thing. 

I had this whole post planned with the title:  You Don’t Expect Me to Run Up THAT, Do You?  And the post was about the Wild Wild Wilderness Run hosted by the Kennekuk Road (and must.not.forget.the.TRAIL) Runners a couple months ago. 

That trail featured 7.55 miles of pure running torture.  (So terrible that I plan on running it again in the arctic weather we surely can expect during the Sibearn Express on January 2, 2010.)  Seriously, though.  It was terrible.  There was a nearly vertical hill that only mountain goats or really nimble deer should ever be expected to climb, one that hugged an earth wall and where a single step to the left would leave a person pummeling hundreds of yards to their demise in a thornbush-infested ravine.  There were three or four miles of challenging, but bearable terrain that initiated the uninitiated WWW trail runner.  Then (surprise, newbie!) the turn-off to the hill-from-hell.  Only to be followed by three or four miles more  of Really. Hard. Trail Running. 

Now, I love running hills.  But these weren’t people-hills.  They were animal-only hills.  And those super-runners who could just prance up them with ease–well, I’m astounded by those people.  They need a special category of fitness just for them.

As for me, I was so proud of Finishing Without Dying that I floated along on that experience for quite some time.  It mattered very little to me that I was near the Very End of the pack.  I was thrilled beyond words to have finished on my feet instead of a stretcher.

So that was the essence of the post I was going to write.  Because that was the craziest trail I’d run so far.  Until today.

Today I was introduced, quite accidentally, to the Backpack Trail at Forest Glen.  I personally believe they call this the Backpack Trail because most normal humans would need to bring camping supplies (or at least a meal!) in order to traverse the sucker, because it takes SO LONG and is SO HARD to finish this monster of a trail.

Now the introduction to the trail was only partially accidental, I confess.  Because I planned to do the 4.5 mile trail.  You know, the “this-11-mile-trail-intimidates-me-so-I-want-a-shorter-version-of-the-Backpack-Trail” trail.  What I did NOT plan to do was the 11 mile version of the Backpack Trail. 

Had I completed the 4.5 mile version, I’d still have had plenty of material to share with you, believe-you-me.  But the fact that just one teensy-weensy turn to the left rather than the right had us move our bodies over 11 miles of terrain instead of 4.5 miles is just plain wicked.  Indeed, we made the left vs. right decision because some Very Helpful (sadistic) Campers advised us that everyone had headed toward the left.  Thank you campers. 

What followed was an adventure that my two running buddies and I certainly had not anticipated.  We were told that we’d be heading over a creek.  Indeed, we headed over multiple creeks.  “Creek” is a highly subjective term, apparently.  I’m thinking, it’s a little thing you can hop over.  Nope.  It’s several big things that, even if you don’t fall off the slippery rocks that pose as steps across the current, you’re going to be wading in the water at least up to your ankles.  (Before you Florida readers think me a wimp, now, please remember that it was 33 degress when I got in the car to drive to this adventure!). 

And there were hills.  So many hills.  This trail wasn’t playing.  And let’s not forget that it’s been raining for, like, 952 days straight here in Central Illinois, so it was Mud City everywhere we went.  Read that:  No Traction.  Slip-N-Slides are fun when you’re eight and in your front yard with your neighbor buddies.  When you’re 43 years-old and trying to find footing climbing up a Monster Mud Hill, there are few humans that would call the exercise fun. 

Indeed, as we got to the bottom of our 382nd hill (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) we stopped thinking, “surely this is the last big hill we have to deal with” and started thinking, “surely this stinking trail has to end at some point.” 

Who knew that any trail, anywhere in the known universe could have So Many Gigantic Up’s and Gigantic Downs?  One after the other.  (Of course, happily interspersed with flowing creeks throughout.)

And the downhills.  I believe they were even worse than the uphills.  I’d always had the strategy of running on the downhills whenever possible.  It’s just that it was Very Rarely possible on this Sadist Trail.  The first bad boy that we faced, I remember clearly thinking that we’d taken a wrong turn.  People aren’t supposed to go straight down hills that steep with NO earth on either side.  Just a little mountain goat path straight down with an occasional tree mercifully situated for holding-on-for-dear-life on the downward descent.  I remember thinking after that first hill that the worst was behind us.  HA HA HA HA HA.  No.

All three of us in our brave little what-in-the-blazes-are-we-doing-out-here-without-a-GPS-or-a-cell-phone party fell nicely on our touckases at least once during the adventure.  We kept a good eye-out for each other and never got too far apart while out there.   We learned the difference between a shriek of  “Woo Hoo!” (“We’re awesome!  Look what we’re doing!”) and a shriek of “Woo Hoo!” (“Heaven help me, I’ve just fallen into the biggest mud pit in a five state region!”).  We learned the difference between this-hurts and this-sucks-but-let’s-keep-going-because-we-still-have-daylight.  And we most certainly learned to love the signs with the little red arrows and how to look for the red splotches on lots of trees. 

Most of all, we learned that there was more within us than any of us bargained for when we set out to Forest Glen for a little run one cold Saturday morning in November.  We learned we could do it.  At least for me, I surprised myself that I could do it.  And any one of us could have gone the 13.1 half marathon distance–so we learned that we were able to do that too!  I had another chance to give one something that had intimidated me a beat-down.  And we were blessed with the commraderie, the friendship, that comes from battling those stinking hills and creeks and elements together. 

Overall, it certainly was a day worth having.  Maybe even a day worth repeating.  A great adventure by some unlikely adventurerers.  And a great achievement by some tough-as-nails women who, though total newbies, were ready and willing to give it our all.  And we did. 

Three other Very Important Points: 

1.  Hats off to the Kennekuk Road (and Trail) Runners who gave every one of us a round of applause as we staggered off the trail.  These Super Runners had been done for well over an hour, but were still glad to cheer on the lost-little-newbies that somehow finished that 11 mile beast without dying! 

2.  My trail shoes are now officially trail shoes.  Here’s the after picture: 

Shoes: AFTER

3.  WW Activity Points mean I can EAT after today.  Yes!

4.  I’m certain I’ve forgot to mention much more than what’s been said here already.  I’m sure you’ll get more tidbits as the days and weeks move on…

For now, here’s proof of the mud: 

Muddy!

And proof of the buds:

We Made It!

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Photo Credit

Just a reminder, Sunday is the last day submit your recipes for our Contest. 

The How (guidelines) of the Contest can be found and entries can be submitted HERE.

The Why (desperate plea for help) for the Contest can be found HERE

The drawing for The Prize will be held on and the winner will be announced on Monday. 

 

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Poor HH.  He tries.  He really does. 

Thanksgiving is a Very Challenging Day for someone trying to lose weight.  And for me, it was my third day on Weight Watchers.  It was also a day I elected to go on a 10-mile run in the morning.  My master plan was to earn enough Activity Points to enjoy my feast guilt free.  Which indeed, I did.

So the Morning After the Thanksgiving Feast is always met with at worst, trepidation, and at best, curiosity.  At least by me.  And Friday morning is my weigh in day, so there wa no avoiding the trip to Scale City.

I got on the scale and…to my total delight, I’d LOST WEIGHT!  3.6 pounds.  Yippie!  In fact, I even lost weight over Thanksgiving Day, and I assure you, I ate plenty. 

Image Credit

Yes, I know that the first week or so of a new diet causes you to lose “water weight” and it’s not the same as losing actual blubber.  But remember, my master plan is to have less literal weight to carry around with me during my marathon in February.  It matters little whether I’m carrying 3.6 pounds of water or 3.6 pounds of fat or 3.6 pounds of pixie dust.  It takes more effort to carry 3.6 pounds of anything than it does to travel without it. 

So, delighted, I walk back into the bedroom and make my announcement to Happy Family.  Princess and Ninja were delighted, though they had the good sense to refrain from suggesting that we go out for Dairy Queen to celebrate. 

Helpful Husband was very happy for me.  In fact, HH was so happy that he had just a little short-circuit in the compliment-and-encouragement section of his brain.  Yes, he complimented me all right.  And you can be the judge as to whether it was better or worse than the last time.

Here’s how it went down:

HH:  Wow, honey.  That’s really great!  (This would have been a fine place for him to stop encouraging.)

Me:  Thanks!  I’m SO excited about it!

HH:  And you did all that in just three days.

Me:  Yes!

HH:  You know, you’ve lost more weight in the last three days than you did in over six months and almost 500 miles of running.

[Long pause as HH and I both ponder his last statement.  And his fate.]

Me:  Did you really just say that?

HH:  I was trying to compliment you.

Me:  Is that what that was?

HH:  I really am happy for you.

Me:  [sighing]  I know.  Thanks.

Epilogue:  In appreciation for this compliment, I spent the remainder of the day being Helpful Wife and announcing the point value of everything that HH was putting in his mouth.  It was the least I could do.  🙂

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Yesterday was a wonderful family day.

Yesterday was a 10-mile run day. 

Today is a Rest Day. 

Who knew after you’re 40 your body does most of its hard work when you’re actually resting

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Ahhhh.  Life is good.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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I am planning on celebrating this holiday in the same way I celebrate everything special these days:  by going for a run!  I have a 10-miler scheduled for this weekend, so since I have no intention of hauling this body through the fine streets of our little community while full of the feast I fully intend to devour later today, I opted to get out there and go before our family meal. 

It’s supposed to be rainy and snowy.  What a wonderful mess!  I sure hope it stays that way. 

So, in lieu of Long Run Friday, Presenting…Long Run Thursday!

Away we go!

THE PLAN:  10 mile run today.  Gotta try and get done early enough to be useful for the Thanksgiving preparations. 

PREDICTION:  Awesome, of course.

THE REALITY:  To be determined.  I’ll update you all afterwards, assuming I survive.

[UPDATE]:

Awesome 10 mile run in 37 degree drizzly weather!  I was able to finish at my 5 mile pace, which surprised me a lot, since I didn’t look at my watch the entire time.  Also didn’t need to stop at Mom’s HalfWay House Potty Stop, just kept right on running the entire way!  Definitely needed the trail shoes (cold, rain) and the gloves and thermal headband today!

Also tried out a hydration belt, which worked pretty well, but I’ve got to figure out an easier way to snap those little bottles back into their carriers.  It was great having my hands free and still having access to fluids and my beans. 

I keep thinking about how grateful I am that my family has made it possible for me to get out there and go on these long runs.  I couldn’t do this training without their support.  Just so much to be thankful for.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thankgiving, full of the people, places, things and memories for which you’re truly grateful!

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Some Days…

Photo Credit

Some days I run for all the right reasons.

Some days I run so I don’t kill people.

Running is cheaper than therapy. 

And safer for my PITs (Pains in The Tail) than knitting, my other stress-reliever.  (If you’ve ever seen size 2, 12″ straight knitting needles, you’d know exactly what I mean by this.)

I had these deep thoughts during a rest day.  Go figure.

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