The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

Fall

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Things have been a little rough around here the last couple weeks. So I thought I would lighten it up a little with a picture I took this past week.

Try not to overthink like I do…Why is there a field of pumpkins when Halloween is next week?? I guess that one is really not my problem…Instead I’ll enjoy the beauty of my second favorite season.

So enjoy this carefree post while it lasts… Stay tuned because next week might be a little dicey.

But as for today I am not slaying my demons. Tonight I’m going to a costume party. I can wear a mask and be someone else for awhile. Sometimes life can be frivolous and fun. My husband says that although there is no doubt I am crazy, I am the fun type of crazy.

Life is always an adventure! Enjoy the ride!

The real up north

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This past weekend we traveled to the farthest northern point of Wisconsin.

If you aren’t familiar with our state, we are located in the northern mid-west of the United States. We are surrounded by bodies of water on each border of our state, except our southern border which has Illinois. To the west, we have the Mississippi River. To the north, Lake Superior. To the east, Lake Michigan. With so many lakes, it is a wonderful place for fishing, sailing, and water sports of any kind. The diehards even go fishing on the lake’s ice on the coldest days of winter.

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Most of our population lives near our biggest cities of Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. It takes approximately 8 hours to drive from the southern most point to the northern and 5 hours from the farthest west to the east. A lot of our lakes are practically deserted…peaceful, serene, and quiet.

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Wisconsinners are very hardy folk by nature. We have to be to survive our winters. We are known for the Green Bay Packers, the Great Lakes, brats, and beer. Unfortunately, we are also known for being one of the drunkest states hosting some of the drunkest cities in the nation, if not world. Drinking is a huge part of our culture.

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The far northern portion of our state has a lot of wildlife not related to drinking. I captured a picture of Paul fishing. But in doing so, I may have gotten a little too close to an otter den. I was chased down in the water by hissing otters. I can’t say that ever happened to me before. We also saw deer that were too numerous to count. This part of our state tends to get the largest snowfalls and coolest temperatures.

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I love taking pictures of our state’s beauty. The northernmost part of our state is rugged and wild with the lowest population.

On the way home, we stopped for brunch at what was rumored the best restaurant in the county. It was almost a 2 hour wait, so we decided to skip brunch and headed towards home. It took us over an hour to find another restaurant. Was it the only restaurant in the county?? Gas stations and restaurants are scarce. But even rarer is good cell reception. You might be in trouble if you run out of gas on a snowy winter night without cell reception. Even the highway traffic is minimal. I think we saw more deer than cars.

But I would have to say, even though I’ve been to many beautiful places, that Wisconsin is still on the top of the list. I wanted to share that beauty with you.

Thailand, Day 6

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We started off day 6 by hiking through Hellfire Pass.

This was the actual location that the POW’s from WWII and general laborers from Burma worked day and night to build a railroad through rocks and jungle. They were forced to work very long hours with very little sleep or supplies. If the men were too sick to work, they did not get fed at all in the attempt to get them back to work. Many men got sick with various serious ailments due to the harsh conditions. Many died of starvation.

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The workers were treated poorly and punished severely if they didn’t work fast enough. One hundred thousand people lost their lives building the railroad. The fires lit at night made the workers think of hell, hence the name Hellfire Pass.

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We took a train ride on a part of the Death Railroad that was still in use. We left the train and explored a cave that was set up as a medical aid station during the war. A shrine is set up there now. If you explore the cave past the shrine, there are a lot of bats in it.

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We stopped at a waterfall. It was a slippery climb, but I didn’t see anyone fall.

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In the afternoon, we visited the elephants. This was not included in the trip. It used to be included as an option, but the tour company got flooded with complaints saying that it wasn’t humane to ride an elephant. Unfortunately, the elephants survival depends on tourists dollars.

Many years ago the elephants were not treated humanely. They were given amphetamines to work long hours clearing brush and doing heavy lifting. After this was outlawed, the elephants could not be released into the wild. They would die. They created a sanctuary for these elephants and their families. Tourists can go to the sanctuary and pay to feed the elephants. Or they can ride the elephants, go on a river cruise, and swim with the elephants.

I was very nervous about riding an elephant at first. Look at them! They are huge. I was worried about falling off. The little seat on top of the elephant was held up by a couple of ropes that I was concerned wouldn’t hold our combined weight. Going up and down hills, I felt like I was falling. It was big time out of my comfort zone, but I decided to do it anyway.

After riding the elephant, we took a ride on a bamboo raft up the River Kwai. On the way back down, we jumped in the water and floated down the river. I couldn’t see or feel the bottom with my feet. When we got back, the elephants were waiting for us in the river. I had a hard time standing up as the current was fairly strong and the rocks under our feet were sharp. The elephants themselves are very gentle but whiskery with rough skin. They were only soft on the tip of their trunk.

I was a little nervous in the water too just from the sheer size of the elephants. Paul had an elephant fall in love with him. The elephant kept touching his bald head with her trunk. They gazed into each other’s eyes. Animals love him. The elephant seemed to sense my nervousness.

It certainly was a remarkable experience. I’m really happy I decided to go there.

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There are a few elephants that live in the wild. Some people on our tour bus saw one as we were driving through the jungle.

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We stopped on the way back to see some wild monkeys that were fed leftover food from the market.

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We were not allowed to touch the monkeys. The tour guide had to close the doors on the bus so they wouldn’t get inside and raid our food. It was unbelievable seeing hundreds of monkeys out in the open so close that I could touch them.

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We arrived back at the hotel in the evening and decided to eat outdoors at the romantic table. It was gorgeous outside. The average high temps were in the 90’s and it didn’t rain once the whole time we were in Thailand.

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Nearby was a table with a large extended family. Two little girls from their table danced to American music that played through the speakers. Either we didn’t hear any music at all or it was remade American hits from a few years back made into elevator music sung by a mediocre female singer. She even sang a song by Nine Inch Nails elevator style. I wonder if they even understood the words. I don’t specifically recall hearing any Thai music on our whole trip. I thought that was rather odd.

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Today was our favorite day of the trip.

The ice shove

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As you may have guessed, running and writing are two of my favorite hobbies.

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I also love photography and traveling. Unfortunately, I can’t do the last two hobbies as often as the first two. I could take pictures of everyday mundane life and selfies galore. But that bores me. So why wouldn’t it bore you??

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I didn’t have to travel far to get a few pictures of the ice shove on the bay of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Even local friends asked where I was off to this time…Alaska? Antarctica?? No, just my beautiful home state.

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You really should consider booking a visit. Summer is the best time. But as you can see, winter is beautiful here too. Today the wind chills are only in the single digits below zero. So it is warming up out there!

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The ice shove is 20 feet high. This is the biggest ice shove I’ve seen in my lifetime. It took some really nasty weather conditions to make this. Thankfully the beauty that resulted lasted longer than the storm. Kind of like real life sometimes…

Out on a limb

A couple of weeks back I became strangely fascinated by the trees in my yard. It was well into fall and some of my trees were bare and some of the leaves were yet to change color. How could this be??

I decided to go out on a limb. I traipsed around my yard with my phone in hand to snap a couple pics of my trees as the neighbor came out of her house. I think that she thought I was coming over for a visit. How odd to be hanging around the property line. Awkward!

I wondered how all of these trees could exist in the same environment of my yard but be so different..How could it be possible that some of the trees lost all of their leaves right away and some didn’t even change colors?

I spent a little too much time thinking about it…I thought, and thought, and thought…until I thought I figured it out.

Maybe it was because some of the trees were in the front of the yard and some of the trees were in the back. Maybe they had more water or less sun.

But, no, that wasn’t it.

How could it make sense?

Then I thought some more…

Maybe the trees were like my kids..They all grew up in the same environment, but turned out differently.

I wonder why that is…

I can understand why different types of trees are different…But how do you explain variations in the same kind of trees?

How can siblings that grew up with the same parents in the same environment be so different from each other??

 

 

The Great Salt Lake

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Paul and I went on a business trip this past week to Utah. We had one afternoon free to see the local sights. I’ve always thought it would be cool to check swimming in the Great Salt Lake off of my bucket list.

It was a cool day when we visited. It was 65 degrees and the water was about the same temperature. We took a tour bus to the site.

It was eerily silent at the Great Salt Lake. No jet skis, no power boats…nothing.

There were some sailboats that weren’t in their slips yet. It still is a little too early for the sailing season. I did hear that the Great Salt Lake has some of the saltiest sailors around.

The lake is very shallow, 11 feet at the deepest.

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Here is a picture of Paul about to make the plunge with his foot. You could see the little sea monkeys in the water. It is too salty for fish, 5 times saltier than the ocean.

The locals warned against swimming in the lake. Unfortunately, the water is polluted from nearby factory run off and has high levels of mercury.

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Here is a picture of Paul and I ‘swimming’ in the Great Salt Lake. A few people braved the cool water and air temps to swim. I opted not to this time, but wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future.

Carefree moments..

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Don’t I look like the cat that ate the canary??

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This past weekend we sailed somewhere new for our friend Ted’s birthday.

It was a warm and windy day. This time the winds were in our favor to get to the park and back quickly. The minute Ted, Cindy, and I stepped on the boat we all curled up and fell asleep. That just shows how much we trusted Paul to get us through the wind and waves.

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Sometimes I take for granted the beauty of my home state. I could’ve stayed in one spot and took pictures for hours.

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But my friends would’ve left without me!

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Paul keeps an eye on his sailboat from the scenic overlook above.

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Then I had a carefree moment on the ledge disregarding the large drop off behind me.

The travel diaries, The Grand Canyon

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A few years ago, Paul and I had a conference in Phoenix. I’ll be honest with you, the little lunch break by the pool ended up turning into missing the next seminar. Didn’t we hear about that topic the year before anyway? We never get hot summer days in the fall in WI. Sometimes we don’t get hot summer days in the summer. So really could you blame us for giving in to temptation?

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After the conference we rented a car and drove to Flagstaff. On the way we stopped in a little town called Jerome. We were told that was where the hippies live. We did see a couple in a VW van that could pass as hippies but that was about it. I wasn’t able to add to my collection of boho clothes or jewelry, but we did have a nice lunch. Then we stopped at the Red Rock park and hiked there for awhile.

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Flagstaff was a nice high altitude city. We took a short hike and I was very winded. We met a lot of people, most of them tourists like us. We met a man that followed us to a costume shop to see if he could buy a Bacchus costume to celebrate the fall solstice. He was going to ride around town on his motorcycle while wearing it. OOKKaaayyy. Interesting. Hmm. We met another couple, the woman’s dad lives near us and we know him. Small world.

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The highlight of our trip however was seeing The Grand Canyon. We decided to take the 6 mile hike around the south rim. If you remember from earlier, I am afraid of heights. I can’t even explain in words how overwhelming and immensely grandeur this location is. When we got off the bus to start our hike, I was so terrified that I wanted to turn around and head back. I practically glued my body as far as I could away from the massive drop. In most places, the trails were right next to the side of the cliff without guard rails. There were narrow paths that caused me to cringe when I had to pass someone. After awhile I got used to the dizzying heights.

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When we got back to the hotel we looked online to see how many lives were claimed by this monsterous canyon. There were some interesting stories, like the man who pretended he was falling then actually did. Or the husband who had his wife keep moving back just a little more for the picture.

While I stood at the edge looking down, the still voice inside my head said jump! Jump! Paul said he had the same temptation. It was so strange. I had a lot of anxiety seeing families with small children. Or crazy people that would balance on the ledge. I was always afraid they would fall. 

It is a horrifyingly beautiful location. I was awe struck and overwhelmed at the same time. I cannot express the feelings that this miracle of creation elicited within me. I felt like a tiny little ant. You will just have to take a visit yourself!

The flight home was the scariest flight I have ever taken. We had turbulence the whole 3 hours because we were flying over a storm. They couldn’t even serve food or drinks. I faced a lot of fears on this trip and it was positively exhilarating. This is a great location for the adventurous, but leave the little ones at home. I think it would be fun to take a week to hike down into the canyon. Or go rafting on the tiny little river. Okay, it just looks tiny when you are standing at the top of the world. One day just wasn’t enough to see this beauty. 

Good thing I didn’t kick the bucket while checking this one off my bucket list! 

The travel diaries, Pictured Rocks

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These pictures were taken at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan. The Pictured Rocks consists of 15 miles of sandstone cliffs and caves along the shores of beautiful Lake Superior.

We took a boat tour to view this wonder of creation. We stayed at our friends cabin near Munising on a kid free weekend in August. We were there during a heat wave with temps around 90 degrees. Temps in the 90’s is spectacular since the average high in August is 75 degrees, which is typically the hottest it gets all summer. The picture above almost makes it seem like a warm tropical vacation. It may feel that way on a typical day if you are wrapped in a blanket or winter clothes.

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If you look closely at the right hand of the picture above, you can see a face in the rock formation.

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Adventurers can also explore the cliffs, caves, cracks, and crevices by kayak or canoe.  This can be a rather extreme sport in this area because the water temperatures in summer are right around 50 degrees. On this very hot day, we did see a few people jump in the water but they didn’t stay long. I have also heard that it can be treacherous for boaters because there is a great variation in the depth of the water. If you are looking for a place to get away from the heat this summer, this is the place to go! You can be surrounded by cool water along miles and miles of sandy empty beaches. There are also breathtaking waterfalls along the hiking trails flowing forth from the rock formations.

There is so much to explore in this area that you could spend your whole summer doing it. Again, I would give high ratings to this location if you enjoy exploring nature in a tranquil, remote, and beautiful location. I would absolutely recommend this location for extreme outdoor adventurers, unless you are really into swimming. This location really rocks for geologists as well!

Keep traveling!!