Life at 50 below

The last few days the wind chills were 50 below. That is a whole whopping 80 degrees below freezing. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in a cold climate? Maybe you already do and we can commiserate together.

It is not terribly unusual for us to face subzero temperatures in a normal Wisconsin January. We are so used to it that the schools only close if it is 35+ below zero and we get over 6 inches of snow.

This week was rather extreme though even for us.

On Monday, we received a foot of snow. On Tuesday, the wind chills were around 25 below. Paul was in a hurry to plow out the driveway before it got cold out. He had some problems with the plow on the 4 wheeler and was asked to plow out a friend that just had surgery and my parents. After Paul got the plow fixed, he was able to plow everyone else out before the wind chill warning.

The kids had off of school Monday, Wednesday, and today.

Tuesday night Arabella and I had play practice. I drove to practice on the highway through the blowing and drifting snow. The snowplows put salt on the roads but it was too cold to melt the ice properly. There were patches of black ice on the highway that took my car towards the ditch. The ditches were already littered with cars and I passed a truck that just went in. I knew this because his lights were still on. I heard that there was a tow ban.

We made it home safely. I wore my goose down jacket, hat, mittens, and two sweaters. My son had a few friends over and they came over without coats and in shorts. They are so cool!

I was planning on working out Wednesday morning, but stayed home to man the fires instead. We have a very large old house. We wanted to keep the house warm without spending a fortune.

Although I sometimes want to spend more time at home, there is nothing glamorous about being trapped in your house when you don’t want to be. I decided to clean my kitchen washing the refrigerator and microwave.

The kids complained about how bored they were and I threatened to tell them about winters in the 1980’s. I wondered how our ancestors made it through the winter without modern conveniences like electricity and heat.

I kept the fires going all afternoon, stoking them every 20 minutes. I curled up on the couch with my cat and wrote a couple more chapters in my book. I listened to the wind howl and whip around the fresh snow. The sunshine glared brightly making it seem warm outside, tempting me to be lured out in the cold.

I looked at pictures on Facebook of tropical places, like Texas. A friend from Texas showed pictures of herself running outside in the frigid temps of 40 degrees. Jealousy stabbed me. To be able to run outside again! I would’ve been happy to be able to make it to the gym. But our world was shut down, even the postal workers didn’t deliver mail yesterday.

I went to sleep late last night checking to make sure that the dog was safely inside in his bed. I worried about the farmers and their livestock. The schools were closed and multiple businesses too. I even heard on Facebook that in WI some of the bars were closed.

I awoke early to the smell of smoke. Was my house on fire? There was a purple haze lingering in the air and a strong smell of smoke. We turned on the industrial dehumidifier to suck out the smoke which caused the boiler that heats our pool to error out and shut down from the cold air pouring in on it. We turned on the fans to get the smoke out. One of the vents was frozen and Paul used a small heater to thaw it out. The vent for the dehumidifier froze open. Paul ran outside to shove some old towels in the vent to keep out the cold air which caused thawing water to drip on electrical cords and outlets.

My parents lost power in their house today. Their house cooled down quickly which is tough since our furnaces cannot keep up running constantly when the power is on. I can’t wait to get our gas bill for this polar vortex.

It was another cold day, but I had to venture out to the gym. Thankfully it was open, although they reduced their hours.

Is it almost spring yet??

Although I complain, there is something beautiful about winter. There is nothing like curling up by the fire on a very cold day snuggled in blankets. The snow on the trees is breathtaking. There aren’t any bugs.

This weekend we are going to have a heat wave. It will be a balmy 40 degrees. Time to finally dust off those cross country skis! The guys will be heading to the lake to ice fish.

We are hardy people, we will make it through..

 

 

 

Least likely to be athletic

I’ve had a few comments over the last couple of days that really made me think, or I should say laugh. Someone said I must have been a star athlete in high school. A lot of people said to me over the years that they could never run a marathon. They only wish they were as athletic as me. Their idea of a marathon is Netflix, etc..

I suppose if you met me now you would assume that I was always this way. Now I am a lean and muscular marathon runner aspiring to run my first 50k. Before, well sometimes you just have to laugh.

I was that scrawny little kid that ALWAYS was picked last to be on someone’s team. It always hurt when pickings got slim. Which loser would be picked last to be on the winning team? That internal debate of the team captain on who would suck the least of the last remaining few always showed through the frown on their face. I wonder if kids are still allowed to pick their own teams in gym class?

I was the ONLY girl that tried out for cheerleading in middle school that didn’t make the team AND didn’t make the alternate list.

True story, in middle school I had to write book reports on sports to pass gym class.

You could say I sucked. I didn’t have a trophy case full of ribbons and medals. My high school years were certainly not my glory days. I lived the worst years of my life in my childhood.

But now, I actually feel sorry for people that say their high school years were the best times of their lives.

I became an athlete as an adult because that is what I wanted to be. I still think it is funny when people assume I’ve always been this way. I also think that it is funny when people say that they could never run a marathon because they are not athletic enough.

We are capable of doing whatever we tell ourselves we can (or can’t). All you have to do is take the first step. It is never too late to be the person you want to be. Look at me, least likely to be athletic then is a marathon runner now.

 

 

Goal 1: Run a 50k/work out more

I may have mentioned this before, but this year I want to go to Hell. There is a 50k ultra race in Hell. Then I would like to get my first tattoo…Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k.

I started this blog originally because I read a book created from a blog about someone training for their first marathon. I thought that blogging would be fun along with running my first marathon. Then I also started talking about my demons. It has been a great process. Since this all started, I finished my 4th marathon and slayed 2 demons.

Running has been a very therapeutic way of dealing with the stress in my life. But I want to do more. I want to run further. I want to be stronger in other areas as well. This week I started a strength training class. Once we get more snow, I want to go cross country skiing. I want to do Zumba just because it is fun. Now that I don’t have a job, I have more time to exercise. I want to exercise 5 days a week and spend one day a week just cleaning my house…so basically working out 6 days a week.

If I know one thing about myself, it’s that I love to keep busy. But I also know that if I push myself too hard I could hurt myself. I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep up this pace either as I continue on the path of aging.

I really wonder how many long distance endurance runners are outrunning their demons?? I fear someday I may have to face what I am running from.

I want to be strong enough that I could live without it if I have to. I don’t want exercise to control me either. But that is another goal altogether..

 

The day after Thanksgiving

As you could tell from my last post, I was rather stressed out about the Thanksgiving holiday this year. In fact, the day before Thanksgiving the boy with the face tattoo showed up at our house and we had to kick him out because our son is grounded from having friends over. We were so stressed out that Paul and I wanted to cancel Thanksgiving altogether.

The strange thing was that it ended up being one of the nicest and most peaceful Thanksgiving’s ever. There weren’t any fights or problems.

I had to work late on Wednesday, but Angel came home from college and helped do some cooking with her boyfriend Dan. Paul made the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy. Everyone else brought a dish to pass. My brothers Luke and Mark didn’t make it over this year. But both of my parents came out with Matt which was surprising since my dad hardly ever comes out to family functions. He was even on his best behavior.

My mom even had boundaries with Matt. She asked him if he wanted more food and told him that he needed to get it himself versus waiting on him hand and foot. Before she would bake him a special meal, serve up his food, cut it into smaller pieces, go get him more food if he wanted it, and then clear his plate after the meal.

Paul’s step-dad Daryl and my Uncle Rick also came out. They have a lot in common and get along really well. After supper, we played cards. Angel did not play because she had homework to do and crafts to make for sales on her Etsy site. She is so much like me it is crazy! She is off volunteering today, so hopefully she will have time to play some games tonight.

Arabella had to work Thanksgiving morning and all day today. My girls are very industrious and for that I am thankful.

Even Alex sat with the family most of the day. Later that night he played the piano. It has been a long time since he played. I’d almost forgotten how beautifully he plays. The thought crossed my mind that maybe he didn’t want his friend over for holiday break. He is a totally different person around friends versus family. Today he rode his bike to a friend’s house since he is grounded from his car.

It is a beautiful day though. We have temps in the low 40’s. It is windy and sunny. I decided to take a run outside today on a new route. That is the fun thing about moving. There are a lot of new and exciting running routes.

Finally I’ve been able to keep my head above water and grab a few gulps of fresh air.

Paul’s first half marathon

This past weekend, my husband Paul did his first half marathon.

The event was held on the coldest day so far this season. When we left that morning, I had to scrape the frost off my windshield. The high temperature was in the low 40’s. When the race started, I could see my breath. It is challenging to know what to wear in that situation.

I wore a sweater over my running clothes. My ears were freezing so I tied the hood on my head. It was the kind of weather that I would do my running in the gym for. At least it didn’t rain, or snow. But it was a dreary day.

I dropped off my sweater with a friend half way through the race. I was still cold at some points, but it was manageable. My body cramped up and it hurt my lungs with every breath. All day I coughed wheezily.

I crossed the finish line before Paul. My body shook with chills from the cold sweat after the exertion from the race. I didn’t get my sweater back until later. I cheered him on as he crossed the finish line. We waited around for the results from the small town race. He placed, but I didn’t. I felt bad about it. If only I was a year older, I would’ve took 2nd. I beat myself up because I finished my half ten minutes later than the last time I ran a half several years back.

Paul said that I was his inspiration to run the half and that I also inspire other people to run. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. After the race, we huddled around a fire and under warmers with friends. I couldn’t warm up. It was rather miserable and my chest hurt. Our other friends ran the 5k. Everyone that I knew placed in their age group, except me.

Oh well! I am over it already. We laughed a little over how competitive I am.

I am so happy that Paul decided to run his first half marathon. I wonder how hard it would be to convince him that a full marathon is a lot of fun??

longevity

My daughter Arabella is currently taking health as a high school class. A week ago she had to take a longevity quiz and just for fun she asked Paul and I the questions as well.

Today I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for Paul to complete an uncomfortable procedure that happens once a person reaches the magical age of 50. It gets one to think about life, and death.

At the beginning, I did very well on the longevity test. I smugly thought that I would be my family’s first centurion. I am doing a lot of things right. I eat my vegetables. I drink in moderation. I am not overweight or underweight. My parents are still alive. I take my vitamins. I go in for regular check ups. My cholesterol and blood pressure are low. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs.

Plus, I am a marathon runner. I mean, that should count for a lot more than exercising three times a week for a half an hour. Right??

I was feeling pretty good.

I am literally going to live forever. I probably won’t even die. I will be the only person to live forever without turning into a vampire first.

Then the questions took a bit of a negative turn…

Do you easily feel bored or depressed? Yes

Do you often feel stressed out? Yes

Do you always feel like you are in a hurry? Yes, yes, yes…

Do you listen to your body? No! When my body tells me to stop, my mind says push harder. Is that a problem??

Do you worry a lot? I am really starting to feel worried now.

My daughter said that according to the test, I am supposed to live to 85. Paul is supposed to live to 75 (with the average female living longer than the average male). So if her calculations are right, then I will outlive my husband by 16 years (he is 6 years older).

We’ll see…

The procedure went fine without any issues.

We might not know how long we will live (even after taking the health class longevity quiz and going in for procedures). But what we can do is try to make the most of the years we have been given.

 

 

Outrunning my demons in Hell

Next year I want to go to Hell.

Whoa now, before you get a little concerned, let me explain.

Hell is a town in Michigan. With some of our winters, I’m surprised that more towns are not named Hell. Although, after a bit of overthinking, maybe the name should be reserved for hot Southern crime ridden towns.

Anyway, every year there is an ultra trail run in this little town called Hell. Part of the course includes running through waist deep water for a river crossing.

Sign me up already!

I am starting to look ahead to running goals for next year. This summer I completed my 4th marathon. The first couple times I said I would never run a marathon again. But now I am thinking about doing a 50k ultra race. Hey, what’s a few more miles??

Then I thought it would be super cool to get a tattoo that says Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k. I don’t have any tattoos yet, unless you consider my car which is plastered full of bumper stickers…I have a couple of tattoo ideas, but thought it would be great to kill two birds with one stone…running and blogging.

I have one more race planned for this year, a half marathon next month. My husband is planning on running his first half marathon with me. I am really excited for him. I must really make it look like a lot of fun! Ha ha ha…

My 4th marathon

On Thursday night, or I should say in the wee hours of Friday morning, I picked my family of travelers up from their vacation. As I went to bed at 3 AM, I dreaded the thought that I would be getting up in a little over 24 hours around the time I was going to bed that night to run my 4th marathon.

I didn’t get much sleep, but took Friday off to pack and get ready for camping. My husband went into work for a couple hours and was suffering from jet lag. We had to drive three hours to get to the campground.

We set up camp as a storm was blowing in. The torrential downpour started as soon as we had the tent set up. It rained two inches that night. When we went to pick up our race packets, one of the tents collapsed from the rain. We were going to go to my cousin’s camper for a spaghetti supper, but went out to eat instead. It was hot, humid, and stormed most of the night. But our tent stayed dry for the most part.

I woke up at 4:30 AM after a restless night of sleep. I was dead tired and had to scrape up some energy for a marathon. The marathon itself was brutal. My cousin said that it was the most challenging marathon he ever did. There were some very difficult steep inclines. We had to walk across slippery bridges and wet rocks. I didn’t fall, but I saw others fall and almost fell myself several times.

It was a very picturesque course with beautiful views at the top of the bluffs. It seemed surreal like I was on a movie set. I was waiting for the dinosaurs to come out at any minute. Even though it was a rather remote trail run, there were enough bathrooms and aid stations. I even drank some pickle juice which seems to be the new craze.

It was a tough race, but we finished it. Afterwards, we decided to head to the beach to cool our aching legs. I was only in the water for 10 minutes when someone took my beach towel. The beach was absolutely crowded on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Showering was another challenge. I showered in the handicap stall just because I thought that it would provide an area for me to sit. Undressing and dressing was a bit of a challenge. There was nowhere to sit and there was a lot of standing dirty water on the floor. So I decided to dress from the waist up and go into the dryer bathroom portion to get my shorts on.

I wrapped a towel around my waist for the short trip outside to the bathroom. When I walked into the bathroom, there was a man inside. He seemed to be checking on the cleanliness of the bathroom. He put his initials on the paper by the door and exited quickly. The bathroom and shower stalls were absolutely filthy. I struggled to get my pants on without having to take another shower.

That evening, my cousin and his wife made the spaghetti dinner that the storm prevented us from having the previous night. His dad and step-mother came over for a visit and wished me a happy birthday. They brought homemade strawberry shortcake. It was a nice evening.

After that, I spent another restless night trying to sleep in the tent. My body ached and I couldn’t get comfortable…Sunday morning we packed up for the long ride back home. I couldn’t relax. I found myself feeling agitated and depressed. Although my body ached, my mind couldn’t sit still. I took the dog for a walk when I got home and felt a little better…then had another restless night of sleep.

I think I had one good night of sleep in the last month. Staying up until 3 AM and then getting up very early to run a marathon probably pushed me over the edge. I hope I feel like my old self soon. Tomorrow I’m getting a massage. Maybe that will help.

May the fours be with me

I’m turning 44 this weekend. In celebration, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. Boy, that’s a lot of fours..I didn’t really notice that until now. I sure hope it’s my lucky number!

This is going to be one of the most challenging races to date. I am exhilarated and absolutely terrified at the same time.

The course is going to be breathtakingly beautiful and treacherous. I read the reviews of the race. The first three reviews said to expect to fall. After that I quit reading. I am going to be running a marathon through the bluffs. Predictably, there will be a lot of sharp inclines and steep descents. I can’t imagine why anyone would fall?

Supposedly, the rocky path is worse if it rains. So far, the whole weekend is predicted to be stormy. It is supposed to be hot, very humid, and chances of thunderstorms and rain are at 80% on Friday, 60% on Saturday, and 80% on Sunday. Break a leg then, hey? Not to mention being at the top of the bluffs during a thunderstorm. Or having screamingly sore legs already.

I also heard that there are only 2 bathrooms on the marathon route which is rather problematic for the likes of my old bladder. Do I head for the hills if nature is calling? Will I get lost trying to avoid the onlookers? Or maybe find myself some toilet paper in a patch of poison ivy?

I don’t feel ready for this. Kind of like last year when there were 5 foot waves when I was swimming for the Half Ironman. Seriously, how do you train adequately for that?? In a wave pool??

One of the hardest parts will be sleeping in a tent. I don’t sleep well in my sleep number bed in a dark quiet room with air conditioning. I wonder how I will sleep in a stifling hot tent through storms anxious about the early morning marathon?

The first thing I had to do was find our tent. I can’t remember the last time we slept in a tent. It was at least 5 years ago, back when the kids thought that it was wonderful to hang out with their parents camping for the weekend. We had some awesome adventures camping though. We weathered some pretty scary storms. We hiked, biked, swam, and explored most of the state parks within a three hour radius of our house.

We pretty much stopped camping when we got our sailboat. Now the perfect weekends in the summer month consist of sailing, racing, going up north to the family cabin, or just hanging out around home. Of course, this summer has been a little different with moving and going to Vegas.

I only signed up for one race and this is it! The big hurrah for my birthday weekend!

Folks, this just might be my last birthday.

What did I get myself into this time??!?

May the fours be with me!

 

Vegas, part 5

I didn’t heed my own advice.

We were only a couple of miles from the hotel when it happened. I am a marathon runner, so I am practically invincible. I could probably walk along a 5 lane highway in the dark in 100 degrees if I had to.

I didn’t pack water.

In my defense, we didn’t have a fridge in the hotel room. Water was pricey. It also tasted like crap hot. Everything cost a lot more than I was planning for. We were only going a few miles anyway..

My daughter, her friend, and I bought tickets to see some Met singers for the trip’s grand finale. Perfect! I was decked out in my dry cleaning only dress. When we got to the parking garage I looked at my rental car. Wait! Was that a flat tire?? I couldn’t find a spare in the trunk.

Are you in a safe location?

How do I know? I am in a deserted parking garage at night in an unfamiliar location. It is over 100 degrees and it looks like some homeless people are camped out in the foliage below. Yes, I’m safe.

Ma’am, we are going to have to tow your vehicle. You will need to wait at the vehicle until the tow truck arrives which may take several hours. Let me see if I have this straight…You need to tow my vehicle for a flat tire??

Girls, you might as well go to the show without me..

Ma’am, where are you located? I have no idea where I am. I am in Las Vegas in a parking garage with no street signs nearby. But there is construction going on across the street. That’s very descriptive, isn’t it?

Ma’am, it may take longer if we need to find a tow truck that needs to be small enough to clear a parking garage..Wonderful!

So I waited…for hours. My makeup smeared and sweat trickled steadily down the back of my dry clean only dress. I missed the show.

It was creepy in the parking garage. I listened to the buzz of the lights. Everything else was eerily silent. At times I heard unexplainable noises that were frightening. I edged closer to my rental car with plans of locking myself inside if anyone planned me harm.

It was very hot and I longed for a drink of ice cold water. I decided to look at Facebook to kill some time. Oh, an article on cities with the highest murder rates. Perfect, let me click on that. Las Vegas ranks #6. What was that strange noise?? If I don’t have water and am alone in a creepy parking garage, maybe I should at least conserve the battery on my cell phone.

A couple of hours later, the tow truck driver showed up. At that point, I would’ve done almost anything to have a sip of ice cold water. Thankfully, the driver had a cooler full in the back of the truck. I was so happy..

Lesson learned…If you are traveling in the desert, pack water. Prepare for the conditions of the environment you are traveling in. Seriously, I didn’t want to spend a couple of bucks to be a little more comfortable if there was an emergency. Wasn’t the best plan..

That was how I spent my last night in Las Vegas.

The next morning we flew back home. After we got off the plane, I saw a kid puking all over the place. But I never felt so happy to get back home. It was a strange adventure. A lot of things didn’t go quite as planned, but I guess that is what makes for interesting stories later…