Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Finally, Pictures

I'm having trouble with Picassa, so will try to post a few of the pictures from the Glacier family vacation here instead. The first is of Connor and Mason all decked out in their new headgear, then at our cabin eating S'Mores, and the rest are from the day at Bowman Lake.
Leanne and I leave for the Elkhorn Endurance Run on Friday. I can't wait to spend the day in the mountains running, then my full week of vacation starts! I'll try to post a race report next week from North Dakota.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bear Luck

I'm a bear magnet, at least since moving to Montana. I had hoped that my luck with bear sightings would extend to my family's visit, but that's the one animal we didn't get to see. Of course, the day after they all leave, I literally almost run over a black cub. On my way to a home visit. He/she? ran across the highway right in front of my car, stopped in the ditch and just stared at me. I'm sure the mama bear was around somewhere, but I had to continue on. Sorry family, I'll try to work on the timing for your next trip!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Vacation #1

The family get together in Glacier was nothing short of great. Something to note - my family has never had good luck with camping. Every time we tried, the worst storms would go through the area. I'm talking tornado's, downed trees, flooded campsites, etc. The last time we went, I was probably in my early teens. The weather was so bad, we packed up in the middle of the night, found a restaurant for breakfast and never tried it again. So, I was a bit surprised when everyone agreed to come out this way for a semi-civilized KOA camping experience.

I'll be adding pictures soon, but here are the highlights.

1) Free shuttle service - Whoever dreamed this up was a genius. I'm sure some people don't like the wait, but utilizing the park shuttle was stress free and relaxing, especially after a day of hiking. My entire family pretty much kicked butt with the hiking. They did the entire Avalanche Lake Trail, and then headed to Hidden Lake up at Logan Pass. They tackled snow fields and a precarious rock face to see Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, rams, and marmots wrestling. We all pretty much crashed on the shuttle ride down and enjoyed some good ice cream at Apgar.

2) Amazing Fun Center - Just driving by, you wouldn't think much of it. Not sure what the rest of the family thought, but I had a blast. The maze is deceptively complicated and I don't believe for a second that some kid finished it in 13 minutes. We were in there forever. The younger ones finally gave up, leaving Dami, Brandi, Ryan and I to try to find the 4th tower and get out before passing out from heat stroke. We got the towers, but gave up finding the appropriate exit. By that time, Brandi suggested crawling under the walls to freedom. We didn't quite reach that point, but it was close. A shout out to Ashley, who did finish the entire thing in I think 45 minutes.

My favorite parts however, were the go-carts and bumper boats. My only complaint is that neither one went fast enough. Oh, and to all my family who decided I was the target for bumper boats, I will get you back one day. My clothes were still wet two hours later even after playing 18 holes of mini golf in the hot sun!

To any who want try it out - you can do everything with a $17 pass. I thought it was worth the price, but be prepared with water and sunscreen if you go on a sunny, hot day.

3) Campfire at our Cabin - Steve made kabobs on the grill, and frozen pizza for the kids (hey - they spent the previous couple days on camp food!). We had S'Mores again over a campfire in our yard overlooking the lake at sunset. It was a late night, but I was glad everyone got to see our place.

4) Bowman Lake - The family endured the "the worst road ever" to spend the afternoon at Bowman Lake. Some tried fishing with little success, the rest of us enjoyed the freezing water. Mom had spent a few bucks on floating chairs, and we took turns taking the kids out. Add to that a gorgeous view, good food, games, a nice walk, and an army of horse flies. Couldn't have asked for a better day.

5) Time with family - Everyone got along, Dad and Dami learned to cook on a campfire, the Texans survived the camping cabin for five nights before heading back to "civilization," we managed S'Mores even after a hailstorm, the kids made good use of the KOA swimming pool, Connor and Mason got decked out in the best hats ever, Madison proved herself to be a capable outdoors girl (and possible future trail runner), all family members were able to call themselves hikers, Ashley proved herself computer savvy by figuring out how to get internet access even in mountains, and I got two nights of the best sleep ever in my tent.

6) Presents - I felt like it was my birthday. I got a cool necklace, really nice book, towel, and stuffed moose from family members as thank you's for being the "tour guide." Thanks to all of you - I had a great time, and I hope you come back someday!!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Intercostal Strain

Not sure how I did it, but I strained the cartilage and/or muscles between a couple ribs near my sternum. Ouch. It hurts to breathe deeply, twist, or sleep on that side. I took today off from work, hoping to rest and recover. Which means I had time for another post and some reflection on training for my race on August 2. Here's the weekly mileage for the last eight weeks.

Week ending:

June 1 - 40
June 8 - 40
June 15 - 25
June 22 - 48
June 29 - 40
July 6 - 60
July 13 - 40
July 20 - 25

Even though I should have been increasing my mid-week runs, I'm just happy I got in a few 5-7 milers each week with my work schedule. I did get in a lot of time on the feet during the weekends, so I'm not really worried about completing the distance (just doing it fast enough). The good news is that during the long runs I was able to figure out the food, water, running equation. Gels, Builder Bars, water and S-caps seem to be the winning combination. My biggest concerns for race day are the possibility of very warm temperatures and the start of fire season. I'm not even going to think about the rib situation. I'm looking forward to a day on the trails with Callie and Leanne - hopefully we all got our registrations in on time!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Own Backyard

In preparation for my family coming to visit, Steve and I tried out the campfire ring in our backyard. Next week, we'll be sure to have S'Mores. As for the Friday midnight Glacier Park went a little differently than planned. We left Kalispell around 9:30 pm, picked up Danni, Carsten, and Callie along the way, only to find Going to the Sun Road closed right at the Loop parking area. Message to Levi (who seemed to be in charge according to the dialogue between workers): Please don't close the road on a clear, full moon Friday night!

We weren't the only disappointed people. Lots of bikers and cars with the same idea having to turn around. We persevered though, and ran the road toward Avalanche and back, giving us about 14 miles. The full moon amidst the mountains was eerie and gorgeous and it was trance like running with headlamps at 2:00 am. It was good to meet Carsten, who will also be running this race with us in August. Thank you to Gretchen who drove us all safely home that night/morning. I crawled into bed at 4:30 am and continued to sleep much of the weekend. Wish I had pictures for you, but haven't yet figured out how to take a good one in the dark.

Last, I encourage you to see "The Dark Knight" at the theatre. Despite it being about 20 minutes too long for me, I would even say (shock and awe) that I'd see it again. The Joker stole the show for me, and it's too bad Heath Ledger isn't alive to enjoy the character's success.

That's all for awhile. My family arrives on Wednesday so I'll be enjoying the outdoors with them!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Damned if you do; Damned if you don't.

Either way, the front line workers are going to take the fall. I've been reading this blog because I work in the child welfare field, I lived and worked in DC, and because I came too close to becoming one of the policy and planning specialists for DC CFSA. It's a bit scary for anyone to be working in the child welfare field, especially when administrators and politicians, even the general public, have no clue about what's really happening. Policies are created that make no sense at all. When something goes wrong, the higher ups try to make it go away by firing the ones who face the daily ethical dilemma of making the "best" possible decisions from a crappy pile of less than ideal options.

This saddens me because of the number of good individuals out there who leave the field out of fear, anger, hopelessness, (not to mention embarrassingly low wages.) Yes, we each make the choice to work in this field, but I really would like to see the average citizen, along with these higher ups, spend one day exposed to the incredibly sad, disturbing, crazy nightmares that are some children's lives, AND try to figure out a way to help them and their families with extremely limited resources and do so within the confines of our legal system. Maybe then they'd have a broader perspective and not be so trigger happy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Cascadias

I counted up the mileage put on my Cascadias since May and I've almost reached 400 miles. How did that happen so fast? And, how do I tell Steve I need to buy yet another new pair of shoes? Do you think I should go for the green this time?

Monday, July 14, 2008


Finally. Last night - a whole eight hours. For the first time in weeks. Stress related insomnia is partially responsible for the lack of sleep, but I fear I may also be way too in love with summer. What else can explain getting up at the crazy hour of 5:30 am on a weekend? Every weekend. Just to pack it all in.

1) Friday night, a group of co-workers and I went out to celebrate Bernie's birthday. It was my first time at the Tamarack Brewing Company. With a banana Hefeweizen and a warm sweatshirt, I settled in for some entertaining stories and a whole lot of laughs. This week was my one year anniversary of living here and six months at my new job, so I was also relishing time with good people who have quickly become friends. Despite the creepiness of one of my work situations, I love the fact that my job is a perfect fit and I get to hang out with people who just "get it." I have no idea how to explain that.

2) Unfortunately - fortunately, I had to be in Whitefish early Saturday morning for the Glacier Challenge. I had been recruited to run the 5k portion of the relay for a women's team I didn't know. The race logistics were quite impressive, as were some of the participants. My friend Leanne and her husband did the entire relay as a team and did awesome. Other friends from our running club and elsewhere also participated and did quite well. My 5k (a 3.85 mile 5k - what's up with that?) portion was not pretty. By the time I ran, it was noon and I was ready for lunch. I started too fast, got a sideache, and wanted to be done after about one mile of ugly pavement. The Qdoba and beer afterwards was pretty tasty though.

3) Saturday night, I helped Emily and Jason with entertaining Oliver and packing the U-Haul. Moving is never fun - not even with pizza and beer as incentives, and I did not envy their stress a bit. I left after 11:00 pm and they were still moving stuff.

4) Sunday morning, Leanne, Callie, Danni and I met up at 6:30 am to run 22 miles at the Blacktail cross-country ski trails. It was a perfect day for running. Sunny, warm, with a cool breeze. We brought plenty of water this time, all the sloshing in the back of Leanne's vehicle proved it. Danni had planned to add on another 14 miles with a run back to Herron Park. I considered it briefly, until I realized I was almost sleep-running. We were nervous as we dropped her off at the trail, hoping she'd make her way back ok. She did, but with a few glitches. Read her post if you want to learn more about her bravery.

5) And so I exhausted myself enough to finally sleep.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

4th of July Weekend!

Posting all the pictures from our fabulous day of fun would take forever using blogger so please check out this link. Despite totally bonking the last few miles, I was once again thankful to live in such an amazingly beautiful place. I wish we had pictures of us trying to crawl under a spider web, so as not to disturb it or to later transport the gigantic spider. Unfortunately, my lack of grace in trail shoes got the better of me and somehow I went crashing into the ground, gashing my leg yet again and trashing my shoulder. It truly does not seem possible that I ever was a ballet dancer. I do kind of feel bad for the non-trail runners out there. You can cover much more ground, get to the more remote places, than if we'd been out for a hike. Climbing the steeps, then cruising down, and completing 20 miles, however, did take its toll and I was wiped out that evening.

Friends invited us to go rafting the next day, and we almost said yes, but sleeping in and spending a lazy Saturday with Steve was exactly what I needed. We drove up to Bowman Lake, enjoyed some treats from the Polebridge Mercantile, debated buying the Mercantile (yes Danni, you now have some competition or you can buy it and ask Steve to manage it!), napped alongside the lake, and had a lovely picnic with the BEST SANDWICH EVER from Super One Foods. A turkey, cream cheese and cranberry croissant. Can you tell how much I like food? We also "hiked" or "sprinted" depending on whose perspective for a few miles, then drove back just as the monster within came out roaring. We missed the window for feeding me so Steve suffered for a short time.

Saturday night, I was so ready for sleep, but our neighbors decided to throw a party and set off belated fireworks until 2:30 am. Getting up at 6:00 am to run with friends was not fun after that, but the training miles were needed. We did 14 miles as a group, then Danni and I ran back to town for a grand total of 27 for me. You think I'm crazy? Danni was up at 4:30 and had done a half marathon before we ever started for a total of 40 miles. All on pavement, which killed my calves for the next couple days.

The week ahead won't be the most pleasant. I've got a work related thing coming up that I'm most definitely NOT looking forward to, and will be relieved when it's over. I'm just trying to stay calm and focused. There is a bit of sunshine though. Steve has a promising lead on a job here (more later, I don't want to jinx it), and we might not have to move from the cabin. It's become my safety zone, a peaceful place, and I really hope to stay. This is a view from earlier this Spring - would you want to leave?