Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well spent vacation days

This picture says it all. After a week of trail exploration, Buddy was finally TIRED. He curled up with his stuffed snail and has been sleeping the day away.

Wednesday night, we met up with Rebecca and Eby for a 4 mile loop of trail and pavement. Eby took off after something, most likely a deer, and didn't come back for awhile. We started to get worried, but she found us, panting like crazy. After drinking a ton of water and walking a bit, she got her second wind and finished the loop with us. If it's not Eby chasing the deer, it's Buddy.

Thursday morning, we did 6.2 miles on Mt. Ascension. Friday morning I had to get up early for work, so it was a 3 mile close to home day. Saturday morning, we did the 5 mile Wakina Sky loop, running most of it, the last two miles at a 9 minute/mile pace. After 8 months of being a slug, it felt good to actually run.
Since it was cool and overcast this morning, Buddy and I headed to the Ridge trail for another 6 miles. Both of us are re-adjusting to running life as evidenced by some stomach distress and then fatigue later in the day. It's sad how the body adapts to a fairly sedentary lifestyle so quickly, then struggles to keep up once it's pushed to perform again. My achilles continues to do well, as long as I stretch several times a day. Glad we can be back outside to enjoy the amazing trail system this area has to offer.

This next picture is of a strange looking mushroom nestled in amongst bunches of wildflowers. I'm kind of fascinated by fungi and where it grows. Weird, I know.

And the interest in running socks continues. Just got a pair of Drymax Lite Trail socks (on sale at Zombie Runner) and I like them much better than the original pair. Up until now, I've remained a devoted fan of the SmartWool ultra lite socks, so we'll see how these do on longer runs.

A total of 34 miles this week, not counting walks and hiking. We'll keep it there for awhile. Vacation is at an end. Back to school tomorrow!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to work

For my last day of vacation, Buddy and I did a morning tour of Mt. Ascension trails. We started out at the Lime Kiln trail head, did Rocky Road, Prickly Pear, Archery Range, Entertainment, and 2006 trails. We were on the trail at 7 am since it was going to be a hot one and Buddy doesn't handle heat well. It was almost cold in the shade; my fingertips were white for the first hour, but Buddy was in heaven.

While on the trail, we had the pleasure of meeting Michelle, a local runner (this year's Don't Fence Me In 30k winner) and dog lover, whom Buddy has deemed lovely. He would have enjoyed running at her fast clip, but was satisfied just to be outside. We ran what we could, and hiked the rest. Buddy stayed on leash most of the time due to the frequent encounters with deer. I wanted to avoid the panic of waiting for him to return after his attempts to herd them all. Yes, it's happened more frequently than I like.

By the time we reached the top, it was getting hot for him. We attempted to find the connector to the Eddy McClure Trail, which I had planned to take back. Unfortunately, it was in full sun, and Buddy was already panting. For some reason, Buddy hates to drink water on the go. I've read this about herding dogs; they don't want to eat or drink until their job is done. It still makes me crazy as I worry about heatstroke. So, we descended down a shady trail back home.

We finished after about two hours, my longest workout in several weeks. I felt pretty good except for some shin cramping towards the end. I had only brought water, instead of my usual Heed, since Buddy was drinking from it too. I'll either need to bring Saltsticks next time or Buddy will have to get used to Heed!

The school year officially starts tomorrow for staff. I hadn't posted about this change before for reasons not necessary to disclose. My graduate studies were in school social work, but it was hard to find a position in Montana. This past spring, someone retired and I was hired as a Social Services Coordinator for the district. Which means a lot of good things including -

1) I can serve students that need assistance regardless of health insurance or diagnosis
2) I do not need to bill for services
3) I no longer have to do the absolutely ridiculous amount of Medicaid paperwork
4) #3 also means I don't have to worry about doing paperwork at night or on weekends
5) I am no longer on-call
6) I still get to be in the school working with awesome people

It also means I get school holidays and vacations. I consider this a crazy, wonderful perk of the job, but it was definitely NOT the reason I accepted the position. My husband and family are already wondering what I'll possibly do to keep busy next summer. I've got plans though, which include a lot of gardening, visiting family and running.

Since I missed an entire year of races due to this injury, I'm planning to use the winter to rebuild my base and then figure out a race schedule. I've got some ideas, how about you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back Home

Happy 40th Anniversary to my parents!
My mom is not a huge party person, so we opted for a small BBQ with long time family friends before I left. It turned out to be a very fun night looking at their wedding pictures and eventually school yearbooks. My parents are the best, and I'm happy I got to be home.

Buddy and I got up early Monday morning for the long drive back. At 6:30 am, we ran in 40 degrees with a windy cold rain/sleet mix. I'd forgotten how cold winter is going to be. Yuck. After driving (Buddy sleeping in the backseat) for 8 hours, we stopped off in Bozeman to check out Fleet Feet and local trails.

We explored Burke Park and the connecting trail to Lindley Park. There were so many dogs off leash. Buddy must be less anxious because he handled all of the exploratory sniffs from other dogs without a flinch or growl. My ankle handled all of the driving, then the hills without even a twinge of discomfort.

Such nice quiet parks.

On Tuesday, we pondered what to do with our last few days of vacation. Since my achilles has been on the mend since adopting Buddy, I realized he hadn't been on several of my favorite trails. We parked at Mt. Helena and did a hodgepodge of trails, running the flat sections and power hiking the rest. Buddy is getting much better off leash and had his happy face on the whole morning.

Tomorrow is our last day of vacation. I've planned an adventure for us. It will involve getting up really early so we can end before the hot part of the day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


North Dakota has been good to me. The two weeks leading up to vacation were busy with testifying, finishing up my job, visiting with relatives, removing wallpaper, priming and painting the kitchen and dining room, etc. I ended up with pneumonia and lots of medication. I've got to stop doing this to myself. Go, go, go without any consideration of the aftermath.

But, going home is always good for me. There's something about the prairie, the wind, the sun, the smell of dirt that restores me. Plus, time with family. Buddy got to be a farm dog for a few days and wore himself out. His highlights included a good roll in a cow pie followed by a very cold bath from the hose, moving machinery, riding in the tractor, running free for miles, and herding my parent's cat.

I've finally been able to run. Four weeks ago, I gave up even trying - it was just too painful. The rest, the active release, the consistency of stretching must have worked. I noticed last weekend that there was no longer any pain or tightness. Not even in the morning getting out of bed. So, Buddy and I have extended our walks while adding random 3-4 minute jogging segments. It just feels good.

The best part of vacation though has been gardening with mom. Since buying a house, I've been excited to make my first perennial order. I've got a rock garden to fill and can't wait to see it take shape. Steve and I figured out our budget, drew out a plan, picked the tried and true along with some new, interesting items to try. Endless possibilities - can't wait until they arrive!

Off to prepare for my parent's 40 anniversary. Will post more pictures when I get back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The case from hell is done. After many months of hoping it would resolve itself, I did end up having to testify. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I do believe I learned some things about myself and how others operate. I DID enjoy the time spent with friends from the area. Cassi, Heidi and dog Molly ventured out for a pre-thunderstorm hike shortly after I arrived in Kalispell. Cassi is one of the those people in my world who can tolerate me when I'm an anxious, forgetful mess. Maybe she just got used to it after working with me at Summit? Plus, she's one of the few people I can really enjoy being around even when I'm in that state of mind. I forgot my camera that day so no pictures.

Monday night, I got to do some shopping at Sportsman's. Picked me up a 72 ounce bladder for my pack, a not needed sporty purse like thingy, and my much loved Smartwool socks. Then, headed out for Hike #2 with Danni, Leanne, and Callie (see above). We went up to Overlook in Herron Park, one of the new trails to the area. This one looks over Foys Lake. Fun to catch up with these ladies!

After that was dinner and a drink with Andrea. I think I was finally hungry after days of nerve induced starvation. Sorry Andrea for pigging out in front of you, but it was so fun to catch up! Best of luck in your new job. Tuesday morning, I had breakfast with Jessica. Thanks for sharing good news and making me laugh. It's always good to re-connect with you!

On the way home, I drove through Glacier National Park, one of my favorite places. Since our move, I hadn't been back. It was a hazy, but fire free day, with lots of clouds building up. I stopped to take a couple pictures, but they never really capture the moment. It was a peaceful place for reflection. Soon after, a big storm hit and I drove in ferocious winds the remainder of the way to Great Falls.
As for Great Falls, it remains a place I don't much like to be, BUT the Active Release Doc is there and it's been soooo helpful. Crazy painful, but good. I'm still not running, but no longer have the dreaded catch in the Achilles.

Upon return home, I picked up Buddy from the kennel. He'd had to spend the night, and boy was he happy to see me! I finally had to sit on the floor at the animal clinic so he could curl up in my lap. Unfortunately, he didn't eat or sleep the whole time he was there.
We did a quick clean of the house, and had a short visit from Berni. Always lovely to see you Berni, and I'll be sending positive thoughts your way.

The very next day, my parents and in-laws drove in from North Dakota and Nebraska. We did some sight seeing and lots of eating. We took in the boat ride to the Gate of the Mountains. Although it was a trip through a very beautiful area, I'm not all that impressed with the tour. The trip was delayed an hour due to a broken boat, our tour guy sounded like he was getting over bronchitis or developing COPD, the quarters were tight, and it was way too long to sit like that. There was a brief (10 minute) reprieve near Man Gulch. I used the time to book it up the trail, trying to get to the Overlook before the horn sounded. I didn't make it due to the achilles problem and running in sandals, but it was worth the effort just to be out of the dang boat. I then fell asleep on the way back.

Here's the family waiting for the boat...we should have followed the lead of the people behind us. They had a cooler of beer. Smart.

Next up - pictures of the great dining room and kitchen renovation. It was a full family effort!