My Life Update - What a Crazy Summer!

Hello, frens! It has been a few weeks since I posted on the blog but life has been so busy! So today I am sharing what’s going on in my life:

Work. I start a new job this week! I work as an administrative assistant at Mayo Clinic and I applied for a job as HR Recruiter since my background until I retired from the Army two years ago was in human resources. I thought I did not want to continue in that career path but then this posting came open and I had to try. What is special? It is trying to recruit other fellow veterans. And not just recruiting but there is also a mentoring aspect to it that really appealed to me. I think this job was meant to be because ever since I started working here 2.5 years ago, I have always felt that Mayo is a great fit for veterans. I start this week and I am super excited!

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Life. We are still continuing to recover from a crazy busy summer. Anybody else? Holy smokes! The boys head back to school in two weeks and they are already exhausted from all the sports camps (that they wanted to be in), trips and family reunions. Yes, I know what you are thinking…

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But life really has been busy. :)

Riley. The rescue doggie world continues to teach me lessons. Riley is getting better with his issues but he is still reacting to people walking by our house like terrorist are at our door. So we continue with training to try and desensitize him to all. Yesterday he had his first dental cleaning and blood work EVER in his life an d happy to announce that he got a clean bill of health. I was concerned because he drinks lots of water and has gained weight. But after the tests (which are wow— so expensive), it is obvious that it is more user error on my part. To be honest, I am not used to feeding a dog his size (he was 50 lbs. when I rescued him), so the vet gave me some pointer on how to start decreasing his food intake. Riley is not happy about this. lol.

Weather. I don’t know where you live but here in Minnesota we have been having some good ol’ fabulous autumn season weather. I am talking 59F in the morning with a high of 75-80F, and I am loving it. Riley sure is as these are usually a wheaten terrier’s favorite temperatures. It just has been amazing! I hope it stays like this until fall actually arrives! :)

Running. Running has ben slow going since I last blogged. I tweaked my right foot really good, walking Riley of all things. I stepped the wrong way, and because I was wearing flip flops, my foot rolled inwards. It was fine that day but the next started hurting. So I have been babying that foot and its feeling almost normal. Tomorrow I am meeting some friends at the trail and we will see how it goes. Fingers crossed!

Any plans this weekend?


Running the Trails ~ Welcome to the Sauna


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And just like that July is almost over! WTH? This month just flew by. This was a very interesting month because I am continuing to hit the trails and can I tell you something? I am kinda falling in love with trail running. There is something just so meditative about it. And it is interesting the little things you start noticing as you learn what works and what does not. This past week was hot as hell (yes, it is my blog and I will complain about the sauna we had this past week) so the runs went indoors. The thing is that the gym really does not motivate me to run, so I did some running along with some strength training, then today I could not take it anymore and I went to the trails. Yes it was miserable but I felt so much better afterwards.

I went to Whitewater State Park in Elba, Minnesota— about a 25 minute drive from where I live. I really like this state park because it offers a bit of everything. I decided to run Coyote Trail, a 2.7 mile trail that while not extremely long, it is very challenging. I normally start at the trail head behind the visitor’s center but today I decided to start at the south end of the trail and let me tell you— that was a mistake. Starting a run climbing about 335 steps straight up is not my idea of easing into a run. My legs were burning. As I caught my breath I asked myself “is this worth it?”.

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And I tell you what— the view at the top was amazing and sure made it all worth it. And that is one of the things I have learned: the view is always fantastic at top. But also, it’s ok to stop for a second and take it all in. Because in those moments you truly see nature at its awesome self!

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This trail is beautiful but also pretty treacherous because parts of it are very rocky and slippery, and also very steep at times. In some areas the wildflowers were in full bloom and at times it felt like I was running in a dream surrounded by flowers. But then when I got to the halfway point a big bummer— the trail was closed due to a bridge out. Probably the one at the beginning of the trail on the north side. We’ve been having lots of flooding due to lots of rain so I was not totally surprised. But anyhow, I continued on going west down a trail I have never been on and it was so good and challenging but also very creepy. And I freaked myself out by saying “This did not end well in the movies”. I have issues…lol. I did run a little bit more but then I turned around because I really was freaked out. Anybody else feel freaked out on the trails by themselves?

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I turned around the same way I came, going through winding trails, wildflower meadows and the dreaded steps, which now were going downhill but they were slippery from the humidity in the air. Timing wise, it was the perfect time to turn around and head home as some ominous clouds had started to gather. By the time I got to my car, I was wet but not from rain but from sweat and the humidity. All I could think of was a shower and the chili lime shrimp tacos I was making for dinner. Yes, food is a big motivator for me. #sorryiamnotsorry.

In all, it was a great day and fitting way to cap the week which was as follows:

  • Monday - Rest

  • Tuesday - 2.0 miles

  • Wednesday - Strength Training (Full Body)

  • Thursday - 2.0 miles

  • Friday - Yoga

  • Saturday - Rest (oh, does house cleaning and weeding the garden count as exercise? Asking for a friend)

  • Sunday - 2.7 miles

How was your week? Is your weather miserable too? What part of your workout are you looking forward to this week?


Weekly Wrap-Up: HELLO TREADMILL… UGH.

What a week it has been. At no point am I reminded of the difference between when I was single and now that I am a fulltime stepmom of two… lol. The week was a flurry of baseball practices, games, 4-H projects, working at the county fair, in addition to my work. Aside from the weekend trail run and hiking, thanks to the yucky weather plus those insane Minnesota biting gnats (what in the world is with those?), I honestly have not been in the mood to put in the miles outdoors after work. Thankfully Mayo Clinic, where I work) has a fantastic gym and I have been going there during lunchtime. Do I love the treadmill? No, but it is what it is.

This week I added a day of what I call intentional stretching because I was just stiff—part of that is that I work in an office and even though I have a standing desk, sometimes my body just gets very stiff from the sitting and standing, and also my ankles swell a bit. Ugh. Anyway, I felt so much better afterwards. I needed that. I also added a HIIT/strength training with a full body workout, which may also explain why I was stiff the next day.

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The running is coming along nicely and I am optimistic that I can be injury free for this race in September if I continue my very conservative mileage. I know it may not seem like a lot of running but it is what I know will work for me to prepare for this short trail race.

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Do you have any big plans this weekend? It is supposed to be gorgeous here!


An Unexpected Visitor on a SundAy MorninG!


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This past weekend, we had glorious weather. On Saturday I went trail running (see my previous post) and the next day Sunday arose in a spectacular way and with temperatures around 65F— perfect for Riley and I to go hiking. We went to the bluffs in Winona, MN, along the banks of the Winona Lake, which was crystal clear that morning. The Winona Bluffs trail is mostly shaded which is perfect for Riley, to keep him from getting overheated. Aside from a cross country team on a run, we had the trails to ourselves. Riley, of course, was in heaven with all the new scents and places to explore.

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The particular trail we took was a single track out (ending in a clearing) then back. The quietness was only broken by the sound of rustling leaves, the birds singing, and the jingling of Riley’s dog tag. It was just so peaceful. When we reached the clearing, a pair of squirrels playing in the grass caught Riley’s attention. Suddenly, out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed a slight movement. And behold, standing by the tree line was a deer. Just standing there watching Riley and I. It’s funny because you could tell the deer seemed to be contemplating whether to get closer or not. Finally with a snort, he changed his mind, and ran into the vegetation, and of course Riley wanted to follow. This was such a special moment for me because this is the closest I have ever been to a deer.

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After that’s awesome experience, we headed back into the trail to go to our car. Along the way Riley felt the need to stop at every puddle and stream we came across but it’s ok because by then it was getting warm. In all, t was a beautiful morning with the best companion.

The last photo was taken later that day as we drove past the Winona Lake facing the bluffs we hiked that morning. It was a beautiful sunset that painted the sky orange, and the perfect way to end the weekend.


That "Oh crap! Trail Running Isn't the Same as Road Running!" Moment


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This week was fantastic. Good week at work and good week running. I continue to train and my body is responding by being as sore as I could expect it to be, but no pain, my friends.

And this is especially good because this week I took my training runs to the trails. I think there was a misunderstanding on my last running post about the North Face Challenge race I am doing— my first— and that is because that race is not until September. That will be my first official trail race. But as far as the training for that race, I gave myself a few weeks of training focusing on short runs and strength training before moving that training to the trails. And honestly— it did not matter because holy smoke… the truth about trail running hit me in the face— no matter how fit you are, trail running and road running are very different. 🤪

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My favorite thing about the trails is that it is so damn gorgeous! I feel closer to who I am when I am on the trails hiking and running, but to be here training, takes more focus than I normally would have if I was running on the road. Running on the road, aside from paying attention to traffic, you can really go into auto-pilot and just go. Not here! The minute you get comfortable, a rock trips you or a branch hits you in the face. I find that I am always alert which in ways takes away from noticing the exertion as much as I normally would.

The uneven terrain makes it super tricky at times. Unlike doing hills on a road surface, on the trails I found that when I was going downhill I had to really focus on my speed or I would just run downhills really fast and without control. This was especially scary on rocky areas of the trails where it was also slippery and uneven. Ugh, at one point I tripped on a rock and how I did not go tumbling down the trail is beyond me. #runninghazards

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But to me, the biggest hazard of trail running is its beauty. The trails in the summer are stunning and summer in Minnesota is one of my favorite seasons (except for the biting gnats). So as I am running, I am in awe of nature and how beautiful it is with all the green leaves rustling in the wind, the wildflowers growing by the side of the trails, the areas that remind me of a jungle, and wildlife coming out and saying hello. And I am so wrapped that I don’t notice when situations like this happen…

Ummm, where did this come from? I don’t remember a fork on the road in the map.

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If you are a planner like me, you know we don’t like surprises (which also makes trail running an odd choice since surprises are in high supplies on the trails). So when I come to a terrain feature like this, I am stumped at first. On this occasion, I continued on but in my head I was like “WTH, Nature? Stick to the plan!”. But then as I sat in my car, I smiled because this is the most fun I have had running in a long time, and the differences between road and trail is really what is calling my name. So, I just continue to take one day at a time, and continue to get used to this new environment for running. Because truth is, after every run, I cannot wait to do it again!


Thankful for the Little Moments


Not all my favorite moments with Riley are outdoors. Some of them are just relaxing at home. His furry paws wrapped in a blanket, the sweet puppy eyes he gives me when he wants something, the hilarious growls when he wants to get my attention, but especially those moments when he reminds me there is no personal space for me. I am his human— his person— and if he wants to lick my face he will… all 50 lbs of furry perfection will. :)

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I may be joining these fantastic bloggers: Our World Tuesday, Mosaic Monday, Friday Bliss.

RAMBLINGS FROM A WORRIED NATURE LOVER


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I am worried, friends. As I watch the news and keep and eye on what is going on in the world, I see this intentional attempt by powerful people to destroy our natural resources. I see people across the globe dealing with pollution, the mountains of trash overwhelming. And I wonder— when does it all stop? When do we finally say: enough.

I cannot help thinking these things when I am surrounded by nature. The stark contrast between this place and some areas of the world is inconceivable. We are in one of Minnesota’s state park— Whitewater State Park— for a short hike while the severe weather took a break. It has been brutal where I live with thunderstorms and flooding. Climate— whether you believe in climate change or not, we have to admit that, as a race, we are taking crappy care of our resources and it is all intertwined. Climate, nature, soil, stream… And as I stand here surrounded by all this beauty and accompanied by this living being who I am responsible to care for, I do not have the answers, But others do. Why do we fight with each other when it comes to taking care of our natural patrimony. Why is it so hard for all to sit at the table and come up with solutions?

I don’t have the answers. I am just rambling because I feel earth’s clock is ticking and I am worried about when it stops. So I hike my little corner of earth and let my eyes roam— the stream, the trees, the wildflowers, and this goofy dog walking next to me— it fills me with happy because for this moment, it is all here and it is all mine to enjoy and protect.

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Getting Back Into Running and My First Trail Race!


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It has been YEARS since I lined up at a starting line to go on a race, and for many reasons. First—I am not a racer. There is something about running against time that makes this a significant emotional event. Then there is the myriad of medical issues I have had. In the past two years, I can count with two hands the times I have actually gone running. And the majority of the time I come back with a pain in my hip. So two months ago I started easing back into running as if I was a couch potato (well, technically I have been) and I am so glad to report that the body is not breaking nor in pain.

The photos above are not from today but I love it because running makes me feel grounded and remind me how happy I am when running. It is a love/hate relationship but more like love. I have run all my life since kindergarten and I refuse to believe that my “body isn’t built for running” when I have done exactly that for 30+ years. It makes no sense to me. But again, easing really slowly into it has helped me tremendously. Yet for the first time in my life, and probably because of everything I have been through, I feel like I want to do races. I am truly tired of what I call “zen running”. So off I went to find the one race that called my name.

In choosing a race, there were two other requirements— First, I want it to be a trail run. I have been doing more of that than running on the road and I think it has benefitted me so much. Second, I want to do a short distance since this will be my first official intro to trail running. And so, after much research, I did it—I registered for the North Face Challenge 5K in Madison, WI. I was tempted to register for the 10K but I do not want to overdo it plus I want to also have fun on my first trail race.

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While the race is advertised as in Madison, WI it is actually in the Ice Age Trail in Kettle Moraine State Park. From what I checked, there is a variety of terrain—from flat, wide sandy horse trails to packed-dirt trails through forest and prairie. And because of this, while the course is challenging, it is a perfect intro to trail running. 

And I am all excited about this!  Just please pray (or send good vibes) so I continue to be heathy and without injuries. :)

Joining Fridays with Fairytales & Fitness, Runfessions, Weekly Wrap, #RIOTS (Running Is Out Therapy) Link-Up.

Introduction to Water


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There we were in the middle of a blistering early summer day when it got to be unusually hot—as unusually as it can get in Minnesota this early in the summer.  We went on a little hike by Farmer’s Park, a local area with a family park and also a few trails, and I could tell it was getting warm for Riley so I took him to a stream nearby to cool off, but more importantly to see how he would react to water.  I do not have any idea how he would be in this environment. My previous dogs would either freak out or just be like “meh”.  I was pleasantly surprised that Riley did not freak out in the water.  He was more curious than anything.  And because he is a rescue, I think he has this fear that he will be left behind.  I am his person for sure, so unless I lead he will not follow.  Thankfully I was wearing proper shoes for crossing a stream so in I went. The water was cool and it was a shock at first, but then felt so good.  Riley followed, curious about the water but also about the vegetation on the banks. In all a good outing and one we will definitely repeat.

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“Ummm… you want me to do what?”

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The First of Many


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As we stood on the overlook point, he stood panting but taking it all in. I wondered if he understood what he was seeing.  Do dogs understand that feeling of awe at the vastness of nature? Below us, the bluffs so distinctive to this area gave way to the mighty and very high, Mississippi River.  I took it all in. The light breeze reached us, cooling us from the hike to the point.  I think this is Riley’s first hike and if that is the case, I am happy I get to give it to him. A little part of me is sad that he may have never gotten to experience this and so many other firsts.  Yet Riley seems to truly enjoy the newness of it all. I cannot help smiling imagining what his brain is thinking with all the news smells and sights.

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I realize in this moment that this is what happiness and contentment feels like. I am content in this specific instant.  I closed my eyes and say a little prayer of thanksgiving because Riley and I have all our senses. I always feel closer to God when I am in the midst of nature… of His Creation.  My eyes take in the blues and greens.  The sun warms us reminding us that winter is finally gone if only for a few months before fall arrives.  And I want to hold on to this moment for as long as I can.

In the background the chirping noise of woodpeckers catches Riley’s attention. His ears perk up making them look like little pendants. His whole body goes to attention. He looks around and you can immediately see  his terrier instinct kick in. Quick feet turn around facing the chirping noise.  The breeze rustles the leaves on the tree canopies but it does not muffle the chirping. Riley wants to follow it but I want to remain still. I am enjoying this too much, still scarred by the memories of a winter that seemed to last forever.

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Finally I give in and we head back. This is a short hike introducing him to a new adventure. This trail system overlooking the Mississippi River Valley offers various trails and today we are in the South Overlook Trail, one of the shortest but it offers beautiful views at two different points. As we walk through the forest up gently rolling hilly areas, Riley smells everything—a fallen rotting tree branch, the bark of a tree, the plants along the trail. His sense of awareness is in the now and in full alert. Oh, to live like he does! Riley reminds me to live in the moment and I make myself a promise to do so. For now I put away whatever issues I have or any errands I have to run. For now I am here, alive and with the most adorable puppy by my side. I am content and Riley seems to be too. I plant a big kiss on that head of his and laugh, the noise sounding foreign because for so long I did not hear it. This little creature brings me joy and I promise to do the same. Gear up buddy, we have many more adventures. This is just the first of many.

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A Road Made for Us


Welcome to Two for the Road, a little attempt at journaling my outdoor experiences with my new recue dog, Riley.  In March, I adopted Riley, six months after the death of my 17 year-old wheaten terrier, Jack. It was a crushing experience that left me wondering if, after 18 years of loving dogs but also experiencing the crushing heart when they pass away, I really wanted another dog.  But then through  Facebook page I saw a post about Riley, another wheaten terrier who was looking for a home. To make a long story short, I am now the joyful owner of this 5 year-old dog, with the personality of a puppy. And after years of rescuing seniors, I had forgotten how much energy a younger dog has. But in a way, it has been a welcomed change.

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Riley-bear, as I call him, is one of those dogs who exude joy and playfulness.  We are working through some anxiety and behavioral issues, but that does not take away from his personality. He is a happy dog! After the sadness of the past six months, he has brought so much laughter and happiness, and at times frustrations that are short lived because he just wants my love and affection, and I am more than happy to be the recipient of that unconditional love.

And it is this personality that has already taught me something, just as I have learned with all of my other dogs.  In two months that he has been with me, Riley has shown me the power of living in the now, about being joyful in the current circumstances. And so I am letting that lesson soak in.  When I am not at work, I am taking crazy with me to enjoy the outdoors.  My husband and his kids are not into hiking or running, but I am and thankfully Riley is too. So whenever the weather permits, we are hitting the road and going on adventures. He loves the outdoors and there is a road out there made for us. So we are taking it. Do you want to come with us? Join us!

 

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