Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running the Good Race...

I write about a lot of things food and exercise on this blog but every once and a while I like to step outside those boundaries. I'm here at Joni & Friends (JAF) Family Retreats for my 6th year. Our focus for the week is "Press On," based on Philippians 3:14 "Running the good race..." which of course I absolutely LOVE.

A major mission of JAF is to help individuals affected by disability to form a supportive network to cope with the struggles their disability presents, the most major piece of that network being God/religious faith and the other being individuals who have similarly struggled and understand. Life is its own sort of endurance race and here it is a huge gift to witness healing power of simply realizing you're not running it alone!
Happy to be here with family :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Race Report: BRRC 10 Mile Relay

 Last year the hubby and I participated in a local event put on by the Baltimore Road Running Club which involved a 10 mile 2-person relay. It was fun, definitely tough in the summer heat but also a great opportunity for a group workout with each person running 5x 1 mile. 

Lucky for us, it was in the cards for us to be in Baltimore again for this race as we're in route to the Poconos for camp! We invited along a few friends to join, which always makes for some friendly competition :)
Me, the hubby, bro-in-law and Tim!
I don't know why, but I ended up being a bit overly excited about this relay. I wasn't originally and definitely remember telling my husband "no way" at the idea of doing it again (I think last year he dragged me skin and nails out there...) Mile repeats are pretty daunting and I think I would have rather done a nice long easy run instead. But my husband was insistent (those of you who know him know he's good at that!) and I warmed up to the idea, deciding it was a great opportunity to see what sort of speed I have right now. With having run this in 2012 and also some similar mile repeats this past January it would serve as a good measure of fitness.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Farm Share Update: Riverstone Tour & Potluck

I think my husband's obsession with plants is starting to rub off on me. Really... It's sort of scaring me! I used to make fun of the poor kid but now I get it. The only thing: I love plants that produce good food and I definitely don't have a green thumb. And that's where our CSA has come in handy!

This past Sunday afternoon, we dragged ourselves off the couch for a drive through the countryside to Floyd to visit what we're now calling our "adopted farm." The owners of Riverstone Organic Farm, which provides our CSA each week, invited their shareholders out for a mid-season tour and potluck dinner and we happily obliged!
That's Riverstone off in the distance!
We arrived and mingled we the farm staff and other guests before the tour began. As we started out into the fields, thunder rumbling in the distance. No fear, we're all sorta outdoorsy people, right? Clim, the farm manager, took us around and we got to learn more about how the farm is operated.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Garden Update: Mid-Summer's Harvest!

It's been a while since I've updated on our deck garden and it has really taken off in the past month! Late June into July presented us with plentiful sunshine followed by a week of heavy rain more recently.  Much of the New River Valley where we live was flooded in that week, and some of the plants took a beating because of getting too much water without the ability to dry out.
Here's the majority of the garden just after an evening rain storm.

We harvested our broccoli about 3 weeks back. We were able to pull 4 large broccoli heads from the original harvest, then these baby shoots grew and we harvested those too. The leaves are pretty big and I just trimmed off the last of them a few days ago to chop up and use in stir fry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Banana Ice Cream . . . And A Triathlon!

I've got big run goals for the fall and run training has been going well. But truthfully, Blacksburg, especially in the summer, simply reminds of triathlons! I do miss my college days where I spent 4+ years with the VT Triathlon Team and I definitely miss the variety that tri-training presents. I find swimming to be relaxing (most days) and it's hard to beat a good bike ride through the valley with the warm air blowing in your face. Pure bliss!

Triathlon flashback, sophomore year (2007) with my BFF
If you look at my schedule you'll notice a mini triathlon wedged in between a lot of longer runs. It's been 3+ years since my last active season as a triathlete but I've been trying to keep one on my schedule each year. This one falls only one week post-30 miler... eh...well at least it's short :) It's just for fun and a mental break because those longer races can definitely wear me down. My "training" is cross training once or twice per week and has definitely been a good thing (thanks coach!) My heart is happy with the change of pace, my legs less beat up and I feel like I'm doing more to soak up all that is wonderful with summer here in the 'burg.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Life Married to an Ultra-Runner . . .

... Means you had better be ready to prepare mass quantities of food at any time.

My husband and a friend set off today on a 35 mile adventure which they called the "Catawba Run Around." For those of you familiar with southwest Virginia, that's running from North Mountain to Tinker Cliffs, then to McAfee's and finally back to Dragon's Tooth. Sounds fun... but I gladly sat this one out. While he was trotting through the woods I had a peaceful and semi-productive day at home :)
Great job boys!
Anyway, a solid 8 hours after he left this morning I received a much expected phone call: "We're at the top of the mountain and will be done shortly. I'm starving and we need gigantor amounts of food [for two]." Yes, that's a direct quote and you can imagine I'm pretty used to hearing this. I was at the gym and had (A) failed to go grocery shopping in my 8 hours of down time and (B) forgotten to bring my wallet with me. Oops. I took it as a challenge and it was fun! I rushed home and got busy, first taking note of the food I had to work with which was not much... but luckily I had just picked up our farm share and we almost always have some sort of noodle and eggs on hand.

Making a mess in the kitchen... typical :P

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Adventures: Angel's Rest

Summer is flying by and I almost forgot that I have a 50 miler trail run coming up...

Mountains? What mountains? With just under 4 months until Mountain Masochist I thought maybe the trails and I should get reacquainted :) Actually, it's been a great week for trail running. Three runs in one week on the trails must be a record for me (sad, but true).
On our way to Pearisburg to run up Pearis Mtn (to Angel's Rest and beyond) 
The hubby and I set out for Giles Co to check out a new section of the Appalachian Trail (for me at least). With a quick pit stop at his PT clinic, we dropped off our post-run meals and drove halfway up the mountain to the trail head.
Starting point... and me procrastinating per usual :)
The initial climb was quite a challenge! 16% grade and 1600+ feet in elevation gain in approximately 2 miles according to my Garmin.  It felt like we were running straight up and the trail was narrow and very rocky at times. We took our time... honestly I hate warming up running up the side of a mountain and my calves hate it even more. But, I took it in stride more so than usual and stayed pretty close to the hubby. He also walked quite a bit which made me feel better, but then again he may have just been waiting for me, haha.
Taking in the view at the top: Angel's Rest. What you don't see is me clinging to the rock in fear of getting too close to the edge... I'm definitely afraid of heights!
Gorgeous view overlooking Pearisburg.
About a half mile down the trail at a different overlook.

The rest of the run was pretty smooth sailing comparatively. The trail was very run-able with rolling hills along the ridge line. Though it was still VERY humid, the temperature felt a good 10 degrees cooler on top of the mountain (thankfully). We encountered varied terrain and my favorite section was a mile long tunnel of overgrown rhododendrons. You know it's pretty narrow when this shorty has to duck and run. 

Closer to the halfway point, the trail became pretty rocky and technical. I loved it other than the fact that they were pretty wet and slick. I took it a little slower than normal... I was in the mood to stay upright!
"Run Happy"
Just past the halfway mark proved to be the roughest section for the day. We hit a ~1.5 mile uphill section just before mile 12 and I could tell my energy levels were dropping. Jordan too looked like he was about to fall asleep. Ok, I was a little worried we had ventured out too far at this point. We had just turned around and had a long return trip home, but I pushed the calories a little more perked right up. The ever-so-wise hubby told me that I'd have a 2nd, 3rd and probably a 4th wind to carry me through the distance. He was right and we took turns leading for a while. With roughly an hour to go though we both ran out of water... definitely not ideal considering the buckets of water I'd been loosing all day. Like I said, I'm glad it felt much cooler at the top of the mountain.
One last moment at the ove-look before making the final descent back down the mountain.
I'm so incredibly happy with this run! I think the hubby was a bit surprised that I kept up pretty well and didn't complain even once :) I felt pretty relaxed, strong, steady and enjoyed the hours of bouncing along through the woods. My legs held up nicely and my fueling went much better than usual (minus being slightly under-fueled and running out of water... ok, not perfect yet). Though I'll have to cover more than double the distance in November, this leaves me with a bit more confidence regarding my ability/desire to cover 50 miles.  The hubs and I worked well together and I'm SO thankful for his company... Some days I love the solitude of being out there by myself but I'm much happier with him by my side!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

There's Beauty in Our Imperfections

Call me crazy, but my garden is teaching me a valuable life lesson. Maybe we've been spending a little too much time on the deck, watching it grow lately?

This afternoon we picked the first of our yellow squash:

My first reaction was to think "Wow, these are far from perfect looking like the one's in the store!"

I quickly took my words back. After looking at the squash a little longer, I was a bit mesmerized by how the same plant could produce such unique fruit! One is smooth, long and curvy and the other a bit more plump with dimples. Both I'm sure are equally delicious and neither is certainly better than the other.

In a world that seems to stress conformity and popularity, it would be easy to stifle our unique qualities in favor of fitting in (or in my case it's always been to not stand out). Is it not true that God created us uniquely is His image? It's easy to want to change "this" or "that" and striving towards growing as a person is certainly not wrong. But, there's beauty in our imperfections ... and honestly it's just no fun to act or look like everyone else!

Green and purple peppers
My husband has always told me that I march to the beat of my own drum. A bit quirky, yes, but aren't we all in our own way? Some days I struggle with this and other times I embrace it, but I'd love to see the pendulum swing more towards the latter =)

Just a little food for thought ... brought to you by "le garden de Chang"!

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