Friday, May 18, 2012

Getting back to normal

Actually, that title should read getting back to some semblance of normalcy, because I don't know if I will ever be able to classify myself as normal ... and I am okay with that.

The past two weeks have been crazy busy.  After getting back from the Kalamazoo Half Marathon last week, we barely had time to catch our breath before we were off to the Ice Age Trail 50-Mile, 50K, and Half Marathon in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Morainne.  Hubby was running the 50-Miler, while I had signed up to spend the day volunteering.

This was a fantastic experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it.  I worked the main aid station at the start/finish, which is also where the runners all looped through at least once during their events.  My shift started at 5:30 a.m. and ran until 2 p.m.  It was a long day of setup, replenishing supplies, handing out water and Heed, and cheering people on to their finishes, but it was so amazingly rewarding.  I was told while working that there is a "rule" that this year's volunteers are next year's participants.  I don't know how true that is, but I am intrigued.  If I can run the two to three marathons I have in my head between now and then, I might sign up for the 50K next year.  It would be a phenomenal challenge.

My aid station before setup
After setup
50 Miles? Easy. Just follow the arrows
to the finish.
Waking up is hard to do, especially
when the alarm goes off at 3:55 a.m.
so I can work all day
Start line ... very informal somehow.  I love it!
Finish line and clocks.... Building in the back provided
a great veggie lasagna, bbq, and more after the event!
Post-race fire pit and one very happy chair.
Awards and food tent with approach to finish on right.
Watching the empty bend in the trail
for hubby to appear.
Yay! Third 50-Miler in the books!
Yes, this is why I want to do an ultra. I want to
look like this at the end of a race.  Uh-huh...
After the race, we headed to the Wisconsin Dells to meet up with the GPs and kids for a couple of nights of water park fun.  It's hard to top a water park with young kids, so we all had a great time.  I even sucked it up enough to go on the Howling Tornado slide, which I had refused to do last time we were there.  It's hard to refuse when your six-year-old daughter is begging you to join her on it.  Anyway, I survived, and it was actually kind of fun!

This past week, has had its own adventures.  On the ride back from the Dells, we stopped at Devil's Lake State Park, so that I could do a one hour run.  Long story short, instead of doing a simple out and back, I decided I would try to loop around the lake.  Well, I got lost.  I mean, really lost.  I ended up off trail, back on trail and then off again.  The route back took me up, up, up to the nosebleed East Bluff trail.  The views were amazing, but when I reached the end of the trail it just dried up.  Another trail headed down over rocks and ledges, which required strong tricep-dip action.  After edging my way around a ledge (look at your feet, look at your feet, do NOT look down), I determined I couldn't actually see where the trail was going.  So, back around the ledge and up again, only to backtrack on the East Bluff.  Shortly after doing that I found another trail down, which hadn't been clearly marked (to my mind).  A couple coming up the trail assured me it would get me down to where I wanted to go and it was traversable.  A short third of a mile jaunt straight down on rock steps led me indeed to my finish.

I have to say that mistakes were made on this run.  One, I should have done the out and back.  Two, I should have taken more water and my cell phone.  Three, I should have looked for the map when I determined at the start that I had dropped it.  Aside from causing unnecessary delay when we all really wanted to be getting back home, I know I caused Hubby some worry.  I feel bad about that.

Family at Devil's Lake
Thank goodness for caterpillars,
otherwise the kiddos might have been bored.
Additionally, I don't know what to think when a park site has as a major heading on their webpage - Ticks.  Ever since, I have felt the tickle of imaginary (I hope) tick feet dancing over my body at odd moments.  Eww, I can't think of anything grosser.

On the positive side, the views from the trail were fantastic, and I feel I discovered a new awesome place to visit.  I know they host a Dances with Dirt race there, and I have to say I am intrigued by it now.  I have heard it is extremely tough, and I believe it.  But the toughness of the course rarely factors into it when I sign up for a race.  (No wonder I never do that well!)

After Devil's Lake, it was back towards home - with a quick stop at a travel center to buy a huge bottle of Gatorade and some Dairy Queen.  It's funny how the vegan thing never seems to quite work out for me, even though I really like the idea of it.  Sigh.

Tuesday and Thursday of this week I have managed not to do any rowing.  Tuesday, I was just too pooped out and doing too much around the house.  Yesterday, I spent the whole day gardening, and I thought that should count for something.  See the results?  Pretty bare, huh?   Hopefully, the flowers will grow in.

Wednesday's run is a different story, I ran not once, but twice.   I can't remember the last time I did that.  I can't say either run was that comfortable, as I think I am paying for Monday's adventure still.  However, I made it through a four-mile group run with the Wednesday morning folks, and then headed out with the same friends for a 3.5-mile run that evening.  The first run was rewarded with a coffee; the second with wine.  What a great day of running!  Aches and pains-wise, my left achilles area is feeling pretty tender still today after those runs.  So, I am icing and massaging and, generally speaking, heading into semi-cautious mode.  I say semi-cautious, because if I get the chance today, I will try to run on it and see what I've got.  If that fails, then I will row.  And, if that fails, I will mentally cuss myself out and then RICE it.

See?  As I said, things are getting back to normal!

Happy Running!

Picture of the day: Long line of windmills marching down the landscape.

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