keep showing up ~ the heart of this running matter


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Last week I wrote about falling out of love with running.  That was really hard for me to write because running has always been part of my life.  After I posted that, I went home and found myself thinking about this.  Why do I feel like this?  Part of it is that my half marathon training has gone to s***.  Seriously, will this winter weather weather go away and let spring have her moment?

I am also tired.  But I did not realize until then that more than anything, I am frustrated... of not losing weight. Holy s***! This slammed me like a ton of bricks because, while I do not love being overweight, I have never let that be a factor that affects decisions in my life.  As a background—on 2010 I had my thyroid removed and since then it has been a constant weight fight.  But I think the heaviest I have been is now, even though I watch what I eat and exercise. My doctor thinks stress has a lot to do with it—marriage and instant full-time stepmotherhood, has been quite a change and especially stepmotherhood, brings a lot of stress to my life.  It has been really hard to loose the weight these past three years and I’m stumped. So I've been in a funk about it.

In many ways, I am letting my weight dictate my attitude and I did not realize it. Ugh.  I feel like a fake—for real.  But, I think realizing this was helpful.  Because running is not about how you look but about the passion for the sport.  I also decided that while, I am training for a half, to also do a few runs without timing myself.  Zen-runner is how I define myself-- not dependent on timing.  But for this training, I am having my dandy GPS with me and I think that is adding a lot to my stress.  That pressure of meeting a certain goal time is crazy and one of the reasons I don’t do races very often. 

My husband is full-speed ahead that I should still do the half and just go and have fun with it.  He is a great motivator and is so excited for me (probably because he isn’t the one running…lol).

Fast forward to today-- there I was at work watching the Boston Marathon as history unfolded in front of my eyes, and I found myself bawling my eyes out thinking "this is why I love running". As Des Linden just dug deep in the freezing rain, she crossed the line and became the first American to with the Boston Marathon since 1985.  After many attempts, she conquered this course and made it HER race. Then Sarah Sellers-- a rookie at marathons came in second.  Seven out of the top 10 women were Americans. All these dreams came true.  Yes!

Suddenly I realized why I love running so much.  It is pure in every sense of the words. It is you against yourself.  And just like that... I was reminded why I just can quit running. Not only because I simply--  LOVE IT.  But because it brings out the best in me.  And that is a great place to be. So as Desi Linden said today (which is now my new mantra)

keep showing up!

have you ever fallen out of love with running?


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I have not blogged about running in what seems like FOREVER.  The last time we spoke, I was training for the half marathon in Tromso, Norway.  And I still am-- however, training has not been as good as I would like.  Towards the beginning of March, I got really tired.  Everything in my body just ached.  After talking to a few running friends, they suspected over training.  So at their suggestion I took about 4 days of rest and it was amazing what those four days did.  And I was back on track with my training.

Then a health scare.  Towards the end of March, I was taking a shower and started touching under my right armpit on a spot that had been sore for a few days now.  As I touched around I felt some nodules that felt like little lentils.  I made an appointment to see my doctor the next day, and she felt I needed a diagnostic mammogram because the nodules were in the lymph nodes area and seemed to be spreading towards my breast. And I felt a chill all over my body when she said that. 

Next day, I went and they did two diagnostic mammograms and an ultrasound.  And the results were in-- the lymph nodes were a bit inflamed but there was nothing suspicious there.  I literally started crying with joy.  All the way to the hospital I remember talking to God and saying:

God, if this is what the doc thinks it is, please cancel that, because after dad’s death 5 years ago— this would crush my mom and brother. But if your will is that this happens, then give us strength and courage. And use this for your Glory. Let me be an example that even in these moments, my faith will never leave you.

But that week really took a toll on me emotionally, and set me back.  Now here I am struggling with this training.  Honestly, I am not feeling the running right now. It is just a struggle to get out and get running.  I am sure the fact that we have an eternal winter, is not helping either.  Here I am, 10 weeks from my first half marathon and I feel lost. Ugh.

What do you do when you are just not motivated--emotionally or physically-- to go running? Any advise?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Weekly Wrap/

Gear Review: High Trek Premium Ultralight Trekking Poles



Winter in Minnesota means one thing—SNOW.  And if you are on outdoors person who loves winter sports, that also means having the proper gear. I enjoy hiking in the winter. I find the trails covered in snow to be peaceful and grounding.  But they can be treacherous with ice.  And this year, my second winter in Minnesota, I was in search of some beginner level trekking poles that would not break the bank. After looking at various brands and prices, I decided on the High Trek premium ultralight trekking poles.

Description: Premium Ultralight Trekking Poles with Sweat Absorbing EVA Grips. They come with Tungsten Tips and Flip Locks, removable rubber ferrules, and mud/snow baskets. Perfect for those who want to try poles without spending tons of money.

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Accessory Kit: Includes Monster feet, snow baskets, and a convenient carrying bag. It also come with protective covers for the tungsten carbide tips. The accessory kit can be purchased with the poles or seperately.

Price: $$

PROS

Weight. As by their name description, these poles are made with ultralight aluminum and weighing only 8.7 ounces each—a welcomed featured for all hikers but especially those with joint problems as it creates softer impacts during hikes.

Adjustment.  My favorite feature of these poles is the ‘flip locks’ for quick and easy adjustment.  Why is it my favorite? Because the twist locks sometimes get loose as you are hiking.  The flip locks keeps the poles in place at the adjusted height you desire.  By the way, these poles are adjustable from 25” to 53” making them especially perfect for those of us who are tall. Note: The instructions say to check the screws on the locking clips. Please do so before use because if they are not tightened, they can come loose.

Grips: These poles have large, ergonomically designed EVA handles which is great if like me, you have large hands. I have long fingers (I am a 6’1” female) and these handles are very comfortable. In addition, they come with adjustable wrist-straps. Many underestimate the importance of the wrist straps to increase comfort and security of those poles, so this was a big pro for me.

Colors: I am a girl and color is important to me. The poles come in a variety of colors (the sky blue was my personal choice).

CONS

Fragility: as entry-level hiking poles, these are great, but I would not recommend them for super challenging terrain.

Locking mechanism. As mentioned above, the instructions say to check the screws on the locking clips. If they are not tightened, they can come loose.  My problem with this is that not everybody reads instructions and if they do not, they may lose a clip screw. 

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Final thoughts: I have used these poles in uneven dirt trails and on snow covered ones, and while they do great on dirt, I feel they do much better on snow uneven trails.  The tungsten tips look fragile but do not fear, they worked amazingly especially going over ice. I tend to hike on terrain with high elevation gains and steep inclines/declines, and the poles are sturdy and provided great stability. My knees thanked me for these. Will highly recommend for beginners.

*** equipment photo credit: Amazon (this is not an affiliate link)

 

weekend musings // tromso, half marathons and being healthy

Happy Monday, everyone!  Hope you had a great weekend!  This weekend was the first weekend in months that I basically did nothing and it felt great. I literally vegged out most of the weekend and I really needed that.  But we managed to get a few things accomplished.  I had one mission this week and that was to finalize all the travel arrangements for our race trip to Tromso, Norway.  For those of you who are not aware, I am running the Midnight Sun Half Marathon in June and I am actually pretty excited.  I normally do not do races (although I love running) but this sounded like fun and hubby was all for it to my pit crew. We also love Norway and were looking for an excuse to go. lol.

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As the name suggests, that high in Norway, the sun does not sent between May and July.  This will be interesting.  Especially because my race time is 10:30 PM.  There will be sun but my body, I am sure, will be thinking it is past my bed time.  But I am totally excited about this!  And I want to make sure I prepare myself as best as possible.  I have been using the Nike+ Running Club Half Marathon plan and it is very comprehensive and detailed, which I like.  I have been building a base but this week is week one of the intense half marathon training.  Wish me luck

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Running has been sort of hard because due to the Minnesota weather, I have had to run on the treadmill which I despise, but you just have to make it happen. So I have had to get creative in the winter by running in snow, hiking, and snow shoeing.  I consider it supplemental training but some winter days are just too gorgeous to spend them outside.

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In all, it was a great weekend, full of mostly nothing nerding out to the Science Channel and History Channel. And it was perfect.  A good balance of indoor and outdoor activities.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap/

moroccan lentil salad with cauliflower couscous


I am not officially a vegan but I eat 90% vegan or vegetarian.  It is what works for me.  Too much meat and I blow up like a balloon at the Macy’s parade.  And this has happened in the past 5 years or so.  Before that I was the ultimate carnivore. But eating mostly vegetarian (or vegan) has its challenges— for me, it is recipes. To be honest most of my meals are a hodge-podge of various produce items in my refrigerator and cabinets (canned).  And I honestly don’t feel like buying a strictly vegetarian or vegan cookbook. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I received my copy of Run Fast Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan.  You probably read about it a few posts back.  Well, a lot of the recipes, if they are not vegan, they can be turn into it.  I really love the book.  It is easy to follow and the photos are beautiful. Also, there are some great stories.  Plus it is Shalane Flanagan—that’s all I am going to say.

When I first browsed through the book the first recipe that caught my eyes was the Moroccan Lentil Salad with Cauliflower Couscous. 

EVERYTHING.

IN THIS RECIPE.

SOUNDS.

DELICIOUS.

That is how strongly I feel about this recipe.  First, while it is a salad (which I personally associate with spring/summer) the flavors make it perfect even in winter. And second, it serves approximately 6 people which means, if it just for you (as in my case since the family turns up their noses at my “healthy” fares) it makes tons of leftovers. 

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 have a love for Moroccan dishes and when I saw this has ‘ras el hanout’ I was totally in.  If you have never used this spice mix you are missing out.  It gives food a beautiful warm aroma reminiscent of the Middle East.  When you this ‘ras el hanout’ think of it as a combination of cumin, ginger, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander seeds, cayenne for a little heat, ground allspice and cloves.  It is just delicious and it reminds me of its Indian cousin ‘garam masala’ another spices mix you must put in your cooking bucket list, if you have not tried it.

Now, this recipe is a two part process—the lentil salad AND the cauliflower couscous.

Moroccan Lentil Salad w/ Cauliflower Couscous (from Eat Fast Run Slow Cookbook by Shalane Flanagan)

Ingredients:

  •  1 1/2 cups cauliflower couscous.  For this, chop cauliflower in food processor until it resembles “couscous” grains the saute in olive oil for 3 minutes.
  • 1 cup dried green lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 medium-size carrots, peeled, grated
  • 2 cups loosely packed chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios or almonds, chopped (I actually used pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout (Moroccan spice blend)

Method:

  • Place the lentils in a medium pot, add the salt, and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender but not mushy, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Place the carrots, kale, nuts, apricots, olives, and Ras el Hanout in a large salad bowl.
  • Add the cauliflower couscous and lentils and toss until evenly combined. Add two-thirds of the dressing (recipe below), toss, and taste. Add more dressing to taste, if needed.

Dressing:

  •  1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper

Steps:

  • Combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt, and pepper in a glass jar with a lid.
  • Shake vigorously until emulsified.drizzle of olive oil. Cover the salad and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap/

is there ever “too many” running shoes?

There are many things in life where you can have “too much” of something.  Running shoes is NOT one of them in my opinion.  One of the things that surprised my husband the most when we married (and actually while we were dating) was the amount of running shoes I had.  And it always struck him as funny that when I came to visit him or we went somewhere on a trip, I always packed a pair of running shoes.  But you know the saying “Have shoes, will run”. Seriously, you never know when you’ll find yourself in an awesome location where you can have an epic run.

But I digress. Running shoes.  Do you know who came up with the ridiculous idea that a person can have “too many” running shoes? A non-runner.  I am convinced.  And as for me, do I have lots of running shoes? Not at the moment.  One of the saddest misfortunes in life was losing all my belonging in a fire almost three years ago, including most of my vast collection of running shoes, especially my most favorite of all time-- Asics GEL-Noosa Tri 6.  It was an awesomely looking and was everything to me.  I have to admit that I bought them because of how they looked but once I tried them on they were perfect for me and I loved running in them.

 MY MOST FAVORITE SHOE EVER!!! Too bad subsequent updates ruined it. :(

MY MOST FAVORITE SHOE EVER!!! Too bad subsequent updates ruined it. :(

 Adidas Vigor Bounce

Adidas Vigor Bounce

But now I only have a few but intend in growing my collection again.  I am always on the lookout for a perfect pair of running shoes and in recent years have fallen short. From low drop to beefy ones like Hoka One One, I have found ok shoes but not one that I would rave about (except for the Vigor Bounce trail running shoe).

So, here is what’s in my arsenal (clockwise):

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 HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON 3. Love the look and cushioning but it’s a bit much. But just like the Clifton 1, it makes my toes numb. Not sure if it is the angle, but my last three toes get numb.  So I use them for walking and they are amazing.

HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON 3. Love the look and cushioning but it’s a bit much. But just like the Clifton 1, it makes my toes numb. Not sure if it is the angle, but my last three toes get numb.  So I use them for walking and they are amazing.

 Saucony Kinvara 3 - good low drop shoe and fast.

Saucony Kinvara 3 - good low drop shoe and fast.

 ASICS NOOSA TRI 8. An update. Not as comfy but still a good shoe.

ASICS NOOSA TRI 8. An update. Not as comfy but still a good shoe.

 Nike MetCon 3 - these are my CrossFit and strength training shoes. I love the slightly elevated platform sole which gives me stability when lifting.

Nike MetCon 3 - these are my CrossFit and strength training shoes. I love the slightly elevated platform sole which gives me stability when lifting.

 BROOKS TRANSCEND. Right now, the shoe I’m using the most if the Brooks Transcend. It is the one that feels the most comfortable and less clunky.  I just wish they stopped squeaking! 

BROOKS TRANSCEND. Right now, the shoe I’m using the most if the Brooks Transcend. It is the one that feels the most comfortable and less clunky.  I just wish they stopped squeaking! 

In all the Saucony and ASICS are awesome for faster speed workouts. So in a way they all serve their purpose.  Of all your shoes, which one is your favorite? Do you have any new shoes you have your eye on?  

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap

Adapting Your Workout to Your Environment + Some Serious Good Eats


One of the things that living through Minnesota winters has taught me is that you have to be able— and willing—to adapt to your environment. When it is subzero and you are not a treadmill person, the only option is to take it outside. Then you choose the proper gear, take appropriate precautions and head outdoors. But once outdoors you have to be able to be more flexible especially is trail running. I have come to really enjoy trail running since I moved here almost three years ago and I find it that is really is good for my soul. 

But in winter, uufda— the best laid plan may still not work. And so was my case this weekend.  The temperature actually warmed up to 10°F so it was like a heat wave! Go ahead and laugh.  I know I did. LOL.  I was so happy! Which is crazy because it was still pretty cold.  But after spending a week worrying and caring for my sick stepkid who has a stomach virus, I needed some fresh air and headed to Whitewater State Park in Altura, MN.  This state park is about 25 minutes from where I live and it is great any season of the year. Though beware in the summer as it is the only place in Minnesota where there are rattlesnakes.  Just a warning. :) I headed there for a little trail run that kept going back and forth between a run and a hike.  It seems that, while around my area we had about 2 inches of snow over the past few weeks, the park definitely got more. 

I first headed to Coyote Trail.  This 4Km trail is very difficult because it is an incline the WHOLE. DANG. TIME.  When you get to the top your legs are burning.  But before you get to the trail you have to cross the Whitewater River via a small bridge.  Once I did it was all good but halfway up the trail was just pure ice and I decided to head down and just run by the river bed which I find also beautiful.  I wanted to get some shots of me running but let me tell you—I suck with the selfie stick. It was hard to run and film.  Just awkward to me.

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After running there, I drove to another part of the park to hit Chimney Trail.  This one was a straight hike.  It has steps all the way to the top then it becomes dirt.  You can run it but I find the steps portion dangerous especially covered in snow.  Honestly, I did not make it all the way to the top because the sun was starting to go down and did not want to find myself alone in the woods in the cold darkness.

In the end I managed to get a good workout that, while not what I initially intended, turned out to be great. I cannot wait for this week because the temperatures are supposed to be in the high 30s and that is my prime temperature for running.  Bring it, you MN bipolar weather! Although in all fairness, it seems the entire US weather is going bonkers.  Before MN, I lived in North Carolina and I loved the weather even in winter.  The coldest it ever got there was about 25F.  Not this week!  I think one night it got down -1F.  That is insane!

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Once I was home, it was to the kitchen (ok, that sounded very 1950s...lol).  But I happen to love cooking and right now I am loving cooking my way through Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook by Shalane Flanagan. I am actually planning on doing so the entire month. I have made about ten of the recipes and they have all been yummy.  But I think my favorites are the salad.  Holy molly! They are delicious, especially the Moroccan Lentil Salad with Cauliflower Couscous (below) and the Recovery Quinoa Salad (left). They are not only packed with nutrients but are so dang tasty!  The Bust Cherry Tomato Linguine with Shrimp was pretty tasty too.

How was your week?

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I am also obsessed with the Burst Cherry Tomato Linguine with Shrimp was pretty tasty too.  It is so good and everyone in the family loved it, including the picky eaters.  For smoothies, the Beets Me Smoothie is the winner.  Now, if you do not like beets then this is not the smoothie for you.  I happen to love them and works for me.  It has been a great week of cooking.

One final thought today-- tonight is the College Football National Championship and I already have no nails left! I am rooting 200% for my Crimson Tide.  So let's do this, Bama!

So, how was your week? Did you venture into the cold for a run? Did you try any new recipes? Do you have this cookbook?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap/

Update:  WE ARE THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  #ROLLTIDE

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My First Subzero Temperature Run + Shoe Review: Adidas Vigor Bounce

Welcome to the Arctic! I mean, welcome to Minnesota or as I like to call it, the “Freezer of the USA”. Normally we do not get these temperatures until the middle of January but not this year. There is nothing like spending Christmas Day holed up inside because it is so cold that the doors were frozen shut. And this craziness extended well into New Year’s Day. This last part worked well because we literally spent the day watching college football bowls and woot! Woot! My Crimson Tide won the Sugar Bowl and is headed for the National Championship next Monday! #ROLLTIDE

But back to running. These temperatures have been brutal for running outdoors. And I needed to do so. I did it… and I love it! My last run of 2017 was a chilly -7°F run on December 30th. I am writing this and cannot believe that I am actually saying this because I always swore I. WOULD. NEVER. DO. THAT. Think again. Friday after work, I got home and the sun was shining in all its glory. I did not intend to run but I started itching to get outside. Have you ever gotten like that? Just antsy to just go out and run. So I bundled up and headed out the door. Now, this was not about time nor distance. I had a ballpark distance in mind but decided to just gauge how far I would run by the signals from my body. What did I learn?

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No. 1 – Within 3 minutes of running, my sunglass lenses just froze.  Literally had a film of ice on the lenses.Which meant I could not see with them. This then caused me to take them off, which caused me to be blinded by the few inches of snow we have on the fields.

No. 2 – I was warmer than I expected. That was surprising. The entire time I was warm (most due to the layers I had).

No. 3 – The only part of my body that was freezing the last part of the run was my thighs.  They were red and when I took a shower after, it was not fun.  I wore two pant layers: a Brooks running tights and a pair of skiing pants that I found two years ago.  They are the best.  But apparently not for this subzero temperature.

As soon as I relaxed in front of the fire I did some research and found something called “thermal tights” which are made for running in the cold, but most were for up to 20°F. Anything under that temperature had to be worn with another layer.  But I found a company called Sugoi, based out of that specializes in cold weather athletic apparel, specifically tights. And they have a few that are for subzero temperatures.  I felt like I hit the jackpot! Now, I eagerly wait for these to arrive.

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No. 4 – Within 10 minutes frost covered any piece of clothing that was in directed contact with moisture and cold air. Meaning, my hat and scarves looked white by the frost. I had pellets of ice on my eyebrow and lashes. It was crazy. I think, next time I am wearing a face mask, even if I don’t love it.

No. 5–I love my trail running shoes! This past fall I made my first official trail running shoe and I wanted to give it a try in snow/ice before writing a review. My new favorite trail shoe is the Adidas Vigor Bounce.

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Immediately, you can tell this is not a shoe for the shy. It screams “Look at me!’.  The design of this shoe was the first thing that caught my eye.  It is sweet. But after that, what did I like:

Traction: One of my biggest pet peeves is trail shoes with no traction. Drives me nuts.And right off the bat this is my favorite feature of this shoe. I have tried it on the trails in dry and wet conditions, over wet leaves, in muddy areas, and now in snow and ice, and this is easily my favorite trail running shoe.  On the trails it is necessary to have a level of confidence on your equipment especially in nasty conditions and the Vigor Bounce delivers. But they really shine in snow, where the traction reminded me of  the all-terrain tires on my Jeep giving me with a secure grip on the run.  This is thanks to Adidas’ ADAPTIVE TRAXION™ outsole for maximum traction on hard and soft ground.  It is a very responsive shoe.

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Stability/Stiffness: While it is a stable shoe, it is not super stiff.  The break-in period for these was about two 4-mile runs, and they feel pretty awesome now.

This shoe is for the neutral runner, however I am a bit of an over-pronator and it works for me.  It provided me the arch support that I needed without any problem.

Since it is winter, I was a bit concerned with the ventilated air mesh upper. It has a protective overlay for support but in snow conditions, I do not want my feet freezing.  This worked like a charm.  My feet were warm just enough to give me a comfortable run. I wouldn’t recommend for deep snow though. Adding a gaiter would be necessary.

All in all— a fantastic shoes for me. 

Have you ever run in subzero temps? Do you have a favorite trail shoe?

 

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap/

Adios 2017. Hello 2018.

I think it is safe to say 2017 was a challenging year overall.  In a personal level it brought some challenges mainly associated with my health and the challenges of being a full-time stepmom—which that deserves a blog of its own. But it also brought some great moments like starting a new job I love, making new friends, and finally getting concrete answers to my health issues. And even the challenges of stepmotherhood served to bring my husband and I together.

Now as we prepare for 2018, I am looking forward to the year with great expectations.  I do not like making New Year’s resolutions but I do like drafting some general goals to keep me focused, and this year they will focus on getting stronger and healthier than this past year, in addition to some awesome adventures. Furthermore, there are some events around the world that will capture my attention in 2018 and I cannot wait for those.

NO. 1

Adding more strength training, cross-training, and stretching to my routine.  Right now, I rarely do any of these (for various reasons) however two weeks ago I started incorporating these into my routine and I am hoping it will pay off in June for my first half marathon.

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NO. 2

Get out and hike! Minnesota has beautiful natural preserves and state parks, and I am planning on visiting as many as I can in 2018, especially in the winter.  There is a raw beauty to Minnesota in the winter.  And as long as I am dressed properly, I am fine with getting out and exploring. And at the top of my list is Voyageurs National Park.  This park near the Canadian border is said to be stunning and pristine. 

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NO. 3

Nutrition. I have to get better when it comes to my nutrition. It is ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.  I have a few resources that I have been reading on fueling for performance, and I think I have a better knowledge base as I move forward. Hint: one of my Christmas gifts was this book from Shalane Flanagan and it is one of the most comprehensive (and beautiful) cookbooks I have seen.  This is all about eating for performance.

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NO. 4

The Little Flower Farm.  This year was my first year with a trial flower garden and come spring, it will be time to get ready for planting the heirloom varieties I am growing this summer.  I was so happy with the results of the growing season that we decided to take the plunge and expand from the trial garden to a larger field in our farm.  Becoming a micro flower farmer is truly a passion of mine, and we are hoping to turn it into a business.  This year will be more focused on getting to the flower markets and getting ourselves known.  These are some of the dahlias from last year and while they were an intense labor of love they were so worth it.

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NO. 5

It is Royal Wedding Time!!! You may not know this (unless you follow me on Instagram or Twitter) but I am a hard core royal watcher.  I know it makes me sound like a stalker but I am not, lol.  I promise.  And this year, I am all about the royal engagement and future marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  This has been the most excited I have been since Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, got married.  And I think I am more excited because Meghan is American. So sue me—I’m totally biased here! Come on May, hurry up!

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running into wintry wonderland / holiday card swap

Every year, I try to go running the day after Christmas.  And I say I try because since I moved to Minnesota three years ago, it seems the day after Christmas is just brutal... even when I follow my own advise on properly dressing for the elements.  And this year is no exception.  With temperatures of -5F that feel like -21F running outdoors is basically impossible, unless you are a superhero.  That or crazy.  This past week was beautiful and Friday was the last time I ran.  It was still brutal and I knew I'd be covered in frost the minute I starting heading home.

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The thing about running in the harsh winter weather is that, at least for me, it seems my muscle have a heck of a time warming up.  Ugh, it was just hard and a few times I had to walk because my legs weren't working.  I love winter running but at at 12F, that is when I knew it was time to head back home.  The entire way back was like seeing the world through sparkly lenses, thanks to the frost in my lashes (always a freaky experience). 

When I got home, I quickly took a hot shower and then relaxed in front of the fire, before finalizing some of the gift wrapping for Christmas.  While defrosting in front of the fire, I thought about my running goals for 2017 and how they basically went to shit (excuse my french).  My weird stomach illness from April until October, followed by the flu, just ate my year.  It is really crappy that it happened but such is life.  And for 2018 my main goal is simple: race the half marathon in Tromson, Norway.  The main focus will be staying healthy and injury free.  It really is a shame that so much time was wasted but thee body is feeling better and I am looking forward to 2018.

The one thing that 2017 showed me was the fun of virtual runs.  This year I did the Rock n' Roll virtual races this year and it was so much fun!  It allowed me to shift my focus from how sick I was feeling to just going out there an having fun in four separate 5Ks. And let me tell you, the medals were awesome! I love them!

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Now, one thing that was so fun this year was participating in Fairytales and Fitness' Holiday Card Swap!  It was my first time and was so much fun!  Each participant was paired with another blogger to swap cards (and a goodie was encouraged).  I was so happy when I received the cutest card from Heather at 3 Black Cat Co. and she was so gracious in sending a Target gift card (which, I am a total Target girl).  I definitely need to do more of these in the future.

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My card swap buddy that I sent a card to was Katrina from My Pineapple Ponderings.  I am excited to have found her blog because she is training for the Boston Marathon and I have a lot of respect for people who are committed to a goal like this.  The 10K is the longest distance I have run so this half marathon I am doing in the summer is way outside my comfort zone.  So when a person is so dedicated to run 26.2 miles, they have my utmost respect.  So, run girl run!

How was your holiday? Were you in the naughty or nice list?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday / Weekly Wrap/