Race Day Recap

IMG_1647Race number 10 is in the books. For some, 10 races is a typical summer. For me, it was a number I never thought in a million years I’d hit. I mean, seriously, me? Finish 10 races… 7 of which were half-marathons? Seems absurd.

My tenth race was a repeat of Journey’s in Eagle River, Wisconsin. It was the 20th anniversary of the race. It is the perfect small-town race in a cute tourist town that has not one but two candy shops on Main Street and three local coffee shops.

I’m happy to say I finished the race. But, if I’m being honest, it was a rough race, as in, really rough. There was of course the mishaps leading up to the race – winter illnesses, losing my mojo and skipping a few key runs, not losing any weight, and then my first real injury. Two weeks before the race I self-diagnosed myself with what I can only describe as plantar fascia. In my unprofessional medical opinion, it wasn’t severe but solid pain. I have a super low tolerance for pain so this was an epic injury. It also came at a time when I wanted to quit anyway. I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR or in fact have a run I could feel good about. This in itself would have been enough, but then there was the extended forecast. Over the course of a week, I watched the forecast plummet from a high of 40 to 25 degrees and a mix of rain, sleet and snow be predicted for game day. Seeing this, I really wanted to quit.

Thanks to VRBO, I had already paid for our weekend away. It was non-refundable at this time so we decided to head to Eagle River anyway. On Friday, I was still trying to decide if I should run a 10k or Half-marathon. My foot felt ok but by this time, I hadn’t put on any serious miles in two weeks. I went to packet pick-up Friday night still unsure what I was going to register for. As I filled out the registration slip, I wanted to circle 10k but chose half-marathon. Before I could change my mind I turned my slip in. In my hurry to not back pedal, I forgot I recently had a birthday and officially registered as a 37-year old instead of 38. I left the registration area and cried the entire way back to the cabin. I was frustrated, disappointed and seriously questioning if I could even cross the finish line.

I awoke Saturday morning to sunshine. From the comfort of the cabin, it didn’t seem too bad. Then I saw the snow on the ground and heard the howling of the wind through the cabin walls. It was a mere 20 degrees out. A series of mishaps, including trying to get anywhere on time with a toddler and my coffee shop moving, made me the last person to load the last bus heading to the start line. Slamming my McDonalds skim mocha on the drive up, I realized I really didn’t want to get off the bus. But, when the bus stopped on the start line and herded the stragglers (me) off, I realized there was no turning back. I had made it this far. And at this point, the only option was to try my best and get over that finish line, even if I was crawling.

In the 20-minutes leading up to the race I went to the bathroom twice, posted on Facebook, chatted with racers, and attempted to stay warm in the freezing temperatures, pelting sleet and wind. I admired the well-kept red pine forest and thanked the volunteers who weren’t even going to get a medal for being here. The announcer eventually lined us up where he shared words about life and used cliché phrases like it isn’t about the destination but the journey. The Star Spangled banner blared in the forest and then the gunshot. My feet started moving. They weren’t moving fast but they were moving. They did for the next 13.1 miles.

Over the course of the next 3+ hours, I was passed by power walkers and full-marathoners, serenaded with polka music, honked at and had strangers clap for me like I was some sort of rockstar. I nursed my foot for the first 4 miles, and then the next 5 miles. With 4 miles left, it was clear this would be one of my worse races ever. But, I was still moving. I texted my husband a revised estimate of when I’d cross the finish line. I eventually made it. And guess what? It was the same medal. I crossed the line knowing I wasn’t a quitter. My son later said, “Mommy ran super fast.”

By all accounts, this was not a good race. The weather was horrible. My training was horrible. My time was horrible. I didn’t hit any of my goals. Except for one. I didn’t quit. I’m not sure what comes next. But I do know that whatever is next, I’ll show up and try my best. And for now, that is enough.

The Probst Funny Farm has Expanded!

The newest ladies of Moon Lake!
The newest ladies of Moon Lake!

The Probst Family Farm got a little bigger this past week with the leasing of chickens. We borrowed four beautiful Columbian Hens from my friend Clare of Elsewhere Farm in Herbster. In theory, we dropped a small fortune on a coop for these lovely ladies for Jake so he could learn more about the responsibilities of caring for a pet. But let’s be real… these are really just a flashback to my youth and some of my fondest memories of growing up on the outskirts of town. Our seasonal neighbors haven’t returned, yet, so I’m just hopeful they are as excited about this new addition to our neighborhood as our family. I will say, the shrill of the loon and the tenor of our lady hens makes for an interesting lake orchestra.

This addition to our family combined with hitting up my favorite annual plant sale at Hauser’s in Bayfield made for an eventful weekend. I planned to just buy a bit more asparagus to fill out my bed that the polar vortex did a number on a few years back. But, walking in that barn and seeing those bins full of bare root perennials is like a close-out sale of Coach purses. This reminds me… a few weeks back one of my besties empowered me to buy my first coach purse. Her name is Lucy. I generally am not this superficial but I do love her. By the time I checked out at Hauser’s, my bill at Coach seemed quite small compared to my latest landscaping investment.

I digress. Anyways, the combined events made for an adventurous weekend. Our travels for both chickens and plants lead Jake to 5 playgrounds in the bi-county region. At the end of the day, he came home to find that our hens had already laid their first eggs. In a moment of sheer delight, he scooped them and promptly cracked them. Since then, we’ve been working on retrieving the eggs, gently. It is a work in progress.

I topped off my weekend with a run to one of my favorite pizza places in Brule. It is about a 9-mile run from my house via the Tri-County Corridor. It was going to be one of my last long races in anticipation of the race next weekend. But, the trail was packed with thick gravel and my ankles that have only been training on pavement this year were not able to acclimate to this. By mile 5, they were rejecting my body. I somehow managed to hobble my way to pizza but I’m a hurting girl.

Today, I headed out on my lunch hour to pack a few more miles in and it was rough. Rather than force the run, I did a combination of walking and running. I also turned off my headphones and enjoyed the sound of the raging river. It was a nice break from my training routine and to be honest, I don’t think it really matters at this point how many more runs I get in before showtime. I’m definitely not ready for next week’s race. Despite training for the past 17-weeks, my weight is the same. This combined with missing a few key long runs and I’m not sure what will happen next weekend. But, I’m going to show up and try. Afterwards, it’ll be time to regroup and figure out what’s next.

That’s the latest from Moon Lake. I’m sure I’ll be posting plenty post race. Plus, once this race is behind me, I hope to get out into the woods to take some photos and play with the GoPro. Not to mention, I do want to experiment with strapping one to one of the hens to look at life from their view. Stay tuned…

Winter Blahs

I’ve been in a writer and runner funk for the past month or so. On the surface, I’m not sure what’s up other than I’m not producing. I could blame a Vitamin D deficiency, straight up laziness, mama burn out, tired muscles, or just too much desire to watch the latest season of House of Cards. The reasons are endless.

Coupled with this, I’ve lost my mojo in training for my upcoming half-marathon. This is in fact a bigger problem because I can barely finish a half-marathon. I had set a lofty goal back in January (lofty for me that is). And, the energy and drive needed to do that just isn’t there. I’m now 6-weeks away from race day and the longest run I’ve done is 6-miles. I skipped this morning’s workout in lieu for a few more minutes in bed. And, I know, even if I make major changes now, I’m not going to be where I need to be in a few weeks. I refuse to quit but I do fear that this is going to result in another disappointing finish time.

This latest conundrum in my quest to improve my running reminded me of the time I was interviewed by Runner’s World. It was about overcoming obstacles. I don’t know if I ever shared the article on my blog. It was quite a big deal at the time because frankly, I didn’t consider myself a runner. I still struggle calling myself and it is 4-years later. Their advice is still relevant. Still working on it. Truth be told, you can in fact run 7 half-marathons and have none of the things mentioned in the article happen to you. I’m just that special.

Fueling the fire, my bag of tricks for motivation just doesn’t seem to be working. Two weeks ago I bought a new pair of running shoes in hopes to spark some pep in my step. I’ve purchased new running pants and socks. I’ve updated my playlist. I’ve even integrated Cize into my off-days for some extra, super fun cardio. I’m maintaining a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. But, even with those changes, I’m still stuck in a rut.

Last night on the drive home I was listening to my newest obsession – the Growth Show podcast by HubSpot. Love, love, love it. Anyways, they were interviewing Neil Pasricha about his new book The happiness equation: want nothing + do anything = have everything. I immediately added it to my must read list.

The podcast, along with some recent Brene Brown readings has had my mind spinning. I pride myself on being a highly productive person. I always have a plan in place. I do gut checks regularly. I like to be on a course. Even when Jake came along and threw my ability to plan out the window, I still found ways to plan. I set goals and achieve them. But, I think at times I miss the big picture. The piece where I step back and say what if my only goal was not to not have a goal for a while. What if I stepped back and said I don’t have a five year plan other than to live in the now. What if I allowed myself to just be? To give myself what Neil calls creative space. Would anyone even notice? Doubtful. Right now I’m guessing is the first person that’d notice is my husband when we were out of apple juice to give Jake at bedtime. While that’s scary, I think it is a risk I’m willing to take.

I’m not sure what all of this means. But, deep down, I do know that by setting so many arbitrary rules and expectations on myself, I’m providing myself the distraction needed to not work on the big things. Those existential things like what do I want to be when I grow-up? Running a half-marathon in under 3-hours, while seemingly impossible for this plus-size gal, seems much easier.

So for now, I’m going to make hay while the sun shines. I’m going to keep running and conditioning and pushing myself to show-up and have fun in Eagle River May 15. Worse case, I don’t have a PR. But, I still get a 4-day weekend with my family at a cabin on a lake. I still get to take Jake to an awesome zoo and eat deep fried bacon wrapped pickles. And right now, that’s sounding like a pretty darn good consolation prize.

Ignoring the Signs

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Michigan Ice Festival, 2016

Signs often give direction, suggestions, information needed to get from point a to point b. In my case, the signs I encountered on my way to the sheet of ice I was about to attempt to ascend at the Michigan Ice Festival in Munising said run the other way.

It started with my travel buddy being sick. She alerted me the day before and while it would have been easy enough to cancel the trip, we decided to go anyway. It was sunny skies and temperate weather in Iron River. A few hours later, as I drove over the Michigan border, visibility was deteriorating quickly. Within an hour, plows had abandoned all hope of keeping roads clear leaving us nothing but marginal trail tracks, rumble strips and snow covered signs guiding us through the UP. By the time we hit Marquette, even my well-trained winter driving skills were maxed out.

We fueled up at a UP favorite—Donckers. Walking down Main Street headed to get our fill of chocolate, I couldn’t help but question my sanity. The road was shutdown and packed with several feet of snow in anticipation of an evening sled dog race scheduled to take place in sub-zero temperatures. We didn’t hesitate to tromp over the barricades and snow piles for our caramels.

wroadclosedBut, perhaps the biggest sign was the one I almost hit (literally) on our final leg of the journey. MI-28, the main interstate between Marquette and Munising, was closed. Somehow, I missed the sign notifying me that this main artery was no longer passable. The barricades, while barely visible, were hard to miss. Did I mention they were placed nowhere near a detour as well?

Did we turn around? Absolutely. Did we head home? Absolutely not. Instead, we navigated our way through the back roads of the UP. At first, we thought the steady stream of hazard lights approaching us was a funeral procession. We later learned, this was common during white out conditions in Big Snow country.

The signs didn’t stop here. Once in Munising, temperatures plummeted. Even the hardcore climbers were talking about how unforgiving a cold, winter day in Munising can be for folks heading out. Rather than wimp out, I just put on another pair of pants. There was of course the embarrassing gear check-out moment where I had to point out that my supersized ass would not in fact fit in the harness designed for the normal climbers body type. After several attempts and a lot of wriggling around, I was told I was equipped with straps that’d withstand me falling from a cliff.

And then there was the trek -in. Did I mention there would be an uphill climb in a snowy, ice-covered trail full of steep ledges? Or, that I wasn’t aware of said trail and had an extremely top heavy backpack on me that was packed with shoes (yes plural), coffee, snacks, extra clothes, 3 cameras and other miscellaneous outdoor gear.

This is what was below us when we climbed. Lots and lots of hill.
This is what was below us when we climbed. Lots and lots of hill.

The first time I fell over on an uphill incline, I questioned whether I’d get up. Like a turtle straddled on its back, I somehow waddled my way up the hill. There was of-course the embarrassing and somewhat frustrating attempt to secure my crampons while sporting 4 layers of clothing. But somehow, despite all of these signs, I soon found myself at the base of a 40-foot cliff with only one way to go—up.

We were handed some pick axes and given some basic instruction on how to ice climb. It seemed as though the ice hated me. If I swung hard, the ice shattered. If I swung delicately like our instructor, the pick ax ricocheted back at me, threatening to take my eyes out. This didn’t seem promising. But again, I ignored the signs.

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One of our instructors giving us some tips on how to climb. That is what it looks like to get to the top. This was not me.

My girlfriend and I were in an intro teaser course. Our instructors were awesome. One was from Salt Lake and a rep for Black Diamond. The other, a world cup ranked speed climber. (Yes, that’s a real sport and she is an amazing athlete). They made climbing look so easy. They provided serious encouragement and didn’t scoff as I fumbled about like an idiot.

Given the time limitations of our course, we only got two chances to climb. And, despite the our class title has intro in it, most of the guys in our class had climbed before. The gals, while less experienced, were primarily rock climbers. I am neither. We lined up like little soldiers, each taking our turn at the base. When it was finally my turn, I clipped myself to the rope and climbed. And fell. And climbed. And fell. Even though I knew that each time I slipped off the icy rock or my pick ax gave way, I wouldn’t in-fact plummet to my death, my survival instinct screamed what the F**** do you think you are doing? I managed to ignore that voice and kept trying. Progress was slow but progress just the same.

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This is me early on. It did not get better as time progressed.

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Did I make it to the top? Absolutely not. Did others? Absolutely. But, I’d be willing to bet our experiences were equally as scary, exhilarating and frankly fun. There I said it. Despite all of these signs and obstacles, ice climbing is a pretty big high. If given the opportunity, I definitely would have kept trying to get to the top. And, knowing the stubborn Fin in me, I would have at some point made it. In hindsight, I wish I had taken two days of classes so that the second go around I’d maybe experience more success. Who knows, I might even go back next year. It is unlikely the weather or road conditions could be any worse.

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After my climb. Did I mention it was cold out there?

For everyone curious to know how high I went… I honestly don’t know. The Go Pro was stopped about 10 seconds into my first climb and I later realized I had nobody take shots on my second climb. I don’t want to pull a Paul Ryan on his half-marathon time or a angler’s tale of the big fish by exaggerating my climb, so suffice is to say, let’s just say I went high enough. The second time, I climbed even higher. But, by far the hardest part of the climb was getting to the base.

Crampon Casualty 2016.
Crampon Casualty 2016.

And, I’m just happy that in total, the only real casualty of the day was my snow pant leg that got shredded by my crampons when I tripped attempting to pose for a group photo.

That evening, I had the opportunity to listen to keynote speaker Tim Emmett. An athlete for Mountain Hardware, he redefines adventure. I loved his presentation and the photos and videos to accompany it were spectacular. In his presentation, he mentions that life is what we do before we die. It sounds stupid but it is so true. So much of life is about the unknown day-to-day stumbling we make trying to navigate this thing called life.

Afterwards, Aaron Peterson premiered The Michigan Ice Film. It was an enduring combination of extreme ice climbing and the people and culture known as the UP. Peterson did an awesome job intertwining the two to create a solid story line amongst a backdrop that only Michigan ice can provide. Two thumbs up for sure.

At the end of the day, I loved my experience at the Michigan Ice Fest not because I was good at ice climbing, discovered a hidden talent or because it changed my life. Instead, I love that this festival and instructors opened my eyes up to the fact that I can in fact climb, even though every sign along the way said I couldn’t.

Future ice climber in the making! Watch-out Michigan Ice Festival 2025...
Future ice climber in the making! Watch-out Michigan Ice Festival 2025…

Training Update: What am I thinking?

Confused? The idea for my first VLOG came about due to an upcoming assignment.

Next week I’m heading out to the Michigan Ice Fest in Munising. I’m going ice climbing. And no, that’s not a typo. This should be relatively amusing, in part because I’m not a huge fan of cold and I’m afraid of heights. That said, I love a solid adventure, the outdoors and the UP, so I figured when else would I try this if not now. In addition to my standard writing and photography, I’m also shooting video.

Today, I spent some time familiarizing myself with my new GoPro. And, because I’m a total dork, I thought I’d share some behind the scenes suffering of me training for my upcoming race in May. Don’t worry, I won’t inundate you with shots of my legs in spandex over this series of posts I plan to share. But, I do hope to share some of the beauty I see on the trails (once I’m outside) and a little bit about why I run and how tough it is for someone my size to build speed and endurance. Regardless of these challenges, I plan to keep slogging away.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a girl’s weekend in the UP. I’ve carefully plotted out coffee stops to fuel my way through something that’s totally outside of my element. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of shots and maybe even a few stories to share from my adventure.

Early Morning Resolution

Happy New Year! How are those resolutions treating you? I’d just like to go on record right now saying mine are slowly killing my will to live. Fourteen days ago, I started on a quest to factor me-time into everyday of my life to focus on wellness. My solution—wake up by 5:30 am everyday so that it wouldn’t cut into family, mommy, wife, friend or work time. On the flip side, the time once known as end of the day veg in front of Bravo time would go if needed due to being tired.

Let me backtrack one second and preface this resolution by telling you I am NOT a morning person. I cherish my sleep. I do best during regular business hours. The idea that I’d get up an hour early just to ensure I had enough time to hit the treadmill, lift weights, stretch or journal seemed a bit preposterous. But, last fall I started reading a lot by Brene Brown and this notion of creating habits to the point where the norm or your daily habit just is something you do versus something you think about. This theory resonated with me. After all, given how much I value sleep, I question whether I’d really get up early enough everyday to shower if it wasn’t something that had become part of my daily grooming routine.

In the past two weeks, I’ve hit the treadmill 8 times, completed yoga and cardio twice, completed a journal post and what I’m calling meditating once. To others, it may have appeared to seem like me staring at the wall in a zombie like stupor because I had stayed up too late the night before watching the Bachelorette but that’s neither here nor there. This mindful staring took place at 5:40 am. Today was the first time I missed my wellness time because I had an early morning work meeting. Surprisingly, I felt out of whack all day. And this excites me for a variety of reasons. If after a mere 12 days, not working on me in the morning seems unusual, imagine what will happen if I make it another week. Or, better yet, another month? I’m quite excited about the new found potential of this New Year’s Resolution.

Ultimately, I’d love for several things to happen with this experiment. First off, in 15 weeks from tomorrow, I’d love to finish the Journey’s Half-Marathon in Eagle River in under 3-hours. Second, in coming months I’d love to utilize some of this time to have a garden that doesn’t look like a Black Thumb Bomb was initiated within it. Finally, I’d love to write my way into closure on some lingering issues I need to just document on paper for my well-being and ability to live a more present and grateful life. Note, the goal here is to not lose weight. Obviously, this is another issue I come face-to-face with on a daily basis. But, I’m hoping that this experiment will help me understand how to form better habits when it comes to food. In other words, running my fastest half-marathon and creating a beautiful garden out of a pile of sand seemed easier in my mind than practicing portion control.

I share all of this with you just because I know by sharing this, I’ll likely continue on this journey. Or, at least that’s been the case with announcing blindly 5-years ago that I was going to run a half-marathon. If it hadn’t been for my very naïve public statement that I would do that, well I’m sure I wouldn’t have finished my first race and therefore never had the next five. So there you have it. A new year, a different me. We’ll see how that goes.

One last note…if you have 30-seconds, watch this ad. Then resume reading this post. (dramatic pause here).

In the grand scheme of things, this ad is a large online booking company trying to differentiate itself. I’m generally not a sucker for this type of marketing. But this ad, well it played on my first morning on my first day of getting up early. Before the tiger even came out, I was bawling on the treadmill. This might have been because of the early hour. But, I’d also like to believe that maybe, just maybe, this stupid commercial hit a heart string that many of my friends can relate too—the overwhelming love, sense of responsibility and desire to be an amazing mother. It sort of accompanies the bucket list of must do vacations with Jake before he’s too old and doesn’t think his mother is cool. This is a serious concern of mine. He already gives dad preferential treatment over me because I wipe his boogers and attempt to give him weekly baths. Anyways, at the end of the day, I think the underlining goal of this year’s resolution is that by finding me time and ways to improve the things that get me down, I can be a better mom. Now that’s something, I can get up at 5:30 am for daily.

 

2015: You Were Sort of an A$$hole

Happy-new-year-2015-quoteI must admit, when midnight strikes I’ll have no problem saying good-bye to 2015. Looking back, I watched it deal out a lot of heartache and pain. At times it was cruel, callous and calculated on harming those I care about. It served up individual setbacks that on the surface seemed minor, but when combined, packed a powerful punch. In short, it was sort of an asshole.

But, the great thing about time is it keeps moving. Tomorrow, a new year starts. While I’ll gladly flip the calendar, I won’t throw out what I learned this past year. Setbacks made me stronger and wiser. They reinforced what matters. They made me grateful for the amazing people I’m lucky enough to surround myself with in this roller coaster called life. And, they made me enjoy all that was wonderful in 2015, that much more.

Looking ahead, I have a laundry list of tasks I hope to accomplish. I want to clear a 3-hour Half-Marathon, build muscle and blast fat. I want to take more photos, kayak, cook, travel, garden and read more. I want to giggle and snuggle with my son while he still thinks I’m cool. I want to experience new adventures with my husband. But most importantly, I want to continue living life on my terms in a place I love. While I doubt I’ll achieve everything on this list, the one thing I know is I’ll make sure I’m having fun trying.

I hope everyone finds peace with the year that was 2015 and finds comfort in knowing there is always tomorrow. There is always a chance to right the wrong, love, learn and grow. There is time for new experiences, laughter and joy. When life doles out lemons, there is comfort in knowing this too shall pass.

To everyone in my life, thank you for sharing this ride with me. It isn’t always easy but you make it worth it!