I represent all the mothers out there who, like me, have discovered a precious gift in running. I have also discovered that coming in last in a race is not the absolute worst thing in the world! I run for the sheer love of it, for the health benefits of it, and for the positive impact it has on my girls. Welcome to my blog!
January 17, 2010: Sunshine on my shoulders...
I love the sun. I love the heat. I have been thrilled with the warm temps and sunshine we have been blessed with the past several days. We had 39 yesterday. Woo hoo! I have been able to get out for a few shorter runs the past three days in a row, and have been soaking up the rays with a smile on my face. Winter running is a nice change of pace, but I prefer running in the warm temps (I owe my love of the heat to my Finnish farm-girl heritage, and growing up going sauna. Taking steam on the top bench at 190 degrees after a day of haying? No problem). I am cherishing these warm temps, and am really starting to get spring fever.
My normal running routes are on the Munger in and around Moose Lake and Barnum. I enjoy the familiarity of those trails--after running them countless times, I know them like the back of my hand. However, after enjoying a great intro to trail running this fall, I have been looking for some new (to me) trail runs to carry me through the winter months. I have found a few good ones that I'm excited about.
On Friday and Saturday I ran in Jay Cooke. I have hiked around the park before, but I have never run there, especially not in the winter. I got a map and asked about running/hiking trails. They didn't seem to think many people ran on the park trails (?), but as far as hiking and showshoeing, they gave me some trail options. I found the Carlton Trail, and really liked it. If you cross the swinging bridge and head up the hill a short ways, you come to Carlton Trail on your right. Apparently you can take this trail, which follows the St. Louis River, to where it intersects the Munger up by Carlton (which the map says is 2.6 miles one way). Then you can go right, and take the Munger back over the bridge, across Hwy 210 in Thompson, to the Forbay Trail (approximately another 1+ miles). You then take the Forbay Trail back down to the Jay Cooke Park office (another 1+ miles). They told me the whole loop is about 5 miles. Has anyone done this loop before? I have taken the Munger down on Forbay to the Park office, but I have not gone the whole way on the Carlton Trail from the swinging bridge to the Munger. I only went about 2 miles on the Carlton Trail, then turned around back to the bridge, as it was getting later in the afternoon. I will have to time my next attempt better, so I can make it the whole way. I really liked that trail. It was about 2-3 feet wide and seemed to be packed fairly well for the most part. I didn't have much of a problem with footing, although after a few more days of warmer temps, I'm sure the snow will be tough to run on. The Carlton Trail is labeled as a "moderate to difficult" trail. I would love to bring my girls on parts of it, and my mom would love some of the easier parts too.
They also recommended a few "easy" 1 mile loops, on what is called the Forest Trail. I found these trails to be more for snowshoeing, as they were not packed well at all for running. I did love the scenery though (can you believe how great it smells out there in the woods!?) Another trail they pointed out is the Organtz Trail, which they describe as "hard packed, groomed", and "moderate," with a distance of 1.8 miles. Also there is the Grand Portage Trail, which is "moderate to difficult" and a distance of 3 miles. Has anyone run/hiked on either of these trails? Are there any other run routes anyone can recommend in Jay Cooke? How is the Gill Creek Trail for running in the winter? I do not XC ski, although I know that would be good to do too. I have not gone snowshoeing in the parks, just in my fields. To be honest, I just want to run. :o)
November 15, 2009: An Ode to Trail Running
I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved in creating and organizing the fall series trail runs. Your hard work is very much appreciated. Thank you for sharing your passion for running with those around you.
I am very new to trail running. Actually, my first trail run was the Rock Hill Run in September. I only made it to 4 of the fall series runs this year (also Hartley, Lester Park and Pine Valley), and really enjoyed them all. My friends that know me well were right, I did love the change from road running to trails, and I don't think I will be the same kind of runner ever again...what I mean is this. When all you know is running on flat, predictable, paved trails, those kind of runs are just fine. Your body, stamina and spirit are used to them, they are all you've known. But when you get a taste of trail running, your standards are suddenly raised as a runner, and your senses need more. I will no longer be as satisfied running on a not-so-scenic paved trail or road with predictable footing...I will long for the challenging uphills (did I say that??) and fast downhills of the trails. I will long for the sight of fall leaves glowing all around me in the evening sun...I will long for the smells and sounds of the woods. These are things you cannot fully explain to someone who has not experienced them firsthand during a trail run. There is no doubt about it, my finishing times on trail runs will be far slower than most. This is not only because I am lousy at hills (very true). It is becuase there is so much beauty to experience out on the trails..the mushrooms, the variety of trees, flowers, rocks...sunlight streaming through a canopy of leaves far above...I just can't run past these things. I have to stop and enjoy them, I have to stop and close my eyes and take a deep breath of the fresh, clean air into my lungs...then I can continue on my run. Slower times? No problem. I love to run for so many reasons, and being out in nature, experiencing this beautiful world, are on the top of my list.
Being introduced to trail running this fall is one of the greatest gifts anyone has given me. So, I want to say a sincere thank you to those who encouraged me, drove me, and cheered me on. Thank you again to all involved in organizing the fall series. We are all so fortunate to have these great running trails and such a wonderful community of runners to share them with!
I also want to thank Eve for all of her hard work in organizing the Nancy English run on Saturday. She did a great job, for a great cause. Thank you Eve!
April 5, 2008: Race draw prizes
March 30, 2008: Honduras
Hola~ Here are some pics from a few short runs and walks I went on while in Honduras. What a beautiful country it was! The temp was usually between 80-96 degrees, which I loved. We came home to a 110 degree temp change!
March 16, 2008: I'm back, baby!
Yes, Jen is back! For those of you who realized I had not written a blog in recent months (all 3 of you :o) ), I recently returned from a bit of a hiatus, in Central America. I spent much of January and February preparing for a medical mission trip to Honduras. Our group of 25 was in Honduras for 10 days, holding medical clinics for some very, very poor people there. I have one thing to say, we really have it good here in the US, and should be thankful for each and every blessing in our lives. It was a life-changing experience for me. I will eventually be putting some pictures on my blog of some runs I was able to do while there (thanks Kris for the help!). It is a beautiful country--very mountainous, and the people there are so grateful and sincere. They are very hard working, and friendships and family mean the world to them. I look forward to sharing my pictures and stories with whoever is interested!
First of all, I want to add a bit of info to my reply to Kris's glucosamine chondroitin entry. I took it for 11 days before I had the reaction to it. Then, boom, I end up with a very quick, and quite scary, total body reaction to it. My whole body swelled, and I had hives all over. Even with a combo of Benadryl and Claritin around the clock, it took exactly 11 days to reverse and for me to feel normal again (however, I likely slept through 5 or 6 of those days with all that Benadryl). I have no food allergies whatsoever, and love to eat seafood. However, my MD thought the high dose of shellfish crumbly stuff over the course of that many days just was more than I could take. Now I really am careful with eating seafood, because allergies can develop out of nowhere sometimes. Anyone else hear of issues like this? Quite possibly could be one of my hidden talents, developing strange allergies???
I thought the blog about the smells we encounter on our runs was so funny. I have run past many a carcass in my 2 1/2 yrs of running. Skunks, deer, unidentifiable furry somethings...Ironically, just tonight I was reading the, er, um, pause--pause...OK, I WAS READING THE MN CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER MAGAZINE, OK???!!! There is an article in there on just that, the smells we encounter while outside. I thought it was very interesting, so here is what it said, word for word, so as not to be sued. Hey, if I do get sued, Kris--you'd help me out with your 8 mill, right?
Question: Why does the air smell so refreshing on my early morning walks around the pond by my home?
Answer: University of MN climatologist Mark Seeley says if the air is quiet overnight, cooler air can become trapped beneath a layer of warmer air. Trapped along with it are the fragrances coming from the soil and vegetation. Your brain interprets the fragrance as freshness. As the sun heats the earth's surface and breezes pick up during daytime, the layers begin to mix and the concentrated scent dissipates. Seely notes that this also explains why hunting dogs often are able to track better early in the day.
(March--April 2008 issue)
I guess, according to this, it would make sense to think that certain smells, good or bad, may be stronger in the early morning? So, we should all run the routes that are more carcass-prone later on in the day, I guess. What a subject.
My cousin Mae and I did the Steve Chadwick Walk/Run From the Cold 5k on the Lakewalk Saturday. It was the second year I have done it. Again, it was a beautiful, sunny morning, and the lake was gorgeous. I live about 45 min from Duluth, so I jump at any chance I get to run/walk along the Lakewalk. It was a nice small race, and is done for a very good cause. I love the coffee mugs they give out. I drink a lot of Starbucks, so I enjoy using the mugs and remembering the races they go with. I am thinking of getting some coffee mugs printed up like that for the Ma & Pa Kettle Run/Walk in August. I want to do some different, fun giveaways like that. One funny thing about the race was during the walk, I ran into a friend I made while on the Honduras trip! She lives in Duluth, and I met her for the first time on the trip. So there I see her days later in Duluth. Funny how small this world is! I think I saw you too, wildknits (don't know your real name, sorry!!!). If it was you running past me, good job! Did you enjoy the run?
I will write more and put up some pics when I finally win the battle of "Jen vs. technology." Adios!