Weekend Adventures!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I had a crazy fun weekend and a great week of training. I’ll update you on how the training went in my recap, but for now, I am going to tell you all about my weekend adventures. I figured that since Frank and I spend every weekend on some sort of adventure, I should start a blog series on what we do and where we go. This series will be very photo heavy interspersed with what we were up to!

Most weekends are spent backpacking, hiking, climbing, trail running, or some sort of outdoor activity. This weekend, we did a little bit of everything! Frank, our friend, Ben, and I took Friday off from work and drove out to Arkansas Thursday night for some sweet sport climbing and hiking in the Ozark Mountains.

We made it to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in the AM and went straight out to some of the more popular climbing spots in the canyon. Now, before I was a distance runner, I was a climber. In fact, distance running was a way to get me in better shape for mountaineering. Soon, running became my main passion, but being able to climb all day is still pretty awesome.

Ben made it up his first climb EVER!! I was super happy to see him enjoy the climbs the way I do!

img_2615

After a full day of climbing, we went for a short hike through the Buffalo River Gorge. If you are ever in the southern Midwest, this is a place you HAVE to go!

img_2634
It doesn’t get much better than this!

We got back to the ranch just before dark, hung out with some goats (they had like 100 baby goats), and went to bed.

img_2636
The hills were covered in tents and dirtbag climbers.

Saturday morning and afternoon was filled with some of the tallest climbs I’ve ever done. These walls were about 85 feet tall and had some of the most fantastic views from the top. We climbed until our arms tired out and went back to the Buffalo River Gorge for the National Park Service Centennial Concert.

img_2642
This route went WAY higher than I am right there!

The concert was packed, and in such a beautiful place.

img_2646
Frank and I were making some faces at each other during the concert… also that guy behind us…
img_2647
Tons of people made it out for the concert!

Post concert, we packed up our backpacks and hiked into the woods a few miles to find a campsite. The Buffalo River Gorge is right up against a National Forest, where there is free camping all along the trail. All National Forests have free camping in the wilderness, so if you are ever in a pinch, it’s a good place to make an overnight stop.

We woke up Sunday morning with the sunlight coming in. I tried to stay asleep in my bivy, but Frank was not having it.

img_2653
To cut on weight and mass, I use a bivy instead of a tent. They are waterproof and super easy to set up and take down.

Before heading back to Manhattan, we went for a hike to a cave at the Lost Valley Trail. The Ozark Mountains are filled with great little spots, but this one was just fantastic. There were natural bridges, three caves (one had a waterfall inside), and a ton of scenic overlooks to view the valley.

img_2668
Crawling out of a cave.
img_2661
Frank and Ben beneath the Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we ate some lunch and made the 6 hour trip back to Manhattan, KS. Although we expected this to be a rather uneventful ride, as we got close to town, we heard on the radio that a tornado had touched down just west of town. The roads were quiet except for the occasional storm chaser vehicle driving by (good sign, right?). We stopped to overlook some of the crazy weather, but were advised that if we wanted to get back to Manhattan, that we should do so immediately. We made it back and into the basement, but the warning was lifted about 15 minutes later. Aside from some flooding, Manhattan made it through the storm untouched.

img_2678
Rather ominous looking clouds over Manhattan, KS.

So, we did a little bit of everything this weekend! I even managed to squeeze in some miles between our adventures. How was your weekend? Did you go on any adventures?

Life Update!

Hey everyone!! I have been pretty bad at blogging this week… it’s just cause I’ve been crazy busy. Training is going great though, and I am still marching my way towards the starting line at Denver. The end of this week marks the half way point of this cycle, and although I am feeling like I am getting more fit and ready, anything more than 16 miles still feels daunting and scary.

Last weekend I went backpacking with Frank and our friend, Ben in the Ozarks. It did get in the way of my running a little, but it was amazing to see some of the beautiful sights that the southern Midwest has to offer.

img_2355
I did manage to fit in a short run during our trip, but I was just exhausted from the hilliness of the terrain.

We spent two nights in the wilderness in the White Mountain Recreational Area. Since it is winter, I was stuck with a rather huge and heavy backpack to accommodate my 0 degree sleeping bag. Frank and I have been talking about trying fastpacking, where you pack ultralight gear and run/hike to cover higher mileage. Although we’ve had some pretty big mileage days by just hiking, fast packing allows you to get a little deeper into the wilderness and see places that normally take a few days to get to. I think we need to do a few more backpacking trips to train, but we are hoping to try it this summer.

Elly was pretty glad to see me when we got back from the Ozarks. As per usual, she passed out next to me on the couch. I just love this cat so much.

img_2361
This is the most perfect animal in the world. 🙂

I am officially signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October. If you remember, I deferred last year after an ankle injury that left me unable to walk. I feel more determined than ever to get to that starting line. Although it isn’t the race that I wanted it to be last year, I am excited to have Chicago be my 2nd marathon and be the first time that I am chasing a marathon PR!!

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 8.20.49 AM
This time I am determined to make it!

I was a little worried about burning out after Colfax and not being able to train for Chicago, but I am going to be taking 2 weeks completely off of running and heading to Europe with my mom. I imagine that will help me clear my mind and reset before marathon training begins again.

 Well, that’s basically it for my week. I’ll post next week to let you know how my training has been. I have a 16-miler on Saturday to tackle, so hopefully that goes well.

How was your week? Any fun or exciting plans this weekend?

Friday Five: My Favorite National Parks

This week’s Friday Five is Five Favorites. Since I love being outdoors so much, I decided to list out my five favorite National Parks. So far, I have been to 19 of them and I’m gonna go ahead and list the 5 best! Thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed up for What?! for hosting the linkup.

DC-Trifecta-Friday-Five-linkup

  1. Glacier National Park

This one obviously had to make first on the list. Frank and I got married at Glacier a little over 3 years ago, where we had our closest friends and family with us to celebrate the wonderful day. The park is more than magical. It teems with wildlife and beautiful flowers. Every direction you look is a more fantastic view than the last. There are tons of day and overnight hikes around the park, and there are even trails that are accessible to people with injuries or are handicapped.

1962157_10202303850815197_8247013576604915386_o
Our wedding was pretty small, but it really was such an amazing experience.
  1. Canyonlands National Park

Recently Frank and I took a trip out to Moab, Utah and we spent a good amount of time in Canyonlands. Although Arches National Park is more popular for that region, Canyonlands offers trails that are longer and with way less people. We hiked probably about 50 miles around the park, and even did an overnight trip. If you are ever in Utah… this place is pretty amazing!

img_2083
Frank and I went mountain biking at Canyonlands. It was pretty awesome!
  1. Gates of the Arctic National Park

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, I did some fieldwork at Toolik Field Station in the north slope of Alaska. The field station was right up against Gates of the Arctic, which is incredibly inaccessible to most people. The park is pristine and there are no trails. Basically, you just wander around through the tundra in a particular direction to head up mountain peaks. There are bears, porcupines, elk, moose… basically there’s almost any mega-fauna you could think of out there. This park made the list because you really get to feel like an explorer when you are out there. You get to see things that hardly anyone sees, and it really feels like you’re the first person to ever step foot there.

1003040_10103911818047091_1692802574_n
Nearly to the summit of the highest peak in the Brooks Range. We didn’t quite make it because visibility near the summit was non-existent. 
  1. Everglades National Park

I grew up in South Florida, pretty close to the Everglades. I remember large afternoon storms brewing over the everglades and dumping steamy rain on to Coral Springs. I’ve been to the Everglades many times, but the craziest was when Frank and I paddled 100 miles through the park along the Wilderness Waterway. It took us 7 days. The Everglades is a fantastic place to see a really unique ecosystem. If you live close, you should check it out!

305556_10102086921908581_215044027_n
There are some beautiful beaches in the Everglades.
  1. Smokey Mountains National Park

While in college, I was part of an outdoor club that frequented the Appalachians. Trips with the outdoor club were where Frank and I realized how we felt about each other and some of my favorite trips were at and around Smokey Mountains. There’s climbing, hiking, and some of the best backpacking in the country. The Appalachian Trail runs straight through the park and includes some of the most scenic areas.

391658_10102775723185301_615953934_n
Right outside of the national park is a large waterfall where a bunch of us repelled down (a few of my friends repelled naked… not advised). 

I could include so many more parks, but these are probably the most sentimental to me. If you are ever around any of these (especially Glacier), you should really check them out! I really think the National Park System was America’s best idea!

 

What is your favorite National Park? Are there any that you’ve always wanted to go to? I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I’ve always wanted to.

Chicago Training: Week 4

Last week was a great week of training, but I did have a bit of a hiccup. Frank and I met up with some friends out in Colorado. We did a 28-mile hike with close to 10,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of two days. However, about halfway through, I took a bad step and turned my ankle. Since I was carrying about 30 pounds of weight on my back… it didn’t exactly feel good. I have been chilling out a bit and will be back to my usual intensity next week. Despite the injury, I still managed to get 27 miles in. I was supposed to do 33, but that’s ok.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 6 miles hill repeats in AM & 3.1 miles easy in PM

This was my first ever double! It was great, too. This is something that I want to do going into the future. Splitting a long-ish day allows me to run a little further and still have time to get work done. It also allowed me to feel a little fresher going into the next day of training.

Wednesday: 6 miles easy at 9:14 pace

I ran a rather hilly route around town, but felt great. On the top of the hill, I saw fireworks off in the distance. It was nice and relaxing.

Thursday: 12 miles at 9:46 pace

This was an awesome long run! I felt wonderful the whole time, but I finished the run at marathon pace for the last two miles (9:00 min/mi). I’m actually looking forward to my longer runs.

Friday: 14 miles hiking at Maroon-Bells

We had a rather long and grueling day fighting the weather and crazy high altitude. I got hailed on like 5 times and spent a lot of time shivering, but it was amazing. I turned my ankle towards the end of the day and basically had to walk it off. I gave some of my pack weight to Frank, popped 4 ibuprofen and sucked it up. 😦

Us taking a break on one of the mountain passes.
Us taking a break on one of the mountain passes.

Saturday: 14 miles hiking at Maroon-Bells

We woke up at 5:30 am to get out on the trail by 6 am. My ankle felt a little better, but not great. We made it back to the parking lot around 3 pm, and I finally got to get off my foot for a while.

That little pink dot is me!
That little pink dot is me!

Sunday: Rested foot

I’ve been icing the ankle and trying to stay off of it. I did go for a run on Tuesday, and it went really well. I only went 3 miles, but I felt really good. Tomorrow I’m going to go for a longer run, but still at an easy pace. Hopefully I continue on the mend.

Have you ever gone on a backpacking trip? Do you ever run twice in a day?