Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekly Review January 24-31 ~ Discovering Trail Running

Another week, another Weekly Review post! 
Photo from Saturday's trail run.
The theme for this past week is definitely trail running and discovery. You can read last week's review HERE.

No skiing this week, sadly. All our snow has melted away. It's unlikely that we'll get enough snow again this year to ski at home on the farm, but you never know. Maybe a spring snowstorm with heavy snow??? I suppose it's possible. Earlier in the week it was really icy in the yard and on the roads, so Jeff and I tried out our new YakTrax. They slip on over our shoes and provide really excellent traction on ice.
YakTrax on the ice = awesome!
We went for a light run together on Sunday evening, then I wore mine again on Monday afternoon on my first ever trail run at the new place. You can read about that in this previous post. I also had great road run on Wednesday, than another awesome trail run with Jeff on Friday morning through the pastures for five miles. Trail running out there is a great way to get to know the land in a very intimate way. Again, just super, super thankful for all this great access we have.
Looking back toward the Sweetgrass Hills.
The #RunLoveChallenge continues this week. Wendie and I pushed our distance up to 5 miles. The weekly challenge with that was to "discover" a new run, which I did out on the trails on Monday and again on Friday. So, that Friday run was a double-whammy of increased distance plus discovering a new route. Let me tell you, five miles on trails is MUCH different from five miles on the road. What I really discovered from getting into this trail running stuff is my own strength. Sure, my times are slower, but man is it a workout. One of those hurts-so-good challenges, you know? I know in the long run the trail running will make me a stronger, faster runner, and that's what I'm really going for. I want to know what I'm capable of.

Here's the weekly breakdown:
Sunday- Running 3.2 miles with Jeff
Monday- 3 mile trail run "Discovery" run
Tuesday- 1.6 mile walk, 30 min. core exercises
Wednesday- 3.4 mile HILLY road run at sunset...
The sky can be so beautiful around here! We have had a lot of good sunsets lately.
Thursday- 30 minutes of yoga after school
Friday- 5.2 mile trail run with Jeff
Jeff took this photo of me on our run. That's Sage Creek down below.
Hard to believe not that long ago we were skiing on the creek.
Saturday- 30 minutes elliptical

I guess you'd say the yoga day was my rest day, and I guess you'd call the hill workout and some of the trail running my "speedwork..."  Big week for me overall in terms of mileage and activity.
Filling in my #RunLoveChallenge calendar!
And here's YTD:
2016 Year to Date, through 1/31/16
Running: 45.35
Walking: 8.3
Yoga: 165 min 
CC-Ski: 380 min / 10.8 miles (since I started tracking mileage on 1/17)
Alpine Ski: 2 days

This week we completed and submitted our Organic Producer application. If you remember a few posts ago, we decided to farm some land organically this year. Well, you have to apply in order to be certified organic. The application is thick and tedious. I think the powers that be will review it and then someone will come out and inspect our farm and our set-up, probably this spring or summer. Sort of exciting. It's an interesting process, for sure.
This is a photo of a poster in the FSA office. 
We also continue to feed cows daily. They typically two hay bales rolled out for them in this feeding pasture each day, plus some more hay and straw in feeders in the corrals. They can wander back and forth between the pasture and the corral as they see fit. They also have an excellent view as they munch. I wonder if they appreciate it?
Our cows graze as the Sweetgrass Hills loom in the distance
We continue to work on small things around the house to make it our own and finish the moving process. We decided to forego our kitchen face lift project for now and put our money toward some much-needed furniture instead. Turns out that I find shopping for furniture online or in store to be overwhelming and stressful. You ever go to a really big lunch buffet and become so overwhelmed with all the choices that you either pile your plate with way too much, or, walk out with absolutely nothing? That's what furniture shopping is like for me. Too many choices make me frustrated and confused, so then we get nothing. But we need things... so it starts again. On and on. We'll get there.

Also, you may have noticed that I changed the name of the blog.... (it's OK, I'll take a moment while you scroll back up and look...) I've been wanting to change it for some time and finally decided on something I like, and Jeff likes, too. A friend of mine is helping with a visual overhaul of the blog, so once that's ready to be unveiled, the URL will probably change too. Don't worry, though, I'll let you all know and give you plenty of lead time before that change so that I don't lose any of you as readers!

Well, that's all for this week! Hope you're all doing well! Catch you on the flip side. :)
Harvey says see you next week!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thankful Thursday~ Exploring the Pastures

Nothing like a change of scenery, right? Land is permanent even though people may wander. 
All photos in this post were taken a few nights ago on a run through the pasture.
One thing I had been looking forward to about moving onto the family farm was exploring the pastures. Yes, we had pastures at our previous residence and I did spend some time hiking out there, but now, I have the chance to hike, run, ski, and play on our own Bangs land whenever the urge strikes.

It's not like I'd never been out there before. I'd done a few hikes with Jeff and other family members, and Jeff and I also began exploring by mountain bike last summer on some pretty fun trail rides. We've also done a bit of Nordic skiing out in the pasture this winter. It's just so great to have basically open prairie wilderness right outside your back door. People who live in towns and cities aren't so lucky as we!
Can you spot the "wildlife" in this photo?
This week for our weekly #RunLoveChallenge activity, we were to discover a new place to run. Even with some of the other exploring of the pasture I had done, I'd never actually ran out there. When I saw the challenge, I knew I had my mission! I couldn't wait to get out there and run the land. Even with patches of snow and ice, I used my YakTrax and was able to keep great traction on what ended up being a brisk hike/jog at sunset. It was right around freezing, sunny, and NO WIND-- I had to seize the opportunity to get out there!
Abby is a grinner!
All in all, it was a great run. Cow trails make excellent paths for hiking, running, and biking. Certainly not a fast-paced effort, but I relished in frequent stops to admire the scenery and interact with the dogs. One thing is for sure- I finished the run feeling inspired and excited to run the trails more and continue exploring the land. With a lifetime on the farm ahead of me, I'm sure I'll get to the point of knowing the cow trail system just as well as I know the local roads, if not better. And, thanks to Strava, I'll be able to figure out exact distances of different trails and sections.
Dogs love to explore, too!
But when I really stop and think about this land, these views, this access that I have, I feel pretty lucky. And thankful. I'm thankful that I am here and that I'm able to get out there and enjoy it. I'm thankful for the topography that creates a fun playground in the middle of an otherwise table-flat prairie landscape. I'm thankful that all of Jeff's family who've come before us have taken care of the land as well as they have, have kept it within the family, even added to it over the years, and now allowed me and Jeff to be here. It's pretty humbling when I really think about it like that.
Looking west.
I'm thankful even for the people who were on this land before it was "settled," as they've left their mark on this place as well. There are what appears to be an entire village of tepee rings on one bluff overlooking Sage Creek. What must it have been like to live here in those days? How different life is now, even though the views are the same. The creek is still here. The grasses still offer food and cover for an abundance of wildlife. And the topography has and hopefully always will support play and exploration of all kinds. It's easy to look out over the pastures and see what life could have been like in an earlier time, and to feel a responsibility for maintaining it into the future. With responsibility comes thankfulness.

As I stand on a bluff and gaze into the distance, pausing on a run or mid-afternoon ski, I'll look over the land and say a silent thankful intention to the greater power, or to sun and stars, and feel peacefulness.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekly Review January 17-23

Taking a look at the week that was, in fitness, farm, and life. If you missed last week's review, you can check it out HERE.
Sunset over the Sweetgrass Hills Friday evening while skiing.
Jeff and I started the week on skis as we trekked over the mountains for double duty skiing on Sunday and Monday. Sunday was Nordic at the Izaak Walton in Essex, MT, where we also stayed the night in their historic hotel.
Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, MT
Sunday we hit up Whitefish for downhill skiing in thick fog. It wasn't the most fun day of skiing ever because it was a bit difficult to see, but we made it our mission to get better at moguls and I think we both definitely saw some improvement. Plus, my legs felt super strong the rest of the week after that day of skiing!

Progress continued on the #RunLoveChallenge I'm participating in through Oiselle with my teammate, Wendie. I nailed my long run on Thursday after school running "the loop" in town twice for a total of 4.7 miles. It felt pretty good to run outside and even though the roads were snow-covered, they weren't bad to run on.
Run-selfie while running "the loop" in Rudyard on Thursday.
The biggest challenge of the week was actually the "Speed Date" workout we were supposed to do. I spent most of the week stressing about the workout because, let's be honest, speedwork is pretty much neglected in the scheme of my workouts. I wrote out the times and speeds I wanted to try and planned to do it Saturday morning. By the time Saturday rolled around, Wendie had already completed the workout and I was actually sort of looking forward to the challenge and seeing what I could do. And you know what? It was hard, for sure, but it felt great! Huge confidence boost to reach speeds I've never touched before, and it ended up being my longest run of 2016 so far at 5.6 miles! It was so motivating to know that Wendie had done it and that she was cheering me on in spirit, too. Thanks Wendie!
Yes, I wrote myself a pep talk alongside the workout. I'm cool like that.
Here's how the week looked:
Sunday- 8.6 miles/120 minutes of Nordic skiing at Essex.
Monday- Downhill skiing at Whitefish.
Tuesday- 3 easy (slow) miles on the treadmill, 20 min stretching. My legs were beat after the skiing.
Wednesday- 30 min. hip strengthening exercises
Thursday- 4.7 mile run after school.
Snowy roads, but traction was good.
Friday- 2.2 miles (40 min) Nordic ski through Harry's field on our farm. **snow melting fast. May have been my last day on skis at home this year.
This is what Harvey does after going for a ski- nap time. 
Saturday- Speed Date challenge/5.6 miles running, 30 min (1.6 miles) walk with the dogs, 20 min stretching.

My #RunLoveChallenge calendar is really filling up! Half-way there!

And the YTD Stats:
2016 Year to Date, through 1/23/16
Walking: 140 min/6.7 miles
Yoga: 135 min *no yoga this week. sad face.
CC-Ski: 380 min / 10.8 miles (since I started tracking mileage on 1/17)
Alpine Ski: 2 days
Running: 30.55 miles

If you remember, my knee and hip had been a little sore last week. I rededicated myself to stretching in the evenings and it really seemed to help. No issues with it whatsoever this week, even after Jeff and I skied pretty hard at Whitefish on Monday. Stretch, stretch, stretch, people!

This week on the farm the biggest new piece of action was that Jeff sold some winter wheat to one of the local elevators and then began taking semi loads to town. It can be quite a bit of work at times to haul grain, especially when cleaning out the bottom of a grain bin. Messy, dusty, labor and time intensive. The weather was warmer this week, so Harvey spent quite a bit of time outside "helping" Jeff with this task, although he didn't appreciate being left behind when Jeff would leave in the semi headed for the elevator. Harvey is a smart dog and knows that if he sits down in the road right ahead of the vehicle in which he would like to ride, at the very least, the driver will stop and pet him...
"Guys, I'll ride now, thankyouverymuch." - Harvey
Photo by Jeff.
Harvey also likes to "help" feed the cows...
Harvey likes to lick their noses, and they let him.
And this bull was taking a peek on the action, too:

This week I attended the Rudyard Commercial Club meeting (sort of like the local chamber of commerce) because they were planning to talk about a grant the community is likely to receive to either renovate our current Senior Center or build a completely new building. It was a really interesting meeting, which you can read more about in my previous blog post. I'm going to be on the committee working on the grant project and I'm really excited about it.

Also, in my sports world, my Iowa State Cyclones defeated #1 ranked Oklahoma on Monday night in Ames (college basketball). It was glorious. Here's a great game re-cap from The DesMoines Register: Iowa State Takes Down #1 Oklahoma. Tomorrow night, they'll take on the Kansas Jayhawks. I may hate the Jayhawks more than I love the Cyclones, so you can be sure I will be watching the game. Don't bother me between 7 and 9 tomorrow night because I won't answer. ;)

That's the week that was, everyone! What were the highlights of your week? 
After completing my Speed Date workout. Feeling good!