Saturday, May 31, 2008

The 10 Minute Rested Ball

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Roll and Cut

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Roly Poly

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Roly Poly

Now This Is What I Was Imagining!

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Feeling The OCD Coming On

Last while weekend while at the cabin my Dad's bread maker broke. He is always baking bread in the bread maker. The boys love it and ask for it often. Dad decided to make homemade whole wheat. You know, kneading, resting, yeasting, all that jazz. It was very tasty and made me want to try creating a loaf at home.

On Thursday it rained all day. After work it stopped so Topaz and I hit the trail, of course as we were running a thunderstorm hit us. We ran as quickly as we could, through the lightning and thunder, and came out at the end of the trail-soaked.

Tyler's baseball game was cancelled due to the rain. I had already ran two workouts so I had a free evening. Ah, time to try a yeasty bread.

I chose Pecan Caramel Rolls. I told the girls at work that I was going to give them a try and that I would bring them in on Friday. I told Carol they may not turn out, she promised me that she would eat my flop. OK.

I created the rolls exactly per directions. The recipe stated 8 rolls in each 9x13 pan. I couldn't believe that they were going to triple in size and fill the pan. They didn't. I didn't think they were 'wet' enough. Wet with butter, cinnamon and sugar. I didn't dare change the recipe as I had never tried this before. The directions read 'use hot water'. Well, how hot? A temperature would be nice. It didn't say boiling, so..almost boiling? I didn't think I had my water hot enough.

The rolls didn't rise enough. I let them rise all night long, baking them before work. The boys each had one for breakfast and said they were wonderful..but they didn't look super wonderful, Julie wonderful, to me.

I brought them into work and everyone raved. I explained they were my first. Mark, my principal, stated 'these are just like my Mom used to make, and hers were the best'. That was a pretty nice compliment. But, could they be better than his mom's? I wanted to make THE BEST.

I read about rolls Thursday night and Friday. I read about temperature of the water - 130 F when using yeast in dry ingredients - now I knew. I also knew to use the three pan recipe for two pans. Two full pans.

Last night I remade the rolls. Oh yeah, now this is what I'm talking about! Full, gushy, oozy, wet, buttery, sweet pecan-ny goodness. You know that little piece in the middle that is always the best? I want the whole roll to taste that way. It does!

Next fall, I'm bringing them in on the first day. They will be the best ever. My coworkers will notice the difference.

Next up: Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Now, the recipe is for three loaves, I'm betting I'll use two!

So, yeah, the OCD is coming on with all this yeasty bread stuff. I'm looking at recipies, deciding which artisan bread I'll make after the whole wheat. I love learning something new.

On a running note, I ran 5 hours of ski hills today. I won't get in hills next weekend. It's flat as a pancake FANS day!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer Planning

Geeze, with the boys last day of school being tomorrow (!) and my last day 10 days later (!) I realized I need to firm up and schedule the summer away.

I sent off registration and entered all of my summer races. Including Leadville 100, The Race Across The Sky. Oh Lord. This one scares me. I hope my weekly hill repeats at the ski hill pay off. Now I need to book my flight out and back. I think I will go out on Friday, August 8, the race is on the 16, and fly home on the 18. Juli Aisters has invited me to share a hotel room with her, and I am thinking I will do so. Juli is running the Grand Slam. Woohoo!

I also registered for Afton 50K, Voyaguer 50 Mile, Twin Cities Marathon. Superior Sawtooth 100 and Javelina Jundred haven't reached the fee increase date so I haven't yet entered these, nor have I yet entered a fall race in WI, I believe it is a 50 miler that I haven't yet run.

I have scheduled plans for the Beta III. If you click on the sidebar on August 2007 and July 2006 you will see Beta I and II pics and reports. We have a wonderful time on the Superior Hiking Trail. This year I reserved the same home we had last year, in Tofte, on the Lake Superior Shoreline. It's incredible. I made reservations for July 11-13, there are 10 that are going to attend the weekend festivities. We'll run 38 miles of the trail during the wee morning hours, allowing us to enjoy an early evening dinner on the rocky shore. Fabulous!

I've scheduled the baseball tournaments, the weekends up to the cabin, the camping weekend, the boys training camps. The calendar is becoming full.

FANS is coming up quickly. I have printed out my goals and pacing sheets. I'm ready. I'm excited. I love FANS. It's a blast!

My coaching classes are filling nicely. I have an AM class for beginning woman runners and a PM class for the same. I also have a marathon class that is almost full. I am so excited! I can't wait to begin.

Summer Vacation. 10 Days And Counting....

Schedule Re-Do

While Topaz and I were running the trail last night I was planning out the weekend. I didn't have very much scheduled: legs and trail run Friday, bake bread and cinnomin rolls, Saturday morning hills at Buck and bring Troy to paintball, evening at the movies with the family (Indiana Jones), Sunday run with friends at Afton and lift back/shoulders; grocery shop, weed the perennial gardens. Not too much. Relax, enjoy, nice stuff.

After my run as I was driving Tyler to baseball, going home to get Troy to his game and off to my board meeting, Steve called me. He told me that we are scheduled to work Troy's concession stand for the tournament on Sunday afternoon. I was like 'what tournament'? It's next weekend, while I'm at FANS. It's always the weekend I'm at FANS. Ummm, not so. OH.......

Sheesh. I don't know how I made that mistake. I have had it on the calendar for weeks..incorrectly. I think it is because we get out of school May 30 instead of going into June. Usually FANS is the weekend we are out of school. Not so this year. I'm all mixed up.

So, this weekend is baseball baseball and more baseball. We still may get in the movies and I'll certainly get in my hills before Troy's game. He won't get paintball and I won't get to Afton.

It's really not a big deal..but still very surprising to me, that I incorrectly scheduled his tournament.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Topaz!

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Steve, Lukas, Troy, Dad, Me, Tyler and Mom..Laurie had to take the picture!

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Troy and Tyler

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Does your Grandma play Guitar Hero??

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Tyler, Lukas and Troy

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Another Fabulous Weekend Up North

It seemed as though I was just unpacking my bags from going up to Lutsen to run the 50K as I was packing my bags to go up to Lake Vermilion to spend the Holiday weekend at the cabin.

Last week flew by. Tyler had tennis sectionals and wrapped up the season by earning a distinguished academic achievement award, lettering in tennis and named to the all conference academic team. Go Tyler!

After the tennis season was finished on Tuesday, he began baseball on Wednesday. Troy is playing baseball too and getting them to practices and games is always a challenge. We always manage to get them where they need to be and on time one way or another.

We packed up and headed to Lake Vermilion for the long weekend. My Mom and Dad and my sister Laurie, her husband Tim and son Lukas were also at the cabin for the weekend.

We had a wonderful time, the weather was beautiful! Sunday Tim and Steve shuttled Laurie, Mom, Topaz and I over to the shoreline. There is not a road into our cabin so our transportation back and forth is via boat. Tim has a huge Lund, I was referring to it as Tim's Taxi. I'm sure with gas at 5.50 a gallon he wanted to charge fare too; but he didn't. Topaz and I walked with Mom and Laurie for 30 minutes until they turned back for their ride to the cabin. Topaz and I headed off for 20 miles of hilly gravel road running along Lake Vermilion. The ditches were all full of water, Topaz had plenty of water. The Vermilion River was full as well. I've never seen so many boaters getting onto the river as I ran past. There was one hill on Crane Lake Road that was over a mile long. Up up up we ran until it finally leveled out. I figured I might as well take advantage of it and get is some hill repeats. After running close to 2 hours I turned back toward the lodge to pick up Tim's Taxi. As I was running toward the lodge I saw Mom coming back to fetch us. Sure enough, our ride was waiting.

I asked if anyone would be interested in hiking the Vermilion Gorge, in Crane Lake. It's about a 40 minute drive from Cook where we park our cars. Everyone was up for it. We hadn't hiked the Gorge since Troy was 4, Tyler was 8. Laurie had never hiked it. We all piled into Dad's truck and headed out. The sky was becoming dark and looked like a storm, we hoped we wouldn't get caught in it.

As we piled out of the truck the heat blasted us. It was warm, sunny, calm. Amazing! We looked for the trail head and were on our way. Beautiful. This trail resembles the Superior Hiking Trail. Rocks, roots, waterfalls, climbing, climbing, climbing.

We began with sweatshirts, they were soon removed. Pretty soon Tyler was pulling off his shirt and Troy and Lukas were dipping their hats into the lake. It was hot! Crazy!

We hiked to the gorge and oohed and ahhed. Troy wanted to climb a bit more. He climbed a huge rock formation and I tried to follow. By carrying three sweatshirts, a water bottle and a camera I was slower than he. He was sure to let me know! To get down from the rock I had to just slide on my butt. I couldn't find any of the footholds I used to get up.

Dad let out his shrill whistle. We knew they were heading back toward the trail head. Troy and I hiked a bit more, then headed back in their direction. "Mom, let's run". Guess what? I smiled. The biggest smile was upon my face. "OK, Troy, let's go!" He ran along that trail like a pro. Pretty soon I couldn't see him. He was way ahead of me. I finally caught up to him as he was dipping his hat into the lake.

We climbed back into the truck, back into Cook and back to the cabin. What a great afternoon!

Today as we headed out it was raining, a good day for driving in the car.

This week I'll run the trail in the evening with Topaz, tread mill intervals in the AM, a stair steeper workout, lift legs, get in another hill session Saturday and run Sunday at Afton with the gang. I need to take it easy the following week as FANS is June 7. Amazing. Summer is just about here. 4 days left of school. Crazy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Slice of Heaven..on Earth

If there is such a thing as heaven, for me, it would resemble the Superior Hiking Trail. Tranquil, beautiful, majestic. I feel at home on the Superior Hiking Trial; I feel at peace. Even during the daunting mid morning hours on day two of the 100 mile race, the SHT is still a wonderful place to be.

This year Tyler and Troy decided to come along with me. I was thrilled! We always have a good time in Lutsen, the boys favorite thing is to climb around Temperance and hike the rocks of Grand Marais. We covered both of those activities after the Superior 50K, which I ran yesterday.

I had no goals for the 50K. I wanted to enjoy the run, build the 50K into my weekly training. No dietary changes, no taper (which I usually don't do anymore anyway). I decided to eat as I would during a training run: Hammer Heed and Hammergel, coffee and skim milk for breakfast.

After hiking Temperance River, we checked into our townhome early Friday afternoon. There was plenty of time to swim, hot tub and play ping pong. Time to fix a fabulous steak salad for me, ravioli for the boys. We were all in our bedrooms by 930, reading our books.

The sun rises early in Lutsen. I'm not kidding! Our townhome was all windows facing Moose Mountain. I didn't pull any shades before we went to bed. At 430 the sun was streaming in. I thought I overslept! Nope. Just bright.

I ground my Caribou Mocha Java, fixed my coffee in my french press, added a bit of splenda and skim and was ready for my race. I walked up to the race start, checked in and we were off!

I don't like getting stuck in the back of the group any longer. I begin to feel claustrophobic when I can't pass someone on the trail. We begin the race on a wide road, about a mile to the trail. I went out in the front of the pack, figuring I could slow whenever necessary.

I fell into a group of triathletes that were training for an Ironman in Canada. It was fun to listen to them talk of their different training regimens. There was much talk about bikes and how much they paid for them. Good grief.

The trail was beautiful, soft, covered with leaves. There wasn't a whole lot of mud, some wild flowers were just beginning to bud. I saw a snowman that someone had built! Yes, there was snow. The snowman even had little stick arms. I laughed.

I came into Oberg with a dry bottle. I was carrying a handheld of Heed and had a dozen Hammergel's in my Race Ready shorts. I was doing a gel every 30 minutes, drinking 24 oz of Heed roughly every hour.

There were a ton of downed trees. Some I climbed over, some I crawled under. One damn near killed me as I was straddled upon it and I FELL OFF. I was glad nobody was around to laugh at me. I had to laugh at myself.

By the time I reached the turn around I was sweating heavily. The guy at the turn around told me I looked like I was having the most fun and that I was smiling the biggest smile. Of course I am! It's a great day in the woods, I said. He said not all were feeling that way. Whatever. I enjoyed every mile. I took off my shirt and ran down as fast as I could. Then the cold breeze came along and back on went my shirt. It was like that all day. Hot and Cold. I was expecting 45F and rain, so 45-55 and sun was A OK with me.

By the time I made it back to Oberg I felt like I was flying. I hadn't looked at my watch yet, I was just running what felt good. I told myself I would look at my watch at the river crossing, right before I would get off of the trail.

I saw Tom and Nancy hiking, making their way off the trail. I looked at my watch. Holy shit! I'm going to PR this course. 5:49. I can break 6 hours. I saw Amy and Jason finishing up the 25K. I ran as fast as I could. A PR on a training run. Sweet stuff.

I saw Matt and yelled PR! Woohoo! Into the finish line I ran, 5:56. 4th Master. Amazing, and feeling so good. Tyler and Troy were at the finish waiting for me. It was great to see them there. Troy was freezing, so Tyler drove him back to the townhome and came back to pick me up.

After a shower I went back for the award ceremony and saw all of the gang. Everyone had a great time on the SHT. Gretchen and Mike gave the place winners heavy blaze orange microfiber hooded fleece sweatshirts! Troy wore mine last night on the shoreline. I also took home a medal, tshirt and a bandanna.

Back to pick up the boys and off to Grand Marais to rock climb. The shoreline of Lake Superior is incredible here. We climbed and ran and played in the rocks. We pointed out a tree that my Dad nearly punctured his eyeball with two years ago. The branch is broken off where it scratched him and broke off, the tree is still standing there.

We met Alicia, Larry, Kate, Tom, Nancy, Jo, Amy, Jason and Keith at Sven and Ollies for pizza; I had a double chicken ceaser salad. We arrived back to Caribou in time for one more swim and a game of ping pong. We were back in bed by 930 again last night.

This morning I was treated to the SHT solo. What a treat. I filled two bottles of HEED and a handful of gels and headed out the door at 5AM for Moose Mountain. It was cold and windy, but the sun was bright.

The trail was loud with birds waking and squirrels and chipmunks. They sounded like huge beasts in the woods! Nobody was out there. I had a great workout. My goal was 5 MM's. I did 10. I felt more tired after 10 Moose Mountains' than I did after the 50K yesterday!

I ran back to the townhome before the boys awoke. As I began to fry bacon and prepare pancakes they came alive.

What a great weekend :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

To Graduate as a Runner

The last session of my first stint as coaching for the Woman's Beginning Run Class was held on Wednesday. Six weeks ago most of these women had never run before, and quite frankly, were not sure that they could. Six weeks later they all emerged as runners.

It's been wonderful to watch the progress, to watch the fear rise and fall from their eyes, to watch them grow.

We had a beautiful evening to run. After I led the gals in the warm up and stretches many of them began to come up to me, one at a time, and voice the reasons why they didn't think they could run for 45 minutes. One gal had a sore knee, one was having trouble breathing, another had a side ache, another had a cold..they all had a reason .. a fear that was holding them back. I told each one to do whatever they could. That 6 weeks ago they didn't think they could run for 8 minutes..they now could..they could run for 10 minutes..they could run!

We began by walking for one minute, then ran for 15 x 3. They were awesome. They all ran the full session. When they began to have difficulty, I began to talk..talk about the night sections on the Superior 100, talk about the hunch I feel in my shoulders as I the whole race consists of the one square foot of flash light in front of the trail as I put one foot in front of the other..talk about the beavers in the dam and 2 in the morning, talk about the Superior 50K that I will be running tomorrow. My talking took their minds off of their fears.

After our run everyone was all smiles. I handed out a sheet showing continued running programs to get them to a 10K, a 1/2 marathon, etc. Some will stick with it, I know it! We finished with juice, grapes and pretzels and lots of thank yous and good lucks!

Today Topaz and I headed out for the trail for an 8 mile run. Topaz's last until Sunday. The boys and I are getting ready to head out to Lutsen. Tyler didn't want to miss his first hour math class, now they are packing. I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with them. Lots of driving/talking time.

Superior 50K is tomorrow. A super fun race! I'll leave my watch behind and just have a joyful run in the woods. No stress. Sunday will be hill repeats up Moose Mountain. Love it!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day :)

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A Happy Mother

When I woke up this morning I wasn't sure if it was still raining out. It had rained all day yesterday and all last night. I woke at 430 so Topaz and I could be on the trail by 515 for a 30 mile run.

I looked at the thermometer. 31F. Good grief. Out came the gloves and ear band. The jacket. The long sleeved shirt. I was sure that as the miles ticked off and the sun rose the day would become pleasant.

I was correct! The sunrise was stunning. Pinks, purples and blues as the big red sun rose from the ground. I stood on top of Blue Hill to watch the show. Beautiful. As soon as the sun rose the small birds began to sing, the frogs began to ribbit, the sand hill cranes made their crazy bad violin sound and the geese began to honk. A wilderness symphony. I love the outdoors. I love to run in the early morning sunrise.

Not one other person was out on the trail this morning, my footprints were the only ones visible, making craters in the damp sandy areas. I love the solitude. The peace and quiet, being alone. That is one of the reasons I love long distance running. Time to myself; to think, to meditate, to sooth my soul.

The ponds are all full, some overfull, spilling into the low lands. Topaz had plenty of areas to immerse himself, go for a swim and a drink.

I ran 30 miles..I believe Topaz probably ran 40, as he runs out from me, and back, making big circles around me. He didn't get a run yesterday as I was at the ski hill. His body was a quiver with unleashed, pent up energy. He let it loose.

By the time we were finished the gloves and ear band were removed, the long sleeved shirt was off and I was warm. 5 hours goes by very quickly when I spend it doing what I love.

Back home to a shower and then Happy Mothers Day! Steve and the boys presented me with a Honey Crisp Apple tree! My favorite apple. When they are in season I eat a few a day, and then complain that they are the most expensive apple in the store. Now I have my own tree!

Tyler and Troy then offered to help me weed out my perennial gardens and to get them ready for the season. I was stunned. Help me weed? I took full advantage and we weeded and planted for 3 hours, without one complaint! We had 3 hours to talk without being interupped by telephone or television or friends. 3 hours that I will always treasure; talking about school, friends, sports and anything else that came up. 3 hours of garden work was never more enjoyable.

A hard leg day at the gym..some grocery shopping and taking it easy tonight, watching the Twins. A very good day.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mom's out there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Hills Are Alive..With The Sound of ...

MEGADEATH. Yup, at the Myth last night. Awesome show.

My ears were still ringing when I headed for the ski hills today. My first session of running ski hills since last fall. I had some errands to run in St. Cloud so I decided to try Powder Ridge, where the boys and I snowboard.

My legs didn't lose anything over the winter. In fact, they are stronger. I guess the one hour, twice weekly, iron sessions have increased their strength as well as the one hour, twice weekly, stair stepping sessions from hell, where my heart rate screams at the 180-195 mark. Gotta love it.

I ran a mile warm up and then up the hill I ran, walked, hiked my way up. What a view from the top! Thundering down the hill; a bit wet, mushy and muddy in spots. Slippery! I fell down a few times over the length of the session. What a muddy mess. But fun, oh yeah, I loved it.

It was cool; low 50's and lots of rain. I was soaked. At the end of the session I had completed 10 hills, then a two mile cool down. I quickly changed into dry clothes and headed for home.

Next week I'll get hills on the Superior Hiking Trail. Saturday I'll run the 50K and Sunday I'll do repeats on Moose Mountain. That'll be a treat :) Hill repeats are back as a weekly workout.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Scent of Deer

While Troy and I were watching Tyler's tennis match this afternoon after school I commented to Troy how nice it was that we weren't having gale force winds. It has been windy every day for weeks. Windy and cold. Today it was 56F but it didn't feel so bad as there was no wind.

After I brought the boys home from the match Topaz and I hit the trail. We came upon a mom and dad pushing a baby in a stroller. Now that is a sight I have never seen while running upon 'my' trail. The stroller had huge fat tires on it, it was able to go over the ruts, up and down the hills, etc. Their little baby was bundled inside of warm blankets and sound asleep.

As we ran out of the woods into a clearing I could smell a heady, musky scent. I looked around but didn't see any animals around. I looked at the bottom of my shoes, thinking I stepped in animal poo. Not so. As we rounded a corner we came upon 24, yes 24 (!) deer. A few ran off, but most of them just stood and looked at us. I whispered "HEEL" to Topaz. I wanted to see how close we could get, they were only 20-30 feet away from us. We continued to trot toward the group of deer. Their scent was so strong, I have never smelled this scent before. It must have been because there was no wind and we were so close. We were able to get within 10 feet when Topaz began to tremble. He couldn't heel next to me anymore. The deer began to lope away from us and he began to run wide circles around them, herding them up, bringing them back to me. Their smell was so strong. I couldn't get over it. What a cool feeling, to be so close to their presence.

Today I received my certification for USATF Coach Level 1. I attended a two day training seminar, then today took the test on line. Just in time, as I have advertised an AM and PM Woman's Beginning Running Class in Big Lake, beginning in June. Both classes are filling quickly. I have received calls from those interested in a marathon training program as well. I'm looking forward to this so very much. This is something I always wanted to do, but didn't know where to begin.

The Woman's Beginning Running Class last night was a blast. The women ran 9/1 x 3. We had a speaker from Mary Anderson's Race Management go through the process of attending their first race, what to expect, etc. Next week we will have the girls run 14/1 x 3 and they will then be ready for their first 5K. How wonderful! I remember how excited I was to run my first race. I love reliving the excitement of being a new runner through these woman. It is truly a treat.

This weekend brings hill training back into my schedule. The ice and snow is off of the ski hills; it's time to run them. I don't know if Buck is open for running or if I'll have to go to Hyland.

Next weekend is the Superior 50K. I haven't been on the SHT since the 100 in September. I'm sure looking forward to it.

Last year I ran the Ice Age 50 mile instead of the Superior 50K, as I wanted to try breaking 10 hours for a fifty miler and wouldn't be able to run Voyageur at I was running Vermont 100. I was able to break 10 too, with the help of Tom's great pacing ability! I followed him for as long as I could and came into the shoot just in the nick of time. I usually alternate between Ice Age and Superior each year. This year I may try to get 10 at Voyageur. I think my best there was the last time I ran it, in 1026.

To all of you running Ice Age this weekend, have a blast! It's a great course and a fun race.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Topaz: The Great Beaver Hunter

Thoughts of today passed through my brain all week long. I knew that I had to work at the annual City/Township Clean Up Day, which is always held the first Saturday of May. It is always cold; sometimes rainy, sometimes snowy. Rain is the worse of the evils.

I stand on the muddy dirt road, walk up to a zillion trucks in a long line, take the driver's license, check address, check what type of junk they are disposing of: TV, appliance, motors, electronics, household junk, etc. Collect the fee and direct them onto the next stop.

All week long it rained or snowed. The forecast for today was more rain and snow this morning and later clearing. Clean up day is bad enough when it is dry. I stand there for 5 hours as I freeze and my back becomes sore from standing in one place and shivering.

Well, today wasn't as bad as I anticipated. It wasn't raining! It was just very very windy and cold. I wore a winter parka, wool hat and gloves and yes, my sorel boots. I had my snowboard pants in the car just in case my jeans weren't warm enough. Thankfully, the snowboard pants stayed in the car.

After my 5 hours were up I headed home. Steve and the boys were at the indoor archery center so Topaz and I headed for an afternoon run.

As I pulled into the lot I couldn't believe my eyes. 15 or so cars were parked in the lot. Ish. I almost drove to the gravel road as I figured I'd rather run gravel road solo than trail with 15 cars full of people. Then I thought maybe they were using the lot as a park n ride or something, how could their be 15 cars? I ventured into the lot, barely found a spot and hit the trail.

We ran along, surprising deer and the sand hill cranes. I though it interesting that the deer were so near to the trail when there must have been people around somewhere. The ponds are absolutely full with water; the canadian geese and swans love it. Topaz loves it. He dive bombs into the ponds, disturbing the birds, trying to get to them before they fly off. It's hilarious. He comes out all drippy, can't stand that I'm in front of him so he shakes as he is running, passing me by.

We almost finished one loop before we finally saw the reason for all of the vehicles. A boy scout troop was touring the trail. They were identifying the turtles and frogs down by the river banks. I was glad that I didn't pass up the trail for the gravel road!

While running toward a pond I saw something dark move slowly across the trail. Topaz spied it too. I couldn't figure out what it was. As we approached the animal it began to move more quickly, it was lumbering, kind of wobbling back and forth as it moved forward. I saw his tail. It was a beaver! Topaz took after it and the beaver began to move more quickly, waddling as fast as he could. As he reached the pond Topaz began to gain on him, the beaver slid into the pond with Topaz right after him. Topaz couldn't find him once he hit the water. He dug around the shoreline, blew bubbles underwater but could not find the beaver.

We ended up running 20 miles, never to find the beaver again. Each time we passed that pond, Topaz stopped to look for the beaver. I bet he stops by the pond again tomorrow, looking for that beaver.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Budget. A New Topic

Budget. Just the word alone gives me the shivers. It gives me a feeling of dread and fear and unknown territory.

It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my Mom would say in a doomsday kind of voice 'I guess I better pay the bills'. She'd take out an adding machine, her checkbook and a tin box that she kept the bills in. The house would become quiet. My Dad would go outside. There was this tension in the air. I learned to become very uncomfortable when it was 'time to pay the bills'. She would sigh and become very unhappy.

We were always on a budget. My Mom stayed at home and my Dad was an English College Professor. Mom cut coupons and drove to three different grocery stores to get the good deals. I think she still does! She always said we didn't have enough money.

I must have resisted the idea of a budget all of these years, because of what I remembered about being on a budget.

I have never planned a budget. I have never listed out our bills, our income, how much we want to save for trips, college, etc. This is foreign to me. I haven't written down a check amount in..10 years, 15 years..I'm not sure. I have never balanced a check book so why bother to write down the checks I right out?

When I want something..I think about it a bit..then usually purchase it. If my checking account becomes thin, I make it fat again with a few keystrokes at the computer..transfer from savings. There, all better. If I continue this process for another 20 years there will be no savings to transfer!

Steve and I have been putting 15% of our income, or the maximum $7000 allowed per year, dependant on our employer, in our 401K plans each year for 23 years . Our retirement is set. Sometimes I think I should have the money NOW, who cares about when I'm sixty fricking two years old? Give me the penalty. Shit I could be dead by then. But I know better, I will be there before I know it. I was just 23, you know?

Deductions are automatically taken for the boys 529B College Plan each year, I have an automatic savings plan. Automatic is good for me, I don't have to look at numbers, I don't have to think budget.

I've been thinking budget the past 6 months. Each time gas increases, each trip to the grocery store where I'm spending $800 a month or more on groceries, I'm thinking I need to start a budget. Thinking about it was a good place to start.

For two weeks I've grocery shopped at Walmart. I had only been in a Walmart 3 times before. I didn't like Walmart. It was icky. I kept reading articles in the Mpls Trib that Walmart groceries are 30% cheaper than Cub, 15% cheaper than Target. I figured it was worth a try.

Was it! The past two weeks instead of spending the usual $200 on groceries I have spend $138 and $112. Yeah. Big savings. The food is fine. I am buying the same things. Lots of produce, chicken, ham, beef, fruit..I have noticed no difference in quality. The service isn't horrible either. They bag my groceries, too. I figure what I'm saving at Walmart is going into my gas tank. A savings is a savings.

So now I've decided to take a look at my budget and spending habits. I've created a spreadsheet, listing all my monthly bills, credit card totals and minimum dues, groceries, gas, etc. I've even read online about "snowball method" of paying off debt, which was foreign to me. Snowflakes and snowballs and terms that I had never head off. Kind of like how fartlek and Yasso 800's sounded to me 10 years ago!

I'm no longer afraid of the word budget. It reminds me of how I was afraid of the words sober, healthy, running. Baby steps, it'll come!

On the running front, I decided to offer a Beginning Woman's Run Class in Big Lake during the summer. I already have some clients! I'm so excited.

Last nights class was fantastic. We ran 8 minutes, walked 2 minutes x 3. One gal has been struggling with her breathing while running. She runs a bit, begins to gasp, then panics. She was embarrassed and putting herself down. I told her that we do too much of that! We talk so negatively to ourselves that pretty soon we believe it and live it. I told her to be PROUD that she was at the class and not in the Dairy Queen drive thru instead. She laughed. We ran together and when she began to become panicked and gasping for breath, we just jogged slowly, having her take deep breaths. She worked through it and was just fine. She felt so good about herself, I was so proud of her!

After the run and a stretching session we had Janelle, our assistant coach, who is a nutritionist speak on nutrition for runners. We had many people with many questions. It was a great session.