Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

This past week I made the decision to make an effort to run all of the Minnesota State Parks. There are 67 in my beautiful state and I can't wait to set foot into every one of them!

I ventured over to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park last week and began my quest. Kathio is an hour away from my home so I made the decision that it was OK for me to travel that far during the Minnesota Stay Safe Plan. As I pulled into the lot I noticed there was only one other car parked, that surprised and delighted me!

I had a very stressful week and realized I hadn't looked up any Kathio information before I left for the park. I once visited years before, before I had children!  It had been a while.

Checking out some of the trail map signs I saw that there were 35 miles of hiking trails so that looked like a good place to start! The trails were in great condition. The leaves were starting to open, there were signs that summer was eventually going to be arriving. Green grasses were budding, leaves and ferns were beginning to unfurl.

Running from the trail center toward Ogechie Lake I came upon two campgrounds,  the Touch The Earth Trail and then Ogechie Lake. It was beautiful, lots of rolling hills, well marked paths. I enjoyed the trails very much.  I was seeking solitude, peace and prayer and that was what I received. What a gift. Before I knew it 20 miles had passed. I was going to run the remaining 15 miles the next day.

On day 2 I knew where I was going to go. I wanted to check out the observation tower, and Black Bass Lake. Again as I pulled into the lot, nobody was there!  I was so happy!  I filled up my pack and changed into my trail shoes. Running along the trails toward Black Bass Lake it became very low and very wet. The ferns were amazing in this area and it smelled so rich - so fertile.

After draining the last of my bladder I looked down at my watch and realized three hours had passed. I was so deep in thought, I hadn't noticed time pass. I began to watch the trail signs and made my way back to toward the visitor center and the observation tower.  The tower was so cool. It is 100 feet tall and use to be a fire tower.

On the way home I stopped at Lake Mille Lacs to eat a packed breakfast of chickpeas and romaine. Yum.  I soaked my legs into the big round lake, walked around the shoreline trail and then was ready  to head on home.

I feel so blessed to be able to run for hours, in beautiful places. I do not take it for granted. I've been on the other side and know too well what that feels like. For now, I'm enjoying fully the feeling of traipsing down the trail, enjoying God's gifts.

Let's hope  that I can carry a bit of the serenity I was able to cultivate at Kathio into this next week!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Covid Continues

Well let us see, we are now 9 or so weeks into Covid territory.  My daily existence revolves around my home. I go into the office two days a week; a mere 7 mile drive. I work from home the remainder days of the week. I run out at Lake Maria State Park, 15 minutes away or run in the Wildlife Refuge, even closer to my home. I grocery shop in town, haven't ventured anywhere else. In normal times, I'd drive to Maple Grove / Minneapolis each week to run, to hit up Whole Foods and Costco. It's been 9 weeks since I've been to any of those places. I practice yoga at home, I knit at home, I bake and prepare meals at home, I garden at home.

Some restrictions have been lifted this past week.  Groups of 10 are able to gather while practicing social distancing. I won't be gathering. Clinics are taking appointments with precautions. I have an appointment June 1. I will wait at the car, check in on my phone, have my temperature taken, be escorted to the office while wearing PPE. Gyms are still not open so I'm using my home equipment which is fine. I don't see myself returning to the gym...at all. Home workouts are fine. Manufacturing plants have reopened, curbside restaurant pickup and delivery. No churches, schools, bars, concerts, etc.

We've become so divided. This has all become so political. It seems the Republicans want everything open and the Democrats want to keep it shut down. I just follow the rules. I am not taking chances. I will be as safe as I can be.

My races continue to cancel. So far the races on my schedule that I entered and were cancelled are Chippewa 50K, Grandmas Marathon, Superior 50K and Black Hills 50K. Chester Woods 50K  has been postponed to November. I'm waiting to hear on Voyager 50 Mile, Superior 50 Mile. Honestly, I prefer to have the Race Directors make the decision rather than me. If any of these races were open I probably wouldn't have attended anyway and since they are cancelled I don't have to ponder my decision making processes.  It's a good time to stay healthy, run all the miles and take advantage of all of my free time. 

I've set a goal to run all the trails of all the Minnesota State Parks, of which there are 67.  I love our state parks and there are some I have never set foot into. There are miles of trail for me to explore. What a lovely way to spend my time. I'll begin this weekend.

Covid 19 has thrown me for a loop but I am making the most of my downtime and enjoying that as much as I can.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bread Bakers Apprentice: Bagels!

I first purchased Bread Bakers Apprentice in 2006. I was just getting into baking my own bread and it offered a wealth of knowledge. Sourdoughs, poolish, three day breads, I was intrigued and baked so much great bread! Each week the boys would pick out a recipe and we'd bake together. So many great memories. Well, fast forward 14 years and here I am..still baking from this book. I pulled it out last week and baked up the bagels this past weekend. I always wanted to try the bagels but they seemed too fussy. Boiling and baking ? I didn't want to try that. But I changed my mind and am so glad that I did!  They weren't fussy at all and they taste amazing!  OK, I didn't try the sugar and cinnamon as I just don't want to go back to sugar but I did try a plain and a seed one and both were amazing. Just flour, salt, yeast and seeds!

First I mixed the ingredients together and let them sit for a few hours until double in size. It took my kitchen about 4 hours.

I rolled into balls and made into bagel shape.

They had to refrigerate over night.

The next day I practiced the 'float test'. They floated in the water just fine..ready to boil!  I boiled each bagel 30 seconds on each side, then baked for 7 minutes on each side.

I dusted a few with seeds and a few with sugar and cinnamon. Wow. Taste and not too time consuming!  A keeper.

I'm going to bake through the book. Covid 19 has given me plenty of extra time and I always enjoy a new science experiment!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Rye Sourdough

Yeah, it feels like I've gone back 12 years. I baked my last sourdough round about 12 years ago. While I was waiting for yeast to arrive from Amazon I decided to create a starter so that I could bake bread without yeast.

50 grams rye flour
50 grams warm water

Stir, let set for 24  hours, remove half and add back 50 grams of each. Stir, repeat for at least 7 days, perhaps longer.

This boule took a 12 day starter:

I placed the hair tie on the top of the starter before feeding it. Once it doubles then it is probably ready to use. I placed .50 grams of this starter along with 300 grams of water, mixed loosely and added in 500 grams of strong bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt. Mixed lightly and placed onto the counter, covered loosely in a plastic bag.  After 24 hours I had this:

It was alive and bubbly, having tripled in size. I was so excited!  I gently folded the sides of the dough into the middle of the dough and placed into the refrigerator for 24 hours. I formed a ball, placed onto a bake pan scored the top of the boule. Baked at 500 degrees for 50 minutes and this beautiful boule appeared!

I think it is beautiful and the flavor was amazing. A hint of sourness, the heady rye but a nice light crumb. I have my second one proving in the refrigerator now.

My yeast arrived from Amazon,  one of my best friends owns a mill so flour isn't an issue, I am baking baking baking !

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

This past week I'm wavering between a state of anxiety and denial. It feels like I am in the middle of a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel, but, make no mistake, COVID-19 is very real. 

Our state, our nation, our world is reeling. Too many have died and too many are sick. COVID-19 has branched out to every state and almost every country. 

I feel as though living in Minnesota is a pretty good place to be during this time. I am not getting into politics but do have to say that our  Governor seems to have our best interests in mind and tells us the hard truth, that things are difficult and doesn't white wash anything. He closed down schools and businesses pretty early into this pandemic.  He doesn't want to reopen until we can test and test thoroughly. We have some of the best  medical, manufactures and food companies world with Mayo, University of Minnesota, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills, Land O Lakes, Hormel. We are getting along.  I feel like we as a population follow our Governors' direction. We hunker down, we take social distancing seriously. I feel like we can do this. It won't be done without out grave loss.

Grocery stores near me are still being fully stocked each night. I haven't seen bare shelving. I think that because I live in small rural community our grocers haven't had the mad rush on products that the stores only 30 miles away have had. The only thing I have not been able to find is yeast, so I ordered a two pound brick from Amazon. Yes, I have plenty of toilet paper. My local mill is still grinding whole grain organic flour. 

I am not a social butterfly. I stay at home, I run alone, I enjoy time by myself. This shelter in place has taken away my weekly run with Amy, my yoga teacher training class and numerous races. I know that Amy and I will resume our weekly run, I know that yoga teacher training class will resume and races will come back next year.  I haven't had to change my schedule too much. I've realized again that I don't run to race. I race to force myself out of myself. I dislike packet pick up, the large crowed and chit chat. I dislike the crowds at the start and the finish. People feed my anxiety.  I enjoy the time from crossing the start line to crossing the finish line.  I enjoy the hours in-between. I don't mind the cancellations. I feel for the race directors, for their livelihoods. 

I feel like I have practiced social distancing my whole life. 

My down time is spent running, practicing yoga, baking  breads, reading, watching too much CNN and knitting. Instead of going from one of my hobbies at a time to another I am practicing them all, all of the time. I've been able to keep busy, to run long miles. I'm training as if I were still running a 50M in a few weeks, alas, it is cancelled. That's OK. I enjoy the time running alone. It brings me peace during this not peaceful time.

Hang in there. We can do this. 

I'm going to bake my way through Bread Baking Apprentice. I haven't picked it up in a few years and probably only baked a quarter of the breads. It brings back such good memories. The boys would pick out a bread a week for me to bake. I recall Tyler's favorite was the salami and cheese boule, Troy's favorite-caramel rolls. I looked at my notes throughout the book and the last one I wrote was from 2008.  Gosh, 12 years. Crazy. 

Stay healthy. Stay strong. Stay patient. We will get on the other side of this.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Northwoods Winter Trail Marathon

Back at it!

I was hoping I'd be back in running shape before January hit so that I could again run the Northwoods Winter Trail Marathon. Last year it was warm and soggy, post-holing through deep snow.  This year it was beautifully firm snow, perfect conditions, 25F and no wind. What a treat!

I made my way to the trail at a leisurely 800 AM Saturday morning. It was fun to help Andy out with setting up the race start, filling aid station jugs of water, assembling age group win awards and doing whatever I could to assist. There was plenty of time.

The course was absolutely beautiful. Stunning views of the river, running along it for miles, the views of the city from Hawk Ridge, frozen waterfalls, it is really spectacular. 

My ankle felt solid, my body strong and my heart filled with joy. I had an amazing day. I never felt tired or bored or like I wanted to quit. A  marathon is a joyous distance to feel nothing but happiness, to be out in the woods long enough but not too long. I wasn't wet, I wasn't cold, I was comfortable. I wasn't pushing my limits, I was strolling along, taking in all of the beauty that the Duluth trails offer. 

I finished the race 45 minutes faster than last year at 5:45. Like last year I won the 50-59 age group. No pain, all gain. It was a good test to my current level of fitness after breaking my ankle and I'm so happy that I am in a good place. I have a good base of fitness and don't seem to have lost anything after spending 12 weeks without very much movement.

Today I find myself wondering why I even want to run longer than 50K distance? Do I even want to push myself? Why would I want to be in pain and have to recover the next few days?  Perhaps I just stick to 50K again. I don't know. I still find myself thinking I'll put in for Superior 50 Miler. There were be pain and suckage but at least it is not the 100. Did I say that? Hmmm..interesting how my perspective may be changing, at least at this moment.

Yeah, I'll put in for the 50 Miler at Superior. I feel great. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

On the Come Back Trail!

I ran my  longest run since breaking my ankle last July: 10 miles. WOOHOO!  Sure feels good. Man, how I have missed you, running.

Looking forward to the Northwoods Winter Snowshoe Marathon in January.