Maah Daah Hey trail half marathon, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017 was the Maah Daah Hey trail races. I did the half marathon. Other distance options are 5k, 10k, marathon, 50 mile, 75 mile and 100 mile! All the races end in Medora, ND.

I did this run last year and it was very challenging for me. I still consider myself a “new” runner and quite honestly, I feel a bit like a fraud or faker when I show up to these events. I don’t have the typical gear – the hydration vests, neat/new gear, trail shoes, etc. It’s just me and my favorite shoes and I’m ready to run and be my usual, awkward self. I get a bit nervous before a “race” since you never know how it will go or how you might feel. BUT, the great thing, is all the trail runners are so nice. I have never had a negative encounter from the few trails I have run.

Running can be pretty lonely but trail running really takes that up a notch. You can easily go several miles in a half marathon without seeing another soul. I cannot wrap my brain around a marathon, 50, 75 or 100 miles! Crazy and awesome.

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We went to Medora on Friday to take in some dinner and then the musical. If you are familiar with Medora, you know the musical is similar every year. I thought this year it was really nicely done and I liked the jokes and costumes. It is truly a MUST if you are a North Dakotan. We went to the hotel right after and were in bed shortly after the show ended. We had the most beautiful night of weather – just a breeze and quite warm with no need for sleeves.

The race started at Buffalo Gap Ranch a few miles from Medora at 8 am Mountain Time. My Mom was kind enough to drive me so I didn’t have to take the shuttle and wait around for 45 minutes. The #1 thing I would change about this event would be for it to start earlier at 7 or even 6 am. July is usually hot and the sunrises early. The forecast was calling for mid-90’s and it was nearly 70 degrees when we started.

The Badlands are hilly and the trail is primarily gravel, soil, crushed rock and is pretty compact. The Badlands themselves are beautiful but this year we are in a severe drought so everything was extremely dry. In fact, a fire happened a few weeks earlier closing part of the trail until up to the race event. There is hardly a tree to be found on the trail and no shade. At all. The sun beats on the canyons and reflects heat back up. You won’t find anyplace to cool off unless you count a creek. Sadly, most of those are also dried up this year.

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I have ran a LOT (for me) this summer and have really found a passion for getting outside and getting in longer miles on a trail or gravel road. I don’t always have the time or a chance to do this, but it has become my favorite. I started running in 2015 and it was mostly on a treadmill, inside, a few times a week. I never ran if it was windy and never in the rain. In 2016, I got a little bolder and ran outside more and in the rain often, but still only a few times a week. This summer, I committed to running more outside and in any weather condition. So for 2017 that has meant mostly in the wind and no rain. Definitely have had some humidity though! I can’t say I have ran much in the direct sun. Mostly of my runs take place at 4:15-6:30 a.m. hours. On the weekend I can sleep in and usually go at daybreak. I have been putting in 50ish miles a week since April except for the week of July 4th when I was sick – much more important to rest and get healthy. I have honestly surprised myself with how much I enjoy getting up and running before going to work. It’s been a pleasant surprise though!

My goal for this event was to improve on my time ran last year. I was very nervous for the sunny, hot forecast. I had a talk with my running buddy, Robin, about paces and letting go of that. I know runners sometimes say that the numbers don’t matter, but we always track them and note them, right? What I have found liberating is just trying to stay within myself. I want to improve my times but I can’t focus or care what others do. I can only try to improve myself. I try not to be too hard on myself and realize that crappy runs happens. I’m not here to win, place or qualify for anything. I run because I love how it makes me feel and to enjoy the camaraderie of other runners. I am still learning and still new to the sport. With that, I knew I wanted to beat 2 hours and 30 minutes (my time last year) and was hoping for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

We start from Buffalo Gap Ranch up a gravel road where we then get right onto the Maah Daah Hey trail. The first few miles were good, I was trying to find my pace, my place in the pack and find a comfort level. The first and only checkpoint for the half is at about 5.5 miles. I stopped here as I wasn’t carrying any hydration. They handed me one Dixie cup of warm water. I was not thrilled but I kept a smile on my face as I appreciate the volunteers so much. They asked if I wanted any fruit but I asked for another cup of water. I really wanted about two more cups but didn’t want to be a hog especially in case the supply was limited.

Shortly after continuing we came to the only creek (this year anyway) and I ended up totally stepping in it and soaking my feet. Ugh, crap. I was worried about blisters but also hopeful the dry heat and hot sun would dry them out quickly. After the creek we get to the 10k start area and into more serious (for me) hills. There is a lot more walking at this section and I also got the opportunity to talk with a few people starting here. The downside, it was only getting warmer and brighter by the minute. As mentioned, there is no break from the sun, no plants large enough to make substantial shade. I did come across a bush that cast a shadow and in my mind if I squatted there a bit it would be quite lovely but I continued on.

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(I forgot my hat! But Dad let me use one of his thank goodness!)

Eventually, the trail starts going downhill as we make our way into Medora. The last mile is paved and into town. It is blacktop so again, quite warm. I was hoping to run this last mile as it is all flat but the heat was a bit much for more. I instead did a walk/run and chatted with a kid from Fargo and another man who was just walking after he thought there was a second aid station but there wasn’t. The kid from Fargo said his feet were pretty painful as he also got wet and was certain he had blisters. Luckily, my feet held up just fine (thank you, calluses) and were basically dry by this point.

As I got closer, I could see and hear my mom cheering for me. She is such a supporter for me and I appreciate it more than words. I was sure to run at the end and finish strong. My shirt felt like it weight 10 lbs. from sweat and once I stopped running, the sweat poured out of me. I crushed a cold bottle of water and had mom snap some pics. She remarked how crazy it was that some people crossing the line looked like they were out on an afternoon stroll. I was dirty, feet caked and so sweaty! I had a few more waters and we had to hightail it out of there before too long as we were not granted a late check-out and I needed a shower in the worst way so we could explore and eat in Medora before going home.

My finish time was 2:18:41 – not quite to my goal but I finished healthy and happy!

Afterwards, I met up with Robin (she did the 10k) for an iced coffee and also ran into a few friends that did the 10k. I love that I have been able to make friends by seeing familiar faces at events. I also love catching up with Robin. We were really good buddies back in high school and we’ve reconnected over fitness.

A few things I *think* have helped me with running this year and falling for it would be:

  • Letting go of some of the pressure and expectations
  • More (just slightly though) confidence in my abilities
  • Get off the treadmill (running in other weather conditions and road surfaces, relying on finding my pace naturally)
  • Doing hills on the treadmill (I definitely could have done more though and they are pretty non-existent since the Black Hills 30k – whoops)
  • Run in places you aren’t familiar with (new areas, run on a gravel road, different town, whatever)
  • Cycling / strength (cross train)
  • Stretching (keeping my calves and feet loose in particular)

A few things I *think* could help me more and make me better

  • Some heat training – do a few long runs later on in the day
  • More elevation running – difficult but not impossible for this flatlander
  • Prescribed training/paces – I generally try to run a few days of the week on a treadmill to increase intervals on the days I teach spin. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I imagine I could benefit from reading some specific training plans or websites?
  • Experience more trails, different surfaces. I was so intimidated by the MDH but after I ran the Black Hills, I had a new outlook. I cannot imagine running where there is real elevation. Maybe one day?

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Not every race has to be an all-out balls to the wall for me. I like the event atmosphere, making it a vacation, time with friends and family. Of course, I’d be lying if I said numbers didn’t matter. They do. To every runner. I want to do well but at the same time, it IS recreational fun. I hope to look back at this time in my life and remember running a lot and having fun. I doubt I’ll remember every race pace time but I will remember every race due to experiences. Thanks for reading this LONG run recap!

 

Quick side note: The female winner of the half was a musical performer and sang our national anthem before we ran. How awesome is that!?!

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Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, 2017

The Spearfish (SD) Canyon Half Marathon was held on Saturday, July 8, 2017. This was my second year in a row running this event. It is an absolutely beautiful course, a small race (275 half marathoners) and well organized. Spearfish is one of my favorite places to visit and it coincided with my mother-in-laws 70th birthday. That’s all it took for us to make it a long weekend of running and celebrating – myself, my husband and in-laws.

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This road half marathon was two weekends after the Black Hills 30k. After the finish of the 30k and being pleased overall with that run, I felt really good about the half marathon prospects. BUT, that was short lived. I got sick after the 30k. The tingle in my throat turned into a full blown summer cold. Nothing major, but it really wiped me out. I missed work for three days even. Which has never happened to me. I slept about 12-17 hours each those three days. I was wiped out. Obviously, health is the most important. I was signed up for the half and figured I’d do it with no time expectations – but just finish vertical.

We left bright and early Friday morning so we could get to Spearfish for lunch, grab my packet and head over to Deadwood for the evening. My MIL likes to gamble so we wanted to get there in case she was feeling lucky!

We ate at our favorite Spearfish restaurant, Dough Traders for pizza. A great pre-run meal. Their pizza is thin crust and they don’t go too crazy with the toppings or too much cheese. It took me approximately 20 seconds to get my packet and we were off.

Once we got checked into the hotel, we went out and about for some drinks and so I could try to find a healthy place for dinner. I try to eat fairly healthy before a run and thought I might have trouble finding something light in Deadwood. We did find a salad place kind of like Subway where I got a great salad. HOWEVER, I might have went a little too hard on the beers. The weather was just fantastic and we were having a great time. It’s hard for me to say no. In retrospect, I think sometimes I can kind of self sabotage my performance by doing things like this but whatever, life is short. Have fun.

Regardless, I was home and to bed early. I had an early wake up call. The bus left for the 7am start at 6 am from Spearfish park. The streets of Deadwood are very quiet at 5:30 a.m. I felt pretty good, at this point my cold was gone but I did have a lingering cough. I was concerned a bit about that, and more so about the 95 degree forecast.

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Once I boarded the bus, we took off for the 30 minute or so drive up Spearfish Canyon. I sat with a lovely woman named Priscilla from Spearfish. She had a hip replaced and still runs. She was nice to visit with and gave me a spot to check out in Deadwood.

Once to the start line (it is no fuss – literally just a white spot sprayed painted on the road saying start) we had 30 minutes to wait. A lot of people felt cold and I had some goosebumps but knew I’d be wishing for that cool weather shortly!

After a 3-2-1 air horn start, we were off. I started out conservative and just tried to find my pace and place in the pack. Everyone quickly spread out. The road is still open to traffic but at the early hour, there aren’t many cars or motorcycles out yet. The first 4 or so miles I felt great. I thought to myself I was going to really crush this race. I should know better to ever think things like that so early in the run. In fact, I should have been suspicious as my best miles are usually the middle ones. Around mile 5 I started to get a pit in my stomach. Like the one where you need to go to the bathroom. I had PLENTY of time before the run so I thought I wouldn’t have this issue. It felt serious and like I needed a bathroom. I tried to wish the feeling away and think about anything else other than my gut. At one point I had to stop dead still in fear I would have an accident in my pants. BUT, when I started back up, I felt pretty good.

I rushed along quickly and tried to focus on the scenery but quickly that tummy ache came back. Worse. I tried to think about anything else but all my thoughts went to poo. Sorry for the crude talk, but runners know. I thought of my dog. But then I just thought of how much he poos. I thought of the lovely trees but it made me think of their leaves and if I could use them as toilet paper if needed. I had to do another stop and actually CROSS MY LEGS in fear. FINALLY, around mile 6 I spotted some porta potties. This was the first time in a run I’ve had to use a porta. I said a quick thank you to God and was in and out in no time.

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I shot out of that porta quickly trying to make up for lost time. I don’t know if my cadence was off or what but I got the WORST side stitch. I get them on occasion and I don’t know why it happens. My liver was probably crying mercy from the night prior. Haha. But it was pretty bad pain on my right side and I was forced to walk. I kept trying to run but it was bad – walk/run, walk/run, walk/run. I didn’t know what to do or how long it would last. It was horrible getting passed by people and I felt my hopefully awesome time go out the window.

At the next aid station, I completely stopped and drank two glasses of water. I decided to run again and just like that, the side stitch was gone. I was apprehensive at first but kept running until I found my stride again. After a small pity party, I decided I would just have fun. There aren’t many spots for spectators but they are people dotted along the route. I made sure to visit with them and took my time getting water and thanking volunteers at the other aid stations. You can paint a stroke on a piece of artwork at one aid station and I did that. I decided I knew I wasn’t probably at my physical best coming into this run so just let it go and have fun. And I did.

My toughest mile actually ended up being at the end. We were in the full on sun, it was heating up and we were on cement. I told myself after all my little mishaps to not stop and walk to run to the finish and I did. I am proud of a strong finish! It was awesome to see my in-laws at the finish and have my hubby cheering for me. The race starts and ends early so after I got some water in me, we were off back to Deadwood so I could shower, refuel and party with the fam!

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Results:

1:51:17 | 8:29/mile | Countless smiles (at least for the 2nd half)
And I am still super happy with that time. I’ve come a long way from my first half marathon in 2015 where I had a 2:08+ finish and no idea what I was doing. Not that I am much better having a clue now, but I know my body cues much better!

If you ever find yourself in the Deadwood area, I have a few recommendations and not to miss places. We love this area and I seriously would love to live here. Maybe one day!

I know how to refuel from a run!! Seriously though, a salty Bloody Mary is a great refuel option. Hit. The. Spot.

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I hope he isn’t mad I put him in the blog but here I am with my honey. I appreciate his support and encouragement in all of my fitness endeavors. It was a wonderful weekend with him! Let’s go running!

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Cauli-Rice Taco in a Bowl

Hi – I’m back with another “non-recipe” post for you. This is just an idea you can take and customize to your preferences or dietary needs. This was really tasty and both my husband I gobbled this up. Leftovers kept great in the fridge.

Cauli-RiceTacoinaBowl

Included in our bowls:

  • Cilantro lime cauliflower rice
  • Charred corn Mexican blend (frozen veggie packet nuked in the microwave)
  • Refried beans
  • Homemade salsa
  • Ground beef with taco seasoning, onion and peppers
  • Cilantro

Prepare all the foods and place in a bowl. Mix together and eat or sop up with a tortilla. Some obvious additions might be rice, other beans, grilled veggies, sour cream, cheese and whatever you can think of.

Enjoy!

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Black Hills 30k, 2017 – Part 2

One great blessing was the weather. While leading up to the event it was very windy and warm, this particular day the winds weren’t too bad (15-20mph) and the temps were ideal, starting out in the 60s and topping out in the mid-70s. I am so thankful it wasn’t 90+ that day!

As most trail runs go, it was a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown and we were off. We had about a half mile until we got onto Centennial trail. I had no idea what pace to aim for or how to go out so I just did what I thought was comfortable and could keep up with. I wasn’t in a rush and knew I’d definitely have to walk. My goal I gave my crew was 3:30-4 hours finish time. I did not want to finish last, but as my husband told me, SOMEONE has to finish last.

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It is probably worth mentioning that prior to the event, the race director sent us a few updates on the trail. I appreciate a sense of humor and he certainly has one! The only bad news was that as the trails were being kept us, some reconstruction added on a bit of mileage to the run. I was mentally prepared for about 18+ miles and that seemed so far to me, 19+ was like insane!

I had looked at the elevation map in advance to kind of mentally prepare for what we were in for. I was walking before we hit mile one. I tried to follow the cues of those around me and advice from my friends who ran this already. I did not want to burn out too quickly. The first four or so miles were up hill for the most part. But then we hit some serious downhill. I love to run downhill but this was steeper down than I had expected and much rockier. I wanted to make up for lost time but the terrain kept me from going all out. There were large rocks and you just really had to watch where you stepped so you didn’t roll an ankle. I tripped many, many times over rocks and tree stumps.

At this point I was feeling great. I had no idea where I was at in the pack but that wasn’t a concern. I got to the first aid station and saw Dave was already there (my new friend). I ate a few pieces of watermelon and a half a cookie from the varied display of food the volunteers had on hand – you guys rock! I think I drank one cup of water. I didn’t want to linger too long so took off with Dave right behind me. I told him I thought we were in for another hill if I remembered the map correctly. Sure enough, we did some walking and climbing. Once it finally evened out, I took off running with Dave behind me.

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The views are absolutely stunning but it was hard to take it all in since my eyes were on the path. I felt really strong at this point and like I could just run forever (we were on a nice, long down stretch). While the trees and switchbacks made it hard to see anyone in front of or behind me, I had Dave’s bright orange shirt (meeting Dave before the run above) in view at all times.

The trail was really varied. Rocks, sand, deep path, tall grass, narrow, we encountered it all. Things kind of opened up towards the next and last aid station. We were more of in a field type setting instead of a forest. We had to go through a tunnel under a road and for me it really threw me off and made me dizzy/queasy. Throughout the run, we were passing others who were doing other mileages. At one point, we passed a couple and she cheered us on and said hey, first female to me. I thought she was perhaps suffering from exhaustion. Soon, we came up to the 2nd aid station and they confirmed I was the first female for the 30k. I was stunned and also pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to hold on. I was beginning to get tired and this was at about mile 14 maybe? Again, I took some watermelon and a cup of water. As we ate, another female I remember seeing on the course came up to the aid station.

Again, just a quick stop and we continued along up another hill. There was a lot of walking and it seemed steep and sunny. I could feel the beginning of a struggle inside my head. I did my best to power walk up the hills and just keep moving. I would say that I made it pretty strong until mile 16. At or around this point, Dave moved past me. I told myself to keep his orange shirt it my eye view. He kept getting further out though.

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Above with my fit friend, Karen from Zap, ND.

Probably around mile 17, that 2nd place female passed me. I was okay with that. I wasn’t in this to win or even place. A very short time later, another female passed me out of nowhere. I don’t remember seeing her. I was mentally and physically beat and pretty upset with myself at that point. I vowed not to let anyone else pass me.

At this point my whole body hurt. My hips felt like they were going to split apart. I told myself to run for a quarter mile and then I could walk. I think I made it like .05 and I’d walk. I couldn’t decide of walking or running hurt worse. At mile 18, I was close to town and it was pretty flat so I could see far ahead of me. I knew where I needed to head and I had seen Dave way up there and he was probably finished at this point. There was another tunnel and I also hated that – not sure why these really messed with me.

To be honest, I wanted to cry. I had been the lead woman for 16 miles (although I didn’t know it) and it slipped from me in the last 3 miles. I was really disappointed with myself. BUT, I tried to change my mind around that I was still on track to finish under 4 hours and my family was waiting for me I knew. It was really hard to change my mind that way though.

The finish is in the park and you run along the sidewalk until you finish. Pretty soon, I saw Dave coming towards me as I was walking and he ran and told me to finish strong and he ran with me. I totally started crying. It meant so much to me to have this stranger push me to run to the finish. I heard my family before I saw them. Dave stepped off the course to let me finish. I ran through and immediately sat down and took off my shoes I think? I can’t even remember. Haha. It was pretty warm and I wanted some water so my sister got that for me. I just wanted to sit for a bit.

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Just a minute or two later, my new Nebraska friend, Mackenzie (above) crossed the finish line so it was fun to cheer for her. She looked strong on her finish. We both sat and recovered and finally made our way to get some Sturgis brewed beer to celebrate. We hung out for about an hour or so to regroup and watch our friends finish. I thanked Dave again on my way out. What a guy!

There were no showers and we had checked out of our hotel so we went to the community rec center and paid $5 to shower. Best $5 ever. This really gave me life again. I chugged a few liters of water and we made our way to go eat. I said goodbye to my new friends and now follow them on social media.

Here are my Garmin stats:

3:44:32 finish | 19.26 miles | 2,335 ft gain, 3,610 ft loss | 11:30 pace

In retrospect, I didn’t let anyone else pass me. Awards were the next day and I was/still am shocked that I got third female overall. BUT, I am proud that I finished within my goal time and I am so happy my family was there supporting me. I’m not sure if I am still on a runners high or what but this was one of my greatest adult accomplishments. Sure, college graduations were nice but school was kind of always easy for me. Marriage has been fun but also, it was easy to fall in love and get married. Moving and jobs are great, but expected. This is something I worked for on my own, making my own weird training schedule by looking online and finishing. Sure, I wish some things were different but it is what it is! That post-race high is real!

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My take aways:

  • I have to figure out how to fuel during long runs. I SUCK at this and never take in nearly enough calories or water. I don’t feel like eating or drinking but know I’d be stronger if I had more than some watermelon and two cups of water. Fail. I am fairly certain I got dehydrated that day.
  • A 30k was a long ways. Of course, someone says – marathon next? I think I’m OK with half marathons or shorter distances. I’m not sure I have the commitment to a full marathon training. I enjoy other workouts/variety a lot…but never say never.
  • Those down hills were real. I tripped so many times – other runners even questioned if I was OK. My quads were sore for two days afterwards.
  • Trail runners are just the best. So supportive. Awesome people. Bad ass.
  • My family is #1. No contest. I can’t believe the support they give me.
  • I can do hard things. Always room for improvement though.

 

 

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Black Hills 30k, 2017 – Part 1

Saturday, June 24, 2017 was the Black Hills 100 race events. The course options are 100M, 50M, 50K and 30K. I signed up for the 30K. This would be my longest and no doubt, hilliest event ever. I think after the Maah Daah Hey Trail half marathon last year, I really wanted a taste of some more trails. The idea of a 30k terrified me but the fact it is in the Black Hills (which are about mountains to this flat lander) and I could make this into a weekend vacation was a strong draw.

This was my “A” event for the year. I wanted to finish this run and show myself I was capable. As usual, I really had no idea how to train for this or where to event start. I tried Googling a few 30k plans and didn’t see anything in line with what I thought I should be doing. So, I came up with my own plan. Twelve weeks of workouts dedicated to making me stronger and able to cross that finish line. With those goals, I laid out these plans:

  • Run further
  • Run more often
  • Cross train with cycling/spin
  • Dedicated body weight exercises 2x/week
  • Stretch
  • Incorporate trails and hills where possible

I had six days of dedicated workouts and generally one full day of rest or active recovery. My biggest concern was fitting in longer runs. I have a few half marathons under my belt but I don’t feel like I had strong finishes.

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The good news is I have family who is there to always support me. My Mom, Dad, sister and I left Hazen on Friday, June 23 to go to Sturgis where we’d meet up with my Aunt and her husband. When we arrived (5 hour drive) I checked in easily, got my packet, went to eat and stayed at the local Days Inn which was close to the finish line/bus leaving area at Woodle Field. Generally, the night before an event I like to keep it easy, eat something not too unhealthy and have a few beers. Check, check and check. On the way down to Sturgis, I felt a tingle in my throat like I was maybe getting a cold so I took some Emergen-C as well.

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Saturday morning seemed to drag on forever. Due to the time change (we gain an hour on the way there), I was up early and had ample time to eat and worry! That little tingle in my throat was still there but I felt OK. I took advantage of the continental breakfast and what I had brought with to eat a larger than usual breakfast. The race buses left at 8 and the run started at 9 (I usually run at about 4:30 a.m. on days I work). Due to the later time, I wanted to have some fuel in the tank. My ladies dropped me off for the bus and wished me well. I think they knew I was nervous.

The buses were full and I was happy to see two faces I knew. A married couple from a nearby town were doing this event. They had participated before so I quizzed them on any tips. They were gracious to answer me and calm my nerves. A young lady boarded the bus and asked to sit with me. I was too nervous to say anything to her. I would say about 15 minutes into the ride, I finally asked her if this was her first 30k/time doing the Black Hills. To my relief, she was super nice and fun to chat with. This was also her first 30k and longest distance so we had that in common. She was from central Nebraska and we easily chatted the rest of the way. Once we got to the trailhead area, we had some time to kill so chatted some more and met a few more people. The married couple introduced me to their friend Dave who would be instrumental in my finish. Little did I know!

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From the website – here is what they say about the 30K:

Last but certainly not least is the 30K. Yeah, we know, technically a 30K isn’t an “ultra”, but it is a good starter distance for those runners who want to get out on the trails and are curious as to what the trail distance running thing is all about. This course is roughly 30K, give or take a km or two…us ultra runners have never really been that good at math. Overall, you’ll be losing elevation but be prepared for a few significant climbs along the way too.

A word of warning, don’t be deceived by the relatively gentle, rolling terrain of the Black Hills. While this course does not feature the lung searing elevations and jagged mountain peaks of some other western ultras, it is by no means an “easy” course. The best way to describe the Centennial Trail is “relentless”. The trail is almost constantly moving up or down. All of those climbs add up eventually, resulting in more elevation gain than you might expect from an ultra in South Dakota. It’s a challenging route, but also a very beautiful one. Make sure to take a look around while you’re huffing up one of the climbs!

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This is already super long so I’ll break it up into another post. Be back in a few days! The photo above is me with my parents the night before the run.

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Salted Caramel Krispie Treats

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but a few of us in my family really consider ourselves to be rice krispy connoisseurs. In particular, we really like scotcharoos, which are made with peanut butter and frosted with a chocolate/butterscotch mix. Those are the #1 in our family, especially when they are super thick and nice and gooey. Just say no to rock hard krispy treats.

Well, I stumbled upon this recipe one day and it seemed super easy to make so I thought I’d give it a go. Everyone needs a few of those easy recipes in their back pocket, you know?

SaltedCaramelKrispieTreats

A few things I really like about this recipe:

  • Uses a full box of cereal (no leftovers to worry about), same with the marshmallows
  • No bake
  • Fool proof
  • Super thick bars
  • Only one pot and a wooden spoon required
  • Hunks of marshmallows remain
  • Gooey
  • Everyone loves them

What I don’t like about this recipe:

  • Too good, too easy, I can eat like a bajillion of these!!

Salted Caramel Krispie Treats

Ingredients:

1-12 oz. box of rice krispies (store brand is fine)
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half (heavy whipping cream could be used but save yourself like $4 and get half and half – $$$!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown rice or light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt or flaked sea salt (don’t use table salt)
2-10.5-ounce bag of mini marshmallows

Instructions:

Spray an 9×13″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When it’s melted and just slightly browned, reduce the heat to medium and add the brown sugar, half and half, and brown rice or corn syrup and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the caramel from scorching. When the caramel is thick and syrupy, remove from heat and add in the salt and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add in one full bag of marshmallows and one half of the other bag reserving 1/2 for later. Stir until the marshmallows are dissolved, then quickly add in the rice krispies and other marshmallows and stir quickly to coat completely. Lightly press into the prepared baking pan. Allow to cool completely and then cut into squares.

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You can store these on the countertop. Somehow by the miracle of the food gods, ours remained just fine for about a week, uncovered. They were still gooey and delicious as ever. I made another batch for a family vacation, covered tightly and froze. Thaw on the counter and they were still gooey also.

These make great snacks for oh, about anything that exists. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Dessert | 1 Comment

Glimpse of the Prairie, Farm in a Box

Glimpse of the Prairie is a mother/daughter business outside of the Bismarck-Mandan area and they sell CSA shares, goat milk soap products, flavored popcorn and Farm in a Box meal plans. I recently purchased the pizza meal plan and the BBQ meal plan which was actually a thank you gift to my parents for pet sitting while we went on vacation.

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Farm in a Box couldn’t be easier. You need to order online on Sunday or Monday to pick up the following Saturday at BisMarket Farmers Market, located in the Kiwanis Park/Municipal ballpark parking lot off of Sweet Ave by Sertoma Park.

The best way I can describe these boxes would be something similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh – a meal plan where the ingredients come individually packaged, portioned and instructions for each meal is given. BUT, the best part if you are supporting a local ND company who is providing the food from either their own farm or sourced throughout North Dakota. From their website:

“Bring convenience to weekday meals with locally sourced foods. Nourish your family with locally inspired tastes made in your own kitchen. We provide high quality ingredients that are grown, raised, and artistically made in our community.”

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Our pizza box included crusts for four pizzas – a breakfast, Italian, BBQ chicken and spinach artichoke. I do believe they will work with you if you have certain dietary needs. Each pizza with a side was enough for a smaller meal for my husband and I. My favorite was the breakfast pizza. We did add some more fresh toppings from our fridge. Instructions included baking or grilling the pizzas.

I found the value and portions to be spot on. This isn’t something I will do weekly as I am not in Bismarck every week to pickup (I live about an hour out of town). However, it is great for a special treat and excellent to gift a friend or family member. I will be a repeat customer. Please check them out if you haven’t yet. I love supporting local, especially women!

 

Posted in Breakfast, Dinner, Dinner idea, Grilling, Healthy Living, Informational, Main Dish, Misc | 3 Comments