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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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.



Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living | 1 Comment

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.


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.


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!


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!


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?


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


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


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.


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 | 4 Comments

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.


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.”


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

Strawberry Cobbler

Can we agree that fruit isn’t dessert? It just isn’t. However, when mixed with some sugar and topped with a cake like topping, then it is dessert. Strawberries are IN right now and are affordable. I whipped this up one day when I saw some berries on sale. The toughest part of this recipe is chopping those berries. It is super easy and forgiving. Cobblers aren’t meant to be pretty because the red berries shine through anyway.


I made this cobbler in a two-quart dish and two small ramekins. Sometimes (read: almost all the time), I make a little ramekin side dessert for tasting purposes, especially if the dessert is going somewhere. I’d hate to serve a foul tasting dessert to a friend or family member. Not an issue with this recipe.

Strawberry Cobbler, serves 4-6


  • 4 cups chopped strawberries (big hunks is fine)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or a bit more/less depending on sweetness of your berries
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 1 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • vanilla ice cream for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish (2 quart round) with nonstick spray. Add the strawberries and sprinkle with the sugar and cornstarch. Toss gently, just until the berries are coated.

To make the topping, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a fork or your fingers, add the butter and incorporate it into the flour until small pieces and crumbs remain. Beat together the egg, milk, vinegar and vanilla extract. Add it into the dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms. Add spoonfuls of the dough all over the strawberries.

Bake the cobbler for 35 to 45 minutes, until it’s golden and cooked through.

Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream. If you can’t serve immediately, keep in the fridge. Before serving, warm it up in a 200 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes.



Two perfect little side dishes for tasting – one for me and one for the Mr.


I ended up not giving this dessert away but sharing it. You don’t want to forget the ice cream. It melts in with the berries and makes just the perfect summer dessert. This isn’t too sweet or heavy for a warm summer day. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Dessert | Leave a comment

Fort Abraham Lincoln 15k Run, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017 was National Trails Day and to celebrate, Fort Abraham Lincoln (south of Mandan) held their annual 15k Trail Race and 5k Walk/Run. My Mom and I participated in this event in 2016 and this year she again did the 5k walk and I did the 15k run.


My day started out early, with a wake-up call at about 5:30 am which seemed even earlier as I had been out late the night before with my husband. The weather was super nice and some patio happy hour drinks turned into several hours. Whoops. But, I’m not exactly a serious/elite/going to win this event runner so it’s OK. Sure, I might have performed better if I behaved myself, but I would have missed out on a fun night with him. I traveled the 40 minutes to my Mom’s house and we left Washburn at about 6:30, getting to Fort Lincoln at 7:30. This gave us plenty of time to register for the 8:15 15k start and 8:25 5k start. The commissary/gift shop has a great little coffee store as well if you need a morning caffeine fix before your run.


I haven’t been to a lot of races and I am definitely not a seasoned runner. However, I can tell you I really LOVE this event as it is always small (I like) and family friendly. The staff is awesome here. They really put on a great event. You don’t get much for swag but entry is only $10!! I’ll gladly pay $10 for the views on this run.

I also got to meet an Instagram friend, Parker, aka, PJScott22, who was also doing the 15k! Great job, Parker and thanks for saying hello! At the finish I also saw running friend Dustin and introduced myself to Theresa. One other person I chatted with was Andrea and we realized we knew each other from a trail run in Washburn the year prior. The running community is small and friendly! Everyone did great on this warm morning.


Here I am with a couple gals right behind me. I actually totally biffed it this run. I saw a rock, told myself to step over it and just biffed it. I caught myself on my hands and it was in a sandy area so I only got dirty, not hurt. Andrea and her friend were kind enough to check on me though and offered to walk with me if I needed.


The event starts with the first mile pretty much uphill about 200′ or so. Then you get on a loop and repeat that one time to reach 15k. There are water stations throughout and a photographer was there who took a few of these photos and then posted them to Facebook so that is really nice to have these memories. The run was warm. There was a breeze that day but in some of the treed and sheltered areas, it was quite stiffling. North Dakota really kind of went from 40 degrees to 80-90 degrees so I haven’t had much time to get accustomed to warmer running. I generally run at about 4:30 a.m. before work when it is nice and cool. And I haven’t had a billion beers the night before! This is coming into the finish past the gift shop at the park – you can see it is quite dry in North Dakota and I was a sweaty and dirty mess afterwards.

My Garmin stats read 9.59 miles | 1 hour 31 minutes 45 seconds (9:34 pace) | 949′ elevation gain (last year it read like 784′ gain so something was off – 784′ seems more realistic). My first mile was the slowest and my third the fastest. I think overall I am happy with the results. The main goal is to finish healthy and happy so achievement, unlocked. I was hoping to be under 1hr 30min and I think if I had behaved the night before, it might have happened. I have very little experience running trails due to running early in the morning and not having access to much elevation where I live. That said, I LOVE a trail run, being with nature and focusing on each step. The path is pretty much all off road – some areas a bit rocky, some sandy, some quite narrow and some just grassy. It is hilly and adventurous for this flat lander. I walked a few times (no shame) and stopped a couple times for water and a photo.

I finished my run very sweaty and salty and with one woodtick crawling on me. My Mom was waiting for me at the finish where she killed her 5k walk. She always impresses me! We were happy to use the comfort station at the park so we could shower and head into Bismarck to shop the day away. Thanks so much to Fort Abraham Lincoln for another fine event.

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Bend, OR

Our final few nights were spent in Bend, OR, where our hosts reside. Bend is quite different in landscape from our prior stops. It is more of a desert type feel – very dry. Summer days get warm but evenings really cool off. It is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains along the Deschutes River and is a gateway for outdoor sports like mountain biking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, running – basically anything you’d like. I’d call it a big town, probably about 90,000 people? The day we arrived the town was hosting the Pole, Pedal, Paddle where you ski, cycle, run and kayak/canoe. Epic, huh? Even thought it was the end of May, many people hit Mount Bachelor in the morning to ski and came down to Bend to enjoy the sun during the day.


We went and got situated at our friends beautiful home and reunited with their two, sweet dogs. Their house is open, airy and inviting with a back patio made for afternoon drinks! Just lovely.


Here are the guys enjoying a brew, probably waiting on us women.

One of our first meals was at Worthy Brewing where the veggie burger came highly recommended and it was great. Our friends told it that it is so good they know someone who orders it with bacon and cheese added. Ha, love that. You can see we were treated to a lovely sunset this evening. This is a HUGE brewery complete with a “hopservatory” where you can use telescopes to see the stars. It’s just insane here. I think this was one of my favorite stops. You can see on the patio that pretty much everywhere in Oregon is dog friendly. There are water dishes outside of most shops and all the dogs we met were friendly. In fact, in HR, every Uber we used they had their dog along with them. I loved it!

As far as some outdoor activity there are again a lot of paths. We also took the dogs to the nicest and biggest dog park I have ever been to – 16 acres! The dogs just loved it there. Us women also went to Joy Cycle, a super fun, high intensity spin class.

While the men were out golfing, we went to Spork, a restaurant that went from food truck to bricks and mortar. It was so delicious! One of my fave meals, though I really couldn’t pick as all the food was great. What you see here was my meal of chilaquiles – corn chips in enchilada sauce with cabbage, radishes, pickled jalapeno, cotija cheese and crema. We also got an appetizer of peanuts – served spicy and with cane sugar. We capped that off with dessert at Atlas Hard Cider and a cider tasting. It’s so neat to visit the place where you have drank beer or cider from to see it IN PERSON. The weather was so nice we were able to cruise around Bend in my friends Jeep with the top off.

The HIGHLIGHT of the activities in Bend would probably have to be the Cycle Pub Tour. Six of us got to pedal a bike around Bend visiting breweries while our tour guide steered, braked and instructed us. The weather was perfect, the guide was hilarious and the breweries were delicious. We went to the iconic Deschutes Brewery, 10 Barrel and I think one or two more but it quickly became fuzzy. Whoopsie. We had the bike for two hours but it seemed like 20 minutes we had so much fun. We stopped along the Deschutes River to drink a bit and it was just so gorgeous – one of those, like is this really my life moments?! We couldn’t have had a better group. Our one friend, Rachel, recently had a baby so it was fun to have her let loose as we all did. If you like beer, Bend is the place to be. There are many breweries and it is easy to walk from place to place. Every little bar or restaurant has craft beer and you’ll have trouble finding a Bud Light.

A few more food items: the photo at the top of the post is from Craft Kitchen & Brewery – talk about insane views. I had falafel there and it was delicious. On the left was lunch at The McKay Cottage – great outdoor seating and a super fresh menu. The final meal was our friend cooking for us. She made us grilled veggies, kabobs and garlic toast. Our final night we had dinner, a few drinks and sat in their hot tub.

This was an epic vacation for us. We can’t thank our friends enough. They shared their home, their food, their fun, where they work and their state with us. I cannot wait to plan our next vacation with them. They are a couple we just get along with easily and can do our own thing apart or stuff together. It’s rare and I am sad they moved to Oregon but enjoyed our trip. Thanks for following along!

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Informational, Misc | 2 Comments