It’s National Breakfast Month! With Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs

img_9421.jpgSeptember is National Breakfast Month! To help me celebrate, the nice people at Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs sent me coupons for a few dozen eggs, plus some handy egg rings to make, well, round eggs. Circular.

I grew up on a little farm, and I was in charge of feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs. We sold some at our little farm stand. I grew up on very fresh (and tasty) eggs from a reasonably happy little flock of Rhode Island Reds, who had a roomy coop and a nice outdoor space.

While I can’t have my own chickens right now, because of where I live, I still want good fresh eggs…and eggs from chickens that have room to move around, not factory-farmed chickens. So if I can get local fresh eggs, great, but living in the city, that’s not always possible.img_9424.jpg

Egg labels can seem confusing, can’t they? “Organic,” “Natural,” “Cage-Free”…what do they all mean? “Organic” generally means no pesticides were used to grow the feed. “Natural,” well, that varies. “Cage-Free” means the chickens aren’t kept in cages…but it doesn’t always mean they have enough room to move around, and some have said that “cage-free” can be cruel to chickens.

Make 'em round!

Make ’em round!

“Certified Humane,” however, is the label to look for if you want chickens who have a happy life. “Certified Humane” means that the chickens (or whatever animals) have been certified by a nonprofit organization called Human Farm Animal Care, whose mission is to ensure kinder and more responsible farm animal raising practices. For Pete and Gerry’s, “Certified Humane” means that their chickens have gentle handling, low stress, plenty of room and fresh air and water, and freedom to dust bathe, roost, and stratch…plus good, quality, hormone- and antibiotic-free feed.

Here’s more information:

Sounds good to me! I like eggs. They’re one of my main forms of protein, in fact: eggs with pasta, egg soft tacos, eggs on quinoa with kale, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs…

 

 

Scrambled, anyone?

Scrambled, anyone?

Oh, yeah, on a corn tortilla with cilantro and hot sauce...great post-run breakfast!

Oh, yeah, on a corn tortilla with cilantro and hot sauce…and some quinoa, roasted eggplant, and peas…great post-run breakfast!

Or on corn tortillas with sauteed arugula and cherry tomatoes, topped with avocado and, yes, hot sauce! Another great post-run breakfast!

Or on corn tortillas with sauteed arugula and cherry tomatoes, topped with avocado and, yes, hot sauce! Another great post-run breakfast!

Know your eggs. Know what you’re buying. Support small family farms (the kind of farms that supply Pete and Gerry’s). Support happy chickens.

September may be National Breakfast Month, but you should eat good breakfasts every day!

Disclosure: Pete and Gerry’s provided me with product coupons, egg rings, and compensation to facilitate this post. 

The Quiet Blog

Hi! You may have noticed this blog has changed a lot over the years. I can’t be as open as I was before, for so many reasons. For one thing, it’s not as private anymore (which is fine, mostly, and not a surprise, but it’s funny/awkward when someone I don’t know well tells me they read my blog, and they seem embarrassed about it, like they’re confessing to reading my journal, and I’m wracking my brain to remember if I wrote anything especially personal or embarrassing recently). I can no longer write about the kids, because they’re not anonymous babies doing Every-Baby types of things. They’re actual people (not that babies aren’t people, but you know what I mean). They want privacy, and I respect that.

I’m going through a divorce. That shuts down a lot of what I might talk about right now, for various (obvious) reasons.

My training and nutrition are undergoing an overhaul but not (in my opinion) terribly interesting. I’ve been encourage to try to exercise every day, and I’ve been trying to stick to that (not so easy with my current schedule). There’s been a lot of 6 a.m. runs and Tabata workouts and boot camps and yoga. It’s great. And mountain biking! I am mountain biking again! Last weekend I went up to New Hampshire to explore some fun singletrack I haven’t been on in a decade or so. So much fun. And last month I reconnected with a local mountain biking group (alas, and then they ended their weeknight rides for the season and don’t seem to have the weekend rides they used to).

I’m also trying to follow a vegan diet but sometimes I just need to eat what’s available, with limited prep time, and I don’t have a microwave for some of the wonderful frozen vegan Indian wraps and burritos I bought before the move. (And no, I don’t have the patience or desire to heat up my entire oven to spend an hour reheating one frozen burrito.) (And no, I don’t want to buy a microwave.) So last night for dinner, much as I would have liked a kale salad topped with crumbled sauteed tempeh and roasted beets (I have the washed kale and roasted beets in my fridge and had them for lunch, but the tempeh was still in the package), by the time I got home from Back to School night I was so tired I could only pour myself a bowl of cereal with soymilk and yogurt (cow milk yogurt — thanks, Stonyfield!). I need to eat, and if salmon or beef or pork or yogurt come across my path and I’m hungry, well, so be it. I’m accepting what I can spend energy on right now, and I’m cutting myself some slack, and that’s OK.

Well. So things will be quiet around here for a bit, on the personal level, but I’ll be back, in full, at some point. I’ll still be blogging but it might be more of a lighter version of me. Thanks for reading.

 

How to Scare Your Child Away From Running: Vegan Black Bean Nut Brownies

I whirred the blender after the boys’ bedtime.

“Mom!” called Max. “What are you doing?”

“Sorry about the noise,” I said. “I’m making vegan black bean nut brownies.”

Even in the darkness I could see the horror on his face. “Who would eat that??”

“I’m bringing them to a race on Saturday,” I said. I have a trail race Saturday. Despite my grand training plans, I barely ran in August: according to my Garmin, I got in 4 slow miles per week (PER WEEK), withhttp://training plans no running at all in the last two weeks. I mean, come on, I’ve had a lot going on. But I have a trail half marathon Saturday followed by a trail 5-miler Sunday. I will slog through. Wonder how I get overuse injuries?

“But who would EAT that?” he repeated, his face still curled in horror.

“Oh, the runners,” I answered.

“But WHY? Why would anyone EAT those? Why would RUNNERS eat those?”

Let’s hope the runners eat them. Two months ago, I was making a recipe that I ended up not having a key ingredient for. I’d already ground walnuts, cashews, and pecans in the food processor with soaked dates. So I froze that mixture.

Now, both in hopes of having a nice treat to bring to Saturday’s race and to make room in my tiny freezer (I sold my chest freezer before the move, and my new fridge/freezer is SMALL), I pulled out the mixture, thawed it, and decided to make energy bites.

But after adding coconut and cocoa and cinnamon, I didn’t feel like rolling a million little balls. So I added a can of black beans, ground flax seed, water, oil, vanilla, and maple syrup, threw it into the blender (at least the beans/flax/water part) and now I have a pan of weird vegan brownies in the oven. I hope they’re edible!

 

 

 

Gather Chocolates: Eat Chocolate, Help the Bees (and a Giveaway!!)

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations, Michelle G.! Thanks, everyone, for entering. Go try these chocolates!

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I like good dark chocolate. I like bees. I like good causes. I like pretty boxes and nice packaging. I am a fan of pollination and small businesses and local companies and good food.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the honeybee declines in recent years. The USDA reported that pesticides and parasites caused a 44% loss of honeybee colonization in just one year. The White House has a Pollinator Health Task Force to study and address the problem.

Harbor Sweets, an artisanal chocolate maker in Salem, MA (and long recognized as one of the top women-owned businesses in Massachusetts), has a new line of chocolates called Gather. And yes, I was lucky enough to be asked to review a box.

6 CHOCOLATES ON PLATE (1)

Gather is a new  small-batch line of chocolates Harbor Sweets. Contained in a honey-yellow honeycomb-shaped box is a flight of six filled chocolates and truffles, each coated in excellent dark chocolate. Inside each chocolate is a filling with a subtle note of local honey. The flavors include:

  • Caramelized Honey Truffle
  • Pomegranate Molasses
  • Sesame Crunch
  • Cashew Caramel
  • Coconut Cluster
  • Sour Cherry

img_9383.jpgGather shot (2)Inside the lid is a little map to indicate which is which (unless your brother eagerly opens the box and everything gets mixed up and you’re not sure which is which, but it doesn’t matter — they are all good! And, ok, maybe I was yelling, “No, wait, I’m a blogger!! That’s not how we open things to review them! Put the lid back on and let’s start over!”).

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And then, like crazy people — or because I insisted we each try every single flavor — we cut each beautiful chocolate into four pieces, to share. Please, don’t be like us. Eat a whole piece, and buy your family and friends their own boxes. Or buy a few boxes and go halfsies.

And, they’re pretty. The Sour Cherry has a flower on it. Caramelized Honey Truffle has a bee. There’s a beehive on Pomegranate Molasses.

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Gather was inspired by the plight of the honeybees. A portion of sales (2.5%) will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a 5013c NGO that educates about and advocates for best practices for honeybee protection.

Here’s a nice little video on the backstory (plus, you can see how chocolates are made!):

So: Good cause, good chocolate, good company. You can order Gather from Harbor Sweets ($12.50 for a six-piece box, $18.50 for a 12-piece box) or use their store locator to find out what retailers sell the chocolate. Plus, they ship coast to coast. These chocolates make an excellent hostess or thank-you gift.

But wait! One lucky person will win a six-piece box of Gather Chocolates from me! I have to ship it to you, so the winner needs to be within the contiguous 48 United States.

To win, leave a comment telling me what’s most appealing about these to you: the cause, the chocolates themselves, or the company itself. (Please make sure your comment is connected to or contains your email address so I can email you if you win! — and if you follow me on Facebook, I will give a little shout-out there to the winner, in case you don’t get the email).

You can leave an extra comment (another chance to win!) telling me if you’re going to eat these yourself, share them with a friend/loved one, or give them as a gift.

A winner will be randomly drawn Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at 8 p.m. EST and notified by email (see above, re: Facebook). Winner will have 24 hours to respond or else I’ll pick another winner.

Back to School: Packing Lunches With Stonyfield, Justin’s, and PackIt

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It’s back-to-school time! Which means it’s time to pack lunches again. Unless, like us, you’ve needed to pack lunches for camp or outings for most of the summer. I’m kind of a professional lunch packer at this point.

It still seems daunting, though. I don’t know why. And last year the second grader was packing his own lunches. Why did this stop when he started camp this summer? I don’t know. I think both kids will be packing their own lunches this year, with my support.

And it’s not just knowing what to pack — how many snacks, who’s eating what this week (turkey? salami? hummus and cucumber? leftovers?) but who can eat what. Like when a particular upcoming first grader has a wiggly tooth, so you have to slice up his apple before you pack it because otherwise he can’t bite it.

But if you have the supplies and a formula, lunch-packing doesn’t have to be a drag.

Here are some key tips for packing a lunch:

Food Containers
We use reusable containers for snacks and lunches. For the main lunch, we use EasyLunchboxes three-compartment lunch boxes, with snacks in other small reusable containers. Yes, I wash a lot of containers, but I’m OK with that.

Lunch Bag
A sturdy, reusable lunch bag can last for the whole school year and sometimes for a few years! PackIt makes a great freezable lunch bag which contains a freezable gel. Just put it in the freezer overnight, then in the morning pack your child’s lunch in it. The lunch bag will keep the food cold for hours.img_9328.jpg

Lunch Food
Sandwiches are popular with my kids:

  • salami
  • PBJ
  • hummus and cucumber

Sandwich alternatives:

  • mac&cheese in an insulated food jar
  • leftover pasta with pesto
  • hummus, veggies, and crackers
  • cheese and crackers

I also pack veggies and fruit in the other compartments of the bento box.

Snacks
Besides the “main course,” I include:

  • fruit — berries, a sliced or whole apple, cut-up oranges, grapes
  • veggies — baby or big carrots, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber
  • something crunchy/salty, such as pretzels
  • Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers (these are great to keep in the freezer)
  • a granola bar (in case an extra snack is needed)img_9329.jpg
  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Pretzels snack packsimg_9334-1.jpg
  • maybe a packet of Justin’s Honey Almond Butter (who am I kidding, these are for me! Great pre-run fuel and a handy afternoon snack at my desk)img_9338.jpg

Drinks
A reusable water bottle. That’s all I send my kids with. But you could also include a juice box or milk.

By the way, could you sense a theme here? Reusable containers, few processed foods, and products from companies like Justin’s and Stonyfield that make sustainable practices their mission? I like supporting companies that have values similar to mine.

Oh — not that I’m telling you what to do, but because these tips can help you save time packing lunches — if you have some extra time, check out the recipes on the Justin’s site! I want to try the spicy peanut soba noodles and the granola bars, for starters.

Happy school year, and enjoy packing healthy lunches!

I Have an Apartment!

Today’s exciting news is that after a cliffhanger week, in which I was finally approved for one apartment — after a complicated and tricky application process — but was delayed on seeing a better one until the tenants moved out — and then had to go through another complicated application process and wait to be approved for that one before letting the first one know I wasn’t taking it — so basically I developed a little muscle tic under one eye, which happens when I am under a lot of stress, well, I have a signed lease in hand and a place to move in eleven days!! We have a new address!

Eleven days. Talk about cutting it close. When the kids ask where we’re moving to, which they’ve done for much of the summer, I can finally tell them. And it’s the place they liked best. The place I liked best. The place that seems best for us.

This has, in some respects, been not our best August. The kids had no idea where we’d be moving to. I had no idea. Someone asked them if they’ll be going to the same school this year, and they turned to me, confused, because none of us know, and I said, “Probably” — hoping at the time that their father would get an apartment in the school district — they had such looks of joy on their faces and said, “REALLY???” and I had to smile and said, “I think so!”

Ugh. I had no idea where any of us would end up.

Soon after, their father found an apartment in the school district. Yay!

This week, after submitting multiple documents (about 10, in all) from both me and their father, plus a personal letter from me, plus being sent to meet the landlord in person, I was accepted for an apartment. Without the cat.

But there was another apartment I wanted more, this one nicer and in a better (for me) location, same price. Prettier, quieter, with a bathroom that didn’t scream “I’m totally ugly low-budget and you’ll live with it, because this is what you deserve!”

Ahem.

No, but seriously, that first bathroom really sucked. Is installing a vanity that hard?  Plus this second apartment had onsite laundry, which is key when you have kids.

Anyway. I had to put off the first place for a few days, which I felt bad about, but I had to keep them in play until I knew about the second place, which took longer than expected. And It was awkward and stressful. I ended up having to call the realtor on the first place to let her know what was up, and she was of course pissed off, because she could have been showing the place in the meantime, but really that’s what this rental market has come to, so don’t blame me.

For the past three days the kids have been asking if we are moving to the place on the bike path (like that’s the kind of stress kids need??), and today I took them to sign the lease and was able to tell them, “Yes.”

We’re all worn out by this process. And I would have loved to shield them from it except unfortunately I had to take them with me to see so many apartments, and things were so uncertain, and there was no way to hide it.

I have eleven days to pack and move. Hopefully I can get into the new place sooner. I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff and packed a lot already. I can’t wait to pack the rest and move on from here.

The cat is moving in with their father, whose apartment is pet-approved. I will miss her. Will miss stepping out each morning to call for her and watching her jump the fence and trot until she’s halfway to me, then slows to a walk, raising her tail. She loves when I pet her, brush her, talk to her. The kids like to feed her, play with her, turn on the faucet for her. She will be happy with C, I know, but I’m (for now) home more than he is. It will be weird for me to be without a pet. I’ve had cats since I was a child. Since I was 19 (there was one year off, first year of college). I’ve had a cat forever. Now I can’t.

Normally August is more fun for us. This August hasn’t been. I’d love to take the kids away for a few days. We have a week planned on the Cape with cousins but it turns out that’s the week I have to move (I’d really hoped to move earlier), so I might not be there with them.

We need a vacation, but it might have to happen this fall instead. For now, we have a place to move. And I came uncomfortably close to having no place to go, eleven days before I have to move out.

I think I can sleep better now.

Cleaning Out My Basement

I spent much of today cleaning out my basement in anticipation of my upcoming move.

I don’t know yet where I’m moving to. I have 2 weeks left and I’m not yet panicking, not entirely, though I admit to waking at 3 a.m. with rising anxiety and All the Thoughts, wondering if I should get online and scroll through Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist yet again…and again…

So sleeping sucks these days. Yes it does.

But spending the day in the basement was great. Sure, it was awesome to see all the beach and lake posts from everyone else on Facebook — so glad you’re all having fun — but dammit, my basement was not sweltering!

But man, there was a lot to go through. I’m talking 10 years of marriage plus a total of 6-7 years of preschool art. I can’t even tally how many years at this point. It’s a lot of fingerpainting and scribbles and “Um, what did you have in mind when you drew this?” sort of stuff.

Boxes of it. Boxes upon boxes of it. Apparently last time we moved, two-and-a-half years ago, we just boxed and moved it all. And it seems that every time we’ve had company since then, we’ve boxed it all up and thrown it in the basement.

I went through a LOT of preschool art today. Why is it my job to go through this and decide what stays, what goes?

And letters. I was a frequent penpal with my best friend from high school. I have a lot of letters from a prolific college girlfriend. My father used to write a lot, yellow legal sheets starting with the affectionate address of my Icelandic name. I have boxes of letters. I save all the letters.

I found a photo of my father running his first marathon in 1998, at age 54, soon after he took up running after years of back problems. He’s my inspiration. I will scan that and send it to him. He’s 83 now and still really amazing. You should meet him.

I came across the first birthday card my older son, then age 3, wrote to his brother, then age 1. It begins, “Dear Stinkypants, How can we love you?” and goes from there, and it is so charming and endearing and I cannot wait to read it to them when they come home to me tomorrow.

I posted a lot of stuff to our town’s “Everything is Free” list, which is a hell of a lot easier than Freecycle. One woman came to pick up some cookbooks I’d left for her on the porch and noticed a cabinet I’d put on the curb.

So the cabinet. I found it on Freecycle two years ago and picked it up and it was perfect for next to our washer to hold detergent bottles. Sure, with a couple of knobs it would have been more useful, but it was fine as it was. Turns out I’d picked it up from fellow blogger Red Shutters. 14012269_10209656483825113_302781995_n
The woman who picked it up from me messaged me to say she’d done so and sent me a pic of it with knobs and a candle on top, on her porch. It looks beautiful. I told her where I’d found it and sent her to the Red Shutters blog. Doesn’t the cabinet look great?

So I’ve gotten rid of enormous piles of recycling and some trash. I was merciless. And sentimental. I know the preschool art can’t stay with us forever, but there’s no reason to toss it all just yet, right?

Now all I need to do is find an apartment. And get some sleep.

 

 

Back on the (Running) Horse

I’ve become a total slacker, not running, barely going to yoga or weekly (just weekly!!) boot camp. Except for the magical Loon race, I really haven’t been running.

It’s a mix of being unmotivated, lazy, and rather taken over by the apartment hunt (nothing yet). Plus, the heat! I am personally responsible, however, for ending our heat wave in the Northeast, and you’re welcome. How did I do it? I singlehandedly lugged home a borrowed air conditioner, hauled it in, and installed it in the kids’ room, all on my own, without crushing my feet, cutting a finger, or dropping it out the window. I am a total rockstar. And that feat literally broke the heat wave, overnight.

I clearly have superpowers.

But anyway. I can’t run in the heat. Not like I’m a wimp, but I had a heatstrokey experience a few years ago (heat exhaustion, heat-related illness, what have you, I don’t know the proper term — let me just say it was Rather Bad), and since then I tolerate heat/humidity even less well than I did before, and so a recent afternoon running-in-the-heat attempt turned into a mere two-miler that left me beet red, dry-skinned, superhot, and feeling chilled. Yeah. I don’t sweat well. So. I officially give up trying to work out when it’s hot and humid.

While I’d made my peace with becoming one with my chair/sofa, I also know that I need goals. And my planned September 50-miler can’t happen, because I haven’t been running. Time to get off my ass and do something about this before I melt into a sad puddle of endorphin-less squish.

Oh, I love the endorphins.

Plus, with so many things in my life up in the air right now, I need something regular to count on and to do for myself that’s positive. Also, I “met” this woman while training for my ultra last December (we only met online, ran the race near each other [me somewhere behind her], and still haven’t met in person), and she’s very inspiring. She’s been training hard, recently won a 50K, and posts all her training online. I love following it (she’s also a vegan and posts pics of her meals — also inspiring). And it has inspired me to get off my ass and get back out there.

So I finally downloaded a marathon training plan, pinned it to my wall, and am sticking to it. I downloaded some new tunes to my iPod (a healthy mix of Sia and Highly Suspect, if you must know) and knocked out five miles today. Alone. Happily, even. With some box jumps on a big rock near the end of the run.

Race plan:

  • July: Mudderella (5-mile mud/obstacle race, pure fun)
  • September: Trail half marathon, followed two weeks later by a road half marathon
  • December: Trail ultra (yes, will use the marathon plan to get my mileage up and then build up from there)

 

It's just an intermediate training plan, but i's a good way to get my mileage back up.

It’s just an intermediate training plan, but i’s a good way to get my mileage back up.

Seriously, the new songs helped a lot. I haven’t updated my playlist in four years. Ugh. No wonder I don’t want to run!

And the half marathons on the training plan sync perfectly with a local half on a weekend I don’t have the kids (win-win!). However, I’m not sure how I will manage my weekend runs when they’re here. Make them bike alongside? For 14 or 20 miles?? Remains to be seen. I might have some 4 a.m. weekday runs in my future. We’ll see. I will definitely have to tweak the training based on when I have the kids, but I’ll get it all done and mark it all off as I go.

Plus, right above this training plan on the corkboard is this delightful drawing by Ben, which I love so much:

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I think he was four when he drew it, and while it looks as though Max might be about to take a swig, if I recall correctly he’s poised to throw something at Ben, according to the artist — who might be holding a self-defense rock in the drawing, come to think of it. Sweet, sweet children (no, seriously, they are — JUST THIS WEEK they started playing board games together, checkers mostly, and this morning Max was teaching Ben to play chess! You have no idea how much pure joy this brings me).

What are you training for? Who or what inspires you? How do you get off your butt when you’re becoming one with your chair?

Obstacle Challenge: Mudderella, A New Race for Me

I haven’t been running much lately, for various reasons, but  next up is Mudderella, a five-mile obstacle challenge race created by women, for women.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.04.08 PMI’ve always been interested in these kinds of races, not just running but also getting up and over tricky obstacles — I love to climb and play and such, and it’s hard to keep myself off the monkey bars at the playground — so obstacle challenge + running + mud + a team of friends? Yes. Apparently at times we have to help each other up and over the obstacles, which should be a hoot.

obstacle challenge

Copyright: Mudderella

Details: 

  • July 30, 2016
  • Exeter, NH
  • “A unique course that takes you through miles of back-wood trails and hilly motocross tracks…less than an hour outside of Boston”

Cause:

This race isn’t just for fun muddy bruising sweaty adventure with your besties, however. Mudderella is partnering with Futures Without Violence as their national charity beneficiary. All proceeds raised by participants support Futures Without Violence’s mission to protect women against domestic and sexual violence.

Fitness: 

You’re gonna be fine. But if you want to up your game a little, Mudderella offers some training workouts. These things are always good to do no matter what you’re training for.

Doesn’t this sound like fun?  Join my team — or put together your own! I have a discount code (15% off) for you, too: enter MUDMOM when you register. Sign up, challenge yourself, and have fun!

Loony on Loon: Loon Mountain Race Recap

For reasons I can’t articulate well, I signed up for the Loon Mountain Race weekend before last (July 3). It’s a NE Mountain Running Championship race. Or the championship. To pick people for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

I had no fantasies of even meeting people on the team, let alone running anywhere near them, but it can be fun to race near far behind the elites.

I hadn’t been running much, and I hadn’t been running any hills, and while I’ve done several trail races, I had never done a mountain race. It’s a whole different thing.

It was spectacular. The race had a really good feel to it, in terms of overall vibe — laid-back but mostly well-coordinated. The route was great. The trails were gorgeous. There was some not-quite-single-track through the woods (the nordic ski trails), with plenty of mud. There was up. There was down. There were cross-mountain views that made me want to throw out my arms and sing “The Hills Are Alive.” There was steep up on loose fill. Not gravel, not dirt, but what can only be described as “loose fill.” Have you ever tried to run up steep loose fill that’s slipping away under your feet?

Loose fill is fun! PHOTO CREDIT: SNAPacidotic

Loose fill is fun! PHOTO CREDIT: SNAPacidotic

Then there was a long steep uphill. The woman next to me, a three-time Loon racer, warned me there’d be a big downhill before Upper Walking Boss, the last big uphill (at a 40% grade). She was really nice. And then we crested our hill and she was gone. I don’t know how anyone runs downhill that fast without just falling and rolling, but she flew. I struggled along behind and then started up the Boss.

I knew to use my core and stay upright and push my hips toward the hill, but I’d been doing that for more than an hour and my core was TIRED. Imaging holding plank pose for a week or something. Yeah. Looking up, it was clear there was no human way to climb that grassy wall that looked about five miles high. And I couldn’t physically walk right up it.

I turned sideways. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Backwards. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Sideways the other way. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Forwards. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight.

I kept on like this until I finally looked down and realized I’d somehow gotten halfway up! So what if I looked like an insane spinning person. I was getting up that mountain as fast as I could. Which was, to be honest, no faster than the people just walking up it. It’s possible some of them passed me when I stopped to rest.

Kept counting. Changed count to six. Changed count to four. A sign indicated 100m to go. It looked like a few miles, honestly.

Got to a cheering crowd at a crest. [Links will take you to Scott Mason’s official race photos.]

“Where’s the finish? Over this crest?”

“One more crest! You’ve got it!”

Random guy to plodding me: “Pump your arms like you’re running!”

Right. I couldn’t possibly run but there was no reason to trudge like I was headed to hell. I pumped my arms. It helped a ton.

Second crest. Cheering crowds. Was this the finish? Cowbells.

Timing clock was up above some scree. Up there. No one’s up there. Not even a “Finish” sign. I kept going. Timing clock. Dying. Moon landscape. I crossed two timing mats and the clock.

“I’m DONE! I’M DONE I’M DONE I DON’T HAVE TO GO UPHILL ANYMORE I CAN STOP I’M DONE!”

That was me. Some guy was pouring cups of water. I stood by him and drank and drank and cheered that I was done.

I went back down to the upper crowd to cheer in friends and strangers. A woman came hobbling up the hill, limping badly, lurching side to side. I threw down my water and went to her side to run her in. “Hey, you’re almost there. The worst is over. The finish is just up there. You’re gonna be OK. Let’s just get up this part. We’re almost there. See the clock? Come on. You’re doing great. Keep it going. Come on.” She crossed the finish line; I ducked out just before the timing mats and got her some water.

And that was that. My friend Dana had very kindly gotten up early to drive me from our campsite to the race and bought a gondola ticket to be near the top to cheer me and take pics (but somehow we never saw each other, whatever). I got conflicting info on where she was and ended up walking almost halfway down Upper Walking Boss before realizing I’d be insane to go further down, because I’d only have to go up again.

I found her at the gondola. We rode to the bottom and she gave me a beer (I know! What a friend!!). I got her a bagel with peanut butter. Her tired dog slept. I sat through the awards ceremony (a 12-year-old girl finished 6th in women). Then our campsite pals met us and we all spent the afternoon hanging out by the river.

Now I want to do more mountain races….and some hill training, too.