Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Madness 8 Mile Run

I came home from school this afternoon exhausted and just wanted to take a nap.  However, I knew that since we didn't get our last long run in yesterday due to the rain, that tonight was the night.  We wanted to run the trails in the state park but they tend to flood with just the slightest amount of rain.  So instead we headed to town and settled on the Towpath.  This path ran throughout the city but we selected the portion that runs through a marshland.  The first part of the trail is interesting with its zigzag tree lined path.  After mile 5, the trail becomes extremely boring.  It becomes straight with no end in sight.  We broke our run up into two parts.  We ran 4 mile, fueled and stretched at the car, and then tackled the last 4 mindless miles.  Running the last 4 miles, we ran past the local indoor golf dome and two high school baseball games being played on adjacent fields.  As the sun started to set and our shadows became longer, we saw our car and the finish in the distance.  Two hours and we had finished 8 miles.  We walked the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes.  Using a 2 min run/1 min walk ratio we completed our last long run before this weekend.  Of course, we always finish off our runs with chocolate milk or Carnation Instant Breakfast.  What a tasty way to refuel after a long run!
Ready to tackle 8 miles

Fresh cut hay

Beginning of the trail


Some very large bird nests

Trying out my outfit for the half marathon on Saturday. It's not hard to tell that I love bright green

Simultaneous baseball games entertained us as we ran by their ball diamonds
Golf Dome

Wasn't sure what this was but closer inspection we concluded: ANTS!

Tulip Tree, I think

Almost finished!

Our running companions; our shadows
Slow 8 miles
 ( this includes 5 min. warm up walk and 5 min. cool down walk as well as stopping midway and of course photos along the way)
After run refuel

Another beautiful sunset

With the 8 miles behind us, we feel confident that we can complete the half marathon on Saturday without any problems.  One more easy run this week and then Indy here we come!  We aren't going for a time, we just want to finish and enjoy the sights along the way.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sweet tea and Shopping

Everyone who knows me, know that I LOVE McAlister's Deli.  It is by far my favorite place to eat.  Forget the fancy restaurants, give me a good bowl of soup and a sandwich and my belly is satisfied. I can, and sometimes have, eaten here twice a day.  

Cheddar potato soup, 1/2 a club sandwich, pickle spear (I usually ask for more but forgot), chocolate chip cookie, and of course endless refills of sweet tea!  My usual meal of choice.  Since I'm a "regular", the waiters know my order and have it rung up the minute I walk in the door.
 Now that's service!

I bought a tumble back in 2011, so now I only pay for a refill.  I can down 5 of these in one sitting!  I have a serious addiction.

Kym and Kevin joined me for a Saturday lunch date

After some serious shopping at Wal-Mart and Dick's Sporting Goods to pick up some last minute half marathon fuel, we headed to Spoonz to top off our lunch with a cup of frozen yogurt.

Cable car chocolate, cake batter, and pistachio yogurt topped with Ghirardelli chocolate and caramel sauce.  I usually add fresh fruit and almonds but I went rebel and added mini-chocolate chips and sliced almonds.  Yummy!  

Kevin's first time at Spoonz.  He had a "baby" cup.

Full bellies ready for a nap
(proudly sporting my USMC shirt in honor of my wonderful son-in-law) 

BEAST shirt from Nike was a must have find 

Kym's 1 pound bag of tongue numbing tartness

After we parted ways, we headed to the lake to get our  cottage ready for summer fun.  Lot's of cleaning, planting, and trimming awaits us.  Having fun requires a lot of work.  But it is so worth it.  Can't wait until Memorial Day, the official kick-off of summer.  29 days and counting!

Friday Night Run and Fun

My weekend started off with a long, hilly run through the country with Kevin and Kym, aka, "The Beast." We have a half marathon next weekend and are trying to squeeze in as many quality runs as possible.  The weather was gorgeous and a little on the warm side.  I regret that I didn't take my camera because the scenery changed with every turn.  Instead, I took pictures with my mind.  My favorite was an old red barn with ivy growing up the side.  The hills were undulating and varied in steepness.  We finished just before dark, being followed the last few miles by our shadows elongated on the road ahead of us.  Another run done.  Not fast at all, but done nonetheless. After, we shared a pizza and salad with Kym, watched a little Grimm and Shark Tank, and promptly fell asleep before the ending.  Oh well, that's what HULU is for.

Starting Out
 (the hills start at the end of the street)

Love my Ravenna 4's

After the run (a little over-dressed)

Like I said, not fast, but done!
 Ran 2 min/Walk 1 min intervals

My favorite running companion.
  Ipod Nano, green of course!

Kali with her rawhide
Nala looking fat and sassy

Looking forward to my usual Saturday lunch at McAlister's! Love their sweet tea.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life's Greatest Accomplishments

In life everyone has a list of things they want to accomplish that seem impossible to achieve.  My list is no exception.  Some of these are obtainable while others are not.  A few years ago, Kevin, Brooke and I spent 10 days in Northern California exploring Yosemite National Park and finishing our trip in San Francisco running across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The adventure begins!

Kevin and I before our run across the Golden Gate Bridge
Not quite mid-way

View from San Francisco

View from Sausalito

San Francisco 

This was not our first visit to Yosemite, but it was our first time to hike Half Dome.  Hiking Half Dome is one of those accomplishments that falls just outside the realm of reality.  However, one warm August morning we set out to turn this dream into a reality.  

Half Dome here we come!

Starting out in the dark

First a little background on the lure of Half Dome.  Yosemite's Half Dome rises nearly 5000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8000 feet above sea level.  Half Dome is Yosemite's icon and a great challenge to many hikers.  Much of the hike to the dome is an adventure into the wilderness culminating with rock climbing to the summit.  The hike is about 17 miles round trip gaining an elevation of 3800 feet.  From the shoulder, spectacular views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Half Dome await the hiker.  Once on the summit, panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierras abound.  This hike takes 10-12 hours and if you haven't reached the summit by 3:30 pm then it's time to turn around and try for another day.  Fortunately for us, we started out in the wee hours of the morning when it was darker than the inside of a boot, so we reached the summit before this time.  

Glimpse of Half Dome with El Capitan in the foreground

The hike up to the sub-dome is very rocky and steep.  The trail weaves around several waterfalls which can be extremely treacherous due to mist and spray from the water as it cascades to the valley floor.

Brooke with 317 ft Vernal Falls in background
View looking back down The Mist Trail

Peering over the rail of Vernal Falls

Portion of the rocky, ankle twisting  trail

Once we reached the sub-dome it was time to collect our thoughts and focus on the arduous task ahead of us. The scramble up the sub-dome is time consuming because each step has to be calculated.  It was difficult to use our hiking poles because there wasn't a good place to plant them for leverage. Although this was a short distance it seemed to take an eternity. At last we caught a glimpse of our last part of the journey.  Half Dome with it's famous cables lie ahead of us.  The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without the use of rock climbing equipment.  The ascent up the cables was the most terrifying thing that I have ever done!  We packed heavy gloves to wear to protect our hands from being ripped to shreds by the metal cables.  Once between the cables, you snake up the granite surface of Half Dome.  This was extremely strenuous due to the steep nature of the trail. The park rangers say that this portion is 45 degrees, but going down it appears must steeper.  

Sub-dome trail

Kevin on sub-dome trail

Hikers on Half Dome look like ants marching in unison.  Looks steeper than 45 degrees to me!

Kevin and Brooke somehow got ahead of me on the journey up this gray slab of rock.  I got stuck behind a group of college graduates from Harvard Law School who were totally unprepared for the climb.  One young man directly in front of me was sweating so profusely that his sweat was dripping off his backpack onto me!  Unfortunately I had nowhere to go but up, right behind him unable to avoid his disgusting sweat.  You can't pass because the cables accommodate traffic going up and down all between a space of less than 4 feet.  

Time to turn around? No way!

Getting up enough nerve to start the trek to the summit

Kevin and Brooke waiting their turn

After over an hour clinging to the cables we finally made it to the top!  What a feeling being able to gaze out over Yosemite Valley and witness the beauty of mother nature. We spent about an hour at the summit soaking in all the wonder around us. 

Heart rock from the top of Half Dome (I collect small ones and photograph larger ones)

Yosemite Valley
We made it!

Kevin on the precipice of danger

Brooke and the solitude at the summit

Then reality hit.  We had to hike down the 45 degree incline, this time facing OUT with the valley and surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains before us.

Looking back at our accomplishment

Brooke hiking down the sub-dome

I thought the ascent was terrifying, but the climb down was indescribable.  A few steps into the descent, my water bottle fell out of my backpack and tumbled down toward the valley floor.  I froze as I watched it disappear from sight.  That made me think that just one slip and that could be me.  Kevin went in front of us so that in the event that we slipped, he could be our buffer.  Luckily for us, we didn't need him to be our human shield.  With only 50 feet to go, I felt my body begin to loosen up and relax as I knew we were going to reach the bottom safely.  Once at the bottom, I turned to admire our accomplishment.  But again, I realized that although we made it down Half Dome, we still had another 8 miles to hike to reach the bottom.  The sky was starting to turn a myriad of pinks and oranges which normally would be beautiful, but not when you are on a strenuous trail in the wilderness.  We reached the bottom but darkness had already settled in.  We started out our journey in the dark and ended it in the dark as well.  I felt an unbelievable relief wash over me as we drug our tired and sunburned bodies to our car.  We did it! Hiking Half Dome was a huge achievement one which I was able to share with family.  

Perspective of Half Dome from across the valley

Brooke and I with Half Dome behind
We were fortunate enough to hike Half Dome when we did because now only hikers with permits are allowed to hike this icon.  Only 300 hikers a day are permitted to hike beyond the base of the sub-dome.  These lucky individuals are selected by a lottery system. Although this seems like a small number of hikers, it is one step toward preserving the beauty of Half Dome and Yosemite National Park for future generations.