Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tips for Winter Camping with Kids

For Thanksgiving we headed south to the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest to camp and hike.  This was our first experience winter camping with the kids.  With snow on the ground and temps below freezing, we bundled up and hunkered down for the night.  Here are some tips for making winter camping more pleasant:

winter camping with the kids
Winter camping with the kids

Have the right gear.  A 4 season tent and sleeping bags rated for less than 30 are key for keeping everyone warm at night.

Sleep with hats, gloves and socks.

Let kids put on comfy (clean) clothes to sleep in.  Unless the kiddos have favorite footed pjs, consider letting them sleep in clothes.  It is more pleasant to be dressed for the day when they wake up instead of having to change out of pjs into clothes when it's freezing cold in the morning.

Go super lux - buy a heater for the tent.  Our (only) neighbors during the last camping trip introduced us to a heater you can hook up to a propane tank to keep you toasty in your tent...

mr. heater big buddy
Portable indoor safe propane heater for camping - Kovas will try this out on his next camping trip.

Plan on one night and close to home for a first run at winter camping.

Pack plenty of easy snacks and meals - or consider a warm restaurant for a treat. :)


Have you tried winter camping?  
Any other tips?


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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Midweek Motivation - Endurance

endurance buddha
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures
      that the final victory comes."
                --The Buddha


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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Camping and Hiking at the Garden of the Gods

Camping and hiking at the Garden of the Gods

Last week we headed south to Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest.  With it being about 6 hours away, we left after breakfast and arrived with plenty of time to set up camp and take a short hike on the Observation Trail.  A perfect intro to the beautiful sandstone rock formations, the Observation Trail is a 1/4-mile interpretive flagstone loop with panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness.

Garden of the Gods, Observation Trail
Garden of the Gods Observation Trail, Shawnee National Forest

After eating a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we all bundled up and hunkered down to read in the tent.  This was our first time winter camping with the kids.  Waking up to a chilly 28 degrees, when pancakes in town were offered for breakfast, we all jumped in the car.  With our bodies warm and bellies full, we drove back to the Garden of the Gods for longer hike.  We started at the "backpackers' lot" and took a 2 hour loop through gorgeous hilly forest and incredible views of the bluffs.   After a hotdog and s'more lunch, we packed up and headed home.  Great first time hiking at the Garden of the Gods and winter camping with the kids!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Training - Winter Layering Guide

We have quickly gone from moderate fall weather to blustery cold.  Here's a great guide to help dress appropriately for the weather to keep you running throughout the winter...

The Runner's Soul Winter Layering Guide

What's your must-have winter running item?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Training

picnic at the park
Enjoying a picnic lunch at the park at the end of my run...

Since the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon back in September, I've been running for fun -- usually stopping at parks and having picnics along the way.  This is also my time to destress and think.  My goal is 2-3 easy runs per week -  until I choose a spring race to start training for...

seven days without exercise
Seven days without exercise makes one weak --and a little crazy :)



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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The North Face Endurance Challenge, Wisconsin Marathon

As a goal turning 40 last year, I wanted to finish my first marathon.  With things getting crazy at work and home, it didn't happen.  But a couple weeks ago, at a day shy of 41, I completed the North Face Endurance Challenge, WI marathon!

TNFECSWI Marathon 2014
The 2014 North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon, WI

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series is a great family experience.  We participated in the series 2 years ago and once again made a camping weekend of it.  Everyone except for Little A ran a race.  I was first up on Saturday with my marathon starting at 9.  The morning was crisp and sunny - perfect for running.  The course wound up and down through Kettle Morraine forest and some prairie.  I felt great through mile 18, but then my knees began to hurt.  Afraid of injury I finished with a run walk, taking it easy down the hills.  Best part was seeing my family at every aid station and road crossing.  Munchkin ran the kids' mile run the same afternoon, and the following morning Kovas, Tazer and Gaigai lined up for the 5k - Gaigai and Kovas finished together.  That evening we celebrated my birthday with a campfire and smores.  The North Face put on a well run event and one couldn't ask for a more beautiful setting for running and camping - amazing family weekend!



Video produced by Duck Tape Sports

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Midweek Motivation - Happy Folks


Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. ~Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Training - Post First Marathon



I am proud and relieved to have finished my first marathon.  Just 2 weeks prior to it, I was contemplating backing out and/or dropping down to a shorter distance because I did not feel prepared, but on the advice of a well-seasoned marathoner, I decided to stick to the original plan.

I have not run since and am enjoying the short break from runs.  My plan is to start again this week...

Here are some post marathon tips from Cleveland Clinic:

Don't plan on running during the week after the race. Walking, swimming, or cycling at an easy pace will work well.

When you resume running, start easy — 30 minutes three to four times per week — and increase gradually from there. Most experts will tell you to avoid speed work for a month after a marathon.

Start planning for your next marathon. Review your training; determine what worked well and what presented a problem. Adjust your training schedule accordingly. Experience is the best teacher.

Do not restart your strength training program for 2 weeks following the event.

Allow your body to recover. An extreme athletic event like a marathon is incredibly stressful on the body. The body needs the rest; otherwise, problems such as injuries, fatigue, decreases in performance, and immune suppression can result.

Tips from Cleveland Clinic

Any other post marathon tips?

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Funny - Inconceivable

Inconceivable - Princess Bride
Inconceivable...
This one always makes me laugh...from The Princess Bride - cute movie for the whole family.

Happy Friday!
Any fun plans for the weekend?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Final Marathon Preparation

I'm both nervous and excited for my first marathon -- tomorrow!  In preparation for any marathon, here are some final tips...



Set two goals. Review your training and set one goal for a good race day, and another as a backup plan in case it's hot or windy or you're just not feeling great.

See success. On several nights before going to bed, or first thing in the morning, visualize yourself crossing the finish line as the clock shows a new personal best.

Chill out. Reduce the outside stresses in your life as much as possible the last week.

Carbo-load, don't fat-load. During the last three days, concentrate on eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and fruit juice, low-fat milk and yogurt, low-fat treats, and sports drinks. It's the carbs, after all, not fat or protein, that will fuel you on race day.

The day prior to the race:

Lay out the clothing that you will wear. Do not wear a new outfit for the race.

Don't wear new shoes in the marathon.

Be prepared for anything. Fill a gym bag with the essentials: a dry shirt, an extra pair of socks, tissue (you never know when the portable toilet supply will run out), extra shoelaces, gloves, hat, lubricant, extra safety pins, blister care products, and whatever else you choose not to live without. 

Make sure you have picked up your race number. Don't spend hours on your feet at the race expo. If possible, pick up your number early.

Don't eat too late at night and make sure you are well-hydrated.

Plan when you will leave, how you will get to the race, and where you will park. You don't want to get lost prior to the race.

If you did not tolerate the electrolyte drink that will be used during the race when you were training, plan on another source of calories, such as gel packets or gummy bears.

Carry a water bottle filled with your favorite replacement drink. Friends along the course might be able to restock your supply.

Be sure to have tried your fluid and gel supplements prior to the event day. Even small variations in sugar concentration can cause stomach upset during an event.

Review the map of the course: know the locations of water stops, aid stations, and portable toilets.


Race day

Get up early. Plan on arriving at the start at least an hour before the race. You do not want to feel pressured for time before the race.

Take in some calories two to three hours before the start. Whatever worked prior to your long training runs is a good idea. Make sure that you are drinking water, too.

While getting dressed, lubricate any areas in which chafing has been a problem. If blisters or hot spots have been a problem, treat the site prophylactically (using moleskin, or whatever worked during training).

Don't forget to pin on your number.

Arrive at the start expecting to find a line at the portable toilets. Since you have time to spare, there will be no need to panic.

Don't worry about a warm-up run. Walking from the car will loosen you up a little. You might want to do some easy stretching (if you are used to this).

Just before heading to the starting line, take off your sweats and check your gym bag. Now head to the start and situate yourself in an appropriate spot in the pack. Don't worry about starting too slowly. It will give you a chance to warm up your muscles and save you from the agony of starting out too fast.

You have worked hard to get here. Enjoy the adventure ahead.


During the race:

Drink at every water station. Do not wait until you are thirsty — that is too late.

Start slowly; a fast start usually spells disaster. You can start running faster later in the race.

Go with what you know. Stick to your plan and what you've practiced during training.

Relax.

Think laps, not miles.

Go hard late. No matter how much you're raring to go, keep things under control until well past the halfway mark. Then you can start racing.

Talk to yourself. Repeat your mantra.

Finish with a smile on your face.  Someone might be taking your picture.

After the race:

No matter what the results are, be proud of yourself.

Drink. Even though you drank during the race, you will still be a little dehydrated.

Replenish carbohydrates. There is a 2-hour window following a hard effort during which absorption of carbohydrates may be enhanced. If you can't eat them, then drink them. A little protein mixed in improves recovery. Do not choose anything extremely high in sugar or fat, it will cause stomach upset.

Keep moving. Do lower intensity cardiovascular movements, such as walking, for 60 minutes after the race. This will diminish a lot of the post-race stiffness. Stretch gently.

Put ice on anything that is sore. Apply ice for 15 minutes several times over the course of the day.

Don't plan on running during the week after the race. Walking, swimming, or cycling at an easy pace will work well.

When you resume running, start easy — 30 minutes three to four times per week — and increase gradually from there. Most experts will tell you to avoid speed work for a month after a marathon.

Start planning for your next marathon. Review your training; determine what worked well and what presented a problem. Adjust your training schedule accordingly. Experience is the best teacher.

Allow your body to recover. An extreme athletic event like a marathon is incredibly stressful on the body. The body needs the rest; otherwise, problems such as injuries, fatigue, decreases in performance, and immune suppression can result.

tips from Runner's World and Cleveland Clinic


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The North Face Endurance Challenge - Wisconsin


tnfec
The North Face Endurance Challenge

If you're looking for something to do this weekend - check out the North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison, WI!  They have everything from kids races to ultras.  Super well run, beautiful location and with promo code D30LPWI (all caps), you receive 15% any distance.

Looking to do some trail racing this weekend?  

Check out 

the North Face Endurance Challenge  -  Madison, WI 

use D30LPWI (all caps) for 15% off any distance


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Little A
Little A after his first day of preschool

Little A was excited to go to preschool today -- I'm so happy, this is a big change from last year!  Goes to show that each child develops on their own schedule.  With him being the youngest of four and last for us, I was in no hurry to put him in a true structured preschool.  Glad we didn't push it...it's so difficult when the teachers have to pry a child away from you:(

Endurance - Virgil
Trying to build up my mental endurance...

I was contemplating dropping down from marathon to the half or relay for next weekend.  Luckily someone with a lot of marathon experience advised me to get at least a 16 mile run in before the weekend and that should suffice.  I've been running pretty consistently, just not getting in my really long distances (in other words - no 20, 18 or 16s).  Yesterday I made it my goal to run 16 and I did.  Part of it I ran with Little A and stopped briefly at parks along our route which made it much more fun and pleasant.  So I'm feeling a bit more confident - plus I'm hoping the beautiful scenery will help make the miles go by easier!

tnfec
The North Face Endurance Challenge

If you're looking for something to do next weekend - check out the North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison, WI!  They have everything from kids races to ultras.  Super well run, beautiful location and with promo code D30LPWI (all caps), you receive 15% any distance.

Looking for something to do next weekend?  

Check out 

the North Face Endurance Challenge  -  Madison, WI 

use D30LPWI (all caps) for 15% off any distance


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Midweek Motivation - Endurance

Come what may, bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.
~Virgil

In other words - suck it up buttercup! :)


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Friday, August 29, 2014

Banilla Ice

banilla ice
"Banilla Ice"
Our kids go through banana eating phases - sometimes they eat a banana a day, other times they go for days without eating one.  So when they're eating a lot, I buy a lot - but if they don't eat them and the bananas start turning brown - what to do?  Peel them and stick them in the freezer.  A couple nights ago, Gaigai made "banilla ice" with some frozen bananas.  Super simple and delicious -- and healthier than store bought ice-cream.  Here's how:

Process:

6 frozen bananas

Add:

1 tsp vanilla
touch of salt

Continue to puree, if too thick, add
splash of almond milk

Drizzle with chocolate an enjoy!  You can also add some cocoa powder to make chocolate banilla ice.

Sorry if you have the "Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby!" song in your head....


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Training - Week 15 of Training for the North Face Endurance Challenge

Three weeks until the North Face Endurance Challenge - Madison, WI!!

Tuesday - planned 8, actual 8 - pleasant evening run
Friday - planned 6, actual 6
Sunday - planned 20, actual 10.5 - heat and humidity were too much; I ran my first 10.5 in the morning, then Tazer and I were going to go to a forest preserve in the evening to finish up the 9.5, but it never cooled off enough...

Lots going on here - some good, some bad - either way getting in the way of my training.

Still looking for a fall marathon?  

Check out 

the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon -  Madison, WI 

(use D30LPWI (all caps) for 15% off any distance)


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hot and Humid Hydration

Ultimate Direction handheld hydration
Ultimate Direction handheld hydration

Here's some more detailed info from Active.com about hydrating in the heat and humidity.  It's crucial to be well hydrated but not to over hydrate which can cause hyponatremia...

Many runners remember to rehydrate after their run and some consume water or sports drink during the run, but it's even more important to be well-hydrated before you run. 

As a rule of thumb, drinking 16 oz. of water two hours before your run will ensure good hydration levels and give the water time to pass through your system so you don't have to make any pit stops during your run.

Hydration during your run depends on the temperature and the length of your run. If you're running 4 miles or less, you probably won't need to carry any water with you. If you're running longer than 4 miles you may need to wear a hydration belt or stash some water/sports drink along your route, especially if it's hot and humid.

Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink. If you're thirsty, that means you're already low on fluids. Also, as you age, your thirst mechanism isn't as efficient and your body may in the early stages of dehydration and you may not even feel thirsty.

For the first 45 to 60 minutes, water is fine. After 60 minutes, you'll need to start using a sports drink or supplementing with a sports gel or a salty food such as pretzels. After 60 minutes (and sometimes sooner if it's really hot and you sweat a lot), you begin to deplete vital electrolytes (i.e., sodium, potassium, etc.). Sodium is needed in order for your body to absorb the fluids you're ingesting. Ever get that sloshing feeling late in a run? That's probably because your body is low on sodium and not able to absorb the fluids you're drinking, so it just sits in your stomach and sloshes around not doing you any good. Depleted potassium levels can increase your chances of experiencing muscle cramps.

After your run, you need to replace the water you've lost. A good way to check this is to weigh before your run and then weigh after your run. Drink 16 oz. of water for every pound lost. After you do the weigh-in a few times, you'll get a feel for how much rehydration you need depending on how much you sweat on your run.

On a hot long run, pack an extra bottle of water. Don't drink this one. Instead, during the run periodically pour a little of the water on your head. This actually helps increase the evaporation-cooling effect.

What is your summer hydration strategy?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Family Fun at Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL

6 flags great america, gurnee, IL
Whirligig at Six Flags Great America

Last week I took the 4 kiddos to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL.  With over 100 rides and attractions and free "Read to Succeed" passes for the kiddos (and for me for coordinating the program at their school) - we had to go!  Before heading out we checked the map of the rides and wrote down our favorites.  At ages 4, 7, 11 and 13, you can guess there weren't many similarities among the lists.  Here's what was on their lists:

Little A (age 4):  Carousel and Scenic Railway
Munchkin (age 7):  Little Dipper, Roaring Rapids, water park
Gaigai (age 11):  water park
Tazer (age 13):  any roller coaster, water park

We managed to go on all the chosen rides and some extras, except we opted out of Roaring Rapids because we planned to finish up in the water park.  Tazer said he would go on any or all the roller coasters but did not want to wait in any lines longer than an hour.  The Great American Eagle and Little Dipper were the only ones that fit the bill, and he was fine with that - the latest and greatest ride, Goliath had over a 2 1/2 hour wait!  Tazer and Munchkin had fun riding the Eagle together while the rest of us flew in planes and apples right adjacent to them.  

After the rides we headed to Hurricane Harbor ($5/person) and hung out there until it closed at 6.  We then packed up and called it a day.  Just as we left the park, we spotted a Rosati's and stopped for a quick bite (which took a bit longer than we wanted - next year we'll order before we're on our way).

All in all a great day!  We worked on our patience waiting in lines, choosing and agreeing on what rides we went on and overall having a fun day.

Hurricane Harbor
Hurricane Harbor at SixFlags Great America

Tips for family fun and savings at 6 Flags:

Have your children participate in "Read to Succeed" to receive free admission, or check online for deals.

Pack a lunch.  Bring water bottles - one each is allowed into the park.  Don't try to bring food into the park - they'll confiscate it at the entrance.

Bring bathing suits and towels to cool off at Hurricane Harbor.

What are your favorite amusement park rides?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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