24 miles (and 2 falls) in 2 days

I knew I was jinxing us with that “trail feet” post. We got through Tuesday’s 12-mile trail run with nothing more than a couple of close calls and some moderately sore muscles. But the next morning, when we wanted to build endurance for the HUFF 50K by tackling another 12 on tired legs, was another story entirely.

This was a recovery run, meaning we could go as slow as we needed to, taking a few walk breaks if desired. Which was fine. But a “relaxed” trail run doesn’t mean your eyes take a break from scanning for roots and rocks. That’s what I did, though, and I went flying – not once, but twice!

I scraped an elbow on the first one, but the second time was the cushiest landing imaginable, thanks to a thick bed of pine needles. (I think I actually felt better coming off that fall than I had before I tripped, but maybe that was just a distance running hallucination.)

The best part is that my achy-jointed sister came out of this two-day workout without being immobilized by pain. We were both a little stiff afterward, but nothing like if we’d been road running.

“If we’d done this on pavement, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep last night, I would’ve been in so much pain,” Traci said.

Not too long ago I doubted whether she would ever do much distance running again. Switching to trails seems to have extended her running career – and greatly enriched my own.

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Exploring the other side of the river

Funny how all these years I’ve been running the River Greenway without paying much attention to the river itself. It would have to be something pretty spectacular, like the time we spotted 10 turtles perched on a pipe, or the day last week when a “leaner” fell into the river during the course of a run, for me to take any special notice.

Next time we'll take something better than my crappy cell phone for taking pictures!

Next time we’ll take something better than my crappy cell phone for taking pictures!

So the other day Colleen and I decided to explore the north side of the Wabash, where there’s a much more challenging mountain bike trail that’s seemingly rarely used. And no wonder! This is a trail that doesn’t just get muddy, but gets absorbed by the river when it overflows. If you hiked it once a month, it would look different every time – and not just because the leaves had changed or plants had grown, but because the terrain itself had shifted in some way.

Trees that elsewhere would seem massive and powerful, pushing up concrete and shattering windshields with discarded limbs, are so obviously little more than the river’s playthings here – bent, twisted and torn into shapes that are both spectacular and creepy.

Is it runnable? I think so. Obstacles seem to be more obvious here, less likely to surprise you. There’s a couple of places where the path is too tilted to get good footing, but they don’t last long. But we’ll likely do some more exploratory hiking before we try it. For one thing, there’s so much interesting stuff to look at, it’s hard to imagine just going by in a blur.

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Bring on the cheat day boundaries (please!)

Can there be such a thing as too much freedom on cheat day? Apparently so. I’m finding that even though I restrict myself to just one day a week when I can eat whatever I like, whenever I like, I don’t really enjoy doing that all day long.

I don’t like having that question always in the back of my mind: Should I eat this? Should I eat that? What should I eat next?

It doesn’t really matter if I do eat this or that or the other thing, for that matter. It’s just one day. There WILL be a weight spike, but it won’t last – not if I’m patient and diligent, which I am. Now. Finally. But I’m really starting to hate that incessant nagging such so-called liberation unleashes in my mind. So, no, I’m not giving up cheat day. Are you nuts? But I’ve pretty much given up that “whenever I feel like it” part. Eating only during meals and designated snack times feels much more satisfying these days.

I can’t believe that’s me talking there, but I really mean that. How weird is that?

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Is there such a thing as ‘trail feet’?

“How do you guys keep from tripping over all those tree roots?” asked a man hiking with his kids as Traci and I ran by them Saturday on Trail 5 at Ouabache State Park.

Good question. Though we jokingly told them they’d probably find us lying on the ground somewhere down trail, covered in mud, we got through our 12-mile run without a fall. Though we used to average at least one spill every 5 miles or so, now we usually manage to skim over roots and rocks with just a brief wobble before regaining our balance.

“I wonder what you call that, when your foot hits a root and just kind of ‘skates’ over it,” I asked. “It’s almost like we’re starting to develop ‘trail feet’ or something.”

One thing that’s helped is that we’ve definitely been lifting our feet more than we do on pavement, especially when we’re going through ankle-high leaves in places. I suppose our ankles our getting stronger; that has to help. It also feels like we’re building a stronger connection between our brains and our feet, just by focusing on them so much. How that works, I can’t begin to say. But it feels real.

Naturally we both felt compelled to qualify my “trail feet” observation with several qualifiers, to avoid jinxing our good luck. We’re going to fall again, probably sooner rather than later. But for now, it’s much more fun to say “Nice recovery!” rather than “Are you OK?”

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A kid’s point of view: Fall break fun!

By Colleen, age 12

Rowan and Emmitt

Rowan and Emmitt

Yesterday I got to meet Emmitt, my big sister Rowan’s new dog. Well, actually she shares him with her college roommates. They babysat for their landlords’ dog and then their landlords said they could get a small dog. He is so cute and also super nice!

On Tuesday I had my first band concert and it was terrifying. I messed up a couple of times on my trombone but Mom said you couldn’t tell.


On Wednesday Ben took me to the River Greenway to run. I ran 2 miles in 28:03. That’s a pretty good time for me but I know I need to push myself harder. Afterward we went to the Y and lifted weights.

Right now I’m on Fall Break. Wednesday night we got to sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s with our cousins. We made an awesome iMovie and played a lot of basketball and dominoes. It was great! Then last night Ben and Cassie and I came to Manchester to spend the night at Rowan’s. I’m so jealous of her because not only does she have a cute new dog but she got to see Neil Degrasse Tyson’s lecture at IPFW this week. In fact she called and woke me up at 10:00 p.m. because it was so cool she wanted to tell me about it, especially since I want to be a scientist when I grow up.

Well, it’s been a hectic week if you couldn’t tell but also very fun!


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I’ve always wanted to see a tree fall in the river…


Wednesday’s run was the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a “leaner” fall into the Wabash. I didn’t actually see this guy fall, but it clearly happened during my run, because when I came back by here after heading out to the gatehouse at Ouabache State Park, there it was.

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Crapload of cashews = 2.4 pound weight loss

I used to think cashews were off limits because they’re so high fat and I could never keep from eating several handfuls once I started in.

Now cashews are my go-to Monday treat food.  I literally ate half a pound of them for lunch this past Monday, followed up by 2 ounces of cheddar cheese. The next morning, I was down 2.4 pounds.

Now, keep in mind that most Mondays these days I’m still coming down from a 4-7 pound weight spike, depending on the outrageousness of my Saturday cheat day. It’s typical for me to drop a pound or two from Monday to Tuesday, so it’s not like that nutty lunch is some big breakthrough.

What DID strike me as significant, though, is that marking Monday as “nut day” – when I literally let myself eat as many cashews or almonds as I want for lunch, with another handful or two for dinner – is becoming a reliable way to both control my appetite/cravings AND make sure I stay on track with erasing a cheat-day gain.

The other reason this works for me: I hate serving sizes. They make good sense nutritionally, but they feel too restrictive in  my opinion. I’d much rather feast on 7-8 ounces of cashews in one day and none the rest of the week than nibble on one puny ounce every day.

It may sound nutty, but it works for me.

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