A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Being brave in Montana

One of my favorite “side effects” of this newer healthier lifestyle is how much braver I get in other aspects of my life, little by little. Like many people, I thought when I lost weight, I’d no longer feel so hesitant or self conscious. It didn’t really magically happen with the weight loss, it turns out. It’s taken a lot more internal work than just the external work of weight loss. Every time I consciously take that step outside of my comfort zone, it’s a little farther and that’s definitely worthy of celebration (plus, it’s a good excuse to share some more Montana pics so you can travel vicariously through me!)

In addition to the hiking I showed you guys pics of on Tuesday, I’ve also been out on the water here for kayaking (which was WAY harder than I expected!).
Water play

My “brave” moment during this was trying stand up paddleboarding, which was way easier and more fun than I expected! Sorry no pics – I was focusing on not falling in and didn’t want my phone to get wet, but trust me it was gorgeous. I have always had this fear of being the “fat girl falling” so trying the stand up paddleboarding felt scary, to say the least since that would have been a big splash of a fall, literally.

Yesterday, I did the grown up zipline with much longer and faster runs.
Long ride

I wasn’t remotely prepared for the “brave” that this one required – a public weigh in before we started to be sure you weren’t too heavy (too heavy = too fast). Yikes! I confess, if I’d known about that before, I might have avoided this excursion and that’s a sad thing to admit to myself.
Zip lining in Big Sky

Looks unreal doesn't it

That background doesn’t even look real, does it?

Fierce focus

Like my fierce focus as I try to catch the brake?

Today’s brave? River rafting for the first time. I didn’t really pack the best clothes for this, so I’m currently in this scientific session wearing sort of revealing tights (because there isn’t much time between the end of the session and the rafting excursion). You don’t want to know how many times I’ve told myself that no one is looking at and judging my butt in these tights. 🙂


The students here with me are disappointed that so far we’ve only seen chipmunks and not anything more exciting. Personally, I’ve used my limits of bravery with these new adventures in activity, clothes and public weigh ins. I’m good without a bear or a moose. 🙂

What’s the bravest thing you’ve done today? Any last minute river rafting advice?


Recovering from those less-than-perfect food days

We’ve all had them, right? Days where we made some food choices that weren’t “on plan” or ideal. It happens to everyone and being able to recover from these days is key if you’re going to be successful maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

I will confess that I haven’t been great about this in the last 6 months or so, which is where most of this extra weight has come from. I’d have a “bad” day where I found myself eating a ton of french fries or cookies or some other less-than-nutritious food and feel like a failure, which then led to days of crappy eating. Does it make sense? No, of course not. Am I the only one who has fallen into that trap? Nope. I’m pretty sure some of you have as well.

I found myself in this position again at the beginning of this trip to Montana. Like I mentioned Monday, we had a really delayed travel day, leading to lots of fatigue and airport food. I actually did reasonably well with my eating all day Sunday until Sunday night, when I found myself back in my hotel room, exhausted and hungry because I hadn’t eaten much dinner. It wasn’t the best – the food here is hit or miss other than breakfast. I got back to my room, ordered room service and proceeded to eat a grilled cheese sandwich with tater tots. Lots of tater tots. They were just salty enough and delicious. Could I have gotten salad if I were hungry? Yes, but that wasn’t what looked good, so I made the less than healthy choice. With my prior work trips this spring, I would have gone to sleep feeling disgusted with myself, woken up Monday morning feeling like a failure and proceeded to eat ALL THE FRENCH FRIES all week. For work travel, apparently french fries are my weakness.

This time around, I didn’t do that. I woke up Monday, did some body weight strength training and then went to breakfast where I made healthy choices.
Recovery breakfast

There were several trays of yummy looking pastries and that part of me that has fallen down the path of “you’ve already eaten crap, might as well keep eating crap” in the past was honestly tempted again. I’m proud of myself for resisting that urge and going with fruit, oatmeal and a hard boiled egg. I’ve had that for breakfast every day this week and every time, I’ve mentally applauded myself. Cheer yourself on when you make even the smallest good choices to get back on track. Positive self talk is crucial for countering that “I’ve already failed” voice.

I’ve made activity a priority because I know that I make healthier choices all day when I’ve exercised throughout the day. Reminding myself what my body can do reminds me that I’ve made huge changes in my lifestyle. I can be healthy. Bonus: when I’m out hiking, I’m not sitting in my hotel room, hiding from the forced socialization of these “networking” conferences while I watch the Food Network and eat. And eat. And eat. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who feeds their social anxiety – now I just try to walk those nerves off instead of smothering them with calories. Still allows me to hide from small talk!

I prepare for the highest risk times. For me, that’s at night when I’m tired from a long day and the vending machine or room service menu beckon. I bought a bag of grapes from the little grocery store here at the resort so I have something sweet waiting for me back in the room at night. Just a handful is enough to take the edge off.
A better choice when craving something sweet

Any time you don’t have complete control of your food, of course you’re going to be a little more at risk for bad choices or weight gain. What we can control, however, is how we feel about our choices. Do the best you can and be kind to yourself. Beating yourself isn’t going to make anything any better. (Can you tell I’ve been doing lots of positive self talk?)

I have to say, I feel really good about this week so far. Sure, Sunday wasn’t great and I’m not eating my normal diet. However, I’m making reasonably good choices and getting in tons of activity, so I’m happy with how I’ve done. I feel like I’m out of the “I’ve slipped, time to binge” danger zone. Knock on wood!

How do you get back on track after you’ve had a slip?


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Scenes from Summer Runs (in Montana!)

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is “scenes from summer runs” and my usual summer run scenery is pretty boring:

Sidewalks in the suburbs

Sidewalks in the suburbs

If things get really wild and crazy, I may go to the park:


Not the most exciting, right? Still, it gets it done and I’m glad I have safe spaces to run near the house. Sidewalks aren’t sexy but I’m safe from traffic and have built in hill workouts.

Today’s run (yep, I ran today!) was a little more scenic:
Where I'm running today

Gorgeous right? I don’t run alone on the trails here in Big Sky because of the risk of bears, but even running on the roads around the resort can be lovely. Yesterday, I went on a hike with a couple of colleagues, which was gorgeous!

Big Sky hike

Beautiful wildflowers (some of which smell fantastic!)

Big Sky hike

Big Sky hikeDuring this afternoon’s break in the meeting, I’m going to try kayaking for the first time in that little pond / lake you can see in the photo above. Wish me luck! Scenery like this makes it a lot easier to be out and active than my usual suburbs.

While I’m loving all of this gorgeous scenery, I’m looking forward to getting back home to my normal “boring” runs in the suburbs later this week. At school yesterday, Oliver drew a “transporter” (complete with energy rays and buttons and a Mom label) to bring him up here to me. I like that kid a lot.
A transporter so he can come join me in Montana

Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting our Tuesdays on the Run link up. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s pics!

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Weekly Wrap Up: False starts

Remember how I was all excited during last week’s wrap up about getting back to running so I could get ready for my marathon training cycle? This week’s wrap up is not going to be like that. Thanks to the crazy heat we’re having in the Midwest, I have a big fat zero for runs this week. Oops. We were under a heat advisory all week and the one time I tried it, I realized immediately it was unsafe for me. That doesn’t mean there was no activity at all last week, though.

My strategy for staying active during a hot week:

  • Good chance to get started with strength training! I did three rounds of strength training, including one with my new weighted bar.
  • Walk the miles you don’t run: When it is too hot to run, I try to still get out to get some miles on my legs with hilly walks and I did that well this week, with several walks, including my 4 miles I’d planned for Saturday’s run.

Other things I could have done but didn’t because of my schedule this week would have been hitting the treadmill, the pool or a class at the gym. The key is to keep moving but stay safe. Heat injury is a serious and deadly possibility when the weather gets this out of hand. No workout is worth that risk. Check out the signs and more info on heat injury here. Heat is tricky for me now with the lupus particularly because I get dizzy so easily anyway (especially during flares like I’ve had lately) so adding to that by going out in the heat seems like a guaranteed way to crash.

This week, I’m in Montana for work so heat is less of a concern. I’m planning lots of hikes and a couple of runs to take advantage of the gorgeous scenery and temperatures. I’ve started off well with strength training already this morning and a hike planned during my afternoon break at my meeting.
Back in Montana - not a bad view during the meeting coffee breaks

My NSV this week is staying off the scale – possibly the most literal NSV ever, right? However, I’ve been working a lot to remind myself that I’ve got to start shifting my thinking about food during the marathon cycle. Despite staying off the scale, I still stayed on track with good food choices for the most part.

I’m grateful for coffee. Thanks to travel delays, we didn’t get to our hotel in Montana until 1 am Sunday and then I spent all day Sunday from 8 am – 9 pm in meetings. Coffee is a lifesaver. The colleague I traveled with is running this meeting and I am amazed she was able to hold it together all day yesterday on 6-ish hours of sleep. My good deed was staying awake in the car Sunday morning as we drove from the airport in Bozeman out to Big Sky. It was a dark and windy road, so an extra pair of eyes to look out for curves, animals and other cars were definitely needed in the wee hours of the morning, not to mention the chatting to help driver stay awake.

weekly wrap up

Not much of a wrap up but I know that this week will be better. Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link up. How do you stay active when the heat gets out of hand?




Building a marathon plan

I’ve mentioned that training starts 8/1 for my very first marathon but I haven’t talked much about what that training plan is going to look like. I’ve never run a marathon before, so this will be new territory, but I have run a bunch of half marathons with a variety of training plans. That experience, plus a TON of reading, are helping me to choose a marathon training plan that will get me safely and sanely through the biggest athletic goal of my life!
What have I done?!

Looking back, for my first 10K and my first half marathon, I used Hal Higdon’s novice training plans for both of those distances. His plans are freely available online (here) and are very straightforward. The novice plans are just steady progressions of distances without speed work, tempo runs or hills. As a beginner at the 10K and half marathon levels, that simplicity made the whole process seem less intimidating and worked to get me across the finish lines is good shape. In subsequent half marathons, I’ve done more aggressive training plans with more specific workouts, but I’ve had time goals for those races. My only marathon goal is to finish with a smile. I think going back to my tried and true basic Hal Higdon plan is going to be least overwhelming way for me to safely get through 26.2 miles. I read a lot about marathons and other training plans and feel comfortable that his progression of miles will get me where I need to be.

The other thing I have to consider is where to fit in the back to back half marathons I signed up for in October. The I-35 challenge will involve me doing a half marathon in Kansas City on Saturday and another half marathon in Des Moines on Sunday. Obviously that’s going to require a different kind of training that a typical marathon plan, right? Conveniently, the Hal Higdon plan includes a “half marathon” halfway through the training cycle, so my plan is to use the Hal Higdon marathon plan from my half marathons in October forward (with a week for rest of course). To get to the back to back half marathons, I’m going to use the Jeff Galloway plan provided by the I-35 challenge. Looking at the first half of the Hal Higdon marathon Novice 1 plan I’ll follow, the long runs actually match up fairly well with the difference that there will be two of them each weekend. I’ll certainly be adequately trained for the back half of the marathon training plan – the trick will be avoiding OVER training! When I did the back to back training for the Star Wars races, I used the approach of slow paces and easy walk breaks. That worked well so I’m not worried about the Galloway plan being too much based on my prior experience.

I’ve got some races plugged in to make the long runs more fun, like the Peak 2 Peak 10 miler in September on a 10 mile run weekend and a half marathon the day of my first 15 miler (planning a two mile warm up), but all of these runs will be taken at easy training paces. My goal is to finish safely, period. One of my favorite quotes about training is that it is better to arrive at the starting line undertrained than overtrained. I just want to get my body used to the distances, especially my cranky lupus-y joints. There’s a lot I need to think about in terms of distance, recovery, nutrition and injury prevention over the next 5 ish months. Worrying about pacing is not something I’ll worry about for now.

I’ve updated my training plan page here and have my workouts set in my Google calendar so my family knows what we’ll be doing. It’ll take some juggling when we get to the really long runs in November and December, both on weekdays and weekends, but we’ll make it work.

Jennifer over at Dashing in Style is working with a running coach and the Hanson’s method for her first marathon and I confess to you guys that I’m definitely following along for some vicarious coaching. 🙂 I’m also reading and re-reading everything I can about marathon training and making the jump from half marathon to marathon. I’m starting to wrap my  mind around the fact that I am really doing this, amazing as it seems!
Waiting for medals!

I got this medal holder from my sister for my birthday and just thinking about having my very first marathon medal hanging here feels like all the motivation I need to get started with this training plan!

How do you choose a training plan? Do you choose different plans for different goals or new distances?


Shifting nutritional goals for marathon training

For the last couple of months, I’ve been tracking and choosing foods based on getting my weight down a bit before marathon training. Now that I’m less than two weeks out from marathon training, it’s time to shift my focus a bit. For such a big new running goal, my focus needs to be on fueling performance rather than weight loss.

I’ll be honest – this is a tough mental shift for me. I’m not happy with where my weight is. I feel like the last two months of diligent tracking, good choices and frankly the “best” vacation eating I’ve ever done, have done zip for my weight which is incredibly frustrating. I’m not sure if it is age, something about the lupus, just a phase or my thyroid has gone out of whack (getting it checked as thyroid dysfunction commonly comes along with lupus) but the whole calorie in-calorie out balance is not working for me this summer. For a control freak who felt like I had a handle on losing weight thanks to my prior success, this is unsettling to say the least. To know I have honestly been eating good foods in good amounts and continue to gain is incredibly frustrating.

Looking on the bright side: This phase of getting my eating in shape again has health benefits beyond the scale, undoubtedly. (Thanks to my fabulous husband for reminding me of that!) It’s also got me aware of the little bites and treats that were sneaking into my day during my winter/spring training earlier this year. While weight loss isn’t my goal in marathon training, avoiding that “reward” mentality of indulging in too many treats when long runs ramp up will go a long way toward minimizing unnecessary weight gain during training.

Marathon training will be an important time to focus on really fueling my athletic endeavors (ha! I’m an athlete!) with my food and honestly, I’ve never really approached food that way consistently. When I was training for the back to back races I did for the Star Wars races, I thought about refueling on the weekend but didn’t really think about my weekday eating as fueling my workouts. Marathons are a whole different beast and the back to back half marathon training in the first half of my training cycle is also a serious undertaking. I need to think about food as fuel every day. I’m actually sort of hopeful that this shift in thinking (if I can get there!) will help with my food perspectives overall, not just during training.

With less than two weeks to go until training, I’ve already started this shift.

  • I switched to a whole grain toast for my usual breakfast instead of my usual light bread (which I’ll be honest – who knows what that really is: low calorie but not a lot of health virtues).
  • I also switched from egg whites to actual eggs.

Minor tweaks

  • My lunches have become more protein and veggie based (mixed bowls of goodies mostly) than the usual deli meat on light bread that I bring.
  • My family dinners (whether they realize it or not) have also shifted a bit to focus on a balance of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins with more of a nutrient than calorie focus. Last night, we had a steak salad with mixed greens, lean grilled steak, grilled bell peppers and feta cheese topped with an A1 vinaigrette modified from this recipe (I used 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, 1/4 cup A1 and a bit of red wine vinegar that I didn’t measure, leaving out the honey because Darrell doesn’t like it and swapping sour cream for greek yogurt to up the protein a bit)

Steak saladThis is seriously the first salad I’ve ever given Darrell for dinner that he raved about and asked to include in the regular rotation!

I’ve also carried on that water habit I established on vacation, where I set a goal of drinking no soda, into my daily life now. Since we’ve gotten home, with the exception of one beer and Diet Coke on Wednesday nights at Village Inn, I’ve been a water and coffee girl. Bonus: more water than coffee! Definitely an improvement for this working mama.

I’m not sure what to do about weighing in. My clothes are honestly all uncomfortable enough now that I’ll definitely be able to tell any changes good or bad with those, so I think I may stay off the scale for a while. That’s a scary thought, but if my focus is truly on good nutrition and good training, I think that might be the best so I don’t a) get depressed and chuck healthy eating all together if I continue this weird period of gaining and/or b) start underfueling my training in an effort to lose weight. A marathon is a big, once in a lifetime goal. It deserves my best effort in all respects.

I am still tracking, because I think that is going to help keep me honest. If I find myself struggling with obsessing over the calories in My Fitness Pal, I’ll switch to tracking on paper instead. I’m also going to start checking my food with the “Diet Quality Score” from Racing Weight just to give myself a little reinforcement that I’m doing the right things.

How do you handle the shift from eating for weight loss to eating for performance? In an ideal world, I suppose that wouldn’t really be much a shift in eating – and for me it really isn’t going to be in terms of actual food – but it is a HUGE shift in mindset for me, it turns out.


Running Jargon: A whole new language?

When I first started running, I spent a lot of time diving into all of the jargon that comes along with runners just so I’d feel like I could keep up with the conversation. Turns out, I really don’t ever use much of that jargon, but knowing some of it helps with reading about running and I do A LOT of reading about running.

Here are some great places to get started to learn the jargon:

Runners World Glossary of Running Terms

Greatist Ultimate Guide to Running Lingo

My favorite for newbies: Runners World A Guide to Common Running Terms

Also, I love running books so check out my books tab to the right or linked here for reviews of a bunch of books to help you figure out what people are talking about.

Most running terminology is pretty self-explanatory. Hill repeats? Just what they sound like. Likewise for speedwork. It took me a while to get the hang of talking about pace (as in how many minutes it takes you run a set distance) rather than MPH like the treadmill reports, but now that is second nature. I confess I still have to go back to my Hanson’s to refresh my memory about aerobic and anaerobic and all of that stuff (great resource for explaining those!). Fartlek is possibly my favorite running word but I rarely use it. Instead I just talk about “pick ups.” Tempo is another favorite, mostly because everyone seems to define tempo pace as something different.

It is helpful to know the abbreviations so “DFL beats DNS” mean something. 🙂 I think the only abbreviation I personally ever use is “PR” although these days it is more in the sense of a distance PR than a time PR. Still counts though! (PR = personal record)

I had a student once offer to be my “rabbit” and I was a little confused by that one. I looked it up (on the Greatist list above) and thankfully she’s not crazy – just fast for short distances and offering to help be a pacer.

I’m excited because I may be running with a friend for her first 5K in Indianapolis this summer – who knows what new running terms I may get to explain to her as she trains, that I may have forgotten about now that I’m an “old” runner.
Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting our link up! So far this morning, I’ve enjoyed seeing some runner slang that I’d never encountered before!
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PS – Since this post didn’t really lend itself to a photo that I could think of, instead check out my big kid with his kindergarten backpack:
Growing up too fast

As his Nana said, if we put anything heavier than pencils in that thing he’ll tip over like a turtle. It’s so big on his little shoulders! My baby is growing up.

And apparently something we should all be reading for a laugh: Runners of North America Sorry I missed book club this month Wendy!


Weekly Wrap-Up: Feeling a little like a runner again

Yes, even though it is seriously hot here in the Midwest (with even more heat coming this week), I’m feeling like running again. That running retreat I attended last week did a lot to get my mind in gear for marathon training apparently. 🙂 Whatever caused this boost in motivation, I’ll take it! I hit my workout goals this week of two weekday runs (training to wake up early is an important first step of any training plan, right?) and a weekend run of a set distance where I actually strapped on the Garmin. Done and done! I even got in some stretching, foam rolling and strength work!

Workouts: We’re just going to highlight the workouts I actually did, since Monday, Wednesday and Friday included stretching and strength work, but no other dedicated workouts per se.

Tuesday I went for a thirty minute run/walk in the morning and another ten minute walk later in the day. It was a Garmin-less run – probably about 2.5 miles – but just the effort of getting myself out of bed is important to re-learn. I need to get my morning routine a little faster!

Thursday Pretty much the same as Tuesday – woke up, went for a little run. This was shorter – about twenty minutes – but I’m glad I didn’t skip it all together even though I was tight on time. Any run is better than no run at all, right?!

Saturday It felt a little silly wearing a Garmin for just three miles, since I know a couple of three mile routes in my neighborhood, but psychologically I wanted that signal to myself that it was time to get a little more serious about training again. My plan for the next few weeks is to have my weekend runs at a set distance: 3 miles this week, 4 miles next week, 5 miles the last weekend of July – all so I’m ready for the start of training 8/1, where my first weekend will include 4 and 6 miles back to back.

Sunday My training and race cycle for the next few months includes first getting me ready for the back-to-back half marathons that make up the I-35 challenge in October and then picking up at the “half marathon” point in the Hal Higdon novice marathon training program to get ready for the Walt Disney World Marathon (less than 6 months away!). The first half of training will thus include back to back runs on Saturdays and Sundays. Given that, I thought with my progressing 3-4-5 mile runs over the next three weekends before training really starts, I’d also sandwich those with 3-4-5 mile walk/runss as well. That plan got a little hijacked this weekend when Darrell woke up Sunday with horrible vertigo. Thus, instead of getting another dedicated 3 miles, I instead got a day with 12,000+ steps and loads of hilly walking as Oliver and I tackled the zoo and the Wildlife Safari park. My legs were tired enough after it was all done to definitely count this as a workout.

Definitely what I neededI’m grateful for the time I got to spend with him too. For the last week or so, I’ve been really lupus flared with worse swelling and stiffness in my hands and arms than I’ve had since my diagnosis, coupled with weird skin stuff and jaw pain and just general lupus yuck. I’ve been trying to figure out what might be triggering it since work isn’t especially stressful and that’s usually my trigger. I think it’s a combo of sun exposure, poor sleep coming out of vacation and a general sense of anxiety and unease about all of the things happening in our world. I just want to wrap my family and my people in a bubble to protect us all, but it’d have to be a really big bubble because it turns out everyone is “my people.” Having those hours with my most important little person, feeling his little hand in mine and knowing that at least for the moment we were safe and together makes me so grateful and so heartbroken for those who can’t say that anymore. My goal this week to write down my gratitude every day and to listen to my kid in the car and at dinner every day without focusing on the thousand other things on my to do list. My hands feel a little better today and I suspect those hours with his little hand in mine are what has helped.

I had lots of good deeds this week, which I think came from a desire to counter all of the bad out there. My favorite was holding a baby so a Mom could go to the bathroom without trying to juggle her three month old while we were at the zoo. I like weeks where I can remember several good deeds – I should make more of those happen!

My NSV is one that wasn’t immediately obvious to me at first, but in hindsight, I’m proud. For the last year or more, I haven’t been able to have ice cream because the lactose intolerance has just gotten too bad. I’ve had a couple of dairy free soft serve things, but nothing that really felt like ice cream. Darrell found this almond milk ice cream when we were checking out a new grocery store Friday night and when we got home, I did the “wrong” thing and just started eating it out of the carton. Always a bad idea with those pints of ice cream because the pint seems small enough to be a serving – totally not true, sadly. Anyway, I happily ate 600 calories of ice cream and it was delicious. It felt like real ice cream. Did I intend to eat all of it? Nope, but did I feel self-disgust and binge-y afterwards? Nope – I just mentally put that stuff on the list with cookies of things I probably shouldn’t keep in the house and moved on with my evening. Big win!

Anybody else make new grocery stores a family outing? We have wild and crazy Friday nights around here!

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link up!

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Pulpit Rock, Norway

A definite highlight of my vacation was the hike up to Pulpit Rock, near Stavanger Norway. I did this as an excursion booked through the cruise itself (because I was alone and Darrell was worried about me getting stranded by myself!) but you could definitely do it independently – and a LOT cheaper – if you like. The travel instructions for doing it on your own are covered nicely here: http://www.coffeecakeandculture.com/hiking-the-pulpit-rock-preikestolen-norway/

Pulpit rock

I enjoyed this so much that I’d do it again . . . and again . . . and again. It was gorgeous! However, it was also very challenging. We received a note with our excursion tickets on the cruise ship telling us that this was strenuous exercise and to be sure to bring water and wear hiking boots. While it is labeled in lots of places as an easy to moderate hike, I’d say that for an inexperienced hiker, this probably falls more on the “hard” side of moderate. I was very glad I’d been walking lots of hills in my hiking boots and doing lots of stairs because they prepared me well for this exertion.

Early views

After riding the bus from the cruise port to the ferry and then the ferry to trail, we were dropped off at a secondary entrance to the trail for Pulpit Rock. Quick tip about the ferry: Restrooms and free WiFi on board. If you’re doing the Disney cruise excursion, be sure to use the restrooms on the ferry as that’s the last chance you’ll get for HOURS! The plus of them dropping off at this site was that it saved a very STEEP section of the trail. The minus was that it bypassed the bathrooms at the other trail head. I was really glad I’d gone to the restroom on the ferry! I had a backpack with me for my lunch (they gave us lunch as part of the excursion), my water and a couple of extra layers including gloves and a fleece – both of which I used. I was glad I had the bag for holding things and the layers.

There were lots of people on the trail, both from my own excursion and other groups, as well as locals with their children and even some dogs! The beginning didn’t seem so bad – some little climbs, but mostly smooth-ish paths or wooden trails.

Smoother paths

About 30 minutes into the hike, we started hitting what I call the “mountain goat” section of the climb. I’d put on my gloves pretty quickly in the course of the hike because it was chilly and rainy (and with the lupus, if my hands get cold they’re pretty much shot). That turned out to be really handy as I used my hands to help me scramble up the wet and rocky path. There were lots of places where you were stepping from rock to rock, sometimes with several feet in elevation distance between the rocks. My hands helped keep me from falling many times, especially given how wet it all was. Definitely be careful on this section if you have any qualms about your legs, your knees or your balance.

CrowdedEspecially at the beginning, things got crowded. It did eventually

space out (after the boulder climb)

It was absolutely beautiful though and there were several places to stop for the views and photos (and to catch your breath!).

Glimpses of the fjord

Apparently sherpas from Nepal came through to smooth the trail in the last few years, so a lot of the trail is assembled from rocks in the area. It’s beautiful that way, but uneven. I was grateful for the added stability of my hiking boots instead of sneakers or hiking shoes.

Steep sections

The middle stretch was the most challenging for me, with the steep boulder-y trail (sorry no pics – too busy trying not to fall!). The upper third smoothed out a bit in terms of terrain and included lots of wider spots to pause and look at the lakes and early glimpses of the fjord. The upper third also got chillier, especially as we came around to the peak side and the temperature started dropping. Tip: Wear layers if you can because there’s big temperature difference as you move along the trail.

Nearing the top


As you get close to the top, there are many areas of the trail that are narrow enough you have to take turns coming and going but for the most part, people were polite about letting groups pass up or down in turn. I enjoyed the exertion and scenery enough that I told myself it didn’t matter if the top was disappointing once I finally got there, but I’ve got to say – it was breathtaking and definitely did NOT disappoint.

Near the top

It was also incredibly cold and windy, with sleet, but thankfully that just felt like a Nebraska winter so I was okay with that. I took some pictures, leaned a teeny bit over the edge to feel brave and dizzy and hung my feet over a bit. Then it was time to back up, put on my fleece, and eat my lunch with this amazing view. I confess I didn’t drink much water even though I’d been hiking up for a couple of hours because I knew I was a couple of hours back DOWN the trail before I’d find a bathroom.

Pulpit rock and sleet

Obligatory selfieObligatory “I did it!” selfie

Leaning over the edgeLeaning out over the edge a bit!

I was nervous about going down those slippery bouldery stretches, but I made it back down the trail without major catastrophe. I slipped a few times, but never anything that resulted in more than plopping to my bottom on a boulder and I never worried about getting lost until I got very near the bottom where the trail markers stopped.

Trail marker

For most of the trail, these handy red markings showed up any time I thought “This cannot possibly be the right path!”

It took me about an hour and 45 minutes to go up and about an hour and 15 minutes to come down, with about 4 miles round trip according to most sources I’ve seen. The whole way – both up and down – includes lots of places of climbing and descending, so you do more climbing than the cumulative rise would suggest.

At the base of the trail, there’s a hostel with a little restaurant (much appreciated coffee!), restrooms, a gift shop and of course, Wifi. I hung out there to warm up and drink up. All in all, totally worth the effort but I appreciated the groundwork I’d laid in the month prior to the trip. I think the stairs and strength work outs were especially helpful in getting my legs in good enough shape that I felt fine after the climb. We did another climb the next day along a waterfall and I had no pain whatsoever, so the prep work paid off.


I did realize along this path that hiking like this requires lots of leg work similar to lunges (which I hate as strength training) and lots of side to side motions that running doesn’t necessarily use, which might make this particularly good cross training for a runner. I’m going to look around for more hiking here in Omaha, although I know there’s nothing like this around here! However, I’ll definitely head out hiking when I go to Big Sky in a couple of weeks.

Do you get to do a lot of hiking in your area? What are some of the hiking “rules of the road”? People seemed to be really nice about passing for the most part – other than the occasional overzealous teenager rushing the line – and not to mind when I squashed their foot catching myself after a slip, so I think hikers must be a pretty forgiving group.


Revamping my playlists for a new training cycle

I hauled myself out in the heat and humidity to run this morning, trying to get myself back into the habit of early morning workouts. With new training starting, that is going to be the toughest of my running life so far, motivation is something I will need in abundance! Music can be a big help in that regard, so I’m looking forward to checking out everyone’s posts in today’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up about running playlists. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting.

ToTR logo

With new training cycles, I tend to add a couple of new songs to my running list rather than adopt a whole new playlist. I like to keep my old favorites, both because I still like those songs and they have a good running beat. More importantly though, I have lots of memories of prior good runs associated with those songs. Thankfully the good runs stick in my brain more strongly than bad runs! Some of my standbys include a lot of Pink, some Eminem, lots of AC/DC and scattered Disney songs. I add more Disney songs to the rotation for Disney races because it reminds me of where I’ll be going. Anything for a boost!

This summer, I’ve added a couple of new songs from recommendations on various running groups, like the new Justin Timberlake song Can’t Stop the Feeling, a song called Whistle While You Work It (Katy Tiz) and Demi Lovato’s Confident. Of course, I’ve also got some Hamilton in the mix too since that’s been the soundtrack of a lot of my summer.


Hopefully after reading all of the posts in today’s link up, I’ll get more songs since I need to expand my playlists for the MANY hours of marathon training ahead of me. I mix up running with music with running with podcasts and audiobooks, but a good song is a must for when runs get tough and motivation flags.

What’s your go-to pump it up song, for running or just for life?