Race recap: Race for the Birds 10K

I’d heard of this race, which is a fundraiser for the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, ever since I started running several years ago, but we’ve always had other plans on the date. I love the idea of contributing to PVAS in any way – it’s an awesome organization with great nature programs and summer camps for kids that all three of my boys have taken advantage of. I was happy that this year I managed to not be booked and could tackle the 10K as a training run for the upcoming Harpers Ferry Half. I heard the course, which was new this year, was hilly, and I need all the practice I can get for the notorious hills on the Harpers Ferry course!

The setting for the race was Broomgrass, which I believe is some type of farmland community/preserve. Aside from a few houses very spaced out, the course was definitely undeveloped and scenic. The drive was nice, and it was one of the first truly hot days of spring.

The course consisted of a 5K loop that went on the gravel roads of the community, on a single-track dirt path through the woods and on a mowed field. All good practice off-pavement!

The start was pretty level with one minor hill before we dipped into the woods, where it was gorgeous running but impossible to pass. This wasn’t as much an issue on the second lap but during the first I felt a little held back. Much of the rest of the course was manageable excepting two major hills that were so steep I didn’t see anyone else running them, and truth be told it was all I could do to even walk them. Between the heat and the hills I had a much slower time than I wanted but it sets realistic expectations for the half, so that’s good.

From the moment I arrived until I left, this was an extremely organized race – parking went smoothly, and it was easy to get in and out, the course was extremely well marked, and there were plenty of cheering volunteers. Tons of post-race snacks and cold water, too!

It was my first race using the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek running belt, too. I loved having water with me, and I even more loved having my bib pinned to it instead of my shirt! One problem was that it kept twisting sideways on me which made the pockets rub my arms, so I kept having to straighten it – not a huge issue and might be solved by tightening it more.

This was a pretty small race but super well run, challenging and local and for a good cause, so I’m glad I got to be there.

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Conley Cabin – Spring Break 2018

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We’d heard of people renting PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) cabins for years, but it wasn’t until last year, when I was in the throes of planning my first backpacking trip with friends and buying up all the necessary gear, that we decided to finally try it for ourselves. As I was planning my trip we made the decision to join the PATC as well as the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy). My hike was going to be on the Appalachian Trail in Southern Virginia beginning in June. By Easter, I had a water filter, backpack, bear canister and other gear that we were eager to try out. We booked Argow cabin in Shenandoah National Park, and it was one of my favorite things we’ve ever done as a family.

We all agreed this needed to be a tradition, so this year we planned another trip, this time to Conley Cabin in the PATC’s “Vining Tract” of property that contains several cabins and borders the park. The way it works, is that some of the PATC’s cabins are available to the public and some only to members, and if you book less than 60 days in advance they’re half price! This makes a PATC cabin trip super affordable, but to find a place that suits you can be tricky. We decided to go in the middle of the week to have more cabins to choose from – some are modern, some aren’t, some require a hike and some don’t. We wanted a primitive cabin, and the half-mile hike to Conley was ideal for our family of three boys and two labs!

As expected, our trip was another memory maker for our family! It was our puppy Banjo’s first trip with us, and he did GREAT! We loved the hiking available right outside our door – it was a pretty easy climb to Andy’s Overlook and past several of the other cabins. The hike to the nearest running spring at Wineberry Cabin was a tough but beautiful one. As usual, the boys loved helping out with the chores of chopping wood, filtering water, building fires and cooking. A swing on a tree just outside the cabin provided a nice fun break, and the yard was perfect for lots of running and playing and hide and seek.

Conley is perfect for its views, lawn, and pretty short and easy hike in. The spring was a little far, but doable. Only thing we could’ve used was warmer weather – it hasn’t been truly warm YET this spring! But the stoves inside kept us more than toasty at night.

So far we haven’t done another cabin trip outside of these two spring break trips but I want to make it a priority because it is such a nice escape. It always strikes me how peaceful it feels to set technology aside and get busy with the simple work of getting by without electricity and plumbing. I truly love it! And watching the boys play wizards with sticks they found and whittled themselves, play hide and seek and set up a  fort inside a bush … nothing better!

I have to thank my husband because he is great at cutting wood and building fires! We couldn’t have done this without him! I am so thankful to see him teaching these things to our boys, too. I want them to know that there’s nothing they can’t do and they are off to a great start.

 

 

Self doubt

I felt I was off to a roaring start with this blog. There’s so much I want to say and even more I want to do. 2018 is to be my year of adventure, building on the experiences of the past 5 years. I want to backpack more, run more, kayak more, rock climb …

And then I hit “share.”

What followed has been so much doubt. I weigh too much, haven’t done enough, don’t have a dramatic enough back story to write about what I’m doing.

So here’s the takeaway after a few days of pity: never look at anything I do as bragging! Don’t look at me and think you can never live up to me! I have so many weaknesses and probably my biggest is self doubt. But I have proven to myself time and again that I can be in control and do more than I thought possible. Change really can happen — have I said that already?

So I can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for myself, and I instead have to put in the work. Right now that means consistent workouts and Sunday long runs to prepare for the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon in May 19. It isn’t very glamorous. I did get out for seven sunny miles this Sunday, but the rest of the week it’s treadmill time and some Beach Body strength workouts all from the basement, where I can hit pause to open a pack of fruit snacks or wipe a butt. Not much fodder for a nicely packaged social media post.

Over time I have been “following” the social media of more and more running/outdoor brands and figures. I LOVE seeing all the pictures of people skiing and climbing and of deserts and summits and winding trails through forests. I hope as my kids get older, I’ll get to explore it all.

It’s easy to see these beautiful images and feel like a failure, but the cool thing is, when I look back on my own accomplishments I see something that those types of posts can’t reveal: persistence. Day in and day out, I’m hustling wherever I can, bribing my almost-4-year-old to take a stroller ride or sneaking to the basement yet again to do s workout video. These small choices add up. It’s cliche, but brick by brick I am building a foundation that I’ll keep working on — indefinitely. At the end of the day I like to set goals, I like to get outside and I like to inspire my kids that they can do the same. That’s something we can all do.