A “Favorites” Spot

I love The Sound of Music.

It’s one of those rare movies I’ve watched more than a couple of times and never seem to get tired of. In the spirit of one of its songs, here’s a few of my favorite things from the past week (or so).

As you go through them, you’ve got to sing along to the tune. It’s required. :)

“Brown dogs and bulldogs and warm spring-time sunsets…




…ice cream and seed trays and cute calves I’ve just met…




…family and friends and a door bell that dings. These are a few of my favorite things.”

{My parent’s; not taken in the last week. Though I was there Friday!}

It was a warm week for April in Minnesota, and much of our snow is melted away. My running went really well. Until it didn’t.

I had a little ache in my right shin early in the week, but I dismissed it without much thought. Sore is normal during the thick of marathon training, but Thursday morning it really hurt. I ran slow – extremely slow – and by the time I got home it was throbbing. I’ve been icing, stretching, and wearing compression sleeves daily since then.

I took Friday off, and Saturday I decided I would cut my run short if I felt the pain was altering my stride. I’d originally wanted to run 20 miles, but I settled for 14.5. I felt decent for the first 12 and rough for the rest, so at least I know I should be able to tough through the Earth Day half marathon next weekend. Actually, I’m sure it will be better for racing the half that I didn’t run a full 20.

And, I still have the confidence of the great 20 I ran two weeks ago.

In the meantime, I’ll keep assessing my leg day by day. This week will be easy anyway because of my Saturday race, and I’m hoping this turns out to be a small thing my nerves are blowing out of proportion.

If it’s more than that, I’ll deal with it as it comes. I’m still really excited for my first race in nearly 8 MONTHS.

I had a big week in spite of cutting Saturday short. If I counted Sunday – Saturday miles, I’d be at 47. I count Monday – Sunday though, and here are the details.

Marathon Training April 7-13

Monday – 6.2 miles in 60:00, easy with a few pickups, HR 147
Tuesday – off
Wednesday – 9.08 miles in 1:21:59 with 3 x 1.5 miles at 8:30 pace
Thursday – 6.13 miles in 62:24, very easy, HR 135
Friday – off
Saturday – 14.5 miles in 2:24:30, easy
Sunday – off

Total – 35.9 miles

Posted in Running, Spot of the Week | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Running for More

Seeing someone you love have their life transformed by a disease or disability can change everything.

Cancer, heart disease, HIV, paralysis…

I could list hundreds of conditions, and I know each would strike a chord in at least one reader’s heart. Cone-Rod Dystrophy is probably something you’ve never heard of. It didn’t mean anything to me until recently when my mom was finally diagnosed with it.

Back in the day: Mom and me

Over the past few years, she’s undergone test after test as her vision blurred, colors faded, and she couldn’t even read a book anymore. This rare condition is causing the deterioration, and while she probably won’t lose her sight completely, there are no real treatments and little hope of improvement.

Resources like specialized glasses and magnifying tools are helping her get back a semblance of normal, but I know it’s hard. My kind and positive mother rarely lets on that’s it hard, but I know better. You don’t lose most of your sight without emotions of fear and frustration.

Last Easter

I’m running the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon next month, as you know, and I’d been pondering something to dedicate the effort too. Training for the sake of the journey and the goal is definitely worth it, but I couldn’t shake the thought that this one needed something more.

I started researching charities that help the blind or do research on eye conditions. I found more organizations than I could have imagined, but a few really stood out to me. So I talked it over with my mom and narrowed it down to one.

Helen Keller International (HKI)

HKI works with the poor throughout Africa and Asia to combat preventable blindness, provide treatment, and help with good nutrition. They’re also reaching children here in America with free screenings and eyeglasses to help kids who’s families would otherwise struggle to afford them.

HKI has an excellent A+ charity rating, and as I read more about what they do it is fully evident they use resources wisely. They don’t have a formal charity running or athletic event program, but that doesn’t make me any less motivated to help support them.

For my own part, I’m making a donation in honor of my mom for this race.

For your part, I’m asking you to think about whether this cause is close to your heart, too?

Maybe you know someone who’s blind or struggling as they lose their sight, and you’d like to make a donation in their honor? Maybe you’d like to give a small gift just because? It’s easy to donate online, anonyymously if you like, or you can even mail in a donation.

{If you wish to make a donation in honor of my mom for this marathon, you can note Marathon for Mom under the section where it asks for “Tribute Information” or “How did you hear about HKI.” You can also list my mom’s name if you know her. They will track donations for me with this information.}

Helen Keller International – Online Donation

Helen Keller International – Mailing Address for Donation

Donate via PayPal by directing your gift to info@hki.org

I also need to say thanks to all of you for your encouragement and positive comments during my training these last few months. Sometimes it’s been hard to get out in the cold (or step onto the treadmill yet another morning), but having this community of support really blesses me. God knew what He was doing when He put it in my head to start a blog! I appreciate your comments via the blog, twitter, facebook, and email. Whether I know you in person or only online, I value you as a reader and friend. Thank you.

Posted in Family Fun, Running | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

A Spot for an Idea

Since the beginning of training this winter, I’ve been thinking about a cause to dedicate my marathon to. It’s a small race with no need to sign up with a charity to gain entry, and I never envisioned fundraising on a huge scale.


I don’t even like asking people for money. You never know which families are already pinching pennies, and I don’t want to add to that stress. I also really want to run this marathon. I enjoy the journey and the training. Why should people donate money for me to do something I want to do anyway?

{I’ll stop there because I don’t want to talk you out of it. :-) }

I will just say that in the last week I’ve found an idea and a cause that’s squelched my reservations. It has gotten me even more energized to run, and I hope it will resonate with you too.

It’s late and I want to do justice to the details, so please look for a new post early this week on what I’ll be running for! Now I should be doing as this lady does and getting some Zzz’s…


But I’ll share the week’s training first. I kept it mellow after the numbers last week, and hopefully I’ll be ready for another big week starting tomorrow.

Marathon Training March 31 – April 6

Monday – off
Tuesday – 3.15 miles easy-ish fartlek in 30:00
Wednesday – 5.13 miles easy in 47:57
Thursday – off
Friday – 5.25 miles in 47:11 with 4 x 800m @ 7:54, 3 x 400m @ 7:42
Saturday – off
Sunday – 11 miles easy, not timed

Total – 24.5 miles

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A Spot of Spring

With April just around the corner, it’s inevitable that snow is melting and and spring is slowly coming. Yes, I know spring officially arrived on March 20th, but that doesn’t always mean much in Minnesota!

We got fresh snow on Thursday, and now it’s already so stark and brown again amid the leftover grey piles of snow. Somehow it’s pretty in the plainness. I haven’t shared an ordinary look around lately, so I’ve decided to give you a peek at the last week.






This last one is just me celebrating the first outdoor run I’ve done in shorts all year!

Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better training week. I eased in to my runs with some shorter efforts, had a nice speed session on Thursday, and felt good enough Saturday to tackle 20 miles. The pulled muscles that were painful last week now just feel like a very mild side ache. I’m hoping the ache will fully go away soon, but right now it’s totally manageable. I also couldn’t believe how relaxed I stayed over 20 miles, keeping my heart rate around 150 for the run. I ran everything outside this week except the 7 miles on Thursday, and my legs feel better and my heart just doesn’t have to work as hard when I’m running outdoors.

Here are the details…

Marathon Training March 24-30

Monday – 3.5 miles in 32:20, easy in light snow outdoors
Tuesday – 4.26 miles in 39:59 easy
Wednesday – off
Thursday – 7.38 miles in 1:07:00 with 3 miles @ 8:25, 3x400m @ 7:54, HR 170
Friday – off
Saturday – 20.1 miles in 3:08:38 moderate pace with last 2 miles @ 8:50, 8:33, HR 152
Sunday – 5.53 miles in 54:15, very easy recovery run

Total – 40.8 miles

Posted in Boo the bulldog, Calvin, Running, Spot of the Week | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Behind the Scenes with Henrietta

It’s been a long , cold winter across Minnesota, but Etta (the blog cow of Cow Spots and Tales) has just kept working hard doing what she does best.

Being a dairy cow!

I caught up with her at the feed bunk yesterday as she was having lunch with her red-headed friend. She let me snap a photo, and she was even kind enough to answer a few questions.


Q: So, how has the winter been treating you this year?

Etta: It’s been long but pretty good from my perspective. I’m glad I’m an indoor cow that lives in a barn because there were some really cold nights for sure! In some ways winter is nice because all the flies and bugs are dead so they can’t bother us. I never get too hot in the winter, and the sun still shines through the curtains on nice days. I am looking forward to all the curtains and doors being opened up for the summer though.

The other bad thing about winter is that sometimes if it’s snowing and the weather is really bad it takes longer for fresh feed to get to my pen in the morning. I try to be patient though, because I always know it will be coming. Usually I can hear you guys pushing the snow away for the tractor and feed wagon to get through, and then I know feed is close behind.

Q: It sounds like you have a good attitude about the seasons, Etta! Speaking of seasons, I hear you’re expecting a baby this summer. Is that right?

Etta: Yes, that’s right. I’m due on August 8 with my second calf. I don’t know whether it’s a bull or heifer; I’m looking forward to being surprised. Most of the cows around here have a baby about once a year, so I’m glad to stay on schedule.

Q: Does that mean you’ll get some vacation time during the hot days of July?

Etta: I sure will. All cows “dry up,” or quit giving milk for 1-2 months prior to having another calf. At this farm the normal dry period is 45 days, so in late June I will quit giving milk and spend my days just eating and resting until baby arrives.

Q: How has this lactation (your first period of producing milk) been going?

Etta: I feel I’m doing really well. So far, I’ve given 16,180 pounds of milk (about 2,000 gallons) this lactation. The barn computer keeps track of that number so I don’t have to remember it.

Every month, someone comes out from the Dairy Herd Improvement Association to monitor and test all of our milk. On his last test day, I gave 70 pounds of milk (just under 9 gallons), and my milk had 4.2% fat and 3.0% protein. I also had a low somatic cell count, which is a measure of udder health.

Things are going really well if I do say so myself!

Q: That’s great. It sounds like your milk production is in line with the other first-lactation cows.

Etta: Yes, I think so. The older cows give a little more on average, but I’m not worried about that. After my next calf I’ll likely give more milk too!

Q: That sounds good. Are there any other happenings you want to share with our readers?

Etta: Well, my days are pretty easy and I’m happy for that. I like being milked in the parlor three times each day, and I’ve made lots of friends in pen 2 where I live. I’ve been vaccinated a few times this winter, and that has helped keep me healthy.

On April 1, my heifer calf Sophia will turn eight months old. I can’t believe how fast the time goes! I think that’s all for now.

Thanks Etta, for taking the time to share with our readers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look into the life of a dairy cow on our farm. If you’ve got any of your own questions for Etta, please leave them in the comments. I’ll make sure to include them in our next Q&A.

Etta in the milking parlor. Apparently I caught her sticking out her tongue while she was chewing her cud.

Posted in Cows, Henrietta (Etta for short!) | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments