A Running Update 

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update on my running and training, and as summer winds down it seems like a good time to circle back. 

During summer the warm temperatures and busy season on our farm usually mean I’m running a little less, but I’m still keeping at it. That was again the case this year. Though I’m thankful for the long daylight hours that allow for sunrise or sunset runs!

After my May marathon – where I was thrilled with my finish – I definitely scaled things back to recover. I think I took about one week completely off and then did two or three easy runs during the next few weeks. I felt good with no injury worries to speak of, but somehow the busyness of summer weekends mixed with farming, gardening, family, etc took over a lot of my running time. I’ve still been running several times a week through the summer, but my marathon endurance has long since faded. I did an eight mile run a few weeks ago, and it truly felt like a long way. But, that’s okay! I think it’s good to balance things out and have lower mileage seasons. I’m enjoying my running right now, and that is always my biggest goal. 

I did manage to run a few races this summer including a 5K in my town and a “4 mile” in the middle of July for my birthday. The 5K was a small and friendly race which I enjoyed running for the second time. It was extra fun because I crossed the finish line as the first female.

The “4 mile” is quite an established race in the area, but for some reason there was confusion among runners, signs, and volunteers, and many of us took a wrong turn and ran at least an extra 1/3 of a mile. It was still really fun to race on my birthday and get third place as I entered a new age group. The heat and humidity were so thick that morning I was glad the race wasn’t any longer than it was!

  

Post-race on my 30th birthday

Right now I honestly don’t have any races on my calendar. I’m enjoying the cool mornings we’ve been having lately, and I’m excited for the crisp days and colors of fall running. I might look around for a 10K or even a shorter trail race, but I’m content to see how the fall goes.

I’m still going to yoga class and practicing a little at home to keep working on flexibility, strength, and balance. Or sometimes it’s just about the relaxation! Either way it balances well with running. I’m also hopeful JR and I will take our bikes for a spin or two while the weather is still nice. Earlier this summer we finally biked two towns over, and I suspect we could go a lot farther (and more often) if we planned out the time.

  
That’s all I’ve got for a summer running and fitness update. What do you have on your race calendar for this fall? 

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MN State Fair: You can experience food and farming too! 

Imagine a faint breeze stirring on an otherwise calm early morning. You hear a pig snort and cows mooing as you catch the aroma of something delicious on the breeze. It’s frying meat — possibly breakfast sausage or bacon. The air is cool but not cold, and it holds the promise of warming up steadily as the day goes on. Summer is almost gone but not quite as you stand and soak up the animal sounds from the barns mingled with the coming autumn. This could be anywhere in the country of rural Minnesota, except it’s not. You don’t have to be on a farm to experience it either because you’re a morning visitor to the Minnesota State Fair! 

If you live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes it’s hard to miss the excitement building in late August as the Minnesota State Fair approaches. The fair opens THIS week — Thursday at 6 a.m. to be exact — and it promises amazing food options, carnival rides, endless exhibits, animals, and people watching galore. 

  

The Moo Booth in the Cattle Barn 

 
Turkey Sandwich at Turkey To Go

Believe it or not, you will also find farmers at the fair. Yes, you may bump into them throughout the livestock barns or 4-H and FFA exhibits, but there’s another spot you can find a farmer ready to answer your questions all twelve days of fair. That spot is the Minnesota Farm Bureau building. Farmers from across the state volunteer to connect with fair goers everyday simply because it’s important to share what we do. We know people have questions about things like food labeling, animal care, and how things work on modern farms. Who better to answer those questions than a farmer?

   
 

While you’re visiting with a farmer you can also check out the other great things offered in the Farm Bureau building. 

First of all — giveaways! Many giveaways are featured this year, and they all have family-friendly learning components. 

  • Rain barrel giveaway
  • Children’s book giveaway each day of the fair including The Kid Who Changed the World, The Beeman and How Did That Get in My Lunchbox. 
  • Kitchen goodies featuring insulated lunch bags, ice cream scoops, and Pico de Gallo recipe cards.

While you’re registering for the rain barrel be sure the check out the information on how farmers work hard to conserve water and have decreased water usage over the past 20 years.

If looking at crops and flowers is more your style you won’t be disappointed. The MN Farm Bureau building features a Pico de Gallo garden growing the tasty vegetables from the recipe card, and they also have a pollinator garden of beautiful flowers to attract bees. 

Now I know you’re all dying to ask… “How do I get there?”

Well, the MN Farm Bureau state fair building is located at 1305 Underwood Street, directly across from the Food Building and behind the giant slide. I know the state fair is huge with many exhibits (and foods) vying for your attention, but you’ll be glad you stopped by! Enjoy the rest of summer, and see you at the fair.

All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this post. MN Farm Bureau provided me with information and some photos. 

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Family Travels

August seems to be prime time for family vacations, and my extended family is no exception. During this hot month of dog days before school starts it’s nice to have one last slice of summer. Never mind that it’s been cold (50’s!) and rainy the last two days. Sunny and 75 is on its way again tomorrow.

My sister Linda, who lives in Wisconsin, is staying at my parents this week with her family, and my uncle, aunt, and cousin from Iowa were also there over the weekend. This meant that several more of my sisters came to visit too, and it was a full house!
Then Linda and my mom and nephews came to see us today, and Calvin was as happy to see them as we were. 

I know most of you probably aren’t finding anything particularly inspiring in this post, but part of my goal in blogging is to preserve photos, time, and memories. My nephews won’t be this age forever, and I won’t either for that matter. :-) Here’s a few photos of the fun.

   

  
   

  

   

    

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The Thick of Summer

We are indeed in the thick of summer, right?

Early August is beautiful, and in our pocket of the state it means the small grains – wheat, oats, rye, and barley – are nearly all harvested and livestock farmers like us are finishing baling straw in the golden yellow fields. These round bales actually aren’t ours, but as I jogged by them the other morning they were too pretty to pass by.

  
Our garden is producing with a healthy vengeance, and we’re barely keeping up with picking and eating or freezing the tasty results. 

Unfortunately something — I’m looking at you, deer — ate my whole row of tender little beets, and they were honestly gone without a trace. I’ll have to be more vigilant next year. The tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages are thriving, and I think we will actually have brussel sprouts this year. (If you are anywhere near me, please come and ask me for some peppers! I’ve got sweet and hot varieties; you pick or I pick. Either way.)

  
  

I also made some spicy zucchini refrigerator pickles on a whim and was happy with the result. Crunchy, sour, and spicy.

  
In other news, I spent a few days helping with our community Vacation Bible School last week. I don’t think it’s fair to post pictures of unsuspecting kids on my blog, so trust me when I say 200+ kids in the summer playing and learning about Jesus is fun and grand chaos!

I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my newest favorite calves. She’s part Brown Swiss, and she arrived a week overdue on August 7th. I think she already looks like a boss cow.

  

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The North Woods

Minnesota is many things. Prairie. Lakes. Cities — think Minneapolis/St. Paul. Small towns — think Lake Wobegon. Rivers — the Mississippi begins here after all.

Minnesota is also forest, and trees cover a huge chunk of the northern part of the state. I live in a middle ground of sorts that’s not exactly prairie but not forest either.  We have trees, but they are nothing like the towering old growth forests of the north. I have a new appreciation for this after our getaway last week.

From Tuesday to Thursday we left the farm for a near exact 48 hours. We loaded the Subaru with coolers of food and bags packed with sunscreen, clothes, swim wear, and bug spray. Lots of bug spray. Plus running shoes for me. Before I even started loading JR had enough fishing gear to fill the whole car. We did squeeze everything in, and then we drove north to meet our friends who graciously invited us to their cabin. We hadn’t talked through a lot of details, so I didn’t know if this was a resort, lake home or what. As we followed the directions it became clear this was off the beaten path. Eventually the two lane blacktop became winding dirt roads, and we were in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest.

  
A stunning lake and towering trees greeted us when we finally pulled up to their family cabin. Built in the 1920’s, this beautiful spot looked rustic but was comfortable and charming. 

   
 The cabin was full of lots of useful supplies, and there were even four bikes in the shed. We spent several hours touring around the forest trails and never saw another soul.

  
In the national forest the roads were dirt and the bike trail was paved. Really. 

 

The beach below the cabin was amazingly sandy and beautiful. The waves and wind were crazy intense on Wednesday, but that didn’t stop the boys from fishing and even tipping over their canoe. Luckily they were still in a nice and shallow part! 

   
 

Yes, it really was cool enough for long sleeves. I also went for a solo run in the morning, and feeling the forest so close on all sides was unlike anywhere I’ve ever run. I never considered putting an earbud in because I was so content to listen to the rustle and sway of thousands of trees. This part of trail was actually the road. For cars.

  

I did scare up a large deer toward the end of my run, and I thought that would probably be the most exciting wildlife of the trip. Of course I was wrong.

On our way home we were driving south and talking about the fish market we would stop at about halfway. I was at the wheel and taking sips of coffee here and there. It was heavily wooded to our left, and suddenly I realized an animal was in the middle of the road. As I slowed down I was trying to figure out what it was. A long black shape on all fours, it didn’t look like any dog I’d ever seen. I was trying to decide if there was such a thing as a huge black bobcat when suddenly I knew. I think JR and I both shouted out at the same time, “It’s a bear!” 

JR tried to get a photo, but the bear casually lumbered off the other side of the road before that could happen. It wasn’t a full grown bear but probably the equivalent of a teenager. At least it was big enough that I wasn’t expecting to see mama bear following behind. I know Minnesota has plenty of black bears, but not in our area. I’ve never seen one in the wild before. I do know I’m glad I was in the car instead of on foot in my running shoes. And I’m also very glad this stately bear avoided being road kill. 

Now we’ve had our quintessential trip up north for the summer, and I already can’t wait to go back sometime. The forest has a way of calling. 

What is your favorite summer vacation?

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