Running Through 2016

  
Running in 2016 admittedly took a back seat to pregnancy and new motherhood. I was prepared for this and at peace with it as I entered the year about 25 weeks pregnant.

I waddled along for a couple of miles at a time a few days each week, and I was happy to keep adding these slow miles to my log. Along with trying to keep up on needed farm work and get our nursery ready I was getting more than plenty of activity. I just needed the mental solace of those few weekly miles. 

I’ve kept track of my running miles in a spreadsheet since my 24th birthday, so even if I’m not running very much or training consistently I still log the miles. It’s fun to see the overall total grow close to 5,000. ๐Ÿ˜„ Looking back at the start of 2016 I’m surprised to see I managed a six mile run on January 2nd and multiple four to five mile runs throughout February. By March I maxed out around three miles, and my last pregnant run was on March 22nd – five days before Speedy was born. Then I really did take a break.  

In almost every way I relished the intensity of the first weeks after his birth. I got to stay home from work and chores for about two weeks almost exclusively, and even though it wasn’t long enough it was my longest break from work since my college days. My little son needed me so deeply, and I loved that I could provide everything he needed. Our world was small those first weeks but absolutely wonderful. 

I felt no need to rush back to running and create recovery problems for myself, but after 6 weeks the weather was getting nice. I was itching to put on my running shoes again. I started with slow 15-20 minute jogs and walk breaks as needed. By the time Speedy was three months our doctor said I could run with him in the car seat adapter of my Bob jogging stroller if we kept to smooth paths. By six months I felt comfortable strapping him into the main stroller seat, but I actually missed the carseat adapter because he faced me so it was easier to watch and talk to him. 

I love many things about being a mom, but I didn’t expect to enjoy running with a jogging stroller so much. My son is a sweet running partner who listens to me chatter away or sing as he takes in the scenery or simply falls asleep. I am grateful he enjoys the stroller as much as I do!   

Our first race was a 5K on July 4th weekend in my hometown. I was thrilled to finish in 28 minutes and pass multiple people in the second half. 

   
  My sister Julie deserves major props for walking the 5K at seven months pregnant!

In August we did a 5K in our current town that turned into more of a 3.5 mile race with misplaced cones and a brief rain shower for good measure. No matter, Speedy was perfectly content with this race. Fortunately I brought his wide brimmed hat and covered him enough that he slept through the rain. 

 

My ‘big’ race of the year was the Twin Cities Marathon weekend 10K. Speedy and I got up at an insane hour to travel to St. Paul for a 7:00 a.m. start, but I don’t think a race has ever been more worth it. 

The fall morning was brisk and beautiful, I felt great running along behind my precious cargo, and I hit my A+ goal of averaging under 9:00/miles. 

   
 Meeting up with a running friend and mentor extraordinaire!

For me, this 10K proved I could still do it. I could still be a runner while being a farmer and a mom. I could still run a decent and enjoyable race even if I wasn’t running ALL THE MILES in training. I could pass people politely with my jogging stroller and feel good doing it. I was and am so grateful for this race.

By the way, I also met the amazing Sarah Bowen Shea of Another Mother Runner at the race expo, and it led to me being invited to chat on their podcast! I am still a little starstruck about it. If you enjoy mothering, running, or even think you might you should give this a listen.

Lastly, I’m happy with the running balance I found in 2016. My family, our farm and cattle, and my roles as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend need to take priority in my life. I’m grateful to God for the clarity He continually helps me find when I struggle with schedules, commitments, and balance. Even on the really hard days — the tear-your-hair-out days — if I can collect myself enough to pray for guidance I will know where my priorities and time need to be. The answer to this prayer is not always the same. But it’s always correct. 

I think it might be a while before I can dedicate myself to serious high mileage training again, but I deserve to carve out time to run several days per week and chase after incremental goals. In early April I will hopefully be doing a 5K with some (or all four!) of my sisters. Just two months from now I plan to run my seventh Earth Day Half Marathon. If it’s not my slowest half that will be a major victory. These goals aren’t for anybody else. They are for me.

If this post got a little long for you, here’s a quick recap. Running in 2016 was great. I came back healthy after a post-partum break, I enjoyed my races, and I was realistic about the goals and mileage I thought I could handle. Because of that I finished the year excited instead of depleted, and I’m looking forward to more races and miles in 2017. Thank you all for your encouragement on this journey. 



Posted in Being a Mom, Race Reports, Running | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

February Spring

Well hello there! I’m finally poking my head up from what feels like weeks of doctor visits, poor sleep, fevers, and fussing. This includes Speedy and his parents. The sickness ratio has been out of control this winter. Last week I had strep throat and a temperature so high I thought I would need to visit the ER. Thankfully we are all still in one piece and feeling much better thanks to the goodness of antibiotics! 

We are also enjoying a crazy stretch of spring weather for February. Yesterday we had rain and thunderstorms, and the daytime temperatures have been in 50’s for almost a week. What is going on, winter?

 

In other news, this past weekend we reached a big milestone. JR and I went to a wedding, and our friends graciously babysat Speedy. He got to play with their little boy, and I had my first two nights apart from him since he was born. 

  
Speedy did awesome with our friends, and I was only a little teary-eyed. Truthfully, it was good for us to get away from the farm and spend time with friends and each other. I missed my boy like crazy, but that just meant I had a good excuse to kiss him extra all day Sunday. ๐Ÿ™‚

As February winds down I realize I still haven’t written a running recap for 2016. Even though I was pregnant for the first three months of the year and navigating life with my first baby for the rest I really enjoyed the miles I did run. Speedy and I jointly tackled three races during the summer and fall, so I’ll be back in a day or two with my assessment of the year.

In the meantime, just remember it’s 50 – 60 degrees in Minnesota. If you happen to be looking for a warm getaway this February, you can add our fair state to your list. Hurry before this balmy weather offer expires…๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Posted in Being a Mom, Race Reports, Running | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Live on the Farm

As January starts winding down I am deeply thankful for the mild weather stretch. I don’t like foggy grey, but the “Pacific-style” weather has been keeping our temperatures around the freezing point instead of typical lows below zero.

It is easier to get work done and feel optimistic when you aren’t freezing your nose off just by stepping outside!

Earlier this week I agreed to do a Facebook live video on our farm with our state dairy organization. I fielded questions and showed off a brand new calf.

I don’t often make and post farm videos, so I thought you guys would enjoy seeing and hearing me talk live. I cringe a little listening to my recorded Minnesota accent, but I can’t run away from reality.

If you have more questions please either post them here or ask directly on Facebook. I’ll do my best to answer them quickly! You can click on the photo below to watch.

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Baby Calf Care, Being a Mom, Cows | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mood of January

It’s no secret January can be a hard month. The flurry of holiday celebrations are winding down, the days are dark, and in the north the days are cold.

Still, cold is relative. As I write this we are in the middle of a beautiful January thaw. After most nights below zero the first half of the month we are now enjoying daytime temperatures above freezing. I hear talk of forty degrees in the coming days. I am, however, hoping we can avoid the rain and thunderstorms forecast for this weekend. 

I know my moods in January follow the weather, and when we are dealing with a swirling blizzard I have a hard time shaking angry thoughts of, “I HATE winter.” When the winds are calm and the sun shines it’s magically easy for me to pivot into recognizing the beauty of the snow, the purpose the winter serves in our climate, and my love of four seasons.

I also love coming home on a winter night. The dark tells my mind I don’t need to be thinking about the outside work until tomorrow. If I planned ahead I have a delicious something bubbling in the crockpot. JR and I can start a fire (real or by clicking on the gas fireplace) and catch up on the day. Best of all, I have a snugly baby I can hold and feed and read to as I wind down for the day.

   

I love the quiet of winter evenings, and I try to internalize that love to combat my not-so-favorite parts of winter.

This January also brings more uncertainty than normal for a few reasons. Along with the rest of the country, I hold my breath as leadership changes. I wouldn’t believe anyone who claims to know exactly what the next four years will bring, but I know change is here. As always, I pray for the future of our country and our world. I watch the cabinet picks and follow the confirmation hearings with persistence. I consider calling my senators about some of them. I wonder when we will get a Secretary of Agriculture nominee. 

On the farm front we are working through mountains of paperwork, meetings, and business planning for the future. It has ups and downs. My role will eventually  change to include more office and financial work. This change plays to my strengths, but I haven’t yet figured out how to rearrange my other work to make room for this change.

It’s easy to let worry overtake you during the dark months of the year, but I know I am capable of focusing on the good and moving forward.

One recent slice of good I want to share is Speedy and my first stroller run of 2017. It was already warming up Sunday afternoon, so I loaded up the baby and the stroller and drove to the lake paths. We enjoyed three easy miles, and I was happy to take a break from the treadmill. It was exactly what I needed. I ran hardly at all in December, so January is a needed fresh start. I have my eye on my seventh Earth Day Half Marathon, and I’m hopeful I can make it to the start AND finish feeling good. Further goals TBD. โ˜บ๏ธ

  
What does January mean for you this year? Do you have worries, goals, or thoughts to share?  

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Being a Mom, Running, This and That | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Choosing Foods as a Mom!

It’s pretty accurate to say I’m a lifelong farmer. I grew up on a family farm the first eighteen years of my life. As regular readers know, I’ve been dairy farming with my husband since we got married in 2009. Four years of college in the Twin Cities was the farthest I got from the country.

Over the years on this blog I’ve ย written about food choice, food safety, and the pride farmers have in the food we grow. I’ve written from the perspective of a farmer, a runner, and an eater.

Since the birth of my son last year I’ve embraced my newest and most loved title. Mom. I have also realized choosing food from the perspective of a parent really is different. At nine months old Speedy loves chewing on everything from cooked carrots and Cheerios to a strip of steak. I want healthy, nourishing food for his little body, and I care more about the safety and quality of his food than I do my own.


I thought, perhaps, some of you would be curious if becoming a mom drastically changes how I choose and talk about food.ย In a word, the answer is “No.” I haven’t changed my food perspective too much, but I do think now is a good time to reinforce some of my core values – this time as a mom.

1) I still believe in choice. Whether you shop at Target, the farmers market, or your corner grocery, I hope you have access to safe, affordable food. I continue to be grateful for the abundance and variety of America’s food supply.

2) I still dislike fear in food marketing. I feel sad when our country’s whirlwind of food labels causes confusion, stress, and even fear. People don’t need that when they are simply trying to shop for their families. I bristle when I see “GMO-free” on a bag of broccoli because broccoli grown with GMO technology is not available in any grocery store. Anywhere.ย I also happen to believe GMOs have some good qualities.ย Iย did a little internet search for a list of which crops are actually genetically modified, and it was harder to find a reputable link than I expected.ย This list on GMO answers is a good place to start.

GMOs are not the answer to everything. I’m not naive enough to believe they are always the best solution, and I know world hunger is more a problem of food distribution than food supply. However…ย If you care about world hunger, if you care about affordable food, if you care about the environment and sustainable farming – then I think you have to believe GMOs are important to explore as a piece of the solution on these issues. -Me, August 2011. I still feel this way today.ย 

3) I am still on a mission to clear up misinformation about antibiotics. I feel uncomfortable with the label “antibiotic-free.” Why? Because any animal treated with antibiotics can’t be slaughtered for meat during a specifically defined withdrawal time. This time ensures all antibiotic residue has cleared from an animal’s body before they can be used for food. Technically, all food available for human consumption in the U.S. is antibiotic-free, even if an animal needed antibiotics at some point.

Furthermore, since becoming a mom I remain convinced modern medicine is important for both people and animals. We provide many daily things on our farm, like fresh bedding and feed and clean water, to keep our cattle healthy. Sometimes an animal still gets sick. If a calf shows signs of pneumonia or a cow develops an infection I think it’s wrong to deny them the treatment they need. I know we can work with our veterinarian to be responsible about animal health because I see this relationship in action.


I will never understand why some who claim to be advocates for animal welfare want to deny all modern medical treatment to farm animals.

4) I still like raising the food I can, but I’m thankful for the grocery store. And takeout pizza. Over the years my husband and I have ย raised our own chickensย andย grown our own cabbage to make sauerkraut.ย We eat our own beef (and our own version if JR is successful during deer hunting). We normally have a good-sized garden and freeze lots of veggies for winter, but this summer with a brand new baby we didn’t plant anything of our own. Different seasons of life mean we can’t always do everything. Being at peace with that reality is important to me.

Speedy eats baby purรฉes occasionally, but usually he’s getting peices of whatever vegetable or meat or concoction we’re eating at the time. He’s learning to handle and chew his food well, and we’re doing our best to start him on a path to nutritious eating. As he grows, that path will include talk about where food comes from and an appreciation for the land and animals behind it. All food, no matter what labels appear on it, starts with the basics of soil and the plants and animals that thrive on it.


What more would you like to know? Maybe you’ve got a dairy question or you’re wondering about a food label you saw last week? I’d love to answer your questions or help you find someone who can!

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Being a Mom, Cooking and Foods | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments