52 Hike Challenge {Part 1}

I should be writing my State 22 marathon recap post, but alas that did not happen this past weekend. State #21-Nebraska was cancelled in June. While I could have ran the Maah Daah Hey Trail Marathon in North Dakota, I had my Theodore Roosevelt National Park camping reservations cancelled and just didn’t feel right taking the family that far given our current scenario. I also did not want to be running a trail race through the Badlands in summer heat without any support person to help me. Lucky for me, I do have a goal I set for myself in January that I have been working on.

While running will always hold a special place in my heart, hiking is a near second. Hiking has been something that I’ve always loved. My first (and only) real hiking memory as a kid was hiking at Devil’s Lake. In college my now husband and I hiked the trails in La Crosse near our campus and ventured out to other hiking places during the summer time. We got engaged on a rainy spring day hike on the West Bluff at Devil’s Lake. We announced our pregnancy with photos from Devil’s Lake, and both Pierce and Aria had their first hikes on those very bluffs before they were even born.

There is something about the near silent sound of my feet as they take each step on the Earth. The grounding smell of pine needles, the hope in the scent of leaves coming to life and the joyful surprise of the scent of wildflowers blooming nearby. Wildlife is never far away. The effort to climb to a beautiful view is always rewarded. The change in seasons is always more appreciated when it is experienced outdoors. While I experience many of these things on the run, there is also beauty in slowing down to enjoy nature. More time to contemplate, reflect and spend time thinking. Again, so fitting for the current time we find ourselves in.

As I’ve gotten older and life more stressful, I find hiking has become a bigger and bigger part of how I recharge, but still not something I did as much as I wanted. I realized hiking really should be part of my regular life, not just something reserved for when we have time or our next vacation. I wanted hiking to be something that was a part of our regular daily lives. I wanted my kids to grow up experiencing the many physical, mental and relational benefits linked to walking in nature. I also wanted my kids to love something involving the outdoors before they could love technology. It is my hope that once they experience nature it can always be a resource and recharge to return to whenever they need to as they get older.

It was with this in mind that I decided to make hiking a focus back in January. One of my goals for 2020 is to complete the 52 Hike Challenge. The goal is pretty simple-hike 52 hikes in a year, one for each week. How interesting that I made a goal I CAN still do this year! As the halfway point of the year passed at the end of June, I can say I’m only loving hiking more and more. While I always planned to include my family in this goal, I did expect more of the hikes to be individual. Given the circumstances of the year, the goal has evolved into a family goal of sorts. We all need that outside time. I have only grown to love my time on the trail even more.

Now there are the not so fun parts too like ticks, mosquitoes and kids who all the sudden cannot. walk. another. step. and must be carried on your back. But those same kids, who sometimes complain at the start, always end up loving their time on the trail and in the woods. It is here that their imaginations come alive and the entire landscape from rocks to plants to footprints to clouds in the sky provide a litany of questions for their curious minds along the way to say why? How come? When? Nature is the ultimate teacher. It’s where somedays we parents are bears and the kids are running from us (we need to teach them some better bear safety 🙂 while other days the eldest is a plethora of dinosaur types and the youngest is a cheetah both roaring through the woods.

In a time where many of us are looking to get outdoors more because there are fewer options with which to spend our time, I’m sharing my list of hikes I completed during the first half of the year. I only ask that you please follow social distancing guidelines and be good stewards of the outdoors. My family has made sure to practice good safety practices while visiting these locations. As always, leave no trace (pack in, pack out). Do not make stops along the way. Avoid touching of public places. Social distance on the trail. Avoid locations when they are busy or choose somewhere different to visit if the parking area is full. We have intentionally hiked a few of these spots when rain is in the forecast in hopes of fewer people and often go during the week to reduce the chance of crowds. Many of these times we ended up being the only ones at these sometimes busier locations. Get creative with bathroom use (we have our kids potty seat along). Get gas before you leave and where you normally would. Plan ahead. Being prepared leads to a better experience-snacks, water, insect repellant, sunscreen and appropriate attire.

I know many others are looking for places to get outdoors, so I’m sharing my list to help you decide where to go next. No matter your experience with hiking, with the right trails and clothes anyone can do this. Below is a list of the first 26 hikes I/we’ve done so far this year. All hikes are in Wisconsin unless otherwise noted.

#1-Miller Bluff, Hixon Forest, La Crosse

#2-Black River State Forest, Millston

#3-Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota

#4-Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area, Black River Falls

#5-Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Brice Praire

#6-Miller Bluff, Hixon Forest, La Crosse

#7-Kickapoo Valley Reserve, La Farge

#8-Halfway Creek Trail, Holmen

#9-Perrot State Park, Trempealeau

#10-Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota

#11-Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Brice Praire

#12-Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge

#13-Merrick State Park, Fountain City

#14-Maiden Rock Bluff, Stockholm

#15-Little Bluff Mounds Trail, Trempealeau

#16-Husband’s Family Farm 🙂

#17-Battle Bluff Prairie State Natural Area

#18-Wazee Lake, Black River Falls

#19-Perry Creek Recreational Area, Black River Falls

#20-Wildcat Mountain State Park, Ontario

#21-Pier Natural Bridge Park, Rockport

Don’t forget to walk the top of this rock bridge.

#22-Wyalusing State Park

#23-Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo (East Bluff)

#24-Devil’s Lake State Park (East and West Bluffs Loop)

#25-Hixon Forest, La Crosse

#26-Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Caledonia, Minnesota

Bonus “Hike”: McGilvray “Seven Bridges” Road, Holmen

This is a beautiful walk or running route, but since it wasn’t really a hike, I did not count it in my 52 Hike Challenge. Also, I do NOT recommend this trail once mosquitoes are out and about. In early spring flooding will make some of this trail impassable.

What is a favorite hiking place (or two or three) you would recommend?

Happy Hiking!

Sarah

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 19 Recovery}

Recovery really begins the moment the race is over. If you were prepared for your race and fueled and hydrated properly during your race, then recovery will be easier. Within 30 minutes of finishing you should eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates to replenish what your body used during your race. Bananas, bagels, fruit, and electrolyte drinks are good.

If you were me then you ate a banana, a brat, cheese and washed it down with beer. I never said all my advice was solid. The husband was feeling sick, but I made him him eat and drink something. Eating good for you foods throughout the day and hydrating are also necessary.

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Resting the legs is a good thing, but too much of a good thing is often bad i.e. You may never get up again. Balance your resting legs with easy walking or an easy hike. Moving legs will boost recovery.

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The next day moving the legs is also essential to recovering. Go for a nice and easy jog, or if that seems impossible then go for a walk. Ryan wanted nothing to do with running the next day so we opted for walking a few miles around Lake Michigan.

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Resume running and training when you feel your body is ready. Sometimes you will be sore, but an easy jog can make you feel better. Ryan had a baseball game almost every night and had no time to run so he took the week off until our hike/run. The important thing is to listen to what your body is telling you.
Tuesday-5.5 miles (Sarah)

Thursday-4.5 hilly miles (Sarah)

Sunday-8 mile trail hike/run (both is us)

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Keep eating those good foods to continue recovery and boost performance all training long.

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Total Weekly Miles: 18

Happy Training!

SS

{Don’t Act Your Age-30 Things During My 30th Year}

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My little sister and I way before “30” had any meaning or expectations.

This post has been sitting in my drafts since October.  Since I’ve already started in on this list, it is definitely time to share it.  I’m not getting any younger after all.  For some reason I was a little afraid to share it as these thoughts are so personal and often seem so different from others.  This post is simply my thoughts and not based on any person, event, or conversation I might have had with anyone.  You might totally disagree with my thoughts, and that is fine.  We all get to make our own choices in life, and this post shares a glimpse into how I want to live my life.  In the spirit of this post and not acting my age-here goes.

I not sure what it is about turning 30 that has me wanting to be adventurous and try new things. When I was a kid I thought turning thirty meant you were old. It has always marked in my head when one really became an adult. I imagined I’d be married with children and acting a whole lot older than I do. The reality is that I don’t feel any older than I did ten years ago. I don’t have children because I’m having too much fun with my freedom and independence…except my cat who I do consider to be my first son.
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I still love new experiences, being adventurous, and doing stupid things I should have learned not to do in the last ten years. I would rather spend money on an experience than save it for 35 years later when I might be dead. I still have the ignorant “it won’t happen to me” mindset far too often. I don’t always eat my vegetables. Sometimes I have too many drinks when I know it won’t feel good the next day. Just the other night after a couple of drinks with friends I put a giant temporary tattoo on my arm that took up my entire forearm just for fun. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner. How can I be turning 30?

Turning the big 3-0 doesn’t really scare me or freak me out; it is just a number after all. I’ve always believed you are only as old as you decide to be. There are no ages to do things at or not do them at. Yet at times I feel societies pressure to follow these often unwritten age rules. But why?? Why must this, this, and that happen by this age. Why should I be slowing down instead of speeding up? Who decides these things? Why are we supposed to start acting old?
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Maybe it is more of that ignorance is bliss thing combined with the fact I don’t have kids, but I refuse to get old. I want to be young. By young, I mean alive, curious, full of wonder and wanderlust, and desire to fill my life with rich and rewarding experiences. I want to be a life-long learner and goal setter. I want to fight for my right to PaRtY!
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As I get older in a numerical sense, I feel there are fewer and fewer people around me who don’t act their age. People sacrifice so many things in exchange for what they are supposed to have and for who they are supposed to be. I slowly see people give up on dreams, goals, or hopes because they say they are too old. Too this. Too that. But what we are is too afraid. Too worried about our age and how it looks to others. Too fearful of bad things that have held us back previously. Too set in our ways to do something differently.  Too stuck on a path or plan to ever diverge.  Now I ‘m not talking quit your job and move across the country (although if my husband ever said he would I would be tempted-but he NEVER would).  I’m referring to letting adventure find me and not being so afraid of it when it does.  To do the things I’ve said I want to do, but never have.  To stop waiting for those experiences to find me, and instead create those moments for myself.  To do more following of the Holstee Manifesto below.
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I credit running for the most part for giving me a younger spirit that doesn’t want to think old. It has taught me in the past few years about how much I want to see the world, how unhappy I am with the mundane and average, how working hard rewards you in so many ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Running has shown me how age is just a number not a sentence, statement, or dictation of how to think, act, or feel. Seeing people in their 70’s and 80’s still running and living active lives inspires me everyday to do the same. And I’m talking LIVING people! These young souls are not home-bound and plagued by health ailments. Can I guarantee this won’t be me-obviously no. Can I guarantee you I won’t wait to find out-an astounding YES!
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As I enter my 30th year on Earth, I want to remind myself that we only have this one life to make our own rules and follow our own dreams. In the end it doesn’t matter what society says. It’s your life! So many runners, moms, dads, and individuals out there DO inspire me because I see them going for it. Readers of this blog inspire me with their goals and dreams. They work hard to balance family, responsibility, and their dreams.
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Besides being a list person, setting smaller dreams and goals gives us a sense of accomplishment while lighting that motivational fire under our arses. This year I want a list of 30 things to go for leading up to my birthday and in my 30th year, and I need your help. What are some ideas to add to my list in my journey to and during 30 years young? What cool experience did you make, see, do, explore, etc.  I want a balance between the adventurous and the it’s-ok-to-have-a-calm-life.

Goals for 30th year
1) Race 30ish mile race (50k)
2) Skydive
3) get a tattoo
4) improve blog
5) become a trail runner
6) read 30 books (This will be hard for me as I usually read like 8 books a year…on a good year.  Any suggestions?)
7) hike in natures beauty (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park)
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8) visit Portland, Oregon
9) take a(nother) road trip
10) become a yogi or at least get committed to yoga/take classes
11) become a Marathon Maniac
12) go scuba diving
13) visit another country (plan to travel to Mexico with family)
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14) visit ten (minimum) new state parks
15) cross at least two more states off my 50 in 50 list
16) try new foods (new ethnic eats)
17) Try 30 new to me beers
18) complete a century ride on trails (Perrot State Park to 400 Trail in Reedsburg)
19) get a massage-truth, I’ve never had one
20) go downhill skiing again-it’s been 7 years
21) complete a monthly photo challenge-I’ve got a ton saved, but have never done one
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22) go ice skating again-it’s been 16 years
23) ride on a train
24) visit another baseball stadium
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27)
28)
29)
30)

I still need six more ideas. I’m open to suggestions! Keep in mind these events will happen in the next 16 months, so I can’t fly to Mykonos, Greece or visit the Australian outback as much as I’d like to-unless your paying ;)! I want to make the next year about adventure, fun, and living life…not about a number!

Suggestions…Go!