{Apostle Island Ice Caves}

Our cave adventure began after a half day at work on Friday. First order of business once on the road-caffeine!  Caribou Coffee is one of my favorite’s after Starbucks.

20140311-204600.jpg
After checking into our hotel, it was time for dinner at the Pier Plaza Restaurant, which was recommended to us from some locals.
20140311-204645.jpg
The apple vinaigrette was amazing, and keeping in faith with my list of 30 things to do leading up to and during my 30th year, I had to sample some local beer. The South Shore Nut Brown Ale hit the spot with the fresh Lake Superior Trout and Whitefish fish fry. Yum!

20140311-204716.jpg

20140311-204804.jpg

The next morning we were up by 6:00 a.m. as friends of ours had told us to get to Meyer’s Beach early (where the hike to the cave begins.)  With the ice caves being completely frozen for only the second time in over a decade and the polar vortex weather adding to the awe-inspiring frozen beauty, the ice caves are attracting people by the thousands.  I hate crowds when enjoying nature, so it was time to haul butt to the lake.

Three dollars pays for your parking at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  The rest of nature’s display is free!  The distance to the first cave is just over a mile.  From there you can trek across frozen Lake Superior another .6 miles and see cave after cave. The total out distance you can travel is three miles, which is what we did.  We of course stopped along the way to take photos, play in the caves, and enjoy the best beauty you can find-nature’s!

If you live in the area and are thinking about visiting the Apostle Island Ice Caves, then be sure to call their ice line found on the link for current conditions.  The ice was between 16-18 inches thick when we visited making it likely they will remain open through March 17 (according to their website as of today).  This is obviously highly dependent on Mother Nature herself, so check in advance.

Apostle Island Ice Cave Tips:

1) Arrive early in the morning; no later than 7:00 a.m. to beat the crowds.

2) Where Yak Traks or something of the like.  Boots are not enough if you really want to get out on the ice and climb, crawl, and explore.

3) Pack a snack and some water if you plan to spend hours enjoying the sights like we did. Bring your own breakfast, too.

4) Bring something to put your wrappers in.  I saw people leaving their dog’s business behind and tossing their cigarette butts on the “ground”, which means this will all be in Lake Superior when it melts.  Stupid people!

5) Dress warm!  Nothing ruins winter fun like not dressing for the weather.

6) Bring ski poles if you want extra support or might have difficulties walking in snow and ice.

7) Bring a camera!  I keep looking at my photos over and over reliving the morning.

20140311-204858.jpg

20140311-204938.jpg
IMG_5348
IMG_5363
IMG_5353

IMG_5370IMG_5371IMG_5375

IMG_5377

20140312-165251.jpg

20140312-165439.jpg

20140312-165519.jpg

20140312-165705.jpg

20140312-165730.jpg

20140312-165757.jpg

20140312-165835.jpg

20140312-165856.jpg

20140312-165923.jpg

20140312-170015.jpg

20140312-170054.jpg
After enjoying the ice caves we were starving so we headed to The Pickled Herring for some lunch, also inside the Pier Plaza Restaurant. After lunch we enjoyed a bit of sunshine in Bayfield before heading home on the 4.5 hour drive. The drive was so worth the beauty, and I am so glad we made these last-minute late winter plans. To not see the ice caves as they are this winter would be a shameful thing to pass up.
20140311-205051.jpg

20140311-205140.jpg

20140311-205234.jpg

Nature always leaves me feeling rejuvenated, humbled, and grateful for the things I have.

Thank you nature!

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 7}

and in the snow, ice, and slush!

and in the snow, ice, and slush!

Let me preface this post with what an awesome week of miles I had.  I’m excited to see my miles increasing, and to be feeling as in shape as I do.

Tuesday-4 miles (Sarah)

20140211-184630.jpg

IMG_5278

Even though most weeks in January I was a few miles under my weekly mileage goal on my training plan, I’m really feeling strong going into February. Today’s 4 mile run felt so easy and effortless. Yoga on Sunday definitely helped stretch out some tight muscles. Running through snowy and icy miles throughout the winter has also helped build endurance for runs where I get some sections of bare road like tonight.

Wednesday-4 miles
20140212-221939.jpg
Wednesday was four easy miles. Ryan had parent-teacher conferences two nights this week and reffed baseketball a different night, so he didn’t get many miles in during the week. We both planned to hit the weekend up for miles.

Friday-5 romantic miles…err something like that (both of us)

20140216-185205.jpg

Love the Beard. The Bearded Brothers are offering 30% off all orders through 2/17. Use coupon code LoveBeard to score yourself some great fuel at a great price.*


20140216-185235.jpg
After an easy five miles and a little romantic sunset, we came home and got ourselves ready for a night out and dueling pianos with friends. I’ve been to dueling pianos in Minneapolis several times, once in Austin (amazing!), and a couple other smaller places, but never locally. They were good, and dueling pianos is always a great time.
20140216-185309.jpg

Saturday-7 snowy miles (both of us)
20140216-185547.jpg
After enjoying myself perhaps a bit too much the night before it was amazing that I ran seven miles on Saturday. Once I got myself out the door, the miles flew by. Ryan and I had so much to talk about, the snow was falling lightly, and we just enjoyed the run. We talked about how we love to run in freshly falling snow. It surprisingly isn’t all that slippery, has such a silent beauty, and there is a rhythmic relaxation to the sound of your own crunching feet hitting the ground. Even though I didn’t feel the greatest earlier in the day, sometimes you just have to do something!
20140216-190036.jpg

Sunday-14 miles (both of us) Ryan’s longest run ever!
20140216-190106.jpg
To fuel up for today’s run we went to brunch. I had whole grain blueberry banana pancakes, apple chicken sausages, and egg beaters. The pancakes were amazing! I forgot how much I love fruit and pancakes together. This was the perfect pre-run fuel.

Despite fueling properly pre-run, I have to honestly say I was not looking forward to my run. The weather was sunny and probably the warmest its been this year (24 degrees), so I’m not sure exactly what my funk was. I am just really getting sick of running in the snow. The night before it was all silent and peaceful. I knew today the snow would be packy, slippery, slushy, and hard to run in. I was exactly right.

My foot has also been bothering me all weekend. I have no idea what is going on with it, and the pain isn’t intense, so I did what any runner does…and ran through it. We’ll find out if that was a good idea Monday morning I’m sure. Again, not all things I do are advice for others.

To make this long run seem less daunting, Ryan’s longest EVER, we broke it into two halves. The first seven miles were decent. The snow and slush was annoying, but there was some open road. Ryan and I chatted some of the time, while other parts we were silent. I think he was afraid to poke the bear-that was me :(.. Luckily I snapped out of it after a few miles. For part of the first seven miles I wasn’t sure if I’d finish as my foot was sore.

Halfway through our run, we stopped at the house to grab a drink, a GU, and for Ryan to apply some Body Glide to his foot. He had a hot spot started, and we wanted to prevent it from becoming a full on blister. Then we were back on the road. I brought my music with for the second half. Music is so motivating to me and makes my runs significantly more fun, feel easier, and go quicker. Ryan still refuses music for reasons I still don’t completely understand, but everyone trains differently. Some runs and races I don’t use it, but most of the time I enjoy my runs more with music. I made sure to belt parts of every chorus out so Ryan would know what song was playing at all times. I’m sure he loved it!

We both took GU’s at mile 10 to prevent the long run hangry experience we had with our 12 mile long run two weeks ago. Properly fueling before and during the run made these miles so much more enjoyable. Enjoying runs also builds confidence that you can complete the entire 26.2 distance. Ryan and I both felt great on our run. When asked about his training so far, Ryan says he feels strong, in shape, and confident about the marathon distance.  I feel like the 14 miles was not a challenge, and that I could have easily ran 20 with some more open road. Now I’m sure I just jinxed my next 20 miler.  I am fairly superstitious when it comes to running.
20140216-190140.jpg
My foot is still sore, so we will see what develops from that. Hopefully I’ll have nothing to report back. If I do, I blame Ryan and his heel incident as I’ve NEVER had a foot problem before. I know there is no way the heeled wedges I wore to work followed by stilettos I wore Friday night to dueling pianos have anything to do with the pain (17 hours in heels). I wear heels often so I’m seriously doubting it, but who knows. I’m optimistic it will be back to normal in a day or two!

20140216-190425.jpg

Post-run hydration-Fruit Punch Nuun for me, Grape Nuun for Ryan.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-Train with a partner who is reliable and encourages you to complete your workouts. Train with someone who doesn’t make excuses for why not to do a workout. If you don’t have someone to train with, then find someone who shares a common goal or interest of running to discuss your training and workouts. Hearing about another person’s training can both reassure and motivate you in your own training.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s advice this week also applies to me. I wasn’t very encouraging before our long run. I actually suggested multiple alternatives to running our long run even though I didn’t really want to skip the run (much).  Once I get going, I’m all lovin’ every minute of it.  It is just the getting going part that gets me sometimes.  Ryan helped ME a lot to get my butt out the door. I’ll work harder next week to not whine and complain before our long run. It should be noted that during the long run I was completely supportive. 😉

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Make a playlist of songs you like, that are upbeat, and that motivate you to push yourself and complete those miles. Music is one of my biggest motivators. Having the right songs on my playlist can make or break a longer run. I change up my playlists every month or two to incorporate new songs and so I don’t get bored. Some songs make it a year on my playlist while others only last a month or two. Once a song loses its mojo, its gone. This keeps my playlists new and exciting all year round. My current long run playlist is below!  Don’t judge!
Screenshot 2014-02-16 20.36.09
Screenshot 2014-02-16 20.36.35

Week 7 Total Miles-
Ryan-26 miles
Sarah-34 miles

Happy Training!

*All opinions are my own. I’ve not been paid or compensated in any way for any products mentioned in this post. They are simply favorites of mine I’d recommend to other runners.

{Friday Fab 5}

{#1-Lots of freshly fallen snow to run in}

20131227-001459.jpg
Makes for some gorgeous runs!

{#2-Sisters}

20131227-001602.jpg
Can’t help but think of how much we’ve grown up. We’ve always had a rough time getting along, by in the past few years have made huge strides in our relationship.

{#3-Sand Creek Brewery}

20131227-001719.jpg
While in my hometown, we had to try some of the local beers. Even though the Badger Porter and Cranberry Ale (love) are favorites of ours (and may
or may not be In our fridge now) there were still many to try! See photo below!

{#4-more Sand Creek Brewery}

20131227-002034.jpg

{#5-Favorite guy to celebrate with at ALL holiday parties!}

20131227-090139.jpg
Today we are headed to Christmas number 3!

Happy Weekend!

{Christmas Winter Wonderland Run}

20131226-151009.jpg

Visiting family across the state or country is the perfect opportunity to explore new territory, run new routes, and enjoy nature’s wonder in a new way. So I did just that on Christmas morning. It was one of those perfect winter mornings…freshly falling snow, temperatures in the twenties, no wind. I was all prepped to rock out to my holiday music mix on my iPod shuffle from 2006. Of course I also had to show my holiday spirit by donning my holiday Pro Compression socks.

20131226-081315.jpg
This would also be the first time I got to try out my Christmas gift from the husband. It was really all I wanted from him as a gift and he delivered! I’d have loved the Garmin 620, but just couldn’t justify spending $450 on a watch. The 220 has the important features I’ll use the most and didn’t totally break the bank, so it was the one I requested. Plus purple is awesome; you’ll be hearing more about my thoughts on this watch as I become an expert on its features.

20131226-081743.jpg
We headed out for our run and passed by this festive street seeing more snowblowers than vehicles.

20131226-133723.jpg

20131226-081218.jpg
Then it we headed towards Lake Michigan for some scenic winter views.

20131226-133954.jpg
This run was just so beautiful. The trees heavy with fresh, glistening snow. The crunch of untouched snow underfoot. Holiday tunes playing in the earbuds. The changing landscape so in contrast to the warm weather sights.

20131226-134200.jpg

20131226-140637.jpg

20131226-141015.jpg
There is always something I’ve loved about winter that is hard to put into words. The world is blanketed in snow, yet so desolate, exposed, and vulnerable. It’s the perfect time to take comfort in small things that make you cozy, toasty, and warm.

You can hear winter’s song on these winter runs or at night with the moon reflecting off sparkling snow. There is a certain sound to it only heard in the winter months. These are the winter runs I love so much.

20131226-141221.jpg

20131226-141328.jpg

20131226-141434.jpg

20131226-141555.jpg

20131226-141721.jpg

20131226-141822.jpg

20131226-141928.jpg

20131226-142105.jpg

20131226-142321.jpg
Winter runs also go perfect with a warm cup of Starbucks or mug of hot chocolate.

Get out and enjoys winter’s song.