Category Archives: Exercise

That One Time I Went On a Trail Run

I’ve mentioned at least once that Handy Husband is a runner.

He loves all the parts of running. The competition, the stats, the runner’s high, the gear, that part where your chest burns and your muscles want to die. Yeah, all of it.

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I run too. At least 3 times a week for the past 5 years. However, I’ve never reached the “love” stage of running. I’m still in the, “how far do I have to go so my pants still fit” stage.

Handy Husband and I used to go running together. Then he decided to be a show-off and run 6-minute miles. I’d have to purposefully not tie my shoelaces very well in the hope that I’d have a legitimate excuse to stop running sprinting like the Hook Man was chasing me.

Handy Husband had a birthday recently and I didn’t know what to get him. I’m supposed to be the creative one, so it wasn’t lost on me that in a moment of desperation I said we’d go on a family trail run. He LOVES trail runs and thought a family trail run would be an epic way to celebrate his birthday. So epic.

I figured I could keep up with an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old, so it wouldn’t be like a pity run. I’d have a legitimate excuse for going my normal speed…my shoelaces came untied the kids!

We started off on the trail and while everyone else hiked, we ran. It was a beautiful day and the kids needed plenty of drink breaks. I do love those kids.

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I should have known there would be some danger involved when my son insisted on wearing his swim shorts on the trail run. At some point during the run the trail ended at a raging creek. If we wanted to keep going, we had to walk across a pipe that was probably 8-feet off the water. I don’t know how deep the water was because this was a muddy Georgia creek, but it looked deep. It also looked like a nice home for alligators.

Taking dangerous bodily risks is not high on my priority list since ever having children. That should tell you how motivated I was by laziness that I decided to cross over the pipe instead of doubling back because I didn’t want to lengthen our trail run.

My husband insisted we hold the kids’ hands while crossing the pipe as the current was moving swiftly. I sure hoped my 8-year-old would be able to pull me back up if I slipped.

Imagine my surprise when 5 minutes later we had to walk back across the creek on a different pipe to continue following the “short” trail back to the car. The water was much calmer here, as was I, so we stopped for a picture.

I’m seriously considering wearing bunny ears while running. It seems like it really helps.

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My son was so disappointed that we didn’t fall off the pipe and into the creek that we took him to a different creek later in the day so he could play in the water.

Thank goodness that log was in the water so the kids could reenact our epic trail run.

Except in their version someone always fell off into the pit of alligators.

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Playing in the creek is one of my children’s favorite things to do.

Because it would be too easy to walk down to the water via the trail 5 steps away…this happened. Over and over.

Don’t worry, the perspective makes it look way more dangerous than it was.

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So, that’s my version of what happened that one time I went for a trail run.

Next year, I think I’ll just get my husband a new tie for his birthday. I’m sure he’d be happy with that.

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How to Crew for an UltraMarathon Runner

“He’s a beast!”

“Is he crazy?”

“Oh, I KNOW he’s a special kind of crazy to do that.”

“I wouldn’t even drive that far!”

These are all things people said to me about my husband running an ultramarathon. An ultramarathon is any distance over a traditional marathon of 26.2 miles.

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To which I replied:

Yes. Yes he is.

Probably.

You seem to know a lot about crazy.

Neither would I.

Here’s the deal. All ultramarathons are different. In some way, shape or form that runner is going to need support. There’s the practical stuff: food, supplies, medical, transportation. There’s also the intangible stuff like providing emotional support. Sometimes they need a cheerleader, sometimes they need a drill sergeant. You can probably guess which one I’m good at.

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Last year my husband ran a 69-mile ultramarathon in Oregon called Barrel to Keg. Barrel to Keg is actually designed as a team race, but they allow solo teams. 4 solo runners registered. 1 didn’t show up. 1 didn’t finish. 2 did finish with vastly different times. Thankfully, (I think) my husband was one of the finishers.

At the end of it, I was proud of my husband’s accomplishment, but I hope he never  ever ever wants to do it again. It. was. brutal. For all of us.

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Here are some things I learned about crewing for an ultra marathon runner.

What Food to Pack for the Runner
This is going to depend on your runner, but pack more than you think you will need and provide lots of options. The runner’s tastebuds are going to change the longer they are on the course. Whatever you do pack needs to be easily digestible and easily eaten on-the-run.

At each aid station/meeting point, I would offer my husband a snack and a fresh water bottle. Depending on the runner, they might only be stopping for a few minutes (it is a race after all), so having everything ready to go was important.

We packed:
boiled and cubed sweet potatoes with brown sugar
energy bars
bananas
oranges
apples
blueberries
salt tablets – taken as needed to replace salt in system
string cheese
jerky
yogurt
peanut butter jelly sandwiches

There was also that time toward mile 57 where I finally found a convenience store and procured their only jar of pickles because my husband was craving the salt from the pickle juice. He drank it straight from the jar and said it tasted like unicorn blood.

Okie dokie.

Then he passed the jar around to complete strangers who all took a swig and then bumped chests. Like I said, taste buds start to go wacky during an ultra – maybe the brain too.

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What Drinks to Pack
Water (and water bottles) – lots and lots of water
Ice – lots and lots of ice
Sports drinks such as Gatorade
Some sort of caffeinated beverage

Even if your runner doesn’t normally drink caffeine, at some point in the race, they might really crave the boost from a Coke or an iced coffee. Just don’t let them pound caffeine the entire time – that’s bad.

What Clothing to Pack
My husband was running a race where there would be pavement and gravel roads, so he packed regular running shoes and trail shoes. He also packed two pairs of each shoe – just in case.

Multiple changes of socks are a must. My husband changed his socks every 15 miles or so. He prefers these Drymax Hyper Thin Socks or these Drymax Trail Socks that we order on Amazon.

Take my advice, have a bag you can seal those stinky suckers in because 10 hours of smelling sweaty socks in a hot car is enough to make you want to run your own ultramarathon – far away from the smell.

We did have extra shirts, running shorts and compression gear, but ended up not using those. To that end, I honestly did not know if I would be able to get his clothes clean after the race. There were white lines everywhere on his clothes from where the salt of his sweat had dried. A little lot of Oxiclean and they were as good as new.

Depending on the time of year, you runner will need to be dressed and prepared for the weather during your race. We didn’t have to worry about rain gear, but my husband did use sunglasses, a hat and of course, reflective safety gear.

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Other Essentials to Have on Hand for the Runner
1. Chafe Prevention. I don’t care who you are. If you are running an ultra, you need something to prevent chafing. Seriously. I probably saw half a dozen guys who were running a little funny because of crotch chafing – there’s no gentle way to say that. I’m sure it hurts a lot worse than it looks.

I also saw some bleeding nipples. And, honey, that’s just not right.

Compression shorts and shirts help with this, but take it a step further. Please. For the love of the nipples, encourage your runner to use something like Bodyglide on his/her nipples, crotch and even feet. There are other products out there too. This is just the one my husband likes and he did not experience chafing. Phew. Too much information?

2. Cooling neck wrap. I wish I would have thought to bring one of these. We ended up borrowing one from one of the other teams. It was a lifesaver for my husband on a blistering hot day with no shade on the course. This one one Amazon is similar to the one we borrowed. I just threw it in with our ice to “refresh” it.

3. Sunscreen. Your runner is going to be focused on how much time they’ve been on the course, but not on how much sun they’ve been getting while there. Make sure you keep track of when the runner last applied sunscreen and when it is time to reapply – they aren’t going to remember. Recovering from an ultramarathon is tough enough – no need to add a sunburn on top of everything else.

4. First Aid Supplies. There will likely be ambulance and first aid kits at various check points along the ultramarathon route, but it’s good to be prepared with a basic first aid kit. I also included supplies to treat blisters, ibuprofen and tylenol, and bug spray.

How the Crew Spends His/Her Time
My husband estimated the race would take him approximately 12 hours. I was to drive from check point to check point. I’d record his time, refill his water bottles, offer a snack and brief him on what to expect for the next leg of the race.

I figured I’d have a lot of downtime, so I brought a book.

I ended up not even picking it up. Yes, there’s a lot of time spent waiting, but there’s also camaraderie along the route. I ended up cheering on the other runners and chatting with other crews and race staff.

I also spent a lot of time looking at my watch, estimating the time my husband should arrive. If he was slower or faster than I estimated, it was a clue as to how he was feeling and what he might be needing in the way of support.

Since my husband was running from Point A to Point B, each leg of his race was a little bit different. At the end of each leg, I’d prep him for the next one and we’d talk strategy. How long it would be, if there were hills, was he going to walk a portion of this leg, etc.

When I did have cell service, I’d give social media/text updates to the friends and family supporting my husband from home (or the finish line).

As the race wore on, particularly after mile 50, I realized I couldn’t drive 5 miles ahead and wait for him any longer. My husband had a dehydration scare (kidney failure is real, folks) and I needed to check on him much more often – every mile or 2.

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What I Learned as the Crew
I was much more invested in my husband’s success (i.e. completion of the race) than I had ever been before because I was there traveling each mile with him and helping him along the way.

Crewing for an ultramarathoner is a strangely intimate and emotional experience. You’ll wear many hats – cheerleader, mother hen, drill sergeant, coach, first aid administrator. You’ll discuss really personal things – the color of one’s pee, for instance. You’ll be rolling down your car windows and driving with your head stuck out the side because the runner’s shoes smell so bad.

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When the runner says they are going to quit, you have to decide if they really need to quit or if they need a kick in the pants to keep going. At some point around mile 62 my husband told me he decided he was going to finish the raise. What the what? I smiled brightly and said, “sure you are! You’ve got this! Go get em’ tiger!” Okay, I didn’t say tiger. What I was really thinking was…

“Oh, really? You just now decided with 7 miles to go that you are going to finish? WE knew that WE were going to finish the raise when WE got up at 4 a.m. to drive to the start line. I’m glad you finally got the memo because WE are definitely finishing this raise if I have to drag you over the finish line myself.”

Like I said, this experience can get kind of emotional.

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After the Race: Runner’s Recovery
Your crew job doesn’t end once the race is over – at least it doesn’t if you live with the runner.

Once the runner finally sits down after the race – you might not get them back up for awhile! So keep that in mind when they finally cross the finish line.

Their muscles are going to protest big time, so try to avoid stairs immediately following the race. Definitely have ice on hand for that first night following the race because they are going to feel every single ache as their body recuperates.

I was up off and on that first night checking on my husband, switching out ice packs, etc. It was a wee bit exhausting, but hey, I guess running an ultramarathon is a wee bit exhausting too.

Was it Worth It?
I’m glad I crewed for my husband’s ultramarathon for a variety of reasons. It was the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance for him and I’m happy I witnessed just how strong he is firsthand.

I didn’t realize going into it how demanding his race needs would be. Naive on my part, I guess. If something went wrong during the race he could end up in the hospital. He’s the love of my life and the father of my children, so I’m glad I didn’t trust someone else to look out for my husband’s welfare. Being his crew was definitely worth it in that regard.

Do I want him to do it again? Absolutely not. It’s a huge time commitment not just on race day, but also in training. It’s hard on the runner’s body and in my book, he has nothing to prove. That being said, I will happily support him should he choose to run down this crazy road again. I’m just going to hope and pray that he never wants to do it again!

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Labor Day

We’ve had a long 4-day weekend.

We did some of this…

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But, I promise, the only one who passed out on the floor was this one.

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I’m going to soak up one more day off with our happy little family and be back to our regularly scheduled awesomeness on Wednesday. I’ve been doing some crafting and can’t wait to share it with you all!

P.S. If you are interested in the kids’ Berg pedal cars, we got them on Amazon and LOVE them.

P.S.S. The green blanket is the Chamois Stroller Blanket from Pottery Barn and it’s my go-to for baby presents.

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I Tried It: Mineral Salt Deodorant

Aren’t you glad I do these things?

Like try a deodorant and then tell you how it worked?

Or have you already run for the hills?

I promise I don’t smell that bad. I guess you’ll have to trust me on this one.

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So, my husband, who never shops for toiletries, decided earlier this year to order this $7-ish stick of deodorant because it was going to be SO MUCH cheaper than ALL the deodorant he uses.

Since anti-perspirant/deodorant magically appears in his bathroom drawer, I think he thought he was using a stick a month or something. I assure you, he does not.

But, he was right. It’s possible that this would be a whopping $8 or $9 cheaper. Per year. We’re going after the BIG savings people.

I told him if he wants to save that much, he could just buy one fewer 6-pack. Bada-bing, bada-boom! Savings! He doesn’t appreciate my humor as much as I appreciate my humor!

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Well, when he ordered this stick of deodorant, he still had deodorant to use up, so it sat in the drawer. Oh, the savings irony.

Then I ran out of deodorant.

So, I tried it.

As the label says, Crystal Body Deodorant Stick is a natural deodorant option made from alum, a mineral salt. The mineral salts form a barrier on the skin that creates an unfriendly environment for bacteria. The bacteria is what makes you smell when you sweat.

For me, I found it worked well on light-activity days. You know, when I wasn’t working out. If it was one of my running days and it was 90 degrees outside, forget about it. Regular anti-perspirant worked better for that.

The salt stick does have to be a little moist, otherwise it will tug on your skin a little when applying it. You can wet the stick with a little bit of water.

I decided 3 months was long enough for this little experiment. Despite all the pros of the mineral salt deodorant, I decided to go back to my old stand-by, Dry Idea. My full activity days outnumber by light activity days, so it made sense for me.

This is just my experience, so I have no idea how it works for other people. However, Crystal Deodorant does get 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so it’s working great for a lot of folks and may be worth a try!

Aren’t you happy you read this whole post? And I even managed to do it without saying “armpit” once!

P.S. The Crystal deodorant people have no clue who I am. You can learn more about their products on their site though.

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Blogilates

As I sit down to write this post, my abs are on fire. Not literally, of course, but they are burning with exertion. It’s that good kind of pain…just don’t make me laugh tomorrow.

Ready to know why? (I know one of you wise guys is out there saying, “nope, not really!”)

I just finished an itty-bitty, 6-minute Pilates video on YouTube. Six. Minutes. That’s all it took. You’d think it was my first time working out, but no.

Now, generally speaking, I’m in pretty decent shape. I run 3 days a week and ride the bike 2 days a week. That’s not bragging, it’s just that exercise is pretty much part of my lifestyle now. It wasn’t that way in my 20s, but  I wised up! This does not mean that I have a model’s body. Not even close. I have areas I’d definitely like to improve on. That cellulite on my saddlebags? Yeah. That’s been mocking me for years. I think I was born with it, that’s how long I’ve had it. My parents didn’t call me “Thunder Thighs” as a baby for nothing, folks!

Late last year I decided I was in an exercise rut and needed to do something extra to work on my strength. So I jumped on YouTube and looked for some exercise videos. Remembering a friend who is a Pilates Instructor and her annoying lack of cellulite, I decided to see if any of those videos were available. That’s when I stumbled on Blogilates.


The instructor’s name is Cassey Ho and she’s built a little exercise empire for herself at the wee age of 28. What I like about her is that she’s super positive and upbeat, but pushes you to the max. She is talking through all of these exercises that I can’t even do with perfect form yet! This chick is STRONG! It’s pretty impressive.


Cassey places a lot of emphasis in her videos on being strong of not just body, but mind and spirit too. It’s a super positive message – especially for teens and young adults. There are times that she chats about things like nail polish, but considering that I’m probably not her primary target market, that’s okay. She’s really just trying to keep your mind off the fact that she’s asking you to do one million reps of a certain move and that your muscles are quivering and about ready to collapse. 🙂


I think all of us ladies, whether we are 16 or 76, need to be reminded that we are “enough” just as we are, that we should love our bodies and that we can do anything we set our minds out to do. From what I can tell, Cassey is a good role model in that area.

In my limited experience, pilates seems to be a way of doing exercises using your own body as resistance. In its simplest form, think creative variations on sit-ups and push-ups. No equipment is needed. I don’t even wear shoes!


With a few vacation exceptions, I’ve been picking a different video to do 5 days a week. Most of them are super short – between 6 and 15 minutes. There are some 20 – 25 minutes videos though if you want a longer workout. I don’t know that I’ve lost any cellulite, but I’m definitely feeling and using my muscles in a way that running and biking don’t address.

My husband even did one of the arm workouts with me and I cringed when she was doing a push-up and asked what color of nail polish everyone was wearing. I thought my husband might quit then! However, he didn’t and when we were done he said nonchalantly, “that was pretty good.” He was totally sweating, folks. That video kicked his behind too! (This “Sleek Tank Top Arms” video below is the one the hubby did with me.)


It make me pretty happy to feel my muscles getting stronger and to just challenge my body in different ways. While it is easier said than done, I think a mama taking time to focus on her health is an important component for a happy home. Plus, it is a great example for your kids. This is one time that the saying “monkey see, monkey do” actually works in your favor!

 

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