Christmas day run

I always feel so much better about myself if I can manage to shake off the sloth of the winter holiday season with an invigorating run around the neighborhood on Christmas day.

Because I don’t so much enjoy exercise in and of itself, I need to add a little something to liven up the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other slog that running sometimes becomes.

The perfect accessories on Christmas day: a Santa or elf hat, and jingle bells.

It’s so much fun to smile and wave to the (usually motorists) we pass!

This year’s Christmas day run was a warm one, with temps maxing out near 50 degrees in central Illinois, where we were visiting family.

2015 christmas run

Thanks to “Uncle Disco” for taking our photo.

Here are a couple more memories from Christmas runs past:

2014 christmas run

Our 2014 Christmas Day run, also in central Illinois, was on another sunny 50-degree day.

2013: no run due to illness.

2012 christmas run

At home in 2012, we ran through Christmas Day temperatures in the mid teens.

2011: did the run in central Illinois in 40-degree temps, but no photographic evidence exists.

IMG_3889

In Scottsbluff in 2010, a frosty Christmas day run in 20-degree temps, and the first year of this tradition.

Do you have a Christmas fitness tradition? I’d love to hear about it!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

I’ve already taken it upon myself to do blog posts about the highlights of the Monument Marathon course (in 2012, the first year of the race) and a mile-by-mile accounting of the course (in 2013). What more can I do to persuade people that the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska is The Place To Be?

How about a Top Ten list?

OK, here are:

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

10. Unique division awards.

If you are fast enough to win a division award (and your chances are better here, with a smaller race field), you don’t get a generic plaque – you get a piece of original artwork from a western Nebraska artist! Photographer Rick Myers and painter Yelena Khanevskaya have been lending their talents to the race these past few years. Here are some examples of their work that have portions of the race course as their subject:

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page.

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page. Both the full and half marathon participants will run on this road through Mitchell Pass.

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many available on her website yelena-khanevskaya.squarespace.com

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many on her website. This view is of Mitchell Pass from the opposite direction of Rick Myers’ photo.

9. Convenience.

The race Expo and pre-race pasta feed is at the Gering Civic Center, just blocks from the race site.  There is ample, free parking at the race finish at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Half marathoners start and finish right there at the amphitheater. Full marathoners get a free shuttle bus to the race start and gear drop service. It’s easy to find your way around this small community, and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the major gateway cities of Denver, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

8. History.

You will literally be running in the footsteps of westbound pioneers, as portions of the full and half marathon courses traverse the Oregon Trail, near where Mark Twain encountered a Pony Express rider. You will pass the gates of two neighboring history museums as well: Legacy of the Plains Museum and the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center at Scotts Bluff National Monument (the latter is a National Park site, so if you have a National Park passport, you can add another stamp to your collection!).

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

7. Field size.

The Monument Marathon is a small race, with around 500 participants total between the full and half marathon courses. You won’t have to worry about elbowing your way through a crowded field.

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn't even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn’t even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

6. Unique race swag.

Each participant will receive a wicking race shirt and a swag bag, which in past years has included such goodies as a bag of locally-grown beans and a cookbook. Your participant medal is shaped like the state of Nebraska and, because we are practical folk, your medal can also be used as a bottle opener. The design of the race medal changes every year – collect them all!

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

5. Charity.

Your registration dollars help support a good cause. Unlike so many marathons and half marathons these days that are operated by commercial interests, the Monument Marathon is coordinated by community organizations and volunteers in support of the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation. The Monument Marathon has helped to raise $150,000 for scholarships.

Here's a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

Here’s a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

4. Tourism opportunities.

While there are plenty of attractions to visit while you are here, the area remains off the beaten path, so you don’t have to fight the crowds. See here for my personal list of Top 10 Reasons to Come to Western Nebraska. See here for official Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau information, here for Gering tourism info, and here for information about the wider western Nebraska area.

There's no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here's the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

There’s no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here’s the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

3. The scenery.

People who have never been here before sometimes don’t believe it, but there is some seriously gorgeous topography out this way.

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one - it's a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one – it’s a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

2. Top-notch organization.

The Monument Marathon is a well-organized affair, with numerous experienced runners on the race crew and a professional timing company to assist with the chip-timed race. The entire community is involved and invested in the race, which means we have great coordination with local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, and transportation officials. (Case in point: The local Nebraska Department of Roads project manager made sure to include a stipulation in their summer highway construction contract to ensure that roads will be open for race – without the race director even having to ask them to!)

Community EMS volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know? There is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMS radio communication.

Community EMT volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know there is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMT radio communication?

1. Small-town hospitality.

Western Nebraska is the kind of place where residents will greet you with genuine friendliness. We tend to go out of our way to make sure you have a good experience so you will tell your friends about us and come back for a repeat visit yourself. Hundreds of community volunteers will assist and cheer for you on race day. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of course volunteers and cheerleaders.

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn't dissuade this racing fan!

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn’t dissuade this racing fan!

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful course marshals / race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

If you don’t quite trust the wonderful things I’m saying about the Monument Marathon (yeah, I’m a bit biased, since I’m on the planning crew), check out the reviews and blog posts from runners who have actually run the race.

Sign up today! You’ll make the race director’s heart happy. 🙂

Pointy tortilla chips get me out the door

Yesterday, I’d decided that Juneathon the 6th would be a running day.

This afternoon was warm and muggy, and I began to have second thoughts about a run. Not long before it was time for me to head home from work, a stiff breeze delivered some cool, dry air that settled into relative calm. Perfect for running!

Still, I found it hard to get my butt off the couch once I got home.

I ‘ll just read one more news story. Oh, the cat needs attention. Aren’t there any new posts in my social media stream?

I looked across the room at Bugman, who was eating tortilla chips out of the bag while watching a cooking show. (He biked to work today. Already got his exercise in.)

“If I’m going to go for a run today, I should really get going.”

“Yep,” Bugman said.

Long pause. I wasn’t moving.

“Maybe if you point at me accusingly . . .”

Bugman interrupted his chip-bag-to-mouth trajectory to aim an index finger and a stern look in my direction. The tortilla chips clutched in his remaining fingers made the gesture rather ridiculous, and I laughed.

Laughter – just the thing I needed to propel me off the couch! Thanks, dear. (He knows me so well!)

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

First real summer run

“I’m going for a run,” Bugman said this morning.

I’m so glad he did.

At the time, I was sitting in my p.j.s, sipping coffee and dillydallying on the computer. Birdsong was floating into the room via the cool, gentle morning breeze from the windows. I had vague notions about going for a run. Sometime … later …

If Bugman had not led by example, I probably would not have run at all.

I was finally motivated to make my seasonal wardrobe exchange.

I keep out-of-season workout clothes, other than a few items for unseasonable or change-of-season weather, in a tub on a high shelf in my closet. Because I’ve not been running much, most of my short-sleeved running shirts and shorts were still in storage.

Short-sleeved shirts piled on the bed, cold-weather gear stacked in the storage tub. (The quilt on my bed was made from years worth of running shirts from my time in Iowa.)

Short-sleeved shirts piled on the bed, cold-weather gear stacked in the storage tub. (The quilt on my bed was made from years worth of running shirts from my time in Iowa.)

It was around 70 degrees when I headed out. I passed a craft fair and chided myself for not thinking to take money with me on my run. The sno-cone truck was at the fair! I so love a sno-cone after a run – especially a run that leaves me with that sandy-skin feeling of evaporated perspiration (I really do like running in this dry climate!).

Instead, I had a splash of coconut water. I know coconut water has been over-hyped, but somehow, on some occasions, it feels REALLY GOOD to drink some. Surely, it was better for me than a sno-cone.coconut waterGet your coconut water. Man, it’s good for your daughter. Coco got a lot of iron. Make you strong like a lion. Raowr!

Left me feeling on top of the world. (Or on top of the deck-badly-in-need-of-refinishing, anyway.)on top of the worldCopyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Work-day running

It’s so hard for me to get work-day running right. It takes so much planning. It also sucks up my evening.

Need to time my eating just right so I am neither deliriously hungry (have to schedule in a snack before the run) nor full (can’t have dinner before running). Can’t run too late in the evening (I’d have trouble getting to sleep afterwards) or too early (I work).

Today, I got home from work, had a bowl of cold cereal for a snack, and went for my walk-run. Warmup before. Stretch afterwards.

So here I am, standing over my computer at the kitchen counter, eating cold baked beans with tortilla chips for dinner.

Mmmm yummy

Not real pretty, but it tastes OK.

I can have a home-cooked meal, or go for a run. I can’t manage both.

I now have just enough time to shower before it’s time to go to bed.

This running thing? Training? It’s hard. And I don’t have kids to take care of. I’m not training for Ironman or anything. I’m just trying to hack my lifestyle.

It’s hard.

Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

On the run again

For lack of a better photo for this post, here is a gratuitously cute photo of a baby pronghorn antelope running. (Photo taken July 2010.)

For lack of a better photo for this post, here is a gratuitously cute photo of a baby pronghorn antelope running – the only time I have ever seen a baby pronghorn. (Photo taken July 2010.)

The motivation came in a social media feed post. It was an article on getting back into running after a long hiatus. (I’d link to it, but I can’t find it.)

I’d stopped running in March when I overdid it and hurt my ankle getting back into running after a couple of months off. It’s time to get going again. I will need the fitness to conquer my biking goal this year (Cycle Greater Yellowstone).

The article suggested, among other things, taking it reeeeal sloooow with a run-walk start and ramping up the proportion of run to walk over time.

Yesterday, I did a little over 3 miles of run-walk. (Does that count on my yearly running total if I only ran part of it?)

I did not bring my phone because I did not want to get discouraged by the slow time I’d register on my running app.

I just ran. And then walked. And ran. And walked.

Today, my quads are surprisingly sore.

But the ankle is fine! (And knee! And hip!)

I just need to keep at it – pole-pole!

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

A day in the life of a runner

It started yesterday, with that nagging thought: “I should go for a run tomorrow.”

In the morning, it was too quiet. Must have snowed in the night.

Yup. Snow. Still snowing.

Forget it. I’ll run when it’s nicer out.

But . . . I have the time, I have the energy, I have the motivation. I’ve run in an ice pellet storm before. This gentle spring snow is nothing. A bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, and I’ll go!

Crunch of snow under running shoe. A distant train horn. The shhhhhhk as a car drives past on the slushy road. The buzzing whirr of the wind turbine at the high school weather station. A klatch of sparrows in the bushes. A gull cries overhead – they are migrating at the moment.

Mittens and jacket block the wind. Cap keeps snow out of the eyes and fends off low-hanging boughs. Trendy low-rise pants and a top cut for the board-straight physique of a “typical” runner conspire to bare flesh to the elements. I yank the clothing back into place.

Reverie. Things I need to do at work. Things I need to do at home. The could be and should have been and might not ever be.

A snow plow grinds by. I wave to the driver, working on a Saturday morning. He waves back.

Footprints in the snow. A cat. The shuffle of the kid who delivered the paper. A man’s heeled boot that crossed the street, went south a block, and crossed back again. Squirrel tracks that look like butterfly shapes. The footprints of another runner.

Will someone notice in my footprints the places where I stopped to walk, when my too-fast heartbeat, a medication side effect, became too much?

A red traffic light is a blessing, a breather. I give myself permission to walk when I need to – it’s my reward.

I recross my own footprints from earlier on the out-and-back route, nearly obliterated by the continued snowfall. Just like my fitness level, obliterated by months of inactivity. Ephemeral.

On the home stretch, a stab of pain in my ankle. I ignore it, try to adjust my stride.

I stop my GPS device. I feel good. Accomplished.

I stretch and massage my muscles.

But later in the day, the ankle pain comes back – shooting, electric. I can’t trust it to hold me up. When the pain comes, it makes my leg buckle.

It’s the same pain as last year, in the same place. Why is it back?

Stupid aging body.

Time to commit to the stationary bike and – ugh! – dull, boring, hateful calisthenics.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw