Tag Archives: trail run

Slush and Mud

In case you didn’t know, St Louis got quite a lot of snow this past Sunday! I’ve been told the official measurement at the airport was 13 inches, although some areas got as many as 16! Β Regardless of the exact amount, snow on the ground turns running into a whole new ball game.

I’m not one of those maniacs hard-core runners who sees that a blizzard is coming in and decides it’s the perfect time to tie on the running shoes and head outside. No. When I hear there’s snow coming – be it 3 inches or 13 – I start to plan what kind of delicious foods I will enjoy on my warm couch while watching a movie…in my warm house. (cue popcorn and chocolate)

The day the snow arrives, and usually the day after, I take to the treadmill to knock out my miles. I’m not particularly fond of treadmills (except for speedwork) because I get incredibly bored after .3 miles, but it’s better than twisting my ankle on a patch of ice or face-planting in front my neighbor’s house. Desperate times call for desperate measures – and for me that means the treadmill.

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Sunny Day at Forest Park

Monday morning, with somewhere between 10-13 inches of snow outside, I headed to the basement and completed 4 miles of HIIT.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to sunshine and seemingly warmer temperatures. I debated about whether or not the snow would have melted off my favorite running paths by now, and decided to chance it. I was heading to Clayton for a meeting that morning so I threw my running clothes in the backseat and headed over to Forest Park when I was done.

Although I did encounter some pond-sized puddles at several points, most of the 6-mile outer loop was clear – at least from snow and ice. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a run. I listened to a couple podcasts as I made my way around the park, and debated a short stop at the zoo as I passed it. I wish I lived just a little closer to Forest Park because I would definitely run there more often!

Gorgeous View at Queeny Park

Gorgeous View at Queeny Park

Wednesday, I decided to venture to yet another park and test my luck on its more “primitive” path. Sure enough, it was clear of most of the snow, but lots of slush and mud remained. My favorite. πŸ˜‰ As I made my way around the loop, and noticed my shoes getting more and more soaked, I realized that running in mud and slush can actually be quite enjoyable. Or, maybe not enjoyable, as much as adventurous.

Something about hopping over puddles and strategically trying to avoid large patches of slush makes me feel like I could conquer the world. For a moment, I forget I’m 5 minutes from my house, at a small park in the middle of the suburbs, and instead I’m just out in nature, trying to survive keep my shoes as dry as possible.

There’s something satisfyingΒ about finishing a run, panting and sweating, and looking down to see mud caked all over your shins and shoes. Usually this is accompanied by soaked socks – which can be annoyingly chilling – but then I remember that I’m just a few minutes from home…complete with hot tea, dry socks, and a warm shower.

Happy Running!

Footprints in the snow

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Brownies are the Way to Anyone’s Heart…

It’s no secret in my family that I love to bake. And I love having excuses to bake.

This semester, I’m doing the “young adults” group at my church, which is on Thursday evenings. So, when our table leader asked for a volunteer to bring snacks for the next week, my hand shot up with record speed. Like I said, I love having excuses to bake. πŸ˜›

After taking a poll from the table, it became obvious that the majority wanted something chocolate. Surprise, surprise? So, I decided on some good ol’ homemade brownies. I didn’t want to just make box-mix brownies, though, so I set out on a search for a delicious from-scratch brownie recipe. Two hours of google-ing later, I finally found a winner, and the baking commenced:

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These brownies turned out perfectly! I didn’t actually try one of them because I really try to avoid gluten for my health and wellbeing, but EVERYONE that had one could not stop raving about them.

The key to brownies is making sure you cook them just enough that they’re not raw, but not long enough that they become crisp and overdone. Everyone seems to agree that moist brownies are the best – and these definitely fit the bill!

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One of the girls at our table follows the Paleo way of eating, so I decided to find a “Paleo brownie” recipe to make for her. That wasn’t hard to do, and I ended up making these Sweet Potato Brownies from a great Paleo blog I found. <—if you eat Paleo, this is a great resource for recipes!

Don’t be turned away by seeing the words “sweet potato” and “brownie” in the same recipe. I promise, you can’t taste the sweet potatoes at all. The sweet potato is used in place of flour and sugar and gives the brownie the perfect consistency and sweetness.

I DID try (several) of these brownies and they were amazing. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of them, so you’ll just have to imagine how delicious they were…

The brownies were perfect kickoff to a fun weekend, which I spent largely watching hockey and football with my brother and acting like I know which teams are good and all of that. πŸ˜‰

I do follow football (somewhat) but I’m completely lost when it comes to hockey. I know the basic rules and strategy of the game, but that’s about it. I’ve discovered that i can appear pretty knowledgable, though, by inserting the occasional comment here and there…such as: “How did he not make that shot?!” and “What an awesome block!” etc, etc. πŸ˜›

Somewhere in between hockey games on Saturday, I got the crazy idea to arm wrestle my brother, which didn’t end too well for me. Well, it never does. About every 6 months, I challenge him to an arm wrestling match, as if I actually think I’ll be able to beat him this time. Hah. Who am I kidding? He’s a buff, 18 year old guy who’s always down in the basement, grunting and groaning as he benches, squats, and deadlifts insane amounts of weight. I’m kind of jealous, not going to lie. πŸ˜‰

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After being sufficiently humiliated in the arm wrestling match, I headed to the gym and had a great 5 mile run on the treadmill. I felt bad for not running outside and enjoying the beautiful weather on Saturday, but by the time I was heading out, it was almost dark. I’m ready for longer days, please! No more of this getting dark at 5pm business.

Sunday, after church, I headed back to Lone Elk Park for another adventurous trail run! It was a chilly 20-something degrees, but the sun kept it from being miserable. This time I took the trail in another direction at one of the forks, and instead of taking me into Castlewood Park, I ran along the Meremac River and toward West Tyson Park. I’d never heard of this West Tyson Park before, but apparently if I’d kept running long enough, it would have taken me all the way there! I wasn’t looking for a crazy long run, though, so I kept my roundtrip to about 6 miles and got a great workout from jumping over all the roots and rocks along the way.

I was excited to visit this trail again without the slush, snow and ice I encountered last time, but for some reason the trail was STILL really muddy! I squelched my way through and ended up with some pretty muddy shoes by the end.

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After my run, I drove around the park to see some of the elk, and got pretty close to a couple of them:

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So far, the week is off to a great start…
This morning I woke up and just felt like it was one of those days that I needed to put a little extra effort into breakfast. I took my time deciding what I wanted, and ended up using some cubed chicken out of the freezer for my base. I stir-fried the chicken with some veggies and ate it alongside a few eggs. Everything was topped with avocado, which I’ve been eating like crazy these days. Avocados are a great source of healthy Omega-3 fat, as well as potassium and protein.

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(sorry for the blurry picture…I was in a rush to taste this before it got cold!)

I’m off to enjoy the rest of this day! I hope you’re enjoying it too!

Refreshed

My 2013 started off right with a fun visit from my friend Alyse! She lives in Minnesota and came in town for a conference on the 27th. After the conference ended, she came to stay at my house for a few days! I picked her up at her hotel on New Years Day and it was such a great reunion! Alyse and I met back in 2008 on a mission trip to Nicaragua…I had just graduated high school and she was going into her junior year. That’s the same mission trip where I met my friend Amy, and she and I became best friends because of that summer.

We had a lot of fun together while Alyse was in town…lots of girl talk, chocolate, giggling, Starbucks, and a chilly walk in the snow!

Alyse and I:

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Blurry iPhone picture taken by a fellow Starbucks patron:

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And of course, the Beagle had to join us on our walk:

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Alyse headed back to Minnesota on Friday morning and the rest of my weekend was pretty low-key! I had a friend over on Friday afternoon to hang out before she headed back to college, and Saturday I joined some friends for a chili dinner and the Packers game. I’m not a Packers fan, per se, but these friends are diehard fans from Wisconsin, so it was fun to watch the game with them!

On Sunday I woke up in the mood for a trail run so I got on my All Trails app and discovered a new-to-me park that was just minutes from my church. I packed up my running clothes before heading out to the late morning service, and threw in a couple Larabars since I’m always ravenous after church! I made it to the park at around 12:45 and found the trail without too much trouble.

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I’d never run on the Chubb Trail before, and it was not exactly the best day for a trail run because of the melting snow going on here in St Louis! The trail was still icy in many parts and the rest of it was slushy and muddy. It definitely made it feel like more of an adventure, though! I love muddy runs for some odd reason, so I was perfectly content. πŸ™‚ I took the Chubb Trail down into a beautiful valley, where I crossed some railroad tracks and found myself in Castlewood Park:

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I ran through a gorgeous, sunny field before the trail headed back into the woods.

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I love trail runs for many reasons, but largely because they bring me back to the FUN of running! It’s so easy for me to get focused on the STATS of my running – distance, pace, miles logged – instead of just enjoying the ability and opportunity to run. Trail runs make me feel like a little kid again, exploring the woods just like I did when I was 10. πŸ™‚ Trail runs remind me to enjoy the beauty of nature instead of focusing on my “workout” all the time. And I always do my trail runs without my ipod so I can listen to the rustling of the wind and the cracking branches in the woods as I run. It’s cheesy, I know, but I LOVE being outside so much and I wish I did more of it. Trail runs are one way I stop (figuratively, haha) and enjoy the beauty of it all.

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My blurry phone photos don’t do it justice.

I also got to run alongside the Meremac River for a little bit, which was fun! I loved all the different scenery I got to witness on this trail.

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Needless to say, by the time I made it back to my car, my shoes – and legs – were covered in mud! It was well worth it, though, as I drove home with a refreshed and happy heart.

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Trail runs are so good for the soul. πŸ™‚