Giddy on the high that was Grand Teton, we headed north into America’s first and most visited national park: Yellowstone.
Truthfully, Yellowstone is everything you have ever heard about and more. It is epic, vast, and otherworldly. There are times when you honestly believe you must be on another planet. For example, Mammoth Hot Springs felt like we were on the set of a post apocalyptic, sci-fi movie. We tried to imagine what the first people who explored this land must have thought. The indigenous people considered the land sacred. And it is said that when white explorers returned to their homes with tales of what they had seen, no one believed their stories of boiling mud pits and explosions of water and steam erupting from the very earth. This is in no way surprising.
When Logan and I were married in the fall of 2018, our original plan was to honeymoon in Italy in the spring of 2019. But as spring rolled around, we found ourselves still reeling from all the major life changes that occurred in 2018. So, we decided to postpone our honeymoon for a year. Then of course came COVID-19 and international travel became a no-go for the foreseeable future.
As the horn blasted and everyone took off running, my main thought was: “Shit! I have to pee already!”
Just minutes prior, as I had entered the starting corral after what I thought would be a brilliantly timed bathroom visit, I had semi-jokingly declared that this was going to happen. I either know myself too well or this was the worst kind of self actualization.
Too late to analyze my strategic failings now because, after months of training and years of delays, I was running the Twin Cities Marathon.
This last weekend was the longest run of my marathon training. This was my “dress rehearsal,” in which I ran 22.5 miles, mostly at my intended marathon pace of 8-minute miles, with intermittent breaks at a slower pace. I have three weeks until the big day and I am officially in the “taper” portion of my training, which is a gradual lowering of my miles so that my body feels fresh by the time I enter the starting corral. I figured this would be a good time to check in about how my training has been going.
Overall things have been going pretty well, but I definitely had a couple of learning moments. Particularly, I have learned to pay attention to nutrition/hydration on my long runs and have really leaned into the benefits of a slow recovery run.
Ever since I ran my first half marathon in 2018, I have had big plans for running the Twin Cities Marathon. Then, of course, life got in the way. In 2019, I had my hernia repair surgery and in 2020, society collapsed. So here we are in 2021 and I am (finally) registered to run my first marathon.
This past fall, because all other vacation plans were crushed by the pandemic, Britt and I decided to take a trip to Badlands National Park. I love National Parks but have never planned a full trip around one. As part of our preparations, I recalled that visitors to parks could keep track of their travels with a passport. Visiting more National Parks has long been a goal, so I decided to look further into this.
With COVID-19 came the cancellation of almost all of our planned adventures in 2020. California? Cancelled. Canada? Cancelled. Walt Disney World? Cancelled. That last one hurt the most. Partly because it was to be my first ever WDW experience, but also because it was planned almost a year in advance for February (right about now). The moment we grudgingly and mournfully pulled the plug on that trip it finally sunk in that we would be in this pandemic for the long haul.
2020 was a rough year for all sorts of in-person events and road racing was no different. After recovering from a surgery and doing last year’s Securian Winter Run 10k, I had a big year planned that was meant to culminate in running my first marathon in October. Alas, in March came the first delays and then the eventual cancellations. Race entries already purchased were converted to virtual races with small discounts for the next year.
2021 is looking more promising but it is a very different landscape. Many popular spring races have been rescheduled for fall. Others are still playing it safe and simply going virtual for another year. Out of the wreckage, some race directors have gotten creative and reimagined what races look like.
I have now been camping three times and am officially a fan! I still maintain the fundamental need for toilets and running water, but as long as I have some version of that, I’m confident I will survive the excursion.
In keeping with what we hope will become an annual tradition, we embarked on another Labor Day weekend camping trip with our dear friends, Ruthann and Dan – and this time, River tagged along as well. This year, we explored Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth, and Cascade River State Park between Lutsen and Grand Marais on the North Shore.
You may have noticed that getting River basically signaled the end of our writing. This is pretty representative of what our summer was like. Essentially, we have been spending all of our free time with the dog and when we do get some time to ourselves it is primarily spent not moving and being thankful for a break.