Spring break climbing trip (HP40, Stone Fort, the Red – March 2014)

At an overlook at sunset. (HP40)

The long-awaited (maybe) pictures and words from my spring break trip. Figured I should get these up before my next trip.

Before I get to the climbing bit, a precursor. We drove down in two cars – my little Neon and my friend’s mom’s SUV deal. We made pretty good time. By the time we were an hour away, it was about 8 or 9 at night. We decided to stop and get our groceries and gas. I pulled into the parking lot.

Except I didn’t. I somehow ran into and up onto a very, very tall curb. I thought I ripped of my transmission or something terrible. As it turned out, it was just a flat (still not great in the middle of Alabama at nine at night), but I had my spare, so we popped it on with a little difficulty, asked some very friendly locals about getting a tire, and I started to drive back down the road.

Less than a block later, the spare went flat. AGH.

By now, I was kicking myself mentally for being such a bad driver and ruining the night/trip and figured everyone would hate me, but pretty much everyone (just one exception) was ok – the “It’s a road trip, something has to go wrong” mentality prevailed. So while I called a tow and waited for it, they went and got food. The tow, of course, took about an hour and a half to find us, but that was ok because we were waiting for our friend to circle back and pick us up. Had he not decided to drive down (a) alone and (b) earlier than planned, we would have been stuck in Ft. Payne, AL for the night. So we finally made it – and still got there before the other car, somehow. (They had been loitering.)

Which brings us to…

HORSE PENS 40 – We were there for I think five days, got in lots of solid climbing and had just one day of rain (during which we drove half an hour to the nearest theatre to see the Lego Movie. Would recommend.) It was pretty warm – some days it got up to around 70 – and sunny. I got a few little runs in, too.

V3 on Panty Shields boulder, I believe. Ended in a megamantle.

Slabby slab slab.

Somewhere in the crag.

Somewhere else in the crag (just for those who haven’t been to get kind of an idea of the feel of the place).

Slopers ahoy

Dat deformation tho. (I went with a bunch of geology majors, so while I was going OOOH COOL ROCK THINGS they were too. I wasn’t the only one this time, yay!)

STONE FORT – We were here for just a day. Definitely need to go back, the rock is awesome and it’s a HUGE area. Highlight: exploring the little slot canyon and stemming up to the top – then back down.

Cool rock thing.

Square rock thing.

I didn’t do much climbing here, I felt more just like exploring around. Just played with some 2s and 3s. Watching our friend highball things was fun.

That deserves a mention, actually. So at the end of the day, a couple of us had scrambled up this rock thing to watch the sun begin to set and just hang out. We were up there talking when my friend looked over and saw our other friend about halfway up a 45 or 50 foot wall. Casual. About the same time, our friends on the ground noticed and went and got a triple mad and, almost comically, put it somewhere under him – as if that would make a difference were he to fall. But he didn’t, thankfully – topped out and sauntered back down the other side, no big deal. (There were some local kids hanging around too, and when we said our friend had just climbed that they didn’t believe us. Then he came around the side and joined us. One of the kids walked up and said, “That’s damn impressive, I’d like to shake your hand.” And he did.) So yes. I have good friends.

We drove straight from Stone Fort on to…


Which was covered in snow and ice. It was a long drive, and at night, and through steep winding mountain roads. About half an hour from Miguel’s, we finally saw a gas station and stopped. Out of the night, a huge friendly fluffy dog came up and befriended us for a few minutes. Then it was gone. I was so tired I wondered if it had been real. (It was.)

But we made it, set up camp late late late and slept like rocks.

The approach. Yeah, it was colder here. Sad.

So very icy.

Did I mention the ice? All day, we heard dull crashes, cracks, and thuds in the distance (and not so distant) from huge icicles breaking off and falling. We were warned before heading out – “Watch out for icicles.” They weren’t joking.


I tried leading for the first time. It was way more fun than normal top-roping.

And of course, we left the crag late and it was dark and cold by the time we headed for the cars. We had been in the shade for most of the day, and since there was ice and snow everywhere and I have bad circulation, my feet were not happy.

This is what happens to a foot in a cold wet shoe from 11 am to 10 pm. </p>
<p>We’re almost back to Ann Arbor. I’ll be looking through my hundreds of pictures tomorrow so I should have a few up then.</p>
<p>I’m tired and I love camping but once you’re headed back, a hot shower and a queen bed for you and your cat sounds damn nice.” width=”301″ height=”393″ /><br />
“How was your spring break?” “Oh, it was great. I climbed and also got trenchfoot.”</p>
<p>But we hiked back and made it fine. There were stars, stars in the sky. Then we got heavenly Miguel’s pizza and had a fine night. Headed out the next morning after stopping at an arch for a bit. Stopped outside Lexington, KY for our last road trip meal. And it was a doozy. Burger bar deal, but fancy – but not too expensive. So this is what I ate.</p>
<p><img src=
Portobello sandwich, sweet potato fries (all the sauces were made in-house), with…

Giant delicious milkshake. I tried tying the cherry stem with my tongue and got it on the second try. New skills!

Horse Pens 40, AL.

peace love and climbing,

PS. Tent pic. (Contrail.)

Black bean burgers that actually stick together, and shin woes.

I used this recipe plus an extra T each of flaxseed and water. Oh, and black beans instead of white.

So Friday I ran just half an hour in one of the parks right by campus. It has some actual hills. I am decidedly not in trail-hill shape. Not surprisingly, the hills felt great on my shins, though – got a good Achilles stretch on the way up. I took it pretty cautious on the downhills, though. Once I hit 30 minutes, I walked home because I didn’t want to strain my already sore shins on another 3/4-mile of pavement.

That being said – my shins have been sore. Pretty sore. I’m a teensy bit worried that a full-blown stress fracture is threatening my right leg (the one that didn’t already have one) in the same area. Given that I’m definitely not overtraining or ramping up my mileage too quickly or changing shoes, I’m beginning to wonder if my shin issues are related to something different – chemical and/or mineral imbalances, that sort of thing. Vegan? Hormones? (Mine have always been notoriously low, or something. Ultrarunning kicked it off and my system hasn’t been normal since.) So I’m going to set up an appointment with a new running doctor, ask about that stuff, and inquire about bone density scans (which require injection of a radioactive tracer, hence my hesitation) or MRIs to check it out. X-rays didn’t show anything a year ago. And it’s been over a year. I’d like to know what’s going on in my legs.

peace love and healthy bones,

Vegan banana bread plus (soy) protein

I find that I’ve constantly modifying my banana bread recipe. This particular batch went like this:

2 ripe mashed bananas + some applesauce (I was short one banana)
1.5C whole wheat flour
1/2C brown sugar
2t baking powder
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/4C non-dairy milk of your choice
1/4C oil (I usually skimp a little)
2 heaping T flaxseed + 6T water (MAKE FIRST and let sit for a good 15 minutes to congeal and get a good “eggy” texture)
1/2C soy protein powder (or another vegan protein powder)
cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla to taste
I also threw in a dash of allspice in this one

Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 350. (Test at 40 and keep checking it.)

I found that the protein powder really helped the flax in acting egglike; usually I have some problems getting banana bread fluffy enough without eggs but this loaf puffed right up with the protein!

Happy baking!

Decided to go for a quick post-climbing night run.

And, as always, ‘twas a good choice. It was still warm from during the day so I wore shorts and a tank top despite the fact that it was after 10. Just did 20 minutes/2.8mi but at a semi-decent clip, about 7:15s, and it felt super easy so I feel like my goal of sub-20 for a 5k is pretty doable. I focused on my form, keeping my strike very outside edge of forefoot-y which helped with the shin pain and also efficiency (so, pace).

I was feeling good so I did a bunch (well, probably about 10) strides afterwards, getting progressively longer. They too felt good, and as I was doing them in the street, I heard a group of girls (probably already having pregamed a bit) saying “WOW! Did you see that girl? She was ZOOMING! Right down the road! Wow!” Which was funny.

Icing the shins/sleeping in the compression sleeves tonight and hopefully going to start incorporating speedwork (longer than just strides, which means I need to venture all the way down to the track, sigh) and start running every couple of days again. Hooray for shin splints instead of stress fractures!

peace love and night running,

Adventures in calf compression sleeves

Just got these in the mail! Popped the ice sheets in the freezer, can’t wait to see how they feel!

I’ve never really even thought about compression gear until very recently – and even then, it wasn’t for the compression aspect. I saw these babies in Trail Runner and wanted them not for compression, but for the ability to ice my shins without sitting with my legs out and an ice pack on one leg and a bag of frozen veggies on the other (I only have one ice pack). They were a little pricey at $75 and I was a little unsure about my decision, but then they came in the mail and I put them on.

Pure. Heaven.

Even before I put the (reusable) ice packs in, it felt like my calves were being hugged. All the right places felt comfortable. The ends of the sleeves aren’t circulation-killingly tight. Then I put in the ice packs.

And I thought I was in heaven before. Pssh.

I don’t have too much else to say other than the fact that I will definitely be wearing these for many hours for many of the days to come. I slept in them last night, wore them under my jeans yesterday, and ran 3.5 mi in them today. I didn’t feel a huge difference while I was running, but when I added the ice right afterwards, I noticed that my soreness/tenderness went away pretty quickly.

I’ll update you if things seem to progress more quickly from wearing them. Only time will tell. In the meantime, they’re damn comfy.

They may not be the sexiest things with the ice packs but dear god they feel heavenly. I might live in these. Worth the money. </p>
<p>aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.” width=”509″ height=”663″ /><br />
With the ice packs (and my blurry arm, sorry).</p>
<p>peace love and springtime running!<br />
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The comeback.

The Huron River.

I’ve never been out of running shape like this since before I started cross country in high school. Well, I guess not quite that bad, but it’s rough. I’ve taken time off before, but I’ve never had to come back from a year of not running consistently. I’ve still been plenty active, but nothing’s the same as running 75-mile weeks consistently.

So starting back up at basically nothing has been a new experience. I’ve been taking it very slowly and cautiously – even running just a few miles a week is better than no running at all – and yesterday I ran my first 6-miler since… last June, I think, when I was out in Colorado and did a 7-mile run in Colorado Springs. I’d just done 2-4 before that. Pacewise, I’ve been hovering around 7:30s, which is ok. One of my goals in this comeback period is to build up a better speed base than I had before… which was basically nonexistent. I had the miles but not the speed. At all. (I think. I should check my logs.) I’d like to get my 5k and mile times down to something respectable (around 20 and 5-something, respectively), so I’m planning on working in more speedwork and tempo runs once I have the strength.

So yesterday’s run. It was sunny and warm enough that I was in a tank top (although there are still stubborn piles of grey snow lying around), but when I woke up knowing that I was going to run six later on – and even the day before – I felt weird. Like I had lost my running confidence. Like I was worried that I forgot how to run, or wouldn’t be able to, or would do 12-minute miles. I almost didn’t want to go.

But of course I did, and of course it was fine. I was slow, averaging 9 minute miles (including a mile of snowy trail and three longish hills)(and I’m hella out of shape), but my shins generally felt fine. And I rather enjoy running, in case you hadn’t gotten the memo, so I arrived at the parking lot fifty minutes later smiling with mud-spattered (and very tight) calves. Bam – confidence renewed.

I did a short run today, just 20 minutes and some strides, to loosen up my calves. It was 60 degrees and a good choice. I’m thinking about investing in those compression sleeves with built-in ice packs – a bit pricey, but with my shins, they might be worth it.

So coming back isn’t super easy, but it’s also not really hard. It’s just a transitional period. And yesterday when I found my form deteriorating a little or my mind going “You’re SO SLOW, what is this?” I just thought back to how shitty I felt in the last 3 miles before the last mile of my 50. Compared to that, every other run is a cakewalk.  :)


PS. I will do a post about my climbing spring break trip soon.
PPS. I got a new kitty! Her name is (choose one) Audrey/Aubrey Pawza/Miss Kitty/Lady/Tasha. (I couldn’t decide.)


I watched a track meet for the first time in years. It gave me feelings.

Yesterday, I covered one of only two home indoor track meets for Michigan. It was my first time attending a track meet since probably early high school, since I only ran freshman year. I strongly disliked track at the time – probably because (a) I had just started actually running the cross country season prior, so (b) I was not fast or in shape, and (c) I didn’t know how to try or push myself. So I was low-to-mediocre on the team, running the 800, the mile, and occasionally the 4×400. Once the two-mile. So after one season I called it quits and focused on cross country.

I still like cross country – now just trail/ultra running – far more than track, but I do wish I’d stuck with it the other three years. If I had, I might have learned to push myself. I would have gotten better. I may have had better leg speed for cross country. (I also might have shied away from longer distances later, which might have put me on a non-ultra path…) But I just ran one season then stopped.

So my memories of track are mostly of practices were I wasn’t pushing myself to my limit, just hanging around with my friends and avoiding our terrifying coach. (Not the distance coach – the women’s coach, who specialized in field events, if I recall correctly.) I do remember a few workouts where I did try, and I definitely remember what it feels like to run an 800 or the mile. I remember the silence of the back stretch and the moment when everyone cuts from their lanes and jumbles together. I remember the jittery dance before the gun. Handing off to the anchor. (One terrible race, being the anchor.)

Track may not be my favorite, but I sure as hell respect it, especially when done well. Which this meet was.

Michigan women dominated. Maybe the numbers were a little skewed in our favor, but the number of sprinters doesn’t change the number of meters between first and second. In men’s mile, no one went sub-4, sadly (4:07 though). Still quick. And the 200 – damn. I don’t think I’ve ever really watched a 200 before. It’s impressive. A ridiculous pace for a long time.

Anyway. Watching the meet drew out all these old feelings – remembering what crouching on the track before the gun for the mile feels like, remembering each turn, all that – that I haven’t thought about in years, really. It also made me really want to do speedwork immediately upon exiting the building, but my shin was feeling like it might possibly be twinge-y, so I took the day off and iced it instead. I also started re-reading Once A Runner, which, if you haven’t read it yet and have ever run track, you need to. NEED. TO.

So today I ran my first mile a little quicker, around a 6:45. Not fast, but I just wanted to push the pace a tad, just enough to get my heart rate up more than a 7:30 jog. Plus there was a lot of ice. Everywhere. I ran the other 1.75 at a more relaxed pace. All in all I got in 23 minutes – I was aiming for 20 but was just guessing after the first mile.

6:45. Not speedwork pace, not even really fast, but it felt goooooooood.

peace love and fast running,