New Zealand Adventure

About 5 months ago our family took a trip to New Zealand’s south island to visit family and have an adventure.  I’ve been meaning to write about it for the last 5 months and clearly never did.  I can’t possibly go back and recount everything we did, so here’s a summary.

Things that were awesome

  • Flying across two hemispheres for 21 hours in a plane with my wife and two boys ages 3 and under.
  • Hiking everywhere.
  • Renting an RV (scuse me, Campervan) for 8 days and driving around the south island.
  • Constantly feeling like you’re in Lord of the Rings.
  • Milford Sound boat cruise.
  • Local hospitality.
  • Seeing dolphins swim underneath the boat you’re on during a Milford Sound boat cruise.
  • Fergberger
  • Convincing your wife to bungee jump off a bridge.
  • Hiking everywhere.
  • Sheep.  Everywhere.
  • Seeing the simple pleasure your son gets out of throwing rocks in streams.
  • Feeling the weight of a 1-year-old on your back as you ascend steep terrain.
  • Patience and support of a brother and sister.
  • Never having stayed in a hostel in a foreign country in my life, then staying in a hostel in a foreign country with my wife and kids.
  • Jumping into the Pacific Ocean then the Tasman Sea within days of each other.
  • Eating a disgusting minnow and egg sandwich.
  • Finding local beers that tasted good.
  • Glaciers.
  • Alpine parrots.
  • Wine country.
  • The art community of Christchurch.
  • The long drive leading up to Mt. Cook.
  • The joy of knowing that years from now I can relive the event with my sons.

Things that weren’t awesome

  • Nothing.

 

 

Cougar Mountain Trail Run

This post is overdue, but towards the end of June my family packed up and went to Seattle where my uncle and his family lives and we had a family reunion.  At the time I was entering the final few weeks of training before my first ultra trail race, and need to do a few more runs.  I absolutely love to run in new locations, especially if the terrain and vistas are different so I always try to bring running gear with me whenever I travel.

On this trip, I really wanted to run more mountainous trails since the Twin Cities area of Minnesota is pretty flat.  My brother and I were able to sneak away one morning and do exactly that, heading off to Cougar Mountain.

Misty mountains

The day started out as typical Seattle weather with overcast skies and drizzly precipitation.  I had overdressed and wore a long sleeve shirt which proved to be a big mistake.  Although it rains a lot, I worked up quite a sweat throughout the run and wished I had clothing I could take off or ditch.  Despite this, the run was a lot of fun.

Good trails, good times.

There were definitely challenging hills to climb and great single track and wider horse trails to run on.  My brother had never really done trail running before so it was a pleasure to watch him experience the thrill of bombing a hill after putting in the grueling work to get to the top of a hill.  The vegetation in the area is so lush and incredible, the forest seemed so vibrant and alive.

Previously on LOST…

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go quite as far as I wanted because we had to get back to family obligations, but I thoroughly enjoyed the run we did get.  If you’re in the area and are looking for a good run that’s easily accessible from Seattle, this is a great place to check out.

Running on Glass

Although there’s a plethora of paved and manicured trails in the Twin Cities area, I’m having trouble finding close and accessible trails to my house (I have a 20 month old son at home who needs his naps, which shrinks my optimal running time and distance).  Even though I’m training for the Afton Trail Run, I’ve been doing a lot of running on the aforementioned streets and manicured (crushed limestone) trails and, yes, the basement treadmill.

While I would love to spend every day running outside on trails, that’s just not a possibility at the moment.  Once the weather gets warmer I’ll be venturing out more and experimenting with trails in the vicinity of the Twin Cities (Theodore Wirth, Murphy, Carver) and other parks and trails throughout Minnesota.

Today I was able to run outside and for the first time experiment with my new trail shoes on some actual trails. These were short and nontechnical trails in some local parks in Minnetonka, but they were fun to run nonetheless. Because the weather has been unseasonably warm last few days and there has been a lot of recent thawing, the trails were mostly covered with ice and very, very, slippery ice, as ice is wont to do.

Icy path

At first I was tentative about this and ran cautiously, but barely over a mile into my run I slipped, fell, and hit the dirt. And that’s when…my run got fun. See, I have the opportunity to run on straight and paved surfaces every single day. I can put ear buds in and listen to music and tune out. All I have to do is follow the pavement or concrete in front of me. But on trails, where the conditions are not always the same and you’re forced to pay attention to your surroundings, its so much more invigorating. When there’s the potential to fall, slip, stub your toe, get muddy, catch a branch or worse, your body is tuned to the environment around you.

Here in Minnesota, we don’t have the luxury of running in mountains, but we do have snow and ice and cold. And if that’s all I can get during these months, I’ll take it. It sure beats running only on man-made surfaces.