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Health by Heidi

You deserve to feel great!

Heidi's World

Heidi's World

My workouts and fun things that I want to share!

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A River Runs Through It...

Posted on August 31, 2015 at 6:45 PM Comments comments ()

Yesterday some friends and I went over and floated the day stretch of the Salmon River.  It was a wonderful day, as any day on the river is.  Even though the wind was pretty intense and there was cloud cover for a lot of the day, we still had a great time.  I just can't help but have fun on the river.  As we were floating along, I started thinking about being on the river and how much I love it.

My first multi-day river trip was nine years ago, when my husband and I were not yet married.  We got invited to go on the Lower Salmon by some friends of his.  I had been on one-day guided trips before, but never a multi-day self-supported trip, so this was all new to me.  My husband even bought me an inflatable kayak (IK), knowing that I can't sit still for long and knowing I would struggle with simply sitting on the back of his boat for the whole ten days.  The morning of departure to drive to the river, we all met at the parking lot of Super One in Hamilton to buy supplies for the trip.  I was anxious to get going, and as the time ticked by and we waited for people to make their purchases I started to get fidgety.  "Man, what is taking so long?  I wish they would hurry up.  When are we leaving?"  Finally, my not-yet-husband turned to me and said, "Are you gonna be like this the whole trip?"  I realized at that moment that even though we were not yet on the river, we were already on "river time."  I immediately relaxed and just took it all in. 

Fast forward to the river.  I decided early into the trip that I could not sit on the back of my not-yet-husband's boat the whole time and did want to try this IK thing.  We pumped it up, got me all set up, and off we went.  I was paddling along with some other highly experienced kayakers that were walking me through how to read water, how to run a rapid, what line to take and which to avoid, etc.  I was very nervous but doing ok.  Out of the blue, on what was no more than a tiny riffle in the river, I had some sort of crazy, uncontrollable panic attack.  I started shaking violently, crying uncontrollably, and all I wanted was to get out of that kayak and onto my not-yet-husband's boat.  My panic attack, I realized shortly thereafter, was related to a bad experience I had on a river years before that entailed a rock to the face, several broken teeth, broken nose, and a black eye.  My not-yet-husband very calmly rowed up beside me, helped me climb into his boat, pulled the IK aboard, deflated it, strapped it down, and continue on down the river, seemingly unfazed and offering nothing but encouraging words to me the entire time.

I never got into the IK again on that trip, and it took me a full two years before I decided to venture into it again.  Despite that, the trip was amazing.  I loved every moment of it.  I loved being outside 24 hours a day.  I loved being in the elements, whether it was hot or cold or windy or rainy or sunny.  I loved the simplicity of our days.  Get up, eat breakfast, load the rafts, paddle down the river, stop when we get hungry and eat, paddle some more, stop and set up camp, eat dinner, hang out on the beach, go to sleep.  Life stripped down to the bare essentials.  It was magnificent.  No cell phones, no internet, no email, no facebook.  Nothing but nature and all the splendor that she has to offer.  When the trip came to a close, I didn't want to leave. 

My not-yet-husband quickly became my husband, and since then we have done several trips together, including many on the Main and Lower Salmon, the Selway, and twice down the mighty Colorado in the Grand Canyon.  Two years after my first experience in the IK, I saddled up again and gave it a whirl.  It was on the Main Salmon.  Again, I was with several experienced kayakers and rafters.  This time, I vowed to paddle the entire river.  There was no safety outlet.  I was not getting on my husband's boat.  And I did it.  The entire river.  Yes, I swam a few times.  Yes, there were times my adrenaline was coursing so strongly that I couldn't hear the river over my own heartbeat.  But I loved it even more.  There is something completely different about being a passenger on a boat and actually paddling myself down the river, controlling where I go and what I do or don't do.  I felt at one with the water, even when I felt like it was trying to swallow me whole. 

I understand what Norman Maclean talked about in his famous book.  The river really does get in you.  It becomes part of you, like an old friend.  You can go months or even years without seeing each other, but once you are back together it is like you never left.  The river becomes familiar, comfortable, simple.  It provides a sense of peace and adventure, adrenaline and calmness.  There is nothing like the sound of my paddle rhythmically caressing the water in slow spots, the roar of a rapid thundering and crashing a half mile down river, the adrenaline coursing through my body as I approach the roar, the deafening boom and frothing white water in the midst of it, and the instant feeling of complete exhilaration upon making it through the rapid upright   The stark simplicity of the days and nights on the river is truly incomparable.  Being fully immersed in nature, completely in it, exposed and victim to its whims, is an incredible experience.  I am so glad that my husband took me on that first trip.  I am glad that I got back in the IK (whose name, by the way, is Violet), and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to continue to be on the river.  The trips never seem long enough or frequent enough.  I find comfort in knowing that, like an old friend, the river is always there, waiting for me to come back.

Me...mountain biking??

Posted on August 23, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments ()

Yesterday, a good friend of mine convinced me to go mountain biking.  I, the self-proclaimed 99% roadie 1% mountain biker, reluctantly agreed.  I do own a mountain bike.  Her name is Shelly and the last time she saw action was June 2014 on the ride to Paradise.  That ride is techinically not even a mountain bike ride.  There are just sections of the ride that are on dirt, which makes a mountain bike more comfortable than a road bike.  I am fine riding a mountain bike on a dirt road.  Single-track?  Yes, if it is dirt and smooth with nary a rock or branch or log in sight.  Climbing?  Yes please!  Downhill?  Yes, I will be happy to go downhill, dismounted and pushing Shelly alongside.  I am not too proud for that. 

Anyway, my friend assured me that the ride was not technical and the scenery was beautiful.  As we were driving up to the rendezvous point with the other members of the group, my friend mentioned that there had been a lot of work done on the trail and the rocky sections were much improved over what they had been.  Wait wait wait.  Rocky sections?  No no no.  My vision of flat smooth dirt single track through fields of wildflowers was quickly fading. 

We got to the trail head, three other riders joining us.  Off we went, starting immediately in the rock garden.  As my friend disappeared in the distance, she yelled over her shoulder, "This is the worst part!"  Ok, great.  Let's get the bad stuff out of the way at the beginning.  Good.  Funny thing about mountain biking though.  There are rocks everywhere.  Rocks exist in nature.  There is no way around it.  Also, when you are in a forest, there are branches and logs everywhere too.  Who would have ever imagined such a thing?  So I pedaled along at my own pace, going slower than everyone else.  Mind you, it was not due to lack of fitness.  My fitness was never tested.  My bike handling skills were the issue.  When we reached the base of a two mile climb, the group allowed me to lead the way.  I quickly rode off the front, enjoying my chance to shine and to not have to worry about crashing.  When I reached the summit, I stopped and waited for everyone to regroup.  As everyone was catching their breath, my friend mentioned that she was looking forward to going back down that hill on the way out.  Wait wait wait.  What?  This ride is not a loop?  We have to go back down that two mile rocky exposed hillside?  Nope.  No thanks.  I will just stay here. 

We pedaled on and eventually got to the halfway point where we proceeded to turn around.  The hill loomed in front of me.  I could sense the others' excitement building in anticipation of the downhill.  Me?  I was a solid mass of nerves.  I brought up the rear on the way down.  I am proud to say that I stayed on Shelly the whole time, riding the brakes all the way, but never once dismounting to walk.  Victory for me!  And so the rest of the ride back to the car slowly passed by.  I did take time to enjoy the flowers, the trees, the sun filtering through the smoky haze.  When we finally made it back to the cars, I was admittedly glad that it was over. 

I am not a mountain biker.  I am just not.  I try.  I try it every year.  And every year I think, "Nope."  I don't like the headache I always get from the jostling over rocks.  I don't like my fingers literally feeling like they are broken from the shaking of the handle bars.  I like the open, smooth road of pavement.  I like to go fast in spandex with others going fast in spandex.  I like pacelines and skinny tires and stiff frames.  I like riding with Fast Guy and the rest of the group.  I like the continuous, smooth fluidity that comes with road biking.  Having said that, yesterday was still a great day.  I love being outside.  I love being on a bike.  Any day spent outside on a bike is a great day.  So yes, yesterday was a great day, and my last mountain bike ride of the season.  Oh, and I am re-classifying myself.  I am now 99.5% road, .5% mountain biker.

My Brother

Posted on August 17, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments ()

My senior year in high school, my English teacher (whom also happened to be my dad) gave us the assignment of writing a two page essay about a role model.  Many of my classmates chose famous athletes or pop culture icons.  I chose my brother.  He truly was my role model.  He taught me how to dribble and shoot a basketball.  He spent countless hours on the ski hill with me, teaching me how to do parallel turns and ski moguls without breaking my leg.  He is eight years older than me so graduated high school when I was finishing fifth grade.  Being at college didn't stop him from coming home and working with me on my jump shot when he had a free weekend.  As I got into high school, he traveled the state of Wyoming from border to border to watch me play sports, whether it be volleyball or basketball.  When I went to college, he traveled across the country to watch me play volleyball.  He always would be more nervous than me before games, and would always congratulate me with a big hug after it was all over.  I admired his patience with me (what 12-year-old boy would have the patience or interest to teach his annoying four-year-old sister how to dribble a basketball?) and his never-ending support.  I admired his ease with people.  He just has a way of walking into a room and being comfortable conversing with anyone.  He is one of the most talented public speakers I have ever seen.  At my dad's memorial service a few years ago, none of us had really planned on saying much.  People were asking for a speech and looking to me.  I quickly passed the baton to my brother, who got up in front of the crowd and gave a moving, humorous, beautiful tribute to my dad, delivered straight from the heart.  We traveled to California together.  We traveled Europe together.  We have had a lot of great times together. 

As the years have gone by, we have both gotten married and he has two young children.  Between work and family, we don't see each other as much as we would like.  We have been trying for ages now to get together for a bike ride, just the two of us, but things kept getting in the way.  Finally, this past weekend, I went over to his house and spent three days with him and his two kids.  The whole point of me going over there was so we could do a bike ride together, just the two of us, which we did.  We rode on Saturday, an easy 35 mile flat loop.  It was great.  I enjoyed every pedal stroke of that ride, and I wish we could do it again next weekend, and the next, and the next.

The highlight for me, however, was not the bike ride.  It was the evenings spent visiting with each other after the kids had gone to bed.  Both nights, we cracked open a bottle of wine and just told stories.  We rehashed our childhoods.  We talked about our high school experiences, friends, the house where we grew up, our parents, our trips together.  We reconnected.  We rediscovered.  We got to know each other all over again.  It was so much fun!  He is the same funny, smart, driven, patient, nurturing, ambitious, kind person that I remember from my childhood.  I loved every moment and wished the evenings would never end.

We both agreed that we need to get together more often, just the two of us.  I hope it happens.  It is easy to let life get in the way, but sometimes we just have to be bigger than life.  We have to make it work somehow or another.  I am positive that another weekend will present itself and we will get together again, just the two of us.  He was such a big part of my life as a child and young adult.  I would like him to be a big part of my life as an adult, too. 

I still have the essay from high school.  It is tucked away in my filing cabinet.  Without reading it, I still remember what it says, all these years later.  Maybe someday, just for the fun of it, I will write another one.  And the topic will still be my brother.

The Last Ride...

Posted on August 9, 2015 at 3:45 PM Comments comments ()

Yesterday marked the last group ride of the season for me.  I have a conflict next weekend and then Fast Guy, the group organizer, is leaving for a while.  I will still ride on my own, and may even hop in a few group rides with the New Fast Guys.  However, any of you with gardens knows that this time of year is getting into peak harvesting, and therefore peak canning, season.  For the next several weeks I just won't have time to spend three or five or seven hours on a bike on any given day.  So, as I said, yesterday was my last group ride of the season. 

We started at 7:30 yesterday morning, with a balmy 50 degrees and clouds.  A good group showed up to the start: me, Fast Guy, New Fast Guys 1 and 2 from last week, New Fast Guy 3, Other Guy, and New Couple, so eight people total.  The New Fast Guys planned to ride up and over Skalkaho a little ways and then back to town, so arrived on cross bikes.  The rest of us planned to ride up Skalkaho to the end of the pavement, turn around, and then add on more miles as we deemed necessary.  We all set off together up Skalkaho and quickly formed into a double paceline, chatting with those around us as we moved through the rotations.  New Couple quickly fell off the back, but we forged ahead at a comfortable pace, rotating leaders every few minutes and enjoying the comeraderie and cool morning air.  Up Skalkaho we went, farther and farther.  As the road narrowed, New Fast Guy 1 quickly took his place at the front of the paceline alongside New Fast Guy 3, with the rest of us behind them.  The grade steepened and Other Guy lost contact with the group.  New Fast Guy 1 kept a grueling pace, despite having a semi-deflated rear tire.  Soon New Fast Guy 3 dropped off.  We continued on, our group of eight now down to four.  Fast Guy and New Fast Guy 1 traded turns at the front, and New Fast Guy 2 eventually crumbled and dropped back.  And then there were three.  Up and up we went over those last few miles of pavement, the Fast Guys taking turns pulling, me hanging on and focused on not losing contact.  When we finally reached the end of the pavement, I was huffing and puffing, legs burning, but still feeling pretty good.  I actually could have kept climbing with these guys.  Yes, New Fast Guy 1 was on a cross bike AND had a partially deflated rear tire, BUT STILL!!  I kept up with him and Fast Guy all the way to the top, something no one else in the group was able to do.  I reveled in my small victory as they set about changing the now more-deflated rear tire.

Eventually everyone made it to the end of the pavement.  The New Fast Guys and New Couple Husband continued on up the dirt and the rest of us turned around as a group.  Eventually Fast Guy and I were all that remained.  As we did a quick loop on Blodgett Camp Rd before heading back to town, I thought it fitting that I finish my last group ride of the season with Fast Guy.  He has pushed me all summer long.  He helped me train for the duathlon, rode Corvallis Hills with me repeatedly, constantly challenged me on every climb, and pushed me to take the front of the paceline.  Because of that, I feel stronger on my bike than I ever remember feeling, and I truly could not have achieved it on my own. 

And now it all comes to a close.  Fast Guy rides year round (which is partly why he is Fast Guy), and he loves it, but I need a change.  I have loved every torturous, leg-ripping, lung-searing, awe-inspiring, motivating, beautiful, awful, and spectacular second of this cycling season.  I am admittedly a bit sad that it is coming to an end, but I am excited about the change.  I am looking forward to more running, hiking, gardening.  I am excited about canning tomatoes on Sundays while watching NFL, and feeling the cool nip in the air as Autumn approaches.  I have some weeks of great cycling still to come, but it will be different.  My rides, like the days, will get shorter.

I feel an overwhelming sense of peace, satisfaction, and gratitude for a phenomenal summer of cycling.  As they say, all good things must come to an end...until next spring.

What a wonderful weekend!

Posted on August 2, 2015 at 6:55 PM Comments comments ()

I have had multiple thoughts floating around in my head for this week's blog, and I am going to try and tie them all in with the story of what a fabulous weekend I had.  So here we go...

The weekend kicked off with Last Friday in Darby, a wonderful event put on by some even more wonderful people.  Last Friday in Darby is in the park downtown, and consists of vendors, live music, food, wine, and this month there was a gigantic cardboard castle for the kids to play in.  I had a booth there promoting my Health by Heidi business and had a blast!  I had a hoola-hoop contest and a Bosu ball balance contest.  I got to visit with many different people from Darby, Hamilton, and even people from out of state.  I actually chatted with a guy from San Diego who went to SDSU for grad school in the same department that I did, only ten years before me.  He also sponsored a bunch of beach volleyball tournaments that I played in when I lived there.  He and his family were passing through town on their way to Wisconsin, saw the hoopla in the park, and stopped to take part in the festivities.  He had nothing but good things to say about Darby, including how great it was that such a small town could put on such a fun event like Last Friday.  I agreed with him whole heartedly.  There were several people from Hamilton who came down to listen to the music and enjoy the event, and commented about how they wished First Friday in Hamilton was more like Last Friday in Darby.  I think that is fantastic! 

Saturday was the group ride, and this week we all met at my house and rode up past Painted Rocks Lake and back.  60 miles total.  There were eight of us this week, including Fast Guy, myself, a few other gals, a few older guys, and two new Fast Guys (henceforth denoted as New Fast Guy 1 and New Fast Guy 2).  My morning had been somewhat hectic with trying to get chores done before people showed up at my house, so when people started arriving and we were ready to roll out, I felt a little stressed.  My stress quickly melted away as the group of eight seamlessly moved into a double paceline, me and Fast Guy at the front.  We were spinning easily, warming up, chatting with each other.  I could hear the rest of the group visiting behind us, gears clicking, wheels spinning, effortlessly moving along.  I felt wonderful.  The sun felt good, the wind felt good, my legs felt good, the scenery was spectacular.  As we made the turn onto the West Fork, the pace picked up and a few dropped off the back, but we agreed to regroup a few miles up the road.  Fast Guy and I kept chatting, the wheels kept turning, the sun kept shining, and all thoughts outside of cycling quickly faded into nothing.  The pace continued to pick up, more people fell off the back, and then we would regroup every so often.  At one point during the ride I found myself alongside one of the older guys.  He was telling me that he grew up in Darby, moved away, and now lives in Hamilton.  He said that he had not been down to Darby in a while and was surprised at all the things that are happening here.  Between the new businesses on Main Street, the brewery, the organic food store, and the rodeos, he said it seemed like there was always something happening here and it was great to see.  Once again, I agreed whole heartedly!  At the base of the climb up to the dam, I found myself with New Fast Guy 1 and 2.  Fast Guy was back with the slower riders helping them along, so it was just the three of us.  New Fast Guy 1 picked up the pace and I stayed hot on his wheel.  Halfway up, New Fast Guy 2 dropped off.  I put every ounce of being into staying on New Fast Guy 1's wheel, and as we reached the dam, he glanced back with a look of surprise that I was still there.  It was magic.  We all regrouped and continued on our way.  And so went the rest of the ride, fast paced, pushing hard, and regrouping.  I felt great.  It was one of those perfect rides where everything comes together and you wish it would never end.  When it did come to an end and everyone said their good-byes until next week, rather than feeling exhausted I felt energized. 

Today I worked in the garden all morning and then Zoey and I went to our neighbor's pond this afternoon and swam for nearly an hour and a half.  It was lovely.  Once again, I felt energized rather than depleted.  It was the perfect end to the weekend.

Now to the thoughts in my head... Let's start with a phone conversation I had this week with a friend.  My friend and I were discussing people who complain all the time.  Regardless of what is happening in their lives, they are complaining.  My friend said," If those people would just go outside and look at the natural beauty of this place, I think they would realize life isn't so bad and they should stop complaining."  I was thinking of this after my ride Saturday, about how before the ride started I was feeling a bit stressed about all the things I needed to do, but as soon as we started riding and the beauty took over my senses, the stress completely vanished.  It is hard to feel stressed or upset when you stop and look at this glorious place where we live.  This brings me to my next thought, which is that I think it is really funny when people compain that there is nothing to do here.  It is even more funny that the people who complain that there is nothing to do here are never at any of the events or functions, like Last Friday.  I find that I have the opposite problem.  There is SO much to do here that I don't have enough time in the day to get it all done! 

My ultimate point is this:  You can be part of the problem or be part of the solution.  If you complain about nothing to do but don't participate in anything, you will have nothing to do no matter where you live.  If you spend your time complaining, you are missing out on all the wonderful things happening around you and the spectacular scenery surrounding you.  Choose to be involved and be active or choose to not.  There is always a choice, and it's yours to make.  My choice is to embrace this life, this magestic place where we live, this wonderful town we call home.  What's your choice? 


Posted on July 24, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments ()

As I was driving home from Hamilton the other day via Old Darby Rd (due to the road construction on the highway) and enjoying the spectacular scenery of this valley, I started thinking...

I sometimes hear people complain about Darby and the Bitterroot.  I think we have all been guilty at some point in time.  I know I have complained about a few things in Darby.  The truth is that there is no perfect place.  There is no utopia.  We can try hard to create our own, but it doesn't just exist.  I have lived on both coasts and in the middle, and have vistied 36 of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.  I have traveled around Europe, Mexico, and Central America.  I can honestly say that there is no place I would rather live and call home than Darby, Montana.

I love this town and I love this valley.  There are so many great things about this area!  First of all, the people in Darby are wonderful.  The longer I live here and the more people I meet, I am constantly impressed with how friendly everyone is.  I can proudly say that I know my neighbors.  I actually know them by name and speak to them at least weekly.  Knowing my neighbors may sound like a small thing, but it is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  This friendliness and neighborliness leads to a great sense of community.  I love that I can go to the bank or post office and see friends and make plans to get together for dinner.  I love driving down the road and waving at every other car because I know the driver.

As many of you know, I am a big proponent of healthy eating.  The food that is available in this valley is outstanding.  The amount of produce that we can grow right here is great.  The fact that there is a local dairy, a good place to get good organic meat, and many places to get good organic, locally grown fruits and veggies is fantastic! 

I REALLY enjoy the ample outdoor activities that this area provides.  From cycling to skiing to hiking to fishing, it is all just right there.  I have lived in places where I had to drive hours to get to the kind of wilderness activities that we get here just outside our front doors.  I love that I can go for a run in the morning and not have to watch out for traffic or wait at stoplights.  Living 30 minutes from a great ski hill is also amazing.  Everything is so easily accessible.

The highlight of this valley, for me, is the scenery.  The beauty of this place never ceases to amaze me, regardless of the time of year.  There is an ongoing joke in my cycling group that on every ride I will inevitably say, "This is my favorite time of year."  It doesn't matter if it's April or July or October.  I even love the winters here.  The jagged mountains, the valleys, the rivers and creeks, it's just all spectacular.  The scenery here could compete easily with anything that I have seen in Alaska or Switzerland or Italy. 

Plus, how many other small towns have a gym, a brewery, and an organic food store?  That's just how cool Darby is!

I could go on and on, but I feel like I am starting to sound like an ad in a travel magazine.  Anyway, I love this place.  Darby may not be right for everyone, but I know for a fact that it is the perfect place for me!

The ongoing food debate

Posted on July 17, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments ()

One of my good friends posted something this week expressing her frustration with the lack of easily accessible organic food here, and in general.  It sparked a great discussion and got me thinking about food (again).  So I wanted to share more of my thoughts.

In the not-so-distant past, we didn't have access to fresh fruits and veggies year round.  People ate the produce that was in season because that was all that was available.  There were no strawberries in January or apples in May, unless they had been preserved from the year before.  Now, with the evolution of the global industrial food system, we have access to any kind of produce that we want at any time of the year.  Strawberries in Montana in January?  Sure!  Ship them up from Mexico!  Never mind that even though they look big and red and juicy they taste like cardboard (we have all experienced that before!).  Why do they taste like cardboard?  Because in order to make the 2000 (or more) mile trip from Mexico to Montana, the berries have to be picked early; so early that they are mostly solid white.  Over the course of the trip, they gradually turn red.  Even though the berries are turning red, they are not getting any more flavor or anymore nutrients because they are separated from the plant and the roots and the soil which provide the berries with their nutrients and flavor.  It just so happens that in nature, when a berry (or any produce) reaches its peak ripeness, that also happens to be when it reaches its peak flavor AND its highest nutrient content.  That is why produce in season tastes 100 times better and is more nutritious than produce bought out of season.  The simple lesson here?  Buy produce in season from a local grower! 

Here in the Bitterroot valley, we can grow and do grow TONS of delicious produce.  We may not grow oranges or bananas here, but we can grow apples, pears, plums, apricots, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries, service berries, choke cherries, currants, thimble berries, elderberries, and the list goes on and on.  And that's just the fruits!  The veggie list would be ten times longer than that.  The nice thing about this valley is that if you don't have your own garden, you can purchase delicious, fresh, local, organic produce from the farmers market or from the Darby Merc.  Same goes for meats, dairy products, eggs, etc.  Some of the grocery stores in Hamilton also carry local products.  The trick is to buy the produce in season when it is at its peak freshness (which also happens to coincide with when it is cheapest) and then can, freeze, or dehydrate it for use in the winter.  Preserving food for winter is not necessarily always fun, but it is worth it.  You have the comfort in knowing exactly where your food came from and how it was raised, you know you got it at peak ripeness, AND you saved money on it!  It's a win win win!

However, not everyone likes to preserve food for winter, or has the space to store extra food for months at a time.  My advice to you is to buy organic produce when possible.  Know that organic or not, the produce has been shipped long distances and won't be as nutritionally sound as the produce bought in season, but better to get some produce than none at all!  Also, do some research and learn about when certain produce is in season.  For example, most citrus fruits peak in the winter, so when you go to the store look for organic oranges in the winter months.  If possible, find out where the produce is from.  Oranges from California would have less travel time to Montana than oranges from Florida or Hawaii, so theoretically would not have been picked quite as early and therefore may have more flavor and nutrition.

I have said this before and will say it again now:  Educate yourself about your food choices.  Food does not come from a grocery store.  It comes from the earth.  Do your best to know how it was grown and where it is from.  We speak with our dollars, so let's spend them wisely!

The pieces...

Posted on July 12, 2015 at 6:35 PM Comments comments ()

One week.  It's been one week since that fateful missed turn.  Over the week, I have done a lot of meditating and mulling and musing about the reason for that missed turn.  I still am not sure of the "why."  I am not sure why I was not supposed to win that race and set a course record that would have been nearly unbeatable.  I have gone over every second of that race from the time I started until the time WG made his fateful remark.  What did I miss (aside from the obvious turn)?  I don't have an answer yet, and maybe never will.  However, there are some lessons to be learned from this whole thing.  So here we go:

Lesson 1)  Know where you are going.  All the preparation in the world counts for nothing if you don't know where you are going.  Even if you have been there before, review the map.  You can meditate and visualize and work until you are blue in the face, but without a clear path to the finish line carved out in your brain, you will be at the mercy of the course.

Lesson 2)  Don't blindly follow the leader.  Regardless of the fact that he was the reigning three-time men's champion, he missed the turn too.  Keep your head up and your eyes alert.  Even leaders make mistakes, so when a mistake happens, be ready to correct it rather than blindly following along. 

Lesson 3) Take time to listen to the voice in your head.  Looking back, I swear I heard someone shout "Hey!" around the time we were probably missing the turn.  I looked around but didn't see anyone so just kept going.  Had I taken an extra second, I may have seen the road we should have taken. 

Lesson 4)  Follow Robert Frost's advice about the road less traveled.  That was literally the road we should have turned on.  It was a much smaller dirt road than the one that we were on.  Instead, we stayed on the main, wide dirt road. 

Lesson 5)  Look for success and lessons, even when you fail to meet your goals.  I had very specific goals for myself in this race.  I did not meet my cycling goal time.  I did not meet my overall goal time.  I did not set a new course record.  I did not take first place.  i DID beat my running goal time by 2 full minutes.  I DID take second place in women's, even with going four miles out of the way.  I DID finish only four minutes behind the women's winner, and a mere two minutes behind my record setting pace from last year.  I DID only miss my overall time goal by five minutes, with four extra miles of cycling.  I DID train for the race perfectly, as well as fuel during the race perfectly. 

Lesson 6)  In the grand scheme of things, it's small.  Tiny.  Miniscule.  No sense dwelling on it.

Even with the lessons and the successes, I struggled this week to find my fire.  Training so hard for so long and then not getting the results that I had worked so hard for was rough.  I admittedly was being a bit of a baby about it.  When Saturday rolled around and it was time for my group ride in Hamilton, I almost didn't go.  I am so glad I did.  It was exactly what I needed.  Getting back on the proverbial horse.  Fast Guy even went easy on me (mostly).  The longer we rode, the more I could feel the pieces of the race falling off of me.  It was cleansing.  My legs felt good.  My lungs felt good.  And finally, my head felt good.  My fire is back. 

Tomorrow I will go for my morning run, and I am excited about it.  I am already thinking about the next event that I want to do.  I have not yet decided on what it will be, but it will be something.  Whatever it is, you better believe that I WILL NOT MISS A TURN!!!!

Madison Duathlon 2015

Posted on July 6, 2015 at 9:30 PM Comments comments ()

Yesterday, Sunday, July 5th, was the fourth annual Madison Duathlon.  This race takes place in Ennis, MT, and consists of a 14 mile bike ride and a 7 mile run.  The ride is 8 miles of pavement and 6 miles of grueling dirt, with an elevation gain of 3000 feet in the 6 miles of dirt.  Then the run goes up one mile before going downhill for six miles, again on dirt, and finishing with a short uphill run to the finish line. 

I have competed in this race for the past three years, including yesterday.  I was the women's champion in 2013 and 2014 and set course records both years.  My goal this year was to win again and break the course record again.  I have been training for months for this race, putting all my energy and focus into this particular race.  It was center stage on my race calender for the summer.  With a potential 3-peat, I was planning on retiring from the race after this year.  But as they say, the best laid plans...

The race started out perfectly.  I jumped right out of the gate and, boosted by a phenomenal tail wind, had a wide lead almost immediately.  I rode by myself for most of the road section.  The Winner Guy (WG) caught up to me shortly before the turn onto the dirt road, and so we made the turn together and started climbing together.  We climbed up and up and up.  We had such a large lead that we could not see anyone behind us on the climb.  Up and up and up we went.  Until suddenly...WG turned around in front of me.  "I think we missed a turn," he said.  "WHAT????" I asked.  I was thinking no way.  This can't be happening.  We didn't miss a turn.  No way.  I am on par to SHATTER my course record, not by just a few minutes but by tens of mintues.  We did NOT miss a turn. 

There were two older fellas chatting in the middle of the road so we rode up to them and asked if they knew where the road was that we were looking for.  "It's a coupla miles back that way.  But if you take this road here it will intersect with the road that you want," is what one of them told us.  WHAT?????  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  I could almost see the shattered remnants of my goals crumbling around me.  How did we miss the sign?  Neither one of us saw it.  We saw the other signs.  How did we BOTH miss that one???

Grumbling with a mix of frustration, anger, and disbelief, we made our way to the intersection of the race road.  We popped out right at the base of a miserable climb and immediately dropped the hammer.  We were passing people right and left.  They all had surprised looks on their faces, wondering how we had ended up behind them when we had such a commanding lead at the start.  Frustration, anger, and disbelief fueled me as I made my way up the climb.  WG eventually dropped me, and when I got to the transition he was already starting up the hill on his run.  Four miles out of our way we had ridden.  At this point, I could feel my resolve start to crumble.  All of my goals, all of my training, all of my hard work, seemed on the verge of destruction.  Part of me wanted to quit.  Part of me wanted to punch someone.  Part of me wanted to run until my legs fell off.  As I changed into my running gear, I did all I could to keep my emotions in check. 

As I started up the hill, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other.  My emotions were flying wildly all over the place, and I needed to get them centered and focused.  Quietly, a voice of reason in my head said, "You didn't meet your goal cycling time.  You won't meet your goal overall time.  But you could still meet your goal running time."  So that is where my emotion went.  I ran and ran and ran.  I tripped and fell, taking the skin off of my hip and knee.  I got back up and kept running.  Down and down and down, on rough, uneven dirt.  The entire time I was thinking, "I can't believe it.  I can't believe it.  I can't believe it.  I CAN'T BELIEVE IT." 

As I rounded the corner to the final uphill to the finish, my emotions came boiling out.  Hot tears ran down my cheeks as I sobbed and panted my way to the finish line.  I crossed the finish line and kept going up the street, away from the small crowd, away from the spectators, and cried like I haven't cried in years.  All the frustration and anger came pouring out.  Eventually a good friend came and stood by me.  Then my brother came.  Then my mom.  Then WG.  And the women's winner.  And even the race director.  And they all said the same thing:  You rode four miles farther than the rest of the racers.  And you still finished second in women's. 

So I started to look at my times.  After riding four miles extra, I finished second in women's, only FOUR minutes behind the winner.  I was fifth overall.  I was only seven minutes off of my goal ride time, even with the four extra miles.  I came in two minutes UNDER my goal run time.  I was only five minutes off of my overall goal time, and only two minutes slower than my overall record setting time from last year.  WITH FOUR EXTRA MILES.  Basically, I killed it.

I am not happy.  Not yet.  I will be though.  I know my training was spot on.  I found resolve and heart that I didn't know I had.  I pushed to the finish even though a large part of me wondered what was even the point.  Retirement from this race?  Not a chance.  Not now.  Next time I will be back stronger and faster.  Next time I will have the route memorized so no sign snafu can throw me off course.  Next time I will have loftier goals.  And next time I will meet them.

Heidi's food evolution

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments ()

Growing up, I remember my mom canning and freezing fresh produce all summer long to prepare for winter.  We lived in a very small town in Wyoming (at 7000 feet elevation, with nothing but wind, antelope, and sagebrush as far as the eye could see...a miserable place) and our access to fresh fruits and veggies outside of the two-month long summer season was nearly zero.  Each week in the summer we would drive into town and go to the produce truck that drove up from Colorado.  Ma would buy cases of tomatoes, peaches, pears, and anything else the man had to sell that she could freeze or can.  She didn't do it because it was trendy.  She did it because it was cheap and it was basically our only source of produce for the year.  We had a modest garden that produced a bit of food, namely shell peas, carrots the size of my little finger, and buckets of kale and chard.  I should note that the kale was not in fact grown for us to eat (who on Earth would eat such a tough, bitter green?) but was instead raised for the chickens to eat to supplement their grain.  My mom baked fresh bread often and cooked every meal from scratch, because again, in the tiny town where I grew up there were no fast food joints or big fancy grocery stores with pre-packaged, ready to eat meals.  I never thought twice about the way we ate because I didn't know any differently.

When I went to college, I first decided to give up red meat.  Next came poultry.  Then went the fish.  I was a full-blown vegetarian.  I lived in Southern California at the time, when it seemed like everyone was vegetarian or vegan or something of the sort.  Produce was ample and cheap.  There were all these fancy, new fangled products in the grocery stores that I had never seen before, and marketed directly to vegans and vegetarians like me, products with names like "soy cheese," "tempeh," "tofu," and even "tofurky."  You could buy "bratwurst" made out of soy!  You could buy "deli meat" made out of soy!  It was like hitting the jackpot!  I diligently bought my meat-replacement products each week at the store to make sure that I was getting my daily allotment of protein.  My whole reason for becoming vegetarian was that I didn't want to eat meat again unless I knew exactly where it came from.  I was learning about the atrocities of feedlots and slaughterhouses, of the horrible and inhumane treatment of animals, and of all the hormones and antibiotics the animals were receiving simply to keep them standing upright.  I wanted no part in it.  Yet, the longer I continued down the "soy road," the more I felt like something was off.  It wasn't physical.  I felt fine.  It just seemed to me that I was replacing one "problem" food (meat) with a heavily processed meat-like substance.

Then I moved to Montana and married a hunter.  The time was at hand.  I went antelope hunting with him, holding true to my word that If I were to eat meat again, I had to know exactly where it came from.  I wanted to learn about the process from start to finish, from the harvest to the gutting to the processing.  I had and have no interest in hunting myself, but I learned about the respect my husband has for the animals that he harvests and his appreciation of them for providing us with food.  So I started eating wild game meat; deer, elk, antelope, pheasant, grouse, basically anything that he brought home from the forest.  About the same time, a good friend of mine recommended that I read the book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," by Barbara Kingsolver.  I had also read a few books by Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin, all regarding food, growing your own food, what's in the food that we eat, etc.  We put in a big garden and a year later put in a greenhouse.  Now I grow nearly all of the vegetables and about half of the fruit that we eat in a year.  Just like my mom, I freeze, can, and dry the produce for use in the winter.  What I can't or don't grow myself, I purchase at the farmers market in season.  My husband hunts for all of the meat that we eat.  Between the two of us, we provide nearly all of our own food with our own two hands. 

As I sat down to my delicious lunch today, I started thinking about where everything came from that was on my plate.  The tortilla was from the lady at the farmers market.  The deer burger was from last hunting season.  The cheese was from Lifeline in Victor.  The pico de gallo I had just made, and was made from ingredients from my own garden and from West Naturals in Corvallis.  The juice I made fresh with Flathead cherries frozen from last year and kale that I had just cut yesterday morning.  It was scrumptious, and I felt good about eating it.

I look around at all the chronic illness in our world today and can't help but think that we could cure nearly all of it if we just simply changed the way we eat. Stop buying stuff in packages with ingredients lists.  Get back to the way our great-grandmothers cooked.  Eat real food.  Know where it comes from.  Know how it was grown and harvested.  I realize that I am very fortunate to have a garden and to have a husband that hunts for our meat.  I know not everyone can or will do that.  Yet, we all can shop at farmers markets.  We all can grow a few pots of tomatoes or lettuce.  Small steps lead to great things.  I truly believe that it starts with food.