Friday, August 17, 2018

Elkhorn Relay 2018 – The Report

Elkhorn Relay 2018
Team Gang Greens at the start
Elkhorn Relay 2018 found us on our fifth year as a team of running buddies sharing an experience that proved once again that we are alive, healthy, able to endure fatigue and discomfort, supportive, happy, and maybe a little bit crazy! Due to circumstances beyond our control, only three of the original team members were able to participate this year and we missed the Pages dearly. Although the complexion of the team varies from year to year, every participant becomes a part of the Team Gang Greens family. You simply cannot share an experience like this without becoming forever one of the gang.

Check out the bank reader board. 
107 degrees!
Elkhorn Relay is organized and carried out by Doomsday Racing, a non-profit organization sending excess relay proceeds to a charity or ministry in foreign countries. You can learn more about Doomsday Racing and Elkhorn Relay HERE.

We chose this race for several reasons:

Accessibility – that was before I moved to Montana!

Affordability – all the organization and race weekend legwork are done voluntarily. Even the folks providing pancakes, pulled pork, and hamburgers and hot dogs!

Challenging Course – they bragged about the course and we know why! The 100+ temps magnified the challenge.

Where's my leg?
We loved this race for these reasons:

Accessibility – a short drive from the Treasure Valley, this relay is convenient for the running community in Boise and surrounding areas. The drive home is especially nice as the weekend’s sleep deprivation begins to take its toll.

The view!
The Course – we don’t train all season for a Fun Run! If you’re going to challenge yourself and your teammates, you might as well go for it. We dubbed this course the EKG and even put it on our team shirts!

Free Food – Really! Except for half a banana and a muffin at the end, most races require you to purchase your food. It isn’t so much about the money, but the convenience of having a meal ready so you don’t have to locate your money in the chaos that is your race van. Fresh water and sports drinks were also provided. Oh, and huckleberry muffins!

The Volunteers – they might not have been running, but many spent long hours volunteering at exchange zones, some fulfilling multiple shifts. I’m rather certain they were also experiencing sleep deprivation. One station lit up their canopy AND the portable toilet with Christmas lights! It was a welcoming sight at midnight. They were happy to be there, or they were very good actors. Best volunteers I’ve experienced at a relay!

Portable Toilets – okay, this is important to relay runners. They were clean and plentiful. Thank you!

We love our teammates for these reasons:

Adventurous Spirits – not every person you meet is willing to try something as challenging and unpredictable as a relay race. The weather may change (and it did) from blistering heat to a thunderstorm and back again. The team deals with it.

Happy People – its not okay to be grouchy when everyone around you is also tired, sore, uncomfortable, and doing their best to remain positive. It’s not easy to go without normal sleeping and eating patterns while exerting repeated physical activity. The team deals with it.

Injuries happen.
The team deals with it!
Runners to the Rescue – someone often gets injured. It’s just the nature of the running beast. And someone always steps up to log extra miles, or swap out an easier run, or run early to allow his teammate extra recovery time. It wasn’t planned, but the team deals with it.

Assisting a teammate
 at the end of her run.
Runner’s Respect – running is hard. Don’t ever think that the guy out their logging miles is doing it pain free or that you would be a runner if it was as easy for you as it is for a runner. It’s just plain hard and there is a bond that forms when people share misery. I often say, “A relay is the most miserable fun you will ever have.” It’s also a very effective way to gain family, the kind of family you were not born with, but will never let you down.

“Are you crazy?” People will ask, or maybe its an accusation. Perhaps we are, but we get to hang out with the best kind of crazy people on earth! They are relay runners, and they are family.
We made it!
206 miles in 31 hours 46 minutes!
Thanks, Elkhorn Relay, for a great weekend. We had fun and your volunteers were the best!

Catching some ZZZ anywhere he can!                      Cooling off!

Van 1 is done!
Team bonding. We love our pre-race dinner!
Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
Carol - aka Running Granny Green

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Montana's Hidden Gems: Stone School Inn

Stone School Inn Built 1911
I have already shared some things that returned to Montana and some things that are finding a new home in Montana, I guess its time to share something I have found in Montana! This is only the beginning of many posts of Montana's Hidden Gems. Perhaps these posts will draw you to this remarkable land.

Glacier National Park is a must on every American’s bucket list. I will regularly share some pictures and thoughts from the park, but there are many gems hidden in the areas surrounding the park that you might want to add to your list. Let’s begin with the Stone School Inn Bed & Breakfast in Valier. I joke that I am running my own non-profit B&B for friends and family, but the Stone School Inn is the real deal and it’s a short drive from the east entrance of Glacier National Park and Going-to-the-Sun Road!

St Mary Lake

We wandered over the other day to see if we could get a glimpse of the building and find a little info. The owner, Susan, was more than gracious as she invited us in and gave an informative tour of the old building. Built in 1911, it still holds the charm of that era while providing upgrades like air conditioning and Wi-Fi to which we have all become accustomed. The staircase that greets visitors reminds me of my old elementary school in another resort town, Lava Hot Springs. 

The five bedrooms have private bathrooms with two of the rooms showing off claw foot bathtubs. Each room holds a charm of its own. Breakfast is optional, and Susan will even pack it to go for those headed to “The Park,” fishing on Lake Frances (it’s only a short stroll away), or going on a dinosaur dig in Bynum, MT. That's right, a dinosaur dig!

Sunset viewed from Lake Frances

The Dining Room, Game Room, and Library are all open to guests. What a great place to host a family reunion or a retreat for your quilting or writing group!

 Although this hidden gem appears off the beaten path, it's right along one of the main routes (I might add most scenic) to Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road. A gorgeous view of Lake Frances and the Eastern Front of the Rocky Mountains is right outside your door! Visit Montana and stay at this unique bed and breakfast while you explore other Montana treasures.

Note: The Stone School Inn is available for purchase. If you are looking for and adventurous business opportunity, this might be right for you.

Learn more about the Stone School Inn in Valier, Montana HERE.

Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
Carol - aka Running Granny Green

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Finding Home in Montana

Coach Beck's Cricket
I recently shared a post about things Coming Home to Montana, items that are returning along with me. This post, however, is about things new to Montana, items that just seem to fit here. Interesting enough, my husband, a native Idahoan, is adjusting nicely to this new life. As of yesterday, we are both registered voters!

This little guy belonged to my dear friend, Coach Beck. She kept him on a table near her front door and each time I visited, I mentioned that I wanted her to will it to me when she died. (I’m older than her, but I couldn’t help trying!) Imagine my delight, and tears, when she placed it in my hand before I made my official final journey to my new home. He is perched near my front door on the pedestal at the bottom of my stairs. He just seems to fit there. I think of Coach Beck each time I pass by him.

Bonnie's Stained-glass
This stained-glass window hanging was made several years ago by my little sis, Bonnie. She never lived in Montana, but she has already been here to visit! It is decorating the window also at the bottom of my stairs. It adds a splash of color and delicacy to the stairwell. I think it fits nicely.

Another dear friend, Dana, pieced this lovely lap quilt and gave it to me after a term of shared service. I love it! I’ve taken it in the car on some of my trips back and forth during my Montana Move. It found a home in the living room. I’m certain it will have many opportunities to warm a body or two in the winters that lie ahead. Again, I think it fits my Montana home just right.
Lastly (for now), these items have been collected over time. The mirror was a recent purchase. The blown glass candle holder was a gift from another sis, Judy. (I have a lot of sisters!) I purchased the pitcher and vase many years ago, before I was married, as part of some pottery I was collecting at the time. They found their home atop a china hutch that isn’t really a china hutch. It is a pair of ends to our entertainment center that was too large for any wall in our new old (built 1920) house. Oddly enough, it didn’t fit as a set, but it serves a needed purpose.
Not really a hutch!
There are many other items that are “settling in,” just like me. The antique dining chairs, the items in the china hutch, family photos and bedroom furniture are all finding their spots. Even my cinnamon rolls and power cookies have discovered a friend or two!
What does it all mean? Was I “destined” to return to Montana? Perhaps. I like to think, however, that life is adaptable – that one can kind find a home wherever their road takes them. A home and friendship and comfort can be found wherever we go. I think that is because we don’t really find those things, we bring them with us. Would you agree?
Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
Carol - aka Running Granny Green

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Is that a Bear!

Panorama of my out and back run
I expected to see a fair amount of wildlife upon moving to Montana, and I have not been disappointed. As bears, even grizzly bears, are often present in this part of the world, I have been a bit nervous to venture very far when I run. I like to think I am brave, but I have my limits. Bears are on my list of limitations!

I have committed to yet another relay this summer and so I must train. I use that term loosely, as training has been a bit difficult this year partly due to my move, a small injury, wind, and mostly – bears! I have not yet seen one, but I am certain they are just waiting to eat me!

I recently found myself on a run with my music in my ears, eyes upon the road, and feet pounding the pavement. As I had not yet seen a bear, I was confident and cautious. The longer I go without seeing a bear the less likely my chances of encountering one, right? Not only have I not encountered a bear, I have yet to find a running buddy in Montana. I hope I find a buddy before I find a bear.

Anyhow, back to the story …

I was about a mile into my planned long run when over my left shoulder I heard a commotion! Yes, I thought it might be a bear, just waiting along the roadside for me so that he might consume me for lunch! Startled, I did a kind of hopping motion to the middle of the road and gave a quick look over my shoulder.


All was still except for some irrigation water slowly flowing through a Montana ditch (larger than a Treasure Valley ditch but smaller than a canal). Relieved, I investigated further and discovered a kind of burrow about three feet above the water line. I resumed my run which was less than impressive. I think the quick surge of adrenaline and my investigative pause sabotaged the rest of my workout. Alas, I have a few sabotaged workouts of late.

The out and back course gave me an opportunity to look further into the mystery. Upon my return to the site, I could see something in the burrow. As I neared, a large fur bearing water mammal of some sort dove out of the burrow making a big splash in the ditch below and swimming swiftly under the bridge upon which I was standing. This was the same noise I had heard earlier. It sounded like my friends doing cannonballs off the diving boards at Lava Hot Springs! (Okay, perhaps not THAT loud.) As usual, I was slow to retrieve my camera and I missed the opportunity to photo document the experience. Here is a picture of the burrow.

The burrow or den
 When I returned to the refuge of my home, I Googled “mammals of Montana” and determined that it was merely a river otter diving for cover from this fierce runner lady!

Still, it startled me. And it COULD have been a bear.

I think I need a running buddy – badly!

Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
Carol - aka Running Granny Green

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Apricot Jam and Canning Thoughts

Apricot Jam!
I fell heir to a few apricots this weekend. Too many to eat before they ripen beyond fit for human consumption, I chose to make some apricot jam. It was my first food preservation project since moving to Montana. It seemed like a good idea, however, locating my canning supplies was a bit of a challenge. I found the essentials but had to improvise as my canning funnel and bottle lifter were no where to be found. As I spilled hot jam down the sides of my jars and dripped it on my floor, I was reminded that sometimes it is okay not to preserve everything one can scavenge! I've had these thoughts before and even shared them with my readers.

Here is an excerpt from Gold Pans and Iron Skillets that further explains my thoughts on canning and preserving.


Just Because You Can,
Doesn’t Mean You Should

I married a dairy farmer and soon learned that one of my major responsibilities as a farm wife would be to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for the coming winter. Having avoided these activities for my first twenty-five years, I was apprehensive of the tasks at hand. To my surprise, my initial experience proved a joy rather than a chore!

As our strawberry patch began to show signs of a harvest, my husband of just six months had a hint he was fond of using. “Soon, you’ll be able to make strawberry jam!” When the day arrived, I rolled up my sleeves, gritted my teeth, and plunged into my duty. As I stood stirring the thickening jam, I remembered Grandma Nelson—or rather, Grandma Nelson’s Back Porch. There was an old manual washing machine in the room we referred to as the Back Porch. Grandma had been afflicted with a stroke and her ten children shared the burden of caring for her in her own home. I can remember my mother washing clothes in that old machine when we stayed with Grandma after her stroke. My favorite part of Grandma’s Back Porch was an upright freezer. On the racks inside its door were bottles of strawberry jam. I can’t recall what other treats it contained; probably a trout or two from Teton Creek and some frozen corn. I remember opening the freezer door and touching the jars with my fingertips. I would hold my fingers against the glass until the frost melted and tiny windows revealed the red goodies within. Mom would catch me and growl at me for keeping the freezer door open, just as I now growl at my children for similar offenses!

I make strawberry jam every year. Whether I have five jars in my freezer or twenty-five, I complete the ritual. It has become a tradition for me. In a way, it helps to preserve my memory of Grandma, and of Grandma’s house, for each time I stir my strawberry jam I recall the first time I made it and the memories come flooding back. I will always keep frosty jars of strawberry jam in my upright freezer just as there were always frosty jars in Grandma Nelson’s freezer.

Not every canning project is as rewarding or goes as smoothly as did my strawberry jam efforts. Over the years, countless bottles have refused to seal, bushels of fruit have spoiled before the task was completed, and dozens of filled jars remain on my shelves because the family just doesn’t like canned peaches and pears anymore. They never did develop an appetite for the carrots and new potatoes I bottled just because I could. There are those items that remain unidentified because, as a beginner, I wasn’t wise enough to label and date the lids. They will never be eaten, but I am reluctant to dispose of them as I am confident they took much effort and time that I didn’t have to spare.

Red onions are abundant, free, and pretty. I thought it a good idea to save some for a rainy day. Having located a recipe for Vinegared Red Onions, I filled three dozen pint jars. I have only opened one. The pink onions were nasty! They lost a little color as they were processed, but the onion and vinegar flavors became stronger, too strong to use as a garnish, condiment, or main dish! They aren’t even worth using as a decoration, as the color has continued to fade to a dull brown.

I have streamlined my canning and preserving efforts over the years. I now strive to devote my time, talents, and cash to things that will be of use such as: green beans, pickled beets, apple pie filling, and frozen corn. Oh, and strawberry jam, because not only is it of sentimental value, it has become a staple in our diet. My family might perish without a freezer full of strawberry jam!
What about you? Do you have a food preservation experience that made you question the wisdom of the project? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this essay, you can read more either in the hard copy or Kindle version of Gold Pans and Irons Skillets.
Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
Carol - aka Running Granny Green

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.