We’ve finally found our niche, Part III … Embracing the Rural Life & wanting to make the ESVA our permanent Home

If you need to catch up, check out Part I and Part II before proceeding. Or just read on and if you get lost, I warned you…

Now Chris and I are both working full time. He was working at Wallops Flight Facility and I got a job at Atlantic Animal Hospital. He had a 30 minute (23 mile) commute, I had a 10 minute (4 miles out, 3 miles back) commute. His job paid a LOT more than mine and his hours were more flexible than mine so I couldn’t feel but so bad for him and his commute. Though he did realize it was a good thing that he could make a 23 mile drive in under 30 minutes. In California a 23 mile drive would’ve taken at least 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were going.

I was home long enough with the dogs and cats before I started working to get them well acclimated to their new home and surroundings. Chompers and C.J. were both the most trustworthy dogs on the planet, so I never had to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. I just worried about them chasing critters outdoors, especially at night, and that only happened when we were home with them.

PRODUCT PLUG: Noxgear Lighthound Vest has been a GODSEND for us since moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

Esme sporting her Noxgear Lighthound vest during an evening stroll.

After being at the animal hospital for a few weeks, I had a conversation about the ticks in the area. My dogs were on Frontline Plus but I would still find numerous ticks on them, some were dying but several were engorged, enjoying a nice blood meal. One of my coworkers had suggested we get some chickens on the property. The chickens love to eat bugs, including ticks. Someone else had suggested we get guinea birds. Chris and I discussed it for a few weeks and decided on giving chickens a try. Before we even had a coop built I brought home a dozen little baby Silkies.

It took only a weekend to erect a small chicken coop. I came up with the design and Chris helped me build it. I thought I did pretty good considering I am not a carpenter.

Our first Chicken Coop. It was small, raised and completely enclosed. It served its purpose for a few years before we realized a few design flaws!

A few weeks after we brought home the biddies, they were ready to go to the coop. We confined them in the coop for about 2 weeks, then started letting them out to explore the yard during the days when we were home.

By early Spring the chickens were well acclimated to their home. We would let them out to free range when we were home, and they would return to their coop every evening. I had zero experience with raising chickens prior to bringing these home. I have to tell you, it was pretty easy to raise them from hatchlings to free rangers! I was not familiar with this particular breed of chicken either and thought they were the cutest things ever. They are a small, bantam type chicken with fluffy plumage. We called them our poodle chickens.

Our silkies were very friendly and personable, and loved a snack of stale bread or left-over French fries.

By late spring we started to notice that we were no longer finding ticks on our dogs or us. Then there was a little added bonus that started to appear in the coop…eggs!  And they were the best-tasting eggs we’ve ever had.  When we had extras we’d share with our friends and neighbors.  If we were going to be making a trip to the midwest to visit family, we were sure to bring eggs with us.  Chickens.  Who’d-a thunk it when we were leaving California…

In the years that followed, we both completely embraced the rural lifestyle of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We have met some very amazing, interesting, and wonderful people during our time here.  We had come to truly accept this as our home.  We felt at home.  We wanted it to be our permanent home.

Then things started to get a little rocky for Chris at Wallops.  His project was losing funding and he wasn’t sure whether or not his position would still exist when it was time for contract negotiations.  Every year he managed to still have employment!  Until the summer of 2017.  The project was no longer getting any funding.  At least not enough to keep him on it.  He got laid off.

…To be Continued…  Stay tuned!  And thanks for following along!

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We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…

CJ and Esme … Guess the Breed(s)

A few months ago I decided to have both CJ & Esme DNA tested. I did it not just to learn their breed history, but also because this particular test screened for 140+ hereditary conditions. Royal Canin’s Genetic Health Analysis is a great addition to any dog’s health record.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you may have already seen the results. If you haven’t seen the results, dare to venture a guess as to the top 2 breeds of CJ and Esme! I’ll let you all know what the results were in about 14 days. Let’s hope I don’t go on another blogging hiatus for months and months if the suspense is going to kill you. Here are some photos to go on in the meantime. First, CJ.

 

CJ LOVES the water!

 

CJ’s most favorite activity is fetching his aerobie. Aerobie is life for him. Even in his old age.

 

CJ and his aerobies. His most favorite toy on the planet!

Then Esme.

Esme’s first day in our home.  Esme on the left, CJ on the right.

 

Esme enjoys walks and exploring. She has a great nose and has tracked a fox or two in the back yard.

 

Here is Esme after being with us for a month. Still working on leash manners!

 

“Just look at these tonsils!” Esme has a big yawn, is a lover and wants to be friends with every dog she meets!!! People she’s a bit leary of.

Feel free to comment to ask about personality, habits, etc. CJ is very much a fetcher. Esme does not fetch. Esme is a cuddler! CJ not so much. CJ loves people and tolerates other animals. Esme likes other animals, especially other dogs, but is weird about certain people. CJ is smart! Esme is cute. CJ eats edible things! Esme eats things she shouldn’t. CJ is 13 years old and weighs about 54 pounds. Esme is about a year and a half and weighs 44 pounds.

We have a (relatively) NEW FAMILY MEMBER!

Many of you already know about her, but if you don’t follow me regularly…meet Esme!

We welcomed Esme into our home on December 5, 2018.  She is a former Rescue Dogs Rock alum (fka “Esmeralda”) that was being fostered by a friend of mine locally.  We weren’t really looking for another dog but, long story short, ever since I first learned about her I couldn’t stop thinking about her!  So after 2 months of no adoption interest we set up a meet-n-greet for Esme and C.J.  I would never bring another dog into the home if C.J. did not approve, so he was the decision maker.  You already know how this story ends…

The day Esme came to visit, she was rather timid but was quite interested in C.J.  She wanted to go wherever he went in the yard.  C.J. checked her out and she let him.  Then we tried to get her into the house.  She wouldn’t go in.  I called C.J. in and Esme then followed.  While we were standing in the kitchen talking about Esme and where she came from, what feats she’s made, her habits and such, C.J. came into the room and left his most prized possession (his aerobie) at her feet.  My heart melted and I knew he approved.  The next step was waiting for our adoption application to be approved.  What really took about 2 weeks felt like months!

Once we were approved on paper, we had to wait for a home check to finalize the adoption.  The rescue is located in New York City and most of the volunteers for the organization are located in or near NYC.  Not too many to be found here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia!  Thankfully they were able to find someone in Salisbury, MD that could come to our home for the home check.  Because of work schedules and the distance though, we still had to wait for days (which felt like weeks).  The waiting game was excruciating for me!  I’ve never had to go through this before.  Being in the profession I am, and have been for 25+ years, if I decided I wanted to take on a dog, I took it in that day!  If it was on a hold for any reason (ie:  found dog on an adoption hold for 10 days giving the owner time to claim), I would “foster” it until the hold was expired.

After 25 years (well, it sure felt like it) we finally got the word that we were approved!  Once the go-ahead was given we planned her arrival for the next day.

I have done rescue and fostering in the past and I know how difficult it can be to leave a foster with their new, forever home.  Dana, my friend who was fostering her, experienced this when she brought Esme to us after the adoption was finalized.  Esme was her first foster.  I felt for her and empathized with her, but also encouraged her to continue fostering.  The reward is worth it; knowing that you were a caring, nurturing transition for this pet and the primary catalyst in finding the pet his or her forever loving home.

Dana is currently fostering her 3rd RDR!  Keep it up Dana, the dogs are forever grateful to you, as are the adopters.

This is a picture of Esme & C.J. the day she came home to us…

Esme’s first day in our home

It’s been an adventure ever since…

Stay tuned for more “Adventures with Esme”… In the meantime look for her on IG with the tag #shewearspants

The Power of Positivity is Real

I’ve always been a believer in the Power of Positivity. This past week enhanced that belief a million-fold.

On Tuesday my 13 year old “Lab” mix, C.J., woke me up at 2AM to go outside. It was too dark for me to see what he was doing, but with his Noxgear Lighthound vest I could see that he was back in the trees where he would normally go to poop. I saw him stop for a few seconds, then went zooming from one side of the grove to the other. He’d pause again, then go back and forth again. This went on for a good 5 minutes or so. When he finally came back to the house, he was panting and went straight to the water bowl. I tried to go back to sleep.

When I woke up at about 4AM, I found a small pile of diarrhea on the rug next to the back door. Poor C.J. was having some stomach upset. He ate readily around 6AM and didn’t have any other bouts of the Big D.

I took him to work with me that day, as I typically do on Tuesdays anyway, and he seemed to be his normal self. Then one of the girls came to me to let me know he had explosive watery diarrhea. I was trying to figure out what it could be that was going on with him. I had a lightbulb moment while talking to a coworker about life-fails. She was telling me about how she spilled piping hot coffee on her over the weekend, and that sparked a memory of a jar of bone broth exploding all over my kitchen that Sunday. Before I could get it all cleaned up, C.J. was over there licking up what he could on the floor. It had to be dietary indiscretion or, worse (and I hoped not), pancreatitis. After talking with the veterinarian we decided to go conservative and treated for dietary indiscretion. That meant small and frequent meals of a bland diet.

By Wednesday morning, C.J. was still having watery diarrhea. He had a few accidents in the house. He was still with appetite and acting normal, with the exception of letting us know he had to go out frequently. He ate breakfast that morning, then vomited it up shortly thereafter. Back to work he went with me for monitoring and so that I could let him go outside to eliminate frequently. He seemed okay, but by midday he had vomited one more time. This time it was just phlegm. We gave him an antiemetic injection at that point and continued to treat for dietary indiscretion.

Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of C.J. pacing around the house. When I walked into the dining room there were about 6 or 7 piles of watery, bloody diarrhea on the floor. C.J. was also acting very puny, lethargic and was breathing rapidly with a rapid heart rate. I thought to myself, crap, it IS pancreatitis. I took him to the vet clinic before I went to teach my class at the YMCA that morning and let my coworkers know what was going on.

When I arrived at work that day the bloodwork had already been run on C.J. It was unremarkable. His pancreatic enzymes were normal, his liver values were normal, there was nothing really to indicate pancreatitis, or anything else for that matter. C.J. was definitely not feeling well and was dehydrated and still breathing fast as if he was severely uncomfortable. We placed an IV catheter and started him on IV fluids. Even though his bloodwork was normal, we proceeded to treat him supportively, as we would for pancreatitis or a viral infection like Parvovirus.

By lunch time C.J. had worsened. He would barely lift his head to acknowledge me when I went to check on him. I ended up spending most of my lunch hour in the kennel with him, loving on him and telling him he had to get better. That’s when the worst thoughts started going through my head. My heart started to sink and I couldn’t help but to start crying. I had this feeling that this was going to be the end. I was NOT ready for that!  I had my cell phone with me while I was hanging out with C.J. in the kennel and took a picture of the two of us.  I posted it on IG & FB to let friends and family know what was going on, and to plea for positive vibes to be sent his way.

The people I work with are amazing.  They discussed amongst each other what to do.  We could x-ray him and make sure there’s not something going on like a tumor hidden somewhere, an enlarged/shrunken/abnormal organ, etc.  They offered to help me get him ready for transport to a Veterinary Specialty facility that had a boarded internist, they would take care of Esme and Freddie Mercury until I returned, and would make sure my shift was covered at the animal hospital.  I decided to start with x-rays.  I was hoping to find something to validate my suspicions and to help us come up with a treatment plan for C.J.  We x-rayed his chest and his abdomen.  For a 13 year old large breed dog, that boy had some absolutely beautiful x-rays!  With the exception of some evidence of arthritis in his caudal spine, he was in pretty stellar shape.  Still no answer as to why C.J. was in the predicament he was.  I opted to continue to treat him supportively, at least over 24 hours to see if he’d improve.  If he didn’t, then I would either take him to the internist or make some other more final decisions.

Because it’s what I do and I am well-trained in animal nursing care, I was able to bring C.J. home with me to convalesce.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to “hospitalize” one of my pets at home on IV fluids and medications.  The first one was Chompers when he got into bread dough and I had to treat him for alcohol toxicity.  Yes, he got drunk!  Then there was Lazarus when he had his poop problems that set him into a downward spiral.  So far, my recovery rate was at 100%.  I really didn’t want to ruin my perfect record.

I set up my at home ICU, which is just a dog crate set up to be as comfortable as possible.  I borrowed an IV infusion pump from work to keep C.J.’s fluids in check.  I managed his IV catheter, monitored him constantly, administered all of his prescribed medications IV or orally, and spent the night with him.  He was confined to his Intensive Care Unit while I made myself as comfortable as I could on his dog bed just outside the facility.  It was a really long night … for me.  Every noise that came from him or his kennel alerted me.  If he sighed, I was wide awake, ready to reassess his respiratory and heart rates.  If he moved I was wide awake making sure he didn’t need to go out.

Friday morning C.J. seemed a little happier.  He acted like he might be interested in food.  I offered him some canned bland diet.  He turned his nose from it.  I snatched a sliver of turkey cold cut from Chris’ sandwich that he had prepared for lunch.  C.J. ate it without gusto.  I then offered him a venison jerky treat.  He ate it.  I started to wonder if he was having an aversion to the canned bland diet since that’s what he ate the last time just prior to his first bout of vomiting.  I decided to head to the grocery store to get some chicken breast and white rice.  I boiled the rice and the chicken breast (separately).  Once they were cooked and somewhat chilled, I shredded the chicken breast and offered C.J. a tiny bit of the chicken.  He ate it!  I mixed the rest of the chicken with the rice.  After an hour or so I offered C.J. a couple of tablespoons of the chicken and rice mixture.  He ate about half of it.  About an hour later I offered him another 2 tablespoons.  This time he ate all of it.  An hour later the same was offered, he ate most of it.  I continued to offer him a few tablespoons throughout the evening.

I had to work Saturday morning so I brought C.J. with me.  He was definitely improved by Saturday morning.  He was more alert and active, but not quite himself yet.  He ate a little bit of the chicken and rice for me in the morning.  Not as much as I would’ve liked, but he ate some.  He had not vomited since Wednesday, and I haven’t seen a bowel movement since Wednesday either.  I was anxiously awaiting a poop from C.J.

Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon C.J. pooped!  It wasn’t formed, but it wasn’t watery like it had been.  I call that “progress.”

This morning C.J. was ready eat like usual.  I am not ready to go all-out regular diet yet, so he had a mix of bland diet & his regular food this morning.  He ate all of it.  My heart is put back together.  I followed him out to the trees to see him poop.  He pooped and it was still soft, but formed!  Not liquid!  He is definitely on the mend!

I can’t help but believe that all of the positive vibes, prayers and well wishes that friends, family and acquaintances sent had something to do with C.J.’s recovery.  We still don’t know what exactly was going on, but we do know that he is better and that is all that matters.  Thank you to everyone who was looking out for him.  It is appreciated more than you may ever realize.

Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run

About 6 weeks or more ago, a friend and fellow runner let me know about this local 5K that was going to happen in early June at the Wildlife Loop at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The race was free and was limited to 100 participants. I jumped on it because 1) you can’t beat that price for a race entry, 2) the location is a lovely one and 3) it will ensure that I get up early and get a run in that day. race33288-logo.bxeQDw

I signed up along with several other runner friends. At the registration page they were taking donations to go toward the Assateague Island Alliance (a non-profit friends group of Assateague Island National Seashore that helps to raise funds to go toward preservation of the island while also supporting educational programming). Of course I donated, though it was a small amount.

A week prior to race day all of the participants received an email that gave details of the run; when and where to pick up your race packet, how to get into the park, where to park your vehicle, how to prepare for the race due to its location and abundance of bitey bugs, rain date info, and a little note of appreciation at the end.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service granted each participant free admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  Therefore, if one chose to do so, race participants could stick around after the run and make a day of hiking, beaching, lighthouse visiting, pony watching, whatever they choose, all for free.  I thought that was absolutely awesome and generous, especially given that the race entry fee was free.

I awoke early June 4th, the morning of the race, to get there on time as Chincoteague was about a 40 minute drive from home.  I didn’t have to get there too early since a running buddy already picked up race packets for all of those in our troupe.  The weather was warm, a little foggy with overcast skies.  The humidity was mild.  The drive in was smooth and once I got on the island I was surprised to find it as calm and quiet as it was.  It was pretty early and many of the shops were still closed, but it is summer around here so I thought there’d be more hustle and bustle going on.  Perhaps they were anticipating rain?  I made it to the park gate earlier than I had expected due to the lack of traffic and pedestrians (and I might have a slight case of lead foot at times).  Almost immediately after I entered through the gate there was someone on the side of the road directing us to the parking area for the race.

Arrival was welcoming and easy.  There were a few participants there by the time I had shown up, but most of them poured in almost immediately afterward.  There were park rangers at the registration table, happy to answer any questions and excited about the event.  One of the rangers was perusing through the crowd taking photos.  I gathered with a group of my running buddies to take a “before” photo in front of the banner on display.

A fun photo before the race began

A fun photo before the race began

In our race packets there were pamphlets about the area, a temporary tattoo (which we all were happy to sport), a decal for our vehicles, a race bib and a t-shirt.  Did I mention that the registration for this race was FREE?

All tattooed and ready to run!

All tattooed and ready to run!

As the start time neared, I ran into several other friends and fellow runners from our community!  I was elated to see each and every one of them.  There were participants of all ages, some seasoned runners and some first timers.  After a brief welcoming and intro at the start line, we were off.

The route was a paved, flat, scenic loop filled with coastal flora and fauna.  It was peaceful; only the sounds of birds and frogs in the distance, the pitter patter of shoes on the pavement, and the occasional spoken words of encouragement from one runner to another.

Before I knew it I was almost at the finish!  I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the beauty that surrounded me.  The park rangers, as well as those that had finished before me and some other supporters, were there to greet all of us with high fives, congratulatory messages, and a finishing patch.  There were bananas and water at the finish for all of us too.  All of this for a registration fee of $0.00.

Our finisher patch!

Our finisher patch!

This was the first event of this type for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and they did an absolute perfect job putting it together.  From the ease of registration to the final minutes after the race, everything was well organized and the race bling was generous given the cost of registration.

If ever there is a race such as this in your area, I encourage you to take part.  And if they are accepting donations, remember that every little bit helps their cause.  I for one will happily partake in another of these events, and not just for the “bling,” but because of the sense of community it creates.

The Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run has raised just shy of 50% of their goal as of the date of my blogging this.  They are still accepting donations if you wish to help the cause.  Visit their donation page here to help them raise funds for preservation and education.

THE Rugged Maniac…Part 1 of however long it takes me to finish this post…The Beginning

Saturday May 2nd, I along with several friends and acquaintances took part in the Rugged Maniac at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg. Speaking for myself, but certain that all of my team participants would agree, it was AWESOME! What a blast and what a great group of people (both my team members and all of the others who attended).

Ever since I did my first mud run in 2012 at Camp Ramblewood in Darlington, MD, I couldn’t wait to do another. It all started with the no-longer-in-existence Run For Your Lives, a 5K Obstacle Course Race where you had to escape zombies. It was an awesome time. Even though we had to swim across a freezing cold river in late October, I’d have still chosen to do it all over again. And there were zombies.  Fun!  What an awesome feeling of accomplishment it was to make it through all of the obstacles that I never thought I’d ever be able to do! Like crossing a freezing river in October. Had I known that was one of the obstacles beforehand, I probably would have never signed up to take part in the event. Smart move there race directors at Reed Street Productions.

Since that first experience, I did another Run For Your Lives in Illinois in September of 2013 at Byron Motorsports Park. It also was a blast, but not nearly as fun as the first one. The obstacles weren’t quite as good, most likely due to the location of the event. There were no rivers. Plenty of mud and plenty of zombies, but it was lacking something. Like a freezing cold river. I didn’t feel quite as accomplished after that one. I didn’t feel like I overcame anything, if that makes any sense. None of the obstacles were “OMG!”

Not because of my disappointment with the 2nd RFYL, I didn’t do any more mud runs until last weekend. There just weren’t any convenient ones for me that I could get time off for; at least none that made me go “I have to do this.” Then the Rugged Maniac ads started to fill my email and social media feeds. I can do that. It’s relatively nearby, and I had plenty of notice to ensure I would be available that weekend! So I put some feelers out to see if anyone else was interested in joining me, because a mud run is SO MUCH more fun with a group than solo. The fish started biting almost immediately. So we signed up. Over the course of a couple of months our team grew to a total of 11. I knew this was going to be one hell of a fun weekend! And I was right.

The majority of the team drove to a nearby town the night before.  A few of them carpooled with me.  We made a weekend out of the event; why not?  By doing this we didn’t have to worry about traffic, especially at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which could have delayed us if we left the day of the event.  That HRBT is a bear sometimes.  Not a soft, cuddly teddy bear; a grumpy, nasty, mean Grizzly Bear.  Sometimes traffic moves like a hibernating bear.

We arrived at our hotel unscathed and went out to dinner at a mediocre sushi restaurant.  At least the Nigori Sake was good (a little too good as I may have had a bit too much of it).     After dinner we returned to the hotel rooms and had fun playing Cards Against Humanity (we are horrible people!) and drinking beer.  I don’t really remember exactly how the night ended, I just woke up the next morning bright and early and ready to get muddy!

Sushi Dinner2

Sushi the night before

 

Our wave time was 12:15PM, so we headed over to the event site around 9:45AM as it was a 20 minute drive from the hotel.  We arrived just in time to see some parachuters landing.  That was pretty cool.  After checking in and getting our race gear we perused the event grounds to see what was happening!  There was a mechanical bull that we just HAD to try.  So we did.  That was fun.

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My first Mechanical Bull Ride

 

There was a beer tent (yay!) and several food vendors that were serving anything from greek sandwiches to funnel cakes.  I steered clear of all of that stuff.  If I’m going to have something that’s going to make my guts sour, I’ll stick to the beer.  They have bananas and other fruits post race, and I snuck a bagel and a banana from the continental breakfast offered at the hotel before we left.  Always thinking ahead (or at least TRYING to be prepared!).  There were some other gym/fitness tents but, unfortunately for us ESVA folks, they’re not anywhere local enough for us.  But I did chat with a few of them to see what they offered, to encourage them to bring POUND to their gyms (because it’s awesome), and to try to talk them into coming to the shore!  We’ll see how much influence I had on them.  I’m sure it wasn’t much.

There was this one awesome group there called OCR Unleashed.  They had a mini obstacle course set up that consisted of crawling, leaping, lifting huge tires and box jumping.  After talking to the gal at the tent I convinced my team to “warm up” here.  It was GREAT FUN!  It reminded me of CrossFit, which doesn’t exist on the shore but I really wish it did.  If there were a place convenient for me to get trained, I’d do it and bring it here.  But there’s not.  So I’ll continue to dream.  Back to OCR Unleashed…the mini obstacle course was a blast and I learned that they have an Obstacle Course facility in Great Falls, VA that I WILL visit one day in the near future.  The folks involved with the group are just totally cool, even the ones I haven’t met are cool.  Trust me, I know people.  Check them out and if you are in the area, visit the facility!  Just don’t rub it in about how awesome it is because that will make me feel sad.  Not really, it will encourage me to get out there that much quicker actually, so tell me all about it!!!

OCR01

Crawling Under

OCR07

Leaping Over

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Lift and flip over a heavy tire two times

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5 box jumps

 

After our warm-up we took a group shot of all of us girls!

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Rugged and Powerful Girls!

 

Then we headed to the start line because our wave was next!  Just to start they make you jump over a wall.  Awesome.  I love this event already.  And it hasn’t even really started for me yet…

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It’s about to go down! Getting fired up at the start line

I’m ready to get muddy now!  Let’s go!…

…to be continued…