Total miles run: 1280.1

It took me a while to bounce back (both physically and mentally) from my two ankle sprains in late 2017.

The winter months were tough. I just didn’t have my normal drive to get up and out on those cold, dark mornings. So my yearly mileage was fairly low and (unlike other low-mileage years) I wasn’t biking and swimming instead of running. Mostly, I was curled up in my chair with a cup of tea, a book and a kitty on my lap. Embracing the hygge. Time well-spent I think, as I lost my cuddliest kitty later in the year. I’m happy to have had that extra cuddle time.


2018 Races


Blue Ridge Marathon

Jogging de la Ligne

Conquer the Cove 25k

I feel bad that I never wrote anything about Conquer the Cove this year. It is possibly my favorite trail race, which is why I ran it even though it was held the weekend Brian and I got back from Belgium. I was jet-lagged, fighting off a cold and exhausted from vacation, but I really didn’t want to miss the race! It went about how you would imagine. Although in truth, it surprised me just how much that combination of circumstances affected my run. It took me three hours and forty-two minutes, which is almost a full HOUR longer than the last time I ran it (2:47). Yikes! It was still a great race and I loved jumping in the lake afterward just as much as I always have.

In addition to my dismal performance, I didn’t take any pictures this year. And these are the only two of me from the race pics (I’m in the peachy/orange tank top.)


Odyssey Trail Running Rampage Half Marathon



Non-running 2018 highlights:

My first (and second!) trip(s) overseas.


View from our Airbnb in Compogne



London and Scotland with the family




Edinburgh Military Tattoo

2018 was a mixed bag of high highs and low lows.

Life, I guess.

See you in 2019!

Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness

We took a day-long bus tour from Edinburgh through the Highlands up to Loch Ness. While the Highlands were spectacular and I’m so glad I got to see them, one day on a bus was not long enough! I wanted so badly to explore, but there just wasn’t time.

Now I want to go back and do some hiking, biking and trail running.


The Kelpies


I’m at my happiest in nature.


We saw Nessie!

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There were so many bike and hiking paths and we didn’t get to explore any of them!

IMG_20180807_180842374IMG_20180807_183201179 (1)I searched every field hoping to spot a Highland Coo and actually saw a couple, but wasn’t able to get any pictures. They’re such cool creatures!

I may have developed a slight Highland Coo obsession while I was in Scotland.

Glasgow, Scotland (August 2018)

My grandfather, John Smart, once told me that he considered himself the nut on the family tree and possibly out of step with the rest of the world. He then quickly assured me that he’s always been happy doing his own thing and does not regret the way he lived his life.

This is precisely why I’ve always admired the man so much.


He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1917.

In August, my family took a trip to his hometown.

The house he lived in is still standing.


A couple of blocks from his house, my nephew scattered some of his ashes in the river Clyde.


We took refuge from the chilly, wet, (typical) Scottish weather in a funky little bar and made a whisky toast in his honor.



To John!

I think he would approve.

But I still don’t like whisky.



Scotland (August 2018)


Such a beautiful and walkable city.

Scott Monument


Manna House Bakery & Patisserie

Our daily coffee and breakfast spot. The man at the cash register was there almost every day.  He told us he’d like to visit the U.S. sometime “when there’s a different president and my skin is a different color”.


National Monument


Dean Cemetary
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Pizza, yummy local beer and a few hands of War
backyard at our airbnb

Holyrood Park

We were so lucky that our airbnb was less than a mile from this park!

I ran to Arthur’s Seat (the highest point in the park) on two of my morning runs and we did a family hike there one afternoon.

The 640 acre park has many miles of trails and offers 360° views of the city and the North Sea.

It was one of my favorite things about Edinburgh.




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Salisbury Crags



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St. Anthony’s Chapel


The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

An awe inspiring performance and display. It did an amazing job of celebrating diversity and unity all at once.


I also really enjoyed the bagpipes.

There’s definitely some Scottish blood in my veins.

London (August 2018)

Inside our Airbnb.

Borough Market

A farmer’s market on steroids.

So heaven, pretty much.


Everything from fresh fruit, vegetables and meat to vegan burgers and baked goods.

I had some Ethiopian food and a brownie. So many foods to try and so little time. I could go to this market every day and never get bored.


Bombay café

Just the girls.



Avery Jo discovered she likes garlic naan and I finally got to try jackfruit.

The jackfruit biryani was salty, sweet, spicy and delicious. Shredded jackfruit is disturbingly meat-like. Now I know.

The mixed drinks weren’t bad, either.

The Tour for Muggles


Oh yes, we did.

It was obvious the tours drove some of the locals crazy and I understand why, but our tour guide was great and it was a lot of fun.

Post-tour conversation with my niece:

Me: “I definitely wouldn’t be in Gryffindor or Slytherin. So I guess I’m either Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. What is the main Ravenclaw trait again?”

Avery: “They’re really smart.”

Me: “Guess I’m Hufflepuff then.”

She went on to explain more about Hufflepuffs to me and I realized that there’s no question. Hufflepuffs have no particular talent but they value hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play.

Totally me.

Avery Jo says she’s Hufflepuff, too.

The London Eye



Breathtaking views of the city, but a little unnerving if you have issues with heights like I do (I’m definitely not Gryffindor).

Bicycle commuters

Photo: Michaelpuche/Shutterstock.com

There are so many cyclists on the London streets during rush hour! The first morning we were walking to a local coffee shop and I noticed them, I thought some sort of bicycle race or event was happening. Large hordes of cyclists were moving together from streetlight to streetlight. It was really quite wonderful to see.

In some parts of London, more than 30% of vehicles on the roads during rush hour are bicycles.

London may soon have more bikes than cars at rush hour.


Poison ivy

This poison ivy has brought back the anxiety crazies.

I noticed the first spot on my arm on Wednesday, July 5. By the end of that day, I had a big patch on my right hip and some spots on my inner thigh. For the next few days, some smaller spots showed up all along my arms, stomach and upper thighs. Since the biggest spots were on my right hip and upper inner thigh, I figured that the poison ivy oil was on my shoes and when I put my shorts on, it transferred to the inside of my shorts and onto my body.


I threw out those shorts (they were old and not good for running anymore anyway).

For the record, I always take my shoes off before I change my shorts. Except the Sunday before I hadn’t. Because I usually change out of my sweaty wet clothes in the woods at the trail head. But the day before I’d found a tick crawling on my shoe when I did that. And a few days before that, I’d found a tick attached to me. So I didn’t feel like changing in the woods. Instead, I pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway at a picnic area to change. It was still fairly early in the morning though, so it was deserted. Ever since I’d read about the Seattle runner who was attacked in a bathroom, I’ve been leery about deserted restrooms. I really wanted to get out of my soaked clothing, though. So I went in and quickly checked all the stalls. I then changed as fast as I possibly could, while standing with my hand holding the main door closed. So I didn’t take my shoes off. Until I got back to my car. Then I put them on the floor in the back of my car. Then probably into an old grocery bag with the rest of my wet clothes to carry into the house.

It wasn’t until this Tuesday, a full week after finding the first spot that I started thinking about everything that I and my shoes may have come into contact with, though. I started thinking about this because after a few glorious days of not finding any new spots, some new patches showed up on my wrist and lower thighs.

Since my last major anxiety flare up, I’ve been doing really well! I can’t say exactly what I’ve been doing to get it in check, but I think the main thing was cutting way back on my training. I’m pretty sure that I was over-training last summer, trying to follow my half-ironman training plan. I also started doing gentle yoga everyday (that only lasted a couple of weeks) and cut way down on caffeine. I still make 6+ cups every morning, but I only use 2 scoops of regular and the rest decaf.

But dealing with this poison ivy is making me feel pretty crazy again.

It’s not helping that I’m not getting much sleep because the itchiness is keeping me awake. And thinking that everything I touch could possibly have urishiol on it is driving me mad.

Today I scrubbed down both pairs of my running shoes with technu, and then washed them in the washing machine. I also used the technu to scrub down my steering wheel and seat belt, and washed both of my backpacks and all of my reusable grocery bags, because any of them may have been on the floor of my car. The hairbrush that I keep in my car and my windshield visor are on the floor now, and since I don’t want to touch them, I just plan on leaving them there indefinitely.

Watching this You-Tube video initially made me feel a little better, but now I’m scrubbing my hands three times after I touch anything. Soon I may not have any skin left to scrub. The video said the Dawn dish soap works better than anything else, so I used some from a bottle that someone had left in my apartment long before I moved in. The date on it was 2009. After scrubbing my raw, open-sore arms with the stuff, I became paranoid that it was contaminated with god-knows-what and all of my sores were going to get infected, so I doused them with alcohol and went and bought a new bottle.

See? Crazy.

None of this has kept me from running in the woods, though. I’m heading to the mountains tomorrow. I’ll just be scrubbing like crazy afterward.

And searching for ticks.