Reaching My Peak at an Ohio Castle

MPC Week 2 Pinnable Image

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to go away for Valentine’s Weekend to Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, Ohio, which is right in the Hocking Hills mecca of hiking, backpacking, camping and rustic relaxation. Ravenwood is a bed and breakfast and while I was excited to get away from the city and clear my mind, I was also worried about getting my Peak Challenge Prep workouts in. I was just getting over a bad head cold which took me out of the program for the first half of last week, and I didn’t want to miss any more workouts than I already had. I found myself in Hocking Hills and worried. I was unprepared for workouts and had no idea what nutrition would look like for the next three days.

Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you ask for – even before you know to ask for it. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised when on our first night there while driving from our cabin to the castle for dinner, we felt our car slide backwards on the icy road, narrowly missing a deep ravine and semi-lodging itself in a sizeable ditch. My heart was pounding and I was secretly relieved beyond belief to get out of the car when it finally slid to a stop.

The snow kept falling as darkness descended around us in an area that is quite unlike the city – for one, it is heavily forested with what creatures I do not know (I think I saw about twelve Sasquatches and nine wolves), and I am terrified of the dark. No internet, no cell phone reception and no light except my car’s flashing hazard lights had me a little nervous. My other problems were solved, though. I wouldn’t be eating anytime soon (except for two Cadbury Crème eggs my Dad gave me for Valentine’s Day) and I would be walking – both up and down hills – a lot.

My husband decided to walk up to the castle to ask for help while I waited – unsuccessfully – by the car as the temperature dipped below zero. Shortly after my husband’s dark form disappeared into an even darker woods, I fell on the ice and was lying flat on my back in a snowbank when a thought besides, “Am I bleeding to death being on a blood thinner?” crossed my mind. It was, “Oh, for goodness sakes, what would Claire do right now?” Witty, intelligent and practical, Claire Fraser – the Outlander heroine who is unknowingly transported back through time to Scotland 1743 where she finds adventure, war and romance with the Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser – would not lay down in the snow without a plan, that’s for sure. It was while I was collecting my thoughts – and the strength to open a Crème Egg– that a truck drove by and its participants got out to help me to my feet.

Eventually and with the help of several other people who got stuck on the same hill, we were able to get my car out of the ditch and back it down the road to the cabin – where it remained parked for the rest of the weekend. It was then that I realized, I was having the time of my life, and I couldn’t be happier. I also realized my sudden opportunity to live my weekend as if I too were one of Diana Gabaldon’s characters without technology, vehicles or modern day luxuries at my disposal. There I was with the love of my life on my own private “Fraser’s Ridge,” with the rugged outdoors at my fingertips to complete my Peak Challenge workouts.

I made four total hikes up to the Castle – three on the road and one through the woods. It took about 25 minutes to walk up and about 15 minutes to walk back down. Walking up steep hills on snow and ice is not easy. I had to stop to catch my breath several times along the way. It is a little easier, though, when you have your own “Jamie” with you.


I met a horse-mule (I think) along the way who I lovingly called “Clarence.”


And you could not convince me that this is not “Castle Leoch.”



Saturday afternoon – before the Castle feast – I spent the afternoon by the fire in the pub reading and drinking Scotch Ale. I have never had Scotch Ale before and this was really good.


Now back from Ravenwood – we eventually got the car out – I stepped on the scale this morning and I was disappointed that not only had I not lost any weight, I gained weight since my last weigh-in a week ago. However, as the day has gone on, I realized maybe it isn’t always about losing weight.

I had a great weekend in a place that I have never been before where I could live, just for a little bit, in a fantasy world without the stress and worry of the real world (okay, I was slightly worried about getting my car out again). Staying in a bed and breakfast, I met and talked with a lot of fantastic people that I may not have met otherwise. I played board games, spent time reading and found my mind stimulated in new and exciting ways, being in a different environment. I was able to get some exercise in and eat sensibly through attention to portion size while still trying all the amazing food and drink a bed and breakfast has to offer.

Reflecting on my weekend, it was then that I realize this is exactly what Outlander star Sam Heughan’s My Peak Challenge is about – doing something new and different and stretching yourself out of your comfort zone – to reach your peak.

Tell me about you. What have you done lately that excites, scares or stimulates you? How do you make the most of your fitness and/or nutrition program when you’re away from your routine?

Until the next mile marker,

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Dear Mr. Mumford (and Sons)

Courtesy of Troy [Ohio] Main Street.

Dear Mr. Mumford (and Sons),

I first discovered your music quite by accident and long after you had already been making albums and touring the world. While I am sure others have been fans since the beginning, I am a new fan, yes, but I am a fan for life. I stumbled upon I Will Wait on the radio one day while running errands and was captivated by the joyous lyrics, stunning vocals and soulful sound, not to mention diverse instrumentation and enchanting harmonies; but, much to my dismay, I missed who was behind the music I heard. By coincidence (or not since I don’t believe in such things) my brother-in-law came over that same evening and brought your music with him. I was elated and downloaded all of your songs within minutes.

There’s not a song I skipped and no repeat was one too many. I was captivated by Babel and Sigh No More; haunted by Ghosts that We Knew and Timshel; enthralled with Broken Crown and Little Lion Man; invigorated by Lover of the Light and Awake My Soul; and consumed by Lover’s Eyes and Dust Bowl Dance. I listened to these songs and more as if I was discovering music for the first time and no, I am hardly exaggerating. Be it in my house, in my car or in the grocery store, when I hear you Mr. Mumford, I can’t help but dance and sing at the top of my lungs. It’s uncontrollable, immersed, unfathomable joy that you bring out from somewhere deep inside of me.

So, when I read that you would be performing at a stopover on your Gentleman of the Road Tour in Troy, Ohio – a mere hour or so away from where I live – I had to be there. When I found out it was the weekend of my 31st birthday, I was convinced I would be there. And, after two rounds of ticket sales and a few tears on my end, I will be there. So, given how I feel, you can only imagine my exhilaration at holding this in my hands:

GOTR Stopover in Troy Camping Pass

GOTR Stopover in Troy Camping Pass

To be honest, I can’t stop talking about it and it was only natural that people – mainly my husband who has requested that I write this letter to you after seeing my passion for your songs – wanted to know why I feel so strongly about your music. Can I even describe it, let alone to you?

Your music rouses something in my soul, something I have only felt a time or two before and not from anything consistent. It is like hearing a familiar voice call my name – when I have spent a lifetime among strangers who don’t even know it. It is as if an intense longing is transformed into belonging and my heart and mind finally have a place to rest in your lyrics.

Your music drives me back to a time and place that is long past, and even longer forgotten. Your profound lyrics and endearing melodies are symbolic of something old and something deep and while I can’t yet exactly put a name to it, it calls me back to my previously unrecognized roots. Whether your influences are British, Irish, American Folk or even Tribal, I hear them all and am called to a heritage previously unknown to me. I am united by your music because it has become a part of my inner being. A being that is unrestrained amidst your songs.

The events over the last two years of my life have been immeasurable. Unexpectedly losing my mother, my career and nearly my own life have left me wondering why I am still here if only to consumed by sorrow, self-doubt and fear. Constantly crying out “Why did this happen to me?” was not providing any answers and I nearly resigned to what I was sure to be a life of pain, sadness, regrets and worry. I withdrew so far within myself that not even those who cared the most about me or knew me the best could at times, get me out. It was never going to get any better and it was never going to change. I resigned to believing I should have died with the blood clot that nearly destroyed my body last summer.

They say we never can never fully understand how what we say, feel or act truly impacts another individual and that’s exactly where you come in. Your music has reached down into the deepest, darkest, scariest places within my heart, mind and soul and pulled me back from the path I was heading down. As an artist myself, I started reading again, writing again and taking time to spend in nature and with my own, much relieved thoughts. If I have a bad day or start to stray down the path of no return again, I put your albums in and the light comes bounding back. I carry it with me, in my purse or pocket, and it has lent more grace than any other one, single thing ever has. Call it dramatic, call it crazy or call it what you will, but your music has saved me.

So, I will see you tomorrow, Mr. Mumford. I can hardly contain my excitement or the insurmountable feeling that Troy is exactly where I am meant to be.

Very sincerely yours,

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Gone to Get Certified!

This is my version of an auto reply out of office message. “Words to Run By will return on Monday, March 25, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. If you have an emergency that needs immediate attention, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email, Facebook, Twitter or one of the other gazillion ways you can find me.”

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote one of those. It must have been for my first job college as a child welfare worker – my supervisor had me record an out of the office voice message and then changed my password so I couldn’t check my voicemails while I was on my Honeymoon (or I might have). I was pretty intense and had a hard time separating myself from that job. Now we know why I no longer work in that field.

Anyway…I‘ll be gone this weekend. Where you might ask?

To get my RRCA Coaching Certification in Dayton, Ohio! 


RRCA Coaching Registration Confirmation

I have been waiting for this course to come – well, anywhere even remotely near me – for the past couple of years. I love coaching and would like to learn more about running and how to be an effective, inspirational and knowledgeable coach. Having a coach I could trust, rely on and turn to for guidance and advice made such a difference in my running experience (Thank you, Duane) that I want to pass that on to other runners – particularly those who may be starting a training program for the first time or starting over after devastating illness or injury.

The RRCA Coaching Certification course is designed to provide a baseline of education and training for individuals seeking to become an RRCA Certified Coach.  The RRCA Coaching Certification Course emphasizes how to be a successful coach, whether coaching individuals, small groups, or large group training programs such as 5K, half marathon, or marathon training programs.  The certification course focuses on issues specific to road running and racing for adults at all ability levels.

The course curriculum includes 16 hours of lecture, group work, and interactive exercises, including working in teams to build training programs for novice and experienced runners. The two-day certification course is an in-person course followed by a 100-question online exam that will provide immediate results.

RRCA Certified coaches volunteer with their local RRCA member running clubs, coach clients one-on-one, and coach training programs for groups of individuals working towards a common goal.  RRCA Certified Coaches will work with runners and emphasize the use of intelligent training plans that are based on a scientific body of knowledge and designed to help a runner achieve their goals, while minimizing the risks of overuse and over-training injuries.

I’m excited because in the 45 minutes it took me to make up my mind if this was the right time to sign up or not (I don’t feel like a runner or run very much right now), the class went from 14 open spots to just 2. I freaked, jumped on it and registered – now or never?!

What about you? Are you an RRCA Certified Coach? Did you find the program useful or helpful? Do you offer Coaching services through your website or in person? Do you have a Coach who has inspired or helped you?

Until the next mile marker,