Watching Nature Change Shape

I had a very good fitness week, which I will report below, so I am still changing for the better. But much more exciting is another “change” I got to witness over the last few weeks. It’s a favorite nature story of mine, one I see every summer. I hope you enjoy it! Have I mentioned how much I love the WordPress slideshow feature? HA!

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Isn’t he beautiful? I know this one is male by the two black spots on his lower wings. Milkweed plants grow thick in our fields, & in my flower beds, since I’m not a meticulous gardener. Because Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed, I know where & when to look for them every summer. I usually bring one indoors to watch it change in my kitchen, keeping it in a large jar (curious cat deterrent) with its food until it gets big enough to change into a chrysalis. Once it’s hanging green, I take it out of the jar, put the stalk in a vase & wait.

When the chrysalis turns dark, I know emergence is near. I can see the butterfly within, so back into the jar until the hatching is complete (shoo, cat, shoo!). It takes several hours for the new butterfly’s wings to enable flight. During this time, I can hold it. It will cling to my fingers & fan its wings to stretch & dry them. After admiring it, I take it outside to a flower for release & it eventually flies away.

Same story, every year. I never get tired of it :-)

And now, as promised, the fitness report as proof of continued self-change:
July 21, 2 mi. run @ 20:23. Grrr. Still slow.
July 22, 5 mi. walk (half w/Jaime & Teres) for cross-training day.
July 23,  lazy day.
July 24, 4 mi. run @ 44:14… picked up Rachel accidentally when going by her house — she came out her door to run, just as I ran by! We got caught in a HEAVY downpour for 3/4 mi. Yuck. Took those shoes 4 days to dry out.
July 25, 4 mi. walk (w/Carrie), cross-train day.
July 26, 3 mi. run @ 32:22. Cool, dry temp today, like fall :-)
July 27, 1 hr. strength-training class & 15 min. stretch (I’m signed up for Tues. AMs indefinitely). Ow ow, did I ever hurt later. My inner thighs & ass (squats/lunges) & my upper chest & armpits (pushups/flys)! Sweet Jesus.
July 28, 2 mi. run, forgot to time myself, I hurt so bad from yesterday’s weights. Ouch, my chest. “Compression bra,” my ass. I expected immobilization, but it felt like I was running topless!
July 29, 3 mi. walk (w/Teres) for cross-training. Residual soreness.
July 30, lazy day.
July 31, 7.5 mi. RT bike ride to drawing class & home.

And today, I’m about to go on my longest run ever: 4.5 mi. I’m on the last day of Week 5 on that Hal Higdon 10K training plan. 4 weeks to go, at least. I am looking for a local 10K race in September, to celebrate. I found a 5-miler on Labor Day in Francestown, which I may do as a back-up. But I’m still hoping to find a local, low-profile 10K. Alright then, no more stalling… I’m offline to run!

Postscript: YES! I did it. I was super slow, but I didn’t walk & I did it! 4.5 mi. @ 54:02, w/half-mile walk as cooldown. The weather was mild, so I should have been faster? But I admit, I was so focused on distance that I gave no thought to speed until the end, when it was too late. I did have a little pain, too. My right leg, low back above right hip, radiating down along the outer thigh to outer knee. I did have some low back pain over the weekend, as it was, but I think it was from gardening (picking beans), not running. It’s Mon. AM and I’m fine now, so yay for that!


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21 Responses to “Watching Nature Change Shape”

  1. heatherlorin Says:

    Oh wow! Love the slideshow. Very cool indeed. I’ve never seen the progression in person. Jealous.

    And, I’m impressed with your workout schedule. I’m still trying to fit in cross-training. Is it still hot there?

    • henniemavis Says:

      I wish I could give you your very own caterpillar! Do you have milkweed where you live? Not hot at all, thankfully. It’s been autumnal temps here the last week, great for outdoor exercise.

  2. organicsyes Says:

    OH WOW!!! Thanks for the picutures…I just always am amazed…the golden spots on the crysallais, I wonder what substance they are made of?


  3. meghan Ling Says:

    Oh, that is just SO neat! I think you should have been a kindergarten teacher, H! We actually send for 120 caterpillar eggs for our whole kinder group and the kids have their own little jars and they watch and record the whole process. At the end we have a butterfly party, but that’s a whole other post in itself! I sure enjoy your curiosity and wonder!
    Nice job with your running! I’m 100% sure your pain along your leg is your IT band. You can do a lot of exercises and stretches to help it feel better! Do you have a foam roller? I know, you probably don’t, but those help a lot! I can send you some exercise pictures to help, just let me know!

    Keep moving forward, you’re doing so well! It’s great that you have so many race/fun plans to keep you motivated!


    • henniemavis Says:

      Caterpillar EGGS? Now that’s cool. I can never find those, only the little caterpillars once they start eating (the leaf damage & poops tip me off). I wish I could find eggs!

      You saying I should be a kindergarten teacher… oh Lordy. Not a good idea. I have friends who won’t let me be around their kids unless I’m being supervised! I do “bad” things like burp unabashedly & laugh about it, or pick up an acorn cap & make a really LOUD whistle out of it. These are NOT things most parents want their children to learn! Since I don’t have kids of my own, I feel free to behave like one myself sometimes ;-)

      About the IT band, hmmm… I don’t have a “roller” but am open to other exercises for injury prevention. Got any favorite weblinks to good IT stretches? I’ll read about IT injury. I don’t have any pain today, but if that kind of thing persists when I run, well, yes, I will want to nip it in the bud ASAP. Thanks for your constant support :-)

  4. Jul Says:

    How cool that must be to witness happening right in front of you! (Was that the most awkwardly-worded sentence ever? Hope it made sense anyway). :)

  5. melissa Says:

    The slideshow is quite neat! I’m also totally impressed by your workout regimen. I jog once or twice a week and that’s quite enough for me!

    • henniemavis Says:

      Thanks! Yes, it sounds good… but my doughy waistline flies in the face of my effort. What I need is a nice, ruffled apron to hide that sort of thing ;-)

  6. Scott Says:

    I agree with Meghan Ling’s thought about your post’s appeal to the kindergarten set. I work with Preschool teachers and supporting technology applications in the classroom, having access to the slide show you arranged would be a welcome addition to any classroom (even if they look askance at your presence lol).
    I have been seeing an unusually high number of Tiger Swallowtails this summer.

    • henniemavis Says:

      Hi, Scott! Thanks for your comment. Meg will like it too, since you agree with her! But don’t you agree with me, that prolonged exposure to me may be “inappropriate for children?” HA!

      Tiger Swallowtails, so big & beautiful! Lucky you :-)

  7. mike Says:

    Well, after that slideshow, I’m gonna have to pay closer attention to caterpillars. Of course, I’m Wussy Mike, so I probably couldn’t just pick it up. I’d have to recruit our neighbor.
    She picked up a toad and let the kids pet it last year. The whole time, I’m thinking “OK, they’re washing their hands for at least 20 minutes when we get back inside.” My younger brother was always into bugs, reptiles, animals. I was slightly (significantly) less interested.

    Before your next longest run ever (LRE)! Insert another lazy day.
    Your schedule looks great and you’ve accomplished so much, but I’m thinking your body is doing a great job with the feedback as well.

    And, no matter, just drop into an ice bath for 20 minutes afterwards and you’ll be set.

    If I could choose between a 5-miler and 10K, it would be 5 every time.
    In fact, I haven’t run a 10K in 4 years (except as the last leg of a triathlon). 5 is such a beautiful number. 6.2 is not.

    Very impressive, too, that you didn’t walk during LRE. Despite the occasional mention of that lovely word “SLOW” you have a consistent pace, even in the presence of storms.

    And, yes, I’ll just leave that running topless concept alone.
    Let me guess, we buy this shit from the same athletic store. Ha.

    • henniemavis Says:

      HA! “Iron Mike” won’t touch bugs? You would be washing hands your entire visit to my house. Who’s gonna bait your son’s fishing hook, for God’s sake? I sure hope your wife is less squeamish. I have to count on her for everything! Note to self: Don’t ask Mike to help with chicken-butchering day.

      I concede however, picking up toads rates low on my list of wildlife abductions. I don’t mind the toad itself, but they have a defense strategy of peeing when provoked. Nothing says “put me down” like a cut-loose bladder.

      Yay, I get an extra lazy day for long runs? The 5-miler might be a pleasure, then :-) but I still wanna find a 10K, too. It’ll keep me on track for next June (be ready for “Black Fly in My Eye” 15K trail run). If only for the t-shirt, I must do that race!

      Yes, I’m finding that upper body support is becoming a “top” priority, HA! Dangling body parts sure are inconvenient when running. Let’s cut them off & be done with it, deal? You first ;-) Wanna borrow my axe? (see chicken-butchering note above)

      • mike Says:

        I would LOVE to cut off a chicken’s head.
        My life would nearly be complete.

        Still have to swim across a large body of water though…

        No, I take the kids fishing. I just wipe my hands on the grass pretty much constantly.

        15K in June? You’re gonna crush it. Can’t wait to see how much you enjoy winter running (I’m picturing you running with a thermos by the way).

        And I was tying up some tomatoes today, observed a caterpillar had found its way onto my hand, screamed, and shook it off.
        That’s in case you were wondering why you found yourself shaking your head for no apparent reason earlier today.

      • henniemavis Says:

        Yeah, I was shaking my head alright, thinking how I’d better get you one of those “hot” vintage aprons to wipe your hands on! Birthday coming up? Gift idea, cuz if you’re gonna chop chickens, you’re gonna need to wipe your hands on something a little more substantial than grass.

        Re: my 15K trail run. “Gonna crush it?” (lookin’ around, over shoulder, etc.) You talkin’ to me?

        You got me rightly pegged as a winter-training hard-sell, tho. I don’t trust strap-on cleats for traction, sub-freezing temps rip my throat raw, & my treadmill didn’t work out last winter. I’d get on for 5 min., think “this sucks,” push the STOP button, and oh look, I’m already home! My winter plan: hunker in front of the woodstove w/hot coffee until mid-April. Will that work?

      • mike Says:

        Let me know how that apron turns out, we’re demanding a slideshow.
        I do need to take the kids out hunting for milkweed tonight.

        Prior to March I’d never run more than 1 hour on a treadmill, but hopped on it for 30 miles/5 hours on my birthday.
        You’re gonna find the will to work your way up to 9.3 miles at a clip this winter (OK, maybe 3 miles).

        And perhaps this is where I get back some street cred (my squeemishness not withstanding), because I love running in the winter, but I do cover my mouth with a scarf because a ripped-raw throat would be very disappointing.

      • henniemavis Says:

        5 hrs. on a treadmill? I can’t think of anything more boring. And don’t say “death,” smartass, cuz I’m planning on having a great time then :-)

        I hope you’re right about my abitility to get it together for year-round training. Yes, you get a renewed bow of respect for outdoor winter runs. Especially last year, when PA’s winter was brutal. That’s sayin’ a lot, as NH winters generally set a high bar. Re: the scarf face-wrap, good idea! I have a neck gaiter somewhere. The “wetness” factor bothers me, but it would protect the throat interior from ripping cold air, no question.

        If we’re being honest, I would greatly benefit from more time with my mouth covered, period. Just sayin’

  8. Pearl Says:

    That’s a huge run! Good for you.

    My cardio needs to come up a notch or few.

    Thanks for sharing the slideshow of the Monarch. I haven’t seen one change for more than 20 years. Funny how easy it is to become disconnected from nature.

    • henniemavis Says:

      Hi Pearl, thanks! I much admire your biking effort (oh OK, & your handlebar bling)! I have been trying to get more biking in, but only manage it about once a week.

      Don’t allow yourself to become too disconnected from nature? It’s so wondrous… so… well, natural, HA! Even cities are alive with it, when we’re in tune :-)

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