Sunday, July 30, 2006

Scott and Bohdan; Start

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Duke at Start

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Alicia and Julie; Start

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Maria at Finish

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Jeffrey and Jim; Finish

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John and Kevin at Finish

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Alicia and Scott at Finish

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Julie and Alicia at Finish Line

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Voyageur 50 Mile Race Report

Another excellent adventure...

As I posted on Friday, I was a bit, well, a lot apprehensive about the Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run (www.voyageurtrailrun.com) as I had two root canals last week, there were thunderstorms forecast along with 100F temperatures. The Voyageur is an out and back course that crosses rivers, rocks, roots, nice grassy ski trails and the 'powerlines'. The powerlines are in a crazy hilly area that is covered with clay soils. When they are wet, they are slick. Some of the hills are so steep that at times my nose is only a few inches from the ground. Crazy.

Friday afternoon I stepped out of my car into the furnace that was Cloquet. Oh man, it was 100F. Holy cow. I walked into the hotel and Jeffrey told me that the desk clerk told him I had cancelled my reservations in May for this past weekend! WHAT? I certainly did no such thing! Luckily, I guess, there was one room available but it was a smoking room. I can't even believe hotels still offer smoking rooms. I think it may have been the only smoking room in the hotel. We had to take it. The housekeeper came and changed the bedding, thank goodness, because all night long I had to breathe into my sheet as I couldn't stand the smell of nicotine, and she dropped off an air ionizer or some gadget that supposedly cleaned the air. We were able to use it for 30 minutes. We were promised a non smoking room for the following night.

As we were waiting to go to Carlton to pick up our packets a thunderstorm went through that dropped hail and torrential rains. Great.

We waited for Maria and then all headed to packet pickup, met up with Kevin (running his first 50) and John. We followed them to Pizza Luce for dinner. At Pizza Luce we met up with Duke (also running his first 50 mile) and Eve who was crewing. We had a great dinner, then awesome coffee, and headed back to smokeville.

It stormed all night long. Saturday morning there were sprinkles, forecast said a cool off of 78F and 70% thunderstorms all day. The thunderstorms forecast scared me as I ran my first V during a thunderstorm. It was scary in the powerlines as the lightening hit all around me, the earth was a clay-ey mess and I slid down each hill on my butt. It was miserable. And it took me 14:07 to finish. Damn. I had a 10:30 goal I wanted to keep alive!

By race start the sprinkles had stopped, I could see some blue patches in the sky, the humidity was oppressive. We were wet just standing around, it was crazy.

We had a fun party at the start. Kevin, Alicia, Duke and Bohdan were all running there first 50 mile races. I was so excited for them all!

I and Jeffrey had a plan to start out at the front of the pack because sometimes we get stuck in the back on the single track and it's quicker in the front. We figured we'd run hard to the turn around, getting there at 445. The fast people keep us moving. We began pretty fast. I felt foolish as I only saw two other women up in our pack and they were Kim Holak, who wins many, and the winner of this race. We kept on pace and followed. I took a horrible fall. The rocks were wet and slimy, I was trying to go fast and boom! Down I went. I have a great bruise that hurts like hell.

It took us 36 minutes to run the first section, which is 4 miles I believe, too fast for me. We dialed it down a notch and kept on running.

I couldn't believe how soaked my clothing was. I was dripping sweat, it was crazy. I carried one hand held bottle as the aid stations are only 3 miles apart and I typically drink 24 oz of drink an hour. Yesterday I was drinking 24 oz every half hour. The one hand held was sufficient.

Before I hit the powerlines I saw Eve walking..without her puppy, Daisy! I asked Eve where Daisy was and she said because she was wet she was able to slip out of her collar. I was sick with worry about Daisy. She's a beautiful malamute pup but is a timid girl, just becoming used to people. I didn't know how Eve was going to find her out in the wild woods. I didn't think Daisy would dare come out of the woods to the people at the aid station. Oh poor Eve!

The powerlines were incredible! They were in awesome condition. They were a bit sticky on the way out but so much better than I ever imagined, with all of the rain we had the night before. Thank goodness!

After the powerlines Jeffrey told me to go ahead, he was going to go a bit easier. Off I went. I was hoping to reach the 25 mile mark at 4:45.

My root canals were beginning to bother me. One was infected, I had taken antibiotics in the morning and had enough Advil to take every 6 hours per Dr. Recommendations. I tried to ignore the pain.

I was at the turn around at 4:50; I took the time to dig into my drop bag and reapply my foot potion. That stuff has been a lifesaver! NO BLISTERS! Crazy.

It's all uphill coming out of the turnaround. I ran as much as I could, having to take a few walk breaks up some of the steep hills. I love coming back from the turnaround. You are able to see everyone in the race. I was 7th woman.

I ran with two women for quite a while, up to the 50K point, then one took off like a bat out of hell and one slowed way down. I kept my steady pace. I was on target for a 10:30. I couldn't believe it! I was still on pace. Woo Hoo.

My iPod was loaded, I listened from three hours onto the finish. It really helps to get rid of negative thinking. The hard rock just carried me on through the trails. I was able to eat bananas, potatoes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lots of powerdrink. All was going well. Real well.

Going over the powerlines on the way back I had 2.5 hours left to my goal. I just had to keep this pace up. I knew that the last 4 miles really sucks. It is the section that I fell upon, where it is all rocks and roots and bad footing. It takes forever and a day to get through on the way back. I figured I'd probably double my time in that section. The powerlines were dry and wonderful coming back. I was able to climb up easily and run down quickly. Never have I run through the section like this before.

I saw no one. I felt like I was the only one running the race. When I finished the powerlines I really felt like a had a chance to get a 10:30. But anything could happen. I could get sick, injured, anything and everything could go wrong. I just kept running. I almost ran the whole way back. I only walked the steepest of hills.

I hit the second to the last aid station (8.8 miles left) and Ed told me I was 6th woman. I didn't know where I lost one. I had 2 hours to go 8.8 miles. That was close, but damnit, I was going to run my hardest. I told myself to pretend I am qualiftying for Boston Marathon and I have 2 hours to make it. So go! Run!

I was running through the grassy ski trails, enjoying every step, enjoying the feeling of my body working hard, my breathing heavy, the sweat rolling off of my body. I was so happy. So happy that I was able to run, to work my body, to see what it could do, to dig deep into myself, mentally and physically, to talk to myself, take part of this wonderful race. To tap into myself, to set a goal and see if I could reach it. It was a wonderful feeling. I was so happy that I began to laugh and enjoy the moment. I wasn't only happy because I just might make that goal, I was happy to be there..at that moment and enjoying myself fully. If I didn't make my goal, that was OK because I sure had a damn good time trying, I was giving it all that I could.

I came upon the last aid station at 9:40, 4 miles left to go. 4 miles and a whole lot of it is the toughest part of the course for me. I yelled out my number to the aid station workers and told them I wasn't stopping; I had water and a gel and I was going on through. They cheered and I flew across the swinging bridge.

Gosh, this next section is hard. It's all wet and rocky and mossy and rooty and it just sucks. I had saved some good hard music for this section, I had just taken the dentist approved Advil and sucked back 2 of my favorite gels: Chocolate Espresso by Hammergel. OK, this was it. Run Julie Run. Shit. I fell again. Same place!! OK, pay attention..it isn't going to do any good to fall and become injured and have your race finished at 47 miles. I backed off and began to pay closer attention. Gosh, this section sucks. It takes forever and a day. Come on. Where is the asphalt and the city. I want the finish. FINALLY! The trail went up and I could see where the bike path was. Oh yeah. 11 minutes left and less than a mile of asphalt to the Carlton School and good lord I'm going to make the 10:30! I am I am I am!!

I turn off of the bike path onto the city road and there is the school and the clock and I hear someone yelling "It's Julie Berg, it's Julie" Oh my god, I'm here. I'm done. I met my goal. I ran to the finish and John clicked a picture and it was 10:26!!

I was thrilled. I am thrilled. You just don't know what you can do unless you set that goal and give it all you got.

John's goal was 9 hours, he got in at 8:54. Duke ran his first 50 mile and finished in 8:28.

I saw Eve, and was afraid to ask her about Daisy. I did, and she found her! She was hiding in the woods where she was first lost. Eve walked all over looking for her, then was calling her at the original location and Daisy would peek out at her, but then a runner would go past, Daisy would become afraid and tuck back into the woods. Eventually Eve was able to coax her out. THANK GOD!

John drove my car over and unloaded my chairs, cooler and duffel bag. That was such a treat. I just sat there and everything was brought right to me. Thank you! I showered and sat in my chair with Duke, Eve and John; waiting for all of our friends to cross the finish line. It was so much fun! So much fun!

Everyone finished! Pierre finished shortly after me, I believe that Jeffrey and Maria were 1130 or so, Kevin and Bohdan, running their first 50's were under 12 and Alicia and Scott finished under 1230. It was so awesome!

Everyone was able to shower at the school, then a great meal of lasagna, salads, break, cake and ice cream was served. The awards were handed out. Every person receives a finisher bowl with cover and goes up to receive it as the announcer calls their name, placing and time.

It was an awesome weekend!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Off to Voyageur 50!

Well, I had a root canal on Tuesday and much to my horror, another yesterday! When I went in on Tuesday he took x-rays and gave me the bad news: 3 more cavities and two root canals. Man, my teeth are crap. So take a little lesson from me: when the scheduler calls you for your 6 month appointment, keep it, and when you have a cavity, get it filled ..soon!

Tuesday's root canal went quickly, no pain while filling, the pain hit Wednesday. Thursday's root canal went well as well but man the pain afterward! Advil every 6-8 hours and an antibiotic.

Oh yea, root canal 1 was becoming infected when I went in for root canal 2 so I was prescribed an antibiotic that is bloating me out and making me spongy. Really!

I was half wondering if I should run Voyageur (voyageurtrailrun.com) then decided yes; it is more of a training run for the Superior 100 the first week in September. I need another 50 mile run in for this race. I don't want to do another one solo unsupported when I really don't have to. I'll take advantage of aid stations and fun people to visit with. On the negative side, I haven't been able to eat much for solid food at all. I've been doing protein shakes, carb shakes, etc. Tonight I'll try some pasta and maybe try a soft sandwich for lunch. I usually carb up the day before a 50 mile. And I feel fat and bloated and it's not a fun way to feel heading at the start line. Believe me, I know what it is like to be the fatest girl at the start line. Ah ha.

So I'm fat and bloated from PMS last week..then it turned into a bloat from these antibiotics. Even my eyelids were puffy this morning! My abs have a layer of water over them and it looks bad.

I'm a whore to the scale. It's up. I can't believe how I can STILL get so wrapped up around a number. Oh yea. I'm wrapped up in it. Big time. Even when I know damn well it isn't fat. I have to keep it in perspective; I am still leaner than I have been during any of my races. HELLO!

Crazy but true.

It's supposed to be 100F this weekend. I hope it is cooler in Carleton. It's 2.5 hours North of here, so it could be a bit cooler.

My goal for this race prior too the root canals was a 10:30. My PR was last year at 10:47. I'm still going to try to run a 10:30 but with 100F and two root canals..who knows. Are these only excuses for the 'just in case I bomb'? Maybe.

Have a great weekend of running and don't cancel the dental appointment :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ouch!

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but I have a very sore tooth that kept me up all night. I haven't had to take Advil during a race in I don't know how long..but I took 4 at 8PM and again at 4 AM and the pain was back by 7 AM. NOT a good thing. I haven't taken any more Advil, I'm toughing it out.

My dentist told me in April of 05 (gasp)hat I had a cavity; that it should be filled and that it was fine to be filled at an August appointment. Well, I cancelled that appointment and when I had an appointment to have my teeth cleaned, I thought they'd fill it then and they couldn't and now over a year has passed!

Upon calling the dentist today, and the dentist reviewing my chart, I was told the cavity has probably now become a root canal problem. Oh. Joy.

I was referred to an endocronologist and thankfully, have an appointment at 130 today. I just have to drive forever to get there. Apparently Big Lake is too small of a community for endorconologists or anything other than your tooth cleaning and filling.

Anyhow, anxious to release some pain, I headed for the track. We do have a track in Big Lake.

No, I'm being sarcastic because I am in pain. I love living in this little community. Really. I gave up the big city and the root canal dentists to have the peace and quite of small town and open woods.

I dropped Tyler and friend off at the weight training room and walked over to the track.

1 mile warm-up, the fired off the 800's, anxious to feel pain other than my tooth! Even though I haven't taken in any calories since 4 PM yesterday, I had strength to sprint them out. Hmmm..maybe that's the secret?

800 1) 3:29, 2) 3:28 3) 3:31 4) 3:34 5) 3:30 6) 3:31 7) 3:34 8) 3:32 9) 3:34 10) 3:31

I jogged a 400 inbetween each 800 and cooled down 1 mile afterward. Phil and Tyler came out and ran a few laps with me too. Awesome! As an added bonus, I didn't feel the tooth pain for an hour and a half.

I'm hoping I can get to the gym for a session of RT tonight while Troy has football assessments. We'll see how the post root canal goes. Damn.

Run On!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You Guys!

Sheesh, you guys are going to think I blog for the sole reason to hear back great comments about myself!

I don't know if you will ever know how I take the comments left here to heart. When I read the first one, from Cheri S, who is a new friend of mine in real life, I began to get tears in my eyes. To hear that it was OK to feel good about this Inov-8 scenario, to hear that I should feel proud, and that I'm not an egotistical braggart, well, thanks, Cheri, and it was nice seeing you today at Afton!

The comments were all very nice. Thanks Phil, Cathy, Olga, Brett, Angie and so many new posters who had been lurking..some of you which have known me via posting at other sights..even when I was doing the Low Carb Luxury diet and when I first began to transform myself. I had no idea. Thank you. Phil, thank you for the comment about keeping it honest. I appreciate that very very much.

Wow. That word is going through my mind alot as I read your comments!

OK, this weekend my parents, sister and family and a few dogs have been living with me. We have a deck project going on around our pool. We are connecting our existing deck off of the house to the pool and circling the pool. The pool is on a hill, the deck is huge. It's a lot of work, none of which I am really doing. Steve, Dad, Tim, the boys are working. I'm cleaning up after everyone and cooking for them. Friday it was manicotti, garlic bread, salads and brownies. Yesterday it was ham and beans and corn on the cob and salad and red cake. Today it is rigatoni and meatballs and salad and angel food cake with strawberries. I'm doing the left over turkey I grilled on Thursday in a huge salad each day. I was tired of cooking and cleaning and told everyone I was heading for Afton today.

Today I left at 630 AM for Afton State Park. I had a wonderful time! I met up with Alicia, Jeffrey, John, Cheri, Scott and Kevin for a 2 hour run; a nice easy run. Most of us are running the Voyaguer 50 mile race in Carlton MN next Saturday so we were not out for speed; just fun and conversation. After running for two hours we met up with the parking lot with Tom and Nancy, ate watermelon, fruit and Kevin brought some cake. We then walked down to the St. Croix River and went swimming. It was wonderful! After a nice dip it was off to the City of Afton, where I have never been, to Afton Coffee Bean and Selma's ice cream for visiting. What a great way to spend the day.

I came home, picked cukes, spinach, beans and peas to get dinner prepared and then get to read these comments. Thank you so very much. What a great day!

Now if the Twins can only pull out a win...........

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sponsorship!

I still can't really believe it; and when something seems too good to be true, then it usually is. These are the thoughts that keep running through my head.

It all began at McNaughton 100 Mile Trail Run this past April. I had JUST finished the race; I, John, Scott and Alicia were hugging, Scott and I were hobbling to the picnic table when this gentleman came up to me. I was trying to sit down, very sore and slowly at the table.

"Do you run for Team Montrail?" I looked at him incredulously, who me? I was thinking he must be making fun of me. Are you like crazy? "Ahh, no" I told him. He pointed at my Montrail hat and my Montrail Vitesse shoes and said "I'm sorry..I just figured you probably ran for them as you are wearing there shoes and hat". I was shocked he would even ask such a question of me. I was given the hat at a race and the shoes..we'll, it was my first long run in them. I wantt o say: look at me, I'm a fat slow chick; the negative thoughts were rampant within my head.

"Would you be interested in racing for Inov-8?" "WHAT? ME" "Well, yes, you; I was just speaking with Andy, he told me you won the woman's division last year at this race and took two hours off your time this year, the competition is tougher and you placed 3rd, he's impressed with you, he tells me you are one tough gal". "Oh. Wow. I'm sorry, my brain isn't working. I'd love to race for Inov-8, it'd be awesome, a dream come true..are you sure?" He gave me his business card, which I handed over to John, as I could not even think about it, this was too much, crazy, and he told me to give him a call once I had my brain back and was well rested. He then asked me what my next big race was. FANS 24 Hour Run, I told him. He told me he'd see me there. Wow.

A few weeks went past, I was thinking about it, but was afraid to call. It might have all been a dream, you know. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me. This was unreal. Well, eventually I called him. We had a lengthy discussion, meetings, and email correspondence. I still couldn't believe it and figured if it seemed too good to be true that it probably was. I didn't share this with anyone. John had heard him discuss the opportunity with me at McNaughton but I hadn't spoke about in since. I felt like I would be bragging if I mentioned it.

Well, time passed and pretty soon I was at FANS. I saw the rep there, he asked me "Why are you still wearing that Montrail hat?" "It isn't a done deal yet, I'm still waiting to hear the final yes". He apologized for the length of time that passed and assured me that I would be hearing from Inov-8 soon. I still wasn't so sure.

After my performance at FANS I heard pretty quickly. Then again after Afton I heard from Inov-8 again and yesterday everything was finalized. I will, indeed, be racing for the Inov-8 team. What a rush, it's unbelievable. It may not be a big deal for many, but for me, it really is. I love it.

You know, while I was running FANS I told a friend that I was with about the Inov-8 sponsorship. He wasn't surprised, didn't think I was bragging, was just really nice about it, was very proud of me.

It's amazing to me, how peoples reaction to me has changed as I've become a stronger runner. As I've become stronger I no longer tell people about my training or the workouts I put in. I'll post them here, because this is a personal place for me, and if a person doesn't want to hear about myself they don't have to read this blog. If they are interested, fine, this is where it is. I've noticed that some people give me an eye roll when we are discussing races, etc. Like "oh christ, here she goes again.." I never had that response as a back of the packer, barely making the cut off's during the race. I can see the way everything is changing.

At FANS I was ecstatic. I was strong, I was having a blast and almost everyone was sharing that with me. My friends were cheering, they were proud of me and pushing me on. All except a few friends, whom I thought I was really close to. They were very negative, and even scolded me for being so happy. I was very hurt, and obviously still am, or I wouldn't be thinking about it. These are the people that will scold me about being excited about the opportunity with Inov-8. I won't tell them. They'll read it here. I ran away from them at FANS and thought to myself "Wow, how negative. Remember not to show your real feelings of joy and strength in running to them again, they don't like it; they prefer when you are struggling. That's how they know you, they don't like the change".

After FANS, my friend that I told about Inov-8 at FANS, called me and said "Don't you sign any contract with Inov-8, Julie, people will be calling you, you leave your options open!" I laughed at him. But he was right. The phone began to ring. I have been invited to run at different 24 and 48 hour races around the country. It's amazing. I would have never ever ever imagined this could happen to me. I haven't verbalized this anyone, it is easier to write about, here, to share with Olga and Sheila!

Remember, when I first began to run ultras 4 years ago, I was 30 pounds heavier and a whole lot slower. I crashed at my first 50K and the second was tough. At my first 50 miler at Ice Age I barely made the cut off-finished with 2 minutes to spare! My second 50 miler at Voyageur I DIDN'T make the cut off's. The RD's held the course open for me and my friend, Marie, to finish. It took us just over 14 hours when the race was finished at 13! I've been dead last more than once.

When I first began moving from the back of the pack to the middle, two running friends joked with me "Julie, someday we're going to see you wearing a sponsored shirt. You'll be wearing Montrail or Adidas" I laughed and told them they were crazy.

You can't fake training; sure, you can have bad races, bad days when everything is off, but most of the time, that training will come through. That's why I love ultra running so much. You can't fake it. It is what it is. You get out what you put in. You can't say you run more miles than you do, it'll show. It'll bite you. There is no lieing in ultra running. It's honest. It's joyful. I don't think I've run a mile without a smile on my face; there is no grimace. It's pure honest joy.

I have a hard time keeping secrets, I grew up in a home of alcoholics, I'm an alcoholic. I've kept too many secrets. As a sober, healthy adult; I'm wide open. No secrets. It's all here. That makes some of my friend nervous. They are secretive with their running and their races; and that's OK, I'm just not. I'm wide open. I'm tired of secrets.

It's amazing to me that this fat chick, the one who had a hell of a time quitting her Special Export and Marlboro habit is out there running the trails. And getting stronger every day.

Cheers!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Running in the Rain

As I lay in bed this morning I could hear the rain drops hitting the window. How wonderful! No lightening or thunder, just a nice steady rain.

I and Topaz headed out to the Prairie Trail and ran 10 miles in the steady downpour. Although I stopped at each water hole, Topaz just sniffed the water and never even entered. I guess the rain kept him nice and cool. He was giddy running in the rain, he would run an arc from me, through the meadow and into the woods, back to me, repeat. With a smile on his face! Really. It was fabulous.

My hamstrings feel a bit tight since I ran 800's on Tuesday. I don't know what is up with that. Well, I do need to stretch more and I will beginning today.

On Tuesday Tyler began weight training for football. I brought he and a friend to the HS weight room, then headed out to the track for 800's. After a one mile warm up I ran 10 of them, fastest was 3:30 and slowest was the 8th one at 3:41, I ran a 400 inbetween each 800 in about 3 minutes, then finished with a one mile cool down. As I was running, Tyler and Phil came out. They had finished up their WT session and wanted to run for a bit with me. Now that was cool! They asked for a few tips, they ran a few laps, and I was very careful not to be over-excited about their company, as I didn't want to embarrass Tyler, and I want him to come back out there with me. It was wonderful.

Wednesday I couldn't make run club so I ran early with Topaz instead, just finishing before a thunderstorm made its presence.

Today my parents are coming down for the weekend. They are going to help us build a deck around our pool, then connect to the deck on the house. Great fun. Not. This means I'll be cooking nonstop and becoming crabby. My Mom and sister will want to shop all day Saturday. They are talking IKEA and Mall of America. Joy.

I'm planning on making it out to Afton State Park for a few hours on Sunday and will be running with Topaz tomorrow.

Voyaguer 50 mile is next Saturday. Yahoo!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heat Training

MN has been experiencing a bit of a heat wave. During the past seven days the temperature has hit the 90's which, isn't so bad in itself, but when the dewpoints are in the 60 and 70's, temps in the 90 F's, it's freakin' hot.

Troy had a baseball tournament all weekend. 3 games on Saturday and 2 games on Sunday. Those poor boys! No one complained, no one suffered from heat stress or injury due to the heat, but man, they were wilted. His team ended up losing only 1 game, not too bad! I and Steve were able to find some shade for most of the games. Thank god.

We spent yesterday afternoon inside of the Metrodome watching the Twins win the Indians, again. Good baseball all around.

Needless to say, I've been getting in some good heat training. I have the Voyaguer 50 mile race in two weeks; (http://voyageurtrailrun.com)from Carlton, MN to Duluth and back. There is a section of Powerlines we run through which get very very warm. One year a thermometer was placed strategically on one of the posts and read 115F-sure it had the sun beating on it, but still, it was warm. I'm hoping the heat wave breaks before the race.

Today I pulled the sled on the trail for 7.5 miles very early. I wanted Topaz to get out with me, so we ran at 5 AM-it was already 80F but the ponds were full and he was fine.

A little later Tyler's guitar teacher called to reschedule lessons from tomorrow to today. Well, that left me 1.5 hours to do what? RUN of course! I dropped off Ty, grabbed two hand helds and my iPod and ran another 12 miles on the hot asphalt around the lake in town, at 93F. More than once I made believe that I was training for the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon! Never say never, right?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Topaz Races the Sled

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Cool, Isn't It?

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My New Sled

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My New Workouts

I posted last April that I had decided to enter the Arrowhead 135 Mile Ultramarathon. www.arrowheadultra.com This is a self-supported Ultra that travels a snowmobile trail in Northern Minnesota. The trail actually is very close to our cabin, on Lake Vermilion. My friend, Pierre Oster, and his wife, Cheryl, are the race directors. John Storkamp holds the record for first finisher on foot ever(you can travel on foot, skiis or ice bike)in 53 hours last year. John and Pierre talked me into this race last April as we were talking after a run at Zumbro. The rest is history.

At the Afton races last week Pierre brought me a sled to use for the race. He built it, I'll borrow it to train and race.

Last week while my family was at the lake I pulled it out from a hiding spot in the garage to try out. I ran with it for 12 miles ( walked about 3 miles of the 12) and loaded it with 30 pounds of dumbbells. During the race I'll have to carry my sleeping bag (yikes), stove, water, clothes, food, etc. etc. etc. in there.

I will practice camping this winter at Afton State Park. Hopefully John and Scott (who also ran the Arrowhead last year--what am I doing hanging out with these guys??) will show me the ropes.

Sunday, after returning home from the 50 at Superior, I took out the sled for 8 miles and again today for 10. Topaz doesn't like the sled. I think he's jealous! Maybe I'll carry some treats inside of it for him. Or, he is afraid of the noise it makes as I pull it across the grass. Pierre told me it is fine to practice on grass, just be sure I don't pull on asphalt.

After 10 miles today pulling, I'll be happy run 5 on asphalt with the Run Club..not pulling!

My family thinks I have truly gone over the edge..I told them 'not yet'.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

FETCH!

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The Climb was worth the Scenery

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Up Above

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Through the Mist

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Hot Rocks

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Don't Drink and Descend!

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The Start

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Too Much Fun

Where to Begin?

This weekend was a total blast. After spending a few days at the cabin with my family, enjoying the lake, the sunshine, fishing, boating, tubing, fireworks and fun, I drove back home without the family to unpack and repack for my weekend up at Beaver Bay, MN with a dozen friends.

I spend Wednesday and Thursday peacefully in my quiet home, except for my cat, Toffee, who created grief for me. Wednesday afternoon I went downstairs to clean the kitty box and refeed Toffee. Much to my horror there was a dead grey mouse laying in his food bowl. Good kitty for killing the mousie and placing in the bowl, but still, ishy.

Thursday night I crawl into my nice King size bed, all to myself, enjoying clean sheets and a good book. At 130 AM I hear this "SQUEAK SQUEAK"! I open my eyes just in time for my wonderful killer of a cat drop a live grey mouse on my neck. He was so proud of his find. OH GOD! I flew out of bed in a panic and watched mousie and Toffee fly down the stairs. Oh man. I closed my bedroom door and tried to forget about it. In the morning there was no mouse in his bowl so I called Steve at the lake and told him I knew there was another in the house. I feared a whole family.

We have an attached garage and I know that there are mice living in the garage every now and again. The garage walks into my laundry room and last week when I was brining in groceries, a mouse ran between my feet, right into the house! I think it was a pregnant mama. Oh man.

OK, so I went off the track here and became involved with the mouse story. Back to the weekend of fun.

Jeffrey decided to car pool with me so Friday morning he drove to Big Lake from Minneapolis and left his truck here. We were headed up north by 1030.

Maria (who was running 50 and is entered in the Superior 100 along with me) and her husband Doug (who was crewing for us) went up Thursday evening; as well as Scott and John (running the 50). Eve, Duke, Alicia, Al, Pierre, Seth, Bodhan, Kathy were all arriving at different times on Friday.

OK, so Scott got online and found this house for us: http://www.vrbo.com/46061 We all agreed this would be a great house (from the pics and description online) and told Scott to go ahead with it.

Oh My Gosh. As Jeffrey and I pulled up to the house, we were perplexed. There was a iron bridge of sorts going to the front door. We walked inside and it seemed old. The picture looked brand new. The top level had a fireplace as big as a room right in the center of the living room. The main floor was all open with one bedroom and bathroom, a beautiful, all around the home, deck, all windows, but old. They provided dishes, cleaning supplies, towels, etc. Very nice. The view! Oh my gosh, it sat right upon Lake Superior. You couldn't see any neighbors, there was beautiful big rock pile to walk upon to the lake. A crazy iron spiral staircase walked off the deck down to the lake.

We went to the lower level. 5 brand new bedrooms, each with it's own fireplace and bathroom! Nice big King beds, great linens, great lighting, each bedroom had a french door that opened up to the lake. Incredible. New windows, window seats, awesome.

It was an incredible house. But weird. There was a loft above the kitchen with another bedroom as well. There was a big picture of the Last Supper hanging in the main room and the bedroom up there had a big wall made of stained glass from a church. It was weird. But beautiful and so awesome that we'd like to stay again, maybe for Ed Fitz 100K in October.

We spent Friday afternoon laying on the hot rocks of Lake Superior out in front of the house. It was fantastic.

Everyone brought a cooler of food; we had way too much. The fridges were full, coolers were full, there was a food orgy of sorts.

By 8:00 everyone had arrived and we began to plan the run for Saturday. 6 of us were planning on running the full 50 miles from Gooseberry Falls to Finland. Scott wanted an estimate of how long it took us-at 100 mile effort-so he could plan out how long the aid stations for the 100 mile race needed to be staffed. Alicia, Bohdan and Doug were crewing and Eve, Duke, Seth and Jeffrey were running shorter distances.We packed up our gear, got all of the sandwiches, drink, snacks, etc. ready for Saturday morning.

410 AM and John woke I and Alicia up for the run. We were all up and ready to rock at 445 in the kitchen. We were all out the door and ready to run at 5:11 AM for a start. A few pictures and we were on our way.

I decided to wear my 2 24 oz bottle pack and one 24 oz handheld. There were sections of 8-10 miles where there would be no aid so I figured 70+ ounces would be sufficient. It was. I drained every bottle inbetween aid stations but never ran out. Usually as I was 10 minutes out from the next station I'd polish off my water, knowing I could refill soon.

Pierre and John were doing a self-supported run. They had packs filled with 8000 calories of food, were filtering their own water and didn't take a thing from the crew.

I found that each 3 hour stretch in-between aid I was starving. Normally, I carry bars and gels or a sandwich inbetween aid stations but wanted to try without. About 30-45 minutes before the aid station I would be fantasizing about PB&J sandwiches and oranges. As we came to the crew, I was ravenous. I ate at least 400 calories each stop.

The trail was tough. At the first aid station, 8 miles out, there was no food. I didn't listen to our crew, and didn't know this. They had to walk into the aid station so couldn't carry coolers, etc. They carried water in for us though so I'm having my 3 bottles refilled, looking for the food. Where's the food? Doug said 'we told you guys last night, no food at the first station'. Oh fuck. I haven't eaten in 2.5 hours and have another 10 miles to go. Shit. Alicia must of seen the look of fear in my eye..'are you going to be ok Julie'? 'No, I screwed up. I wasn't listening and didn't know there would be no food here. I'm sorry. I'm a dumb blonde, you know?' Bodhan told me he had brought a pb&j bagel for himself. 'WOuld you like 1/2 Julie' 'YES' 'Would you like it all?' 'YES. PLEASE'!!! It saved me.

The second section was the toughest for footing. Lost of crazy rocks to run over that are too big to really run over. I had to pick my way over them. I've never seen anything like it. It began to pour rain, the surface was all slippery and crazy. Split Rock Loop was so beautiful. Lots of RED rock and climbing and beauty. The whole trail is beautiful. The climbs are HUGE, the rocks are rough, the roots are the gnarliest, but ahhh, so beautiful. All so beautiful.

The rain cleared out, the sun came out and we began to bake. Really bake. I was drinking, salting, eating..but for some reason my face felt like it was on fire. It felt dry and feverish. I was as red as a strawberry. I don't know what that was all about.

It took me 7 hours to get to 25 miles. I took a few minutes to re goop my feet (NO BLISTERS!!!) I was hoping to finish 50 before dark, but I would be cutting it close.

I and Jeffrey ran the first 35 miles together, then he opted out. Bodhan was running the next section, not crewing, so I ran with him. We ran with John a bit. The trail was climb climb climb...climb climb climb..my quads were getting tired, but nothing hurt. I was feeling mentally sharp and physically strong. I got into the rivers a few times while John pumped water to cool down. My face was still on fire.

Bodhan and John were finished, I was told that Scott, Al and Pierre were stopping but that Maria was still running strong. I knew the last portion was 8 miles..it would take me at least 2 hours. I hoped that Maria would still be at the aid station so I could run it in with her.

She was! She waited for us to get there, eat, refill so that she could finish with someone. I and Maria were the only ones to finish the 50. We headed out and oh man oh man were we chowed upon by flies and mosquitoes. They were the worst I've ever seen.

My upper thighs have thousands of bites on them. We'd run down down down into the bog and wet and muddy and the bugs were thick thick thick. Then up up up we'd go, up to the cliffs, the lookouts, like you are on top of the world..and back down down down to the bowels of the earth. It was crazy.

They topography and vegetation is constantly changing on the SHT. Pine and rock, birch and moss, sheer cliff, bogs, beaver dams.

There was a section on the last part of the 50 that I and Maria are running up to. She's like "What is this?" I look around her and here is a lake. With two boards skimming the top of the water. We had to run over the boards, that are even with the top of the water, the water looked deep! This is a section that we will be running in the dark during the 100. I'm glad I will know to be very very careful!

As I and Maria were nearing the end I thought I heard voices. I didn't want to get too excited...I could be mistaken. Shortly thereafter we saw Alicia and Doug. They had hiked in 30 minutes from the end to meet us. It was wonderful! 1.5 miles left to finish the 50. Both I and Maria still felt strong, but happy to think of a shower and nice bed!

We ran into the finish at Finland, held hands and heard cheers! Here Eve, John, Jeffrey and Bodhan had come back to congratulate us on finishing the 50. It was sweet.

Maria looked at her watch: 15:52; and still daylight! She estimated it would take us between 15 and 16 hours, she was right on!

Both I and Maria felt strong and knew we could go along for another 50. Now that's a good thing!

Back to the house, shower, friends and fun.

What a sweet weekend! I feel a bit closer to finishing that 100 this fall. Still afraid, but hey; that fear allows me to become strong.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Duke and Eve

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Eve and John

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Eve and HUGE TROPHY!

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Duke and Eve Won!!

What a day at the Afton 25/50 K trail races. Wow.

I woke at 330 so I would have plenty of time to get over to the other side of the world with 1/2 an hour to spare before race time. I went through thunderstorms on the way over to Afton State Park and was hoping the rain would at least lighten for the start. Much to my amazement, it wasn't even raining in Afton..yet.

Eve's goal was to break the woman's record which was 444. She ran a 445 in training so we were all feeling quite confident that she would be able to do that.

Duke (Eve's husband) wanted to run a 420 as a goal race.

Can you believe the speed? My goal was a PR and to hopefully break 6 hours! Far cry from a 444!

Oh well..back to the race.

It was hot..90F .. and humid. Real humid. I don't usually mind the heat and it really didn't bother me too much. A thunderstorm did roll through, but it left as quickly as it came. Then the hot sun arrived and the dew points went through the roof.

I kept on thinking about Eve, throughout the whole race, I knew she would break the record.

I reached the half way point in 2:50 so I thought I was in good shape for under 6. It just didn't pan out though, my legs became tired, I slowed down, I was hot and I finished in 608, which is a PR for me, I didn't have any knee pain or any pain at all and I'd say I'm all recovered from FANS so I'm very pleased with my race.

As I ran into the finish line Eve was there doing a cheer. I looked at her and asked her how it went. "I did it, I broke the record!" Yahoo!! She ran the race in 4:21:48!!! That is so incredible. She not only broke the record .. she shattered it!!

Then Duke walked up and she announced that DUKE WON THE RACE! Won it in 4:20 - right on his goal - and get this, EVE took SECOND overall! Duke didn't even know she was only a minute in back of her! What a sweet deal.

THEN, John took third place! Unreal. They took 1-2 and 3. The three of them train together all of the time, are good friends. It is so cool!

What a great race.

I'm going to head up to the cabin for a while and then to Lutsen for Superior Beta Test for the 100 mile. Ought to be a good time!

Have a great 4th of July!