Thursday, January 31, 2008

Things To Make Me Smile

Another MN weather report: you know, all of this outdoor running, the weather is always noticed.

Today it heated up to 13F. Oh yeah. You know what? School was actually delayed two hours yesterday due to cold temps. I woke up at 415 for my treadmill run and at 5am caught the news that school was delayed. I let the boys sleep, then grabbed Topaz and headed for the trail. -35F wind chill didn't feel too bad and heck, I had two extra hours! It was awesome.

So today at 13F, it felt pretty good. Topaz and I ran the trail, without snowshoes for 8 miles. It was pretty slippery with the melt during the weekend and the refreeze.

Yesterday an Editor from Trail Runner Magazine called me. She interviewed for me quite some time, mainly focusing on the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon. It was a new experience for me, interviewing. I'll post a link here when her article is finished.

Today Hammergel Nutrition contacted me. Katie let me know that had I registered as a VIP Athlete with Hammer Nutrition, I would have won $1500 cash OR $1000 in Hammer Nutrition products since I came in First Woman for the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon. Here I had just placed a $197 order too and I had no idea of the VIP Athlete Sponsorship. I do now!

AND..I'm going to begin coaching a Woman's Beginning Running class with MDRA (Minnesota Distance Running Association) in April. I am so excited! I'll have completed my Level 1 USAFT Coaching Certification and will be ready to go to the next level. It's just what I have wanted to do for quite some time. I'm finally ready to step out of my comfort zone and try it.

And get this..Wil contacted me about my blister and asked if I'd be interested in a contest. Well, certainly, any contest is a good contest..especially when she is going to send me a free box of socks to try out and write about..can't beat that! More details to come...

...all the little things that make a gal smile :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

8 Days of Healing, Getting Better

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Balmy

I can't imagine what I would post about if I didn't live in Minnesota and had constant weather changes, as well as season changes. There would be no snowshoeing if I was in the warmer climate, no stories about frozen river and lakes. No stories about trudging through deep snow or wearing 3 layers of clothing. As much as I have complained in my former negative life about winter, I no longer hate it. I have come to embrace it. What a relief!

Today was 39F. Definitely balmy. When Topaz and I left for the trail it was 7F, so we had a nice warm up. The snow was crunchy enough so I didn't need to run in snowshoes. My wound wasn't hurting so I wore my trail shoes. I only noticed a bit of pain on the top of my foot from the snowshoe race where the straps were digging in. Not too bad. The power of positive thinking I tell you! For example: I was worried about not being able to run the 1/2 yesterday, but after telling myself and believing, truly, that I would not hurt, I didn't hurt, and I was able to run hard and well.

This morning was a nice, relaxed 3 hour run. I stayed near the dirt roads and 4 wheel paths, not going too far into the trail as I didn't want to navigate on uneven ground too much. I didn't see a soul. Topaz and I had the area to ourselves, along with 3 bald eagles and 8 deer. After 1.5 hours I just turned around and headed back to the car.

Our plan was to go bowling and laser tagging this afternoon, but with the promise of a warm day we decided to hit the slopes instead. I didn't know if I could get my foot into a stiff snowboard boot but was willing to give it a try. I wrapped it up tight and it was just fine. I lasted for 4 hours and then sat in the chalet, reading the sequel to the Pillars of the Earth; World Without End. It's wonderful. My favorite book for years has been East of Eden, but I think Pillars and now WWE is a close 2nd. I may have to read EOE again, just to be sure.

My heel looks worse than it feels. At least there is new skin trying to grow back. It isn't as raw as it was. I took the picture today, after 8 days of healing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Securian Frozen Half Marathon

Wine is fine but Whiskey's Quicker...is ringing through my ears. I listened to a lot of Ozzy today. About the only thing that has NOT changed about me since I was the party girl is my music..oh, and my husband.

The race today was NOT frozen! Man o live, it was a balmy 21F when I woke up this morning and about the same at the start, with nary a wind. It felt downright Jamaican.

I re cleaned and bandaged my foot, feeling apprehensive about this race. I dashed by pie in the sky PR 1/2 marathon goal, which would have been sub 1:55 which I ran at Nerstrand 1/2 a few months ago. Oh yeah, when I said yesterday that I have run two marathons, apparently I was lying. As I was running today I recalled Nerstrand, and that it was my PR. Bad memory.

I only wanted to be able to run without re gouging my foot and having pain on the top. I wanted to see if I was recovered from the tough Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon a week ago. I hadn't really killed myself on the trail this past week. I've been running in Sorel boots for heavens sakes! Not very conducive to speed. A good tough stair master workout and two heavy weight sessions; one leg and one shoulder/back. I knew I was well rested, but that would mean nothing if my foot hurt. I promised myself I would stop running if I felt the gouging.

As I was cleaning the wound out this morning Steve came to look at it for the first time. He didn't like what he saw. Oh well...he's thought I was crazed before.

I arrived a full hour early for the race. I needed to register and I don't know St Paul at all. I was surprised to find an empty ramp, only charging $3 for the day, a block from the race start.

I sky walked my way over to Securian and signed up for the race. $30 for a 1/2 Marathon! Is that steep or what? I could have paid extra for a nice drifit shirt, but man, no thanks, this was an expensive enough run!

As I went out to use the portapotties, I enjoyed listening to the conversations going on. Most were talking about how nice it was outside and what a difference a week makes in temperatures. I had to agree.

I went to the start line and a man came up to me, in a red jacket. Mark had left a post here that if it was warm enough he may run today and may approach me, wearing are red jacket. He did! It was nice to meet him and talk a bit. This was Marks 3rd 1/2, he is training for his first marathon at Fargo in May. He was wanting to qualify for the first wave at TCM and I believe he said a 145 would get him there.

The siren sounded and off I went. I had sucked back a Hammerheed Gel 10 minutes prior to the race and had a Skim Latte at Caribou before the start. I no longer like the full feeling that eating a full carb breakfast gives me before a race. Before Northwoods I did the same and felt good. I may begin fueling along the race way instead of the 300-400 calories I've been consuming prior. It just feels better.

We began going down the steep hill, it didn't feel icy at all but I didn't let myself go all out downhill. I was afraid of my heel. We turned the corner to Shepherd Road and followed it all the way-an out and back. The course runs along the river, in back of the Science Museum, past many new apartments and condos that have gone up along the river. It was a nice run.

I wore my heart rate monitor. I don't really know why. I only measure my heart rate at the gym because the stair master has a handle heart rate monitor and I think it's interesting to watch as I am bored out of my mind stepping. When I first began stepping I was totally exhausted at 160, now, I can step an hour at 175-180. I've increased my level from 4 to 15. Figuring that I can go hard for an hour, I figured I could try going hard running for at least that long. I dug my dusty heart rate monitor out of my drawer and used it for the 3rd time. Ever. I've had it for 4 years.

I turned on my iPod, I didn't really want to listen to my gasping and breathing, it makes me think I should slow down, so I rocked out.

After a mile I was at 175 and held that most of the way. Up hill I'd drift to 177, downhill 173 and at the finish-going straight up-I hit 181. I was moving, moving for me, anyway.

At 5 miles I saw the winners coming toward us. This is why I love out and backs. 20 men passed for the first woman and I think it was Kelly Keeler-Ramacier. It looked like her! I hope it was and I hope she won. I had met her at the Lake Harriet Fat Ass and was impressed with her.

I saw Karen Gall cheering along the route, and then said hello to Lynn Saari , who I just met an Northwoods, she was running ahead of me. As I came around the 1/2 way mark and was running back I saw Dave Just pass me and then saw Les Markisko and Kate Havelin going out. Maynard was cheering and ran a while with me. I sat with Maynard at the Northwoods Party, he called me Studette, and it stuck.

The finish was approaching. I was hitting 830's most of the way. I had never run this fast before. It is nice to think that I am 10 years older, more experienced in running of course, and not slowing down. Of course, I began very slow, so I had much room for improvement. I have wondered if ultras were slowing me down, I guess not. I'm so pleased with my performance. When you aren't expecting anything, a PR is even a greater ending to a race.

One mile left. I was going to PR. Holy balls. NO HEEL PAIN. None. Crazy. Up the last steep hill, HR hit 181, and there I am. Finished. 1:51. That rocks. I am so excited. I didn't think I could ever hit a 1:51, especially today, after a tough as nails Northwoods Snowshoe last week and a bad foot. I guess it isn't bad anymore!

As I came across the finish, I saw Mark. He hit his goal! Congratulations Mark! We went inside to collect our coffee mugs. They had the food area set up very nicely. A woman handed us a plastic bag, we went to the gal with the bananas, she dropped one in, forward to the salted nut roll gal, the bun gal, the cereal gal and the coffee mug gal. Just like Trick or Treating!

Mark and I parted and I headed on home.

I checked my Heart Rate Monitor. Low:173 Average:175 High:181. Just as I thought.

Life is Good. Next up: Psycho Wyco 50K.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm In!

I purposely hadn't looked at my heel since I cleaned and covered it up with a new Compeed a few days ago. It made me nervous. Yesterday the throbbing finally went away; I was beginning to worry about infection. This morning I removed the Compeed before my shower, let the water pour over it, poured some peroxide on it and showed Troy and Tyler the volcano that erupted, squirted some neosporin into the wound and placed a Compeed over it. It felt better!

The swelling has gone away a bit in my foot so I was able to wear a run shoe to work today with jeans. Friday you know; jeans day.

I decided that today I would try a run in road shoes and wool socks. I figured I might as well see if I can give the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon a try tomorrow or if it was silly to give it a try.

I didn't hurt! I was so excited. Topaz and I ran the dirt road to the lake and back, about 8 miles..no pain. The Compeed stayed in place the whole time. Yeahoo. Back in business.

Guess this is the green light for the race tomorrow. I shouldn't really call it a race. For me, it will be a run with people. No racing involved. Just a fun morning, running with a group of people with like interests.

I have only run 2 1/2 marathons. The first was when I was beginning to train for my first marathon. I ran the Mora 1/2. Oh, I remember how difficult it was for me to run that distance. I felt as though I had conquered all of my demons. It was a huge race for me. I ran the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon about 7 years ago. I thought it was crazy to be running 13 miles in the winter.

Now I know better :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From the Duluth Tribune

It was 15 degrees below zero on Saturday morning, and yet Robert Rusch had forsaken the warmth of an indoor armchair for a morning of snowshoeing in Lester Park.

It was the day of the Northwoods Snow Championship, so the vicious cold wasn’t about to faze him, he said.
“If they would’ve canceled it, I would’ve come anyway,” shrugged Rusch of Rib Lake, Wis.

Dave Schuneman (right) of Duluth and Jim McDonell of Woodbury, Minn., approach the first turn after the start of the 18th Northwoods Snowshoe Championship on Saturday at Lester Park.

Rusch didn’t need to worry about the snowshoe race being canceled. The cold might sap car batteries and solidify bird baths, but organizer Barb Van Skike said there was no chance it could nix the races.

“There were a lot of people who called and said ‘You shouldn’t have this,’ but we’ve never canceled it,” Van Skike said. “And in fact, I wouldn’t know how to go about canceling it. What do you do with $2,000 worth of T-shirts?”

The Northwoods Snowshoe Championship has been held snow or shine for 18 years, and weather has never brought it to its knees — not even last year, when snowless conditions meant racers competed without snowshoes.

A total of 121 people had signed up for Saturday’s races — 58 were competing in the 10-kilometer race,
46 were entered in the half-marathon and 17 were in the full marathon — and none of them, it seemed, were too concerned about frozen digits or frostbitten cheeks.

“I fully expect to be unzipping things along the way,” said Maria Purvey of Long Lake, Minn., who has participated in the snowshoe race
13 times.

“You can dress for it, as long as
the wind isn’t terrible,” said Purvey’s husband, Bob Hance, a 17-race veteran.

At Aid Station One, at the intersection of Oak Street and Plum Avenue, many racers shed balaclavas or stripped away outer gear even though the cold had condensed their breath into frost that clung to their faces.
That didn’t come as a surprise to aid station worker Mike Millonig. Though the cold cracked a plastic rib in the tent above where he was grilling bacon strips — which provided the racers with fat and sodium — the former Northwoods Championship racer knew what Saturday’s competitors were facing.

“These guys, they got some body heat going,” Millonig said.

Julie Berg’s eyelashes were flocked with white when she stopped by the aid station, but she couldn’t wear her goggles, she said, because they were too warm.

“I never thought I’d overdress, but alas, I did,” Berg said.

At Aid Station Two on Lester River Road, Sharon Hexum-Platzer of Willow River and Steve Treichler of Duluth were trying to keep their water jug from freezing.

“We have to keep moving it in and out of vehicles,” Hexum-Platzer said.
“We’ve gotten smarter over the past 18 years,” she added.
Top finishers

10K
Men’s
1. Greg Hexum, Esko, 42:20; 2. Ian Lanza, Rochester, Minn., 48:24; 3. Keith Thompson, Duluth, 51:03.

Women’s
1. Kris Rosenbush, Stewartville, Minn., 1:09:5; 2. Rachel Van Hale, Minneapolis, 1:13:52; 3. Angela Byers, Minneapolis, 1:22:09.

Half-Marathon
Men’s
1. Jim Reed, Duluth, 1:54:42; 2. Nathaniel Wilson, Frederic, Wis., 1:54:57; 3. Dave Schuneman, Duluth, 1:55:09.

Women’s
1. Shelly Wilson, River Falls, Wis., 2:43:12; 2. Sondra Mowers, Duluth, 2:54:53; 3. Kris Kolenz, Duluth, 2:54:54.

Marathon
Men’s
1. Scott Marsh, Austin, Minn., 4:58:17; 2. Matt Long, Poplar, 5:43:29; 3. Steve Burrows, Orillia, Ontario, 5:49:06.

Women’s
1. Julie Berg, Big Lake, Minn., 5:52:44

Longer Days !

Thank you so much for all of the nice words regarding my race..especially the way some of you have said that I am able to inspire you. I am grateful for that.

There is nothing like being inspired by someone, someone that might offer a few words of motivation or encouragement, or someone who might help to get you out the door when you think you rather not, or someone to give you a gentle push out of your comfort zone. I know how wonderful that feels.

My foot is sore as hell. I have a nice comfy compeed patch over the heel. These compeed bandages work very well. They stick as well as duct tape, they allow the wound to somehow feel less painful, they are waterproof and stay on at least a full day and night. I fill the hole in my heel with neosporin and cover with the compeed. It magically feels better.

My foot is too swollen for a shoe. Today to work I wore a Merrel clog thing without a back. There isn't much of a heel so I have to wear the shoes with pants that I don't wear high heels with. I have one pair of pants that I don't wear heels with. I usually wear a 3" heel at least with longer pants, most of my pants are real long now due to the loss of fat filling my butt, thighs and waist. Guess I'll be washing/wearing the same pair of pants for a few days!

Today after the Internet tech left, yes, he finally fixed the connection, Topaz and I hit the trail. I again wore Tyler's huge size 15 boot on one foot, my Sorel on the other foot and we jogged along the dirt road to the lake.

After 8 miles we came back to the car..and it was LIGHT outside! Usually I am racing the sunset. Not anymore, the sun was still up, the moon had not yet risen..days are getting longer. For that I am grateful, too!

The boys are at youth group tonight, Steve is at pool and here I am with a few hours. I'll be completing an Italian lesson and watching The Biggest Loser. Do you ever watch that?

I am totally motivated by The Bigger Loser. I love it. I love to watch these people metamorphosize (no, that is probably not a word) themselves.

They come into camp unfit, without a clue as to what nutrition is, no idea how to exercise. Most have high cholesterol, diabetes and other ailments.

The contestants leave camp in 4 months with a sound knowledge of exercise, fitness and nutrition. They fight their demons inside every day..and they win. They realize that the fat on their body isn't the big problem, is it the SYMPTOM of the big problem. They learn awareness of themselves, they allow themselves to feel pain, sometimes for the first time .. they aren't medicating themselves with food.

In week one of this Couples series, EVERY person but one lost over 10 pounds the first week. Most lost more than 10 pounds in week 1. Sure, most of it is water, but still. How motivating must it be for these people to lose this kind of weight. They work very hard; Jillian and Bob kick their butts. I love Jillian. I would love to have her as a trainer. My weight trainer never pushed me hard enough. Jillian would kick my ass.

So, some reading, some television, some cocoa next to the fireplace..oh yeah.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon (Ultra)

First of all, my Internet connection at home has been down since Friday afternoon. I stopped by the office today to pick up my Italian Lesson books and to use the computer. Hopefully I'll have a connection by Tuesday. I am not working tomorrow, as I have medical appointments scheduled, so will not be able to respond for a while. Thank for all of the well wishes for the Marathon. It was awesome fun!

Friday evening after work I wore all of the clothing I was planning on wearing for the race for a three hour snowshoe run. I had on two layers over my legs, and they felt cold. I decided to bring 3 layers for the race. I tried running with my snowboard goggles, Troy's goggles and Tyler's. I liked Troy's the best, so decided to take those to the race with me. My snowshoes felt good, my feet stayed warm, hands were good, I was ready for the race.

The boys went snowboarding with their club on Thursday night. Each Thursday they take the school bus from school at 230 and snowboard until they return to the high school at 1000. They had decided that Thursday evening was cold enough, they didn't want to try Spirit Mountain, in Duluth on Saturday while I did the race, at -60F wind chill. I didn't try to talk them into it!

Saturday morning I loaded my ton of clothing into the car and headed for Duluth. The race didn't begin until 930 so I didn't have to leave home until 6. Not bad. The temperature at home was -19F with a -34F wind chill. Duluth was supposed to be -22F with a wind chill of -47 to -63 for most of the day, but sunny!

I reached the race at 845, plenty of time to check in and pick up my race number, minimal visiting as it was WAY too cold to stand around and chat, and time to sift through the mountain of clothing I had in my car.

I decided to wear a very thin base layer of Patagonia silk bottoms, my heavy Hind drylite tights and a pair of Brooks baggy tights. On top I wore the Patagonia silk top, heavy Hind drylite top and an even heavier Hind drylite top. I also wore my Patagonia Spraymiser Jacket that I wear from fall to spring. I had on heavy smartwool socks, Inov 8 Gortex shoes, thick heavy mittens with a wind mitten over the top. A fleece hat and two Turtle Fur neck gaiters that pull up over my head if need be. I wore a one bottle pack stuffed with Cliff Blocks, some Advil and Hammer Gel. I was set to rock and roll.

Out to the start line with 10 minutes to spare. Strap on the snowshoes, take a picture. Ooops, too cold, battery pack drained, bring camera back to the car as it was useless in the cold. No pictures!

Barb, bless her soul, and her daughter Shannon, are the RDs for this race. Barb has put on this race for 18 years! She says she will do it for 20 years. They do a great job. The volunteers! Standing outside for HOURS on end, just to pour us some hot drink and offer us cookies, amazing. Just amazing.

OK, Barb says we are ready to start, tells us it is about the same course as usual, well marked, river is frozen and be safe, be smart, dress well.

GO!

The race begins in a race ski area. Lots of hills on a groomed ski path. The first section is straight up hill. I get off to the side so I walk up the hill. The marathoners and 1/2 marathoners began together. The 10K's begin at 1000. As I looked around I think I saw 5 women marathoners and 12 male marathoners. The rest of the pack were doing the 1/2.

My feet were cold instantly. This scared me. I kept making a conscious effort to move my toes back and forth, trying to keep them warm. Once I finally made it to the top of the hill I began to run fast. The snow was perfect. A thick, deep base. I didn't sink at all, it was frozen solid. The snowshoes had an easy time gripping the surface, even on the icy ups.

As I was running hard, I heated up quickly. After 45 minutes I removed my jacket, tying it to my waist. I was shocked! I was actually warm. There was ice in my jacket sleeves and my outer shirt was covered with frost. I had on Troy's snowboard goggles, they kept my face warm. I also had applied Aquafor all over my face so I wouldn't have to worry about frost bite.

Before I came into Aid Station 1 I was having pain on the back of my right heel. What the hell? I've run many miles in the same shoe/sock that I had on. What was going on with my heel?

We ran one loop around the ski area, then back to the start/finish and another loop to AS1. As I ran into AS1 (about 6 miles?) I asked Mike if he had some Vaseline. They had some type of lubricant that I jammed over my sock, hoping it would find it's way to whatever was chaffing the hell out of my heel. I didn't want to take the time to take off all my foot gear, I was only 50 minutes into the race!

I guzzled down 2 cups of broth and an Excel and headed out for the big loop. It was awesome. Clear, sunny day, the runners spread out and I found myself alone. I saw some deer, a fox, I just took in the sights and enjoyed the morning. I was so surprised that I wasn't freezing to death. Eventually I came upon Ed and would end up jockeying back and forth with him the first 13 miles.

My snowshoes were really giving me problems. This had never happened before. My buckle on the back strap disintegrated. It just broke, in like 4 pieces! Now my foot was swaying right to left, back and forth, making my heel hurt even more. Pretty soon the three rubber straps going over the top of my foot felt like they were cutting into my skin. I couldn't believe it. I tried to pretend like it didn't hurt. Just suck it up and run.

As I crossed the river from AS1 to AS2 I saw 3 deer run up ahead of me. They were so beautiful! They must have been wondering what we were doing invading their territory. I walked up a long hill, through the woods, protected from the wind, still plenty warm. The day really was beautiful. You just need to dress for the temperatures. Really!

I readjusted my snowshoe again at AS2. The excel was freezing while Shannon was pouring it. It was so cold! She wasn't able to keep anything fluid. My water bottle was a 24 oz ice block. It was totally useless. I couldn't get anything out of it. Pretty soon Shannon was able to get the excel to pour and I guzzled down a few cups worth, then headed on down the trail.

As I was turned out of the woods, onto a street, heading into AS3 the wind whipped up and reminded me that it was a cold day! I struggled back into my now frozen jacket and zipped it up quickly. I never took it off again during the run.

My face was warm, I put the goggles up on my head. About an hour later I reached up on my head to put them back over my eyes and they were frozen to my hat! I couldn't get them off my hat so I just didn't wear them anymore. I pulled my two gaiters up to my eyes. My eye lashes froze to my gaiter! I wondered if I would pull my eye lashes out? I put my mittens over my eye and eventually was able to get my eyelashes free. Crazy! Again, I was reminded that it was damn cold out!

Every step was beginning to hurt. I kept thinking to myself that I have run 100's with blisters and sucked it up. Here I was, with something hurting on my heel, and I only had to run probably 7 hours. Get on with it! Each step made me grit my teeth. It felt like something was cutting into my flesh.

As I came into AS1 again, almost finished with the first 1/2, I told Mike my heel was killing me and I couldn't suck it up anymore. He was surprised I admitted I was in pain, and immediately set me in a chair, under a tarp, sheltered a bit from the wind. He was frying bacon and sausage! As I sat down he quickly removed my snowshoe and my shoe. We saw the blood coming through the thick sock. I groaned. Maybe I had sucked it up too long. I should have taken care of it when it first began to hurt. Duh!

He gently removed the sock and there it was. A silver dollar sized, popped blister and the skin was hanging on by a thread. He looked at Larry, Larry said they'd duct tape it up. He placed the skin back over the raw exposed flesh and Larry heated the duct tape up so that it would stick. After they taped it up, Mike quickly replaced all my foot gear and made me promise to clean it up real well and place some antibiotic cream on it when I showered. I promised.

I left AS1 feeling SO much better! I could run without pain. I took 4 Advil for good measure and realized, happily, that I was going to reach the 1/2 way point in 3 hours. Yippee!

I came into the start/finish and proceeded to run back to AS1. Mike and Larry asked how I was doing, I stated I was fine and told them how grateful I was. They were the reason I was going to finish the race pain free. What a difference it made to have a good feeling heel!

By the time I reached AS3 the top of my foot was killing me. I couldn't believe it. I was trying to fix the straps when Matt Long blew by me. We had come into the start/finish at the same time twice, and now he was really moving well. I wasn't. I was stuck there on the trail having another equipment failure. I removed my snowshoe and put two of the straps under my trail shoe. I fastened one of the straps and began to run. It felt better, my foot was now swollen so it was good to only have one strap on. Except it caused my foot to again move back and forth. Oh well. Enjoy the day!

I kept thinking about how grateful I was to be able to run this race. To be able to be warm enough so that I didn't have to worry about the cold, to be fit enough so that I didn't have to worry about the distance. I was having a great day, all in all.

I didn't feel tired, I didn't have any stomach issues, no pain other than one foot and that wasn't hurting all that bad anymore. I was blessed.

I enjoyed being outside, in the clear blue sky, feeling my heart beat heavily, listening to my breathing, hearing the birds singing. It was spectacular.

As I came into AS1 for the final time I again thanked Larry and Mike for saving my day. I wouldn't have enjoyed the race so much without their help.

I ran the final loop, could hear the finish line in the distance. I was so happy to come to the pine trees, where I knew the finish line would be. As I approached the line, the few spectators began to clap and cheer. Someone took a finish picture, offered me a hot cocoa and Barb presented me with a real nice finishing fleece sweatshirt with a zipper neck.

The clock read 5:52. Wow. A PR.

I removed my snowshoes, sat at the table and enjoyed my hot cocoa. I introduced myself to Lynn Saari who told me I was first woman. Wow! When there is a high rate of attrition, I usually place quite well.

Barb asked me to attend the party following the race, at Fitgers, at 7:00 to collect my award. I told her I would. I called home to tell Steve I won, and that I was going to attend the party, so that I would be home later than I had anticipated. I called Kathy to see if I could come to her place to shower. Kathy, Lynette and Jo ran the 1/2 so they were all at Kathy's, all ready cleaned up.

At Kathy's home I showered, ate dinner and then we all went to the award ceremony. It was so much fun! Barb gave away 5 pair of Atlas snowshoes! They are much smaller than what I wear and lighter. I didn't win anything, though.

I did go home with a fabulous 1st Place Champion trophy, a great sweatshirt and some incredibly awesome memories!

Mike Most told me that he screws his trail shoes onto his Northern Lites Elites, the same snowshoes I have. If I ever get serious about this snowshoe running business, I think I will do the same. The bindings really worked me over.

Three people had on Garmins. Two of the Garmins showed the race was 29.98 miles and the other showed 30.11 miles.

After picking up a 4 shot espresso coffee I was ready to drive back home. I reached Big Lake, safe and sound, before midnight.

Today my foot is swollen and painful. Just the right foot. I have three strips of blisters and bruises where the straps were. The heel is a mess. I can't believe it. I haven't had blister problems in a whole year. The first thing Tyler asked me this morning was if I used my foot potion. I felt embarrassed to say no, I didn't! Duh again. I can't believe I forgot to use it!

Topaz was fixing for a run today, he didn't get anything yesterday. I put on Tyler's size 15 Sorel boot on my swollen foot, my Sorel size 9 on the other and hit the trail for 2 hours. I walked, Topaz got his run on :)

Now I need to head over to Target for some foot care supplies! Next up: Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon. It has to be warmer, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Upper Midwest Trail Runners

A few months ago I was very fortunate to be voted onto the Upper Midwest Trail Runners board. The UMTR is for anyone who likes to run on dirt, grass, gravel, rocks, mud and snow-anything that isn't paved. Larry Pederson, RD for the Superior Fall Races as well as the founder of the Minnesota Trail Run Series, is the creator of UMTR. Larry wanted a club to encourage more runners from Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa and Canada to run on trails.

The past few months we, as in the Board of the UMTR, have been working on a run series, logos, brochures, membership, website, etc. and are excited to launch UMTR soon.

We are launching the 5 Fab Fifties, a series of 50K and 50 mile races throughout the region. Entry in he ultra series, as well as the MN Run Series, is free for all runners who join the UMTR club. UMTR membership is $20 a year.

5 Fab Fifties ultra trail series:

April 12 Chippewa Moraine 50K
April 19 Trail Mix 50K
May 10 Ice Age 50 Mile
May 17 Superior Trail 50K
July 5 Afton Trail Race 50K
July 26 Voyageur 50 Mile
August 23 Lean Horse
September 5-7 Superior Sawtooth
October 11 Glacial Trail 50 Mile

Runners who prefer shorter trail races or who have never tried running trail before may like to opt for the shorter races ranging from 5K to Marathon.

www.mntrailrunning.com

April 19 Trail Mix 25K
May 3 Running in the Ruff 10K
May 17 Superior Trail 25K
June 7 Chester Woods Trail Race 10 Mile
June 14 Sour Grapes Half Marathon
July 5 Afton 25K
July 26 SMU Trail Scamper 4 Mile
August 16 Days of Old Track & Trail 10K
September 6 Moose Mountain Marathon
September 20 City of Lakes Trail Loppet 5K
September 27 In Yan Teopa 10 Mile
October 18 Big Woods Run Half-Marathon

I am very excited to be able to be a part of this group who is bringing trail races to the people of the Upper Midwest. Get out there and be a part of the series!! You will enjoy it, truly.

This is a great way to hook up with others more experienced than you, you will meet others to ask questions of, to learn of training, to just meet up and run together. I would have loved something like this when I was just beginning to run trail.

I'll post updates and developments here as they take place. We will be launching a website soon for UMTR.

Get out there and ENJOY!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Fun Run

Time flies by so quickly. Seems that I go into work on Monday morning and before I know it I am leaving Friday afternoon. I can't believe how quickly time goes. I no longer think to myself "I wish it was Friday". Friday is always right around the corner.

This week I was busy with meetings and appointments. I did manage to get Topaz and I out to the trail to snowshoe each evening for 5-8 miles. One of my meetings wrapped up at 845 PM and I didn't need to be at the High School to pick up the boys until 1000 PM, returning from Snowboard Club, so I was able to fit in a good hard workout on the stair stepper at the gym. That is the workout that gets my heart rate to flat line. I stepped at a level 13 (out of 20) for 60 minutes. My MHR was 188; my AHR was 175. It is a workout that totally kicks my ass. And lungs. I was amazed to see 5 people at the gym at 9 PM. You see, there is hardly NEVER more than 3 people at the gym I attend. NEVER. It's crazy. Even after New Year's and nobody is working out. Crazy.

Last night we watched Eight Below. Troy and I saw it at the theatre 2 years ago and he wanted to Netflix it. I had forgotten how sad it is. It is a wonderful movie, but I cried during the whole thing. Happy tears, sad tears, happy tears. If you have a special attachment to a certain dog, you will cry steadily. Even if you don't have a love for animals, it is very good family movie. I was emotionally spent afterward and went to bed to read Pillars of the Earth. It's such a wonderful book. 1000 pages worth of great reading. I'm so glad there is a sequel. I'll have to pick it up tomorrow.

Today Topaz and I went out for a 3 hour snowshoe run. We didn't see any wildlife this morning. Topaz sniffed out a few wolf tracks but we never did come across anything. I saw tracks from someone pulling a sled. I never did see a vehicle or a person, but the tracks were fresh. Who is out there pulling a sled? Training for Arrowhead 135? I followed the tracks for a while but never saw anyone. Strange.

It looks like the cold snap of the winter is going to hit next weekend. Just in time for the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon in Duluth. Figures! Temperatures are calling for below 0 lows and single digit highs. Wearing layers is a good thing. I might even try some foot warmers to shove into my shoes. Anybody out there running this with me? There usually aren't too many takers, especially for the marathon. There is a 10K and 1/2 marathon option available.

Today I am going to hit the hill snowboarding with the boys. They are getting SO much better than me. It's kind of embarrassing!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Coming Off The Lake..Is He Having Fun Yet?

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A Little Mushy

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Ready To Cross

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On the Other Side

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January Thaw Day 2

It's 41F outside right now! Amazing. Amazingly nice. It's awesome to have a break from the Minnesota Hunch. You know, we scrunch our shoulders up to our neck and say BRRRRRR! It's nice not to do that today :)

I couldn't believe my eyeballs what I woke up this morning and saw that it was 36F..and 530 in the morning? Crazy!

It was just as foggy this morning as yesterday; a thick hazy white-grey fog from the ground to the sky. I never did see the sun during the my run. It stayed foggy the whole time. Lots of condensation in the air.

I grabbed my snowshoes, placed them under my arm pits and began to run up the dirt road to the lake. I put on my snowshoes and noticed that my foot was sore where the top strap rubs. I unlatched the strap and it felt much better. The lake was a little mushy after a day of melting. We ran across the lake, to the island and back. Back down the gravel road to the trail that I love to run upon so much.

The snow was much more difficult to run upon than yesterday. Yesterday was fast, running on top of the stiff snow. It held me well. Oh man, not today! With each step I sunk a good four inches. My quads became tired after 20 miles of sloshing through the snow!

As we came upon the first river crossing I was hopeful that it would still be solid as it was yesterday and that I would be able to cross upon it. There was water on top of the ice, I stepped across gingerly and it held me. We ran through the meadow, to the stand of pine trees where I noticed that something had sprayed yellow drops all over the snow. It was puzzling. As I ran along I kept on noticing the yellow that was splotched all over the snow. What kind of animal was spraying pee all over the snow?

We came to the second river crossing. I removed my snowshoes and threw them to other side. Topaz waited for me to go first. This is the only place that he ever waits for me. He always wants to be first, but not crossing this river in the winter. As I reached the other side, he again, catapulted from the bank, over my head, to the other side. I tried getting a picture of him mid air, but he was too fast. By the time I scrambled up the bank he had taken a roll in the snow to cool off and was ready to run.

As we turned came around the corner, there was Big Daddy Buck. Oh man, I've only seen him two times this fall/winter on the trail and he is nothing but majestic. He's muscular, but graceful. He actually looks intelligent. He's amazing. He just stood there, looking at us, Topaz stayed still, watching him. I looked away, Big Daddy Buck snorted and jumped 15 feet in one prance, through the woods. Topaz looked at me, I said go ahead, and off he went, prancing with Big Daddy Buck. He is spectacular and I am so grateful that he made it through deer season. I was beginning to wonder.

As we came to the cross roads, Topaz stopped and was waiting for my cue. Are we going to the left, back on the trail, or to the right, back to the car. I yelled out LEFT! He gave a wag of a tail and a smile, and ran as fast as he could, back down the trail.

This time around the trail was even more soft. It was tough trudging through the warm snow. My feet were soaked, I could feel water in my shoes. Gortex shoes are great, until they become soaked with water on the inside. The water doesn't flow out of the shoes. It felt like I was running in a spring rain. At least it was warm water!

As we began our final loop, miles 15-20, I noticed foot prints on the trail! I was shocked. I hadn't seen a print out here all winter long. I noticed that the person was wearing winter Sorell Boots, and that the person must be pretty heavy, the prints were a good 8" deep. It must have been tough navigating through the snow.

One final trip through the pine trees and I felt drip drip drip on my nose. The yellow splatters in the snow..it was snow melting off of the pines! It was not an animal spraying pee all over the place after all.

One final crossing of the river, this time I was tired. Real tired. I took off my snowshoes a final time, threw them across the river and crossed. Again, Topaz waited for me to cross first.

We came to the cross road, I said RIGHT..ALL DONE! Topaz sat down, feeling dejected that we weren't going to run another loop, and waited for me to remove my snowshoes. I placed one under each armpit and began to run down the road to the car. As I was running along I noticed a person leaving the cemetery. I don't know why there is a cemetery in the Wildlife Refuge. It must have been there before the Feds purchased the property. Anyway, he looked at me like I was a nut. I said good morning, he said, why do you have snowshoes under your arms? Oh, I was snowshoe running. He just looked at me like I was crazy. I guess not everyone runs along with snowshoes under their arm pits!

When I told the boys about my run, including Big Daddy Buck, Troy told me "Mom, they probably think you are the Woodland Princess and Topaz is your Elf". He is reading The Lord Of The Rings. Cute.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

January Thaw

This morning as I was driving to the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge, I heard on the radio there is is a meteorological event held each January in Minnesota. It usually takes place during the first week of January. It is the January Thaw. If you live in Central Minnesota, there is a 92% chance that you will have back to back days of 32F or above. If you live in Southern Minnesota, you have a 97% chance. Alas, if you live in Northern Minnesota, you only receive a 61% chance.

Lucky for me, the January Thaw in Central MN is falling on a weekend. Today it will hit 37F and tomorrow 39F. Woohoo!

This morning I was driving through the darkness and a deep, thick fog. The sun was just beginning to create a bit of light, it hadn't yet risen. By the time I had run upon snowshoes for an hour, the sun was beginning to rise, the big red ball ascending into the sky. The fog began to burn off and the sky was turning pink, purple and red. Eventually blue and sunny.

What a day!

Topaz and I headed out for 3.5 hours. We ran down a few miles of gravel road through the darkness and fog, my flashlight barely penetrating the thick fog. As daylight approached we ran across the lake, to the island and bushwacked through the woods and marsh for a while. Moving so slowly caused my feet to become cold, so we crossed the lake and ran toward the Blue Hill Trail.

The trail is still closed due to the rebuilding of bridges. It's been closed since mid-October. At first, I thought this was a horrible turn of events, the trail, closed! But, alas, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. As I posted before, I have found another way to access the trail and I have had it completely to myself since. It is fabulous. There are no cross country skiers to yell at me for mucking up their trail with snowshoes.

I was able to race quickly across the meadows. The snow is firm and stiff, allowing me to run hard and fast upon the snow on my snowshoes. It was great fun. I decided to go down to the river to see if it was yet frozen, to see if I could finally cross to the South side of the Refuge. The river was frozen! I hadn't been to the other side in months. Topaz crossed first, of course, always in front of me, and I followed. It was solid! I was on the other side! I laughed and whooped and smiled, I enjoyed running on the trail that I hadn't been on for so long! I could feel the tension lessen in my neck, my shoulders, my back. I didn't even realize it was there. As I smiled and laughed more, talking animatedly to Topaz, the tension disappeared completely.

After looping around the trail we came to the second river crossing. This was a bit more difficult to navigate, but I was determined to cross. The banks are steep, I scooched down on my butt, removed my snowshoes and threw them to the other side. Topaz actually waited until I jumped across and as I was scrambling up the other side, he catapulted over my head, still reaching the top of the bank first.

Topaz laid in the snow, rolling onto his back and back onto his front, cooling off, as I refastened my snowshoes to my feet.

What a fabulous morning. As I glanced at my car clock I was shocked we were out there for 3.5 hours.

I did want to mention about the comments section of this blog. Those of us who publish on blogger or hove websites, know that there are tracking devices that we can embed into our bloggers. I use Site Meter. It compiles all of the statistical data left behind by my visitors. It allows me to see how many people have visited since inception of my blog, in the past year, past month, past day, past hour. It allows me to see where the visitor visited from. It shows your city, state, the time you visited, what your email address is, what your server is, your ISP address, I can even use Map It! and map driving directions from my address to your address, I know how long you visited, your in click, your out click, if you posted a comment, if you googled me, if you used a search word, what that word was, etc. You leave behind an electronic fingerprint.

I don't often log into my Site Meter. Usually once a week, to see where people are visiting from, how many hits I'm receiving, etc. Rarely do I look further than that.

Most of my readers are bloggers as well. Most of my readers leave behind their blog address and I, for the most part, know them well here in cyber space. Some don't have a blog, such as Zoey, Michelle or Phil, and post anonymously, but with their name, and as time goes on, I feel I know them well, too, as they comment often.

When I receive an anon comment I always look further. I click on the comment and can find that the person is posting from, say, CNN Headquarters, in Los Angeles, CA, at 12:45 PM, that the person's email is Julie Berg @CNN.com (or what have you), I can see that this person left 4 comments in the history of my blog, and that they visit on average 3 time a week. If I don't know this person, and usually I don't, it really isn't a big deal. When I look at my Site Meter and see CNN, Los Angeles, CA I'll think oh yeah, that's the newsgirl from LA. No biggie.

Yesterday I had xxx hits, xxx from different ISP's, so over xxx visited 2 times. I looked at a list of locations, listed as City, State and numbered 1 to xxx. I clicked xxx Hopkins, MN. I'll use this as an example because I don't believe I know anyone from Hopkins, MN. I click on Hopkins, MN and I find that the person used a server from K12.HOPKINS.MN.US so, I know that the person logged on from a computer at the Hopkins School District, upon further clicks, and by going to a private log in screen I find this persons electronic address, their physical address, that this person visited at 1:23 pm, visited for 3 minutes, looked at 2 pages, lists the pages looked at, upon further investigation I see that this person first found me by visiting RaceBerryJam.COM, googled "ANN MASER 8K" over two years ago, then found my Julie Berg: Run On.Blogspot.Com as I posted about Ann's race that I put on. Since then, this person has visited an average of 5 times a week, leaving 0 comments. So, I can figure out that this person was at Raceberryjam.com, looking at races, saw Ann's race listed and wanted further information, clicked onto my information and has been visiting since. That's a lot of information that is accessible on each and every visitor. Still, not really a big deal.

But when I click on a comment and it shows an address and name that I know as an acquaintance or better, then it becomes rather uncomfortable. Then I really think I need to let everyone know that you are not anonymous. You are leaving a fingerprint here each and every time you visit, and especially when you comment. If you really want to be anonymous, then don't visit here. It's not hard to figure out, at all.

When I first began this blog I didn't tell any of my acquaintance or friends about it. I began with a link at Body for Life Trackers and posted pictures and information there on weight loss and diet. As time went on, I began to post race reports. I would copy and paste the race report from here, sending it to my friends at MN-DEAD RUNNERS SOCIETY, The big Ultra List Serve and my Big Lake Run club friends. Eventually people began to google, say, Superior 50 Mile Race, and my blog with the race report Superior 50 Mile Race, would pop up. Pretty soon I realized that people that I actually knew in the real world knew of my blog. At first this was unsettling, but over time, it was fine. Instead of emailing my race reports to my friends, I began to email my blog address and then my hits on this blog increased ten fold. Now this blog has grown bigger than I ever anticipated, with over 300,000 hits since inception three years ago. I may change from Site Meter as I have to reset it every few months.

With those kind of numbers, I realize, I'll receive comments that I don't necessarily wish to receive. I can prohibit anonymous comments, I can moderate all comments, but would rather not do that. Steve thinks it is creepy that someone would post a comment here, that knows me, rather than call on the telephone, or talk to me in person. He doesn't read blogs, other than mine when I ask him to, so doesn't really grasp the nature of a blog, nor does he understand why I blog, or why anyone reads this blog, or why anyone, as he says 'offers unsolicited cyber psycobabble'.

I just wanted to let those that post anonymously, that you really aren't anonymous, so if you truly want to be, don't visit here, don't leave a fingerprint here.

I have a date with some great boys at Powder Ridge for snowboarding. I better get the car packed!

Have an excellent January Thaw :)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008...Bring It!

I no longer make New Year Resolutions. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't believe in them. I have made many, many New Year Resolutions. Over time, they have become ingrained habits. They have become a lifestyle for me. As I look back into my journals (I've been keeping a diary since I was 8) some of my resolutions have been to quit smoking, to quit drinking, to drink less than normal so that I no longer have black-outs, to lose weight, to get in the gym 3 x a week, to be kind to my sister, to make time for my extended friends and family, to run 15 miles a week, to enter a race a month (this was when I was running 5K-10K's), to eat veggies 3x a week...so it goes. I have tackled each and every one of these resolutions and they are now daily habits.

A few years ago I began to set goals instead of making the resolutions. I find that by first setting big goals, I can then break them up, creating smaller steps to reach those goals.

For 2008 I am setting a goal to run 5 100's. Shit, it seems so far fetched when I look back and see that my goal was to run 15 miles a week and a 10K race a month. I figured if I entered a 10K a month I would show up on race day, trained to run 6 miles, and that I would continue running, training for the next race. That is exactly what happened.

That is what goals can do for a person! Achieve them and create greater more grand goals.

2008 will bring McNaughton 100, FANS with 115 mile goal, Leadville 100, Superior 100 and Javelina Jundred 100. I try to add a new race each year. Last year was Vermont, this year will be Leadville and Javelina.

To complete this goal I will run Buck Hill once a week beginning as soon as the snowboard season is over. I will work on my speed as soon as the track is clear. Speed work on a track is better than on a treadmill. I'm asking many questions of those who have run Leadville. I've heard from more than one person that to run Leadville in 30 hours one should be able to run a sub 4 hour marathon. One woman I spoke with believes this is key to beating the cut offs.

To stay healthy I will make sure to take a day off each week. I'm not so good at this. I enjoy running every day. I've been very lucky that I have not suffered an injury. I'll try to remember that I need to recover.

Stretching..for 5 months last year I hired Lisa Smith to help me train for the 4 100's I ran last summer. Among other things, Lisa taught me the value of stretching. Every day, for 10 minutes, I began to stretch. I didn't like it at first. I set my watch and would stretch, mumbling to Lisa under my breath. Eventually it became a habit, I now enjoy stretching.

For 2008 I will maintain my weight loss. To do this I need to stay away from sugar and processed carbs. At times this is difficult, but necessary.

I look at 2008 and don't know what the hell it will hold for me. This past week I have felt like crawling into a bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme. Yum. I did not. I never would again, but I do feel like that now and again.

Yesterday I went to the Dr. for my 6 month pap and the first of many 6 month cancer screenings that I have become accustomed too. I had blood tests, scheduled pelvic/abdominal ultrasound, went back for a mammogram in the afternoon. Because my Mom's ovarian cancer resurfaced and there still isn't good testing for ovarian cancer, my Dr. is strongly suggesting a total hysterectomy. 6 weeks of recovery. As long as the ultrasound that I am scheduled for comes back negative it does not have to be done as soon as possible. I can schedule it out. I think I will have her refer me to Mayo as my Mom's surgeon believes she wouldn't have had the second occurrence nor the second surgery had she attended Mayo upon her first occurrence.

So, when to schedule? I told my Dr. I had um, 5 100 mile races to run. She rolled her eyes at me and said she wouldn't lecture me as long as the pelvic ultrasound came back negative. If it doesn't, then I'll have another plan.

She chuckled when she looked at my cholesterol level and blood pressure. She told me she recalled when she had to tell me that my cholesterol level was too high (230) and that now it is better than she ever imagined (145). She told me that she is no longer concerned about my blood pressure (100/60), but clicked on her screen and reminded me of what it once was (160/80). She let me know that my BMI is now 19, that I shouldn't lose more weight..she let me know that last year it was 21. She looked at me and exclaimed "You have really changed since I first examined you, 12 years ago. You have become who I picture when I describe a person of health, wellness and athleticism." I told her that when I first wanted to become a runner, it wasn't just that I wanted to run. I wanted to be a person who lived what I felt was a runners lifestyle. I didn't want to smoke cigarettes any more, I didn't want hangovers any more. I wanted to get up in the morning, to feel good, to run in shorts, to wear a running bra while running down the street because I could. I wanted to be happy with who I was. That is who I wanted to be.

I told her I am now that person. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and she put her arms around me. She told me she was proud of me.

I couldn't tell her about Steve, I didn't want to go there. I told her Thank You and Have a Happy New Year!

I went to work for a few hours and had to go back to the clinic for a mammogram. As I left the radiologist, I told her "I was just told I need to have a hysterectomy, so please don't tell me I have breast cancer after you read these ex rays" She said "well, bad news comes in threes". I wanted to ask : does a DWI, a totaled out truck, loss of wages, a huge financial expense count as 1? I didn't go into my life story. I just smiled and said Thank You and Have A Happy New Year!

It's interesting. At the end of the summer I wrote into my journal : "As I have to go back to work next week, I can't help but think that things won't be the same next summer. I had a wonderful summer with the boys. We hung out for 8 weeks and I never tired of them, we never got on one an other's nerves. We hung out at the pool, they had their friends over, we had a wonderful time. I ran many miles, ran many races, enjoyed each and every day of my summer vacation. I don't know why I feel that it won't be this way next year. It feels like something is going to change. It feels as though my life isn't going to be the same, as I know it now. It feels like this is the last summer as I know it."

I did know at that time that my Mom's cancer had come back, I thought maybe I felt something would happen to her, I thought maybe something would happen to Topaz, I felt a foreboding. I didn't know that the referendum would fail, that budget cuts would be put in place. That I could lose my job.

Who knows..2008 could bring a loss of employment, an ending to a 24 year marriage and surgery. Or, it could bring a new, more rewarding career, a stronger marriage and I suppose, surgery either way.

I'm not one to wallow in the negatives, some call me overly optimistic, living in a dream world.

I say 2008..Bring it On. Bigger and Better than Ever.