Friday, August 29, 2008

Superior Sawtooth 102.5 One Week From Today :)

This morning as I was running on my treadmill before work I realized "wow, one week from today I'll be running the SHT, sweet!" not "oh my god. one week from today and I'll be running the Superior Sawtooth 102.5" with that pain in the stomach feeling paralyzing me. Oh, that is fear. I'm not afraid! I notice a definite shift of feelings when I am running a race that I am familiar with, and have finished, rather than a race where I am unfamiliar with the course and have not yet finished.

The Superior Sawtooth is a home course; a home race. However last year I was still quite nervous as I had DNF'd at 77 miles the year prior (2006 report). I knew the course, but wasn't sure that I could tackle the mileage. Now I know that my body can hold up to the toughness of the course..it is the most difficult course that I have run upon..I know that 38 hours is adequate for me to cover the course (I ran it in a l o n g 35:35 last year 2007 report)mentally, this is a huge lift going into the race for me. I'm such a baby. I fret over the unknown. Always. Anything can happen in 38 hours. No matter how many times the same race is run, an injury, stomach upset or weather can be catastrophic and can end the race so quickly. I'm certainly hoping for the best. My first goal is of course to finish, but I'd love to PR too. 32 hours would be super sweet.

This week I've been running with Topaz on the trail after work, on the treadmill before work, getting used to my new schedule. A few weight lifting sessions and stair stepping sessions. I rode my bike into work and home each day. I'm baking in my 'too much' spare time. We're going to the cabin in the morning for the last long holiday of summer and I've baked three different types of brownies to bring along. Good grief. The less I eat the more I bake. The less I run the more I bake. What's up with this? I don't know. I love to bake and it seems as though I'm leaning toward sugary desserts. What a surprise.

I just unpacked my dropbags this week from Leadville 100 and now I will repack for Superior this next week. In the past packing dropbags has always stressed me out. This time, I don't feel stressed. Maybe because I realize it isn't worth the effort of becoming stressed. Who needs it? After work on Thursday I'll head to Two Harbors for the packet pick up fun and then on Friday..one week from right now..party time !!

Have a great long weekend..I'll be enjoying a few short runs with Topaz on the Lake Vermilion shoreline :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

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It is Tuesday! Tuesday with Dorie Recipe

Another terrific Tuesday means another terrific Dorie Greenspan recipe from the book Baking: From My Home To Yours.

Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

Very very simple to create and oh so good! I made this on Sunday for dessert. My nephew was over for dinner and all he ate was three slices of my homemade hot from the oven bread and two pieces of Dorie's Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte. I can't say I blame him.

I have never made a ganache before. This was fabulous. Premium bittersweet chocolate, sugar, eggs and butter..how easy and wonderful; between layers of premium vanilla ice cream blended with fresh strawberries . I subbed the raspberries for strawberries as I have quarts and quarts of frozen strawberries that I had picked earlier this summer and my raspberry supply is getting low.

Of course, instead of creating in an 8" I opted for a 9x13 cake pan and doubled the recipe. An 8" would last this family for one dessert. I want it to last two, at least.

This one received raves; all family members loved it. Click on the Dorie box on the side bar to be directed to other Dorie Bakers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Power of Positive Thinking

This has been a fabulous weekend. It has felt really good to be back home. I missed home!

Yesterday Topaz and I went out for our first long run since I left. He stayed with Grandma and Grandpa at the cabin on Lake Vermilion while we were on vacation. He had a wonderful time. Grandma took him for plenty of walks and Grandpa allowed him to sit in his lap and give him kisses. But oh, how he missed me. We've been running 5-8 miles each day, but it just isn't the same as the fun longer run.

I slept in until 6 when I heard the thump thump thump of Topaz's tail against my mattress. I pulled on my running clothes, filled bottles with water for Topaz, Heed for me, and off we went to the Blue Hill Trail.

The deer flies were gone! What a relief! We pranced and frolicked through the woods, no DEET, no swatting of flies, no rolling on the ground trying to get away from them! Sweet.

All but one of the ponds are now dry. I carried two bottles of water for Topaz and 1 for me. He drank every few miles and soaked good and long in the one available pond. I ran out of Heed before he ran out of water.

As we were running past an old oak tree two pilieated woodpeckers flew out at us. They began to circle around us, making their loud shrill tune. I don't know if they had baby birds in that tree or if we were just interrupting their feeding time but they were not happy with us there.

30 miles later and it was time to head home.

I met Bonnie and Marie for lunch at Benihana post run. Great way to re-fuel! We ate and caught up with one another. I meet Bonnie and Marie each month for lunch, otherwise time goes by too quickly and months will go past before we catch up. I congratulated Bonnie on becoming Grandma and Marie on finishing her triathlon last week. Good stuff! Bonnie and I ran our first 50 mile race together at Ice Age; where Marie ran the 50K. We all ran the Voyaguer 50 together..Marie's first 50 and number 2 for Bonnie and I. We've been good friends since.

The three of us will be running Twin Cities Marathon in October. Good fun.

The Benihana fueled me so well I was ready for more today. I didn't intend on going long, but it was cool, and it just felt so good.

30 miles. Nothing like back to back 30's that feels like a walk in the park. I thought I'd be recovering from Leadville this week, but the 60.5 didn't take anything out of me, darnet! I saved too much. Saved too much and was never able to expend it on the trail.

I went to the gym this afternoon and was able to do 50 chin ups AFTER I worked back and shoulders! Usually I have to do the chin ups first or I can only squeeze out 20. Nobody was there, so I just kept at it. 5 sets of 10.

This next week will be time at the gym, a few stair stepping sessions, 5-7 miles each day with Topaz. Next weekend we'll go to the cabin on Vermilion and the weekend after..

Superior Sawtooth 100 is up in 2 weeks. I love the Superior Hiking Trail. The Superior races are fantastic. I can't wait. This year I am not afraid, not tense, not cringing with fear and anticipation. I'm just enjoying it all. I'm looking forward to spending some time (alot of time) on the trail, meeting some new people and sharing time with old friends. It truly is a party on the trail.

I went back to work on Wednesday. Instead of depressing myself with thoughts of "oh my gosh, in 14 days I have to go back to work; oh my gosh, in 13 days I have to go back to work, oh my gosh, in 12 days I have to go back to work" and fretting over it, I have finally changed my thinking. Tuesday I thought "boy, I sure have enjoyed this summer vacation. I am so happy I have a job where I can have 8 weeks off" it made going back to work so much nicer. I like my job, I like the people I work with; I don't know why I've cringed each fall when I've had to go back for the past 5 years! Crazy.

I've just picked cucumbers, tomato, potato, carrot, onion and peppers from the garden. They are sliced on the grill with chicken and corn on the cob. I've created another fantastic Dorie Dessert that is in the freezer and two loaves of bread are almost done in the oven.

I'm hungry!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Stop: Badlands

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The Badlands

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Buffalo-Custer

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Mt. Rushmore

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Rushmore Cave

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WILD BURRO! Too Close!

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Hot Tubbin'

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Our View from the B&B

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SNOW in August!

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Home Sweet Home!

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Road Trip Vacation

When Steve and the boys let me know that they were up for a trip out west for the Leadville Trail 100 I was SO excited! They had never witnessed a 100 mile race of mine before. I have finished 9 of them and each one has been during the school year, when I haven't wanted to take the boys out, or during baseball tournaments, when they didn't want to miss out.

I began to make arrangements for Topaz and our other pets. I began to look for accommodations and plan our trip.

The boys hadn't seen The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, The Black Hills, Custer State Park..any of that good stuff that Steve and I have seen numerous times so that was to be our first stop.

Our trip was wonderful. I wasn't sure how the boys would get along being in the back seat of my CR-V for so long, they were great! I packed a bunch of word finder books, crosswords, sudoku, they had their books to read, etc.

The trip to SD was uneventful. Lots of farms and rolling hills. No change of scenery until we arrived The Badlands. The boys were blown away. I had tried to describe to them what The Badlands looked like, but I guess I didn't do a very good job.

We went into the park and hiked for hours. We climbed the crazy odd rock formations, played hide and seek, found cactus, spied prairie dogs..we really had a great time. It felt so good to get out of the car and move around.

From The Badlands we arrived Rapid City. We stayed at a hotel with a water park. Perfect! We swam, slide and had a blast. By 10 PM we were all sleeping.

Day 2 we visited Custer State Park. We saw wild burros, buffalo, antelope, deer and all kinds of other wildlife. It was beautiful. We hiked Harney Peak, the boys and Steve hiked up to 7560 ft with no problem. We were later doused in a hail storm.

Day 3 was Mt. Rushmore Monument-they were luke warm about this. Liked to see the stonework, but there isn't much else to see. We went back to Custer Park for a picnic, more hiking, more wildlife viewing, drove Needles Highway to Lake Sylvan, more beautiful scenery. We ended the day with Reptile Gardens. Troy has two box turtles and was able to see many different varieties of turtles, we watched a bird of prey show, a snake show, good stuff.

Day 4 we headed to Colorado. We arrived to Leadville in the early evening and made our way to our B&B off of Twin Lakes. Gorgeous views of Twin Lakes, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive. Amazing.

Day 5 we hiked up Hope Pass. Well, I made it up to Hope Pass; Steve and the boys made it about 800 feet before they were gasping. They went back down to the trail head and hiked at 11000 ft while I went up and over. It was so beautiful. High snow covered peaks, beautiful blue skies, a light breeze, temps in the 70's, just perfect :) I fell in love with Colorado.
We hiked the Colorado Trail around Twin Lakes and had dinner in Leadville at an incredible little Italian restaurant that began with a Z.

The next few days we visited different sections of the Leadville Trail 100 Race Course. We did lots of hiking, visiting Leadville establishments, race check in and dinner, we really had a great vacation.

After the race I picked up my drop bags and we headed back to SD. We again stayed at the hotel with the water park. Swam, slide, dove and were again in bed by 1000. The next morning we left for home.

Our road trip vacation went better than I ever expected. Steve and I got along great, the boys didn't fight. Actually, the boys became even better friends. They had too, each other is all they had! There was no TV at the B&B and nobody even missed it. We were so busy enjoying Colorado, although I did wonder time to time what was going on in the Olympics and with our MN Twins.

If you are thinking about taking your family to see the sights of SD and on west, go for it. If I hadn't had the race, we would have kept putting this off. I'm so glad we went. It was a real treat.

Who knows..they might all come along with me next year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Granola Grabbers

We just arrived home last night after a 10 day vacation to SD onto CO. It was wonderful. I'll post more about that in the days to come. As I was vacationing I was wondering what I would be baking up upon my return home for our Tuesday With Dorie recipe.

Granola Grabbers were on the menu, courtesy of Michelle. I had to grocery shop anyway as our cupboards were as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's.

I just pulled the Grabbers from the oven and they look very good, rustic, hardy is how I would describe them. Very easy to make and bake. I subbed the raisins for chocolate chips, I couldn't resist. Michelle will have the recipe posted on her blog if you would like to see there, or pull out your Dorie recipe book..it is on page 82. Thanks, Michelle!

I love creating different recipies. I tend to get into a rut, baking the same old same old, over and over. I've am enjoying these new recipies very very much!

Tuesday With Dorie: Granola Grabbers

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Running Up A Mountain

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The Bergs; Twin Lakes Outbound :)

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The Llamas!

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I get all teary eyed seeing this again, I loved it. Hopeless Aid Station. 12640 Feet Elevation

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Up The Powerlines; In The Hail

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MN Leadville Runners

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LEADVILLE TRAIL 100: MY GREATEST CHALLENGE, THUS FAR

The Good: No blisters, no injury, no Advil necessary, no problem with altitude, strong legs on the climbs, felt good and an incredibly wonderful 10 day vacation with my family

The Bad: I was timed out on the outbound Twin Lakes aid station. I was 17:45 hours into the race and needed to be at Twin Lakes in 16:45. I was finished with the LT 100.

The Ugly: Nothing Baby! I learned so much about the race, about the trail, I know what I need to do to finish. Run faster! It's an awesome incredible wonderful beautiful rugged challenge and oh baby, I will try you again :)

Yeah. The mystique, the ruggedness, the awe that I have always felt and pictured when one told me they were running the Leadville Trail 100. When I began running I never believed I'd run a marathon, I then ran marathons, I never believed I'd run a 100, I ran 100's. Even after running a half dozen 100's, I said I would never try Leadville Trail 100. Why would one try when there was only a 40-50% finish rate? Why would one try when there are such climatic variables, why would one try when one has to climb a 12640 foot mountain two times, why would I try when I am a Midwesterner who has never run in the mountains and didn't know what altitude would do?

Well, those reasons are exactly why I decided to run the Leadville Trail 100. Out of my comfort zone, oh yeah! Somewhere along the line I began to think about Leadville and about training for it, I began to talk to others that have tried Leadville, some have finished, some hadn't. Most keep on trying. Why? I wasn't sure why they kept on going out to Leadville, year after year, try after try. Even as I was running the last part of my race, I was wondering why they keep on trying. Now I know. Because it is Leadville. Because it is stretching your limits, out of your comfort zone, it is intense, it's tough, it's fast. It is beautiful.

I'll write a separate post about our fabulous vacation. This post is all about the race. Maybe nobody is interested in reading a post about a DNF. I always read the DNF race reports because I am able to learn about the race, about the person writing the report. I will write for that reason, for those that may be interested. Also, I'd like an account of the race for myself, for the future.

The pre race briefing was amazing. We were told that we are stronger than we think we are, better than we think we are. We were told that some of us only had a prayer to finish. We were told to dig into the well of strength that each of has, and pull from that well, pull from that well and keep going forward. Keep moving. I had tears in my eyes. This speaker should be a minister, I thought.

The Dr. began to speak. What I remember most is he told the men NOT to take Viagra for the altitude sickness. He said "otherwise I'll have a bunch of men up on Hope Pass with dehydration issues and tents in their shorts. I don't want to deal with that!" It was hilarious. He told the women that if we didn't dress warm and we became hypothermic that he would put us in a sleeping bag with two big hairy men to warm us up and that there would be a line of big hairy men awaiting their turn. Lots of laughs.

The pre race dinner was free and fabulous. Spaghetti, meatballs, cakes, veggies, salad, fruit for family, friends, crew and pacers. Amazing.

The talk was all about the weather. Hail, thunderstorms, snow, rain, high winds, lightening and cold temperatures. It was all forecast and oh yeah, we saw all of that.

300 AM Saturday morning. I'm dressed, my pack is full, my drop bags are at the aid stations. I'm ready. I didn't want Steve to have to drive me to the start so I hung out in the lobby of the hotel the night before and confirmed a ride at 300 with 'Ethel'. At 310 I still hadn't seen Ethel. Oh boy. Luckily, Tanya and Mike Siltman, from IL came by. I have met both Tanya and Mike through McNaughton. Mike ran the 150 this past April. I told them my predicament and they offered me a ride. I accepted and Tanya brought us to the start line. Thank you!!

It was raining, it was cold. I wore long pants with shorts underneath. Shorts that I never uncovered. I had on a short sleeved top, a long sleeved top, a windbreaker. Hat and mittens were in my pack. More long pants and long tops with gloves, mittens and more jackets were in each and every one of the 5 drop bags. I was not going to drop due to being cold! Being from Minnesota, I could not let that happen.

We counted down the last 10 seconds and the gun shot off. Off we went! Tears began to run down my cheeks. I was really doing it. I was toeing the line at the Leadville Trail 100. I couldn't believe it. I would have never imagined I would have been here. Leadville.

Start to May Queen: I wanted to run a 28:30 pace; that was my ultimate finish goal, however, 29:59:59 and I was thrilled as well. We began right in downtown Leadville, on the corner of the main street; 6th and Harrison. I trotted along the street, taking in the conversation around me and thinking about what I was doing. What would happen within the next 30 hours? How was I going to feel, what was the weather, the altitude, the climbing going to do to me? After we ran the pavement for a while we turned off and picked up a dirt road. I heard "Julie, Julie Berg" I was stunned. It was dark, so I couldn't see anyone. I thought I was imagining something. Who would have called out my name? I just kept on running. Pretty soon I heard it again. "Julie, Julie Berg" this time it was closer to me. I turned and said "Yes, I'm Julie Berg". Here it was Paul Hasse! We ran together for a while, talking about our training and the week leading upto the race. Eventually he had to stop to make a few adjustments and I ran into Greg Allen. We talked some and I had to make a potty stop. I never again saw Greg until the 50 mile mark. I did run again with Paul H a few times.

The dirt road turned up to a powerline. It was a steep climb, but not too long, then we were on the Turquoise Lake trail, following around the lake. It reminded me a bit of the Superior Hiking Trail. There were some rocks and roots, it was pretty. I was breathing fine, I wasn't gasping. I was able to run quite well so far.

It began to pour. A real downpour. I pulled my poncho from my pack and put it over my windbreaker. I would begin to get warm and have to remove it, then it would begin to downpour again. Pretty soon it was hailing. Ouch ouch ouch. Big ice chunks falling from the sky.

13.5 miles from the start and I was into the May Queen aid station. Oh my gosh I was soaked to the bone! I found my drop bag and grabbed a dry jacket, why I don't know, it just became drenched again anyway. I put away my handheld as it was now daylight, I mixed up 3 bottles of Heed and grabbed more gels. It took me for flipping ever getting situated. I gave my drop bag off and headed off. I saw Linda Dallman here, crewing for Ed. It was nice to see a friendly familiar face! I was on a 28:30 pace and was absolutely thrilled. I was loving this.

May Queen to Fish Hatchery: Fish Hatchery was mile 23 .5 We continued along Turquoise Lake Road and ran on pavement for a while, eventually following the Colorado Trail. It was a beautiful trail. Heavy woods, rocks, lots of climbing. We went to the top of Sugar Loaf Pass at 11000 feet. What an experience! My legs felt strong, those hill repeats at Hyland were paying off. No pain, no tiredness. I felt so happy and strong. I was surprised I felt happy as the rain was pouring down on me. I love to run in the sun. I was just thrilled to be here, running the Leadville Trail 100. I still couldn't quite believe it. Pretty soon I was climbing a powerline. A super long climb, exposed, in a thunderstorm. The hail was pelting me, the wind was blowing, the thunder booming and the lightening was striking. It began to worry me.

I saw Paul Hasse here again and ran with him for quite some time. He was worried about being so cold. Paul likes Badwater and FANS, enjoys heat and the pavement. He told me that he runs Leadville because it is so far out of his comfort zone. I totally understand that now. Paul is an incredible runner. He has finished Badwater in the low 40's and won FANS before. While we were running he told me he was 1 for 3 on Leadville finishes.

Eventually I ran ahead and caught Al Holtz and John Taylor. Al was all business, getting this run on. He did too. Al finished in 29:39. Al rocks. More to come on that later. I ran along with John for quite some time, we always have great conversations. I didn't like the lightening hitting the powerline near me. John stated that since the powerline was taller than I, I needn't worry. OK.

The downhill here was sweet. Down down down forever and a day. I was able to run hard and fast. It felt great. I was just thrilled, flying through the rain, the hail, smiling at the horrendous weather because I was feeling super. John and I came into Fish Hatchery on a 28:30 pace. As we were coming in I saw Al going out.

One of the many things I enjoyed during this race was that the volunteers had our drop bags ready at most of the aid stations. John and I came into Fish Hatchery and a volunteer looked at our number, handed us our bag. Awesome! I told John that my shirt felt tight. I told him maybe I had shrunk it while I washed it last. I took off my shirt and noticed big gouges in my arm from where it was too tight. I couldn't believe it. I noticed I was swelling quite badly. More than usual, all of the way to my elbows. I wondered if the shirt was too tight or if I was swelling too much. I quickly changed shirts and gave my drop bag back. Grabbed some food and headed on out.

Fish Hatchery to Halfmoon: The rain was beginning to lighten up a bit and the mountains were coming into view. I was shocked when I could finally see the tops of the mountains and they were covered in a new coat of snow! I couldn't believe it. Wow, new snow on those beautiful mountains. I love Colorado! This section was ALL ROAD. I was surprised when Steve, the boys and I drove the course and there was so much road. A large section of this is pavement and a large section is dirt road. I was still feeling great, eating, drinking, peeing, all things were a go. I was just running along, taking in the views, enjoying life. I was so happy to be here. To be running this race. To be in Colorado and all of it's beauty. I was thinking about Steve and the boys, looking forward to seeing them at Halfmoon and Twin Lakes.

I began to run up ahead of John, up through the Halfmoon Campground. I knew this part of the route as we had just driven it the day before. I noticed many people were walking this section, even though it seemed level and I thought it was runnable. I wondered if they were saving their legs for later or why they were walking. It's difficult to gauge when you haven't run a race before as to how to run/walk it. Everyone told me to begin out slow and go slower. Don't go too fast, don't burn out, save it for Hope Pass. How much do you save though? What if you save too much? What if you go to slow? Hmmm..good questions.

I ran most of this section, but I didn't run it very hard. I was breathing fine, the altitude didn't bother me. I could have run this section harder, but didn't know if I should. I KNOW NOW. I SHOULD HAVE RUN THIS SECTION HARDER!

I came into Halfmoon and saw that I had lost some time. Shit. I was on 29 pace now, I lost a half hour. Dang. I should have followed my instinct and ran that road section harder. A wonderful aid station volunteer made me a ham sandwich and I grabbed half of a pear, had my drop bag and grabbed some more gels, mixed up some Heed and was out of there. I couldn't believe I let myself lose 30 minutes.

Halfmoon to Twin Lakes: After leaving Halfmoon Campground I turned onto the Colorado Trail, right near the Mt. Elbert/Mt. Massive trail head. This was a beautiful section. No road. The trail is intersected with many other trails, I was sure to follow the pink and black ribbons. The rain had stopped and I was able to again remove my poncho and jacket. I felt like a pack mule with my pack, a jacket, a shirt and a poncho all tied onto my waist. I would be pulling them all back on shortly! As I was climbing up this tough climb I came across Paul . Paul had run this last year and timed out at 70 miles. He was here to give it a go again. I had to take a breather on this climb, I went to the side and Paul led up the mountain. Man, it was a steep one. My legs felt good, my breathing was labored, but that was to be expected. I was feeling great. My spirits were high, I was really having a blast.

Pretty soon it began to thunder, lightening and pour. Downpour. More hail. I stopped to remove my pack and pull all of my layers back on. I tried to do this while climbing, but it was futile. I had to stop to get everything back on. Eventually the climb turned into a fabulous downhill. I was passing people on this section. I wanted to ask if they had run and finished this race before, if they thought we were making good time, etc. I kept my worries to myself. I really didn't believe that the 50 mile cut off should be 14 hours. It seemed to me that if it took 14 hours to get to Winfield, a person would have a tough time getting to Twin Lakes in 3:45. My inkling was dead on, unfortunately. But you know, I wouldn't have known this had I not run the race first.

I came upon Beth Simpson-Hall. I had been talking to Beth all summer about Leadville. She was having a hard time, her foot was bothering her again and she said this was her slowest in the 3 finishes she has. This worried me. We came upon a big downhill, all the way into Twin Lakes and we ran it. Beth had to make a stop, so I kept on going, as fast as I could, into Twin Lakes. I knew Steve and the boys would be here. As I was running down the mountain the rain stopped. The sun began to shine. I let out a yahoo and began to cheer. SUN and family and a downhill all at the same time. Life was good!!

As I turned the corner I saw Steve, Tyler and Troy. They were smiling and cheering and jumping up and down. They haven't been to one of my 100's yet. This could have been my 10th 100 finish! It was wonderful to see them. They were wet, waiting for me. I had told them I should be at Twin Lakes at 1230 and damnet, it was 120. They came into the pole building with me, collected my drop bag and food. I had Tyler smash another dry jacket into my pack. I knew it would become cold up there. We went out into the sunshine and I told them about my race. I was feeling good, I told them that if it was raining they didn't need to come and wait for me at Twin Lakes again at 900. I had originally wanted to be back here by 8 but I had lost more time! Damn. I was a full hour behind my 2830 hour time.

Twin Lakes to Winfield: Now I was going off to the highest , toughest portion of the race. I would be climbing Hope Pass. 12640 feet elevation. Two times. I began to run across the grassy section, it wasn't as wet as I had read that it would be. Eventually I came across the river. There was a rope to help me get across. The water was mid thigh high, maybe just above. It was cold! The man at the river told me it was 34 degrees. I believed it. It actually felt good as I came out of the water. I didn't have any blisters or foot pain, leg pain, I was feeling great. The cool water soothed any tiredness away. As I came out of the river I recognized a woman from Ultrarunning magazine. I heard someone call her Michelle. I realized it was Michelle Barton, winner of numerous races out West. I asked her how she was doing, if she had run Leadville before. She told me she wasn't having any fun, she didn't like the race and wouldn't be running it again. I felt badly for her, as the toughest part was coming up, she knew this too and she wasn't looking forward to it. As I neared Hope Pass I took deep breaths, I knew what was coming.

The climb began. Up up up. The sun was still out. I removed all of my layers and tied them back onto my waist. The climb and the sun and all of my muscles doing their job was causing a great deal of sweat to roll off of my body. I was soaked with sweat. I was glad I had clothes at Winfield.. I didn't want to cross over again with wet sweaty clothes and become chilled in the evening. This was tough. I had to stop a few times to take a breather. I thought I heard a bit of wheezing in my lungs, then I realized it was a bird. I think it was a bird. My lungs didn't burn, I didn't feel dizzy, I was working though. Moving ahead, one foot at a time. Climbing up Hope Pass is when I saw the front runners coming down. Man, they had already climbed Hope, into Winfield and back over Hope again! Amazing! As I was climbing up, every so slowly, I was telling each guy that came by 'good job' , way to go' etc. when someone said "Julie Berg, from Minnesota!" I was stunned. This was from one of the men in the front pack. I said "Yeah, it's Julie Berg" and resumed my climb. I was anxious to look in the results to see who in the world may know me, who was running in the front pack. Now that I have looked at the results, my guess it that it was Paul Stofko? If so, congratulations on yet another fine finish Paul!

I continued to climb climb climb, even passing quite a few people, when finally I came upon the summit. I could see the llamas! It was a beautiful sight. The sweeping mountains, the blue, yes, now blue sky, the snow, the top. Amen. I quickly filled my bottles and got out of Hopless Aid Station. There was still climbing! I was hoping I was going down now, but oh now, lots more climbing to do. Up up up I went. on a narrow, exposed pathway that was overlooking beauty. I couldn't take my eyes off of the views. Pretty soon traffic was becoming thick as the front runners were coming back. I wanted to be with them! I was wondering how long it was going to take me to get into Winfield. I knew the cut off was 14 hours, but it just didn't seem right. It just didn't seem like if I was at Winfield in 14 that I could make it back to Twin Lakes in 345. I just kept moving on.

Finally I began the downhill. I ran it as fast as I could. It was difficult because the traffic was becoming thick. Many of the front runners would actually step aside and let me run by, I thanked them over and over when they did this. I usually stepped aside for them, so I really appreciated it when they did so for me. Pretty soon I was in an area that I recognized. I had hiked up Hope a few days earlier and was now where I had hiked to. I knew the trail would end soon. I continued down, as fast as I could. My knees felt good, my body was holding together, my mind was in the game, but damn, was I going to have enough time???? I saw Kurt Decker, with Sonja pacing him back, I saw Larry Hall going back, I just kept on running as fast as I could downhill. I was hoping that I would make it to Winfield SOON. I couldn't believe how long it was taking me. Too damn long.

I was worried about my fingers and arms. I was really swollen. I had been drinking Heed, eating, peeing, I didn't know what the cause for the excessive swelling was. Oh lord. Finally, I was down to the road into Winfield. I knew I had a few miles to the turn around. It was already 520 PM, I had to be there by 600 to continue. How did this happen? How did I lose so much time? Hello, because you ran to fricken slow!! So run run run run run. I did. I ran as fast as I could. Of course most of it was uphill. Crap. What if I didn't make it to Winfield and they pulled me and I felt so good.I saved too much. I needed to have moved more quickly.

I saw Al Holtz coming out of Winfield. It was 530. I said GO AL, GO GET THAT BUCKLE! He told me it would be tough. Shit. It it is tough for him and he is already heading back out what it is for me? Impossible. No, don't think like that. I continued on, running up the dirt road, uphill, at 10000 feet elevation. Finally, into the aid station at 545. Only 15 minutes cushion.

It really wasn't a cushion though.How could I possible get back to Twin Lakes in 345? I couldn't. I knew I couldn't. It took me just over 4 to get here, and in the dark, with 50 miles in, how could I go faster? As I came into the aid station I saw Joel and Pete go out. They asked if I was going to continue. I said I was going to check in with medical, and then I would. My swelling was worrying me a bit.

I went into medical and the nurse stated that the swelling was bothersome, but it didn't seem to be pulmonary edema as I was able to breathe and my heart sounded good. She told me I was clear to continue. I couldn't close my hands, but that has happened before. The swelling has just never gone all of the way into my elbows before. OK. I grabbed a cup of Ramen noodles, and there was a boiled potato in the bottom! I ate it up and was going through my drop bag. I had a sad moment. I knew I couldn't make it to Twin Lakes in 345. It finally dawned on my that my race may be over. This was it. I might as well stop here because I was only 15 minutes under the cut off. Why bother? Pretty soon I heard a bunch of commotion. "Hurry up, you only have 3 minutes, what do you need, get some food, get your bag, get out of here...hurry!" I was like, what the hell is all of that about? Here I look up and they are all yelling at John Taylor! Telling him to hurry, get out of here. I asked him if he was going on. He said matter of factly "YES". I said even though we can't make it back to Twin Lakes in time. He said he came to run as long as he could, if they would give him 10 more miles, he was taking it. I felt kind of like a fool, that I was actually thiking about not going back out. OK, I'm in. Even if we can't make it back to Twin Lakes in 345, I'll get a 60 mile training run in for Superior Sawtooth in three weeks, instead of 50. Plus I get to climb over Hope again and see the llamas.

Winfield back to Twin Lakes

I told John I'd head out and see him soon. I headed out of Winfield, feeling sad that I didn't think I could make the next cut off, well, I knew I couldn't, feeling sad that my race was over, really. Feeling sad that I had trained so hard for this, what more could I do? Would I try this again? What would I do differently? I had to run faster. Plain and simple. Run faster. Speed work. The hill work worked wonders. My legs weren't sore from climbing or the downhill, they were just too slow. I have become faster the past few years from running more miles and becoming leaner, but I really don't do any speed work other than some intervals, some repeats. I could definately improve my speed. As these thoughts were going through my brain, I saw Paul Hasse and Greg Allen coming up the road. They were over the time limit for Winfield. I felt foolish for going back out and asked them if they thought I should even continue. Paul said hey, if you can still run, you should try. I told him I could run just fine. Pretty soon I saw Paul and then Mike, they were done, too. Beth Simpson-Hall was coming up the road, she wished me good luck and said she may see me at Twin Lakes, as she would be crewing Larry.

John caught up and I began to sway back and forth upon whether I should continue or not. Maybe it was stupid. Maybe I couldn't climb Hope again. Maybe it would be too hard. God, he probably wanted to tell me to just shut up and run, woman! We came upon the Sheep Gulch, upto Hope Pass and I started all over again. Maybe I shouldn't do this. All of my doubts were coming forward. A gal in back of me was looking for her runner, she said she was a pacer, she would help me up to Hope as she was looking for her runner. OK. Let's go. She prodded my forward as I climbed ever so slowly. We stopped now and then for a drink, then began to climb. Pretty soon climbing forward began automatic. I came to realize that I wanted this 10 miles. I wanted to climb back over Hope. I wanted to come back into Twin Lakes. Even though I probably wasn't going to make the 345 into Twin Lakes, I was going to do what I could. If they were going to let me squeek out a few more hours on this beautiful Colorado mountain, I was going to do it.

John and I trudged up the mountain, sharing stories, sharing weariness. As we finally reached the top we realized a cold wind was upon us. We took off our packs to get our mittens, hat, our lights and more jackets. Then John realized we should run down 10 feet to get out of the wind! We were spent from climbing that mountain the second time and it took a few minutes to realize we could get out of the cold wind just by lowering ourselves down the trail a few feet. We dressed and put on our lights and continued on. Pretty soon we could feel snowflakes upon us. It was cold! We came into Hopeless Aid station, filled our bottles and continued on. I knew the race was over for me, but I didn't feel a loser. I felt like I had done all that I could. I now knew that 14 hours wasn't a good time to come into Winfield, there was no way I could get back to Twin Lakes in 345. No Way. I needed to be in Winfield in 1230 hours, maximum, to get back to Twin Lakes by 945 PM. Now I knew. I didn't know that before, I don't know if it would have made a difference.

John and I continued down the mountain when a woman and two of her children passed. They were volunteers at Hope Pass and she was heading to Twin Lakes so that she could pace a friend from May Queen to the finish. Man all I could think is that I wish I were able to run May Queen to the finish. John suggested we pace some runners in! Hey, we'd be able to run more..good idea! We just need to find some runners that need pacers :)

We ran down the mountain, trudged through the cold river, onto the road bringing us into the Twin Lakes aid station. John stumbled into the aid station asking "Did we make it? Did we make it?" We thought it was hilarious, we knew we didn't make it. The poor volunteers didn't know what to say! The woman came and said, "Um, no, you didn't make it, I need to clip off your wrist bands" We explained that we knew we weren't going to make it, but that we wanted to continue for as long as we could. We truly did.

Two other runners came in after us. Luckily for us, a man from PA had his wife meet him here, so he drove me to the wonderful Bed and Breakfast in the pouring rain, where my family was. He would take John to Leadville.

It was pouring out so hard. I couldn't see where I was going to find the door! Eventually I found the door to our suite. I knocked, it was 1130PM. I quietly said "It's me, I'm done". Steve came to the door and ushered me in. Gave me a big hug and said "It's OK" I told him I timed out at Twin Lakes and gave him a quick overview of the race. I took a hot shower and climbed into bed.

This isn't how I wanted it to end. I wanted to be a Leadville Trail 100 Finisher. I wanted to still be out there running. I didn't want to be in bed. I wanted to come back to Minnesota with my buckle, the beautiful Leadville pendant, the glow that comes with a finish.

Sunday morning we went into Leadville to pick up my drop bags. It was 945 AM. 15 minutes left of the race. As we were pulling into the courthouse, where the drop bags were I saw Al Holtz. I told Steve to stop the car, I'm getting out. Meet me here in a bit. I ran up to Al. He had a finisher medal upon his neck. I hugged and cried tears of happiness for him. He was looking for his bags, I helped him to find them, but one was missing. Al did it. He finished in 29:39 or so. Tough Al. I'm in awe of him. Really. Al is the ONE out of TWELVE Minnesotan's to have finished the race. Cheers to you, Al.

I watched the final finisher come in. We were yelling, run run run run! The speaker said "45 seconds left, you have it if you don't fall. Don't fall!" Two little boys were pulling her hands forward, someone was pushing her from the back, she was going to make it. She made it! 15 seconds to go and she finished the race. I went up to her and congratulated her. I told her she inspired me and I was in awe of her. She told me she had a lot of help and couldn't have done it on her own. I told her she was my hero. We began to cry and just stood there, holding one another. What a race.

As I think back on the race, I can only smile. I don't feel badly about timing out. I don't know why. I am not beating myself up, I don't know why. I know I gave it what I had. I had trained well, I rested well, I didn't hurt myself, I was hydrated, fueled, I did what I could do. It was an incredible experience, an awesome race, it is all that one might think it is.

At breakfast on Sunday morning I told Steve I didn't think I would try Leadville again. I told him I had trained hard and I still couldn't finish in time. I told him I was too slow. I was too slow. He looked at me and said well, that's it. You will run faster. You now know the course, it is familiar to you, you will run it faster. I just blinked at him. Yeah. I will run it faster. Yeah. Leadville Trail 100 2009 Baby. I will run it faster.

I feel excellent. No pain, no aching, just swelling. Topaz and I went out for a five mile run this morning and everything felt fine. Topaz, how I missed him! The week we left he was diagnosed with Lyme's. He is now feeling back to his spunky self and doing fine!

Tomorrow I go back to work. Instead of dreading the day, I'm telling myself I am grateful that I had 8 weeks off. I am.

Today as I was grocery shopping I was just feeling happy. I wondered why. Why are you happy? You didn't finish Leadville. Well, I had an awesome 10 day family vacation and I was able to experience the Leadville Trail 100. Just as I told my running groups: you are a winner for starting your race, you are a winner for stepping out of your comfort zone, you are a winner for trying, you are a winner for being here. I'm finally believing the words I speak to them, to me.

With each race I run, I learn. With each race I run, I grow. I'm happy to have tried, I am happy to have been able to toe the line of the Leadville Trail 100; The Race Across The Sky.

Thank you for all of the emails, the phone calls. I appreciate each and every one of them. I'll post photos soon. Now, I have a ton of laundry to do!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Heading Out For A Little Fun Run

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Foot Potion: Blister Magic :)

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Foot Potion and Coaching

As some of you have already noticed (and THANK YOU for the orders!!), I have decided to offer my super blister magic Foot Potion to you for sale. By clicking on the picture of the Foot Potion on the side bar you will be directed to my Foot Potion/Coaching page.

I swear, blisters have been the bane of my running! They are the only injury - if you call a blister an injury - I have had. They can be debilitating, especially when you are trying to finish a race that you have been training for and a stupid batch of 110 blisters .. or a few ..pop up. It can be the end of the race. Sad, but true.

Once I began mixing up this Foot Potion I no longer had blisters. Amazing. It's white and thick, just like a silicone glove. I use it for chafing on my bra line and other areas, I sometimes spread it upon my feet at night and cover with a light sock while I sleep. It makes my feet nice and healthy :)

Please note: All orders that are confirmed AFTER 5 AM Saturday, August 9 will be shipped upon my return from Leadville on August 18.

Coaching classes: please contact me via email at julberg6@aol.com for availability of all classes and online training as well as any questions you may have. I am offering two in person classes in the fall and I may add another beginning woman's class as it fills quickly.

I am currently studying for the NSCA-CPT so I will have credibility in offering training for strength and conditioning as well. Thank you to my Beginning Woman's Run Group clients for inspiring me to go after the certification.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Black and White Banana Loaf

It's Tuesday! Time to post another Tuesday with Dorie recipe. This Black and White Banana Loaf is much better than my picture looks. It is fabulous! I can't believe how dense, moist and wonderful it is. There is just enough chocolate to blend with the banana flavor. The recipe only makes one loaf, and I wasn't sure if I should double the first time. Since I first baked this last week I have made it 4 more times! It is THAT good!

Many of the TWD bakers said it didn't bake up correctly, it was too heavy, it didn't complete baking in the allotted time. I thought it was fabulous. I'm baking another few today to give to Mom and Dad while they animal sit here while we are on our trip. It is SO tasty!

Check out the Tuesday with Dorie bakers on the side bar to see all of the other Black and White Banana Loaf creations.

Be sure to look at Ashley's loaf, this is what it should look like! Thanks Ashley for choosing this marvelous recipe!

Next week I will be in Colorado and as the recipe is for an ice cream and not everyone has a maker, a "Dorie Rewind Recipe" is allowed. I'll post another one of her creations that I'll put together before I head out to Leadville.

Tuesday With Dorie: Black and White Banana Loaf

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Got Berries?



Let the baking begin! It is raining outside. I have my run in, I've been to the gym, this can only mean that it is a great day to do some baking! Dories Double Crusted Blueberry Pie, Double Crusted Raspberry Pie, Dories Party Cake with Raspberry Filling..Oh Yeah :) Then a bicycle ride with the boys.
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