Saturday, January 31, 2009

The January Thaw That Almost Wasn't

Thank goodness the January Thaw arrived today. Mother Nature may have waited until the very last day, but she finally warmed above freezing for the first time this January!

It's been cold. Downright cold. It's not my imagination either. This is the coldest January in 30 years. We almost didn't have a January Thaw. Until today. My thermometer hit 45 F degrees! I can't even believe the wild swing the temperature took. Yesterday it was -12 F on the way to school. Today a warm springy 45F. Oh yeah.

Topaz and I took to the trail, of course. I left his booties at home and I left the snowshoes in the car as my feet are SO bruised. I couldn't take the snowshoes another day. But then had my snowshoe clients in the afternoon so I bucked up eventually. Since the snowshoe marathon I've been bruised all along the tops of my feet. I haven't taken a day off snowshoe running since then, so they don't heal. They just continue to bruise. This morning instead of snowshoe running I was post holing a bit. It wasn't too bad, I was able to run across the snow most of the way. Through the heavy drifts I would sink up to my knees, then curse and continue on. It felt good to be snowshoe free. We ran 20 miles and took a different trail path down toward the river. New territory, so much fun to explore.

Back home to cook up waffles for the boys. Troy had just awoke, Tyler still snoozing. After a hot shower and cleaning the house I drove the boys to homes of friends and met my snowshoe clients for our afternoon frolic. It has NEVER been in the double digits since we've begun this class. I'm so glad my clients were able to snowshoe in the sunshine and warmth! What a difference it made! Smiles, positive talk, no whining about the cold and wind, we had a great time. I was secretly thinking how happy I'd be when I could run snowshoe free again :)

Hope you all enjoyed today, I don't think it will be 45F here tomorrow!

Oatmeal Toasting Bread



Ready To Ferment

First Rise Complete


Finished Loaves


A Bit Of Baking

Since last July, when my Dad's bread baker went on the fritz and I watched him knead and then bake bread, I decided I wanted to give home baked bread a try. My goodness, about 75 loaves later, I'm still perfecting the loaf. I really enjoy baking bread!

It seems as though we go through more sandwich loaf type bread than anything else. Since I began baking bread Troy has toast each morning instead of his past usual Cocoa Wheats. Steve takes a sandwich to work every day, Tyler likes bread with his dinner and I eat bread once every few weeks as a fabulous sandwich or as my daily carb meal in my 'fortified' french toast recipe. (Bread soaked in 3 egg whites, 1 scoop protein powder, cinnamon, fried in Pam and served with sugar free syrup..oh yeah :)

In a perfect world, both the filling and the bread would be wonderful, but I, for one, would much rather have a so-so filling surrounded by superior bread than the other way around. Bad bread can ruin even the best sandwich, and good bread can make a bad sandwich better.

I have given up grocery store processed flours. I found a great mill in Middle River MN that grinds its organic grains. They ship to Maplewood's Alberts so I venture that way every few months to have my 6 gallon plastic jugs refilled with rye's, golden whites, whole wheats; fantastic. I only use organic ingredients and the loafs are so much tastier..and healthier.

A sandwich shouldn't be the last choice, it shouldn't be something you're forced to eat—it should be something you want to eat.

Organic peanut butter and whole fruit jam makes a marvelous sandwich or a great breakfast upon toast in the morning.

At times I enjoy the whole wheat artisan breads all alone without any toppings. I just want the flavor of the grain, of the yeast in a crusty cover. Yum.

Troy loves a grilled cheese on the white whole grain best. He likes his toast on the organic crusty oatmeal. I like leftover chicken breast with mushrooms and onions, a smear of real butter on the dark rye. Please, no margarine. If I'm going to do it, it will be butter, lettuce and tomato. Oh so good. Tyler likes pumpernickel rye with bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo.

I have found that by baking three loaves of bread on Saturday or Sunday we can make it through the week, just eating the last pieces of the last loaf on Friday. I haven't had to freeze any loaves yet, but I am sure they will freeze fine.

The best loaf pans are made by Chicago Metallic. I purchased mine via Amazon. com and paid $11 per pan. I purchased two 1 pound pans and 2 1.5 pound loafs. I usually do grain breads in the bigger loafs, I have banana chocolate bread in the oven baking now, in the 1 pound loafs. These pans are guaranteed for 25 years and are nice and heavy, leaving a perfectly browned, crusty loaf. They bake evenly and they don't rust.

Temperature is very important in baking bread. It is essential to buy a cheap thermometer! I bought one at the grocery store for a few bucks. The loafs like to rise best at 74-80F, usually taking 2 hours for a double rise. If it is cooler than that the loafs take a lot longer to rise, but they will, eventually.

This is Troy's favorite for his morning toast:

Oatmeal Crusty Toasting Loaf

4 cups very hot water -150F (I heat mine in a tea kettle)
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 Tablespoon instant yeast (slightly more if using active dry yeast)
6 to 7 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon Salt

Combine oats, oat bran, brown sugar, and butter in a very large bowl. Add hot water and stir until combined. Let sit until about 80 degrees F, about 30 minutes.Combine yeast with 2 cups of flour and stir into oat mixture. Continue stirring in flour one cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a well floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Cover dough with the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes.

Knead in salt & old dough for 5 minutes or until they are completely mixed in. Sprinkle flour in the dough bowl, place the dough in it, liberally dust it with flour, and cover it with a damp tea towel.

Ferment (first rise): Approximately 1-1/2 hours if dough is at an optimal 74 to 78 degrees F. When the dough is ready, you should be able to push your finger deep into it and leave an indentation that does not spring back.

Divide and shape into three loaves, if you want a heavy, even covering of oats on your loaves, you can brush them with water and then roll them gently in a plate of oats .

Then place seam side down in greased loaf tins and cover with a damp tea towel.

Proof (second rise): Approximately 1 hour if dough is 74 to 78 degrees F. The loaves are ready for baking when you make a slight indentation with your finger in the dough and it does not spring back.

Note: this dough will not rise a whole lot while baking, so you want your loaves to be nearly finished size before you put them in the oven.Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow if tapped. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Try to wait at least 40 minutes before cutting into a loaf. Store at room temperature or freeze.

During the cold winter months I place my bread pans in the sunny window. If there is no sun I then boil a bowl of water in the microwave, placing pans into the microwave with the steaming water. I stick my thermometer in there to make sure it doesn't get too warm, killing my yeast.

Today was a balmy 45F! Crazy warm, my bread rose just fine in the window.

This bread is not a big riser. This is a great bread for toasting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Carnival 1/2 Shortened

Up until Friday night I still wasn't sure if I was going to run the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon. I wasn't sure if I wanted to drive for two hours in total to run 13 miles. I knew that I probably would though.

Friday night I received an email that because of the wind chill and cold temperature the 1/2 Marathon would be shortened to a 10K. The officials made my decision for me: no thanks.

Instead Topaz and I went for a lovely crisp 20 mile snowshoe run. I must say, I am certainly looking forward to the day when I no longer need to strap on the snowshoes. It will be heaven to run the trail with only shoes. Something to look forward to!

I was again offered to help coach the MDRA women's group this spring. I accepted, with honor. We're going to offer a women's boot camp this year, running 8 weeks. The draft of the schedule looks great; Diana Pierce will speak at one session, maybe even offering us some Saturday KARE 11 airtime, we'll take a 'field trip' to TC Running along with other speakers and highlights. I can't wait.

January is just about wrapped up, spring will be here before I know it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Performing the Minnesota Strip Tease

The sun was shining. There was not even a wisp of a wind through the trees. The trail bed was perfect. Firm, with a bit of give. It was 31F. 31F I say! A glimpse of spring.

When Topaz and I headed out for the trail this afternoon we smiled all the way. The day was lovely! The trail was nice and firm but not rock hard and slippery. Perfect snowshoe conditions.

I was able to remove my hat. I was able to tie my jacket upon my waist. I was able to unzip my shirt.

We were able to run for two hours before darkness came upon us.

Performing the Minnesota Strip Tease. Joyful!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pretty Trail


Start Line


Powerlines (Not Quite Voyageur!)


Running Through the Great Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon

Many people who run races run them to only to win, run them only for time, run them only to race. Most of these people are what I would call a higher caliber runner. The daily runs are training for a specific event, a specific race, a specific time. I've just never really run that way.

I truly run because I love to run. My daily runs are for pleasure and the races are the social outlet I sometimes need, or a goal that I need to see. Sure, once I began increasing my speed and my standings at races I certainly became excited to see what could happen at the next race, but I have never run only to race.

Now that my snowshoe marathon is over I will still snowshoe run. This morning Topaz and I hit the trails for 4 hours. There is no snowshoe marathon in the future. It was 16F outside this morning! I couldn't wait to enjoy the warmth, enjoy the snowshoe run. We did. Fully. It was fabulous. I had no aches or pains from yesterday's 'race'. All is well.

The Northwoods Snowshoe Races encompasses three distances: 10K, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon. Barb, the RD told me there were 60 in the 10K, 40 in the 1/2 and 27 in the Marathon.

For the marathon we run a short 'B' loop, then a large loop, back to the start/finish for short 'B' loop and the long loop again. You know I love a loop course!

I always misjudge the time it will take me to get to Duluth during the winter. I forget I'll be driving slower, roads are awful due to weather and I have to stop a zillion times to pee. I am always later than I'd like for this race.

I had a miserable Friday night. I am probably over estimating it when I say I slept 2 hours. Finally at 430 I came downstairs and began breakfast: 1 egg, 4 whites scrambled, 1/2 c oatmeal with splenda and cinnamon. I looked at the thermometer. Happy days! 16F. Wow. I looked up Duluth's temperature. 4F, high of 11F. Good deal.

Eventually I made my way to Duluth. At 915 I was at Lester Park. The two lots were full so I parked way down along the road and ran to the start to get my number and check in. Ran back to get my gels, iPhone and slather my feet with Foot Potion. Remember what happened last year when I didn't wear my Foot Potion? Yeah, I didn't want to have my foot doctored upon again during the race. I grabbed a snowshoe in each arm and ran back to the start line. Barb was giving her directions of the course to the runners. I put on my snowshoes and waited about 30 seconds before she said GO.

I watched everyone take off. The 1/2 and Marathon runners begin at 930; the 10K at 1000. I was dead last, as planned. I walked up the first hill, slowly, listening to others hack a lung as they forged up the first hill. Eventually I began a slow run and began to warm up. It was 4F, it felt great. One pair of pants, 1 shirt; it was nice not to feel like the Michelin Man for a change.

The first portion of the race is held in on groomed ski trails. The snow was well packed and in great condition for snowshoe running. There is one hill after another, rolling and lots of fun. I loved how the snowshoes could dig into the snow as I ran up the hill, propelling me forward, then down down down I'd run, gaining speed until the next hill. Too much fun!

Eventually I began to come upon others, passing them here and there, visiting and catching up. I really wasn't sure who was running the race as I wasn't at the start for more than 30 seconds. I have such a hard time recognizing faces and putting names to them.

Aid Station 1 is just out of the ski park, on our way to the private properties. Mike had sausage and bacon cooking, hot soup, cookies, pretzels, HEED, water and pop. I didn't bother to carry a pack with me. Before I know it I'm carrying a 24 oz ice cube. I left the pack at home. I drank 4 or 5 5 0z HEEDS and went on my way. All that I carried with me were 12 gels and my iPhone. I took a gel at each aid station.

The snow was really strange out of the park. Along an open field where the wind was really whipping up, the snow was like granulated beach sand that had been aerated. It was the weirdest snow I have run through. Up into the beautiful woods, along a steep hill and down back to a road and Aid Station 2. The volunteers are amazing. Here it is, cold and windy, they sit in their car until the runners arrive..jump out and help us out, always with a smile! I guzzled down another 4 little cups of HEED, sucked back a gel and headed out across the field into the woods. I climbed a beautiful wooded hill up up up to an open view of Lake Superior. Dazzling. Just spectacular. I was many deer during this section and a fox as well.

After climbing the trail I pop out onto another road and run down down down to Aid Station 3. A few more cups of HEED, a gel, and off through the hills and woods. It's fabulous. Great views, good outdoors, peace and quiet. I was having a fantastic time.

I don't wear my watch during this race. There are too many variables. Last year the course was a few miles longer, it was colder, this year the snow was funny and deep, two years that I ran the race there was NO snow, we ran on trail shoes, so I feel a watch is obsolete. I run this race to experience the outdoors, to revel in the beauty of the woods and to have a great time on a fun trail. That is exactly what I did.

By the time I hit the second large loop I wasn't running with anyone. The 1/2 marathoners were finished or almost so, the marathoners were wide spread. I came into Aid Station 1 again and was told I was first woman. I laughed and asked if I were the only woman. They told me no, that there were a few running the full marathon. I didn't know who or how many, and really didn't care. I was still going to run for fun. No pressure.

I continued on, enjoying all the beauty of mother nature. I was so grateful that it wasn't as cold as it had been, that I didn't have any blisters, I was in no pain and felt like I could run forever. I wasn't tired. I was feeling strong and full of bliss.

As I was coming into the finish I realized that I wasn't really ready to be finished. I had been enjoying this run so much that I really didn't want to be done. I wanted to continue running.

I saw the finish and saw the RD jump out of her truck to congratulate me on my finish. I stood there thinking I wasn't ready to be done. I wanted more. I stood at the finish for 25 minutes, waiting to cheer for another finisher but none came. I began to shiver and freeze. I told Barb I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the Award Party. I didn't know where to clean up. I wanted a hot shower. She told me she would mail me my award and sweatshirt if I didn't make it.

I ended up running 6:23, 1st woman; 9th overall. Barb thought there were still 10 runners out on the course.

I didn't have anywhere to shower and the party didn't begin for 3 more hours. I didn't know if I could hang out cold for 3 hours. I decided to try Dunn Brothers thinking I could use their sink to wash in. When I saw how small the bathroom sink was I decided against it. I was now completely frozen. I only wanted a hot shower and knew that a sink wasn't going to do the trick.

Back in the car I blew the defrost on high all the way home, trying to get warm, thinking about the hot shower awaiting me.I decided to go home. A few hours later I was cleaned up, in bed, warm and toasty!

Next year will be the 20th running of the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon. It will be Barb's final race. I'll be there :)

Next up: Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon. There isn't much for ultra running in MN in the winter. I don't think I have another race until McNaughton 100, in April.

Duluth Paper:http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/tag/tag/snowshoe%20marathon/

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chilly.


Still Cold.

A frosty -32F at home this morning. I don't recall seeing the thermometer this low..ever.. at our home in Orrock Township. We've lived here for 18 years. It's downright cold.

I ran on the treadmill this morning. Topaz whined at my feet, sad that we weren't on the trail. I'll take him out later in the afternoon for a short jog when it warms up a bit. If it warms up a bit.

We've been below zero for 86 hours.

Tomorrow promises to be a warmer day. Above zero! Even in Duluth :)

Oh. Monday is the deadline for applying to Badwater. I haven't sent in my app. I'm having a hard time justifying the expense. I don't know that I need to spend $795 in application fee and probably a few more thousand in rental, crew, hotel and airfare. My Dad's advice to me growing up was always 'when in doubt, don't do it' . Because I am having trouble justifying the expense, maybe I should let this one go. I don't know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cordura and Gortex; Let's Us Get Our Run On!

Yeah, I guess that is frozen drool on his face.

Brisk Cold Sunshine


Yeah, It's Cold Outside

It is. Cold. Outside.

Last night at about 900 I finished watching my DVR of The Biggest Loser. I love the series. I loved that Dan, the heaviest so far at 400+ pounds, the youngest so far, at 19 (or 18?), actually told Jillian to crank up the treadmill and go FASTER! He was running 30 seconds at a 7 minute mile. While Joelle whined about having to jog for 30 seconds. Dan has the mentally tough enough attitude to get him where he needs to be. He WANTS to work out, he wants to feel his body move. It's amazing. I cried.

Anyhow, pretty soon across the TV were the happy words: Big Lake School District: Closed Tomorrow. Woohoo! Nothing better than an unplanned day off. The boys ran around in circles hooting and hollering and I joined in. Good stuff.

This morning it was -26F on our thermometer with a - 53 wind chill. The wind was only 10 mph but it is enough to get a low low reading.

Topaz donned his cordura booties and I donned my Gortex Inov8 Flyrocks. I love them. I wear test Vasque and tried out a Gortex version of the Blur. I didn't care for the bulkiness, how heavy they felt and stiff. It is only a test model and may not be the one that will show up on the market. The Inov8's feel like a glove. A nice, light, warm and dry glove.

The trail was quiet. Not a peep from a bird, no action from the deer. Just stillness. I didn't feel cold. I had on two pair of heavy tights, two shirts a jacket, gloves, mittens, gaiter and hat. I was actually comfortable. My back was too warm and I could feel sweat rolling off of it. That was an odd sensation. I was thankful that the Northwoods Snowshow Marathon wasn't today. It was even colder in Duluth! Crazy.

The booties kept Topaz's paws safe. He didn't perform 'cold foot dance' where he lifts one foot and then another, he didn't have to eat ice from his paws. We had a nice enjoyable 5 mile romp through the woods.

When it is this cold the snowshoes make a distinct click click click upon the frozen snow. My neck gaiter was frozen solid with snot and such. I had to give it the spin around to the back of my head. I'll carry an extra along while I do the marathon and another in my bag that I can stash at the start line. We loop through one time. I'll have to do the spin.

It is supposed to be this cold again tomorrow morning. I can't imagine we'd get another day off. But I'd sure like it :)

On the bright side: Last night we finished our snowshoe run at 505 PM and it was still light outside! We have gained 26 minutes of daylight since December 21. Woohoo!

I was very grateful to come home and hop onto the treadmill for 10 miles. I didn't get bored, didn't feel out of energy. I was so happy to have a day from work, an unexpected day where I could run, go to the gym and hang out with the boys. Good stuff.

Embrace the cold. Have some fun. Minnesota Tough.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Frosty!


I can't believe how well my iPhone works. I took this photo after my first snowshoe run this morning. My Cannon is worthless when the temperature is 20F or less. The battery drains. The iPhone: I carried it with me for three hours. I began running at -21F and finished at -6F. I was able to take the photo. It's a good photo! Better than my Cannon. Amazing.
After taking the photo I emailed it to myself and Mom and Dad. Amazing again I say. Amazing.
No, it didn't snow today. I am just Frosty.
Guess what else my iPhone did today? On snowshoe run number two, this afternoon, it identified bird calls for me while at Lake Maria State Park. Yes! I kid you not.
On the way home from they gym today I heard a song on 93X that I didn't know all of the words too. I clicked on radio click, touched 93X, view lyrics and bammo. Lyrics to the song. I was singing, reading and driving at the same time. I guess this could be dangerous...
I heart my iPhone.

NIMBY

I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt while snowshoe running this morning. When I left the house I took a peek at the thermometer and saw that it was -16F. I didn't see any leaves blowing around on the trees so I didn't think there was much of a wind chill. There wasn't! Joy!

By the time I reached the trail head; only 15 miles or so north of my house the temperature had dropped to -21F per my car. I was glad that I had remembered to grab the booties for Topaz.

The trail was beautiful when the sun rose. Sparkly white frosty snow, heavily laid upon the trees and branches. Stunning. I felt like I was running through a jeweled Christmas card.

We ran for a few hours, staying warm and comfortable. I couldn't help but think that next Saturday I will be in Duluth running the snowshoe marathon. It will probably be -40F or something...

I am finding that I am able to stay warmer during my runs and even in general, when I am not running. I think it is because I have: 1) increased my lifting from 3 days to 5 days a week, 2) am making SURE that I eat every three hours and 3) am at a lower weight so am moving more quickly. By making these changes my metabolism seems to have increased. In my log book I record the temperature, what I am wearing and how I feel, especially with Northwoods coming up, I want to have the clothing perfect. I am finding that I need less clothing than I usually do at the same temperatures. Interesting.

Back to the run. As Topaz and I were finishing up, a man approached me in the lot. I saw him there last night while running and Thursday night as well. He had been snowplowing a portion of the trail for the walkers today during the Sherburne WinterFest or whatever it is. He came over and commented on the fact that I am out there quite often snowshoe running. He asked if I'd be interested in guiding some snowshoers on the trail. I explained to him that I enjoyed the solitude of the trail, the fact that were hardly any others using the trail and that I didn't want to promote use of the trail. I apologized for being selfish. I told him that I do lead a group at the Lake Maria State Park and that I would be willing to lead another for him in Sherburne County; but not on this trail. He thanked me for being honest and gave me his card.

I thought back to when I was in my early teens. Mom, Dad and I would cross country ski almost every weekend. My Dad cut down trees with a hatchet and machete as we would go bush whacking through the Laurentian Divide between Virginia and Britt. He created miles of trails for us to use each weekend, each winter. Dad would fly down the hills and more often than not, he'd break a ski tip by crashing into a tree stump. He began to carry plastic tips with him.

As the years went on we began to notice more and more people using the trails that Dad created. It made us rethink skiing those trails. We began to drive further up north on occasion, in order to get away from the others. One day as we were skiing "our" trails a group of skiers told us we were going the wrong way on the trail. That was the last straw. The wrong way?! Hello!!

I called Mom and Dad today on the way home from my run today and let them know about the man from the county. I reminded them of the skiing incident. I'm so much like my Dad. He hasn't skied that area in over 25 years now. He rather ski near our property on Lake Vermilion. Now, of course, they aren't doing any skiing as they are spending winters in Texas!

This afternoon my Lake Maria group and I snowshoed 4 miles. I had to break new trail. The snowshoe trail was being used for a demonstration so we hoofed it out into the thick woods. It was a blast. I don't mind sharing the trail and the my passion for the outdoors at this park.

It's Not In My Backyard.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Upper Midwest Trail Series

We, the UMTR group, are now accepting renewals and new membership for the 2009 calendar year. We have finalized the FAB 5 Fifties Ultra Series.

The FAB 5 Fifties Ultra Series consists of the following races:

April 18 Trail Mix 50K
April 25 Chippewa Moraine 50K
May 9 Ice Age 50K or 50M
May 16 Superior 50K
July 4 Afton 50K
August 22 Lean Horse 50 M (100 Mile Split)
September 11 Superior 50 M (100 Mile Split)
October 11 Glacial Trail 50 M
October 17 Wild Duluth 50K

For the rules/locations check our link above.

The Minnesota Trail Series will consist of trail runs with distances of 5K to the Marathon.
There will be 12 races in total.

ALL of the races are held on trail; no roads!

Wynn Davis and I will be offering a beginning trail running class beginning in the early spring, consisting of 4 classes. We’ll begin at Afton State Park. More details will follow here and upon the UMTR website.

UMTR is for anyone interested in trail running. You do NOT have to be experienced nor do you have to run ultras!! We're a fun bunch to hang out with :)

I am leading snowshoe classes at Lake Maria State Park on Saturday afternoons. We are having a blast! There are three miles of packed snowshoe trails and we are able to snowshoe anywhere in the park EXCEPT the groomed trails. Good fun!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Bring it On

Here it is; the first day of 2009. I rang in the New Year when Troy awoke me at 11:55 as I was sleeping on the couch. Yippee..2009...OK, goodnight, Troy.

I was tired while snowshoeing another 20 miles this morning. Yesterday was a leg day and it kicked my butt. Again. It was so beautiful out this morning, though! 20F is a perfect snowshoe temperature for a long distance run. Topaz herded up many deer, they were out and frolicking this morning. I'll run another long snowshoe and call myself ready for Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon in Duluth on the 17th. Please don't let it be -54F wind chill. Egads.

So..2009. Crazy. I can't stop thinking that. Crazycrazycrazycrazy.

Goals:

Continue to maintain my weight loss. I can't tell you how horrible to feels to me when I am as little as 10 pounds over my goal weight. I become all negative and talk horribly to myself minute after minute. It spirals into additional negative thinking and actions. It's not good for me. When I am lean I treat myself well. I am able to stop the negative thoughts and think positively about all things. It's a good place for me mentally. I will work hard to stay lean. I will continue to eat a paleo for athletes diet consisting of lean meats and veggies, one processed carb meal a day of oats post run/workout for recovery. It's working for me.

I can not out run what I can eat. No matter if I am running 100 miles or 50 miles a week my calories typically stay at the same level with the same macros (40% of my calories coming from protein, 30% from carbohydrates and 30% from fat. I learned that I need to take in 1 Tbs of Flax oil each day to keep fat cravings at bay and for all around health. I also drink a cocktail of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and green tea extract to neutralize all of the acidity in my body from the breakdown and to rev up my metabolism.

When I increased my lifting from 2-3 days a week to 5 days a week I noticed I needed to increase my calories, but not from running more miles. This tells me my body has adapted to the ultra mileage and not to the lifting..yet.

Continue to Budget. For someone that never thought about staying within a budget, or for that matter, setting a budget, I am quite happy with the fact that I was able to do this. Of course the fact that gasoline has gone down from $4 to $1.39 this morning has helped immensely! I will reach my payoff/saving goals this year and will then be able to proceed with my next phase in this plan.

Family. I'm not a great telephone user. Well, I don't really use the telephone at all. I love email but will make a goal to call my parents and my sister each week; even when I don't have anything to say! Just to keep in touch and let them know that I care.

Races: I'm going to run McNaughton 100. I went back and forth on this as Larry Pederson is bringing a new 100 to Minnesota. The Zumbro 100, near Rochester. Originally this race was going to be held in March so I was going to run it. Now it is going to be held the same weekend (Friday) as McNaughton (Saturday) in April over Easter weekend this year. The RD of McNaughton, Andy Weinberg, has moved to Vermont, so this will be the last McNaughton 100. I have a free entry since I won it last year, and hell, it's Andy's last, I must be there.

So, here's to McNaughton #5. I WILL NOT be reserving a room at the Concorde Inn. You shouldn't either. Read race report McNaughton 2008!

I'm going to run FANS 24 Hour Run and run it for a PR. My current PR there is 116 miles. Why not try 120 hu? I love FANS. I'd like to try Kettle Moraine sometime but as long as I am an employee of the school and our final week is the same weekend as Kettle (and FANS) it will be FANS. I wouldn't be able to have that final Friday off.

I'm going to apply Badwater. 135 miles across Death Valley. John Storkamp and I were running at Afton a few weeks back and he told me that he, Pierre and Paul were going to apply. Pierre and Paul have run Badwater before and John has crewed. He asked me if I was interested in joining them. I thought about it for about 5 steps and said yes. He really had to twist my arm! The only problem is that I can't do this on my own. The rules state that I need a van and at least two people to crew for me. Badwater doesn't provide aid. I have such a hard time asking others for help ..what is up with that...that is the only downfall that I can see. Not that I have to run 135 miles on pavement through 125F temperatures and up a freaking 18 mile hill at the end to Mount Whitney. Ha! So yeah, this one is up in the air as I have to be accepted and find help.

If I get into Badwater I probably won't get revenge at Leadville 100 this year. We'll see. My family would like to go back out that is so cool so we'll see.

I'm also thinking about Lean Horse 100 in August. It's two weeks out from Superior 100 so that is OK. Lean Horse 50 is a selected race in the UMTR series so I would like to support the race. There would probably be a fun group of MN's to travel out with.

Superior Sawtooth 100 goes without saying. It is the race that is tough as hell and beautiful as can be. It's home. I love it. I've finished the 100 the past two years and would love another finish.

Javelina Jundred was a total blast last month. I really want to go back. For 2009 it is held on October 31 so I may get the family, or at least Troy, to come out with me. Scottsdale was awesome and the Marriot was perfect. They'd love to stay there. It won't coincide with the Minnesota deer hunt; we'll see how it works out.

I'll run quite a few other races as well: Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon in January, Winter Carnival Half Marathon in January, maybe Phys co Wyco in February but the last two I have entered I have ended up staying at home (Steve's pool tournament in 2007 and Tyler's appendix rupture in 2008). April will bring McNaughton, May the Superior 50K, June FANS, July Afton 50K or Badwater 135, August (?) Lean Horse 100/Leadville 100, September Twin Cities Marathon, October Javelina 100, November Surph the Murph 50K and December ..

Skijoring! Topaz and I will begin this fabulous sport! How did I not know about it? We're going to go to the novice classes at Midwest Mountaineering and we are both very excited. Skijor, translated from Norwegian, literally means to "ski drive". I have the cross country skiis that I haven't used in forever and yeah, Topaz and I are trained for endurance. He has booties now, too! We'll meet with the Midwest Skijorers Club and find out all about this endeavor.

Body Building Comp:It was bound to happen one of these years. I was pretty surprised that I didn't lose any of my muscle while running high miles and losing fat over the past year. I was able to hold onto and actually build muscle while lifting only 2-3 a week.

I've been going to shows for a while now, I have a few acquaintances who compete and always had the thought "just think if I could" well, why not now? I'm certainly not getting any younger. I'll compete in the novice and masters, probably coming in as a middle weight. Of course the nay sayers will say that an endurance runner can't build muscle, that the ultras will tear it down. Of course the nay sayers said I needed processed carbs to run a 100 mile race too. I'm always out to beat the myths. This will be a fun experiment.

When I thought about comps before I was too afraid at the thought of getting up onstage in a little bit more than nothing, worried about people thinking I wanted to get up and shake my booty; I've changed my way of thinking of that fear. I now think of the comp as the celebration of the work, the progress and the journey that it will take me to get there. It is all about growth, getting out of my comfort zone, stretching myself to do something I always admired others do. It's not about getting on stage and shaking my booty.

Coaching: I'm going to continue to offer online and running classes. I love it so much. I enjoy giving to others the gift to run. We can all run. You don't have to be a certain size or a certain age to run. Running will lead you so many more places than your original destination. I never would have believed that when I began to run 10 years ago, I would still be running today. Running for enjoyment, for the love of it.

Oh, and I need to take the time to learn to fully use my gadgets for Christmas: Garmin Nuvi, Computer and iPhone.

CHEERS to 2009! Enjoy!!