Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Zumbro 50 Mile Midnight Trail Run: Euphoria


Yes. Total Euphoria and Bliss.

I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll begin  a few weeks out from Zumbro. I had been healing well, running mostly pavement because my beloved trail was under 4’ of snow and ice. Trail made my almost healed ankle feel loose and painful.  I hoped for the best.

A few of my worries:  The midnight start was a bit of a concern as I knew this meant I’d be up for hours.  I am not a napper. I would awake at 5 AM on Friday, run a few errands, arrive to Zumbro and hang out until the midnight start. I ended up  awake for 41 hours. I wasn’t tired! On the other hand, the midnight start was perfect for my next goal: Savage 100Mile Trail Run.

I knew I’d have a slow first 6 hours in the dark. I have horrible night vision so I had a headlamp and handheld flashlight to light my way. I haven’t worn a headlamp since I herniated my discs. The last time I tried my spine became very fatigued and pained. Some time has passed so I was again hoping for the best.  I step gingerly during the dark hours, dodging rocks, roots and mud, trying to navigate foot placement.

I figured with a slow first 6 hours I would be stiff by the time daylight approached, and possibly fatigued. Maybe I worried too much about that which I can’t control.

My goal was to finish, without a time goal. I figured 15 hours was a reasonable amount of time. 5 hours a loop. 5 for loop 1, during the dark, 5 for loop 2 half dark and then tired and 5 for the final exhausting loop. This was going to be a good long run for the Savage 100.

While packing up on Friday I couldn’t find my ugly grey Nathan vest anywhere. I don’t like bladders-I over drink. I like using handhelds so I can track what I drink per hour -and a light vest with pockets to stash my gels. I probably tossed it after the grossness that permeated it while running at Superior Sawtooth 100 in September.

On the way to Zumbro I swung into TCRunning Company in Maple Grove. I knew that there was a nice colorful Ultimate Direction vest with my name on it! I made my purchase and ventured on to Zumbro.

It was pretty quiet when I arrived to the Zumbro River Bottoms. It was warm, in the 60s and the snow – blizzard – that we had the previous week was all gone!  Woohoo!

The 100 milers began at 8 AM Friday, there were 60 of them out on the course. The course is a 17 mile loop full of steep climbs, lots of mud and  rock. It’s challenging.

I milled about the check in, connecting with awesome friends. It was a party atmosphere and I was ready to get my party on.

At 1130 PM I took inventory of what I needed to bring with me and began to pack up. I attached my iPod to my nifty new Ultimate Direction vest, I placed 4 gels into each pocket-my plan was to eat a gel every 30 minutes, drink water and do Scaps for electrolytes. Lucky for me HammerNutrition was a sponsor so I would find gels at each aid station. I placed 7 AA batteries in a pocket for my lights-they would dim in the cold night and need replacement battery-I had some wipes for cleanup in another pocket.  I lubed my feet, my armpits, my waist, my bra line. Affixed my gaitors and went back and forth wondering if I should wear shorts or pants. I decided on a light weight pair of pants, long sleeve shirt and windbreaker. Rain was forecast in a few hours. I had shorts, socks and a sleeveless top unpacked and ready to reach for upon my next loop. I’d be back in 17 miles.

1150 PM I heard John on the loudspeaker rounding up the 50 milers. I sucked down a gel and removed myself from my car.

I lined up in the back of the pack. This was going to be a long training run for the Savage 100 Mile Trail Run. Woot! I was back in my element which I have missed so much. Oh my gosh, let’s do this!

I was so excited!  As I was running with almost 200 others at the start I realized how much fun I was going to have, how much I’ve missed ULTRA and how far I have come…again. I was laughing out loud as I passed John on his ladder telling us to get this party started.

Loop 1: The loop began with a steep climb up the ridge. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t killing me. There are many many steep up and downs, with beautiful views on top, even in the dead of night. My calves didn’t blow up. They stayed strong. I looked out over the ridge and could see headlamps climbing up the hill, I could see the start/finish lights way down below. What an awesome adventure I was going to embark on.

There was quite a bit of mud on the trail from the quick snow melt during the week. I could feel it go up and over the top of my shoes. I was grateful that I was wearing my gators! 

During the first loop I was running near Robin and Mike-it was fun to recognize them and have enjoyable conversation while we caught up!

I had to change batteries after a few hours.  I was glad I had extras on board.  I was making sure to eat a gel every 30 minutes, I was staying on schedule, drinking 20 oz of water each hour.

I returned to the start/finish at 4:45. I felt awesome!  It was still dark-there wasn’t any light in the sky. I ran to my car, removed and washed my feet, lubed them up and changed socks and shoes. I didn’t like the feel of one of my toes in the Inov-8s I was wearing so swapped out for another pair of the same model. I changed out of pants and put on a pair of shorts, was sad that I still had to use lights, filled up my bottle, grabbed a few gels and moved along. Elapsed time: 4 minutes. Sweet!

Loop 2: I ran back into the darkness, up the bluff, thinking to myself ‘wow, only one more visit to this bluff, one more visit to this downhill, one more visit to…’ etc. It seemed like time was moving quickly.  I was feeling so good I actually found myself excited about running the 100 miler here next year instead of lamenting and wishing I would have run the 17 miler instead. Whoopie!

I could overhear people talking about the rain that was forecast to arrive soon. I felt sprinkles on and off, but nothing that I was concerned about at this time.

About half way through Loop 2 the sun began to rise. I could finally pull off my headlamp and put away my handheld light. What a relief!  That headlamp was giving me a headache and I just can’t see in the dark!  I had surgery years ago and now wear glasses in the evening when it becomes dark. I have never run with them, though.

At about mile 26 I came up to Robin again. I was feeling super!  We checked in with one another-I shared with her that I had been eating 1 gel every 30 minutes, no solids and that I felt super. I told her my theory was that it took my untrained body 4 hours to began to burn fat, whereas when I was in tip top shape it took about 1. Oh well.

Waves of euphoria were flowing through me! I was feeling so good, so strong and so shocked!  I could now SEE the trail, I could move faster, my ankle was solid. No pain!  Woohoo. I wasn’t tired. I was in new mileage territory. I hadn’t run 50K since last September so as I crossed that threshold I let out a whoop! Not long after that whoop I’d think to myself ‘ok, don’t get too excited, you know how the bonk is’ then ‘oh, just enjoy it, flow with it and ride it while it is here!’  So I did.

As I was running along I thought of my conversation with Topaz before I left. I told him to think of me, to send me good strong running thoughts. I told him that I would run for him since he could no longer run for himself. I told him I would run for me, for all of the times that I wasn’t able to run. I could feel his good karma while I was running upon the trail. Tears began to flow from my eyes.

I thought of myself in a ball of pain, on the floor,  in the kitchen. The herniated discs so painful that I didn’t know if I should scream or cry, two years ago. I thought of my broken ankle and being told that I would never run again, last September.  I thought of the beginning of this downward spiral: the  hysterectomy, the menopause that immediately followed and then began to break down my body, my mind.  Changing it into something I didn’t recognize. I almost let it take me down. I almost became tired of fighting it. I was ready to give in. Almost.

I could hear thunder in the distance. I saw the lightening. The winds began to strongly blow cold air. Mother Nature let loose!  Hail, torrential rain. So much for my easier run during Loop 2 in the daylight!  Holy Shit.

I composed myself. I wasn’t going to panic. I could do this. I have run in rain, in storms before.

I was climbing the ridge to Ant Hill. On that  ridge the wind was blowing leaves at me, branches were falling from trees. The  rain was pummeling my face. I could taste the salt from my face. I couldn’t see!  I pulled my windbreaker from my waist and put it on, pulling my hood over my head. It was soaked within minutes.  I gingerly began to climb down Ant Hill. Luckily there were rocks strewn about so it wasn’t quite as slick as some of the other mudified areas. I began to laugh, hysterically!  What else could I do? Keep on moving, one foot in front of the other.

The mud was so deep that it pulled off my shoe! My gaitors had been pushed up from the Velcro in the back from the mud but they were still attached by the hook in front, so it was dangling from my toe. I went straight down!  Ick. I had to laugh, it was a riot!  I was having a mud bath. A stinky slimy mud bath.

Now I was getting cold. I was soaked through, in shorts. As I ran along a long dirt road section to the aid station I saw Rick and Jordan. Jordan was running his first 100. He was freezing. Rick told me they would get a garbage bag at the aid station. I ran into the aid station and asked the kind folks from TCRunning Company if they had any garbage bags. Yes!  A life saver. The kind volunteer popped a hole in the top and two holes for my hands. Matt came to tell me many had dropped. I couldn’t. I was not hurt. On I went. The rain was coming down in buckets. I grabbed a few gels and carried on, running up the trail.

I tried to navigate the mud. It seemed best to go straight up the middle. When I tried to run along the side I ended up sliding into the middle anyway. WOW!  I still felt fabulous though, I was riding the endorphin rush.  I hoped it would last.

I had heard that many were dropping. Of the almost 200 50 milers there were less than ½ of us still out there. Of the 60 100 milers there were less than 1/2 as well. There was a high rate of attrition.

Loop 3. Final. As I ran into the start/finish at 34 miles I just couldn’t believe how great I felt. Sure, I was a cold wet dog but I didn’t have any ankle pain, no pain at all, no blisters, no chafing, I was golden man, golden! I really couldn’t believe it.

I was going to change, but then decided why bother. It was still pouring, I’d still get soaked.  I went up to the aid station and everyone asked how it was going. When I replied oh fine, it’s an adventure, it’s not that bad!  I received a few eye rolls and one person began to ridicule my response, explaining to me why he and many others had dropped. It was unsafe. What would happen if I fell, etc. I wasn’t putting anyone down for dropping, I was just having an awesome time and as long as my ankle didn’t hurt I was good to go! They had asked how I was doing so I just responded.

I decided to listen to my iPod for Loop 3. I still couldn’t believe it was the final loop!  I was beginning to wonder when the low would come? Maybe it wouldn’t!  I had been eating a gel ever 30 minutes, I was still on task, I was ahead of my projected 15 hours. WOOfrickingHOO!

The rain stopped!  I was still foraging a deluge of mud and water but the rain had stopped!  I was having so much fun. SO MUCH FUN!  I was a bit over the top, coming up on people and just bubbling over with happiness while so many were suffering. I tried to hold it back, but I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it really was hard for me to do. I was bubbling over with joy.

Climbing another ridge I came upon Jim Wilson. I just love Jim!  He was moving along. I gave him a hug and moved on.

I was doing what I love to do. Doing what had been taken away from me. I was reveling in the movement of my body, the joy that it was bringing to me. I was thinking about Savage 100 and the fact that I was excited about it, excited to dig deep and to see what I still had inside of me. It’s been a long time.

I began to get choked up. I began to hold my hand to my face and sob. I was here, I was running under these horrible conditions and having the time of my life. I went from moments of sobbing with joyful emotion to holding back, trying not to get too excited. Holding back was futile.

2 more miles. I couldn’t believe it. I felt great, strong. I was doing this. I ran along, under my 5 hour loop goal, under my 15 hour total goal. I began to do the math. I’d finish in under 1450, possibly 1430. Wow.

I ate 30 gels!  THIRTY GELS!!! Nothing else. I drank water, had two SCaps.  THIRTY GELS!  I took two Advil for good measure. Just because. Wow. Stellar.

As I hit the field to the start/finish someone yelled out GO JULIE!  Another yelled, COME ON, RUN THROUGH ONE MORE MUD PUDDLE, as he pointed to the huge body of water sitting in the field. I did it!  I splashed through that last mud puddle and laughed crazily. They laughed and cheered!  I heard Cheri say IT’S JULIE! IT’S JULIE BERG! A group of people came together and cheered and yelled as I came into the finish line. I couldn’t contain myself. She’s smiling!  She’s still smiling!  I was. I was euphoric. I did it. I could still do it.

I gave John and Cheri each a hug. John and I stood there, laughing at one another. I whispered – ‘it’s been 5 years, John, 5 fucking years’- ‘I know, but you’re back now’. Yes. Yes I am.

I visited with others, drank my super recovery drink and changed into clean clothes. I learned that I was First Master Woman.  I left that party with a huge smile on my face. I am still wearing it. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Get Lucky Half Marathon

I ran the Get Lucky Half Marathon on Saturday. Lucky is exactly how I feel!  Lucky, Grateful, Amazing…and everything in-between.

Last week Troy and I flew out to TX to spend spring break with my Dad. It was a wonderful week. We enjoyed Dad’s company and enjoyed the warmer temperatures. This Minnesota winter is one that just never wants to end.  It is again snowing as I type. 5-7” of it today.

While in TX I ran my first 60 mile week since I messed up my ankle in July. I felt strong and I was able to recover after each run.  One day Troy and Dad rode bikes 15 miles through Atascosa Wildlife Refuge while I ran the same route. It was amazing!  Warm sun, 15 miles…yes, amazing.  Each day was another running adventure. I felt blessed and content.

I attended the same yoga classes that my mom used to attend while in TX and even used her mat which my dad has stored along side his, under the bed.  It was quite an experience. I could feel her there, with me.

Last week my training program ramped up to 70 miles. Again- no fatigue, no lingering soreness from my ankle..quick recovery for the next run. I’m quite amazed, actually.

Saturday was the Get Lucky Half Marathon where I ran a PR. I didn’t even try!  Friday night I had 6 miles to run on my schedule. I wondered if I should run the 6 or take a day off to run the 15 Saturday morning. I’d hate to crap out at a paid race! Well, I reminded myself that the 15 was a training run..which just happens to fall on day that I entered a race. I ran the 6 and felt fine Saturday morning.

The morning was cool and clear. An early wake up call at 4 AM. 25F for staring temperature, not bad considering that most of my runs have been below zero lately.  I anticipated a 210 finish. I had prepared some coconut flour/coconut oil/coconut milk/ bagel type foodstuffs so ate a half before I left home at 500 AM and another half before the race.

The Get Lucky this year began in St Paul, much like the St Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon. We were fortunate to be able to stay warm in the Transit Depot. It is a beautiful building and perfect for hanging out prior to the start.

We began the course by going straight up a hill, jogging around until we were enroute along the river. The course was an out and back  which I always enjoy. I was with my RAGNAR group so would be able to see everyone along the way.

I began with a few 10 minute miles, warming up and feeling good.  I ran past a few homeless people under the bridge, wrapped in cardboard with cigarette packs and beer cans strewn about. Sad. They looked cold and confused by all of us running past them.

As I ran along I glanced down at my watch at each mile . Hmm, 945 mile, that’s awesome.  Hmm..930 mile, that’s even better.  I couldn’t believe it! I felt strong, well fueled and recovered. Amazing. My legs were moving quickly, I was in happyland.

I had to pull my jacket off before the turn around. Moving fast (for me) and 20F felt pretty warm. I wrapped it around my waist and continued on.

At the turn around I sucked down a Vespa and carried on.  I couldn’t believe how great I felt.  

I came into the finish at 2 hours flat-a 9 minute negative – and I felt like I was burning RocketFuel. I’m not a fast runner – I’m sure a happy runner!

My training plan called for a 15 mile run so I promptly turned around and  ran a while longer to finish up 15 miles. Immediately after the run I consumed sweet potato and a protein shake.  I think my nutrition is the reason for feeling so great during these runs. I am paying great attention to what I am consuming, I’ve cut out the sugar and grains and am eating (non processed) carbs centered around the workouts.  I'm adding in good fats and the necessary protein.

My 20 mile trail run was solid on Sunday. No fatigue, no aches or pains…just awesome!

Next up is Zumbro 50 Miler. All training is headed toward Superior Sawtooth 100 Miler!  Bring It!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

21 Day Sugar Detox Wrap/Run Fun

I'm sorry dear blog. I update my FB account but just leave you hanging.

Tomorrow The 21 Day Sugar Detox will be in the books.  It was a successful experiment as I learned that yes, I can quit eating sugar when I wish…I just sometimes don’t wish to.  HeeHee. The only things that I really missed were HammerGels and UltraGen. Gel is just so convenient and I don’t mind the taste at all. During the past 21 days I’ve been pureeing squash, sweet potato and carrot with coconut oil pressed into a baggie. It is difficult to suck all of the mash from the baggie and just kind of makes a mess. 

                                                    A few sample meals I prepared.

Today I am running with my HammerGel espresso, thank you very much. I did notice that recovery wasn’t as great as it normally is, either. Much of this was due to laziness on my part. Instead of preparing a post run meal to haul around in the car I waited until arriving home and then ate. I’ve become so used to mixing UltraGen and swigging it down immediately. Yes, I am going back to my UltraGen ways. Of course, last week was my highest mileage week since July…this may be part of the reason why recovery was a bit strained, too. I ran two back to back long runs!  TWO!  20 miles Saturday and 25 miles..yeah baby.

I am SO excited that I have been able to RUN with only minimal ankle pain. Yippee!! After work yesterday it was 44 degrees F!  I ran a tempo, with sub 8 minute miles. Yup, that is moving ass for me!  Loved it. Welcome Back Dear Julie.

Of course with a few great weeks of running my hamster brain begins churning...thinking...races...oh yes...races. I love the challenge. I love my ultra running friends whom I miss so much when I'm on the outside looking in.

Zumbro Midnight 50 Mile and  Savage 100 Miler are now on the calendar.  I feel better, I have a goal to obtain. I have something to push for. I love to push myself.

Per my last post, my Pastor outlined a 21 Day Challenge at service a while ago and I have been taking part in this. I even stepped from my comfort zone to ask others to join me 1) for a run and 2) to go to Pantages to see Cabaret. I couldn't scrounge up a date for Cabaret, so went solo. Hey, I'm going to Mama Mia on Saturday, interested??? I  did connect for running. It has been a very rewarding experience!  I wouldn't have met up with others had this Challenge not been offered up to me and am SO glad that I did!

I contacted 3 friends that I hadn't run with for 9 years. We all met up and have been running Wednesday evenings now. Fabulous!!

A friend of mine  invited to run Saturday mornings with herself and a group of her friends.  I took her up on the offer!  I have enjoyed myself SO much!! I've run the past three Saturdays with them and this next Saturday is a hill run. They invited me to run RAGNAR with them! Yes, yes, I'll try RAGNAR. We've had a great time (although COLD)!

Thursday, February 06, 2014


** This was in my draft folder. Today I am Day 5 and doing fabulous!

Most of my readers know that I struggle with a few addictions. I have totally killed the alcohol demon, drug and tobacco..although I guess they all come under as drug. In September I had 16 years of sobriety. Yes, yay me!  Seriously, I had always worried about ‘what if’ I couldn’t run because of injury..would I succumb to my past demons? Not alcohol, not tobacco, not drugs;  and for that I am thankful.

Sugar is another story. When I abstain I am on top of the world..after the week of headaches have subsided and then I wonder why I didn’t always treat sugar as I can treat the other demons. That is the great question, right? 

Because in my mind I hadn’t made up my mind to treat sugar as a drug.

After completing half a dozen Whole30 rounds in the past few years I thought I had beat that sugar bug to the ground. No. I have allowed it back into my life. I have fed it and let it grow.

A few years ago I received negative comments when I posted about TheWhole30. Please don’t leave me negative comments. I deleted that post because of it. If you don’t like  what I’m writing then just politely stop reading.

As I sit here I have a  pounding headache. On the bright side, I quit drinking Diet Coke in July so am not going through that with drawl. Yes!! I was over consuming as my norm so went cold turkey and just stopped.  I have stopped drinking my Good Earth tea as it has stevia and sugar cane. I never looked at the ingredients prior to Friday but figured it must have been sweetened as it made my tongue tingle and gave me that ‘happy sugar’ feeling-the hit of dopamine that I am always chasing.

As we know, Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - a chemical messenger that delivers signals to and from the brain - that helps to control feelings of reward and pleasure. It is released for healthy reasons, too: physical touch, exercise. It is released in response to the consumption of certain substances: caffeine, narcotics, alcohol, sugar. The dopamine response we get from eating sugar send signals throughout the body to encourage s to continue to seek that pleasurable feeling. This wouldn't be a bad thinking if the sugar we were eating every time we experiences this pleasure was nutrient dense, like berries, and we were eating it in the overall context of a healthy and balanced diet. But, unfortunatley not only do modern, refined forms of sugar trigger this release of dopamine, they rob the nutrient stores which leaves us with the constant desire for more sugar.

I have to wonder why I sought out drugs and alcohol in the first place when other family / friends did not although I do have alcoholism in my family. I replaced the behavior with running. Running began as a way to lose weight and to stay sober, to combat the feelings of wanting to become drunk. “If I drink tonight, I won’t be running in the morning. If I have a cigarette I’m not going to be able to run”! Pretty soon running became something that became a part of me.  I couldn’t imagine not moving my body, feeling my breathing, my muscles moving, the silent calm, then the rush of the endorphins. Running keeps me sane and yes, releases dopamine, as well.

While I was recovering from injury I fell back into my sugar habits. First it was manageable..then like any addiction it went full blown.

Abstinence. As with any addiction, abstinence is what is necessary. Moderation doesn’t work for addictions.

I enjoy structure and always like a challenge so I am taking up the 21 Day Sugar Detox Challenge.  It will be another interesting challenge I am sure. I use sugar to numb myself, to block out emotions that I am feeling so it is always uncomfortable as I start out..but good in the end.  

I've read Diane's Practical Paleo and Balanced Bites and they both offer good solid nutrition in an easy to follow text so I knew 21 DSD wouldn't be any different.

Interestingly enough, yesterday Pastor Chuck offered a 21 Day Challenge as well. His challenge is to read one chapter of John each day for 21 days, to worship via music for 5 minutes a day and to invite someone for coffee (or a run) in effort to promote fellowship. I know I can tackle Challenge 1 and 2…I’ll work at 3.

Instead of  my Good Earth tea I am drinking  Traditional Medicines herbal tea which is fantastic. I’ve been drinking the Every Day Detox today.  Yesterday I prepped food for the week: a fabulous spaghetti squash with marinara and meatballs-

egg and sausage cups-

mexi-meatloaf, salmon salad. Just real food, no sugar or sweeteners.

Cheers to Two 21 Day Challenges!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Winteriffic 30K Snowshoe Championship

I have entered The Winterrific Snow Show Race each year for the four that it has been held. Due to hysterectomy, herniated discs and then a cancellation due to ice, I have never been able to run the race. This year there was a different story.

I loved running the Northwoods Snow Shoe Marathon that was held for years in Lester Park, in Duluth MN. AfterI ran the race for 8 years, it was discontinued a few years ago.

Winterrific is a Minnesota State Championship and Nationals Qualifier that is held at Murphy - Hanrehan Park Reserve in Scott County, in Savage. I found it interesting that as I pulled up to the race start I recognized the trail head as the first place I had every snowshoed before with the exact same pair of snowshoes and with one of the same people that was at this race. Melancholy. Scott Wagner, Bonnie Riley and Bob Metzger introduced me to snowshoe running 13 or 14 years ago. I'll be forever grateful to this bunch for the patience they showed a newbie running/ultra runner/snowshoer!

We had a very small group. Half dozen 30K, half dozen for the 20K and maybe a dozen for the 10K. Sweet!  I have to say, I just love the small trail races. I've learned to be careful for what I wish for!  As a founding member of  UMTR, we were trying to encourage more people to run trails. We certainly  succeeded! Many (ultra) trail runs now fill well before race date in MN. FB has increased the participation of group runs ten fold on the metro trails, it's crazy busy on many trails. Good .. and not so good.

When I awoke on Saturday morning I could hear the wind and snow beating on my window. The race didn't begin until 930 but after listening to whatever was happening out there I thought it best to get on my way..taking the regularly 75 minute drive slow and easy.

I pulled out of the garage and saw roughly 7" of fresh snow!  Wow!  This was not in the forecast!  The winds were howling, causing near white out conditions as I drove ever so slowly down Highway 10. Nothing had been plowed yet but I was hoping as I drove south into the more populated areas that the road conditions would improve.

In 45 minutes I finally made it to 101. Oh boy. This was going to be long. At least 101 was plowed and  I knew 94 and 494 would be better. I crawled along, making my way, thinking about turning around and going back home once or twice.

There is nothing worse than seeing cars in the ditches, semi trucks askew and trying to stay calm. Ugh. Drive slow and safe. Much like my run: slow and steady.

I made it to the race start in 2.25 hours. I was so glad I began the drive early!  I still had 20 minutes to spare.

I shuffled out into the snowy path which led to the warm up tent. Collected my packet and headed back to my car. I visited with Paulette a bit and then needed to decide what I was going to wear. It was 11F, new deep snow, warming to 20F, wind gusts of 35mph. Hmmm. I learned not to dress to wind chill temp or I get to warm. OK. Stick with that. I wore one pair of pants-Skirt Sports with skirt. I love the extra layer that skirt has on my butt for warmth. I decided not to wear the tights underneath. If I was freezing I could swing back to the car to add them later. That made me feel better. Tank top, long sleeved top, gortex inov-8, snow shoe gaiters, gloves, wind mitts, winter Patagonia Storm jacket, neck gaiter and fleece hat. Northern Lights Snowshoes. OK then. Clothes good. 10 gels (no gels at aid stations), iPod (never did turn on), Garmin 310XT, 1 hand held. HammerHeed was on course. OK. Back down to the warm up tent/start finish.

We were going to begin a little late, due to the poor road conditions are that Mike was out on course making sure the markings were not buried in the deep snow. While waiting I realized Scott Wagner was running :) Maria stopped by after her run to say hi and give hugs, I saw E and John as they were running the 10K. Maynard was there, too.  Phillip was running the 30K. Dan was running the 30K. Good friends that go way back.

Mike returned and gave us the run down of the course. They added an aid station, there would be one at 2 miles, 4 miles and then start/finish at 6.25. We'd loop 3x for the 30K.

He led us to the start and we were off!  The snow was DEEP!  Deep, fluffy, fresh snow. It was spectacular and gorgeous. The snow had stopped falling, the sun was now shining brightly, what a day!  I didn't know what was in store for me. I popped two Aleve before starting as my recovering broken ankle is still cranky on trail. I'd do what I could and would NOT damage it further. If I felt 'that' pain, I'd stop. End of story.

I was glad that there were some speedy runners to break trail for us slower ones (Dan and Joseph)  I hung out near the end, plowing my way. The 10K started a half an hour later so only the 20K and 30K snowshoe runners were out at this time.

When I spotted the first course marking I was relieved! They weren't going to be under snow, they were just clearing the deep new fluff. I was going to be able to find my way!  We shared a portion of the trail with snowmobilers but each time I came across them, they were kind and allowed me the right of way.

The first aid station was approaching. I ran up to it and recognized Lynette!  I don't know the last time I saw her. What a treat!  She filled my bottle and sent me on my way. I was really having a good time.

Most of the race I ran solo..every once in a while I would run into another racer and exchange pleasantries, but 80% of the time I was alone and deep in thought.

I was filled with gratitude. Grateful to be healthy enough to be able to sign up for a 30K snowshoe run. Grateful that my body could carry me that far. Thankful that my ankle was feeling strong. I wasn't feeling it at all.

As I ran into the start/finish 1:25 had passed. I was feeling coherent, pain free and just content. So happy to be out in the woods, in the deep snow, feeling the sunshine upon my face. Spiritual.

The single pair of pants was fine, I didn't need to add a layer. Often times I unzipped my jacket. I was eating a gel every 3 miles, drinking 40 oz of Heed every loop.

When I came in at 2:57 for my second loop I was surprised at how consistent my running was. Would I finish the race in 4:30? That would be as consistent as I've ever been. I was smiling brightly and so happy to carry on down the trail.

The last loop already!  Be sure to take it all in, enjoy every step. No iPod necessary. I was listening to the soft snow under my snowshoes, my breathing, the birds in the sky. I felt euphoric.  I thought about how I need running. It allows me to be in the moment, to think about the right now, the present. I need to clear my head..running does this. It lets me rid myself of any negativity, to feel the positive. The gratitude. It allows me to remember to trust myself. Not the doctors who told me I wouldn't run again. It reminds me that when I am knocked down..to climb back up. To try hard, to fight.

This was no fight. This run was a result of the fight. I felt euphoric. I felt waves of emotion bubbling down deep in my stomach, then working their way up into my heart, feeling my heart swell with joy. Bubbling out of my mouth in large gasps. Laughter. This wasn't the anxiety and panic I have been feeling the past year. These weren't tears of sadness that were falling from my cheeks. This was true joy.   As the tears of joy were falling from my eyes  I could feel my eyelashes freeze.  I could feel my nose run. I was still two miles out from the finish. What would the finish line feel like?

I didn't want it to end. I wanted to run another lap..and another. I felt strong, my ankle felt strong!  It was a glorious day.

I was coming close to the finish line, I could see the blue tent up around the corner. I saw the clock. 4:29. I tried to compose myself but I knew better. I was feeling so much joy, it couldn't be contained. I felt the bubble down deep in my stomach, the joy into my heart as I ran into the finish and yes, it all come to the surface as Mike and Colleen congratulated on my finish. I sobbed.

"Are you OK"?  "Yes, I'm better than OK. I'm euphoric. I was told I would never run again after breaking my ankle at Superior 100. I ran joyfully and strongly and I feel amazing" . Mike and Colleen gave me big hugs and my award. I sat down as Mike removed my snow shoes, trying to compose myself, it was futile. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. My sleeve shows happiness and joy.

Polar Dash 2014

I've enjoyed bringing in the new year with the Polar Dash run for the past 4 years. The first few years there was only a 5K and 10K option. I always entered the 10K and then ran the course once again for a nice long road run. Plowed roads rock during MN winter!

For 2014 I was very excited to see a 14 mile race offered!  Awesome!  Of course I entered.  I was pretty confident that my ankle would hold up since it did very well during The 25K Donut Run. I've been finding that it keeps quiet during road runs but that trail runs are a different story. It often times aches during a trail run and then swells quite badly afterward. Never mind. Road is OK for a while. I'm just happy to be out there running.

The forecast showed bitter cold for the race day morning. No matter. I have winter weather dressing down to a fine art.

Parking was my only concern. With a 5K, 10K and 14 miler I predicted parking would be tough. Team Ortho was offering bus shuttle but I really didn't want to deal with that. I knew right where I wanted to park-next door to Shriners - the race start - on the dead end street. Yup. I know it well.

I decided to leave so that I would arrive 60 minutes early. That would give me plenty of time to find my spot, go to the bathroom, add layers and decompress.  As I pulled into the Minneapolis neighborhood the police were starting to put up the baricades. I was going through, baby. I pulled through just as he positioned the baricade into place and found my thought out parking place. Score!

It was cold.  Below zero, howling winds. I wore a pair of Hind winter tights, Skirt Sports pants w/skirt, decided to wear my regular Kayano road shoes, tank, long sleeved thin race shirt, winter Patagonia running jacket, gloves, wind mitts, fleece hat and neck gaitor. I had my iPod, Garmin 310XT and 4 gels. Lets' go.

Because I was feeling confident after running the 25K Donut Run I wasn't too worried about cranky recovering ankle. The road was plowed with a light snow covering. I'd be fine.  I didn't have any preconceived goal time. A finish was all I was looking for. Well, a finish and a few hours of fun run time.

There is just a good feeling of community as you run with 500 of your friends to bring in the New Year. A ball of humanity, running down the road. Misty eyed for sure.

As we hit the 3 mile marker I looked at my watch and realized I was running too fast. Slow down! This is 14 miles, not 5. I pulled back knew that I could run faster..might as well. So run faster I did.

I liked the course-and out and back. I enjoy being able to see everyone. I had a few friends running the 10K so it was great to hear Heidi as she ran toward me, yelling out hello!

I came to the turnaround and felt fantastic!  I couldn't believe it. I was becoming warm so pulled off my wind mitts and tucked them into my pocket. I was stopping at the aid stations to guzzle down a few 5 oz cups of water or gatorade. I was sweating profusely and could taste the salt upon my skin. I felt wonderful. It felt so good to open up my stride and actually run.  I was so thankful to be out running again.

As I came up to the half marathon mark I looked at my watch. 2:03. That's a PR for me. Crazy shit. I began to laugh and just enjoyed the moment. Enjoyed being with all of the other runners, enjoyed being able to run, enjoyed being in the moment.

I came into the finish line, blessed beyond belief.  Cheers to 2014. I got this!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

25K Donut Run

The Donut Day 25K is a fun run put on by Jordan Hanlon in Minneapolis. It’s free! Runners run from bakery to bakery and eat donuts…ending at a donut shop.  I  really wasn't sure what to expect for the Donut Run, just that it sounded like fun! 

I knew that there was a 5, 10 and 25K mile version. My longest run was 5 miles coming in. I ran a 5 in the AM and a 3 in the PM, I suppose 8 miles technically.  I knew that we were running through the Minneapolis area and stopping at local bakeries. Fun!!

The weather was forecast to be cold. -20F and -35F Wind Chill. I wasn't worried about that. Layers of good running clothing is all that is necessary.

We were starting at 800 at Lake Nokomis. I stopped for gas and had to wait for a train, before I knew it I was running late. I approached Lake Nokomis at 755 so opted to park in the pay lot so I didn't have to scurry around looking for parking.

I wasn't sure if I'd know anyone running. I walked slowly to Jordan giving the directions to the group  and was excited to see Maria and Doug nearby. Maria was running the 25K and Doug the 5 mile. I still wasn't sure what I was going to run. When Maria asked I told her 10 for sure, hopefully 25K, but still not sure. I'd see how the ankle felt.

Before I knew it we were moving. There were probably about 30 of us  in total. Last year there were 150 but the cold temps must have been cause for bail out.  I don't know why. Seriously. It was just a joyful time.

I ran by myself from Lake Nokomis to A Bakers Wife-at 4200 and 28th Ave South. This was only a few miles so I didn't go in for water .. or a donut .. I had to pee. Jordan suggested I go next door to the bike shop. It was very nice to use their warm bathroom!

At this point, so lucky for me, John Taylor and Maria were standing outside of the bakery, deciding not to enter, either. I was able to hook up with them and stayed with them the whole run. SO blessed!! SO excited to run with my two buddies again.

Maria knows the area well-she knew right where we were going to go so she just led us along. Our next stop was Glam Doll Donuts at 2605 Nicollet. We went Right instead of Left on Nicollet-I had a map in my pocket so a quick glance showed us our error. We trotted down to Glam Doll-I could smell the fragrance of hot oil and sugar as we approached! Glam Doll was a hoot. Pretty sparkly pink Christmas tree in the corner, girls all glammed out, a huge array of donuts, warm bathrooms, water for the runners. I downed a gel and a bottle of water here and noticed that
The end of my pony tail was a rats nest.   As I was trying to pull the knots out a kind woman, Lisa was her name, took out my pony tail holder and braided my hair. Yay!  I wouldn’t have to worry about it all breaking off.

Maria found a bacon covered donut here. I think they may be the new rage. We seemed to spot bacon pastries at each stop.

We began to catch a chill so headed out for our next stop: Angel Food Bakery. The route was so much fun on the way. We were now downtown Minneapolis, running past my old working grounds. I worked in the Piper Jaffrey building on Marquette, 11 years ago. We ran right past it. Ran past the Metrodome, the Guthrie, good times. 

By now the wind was blowing in our faces. The air temperature was -11F and the wind chill -25F. I kept warm. I was wearing a pair of heavy tights, the Skirt Sports pants with skirt, a tank top and two long sleeved tops, my winter running jacket. Two pair of gloves, a pair of wind mitts, a neck gaitor and heavy fleece hat. There were points where I took off my mitts but for the most part I dressed perfectly. I wasn't cold a bit. 

At Angel they had a tank of water with lemons for us. It was fabulous and so wonderful that I didn't have to carry around a bottle of water that would end up freezing anyway. Not to mention warm bathrooms with hot running water! 

I was blown away by the cake above!  Maria had a cronut here. A cross between a crossiant and a donut. It looked pretty cool.  I sucked down another gel and some more water. 

We left Angel and headed for our final leg to Mel O Glaze. By now I had decided that I was going to run the full 25K. My ankle was so awesome and I was so happy that I couldn't stop smiling. I ran at the mouth and caught up on everything with Maria. We listened to John stories-I have mentioned before that John Taylor has the most interesting things happen to him while racing. I can listen to him for a very long time!

As we were running along the Parkway we heard cheering and saw an aid station set up! Here Club Run had set up a wonderful aid station with HOT Caribou Coffee!  What a treat. We stood around, took pictures, laughed and had a blast..while sucking back two cups of coffee.

                           ?, John, Me, Lisa, Maria and Dan We ventured on until we hit Mel O Glaze, which was only .5 miles from our finish at Lake Nokomis. A quick check in with friends Misty and Thad, a glance at the huge donuts and we were on our way to the end.

As the three of us finished up the run I explained to Maria and John how wonderful it was to be out running again. I felt empowered, joyful, strong. Just how I want to feel.