Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Afterburn-Interval Training

So as I stated, I'm definitely on board with Afterburn. Alwyn states that the best way to perform cardio workouts to prevent from adapting and to rapidly improve fat loss is to interval train.

Interval training simply refers to a series of intense activity separated with short rest periods. This way you are able to exercise at a higher intensity without tiring, because you are taking rest breaks. You alternate the high intensity with lower intensity.

The wonderful part of this is, that as the body adapts, as you improve, the intervals become more and more difficult. The rest periods shorten, the intensity increases, you can add incline, etc. There is no end in site and there is no downside, other than they are difficult, which is actually a good thing :)

Today Topaz and I ran for 8 miles on the gravel road route through the wildlife refuge. My trail is still too covered with deer flies to enjoy. Both of the pools of water for Topaz are pretty much dried up now. One is completely dry and one is a mud heap. He lies in the cool mud (ewww) and drinks up the 1" of water that is there. It is gross, but he enjoys it, I guess...we get home and he jumps into his pool, thankfully, washing off all of the baked on mud.

Steve set up my free treadmill while I was in Vermont. Oh my gosh, it is incredible! As I stated earlier, I purchased a treadmill from Sears 11 years ago, when I quit drinking and decided to begin walking. I had no plan in the works to become a runner. I walked many miles on that treadmill, then became a runner, running many miles on my treadmill. Well, I purchased and renewed and renewed and renewed the service agreement on it, and this past March the serviceman told me he no longer carried parts for it, so he gave me a credit to pick out one of my choice at the Sears store. WOW!

I tried it out today. It's fabulous. I can't believe how they have changed in 11 years. Well, yeah, I guess I can. It has a fan built into it, a fan that actually moves around the air! It has heart rate monitor strips built into it, tons of display functions and workouts. It doesn't wobble back and forth when I run a 6 minute pace.

I completed the first session of interval training today. 5 minute warm up, 1 minute at a 9mph, 2 minutes at 7 mph, x 3 with a 5 minute cool down.

Now, my trusty treadmill told me this was an additional 260 calories I burned, a 2.4 mile addition to the mileage I ran today. I won't change my regular day to day 100 mile race training, I'll just add the Afterburn workouts - cardio and lifting - for some fat burning.

SADDLEBAGS BE GONE, I SAY!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Afterburn

I've been reading Alwyn Cosgrove for quite some time now. I check his blog every few days to see what new genius tidbits of information he is willing to throw my way.

This past December I ordered his Afterburn : Extreme Fat Loss Training program but didn't put the program to practice. I was deep into training for McNaughton 100 and wasn't ready to learn something new, so I continued the same old weight routines that I have done for 5 years now.

As I've been recovering from Vermont 100 this past week I've been reading, well devouring, really, the Precision Nutrition program and Afterburn.

Precision Nutrition will get it's own post. Suffice it to say for now it's good stuff. As for Afterburn, I couldn't stop laughing and nodding my head in agreement through the introduction. He doesn't write all that motivational, cheerleader, colored pictures, fluff. Everything is plain and simple. He states why steady state aerobics don't work to burn fat, he puts the 'fat burning zone' myth to death. Finally. He talks about metabolism and how to raise your metabolism while resting. Build muscle; yeah, most of us do know that, but his workouts are simple and effective. He talks about THE BODY ADAPTING TO ANYTHING. Bingo! Wonder why you don't lose any more fat while running mucho mega miles? Your body adapted. Which is a GOOD thing when you are training for an endurance race, and don't want to hit the wall, you want your body to adapt. But in fat burning; nope. You don't want your body to adapt to your form of exercise, it will become very efficient. You need to mix it up.

I love this. How many times have I had a runner or ex runner come up to me and say ' I began training for a marathon and it ruined my metabolism! I gained 30 pounds (or 7 or 12 or 15 or 21) I'm not kidding while training for the marathon and I can't lose it now. I usually say 'well, it wasn't the marathon training it was the PROCESSED CARBS you were eating, thinking you needed a 60% carb diet because you are a runner, in fact when you don't.' Then I get the eye roll and 'I so will never run a marathon again' well, whatever. So this is what Alwyn says ' I've lost count of how many times I've heard people say "I barely eat anything-I eat like a bird and I still gain weight" Oh, really. You are eating fewer calories than you need and your body is gaining weight? Impossible. This violates the law of thermodynamics. If your body was capable of producing body weight from nothing, then we better get you sent over to NASA or UNICEF immediately-with magical genes like yours, we might be able to solve the Third World's hunger problem." I LOVE THAT!

His program is lifting and cardio. The cardio is a plan where you NEVER do the same cardio machine two workouts in a row. Genius! You switch length, intervals, etc. over time so your body DOESN'T adapt.

The lifting begins easier, but is really hard as I found out today, and every four weeks it changes up, to a more difficult set.

I feel very well after Vermont, my body must be adapting to the 100's I'm running this summer (!), so after my run with Topaz I did my chores around the house and with the boys at the lake, I needed something to do. Well, might as well begin Afterburn! I went to the gym, with the Afterburn spiral bound book in hand and began my first workout.

First off was barbell squats. These squats take you all the way to the ground.Butt near heels. I have never squatted this way. I didn't load the 45 pound bar. 3 sets of 20 later I was toasted. All the way to the ground! I could feel my quads stretching out nicely! Have you ever done a "T Pushup"? I hadn't. Well, today I did. Then onto the step ups, seated row to neck, SHELC (supine hip extension with leg curl) that totally kicked my ass and I could only do 10 per set instead of 20. My hamstrings! Oh yeah. I've never done anything on a ball before. Then onto swiss ball crunch. Jeeze. Sadly I could only do 3 sets of 8 instead of 20.

My body definitely isn't used to this. I'm going to follow the whole 16 weeks and see what kind results I can get.

The cardio (EPOC-excess post exercise oxygen consumption) is on tap tomorrow. Steve set up my new free treadmill while I was in Vermont so it needs a test run :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Recover, recover, recover...

Thank you for all of the kind comments and congratulations. I appreciate it so very, very much. It's amazing to think how the Internet has widened our little world of ultra running; that we may only meet online, but still, the friendships seem so strong. Thank you to those of you that I know in 'person' that took the time to post a comment as well.

I'm feeling more like myself. The bloat of salt and carbs and water and whatever else is leaving my body. I was up in weight as high as 146 this week, today I am at 138. Pretty soon I should be back to 135. It sure feels good. I don't feel like quite the blow fish anymore.

I'm feeling very, very strong. Tuesday and Wednesday I wore a pair of my Inov-8's that are 1 size larger than the road shoes I wore during Vermont 100 and was able to get out and walk for 45 minutes, along the gravel road that Topaz and I have been training on so much lately. I was thinking about how the last time I had run upon this very road, I didn't know what my outcome would be. Had my behaviors lined up with my goal? Had I trained as I should have? Would I be here on this road a week later as a finisher?

Today I was again planning a 45 minute walk on the gravel roads with Topaz. I was surprised when I put on my Asics Gel Kayano road shoes and they fit! I was moving along a bit better, not quite so stiff this morning. Topaz and I reached the visitor parking area, I was able to remove myself quite well from the car and began to walk. Then run! I was able to run 6 miles and it felt oh so good. I didn't move quickly, just a slow run, working out any lingering stiffness. It felt wonderful.

Poor Topaz; one of the two ponds he lays in during our runs is totally dried up. He became quite warm, drinking water out of my bottle instead of his second pond. It's another 95F day today. Lots of heat here in Minnesota. I love it.

While I was running I was thinking about:

Lisa Smith, running the Badwater Double. Go Girl! Go!

My friends: Pierre Ostor, finishing Badwater in 41 hours. You Dog You! Our hill repeats at Buck Hill paid off! John Storkamp and Paul Hasse, crewing and pacing for him. Way to go you guys!! Congratulations!!

The two crew members that I saw along the route at EVERY aid station. They always commented on my smile, good nature and pink I was wearing. I saw them each and every station. I saw them at the award ceremony when they asked me my name so they wouldn't have to call me pink anymore.

Each and every finisher that Nancy and I saw cross the finish line. As we sat in our chairs, bundled in our blankets, we cried with those who cried, laughed with those who laughed.

The woman who crossed the finish line in 28 hours or so and DID A CARTWHEEL across the finish line and pounced up on her feet! I couldn't believe the flexibility she had. Then she found her guy, he lifted up her arms and inhaled each armpit, deeply! Wow.

Jamshid Khajavi who was laying in the finish tent as I went in to lay down and warm up. He is such a great guy, always happy and a great conversationalist. I met him at McNaughton this past April. He was yelling to the Doctor "Doctor, come quickly, Julie has runners cough, she needs help" I told the Doctor I was fine, just coughy after a long hard run. I never did need my albuterol that I brought along after the McNaughton episode. I hope to run into Jamshid again, when I feel up to a conversation!

The girl running in the wee hours of the dark morning, telling her pacer 'I have to buckle, I have to buckle'; her pacer 'You will, just follow my legs, look at my legs, follow...I'll get you there' He did!

All of the great aid station volunteers who laughed with me, filled my bottles, fed me and sent me on my way.

Watching Alicia and Tom cross the finish line. Crying tears of relief and joy with Alicia, Tom and Nancy.

The nice weekend we spent at Pond View Motel, Woodstock, VT.

Calling home and having Steve tell me that he honed his culinary skills by grilling steak, corn on the cob, potatoes and carrots on the grill. He was darn proud..and they enjoyed the meal. The boys were shocked that Dad could cook!

Showing Alicia how to maneuver up the outside stairway at the motel by pulling up onto the banister with my upper body, jutting my hips and butt out and making my way up like a crab. It works!

Listening to my fellow Town Board Members laugh at me at our meeting as I hobble to the bathroom and can't quite grasp what is going on, as my brain isn't quite recovered.

Coming back home and having Topaz greet me with wet kisses and a wet body at my car door. Tyler and Troy shortly followed and carried all of my gear to the house, and yes, they gave me kisses too. Not always easy for a 15 and 11 year old boy to do for their mother!

Watching Troy come into the kitchen with two gallons of milk in his arms. 'Mom, you left the milk in the garage. It's 95 degrees outside. You have ultra-brain' :)

Having Steve place my legs and feet upon his lap each night and rub, rub, rub as we watch the Twins game.

Oh yeah, life is good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

Man, I really don't know where to begin. What a race, what a weekend, what a trip. What great friends to share it all with.

We had a nice flight into Boston, found our Explorer for the weekend and drove into Woodstock, VT. I was surprised that the vegetation/foliage in the area of VT where we were was much like Minnesota. There were white pines, maples, birch and in the yards were hostas, day lilies, shasta daisies; it felt like I was at home although I didn't see any lakes, instead I saw the mountains.

I enjoyed arriving Thursday as I didn't have to begin feeling quite so nervous and didn't have to think 'oh boy, tomorrow I'll be running'. We had all of Friday to check out the aid stations, look at the course a bit, attend packet pickup and chill out. I needed chilling out. I was a nervous wreck, really. I didn't know what to expect. I knew I would be doing a ton of climbing and downhill running; were the ski hill repeats I had been doing going to be enough? I was afraid the answer would be no, but at least I had done them, I had been training on gravel road, for this I felt grateful.

Tom and Nancy were celebrating their 4th year wedding anniversary. They had ventured out to VT 4 years ago to be married and Tom ran the 100 while Nancy paced and crewed for him. They knew where to shop, where to eat, where some cool views were and pretty much knew the route, although it had been changed a bit. They took care of Alicia and I very well!

Tom was pacing Alicia and Nancy was crewing for her. I would be using drop bags with no pacer. I was hoping to catch Tom and Nancy at a few aid stations, it is so nice to see a friendly face along the way! This would be Alicia's first 100! My plan was first to finish, and if things went very well, maybe I could get 28 hours. Because I had never run in the mountains, I wasn't sure how my quads would hold out. I didn't know if 28 could be a reality. I'd soon find out.

Packet pickup just makes me plain nervous. The inevitable is approaching, I'm a pile of nerves and I just don't like it. We had to have a blood pressure check. I took a deep breath as she cuffed me. Wow. 104/80. She commented: 'well, you must not be too nervous; there are MEN here that would love that pressure' What is that supposed to mean? MEN? I was a bundle of nerves.

I didn't recognize many faces, however, Damon from the Precision Nutrition board was at pickup and we talked a bit. We even ran some miles together in the beginning of the race; he ended up running a PR. Good job!

Friday night we set the alarm for 2AM. I slept well, before I knew it, it was time to rise and shine. Here we go!

I ate my pre race always: peanut butter sandwich, banana and HEED. We ate, got dressed and were out the door by 3. Oh boy, the reality is approaching..

Race start and I was all jitters. I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to climb into a cocoon until we could run. I waited in line for the porta potties. I was freezing. I hadn't taken along a jacket or long sleeved shirt. It was 55F but felt chilly standing around. I couldn't wait to just begin running.

Pretty soon I heard 123, start. OK, we're off to whatever this race holds for us. Who knows? I had a flashlight with me, it was very dark, but the stars were out and they were beautiful. Alicia and I ran together for a while, then I had to stop to potty again so lost her. I just plodded on, thinking about what the day may bring, and how fortunate I was to be able to be here..in Vermont..running the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. There were over 200 people entered and like 40 women! I've never run a race with so many women entered. How cool. All of the training I had been doing on gravel roads and the hills, would it be enough? I hoped that my road shoes were a good choice. Most of the people who I had asked about whether I should wear trail or road shoes stated road. Too late to worry about it now.

I had 4 drop bags along the course. I had socks, foot potion, gels, cliff blocks and beans in each bag plus in my night bag I had a jacket, long sleeved shirt, flashlight and headlamp. I hoped that I had packed enough drop bags.

The weather was forecast to be a beautiful day. Mid 70's, low dew points, sunny with a breeze. Perfect for running. It had rained since we arrived Vermont but the trail wasn't muddy. It felt pretty good.

There were two unmanned aid stations with water and HEED before we came to the first aid station with food at 15 miles. I filled up my bottle with HEED at each of the aid stations. The sun was coming up, I was able to turn off my flashlight and get a view of what it was I was running upon. We were on a gravel road, pretty wide, meandering through farm areas. It reminded me of the gravel roads near our cabin on Lake Vermilion, much of the same type of trees, but here there were lots of farms with cows and horses.

I was wearing a new pink pair of Xy Weiss' gaiters and a pink top. I must have a dozen pink running tops. Yes, I love pink. Everywhere I went people would call me pinky! "Hey Pinky, nice socks", Hey Pink! Love your shirt"! It was funny. I'd laugh and smile and agree.

I was becoming hungry; I ate a Hammergel espresso each hour until we reached the aid station Taftsville Bridge at 15.3 miles. I was starving. I grabbed a PBJ sandwich and headed off as quickly as I could. I could see Alicia up ahead of me, but couldn't catch up to her. I was a bit worried as someone told me I was running a 22 hour pace. Shit; I didn't want to be going this fast. I needed to slow down.

This race is held with a horse race. They run the same route, beginning an hour later than the runners. There were 13 horses entered. They have to take mandatory 30 minute breaks and vet checks along the way. As they first approached me I became nervous. I didn't want to get run over, even though everyone said they were very friendly. Still. They were big. And fast. Eventually I became more at ease with the horses and even asked a woman if I could take a picture of her and her horse. I wanted to make sure it wouldn't spook the horse. She told me sure, if I could do it on the fly. I was glad I took the picture then, as it was the last time I saw the horses on the course.

The uphills were definitely long. I would climb, climb, climb, for what seemed like forever, then down, down, down we'd go. My legs felt strong, but man, it was early yet. I was worried for my quads and knees. Would they hold up on this flatlander girl? We'd see.

There was maybe a total of 2 miles of flats. Honestly, it was up or down. Just as my climbing muscles would tire, I could switch into downhill mode. I was enjoying this run very much, but was surprised at all of the road sections. It was almost ALL road. I was thankful that I had been training on gravel road and ski hills. Thankful I decided to wear road shoes. This was a road ultra.

As I was approaching Pretty House aid station, the first crew access, I was hoping that Tom and Nancy would still be around. Alicia was in front of me, so they could have already left, but since the next crew access was in 10 more miles I thought they might be around. They were! I was so excited to see them. Pretty House had a porta pottie I could use. Tom and Nancy had my drop bag ready for me. I grabbed some more gels, some cliff blocks and some cliff beans. I had some watermelon, grabbed a PBJ and was off to hit the trail. I felt great, but worried that I was going too fast. I was on 23 hour pace and figured I had no business being there. My goal was 28-to finish under 30 and 23 hour could kill me. I didn't want the end of this race to be a death march. I tried to slow down.

I was just amazed at how much road there is in this race. Even though I read that there is lots of gravel roads, even though I had on my road shoes, I still didn't think there were be so much road. I was also surprised that the views looked just like home. I could have been running in my neighborhood. The same perennial gardens, the same trees, it was crazy!

I felt fantastic. My worst section was between 7 miles and 15 miles, while I was worrying about being hungry and finding my groove and all, otherwise, I felt really strong. Nothing hurt, I didn't feel any hot spots on my feet, I was eating and drinking, all systems go.

I was wearing the Krissy (Moehl) Vest (thanks Krissy!) from Nathan and loved it! No hydration system, just a vest with pockets. It was perfect for all my gels, iPod, flashlight, etc. I used one handheld and that was plenty. I was sure to drink 24 oz each hour. I just don't like anything hanging on my waist. I was having zero problems.

The prettiest view ( in my opinion) was before the 30 mile aid station. There was a mountainous, grassy area full of clover with great look out views. As I was climbing, climbing the mountain and getting to the top, out popped Alicia from the woods! It was wonderful to see her again. We talked about how great we were feeling, how nice it was to be off of the road during this section and how pretty this view was. We looked around a bit and then began to run toward the next crewed access aid station. I was happy to be with Alicia, and happy to know that I'd be able to see Tom and Nancy soon.

I didn't have a drop bag here so I had my bottle filled, grabbed a PBJ, said hello to Tom and Nancy and goodbye to Tom, Nancy and Alicia. I headed out as they helped Alicia get set . I was still worried about my pace. The guys I was going out of the aid station were all excited because we were on 23-24 hour pace. I was happy that it wasn't a 22-23 hour pace anymore.

This next section was a ton more of road, I pulled out my iPod and rocked and rolled along. I felt so good. I felt euphoric. Then I felt afraid that I was so damn high, the crash would come soon. God, quite worrying, will you? Just enjoy! It was 17 miles to Camp Ten Bear so a good long time before I had a drop bag and crew access. I didn't know if I'd see Tom and Nancy, it depended on where Alicia was. I couldn't believe all of the road running I was doing. This was a road 100, not a trail 100 is what I was thinking.

My legs were holding out just fine. My quads felt strong, my knees felt great. I found that I'd pass people as I'd climb, then get passed as I ran downhill. I was afraid to let go and run downhill too fast, afraid that I'd hurt my knees or something. I didn't feel comfortable running real fast, bombing down the hills, I figured I'd save that for the last 20 miles!

OOOHOOO Camp 10 Bear and 47 miles in. I couldn't believe it. I felt high on endorphins. I saw Nancy waving and taking pictures and I was SO happy to be alive, to be running this race, to be feeling good, and holy shit, I was already almost half way done. Time was flying by! Nancy took off my vest for me, took my bottle and ushered me into the scale to be weighed. I was down 1 pound for the packet pickup weigh in. The Dr. asked how I felt: euphoric, high...wondering when I'll crash? He told me I didn't have to crash, just eat, drink, be merry! I was merry alright! Tom had my drop bag, helped me get my gels, a baggie of endulalytes and Advil, which I never needed (the Advil) during the race, asked me if I needed foot potion and socks, I didn't! My feet were fine! First time ever! I left the socks and potion behind, grabbed a PBJ, my bottle of HEED, Nancy helped me with my vest and I was out of there, enjoying every step.

I had been running with Joe and Terry. Terry from IL, and coached also by Lisa, and Joe from the Pitsfield races with Andy of McNaughton. It was really nice to run with these guys; I went back and forth, playin leapfrog with them until near the end of the race. They kept me very good company. Each time they would come upon me I'd hear "PINKY!" I knew it was them. I wasn't alone too much during the day. On sections that I was by myself I'd start up my iPod and enjoy the music. The views were pretty much the same during the whole race. I had heard how beautiful Vermont was, and I suppose it is, but pretty much what I get to see every day. Minnesota is every bit as beautiful although the rock fences around the properties in Vermont is very cool, very beautiful.

I ran road for what seemed forever and a day, eventually this long long downhill into Tracer Brook at 57 miles. I saw Tom alongside the road, wow, I got to see he and Nancy again! How wonderful. They told me Alicia was back a ways, but doing well, holding her own, that I was still on 24 hour pace. I finally let it go. I was no longer going to be worried about going too fast. Hell, maybe I could crack 28 hours? 27? 26? I didn't want to get too excited, there was so much race left. I didn't have a bag here so just grabbed a sandwich, a hug and kiss from Tom and Nancy and climbed and climbed and climbed our of Tracer Brook. On road. Again. More road. This was a long climb. Just as my climbing muscles were tired, down I was able to go. No flats here.

I got to Margaritiville much earlier that I planned. A line of spectators yelled "GO PINK" I laughed and smiled. I was having so much fun!! The volunteers at all of the aid station were so friendly, always asked right away what I needed, what could they do to help, etc. They were wonderful! I certainly didn't need my lights and night clothing. It was like 630 or so for 100K. I was wishing I had my lights at the next drop bag-where we run through Camp 10 Bear again. Oh well. I put my head lamp and long sleeved shirt into my vest, I left my jacket in the bag, I was warm in a sleeveless shirt and didn't think I'd need it. I filled my bottle, grabbed a turkey sandwich and headed out with a thank you, a smile and a wave.

As I was running along a guy came upon my, he told me the guys in back of me wanted to buy me a bottle of champagne. I looked at him like 'what the hell is your deal' and kept running. He kept running alongside me and said, no really, they told me to catch PINKY. I started laughing. Oh, it's Joe and Terry again. Sure enough, it was. I had been alone for quite some time so was happy to hook up with them again. They had a few pacers at Camp 10 Bear and told me I could probably use one if I'd like. Yeah, I'd like! Now I had the 24+ hour on the brain, knew I could crack 28 and knew a pacer could get me there. Heck, maybe a pacer could get me to 24. Yeah, I'd love a pacer!

Into Camp 10 Bear, Tom and Nancy were there! It was 730 PM, 15 hours in, at 70 miles. I NEVER anticipated I'd be this far, this early. I couldn't believe it. Nancy had told me earlier she didn't think they'd see me again. Tom was getting dressed to pace Alicia in a while, Nancy took some pictures, I was weighed-up like 6 pounds-and I headed out with the boys. Out of Camp 10 Bear was really pretty, there were rolling hills, pretty big estates with the horses, the big beautiful barns, the landscaped yards, lots of money in these homes. Very pretty. We ran along, eventually having to turn on our lights. It was getting dark. Two pacers came along with me, Terry and Joe. Terry decided to drop back, he was struggling a bit, so the pacer with him kind of came up to me, then the other pacer ended up pacing Joe in. "My" pacer hadn't run much before. His knees were killing him, he had to remove his inserts; I was amazed as I watched him pull TWO inserts from each shoe, then he carried them in his hand and ran along. Eventually I noticed he didn't have a light. I asked him if he had a light, um, no, he had a cell phone though that had a light. OK then. At the next aid station I heard him tell the aid station volunteer that he was done, his runner had smoked him. Oh well.

Joe and his pacer took off like two crazy men. I didn't see them again, and I couldn't keep up. They looked like they were flying. I kept hoofing along, it was late, it was dark, I didn't see hardly any other runners and felt very alone.

It was kind of spooky running along, all alone, in the areas of homes. It was Saturday night, I could hear a party in the distance and was hoping that some of the cars whizzing by me weren't drunks. I knew most of the traffic was probably crew people.

I was running a ton of road into Bills aid station. It seemed like to took forever and a day to get from 81 to 88 miles! I was SO happy to see people again, to have someone to talk to. I had to be weighed here, was down 5 of the 6 I was up. I stayed at the aid station about 3 minutes, then headed back out into the darkness.

Now I was tired of all this. I just wanted to be done, I was tired of being alone and carrying this vest on my back. My light was giving my a head ache but I kept telling myself if these are my only complaints I'm doing pretty fricking well! I'm 88 miles in, feeling damn good, insanely tired and worn out, but in one piece, still running, and holy shit I'm going to finish in the DARK! That blew me away.

I came into Polly's at 95.5 miles and couldn't believe it. I was still high as a kite, although a worn to the born, tired kite. I was shuffling, just telling myself one foot in front of the other..I filled my bottle, grabbed some gummi bears and said over and out, I'm on my way home. The aid station guy asked if I was going to try to crack 24 hours. I told him no, my goal was 28 hours. I'm golden with 25 hours, I can do 25. Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it. He looked heart broken for me that I wasn't going to get a buckle at 24. Here I am, telling him it's OK, a buckle wasn't ever in my plan, then I realized WHY AM I EXPLAINING THIS TO YOU??? I have a race to finish and no, I never wanted 24 hours as a goal. I shuffled on out, waiting to reach the 97.8 mile unmanned station. That was the next goal. One aid station at a time.

I was finally on trail. Sure, now I'm on trail and it's dark so I can't see the trail anyway. Oh, but I'm glad it's dark. Oh my god, I'm going to finish in the fricking dark, that never crossed my mind, finishing in the dark, I thought I'd get stronger with the sunrise, now I don't have to wait for the sun rise. Be stronger now. Wow. Dark at the finish. Holy frickin' shit. Oh a rock. A fence. A rock fence. I have to crawl over it. Oh man. Put my bottle down on the other side, heave the leg over and crawl over the frickin' rock. Oh my god, this is the ONLY rock on the whole 100 mile route. Superior is all rocks. Oh my god. Superior. Superior is so much more difficult. So much harder. All rocks. Oh god, 24 hours in and I'll only be 70 miles in at Superior. Don't worry about Superior now worry about finishing this. Maybe I'll do the 50 at Superior instead. I don't want to be out there for 38 fricking hours. Don't worry about Superior now, worry about finishing this! Ok, Ok, yeah, finishing this.

Here's Sargeant's! 97.7 miles! Oh my god, I'm going to finish before 25, I am! Here comes a girl and her pacer. "How can you run this without a pacer? I could never run this without a pacer" her pacer "maybe after I finish her, I can come back and get you" runner "NO YOU WON'T, I need you at the finish" pacer "oh, maybe not...." That was about the 10th person that asked me how I could run this without a pacer? I don't know..same as you..one foot in front of the other..

Where the hell is the finish? It has to be soon. Sure, nice trail and it's dark. Can't see a thing. It's steep. It hurts my blisters. I can feel them. Squish, squish, my legs are tired, they hurt, they want to be done, my brain is tired, I want to be done done done. Where is the finish? Bats are flying right in front of my face. Maybe if I sing they will leave me alone. They do!

Lights in milk jugs..must mean I'm close. I don't hear anything. God, I have to be done. I can't take anymore.

Oh my gosh, there is the banner. I'm done. Before 25 hours! WOOHOO! I scream WOOHOO! Nancy yells JULIE? Yes! I'm done! It's still dark and I'm done 24:41. Woohoo!

Nancy is there, she takes a picture of me, with her camera, with my camera, the timer guy is there and a girl and a few people waiting for their runners. It's wonderful. I rocked 24:41. Never in my wildest dreams.

Nancy wraps me in a blanket, I sit in the chair and talk about the race. Alicia is out there somewhere with Tom, we don't know where. Nancy gets me hot Ramen noodles, it tastes wonderful. My legs are already stiffening up on me. My body is done. The race is done for me. Thank goodness.

We wait at the finish line, wrapped in blakets, eventually I go and lay down in the tent on a cot. I tell Nancy if Alicia comes in to scream loud for me to return. I keep on having bad coughing fits in the tent and I can't fall asleep. I'm in my sweaty running clothes but cold. I never wore anything but my sleeveless shirt, it was that warm. Now I could use a jacket or something. I'm freezing.

I walk back to Nancy and the finish line, the sun rises, we watch the finishers arrive; it's wonderful to watch. To watch each and every finisher, cross that line, a changed person. Leaving so much on the trail, but picking up so much more of themselves.

Nancy gets me a Diet Coke. I'm too cold to take my unsleeved arm out of my blaket so she puts the can to my mouth and I drink. I feel like a two year old, but I let her take care of me. She's wonderful. It was so wonderful to have her at the finish line for me. What a treat. What a friend. I love her.

We begin to worry about Alicia and Tom, but know that Alicia is strong and determined, she will finish and Tom will get her to the finish line.

He does. Alicia finishes her first 100 mile run. What a celebration. We are 100 mile finishers. Oh yeah. Alicia was awesome, she is a 100 mile finisher.

There is a fabulouse post race meal. Grilled chicken, fruit, salads, ice cream. We eat a ton and are awarded our plaques. We are exhausted and ready to shower and rest. Tom and Nancy take such great care of Alicia and I. They carry all of our gear, get us into our motel, they do everything for us. They are such good people. They are so kind. We are so grateful.

What a weekend. What a race. What great friends I have.

I'll have pictures up soon. I took a load of pictures along the course.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Off to Vermont 100 Mile Trail Run :)

I'm getting antsy. Yesterday was a day off, completely, not even a measly bike ride or trip to the gym. The boys each grabbed a friend and we spent the day at the Bunker Beach Water Park. It was a great day to be there; hot and sunny. I love water parks, but it was nice to come back home to my quiet clean pool!

Today was 40 minutes of easy running and I'll stretch. I sipped a bottle of HEED to get the hydration/carb stores going. I'll stretch, get a massage, take it E A S Y and pack.

I haven't quite yet begun the process of packing. I do know what I'm bringing along. I have printed out the aid station sheet. Looks like I'll pack three drop bags; one I can use twice at Camp 10 Bear. We must go through it 2x. That's convenient. All I really need is foot lube, my potion that Juli Aistars referred to in Ultra Running. I smiled when I read "Julie Berg's foot potion". I had been conversing back and forth with her before Transcendence and told her about the potion. She was awesome on the Transcendence Races and didn't have a blister in part due to the potion. OK, back to packing. OK, foot lube at the 4 stops, lights at the night one with a long sleeved shirt, advil/electrolytes in each, clean socks in each and Hammer Gel Espresso in each. That's all I need. I've become quite self-sufficient. At Superior 100 I packed way too much stuff in my drop bags. Not this time.

It's taken more time getting the family ready that it will for me to get ready. I've cooked them super meals that are in the fridge/freezer, I've washed their clothing, I've grocery shopped for them and lined up their rides to football, guitar lessons and 101 other things. They are ready, now I'll get ready.

I'll leave here tomorrow AM around 345 to reach Tom and Nancy's. We'll hook up with Alicia at the airport. This is Alicia's first 100 (GO ALICIA!), Tom is pacing her and Nancy is crewing for her. Our flight to Boston leaves at 8, then we'll rent a car to drive to Woodstock, VT. I'm sure looking forward to it. We traveled and stayed together at Ice Age this past May and had a blast. I have never flown into a race before, I'm very excited.

I'm a bit worried about food. I'll spin a shake to drink on the way, Cherry Garcia of course (banana, yogurt, choc. protein powder, baking choc. splenda), and will pack yogurt and cottage cheese, frozen berries to eat on the plane. I'll bring along my huge coach fabric bag that is very light, but huge and if I pack a target plastic in there with a blue freeze bag and a ziploc of a couple of my chicken IV salads (chicken breast, spinach, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta, olive oil) I should be all set for Breakfast 2 and Lunch 1 and 2. I don't know what I'll do about food when I arrive. I'd like to pack up a brown rice/veggie/chicken meal and bring it along. Maybe I will. It wouldn't take up much space. I'm sure there isn't a huge CUB foods sitting in Woodstock VT for me to browse. Maybe there is. I'll check online!

Well goals..really, I just want to finish. I don't know what to expect here. Not a clue. Some say very runnable, irritating gravel roads; some say tough, quad thrashing hills, some complain of black flies and others never noticed the flies. I am just going to run and enjoy. I'll carry my small camera in my vest, take pictures, enjoy the sights. I'm thinking 28 hours shouldn't be a problem and less than that is frosting on the cake.

OK, over and out..I'll be home Monday PM with a report and pics I'm sure :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pool Cleaning for US

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Pool Cleaning for TOPAZ

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Fabulous Friday

Even though today marks my 4th week of summer vacation and the days tend to run into one another, Friday's still rock. It's pay day for one, the weekend is here, lots of time to laze around, a Twins game on Sunday, volunteering at Lifetime Fitness Triathlon on Saturday, dinner with friends Alicia, Tom and Nancy on Saturday. A little Vermont 100 party; what fun!

Today is simply stunning. Sunny, high of 83, light breeze, low dewpoint. Oh yeah, stunning.

My pool is dirty so I cranked up the heater, the boys are enjoying the warm water of 88F right now. All I have on today's schedule is cleaning the pool and moving rocks for my garden. Lovely.

As Topaz and I were running our morning miles it occurred to me that I should begin to taper. Vermont is a week out. I'm running 8 miles a day and going to they gym, stamping out 5 miles each afternoon on the stair master. I love that thing. It gets my heart rate up into the 180's and makes me feel oh so good! Not anymore now until Vermont is history. I promised myself.

I promptly returned home and realized that now I'll be bored for a week by cutting back on workouts, not going to the gym..well, maybe to lift upper body you know, cutting down on the mileage, both running miles and biking. Yuck. I don't know that tapering is all it is cracked up to be. A week is plenty I say.

I have been reading about Precision Nutrition for 18 months. Precision Nutrition, Turbulence Training , Afterburn and John Berardi. Renee first brought it to my attention. As it has taken away her food obsessiveness, it may just exasperate mine! It is getting tiresome logging every bit of food into exel and on LL as well as running totals of carb, protein and fat in my head. This is a very sound eating and training program, designed for the regular couch potato up to the athlete. On Monday a challenge begins an how I love a challenge. I had been going back and forth about purchasing the package which was $150 when I first learned of it, and is now a much more reasonable $90 with forum access and 101 other things, I hemmed and hawed and finally ordered on Tuesday. I'm patiently awaiting my reading materials. If I don't care for the program itself, I will certainly enjoy reading the material as I recover from Vermont 100. Did I mention that it is next Saturday? Oh, I thought I may have...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

After driving to Rochester for the past few days, I stayed home today. I felt a bit guilty; but Mom and Dad both told me to stay home. Tyler flew into from Orlando too, and I wanted to pick him up. He had a wonderful week in Florida with his youth group from Church.

Mom is doing well. She had her tubes removed today and will be released from Mayo on Wednesday AM. Thank you, God. She will heal at home for a few weeks and begin chemo. She'll take chemo in Duluth again.

The blueberries were magnificent and bountiful at Lake Vermilion this past week. Troy loves blueberries. I whipped together a few pies today. I've never made blueberry pie before. I'm selfish, I don't care for it, so I usually can get him to eat the blueberries in milk and sugar, in pancakes, muffins, etc. Things I like, you know? Well, he wanted pie so badly I made a few for him. They are cooling now, I'll have to take a picture before I cut into them for bed time treats.

I ran 8 miles with Topaz today. The deer flies nearly carried us off. I had a few wildlife sightings: a mama deer and her baby-laying in Topaz's' pool. We waited for them to leave before we approached the pool of water. Then I saw a huge ass bull snake. I threw a rock at it so it would go into the ditch and I could get past it. Ish. Pretty soon I saw all of the Sand Hill Cranes. They make the weirdest noise. I counted Mom and Dad and 8 furry red babies. They were squawking up a storm. I saw a huge snapping turtle too. Troy has two Box turtles. This snapper would probably eat them for a snack. It was huge. I'd love to have his shell hang up on the cabin wall, but I just couldn't kill one for its shell. I wish they would just 'shed' them.

After my run I went to lift legs. They felt pretty well rested and with 1.5 weeks to Vermont I figured I'd lift them a few times prior. Got some good numbers too:

Barbell Squat: 125x10x1; 155x8x3
Leg Press: 100x10x1; 220x8x3
Extension: 45x10x1; 100x8x3
Laying Ham Curl: 85x10x4
Deadlifts: 55x10x1; 100x8x3
Adductor: 100x10x1; 200x8x3
Abductor: 100x10x1; 210x45x1

Tonight Tyler and I rode bike for 16 miles. He complained it was too long. It was just right.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Off The Dock

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SHT; Near Temperance

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Troy and Me

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WOOHOO! Great Fun on the Water

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READY!

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I'm Getting Ready to TUBE!

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Boat Ride

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Timbuktu..where I park my car and we head out to the cabin.

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Summer Fun

I had a fabulous time at Lake Vermilion. Lake Vermilion is about 4.5 hours north of Big Lake. It's a drive, but one well worth it. It's quiet. There are only a handful of cabins on Wolf Bay, where we are located. We are on the less populated, Cook side. Tower side is crazy busy. We spent a day over there. I was happy to get back to our place. I have to have a cabin that is as quite as home, and home is pretty darn quiet! There isn't a road into our property so we have to park our car at a resort and boat to the cabin. It's great. We did a lot of tubing, fishing, boating, just having a blast. I had a very hard time leaving Troy and Steve behind on Thursday as it was sunny and warm and I've always spent the week up there over the 4th. They are enjoying the floatilla today- a parade of boats-and will return home tomorrow. I left on Thursday for home, so that I could be at The Mayo on Friday for Mom's surgery.

I had a wonderful time on the SHT; I was able to run the whole 100 mile course. Oh, wait, it is a 102.5 mile course. That's right! I broke it into 6-7 hour segments, covering roughly 50K at a time. It was cold up there in the North woods. I have lost track of days, but one morning it was 38F and the high was 54F. There was NO dew point, it was cold and dry. What a difference from the 95F and 70 dew point I am feeling today! There were no bugs, it was just beautiful.

I'm looking forward to going back up with a group of friends on August 10-12. We have rented a fabulous house on the lake. I can't wait. No, wait I can wait. I don't want to rush summer. Shortly after that weekend trip I go back to work. Boohoo.

OK, I need to head out to Rochester now..

Oh! Two weeks from RIGHT NOW I'll be running the beautiful Vermont 100 mile course. WOOHOO!

Best Case Scenario

Thank you for all of the emails sending your thoughts and prayers to my Mother and I as she had surgery for the removal of cancer yesterday. I appreciate your thoughts so very much.

Last night the surgeon gave Dad and I the news. It was better than we dared think; I guess a part of me thought it would be the worse case, then I would be prepared. The surgeon told us last month that she would lose a large amount of blood, that he would be removing any organ that showed cancer, that it could be in her colon, liver and stomach. Well, good news. Well, the bad news I suppose is yes, there was still cancer in her abdomen and her pelvic region, even after we went through this three years ago. Flippin' ovarian cancer. It's chronic. It's horrible. However, upon removal of over 150 lymph nodes, it doesn't look as if the cancer had permeated any organs. He left all of her organs intact and she didn't lose any blood. The surgery was an agonizing 4 hour affair, but she came out better than expected. Thank You God.

It was wonderful to be in her room last night when she finally opened her eyes. I gave her a big smile and told her she still had all of her organs. The cancer was only found in your lymph nodes! (Who ever thought that would be considered a GOOD thing?) She gave a big smile and lost about 10 years in her face. Fabulous.

So, after a week of recovery at Mayo, she'll head on home to begin the rotten course of chemo, again. But hey, it may give her another three or more years. So, chemo is then, a good thing.

Thank you again for all of your well wishes. Again, I appreciate it more than you know.

As for me...I'm off to Rochester..

Sunday, July 01, 2007

15=1/2 Way There!

Today was another Buck Hill workout. I arrived a bit earlier than our regular 12:00 start. I ran the 2.5 mile warmup and then headed for the hill. As I was carrying my cooler and stuff to the hill I saw Les and Cindy Martisko approaching. Les is a veteran of 100 mile races; Leadville, Superior, Hurt, to name a few. He usually runs 100 miles at FANS each year as well.

Les is training for Superior this fall so he is out hitting the Buck Hill. He and Cindy were just wrapping it up as I approached. Les told me that when he runs Leadville, the bulk of his running is done right there, on Buck Hill. We conversed a bit and then we were on our way.

As I climbed up repeat 1 I looked down into the lot, but didn't see Paul and Pierre anywhere. I turned on my iPod (thank goodness I had it in the car in my gym bag) and began cranking the repeats out. I drew a line in the sand and began to place a rock on the line for each repeat. I didn't want to lose count; you know, come up short or anything. I placed a rock in the line for each repeat I finished.

While I was climbing repeat 3 I felt someone approaching. He asked if I were Julie Berg, yes, I stated. He introduced himself as Steve Quick. I recognized his name from this blog. He left a comment after FANS. Apparently the Pioneer Press did a story on him and his quest for breaking the FANS men's record. He had a hard time and called it a day at 77 miles. He told me he was hoping some others would be running (mainly Paul and Pierre I imagine) so that he could prove he wasn't as odd as the article may had made him seem. I told him I hadn't read the article so I had no preconceived notions of him.

He seemed like a very nice guy, I was happy for the company and I'm sure he'll be back out at Buck Hill again. Steve ran 7 repeats with me, then a 2.5 mile run before he called it a day. He'll be at Afton 50K next week and wanted to get in a good hill workout before the race.

After Steve left I had another 5 repeats to make it to 15. Today was much easier than the past two weeks. It is so nice to see improvement in my climbing of hills. I don't gasp as loudly, my calves don't feel like they are going to pop out of my legs and my quads aren't trashed. I'm getting stronger. The 2.5 mile run doesn't suck anymore either. Yippee.

It's so much fun to see progression. 2 weeks ago 10 repeats killed me. I was sore, stiff and tired for a week. Last week the 12 repeats exhausted me, but didn't bring on pain. Today I could have done more. I didn't think I should as I had already put in too many miles this week and I am planning on running Afton 50K next week. After the 15 repeats I ran the 2.5 mile cool down and felt fine.

I remember when I was training for my first marathons. I would run 7 miles, was on top of the world. Then 10 miles, 13 miles, watching the progression and endurance grow was incredible to me. Pretty soon I was running 20 miles and I couldn't believe it. 20 freaking miles! I thought it was incredible.

The repeats kind of give me the same feeling. Watching my strength grow, watching the progression. It's fun.

Two weeks ago I didn't think 30 repeats was possible. Ever. Now I know better. My body is adapting. So is my mind. It's possible!