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Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007..The Year in Review

When I look back on 2007 I smile to myself. It was for the most part, an excellent year. My boys are healthy, A Honor Roll, good all around kids. They don't drink or do drugs, they don't lie to me, they actually LIKE me. I've done something right with them, or I've just been very very lucky.

I look back on my year of running and I smile. I had a great year. Somehow I was able to run just under 4000 miles and I didn't injure myself. Somehow I finished 4 100 mile runs when not long ago I couldn't walk a block. Somehow I trained myself mentally and physically to pull it all off. I've never had an injury. Knock Knock!

After DNFing at Superior 100 in 2006 I was very hard on myself. I called myself a loser in front of others. I couldn't believe that I had failed after I had trained so hard. I learned from my Superior experience. I learned that I needed to be mentally tough. Tougher than I had been. I learned that I needed to run hills. THAT is what my training lacked. I sought out the experienced ones and listened to them. I asked 1000s of questions and they didn't turn me away. They let me ask more. Thank you Pierre and Paul, for getting me out to the ski hill to work my ass off. It worked. I thought I was going to freaking die after my first Buck Hill experience. But, as Paul promised, it made me stronger..week after week.

My goals for 2007 were to run McNaughton 100, FANS 100 with a 100 mile goal, Vermont 100 and Superior 100. I finished them all and ran 109.8 at FANS. Running wise, I also wanted to run Ice Age in less than 10 hours. I knew Tom Burr was going to run in 10 and I clung to him for dear life. It was nip and tuck for a while, I almost let him go and almost decided it wasn't worth the effort. But deep down, I knew it was worth the effort. I knew I wasn't going to die, I wasn't hurt, so dig down damnet and get the 10 hours. I did.

You would think that by running 100 miles a week and eating relatively (well, very to most standards) healthy I wouldn't gain weight. Alas, I did. I was eating a bit of sugar here and there, more carbs there and here, and before I knew it I had gained weight.

I was at my 'summer heaviest' of '07 at Superior at 148 pounds. At that time I joined Leanness Lifestyle Elite and again declared myself as a sugar addict that just couldn't enjoy sugar in moderation. It's the truth.

The fat is going, I'm getting stronger and actually growing muscle. At times I find myself rubbing my arms and am shocked at how hard and lean they are. I've lost 21 pounds and will probably lose another 7 in the next few months, UNLESS I lose strength, then I'll maintain where I am. I will not allow a loss of strength or endurance because of restricting calories in effort to lose more fat.


This week I squatted 10 sets of 12 reps at 160 pounds, I can dumb bell press 2 45's for chest, bicep curls on the barbell at 55 pounds, and run 30 miles in deep snow on snowshoes. I'm getting stronger and stronger. Now if I could have someone spot me at the gym, I'd try the 50's for chest. I'm afraid I'll drop them and knock my teeth out. I'll have to stick to the barbell and bench press chest.

On the down side, of course, there is always a down side: Mom's Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer resurfaced after what we thought was 3 years of remission. After a very extensive surgery at Mayo, another session of chemo, she is doing well. Mom and Dad are in Texas for the winter. Golfing, swimming, a 20 mile bike ride today. They are doing well. I'll see them during Spring Break in March when we are enjoying Padre Island. She's going to be OK.

On the down side, I could lose my job. The budget cuts will be finalized in February and my job could be lost. I will survive.

Lastly, as I have eluded to on this blog, I had a horrendous week this last week of 2007.

Steve was picked up for a DWI on the 22nd. Merry Christmas. Yup, it was only a matter of time before he would be picked up and it happened. He has some life changing decisions to make, as do I. I don't know what is going to happen, I don't know where this will lead us but it is the shit that hit the fan, it is the last straw, it is time for change.

We have never been sober together during our marriage. We have been together since we were 16 years old. We drank heavily, together, the first 10 years, then I quit..began drinking again..quit again...he has continued. We've never had a sober relationship.

I wanted to talk with my friends about this in person, before posting it to my blog. I knew I would see them today at Afton and it was so good to talk out loud about this. It was wonderful to see them, to talk with them, to feel their support. Thank you Tom, Nancy, Alicia, Jefferey and Cheri. I really needed you today. I'm grateful for you.

Many of my running friends are alcoholics, as am I. Many of us have dropped one habit, and needed to fill the time that habit took out of our life, with something else. Many of us have opted for running.

Please be patient with me as I sort through this mess. I'll make it. I'm a tough cookie and I will land upon my feet...running.

43 Miles for 43 Years

Yup, today is my Birthday. 43 years old! How did that happen? We all say that, I suppose!

It is also 3 years since I began this blog. I didn't know I would still be writing here after 3 years. I suppose it is my bloggerversary!

Last year I ran 42 miles on my birthday, so what else would I do but run 43 this year?

I had already planned on meeting friends at Afton State Park for a snowshoe run and a pot luck today and didn't want to make them feel obligated to run 43 miles with me, so I ran it yesterday instead, with my partner in crime, Topaz. I didn't want to let on before seeing my friends today that it was my birthday either. I just don't like people feeling like they should buy cards or presents or bring cake. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

Yesterday by 6 AM Topaz and I were running on the trail. The trail was covered with a few more inches of fresh, fluffy snow. The wind had created more drifts so I was trudging on through, again. It seems like that each time I go out there I am forging through a new trail. I do enjoy it though, it is wonderful having the trail to myself. Usually the cross country skiers are telling me to get off. Now that the trail is closed, I am the only one out there.

My plan was to run at least 20 miles on snowshoe, upon the trail, then run 10 across the lake and back, the rest on the gravel roads surrounding the trail, without the snowshoes. I brought Topaz his little paw slippers along in case he would begin to collect ice in his paws. I was sure he would run at least 25 miles with me, I could always run the rest alone.

The car was parked at a nearby cemetery loaded with water, Heed, gels, fruit, nuts, a few sandwiches, some venison for Topaz, a few milk bones. I went back to the car every 3 hours or so.

I watched Topaz closely, made sure that he was drinking water and eating. He ate some venison, some milk bones and a sandwich. I drank a ton of Heed and ate a ton of gels along with the Cliff Blocks.

Topaz never needed his booties. The temperature was near 20F all day long with a nice light snow. He never had any ice in his paws. He ran hard, then easy, then hard again. I just followed along.

After 30 miles on snowshoes I was ready to get them off of my feet. My feet seem to feel more tired on snowshoes than without. The bottoms ache after a while, like they are getting cramped or something. We went back to the car, I removed the snowshoes, put on a dry jacket and grabbed some dry gloves. Topaz drank some water, ate 1/2 of a sandwich and we were off for the gravel road.

Topaz is as well trained as I am. In the summer he sometimes lags as the temperatures get warmer, but in the winter he is running in front of me, circling me and coming back the whole time. He cools off in the snowbanks.

We ran out down the gravel road, to the lake access and back to the car. 43 miles. Done.

I ended up having an over 100 mile week..only 13 of it without snowshoes!

Plenty of time to think about this past year, the new year coming up, reflection and meditation. I have a lot to think about.

I came home, took a shower and was ready to watch a DVD on the new big screen TV I bought Steve for Christmas. Topaz, he chased the boys up and down the hill on their snowboards for another 2 hours. Guess 10 hours wasn't enough for him...

Today I met Alica, Tom, Nancy, Cheri and Jeffrey for a snowshoe run at Afton. The trail was groomed! What a treat after forging my own trails. It felt like running along a super highway. There were a few cross country ski tracks along the route, but we never saw anyone. We had a blast of a run. After a while we found ourselves back at the visitor center where Nancy had Caribou Mocha Java brewing and she made her waffles. She even brought along sliced warm apples in cinnamon. They were fabulous. Pierre and John had been pulling their sleds in preparation for the Arrowhead 135 Mile Winter Ultramarathon, but showed up in time for breakfast and Wynn showed up to visit a little while later.

A great way to start the day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tagged

I'm not a very consistent blog reader. I try to visit my favorite bloggers at least once a week, but many times, I am not even making a weekly visit.

Carilyn tagged me on her blog a while back. I have never been 'tagged' and wasn't sure what it meant. How lame am I? I was grateful that Carilyn left a comment for me, letting me know that she had tagged me.

As far as I can tell, the game must go as follows: a blogger 'tags' you, and you then answer the questions that a previous blogger (in this case, Olga) tagged them with. So now I am tagged and will answer the questions posted.

1) What is your most memorable moment in a race? I don't believe this means a race in 2007. I'll interpret it to mean any race at all. What comes to mind is my first 100 mile race, at McNaughton. I was running through the start/finish at 70 miles and Race Director, Andy, told me I was first woman. I told him "Andy, that is asinine, it can not be". He assured me that it was, and alas, I did come in first woman.

2) What is the best new trail you discovered in 2007? I think the ONLY new trail I ran on in 2007 was the 10 mile loop at Murphy. I did a 50K Dog Pack Fat Ass there in November, and it was fabulous. I'm anxious to go back out there.

3) My best performance in 2007? Well, I'd have to choose Superior Sawtooth 100, since I DNF'd there last year at 70 miles. I don't know that it was my BEST performance, but it was better than last years!

4) I do not know how I previously survived without: Hammer Heed and Hammer Gel Chocolate Espresso.

5) The person I would most like to meet at a race in 2008: My dad. We ran Grandmas Marathon together when he turned 60 in 1999. I'd love to meet him at a race in 2008.

6) The race I'm most afraid of in 2008? Leadville 100. I have never been there, I fear the unknown, but you know..I'll feel the fear and do it anyway :)

Because I am not much of a blog player I am not going to tag anyone. I apologize if I am a party pooper!

Halushkis

Steve Quick asked what halushkis were. They are a wonderful potato-flour dumpling, mixed with bacon and cabbage. They have become a tradition that I serve at least a few times a year.

Here is the recipe, then I'll post the pics. I grate 10 pounds of potatoes. It sucks. I hurt my knuckles and tear up my fingernails. But my family loves halushkis so I continue to make them! After grating the potatoes, measure them out. I usually have 11 cups.

Add at least have of the cups you have of potatoes, as flour. (11 cups of potatoes - 5.5 cups of flour, to begin with) I added 6 cups of flour, not dry enough, then ended up adding a total of 11 cups of flour. Sometimes it works that way potato cups = flour cups. I don't think you can EVER add too much flour.

Form into golf ball size balls. Add to boiling water and boil for 25 minutes. Scoop out of water and place into crock pot.

Fry up two pounds of bacon until almost crisp. Add two heads of cabbage, sliced up. YUM!

Add bacon and cabbage to crock pot and heat on low for two hours before serving.

Fabulous!

Moon Lit Beauty

I tossed and turned all night. Finally at 315 AM I was thinking: I could just get up and run. I could get in my 5-6 hour snowshoe. I won't be able to run long tomorrow morning. I want to be home when the boys wake up and open their Christmas Stocking gifts (we'll open all the other presents tonight), I'll have to prepare Christmas dinner all day tomorrow. It's crazy to get up at 315 to run. But I'm already up and not falling back to sleep. It can be a Christmas Eve gift to myself. I deserve it.

So it was. Thump thump thump. There was the Topaz tail greeting me. After a few stretches he knew I was awake. Lets go for a run, Topaz! I looked at the thermometer, 4F. Not bad. I walked out onto the deck, not windy. Only a -10 F windchill. Better than yesterday. The moon! It was high and bright, luminating our property. It was beautiful. Done deal, we are going snowshoeing. I can be showered and dressed, ready to entertain and prepare at 10:00. I need this.

It was wonderful, a bit erie in the moon lit glow. The trail was covered again with new snow and snow drifts in the open areas. At times the snow was up to my knees as I plowed yet another new trail through the woods. Topaz was leaping through the drifts, the snow covering his back. We were so happy to be out there in the dark, working through the snow covered trails.

At times I would hear something in the woods, motioning my light toward the noise, but never seeing anything. Very spooky!

I've run this trail nearly every day, since I purchased Topaz, 4 years ago. Still, with the moon light covering us, the trail looked like one I had never seen. It felt as though I were exploring a new trail. The shadows caused me to feel as though I were having 100 mile race hallucinations. Crazy fun.

Eventually the sky began to turn pink. Beautiful pink, purples and blues. Oh, spectacular. As the sun rose, the moon dimmed, a full moon, so beautiful, setting.

Spectacular.

Daylight showed me the trail I know and love so much. Topaz became a bloodhound, following tracks here and there. Eventually his hair stood up on end, he didn't like the smell of something. It looked like big wolf tracks to me. Pretty soon we came up to a mess of dead rabbit. Topaz thought he should have breakfast. I called him away.

I had a great morning, a gift to myself. 6 hours of splendor. Now I can give to others, and enjoy doing so.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

A little Christmas Carol for you!

Yesterday was a beautiful day, well a beautiful morning. When Topaz and I headed out on to the trail it was 38F and snowing a nice wet sloppy heavy snow. When I arrived home, 4.5 hours later, it was 21F and the wind was whipping. The snow was driving down hard and freezing into ice on the trail and roads.

I had planned at least a 3 hour snowshoe run, but circumstances caused me to feel much angst and I just kept on running. Running can cure almost anything. Luckily I had water and gels in the car, we just circled back and forth, getting a 4:25 snowshoe run in. I'd like to get in a 5 or 6 snowshoe run prior to the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon, but if I don't, no biggie. I'm ready (enough).

Today we headed out to the trail in blizzard like conditions. Snow was falling and blowing. The temperature said 4F but the windchill was -30F. That makes all the difference. Back to 2 pair of pants, 2 shirts and a jacket, mittens and wind mitts with a fleece neck gator and hat. Brrrr. I was happy to get in 2.5 hours.

I'll work my legs over this afternoon at the gym after I run some last minute Christmas errands. I'm having Christmas Eve dinner here. Our traditional porterhouse steaks, lobster and shrimp, venison stew, halushkis, cheesy potatoes, tequilaberry salad, lefse and Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake for dessert.

Merry Christmas.

Racing the Setting Sun ... and The Rising Moon

What a beautiful afternoon/evening for a run.

I arrived home, checked on the dinner in the crockpot: roast beef, added the BBQ, shredded it all up and made sure I had plenty of whole wheat buns. I watched the boys don their winter boots and clothing and head off to slide down the hill. Topaz and I headed for the trail.

The temperature was 34F! Wow, a heatwave! Only a earband was necessary, ONE shirt, a jacket and ONE pair of pants with gloves. It sure felt nice without all of the layers.

I strapped on my snowshoes and headed off toward the river, cutting through the meadows, following the deer trail through the thick woods. Topaz was pretending he was a deer, gracefully extending his legs over the rocks and snow drifts. Pretty soon he was following a group of 8 deer, his white tail bobbing along, making 9 white tails in a row. My goodness, the dog was in heaven, loping along with the deer. As he caught them, he turned around, looked for me and darted back as fast as he could. I was grateful that he didn't herd them toward me this time.

After a few miles we reached the river. I could see that small critters had navigated over the ice. I don't dare to cross over the thin ice. I called Topaz back, I didn't think he would cross, but I wasn't sure. We headed back the way we came, through the meadow, then the deep woods, following the deer path.

Pretty soon the sun cast a beautiful pink glow upon the snow. It looked as if we were under pink lights. What a perfect place to be.

I looked up, the sun was setting and the moon began to rise. Beautiful. I didn't want to be anywhere else but on that trail, in the pink glow, enjoying myself immensely.

What a treat.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway

After participating as a basic member of Leanness Lifestyle for two years and taking part in three of Dave's bootcamps; in September I decided to join his Leanness Lifestyle Elite Membership. Part of the membership is completing weekly assignments. I speak with Dave each week. Most conversations are a bit over an hour, some have been as long as 2 1/2 hours, last night was a quick check in of 30 minutes.

LL Elite isn't all nutrition. It's delving into oneself and finding out what is there. He is more a life coach, in Elite, than just a nutrition coach. My assignment for the past month or so has been reading Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway; Dynamic techniques for turning fear, indecision, and anger into power, action and love by Susan Jeffers, Ph. D

I have never been a reader of motivational books. I read every day, currently I am reading Beginning Italian and The Pillars of The Earth. I am enjoying both very much.

I was a bit reluctant to read this Feel The Fear title, just because it is something that I am unfamiliar with.

I was amazed by the book.

Dave asked me to read a few chapters prior to each conversation, highlighting whatever sparked an interest in me or whatever may 'hit a nerve'. I was highlighting quite a bit in this book. I was surprised at how many topics seemed to ring true for me, right now, where I am in life. Maybe if I read the book a year ago, other topics would have rang true as well.

For years I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Running has pushed me out of my comfort zone, it continues to do so, each and every day.

I first began to run when I read that Oprah was running. I read her book "Make the Connection" and was hooked. I was afraid to run in public. My boobs were a 36D and I didn't know how to keep them still. Walla. I learned I could wear 3 sports bras and they would stay in place. I didn't know about the Frog Bra or Title Nine Sports. I was afraid I looked stupid while running, so would run early in the morning, when nobody in my neighborhood could see me.

I was afraid to enter my first race. I didn't look like a runner, I didn't know anything about races. I was scared to death. I remember my first 8K. I looked at the runner bodies, the people who were in the Big Lake Run Club and was oh so intimidated. Yikes.

It took me over an hour to run that first 8K, but I did it! I was the last runner, but I did it! The fear was a bit removed.

And so it goes..each and every day I try to go a bit out of my comfort zone.

The author of this book begins by asking What is it for you? Fear of speaking, asserting yourself, making decisions, intimacy, changing jobs, being alone, aging, losing a loved one, ending a relationship?

I underlined many.

The author discusses moving from a place of pain, paralysis and depression (feelings that often accompany fear) to one of power, energy and excitement.

She discusses how to let go of negative programming, how to raise your level of self-esteem, how to become more assertive, how to make your dreams a reality, how to see yourself as having purpose and meaning.

She also states that the amount of improvement you experience will depend on how much you are willing to actively participate. Also, the more you get involved, the more fun you will have.

Through her activities, I've learned that pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.

One simple activity: My nutrition. I was scared to death at Thanksgiving to make the Pecan Pies, the Lefse, the Christmas Cookies, etc. I worked through those fears, and realized that working through them was not as scary as I thought.

Now, some of you are probably laughing. WHAT? Afraid of baking, afraid of pie? Come on, girl! Well, yeah. I was. I'm afraid of much bigger things, fears that I am not yet comfortable enough to write about here, but this is what was happening on that day and is simple to discuss.

I found that the outcome was not as fearful as I had anticipated. I wrote earlier about how I didn't fall into the sugar coma and how I resisted. I was successful.

I learned how important it is to surround yourself with people whom you look up to. Don't hang out with people you don't want to be like. For years I hung out with the drinkers, the drug doers. That was me. I was negative, depressed, I was not happy. I've changed. I now surround myself with positive people; people I would like to emulate.

The final chapter is titled "Filling the Inner Void". The author speaks of a "Higher Self", a Subconscious Mind and the Universal Energy. This was all new to me. She speaks of affirmations, how when you stay centered there is nothing to fear, how to tap into your inner self. It amazed me.

She feels that we all have the access to this intuitive power simply by starting to listen to the messages the Subconscious Mind is telling us. She has exercises showing how to pay attention to what you are being told and then acting upon it.

I enjoyed this book immensely, not to mention the great discussions Dave and I had following each of the chapters.

I told Dave I was wondering if all of this Higher Power stuff wasn't just hocus pocus. He doesn't seem to think so, and I'll give it a chance.

We all hold many fears, this is a book I would suggest to those of you feeling fearful.

On a personal note: yet another referendum failed for the Big Lake School District. We have to cut $2 million from our budget in one year. We cut $2 million over the past 4 years and have felt the effects in a huge way. I can't imagine what a $2 million cut in one year is going to look like. It will effect me in one way or another..either cut hours or my position could be cut entirely. I am not worrying about it, there is nothing I can do. I don't feel fearful over losing my job, but I do wonder what I would like to do? If I find myself looking for a new job-what will it be? I don't know if I want to commute downtown again. I loved working for a wonderful manager in Minneapolis, and could see myself going back; but, I find myself asking what do I really want to do? Do I want to do something with activity, something with running, is anything available? Coaching? Writing? I am not sure. This is one of my fears: not following my dream. Not being true to myself. Could I turn my passion into a career? I would LOVE to coach beginning marathoners.. beginning ultra runners..I would like to write a book. That is what I am currently asking myself now, as well as WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP??

I'll just Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

Lake Harriet 50K Fat Ass

Snowboarding left me a bit stiff in the ankles today, along with a sore butt!

Today was the 14th Annual Lake Harriet 50K Fat Ass. There isn't a whole lot of racing or group runs going on in Minnesota during the winter. When I was first invited to this run 4 years ago I was thrilled. I have been thrilled each December since! I love this run.

Tom A and Carol Z sent out an invitation a few weeks ago reminding me of the FA today. I immediately responded that I would be in attendance, and would be up for the full 50K. I must say, I was a bit curious as to how the running would be since joining the Elite membership at LL. I wasn't going to change my pre run diet at all, nor my post run. I was planning on eating gels, Heed, the regular ultra food, however, during my run.

We met at the Lake Harriet Band Shell at 800 AM, for the 815 start. Tom had me fill out the obligatory sign up sheet and waiver. I was going to run 50K, I believe 4 of the guys were running 50K. Some were running 24 miles, 20 miles, and everything in between.

I recognized most of the faces; I introduced myself to a woman and she responded that she was Kelly Keeler. My jaw dropped. I don't hide what I'm thinking very well. I was thinking "holy shit. Kelly Keeler. Minnesota Runner of the Year. PR marathon of 242; PR Masters Marathon 243. holy shit." Instead I said "I certainly recognize your name, it's nice to meet you". Wow. Shit. Wowshit.

Her husband, Jim Ramacier, another incredible runner, who runs ultras as well, came up and asked if I had been entered in the 100K at Ed Fitz. I told him yes, and that I was disappointed that they had cancelled the race. Someone came up and asked how my 100s were going. I said 'well, I entered 4 this past summer and I finished 4, so they went well!'

Kelly asked about the 100's, Jim stated "i haven't yet run a 100" and I found myself acting very strangely in front of these two. I began to say things like this "well, you are very fast, I run them very slow..it took me 24 hours to run 100 at Vermont at 35 hours at Superior! You guys would probably run them in 16 hours." And I continued on, making excuses for my races, telling them that I wasn't fast, that they were fast and I found I couldn't accept their recognition that I ran well. It was very odd. I didn't even realize that I was doing this until I was running the last few laps alone, then it dawned on me, and I began to wonder why I acted this way? I am proud of my accomplishments, really, I know that I am. In front of Kelly and Jim, I felt like I wasn't. I'll have to think on this one some more.

Anyhow, Kelly was running 24 miles and Jim the 50K-he finished first. I didn't see Kelly out around Harriet at all. She was probably flying via legs!

Tom gave us the lowdown: Begin at the bandshell, run up to Queen Ave S, through the Linden Hills area, to Bob's house. Check in on the board with time, back to the Lake Harriet Bandshell, around the lake, up to Bob's. Repeat 7 times. On final lap, up to Bob's down to Bandshell, up to Bob's and check out on paper at the Bandshell for final 50K. Got it!

Tom said GO and off we went! The check in house had all the ultra foods available. We went into the back porch where Powerade and water were available as well as pretzels, M&M's chips, Cliff Blocks, Salted Nut Rolls, etc. I stuck to gels, Blocks and Hammer Heed. Each lap I wrote in my time.

E Fisher Drew and Jan O Brien waited for me to start out with. We ran a good 10 miles together. I had a great time chatting with E and Jan. E spoke of this blog, and stated that I make her laugh! It was fun to get a reader's view. Jan has run Leadville once and Western States twice; E has been at Leadville pacing or crewing many times. We had a lot to talk about!

After 10 miles or so I picked up the pace and headed out. I had a blast. I felt great the whole time; I was amazed I wasn't bored with the Lake Harriet loops. I shouldn't have been, loops never bore me! I smiled openly at the Border Collies on leash. I saw 3 of them with different owners. One gal stopped and said "do you have one" I responded yes. She said she knew I did because every time she passed by I smiled and laughed. She told me she saw love and joy in my eyes! How cool.

I ran up to the check in house one final time, wrote in my time, grabbed a finishers award that Tom made. He runs near the Canterbury Downs Horse Race Track. Our award was a mounted horse shoe! I ran the final stretch carrying my award and bottle. Final check off at the Bandshell and the run is done. I was the third finisher of the 50K. Jim finished first, then Doug Thomas. E finished the 50K in 553. Great run, E! I know that Les Martisko was running 50K as well. He had one loop left and finished in 653. Woohoo!

My final finish time was 531. Not bad for a 50K! The footing was very good, a bit icy in spots, but not bad at all. I really enjoyed this run.

My intent was to stop by Dunn's Brothers for a coffee with the group at the end of the run. E was just finishing up her run. Carol and Tom were going to Dunns and E and John would be meeting them there. I was planning on it, too.

I began driving toward Dunn's. My goodness, I had passed it 17 times during the run, and guess what? I took a wrong turn from the lake, ended up on a one way and didn't know where the hell I was. Eventually I found Calhoun and made my way to Hennepin on homeward. Sorry that I missed out on a fun visit, ending the great day.

Thanks again for the invite!

Snowshoe, Snowboard, Run; Repeat

It's been a week since I've blogged! Many of my monthly meetings were rescheduled to last week and next week because of the Holiday's. It seems I have a meeting every night. After next week I'll have a nice break during Christmas to the New Year. I'm going to go into work a few days, but not all. Yippee!

Topaz and I snowshoed most evenings on the Blue Hill Trail. My treadmill broke while running a 613 mile on Monday morning; not a pretty sight. The repair man is going to take a look at it tomorrow. I ended up having to get up even earlier during the week to get to the gym for my AM treadmill wake up call. I'm glad I switched gyms last winter. I am a member of Anytime Fitness and it is only 7 miles away. Perfect!

Yesterday I woke up bright and early so that I could get in 3 hours of snowshoeing before snowboarding. Topaz had a field day chasing my flashlight beam. What in the world is going through his crazy dog brain? I would flash in way ahead of us, into the trees and he'd take off like a rabbit, chasing the light. Crazy.

There was no wind yesterday morning, and at -5 it felt great. The wind makes a huge difference.

After snowshoeing the boys and I headed for Powder Ridge. We bought them snowboard packages for Christmas. I caved in and let the use them yesterday. It just didn't make sense to rent again, when the equipment is at home..waiting for Christmas. We'll go again next weekend, more money for rentals. Yeah, I caved. I rent my equipment. The past few years I have only gone half a dozen times.

Yesterday was Troy's first time on the slopes. He has practiced on a smaller board quite a bit in our back yard, but never at a ski hill and never on a 'real' board.

I suggested Troy and I take lessons, he was too proud for that. I took a refresher lesson and Tyler showed Troy how to get on lift, how to stop, fall, etc. By the time my lesson was finished Troy and Tyler were carving up the slopes. I can't believe how quickly Troy caught on.

The instructor told me he has never given a lesson to a 42 year old Mom. Well, come on! Where are the Mom snowboarders? Where are the 40 year old snowboarders? I couldn't believe it! When I looked around..I believed it.

After 2 hours I needed to leave them behind and go to St Cloud for a hair appointment. I returned a few hours later, they were ready to call it a day.

There is a woman's beginner snowboard group instruction offered at Powder Ridge. They meet on Wednesday nights. I'd love to go! Anyone interested? I'll pick you up on the way!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

10 Degrees Does Make a Difference

Today when Topaz and I headed off toward the trail it was -5F. The wind was blowing, the weather man stated the wind chill was -20F. Yesterday he said it was -35F. I have always figured anything below 0 is cold, it didn't matter how far below 0.

I was wrong. Again.

Today my butt didn't freeze. Today I was able to run 3 hours on snowshoes without wanting to cry because my thumb was froze and my butt was an iceberg. Today Topaz didn't have to stop and eat ice chunks out of his paws. Today my neck gaiter wasn't a solid chunk of frozen snot. Today the snow didn't squeak quite as loudly as I ran upon it.

Today I didn't have to quit after 2 hours. 10 degrees does make a difference.

The snowshoe marathon, yes, a marathon run upon snowshoes, is January 19. It typically takes me around 6 hours to complete. I must say, it feels very good to be training for something again. My plan is to run upon snowshoes 4 hours next Saturday, I have a 50K on road for Sunday. The following week I'll get a 5 hour snowshoe run and then I'll figure I'm ready for the marathon.

It's a blast of a race. Held in Duluth, at Lester Park. There is a 10K, 1/2 marathon and marathon. The post race party is held at Fitgers, we have a pizza party, a ton of prizes for drawing and oh, I won a kayak two years ago. Cool.

This week, even with the cold temps and slow snowshoe running, I was able to get in 69 miles. This next week is filled with meetings, Christmas celebrations, a choir concert, etc. I'll probably have to run two - a - days on treadmill for a few days and then hit the trail Saturday, the 50K on Sunday.

Now I'm headed off to the gym for a session on legs and then to finish up Christmas shopping. Tyler is going to install a router for his XBOX 360 Live and hopefully he doesn't screw up my Internet. We'll see.

Have an awesome week.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ice. Berg. Ice Berg

On a beautiful, sunny, hot and humid day last June I was running hill repeats at Buck Hill. It was fabulous. It was 92F, it was noon, the sun was high, the humidity was stifling. I was in my glory.

John Storkamp called me Ice Berg. "Ice Berg, your new name, you stay cool as ice".

I thought of that today as I felt like an iceberg, chugging down the trails in the sub 0 temperatures.

The air temperature as I headed out the door was -14F. Yeah, that's a minus in front of the 14. The wind was whipping the oaks and blue spruce as I backed out of the driveway.

Brrrr. As I was pumping gas this morning I heard "Julie. You are not running today. Really. Are you?" I looked up. "Oh, hi Rich, yeah, I have my snowshoes in the car along with Topaz, I'm headed out to the Blue Hill Trail". Rich is the father of one of Tyler's very good friends. I received the glazed over eye look of shock. "Won't your lungs freeze?" How insane is that? "No, my lungs are nice and cozy deep in my chest, surrounded by skin, bone, tissue and fat; I would worry more about my fingers, my butt, my feet, Topaz's' paws." "Oh. Yeah".

My butt did get cold, even though I had on three layers of pants. My feet were warm and toasty in a pair of neoprene socks, covered by a heavy pair of socks made from wool. I wore my gortex Inov-8's.

The snow squeaks when it is this cold. I could barely hear the deer; my Turtle Fur neck gaiter was pulled up over my ears, my hat was pulled down over my ears. All I could hear was the loud squeak of the snow.

Topaz stopped a few times to chew at the ice in his paws. He gets a triangle of ice wedged up into each paw pad. I just ordered him some booties from a sledding outfit in Ontario. I don't know if he'll wear them our not, but I'll give them a whirl.

We ran for 2 hours. The first hour was retracing trail that I had already broken through. The second hour was breaking new trail. Man, that's hard work. I kept warm for the most part; except for my butt. I suppose the fattiest areas are the coldest. No warm muscle working hard there. Just fat taking up space, doing nothing but making me cold!

I don't really become too cold until I stop, take off my snowshoes and begin to drive home. On the way home, the chill sets in. I came in the house, stripped out of my wet cold clothes into shorts and a sports bra and ran on the treadmill for an hour. I warmed up quickly!

Later we're having dinner out for Tyler's birthday. I think he had decided on Bucca Di Beppo. I am going to order whatever I want from the menu. I haven't had a high calorie meal in 8 weeks.

Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow Shoe Run Fun !

On Saturday Big Lake received approximately 5" of snow. It was the first snowfall of the year. On Sunday we (Topaz and I ) broke trail for a few hours, enjoying the first snow shoe run of the year. Last night we (Topaz and I) hit the trail again for an hour and a half.

Today it began snowing around noon and it is still snowing! All day long I was excited to get out in the snow. Yes, I'm the one who likes running in the heat of the day, who doesn't like winter. Well, this winter I'm turning a new leaf. I am telling myself I LOVE winter. I LOVE snowboarding, I LOVE snowshoe running, I LOVE snow. SO, yeah, I was excited all day long for the snowshoe run on the trail.

As I walked into the house after work, I thought about preparing dinner, youth group tonight, the two pans of Special K Bars I need to bake, Tyler's birthday cake I need to begin, etc. and thought maybe I'd scratch my second workout of the day. When I told the boys what I was thinking they looked at Topaz and said 'ah, Mom, Topaz would be so sad not to run in the snow tonight'. I looked at his sad little face, watched the boys bundle into their winter clothes to slide down our hill, saw the turkey stew I had prepared this morning and placed into the crock pot, and decided to hit the road to the trail. Driving was horrible, it took me 25 minutes to get to the trail. But ah, was it worth it!

The snow was wonderful! All of my trail blazing was covered with fresh snow. It was peaceful, still and white. Oh, a lot of hard work too! Foraging through drifts and new fluffy snow can be exhausting! I was soaking wet from sweat and decided tomorrow I will be wearing one shirt, not two. I think I'll even strap on my heart rate monitor to see what I'm hitting. It's up there.

For some reason the deer don't hear us as well with the snow cover. Maybe crunching on the dirt trail is much louder than snowshoeing, maybe the snow blankets some of the sound Topaz and I make..I'm not sure the reason, but the deer are right near the trail and we are almost on top of them before they scamper off. It's amazing. Today I saw two owls and a bald eagle that scared me to death. It was eating a carcass of something gross near the river. I don't like birds.

While we were running toward the car I realized my face was sore. I then realized that it was because I was smiling and laughing so much. I was totally enjoying myself! My face was aching with joy.

Topaz and I ran for 90 minutes, by the time we arrived back to the car it was dark.

I'm sure glad I decided to hit the trail today! So it Topaz :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Muscle Questions

I receive quite a bit of email as a result of what I post on this blog. At first all of the questions made me uncomfortable, as I am not an expert, by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to muscle building, running or nutrition. I AM, however, an expert on what works for me.

When I began the Leanness Lifestyle program two years ago and cut my processed carbs to almost nothing, but still eating 150 or so grams of carb a day, via veggies, oats and fruits, and 150 grams of protein via lean meats, many emails were sent to me voicing concern over my nutrition. Whew! That was a very, very long sentence. If I had the time, I would correct it. But I don't and this is just an informal blog entry. Anyhow, many were concerned that I wouldn't be able to run long distance by eating a 40/40/20 diet and by cutting my calories I would lose any muscle I had.

That didn't happen. I actually built muscle these past two years as I lost fat. Of course during the past winter and summer I added back some, not many, of the processed carbs (a pasta, a bread serving..yes A), some sugar, I kept my calories as the SAME range, was running the same mileage, was lifting 3x a week as I have for the past years and bammo..increase of 10-15 pounds.

Since September I have again cut the processed carbs from my diet. I have cut sugar. I am eating on average 1500 calories a day, of course during races I am eating much more and I am eating PBJ sandwiches, gels, carbo drinks, calories as high as 4000, but when running my average daily mileage of 7-10 miles and lifting 3x a week I am eating 1500 calories, approximately 150 grams of carb from fruits, veggies and an oat serving and 150 grams of protein from lean meats/egg whites.

I have lost fat, I haven't lost strength, my muscles look strong, I am not weak. I haven't lost any endurance; actually my workouts are stronger than ever and I'm lifting heavier than ever.

When I read in Runners World that a runner should eat a diet of 60/70% carb, 15 % protein and 15% fat I want to scream. I ate that way when I first began to run and I was a ball of dough, and became even doughey-er, thank you Liz Applegate. It does NOT work for everyone.

Again, I am not an expert on nutrition and ultra running. I am an expert on WHAT WORKS FOR ME. Maybe it will work for other people out there that feel like balls of dough?

Yesterday I was at the gym completing a push up/pull up session. A woman came up to me and remarked on my weight loss. I told her thank you for noticing and she told me she is following a program from Bodybuilding.com and that she is in a 'muscle building phase' and that she is afraid she will lose any muscle by completing any cardio. Well, this woman is a good 40 pounds overweight. She couldn't figure out why I haven't run off all of my muscles. She is SO SURE that cardio will eat her muscle that is under that 40 pounds of fat. WTF? I nicely told her what works for me: lean protein, veggies and fruits. Well, she heard that the fruit in the sugar will add fat as does white sugar. Oh man. I talked with her for over an hour and I don't think anything I say penetrated into her brain. She is sure that she needs to eat 1800-2400 calories a day to lift 3x a week, per bodybuilding.com program, and 10-15 minutes light walking before lifting. Well, that's a great start, but she has been following this for 3 months..guess what..she's gained weight, but she is sure it is muscle.

Thank you for those of you that asked me to post pictures. I guess if Renee can, I can too :)

See, I'm not starving. My body isn't cannibalizing my muscle. I'm doing very, very well, thanks.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

No Western States..No Grand Slam :(

I, along with 1000 others, did not gain entry to the WS 100 mile run for 2008. BUMMER. I was really feeling lucky, my training has been spot on, I am ready to give it a go.

But, hey, I'll be ready next year or the year after, too. There are many other races out there.

I'm glad to be able to plan my races for 2008. I'll begin with the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon, in Duluth, in January. February brings the Psycho Wyco 50K in Kansas. March..hmm..don't know, I'll have to find something. April is McNaughton 100, of course. May is Superior 50K in Lutsen. Instead of Ice Age, which I ran last year, I'm heading up north. My family actually likes the Superior races and will come along with me. The race only takes 6 hours so I still have plenty of hiking/swimming family time. June brings FANS for 100+ and July will bring the Afton 50K and something else. August I'm going to run Leadville. Maybe I can get my family to do a car trip to Colorado with me. September I'll head back on over to Superior and better my 35 hours for the 100. The three weeks recovery time between Leadville and Superior will give me a good taste of the Slam when I'll be running Leadville and Wasatch. I might head down south to AZ in October and run the Javelina Jundred. We'll see. I'd like to better my 4 100's this past summer to 5 100's for next summer.

Congratulations to all of those that were selected in the WS lottery and a big congrats to MN's own Al Holtz and Joe Lovett who are going! I was hoping to join Al in the Grand Slam, well, not this this year, but maybe next year!