Tuesday, January 05, 2021

16th Bloggerversary Post!

 Ah, 16  years ago I began this blog. It's difficult for me to believe that 16 years have come and gone but they certainly have. I turned 56 years old a few weeks ago, we rang in 2021. What a year 2020 was. 

I had an absolutely delightful birthday week. Runs with friends, runs alone, time with family, 11 days off from work..truly delightful.

My body is healthy-I capped off last week running with a total of 65 miles and feeling strong. I haven't run that mileage since 2016 when my body retaliated after Voyageur 50 miler. 

I'm in a good place. I'm listening to my body. I'm spending time outside with those whose company I enjoy. That's living life!

Awesome 13.5 mile run with friends on New Year's Day. 

A fabulous vegan loaf of bread for my birthday gift :)

Friends on my Birthday run!

2020 was very difficult with COVID taking over the world, upon my family and friends but I've hung in there, I've trusted in God and am coming through on the other side. That's all I can do.

Cheers to 2021!  We don't know what it will bring, but we can continue to be kind and take care of ourselves. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Wild Duluth 50K

Wild Duluth lived up to her wild name!  A few days before the race the weather reports were looking dicey. Lots of snow, freezing rain and wind. It was going to be an interesting day.

Due to Covid restrictions we were going to have a staggered start between 7 -10 AM, only 10 to a bus, no aid other than water at aid stations. Masks at start/finish/water stations. I was so excited to be able to run WD again. So grateful to the Holak's for allowing us to run.

I spent Friday night at Fitgers. I usually stay at Fitgers when not driving up race day. It's quiet, clean and I can always pick up last minute supplies at Trail Fitters. I picked up some gloves this visit.

Saturday morning I headed for Bayfront Festival Park to make my 630 AM bus departure, for a 700 start time wave. It was a beautiful morning. I had many layers packed into my hydration vest along with a PB&J, gels, sweet potato and rice. I was all set. 

I lined up with one other person at the start and Andy yelled go!  Off we went. In the darkness I could see the big wet flakes slowly falling to the ground.

My headlamp was only necessary for 30 or so minutes. I removed it and placed it into my pack. I was very comfortable in fleece tights, long sleeved medium weight top and light jacket, gloves and ear band. I pulled up my mask when I came upon a few runners, passing. The sunrise was gorgeous, making the snow flakes shimmer orange. Beautiful.

Every so often I stopped to take a few photos. The St Louis River, the large pine forest, the foggy lake. Spectacular.  

I felt good. Well rested, strong, enjoying each step. I noticed the snow was sticking to the ground, alarmingly so. I thought with the warmed ground that it would melt on contact. Not so. It was piling up on the grassy areas, the rocks and the boardwalks. The boardwalks were pretty trecherous.

As I ran along through the day a few of the faster runners from the later waves would catch and pass me, but for the most part it was a very quiet day. I was deep in thought, fully immersed in a day by myself, running away from the world and it's problems. 

The snow began to pile up. 3" in total by the end of the race. 

I came into mile 16 and was filling up my bladder which was empty. I had drained it during the first 4 hours. As I was filling it up, Doug Barton walked up. He was volunteering while Maria ran. It was good to see Doug, a friendly recognizable face, even through his facemask!  Maria began an hour after me so I never did see her out there. That was the only bummer of the race-with Covid and all of the precautions were weren't able to see one another nor hang out at the finish. It was so good that they took all of the precautions though, so that we could race.

I said goodbye to Doug and continued to scamper along the trail. The freezing rain began to fall. I could feel my arms were beginning to get wet. I didn't feel like stopping to pull my windbreaker out of my pack. I ran on. 

The beautiful trail. My quads were starting to get tired at about mile 27, a few  miles to the finish. I reflected on how grateful I was to check out of real life for a day and just enjoy myself, running down the trail. 

Eventually I popped onto pavement, following the next few miles to the finish. I felt tears upon my cheeks, trying to hold back. I couldn't. I was so happy and feeling such gratitude.

Pulling on my mask I came into the finish. I again saw Doug (yay), collected my shirt and cup, gave a million thanks to Kim and headed for my car. I drove home, smiling all of the way.

No pain, no tiredness, no low points. Just one hell of a lovely day to run.

Up next: Chesterwoods 50K November 8.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

...And The Cholesterol Numbers Are In!

I have been struggling with high cholesterol/triglycerides for as long as I can remember. I have a strong family history of the same as well as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, alcoholism, you name it, I have it. 

In 2008 I began to eat a vegan diet. In 2014 I curtailed higher fat vegetables and oils, in 2019 I became even more strict as I began began a SOFAS free vegan diet. Salt, oil, flour, alcohol, sugar free. Of course, I've been sober for 24 years so the alcohol was really not anything new.

My numbers just wouldn't come down!  14 months ago, while I was at the clinic for my broken ankle my Dr. told me she wanted to run another cholesterol test. Arg. The numbers were higher than ever. My body is really good at creating all of the cholesterol it needs.  My Dr. was adamant that I begin statins. I respectfully disagreed with her. I have ultrarunner friends who have used statins and have had negative effects. I didn't want to go there. I wanted one more try at lowering my blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. My Dr. was not agreeable. I wasn't going to fill any prescription for statins and I wasn't going to see her for another year. 

I contacted Chef AJ, who has become a SOFAS mentor to me. She suggested I contact Dr. Esselstyn at Cleveland Clinic for a consult. I couldn't believe that I could just call him up but that is exactly what I did. I  called him up and he outlined to me what I needed to do.

He told me that for at least three weekly runs I should run them as fasted. This would allow me to use the fat that was stored in my blood. I should also lengthen my fast between meals, for the same reason. He suggested I decrease the amount of starchy carbs I consumed such as potatoes, squash, peas, etc. NOT eliminate, just decrease. I should increase the amount of non starchy carbs I consume. In addition to not consuming added fat or fatty vegetables I should add 1 T of ground flax to my diet daily. This would increase my good cholesterol. No nuts, no oils, no avocadoes as usual but yes to the flax. Also I would increase my sleep by 1 hour, practice meditation, massage, yoga, etc. in order to relax and decrease my cortisol production. I was on board. 100%. 

I learned so much about myself as I began to follow these steps to lowering  my cholesterol. I learned that I have a deep mentally hurtful connection to certain foods. I broke those connections, it wasn't easy but it was doable. I was hoping the payoff would be great. I followed all of the steps he laid out for me with 100% compliance and diligence. 

Yesterday I had my mammogram, blood draw, physical, etc. I nervously awaited my blood draw results to show up in My Chart. When they did I was SO thrilled!! My numbers came down. The pay off was great. All of the steps to wellness are now habits, I will continue on this path.

My cholesterol dropped 78 points, triglycerides down 90 and glucose down 15. Yeah!

My Dr. was as excited as I. She asked a million questions while talking with me on the phone last night and has set up a Zoom meeting to discuss my lifestyle changes. She didn't think this was possible. I knew deep in  my heart that I could change this path. I'm so excited!  Now hoping all of the other annual tests come back as well as the blood draw did.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Mindy Creek Marathon


A few weeks ago a friend asked me to join in the fun at a brand new race,  Mindy Creek Trail Runs. There would be a half marathon and marathon on the Ice Age Trail out of St Croix Falls. I was intrigued. As I looked further into the details I learned that each race would be held to 25 people, there would be masks at the start and at aid, the aid stations would be unmanned, bottled water, prepackaged snacks and gels. It sounded really great!  I entered and waited for race day.

Race day was gorgeous. I awoke early and headed for WI. As I pulled into the lot I realized that it felt as if I had stepped back in time. There weren't miles of cars, a zillion people, an assault of the senses. It was quiet, no lines..but everyone had on a mask and that felt kind of weird at first but quickly faded into the background.

We all kept our distance at the start and listened to Jeff give us the lowdown on markers and what the covid expectations were of us. We should wear masks at aid if others were around, wait our turns, etc. Just be nice caring people! 

The course was just beautiful. There were many hills, singletrack, woods, rocks, roots; but also gently mowed grass sections, mountain bike trail, etc. It wasn't very muddy, only a few sections-a beautiful course. I only came across a few people and I felt like I was running back in time to the early 2000s when a handful of people were entering ultras and knew everyone. I didn't know all of the entrants this time around but the race held that same old time vibe. I was running along the trail and was recalling my early races-how much I loved the peace and quiet, the anonymity, the newbiness I felt of it all. I felt tears of gratitude well up into my eyes and then down my cheeks. I realized I how much I missed all of that. As much as I know we needed growth in local ultrarunning, we need new people to build the sport-I still miss the smallness of it, the intimacy of the race.  I miss those people I ran with, I miss the small entry, I miss the wide spaces without anyone else on the trail. Selfish, right? It is, I know. I still enjoyed it immensely.

I took a small detour on the first loop. I was running back toward the start and noticed the two flags to my left. There was a mountain bike trail inbetween the flags and for some reason I ran inbetween them and continued on for a mile. Oops! I realized I didn't recognize where I was and that there were no shoe tracks anywhere on the trail. I back tracked the mile and popped out back where I needed to be. Crazy.

With my extra mileage I made it back to the start in just under 3 hours, tapped the start tent and moved on back out for my final 13 miles. 

I only came across one other runner on my second loop. I filled up my hydration bladder with bottles of water at the self service aid station, grabbed a few gels and moved on. The silence of the woods overtook me, I ran along taking in the beautiful sights of rock, river, lakes, so thrilled to be right where I was. I enjoyed this race so very much. It really helped to remind me how much I enjoy aided long runs by myself in the wilderness. I don't need the races for the social stimulation but I sure enjoy them for the long run and aid. It was a blast. 

Looking forward to throwing my name into Tuscobia 80. I ran the earlier versions of the race in 2009, 2010 at the 35/50 mile distance but never the 80/160 mile. It gives me something new to try and figure out!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Jay Cooke State Park Running

Jay Cooke State Park holds so many amazing memories for me. It's the start/finish of Voyageur 50 Mile Ultramarathon. I've run the race 10 times and have grown to love it so much.  Unfortunately, last year I broke my ankle the week before the race so volunteered instead and this year it has been canceled of course, due to Covid 19.

Maria and I decided to run a long run through the park, then out on the Superior Hiking Trail yesterday. We met at the visitor center, just steps from the beautiful swinging bridge. Our plan was to run 22 ish miles by running an out and back.

Jay Cooke has trails that link up to Willard Munger State Trail and to the Superior Hiking Trail . There are over 50 miles of trail and many water accesses. There are 80 camping sights. It's so beautiful and only a 2 hour drive from the Twin Cities.

We began at 715, not another person was in the parking lot. It was quiet and wonderful. The trail was in perfect condition. The day became warm, up to 88 degrees. We each carried 60 oz in our packs and I stuck another bottle of water in my vest pocket. It wasn't enough. I was salvaging water throughout the day but would have consumed much more if able. Maria ran out as well. We could have done with another bottle, which we both had in our cars!  We survived and didn't cramp up or have any problems.

Large frogs were rustling up the leaves on the trail, we couldn't figure out what they were at first. The leaves were moving and pretty soon we noticed the large frogs. So cure. Maria led most of the way so had to deal with the sticky spider webs across her face. I was stung by a  hornet in the ankle. Typical for Voyageur!   The river was low. The views were incredible. We would stop every once in a while and just look around at the beautiful landscape. Woods, bridges, sky...I felt like I was running from the darkness and into the light. Running does that for me. It empties me out, yet fills me up. It is my jam.

It really felt good to run with another again, it's been months. We stayed apart, were outside and not in close contact. We had a blast.

As we came back into the lot we noticed that every parking spot was taken. We had only encountered 6 others all day long on the trails.

After we finished we cleaned up and sat outside of our vehicles, caught up some more, hydrated and refueled with clementines and mango black bean salad. A great way to end such a fun day!

What a glorious day and beautiful run! I feel so blessed to be healthy and out spending the day just the way I love to. Never to be taken for granted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

This past week I made the decision to make an effort to run all of the Minnesota State Parks. There are 67 in my beautiful state and I can't wait to set foot into every one of them!

I ventured over to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park last week and began my quest. Kathio is an hour away from my home so I made the decision that it was OK for me to travel that far during the Minnesota Stay Safe Plan. As I pulled into the lot I noticed there was only one other car parked, that surprised and delighted me!

I had a very stressful week and realized I hadn't looked up any Kathio information before I left for the park. I once visited years before, before I had children!  It had been a while.

Checking out some of the trail map signs I saw that there were 35 miles of hiking trails so that looked like a good place to start! The trails were in great condition. The leaves were starting to open, there were signs that summer was eventually going to be arriving. Green grasses were budding, leaves and ferns were beginning to unfurl.

Running from the trail center toward Ogechie Lake I came upon two campgrounds,  the Touch The Earth Trail and then Ogechie Lake. It was beautiful, lots of rolling hills, well marked paths. I enjoyed the trails very much.  I was seeking solitude, peace and prayer and that was what I received. What a gift. Before I knew it 20 miles had passed. I was going to run the remaining 15 miles the next day.

On day 2 I knew where I was going to go. I wanted to check out the observation tower, and Black Bass Lake. Again as I pulled into the lot, nobody was there!  I was so happy!  I filled up my pack and changed into my trail shoes. Running along the trails toward Black Bass Lake it became very low and very wet. The ferns were amazing in this area and it smelled so rich - so fertile.

After draining the last of my bladder I looked down at my watch and realized three hours had passed. I was so deep in thought, I hadn't noticed time pass. I began to watch the trail signs and made my way back to toward the visitor center and the observation tower.  The tower was so cool. It is 100 feet tall and use to be a fire tower.

On the way home I stopped at Lake Mille Lacs to eat a packed breakfast of chickpeas and romaine. Yum.  I soaked my legs into the big round lake, walked around the shoreline trail and then was ready  to head on home.

I feel so blessed to be able to run for hours, in beautiful places. I do not take it for granted. I've been on the other side and know too well what that feels like. For now, I'm enjoying fully the feeling of traipsing down the trail, enjoying God's gifts.

Let's hope  that I can carry a bit of the serenity I was able to cultivate at Kathio into this next week!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Covid Continues

Well let us see, we are now 9 or so weeks into Covid territory.  My daily existence revolves around my home. I go into the office two days a week; a mere 7 mile drive. I work from home the remainder days of the week. I run out at Lake Maria State Park, 15 minutes away or run in the Wildlife Refuge, even closer to my home. I grocery shop in town, haven't ventured anywhere else. In normal times, I'd drive to Maple Grove / Minneapolis each week to run, to hit up Whole Foods and Costco. It's been 9 weeks since I've been to any of those places. I practice yoga at home, I knit at home, I bake and prepare meals at home, I garden at home.

Some restrictions have been lifted this past week.  Groups of 10 are able to gather while practicing social distancing. I won't be gathering. Clinics are taking appointments with precautions. I have an appointment June 1. I will wait at the car, check in on my phone, have my temperature taken, be escorted to the office while wearing PPE. Gyms are still not open so I'm using my home equipment which is fine. I don't see myself returning to the gym...at all. Home workouts are fine. Manufacturing plants have reopened, curbside restaurant pickup and delivery. No churches, schools, bars, concerts, etc.

We've become so divided. This has all become so political. It seems the Republicans want everything open and the Democrats want to keep it shut down. I just follow the rules. I am not taking chances. I will be as safe as I can be.

My races continue to cancel. So far the races on my schedule that I entered and were cancelled are Chippewa 50K, Grandmas Marathon, Superior 50K and Black Hills 50K. Chester Woods 50K  has been postponed to November. I'm waiting to hear on Voyager 50 Mile, Superior 50 Mile. Honestly, I prefer to have the Race Directors make the decision rather than me. If any of these races were open I probably wouldn't have attended anyway and since they are cancelled I don't have to ponder my decision making processes.  It's a good time to stay healthy, run all the miles and take advantage of all of my free time. 

I've set a goal to run all the trails of all the Minnesota State Parks, of which there are 67.  I love our state parks and there are some I have never set foot into. There are miles of trail for me to explore. What a lovely way to spend my time. I'll begin this weekend.

Covid 19 has thrown me for a loop but I am making the most of my downtime and enjoying that as much as I can.