Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fogged In

After I awoke this morning and looked out the window, I assumed I was having another nightmare about flying. I hate flying. I thought I was probably dreaming I was again in the airplane, freaking out, heading into clouds, on my way to Jamaica.

Not so.

I couldn't see a thing out my bedroom window. It looked as if our home had been placed inside a marshmallow; all white and thick.

It was too early for the newscasts to show if Big Lake had a late start or cancelation, so I just prepared for the work day per usual. Before I awoke the boys, however, the notice was there: 2 hour late start for Big Lake. Awesome!

I cleaned house, finished up laundry and checked the news before I went to wake the boys: Big Lake Cancelled. Woohoo! No school.

We received a little gift from Mother Nature! A Fog Day.

I and Topaz headed for the trail. I could not see a thing the way over there; just drove slowly and made sure my lights were on.

The trail is in awesome condition. The snow and ice is all gone, I was running on lovely grass and dirt. It is not even muddy, which is very strange.

10 miles later, the sun had burned off the fog..it's going to be an awesome day :)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

No Problem, Man

Or, I suppose it is Mon. I hear that phrase over and over again in Jamaica. It has to be the country phrase. "No Problem, Mon" and there is no problem.

Jamaica was again, simply paradise. We stayed at Beaches Negril, in Negril, Jamaica. It is located right on the Seven Mile Beach. It is white sand for as long as you can see. It is simply awesome.

I ran along the beach each day for 7 miles at least..sometimes I headed out for an evening run to watch the sunset as Steve and the boys walked along. It was paradise.

The food was fabulous. I ate more fresh asparagus, beans, tomato, cantalope,watermelon, pineapple and other fruits and veggies than I can even list. Everything is prepared with minimal oil; they don't add whipping cream to fruit salads; just a bit of walnut, golden raisin and chopped up apple is wonderful. We had grilled prawns, halibut, snapper, lobster, jamaican goat, jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk beef; zillions of wonderful choices for each meal.

Steve drank the Red Strip Beer; I and the boys had Mickey Mouses, Pina Colada, Sweet Sixteen and Strawberry Daquari. There were 27 non-alcoholic cold fruit drinks to choose from. Splendid.

The boys loved the self serve ice cream cone maker on the beach. It was inclusive; eat 24-7.

And I lost 3 pounds! With all of the wonderful choices I didn't feel the need to stuff myself with the cakes and pies available.

We snorkeled, parasailed, kayaked, river rafted and went cliff diving. Crazy.

It's good to be home though.

This morning I and Topaz headed out for the trail for a run. The snow is just about gone. I think Spring may have arrived.

McNaughton is 3 weeks out. I guess my training is in the bank. I'll run a marathon or 50K out at Zumbro River Bottoms next Saturday and then cut back again on mileage. Before I know it, Pekin, IL...here we come!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Week in Review

My computer is back up! After having the Geek Squad out for another 3.5 hours last night they finally cleaned up my computer and made it brand spanking new. They were able to save all of my photos too. Awesome!

Well, last week was my biggest training week ever in my life. I made it through and I survived without any ill effects. No pain, no injury, all is well.

Monday was a 5 mile run on the trail with Topaz and 60 minutes of Legs.
Tuesday was the 60:60 workout; 60 seconds at 8.8 mph and 60 seconds at 4.8 mph for 30 minutes; then a 5 mile trail run with Topaz
Wednesday was 10 miles with run club
Thursday was a tempo run on the treadmill + 3 miles on the trail with Topaz and 60 minutes of tri, bi and chest
Friday was 3 miles in the AM on the treadmill + 5 miles on the trail with Topaz
Saturday was 50 miles around the Minneapolis lakes
Sunday was 15 miles on the trail with Topaz

I ran a total of 105 miles last week. 2 hours of RT. And I didn't die. I just did it.

This week I've backed off a bit; will have a total of 50 miles and 3 hours of resistance training. My last two runs of the week will be on the 7 mile beach of Negril, Jamaica. Yeah!

Steve's sister is here to house and dog/cat/turtle sit and we are heading out in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Over and OUT!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Winter Is Back

Sheesh! During my last post I pointed out that it was 41F on Sunday and that the ice was melting on the trail. Well, not anymore! We received 6" of snow Sunday evening. Only 30 miles S of here they received 14! I'll take the 6. The good news: school was closed on Monday. We had a good old fashioned snow day.

I and Topaz hit the trail with snowshoes for 10 miles; it took us 2.5 hours. It was a long snowy haul, but oh! so much fun!

The bad news: I ended up with a fever and stomach flu Monday. Yuck. I took a sick day yesterday but by last night was feeling better so went out for a 4 mile snow shoe. The fever returned at bedtime but all is good today.

I had to get back to work to check my 354 emails and update my blog!

My computer is still down. Yeah, Cliff, you are right. My wonderful 14 year old son, Tyler, has been visiting some not so wonderful sites. He's the culprit of the spyware clog a thon. He's off the computer from now on unless it is school work and I'm right there observing. KIDS! The parental controls don't always work. He can get around them.

The relatives are arriving on Friday so that they can sit the animals and we are heading out to Negril, Jamaica. Swimming, sunning and running on the beach. Oh Yeah! When we get home Spring should be here!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Fab Training Run

Ach! My home computer is on the fritz. I've been invaded by spyware. The computer is clogged with over 1500 pieces of it; the techs need to make a second trip over to the house to set it straight. In the meantime I'm using the work computer. What a headache.

My training run yesterday went absolutley perfect. PERFECT. I've been having a number of perfect training runs; I hope the shit doesn't decide to hit the fan on race day.

At 6 AM I left the house in a thunderstorm. Way bummer. I traveled to Minneapolis and the rain lightened up. Pretty soon it stopped!

Yesterday was supposed to be real wet. 50% chance of early thunderstorms, 60% chance of afternoon rain. It stopped raining at 7 AM! Start time! I never felt a rain drop.

I tried out a few new items from Hammergel. I tried out the Hammergel Espresso gel and the Sustained Energy. I had Hammer Heed as well. Sustained Energy is a hefty carb/protein drink. 353 calories in 24 oz if mixed per package instructions with no flavor. It worked beautifully. I ate one sandwich at hours 3-4; otherwise only consumed the gel, SE and HH. I had no upset stomach, wasn't starving (I had two more sandwiches in the car), it worked well.

Marie and Maria joined me for the first part of the run. Marie was in for 10 miles and Maria was in for 20. It was great having the conversation, it made the first 4 hours really move along.

After Maria left I refilled my bottles, had another Eduralyte and grabbed my iPod. I just continued on, running, running, running; around and around and around. I had a blast. I saw many running groups, dogs, single runners; I loved it.

I ran 50 miles in 9:20. That rocks!

What really rocks..I have NO blisters, NO pain, NO aches today. Nothing. I took Topaz out for 3 hours today on the trail. It was beautiful! 41 degrees; the ice is melting, there is more grass on the trail and snow now.

Ms. Eagle is nesting. I saw her at the trail today. She has a two ton nest and was adding branches to it. She is so fascinating to watch. A true sign of spring!

I'm on a high.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Big Week

In looking over my running schedule this week, this could be the biggest one I've had so far. I have a 50 mile training run on Saturday. I wish I had a race I could attend. If I had money to burn I'd catch a plane on Friday evening to AZ to run Saturday and return home on Saturday night. But, alas, I don't have money to burn.

The trail near home was melting nicely yesterday. It is supposed to be in the 40's all week so it may be clear for 50 miles on Saturday. Or not. If it is icy when I'm out there Friday then I'll be heading out to the Minneapolis lakes again for 50 miles.

I may get in 90 miles this week. I've never done that, other than the week of FANS where I ran 80+ or McNaughton. Otherwise I believe my high was 80. After McNaughton I'm going to hang on to 80 while getting ready for FANS in June. I'm going to push this body and see how it stands.

Today my 30:30 was 60:60; it was actually quite fun. 60 seconds at 8.8 mph, 60 seconds at 4.8 mph, for 35 minutes. I warmed up a mile and cooled down 2. Tonight I'll run 5 on the trail with Topaz. Yippee!

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Boy you guys, you are making me tear right up here. To think that my experiences and my writing can inspire? That means so much to me.

When I began to run and was trying to quit drinking I was looking for someone to guide me, someone that had been where I had been. I never did find that person.

I'm glad I can be that person to you.

Phil. You can do the 50 at Catalina. You know, when I did my first 50K at Afton, I almost died. GASP. Well, not really, but oh my gosh! I scared my friends TO DEATH.

There were about 8 of us running the trail. It was the first 50K for I and Bonnie and most of the other runners were there for us, for us to finish our first.

It was March of 02. I had the date wrong in previous post. I'm looking at the plaque Larry made for me , my JULIE BERG completed AFTON 50K 3-3-02, 7 hours, 50 minutes, FIRST ULTRA that hangs on my wall.

The snow was melting, it was wet and muddy and I had never run a trail in my life. Here I was running a 50K. I had listened at all of the meetings. The experienced runners were leading us. I had food in my pockets, had E-Caps (Salt + Potassium), a must if running over 4 hours, had plent of water. BUT I DIDN'T EAT THE FOOD OR TAKE THE E-CAPS. I drank a ton, too much, I know now.

I was coming up one of the last hills and damn, I couldn't make it up. I could not make it up. Don (ultrarunner extrodiannaire) was waiting for me at the top. "Come on Jules...what's up?" "I can't do it Don. I can't get up the hill. My quads are fried." He looked into my eyes and saw that I couldn't focus on him. My eyes were rolling. He was getting a bit nervous. He couldn't carry me out of there. He told me so. "Come on Jules...up a few more steps.." I tried. I finally got to the top. Then I don't remember any more. Don put his arm around my waist and helped me to the parking lot. Thank goodness we were only a 1/4 mile or so from the finish to the parking lot. I then remember sitting in the back of his truck, Bob was feeding me salt tablets and I couldn't talk. I was slurring, my eyes couldn't focus. I think it was hyponitermia. I'm sorry about the spelling. What I should do is write these entries in word then spell check and copy here.

Bonnie wanted to bring me to the hospital. The more experienced runners stated that by going to Toni's home (our original plan), warming me up, getting some salty soup into me, I should be fine.

They changed my clothes for me in the visitor center. I don't even remember it. My next memory is sitting in Toni's home with hot soup in my hand.

Eventually I felt better, I was fine. I sure learned a lot. I learned what NOT to do!

DO NOT forget to eat. DO NOT forget salt tablets.

This never happened to me again. I will not allow it. I eat every hour on the hour and take a salt cap every hour on the hour. I don't allow myself to drink over 24 oz an hour. Ever. I drink a lot. I drink fast. I could drink a case of beer in one night. I can drink a can of Diet Pepsi in 30 seconds.

2 weeks after this run was the Trail Mix 50K. I brought Cliff bars and gels and had one each and every hour. I finished in fine form in 6:15. No problems. I was so relieved.

3 weeks later was the the Ice Age 50 miler. My first. The time limit was 12 hours. Guess when I finished?

11:59:30. I finished!! Bob was at the finish and knew I was coming in..eventually. He ran down the course and found me and said RUN JULIE RUN! You have 4 minutes to finish this thing! RUN. I went as fast as I could and was the second to the last finisher that received a buckle that day.

I and Marie went on to run Voyaguer 50 the following month. It took us 14 freaking hours...the limit was 13. They still let us finish.

I have come in dead last more than once. I figured I could only improve. And improve I have. Last year I ran the Voyaguer 50 in 10:45. Yeah!

Phil, don't worry if your wife can't support you. I would love to have Steve and Tyler and Troy as my crew at every race or working the aid station or being there and just getting into it. They aren't. That is not them and that's OK. At least they aren't UNSUPPORTIVE of me.

Never have they complained at all about the running. They tell their friends that Mom runs 50 miles and a 100. I know they are proud. Steve has never asked me to let up on the running, never. I ask them to attend each race; or at least say 'would you like to come?' Usually they don't want to and that's OK. When they want to come along, I know I got lucky that time around!

I've never had an injury, I don't think I'm over-doing this. It is funny what becomes normal, depending who you are hanging with. I suppose it is my addictive personality coming through in another way. My drinking has been replaced with running. I'm OK with that.

Thank you again for the kind comments. I'm just floored. Truly. I can't believe it.


Today was 15 miles on the trail. It was lovely. Topaz chased up 8 deer and a raccoon! I have never seen one out there before..he was trying to dig up last year's acorns. I was thinking about the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Texas, February, as we came upon him. I figured it was a good omen...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Questions and Answers

I receive many questions about running, eating, drinking, etc. initiated from my posts here. I always intend to answer the questions but don't always do such a great job at that. I save the questions in an email folder and am getting around to answering some of them:

Why did you decide to run? Have you always been athletic? Why do you run so much? When did all this running begin? What are you running from? Are among most of the 'how did you begin to run? questions:

I began running 8 years ago. I have never been athletic. In 8th grade I was on the swim team; breastroke, but that was it. I liked to drink and smoke pot and cigarettes more than I liked swimming.

I began to run after I had been walking approximately 6 months. I was carrying 60 pounds of baby fat from Troy, who was born 6 months before I began walking. I was drinking a LOT and couldn't get the energy up to walk. I purchased a treadmill, put it up in my living room and began walking on it every day. I stayed home with the boys at this time and tried walking during their naps.

Finally, Oprah's book Make The Connection came out. I was hung over when I purchased the book, when Oprah listed Quit Drinking as one of the steps, it finally clicked. I needed to quit drinking, get walking and get healthy. I knew that I was drinking too much, I knew I was an alcoholic, but wasn't ready to quit until I read that book.

This is about the time Oprah was running her first marathon. I figured if SHE could do it, so could I.

So, I quit drinking, began to incorporate veggies into my diet, began to drink water and walked walked walked. I walked away about 30 pounds and then began to run a bit.

I would walk 8 minutes, run 3 minutes x 4. It was SO hard. Harder than staying sober.

Once I decided to quit drinking that was it. No more drinking.

After running my first 7 mile run I came home and told Steve that I was going to run Grandmas 1999. He was skeptical. I wasn't. I knew I would do it.

I did it ! I ran Grandmas Marathon 1999 in 4:56 and never looked back.

I ran road marathon for the next few years..then we come another bunch of questions:

How did you go from road to trail? Why run trail? What do you like running better, road or trail?

Well, I was getting kind of bored with running the two marathons each year: Grandmas and Twin Cities, one time Whistlestop. I hated Whistlestop. It rained the whole time and Steve and the boys stood outside and waited for me. It was miserable. One a nice day it would probably be awesome.

It was in the fall of 2003, I was searching online for a running group and came across the Minnesota Dead Runners Society. It was an email group through yahoo groups. I began to lurk for a few months when a member decided to begin a 'beginner ultra runner group.' They were going to meet in St. Paul, once a week. I was interested. I finally emailed a message to the group for directions and stated that I would be there.

When I told Steve that I was going to meet up with some people that I had met online, well, he was a bit skeptical and asked me to call him as soon as I arrived and left. He was worried, I think.

That meeting changed my life.

The people at that first meeting have now become some of my very best friends. They were talking about ultra running and what ultra running is all about. They had a few 'guests' who spoke of the 24.48 hour runs they did, about the 100 milers they did, I was totally blown away. I COULD. NOT. IMAGINE.

I made every one of those meetings. We would talk, discuss races, plan runs and then run for an hour or so around Como. It was incredible.

At one meeting Bonnie and Marie invited me to attend the Ice Age 50 Mile with them in Whitewater, WI. I hadn't yet committed to an ultra and I hadn't even been away from home for a weekend!

I said yes.

We then planned a 50K at Afton State Park in March on our own, would run the 50K at Trail Mix in Bloomington in April for our first 'real' 50K and the Ice Age 50 would follow 3 weeks. It all went as planned.

I then began to run trails. Prior to the 50K at Afton I had never stepped on a trail. I slowly began to seek out trails in the area, near home.

After running a few trails around home I decided to purchase a dog to run with. Well, you all know who that dog came to be. My Topaz. He's probably been the one factor that has really kept me on the trails. He can run off leash, he loves it and he gets me out of the door each and every day. Many times I think I should take a day off, but when I see him as I walk in the door, I know I won't be taking a day off. He loves running as much as I do. He hates running on asphalt. He needs to be leashed, wants to chase the cars, the asphalt is too warm for him, it's just not good on roads with Topaz.

As for me, I like running both road and trail. I don't look down on road runners at all. I find that some trail runners do look down on road runners. I don't get that. I think it is just because road runners are more into the time factor and beating others, more intense I guess, I don't know.

I love running Grandmas Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon..I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ed Fitz 100K and FANS 24 hour run is fun too. All asphalt.

I love the trail running friends I have made. They are laid back and fun to be with. I love spending a whole weekend with them. I've never had friends who I want to spend a weekend with before. My best friends I now have came from ultra running. That is real cool.

What is your favorite race?

My favorite race..has to be the Superior Trail Races. Luckily, there are two very well organized, awesome races held on the Superior Trail. In May there is the 25K/50K and in September the Marathon, 50 Mile and 100 Mile.

The first year that Bonnie went to run the Superior 50 Mile, I was too afraid. I opted for the City of the Lakes 25K in Minneapolis. I was scared to death of the Superior Trail. I had heard horror stories about how rocky and rooty and relentless it was. I had heard about people getting lost and hurt. I wanted no part of it. At. All.

I finally tried the 50 Mile up there and fell in love. The trail IS rocky and rooty and hard to follow. It goes up and down and over HUGE cliffs and wow. Just Wow. I do the 50K in May and the 50 Mile in the fall and well,this fall I'll be trying the 100 Mile. It has a 38 hour time limit and it touted as the toughest and baddest 100 around. All trail. Jeffrey is going to pace me the last 50 miles. I'm so excited. I'm so scared.

Check out www.superiortrailrace.com

I thought you were at goal weight? What is your weight loss history?

Oh my gosh, do you have a lot of time?

I am a weight fighter. I will always battle the fat. I lost my first 60 with Weight Watchers in 1985; and kept off until I became pregnant in 1991 and gained it all plus some. Then lost it with Weight Watchers again.

Kept that off until baby two in 1996. Gained back the 60 plus some. Lost the first 30 by Make the Connection with Oprah, began to run and eventually it came off.

Maintained at roughly 130 pounds until last winter when I went up to 156. Don't know why (SUGAR) but I was fatter than I'd been in a while.

I joined Leanness Lifestyle in January of last year and lost to 125 in July. My goal was 130 so the 125 was awesome. I've maintained there until the holidays here when I gained 8 pounds. The 8 is now 2 so that's a good thing. I've found that by eating 4 cups of veggies a day, one carb meal (oats usually) and approximately 1400 calories I can maintain. Once I begin to add in additional carbs I put on weight. It's not a good thing.

It seems that Paleo Eating for Athletes along with Leanness Lifestyle is my ticket for staying at goal. Yes, you can run 80 miles per week and put on fat. I can not out run what I can potentially eat!!

How many laps around the Minneapolis Lakes for a 50K?

Each loop of the three lakes is just under 10 miles. I ran 3 loops of the three lakes, then ran from my car out 10 minutes and came back. I figured that was a 50K!

I'll do the 50 Mile around the lakes next week so I'll just add a few more loops...

What is next for you?

Well, I'm hoping to get into Western States in 07. Then I'll attempt the Grand Slam...4 100's in 8 weeks. I'd love to do that. I just want to stay injury free and continue to move forward.

What does your family think about all of this running?

At first they couldn't really believe it, that I could run a marathon. They boys were really excited when I ran my first ultra, Steve and the boys like to come along to Grandmas and the Superior Races. They don't really care for the others. My Dad ran Grandmas 2000 with me, his first, that was awesome. The whole family was there. That was a great race.

When I am training hard I write all the training time ahead of time on the calendar so my family can see when I will be gone and when I will be home. This seems to work very well.

Weekend runs are long, I usually leave home at 5 AM so I am back home before everyone gets up. In the winter I wait until 6 or so, then it doesn't seem so cold and dark!

Those are most of the questions, I guess I am pretty much an open book.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Nice Surprise

Yesterday I had planned to run 10 miles. 5 miles before run club began and 5 miles with the run club.

Mid-day hubby called to let me know that instead of leaving at 6 for the Timberwolves game he was going to get off of work early, pick up the boys, go out for an early dinner and then they would attend the game.

WOW! That meant I didn't have to drive children around, get them ready for the game or cook dinner. What's a gal to do..but ..RUN!

I quickly grabbed my water belt, a few gels and was off and running. I was able to get 15 miles in before run club and then ran the five with the club.

Yes! A 20 mile mid week run.

My ankles were getting a bit tired at the finish; I ran 32 miles on asphalt on Saturday. My body hasn't felt so much asphalt since Ed Fitz 100K back in October.

Today was an 8 mile tempo run on the treadmill; tonight is 5 miles on the trail with Topaz.

Run On.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

This morning the alarm went on at 400; time for an early morning swim. The gym doesn't open until 5 so I have to get over there and sit in the parking lot until the doors are unlocked. I am always early, I am always waiting. Story of my life.

Into the pool. Ah, the goggles make the BIGGEST difference! I'm not all over the lane, I can see what I am doing. Anything to make this a bit easier.

I was able to swim 3x25 freestyle, 1x25 breast, repeat 10 times. I need that breast stroke recovery lap in there. I am totally out of air by the end of each 3x25. Totally out of air.

The indoor triathlon I was planning on trying is in May and I need to swim 600 yards. I just don't see that happening. My running mileage is getting big with 2 a day training runs and that doesn't leave much time to learn to swim. We'll see how it pans out but I can see me running through my swim training time.

It I am not accepted into Western States in '07 the plans for the Grand Slam go to '08 as I'd be accepted on the 'two loser plan'. If a person isn't drawn in the Western States lottery for two consecutive years the person automatically receives entry into the third. So, if not accepted into WS in '07 I can always set the Madison Ironman for my goal. That's an option. Then I'd be sure to get into the pool! Ha, I haven't even completed a mini tri and I'm thinking Ironman. I don't think little. I don't set small goals. It's all or nothing.

I'm obsessive/compulsive.

Tonight is run club. I'm going to go an hour early and get in 5 miles before the other runners show up, for a total of 10 miles. It is 42 degrees out there! I can't wait to get out and run. Can. Not. Wait.

McNaughton is 7 weeks out. Mileage is growing.