Sunday, March 30, 2008

Last Pre-McNaughton Long Run

The alarm buzzed me awake at 330. I wanted to get one final long run in before McNaughton. I figured 35-40 miles. I needed to be out on the trail by 4 so I could be back at home by 1 for a shower and then I need to grocery shop, make a Target run and get both boys hair cut.

Topaz's paw is looking very good. He isn't limping any more. I played Frisbee with him last night for a long time, but I still didn't want to take him out for 35 miles today and I didn't have the time to run a few hours, drive him home, and then run some more. He had to stay home. He woke Tyler up, whining so loudly as I pulled out of the garage.

My run was pretty uneventful. I ran a few hours, watched the sun come up, I came upon 13 deer, I saw pileated woodpeckers, trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, Sandhill Cranes and two bald eagles. The geese, cranes and swans sounded like an orchestra on acid. I must say, the Sandhill Cranes drive me insane. I'm sorry, but I don't like them. At all. They walk around like chickens, bobbing their heads back and forth, making a scratchy noise. I don't like birds, period. I mean, I like the ones I feed in my bird feeders, because they are outside and I am inside. But too many birds scare me. They are certainly back from wherever they go. They were loud and actually got on my nerves after 30 miles, when I decided to grab my ipod out of my gym bag.

I only saw two others on the trail during my run. I was surprised that I was able to get in 40 miles in less than 8 hours. The snow has really melted off of the trail in the past few days. It was probably 50% covered in snow and 50% grass/rock. It was so wonderful not to run in snowshoes! What a treat.

Well, my final high week is in, my final long run, and I'm ready to tackle McNaughton. Two weeks out, it's almost here. Last year I ended up in ER after the race with that crazy asthma breathing episode. I haven't had a problem since McNaughton last year. I'll certainly bring the inhaler along that they gave me last year. I wonder if it still any good?

Off to run errands, or um, drive to complete errands..

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Steppin' Out

Today I ran mile repeats. I want Topaz's paw pad to heal a bit longer before I take him out on the trail, so I hit the asphalt instead.

I jogged a warmup out of the neighborhood, up to the long straight road with a few steep hills for 2 miles; then began the repeats. They came out as follows:

1) 7:23
2) 7:21
3) 7:22
4) 7:19
5) 7:20
6) 7:23
7) 7:19
8) 7:21
9) 7:22
10) 7:22

I ran a 1/4 mile recovery trot in between each mile and jogged a 2 mile cool down. I was beat!

Today I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. I met with the three women that I will be coaching the Beginning Woman's Running Group with. I have never met these women, I have never coached a group before, but before I became an experienced runner I always wanted to join a group; but I felt too intimidated, I was too scared. I always looked at the MDRA classes offered, but just couldn't do it.

I've been a member of MDRA for 10 years. I love the Race Schedule/Training Log that each member receives; this is one of the main reasons I always renewed my membership. Anyway, most of the MDRA publications that I receive, they ask if anyone is interested in coaching a group. I finally responded and was offered the Beginning Woman Run Group. When I received the bios of of the women that I will be coaching with, along with itinerary, I was in awe.

I'm not going to publish the names of these gals, because I hardly know them and I didn't ask their permission.

1) A USATF Certified Level One Coach and competitive master’s runner, Captain of a grand masters women’s team. They run ultra relays all over the country and have set age group course records. She has run many local races including 25 marathons, and won her age group in the MDRA Grand Prix for 2007. She coached track at the middle school level and has coached beginning women runners for 8 years.

2)A USATF Certified Level One Coach, registered and licensed dietitian who works at_____,also writes for RunMinnesota, MDRA’s bi-monthly publication. She has completed 11 marathons and one ultra marathon in addition to the Minnesota Border to Border Triathlon.

3) Julie Berg – Assistant Coach. Julie is an ultra runner who began running ten years ago. She has run over 30 marathons and over 40 ultra marathons. She mainly focuses on the 100 mile distance, finishing four 100 mile races last summer and currently training to finish five 100 mile races this summer. Julie is a secretary at Big Lake High School. She is eager to coach this class to give something back to the sport she loves.

4) an elite runner, with a wealth of experience in competitive running. She has won USATF-MN Runner of the Year in her age group for the past three years. She qualified for the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials which will be held this April 20 in Boston.

Whoa! Great runners. I tried not to be too fearful!

I met the women today for lunch in Minneapolis. I had a great time, and was nervous and afraid for usual. All were very warm and friendly. I must say, I couldn't help but ask many questions about training, races and nutrition. I enjoyed myself so very much.

Can you imagine, the Olympic Trials? OMG. I'm in total awe. Total. Awe.
She was like, yeah, but you are running 100 mile races, and I'm like, yeah, but you run 2:40 marathons. The Olympic Trials. Wowza.

I'm definately looking forward to working alongside this group of women!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

End of Snow Shoeing?

During my run yesterday I found myself spotting grass along the way! The areas along the open meadows are finally melting and the grass is beginning to show itself. Oh Joy! I know, I know, I live in Minnesota and I shouldn't complain of snow, but really, I have done quite well this winter. I didn't fall into the deep depression that I normally do. I kept the weight loss moving, stayed away from sugar and didn't fall apart when my personal baggage wanted to bring me down. It's actually been quite a good winter.

But I'm ready for Spring.

Actually, after Spring Break, the school year flies by very swiftly. Before I know it I will be loving summer vacation. I will be spending days at the pool, enjoying the boys, running with Topaz and enjoying races with friends. Good stuff.

While Topaz and I were running last night, he ran right over a sharp rock that was protruding out of the snow. It tore up his paw pad a bit. Of course he wouldn't walk with me off the trail to the car. He wanted to run. I had to snap his leash on and walk him off the trail to the car. End of run. I certainly didn't want him to injury himself even more. When we arrived home I washed his paw and poured peroxide onto it. I spoke with our vet who wasn't too worried and told me just to keep an eye on it and watch for infection. He told me to let Topaz do as he likes, but I know better. He'd run 30 miles with me today if I'd let him. He will stay home and rest while I go to the gym to get on the stair stepper for an hour. I'll be stepping off a meal at PF Changs. Yum!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


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Beach Fun!

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From Sand Running to Snow Shoe Running!

I had a fabulous vacation in Texas. The boys and I flew out of Minneapolis last Friday at 32F. We landed in Harlingen, TX 3 hours later at 102F. Heaven.

The whole week was wonderful. High temperatures were never lower than 85 and the lowest low was 49. Oh yeah. I loved every minute.

To be able to run without pants, without a jacket, without hat, mittens, snowshoes or gloves. What a treat! To pull on a pair of shorts, a run bra and head out to greet the morning darkness and watch the sun rise..spectacular.

What a difference a three hour plane ride can make!

Mom and Dad winter in a retirement community. Since we were last there, a few years ago, the association has upgraded the pool area by enlarging the pool, adding bathrooms and showers, lockers and an awesome hot tub. We spent a lot of time there. We also did a lot of shuffleing. There are 48 shuffle board courts, the 'olds' as Troy calls them, are playing shuffle all of the time. They also golf, play bridge, have a Spanish class, a yoga class, line dancing, ball room dancing; there is always something to do. I can see why Mom and Dad love it so. If they were still spending winters in Virginia, MN, they would be curled up on the couch at 6 PM when it is dark and watching TV. In Texas at 6 PM they are out and about, enj0ying the TX winter. What a concept. They will head back to Minnesota in three weeks. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then...

Padre Island was incredible. The winds were high, the waves were huge. We spent a great deal of time in the ocean, riding the waves. Troy made sure we visited the Sea Turtle care center. We learned all about the Sea Turtles. Troy has two Box Turtles, so was very interested.

Each morning I ran 12 miles before the boys awoke. It didn't take any time to acclimate to the heat. It felt so wonderful. I am such a summer person. Beach running is much easier than running in snowshoes! 12 miles on the beach took me a good 30 minutes less than 12 miles through the snow.

Our plane going back to Mpls. was delayed an hour, due to de-icing before departing for TX. Minnepolis was under a snow advisory. Joy. We landed in Minneapolis on Friday night, at 1045 PM. By the time we finally arrived to Big Lake it was 1 AM, due to the snow and bad driving conditions.

Topaz about had a heart attack when I walked through the door. He was pretty darn excited to run Saturday morning. 20 miles, through the snow, on snowshoes. I couldn't help thinking that yesterday at that time I was running 12 in the delightful warm ocean air. Back to reality!

Today was 20 more miles through the snow on the snowshoes. It snowed again last night.

It's nice to be home, but it was wonderful to be on vacation!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sloshin' Through the Snow

Spring has sprung
The grass has 'riz
I wonder where the flower is?
There's the bird
On the wing...
Oh, that's absurd
The wing is on the bird!

I learned that poem in my First Grade Class, and have said it over and over each spring, for the past 35 years! I taught it to my boys, to their classes while I volunteer and to my coworkers.

Spring is Here!

Today the high is 50F. Low of 33F. It melted all night long! Woohoo. Last night the snow was sloppy and loose. I was soaked, but loved it. Tough going running through 7" of slop, but knowing that there is grass and dirt under all that slop is wonderful.

It might all be gone when I return from Padre Island. I'm hoping so.

Today after work I may be running in shorts. Oh yeah! They may no longer be for the treadmill and gym only.

Tomorrow the boys and I fly out to warmer climates. I am SO looking forward to it. Visiting with my parents, waterpark-ing, beaching, beaching, beaching..

Can't wait.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

50 Mile Adventure Training Run

Mid week I decided to try and get a 50 mile training run in this weekend. I hadn't yet decided if it would be upon trail or road. Road would be much easier, but I wouldn't be able to bring Topaz. Trail would be snow covered and tough, better training for McNaughton and I would be able to bring Topaz along.

I have been collecting trail maps between my home and the Blue Hill Trail, where I normally run. I figured out a route between the Sand Dunes State Forest, the Grant N Aid Snowmobile Trails, the Ann Lake State Campground Horse Trails and the Wildlife Refuge. I penciled in a map to bring me from my home to the Blue Hill trail via all of the trails mentioned above. I would only have to run a few miles upon Country Roads between here and there and on "Orrock Corner" I could refuel at the gas station, about 20 miles out. I figured it would take me at least 12 hours to run this route in the winter, upon snow covered trails.

I asked the boys what they would like to do while I ran all day long. They both decided upon snowboarding. I called Mom's to offer rides home from the hill if they were willing to pick the boys up. Plans were set. I had their snowboarding gear all set by the front door with lunches packed and money for dinner at the chalet. I would pick them up at 7PM.

I decided to run my new scoped out trail run. I fastened red blinking lights onto my GoLite pack and Topaz's collar. After running the County Road for a two miles we would venture onto snowmobile trails. I didn't know if there would be snowmobilers out at 5 AM but who knows? I figured flashing red lights would help us out.

I packed Heed, HammerGel, Cliffblocks, Advil and Doggie Bones. I had my cell along for just in case. Extra batteries for the flashlight incase I didn't make my 4 PM finish time. Extra mittens and neck gaitor for comfort.

We were off at 4AM. The neighborhood was dark and quite..and spooky. Off onto the County Road, along the St. Croix River, up onto the Grant N Aid Snowmobile Trail for roughly 5 miles. Thankfully, I didn't see any snowmobilers. There was a good 8" of snow on the trail, but they must not get out and snowmobile quite so early. I did see a few on the way back home.

My bottles of Heed froze up pretty quickly. It was -8F when I left home and there was a stiff wind blowing. Even in the woods it was cold. It was dark and I hadn't run here before so I was rather skittish. Topaz was running like a wild dog; checking out the new scents of the new area.

I heard wolves howling. They freaked me out. I stopped and listened and I could hear them so clearly. I was on a snowmobile trail through pines, with low bog areas around. I had no clue where the wolves were. I began to talk to Topaz in a loud tone. Eventually I didn't hear them any more.

The sun began to rise as we exited the snowmobile trail and got onto the Sandune State Forest trails. These trails were mainly horse trails, from what the map said. There are a few horse camps out there, I guess. The trails are beautiful. It looked like some people had been cross country skiing out there during the week, as it had snowed on Wednesday and I could see the ski trails.

Soon we were on the Ann Lake Campground trails. These were drifted over and I couldn't really tell where the trails were. They were supposed to be horse trails. It was tough going, trudging through the deep snow.

As we got off of the Sandune State Forest Trails we entered some private property areas along the Wildlife Refuge. We ran through prairie areas of the Refuge. It was difficult through here; there were no tracks, there were huge drifts and at times I was up past my knees in snow. I was thankful I had worn my knee high gaitors over my shoes. The prairie was bumpy, with piles of dirt here and there to run over. I was glad to get off of this area.

For a while we had to run along County Road 5, to hit Orrock Corner. Here I realized that I didn't want to tie up Topaz to the gas station door. My friends own the liquor store next door, so I walked over there and asked if Topaz and I could come in. The gal working welcomed us in, offering Topaz a bowl of water, as she ran hot water over the frozen bottles, adding new water for me. I then added Heed, ate a banana, had a gel and headed for the Blue Hill trail.

We ran Sherburne Wildlife Refuge fire roads through the next area to County Road 9. There were many deer through here. During deer hunting season this area is just full of hunters. I counted 36 deer while running through here. It was amazing. Topaz kept running hard after the deer, trying to herd them back to me. I told him to take it easy; we still had miles to cover.

At 9 am we made it to the Blue Hill Trail; our stomping grounds. We ran a loop and headed back home, hoping to find the same way he had come.

We made another stop at the liquor store for water and a rest. I was getting tired of running through the snow. I pulled some ice out of Topaz's paws. I took a few Advil and re-lubed my feet up with my foot potion.

As we were entering the Ann Lake Campground I could smell a camp fire..and grilled cheese sandwiches! Was I halucinating? I didn't think so. Pretty soon I noticed hoof prints. There were actually horse people out here camping. I ran down a dirt road, that I hadn't covered on the way out, and saw campers, trailers and horses..and then people. A gal asked what in the world was I doing? I told her going for a long training run. She told me they were riding 25 miles and were tired, taking a lunch break. She couldn't belive I was running 50 miles, alone. They offered me a sandwich, but it just didn't sound good. I passed, but refilled my frozen Heed bottles with their water and they offered Topaz a bowl of water too. He ate a piece of bread and a piece of lunch meat.

As I said goodbye to the horse people, I thought that they kind of reminded me of a group of runners. They are out there in the woods, doing their thing, nobody knows they are there..kind of like a sub-culture, passionate about horses. We are the same, only passionate about running.

They gave me the lift I needed to get out of my tired funk. I ran a bit faster, a bit happier, heading toward home. I was glad that I was going to make it before my 4 planned time.

We entered the snowmobile trail and sure enough, a group of 8 snowmobiles zoomed past us. I don't think they even saw us. They were flying and oh, the fumes and noise. Ish. I could hear them for a long time. I rather hear the wolves and be freaked out by them! I guess I'll probably never be a snowmobile owner.

Off of the snowmobile trail, onto the County Road, along the St. Francis River, back into our neighborhood and home sweet home!

What a great adventure. I can't wait to do it again WITHOUT snow! It was just so difficult. I swear the wind became even gustier as the day went on..I was SO cold.

I came in the house, turned on the fireplace, fixed a hot cocoa, took a shower, made a sandwich and headed for the hill to pick up the boys.

This morning was a much kinder, more gentle, 15 mile run at Blue Hill. When I began running it was still dark. When the sun began to rise, it was spectacular! It looked like a pink ribbon was pulling the sun up into the sky, the sun, a big red ball. It had snowed last night, and when the sun was shining upon the field that I was running in, it looked like a field of pave cut diamonds. What a great morning!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another Winter Blast

Blast as in cold air. It's -11F this morning, with a wind chill of -28F. It's still cold. I had to laugh when I heard on the news this morning, while running on my treadmill, that it was -33F in Cook, MN, where our cabin is on Lake Vermilion, and a high of 86F in South Padre Island TX, where I will be next week. I am SO looking forward to it! Running on the beach, laying in the sun, swimming in the pool; wearing nothing but swim suits and running shorts for a week. Oh yeah.

I've entered the 100 mile week realm. Last week I logged 108 miles and this week I will hit a bit over that. Instead of feeling tired I am feeling pumped. McNaughton is only 5 weeks out. Hey, it might be spring in Pekin, IL by the time McNaughton arrives.

I'll probably have to head over to the Minneapolis Lakes area for a 50 mile run this weekend. The trails are pretty icy with a base of 8" of snow. I was able to run 40 out there last weekend but don't know if I want to do it again upon snow. Topaz gets so sad when I leave him behind, though. That being said, I'll probably be upon the trail.

The Board of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Club met this Tuesday. Our website is up and running, we are accepting membership applications and are ready to rock and roll. Check us out if you live in the area. We offer two awesome trail series, discounts to running stores and we have many projects in the works. I'm honored to be involved!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Long Runs: The Ones I Love

Yesterday was Troy's day. I began the day with my 30 minute interval session on the treadmill then showered and readied for the day. I had the morning off to serve cake to Troy's first hour at school (a tradition each year, since Tyler was in Kindergarten), and then to take Tyler to his appointment with the surgeon. I didn't have to be to work until 1130.

When I asked Troy what he would like for his birthday breakfast he told me Belgian waffles. I began to mix them up before I woke he and Tyler for school. I placed Troy's big turtle birthday cake on the kitchen table; he hadn't seen it yet. I then placed his birthday present next to it.

When Tyler and Troy came down for breakfast they were pretty pumped. It isn't often that they get Mom's homemade Beligan waffles for breakfast. Usually it is steel cut oats and fruit. I hadn't told Tyler what I purchased for Troy, so he was a bit anxious to find out as well.

Troy absolutely loved the turtle cake. So much in fact, that instead of having me make his favorite banana split cake for the friend party today, he asked if I could order another turtle cake. I told him I'd try.

They ate their waffles and Troy opened his present. A Nintendo Wii! Tyler was as excited as Troy. They couldn't believe that Troy was so lucky. I loved seeing how excited they were.

I dropped the boys off at school and then hit the gym for 45 minutes of bicep/tricep work. Then off to the bakery to see about turtle cake #2. She told me it was no problem, she'd have one ready for me on Saturday. Good deal.

Picked Tyler up at school and we went to the surgeon. Good news. Tyler's infection is all gone, he still has an 8" abscess on his colon, but the tissue looks stronger than previous. He won't have to reconstruct the colon as we worried about. Tyler will probably have surgery to remove whatever is left of the appendix in August; after baseball, before football and school begin. I'm hoping I can schedule it the first week of August, before we head to Colorado for Leadville 100 (insert scary music here).

Back to work, uneventful, then home to find Tyler and Troy playing the Wii. Off to run 8 miles on the trail with Topaz before birthday dinner with the family at Troy's choice: Champps of course.

Today was a 40 miler. I didn't quite know how it was going to fit in, but I did. Troy's birthday party began at 3:00 today. I still had to pick up the cake and a few other items. The boys were going to ice fish this morning with Steve, wouldn't be home until 1, they would be busy, so I left before sunrise.

The trail has a packed base of about 6" of snow, with a new 2" snowfall we received on Thursday. It isn't tough to run 6-8 miles upon, but I thought 40 could be a challenge! It was.

I began at 430, flashlight in hand, listening to all the weird sounds of the woods. Everything is louder in the darkness! There were no new people tracks on the trail since I had run it on Thursday and Friday, other than Topaz's and my own. We ran two of the 5 miles loops, then headed off to the lake when the sun rose. I don't know that lake/meadow area as well as the loop, so I didn't want to venture out there in the dark.

After 15 miles went by I realized this is where I hit my zone. After 15 miles, I feel like I could run forever. Now, this is a slower, 9-10 minute mile run on easy trail. This isn't hard hills, fast tempo or anything. At a relaxing pace I just enjoy myself so much after 15 miles. Topaz does too. After 15-20 miles he begins to circle out farther from me, tearing down side trails, stirring up birds, deer and coyotes.

After 25 miles I was out of Heed. We headed back to the car, along a gravel road where the snow was almost all melted off of. It felt really nice to get out of the snow and all of the slipping and sliding I was doing. Back to the car at 30 miles, refilled Heed and headed out for the final 10. I was beginning to feel tired, ran upon the gravel for another 5 miles and then hit the trail for one final circle. Still, nobody else had been out there. Such a nice morning, and no people traffic. I love it!

I felt at peace. I felt like I could take on anything. I felt calm. I felt ready for Troy's birthday party!

I was finished by 1230 and feeling fine. A bit hungry, but that would have to wait. I hopped into the shower, then off to pick up the cake, the Papa Murphys Pizza and items for smores and candy bags. The woman at Target asked me if I was buying candy for a fundraiser. Um, no, I just have a candy addiction and am buying like the kids to do, for a birthday party. Oops. Back home before the first arrival at 300.

Troy's plan is to slide outside, have a bon fire with smores and hotdogs, pizza and cake later and lots of Wii.

I used to cringe when it was birthday party time. I thought about all the boys, all the mess, all the noise, no sleep for me, whine whine whine. Then I realized how quickly time was passing. These parties are once a year, I can certainly put up with that. I decided to have fun! Slide with the boys, enjoy the party. Tyler stopped having friend birthday parties at 12, I suppose this could be Troy's last. I better enjoy it!

If I don't get any sleep tonight, oh well. I have a 20 miler I'd like to get in tomorrow. I can always begin at 3 AM and be finished by 7. I suppose the boys won't make it upstairs for the Belgian waffles (yes, he picked that out for tomorrow too!) until 10:00. I asked the parents to pick up the boys by 12.

Off to catch up with the boys outside. Geeze. Topaz is running like a crazy dog up and down the hill while they are sliding. I may have to bring him in and make him rest :)