Saturday, April 26, 2008

Topaz Likes Snowy Runs

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Yet Another Snowy Run

After receiving over an inch of rain yesterday, this morning I awoke to a ground covered with snow. About 3" of the white stuff fell over the night, and it has been snowing and blowing all day.

I and Topaz hit the trail early for 15 miles as Troy needed to be to the rifle range for gun club at 10 AM.

We ran through the snow, the cold, the wind. Back out came the pants, hats and mittens. Oh well, it won't last for long!

The ponds are all full, the swans and geese looked happy. Topaz enjoyed a dip here and there.

Poor Troy; he stood outside for three hours sighting in guns and playing hunter. He's ready for deer season. He passed his test. This year all three of them will be heading off for deer season. Good thing I have Javelina Jundred planned during that time :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I can't believe how well my recovery has gone this time around. The body is an amazing machine. The more it is used, the stronger it becomes.

My body seems to have adapted quite nicely to running long distances. I can't even believe that I can run 100 miles. I still find myself with the notion in my head that I am yet a beginning runner, learning the ropes, finding my way. I suppose, in a way, I am. I am always learning. Once I think I may have things figured out, well, of course I don't!

In less than a week post race all of my swelling was gone. I never needed to take an Advil or anything post race. During the race I only took Advil before the last loop.

I find myself physically tired every once in a while. I guess that being awake for such a long period of time, plus the huge effort of running 100 miles should make a person tired. I had things going on all evenings last week, so when the weekend came, I napped.

This week I'm lifting, stair stepping, running treadmill intervals and running long. I feel great.

Tonight's at Woman's Beginning Running Group my group ran 7/3's x 3. We warmed up with stretching, walked 3 minutes, ran 7 minutes x 3. It was awesome! I love coaching these women! I have found something that I truly love to do. To share my enthusiasm and passion for running with a group of woman learning to run is just an incredible opportunity for me. I am enjoying it so much. After our run we did some more stretching and then spoke about shoes and technical fabrics. Good stuff!

Next week we'll run 8/2 :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Duke and Eve

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My friend, Eve. Won TRAIL MIX 50K outright. Yup, first place OVERALL.

Way to Rock and Roll, Eve. You the woman! 50K in 3:41; a 7:09 pace.

Woman's Olympic Trials

The Woman's Olympic Trials are taking place. There are 7 MN women; wonderful! My co-coach for the Beginning Woman's Run Group, Jenna Boren, is running. Go girls!

You can watch here:

Now, I need to get my run on!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

What a difference 8 hours of sleep can make! Every night this past week I had something I had to attend to. Township Board of Equalization, County Planning and Zoning, Gun Safety with Troy, Tennis, Coaching. Last night I only ran, brought Tyler home from tennis, brought Troy to the Middle School Activity Night and picked him up..and stayed home. It was wonderful. I dozed on and off while reading my book, I went to bed at 10 and slept until 6. Wonderful. I normally rise at 4; the two extra hours were needed. I had decided that I wasn't going to make it the the Trail Mix 25K/50K to volunteer. I was too tired.

I and Topaz hit the trail for 10 miles. It was fabulous. No aches and pains, no stiffness, all of the swelling is gone, thanks to 101 cold baths. I feel great. Topaz took off after a group of 19 deer..yes, I counted them! He was gone for a good 5 minutes before he finally reappeared. I saw Bald Eagles, the Sandhill Crane, Trumpeter Swans and two Coyotes. Lots of wildlife enjoying the woods.

Most of the snow is off of the trail now. It felt so great not to be running in snow shoes. What a treat!

Now I am going to head over to the gym before I do some grocery shopping and other errands.

Thanks for all of your comments and well wishes. I appreciate each and every one of them.

I must be feeling good..I find myself planning my FANS 24 hour run in June. I will run the Superior 50K in May, but just for fun. FANS is going to be more of a goal oriented race. I'm looking forward to it.

Inov 8 keeps me in trail shoes, but for FANS training I'll need to cough up $130 for a new pair of Asics Gel Kayano's. The ones that I have been running treadmill repeats are the same I wore at Vermont 100 last summer. I guess I need to shop tomorrow, before I head over to PF Changs to meet Bonnie and Marie for lunch :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Questions and Answers

Recovery. I've received many questions on recovery. I believe, that over time, my body has been accustomed to running 100's and the recovery that needs to go along with running a 100. I'm not sore. Amazingly, I am not. I haven't taken and Advil since the race, where I took 3 on the last loop just for good measure.

I was very stiff, removing myself from my car as I returned home on Sunday evening. I stumbled into the house, gave hugs and kisses to my family and to my animals and ran a cool bath. I hate cold baths, but they really help the swelling to go down. I sat in the cold tub for 15 minutes and then took a luke warm shower. I was disgustingly dirty. I left the race without showering so yeah, I stunk and I was filthy.

Monday I crawled out of bed with a bit of stiffness in my calves. After bringing the boys to school I put on a pair of big sorel boots and walked the trail for an hour with Topaz. The walking helped any stiffness to leave my body.

I drink tons of water ( 2 gallons) post 100. I am dehydrated, even though I drank 24 oz of Heed every 2 hours. The skin on my face is peeling and I am thirsty as can be.

Tuesday I was able to get on my trail shoes as some more swelling went down. I jogged with Topaz for an hour.

Last night was my coaching with the beginning woman's run group. We walked 5 minutes and ran 5 minutes 4 times. It was awesome! Most of these women have NEVER run 5 minutes at a time before. I was so excited for them! They had many questions about my race, it is hard for them to imagine such a thing, as I told them it would have been difficult for me to imagine when I was in their place at one time, too. We had a great session. A Physiatrist (a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation trained to diagnose and rehabilitate injuries to the musculoskeletal system, who prescribes exercise as medicine) spoke with us at great length.

Tonight I'll lift/run a bit and should be good to get a 10 or so on Saturday and back to normal next week.

Squats. The squats that I do are with the olympic bar. I began with only the 45 pound bar, 3 sets of 12. Over the past year I have slowly increased weights and now I am up to 200+ pounds. I love it!

Lights. I'm going to shop around some more. John Taylor told me he uses a big Gerber handheld, 3 watt jobbie that works well. My Fenix has just dimmed out on me, it is little and light, but I wouldn't mind holding something heavier. I carry my 24 oz bottle and don't mind. I think a strong upper body helps. Head lamps really do drive me crazy, although while wearing the heavy fleece hat I didn't have a headache at all with Andy's head lamp that I borrowed.

My training. I guess I don't really think of it all as training now. Of course, the 50 miler through the snow, that was for the 100. The rest of it, the daily runs on the trail with Topaz, that is fun. Great fun. I guess it is training, isn't it? I would run it if I weren't running 100's.

Any other questions, just ask away. Have a great day!

McNaughton Musings

- The man who said "I know I could finish this damn race in 24 hours if it weren't for the mud" I found that hilarious; I didn't realize he was serious and I responded "yeah, I could finish Leadville in 24 if it weren't for the elevation" I mean, come on, dude!

- Andy, voice booming, each and every lap "..and here is Julie Berg, McNaughton Woman's Champion for 2005 and 2007" was embarrassing, but still felt good!

- Last lap, singing at the top of my lungs to Ozzy "I keep running but I'm getting nowhere..." the man around the corner in front of me said "oh yeah, you are getting somewhere chicka.."

- Watching the men climb the fallen tree, over the river crossing and jumping off on the other side to stay dry. No way! I would have fallen off of the tree into the river, getting more wet than just trudging through each time.

- The cookie balls during the night at Heaven's Gate. They were chocolate and coconut and peanut butter I think. I don't believe they were cooked. I think they were refrigerated and oh so delicious. What were those balls of goodness?

- After heading out on a night loop, deciding I had to return because I couldn't see and needed better lights. Asking Andy if I had to re-do the first part of the loop, so happy when he told me no, I could continue where I left of. Thank goodness.

- The Joy. The pure Joy of the race. Loving the run, loving the race, loving each and every step I put into it. The race was the party that I had been training for.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jim and Julie

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Andy and Julie

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McNaughton Age Group Detail

McNaughton Fun Fest

Where to start? This is going to be l o n g. With thank yous. Thank you to all of you, for thinking of me this weekend and sending emails and comments while I was gone. Thank you to Andy, the Race Director of McNaughton. He dotes on his runners from the time first time I see him at packet pickup on Friday to the final hug when I leave Sunday morning. He is incredible. The volunteers are wonderful, the Heaven's Gate aid station welcomed me back each lap just like I was a part of the family. Of course I'm thankful to my family who puts up with me and to Topaz, who ran almost all of my training miles with me, most of them while I was on snowshoes (see Steve Q, snowshoeing CAN be training!) and he (Topaz) was foraging through miles of snow.

Early last week Karen graciously offered to ride along to Pekin IL with me, as I was going solo this year. Most of the Minnesota contingent was doing Wynn's 50K in WI this past Saturday. I told Karen that I was now planning to leave Thursday, to meet my sister in law in IA, flying from San Francisco, as well as my parents, who were coming back from wintering in TX. Well, none of that panned out. SIL's flight was cancelled (American Airlines) and parents were ahead of schedule, arriving at my home to spend Thursday-Sunday. So, solo I was.

Thursday night it began to snow. And snow and snow. There was a 2 hour late start at school, so I hung out with the boys Friday morning, thinking I'd leave after I dropped them off at school. Well, the late start ended up being a cancellation for the day, so at 9 AM I was finally on the road.

I arrived at the Concorde Motel, $49 a night, around 6PM. The motel gave me the chills. There was a bar with a band and the doors opened to a parking lot, no into interior halls. My room faced the back lot where there was a Subway drive up window. I could hear the cars and the Subway speaker lady. Not a good thing. My room smelled like a smoking room that had been sprayed with Lysol. It irritated my throat and eyes.

I went to the race start to pick up my packet and made introductions. Andy gave me a big hug and welcomed me. I received a very nice red jacket and a woman's fit black/white running top, hat. Very nice.

Back to the motel of doom. I packed my drop bag, had my french press and beans, grinder all set. Crawled into bed with my Terry Goodkind series. The band began. The Subway girl was talking. Someone was pounding on the door. Oh, it was the door next door that sounded like it was in my room. I had a room that at one time connected to both rooms on the sides of me. Oh god. I could hear two men speaking like they were in my bathroom. Talking of women and drugs and money and guns. Good lord. One man left, another came, more money and drug talk, again and again, over and over. I was freaked out. I didn't make a sound. If they heard me, they would know I heard them. The hair on my neck stood on end. I was scared. Truly scared.

I decided to get out of there. It was 10 PM. I grabbed all my stuff, in the dark, packed it all and went to my car. I drove to the race start at McNaughton Park and slept peacefully and safely in my car until 5 AM. Whew!

I had just purchased a new vehicle last week. I didn't know where anything was. The dome lights, the back heater, etc. I do now!

I turned on the heater a few times during the night, it was cold and I hadn't packed for camping. I always carry my red down blanket, and it kept me fairly warm.

Managed to scrape up a cup of coffee, suck back a Hammergel and start the day.

As I waited at the start I was freezing. It was 34F. I wore heavy long pants, a top, jacket, fleece hat and gloves. I never changed during the race. I couldn't believe that this was my 4th McNaughton 100 and that 4 years ago I was standing at this very line scared to death, about to run my first 100, wondering what would happen out there. The fear was gone, I knew I could finish, there are 34 hours to do so. I was a bit concerned about the trail conditions. It had rained in IL for days and was drizzling and snowing off and on. It was going to be pretty mucky, I figured...I was right. It was more than pretty mucky...

I didn't see many familiar faces. The Minnesota's that were there were Al Holtz, running the 150, John Taylor, running the 150 and Jim Wilson running the 50 mile. Jim had finished the 50 mile on Friday.

Andy said go and off we went. By 6 the sun was beginning to rise so I didn't need lights. I had a Fenix handheld in my drop bag for later. I tried to just get into a rhythm and enjoy the first few loops. I have come to realize that I just don't get into my 'zone' until 30 or 40 miles. Before that my mind is worrying about the evening, the dark, my lights, tomorrow..blah blah blah. I kept telling myself to enjoy myself, this is the party that I have been training for. Enjoy the people.

The trail really was a mess. My first loop was just over 2 hours, my plan was to run the daylight loops in 240 or so and night was whatever I could muster. I'll have to look at my splits but I think each daylight loop was 210-240 or so.

I was a bit concerned about the amount of mud. It make the ups and downs crazy slippery. I thought of Karl Meltzer last year, how he just tramped up the muddy hills without a slow down. Someone asked me how I could get up the hills so quickly. I didn't think that I was!

During my 3rd loop I came across Al and John. Al was on his 9th and John was on 8. They both looked great. Al told me he went the whole night without lights; for a challenge. He challenged me to the same. I couldn't understand why? But he did just that! He ran 3 loops in the dark with a light to only illuminate his watch. Wow. I didn't want that challenge. But it came true, anyhow.

I saw Ryan Dexter. Man, he had finished 100 miles at 20 hours and was going on to finish up his 150. He looked fabulous, yes, Ryan, you did! He was moving well with his pacer and ended up finishing second to David Goggins. I never saw David.

I came across Ollie, who wasn't feeling too well. His stomach had gone south, but he was still moving forward.

Two gals that read this blog introduced themselves to me: Jess from Seattle was running her first 100. She became very cold and wasn't able to finish, but did get in 7 laps, I believe. She came to chat after I finished and looked very good! Good job, Jess. Ellen from IN was running the 100, too. I did see Ellen on the course in the morning. She looked good! You guys will have to post a comment and let everyone know what you thought of the race.

At miles 40 everything came together for me. I was eating well, which was a concern for me in the beginning. I haven't run a 100 since I have been cutting weight and pretty much eating Paleo, via Leanness Lifestyle. I have been eating only 1 carb meal a day, post run, and really didn't know how, or if, this would affect my race. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every 3 hours for the first 50 miles or so. I also sucked back over 20 Hammergels, I had 20 bottles of Hammer Heed. I was all carbbed up during the race. But still, I had to have something to worry about, so I worried about the way I had been eating. Which wasn't necessary. I used my blister potion at Heaven's Gate, every three loops, I didn't have ANY blisters. NONE. All race! Blisters have been the bane of my existence during 100 mile events. Not any more. Now flashlights are. I didn't have any upset stomach ache, no pains, I was in the zone. Finally.

I hadn't used my iPod yet, I was 'saving' it for the half way point. I was just producing endorphins, feeling incredibly exhilarated and full of fire. John Storkamp told me to Be the Warrior. I was. I was running hard through the mud, my legs held up. Has to be from squatting 210x12x10 each week during my weekly 2 hour leg weight session, as well as stair stepping 2 sessions a week. My leg strength has surprised me. My quads never felt tired, I felt great. I felt bad for some of the runners. Some were really struggling through the mud. One man was in front of me going up a hill, a muddy mess. All of a sudden he stopped and I was like WTF? I almost banged into him. Then I realized his SHOE WAS SUCKED OFF HIS FOOT. Right in the quagmire of mud. Stuck there. I told him he now had a great story, that his shoe was actually sucked off. He didn't think it so amusing. I didn't laugh; I just thought it was a good story. I guess not. I shut up and moved on.

The rivers were refreshing. It felt good to cross them, get all of the mud off my shoes and feel my toes chill. The crossings were mid calf high.

I was feeling so damn good I didn't want night fall to come. I knew that during the night I would slow due to the fact that I am as blind as a bat in the darkness, and I suck with lights. I have spent a small fortune in head lamps, all which sit in a drawer. They give me headaches, they are uncomfortable, heavy, etc. I knew that the night would cause me to slow, to stiffen, to lose my endorphin high.

At lap 5 Andy told me I had first woman. I was surprised, as I hadn't seen any women on the trail for a while and assumed it was because they were ahead and we were travelling the same speed. I was happy, giddy, is more like it. I grabbed my iPod and rocked on. I was euphoric, having so much fun, frolicking through the mud, enjoying myself, enjoying only having to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

Loop 6 and Jim reminded me to grab my flashlight. I have a little Fenix I use. Jim helped me with batteries and such, took my empty gels, filled my Heed and I was off. I ran the first section and then went back to the start. I couldn't see. It sucked. It was too dark and my flashlight was not doing much. Jim gave me his handheld and Andy took the headlamp off of his head for me to use. He found it amusing that I didn't have a headlamp. I found it stupid. I thanked them both, and headed back out.

I ran when I could, trying not to stiffen up by moving too slowly. I felt so good, I wished I had a few more hours of daylight to really move. I switched out the batteries in the handheld once and continued to the start.

Then came the lap from hell. I was running along, noticing all the bright lights runners had, questioning them about their lights, when Jim's handheld went out. I replaced the batteries again, and it still wouldn't go on. A runner from Norway (I think) helped me out, but couldn't get the flashlight to work. Shit. I ran on, worrying about the headlamp of Andy's that was getting more and more dim. I had AAs with me as that is what I understood the lamp to need. Before it died on me, I was at the Totem aid station and began to change batteries. Oops, it took AAA. Oh man. Screwed. No one had batteries. I went off in the complete dark. I berated myself. Told myself how stupid I am. How can I have run 9 100s and still have not figured out the damn light thing? What was I thinking? So what if the headlamps at home give you a headache, bring it along and strap it on your waist or your need a freaking lamp you know? I slowly navigated the trail. Hoping for a runner to come up so I could follow along. No luck. Suckage. I picked my way through the trail, ever so slowly, bitching at myself and putting myself down the whole way. FINALLY I realized that this is a learning opportunity. This is a time to say OK, I will never be without lights again, I will figure something out to work in the future. I am learning from this mistake. Yes, I may lose the lead, I may not finish when I wanted to, but look, I am running a 100 mile race, I have the fitness to be able to do this, that is pretty awesome. ENJOY, Julie. Enjoy the next lap that will be in the daylight, you can embrace the next lap, enjoy the sun, enjoy the rest of the race. OK, glad I have myself under control now.

I continued on, at times feeling like I should just curl up in a ball on the trail and cry. But it was too cold and I'd freeze to death. It was snowing and windy. I kept on.

At 530 I was so excited that the sun would slowly rise. I was coming down the hill of hell after Golf hill, in the muddiest section of the race, trying to get down without killing myself, trying to follow the ribbons in the darkness when I saw the lightness in the sky. THANK god. Happiness! I could see. Could I run?

Oh yeah. I ran as hard as I could back to the start. I lamented my problem for a quick moment, then got over it. I was ready to party. Andy told me I was First Woman/Second Overall. What? No way. Where are all of the boys? He told me sleeping or home. I could not believe my ears. After the slow lap from hell I had, and I'm Second Overall? Nutzo Cookoo.

I had a great last 10 miles. I ran as fast as I could. I rocked out to Ozzie, Black Sabbath and Megadeath. Runners asked me what I was on? Can I have some? I laughed, I'm just running..just enjoying the party. The endorphins came back in I finished the last loop in 240 or so. Great way to finish a fine race.

As I came in Andy had another hug for me, Jim as well. Andy presented my award, as well as some clothing from North Face, reserved for the first woman, pretty cool.

We took photos, had fun. Drank Diet Pepsi. I was able to see Charlotte, the 150 woman winner come in. WOW. All I can say is WOW. I can't imagine 150. I just don't have the want to do that.

I changed out of my wet muddy gross clothes, put dry clean clothes over my gross body. Visited an hour or so and headed for home .. with a smile on my face. What an awesome fun weekend.

Oh, Jim Wilson, a huge thank you! I just met Jim last weekend at Zumbro. He ran the 50 at McNaughton, on Friday and helped me out ALL weekend. I can't believe what he did for me. He was at the start for me every lap, bue one, while he caught some sleeip, he filled my bottle with Heed, he brought me sandwiches, he helped me with my lights, he even brought me a wad of Vaseline, he asked for my garbage each lap, he was incredible. Thank you, Jim.

Today I feel very good. I brought the boys to school and have the day off. Unfortunately, in my haste to leave the motel room of doom, I left behind my book, so I'll be heading to Maple Grove's Barnes and Noble soon. I am reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series 18 nice big fat 1000 page books, and can't miss number three! There is about 4" on snow on the ground, I and Topaz will hit the trail for a nice brisk walk this afternoon and I'll just be chilling today.

Congratulations to all the McNaughton runners. It was a tough day to be out there, for sure. To those of you running your first 100, it isn't always that rough. Come again, it won't always be that muddy!

I'll post some pictures later.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

First Coaching Stint

Tonight was my first stint at coaching. As I previously posted, I am coaching a Woman's Beginner Running Group. This group meets at the Edina Community Center, is part of the Edina Community Education Program. Once a woman enters the group, she is part of the Minnesota Distance Running Association group, which puts on the program. It's a great tool to encourage new membership into MDRA. There were 38 women in the group tonight; 28 signed up as new members. That's amazing!

I was nervous, but excited. When I first began to run I had always wished I would join group such as this. I always felt I was too fat, too slow, too embarrassed, to uncoordinated..oh, and I couldn't run and didn't think I could be a runner. I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone and ask for help.

Many of the women in this group felt just as I did a few years back. Over half of the women had NEVER run. I love it! Brand new exited and scared women ready to embark on something that could really change their lives..for the better. Many of the women could not believe that I was, in fact, them; that they were in fact, me. I told them they had one up on me, they stepped out of their comfort zone to run with a group of women, I was afraid to do that.

We began with me leading a warm-up and stretching session. Then we broke the group into three groups. One group (that had 1 woman) was an 'all run' group. She ran with another coach the whole workout. The second group was the 'never have run' group. They ran with another coach, walking 8 minutes and running 2 minutes 3x. I took the 'in between' group. These woman had run a bit in the past but not much. We walked 6 minutes and ran 4 minutes x3. We ended ended the session with another stretch and called it a night.

I loved it.

From here on out, for the next weeks, we have a speaker coming each week. We'll have a warm up, a workout, stretching and then the speaker. We'll discuss clothing to wear, shoes, races, injury, nutrition, etc.

I love it.

As for McNaughton, I'm set. Looks like a cool rainy weekend, which is fine. McNaughton is usually pretty wet and muddy. No biggie. It'll be a blast. Looks like a snow storm will be hitting here tomorrow. We could get a foot of snow. Hopefully as I head south, I'll be hitting rain and not snow! I'll drive back home on Sunday, following my finish. Hopefully before noon :)

Over and out...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Your new RD for the Afton Trail Run, John

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Julie, Lynn and John

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Me and John

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Heading up the snowy trail

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Larry, head cook

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Zumbro Bottoms Fat Ass Run

Larry Pederson, RD for the Fall Superior Races, put together yet another Zumbro Bottoms Fat Ass Run for those of us lucky enough to be a friend/acquaintance of his.

The Zumbro Bottoms river area is an incredible place to run. There is over 50 miles of trail; along the river, up in the bluffs, the views are incredible. There is a very nice park like area that makes for a nice relaxing aid station/start/finish with picnic tables, a shelter, bathrooms and a fire pit. Larry mans it all for us.

I almost didn't make it to Zumbro yesterday. As I was traveling East on 94 near Albertville I came across a horrific accident that had just taken place on the West side. 2 tour buses were travelling with High School students from Pelican Rapids, travelling home from Chicago from a band concert competition. One of the tour buses hit the ditch and over turned. I came upon the accident right after it happened. They hadn't yet completely closed 94, I only waited 25 minutes and was able to travel past. Because the rest of the family was already busy with other things, I decided to wait it out and arrive at Zumbro late. I'm glad I decided to.

3 hours later I arrived at Zumbro Bottoms. I saw Larry sitting in front of the fire and then watched another car pull up, as late as I.

I collected a map from Larry, asked who was all out on the trail, and saw that Lynn Saari was the other late arrival. Lucky me!

Lynn and I filled our bottles, decided we'd go out for about an hour, then come back to the rest area to refuel, and head back out for more.

We both admitted that neither one of us was very good at map reading or navigating. Larry mentioned he may offer a map reading instruction to members of UMTR. That would be a good class for me!

Once Lynn and I were able to find the trail, we had a great time. I have only spoke with Lynn a few times before so we were had plenty to talk about. The trail was muddy, some ice and snow, we were able to follow our trail shoe tracks back down the hill to the aid station. On the way back we ran into Alicia, Karen,Tom and Nancy, Wayne, Carl and Jim. We all trotted back to the aid station to refuel.

After filling my bottles I found that only Lynn and I were going to head back out. The rest were either taking off or were going to hang out and visit for the remainder of the day. Lynn and I looked at a map and headed back out for more. Lynn was looking to get roughly 20 miles in and I was up for whatever anyone wanted to run. 20 miles? Fine with me.

As we were running to the trail Steve and John were coming back. We said hello and that we were going to go out for a bit, and asked if they would like to come along for a while more. Steve and John are the fastest of the group, they had already been running for a few hours and had run more miles than anyone. John couldn't resist another run, and let Lynn and I away as Steve ran back to the aid area.

John knew the trail well so I put my map away. We spoke about John's WIN at Arrowhead, besting his already course record by 10 hours or more this past February. Crazy. John led us across the bridge, up into the bluffs and up a hill from hell. Steve and he had run up the hill during their previous loop; Lynn and I walked up the hill, huffing and puffing, sweat rolling into our eyes, amazed at how hot we felt. The snow was over our ankles but it was 60F. The first SHORTS run of the season! I had fabulous fun. I loved being out there so very much.

We ended up running over two hours for our second session, totalling 18 miles for Lynn and I. John ran much more than we did, and was running faster than we were. We all agreed that we had a great run and were ready to join the rest at the picnic area. As we ran to the rest area John yelled out to Scott to get a burger ready for him. Scott did just that.

After changing into some dry clothes and settling on a blanket with Maria, I spent the afternoon chatting with my good friends. It was a great way to spend the day.

I am thankful each and every day for this great group of friends that I have met. I would have never met them if I hadn't become an ultra runner.

Today Topaz and I headed out to the trail for a 10 mile run. Most of the snow is off of the trail now, we had a great relaxing run. His paw pad is all healed up and no longer tender to the touch.

Guess I should let up a bit before McNaughton is here. I suppose I'll rest on Friday, as I drive to Pekin. This is the first time (out of 4) that I'll be travelling solo. Wynn is holding the Chippewa 50K this Saturday so most of my friends are heading to his race instead of McNaughton. I heard that Chippewa is under 1.5 feet of snow. A 50K snowshoe race would be awesome fun!

Oh, and a plug for John. He is the NEW RACE DIRECTOR for the Afton 25/50K races. Check out his website and check out his race! We'll have a great time :)