Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October = Racing

It is hard for me to believe that it is already October first tomorrow, but by the temperature this morning it is quite apparent. Today was the first fleece hat run day for me. Topaz and I left our driveway at 430 AM this morning to a beautiful sparkling sky full of stars. Before I turned on my headlamp I gazed at all of the different formations that I could recall. What an awesome morning.

It was brisk! The digital thermometer I have in my kitchen showed my a cold 33F. I switched out my inov8 hat for my fleece and I was glad that I did. Long sleeves and pants for the first time as well.

October brings a full race calendar for me. This Sunday is Twin Cities Marathon. I am looking forward to it very much. It is the only marathon I usually enter each year, other than the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon in January. I like to support the local marathon by entering it each year. I don't really have a time goal. I've changed my thoughts since the last time I posted. I have been having such great track workouts that I thought I should go for a 330 or 335 but TCM really isn't a goal race for me, it is more of a support the local running community race and a fun run. I'm going to run hills on Saturday, as Javelina Jundred is only a few weeks out. I can use some more hill training. I imagine I'll have tired legs on Sunday due to the hills, which will be good training for the 100 mile race on the 31st!

October 17 brings the Wild Duluth 50K and 100K. This race is on the Superior Hiking Trail, a section that runs through Duluth. I haven't run this part in its entirety so I am really looking forward to the race. Because the race begins/ends in Duluth I don't need to spend a night, take vacation time or anything else. A nice drive up north in the early morning, a nice run and a drive back home before evening. No problem. No time goal for this either..just a nice long run in preparation for Javelina.

October 31 brings Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Halloween Party! I love this race. Held in beautiful Scottsdale Arizona, I can't wait to go back. 80 degrees, sun, fabulous! At this point I'm going to try PRing at 100 mile distance. I may change my mind, but I'm thinking a 22:35 would do nicely.

I'll be coming home November 1...then I suppose winter begins. I may plan a trip to TX in February for Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run. I think I may need something to look forward to in the dead of the winter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Green Burrito

Kale Salad, Sweet Beet, Hummus Plate

The Ecopolitan

On Saturday Bonnie, Marie and I met at The Ecopolitan, located on Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. I found The Ecopolitan by doing a search of raw restaurants in the area. The Ecopolitan is the only restaurant that the search engine located. I was anxiously awaiting Saturday so that I could finally check it out. In printing the menu I couldn’t believe that every item on the menu was something that I would want to try-this has never happened to me before.

The Ecopolitan is a restaurant, juice bar, wine bar and eco-shop. It is a non-profit organization and is a component of the eco-health network which promotes eco-raw living.

The restaurant offers healthy and sustainable dining by creating 100% uncooked, plant-based meals with 100% organically grown ingredients and no additives, GMOs or toxic processing. The menu is completely vegan, contains no refined sugars or flours, and is free of most common allergens-no wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs or peanuts. The fruits and vegetables are locally grown when available; they arrive fresh and are cleansed with purified water and food grade hydrogen peroxide.

I parked a few blocks up Lyndale and walked toward the restaurant, spotting Bonnie and Marie on the front step. The restaurant is in a converted older home. Thankfully there are no older upholstered pieces of furniture covered with dust as that for some reason sends me away ( think Hot Springs South Dakota bas restaurant) as does a restaurant without a lawn. That’s right. Restaurants with concrete pads only, without grass are a no no for me. OCD? Probably.

The Ecopolitan seating area is the size of a living room; hard wood floors, wooden chairs, either a wooden or glass disk table. There are a few tables out on the front porch for patio seating. In back of the seating area is a very small juice bar with a few food items for sale as well as a closet area that has juicers, blenders, raw/vegan cookbooks and such for sale.

We sat down and our waitress was with us immediately. We looked at the menus and looked at the menus, so much to choose from! Because I had closely inspected the menu earlier online I knew that I wanted to try the Purple Kale Salad with the Sweet Beet juice. Kale is my new favorite food and I wanted to see how they prepared their tahini garlic dressing. I’m happy to say I have replicated it quite successfully! Bonnie decided on the same with the Hummus Plate and Marie decided on the Green Burrito with additional Flax Crackers.

Oh My God. Delicious. Fabulous. Awesome.

The Purple Kale Salad: kale, red cabbage, tomato, kiwi, basil, sprouted quinoa, raisins and the tahini-garlic dressing. As good as I make at home, which is saying a lot. Not that I am bragging about my culinary skills but so often I go to restaurants and leave thinking “what a waste or money, I make better at home”. This was as good as mine and I was so thrilled and so satisfied and so happy and so anxious to go back!

The Sweet Beet: beet, carrot, apple, kale & ginger. It was so good! The first time I juiced the beet at home it was a little too much for me. A bit too starchy, too thick but tasty. I am now used to the taste and enjoy it greatly.

Marie’s Green Burrito was amazing. She received three collard wraps stuffed with curried humus, lentil “taco meat”, fresh veggies, sunflower seeds, sprouts and hot sauce. It was served with a large scoop of salsa and guacamole. I had a bite of her burrito and I may pick it out next visit.

Both Marie and Bonnie loved and raved about the flax crackers. Bonnie ordered another batch to bring home with which to eat her leftover hummus plate. The hummus plate was a huge scoop of humus, tomato, cucumber, olives, sprouts and dates. Served on dressed greens and flax crackers.

Our service was very good; there were probably 4 other tables filled during our stay and a few carry outs.

As we were enjoying our fabulous meal a man approached us. I knew who it was right away. THE Dr. Tel-Oren who is the creator/owner of Ecopolitan restaurant and Eco Shop.

He introduced himself, we introduced ourselves. I told him it was our first time at his restaurant and how happy I was with it. I told him I enjoyed his website as there was so much information available. I spoke of his weekends foraging in Wisconsin, his un-cooking classes and Sunday lectures. I can’t wait to take part in these events.

We all enjoyed our meals very very much. I was 100% satisfied with the food. The service was good, the mirror in the bathroom was dirty..oh well. The food is what this place is all about. The surroundings..not so much. It is not a plush posh heavily polished dark wood, leather and chrome area. It’s grandmothers living room.

As we were leaving I told the waitress that we usually choose a different restaurant each time we meet. I told her we no longer need to shop restaurants. We now know where to meet and my goal is to try each item on the fabulous menu. We normally meet in Maple Grove, half way for all of us. I don’t mind driving an additional 20 miles each way for The Ecopolitan. Not at all. I’ll have a blast eating my way through the menu. I think I’ll stop by after Twin City Marathon packet pickup this week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mongo's Grill

The other night I met my friends Bonnie and Marie at Mongo’s Grill in Maple Grove. We try to get together once a month for lunch or dinner but sometimes life gets in the way and before we know it we have missed a month.

Bonnie and Marie were the first people that I met as I stepped into the world of ultra-running. We’ve been friends since.

I had been looking for a running group in Minnesota, looking for longer distances to run and looking for someone to run with. I found an online community called Minnesota Dead Runners Society. I had been reading the emails from the group for quite some time when someone (I think Bonnie) mentioned she would like to have a meeting for beginning ultra-runners. I didn’t even know that ultras existed nor did I realize that people ran upon trails. Bonnie posted the meeting place as Lake Como on a weeknight. At the time I worked for Berkley, downtown Minneapolis, so I figured I’d just work late and meet this new group of people at 630 at Lake Como. I was nervous! I had never met a group of people via online before.

When I walked into the coffee shop there were about a dozen people in attendance, as well as Bonnie and Marie. We listened to Don Clark, Larry Pederson and Tom Andrews speak about ultra-running. I couldn’t get my head around it. Really. I thought they were crazy, but crazy in a good, inspiring way. At the end of the meeting Bonnie invited me to spend the weekend with she and Marie as Bonnie ran the Ice Age 50 Mile and Marie ran the 50K. I committed myself to the Ice Age 50 Mile and that is where the ultra-running began for me!

So, the Mongo Grill: I was very pleased! It was vegetarian and vegan friendly. It could even be raw friendly as you wouldn’t HAVE to have your dish grilled as I chose to.

This is how it went down: I took a bowl and proceeded over to the huge buffet lined with a zillion different vegetables. I could choose from mushrooms, broccoli, baby corn, water chestnuts, spinach, pea pods, boy choy, red and green peppers, bamboo shoots, red chilies, bean sprouts, red onions, green onions, yellow onions, tomatoes, celery, peas, cabbage, potatoes, beans, carrots, jalapenos, zucchini and squash, to name a (not) few. For protein there was beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon, calamari, crab, scallops, sausage and tofu. There was brown rice, white rice, shanghai noodles, steamed noodles and wraps to pick from. For sauces you could add thai peanut, orange pineapple, teriyaki, honey mustard, Mongolian, sweet and sour, red wine, spicy szechuan, lemon, garlic, red pepper, curry, BBQ, black bean or chili garlic. Isn’t that amazing! I couldn’t believe all of the options and I certainly couldn’t believe how fresh everything was.

After I filled my bowl with all that it could possible handle I brought it up to the cook for grilling. He poured the contents of my bowl onto the hot grill and in about 3 minutes it was all ready and plated for me. Fabulous!

I must say, when I first looked at the bowl that was going to hold my bevy of luciousness I didn’t think it was large enough. I thought I could eat 6 of the bowls and I said so. In all honesty, after I finished my plate I was full and couldn’t eat any more.

The prices weren’t too bad: $12 for the meal or $14 if you want to add all you can eat salad bar.

I will certainly go back at another time. We all enjoyed it.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up an ALL RAW restaurant. I’m so excited! I’ll have to post about that experience on Sunday. I really can not wait. It isn’t often – I should say it has never happened - that I have visited a restaurant and happily wanted to chose every item upon the menu. What a concept! Most of the time I look up the menu online and can't find a thing that I want to eat. This usually happens when I meet my book club or when I am meeting others who don't eat the same way as I. I am enjoying picking out new restaurants and eating with others who are open to another way of eating. I am really, really digging this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zucchini "Pasta"

Romaine Wraps

A Few Raw Foods

After posting the sweet high fat laden treats in cake form from The Cake Slice I thought I better post a few raw, crunchy food items to balance out the blog.

The zucchini 'pasta' is light and crunch, so delicious. I have a spiralizer that I had purchased years ago to make fancy appetizers with different fruits and vegetables. More recently I am spiralizing zucchini, cucumber, apples and eggplant, then creating a dipping sauce or dressing to place on top.

The sauce atop the zucchini is a tomato/basil pesto which I made by blending sundried tomato, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and basil. It's so fresh, so full of flavor and so satiating..I just can't believe it!

The romaine wraps are simple as well and oh so tasty! You could fill them with anything. I have used garbanzo beans, hummus, strawberries and lime sauce, all kinds of items. Pictured is chopped tomato, avocado, red onion, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Really, it is fabulous!

On this healthful eating note, tonight Michael Pollen of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma is speaking at Winona State. He's sold out. I would have liked to listen to him. Next time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fitting It All In

Shelly posted a question asking for some guidance as to scheduling real life with running. This is a question that I am asked frequently so I will try to offer some tips.

When I first began to run Troy was 1 and Tyler was 5. I bought a treadmill and placed it right in front of the living room TV so that I could run on it when the boys were up or when they were napping. When I wanted to run outside it had to be very early in the morning, on weekends, when Steve was home. I wanted to be home by the time the boys woke up and I didn’t want any resentment while I was gone by giving all of the morning parenting duties to Steve. I would leave by 4 AM and run with a flashlight/headlamp, returning in time for them to awake. I didn't have Topaz at this time and I didn't know people ran on trails. All of my running was treadmill or asphalt. Mostly treadmill.

Now the boys are 13 and 17 and I just love to be home in the morning when they wake and I like to fix them breakfast, so I always leave early. When they were little my long run was probably 2-3 hours, not the 5-8 I am doing now.

With my much longer weekend runs that I am now completing I usually leave by 4 and return about 9, which is about the time they wake up these days. When I have a full day of hills I am usually not home until lunch and I let them know this the night before when we go to bed.

As for scheduling my regular week work days, well…it has become a smooth oiled machine over the years. Although, I must say that the change from AM runs to PM runs is not a change I have enjoyed. I truly love my summer vacation and my morning runs for that 10 week period. I am definitely more of a morning runner and I find my afternoon runs after work to be more difficult than running first thing in the morning.

Here is how I plan out my day currently:

Because it has been in the 80’s the last two weeks and that is too warm for Topaz to run in the afternoon with me, I’ve been getting up at 4 AM so that I can run 5 miles with him in the cool darkness of 50F where he can enjoy himself and not overheat. We get home by 515 and I can jump in the shower, I’m dressed, made up and downstairs by 600. I quickly put together my juice breakfast by juicing kale, spinach, lemons, apples, celery and ginger. I pull out the salad I made the night before for my lunch and put it into my cooler along with a couple pieces of fruit, some mixed nuts and dried fruits. This goes into the car along with my gym bag that I packed the night before with shorts, run shoes, run bra, hair tie and top.

At 615 I wake up Troy and Tyler and ask for their breakfast choices. Troy will usually say pancakes and Tyler will say bagel and peanut butter. Now, I realize they are old enough to wake themselves up and old enough to make their own breakfasts. They know this too but I am home and I enjoy doing it so I do. I won't always be able to do this, they will be out of the home before I know it. I begin their breakfast and my coffee. Both are ready by 640 which is when they are showered, dressed and downstairs. Boys don’t take very long to get ready! They eat, I drink and we talk about the day.

I usually prepare a few days worth of pancakes on evenings and then I can just reheat in the morning. No sweat.

Troy and I leave at 710 for the school and Tyler leaves a bit after us for his classes and work.

I work from 730-3. With my workday ending at 3 I have quite a bit of afternoon/evening time available. With the hot afternoons lately and with Troy playing football until 430 I have been changing into run clothes after work and running 5 miles around the lake in town since it has been too hot on the trail for Topaz. I then go to the gym for 30 minutes of lifting before I pick up Troy at 430.

At 500 we are eating dinner. Sometimes it is something that I placed into the crock pot at breakfast time, sometimes it is leftovers from the night before. I ALWAYS cook enough for two meals. ALWAYS. Maybe enough for three meals. The other night I made burritos. I browned 3 pounds of hamburger and a pound of refried beans. I was able to make 21 burritos. They ate them for two days. When I make lasagna or manicotti I prepare 3 pans. They usually eat a pan and a half during one meal and I have enough for another meal the next day. I add a fresh salad and homemade bread and everyone is happy. Nobody in my home ever complains about leftovers. They love leftovers as they warm up quickly and they are able eat right away. Steve doesn’t get home until near 7 so he has to eat alone. There is no way we could wait that long to eat dinner. We’d be snacking until dinner and that would not be good.

My evenings are pretty open. If I don’t have a meeting or if I’m not coaching a running class I am getting my house work finished, laundry, preparing tomorrow’s lunches and dinner, hanging out. I don’t mind 2 or 3 evenings without anything going on, but more than that, and I am looking for something to do.

I always have tomorrow’s work outfit, shoes and jewelry ready the night before. Everything is ironed and ready to wear. I always have my gym bag packed and ready to go. I may be able to fit in a run or a workout at the gym on the way to the grocery store, Troy may have a late practice so I can run a wide block around the schools while waiting for him. Before Tyler bought a car I was driving him back and forth to work, I would leave home 90 minutes early to pick him up so I could work out at the gym beforehand.

I go to bed early. I am in bed by 9 and I read until 930. Yes, weekends too as I get up at 4 on weekends as well.

Sunday I woke up at 4, ran 15 miles with Topaz, came home by 730, cleaned house. The boys woke up at 9 so I made them French toast. Steve and the roofing crew were working hard and I wanted to feed them dinner. I made sloppy joes and put them in the crock pot. I and the boys ate breakfast, I then went grocery shopping, hitting the gym on the way to the store. I had to buy ice cream and didn't want it melting in the car. After grocery shopping I did our laundry. I was back home at 2 and really didn’t have anything else to do. I went outside to ask Steve if I could help out by picking up shingles/tar paper that was all around the house. Of course I could. I got out the wheelbarrow and hauled over 20 loads of shingles and paper to the roll off container. The guys were impressed. I didn’t have anything to do Sunday afternoon so I was able to help out. It was beautiful outside, I couldn't swim at the pool as it is closed, I had already run enough and Troy didn't want to play croquett or bocce ball. By 730 they guys were done, the boys were doing their homework and Steve and I were relaxing on the couch…I was having my sore calves rubbed. Plenty of time for everything! We were all in bed by 9.

Some days get busy…I sit on the Orrock Township Board, the Sherburne Planning and Zoning Board, I’m a member of book club, I coach running classes, I work,, I go to the boys games..I just schedule everything out. It works. There is time enough for everything.

If the boys have a practice before their game I will drop them off and run during the practice, return for the game, and if it is cool I’ll bring a change of clothes while I sit and watch the game. I bring spare clothes everywhere.

Many times I grocery shop during my lunch hour. I only have 30 minutes, but the store is only a few minutes away. My sister and Mom are amazed at how quickly I can get through the grocery store. Even when I have more time I fly through because that is what I am used to and I really despise grocery shopping but I do it often. I have two growing teenage boys who are starving all of the time and I seem to need fresh fruits and veggies every three days!

I write my grocery list so that the items that I am going to purchase are in order as I get into the store. This helps for a quick shopping. Sometimes I may have to shop two days in a row if I need a lot of food, but if I don’t have time on the weekend then this is how I get it done. It works!

I run errands to the post office, the pharmacy, etc. during my lunch hour as well. I don’t like to sit at work during my lunch break, I like to get outside to feel the sunshine and air plus it is a good break from the office. If I have time I will then shovel my salad down my throat in my car after my errands or I will just eat at my desk but most of the time I am not running errands..I’m sitting at a picnic table enjoying the sun and fresh air..unless it is winter. Blech.

I do suffer during the winter months. I am going to look for one of those lamps before the days are dark at 5 PM.

In the winter I run on my treadmill for 3-4 miles each morning and then after work I snowshoe with Topaz from 330-5 or so. I don’t have any coaching classes during the winter months and only a few meetings; the boys don’t play winter sports so it is very boring for me on week night evenings. I am not gardening, I am not swimming in the pool. I get so tired of darkness at 5 PM and feeling like I should put on my pajamas and go to bed at 7 as there is nothing else going on. In fact, I am now negotiating with a retailer for a position within their ‘floater pool’. I will be able to schedule myself when I am available and will be on call when others call in sick. I would like to work a few evenings here and there and obtain a nice discount as well. I really don’t like having free nights upon free nights..I really do become bored and a girl can only run, bake and clean so much.

I do love a good portion of the weekend at home, however. We are all relaxed, low key, just enjoying home.

This is how I schedule my days and it seems to work. I never feel stressed or like I can’t get everything in that I want to. I feel as though I have plenty of time to do all that I want to do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Cake Slice: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

The Cake Slice: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

See the layers of marzipan/raspberry filling!

The Cake Slice: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

I just realized that I have never posted my August cake as I was out running Lean Horse. This Pistachio Petit Four Cake is probably the one I have had the most fun with. There were many different steps and instructions for this cake, it was so much fun! I have never made a marzipan before and really wasn't sure what to expect. It was fabulous.

Pistachio butter cake, rolled marzipan, raspberry jam (I subbed for apricot) and a chocolate glazed made for one hell of a delicious and beautiful cake. I even made marzipan balls for decoration out of my extra. I know, balls are not much for decoration but for me...yeah, they are!

This was Troy's favorite of all of the cakes from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

Here is the recipe:

August Cake: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

Marzipan, apricot preserves and a dark chocolate glaze turn a pistachio butter cake into an irresistible dessert reminiscent of European petit fours glaces.

Makes an 8inch triple layer cake; serves 12 to 16

Augusts Cake: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

(Recipe from Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)

¾ cup skinned pistachio nuts

1 & 2/3 cups sugar

2 cups cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ cup apricot preserves

Marzipan (below)

Dark chocolate glaze (below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Spread out the pistachios in a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly coloured. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. Finely chop the pistachios and set ¼ cup aside for decoration.

Put the remaining ½ cup pistachios in a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds.

Add the butter, milk and vanilla and wit the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.


8 ounces almond paste

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. Add the confectioners sugar and corn syrup and beat until smooth. Wrap well in plastic so it doesn’t fry out and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before rolling.

Dark Ganache Glaze

1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

Chop the chocolate coarsely and out it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour immediately over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making before it starts to set. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before use.

To Assemble

Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners sugar to about 1/8th inch thick. Set one of the cake pans upside down on the marzipan and trim around it with a small knife to make an 8 inch round. Repeat twice more with the remaining marzipan. Save your scraps to make roses for decoration if desired.

Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Spread ¼ cup of the apricot preserves evenly over the top, leaving a ¼ inch margin all round to allow for spreading. Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup ganache glaze over the top of the marzipan so that it is completely covered. Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, marzipan and glaze.

Add the final cake layer and top with preserves and marzipan as before. Place the whole cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan. Pour the remaining dark ganache glaze over the cake, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top and sides of the cake. Allow the ganache to set before transferring to a plate. It should be smooth and glossy.

Garnish the top with the reserves chopped pistachios.

Optional: Make some marzipan roses with any leftover marzipan scraps if desired.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

The Cake Slice Final: Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

This is the final installment of The Cake Slice. We have baked through 12 months of wonderful high rise cakes with a new cookbook from which to bake on the horizon.

Needless to say, I have already baked this cake two times and have posted pictures twice. I'll post again just for good measure!

It's a fabulous cake. You may read my earlier poster here for ingredient list and review.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Steve G asked about the construction at Hyland; it wasn't too bad. Big machinery at the bottom of the hill but easy to walk under the yellow warning tape. The loud arm flagging man is at the bottom of the hill with his pole people. If you click on the picture it will enlarge.

Back to Hyland's Ski Hills

Yesterday Steve coerced my brother in law and the remainder of his pool team to help tear off and re shingle our home. They are still at it today. Troy had friends over and Tyler was working a long day shift. With everyone tied up it looked like a good day for a hard workout.

I decided to head for the hills. Javelina is 6 weeks out and I haven't been to the hill since I ran Lean Horse 4 weeks ago. Time to get back at it!

I reached Hyland in the early dark morning. I strapped on my headlamp and looked for the hill I wanted. I actually saw another headlamp in the dark. I found an open gate and headed for the ski hill. Cooler with three gallons of heed, my iPod, iPhone a few gels and I was all set.

Warmed up running the hilly path for a few miles and then planted myself at the hill. My plan was to run 20 hill repeats, run a few miles on the hilly path, repeat, repeat again. I was looking for at least 18 miles.

Eventually the sun came up, a spectacular sunrise and I took off my headlamp and replaced it with my sunglasses. It was going to be a beautiful, warm day. We've had a stretch of 80's for the past two weeks. Amazing.

After 20 repeats I ran a few miles on the path to stretch my legs and noticed a half dozen of other runners out on the hills.

As I continued my repeats I noticed a man coming toward me and flailing his arms back and forth. I took out an ear but and listened to him. "BE SURE YOU DON'T RUN THE WORN PATH, THEY WON'T LET US OUT HERE IF WE ERODE IT" I explained that I had in fact read the sign that stated just what he said and showed him that I was not running on the worn path. Hello. I continued on.

He continued to let everyone know upon the hill that they should not run on the worn though they could not read the sign that said exactly that. About an hour later he came up to me AGAIN, flailing arms in the air and told me again "YOU BETTER STAY OFF THE WORN PATH OR THEY WON'T LET US USE IT ANYMORE" I looked at him and nodded. Yeah, whatever. See, I'm on the grass, dude.

Finally, the third time that he approached me I took out my ear buds and said DUDE. I GET IT. YOU'VE TOLD ME THREE TIMES. HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT? I AM WEARING THE SAME CLOTHES, I'VE BEEN HERE FOR 4 HOURS SO FAR AND YOU TELL ME EVERY HOUR" Oh, he said..and walked off..

Pretty soon I notice the man with the flailing arms and loud yelling voice with a group of 30 people with poles. He is instructing them, guiding them up a less steep hill, over and over again. I don't think he needs to worry about the single runners out there eroding the path..he needs to worry about his own class and the fact that IT may be cancelled if they continue to erode the path. Sheesh.

By the time I finished all my repeats and hilly runs in between I had 25 miles in. I ran a 2 mile cool down, finished the last of my three gallons of heed and called it a day.

Until I arrived home and saw it was 75 degrees, cool enough to take Topaz for a short run! We went out for 8 miles and my calves let me know that they had enough of this business.

I returned home, showered, took the boys to play miniature golf..I won..and cooked up the roof crew a nice dinner.

Today Topaz and I ran 15 miles on the trail and by mile 11 my calves were again letting me know that they were just about finished. We walked over to the river so a good soak and jogged back to the car.

Today the guys are getting a less fussy meal..sloppy joes that I just placed into the crock pot.

Now I need to get off to the grocery store to restock my kitchen.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bear Water Run

Since I had been out of town for five days, three weeks ago, while I ran Lean Horse 100 Mile, I didn't feel like I should be heading up north to Lutsen to run the Superior races this weekend. So much for 'should'. When I mentioned to Steve a few days ago that I am normally packing drop bags to head up to Sawtooth 100 he asked why I wasn't going to this year. I explained that I was just out of town for 5 days and I felt like I 'should' stay home. He pooh poohed me and said to go up north, enjoy myself and run well. I had already made up my mind to stay home but it is nice to know that he was fine with me going.

I looked at to see what road races were in town this weekend for a training run for Twin Cities Marathon. I haven't run distance on asphalt forever so figured I might as well. I found the Bear Lake Run 10 and 20 mile as well as City of Lakes 25K. I know I've run the City of Lakes before and I think I may have run Bear Lake 20 but I haven't looked in my old log books yet to see for sure.

Twin Cities Marathon is just three weeks away so I decided I'd get some asphalt training in for it. I decided to run 20 at Bear Lake and then an additional loop of 12, making it an ultra distance training run. Maybe TCM will seem easier that way!

People that aren't runners ask me if marathons seem effortless now that I run 100 mile races. No, they don't seem effortless. It's a matter of frame of mind. When the mind knows it is 26 miles it hurts and becomes difficult at 20 miles. It's all in the mind.

Today was just a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, humid. Just how I like it. I can't believe it is 83 degrees right now. I love it!

I was worried about race day registration. The race fills at 1200 so I didn't know if I'd make the cut. I decided I'd give it a try and if I didn't make it I'd head out to run the 50K course at Afton, forgetting the asphalt. I didn't want to run a 50K on asphalt alone. I'd be bored silly. As TCM isn't a goal race for me, it really didn't matter.

I made the registration cut off with a number in high 900s. I was about an hour early so I don't know if they reached the max or not. Lots of people for this road race.

We began at a beach, on a skinny asphalt path. The 10 and 20 milers began together so it was quite crowded but there was Championship Timing so nobody was pushing to the start too quickly.

The race was very nicely done; well organized, great water stops, a picturesque course, actually. There were aid stations every 2..yes, every 2 miles so I didn't carry liquids the first 20 miles. I wore my Nathan vest for gels. I used every aid station! It was real warm so I drank a couple of glasses of Gatorade and a couple of glasses of water at each stop. The two mile aid stations came up quickly. Each station had a theme; there was the White Bear Lake Dance Line and others. I recall the Dance Line because they were cheering madly and were very encouraging.

As I listened to conversations around me it became apparent that many were running their first 10 mile race as well as first timers at 20 miles. How inspiring! It was really fun to listen in on the worries, the experiences, the races they were training for.

One thing that was kind of cool: many of the homes around White Bear Lake have statues of white bears in their yards and hanging from their mailboxes.

The course went around the lake and before I knew it 10 miles were up and I was off for another 10. My first lap was 130. I made a note to now slow it down a bit so that I was up for an additional 22 miles.

When I came around to 20 miles the clock was at 311 I believe. I wasn't wearing a watch so I congratulated myself on being able to hold an accurate pace. I'll take all of the congratulations I can give myself!

As I crossed the finish line I removed my chip and had a couple of orange slices. I picked up my finishers bag and began to head to my car. As I was leaving the race I heard my name called. There was Dave Just, who I haven't even seen this summer. It was nice to see him. He was the only person I recognized at the race!

I walked to my car, dropped off my bag, filled two bottles with Heed, replaced the gels in my vest and headed out for another loop.

At aid station 1 they began to cheer for me, I said "oh, I'm done" then realized I had my number on. I took it off and threw it into the garbage, then noticed that there were still runners out there beginning their second loop.

I decided to put on my iPod and just enjoy the next 12, slow and steady.

When I finished my 30 miles there were still quite a few runners milling about the beach. I hung out for a few minutes and went out and back another mile, calling it a 50K.

I must say, when I first decided to run this race I had toyed with the idea of running it as a time trial for Twin Cities Marathon. I then decided against it and run it as a training run. I was tired at the finish and happy it was a slow training run!

The Bear Lake Run is a good one, I enjoyed it very much :)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tempo Run

Gee, two posts right in a row! I must be on a roll.

After having such a great track workout yesterday I was anxious to see what a tempo run would look like today. Normally I have an easier recovery day right after track, but Troy had football practice right after school, only giving me 1.5 hours. I didn't have time to come home, get Topaz and head out for the trail. I just ran 10 miles around the lake two times and then was on schedule to pick up Troy.

The tempo run was awesome! After a day of having my senses assaulted by the noise in the school office on the first day of students back to school I was certainly ready for a good long hard run. I warmed up slowly the first mile..then hit the next 4 miles at a 7:37 minute mile pace. I felt so good that I looked down at my watch and decided I could push it harder. I ran the next 4 miles at a 715 mile pace. What? I don't know. Whatever it is, it is good. GOOD I say. I have never run this fast. It just amazes me as to what the body can do with training. I began what, 12 weeks ago, on this speed schedule. It's made a big difference..was the Lean Horse 100 PR of 22:36 partly because of my tempo and track workouts? I'm beginning to think so. Maybe it was the hard training and not just good luck. Wow. How does a few hours of fast running each week equate to running a 100 mile ultra faster, though? To run faster you need to run faster. Is that it?

Matt Patten: you left a comment that you hear this comment: I remember when Julie Berg was slow. I smiled at that comment. Thanks. It made me feel good.

This just goes to show you dear readers that if you are struggling and feeling slow, you can get faster! You don't have to be genetically gifted, you don't have to be lucky, you can work hard and get results! Isn't that fantastic? It makes us equal. We can work hard and get faster. I love it. I truly love it.

Raw Corn Salad Wraps: My Meal

The Guys Meal: Sirloin, Corn on the Cob, Fruit, Corn Salad and Chips

Cooking for the Family

I've been receiving quite a bit of email recently from readers wondering how I manage the dinner meals, if my family is eating as I, if I am cooking differently for all of us.

For many years I've been cooking separately meals for my family and I. Steve, Tyler and Troy like to have a meat, a veggie, a bread and fruit for dessert. This is a very balanced way of eating the Standard American Diet. It isn't fast food, it isn't high sugar or high carb; this SAD is quite healthy in most circles.

I usually grill them a meat-lean beef or chicken. I usually foil potato, carrot and onion and grill along side the meat. I bake bread every weekend so there is always sliced bread upon the table and a dessert of fruit salad (just chopped apple, kiwi, pineapple, peach...whatever I have in the fruit basket) and a squirt of fresh lemon. I would then create a huge salad for myself and place one of the lean meats upon it, joining them in the fruit dessert. No big deal.

I would never eat what they are eating just because I didn't want to cook another meal for myself. There is absolutely no way I would ever eat something that I didn't want to. Ever. I have a difficult time understanding when a reader writes "I am eating pork and potato salad because that is what my husband wants for dinner" "My husband wanted BLT sandwiches and tomato soup tonight." "My mom made lasagna and garlic bread" WHAT? Take a few extra minutes and fix something to fuel YOUR body. Take care of yourself and eat what you want to eat. My goodness. I have a hard time with this one. I receive this 'excuse' all of the time.

Today I wanted to try a raw corn/avocado/red onion/lemon juice combination upon collard wraps. I grilled sirloin for the guys, made my salad above for the collard wraps, placed the remaining corn salad on the table with blue corn chips, boiled corn on the cob for the guys and made fruit salad. No problem. I then don't 'have' to eat sirloin and boiled corn on the cob. See? Simple!

If I ask the guys what they want for dinner (I normally just fix them suggestions unless I am out of ideas) and they say fajitas and I am fine with fixing them, I will make them a pot of fried sirloin and have a ton of stir fry veggies separate from the beef. I'll then take a collard wrap and have stir fry veggies and maybe if I feel like it, some brown rice. No problem. Would I eat a beef fajita? I can't think of a time that I have. I think of fajita and think of beef, cheese, sour cream. Ew.

You really can cook for yourself and the family and it really isn't that difficult. It just takes a bit of change and you are worth that bit of change! Let me know how it goes for you.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The End of Summer

It is truly the end of summer. Although I have been back to work for the past month and Tyler has been to school for the past two weeks, Troy and all of the other Big Lake students go back to school tomorrow.

Labor Day weekend marks the last hurrah for summer in my book. Steve and Troy went up north to the lake, I stayed home with Tyler as he was scheduled to work all weekend. My Mom came down for the weekend and my Dad stayed up north with Steve and Troy at the lake.

This weather this weekend was as good as it gets. 80's, humid, a slight breeze, awesome. I was left to make recommendations as to what Mom, my sister and I would do on Saturday. Our day began at the Blue Hill Trail. Topaz and I ran a few loops and then mom and sister joined me. Mom walked sis's dog and I and sis ran a loop together. She's running 6 miles now each day! Gotta like that. I suggested we walk Lake Calhoun and Harriet, then have lunch at French Meadow,-where there were vegan and raw items on the menu to choose from - with a Macy's run to Southdale for work clothes. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Sunday was morning running at the trail and more shopping. This time off to Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, where we parted after a few hours. I went off to The Dock in Stillwater (no non meat entrees..she wouldn't even change 'make to order an item for me) to meet my best ultra friends and sis and Mom headed back home. Another delightful day.

Today they met up with me at the trail again-I'm getting spoiled! Mom then headed back up north, I dropped off Topaz and headed for the track.

I haven't completed a track session since the week before Lean Horse. I feel totally recovered so back I went today. Man, I like my numbers! I hit PRs for every 800! Amazing. I ran 12 of them and felt as strong for the last one as for the second one. The first one is always my slowest. I'm wondering if I could pull off a 330 or 335 at Twin Cities Marathon. I'm thinking I might try it. Still 3 weeks away, we'll see how I feel as the weeks go on. Tomorrow after work it will be too hot to run with Topaz on the trail so I'll get in my tempo run before picking up Troy from football practice. Ah, another new schedule to get used to.

I'm not going up for the Fall Superior Races. I've been privileged the past three years to run the Sawtooth 100, I've fully enjoyed the race. Last year the family went with me to Leadville a few weeks prior to Sawtooth so it didn't seem like I had been away much, now this year I was just away for 5 days off to Lean Horse, I just don't want to be away again already for three more nights. Troy has a football scrimmage on Friday and I'll be cheering him on. I may run the 20 mile White Bear Lake run on Sunday. No commitments at this time.

Steve is closing up the pool tonight. Truly the end of summer. Get out and enjoy tonight! It's glorious.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Breakfast Of Champions

This is one of my new favorite breakfast items. I can't believe that I enjoy this shake or smoothie or whatever it is more than my past favorite breakfast item of oats. I loved oats! I am now choosing a green drink each morning instead because I love it more than the oats! No one is more surprised than I at this change in breakfast love.

The drink above is 1 frozen banana, 1 peach, 1 handful of baby lettuces, 1 handful of spinach, 5 leaves of kale and a tablespoon of ground flax. It tastes light, fresh and amazing. Really. I feel fabulous drinking this. I can't believe it. It's a great pre run drink-chock full of good carbohydrates and vitamins.

Yesterday I had an avocado, kale, collards, spinach, mango and pineapple with flax seeds blended to perfection. Yum. It's quick and easy. If it is too thick to drink I add a cup of water and blend.

I'm no longer afraid of fats. I might eat 1 or 2 avocado a day as well as using olive oil in my salads and I am eating plenty of nuts and seeds. This rocks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thank You!

Wow. Thank you for all of the kind comments. I had no idea that my last post would have so many of you posting comments and sending emails. I appreciate it very very much. I love that I am able to inspire so many of you. THIS is why I blog!

When I first began running I didn't have a blog to follow or another 'real' live person to inspire me. I didn't know any runners. I read all that I could about running and eventually began to plan a race a month, a 5K or 10K, so that I would have a reason to run every day.

Now there are many many runners who have blogs out in cyberspace, and I'm sure, many to draw inspiration from. I'm grateful that I am able to inspire some of you.

My recovery from Lean Horse has been absolutely amazing. For two days following the race I was absolutely sick to my stomach. On Sunday all that I could get down was a piece of dry toast. On Monday was able to get down some trail mix but that is it. I did drink a ton of water. My brain told me to eat or drink a good recovery meal but my stomach said no, no! I went with my stomach.

Because I ate next to nothing I thought that my recovery would suffer. This didn't happen at all. I didn't have any muscle soreness, I had absolutely NO swelling, NO bloat. Amazing! I am normally a good 10 pounds heavier post 100 but not this time. I weighed exactly what I weighed before the race as after the race. Amazing again. I walked on Tuesday but on Wednesday I was running again.

Normally after a 100 I suffer from an intense, itchy, dry skin. My skin begins to flake on my face, eventually covering my whole body. I imagine this is due to dehydration. After this race I only suffered a bit of flaking upon my face, otherwise I was clear. I did a dry brush to cleanse the toxins for my sking but there was hardly any dry skin from the post race recovery. Amazing.

I wonder if all of the nutrients/moisture in the high raw/all vegan diet are making this difference in my skin..or if my body has just adapted to the 100 mile runs, making recovery easier.

I'm looking forward to Javelina Jundred! This year the race is held on Halloween. I see Caballo Blanco (Born to Run) is listed. In communicating with Jamil (RD JJ), I learned that Jamil has run with the Tarahumara Indians in Copper Canyon. Now Micah True is coming to run Javelina Jundred.

Have a great day!