Friday, December 31, 2010

46 Miles for 46 Years

46! The years just go by more and more quickly. Amazing.

This year my birthday run was WET! I couldn't believe it when I woke to 38F yesterday morning with rain and a high of 42 forecast for the day. Crazy.

Topaz and I began at Lake Maria State Park for a snowshoe start to the day. There is only about 9 miles of hiking/snowshoe trail and I didn't want to repeat 5 times. I would be finishing my run on road. Wet road.

It was still dark so I couldn't see the trail conditions, but I sure felt them. Soft. Real soft. The rain hadn't yet begun, just a barely able to feel it drizzle, it might have only been wet fog. My snowshoes sunk only a bit in the beginning, I was able to run the 9 miles on top of the snow most of the time. The thick tree cover and heavy fog kept the trail in OK condition most of the time. Until the fog broke, the light came through and the rain POURED upon us. Running on snowshoe in the pouring rain, I think that is a new one.

I pulled my jacket back on and was surprised that the rain wasn't soaking me to the skin. I was warmer than I liked but I didn't want to get a cold soaking. After a few more hours my snowshoes were no longer necessary. I was sinking completely to the dirt trail. Amazing. I was so glad we went skiing the day before and not today!

Once the sun came up I noticed that Topaz was digging along the trail every once in a while. He would dig a deep narrow hole, looking for something and then when I would get back to him I'd see him eating something! This happened a few times. As he was again digging in the snow I interrupted him and dug in the hole with my finger, wondering what I was going to find and bit nervous about what was going to be at the bottom of the hole. Guess what it was? M&Ms! Someone had been out on the trail and was dropping M&Ms along the way! Topaz enjoyed them. Chocolate is not good for dogs but I had already had a major chocolate episode with our last dog and knew that Topaz had not consumed enough for me to have to worry.

I headed back to the car for a change of gloves, water, SCAPS and VESPA. I had a few gels in my pocket that I was using. I am finding that I really like this VESPA. I seem to recover more quickly since I've been using it. I find that I drink more water, using more salt when using VESPA. I wasn't using Hammer Heed yesterday so the SCAPS were a good idea.

After removing my snowshoes and changing gloves and jacket I was ready to head out again. I tried to get Topaz to drink but he refused. He ate lots of melty snow and rolled in the wet snow constantly to keep himself cool. I had 24 miles in so far and decided to run upon the state park roads for a while. It felt good to run with a longer stride and to have the snowshoes off. The road was gated in spots but I had read on the park website that the blocked off roads were only prohibited to motorized vehicles.

Topaz ran in the ditch most of the time, opting for the soft wet snow instead of the hard packed snow upon the road. Many times he chased after turkey, deer and squirrel and I wouldn't see him for a while. I stopped a few times, listening for him in the woods. He just doesn't run out of energy. I was running out of energy!

By the time 46 miles was done I was beat. I was thankful that I had run Tuscobia the week prior; it made for a great training run for my birthday run! Tomorrow's Polar Dash will be s l o w recovery run as today's 10 miler was.

A birthday celebration dinner at Pittsburgh Blue last night with my family topped off the birthday day. Fabulous!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuscobia Winter Ultra Marathon

Well, I don't know what is up with blogger photos. I put them all in order in the text and look at them, all up above in a bunch. Boo.
There is Wayne and I on the bus to the start and Wayne, Vicky and Marcus ready to begin the run. There is one of Wayne and another runner climbing up a hill, the Christmas light display with me.

A few weeks ago I was looking for an ultra to run before the end of the year and
found the Tuscobia Winter Ultra Marathon. I hadn’t heard of the race before so
as I looked it up I learned that it takes place in Wisconsin on the Tuscobia
State Trail. This trail is a 74 mile abandoned railroad grade that is used as a
snowmobile trail during the winter months. The trail runs southwest from Park
Falls to Rice Lake, WI.

This race offers a run, bike or ski/skijour option. I would be running-although
I did think about the skijour option. Topaz and I have enjoyed it very much but
the cabin I rented didn’t allow dogs.

The race offers three distances: 50K, 75 Mile and 150 Mile. The gear
requirement for all three races includes headlamp, flashing red LED lights on
front and back, water carrier, 10” reflective material. For the 75M and 150M
64 oz water container, 3000 calories of food, -20F sleeping bag, insulated
sleeping pad, bivy sack or tent, 3.5 oz fuel, firestarter, stove to melt snow.

I reserved a cabin at Northern Pines Resort on Butternut Lake. Vicky recommended
it as she stayed here last year. It really was a great choice! Steve and Troy
were coming along for a fun weekend; they would ice fish while I was running.

I had intended on snowshoeing the race. I was surprised when I stopped at the
packet pickup Friday evening and learned that the participants were not
snowshoeing, that they would be running in the loose snow. Hmmm…

I didn’t know if I should use my snowshoes. I wouldn’t have the weight of the
snowshoes and the straps wouldn’t be irritating the top of my foot as they
sometimes do after 4-5 hours of running. If there wasn’t enough snow I surely
didn’t want to use them. We didn’t arrive to Butternut Lake until 8 PM so I
wasn’t going to go check out the trail at that time. I didn’t know what to do.

We navigated our way to the cabin rental It was placed right on the lake-two
bedrooms, bathroom and a large kitchen with living room. All appliances, linens,
dishes; I was very impressed. We unpacked and heated up the dinner I had
prepared at home. A few games of Jenga and we all went to bed.

The race didn’t begin until 10 AM (!) so I had a ton of time in the morning. I
fixed breakfast for all of us, packed up my gear and went next door to introduce
myself to Marcus from Duluth and to say hi to Wayne and Vicky. Steve and I were
going to follow them to the finish where we would take a bus to the start. Steve
would then know where to pick me up after the race. I told him I would be
finished in 7.5 hours.

I decided to leave the snowshoes behind. Marcus was running in Vibrams-I figured
if he could run in those I could run in my Inov 8 Gortex trail shoes! I didn’t
have spikes or screws, although Vicky offered my some screws. I didn’t feel like
taking the time to screw my shoes and because we wouldn’t be running on ice, I
didn’t think they would offer much traction in the snow.

The start temperature was 6F, the high for the day would be 10F. There was a
wind but it would be at my back, score! I wasn’t worried about getting cold. I
have the clothing figured out for running in this type of weather. I don’t want
to be too warm, cold sweat will freeze, wet clothes are not a good thing!

A school bus was waiting for us at the finish line. We boarded and were on our
way! It was so cold on the bus! My feet were absolutely freezing and this
worried me. I was wearing a new cozy pair of smartwool socks under my shoes. I
couldn’t believe how frozen my feet felt. I took my shoes off and began to rub
my feet with my hands, trying to get warm. Marcus looked at what I was doing and
was relieved that his feet weren’t the only ones that were cold. He didn’t have
on any socks, just the Vibrams.

We arrived at the start line in Winter, WI. I stayed in the bus until start
time. As we piled out I counted 26 starters. 25 run and 1 ski. Nobody was
wearing snowshoes.

As soon as we began my feet warmed up. I never noticed any cold during the race.
I was very comfortable, temperature wise.

The trail was very wide-maybe 6 feet across, well covered with snow, some rocks
strewn about. I began too fast and warmed up very quickly and saw that my first
mile was less than 10 minutes. I knew that was too fast and didn’t like that I
had allowed myself to do this. I knew this race would be difficult, mentally,
for me and I was already experiencing that. My finish goal was 7:00-7:30. I
told Steve to be at the finish in 7:30 so I checked myself and slowed down.

The miles were going by pretty quickly; I was very comfortable, drinking hammer
heed and taking gels. I was having a good time.

I knew there was a checkpoint at the halfway mark with water and gels. I
conserved my now slushy hammer heed so that I wouldn’t be dry.

When we came to a road crossing I saw Jim Wilson. He asked if I needed water,
my own Trail Angel! Jim topped off my bottles and off I went, smiling down the

I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders once I had full
bottles. I drank greedily, knowing I could refill in a few miles. Whew!

The trail began to get quite a bit softer. It seemed that the snow was deeper
and that it was churned up by snowmobiles. I kept trying to find a hard packed
area where I could run without slipping. It seemed that the outer edge of the
trail was best. I would stay there until it became soft and then hunt along the
trail for a better piece.

I noticed that Marcus’ Vibram footprint crossed back and forth over the trail as
I did. He must have been looking for firm snow as well. His print didn’t seem to
‘dig in’ to the snow as the tread of the trail shoes did. I wondered if that
made it easier. I pictured him floating across the snow. He did finish a half
hour earlier than I did.

The half way point came a bit early. My Garmin told me we were at 13 miles. I
was happy to know that the aid station was early otherwise I could have broken
down mentally, that 2.5 miles does made a difference. I asked the woman at the
station and she told me we were at 16 miles. I didn’t argue. I filled up my
bottles, grabbed a handful of gels (so thankful!), and carried on.

Each time I took a step my foot would slide a bit, only ¼” or so to the side.
Eventually this caused knee pain and pretty soon my pectinus /hip flexors weres
killing me. I don’t know that I have ever had such pain during a race before,
other than a 100 mile race.

When I caught up to Wayne I asked him if the course was short or if the aid
station was just early. He confirmed that the aid station was just early. OK,
now I knew that I wouldn’t expect the finish at 26 miles, it would be 50K. It
looked like I would be finishing within my goal time.

I came to an area where the snow was very deep, soft and churned up. I was
barely running, my form was so inefficient that I tried walking but that was
just too slow and depressing. I looked ahead and saw that Wayne was
walking…walking faster than I could run. Ugh. My knees and adductors were pain
filled. I looked at my watch and saw that the last mile took me 17 minutes.
Good grief.

I trudged along, trying to find a firm area on the trail where I could run
easily. It wasn’t happening. A bunch of snowmobiles flew past me.

Lisa and Lynette were at many of the road crossings. Lisa took many great photos
and I was able to get water from her as well. I told them how nice it was to
have them out there, checking in on us. Really they were there to check on
Wayne, I believe, but I wasn’t far behind Wayne so I was able to enjoy their
company too!

The surroundings were very pretty. Lots of pine covered with heavy snow, many
bridges over rivers. There was a section along the road but it wasn’t too long.
I really enjoyed the scenery. I didn’t see any deer but did see two timberwolf
on the lake earlier.

I ran solo most of the time, catching up with Wayne one in a while, then with a
skier for a bit, but mostly solo. At around mile 20 I turned on my iPod and
listened to music. I noticed that not only was this one of the few runs that I
felt pain, but it was also one that I wasn’t high on endorphins. Normally I’m
swinging my arms, laughing, smiling, yelling out Megadeth and cranking up the
trail. I think the slow pace put a limit on the endorphin rush!

I often though of Jason and Lynn who were competing the 75 mile race. This was
their first race of this type and I was very intrigued as to how it was going
for them.

I must say, this 50K has certainly sparked my interest in the 75 mile race next

As I was running down a hill I caught a branch. Boom! I slid outstretched a
good 10 feet and ended up sprawled upon the ground. Thankfully it was deep here
so I didn’t skin my face up on any rocks. My foot was sore, I really banged it
up . I began to walk, checking my limbs, making sure everything was OK. I was
fine, just shook up.

Eventually the sun became weak. I ran up to two men in front of me and asked one
of them if he would take my headlamp out of my pack. He obliged and handed it to
me. I turned on my lights and was ready to grind out the last few miles to the

Ah, the water tower! I remembered at the start someone mentioned that when we
saw the water tower we would be nearing the end. He warned us to look out for a
sharp right turn to the finish. I saw the sign and was really happy to finish
this up.

Looking at my watch I was at 6:45, a few more minutes to go. I came up to two
people standing around, Tim the RD and Wayne. Gee, I was at the finish! Ah,
Amen! I was told I was third woman. I was so happy to be finished.

Wayne and I stumbled into the warming tent. I removed my pack and took off my
lights. Oh man, it felt so good to stretch out. Hot coffee was offered, a warm
heater, it really was nice. I removed my wet mittens, hat and neck gaitor and
just sat.

It was fun to talk with others about the race. RD Tim did an excellent job on
the 50K race and I’m sure the 75 and 150 were just as awesome. Putting these
three races together has to be a huge endeavor and it came off without a hitch.

Steve came along and after introductions we were off to the cabin. We made a quick stop at a beautiful Christmas light display so I could get a photo. I hobbled out of the truck for the shot. He and Troy had a fun day ice fishing, we were all exhausted and into bed by 8 PM!

Even though this race was only a 50K and I didn't have to pull anything it certainly served it's purpose for me. I wanted to really embrace winter this year. I have slowly changed mymind about winter and surprise myself by my reaction. I didn't hate my time spent running this race, didn't hate the cold, didn't wonder what
the hell I was doing. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was embracing winter, trying something new and learning so much about myself in
the process. I can run a race even if it isn't all about having fun, even when it is a lot of work and I am in pain. It's ok.

The next morning after we packed up and headed out we drove along the course, looking for John, Jason, Lynn, Daryl or John. We weren't able to locate them
along the route. It had been close to 24 hours so as it turns out some had already finished and some were out on the course, we just missed them.

I was so happy to hear that John S won the 75, Jason and Lynn finished their
firsts, John T and Daryl finished their 75. Get this: Chris Scotch ran and won
the 150 mile. 150 miles in 60 hours. Can you even fathom such a thing. It is an
amazing thing, what a body can do.

I must say, I am more intrigued than ever with the 75 mile option. I am really
thinking about it for next year. I think I could give it a try and maybe even finish it.

Thank you so much to RD Tim, to the volunteers and to the runners. You inspire me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

17th Annual Lake Harriet 50K Fat Ass CANCELLED

Boo! Mother Nature has nixed the 50K fun run I had scheduled for tomorrow at Lake Harriet. It is so much fun! Approximately 7 loops around Harriet-up through the neighborhood, check my name on the list in the porch and do it again. So much fun!

I totally understand that with over a foot of fresh snow and -30F wind chills it had to be canceled. I'll be going solo instead.

Tuscobia is one week from today :)

We are in the midst of a good old fashioned snow storm.

This morning by 5 AM there was about 6" of snow in the driveway. It was a slow snowy drive to Maria State Park. As I figured, there wasn't ANY traffic other than snow plows. Slow and easy.

Of course the lot was empty when Topaz and I piled out of the car. He ran away like a banshee-racing me to the trail head. I had to get my snowshoes on in the dark, fumbling with my headlamp so I could strap them on.

The wind was whipping and the snow was flying. We headed off into the darkness. It kind of felt rather spooky, knowing there wasn't anyone else in the park. There were not any car tracks going into the park so unless someone was in one of the remote cabins there was nobody here but us.

I couldn't see Topaz in front of me, the snow was so heavy. All I could see was a white out in front of my lamp. Weird. Eerie weird. Cool. Way cool.

As we ran along I could hear the maples above me bending in the wind..and snapping branches..and pretty soon a branch fell in between Topaz and I. Oooh.

Daylight had to arrive soon. It seemed like at least an hour had passed. Sure enough, it was 7 AM but not a bit of daylight was approaching. The thick clouds and heavy snow was not letting any light in.

Not until 722 did I finally see a bit of light from the sky. I turned off my headlamp and watched the sun try to brighten the cloud cover. Still rather dark, but I could now see without lights.

Topaz was a flurry of activity. Chasing deer, squirrels, turkey and fox; the now fresh 8" of snow on the ground wasn't slowing him down. I was trudging. I was tired. I was out of my mind happy. SO beautiful, so peaceful, so thrilled to be out in the woods enjoying myself. There wasn't anything else I'd rather have been doing.

As I ventured out along a trail that I hadn't yet broke the snow was up past my knees, up to my thighs. This is along an open area where I normally see many deer feeding. They weren't feeding out in the open today. As the wind howled around me I realized that this was one hell of a storm. Pretty soon I heard thunder. Ah, thunder snow! Typically 1" plus of snow falls per hour when one hears thunder along with it. Amazing.

When thoughts of driving home surfaced I pushed them away. No sense in thinking about it now. Enjoy the run..

4 hours and 15 SLOW miles later we came back to the lot. My car was buried under the snow. What a sight. I helped Topaz to de-ice his legs and started the car. While it warmed I took off my snowshoes and uncovered my car. Wow, still snowing like crazy.

After a slow drive home I made it safe and sound. Troy was heading out to slide. I told him I'd quick change into dry clothes and meet him out there.

More trudging around, sliding down, climbing up, laughing on my back as I fell into the snow! What a blast.

Troy is now drinking hot cocoa, Topaz is sleeping next to the fireplace and I was going to head over to Gold's. I just called to make sure they were open and guess what? They are closing at 3 due to snow. Really?

Enjoy the snow! Go on out there, play in it, laugh in it, lay down and make a snow angel!

Topaz is Nine!

(I wrote this on Thursday but didn't realize I didn't post it until now!)

For Topaz's 9th birthday (edited to add:) on Thursday a 9 mile snowshoe run was scheduled. The weather was perfect for a winter day. No wind, bright sunshine and a good amount of snow.

At 4:00 sharp we left the lot and as usual, nobody had been upon the trails since I broke them. I carried my headlamp and a few gels for the run. I knew it would be dark upon our finish. It becomes pretty dark in the woods just before 5:00, with a pre-dark at about 4:45 where I need to take out my lights. I have such horrible night vision, it is very difficult for me to see in the darkening woods.

It was pretty cool to begin our run in the bright beautiful sunshine, breaking more trail, feeling the warm sun upon my back. Pretty soon the sky began to turn a pink and purple color as the red ball began to set. The moon began to rise and before I knew it we were in darkness. I put on my headlamp and continued to break trail. Before I knew it we were in total darkness. I stopped to flick off my light, to look at the stars. They they were, obliterating the darkness of the sky. Beautiful.

2 hours later were were back at the car, ready to head home. A perfect birthday run for Topaz :)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Winter Running Tips

I've received a lot of questions about winter running. Most of you know that I live in Minnesota; land of cold winters! Most of you also know that I normally struggle with winter. I complain about being cold, I complain about the decreased daylight, I complain about the depression that sets in and the 5-10 pound weight gain that normally comes with winter for me.

Over the past few years I have working very hard at changing my view of winter. Instead of huddling indoors and complaining I began to snowshoe run, then snowboard and now ski. I didn't really enjoy these activities at first, but with repetition and a whole mind-shift process, mentally and physically, I can say that I no longer hate winter. First time ever. Baby steps finally brought me to that goal.

Not once this winter have I complained of the cold weather, the snow, the winter, shortness of daylight; none of that. I haven't needed to. I have changed my thought process. Thank god.

When I first began running, 13 years ago, I only ran on my treadmill. My children were small and I stayed at home. My treadmill was set up in front of the TV in the living room at the time and that is where I did all of my running.

Eventually I began to run outdoors-when the temperature permitted it. I didn't run outdoors in the winter at all.

I hated winter. I hated the snow, the cold, the 'Minnesota Hunch', everything. And I thought about it and dreaded it and lived the hate every single day. Man, how sad and exhausting.

As time passed and I learned to love to run (another goal I wanted to work toward and completed with baby steps-it doesn't just happen on it's own), I decided I wanted to run during the winter and I wanted to run every day. Hmmm..what would get me out the door every day,even in the winter? You got it, Topaz!

I researched dog breeds and learned that the Border Collie must be exercised every day, an hour minimum, in order to live in a peaceful fashion. I learned that they were the smartest of dog breeds, loyal to their master, loved agility, running and were a great family dog. Sold.

I decided to try snowshoe running that winter so that I could eventually take a dog running winter trail with me. Over the years, a passion was created.

We purchased Topaz at 6 months old and I couldn't be happier with him. I purchased him in April and when the snow began to fly 8 months later I was apprehensive. I had to get this dog out each and every day. It was the promise I had made to myself.

I did it. Rain, snow, sleet or hail, hot sun, it didn't matter. Topaz needed his hour exercise. During those first few winters it rather sucked. I dreaded it quite a bit as the day went on and I would soon be home from work. I would cringe as I drove home, watching the wind bend the trees, the snow flying, the bitter cold temps. I'd walk in the door and the boys would yell "Topaz is excited for you to run!" Ugh. I'd bundle up, head to the trail head, snowshoe run for an hour and realize it wasn't so bad as I headed back home.

Fast forward a few years. Topaz will be 9 next week. I finally love, yes, love, to snowshoe run in the winter.

I've learned a few things that work for me and I will share them with you. Most importantly:

1) You will NEVER feel worse after your winter run. NEVER. You will always feel better! You may be cold and wet on your drive home (if you drive to your running location), but after a change of clothing you will feel awesome. Endorphins are a great thing. Not only that, but mentally and physically, you did something that you were going to dread, and it was OK, and you stuck with your plan. That is huge, emotionally. Good going, you!

2) Clothing: Learn to dress for the weather. This is so important. You don't have to be cold out there. Today the air temperature was 3F, windchill was -17F. I wasn't cold or wet. I felt the resistance of the wind, I heard the wind but I didn't feel the wind penetrate my clothing. I no longer become cold while running. You don't have to either. I actually became a bit warm snowshoe running. I unzipped my armpits on my outer jacket and zipped down my two tops.

3) Surfaces: Ice or snow require snowshoes if deep snow, trail shoes if ice. You can't be slipping and sliding, you may injure yourself. You need the correct shoe tread for the surface condition. Some people use screws or yak tracks. I never have.

When I first began to run outdoors I wrote the temperature and my clothing as well as how I felt every day into my MDRA log book. I still use MDRA log books, I think they are awesome, but I no longer need to monitor my clothing. I know what I need to wear.

Here is what I find works for me:

60F+ Singlet and shorts. I love the compression tanks for summer running but hate compression for winter running. For winter running compression makes me feel like a running sausage.

50-59F Short sleeve and shorts. Technical fabric all of the way. Don't wear cotton!

40-49F Longer sleeve, lightweight technical shirt, shorts.

30-39F Long sleeve, mid weight technical shirt, light tights or wind pants, I normally have to add light gloves at 30F with an ear band.

20-29F Long sleeve mid weight technical shirt, winter running jacket, heavier tights or pants, gloves, fleece hat, neck gator as the temp is closer to 20, gortex trail shoes as I am usually snowshoe running at this temp, snow shoe gator.

10-19F Long sleeve thick technical shirt, lightweight technical shirt, winter running jacket, heavier tights, winter 'over' pants (when closer to 10), gloves, wind mitten, fleece hat, neck gaiter, gortex trail shoes and shoe gaiters for snow shoe

0-9F Same as above but I add wool socks instead of microfiber which I wear otherwise and may have to add a full face mask dependent on wind.

Minus 15 to 1F Same as above and I add a vest for upper body warmth, vaseline on exposed face portions.

Minus 20 and below I'll add hand warmers to my gloves and socks and my snowboard goggles.

One of the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathons was held in the below 0 range and I was not at all cold. I stayed warm and dry because of these layering techniques. The only problem I had was that my goggles froze to the top of my fleece hat when I removed them from my face. They were iced to my hat and I had a hard time pulling them back to my face when necessary! Then I knew it was a cold day, buy hey, I won that Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon and kept my first place title alive another year.

I drive each day to the trailhead, about 25 minutes each way. On the way home my sweat gets cold, making me cold. I could change before I head home but I just don't take the time. I start the car, crank the heater, remove my neck gaiter, fleece hat, gloves and mittens. Sometimes I will call home and ask Troy to turn on the gas fireplace for me. As soon as I get home I change into warm fleece. I love Horny Toad Cashmoore fleece pants and tops. I wear them all of the time as well as Patagonia RI fleece. Yummy soft! A hot cup of tea and I'm all warmed up and comfortable.

My favorite running gear that I keep grabbing for the past few years is my Patagonia winter pants and jacket. Zipper pockets, polyester soft shell so there is no swoosh swoosh swoosh while running, soft interior fabric on collar, arm pit zippers, so warm and comfortable but real light. I wear this all of the time. As I wrote above, as it gets colder I add layers. 1/4 zipper shirts are the best! When I feel to warm I pull the zipper down, letting the cool air inside.

When the temps are cold enough for two layer of pants I like Hind Winter Ready tights. Heavy duty poly fabric with a bit of stretch. Perfect. When I first began to run in the winter I needed three bottom layers, but with these items two is fine.

I wear Inov-8 Gortex shoes from November to March, normally. The tread is good enough for trail or road without adding screws or yak-trax. I've never purchased the yak trax or any of those spikes you add to your shoe. I use the Inov-8s in my snowshoes as well.

One problem I do have is freezing water bottles. Because of this I normally run loop routes in the winter so that my car can house bottles of water out of the freezing temperatures. When very cold I wrap the bottles in warm towels from the dryer and place in a cooler into my car. This usually keeps them from freezing. It just isn't worth it to me, to carry a 24 oz water bottle at below 0 temps that is going to be an ice cube before I even need a drink.

You are all set for winter running! Really, give it a try, it doesn't have to be that horrible. If you really do hate winter, you can change that. Wouldn't it be awesome not to dread winter? It is, really! I feel so great by not hating winter. Really.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friends are Gifts

Yesterday The Pederson Benefit Run took place at Afton State Park. 'This Benefit Run was created to support our friends Colleen & Larry Pederson, who sustained a tremendous amount of damage to their home during the recent flood in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota. After the flood, many people who were able to do so, volunteered to help Colleen & Larry with cleaning up the mess & the damage left behind after the water receded. The work seemed endless, with many hours spent cleaning, tearing down walls, ceilings, pulling out the floor and the fireplace, before rebuilding could begin. Still many, especially those who were not able to be there in person, asked what more can we do? As trail runners we thought let’s do what we do best…Run! And the idea for the benefit run was born.

Over the years Larry and Colleen have become familiar faces in the Trail Running Community, dedicating countless hours of their time so that runners may enjoy the sport they love so much. Each year some of the fun that we get to experience on the trails because of them are The Fall Superior Races, Zumbro 100 & In Yan Teopa. Larry also founded the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Association'

The schedule of events slated were as follows: 1)Run either a 7 AM or 9 AM start, depending on mileage 2) Silent auction 3) Pot luck

What a great day!

I left home by 530, then stopping for gas, making my commute long enough to miss the 7 AM start. My plan was to run 6 hours, more of a time on feet than a total mileage run.

As I pulled into the lot I saw a group of 7:00 ers on their way out. A few stragglers made their way to the course start as I lubed up and added layers. My car said 6F so I put on a heavier shirt, knowing I'd be back in the lot after the first 25K I could change again if necessary.

I had consumed berries and cream at home, sucked back a VESPA enroute, grabbed Hammergel Espresso for my pockets, filled my handheld bottle with water and removed myself from the car.

Half way to Afton I wondered about the trail conditions. Were they snow covered, ice covered, should I have screws or snowshoes? It was too late. My Gortex Inov-8 winter shoes were probably fine.

As I began my run I was relieved that the trail only had about an inch of snow. Enough to make the run slower than usual but not a big deal. The tread on my shoes was enough to keep me upright. In the first mile I ran past Afton Ski Alps base hill and they were making snow. The snow was floating across the trail and here I walked as the snow was a good 4" deep. I was thankful I wasn't going to be running through that all day sans snowshoe!

I followed the trail and noticed a fat tire track from a bike and some yak track tracks amongst a few other tracks of runners somewhere in front of me. I turned to take a right up a steep hill and was surprised to see that the trail was closed due to erosion. Hmm..I trotted back onto the main trail and ran along. Pretty soon I noticed arrows pointing me to take the trail to the right. WOW, trail markings to mark the 50K course. How awesome was this! I noticed that the trail marker had a big railroad tie spike holding it upright. It had to be tough to drive that nail into the frozen ground-and the ground was rocky here. I said a thank you to the one who marked the trail.

Since I was running solo I was really paying close attention to the trail and made a point to look for these nifty arrows on the ground and each trail intersection. What a blessing.

About 4 miles into my run I came running down the hill and there was a big cooler of water at the first 50K aid station when the summer Afton Trail Race is held here. What a treat. My bottle was frozen up and the water was more ice chunk than water. I smacked my bottle on the table and filled it up with the warm water, gulping it down before it froze. Wonderful. Filled my bottle back up, said thank you to the water deliver-er and headed off.

I was so happy to be out running, to be enjoying this wonderful day. It was sunny, not much of a breeze, the day would warm to mid 20's. Perfect.

I kept marveling at the fact that here I was, running solo, and enjoying the winter run. I was comfortable in 2 pr of gloves, hat, neck gaiter, my Patagonia heavy pants and jacket. I like my pants and jacket so much for winter running. I'm always comfortable. I've had this set for 4 years and almost think I should buy another because as soon as I get a hole or tear and need another..Patagonia will have discontinued the items. I loved my Houdini jacket and lost it at a I can't find another! The jacket they market as a replacement is not as light.

As I was saying, I was totally enjoying this run. I felt awesome, the sun was shining on my face, I felt as though I was in meditation.

As I came up near mile 9 I saw the bike I had been following leaning upon the bridge but couldn't tell who was near it. A water station was set up here so I cracked my bottle on the bench, emptied out the ice and refilled with water, sucked it back and refilled again. I looked up and there was Don Clark.

I should have figured it was him. He is Chief Course Marker and I did see his name as one of the entrants for Arrowhead 100 in the bike category. Here he was, out on the course, riding and marking. I thanked him and gave him a huge hug and stood there, yakking at him for a long time. Finally I pulled myself away from our conversation and continued my run, smiling all the way. So good to see and talk with Don. Pretty soon I hear something coming down the path. Don yells 'hey, you are running faster than I can ride this thing!' I ran with him biking along the trail for some time. What a treat.

A few miles prior to the finish of my first 25K I spotted a pair of runners ahead of me. I trotted on and came upon Tom and Carl. It was good to say hello. Tom and I began to run toward the Visitor Center. We had plenty to talk about as we rounded back into the parking lot. Tom was finished with his run, headed back to the Visitor Center and I headed to my car for a refill of VESPA, grabbed a few gels changed into a lighter shirt to wear under my jacket.

During my second 25K loop I didn't see a soul. I don't know if everybody ran 25K or less or if I was just missing everyone. It was warming up, I noticed my water was no longer freezing and my gels were no longer the consistency of frozen frosting! About 4 hours in I began to feel like I was urinating too often. I was paying close attention to how much I was drinking and then realized I hadn't taken any S-CAPS. I dug into my handheld pocket looking for some but they were not there. I couldn't help but think of my first 50K, also at Afton, where I bonked and blacked out, pretty much having Don carry me off the trail. That was 7 years ago!

I began to feel a bit loopy but nothing to fear. I ate two gels to see if that would put my mind at ease. It did. I only had two hours left to run and felt in good shape. Because I didn't stop to chat with anyone during this lap I ended up running it faster than the first.

Pretty soon I was back to the lot, then decided to walk through the picnic area for a cool down. I've noticed that walking before and after running seems to help recovery for me more than stretching does.

What a great run. I stopped at my car, collected a bag of warm clothes and headed to the Visitor Center. It was just full of people wanting to support and give to Larry and Colleen. Amazing. There was hot coffee, pop, tables of food. Tables of silent auction items and just a feeling of compassion in the air.

I quickly changed into dry clothes and began to visit. What a great group of people. Larry and Colleen didn't feel deserving of this treatment and that is because they are so humble and so giving of themselves. They couldn't get over the fact that we were there for them and we were all so happy to be able to help them out.

After a few hours of visiting I had to say my goodbyes to get on the road for home and evening plans.

Thanks to all who turned out yesterday. Together we can do anything!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slip Sliding Away

The roads and everything else today are absolutely trecherous! When driving home from church service last night a light mist was falling. I knew it meant trouble for driving out to the trail head today.

By 6 AM there was a thin layer of ice over everything. I drove very slowly to Lake Maria and not too suprisingly, didn't encounter many vehicles.

The gravel lot was even layered in ice. Topaz jetted across it, skidding out before he reached the dirt of the trail. I slid along the lot very slowly until I came to the trail. The clear ice sparkeled under the beam of my headlamp.

The trail wasn't in bad shape as most of it is under a heavy tree canopy. There were a few icy spots but all in all it was an excellent run although it was much 'noisier' than usual. The grass and leaves were covered in a fine thin ice, crinkling and crackling under my feet.

We spooked a flock (flock?) of turkeys in the middle of the trail. As they flew up into the trees shards of ice fell upon us. It was so cool!

After a few hours the mist turned into a heavier 'almost' rain, but was still freezing upon contact. As I navigated the open field the ice was apparent. I sort of skated through the meadow until I entered the forest where my traction was much better.

Topaz wouldn't slow down no matter what the surface; he skidded along the meadow even though I was telling him to slow down. I was afraid he'd damage a knee as he shimmied across the ice. Somehow he kept his balance.

After 4 hours of running we exited the woods to the barren lot where only my car was sitting, covered in a layer of ice. After chiseling the windows I slowly drove home..very slowly. MNDOT advised no driving for this morning and they weren't out sanding. Very slippery.

Once I arrived home and told Troy about the ice he couldn't wait to check it out. Troy and I, along with Topaz, headed out for a slide along the roads near our home. The ice didn't disappoint Troy, we played hockey and a what we named 'ice ball' as we slid up and down the street. Awesome fun!

We couldn't help but wish that this would have happened tomorrow, instead. A no school day, for sure.

The rest of the day will be spent preparing for Thanksgiving. Baking pecan pies, cornbread for my stuffing and some more Christmas cookies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Embracing Winter

After an unusually warm fall MN has finally taken the leap into winter. Don't get me wrong, I loved our fall. Temperatures in the 60's and 70's couldn't be beat. However, I am not dreading winter as I have in the past.

After years of dreading winter and complaining about the cold temperatures every day I began to change my perception of winter a few years ago. It's working!

I began to run outside during the frigid months and after I learned about wicking fabrics and laying to keep warm, I eventually enjoyed it. I began to snowshoe run which I now can't imagine not doing every day. Because I run mainly trail and have a dog who loves to run trail off leash, we snowshoe run every day during the winter months. It is awesome fun.

A few years ago I began to snowboard with the boys. I'm not very good, I spend most of the time out there on my butt, but it is fun to spend the day on the hill with the boys.

Last year I began downhill skiing. I do enjoy this more than snowboarding and I can ski along the boys as they snowboard. I'm not on my butt quite as often!

If you dread winter and just want to curl up on the couch in your PJ's you really ought to try going for a walk in the snow. You won't feel worse upon your return to the couch!

After work yesterday Topaz and I headed for the park. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. The wind was whipping but I hardly felt it deep in the woods. As we ran the miles accrued and before I knew it darkness was falling. There was an incredible almost full moon rise, the sky was going to bright for a while longer.

Instead of stopping at the car and heading home I filled a bottle and we headed out for a few more hours. Oh, it was magnificent! The moon rose above the trees and set eerie shadows upon the trail. The landscape changed before my eyes. I had my headlamp but never switched it on. The moon was the only light we needed.

As I was bombing down a hill, laughing and smiling, I wiped out! I felt my foot catch upon a root and down I went! I let out a yelp and Topaz turned quickly, running to me so that he could cover my face with kisses. I'm fine, fine, Topaz. I stayed on my back for a moment, resting. Just a little fall! It was hilarious. I picked myself up and we trotted on, enjoying the magnificent moon under which we were running.

A few miles later I heard a ruckus to my left. I stopped and noticed that Topaz had his ears up and was listening as well. A few moments later 6 deer crossed our path, not more than 20 feet in front of me! So awesome. The moon cast enough light, even deep down in the woods, so that I could count out the deer and watch their white tails flashing through the trees and up the hill. I wished I had my camera with me!

We ran for another two hours until we came upon my car. Exhilarated, I called the run done.

I'm going to try winter camping this season..something new for me!

Get our there, enjoy the season!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Back to my Back to Backs

That's a lot of Backs! I can feel it in my legs, too.

With the guys heading up north for the huge event, the Minnesota Opening Deer Hunt, I had lots of time on my hands.

First off, I entered the Tuscobia 50K, a race held on snowmobile trails in WI. The race is held December 18 so I need to get my running legs back into running shape.

This race has options of 50K, 75M and 150M. The 50K allows foot or snowshoe, dependent upon snow conditions I suppose and the 75M and 150M allow foot, ski or bike. For the 75M and 150M racers must pull a sled to carry stove, gear and food. This would be a great try out for Arrowhead 100 in February. Well, the 75M would.

As I stated, I decided to enter the 50K. What a wuss, hu? Maybe next year I'll try the 75M with Arrowhead on the brain. We'll see. Talk about walking out of my comfort zone as I don't care for the cold weather all that much. Nothing feels as good as getting out of the comfort zone and realizing it really wasn't worth all that fear and stress..

Yesterday Topaz and I headed out for a 20 mile run. Because he didn't run the 26 mile with me last Saturday I didn't want to pop him up to 30 without a 20 in. Have to think about his training, too! It was just a spectacular morning. Clear skies, 30F, really nice..except for the gun shots.

I wasn't running in Lake Maria State Park at this time last year so I wasn't sure how many hunted around the outside perimeter of the park. Quite a few, I now know, but I didn't see any hunters within the park..a smart thing. I didn't see any other humans on the trail yesterday, either, although I did see a few tents so there were some people camping out. I just didn't see them.

The run went very well. No pain, fatigue or anything else of concern. Just nature at its finest! It really is beautiful out there. Now that all of the leaves are down when I am on a higher peak I can see over across the hills and view all of the lakes, the farms out of the park, etc. Such a pretty area.

I strapped on Topaz's blaze orange hunting vest headed out. Immediately we heard shots out of the park. Topaz does not care for loud noises. He would never had made a hunting dog. It's a good thing he wasn't born a lab and was born a Border Collie or he would have been culled long ago. Upon hearing a gun shot he looks at me for reassurance that all is well and moves on slowly. At times he is practically running upon my toes. After a few 'it's ok Topaz, no worry' and a quick few pats he is OK..until the next shot.

There is only one outside boundary of the park that isn't surrounded by a road. Yesterday the deer stand that is situated right outside the boundary was empty. Today it wasn't.

We ran a 10 mile course, back to the car, drank water, ate a gel, Topaz had a biscuit and we were off for another 10. Good run!

Because Troy was not home bouncing on the tramp or playing football in the yard, Topaz rested the remainder of the day. He'll be 9 in December, I keep wondering when he will need to slow down. I think he has put on a few pounds during my hiatus from long distance racing.

Today with daylights saving time I slept an extra hour. Wow, I woke up after a 9 hour sleep. Yeah, I went to bed early last night, shortly after I arrived home from Church.

Today's run was 25 miles. We began before dark so I had my head lamp on and figured we'd put the orange on after a run of 7 miles or so, as dawn would approach. We made it back to the car as sun up arrived. Beautiful pink, purple and blue sun rise. Just spectacular! I'm so glad I didn't miss it.

As we headed back out the gunshots began to fire and Topaz began to cower. After a few more miles he wasn't quite as nervous. Poor thing. As we came up to the deer stand that was empty yesterday, was full of orange today. Even though I had on a blaze orange running top and hat and had Topaz in his running vest I still began to talk loudly so they could hear me. I don't imagine they were very happy but hey, Topaz has a white tail and I suppose it could be mistaken by some nut as a white tailed deer? Maybe I should tie an orange ribbon around it. We trotted on and I was quite pleased when I came by a few hours later and the stand was empty.

I've never seen so many deer running around in all directions. There was one instance where I crested a hill and there was a big buck, straddling the trail, with his head turned at me, looking me in the eye. I stopped immediately as did Topaz. Topaz was a good 10 feet in front of me, the deer about 25 feet in front of me. His eyes were huge they looked full of fear, crazed. He only stood staring at us for 5 seconds before he jumped off of the trail and ran full speed ahead into the woods, but I have never seen anything like it..and I come across deer during my runs every day. This was different. He didn't have a doe with him either and they usually do. As he ran off, one direction, turning to another, I said "oh, you should just lay down, then you will be safe" . He belongs in these woods. I hope he is still here after deer season.

Steve and the boys all hunt and yes, I'll be cooking up the venison they bring home and eating it, too. There is a 12 pointer that Tyler shot and it is hanging on the rec room wall. I am proud of them when they get their deer, but I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't shoot one. Well, if I was hungry and couldn't afford any food, then I would. I'll leave the hunting in this family to the guys. I'll continue to run with the deer and talk with them. Troy would say "at them" as he is certain to point out to me that they don't talk back, Mom.

As I ran along at mile 23 I was feeling a bit tired. As Topaz was laying in the ponds, lapping up the cool water, I stretched instead of jogging on.

25 miles was good today. I had a Vespa 45 minutes prior to running and a gel every 90 minutes or so. No pain, just felt tired toward the end. A good tired! A tired that I've missed.

Topaz is laying at my feet and will have a good rest today. No boys until later this evening. Me, I'm heading over to Pittsburgh Blue. I've been there half a dozen times and can see no reason not to go back a 7th!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Ultra Gnarly Bandit

To finish up 2010 I’ll be running the Tuscobia 50K. I recall thinking about it last year but didn’t really want the 4 hour drive to deal with in winter driving conditions. Hopefully that isn’t a concern this year.

The race is December 18 and I am psyched. It’s been too long since I’ve run a 50K race. This race can be completed on foot or snowshoe. There is also a 75 Mile and 150 Mile option. For those distances the entrant can go on foot, ski or bike.

I’ve had a lot of fun planning out my racing schedule for the next year. I knew that I missed races, I just didn’t realize how much I missed the whole process. It has become a lifestyle over the past years and one that I now wish to continue.

A few years ago I became weary of the travel and the racing as I was doing so much of it. After a year off I am ready to get back at it. Of course I have the obsessive compulsive disorder going on so a bit of something never seems to be an option for me. It is all or nothing, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at things. Some like to pick out one one-hundred (gasp!) miler or one fifty miler (gasp!) but I don’t have that in me.

For 2011 I’ve picked a goal that I have been thinking about for the past 2 years. I’m ready to train hard and see what I can do out there on the trail.

I’m going to run the UMTR Ultra Gnarly Bandit Series: 4 100 Mile Ultramarathons: Zumbro 100, Kettle Moraine 100, Lean Horse 100, Superior Sawtooth 100.

Two of the hundreds I haven’t yet tried. I haven’t run Zumbro 100, which is only two years old. Larry Pederson, director of the Superior Sawtooth, 50 mile and Marathon, directs this as well.

Training for a spring 100 is always a challenge. There is snow and ice on the trails in Minnesota well into March. I normally have to run the Minneapolis Lakes area for a large portion of my training just to get the miles in. Snowshoeing on trail is great for my daily mileage but the long stuff takes forever!

Kathy has scheduled 4- 20 mile training runs, as she prepares for the Honolulu Marathon,around Twin Cities that I am going to tag along for. Most of the runs will be on trails near the Edina/Eden Prairie or Minneapolis Lakes area.

I’m going to put Psyco Wyco 50K on my schedule so that I can get a 50K in February. February 12 I believe. I have entered this race twice in the past and have never been able to run it. One time Tyler had an emergency appendectomy and the other time a pool tournament got in the way.

This 50K will have me ready for a 50 Mile in March. I really don’t like 50 mile training runs, solo, and would prefer a race. The only race I see is Land Between the Lakes 50 Mile in Kentucky. I believe it falls during our spring break, that may be a problem as I and Troy like to go somewhere warm. Kentucky won’t cut it! Either the race or a solo run, we will see. Whatever I do, it will have me ready for Zumbro 100.

After Zumbro spring will be on the way. Training on trails for Superior 50K and then Kettle Moraine 100. I haven’t run Kettle in the past and am looking forward to it. I normally run FANS 24 Hour this weekend as our last day of school normally falls on this Friday and I am unable to travel. This year our last day of school is on Thursday so I will be able to travel Friday to Wisconsin and I don’t have a son graduating again!

Afton 50K and Voyageur 50 Mile in July always prepare me well for a late summer 100 mile race. No surprises. I’ve run V 8 times in the past and it truly is a small town friendly race and one of my favorites.

Lean Horse 100 in South Dakota will be another fun adventure I am sure. I love the heat and enjoy the course which allows almost constant running. My 100 mile PR was run here of 22:36 last year. I am ready to go back!

The most difficult portion of this plan is the next step. After Lean Horse I will have only 11 days of recovery before the most difficult of the 4 races, Superior Sawtooth. I’ve finished this race at 35 and 33 hours. The first finish I ran totally tapered. The second finish was coming off 100K at Leadville. This time I will be trying to recover in a very speedy fashion.

I’ll probably round out the season with Twin Cities Marathon and the Wild Duluth.

That is the race schedule I am planning for the 2011 season. I’m sure looking forward to it!

Ready. Set. Go!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monster Dash Half Marathon (Make mine a Double)

There couldn't have been more perfect weather than what was given yesterday by Mother Nature for the Monster Dash Half Marathon. Beautiful! We have had the best fall season in Minnesota ever. 80s, 70s, 60s and now 50s. It just can't be beat.

Yesterday was sunny and crisp, as it should be on October 30. Low 40s to begin the race and low 50 when I was done. Perfect. OK, so its not 80, but it is fall in MN.

It was cool to be back at Lake Nokomis. I have run FANS 24 Hour Run here for the past 8 years. It was neat to be back and 'only' running a marathon. I would be home in the same day that I began. What a concept.

I arrived to Lake Nokomis an hour before the start. I didn't realize that the 10 miles and 1/2 marathoners had different starting places so of course I picked the wrong start. It wasn't until I realized that my bib number wasn't the same color as the other people around me that it dawned on me. Oops. I needed to cross Cedar Avenue and begin over there. As I was walking toward the start I noticed the port a potties. The lines were really long. I figured I might as well hang out in a line and use the biffy until the start. Did I say the line was long? It took me until 2 minutes to start time to finally get into the biffy and the gun went off while I was peeing. No worry. Chip time. Didn't matter where I lined up.

I shuffled off to the start in the mass of people. Holy crap. Later to find out there were 9000 people on the course. That's nuts! This is a 10 miler and half marathon and that many people? Wow, this race has really caught on!

I was glad I wore shorts and a long sleeved top. I began to warm up quickly. I wore a belt around my waist so that I could carry my medal back to the start. I decided that instead of taking the shuttle bus from Harriet - the finish - back to Nokomis .. I would run, making a double Monster and getting in 26 miles. I hadn't run 26 in a while so wasn't sure how that idea would pan out..

The costumes were great! Some were very unique. I saw a man and woman running together, each with a huge single breast upon their back. The breast cancer awareness ribbon was in plain sight. Each had a big round breast complete with nipple. Amazing! It wasn't done in bad taste-they made it clear this was breast cancer awareness - not 'look, I'm a tit running down the road' . There is a difference. Really.

I saw a yellow and red person ahead of me. I truly figured they were ketchup and mustard. Then a child from the side of the road yelled out "oh, look at the crayons" guess I was wrong.

Many "Where's Waldo?" were seen, a few Tinkerbell's, Hulk's, a sexy black cat. Fun stuff!

I wore my Garmin 310XT. It was fun to check in with my pace every so often. I was running 9 or less minute miles for the most part. I always felt great, never out of breath or in any sort of pain. I was a bit surprised at how well I felt.

We ran around Nokomis, down Minnehaha Parkway, around Harriet to Calhoun and back to Harriet to finish. All the best parts of the Twin Cities Marathon. There were lots of spectators. I think we were a sort of Halloween Parade for many of the children. I heard on child yell out "What is that big green guy?" I looked around and there was Gumby! Wrong generation!

Many of the leaves were still on the trees down Minnehaha. I couldn't believe it! Beautiful yellow and red, even after the incredibly high winds earlier in the week. Just a beautiful course.

As I rounded around Calhoun I realized I could PR at half marathon distance. I could break two hours if I paid attention. I picked up the speed 845 to 830, 815 picked off the distance. Pretty soon we were back to Harriet and the finish line: 1:56:48. Whoot!

Crossed the finish line, collected my real cool Halloween medal, grabbed some water and headed off back to Nokomis. I felt like I was running slower but my Garmin told me I was keeping my previous pace.A few times I thought I may have been turned around but I had a trusty course map in my waist pack. Before I knew it I was back to my car in 1:58:45.

I was so happy! So thankful to be running again, so thankful for the beautiful day. I stretched and found a perfectly sunny grassy spot. Sat down and smiled to myself. Livin' The Dream.

I'm getting my racing legs back! Next race isn't until February 12 Psyco Wyco 50K. Edited to state: my next race is Tuscobia 50K December 19. Woot! I'd like to find a 50K before then. We'll see.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


If you are an ultrarunner you have no doubt viewed the VESPA advertisement in UltraRunning and/or witnessed other runners using VESPA at races.

I first noticed VESPA two years ago as the caption FAT IS YOUR FUEL caught my eye. I read the advertisement and then thought I’d do a bit of research at a later time.

During the past few months I’ve taken an in depth look at VESPA. I was first intrigued because I learned that VESPA works very well when following a paleo diet. I have been eating a paleo for athletes type diet for quiet some time.

Following are the two statements that caught my eye and caused me to look into the product more thoroughly.

“The key to sustaining athletic performance lies in optimizing the body’s ability to metabolize fat.‘

‘VESPA’s key ingredient is an all natural amino acid complex derived from the Asian Madarin wasp and works by shifting the muscles to metabolize a higher level of fat during physical activity thus stabilizing and conserving glycogen.’

At first glance I incorrectly thought that VESPA was a source of energy. It is not. It is not a fuel or an electrolyte. It works by optimizing your muscles’ ability to derive its energy from a readily available source: fat. One still needs to ingest energy and electrolytes when running long distance.

During the past few weeks I have had conversations with other athletes using VESPA as well as many conversations with Peter at VESPA.

There seems to be a huge synergy between VESPA and the OFM diet /training approach. OFM = Optimized Fat Metabolism. The more I read of Phil Maffetone the more I see this. As a ‘fat phobic’ it was difficult for me at first but I am seeing the light.

Peter has walked me through the beginning process and will be guiding me as I get further into my training program.

Because I don’t take part in the high carbohydrate fueling regimen that most athletes do I am not having difficulty transitioning to a solid paleo/primal nutritional program. On hard workout days I’m adding in fattier cuts of meat and a few additional egg yolks post run. I made sure to add fish oil with each meal. I begin hard days with cream and berries.

VESPA allows a jump start to the fat metabolism and since I am not in a heavy training cycle the required energy is not putting a high demand on my body. I’m in a building phase right now; a perfect time to transition to VESPA and a solid paleo program allowing optimized fat metabolism.

By eating in a paleo manner the basal blood insulin levels will go way down and insulin sensitivity way up. This has the effect of stabilizing blood sugar. For races and race training I would consume some carbs/sugars back into the diet so that glycogen stores are topped off but not so that they will cause a spike and a large insulin response such as digesting with fat/protein.

After transitioning the energy levels are much more even. By burning a higher percentage of fat recovery is quicker, with less soreness and muscle catabolism. This allows me to train harder.

My training, racing and nutrition pieces are coming together for 2011. Ready. Set. Go!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Javelina Jundred

Here's a fun little You Tube clip of Javelina Jundred 2009. I ran both the 2009 and 2008 race. An absolute party on the trail.

2010 race took place this weekend. I really missed being there.

Here's a taste of what you will find at a Javelina 100. See why I love it so? Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pederson Benefit Run

Please note the link on the sidebar for the Benefit Run for Larry and Colleen Pederson. Larry and Colleen sustained major flood damage to their home last month. Larry and Colleen give and give of themselves to the running community. They direct the Superior Fall Races, Larry began the Upper Midwest Trail Running Club, the list of what these two do just goes on and on.

Thank you for helping Larry and Colleen.


I have been running at Lake Maria State Park for the past 5 months or so. I thought I knew the park pretty well, but ah, yeah, I guess not.

Even though there are standing wooden signs all over the park with maps there are some areas of deer trail that are harder to navigate. At least for me.

With the long weekend, MEA-gotta love working for the public school system, I slept in and then thought Topaz and I would head out for a 10 mile run through the state park.

Cold this morning! 27F at 7 AM meant the first run in long pants of the season. Boo. Although the high for today is 72, this morning was cool.

I pulled into the lot, empty as usual, and began our run. Beautiful morning! Trumpeter swan, deer, fox, all of the usual animal sightings.

Oh, get this. I purchased (another) Garmin 310 XT (will post about that later) and learned last week that my 5 mile water stop is really 3.5 miles! Egads!

So we are running about, enjoying the beautiful scenery, the sunrise, mother nature at her finest when we come to back to the lot and are only at 8 miles when I would have said pre Garmin we were at 10. Back out on a different path only to end up..confused..lost? Yeah, I guess so. Around the lake, down another path, nothing is looking familiar..another lake..a campsite..a, a whole new section of the park that I didn't know existed!

Another 5 miles before I found the path back to the car. Amazing how turned around I became..but now I have a perfect trail to bring Mom and Dad down when they are here next week. I can show them the swans, the camper cabins..there is even running water along the way. I grabbed the state park trail map before leaving. I might glance at it before I head out for a long one on Sunday :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I have never had an interview or highlighed on of my clients here before. I want to tell you about Heidi. I'm so proud of her!

Heidi was a member of my first Beginning Women’s Running Class which met in 2008. Our goal was to run the Granite City 5K at the end of 8 weeks. Heidi was non runner. By the end the class Heidi ran the 5K in fine form and didn’t stop there.

I offered an Intermediate Run Class that focused on building strength and speed with hill work and track repeats. Heidi then participated in this class and became stronger and faster.

Soon Heidi was setting her sights on races of longer distance. 8Ks, 10Ks and then half – marathons became the norm. Heidi was interested in my online coaching service and soon became a client with the 2010 Twin Cities Marathon as her goal. I was so excited to train Heidi to the finish of her first marathon!

We began 5 months out. Within this 5 month period Heidi trained and ran as part of the Ragnar Relay. This was a great experience and an awesome run for Heidi. She worked hard during the 5 month period as she trained for the marathon.

Heidi states her s goals for the marathon were as follows:

“1. Finish the marathon in under 6 hours, so that I am not picked up by the bus. I did it!! I finished in 5:15. Could I have run faster? Sure, but it wasn't about the time...this was about the experience and it was such a beautiful day and it was fun to walk and talk with Katie. We felt fabulous running the final .2! I just kept saying to myself...this is real....I am really running a marathon!! I LOVED the feeling of accomplishment!

2. Finish with a smile, feeling good and wanting to run another marathon: I did it!! I felt really good at the end and will be running Grandma's in June. I never hit the wall - which I attribute to Julie and her training plan for me!”

I love that! Heidi finished Twin Cities Marathon, never hit the wall and is excited to run Grandmas Marathon!

Here is what Heidi writes about her race day:

“I was really nervous on Saturday and I made the mistake of not eating enough. This taught me a lesson. I had no reason to be nervous, because you had once again trained me well!! Twin Cities is a really well run race from packet pick-up to drop bag at the Metrodome to picking the bag back up a the finish - great volunteers and so many people cheering:-) What an exciting environment to run in! A lot of people, but it really didn't bother me....I was not worried about my time, I just wanted to enjoy:-) I loved running through downtown and how everyone would cheer underneath the bridges....I also loved running down the middle of the road and not having to worry about cars!! :-)

Beautiful morning:-) Cool with the smell of fall. Unfortunately early on I started to deal with feeling sick, which was an entirely new experience for me! :-( I just kept going and broke the race into smaller water stop at a time. I had water and powerade at every stop and started eating the jelly beans early on, I finally started to feel better towards the end. People also handed out fruit, which I took and that helped. I didn't train 5 months to not finish!! I tried to focus on all of the volunteers and people cheering and the beautiful fall day. I love the mental game of running! I actually found the hills to be a nice diversion. About mile 22 I met Katie and we mainly walked the next 4 miles....and I really liked walking. It was a change and it gave me a chance to fully take in the race environment. I loved running down to the finish line at the state capitol with my new "best" running friend, Katie from WI.

I am so proud of Heidi. Enjoying the full race, smiling, that is what a first marathon is all about. Taking it all in, focusing on the surroundings, the smells, the feel of your first marathon. You only get one first! I say you should totally enjoy it ☺

Heidi closes with “what stands out most to me is the 5 months of training leading up to the marathon. How good it felt mentally to be out on the course and well trained! My time spent running has been such a blessing....time for myself, time with friends, time to enjoy nature, time to challenge myself physically and mentally....what a great journey!
Know that you are fabulous and I am thankful every day that I am out on the trail because of the email you sent spring of '08 to any women interested in giving running a try:-) I went outside my comfort zone and look at me now:-)”

Thank you Heidi. I’m just so thrilled that I was able to show you how wonderful running can be. It brings me tears of joy to know that you are out there, loving the run. Loving the challenge, loving the progress, loving nature. That’s it. Feeling the moment, living in the moment, feeling the joy, Heidi, feeling the joy…

Run On!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back In the Saddle

I've enjoyed my time at home, my break from running long distance. I don't know that I was 'burnt out' on running ultras, but I did want to spend a lot of time at home this summer. Maybe if I hadn't been burnt out I wouldn't have felt it necessary to stay home whenever the boys were home. Because it was Tyler's last summer at home I just didn't want to miss a weekend of it!

After being away from races for 9 months, without any specificity of workouts of the running nature and away from long distance .. well, I'm ready to get back at it.

This past month I've been thinking about what I want to do for the 2011 year. I went back and forth but now I have a rough outline. I have outcomes listed, goal races and the specific training necessary to get me to where I want to go down on paper.

The adrenaline is pumping.

I love to create an goal, a desirable outcome to that goal and then to begin creating the workouts that will allow me to attain that goal. I've been missing this lately.

I have my races, workouts and goals outlined from today to October 2011.

Measured progress, specificity of workouts, results .. and FUN! All of this because yes, it is FUN and if it wasn't fun, I wouldn't be doing it.

Ready. Set. Go!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Team Ortho Monster Dash Half Marathon

I have been having race withdrawals! It is no wonder as I haven’t raced since The Securian Half Marathon in January! That’s crazy. I haven’t gone this long without racing since I began to run 12 years ago. I have been running nice mileage, however. Just running it with Topaz instead of racing and traveling.

I loved the Team Ortho Polar Dash race. The organization, the bling, the atmosphere was just awesome. As I was looking for an October race today and saw the Team Ortho Monster Dash I knew I was going to enter this one.

Half-Marathon is a nice morning run distance. The race takes place around the prettiest areas of Minneapolis to run-the lakes and parkways. I’m looking forward to it! I have to be back home for the afternoon so I'll have plenty of time to run, visit and head on home.

Saturday, October 30; the day promises to be sunny, crisp, beautiful ☺

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Buon Giorno!

I had my first Italian language class on Thursday evening. I have a lot to learn:)

My teacher is a professor at the Univerity of Minnesota. She hold the class at a school in Eden Prairie. There are not many students in our class but ALL of them have traveled to Italy more than once. Except me.

I am planning on go to Italy with the Umbrian Table from Broders-the marvelous Italian restaurant in South Minneapolis-in October or November of 2011. They have two tours - one in October and one in November. Many of the participants are repeats and speak very highly of the tour. There is a dinner 'meet and greet' that I will attend soon.

Troy has taken a great interest in my Italian worksheets and books. He is taking Spanish in 9th grade and the languages are similar. He is tutoring me!

On another note, this morning Topaz and I headed out to Lake Maria State Park. I couldn't imagine why there were a zillion vehicles folowing me into the park. Then I noticed the TimberRun sign. Oh no. There was a 5K race taking place.

I asked the course marshall what route they were taking - learned they were on the Bjorkland trail. Topaz and I just made sure we stayed off that trail and meandered through on our own. It was an absolutely perfect morning. Sunny, cool at 38F, brilliant foliage. A dream come true morning!

Troy and I are heading out for a hike, then I'm off to Broders and then heading to the NPC NorthStar to specate.

I'm kind of moving in the direction of competing in the April 2 Gopher State. We'll see...

Arrivederci a tutti!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Written Apology..

Whoa! Over 5 weeks since I've posted. Blogger, I am so not into you. So sorry.

When I receive my weekly email from the sitecounter website and see that I still have 100s of readers checking in each day I tell myself to make sure I update soon, and alas, another week passes without an update.

Well, the NPC NorthStar is this Saturday and due to personal situations that have occurred I will not be competing in the contest. I hope to spectate at least the finals, I will not be able to make the pre judging.

For the most part I am OK with this outcome. I learned so much about building muscle, about myself and I met so many wonderful people. This endeavor took me in a whole new direction and that was very cool. I enjoyed the whole summer at home without any weekends away spent racing. I was very laid back and totally relaxed. Running only an hour or two a day was totally for stress relief and to immerse myself in the great outdoors. A trip to the gym for an hour five times a week was nothing. It was a good break.

I thought that time off racing may equal fat gain. As a weight fighter this concerned me. As it turned out, by training for the contest, I didn't gain fat. I gained lean mass and lost fat. I ate every three hours by the clock.

All positive outcomes to this experience.

However, once my suit arrived, I realized I would have liked to compete. I realized I would have liked to take this full circle, to the the contest.

There is a contest in Rockford Illinois in 7 weeks. I originally didn't want to do this one as a first contest because I wanted to compete at home. No travel stress, less expensive, etc. I'm not sure how I feel now. If I don't go to Rockford, then I willing do continue this until a local show in the spring? Ugh. That seems like forever.

I don't like not having any goals. I like to have a concrete reason for working out other than for good health. I like to have a race, a contest, a date to be working toward. That's just my personality and my habit I suppose. I've been setting goals for 10 years and I like it. For so many years I didn't set any goals, now I'm rather obsessive with the process.

Last year I was looking at this contest to wrap up the BBing goal and then progress back into ultra running. I had my mind wrapped around the Ultra Gnarly Bandit series for 2011 after I put the BB to bed, which it really is, other than the contest..decisions..decisions..

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hello Readers! I thought I’d post an update as it has been a few weeks. Without race reports and such I just don’t have that much to blog about.

What’s new? Well, summer vacation has come and gone! I went back to work on Monday. Every year the summer goes by more quickly. You know how that is. Time does fly by. I no longer wish for Friday as Friday is here before I know it.

I don’t mind being back at work at all. Monday was actually a fun day as many of the students came in to pay their activity fees and I was able to catch up with them. Students won’t be back until after Labor Day so I have a few weeks to get ready.

My Dear Tyler moved out at the end of July. Oh, talk about a heartbreak! As I was an emotional wreck all summer knowing the move was near but I was sure to tell Tyler that this is all working out perfectly. We want him to go to college, to be successful, to work, to be independent. That is just what he is doing; however, it is a change and I have difficulty with changes. I realized that I NEED to be NEEDED! I didn’t raise needy boys but being needed is something that fulfills me. Something I can work on. Tyler is only 38 miles away, hello! I see him every week at least once or more and it is all working out perfectly. No More Tears as Ozzy would say..

On the bodybuilding endeavor..I’m 7 weeks out to the NPC Northstar. EEK! Workouts are going great. I’m lifting roughly an hour, 5 days a week. Running 5 miles a day in the AM and about 20 minutes of hills/sprints in the PM after I lift. My building phase is over, I have built some quality muscle and now the fat removal has begun! My body looks as if it belongs to two different people. My upper body is lean and my lower body is not! I’ve always held most of my fat in my butt/thighs and that certainly isn’t changing.

I don’t know if I can get the lower body lean in 7 weeks but I will try. I am doing my best and that is all that I can ask of myself. It’s difficult to know how much cardio to complete as my body is completely accustomed to running and I don’t know how much fat that is burning. My body is also used to eating low calories and performing well. Most BBrs are able to use cardio to burn the fat away as it is a new shock to the body. Mine, not so much.

I am posing each day, working on the mandatory poses. I haven’t yet perfected which music I am going to use. Probably Metallica, music only, I don’t think I want any words. Julia was very happy with my posing last Saturday. I have finally perfected the lat poses, which were my worse poses. I’ll be adding auxiliary poses soon to create my night routine.

My suits are ordered. A plain black lycra for prejudging and a glitzy rhinestone covered one for evening. Fun!

Now that I am back to work my schedule has changed. Instead of running with Topaz on the trail each morning I’m running with him out on trail near home in the dark before work or getting on the treadmill for HIIT. After work I head home, pick up Troy, bring him back to school for football practice. Practice is 4 hours so I have plenty of time to head over to the gym to get my lift on, back home for another run session. This session either consists of hills/sprints or Topaz run. Home again for plenty of time to get dinner ready and head back into town to pick up Troy. It works! I am able to plan plenty of time to get everything in. My energy level is high.

My nutrition changes a bit every week. I make sure I am drinking 1.5-2 gallons of water each day. I eat every 3 hours, a protein and vegetable. Usually a ton of greens, cucumber, tomato, green pepper and chicken breast with olive oil and vinegar as my garden is at full peak now. Lots of fresh veggies! A few days a week I have oats, sweet potato or brown rice. I drink 1 or 2 protein shakes a day post workout and usually right before bed to get those last protein grams in for the days total.

That’s about it. Thanks for the emails/comments wondering where I am. I am here and all is going well!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Lake Maria Trail Run

This morning Topaz and I headed off for Lake Maria State Park, just out of Monticello. I really enjoy running here. There aren't any people, there is an abundance of wildlife, plenty of water for Topaz to lay in and drink from. It's just a great place for a run.

The main trails are dirt, some crushed rock, no roots to speak of. It is not your Superior Hiking Trail, sad, but true. There is only one! Speaking of which, I will be heading up there next weekend for a run and I can't wait. I haven't been up on the SHT yet this summer.

Most of the grade here is rolling hills, lots of thick forests of maple and oak, some open areas. There are secondary trails that are grass-more like the deer trails at Afton State Park. I tend to become lost when I run upon those! I'll navigate them in the winter when I have on my snowshoes and can always come back the way I came :)

There are huge signs along the main trail that I can actually understand. I love that!

Today we spotted 6 deer, two of which were small fawn, three bald eagles, 1 fox and a wolf. Oh, and a huge group of turkeys..they flew up into the air as we rounded a corner, scaring the heck out of us. I screamed and Topaz cowered. It reminded me of the bird in the tree along the SHT, Beta Run, where I hit behind Pierre's leg!

Good times.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Valleyfair Fun

Each year we made a trip out to Valleyfair in Shakopee. Valleyfair is a huge amusement park with an awesome water park. I'm all about the water park. Today myself, Tyler, Troy, Amanda and Ryan headed out for a day of fun. Steve opted out, he has never really enjoyed Valleyfair. He and Topaz mowed the lawn, cleaned the pool, he even text me a photo of Topaz chilling. I'll have to post it!

We began with the waterpark. Bodyslides, lazy river, crushing rapids, wave pool..nothing but fun. I love it..and to spend a full day with the boys, well, that just can't be beat.

Being 10 weeks out from the NPC Northstar meant that I would be traveling with the every present cooler. Eggs and oats, check, protein shake, check, chicken breast salad, check, green beans, check..two gallons of water. Got it!

I went back to the car for frequent feedings and never felt like I was missing out. Nope, didn't need the Dipping Dots, the Chunky Monkey, the Pronto Pups or the Cheese Curds. No thank you!

We had an awesome day. Looking forward to our next visit!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fun with the Son (s)

Troy and I were pretty excited when Tyler asked if we wanted to join him and his friends at the Quarry Park in St. Cloud today. It is 95F, we love water, YES!

I couldn't believe that he and his friends would want his mother and younger brother along for the fun. They are the nicest friends. "We like you Julie and Troy; you talk to us! You are cool". Alrighty then. We are IN!

We left this morning and I wasn't sure what to expect. The Quarry Park is out of St Cloud a few miles, park the car and get out and walk about 1/2 mile. We lugged out floaties from the pool, beach towels and cooler of water and Diet Coke.

What a blast! We had a group of 15. Jumping off of the cliffs, floating around, just having a blast. I even jumped off of the cliffs!

Next up: Troy's baseball tournament tonight. Hot nice night for a baseball game :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

She Lives!

My goodness, it has been a while hasn't it Dear Blogger. Sorry for the neglect. Busy summer. Vacation, time at the lake, Tyler's graduation party this last Sunday, lots of baseball, lifting with purpose.

Not a whole lot of running! I am focusing on building muscle and can not do ultrarunning and bodybuilding at the same time. I tried that last year and both suffered.

Topaz and I continue to run 3-5 miles each morning and it seems to be working for us. We love Maria State Park. I'm out there almost every day running the wooded trails. Trails that are covered with annoying deer flies right now. I am spraying the horse spray on both of us. It works :)

Tyler's grad party was an absolute blast. It went off without a hitch. I don't think there is one thing I would change if I were to do it over. The day was sunny, about 75F, a nice breeze. Lots of family and friends. Good food! I was sad to see it end. It's funny. People tell me 'I be you are glad that is over' I'm like 'no, I'm not. I enjoyed it so much, it was so much fun, I want to do it again!'. What is this 'glad to be over business?'

Tyler will be moving off to college in a few weeks. I am SO not ready. Although this is just what we want of our children: to become independent, to go off to college, to work, to succeed; it is still so very difficult for me. I could have him home until I don't know when..

I keep forgetting that he already has one year of college under his belt as a full time PSEO student during his high school senior year and that he will be 19 in December. I still think of him as my little boy. He's a young MAN. Where does time go?

I've stayed home this summer; I've gone to the lake when they boys have, I've gone to the baseball tournaments, I haven't raced..I won't be going up to the BETA V weekend as Troy has his final baseball tournament of the season. I don't want to miss it! I won't miss it.

After my Leanness Lifestyle get away to Rockford the seed relating to bodybuilding was nurtured and then grew. I've decided to compete in the NPC NorthStar Bodybuilding Show on October 2. I began training with Julia Korfhage 6 weeks ago and really enjoy her. Every Saturday we meet for posing, nutritional (see Coach Dave..not DIET!) updates, photos. The nutrition program is Leanness Lifestyle in a nutshell: lean protein, veggies, clean carbs. Good stuff! I'm 12 weeks out now so I'll be eating less soon.

Workouts are awesome. I trained with Julia every day for a week to learn proper form and technique. Hold, squeeze, stretch..incredible!

I'm loving it!

Here's a 14 weeks out photo. I'll post an 11 week out photo after our session on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Starts Now

Yes. Another school year is in the history books. My summer vacation began today. EIGHT WEEKS OFF. Amazing, isn't it? EIGHT WEEKS!

I so love summer vacation. I love the almost no scheduleness, the almost always relaxedness, the almost always laidbackedness. Swimming, running, lifting, hanging out with my family. It rocks.

Today was spent playing croquet with the Tyler and Troy-between the rain drops. While we were playing Topaz began to dig frantically at the grass. He dug up a gopher! Good pup, but gross. It was half dead by the time I noticed Topaz jumping around and pecking at it. Tyler finished it off with his croquet club. Eek.

Tonight after dinner we played with Steve. He beat us all!

Today was spent riding bike into town with Troy. We had a nice 12 mile ride! Pretty good for Troy. He figured since he didn't have baseball today he would have enough energy to bike. I smiled all of the way there and back.

I have a few goals that I will work toward this summer. I'm getting my feet wet in new and exciting challenges.

Today was spent just hanging out, having fun, spending time together. That is what this summer will be all about. I'll cherish each day.