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!