Sunday, March 27, 2011

Building Endurance

After last weeks Half Marathon struggle I was apprehensive about my 20 miler today. A group of friends had invited me to run 20 with them but hell, I didn't know if I could. I haven't felt that way in years.

Topaz and I went to the trails at the park yesterday and they were in dismal shape. Lots of snow and ice, it took forever for 8 miles of running on snowshoes. I didn't want to run 20 there. Sadly that meant I was taking it to the roads and Topaz would have to stay at home. The asphalt is without snow now and it is just too hard on his joints.

It probably seems ridiculous to some, but I really hated leaving him behind. I told him first thing this morning "No run for Topaz" so he wouldn't get excited as I dressed. He was dejected with sad ears and tail.

Troy had a few friends spend the night, they were still sleeping of course. I didn't want to wake them by opening up the big garage door. I was going to try to leave without Topaz seeing me run down the driveway. Well, the lock on the side garage door was froze shut. I came back in and had to go out the front door, Topaz whining and probably waking up everyone anyway.

I have run almost every trail mile in the past 9 years with Topaz. I purchased him a week after I ran trail for the first time. For him the trails came easily and naturally. For me, a struggle, but one that I have come to enjoy and honor.

As I ran out of my neighborhood and turned onto the County Road I felt exhilaration. It's been so long! I felt myself enjoying the act of running: taking in the clear air deeply, feeling the frost upon my face (8F this morning), feeling the blood pump through my legs, warming up. God how I've missed it. I felt myself come back from wherever I have been. I felt my soul open up and take it all in.

I took my first sip of Hammer Heed out of my bottle. I haven't tasted that since Tuscobia 50K. I sang to myself "It's been a long time since I drank Hammer Heed, It's been a long time since I've felt any speed. Let me get it back let me get it back let me get it back..." on and on I went to the old Led Zeppelin tune. Hilarium.

I ran down the County Road into Big Lake, stopping at Cobornes to refill my bottle and use the bathroom. A heated aid station! Off to run around the lake two times, another stop at Cobornes and back up the County Road heading for home.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed running this route. It's been a long time.

No dizziness, no cramping, gasping and wheezing, no panic. I don't know what happened last week but I am so thankful that it isn't going to be the norm. Today was sweet.

I ran into the road leading to our home and there was Topaz sitting at the end of the driveway by the mailbox. He bolted toward me and almost knocked me down. Oh man. Steve told me he sat there for 3.5 hours.

After I changed into dry clothing I was going to drive out to the state park to take Topaz to get his run on. I asked Steve if he wanted to come along and amazingly he said yes, for the first time. I showed him the snowshoe trail I've been running each day. We hiked the 4 miles as Topaz herded us along. The sun warmed the trail even melting the snow a bit.

I feel fabulous. Next week I'll run 25. I'm hoping for trail but if the snow is still thick it will be another road run.

It feels good to be the person I've missed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This morning began as a normal workday morning. Up at 430, treadmill 'wakeup' run of a few miles, shower, dress, coffee and FOX 9 News.

I almost spit out my coffee when I read at the bottom of the screen: BIG LAKE CLOSED. WOW! I leaped from my chair, bolted into the kitchen to pull open the patio door and look onto the dark deck. Man, a good 5" already and it was snowing hard. Awesome!

A day off! I know, I have only been back to work for 7 days, and I love it, but hey, a snow day is an awesome day no matter what!

Topaz was very confused. "Hey Topie, we're gonna go for a run" hu? He looked at me in a very exited but still a bit reserved way, thinking maybe he heard me wrong. "Yeah, a run!" Full front paws to my stomach push and full waggle of the tail. He understood now.

Quick change into winter running clothes. Bring out the gaiters and gortex Inov 8 shoes. Booties for Topaz. Write a note for Troy and off we go-neighborhood 6 mile run.

No plows out but there were a pair of tire tracks I ran in. The snow was really blowing, blizzard conditions. Topaz was leaping over the drifts, sprinting back and forth, rolling full body rolls into the snow. I couldn't help but laugh and smile during our whole run. No traffic, no loose dogs; just a winter wonderland. I felt like Topaz and I were spending our time inside of a snowglobe. It was fabulous!

I realized that this is definitely a 'get to' and not a 'have to'. As frustrated as I was running that half marathon on Saturday I am grateful that I am able to run, that I am recovered, that I am healthy.

Yesterday afternoon when Troy came home from baseball he told me that they were doing crunches and push ups-they are doing 'finger' push ups. You do a push up with your finger tips-strength training for fingers I guess as they are used during baseball. OK. "Mom, I haven't seen you doing push ups or crunches since your surgery" "Um, yeah, I guess I haven't tried them yet" "Well? Come on, lets go" "OK" Now, prior to surgery I could do 100+ push ups. Over the years I have worked up from 1 to as many as I have time for, at least 100 every day. Why? I don't know. Because there was a time I couldn't do 1. Now I can, and it is fun to have Troy count them out, then I count his out. Good times.

I could only do 45 push ups. I was really bummed out. After I stopped Troy said "Mom, you know that 45 is really good, you shouldn't be so sad. Most people can't do 45" "Yeah, but Troy, I could. I could do more and now I can't. That's the pits" As the night wore on I did a few more sets of 10, but not consecutively and not 100. My crunches were as good as ever.

A bit later I was thinking about the push ups and was upset. Silly, I know. But I was upset enough that before I knew it I was baking a Waldorf Astoria Red Cake.

Troy was playing XBOX with Tyler online, he came up to do his homework and sniffed the air. "I smell baking, what are you making?" "Don't ask. I'm not telling you" "Oh boy, your making Red Cake" "Yeah. I was sad at the push ups" "Mom, why do you make Red Cake when you are sad"?

Good Question.

"I don't know. I don't know if it is because the act of baking a Red Cake makes me happy as Red Cake is a family tradition, I make it for special events, happy events. Or if it is because I felt badly about myself and if I felt I might as well eat 1000 calories of cake because I already felt like a loser..probably the latter..."

"Oh Mom. That's silly. You are not a loser" "Troy, you are so smart and you are so right".

I just frosted the cake. The desire to eat it is gone.

I think that because my recovery went so well I thought I'd just jump right back to where I was fitness wise. I know that what is worthwhile to me does not come easy. I enjoy a challenge. The running will come as will the push ups.

I may even head over to Gold's today to try lifting..and pull ups..

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Team Ortho Lucky 7 Half Marathon

I may be healed but I am not trained.


Before I made the decision to have a hysterectomy I had planned on completing the UMTR Ultra Gnarly Bandit Series. 4 - 100 mile ultra marathons in the Midwest. Well, once the hysterectomy became a reality I realized I +may+ not be ready for Zumbro 100 in April (you think?).

I came up with another plan. The Team Ortho Monster Series. A 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Duathalon and another Half Marathon. I ran the 10K Polar Dash in January the second race was yesterday. Participants could either run a 7K or 21K (Half Marathon). I opted for the Lucky Half Marathon. I had a quick thought of pinning a tag to my back stating that I was only 7 weeks post op as a reason for my suckage.

My surgeon gave me his blessing to resume running two weeks ago. With 6 weeks off and a major surgery I knew running might be difficult..but I thought my body would catch on quickly. My running has been on a hiking trail under a few feet of snow. Lots of hills, lots of slow running. Well, not lots..nothing over 10 miles. I ran 10 miles last week. This run was partly on the trail with Topaz and it was so cold and slippery and tough on the trail that I ran the remaining miles on my treadmill. With an hour of driving and changing (rest) inbetween. This does not a half marathon make, I know if I didn't before.

As I have mentioned before, I really like the Team Ortho races. Except that I had to make a 4 hour round trip to packet pickup on Friday. That was the pits-rush hour and all.

Saturday morning it was 21F, a big moon hovering in the sky as I drove toward Minneapolis. As I neared Minneapolis the sky became cloudy and it was snowing. I was so glad I decided to wear long pants, gloves, ear band, light jacket and long sleeved thin top. I haven't run in shorts yet this year. It was windy too.

Race organization was excellent. Free parking at the Ford Plant. As I neared the plant volunteers were flagging cars in, directing up to parking slots. Awesome. I headed out a few minutes before race time and bumped into Monica. I first met Monica while working for Berkley, and later, at FANS 24 Hour Run. Now I see Monica regularly at races. Cool.

We chit chatted and waited for the GO. My plan was to go SLOW, a full two minutes per mile slower than usual, including 1 minute walk after each mile. I stayed true to this plan the whole race and then even added a few minutes. Egads.

I was cautious and maybe a little nervous at the beginning, wondering if I really was healed. I really didn't worry about the training. It didn't occur to me that surgery and 6 weeks off would really make that much of a difference.

I just trotted along the course, listening to conversation around me, noticing that I was running with a group of people that I haven't been running with lately. It reminded me of when I first began to run races. Many near me were running their first halfs, it was cool to listen to their excitement and future racing plans.

At 5 miles I saw the front leaders coming back, man, they were hauling ass and were running uphill. The course was hilly, mostly downhill on the way out with the wind in our face and mostly uphill on the way back with the wind at our backs. I ate a gel here, a few glasses of power ade and trudged along, making sure to walk a full minute after each mile. I was running 10 minute miles and was OK with that, although I was a bit miffed that a 10 minute mile wasn't feeling all that easy.

At 8 miles I began to get dizzy. It kind of freaked me out. I was running up a hill, stitches on both sides, and became dizzy. I slowed to a walk and heard this gasping. Is that me? I turned down my music and sure enough, I was gasping and wheezing. I was quite perturbed at myself. Why do I have side stitches, why am I dizzy and why am I gasping for air. Hello I'm running an 11 minute mile at this point. Hello you just had surgery and haven't run for 6 weeks. Bla bla bla. On and on I went. At the top of the hill I sat on a curb. Really! I've never sat down during a race on the curb. What the hell. There was an aid table near so I got up and grabbed a gel and some drink, feeling a bit better.

I began to run again, slowly, like real slow. 11 minute miles now. Up hill I ran, falling in back of the 2 hour pace team. I kept having contradictory thoughts. Oh my god, catch them, you have not had to train for a half marathon in 10 years..oh, no, wait, this isn't about catching anyone, it's about getting the distance in. How can this be so hard? It's a freaking half marathon...

I couldn't believe the difficulty I was having. I was really struggling. Its not like speed comes naturally to me anyhow. Normally I am running 60-80 miles per week and work hard for every bit of speed I can muster. My fast twitch muscles like to rest and I coerce them out of their rest weekly. Not now. They are in hibernation mode.

Finally I came up on mile 12, knowing that the end was near and just so thankful that I could at least run a half marathon at 7 weeks post op. It was difficult, I was fed up with myself for struggling so, but in the end I did reach the goal I had set upon myself. I ran the distance.. in 2:17 .. I have a starting point .. even if I feel as though I am starting over..

I tried not to think about Chippewa 50K next month, Ice Age 50 Mile in May and Bighorn 100 in June. I wasn't thinking positively enough to be thinking about future races.

After the race I was handed a bag of food and received so much schwagg for this race, it's kind of over the top.

I do love that I don't have to stand in a mob of people for my shirt, medal, food. ALL of the food is in a paper bag, handed to you. Very nifty.

Today Topaz and I headed off to the trail for a run. There is still 14" of snow and ice on the trail. Yes, I stuck a ruler into the snow and measured. I am hoping that there is at least a few inches less when I measure tomorrow! I ran 8 miles and felt tightness but no pain. If this snow doesn't melt soon I'll have to leave Topaz at home and get some road miles in. He'll be devastated but I'll be devastated if I can't finish Chippewa 50K! I'll need to run 20 next weekend and 25 before my Zumbro 100 shift. We'll see.

So the good news is that I am healed. I may not be well trained but I am well healed. The training will come.

And dear blogger, where is the spell check?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run

Minnesota is offering some pretty sweet 100 mile ultra marathons. With Arrowhead 135, Superior Sawtooth and FANS 24 Hour Run we now have Zumbro 100, in its third year this April.

Zumbro 100 is held Friday, April 8 at the Zumbro Bottoms State Forest Recreation Area
in Wabasha, MN. Before the race was in existence Larry held crazy fat ass runs down here. He had us running through chest deep water on a 40 F degree day. The first few years he didn't mark any course, we were handed out maps of the area. You know how well I do with maps! The first time I just gave up, lost, waiting for someone to find me. The second year I actually figured out a way out and back and the third and fourth year Larry had orange, yellow and green ribbon corresponding with orange, yellow and green highlighting on maps that he handed out for us, color depicting different trail and mileage. What a treat! I didn't become lost!

In 2009 Zumbro 100 came to be. I haven't yet run the race, only the fat asses prior to the races existence. I normally head to IL for McNaughton 100. This year due to recovery I will be manning an aid station at Zumbro 100 and doing some running before and after my shift. I am sure looking forward to it!

Zumbro is accepting runners. Check out this link for information and why don't you LIKE us on Facebook here.

If you click Zumbro on the sidebar you will see photos/blog posts from past Zumbro fun.

It's payday today. I'm going to enter another race.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back to Running!

Almost one week past my release of restrictions! Yay! Needless to say, I've been running each day since. I realized, once again, that walking 8 miles is not the same as running even 4 miles. My muscles are sore and invigorated. A good feeling!

I didn't run on Friday when the restrictions were first lifted as I didn't have time to head out to the trail. I didn't want to spend my first run on road. Saturday morning we headed off to the state park for the first run. Ah, heaven.

The trails available for running are snowshoe trails, a whopping 3 miles out of the 28 miles of trail. The 28 miles are now reserved for skiing.

After walking these trails the last few weeks I knew what the conditions were like: bumpy lumpy deep packed snow. But the so beautiful! When I told Topaz "go for a run" he exploded down the trail,knowing we were no longer walking. It's funny how while walking he never strayed from my side, he just trudged along with me. Not Saturday, he ran way ahead, looping through the woods, having his own reunion with running.

I smiled and laughed the whole way, enjoying the hard beating of my heart, the sweat, the feel of my calves and glutes straining against the hills. Good stuff.

Sunday was another trip to the state park with new snow, breaking trail, more fun. Monday I ran the road as 4.5 more inches of snow fell and I just wanted to run, no more breaking trail. 6 miles on the road for our longest run post op. Felt good, although quite slow. That's ok. Slow and steady.

I'm following my own advice to my beginning runner clients: slow and steady with walk breaks when necessary! With the 1/2 marathon next Saturday I will run 8 tomorrow and 10 Sunday, that will have me ready for Saturday's race, the Lucky 1/2 Marathon. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Run On!

Yes, Run Baby Run!

I had my post op appointment at Mayo Clinic today and my surgeon released me of all restrictions! Woohoo!

So happy!

He told me I healed perfectly and am 100% recovered. He asked about menopausal symptoms. I told him a few hot flashes in the evening and some night sweats. Nothing I can't handle. He offered non HRT remedies if necessary. I will call him if I need something.

Early tomorrow morning I'm driving Tyler and Amanda to the airport for their awesome week in Negril and then I'm going for a run.

Oh yeah.

Thank you for the support. I appreciate it very much.

So happy! Back to life prior to hysterectomy. Run On!

Guess I'll send in the entry for Chippewa :)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

5 Weeks Post Hysterectomy

Here I am at five weeks post op. Thank goodness! I'm glad to have this whole scene in my past and to move on. I was so nervous before the procedure, nervousness that was not necessary but I didn't know that of course. I'm just glad to move on.

I am doing so well. I have had an uneventful recovery which is much better than I ever imagined. I haven't had any pain, no swelling, haven't needed any narcotics since I left the hospital, quit the Tylenol/Motrin 3 weeks ago. Really. All is well. I feel 100%.

My surgical pathology report arrived last week. It was interesting to read. I learned that I had 17 tumors upon my ovaries and fallopian tubes. 13 cysts and polyps in the endometrium and fibrous adhesion to the rectum and bladder. I had moderate to severe endometriosis. The pathology report is negative for cancers. Amen!

I had to chuckle at this: General: A very pleasant thin female, she is very healthy and is an ultra-marathon runner. Her resting heart rate is 35, upon examination 43.

I had forgotten that while I was in the hospital an alarm kept sounding, coming from one of the gadgets I was hooked up to, right after surgery. Steve looked at me in alarm and went out into the hallway to let a nurse know. She came back and told us the alarm was set to ring when my heart rate went below 50. She reset the monitor. I didn't pay attention. A few minutes later the alarm began again. She came back and again reset it, asking if I was OK. She explained again that the alarm would ring when my HR dropped below 50. This time I paid attention. I told her that if it was over 50 something would be wrong with me. I told her my resting heart rate was 35 and all I was doing was laying in bed, it wasn't going to get much higher. She was stunned. She called my surgeon and told him this info. He told her that I was an ultra runner and she could safely disconnect the heart rate monitor. It was kind of funny

I can't wait to run again! Walking is becoming boring. I am walking 40-50 miles a week. Yeah, I have time on my hands that is for sure. A few weeks ago I was walking to help with the healing. Moving the gas, strengthening my limbs, stretching my body as I had been laying around so much. After feeling pretty good I was walking for Topaz's sake. He could run and get some exercise..although he never really left my side. I guess he decided he would walk too. Now I am becoming bored with walking. I mean, I am grateful that I can at least walk, but obviously I am feeling super well since I am ready to R U N!

I am no longer walking in the neighborhood, I am now hiking the trails at the State Park. After 13" of fresh snow last week I was the first to trudge through the snow. That was quite a workout! Now the snowshoe trail is pretty well packed. Today I told myself the 8 mile walk was training for Bighorn 100. It gave the walk more meaning-a mind game of mine.

I began a puzzle that has 3000 pieces. I started last week and have made some progress.

I have been doing a bit of baking and trying out new recipes. We celebrated Troy's 15th Birthday - as a leap year baby he didn't get a 29th of February this year - so we celebrated Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He decided I should try Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake. It was a hit and tasted as good as Cafe Latte.

Food Network catches my eye every once in a while. I tried the braised brisket on Sunday with potato patties and it turned out very good. I normally don't create heavy meat meals, so Steve and Troy felt this was a treat. I had a large green salad with a bit of braised beef upon it. It was very tender.

I've been planning trips, races, etc. I've entered Chippewa 50K, Ice Age 50M and Bighorn 100. One race will cover training for the next race. I'm running Lucky Half Marathon in two weeks. I can't wait. I decided it wasn't a good idea to rush into Zumbro 100 in early April. I will be a moderate person and run the Chippewa 50K instead. See, I can be moderate :) I'll see if Larry needs me at an aid station or something else for Zumbro. I'm planning on Afton 50K, BETA VI and Voyager 50 Mile in July, need something for August, Superior Sawtooth in September, October is TC Marathon and Wild Duluth.

Friday is my 6 weeks post op appointment at Mayo. I will then be released to run, to work, to do anything my little heart desires. Thank goodness!! I am SO ready. I am SO done with this hysterectomy business.