Monday, April 25, 2011

Chippewa 50K Ultramarathon

I did it! I was able to finish the Chippewa 50K in fine form. Yes, I had some doubt three weeks ago but as race day approached I told myself there wasn't any reason I couldn't run a 50K 10 weeks post hysterectomy. Right? Right!

I've only been training for a month and that month has been spent building endurance, not speed, that is for sure. I have no speed in these legs unless I train hard, diligently and run speed sessions twice a week with a weekly minimal mileage total of 75 miles. That's how this body works. Running fast(er) doesn't come easy for me.

With a few weeks to train I really wasn't certain how the endurance was going to pan out either. I did run 2 20 milers, so was hoping the next 11 during the race would be OK. It was.

I arrived to the race start with 4 minutes to spare. Yeah, thanks mapquest. Even though I have volunteered before I certainly didn't remember where in the world New Auburn WI was, somewhere out in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest. I was tossed and turned around, finally realizing hey, I have an iPhone and that has a GPS. So DUH! I have had an iPhone for 3 years and never used the GPS. I pulled it out, entered in the address and bingo! Even though there was no cell/internet service the GPS still works. It had me to the race start before the race started.

Quickly stuffed gels into my pocked, grabbed my Garmin, fixed my feet and hightailed it up to the visitor center where Jeff was calling all of the runners to the start. He helped me to find my chip and number and we were off!

The course was beautiful! Nice rolling ups and downs, deep woods, so many lakes, it was incredible. The trail was soft, nice and well..muddy. We ran through pine, oak, along ridges, through fields, a few road crossings-even some obstacles such as fence climbing and bridge crossings were involved. It was fantastic and SO GOOD TO BE RUNNING AN ULTRA AGAIN!

I saw my long lost friends! I didn't have any time to visit at the start so was able to catch up on the trail. Maria and I started out together for 5 minutes we chatted but at the first hill I had to let her go. I had to let a whole bunch of friends that I normally run with go. I was breathing heavily up that hill and knew it would mean trouble if I was gasping for air this early. I told her to go ahead and I'd visit at the finish.

I walked the hill and then found John T, ran a few hundred feet and had to stop to pee. I didn't have a chance to pee after the long ride with only 4 minutes to start. Off went the group. Scott W was out running! So happy to see him, it's been years since we've run together. It was a nice HI and BYE! He was long gone before I stepped back onto the trail.

For a few moments I was bummed that I was at the back of the pack, where I used to be when I first began ultras. I quickly changed my mindset and became grateful that I was even out running. Here I was, healthy, able to run a 50K deep in the woods. It's a great way to spend the day!

I ran along, enjoying Mother Nature. The course is an out and back, with 2 manned aid stations along the way, two self serve with water and an aid station at the turn around.

At each aid station I filled with Heed, grabbed a few gels and scampered on down the trail. I was totally enjoying the views. This course is on the Ice Age Trail, it is just beautiful

Eventually the leaders were coming back, I was going to be able to see all of the runners. John S was in third place, running strong. Helen was third woman, also looking strong. I love out and backs, so nice to see everyone!

Pretty soon I saw the group I had been racing with before my hiatus: John T, Jim, they were like 5 miles ahead of me. Wow. For a moment I thought: I suck. Then I changed that thought. No, I'm just fine. I'm having a blast, I'm getting my money worth!

At the turn around I felt famished! I was running slowly and knew I wouldn't have any trouble digesting food. I ate 3/4 of a fresh peanut butter jelly sandwich and refilled on heed and gels. The sandwich tasted wonderful!

Lynn was taking pictures, I'll post a few, and off I went, back toward the start.

Along my way back I still felt good. I had been running a very cautious pace for fear of crashing. I was probably too cautious but better to error on the side of good judgment!

I ended up passing 13 people on the way back, yeah, I counted. It made me feel good about my run. I ran a negative split of 1:24! Ha, that's one minute and 24 seconds! Pretty consistent pace!

At the end of the race is a huge grassy hill leading to the visitor center. John S and Joe were up there cheering and yelling. They finished in 424 or some crazy fast speed and this was Joe's first ultra. Yeah. Wow! Great run.

I walked up that last hill and crossed the finish line in 7:10. A good 45 minutes or so slower than my 50K time but hey, I did it and I'm good with it! My goal was 8 hours so I was golden.

A quick visit with others and I hurried to my car to change into dry clothes and gobble up a shake of berries, juice, Udos and protein powder. I had leftover lentil patties and greens for the drive home.

I'm trying to be diligent with recovery foods. Too many times I don't eat post run because I don't feel hungry. A shake is easy to get down the hatch and digests easily.

I visited with wonderful friends whom I have missed so much, for an hour or so and then it was time to move on home to color Easter eggs and bake the Bun Bun Cake.

Thanks to RD Jeff, the volunteers and all of my friends out there. You all rock. A few more weeks and I'm off to WI again, this time for Ice Age 50 Mile Ultra. Woohoo!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Vegan Recipies: Lentil Patties and Vegan Curry

Yesterday Troy had a baseball game away, I wasn’t able to attend so I had a few extra hours at home. Normally I am at the game, running quickly before hand, or Troy has a practice that is finished at 430, leaving no time for the drive to and back from the trail.

As I was running the State Park trails I was thinking about what I might feel like eating for dinner. With some extra time I wanted to create a few new meals. I recalled a few recipes that I hadn’t yet tried. A curry with coconut milk – I have never used canned coconut milk, either, and a lentil patty. I’m calling it a patty because I don’t think it should be confused with a burger. It tastes nothing like a standard beef burger and isn’t supposed to replace a burger.

The trails were all clear of snow, only a few areas where streams have overtaken the trail (today they are covered with snow!). Topaz and I ran 10 miles, enjoying every step.

On the way home I looked up my file (thank you iPhone!) with recipes and noted that I needed to stop for canned coconut milk to create the curry. Both recipes are from the No Meat Athlete website. A website I visit often.

Both items were very easy to make up and both were very tasty! The curry is especially good with the creaminess of the coconut milk. I ate that for dinner last night and have my lentil patty atop greens for my lunch today. Yum!

Here are the recipes if you are interested:

• 1 c dry lentils, well rinsed
• 2½ c water
• ½ t salt
• 1 T olive oil
• ½ medium onion, diced
• 1 medium carrot, diced
• ½ t pepper
• 1 t soy sauce, optional
• ¾ c rolled oats, finely ground
• ¾ c bread crumbs
1. Place the lentils, water, and salt in saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until water is nearly gone and lentils are very soft, with splitting skins.
2. Sauté the onion and carrot in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Mix the lentils, onions, carrots, pepper, and optional soy sauce in the large bowl, then mix in the ground oats and bread crumbs.
4. While still warm, form the lentil mixture into patties, which can now be frozen, refrigerated (for up to 5 days), or cooked immediately.
Cooking (2 possibilities):
1. In a frying pan, heat a bit of oil, place a burger on top, and fry until brown, 1-2 minutes. Repeat on other side and serve.
2. In a 400º oven, bake the burgers on a greased baking sheet until light brown, about 15 minutes.

• Cooked brown rice, however you like it (we used 2 boil-in-bags this time)
• 2 Tbsp canola oil
• 1 small yellow onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
• 1 Tbsp curry powder
• 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 15-oz can chickpeas
• 15-oz can coconut milk, solid and liquid parts mixed (just shake the can)
• 1/2 cup frozen peas
• 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
• 1 cup water
In a heavy saucepan (Dutch oven if you have it!), heat the oil over medium-low heat. After the pan has heated up for a few minutes, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Cook for about 5 minutes until everything is softened. Add the curry powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper (I added a lot of salt, almost a tablespoon).
Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, coconut milk, and water to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sweet potato is tender. It took about 15 minutes for me. Add the peas and tomatoes; stir occasionally until they're heated through, about 4 more minutes. Serve over brown rice.

The canned coconut is amazing! Creamy and nice, sweet. A good fat, too.

I portioned out the servings for the rest of the week. Lunches are ready!

Chippewa 50K this Saturday. Long and slow, I am not going to look at my watch and if I am last I am OK with that. I am thinking of this as a paid training run for Bighorn.

I am so looking forward to Easter. I love holidays and love Easter! It is supposed to 65F, sunny and lots of fun. The Easter baskets are ready, we'll dye the eggs, egg hunt, croquet, I'll be baking the bun bun cake. Spending time with my boys. Can't wait!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run

This past Friday was the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run. Originally I was hoping to run this in part with the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Ultra Gnarly Bandit series. Once I was scheduled for surgery I decided I’d volunteer instead.

I had never volunteered during a 100 before so have never worked the night shift. I was sure looking forward to it!

John Storkamp, the new RD for the race, did an excellent job keeping the volunteers updated as to our assignments, our shift times, who we would be working with, etc.

My shift was 6 PM to 6 AM at the Start/Finish. I was happy to be assigned here as I could park my car here and use it as a tent. I would have all of my clothes near me, I could run 25 miles and then change before my shift.

Amazingly the course was in great condition. Just last week there was inches of snow upon the trail. With some rain during the week and temperatures up in the 50s I thought the course would be very muddy. It wasn’t! The snow was gone and the sand had soaked up all of the water. Beautiful!

Completing a long training run during a race is an awesome way to get the miles in! The course was perfectly marked and I was able to pick up Hammergel and Hammer Heed along the way. Visiting with my friends working the other aid stations was quite a treat too. I was surprised that I only ran into Daryl during my loop-he finished in fine form.

The run went very well for me. I was able to climb without gasping for air, I was able to run a few fast miles without my heart rate sky rocketing. I am encouraged for Chippewa 50K in a week and a half.

The course was beautiful. There are long climbs, runnable flats, awesome views of the river from the high bluffs. I saw deer and grouse, wild leeks and purple flowers.

I couldn’t but become excited about running the race next year.

Volunteering the station was so much fun. There were 50 volunteers to 25 runners so we had plenty of help. I filled bottles, packs, made grilled cheese sandwiches, handed out salt tablets, fetched Vaseline, scooped stew and offered encouragement to the runners.

It was interesting to watch the runners come in. The course is a 20. 5 mile loop, completed 5 times so I saw most of the runners twice during my 6 PM to 6 AM shift. Some of the runners were very self sufficient. Many of them had their vehicles parked nearby and just went there to change, mix up fuel, eat. They would run past for me to check in their number and time. Other runners like to know what is available to eat and drink. Then dictate back what they want. Some runners don’t have any idea what they want. I would then suggest at least a gel, how about a ½ sandwich to take along? It was a lot of fun.

Eventually the volunteers began to thin out for a quick nap. John told us to catch an hour or two. I went to my car and reclined the front seat back, cuddling up in a warm down nest. I tried to fall asleep but wasn’t able to . 30 minutes later I wandered back to the station and there was John all by himself. He was exhausted, having been up for days getting this party ready. He nodded off while we were sitting at the fire, then popped back up and began to set up the finish line. He wouldn’t rest for long.

We continued to feed the runners, I would check them in and wrote down their times as they came through. The night was relatively mild. The runners kept their day clothes on. The low was 48F. Not bad!

At one point John looked at me and said "This is really fucked up. These people are out there running 100 miles and we are acting like it's a normal thing for everyone to do. We do it" I responded "Yeah, and Lynn's bone is showing through her knee from her fall and we think it is a great thing that she went out to finish up the race anyway".

The things that you do and that you are around eventually become normal, not fucked up. Amazing.

At the end of the day there were 25 entered and 16 finishers. The course record that John Storkamp set last year was crushed by Adam Schwartz in 21:53.

Here are the results:

1 Adam Schwartz-Lowe 21:53:05
2 Matthew Aro 23:03:32
3 Shane Peltonen 23:27:40
4 Susan Donnelly 26:13:36
5 Ruben Anderson 28:59:01
6 Jordan Hanlon 29:34:36
7 Rob Apple 29:53:21
8 Daryl Saari 30:07:35
9 Kathleen Jambor 30:14:43
10 Bob Murphy 30:15:28
11 Vince Gerber 30:17:14
12 John Taylor 30:21:53
13 Lynn Saari 31:43:37
14 Erik Dalgaard 32:06:22
15 Matthew Schafer 32:32:09
16 Brian Van Beusekom 33:25:45

It was a fabulous day and I was honored to be a part of the race. Thank you to all of the runners, the volunteers, crew, the RDs. I have a few photos I’ll post later.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

2011 Zumbro Fat Ass Run

Yesterday I headed south to Zumbro Falls to run the again annual Zumbro Fat Ass. I arrived earlier than the 10:00 start time so ran around the Bottoms for a while before others arrived and while others were chopping and stacking wood for the aid stations during the Zumbro 100 next Friday.

I became warm while running early in the morning in pants so changed into shorts prior to our trail run. Ah, the first run of the season in shorts. Nice!

Daryl and Lynn arrived with their playful pup, Lexi. She smiles and wags her tail constantly, such a pretty girl. Joe had his Rottweiler/Pit mix who was also very friendly and as Chris arrived a huge lean dog bounded out from his car. Oh my gosh, this was Cooper. The Cooper that Chris has been skijoring with recently. Wow. What a dog. I didn't realize how large he was. He looked like he was part deer! Awesome.

We chatted a bit and headed out on the trail. It was a beautiful morning, 35F, sun, with a high of 50. Couldn't get any better!

The trail was covered with a lot of snow, some mud and water in the low areas. The shaded areas still held quite a bit of snow.

My climbing legs have been in hibernation, I could feel them resist climbing up the snow covered hills. I was out of breath a few times, but I didn't panic as I did a few weeks earlier. I just took it easy, bringing up the back of the pack. I was OK with that.

I chatted with Cheri and Wayne quite a bit. Cheri is running Bighorn 50K and Wayne is heading out to McNaughton next week. It was fun to catch up, I've been away for so long.

Running through the leaf covered trail was a treat. There were areas where the sun had melted off all of the snow exposing a nice soft cover. It felt good to run on a bit of dirt!

The aid station that I am assigned to next week, AS 2, is covered in an ice berg. AS2 and AS3 will now be combined at the AS3 location.

I had an awesome time, it felt so good to be out running at Zumbro Bottoms among friends again.

I don't know how much snow will be left for the race next week. It rained last night and the forecast is for 50s this week. Much of it will probably melt but I imagine some of it will be left.

I'm planning on running a loop of the course before my 6 PM shift on Friday. Good luck to all of the runners! See you out there!!