Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Troy's 16th Birthday: Leap Year Day!

February 29th!  Troy finally gets to celebrate a birthday on a birthday and what a birthday it is!  Mother Nature did for Troy what I could not: cancel school!

We received 4-6 heavy wet inches of snow last night. You can imagine the happy dance I did when I came down to run on my treadmill this morning before work, I thought. I turned on the news at saw we had a cancellation. Hurray!

Troy came thundering down the stairs a while later ... no school Mom? Really?  Really Troy!  What a smile!  An amazing Happy Birthday for Troy!

We just finished spending a few hours outside having a snowball  making contest. Somehow everything turns into a competition!  His snowballs are huge, as big as me, and much heavier. Mine as smaller, I ended up making a snowball fort. The snow is heavy and wet, perfect for building.

Topaz even ended up with snowballs!  What an awesome day..and it's only mid day.

I baked Troy a  Chocolate Malt birthday cake with Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting. It looked rather plain, but will taste incredible.  I had purchased a bakery cookie yesterday for Troy's "Birthday Eve" treat and placed it upon his cake for some added interest.

On the menu is a first. I'm roasting beef ribs. They have been in the oven since  8 AM, at 200 degrees with a rub and salt, wrapped in foil. I just added sweet potato, brussels and squash to roast as well. Delightful.

I may enjoy a piece of cake today as tomorrow I'm again cutting out the sugar. It has crept back into my diet, I've allowed it and it just takes over.  I find sugar for me is much like alcohol is. All or none.  I held it at bay for a few years but it has totally become out of hand once again. I feel as though I am mourning it already and I recall having the same feelings about booze.

I found that I was giving 101 excuses as to why I wasn't ready to stop eating sugar.  Just as I did when I wanted to quit drinking .. but didn't want to go through the withdrawal detox. It's the same frickin' thing. Sugar is a drug to me now as alcohol and tobacco once was. The problem is, it is more accepted that the later. People tend to think  you are even more of a freak when you give up sugar, wheat, corn syrup, etc.

My love for baking isn't surpassed by my love for sugar. The two go hand in hand. I am no longer going to participate in the Daring Bakers, the Tuesday's with Dorie, the Cake Bakers. It would be like belonging to Wine Club or a Home Brewery Club. Yeah, I don't think so.

This blog has been a great tool to hold myself accountable, I may use it as such again. I'm just not sure how  much I am comfortable sharing here. So many people I know in real life read this now, not just my running friends who I shared with before and am comfortable sharing with again, too many others may make me feel too uncomfortable, at first, maybe not.  Time will tell.

OK and this font is crazy. It is either so tiny I can barely read it or huge like this. What's up with this.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Trail, Old Friends

Yesterday I woke at 300 AM for a 600 AM run date at Lebanon Hills, in Eagan.  I knew that Maria, Arika and Jim were going to be running. Zac and Todd were too, as well as Travis and Mike, whom I met for the first time yesterday.

My plan was to run for approximately 4 hours, 600 AM- 1000 AM, so that I would be home, showered, fueled and ready to go to my nephew's 100 PM play in Princeton.

When I pulled into the lot at 550 it was still dark, I was glad my headlamp was tucked under my seat and had been since my last night run. I was disappointed that I didn't see any cars in the lot. Maybe I was just earlier that everyone else.

Sure enough!  Within a few minutes cars began to pull into the lot.  Jim began at 4 AM so already had 9 miles in when we were ready to head out. He was running another 9 with us, planning on being back home by 1000 to get his Twins tickets ordered.  Good plan! I would be running two of the 9 mile sections.

We headed off into the dark, upon the snow packed trail. The trail was in very good condition-the snow was compressed tightly, there had been plenty of traffic upon the trails. I was anxious for the sun to rise so that I could see my surroundings. I could tell that we were running along a lake. There were many of them along the trails.

When the sun rose we were running through a pine area. It was just beautiful. The  trails were rolling hills, through areas of pine, oak and a bit of open field.

We didn't see many others out enjoying the trails. I saw one other runner and a man walking with his dog. It was early for most of the population, I suppose.

The park has a visitor center that was open with HEATED bathrooms and water fountains. It was a green building that had a vegetative roof, rain garden and day lighting. There were beaches, snowshoe trail, horse trail, bike trail and ski trail, skating, fishing and kayaking available. Quite the park!

As I was running along the trail system I realized I was sore from wrist to waist. The last CrossFit WOD I did was 100 pull ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit ups and 100 squats. That was on Thursday and I was certainly feeling it yesterday!

Our 9 mile loop brought us back to the parking lot where I refilled bottle and grabbed another gel. Jim, Travis, Arika and Todd ended their run and Maria, Zac, Mike and myself headed out for another 9 mile stretch. There were times when I watched the others run up hills as I was slowly trudging up them, wondering what the hell had happened to my level of fitness. Just as I began to mourn the fitness I once had I stopped  myself to  remind me to feel the gratitude for just being out there!  I quickly realized that it wasn't too many months ago that I wasn't sure if I would ever get through the day without pain and I certainly didn't think I was going to be running trail this winter.  Those thoughts kept me in check.

I had an awesome time out there and will be going back to Lebanon Hills.

This afternoon I'm meeting Bonnie and Marie for a late lunch at Ecopolitan then off to Twin City Running Company for Unbreakable movie night.  Boy, two days of socialization in a row. That's not like me but I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I have been interested in trying  a CrossFit class for quite some time. I don’t do anything very quickly.  Running is long and slow, weight training is slow and deliberate. I wanted to try the high intensity of CF.

A few of my ultrarunning friends absolutely love CF. They live on the West Coast and CF has been around for ages out there. Many use CF to compliment their running a few times a week. The past few years CF has made its way to MN and boxes are popping up here and there.  The closest one to Big Lake that I could find a few months ago was in Maple Grove. Because I have been driving an hour to go to my favorite CorePower Yoga class, I really didn’t want to drive that far to CF.

A few weeks ago I again did a search for CF in the area and low and behold I got a hit!  A master Taekwondo instructor in the area who has his CF certification was holding classes!  Woohoo! He just began classes last month. Only 20 minutes away!

Yesterday I attended my first CF class. Well, actually, it wasn’t even a class. It was a required introduction to a beginning class.

I was apprehensive. All that I know about CF it that it is bad ass, intense, pull ups and throwing heavy tires around.  I had looked at YouTube videos and different blogs and such. Many in my paleo community practice CF.

Ryan gave me an in-depth introduction to CF. He explained that CF is not a specialized fitness program but an attempt to optimize physical competence in 10 areas: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.  Oh, is that all?

He explained some CF terminology, the WOD (workout of the day), the scaling back of w/o’s to ability level, etc.

After the introduction and 101 questions that I had it was time for my workout.

The workout was 500 meter row, 50 squats, 40 sit ups, 30 push ups, 20 pull ups; for time.   I didn’t think it seemed too brutal, I was wrong!

My body isn’t used to doing anything fast, this is why I wanted to begin CF. The intensity!  I can run long and slow, I can lift long and slow, but fast..I haven’t been doing fast! I am ready to give my body a wake up call.

I began to row and that was fine, it took me about 3 minutes to finish 500 meters, I unhooked the safety straps from my feet and went to the squat. I was to squat deep, touching my but to the ball each time. No problem but my heart rate was increasing and sweat was beginning to roll. Good stuff.  Onto the sit ups. Oh lord. I normally do ‘crunches’ .. why? I’m not really sure. I quit doing regular sit ups quite some time ago when I began this long session of crunches and have been doing them since. I had to chuckle. I told Ryan “my son is going to be so disappointed that I can’t do normal sit ups!” He told me to extend my arms and use them as leverage. Silly!  I felt like a fool.  Oh well, suck it up and move on. I completed the 40 and went to push ups.

20 were no problem and then they were s l o w and my form was becoming very improper. These were ‘chest to deck’ pushups. Touching my chest to the floor for each pushup. I haven’t done that before. Pretty soon I moved to KNEE pushups.  Yes, truly. Knee pushups!  Good grief.  After 40 I wobbly walked to the pull up bar.  Oh dear. During our intro he asked how many pull ups I could do. I told him about 10 at that point. I didn’t bother telling him I could do many more before this past year and of my injury.  I did 5 during our intro. They must not have been too stellar because he said I could jump off a box and jump up to the bar to do the pull-ups during the workout. 

I jumped up to the bar and was able to get 8 in but after that my arms and back were just kind of done.  I jumped up and muscled out as many as I could. I was panting and spit was coming out of my mouth. Gross!  The last few my form was gone but I was just counting to 20.  At 20 I was beat.  I was panting like a dog. My legs were tired, my arms were tired, my back was tired. I was soaked. Unreal.

I shuffled to my water and towel and realized I was supposed to be completing this for time.  The clock said 10:15.  Sheesh, most intense 10 minute work I’ve ever had.

I can only improve, right?

I loved it!

After I finished up we talked about the class schedule, payment, etc. I decided I’d begin with a few free classes at the beginning level. He feels that I will be able to walk into beginners and be OK. I don’t know about that but I will try it.  I will be going  to class today at 530, after Topaz and I get our Run On.

Instead of leaving with my tail tucked between my legs and my ears down I left with a smile upon my face. I can’t wait to go back today!

Do you CrossFit?  Do you CrossFit and Ultrarun?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Psycho Wyco 50K: Race Report

If a smile is worth a 1000 words, I guess you know what I'm saying here!

With the Ultra Gnarly Bandit series as my 2012 goal and the first 100 in April, I hoped to find a few aided races to take the place of solo long runs on snowy trail.

My friend Maria was heading to Kansas City for the Psycho Wyco 50K so I asked if I could tag along.  Yippee!  She offered me a ride with herself and Doug. Doug was going to run the 10 mile race.

I began to watch the weather forecast. KC was basking in 50-60s. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. Pretty soon the 10 day forecast was showing 20-30, without any snow or ice on the trail. Conditions were looking great.

After dropping Troy off at school on Friday I made my way over to Maria’s. Maria, Doug and son Justin were all aboard and we headed down south.  On the way down Maria told me that the temperatures had really taken a dive. The start temperature was now 6F with a high of 28F.  Brrrr!  I didn’t bring a pair of wind mittens to wear over my gloves  nor did I bring a neck gaiter. Hmm.  Luckily I couldn’t decide between tights or pants so I brought both. I’d be wearing both!  I only packed one thin shirt so I was hoping we were going to get a race shirt at packet pickup so I would have another layer to wear for the cold start.

Our trip to Kansas City was uneventful, thankfully.  Our first stop was packet pickup in Overland Park, KS. We pulled into a running store and collected our wares. Number, nice coffee mug and a technical long sleeve shirt. Yay!  Our number had a timing strip on the back of it. Cool.

I mentioned that I was hoping to find a Godiva nearby. Valentine’s Day was near and I hadn’t made my trip over to Ridgedale. I wasn’t sure we would be home in time on Sunday.  Maria looked up Godiva on her iPhone and before we knew it I was buying chocolate for my Valentine's ! 

Our next stop was the hotel. We were staying only 1 mile from the start!  Awesome.  The Comfort Suites Speedway was very nice. Clean, awesome king bed, very comfy. I was staying by myself and greatly enjoyed the quiet time alone. 

We checked in, got ourselves settled and went to check out the course. It was cold and windy!!  Brrr.  13F with a 40 mph wind and it was 4 PM.  I was worried about being cold.  The trail was frozen solid. There were many horse hoof prints that were very deep. The mud kind of came up in frozen spikes, it would be difficult footing.  Hey, it wasn’t going to be very muddy though.

After looking at the course we headed over to the Legends area. We had a great dinner at Yard House; a sirloin steak salad for me.

Back to the hotel to prepare for the morning run. I was a little bit worried about the cold. I knew my bottle would freeze but could deal with that. My frozen chin and neck I wasn’t so sure about. Maria had a spare pair of mittens that I could put over my gloves. 

With an 800 race start I had plenty of time in the morning to get ready. I brought along my French press,  my coffee grinder and favorite beans. I brewed coffee, ate a sweet potato and a few hard boiled eggs.  I was ready!

We arrived to the race start an hour before start time. The lot was already almost full!  The 50K was a 10 mile loop course so I would be able to come back to the car, hopefully, to remove a second pair of pants. I felt like a frickin’ Michelin man wearing tights and pants.

Someone must have said GO!  We were running across the grass and up onto the trail. The course was made up of many steep hills-some short, some long. Lots of up and downs. I was glad that I hadn’t lifted legs during the week! They were well rested, having only run 15 miles  race week.

The first part of the trail was this spikey bad frozen mud stuff.  Thankfully it was frozen or it would be a shoe sucking mud. It was horrific! There were craters 4-6” deep, it was solid, there was no give,  just perfect for twisting ankles. On the downhill I would stop myself, get control and navigate down slowly. I was here to finish a long training run, this race had nothing to do with racing! 

Even with Maria’s second pair of mittens over my fingers, they were cold. Holding my bottle of now slushy water was not fun.  The nozzle of the bottle was frozen so I would stop and unscrew the top, gulp down the water and spit out the ice.  I couldn’t remember the last time I needed to do this. Probably one of the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathons. It had been a while!

Eventually I came upon a hill to the first aid station. They had an aluminum pan filled with gels, sitting over a 50 gallon drum with a fire inside, trying to thaw out the gels. The poor volunteers, they were SO cold!  At least we were moving and would eventually be warming up. They were just standing around becoming more cold. 

My back and neck were feeling just great. I wasn’t having any pain, no tingling or numbness.  I was keeping a close  eye on it.

The next section was crazy!   I left the aid station, went through the woods, going back and forth every few feet. Lots of sharp corners, steep ups and downs, leaf covered trail. It was beautiful but hard on the knees!  I was surprised when I came up to the same aid station but on the opposite side! I hadn’t realized that AS1 and AS2 were one in the same.

After leaving AS2 there were more steep ups and downs, beautiful deep woods, lots of leaves on the trail and not quite so crater-ish.  The trail seemed to be more sandy with better footing.  I came out onto a grassy area, climbing a dam or something up to a  paved road. There was a train that whizzed by in back of me. I was just so happy.  I was smiling ear to ear, enjoying the pure sunshine, enjoying the warmth on my face. I was looking forward to removing Maria’s mittens and my second pair of pants once I finished this loop. My bottle was still frozen, but I was warming up.

AS3 was on the paved road. The volunteers were having a good time, trying to keep fruit thawed and gels warm. I took a piece of frozen pear, it was good! 

As I ran along I just couldn’t stop smiling. This was fabulous.  I wasn’t in pain, I was enjoying an aided long run, just what I wanted. I had been feeling euphoria since the start but kind of tried to put it on hold, feeling I had much of the race left and I that I had better wait to celebrate this run.

I decided pushing back the euphoria was ridiculous!  I realized it was good to feel euphoric, take it while it is there, breathe it in and enjoy!  The euphoria never left was with me the whole way .

I came into the start/finish at 220 or so. I had hoped to finish each loop in 230 roughly.  Everything was great.  I removed the mittens and a pair of pants. Oh thank goodness!  Nor more Michelin man look. I folded them up and placed them on Jerry’s car for the duration.  I was so darn happy! I didn’t hurt!!

The second loop came and went so quickly. A few people commented to me that they were glad they were only doing the 20 mile race. I thought to myself that I was glad I had another loop to go, I certainly wasn’t ready to be finished yet. I was enjoying each and every step.

My second loop finish was 228, just fine.  Doug was finished with his race and offered me Diet Coke.  YUM!  It tasted great.

As I headed off for my final loop I heard someone jogging near me.  Pretty soon he said “I think I’ll run with you for a while”  “Oh, K” He began to complain about the cold, to complain about the pitted trail, to complain about 101 things. I just didn’t need this. I had been totally loving this run and this guy was totally bugging me.  Pretty soon he began to suck in his snot-constantly. Every few seconds I could hear him suck through his nose, loudly. It was terrible. I mean, come on, blow it out or something. I couldn’t stand it. I was going to gag. I did gag.  Ugh!  Sniff sniff sniff swallow sniff swallow. Ugh.

I began to run a bit faster, I couldn’t take this.  Pretty soon he was out of sight, thank goodness. 

I was having fun again before I knew it. This guy wasn’t going to ruin my day.  My bottle was ice free, I was now able to drink freely without ice chunks. I had no pain. NO PAIN!

I began to run along and think about this run. I thought about all of the times in the past year that I told myself it was OK that I couldn't run, it was OK if I could never run again. It was important for me to live without pain, not to run. I really really believed that, I had to believe that in order to get on to the next day. As I ran along I realized again how much I missed running. It was like losing my best friend, losing a part of me. I am so very glad to have it back. I began to cry, to sob, reliving what I had lost and what is now back. I felt such gratitude to be running again. What a great day, a great race and great volunteers .  I had SO much fun!  I was skipping along the final loop, passing people left and right. What a blast. Really.

I crossed the finish line in 7:30 with a big smile upon my face. I enjoyed each and every minute! I feel like I am back, definitely back to myself ! Life is good !