Tuesday, December 10, 2013

25K Donut Run

The Donut Day 25K is a fun run put on by Jordan Hanlon in Minneapolis. It’s free! Runners run from bakery to bakery and eat donuts…ending at a donut shop.  I  really wasn't sure what to expect for the Donut Run, just that it sounded like fun! 

I knew that there was a 5, 10 and 25K mile version. My longest run was 5 miles coming in. I ran a 5 in the AM and a 3 in the PM, I suppose 8 miles technically.  I knew that we were running through the Minneapolis area and stopping at local bakeries. Fun!!

The weather was forecast to be cold. -20F and -35F Wind Chill. I wasn't worried about that. Layers of good running clothing is all that is necessary.

We were starting at 800 at Lake Nokomis. I stopped for gas and had to wait for a train, before I knew it I was running late. I approached Lake Nokomis at 755 so opted to park in the pay lot so I didn't have to scurry around looking for parking.

I wasn't sure if I'd know anyone running. I walked slowly to Jordan giving the directions to the group  and was excited to see Maria and Doug nearby. Maria was running the 25K and Doug the 5 mile. I still wasn't sure what I was going to run. When Maria asked I told her 10 for sure, hopefully 25K, but still not sure. I'd see how the ankle felt.

Before I knew it we were moving. There were probably about 30 of us  in total. Last year there were 150 but the cold temps must have been cause for bail out.  I don't know why. Seriously. It was just a joyful time.

I ran by myself from Lake Nokomis to A Bakers Wife-at 4200 and 28th Ave South. This was only a few miles so I didn't go in for water .. or a donut .. I had to pee. Jordan suggested I go next door to the bike shop. It was very nice to use their warm bathroom!

At this point, so lucky for me, John Taylor and Maria were standing outside of the bakery, deciding not to enter, either. I was able to hook up with them and stayed with them the whole run. SO blessed!! SO excited to run with my two buddies again.

Maria knows the area well-she knew right where we were going to go so she just led us along. Our next stop was Glam Doll Donuts at 2605 Nicollet. We went Right instead of Left on Nicollet-I had a map in my pocket so a quick glance showed us our error. We trotted down to Glam Doll-I could smell the fragrance of hot oil and sugar as we approached! Glam Doll was a hoot. Pretty sparkly pink Christmas tree in the corner, girls all glammed out, a huge array of donuts, warm bathrooms, water for the runners. I downed a gel and a bottle of water here and noticed that
The end of my pony tail was a rats nest.   As I was trying to pull the knots out a kind woman, Lisa was her name, took out my pony tail holder and braided my hair. Yay!  I wouldn’t have to worry about it all breaking off.

Maria found a bacon covered donut here. I think they may be the new rage. We seemed to spot bacon pastries at each stop.

We began to catch a chill so headed out for our next stop: Angel Food Bakery. The route was so much fun on the way. We were now downtown Minneapolis, running past my old working grounds. I worked in the Piper Jaffrey building on Marquette, 11 years ago. We ran right past it. Ran past the Metrodome, the Guthrie, good times. 

By now the wind was blowing in our faces. The air temperature was -11F and the wind chill -25F. I kept warm. I was wearing a pair of heavy tights, the Skirt Sports pants with skirt, a tank top and two long sleeved tops, my winter running jacket. Two pair of gloves, a pair of wind mitts, a neck gaitor and heavy fleece hat. There were points where I took off my mitts but for the most part I dressed perfectly. I wasn't cold a bit. 

At Angel they had a tank of water with lemons for us. It was fabulous and so wonderful that I didn't have to carry around a bottle of water that would end up freezing anyway. Not to mention warm bathrooms with hot running water! 

I was blown away by the cake above!  Maria had a cronut here. A cross between a crossiant and a donut. It looked pretty cool.  I sucked down another gel and some more water. 

We left Angel and headed for our final leg to Mel O Glaze. By now I had decided that I was going to run the full 25K. My ankle was so awesome and I was so happy that I couldn't stop smiling. I ran at the mouth and caught up on everything with Maria. We listened to John stories-I have mentioned before that John Taylor has the most interesting things happen to him while racing. I can listen to him for a very long time!

As we were running along the Parkway we heard cheering and saw an aid station set up! Here Club Run had set up a wonderful aid station with HOT Caribou Coffee!  What a treat. We stood around, took pictures, laughed and had a blast..while sucking back two cups of coffee.

                           ?, John, Me, Lisa, Maria and Dan We ventured on until we hit Mel O Glaze, which was only .5 miles from our finish at Lake Nokomis. A quick check in with friends Misty and Thad, a glance at the huge donuts and we were on our way to the end.

As the three of us finished up the run I explained to Maria and John how wonderful it was to be out running again. I felt empowered, joyful, strong. Just how I want to feel.

    Saturday, December 07, 2013

    December 6..

    It has been at least a year since I've sat down at my home iMac to compose an entry for my Blog. I just hadn't felt the need.  A quick update from my iPhone is about all I've been doing recently-if even that. For some reason today that changed. Maybe it is because I'm turning 49 this month. Maybe it is because Tyler turned 22 today. Maybe it is because this month marks 9 years since I began this blog. Wow. Time has flown. Heck, Topaz will be 12 on Thursday! December is a big month around here.

    I look back at this year and all I can say say is shit, it has been tough as hell. I have never said those words about a prior year before. I have always said how wonderful the past year was, I list my goals met, my goals for the future, how marvelous the year was.  Not this time. It just wasn't. Not that I expect every year to be unicorns and rainbows. I have always felt blessed and thankful for the low stress, non harried life I live. That life wasn't so this year. This puts me in a very uncomfortable place-once that I am not accustomed to nor familiar with.

    -I suppose it begins with menopause. I went directly into menopause three years ago next month when I had a total radical hysterectomy for the prevention of ovarian cancer which runs rampant in my family. (I will be putting a blog post together all about running and hysterectomy. It is one of the  most hit topics on my blog..and I don't have many of those posts here). Everything is different. My body, my hormones, my moods, me. I am not using hormone therapy. I'm hot flashing not stop, I'm riding waves of emotion, sometimes high anxiety and hysteria. If I had been able to ease into menopause without surgery my symptoms wouldn't be as difficult to manage. Hey, it beats cancer, I keep telling myself.  Yes, yes it does!

    -Of course the death of my mother made for a horrifying year. She passed last November and it has really been a struggle for me. Duh. The pain is just as raw now as it was last year at this time. Last year at this time it may have been a bit easier..as I was just numb, not able to feel it as   I am now. 

    -Big Life Changes. Tyler moved out three years ago and Troy will be heading off to the college in August. I'm beyond excited and proud of him..but you know, big changes. 

    -Fracturing my ankle in July really threw me for a loop. I didn't let the damn thing heal and foolishly began Superior 100-I can say foolishly,  since I then broke the fractured ankle during this race. Had I not, and finished, I wouldn't say it was foolish. 

    The recovery has been difficult. Running as much as I do, with as many miles and races I have put in over the past 10 years of ultrarunning-I knew it was bound to happen. I always wondered what would happen to me physically - emotionally -  mentally - if I were injured. I now know.  Here this is 'only' a broken ankle..what if something happened where I could never run again? I would deal the best I could.

    With an MD and  orthopedic surgeons telling me I wouldn't run again I had to think about that scenario.  

    I wondered if I'd pick up my old friend alcohol again. I didn't think so..but with the depression I was feeling, who knows? Thankfully, I did not.  

    Running replaced drinking for me. I didn't want to drink again. Although I didn't want to drink again I was surprised at how often the thoughts came to me. Not thoughts of  planning my next drink, but memories of past drunks. Past life. Many times I woke up, thinking I was drunk, reliving the dream I had just had. Crazy.   I didn't want to go there again. 

    But I didn't drink. I held it together the best I could. I cried. I screamed while walking through the woods. I held Topaz tight. I pretend everything is OK. It's the best I can do.

    Addiction. I replaced alcohol and tobacco with running. I then found while I wasn't running I was consuming copious amounts of sugar. Another addiction. Not that I didn't know this would happen, It's always just under the surface. 

    No running, depression, menopause + eating sugar = weight gain.  Sure, I've been lifting and CrossFit, it isn't the same..physically or emotionally.

    A few weeks ago I ran my first 5 mile run. I cried almost the whole way. I was so thrilled. You know, it isn't 'just' about running. Running encompasses so much for me.  It is so much more, but running started it. Running helped me to become the person who I wanted to be. The person who I didn't think I could become.  Running has allowed me to feel alive. Running has kept me sober for 17 years.

    I look around my desk and see all of the medals, plaques, 100 mile buckles. Yes, I've obtained quite a few. Here is a sampling. There are many more. Each one is more than an award for a finish. Each one means so much more. Each one has a story. A story about me. Maybe I haven't been sitting here for a while because I didn't want to look. I didn't want to look at what I had been missing. Where I've been. The work and dedication I put in. I didn't want to face how much I missed running. How much I missed myself. 

    Today Topaz and I went out for an 8 mile snowshoe run at Lake Maria. I was -11F, -25 WC. I smiled the whole way. I thought about next year. I thought about what it will be. I celebrated that I have made it through this year. The best that I can. 

    Tomorrow I'm running the 25K Donut Run. 16 miles, 5 stops at local bakeries. There is a 5 mile and 10 mile version, too. I've run 8 this week, will try 10 and see if 16 is in the ankle. It will be -30WC, -15F. I think it will be The Hot Coffee Run. Hot Coffee at every Bakery. Nice!

    This sat in my draft for a day. Hence the mismatched title :D

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Superior Sawtooth 100: 2013 Version


    In the weeks coming up to Superior 100 I wasn’t sure if I was going to be fortunate enough to line up at the start or not. My ankle was so so-not painful , but not strong, either.  I decided I was going to line up and let it take me as far as it could.

    A week or so before the race I invited my Dad up to hang out on the North Shore in my beautiful condo. He was recovering from a broken clavicle so wouldn’t be able to do a lot of hiking or biking, but said he’d like to meet me at some of the aid stations. I was thrilled!!! I’ve never had anyone want to meet me at the aid stations before and especially not a 100!  WOW! How wonderful.

    FaceBook had me on edge!  Running races with since the social community came on board adds a measure of anxiety for me. Instead of nestling in and thinking about it myself there are many many others posting about the race as well. I don’t need the added anxiety factor!

    The weekend weather was forecast to be gorgeous!  I was really excited to get some hours on the Superior Hiking Trail.

    I drove to Two Harbors on Thursday afternoon for the packet pick up party. It was awesome!  Lots of friends to reconnect with and listening to John Storkamp is always a blast.  Drove back to Lutsen to Eagle Ridge to nestle in for the night.

    Friday morning was beautiful. Not cold, not wet.  I loaded the bus at Caribou Highlands to the start at Gooseberry Falls. Lots of nervous chatter enroute. I could have done without that!  I haven’t bussed to the start before..in the future I will continue to drive myself J

    We mingled and conversed at Gooseberry. Took photos, reconnected with my best of friends. I have so missed the ultra community during my injuries. They truly are what is most important about ultra, to me.

    John spoke for quite some time before he told us to GO!  We were off!  Off to make some memories!

    The first thing I realized was I was hot as hell. So glad that I was only wearing a skirt and tank. I was carrying 3 – 24 ounce bottles of water/heed in my pack with a bunch of Hammergel. This would carry me to the first aid station 10 miles or so out.

    In my previous race reports for Superior Sawtooth I have described every foot of the trail-look back to 2006, 2007 and 2008 if you are curious. This is a more concise version!

    I ran into aid station 1 at Split Rock, 10 miles out from start. My third bottle was dry..I couldn’t believe how warm it was. I filled up my bottles and headed on down the trail. My ankle was feeling solid , blisters were becoming a problem. I removed a sock at this station and popped my blisters with the pin from my race bib. Slathered on some more foot potion and headed on down the trail.

    Aid station 2 was another 10 miles out, at Beaver Bay. I knew Dad would be here!  I was so excited as I ran, just knowing that I would see him there. What a great concept..having someone who loves you at the aid stations. I didn’t put any pressure on him, didn’t ask for any crew duty. He was going to drive along the course and check in..awesome!

    I again drank 80 ounces during this section. As I ran into the station I spotted Dad right away!  I gave him a big hug and accidently hurt his collar bone which he just had surgery on. Oops!  I was so excited to see him there. He had my drop bag so I again popped a blister, cleaned my foot, put on a new sock. Laughed a bit, gave him a big kiss and hobbled on down the trail.

    Yup, the ankle was barking at me now. I could feel it  tighten and saw how  swollen it was becoming when I removed my gaiter and sock at the previous aid station.  I knew that each step was a gift and that I would do whatever the ankle would allow. Of course I was bummed that I wasn’t going to make it, but I really was happy just to be running some miles on the Superior Hiking Trail.

    Aid station 3 is at Silver Bay, 25 miles out. As I approached the station I spotted Dad, holding my bag with a big smile on his face!  I grabbed a sweet potato from the bag that I had stored in a Ziploc with an ice pack. It was still cold!  Awesome as it was SO hot out!  I introduced him to everyone, most of which who had already introduced themselves to him. It was great fun.

    I told Dad that my ankle was holding up so well and that I was going to try to make it to Co Rd 6 but Tettegouche could be the end of my race. I told him that nobody was allowed at Tettegouche, this was a mistake. There were not drop bags at Tettegouche but people could park and walk in. Oops. He then went onto Co Rd 6.

    As I ran into the plus 50K mileage I knew the end was coming. My ankle was swollen and felt horrible. I wasn’t going to risk it …  I didn’t realize I had already done the damage. 

    I ran into Tettegouche-35 miles and called it a day.  I hung around a while and caught a ride to Co Rd 6 to meet up with my Dad.

    As I walked up to him he was looking toward the aid station, waiting for me to come in. I showed up on the opposite side, he knew my race was then finished.  No tears, no huge disappointment, just the end of a fun day on the trail.

    We drove back to the condo and visited, reminiscing about the day and other things..it was really quite awesome.  I guess I’ve grown quite a bit since my first  DNF at Superior!  Thank God.

    I called my Dr. and was able to get right in. Xrays showed I broke the fibula bone, right above where I had fractured it  in July. I was immediately placed back into the boot..for 5 more weeks.


    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Running the Superior Hiking Trail: Superior 100 Training Runs

    I'm thrilled to report that my ankle is feeling much better. It seemed as though during Week 4 I really noticed a difference. I didn't feel the need to ice every few hours and there were even a few walking/running stretches in which I forgot all about it. Good stuff!

    Early last week Maria let me know that she and Doug would be heading up to the SHT and asked if I'd like to go along. Yes! I asked Steve and Troy if they were interested but sadly they declined. I would leave Friday after work and stay until Sunday. 

    Maria was able to reserve a campsite at Lamb's Resort. We weren't sure if we would be able to get one of the unreservables at the State Campgrounds, so Lamb's it was.  We were able to pitch both tents on one site so it only cost me a whopping $22 for the weekend!

    It wasn't that great..it wasn't that bad. We had a family of drunks next to us and with only a few trees inbetween -it made for sleepless nights. Oh well.

    Saturday I ran the Crosby-Manitou to Temperance section - 23 miles and Sunday ran the Temperance to Oberg section-11 miles. I had absolutely NO ankle pain so I consider this a huge success. I feel great today-no swelling. I still have the climbing muscles I reinvented on the ski hills at Hyland earlier this summer. 

    Manitou is the most difficult section for me. It took me about 3 hours to run during the day, fresh. It takes me over 4 hours to run in the dark, at mile 62, very unfresh!  It felt good to run again, without wonking out my ankle.  

    Doug, bless his heart, met us at each trail head with water. I was able to get the training run complete with only water, scaps and gels. 

    Having had to take a full three weeks off and then only running a few miles the past few weeks does make me nervous about the 100. I'm not going to sit and cry about it. Because this time on the trail went well I will be at the start line. This past weekend could have gone very poorly or very well. I'm thankful it was the latter!

    Less than three weeks to the big one! Weee!


    Friday, August 02, 2013

    Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run: Volunteer!

    Early last week it became apparent to me that I wasn't going to be able to run the Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run. Physically I suppose I knew that I wasn't going to, but emotionally...I was still holding onto hope. 

    In the past-during my recovery from hysterectomy and than the herniated discs from that recovery-I chose not to volunteer at races, nor did I socialize with my very best friends in the world. I felt that I was no longer a runner, that my fragile eggshell mind couldn't handle the fact that I wasn't running while around my friends. I'm so thankful that I have learned from that experience.

    Bill posted to FB that he was heading up an UMTR aid station and was looking for volunteers. I received confirmation that I would not be running and reached out to Bill about volunteering. I'm so glad that I did! 

    UMTR Aid Station at Peterson's. Mile 16 and 32. Rocking it Out!

    I slept in, was working the aid station from 730-330 so didn't leave for Duluth until 5 AM.  I missed a few signs so didn't get there until after 8, but it was OK. The station was well-manned!  

    It was freezing outside!  A bit of rain, some wind, 43F baby. Crazy. I was so happy I hauled my down vest, jacket and full length coat. Yup, I wore my full length down Patagonia coat. I wished I brought gloves!!  It was cold for us but not so much for the runners. Many runners in sleeveless tops, shirtless guys, they were not freezing.

    I had so much fun!  I don't believe I've worked an aid station for an Ultra before. I have been at registration and road races but not an ultra. Wow, so much fun.  I laughed so hard and so much that my face hurt. Bill talked so much that he lost his voice!  I, Victoria and Misty rang cowbell, made drums, cheered, it was crazy fun.  

    Helping others to obtain their goals..that was what this was all about. Offering an Oreo Brownie, filling a water bottle, offering to fill a bladder..a kind word or hug..that's what I could do for the runner. I met so many new people-many of which will become good friends, I just know it. I rekindled so many great relationships with my friends, it was just what I needed. 

    No more hunkering down and isolating myself from others during time of injury. I become depressed, withdrawn, unhappy. Laughing with the others..this is what I choose to do.

    We broke down the aid station at 330 and headed to the finish line. John was already done-finishing in under 9 hours. Most of the rest of the group sprinkled through the finish line between 10 and 13 hours. I had more brownies to offer-they absolutely loved them-and more hugs and cheers. What a great day! Fabulous runners!  Great volunteers and incredible RDs. What more can a person want? If I can't run the race I'll help you to run the race :)

    I am on the mend..Superior Sawtooth is still on the calendar. I need to find lodging..up next.

    Me, Misty and Victoria representing UMTR.

    Gene Curnow Trail Marathon - Formerly Half Voyageur 50

    Amy and I at the finish, all smiles!

    A few weeks ago I headed off to Duluth to run the newly named Gene Curnow Trail Marathon. Gene was a wonderful man who recently passed away. The 1/2 50 has been renamed for Gene and has been lengthened to 26.2 miles for a marathon instead of the 25 miles for the 1/2 Voyageur. I have such fond memories of Gene. He allowed me to finish my first 50 miler at Voyageur-in the thunder, lightening and hail. It took me over an hour past the time limit of 13 hours, in 2003, to finish, but Gene allowed it. He kept telling me "You look good Julie, you are just slow..keep on going!" I kept on going. He cheered me on as I came back each year, bettering my time, until most recently, I finished just over 10 hours. He said "You look good Julie, you are no longer slow..girl!"  We miss you Gene!

    I drove up Saturday morning toward Duluth. Another thunderstorm!  I had to pull over to the side of the highway three different times as I couldn't see a thing. Dark, wet morning, high winds. Oh joy!  I continued on.

    I was planning on parking in Carlton, taking the shuttle bus to the start in Duluth. However, with the pulling over to the side of the road time, I approached Carlton with 8  minutes to spare before the busses were going to leave. I decided to head straight to Duluth. I'd just be really early. Better early than late!  I pulled into the lot at Spirit Mountain and was the third car parked. Yeah, a bit early. Plenty of time to get ready.

    Paulette, Kathy and Amy all arrived. I couldn't believe it when I saw Donna and Scott!  They were at that first Voyageur I ran and here they were again. So awesome!  

    My plan was to take this easy..a nice training run before the 50. I had been running very well recently-lots of hill repeats out at Hyland, good interval work..I was really excited. The course was longer and rerouted from last year when I ran so I really didn't have a time goal. Just finish healthy was my mantra.

    Only it didn't go that way.

    I was running along, coming up to MILE ONE. Smiling, falling into a line with Holly in front when all of a sudden I slipped upon a wet flat rock, going down a hill. My ankle twisted and it crunched to the ground. I could feel it drop..and pop. Before I knew it I had catapulted from the trail to the side of the trail, in the woods, on my butt. I was stunned. What the hell just happened? Holly turned around immediately. Did I scream? Swear? Probably. Not sure. There she was, handing me Advil without a second passing by. I tried to get up, to put weight on my foot..but couldn't. Holy hell. I gingerly stepped further from the trail so the long train of people could pass. Dear sweet Scott grabbed my hand and hefted me up. Geeze. I couldn't put weight on it. Fuck. I have never ever twisted an ankle like this before. I've had a twist, where the pain goes from foot to head, but then I run along and all is well. This wasn't all well. 

    I told everyone thank you for your concern, as they passed, I'll be ok, I'll get to the next aid station or turn around..I'll figure it out. I hobbled along and pretty soon it didn't hurt quite so bad..pretty soon I placed weight on it and began to jog. I could still feel that it wasn't normal but it didn't become any worse. I figured as long as it wasn't worse I was A OK.

    I went through the aid stations, began to pass people who asked about my ankle.  I let them know I was doing OK, it didn't feel worse. I asked myself at each aid station 'how are you doing?' I was fine. By mile 18 I was running quite well, I felt awesome and just kept running. I had fallen to almost last so I passed many people between 18-26 miles. I counted 43 people. That pumped me up and I suppose the endorphins and the swelling that I couldn't see because I had gaiters on, allowed me to continue my run. 

    As I picked my way through Jarrow's Beach-tons of rock-boulder climbing crap and through the powerlines, I was just so relieved that I was able to get in this training run. I was so grateful that the ankle twist didn't knock me out. I asked myself "now this is only a training run, stop if this is painful..you know what it is like to not be able to run..am I ok?" I told myself yes. I'm running, if I couldn't run I would have dropped to save myself for Voyageur 50 in two weeks. Dropping out of a training run is a dud, but hurting myself just to finish was an even bigger dud. I didn't feel like I was doing that. 

    I felt great and had bundles of energy as I began the race so slow. As I crested the final portion of the trail and landed on the bike path into the finish line I was so thrilled to be racing. I was actually running fast at the end of a race.

    Once I stopped, sat down, pulled off my shoes and socks I saw what was there. A big fat foot and red lump. Ugh. I stretched out and asked for some ice. The sweet volunteer placed a bag upon my foot. Now I was nervous. What the hell? Maybe this was something more than a simple twist of the ankle. 

    I began to think about my Hokas. I had only been wearing them for a few runs-I had loved them. My feet and legs were not feeling tired at all and I was getting in some higher mileage weeks. Did that high platform cause an ankle twist, the ankle had further to drop to the ground because of that high platform. Shit. Maybe so. Ugh.  

    Stinson Evo Hoka:

    I congratulated many of my friends and cheered in more to the finish. Amy and I didn't have  a ride back to our cars so we went on the look out for someone with a nice face.  Luckily we found a guy with plenty of room who didn't mind driving us back to Duluth!

    The fear of my ankle kind of stripped away the fun factor that I was so enjoying. I left Amy and drove home. Stopping for ice along the way.

    I went in for x-rays and yes, I have a bad sprain. The x-ray also showed a distal fibular avulsion  which could be new or could be an old injury. The avulsion is treated the same way as a sprain-RICE-a boot when necessary. After a week of RICE he put me in a boot. It's very cumbersome and I couldn't wear it for very long.

    Fat Foot: 

    I am now at week 3 of RICE. The swelling is gone, I have full range of motion and began walking last week. Slow, 1 mile, then 1.5 miles. This week I was able to add running minutes. Today was a bright one-I ran 3 miles without additional swelling or pain. It's getting better. Sheesh.

    I'm afraid now, to wear the Hokas. They really freaked me out. I went shoe shopping and instead purchased the fit like a glove Solomon S-Lab Sense Ultra. Huge difference. I've only worn them once and they felt fabulous. Time will tell.

    For Sale: Stinson Evo Hoka, less than 50 Miles. Size 10! 

    So, I am healing. Superior Sawtooth is still on the calendar. My foot is no longer fat. Life is good. 

    Sunday, June 30, 2013

    Why Ultra?

    I have  had a few good weeks of running and boy does it feel good to string them together.  It feels good to have running goals to work toward again.   I stepped back for a while when I needed to and now it feels fantastic stepping back into the run.

    I ran 20 today and 16 yesterday. It has been a long time since I've run back to back longer runs and have felt so great.  

    Yesterday I drove to Lebanon Hills to meet Maria for 16 miles. As we were making our way out of the parking lot, we saw Travis was putting on his shoes near his truck.  Hi Travis!  He told me he reads my blog. I haven't updated it in a long time..so thought I would.

    We waited for Travis to get ready and headed out on the trail. It was a beautiful morning. I have been out to Lebanon a few times now this year but just never pay attention to the trail. I allow Maria to lead the way. I need to pay attention. I for sure will  .. next time!

    As we were closing out 10 with Travis I saw something up ahead on the road to the lot. A little dead something. We ran past and could smell the rot. Maria plugged her nose and went back to see what it was. A poor baby raccoon!  It looked like he was flooded right out of his nest. As we ran on we really smelled a stench. I suppose it was the rest of the brood? Sad. 

    We ran Travis back into the lot, Maria and I headed out for another 3.5 before she had put in her mileage goal. After a nice visit in the lot I went on my own to run another 2.5 around Jensen Lake. I made sure the lake was always to my left and didn't get lost once :)

    16 miles and I was feeling very very good. It was a beautiful morning. Thanks Maria and Travis!

    Today I had 20 on the schedule. I felt well recovered this morning, no aches or pains. Now, last week I was real achy. I felt tired, my feet and legs ached. I had 600 miles on the latest pair of Inov-8s so this is probably partly why I felt so achy. I also haven't been real careful with recovery. I've been winging my shorter runs for a good year and had been winging the longer ones recently as well.  It is time I snap out of it and get serious.  

    I have been watching the Hokas for a few years now. Some friends who are amazing at the 100 mile distance swear by these shoes. They state you can run right over rocks and roots. Superior 100, hello! I decided to give them a try and bit the bullet last week. I bought a pair of Hoka Stinson EVO.

    Wow!  What a difference. Sure, they are brand spanking new so that is one reason they feel so fabulous. I've only worn them this week and can't believe my feet and knees are not tired or achy at all. AT ALL.  In addition to the new shoes I was diligent this week about nutrition. Gel every 3 miles, Ultragen every post run, stretching, soaking in ice, drinking plenty of water, electrolytes, the whole nine yards.

    I went out and ran 20 on the trail and didn't feel fatigued until mile 16. Amazing. Really!  I couldn't believe it. I am feeling super excited. It's been a while. The mileage this week didn't wipe me out. After the 20  I cleaned house, buzzed to REI, grocery shopped..welcome back Running Julie!

    I find myself very excited about Voyageur Marathon, Voyageur 50 and Superior Sawtooth 100.

    A few days ago a friend asked on FaceBook 'why do you run ultras?' I'm asked this often and the reason changes for me, depending where I am in life. The reason I ultra now has changed from when I first began. It depends on the day that I am asked.  I received many messages about my reply and then questions about the journey I have taken. My response on FB was:

    I find that I yearn for goals with solid deadlines such as a race date or a mileage goal. I like to be able to measure my progress in more than one way. Pace, distance, measure of health. The outcome must be challenging with self-discipline, nutrition and scheduling a priority.

    My goal must stir a passion inside of me,  engulf me fully, 24 hours a day be on my mind. It must allow me to feel uncomfortable, to step from my comfort zone so that I will experience personal growth. It must include physical activity but provide an emotional challenge as well. It must bring me great joy and allow me to be in the moment.

    That is what ultrarunning is for me, at the moment. I just really really am loving it.

    It began with a single idea:  to lose weight and to stay sober.  It has morphed from there, as have I.

    Thursday, June 06, 2013

    Superior 50K

    Well, I did it again. Went into a race completely under-trained. Oh well...I had a blast!

    I hadn't run a race on the Superior Hiking Trail for a few years! We camped it the last few years so I have run upon its gnarly beauty-ness but haven't entered anything.

    After feeling terrible at Louisville I put Superior away, I wasn't going to do it. I just wasn't feeling it. Waaa waaa waaa  cry about it, right. Well, then lo and behold, my friend Misty set her wedding day celebration right after the race, lakeside. I certainly wasn't going to miss her wedding and I couldn't go up to Lusten for the wedding without running the race...so I decided I'd run..two weeks out.

    I quickly booked a room at Caribou..I couldn't believe that I was able to get a room on such short notice. Normally it sells out quickly. I love staying at Caribou for the 50K. We start and finish on their property.

    The matter of training..guess I better run a quick 20..that's just what I did. Egads. With snow all over the trails I ran road-flat road. Whatev...

    I was excited about the race. I hadn't run the race since John Storkamp took over as RD. It's been a while.

    Checking in on Friday I visited with the gang, caught up on all the racing news. So much fun.

    Early to bed and able to sleep in..with no driving to the start line I woke up without an alarm and mozied out to the start line.

    I just totally enjoyed myself the whole way. I took it nice and easy, took photos, visited when i was around others, reflected on memories as I came upon landscape which jogged my memory of past time that I've spent upon the trail. It was fabulous!

    I loved that the race course now takes us up up up Carlton Peak to the very top-before turning around back to the start. In the past we would turn  around before we reached the peak. It was foggy, thick and wet. It was so awesome. Just awesome.

    Such a blast..the water was high, the river crashing upon the banks, an incredible trail and adventure.

    After I finished I soaked in the hot tub to get the chill out. Legs felt great, no problems. No tummy distress. I stuck to gels and water, perfect.

    This race got the mojo flowing again. I don't know why I let a bad run in KY change my plans but hey, it happens. I feel like training again, I feel like making progress, I feel like pushing again. 

    I feel like running Superior Sawtooth 100 again. That's a good thing!

    Louisville Lovin' The Hills

    Since my mother's passing in November I notice every once in a while that I am in a pretty dark place. Not all of the time, but there are moments that I notice this.

    During one of these dark moments I reached out to my friend, Maria, to talk of winter races. As I posted previously, she was headed to Kentucky for Louisville Lovin' The Hills 50K and invited me to tag along. I was so grateful to have something to train for, to do something that I love, to lift myself from this depression..I began to cry and then responded with a big YES.

    I had a few weeks to train (gasp)! Good thing I am not my own client, I'd have to fire myself. I ran a 28 and a 22. That would have to do it. I know. Don't do this at home. It's just not enough!  

    After dropping Troy off at school on Thursday I headed for Apple Valley. Maria and I would pick up Misty and Joel and then head off for Kentucky. Road Trip!

    The weather was horrible. Maria drove all of the way to our first stop, somewhere in Indiana where we spent the night. My gosh, it was raining, snowing, blowing, I'm not sure what else. I would have never been able to drive through it. No way!

    We did stop at Legacy Chocolates in Wisconsin. Valentines Day was approaching so I spent a bundle on nummy confections.

    Rick, Wayne, Samantha, Marcus and Andrea were also members of our MN party. They reached the motel shortly after we did.

    Friday morning we headed for Kentucky. I had never been there and was looking forward to checking out a trail in a 'new to me state'. The weather was much better on day 2 of traveling and it was so awesome to see GRASS instead of SNOW! Yippee!!

    Saturday morning approached quickly. Sweet potato, protein shake..off we go to race start. 

    It was chilly. I was glad I decided to wear a long sleeve top. Later on in the race I tied my jacket around my waist, warming up a bit.  

    Man, I had a tough time. Under trained and lots of hills-more than the Superior Races, I think-had me hurting. I had moments of 'wow, this is just great to be running trail again..' but the moments of 'good lord woman, get a move-on' were frequent!  I just wasn't moving very quickly!  I was making many potty stops in the woods-I don't know what the problem was. Probably that I got behind on calories and then was trying to make them up. Not a good idea. I know better.

    I had a grand time, it was so much fun to see my friends out on the trail, enjoying what we do. I will never grow tired of running trail with friends. I was able to enjoy 8:30 on dirt trail, in the woods, off of the snow, with great people.

    As I came into the finish I was kind of shocked to see that I wasn't last and that others were still hanging around. I came into the building and there was my group of friends, having a good meal and conversation.  I feel blessed. This road trip is just what I needed!

    Next up is Superior 50K.  With a bit of training, I am hoping I feel better at the finish line.

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Building Momentum

    I had been planning to head south to the Zumbro River Bottoms to run today but with ice forecast for late morning in Rochester and early afternoon in Big Lake, I would have been driving in less that stellar conditions. I'm glad I stayed  near home. The forecasters were right on.  It rained for a while here and is now snowing. 

    There hasn't been any snow fall in the past few weeks so I thought I'd head out to Lake Maria State Park to see if the trails were still designated as ski only. I headed over yesterday morning and was SO happy to see that there hadn't been any ski tracks for a very long time. Yay!!  It was cold, -6F and a good stiff wind, very icy. Topaz had his booties and I wore my Inov-8 Roclite 312's with an additional 15 screws I put through each sole. They worked beautifully!  No slipping, power running up each and every icy hill. Loved it!  Topaz and I ran 20 miles yesterday and then headed back out today.

    Topaz has renewed youth in the winter months. He rolls around in the snow to cool down-yes-even at -6F and chows down on snow. He refuses to drink from my bottle or his bowl while running in the winter. I don't know why. I can't ask him. Well, I've tried..he hasn't given me any indication as to why it is this way. Oh yeah. He just isn't thirsty.  

    Today was a balmy 16F when we went out. Still, not a soul to be seen on the trail. My plan was 6 hours, starting to run long back to back. Yippee!!  

    No booties for Topaz but I still wore my screw shoes. Worked like a charm. We ran all of the main trails, quite a few deer trails and then spotted a trail with a blue hand made sign "winter bike trail". Nifty!  We ran through a section full of rolling hills, frozen ponds, a few new trails to us that we hadn't yet discovered. I've been running out here a few years so it's always exciting to discover new trail!

    I brought along a mixture I've been trying lately while running. Quinoa, banana, almond butter mixed with a bit of lower fat coconut milk. It sits in my stomach nicely, doesn't cause me any inflammation and gives me plenty of energy. Because I was circling back to my car I didn't have to supplement with gels and I had plenty of energy without any  stomach upset.

    Why the quinoa? During my physical a few weeks ago I learned I have high cholesterol. I shouldn't be surprised. I had been eating meat like a cavewoman along with yolks, quite a bit of fat, too, and not all good fats. When battling the herniated discs I was having problems with grains causing inflammation, which was causing me more pain. I went off the grains for a while and compensated those lost calories with meats. My discs are now feeling good, grains are no longer causing me pain. Because heart disease runs in my family (what doesn't run in my family) and Mom was using Lipitor, Dad is using Lipitor,  I am tweaking my diet.  Still whole foods, nothing processed, tweaking those whole foods.

    I have a few ultra friends who were using statins and began to experience ligament and tendon breakdown. They've since lowered their cholesterol and are statin free. Certainly can be done with diet. 

    I know, I know, there are those who say high cholesterol is just fine..not an indicator of heart disease, that BMI, blood pressure, etc.  are better indicators. Believe me, I've read my fill of information.. 310 is too high for me. My ratios are pretty poor. Dang. 

    My doc asked me to come back in 8 weeks for another fasting blood test. This little experiment will show a new improved result. Remember in 2009 the 6 month vegan experiment? My cholesterol went from 230 to 165. Big difference. 

    So, back to my run! My Garmin told me we covered 28 miles. Sweet!

    On the trail today we saw 0 human, 2 eagle, 8 deer and 21 turkey. I hope the snow falling now doesn't bring the trails back into ski condition!!

    My first back to back long runs in a long frickin' time. Sure feels good!  I hate to get too excited because man, about last year at this time I was feeling the same way. Ran Psycho Wyco 50K in February, feeling great, training for Zumbro 100 and Bam! A training run in March with one fall and it was back to disc pain and starting over again. Ah, scratch that negative thought.

    Onto Louisville Lovin' The Hills 50 in two weeks! I got this!

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Feeling Fine. No, Feeling Fabulous!

    Thankfully I can feel myself awakening and coming out of a depression. I guess I'd call it depression.  As I come out on the other side it is easier to look back and call it what it was/is.

    Without training for an ultra, with my Mom's sickness and death, I suppose depression isn't surprising.  

    After Mom's passing I found myself looking to others' passions. A family members church, my Dad's passion for Mozart and classical music. Running more. Running away, running to..who cares as long as it makes me feel better and just deal..right? Running long give that openness to myself, to dig deep, to figure it out. I am.

    A few weeks ago I reached out to a long time running friend of mine. I don't often reach out to anyone. I prefer to cover myself in my blanket of privacy and isolation. Especially when I'm feeling depressed. I reached out and was asked if I'd like to road trip to the Louisville Lovin' The Hills 50K February 9, in KY. As tears began to drop from my cheeks I new there was only one answer: yes.

    I checked in with the family and there was nothing on the calendar. Reaching out like that, stepping from my comfort zone, was the spark to lift the depression. That spark is growing.

    Two weeks ago I met a group at Lebanon Hills for an awesome 14 mile run, last week I increased my weekly mileage for the first time since JULY to 45 miles and this past Saturday I ran 22 miles at the Lebanon. It's not *only* the act of running long that has me seeing the light again. It's all that comes with that. Seeing my friends again. You see, when I'm running 5 miles with Topaz each day, I hibernate myself. I love that 5 miles to begin my day, but when I don't get out to socialize at all..it's not good. Pushing my body further. It feels wonderful. It's so good for me to push past comfort, to see what I can do. That 14 miles two weeks ago on hilly trail had me sore for 4 days!  This past 22 miles..same trail..I wasn't sore at all and was able to run another 10 yesterday. That just puts a smile on my face.  It's drinking water, eating healthy, taking time for me, being happy, taking care of me, adequate rest, smiling, scheduling my runs, enjoying the excitement of a race..the road trip planning. I've really missed it.

    As Maria and I ran our final 7 miles yesterday I was thinking about how fast and strong she has become!  She was running all the hills-waiting for me at the top-as I trudged up. I used to run  hills! I just am not in that shape anymore!  It's so inspiring to see how Maria has turned it on this past year. I can do it again, too.  

    Today it is -14F/-40WC outside. I almost ran on my treadmill until I looked at Topazs' excitement to get out and run.  We ran 8 miles and it was just fine.

    I'm getting there. Slowly but Surely! I'm getting there.

    Sunday, January 13, 2013

    What Is Up?

    Well let's see..what am I up to?  

    Last weekend I finally ventured south for a run with friends. I live a good 90 minutes from the trails my ultrarunner friends go out on. If I drive to Afton it's 90 + minutes and driving to Lebanon Hills is a good 90 minutes. The 3 hour drive cuts into my day for sure.  Not to mention how sad Topaz is if I should leave him behind.

    Sunday I met up with friends to run Lebanon Hills for 14 miles. I was surprised at the condition of the trails-they were perfect!  Snow covered but smooth-heated bathrooms with running water along the way. What a treat!

    We ran 1 - 7 mile loop, stopped to refill frozen bottles and drop gel packets, I changed into a dry pair of mittens. It was cold but not windy. I went out for another loop and was pleased that it wasn't until half way through that I was becoming tired. Lucky for me, Maria had run 27 miles the day before so she was a bit slower than her norm and I could almost keep up. 

    I really had a great time catching up with friends. It's been too long. I'm going to head to Kentucky  for a 50K in a few weeks. I didn't realize how happy it would make me to have a race to train for. Instead of running 5 miles with Topaz each day I have purpose to my run and it feels great. Yes, the months of relaxed running have been awesome..but I really enjoy having a race out there. When I first began to run 14 years ago, it was a scheduled 5K or 10K that propelled me out the door each morning. 

    Today I was planning on heading back to Lebanon but something came up later this morning. Instead I woke early, ran with Topaz on the trail for an hour and just slipped and slid all over the place. The trails here are glare ice, it's 0F and 15 mph wind and my mind was worried about falling, causing my gait to go off. Pretty soon my stabilizing muscles were screaming. We ended up coming home, me to the treadmill, Topaz right beside it. I ran another 20 miles at 9:30 pace. I wouldn't have done that if I hadn't had a race out there. 

    I listened to Ultrarunner Podcast-an interview with Jen Sheldon and another with Scott Jurek. I then watched a documentary "Running with Demon's" - gotta love modern technology!  The miles went by quickly and I felt good.

    So..2013..no Gnarly Bandit for me this year. We are holding Mom's ceremony on June 1, the date for Kettle Moraine 100 this year. I may run the 50 mile at Zumbro. I'm not sure if I want to run 6 loops for the 100 miler. I am going to run Black Hills 100 at the end of June and I want to run Superior 100 again. Just can't get enough of that one.

    For now, I'm just happy to be running :)

    Happy New Year!!

    Here we are, 2013!  

    I hope you are all enjoying 2013 so far: reaching goals, living life fully and happily, doing what it is that you want to do!

    2012 ended on a very sad note for me. My dear mom passed away the day after Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful that I was able to be with her at that point, but boy, it sure was/is difficult. 

    Ovarian cancer took her life. She fought against it for 9 years and was very successful at times. In the end, the cancer took her.  

    I'm thankful that she showed me that I needed to have a full hysterectomy so that I wouldn't have to live to fight the fight she fought. Next week it will have been two years since my hysterectomy.

    I have much to be thankful for.

    Cheers to 2013!!