Wednesday, October 05, 2016


In my last blog post I wrote about Voyageur 50 mile and the case of cellulitus that followed.  Once I began the meds the redness went away but  pain and inflammation hung on. After a week my doctor made an appointment for me to have an MRI. I learned that I had  excessive tendonitis and tibial stress reaction.

I feel like my body has been giving me clues, well, maybe red flags, for quite some time. Perhaps it might be in my best interest to cut back on ultrarunning. At first I wasn’t listening but as I meditate on this, think about this, pray on this, I realize I need to listen to my body. I am only going to have one. I need to respect it, nurture it, heal it. Ultrarunning may not be a part of that plan right now.

Amazingly, even to me, is that I feel OK with this. I am at peace.  I am embracing the fact that I am not running 75 miles a week right now. I am OK with hiking, with yoga-I am really enjoying yoga- I am biking, I am walking..yes, just walking through the woods, through my neighborhood, and it feels good. I am running with Heidi and April on Wednesday after school for 5 or 6 miles or whatever mileage they are running. I am running on Saturday with Jenny at Whitetail or at Lake Maria solo or Elm Creek .. on Sunday I’m running at Blue Hill after service, or before, or in the afternoon sometime. No real schedule. I’m going to the gym to lift a few days a week..or not..depending on how I feel. It’s pretty incredible, really. Yoga has become an every day treat.

I chose to volunteer at Superior 100 instead of run. I was nervous about the recovery from Voyageur. I did not want another case of cellulitus or any other problems.  I didn't want the long recovery. It was a difficult decision for me to make, but once I made the decision  I didn’t feel mournful or full of spite or depressed. I felt relief!  I was excited to volunteer. I marked the trail with Bonnie and Greg on Thursday, I worked Beaver Bay with  Bonnie, Nancy and Tom  and their team on Friday and with Bonnie and Maria and her team at Crosby from Friday PM to Saturday AM. It was great!  I made a difference in other’s races. It felt good to give back.

I feel like I am moving away from exercise compulsion. It is something that has consumed me for years. Do I need a title to cover the ultrarunning that I’ve been doing? No, I don’t think so. I can remember when running changed from something healthy to something that was breaking me, to something that I abused myself with.  I had difficulty in finding that line between health and obsessiveness and found that I would cross  it every so often, then cross often, then find myself on the other side, not finding my way back. It began to look much like my alcoholism.

Running began as a way to lose weight in addition to dieting. When I began to run Troy was 6 months old. I had more weight than ever to lose. I've always dieted, my whole life, until recently, when I stopped. That is another post. An important post.

Running  became a tool that I felt I needed to stay sober. I've been sober 20 years now. Running was a part of that. It was all connected. Running, weight loss, sobriety.

I’ve had a great run at ultrarunning, I’ve loved it, I’ve spent a zillion miles alone on the trail, in my own head, with Topaz, I’ve raced, I’ve been last, I’ve come back from injury, I’ve created friendships, I’ve won,  I’ve had a blast, I've felt true joy; but I no longer feel that NEED. That NEED to have it that has driven me for so long. It is such a relief that the NEED is gone. It wasn’t gone when I suffered herniated discs and didn’t run for 5 months. It wasn’t gone while I recovered from neuroma surgery . It wasn’t gone when I broke my ankle. It wasn’t gone when I fractured my tibia. It wasn’t gone when another neuroma reared it’s ugly head. It wasn’t gone when I was first diagnosed with cellulitis, excessive tendonitis and tibial stress reaction.  All I thought of during those times is that I needed to run. I couldn’t wait to recover so that I could do it all over again. But, it is gone now.  That need is gone. I am so thankful. I’m so grateful. It may come back or I just may feel like I again want to run a 100, who knows. I have IceBox on the schedule and I'll run, but the need, it's gone. For now it's gone. I feel blessed.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


On Saturday I finished my 7th Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run. Voyageur is really a special race. Even though the race grew by over 100 runners over last year, to 340 starters this year, it still has the small home-town feel as well as a family feel.  The first year I ran Voyageur in 2004, there were 85 starters!  Yes, 85. I know so many of the people who run Voyageur or who are volunteering , it is just like an ultra family reunion.

I stayed with Jean and Jody. Jody would be running her first 50 mile race! Woot!

We stayed at Black Bear Casino. It was clean, it wasn’t very noisy, but oh man, the smoke!  I hadn’t thought about the fact that Casino’s allow smoking. Ugh. Our room was ‘smoke free’ but the cigarette smoke penetrated the non smoking room.  I won’t stay there again.

Race morning was beautiful, 48F with  a promise of mid 70s with clear skies. The promise didn’t disappoint!

At the start there were so many friends!  Hugs, kisses, photos, it was like a family reunion.  I dropped a few Ziplocs off at the drop bag stations incase I might want to use gloves or spikes through the powerlines. I never did need them.

Greg and I were going to run the first few hours together. He felt he went out too fast last year and wanted to hang with me as I don’t go out to fast. Ever. I just don’t go fast period.  We ended up running the first two hours together. It was so great to hear about his trip out West to crew/pace Bob while running and finishing HardRock!  The miles went by quickly.

There were a few bunch ups along the first section out to Jay Cooke and the swinging bridge. I don’t recall this in the past. There was some mud, some water and a few rocky climbs. It was holding people up. We stood around and waited. No rush!

After running over the swinging bridge we came into Aid Station 1. Woo!  It is so much fun to run along and see friends volunteering. With so many aid stations I really have to watch the clock to make sure I’m not spending too much time visiting! There were 9 aid stations, which you hit twice which means loads of time to spend hanging about talking. I just have so much fun though and love these people so much. I can’t help myself.

Shelly was there with Greg’s bag, switching out bottles, asking what he needed. I had a full Nathan vest on so didn’t need anything. It was getting warm and humid. We moved on through and began the run toward the powerlines.

When we ran into Aid Station 3, Peterson’s, I had a Ziploc bag there. I grabbed my gloves from the bag just incase I needed them for grabbing vegetation to hold onto while climbing the powerlines, if they were muddy and slick. Rick was  pouring water and was going to fill my pack while I still wore it upon my back. All was going well until he dropped the pitcher of water. BRRR!  Down my back/butt it went. It was freezing!  We had a good laugh and off we went!

The miles were going by quickly. We were going to be heading into the powerlines soon. Guess who we run into, Andrew and Ed!  So funny. We have a little game going on this year, since Psycho Wyco.  They are in front of me, I catch them, they try to beat me to the finish. They succeeded at PW, not at Chippewa, and now at Voyageur. So much fun, really!!  I couldn’t contain my laughter and smiles.

Aid Station 4 Grand Portage, entry to the powerlines. As I was running  toward the station I spied Jean on her bike!  It was so good to see her and get a hug. She was there to support Jody and thought she should be coming in soon. She took a few photos, I emptied my gels, mixed a bottle of UCAN as was on my way.

The powerlines weren’t muddy! I didn’t need the spikes or the gloves. I was able to climb them just fine and pick my way down. Greg had some nifty poles, I might look into a pair. After we climbed the first few powerlines I asked Greg if he’d like to go in front of me as I was picking my way along more slowly and looked like he could really move. He went off ahead and I didn’t see him again until I was coming into the turnaround,  as he was about two miles ahead.  He was moving well!

As I was climbing along I ran into Casey, who I haven’t seen since Superior 100, 2006, I believe. We talked and laughed, caught up a bit. It was so good to see him again.

I felt really great. My legs felt strong, my breathing was good, no problems, I was so thankful to be able to do this race, to spend a long day in the woods. I gave thanks. I thought about how fortunate I was to be able to do this. I really love it.

Before I knew it I was out of the powerlines and running toward yet another aid station. Amazing. They were all over the place. Wearing my vest was overkill. I really only needed a handheld bottle, which is what I normally use. With Superior 100 on the horizon, a vest is a practice measure.

I began to run alone. Even with over 300 people on the trail we had spread about and I enjoyed the solo time. I was taking care of myself, consuming salt tablets, nutrition and plenty of water. I wasn’t in any pain. I was just smiling, spending time in the moment, feeling joy. I hadn’t even thought about  listening to music.

I was coming in on Fond du Lac and knew that Doug and Maria would be at this station. I couldn’t wait!  I ran in and saw all of the ducks that Todd had placed in the water. So cute!  Big blow up duckies. What a treat!  I hugged and caught up with Maria for a few minutes, congratulated her on NeverSummer 100K and then had to get a move on.  I ran through the water, petted a blow up duck and hit the trail.

Becks Road was coming up next. UMTR aids this station so I knew I’d see many friends there as well. As I came in there were many hugs and photos. Matt, Amy, Willow, Rob, so many that I am not listing because I still have ‘ultra brain’. Rob asked me to try a pickle. I did, it was really good!  I had a few cups of Coke and headed across the road. Good times!

I felt like I was running from one group of friends to another group of friends; strung together by a wonderful trail.  This was really great.

The woods were beautiful. There had been plenty of rain this summer, everything was green and lush, most of the horse holes were filled in with thick grass and running was pretty easy. I was keeping my heart rate under 140 without a problem, running about an 11-12 minute mile most of the time. I was going to be running into Skyline Parkway next and knew that I had a drop bag there. I could get rid of the spikes I had been hauling and the gloves. Shelly was going to drop my bottle here, too, so I could mix another bottle of UCAN. The UCAN, a few gels, some watermelon and Coke seemed to work well for me.

The water crossing were not real deep, but deep enough to cool my feet. I couldn’t believe I didn’t feel any blisters yet. This year I haven’t had any blisters at all.  This may be due to the Altras I’ve been wearing. I usually have at least some hot spots.

I came into Skyline and Brook and Mike said someone came through asking if anyone knew Julie Berg. Shelly had dropped my bottle for me!  How thoughtful. They handed it off to me, I dug around in my bag and prepared a bottle of UCAN. I dropped the spikes and gloves, chugged the bottle and headed out. It was so much fun to see everyone. I began to climb the road section, knowing that I’d be at the turnaround soon.

The cut-off for the turnaround at the Zoo is 7 hours. I figured I’d be there by 6. No problem. The sun was warm now, we were exposed along the road. Much of this part was a climb before heading down into the Zoo. I walked along, climbing climbing climbing. Pretty soon I was at Spirit Mountain. It is so cool to run along the face of the ski hills, looking down at the Lake Superior, looking up at the chair lifts. I enjoyed it so much. As I was running along many of my friends were running back toward me. I love the out and back on this course. I never meet anyone in the powerlines where the trail is narrow. I usually meet the bulk of the runners along the wider paths going into the turnaround. I saw so many friends, stopped to chat, hug, talk, then run along. I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt blessed. I am.

At the turnaround I spied Jean!  She asked me how I felt so good, how could I be having so much fun? I tried to explain it to her-that I just really, really enjoyed spending the day in the woods, how much I love to run, how great it is to reconnect with friends. I don’t know if I was able to explain this well enough to her. She told me she was expecting Jody soon, I was thrilled!  I filled up my bladder, emptied out a few gel packs, consumed was watermelon and told Jean I had to head out. She took a few more pictures and I began the long climb back up Spirit Mountain.

I began to notice a feeling kind of like shin splints in my left leg. That’s weird. Maybe it was the walking, climbing out from the turnaround. I haven’t had shin splints for years, I couldn’t really understand the feeling in my leg. Maybe my sock or gaitor was too tight. I haven’t been walking that much. I found that it hurt more to walk than it did to jog, so I began to jog up the hills. That helped for a while.

I dug out my iPod and figured I’d listen to some music to distract myself. Unfortunatley I think my iPod decided to die on this day. I kept messing with it but couldn’t get it to work. I have had it since 2007!  I asked a guy running along to take a look at it, turns out his last name was Berg, too!  He couldn’t get it to work, he was willing to GIVE ME HIS iPod (really!), then we tried my iPhone in airplane mode. That worked fine, so I listened to music for a while. Thank you Mr. Berg!

I popped back into Skyline, was happy to get off of the exposed road and ready to hit the trail again. I dug around in my bag, grabbed a few cliff blocks, said hello and goodbye to Brook and Mike and was on my way.

The trail to Becks Road was quiet!  I only saw a few other people during this time. It was such a beautiful day. I was running well, feeling good, feeling so thankful for this day..and then the left leg would remind me that it was not happy.

I was beginning to lose the ability to push off with my left foot. It felt stiff. I ran into Becks, had some more coke, thanked everyone and pushed on.

Maria was coming up next at Fond du Lac so I was going to ask her for advice. I’d get this gaitor off and see what was going on under it. When I looked down at my leg it looked a little bit swollen, but none more than usual after 30 know?

I came into the aid station and asked if I could sit in the chair. I never sit in the chair!  I plopped down and told Maria and Doug I had to get my gaitor off. Maria asked Troy to retrieve her BioFreeze. I told  her I felt like I had a shin splint or something. I was was flexing my foot up, feeling my shin, I told her it felt like tendonitis. She removed the gaitor, I told her to throw it away. She placed it into a baggie and said she’d wash it and maybe she’d sell it on EBAY. How much can we get for a Julie Berg gaitor she asked? It was hilarious. I sat there laughing! The BioFreeze felt good, I got up and was able to walk ok. Maria walked me out of the aid station and off I went!

The next section has some crazy climbing with ropes going up hills to grab, now I’d be going down very steeply. I knew this could be rough without any flex in my foot. I tried to keep it steady as I took teeny tiny steps down the steep downs. Ouch. Now it hurt. What the heck? Shin splints are dumb. Go away.

I moved on, still found that running felt better than walking so jogged the uphills and picked my way down them, trying not to flex my foot. I decided to take a few Advil to see if that would take the edge off. It didn’t. That kind of concerned me.

The course flattened out a bit, I was able to run pretty well in sections before climbing back through the powerlines. I knew it would be difficult with this stiff foot hanging behind me. I just couldn’t flex it. I never thought that this might be anything more than soreness from shin splints, a bit of tendonitis. I knew that shin splints go away pretty much as soon as I’m done running, I’ve had them before.

I found that I could still run downhill pretty well. There were long long downhills that I was able to run along pretty quickly, again passing Ed and Andrew. Ha!  Good times!  I really was having a blast and kind of tucked my pain away into another crevice of my mind. I just wasn’t going to think about it.

The powerlines were pretty warm now. Climbing was great, coming down was a bit difficult without flexing my foot. Oh well. It wasn’t too bad. It was getting real warm. The powerlines are exposed so I was heating up. I took a few more salt tabs.  Drank some more water, began to think about Coke  at Peterson’s!  I was only about 10 miles from the finish.

I came into Peterson’s, so excited for Coke!  I drank 2 cups, had a gel, knowing the sugar and caffeine was going to be like rocket fuel for me. It was. I was able to really run quickly on the flats, enjoying the experience.

Jay Cooke!  I couldn’t believe that I was at the final aid station. I gave out hugs and thanks, drank some more  Coke and ran across the bridge. I was really excited I was going to finish around 13 hours with this leg thing which had held me back.  The last section is the most difficult for me. Not so difficult at the beginning, miles 1-3, but difficult at the end, miles 47-50. It is rocks, roots, steep scrambles over boulders and just painful. It also feels like it goes on forever.

I kept smiling, knowing I had almost made it. I moved very slowly, all of those people that I had passed were passing me now. Even Ed and Andrew came along. I had to laugh, told them I’d see them at the finish. Now I was getting concerned, I was dragging my foot along, it was not letting me move it at all. What the hell?

I had to scooch down onto my butt to get down some of the rocky ledges, trying to hold my foot straight. My shin was pretty swollen now. What in the world. Dumb shin splints. I finally came up to the bridge, walked across the bridge and up onto the bike path. I tried to run and couldn’t even run on the bike path. Hmmmm….not good.  My foot was not having it. Another person passed me. Oh man. I grimaced and kept on.  I made the turn and could see the finish line!

Oh happy day!  I blocked out the pain and jogged toward the end. I could hear all of the bells, the Julie Bergs!, the clapping and cheering. So much fun!  I crossed the finish line in just over 13 hours. Thank goodness!!  Jean and Jody took pictures; Jody made it to 40 miles before she was pulled-her longest run!!! So awesome!! She felt good! Big hugs for all of  my friends, Greg finished in 12 something, was doing well, it was one big party. I feel so grateful to be a part of this community, it really is special.

I visited for an hour or so and decided to head for home. I have about a 2.5 hour drive. I had some cramping on the way, didn’t stop, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk on my foot, it felt stiff.

Sunday my leg was red and swollen. I hobbled around, able to make it to Church and grocery shopping. Monday I couldn’t place weight on it.  Red, swollen, intense pain. I was sure it was broken now. How could have I run on a broken leg? Did I cross that damn line again between fun and injury again? No way. It didn’t feel that bad at the time. I thought it was a shin splint. Or tendonitis. Ugh.

I went to the clinic on Monday and learned I have a thing; cellulitis, a skin infection. The MD diagnosed it right away. I told him I really thought I broke something. Nope, it’s a skin infection. He drew a line around the red swollen area and told me if it grew out of this line I needed to go to the ER. He prescribed antibiotics that I’ve been taking for three days now. The redness is gone. I still can’t walk on it, can’t place any weight upon it which seems odd to me. The swelling is going down. I’m unable to flex my foot.  I can’t help but think I have cellulitis AND a fracture. It’s very painful. The MD doesn’t believe the run had anything to do with the infection. The infection just came out while I was running. If it had come out a day earlier I wouldn’t have been running. Very strange.

Oh well, I otherwise have felt great after this race. No muscle soreness, no blisters, no other pains. Awesome recovery. I guess I was in pretty good 50 mile shape! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Capital Reef 50K

I had such an amazing time at Capital Reef!  I don’t really know where to begin.

In March I asked Steve if he’d like to go on a road trip during the summer. We haven’t traveled without the boys since before they were born, 24 years ago!  He was up for it so I began to plan. I wanted to see Glacier for sure. I also wanted to see a hoodoo.  We decided we’d travel to Montana, stay at Glacier for 4-5 days, head to California to see the Redwoods, then to Utah to see the hoodoos. As we tightened up our plans we decided California would be it’s own trip during another adventure. 

After we decided on the Minnesota to Montana to Utah adventure I decided to look for a race. Well, I found a 50K just outside the Capital Reef National Park. I hadn’t heard of Capital Reef so did some research and pretty soon we decided this was going to be our destination. Good decision!

I entered the race and then I began to look for race reports, the race description, checked out Ultrasignup. I was perplexed that Ultrasignup forecast me finishing in 9:15 hours!  My 50K time is usually 6-7 hours. Oh boy.

Soon thereafter I learned that the race is held at 11,700 feet elevation!  OK, this 9:15 hour finish time was beginning to make some sense.

Steve and I drove to packet pickup the night before the race. We learned that one of the aid stations would no longer be. An UTV lost its tire while trying to get out there.  He became stuck and would have to be towed out. They were trying to figure out how to get it out of there. The aid stations were very remote. There was no crew/pacer access except at one aid station and to get to this station you had to be UTV’d to it. Because of one less aid station this section would be 9 miles long.  I vowed to myself that I would fill my bladder at every aid station.

Steve was planning on meeting me at the aid station with UTV access. He would hike to the ranger station, they would then shuttle him to the station. Hopefully I would be able to figure out a rough estimate time that I would be out there.

A few weeks prior to the race Jenny contacted me stating they would be on vacation at the same time and that she entered the race as well!  I was so excited to learn I was going to have a running buddy on the course!

Steve and I picked up Jenny for the race start. We swung by their campground, gave kisses to the dogs, said Hi to Paul and buzzed to the start. We were ready!

This race is 100% eco friendly. The toilets at the start / at aid stations were composted, they washed and rinsed glasses at the aid stations, no paper cups, no garbage was tolerated. Fruit rinds and peels were thrown into one bin for compost, wrappers into another. Very cool.

As we were listening to the RD before starting, Jenny pointed to a woman with whiskey hanging off of her waist!  We later  learned from another runner that she had back surgery and this whiskey was to minimize the pain. Not a good idea. 

(Let's go!  Jenny, Me)

The RD said to GO so off we went!  We started climbing right from the start. The race began at 7500 feet, just out of the Utah desert up on the Aquarious Plateau. When it was 99F a few miles away in the desert, it was 60F up on the Plateau at 11,500 feet. We were so thankful we were on the plateau!

We began following a jeep type trail, through the woods, through the meadows, then up a steep, rocky, shale like mountain.  We would jog for a mile, then have to take a walk break, even if we weren’t climbing at the time. The air was THIN! I was gasping for air. Seriously.

After a mile or so we veered from the jeep trail and followed a narrow trail, straight up the mountain. It was steep. We just plugged on, trying to keep up a conversation was difficult.  Jenny kept on pointing out bear scat. It freaked me out. We talked about what we would do if we came upon a bear. This was a few weeks after the bear attacked a man at Glacier. We had just left Glacier.

As we were moving up this gargantuan mountain, Jenny stopped. She looked off to our right and had a look of concern on her face. I was immediately concerned. I knew it was a fricken bear. We saw all of this dark fur. Upon further assessment, we realized it was a group of 4 very, very large cows, staring down at us.  Oh thank god!  There were cow all over the place, free range Angus cattle. I was still freaked out.

We moved along, taking pictures as we went. We weren’t in any great rush. We were doing what we could, moving forward, taking photos along the way.  This was an adventure, a training run, laid back fun day. As we found a great photo op with beautiful views, a woman came upon us. She commented that we seemed to have a lot of fun while climbing the steep mountain. She said she could hear us laughing and she thought we’d be fun to hang along with.  Her name was Virginia, from Denver,  and she hung with us to the finish! We made some new awesome friends along the way.  

 (Jenny climbing near the cow sighting)

 (We just met Virginia, she took this pic)

The first aid station was only 2.5 miles out. We ran in and learned that we were number 44 and 45! There were only 55 runners or so. This was surprising, that we were nearly last. We were also the only Midwesterners. This did make a difference. I used their bug spray, the mosquitoes were bad at this point, but I don’t think I noticed them after. Guess the spray worked!  I had a piece of watermelon, filled up my bladder and we moved on, across the meadow.

We ran through the grass, surrounded by alpine lakes, boulders and the remains of big dead animals. Bones, fur…it made me wonder..

(Dead stuff)

As we entered a mountain of boulders, we couldn’t see a trail, just rock. We climbed and climbed. The views were amazing. The air wasn’t. Gasp.

 (Boulder Trail. I'm picking my way down)

Our conversation was varied. I shared some recent personal ongoings which caused much laughter. We shared our ailments. We passed around around lip balm, foot potion, salt tabs. We shared a wonderful time and a fabulous race.

This is the most technical race I have ever run. Yes, much more technical than Superior. Between the logs, rocks, roots, it was amazing. The plateau, the alpine lakes, the mountain meadow, this was truly sensory overload.

The Great Western trail up on the plateau is not very frequently traveled. The trail was difficult to pick up a times. We could see flags every so often up in the distance, showing the way, although we couldn’t see a trail.

I was looking forward to the third aid station. I knew that Steve was going to try to get up there. He would have to hike a few miles, then ride an UTV to the station. As I was running in, sure enough, there he was. He had a good ride. Was cheerful, enjoying his day. Seeing him there was a big lift.

(Steve took this at the aid station)

We left him and circled around the alpine lake, dotted with a few kayakers. As we ran along Arnulfo Quimare of Born to Run passed us.

A long section was coming up. We knew that there would be no aid for 9 miles. We filled up and moved out. At one point we saw again saw something black and still ahead. I made no bones about it, I’d turn around and go back to the aid station, a few miles prior, before I’d chance running into a bear.  I asked if I should blow the whistle on my pack. Yes, yes, Virginia and Jenny responded. I blew, nothing moved. Virginia began to creep ahead. Eventually she realized it was a piece of black burned out tree or something. We laughed and moved on.

We were climbing through a dense forest. There was no trail that we could see, only ribbons, telling us where we should go. It was crazy. Pretty soon we came upon a rose bush field-deep rose fragrance, prickly bushes. They had grown in after a burn. I’ve never seen so many roses.

 (Alpine lakes, streams, waterfalls, amazing views)

 (Eco friendly aid stations)

Another woman joined our merry band. Lori was from Phoenix, she ran with us to the finish.

We moved along and came off of the plateau. We climbed down from 11,5000 feet to 9000. I could breath more easily. We came into a section of river. There was a man who ran out of water and was filling his bottle from the river. I was thankful I still had at least half of my pack full. I was carrying an 80 ounce bladder.  It was getting HOT as we came off of the plateau. The high in Torrey was 99F. Ugh. We had been running in probably 65-70F on the plateau all day. Pretty awesome.

Eventually the girls all ran out of water. My bladder was larger than theirs so I still had some available. I  shared my water with them, asked if they needed any gels or blocks. I had a ton. Jenny shared her chap stick. Virginia shared more sunscreen.  We were warm and burning.

We came into the aid station. Oh, happy day!  The volunteers were excited to see us, enthusiastic and willing to care for us.  I drank a couple glasses of coke, had some watermelon and just wanted to get out of there and on my way. I and Laurie headed off while Jenny and Virginia took care of their needs.

The elevation continued downward. We were able to see some of the red rocks of the canyon in the distance. We were closing in on the finish.

What a most excellent day!  To be able to run in such an environment, to be strong and healthy, to run with old friends and to meet new friends, what a blessing! I feel so lucky.

( On the jeep path.  Lori, Jenny and Virginia. Closing in on the finish. We can see the canyon, the red rocks, feel the heat. It's coming.)

Jenny and Virginia caught up, we all continued through the red rock, the hot canyon, anxious to see the paved road which would signal we were a mile out from the finish.  We were running down, down, down a jeep type  path which was red sand. The big red cliffs and buttes were all around us. We were out of the plateau and into the hot hot canyon area. Jenny was crossing over to the side of the path in front of me, she jumped over a little branch. I decided to do the same. I didn’t clear the branch!  Boom!  I fell onto my front, sprawled out and banged the side of my head..on the sand. This was the second time that I had fallen today. Both times I fell upon sand. Crazy.

There it was!  We began to run faster, down the trail, across the road, up the driveway to the Resort. Whew!  What an adventure!! 10:43 hours of adventure!!  Wow!

The finish line was laid back, Jenny’s family was able to make it, Steve was there. We weren’t hungry. We hugged, congratulated Virginia and Lori, and headed back to end the day.  I had no aches, no pains, no blisters, no problems. I was in my happy place. I had so much fun. I was really thankful to have run the whole race with Jenny and to have met Virginia and Lori along the course. Old friends and new. 

This race was very challenging, but oh so much fun!  Matt Gunn, the Race Director was really great. The  volunteers were  amazing. I'd run this again. I'd like to run more of  Matt's races. For finishing we received a Tshirt, hat and hand made mug.

What an amazing day. I’m still smiling!  Next up: Voyager 50 Mile.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Metabolic Assessment

I wanted to share the results / process of the metabolic assessment that I had today.

As I eluded to earlier, last February I began to enter races for this year. I had a long time off from running after neuroma surgery and it just really took a long time for me to be able to run again. 8 months or something dumb like that. Anyhow, that is a long time.  

When I was able to finally run again, I wanted to run again withOUT pain, withOUT beating myself up. I am also so done with restriction and being hungry all of the time. For years. I just want to run, to feel great, to eat!

I began to research different training methods when I again came across Maffetone low heart rate training. I remembered that my Dad used Phil Maffetone methods as he trained for Grandma's Marathon in 2000. We ran together and it was so awesome!   I then saw that  my friend, Tracy Hoeg, was training clients using Phil's methods. In February I reached out to her and she was willing to take me on.  At first, in order to keep my heart rate at 140 or under, I had to WALK. I'd run a few steps, and walk. It was disheartening, going so slowly, but it wasn't beating me up, either. Every 3-4 weeks  Tracy had me run a 10 mile MAF test. At first my MAF miles were in the 12-13 minute mile area. I was discouraged. I had to walk some of each mile to keep my heart rate down.  As time went one, I would see great improvement. Pretty soon I was taking off 1:30 each mile, no walk breaks and feeling really good. I couldn't believe that I could run 10 miles, on track, without any ankle pain, without any joint soreness. I had also at this time, added in fats, due to Tracy's and Phil's recommendation.

I'm excited to preform another 10 mile MAF test next Thursday. 

So today I had an Active and Rest Metabolic Assessment at LifeTime Fitness, Chanhassen. A friend of mine, Heather, is a trainer there and preforms this test. I was so curious to see how my fat burning has increased. I knew that I was doing pretty well, because at Grandma's last Saturday I ran the whole race at 140 HR, had NO issues, it was hot, I did it on one bottle of UCAN. Incredible. I'm the one who needed one gel every 30 minutes. 

I had to go into the test fasted. No breakfast, no coffee!  I did fine without the breakfast but the coffee was tough! I stopped at Caribou on the way back from the test.

Heather hooked me up to a machine, attached a mask and the computer would read the data from my breathing. First was a rested assessment. I sat in a chair, closed my eyes and relaxed for 20 minutes. I learned that I now burn a lot of fat at rest. 96% of my burn is   from fat while at rest.

We then went to the treadmill. After a warm up she had me run at 5.5 mph, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5 to watch my fat/sugar burn and define my heart rate zones. I burn most of my fat at below 147 HR.

I learned that I should eat more calories. My body burns 2180 just breathing. I burn 2834 going through life, without my workout.

I learned that my VO2 score is 48.7

My heart rate zones/burn
It was very informative and I'm glad that I completed the testing. Heather was very thorough and gave me so much data. There is more information that I still have to wade through. Heather really impressed upon me  that I need to eat more food. I have restricted for so many years that this is kind of scary to me but I have made progress. I know that science shows I need to eat more. I'll have another assessment in a few months. It will be fun to compare the data.

In other news, Steve and I are heading out for a drive vacation out west next month. We'll hit Glacier National Park to camp and hike for a few days and then south to Utah, where I've entered Capital Reef 50K. It begins at 7000feet elevation and much of the race is at 11000feet elevation. It ought to be a great trip, we are looking forward to it!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Grandma's Marathon


Late last year when I read that Grandma’s Marathon would be celebrating its 40th Anniversary I knew that I had to enter the event. I had run 49 marathons; Grandma’s had been my first-back in 1998 and would be my 50th marathon. I have run 11 Grandma’s Marathons.

With a few 50Ks earlier this year, Psyco Wyco in February and Chippewa in April, I wasn’t too concerned about training for a marathon. I and my friends, Heidi and April, began to run each Tuesday after school, on pavement, so I was getting my legs used to the asphalt. I ran a few 20s and a 30 on asphalt and felt good. So good, in fact, that I decided to enter FANS 24 hour run. I changed my mind, a week before FANS, as I was feeling some neuroma pain in my ‘good’ foot. I knew my foot would hold up for a marathon on asphalt but rethought the 24 hour business.

Heidi has relatives who live exactly on Mile 22 of the course, on London Road, on Lake Superior, right at the base of Lemon Drop hill. What a location !  Her relatives opened their home to 16 of us. Seriously. We weren’t even cramped!!  They were the most hospitable, welcoming, warm people I have probably ever met.

Friday 4 of us rode together and rolled into the Expo about 4. I actually ran into people that I knew just by chance. It was a blast. I messaged Kim and we met up for a quick hello. So much fun to see good old friends.  

We made our way to our hosts’ home for a dinner they prepared. Spaghetti, meat  sauce, various salads, fruit, breads, a real banquet.  We walked around the property, checked out the lake, the beautiful home and the lot. I was first to bed, at 830PM.  That’s me!

At 430 I awoke, without an alarm, this is my regular wake time. I dressed and got myself ready for the day. I went up hoping for coffee and of course, our hosts had coffee brewing. Incredible.

The others began to filter into the beautiful 4 season sun room. We had breakfast and checked out the weather. A gorgeous sunrise was showing itself over Lake Superior, right in the back yard. It was amazing. The forecast had called for rain/thunderstorms but that was not going to happen today. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be a black flag excessive heat warning, as it was!

For breakfast I had a sweet potato, avocado, coconut manna bowl. I sprinkled half a scoop of UCAN over it. Delish. My new pre race/long run meal for days I have time for digestion.

Since February I have been training using a low heart rate-140 (Phil Maffetone) or below-and have been adding more fats to my diet, in an effort to be able to burn more fat while running, not being so dependant upon gels. This gel every 30 minutes has become tiresome. (Superior 100) Also, the 140 HR allows a speedy recovery for me. Tracy  has been helping me to train in this manner the past 4 months. I’m loving it!

We were only down the hill from The Edgewater, where the busses were delivering runners to the start. We grabbed all of our stuff and were off. We rode the busses to the start and were ready to rock and roll!

Riding the bus to the start I couldn’t help but recall previous Grandma’s Marathons that I had run. My first. The one I ran with Dad. My family waiting on London Road. All of the friends I have met. So many memories.

As I was walking to the bag drop off I ran into so many people that I know from running. I wasn’t looking for anyone, but yet I saw Kelly, Jim, Shelly, Doug, it was crazy. 10,000 people and again I am running into others that I know.

I removed my sleeves, it was already warm, it was going to be a toasty day. There wasn’t a breeze, either.

The herd began to move toward the starting line, here it was, my 50th marathon!

I kept my heart rate at 140 or below the whole way. The heat caused it to rise a few times. I noticed the black flag warning of excessive heat at about mile 10. I then drank, grabbed a sponge at the aid stations and walked until it came back down to 140. Only a few steps, and back down it went. I wasn’t going to push it.

During the race I used a scoop of UCAN at mile 18, I had a strawberry and orange slice during the race that was handed out.

At about mile 11 I was running along and pretty soon Scott was at my side!  What a nice surprise!  He and Greg were running together. We gabbed for a while and then they were running too fast.; I looked at my HRM and told them to have a good race, I was staying at 140. That was my plan.

At mile 19 I began to look for Kim, it was so great to see her and Barry. Hugs. I was ready to move on. At mile 22 I stopped to say hello to our hosts, then up the hill I climbed, onto the finish line.

I was getting warm. It was toasty. I saw the 445 pace time pass me, I was ok with that. My first marathon and slowest marathon was 459. I felt that this 50th marathon would probably be about the same. I was happy with that. I only wanted to finish healthy. My feet didn’t hurt at all, nothing hurt. I was in a good place, albeit it a bit warm.

I thought about the 18 years that have passed since I first ran this marathon. I thought about my family, the friends that I have made, the sobriety I have kept, all of the lift changes…running has been a constant.

I am truly blessed. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. 4:50.  I felt fantastic! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Chippewa 50K

I just had the best time yesterday!  I went to WI to run the Chippewa 50K. I have only run the race one other time, in 2011. Wow, time flies!!

My Dad was coming through Big Lake from spending winter in TX so I was going to make a quick trip. Leave at 4 AM, arrive at 7 AM, Run 8-2, hang out for thirty minutes and head home. Quick.

As I was driving to WI the sun began to rise. Ah, all of the pinks, blues, purples. Truly beautiful!  My drive was uneventful…just long.

I pulled into the race site and was directed to a spot of grass straddling the parking lot. I felt odd parking there but was told in no uncertain terms that this is where I was to park. OK then. I placed a piece of paper on my dashboard stating “THEY TOLD ME TO PARK HERE”

As I picked up my race number I said hello to so many friends, it was like old home week. We were going to have a blast.

The race meanders through such beautiful country, it goes past lakes, ponds, over lakes via boardwalk and deep into the woods. Just gorgeous.

The day!  It was perfect. Sunny. We began at about 40F and I finished almost 7 hours later at 65F. Very sweet.

I finished 20 minutes faster than when I ran in 2011. 

The photos that were taken pretty much sum how I felt!  I don’t need words to describe. I smiled every step of the way. I felt fantastic. I am a lucky woman.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Herren Project

In October of last year I became a member of The Herren Project RUNS.  I learned of The Herren Project through a friend of mine, Pam Rickard.  Pam is the organizer of the fundraising and running campaign. She has also been sober for 10 years. 

(Please click on the link above for information regarding The Herren Project)

I have dedicated  my 2016 running season to raising funds for The Herren Project.

It’s interesting: through running, especially ultrarunning, I have met so many other addicts. We share more than one common bond.  We share joy in sobriety. Oh, such joy.

I have this strong nudging inside of me, drawing me toward this project where I can combine my sobriety, faith and running.  I want to help others who are struggling with addiction.  At times it is difficult when I am nudged out of my comfort zone. Talking about my faith, addiction and running doesn’t always come easy…stepping out isn’t something that comes naturally for me.  I know that when I am led out of my comfort zone the end result is always joy, gratitude and grace. Always.

A few days ago I realized that I will celebrate a number of milestones on September 9. I will have been sober for 20 years.  TWENTY YEARS!! I will be finishing my 4th Superior 100 finish and my 20th 100 mile finish. Great cause for celebration!

OK, The Herren Project. I’ll tell you about it.

  The Herren Project provides:

  • Treatment Navigation (for individuals and families...many of the families we've helped are actually running with us!)
  • Mentoring and Recovery Coaching after treatment is completed; scholarships to clinics and camps for kids
  • Preventative Education, and support of more than 400 student-led Project Purple sites across the country.
  • Scholarships when a need is demonstrated. assistance to many in taking the first steps toward recovery and a life of sobriety through treatment navigation, educational programs and mentoring resources.

I created one post on  my FaceBook page  a few months ago about The Herren Project and received $420 in donations!! I thank you so very,  very much. YOU can donate to this project via my link, here:

We can make a difference together!  I just know it.Thank you.