Friday, December 31, 2010

From NR: Happy 2011!

Okay. Take three. Two times I've had this post half written and both times, the internet ate it. I've finally learned and am typing it where it won't get lost! Ha!

So, step one is to go over the goals I shared for 2010:
1) Make it strong through the February blahs. - Well, I wasn't actually able to run at that point so that goal is sort of an undetermined result, huh?
2) Consistently log my runs ALL YEAR even if it's just jotting down the mileage and nothing else. - Oh, man. Fail with a capital 'F'! I just don't understand why this is so difficult for me. It doesn't take that long just to jot down mileage. I did make it all the way to July this year, though, which is better than I have done recently.
3) Break 3:30 in a marathon, hopefully Eau Claire. Eau Claire didn't happen because of my knee and the Grandma's curse continued. For Whistlestop, I didn't even try for 3:30 and I didn't make my revised 3:35 goal. In my defense, though, that was due to my knee.
4) Keep my mileage up all year. - I feel as though I succeeded with this. At least, when I was ABLE to run . . . I'm doing long runs on the weekend as opposed to my usual winter routine of not doing much at all.
5) Run my first ultra (probably the Wild Duluth 50K). - Success!!
6) Stay injury free. - Boy, I didn't even last a week on this goal! And then the stupid injury came back in the fall. I've decided that my job was a lot to blame with this, though since I can really notice it when I go back even for my short night shitfts.
7) Keep running fun for myself and those running with me . I definitely succeed on this. At least, for me. I hope I was fun for those around me, too :)

Okay, so overall, not a good percentage looking at that list . . . A 3 in 7 success rate. Well, something to improve upon, right? I still feel as though I had a pretty great running year:
~ Getting injured got me back into lifting regularly. I've fallen out a bit since Wild Duluth and trying to work out my new job schedule but I'm working that back out.
~ It also forced me to learn to swim much better and makes me want to do it more.
~ While the Grandma's curse continued, it got better. So Grandma's 2011 will be even better!
~ I ran my faster times ever on many of the NMTC series races.
~ I ran my first ultra and finished strong and happy.
~ I three-peated at Boulderdash!
~ I still ran 3 marathons and one ultra when the most I've ever done is 2 marathons. And technically, a 'year' is still going so I might have another ultra under my belt before that year comes back around with Grandma's.
~ I've discovered trail running even more, come to love it even more and also ran my first trail marathon.
~ I had lots of fun times out on runs with my friends!
~ I did 11 total races with 4 at marathon distance or longer! Plus the spring and fall NMTC races, so I guess that adds 16 (well, 15 since Rough Rider didn't really count) for a total of 26! I'll add up race mileage soon and let you know.

So! It is now 2011! A whole new year is spread before us, etc, etc . . . I've been thinking a lot about what I want my running year this year to look like and while I don't have a full plan yet, I have a good start on it. First off is the biggie that I seem ready to announce: I'm planning on breaking my tradition of thinking about racing something but then waiting a year before actually doing it - I want to run my first 50 mile! And I think I've decided on Voyageur. The potential for nasty weather is still pretty scary, though. (Hell, the whole idea is pretty scary if I think about it too much.) Nasty weather, as in hot. And humid. And other similar conditions that my body is not a big fan of. But. It's super close, it's trail I know and love, there'll be tons of friends on the course or volunteering and it'll be easier to get someone to crew for me then for the fall 50 Mile. It's the end of July so I'll have time to acclimate to heat/humidity/grossness. And it's the 30th anniversary! So right now, that's my big goal for the year. But! It's something I need to make sure I'm training for from here on out. If my training derails in a major way for any reason, then it's something that I shouldn't be doing. So it's a goal but a "make sure I'm fully prepared first' goal.

This means I really feel as though I should be doing another ultra before I do a 50 mile. Or at least a spring marathon. So I could look into Eau Claire again in early May. Or Green Bay in mid-May. But right now I'm taking a look at the Chippewa Moraine 50K. It's April 23 and only a couple hours away. I really need to get more used to eating and would feel more comfortable doing Voyageur if I did another 50K doing better with the stomach. So - if you've run Chippewa Moraine, tell me about it! What did you like? What did you not like? What kind of trails are they? The other option is the Superior Trail 50K which I think I'd rather do instead of Chippewa simply because I love the SHT and the Spring races have been on my list for a while. The weekend has been moved off of fishing opener which would be fabulous for me any other year but this year, of course, it causes another conflict! This shouldn't surprised me as it's how my life tends to work. I'm heading out to Wyoming to see my cousin graduate high school. However, I'm not sure I'll be able to afford the time off from my job as I'm unsure of what my vacation is going to look like. It's not something I'm okay with skipping unless I absolutely can't get the vacation time but if it comes to that, then I'd like to do the Superior 50K.

And then there's Grandma's . . . I have yet to register and really should. I'd like to do one more go at it and then maybe leave it alone for a little while. It's so hard to not want to do it, though. It's my first one, I still want revenge on it, it's right in town, it's pretty and it's the 35th year. Plus, I feel as though I should do a normal road marathon this year and with Wild Duluth and Whistlestop on the same day, that's not looking promising otherwise. But a friend of mine has scheduled her wedding that day! Again, am I really surprised by a conflict? The problem here is definitely not that I'm racing too much :) Provided it's the right time of day, though, I'm thinking I should be able to make both so I'm making that my plan right now :)

The big thing it looks like I won't be able to do is the Brewhouse Triathlon. I've been the running part of a team the last two years and we all decided to do it on our own for the first time this year. But it's the weekend after Voyageur and this just doesn't strike me as a very good idea. Happily, it turns out that one of the other two has an awesome climbing trip scheduled for then and the other teammie is in grad school so I was thinking she might have to bail anyway. So perhaps another triathlon. But that's not super high on my list right now.

So that's my plan for the year as it stands now. I think I'll write out some specific goals, too, like I did last year, just so I have something to go back over since that's kind of fun. Also - I can't believe I didn't do a single road 5K all year, so I'll have to remedy that this year, too.

May everyone's 2011 be filled with many happy miles and no injuries!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From NR: A normal schedule? What?

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? I've had a lot going on but none of that has been racing and much of this time has been take it easy in running time so there's not too much to report on. I found a new job (huzzah!!) and am now working two jobs plus my computer is on the fritz so I'm generally only online using Kyle's computer. All of which adds up to very little time for blog writing.

So the big thing I'm working on right now is figuring out how to fit running and lifting and swimming into a 'normal' schedule. I've been so spoiled in some ways with a retail schedule - it's nice to be able to get things done during the day if I don't start until later or to get off early if I start early and be able to run well before dinnertime. Now I'm going to have to be waking up early to do my things before work or run after work and before dinner. So I've also been working on making healthy snacks to bring with me to work so I CAN run after work without being starving before I even head out the door. My current favorite Wasa Crip 'n Light crackers with cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

So after Wild Duluth, I took it easy for a while. Instead of taking a couple of weeks completely off, though, I took a few weeks easy. I only ran on Wednesday with friends and raced Sundays for the rest of the NMTC series. My body recovered from the 50K pretty quickly, I think, so that was great. Although, having to race a 5K for the last NMTC race was sure a shock to the system! The most exciting news since Wild Duluth, though - I won the NMTC fall trail series! It's super exciting, even if it feels like I only won because faster people didn't consistently show up. But hey, like my coach told me back in high school when I won the mile in track and said it was only because a couple of my teammates ran different events - you can only race who shows up. So I won a free pair of shoes from Austin-Jarrow, which is pretty awesome. I decided on a neutral Saucony on the idea of stepping down the amount of stability that I "need" my shoe to provide but not jumping into training in racing flats. So we'll see how those go when it's time to change my shoes.

So now I'm done with the easy time and it's time to start looking ahead to next year. Whatever it is that next year holds :) My problem right now is deciding on what it is I want to focus on (what? My problem rests on decisions? What a shock!) and what I want my race schedule for next year to look like. Regardless, it's time to start working on bringing my mileage back up and getting a good winter base down. It's also time to get back to lifting regularity since part of my down time was also a break from lifting. Luckily, I love winter running! Most of the time.

Racing is done for the year. I was going to be on a team doing the Key West Ragnar, but then I got an extremely expensive vet bill so that plan got nixed. I'm bummed to miss it because I LOVE Ragnars but I also had this weird sense of doom about the race (in terms of my knee exploding) so I'm also a tiny bit relieved. It'll be nice to be able to take the winter to base build rather than worry about a 30-36 mile (divided into three legs, but still) race in January. Hopefully I'll be able to do a Ragnar later in 2011, then.

I was also going to do the Bridge to Peace 5K but it got moved from it's December time to the beginning of November on the same day as the High School State Cross Country meet and that takes precedence! I've been working the meet the last few years and love it - especially when I get to help out at the finish line. This year marked 10 years since my team won (I can't believe it's been that long!! My ten year high school reunion is this coming summer!) and I STILL get nervous once I make the turn from the highway towards St. Olaf on my way there. State was such a big part of my life for so many years, that it's nice to be able to go back and help out. Though, I'm always interested in the vast gap in numbers of boys who collapse at the finish vs girls who collapse. It's always more girls by a large number. Even now that it's chip timed and you aren't forced to stand in a chute in finishing order until someone ripped the tag from your race number. I don't think I ever collapsed at the end of a cross country race (someone can correct me if I'm wrong) though I did almost black out after my last cross country race ever (in college). Anyway, there was one girl who looked so devastated when she crossed the finish line that I had to go and give her a hug and help her through the finish area. I was happy to see an Esko girl when her race and a Grand Rapids girl raced and finished well, though not as well as she wanted. Luckily, she's not a senior so she has more State in her future.

I might head to the Cities for a winter race this year, but I'm not sure which one. Any thoughts? The Yukon Days races get an awesome hooded sweatshirt! And then there's the St Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon. Or I should head to the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run since I've always wanted to do that. It's super excited to have weekends free now, let me tell you!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pool ramblings

It feels like it's been forever since I've been in the pool. Between taper/race/recover/race/recover and new job switch over, I don't know if I've been there the whole month of October. So I finally got my ass back in the pool yesterday, expecting it to be super crowded as I've never been there after a 'normal' work day is getting over with. Apparently Friday at 5ish is the best time to go - there was practically no one there! I decided ahead of time to do a mile to get back into it and not let myself cut it short.

I tried to let my brain wander more the way it can running. The only problem is that it's super hard to both let your brain wander and keep accurate track of the number of laps you're swimming. I'm pretty sure I did more than a mile (maybe a lot more) because every time I wasn't sure if I was doing 14 or 16, I would say I was on 14 - if I can't keep track that I have to swim more! So I'll have to work on that, too. Maybe it'll be easier if I do lap counts instead of length counts. It's like thinking about the distance you're running by keeping track of how many blocks you've gone. Ugh. Which is why I'm trying to let my mind wander or focus on form rather than think always about lap count. It also seems that when I don't super focus on lap count then my body can get into a 'stride' better, too. Which would also be easier if my pool weren't so damn short . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

From NR: My First Ultra!

My first ultra! Everything they said it would be all in one little race!

My first response when people ask about it? BRUTAL. In ALL CAPS! But! I quickly follow with how I finished strong and happy and I never said 'never again' at any point.

The day started off innocently enough. I'd been stressing about what to wear (like always, I'm getting better but I swear I can never dress myself for running) and settled on half-tights even though I'd thought I'd get too warm (and I did a couple times but I'm super glad I wore them). I figured I could always just sport bra it if I got too got and then I also packed a pair of shorts just in a drop bag just in case I got REALLY hot and felt like changing quick, but the most I did was take off the tank top I had under my Icebreaker shirt.

Headed down to Canal Park and onto the bus. Of course, with the sudden influx of runners (something like 20 runners registered the night before and morning of!), there wasn't exactly room for everyone. Time to pack us in three to a seat but luckily ultra runners aren't exactly obese so it worked just fine. Now, Highway 35 is still under construction so the bus wasn't allowed on it which meant side roads only for us. I generally hate driving a course before running it and it seemed to take forever to get there but it wasn't as though we were driving the same course we'd be running, so it wasn't really so bad, it just felt like we were sitting on the bus for ages. We got there late but Andy (the race director) gave us extra time so we'd all have time to hit the bathrooms and get our drop bags in the right boxes before starting.

Gather at the start line, listen to last minute course descriptions that no one will remember and we're off! Having never done a 50K before, it was hard to know how to pace. My thought at the Half Voyageur was to run strong while I felt strong so that's what I went for, trying to run strong but trying to hold back. It didn't feel too fast and I knew this section was nice and runnable so I took my time figuring a pace out, which seemed to be hopscotching with Tracy and Catherine for a while and running just behind Marcus.

Picture by Zach Pierce! Grand Portage aid station - I don't know why I look so tired already. I certainly didn't feel that way.

Then I fell in with Tracy and Catherine for a bit and that was quite lovely. One of the times they passed me, I just hung out at their pace. Turns out Catherine was gunning for a 6 hour finish and that's what I figured would be reasonable for me so I ran along with them for a while until it felt too fast. There seemed to be something I managed to forget for those first 10 miles: Whistlestop. Last weekend. I'm plugging along quite nicely when just after Ely's Peak my legs said "Wait. We're doing what? But we just ran a marathon last weekend! What were you doing running 6 hour pace??" See, the 6 hour rough goal was rather arbitrarily reached by looking at how two of my friends ran last year and figuring I'd be somewhere in-between their times. It also was a mark that did not take running a marathon the weekend before into consideration. Oops.

So, Ely's Peak. The only part of the course that I'd never done before the race. Surprise! Actually, as I headed up it, I thought several times of Lisa who was doing her first 100K so she'd have to go down Ely's Peak, run 20 more miles and then go back up. Now, Lisa is significantly shorter than I am and there were several rocks on the way up Ely's Peak that are past or at Lisa's waist so that she would need to heft herself up and down. So I was thankful that I was tall :)

I slowed down after Ely's Peak, stopped to pee, and later almost fell off a boardwalk. Hm. Not much longer after that I took a digger and I'm not too sure what it was that tripped me up. There was a small tree in front of me that I planned to use to stop myself but I didn't make it that far and ended up looking at it from the ground. Of course, I landed on my left side and ripped up some stuff that had finally been healing from my fall at Hawk Ridge. It wasn't so bad, though and I got right back up and continued on my way with barely an 'ouch.' Turns out I manged to sort of burn my left shoulder, though - a very strange mark that left the next few days.

The Magney/Snively aid station was next and after eyeing up their table while the awesome volunteers filled my water, I decided that they only thing that looked good was an orange slice. After grabbing the extra gels from my drop bag, I continued my way up Skyline. Dropping down to the Spirit Mt aid station was the first time I ignored my watch timer - I had decided that the best way to make sure I was eating on time was to set my timer to go off every 45 minutes since I manged to muss up my adding during the Half Voyageur. Well, this time my timer went off and I just didn't want to eat. Which I said out loud. I did a lot of talking out loud to myself during this race. So I let myself go 10 more minutes and then forced one down.

Next up - the Spirit Mountain aid station. I decided ahead of time that juice sounded good but nothing solid looked all that appetizing - my stomach was starting to get just unsettled enough to not want anything. This aid station was manned by Connie's husband and kids, which was nice. They have made some fabulous hot apple cider and I downed almost a full cup of it before thinking maybe that wasn't such a hot idea for my stomach. Ah well, it was super tasty and just what I wanted. I was offered mashed potatoes a couple times but that really didn't sound good so off I went.

Here's where my stomach really started being unhappy. I made it up the stairs okay (all 131 of them!) and after that comes one of my favorite spots on the trail so I tried to let my legs stretch out. And then my stomach wanted to stretch out so to the side of the trail I went and didn't quite throw up. A nice guy went by me here and checked and double checked ("are you sure?") if I was okay. I started slowly putzing along the trail. Coming down to the zoo, where I really love to stretch it out but not this time, Randy caught up to me and asked if I need anything, insisting he had things to spare. I said I was fine, it was just my stomach feeling nauseous. Well in that case, he said, you need an e-cap. Now, I'd heard about these things but never actually tried one. I figured I might as well. Hmmm. It's a fricking horse pill! Shockingly, I had no trouble swallowing it. It seemed to work instantly - fabulous! I hung out with Randy for a bit - turns out it took him 15 years to run another 50K after his first one. He also mentioned that every time he runs something big right after a marathon, it seems that his legs give up suddenly rather than gradually. Hm. Well, I seem to be okay. Not great but okay so maybe my legs are going the gradual route, I'm sure I won't get much worse than I am here. Ah, silly Sam.

Sadly, the e-cap doesn't seem to last very long and I let Randy go. I start feeling really tired/sleepy here, too and think about how this would be a big problem with running a 100 miler (not that I'm actually considering one right now) in that I'd have to stay up all night and I'm not so good with little sleep.

Right around there is where I go downhill real quick like. My legs are shot. I cross Cody St and slowly walk my way up the road wondering why no-one was passing me. All I wanted to do was lie down. I pictured Liz running along (I don't know why it was Liz, but I thought this a few times and it was always Liz that I pictured finding me) and finding me laying down on the side of the trail. Or heck, right in the middle of the trail looked fine and dandy too. I stopped and dipped my hands into a couple of creeks as I crossed over them and that felt nice. I wanted to sit down but managed to convince myself that at least walking slowly was moving forward and sitting was most distinctly NOT moving forward.

Coming up to Highland/Getchell I was in really bad shape. I didn't think there was any way I could keep going for 10 more miles AFTER Highland. My legs just couldn't do it. I was 98% sure I wasn't going to finish. Just one problem - I didn't want to not finish. I actually said (okay, definitely whined - think Luke Skywalker and Toshi Station) out loud once "I don't want to drop" I just didn't think my legs could do it.

Somewhere around there, Marcus came up on me. I'd been wondering where he'd been at - I hadn't seen him since the first aid station and was worried that his leg was bothering him and he dropped. Turns out he'd been power-walking since then. Since mile 6. I'm not sure if my thinking started changing before or after he came up on me but when he did catch me, I thought "If Marcus can do it, then I can do it, even if I have to walk the rest of the way." My thought pattern changed from "I don't think I can do this" to "I don't know if I can do this." Two very different things! I figured the section after Highland was another of my favorites and that it would be easy enough to walk through since it's very runnable. I could make another decision at Haines Road (someone I talked myself into thinking there might be an aid station there). And so I slogged my way into Highland.

Step one, take off the jersey under my t-shirt and shove it in my drop back. Step two, get water bottle filled since I went dry. Step three, plop down on the ground in front of the table and eye up the food. Wait, what? I looked around to make sure I wasn't too much in the way. The other two guys there didn't seem like they needed around me so I stayed where I was for another few seconds. Nothing really looked good here, either, but I had already ignored my watch timer once and was behind on food intake. I nabbed part of a salted nut roll and started chewing (to spit out the second bite after crossing Skyline), grabbed my water bottle and a couple pieces of watermelon, nodded my thanks to Shane since I wasn't up for talking and went on my not-so-merry way. Apparently I was described as 'death warmed over' - probably accurate. Shane also told me later that I was maybe a bit rude which makes me sad. I never want to be rude to the awesome volunteers.

I then promptly dropped a piece of watermelon. I considered not going back since it was a long 8 or 10 steps back but smartness won out and I went back to grab a piece to replace it. I of course didn't think to salt them until I was on the trail and I was definitely not turning back then. I also started taking another gel since my timer had gone off again - a tinsy bit at a time, following every sip with water and hoping that would keep my stomach from rebelling. Ran into Marcus' mom who is great and crossed Skyline, to find Kris! We chatted for a bit as I crossed the road and then I went on my way.

My new mantra started here and took me to the finish - "just a little, just slowly." I took all pressure off and said I didn't need to run a lot or fast. Even if I only ran 3 or 4 steps, it's faster than walking. Bit by bit, I could run further and a little faster. My stomach didn't get better as quickly, though, and kept me from running very fast. I could already tell that I'd be in trouble water wise again, though. My plan of little sips of gel following by water was running me dry fast. I needed to ration - no more than half my bottle before Haines so I'd have half a bottle to take me to the next aid station. I managed to mostly keep to this, though I was really thirsty, so I drank more than I 'should' have. Luckily, a guy went by me after Haines and shared a sip of his water. What I wanted to do was guzzle the rest of his bottle but I kept it to a sip. We both were sure that the next aid was at 27th instead of 24th for some reason and we both went bone dry before then.

I was getting stronger and stronger feeling, though. I was even running for a bit up slight inclines! Very exciting. I no longer felt like death and as soon as I crossed Haines, I knew for sure I'd be able to finish. Though, I couldn't figure out where all the women were! I'd been passed by a handful of guys, but no women at all since Tracy and Catherine. Somewhere after Haines, though, I was sure I was hearing Liz's voice behind me somewhere (again, I don't know why I decided it was Liz). And I kept seeing Eric a ton out there, who said when I asked that he was out cheering for Deb so women were out there somewhere nearby. Not that I was really concerned with my standing but I was wondering where everyone was.

Coming onto the water reservoir, I felt great and passed back the guy who gave me water. Into the 27th Ave aid station - last one! They had apple juice which was all that looked good and the volunteer there poured me a lovely glass of it. I drank a bit of coke since I've heard that can help with stomachs, drank my apple juice, was cheering by Johnny Cash on the volunteers iPod speakers and headed out.

The last three miles were awesome. I was giddy! This is a section that always feels nasty to me for some reason but it felt just fine at the pace I was going. I made sure to hold back some, though, since even though I felt free and clear, I thought I better make sure I finished strong and didn't crash again. I caught up to a guy who passed me up Highland as I crossed Skyline. I was running uphill! Strongly! It's the last uphill before the finish! I paused to ring the peace bell and started my gimp down the last mile. The stairs out of Enger were EVIL! And then the downhill. Ow. It hurt so much but in a 'but I'm so close! Why must it hurt now?' sort of way so that I actually started laughing a couple of times!

Off onto Michigan Street, try not to get hit by a truck, cross the road, over the bridge, under the highway and THERE'S MARCUS! I was super excited to see I had caught back up to him. He was walking his way in and talking to Leslie. The big dilemma, though! What if he doesn't start running when I catch up? Do I walk in with him and try to convince him to run in or run my way by him? Happily, he started running as I approached so we got to run in together. Of course, the two of us seem incapable of running next to each other without picking the pace up bit by bit. I blame Marcus. The punk also decided to sprint in and I not interest in sprinting at the end of my first 50K so he beat me to the finish! Like how I say that as though me deciding to sprint would have made a difference? It was fabulous to feel so great and finish laughing, though!

Picture by Eve Stein.

So a time of 7:20. Not so bad with all my walking (probably a good straight hour of it during my rough spot) and I finished strong and happy to boot! I was excited to be handed a finisher's mug, too. Awesome. A few minutes later, in came Liz - I knew she was right there behind me.

Overall, a beautiful day! I had a good time for most of it (what's an hour or two during a 7 hour race?) and even though I started too fast, I did managed to back off before my body forced me to. I pulled myself through a bad spot and was able to break the rest of the race into manageable pieces. Now I just need to figure out what is up with my stomach and what it wants to eat.

Monday, October 11, 2010

From NR: Whistlestop 2.0!

Okay, do me a favor. Next time I set a race as specifically being a test race and something goes wrong remind me to listen to that, huh? I decided during the City of Lakes 25K that I probably shouldn't do Whistlestop and then changed my mind. Sigh. Of course, I know I would have regretted not giving Whistlestop a go, so there's that, too.

So. Right now it feels kind of like a waste and I'm pretty frustrated but I did do a lot of things right and that's good. I've heard from a couple different people that it takes 10 marathons to finally figure them out and this was number 8. The short story is that I had a great first 18/19 miles and then my knee decided to start with the shooting pain, forcing me to walk a ton. Let's start from the beginning, though! What's a marathon race report from Sam if it's not a million pages long?

It took until Friday afternoon for me to start getting nervous and I was freaking out a little on the drive over. The spaghetti feed calmed me down quite a bit though, so that was good. I got to see Shelly and Rick and meet Mark again and the spaghetti was loads better than I remember it being from last year. I ate a ton. And then we went to Dairy Queen :)

We timed the morning out pretty perfectly - Kyle dropped me off at the bus pick up in Iron River, I joined the port-a-potty line and then the bus line and was at the starting line with about 20 minutes to the start. Back to the bathroom line (there's a line in Marathoning for Mortals that goes something like 'When you get to the starting area, get in line for the porta-potties. When you get through the line, come out and go back to the end of the line. Repeat') and then just enough time to duct tape my shoelaces down (sometimes, I do learn!) and re-tighten my pony tail before taking off warm clothes and heading to the road. I found Tonya and went to stand next to her for the start, though neither of us were very talkative.

It was so much warmer this year! It was nice to not be freezing while waiting for the start. It was a little too warm by the middle, though. There was one point where I had skipped water at one of the stations because it was so close to the previous one but then it was a while to the next one and I got super, super thirsty. That's one thing I wish was different - that the aid stations could be more evenly spaced. Though, I know they can't really control that - it depends where there's trail access.

Back to the start, though! It was one of the stranger starts I've been at - first the usual count down "Two minutes to race start. One minute to race start. 30 seconds." and then a count UP "1, 2, 3 go." Okay, that doesn't read nearly as strange as I (and others around me! Not just me!)found it that morning . . . ah well.

Off we go. Down the road for just over a mile and then onto the trail. I had Bobby Darin's version of Mack the Knife in my head for about Ten. Straight. Miles. Don't get me wrong, I love this song, I listened to it on the drive to the bus specifically because I don't mind it being stuck in my head but by mile 10 I was desperately trying to get something else stuck in my head. I ended up with Lake Pontchartrain by Ludo in my head for pretty much the rest of the race.

I focused right away on making sure I wasn't starting out too fast. I needed 8:12s to run a 3:35. I would find a good pace, speed up a little, see the time and slow down a little, see the time and try to even everything out. I did a great job of not panicking if a number was too fast or too slow and just adjusted my pace accordingly. I had some great splits at times: 7:54, 7:58 (great start, not too fast, slow it down just a tich), 8:15, 8:11 (perfect!), 7:57 (oops, a little excited), 8:07, 8:29 (oops, too relaxed!), 8:13, (the next miles are where I found a great rhythm. I had a fabulous group hanging right behind me and sometimes beside me and it was fun to be the person that everyone else was hanging onto for a good pace) 7:55, 7:53, 7:47 (oops, too excited. I said 'calm down, Sam' out loud here), 7:55, 8:19, 8:01, 7:59.

Here's most of my group of fun! I guess we weren't together for all that many miles but it felt like a while.

So that's the first 15 miles. Kyle said I was 13th woman coming through mile 16 and I was on pace for a 3:33. Giving myself the usual slowing down it seems a 3:35 would have been very doable (of course, who knows in a marathon, right?). I knew that sub-8:00s were faster than the plan but they mostly felt effortless and I figured as long as I kept myself right by 8:00s, I'd be okay. Too fast? Maybe but I don't actually regret it like I regretted last year's pacing. Last year I ran the first half with lots of upper-7:40s feeling like I had to because there was a guy I was running with and I was afraid to lose him. This year the pace was slightly slower and felt right and smart and not out of control at all. This year I was the one that others were using to hang onto a pace with.

Coming into mile 16, I suddenly started bonking a bit the last half mile before the aid station. Suddenly, I couldn't keep with the girl I've been running with for miles and she was running in front of me rather than the other way around and pulling away. That's when I realized that this was my 6 mile stretch between gels. So I focused on staying calm, trying not to let her get too far away and knowing I'd get some more fuel in soon. Now I know that 6 miles is probably too far in between food for me since I was good to go pretty much as soon as I had more.

Miles 18 and 19 I'm very proud of. I started slowing down there partially to my knee hurting some and partially to legs getting tired. I focused on just running a mile strong at a time. Going through my head were thoughts like "Just run this one mile strong then you can re-think. It's okay to fall apart later just do this one mile and then you can remember mile 18 and be proud that you ran it strong." I had been making similar deals already - just whenever my mind caught up and I suddenly realized 'Wait! I'm going fast!' I was able to cut of any negative thinking of 'there's no way I can keep this pace' and just decide to keep the pace (if it was reasonable) for 3 more miles and see if it was still comfortable after that.

Somewhere around mile 19 my knee started very painful stabbing pain. Of the surprising variety that brought Boston to a sudden, panicked, painful halt. Something else I'm proud of, though - I didn't panic. Not even a little. There were no tears at all. There was lots of frustration, some quiet swearing when it first starting, plenty of bitching (see below), and some thought about dropping to save my knee for Wild Duluth but no tears. I quickly abandoned any thoughts of stopping since I figured I could easily walk 5 miles (that's about where I briefly entertained the thought) and there was no way I wanted to voluntarily get my first DNF for such a 'silly' reason.

Here I am somewhere around mile 22. I saw Kyle way ahead of time and then saw him pull up the camera and I laughed at him and waved him off. He took a picture anyway, of course. My knees seem to be angling in pretty bad in this one. Maybe because I'm going so slow? I walked some when I got to him to let him know my knee was ridiculous. Oh! And you can see my buddy just behind me in the picture there. He caught me soon after but I ended up going by him in the last mile.

I was almost enjoying myself with about two miles left - asking a couple seated spectators if they wanted to trade knees (shockingly, they didn't), finding a fellow injured and bummed runner (the guy in the picture) to run/walk and bitch with. He was also having an unexpectedly bad day and having some bad cramping. Though, he was more bitter/annoyed and I was more going with it at that point. I was looking around and had a mix of finally enjoying the pretty day (I was rather focused earlier on) and thinking how long it took to walk so I would try running for a bit and then a stab would make me walk some again. My slowest mile by a lot was mile 23 with a 12:13, I think that might have been the mile I saw Kyle in. When I was walking, otherwise, I was trying to channel Lisa. Okay, that sounds a little mean, but that's not how I mean it! She's been working on the ultrarunner power walk when she has to walk up hills on trails so I tried to think about walking strong as long as I had to be walking. It didn't always work but it helped divert my thinking from negative things, anyway.

I decided I wasn't going to walk any of the last mile. I figured I couldn't do any more damage to my knee (faulty thinking to be sure!) so I might as well finish strongish. The last mile was 9:00 exactly which was much faster than I had been going but slower than I figured it would be. I don't know if it was all those turns (if you haven't run Whistlestop, about 3 or 4 blocks from the end for are a bunch of right angle turns that you make) or just the sudden running for a straight mile on sudden pavement but I super gimped my way down that last block into the finish line. Lisa, Leslie, Shelly and Rick (and Wayne? For some reason, Wayne was really hard for me to pick out, though I know he was cheering for me at several spots!) were at the beginning of all the turns and I gave them a smile, shrug and thumbs-down. It was weird to feel so good at the end.

I got to experience yet again someone trying to convince me to head to the medical tent. This time was much more light hearted, though. The guy at the finish grabbed me and lead me through the chute/blanket/medal area and kept asking "are you sure you don't want to go sit in the medical tent?" and seemed amused with my "Nah, it's just my knee" answer.

I limped on Kyle for a while but after about 30-40 minutes (I think) I was fine. We got my warm clothes back on, got my medal engraved, talked with fellow runners and sat down for a while. I wanted to go find people to talk with but I also wanted to eat so we headed for home after not too long. First stop, med tent for ice to go on my knee for the drive home.

Final time was 3:49.03. So, still not terrible despite it all. I figured since it was under 4 hours and since I was proud of the things I did right, I wanted to engrave the time. I love that they offer that service - it's $8 and you get your name and time official engraved on the back of your medal. I love it!

The trail was in a lot worse condition this year. It was a lot harder to find a good running surface for much of it and that got frustrating. I think one of my official pictures caught me in mid-grimace/glare from the bad footing, even!

The shirts were great this year. A nice color, good fit and pretty design. I like the side zipper pocket but the shoulder pocket is a bit strange.

So this left me wondering: what do I do about the Wild Duluth 50K? I decided on super rest, some nice walks and giving running a test go on trails on Wednesday. That went a-ok, no knee pain, so It's on! I think having to walk a ton at the end of Whistlestop probably helped me but I think it would take me not being able to run a step to keep me away since I've been super excited about this all year! Two days to my first ultra!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything which is fantastic. Anyway, I just finished a short section talking about the Theory of Relativity - things moving super fast appear to be shorter and slower when seen by someone NOT moving super fast. As Bryson says: "The effect actually happens every time you move. Fly across the United States, and you will step from the plane a quinzillionth of a second, or something, younger than those you left behind. Even in walking across the room you will very slightly alter your own experience of time and space."

So. I made the next logical thought - running moves you faster than walking so by running you actually ARE making your life longer compared to those who don't run. Huzzah for that extra tenth of a second by the end of life!

Unless you look at it the way Denis Leary does when he talks about smoking taking ten years off your life - "Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks? It's the ones at the end! It's the wheelchair kidney dialysis fucking years. You can have those years! We don't want 'em, alright!?"

But I prefer to think that running will keep me healthier than that to the end.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

From NR: I have a marathon in 4 days!

Okay! Updated news is that I managed to get Friday and Saturday off with some help. Huzzah! So I'll be heading down to Ashland for packet pickup and spaghetti feed sometime Friday afternoon and racing on Saturday.

I'm feeling sort of detached from this one. Maybe because the decision was so late, maybe because I've got a lot going on outside of running? I don't know but I haven't even bought my gels yet and haven't thought about the course all that much. I'm tapering but it feels weird to not have to go out and run and I'm thinking I'm maybe tapering too much.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be such a dejected sounding post! I'm ridiculous excited about Wild Duluth (soon I can start haunting the 10 day forecast!), which might be why I'm still sort of realizing that "oh yeah! I have another big race this weekend!" I'm feeling a little unprepared but I think that's because my long miles have mostly been done differently then I'm used to. My two 20 miles runs were vastly different - one had a 10K race in the beginning with added mileage around it and another turned into a 27 mile weekend with two longer back to back trail runs instead of one long run. I know there are a lot of people who do long runs that way instead and it works just fine, it just feels super strange.

So! Weather looks amazing for this weekend! Right now it's a high of 56 or so with lows from the night before in the high 40s. Beautiful! No need for me to worry about hypothermia this year . . . Though, rest assured that I'll be taking one of everything that I might want to race in just in case. I'm ready for a beautiful day of running, though.

I had a gorgeous run the other weekend, too! Kyle and I went camping at McCarthy Beach State Park. Now, I definitely wouldn't go there during the summer - there are too many campsites and too close together. But, in late September? Wonderful! We were one of six taken campsites in the whole park. So it's right on a couple of lakes and it was exactly 6 miles from our campsite, around the main lake. Half on tar, half on these beautiful rough gravel roads. So I did a couple laps of the lake and we hiked a ton of the trails.

Now, while I'm running my eighth marathon on Saturday (third for the year!), I have an online acquaintance (well, someone who's blog I follow and comment on) who will be racing the Ironman Championships in Hawaii. We have similar marathon goal times only her marathon comes after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike! So I shall try to channel some of her amazingness on Saturday! If you want to follow her blog of awesome, she can be found at Go Sonja.

That's all for now! We're halfway through the NMTC trail series - the last Wednesday night is tomorrow and then we switch to Sunday afternoons. I haven't decided how I'm racing tomorrow, yet. I'm in the women's lead so far (super exciting!), so I have to race some to keep my lead but I don't want to go super hard . . . We'll see how it turns out and how I'm feeling, I guess. Luckily, the week between Whistlestop and Wild Duluth is sort of a rest week. Of course, the hardest course of the series is the day after Wild Duluth. Luckily, we get to drop our lowest score of the series!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Okay, then.

So I'm pretty sure I've made my decision, though I'm not posting on Northland Runner until tonight.

Yesterday I was at work and the new schedule got posted. The schedule with includes Whistlestop Saturday. Apparently, I was so wrapped up in Wild Duluth that I forgot to request Whistlestop Friday/Saturday off even though I'm 100% sure I did. Oh, and the scheduler posts the requests with the schedules so I could clearly see that I didn't request the days and it's most definitely my fault not his.

Instant tears from Sam. So I'm figuring that that emotional of a reaction indicates I should do everything in my power to get that weekend off and run Whistlestop! I have a long list of people I can ask, so I'm feeling pretty confident of at least getting Saturday off. While I definitely don't want to work 8 hours on concrete the day beforehand, if I have to, I can. So. There it is, I guess. Next step is to think super healthy thoughts toward my knee!

Now, someone needs to help me with becoming more capable of making decisions. I've never been good at it and I feel as though my entire life has been full of decisions between one awesome event or another. Which, put that way, means my life is pretty good, huh?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Insight into the process of Sam's mind!

Here's what I'm thinking. Both silly and reasonable reasons listed!

Reasons not to do Whistlestop:
~ Wild Duluth (my first ultra) is one week later, recovery time might be an issue
~ My knee is grumpy still and I haven't figured out the exact reasons. It seems like it likes roads a lot less so is the Whistlestop surface considered road or trail by my knee? It was okay on that long run I did on the same surface until we got back to pavement. Good because perhaps the race is then okay for my knee. Bad because the last mile or so of the race is sudden pavement.
~ I feel as though I've hardly done anything long on roads (I've done lots of long on trails and some long on roads)
~ It's not as though I can really afford money-wise to fly to and run both Boston AND the Key West Ragnar only months apart. I haven't even figured out how I'm paying for Ragnar, yet.
~ How do I pace Hawk's Ridge (NMTC fall series race) the Wednesday before when I need to both taper and race to beat Aga?
~ I might as well miss another year of Boston since this year will be the yellow shirts again :)

Reasons to do Whistlestop:
~ I'd like another shot at 3:35 this year
~ I'd love to go to Boston with a group of friends
~ I want to do a marathon and then an ultra back to back just to do it - I've been planning to do it for several months, now, and it feels weird and sort like wussing out to only do Wild Duluth, now
~ Kyle will come watch
~ I know lots of people at Whistlestop so it'll be fun

I have someone to legally buy my Whistlestop entry, so it's not as though I'd be eating the registration. In fact, I think had I not had someone buy it, then I would just run it to not have to eat it. Maybe that's my answer? But I'd love to do well at Wild Duluth and running a hard marathon the week before is not the best way to do that. However, it's not as though I'm going to place so I might as well just have fun for my first one and have a goal to beat next time around, right?

Regardless, I need to get my decision made soon. I'm going to say by tomorrow so that I can tell the person who's interested in buying my registration if she can have it or not. Registration is still open, so she'll be able to get in regardless of my decision, she'd just get it cheaper from me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Nothing makes you feel more alive than running fast in a cold rain.
Nothing makes you feel more alive than running trial in the dark with a headlamp.
Nothing makes you feel more alive than running long with friends.
Nothing makes you feel more alive than running.

Monday, September 13, 2010

From NR: Three races

I'm three races behind! Well, four races, now, since I started this on Tuesday and have since run another NMTC race. Oops. I feel as though I hardly raced in summer and now all of a sudden I have a ton going on. I suppose it helps that the NMTC Fall Trail Series has started back up . . . So a quick recap of two races and more detail on my 25K!

Fall Festival 10K
So first up - the Fall Festival 10K in Port Wing Labor Day Sunday. Which already seems ages ago! The weather was lovely - it started as a nice, fairly cool day, which was nice. I needed 20 miles for the day, so I started with not quite 2 miles of warmup. Back to the starting line, take off extra clothes and off we go! The first 600 or so is downhill, followed by gradual uphill until about mile 2 that feels pretty evil by the end. I was plugging along fairly well and just when I thought to myself at not quite a mile in, "Hmmm, this is about where Marlo passed me last year," I hear her distinctive steps behind me! And away went Marlo! I spent pretty much all of the race all on my own, which seems to happen a lot to me. However! This time I was able to keep it pushing at nice even 7:15s and finishing as second woman, 11th overall and a course PR of 44:56. I was extremely happy since I tend to have problems pushing the pace when I'm out on my own.

So then I ran one mile loops until awards - fun bobble head runners. And!! I won what I think was the first door prize I've won at a race. Free ice cream cones - yum. Since I was starting to be starving, next up was a shower, lunch, free ice cream, parade watching and then back out a couple hours after the race for the last 8 miles. Good practice for Ragnar, too, right?

This race has been consistantly having shirts that are one of my favorites for the year. Different colors and pretty designs with no ads. This year they went tech on us, a nice dark gray color that you don't see a lot with a very pretty woodsy design and no ads! Another favorite! Now, I'm not one of those people who feel that every race needs to give me a tech shirt. I like my cotton just fine, thank you, and wear them about all the time but a tech shirt is still pretty nice.

Sadly, no pictures since my camera has finally called it quits after going swimming over a year ago. I'm now taking recommendations on digital cameras.

Zapp's Loop, NMTC race
Three days later was Zapp's Loop - my second favorite (well, now it's my favorite since the Hartley race is no more) NMTC race. Though, for some reason, I always have trouble racing at Zapp's. This year, I don't think I ran a step of the race on my own, though - usually I'm all by myself on the back end downhill but there were guys everywhere! Still, it took me until the last couple of miles to start pushing the pace and I ended up coming in just a bit slower than last year. Ah, well still a good time. The water was super high this year, making for extra fun! Zapp's Loop has three river crossings - the first couple you can generally keep dry feet on if you slow down a bit and I usually consider the time lost to slowing to be worth it to keep my feet lighter for a bit. Definitely not an option this year, though! So I plowed through all the crossings, with guys right in front and behind, hoping I wouldn't twist something horribly since you couldn't really see the bottom at all and I didn't want to slow up and get passed. I'm happy to report no twisted anything. I did almost kill Randy, though! He kept slowing down on downhills (or maybe I kept speeding up on downhills?) so I tried to blow around him on a bridge. Except I didn't warn him that I was passing so we almost collided which would have been very bad for both of us. Bad single track etiquette, Sam! Luckily, we were both okay.

City of Lakes 25K
Next up was the City of Lakes 25K on Sunday down in Minneapolis - twice around Lake Harriet and Calhoun on the roads. Now, I'd run around the lakes before in college but only on the running paths where there are no hills so that's what I was expecting - a nice flat course. Luckily, my sister and I headed out to Lake Harriet on Saturday just for the heck of it where I remembered that the race was on the roads and thus, there would in fact be hills. Now, there's absolutely nothing large on the course, but it was nice to know ahead of time that some uphill would be happening. It actually ended up being pretty nice to have some hill just to switch up the muscles being used so that was good. However, it's the uphill that my knee dislikes most when it starts acting up lately so that ended up being a slight problem.

I had the goal of breaking 2 hours but mostly this was to be an indicator of whether I should be running Whistlestop or not. I wanted to know if my fitness was where I wanted and I wanted to see how my knee was doing. The race starts at the southwest end of Lake Harriet and finishes at the northeast (so we go around Harriett about 2 1/2 times total) and I decided it was better to walk a mile back to my car after the finish then walk a mile to the start. I was able to park just a couple blocks from the start, giving me time to park, hit the bathrooms and head back to my car to pin on my number, strap on my timing chip and ditch my warm-ups. I found a teammate at the start with a similar time-goal so we started out together. It felt nice and easy but the splits seemed right so when she picked it up, I stayed back and hung out around 7:45s. Not too much later, a couple of runners came up on me just a chatting away. Or rather, the woman was chatting and the guy was answering questions. I ran much of the rest of the race with them - Danny, an experience and speedy ultra marathoner (he won Voyageur in 97, I think) coming back from injury and Jenny, newer to the distance thing. Both very nice to run with.

I decided on wearing my racing flats - I hadn't worn them for anything over 10 miles before but figured this would be okay. Plus they feel nice and light. Of course, my stupid shoelace came untied. Again. Just one shoe this time, though and only once. I was able to head to the side and re-tie it and then Danny called out as he passed me so I was able to catch back up to him. For an ultra runner, he has terrible pacing, he kept speeding up and slowing down so I just went with my nice steady pace (7:40, 7:51, 15:37 for two miles (oops!), 7:43, 7:44, 7:51, 7:46, 7:49, 7:56, 7:51, 8:00, 8:06, 8:12, 7:50, finish) and let him do his thing in front and behind me. Yeah, see that slowdown for the last few miles? My knee started hurting around mile 12/13, though that wasn't the whole problem, my body seemed to suddenly not like the pace it was at. I felt SO INCREDIBLY SLOW and was happy to see that incredibly slow feeling was goal pace for Whistlestop (exactly goal pace, actually!). I worked hard on keeping some positive thinking during the last few miles - mostly centered on stopping thinking about pace and recognizing that 'I could easily run X more miles so just stop worrying and go with it'. Had I stuck on pace, I would have broken 2 hours! But I'm still happy with a 2:02. Especially as I realize that it's a 25K PR! Of course, my only other 25K was on trails but hey, minor detail right? :) I also ran a half marathon PR on my way to the 25K (they kept official Half spilts) which shows how long it's been since I've ran a road Half. Maybe I should throw one of those on my schedule next year?

So the question becomes - what did my knee not like? Was it the distance? Was it the pavement? Was it the racing flats? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. A person can legally sell their Whistlestop entry so I'm thinking about not doing Whistlestop and saving my knee for Wild Duluth. Especially since all the jerking around and uphill at the next NMTC race brought not a whisper from my knee. Looking at the splits, I realize that was about what I was sillily running during Whistlestop last year and that I lasted about half way before realizing how stupid I had been and that the pace wasn't going to last. Which makes me think if I pace smart this year with a slightly slower time goal - 3:35 instead of 3:30, then I might be okay. See me talking myself back into running Whistlestop?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

From NR: Fall already?!

The the end of summer has officially come as the Fall NMTC Trail Series has begun! I can't believe that it's already September, though - something is not quite right about that. Don't get me wrong, I think fall might be my favorite season and I LOVE the fall trail series but still . . . what happened to the last three months? Didn't we just finish the spring series?

So I took last weekend completely off, no long run for me and in fact, no run at all for me over the weekend. I did an easy run on Monday where my knee was unhappy for the first half and fine for the rest. I've started already running through scenarios in my mind of 'what ifs' for October regarding my knee, but I think I should probably calm down and wait and see what this weekend brings me. It was mostly fine on Wednesday's race, so I'm a little hopeful again. I have another race followed by the rest of my long run slated for Sunday so we shall see. The 25K on roads that I'm planning on racing next week is a big indicator, too. I don't want to run Whistlestop if I'm not in the shape I want to be in.

The first Fall Trail Race is in Superior - Brown's Point. Usually, it's on ski trails and contains some very nice parts and some evil and steep down/ups of the type that throw off your balance if you're on skis. However, the trails hadn't been mowed and the decision was made to move the race to the gravel roads around the area. 2 miles out, 2 miles back. I actually kind of enjoyed having the race on roads for a change, it was fun being able to run abreast with people where we're used to being on more narrow trails. I actually ran with someone for pretty much the whole way, which was nice and made for lots of short talking and joking. I ran even or probably negative splits - I glanced at my watch at the turn and saw 14:something and came in with 28:09. I was worried as it seemed as though there was an awful lot of downhill on the way out, but I didn't notice much uphill on the way back, so it must have been a deceptive slope. I was going hard with about 800 to go when I realized that I have a race on Sunday and I didn't want to burn all cylinders trying to race someone up the uphill finish, so I backed off a bit to make sure I wouldn't be tempted to try and race down the guys in front of me. A smart move, I think since my legs weren't sure how interested they were in going faster anyway :)

Wednesday was a good practice run for my 10K on Sunday, I think - it'll be mostly on rolling dirt/gravel roads. It'll be harder to maintain a nice pace since I tend to end up on my own out there but that will also make it a good test of mental strength to go the pace I know I can go, right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

From NR: Haven't we been through this already?

Dear Left Knee,
I see you're still upset with me, choosing to voice your displeasure around mile 15 of an otherwise great 17 mile run. I'm sorry to hear this. Can we maybe talk about it instead of you just taking it out on me? Did you want more icing? No more yoga? A slower jump in mileage?

Yeah. I hit the Osaugie and Tri-Corridor trail with Leslie for 17 miles of fun on Saturday. I think it's good to do and I highly recommend hitting the Corridor at some point to all who are running Whistlestop. It's just nice to remember before the race what the surface you're going to be dealing with is like. I had been starting to worry about more gravel than there is and was pleasantly reminded of how nice the surface is. And also sometimes reminded of the single file running down the right hand side that went on when there were soft spots . . .

Well, my knee was vaguely annoyed throughout the whole thing. It didn't really hurt, but it had that feeling where I was aware of it and you shouldn't be aware of your knee while running, it should just be there. I had a mostly lovely run, though, even with how humid it was - the fog never really lifted and I'm actually pretty grateful for that since if the sun had come out during the run, it would have been hot AND humid. So it was hard to breathe at times but I guess that's what comes with summer.

A couple miles from the end, though, my knee started really hurting. Not enough to need to walk but enough to make me think about it. I didn't need to gimp on it and since that's my measure of needing to walk, I kept going. Turns out trying to slow down made it hurt worse so I don't think the cause was us boogieing our way along after the turnaround at goal pace or faster. Though, it WAS better to slow down and sort of squat more on the uphills. Very strange. I went home and iced it and it behaved walking around so I guess I'll go back to icing after all my runs.

So . . . now what? I'm scheduled for a 20 this coming weekend but when I whined about that, Leslie's had a very reasonable response along the lines of "would you rather run the 20 and not be able to do Whistlestop or do one less 20 and be fine at Whistlestop?" Hmmmmm. Excellent point. At this point, I'm not sure if it's something I should be worried about or if it's still annoyed from all the sudden kneeling and twisting at yoga when I've barely kneeled at all since February or March. So I guess it's another week of paying attention to how the knee feels and I'll probably make the long run decision later in the week. I'm about to head out for some trails so we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From NR: Treadmill?!

Today I experienced something that I don't think I've ever encountered before . . .

I wanted to run on the treadmill. It was beautiful outside and I did my easy 3 miles inside. On a treadmill. Voluntarily.

I know. What's wrong with me, huh?

Actually, I think it was part making sure I could stop if my knee was pissed and part not wanting to run up Chester today with the un-eveness and not knowing where 3 miles was at. It ended up being fairly nice, though. Sometimes it's good to force myself through a treadmill since it's much harder for me than it should be.

So something else that was new for me - I went to an official yoga class for the first time on Saturday. My sister goes every Saturday and since I was visiting her for the weekend, I got to go along. It was actually really nice. It was two hours long and I didn't even notice, I thought it was more like one hour. Turns out yoga is not so good for my knee though - lots of kneeling and I think too much twisting the leg out and holding. The kneeling I knew was a problem right away and made sure to kneel on a blanket and try to kneel uneven, keeping less weight on my left knee but I didn't really think about the twisting at all. So my knee was rather unhappy with me the next morning. Which axes my plans to check out yoga classes at the Fitness Center. I did look back into Pilates, though, and am annoyed to only find a morning class. Maybe there'll be a different schedule come fall.

So once my knee made some noise, I opted for being smart (yay, Sam!) and took a few days off to make sure it wouldn't freak out on me too much. My knee being unhappy could also be partially due to a jump in mileage I may have just done, too . . . I went for a test run yesterday and things seemed pretty good so I decided on a short run today, tomorrow off and go back to my scheduled long run on Saturday.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

From NR: So many races!

I had my eye on several different races this weekend: Wildwoods 25K up at Itasca State Park, Fisherman's Picnic 5 mile trail race in Grand Marais, Run Like an Animal here at the zoo, the Bark Point 10K in Herbster (near Kyle's parents) and the Brule River Lions 5 mile!

That's a lot of races! Of course, I worked both days this weekend so there ended up being no racing for me. Which is just as well since I don't know what I would have picked as my first choice! Actually, I guess I could have done the Run Like an Animal (and what a great t-shirt design they had!) but race day registration was $35 since it was a fundraising run and Saturday was my best day open for my long run since I didn't work until late so I opted for not racing a 5K and then running 13 more miles.

16 miles down on the lakewalk. Of course, the lakewalk doesn't actually go 8 miles out, yet . . . So I ran some on dirt path that will eventually be lakewalk and then down a busy and sidewalk-less Superior St and then across the highway and down the road parallel to Scenic 61. I had a pretty fantastic run. Well, the first few miles were good, the next 5 were okay but then after the turnaround, the second half just flew by. It was nice to feel good and feel speedy. It wasn't ridiculous hot but as I was coming down the last stretch of lakewalk (with another half mile to go since I parked at Bayfront), I promised myself I would drive back to the lake and swim if I was still hot when I finished. The water was COLD! But man did it feel great, even I did annoy some parents as I could hear their kids begging to swim because I was.

Skipping veins of thought here, there's a few possibilities for why I've been getting nauseous on long races. I'm thinking it's a mix of running hard in humidity (as that seems to be a common factor for every time I get nauseous) and taking in more carbs than my stomach can process. Once I found a fuel that would work, I think I got a little paranoid that I NEED to be taking in enough and ending up eating gels too often. So I'm starting training going another mile (or 2 depending on aid station spacing for various races) further than I have been between gels and we'll see what that does.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I forgot to update about my decision! Now, as so happened with this one, I didn't so much actively sit down and decide what I wanted so much as let it come to me. Sometimes that works - wait and see what I get excited about as I'm talking about it and let that guide me toward what I want to do. Well, I kept talking and thinking about Boston, even after thinking maybe I'd give it a skip by again and I sat down and wrote out a plan for Whistlestop. So that all seemed to indicate that just maybe I should be doing Whistlestop :)

I think it's a case of knowing I'll regret it if I don't do one more road marathon this year. If I'm going to be serious about having an ambitious future time goal that's also more of a "let's see How Fast I Can Be" attempt then I need to keep making progress with it. So. Now I have to make sure to register for Whistlestop in the next week or I won't get my $5 discount for having already run Grandma's :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From NR: How humid was it??

I love water. I do. I love to go swimming. I love rain. I even enjoy a good shower. I do not, however, like breathing water. Especially when I'm just trying to run.

Sunday it was so humid that I sweated my arm numbers off. That's right, the numbers written on both arms in black permanent marker meant for the full triathletes who SWIM first, I managed to sweat off.

I then got in my car Monday afternoon to go to work and all the humidity had been stuck in the car and my seat was wet. Wet! Not from me being wet and sitting there but from all the humidity sucking into the seat.

Today continued the theme as I worked hard on keeping my mind focused on moving and staying positive. On my little 4 mile run. Yeah.

So. Three cheers for acclimating!

Brewhouse was a lot of fun again, but this year I was more uncomfortable being on a relay and I really felt I should be doing the whole she-bang on my own. I paid more attention this year to the triathletes and what they wore and how they laid out their transition spots. Hopefully, I have convinced the rest of my relay team to ALSO do the short course on their own. It's the 25th running of it next year, so what a good time to do a first triathlon, right? So here's a job for everyone, if you like: Go to my friend Katie's blog and tell her how awesome she is and that she can definitely handle the short course on her own! She was the bike portion of Team Awesome the last two years and is also an awesome climber.

Team Awesome came in 6th of 12 and had a blast, though!

I even ran 11 seconds faster than last year for a 35:15. I'm part happy and part bummed - it was humid and hard to breath so it's great I was able to boogie. However, I just sort of putzing along for too long before I started waking up and pushing the pace more, so I would have liked to start out harder. But - I got a nasty side-ache and started being a little nauseous (all in 5 miles!) so I think it's trying to push a pace in humidity that might be bringing those symptoms on in races. So all in all, I did pretty well.

Also, there was most definitely a guy at the finish line taking official pictures. Does anyone know where those pictures end up since there's not a link for it on the website?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Whistlestop vs Moose Mountain

It seems the Half Voyageur has given me the longer-distance-on-trails bug. I had already been eying up the Moose Mountain Marathon since earlier this year, back when I didn't think I would be needing a fall marathon to get that elusive 3:30. Now I'm looking at the schedule thinking it might be a bit much - a trail marathon on September 11, a 'road' marathon on October 9 and my first ultra (50K) on October 16. I think were I not trying for a 3:30 at Whistlestop and wanting a decent performance at Wild Duluth then it'd be not as stupid.

Actually, here's a little secret (since this isn't a Northland Runner post): I'm toying with the idea of not doing Whistlestop and doing Moose Mountain instead. This would mean, however, no Boston 2011.

I'm of a couple minds about this. I'll be doing the Florida Keys Ragnar in January which means that also doing Boston is TWO high priced races requiring flights just a few months apart. Right now I can't even afford Ragnar and I'm just hoping things work out so adding another high priced registration in October (when Boston opens up) might not even work. Boston isn't going anywhere nor is my ability to run a BQ.

On the other hand, I LOVE Boston. Even though I had a miserable time, I still had a fantastic time crazy as that is. I want to go back in Wave One and run well. I want to not be mistaken for a charity runner. I have friends from Duluth also doing Boston 2011 and a MegaTough teamie who has said she'll head out with me, too. Moose Mountain is not going anywhere. I also am trying to march my way to an ambitious future time goal and it's probably important to do another marathon this year that helps advance that.

It depends on the day as to which way I'm leaning. It also depends on if you ask me while I'm out running trails or not :) Right now, I think I'll regret it if I don't try for my 3:30 again this year so that's probably what my answer should be.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From NR - Half Voyaguer Race Report

I'm not sure why this should be surprising but I LOVED the Half Voyageur! I had an absolute blast! Thanks a billion to Gene and all the volunteers for putting on such an awesome race. All the aid stations were great and it was wonderful to have mowed trails to run on since 26 miles of unmowed would have been much less fun.

I had no idea what kind of a pace to do once we started. It was so hard to restrain from wanting to sprint around the single line of walking that happened right away! I knew things would clear up soon enough and this was 26.2 miles, so there was plenty of time and no use fretting since no one else was. Just so strange feeling, though! So once we cleared that, we headed out on a nice wide gravely trail/road for a while. It was hard, again, to figure out the right pace. I knew the trail was going to throw plenty of nasty at us and worked about to find something comfortable. I was passing a lot of people but I figured I might as well stretch my legs out a little and find a nice pace while I could even if people ended up passing me back.

There's only a couple of spots along the way that I hadn't run before and the beginning was one of them. I didn't have a very good idea of HOW we got from the zoo up to Skyline and was going along when I found myself thinking "Gee, this looks a lot like the Rolling Stone course. But it can't be, we're much too far away, still." And then we came to the river crossing and we had, in fact, been on the course! I couldn't believe how close we were to it!

I have to say, I felt like we were cheating - getting up to Skyline should have involved some MUCH steeper climbs. I was very happy to find it all relatively easy. I walked part of a hill in there that wasn't too bad (on the Rolling Stone course somewhere, I think) but decided I would walk hills over X grade with the idea that walking when I chose early on might keep me from walking when I didn't choose later on. I think it worked pretty well.

So I loved all the nasty stuff. Jarrow's Beach was great. I had nice people in front of me who let me bounce around them, so I wasn't slowed down beyond what the course does. I wasn't expecting what it was, though - it's basically a ravine that you run in. This ravine's botton is covered in large, irregular and sharp moss covered rocks that are pretty much not runable. You just sort of bounce from rock to rock while super thankful that it's not raining because it would be so super dangerous wet. Then you come out on nice flat trail before heading right back up Skyline. On unmowed snowmoblie trail. Through what would have been knee or higher deep mud had we not detoured around into the woods. Which meant cutting your own trail and getting rather scratched up. Huzzah!

In Zapp's Loop, I passed a guy in white that I would end up playing tag with quite a bit. It seemed he was a bit stronger at the uphill and I was stronger at the downhill. I lost him for good after the Power Lines (capitalized!) and didn't see him finish so I hope I just missed him since I wasn't paying close attention.

I loved the Power Lines. I was with my guy in white and a group of three other guys came up behind us and we all went through it together which made it pretty fun. I'll admit, I was worried on the first one and had to remind myself that the rest aren't as bad. How to describe the Power Lines to those who haven't run them? The first one you are more or less on all fours for and can't believe that you'll still have something like 10 miles to go after trashing your quivering quads. They are hills you wouldn't ski down. They're scary to 'run' down, though it's more of a semi-controlled falling. After what I thought was the last one, I let out a loud holler that made my friend in white looked back at me rather like I was crazy so I explained that it was the end of the Power Lines. I was wrong. When I ran the course with Lisa, Ron and Shaun earlier, we had missed the turn back in and I didn't realize there was more. My friend (damn, I wish I had asked his name), also being a newbie to the race, didn't correct me and, in fact, told me to go around him since I seemed to have energy :) I felt so bad when I came out to see one more hill to go down and up! I was sure I'd have a chance to apologize since he was stronger on the uphill but he never caught me again. So if you're reading this, friend in white with a backpack water carrier, thanks for the fun and I'm sorry to have mislead you!

Coming up that last Power Line hill, I had a Northwoods teamie tell me I was in third! Third! I wasn't even thinking about placement (beyond being excited when passing a woman on the way up Zapp's Loop) so I was shocked to hear it. I decided to be happy but try not to dwell on it and keep doing my thing.

Here I am at the Grand Portage aid station (just after the Power Lines) saying "Did you say frozen grapes?!" They were amazing, by the way. How Eve managed to keep them frozen is a mystery but I loved them! I had decided to throw water on my head at this station after the heat of the Power Lines (no shade!) only to have the grapes make me forget :)

I didn't mind the miles and miles of up after the Grand Portage aid station too much. It was very pretty and I tried to focus on making the conscious decision to walk instead of letting the course beat me into walking without noticing. Coming into the next aid station, I knew I needed some sort of salty stuff. I tried a cracker but it wasn't good so I just poured some salt straight into my hand and licked it up. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. More frozen grapes.

I think I was mentally the worst off on the ski trails right before coming onto the Munger the first time - something about a ski trail makes a slow pace feel so much slower and more painful. I felt like I was putzing along and barely moving and luckily came up on Shane then. I was sad to see him since it meant he wasn't having a good day but it was nice to know that other runners struggling at that point, too.

Then came Forbay's Lake! Right after entering the trail on the other side of the road, I felt like throwing up. I was 100% sure I was going to - the saliva in the mouth, the fake heat, all of it! But nothing. I tried to run but it just jiggled everything and was miserable. That whole section the ski trails was rough - I could barely run downhill and was excited for uphill since that meant I had 'permission' to walk. It was in here that a woman went by me, putting me in 4th. I think she might have passed me even had I not been nauseous, though, because she was moving pretty strong. I think her name was Amanda? We chatted back on Jarrow's Beach and she's super nice. Sadly, I was not very coherent as she went by me here but I at least managed a "good job" I tried to take a gel but it just wasn't happening which makes me think maybe my body was over-carbed? I've read that taking in more than your stomach can handle can cause you to feel like hurling. I think I need to scale back to every 45 or 50 minutes instead of every 40. I found Kyle as my stomach was settling back down right before Jay Cooke but I handed off my opened gel since I didn't want any anymore. I still had a couple in reserve, so I figured I'd be fine.

Well, I probably should have made myself take another gel because those last 3 1/2 miles were sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long. Holy man. Well, I thought it was only 3 miles so that made it worse, too. In hind sight, I think a good deal of my stumbling about was a sign of needing more food and I ended up with 2 left over gels not counting the one I didn't really take when I should have only had one left over (I threw in an extra in case something happened and I was out on the trail much longer that I anticipated). Which means I should have taken one somewhere and completely forgot. It turns out to be harder than expected to keep track of taking fuel when you don't have a water station every couple of miles to base it off of. I think I added up my 40 minutes wrong somewhere in there, too, which is rather embarrassing to think about. Perhaps setting my watch timer to go off isn't such a bad idea.

So those last 3 1/2 miles had lots of stumbling and trying to run in between rocks and roots. Thinking to myself "Okay. 5th woman is running right now. YOU have to run." Which is the only time I was at all trying to be competitive. In fact, right before Seven Bridges (about half way in), I ended up in-between my guy in white and another women (guess I was second woman at that point) and I realized "Hey. This is making me race and I don't want to race right now. I want to enjoy this." So I let her go by and had a great time by myself on the trails. In fact, with a rare exception, every time I started hurting I took a look around and remembered how awesome trail running is and it helped me enjoy again.

I came in smiling (with eyes closed, of course!) and collected my awesome 4th woman mug. Also! A women kitty-corner from the finish had her hose hooked up to a shower head-like attachment and was letting runners take showers, which was fantastic. I really had wanted to go swimming as I was stumbling along next to the river but this was pretty good too.

Only one complaint about this race! Shirt size options were large and extra-large. I tried in vain to shrink my shirt so I might have to turn it into a bag.

I'll be back next year for sure! I was so happy the whole time that I decided to do it. I'm afraid I might be hooked on longer trail races!

Friday, July 9, 2010

From NR: Time for a trail marathon!

Okay. So, I've talked about running the Half Voyageur for the last couple of years but always backed out of it by the time it came around. Often for heat related concerns. Last year, I wanted to try a three-peat at a 5K near Grand Rapids (foiled!). This year I almost signed up for it before Grandma's but decided to wait and see how Grandma's treated me, always a smart move, knowing how Grandma's has trashed my body before. Then I didn't sign up right away afterward, either, even though I was feeling fine. But. I did request the weekend off from work specifically for the race.

The closer it got, the more I started waffling. My legs haven't felt all that fantastic recently, though they felt great almost immediately after Grandma's. So they're probably just tired because I've been upping my miles back up to where I want them and have gone back to lifting and swimming after taking a break just before and for a full week after the race. Even so, I've been thinking that 26 miles of trails just sounds evil.

And then there's the weather. It's been so hot and humid. Yuck. But! I've been running in it. It's been gross, but I've still been out there. Sometimes waiting specifically until 11, if my work schedule allowed, so that it's a little hotter so that I get used to it more. I'm much better then I have been, but I still feel as though I have less heat/humidity tolerance than the normal person which doesn't translate well to a hot and humid race. Happily, it starts at 6am!

Next add in that I don't get all my weekends off. This is my last weekend off that I don't have booked up for other things for a while. I want to go to my parents house and see them and my grandma. My aunt, uncle and cousin from Montana will also be around this weekend. My sister and nephew are home. My close high school friends are going on a short canoeing trip this weekend. I wanted to go home instead.

There were several times in the last couple of weeks where I was sure I wasn't going to race this weekend. And then I would decide that I really DID want to run it but then I would think about the weather and going home. My sister was also trying to get her little guy baptized this weekend while she was home and since Kyle and I are the god-parents (of the cutest little boy in the world!) it's pretty important for us to be there! Well, my sister called me yesterday and I don't think I realized how much I wanted to race until she said that she HAD been able to arrange for the baptism to happen and my heart sank. And then she said that it wasn't until almost 5 on Saturday and I was super happy again! I could race in the morning, shower at Jay Cooke and then head home in plenty of time. Huzzah!

So that is my plan! I was super hyper last night once I figured out a plan and Kyle okayed his role in the logistics.

Of course, I usually have the full week before a race to spread my nerves out. Suddenly deciding 33 hours beforehand that a race is going to happen made my nerves pounce this morning! It's all very ridiculous, though, as I have nothing to be nervous about. There's no time goal, no placement goal, I'm just heading out for a 26 mile trail run with a bunch of friends. So why did I wake up with my stomach all a flutter? I'm so happy, again, that I found something I can eat race day mornings even with an unsettled stomach. Three cheers for Boost - as I told a friends this morning, it's a tasty and much less fiber filled variety of Ensure!

So good luck to everyone racing this weekend, in the Half Voyageur or anything else out there. I'll be sure and post a report much faster than I got my Grandma's report out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From NR: Finally, my Grandma's Report!

Hmmm. It's been a while again, hasn't it? This was a harder race report to write - I don't think I've been more disappointed immediately after a race. Don't worry, though, I'm not dwelling much, now and I know some good things came out of it this year.

So . . . let's start with the good things:
~ No matter how miserable I was feeling, the individual miles never dragged. I never felt as though I was making no progress.
~ While walking definitely occurred, never for very long and I ran the entire last 3 miles.
~ I have never felt stronger at a Grandma's finish.
~ Despite feeling as though there was NO possible way to take another gel and not throw it right back up, I ate every one on schedule and had no problems at all with them. Which means I've finally found fuel that will work no matter the weather conditions - huzzah!
~ I met an awesome runner around 16 or 17 who chatted with me (well, mostly TO me since I couldn't talk much, but I really appreciated it!) for a few miles. I finally let her go just as we were getting into town so I hope she did what she wanted.
~ I recovered at the finish (and after the race) fairly quickly.

On to race day:

I woke up Saturday morning at the campground and . . . I could see the lake! I did a little dance - seeing the lake means the humidity isn't so ridiculous. Non-ridiculous humidity was something I could handle. Time for food. Now, I don't think I've talked about all my experimenting for race day breakfast this training go-round. The last couple of years, my stomach/nerves seem to have gotten worse and worse - on race day morning, I can barely eat anything be it a marathon or a 5K. Now, it's okay to just get down a piece of toast for a 5K but it's not such a good idea for longer races and I've been trying to figure out what my stomach might tolerate come race morning. I've been doing Malt-O-Meal the last couple of years but, again, come race morning I can only get down about half of what I usually eat. Plus there's the whole - 'oh shit! My hotel room doesn't have a microwave!' problem. I'd read some things about meal replacement beverages being a good thing to try, so I experimented with a couple varieties and found that strawberry flavored Boost works great! Plus - it requires no prep so it's stress free and easily packable. Come race morning, I had no problem drinking it all down - great news!

I had laid out all my race clothes the night before and brought them out for dressing. Hmmmmm. Where are my pace bands? I printed them off, grabbed the tape to laminate them and I'm sure they made it in my bag. Hmmmmm. Can't find them anywhere. Okay. No problem. I know I need to run 8:12s for a 3:35 and even 8s for a 3:30 so I know where abouts I need to be without the band.

I had been thinking about having my parents just drop me off on the side of the highway across from the starting area. I get so annoyed waiting for the buses to slowly drive down to the drop off area. It takes a couple of minutes to get to the starting area from the pickup spot and then it takes 15 minutes to hang out there waiting until they let us off. Really, though, I get on the first bus out of the Super One lot in Two Harbors so there's plenty of time so I decided to follow the rules and take the bus. Good Sam.

Time to jump right into the porta-potty line. Get to the front, take my turn and head right back to the back of the line. I figured I didn't have anything better to do :) Connie joined the line next to me and slightly behind. Showing my usual flair for picking the worst line, Connie got through her line several minutes before me. In fact, when I hard the Star Spangled Banner going on, I decided to ditch the line and head to the start so I wouldn't miss the jet fly-over. Going by the number of people still in line, I'm not sure how they all made it through before the start. Since it was lower humidity and the sun was hiding at the start with some threatening looking clouds, I decided against the small water bottle I brought. I think that was a good decision - I didn't have to carry it around and I never really needed it. It's super comfortable but why carry what you don't need to, right? So all I needed to carry was my homemade gel pouch in my left hand. I shall update with details later!

My "stars align" goal was 3:30 and lining up at the start, I was pretty confident. I felt good, the weather looked great and I might as well just start at that pace and see what happens and how long it felt good. I think it probably would have been smarter to stick to 3:35 pace from the beginning (a difference of about 12 seconds/mile) but who knows what that would have changed. I wanted to hang out just behind the 3:30 pace balloons but could only find the 3:40 pacers in the starting crowd. I found a nice open spot a decent amount in front of them, though, and ran into Connie again. It was nice to be next to a friend at the start.

Off goes the starting horn and away we go!

My first couple miles are a little fast and I realize I'm catching up to the 3:30 balloons faster than I should so I back off a bit. I find my pace and hang out just behind the wall of people that make up the 3:30 group. Things go along pretty smoothly, actually: 7:47, 7:53, 7:56, 8:02, 8:02, 8:08, 8:03, 8:14, 8:18, 8:07. I'm comfortable where I'm at and feel strong. Then, all of a sudden, comes mile 11. Nothing too traumatic, I just suddenly look up and realize the balloons look further ahead of me and my watch is saying 8:31. Strange. The next mile - not any better. Suddenly, my body is acting strange and not responding. I tried not to really panic, since it was early on but I was nauseous and finding it hard to breathe and so it would continue for most of the rest of the race.

It was really, really frustrating. I felt as though my body was acting like it was hot and humid out and here it was, a perfectly lovely day. Okay, it wasn't PERFECT weather, but it was pretty damn nice and loads better than it has been in the past so what was up? I'm not sure at all and I don't like it. This is my first marathon that went wrong where I haven't been to pinpoint exactly WHAT went wrong. I was frustrated with myself and disappointed at my inability to get it back in as I fell further and further back. I've had plenty of training runs where there's some iffy miles that I just have to plow through and then I come out the other end of it just fine. Well, I didn't seem to be able to plow through this very strongly at all and wasn't feeling any better and was reduced to just plugging along. The outsides of both my knees were extremely sore the rest of the day, probably due to the strange shuffle I was doing.

One thing that was nice was making it to Lemon Drop (after being disappointed again by the orange slices right beforehand) only to easily run my way up it thinking how it wasn't much of a hill at all. Then, at about 3 miles left (a bit after Lemon Drop), I was 99% sure that puking was finally going to happen (this is also where I confess to thinking about taking one of those offered beer samples on London Road, just to make myself hurl and get it over with. Happily, I resisted the momentary urge!). I moved to the side and assumed the Stance (you know what I'm talking about!) but it was not to be. Okay, back into I go and then ran every step of the last three miles a million times stronger then I had been.

It's pretty fun to do those last miles while feeling not completely miserable - the crowds are massive, the downhill is so nice and I was passing tons and tons of people. However, I was pissed that I was suddenly able to go and worried that the stronger feeling wouldn't last long but decided that at this point, the plan was to go as strong as possible until I couldn't. As it turned out, I could push it good all the way in. I couldn't believe it when I got a nasty, nasty sideache less than half a mile from the finish, though. But, really, I think the only surprising part now is that I didn't get one before with all the difficulty breathing I was having. Well. Who cares if you can't breathe, there's half a mile left. I had long been promising myself that at the finish I could finally let myself hurl and let myself cry so I might as well add letting myself double over to gasp for breath to that. Happily at the finish, there was no hurling and no doubling over. I did have Tonya to hang on for a minute, though.

So the Grandma's curse stands. I'm not happy with a 4:07 when I wanted a 3:35 but this was my fastest Grandma's so far so maybe I'm chipping away at the curse little by little. Maybe next time around I'll smash through it! Right now, I'm a bit peeved that I have do a fall marathon, now, if I want to do Boston next spring. I was starting to think about Moose Mountain but I think that's a bad idea if I have to do a road marathon, too. My original backup was Fox Cities but . . . it's a lot more expensive then just doing Whistlestop. So, despite it being the weekend before Wild Duluth, I think that's going to be my plan. But we all know how well I make decisions . . .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hehe. Oops

I successfully wasted all of my time tonight working on a side project of my Father's Day present. I now need to pack and also finish my gel carrier tomorrow before leaving instead of tonight. Oops. The good thing is that, really, I live right here. If something gets forgotten and I realize this in Two Harbors, I have all day Friday to make it right.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New blog look!

A new template! What do you think? I can't believe they don't have any sort of running graphic at all but this is good too. I'm not sure I like the black background to the blog entries. I tried making the background transparent but I'm not sure it's as legible as it could be so I'll keep it black for now.

Okay, I re-did. I loved the other background I had (trees) but it was very busy. I like the simpler style of this one so far. Any thoughts?

From NR: Soon!

4 days! Though, it feels as though it MUST be later than Tuesday right now!

You can track me (or anyone else running), should you desire, by email or text message. Head here and enter in my name. It doesn't say how often they send updates and I don't know how many timing mats they have on the course now. I remember one at halfway and one at 20 miles, I think but there's probably more now, if they're doing the tracking thing.

So, weather. Looks great! Of course, you knew I was going to say that already, didn't you? Because no matter what it turns to, it's going to look great. Hehe. Every day the last couple of weeks has been some version of "Okay. If it's like this on race morning, then what am I going to wear?" I know pretty much what I'm going to wear (my Northwoods jersey, green, and my black shorts) but it's the little accessories that depend on weather the most. Arm warmers for rain? Hat for rain or sun? Little water bottle for extra water in heat or humidity? I'll be packing every little thing for camping, I guess - we camp in Two Harbors with my parents before Grandma's. Though, I have had the offer of a friend's house for the night before and the temptation of a bed instead of the ground sounds lovely . . .

Turns out I'll have to pay close attention to putting on my new shoes. The left foot needs to be tied super loose or else it cuts right across a nerve and makes my foot go numb. Lovely. I'll just have to make super sure before I start Saturday that it's tied right. It might be another good day for duct taping the shoelaces, too - no way I'm stopping to tie shoes, though I don't think I'm going to have that problem with these shoes. Something excited about them, though? The tongue stays where it's supposed to! Such a little thing that's so wonderful!

Things to do!
- Make sure all of my running clothes are clean, pack them
- Print out yet another pace band. Should the weather corporate, my goal is a 3:35!
- Finish making my holder for my gels. It's all figured out thanks to my mom (yay, Mom!), now I just have to finish it.
- Buy race day fuel
- Do a little dance!