Friday, December 7, 2012

100Ks are awesome!

So! My first 100K! It was awesome and actually hurt much less than I expected. Though, I did start slowing down earlier than I hoped, too . . . Here is a story, told in tidbits:

Tonya and I ran the first pavement section together and chatted. It's tough to know what kind of a speed one should be running when the first half mile or so is flat pavement. As we approached the entrance to the trail, we both slowed down to let the other ahead, which made me giggle. I went for it and hopped in front. Spoiler alert - Tonya glided back by me somewhere around mile 40 and I didn't see her again until the finish.


I had a couple guys who followed close to me for the first few miles, after peaking over Enger. They weren't from Duluth and since I didn't need to look for the markers in the dark, I just knew where to go, I guess it was easier to just follow me. I had to ditch them for a bathroom break not too far in and then spent the next couple of miles trying to remind myself that it was not necessary to sprint to catch back up with them.

In related thoughts - when you stop to go to the bathroom in the dark, even if it's just kind of dark/mostly getting light, do NOT set down your turned off flashlight. Especially when it's not even your flashlight to begin with. You've stepped off the trail and it's darker in there. No worries, though, since it was getting light out, I was able to find it again after a few moments of telling myself not to panic.

While I managed to not sprint, I did still catch back up to the two guys and bounced around them. It's definitely a big advantage to be so familiar with the trails - I can think things such as, "Okay, this section is covered in leaves, but I know it's not terrible rocky/rooting so I don't have to slow down and watch footing too much."


Sometime between Haines and Highland/Getchell, I heard these fast steps gaining on me. Along comes Roberto! We greeted each other and then he loped away like a deer through the fog in front of me. He was pretty cool to watch glide away.


I've realized on longer runs lately that sometimes, I just get sick of water. I don't generally drink a sports drink but will often nab some Coke at aid stations and I think the main reason it looks so good is that it's something that's NOT water. I decided, though, to try carrying a flask of something not water, just to have a sip now and then. So I decided on ginger ale, as that could also help settle an angry stomach. Sometime after Highland/Getchell (8ish miles in), I realized my little flask was leaking all over. Yet another Nathan product that leaks terribly. How fabulous. I was, of course, heading into the longest section between aid stations (which still isn't terribly far, but still). At least once it emptied down, it stopped leaking out the top.


One of my favorite sections of in-town SHT (of which I have many, I know) is between the zoo and the stairs going either direction. It's another section that I was very happy to know that the footing would be fine under those leaves and I could just coast. The light was just amazing here, too. The sun was up but couldn't make it through the fog and everything had this gorgeous surreal glow to it. I was grinning through most of this :)

When I got to the stairs (134ish steep stairs which are down in this direction), I looked around for a nice stick. Turns out, going up the stairs is so much nicer with a good hiking stick. So I found a nice one for the way back up and stashed it at the bottom of the stairs. Not in a very smart spot, as it turns out . . .

I was also spending a decent part of this section trying to figure out if I would run into the Half Marathoners after they started. I decided I would just miss them and then figured out later that there was no way I would miss them and couldn't figure out why I never ran into them. Turns out, I had the starting time wrong for them so that would explain it and good to know for the future.


I came into the Magney Aid Station the first time (I'd see them 4 times throughout the race) to be greeted with - COWBELL! Now, I have an irrational love of cowbell during a race, so this was fabulous. Misty could also tell that I enjoyed and so she gave it a few more enthusiastic rings for me. Never enough cowbell! Also a positive - I came into the aid station from the right direction. Apparently some of the people in front of me took a wrong turn and came the wrong way. There was really only one confusing crossing for me. It was a crossing that was talked about in pre-race babble but it was still confusingly marked to me (and apparently to others since that's where they turned wrong). I was able to reason it out without too much difficulty, though.


I started seeing 50kers a lot earlier than I expected (including a guy I recognize from the trail series who was plugged into his iPod and singing along, which was amusing). I decided I wanted to cross Skyline before seeing any women 50kers and I almost made it! Just the women's leader came by me before I hit Skyline, so I figured that was okay :) I just love out and back courses - it's so fun to see everyone. With Wild Duluth, the 50kers start at the 100K turnaround so we get to see all of them, too, so even more fun.


I beat my crew to the Munger aid station. This, of course, being one of the times when I needed more e-gel. Happily, he drove up just as I was trying to decide if I should grab the Hammer gel Molly was offering! And I seem to have only mentioned my awesome crew in terms of where he almost missed me, which simply won't do. My friend Jeremy came up from the Cities just to drive around back roads for 18 hours for me. He's pretty awesome. This is a race that doesn't really need a crew - the aid stations are well spaced, there are drop bag options, and the volunteers are, of course, awesome and helpful. However, I like having crew. It's nice to not have to worry about the number of gels you have or dig/search for a drop bag and then dig in the drop bag. It's also nice for things like switching from a water pack to a hand held - which I did for the middle 14 miles. It was nice to get the pack off my back since I was getting hot with it on and didn't want to shed a layer of clothes. Plus it's just nice to get weight off of your back. I'll have to continue to remember this.


I caught back up to Roberto after the Munger aid station. Which worried me a bit - was I running too fast? I'd wondered this a couple times previously but mostly came up with the same thing - I could tell I was still holding back some but was running a nice, comfortable pace so that must be the pace I should be going.


When the Superior Hiking Trail crosses the four wheeler trail right before the Voyageur course is when we got off the SHT and started on the detoured part of the course for 10 miles or so. Very shortly, we joined back up with the Voyageur trail and headed for the river crossings - three of them. Well, one river (creek, that is. Mission Creek) crossed three times. I decided ahead of time that it would probably be worth taking the time to step on rocks to keep my feet dry and happily, that turned out be very do-able and easy.


The only time my stomach was annoyed the whole race was while running down the flat DWP trail. It was probably the shock of suddenly running a consistent speed! I had caught up to Kevin Mackie coming out of the Skyline/Becks aid station and we ran together and chatted for a while. I let him go ahead and a bit later - BAM out of nowhere I'm dry heaving. Luckily, Lisa had given me some ginger chews to experiment with. I dropped to a walk, popped one of those, and maybe a minute later tried running again and was fine! It was fabulous! I will now have those things on me at all times!


As Ron and I crossed paths, he told me this fabulous rumor that the turnaround had soup! I was very excited for some soup! Yum. Yum. Yum. Time for soup. And then I got to the turnaround and completely forgot to ask for it. Ooops. However, I did have a happy surprise waiting for me - Jeremy had somehow managed to get Kyle to come out. Granted, he didn't look too happy about it, but it was nice to see him anyway and he got a sweaty hug. Even more shocking was seeing him a second time - at my last time through the Magney aid station. Thanks for coming out, husband!


Downhill was starting to be a bit painful now. Not a good sign since I was but halfway through but . . . onward! I also did a lot of walking on the DWP on the way back. This is where I decided that an all flat ultra would be no fun because you feel just plain silly walking a flat. I had some bikers head by me while I was walking. Then I would run some, and walk some, and run some, and I walked through the tunnel since it is all dark and lit by glowsticks (and a hidden Halloween motion detector noise maker which for some reason didn't spook me the first time by). Only to find the same group of bikers sitting on the trail and watching me walk by. I felt like reassuring them that I hadn't been walking this whole time when they asked how far I was going. When they passed me again, I had just finished walked across the last railroad bridge and though I started running after the bridge (which is rather sketchy and not so runnable at that point) I again felt like calling out to them "Look! I'm running now! I haven't been walking this ENTIRE time! Really!" I restrained myself, though :)


Tonya passed me strongly in the next section. I had pulled over to water some leaves and on by she zoomed. I thought I might pull her back in but while my uphills stayed strong, my downhills only got worse so away she continued to zoom :)

Since this was my second bout of leaf watering in a very short period of time, I dug out the wet wipes and have now discovered the (mostly) joy of wet wipes instead of leaves. Next is to search for ones without alcohol and that's all I'll say about that particular topic. . .


Somehow, coming into the Munger aid station, I was all confused and thought I was not making the Munger cut off for some reason. After several minutes of worry, I was able to solve the problem by LOOKING AT MY WATCH. Seriously. This all started because I thought it was much later in the day than it actually was but did I take that first moment of worry to check my watch? Heavens, no. First I stressed for a while. Then I double checked the card I wrote aid station distances and cut offs on. THEN I checked my watch and coming into the aid station, I was three hours ahead of the cutoff. Awesome. No need to worry about that.

Also awesome? It was time to pick up my pacer! I was chanting the list of things I needed to do in my head (and out loud once I came into the aid station), so I didn't forget anything - gloves, gel, body glide, flashlight, not necessarily in that order. I was super worried about forgetting something and while I seemed to have lost my gloves some time during the day, I had packed mittens, too, and so all was good. Time to head up Ely's Peak! Let me tell you - that was something I had been a little worried about ahead of time. Silly me. I was SO EXCITED to head up. Uphill felt great and I was excited to have Marcus with me and excited to head uphill I think I bounced out of that aid station.


Coming over Ely's Peak, there were two high school kids walking around off the trail and singing Phantom of the Opera at the top of their lungs. I don't think they saw us running along and so I sang the next line back to them, which seemed to startle them a bit but I enjoyed it :) The song was then stuck in my head for the next while . . .


Part of what was awesome about Wild Duluth for me is that I knew someone working at almost every aid station. Not only does it make them fun and more comfortable, but you have a new way of mentally going from aid station to aid station - only 2 miles and then I get to see Wayne! Again!


A good thing I learned was that I am not someone who needs to beware the chair. I sat down at Munger to dig through my bag and it was quite comfy and it was no problem getting back up. I was actually really looking forward to being able to sit at aid stations from then on while I guzzled some soup and I had no trouble with getting myself going again. This is good to know! I did, however, avoid any cozy looking campfires, since those DID seem like a bad idea. If I was getting cold, it was clearly time to eat on the move and get going.


Wild Duluth is before Halloween. Which means the Timber Twister at Spirit Mountain has this haunted ride thingy going on. So here we are, running nicely through the woods in the dark among people randomly screeching their way down the hill. Not scary but definitely strange.

Have I mentioned how downhills sucked? It's strange to go through the "W" of the SHT and be excited for the uphills . . . I was telling myself "Okay, only two more downhills left. Except there's that one right before 40th. Three left. Wait, you have to come down off of Piedmont Knob, too. Time to stop counting."

We came to the stairs and I immediately saw that my suspicions from earlier were true - my carefully dropped stick was nowhere to be found. Completely expected since I had dropped it right in front of the direction sign . . . I had realized that was a silly place to put it back when I dropped it there but wasn't going to turn around and move it. It was just as well, though - I was doing uphills just fine so someone who needed it more than me was able to use it.


Right before the 24th Avenue aid station, there were these lovely tin luminaries set along the trail. Quite nice in the dark and they made me smile. Or that could have been the joke Marcus was cracking at the time. We'll go with both.


Somewhere in here I reminded Marcus that I had run up to Enger at every Wild Duluth thus far and he was supposed to remind of that later. Of course, once we got there, I found I didn't so much care, even though two guys came zooming by us and Marcus tried to get me interested in chasing them back down. I decided I need to save my strength for going DOWN the hill. So by now I'm just moving slow in general as opposed to just moving slow on downhills. And downhills were just plain no good. You don't want to know how long that last 3 mile section took me. In fact, apparently, Marcus was laughing at my poor shaking legs! Punk. The happy news is that mostly, it was my IT bands that were weak super early on and that is so very fixable.


Coming over the bridge over the highway, my brain heard a familiar sound but didn't really register it. As we turned the corner and came down the ramp, however, I realized that there was a train coming at us. A train. At whatever middle of the night time it was (somewhere around midnight). And we had to cross railroad tracks and there was NO way in hell I was going to stand there and wait so . . . time to speed up. Turns out we made it to the tracks well before the train and didn't have to worry about it at all. In any case, the trail turned out to be only a single engine chugging along (at midnight? What was it doing?) so it's not as though it would have been a big deal, anyway.


Once we hit the sidewalk, I decided I needed to run the rest of the way in. After all, it was flat - right? My ability to do this clearly indicates that I could have lugged myself up Enger while running and I shouldn't have worried that it would make the downhill worse. I even picked the pace up a little coming into the finish. Waiting for me was the cruel taskmaster who kept making my night happy by showing up at all the aid stations. And here she was, demanding a heal click jump across the finish line. I obliged. Sort of. It felt like a great leap to me, anyway, though I didn't even try for a heal click and I probably got MAYBE a couple inches off the ground. Then I gave Lisa a nice sweaty, tired hug for being out there for me.

Finished!!! Slower than I wanted but happy and Kim gave me my awesome finisher hat, which I now wear everywhere.

Lisa then led me into the building to get warm. Where I was greeted by applause from those who had already finished and were still hanging out. I have to admit, that was pretty cool. I was already grinning from finishing but now I just kind of stood there and grinned more. I also got to pass it on to those who came in after me and it was fun to watch others enter to applause, too.

I really enjoyed this race. The 100K distance is pretty great and I'm sad there aren't more of them around. I also currently live in my hoodie since it's awesome and comfy and I'm damn proud of it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick update

I apologize - I won't have time to do a good report on my first 100K until I get back from deer hunting next weekend.

But, it was fabulous! I had a ton of fun and I love the 100K distance. I slowed down a lot more than I wanted due to the inability to advance downhill with anything resembling speed but that was simply due to weak muscles - so fixable!

A more proper report (though most likely more of a highlights reel) to follow next week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Here comes my first 100K!

So here we are, two weeks out from Wild Duluth. I signed up for the 100K mostly because that was sort of my plan earlier in the year. I've been a bit nervous since - in not really feeling ready. I haven't raced an ultra at all yet this year (though I have done training runs over 26 miles) since I was focused on Fargo in the spring and then was injured all summer and doubt, doubt, doubt. So I just finished a series of 20ish mile runs - Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday whose purpose was mostly to remind myself that I was going to be okay. Yesterday, my legs were tired during the run but not crazy so and not right from the beginning and I felt pretty good overall. I wasn't sore or tight or overly tired afterwards (well, I was super sleepy but not leg tired). I have a crew (friend from the Cities!), I have a pacer (Marcus!), and now I just have to spend the next two weeks being calm, not being stupid, and getting those calves to be not crazy tight. And get my Nathan back. Have I whined about my Nathan, yet? I finally bought a new hydration pack this summer and then promptly got injured. So I wasn't able to use it all that often. In fact, pacing Marcus was my second time wearing it with water, I believe. It's a mostly great thing - I LOVE having pockets in front and the bladder is much easier for people to fill, both big reasons for switching from my Camelback. Just one problem with mine . . . it leaks. Horribly and instantly. I spent the entire time pacing SOAKED and at the finish I was very excited to change into dry pants. No problem, though, I brought it back to be sent in for a new one. Only, it's on backorder right now. It's due in anytime, though, so as long as I get it back before Friday the 19th, I'm good.

I've had some really pretty runs on the trails lately. The colors on the shore have been just amazing - I wish cameras could capture it better. Yesterday, I came over a hill (by myself at this point) and looking down was a stand of maybe 8 year old maple trees. They were all a beautiful red and since they were younger, they were still sparse and you could see through one tree to the next and it was just gorgeous. It's too bad the leaves will pretty much be gone in two weeks during the race - both for pretty-factor and because that means all those lovely leaves will be filling the trail and hiding rocks/roots/etc.

In other super exciting news - I made it back to Boston!! I was telling myself that it was okay to not get in, that I really wasn't all that excited about it, and there's even another race that weekend that I'd like to do. I even almost convinced myself. Clearly, the way I was haunting the Boston website at 4:00 the Friday registration ended betrayed what I really felt . . . Now follows Boston registration babble so feel free to skip if you aren't interested: So the way the registration works now is that running a Boston Qualifying time doesn't necessarily guarantee you a spot, anymore. A couple years ago, Boston filled up in 8 hours so they revamped the process to not be first come first served - now registration opens the first week on Monday for people who have beat their time by 15 minutes. Then by 10 minutes on Wednesday and 5 minutes on Friday. The next week, anyone else who has qualified can register during. It stays open all week and at the end of the week, if too many people have registered, then they accept the runners from that week based on who beat their BQ time by the most. Last year, you had to beat your time by 1:14 in order to get in. However, this year, they made the qualifying times 5 minutes faster and got rid of the 'grace minute' (ie, you had to run UNDER 3:35, 3:35:xx no longer counts). Anyway, I had no idea when to expect an announcement but then someone pointed out that if they announced that registration would re-open the next week, that had to mean everyone who already registered was in and it didn't fill - right?


So the short of it was that registration is STILL open now and I'm heading to Boston again next April! There's actually a pretty decent Duluth contingent going, so that'll be neat. I plan for that to be my last road marathon for a while - what a while means, I'm not sure yet. Just a year? A few years? It doesn't really matter, just that I have some other races to focus on and trying to throw in a road marathon musses with training.

But for now, it's my first 100K time! Which means watching (re: obsessing over) the weather soon, packing/figuring out a bag for my crew to lug around, getting directions for my crew (both driving directions to aid stations and directions about what I'll need), figuring out what I want to wear, etc . . .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In which I regain my title or . . .

. . . in which neither Rochelle nor Marlo showed up and so I was able to win the Port Wing Fall Festival 10K again. Whichever :) But hey, like my teammate's dad told me in high school - you can only race the people who show up, right? I actually almost didn't do the race. I ran 15 miles the day before and was worried about messing with me knee. Except, as I was talking to Leslie in a run earlier in the week, I realized that mostly I was worried about not being as fast as I wanted to be. Which is a stupid reason to not do a race, especially a race I want to support, so I did it. I started out super conservative and picked it up a bit as I went, let a guy push me to a 7 minute mile in the middle and finished feeling good. The roads were not great to run on since they had just re-graveled it due to some rain damage so the footing was lousy but my knee had no issues with it. It was fun to win, even if my time wasn't all that spectacular. Then I had two pieces of pie. Yum. But seriously, guys, I had no business winning with that time so I better see some more people there next year!


The next weekend I spent pacing a friend through the woods of the Sawtooth 100 mile. After work Friday night, I headed to Finland to hopscotch/help crew until my pacing duties started around Cramer for the last 26 miles. So, way back when, post-injury, pre-night run, I was going to pace for 30 miles. Then I did that night run and realized I'd be doing a disservice to Marcus if I tried to keep up for 30 miles since I just wasn't in that shape yet. So I figured on 15-20. Then various events led to me doing the last 26, which was close enough, right? Marcus' parents then arrived at Finland and let me know Marcus was ready for company so I suited up and jumped on board for the next 12 mile section. His brothers then took over for the next two legs and then I brought him in to the finish for 38 miles for me. Sounds so easy, huh? We were moving a lot slower than Marcus wanted to go, which is the only reason I could stay with him. I became rather possessive towards the end and wanted to keep behind my runner the whole way. So the most important outcome, Marcus finished his first 100 mile and beat the sun, finishing in the light. I'm very proud of "my" runner - a lot of you know he got the cursed Sawtooth Shin and every step was painful with the added mental pain of the legs working fine otherwise. So I got a good lesson in being tough which will serve me well next year. And maybe even in a few weeks since I seem to have signed up for the Wild Duluth 100K . . . More on that later.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


You should all be very proud of me, because I'm rather proud of myself. I've been very careful with upping my mileage and with easing out of the brace. I haven't upped mileage more than I should and I've been smart about transitioning to braceless.

Well, smart about mileage uppage until a couple weekends ago, anyway . . .

See, I have two friends (Lisa and Marcus) who are both running their first 100 mile at Sawtooth. We'd been planning an overnight run on the Superior Hiking Trail for a while and I'd been very excited about the idea and now, here it was - time to run it! My previous long run had gotten up to 11 miles - woot. So I was originally planning on going 15-16, a reasonable jump. However, it turned out that we were planning on starting in a different spot than I thought, which meant that I'd be stopping just before the Sonju section. The section so many people complain about and that I really wanted to see. It meant running just under 24 miles instead of 15ish, but hey, we'd be going slow so I'd be fine, right? Silly Sam.

It was a fabulous run for most of it. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the stars were amazing. It was funny coming to what you knew to be a beautiful overlook just to see a black drop off into nothingness.

I made it about 20 miles just fine. And then my legs realized that I was more than doubling their mileage. And then we got to this little sign near when we should have been done. A sign which indicated we had 2.5 more miles to go since we didn't park in the parking lot . . . Since I had just spent the last mile convincing my poor legs that they only had to go one more mile it was rather a shock. The last section was a slow crawl and I felt bad for slowing down Lisa and Marcus who still had another 12 miles to go once they dropped me. I kept trying to make them go in front of me so they could hit the car and do their aid station stuff while I was following but it was a no-go. So that made for a total of 26.something miles. Oops.

I did learn that it wasn't a problem staying up all night while moving. Of course, how that works out when I've already been moving for 12 hours and have much more to go when it gets light again I don't know yet . . .

I have more to talk about, but we'll save that for later so that I actually get this one posted.

Up next is pacing Marcus at Sawtooth this weekend. I know a ton of people running it (extra good luck to Marcus, Lisa, and Christi in their first go at it) and so good luck to everyone! Exactly when/how far I'll be pacing is still up in the air, but I'll see people out there, and I'll be at the finish. Good luck everyone! And to those doing one of the many OTHER races this weekend, too.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Four Weeks Out

It's been a solid four weeks and knee healing is going well. What I wanted to do was make my doctor sit down and write me out a get-back-to-training schedule complete with when and how to transition back to my single track trails. Sadly, that is not quite his job. I'm likely to err on the side of caution for a while and then suddenly jump back in so I need to be careful of that.

So I started with just a bit of running (my allotted two miles at a time)and all was well. I also started biking to work again. I biked to work a couple of times this spring and loved it enough to invest in good commuter tires so my mountain bike is now my commuter bike. I quit for a time, though, when I realized how dead it made my legs and this was soonish before Fargo so I didn't want to mess anything up. Really, though, it's amazing how fast it took for my legs to NOT get tired. I can now bike almost every hill involved (there's a couple of nasty hills between me and work, including getting up to Skyline) and while my legs are tired, they aren't completely done in by the time I get home. I don't bike every day, yet as Kyle and I carpool a some days, too.

Last week, I ran a 5K! Nothing too serious - just an uptempo pace from what I had been running but not too hard. I told Lisa I wouldn't go around her and she yelled at me a few times but kept me to what I said :) I'm getting sick of tiny runs, though, and getting I-haven't-run-long-in-ages grumpy and so upped to a whopping 5 miles on Saturday, which turned out to be just over 5 miles and even better - all on trails. Started out on ski trails and moved on to a fairly non-technical single track (for the SHT) and it all felt fine.

Voyageur is this weekend. I won't be running it, in the interest of not re-tearing things and messing things up more. My goal now is Wild Duluth 100K. I will be working Voyageur, though, so good luck to everyone and I'll see you out there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Went to my followup appointment today and had good news! Dr. Sudoh thinks my meniscus is healing itself! There wasn't any bad pain today after my run yesterday, which is great. So the focus now is to make sure I don't mess anything up since I can still tear it worse if I give it another good yoink right now. I'm allowed to hit the crosstraining hard (which I guess means biking at this point . . .) and ease back into running, keeping off technical for a couple of weeks. If the pain doesn't keep going away or increases, then it's back in for an MRI. I've been kind of . . . proud isn't the right word but maybe happy? Anyway - about this injury not being something that I really caused. Even though I hate random acts of injury since there's nothing you can do to prevent them and I like to have control over my body, it was nice to know that I didn't personally mess anything up. But, turns out that there's something I can do to help it not happen again, so I guess in a way, it was sort of caused by myself. I have muscles that are very weak, which I've KNOWN and I need to be vigilant about working on strengthening them. My knees want very badly to turn in a lot and I need to get various muscles strong enough to keep things straight. So, that means my thoughts of Sawtooth are on hold until next year but it should mean that I can finally earn that coveted hoodie on October 20. The big question - is it silly of me to be thinking about the Voyageur 50 mile in two and a half weeks? The thing is, with the flooding damage and Jay Cooke State Park being closed, the course is different this year and only for this year and I want to be part of that. However, it's probably not worth messing up my knee, requiring surgery, and being out for several months, right? I'm already registered so perhaps I just wait until closer to the race and see how my knee is then.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Down for the Count

So, two weeks ago, I did a recon run with a small group to check out how the Voyageur trails fared after the Duluth flood. The answer being not great in many places but just fine in others and we had a great time checking things out and having our minds blown at the destruction in some places. However, since it took us 5 hours to go 14 miles, a few of us decided to head up the shore Sunday and get a long trail run in that would allow us to actually run for most of it, as opposed to slogging through knee deep mud :) The four of us arranged a point to point run and headed off. So there I was, running along behind Marcus. We just finished a technical downhill, bouncing between rocks and roots and I was at the bottom, coming off of a boardwalk into a small mud hole. Where my left foot went down, slid, twisted and just like that I felt things move in my knee that shouldn't be moving and watched my trail running flash before my eyes. I ended up clutched to a small Popple tree on the side of the trail while Lisa tried to convince that I should try taking a step. No way, I said! Steps not necessary! I'll just stay here with my new best friend, Mr. Tree. She did eventually convince me to try a step. I could move so nothing was terribly out of place (say, a torn ACL or the like). But I wasn't moving well or quickly (ie, very gimpy and painfully). After 30-40 minutes of walking, I knew I wasn't running out of there but at least there was a place for me to bow out early and head to Tettegouche. Of course, that ended up being an additional 8 miles, but there wasn't really another feasible way out. Happily, after that initial bout of walking, I could do a sort of ultra-shuffle for most of the rest of the way and Shane was nice enough to hang out with me in what was probably a painfully slow but too fast to walk pace. We also managed to botch where we were supposed to cut down off the trail and did a few more miles than was probably necessary. Oops. I iced it a ton on the ride back and stuff seemed okay. I was barely limping by the time we headed home. And then came Monday! I couldn't bend my knee the entire way (turns out that was due to lots of swelling) and things just felt wrong so I was easily convinced to make an appointment to see a specialist (Dr Kenji Sudoh is amazing, by the way). Fearful internet googling had me convinced I had a meniscus tear and I was not excited to head in to a doctor but knew it needed to be done as this was something that trying to push through could make drastically worse. Dr. Sudoh confirmed that nothing super, crazy serious was wrong (no ACL tear, no broken bone from the previous weeks fall that was exacerbated by the twist, yay!) but also said the best bet was a meniscus tear. First prescription was for rest, a fancy hinged knee brace (surprisingly comfortable), and some strengthening exercises once the swelling was gone. I had permission to try running in a week IF the swelling and pain were both gone and then no more than 2 miles. We made a follow up appointment for two weeks. If a tear is small enough and in the right place, it can heal itself and show significant improvement in that time. If not, other things like surgery could be required but we didn't talk about that much and he said he wasn't ruling Voyageur out for me quite yet. Of course, I was just about to head on my week long vacation in Bozeman. So much for all that glorious trail running . . . He didn't specify, but I presumed that my 2 miles was to be more on a flat, even surface rather than a mountain trail. Bummer. I did get a decent amount of hiking in, though. Nothing over 4 miles at a time (or was the longest 5? I can't remember) but we went out a couple times a day. I elliptical-ed once for just over 10 minutes before the knee started feeling weak and I decided to call it there. The one time I "ran" (maybe a quarter mile down the trail during one of the hikes) it did bad things so I didn't try again and stuck to hiking. It turns out swimming also makes it uncomfortable. I didn't get to try biking since the bike rack wasn't behaving with the rental car. I'm pleased with my ability to not push it too much (even if that meant I couldn't carry my favorite nephew much!). So I have my two weekend appointment tomorrow. I did try running today and that went well! I did my full allotted two miles with basically no pain. I stopped a few times to adjust the tightness on the knee brace (which is sort of awkward to run with so it'll be good when that's gone) and once to stretch my crazy tight calves. It's as though I haven't run for two weeks or something . . . So we'll see how it feels tomorrow morning and what the doctor thinks. Running today seems like a good sign. I'll let you know what I find out!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

So first up is a big thank you to my friend Kevin (and husband my my training buddy Kelly). He acted as chauffeur on Fargo marathon weekend and was gracious (most of the time) in our sometimes incessant running talk. Thanks, Kevin!

After stopping to pee more times than you want to know, we made it to Fargo, parked in the dorm parking lot, and walked over to check me in. The NDSU students were super friendly and they brought me to a room on the second floor, pretending to find my joking about doing stairs funny, as though they hadn't heard it all day long :) Then it was time to head over to the dome. One block away!

We had time before the 5K started (we had two friends running it, one looking to win, so we wanted to watch) and so we bought pasta tickets and headed up the stairs for food. This was possibly the least impressive part of the weekend - the pasta was pretty good but spicy! Who serves spicy pasta before a marathon? No sauceless options and small portions for people who are going to run a marathon tomorrow. I went back for seconds and carried it around while watching the 5K, but it sure looked like not many people were comfortable with asking for seconds - it wasn't really laid out in a seconds friendly way. There was lefse too, though, which was fabulous.

Heading back out into the heat was gross - it was 95 degrees in Fargo! 95. Ew, ew, ew, I was so glad we weren't running Friday. Stepping outside made my stomach not so interested in the bowl of hot pasta I was lugging about, but I made myself eat since I knew I was still hungry. After cheering for the 5K (Our friends did awesome! Way to rock the heat Amanda and Gary!), we checked out the expo. It was surprisingly very small and I didn't find much to be interesting. Except when I saw these. I don't think this was the particular company who was there but a quick google search for "Runner Medal Hanger" gets several hits. How have I not see these before? They're brilliant! I almost bought one but held out - rarely is buying something on impulse at an expo a good idea. There's a quote from Bingham's Marathoning for Mortals "I'm convinced that the only reason the big events have expos on race weekends is because organizers know that the participants will spend massive amount of money on stuff they don't need and won't use. How else do I explain my 17 pairs of cotton gloves?" So I resisted. I did buy a Runner Girl sticker to replace the one that has long since peeled off my water bottle, though. Besides, I have something to use as a medal hanger, I just have to move it from it's spot in the basement and into my sewing/computer/running room. After the expo, it was already time to head to bed. Or rather, time to head back to the dorm and start getting ready.

My room had two twin beds and there being just one of me, I used the second bed to spread everything out for tomorrow and make sure all was accounted for and ready. Including all those warm clothes that I knew I probably wouldn't need but figured I'd put in my bag just in case it rained and I was cold at the end. Then it was just time to put comfy pajamas on, read a little to relax (re-reading the race brochure as though the info was different from the website info that I'd already read 200 times . . .), set my alarms, and head to bed. I had realized the night before that I always use my watch for an alarm on race morning. My watch which is slowly dying and doesn't reliably sounds it's alarm . . . That could be a problem. And then I realized that hey, I have a cell phone! Lots of people use their phones as alarms so my phone must have an alarm, right? It does! So first I sent my watch alarm and then I set my phone alarm. I thought about having Kelly call me, as well, but decided against it. I slept quite well, waking up once when I swear I heard my door handle jiggle (and I did! The women the next door over confided in me after the race that she accidentally tried to get in my room) and once at 11:30 or so when there was a nice thunderstorm. I ended up waking up before my alarms went off so no need to be worried.

Race morning seemed nice. It was a little tough to tell from inside my room, but my window open felt nice. I took my time eating, getting dressed, packing my bag, and putting sunscreen on. When Kelly showed up, we walked on over to the start. Walked. I can't tell you how awesome it was to just take a little stroll on over! Though, I was shocked at how much FURTHER it was on the way back. Seriously. They added at least another block in the middle of things while we were running. At least. An engineering marvel to be sure. There's no other explanation.

Things weren't very crowded in the starting area. Kelly and I wandered over to the port-a-potties and walked right in, no line. We then debated about hats - I tend to always race with mine on and there was possible rain which makes a hat nice. But the wind! The monstrous flag strung between two construction cranes was straight out. Straight out! So we both decided that a hat would be more hassle than it was worth. I stuffed mine into my already stuffed bag (which is funny since most people had hardly anything in their bags) and after ditching my bags on the right truck, we wandered into the starting corrals (also not very crowded)and ran into Shane. Our pace group was alarmingly close to the front. Or rather, the place where our pace group SHOULD be since our pacer didn't seem to be there yet . . . A bit worrisome.

She eventually showed up and we sat through an intro speech. And another intro speech. And a speech from a guy running the marathon blindfolded to raise money for the degenerative eye disease he had. And a speech from the governor, complete with lame "I'm not a runner" jokes. And then the Canadian National Anthem. And the Star Spangled Banner. And then a prayer (and not a generic prayer, either). By that point, I was ready to just start running, to heck with waiting for the actual start. Finally then gun actually went off and on we went.

I have a general rule of keeping weaving around people to one half of the road so that I don't find myself zigzagging too much but that wasn't needed all that much since we were so close to the front. However, despite that, I have still yet to be able to find myself in the start video . . . I was a bit alarmed at the starting pace, though. It felt hard and fast. Your first mile shouldn't feel hard and fast it should feel easy and I was trying to decide what to do when I made myself calm down and wait two miles before deciding anything. Turns out that first mile was too fast for the pace we were supposed to be doing and once we got going, I felt fine, anyway.

My biggest beef with the race? Our pacer was TERRIBLE. She was all over the place. We should have been doing 7:49s for a 3:25 finish time. We started with a 7:41, 8:03, 7:40, 8:01, 7:36. This continued the whole race. She came in right on time, so her under/overs evened out but it was ridiculous and not the way to efficiently run. I eventually did my best to ignore her and just use her as a general guideline. So I'd find myself half a block back and not much later starting to pass her. Ugh. Do not become a pacer if you can't pace. This doesn't mean looking at your GPS watch from time to time only you forget to actually do so. This means actually being able to internally pace. For what it's worth, she also asked open ended questions instead of talking to the group.

The Fargo course involves tons of turning - sometimes every block. I actually really liked this (until the end) because I was always looking ahead at where the crowd went and lining up my tangents and it was a nice distraction. Of course, there would inevitably be some silly runner who didn't get tangents getting in my way, but I didn't let it bother me :)

The crowd support at Fargo is pretty awesome most of the way. Everyone is out on their lawn cheering and there's lots of signs and music. Bands, radios, Elvis impersonators (2), bag pipes, accordions, cowbells, kids on recorders . . . It was a fun atmosphere. My favorite signs were put out by Scheel's, I think. They gave you random facts like "Giraffes can lick their own eyes." Sadly, that's the only one I can remember but there were lots and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I also kept seeing people decked out in green and gold and was excited before getting closer and realizing that there were wearing NDSU gear and not Packer's gear. Bummer. Almost fooled me a couple of times, though.

After going through the first aid station, I realized I might have a bit of a problem when it came time to eat. My gel of choice is e-Gel and their packets are slightly larger than a 'normal' packet of gel, which means they take just a bit more time to get down. Not a big deal at a big marathon but Fargo's aid stations were considerably smaller than Grandma's (which is fine since there's less people). Happily, I noticed that lots of people were handing out bottled water and even more happily, at just the right place (twice!) I found some. So I took a bottle and took my time eating, drank some, ate some, drank some, poured some water over my head. It's even making me think that I want to carry my own water for Grandma's.

Fargo zig zags around upper Fargo for a while, heads straight south for a couple miles and then does even more zigging and zagging before heading back north. Including a brief (and aid stationless) bout in Minnesota. I was a bit bummed that they didn't make a bigger deal out of this. I sort of expected . . . I don't know what exactly but something. Instead, a lot of people didn't even notice when we crossed over, though the crowds were not as good in Moorhead. Zig-zagging in south Fargo was super complicated. Two way running traffic (on the way back, anyway. I didn't hit the leaders until no so far from the turnaround) most of the time but with some one way zigs . . . Yeah. Look at the map, it's crazy. By the time we got to southern Fargo and started the crazy zigging, I had already seen Kevin (and Amanda and Gary, the two 5ks who are rockstars) three times! The first two was general cheering but the 3rd one (mile 14.5ish?) Amanda ran along side me some, which was nice. Just checking in and seeing if I needed anything next time I saw them and letting me know I was still on pace, despite the pace group being a block in front of me. I stayed on pace through mile 19 when the wheels came off. Halfway through, there was a timing mat and a guy taking pictures. I decided to wave. Hm. Clearly heel striking there . . .

Somewhere down in south Fargo, I started heading into what the author of a blog I follow calls the hurt cave. Sort of a mix of zone out/embracing the pace/ignoring the pain status. Hard to describe but it involves a lot of staring ahead and only giving cursory notice to things around you. For the first 15 miles or so, I remember lots. After that, it starts getting rather fuzzy. I can't tell you what the mile markers looked like for sure. I see blue numbers in my head, but I'm seeing them both close to the ground and at eye level. I remember as the leader was coming at me, there were some motorcycles and a guy dressed up as Captain America riding in the back of a red pickup. I remember a guy on his lawn blaring the beginning of Eminem's Lose Yourself and being really bummed when half a block later, another band drowned it out. I remember a decent amount of my second gel ended up all over my hand but not really caring at the time and just dumping some of my water bottle over my hand to wash it off. I lost track of which mile I was at and was super bummed to come up on 18, thinking I had passed it already. Now, when you're good and truly in your pain cave, you're still cruising along and just able to push away the pain. I was on pace until mile 19 though I remember the point of breaking out of the cave being when I had to eat another gel and I couldn't quite get back in there where I needed to be.

I remember turning a corner somewhere and going by a drumming circle. Kelly tells me of an awesome sign that I missed right before it, though. I remember next to nothing about running through downtown (which is the picture here) except somewhere in there was a women in a red chair and a gray sweatshirt who started yelling, "You go, girl!" several times at me. That felt pretty cool. In here it took every ounce of concentration to not just take a quick walking break. Just a few steps, my body said, that's all. Don't ever believe you body when it whispers to you like that. I was convinced I had slowed to a crawl but knew that running forward was much faster than walking forward and I might not be getting a 3:25 (which, surprisingly didn't bother me at all) but I was going to keep going. Also surprising was that I wasn't even considering 3:30, 3:35, I wasn't really thinking of time at all beyond knowing I had to keep running.

Turned another corner and there was Gary running alongside me, asking how I was doing. I told him something like "Ungh" and he responded with the best words ever - "You're supposed to feel "ugh" at this point. I can't tell you how much that helped to keep me pushing through.

Shane caught me at mile 21.5ish. He had been running a similar pace as me for the first several miles before dropping back until now. He proceeded to beat me by 4 minutes so he was going a minute per mile faster than me at that point.

I didn't eat my third gel. I can't entirely tell you why but I think a lot of it was not wanting to spare any thought for something that wasn't moving forward. I felt like I was really picking the pace back up (I was some, but not nearly as much as I thought). When I hit three miles left, I looked at my watch (I hit the lap button every mile so I know my mile splits) and instead of seeing the lap time, for some reason my eyes caught the overall time, 3:06, and I realized if I just ran faster than 10 minute miles (this from 7:49s earlier!), I could still run a PR. Still, no real thought about that fact that that meant no Boston time. A bit later, I remembered the .2 but decided not to worry about it.

With two miles left, I couldn't think about it in terms of miles, even that close. It was still too far. So I thought about it in terms of minutes. I could be tough for 16 minutes (that I wasn't quite back to 8 minute miles wasn't important). Somewhere between miles I dropped that to being tough for 12 more minutes and then 8 more minutes when I hit the mile left. Maybe a half mile from the finish, the 3:35 pacer caught up with me. He was happy and supportive. I registered his presence mostly as a means to keep pushing. There was a girl next to me who was freaking out that he caught up. She wanted her BQ and was crying and freaking out that she couldn't possibly keep the pace to the finish. Even though we could SEE the dome. Even though freaking out was using way more energy then just running forward would use. I'll admit that part of my speeding up was to get away from her and it was here that I started thinking that every second counts (because of how Boston qualification is done now). I hope she got her time, though. She reminded me of me not so very long ago and I'm actually quite proud of how I stayed together when the wheels fell off. No drama, no freaking out, no fretting, just putting the head down and going. This one was really hard and even though I slowed way down, I came through with a 2 minute (almost to the second) PR and a BQ by 34 seconds for a 3:34.24.

If you go here, you can see me cross the finish line (and the 12 mile point) should you want to for some reason. Shane met me just after I crossed the finish and we got our medals and headed to the food tables. No thermal blankets! Now, I get that we finished inside but still, I needed one! We separated for a bit as I sat down on the end of the food table and then wandered toward the finish line thinking to watch Kelly finish. Only I only made to as far as a random chair in the middle of the floor. Then I sat down. Only that hurt so I tried laying on the floor. Which also hurt so I sat back up on the floor. And then I was stuck until Shane came across me again and helped me up. We wandered over to bag pickup and Shane got to witness my post hard marathon pain induced stumbling. After making sure I'd be okay, he headed back to the dorms and I waited for Kelly, whose knee pain made her ease way back so she could save her race for Grandma's. Then it was time for Kevin, Amanda, and Gary to witness my post hard marathon induced shivering and be amused at my attempts to put on pants on my own.So, I'm happy with my Fargo. It wasn't the time I was going for but it was a two minute PR and a Boston Qualifying time so it's tough to not be happy with that. It's sad that you can't be instantly excited with a BQ time, now, but I've been reading that people think that if you run your time, period, you should be fine for the initial registration. Who these people are and how they know these things I'm not sure but I'll go with it.

In any case, I recommend Fargo and would do it again, were I so inclined to do more road marathons. For now, it's time for Grandma's and then back to trails!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quick Fargo update

I ran a two minute PR and came in with 3:34.24! Full report to follow!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fargo Tracking

Okay! My bib number is 286 and if you go here on race day, you can track me. Race starts at 8:15 am. Temps are looking better all the time - says high of 72 with thunderstorms. Weather Underground updated this afternoon to a high of 70. SSW winds = perfect! I'm chomping at the bit and ready to go and I love running in the rain! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend - let's tear it up!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fargo in 5.

T minus five days! Now, I go away for the weekend and the weather forecast jumped up 10 degrees. What's with that? Right now it's sitting at a high of 79, breezy, and a chance of thunderstorms. Like I try to always say this closer to race time - perfect! We're still a decent amount of time away, weather prediction wise, though. It does bring up a slight hesitation, as their water stop spacing is far from spectacular. At least, according to the race map. The map shows water at 4.25ish, 6.4ish, 8.25ish, 10.5ish, 12, 14, 16, 18 (yay, normal!). Then nothing until 21.4ish, then another at 22.5ish and nothing after that. There is, however, another spot on their website where they just list the aid stations. This listing is a more normal every two miles starting at mile three and every mile starting at 21. That's a pretty major difference in aid stations . . . So I'm contemplating bringing a handheld - either a normal size (so big!) or my tiny one (so small!). But, first things, first - I asked them if the map or the listing is correct. If the listing is right, then I won't need to bother with my own water but if the map is right and it's warm out, my own water might be good. Of course, in this day of instant gratification, I want my answer now! I don't want to wait until the next business day which is when a response will probably (hopefully) come. Whine.

It looks as though there is runner tracking, though that also confuses me a bit. You go here. And maybe only on race day it gives you the option of the Fargo race? And it looks like a map thing so not something that sends you text or email updates.

I'm ready for the race, now! I had a good race at Western Waterfront - tried to focus on pushing it just a little without full out racing it. There was someone in front of me that I think I could have caught had I pushed the last mile harder, but I didn't want to leave my Fargo legs on the Western Waterfront trail I ran what felt like one of my better races there, though times aren't comparable since it's a little short with the new course.

5 days is a long way away! But, I still need to wash my running clothes and get packed and finalize details, so I guess time is good. I'm definitely of the type that likes to pack one of everything, just in case the weather changes dramatically. I would much rather lug things around then realize on race morning that I sure wish I brought my sleeves. Or hat.

I'm crazy busy this week - I joined a retriever training class on Tuesdays, NMTC race on Wednesday (though I won't race it, probably just run it easy), trail work Thursday (unless I'm behind on packing), leave on Friday! So I'd love to say I'll post again before I leave, but maybe not. Since I'll be home Saturday night, I'll try to post on Sunday :) If you don't track me, though, you can look up my results here if you can't wait to hear from me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Friends

So a story I haven't shared yet . . . Earlier this spring, when there was still snow, I made a couple of new friends. I was planning on running 21ish miles with Ron and Lisa was to hook up with us for the end. Unfortunately, I wasn't entirely clear in my emails about my intent to join the fun and Ron took off without me. I pulled in to the Fond du Lac parking to see Ron about two blocks up the trail. I honked my horn to no avail so I took my time changing my top layers since it was a little warmer than I thought and called Lisa to let her know I'd be behind Ron and then I headed up the trail. I more or less knew the route - up Mission Creek, up Skyline, along Skyline until dropping down to Cody Street, where we would meet Lisa and hit the DWP trail. So I headed up Mission Creek only to find some surprisingly dastardly amounts of snow. It wasn't too bad at first, I was punching through ankle deep snow and that's where I met up with my new friends. See, I kept running past where the Superior Hiking Trail crosses the Mission Creek trail when I realized no one else had been post-holing through it in front of me. I turned back and first encountered my new friends, leading the way up the Hiking Trail. Well, that's a strange way to go up Mission Creek, but okay. The snow got progressively worse as we went - knee deep and sharp on my bare ankles and legs. We were moving slow and I was sure that Ron was getting way ahead as I cursed his name for making me run through this but we kept plugging along. My new friends are twins - practically identical, though you can tell them apart if you're paying attention. They stick out in a crowd, too, with a unique look. They were great running partners - there almost any time I got lonely, showing me the way if I was unsure, and even playing a couple of tricks on me. They warned me where there was deep water under deep snow so I kept my feet more dry. Though, every once and a while, they floated on top of the snow and I followed exactly only to punch through up to my knees. They ran in a very straight line at times and bounded at others. It was downright fun on my way up Skyline (where it was closed and used as a snowmobile trail) to watch my new friends in the snow and see them take the same route through the iced spots that I took or plunge through the same mud puddle that I decided to run through. I lost my friends somewhere on Skyline after crossing Highway 2. I was worrying at this point - still no sign of Ron and I was WAY behind his predicted time to meet up with Lisa. I hoped they waited up for me since Lisa knew I was coming but I was far enough behind according to my watch that I worried they wouldn't want to wait that long. I headed down the hill only to not see my friends on the snowmobile trail. I decided they must have kept going and taken the SHT down the hill instead and I almost turned around to follow them but decided to keep going and figured we'd cross paths where the SHT goes back onto the trail I was on. But then I got to that crossing and my friends weren't there either! I was quite confused and a little sad. I spit out onto Cody Street and there was Lisa and Ron waiting for me! Turns out he was slowed down a ton by the grossness up Mission Creek, as well, and wasn't any further in front of me than he started. And on Ron's feet - my new good friends! After following Ron's footprints for so long, marveling at how we would choose the same paths through things, and seeing how they would stand out among the many footprints in the mud on Skyline, it was strange to not have them in front of me anymore. I enjoyed following along - it was almost a scavenger hunt at times to pick his prints out, especially as prints got thick close to the Magney trail head. I'll be sad when Ron gets a new pair of shoes and I make sure to say hi to my friends whenever he wears them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting excited!

So just under 5 weeks to Fargo and I'm finally excited! Actually, that's a bit of a lie since I've been getting excited for the last couple of weeks - I just haven't been writing to tell you about it :) It's been fabulous to have Kelly to run with - someone training for the same race and looking to run the same speed. Means you never really have to worry that you're slowing your training buddy down or pushing them more than they should be pushed. I've tried to stay around on more weekends than I normally would (or wait to leave until Saturday morning) simply so I can get up crazy early on Saturdays since that's when she does her long runs.

So a couple of weeks ago, we did a nice 20 miler. The first hour was slower since we were running with other people but then we ran at or below goal pace (not on purpose) for the rest! I was gabbing Kelly's poor ear off and running comfortable and was super surprised when she kept telling me the pace. And then the next day I ran a 5K in 20:58. Granted, it was an indoor (and thus flat) loop course but I had essentially no warm up, it was gross concrete, there was a bunch of weaving going on to get around people, AND it didn't feel hard at all - I was trying to keep fairly comfortable and just let my legs stretch out and work a bit. Awesome.

So that was exciting. The next weekend was a solo 21 miles that felt tougher than it should have been but this weekend was a nice 21.5 with a speed up at the end and involved some pushing through weird pain.

I'm very happy to report that the Kinvaras have been working great for me. I didn't really expect them to but I just bought my second pair - pretty overdue, I think, since my legs have been feeling flat, despite my happy reports up there - and am planning to stick with them for a bit. I'm glad they work because they're SO LIGHT that going back to 'normal' shoes would be super hard. I brought out my racing flats for the Human Race 8K only to realize that they are now just a bit heavier than my training shoes!

I also bought my first ever pair (!) of strictly trail shoes this winter and have finally gotten to test them out. New Balance 110s, I believe. They look like space shoes they're so shiny and silver. Tony over at Duluth Running Company had raved about them on his blog so I checked them out. I've only done a couple of runs in them but like them so far. They fit really nice and were comfortable right away. I might have to be careful as I don't think they have any heel to toe drop so I should probably check out the Saucony Peregrines which I've heard are the trail equivalent to Kinvara. Research to do!

I found out some interesting news tonight . . . Looks like the Fargo Marathon has switched up their pace team times, most likely due to Boston dropping their qualifying times. Though, you would think they'd change their times back when the new times were announced well over a year ago. Urgh. So now the choices for running with a pace group are 3:25 and 3:35 when my goal is 3:30. Now, I have paced myself pretty awesomely before (see towards the bottom of the link where my splits are), if I may say so myself but I was rather looking forward to shutting the brain off and just hanging on a shoulder for the race. Now, my plan was starting to be to hang with the 3:30 pace group and see if things felt good enough to pick it up later in the race. This makes me very much not want to even start with the 3:35 group. And then I worry that those 11 seconds/mile faster for the 3:25 group will be too much. My mantra for a while has been "Don't fuck up Fargo" and so it seems like a big risk to drop my goal pace by 5 minutes less than 5 weeks out . . . So there's some thinking to do, I guess.

Friday, March 2, 2012

11 weeks to Fargo!

Oh yeah. That's what winter running is like. Bad sidewalks, slushy roads, needing gaiters that aren't put on your shoes yet . . .
So I was kicked out of work early during Snowpocalypse Wednesday. Now, usually Wednesdays are for running with a group at the lakewalk. However, I didn't much feel like driving again. And it was awfully nice to have some daylight. Then again, I really wanted to check out those awesome waves. What's a girl to do?

Clearly the answer is to RUN to the lake! So I hooked up with Lisa and we headed out for much fun. Lots of high stepping through deep snow through wind that put us almost to a standstill at times. I thought my feet were getting pretty wet as we ran behind the DECC on the sidewalk and the harbor was coming over the wall and onto the sidewalk as we went through deep snow with no gaiters. . . But no. Those were not wet feet. Wet feet were when we got to the lakewalk only to find the first part of it to be more than ankle deep of ice lake water and slush. Did I mention the part where I don't have my gaiters on yet? Happily, I do have a new pair of awesome pants that are long enough to help keep some of the snow/slush out of my shoes. So we danced our way out of that and admired the lake and took some pictures (see above) and ran about half a mile out on the lakewalk before heading back. My quads were surprisingly pooped by the end from all of the high stepping.

Oh! I am happy to report that my rubbed raw skin got better quite quickly. It kind of looks as though it's plan to stay as a scar, though.

Tomorrow is 11 weeks to Fargo and I'm feeling good about where I'm at. 8 more weeks of good training before taper. I did my first long run with some mileage at pace (about 10 miles of it) and pretty much all of it was under pace. Very exciting! I'm also happy about the part where we slowed down (ran this with Kelly) for a two mile cool down. When we looked at the splits at the end (she has a fancy Garmin), we didn't really slow down much even though it felt soooo easy at the time. Have I talked about where I'm staying for Fargo, yet? I booked a dorm room since they are tons cheaper than the hotel rooms. The best part? It's a 2-3 block walk to the start and finish. Fabulous!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Raw = Painful!

Running has been going pretty awesome for me lately. Yay! I haven't been this excited about training in a long time. Actually, I guess I haven't really trained for something in several months, not since Voyageur, so that could be part of it, too. My legs are tired and it makes me super happy! I've been getting really excited for weekends so I can do my long runs. I'm really liking double longs - especially when I do them in the right order and have my road long Saturday and my trial long Sunday. I've done my 'recovery' trail long the day before the run I'm supposed to be recovering for a couple of times and for some reason, it just doesn't work as well! Now, I'm a fairly antsy person and if I stay home too many weekends in a row (generally that just takes more than one!) then I start getting antsy and want to have an adventure. But I've stayed home a few weekends in a row now and am doing fine so the double longs must be staving off the adventure needs. This makes sense since all I really need to fulfill my adventure needs is a trail run up the shore . . . Anyway, I'm happy with where my mileage is at and I'm ready to add more and excited (and scared!) for when pace specific runs start happening. I'm very, very loosely following a training plan but mostly just doing what makes sense to me. I need to start looking at tempos/repeats, though, so I'll look to the Plan for those type of things.

My body seems to be pretty happy with everything and nothing is too upset with the mileage. I think I mentioned that right after I talked about how nice and un-tight my calves were, they instantly tightened up? Well they got REALLY REALLY bad. Tear inducing bad. Having to stop and walk part way up a hill bad. So I decided on a two fold plan - drop running in Vibrams for a while (even though I'm only running in them once a week) and bring my magical Mr. Blue Thing to work with me. The combination seems to have done the trick - huzzah! And having Mr. Blue Thing hanging out in my office gets a decent amount of comments, too. My job is to do things for a ton of different people so I always have people coming and going and so far only one person has known what it was and he's not even a runner! I'm not sure where this leaves me with the Vibrams, though. I'm thinking of maybe waiting until I'm doing shorter runs on trails (right now I really just hit them longer on Sundays) and ease back into them. But how much more 'ease' can I do when I was only at 4-6 miles a week with them? Or it could be entirely that I'm stretching a ton now and Vibrams would be fine . . . It didn't take long for the crazy tight to go away, so I think I'm safe to experiment with adding Vibrams back.

So! You've all heard the manta - don't do anything new on race day, right? Well here is why - you don't want to be 12 miles in when you suddenly notice horrific random chafing that you can do nothing about. Which is what happened to me on Saturday. I rubbed very, very raw kind of just above my arm pit - a good 6 inches long and over an inch wide. Ow. This brought me to a forced three days off of running since I couldn't do a normal arm swinging motion at all - I had to hold my arm out away from my body. I guess it looked pretty funny on our hike that afternoon (you'll notice I still hiking even though I could swing my arm right). I could barely wear a shirt the rest of Saturday and Sunday, I had to wear the softest thing I owned. I probably COULD have run on Tuesday, but ended up deciding one more day to let it heal was better than running and making it really bad again and having to deal with it for a longer time. Sunday, it was all kinds of mean looking, let me tell you. I actually thought about taking a picture but decided that was a little too weird. That didn't stop me from showing it to all of my running friends, though :) I think I figured out the problem, though. My Icebreaker top has a prominent seam that matches the shape of the rawness. Now, I've worn that long plenty of times with a camel so the problem was the rest of the layers. In the first place, I thought it was colder so I wore too much (t-shirt, plus light long sleeve, plus light jacket) so I was sweaty and I had never worn that particular long sleeve with a camel and that jacket before so I think things just got twisted and caught up just right. And then rubbed for almost 3 hours. Ow, ow, ow. So that, my friends, is why you never wear new on race day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Need your help!

So back in December, Kyle and I got our third dog - this one from Animal Allies here in Duluth. We've tried very hard but he's just not working out and now we're looking for a new home for him. Why post it here, you ask? Because he's the best running buddy ever!

His name is Jake and I want so badly for this guy to go to another runner. He has so much energy! We've been doing between 4-6 miles and he treats them all: "That was a great warm-up! Let's keep going!" He'll be ready for more mileage with no problem. He runs great at your side (preferring the side away from traffic since buses and dump trucks are kind of scary) and hardly tugs. Loose dogs, leashed dogs, dogs in yards - they don't bother him a bit. He does want to check out people, so I try to run him on not crowded sidewalks/roads. He runs well when you're running WITH someone, as well.

Jake is about 4 years old and an English Setter and Brittany Spaniel mix. He's very cuddly and loves to be right next to you on the couch with his head in your lap. The two reasons we sadly can't keep him:

1) He is growl-y to our other two dogs. They are both very submissive and Jake should have figured out by now that they aren't a threat. Much of the time he's fine with them, walking alongside them with leashes and cuddling together but then he'll out of the blue have an issue - growl and bites (to grab and not to hurt). He needs to be in a house where he's the only dog since he has the need to control the situation around the other dogs. MAYBE one other dog. However, he was great with my two year old nephew over Christmas so kids don't seem to be a problem.

2) He's a runner and can't be trusted off leash unless he's in a completely fenced in area. So he must be on leash while you're running with him. He's gotten loose from us a couple of times and he's off like a shot. He comes back, though, so he might be okay in a country situation where he can be let out the door and allowed to run/wander/come back without danger of roads, etc. He Comes great within a yard or in the house but we can't break through to his brain when he senses freedom.

So. I know there's the perfect home for him somewhere. Please let me know if you are interested in getting a great running buddy and pass it along to anyone you might know who would be. I have more information for those who want it. We'll want to meet any potential owner and he won't be free (though he won't be expensive). Both of these are to make sure he gets to the right home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A bit of 2011 review.

So now I know that I'm landing 'correctly' on my feet in my new shoes. After Sunday's run, the balls of my feet were crazy sore and felt beat up. So . . . good to know, I guess? They were fine by the next day, which is also good to know. I had a couple hours on trails that were hard and icy and a couple hours on roads so lots of hard surface running. That was also the longest I've gone in my new shoes, too - I've been a combination of lazy and being careful with the new shoes for the last couple of weeks and haven't done double longs. Enough of that - the shoes aren't going to eat me and no more lazy! Really what the biggest problem usually is is that it's hard for me to do a long run when I'm not at home and so double hard to do two of them. Usually, though, I just end up sitting around for the amount of time it would have taken me to run anyway! That did NOT happen last time, though, and it was a skipped long run weekend that I was okay with since I spent much of the time trekking through the woods. This would be less of a problem if I would just stay home but I still am loving having all my weekends off and adventure calls! Luckily, I have running friends who will go on close-by running adventures with me.

My calves have also been crazy tight this week. Clearly, this is because I was just telling my friend LAST week how my Vibrams and Kinvaras weren't making my calves any tighter than usual . . . Now, I do often have super tight calves going on, so I'm not going to outright blame my greater focus on not-heel-striking, but it probably contributes. How tight, you might ask? Well, so tight it hurts to run and hurts to break to stretch and then hurts more when I release the stretch but it usually relaxes out a few miles in. Time to spend more quality time on Mr. Blue Thing! Well, mine is actually a teal/green but since the one I used in college that made me want one to begin with was blue, they are ALL Mr. Blue Thing to me. Anyway. It's an awesome thing for calf stretching and I need to be using it more often during the day than just after runs. I should possibly bring it to work, now that I think about it.

On to a different train of thought - it's time to look at last year's goals and how they ended up! Maybe what I should do is look at these halfway through the year, too, and see if I'm on track, huh?

1. Stay injury free! Success! Happiness! Yay!
2. Keep that regular weight lifting. Well, this could have been better. But it could have been a lot worse, too. I ended up dropping my gym membership when it became too "out of the way" and more expensive than it was worth. But now I have a weight room that's very accessible and so I'm getting back in the habit.
3. Get a better handle on what my stomach wants/can take during longer races. S-caps proved to be fabulous and went a good ways toward my nausea issues. Though, I continue to go through aid stations and think nothing really looks all that great and I ran Voyageur on pretty much just gels. Which was fine but I imagine much longer than 50 miles and I'll start to get sick of gels (though I went through 12 of them with minimal problems) and my body's going to want something more substantial, too. So it's a constant experiment, right? But I'm definitely on the right track, I just need to force myself to slow down at some aid stations and take a good inventory of what is there and what might look good.
4. Be comfortable with signing up for my first 50 mile and finish said 50. Complete success! I felt confident going in and I loved Voyageur. Most of the time. I'm excited to go back and even if it's disgusting hot/humid again, I think I can still improve on my time now that I know some more about how my body reacts to it.
5. I'll be setting a marathon time goal but not right now. Which was just as well since it didn't happen anyway. But I DID have my fastest Grandma's, for what it's worth. A person can't hit a fast road marathon time without some more road training time, I think. Or, at least, this person can't. Which means lots of road running for me this spring.
6. Race a road 5K so I can chip away at the PR some more - I didn't run a single road 5K last year! Oops. Forgot about that one, I guess. I didn't run a single 5K last year, not even on a trial (unless you count any NMTC runs that were around 5K. Which I don't)! Which apparently makes two years since my last road 5K. Good thing I have one already planned in April, huh?
7. Yet again, log every run! I want a yearly total! Another year, another fail at logging consistently. I have yet another method that I've been using successfully for a bit now, so I have high hopes this year. I'm also keeping track of the mileage on my shoes!

Not a bad year, goal wise. I think last year I promised a race shirt picture and never posted it? I'll do my best to get last year's version up soon - the problem is that my closet is a ridiculous mess right now. Maybe that's motivation to get it cleaned out/all my clothes put away as opposed to hanging out in laundry baskets. Last year seems so long ago! I'll have shirts from running 3 50Ks (I didn't even blog about Wild Duluth!), a 50 mile, and one road marathon along with assorted smaller races. So what's coming in 2012?

The first main race for me this year is the Fargo Marathon. Kelly and I are both going for a 3:30 and Shane will be there going for his BQ time. We're all going to blast our PRs out of the water! Next up is Grandma's, which I plan to not take too seriously. Maybe by NOT having it be my goal race, I can finally have a good time there. I also hope to perhaps be done with Grandma's for a while after this year. So I seem to be starting my year with lots of road, which wasn't entirely intentional. Fargo is the same day as the Superior 50K and the Chippewa 50K is too close to Fargo to risk. I've already signed up for a couple short road races in the spring, too! But, like I said before, my plan is to keep trails in my training, not take Grandma's seriously and look to the second half of the year for my trail races.

I feel a bit silly posting goals for 2012 when I don't pay much attention to them after I post them but here goes some that I know I'll continue to think of:
1. Run at least a 3:30 at Fargo. My BQ time is now 3:35 (rules changed since registration was getting so ridiculous) but I want a 3:30. It's a nice round number. Plus part of that registration change was that people who beat their BQ time by x amount get to register first.
2. Stay injury free!
3. Get heat acclimated at least as well as last year/don't be afraid of the heat. I kind of feel as though I don't have a right to whine about the heat anymore but I know I'll have to work at heat acclimation again.
4. See what kind of mileage my legs can handle and confidently make up my mind by June about my fall running plans and train well for whatever the plans end up to be.
5. Log. Every. Run. I'm using Google Calendar as a log, now. The good thing about this is that it emails me every night to 'remind' me of what to run the next day and that works as a reminder to log my run for the day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Finally got the rights to runsamrun and will move over from after I finalize the look, etc.