Tuesday, October 28, 2014


So! Breathing! It's a good thing, I highly recommend the practice. Especially while running.

The Monday after Kettle, I knew I needed to make an appointment and I still didn't feel quite right. The problem, of course, being that noone is going to feel quite right after 50-something miles and three hours of hyperventilating. Anyway, my doctor is awesome and she was able to fit me in right on Monday, just in case something serious was going on. Crew extraordinaire Lisa agreed to come with me, which was super helpful since she can speak doctor talk and had been there to witness what was going on during the race. The consensus there was that it sure sounded like asthma. A bizarre form of exercise induced asthma. So I was prescribed an inhaler and we scheduled a spirometry test to confirm.

I went in for that in the middle of a day. There was lots of breathing into a doo-hickie that measured the amount of air being moved. Pushing air out fast, pushing air out long, taking a quick breath in, etc, etc. Then they had me inhale a bunch of Albuterol (what the inhaler is) and do some of the tests again to see if I had better results. A fascinating side effect of a boat-load of Albtuerol is becoming super hyper and shaky. And by super hyper and shaky, I mean, can't-really-type-hands-are-shaking-so-hard shaky and super-hard-to-concentrate-on-doing-just-one-thing inability to concentrate. Needless to say, it was an amusing rest of the day at work and I made my coworkers giggle at me a lot. So the results of that test came back and . . . negative for asthma. Hm.

A couple weeks after this test, I did a 42 mile run with friends. It was not a hot day at all (chilly and foggy) but it was rather humid. I brought my inhaler along just in case and was super paranoid about increases in breathing around the 30 mile mark (oh my god! I'm breathing awfully hard! Oh, right - I'm going uphill) but ultimately had no need for an inhaler. Which meant I must need humidity AND heat for 30 miles for this to kick in.

Next up was another test called a methacholine challenge where I did some basic breathing tests and then they tried to induce an attack. I was a little nervous about this at first just because the idea of inducing an asthma attack didn't sound like fun. Then I remembered, oh yeah, I spent 3+ hours stumbling down the trail in what appears to be a full on asthma attack, what is there to be nervous about with inducing it in a doctor's office? Apparently, this test is generally not the first one ordered because a positive result doesn't necessarily mean you have asthma but a negative does generally mean you don't have it so it can help to rule things out. This was right before Voyageur so I was hoping for results before the race. My doctor gave me the green light to do the race as long as I was comfortable so I was planning on doing it, regardless. The test itself involved some baseline measurements and then inhaling increasing amounts of irritants several times while repeating some breathing tests. Then they had you take Albuterol (though happily, not as much as the first test) and repeat tests. I didn't notice any sort of difference throughout the test which I decided was a good thing but then decided maybe they didn't mean to really induce something and it was all going to be measurable but not noticeable different. Happily, results came back fairly quickly as . . . negative for asthma. Hmmm, again.

So, Voyageur time. I do still plan to do a brief race report but - my breathing issues started right on cue around mile 27, on my way back to Magney. This time, I noticed that my fingers were going tingly BEFORE my breathing was picking up too much, which I filed away as interesting. I suffered a bit through the next section, moving quite slowly and walking most of the way down Skyline. When I came into Beck's, my breathing was high but not Kettle level hyperventilating yet. I decided to try my inhaler. It wasn't supposed to work, since I was testing negative for asthma but I figured it wasn't like it was going to hurt and I was super frustrated. Lo and behold, it worked. Almost instantly! Double hmmmmmmmm. I also decided during Voyageur to not run Sawtooth until I had some sort of a handle of what was going on. Voyageur did at least help me know for sure that this isn't a weird psychological thing since I had no reason to be stressed/worked up/under pressure at Voyageur. I knew going in that I would treat it as a test of things and that it was a good race to do so at since it had lots of aid stations and I would know people at every one of them.

Next up was a echo stress test to rule out any sort of heart related cause. This was SUPER neat since I got to watch them do an ultrasound on my heart for a good 20 minutes straight. SO COOL! Then they put me on a treadmill and increased the speed and incline by bits while hooked up to an EKG, the goal being to go until you couldn't keep going. The guy getting things started mentioned that a normal athletic 30-something women goes for about ten-twelve minutes and that it would max out after 16 minutes. Now I had a challenge! I did in fact make it to the 16 minute mark, which I felt oddly proud about. Then it was back to the ultrasound to take some more images while the heart was fired up to see if anything was functioning differently. The EKG girls told me they didn't see anything abnormal but the ultrasound woman was rather nonverbal, which I know they're supposed to be but I was so hoping to come out of the test knowing something without having to wait for the cardiologist to read everything and report back. In the end, there was nothing abnormal there, which was fabulous.

Then it was to a pulmonologist, who wasn't super helpful. He said there was another test I could do but he figured I would test normal on that too. I mentioned that the breathing tests I had done before had specified that I couldn't eat/drink x number of hours before the test. I questioned if he knew how necessary that was since it would be great if I could run 30 miles and THEN come into the lab for tests. He thought that was a great idea. So now the lab is willing to schedule me late in the day and have me come up the back stairs, skip the registration, and head right in. The problem with this (beyond needing to time a 30ish mile run to end at an exact time, oi!) being that this was in mid-September, they need at least a week notice to schedule the appointment (which is totally reasonable), and I need a hot/humid day to assure this isn't a waste of time. So that's not going to happen until next year if I decide to do it at all.

The last test of the year, then, was Wild Duluth 100K. It was gorgeous day out. Not hot, not humid, but it was a long race, so that would give me some data. I carried my inhaler just in case but I had no breathing issues, huzzah! Which means this isn't anything to do with something I might be doing differently on race day vs training. Though, another long race in nice conditions would be good to solidify that.

So! It requires heat AND humidity (though, to what degree, I don't know) and it needs around 30 miles to kick in. I'm calling it a bizarre form of exercise induced asthma that just has very specific conditions it needs to kick in. It makes sense to me that it's not showing up on lab tests because the lab tests aren't replicating the conditions (which is why doing a test post 30 mile run would be great). So for now, I'll carry around the inhaler just in case and go from there. I would like one more hot/humid run where my issues kick in so I can test the inhaler one more time before deciding for sure that's what I'm dealing with. I'll keep you updated if I learn anything new, though I don't expect much over the winter.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kettle: A photo esay

I very much owe everyone a Kettle post, huh? It was a frustrating result but mostly I haven't posted simply because I haven't taken the time to sit down and type. So now what you get is a lovely photo essay. Most photos courtesy of my awesome friend and crew, Lisa.

I loved the start of Kettle. There are lots of runners but the first seven miles are on ski trails so there's plenty of room for spreading out before the single track. I loved to watch the people in front/around of me all run down a hill and in unison walk up the next hill. I settled in with "Pink Girl" (she had a pink skirt on) and we chatted for a few miles before I took a quick pit stop. I found Wayne and we enjoyed a tasty pastry snack from the first (crewless) aid station before he made me go ahead. As we hopped onto single track, I was already getting a bit alarmed at how hot it was feeling - the sun was blazing and I was trying not to be concerned about how that boded for later on. I had forgotten that the predictions were for the sun to go behind clouds mid-morning and stay there and that is, in fact, what happened!

First main aid station at Bluff! I came in with Brian Woods, who is a stellar guy and great to run with.

Goofy looking picture of me. I'm wearing arm sleeves because it was sort of chilly at the start. Also, I had gotten myself so used to wearing them as an extra layer of heat when trying to get used to heat that it was hard to remember that I could take them off since this was the race I was trying to get used to heat for :) So I rolled them down my arms and then ditched them here.

Coming into Emma Carlin. Behind me (though not in the picture) is a girl who had crew who would come down the trail a good quarter mile or more. He'd find out what she wanted and hoot and holler for her the entire way in. It was amusing since I only was with her a couple times and he'd cheer a little for the other people around her, too.

This crew guy also asked what her strategy was for the upcoming meadows section. She said she figured she'd run for 15 minutes segments and then take a walk break. He insisted she run for no more than ten minutes and preferably eight at a time. This was great to overhear as I promptly decided to take a similar plan and run for no more than ten minutes at one go since I had also been warned of how taking the Meadows too hard will come back to bite you. I had no idea what to expect out of them and was braced for some nasty exposed miles.

Coming into Hwy 67 - after the Death Meadows (that's what they're labeled on the race shirt map). For your reference here is a Kettle newbie guide to the Death Meadows, in three sections. Part One: This isn't bad. There's hardly any meadow, actually, just that first part. Maybe it's only bad when it's really hot out? I'll stick to my plan, though. No more than ten minutes at a time, even if it's flat. Part Two: Okay, I can see how this would suck in open sun but it's really not bad today. Rather pretty, in fact. I'll still keep to my run/walk plan, though, because everyone warns about this section. Heck, I can see where they could have made the trail go to make it worse, at least we aren't just going back and forth across it. Part Three: OH MY GOD. LONGEST THREE MILES EVER. In this weather, though, a person was easily able to laugh at how silly it felt (and I did with a guy who was near me - turns we were both feeling like it was a never ending section) but only because we had a nicely cloudy sky.

Coming into 67, I was all smiles. I also requested that Lisa refill my gel flask without adding ginger ale this time. Which got me a confused Lisa since she, in fact, had not added ginger ale at Emma Carlin. Fascinating. I would discover later (not even during the race, I don't think) that adding a particular flavor of gel makes it taste vaguely of ginger ale. Generally not a bad thing, just not what I was looking for then. But I was so sure that there was ginger ale in there, it was very surprising to hear that there wasn't.

Here I come into ZZ. This little section was lined with pinwheels, which made me smile. It was also guarded by a women holding a pinwheel. Since we turned left to do a tiny out and back to the aid station she was there to make sure people were going the right direction. This next section is a little cruel. From ZZ, your crew walks about 200 yards down the trail to Scuppernong. Meanwhile, you turn around and run a 5 mile almost loop of mostly ski trail to get there. Ski trail which butts up against a campground right about the time a person might be needing to duck into the woods again . . . Stupid campsites.

Scuppernong. The start of my problems. Or rather, just before Scuppernong. As I was coming into this aid station, I noticed my breathing was picking up rather more than necessary and was a bit alarmed. I took my time at this aid station (also the turn around for section one). The top of my left foot had been bothering me for a bit, too, and I figured I just had dirt or something in there and rubbing around. So I took the shoe off. Nope. What I had instead was some sort of impressive looking heat rash which I really wish I had taken a picture of. By the end of my race my feet, ankles, and knee (where I had a thorn stuck in there from Wednesday's run) were all very impressively hived up. So not actually heat rash but some sort of allergic reaction. In any case, this is what was around my ankles at Sawtooth and I put it down to my gaiters but clearly that's not the problem. We're thinking it might be related to my breathing symptoms since they've been coming together. Anyway, I left my shoe off and walked around the aid station barefoot since it felt better to air it out. Much to the great amusement of Lisa and Marcus. So I sat down and ate some and then went on my way.

This section was not good. I was starting to hyperventilate quite solidly, which induced some panic over not wanting it to happen again. I sat down on a log until I calmed down. Granted, the breathing was still bad but at least I was calm about it and not making it worse. Somewhere in the single track, Wayne caught up to me and continued to cruise along. He was in for a fabulous race and I was impressed with how strong he was running the single track since he claims to hate the stuff. I'm on to you now, Wayne! So here I am, climbing a little hill coming back to ZZ. Despite my inability to breath, you'll notice I seem to be laughing. Off camera was Marcus telling me to run up the hill and me promptly making a rude gesture with my middle finger. So I had to sit down at ZZ for much longer than I wanted, in order to get my breathing down. They were also out of ice except for one large and very solid chunk. So Lisa wrapped it up in my buff and that went around my neck and lasted for most of the next ten miles.

I think this picture is from Maranda. I spent the next two mile short section focusing on moving but not pushing and hoping to drop my breathing down that way. This was a bummer since this is a super fun little smoothish dirt section that was uphill on the way out and I had been looking forward to cruising down it. I kept things easy, though, and that worked really well.

I came back into Hwy 67 feeling a ton better. Breathing was pretty much under control and I was hopefully that I was able to drive it away.

There were also beautiful blue butterflies floating around at Hwy 67.

At Hwy 67, they had a large tupperware box filled with water and a wash cloth so I took my shoes and socks off to air out my hived up feet and washed everything down. Arms, face, legs. And then the wonderful Maranda says to me, "Do you mind if I wash your feet?" I couldn't figure out how to respond to that - of course you can but why on earth would you want to? So here I am all drowned rat but really feeling quite lovely to have the sweat and sunscreen rinsed off for a bit.

It was good to start the next section feeling more refreshed because with the second pass through the Meadows came a low. The first section was okay. I filled up on ice in the hat but the neck ice buff was going strong. In the second section my legs started feeling tired and I saw on the water table while refilling my hat ice. In the third section, I came to a point where I was very suddenly unable to handle ANYTHING. Grump, grump. Then the mosquitoes hit. I had on a tank top and a Nathan and those damn bugs were finding all the bare skin that I couldn't reach to swat them away. I ended up taking off my ice buff since all the ice was gone and I was heading down the trail, whipping the thing back and forth across my back and my shoulders and my legs, trying to keep the bugs away. I was not the only person doing this, which only marginally made me feel better. At one point, close to the end, I was so frustrated with everything that I had these little frustration tears just leaking out of my eyes. So very sad. Now, coming into Emma Carlin, you parallel a road for about 100 meters and then you cross it to get to the parking lot where the aid station is in. So coming up to the road, I saw Lisa and told her, "I can't handle ANYTHING right now." She reponds, "You can handle Rick" and points down the road to . . . Rick waiting for me!!!

Now, Rick was in the area but he was there for a wedding and thus I didn't expect to see him until maybe the finish the next day, if he was able to get away. It was so fabulous to see him at Emma! He helped me get covered in bug spray and reminded me how much I wanted this finish and it was just a fabulous treat to have him there.

Around this time Lisa made a comment along of the lines of, "I'm going to take pictures of you even when you feel crappy" except that made me laugh and somewhat spoiled her crappy-feeling-Sam picture.

Lots of bug spray. Though, funny enough, the next section was not buggy at all. Maybe I repelled bugs for a 20 mile radius. Or maybe I was too busy being unable to breath to notice a bug problem.

So. Here we are at Emma Carlin. 8.2 miles to Bluff. 3.2 miles to the unmanned aid station, Horseriders. I picked up my trusty pacer, Marcus, and we headed on our way. By the time we made it to Horseriders, I was already uncontrollably hyperventilating. Marcus had me try laying down on a picnic table bench there and it seemed to help maybe a little but then it plateaued out so I was just laying there getting rained on and cold and not breathing right while someone else was trying to poach my pacer to go down the road for a cell signal. We took off again, to prevent Marcus from being stollen and figuring we weren't getting any closer just laying here. After all, it's only 5 miles to Bluff, I'll be fine.

The next bit took a really long time. The 8.2 miles took me 3 hours and 47 minutes for a stellar average of 27 minute miles which means much slower than that by the end since I was able to run for at least some of the first miles. I couldn't get my breathing under control. Eventually I was wheezing with every breath. Sitting didn't help. Trying to take slow, guided breaths didn't help - I could take a couple in a row max but then I was definitely not getting enough air and had to go back to rapid breathing. We were moving so slow that Marcus could text Lisa in the dark behind me. I remember there being an issue with my handheld because I had forgotten to switch the batteries and I think I switched to holding my headlamp? I don't remember a lot of the timeline here, stuff is a bit mussed up in my head.

Throughout a lot of this section, I was hearing music that was following us. No really, Marcus could hear it too! I first thought it was maybe the aid station despite the rational part of my brain saying they wouldn't let them have music that loud this late. Ha. Not even close to it being the aid station. It was acting like it was a van driving a road that paralleled the course - it never got closer or farther away, though it did change directions. I'm curious what the trail was doing (it had to be winding something crazy there) because we decided it had to be a bar with a band that we just weren't getting far enough away from. It seemed to mock me and my attempts to be moving forward. I swore at it a couple times. I might have yelled at it.

Eventually a couple people passed us and I just couldn't believe there were still people behind us - we hadn't seen anyone for what felt like hours. We HAD to be close to Bluff. Then I saw glow sticks! That HAD to be the aid station! Why else would there be glow sticks? Huzzah! Wait - hmmmm. No aid station to be seen, just a road crossing and more glow sticks on the other side of the road. Okay, no problem, the aid station must be just over there on the other side. We saw a van parked on the road with a clipboarded woman inside, taking tally of runners. A smart person would have asked if we were almost there and then begged a ride if we weren't. I think I was just so sure that we were right there. Except we weren't. The glow sticks ended and we weren't there yet. We were moving so slow but I just couldn't move my legs faster - lack of oxygen to muscles? My fingers were tingly. No big deal. However, my entire face was tingling - forehead, temples, all of it. That hadn't happened at Sawtooth, probably because I only had to deal with it for less than an hour instead of more than three hours.

At one point I didn't know how I was going to make it out of there. It just didn't seem feasible to keep moving. We'd never get there moving so slow. This wasn't a panicked thought but more of a sad, confused thought that came out loud. But moving was the only option so I stood back up and we kept on. Marcus was a great friend in here. Slogging along behind me. Being a shoulder when I needed one. Helping me change lights. Trying to get me to run downhills even though all I could do was slowly move down them.

Eventually we made it in. I got to sit down for good. I'm told it took a solid two hours for my breathing to come back down, at which point, I was sort of ready to go again. Sort of. Seeing as how a walk to the port-a-potties (50 feet, maybe) ramped my breathing back up, it was good I had sensible people stop me from doing more than joke about heading back out. I believe Marcus said he wasn't going that pace for another 7 miles and he wasn't letting me back out without him.

So that's that. It was good, at least, to have witnesses in the form of Marcus and Lisa to my bizarre issues. This summer has been a lot of different tests, which I will talk about next post. Which I promise comes sooner than three months from now : ) The summer has also been full of lots of good running, though.

55.6 miles so at least I made it over halfway this time. Up next is Wild Duluth 100K, since I decided to forgo Sawtooth until I figure things out.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Today's Run

Today's run was rough. I've been exhausted all week, though I did manage a decent paced last NMTC run on Wednesday. Otherwise I've been drowsy at work and practically falling asleep driving home. I wanted to run today since both Cedar and I needed one so we headed out the door and up the hill to the SHT. I can cut through the alley to the Middle School road, hit the back end of the reservoir, and be on the SHT in minutes.

Oof, I was tired out there. I haven't gone that slow on the trail since . . . oh wait, last week : ) But I let it be and just enjoyed my time and it wasn't nearly as slow as last week. There was lots of walking up anything hill-like and enjoying breathing in the delicious air - heavy with lilacs and assorted flowering trees and bushes like only early June can be. The woods were strangely night-time sounding, which was lovely, too. We headed out for half an hour and the way back felt much looser and easier but still tired. A good time in the woods, overall.

Don't worry, a race report is coming but just now, it's past time for bed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Three days!

Three days!

Today was my last run before Saturday. It being Wednesday, I talked myself into running the NMTC race, convinced I could do it slow. Luckily, I had friends to help me keep true to that! Before the race, I helped with parking cars and thus prevented myself from getting tempted to do a warm up. It also let me bounce around some and let some of my hyper energy out with some air traffic control arm waving. I ran with Andrea and Lisa and was NOT ALLOWED to pass Lisa. Between being hyper and running for fun, I babbled up a blue storm pretty much the whole way but had a great time.

So. Every piece of running clothing I could possibly desire to bring is washed and ready for packing. I have a lovely spreadsheet to direct my packing. Which is more or less - BRING FOUR OF EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING JUST IN CASE but a tich more organized . . .

Should anyone desire, Kettle has a sort of tracking system here. It'll list when I come into aid stations with 13 updates plus the finish. I'll be running somewhere between 26 and 30 hours.

I have two good friends who are coming down with me, Lisa and Marcus, who will crew and pace. I have a few friends in the race itself, too, that will be great to see in the out and backs. I feel strong, rested, and ready. Let's do this! Rar!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Spring Superior 50K

Holy crap, guys. One week to Kettle! I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling prepared, and right now, I'm feeling antsy! Another week of taper, oh man. To distract myself, let's give you a short rundown of my last race - Spring Superior 50K.

Since Superior was a perfect three weeks out from Kettle the plan was to use it as a last good long run weekend. So no taper and no attempts to really push a pace. Actually, just this year have I either finally realized or finally gotten to the point that I DO have a difference in pace between long runs and races, which is a very neat revelation for me. I did have a bit of a rest the week before, which was nice, as I pushed my rest week back a week so I could make it coincide with Fishing Opener so I wouldn't have to worry about a double long run at the cabin.

I started the race trying very hard to stay reigned in and just run a relaxed pace, not letting anyone else push my pace. I was walking a little more than I felt like I would have had I been pushing. Though, I quickly discovered that it was ten times easier to run through every mud hole than walk through. And there were a LOT of mud holes . . . I was thinking in the back of my head that I would like even splits but decided to wait until I actually hit the turnaround and go from there. The turnaround came and I felt great. I LOVE out and backs - I love seeing everyone and I get such a lift in spirits from it. Which means Kettle should be fabulous since it's made up of two out and backs - right?

So the way back was quite good. I felt good, nothing was seizing and my stomach was cooperating. A possibly related new thing this go round was it being my first full race using the Lisa/Ron gel method - putting two gels into a small flask and having them premixed with water. Then just sipping on it as I go, making sure to get at least half down in an hour. I also managed to refill it on the go, so I'll definitely be using that method at Kettle. When I got back to Oberg (the last aid station, 7.5ish miles from the end), I realized I might have a chance at an even split so I figured I would be okay to push the pace for the last section. I charged up Moose Mountain pretty good, trying to strike a balance between moving fast and keeping the heart rate not redlining since the point was to be recovered for a run the next day. I was passing people (something I've never really done in the second half of a 50K!) and starting thinking that I was placed fairly decently. I didn't pay any attention to the number of women I saw coming at me at the turnaround so I only had a general feel for things. I knew I was doing well when this woman (who was walking for no particular reason) turns around and saw me. Her eyes got HUGE and she took off at a sprint leaving me giggling behind her. Because really - if you were walking before and now you're sprinting and we still have a mile and a half to go, then there's no doubt I was going to get her. I've never had someone react that way before! When I passed her, she asked how old I was and was relieved to hear we weren't in the same age group.

I came strong into the finish and felt fine immediately afterward. In fact, I might have made a bee line for the computers that were set up to check your results . . . 5th woman for me! I am super happy with that result! Spring Superior was exactly what I needed - a good long run on the SHT that went well. Good training for the legs, good boost for the mind.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where are my trails?

Here I had almost a finished entry about our lovely weather in the last couple of weeks. How I had run in single layers and even *gasp* with bare arms. Whole long runs without worrying about windchill and forgetting that a person's water tube could freeze. However, before I could post said entry, we started on our roller-coaster of Minnesota spring weather. 40 degrees. 20 degrees. Snow. Toasty sun. Back and forth but as it goes, those lows get higher to where it's always above zero. I was cautiously optimistic for a soon return to trails. Okay, not so cautious more like super ready for trails to be runnable RIGHT NOW so that must mean they'll be ready soon, right? Right? Except as soon as I was thinking that, Duluth got hit with a random 8-10 inches of wet, heavy snow. Sigh. I am gnawing at the bit to get back on my trails. I want them clear and I want them runnable and I'm sick of slogging. I don't remember being quite this frustrated at the snow this early last year, even with the late snow we got, but I guess I was still focused on road miles for Boston. So today makes it 11 weeks out from the Kettle 100 mile. It's what I've been training for but I hadn't registered until a couple nights ago. Mostly because so much can happen in training, injury and freak accident wise, why throw down the entry money for that kind of race until you need to? I was planning to wait a little longer but it was starting to feel strange that I wasn't officially in yet. That and, Sawtooth is appearing posed to fill at an astonishing pace and I don't want to pay for two 100s right next to each other. So now I feel this weird extra anxiety to get on trails. I was in a mild panic yesterday at work, watching the big, thick snow come falling down and seeing my planned trail run vanishing before my eyes. Happily, I have awesome friends and I hooked up with two of them this morning. Molly is training for the Zumbro 50 mile so was doing her last back-to-back long runs before taper, which made her pace something I could actually keep up with. I actually almost didn't even leave the house this morning, though, since I was nauseous all during and after breakfast. It kept itself to a low level annoyance for most of the run (except downhills, my stomach was not a fan of running downhill). So that's good 100 mile training too, right? Also, clearly, I have the right pacer for Kettle. She's already started her duties, kicking me in the butt this morning. I was going to call my run short since I just didn't feel great and was sick of the slog the trails had turned into (they actually weren't bad right away in the morning) however, mean task-mistress pacer Lisa made me finish up with Molly. And I listened to her. But only after Molly agreed that roads sounded better than 6.5 more miles of trail slog. Tomorrow is my first race of the year! The Irish Run 8K, which should be interesting giving the combination of a long run today and no attempts at speed work so far this year. It's for the team, though, and should be a good time. I'll make sure to let everyone know how it goes - that should make me get another entry up, right?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Beautiful rainbow or horrifying humidity?

How to tell you may still be slightly traumatized by the heat and humidity at a certain race from Septebmer: Take a look at a beautiful summer picture. Do you first notice the gorgeous rainbow set dramatically against the sky still dark from the passing squall? The way the sun is illuminating the yard and also making that aforementioned sky seem darker? No. Should you still have some lingering issues remaining from the aforementioned race, the first thing that enters your head will be something along the lines of, "Ooooooooh, it looks so horribly humid!" Only after that will you see how nice the picture is. By the way, my dad insists that it was actually quite cool out when he took the picture. I'm not sure I believe him.

So, yeah. While I was a bit whiny about the cold yesterday (maybe more than a bit until I was drug outside and found it wasn't a cold as I was anticipating), I am still okay with not being hot and humid. Today was a beautiful run. It was warm out (ie, above zero) and it was snowing. Just hard enough to make a person have to squint into the wind and just big/light enough to stick to your eyelashes. It was the super pretty type of snow that made the side roads all sparkly in the light. If only the single track was packed down enough to run on then I would have no problem.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Well, that idea died fast!

I checked the temperature yesterday morning, to get an idea of what to wear for my run. -6. "That's not so bad" I thought to myself. "I won't even have to wear some of my layers!" No balaclava, no bun toaster, not even a jacket (opting for two long sleeves instead). So remember after Sawtooth when I said I was okay with never being hot and humid again? Ever. Yeah, that's still true. Just to make sure, I tried a hot tub in December - I lasted about three minutes before not enjoying it to such an extent that I crawled over the wall it shared with the pool and stood in the pool instead. So at the end of last year, I had this vague idea of a possible goal I wanted to set for myself - to only do races in 2014 that I hadn't done in 2013 (with the exception of Sawtooth). See, my problem is that I love races. So I go to a race and I LOVE it and I HAVE to do it again the next year. Except I also HAVE to do all the other races I usually do and still want to try new ones which quickly become races I HAVE to do. See the problem? So I figured trying this idea with my races would set me free a bit to explore some new races. I knew I would have two problem races (well three because of my favorite 5K but it went and got cancelled on me)- Spring Superior 50K and Voyageur 50 Mile. Well, registration opened up for the 50K and I caved and registered in an impressively short amount of time! Really, though, I'm very okay with breaking my sort of goal so soon in the year for a few reasons - 1: It turns out that Spring Superior is three weeks before Kettle (where I shall go after my 100 mile finish) which makes it perfect for getting a last weekend of good back-to-back long runs and anything that helps with that is a good thin; 2: Doing this race won't conflict with doing a different/new race so I'm not missing out on something new, so I don't feel I'm breaking the spirit of my idea. Other side reasons for being fine with my decision - this is really the first big race of the year (sure, I'll do Chippewa 50K and many of the same people will be there but this always feels like the opening of ultra season in Minnesota) and it's hard to turn down seeing so many friends on the trail; this is a Storkamp race which means it will be well done; more time on the SHT north of Duluth means good training for Sawtooth. So yeah, my idea didn't last very long, but I'm a-okay with that. I was never completely sold on the idea anyway, just more intrigued by it. Maybe I'll save it for a year where I don't have to attack Sawtooth again since making one exception just makes it easier to make others! I'd still have a problem skipping Voyageur, though. Honestly, I don't have much hope for avoiding Voyageur this year as it has a special place in my heart and I just don't see myself skipping it for a not good reason. It's especially hard to miss the close races this year since I'm taking a full week and a half off to head out west this year plus two 100 miles so that uses my vacation right there. Which means any race I have to take ANY time off for is pretty much out so no winter/spring adventure for me this year. Good thing there are lots of quality races close by!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

An older story

Happy 2014, everyone! I can't believe I've been such a blogging slacker for the end of the year. Apologies for that! I hope to do better this year. The problem with not blogging for a while is that you become stuck on what to write about. Do you catch people up? Do you just skip over all that time? Go through highlights? I'm telling you, it would be so much easier to just write on a regular basis in the first place! So instead, I'm going to start the year with a story from the end of 2012 because a friend just reminded me how awesome this run was. We were talking about it because today is the last day of Bentleyville, a Christmas lights spectacular in Canal Park, for those not in the know. Their last day includes fireworks because everything includes fireworks these days (not that you're hearing any sort of arguing from me!). Last year, the last day was on a Wednesday (they added days this year due to closing a few times for weather), thus falling on group-run-on-the-Lakewalk day. So we met at our usual time and ran through Bentleyville (which worked surprisingly well since I figured there would be a lot of people dodging). After that we headed to the Lakewalk to do our normal run. Well, at 6:00, the fireworks started behind us. I wanted to turn around and run toward them so we could watch because I LOVE fireworks of all types. I could only convince Rudy to come with me so we turned around and sprinted back to Bentleyville. We made it back just in time to be right there for the grand finale but were still able to watch the rest of the show as we ran at it, which was very awesome and I rather want to set that up to happen again. After that, we still wanted to run more, so we headed across the lift bridge and then ran down the beach for a while. It was a lovely night, quiet and calm on the lake. You could head some of the water sloshing against the ice and it was fabulous. We went out longer than planned because it was so nice. So here's wishing you lots of peaceful runs in 2014.