Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10, 2009

Superior 50 Miler.

So I told you all already that I felt like I needed to try the next big thing. I loved marathon - still do. I loved Ironman - still do. I loved time trial bike racing - still do. But I missed that underlying FEAR - kind of a "driving" fear - that  I am unsure of myself or my ability, or that I can actually DO a particular thing. That uncertainty is kind of a sick draw, perhaps, but it's in me so there you go.

A year ago a group of us (Merilee, Diane, Marty, Chae, Holly, Kari, Guy and I) did the Whistlestop Marathon up in Ashland, Wisconsin. It's on a gravel trail, completely in the forest. As we sat around at dinner, we drew up on napkins what we were going to do next. We talked about joining Marathon Maniacs (a group you can belong to if you do back-to-back marathons - I've done 4 in 5 weekends so I'm good there) or the 50-States Club (you can join when you've done 10 states). I still may join those groups but it's not "scary" for me; it's just fun.

Well, into fall and winter, my running partner Guy started trail running more with Helen and the Igors, Kami, Tanya, Normal Eric and Crazy Erik - all former marathon and Ironman friends of ours. He kept tellling me how much I'd love it. So as spring rolled around, he and I signed up for the Trail Mix 25K with Becca and Maggie. I've done it a couple times with those (super fun) sisters, and it's been hard for me. It felt like all my energy dissipated into the grass while I ran and I felt slow and weak. I was ready for it to be over long before we actually finished and --- wait a sec!! -- it was HARD for me -- I wondered if I could finish an even LONGER trail run.

And so began the quest to attempt long distance trail running. I started going to the Hyland ski jump to do hill training with Guy and the others. I could barely make it up the ski lift once. But we'd do between five and ten reps, just running as far as I could, then walking the rest of the way up (which I have to say was equally hard), run all the way down, then back up. It was GREAT training.

When Guy did the Chippewa 50K (31.5 miles) in the spring with Helen, Kami and Normal Eric (all of them seasoned trail runners), all I heard from Guy was "That was the single hardest thing I've ever done. I swear I could not have gone another yard. You've gotta try it"

That was all I needed to hear - sign me up for something!! So I signed up for the Afton 50K. It was local and many of my friends were doing it (or the 25K). Guy and I started out together, but it was 4th of July, and hot, and by mile 18 Guy was overheated and TOAST, so I ran ahead. (Love ya, Guy, but... see ya at the finish!)  I felt great the whole way, negative splitting and finishing 11th overall woman, and 4th in my division (Masters - ok, now you all know I'm 47, not the 24 you thought I was).

Helen and Tanya and Crazy Erik and Kevin were all at the finish and they were so proud of me! I learned that Helen won - she wins a lot. Helen if you read this I have to tell you I am so proud of you, too! I remember way, way back in the day when you were slow as me and we used to run on the roads  together back when Dan Finanger was our coach, and then I remember taking pics of you when you did your first Ironman, and how proud of you I was then... and now look at you - you are so inspiring and so strong and such an encouragement to everyone around you. You've become something of a legend in the ultra world, yet you are the same sweet, grounded person.

Anyway, I loved Afton 50K, but didn't get that "I-wonder-if-I-can-even-finish-this-thing" FEAR. So Guy and I signed up for the Superior 50 MILE trail run. When we went up there to do a 25 mile training run, boy did I have my hat handed to me. This is no normal, level, gravel trail. It's boulder scrambling, it's clinging onto trees, it's running through grasses that are as high as your underarms and you can't see the rocky terrain that your delicate feet and ankles are even running on, it's way up north in the middle of nowhere - no other humans, no cell service, sketchy-if-any Garmin reception, bears and other critters... if you sprained your ankle or got mauled by a bear, I honestly do not know how you'd get back to your car. It's scary. It was just what I was looking for. ;-)

So Guy and I arrive, check in, get our gear bags dropped off and head over to the Athlete Meeting the night before. As we are looking around, I do see a small number of people we know including another trail-newbie, former-Ironman named Chad Milner. We chat for a bit and I start to pick up on the fact that,  Bored Ironmen Seek The Trails. Other than Chad, Vale and the rest of the former marathoner/Ironmen friends from home, I don't know anyone. (yeah - that's the hardest part to believe :-)). We look around and I KNOW we're not at Ironman or a road marathon. There is no sea of vendors, no expo, no sound system playing Eye of the Tiger, no shaved legs,  no hotel banquet room with free food for the meeting, etc.
I ask Guy if I should ask for a show of hands of all the Republicans. He laughs. It's just a different crowd. Not a bad crowd, just kind of a Bohemian crowd. I may be totally off on that, but it's the impression I got. I've never seen beards that reach your chest at Ironman, and that is definitely common on the trails.

We learn that there are 75 people registered for the 50 mile race and that there is one bus (capacity 42) to drive us all to the start. We sit two and three to a seat and some people had to stand for the 50 mile ride in the morning. I was thankful that some people decided to drive themselves to the start. Guy and I sleep some more on the early morning drive. When we get to the start line, it is 6:00 a.m., pitch black, there is no artificial lighting, there are two ancient outhouses without toilet paper, and that's it. I don't want to sound all high maintenance and stuff, but, well... maybe I am a little high maintenance.

There is no singing of the National Anthem, there is no announcer getting us all pumped up... it's just the race director in his foot-long beard and headlamp telling us, "OK, Go!"

And we were off. That's it. Very simple. Very different.

The trail was single track the whole way, so we started in trains of runners. But everybody was very friendly and every now and then the front runners would shout out, "anyone wanna pass?" and then you had an opportunity to say, "yes, please." Everybody is very polite and welcoming to newbies.

The first aid station was at the 8 mile mark. I'm only carrying one bottle because in my mind I'm thinking that's about an hour or so. Uh, no. It takes about two hours or so to cover 8 miles of trail. Guy had two water bottles, one in each hand, and I was thankful for that because he shared his second bottle with me. (Those of you who remember that I had heart surgery in October of 2007 know that I can't get dehydrated or else my heart starts freaking out. I still have a spot about the size of a quarter on the back wall of my heart that interrupts my electrical system and rhythm. I've learned that keeping well-hydrated at ALL times has improved the situation. Anyway, I'm not sure if Guy's just really nice, or if he figured sharing his water with me was a better option than having to wait for paramedics in the middle of nowhere for a few hours until somebody missed us.) So back to my story, I was glad to see the aid station. There were fabulous volunteers with sandwiches, potatoes, chips, candies... I totally wanted to stick around longer! But we changed into dry socks and we were on our way.

When we started on our second leg, we were either ahead of or behind our long train of runners and found ourselves alone the rest of the day. It was beautiful and peaceful. And hilly and rocky and craggy! By about mile 15 (about 4 hours into the race) Guy and I are both struggling. His hamstring was pulling really badly, and my knee is KILLing me on the downhills, which by now we are walking sideways. I was wondering why I felt I needed to test myself. Wasn't I a good enough athlete already? I cry "uncle!" and wonder what the HELL I am even doing here.

And then I realize I have THIRTY-FIVE more miles to go.

Look at this pic to the left - Can you see how steep these climbs  are?? This guy got here by climbing the rocks on the left side of the picture, not that grassy place on the right... you climb over the boulders. I'm completely serious.

At mile 17 Guy knows he has to DNF. I know he has to, too. This is a guy who never feels any pain, and I can hear him behind me quietly grunting from time to time. And did I tell you the terrain was rocky? Well, we both repeatedly fell. When he'd fall and then take a long, long pause before getting up... well, I just knew (for a couple hours by now) that he was in serious trouble.

At the 21 mile station he reluctantly pulled out of the race. He gave me his extra water bottle (I canNOT even tell you how I would be grateful for that the rest of the day.)
I hugged him good-bye very quickly, and ran ahead before he could see that I was crying, and thinking, "How am I going to finish this by myself? He's the one who knows where all our gear is, he's the one who knows what I should change into, he's the one who read the map and knows how far to each aid station and how long it will take to get there and where the big climbs are and how many miles between them, etc. Besides, I am truly, truly terrified of bears (honestly - I have reccurrent dreams of bears jumping out of forests and pushing me off my bike or cornering me in places I can't escape from) and there are millions of them in this forest and I am completely alone now and if I get mauled, no one, no one will ever know. I will just be dragged off the trail and eaten and I hope I bleed to death with the first swipe so I don't KNOW I'm being eaten and won't my kids miss me terribly and will they be OK growing up without a mom, and will the members of Medina Country Club forever talk about "poor Jenny Moore who was eaten by a bear and how her poor kids grew up without a mom." (UGH!!! Could you imagine having these kinds of thoughts for the rest of the day???? Or worse --  running with someone who's having these thoughts all day?? Guy was LUCKY he pulled out of the race! Someone save me from myself and my silly phobia!!! ;-)

Anyway, I hit the fourth or fifth aid station in the late afternoon and saw a familiar face - it was Steve Quick who is a friend of Guy's. I met him at  the Afton 50K. He remembered me and was asking how I was doing and he was getting me food and filling my water bottles - Thank you Steve!! - and I was telling him it was harder than I thought and I was asking him if he thought I was going to make the cut-off and he was confident I would and I really can't remember anything else other than I felt less alone because I actually recognized somebody. It had already been a long, long day, alone out there. And now it was raining and it was muddy and there was no where to run but in the muddy singletrack, in soaking wet muddy feet.

I made the cut off at 5:45 p.m. At 7:00 p.m. they pull you from the race. From this point on I knew I was golden. Heck, I could walk the rest of the way if I wanted to. I had stubbed my left big toe no fewer than 30 times at this point so I DID consider walking in, but it was going to get dark soon, and in the dark I wouldn't even SEE the bear before he grabbed me off the trail. So I ran.

I ran, and ran, and ran.

As dusk approached every tree trunk or shadow was a bear. In front of me, to my left, behind me, to my right. I was seriously making myself crazy by now. I was re-stubbing my left toe repeatedly and ... well, let me explain it this way -- the first time I stubbed it, it completely lifted the nail from the nail bed. I wanted to scream. Now try to imagine how that toe felt all the subsequent 45 times I stubbed it. But I scrambled on. Stumbling, stubbing, falling, getting back up... I am certain I looked crazed but I just had to get to the finish line. It was completely pitch dark by now and I'm tired and I'm crying and I'm trying NOT to cry because it just made it hard to breathe and I was figuring Oberg mountain had to be about a 40-50 degree climb -- all I know is it's much steeper than the stairs in my house -- and it just went on, and on, and on, and on.

When I saw a bonfire in the distance I knew that had to be the hotel. That had to be it. It had to be over. I hit a gravel trail and suddenly a body appeared in front of me and it was not a bear - it was a friendly man whose voice was telling me it's between a quarter and a half a mile. I sprinted. I sprinted right past the little turn to the finish. (Remember how I told you earlier that trail races are really low key and I'm really high maintenance? Well, I kinda need a volunteer or somebody to tell me in the darkness where to turn.) I was following some guy who kept assuring me we were going the right way, even as the hotel bonfire got farther and farther away until I couldn't see it anymore. I finally turned around and headed back. This guy and I ended up running an extra mile or so.

But when I realized I was back on track and it was REALLY almost over, he and I both sprinted to the finish and ended up with a 13:50:00. It was over! I saw people!! Suddenly Helen (who won the marathon after staying up to 3am pacing Normal Eric in the 100 miler - Helen you are truly amazing) was there hugging me and taking my picture and there was Crazy Erik and Laura and Vale (who won the 50 miler!!), and the race director's wife was giving me my medal... and then finally I saw Guy who hobbled over and gave me a big hug. I was so happy to see him after separating in the forest in what seemed like DAYS ago.

I had a sandwich and a beer and then later found out that I finished 2nd in my division (Masters) and got a plaque. Finishing was enough - podium was just icing.

We watched the other finishers come straggling in for a little while - let me tell you most of the people who did the 100 miler looked like complete zombies. I absolutely cannot fathom how they did that. Crazy Erik did it in 36 hours. I was so proud of him! Although I can tell you that he later woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, passed out and hit his face on the sink or the toilet. He struggled to drive home the next day. Laura (his squeeze) escorted him home safely though.

So there you have it. Ultra trail running is NOT road marathoning. I'm glad I did it. I will do another.

October 31st there is a 50 miler here in the suburbs. With cell service, and medical professionals just a phone call away, and no bears.

I'm in.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

T-minus four days to Superior 50 miler!

Ok I admit I'm nervous. But excited at the same time.
When Guy and I did 25 miles of the actual course a couple weeks ago, the conditions were perfect (sunny, crisp, cool - ok freezing at the finish, but we learned from that!)... and now the forecast for race day is 45 at the start, 40% chance of rain, going up to 60 during the day, and 50 degrees at the finish. That'll feel pretty cold if we've been soaking wet for 15 hours!
So now all our planning needs to be adjusted for more warn dry clothes, more attention to chafing products, more attention to our clothes being in waterproof containers...
According to our pace times on our trial day, we ran 15 minute miles during the day. We were HAULING ass because it was getting dark and we needed to get to the headlamps and long sleeves that we'd stashed in the grass at the checkpoint. So based on that pace, we are scheduled to arrive at the last cutoff (43.2 miles) at 6:00 p.m. Anyone who arrives there after 7:00 p.m. is pulled from the course with a DNF. So we only have one hour to spare. That's cutting it a little close for me but it is what it is! You just can't go any faster. If you think 15 minute miles is slow -- you'll be impressed to know that the best we could do once it got dark was 21 minute miles.... this is a whole different animal from road running!

Above is our team photo from the 24 hour mountain bike race. The first two on the left are Reese and Laurie - they did the two person co-ed team - they came in 3rd place. The four to the right are my team - Kraig, Chuck, me and Guy. We did the 4-person coed team and we also placed 3rd in our division.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

24 hours at Afton on Team NewMart

My confidence exceeds my ability. That is my personal lesson for this weekend as I did my first mountain bike race. 

Friday afternoon I headed over to Afton Ski Area with my training partner, Guy, to meet up with the rest of our team and get our campsite/ pit area set up and staged. We found Chuck (our team captain and a customer of mine - he owns a couple convenience stores called NewMart, and one of my account managers is his Coke rep) and Kraig already set up. So we set up our tent next to theirs on the hard gravel. The weather was cool and it felt more like a fall weekend than a late summer weekend. I was a little nervous because I only learned how to mountain bike 6 or 8 weeks ago. I later learned from the other mountain bikers that this is one of, if not THE, toughest mountain bike course in the whole state.
The race started at 5pm and I rode the first loop. Basically, each team (or solo rider) does as many loops of a nine-mile course as you can in 24 hours; the one who does the most loops wins.
It's at the ski area, so you pedal up and down the mountain along the single track bush-whacking trails, and traverse across the ski runs. Up and down and over; up and down and over; up and down and over. The switchbacks are very tight and steep. Taking them too fast scares the living daylights out of you because you can see how steep the fall is at the immediate edge of the track you are trying to ride in. But if you take them too slow, you tip over and then you have to push your bike up. If you take them way too slow, you tip over and tumble down the mountain.. Thankfully, there are lots of bushes and saplings to break most of your fall, so I never fell more than 20 or so feet down. But I fell down repeatedly. I actually cried at one point.
I should describe the fall because it's kind of interesting. It starts out in really slow motion. You definitely have time to pray. But the impact(s) come much faster and your bike falls over and over with you. Eventually you realize that one of the crash landings has forced your feet to clip out of your pedals and at some point you stop moving. You assess the damage to your limbs and butt and if they're all still there you thank God; now you just have to find your bike. Which is tricky at night if your headlamp comes unplugged during the fall and you can't figure out how to plug it back in because it's DARK out. Then you climb back up through through the brush, dragging your bike, and relocate the trail. Then you push your bike up the mountain, along the the very track that was so steep you fell off of it, to a place level enough to remount. You might have to straighten your saddle and handlebars, but you're good to go.
When you make it back to the bottom, you tag off with a teammate and then you can rest for 3 hours. And so it goes all night and all the next day.
Our team ended up finishing in 3rd place (out of 4 teams), so we did collect some nice schwag.

This morning I got up feeling like I've been beat up by the roller derby team. I have bruises everywhere: my triceps, hips, quads, kneecaps, shins, shoulders... even my coolie took a beating when I was bombing down a hill, couldn't get clipped back in, and so my legs were flying and I was bouncing off my saddle. Seriously. This is what I assume it feels like the day after for boxers, only it's all-over. I don't do contact sports! I didn't even play basketball or volleyball! But there is something alluring about these trails and I WILL go back out again.
I didn't bring a camera, but I think my teammates have some pics. If I get them I'll share them.
I was looking for the next challenge after marathon and Ironman and I definitely think I found it!

It's ultra trail running and mountain biking. Both of these are pushing me where I have never, ever, ever  been.  I have had to dig deeper. If I don't, there is no sag wagon on the side of the road; there is no cell service; there is no hollering for help; there is no biking over to the gas station for Powerade or other fuel. It is JUST YOU out there.

It's my new passion, and my first step in my attempt to master it is to change my name to SingletrackJenny. Ya like it?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

August 2, 2009

Where has Jenny Moore been???

I haven't posted in weeks and weeks, But I raced my first triathlon in a YEAR last weekend. It was the Chisago Half Ironman. I placed second in my age group, which is the same placement I had at this race the last three years, so I guess I am happy about that. Ya know you can't ever complain about podium finishes! But I was particularly pleased that I PR'd this time. Last year I PR'd here with a 5:18; this year I PR'd again with my first ever sub-5 hour -- a 4:59:28. Naturally I was pumped about that! I had a bunch of friends racing it, and my trail running partner taking pictures, so it was a perfect day from the course as well as from the sidelines! My bike split registered 21.0 mph over the 56 miles and my half marathon was 1:49 - also a PR for that distance on any course - stand-alone or in a multisport race for me.

I have only one more triathlon on my calendar - Ironman Cozumel in November. After that I only have Ironman Wisconsin in 2010. I think this time I mean it when I say I'm ready to move on to the next big thing, which for me is trail ultras and mountain biking. I have LOVED triathlon and the people and I will maintain many, many friendships. I'm not selling my tri bike (because I WANT to keep it -- even though it's a piece of dinosaur shit all-aluminum-with-a-bad-to-begin-with-but-now-chipped-too-paint-job-with-650-wheels-heck-it-never-even-fit-me-properly bike), but I am going to keep it and just hang it in my garage for a while and give my SWEET mountain bike some wheel-time.

Speaking of my sweet mountain bike, it's a Giant XTC and I got it at Brickyard Bikes in Chaska MN. Jeremy Baker is the owner and a serious gear-head/ bike-mechanic kind of guy who also heads up our Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the western suburbs. GREAT guy, GREAT shop. He gave me a GREAT deal and GREAT fitting and I am in love with my Giant XTC bike in a way that I am almost embarrassed to write about. Give me a minute until I'll compose myself, re-open my eyes and continue posting.


Deep breathing.

Final heavy sigh.

I'm good.

Let me just say I love my bike. I love the mountain bike trails. I love how there are boulders the size of microwaves and severed heads in the middle of these dirty single-track trails and you just kind of hop over them as you go along. The trees on either side of the trail give you maybe 30 inches clearance and your handlebars take up about 24 inches of that. And you are twisting and turning and going fast on various terrain like pineneedles and dust and mud and grass and holes where turltles laid their eggs and slabs of granite. I have bruises I can't show people and scrapes on my arms and shins.

It. Is. Cool.

It just is.

And you have to check for ticks when you get home.

My first race will be at the end of August. It's called "24 hours at Afton"' and teams of four ride a nine mile loop at the ski area and whichever team makes the most loops wins. I have Guy (my trail training partner who has been mountain biking for 30 years), my customer Chuck (super serious mountain biker who travels all over the country to race) and his best friend Kraig (who is even more serious than HE is) on my team. Yeah - I asked myself the same question - what are they doing with Jenny Moore, right??? I have NO IDEA!!! But they invited me and I said yes and I'm going to love it I am sure! So I have been on my bike FIVE times and I still think I'll be ready. Ready enough to let them "carry" me anyway!

I think I have 11 or 12 marathon-or-longer races this year, but they, too are morphing into trails rather than road. Yesterday I did a 30 mile gravel-trail run for charity. It started out as 28 miles, but ended up at 29.8, so we had to run the extra .2 to make it an even number. (Don't even start - you know you would have run the extra too because you are just as anal as I am!)
And a couple weeks before that I ran the Afton Trail Run 50K - it was awesome!!!! It was 12,000 feet of climbing - up and down and up and down... It took me 6 hours and 10 minutes. But I LOVED it. Trail running is so different from road marathoning - there are a bunch of hippies who do it! Shirtless guys with long beards, and there is no "corralling" of athletes at the start - everybody just sort of shows up at the trail head and the race director says, "OK, everyone have a good race.... Go!" No national anthem, no balloons to run under, no chute of picture-taking family members.

It's different.

It just IS.

But I still have Twin Cities Marathon and the Des Moines Marathon this year -- they are part of my training plan for Ironman Cozumel.

But my A race for the year will be the Superior 50 mile Trail Run in September. It's FIVE points of contact in some places - two hands, two feet, and your butt -- as you scale car-sized boulders. It's crossing streams on fallen trees and clinging to brush so you don't slide off the mountain. From what I hear we should be happy to hold a steady 14-minute mile. How fun does that sound?!?!?! We will cover much of the course in the dark, so I need some nighttime trail runs to prepare. Last year 35 people finished it. There is also a 100 miler for those of you who didn't get enough!

Bedtime for me. If anybody still even reads this blog, thanks! You can more easily keep up with me on Facebook.....


Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

Gorgeous weekend here in Minneapolis. 

Yesterday it was way too cool and breezy to bike .... OK, "gusty" and 29 degree windchill, so we switched the bike and the run and that was a great choice. So Saturday, my running partner Guy and I drove over to Afton Ski Area to run 19.5 miles of trails. It was beautiful! Especially the single-track snowshoeing trails. Had to check for ticks when I got home, but small price to pay for running smack dab in the middle of nature. ;-) Now I know why Carrie always gets out on the trails - it's a completely separate sport from road running.
And while I find it much more difficult than road running, I am definitely getting better. Yesterday I felt 100% more confident than I did last week, so that is good.

I am also back in the pool - honestly! It's been almost three months since my last swim. But I went on Thursday for 33 minutes, and today for 40 minutes. I feel a little awkward, but it'll come back.

Today it was 60 degrees and clear with mild winds, so we rode 72 miles. We were joined by Julie and Cathy (who is between me and Jen L, below): 

....who both raced the Gear West Duathlon this morning... they did great!! Julie came in 6th place overall, and Cathy WON! She and Marlo were in a foot race to the finish, and Cathy just out-chipped her... by .001 seconds. Seriously! I'm so happy for both of you! Way to go. 

So AFTER their race, they joined us for about 25 miles of our ride. We were a pack of fourteen at the start, and 5 at the 72 mile mark (where I bailed.) Then Jen and Erik went ahead and did the last 28 miles for an even 100. Good job everybody!!

(Below are Julie, Jen and Erik)

Between playing with the kids, helping Ally sew a dress, running trails, swimming laps, biking, doing chores, going to church, having a nice dinner at the country club and sleeping, the weekend flew by. It always does.

Have a good one everybody.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Tonight's Run

Tonight I went for a trail run with my iPod. And no people -- very, very weird for me!

Bobby had a headache, so he bailed on me; jPod had a choir concert in which he had a solo, so he bailed. And of course Guy had to go with jPod because he's his DAD. But I actually enjoyed the solitude for a change. I'd loaded up a bunch of new songs and the time just flew by.

Much as I love marathoning, the rest of my run training will likely be on trails for the rest of the season because I am doing my first ultras this year - a 50K in July and a 50 miler in September... both on mountains, and both on trails. Anyway, trail running is NOTHING like road running. It's so much harder and so much slower! And any conditioning I thought I had on the roads does not translate to the trails. I went just over 8 miles and it took me about 1:22, for an average speed of 10:58.... and I though I was working hard!

But it is also prettier:

... and it smells nicer...

... and the creeks have little animals running around near them...

But it's just so technically foreign. Here are a few things I learned so far:

1). All your energy dissipates into the dirt or wood chips or grass, so you have to work harder for a push-off every step.

2). Going downhill is an exercise in lowering your center of gravity and using your big quad muscles to support you. If you allow your feet to take the impact... well, lets just say I didn't have to do that more than once or twice. (youch!!) You also have to LIFT your knees a little even though you are stepping LOWER. Hard to explain, but it softens your landing.

3). You trail shoes can't fit like your road shoes. All that roomy comfort I enjoy in my road shoes will leave me with blistery feet, I can tell that already.

4). Roomy shoes also means that you will actually step right out of your shoes on the uphills.

5). You can't take your eyes off the ground unless you're not afraid of tripping or jamming your toes ..... because you really don't know what's underneath all those leaves.

6). It's really pretty out there.

That's what I know so far. If I think of any other gems of trail running tips, I will pass them along!

Goodnight everybody. xoxoxo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fargo Marathon and Mother's Day

... was a busy day at work and I was feeling nervous ALL day. Like if-I-held-out-my-hand-it-was-shaking, kind of nervous. I'm not sure why: maybe because I had only slept about 3.5 hours that night because Bobby had a school project that he'd neglected until Thursday night and needed my help for, so I was helping him while actually trying to concentrate on what I needed to pack for Fargo, I had a bunch of reports to collect data for and submit before leaving work on Friday, and I had wanted to duck out early as possible so I wouldn't get caught in a bunch of Fishing Opener traffic, and I needed to meet IronGreg on the highway somewhere on the way out of town because IronLaura had forgotten her running shoes and we had races on Saturday, and my "tire air pressure" light was on in my Tahoe. Arghhh! So many balls in the air! But I did manage somehow to get it all finished and was on the road at 2:35 p.m.

Laura and I stayed at her mom Betty's house. As soon as I got there we went to the grocery and liquor stores and then just hung out at the house. 
Ahhhh - the medicinal benefits of Summit Pale Ale, talking and chilling out. 
And laughing. I don't know why, but we can laugh about everything,  including (ok maybe especially) ourselves. We were falling off the chairs at one point. Ask Laura to tell you about the neighbor's dog; and the story about Greg at the IHOP. OMIGOSH - especially the IHOP story. ("[ringing cell phone] Can you please bring me some paper towels?") I can hardly type this I'm still laughing so hard. It is the best story. And "Brian's shoes". Sigh. Laughter is good. Especially in light of all else that's been going on in the past few months. I love you so much, Laura!

Fargo Marathon
So we got to the FargoDome about 30 minutes before the start. IronKaren (and baby Violet on board!!) and Betty sherpa'd all our gear and cheered us on. 

Lots of Laura's friends from Fargo also ran the half marathon. Here is Krysta - you may remember her from the wedding pictures. She was a bridesmaid back in November at Laura and Greg's wedding.

It was a great day for a run. 40 degrees and cloudy, breezy, but not gusty. The course was two loops and fast. All my friends had bailed on the full marathon due to injury, pregnancy, new job etc., so I was running alone. This was my 30th marathon and I can't remember EVER running by myself! But a flurry of txt messages from my cool, collected, always-says-just-the-right-thing running partner at home, Guy, as well as a bunch of others calmed me down and I put my game face on. It looked like a great day to go for a Boston Qualifier. I prayed at the start, the gun went off and so did I. 

I felt great from the first mile. At about the 4th I started running with a soldier carrying a flag. We got to talking and I told him about Robert, one of our tight circle of friends whom I ran Fargo with last year, but who is in Basra right now. I was going to ask if I could carry the flag for a bit in his honor, but then he told me that his friend was just killed in Iraq and he was carrying the flag for HIM. So I just started crying and I think he felt bad and then he promised that MY soldier would come home but I just said I was really sorry and then backed off and let him run ahead instead. I can't cry and run. And Robert IS coming home. He just is. I can't even go there.

One of my account managers, Dustin, was there and cheered for me a couple of times, and I saw Karen and Betty a couple times. But otherwise, it was quiet. Here are my splits. They look pretty consistent, eh???:

1). 9:14
2). 9:15
3). 9:18
4). 9:02
5). 8:56
6). 8:50
7). 8:58
8). 8:56
9). 9:07
10). 9:07
11). 9:00
12). 8:59
13). 8:57
14). 8:54
15). 9:38 (lightening fast potty stop)
16). 9:00
17). 9:02
18). 8:52
19). 8:48
20). 9:03
21). 9:00
22). 9:12
23). 9:07
24). 8:57
25). 8:49
26.2). 10:38
Total 3:56:54

So that's a BQ, and my personal best ever for this distance. I felt great all the way to the finish. 

Here are a couple of friends I ran into on the course: Jonny Jensen (in green), is the the trainer who hosts the inSANE spin classes I've posted about. 

After the race we took showers and then headed out to a barbecue at Krysta's house with a bunch of other friends who raced the half or full.

... and I had my first Wonder Woman shots. I need to get the recipe because they are great! It's "X-rated" (whatever that is) and some kind of blue energy drink, so it's purple, but so dang TASTY. I think I sipped at three of them.... between rum-and-Cokes, Jason's homemade beer, and a Mike's Hard Lemonade that we toasted Robert with (that's his beverage of choice). We went to a concert at the FargoDome to listen to a cover band - they were good, but I don't remember their name. It was getting to be a long day, so we went home and straight to bed.

Then I drove home this morning a little hungover. But what a great race! It couldn't have gone any better for me. I received lots of Mother's Day txts and calls, and when I got home I was so happy to see my kids!!! They were sleeping out in the tent in the back yard, but they were thrilled I was home. They and Bob gave me a new blender, a couple of plants, and Bobby had written me a prayer. I also got flowers, candy and a card from Robert in Iraq. Debbie Clift and I are like his two moms - always looking after him, trying to set him up, sending him cookies and videos, etc. That was so sweet of him to remember us! I hope you are all writing him. His address is on his facebook page.

Anyway, Ally ended up at a friend's house and Bobby and I laid out in the tent for about an hour just snuggling and talking. The cool breeze was blowing through the screens and we just talked. I can't believe I have an eleven year old son. I love him so much and feel so blessed by so many wonderful people and so "much" in my life. Sometimes it's easy to get frustrated and disappointed with the usual stuff I struggle with, but all I really need to do is look in my kid's eyes from time to time and the whole world makes sense again.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms. And thank you so much to all of you who thought of me today.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

May 2, 2009

Well, the one thing I have to say about going back to work is that the weeks just FLY by. I can't believe I've been with Coca Cola for 6 weeks already. 
It's a blast. 
The people are top drawer - every one of them from the VP to the managers to the drivers to the merchandisers -- everyone who touches our product in whatever role, does so because they WANT to. The culture is that of a team and everybody wants to win. And they also want each other to win. Seriously, I keep thinking something must be up because there is no way any corporation could have assembled such a fun, competitively friendly group of winners all under one roof. People are working; I'm not saying it's all playtime, but all day you hear people laughing and having fun while they are aggressively pursuing the competition and opening new accounts. I could not love a job more than the one I have.

Below is my boss on the left, and his (our) boss on the far right. In the bike clothes is Chuck, the owner of one of our best convenience retail accounts, NewMart/ Marathon Gas in Eagan. He is a big shot mountain biker and was out on a training ride and stopped by. See? Everyone's always having fun at Coke! How many of your clients choose "your office" as their destination on a training ride???!!!

I rode with Chuck and his family and friends in the MN Ironman Bike Ride last weekend. Below is a pic of me on Chuck's brother's bike -- he actually rode this baby in the race.... eliciting laughs and smiles from everyone who passed us. It was about 40 degrees and pouring rain, but it was still fun. Sort of like being on the Survivor show. I mean, there were buckets of near freezing water pouring on our heads for 3 hours. But I'm still glad I did it!

I will be doing my first Ultra trail runs this year (31 mile and 50 mile), so I'm working on getting a lot of training on that terrain. Road running totally doesn't translate! Becca, Maggie, Guy and I did the 25K Trail Mix a couple weeks ago and it was so hard! It's really hilly, and the spring from your steps dissipates into the grass or dirt, so I find it very difficult. Not that Guy wanted to intimidate me, but he did tell me that the terrain for our upcoming trail races is way WAY more technical than Trail Mix. So I am doing more trails to prepare.

Below are Bobby and jPod, who joined me on a one hour run last week. Guy had just returned from his Ultra Marathon in Chippewa and was recovering, so he just walked the trails with his camera, but the boys and I ran. We have a really beautiful park system here in Minnesota. This is at Wolsfeld Woods in Orono.

Speaking of jPod, he's a hockey goalie (that season is just wrapping up now) and he had a great game last night.... at least 45 saves! Way to go jPod!!! Here he is enjoying a very wise selection for his recovery drink. It's what all the best athletes drink and of course it's made and owned by Coca Cola. ;-) Thanks, Jeremy. You can have your dollar now.

Friday night I rode with Cathy and the crew from the Lifetime Bike Club. This is me with Normal Eric. (We already have a Crazy Eric in our club, so when this Eric joined we had to name him Normal Eric. I think he's OK with it). Anyway, he and Guy ran the Chippewa Ultra last weekend together. He's also a great biker and I'm riding with him tomorrow (Sunday for 3 hours). 

Today (Saturday) I rode with 5 girlfriends for 53 miles. It took us 3:03 of ride time, but almost 4 hours total because we stopped at gas stations to refuel, and Laura had to fix a flat. Was a beautiful day!! I was pretty beat because I did a one hour kettleball class beforehand (it's way too hard for me!!) Anyway, our ride was great - our fastest 5-mile split was 21.8 mph!

Now I am heading to a trunk show for some much needed shopping, then off to IronTim and IronKaren's house for a barbecue. Feels like it's summer already.

Have a great day everybody.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Good job, Bobby!!

OK, I just can't believe how fast Bobby is getting. Here are his splits from his 10K training run tonight:

1- 10:12
2 - 10:01
3 - 10:18
4 - 9:51
5 - 9:17
6 - 9:10
.2 - 1:32
TOTAL: 1:00:24

... and he's only 10 years old. Nice negative split, son!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Surprise visit from Robert!!

Robert came home for a couple of days!
He's been in Washington state for two months, training and otherwise preparing to re-deploy back to Iraq for his second tour of duty. We've really missed him, so it was awesome to have him here, even if only for a couple days. 

Here he is flanked by his two Minnesota "moms"... Debbie Clift and me. 

... here he is with one of his training partners, Anthony. He's from Kenya and he is way too fast for me to train with, but he is the coolest guy ever and one day we are going to climb Kilimanjaro together. He and Robert are good friends.

... Me with one of the best friends I have ever ever ever had, Holland. She and I are both training for the 50 mile trail ultra with Guy.

... Guy, me and Andrew, Holly's hubba.

... and Jennifer, Robert, Debbie, and my hubba, Bob.

I love this picture... me and Robert with Terri and Erin. Erin just went back to work this week, so now Terri has no one to train with. We'll see how she handles being alone because the three of us have spent and insane amount of time together!!! I still love you, Terri!

Then on Saturday, Guy, Becca, Maggie and I ran the 25K Trail Mix race in Bloomington. It was great practice for Moose Mountain because it was really hilly and had a little single track on the course. Guy kept reminding me that although it was better than doing just another pavement or road run, that the ultra will be "much, much more technical." Which was disappointing because I thought the Trail Mix was WAY hard and now I am feeling much less confident about the Moose Mountain ultra! we are at the start, with our friend Dave Smith:

... and on top of the ski jump hill...

We finished in 2:40:00 - which is by no means speedy, but like I said, it was really hard!

Then Guy and I headed over to coffee with the rest of the running club to say our last goodbyes to Robert before he got taken to the airport to head back to the base. 

... and that's when it just hit me (again) like a slug to the stomach and I just got so sad. I know he's brave and incredibly smart and very well trained and all that. But I just don't like where he's going.  Some of the meanest people in the history of the world live there and they don't just "not like him", but they want to kill him. And all he (and his fellow soldiers) wants to do over there is hand the good Iraqi guys back their country. But all it takes is one sniper with nothing to lose -- and there are thousands of them with nothing to lose -- and without giving Robert even a second thought they could just take him away from me. He's like a brother to me and the "fun" uncle to my kids and we love him so much. 

Then as I was driving Guy home, Robert was at my house gathering up his gear and saying bye to Ally and Bobby and they called just crying so hard... like they were in a panic... and there of course is nothing I can do... I can't make him stay, and I can't make them not be afraid. He's got a job to do and it just is what it is. But I think when they see him in his uniform the danger just seems so much more imminent. 

Robert texted last night to say he arrived safely. I had to tell him that Ally had gone into his room an hour earlier and had taken the civilian shirt he had been wearing while he was here, and that she was sleeping with it. He said she was really upset when he left, and that she could have his shirt. 

Tuesday he turns off his phone.

Wednesday he flies to Kuwait.

Two hundred ninety six days to go.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Omigosh that was GREAT.

It's been a long time.
A really long time.
Too long.
Months, I am sure.

Which is kind of sad, but around here it just is what it is.
But I'm back... WE are back!

Tonight it was so powerful and thrilling that I was absolutely spent. 
The kind of spent where you just collapse, panting, flushed. Thighs quivering. Definitely glowing. And you just can't get that grin off your face, no matter how hard you try!

Kevin, Terri and me. 

Working it in such perfect rhythm that we didn't even have to talk to each other; we just knew when to speed up and slow down; when to lead and when to follow. 

After an hour and a half we were ecstatic to finish up. 
Because everybody knows it's more fun when you finish at the same time.


OK, you can get your heads out of the gutter, you perverts. ;-)

It was our first hard outdoor bike ride! I missed you guys and it's so great to be "back in the saddle" with you again. We averaged 20 mph on the rolling hills, and it's only our first real day out that wasn't just a leisure ride.  

It was aMAzing

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday night run

OK so you know the boys (Bobby and jPod) are tallying their miles in advance of the Deadwood South Dakota Kids' Marathon... So tonight we logged 6 miles of trail running. Which took us almost two hours!!!

Because first we had to stop at the zip line for a couple of runs...

... and then we had to rest at the cross-country trailhead at Wayzata High School...

... and climb an old deer stand...

... and watch the WHS lacrosse practice...

... and chill out in the boys' carpeted luxury fort (Guy)...

... Jeremy and Bobby in the fort...

... finally, finally we ran the rest of the way home.

So we did actually log our miles sometime after the sunset. It was getting cold so it was good to get back. And eat sliced oranges. The big juicy ones from Cub Foods.

I swear, it is the coolest thing how well our boys get along; they are like identical kids. At one point Bobby said, "I wish Jeremy were my brother instead of Ally" (which made jPod just beam). OK, maybe that wasn't totally cool because Ally is actually a pretty good sister and we're going to keep her ;-) ... but nevertheless,  Bobby's never said that about any of his other friends; and he's got some great top-drawer friends.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend, part II

Last night the Pettises came over for dinner. Our kids had been playing together all day.
After dinner, the boys allowed us to see the fort they'd been working on:

... check it out - they even put carpeting (moss) on the floor of it!

Bobby and Jeremy showing us where they harvested the moss from... tricky not to fall in the water retrieving it..

And here's Guy my running partner. 

... and here are the parents: Susan and Guy, and Bob and me.

Happy Easter everybody - there may be a part III coming, as a bunch of triathletes are coming over later today for a bike ride. This has been the best weekend ever!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Weekend Underway...

Well, spring has finally arrived in Minnesota - we are hoping to see 60 degrees today - let me tell you it. is. gorgeous. out there today!

Yesterday was Good Friday so the Holmeses and Jenn and Laura came over with all the kids. We made homemade pizzas and then watched The Passion of the Christ. Not an easy movie to watch, and not all the kids took part. But Bobby did and a couple of Trimama's and Taconite's watched as well. It is so powerful and difficult and sad and wonderful and probably a much more accurate depiction of Jesus' final hours than the pared down version from Sunday school. I am amazed everyday by the sacrifice He made for me. Something I could never, ever earn. He is indeed the one true "shepherd of my heart" and my life. Forever.

Which are the words from a song from Guy's running playlist. Which song, you'll have to ask Guy. ;-) He and I got up early this morning for a three-loop run of 7 miles + 7 more + 5 more = a total of 19. First let me tell you the weather was great. We started shortly after the full moon set, watched and listened as the early morning sun woke up the birds, and we just talked for the first 7 miles. I love running with Guy. We would have been best friends if we knew each other in 4th or 5th grade. I KNOW that. ;-) Then for the second 7, Laura and Zurich joined us and the three of us listened to our coordinated playlists - this is my new favorite way to run: to share our lists with each other in advance, then press play at the same time so we could rock out to the same tunes.

We dropped Laura and Zurich and picked up Susan (and Alice her dog) and Margo for the final five. Alice is a bit out of shape from the winter, so we slowed it down a bit for the last loop. But I was happy with that - never have to twist my arm to slow down. ;-) We dropped them off and then Guy and I ran back home for a total of 19 miles. 

1- 9:14
2- 9:18
3- 9:13
4- 9:04
5- 9:10
6- 9:21
7- 9:29
8- 9:34
9- 9:50
10- 9:32
11- 9:25
12- 9:14
13- 9:06
14- 9:02
15- 9:40
16- 10:20
17- 10:14
18- 10:10
19- 10:11
TOTAL - 3:01:24

A perfect morning... but it gets even better from here! Laura took a shower at my house, and called IronGreg while Guy and I were finishing up, so he came over with fresh eggs and orange juice and made all of us omelettes! They were awesome! I love Greg. He is the BEST. Mine had three eggs, sausage and cheese and mushrooms and red bell peppers... mmmm - it was GREAT.

So Guy left shortly afterward to bring the jPod over to play with Bobby. Our boys are building a fort in the woods behind my house. Apparently jPod thinks they should insulate it for winter ;-) ... how can you not love and be grateful for the chance to just be around the imaginations of your kids?! They are so precious to me.

So I'm doing housework for a couple hours now; then Ally and I are going to fly a kite while the boys work on their fort. (They won't let her help with the fort because it's for boys only and she isn't even allowed to know exactly where it is. Neither am I.) 

Have a blessed Easter weekend everybody. 

Hallelujah. He is Risen. 

In case you ever wondered what a bunch of Jesus freaks look like, here are a few of us from last night!