September 13, 2017

09/09/17 Fall Superior Moose Mountain Marathon

Moose Mountain Marathon (and volunteering!)

Registering for Moose Mountain Marathon now involves entering into a lottery. They have 250 spots available and many more registrations than that so the lottery system was put into place a few years ago. I was lucky enough to get one of the lottery spots in 2017 so I could go back and run my 3rd Moose Mountain Marathon. After last years pacing gig I decided it was time to run my own race this year.

This is a trip I would not miss (and haven't for 4 years now!) so had I not gotten into the lottery I would have still gone up to volunteer and possibly see if anyone needed a pacer for the 100 mile race.

I headed up Friday morning and was scheduled to work the Tettegouche Aid station from Noon to 7:30 pm. If it was not busy toward 6:30 or so I was hoping I could head out early so that I could pick up my packet on Friday evening rather than at the start line on Saturday morning.

I always enjoy helping out at the aid stations for the 100 milers. I have volunteered at Silver Bay and Beaver Bay aid stations in the last two years so was excited to help out at a different location this year. When I arrived the station was already set up so we were able to just await the arrival of the first of the runners. This aid station is in Tettegouche State Park and it is about a 1/3 mile walk uphill to get to the aid station. There is not a lot of space in this area and the Superior Hiking Trail runs right past where the table is set up.

The area starts to fill up with crew and spectators awaiting their runners arrival. The front runners start to arrive one or two at a time and they do not stay long nor need much from the aid station. We concentrate on getting them back out on the trail quickly. This aid station is at 34.9 miles into the race and comes off a hard section. For the most part the runners are still looking strong and good at this aid station and there are very few drops here although I did notice one that appeared to be a drop due to a twisted ankle.

Julio from Defeat the Stigma was crewing a 100 mile runner.
In between runners I am able to visit with friends whom are crewing or spectating and it is fun catching up with those I have not seen in a while. I finished up my volunteer duties around 6 pm and headed back to the car to drive over to Caribou for packet pickup. I opted not to have a drop bag as I thought I would not make it Friday evening to drop one off. I reconsidered briefly while at packet pickup but realized that I really would not change socks in a marathon anyway. Takes too much time anyway and they would just get wet and muddy again very quickly.

I stayed at Sollbaken Resort this year which is just north of Lutsen about 5 miles. I shared a room with some friends. After laying out my gear for the morning I crawled into bed and shut the lights out around 10pm or so.

Flat Janet ready for the morning!
The alarm was set for 5:25 am to leave around 6:15 or :6:30 for Caribou Highlands to catch the first bus over to the start line which is Cramer Road. This is a point to point race run totally on the Superior Hiking Trail. We had been getting reports that it was quite muddy with all the recent rains but the weather was suppose to be perfectly sunny with high temps somewhere in the high 60's. The start was colder at about 50 degrees but we really could not ask for a better day for running a race on the SHT.
On the bus waiting to leave for the start line

On the bus waiting to leave for the start line

Listening to the race announcements and the countdown to the start of the race.

My friend Amy at the start line. I had contacted her on facebook and said, "hey lets run together for awhile".
We arrived at the start line with about 45 minutes to wait for the 8 am race start. Got into line for the porta potties as I figured I would be standing around anyway so might as well make it productive. It turned out to be a good decision. I saw many of my friends either running or volunteering while waiting around for the start. It is always good to catch up with old friends.

John made his announcements (they added porta potties to the Temperance Aid Station which received some enthusiastic applause!) John kindly waited for those waiting for the porta potties to get their turns and then counted down to race start.  This race begins running Cramer road before it goes onto the Superior Hiking Trail. The idea is to spread the runners out so there is less of a bottle neck at the trail. It is also suppose to get the runners more in line with their pace so that the faster folks are out front and on down the line. Amy and I pushed forward to at least the middle of the group so we did not have everyone in the field in front of us. We hit the trail and came to a complete stop. I was expecting this though. It happens every year. Not much to be done to change it when you have 250 people trying to funnel onto a single track trail.

We got moving onto the trail and immediately we pop back out to cross the road where many spectators were waiting for us and cheering us on. We also ran past the Cramer Road Aid station as we came upon that very quickly. No aid needed so early in the race so no need to stop.

Researched the last two finishing times and determined the pace needed to PR.
 Cramer Road to Temperance

This first section is the longest distance for the Marathon at 7.9 miles. This section is very runnable (as runnable as rocks, roots and mud is!) and Amy and I were cruising along very well. We leap frogged this section with each other as well as many other runners. I managed to run splits that varied between 14, 15 and 16ish minute miles. I was well ahead of my overall average pace of 16:30 needed to PR and from experience knew that I needed this cushion to account for the big climbs coming up but especially for Moose and Mystery Mountain in the last leg of the race. Amy and I ran into this aid station together. I knew that I needed to get in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible if my PR was even going to be a possibility so with a full hydration bladder only planned on grabbing pb&j sandwiches and using the porta potty. I took one look at the line and quickly made the decision I would be using the woods instead of wasting precious time waiting in line. I saw my friends, Dave S. and Mike M. here but only had time to say a quick hi before leaving. If I spend too much time in aid stations my races would be really long!

Temperance to Sawbill
I left Amy behind in the aid station and headed out. The section running down along Temperance River is one of my favorite sections. #1 I enjoy running downhill and #2 it is running along side the river with great views and the sound of the running water! I quickly had to find the best spot get rid of that morning coffee and then hit the trail running yet again. After crossing Temperance River we run the north side of the river and this is where we slowly start what I call the long slow incline to the backside of Carlton Peak. Some of this section is runnable but with the climb many of it needs to be power hiked. I passed some runners throughout this section and I am sure many runners also passed me. There were groups of runners that I leapfrogged with many times on this section and even the next.

There were many opportunities for awesome pictures
 but I was so set on trying to PR this is it for trail pics!

At some point Amy caught up with me again and even passed me by. We swapped positions many times during this first half of the race. Some friendly competition ensued and I think we both pushed each other harder than we might have if we had been alone. One thing I have noticed in my races is that running or trying to keep up with someone can sometimes make a race not as enjoyable for me after a while. I think Amy even agrees with me (we discussed it on trail) that we both like to be out there on the trail running alone at times. Lots of company on the trail is not always welcome when running such long distances. I do know playing leap frog constantly can get uncomfortable after too long. The climb up the back side of Carlton Peak seemed to go on forever! I remember thinking that I was glad that I did not need to go all the way to the peak like during the Spring Superior 50k race. Running down the hill on the way north brought back memories of the difficult climb during my 50k race in 2016. For that race I had been trying to keep up with Robyn and that was when I realized that I enjoy myself much better if I am not trying to run someone else's race. I was still ahead of my average pace and was feeling good if not a bit tired up to this point. I had not paid attention to how far Sawbill was so when we were close to Sawbill aid station I was surprised. Sawbill was at mile 13.6 miles making it just slightly greater than the half way point. I ran into Sawbill and just grabbed more pb&j sandwiches and walked out of the aid station eating.

Sawbill to Oberg
I don't remember much about this section except that my right knee was starting to hurt. It was hurting on the outside of the knee and behind the knee slightly. It felt fine walking or climbing but running flats and going downhill was starting to hurt considerably. I watched my cushion of time just melt away in this section. Amy also caught up with me just before coming into Oberg. This section is very runnable and I was starting to slow down considerably. I got into the Oberg aid station and was no longer smiling. I knew what was coming up and going downhill was no longer working for me. I typically love running downhill and try to use it to make up for time lost going uphill. Going into climbing Moose and Mystery without a cushion I knew that I would not be hitting my goal for this race. At this point I just wanted to be done and I knew I just needed to take the next section as best as I could.

Oberg to Finish

I grabbed some more food to go and headed out of the aid station as quickly as possible. I knew I had major climbs ahead and just concentrated on moving forward by running when I could and walking when I had to. This meant that I did a lot of walking down the hills. Oh well I would just finish the best I could and not stress out too bad and try not to beat myself up over missing my goal. When stuff like this happens I just reevaluate my priorities and get it done. I need to finish this race doing the least amount of damage to my knee as possible. If this meant slowing down so be it. Amy passed me up on this section and I just had to let it go. She was doing very well and feeling good. She looked like she was having a great race. I powered my way up Moose and hit my favorite section at the top. I tried to enjoy this section as much as possible. I ran my slow slog with some walking mixed in. I hit the downhill and moved through the downhill slowly but was still moving forward.

Next up is the long slow climb up Mystery Mountain. This is a more gradual climb with lots of switch backs as you move up the Mountain. Somewhere on this incline another runner came up behind me and passed me by. She was moving well. We power hiked together for awhile and talked about where we lived. Turns out she moved from the east coast to Illinois about the same time I moved out of my hometown of Kenosha which is not far from the Illinois border. It was nice having a short distraction as we kept moving forward. On this section there is much up and down throughout. I have learned that the trail is all downhill after we hit the campsite. Once I see that campsite I know it is all downhill following the Poplar River. Normally I enjoy this downhill but with the knee that was not happening this race. I just powered through knowing I had only about 1 mile left until I could cross that finish line for my 3rd Moose Mountain Marathon finish.

I finally hit the bridge over the river and knew I was close while at the same time knowing the rest was going to hurt. No problem, just keep moving forward. I really tried to pick up the pace once I hit that gravel road but my knee was not having any part of it. I got passed by a handful of runners on that last road section and while that killed me my main goal was not to injure myself further so I let it go.

Finally I crossed the finish line! I heard my name announced as I was running in and not sure why but it was announced that I ran the marathon without a drop bag. Still trying to figure out how they knew that. Finishing time was respectable, even though I missed my goal, of 7:36 and change. The race did not go as well as I would have liked but I am pleased that I finished.
Me glad that it was finally done!
 (Photo credit: Mike Wheeler)

This captures how I was feeling the last half of the race. Pain.
(Photo Credit: Mike Wheeler)

Finishing stats:
Finishing Time: 7:36:25
Overall Avg. Pace 17:40
Overall Place 196/302
Female Place 78/139
Grand Master Place 7/25

July 6, 2017

Spring Superior 25K Trail Race

May 20, 2017

When the lottery opened up for Spring Superior in January I was still not sure what the status of my Morton's Neuroma on my right foot would look like so I made the decision to register for the 25K. I believe this was the right decision. My level of training since last Septemeber was overall lower monthly mileage than in previous years. Add in some of life challenges that hit this year and deciding to keep my races to shorter distances is working well. So the 25k race was a comfortable enough distance that not getting a run in the week leading up to the race did not have me worried in the least.

I took Friday off work and headed up to Lutsen around noon after a detour to do some REI shopping. At the last minute the weekend plus changed slightly and I found myself car pooling with my friend Dawn K. for the second year in a row. After about 5 hours on the road we pulled into Lutsen at 6:30 pm just in time to quickly check into our room at the Mountain Inn and head over to packet pickup. We talked to a bunch of friends then decided to eat a late dinner at Moguls.

As the day progressed the weather started to look better for our race. It had rained almost all week and was predicted to be cloudy and rainy for the race. The start of the rain kept being bumped later into the day and we ended up with no rain during the race.

Flat Janet ready to run
I woke up Saturday morning after a pretty good nights sleep. I woke before the alarm went off and headed out to the lobby to get a cup of coffee to make sure it was not gone. In previous years this had been a problem and I don't like to start my morning without coffee! 

The race started at 8 am and we all gathered in the street for the traditional "John on the ladder" announcements. and we were off.

Waiting for the start with Dawn K and Jenn
 As usual I like to position myself towards the back of the pack or at least mid pack. The road is a great spot to allow the runners to get into pace position so there is not much of a congo line once we hit the single track. With all the rain during the week and as is normal on the SHT in May there was alot of mud in the first section of running. My goal was to finish the race under 4:02 which was my finish time in 2014 the last (and first) time I ran the 25k. This meant I needed to maintain a sub 15:30 per mile average pace. While I kept an eye on my average pace my goal was to run happy. I found myself around other runners that also wanted to run a sub 4 hour pace and we played leap frog through the entire race. It is 7.5 miles out to the turnaround and only aid station on the 25k. I tend to run out and back races happier after the turnaound but this is the SHT so ran happy for the entire race. This is not to say it was not hard climbing Mystery and Moose Mountain (especially Moose!) but I just walked or power hiked the ups and ran the downhills and flats. My favorite section of this trail is between Mystery and Moose as it is very runnable and also includes the ridge of Moose Mountain with all the pines.

Wouldn't be Spring Superior without the mud!

Running down to Oberg AS
I made it to Oberg, quickly downed a cup of coke and grabbed some PB & J sandwiches and headed back out. I must have only been in the aid station about a minute. I was on a mission and my garmin was showing me I had no time to spare. I climbed Oberg and then hit Moose. Wow this is the hardest climb of this race. It is steep coming up and going down and requires me to walk both the up and the down. After running Moose I noticed my average pace was starting to slip and I was positive that I was watching my sub 4 hour race slip away.

No time to waste at Aid Stations, must keep moving!
Anyone ever tell you it is hard to run and eat PB&J sandwiches at the same time?

As I was climbing Mystery I met back up with another runner, Joe, whom I had met earlier and had mentioned he was looking for a sub 4 hour race. I told him that we were not going to make it and he said yes we were going to make it. Apparently my GPS was not tracking correctly. Joe and I ran about the last 2 to 3 miles together but after we reached the downhill homestretch Joe got ahead of me running through a mud puddle and he managed to pull ahead of me a little. I tried to chase him down but realized that was not happening!  When I hit the gravel road after crossing the Poplar River (the sound of the Poplar River is music to your ears at this race!) I look at my watch and I had 15 minutes to get to the finish line and finish under 4 hours. I finally realized I was going to hit my goal. Every time I run this course I won't allow myself to walk the gravel or the paved road. My body is always screaming at me to walk. I just maintain a slow slog to the finish. Well I do manage to give a little kick once I leave the road to run the path to the finish. This year was no different. I finished in 3:50:43 with an average pace of 14:52. I killed my PR by 12 minutes and was quite pleased with my efforts. As always I really enjoy running the Superior Hiking Trail and Rocksteady races. I will be back in September to run Moose Mountain Marathon!

Finishing Stats:
Avg Pace 14:52
#98/185 female finishers
#10/ Grandmaster females
Lutsen Resort at bottom of the hill on the Superior

Awesome Breakfast Buffet as part of our Stay at Mountain Inn at the Lutsen Resort

June 14, 2017

Chippewa 50k Trail Race


April 29, 2017

 This was my fourth year running the 50k distance and the 5th year running the Chippewa Races held at the end of April every year in New Auburn, WI on the Ice Age Trail. I had just spent the week down in Northern Illinois with family after my Father passed away. It had been questionable as to whether I would make it to this race or not. I was able to make it and the plan for the day was to just enjoy a day to myself out in the woods. Time to reflect on the recent events over the last month and my Dad's death. April was not a fun month at all.

This course is an out and back with several aid stations along the way. As with most out and back races the out for me being near the back of the pack means I pass almost the entire field of runners on their way back to the finish line. I had four hours for the first half and 5 hours for the last half to finish. I was not worried about making cutoff's as I have successfully completed this distance and race three years prior to this. This race was for me. I was not going to try to keep up with anyone and intended to run at my own pace according to what was comfortable for me.

I did spend some time on the trail with friends at different times of the race and it was nice. Robyn has been killing her races so I knew I would not be able to keep up with her but there were others on the course that were running closer to my pace. I got into the turnaround aid station with about 15 minutes to spare. Spent some time eating and refilling my pockets with cliff bloks and then headed back out. That 5ish mile section to the next aid station always feels extra long for some reason. It is nice trail in the woods on single track. This course definitely has its charm. In the spring the leaves are not filled out and you can see lots of the countryside and the many lakes all along the trail. This course is described as rolling hills and it is definitely that! Those hills start to take their toll. The accumulated hills had me starting to hurt around mile 21 and I decided to take some ibuprofen to soften the aches and pains. This helped me to get my second wind and I was able to run much of those last 10 miles. That and quite often towards the end of races I start to get barn sour and just want to be done!

I did not set a new PR with this race but I was able to complete it sub 8 hours so was very happy with that. I had not run this distance since last September at Goosebumps 24 hour and it was nice to know that even with a Morton's Neuroma I am still able to run and complete a 50k trail race. 

Robyn and I at the start

Dave and I at the start
Here we go!

In the first few miles still feeling good!
Behind the Visitor Center about 2 miles in for the day
The final hill!

Just found out I was a Grandma as of 8 am that morning about 2 weeks early!
Finishing swag!
8/15 Grandmaster Females
45/62 Females
144/174 Overall

Zumbro 17 Mile Trail Race and Volunteering

April 8, 2017
Zumbro River Bottoms

This year I decided to play it safe and run the 17 mile race to ease into the racing season not knowing how my right foot will hold up with the Morton's Neuroma. Mileage this winter was much lower than last year due to the injury and I want to continue running so sticking to fewer miles is the smartest way to handle things for this year.

This year I decided to volunteer Friday night and sleep in my van to wake up and run. So I arrived at Zumbro around 6 pm after work to start my shift at Aid Station 5, the start/finish area. I helped at the Aid Station until 10 or so and then helped with the 50 mile check in until 11:30 to then get to sleep by midnight. I really like my system of van camping in the minivan. We take out the back seats and I have foam to lay down. This year I gear tested my new down sleeping bag for backpacking from REI. The bag was a success! I did not sleep as well as at home in my bed but there was no place I would rather be than at Zumbro for what I consider to be the race season kick off. There is nothing better than hanging out at Zumbro River Bottoms with all the trail runners, new and old friends alike.

Coffee and getting ready for the race!

My Van Camping Rig

Great Parking options at the Race Start/Finish Line

Bed for the Night
I woke up in the morning and used my backpacking stove to make coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. In recent years the start of the 17 mile race was changed to allow the runners to spread out more before hitting the single track trail. This worked nicely as the faster runners were able to stay out ahead and all the runners were able to get into position according to pace. We hit the first big hill, one of many!

View at the top of the first climb!

Zumbro River Bottoms

Everyone's favorite Tree section!
Running Happy! Section after Aid Station 1

Still running happy! After Aid Station 1
Oh those long and slow climbs!
I felt good for most of this race. I left aid station 2 and hit the section that always seems unrunnable to me. This year the sand was soft and deep so it was even harder to run. The trails were very dry and the weather was amazing but it made all that sand especially hard to run. I ended up walking a good portion of that sand!

I left aid station 3 to head up another big hill feeling fairly good. That climb is always hard. It seems to go on forever and even when running the ridge there are several more smaller inclines to get to the very top! Then once to the top you hit Ant Hill. Feeling confident I passed others going down. Wow does this hill hurt your ankles though. If you are going to run down this you have to really be light on your feet. I was doing well and got through all the rocks and hit the less technical portion of the down. And next thing I know I was falling down hill! It felt like I was falling in slow motion and I remember trying to control my fall to make sure that I did not hurt myself. It was quite interesting. Of course the first thing I did was look behind me to see if anyone saw me fall. Either that or to see if anyone was going to run over me while I assessed the damage. A little blood and a jammed thumb but otherwise everything felt good.

At the bottom of the hill we get to the long gravel road. I really wanted to run this the entire way but I just could not do it. I ran/walked this section and hit AS 4 with no intention of stopping. I had what I needed to finish and did not need to stop.

I slogged my way through these last miles and just kept moving. Of course when I hit the campground I attempted to run it in. I think I succeeded in that .

15/29 Grandmaster Female
139/203 Female
331/425 Overall
15:29 Average Pace

November 6, 2016

Icebox480 Trail Race, 11/5/16 5, 2016
Whitetail Ridge Bike Trail
River Falls, WI

This was the 4th annual Icebox480 race. It was my 3rd year running the race. This race is very local for me. Last year I regretted missing the race so knew that I would be running it this year. It is a great opportunity to run 8 hours in the woods with friends and a great way to end the race season.

This year was a big year for me in mileage and races. I achieved my goals and then some. I have been struggling, though, since around the end of August. It started with a training run that resulted in some major pain in the toes of my right foot. I blamed it on a new shoe purchase and quickly sent those shoes back to the store and went back to running in the brand I had been running in for over a year. I thought this would fix it and everything would be good. I was able to get in some good training runs and then on another training run it happened again. It was time to taper for my pacing duties at Fall Superior so I tapered and hoped that this would be the end of it. I ran Superior with manageable pain in my foot but started to get worried. I talked to a few people who had similar pain in their feet and the news was not good. This was not going to stop me, though, and I ran Goosebumps 24 hour run with considerable pain that was on and off throughout the race. I was stubborn. I wanted that 100k and 24 hour run so I ran through it. After that race I realized that I needed to take a step back and get this injury healed or at least figured out.

I actually went to a Podiatrist to see what was happening. Armed with information on the various injury possibilities and wanting to rule out a stress fracture I showed up for my appointment. She told me what I did not want to hear. Morton's Neuroma. In a nut shell all I got was "wear a metatarsal pad in your current running shoes until you replace them and resume your activities slowly." While I thought this was good news, she did not tell me to quit running, I left this appointment with not much of anything. So I tried to resume my running that week. Just what does "resume your activities slowly" mean when you are an ultra runner logging 30+ miles a week? I ran a few easy training runs that week without pain and decided to host a group run out at Lebanon that Saturday. This run was a disaster. I was in considerable pain and instead of stopping my run I ran 6 miles with the group. After this run I realized that I needed to do something. I work best by setting goals so I asked my friend Robyn to be my accountability partner and set a goal to NOT run for three weeks until Icebox480. I would pool run, recumbant bike ride, and at the most hike with my husband on the weekends. This was very difficult. But I made it the entire three weeks without doing any running. I was still experiencing pain in my foot even though I was not running.  I sold and transferred my Surf the Murph 50 mile race bib, with permission from the RD, to another runner and chose to volunteer at the race instead. Although this was hard I wanted to be involved with the race.  Surf was my first completed 50 mile race the year before and I really wanted to run that race to try to pr my time.

Finally Icebox480 race day arrived. I went into the race keeping my expectations very low. I would do at least one 7 mile loop and then see how I felt. I knew I could hike this race and the beauty of an 8 hour race is that you can do as much or as little as you want. Well, except that you do need to finish at least 1 loop in order to not DNF or DNS.

Weather was predicted to get in the upper 60's and may very well have hit 70 degrees at least. Very unusual temps for early November but it was great weather for running and in my case partially hiking in the woods. The sun was shining and there was very little wind to speak of. The trail was dry and overall it was a great day to be in the woods seeing all my trail running friends and getting in some long awaited trail running.

On the Upper Midwest Trail Runner Facebook page there was a group of runners from the Brainerd area looking for someplace to camp the night before and all the local campgrounds were full. I live in the country and I am only 30 minutes from River Falls so I offered up my yard to total strangers! But, hey, they are trail runners so really not strangers at all. Turns out we had a mutal acquaintance and I had even run with a few of them at local group runs. Yes, this trail running community is getting larger but still seems like a small community at the same time.   They arrived late Friday night (after I had gone to bed) and in the morning I made them some coffee and we got to know each other and then they followed me up to the race.

I arrived at the race around 6:45 am for packet pickup. That was after stopping at the gas station to use the facilities and get some more coffee. It was busy at the gas station as there were other runners that had the same thoughts as me. Avoid the porta pottie lines at the start of the race! I dropped off my drop bin (of course overpacked with things I never needed, but it is better to be prepared just in case), picked up my packet and started chatting with others while waiting for the race to begin. It was still dark but the sky was starting to lighten as the sun rose. By the time the race began just a little after 7:30 we no longer needed the headlamps.

There was a few announcements, which I mostly missed and could not hear. I made sure to get in the very back as I knew I would be moving slow and did not want to be in others way.  The countdown began and we were off. I was in no hurry so the walking to funnel onto the single track trail did not bother me in the least.

Loop 1
I thought I was starting at the very back of the pack but somehow I got in front of some runners that ended up passing me at some point within the first few miles. I found myself running with Kelly and we chatted about injuries and health in general. I quickly realized that by trying to keep up with her I was pushing myself too hard with my foot issue. This day was suppose to be all about taking it easy and after tweaking my right ankle a few times I backed off.  I found myself hiking with Julie and Vicky and I discovered that both of them have experience with a Neuroma. I had never heard of this injury or issue before and all of a sudden I am running across alot of runners who have had, have it or have taken measures to fix it, through surgery and even a new procedure called cryotherapy.

So far things were feeling good. I was concerned about the few times I seemed to hit a root or rock on the trail and would tweak my ankle. The last thing I needed was to injure my foot further with a different issue. I was starting to wonder how just 6 weeks of low to no running could weaken my ankles so much! Or maybe it was the 72 miles out at Goosebumps that just really messed everything up. Turns out I just had my shoes tied too loosely and when I finally decided to tighten my laces (on the second loop!) I had more ankle stability.

I finished up my first loop feeling surprisingly good. I believe I finished in about 1:45 and my plan was to complete 2 hour loops I took my time at the aid station knowing that I did not need to rush out like I normally would.

Feeling good and enjoying my time on the trail!
Loop 2
I headed out on my second loop feeling good and telling myself to take it easy to ensure that I would not injure my foot. I was enjoying being out on the trail enjoying the fabulous weather! I ran very slowly and hiked the hills. It was on this loop that both of my feet started to hurt as a result of my loose shoe laces! I think my feet were moving around too much and causing my metatarsals to hurt as a result. I finally tightened my laces about 6 miles into the loop! I really should have done that a long time ago as it made a huge difference. As I was finishing up this loop I told myself that this was the last loop. I wanted to be smart, even though in my heart I wanted to keep going. So I made the decision to hang out at the finish line and cheer on all my friends. I told one friend, Jim, that I was going to run this race with my head and not my heart. This conversation came up again later in the day to my chagrin.

So I hung out at the finish line. Took my shoe off and chatted with some friends.

Julie and Vicky, my hiking partners for part of loop 2
After sitting and relaxing for about an hour I decided to head back out to hike a third loop. I had just shy of three hours left of the race and knew that after a mile I could choose to bail if things weren't looking good.

Loop 3

I headed out on this loop with Dawn and was planning on running only some but mostly hiking. After trying out running slowly and realizing that nothing felt any different running or walking I took to running. It felt so good to be out there I could not stop myself. I know some would lecture me and ask if running 21 miles with an issue is smart but I have really gotten to know my body and the difference between injury pain and just normal ultra running pain. My discomfort had nothing to do with my injury and more to do with my low mileage for the last six weeks.I completed this last loop in about 2 hours as well. There was still an hour left on the clock when I finished up but this time I was done for sure. 21 miles was way more than I ever expected to run and I am happy with those results. I hung out at the aid station and cheered on all the runners that were running the 1 mile short loop. While walking that 1 mile loop did cross my mind briefly I decided to be nice to those trying to get in their mileage and not walk this loop and get in everyone's way in the process.

Felt good to be racing! Group runs are great but there is nothing like running a race!

With the sun shining brightly all day my company for the day!

The trail was surprisingly clear of leaves in many places

Lots of green for early November!

So I am officially putting an end to my running moratorium. I will go forward with running and take it easy to see what happens. If what I have is a Neuroma there is no amount of not running that will help it. This journey will become more about managing it instead. If what I have learned about this condition is true others have been running with it for years. Only time will tell how this will play out and in the meantime I will try to hold back on setting any goals or expectations for next year's racing season. In the meantime I am going to enjoy running weekends with others out on the trail.
Lebanon winter running here I come!

September 27, 2016

Goosebumps 6/24 hour Run
September 23/24, 2016; Friday 2 pm until Saturday 2 pm La Crosse, WI on the Mississippi River at Goose Island County Park

I originally registered for the 24 hour race last year planning on running 12 hours. Then the unexpected opportunity for a Boundary Waters trip opened up and I bailed on the race to go up North. I have been looking forward to this run for well over a year!The goal was set to run 100k or to keep moving for 24 hours. Getting to this race proved more difficult than I thought, however.
  • My training and races up to this point were going well. Well, except for a new situation happening with my toes on my right foot. About three weeks ago I picked up some Hoka Stinson ATR's and went for a run (had been running in Hoka Challengers for the last year) and had some pain develop in my toes after a few miles. I was on a trail loop so finished up the 6 miles in pain. I replaced those shoes with the Challengers again and was hoping that would take care of the problem. While the pain has not been as intense as the original run it has not gone away. So while I had big goals for the race I knew that my foot might very well determine the results I would actually be able to achieve.
  • Rain, rain and more rain! We have had so much rain that just one day before the race it was announced that the run may need to be cancelled. Either just the 24 hour cancelled or the entire event. I had taken Friday off work, my last paid vacation day this year, and I did not want to use it up at home. I started to research Plan B. The Grand Traverse race was happening in Duluth and I started to set plans in motion to head up north. The announcement was made on Thursday evening that the race was on with a possible short, short loop. I was so unsure what this would look like for 24 hours that I decided to head up North to run the SHT instead. I woke up Friday morning and as I saw the posts starting to come through on Facebook I started to have second thoughts about bailing on the race I had been planning on and looking forward to for over a year. After much indecision and waffling I decided to go to Goosebumps and hope for the best of conditions. It was the best decision! As a friend told me the race would be what I would make of it.
I arrived to the race at 1 pm after a little bit of commotion at home that caused me to leave late. As I was parking in my spot my friends Dave and Erich pulled in alongside me. This was Tent City and I was very pleased as my tent was my minivan! Each loop would run right by my car. This could not have been more perfect! I had brought a canvas awning for just in case and told Dave and Erich if they helped me set it up we could share it. It did not rain but it was nice to have to put our things under it for grabbing quickly while passing by. I set up my chair, which I dubbed my quitters chair. I am happy to report that it only held my gear the entire run. We headed over to the start line just before the 2 pm start and after a few announcements by Richard, the Race Director, he counted down and we were off.
Dave and I at the start of the race
Loops 1 - 20

The loop was 1.85 miles, shorter than the previous loop of 2.8 miles. This modified loop was a result of all the flooding and high water and I was happy it was not down to a mile! I started out with Erich and Dave running their run/walk method. They were on pace for an average 14 minute mile. While the walking is great their walking pace is too uncomfortable for me causing me to over stride. I kept up for one loop and then had to cut them loose and continue on my own. I did end up catching back up with them on loop two but at my own pace.

My Garmin watch is only good for about 14 1/2 hours so I brought with a portable usb charger to charge the watch as I ran. I wanted to capture the entire run and also track my overall pace and mileage. Each time you completed a loop the lap counters would track it but I do like my electronic records for tracking. I planned on manually lapping my watch when I left the aid station. This helps me not spend too much time in the aid stations as my watch will show me my average lap pace including the non moving time. Well after the first loop instead of hitting the lap button I paused my watch instead!! Did not realize it until about 1 1/2 miles into the second loop. Boy this was not starting out good. Now I would have to do race math. Things could get interesting.

I ran by myself from the start of the race until around 6 pm when Kristine Tibor was set to run with me through the night. She was also running the 24 hour but promised she would stick with me and be my "pacer" for the night. This was awesome! Well back to the first four hours by myself. I struggled for much of these hours. My right foot started hurting before my second loop was complete and I knew that while I could possibly manage the pain and discomfort it would put a damper on my run. I was not having a very good run and could not stop thinking to myself that if I was already struggling in the first 20 miles of the race how could I expect to complete 62 miles?? It was a very good thing that Kristine joined me. She was able to keep me out of my head and think about other things as we continued to run/walk the loop. I was getting the loops done between 30 to 35 minutes including my aid station time. I tried to spend very little time in the aid stations and instead grab food to go. I started running with a handheld water bottle and after Kristine joined me I realized that I needed to ditch the bottle. I normally don't like carrying water bottles during my run and after at least four hours I think it was making me very crabby. So the plan was to just hydrate at the aid station on each loop. This worked out perfectly. I just made sure to drink each time through and because I was not experiencing a lack of bathroom breaks (I actually started to worry I was peeing too much, is that possible?)I figured I was adequately hydrated.

The aid station at Goosebumps is packed with food! And they continue to make special foods throughout the night. We had Subway subs, pizza brought in (that was good and would have been better had I not been running for so long already!), chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes (yum!) and in the morning they had an egg bake catered in by a local sponsor. So definitely no lack of food options. Which can be frustrating when you start to lose your appetite!

We had to pull out the headlamps just after 7 when it started getting dark. Fall is definitely here as our daylight hours are diminishing quickly. I was starting to experience waves of pain that would come and go in my foot. At some point I broke down and took some ibuprofen just to take the edge off. I was hydrating and eating well so was not worried about a negative impact. The funny thing is that it was not hurting any worse or different just still there.

Night Running
By about 12:15 am or so I had completed my 20th lap for 37 miles! I was ready to take a short break. Kristine and I decided we would lay down for no longer than an hour to rest and hopefully sleep. I needed this break as things were getting rough. I was not too tired as I kept the caffeine going through coffee and coke at the aid station but I really needed to just chill for a bit. I was starting to feel off kilter and not wanting to eat anymore. Nothing on the aid station table looked appealing and if I never ate again this would have been fine with me. I know that is not possible though. Taking the rest break ended up working brilliantly. I did not sleep for the full hour but managed to lay flat in the minivan, massage my feet for a bit and I eventually fell asleep as I think I even had a dream! I woke up on time (Kristine had promised to set her alarm so we would not sleep too long!) and was ready to head back out. I think needing to go to the bathroom was what woke me up! I just about ran to the porta potties! Not wasted steps though as they were on the loop and I needed to run that way anyway.

Loops 21 - 34

We were back out and making progress at 1:45 am or so. It was still warm and humid and I was running in shorts and a tank. Unusually warm for a late September evening. I felt like a new woman after that break. My feet felt awesome and I had renewed energy. I was back in a happy place and started running some loops with an average of 15:30 again. I recall telling Kristine that I felt like a million bucks! Well at least that is what I think I said. I knew this feeling would not last for the entire 14 laps but I was going to ride that wave for as long as I could. I had pulled out my mp3 player sometime before Kristine joined me at 6 and listened to a Defeat the Stigma podcast with Karl Metzler but quickly changed to music to distract myself. I turned on the music yet again and put in one earbud to get through these loops. Talking had slowed down and Kristine and I were just concentrated on finishing each loop bringing me closer to my 100k goal. One part of the course had some runners running towards each other and it was fun seeing those runners ahead of and behind you running their own race. Nice thing about loop timed events like this is that you have no idea of anyone's mileage and, for me, I don't get those feelings of being "behind" like at Chippewa 50k on the out and back section and knowing all the runners coming back are well ahead of me in the race.

My memory starts to get fuzzy at places but my feet started to hurt yet again and I broke down and took one more dose of Ibuprofen. This was the last that I ended up taking. Kristine ran with me for about 10 more loops and when it started to get light she went and did her own thing. I had four loops left to complete my 100k and Erich joined me for these loops. He slowed his walk and run down to match my pace. I completed my 34th lap just before 9 am when the 6 hour runners were starting their race. I watched the runners start their race and then started my next loop with the intention of stopping at the car to rest for a bit again. I was on my own at this point so I knew that if I was going to run anymore miles it would be up to me to get moving again. I got back to the van, crawled into my makeshift bed and went to sleep.
100k Completed!
I woke up about an hour later and decided that I had about 4 1/2 hours left to see how many more loops I could get done. I was ready to set a new goal and thought it would be good to see if I could get in 40 laps total. That was an additional 6 loops. At this point my friends were done running so I knew I would need to motivate myself to get it done. 

Laps 35 - 39
I felt good on the first several laps and was able to do some actual running verses just walking. As I continued on though I was really starting to hurt all over. Not just my feet but my hips, quads and calves were taking a beating. By the 39th loop it was starting to be too much. I made the decision that this would be my last loop. I groaned my way through this loop and when I got to the aid station I knew I was done. There was still time left on the clock and there may have been the possibility of another loop but it would have been so painful I decided enough was enough. With 72.15 miles done I had exceeded my main goal and I was happy with that. With 72 miles completed this year next year I will only have to run 28 miles for that 100 mile Sweatshirt. Guess where I will be late September in 2017?
Mississippi River
Race Director adding up all the miles for awarding the accumulative 100 mile sweatshirts
Kristine and I at the end of the race

09/09/17 Fall Superior Moose Mountain Marathon

Moose Mountain Marathon (and volunteering!) Registering for Moose Mountain Marathon now involves entering into a lottery. They have 250 sp...