The Road Behind Me

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wild Duluth 50K

Today I officially start training for the Wild Duluth 50K…with 0 miles. Yep, the first day of the plan is a rest day. It may sound unusual but Monday’s are scheduled this way because the weekends are back to back long runs. So, once this plan kicks into high gear Monday will be a welcomed day of the week.

"Extremely rugged, single track trails overlooking Lake Superior through Duluth, MN. This is a very rugged trail with many rocks and roots to trip runners, steep climbs and descents. Please be aware of what you are preparing to run. A spectacularly beautiful, supremely challenging course."- Run Race

This will be my very first ultra and although I'm a bit nervous I'm also really excited. I covered the 50K (30 mile) distance a few years ago and have completed 4 full marathons but haven't done much trail running. The marathon I ran in Alaska had a lot of trails but nothing like the one I'm going to experience in October. 

There will be a lot of hills and soft ground to train on in the next few months. Yay! I love being away from the pavement and right in the middle of all the foliage. This is one of the trails I'll be spending a lot of time on. 

Something tells me I need to find more rugged terrain. I watched a video from a previous Wild Duluth race and I'm not gonna lie, I whimpered a little bit. I haven't been able to find that exact video again but here's what I can expect. 

Yep, I'm so ready for this! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Love Running; Will Travel

I miss Alaska. Well maybe not Alaska per-say, but I miss mountains, oceans, beaches, trees...nature. Although I had an unforgettable experience on my mini Alaskan vacation it brought back an unwanted sadness and longing for home.

Our driving view

I miss hiking

Cloudy day outside of Anchorage, AK

At Alyeska Resort on the mountain

Crow Creek Mine in Girdwood, AK

Crow Creek Trail

Waiting for the tunnel in Whittier, AK

Melanie and I kayaking in Whittier, AK

 I grew up in the small town of Meredith, New Hampshire; aka the "Live Free or Die" state. Population 6,241. In the summertime it's a vacationers paradise. It's located right along Lake Winnepesaukee, which is the states largest lake. There are plenty of things to do and see on and off the water. Small shops to explore, great restaurants, ice cream shops, boat tours, train rides, trails to hike, mountains to climb, fishing, kayaking, boating, local music and entertainment...there really is something for everyone.

 I guess I never completely appreciated everything that surrounded me during the 17 years I lived there. I just never thought about moving so far away. Far from the mountains, oceans, forests, and beaches. I spent most of my summers at Waukewan Beach down the road from where I grew up. My best friend lived right across the street from the beach, so I'd walk the 1/2 mile trail down to her house and we'd spend most of our day together swimming. I was still a chubby kid despite all the exercise I seemed to get every day. Never in a million years would have thought I'd ever be a runner.

Last summer when my family and I went on our vacation to Meredith I ran that same trail down to my friends house where her mom still lives. I stopped at Waukewan Beach and enjoyed the early morning view before continuing my short run. It was even better to see my kids having so much fun swimming and kayaking in the same lake I spent so many hours in.

Now I live in Northwest Minnesota and have lived here for almost 18 years. Longer than I lived in Meredith, but I still miss it immensely. In my small town of less than 400 residence there are no mountains, beaches, stop lights, hiking trails, and no ice cream shops. I can say this about my small town life. Everyone is your neighbor. The kids can ride bike all over town without much worry. It's flat so running is easier and the clouds are amazing. So are lightning storms. I put my photo skills to the test last weekend during an awesome storm. No mountains ever in the way so you can see for miles.

Lightning and heat lightning with a firefly trailing through the shot
My sister came out to visit for the first time this past May and she ran the Fargo Half Marathon. I thought she would hate it here, but turns out she thought it was beautiful. For her there were no coffee shops, no big retail stores, and not much entertainment besides fulfilling her life long dream of driving a tractor. In Meredith there's a Dunkin' Donuts, more than one gas station, more than two restaurants, shops, rental places, traffic, and beaches. Here she got tractors, 4-wheelers, coffee from the CoffeeMate, a partially torn Achilles, expensive food, cold weather, and some small town hospitality.

Most people say Fargo is the easiest course to BQ on. My town does not have even the smallest hill to run on. I have to drive about 45 minutes to get to some hilly terrain. I've yet to have problems with a hilly course but it would definitely help to train on them. For the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Alaska the course was described as relatively flat and all downhill after mile 13. LIES! Alaska flat and Minnesota flat are completely different.

 There were a lot of hills on the course and a few were pretty rough. The trails were so cool to run on. It rained for about the first 10 miles so there was mud and puddles to maneuver around. I was completely soaked in the first mile but it really didn't bother me at all. I took my time with the run and didn't set any time goal for myself. I just wanted to enjoy Alaska and not push myself. So when I felt good I ran faster and if I felt tired I slowed down. I stopped and took a few photos while admiring the view of the mountains. I seriously had to remind myself I was in a race so I could get my butt moving again. I finished in 4:42. Not real proud of it but not really disappointed either. My flight went out about 4 hours after the run so I really didn't want to leave myself crippled. At the finish my right heel ached and the top of my right foot felt broken. I hobbled around for a few days but it felt better after some rest.

I loved Alaska! I want to travel to other states but I definitely have to go back with hubby. He would love it. The next state I think I'll visit is Montana. My runner friend just moved out there and I'm super jealous. She's been sending me beautiful pictures of the mountains and I think I hear them calling my name. The Missoula Marathon was actually today so maybe I'll plan that one for next year. More destinations are coming my way. Where will I go next? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Thank You Letter

Oh hello there stranger! How have you been? Me? Well I've been pretty busy and feel guilty
for neglecting you. But I’m here now and I’d like to make it up to you.

While I was getting ready for work the other day I started thinking about a thank you letter that is long overdue. You may wonder why I’d share such a personal thing with y'all but by now we're all family, right?

Yep just like family.

Dearest Love,
I've been trying to come up with words to express just how thankful I am to you but sometimes words just can’t be spoken. You know every part of me and you've helped me through some of the hardest times in my life. I really do believe that you and God have saved me many times. It’s crazy because I never thought I would love you this much. I wanted nothing to do with you when we were first introduced. Remember that? I forced myself to hang out with you because I heard you were so awesome. The more we hung out the more I learned about you and more importantly about myself. Yes you are awesome, and so am I. 

However, you haven’t always been so nice to me. You've made me cry, bleed, ache, yell, cry some more, doubt myself, and feel downright awful about myself. You've kept my friends away, controlled what I've ate and drank, made me wake up early in the morning or stay up late at night just so we could hang out, taken my money, made me dress in some crazy outfits, and have made people I don’t even know laugh at me. I forgive you for all of that. I will continue to forgive you until we are no longer able to be together.

Yes, we've had our differences and there are times that I've hated you. I know that seems a bit harsh, but through the hate is an uncontrollable love. A love so deep that most people can’t even begin to understand it. Others are quick to judge and they even say they hate you, but they don’t know you like I do. You've taught me about strength, perseverance, triumph, and self-discipline. You've brought me closer to God, pushed me farther than I ever thought possible, introduced me to other awesome people, brought me to different places, and widened my eyes to the beauty of nature. I've had some amazing opportunities, experiences, stories, and memories. It’s all because of you! I’m glad I stuck with you and didn't give up. Because without you I
wouldn't be the person I am today and that is the most amazing gift I have ever been given. Even crazier is that I gave it to myself.

So thank you for everything Running! The good, the bad, the ugly, the beauty, the joy, the pain, and everything in between- thank you. I dread hanging out with you sometimes but after I get done with you I always feel so much better (at least mentally). I love you Running! *sniff*

Your Friend Forever,

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Laugh It Up...I Did

One of the reasons I started this blog was to be able to share my experiences with others. The highs and the lows and even my most embarrassing moments. Let me start by saying I can't help it or control it so don't go sticking your nose in the air saying, "Oh she's so disgusting." I've written about my stomach issues before and if you're a regular reader you know that I suffer with IBS. Yep, you know where this is going.

I was asked to join three other runners for an 8 mile run earlier today. I planned on going with them but felt really tired after work and decided to take a power nap. I got up 5 minutes before we were suppose to meet and thought maybe I could still catch up with them. Thank goodness I never did. 

I had 5 miles on my training plan for today so I headed out with just my iPod; no toilet paper and no phone. Everything was going just fine until around 4.5 miles. My stomach was feeling just fine and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, from the evil depths of h-e double hockey sticks came a noise. I heard it laughing at me as I turned 360 degrees looking desperately for a place to go. No trees, no buildings, no coverage whatsoever, and the ditch was full of snow and water. I had no phone to call anyone, no toilet paper to use, and no idea what I was going to do. I had to think fast. This was the busiest time of day on that road with everyone headed home after work. I stopped to walk and tried to start running again but I just couldn't hold it any longer. I frantically looked around but I had no other option but to just go on the shoulder of the road. I prayed that someone I knew would drive by and give me a ride or let me use their phone. Even just to cover for me before I went in my pants. I saw a break in traffic and kept telling myself to go before I missed the opportunity and had to bare my behind to poor passerby's. I couldn't do it, but I couldn't hold it much longer either. I started pulling grass out of the ground to have something to wipe with. I pulled and walked, pulled and walked, pulled and walked just waiting for cars to pass hoping a miracle would happen. I saw a few people I knew but they went by too fast for me to wave them down. "Oh just kill me now." I finally saw a break and had to take the chance. I know the next lady that came along saw what I was doing and as I stood up quickly I just pretended to play with my iPod. Unfortunately I caught her eye and she seemed to look at me like I was crazy. Hey, I'd be crazy if I pants my poop.

But it didn't end there. Oh no it got much worse. I thought I'd be fine until I got home but again my stomach was laughing at me and making me so miserable. Stomach transplant? Yes there should be such a thing. This time I had some woods to try and cover myself with. But I really didn't care anymore. I was about to pants my poop and I was desperate. This time there was snow to go through. I thought maybe it had melted enough to pack itself down so I started to run towards the trees. After a few steps I sunk in the snow up to my thighs. I couldn't quite get my left leg out so I started crawling. I was able to get back up and take a few more steps, but then I fell through again. This time I could barely move. Frantically I started crawling, reaching for a tree branch that wasn't even within reach. Instead I grabbed at the snow. My legs were cold and my shoes were filling with cold pellets. Branches were poking me everywhere making it difficult to get to the back side of the tree. I started singing "I don't care anymore. I don't care anymore." Trying to drag myself over the snow towards the tree before my stomach erupted. Finally I fell into the hole around the tree and got tangled in branches. I was breaking them as fast as I could  My shirt got caught in a branch but it didn't matter. I couldn't hold it any longer. I didn't care who saw me at this point. The tree only provided enough cover for my rear but "I don't care anymore. I don't care anymore." A few cars went by but I was crouched down enough and I was wearing all grey (one plus for me). The snowball toilet paper worked rather well and all that was left to do was laugh. There I was squatting behind a tree laughing at myself. That is why I'm so glad I ran by myself. Actually I wish I didn't run at all but then I wouldn't have anything to share with all of you. Have a fabulous night! It has to be going better than mine.

(Yeah kind of like that)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tutus Rock

As I was scrolling through Facebook last week I saw a few pictures of two beautiful young women running in tutus during the L.A. Marathon. It wasn't just their tutu's or superhero outfits that caught my attention, but it was also the caption above the photo "Magazine Makes Fun of Cancer Survivors Tutu". Being an avid runner and tutu creator myself I had to find out more.

Courtesy of Huffington Post
Monika Allen is a marathon runner, brain cancer survivor, owner of Glam Runner, and donor to Girls on the Run: San Diego. When Monika ran the L.A. Marathon she wore a Wonder Woman outfit for motivation as she was undergoing chemotherapy at that time. So when SELF Magazine contacted Allen asking for permission to use her photo in an upcoming issue she was thrilled. She thought it would great publicity for her business Glam Runner in which she makes and sells tutus. Proceeds from her sales have gone to Girls on the Run, a charity aimed at promoting exercise and confidence for young girls. Monika has raised an estimated $5,600 for the nonprofit by making approximately 2,000 tutus over the past three years. However, SELF Magazine did not use her photo in the positive way Allen thought they would. The photo was highlighted in the magazines section called the "BS Meter: Our SELF-y guide to what's legit and what's lame this month." Beside the women's picture was this caption, "New Running Tulle: A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC's Central Park, and it's all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster. Now, if you told us they made people run away from you faster, maybe we would believe it."
Readers and runners alike were outraged and immediately showed their support for Monika and her business. The Facebook site Women's Running Club created a Virtual Run/Walk and called it "Tutu or Not: Runners Rock". They asked all members of the running community to show support for Monika... "and all runners of every background, pace, size, and kind. On April 2nd, we will run because we rock." Monika's Glam Runner business had to turn customers away because they just couldn't fulfill all the tutu orders that were coming in. Everyone wanted a tutu and they only had a few short days to get one. I helped some friends make their own and made a few for others who asked (even men). I also sent one off to a women from Kansas who contacted me through Facebook- technology is amazing. 

So you may be wondering, "How do you participate in a virtual run?" Easy! For this run we printed out a bib that rocked Monika's number (3112) from the L.A. Marathon, wore it during the run April 2nd, and posted our picture on the events Facebook page. Any distance, in any city, anywhere in the world! I got the word out that a few of us planned to run for a "Tutu or Not: Runners Rock" Virtual 5K. 17 runners showed up for our small community run and every single one of them was wearing a tutu in support of Monika.

2 days after 18" of snow 
Since all this controversy started SELF magazine has apologized to Monika and stated they are discontinuing their "BS Meter" page effective immediately. The running community is a very tight knit group that sticks together, whether we know each other or not. We all share something that some non-runners call "crazy". FYI: We take that as a compliment!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Funnies

I was going through some of my texts recently and there were quite a few that made me laugh. So I thought I'd share a few of them along with other interesting comments I receive from time to time.

"I just went to DD to get an iced tea and the man working there was so nice I just started to cry. Yep, looking right at him cried. What is wrong with me?"

"I was at a parent teacher conference this morning and all of a sudden I had a coughing fit. Like 15 minutes of straight choking. Then one of the teachers tampons fell out of her pocket and rolled across the floor. The whole thing was awkward."

"Have you tried Quinoa? It is friggin yummy!"

My text to my sister: "I just dropped my gloves on the black diamond while on the ski lift."
Sister: "Go get em sista! And yell "woooooooohoooooo" the whole way."

"Okay I have issues. I went to the store on my lunch break and went to go in the "automatic" door. Well it wouldn't open so I figured it was broken. So I pushed my way through. It was hard and I think I actually heard my shoe go squeeeeeeak. Anyhow, whew I got in. Turns out it was the exit. Everyone was just staring at me. Hey, one guy followed my lead so I am not the only cool girl."

A 240+ lb male walked into a room and asked me, "Can you give me a piggy back ride?" This was not my husband either.

"Never been so happy to run in rain and high wind as yesterday."

"Totally random awkward thought...have you ever heard a song or songs and had this sudden urge to start drinking and make whoopy with your hubby? And 9 times out of 10 you are not near booze OR your hubby. No need for [name] to ends my thought."

"When I change I will insist you leave the room. Chicken salad sandwich."

"9:30 in the a.m. Why am I going to love you???"

"Yeah me and a big 14 year old smile looking at his abs- yum."

Texts about kids basketball practice- "I can run them up I just can't pick up. U were too busy blogging bimbo." (my friends love me)

"I could be stranded on a deserted island. As long as it has running water...and plumbing...and a Holiday Inn Express." This coming from a male.

My 11 y/o has quite the imagination. She wanted to build a snowman so I said go ahead and build one. She formed the butt cheeks first then the head. She said, "He's pushing." Well I guess it kept her busy and she happy for a while...until her sisters hit it with the sled.

Hope you at least got a little laugh. There are a lot more but they require more explanation then it's worth.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Noggin

I've mentioned my latest skiing adventure a few times on previous blog posts and on my Facebook page. I'm not sure why I fell so many times since I've never had that much of a problem before. I did mention to hubby  beforehand that I probably should have bought a helmet but of course I didn't. So wouldn't you know the very first time I fell I hit the back of my head on the ground. Having martial arts in my background I have always told myself when falling always tuck your head into your chest. Well except when it actually happens. I just go down so fast, or seem to, and there is no time for rational thought. It's basically, "Oh F....u....d....g....e!" and then BAM I'm grabbing the back of my head. Unfortunately this happened a few times. In addition to that each time I fell my skis never released (when they should have) and I twisted my left knee. I haven't had a problem running on it but it still hurts 2 weeks later.

Did I mention I'm a bit scared of heights?

This winter has been awful for cold temps and quite a bit of snow. When said snow gets packed down in -20 degrees it makes for some pretty slippery surfaces. You know where I'm going with this. I had a meeting  this week and when I got out of my van to go inside I noticed it was pretty icy (I slipped). In the future I will make a better mental note of that. So, when the meeting was over I hurried off to make another meeting. According to any slapstick comedy this is a bad combination. My feet came right off the ground and I went down hard. I think I hit in this order: left butt cheek, upper back, head, hands, and then feet (not sure about the right butt cheek). I laid on the ground for about 5 seconds to assess the situation and then realized I could possibly get run over by the car next to me. I seriously didn't want to get up. All these cold nights have been amazing for star gazing. I decided I couldn't lay there forever so I got up and went to my next meeting.

When I finally confessed to my "friends" what happened one snickered and said, "Oh my God you could die!" and another said, "I laugh in stressful situations. Sorry, if I saw you I would have laughed." As I sat rubbing my head I wondered why I hung out with these people.

Yeah that's how my friends roll.

So that brings us to this past Saturday. Yep one more noggin story. It was miserably cold outside. The high was somewhere around -22 and then with wind chill it was maybe -40. I mean seriously my exposed skin hurt when I was out there. I've really never felt anything like that before today. After all the basketball games were done we decided to do our weekly grocery shopping. All I wanted to do was just sit in my recliner in front of the fireplace and do nothing. We had two different vehicles so I beat hubby home and thought about leaving the unloading of groceries for him but I didn't.

Side note: Do you know that reusable bags take way less time to unload compared to plastic? They fit more items which means less trips between the house and vehicle. Plus they're good for the environment. True story.

As I was trying to hurry, so I could get out of the cold, I made my way to the back of the van. The lift gate was open but apparently not all the way. BAM! I smacked my head right on the corner of that stupid thing. I'm not going to lie there were some obscene words mumbled. The trooper that I am still unload everything but then I was done. I dumped everything on the floor and sat in my recliner.

If I were to suffer any kind of brain damage I would like to request time distortion. I won't need an excuse for being late and I'd love to be able to run and not worry about how slow the time seems to pass. There actually is an ultra runner who suffered with epilepsy and after a lobectomy has the ability to run hundreds of miles at a time. It's a very interesting story.

"A former professional tennis player, she took up running to help stave off epileptic seizures, for which in 1997 she had a lobectomy. This surgery disrupted her ability to judge the passing of time, something which has helped her ultra-running." ~Wikipedia

Although Diane's story is very serious and not something that would be a wish for anyone I like to think of my request as a super power. Just to be able to run all day and end up in another state wondering what time it is would be pretty cool. Well I suppose pain, cramps, blisters, and chaffing might slow me down. I better rethink the whole thing.

These ladies got nothing on me