Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Team Inov-8 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Team Inov-8. I'm absolutely humbled to be among such a talented group of athletes. They have all had some incredible accomplishments in 2010. I look forward to the 2011 season. I find inspiration in the excellent performances by every one of my team mates. I'm excited for myself, to train hard, enjoy the trails and give the best performances that I can do.

Introducing Team Inov-8 2011-

Viktor Alexy – Trail/Mtn/Ultra - X-Trail Mont Sutton 21k & X-Trail Mont Orford 23k Champion

Sean AndrishUltrarunning – Bel Monte 50k Champion, Southern Massanutten 54 Mile Champion

Jonathan BashamUltrarunning & Speed Hike - Finisher Barkley Marathons (9th finisher ever)

Katie Caba – Trail/Mtn/Road – USATF Trail Marathon Female National Champion

Eric CharetteUltrarunning- Keyes Peak Trail Marathon Champion

Yassine DibounUltrarunning – Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k & Silver State 50k Champion

Scott Dunlap - Ultrarunning - USATF Ultra Men Master Runner of the Year

Gary GellinUltrarunning – 4th OA / 1st Master - Way to Cool 50k

Joe Gray - Mtn/Trail – USA Mtn Running Team Member (3 yrs), USATF Mtn Runner of the Year

Michele HartwigUltrarunning – 2nd OA Female Fans 12 Hr and Illinois Ultra Grandslam

Camille HerronMtn/Road – Palos Bank Half Marathon Champion, 3rd Female Papa Johns 10 Mile

Dave JamesUltrarunning – WV RRCA State Marathon Champion, 2nd OA USATF 50 Mile National Championships

Jim Johnson – Trail/Road – GSSS Series & WMAC Series Snowshoe Champion, Soapstone 24k Champion

Amy LaneUltrarunningPittsfield Peak 54 & Stonecat 50 Mile Female Champion

Gina Lucrezi - Mtn / Trail – USATF Trail 10k National Champion, USATF Trail Series Female Winner

Mark Lundblad – Trail/Ultra– Uhwarrie & Pine Mtn 40 Mile Champion

Anne Lundblad – Trail/Ultra – Umstead Trail Marathon Champion, 2nd OA USATF 24 Hr. National Championships

Abby MahoneyMtn/Trail – 2010 WMAC Grand Tree Series - Women’s Champion

Peter MaksimowMtn/Trail/Road – Pikes Peak Winter Series Champion, Mt Baldy Run Champion

Tommy ManningMtn/Trail/Road- Coal Creek XC, Pony Express Trail, Berry Picker Trail Champion

Andy MartinUltrarunning – Gore-Tex Transrockies Elite Men’s Team Champion, Chuckanut 50k Champion

Dane Mitchell – Trail/Ultra– Mt.Cheaha 50k, Oak Mtn 50k, Rock/Creek Scenic City Marathon Champion (all CR's)

Joe Moore – Trail/Road – Roanoke Canal Trail Half & Inside Out Sports Half Marathon Champion

Sabrina Moran – Trail/Ultra/Road- 2nd Female Umstead 100 mile, Back On My Feet 24 HR Champion (CR)

Amber Moran – Trail/Road – Chichester Priory 10k, Dupont 12k Trail, The Bear 5 Mile Champion

Ben Nephew - Mtn/Trail/UltrarunningStonecat 50 Mile and Escarpment 30k Champion

Alex NicholsMtn/Trail – 2010 American Discovery Trail Marathon Champion (CR)

Chris ReedUltrarunning – 2nd OA MMTR 100 Mile, Grindstone 100 Mile & Hellgate 100k

Sam Robinson – Trail/Road – Xterra Redwood Park Trail Race & PCTR Big Basin Trail Run Champion

DeWayne SatterfieldUltrarunning – Dizzy Trail Ultra 40 miles and Black Warrior 50k Champion

Jared ScottMtn/Trail/Road – Soulstice Trail Race and Flagstaff Half Marathon Champion

Jamesina SimpsonMtn/Trail/Ultra – Shiprock & Grizzly Half Marathon Champion

Dwight ShulerXterra/UltrarunningTsali Challenge & Elk River Challenge Champion

Sophie SpeidelUltrarunning –1st Female Master MMTR 50 Mile, Three Bridges Marathon Champion

John StorkampUltrarunning - Zumbro 100 Mile & Fans 12 Hour (85.5 miles) Champion

Kevin Tilton - Mtn/Trail/Road – Cranmore Hill Climb, Merrimack Trail Race, & Mtn Epic Champion

Ryan Woods – Trail/Mtn/Road – Squaw Valley Mtn Run, Jemez Mtn Half, Mt Penn Mudfest Champion

Team Yoga Slackers – Adventure Racing – Gold Rush 24 hr, Desert Winds 24hr and Sprint Champions

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lean Horse 100- Moutain Lions, Black Hills and Buffalo...oh my!!!!

Road Trip to South Dakota- The trip started with a fun road trip through Wisconsin then entered South Dakota and Wild Western Landscape, including, the Badlands, Black Hills, watering holes and field of sunflowers. I enjoyed this all with my good friend Holly and her boyfriend, Bill. I looked out the window as we drove along and fantasized about riding horseback across the countryside. Tomorrow I would have my chance with Lean Horse and run 100 miles through this beautiful area.

We arrived in Hot Springs, S.D. just before packet pick up. We met up with our friend Dorn that arrived a week early for some back country hiking and backpacking. We all headed into packet pick up together, dropped off our drop bags and did some shopping in the nice expo. We chatted with our friends from Southern IL, Don Frichtl, Bill Dey, Lucia Alzaga & Tim. Don was doing the 100 but said he was most likely going to have to stop early because his ankle was bothering him. He needs to stay healthy for work, he is a farmer and very busy. Bill, Lucia and Tim were all running the 50 mile race. They informed us we were to yell "Buffalo" whenever we saw each other. I was digging that, I felt like a little kid that just found a new word to yell out, Buffalo!!!

Holly and Me-click on picture to see a video story of race

I enjoyed a pre-race dinner and company, then headed to my hotel room and laid out my race gear. The week leading in to the race I had some nerves and self doubt. But today I was calm, confident, healthy and 100 % committed to finishing this race to my best abilities. I knew it would not be easy, but I had a race plan, the course was well visualized in my head. I knew I could run at a pace that would keep me "comfortable" for at least 75 miles, then I was going to gut it in for a 100 finish. That belt buckle was beautiful and I wanted it! I was physically and mentally prepared to Get-R-Done!

Race DayI slept well and woke up feeling well rested. Had a cup of coffee and got my clothes on. Tempatures would reach the mid 90s with no shade. I was wearing my white singlet, loose fitting shorts, white Inov-8 cap, a waist pack loaded with- a water bottle for my perpetuem drink, hard candies, e-tab, and advil. The shoes I decided to wear were an old favorite, my Inov-8 terrocs. This was the first pair of trail shoes I ever owned. I chose them because they are comfortable on roads or trails. About 33 miles of the course was on roads, the rest is crushed limestone trails. Since it was going to be warm I decided I would also carry a hand held water bottle from the start of the the race.
Me, Dorn, Holly before race

At the start line I chatted with friends. I was going through in my mind what I needed to do to stay strong through out the race. I needed to burn this in to my head because its easy to forget things once you start running. I love the physical challenge of races, but enjoying the scenery is why I love trails. I was excited about the beauty of this course. The race began and I took off. The course starts by winding through town. My goal was to stay comfortable running, nothing fast, I wanted to feel "fresh" at the 50 mile turn around, ready to run another 50 miles.

Once out of town the course went on to a rolling country road. The hills weren't difficult, just fairly constant. I walked up, then ran down them. Just doing what the course was telling me to do. I could have ran the hills but I figured that was a walking break I could not get back. I would save that energy for later in the day.

The first aid station my instinct was to fill up my water bottle quickly and keep moving. But I have found if I wait till I'm hungry to eat, I'm more likely to have a sour stomach. I looked over the food. I grabbed a homemade chocolate chip cookie and was on my way. The road had a trail feeling to me. It went through the Black Hills National Forest and I enoyed the beauty of rolling hills for miles around me.

The road section passed quickly. Then the course switched to the Mickelson trail and my first drop bag. Argyle Road mile 16.6. I ate some fruit, grabbed a small box of raisins, filled up my water bottles and mixed one of them with my caffe Latte perpetuem. I was glad I decided to carry 2 bottles, I was drinking both between stations. I was on my way again...

The course is an old railroad route that was abandoned in 1983. It had been primarily used as a gold mining route and now passes through old mining towns. The hills are slight but constant and long. I enjoyed the stunning views as the course wound through the Black Hills with rocky canyons, praire scapes, and evergreen forest. The trail crossed over many streams and deep valleys that were connected by solid old railroad trestles converted into bridges.

The day went by quickly as I enjoyed the stunning views. I had found a few friends to run and talk with, and was having a great time. My body felt good, my only small complaint was my right knee was starting to swell. It got very hot during the day and I chose to quickly walk some flat areas. My main goal was to finish the race and I wanted to stay comfortable for as long as I could. I felt I could pick the pace up at night when the cooler weather would make the effort less.

I arrived at the 50 mile turn around at 11:58. I decided not to change my shoes. I put my Go-Motion light on my waist pack and dropped off my camera. I also threw some extra batteries in my waist pouch. I was feeling "fresh" and ready to run another 50. The course was more downhill on the way back and I felt I could take advantage of that. I love running down hills. Finishing in the 26 hour range was sounding reasonable.

By the time I get to my next drop bag ( mile 64.5 Harbach) my knee is really giving me problems. It is extremely swollen but I am forcing my self to run. I came to this race to give it my all and that is what I'm doing. Even though I was still running it was costing me time. It was especially slowing me down on the uphill walks. I feel I was still keeping a strong uphill walking pace, but with little movement in my knee, it was slowing me down.

I did a run-walk from here on out. I would run as long as I could, then walk a short amount of time, then start running again. I felt I was doing well, being strong and running when it was difficult for me. I went through another aid station and drop bag, Pringle, mile 76. A lot of runners were looking exhausted, sitting in the medical tent. I was hurting but I thought for running 76 miles, I felt pretty darn good.

I headed off from Pringle with my next drop bag stop being Argyle (mile 83.4). I was tired but determined to finish at my best. I had found a friend running my pace and we were keeping each other company. As we were getting fairly close to the Argyle drop bag we heard a growling, purring noise to the left of us. It did not seam real. We commented on the unusual sound and turned our lights in the direction it was coming from. The trail in the area was about 5 feet elevated from some tall grass on both sides. As my light passed over the tall grass I saw the back of a mountain lion walking with its long tail. It was not looking at us, just moving in the opposite direction we were traveling. It was within 15 feet. We walked a few more feet down the trail and found a fresh bloody kill. It was a rabbit or a possum. I didn't look at it long. We walked for quite awhile because we didn't want to encourage the Mountain lion to chase us. When we got to the next aid station a couple of guys came in behind us. We asked them if they saw the fresh kill in the middle of the trail, they hadn't. I'm sure just after we passed the mountain lion went back up and grabbed its dinner.

At the Argyle Aid station we hung around for awhile sharing our Mountain Lion story. I looked at the food but nothing looked appetizing. They had a good spread, I was just tired and not wanting to eat. The small break chatting was not good for me. When I left the aid station my legs were not working. My knee was tight and I struggled just to walk up very small hills. It was amazing how quickly I went from good to bad. I shuffled along for a long time. If I kept this pace I would possibly not make the cut off. I had done so well during the first 3/4 of the race. I did not want all that hard work to go to waste. I wanted a PR finish. I mentally got myself back together and started running the downhills. I just tackled one at a time. Walk up the hill, run all the way down no matter how much it it again. I did this all the way back to town. I had gotten myself back on track for a PR finish.

When I turned on the trails leading back to town I kind of lost it again. I knew I could walk it in and still PR. I was griping, "I'm done with 100's... I will stick to 50s and 100ks that way I'm done in the evening and get to hang with friends...I'm leaving running 100s to Julie Aistars...." It was the early morning rantings of an Ultra Diva. It's a good thing I didn't have the video rolling then. I had 4.5 mile to the finish line and I shuffled my way to it. My whole right leg was grossly swollen. I walked like a peg legged Pirate. I was coming back on the same course I went out on, but I did not remember seeing all these hills on the way out. Ugh!

I finally arrived to the finish line, I was sure I was going to walk it in. My Southern Illinois friends were there cheering "Buffalo!" that perked me up enough to go ahead and run it in. I finished for a 35 minute PR in 27:45. Wow, that was a tough and rewarding accomplishment that will be with me a lifetime!

Next morning thoughts- I had decided, I could have done that better. If I would have forced myself to run that last 4.5 miles I could have taken quite a bit of time off. The experience of this race will help me be just a little bit more mentally strong for the next. I'm looking forward to my next 100 mile race, in fact I think 100s may be my favorite!

For a video story from the race click on this link It's less than 3 minutes long with some fun music ;-)

Me with my AG award and My Awesome friend Holly- her 1st time 100 mile finish - tough ultra chick, plus she is a mountain climber...yeah she is one of those "crazys" that clamps on and goes straight up! We both are happy to have our beautiful Belt buckles!

Lean Horse 100- Part 1 Getting to the Starting Line

Since many are asking about my Mountain Lion encounter, here is a link to my Lean Horse finishing story, Mountain Lions, Black Hills and Buffalo...oh my! .... Yes...I did see a close up of a mountain lion around 3am, but that little kitty wasn't getting in the way of me and my belt buckle. I'm curious if anyone else saw any Mountain Lion at Lean Horse, this year or in years past. I would love to hear from you. My Getting to the starting line story is below.

Lean Horse 100- Part 1 Getting to the Starting Line

This is me just after the race, tired, icing my knee- with my AG trophy, belt buckle and pillow.

Getting to the starting line, my first step to the finish line

It took a little insane ultra runner logic to get me to the starting line of Lean Horse 100. A shin injury caused me to DNF at Dawg Gone Long Run 50 on July 10th. After that setback I needed to heal and get healthy for my upcoming races. Marquette 50 mile, August 21st was next on my race schedule. It is steep, hilly and technical course that I love and ran in 2009. A wrong turn cost me some time last year. I had been looking forward to returning to enjoy the course and see what I could do without that mistake.

Recovery- I tried to take a few days off after DGLR-50 then run again, it didn't work. I eventually realized I had to give my body some time to heal. I took 18 full days of rest and took a lot of ice baths. During my rest period I worked on my nutrition and considered my options for my upcoming races. My doctor said I should come back slowly, then stay off steep hills and technical trails for awhile. I wanted to listen because running healthy was most important to me. When I started running again my body felt great, the time off had worked. I knew Marquette was no longer a good choice for me. It was only 4 days away, plus the down hills on that course would put a beating on my shins. I had to consider other options.

Option # 1- Take the month of August off of racing, come back slowly, get a solid 11 weeks of training in with only 2-50k races on the schedule. This would give me plenty of time to get some solid tempo runs in without having to taper for a race. I would most likely do better at the 2- 50ks with this choice, plus I could work towards a PR finish at Javelina 100.

Option # 2- Lean Horse 100, August 28th- This choice gave me 11 days of running before the race. Most likely my legs would be dead at my 2- 50ks (which are the last two races in an Illinois Ultra Series I am in). Plus, It was 8 weeks before my next 100 miler, Javelina 100. Would that be enough time to recover for another 100? On the other hand Lean Horse is a non technical race with never more than 4 % grade on the hills. The Doc did say to stay off of technical trails with steep hills. Lean Horse 100 is on the beautiful Mickelson trail, winding through Black Hills National Forest with Granite Mountains and canyons. Buffalo, Mountain lion (as I would see), streams, and plenty of Wild West heritage...Plus I could hitch a ride with my friend Holly that was already signed up. The thought of this course just excited me!

...I decided to pour myself a glass of wine and make a decision...the more I drank the more convinced I was, Option # 2 was impossible for me to resist! I just couldn't wait to get to that starting line! Now I had to plan my running schedule before the race.

I felt confident the time off would not hurt me. My body was now healthier from the break. I considered it a very long taper to the 100 miler. I did get 2 long runs in during that 11 days. The first was a 15 mile run. Then my son Royal biked along side of me for a 17 mile run. We did that run on a wide open trail, 90 + weather during the heat of the day. I thought that would be most helpful to me for Lean Horse.

Here's my son Royal and I during my hot final long training run, we did 17 miles. This was the Saturday prior to race.

I carefully packed my drop bags, I felt I packed light to make it less confusing at drop bag stops. If I had to many choices it would take me longer. I had no crew at the race and was relying on aid station food to keep me fueled, but threw in a few things I like to eat just in case. Plus for an energy drink I wanted to use Caffe Latte Perpetuem. It is not sweet, taste pretty good, and I find it easy to digest to get energy from.

Drop Bag # 1 ARGYLE mile 16.6 & 83.4
1 energy bar
1 Pay Day candy bar
2 ensure drinks, strawberry & vanilla
2 ziploc baggies- both with one serving each of Caffe Latte Perpetuem
2 little baggies of e-tabs and advil
1 flash lite

Drop Bag # 2 PRINGLE mile 24 & 76
1 energy bar
1 Pay Day candy bar
2 ensure drinks, strawberry & vanilla
2 ziploc baggies- both with one serving each of Caffe Latte Perpetuem
2 little baggies of e-tabs and advil
1 flash lite

Drop Bag # 3 HARBACH mile 35.5 & 64.5
1 energy bar
1 Pay Day candy bar
2 ensure drinks, strawberry & vanilla
2 ziploc baggies- both with one serving each of Caffe Latte Perpetuem
2 little baggies of e-tabs and advil
1 flash lite

Drop Bag # 4 BUCKAROO mile 50.8- this is the only drop bag I stop at only once
1 Pay Day candy bar
1 ziploc baggie with one serving of Caffe Latte Perpetuem
little baggie of e-tabs & advil
Go-Motion light kit that fits on to my Nathan waist pack
extra batteries
Flyroc 310 shoes, 1/2 size bigger than I started race in. (In case my feet were swollen and I wanted to change shoes.)
Injinji socks

I was starting the race in Terroc 330s, I feel the Terrocs are the best shoes for the course. I used the Flyrocs because I already had a pair that was 1/2 size bigger I picked up for Javelina 100.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lean Horse 100- Hot Springs South Dakota

Lean Horse 100 mile, Hot Springs South Dakota. It was a very exciting race and I'm writing a story to share. So many exciting things happened, including seeing a Mountain Lion around mile 75. For now here is a video story about the race, enjoy!

Me, Holly & an unknown person- the night before the race enjoying the Wild West Heritage

Monday, August 23, 2010

Howl at the Moon- 8 hour Ultra, Danville IL

Congrats to everyone at Howl! As usual it was a hot and humid race. It's southern IL in August, what else can we expect? I had a lot of fun at the Margaritaville Aid station. It was interesting watching it this year. Christine Crawford was focused all day long, running a great steady pace. I found out after the race she was hurting, but you certainly could not tell from watching her. She is amazing and it was great to watch her win! Ellen and Kathleen (2nd and 3rd female) made it look easy all day. Both were joking with the volunteers at every stop. Ellen even took a little break to catch up with friends and pass out hugs. Those two are a couple of strong runners and it was a joy to see them.

Great job everyone!!!!

Top 3 Men and Women Results Howl at the Moon


Christine Crawford 49.85 miles

Ellen Erhardt 46.86 miles

Kathleen Yarger 44.27 miles

Ellen and Christine on the final lap- Awesome trail ladies!

Brandon Janosky 53.14

Tommy Doias 51.85

Mike Crowder 51.35

Margaritaville aid station- that's me and Kathleen's dad, Norm Yarger.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

M.U.D.D. McHenry (County) Ultrarunning Dudes and Dudettes

My friends and I have a passion for running trails and ultra trail races. We want to share this with others and have organized a club. M.U.D.D. McHenry (County) Ultra Running Dudes and Dudettes! Traveling to different trail races is a great way to enjoy nature, be healthy, and make friends. Our home base is Crystal Lake and we have a beautiful park, Veterans Acres, with plenty of single track through the woods. Hills, meadows, pine forest and Mudd! Perfect location to train for an Ultra! We run 4-5 mile trail loops so you don't have to run ultra distances to join us. We want runners of all levels out enjoying the trails. My daughter, Tasha 11, is the youngest member at the moment. She even designed our logo! We are an easy going group that loves to laugh, stay healthy, and have a good time.

Preserving our parks is very important to us. Many of us already work on the trails but we want to expand our efforts. Veterans Acres is in need of help and as I hear of a need I will be posting times and places on our facebook page.

Our founding members are experienced and have run 50k's, 50 miles, 100 miles and more. We are always in training for something. One of our favorite conversations is running and we would be happy to share what we have learned. Join us and we can help you find a race to train for. M.U.D.D. has a long term goal (next year) to organize an Ultra in the area and have some ideas in the works. We hope to see some new friends out on the trails with us. If you have any questions you can e-mail me, Michele or Holly at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FANS 12 HOUR- Minneapolis, MN

Fans 12 hour race

Wow! It was finally here! FANS 12 hour race weekend. It's the big goal race I have been building up for. My race choices this year worked on strength and endurance. I learned some tough lessons at a few. They weren't fun, but I am thankful for the knowledge they gave me. My goal at FANS was to finish a 100k in fewer than 12 hours. I had a solid race plan and was anxious to see it work for me. I was excited to be wearing my super cute inov-8 F-lite 301 urban racers! My rockin' husband was crewing. Race plans were in order! Now it was time to see how many miles I could crank out in 12 hours.

The FANS course is a 1.656 mile out and back, and then a 2.4217 mile loop around Lake Nokomis. It's a beautiful urban park setting. FANS has a 12 and 24-hour race, both with a 8am start. For the last hour of each race you had the option to run 1/4 mile out and backs. This option is open so all your miles will count. If you didn't finish a loop before the cut-off, that loops miles do not count. The race course primarily follows the path around Lake Nokomis with a couple small detours or "short cuts". The course is fairly flat with a long bridge as one incline. Then one true hill named Mt. Nokomis that was 15 feet at the beginning of the race...

I went to packet pick-up Friday night and got weighed in. The rules were very clear that they would be weighing you every 4 hours. If you lost 5% of your body weight you would be pulled from the race until they felt you could go back out. I was a little worried about this. I had never weighed myself during a race and did not know if I would lose weight. I would just make sure I ate and drank plenty.

Getting a quality night sleep was part of the race plan. This was going to be easier than most ultras because of the 8am start. I had a nice comfortable bed at Microtel in Eagan . I woke up about an hour before my alarm. Oooo...Nightmares! I kept dreaming that they pulled me off the course at mile 57 because I had lost too much weight. Eeeek! I promise you, I don't normally have nightmares I lost too much weight.

When we got to Lake Nokomis he already had our canopy set up and was sitting back relaxing. It was exciting seeing all the colorful tents lining the course and everyone preparing. Runners/walkers, volunteers and their families were everywhere! The Minnesota folks were Fantastic! I didn't know anyone but I was welcomed by smiling faces. I felt very comfortable. Royal (my hubby) was a prepared crew chief. I was confident he would keep me hydrated and fueled.

The Race started at 8 am on schedule. Immediatly I tried to keep to my race plan, run 10:30's until the 4-hour mark. This is hard when your excited-fresh and everyone is passing you. I kept an eye on my pace. It was usually around a 9:45 to 10:00 running, but my overall pace was still about 10:30. It took me a few laps to realize I was spending too much time at our tent. It was great seeing my husband every 2.4 miles, but if I was going to reach my goal I better get through the station a little faster.

Zach Gingerich leads the pack at start
When I hit the 4-hour mark I was feeling really great and didn't really want to slow down. I still had 8 hours of running and made the smart decision to stick to the race plan which was slow down to 11 minute running miles. At the aid station I hopped on the scale, "up 3 pounds! Keep running" Huh!?! Ran for 4 hours and gained weight!?!

It was lightly raining most of the day. This helped in staying cool. It was 70 degrees, and since the course had little shade I think we would have been feeling warm. I wasn't talking much. I was using all my energy concentrating on running. I was quietly enjoying the run and park. My body felt strong. I was feeling happy and positive that it was going to be a successful race. I enjoyed seeing that even on a rainy day the park was full of people walking dogs, fishing, biking, swimming, and running.

I was coming up to the 8-hour mark. The race plan was to be at mile 43. I was just a tiny bit behind schedule so I picked it up a little and hit the 8 hour mark at mile 43. Cool, that was fun. It's so nice when things work out as planned. This gave me a little mental boost, my next 3 laps were quicker. I hit the mile 50 mark at 9 hours 21 minutes. WOW, I had never run 50 that fast. I was feeling great! At this time I knew I could stay into it until the end.
When I got to the start/finish area my husband said I had passed the 2nd place female on that lap. I was now in second and feeling awesome! I really wanted the special t-shirt for finishing a 100k in under 12 hours. I was excited about that but I did not want to celebrate. I've learned things can turn quickly. I still had 2 1/2 more hours to run. I needed to stay focused.
As the day went on I settled in to a solid pace. I was using all my will to stay in to it. I was tired, but happy because my body felt strong. When I got to the final lap to finish a 100k in less than 12 hours I had plenty of time left. I could walk part of the lap and still do it. This day, walking was not part of my race plan. I was determined to run in strong! My running pace wasn't speedy this lap but I kept moving along. I made a little bargain with myself to motivate me to keep running, "when I get to the 100k line I'm walking the out and backs, that will be my walking break for the day". That last lap was tough. I was tired and looking forward to sitting down. I rose over Mt. Nokomis and it was downhill to finish the 100k. I was finally there! All the wonderful lap counters and people were cheering. They rang cowbells every time someone reached the 100k point. It felt great to hear them ringing for me! I checked in with my lap counter. It was time for out and backs.
I walked about 25 yards of the out and backs when I saw a strong female running out of her shoes. I just knew that was the 3rd place female, Kathy Uknis. I had to break my walking break promise and took off like I was running a 5k. I didn't know what her mileage was and I didn't want to get passed here. I managed to crank out one more mile when I was running on empty. For a total of 63.07! 2nd overall Female-6th overall finisher. A huge personal record! Fastest 8 hours...PR 50 mile...PR 100k and fastest 12 hour! Geez!!! Was I tired! Time to sit down!

Here I am the next morning just after the awards ceremony with my 2nd place plaque!

Carolyn Smith 82.69 course record
Michele Hartwig 63.07
Kathy Uknis 61.40
John Sorkamp 85.49
John Mass 83.69
Dave Eitrheim 66.62
Congratulations to everyone! 3 courses records broken!Thank you to the FANS group for putting on a wonderful race and raising money to enrich young adults lives. Your hospitality was exceptional and I look forward to coming back. I have to give a huge congratulations to Tom Andrews who did the 24 hour race with a broken foot (hockey injury). He was on crutches and did over a 50k! Local legend Fast Eddie at the age of 70 cranked out 87.79 miles for the 24-hour race. It was his third ultra in the last 8 weeks! 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ice Age 50 pictures

" "Feeling like a Rock Star!"

Victory! Finish line in 10:58:25!

Me and Holly...strong and steady!

Me and Holly....feeling good!

Ice Age 50- Let's try smart pacing and good nutrition

Anastasia, Holly and Me, Ready to rock the trails!

Ice Age 50 in Wisconsin. I had a crazy plan for this race. Proper pacing and refueling. Last race I went out to fast, didn't eat, in fact throw up, then bonk. I was not going to let myself do that.

After an injury that nagged at me all winter, I had overestimated what I could do. This cost me. Let's learn from this...I thought about this all month and came up with a plan for Ice Age. I knew I was smart, strong and ready to rock the Ice Age trail.

1st step- good refueling. I had been practicing a new nutrition plan during my training runs but this would be my first time using it during a race. I made my own energy drink. Lightly brewed tea (for a little caffeine), then I dissolve honey stingers in it...delicious. I had this, Vanilla Ensure and bread sticks brushed in olive oil at my drop bags. Olive oil is a good source of energy plus the carbs from the bread. I was careful all day to eat and stay hydrated. 2nd step- better pacing. I decided not to use a watch. I just wanted to run on "feel". My main goal was to enjoy the course and still be able to run all the way to the finish line with no stomach problems. I set what I thought was a reasonable goal for this, to finish in under 11 hours. A bonus of finishing in under 11 hours was it would qualify me for Western States 2011.

Woke up race morning to freezing rain and wind...brrrr...but I was so excited it didn't hardly bother me. I decided to wear a lightweight longsleeve shirt, my favorite hat, shorts and my Flyroc 310's. I had a good race plan, plenty of support. I was starting the race with my friends Holly Bochantin and Dorn Peddy. I would be leading and we would all stick together as long as we could. My hubby and daughter were coming to watch and crew. This would be a big treat for me! Plus my very colorful local "posse" of trail friends running the 50 mile race. It would be great seeing them on the trails! (I have a blog page decdicated to them...they are a riot!...)

The race starts with a 9 mile loop that comes back to the start finish line, then you head out to confusion corner. First you go left towards Rice Lake, come back to CC. Then you head out to Emma Carlin and come back to the finish line. The course is rolling hills. nothing to big and the downhills are all very runnable. Even though the hills aren't to hard, there are so many, if you don't pace well it can wear you out. I find it an easy course to visualize. Which mentally is very helpful.

I had run most of the course, except near Rice Lake. I had heard it had some tough hills and killer stairs. Since I had just ran the ultra steep hills at McNaughton 50 , Ice Age was feeling like a piece of cake for me. The killer stairs were nothing. (At least for me Saturday) I stuck to my plan of running on "feel" by making sure I was always comfortable. I was still leading my little group enjoying the scenery and conversation.

We were experiencing every kind of weather. Very short spurts of sunshine, with lots of wind, cold, rain and stinging hail. We got hailed on 5 times during the day. I was glad to have my hat on. It kept the rain and hail off my face.

My race plan was to make sure I felt comfortable at mile 20. Then at mile 20 I thought, feel good at steady and comfortable to 40 and so on. Our little group was moving right along. We all stayed together until mile 38. Holly was running strong but she needed a serious refueling break and told us to move on.

On the way to Emma Carlin we picked up another friend Ed Werner. We had some lively conversation and made the turn around feeling strong. I only had 9 1/2 miles to go. I was truly enjoying the beauty of these trails. That was a huge success for the race. As we made our way back I kept saying, "I can't believe we only have 8,7,6...4 miles left"

I was feeling strong and decided to skip the last 2 aid stations. We only had 4 miles left and I had my energy drink full. I felt a little like a nascar driver running through, thinking to myself, "hope I don't regret not making a pit stop and run out of fuel". It did start to get tough with just over a mile to go. I don't think it was lack of fuel. I could just smell the finish line!

I crossed in 10:58:25! It was the first time I've ever thrown my hands up in the air after I crossed the finish line! I was happy I stuck to my plan and ran a steady race. I really enjoyed the course and seeing friends on the trails. I've been trained all year, but smart pacing and refueling can make a good race a great race! My feet stayed healthy all day! No blisters or banged up toenails. Thanks to my shoes holding my feet in place! All my friends had a successful race. Congrats!

My Team Inov-8 USA teammates did Awesome! In the 50 mile race Todd Braje finishish 1st overall, Mark Lundblad was 3rd overall. In the 50k race Dwight Schuler finished 5th overall. Check out Dwight and Todd's great story on there blogs!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ice Age training Run

Ice Age 50 organized a training run for the race on May 8th. The parking lot was full of cars with cool bumper stickers and creative personalized plates. " I run sum" "slo runner"... It was great to see all the familiar faces of our ultra running community.

I brought up 2 new ultra runners I met last week. Juan and Antastastia. I heard they were training for Ice Age 50 so I introduced myself. They had never run on trails yet. I offered to take them up with me for the training run. Friends, Robin and Holly, joined us.

Juan and Antastastia were both excited and nervous. With months of hard training they were anxious to tackle the trails. I set a steady pace and we ran 20 miles of the course. They both ran strong and really worked the hills. Juan had a fall that included blood streaming down his leg. He was laughing hard. We stopped to take a souvenir picture. Leaving DNA behind made it official; he is now a trail runner. They both finished tired, inspired and addicted to the trails. Juan said, "I can honestly say that was the best run of my entire life!" He was glowing. We stopped at the local organic sandwich shop after the run. Juan finished his sandwich and said, "I don't know if it was the run or what, but that was the best sandwich I ever ate!"

Their happiness was contagious. It felt good to watch two people fall in love with the trails that I love! I feel lucky to have gotten to share this day with them.

In the parking lot full of personalized plates I proudly parked my Jeep in a prominent spot for everyone to read my new plates. Which I have to admit...I thought were the coolest plates in the parking lot.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

McNaughton 50 miles "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up!"

McNaughton 50 mile race, Pekin IL. Race started at first light on April 10th, 6am. It is a 10 mile loop you run 5 times for 50, or 10 if your doing the 100. I had not run McNaughton before. My running mentor Dorn gives me a lot running advice. He had run McNaughton about 7 years ago and told me it was very similar to the Clinton Lake 30 race we had both ran 2 weeks ago. I found Clinton Lake very runnable. The uphills were gradual to slightly steep and the downhills were a little technical but very runnable. I finished Clinton feeling good and thinking if needed, I could go run 2 more laps strongly.
With this information I planned my pace for my first lap. I ran exactly what I had planned but it turned out to be to quick for me. McNaughton was a very different course. Each 10 mile loop had 1600 feet of elevation gain. I knew this, but have never really paid attention to elevation charts. It's an ultra, I know I'm going to see big hills. I just deal with them one at a time. McNaughton hills were some of the toughest I've seen. They are either straight up or straight down. My knees were hitting my chin on the climbs. I definitely had to use my hands on some. Usually when you walk a tough uphill, your rewarded with a downhill. McNaughton downhills were steep and technical. At the beginning of the race I ran these because I love technical downhills, but I paid the price later. Next time I'll take the downhills a little slower. They tore up my muscles as much as the uphills. I'm not saying they were impossible. I just paced myself incorrectly and they wore me out. If I had ran that first lap more conservative I would have felt a lot better through out the race.
Along with the challenging hills we crossed "Lick Creek" 3 times per loop. ( A total of 15 times) This was knee deep, clear running water which felt great on our tired legs! Lick Creek was always a welcome sight, each crossing I took the time to splash the cool water on my legs. The 10 mile loop also had plenty of fun, easy running single track and a couple big open meadows. I was lucky to see a heard of deer running effortlessly across the meadow.
Fueling myself has been a reoccurring problem I need to work on. When I do my training runs I don't need food. I can run 20 miles comfortable on water only. Even a 30 mile run I don't need much more than that. I get past 30 miles and I need something else. I tell myself when I show up for a 50 mile race that I will just force myself to eat. But since I don't practice eating while I'm running, I can't seam to do it. In the next few weeks before Ice Age 50 I'm going to work on this. My plan is to use Vanilla Ensure shakes. I have had a few successful races last year drinking these. I have also started to drink sweet tea I make myself on training runs. I think the caffeine and sugar should give me a good boost later in my runs. Now I just have to practice and find out if it upsets my stomach.
This was a day for me that finishing the race was a victory. We crossed the finish line in 13:45 and got our big huge belt buckle! I had fun running the last couple laps with my girlfriend Karen. She was patient with me when I had to take a break on the side of the trail as my stomach violently rid my body of the little bit of stuff I actually did eat. We laughed with other runners and enjoyed hearing about the different races they have done, shared our own stories with one another. I love that about ultras. I may have been tired and dry heaving but I was still having fun with my trail running friends!
When I came home and reflected on the race. I thought to myself, "If I paced myself better It would not have been so hard. In fact, I bet I could pace it well enough to finish 100 there." I'm thinking that is a good goal for next year. If I am able to run healthy through out the winter, I'm going back to tackle the 100! Now I just have to find a few friends that will run a 10 mile loop with me. So for now, I'm going to go run some hills, stay strong, work on refueling, and come back next year and kick McNaughtons butt!
"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

Clinton Lake 30

Clinton Lake was a huge success! The weather was great, cool and sunny. I had planned on wearing my new Mudroc's. The race director (Chris Migotsky) said the course was dry. It was hard for me to believe after what I had saw only a few weeks earlier. But I went ahead and wore my favorite shoes, the Flyroc's 310's. They were perfect! Love, love, love them on the downhills. Held my feet in place, toes did not pound on the front of my shoes. Gripped in the mud! Comfortable. I finished the race with happy blister free toes and feet!

I loved the course! 30 miles of great hill repeats! The downhills were so much fun! I was happy to have my new friends Steve and Gary keeping me company for the first 20 miles. Thank you for the great conversations! I ran a solid 30. I was really pleased with how I did. I'm feeling 100% healthy again. I'm really looking forward to McNaughton 50 mile next weekend!

Sorry to make this post so short. I've got the kids home this week and I'm taking them camping. Would have loved to elaborated on Clinton Lakes Awesome course.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clinton Lake 30

I am excited, Friday is Clinton Lake 30 mile! It's my first time running this race. I'm nervous and want to run a solid 30 miles. I've been training at Veterans Acres. It's my local forest preserve with about 8 miles of rolling, single track trails that I can mix up lots of different ways to keep it interesting. I've been working on running hills. I will never feel I have trained enough for hills and they will never be easy. But I'm showing up for race day full of confidence that I'm going to give the course 100% of my best effort. I will be happy finishing this race and knowing I gave it my all!

I made the 4 hour drive 2 weeks ago and did a practice run on the course. So glad I did! I read that the course was rolling hills around a natural lake. I've been to the Bloomington IL area and it is very flat farmlands. I thought "how hilly could the course be?". I had envisioned a course like Kettle Morraine 100, with not quite as many hills. I was wrong. It has many steep hills, rocky and slippery mud. I struggled running because of my feet slipping. The mud and hills were exhausting to my legs. Now that I've run the course I feel I'm more mentally prepared for the challenge It's a lot better knowing what your in for than thinking it's an easy rolling hills course. They haven't had as much rain so the course may have dried up. If that's the case the run will be easier. But I still feel better mentally prepared for the race. I am going to wear my Inov-8 Mudroc 290's. I think they will be a great help on the slippery muddy down hills. Plus giving me extra grip on the rocks. I will post a race report afterwords to let you know how they held up for me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DWD Green Swamp race 2010 had a variety of challenging trail races going on. They had a 50M/50k ultra marathon, a 26.2/13.1, and a 50 mile relay team race. With all the different races, it was important to keep a close eye on your signage as they all weaved in and out of one another. At packet pickup everyone was buzzing about the wet course conditions. I asked Race director Randy “The Head Goat” what he thought he slyly smiled and said “It’s Bloody Muddy!”

The course would take us through swamps, cypress forest and down the beautiful Florida trail. The Florida trail is one of eight National Scenic Trails in the United States. It is a hiking only trail that travels more than 1500 miles across the state of Florida with 1100 miles of that being continuous. The trail was established in the Ocala National Forest in 1966 with much work done by Jim Kern from Miami.

I ran the 50 mile race which started at 5:30am with a temperature of 40. The days forecasted highs were in the mid 40’s. It was dark and we headed off into a relatively dry 5 mile loop. This consisted of some wide trail, single track and sandy footing. I ran a little quicker knowing I would have to walk some of the flooded areas later on. During this leg we heard an owl “Hooting”. I was running with local runner Paul Carrington. He told me this was a Hoot Owl. The owls hoot kind of sounds like it’s saying “Who cooks for you” We could hear two of them talking back in forth between one another. Hoot Owls are home bodies that generally never travel more than a few miles from their birth place. They prefer living in swamp lands.

The second leg was a little wetter but still easy to run. This leg had some open wet fields and woodsy areas. This is where I first noticed the giant 100 year plus oak trees. They had huge trunks with gnarly outstretched limbs. The canopy for one tree would outstretch 150 feet. The trees were draped in Spanish moss that swayed in the wind giving them a bit of an eerie feeling early in the morning.

I arrived at aid station 10.3 thinking they may have exaggerated the muddiness of the course. Here the volunteers told us that it was 4 miles to the next aid station and we would have a river crossing. We ran about ½ mile down a soft sandy road then hit some harder packed trail. We were on this for a very short time when the whole trail turned to water for the next 3 miles. It was cold, knee deep, mucky dark water. I tried not the think about this looking like a perfect spot to see alligators. The vegetation around us was thick. I wore my Flyroc 284’s and they drained quickly and stayed light with the wet muddy conditions. I felt great and was really enjoying the challenge.

I arrived to a very cheery group at the next aid station. It was a remote area. Volunteers had to travel through some tough areas to set up aid for us. We passed this nice crew twice and enjoyed there laughter at our mud soaked bodies. The next stop would be the Decider point.

Decider point was also a relay team exchange point. The adrenaline filled teams cheering added a lot of exciting energy to this aid station. Last year you left this aid station and went under the bridge through the Withlacoochee River. This year the water was up 70 feet. So we went over the bridge and then we turned into the woods. For the next 11 miles we traveled through pine tree trails, open fields, and wet single track areas with plenty of twist and turns. This went by quickly and we were back to Decider point with 17 miles left in the race.

A good portion of the last 17 miles of the race was on the Florida trail. Here I saw Armadillo, Cypress forest, Pines, Cabbage Palms and plenty of lush Florida vegetation. One of my favorite changes made to the course was in the last 3 miles. DWD took us off the Florida trail through the thick of the forest. We just followed orange ribbons that were tied to trees, cypress stumps, poison ivy, bones and whatever the “Head Goat” found along the way. Your tired mind was well worked watching for direction in this thick area. This was where the most spectacular Cypress Tree forest was. Cypress trees grow in very wet areas, so to adapt, their roots produce these smooth unusual “knees” that protrude above the soil ranging from a few inches to 6 feet. This was a really cool place and I felt lucky to see this natural environment. It was tough to run because the vegetation was so thick and muddy. Since it was close to the end of the race you didn’t mind a little walking break to take in the unusual sites of nature.

The finish line was good to see. A great picnic style dinner was set up. DWD puts on a great adventure style race that ensures you never get bored. Green Swamp is one of my favorites and I look forward to coming back next year to see my many new and old friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 Green Swamp 1st overall Female, with my treasured trophy
Yo Alligator Jumpers...I'm preparing for Green Swamp 50 mile race at Pasco
County Withlacoochee River in Dade city Florida. Randy "The Head Goat" is race director of a series of Dances with Dirt Races. This is the first of four for the year. I did all four of DWD races last year. Randy has established his reputation as a race director that enjoys sending us through plenty of stupid spots. At Gnaw Bone race in Indiana we started the race on a 5 mile uphill through calf deep shoe sucking mud! At Hell Michigan the mud was so deep (it was above my waist, and I'm 5'8') we had to use a rope from one side of the mud river to the other to get across. After a rinse going upstream about a 1/4 mile down the middle of chest deep river we had to crawl up a 15 foot sticky black mud hill. Florida has been getting pounded with rain so as far as Green Swamp goes...The "dirt crew" said they had to tweak the course a little this year...if they didn't we would need a snorkel...and one of those shark cages! I will double knot on my Flyroc 284's and watch for alligators. I don't know what to expect of the Green Swamp course this year...but I'm sure it will be interesting!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Fuel

Logging the miles I run every week I need to fuel my body with healthy food. This is one of my favorite soup recipes. It's rich and creamy and it hit's the spot after a cold winters run. This recipe makes enough to heat up the next day for a quick meal or snack. It's easy to make this vegetarian by replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth and omitting the Prosciuto.

Rich and Creamy Garbanzo bean Soup

1 lb 13 oz can of Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 32 oz box of Chicken Broth
1 sweet potato peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups chopped and peeled carrots
1 onion chopped
olive oil
2 1/2 ounces Prosciuto finely chopped

In a large soup pan cover bottom of pan with a little olive oil. Add prosciuto to olive oil and cook until slightly crispy. Remove prosciuto, add Sweet potato’s, carrots and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes then add Chicken Broth and Garbanzo Beans and the slightly crispy prosciuto. Gently boil for 30 minutes or until veggies are soft. Take this yummy mixture in small batches and blend until smooth in a blender. Then serve. It is rich, creamy and so delicious! Stays good in refrigerator for a week. I love it after a cold winter run, quick and healthy meal.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Javelina Jundred October 31, 2009

Me, Tom Wilson and Betsy Johnson. My 2 Awesome Pacers!
This is just after the race. Notice I have my 100 mile finisher Belt Buckle!!!

I was overcome with emotion to finish my first 100 mile race, Javelina Jundred in Fountain Hills Arizona. October 31st 2009. My pacer, Betsy Johnson had to remind me during the last 9 miles to save the crying for the finish line. I ran this race for my Dad, Michael Lee Cooley. He is a Vietnam Veteran that spent 2 years in Vietnam. If at anytime during the race I felt tired I just reflected on what he went through to come home safely to me and be my wonderful father. I had his strength to and was proud to see him at the finish line. Thank you Dad.

I paced myself very carefully. I wanted to finish the race and feel good. I took my time at aid stations. It was a mental break chatting with all the fantastic aid station volunteers. I enjoyed the 15.5 mile loop that we changed direction after each time around. It meant you always had someone coming at you. It feels good to smile and wave at a fellow runner. Sometimes when you pretend to feel good, you actually start to feel better! Everyone did a great job! I must admit I was especially impressed with David James. The first time I saw him he looked like he was running a 5k. I could have thought to myself he couldn't possibly keep that pace. But I didn't, because he looked so darned comfortable! He was friendly and strong every time I saw him. He went on to finish the race as first overall in 14:20:54. It was great to see.