Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good-bye 2009

2009 held some great moments in my personal life, but those moments did not really include running. More like injuries - high ankle sprain, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, two broken toes, and one broken tailbone. Almost an entire year off. Now, 12 lbs heavier and starting to regain some fitness, I'm contemplating 2010.

My goals:

1) Rebuild my running base cautiously. The AT seems to play nice as long as I stretch a lot and walk before running.

2) Incorporate strength training and core work. The exercises I picked up from months of rehabilitation are helping, but I'd welcome any suggestions for workouts any of you are doing at home.

3) Lose the above mentioned 12 lbs!

4) Rejoin the running community soon. I do miss group runs. Just not sure I can keep up quite yet.

5) Pick a couple, few, some? races for motivation. On my contemplation list...

January Lame Ass - I can't run a 50k on one long run of 8 miles, so I'm going to skip the Fat Ass, the Half Ass or maybe even the Skinny Ass and do what I can.

May Don't Fence Me In 30k - This is the one race I'm really hoping to do. A great course full of the best trails close to home.

June Wulfman's CDT 14k - Not a long race, but I think it looks fun. Especially because it's put on by the Butte Piss and and Moan Runners Club. I just like their name.

July Missoula Half Marathon - Take it or leave it. It's on the list because some friends from Montana and possibly from North Dakota want to run it.

July Swan Crest 100 - No, mom, not run it - VOLUNTEER for it!!!!

August Elkhorn 50k - Only if my AT is gone, gone, gone.

October Le Grizz 50 - This is my dream race; one based on the hope that I'm injury free and having a stellar running year ending with the completion of my first 50 miler.

What are your plans?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Out of the deep freeze

Buddy contemplating winter.
Tomorrow is the start of a two week vacation.
Enjoy the holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shoe Update

I'm still loving the Ascends. I've done a couple more 3 mile runs on snowy roads with icy patches. Both runs were in below zero temperatures. My feet stayed warm, dry, and I didn't slip at all!

Did I mention I'm really enjoying a return to road running? As much as I love the trails, I've got to admit I'm a little scared after January's fall. Even though running the dogs this weekend on snowy trails was fun, I definitely had twinges of fear as I was slip sliding along. Road running has it's tricky moments too, but I'm enjoying it. Maybe I'm still just basking in the glow of running without pain!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Lots of it! Buddy and I were able to complete a 30 minute hike through lots of fresh snow this morning. It was -5 degrees. I didn't even check the wind chill. We just needed to be outside in the new powder. After shoveling the driveway and sidewalks, it was time to play.

Buddy waiting for me to throw his toy.
Trying to destroy the thing.
So proud of himself and his toy.


Have a great day!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Thoughts - Mizuno Ascend 4

With the VIP discount and a coupon, I got new shoes from Road Runner Sports for under 40 bucks. After wearing them around the house for a week, I decided to try the Ascends out on a snowy 5 mile trail run.
So far, I LOVE these shoes - for many reasons. I ordered a 7.5, same as all my running shoes, and they fit perfectly. The Ascend is very lightweight and flexible. The traction is better than my Cascadias and the shoes have a bit more needed stability. The very best part of this shoe is the low heel counter, which means that nothing is touching the almost gone achilles nodule.

I don't think the Ascends are water resistant, and my toes did get a little cold while running through deep snow. Once I got back to the road, though, my feet quicky warmed up. It helped wearing SmartWool socks too. This shoe isn't as cushiony in the forefoot, but that didn't bother me during this run. Hopefully, this will hold true for longer runs too. I'd say this is one of the most comfortable pair of running shoes I have ever owned.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

For Gear Junkies

I like reading gear reviews. If you do too, visit

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Therapists often call this the silly season. It's not silly really, but hard for a lot of people. As a result, work has been stressful (although there's been a lot of fun and good things too). I'm thankful to be able to run again to deal with and process it all in a healthy way. We've gotten a lot of snow which makes it even more fun for me and our snow dog. Three shorter runs through snow during the week, and a 6 mile trail run in lots of fresh snow made for some quality workouts. We also made time for some off leash play...

Life is busy so if I don't get back here for awhile - Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Weekend

Saturday morning Rebecca and I took the dogs on a 5 mile easy loop. Below is Eby ready to get moving. Lots of sunshine!
Today, Buddy and I avoided the hunters and stuck to a nearby trail for a 3.5 mile loop. He was either tired or sore from yesterday's pavement, so we took lots of breaks. I'm feeling giddy - still no pain on my runs - just side stitches and heavy legs. I welcome those because it means that even though I'm really out of shape I'm actually running! Sorry, that news is going to get old to all of you. This injury just took a stinking long time to work itself out.

After our run, I locked us out of the house, but we got to see some beautiful colors at sunset!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Trot 10k

Rebecca and I ran the Thanksgiving Day 10k put on by a local gym. There were over 500 of us that showed up due to the unusually nice weather. The challenge for me was to finish a 10k at all considering I haven't run regularly in over 10 months. No exaggeration, but since starting the calf raises three weeks ago, I've been able to start 3-4 milers a few times a week. I've done two longer slow runs of 5 and 6 miles. If I'd known that my fall in January would take that long to fix, I would have been seriously depressed.

Moving on...I did run the 10k and I finished. At the very back of the pack, with a very slow time for me of 58 minutes, but I did it! Without ANY pain in my ankle. The rest of me was hurting though, but my heart was happy.

Afterwards, Rebecca, Mike and Eby came over for a pot luck style Thanksgiving dinner. They brought the healthy stuff; Steve and I made the Norwegian style butter filled carbohydrate side dishes. Eby and Buddy played outside for a few hours which wore Bud out completely. It was a good day!


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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Running

Two weeks in a row of hitting the 20 mpw of running! Compared to last year, this is nothing, but it's sure nice getting out there again with no pain. Yesterday, we did 5.5 miles of trail and road. Today, a 4 mile trail loop where I was able to RUN up the hills. It was a calm day with light snow. My camera bugged out on me though, so no pictures. Buddy and I also get in another 1-2 miles of walking per day. I'm going to ask about some physical therapy or massage just to get rid of residual scar tissue. Cautiously optimistic!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saving Money

The smell of coffee goes hand in hand with my memories of growing up in a school. My father was teacher, coach, principal and eventually superintendent. My mother was in charge of food services. We were in the building making posters for games, creating bulletin boards for classrooms, moving desks, cleaning test tubes, feeding the fish, etc. most of my childhood. Along with that was my dad and every other employee with coffee cup in hand. It seems appropriate now that I'm a public school employee that I've become hooked on "coffee." I put it in quotes because my preference is for lattes. Lucky for me, one of the teachers I work with recommended the Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker (we got it for 26 bucks) to save some money. Find your preferred syrup and ground beans and you are good to go. CHEAP!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Achilles Tendonitis Recovery

After 10 months of very little running, I was finally free of pain to run 6.75 miles. That distance used to be easy, but this one was hard. Rebecca and I did an out and back Sunday morning without the dogs. As much as I love Bud, it felt good to run without being tied to a leash or without stopping to inspect every pee covered piece of ground (those with dogs will understand). It also felt good to hit mile 5 and feel fatigue, not pain.

So, what cured the beast? Eccentric calf raises, wall stretch and hamstring stretch 2-3 times a day, EVERY DAY and more stable shoes (I took out my old Asics 2120 Trail shoes - still the best). Some people swear by ice, but I only iced after any cardio exercise. Warming up has become way more important. Not by stretching, but by walking first. I would say my left achilles is nearing 100% recovered and my right 90%. Both calves still get tight, but the only pain I have is if I push directly on the nodule on my right achilles. Research I've read said it takes about 12 weeks of the eccentric calf work to be completely pain free, and I've only been doing them about two weeks.

This is a nasty injury. My advice (the same kind I ignored) would be to STOP RUNNING and get help from a sports medicine doc if achilles pain does not go away after a couple weeks. Truly, running through it only creates a long term, very painful and frustrating injury.

I had to include a picture of Cowboy Buddy -minus the hat- on Halloween. He greeted every single costumed kiddo with the jingle jingle of his collar and a good sniff. It was an exciting night in dog world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Favorites

I'm stuck at home with the flu. Can't go back to work until I've been fever free (without the help of Tylenol) for 24 hours. Blah. Bored. Can't run either. In my boredom, I thought about a few favorite running items I've added this year.

1) Athleta running capri - called the Walkabout Knicker, except I have it in black. So comfy that I really want the tights too! Most of the capris I've tried have been pretty thin fabric. These are a little thicker. My personal preference.

2) Drymax Lite Trail Crew - I keep reaching for these. My SmartWool are still keepers, but these are great.

3) GU - After trying Accel Gel, Hammer Gel, Clif Shot Blocks and Gels, Chomps, PowerGel, Luna Bites, etc. these are still my favorite. Maybe it's because GU was what I used for my first marathon. I like all of the flavors and the consitency better than any of the others. Plus, you can buy a 24 pack with all of the flavors from Zombie Runner.

4) Hammer Heed - some people hate it. I love it. Hardly any flavor and not sugary like other sports drinks. Around here, it's also pretty easy to find.

5) Polypro liner gloves under cheap Target mittens.
Layering keeps my hands dry and warm. In the past,
I've struggled with freezing hands that turn white.
All for now. Hoping you all stay germ free.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's been awhile...

Here are some pictures of Buddy's first snowfall with us. We waited up until the predicted snow started to come down and then played in the backyard. As expected, he loves the snow and cooler temperatures. By the next afternoon the snow had melted in town, so we climbed up a favorite trail in hopes of finding more. It got deeper as we climbed and Buddy was in heaven. I tried to get a picture of him with snow on his nose, but he wouldn't stay still long enough. Too many places to explore.

This week we traded in our morning lows of 5 degrees for a return to fall and 60 degrees. The climb to Mt. Ascension rewarded us with views of still snow capped Elkhorns that my camera just doesn't capture. Time to get a new one I'm thinking.

It's odd that I don't dread winter. I'm not a fan of darkness, but I am looking forward to snow.
Congratulations to Lois for her marathon finish (and awesome time) and Happy Birthday to my niece and Melissa today!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back to Running

For the first time in months, I can say there's been quite a bit of running going on. Last weekend, I volunteered for the annual Mt. Helena Classic. We hauled jugs of water up the 1906 trail to where West End Trail meets the Backside Trail. My huffing and puffing was a good indication of just how out of shape I've become. I was amused by the course markings. John made sure no one was going to go off course this year. (See below!)
Considering how concerned I was about my Achilles tendon after the climb, I was surprised how much better it felt the next day, and the day after, and so on. Steve thinks it was a good way to stretch it out. Whatever it is, the combination of doing eccentric calf exercises, stretching, running on level surfaces and in good shoes seems to be helping. Buddy and I have run 23 miles in the past week. We're keeping them under 5 miles, which still allows us to go to beautiful trails.
View from Waterline
Saturday morning, Rebecca and Eby joined us for a 5 mile Wakina Sky loop. It's fire season, and the smoke from nearby MacDonald Pass was hard on the lungs. Still beautiful with the fall colors. Buddy and Eby are fun to watch too chasing each other around and getting into things that they should not.
Eby after running hard

Fall - Wakina Sky

If my body continues to cooperate, I hope to train for Snow Joke or another "destination" half marathon (Steve's been dreaming of a real vacation.) I'm having Buddy train with me with the possibility of Snow Joke. He's not had any more hip pain even after the 5 miles.

Oh, and I got the CamelBak Stamina II for 19 bucks from Sierra Trading Post. Love it as I do the single bottle belt. I've got too much of this stuff...

And, Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband. 12 years today. We had a great celebration weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's official - I will NEVER be a morning runner. I've tried all summer; especially since adopting Buddy. I've tried to reason with myself with the "won't it be nice to get exercise over with for the day?" The answer is no. There is nothing I enjoy about weekday early morning runs. I don't like waking up that early, feeling rushed, being crabby with the dog because I'm rushed, not being able to warm up properly and stretch decently once I'm done. Running in the morning does not help me clear my head either. I'm also suspecting that the six weeks of morning running is exactly what tipped the Achilles tendon situation to disaster. So, I gave up and life is so much better!

Buddy and I now walk in the morning. I zone out during our agreed upon time of 30 minutes while he does his business. We hit the trails or road late afternoon whenever the temperatures cool or earlier if we find a shady place. The result is way less pain because I'm warming up and stretching like a good girl, a mind at peace from processing the day's events, and a happy relationship between dog and owner because we can explore at a leisurely pace with absolutely no agenda. There's nothing better than seeing Buddy's head pop up in the window as I pull up to the house and his butt wiggle when he knows it's time to RUN! My new job is perfect for this set up. I'm done at 4 with plenty of time to be outside.

I'm happy to report that Buddy has finally learned to drink from his folding dish. He's a bit finicky this way, but is making allowances :). One thing is for sure - my one bottle belt is no longer enough for the both of us. On long runs, I use my Nathan pack, but really don't want to use it every day. Anyone have a recommendation for a two bottle belt that also has a bungee cord or something to hold the doggy dish?

And, what's up with this Montana heat wave? It's September - time for fall!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Congratulations to my brother-in-law, Chris! Ironman again - 13:39 is the unofficial time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alternate Swan Crest

My recovering Achilles tendon wouldn't allow for a repeat of the Swan Crest 57k this weekend. Although jealous - I know how beautiful the Swan Range is this time of year and I'd miss out on running with friends - I decided to suck it up and find fun in my own backyard. Buddy and I left in the dark directly from our house and did one big two hour loop of trail and roads.

Ominous Lime Kiln guarding the trail

The sunrise as we climbed above town

Buddy saying "Come on already!"

Post water and treat break. The patient "can we go now?" look.

We love this rock.

Warming up at home and happy to see Steve. Glad for gloves, hat and
layers as the high was 49 degrees!
We're sending good vibes to Chris as he completes his second Ironman Wisconsin today.

Monday, September 7, 2009

This morning, Buddy and I explored the Wakina Sky area; a place we seldom go. It was the first really chilly morning. 45 degrees had me scrambling to find gloves, hat and long sleeved shirt. We took our time on the way up Wakina Sky Road to warm up a little, watching the deer and squirrels (and Buddy didn't chase after any of them!), then ran hard up the trail. Instead of looping back on the Stairway to Heaven trail, we continued on Wakina Sky to Grizzly Gulch road. We'd been hiking a lot this week, and I wanted to run at a faster pace on a flat surface so not to stress my Achilles too much.

I've become a bit complacent on these runs compared to running in the Flathead. As Buddy and I cruised along, I heard a rustling in the trees by the road. Less than 20 feet ahead, a black bear ambled onto the road directly in our path. Definitely surprised, I shouted "Hey bear," hoping it would take off. It did, across the road, where it promptly sat and stared at us curiously. Buddy followed my lead and backed up the road from where we'd just run. Two cars passed by without slowing a bit. I continued to yell "hey bear" until it took off away from us. Here he? is ambling up to the ridge. Buddy handled it great; keeping quiet and following all commands. It's always exciting to see wildlife, but this one was a bit too close for me. We finished off our 5 miles on adrenaline.

My legs are tired. In addition to several 3-5 miles trail excursions, Steve and I started filling in what will eventually be our rock garden. We bought and planted a young juniper tree, two Barberry shrubs, russian sage, catmint, blue festuca grass, and gaillardia. Gardenwerks is the place to go - very helpful owner and lots of good stuff to dream about buying. The previous owners had not planted anything, just hauled in piles of mountain rock, so the dirt underneath was tough to dig up. Lots of work, and much more to do. I've got day lilies, red sedum, a couple more shrubs, astilbes, lupines, daisies, etc to plant. Since much of the planting is bulbs, it looks a bit funny with a few plants here and there. We can't wait to see what it looks like next year! Here's our baby juniper.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well spent vacation days

This picture says it all. After a week of trail exploration, Buddy was finally TIRED. He curled up with his stuffed snail and has been sleeping the day away.

Wednesday night, we met up with Rebecca and Eby for a 4 mile loop of trail and pavement. Eby took off after something, most likely a deer, and didn't come back for awhile. We started to get worried, but she found us, panting like crazy. After drinking a ton of water and walking a bit, she got her second wind and finished the loop with us. If it's not Eby chasing the deer, it's Buddy.

Thursday morning, we did 6.2 miles on Mt. Ascension. Friday morning I had to get up early for work, so it was a 3 mile close to home day. Saturday morning, we did the 5 mile Wakina Sky loop, running most of it, the last two miles at a 9 minute/mile pace. After 8 months of being a slug, it felt good to actually run.
Since it was cool and overcast this morning, Buddy and I headed to the Ridge trail for another 6 miles. Both of us are re-adjusting to running life as evidenced by some stomach distress and then fatigue later in the day. It's sad how the body adapts to a fairly sedentary lifestyle so quickly, then struggles to keep up once it's pushed to perform again. My achilles continues to do well, as long as I stretch several times a day. Glad we can be back outside to enjoy the amazing trail system this area has to offer.

This next picture is of a strange looking mushroom nestled in amongst bunches of wildflowers. I'm kind of fascinated by fungi and where it grows. Weird, I know.

And the interest in running socks continues. Just got a pair of Drymax Lite Trail socks (on sale at Zombie Runner) and I like them much better than the original pair. Up until now, I've remained a devoted fan of the SmartWool ultra lite socks, so we'll see how these do on longer runs.

A total of 34 miles this week, not counting walks and hiking. We'll keep it there for awhile. Vacation is at an end. Back to school tomorrow!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to work

For my last day of vacation, Buddy and I did a morning tour of Mt. Ascension trails. We started out at the Lime Kiln trail head, did Rocky Road, Prickly Pear, Archery Range, Entertainment, and 2006 trails. We were on the trail at 7 am since it was going to be a hot one and Buddy doesn't handle heat well. It was almost cold in the shade; my fingertips were white for the first hour, but Buddy was in heaven.

While on the trail, we had the pleasure of meeting Michelle, a local runner (this year's Don't Fence Me In 30k winner) and dog lover, whom Buddy has deemed lovely. He would have enjoyed running at her fast clip, but was satisfied just to be outside. We ran what we could, and hiked the rest. Buddy stayed on leash most of the time due to the frequent encounters with deer. I wanted to avoid the panic of waiting for him to return after his attempts to herd them all. Yes, it's happened more frequently than I like.

By the time we reached the top, it was getting hot for him. We attempted to find the connector to the Eddy McClure Trail, which I had planned to take back. Unfortunately, it was in full sun, and Buddy was already panting. For some reason, Buddy hates to drink water on the go. I've read this about herding dogs; they don't want to eat or drink until their job is done. It still makes me crazy as I worry about heatstroke. So, we descended down a shady trail back home.

We finished after about two hours, my longest workout in several weeks. I felt pretty good except for some shin cramping towards the end. I had only brought water, instead of my usual Heed, since Buddy was drinking from it too. I'll either need to bring Saltsticks next time or Buddy will have to get used to Heed!

The school year officially starts tomorrow for staff. I hadn't posted about this change before for reasons not necessary to disclose. My graduate studies were in school social work, but it was hard to find a position in Montana. This past spring, someone retired and I was hired as a Social Services Coordinator for the district. Which means a lot of good things including -

1) I can serve students that need assistance regardless of health insurance or diagnosis
2) I do not need to bill for services
3) I no longer have to do the absolutely ridiculous amount of Medicaid paperwork
4) #3 also means I don't have to worry about doing paperwork at night or on weekends
5) I am no longer on-call
6) I still get to be in the school working with awesome people

It also means I get school holidays and vacations. I consider this a crazy, wonderful perk of the job, but it was definitely NOT the reason I accepted the position. My husband and family are already wondering what I'll possibly do to keep busy next summer. I've got plans though, which include a lot of gardening, visiting family and running.

Since I missed an entire year of races due to this injury, I'm planning to use the winter to rebuild my base and then figure out a race schedule. I've got some ideas, how about you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back Home

Happy 40th Anniversary to my parents!
My mom is not a huge party person, so we opted for a small BBQ with long time family friends before I left. It turned out to be a very fun night looking at their wedding pictures and eventually school yearbooks. My parents are the best, and I'm happy I got to be home.

Buddy and I got up early Monday morning for the long drive back. At 6:30 am, we ran in 40 degrees with a windy cold rain/sleet mix. I'd forgotten how cold winter is going to be. Yuck. After driving (Buddy sleeping in the backseat) for 8 hours, we stopped off in Bozeman to check out Fleet Feet and local trails.

We explored Burke Park and the connecting trail to Lindley Park. There were so many dogs off leash. Buddy must be less anxious because he handled all of the exploratory sniffs from other dogs without a flinch or growl. My ankle handled all of the driving, then the hills without even a twinge of discomfort.

Such nice quiet parks.

On Tuesday, we pondered what to do with our last few days of vacation. Since my achilles has been on the mend since adopting Buddy, I realized he hadn't been on several of my favorite trails. We parked at Mt. Helena and did a hodgepodge of trails, running the flat sections and power hiking the rest. Buddy is getting much better off leash and had his happy face on the whole morning.

Tomorrow is our last day of vacation. I've planned an adventure for us. It will involve getting up really early so we can end before the hot part of the day.