Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snow Joke

On Saturday, Rebecca, Eby and I drove up to Seeley Lake for the annual Snow Joke Half Marathon. This is one of the area races that allows dogs. Buddy would have loved the chaos, but 13.1 miles would have been too much for him.

The course is 13.1 miles of paved roads around the lake. I've heard that in the past, the roads have been snow packed and icy. Due to the recent warm temperatures though, the roads were mostly clear. The forecast had called for rain, but the day brought dry conditions and temps in the upper 30's. Upon arrival, we were surprised to see a line of people out into the parking lot waiting to register. The start of the race was delayed almost 30 minutes to accomodate the volume of people who showed up. It was nice to use that time to meet and greet friends from both Kalispell and Helena. Below you can see Eby and Bug readying themselves for the race.

As I've mentioned before, I don't race much. I've done two half marathons in my lifetime, one as part of a weekend excursion with friends while living in DC (2005 Virginia Beach Rock n' Roll Half in 2:25:09) and Bozeman's Lewis and Clark Half, but I can't remember which year or my time. I didn't really know what to expect for this one, since I've only been running with consistency since November, and since my long runs have been quite slow. My primary goal was to beat the known 2:25. My other goal was to run the entire thing with zero walk breaks.

Once we set off, I let Rebecca and Eby go, assuming Eby would want to catch up to other dogs. I settled into a groove, choosing to run by feel rather than by my watch. When I glanced at my Garmin at the halfway point I was shocked to be averaging a 9:50 pace. For the most part, I felt great. The course is beautiful, and I was once again grateful to be just running without injury or pain. I took a GU every 4 miles and drank often from my bottle of Tri-Berry Nuun.

At mile 11, I started to feel some mild cramping in my right shin. I hadn't brought extra electrolytes because of the Nuun, but I think I could have used some. Instead I took the much avoided walk break to take my last GU and chug down the rest of the Nuun, hoping to avoid a major cramp crash. With two miles to go, I just tried to keep a pace that didn't lead to further cramping. On the home stretch, I lost a few seconds trying to untie my extra top around my waist that held my race number. Not sure what my official finishing time will be, but according to my Garmin it was 2:11. Someday, I'd like to do better, but after the last year of pain, I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!
Eby ran the whole thing with Rebecca and they finished right ahead of me.

Snow Joke is my kind of no frills race. Registration was 10 bucks and you could visit with other people in a warm gym while waiting for the start. There were a couple of aid stations serving Heed and water. A really nice course not too far from home. I'd definitely run it again.

Also, Martin, if you are reading this - thank you for introducing me to the joys of running uphill. The course description had mentioned a few hills and one was supposed to be "big." While running, I couldn't remember where they were supposed to be. Around mile 10, there was a sign that said "Pain ahead" so I assumed that's where the big one would be, but it never appeared. I guess I'm getting so used to running up, these felt like a breeze!!!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yak Trax

By the way, I miss my Yak Trax. I forgot to mention the forgettable run on Saturday. It was snowy and icy, so I used the Stabilicers for traction. Ugh. These would be great for hiking on snow packed or icy trails, but for running - at least for me - they stink. There are cleats on the ball of the foot and heel, but nothing in between, so it feels weird. Mostly, they are just heavy, clunky and inflexible.

After warming up for 1 mile, we picked up the pace so that Rebecca could do her 4 mile "Race for Haiti." While she and Eby took off, I was struggling to get my feet to be flexible enough to move. It was annoying, and eventually painful. I finally took the cleats off for the last mile regardless of ice. Freedom.

Despite going through two pairs of Yak Trax this winter, I'm going to have to buy another pair for the Snowjoke half marathon next week.

Blue Skies and Sunshine!

After weeks of inversions and on/off snow showers the last couple of days, the sun greeted us brightly and warmly for a morning snowshoeing adventure.

It was cold when we started, only 5 degrees. We felt it in our fingers and toes, and then our hydration hoses froze up. We spent some time rearranging layers to generate some warmth to melt the ice. It didn't phase us though - too happy about the sunshine!

Not sure how far we went as I left the Garmin in the car on accident. Such an amazingly beautiful trail - Linda and I couldn't help thinking about summer and getting some long runs on the same trail.
We also saw Martin and Janice enjoying the sun and snow. And of course, posed for several pictures along the way.

The final leg of our trip opened up to a bright and snow covered view. We got to make fresh tracks in the new snowfall. Some areas were really deep and it was tough going, but we were happy to have such a fun workout.

Amazing blue sky

Thanks for a great morning girls!

Once again, I had rented the snowshoes, this time from Capital Sports because Base Camp was out. I actually got a much better fitting pair - a Tubbs brand. I've got to do some research, because snowshoes are next in line on my wish list!

Ultramarathon Man Update

JB from Journeyfilm stopped by and left a message regarding the problems I was having with the DVD (see the last post). I may be technologically incompetent, so I'm going to pass on this advice to all of you. Make sure you run the DVD on NORMAL MODE if you don't want it to pause and offer all the stats for each of Dean's marathons. Thanks JB!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ultramarathon Man

Steve had set me up to receive Ultramarathon Man: 50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days through Netflix while he was out of town. After seeing J.B. Benna's earlier documentary "The Runner" I thought this one might be good too. I was not a lover or hater of Dean before watching, and I'm neither one after. The set up was quite irritating though. It would randomly stop to give stats from each marathon. At first, interesting, but after the 12th pause, I tried to get it to just play through. For some reason, it wouldn't change the set up, so I just gave up watching it. Maybe if they'd been running beautiful trails...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Must be running again because I've only got three of my 24 pack of GU left! Need me some more and can't wait to try out the new flavor - Jet Blackberry!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Thumbs up for snowshoeing! The warm temperatures, unexpected new snow, and slick roads made for a fun adventure. In the past, I'd thought about getting running snowshoes,
but I think regular ones will do. It was kind of nice to use it as cross training and actually take a break from running. Can't wait to try this again! Thanks Linda! A Happy Iris

The fearless leader of road and trail

Buddy and I also finished a rather cumbersome 3 mile run this afternoon. Dead legs, lots of slush and I was done.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


A little sore after yesterday's long run. Buddy and I chose to take a long walk in the early morning fog. A bit eery...
Tomorrow will be my first attempt at snowshoeing. I was able to rent a pair of snowshoes from Base Camp for 10 bucks. Buddy tried to help out as I cautiously tried them out in the backyard.

Looking forward to learning something new!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics are on, so more interested in that than blogging, but had to mention today's amazing run. The HURL group had tentatively planned to do a loop that involves some climbing. Rebecca and I started from our respective houses instead of the Bagel Co., met up at Lime Kiln and started the trek up. I've been pretty slow uphill with frequent walk breaks, so the plan was to see how long it took the group to catch us.

The weather was perfect, almost 40 degrees. Buddy and I had been out walking earlier and it was warm. I dumped the winter running gear and opted for hiking capris and light shirt. After stashing a pair of ice cleats in my hydration pack just in case, I took off to meet Rebecca. There were a few icy patches, but it was easy to run on packed snow and eventually clear roads. For the first time in a LONG time, I felt great. We ran every step up and continued to run except for a couple impromptu bathroom breaks. It was sunny and warm with spectacular views as Rebecca demonstrates below.

We'd look back thinking we were hearing voices of running group members but didn't ever see anyone. Thinking that Martin had been outvoted and they picked another route, we kept going.
Our plan was 12 miles, and with an added loop with yet another uphill, we surpassed our goal. Rebecca left me at mile 13; I picked Buddy up and ran another 1.5 and finally bonked.

What went right today? Maybe the 30 day shred is creating strength where I didn't have it before. Eliminating walk breaks from all my runs seems to have removed them from my mind. Overdressing in the past always wastes time removing layers. This time, I dressed to be cold and tied an emergency layer around my waist. I'd really focused on hydrating the day before. For the first 13 miles, I drank about 50 oz of water, and took a GU and saltstick every 45 minutes. My mini Luna bars were also a boost at the halfway and 13 mile points.
Most of all, though, it was going at my own pace. I psych myself out trying to keep up with others. Knowing the group could catch and pass us wasn't an issue at all. In fact, we were hoping they would just to see other people. Overall, the day was a huge confidence boost.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


My sister gave me an Athleta gift card for Christmas this year. After drooling over the catalog for a good month, I decided how to spend it. My purchase arrived today. So, so comfy. Thanks Amy! Summer dreaming...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stabilicer Sports

The second pair of Yak Trax are shot. The wires broke and then cut the rubber to pieces. This time, I went for the more expensive Stabilicer Sport Cleats. Putting them on was a bit of a challenge, but once in place, they weren't going anywhere. I didn't use the velcro they came with, primarily because each strip was as long as my leg, and I couldn't figure out what to do with all of it.

The cleats are replaceable. Although, after today, I can tell you it would take a lot to wear these down. It's just nice to know I don't have to go out and buy another pair if a cleat falls apart.

I found the perfect long hill covered in ice to try them out. We've had a freezing fog advisory, and all that was sloppy yesterday, was now a frozen pond.

Buddy and I covered 4.5 miles of ice without a single slip. We ran into an abyss of fog. The traction from the Stabilicers was really amazing.

So, the pros:

1) GREAT traction on ice. We detoured to a couple of snow packed trails just to try them out. Good traction there too.

2) Pretty simple to use once you figure out how to put them on.

3) They stay on really well without any binding. If I were to use them for hiking in snow, I'd probably try the velcro too.

4) Durable. Not much is going to damage these babies.

The cons:

1) Definitely heavier than Yak Trax. Also, a bit more rigid underfoot.

2) Hated them on pavement. Even though they seem more stable on pavement than Yak Trax (kind of like running on a platform), they were incredibly LOUD. Clacking along in an otherwise quiet world of snow was not appealing. I purposefully moved onto ice just to stop the noise.

3) More expensive but worth it for the durability.

Truth - I think I may just be ready for spring. Way to early, I know.

Pizza Bread for Superbowl

Steve and I stayed in to watch Superbowl and made our own favorite - except with some healthier twists. Brown about a pound of ground turkey, and throw in whatever you like. We added black olives, onions, green peppers, chopped fresh spinach, tomato and a little pepperoni for flavor. Next, add either a small can of tomato juice, v8 or tomato sauce and pizza seasonings. Or, you can use dried spaghetti mix. Last, I put in a small handful of mozzarella cheese.

While all the above is simmering, roll out thawed bread dough. If you make your own, more power to ya. Even better, use whole wheat. We were lazy, and used the frozen kind. Add your mixture to the rolled out dough and wrap it up.

Let rise for 30 - 45 minutes. If we'd been cooking it for others, I'd have tried a bit harder to make it look pretty. :)

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 375 degrees. You can lightly butter the top and sprinkle garlic and Parmesan on it the last few minutes of baking. Yummy!

If you've got too much, just refrigerate, and reheat for crunchy leftovers. Enjoy the game!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I've decided that when an "air stagnation warning" is posted almost daily, you've just got to run through it. With the weather reaching a balmy 34 degrees, Buddy and I could not resist a 4.5 mile run on sloppy roads up in the mountains. We watched the sun set as we cruised along. Buddy's favorite part was getting his muddy self towel dried and then snuggling in for hugs.

Shredding and other news


The above message from Buddy translates to "Please stop typing and pet me."

The past two weeks I've stuck well to my training plan. Four runs per week averaging 3-5 miles and a long run of 10 miles each Saturday. Eliminating all walking except when taking a gel. Even Buddy has gotten serious, only stopping when absolutely necessary. In addition, I started this crazy thing.
Ouch. The workouts are only 20 minutes combining cardio, strength and abs, but ouch. I've done it twice after 30 minute runs. It's kind of fun, but not sure if my knee (old meniscus tear) will hold up. It's hard for me to differentiate between good pain and bad. We'll see how it goes.

February running in Montana has been a beautiful pain in the rear. It snows then melts, then turns to ice, then clears in places, but not others. My two year old pair of YakTrax are now shredded due to intermittent dry spots on the pavement.

I bought a new pair which came with the added bonus of hand warmers (love them for skiing and cold weather camping). Two weeks later, I'm searching for a pair of plyers to repair the new ones that have also fallen apart. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE YakTrax. Our winter weather just hasn't supported the proper use of them well.
Anyone have the Kahtoola microspikes? Do they hold up any better?

I've got races picked out. More on that soon.