Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 - News, Races, & Goals


2014 is shaping up to be a stellar year already.  A few weeks ago I got an exciting email letting me know that I have been chosen to be a Nuun Ambassador for 2014. WAHOO! I honestly love Nuun, I will say that not only has it helped my training/hydration but it has also helped me kick my soda addiction.  It has a great taste (much better then many of the sports "drinks" out there) and I love the fizz it has right after the tablet dissolves.  I have a tube of Nuun in my purse, car, and Bear II at all times.  Applying to be an ambassador for Nuun was a pretty easy decision, not only to I believe in their product but since discovering it over a year ago I have seen all that they do for the running community. I am really excited to be a part of this extremely hydrated and motivating "family"!

2014 Races:

January 11: PoHo Hot Chocolate 8k
March 1: Pazcki 5K
March 30: Rock CF 1/2 Marathon
May 10th: Weekend Warrior Full Marathon 
August 23: North Country 50 Miler
September 5: Woodstock 100 (need to register when it opens)

There is a possibility for a relay race in July but as of now nothing is set in stone so I am not planning on it. But overall that is the extent of my 2014 "racing".  I will be spending some time on trails for a few Fat Ass 50k's and hopefully a 50 miler, plus almost every holiday our local running group does a Fat Ass Half Marathon so I will be getting in the distance.  Since we will be moving sometime next Spring I am hesitant to pay for/commit to any races and then not be able to make them, plus in all honesty I hate paying for races when I can run for free.

I am perfectly happy with this race schedule and the few races that are on it for now (yes there may be 1 or 2 added throughout the year if the timing works)  I look forward to running the 2 new races and returning to the other 4 for another go at the course.

2014 Goals:

1) Sub 2 hr at Rock CF in March-I do not know that I want to just sub 2, I really want to crush it.  Being only 4 seconds away last year at Bayshore really has been bothering me because I cannot help but think I could have given just a little bit more.
2) Sub 4:20 Full Marathon in May-I have not run a full marathon since 2004 so I am not sure what to expect for the 26.2, I know that I will be racing it much differently then my 50K last September.  I do want to run it in less then 4:20 since that will take an hour off my first (and only) marathon time.
3) Complete both a 50 miler and 100 miler in 2014.  These 2 will be tests of perseverance and sheer determination.  I will be attempting the 100 miler only 2 weeks after my first official 50, so it is going to be tough, but if I train properly and stay safe I can do it.

With the help of my Believe I Am journal and both the online and local running communities I have become a part of I can cross all 4 of these goals off my list by the end of 2014.  

What do you have for 2014? Any exciting news, goals or races?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

When they cancel the race...

For the last 6 months I have been looking forward to a trip to Dallas.  It not only included a girls weekend with a runner friend from Michigan but also are friend who lives down there now and I have not seen since last spring but also the Dallas Metro PCS 1/2 Marathon.

However as the 10 day forecast stalking started so did the realization that the trip may not actually happen.  There were icicles hanging off clouds on the forecast! (I rarely see that in the Michigan forecast)  This could not be a good thing.  Never in a million years did I think when flying in December my problem would be flying into Dallas, if anything I worried I would not be able to fly back into Detroit Metro.
Yep it was going from 77 to 37 in a matter of days!
Thursday night though I remained hopeful, packed my suitcase, got the last few things together at the house and went to bed early.  I knew things were already getting bad in Texas and that the weather was already causing problems.  However are flight was not landing till 10:45 am on Friday, so there was still time for things to clear up.
Just a little weather advisory
Friday morning I woke up, checked my flight, it said it was still on time, so I got ready, picked up my runner friend that was traveling with me, and off we went.  We got the car parked, through security, grabbed a coffee and headed to the gate.  Sure enough close to 7:56 am they started boarding our plane. WHAT!?!? It's really going to happen.  I was so excited even though I was still a little nervous about the weather conditions but obviously if we were flying out things could not be that bad.  That's when things changed, the people that had just boarded were being escorted off and Delta was announcing that the flight was cancelled.  Within 5 minutes we had already been rebooked on the 5:25 pm flight.  Ok, just a delay, we can still get there.  Since we had already parked the car, we decided hanging out at the airport was the best idea and we knew we had an extra set of workout clothes so why not find a treadmill.  Luckily the Westin Hotel that is connected to Detroit Metro Airport has a very nice exercise room (4 treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, free weights, and a pool/hot tub).  For $15 a person we were able to access the fitness center for the day, which included the locker rooms and showers. Was this ideal? No. It was better then sitting in the airport though.  We changed and managed to each log 7.5 treadmill miles, plus some core/strength work before soaking in the hot tub and chatting for over an hour and a half.  Uninterrupted adult conversation with a friend, honestly it was great.
Selfie in the fancy Westin lobby
Selfie after 7.5 sweaty treadmill miles
View from the treadmill
As the day went on, the conditions in Dallas only seemed to get worse and before the Dallas Metro PCS Marathon had made the official announcement to cancel, we had collectively decided that making the trip was not the best choice or the responsible choice.  Not only was the weather still awful, there were (and are as I write this) that did not have power.  There were countless accidents already because the roads were so horrible.  Even if the flight to Dallas had taken off on Friday night, having our friend or her husband make the 20+ minute on a good day drive from Southlake to pick us up was not safe.  Even if the race actually happened on Sunday, it seemed selfish to expect emergency workers or city personal who could be better used elsewhere, blocking off traffic and monitoring a race.  It seemed selfish to have bottled water and finish line food, when there are people in the city that could use that at that moment more then me.  It seemed selfish to take a seat on an airplane, to make a trip that suddenly had so many more cons then pros, when there were men and women just trying to get home to their families who were suffering the storm alone.  It was not an easy decision, and really sometimes being an adult and making a logical choice stinks, but it was the right decision.  

Am I sad that I was not able to make the trip, sure, I was looking forward to a girls weekend with my friends.  I was looking forward to a long overdue run with my friend.  It will happen, there will be time around Christmas and we are already looking at a reschedule weekend (this time not in December).

Ultimately the race was canceled and in my opinion it was the right decision.  

PERSPECTIVE! This whole adventure was really a lesson on perspective, and honestly a much needed lesson because lately I have apparently forgotten how important perspective is.  It was about finding the positive in a negative situation.  I was reminded that how I felt about a situation was dependent on how I looked at the situation.

So this weekend instead of sitting around a pouting (which I will admit I did Friday night for a short period of time after the kids went to bed and allowed myself to be a little sad I was not going), I decided to make the best of it.  It has included a sunny 10 mile run around the beautiful city of Detroit, a stop at RUN Detroit, breakfast from Avalon Bakery, a nap, some quality time and dinner with the family, the MSU game and tomorrow includes a big day of lounging around, snuggles and the Lions.
After 10 wonderful miles w/ our friends Alia and ACE from RUN Detroit
I hope you all have a great weekend! Any big plans?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Trails and 3 weeks of Ultra Training Recap...

This weekend totally kicked butt! Seriously! I spent Saturday afternoon on a new trail system with a few runners from a Facebook group I had joined after Woodstock.  I had heard only a few things about Stinchfield Woods and what I had seen was beautiful so I threw it out there as a possible meet up and trail run location.  I had planned out an 8 mile route, but the map was not the greatest and the trails were not marked, so the map that we had quickly became a "reference".  The 7 of us headed out and as we got to intersections someone basically just picked a direction.  The good thing about Stinchfield is it really is not that large and has a few key land marks, like the observatory, to help guide you out of a trail.  After 3 hours and 10.75 miles (there was a ton of stops, picture taking, overall marveling at the beauty of the woods), we were all starting to get cold and it was getting late so we called it a day.  It was really awesome to explore a new place with some really cool fellow runners.  However after looking at the Garmin data, there are still so much more to explore and I cannot wait to check it out again soon.

Now for a little ultra training recap.  It is looking like Land Between the Lakes will be my first 50 miler next March and I am training like that's the plan.  So far the first 3 weeks have been great, the first two weeks I hit the milage and actually exceeded last weeks by 1 mile, however this week ended up being 12 miles short.  This shortage came from only reaching 10.75 on the trails yesterday, and skipping a 6 mile run all together today and using the elliptical instead.  My right shin has been bothering me for several weeks (looking back it has been a nagging cramp for months), and the muscle next to it is constantly cramping during runs, so I decided it needed a break today and would benefit from a low impact workout followed by some rolling.  I know for me to run 2 50 milers and 1 100 miler next year I have to train and race smart. It is going to be a matter of trusting my gut when it comes to training as well.  I know that some days the miles will be important, but as we head into a Michigan winter, hours on my feet will be taking precedent to actual miles logged once the trails become snow covered.  It is going to come down to putting in the work, and if I need a rest day taking, not because I have an excuse to not run but honestly asking myself if I can benefit from something else like rest, yoga, cross training, or an elliptical.  The biggest problem I have had over the last 3 weeks is my appetite! The increase in miles has made me hungry, like EAT ALL THINGS hungry.  So next week my goals is to make 100% clean eating choices when I get hungry, not just 75% of the time and then raid the pantry for sweets the other 25%.  Getting my eating habits under control again is going to be important because the last thing I want to do is carry extra weight for 100 miles.
If you want to follow my daily training I can be found on Dailymile (click here).

How was your running weekend? Do you run for time or milage or both?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Inside My Bear II

A few days ago Alex on Instagram asked me what was inside my Victory Sportdesign Bear II.  I picked up the Bear II back in August before Run Woodstock after hearing about it on Ultrarunner Podcast.  It was the best bag I could find to keep me organized and hopefully minimize time at aid stations looking for whatever I needed, and considering it was designed by ultra runner Victor Ballesteros, I figured he knew what worked. (Which by the way it did work and I did not have trouble finding anything at Run Woodstock during the 50K)  Right now since I do not have any ultras for a few months it has been converted from a "drop bag" to a pick up and go running where ever and whenever bag. (This saves me time for the stupid early runs because I can easily grab my headlamp/my handheld/or anything else I may "need")

Overall opinion on the Bear II: Sturdy construction, color is bright so it is easy to find and also does not make things "lost" in the bottom of the bag like bags with darker colored interiors, lots of pockets for organization and clear outer front/top sleeves to "personalize" the bag (perfect for those that like to visualize their goals).

Biggest Concern: Everyone is going to catch on to the awesomeness that is the Bear II and next thing you know it will just be a sea of red drop bags. I also wish it was just a tad larger and have thought about eventually purchasing another one for clothes/shoes at races. (But I am holding out to see what their new bag the Grizzly looks like first)

So here is what I am currently storing in mine at the moment:
Everything packed up nicely (There is still a good 2" at the top that I can fold up a shirt/shorts/socks and throw them in there)
Left side of the bag & contents from the "Food" and "Misc" pockets (not shown is 2 pairs or gloves which are drying w/ the laundry & a Simple Hydration bottle which is in the washer)
Right side of the bag with contents from the "Personal" and "Safety" pockets (not shown Garmin/Road Id/Endorphin Warrior Bracelet b/c they are next to my computer) 
Top little pockets for meds/batteries/misc little things
For a small and compact bag it stores a ton of stuff and it is all easily accessible.  It even came in handy on our recent family vacation when the oldest kid was having allergy issues.  We were able to take care of it at a rest stop with some allergy medicine from my Bear II (which I had brought incase I could squeeze a run in).  I would recommend this product to anyone looking for either a drop bag or an all purpose running bag.

Disclaimer: Pictures were taken with my less then stellar phone at 6 am but you can get the idea of what the bag is all about.  I purchased the Bear II and was not in anyway compensated or instructed by Victory Sportdesign to write a review.  Opinions as always are my own. 

How do you store all of your running stuff and keep it organized?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mash up and wrap up....

First up the winner of the Island Boost Giveaway: There is no winner because Rafflecopter is acting funny & telling me it cannot pick a winner so the people that entered will all get a sample of Island Boost to try, be on the look out for an email coming later today. (These samples are from my own stash because that is how much I believe in the product Island Boost did not sponsor this giveaway or provide me with any compensation to giveaway their product)

Second: My guest post ran this week over on Going Long & the transition to Ultra Running...check it out, it was a fun piece to write.

Third: Working on my 2014 plan and finalizing the races that I would like to run, planning out training schedules and getting started in my quest for a 100 Mile Belt Buckle. Stay tuned for a detailed plan in the next few days.

Now off to catch up on laundry and housework since while mini vacations are fun they often mean 2 times as much work when I get home. (The memories created are totally worth it though). 

Happy Wednesday & Carry On!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Island Boost Review

I have always had really hard time with certain gels and they always lead to stomach cramping and heavy stomach feeling after I washed them down with the recommended water.   Back in June I saw Island Boost pop up on twitter feeds and in a few blogs.  Upon researching the company and product (see their FAQ page HERE) I found out two things that peeked my interest: 1) It was not necessary to take Island Boost with water and 2) It supposedly worked quickly so it would no longer be necessary to take it 15 minutes before I needed it.  I was placing an order with REI anyways so I added a few Island Boosts to my cart.
I have been using Island Boost since July as my primary source of fuel for my runs (I say primary because during my ultra training and 50K race I did need actual food like sandwiches, nuts, fruit etc) So here is what I think:

Taste: I can taste the coconut water in all 3 flavors but it is not so over powering that I feel like I am eating/drinking sunscreen. Overall all 3 of the original flavors are good, with Passion being my favorite, and all 3 taste fabulous frozen.

Consistency: This was the biggest surprise, because it really is not sticky or gel like at all, in fact it is a liquid.

Does it live up to it's claims?: YES! Island Boost essentially saved my butt at mile 14 of my 50k when I ran out of water and still had 2.6 miles to go until the next aid station and all I had left was some nut butter and 2 Island Boosts.  I never take it with water and I have never had stomach issues.  I rarely take it "early", and most of the time wait until I am starting to feel a bit fatigued between miles 6-8 (this past weekend I did not take it till almost mile 8.5 and never worried that it would not work fast enough to keep me going).


About a month ago I was contacted by Island Boost and asked if I would be willing to taste test the new Chocolate Flavor, in exchange for my honest review I was provided with 2 packets of Chocolate Island Boost to try and 2 packets of Passion as a thank you (um my favorite!).  While I was provided these free I was never required to give anything but an honest review/feedback.

I used my 1st packet of Island Boost before a 10 mile training run.  The run itself was a disaster, but not because of fuel but because of tired and sore legs that were struggling to get back into road running after the 50k.  I hoarded my 2nd packet in the freezer for last Sunday to use before the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon, because I wanted to give it a good test run before writing a review.

Taste: YUM! I love chocolate however not a big chocolate gel/gu type runner because most of the time it's a bit to heavy or tastes to artificial.  Chocolate Island Boost tastes like chocolate pudding, but with a thinner consistency. (And if frozen would taste like a fudgesicle)

Did it work?: A big YES! I used the Chocolate Island Boost approximately 10 minutes before the start of the race and did not need my 1st Passion Island Boost till mile 8.5, and never ended up using my 2nd Passion Island Boost.  My not so scientific theory is that because the chocolate has a little thicker consistency then the original flavors I felt "full" longer (I'm sure it was a little physiological too).

Did I PR?: NO...BUT I would not say I was racing and had tons of energy left in the tank after.  I will be using Island Boost to train and definitely during my next goal race where I am going to break the 2 hour mark for a 1/2 marathon.

Would I recommend Island Boost to a friend?: YES and have. I will not recommend a product I do not use or a company I do not believe in just because.  I highly doubt I will every use another gel when I run, in fact I still have about 10 packets of my former gels sitting in my fuel basket that have been there for months, yet instead of using them I keep ordering more Island Boost.

Interested in Island Boost check out their website to learn more about them:
Want to order some Island Boost and help get Chocolate Island Boost on the market check out their Indiegogo Campaign:

Want to try Island Boost? Leave me a comment and enter with rafflecopter as to what is one thing you like/dislike about your current fuel source and I will send one lucky winner 2 packets of Passion Island Boost from my stash. (Contest ends Oct 31st 2013, no purchase necessary, etc etc)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Detroit International 1/2 Recap

Yesterday I completed the 2013 Detroit International Half Marathon, that includes the crossing of the Ambassador Bridge and a return to the USA through the underwater tunnel.  While I have ran this race 3 previous times, yesterday was my first Detroit Marathon Day "Experience".  As I wrote about last week I went into this race without a plan, knowing that reaching any PR time goal may still be to much for me as I am still suffering recovering from a few minor aches I picked up during the 50K race/training.  What I did not talk about was the two private goals I had which were to run the entire uphill of both the Ambassador Bridge and the exit of the tunnel.  In my 3 previous attempts I would become winded and at least have to walk part of both.  This was a personal struggle for me, knowing that even though the extra taper weight is still there I needed to prove to myself I was still stronger then ever and it seemed like a fitting goal.  My recap will not include splits or times because I did not know our approximate finish time until less then a mile from the finish, and did not know our splits until late last night when John sent me the Garmin link.  It was a very different experience running a race and looking at the course, not my Garmin, focusing on how I felt and not what the time said.

Eve of the Race: Normally the night before a race I would have been in bed at 9 pm to get a good nights sleep, however the Tigers game did not start till 8 so of course that was not happening.  In fact I enjoyed a nice Mayan Mocha Stout and stayed up well past 11 pm.  That was followed by about 3.5 hours of broken sleep with the littlest needing some vicks and snuggles for a stuffy nose.

3:45 am: Up (b/c sleep wasn't happening) had some coffee, a banana and a Picky Bar, got dressed, packed up and headed out to stop at Tim Horton's for a road coffee (need both the caffeine and warmth) and then headed to our meeting spot to pick up the car pool.

5:15 am: Depart with a van full of runners (Here is a race morning tip: If you shut your lights off while waiting for your friends to arrive, it is always wise to turn them back on before driving even if you are used to the "auto" setting or else a nice Police Officer will stop and remind you)

5:40 am - 6:45 am: Got parked and everyone got on their last minute gear, and we all headed to the Fort Street Church to stay warm, potty breaks and a group photo.
GP Runners ready to run the D! (Photo w/ John Martin's camera taken by random stranger at the church)
6:50 am: One last potty stop and an Island Boost (my hoarded new chocolate flavored one, stay tuned tomorrow for a full review of Island Boost but YUM) and we were off to the starting line.  John (who once again was carrying his camera & got some fun/awesome pics), Val and I had planned to run together since we were out there for fun and no time goal.  We jumped in Corral E, figuring it would be a good place to start and we were with a few other GP Runners.

7:07 am: START TIME!
Starting Line (Photo by John Martin)
Miles 1-3: I felt awesome, I had switched my race outfit at the last minute from a skirt to capris pants and I am glad I did.  The wind was cold and the capris pants kept my legs warm.  It was a nice paced run up Fort Street to the bridge, where we proceeded to make our way up the on ramp for mile 2 and finally onto the bridge by mile 3.  (This is one of the most deceiving parts of the race because you don't just run up the bridge, no you have to run up the on ramp for a mile first and then run up the bridge)

(Photos by John Martin)
Miles 3-4: Up and over the bridge! I did it! Ran the entire up ramp and up the bridge without having to stop and walk!  Focusing on form, shortening my stride and "pulling the rope" with my arms.  It is really an amazing view (even though yesterday's view was accompanied by a cold wind) from the top of the bridge.  You can see the sun rising over Belle Isle, the beautiful fall colors of the trees as you come into Canada,  the Detroit River.  We even saw a few more GP Runners up there!
Coming back down the Ambassador (photo by John Martin)
Miles 4-7: Still feeling great, legs were nice and warm, no shin or hip pain.  I was still very relaxed and I won't lie at a few points I was looking for a clock to see approximately where we were at time wise.  No such luck.  I knew I felt better then my last long run so that was positive and I was having fun enjoying the music, bands, spectators, and the view of Detroit from across the river.

Mile 7-8: The Underwater Tunnel mile.  The dreaded Underwater Tunnel mile in my mind.  It is not a well ventilated mile at all, so upon entering the tunnel I rolled down my arm sleeves.  Even then by the 1/2 mile mark I was starting to sweat so bad.  Using the gloves I had shed about mile 3 I wiped up as much as I could from my neck and face knowing once we exited that would only contribute to chills.  Then it was up the 1/2 mile out of the tunnel, looking forward to the fresh air and the open course again.  As we approached the exit I pulled my arm sleeves back up, because while the fresh air was nice it also can make you really cold really quick.  Goal #2 accomplished! Ran the entire tunnel! Shortened my stride and focused on breathing and next thing you knew we were out of there.

Miles 8-10.5: Included a walk through the water station right outside the tunnel and another Island Boost.  I was in good spirits and crowd support this year was awesome! Cowbells, signs, cheering...IT WAS A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

Miles 10.5 - 13.1: We ran into a training partner who was running her first half marathon.  It was clear (Because I have been in that place before, that "I want to sit down possibly cry and say screw this" place. Last year that was me with that same look, that same struggle, and that same frustration at roughly the same spot)  Being that we had no time goals, John, Val and I fell in next to her.  These last 3 miles are both my most hated and favorite.  I love running through Mexican Village and running past what is left of Tiger Stadium, I love the turn into the homestretch and seeing the finish line.  It is also where for the last 3 attempts I truly wondered if I would finish, and several times included tears.  Really though they were uneventful miles, except for the M&M's around mile 11, that is always one of my favorite spot.  Together we put one foot in front of the other, and reminded me that even though I love my solo runs, why being a part of a group, particularly this group is so important, because if that was me someone would have done the same.  That's the beauty of running with a group, of those early morning runs, those good runs, those bad runs, those relationships that are formed are priceless.
Seconds after we finished (Photo by John Martin's awesome photog friend)
After getting our medals and solar blankets we headed back to the parking lot where we changed.  The parking lot was in a perfect spot for cheering, we were at about mile 25.75 on the Full Marathon course.  As we waiting for "our runners" we stood on the sidelines and offered cheers and high fives to those that past.
GP runners cheering and GP Runners running in some full marathoners, including a 1st timer (Photo by John Martin)
Tailgate party GP Runner Style (Photo w/ John Martin's camera)
We hung out, talked, drank some recovery type beverages and cheered on runners till after 1 p.m.  It was an amazing experience to run the Detroit 1/2 and celebrate with this group on Sunday!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Follow This Mother" Feature

I am excited and honored to be this weeks "Follow This Mother" mother on Another Mother Runner.( I have read both Run Like a Mother and Train Like A Mother by Sarah and Dimity and listen to their podcasts regularly (and always try to convince them they should throw an AMR party in Detroit if they ever come this way). So basically I geeked out when I got the email Monday from Heather one of their writers. (Heather can also be found at When I started blogging I wanted to write (a creative outlet for me) and keep a little journal to look back on, I feared no one would read it but hoped maybe it would influence or inspire at least one person.  Here it is less then a year later and I have been given such an amazing opportunity to tell my story! Thank you so much Dimity, Sarah, Heather and all the Mother Runners who have shared stories and blogged before me that kept me going & inspired me when I was not sure I could juggle running and a family!

Do you have any questions for me that I did not answer on Another Mother Runner? 

*I highly recommend the books Train like a Mother and Run Like a Mother...they are both informative and humorous...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Detroit International Half Marathon Plan

"I'm not making any plans. I'm just going to let the universe surprise me." -John Cusack

YES! That is right, I do not have a plan for the Detroit International Half Marathon I am scheduled to run on October 20th 2013.  Every single race that I have ran up until this one I have had a goal, a plan, a strategy but honestly I have got nothing other then have fun going into next Sundays race.  Normally 10 days prior to an event I have clothing picked out, pace charts, split times, studied the course map, and put all of my fuel and accessories in a little ziploc so I am overly prepared.  This time, not so much. 

So here is what I do not know:
  • What my splits will be or what my predicted finishing time will be.  In fact I will not even have a Garmin on for the race.  Last year I lost signal through the underwater mile and it messed me all up so this year I will sport my Road Id and my "Relentless" Endorphin Warrior bracelet and that is all.
  • What my body will do on race day.  With the up and down runs of the last several weeks, I could wake up with a sore and painful hip or I could wake up and feel great.

So here is what I know:
  • I will finish, and I say this knowing that unless something tragic happens I will finish 13.1 miles. That is a very strange shift in my mind set that has occurred since the 50k and 13.1 was considered a short long run.  Having those longer training runs, I am pretty used to a fueling plan of Island Boost right before and again at 6 or 7 miles and I can easily make it to 13.1, even though I will carry an extra one just in case.  Running early I am also pretty used to my pre race "breakfast" of a banana, Picky Bar, coffee and 24 oz of Nuun.  No need to plan there anymore since it's become second nature.
  • I will get the same medal if I finish sub 2 (which is highly unlikely given my difficulty returning to speed after the 50k) or 2:30.  (I do however want to finish closer to the 2 ish side knowing I have friends about to crush the full and I want to get to the sidelines, change out of my stinky running clothes and be ready to cheer for them.)
  • I have enough running clothes and shoes that I will be able to dress appropriately whatever the temperature is race morning.  And if all else fails I will go to my basic running "outfit"-Under Armor black tank, Moving Comfort black capris, Brooks black PR Skort, Saucony's new armwarmers with built in mittens, a pair of Pro Compression Socks and more then likely my Kinvara 4 since they are lighter then the Ride 6's.
  • I will have fun! This will be my 4th time running this course and the three previous times I was so focused on or struggling to finish I forgot to enjoy the experience. That is not going to happen this time, I will slow down at the top of the Ambassador Bridge to enjoy the sunrise, take in the spectators on the Canadian side and enjoy the beauty of the Detroit from the other side of the River.  I will take the time to high five the customs agents who not only are keeping us safe but cheering us on.  Since I do not plan on running this race again next year I want to run this year for the experience.
  • I will not stress or have anxiety about the race, now that does not mean I will not be getting excitement butterflies but I refuse to let myself stress about little "what ifs" and seconds/minutes.
  • I am very excited for this race, I cannot wait to see friends cross the finish line of their first 13.1 or 26.2 and celebrate their accomplishments with them!
  • I am enough! A number on a clock does not define me as a person or a runner, it does not define the handwork and miles I have put in over the last year.  I have ran farther and faster then I ever thought possible since the Detroit 1/2 Marathon in 2012 and I could not be happier with how strong I have become. (Thanks to Brene Brown and her books Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfections for some eye opening aha moments this last year)
See you at the starting line...

Have you ever raced without a plan?  Have you ever just let go to see what you could do?  If so how did it go?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ultra Recovery

It has been just over a month since I finished the Woodstock 50K and am pretty close to a complete recovery.  I say pretty close because I still have a tiny pain near my shin that appeared a few months before Woodstock and still shows up before and after runs.  It goes away while running and when I am diligent with the muscle rolling.  The two weeks following the ultra I was still on an emotional high and things seemed awesome.  However these last two weeks have been difficult.  Without another large race until next August I feel a bit lost when it comes to training.  I have also realized that the two week taper before and two week reverse taper after have not been so kind to my waist line.  Gaining 10lbs in a month because my appetite forgot that my body was not running as much is "tough to swallow".  This has not helped my mood, which in turn means I run for the peanut butter instead of the carrots.

There are two problems that really bother me.  The first is that I have doubted my ability to complete a 50 miler.  While this doubt has only creeped in a few times, it has made itself known.  While reviewing the training plan for next year I see that the 50 miler is only three weeks after a 50K training run. WHAT! There is no possible way I could have done that after Woodstock.  Maybe that is why I did not attempt it after Woodstock though, I knew I was not ready and did not want to over reach.  This doubt was enough to scare me and send me into a little panic, creating a 40 week training plan.  Can we say OVERKILL!?!?!? I have 11 months, that is plenty of time to take myself from 50k ready to 50 mile ready.  I really just need to relax and have started looking into coaching services to possibly help me out with some of the training and preparing.  The second problem is my road pace.  For the love of all things it takes everything I have to run a long run at a 9:09 pace which I could easily do back in May.  After talking with Justin at RUNDetroit this weekend it sounds like this is pretty normal, since I have been training to go long distances, walk up hills, etc. instead of the speed work and quick turnover.  This really made me think about the importance of keeping speed work or tempo runs a part of my training plan next time.  I wonder if that would help me maintain some of that speed?  I also would still like to crush a 2 hour 1/2 Marathon in the near future (planning on this goal for Rock CF in March), so I think speed work and tempos are a must.

Anyways I am taking the week off from running and just sticking to some Jillian Michaels and the elliptical.  Then it's a few short runs and my 4th Detroit International 1/2 Marathon!

How do you recover from a race?  Do you ever take time off from running?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

For the Love of Trail Running...

The good people over at are giving away an Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (which I have been eyeing) and all I have to do is write in 400 words or less why I love trail/ultra running. So without wasting anymore words here is why I love trail and ultra running and the community that goes along with it:


  • Training for my first 50k was tough, but I have never had so much fun running in my life, even when I was beyond exhausted.


  • The ultra running community is filled with a tremendous amount of resepect for not only the trails & terrain they run but for each other including the newbies like me.


  •  Different trails, routes, locations and distances


  • As a whole the community and the sport is interesting which makes it even more fun to explore and to get to know other runners and hear their stories.


  • Allows a person to find their limits and surpass them.

Aid Stations:

  • The aid stations at ultra races are so much better then just gels and a sports drink!


  • So beautiful and peaceful when you explore nature on foot.


  • What I once had viewed as the ultimate failure (pre ultra running) I now see as a learning experience and proof of how bad ass these trail & ultra runners are every time they get back out there and attempt it all over again.

Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest:

  • Shameless plea to pick me...I am in need of a better vest (one that has both a bladder and water bottles) for longer unsupported training runs.

Laughs and friendship: 

  • Friends I have made and memories that include some really good laughs will last a lifetime.

Teach & Share:

  • I have learned a great deal in the last 7 months from seasoned (and even new) trail and ultra runners.  It is a pretty awesome community of people who want others to succeed as well.


  • The time on the trails has allowed me to really reflect on life, what is important, and who I am.  It has allowed me to discover my own strength but at the same time to reflect on the beauty of the world in which we live.


  • Trail & Ultra running is just plain amazing! If you do not believe me try it for yourself!

Early spring run at a local trail

Morning sunrise from the woods

Welcoming the rain during my 50k (it was starting to get HOT!)

My 1st 50k finish

Inspiration for my 50k finish picture?

Local trail scenery

I "blame" them for getting me into ultra running

Smiles after miles and medals

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How I Trained For Run Woodstock Freak 50K

I started training for Run Woodstock on June 3rd, so basically I had 14 weeks to take myself from 1/2 Marathon shape to 50k shape/endurance.  Most plans recommend that you have already been training/complete training for a marathon before jumping into a 50k, well I figured if I was going long at Run Woodstock I would go the extra 5 miles and get the aid stations with the better food. (I do not recommend this for everyone and before beginning any exercise program consult your doctor/health care professional)  John (my pacer for Run Woodstock) shared the training plan he used for his 50k in April that looked something like this:

(Not sure where it originally came from, it was forwarded to me if you know the original source please let me know so I can link it-Thank you!)
I then combined that plan with the 50k training plan I found on (Click here for the plan).  I liked that the Competitor one had not only mile goals but also time goals for certain runs:

Especially on the second long run of the week the time worked out better because I did not get discourage when my pace was so much slower then normal on heavy legs.

For the most part I stuck to my plans and did the running portion.  My longest run was a 24 miler, and I substituted one of the 20+ runs for my 23 miles at Red Eye Relay.

What worked:

  • 3 Week Taper: I ended up tapering for 3 weeks.  While this may not be ideal it is how life worked out and all I could get in those last 3 weeks.  I think it worked out for the best because my exhausted legs had plenty of rest and were ready to go on race day. (Maybe there is something to be said about being undertrained and rested then overtrained and exhausted for a race.  Even though I did not feel undertrained, I did worry a bit that 3 lower milage weeks was to many)
  • Previewing the course: I was able to run the actual course two times.  This was nice since I was able to get a feel for the hills, terrain, and what to expect.  
  • Long runs/Back to Back Runs/Tired legs: This part of training seemed essential to me because I became familiar with the exhaustion I would feel around mile 25/26 during the actual race.  I learned to listen to my body, walk when I needed to a run when I could.  I also became comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling I would experience in my legs and with my body.
  • Ditched the Garmin/Pace:  I often times threw my Garmin in my Camelbak or covered it with a sticker or left it at home.  I had been so time focused for so long I noticed the first few weeks I would get discouraged if my pace was not fast enough.  Being discouraged and thinking that I was not enough was the last thing I needed when I was heading out for a long run so I took pace right out of the picture when I could.
  • Different shoes: I had read an article a while back about running shoes and it talked about how heavier shoes were better for recovery runs because they actually slowed down your pace.  Makes sense, so when I was running on the road I would wear my lighter Saucony Kinvara 4's for runs less then 7 miles and would wear my heavier Saucony Ride 6's for longer runs.  This actually worked out really well, for my shorter runs I was able to turn over faster because my shoes were much lighter.
  • Believe I Am Training Journal: I started using this journal with a month left in my training and it worked out fantastic.  It helped me set goals, see the week & month ahead and a place to create a visual page/quote collage.  It helped with the mental aspect of training and the race itself, I knew that if I ever let doubt enter my mind my chances of finishing would decrease.
  • Reading and Learning:  I read everything and anything I could get my hands on about 50k's and Ultrarunning.  I read blogs and forums, participated in Ultrachat, listened to podcasts.  Anything and everything so I felt like I had not only the inspiration of all the people that had done it before me but also a little bit of an idea of what I may face or would experience throughout the race. 

What I would add/change: 

  • Core & Strength: I definitely will be adding this to the schedule for this winter/upcoming season.  I know I say that every time I start a new plan but honestly I will be adding this!
  • Hills & Speed: I focused so much on being able to run for a long period of time I did not add these on a regular basis.  Training for the 50 miler I will be adding both because I know they would have helped tremendously this time.
  • For the 50 Miler I will be using the lower milage plan from the book Relentless Forward Progress, it still has some decent milage weeks but it a little more doable with a husband and 3 kids.
  • Nutrition: My nutrition sucked for the majority of my training, I definitely need to get it back under control like before our trip to Hawaii when sugar was kept to a minimum as was junk food.

What was something you learned, something that worked or something that you would change from your last training cycle?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Run Woodstock Freak 50K Recap

I did it! I completed a 50k (31.06 miles for our non metric loving friends) this past Saturday in Hell, MI.  The race was called the Freak 50K and was put on by Running Fit as part of the Run Woodstock weekend.  Let's see if I can recap this without using the words "awesome" or "amazing" to many times.

Friday Night:

The races all start at Hells Creek Campground and all of the campsites are taken over by runners, volunteers, and their families.  Honestly I am not a fan of camping normally and the night before my first 50k I definitely did not want to risk not getting enough sleep.  Before checking into our hotel room in Brighton we (The Husband, the Oldest kid and I) swung by the campground, picked up my race packet, found a few friends, said hello and watched some 100 milers and 100k racers come through the aid station.  We did not stick around long since I was already getting tired, we stopped at Firehouse Subs on the way to the hotel, and relaxed while watching the Tigers before I called it a night at around 9 pm.

Race Day:

3:40 am - Up bright and early to take a quick shower, get last minute things together and get the Husband and Oldest on the road early enough that we had time for a Tim Hortons stop. (The 20 min drive was much better then the would be hour and a half drive from our home)

5:30 am - We made it to Hells Creek with enough time to park, use the port o johns one last time, snap a picture at the start and get lined up.  I was anxious, ready for it to start and looking around looking for the few other people I knew were running the 50k/50m. (This was a lost cause since it was dark and difficult to see anything)

At the start with the husband & oldest

6:00 am - After race director Randy said a few things we were off, I waved to the husband and oldest as I passed them, took a tour around the campsite before hitting the trail where I saw the friendly face of one of my running buddies from Red Eye and into the woods for 16ish miles I went.  The plan was to run the first loop solo, carry my own food and have enough water in my camelbak to last me between the aid stations. 
 Miles 0-4: It was dark, so it helped me go out slow because I was so worried about tripping. I was glad I had a head lamp since there were many runners who had nothing.  I chatted with two runners from Baltimore and enjoyed the beauty of the sunrise in the woods.  As we approached the first aid station we started to see 100m/100k runners on a return loop back to the creek.  It was inspiring to watch these men and women who had been up all night running these trails in the dark.  I stopped briefly at the aid station to put away my headlamp and to drink some water to wash down the Picky Bar I had eaten. I opened my Honey Stinger chews so I could easily eat a few between the next aid station.  I was trying really hard to eat early and often.

The sun starting to illuminate the trails

Miles 4-8.5: These were pretty uneventful miles.  I continued to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the scenery.  Several times throughout the day I would find myself in a group with other runners.  This was nice because I was able to find a rhythm with them.  I ate about 1/2 a package of chews and an Island Boost during these 4.5 miles, then had a 1/4 of a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich at the aid station.  As much as I was trying to eat, I was not hungry.

Miles 8.5 - 12: On our way back to the aid Station Grace the 50k was given a "short cut" (turns out I am not sure how much shorter this made our course but it is a trail so I figured it would have been a little off).  This stretch was mostly run on Kelly Rd. and the rolling hills of the gravel road.  Met another female runner from Michigan and ran a few miles with her as we had the basic "where ya from, first race, how ya feeling", chat.  I remember thinking "Wow the miles seem to be going by quickly", breaking the race down into aid stations was a good way for me to view it.  It became less overwhelming and broke everything down into 4 mile segments (and I can run 4 miles!).

The 50k "short cut"
Miles 12-16ish: Got a little "rough", I was trying to pace myself enough that I had energy but knew I was on the last stretch before I saw family and friends.  It did not help that at a few points we were sharing the same path with the half marathoners and the full marathoners and sharing the trail got tricky on the single track with many of them actually running while most of the Ultrarunners were walking hills & conserving energy.  About mile 14 I ran out of water/Nuun in my Camelbak, thankfully I had forgotten to eat the other 2 Island Boosts I packed earlier in the loop so I was able to drink those down (unlike most gels you do not need to wash it down with water) and make it to the end of loop 1.  From the time I started I never felt like I would not finish the race but as we got closer and closer to the end of the first loop I knew for sure I would.  I was feeling good, I felt like I had played it safe enough that I had enough energy to get me to the finish.  I did however start to worry about my stomach, I had not eaten everything in my pack (I had packed enough so that if I ate everything I would have taken in a sufficient amount of carbs/calories) and knew I had not eaten any "extras" at the aid stations, however I felt bloated & full.
Just a pretty view during the last 4

One of my favorite parts of Poto (notice the pink flag on the right-well marked course)
When I came through to finish the first loop I saw John right as I came out of the woods, then saw Rachel & Erz.  It took me a minute to realize the Husband and Oldest were with them too (they originally had said they were setting up camp near the registration tent so I was still "looking" for them ahead).  I was a bit overwhelmed, knowing that I was halfway done, that I still felt good, that people were there to cheer me on.  I changed my shirt, used the port o johns, refilled my camelbak bladder, ate a Honeystinger Waffle, chatted, hugged and off I went into the woods again.
Goofy face-but really so happy to be coming into the loop and seeing friends and family (Photo credit to John)
Look it's Erz and Rach! GP Runners who came out to cheer! (Photo credit to John)
Miles 16ish -20: I turned on my Iphone for these miles and listened to some music on speaker.  I was not down, but starting to feel tired and my hip was aching, so I figured I a little music would help.  I also met two other runners during this time, one who had dropped from the 100m to the 100k after a rough night and a police officer from Ohio who was running the 50m.  Meeting people on the trails was nice, especially during these last 4 solo miles.  

Miles 20-28: Picked up my friend/pacer John at the 20 mile aid station.  I exchanged the Camelbak for an Amphipod Hydraform Handheld and grabbed a package of chews out of my drop bag the Husband was carrying. (I used a Victory Sportdesign Bear II and can I just say this bag was AWESOME! Kept everything organized and easy to find at the aid stations)
Victory Sportdesign Bear II drop bag
Because I would see the Husband again at Mile 28, I did not carry much with me and refilled my handheld at the aid stations.  Having a friend with me was nice because there was always someone to talk to when I need to talk and also he brought his little camera so I had a personal photographer.

Why yes it is a photo op! (Selfie credit to John)
The part of this stretch that was on the Potawatomi Trail was rough, mostly due to the mountain bike club that hosted a ride on Saturday.  I am pretty understanding about sharing the trail but 90% off the riders were going extremely fast and refusing to move for runners.  Luckily I still had enough sense and control to move on the side, however this was pretty dangerous for those that had been out there longer, just moving forward was starting to get tough for some of the 100k/100m I was meeting out there.

Oh hey look a Mt Biker going about 30 mph with delusional 100m runner on the course! (Photo credit to John)
I felt like while I was in good spirits and having fun out there, I was struggling.  My left hip and hamstring were bothering me, my stomach was still very full feeling and I knew at this point had not eaten enough solid food, but of course had no desire to eat.  I ran when I could and walked when I needed to at this point.  I was slowly crossing aid stations off my list (not an actual list the one in my head), and I am so glad I broke the race down like that because it really became manageable for me.  I also remember thinking just keep moving forward, you will get there.  During this stretch I had stumbled a few times, never actually falling but that was a sign my legs were getting heavy.  Once getting to the "Grace" aid station for the last time I sat down and the Husband stretched out my hamstring while I forced down another Picky Bar.  My oldest was a trooper still cheering but had found some bugs and ants to keep him busy.  I refilled my handheld with some water and threw in a NUUN tablet and off John and I went for the last 4 miles.
At mile 28-I know beware of the chair but I needed to stretch my hamstring it was killing me! (Photo credit to John)
Miles 28ish - Finish: It was starting to get warm so when the sky opened up somewhere around mile 28/29 it was refreshing and I literally welcomed it with open arms! 
Me celebrating the rain mile 28-29  (Photo credit to John)
Yeah there were some "rolling hills" on the last 4.  Most of the last 4 was walking, I tried to run but it was hard and did not seem much faster then my walking pace.  A few times John ran in front of me so I had someone to "chase" as opposed to me leading and him just making sure I did not sit down.
Well that hill sucked (Photo credit to John)
Elevation Chart from the course
Since the rain had gotten the sticker I was wearing on my Garmin wet, it had fallen off and once I saw the milage read 31 I was getting both antsy and annoyed (because I wanted to be sitting down and enjoying my accomplishment)  There was one small aid station with water and Gatorade and John noticed a sign saying .8 miles to the finish.  Ok .8 miles, I can run that, the closer we got and the louder the music got the faster I would start running when the ground was "flat".  Once I hit the opening in the woods I started an all out sprint (average pace for that .10 of a mile was 7:29), I seriously felt like I was flying.  Tears started well before the finish line, and I was so happy/excited/proud/felt so strong it really was overwhelming.
Crossing the finish line (Photo credit to the Husband)
Hug from the husband (Photo credit to John)
This is me SO happy as I finished and got my medal (Photo credit to John)
I can honestly say that crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I have ever had.  If you would have asked me a year ago if I had the heart, motivation, strength or even the mental toughness to complete a 50k, I would have laughed and responded with a "Hell No!" Honestly I had no interest up until last April to even run one and Ultra.  John had asked me while we were on the course if I would have ever done this if he had not done it first.  Honestly, no.  Not because I wanted to compete with him or do what he did, but when I joined him for those training runs and then for the Ultra back in April I fell in love with the trails.  I had run Stony Creek trails before but never ventured out much further, I was always intimidated by the trails, fearful of getting lost or getting injured.  However what I found was a place of peace and quiet, a place where I felt empowered and confident.  I fell in love with the beauty of the woods, with going out and running for hours like Katniss in the Hunger Games (except not being chased).  

Overall this was an awesome experience for me.  The race itself was well run, course was marked nicely and the medals are pretty sweet too.  Leading up to the race Running Fit had hosted two training runs at Hells Creek which was a great chance to preview the course and have a feel for it. (This helped me tremendously because I knew what was coming up for the most part, so I was able to run/walk etc). The aid stations seemed to be running out of certain things like coke and coffee by the second loop, but if you were not to picky they had plenty of other options.  My only complaint was the mountain bikers, but that was out of Running Fit's control.  Would I run this again?  Definitely! It was a great course for my first 50k, not sure I could handle the loop anymore though, when the time comes to do a 100 miler I will be looking for a bigger loop.  So that probably answers your next question of will I run another Ultra? Yes! I have the North Country 50 miler next August and will more then likely find a 50k sometime earlier in the year if I cannot make the Trail Marathon/50K Running Fit hosts in April.

2 first time 1/2 Marathoners, 1 full marathoner, 1 bad ass pacer and Me (Photo credit to the husband)

The 50K finish is my greatest running accomplishment to date.  What is one running accomplishment you are most proud of? Have you ever done a trail ultra? Do you want to?