‘Twas the Night Before the 50k

50k eve

 

‘Twas the night before the 50k, when all through the house

All the anxieties were stirring, the heart fluttered most.

All the race gear was laid out by the bedside with care

In hopes that over-preparation would help just a hair.

The runners were nestled, restlessly stirring in their beds

While visions of DNF’s floated through their heads.

I, in a fit of agitation, and my spouse at a safe distance

Had settled into bed at 7, per my insistence.

The alarm was set 6 hours too early

For rushing in the morning would certainly make me surly.

Stomachs rumbled with threats of GI issues

And I quickly arose to pack more tissues.

For a trail race could lead to some awkward bathroom trips

They say, ‘never trust a fart,’ but you can’t always help what slips.

At last the final thought left the exhausted runner’s head

And race day quickly came with a mix of joy and dread.

After 18 weeks of preparation and training,

It’s just 7.75×4, how’s that for some reframing?

 

 

 

Streaking

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In all my years of running, I have never completed a run streak. It’s never had an appeal to me. Hell, I hate to admit it, but I like rest day. So no rest days for xxx amount of days/months/years?! WHY.

I’ve read stories where people have streaks going for decades. Literally, running at least one mile every day for more than 30 years. They have great stories about how they are forced to creatively get those miles in. One guy reported that he ran 2 miles in a row; the first mile started at 11:50PM and the second mile ended at 12:10AM. And just like that, two days are knocked out in the span of 20 minutes. Genius.

Of course, I’m not one to stay up until midnight. I prefer to be in bed by 8:30. Well here I am, about to step outside of my comfort zone and run everyday for a month. As an Ambassador for the incredible organization, Still I Run – Runners for Mental Health Awareness, I am joining their challenge to streak for the entire month of May. Now, this particular challenge states that individuals can either walk or run at least one mile daily. Due to the nature of my job, though, I walk several miles daily. I will not be counting those miles, as that does not seem fair (hence this being a challenge).

I’m hoping that none of my runs take place after my usual bedtime, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice for a month. The challenge has three different participation levels; ‘free,’ ‘regular,’ and ‘bonus.’ The free challenge invites runners to join the Facebook group and post about their daily mileage. The regular challenge costs $10, and participants receive a Still I Run bracelet and custom ‘Mental Health Road Warrior’ race bib. The bonus challenge is $25 and participants receive the items from the ‘regular challenge’ in addition to custom BibBoard Fasteners.

Money raised through the challenge goes back to Still I Run to fund events, other challenges, and mental health awareness educational material. Win win! So clearly, you all need to join me on this challenge and run or walk one mile everyday in May! (And hey, the weather is bound to be better than it was in April, am I right?)

 

Peak Week

Peak Week - Run Leelanau
Good Harbor at sunset after running 26.2

“It’s not 26.2 miles, it’s 6.55 x4,” I told myself going into Sunday’s long run. My training schedule called for a 26-miler, but what kind of distance runner stops at 26 and leaves the .2 hanging? Seems like bad luck.

Last week was “Peak Week” in my 18-week ultra training plan. This plan has me maxing out at 26 miles in preparation for the 50k. I suppose this makes sense, as most marathon training plans I have completed max out around 16-20 miles.  (Though before my first marathon, I ran 26.2 two times to make sure I could do it. I’m not obsessive or anything…)

So now? I taper. At the time I’m writing this, I ran the 26.2 yesterday. That means I’m prettyyyyy excited to taper since I feel a bit fatigued. I ran 3.5 recovery miles this morning. And by ‘ran,’ I mean hobbled. But I know as soon as the tightness of my muscles fades away, this taper will make me antsy. But hey, isn’t that the point? Isn’t the taper supposed to get me so eager to run that I’m ecstatic when race day comes?

I still have a couple of 10-13 milers left, so I won’t be completely deprived of long runs. I’m hoping I can complete more of my mileage on trails in these remaining weeks. My ultra is a trail race and I am sad to say I did not spend as much time training on the trails as I would have liked. The snow and ice really deterred that. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out where the trail was and got hopelessly lost. Other times the snow was deeper than my knees to a point where I didn’t feel like that would be quality running. And lately, the snow has been hard-packed into ridges where it’s too dangerous to try and run on it. So, this trail ultra will likely completely kick my ass.

My Sunday marathon felt pretty darn good though, which surprised me. I recently discovered Spring Energy and it’s an incredible fuel. I have the sampler pack, so I was stocked with on-the-go fuel and electrolytes. I continue to use Generation UCAN as well, so the combination of both of those with some salt tablets helped me stay energized throughout my run. The most important thing I have learned with distance running is the importance of fueling before you feel like you need to. I take a swig of UCAN or half a packet of Spring Energy every three miles. It may seem excessive, but it’s what works for me.

I finished the long run in 4:04:46. Given that my marathon PR in a race is 3:58, I was quite impressed with my time. I ran the majority of this on hard-packed dirt roads – it was as trail-like as the conditions would allow for the day. So do I feel ready for this ultra? Kind-of. But I feel that way going into every big race. Like they say, trust your training and just have fun. And most importantly, it’s not 31 miles, it’s 7.75 x4.

Spring Fever

You’re lying to my face if you tell me you don’t have just a little bit of spring fever right now. As a winter enthusiast, I greatly appreciate all four seasons in our beautiful mitten. Who doesn’t love the beauty of a fresh snow fall and the way it makes road running less impactful on our old knees and bodies? Plus, as someone who sweats more than the average person, the colder air definitely helps to tone down the perspiration.

However, on February 20th, we experienced a sunny, 57 degree day. It was glorious. And it was a great reminder of what it feels like to go outside without being in pain (winter winds are harsh!) and it got me just a wee bit excited for spring.

Not only is spring the beginning of warmer weather and fewer layers, but it is the unofficial start to the race season! A few races that I refuse to miss this spring and summer include:

Traverse City Trail Running Festival – April, 27-28, 2018. This race is a great weekend extravaganza! I’m running the 50k this year for my first ultra, but the 10k relay is so much fun!

Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5k – June 16, 2018. Running up Inspiration Point is the perfect way to kick off summer, duhhh .

Friends of Fishtown 5k – July 21, 2018 – This is a great race! It starts and ends in the heart of Fishtown and the hills in between are sneaky challenging. Pro tip: Get a sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty after.

Port Oneida Run – August 4, 2018. Choose between the 10k, 5k, and 4 mile race. The 10k is my distance of choice in this race. It is challenging, but takes you on the beach, through the woods, and all over Sleeping Bear’s beauty.

Spring Fever - Run Leelanau
Oooh summer races are coming!

The Dune Dash 4 Mile Race – Date still TBD, but last year it was held in mid-August. I love this race! It starts and ends at the famous Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. Check out my recap here.

Vineyard to Bay 15k – September 2, 2018. With a new distance this year! Historically it has been a 25k, 5k, and 25k relay. This is the first year that it is being run as a 15k. I can’t wait to see what the new course brings! My recap of the 25k can be found here.

Don’t fret, friends, spring is near. And pretty soon I’ll be complaining about running in the glaring sun and humidity, ha! What races do you plan to run this spring and summer? Are there any that I didn’t mention that I need to do?

 

 

 

 

Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018

Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018 - Run Leelanau
Each season makes the trails seem like a whole new place to explore

I own the book ‘Trails of M22.’ It details 40 different trails along M22 and makes me positively giddy. (PS You can pick up your own copy through the Leelanau Conservancy)

People frequently ask me about trails in Leelanau County. They like to know what are the best trails for running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc. People like to know the distance of each trail, whether they are good for winter running, if they have bathrooms at the trail head, and so many more questions that I fall short of answering.

In 2018, I will be putting together a Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners. You see, ‘Trails of M22’ is a great book for locating the trails, however, it leaves many questions unanswered. Believe it or not, I’m a planner; Type A personality to the max. So I need to know exactly what I’m getting myself into for a trail run.

As a runner, these are the things I want to know about a trail prior to running it:

  1. Is there a bathroom at the trail head?
  2. Is there a place for me to change into my running clothes?
  3. Is it well-marked or will I run in circles and get lost?
  4. What are the distance options of the trails?
  5. Is it hilly? Lots of roots to look out for?
  6. What are the highlights of the trail? Scenic overlook?
  7. Is this trail used year round?
  8. Can people hunt on this property?

Those are my questions, but I bet there are more out there from fellow runners.

I need some help from you fine folks!

What kind of information do you want to know about trails before you run them? I’m happy to do the brutal work of exploring each trail (cough cough), but let me know if there is something specific you need to know and I will fully investigate.

Feliz 2018 and happy running!

 

Hey, Ultra, I’m Coming for You

There was a time (not so long ago, in fact), where I thought running a 10k was impossible. (Someday I’ll share with you all what it was like for me to train for my first 10k, I thought I was going to die.)

Fast forward 6.5 years and I have completed seven marathons and more 10k’s and half marathons than I’ve kept track of. I love the marathon. (It is easy for me to say this right now, my last one was in May – I’ve safely distanced myself from the pain and repressed the memories.) I have many lofty goals for my running self, one of which is completing a trail ultra. (Another running goal includes the illusive BQ, but one thing at a time.)

Starting December 18th, I’ll be completing an 18-week training plan to run Endurance Evolution‘s Traverse City Trail Festival’s 50k. At the date of this publication, the date of that is still TBD (Come onnnnn, Endurance Evolution, don’t you know how impatient I am?!) However, in the past, this race has been run the 4th weekend of April. So I’ve created my training plan in hopes that will be the case in 2018 as well.

Hey, Ultra, I'm Coming For You - Run Leelanau
December 18th. “Patiently” waiting.

For training plans, I have a habit of finding one I like online and then manipulating it to fit my schedule, fitness level, and environment. I also don’t plan what I’m going to do each specific day – that just never works for me. Because life, ya know? So I write down all the workouts I’m supposed to do in a week and then evaluate what each week looks like and when I can do which workout. Because sometimes, it just doesn’t work out to complete a long run on Sunday (brunching and mimosas have a strong pull).

Week one is as follows:

‘Long’ 8 mile run

Easy Run or Cross training + Strength training

45 minutes of hills and trails

Cross training + strength training

45-60 minutes easy run + strength training

Rest

1 hour medium effort run


You’ll notice that the runs include “easy” or “medium” effort instead of pacing times. As this is my first trail ultra, I’m not concerned about time and will feel out my pace. My training program also includes more strength training than any plan I’ve come across. However, I’ve found that weight training is crucial for injury prevention (and it’s nice to have some indoor workouts in the winter). For accountability purposes, I’ll check-in weekly with my progress.

If anyone has any pointers for moving up from the marathon to an ultra (especially a trail ultra!) I’d love to hear them.

Hey, Ultra, I'm Coming For You - Run Leelanau
Winter trail running is a whole new world

Cheers, friends! Happy winter running!