Surviving Second Winter

Surviving Second Winter - Run Leelanau
Those winter sunrises, though

Most people I encounter in Northern Michigan enjoy winter. They find ways to embrace it, think the freshly fallen snow is beautiful, and root for a white Christmas. However, come March, many of us sing a different tune. The end of February/beginning of March this year was glorious. There was sunshine and temperatures in the high 50’s. The snow was melting and the Yak Trax were pushed aside.

But then, second winter arrived. Second winter is the season that comes after that lovely, teasing warm-up – usually in March. March is the month of hope. The first day of spring comes and Michiganders warily let themselves feel a tiny bit of excitement for beaches, gardening, and fewer layers. Yet, winter always makes a comeback and we all know it’s going to happen every year. However, knowing it will happen does not necessarily make it more pleasant. Here are some tips I have for surviving second winter:

  1. Continue to embrace it. Get outside, run in it, play in it, hike in it. Remember how excited you were for the first snowfall of the season?
  2. Start planning your spring projects. Start your seedlings inside and map out your garden. My husband and I got chickens for the first time! We just picked up our baby chicks and they are happily hanging out inside under a heat lamp. This is definitely a sign of spring.
  3. Don’t put away your winter gear just yet. It’s very painful to have to dig it back out.
  4. Hold onto hope. Spring and summer will come! They always do.

Sadly, I only have four tips. My enthusiasm for winter is quickly waning now that it is the middle of March. On the bright side, second winter makes the beginning of spring that much sweeter. Since my tips are few and far between, send me yours! I’d love to know how you guys are dealing with the end of winter.

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k - Run Leelanau
Hoping for another FROZEN event this year

If you want to complete a race that will make you feel like a winter fanatic, look no further than the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k. This is hands down my favorite winter 5k. Only the hearty get out and race on the shores of Lake Michigan in the middle of February – and as it would turn out, there are a lot of hearty Northern Michigan runners.

Runners get shuttled from Frankfort’s Main Street to the top of Elberta’s scenic overlook. If you’re brave enough to turn your face toward the whipping winds of Lake Michigan, you’re in for a fantastic view. Runners then head down the hill and keep along the Betsie Bay, heading right back into Frankfort. Given that this race starts on a downhill and then is 100% flat after, it’s a great race to PR. Finishing fast is extra good in this scenario, because the shores of Lake Michigan are not particularly warm in February.

So I’ve discussed the awesomeness that is the actual race itself, however, the post-race giveaways are absolutely insane. The directors of the race do an incredible job of getting sponsors involved. The community completely backs this event and their support is very clear. Tremendous giveaways include gift cards to local establishments, baskets stocked full with useful and delicious items, as well as local attire that people actually want to wear.

If you’ve never done this race, I insist that you join me on Saturday, February 17th. Dress warm, make the mad dash through Elberta and Frankfort, then celebrate total winter badassery.


Running by ‘Effort’

Running by Effort - Run Leelanau
Yak Trax are required for optimal “medium effort” in these conditions

Every training plan I have followed sets up each run by pace: an easy run should be completed at a 10:00 minute per mile pace, speed work should be completed at a 7:15 pace, etc. My 50k training plan is not set up this way. With this plan, my runs are completed by “effort.”

On tap for today, I have a “one hour medium effort run.” As this is new way for me t train, I find it weird. I also do not find it consistent. “Medium effort” for me changes daily. My best “medium effort” is after 8 hours of sleep, maintaining proper nutrition, and tolerable weather conditions. Today’s medium effort run will not be optimal medium effort. I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night, drank 2 beers yesterday, and ate a Twix bar (not sorry about that). Not to mention, the roads are covered in ice and the wind is exceptionally gusty today.

Though my effort level will still feel “medium,” I am willing to bet my pace will be slower than if I was well-rested and nourished, running on dry roads. So I question, is it better to run by specific pace or on effort? What is the benefit of running by effort? It seems easier to me, almost like a cop-out. I can easily convince myself that I’m running at a medium effort. But with paced runs, there’s no cheating. Either you are on pace or you aren’t.

I suppose that since I do not have a time goal for my first 50k, running on effort is just fine. With this race and its training, I care most about getting the miles in. However, I don’t think I would use a training plan that utilized effort level over pace if I was training for a specific time in a race.

What are your thoughts about “effort training” over training with specific paces? How does this work out for you when race day comes?

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!


Don’t Start a Training Program the Week Before Christmas

Don't Start a Training Program the Week Before Christmas - Run Leelanau
Trying not to poke my eye out during winter training

Look how behind I am at updating you guys on my 50k training. Week one has passed and we are well into week 2 now. I started this blogpost with a day-by-day recap of what I did and how it went, but then it got obnoxiously lengthy, and who really cares about every tedious detail? I’ll save that thrilling report for my gracious husband.

Instead of filling you in on every dirty detail, let me tell you what I learned this week. I learned that is it NOT ideal to start a training program the week before Christmas. Maybe some people can successfully do so, but I’m not the champion of the world. Also, A) I was sick with some sort of sinus nonsense B) I had not done any holiday shopping yet C) I work full time + had 26 hours of on-call scheduled this week and D) I had to dedicate one evening to celebrating your father’s birthday. AHHH

Let’s just say I am patting myself on the back because I completed my long run, my hilly run, and “medium effort” run. (Though “medium effort” is very relative to how I was feeling with my sinuses in the state they were.) I also got two strength training days in at the gym. My hill runs are supposed to be on trails, and I fell short there. I opted to run the road hills near my home because I didn’t have extra time to get over to a trail to do the right thing. Ping! Hopefully I’ll be better this week.

The most notable run on tap for this week is a 10-miler. I’m a-ok with keeping it short because this week’s forecast does not enter double digits. Today we have a balmy 4 degrees with a -13 windchill. Of course I’ll boss up and complete the runs, but one just may be on a treadmill this week.

However, if I can handle completing my training runs on a hectic week like this, it gives me hope in carrying out the rest of my training runs, no matter what my schedule looks like. It can only get easier, right? (As I stare begrudgingly at future 20+ mile runs…)

Stay warm, friends!

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


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!


Finter - Run Leelanau
The only place you can find colors in Finter is on the ground

Traditionally, Michigan is fractioned into four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Well I’m here to tell you that is false. For every season, there is a transition season that divides them. Right now, we are between fall and winter. Call it Finter, if you will. I love fall running and I love winter running. But Finter running? Meh.

The fall colors have long disappeared and the lovely white snow has yet to fall and stick. The sun doesn’t shine and daylight is limited to the hours of 8am-5pm. Finter is truly the definition of bleh.

Aside from Finter, Michigan has Wing (winter transitioning to spring, obvs). Wing is pretty similar in appearance to Finter. Wing is slightly muddier, though. The transition periods from spring to summer and summer to fall are beautiful and enjoyable – the don’t deserve sad, made-up, transition names.

And though the daily Finter run is slightly less exciting, it is seasons like Finter and Wing that make me grateful for the real seasons – winter with 3 feet of snow, summer with its blazing sun, and spring with its blooming cherry blossoms.

So, cheers, fellow runners, to sticking out the daily run in seasons like Finter. Don’t worry, the beauty of winter will be along shortly.

Do tell – how do you guys deal with the dreary periods between seasons?