The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
Look at my husband eating a banana in front of me. Cannibalism.

The 9th annual Zombie Run is quickly approaching. This 5k brings out some of the best costumes, make-up, and props I have ever seen. On the morning of this race, I usually get up extra early to don my best zombie make-up (please note I regularly fail at daily make-up, let alone zomb-ified make-up). As this race starts at 9AM, I cannot even imagine how early some people must get up to to put on their amazing costumes and make-up. Thank you to those that do, because you make this race so much fun.

As for me, I like to dress as various food items and zombify them. In years past, I’ve been a rotten banana, rotten tomato, and Mr. Potato Dead. My favorite costume from last year was 2 young ladies (I’m 85, I can use the term “young ladies”) dressed up as the twins from The Shining. Well done, ladies, well done.

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
Mr. Potato DEAD

Another item that is important to note is that this 5k starts and ends at Right Brain Brewery.

I’ve always been a fan of races that end at breweries. Ending a race at a brewery is the right thing to do and all race directors should take note.

Clearly I love Traverse City’s Zombie Run, but I’m a fan of all themed races in general. I think they are less intimidating, especially for new runners. Never completed a 5k before? Dress up and walk one. There are usually just as many walkers at themed races like the Zombie Run as there are runners. Themed races are traditionally less competitive; people are there for the show, lots of laughs, and comradery.

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
The year of the rotten tomato. My husband does not advise running a race in a mask, FYI

It is bittersweet that I will not be participating in this year’s Zombie Run. We are traveling north for the Great Turtle Half Marathon on Mackinac Island (watch for a race recap next week!) This is a race I have never done before, so I’m excited to check it out. But it still breaks my heart to be missing out on this year’s Zombie Run. So friends, take photos for me. I will be back next year, likely dressed as whatever food item I can get my hands on.




Runch - Run Leelanau
Lunch on the go

I recently overheard the word “Runch” and love this concept. However, I have so many questions (per usual).

For those who don’t know, the term “Runch” is where someone utilizes a lunch break to go running.

First, I’m assuming people who take a runch have a full hour lunch break. Now, do these people work somewhere that also has a shower? Or do people just go back to work after a run and not shower? (If that’s the case, these people clearly do not sweat like I do) Also, when do people actually eat their lunch??

Sadly, my job is not one that has lunch breaks. It’s more of a quick, ‘grab some food and eat it while you can,’ kind of thing. As a result, I cannot explore the best way to handle the whole ‘change clothes, run, shower, and get back to work’ thing. That being said, I would love to hear what other people who runch do.

I would also love to learn about the ways a runch makes an impact on your day. Does running on a lunch break make you better focused and centered the rest of the day? Is it nice knowing you have a run coming up mid-day to look forward to? Or is it stressful to try and squeeze a run in during that short break?

Send me your feedback – I’m truly curious. And to all those running on their lunch break today – CHEERS! You guys are all-stars.



Morning Dark vs Night Dark: The Great Debate

Morning Dark vs Night Dark: The Great Debate - Run Leelanau
It’s a glorious sight when the sun finally starts to rise

I was recently part of a #RunChat conversation on Twitter (Catch us at @RunLeelanau!) During this discussion, I learned that I’m not as odd as I once thought. See, I always thought that running in the ‘morning dark’ was scarier than running in the ‘night dark.’ All this time, I believed I was the only one who had a preference between the two different times of darkness.

(Side note, I’m mildly* afraid of the dark



What a pleasant surprise to discover that others have a preference, too! Some people find night darkness more scary than morning darkness. Others are like me and find morning darkness more scary than night darkness.

What is the reason for these preferences? It’s hard to put it into words and I most certainly don’t want to speculate for others. For me, it’s more of a feeling. Sometimes the feeling of being scared while running in the ‘morning dark’ is so overwhelming that it takes some of the enjoyment out of the run.

Perhaps it’s because the ‘morning dark’ for me usually falls around 4-5AM. When I run in the ‘night dark’ it’s around 8PM. In general, there are more people awake and around at 8PM than 4AM. I feel comforted knowing that there are others alert and nearby should I need help for whatever reason.

All in all, I’m just happy to know other people feel that weird vibe while running in the dark as well. Heck, if I can help it, I don’t run in the dark at all. But can that really be avoided when you work full-time and the sun is only up for an hour in the winter? (That is hardly an exaggeration).

So do tell, fellow runners: do you prefer ‘morning dark’ or ‘night dark’ ? Or do you hate running in the dark altogether? Are there any exceptional people out there who prefer running in the dark? How do you feel safe running in the dark? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. Please advise.



Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5K Race Recap

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k Race Recap - Run Leelananu
The race starts and ends at this majestic beach in Empire.

Phew! Now I know I mentioned in my race preview that the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k had some hills, but clearly I repressed some of them from last year. The first four miles seem almost like a steady incline. There are some rolling hills in there, but largely runners are ascending during this time.

This may seem terrifying for some, but just remember this is an out-and-back course. Every hill you go up, you get to come back down.

Now, huge thanks to the lady who gave me a tremendous laugh at mile five. We were finally going down a loooooong downhill. It’s a steep one, too. It certainly felt nice to be heading down for a bit. This lady commented out loud how great this downhill was. And then, reality hit her:

“OH NO. We’ll have to run back up this, won’t we?!”

I laughed. “Oh yeah,” I thought to myself.

It was a glorious day for a race (but isn’t everyday?) Yes, we got rained on. Yes, the wind blew our hats off. And yes, the hills gave us quite the challenge. But everyday that I get to head outside and run with a group of people who love the sport as much as I do is a great day. The trees that line the course were just starting to show their vibrant colors. The finish line is on the beach in Empire that showcase bluffs in every direction. I mean, come on.

The beauty of this course never fails to fill me up with tremendous joy and appreciation for this region. I will return to this race next year.

And don’t forget, every year the Empire Hops Festival takes place immediately following the race. If you didn’t know, drinking beer is my favorite post-race activity. Hope to see you all at both events next year. Cheers!

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k Race Preview

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
The 2016 Sleeping Bear Marathon Finisher’s Medal

Put your excited pants on: it’s race week. Saturday, October 7th, is the return of the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k. As I discussed in a previous post, I am not doing a fall marathon. But that just means I get to check out the half marathon this year. All three races are out and back courses. Last year, I did the marathon and the half follows the same route (obviously turning around at the 6.55-mile mark).

This course is perfect; it has all the things that make up a scenic race. Runners start in Empire and head towards Glen Arbor. For the majority of the half marathon and marathon, runners are on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Almost immediately, you head into thick forestry. As this race is October 7th,  fall colors are starting to peak.  Half marathoners remain in the woods for almost the entire race.

After the half marathoners turn around, marathoners head past Little Glen Lake for picturesque views of its beautiful shades of blue. While Little Glen is showing off on the right, the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes Dune Climb stands in splendor to your left. Runners then veer off the trail onto M109. This is a steep climb, but you will pass the majestic DH Day Barn as you go. This historic building is so stunning that the hill becomes an afterthought. And just wait until you get to the top of that climb. Lake Michigan sprawls out as far as the eye can see. And marathoners get to soak it in as they coast down the back of that hill.

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
DH Day Barn, what a beaut!

Upon entering Glen Haven, runners take a right into DH Day Campground. After winding through the campground, it’s time to navigate through the portion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that sits at the bottom of Alligator Hill. Runners exit the trail and cruise the backstreets of Glen Arbor before turning around and completing the return 13.1. The route back varies just slightly, but it’s a pleasant variation that eliminates at least one hill.

I say, if you’re running 26.2 miles, you might as well do it in the most beautiful place in America. Hope to see you there full those race day jitters!


26.2 Thoughts I had while Watching “Breaking 2”

26.2 Thoughts I had while Watching "Breaking 2" - Run Leelanau
Photo credit

I watched National Geographic’sBreaking 2” in complete awe. Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa, and Zersaney Tadese’s inspirational journey left me in goosebumps throughout the entire documentary. Here are 26.2 of the thoughts I had while watching:

  1. Credits are rolling. Oh my gosh this is already amazing.
  2.  What are they spraying on Eliud’s legs?? Should I spray something on my legs? Would that make me faster?
  3. 2 hours until the race starts. I know how I feel 2 hours before a marathon. I can’t even imagine what they are going through.
  4. How amazing would it be to be there? I am SO jealous of everyone who witnessed this live and in person.
  5. 4:34 per mile for 26.2 miles. I’m laughing and crying at the same time. Insane.
  6. Their legs are moving so fast they are blurry. THEIR LEGS ARE BLURRY.
  7. “No human is limited.” I love you, Eliud.
  8. Endurance Expert? What the heck is an endurance expert?
  9. What is my VO2 max?
  10. Tadese had to run 14km to school everyday? Americans could take a page out of that book.
  11. I can’t decide if Eliud looks older or younger than 32.
  12. “Marathon is life. It’s not about the legs, it’s about the heart and mind.”  YESSS
  14. Eliud washes his shoes by hand. Should I wash my shoes by hand? Should I wash my shoes in general?
  15. I want to be in the pace car.
  16. Eliud just ran a half marathon in 59:19. Zersenay ran it in 59:42. THEY DON’T EVEN LOOK TIRED.
  17. Why is Lelisa doing his interval training at 3AM??
  18. Is there anyone on the planet more humble than Eliud Kipchoge?
  19. “The body and the mind are absolutely battling.” No truer words have been spoken.
  20. “If you don’t rule your mind it can rule you.” -Kipchoge. Dude, spot on with the quotes.
  21. Oh hey, I get up at 3AM on race day, too. Look how much I have in common with these elites.
  22. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I got to follow a green laser during races to know if I’m on pace or not?
  23. The pacer exchange is SO SMOOTH.
  24. Even though I know the outcome, this is so intense I am holding my breath.
  25. Those pacers are boss and deserve more credit.
  26. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

26.2.  2:00:25. Eliud for president.

Eliud is a role model. Not only do I admire him for his incredible running ability, but his positive attitude is the real inspiration. This guy understands running on a level so different from everyone else. I can’t wait to see what he does next and I can’t wait to go for a run tomorrow.

You can catch the full documentary here.

19 Thoughts I have about Virtual Races

Virtual races are becoming extremely popular. I’ve never done one before, but I signed up for two upcoming ones. One is The Great Candy Corn 5k (because, duh) that is put on through Gone for a Run. The other is a half marathon put on by my favorite running podcast: Marathon Training Academy. The 5k is in October and the half marathon is in November. I have many thoughts about virtual races. Here are 19 of those thoughts.

  1. Will I miss the crowds cheering me on through the difficult parts?
  2. It’s kind of cool that I can choose whatever route I want for this.
  3. It’s extra cool that I don’t have to stand in a porta-potty line this morning.
  4. This is a race, but I’m alone and running a route I’ve done many times before. Will I run at race pace or fall back into a more comfortable pace?
  5. There is not a finish line for me to wait at and cheer others through.
  6. No one will be at the finish line to cheer me on!
  7. This will make me feel motivated to get out and run these specific distances when I might not feel like running those days.
  8. How many other people are running the exact same distance at this exact time as me?
  9. Where are other people running?
  10. Should I take a post-race photo or is that cheesy?
  11. These medals are really cool.
  12. I’m sad no one will be there to place the medal around my neck as I head down the finisher’s chute.
  13. Is it weird that I paid money to run alone today?
  14. It’s nice that I don’t have to get up extra early to travel to the start line today.
  15. Will I feel the same sense of camaraderie with fellow racers over social media that I do with those physically running with me?
  16. I can’t wait to see everyone’s photos of where they chose to race.
  17. Does anyone actually wear the race bib they mail to virtual racers? If I saw a lone runner wearing a race bib, I’d think the poor sap was lost. 
  18. I’m definitely not wearing the race bib.
  19. Who will serve me the post-race food?


19 Thoughts I have about Virtual Races - Run Leelanau
Look how jazzy these medals are. Photo Courtesy of Gone for a Run

I’m looking forward to these virtual races, it will be a good experience. But I also think it will be weird. I don’t know if I will sign up to do more virtual races in the future, but I’ll have a “race recap” after each one to let you guys know my final thoughts on these events.

And if you guys have any insights on the pros and cons of virtual races, I’d love to hear them!



This is Why I’m Grumpy

Fall marathon season is fully upon us. I love seeing everyone’s photos of the beautiful marathons they are completing. Fall races are the absolute best. Spending all summer sweating out those miles to train makes the cooler fall air seem that much more refreshing. I see people posting about “_____ number of days until the ________ marathon.” Every time I see a post like that or a photo of someone with their early-fall finisher’s medal, I get a little “ping” of jealousy.

I want to be running a fall marathon, but I’m not. After running The Bayshore Marathon in May, I decided to take the fall off from marathon running. This decision was made for many reasons, but mostly because I wanted to give myself some adequate rest before I start training for my first Ultra marathon, to take place in April 2018.

This is Why I'm Grumpy - Run Leelananu
The start of the 2016 Chicago Marathon. This picture makes me feel all the feels.

Normally after completing a marathon, I take about two weeks to a month of engaging in active recovery. After that, it is time to hop back into the next training cycle. Since I haven’t been training for any thing in particular all summer, I feel very odd. Training gives me a sense of purpose with my running. It is easier for me to skip a run or a workout when my alarm goes off at 4:15AM if I don’t have to for training purposes.

This break is also nice in a way. I am listening to my body more. During training, if I have to do a speed workout, I do a speed workout. No question about it. Now, if I plan to do a speed workout and my body feels worn out or unable to complete the workout, I ease back and do a recovery run. Maybe taking this season off of marathon training is a good thing, despite how hard it feels. I am learning to be more forgiving of myself when I need rest. I am becoming more aware of my body’s needs. This time has allowed me to complete more strength and cross-training. Heck, my garden is thriving because I don’t spend my evenings completing long runs.

This is Why I'm Grumpy - Run Leelananu
My husband and I the night before 2016 Chicago Marathon. There’s nothing like those race-eve jitters!

Still, even with all the benefits that I pointed out above, I cannot wait to dive back into a training schedule. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger. I feel a better sense of community within the running world when I am in training. Slowly, I am counting down the days to this winter, when I can finally start training for that ultra. At least I know I’ll be well-rested.

Good luck to everyone running a fall marathon! Enjoy every second of it.

Harvest Stompede Race Recap

Phew. Holy cow, you guys. This is one tough race. There is a 5k and 7-mile distance, I ran the 7-miler. Both races are the same price, how crazy is that?! Why wouldn’t you sign up for the longer distance and get more bang for your buck? Anywho, this is an insane and beautiful race.

Harvest Stompede Race Recap - Run Leelanau
The beautiful barn at Ciccone Vineyards

The race started at Ciccone Vineyards promptly at 9AM. Both the 5k runners and the 7-mile runners started at the same time. This was new for me, as normally different distances start at different times. It was a very crowded start, as all runners were corraled through three rows of grapes in the vineyard. Don’t count on a fast start, but people spread out pretty quickly over the first mile.

Immediately after the first mile, the 5k runners and 7-milers split off in different directions. For the 7-mile course, runners are greeted with rolling hills – literally the whole time. Ok mayyyyybe there were a few straight shots, but all I can remember are the hills. The course was a little slippery, as the grass was still wet from the morning dew. There were plenty of muddy areas that added to the slipperiness as well.

Harvest Stompede Race Recap - Run Leelanau
We ran through rows and rows of these beautiful grapes

After running through the vineyards of Ciccone, runners head to the vineyards of Black Star Farms. The views along the whole course are amazing. You run through rows of vineyards, past pumpkin patches, past howling beagles (my favorite part), and by overlooks of the bay.

This course challenged me more than I expected it to. I plan to tackle my first ultra this spring. It’s a 50k on trails and this 7-miler showed me how much trail work I need to do before I’m ready for that ultra. I’m just happy I realized this now so I can adjust my training accordingly.

Harvest Stompede Race Recap - Run Leelanau
Stomping grapes at the finish line!

At the end of the course, runners get to jump in pits of grapes to “stomp” them into wine. Duh. My running shoes are still wet and may forever smell likes grapes. This is definitely an upgrade though, as my running shoes were not the best smelling things before this race.




Harvest Stompede Race Preview

Harvest Stompede Race Preview - Run Leelanau
Super pumped to run through the vineyards that are full of grapes this full!

I have never completed the Harvest Stompede before, but I am very excited for it. The distance options include a 5k or 7-mile run. I signed up for the 7-mile run for only $34. That’s a steal! Rumor has it, over 900 people participated last year. How have I never run this race before?! (Reason 105 I’m excited about this race: I always feel left out when I can’t run a race and then see super cool pictures of it.)

The race is this Saturday, September 9th at 9:00AM. It starts at Ciccone Vineyard and continues on through the rolling hills of the vineyards. These vineyards are only accessible to the public on race day, so this is quite the opportunity. This race is just part of a full weekend event that celebrates the harvesting of grapes. A special wine tour takes place after the race (tickets sold separately).

As I’ve never done this race before, I don’t know much else about it! But I’d love if you guys joined me and learned all about it with me. You can’t go wrong with a fall race in Leelanau County.