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.

Woes of Plantar Fasciitis

I ran one mile today. It didn’t feel good. Normally my plantar fasciitis is pretty bad in the mornings, but once I start running and it warms up, I feel ok. Today, however, was different. I ran down my dark driveway and turned left. I noticed that I was still running on my tiptoes at just over half a mile in.  My heels were still too sensitive to touch the ground. I slowed to a walk, frustrated. I had planned to run for one hour, not 4 minutes.

After walking a little further, I insisted on completing at least one mile. I ran the remaining .47 of my mile and walked again. I headed home, looking around at the dark morning and thick fog. I took deep breaths and convinced myself that an early morning walk was better than not moving around at all.

Woes of Plantar Fasciitis - Run Leelanau
My current agenda

I’ve been icing every day, but clearly not resting enough. As you all know as fellow runners, resting through an injury is the worst. We are tempted to push through, convincing ourselves that the injury is not severe enough to sideline us. We also know, however, how that can go. Running through an injury has the ability to keep us off our feet for far longer than we anticipated.

So as I sit here writing this, I am icing my plantar fasciitis again and convincing myself to rest more. I feel antsy just writing those words. Rest more. Bleh. Tomorrow I plan to go to the gym for strength and cross-training (resting completely is unbearable, right?!) But friends, please send me your advice: how can I rest through this injury without going crazy? How can I speed up the healing of my plantar fasciitis?


Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
The beautiful rows of grapes at Brengman Brothers

It has happened. I printed my first lie. In my Vineyard to Bay 25k race preview, I excitedly told you guys that Brengman Brothers was open prior to the race for runners to use the bathrooms. This was not the case this year (Guys, I promise it was in years past). However, the port-a-potties were available and many runners took advantage of the dense woods nearby.

There, I got that lie off my chest. Now to get into the good stuff. The 4th annual Vineyard to Bay 25k was a tremendous success. It rained briefly prior to the start, but everything cleared up as runners took their place at the starting line. The day remained overcast and a little chilly, not traditional August weather but absolutely perfect for running. There was no one present to perform the National Anthem, so everyone endearingly sang it prior to starting.

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
Runners before the race at the start of the 25k

As I previously mentioned, my husband and I did the 25k relay this year. I was held in suspense all week as my husband decided between running the 15k or the 10k. He decided to run the 15k, which is the first leg of the relay. It is also the much hillier portion of the race. The exchange point took place halfway down Hilltop Road, directly after runners ascended some ridiculous hills.

The race finished at Waterwheel Park. Runners then gathered at the beach for fantastic post-race food including watermelon, dried cherries, and Stonehouse Bread with peanut butter. The awards ceremony took place at the beach as well and top age group finishers each got a bottle of Black Star Farms wine (best race award ever). After the awards were given out, an amazing raffle was held. Almost every runner went home with something. The raffle prizes included more bottles of wine, gift cards to Dick’s Pour House or the VI Grill, and so much more. My husband walked away with a Suttons Bay Bikes t-shirt and a gift card for a bicycle tune-up.

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
The 2017 medals are stunning!

This race has it all. It takes you past open water, through fields, up hills with stunning views of the bay, and onto the famous M22. It is well organized and stocked with great volunteers at aid stations. Oh, and the medals created by Sporck Tile Art are bomb, per usual. This may be my favorite race of the year (can anyone actually pick just one favorite race?!)

I’m already looking forward to the 5th annual Vineyard to Bay 25k. Hopefully you all will join us and support this great race. And now, we move onto fall racing season. What’s on your race calendar?

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Preview

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
The Vineyard to Bay 25k 2106 Finisher’s Medals

If you want a full tour of the east side of Leelanau County, the Vineyard to Bay 25k is the race for you. This 4th annual event takes place Sunday, August 27th. There are a few options for this race; runners can choose between a 5k, 25k Relay, or 25k as an individual. If this race is new to you, I strongly advise completing the entire 25k individually to get the full effect.

25k runners start at Brengman Brothers just off of Crain Hill Road. Bonus: Brengman Brothers opens their doors for runners to use their bathrooms. After leaving the driveway of the winery, runners take an immediate left onto Center Road. Then comes the lovely loooooong downhill onto Lakeview Hills Road.

Runners are then on the Leelanau Trail for quite some time. Eventually, you hop off the trail onto the open roadway again. Now comes the killer hill climb up Center Road to the crest of Hill Top Road. This hill may seem cruel but the view upon reaching the crest of Hill Top Road is totally worth it. Soak it in with deep breaths as your soar downhill past Suttons Bay Ciders and Willow Vineyard & Winery.

The bottom of the hill marks 15k. Runners completing the full 25k continue onto M22. If you are running the relay, this is the transition period. The second runner is then tagged in to complete the final 10k. The stretch on M22 is just over two miles long before entering Revold Road. You’re on Revold for just under one mile before entering onto the Leelanau Trail again. After 2.5 miles on the Leelanau Trail, you are in the heart of Suttons Bay and in the home stretch. Runners finish at Waterwheel Park.

See what I mean about the full tour of East Leelanau County? I’m tired from just writing that all out. It’s beautiful, it’s hilly, it’s hard, it’s worth your time.

The 5k starts at Hillside Feed & Supply. Runners head onto Revold Road from there, then hop onto the Leelanau Trail. The rest of the 5k course finishes with the 25k course.

You guys. This race is my favorite in Leelanau County. The finisher’s medals are truly works of art completed by Sporck Tileart. This race is bittersweet, though, as it is a farewell to the summer race season. Though, now I’m giddy for fall race season.

I’ve run the full 25k twice. This year my husband and I are doing the relay together. He can’t decide which leg of the race he wants to run, so I’m anxious with anticipation. Will I run 9.3 or 6.2 miles on Sunday? Only time will tell.

Catch you guys next week with my full recap of this year’s Vineyard to Bay 25k.