So Long, Sweet Summer

So Long, Sweet Summer
Before Sugar Loaf posted all those “no trespassing signs,” (SIGH) it was one of the best places to hike and see the fall colors.

It’s a bittersweet time in Northern Michigan. Summer is quickly coming to an end. Kids are back in school, the days are shorter, the wind feels crisper. Don’t ask me how this happened, I swear that mid-April blizzard was just last week.

As we mourn the end of summer, we must also mourn the closing of another race season. In Northern Michigan, there are very few races held after October. Sure, there are a few fun ‘snow’ or ‘holiday’ themed races, but there are not races popping up every weekend the way they do in the summer.

I may be getting ahead of myself, as fall is still a top-notch racing season. Some may argue that fall racing is even better, as temperatures are cooler and more comfortable. Many of you may be anticipating a fall marathon that you’ve spent the summer training to complete. (And kudos to you if you’ve been training this hot, dry summer!) I, of course, do not have a fall marathon on my agenda because, as you may recall, I took the summer off of training and goals (psssst – I’ll have recap on how that felt coming up!)

Now that we have all that mourning out of the way, let’s celebrate. I love fall too much. Judge me, but I even had pumpkin flavored coffee this morning. October is the best month, don’t try to argue. I also love winter. (I know, I’m the worst). I’m looking forward to those crisp leaves crunching underfoot on trails, and I’m pretty damn stoked about the first snowfall of the season (have I caused you to unsubscribe from my blog yet?) There’s nothing better than running in the bitter cold, all wrapped up in [ridiculously expensive] layers and crossing paths with another runner. That calls for more than just the typical ‘runner wave.’ Running in below zero temperatures calls for a mutual fist pump into the air.

So yes, I am mourning the end of summer, but I am also beyond pumped for fall. I have several running color tours planned – the colors better be epic this year. Cheers to a new season of running, everyone!

 

Finter

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?

 

Rifle Season vs Trail Runners

Rifle Season vs Trail Runners - Run Leelanau
I try my best to dress like a highlighter when trail running during hunting season. (I also hope I don’t run into any Trump supporters in the woods)

Tomorrow is the first day of rifle season in Northern Michigan. A heavy feeling of dread falls on those of us that are trail runners. While in theory, hunters and runners should not cross paths, but that uneasy feeling still remains. Usually hunting vs non-hunting areas are well-marked. However, once in the woods, it is easy for hunters and runners alike to stray into the other’s territory.  Additionally, many areas have running trails that travel through hunting territory.

On two separate occasions, I have come across hunting blinds during hunting season in wooded areas that had “no hunting” signs posted. Both times I became anxious and extremely short of breath. My trail run quickly turned into a speed workout as I sprinted out of there. Did the hunter see me and realize I was a person? Or did the hunter hear me in the distance and raise his gun, ready to shoot?

It’s these kind of occurrences that keep me from trail running during hunting season. In fact, I get nervous about running past any large section of woods during hunting season, even if I am on a public road. What if a stray bullet did not hit its target?

Ok ok. I know some of my “what if” thoughts are a bit ridiculous and far fetched. But they are all definite possibilities. It pains me not to run or hike the beautiful trails within Leelanau County during hunting season, especially because these are the last few weeks they are available without snowshoes and snow gear.

Even though I wear ridiculously colored clothing to stand out, my fears do keep me from running trails during hunting season. I’d love to know though, what do other trail runners do during hunting season? Are my fears unreasonable and silly?

Hunters and runners: what advice do you give for us all to share the woods? How can runners stay safe and how can hunters be confident in what they are shooting at?

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 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.