A head’s up: Since we’re all runners and adults here, I’m going to assume you’re used to talking about bodily functions and aren’t going to be grossed out by what follows. If you’re easily offended, now’s the time to read another one of my posts.

Immediately after I finished my third 50k

So, apparently, you can pee blood after “strenuous exercise,” including a 33-mile ultra marathon through the woods in Hell, Mich. After seeing blood in mine for the two days following my most-recent ultra, I called my doctor’s office assuming I had a bladder infection.

After describing my symptoms, which included minor discomfort on the spot where I thought my bladder should be, my doctor started me on antibiotics, suggested an over-the-counter medication called Azo for urinary tract infections, and sent me in for a urine test. The nurse I talked to at her office also encouraged me to drink more fluids and to stay away from caffeine and artificial sweeteners because, she said, they can exacerbate these types of infections.

If you haven’t used Azo before, I will note that it turns your urine a very dark shade of orange. An especially important detail when you’re already spending an inordinate amount of time peeking into the toilet to gauge the color of your pee.

I dutifully continued to drown myself to try to rehydrate, despite drinking what at the time I thought was a ton of Gatorade and water on the race course.

Because the test confirmed blood in my urine but showed no infection, the doc sent me back in a day later to get yet another urinalysis. Thankfully, by then, no blood was found, so I was cleared and was told that the running and severe dehydration probably caused the problem.

All of this left me with a perfect reason to actually follow proper recovery advice to stay away from most running to give my body time to heal. Instead, I got a 30-minute sports massage two days post-race, rode my Peloton stationary bike, stretched and did a little bit of walking on the treadmill.

I don’t know that I could have done much of anything else anyway because running up and down hills on treacherous trails left me unable to go up and down stairs without wincing for three full days. Who’d have thunk, amiright?

While I’ve enjoyed commiserating with my friends about our sore muscles, it’s time to end recovery week with a long run tomorrow. Because the Detroit Free Press marathon isn’t going to run itself, so I’m implementing the Hal Higdon back-to-back marathon training plan, which calls for an hour or two of running.

As for the Run Woodstock 50k, it was great. We had two first-timers with us, Michelle and Walisa, and they did fantastic. Our friend Corey even ran 100 miles!

We surprisingly met up with our friends doing the half marathon during our first of two loops for the 50k.

It was really fun, challenging, and inspiring to see so many runners achieve what until recently I considered impossible goals. I continue to be amazed by the 100k and 100 mile runners we knew had been on the course since 4 p.m. the day before, but still took the time to encourage us as we passed them on the trail.

If you’ve ever considered taking on an ultra marathon, I can unequivocally say that I have no regrets and plan to return to Run Woodstock next year. There’s even talk of a, gulp!, 50 miler!

So, have you ever had any weird medical issues while running or after a long run? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

It had been a while, but I had promised myself I would return to the North Eastern State Trail at Aloha State Park near Cheboygan and I’m really glad I did.

Map of the North Eastern State Trail where I ran

The North Eastern State Trail was great for running.

After checking the trail map, I chose to head toward Cheboygan, a convenient 8 miles away, the perfect distance for my Woodstock 50K training plan, which is also getting me ready to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October (use code 2018 DETROCKS for 10 percent off race registration).

I haven’t been wearing my hydration vest because it bothers my shoulder, so I filled up the small water bottles on my luggage, I mean, hydration belt. I had my Bib Rave visor, plenty of fuel and temperatures in the low 70s.

The trail itself is crushed, packed limestone, which tried to get into my running shoes a few times. It was a good reminder to follow my friend Brandess’ advice and finally get gaiters.

Having run 26.2 miles last weekend, 16 sounded just perfect, so I headed out with a spring in my step, steady 2:1 run/walk intervals and a back-up battery in case I needed to listen to music or a book on Audible.

Everything went great. I saw deer. I drank my Gatorade and fueled every four miles. And I took lots of pictures. I should note that there is basically nothing between Aloha State Park and Cheboygan other than some fields, farm houses, an RV park and a few homes. There is nowhere to stop, get water or pee (unless you’re a dude and then the world is your toilet).

Eventually, I got close to Cheboygan and its awesome trailhead, which features a covered pavilion, bathrooms, air pump and bike tools, and a water fountain.

north eastern state trail review. It's great for running.

The North Eastern State Trail has great signage, including this one near Cheboygan.

I took advantage of the facilities and filled up my now-empty water bottles with water before turning around and heading back.

A picture of the North Eastern State Trail near Cheobygan, which has bathrooms and a water fountain. Used it during my run.

The North Eastern State Trail trailhead near Cheboygan.

By now, I’m two hours into my run but still feeling good.

Until I didn’t. I resorted to listening to a book on Audible. No big deal.

I took an extra packet of fuel. Still fine.

Then. I. Slowed. Down. Even. More.

Did I mention that there’s also no shade on the North Eastern State Trail?

I ran out of water at about mile 14. And out of juice at about mile 15, so I walked the last mile right up to the small store by the campground where I bought a regular Pepsi and it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. (Good thing I had stocked my luggage so I had cash!)

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my run on the NEST. It’s well-maintained and incredibly convenient.

I even ran on it again this morning and plan a few more runs yet this week. Which again validated my always well-stocked luggage (seeing a theme here?) when I had to pull out bug repellent wipes and then Wet Ones to clean my hands afterward. Them skeeters were trying to eat me!

a picture of my bug repellent wipes and wet ones to clean my hands

So glad I stocked my hydration pack!

Have you ever run on the North Eastern State Trail? Would you recommend it? Any tips to share? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

 

 

 

 

 

We’d just started our third 6.5-mile loop during the Loopty Loop Ultra in Rochester Hills when I checked in with el husbando letting him know we were having fun and doing great. Just two more trail loops to get our goal 26.2 miles with plenty of time to spare on our eight-hour clock.

Next thing I knew, I was splayed out on the ground, the wind knocked out of me, a scraped left knee and chin, and bruised left hand. My friends Shannon and Vicki waited until I could breathe and talk. It took me a few minutes to get myself upright and moving. I was dizzy and nauseous.

And just as quickly as it happened, I felt better and we got back on the trail. We eventually reached an aid station where a volunteer got me cold water and paper towels to clean my knee, and some antibiotic ointment, just in case.

That loop was by far our slowest. I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t feeling well, so we walked and regrouped. By the time we made it back to the start, I was feeling like myself and was able to run most of the last loop with Shannon and her husband, Corey, only walking a handful of times. I am certain that it was by far our fastest loop, but my watch died and I haven’t had the energy to ask Shannon to look at her watch’s stats.

Unlike the Old Farts marathon, the signs at Loopty Loop tried to uplift us, not taunt us.

Before the fall, the morning was uneventful. My friends Michelle, Vicki, Melissa and I met at 4:30 to make the hour-and-a-half-long drive. I made the last-minute decision to join them at dinner a few nights before, after they, ahem, convinced me that we could get the marathon distance on our ultra-marathon training plan done and get a medal.

I was a little nervous about registering for the race that morning, but registration was super organized and easy. The volunteer had me fill out a form, took my check and gave me a bib, bandanna and small towel. All in under 5 minutes.

We had plenty of time to go to the bathroom (they also had portable toilets), get our gear together, take a few pictures and line up at the start line. The race organizer made a few announcements (keep the pink flags on your right) and we were off.

We all started out together at a 2-minute run, 1-minute walk pace. About halfway through the second loop, we broke up into a couple of groups, which is pretty typical for us.

At one point during that rough third loop, we heard what sounded like ice-cream-truck music. I thought I was hallucinating. Once we reached the top of a hill, we were greeted by a volunteer handing out popsicles!

Despite taking a digger face-first into the dirt, this was definitely a great race. The course was relatively non-technical with some hills and lots of tree roots, but with plenty of shade. It was well-marked and the volunteers were all helpful and friendly.

Vicki and I walked most of that third loop. I’m grateful she didn’t kill me and leave me on the side of the trail.

The aid stations were generous with chips, watermelon, cheese sandwiches, Swedish fish, quesadillas, hot dogs, gummy bears, fuel and other treats. They had both Gatorade and water, too.

The race page describes it as having 6.3-mile loops. Had we returned from our last loop before eight hours, we could have run an extra 1-mile loop to get an official marathon distance.

As it was, our watches all said each loop was 6.6 miles, and several watches showed we covered our goal of 26.2 miles. This particular race gives out medals for the 4-, 8- and 12-hour time limits.

Race shirts were attractive, but the women’s sizes ran very, very small. Because I registered at the last minute, I didn’t get a shirt, but they also took $10 off my registration. We were offered plastic sunglasses and 26.2-mile stickers with our medals.

As a bonus, we also got to eat some really good square pizza and cake, and sit for a few minutes before cleaning up and getting in the car to head home. We were all tired, but glad we had made the trip.

We all met our goals for the day.

Now, we just have a 16-mile run next weekend, and 24- and 13-mile runs the two weeks after that. Then, taper.

There was talk of not doing the Run Woodstock 50K again next year because training takes so much darn time. I have to admit that yesterday’s race made me glad that we’ve been putting in the miles. It was proof of important the summer training is — both mentally and physically.

As always, everything wasn’t all rainbows and kittens. I came home to disgusting feet covered in dirt, a big blister under my big toe, sore muscles and a knee with road rash.

But it was all worth the pain and discomfort. I got to spend quality time with good friends, enjoy a gorgeous, sunny day and I even got a medal.


Have you ever taken a bad fall during a race? What’s your favorite race medal? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Disclaimer: I received Ultima Replenisher to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews.

As someone with blood-sugar issues (I’m prone to hypoglycemia), I have to be really careful with what I eat and drink on my long runs. Sure, I use the traditional packets of gel and drink tons of water, but I’ve also been known to bring turkey bacon in my hydration pack (next to the ice water) to make sure I have something substantial to eat after three, four and five hours of running. (Thankfully, I have yet to attract any bear or packs of wild dogs.)

When BibRave asked me to try out the Ultima Replenisher hydration product that’s sugar-free and has zero carbs and no artificial ingredients, I figured it might be just what I needed on my long training runs this summer. I sure am glad I did, because this is definitely a product I’ll be ordering and using long after the trial period.

What is it?

I got a 20-count variety pack and 30-serving canister of Ultima Replenisher. It’s an electrolyte replacement powder that the company says is sweetened naturally with organic stevia leaf extract.

My variety pack included raspberry, grape, lemonade, orange and cherry pomegranate packets for one-time use (listed in order of my favorite flavors). I mixed each with ice water that I carried on my hydration pack.

what’s so special about it?

The company says its product is “certified vegan, autism approved, paleo friendly, keto friendly, gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients.” I liked the sugar-free aspect, and also that it is zero-calorie. When you’re slow and running for four or five hours in 80-degree temperatures, that makes a big difference.

how does it taste?

As a Puerto Rican living in the Michigan tundra, there are very few opportunities for experiences that take me back to my childhood. The raspberry flavored packet had me envisioning myself eating a piragua de frambuesa from the first taste, so it quickly became my favorite.

As for the other flavors, I liked all of them. The grape reminded me of watered-down Kool-Aid; the others were about what you would expect.

did it work?

I have to say that I didn’t have any tummy troubles when I drank even two or three packets of the Ultima Replenisher. It also helped me get the electrolytes I needed during even my longest runs.

I also liked the convenience of throwing a packet or two in my “luggage” so I could use them later in my runs when I had to refill my water bottles. I even used a packet to help me re-hydrate after a sunny afternoon pool-side left me with a headache, probably from not drinking enough water.

should i try it?

Yup. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the product. You can even save 15 percent with code ULTIMABR at the Amazon Store Front.

What are you using for hydration on your long runs? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews.

Athlinks‘ tagline is “All of Your Results in One Place” and, boy, they aren’t kidding.

This database tool allows athletes to pull in times for races, triathlons, swimming, cycling, mountain biking and other timed sports by typing in their names into a search box. If the tool can’t find the race, you can still add the information by hand.

In the interest of full disclosure, Athlinks and I had a rough start. I created my account on my iPhone about six months ago and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get my races loaded. I almost gave up on the tool, then other BibRave Pros suggested I try the desktop version and it worked wonderfully. At the time, the company said it was working on its mobile version, so I suspect there won’t be much of a difference these days.

When I got it up and running, Athlinks pulled in all of the 17 races I’ve done — from my first 5K in 2012 to my last one in 2017 and everything in between. When you first log in, it shows you your personal records for different events and even logs your total distances (for all of your races, combined).

It also shows your personal records for each distance.

Once you find a race and add the results, you can see your chip time, pace, placement, splits and even the weather on race day. You can sort results by distance, year, category or event.

As I train for the Woodstock 50K for what will be my third time, for example, it was great to see how much I improved from my first to second year.

For someone with a Swiss cheese brain like me, this tool is a godsend because I can quickly look at previous races to see whether I’ve run them before, and track my progress.

A feature I haven’t used much is that it allows you to find other athletes and tag them as “rivals” to compare your accomplishments to theirs. So far, I’ve only added my good friend Vicki. There’s a similar feature to “follow” other athletes.

So if you want to use this free tool to track your races — and to visually see your progress all in one place — go check out Athlinks today.

How do you track your races? Would you be able to say how many you have run and at what pace? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)