We plan, we train, we sacrifice. For months at a time, we make races our priority, making sure we get our miles — and cross training — in while taking care of our familias, work and other responsibilities.

Reaching that finish line makes all of the trouble worth it.

But what happens when you do all the things…and can’t do the race because you’re injured?

Just three days before the Detroit Free Press Marathon, I got benched. I pouted.

My right calf had felt tight until about a month before when I had to walk quite a bit of one of my runs because it just hurt. The pain subsided and I was able to run the rest of the way and I did the whole rest, ice, compression and anti-inflammatory routine when I got home. I babied the leg for a few days and got back to training.

About three weeks later, the same thing happened the weekend before Detroit, except that the pain got worse and didn’t really go away. I walked a couple of miles back from the day’s long run. I did all the things again, but didn’t get better, so I called Dr. Awesome and he was able to squeeze me in.

Boy, was I relieved. He can fix it, I thought, and then I can run 26.2 miles. After all, I had plans to go to the expo, meet other Bib Rave Pro ambassadors and spend the night in a hotel with my runner friends.

Not so much. Instead, I was diagnosed with a micro-tear in my right calf. A very minor injury — but only if I took a short break and allowed it to heal. Running the marathon, Dr. Awesome assured me, would mean a much-more-serious injury and longer recovery time.

I did the math and sat the race out. Sure, I’ve been injured before and have spent many a week wishing I were running. But this one was extra painful because I have been looking forward to running Detroit for so long. And I had plans, dang it!

In fact, it was my goal race for 2018 and my whole training plan revolved around it. I also got to train with Gatorade Endurance because that’s what was going to be available on course.

What’s a chica to do?

Suck it up, butter cup.

As with all other injuries, I went through the stages of grief and moved on. This time, I listened to the doc right away and did what was best for my body. (I also talked to my sports med doc at Dr. Awesome’s suggestion and he, too, agreed with the protocol: no running or walking; avoiding stairs and anything that makes my calf hurt in the least. If things don’t get better, I’ll have to wear a — gasp! — boot.)

After resting for a week, I’ve been riding the Peloton bike, which helps a bit with my stress levels, tho I am most-definitely noticing that I am more jacked up than normal and I’ve not slept well since I stopped running.

On race day, I made sure to keep myself super busy with chores, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friends’ accomplishments on social media. So many did their first full or achieved personal records that day.

Now a few days later, I’m still mourning a bit. But I’m moving on. I start physical therapy on Monday and am considering swimming lessons once a week at a local gym to increase my cross-training and, possibly, doing a triathlon next year. Because I may be mourning not being able to run, but I’m also realizing that I’m going to have to take care of my body if I want to keep racking up those miles.

Have you had to forego a race because you got injured at the last minute? What did you do? What type of cross-training do you do? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

I’ve wanted a tattoo to commemorate my first marathon for the past four years, but really couldn’t settle on a design. How could I pick something that encapsulated my training, suffering and achievement?

So I stalled. I did a ton of research about designs, styles and post-tattoo care, but really couldn’t find much information about what it’s really like to get a tattoo. You know, the kind of details you really want to know about.

And since we’ve established that there’s really nothing I’m not willing to share (exhibit A), here’s how it went.

How did I find an artist?

I asked friends whose tattoos I admired, then I cyberstalked a few tattoo shops in town. I noticed that I genuinely liked one particular artist’s pieces on a very regular basis, so I scheduled a consult.

My favorite 18-year-old and I met with the artist for a few minutes one afternoon about two months ago. I told him what I was looking for, in very general terms. He asked me to email him some ideas/thoughts and that he’d send me a design. He also said we could make any changes I wanted.

I sent him a link to my Pinterest board … and waited. It took several weeks and at least one more email before I heard back: schedule a three-hour session. No design.

I later learned from the office manager that artists don’t typically share their designs until the day of the appointment. Gulp.

This made me very nervous because I was worried about wasting the three-hour appointment (and losing a small deposit) if I didn’t like what he came up with. But I always went back to just how much I have admired his work. Trust the artist, right?

I committed to working with him to make any changes and stopped worrying about the design.

On the morning of my 4 p.m. appointment, I got a short email with an attachment. El husbando and I clicked and both immediately said we loved the design. While it was not at all what I was expecting, the artist captured what I wanted.

I was very much ready and headed out to the appointment later in the day.

We’re there any surprises?

Other than the fact that the design was way bigger than I expected? Not really.

The artist handed me the design in its actual size and I’m pretty sure I gasped. It seemed ginormous.

There was no way I could have the design placed on the front of my left shoulder where I wanted it originally. What to do?

Again, I chose to trust the artist. We talked about making it smaller, but he worried we would lose the detail that made the piece so special.

I needed a placement that would allow me to cover the tattoo because my job entails meeting with a lot of potentially conservative people and I never want to offend.

The artist recommended the back of my shoulder. I was disappointed because I really wanted to have a tattoo I could easily look at. I got it for myself, after all. But I genuinely loved the design and knew that the artist is the expert, so I agreed.

I filled out a few forms, got some general information about tattooing and headed to the back of the shop.

How do you prep for a tattoo?

First, I have to say just how clean everything was. The area looked like a doctor’s office. It felt sterile. Except for the irreverent designs on the walls and the music blaring in the background, that is.

The artist washed his hands, put gloves on and pulled out brand-new, in-the-package, tools. He was meticulous and had me watch the whole process. I’m guessing so that I would feel confident I wasn’t being exposed to some nasty cooties.

We talked about the design, whether I wanted color (no) and whether I wanted any words (again, no).

He then shaved the area before putting the design on my shoulder. There were a couple of large mirrors to help me really see the location and size of the design. It still looked huge and we talked about it. My daughter and I conferred and gave him the go-ahead.

I had to lay (or is it lie) face down. I wore a tank with straps to make sure the artist had access to my shoulder, so it worked out great.

Before he started, a woman next door heard I was getting a shoulder tattoo and proceeded to tell me how she’d had one. Oh? How did it go?, I asked

It felt like I was getting stabbed, she answered. Lovely.

Finally, what does it really feel like to get a tattoo?

It hurts. I knew it would hurt, but some friends said they found it relaxing. I suspect it’s like childbirth where nature ensures time smoothies some of the edges of our memory so that we will reproduce again.

And by hurt, I mean that it really felt like I was getting stabbed a bunch of times, but just on the surface. Was it tolerable? Sure.

Would I have endured it for more than the two hours it took? I have to say that I would have probably needed a few breaks.

After a particularly painful few minutes, the artist explained that he uses different tools for things like lines, shading and even color (we went with only black ink with a tiny bit of white for shading).

Some tools have more needles than others. The shading definitely hurt more than the lines, and the color even more than that.

On a scale of 1-10, with childbirth being a 10, passing a kidney stone an 8 1/2 and stubbing a toe a 5, I’m gonna put this at a 5 or 6.

It was not fun, but the artist distracted me by telling stories and, a few times, doing a bit of dancing.

I was able to adjust my head and arms many times and he asked me several times if I needed a break. Wanting the pain to stop, I just asked him to keep going.

i whined a bit, but was never in so much pain that I cried or cried out.

After almost two hours, he said he was done. He wiped the design off with disinfectant soap and asked me to stay still for a bit.

He uncovered the design…and told me he needed to do a little bit more work. Thankfully, it only took another 3-5 minutes and we were done.

Did it look like the original design?

The original design had a lot of line work and detail, but I didn’t know that the artist would also add a lot of shading, so the final product has a lot more depth than I ever expected. It’s also a lot darker than I thought it would be.

The piece is beautiful. I kept admiring it in the mirror when he was done. We, of course, wanted to get some nice shots so he could make me “Instagram famous.”

Here’s the finished product:

Oh, and, no, it’s not a running tattoo after all! Instead, it’s the outline of Puerto Rico, including both Vieques and Culebra. It features the national flower, flor Maga, and the yellow and black bird that gave me my childhood nickname of Reinita.

What are some lessons learned?

I chose to trust the artist after seeing his work on Instagram for over a year. Had I not seen what he could do, I would have probably given more direction and weighed in a lot more, and probably would have ended with a design that I asked for, not one that I truly loved.

I tried to merge too many things into the one tattoo. I also wanted a coquí frog (it’s very emblematic of Puerto Rico) and the word “corre” or run. Neither could have worked and I let go of the ideas after talking with the artist.

What are the few days after getting a tattoo like?

After we took some pictures, the artist covered the tattoo with what looked like plastic wrap. He asked me to keep it clean for two days, then remove the bandage and wash it with some soap I bought at the shop for a week. He also recommended I use lotion for at least a week.

He said the design would look shinny and dark at the beginning but will fade in the coming years. In the meantime, it could feel like — and may even itch — like a sunburn.

I just took the bandage off in the shower. It came off a little bit like the glue we used to let dry on our hands and peel when we were kids. It felt a lot like taking off a regular bandage, but I was particularly glad that he had shaved the whole area before.

Any regrets?

None. I am glad I chose this particular design, artist and location. While I can’t immediately see my tattoo all the time, I can glance at it with any mirror.

Have you ever gotten a tattoo? How long ago and where? Do you have any tips to share? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: Gatorade Endurance

by lachicaruns on

[Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance formula, energy gels, energy chews and a squeeze bottle plus a free race entry to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews!]

While I certainly trained for months for the Run Woodstock 50K in September, my goal race for 2018 has been the Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon. It’s such an iconic race that I’ve been wanting to run for years, and my friends have suggested it several times. Plus, I get to say that I ran to another country. (Read the race reviews on and use code 2018 DETROCKS for 10 percent off race registration).

All of the items on the Gatorade Endurance trial pack.

Training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon has gone really well, even though I had to take a break after having my fourth shoulder surgery about six months ago. I’ve certainly taken things slowly and have been working on both my cross training and on my core.

I’ve also been taking better care of myself overall, even getting seven-to-eight hours of sleep most nights, eating better during the week (weekends are for donuts and pizza!) and making sure I’m properly hydrated.

Enter the opportunity to try out the Gatorade Endurance products because I’m a BibRave Pro (ambassador). I’ve certainly been using all of the items in my trial pack because they will all be available during the Detroit Free Press Marathon:

  • Endurance Formula
  • Energy Gels
  • Energy Chews
  • Carb Energy Drink
  • squeeze bottle

Watermelon? It’s actually pretty good.

I’ve been adding the powder to my water for most of my runs and even some of my longer bike rides at home. I really didn’t expect to like the watermelon flavor, but it’s mild enough (and sweet enough!) that it’s been working great for me. I do want to see if I can find it in a sugar free version, eventually.

I got to try the vanilla Gatorade Endurance gel.

The gels are super handy and easy to open. The consistency is much more liquid than what I’m used to with my other gels.

I used the Gatorade Endurance chews during my recent 50K.

As for the chews, they’re by far my favorite product in the trial pack. I had used these before and find them easier on my stomach than just about any energy product I’ve tried before. I found the packaging super easy to open, even on the run, and the chews are small enough that they don’t take a lot of work to consume. I can even chew and run, even though I often just wait until a walk break to pull them out of my luggage.

I’m getting a ton of use out of the water bottle.

While I don’t expect to carry the bottle on race day, I have definitely gotten a ton of use while I’ve become reacquainted with our Peloton stationary bike and, often, while I run on the treadmill at home. It’s been helping me make sure I’m really drinking enough, even when I don’t really want to.

I’ll continue to train for the Detroit Free Press Marathon using the Gatorade Endurance products, since they’ll be available on the course. So far, they’re working out great and it’s been a great relief to know that I won’t have to carry a bunch of fuel and fluids on race day — especially since the race discourages big hydration packs because of the international crossing into Canada.

Hope to see you at the starting line!

What are your fall race plans? Is Detroit on your list? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

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.

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.)