marathon training

We just spent more than a week camping in gorgeous Indian Lake State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s in a tiny town called Manistique on the southern part of the UP and features all of our favorite things about camping: lake views, glorious sunsets, nearby attractions, trails and, in this case, great Internet/phone connections.

Our site, E-2, is not reserve-able online; you can only walk in and request it. It’s rather large, with some big trees for good shade, next to the bathroom (more on that later) and across from a couple of waterfront sites.

While not the best site we’ve ever camped on, it certainly met all of our basic needs and was a great spot overall. The two sites across from us saw a lot of turnover, so we had new neighbors almost every day or two. As for being next to the bathroom, it really wasn’t as bad as we expected and didn’t detract from our stay.

There are several public access areas (most have steps) that served as perfect spots to view each evening’s sunset.

Pro tip: The walk/drive/bike to the first set of bathrooms is totally worth it. The water was hot and adjustable, unlike the single shower in the other two sets of bathrooms.

As for running, I got a few short (3-5 mile) runs in, plus a 20 miler and a 16 miler.

For my longest run, I wanted to stay close so I could access our motorhome’s bathroom, plus cold water and Gatorade, and snacks. I knew it would take me five to six hours, so I didn’t want to be weighed down by tons of supplies.

After chatting with the friendly park ranger, I settled on running the campground’s trails, which were supposed to give me about a mile, plus a full circuit on the campground’s loop for another mile. Doing that would obviously force me to run 10 2-mile loops. Not ideal, but do-able, and convenient.

I tried to find another, nearby option, but everything I found was at least a 30- to 45-minute drive or farther.

I headed out at 6 a.m. for my first loop, heading to the trail head, my hydration vest and trail shoes on. I had sprayed myself with bug spray, grabbing a couple of the Deep Woods Off wipes, just in case.

The trail starts with about .2 miles paved, then turns into a typical mix of dirt and sand, with some pretty lake views, lots of shade and no people.

I was particularly pleased to see the tree coverage, knowing the temperatures would rise quickly and soon.

Until, that is, the state bird, I mean, mosquitoes started feasting on me. I figured that if I kept moving, I would be OK, so I ran more than walked.

Until, that is, the trail speed bumps, I mean, the logs on the trail. And by logs, I mean lots of rather large tree branches that someone probably thought would help with erosion or mud. But instead, they tripped me over and over. And over.

Did I mention that the mosquitoes would swarm me when I slowed down?

Feeling like a mosquito buffet, I walked as fast as I could, trying to also avoid a digger face-first into the dirt.

When I had a moment, I re-applied the mosquito repellent, but it just served as a seasoning, because the suckers (see what I did there?) just kept biting.

I was glad to leave the trail, but dreaded just running loops on asphalt around the campground, so I went back through the trails a couple more times with similar results. I have to say that I just gave up; the whole ordeal was just unpleasant and even slower than normal, even for this back-of-the-packer.

Instead, I ran the 1-mile campground loop 14 more times after changing into my road shoes. And again a few days later for 16 miles. Weee!

Not a favorite, but it certainly beat running loops in my neighborhood.

Pro tip: be prepared to run 1-mile loops, or plan ahead and find a nice trail you can drive to…and bring bear spray.

Other than running, I went fishing with el husbando at nearby Dodge Lake, about a 20-minute drive northeast of Indian Lake. Together, we caught about 10 smaller bass. Most other days were too windy for us to fish, even with our new Minn Kota motor.

The Indian Lake campground is also close to a cool attraction called the Big Spring. We had been here about five or six years ago, and were happy to visit again. Basically, you get on a raft that allows you to see a beautiful natural spring with greenish-turquoise water and the biggest trout I have ever seen. We took some home video, but I think you’ll rather enjoy this Under the Radar piece instead.

Pro tip: This spot is extremely popular and there’s only one raft, so you may have to wait. The park ranger suggested we go early in the morning or at 6 p.m. We opted for 9 a.m. and didn’t have to wait long, but a bunch of people showed up as we were leaving.

We also did a ton of eating while on vacation, as one does, including a ride into town to experience Clyde’s Drive In, which several friends and TripAdvisor recommended. It’s apparently a sister restaurant to the original on U.S. 2, just west of the Mackinac Bridge once you cross over.

We all enjoyed the burgers and fries. I’m not typically a coleslaw lover, but theirs tasted fresh and was delicious. The shakes were just OK. The portions were rather generous and I was just glad that I didn’t have to cook.

Ironically, we were originally booked to camp at Lake Gogebic State Park, in the very western UP, but made a last-minute decision to swing by Indian Lake in the off-chance they had an open site. I called ahead when we were just 7 miles away, and were thrilled to learn that they had three open sites.

I should note that the park ranger, Pat Nelson, was awesome. He was friendly every single time we saw him, offered great suggestions and tips.

As I mentioned before, we parked here a few years ago and had fond memories, but had been choosing to camp at our favorite sites at Muskallonge Lake State Park. We’re glad we switched it up a bit, and are grateful for such an awesome vacation.

What’s your favorite Upper Peninsula state park for camping? What about for running? (You may have to click on the “Continue Reading” button to leave a comment.)

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.)

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 BibRave.com 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 BibRave.com 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.)

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

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.)