running in the fall

I sit here, in pain, but content. This year’s Run Woodstock 50K was dryer and speedier that last year. Three of us PR’d and we all negative split (ran the second half faster than the first).

Better headlamps meant we started out with a clear course, even at 6 a.m., moving swiftly through the first hour through a hill, then a rails-to-trails path. My three friends and I set a slow, steady pace of four minutes running and one walking.

We’re decked out to start the Run Woodstock 50K.

We moved in the steady, relatively easy rhythm of people who’ve been training together for years. We told stories. Laughed with (and at) each other. And we enjoyed the beauty of our lush green surroundings.

The rain that plagued us last year — and that caused mud so deep and wet that we felt like we were skating more than running — was replaced by sunshine and temperatures in the 40s, later reaching into the 60s.

The course was tough, but not impossible. The hills were even steeper than I remembered, sometimes leaving us breathless and wiped out.

Our friends spent HOURS waiting around to cheer us on after our first loop and celebrate with us when we were done.

Like last year, the aid stations had plenty of yummy food every four miles. We made sure to grab sandwiches, Coke, M&Ms, pretzels, chips, cookies, gummy bears and other treats. Oh, and there was Gatorade, water and Guu.

Because this was our second time on the course, we had a much-better plan, helping our head game and letting us get through each aid station more quickly and efficiently. That said, we were plum tired and I suspect Vicki thought about stabbing me and leaving me on the side of the trail more than once.

Not all of us were smiling with about 7 miles left.

We had to dig deep several times to keep moving forward. We may be smiling in these pictures, but running a 50K is really, really hard. Getting all of the runs on the training plan each week takes hours and hours, and even then, race day comes down to mental toughness and the willingness to keep going when your body is telling you to just quit, sit and rest.

Having good friends with you helps a ton. Knowing that you have a crew waiting for you at the end can make the difference between giving up and continuing to move forward. I can’t stress enough the importance of a good support network for these longer races.

Thankfully, we had all of those things, so we were able to get past the life-sucking hills and tired bones.

And because we all got done so much earlier than last year, we headed back to the my motor home at the nearby Pinckney Recreation Area where we were staying for the weekend, had pizza and drinks by the fire, and reveled in our accomplishment.

Seeing the finish line gave us the boost we needed to finish strong.

Several people have already asked if we plan to run the course again next year. I suspect that we will.

Vicki, me, Corey, Melissa and Shannon all ran the Run Woodstock 50K.

There was some talk about tackling a 50 miler at some point. Much like with childbirth, I suspect we’ll all forget just how tough the 50K really was and that we may start thinking that it’s a really good idea. We’ll see.

What this race did give me was the assurance that there isn’t anyone else I enjoy making bad decisions with as much as these wonderful humans.

It also gave me a big blister. I’ll be the one hobbling around the rest of the week, but with a smile on my face.

Running’s not just pretty medals.

Have you done an ultramarathon? What’s your best advice for someone deciding whether to increase their race distance? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

While a chica really can’t have too much running gear, having two kids in college at the same time this year, choosing which items to add to my collection is going to be harder than ever as Skirt Sports (affiliate link) releases its new fall line.

I’m a Skirt Sports ambassador and get a generous discount on the gear, but I’m not being compensated for this post. I do, however, get to share a 20 percent discount code with you so you can shop with abandon: FWC20. The code can’t be combined with additional discounts, coupons or promotions.

So what’s so special about the new Skirt Sports fall line? New patterns and new items.

New patterns

The redesigned Pocketopia Capri in the new Love Triangle pattern.

There are items in at least three new patterns: Love Triangle (in shades of green that make this Spartan super happy), Flyaway (a Ruby red repeating pattern that happens to be a butterfly wing) and Romance (a repeating horizontal pattern that has all of the season’s new colors, including greens and the new solid color, Ruby).

One of my favorite Skirts, the Happy Girl, in the new Romance pattern.

 

The Hover Capri in the new Flyaway print.

New items

While Skirt Sports is slowly releasing the new fall line, you can already buy some new items that are sure to become favorites.

The one that I’m most intrigued about is the Reflective Bolero Jacket, made with a highly reflective fabric and designed to be folded tightly and stored in, what else?, your Skirt pocket. It’s also wind and water resistant. Isn’t it cool?

The new Reflective Safety Bolero is designed to fit in your Skirt pocket.

Skirt Sports used that same fabric for its new Reflective Safety Skirt, which can be worn over shorts, capris or leggings.

Here’s a closeup of the new Skirt Sports reflective fabric.

The company’s popular Gotta Go Skirt now comes in a capri. It features a built-in trap-door so you can, well, go while on the run. I haven’t tried this one and am not yet sure whether I’ll be taking the plunge.

The Gotta Go Capri Skirt features a trap door that allows you to go potty discreetly while on the run.

While I can’t provide any details, I can tell you to expect some wool items to arrive in the coming weeks. Between the new patterns and the new, warmer fabric, I’ll be spending all of my clothing allowance on running gear. Again. Unless, of course, y’all tell Santa I’ve been a very good girl this year.

Have you tried Skirt Sports gear? What’s your favorite item? What do you think of the new patterns? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Tuesdays on the Run fall race scheduleBefore I became a runner, I bemoaned the end of summer as soon as the first leaf on the maple on our front lawn changed color. While I still am not happy about the upcoming drop in temperatures and shorter days, at least I have fall training and racing season as a consolation price.

The fall race calendar is the topic of this week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up with runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice.

But how does a runner chico or chica find said races? Here are my favorite sources to find the best races to fill up my schedule:

  1. Other runners. As I continuously mention, I have made some awesome friends since I became a runner. And said friends like to regale me with stories about their race exploits, especially during our weekend long runs. I have learned about my most-favorite races (Gazelle Girl Half Marathon comes to mind) through my friends. Bonus: You get intel on things like which races fill up immediately and which ones have the best swag. Plus, it usually doesn’t take a whole lot to convince your runner friends to sign up with you.
  2. Running groups. I still mostly run with Team Playmakers and Black Girls RUN! and they both host races or running events. They’re a great source for race ideas, whether to participate or volunteer. Bonus: If your running group is hosting an event, you are bound to get the best course support on the planet.
  3. Runner bloggers. Want to race in a different state? Search your favorite runner bloggers’ sites; they’ve probably done a race recap or review, giving you lots of advice, photos of the course (and bling), and enough details to plan for things like where to meet your family/friends when you’re done. I learned about my first trail half — the Two Hearted Trail Half Marathon — from Detroit Runner’s amazing race review. I immediately added the race to my schedule when I read his review and next year plan to book the Grand Island event I read about on his blogBonus: Bloggers like to get into lots of details and post lots of photos.
  4. Running store. Much like running groups, our favorite local running stores often sponsor races and race series. Ours even sponsors an amazing trail series, including one run at a local cider mill where they make and sell delicious hard cider. Bonus: The potential to participate in fun, local races and, well, hard cider or local beer.
  5. Interwebs. Don’t knock a good ‘ole Google search or information on local races and race series. I learned about several other races (including a couple in Puerto Rico) by searching for half marathons in the winter. Fair warning: Huge rabbit hole. You may spend two hours clicking on different links before you realize it. Bonus: Sky’s the limit on location and type of experience.

As for my fall race schedule, it’s pretty slim because I’ve been hyper-focused on my big-deal-whoopie race, the Run Woodstock 50K ultra. That said, I’m running across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor day as part of my Michigan Fitness Foundation duties, running the aforementioned ultra the following weekend and finishing up my season with the yearly Turkeyman Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It’s been a great year for running and I’m grateful to have been healthy to enjoy it.

How about you: Where do you learn about races? What’s on your fall race calendar? Feel free to share a link to your blog post below if you’ve written about this topic.

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run asks: You can only wear one running “uniform” for the rest of the year. What will it be?

Why is this even a question? Because this week’s link-up hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice, apparently want to torture us, that’s why.

A “uniform”? How’s a chica to choose in the Michigan tundra where the state motto is “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes and it’ll change.”

Woe is me, right? OK, fine, I’ll play. For practical purposes, I’ll go with a base layer with a few added items as needed.

SHOES

My Brooks Ghost fo’ sure. They’re super comfortable, accommodate my orthopedic inserts and are work horses. Their trail running cousin, the Brooks Cascadias, rock, too.

My newest Brooks Ghost.

My newest Brooks Ghost.

SOCKS

SmartWools, without a doubt. They work year-round, have never given me a blister and last seemingly forever.

13erBrooks

My favorite SmartWool socks with my favorite shoes.

BOTTOMS

Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze capris. I really appreciate that the bottoms are built in, have a slight compression feel and have a skirt to cover your, ahem, assets. I do represent Skirt Sports as an ambassador captain, which means I get a generous discount, but I can highly recommend these bottoms without any bias.

The skirt doesn’t get in the way at all and the tights have these really nice pockets that fit my iPhone 6 with a Lifeproof cover, plus hold several packets of gels. (You can get a 20 percent discount at Skirt Sports with the code LCR20.)

As I’ve said before, another beautiful thing about the Skirt Sports bottoms is that they don’t shift, won’t give you any chafing issues and also won’t give you a wedgie.

Lotta Breeze Capri in Free Love.

Lotta Breeze Capri in Free Love.

TOPS

I’m not as married to my tops as I am to the bottoms. I am perfectly happy wearing a tech shirt from a race or a Champion T-shirt from Target.

I also have several zip-up hoodies that I like, with my favorite being a Reebok hoodie I picked up almost four years ago at Marshall’s. The thing doesn’t even have pockets, but it’s got a lot of wind resistance, reflective tape all along the zipper, it’s warm and the hood stays put without drawstrings. It also has not absorbed my overpowering stink, a feature I do not take for granted.

My most-favorite Reebok zip-up jacket.

My most-favorite Reebok zip-up jacket.

How about it: what’s your go-to running uniform? Is there an item you buy multiples of in case they aren’t produced anymore?

Interested, that is.

There are people who run for running’s sake. Who can run the same route at the same time, every single day.

Yeah, that’s definitely not me. I need a lot of variety in my life because, well, I have a short attention span. If that sounds like you, here are some things to try:

  1. New sounds. I used to run to music and loved Pandora in particular because I built a channel that played songs with just the right beat to run with. When I tired of that, I bought a bunch of music on iTunes. Then I listened to books on tape, using Audible.
  2. New views. I like to vary my route, whether it’s just turning left instead of right from my door to finding new places to run. One of the teams I run with meets up at one of two locations but allows us to switch the route, depending on our mileage and interest. Some of the routes have more hills; others are very flat. Sometimes we see deer and once we saw a bald eagle. lachica woldumar hill
  3. New surfaces. I mostly run on the road since I live in suburbia and my running group takes paved trails around town. But I’ve recently focused on finding new trails to run on. I recently tried — and loved — Woldumar Nature Center and tried it again this morning with friends, but took a different route. It was like discovering a whole new area, even if we were just a quarter of a mile from a major road. lachica woldumar pines lachica woldumar trees lachica woldumar view
  4. New friends. One of my favorite things about running is all of the new people I’ve met. All I have to do is post a message on Facebook to find a buddy and several people jump in. I’ve found friends to run with at 5 a.m. on a weekday, 8 a.m. on a Sunday or on a random evening. It’s a great opportunity to develop deeper friendships or catch up with old friends. lachica woldumar Brandess lachica woldumar group
  5. New runners. Most newbies welcome a running partner who distracts them and/or gives them tips to encourage them. I remember spending my first 9-mile run with a certain ultra-runner who not only got me through virgin miles but who had be laughing the entire time so that I didn’t realize we were running them a minute faster than my usual pace and who took me through a particularly hilly cemetery toward the end. The experience was fun, not traumatic, and built a lot of confidence at a time when I needed a boost.
  6. New gear. Who doesn’t love the smell/look/feel of new running shoes? Or a new tech shirt/skirt/gadget? New running-related items can make even the most mundane run a little more interesting or exciting.lachica new Brooks

How about you? How do you stay interested in running? What’s your favorite new gear item?