running in the fall

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.


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.


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


My favorite SmartWool socks with my favorite shoes.


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.


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?

There’s something about a cold morning when the sun shines on frost-covered grasses yet fails to touch one’s chill from fall temperatures. It’s not something I’ve ever taken the time to notice because this chica just doesn’t typically do cold temperatures.

lachica woldumar frost

And yet, here I was, bundled up with four layers, gloves and a long Tough Girl Skirt, meeting my two running mentors Brandess and Janet for an impromptu trail run through Woldumar Nature Center in Lansing, Mich. This might just be the kind of occurrence el husbando cites when shaking his head and saying things like “you’re insane.”

lachica woldumar selfie

Loca or not, I’ve committed to taking on trails in my quest to keep running interesting. The experience did not disappoint.

Woldumar has four well-marked loops, ranging from a wheelchair-accessible .7 miles to a longer 1.6 miles with excellent water views.

lachica woldumar trail map

Since I’d only been there once before, my friend Brandess took the lead and took us through leaf-covered trails surrounded both by bare trees and tall pines that have earned that spot the enchanted forest nickname.

lachica woldumar enchanted forest

Our pace was slow and we did some walking as we enjoyed the scenery, stopped to pet some dogs on leashes and talk to their humans, and planned our next adventure: the Bad Apple Ultra in October 2016.

A handful of us — maybe five or six friends — plan to train together so we’re ready for about 30 miles in this timed race in Greenville, Mich. I agreed to the insanity when I was promised real bathrooms on the loop course housed in Klackle Orchard. Let’s just say that Brandess can be very persuasive.

The run felt effortless and we stopped several times so I could take photos to share with you. Did I mention Janet and Brandess are really patient?

lachica woldumar boat

In the end, we covered about three miles, saw deer and Canadian geese, and increased my appreciation for an activity that allows one to enjoy such beauty with some of my favorite people … even if I dashed back into my Jeep right after we were done.

I may warming up to fall in the Michigan tundra, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the wonders of a seat warmer.

How do you feel about cold-weather running? About trail running? How much wildlife do you see on a typical run?

The weather was a bit chilly when I left our campsite and the ground was littered with golden leaves. I’ve been here many times before but usually not in late October when just the heartiest of campers — and duck hunters — make the trek to South Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon.

Just this summer I enjoyed the beautiful trails on Marl Lake across the street from the state park, which for some reason inspired a 12 Days of Christmas-themed blog post. As I headed to the trail head, I saw a photographer, his camera lens trained on swans swimming near the shore. I smiled and picked up the pace only to stop in my tracks by the display behind the birds.

The same sky that had prompted me to figuratively shake a fist in its direction for dumping buckets of rain on our RV the day before was showing off with white, fluffy clouds back-lit in shades of gold and orange.

Marl Lake, Roscommon, Michigan

Marl Lake in Roscommon, Mich.

I paused for a moment but quickly continued, alert for the sounds of the white-tailed deer I spotted just minutes before since being hit by a deer while running on trails is apparently a thing.

Spotting no deer in the vicinity, I picked up my pace and focused on the trail in front, taking quick, darting peeks at the lake on my left. My feet made crunching sounds as I stepped on a thick layer of pine needles and leaves shed by the almost-barren trees around me.

lachica merl lake trail

My pace slowed as I picked my way through the root-iest (yeah, that’s now a word) areas of the trail, avoiding anything that could lead to a twisted ankle.

Watch out for tree roots while running on the Marl Lake trails.

Watch out for tree roots while running on the Marl Lake trails.

Thankfully, some of the larger roots were moss-covered and easier to avoid.

Tree roots in Marl Lake shown here covered in moss.

And then, Christmas.

I caught a very faint smell of something sweet as I neared a grove of firs. The scent magnified as I neared, giving me the feeling of having walked into December and momentarily making me forget my frozen hands. That’s when I spotted what I can only call a Charlie Brown sapling.

This sapling reminded me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.

I smiled once again and inhaled, enjoying the treat while it lasted.

The rest of the run was just as enjoyable and I chose to turn around halfway through the loop just to run through this area again. Thankfully, it didn’t snow.

I’ve often complained about fall in the 25-plus years I’ve lived in the Michigan tundra. I’ve always seen it as a time when everything around me dies and have seen no reason to join the chorus of fall-loving adoration. But as I spend more and more time outside, I’m feeling a glimmer of appreciation for its beauty.

I had just grudgingly reached this conclusion when I rounded the corner and saw another autumn display worthy of photographing.

lachica merl lake horizontal lake shot

A fall Christmas gift of sorts for this summer-loving chica.

What’s your favorite season? Do you have any favorite trails you like to run in during the fall?