Search Results for: woodstock 50k

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.)

You may be considering running a 50K because your friends have promised you that you’ll get to eat M&Ms at each aid station with abandon. Or because you like the idea of an ultra marathoner sticker or magnet on your car. You may have even run a bunch of half and full marathons, and think it can’t possibly be much more difficult.

It is. Really. But so, so worth it.

I’ve only one 50K but I am in the middle of training for my second this September. I can tell you it’s incredibly difficult, but also more rewarding than any other type of running I’ve ever done.

Whatever your reason, here’s the skinny on what it really takes to train for an ultra marathon:

  1. An indomitable spirit with a sprinkle of insanity. In a word: grit. There is no way you’re going to get through five runs each week plus cross training plus making sure you get enough sleep if you’re not dead-set on reaching your goal. Our Saturday morning long runs start as early as 5:30 a.m. Who wants to get up at 4:30 on a Saturday? Crazy people, that’s who. And only those of us who are not-quite-normal will get to the start line.

    An especially crazy 18-mile run, made better by great company.

  2. A lot of time. The training plan my friends and I are using calls for four time-based runs, from an hour to an-hour-and-a-half each, plus a long run on Saturday mornings. When you’re slow like us, a long run can take from three to five hours at a time. And — get this — you have to run for at least an hour the day after your longest run of the week. It helps to have a familia who is OK with all of this, or at least one that likes to sleep in a lot.
  3. Patience (a.k.a., a sense of humor). Tell someone you’re running a 50K (or longer) ultra marathon and be prepared for lots of questions about your sanity. Even non-runners understand that some people sign up for — and run — marathons. “Run a bunch of miles to prove to yourself that you can? Got it.” But an ultra pushes you right into freak (or unbalanced) category. “What, a marathon wasn’t long enough for you?” I actually had a 15-minute conversation with a nice man at work. A former runner, he wanted to chat about why I run longer distances instead of concentrating on shorter races, but trying to get faster. Bless his heart. (See #1 above).
  4. Friends who are just as crazy as you are. Bonus points if they’re experienced and can share awesome tips like what to pack for your ultra, including the need for a drop bag. Most importantly, friends who may think you’re crazy, but who nonetheless support your insanity by meeting you for runs at 5:15 a.m. a couple of weekdays before going to work.

    Some of my crazy runner friends.

  5. Gear. Sure, you can train for a half or full marathon wearing a tech shirt and shorts, plus nice running shoes. An ultra requires an extensive list of must-have items, ranging from a water/hydration vest so you don’t die from dehydration during your long runs, fuel (like Gu or SportBeans or, in my case, even cheese sticks) so you don’t die from hunger, and salt/electrolyte tablets so you don’t die from dehydration. I’m not exaggerating about that whole dehydration thing; training for a fall race means long runs in July and August when it’s just plain hot. Another must-have: A nice running watch that not only tracks your mileage and pace, but one that can last whatever time you think it’ll take you to run 31-plus miles.
  6. Access to trails. A lot of ultras are run on trails. To run 31 miles on trails, you need to train on trails. There’s just no way around that. Trail shoes are optional, but well worth the investment. (See #5 above).
  7. Accepting that you will be hungry. All. The. Time. There’s a reason why people training for 26.2 gain the “marathon many.” I tend to eat every two or three hours anyway, but the extra running has be starving an hour after my last meal. It’s easy to put on a few pounds during training.

I may weigh 600 lbs. by the goal 50K, Run Woodstock in September.

Bonus: I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a tribe of experienced runners, so I asked them to share their best tips on what it really takes to run your first ultra. Here’s what they had to say:

Vicki: “It takes friends to run with and motivate you.”

Melissa: “Don’t skip mid-week runs. That will come back to haunt you mile 28…”

Emily: “Loss of sanity. Other insane friends cheering you on and assuring you you can do it.”

There you have it. If after all that, you still decide to take on your first ultra, I hope you succeed. It’s a fun, crazy, insane, exhausting, time-consuming, expensive endeavor. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

What’s on your race schedule this year? Have you ever done an ultra? What are some of your favorite tips? (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.)

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.)