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.)

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

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.)

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews.

Athlinks‘ tagline is “All of Your Results in One Place” and, boy, they aren’t kidding.

This database tool allows athletes to pull in times for races, triathlons, swimming, cycling, mountain biking and other timed sports by typing in their names into a search box. If the tool can’t find the race, you can still add the information by hand.

In the interest of full disclosure, Athlinks and I had a rough start. I created my account on my iPhone about six months ago and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get my races loaded. I almost gave up on the tool, then other BibRave Pros suggested I try the desktop version and it worked wonderfully. At the time, the company said it was working on its mobile version, so I suspect there won’t be much of a difference these days.

When I got it up and running, Athlinks pulled in all of the 17 races I’ve done — from my first 5K in 2012 to my last one in 2017 and everything in between. When you first log in, it shows you your personal records for different events and even logs your total distances (for all of your races, combined).

It also shows your personal records for each distance.

Once you find a race and add the results, you can see your chip time, pace, placement, splits and even the weather on race day. You can sort results by distance, year, category or event.

As I train for the Woodstock 50K for what will be my third time, for example, it was great to see how much I improved from my first to second year.

For someone with a Swiss cheese brain like me, this tool is a godsend because I can quickly look at previous races to see whether I’ve run them before, and track my progress.

A feature I haven’t used much is that it allows you to find other athletes and tag them as “rivals” to compare your accomplishments to theirs. So far, I’ve only added my good friend Vicki. There’s a similar feature to “follow” other athletes.

So if you want to use this free tool to track your races — and to visually see your progress all in one place — go check out Athlinks today.

How do you track your races? Would you be able to say how many you have run and at what pace? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)