Tag Archives: beer

Comfort Races

I must say, it feels good writing a post that is running/fitness related instead of dead pet related. That being said, I really don’t have much to post in regards to my running since I barely did any of it in July. Truth be told, due to the constant vet visits and care that go into taking care of sick and dying pets, and not to mention the stress and heartbreak, I only ran a total of 15 miles in the month of July.

But Laura, your second 50 miler in North Country is only a couple of weeks away! Yes, thanks for the reminder you jerk. I am fully aware of how unprepared and unmotivated I am to tackle another 50 miler, so sadly, I have decided to be a DNS. Instead, I will be running 40 fewer miles as I tackle the Crim Festival of Races on August 26th. This brings me to the title of this post.

Four years ago was one of the happiest and most successful in my running history. I was setting personal records left and right and was able to enjoy some really fun races associated with some great memories with friends, which is why I now refer to them as  “comfort races”. Like macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, these are races that are just plain fun and make me feel warm and fuzzy with nostalgia. As I put myself through another round of 50-mile training in preparation for North Country, I realized I was burned out. Running wasn’t fun anymore. I wanted to be the runner I was four years ago when running felt effortless and it was something I actually looked forward to. I needed to run more comfort races.

The AdvoKate 10K in Rochester is one such comfort race for me. The AdvoKate is held in memory of Kate, a young girl who passed away from pediatric brain cancer. No that is not at all a “comforting” thought but the race does raise funds for one of my favorite charities, St. Jude’s. My friend Andrea and I had a tradition going for two years where we would run the AdvoKate and then drive to Clarkston to enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch at the Union Woodshop. Sadly, Andrea is in graduate school in Ohio and couldn’t join me this year. However, seeing those familiar pink balloons at the start line and running through my favorite trails in my favorite city was enough to bring back so many great memories of miles spent with my friend. Four years ago I set my 10K PR of 52:10 at this race. I surely did not run that fast this year but I enjoyed myself and that was my only goa.

The Crim 10 mile race in Flint, Michigan, was another favorite that I participated in four years ago. Along with my friends Andrea and Mary Beth, we travelled to Flint the night before to run the Michigan Mile and have some fun downtown. We had a blast that night exploring the all important Expo, getting a free meal because a restaurant accidentally poisoned MB with a buttered bun (she has a lethal dairy allergy), getting beer from a toothless lady, and making up one of MB and mine’s most enduring inside jokes- The Beefberry. The race itself was a blast too, with crazy fun spectators and some beautiful scenery that I was not quite expecting from Flint. The race after-party was a blast as well with more beer tent fun and listening to some great live music. I’ve been wanting to run the Crim again ever since but have always had a conflict. I am so excited to be able to run it again this year, despite knowing I’ll also be DNS-ing North Country.

Speaking of happy memories, I hope to make some more by running some new-to-me races in the coming weeks- the Milford Memories 10K this coming Sunday, and the Marquette Trail 11 Mile Race the week after. Having logged so many long runs all year, it’s been very liberating running short distances and having so much of your day left. My husband will be running the 50K in Marquette and I look forward to a vacation filled with all the beauty the Upper Peninsula has to offer.

Is there another 50 miler in my future? I’ve been toying with the idea of running The Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50 Miler in January. I was so motivated to tackle another 50 after the Indiana Trail, but that motivation quickly faded when I realized I’d be training solo this time, and in the heat and humidity. For now, I’m enjoying the short runs. Plus, as a friend recently told me, “You have already have your 50! Why the hell would you want to do another?!”

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 HAWAII, KITTENS, AND AGE GROUP AWARDS, OH MY! (or, what I’ve been up to since my 50 mile race)

Widget Medal

Our newest medal model, Widget

After my 50 mile race on April 29th, May arrived and flew by in a flash. Though I only logged about 80 miles of running that month (my lowest monthly mileage since 2012), I guess I had a few good excuses.

First was my trip to Hawaii. OH MY GOODNESS WHERE ARE ALL THE PICTURES?!?!?! Well, though I was in paradise, it was nonetheless a business trip in paradise. I took some pictures but the business at hand left little time for exploring outside of the Honolulu city limits. That’s not to say I didn’t have a blast. Waikiki is full of great shopping, bars, restaurants, and beautiful ocean views. Though the weather was perfect for outdoor running, the amount of tourists and some scary, sun-fried locals made me cautious about running outside by myself. Alas, all the miles I logged while in Hawaii were on the hotel treadmill. Shout-out to Maui Brewing Company for having some delicious beers, and to the person who invented the Mai Tai.

The morning after I landed in Michigan, after sleeping in until 11am because I had just flown through a billion different time zones, Shawn whisked me away to a belated birthday brunch (oh yeah, I had a birthday while in Hawaii). Suspiciously, he grabbed our cat carrier before we departed. We had been casually looking at kittens available for adoption but suddenly I realized Shawn’s longing for a kitten was serious. He had something up his sleeve. After having lunch at the New Hudson Inn (they stopped serving breakfast at 11am, jerks), Shawn drove us to a local Pet Supplies Plus that was having an adoption event. Long story short- Laura spots black kitten, Laura holds black kitten, Shawn and Laura walk out with black kitten. Black kitten is now Widget.

During the joy that comes with raising a kitten, the first week Widget was in our home, I unfortunately missed some issues going on with our existing kitty, Beans. Shawn mentioned he didn’t eat much while I was in Hawaii but I selfishly attributed it to him being anxious that I was away. After Widget’s arrival Beans began to eat less, rarely use the litter box, and hid away from us. After the first couple days I blamed it on stress from the new kitten. But by mid-week I was concerned. He began vomiting regularly and showing absolutely no interest in food. He stopped purring, meowing, and acting like his normal cheerful self. By Thursday night I decided he needed immediate help and took him to the emergency vet in town. After examining him until 1:30am, it was found Beans had Pancreatitis, a UTI, and a possible mass showed up on an X-ray. My poor baby kitty had to spend all of Memorial Day weekend in the hospital recovering while Shawn, Widget, and I went up North to my parent’s home in Charlevoix for the first time in a year. It’s been over a week since Beans has been home, and I wish I could say he’s made a 100% recovery. However, he has a follow-up appointment tomorrow to find out for sure about that possible mass. In short, I’ve been an absolute mess. I blame myself for him getting sick and I just want my normal chatty, affectionate, goofy, kitty back.

In the midst of Beans’ illness, I ran my first race since my 50 miler, the Miles For Mankind Half Marathon in Westland, MI this past Saturday. I finished in a time of about 2:13ish, which while slow, was still my fastest half marathon time in over three years. To quote our current president: Sad! But it also gave me hope that faster times are ahead. Since this was a small race, my completely non-impressive time was somehow enough for me to win 3rd in my age group. I got a lovely green ribbon that you can see modeled by my Widget.

Before I knew it, May was completely over and June was upon me, leaving 13 weeks until my next 50 miler. I’m happy to report that in addition to the 13.1 miles I ran in Westland, I was able to log 48 total miles this past week. My butt is officially in gear. I have a lot more “life” being thrown at me lately- a sick kitty, a busy job, a house, a husband who sometimes appreciates having me around, but I’m determined to rock North Country in August.

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My First Ultra: The Kal-Haven Trail Run

Kal Haven Finish

Emil Zatopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals, once said the following: “If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” I love this quote because it’s impossible to run a marathon and not learn something new about yourself. You will find strength you never knew you had, tenacity to push through pain that once would’ve made you quit. Marathons are a beast that will change the way you feel about yourself forever. Ultramarathons are a monster that will cause you to experience about 3 different lifetimes and even cause you to fantasize about a life where you never have to run again.

On Saturday, April 8th 2017, I officially completed my first ultramarathon, the Kal-Haven Trail Run. This race is advertised as 33.5 miles but according to my watch and everyone else I asked, it’s technically over 34. The entire run is held on the Kal-Haven Trail, a pancake flat rail-trail which runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven, Michigan. In terms of ultramarathons, it’s an easy one. I already mentioned it’s pancake flat, and pretty much the only terrain you have to look out for is sticks and branches on the trail. I knew going in to this race it would be flat, but good Lord did I underestimate how flat it was. You would think that would make the run easy, right? Well 34 straight miles of using the same exact muscles with not even a rolling hill to help break up the monotony tore up my leg muscles more than I would’ve imagined. But, more on the pain later.

I arrived in Kalamazoo the night before and stayed in a hotel for free thanks to my Hilton Honors points, the one perk of travelling so much for work last year. I enjoyed dinner at a new brewery in town, One Well Brewing. It had been written up as one of the best new breweries in Michigan, and in a state where breweries are getting a bit out of control in my humble opinion, that was enough to get me through the door. I ordered a flight and there wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch- a delicious IPA, amber ale, even a jalapeno flavored beer. I also ordered a pizza with no cheese because, duh, I didn’t want my stomach to be upset for my run. Jalapeno beer is totally fine before an ultra though.

One Well

Pictured: Carb Loading

I woke up the morning of the race feeling oddly well rested and ready to go. I ate a gas station Clif Bar and horrible hotel room coffee with powdered creamer, grabbed a banana from the lobby breakfast, and went on my way to the Kal-Haven trail head. As I picked up my packet I was oblivious to the daunting fact that I was about to run the longest distance of my life up to that point. At least the weather forecast was looking perfect- chilly to start but warming up to the 50’s and sunny for most of the day.

The first few miles of the race were like any other run on a rail trail similar to the ones back home, such as the Paint Creek Trail or the West Bloomfield Trail. It was very pretty and full of trees. And it stayed like that, for miles and miles and miles and miles. What I’m trying to say is it was a bit monotonous. Oh yeah, and did I mention no hills? By mile 17 I was surprised at how sore and beat up I felt. Luckily there was a huge aid station marking the half way point full of pretzels, fruit snacks, bagels, bananas, and PUPPIES! Yes, I met a beautiful pit bull puppy named Beans, just like my baby kitty. Receiving puppy kisses from Beans gave me a burst of energy that lasted until mile 24.

It was at this point that I ran out of motivation. After 24 miles of running a straight line through trees, with no friends to talk to and no music, I was just plain bored and couldn’t find the mental strength to run through the pain. I texted my husband while fighting back tears letting him know how tough this run was. He told me to stay strong and keep going, and of course texted a photo of our cat Beans cheering me on like he does for every race. With his encouragement in mind I hobbled along for two more miles then ended up walking most of mile 26. Mentally, I was done with this race. I questioned why I was a runner. I beat myself up for my lack of speed. I told myself no way in hell I was going to run the 50 miler in April and that I wasn’t good enough to be a runner so I was going to just quit and start taking spinning classes. I was excited imagining a life of sleeping in on Saturdays and having toenails.

Then, magically at mile 30, a third (or fourth?) wind came upon me. An inner voice appeared and actually started pushing me along instead of keeping me down. “Don’t think about how far you have to go, think about how far you’ve come.” This random thought became my mantra as I pushed along for the last four miles, going from over 13 minute miles to 10:50’s. Yes, that is super slow, but at that point I felt like I was flying. “You are going to finish, probably not as fast as you wanted but you will finish and no one can take that from you.” I really wish this encouraging inner voice would show itself more often, like at work meetings. I guess it only shows up when I’m under tremendous physical stress.

Well, I did finish, but not before cursing the course for putting the ONE HILL right before the finish line. Bastards. After grabbing my medal I looked for my friend Angie who I was sure finished long before me. By “looking”, I mean I sat on the ground in pain and waited for her to find me. When she finally did I learned she had finished AN HOUR before I did. She is truly a beast and is going to rock her upcoming 100 miler. I was just happy to finish 34 miles in 7 hours and 10 minutes.

Despite the miles of agony that plagued me during the Kal-Haven Trail Run, overall this race motivated me even more for my upcoming 50. Despite how happy I was to be done running I actually felt like I could tackle another 16 miles. Kal-Haven proved that I can push through extreme pain, fatigue, and boredom and finish with a smile on my face. The miles may not be pretty or fast but they will be my own to be proud of forever.

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Racing and Pacing and Beer Chasing

RACING

Hey, didn’t I run a marathon recently?

Officially it’s been a little over two weeks since I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon, though it feels like ages ago. You can probably tell by my reluctance to write a recap that the race didn’t go quite as well as planned (the other reason being my master procrastination skills). My official finish time was 4:29:02, which is officially a 30-second PR, but I was hardly in a celebratory mood after finishing this marathon. My run was plagued by stomach issues so severe that I had to stop FIVE TIMES to use the port-a-johns. Every stop I saw my goal time slipping further and further away, and I even thought about quitting. However, in the midst of my despair, I thought about how I was getting that medal whether I finished in four hours or six hours, and to stop acting like such a sore loser. I had trained in below freezing wind chills and through personal turmoil, so I wasn’t going to let a “crappy run” (see what I did there!) ruin a good time. And in the end, I did have a great time running Salt Lake City. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and I had some of my best friends there to cheer me on. Life was truly good that day.

My next marathon will be a return to Charlevoix on June 21st. I’ve been cutting back on sugar, which I believe to be the culprit of my crappy experience (I did it again!). Nothing but plain bagels before long runs from now on, and absolutely NO CAFFEINATED GU! I’ll be experimenting a lot with pre-long run nutrition in the next month, which will hopefully get me closer to my goal of breaking four hours.

PACING

A few months back a message was posted to the Your Pace or Mine forum asking for volunteer pacers for the Let’s Move Half Marathon in Mt. Clemens. Though it was a week after my marathon, I knew I would have no issue pacing the 2:20 group and happily volunteered my novice services. I figured it would be a fun new running experience, plus I get to run a half marathon AND get a medal for FREE! I had a blast with my pacing partner, telling horrible jokes and feeling kind of like a badass when people marveled at my ability to run a half a week after a full marathon. I can’t wait for more pacing opportunities in the future, as my race addiction is quite expensive. Below is a picture that captures the sheer joy a free race will bring:

I am ever so white.

I am ever so white.

BEER CHASING

This past Friday I ran ANOTHER FREE RACE thanks to the kind people in the Southeast Michigan Runners Facebook group. The race was the Hightail to Ale 5K held at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Atwater Beer. I had tried their IPA in the past and it was pretty gross. However, my favorite kind of beer is always FREE, so I was excited to run a 5K that gave you not only a free beer, but also a pint glass, shirt, and bottle-opener medal! Add in a nice jaunt along Detroit’s Riverfront, and this race was pretty much perfect. Despite hosting over 4,000 runners I was able to PR according to my watch, though my name is mysteriously absent from the official results. Hmm. Oh well, it was a fun Friday night race and I got to see a lot of familiar faces. Metro Detroit truly has a tight running community.  And as for my free beer, I tried the Dirty Blonde. It was…okay.

My next race will be the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, my first time doing this famous 25K! Speaking of beer, a stop to Founders will be absolutely necessary. After that, I’m giving racing a rest until Charlevoix. I think my body and wallet will be grateful.

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Annoying Jerk and Old Iron Man: Making Friends at my Latest 10K

When it comes to races, some people enjoy the larger events with the big group of runners and cheering crowd. Me, I like to feel like I’m on my own little run until I get to the finish line where there is hopefully a shiny new medal waiting. Don’t get me wrong, big events are thrilling and the race-swag is nice. However, with a larger group of runners comes a bigger chance of running along side some annoying people.

The Stony Creek Distance Run is a small, week-night 5K and 10K race that takes place on the trails of Stony Creek Metropark. It’s also cheap, which made it a perfect choice for me. After a nerve-wrecking drive from Birmingham to Shelby Township in rush-hour traffic (it should be mandatory punishment for sex offenders to drive M-59 at rush hour every day for the rest of their lives), I happily awaited a pleasant run on the trails. Oh, and pleasant it was- perfect mid 70’s temps with no wind gusts or humidity. Pleasant, that is, until I ran into Annoying Jerk.

Commonly during a race I distract myself by focusing on other runners and assigning them names and character traits. For example: “Wow, Blue Shirt Girl is fast. I’ll let her pace me for a while. I wish I had her butt.” Or, “Ooh, Tattoo Guy sure has some dreamy eyes…” are thoughts often going through my head. For the first two miles of my 10K I focused on Old Iron Man, an older-looking fellow with an Iron Man logo tatooed on his ankle. I assumed that meant he had completed a full Iron Man and therefore he was instanly my hero. I ran close behind him for a while, until I was finally accosted by Annoying Jerk.

Annoying Jerk came from behind around mile 2.5 and began running my exact pace, nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Since we were running on a narrow trail, and I’m claustrophobic, and who the hell does that shit anyway, I tried to surge ahead to lose him. In doing so, I passed Old Iron Man. “Great job!” he said to me. Awww. I dropped Annoying Jerk for a while until he caught up with me, again running practically on top of me. I tried to express my annoyance in civil ways, such as sighing heavily and surging ahead several more times. But each time I did, Annoying Jerk would come sprinting from behind to run my exact fucking pace.

Now, if Annoying Jerk had been a good-looking shirtless guy, I may have enjoyed the company. “Why doesn’t he just pass me?” I kept thinking to myself, until finally I decided to lose him for good. With a 2 miles left to run, I sprinted ahead and never saw him again. I was then able to enjoy a solitary run through the beautiful trails until I crossed the finish line.

As I stood around after the race waiting for results to get posted (2nd in my age group, woo-hoo!), Old Iron Man congratulated me on a good run. “You kept a great steady pace! Good for you!” Old Iron Man also won his age group! I want him to be my grandpa. Then I saw him. Annoying Jerk was coming right at me. “Hey there! Good job!” Well, you would know, you were practically running on top of me THE ENTIRE RACE. But I didn’t say that. I thanked him. He then proceeded to explain how he had an hour drive to the race, and how he could’ve run faster had he not been so tired. Dude, don’t give me your bull-shit. I beat you and that’s all there is to it. Go home and cry into your Annoying Jerk beer.

In the end, the crazy antics of one inconsiderate runner weren’t enough to ruin my race. I went home, cleaned the dirt off of my shins and relaxed with some red wine. I’m running another 10K on Saturday- the AdvoKate in Rochester. Let’s hope there’s more Old Iron Men than Annoying Jerks (and some shirtless guys wouldn’t hurt).

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Random Thoughts: Pre-Marathon Edition

This Saturday I’ll be running my second marathon in beautiful Charlevoix, Michigan. There are lots of thoughts flowing through my little pea-brain as I lead up to this occasion. Here are a few:

1) The general non-running population has no clue what marathons are like, nor do they care. The number one question I get asked when I tell people at work I’m running a marathon this weekend is, “Oh! How many miles is that?”, which is often followed by, “Why would you do that?!”

2) I’ve been having many pre-marathon nightmares lately. My favorite so far was that I finished the marathon, but the race director refused to give me a medal unless I ran the half-marathon as well. Other dreams include forgetting my headphones, socks, or showing up to the race in high heels.

3) I don’t remember feeling as stressed and nervous leading up to my first marathon as I have for my second. Maybe it’s because I know what I’m in for- all the pain, fatigue, boredom…why am I doing this again?

4) I’ve been battling a sore throat since Monday. It hasn’t gotten worse but it hasn’t gone away either. I’m sure it’s just a bad combination of stress and acid reflux. My friend Swiss informed me that St. Blaze is the patron saint of throat ailments, which is appropriate since my throat is on FIRE! (lol Catholic humor).

5) I’m very fortunate that my parents have a home in the Charlevoix area, which allows me to turn the marathon into a “race-cation”. My parents, brother, and Randy will be Up North this weekend and I’m looking forward to unwinding after running 26.2 by floating around Lake Charlevoix with a drink in my hand. I’m also happy to be visiting Short’s Brewery for the first time! They have a peanut butter and banana beer!!!!!!!

That’s it for now! My next post will obviously be my marathon race report, which will hopefully be all about how I PR’d the shit out of Charlevoix. Have a great weekend all you runnerds out there!

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Going all the Way

Before I get started on my intended post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I had the honor of meeting ultra-running superstar Scott Jurek over a week ago. He gave a presentation at VegFest in Novi on April 21st and stayed around to greet fans and sign books. I tried writing a recap of the event but I hate writing recaps. I’m not a journalist, I’m just an idiot with a WordPress account. Just know that Scott is extremely nice and inspiring and everything you’d hope he’d be in real life. I got my copy of Eat and Run signed and ate many delicious vegan cookies.

The message that Scott inscribed into my book, “Dig Deep”, may sound cliched, until you actually have to do it. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m currently training for my second marathon on June 22nd. Marathon training is all fun and games until the really long runs pop up on your training plan. This weekend I had an 18-miler planned. My biggest obstacle wasn’t finding the time, or any physical injury. It was that voice in my head telling me I couldn’t do it.

Last year when I was training for my first marathon, I probably only fit in four runs longer than 13.1. Each run ended in tears, frustration, and Bacardi. I tackled 16 miles last week with no issues. But 18 miles? My little pea-brain somehow processed that number as far more impossing, eventhough it’s only two more miles. Though I’m a stronger runner than I was last year, my confidence was still shaken by memories of last year’s training disasters. “You’re not going to make it the entire 18 miles. You’re going to give up. You’re going to get bored. You’re not good enough” was my mantra all weekend.

The morning of the run didn’t show much promise. I was supposed to meet up with some Your Pace or Mine buddies at 7 a.m. Some minor family stress had caused me to stay up too late and drink a bit more than I should have. My right knee had a dull pain and I worried about furthering the injury. On top of all that, the two cups of coffee I drank weren’t doing their job. I chugged Pepto Bismal and cried to Randy to find me any reason to call off the run and crawl back into bed. “See how you feel in 15 minutes,” he told me. I went into the closet to put on my running shoes. When I came out, Randy had found the Rocky Theme on his phone and was blasting it for me. “YOU CAN DO THIS!” he shouted. With a send off like that, how could I give up?

I met up with my friends on time and just started running. Physically I felt fine, but mentally I just couldn’t imagine myself completing the entire run. After six miles, I announced that I’d be happy with 12 miles and that I’d turn around and run home. The group wasn’t having it. “You are going to finish this run! We will bully you into finishing!” I fought against the nagging thoughts with any positive ones I could muster: “My knee isn’t hurting.” “I think it’s finally Spring.” “I don’t feel like I have to shit my pants!”

Had I been running alone, no doubt I would’ve thrown in the towel way too early and felt like a failure all day long. Instead this awesome group of ladies pushed me out of my comfort zone forced me to realize that I, Laura, could in fact finish this run and be a proper “Marathoner”. I “dug deep”, as Scott told me. Plus the group’s sense of humor was just as sick as mine, and time flew by before I had a chance to complain.

Our bodies are capable of so much, yet a negative outlook has the power to kill all of that potential. Confidence has never been my strong suit and that’s not something that’s going to change overnight. However, I’m going to start practicing positive visualization before challenging runs. It sounds silly, but I’ve read that simply imagining yourself completing your goals on race day has tremendous benefits. And if I happen to imagine crossing the finish line and running into a giant tent full of Bacardi, kitties, and gorgeous men waiting to rub my feet, that’s my business.

Whatever works, right?

 

 

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Random Thoughts: March Madness Edition

ImageMarch has been a month of personal records for the Rum Runner, in both the 5K and Half-Marathon (26:00 and 2:01:36 respectively). I should have recapped those races but frankly I just don’t feel like it. The thought of another race recap bores the hell out of me. My mind is more sporadic which leads us to yet another edition of Random Thoughts:

1) Randy and I leave for Utah on Easter Sunday to visit our favorite couple ever, Tracy and Charlie. Tracy and I met in college when we became roommates. We spent many a drunken night making fun of The Dog Whisperer and the rest is history. We’ll be visiting Moab for some hiking and mule riding and spend the rest of our time Sister-Wifing around Salt Lake City. I can’t wait!

2) I just bought a six-month unlimited yoga package at my favorite studio. I really hope to get my money’s worth and be able to contort into a pretzel by the end of September.

3) My morning routine could use an overhaul. Right now it consists of abusing the Snooze button, jumping out of bed way too late, tripping over cats, screaming about having nothing to wear, and rushing out the door still half asleep. Now that the weather is nicer I want to make a new tradition of getting up earlier to run two miles every morning. Just two easy miles to awake my mind and body and start the day off right.

4) Saturday morning me and some Your Pace or Mine buddies will be running the 16 mile training run held by the Lake Orion Hansons. I don’t have 16 miles on my schedule but I’m going rogue and doing it anyway! YOU AREN’T THE BOSS OF ME HAL HIGDON!

5) I’ve been craving really strong coffee lately. I’ve been drinking it black, which I never do. I’ve also been craving really good microbrews and I’ve never been a huge beer drinker. My friend joked that my strange cravings could mean I was pregnant, though I think most people would agree that coffee and beer are horrible pregnancy cravings. By the way, I’m definitely not preggo. CHEERS!

What are everyone’s spring plans? Any races on the horizon? Any babies in the oven? Oh my that sounded terrible. You know what I meant.

 

 

 

 

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Paczkis and Undies: A Run-tastic Saturday

Andrea, the Zebra Hat and I at Cupid's Undie Run

Andrea, the Zebra Hat and I at Cupid’s Undie Run

To loosely quote Ernest Hemingway, if people did half the things sober they said they would do while drunk, they would probably quit drinking. The idea of running a mile through Detroit in my underwear was one such idea that struck me as logical one tipsy Saturday night. The Cupid’s Undie Run was the aforementioned race, and when I woke up the next day after registering, I was flooded with regret. Oh well, body issues be damned! This race was for charity afterall, and I was determined to have fun.

A few weeks later I learned of a 5K in Hamtramck the same morning of the Cupid’s Undie Run, the Paczki 5K. Each finisher was promised a paczki and a beer. To tell you the truth, I was more excited about the free beer than the paczki. For those of you who are not aware, paczkis are polish donuts traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. They sinfully pack 600-800 calories each. They are a big deal in Detroit, though I view them as nothing more than glorified jelly donuts (though the custard ones are pretty damn good). Since the Paczki 5K was at 10:00am and the Cupid’s Run at 2:30, I could logistically do both races. I registered and looked forward to a Run-Tastic Saturday in Detroit!

Paczki 5K

The temperature on race day morning was below 20 degrees, but it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind. I met up with my buddies Mary Beth and Cara Jo and we danced to warm-up while waiting for the race to begin. The course had some icy spots, but otherwise it was flat and clear. I ran without music and my watch and enjoyed the volunteers, spectators, and scenery. It always brings a smile to my face when residents camp out on their front porches to cheer runners.

I finished the race in 27:31, technically a PR, but only by 10 seconds. Oh well, I was happy nonetheless! The free beer was especially delicious; something about drinking before 11:00am just makes beer that much more enjoyable. Afterwards I joined Mary Beth, Cara Jo, and some of their friends for brunch, which consisted of more mimosas than food. I was having such a blast it was difficult to leave, but there was more running to be done…

The Cupid’s Undie Run

I met my friend Andrea at Cheli’s Chili Bar, the race headquarters. We immediatley said “to hell with it” and stripped down to our bras and boxer shorts. Andrea had bought us beads to wear and temporary tatoos. I brought nothing to the party, except the sight of my awesome zebra-head hat.

There were many model-perfect bodies walking around us in lacy pink undies without a trace of cellulite, so Andrea and I promptly got to work drinking away our shame and inhibitions. The combination of alcohol and the sun made the race suprisingly warm, and we had a blast running and cheering past bewildered spectators. There were many cops along the course, and I can only imagine this was either the greatest or worst assignment of their lives. There were all different shapes and sizes, but the one thing in common was that every single runner was having the time of their lives.

After our mile run Andrea and I went to the club upstairs to drink more and dance our barely-covered asses off. Desite the absense of clothing, there were no creeps to be found. It was oddly freeing being around strangers in nothing but a bra and shorts.

After a recovery meal of cheese tortellini I made my way back home to regail Randy with tales of my Run-Tastic Saturday. Andrea texted me later that night to alert me that a clip of us running had made it onto the news. Yikes! Well, that’s the risk you take running through the streets in your underwear I suppose.

Run-Tastic Saturday was a rousing success. I haven’t had that much fun running and being with friends in a long time. Next race- the Corktown 5K on March 10th, which is without exaggeration my favorite day of the year. Any day that combines running, Jameson, parades, and friends makes me a happy girl.

 

 

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My First Marathon, and Why I Hate Black Cherries

My alarm went off at 3:15, and for the first time in years I didn’t hit snooze. It would have been pointless, anyway, seeing as how I had only slept one solid hour that night. I went downstairs, made coffee and oatmeal, and sat in complete denial that I was about to run my first full marathon,The Detroit Free Press Marathon, in four hours.

Fast forward to mile 17. My legs are screaming. Blisters plague my feet. I have terrible heartburn, gas, and my stomach is killing me. The scenery at this point is nothing but old buildings plastered with graffiti and there are no volunteers to cheer us on. I feel alone and bored on top of the immense fatigue. I call Randy, telling him that I was done.

“What’s wrong? Did you get hurt?” he asks. I can barely form thoughts at this point. “It’s just…hard,” I whimper.

“Well, your dad and I are at the 30K aid station. We’ll meet you there.”

This gives me enough motivation to run the mile and a half to see them waiting for me. Randy promptly gives me a hug. My dad tells me to walk with them for a while to calm down. I tell them about my stomach problem, and how I had to sacrifice over 15 minutes waiting in line for port-a-johns because of it. This was far more difficult than I had planned on, and I didn’t think I could finish. Randy tries his best to tell me how great I’m doing, and how proud he is of me, but it falls on deaf ears.

“You’re coming on Belle Isle now,” my dad says. “It’s really pretty there. You’ll have fun. It’s just a few miles then you’re in the home stretch. Randy and I will be waiting for you at the end of Belle Isle to check on you.” Begrudgingly, I agree to go on.  Thankfully Belle Isle starts with a gradual decline and I catch a little bit of a second wind (more like a second breeze). At the end of the Belle Isle loop, I see Randy and my dad waiting as they had promised.

“You’re doing great!” they yell.

“No I’m not! But I’m finishing this damn thing!”

And finish, I did. I hardly broke any records, but I got that damn medal. Did I do as well as I had hoped? Not at all. Could I have pushed myself harder? Most likely. Every run is a learning experience, and I came away with several lessons to improve my next 26.2:

1) Just because you don’t feel thirsty, don’t ignore the aid stations: The chilly weather in the fist half of the race was deceiving, and I didn’t take my first drink of water until mile 10. Huge mistake. They say if you feel thirsty, it’s too late. The last six miles of the race I had to chug water at every aid station to make up for my stupidity.

2) Don’t try anything new, even a new flavor, on race day: At one point earlier in the race I pulled out some Clif Shot Blocks. I noticed that I had bought the wrong flavor. Black Cherry, eh? No big deal. My stomach turned immediately upon trying them. So sugary and tart. Blech. Soon after my digestive issues started. I couldn’t even drink Gatorade for the rest of the race because the sugar was upsetting my stomach so badly.

3) Your legs run the race, but your mind gets you over the finish line: Regarding my terrible attitude at mile 17, I am reminded of the horrific scene from “The Never Ending Story” where Artax the horse sinks into the Swamp of Sadness (every child of the 80’s knows this scene and was subsequently scarred for life). A marathon is as much a mental battle as it is physical. Cheering volunteers can only do so much. I’m not sure how to work on improving my “state of mind” while running. Any advice would be appreciated.

Now on the fun aspects of the race. Yes, looking back on my 5+ hours of torture there were some moments that made me smile:

1) The man dressed as Minnie Mouse

2) The polka-themed aid station handing out PBR

3) The entire city of Windsor for being the best cheering section in the entire race

4) Any time a volunteer/spectator called you by your name. Hearing “You’re doing great, Laura!” does more for your soul than a generic, “You’re doing great!”

5) Seeing my friend Andrea cheering me on at mile 26, and being the first person to shout, “You’re almost there!” who I didn’t want to kill

The beauty of running is that there is always another race, and I can’t wait to try another marathon next year stronger and better than before. I don’t know what is it about running that makes people forget about the pain, fatigue, falls, the “trots”, etc., and keep racing. All I know is that along with the pain, nothing has brought more joy to my life than running.

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