Sunday, October 4, 2015

On the Run: Women Run the D 2015

I swore I would never run this race again after last year.  But when it came down to it, I couldn't turn down a free race entry.  I wasn't exactly looking forward to the race but in the weeks preceding it, I did a few training runs on Belle Isle to mentally prepare for race day.  One was a solo 13-mile tempo run, which was especially good because it gave me the practice of the double loops at race pace.  I've also started to make my peace with running on the island, now that it's become the home of our Be Bold Crew.  

The Be Bold recovery station

Women Run the D is scheduled back-to-back weekends with The Brooksie Way.  A couple days before the race Coach Terra asked me to pick one for my goal race.  Of course that would be Brooksie.  I needed a solid 20-miler the weekend of Women Run the D so we decided I would run that one as an aerobic training run, cross the finish line, and just keep running another 7 miles.  That took off so much pressure for me knowing I was NOT racing this thing but just using it as training!  It would be perfect.  A training run with port-a-potties before and after, water stations, cheering spectators, and a Be Bold recovery station when I was finally done!  

Just the Tuesday prior to the race I had tripped over a construction sign while running before work.  My left knee was scabbed and I had road rash on left thigh.  The real problem, however, was my inner right knee.  It was sore to the touch and a bit painful to walk on.  Somehow running was okay once I got going.  I had taken it easy in the days between the fall and the race with lots of rest, ice, and Ibuprofin the day before.  On race day I took Aleve and got taped up by Coach Stefanie (aka The Dynamic Runner).  I actually felt pretty good.

The race start was moved from the Casino closer to the bridge.  I met up with my RUNdetroit family and the Be Bold Crew.  As usual, the race start was delayed by 15 minutes.  I waited until the last minute to go up to the start line.  After we took off, it was another girl and me at the front behind two lead bikes.  We were side by side until the first turn when the other girl shoved me aside.  She actually pushed me over into the other lane!  I wanted to laugh so hard because A) If you've ever been on Belle Isle you know that the road is very wide.  Certainly wide enough for two small runners to share without the need to push or shove. B) It was just the two of us.  Nobody was even close behind us.  What was she thinking?  C)  I wasn't even racing this thing!  I wanted to shout, "It's all yours!"  She had no idea what a long and lonely race she had ahead of her.  

Instead I thought about what a happy run I was going to have.  20 miles, here I come!  I took it all in.  I waved to everyone on the course.  I thanked all the volunteers.  I said good morning to the spectators and other people out enjoying the day.  Each mile ticked away quickly and easily.  

When I got back near the starting line I saw Coach Terra, Justin and ACE! from RUNdetroit, and some other friends.  I was feeling fantastic!  I continued around to the other side of the island.

Before long I met up with the 5K'ers for the first time.  It's hard because many don't realize that runners are coming.  They are either running slowly or walking, sometime 4-5 across. It makes for quite the obstacle course!  Some of the ladies are more observant than others and I got some cheers and shouts of "You go girl!" along the way when they realized I was a half marathoner.  That was a nice boost.  They made their turn just before my mile 7.

It was at this point I found one of the lead bikers waiting for me.  I was so grateful that she had stayed back.  The next stretch of island was going to be a lonely one, lacking both runners and spectators.  I was grateful for the company!  As she rode she would glance back to make sure her distance was okay and I felt like I needed to keep up.  My own personal pacer!  haha.  When we converged with the 5K runners again she helped get them to move out of my way so I didn't have to weave around them.  Later I saw Justin again and joked that I couldn't get lost in this race!  I even chatted with her here and there but that was hard because it was windy in some spots making it hard to hear each other.

The route was a bit different this year so it wasn't two full loops of the island.  Near the end we made a turn at the Athletic Fields and ran past the old zoo.  This is where Be Bold Mechanics class meets so it felt like home.  As we turned into the final stretch at the finish line, my lead bike pulled off to the side.  I crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on my face.  My friend Jen was handing out medals.  She scooped me up in a huge hug!  Then I ran over to my lead biker and gave her a hug, thanking her for the company. She was wonderful to come back for me!

After that I quick ran to the Be Bold bus where I tossed my water and medal to the Crew and was off and running again.  I maybe stopped running for a minute total.  Then I ran across the bridge, down Jefferson, and picked up the Riverwalk for 3.5 miles before I turned around and came back, completing my 20 miles for the day.

When I got back I got to hear all the happy news from friends who had amazing races.  It was wonderful to celebrate with them!  I was also just in time for the awards ceremony.  I placed 2nd overall.  This year they didn't give free entries again so it will be my last year running it.  I got a cozy blanket, another single medal hanger (I got one last year.  Honestly what do you do with these things?), and a gift card to American Home Fitness.  

Of all my 20-milers, this was by far my best and happiest!  Healthy legs + happy heart = successful training run!  


6:58 min/mile
Turn it Around / Lucius
10th Floor Ghost Girl / Cibo Matto
  Don't Save Me / Haim
 Ex's & Oh's / Elle King
Don't Take My Man to Idaho / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Ship to Wreck / Florence + the Machine 
Birth in Reverse / St. Vincent
Man / Neko Case
Caught Up / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
Youth Without Youth / Metric
I Love It / Icona Pop
Hell / Tegan & Sara
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae
Dead Brains / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Keep Your Head / The Ting Tings
Bulletproof / La Roux
Shake it Off / Taylor Swift
Youth Without Youth / Metric 
Ex-Girlfriend / No Doubt
Shut Up and Drive / Rihanna
Born This Way / Lady Gaga
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor
Kiss With a Fist / Florence + the Machine
Never Go Back / Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Move Like You Stole It / ZZ Ward
Blood For Poppies / Garbage
All Hands on the Bad One / Sleater Kinney
Water Fountain / tUnE-yArDs

NOTE: This post was about MY run, MY race.  As for the Women's Half Marathon itself, I don't really have a lot of great things to say about it.  
  • Expo - Hard to find and underwhelming.  One of the big products/sponsors at expo was NuStep.  I'm not entirely sure why this was at a race expo.  Anyway, don't plan on spending much time at their expo.  You may even want to just get your stuff on race day so you don't have to pay for parking.
  • Shirts - Usually the shirts are ultra tiny so I order a medium.  This year they went with a different shirt company so even after being in the dryer on high, it's still too big.  Order true to size.
  • Course - While I give them credit for changing up the course a bit, it's still a half marathon on Belle Isle.  That island is good for a 5K or 10K but too small for 13.1 miles.  Some friends had the idea of making it a 15K, which I think would be perfect.
  • Organization - By year 3 a race should be getting their stuff together.  Every year it starts 15 minutes late because not everyone is there on time.  By starting late, however, people think they don't have to get there on time.  It's always a delayed start but there's never a clear announcement about the new start time.  Or if there is you don't know because their speaker system is so bad.
  • Pink - Everything is PINK!  It's women's race but not all women love pink!
  • Port-a-Potties - NOT ENOUGH!  This is a WOMEN'S race.  Women pee.  A LOT.  I'm not sure if this race follows the 1:100 formula but they should probably go with a 1:50 formula.  The lines were super long.  But note that the Casino does have a few restrooms that you can use in a pinch.

One nice thing about the event is free photos.  Race photos can be expensive so it's nice to get them free at this event!  They took them at a few points around the island.

Did you run Women Run the D?  Tell me about your experience!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On the Run: Run Wild for the Zoo 10K 2015

Run Wild always feels to me like the start of Fall racing season.  Although it's not quite Fall officially, it's mid-September and the weather is usually perfect - 50 degrees and sunny.  The course is tree-lined and leaves are just starting to change colors.  It's hard to believe that just the weekend before it was a muggy 80+ degrees for racing!

As I've said before, this is one of my favorites because it's always my anniversary race.  (8 years!)  I love going back to it year after year with lighter shoes and a faster pace.    Besides the nostalgic aspect of it, it's a beautiful course with some of the friendliest volunteers and course marshals I've seen.  

This year the race was extra special for a couple of reasons.  First of all, my 5th grade nephew Luka ran his first 5K.  He and I ran together over the summer to get ready for it.  It was so exciting to see him cross the finish line with Brian.  Yes with Brian!  For the first time Brian ran this race, too!  This is one of those races that I usually go to by myself but because he ran it with Luka, he was there to see me cross the finish line.  

I actually had a lot of people there to see me finish.  Because Luka ran his 5K, his parents and siblings were there.  The event was also a target race for RUNdetroit Flight Club so there were lots of friends at the end.  Most of them had already finished the 5K so they were there to cheer me on.

Definitely the most special part, however, was that I raced with my friend and RUNdetroit teammate Sarah.  Every step of the way.  

I hadn't planned on doing this race with Sarah.  She texted me the day before, saying she was going to sign up and would pace me for it.  Sarah wanted to help me get a PR.  I'm going to be honest here.  I FREAKED.  All these thoughts went through my head: 

  • I don't need help.  I just want to run my own race.  
  • She's faster than I am!  Why is she slowing down to run with me?!
  • I'm not fast enough.  What if I let her down?
  • I can't run that fast right now.  It's not in my wheelhouse.
  • I can't.  I can't.  I can't.

Thankfully Sarah knows me and knew I was freaking out.  All my crazy texts just rolled off her (at least I hope they did!).  I woke up in the morning with a calm mind and a fresh, positive perspective.  I realized that even though Sarah is faster than I am, pacing me WAS the race she wanted to run.  And the reason I was freaking out is because I was lacking confidence.  I was about to step outside of my comfort zone and that's scary.  It was time to be bold.  But I needed Sarah to help me.

Brian and I got to the race at 7:00 for parking and packet pickup.  There was Sarah.  We hugged and everything was okay.  We had a long time before our race at 9:00!  Plenty of time for multiple port-a-potty stops (which are always clean and have short wait times at this race).  We did a 2-mile warm-up with our friend Leamon and then finally took off our long sleeves and headed over to the start.  

As I said, Sarah and I ran the whole race together.  We chatted (she did more talking than I did) for the first 4.5 miles.  We waved to and thanked all the spectators and volunteers.  It was nice to catch up on life because we haven't seen each other as much lately as in the past.  I'm pretty sure we annoyed the men that we were passing along the way, seeing how easily we were talking and laughing.  But hey, we were having fun!

Around 3.75 miles in, Sarah commented that she really wanted to catch a guy ahead of us.  She could tell he was fading but I didn't think I had it in me to run any faster.  At the 4-mile marker she asked about pace.  I was happily surprised to see and shouted, "That's PR pace!"  It was a nice boost and I realized we'd nearly closed the gap between us and the dude ahead.  We rounded a corner and got closer.  We could hear him breathing.  He was checking his Garmin constantly.  This was it.  Sarah stopped talking, we pushed the pace just a hair, and we chicked him.  

I felt really strong for the rest of that mile but the last mile was harder.  I felt like I was going to puke.  Sarah must have noticed (or maybe I told her) because she started talking again to help keep me going.  At some point she told me that when we got to the finish line she was going to let me go first.  I said no, we needed to finish together.  I couldn't have done it without her.  Whatever happens happens.  So that's what we did.  Photo finish.

We tied.  40:27 for us both.  They gave me first and her second, though I'm not sure how that was decided.  My award was a gift certificate to Massage Envy.  I gave it to Sarah because she deserves it, earned it, and never treats herself to massages.  

Oh, and I got my PR!  I couldn't have done it without Sarah.  It's good to have a friend who believes in you when you don't believe in yourself.  That's what teamwork is all about.



Banana, CLIF Mojo - Peanut Butter Pretzel

And this guy always believes in me.  Thanks, Brian.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

On the Run: Move to the Beats 5K 2015

September is a busy month for me with a race every weekend.  I kicked off things this weekend with a fun Rock CF event in Royal Oak as part of the Arts Beats & Eats festival. Move to the Beats has both a 5K and 10K race but I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and sign up for the 5K.  

If you know me at all, you know I don't do 5K's.  They are basically the worst.  I'm not a sprinter and that's how 5K's are won.  

So why did I do this?

  1. This would be a good speed test.  My last 5K was on May 3rd and I wanted to see how my speed work has paid off.
  2. I had an 18-miler this weekend.  By doing a shorter race (plus warm-up/cool-down) I would still be able to get in my long run on Sunday.  When I run a 10K I add on mileage after to get the long run distance and that gets exhausting.  Better to start fresh the next day.

Although it would be painful I was looking forward to the race.  Mostly because it was a Rock CF event so I knew everything about it would be awesome!  I picked up my shirt and bib the day before (I always feel better being prepared pre-race).  I arrived during the lunch rush so it was pretty hoppin'.  I stayed and helped Emily (race director, Rock CF founder, and all-around amazing lady) for a while because she was by herself.  It's so much fun to help with packet pick-up.  I love seeing who is going to be racing.  One runner told me he didn't need safety pins because he would use his lucky pins.  He ALWAYS uses his lucky pins.  I thought about my piles of safety pins at home and thought that might not be a bad idea.  But I can't stop hoarding the pins!  (I think I have a problem.)

I have to mention that the swag for this race is awesome.  With your entry fee you get a super soft cotton tee shirt, a bag (with a zipper and a pocket), and 2 tickets to Arts Beats & Eats. Not a bad deal!

On race day I got to Royal Oak early to do my warm-up.  It was very humid and I was already sweating after 2 miles!  Thankfully the sky was overcast and we even got a few raindrops to cool us off before the start.  My RUNdetroit teammate Sara was racing the 5K, as well, so we started together.  I was so happy she was there!  She was ahead of my for the first mile and I credit my speedy start to her and her friend Laura (who won the 10K).  I caught up to them and we all ran mile 2 together.  

After that I started to drop back.  Sara went ahead and encouraged me to keep up but I just couldn't hang.  The early fast pace of the first two miles caught up with me.  I was fading fast.  Although I was still well within my tempo range I had to push really hard.  That finish line couldn't come soon enough!

I was so glad to have Sara in front of me to chase.  She finished ahead of me, first female, and I was right behind.  I gave her a big hug when I crossed the finish line.  I was so proud of her for winning!  And I was so grateful to have her there to help me push hard.  I couldn't have done it without her!

Photo courtesy of Ian Pettigrew Photography

I'm now just 12 seconds off my 5K PR.  A best-shape, Boston-ready, pre-injury PR at that.  I need to work on my pacing (6:12, 6:15, 6:33 are hardly consistent) so I don't burn out in the last mile.  And on October 17th I'll be stepping out of my comfort zone to chase that PR once again!




Banana, CLIF Shot - Vanilla

I Want You to Want Me / Cheap Trick
Hey Jealousy / Gin Blossoms
1983 / Neon Trees
All is Well / Soul Asylum
Everybody Talks / Neon Trees
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne

*Cheap Trick, Gin Blossoms, Neon Trees are 2015 ABE artists; Soul Asylum and Mayer Hawthorne are past ABE artists

Medals for age group awards

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On the Run: The Crim 2015

I've been hearing people talk about The Crim for years, long before I considered myself a "real runner."  The stories always went that it's challenging, hilly, lots of fun, and a must-do race for any Michigan runner.  It's in Flint, which is about an hour and twenty minute drive for us.  That always seemed farther than I wanted to go for a 10-mile race.  It's at the end of August and almost always HOT.  I'm usually thinking how glad I am not to be out racing that day!

This year I decided to see what all the excitement is about.  Was it really worth driving to Flint?

Uh yeah.  Totally worth it.

Brian and I needed to get on the road at 5am so I had to adjust my pre-race routine a bit.  Instead of getting up an hour before leaving I only gave myself 30 minutes so I could get a little more sleep.  This was plenty of time to get ready.  (What on earth do I usually do with an hour's time?!)  I never have coffee before a race but with the drive ahead I made a small cup for the road.  I took my pre-race snacks with me to eat closer to race time.  

The drive was easy and honestly didn't seem as long as I'd anticipated.  No traffic at that time of day!  We made one stop in Holly at a gas station/McDonald's for the bathroom.  (Thank you coffee!  wink wink!)  

We parked in one of the U of M lots about half a mile from the start.  (It's across the street from a Rally's so we Googled that for directions.  We joked about driving all the way to Flint for Rally's!)  It's a great spot to park because it's close to all the race stuff, plus easy in and out.  

First we hurried over to packet pickup.  We ran into a few members of Be Bold Crew at the start line.  I was getting more excited!  I got my stuff and took it back to the car.  Brian and I split up here because I had to get my warm-up done and he wanted to run as many miles as he could before I was finished with the race.

I was done warming up around 7:30.  Time for the port-a-potties!  I started to panic because I knew I was cutting it close and the lines were long (race start was 8:00).  BUT I remembered a friend telling me about the portas on the left not getting used.  I wasn't sure what she was talking about until I saw.  (If you've been there you probably know.  If not just remember about the portas on the far left.)  So instead of 30 people in line I moved over and there were 3.  Nice and quick!  I was able to get my run drills in and be at the start line by 7:40.

Because the race is so big there are corrals.  I was in A but made sure to be at the back.  I didn't want to get run over!  Coach Terra was racing so we waited together.  It was so great to be there with her!  We hugged each other good luck and then it was time.  We were off!

At first it was really crowded and congested.  Everybody was bunched up and it was slow going.  I took a hard elbow to the shoulder.  (That guy meant business!)  At the first turn I was able to make my move and break away from the crowd.  FREEDOM!  The first part of the race is through the UM-Flint campus, which is bigger than I expected.  I was surprised and excited to see Brian waiting for me!

Because I wasn't sure what to expect with this course, I set my goal at 6:50/mile.  I knew there were hills starting at mile 5.  I ended up pulling a Boston and ran the miles up until that point faster than planned just in case the hills slowed me down.  They didn't.  Miles 4-6 were all exactly the same pace and I got faster from there.  I love hills!  It felt so good to take them on again in a race.  Even after the big hills in mile 5 there were rolling hills throughout the rest of the course.  I credit the crowd support as well as the other racers to help push me to run faster.  My last few races have been small and a bigger race makes a difference.

When I got back into the downtown area I was starting to get tired.  The last mile felt long.  I turned the final corner and suddenly Doug Kurtis was in front of me.  He had to have been in front of me for a long time but I hadn't seen him.  I focused on chasing him to the finish line.  I didn't catch him but we did finish in the exact same time!

After the race I saw so many runner friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in a long time.  This race definitely draws people from all over!  Then I caught up with my Crew.  They all did an awesome job.  I'm proud to run with them!

I'm really proud of myself for this race.  For my time and pace, sure.  But mostly because this was the first race since my injury that I truly felt confident.  I felt like the old Amanda out there on the course.  The Amanda that used to race boldly and fearlessly.  My injury robbed me of that confidence and it's taken me 6 months to regain trust in myself.  But I went cautiously during my recovery period for a reason.  And now I'm ready.  I think I just needed the right race at the right time.  Talking to Coach Terra right before the race helped, too.

Swapping race stories with Coach Terra

After the race I ran another 4 miles to finish out my long run for the day.  It was a good way to loosen up my legs before the car ride home.  For the rest of the day I felt like I was walking on air!  I was so excited and happy.  I haven't been this happy after a race in a long time.  Did I place in my age group?  No.  Did I win anything?  No.  Am I back to my fastest?  Not yet.  

But with a happy hamstring and newfound confidence, I'm on my way.


6:45 min/mile
Water Fountain / tUnE-yArDs
Kiss with a Fist / Florence + the Machine
  Random Name Generator / Wilco
 Strangers / Langhorne Slim & the Law
Dear Rosemary / Foo Fighters
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse 
Bulletproof / La Roux
Crushcrushcrush / Paramore
Believer/ American Authors
Discipline / Nine Inch Nails
One Engine / The Decemberists
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
Digital Witness / St. Vincent
Violent Shiver / Benjamin Booker
Everybody Talks / Neon Trees
Anklebiters / Paramore
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Man / Neko Case
Youth Without Youth / Metric 
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train

Oh and when I said this race draws runners from all over, I wasn't kidding.  The winner of the women's race was Caroline Rotich, who also won this year's Boston Marathon.  So yeah, Crim is big.

I'm so glad I finally ran Crim this year and am already excited for next year's race!

Photo credit: Brian Wolski

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oatmeal Cookie Balls (No Bake)

I used to eat PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls for a snack but got a little burnt out on them after a while.  On a recent visit to Trader Joe's I picked up a jar of cashew butter and have been figuring out the best thing to do with it.  Then I decided it was time to make balls again. I love these even more than the PB2 Balls!  The cashew butter is neutral so it's perfect for mimicking that cookie dough flavor. 

I had to experiment a bit to get the right consistency but last night they were finally ready.  The flavor and texture is like an oatmeal cookie but they come together in just a few minutes - with no baking!  Plus you only need a few ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your cupboards.  If you don't have cashew butter you could substitute a different nut butter but the flavor won't be quite the same.  For a nut-free option, try SunButter.

Oatmeal Cookie Balls (No-Bake)


6 tbsp old fashioned oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp cashew butter
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 & 1/2 tbsp. almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
1 tsp vanilla
Handful raisins


1. Combine oats, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl.  Add cashew butter, agave, almond milk, and vanilla.  Stir with a fork until everything is combined.  Mixture will be a bit crumbly and just sticky enough.  Add raisins.

2. Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop the mixture into your hand and roll into 4 evenly sized balls.  Squish well so that everything holds together.  Place in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes before eating (if not eating immediately store in refrigerator).

Makes 4 balls.