Monday, June 22, 2015

On the Run: Southfield Summer Soulstice 10K 2015

I've gotten lost on courses before.  In small races, I tend to fall in that sweet spot where the elite men are far enough ahead of me that I lose sight of them and am running alone with nobody to follow.  Without proper signage on a poorly marshalled course, it's a 50/50 chance I'll get lost. Confusing course on top of that?  I'm doomed!

Saturday night's Southfield Summer Soulstice at Lawrence Tech University had all makings of a race disaster waiting to happen . . . I just didn't realize it.  BUM BUM BUM!

Although I was slightly nervous about an evening race, I was mostly excited to see how different it was to race at 7:30pm versus 7:30am.  I was careful about what I ate all day and took a nap in the afternoon.  Brian and I got to the race early to pick up our bibs and hang out with the rest of the RUNdetroit family.  It was a big night because there were about 15 runners doing their first 5K as part of graduation from the 3.101 program.  We also had a few Flight Club members doing the 10K and many doing the 5K.  It was awesome to have such a big group!

The RUNdetroit tent was set up in the back by the music stage and beer tent.  There was a small row of port-a-potties nearby that I will call the "secret bathrooms" because there was never a line!  I was the first to use two of them!  They were very luxurious, too.  Each one had a sink with soap and paper towels.  You don't get that kind of service at every race!

The vibe before the race was relaxed and cheery.  People were stretching, dancing, and doing yoga. There was music playing and an announcer was keeping the crowd entertained with amusing commentary.  I got in my mile warm up and run drills.  I was ready to go and feeling confident.

The race started about 10 minutes late due to some traffic on the course.  Not a big deal. Everyone took off and ran through campus, heading out to 10 Mile Road, looped through campus, then back toward 10 Mile.  At this point there was a man telling 5K to turn right and 10K left.  It was confusing and I hoped I'd gone the correct way.  Why was this poor man having to tell everyone which way to go?  Why wasn't there a sign??  No time to think about it.  I kept running, heading back the same way I'd already gone.  At least I got to pass my RUNdetroit cheering section for a second time!

After this a marshall directed me to cross over M-10 (the Lodge) and into a business park area.  I ran through some parking lots where I was able to chick two dudes.  Then I had my first indication that something was awry.  I passed my first mile marker - but it was the Mile 2 sign and my watch was showing 2.6.  I was hoping they weren't off at every mile and that somewhere along the way I would sync up.

After the business park I crossed back over M-10 where I saw a course marshall holding up 10 fingers (I was in 10th place!) and ran past my RUNdetroit cheering section for the 3rd time.  I saw the Mile 3 marker (3.6 for me), turned back into campus, and converged with the 5K runners.  I made a left turn where I found a water table and thankfully overheard a volunteer tell another runner that the 10K was supposed to go straight "back that way."  I whipped around, uttered words not for children's ears, and ran like hell in the other direction.  Why do I always get lost at races?!? 

I saw one of the guys I had passed up ahead down another path so I followed him.  We were running in the opposite direction as 5K'ers, which seemed odd.  I finally caught up to him and made sure he was running the 10K.  We made a left turn on 10 Mile for a couple of blocks before getting to a subdivision blocked off with construction barrels.  I wouldn't have turned into it unless he'd told me to.  I wasn't sure it was correct but inside we found a man at a water table, a port-a-potty, and a fun group of people cheering.  Yes this was the course!  We did one loop through this little shady subdivision before heading back to 10 Mile.  I was feeling confident again to be back on course, in the top 10, and leading lady. 

Until we headed back to 10-Mile Road where I saw a line of 10K runners streaming past the subdivision.  "10K this way!" I shouted!  They all looked at me like I was crazy.  I knew what they were thinking: Who is this lady and where is she coming from?  One woman said, "Ah, I hate when I do that."  

Holy SH*T.  I went off course again!  

How was this even possible?  I started to book it.  I wanted to reclaim something.  Then I thought WHY?  I looked at my watch and it read almost 6 miles already.  My 10K was almost over.  I'd been averaging a 6:45ish pace.  It was hot and humid and I'd given it my all.  My stomach was cramping up.  It wasn't worth being miserable to finish out at race pace because I'd gotten lost twice.  Screw it.  I slowed down and took it easy to finish out.  I ran by the guy who told the 5K and 10K to split.  At another corner I ran by a volunteer in a golf cart.  "Lost twice!" I shouted.  He just shrugged at me.  I ran by my RUNdetroit cheering section for the 4th time.  Almost back.

When I ran down the final stretch I saw Brian and the rest of the 5K finishers.  I joked to them, "Is this the right way?"  I couldn't wait to tell them about how I got lost at a race AGAIN.  I seriously wouldn't live this one down.  As I crossed the finish line, Greg Everal (Everal Race Management) was on his walkie talkie saying, "10th place, 1st woman," I started to wonder if there was more to this than I realized.  I was clearly NOT in 10th anymore, nor was I first woman.  I'd seen all those runners streaming past me when I came out of the subdivision.  Greg seemed to know I'd gotten lost - but how?  I started to talk to some of the fast guys who had finished ahead of me.  That little loop through the subdivision?  We WERE supposed to do it.  Ok so that answers that.  It didn't answer how I ended up with 6.87 miles for a 10K but it made me feel a little better.

I grabbed a water and went over to talk to the other racers.  This is when I found out that while I'd been running my race, thinking I was just getting lost as usual, everyone else had basically been running amok as well!  For the 5K, people ran anywhere between 2.9 and 3.5 miles.  I heard a record low 4.8 mile 10K and mine was 6.87 miles.  Spectators saw finishers running down the chute from both the start and finish sides, as well as coming across the grass.  Nobody knew where to go!  

It's still unclear what exactly happened.  The course was very confusing with lots of twists, turns, and loops.  I tried to study the map ahead of time but gave up because it just didn't make sense.  On the course, there weren't signs, arrows, or other indicators of where to go.  Cones aren't enough.  I can count on one hand the number of course marshalls that directed me where to turn - and one of them misdirected.  You see, we think the problem ultimately was with the first man who directed 10K to turn left and 5K to turn right.  Everyone should have turned the same direction.  I basically just ran part of it in the wrong direction.  I think.

10K course map:

Here is what I actually ran.  Looking at the two now I see when I ran to the water table at Civic Center Drive I was supposed to do that.  The thing is, had I not overheard someone say I was supposed to go back, I wouldn't have known.  There wasn't a sign to turn around.  You can also see I missed a loop in there, have an extra triangle, and seem to somehow have gone beyond the course boundary of 10 Mile Road!

5K course map:

Here's what Brian ran.  Despite only being on the actual course for 1 mile, he still logged a 3.51-mile 5K.  He ran this loop once and when he realized he was about to run the whole thing a second time he stopped and turned around.  

In the end, however, everyone made it back to the finish line safely.  There have definitely been worse outcomes at races!  The race director was very apologetic about the events of the evening.  Obviously nobody's times could be officially recorded.  No awards could be given out but they did a raffle to make up for it.  I won a gift certificate for a restaurant in Farmington Hills.  They also had half off beer in the beer tent.  We stuck around for a while and everyone had a good time.  And hey, it makes for the BEST story!!

Plus, you know what's great?  It wasn't just ME who got lost this time!  

(Unofficial - for 6.87 miles)


Bagel with peanut butter (2.5 hours before race), 1/2 banana (1 hour before race)

Summer Teeth / Wilco
Mr Blue Sky / Mayer Hawthorne
Vacation / The Go-Gos
One Summer Night / that dog
Holiday / Vampire Weekend
Cruel Summer / Bananarama
Hot Summer Night / Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Holiday / Green Day
Miami / Will Smith
Summer of '69 / Bryan Adams
California Gurls / Katy Perry
People of the Sun / Rage Against the Machine
The Other Side of Summer / Elvis Costello

Did you run the Southfield Summer Soulstice?  If so, please share your story (which race, your actual distance, map, etc.).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Running Day Scavenger Hunt

June 3rd was National Running Day.  I celebrated with friends, RUNdetroit, and (of course) running!  RUNdetroit and Saucony teamed up to bring us a cool new event - a running scavenger hunt through Midtown. For the event, participants needed to create teams of 2-6 people and be ready to run 3-6 miles.  Brian and I teamed up with our friends Megan and Jason for the the challenge.  

The event started at the store at 6pm.  At that time we were handed a list of 20 clues/challenges.  Each item on the list was assigned a point value, anywhere from 3-15pts.  Everything was located within a 3-mile rectangular radius of the store.  

Teams needed to meet between 7:15-7:30 at Great Lakes Coffee.  Winners would be determined based on the number of points.  Photos had to be taken at each location and posted along the way using specific hashtags: #rundetroit #finddetroit #saucony

Let the games begin!

Before we could go anywhere we had to come up with our strategy.  We knew we wouldn't hit everything on the list in 75-90 minutes.  RUNdetroit captured us attempting to come up with a plan.   

1. First we completed the Saucony challenge (run around the block one time) while we strategized where to go. (10 pts)

2. Next we completed the Rock CF challenge at Northern Lights.  We let Megan take this one.  She went head to head with Emily Schaller in a Nintendo Power Pad track race.  Emily was the clear winner! (10 pts)


3. From Northern Lights we headed up to Grand Boulevard for this clue: "You've got Nowhere to Run and There Ain't No Mountain High Enough so Come See About Me."  We knew that could only mean one thing.  (10 pts)

4. On our way down Trumbull toward the Wayne State track, I realized I knew where we were!  Brian had already solved the clue earlier on the run: "The name says it all about where I'm located.  This graffiti and sculpture installation is where cool stuff gets created.  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Street _ r _  _ _ r _." (10 pts)

5. From there we kept going down Trumbull to the track.  We found Coach Stefanie who was ready for us with The Dynamic Runner Challenge - planks and squats!  (10 pts)

6. Just across the field we found the answer to this clue: "Detroit's favorite letter in sculpture form.  You'll find me near your favorite green and gold oval." (5 pts)

7. Continuing on Trumbull we stopped for a picture with this little guy.  He helped us with this clue: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to be better.  It's not."  (5 pts)

8. Then we ran to my favorite kitty in the city.  I was so excited that this was on the list.  I drive by it several days a week but haven't ever stopped for a picture.  Clue: "I'm the most epic feline some pedestrians have seen.  A tail, a paw, and a head in-between."  (15 pts)

9. Our last stop was "Welcome to Woodbridge" (latex on brick, 2006) as we headed back up Trumbull to Martin Luther King Boulevard.  (5 pts)

And we made it back!  Here we are tallying up our points.  

Justin at his mobile office coming up with official results.  

After the points were tallied, our team ended up coming in 3rd with 80 points (top point earners had 95 points and 81 points).  We got some sweet Saucony swag (towel, koozie, and slap bracelet) for it.

The Running Day Scavenger Hunt was the most fun running event I've ever participated in!  I sure hope RUNdetroit does another one next year.  We didn't realize that we could have gotten points here and there for smaller items (3 pts for each Man in the City and Shinola clock) so next year we'll be all over those.

If you missed out on the scavenger hunt, be sure to check out the upcoming RUNdetroit & Saucony event - The Saucony Shoe Demo and Which Way 5k on Wednesday, June 24th.  It's like a choose-you-own-adventure run!  How awesome is that?!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reasons to Love Summer Running

For the Summer Soulstice race giveaway, I asked you to tell me what your favorite thing is about summer running.  Here is what some readers had to say:

  • I love night running, so summer makes perfect weather for that. The sunset doesn't hurt, either. (T.C. Glotfelty)
  • Less clothes and the runners tan. (It's me!)
  • Less guesswork as to what you should wear to's almost always: shoes, socks, shorts, and shirt! (RunDBrown)
  • Seeing all my neighbors (who were hibernating) while out running! It's so fun to catch up! (Jennifer Perkins)
  • Green grass, flowers, running through the occasional sprinkler and wearing less clothes. (Orangemoon23)
  • It feels new--new races, new friends, new routes, new shoes. I look forward to exploring through running! (JulieB)

Why do I love summer running?  My list includes:

  • Catching a cool breeze while running on the Detroit Riverwalk
  • Finding shade, solace, and maybe a deer or two on the Rouge River Gateway Trail in Dearborn
  • Running exclusively in tank tops and Lululemon shorts
  • Seeing more runners out and about to wave to, smile at, or say hi to (and see how many respond - it's a sociological experiment)

Rouge River Gateway Trail (photo courtesy of Brian Wolski)

I have to say, however, that my friend Megan summed it up best in her Facebook post.  (She is a teacher also.)  I couldn't have said it better myself so I will copy her words and share them with you.

It's summer, and you know what that means...we can run WHENEVER we want, WHEREVER we want!!! (Megan)

Happy summer, happy running.  Enjoy every moment.

Southfield Summer Soulstice Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the Southfield Summer Soulstice giveaway!  I loved reading everyone's comments about why they love to run in the summer.  I used to choose a winner.  

This will be Kimberly's first race ever!  Congratulations Kimberly!

Please email me at to claim your race entry. 

Happy summer running everyone!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Soulstice Giveaway

It's time for another giveaway, courtesy of my friends at RUNdetroit!  I've got a free entry to the Southfield Summer Soulstice 5K/10K on Saturday, June 20th.  This race is unique because it takes place at sunset.  Stick around after the race for music, food trucks, and Michigan craft beer.  It sounds like a great time!  I'll be running the 10K.

Full details can be found at

For a chance to win, leave a comment below telling me what you love most about running during the summer.

Winner will be chosen Friday morning.  Please check back to see if you won.  Good luck!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Post-Run Rehydration

I'm normally very good with staying hydrated.  Due to humid weather and some recent end of the school year (ahem) indulging, I've been a bit dehydrated.  Even though the weather was cool and the humidity was down, I was feeling the effects of that yesterday after finishing my long run.  Instead of turning toward my usual post-run oatmeal, I found myself craving a cool and creamy green smoothie.  Thankfully I had a couple of bananas tucked away in my freezer.  What's a smoothie without frozen bananas?  I just needed to grab a couple of things at the corner farm market, toss it all in the Vitamix, and I was good to go!

Post-Run Summer Smoothie
(print recipe)


1 bag baby spinach, rinsed
1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into chunks
Mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2 frozen bananas


1. Blend spinach, pineapple, and mango in blender* until liquified.
2. Add frozen banana until creamy and smooth.  Do not over-blend.

*High-powered blender, such as Vitamix does the job well!  If you have a regular blender you may need to add water to get it to blend.

Serves 2.  Or one very hungry and dehydrated runner!

On the Run: DX-A2 1/2 Marathon 2015

Last Sunday was my post-injury half marathon debut.  Although it was 4th time racing the Dexter-Ann Arbor half and my 22nd half marathon, I was anxious.  Anxious about anything and everything.

  • Hamstring:  It's not 100% pain-free and I wasn't sure what the combination of 13 miles, hills, and increased pace would do to it.
  • Pace:  Could I handle the pace I've been working on during speed work for the duration of the race?  My 9k on Memorial Day was hard and that was less than half the distance.
  • Fuel:  I'm finding that my fueling needs have changed since I've started racing again.  What used to sustain me for a 5k or 10k just isn't enough.  I needed to figure out a plan for 13 miles so I didn't bonk.
  • Weather:  As if all that wasn't enough to worry about, the forecast changed from 60 degrees and sunny to 50 degrees and 100% chance of rain.  

To help set my mind at ease, I talked through pacing with Coach Terra earlier in the week.  My bestie Megan helped me figure out fueling.  My hamstring was going to be a nagging issue but I could push through for the race.

That left the rain.  I don't mind running in the rain but I wasn't looking forward to the combination of wind, chilly temps, and 13 miles.  I texted Terra the day before and told her as much.  Her response was just what I needed to hear: "You are Detroit Tough.  Face it and embrace it."  Face it and embrace it.  Hmmm...  I liked that.  I was going to use that as my mantra when the going got tough.

Saturday evening when I made my playlist, I put a few special rain-themed songs on it.  I made my chia pudding and added some PB2 for an extra boost.  I laid out my gear, including two CLIF Shots.  I was still a bit jittery but not as nervous as I'd been.  Everything would fall into place.

Race day dawned just as dark and rainy as predicted.  As he always does, Brian drove me to the staging area in Dexter so I didn't have to take a bus from Ann Arbor.  (The course is not looped.)  It was pouring and he kept asking if I still wanted to run it.  I knew he was worried about me but I was ready.  After months of base-training, speed work, and long runs, there was no way I was going to let a little rain stop me from seeing what my hamstring could do.  With a valet stop at the port-a-potty and a kiss good-bye, I ran into the school to stay dry for as long as I could.  

While I waited, I passed the time in a bathroom line talking to a really friendly girl.  Then I found my RUNdetroit friends in the gym and Coach Geo from Detroit Tough.  I did some run drills (high knees, walking lunge with twist, drinking bird) instead of a warm-up mile.  During the National Anthem I finally went outside to wait in the rain.  I found the 1:35 pace team and decided to run with them.  I needed some company, at least for a while.

By the time the race started I was wet enough that it didn't seem bad anymore.  Once I hit the first puddle I was set.  Face it and embrace it.  It was a medium steady rain, never a downpour, and actually kept my body temperature cool enough throughout the race.  All in all it turned out to be much better than expected.

I was running slightly behind the pacers, making sure to stick with them.  I was trying to keep my head in the game, not worrying about how many miles were ahead of me.  One mile at a time; run each one and forget about it.  (More words of wisdom from Coach Terra.)  After turning onto Huron River Drive about 3 miles in, the group spread out a bit. One of the pacers asked me if I was going to pace the group because I seemed fast.  I explained that I was going to hang with them for a while and not try to push the pace.  We got to talking about different races and ran together for a couple of miles.  It was nice to have someone to talk to for a while.  There were also two girls near the pace group that I chatted with a bit.  They were keeping a good pace but accelerating a bit.  At one point I told them my goal was to stay with them or at least keep them in my sights!

I stayed with the pace group for maybe the first 5-6 miles before gradually starting to pick it up a bit.  I didn't get that far ahead because for a while I could still hear the pacer shouting out the splits at each mile.  He had them slightly ahead each time.  I took my gel around 5.5, drank a cup of water at mile 6.  I started to worry because I still had more than half the race to go.  Then I thought about those first 6 miles . . . and I put them behind me.  They were done.  I felt a renewed push and ran on, feeling stronger.  

My hamstring started talking to me at mile 8 but it was manageable.  When I got to mile 10 and there was only 5k left, I really tried to focus on looking forward, staying strong, not worrying about the Garmin.  The next mile went by pretty easily that way.  I chicked a couple of dudes and caught back up to one of the two girls who had been running in the pace group (one was way out of sight).  At the mile 12 water station someone shouted out, "Vegan runner!" which totally made my day!

Coming up off of Huron River Drive onto Main Street is a sizable hill, which I handled pretty well.  I probably used up more energy on that and in the next half mile, however, because by the time I neared the finish I didn't have much left for a final push.  One of the girls that I'd been going back and forth with and had passed before that big hill caught up to me in the final stretch and beat me in the end.  I sure wouldn't have done as well overall without her and we congratulated each other at the finish.  There were a few guys that had been near us that all had similar comments, as well.  I love the camaraderie at this race.  

As soon as I got my medal I looked up to see Brian waiting for me.  By then the rain had just about stopped.  He snapped this picture of me.  You can't fake this happiness!

We hurried over to where the RUNdetroit cheering section was to see Coach Geo finish, along with the rest of the RUNdetroit Flight Club.  I was in such a rush to get over there I forgot to grab a post-race banana!  

I finally had to go get changed into dry clothes (complete change in the car) and then I went down the street to Starbucks for my usual post-race Starbucks coffee and oatmeal.  I seriously run for coffee!

I was so proud of myself for finishing at the goal Terra and I had set.  I'd stuck to my pacing plan, run a negative split, fueled properly, and most importantly raced with happy legs and a happy heart!  



Chia pudding & banana (pre-race) CLIF Shot (mile 5.5)

Caught in the Rain / Preston School of Industry
Back to the Shack / Weezer
Last Raindrop / Fitz & the Tantrums
You Called Me / Mayor Hawthorne
All About That Bass / Meghan Trainor
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters
Believer / American Authors
Sorry I Stole Your Man / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Shut Up and Dance / WALK THE MOON
Rainy Taxi / Spoon
I Bet My Life / Imagine Dragons
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
Move Like You Stole It / ZZ Ward
Only Happy When it Rains / Garbage
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
Cheer Up Boys (Your Make Up Is Running) / Foo Fighters
One Engine / The Decemberists
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Set Fire to the Rain / Adele

Previous DX-A2 race recaps:

Have you run a rainy race?  How did it go?