Crazy…..Crazy Awesome!

Well from the responses I got the other day about runners being crazy, I think the general consensus is that we are all most definitely crazy.  It seems that our friends and family all tolerate our craziness and a lot of us have significant others who see us out the door with a warning not to do something stupid.  Although as I mentioned to one of my favorite bloggers over at 278 to Boston, I don’t think they really understand what “not doing something stupid” really means to us.  In the midst of a long run very few things seem stupid, except for possibly stopping to pet a bear.  I myself have done many an incredibly stupid thing on a long run that seemed to make absolute sense at the time.  For example there was that 10 miler that I decided to turn into 23 with no fuel or plan in mind or when I had that great idea for my husband’s first race to be a trail run up Bear Mountain.  Oops.

A few days ago my husband went on a mission to find a new pair of running sunglasses.  While he was in the store he realized that the case to the glasses was open so he started trying on various pairs.  A short while later he felt a pair of eyes staring over his shoulder and found an employee watching him like a hawk.  He suddenly realized he probably shouldn’t have helped himself to the glass case without asking and apologized to the employee.  Despite the fact that he was in NYC which is sometimes notorious for having “slightly” rude sales people the guy told him it was no big deal but that he was going to hang behind him, “Just in case.”

When he told me this story later that night I thought about it for awhile and had an interesting thought.  I know that many stores have a certain percentage of stock that they assume will show up missing.  Sadly, there are a lot of dishonest people out there and products get stolen or damaged.  I didn’t do any research on this but I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of things stolen is much less in running stores.  Call me crazy but the way I see it, as a whole we are a pretty stand up group.

Charlevoix

I would be willing to bet that if I left a shirt or hat at the start of a race and came back later, there would be a very good chance that it would still be there waiting for me.

Generally speaking, there is a real sense of community among runners.  There is a respect that is shared amongst each other.  We respect how hard the sport is regardless of how far or fast someone goes.  We respect different styles of runners and shapes and sizes.  Usually we are just proud to have these people as part of our community.  And most runners wouldn’t want to lose that respect by taking something they knew wasn’t theirs.  It is after all a small world.

There are thousands of people who put themselves through the rigors of half and full marathon training to help a charity and on top of that they raise thousands of dollars for those causes.  They enlist family and friends to volunteer at aid stations and give up their weekends and social lives to train

Look at the Meg’s Miles community on Facebook.  When Meg was tragically struck by a car and passed away last year, thousands of people who did not know her rallied to do a virtual run in her honor.  Today there are still thousands of members on the Meg’s Miles Facebook page who run miles for her and find inspiration in her memory.  Hundreds of them donated shoes last year to create a memorial that was made for her near the start of the Boston Marathon.  Kel Kelly created the memorial, and although she never met Meg, she felt compelled to create something for all of the athletes to see as they began the 26.2 mile trek.

MegsSolesOfLove

A few years ago I was running along the East River in New York when I came upon a hectic scene.  A man had jumped into the river and was drowning.  Dozens of runners immediately stopped and went into action to try and help this man.  It was such a scary scene but I couldn’t believe how many people were quick to jump into action.  In fact, the first person there was a mom pushing her toddler in a stroller.  Talk about brave!

One of the greatest places that you can see this runner awesomeness is at races.  It was the New York City Marathon that first sparked my return to running.  To run in a race and see people cheering you on regardless of your pace is such an uplifting feeling.  On the flipside, being able to stand on the sidelines and cheer runners on can bring tears to your eyes.

This past weekend I had the chance to run the Boston 13.1 and experience all of the fans and cheering from the side.  During the hardest parts of a race, when you start to question if you will make it or if you truly are insane, those cheers can be the determining factor of your successful finish.  And then I was able to swing back towards to the course and watch as other runners continued filing through the finish.  People cheering for loved ones and strangers at the same time, the college kids who took life sized cutouts of their friend’s head and put it on popsicle sticks, and the older woman who shouted to every single runner, “You are almost thay-ah.”  Top that off by watching as those same runners who were struggling towards the finish were also the first to coax others along as they questioned whether they too would make it.  Ever watch an athlete help carry a peer across the finish line? That is what makes running so special.

LifeIsBetter

You are all awesome!

My apologies to my buddy Zach, I short changed him on his race time.  I said he ran a 2:25 but he actually ran a 2:23!  That is seven minutes faster than his last.  Go Zach!

Boston 13.1 With The Team

Happy Monday!  I am still flying high and exhausted from an incredible weekend in Boston.  We got up bright and early on Saturday morning to take a train from Penn Station to Boston.  Upon our arrival we hooked up with Zach and went to packet pickup for the Boston 13.1 race.  Some of you may remember that Zach was fundraising this past summer for MDA Team Momentum in order to run with our charity.  He is a great kid and of course did a lot of work to help the team out.

After picking up our packets we all went and did some wandering (and shopping) on Newbury Street.  I am absolutely in love with Boston and if my family wasn’t all in the Midwest, it would be very tempting to live in this beautiful city for awhile.  The architecture and landscaping are so beautiful, the people are so nice, and everything is so open and clean.  Shopping on Newbury Street is like wandering Madison Avenue in NYC but a bit more eclectic and the stores tend to be much more friendly.

Boston7

After our shopping adventure we went to the MDA Team Momentum pasta dinner.  Let me tell you, they did a great job hosting this event.  As we entered the venue we were greeted by cheerleaders.  I have a feeling Zach didn’t mind that warm welcome!  There was a delicious and healthy meal followed by some great inspirational speakers ranging from fellow teammates, MDA employees, as well as some of the very people who are living with muscle disease that we are working so hard to help.

Then it was off to bed in anticipation of another early wake up.  I seriously don’t know what I am going to do with myself when marathon training is over and my weekends don’t consist of waking up at 4:45am.

Last week I decided to secure a bib for the Boston 13.1 thinking that I might run with my husband and Zach.  But they have been training together and what teenager wants an old lady like me tagging along?  So I made the decision to go ahead and run the race by myself.  Then I could be at the finish to cheer on the boys as well as a few of my own Chicago marathon athletes who were also running Boston.

Sunday was beautiful but a bit chilly and windy.  Ugh wind!  Team Momentum was meeting at 6:00am and then taking off together for the race but we ran into one minor snafu on.  Saturday night we called Starbucks and made sure they would be open early the following morning.  The girl on the phone reassured my husband that, “Yes sir we open at 5:30am every day.”  Imagine his surprise when he goes down there only to see that they open every day at 6:00am.  So he waited and got us our coffee (only to find when he arrived back in the hotel lobby that they had Starbucks ready for us).  We aren’t picky about many things, but coffee is a serious must for us in the morning.  So we had our coffee and went to meet Zach and head to the race.

Boston4

Boston6

We were pleasantly surprised to pull up to the start to see that it was at Suffolk Downs racetrack.  What a cool venue!  Even better, it was great to have a spot to wait indoors while we stood in our short shorts in 50ºF weather with chilly winds.  And what runner doesn’t love having real plumbing at the start of a race?!

As a tradition before any start of a race, my husband and I kissed each other good luck.  He took off with Zach and the rest of the team to their start area and I headed to hang out in the corrals.  It has been a long time since I ran a half and since I have been busy training other runners and dealing with my injury, I had not trained for this race.  Before I even started I picked a goal finis time.

When the gun went off I felt pretty good but forced myself to keep a nice even pace.  It felt so awesome to be on a course with fellow runners again.  I ran my first mile just a tad faster than I had planned on.  As the miles continued it seemed that I kept a steady and comfortable pace as we ran along the beach.  The course was absolutely beautiful; windy, but beautiful!  As the miles clicked by I allowed myself to slightly change my game plan and run a bit faster than I had a planned.  I had assessed the situation and I was feeling strong and my breathing felt even and steady.

The best part of the event was that the Boston 13.1 is an official MDA Team Momentum sponsored race.  I was there on unofficial business and was running “incognito.”  It was so fantastic to see our team members  cheering each other on along the course and seeing their presence throughout the race.  Their brightly colored shirts made it easy to spot them.  Halfway through I saw my husband and Zach cruising along and high fiving other team members they didn’t even know.  I truly think having the team camaraderie was a huge help for Zach.

I finished much stronger than I had planned on and even set a new personal record.  I give much of the credit to the great weather and beautiful flat course.

I got the chance to turn around and cheer on Zach as well as a few other team members.  It was such  great reminder of how wonderful the racing atmosphere is.  It doesn’t matter what your pace is.  Everyone is proud to see fellow runners out there on the course.

I was so proud of Zach and his new personal best of 2:25!  He shaved a good 5 minutes off of his last half marathon.  Way to go Zach!  And congrats to all of the Team Momentum members who ran, including Amy and Erin who also set PR’s yesterday!

Boston3

If you are thinking about doing a half or full marathon by either running or doing a run/walk plan I would love to share with you all of the benefits of joining our team!

Boston

 

Admit It-Aren’t We All Just A Little Crazy?

A few weeks ago I was at a meeting when someone said something that had us all cracking up.  She is currently training for her 23rd marathon and said that she prefers to do her training on her own.  She lives quite a distance from her training group and she said that her husband thinks she is crazy for doing all of this.  Therefore she runs close to home so that she isn’t away even longer than she already is with all of the training.  That makes her training more tolerable for the both of them.

The idea that her husband thinks her marathon training is crazy made us all laugh because it was pretty funny.  I think we were also all secretly laughing because we completely understand.  Most of us have significant others, family members, and/or friends who think we are slightly mad for our running habits.  Most people think of running as a punishment.  There’s the sweat, the side stitches, and as a few of my athletes have recently noticed, lost toe nails just don’t seem to grow back like they used to.

But they love us and laugh at our early morning antics, strange eating habits and massive amounts of hydration, then hand us a towel when we come home all sweaty (and stinky).

Years ago when I really got into running and began logging much longer mileage my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, had a chat with me.  He said he couldn’t understand why I had taken my running to the level I had and that although he enjoyed running, he would never understand why I chose to do exactly what I was doing.  I remember him telling me that he would accept that I enjoyed it and that running made me happy but he still found the whole thing to be a bit nuts. It was a legitimate comment and concern.

However, yesterday I sat here in our apartment after my 9 mile run and waited for him to arrive back from his 22 miler!  It is a strange addiction this running thing.  Once I crossed him over to the dark side he became a lean, mean running machine….and a certified running coach too! And one month from today he will be running his second marathon.

Help

What the woman said in the meeting that had us all laughing is completely fair.  We are slightly crazy and those around us probably do worry about our sanity at times.  Even I cringe on Saturday mornings as I watch men with bloody nipples trudge along.  I get countless e-mails about painful injuries or nagging aches that runners hope to find a cure for but are not going to let a little tendonitis get in their way.  “Shin splints?  I won’t feel them after the first 5 miles!” We happily put our bodies through the wringer and for a what, a free t-shirt to commemorate running as fast as we can possibly make ourselves go until we either cross the finish line or we pass out? Sounds like a blast. Sign me up!

Personally I really enjoy this version of crazy that I live in.  As many people mentioned in the comments from my post yesterday we live in a really great community.  Runners are a fun and “special” breed.  I suppose birds of a feather truly do flock together and I am so glad you are all along to run this crazy life with me.

Einstein

Go Ahead And Have Some Fun On The Run

Greetings from NYC!  We are back for another session of sports classes in the park and it feels great to be here.  The air is crisp, there are leaves on the ground, and the sun is shining.  After a flight cancellation yesterday morning I made it to New York just in time to join my husband for a pre-kindergarten flag football class.  Fortunately this is just about where my skill set lies with football, at the pre-kindergarten level.  But it was a great reminder of just how fun it is to work with children and sports.

After our class I rolled my luggage for 20 blocks to our new, miniature, pad for the next few weeks.  Of course the first thing I did was throw on some running clothes and take off.  I started out running up the East River and then took a turn west until I made it to the top of Central Park.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go for the run but I had 9 miles in mind.  So I headed down the west side of the park.

If you have never run in Central Park before, let me tell you that it is hilly.  And if you have ever run in Chicago, it isn’t hilly.  Last time I was in New York was in the spring and I was injured.  So it has been a long time since I ran any of these hills.  I decided to take it easy but as I started running I felt great!  In fact, I was beginning to feel like my old running self.  As I approached my first major uphill portion of the park I fell into a nice pace and began to pass a guy.  He was a strong runner but I felt like my pace was definitely stronger.  I could have kept going but I felt good where I was and I was breathing at a nice even rate.

Pictures don't do bobcat hill justice.

Pictures don’t do Bobcat Hill justice.

(Come to think of it, Piratebobcat should have a statue there for sure!)

As I passed him, he did that annoying thing that all drivers do in the passing lane and sped up.  So I pushed it a bit and made it around him.  About a half mile later he came flying by me and then settled in just in front of me.  I looked at my watch and I was running a nice even 8:00min/mile on the hills and that was a great pace for me to finally be back to.  So I relaxed and let him stay in front and tried to ignore him.  But I could sense that he was occasionally checking to see where I was in his “rear view mirror.”

He wasn’t being a jerk, or trying to race.  In fact, it was a silent acknowledgement from both of us that we were running strong and keeping each other at a good steady speed.  I stayed behind and occasionally got closer and he would push a bit more to keep his lead.

Of course, for the first time in years one of my shoes (that I double knotted) came undone.  I had to stop and a part of me was worried that he would gain a larger gap and perhaps he might turn to think that he had left me in his dust!  But I darted ahead and ended up close to where I had been.

Somewhere on the Upper East Side of the city he slowed and came to a finish but as he did he turned and gave me a nod and a wave. I waved back and continued on my way back to where I had started.  It was a really nice feeling.  It was a pleasant reminder that as a whole most of us in the running community are really great people and despite the fact that we want to be in front come race day, we also have a great ability to cheer each other on and hope for the best.

I have no idea who that guy was and I am pretty sure he doesn’t read this blog.  But his friendly nod, and helpful push on that run meant a lot to me.  I finally ran at a pace near what I was doing last year at the peak of my marathon training.  I felt like myself as my legs burned on those hills.  I felt like a running badass!  And honestly, we all should feel like running badasses at many points in our training.

It was a great reminder that we don’t have to always race to enjoy what running has to offer.  Whether it is a group run, or speed work, or doing fartleks; it is important to find a way to get back to what it really is that we love about this sport.  Find a way to do a run where you just enjoy the essence of the run.

Now those are some pretty cool superheroes.

Now those are some pretty cool superheroes.

On a side note, I have randomly signed up for my first race since a 15K I did last summer.  I did it on a whim because my husband and his student Zach are running the Boston 13.1 for Team Momentum this weekend.  Since I am going to be there to cheer them and everyone else from Team Momentum on, I thought it would be fun to go ahead and run the half myself.  I am looking forward to joining a race again for myself and hopefully just running it for the love of running and not trying to kill myself.

This weekend I will desperately try to find the fun in just being on the course of a race and not racing! I hope you are finding the fun in your run too!

Honest Workouts

A few weeks ago I was out doing a long run on my own and as the miles passed by and I looked at my watch I was getting more and more frustrated.  I just couldn’t understand why my speed wasn’t coming back after my injury.  I had been running for almost two months since my return and although my speed had somewhat improved I was still 30-45 seconds off from the pace I was used to.

That was when it clicked.  Just as a few months ago I posted about dieting honestly, I wasn’t being completely honest with my training.  On one hand my Achilles isn’t quite healed up enough to do speed work but at the same time when I was doing my runs I was never pushing myself past that threshold that would help improve my speed.  While I was being honest with myself I had to admit that a part of me didn’t want to endure the pain that comes with picking the speed up a bit…..which is partially fair because hey it has been ridiculously humid, and who wants to pick up the pace through that?!

Doing long slow distance runs will help improve your endurance, a key component to improving your running especially as you begin or come back from an injury.  But unless you do speed work, it is unlikely that your speed will improve.  It is essential to really tapping into any potential speed you have.  While speed work can be “fun” it is truly hard and most people either hate it or have a love/hate relationship with it.  I fit into the love/hate category.

As you probably already know if you have been around this blog for awhile I am a pretty Type A person.  When I get a speed workout plan I follow it from start to finish.  If you tell me to run 7:30 min/mile pace for 5 minutes I will run that as close to pace as possible for 5 minutes not a second more or a second less.  I am a coach’s dream and worst nightmare.  They don’t have to worry about my accountability but they do have to worry about my sanity.  The fact that I don’t budge can often make those work outs pretty hard and I can dread them before I even get started.  However, when they are done and I have finally caught my breath, I feel incredible and am flying high on endorphins.

When I talked about dieting or eating honestly I mentioned that sometimes I overindulge and then get on the scale the following day and shrug my shoulders and say, “I just don’t know why I gained,” or  “I don’t understand why the scale isn’t budging.”  I realized over time that there isn’t some real mystery to weight gain for me.  It was all about being honest with myself.  Typically I eat really well but I have a hard time putting the fork down when something tastes delicious.  Being honest with portion size is key for me.

As a runner I know that sticking to a training plan and doing my speed work are the key components to getting my speed back to where I want it to be.  I really want to try and qualify for Boston again but until my body is fully healed and I am ready to tackle those workouts I will have to stick to just getting back to 100% and enjoying my long runs.

So what can you do if you are not my crazy Type A personality?  There are a lot of options to help you train honestly.

This coach looks ready to lead some speed workouts!

This coach looks ready to lead some speed workouts!

The first option is to work with a running coach.  Although this option is likely the most expensive, there are affordable ways to make this work for you.  You will get the benefits of having a personalized plan made just for you as opposed to group training that may be more of a cookie cutter fit.  Keep in mind that working one on one with a running coach is great for a person who can hold themselves accountable to sticking with the plan and prefers to do most of the training on their own.

There are also a lot of groups to run with.  These can range from free groups at local running stores to running clubs and teams that you will have to pay for.  Here in the Chicago area there are several running clubs that you can sign up for a fee and train with.  These clubs offer coaching and training plans as well as pacing options.  If you are looking for some coaching assistance but also want the group experience this is a great option.

Chicago also has several running stores that offer group runs on a weekly basis.  Fleet Feet does an incredible job of offering runs and clinics to the community.  They have several locations throughout the city and have runs almost every night of the week at various stores as well as weekend runs too.  During the summer and fall months they also have aid stations along the Lakefront Path for athletes in training.  Almost all of their runs are free and they even do a pint night once a month where they buy you a beer if you come along on the run.  I have been to their Wednesday night Chick’s Night and had a really great time running with some really awesome women.  Note that they also let you keep track of your miles at Chick’s Night and you can earn free running swag.  Bonus!

Whatever it takes to help you stick to a plan and be honest with your training is going to make you a stronger runner in the long run.  There are so many options available to most athletes through both local and virtual assistance.  Finding a way to make yourself accountable and honest with your training is key to enjoying continued improvement.

Trust Your Training

You’ve been working hard for weeks, perhaps even months, and your fall marathon is looming in the horizon.  You have multiple friends who are experienced endurance athletes and as you approach the big day they start handing out all sorts of advice and ideas for your training.  Before you know it you are wearing new shorts, trying new shoes, and changing your training routine so that you can finish just like they did.

No!

Noooo!!!!  It’s like a coach’s worst nightmare.

The other day I was sitting in a meeting at the Bank of America building where the discussion was centered around the upcoming Chicago Marathon.  We are just weeks away and the last piece of advice given by one of the directors was, “Encourage your athletes to stick to their routine.”  Now is not the time to start experimenting.

For months I have emphasized the importance of figuring out what works for you.  What kind of foods can you eat the morning before a long run?  How long does it take before your stomach is working properly and you can head out the door?  Which sports bra can you wear for 20 miles without chafing up a storm?

By now you will have spent months running and hopefully following a training plan.  You will have logged hundreds of miles and turned yourself into a running machine.

As much as the running component is important for your training, so is figuring out what the perfect combination is with the other elements.  It is a tricky thing to figure out too.  I had one athlete recently tell me that although she has loved eating a certain type of fuel on her runs, she discovered that on really long runs she will find herself stranded in the bathroom.  She switched to Gu and her long runs go much more smoothly now.  It took her a few weeks but now she has a plan of action and will use the Gu on race day.

Earlier this year I made the mistake of buying a pair of shoes that “looked” fun and later ended up with a serious Achilles injury.  It was silly mistake on my part.  So you can imagine how bummed I was to hear that another athlete took the recommendation of an ultra running friend and switched to their preferred shoes with just a few weeks left in training.  He complained of nagging pain in his Achilles area that wouldn’t go away.  All I could tell him to do was put those new shoes aside and go back to his “plain old pair.”  Although those shoes helped his friend run ultras, they weren’t the perfect choice for this particular race.  His friend might also have a different build as well as a different gait, and likely trains in a different manner.  All of these factors can affect which type of shoe you should be running in.

It is important to remember that when you first set out on this journey you had a plan.  Hopefully you found a trusted training plan or had someone help set you up with something that would work for you.  Training plans vary and it is important from the start that your plan fits you as an athlete, just like your shoe should fit your foot.  Your plan should be made with your level of fitness in mind, the amount of time you can commit, the amount of miles your body can handle without injury, as well as your own personal goals for a particular race.

TrustYourTraining

One of our athletes set out an a 22 mile run this past weekend and several people asked why she had that in her plan when many others only have a 20 miler as their longest.  While many people are running their first marathon, this particular athlete is on an advanced plan for a different race and is hoping to qualify for Boston.  In my opinion a 22 mile long run isn’t always necessary in marathon training, especially for beginners or first time marathoners.  Some coaches don’t even have a 20 mile run in their plans.  I personally prefer the 22 mile long run as part of my marathon training but wouldn’t necessarily put it on most training plans unless I felt it was truly appropriate.

It would be tempting for some athletes to see a girl take off on a 22 mile run and think that they might also need to do that in order to finish.  A fellow runner might tell you that they added speed work to their weekly schedule to help them qualify for Boston, but that might not be necessary if you are running with the goal of simply finishing your first marathon.

The best thing you can do for yourself if you have a good plan from the beginning is to trust your training.  Before you start out make sure you have a plan that is appropriate for you.  Stick to that plan, accommodate for injuries or other factors, and continue on the path you set out on.  Don’t allow other people’s well intentioned helpful hints or ideas throw you off of your course.

Source: barefootjouney.org

Source: barefootjouney.org

A good training plan should be periodized.  There should be weeks of building as well as weeks where your mileage scales back.  As important as the weeks of building are, your body relies on the scale back weeks just as much.  This is where your body repairs and recovers and prepares for the next step.  Just as climbers work their way up Mt. Everest, they stop at base camps and don’t simply climb straight to the top.  Remind yourself of the importance of these shorter mileage weeks when you are tempted to throw a few extra miles into that long run.  Remember that there is a reason why you have a shorter long run that week and that it is part of the grand plan.

Remember, smart and steady will help you complete your race.  Once you cross the finish line you can start experimenting if you must.

 

Long Weekend

Oh my goodness.  I can’t believe it has been almost a week since I posted!  That is not like me, but we went up to Northern Michigan for an extended holiday weekend and between spotty internet and having a great time I just didn’t post.

We took off on Thursday, drove up and made it there by late afternoon.  The first thing we did was go for a run, of course.  The best part of this was that in Chicago we have been dealing with crazy amounts of humidity and it has just been dragging everyone down.  My miles have been ticking out but ever so slowly.  However, on Thursday’s run we were literally going a minute per mile faster than back in Chicago.

I am constantly reminding runners that humidity takes everything out of you, more so than even the most suppressive heat.  But this was a great reminder.  With my husband at my side we ran 7 smooth and strong miles finishing with a 7:30 mile, my strongest since coming back from this nagging injury.  It felt fantastic and it was a great way to boost my confidence.  Humidity will slow you down.  Be patient and went it disappears you will be just as strong, if not stronger.

After our run we got to go to the Blazer Bash, the welcome back party for students in my hometown.  Last year my husband dressed up as a cow to help promote a series of trail races to support the track and cross country teams.  If you live in the area check out this link for the annual Tough Udder (that is not a misspelling).

ToughUdder

You can sign up here.

On Saturday my husband needed to do a 16 mile run.  It was pouring out and we drove to my parents while we tried to figure out where to go.  Finally we took off and decided to head towards our house, which I figured was 16ish miles away.  Let me tell you.  This was one rough run!  It was by far the most humid conditions I have ever ran in.  It was also very muddy and a few detours that I took us on happened to be dirt roads.  I also managed to get us slightly lost.  The route also consisted of some of the largest hills we have ever had to do as well.  Top that off with the trip ending up being 15.2 miles and we finished with an annoying and painful .4 miles out and back from our house.

It was arguably one of the hardest runs either of us has done.  Between the mud, humidity and then the crazy hills, it was nearly as hard as our last marathon.  There was also a lot of wildlife and road kill that kept us on our toes!  Our shoes were so wet with sweat after this run that they didn’t dry out for 3 days, even with a fan blowing directly on them.  Gross!

We had a great time dining out with some of my childhood friends and also hit the casino where I was a big winner.  Yep, I won $8 on the penny slots.  Big spender over here.

On our last run we went into Grayling Michigan which is home to the nation’s largest National Guard training camp as well as a famous annual canoe marathon and Hartwick Pines State Park.  This small town has a perfectly paved path that goes all the way from town back to Hartwick Pines which is a beautiful park full of Michigan’s state tree, the white pine.

My husband had speed work on his training plan so the path was the perfect place to go.  It is nice and flat and weaves in and out of the woods alongside the road.  I was again having a nice and speedier run so I didn’t stop to take pictures.  But I did come across one of the funnier signs I have ever seen on my running route.  A sign for tanks crossing.

TankCrossing

Our weekend adventure ended with just one slight hiccup.  On our final evening of the summer we had just set a nice fire in the fireplace and I had poured myself a  glass of wine when I started to hear a lot of noise in the bathroom.  Apparently a pipe or a valve or something in the wall decided to burst and water came flowing out of places in the shower that it shouldn’t be.  To top it off, the laundry room decided to start dripping from hidden places.  Yikes!  We managed to shut off all of the water to our house just in time and fingers are crossed that the plumber finds an easy solution.

All in all it was a great time up north.  We had a great time with our friends and family and I am already looking forward to next summer!  I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend.