Running Myself Into a Wall and Then Climbing Dunes

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I apologize for my blogging hiatus for a few days.  I was having so much fun on vacation that I decided to forego the computer for the last few days.  It may have also had to do with the state of exhaustion I put myself in as well.

Two of my favorite things to do when I am on vacation is run in new places and over indulge on delicious food and a few cocktails.  Usually when I am away I tend to combine these two activities.  I love running in new places and to me it is the perfect way to try and sweat off my less than stellar decisions in the food and beverage department.  This can be a slippery slope sometimes because long runs make me rungry!

After a dreary and rainy day on Tuesday I woke up on Wednesday ready to set the world on fire.  There was a brand new bike path that just opened up in Glen Arbor and I decided that I was going to use the Heritage Trail to go on a nice long run.  Thus began a day of making some really dumb decisions.  Yes, even we running coaches make rookie mistakes.


As I was prepping to leave some family members asked me how far I was going to go.  I said that I figured it would be about 12-13 miles.  Bam.  First dumb mistake.  I didn’t have a real game plan.  I had looked at the bike map and did a quick mental guess of how far I thought it was from our house to the next town.  The map wasn’t drawn to scale and it didn’t account for where I was starting from.  Normally I would get online and plan it out so that I knew where exactly it started and ended and what to expect along the way.  I should have known right then that it wouldn’t end well……

As I was about to leave I made just about the only smart decision I would make all day.  First I always wear my RoadID and carry my SPIbelt.  I had also thrown a twenty dollar bill and a few ones in just in case.  But as I headed to the door I figured it might be wise to take some sort of fuel with me.  Usually when I go for runs under 15 miles I do okay without any fuel and can manage runs under 12 miles without stopping for water.  But somehow I figured that it might be good to have something just in case.

I hadn’t planned on doing a long run on vacation so I didn’t bring any fuel with me.  I scoured the house and finally came up with the best option on hand.  Fruit snacks!  A big thanks to my nieces!!

Now that I was properly fueled I set out on my long run.  After two miles I finally hit the trail and quickly had a realization….. It was rather hilly!  For some reason when I thought “bike path” I assumed it was a rail trail.  Now this was a pretty dumb mistake too because I grew up in the area and knew this wasn’t an actual rail trail.  Somehow I just associated the notion of a bike path with rail trail.  So imagine my surprise when I started seeing signs along the path warning about 10% grade hills.  Oops.


I wish you could see the other side of that hill. It was nuts!

As I continued on this run I started to see mile markers for the nearest town and quickly realized that I was off by a good five miles in my earlier guestimate.  Admittedly I ran in denial for another mile, assuming they meant to the center of town.  But only six miles into my run I knew two things; it was at least 8 miles into town, and I was going to have to run there because even if I turned around now I wouldn’t make it home without water.

When I run in the city I rely on the luxury of water fountains or being able to pop into a store to buy a bottle of water.  Normally when I run on trails or other paths I plan my run out so that I have water at a turn around point, or bring my Simple Hydration bottle with me.  In fact, I emphasize to my runners all the time that it is hot and humid in these summer months and you must plan your hydration out.  Since I hadn’t planned on doing this run, I didn’t have a water bottle with me on vacation and would need to rely on the closest store to find hydration.

Just when I thought things were about as bad as they could be, I started to realize that the final three miles into the town of Empire were all downhill.  Sure it was fast and easy, but I knew that when I turned around I had a seriously steep climb for the first half of my return.  Once again, I was wishing that I had looked this route up on line.  Research Sarah, research!

That bottle of water I bought tasted so good, and I do have to say that fruit snacks work perfectly in a pinch.  As I stood and quickly refueled I texted my husband to tell him I was getting ready to return home.  As I headed out I passed a bike rental store and was so tempted to try and snatch one!


As for the return, you can imagine how fun those first three miles were.  I would love to say that the second half got better but the final two miles were simply ugly.  In fact, I chanted a mantra to get myself back home.  It would be awesome if I could say that it was something inspirational and empowering but I went with, “Please don’t cry.  Please don’t cry.”  I was very tempted to call for a pick up or walk the final mile but I am admittedly way too stubborn and clearly prefer to suffer.

I made it home safely and I can laugh about it now.  But there is a good lesson here.  Whenever you go for a long run there are certain preparations you should always take.  Whether you are new to the long run scene or have been doing them for years you have to respect them and remember that bad runs can sneak up on you at any moment.  Just as you might feel awful at the start of a run and have a magnificent finish, the opposite can definitely hold true.

Plan ahead and always tell someone exactly where you are going and how long you expect it to take you.  I did do both of these for the most part.  My family knew where I was going and I did text my husband with an ETA.  But if you are new to an area you should also do some research and be aware of where you are running.  I should have known just how far I was going to be traveling and what the terrain was like.  Had I known that there wasn’t water along the route I may have altered my course a bit.

Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts and always be prepared.  Pack your phone, an ID, some cash and fuel of some kind.  In a bind fruit snacks work well.

On the bright side I felt great after a shower and a sandwich.  To top the vacation off I took my husband to one of my favorite places; Pyramid Point.  This steep 3/4 of a mile climb takes you up to some of the highest dunes in the area.  From this location you can see South Manitou Island, North Manitou Island, South Fox Island, North Fox Island, a ship wreck and dozens of soaring eagles.  It is a magnificent sight!




A special shout out goes to my friend Kyle who won the Marquette 50 mile Trail Run and set a new course record.  I could learn a few things from him for sure!

17 thoughts on “Running Myself Into a Wall and Then Climbing Dunes

  1. Wow, I can’t imagine the feeling of that run. Funny, my first post in a long while and I wrote about hill runs. Not as many miles as yours though!!! I’m glad you made it back safe and had a good time! 🙂

    • Thanks. It was a good reminder for me. Our team had a 15 miler on Saturday and I wanted to do a long run on my own before. It is always humbling to have that happen and on Saturday a lot of the athletes really struggled. I was definitely able to empathize and sometimes a coach needs that 🙂 Usually I enjoy hills. This time they were unexpected….

  2. There are some great tips in there, even though some were learned the hard way! I got lost as well on a trail run this weekend. Although I did have a map, I printed it out in black and white instead of color and could not figure out how to get back to my car. So a 20 mile run turned into a 22 mile run, when the longest I had done up to that point was 17. I felt like you as well, just don’t cry!

    • Best laid plans right? I did the same thing once on a trail run with a printed map. Having gotten myself lost pretty badly I made the wise choice to turn around and make it an out and back. Glad you made it back ok and congrats on the unplanned 22!

  3. Woof girl. And especially after 0.0 miles of hills in the city, your legs were probably wrecked! Good thing your subconscious kicked in right before you left. Geez Louise!

  4. Oh my goodness that’s so crazy!! I’m glad you had those fruit snacks! I’m definitely going to have to remember that trick. I’m glad you got back to civilization safely.

    Congrats to your friend on his huge win too! That’s awesome!

  5. Haha, well I know there’s one good thing to come from all the mistakes you made – chances are you learned a lesson and won’t make them again! Is ‘please don’t cry’ the quote you have on your road id? 😉

  6. Wow … that is pretty scary stuff! So glad it turned out OK. And it is so important to learn!

    I remember my first run > 12 miles, I chose to start around 6PM, it was still 85F and humid, we’d had a long day going for a long walk and doing yardwork. I brought an 8oz bottle and no fuel, and ate very lightly because I don’t like to be full … by the time I got home I.was.a.WRECK! This was one time I clearly did NOT follow Lisa’s ‘don’t do anything stupid’ mantra … and actually where it got started. I learned so much that day …

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