Warm Up Columbus Half Marathon Recap

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There are two main reasons I ended up in Dublin, Ohio for the Warm Up Columbus Half Marathon on Sunday, February 18th. First, I was at the halfway point of training for the Glass City Marathon and Hal Higdon’s training plan calls for a half marathon race at that point. Second, there are very few half marathons around this area in the middle of February. The only half I found in Michigan was in Mt. Pleasant. That one sounds like a nice race, but a chunk of the course is on dirt roads. With all of the snow we’ve had lately, I worried that the dirt roads could be icy due to daytime thawing followed by nighttime refreezing. I came across the Columbus race when I searched for races in neighboring states. It would take 3.5-4 hours to drive there, which I considered doable. Higdon emphasizes that it’s not necessary to race a half on that specific day just because it’s on the schedule. I was curious to test my fitness level though, and hoped to turn it into a fun adventure.

I had never been to the Columbus area and didn’t know much about it. I know that it’s enemy country – home of THE Ohio State University. That meant I would NOT dare to wear any of my University of Michigan gear during the trip. Aside from that, I’d heard good things about the Columbus Zoo. Matt had to work and wasn’t available to go with me, but I was up for the solo adventure and a chance to take some fun photos.

I left home early on Saturday morning and got to the zoo before 11:00. Admission was half-off because half of the exhibits are closed during the winter. I knew to expect that, but it was still a bummer to walk past a bunch of empty exhibits. The zoo was not very busy and I’m sure the weather played a role. It was around 30°F but the real-feel was colder. I enjoyed the aquarium and reptile exhibits because I could warm up inside!




One of the polar bears was pretty active, so that was a highlight for me. 



After a couple hours, I was so cold that I reached a breaking point. I had gloves, but they weren’t thick enough and my hands were frozen. I had seen most of the open exhibits by then, so I’d had enough. I’ll have to visit the zoo again sometime when it’s warmer and all of the exhibits are open.

Early packet pickup took place at a Fleet Feet running store nearby, so I went there next. After I got my stuff, I went to see a waterfall a few minutes away from my hotel. I had checked TripAdvisor.com prior to my trip and it listed Indian Run Falls near the top of the list in Dublin, Ohio. It was beautiful! A short path through the woods takes you to various observation areas. I may have spent 20 minutes or so taking in the view from different vantage points. It had started to snow, and it made things look even more gorgeous.

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When I had almost reached my hotel, I got sidetracked when I saw a sign for an ice cream store. I hadn’t eaten much besides snacks all day so I was tempted. I had never heard of Graeter’s Ice Cream so I looked at Yelp in the parking lot before going in. It had great ratings, which was apparent when I saw the long line inside! They make their chocolate chips (more like chunks) in a special way and it tasted amazing. There are several locations around Columbus and one around Cleveland, so it will definitely be on my radar when I’m around either city in the future.

I settled at my hotel for a bit until I went out to pick up dinner. Noodles and Company is one of my standard pre-race meals and there was one close by. I spent the rest of the night relaxing while watching the Olympics.

I had chosen to stay at the host hotel which was located right by the start/finish line. There were a couple of other hotels along the street as well. Nothing beats the convenience of staying right by the starting line. We’ve done it for a few other races, and it’s always nice to have access to a real bathroom and head outside just minutes before the start of the race. I went out to my car 45 minutes early to make sure I was dressed appropriately. The snow from the night before hadn’t accumulated, but it left the roads wet. Since the temperature was around 30°F, there were a lot of slick spots. I had been debating if I could get away with shorts, but ultimately went with tights so I’d have a buffer in case I wiped out!

I went back outside 10 minutes before the start of the race and did a very short jog out on the road to test the surface. I didn’t even attempt to run in the parking lot because I slid around too much. The road wasn’t a whole lot better. There was a lack of traction in spots but I didn’t fall, so I hoped I wouldn’t during the race either.

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A unique thing about this race, which might be a deal-breaker for some, is that it involves multiple loops. One-mile loops. Around what is essentially an office park. That meant I would run the same course THIRTEEN times. I weighed the pros and cons prior to signing up. After I survived a 17-mile run on the treadmill the previous weekend, I figured I could surely handle one-mile loops.

The race offered 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon distances. A half might seem crazy enough, but looping 26 times would really be a challenge. Because the course was exactly a mile, the 5K and half runners started 0.1 miles from the finish, and the 10K and full runners started 0.2 miles back. We started three minutes before they did, so that helped stagger things a little bit. 

After some announcements, I took off with the 5K and half runners at 8:00. I remembered to hit my lap button at 0.1 miles so the splits would line up.

Photo: Robb McCormick Photography - https://www.robbmccormick.com

Race photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

The route took us counterclockwise on one side of the road past my hotel, by some office buildings, behind Graeter’s and Max & Erma’s, and by more office buildings. The highlight of the “scenery” was probably a man-made lake between office buildings.

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The course was measured from the left edge of the road, so I tried to stay there as much as I could. Traction was a bit of an issue for me for at least 2-3 loops. Every now and then I’d run along the curb where it wasn’t slippery, but it was at an angle that was not ideal for extended periods of running. Eventually the road began to dry out as people kept running on it. It helped that the sun came out as well.

I knew that congestion would be a big factor during this race. With over 400 people running the same one-mile loop on one side of the road, there’s no avoiding it. Around 100 people each ran the 5K and 10K, so a lot of the people cleared out before the later miles of my race. The half had the most people – 186 finishers. It looks like 50 people were strong enough (crazy enough?!) to run the full. There was one water/Gatorade stop just after the finish line. Of course that was the busiest area, so I really had to pay attention and dodge people there. I had my own bottle of GU Brew so I didn’t make any stops. I think one thing that distracted me from the monotony of multiple loops was constantly dodging people – and allowing myself to be dodged as well. Everyone was in it together and it’s just how it worked, so I didn’t let it bother me…aside from the one time when someone came to a dead stop in front of me at the aid station. I tried to veer away from the aid station during the following loops. It wasn’t always possible to stick to the left side of the road, but I sure tried, even if it meant running by the curb now and then as I passed people.

There weren’t any stretches of the route that bothered me, so that also helped me tolerate the loops. I noticed the wind a little bit on one stretch, but it was pretty minor. Although my watch shows that there was some change in elevation, this course was pretty much as flat as could be. No hills to dread with each loop!

The most excitement along the course occurred by the finish line. Music was playing and plenty of people gathered there to cheer. The aid station was nice and loud as well. The rest of the course was pretty mellow. A few people were scattered along the rest of the route to support friends or family members.

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For the most part, I didn’t pay much attention to the scenery. I was there to work. I didn’t have a specific goal for the race, aside from wanting to run hard. I figured at a minimum I wanted to maintain my goal marathon pace of 8:00 miles, but of course I hoped for better. The main goal was to see what I had in me halfway through my marathon training. I didn’t watch my pace too closely and mostly ran by feel. I managed to stay pretty consistent. I counted the laps and hoped I’d have it in me to pick up the pace during the later laps. 

Photo: Robb McCormick Photography - https://www.robbmccormick.com

Me in “work” mode – photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

Somehow my pace sped up gradually. I still don’t know how that just happens…but I’m glad it does! Once I counted the 10th lap, I told myself that after that lap I only had two left. I figured with less than 5K left it was “go” time. I really picked up the pace for the last couple miles, giving it everything I had left for the last mile. I was pretty tired by then and struggled a bit with fatigue. Aside from making my nose run, the temperature had been fine for me. However, the faster I ran the more I noticed that it was hard to breathe in the cold air. I pushed through and had a solid finish.

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Approaching the finish – photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

I didn’t realize that results were based on the gun time. I started about seven seconds back from the line, so the official results and my Garmin differed slightly.

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I was really happy with my time. Although it wasn’t a PR, it was the fastest half I’ve run in three years. It tells me that I’m really on track with my training.

I had to take a few minutes to recover after crossing the finish line. The cold air and my fast finish weren’t a good combo, so I had to try not to hyperventilate or have a coughing fit. Eventually I was fine.

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Water, bananas, and granola bars were supplied at the finish line. Bagels, pizza, and warm drinks were available inside the convention center part of the hotel. The pizza was really good. A couple people were available to look up results, and age group awards were on a table. I wasn’t quite speedy enough for one of those.

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Since I was done before 10:00 and checkout was at noon, I had enough time to go back to my room and shower before starting the drive home.

This is obviously not a destination kind of race. The route is not scenic or especially exciting. The name “Warm Up Columbus” mostly refers to warming up for upcoming races like Boston, the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, or in my case, Glass City. This race is great in those terms. It was well-organized and I was really happy with my experience. I might not go out of my way to run it as a goal race, but it was a great way to experience the race environment and test my current level of fitness.

This race also helped me realize what I still need to work on prior to the marathon. For one thing, the tips of my toes ended up hurting by the end of the run. They were sore, but luckily I didn’t have any blisters. When I double the distance, it could get ugly. I will try different shoes for my upcoming long runs and see if one pair is more ideal than another for longer distances.

I also need to make sure I hydrate enough. I only drank about 10 oz. of my GU Brew during the race. Just like the shoes, it worked fine for a half, but I have to make sure I drink a lot more during a marathon.

Other than that, I think I’m on track. A race calculator predicts that I can run a 3:33 marathon based on this half marathon time. I’m training for a 3:30 marathon, so I’m pretty close. I need a 3:40 to BQ, meaning I probably need at least a 3:37 to actually get into Boston. Here’s hoping the second half of training continues to go well and all of the pieces fall into place on race day.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz


Weeks 5-8 of Training for the Glass City Marathon

Another four weeks has gone by and my training continues for Toledo’s Glass City Marathon. Coping with the snow has me rethinking how smart it is to train for an early spring marathon! While the extreme cold temperatures were more of a problem the previous weeks of training, snow has been the latest issue. It requires so much extra effort to run even if there’s just a coating of snow. I run on the treadmill most of the week, so by the weekend I’m dying to get outside. When I get outside, it’s a difficult slog through the snow that makes me want to get back to the treadmill. Still, I’ve managed to train through it one way or another. Here’s how the last four weeks have gone:

Week #5

I spent a lot of time on the treadmill during the week, but I did get outside for an easy run on Wednesday. I followed up with 10 miles on the bike in the basement, but I don’t think that was the best idea. I’ve been taking Mondays or Wednesdays off of running as I’ve eased into six days of running, and this was the first week I hit six days. From this point on, I’ll probably neglect the bike until the marathon is done. I’ll maintain my swimming routine, but juggling the bike with six days of running is a bit much.

Saturday’s 7-mile run at Stony Creek Metropark was wonderful. It was 39 degrees and sunny! It’s amazing how much your mood can change when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

Sunday is when I had 14 miles on my schedule and I ran 11 miles prior to Chill at the Mills 5K – recap here.

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Chill at the Mills 5K in Rochester, MI

Totals for week #5: 36 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3.5 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions (45 minutes for one, 20 minutes for the other)

Week #6

I dropped back down to five days of running this week because I was busy one night, and it probably helped keep my legs fresh for my first big speed workout from the Hansons training plan. Their beginning marathon plan starts speed work the sixth week and I’ve chosen to incorporate their Tuesday workouts into my Higdon marathon plan. The first workout was 12x400m on the treadmill. I started the first three 400s at 10K pace and felt good, so I kept increasing my pace for each set of three until I finished the last set at 5K pace.

It was warm enough for shorts for my Saturday run! The weather has been all over the place this winter. I ran the 8-mile loop at Indian Springs Metropark, aiming to do seven of the miles at marathon pace. I was too fast by at least 10 seconds per mile. It might seem minor, but I really need to work on slowing down. If I run like that during the marathon, it’s bound to backfire in the late miles.

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Indian Springs Metropark

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Indian Springs Metropark

I had a cut-back week for my long run, so I was down to 10 miles on Sunday. It was in the 30s and most of the snow and ice had melted, so I decided to run from home while I could. I knew the snow would be back the next day and I wouldn’t be able to run around town again for a bit. It was a gorgeous day in Rochester.

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Totals for week #6: 34 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #7

Back to six days of running this week. It’s been a year since I’ve run 40+ miles in a week and it went well. I nailed another Tuesday workout on the treadmill – 8x600m repeats. Again, I started around 10K pace and kept speeding up to hit 5K pace for the last couple 600s. I also opted for the treadmill on Saturday when I had eight miles to run at marathon pace. The cold was back (real-feel in the single digits) and I did NOT feel like dealing with it. I feel comfortable at marathon pace when I can dial it in on the treadmill and just roll. I know I have to get a feel for running it naturally outside though.

By Sunday I was anxious to get outside for my 16-mile long run. It was a tough one, to say the least. We got snow the night before and it continued through my run. The path at Stony Creek Metropark was not cleared when I got there. I wore my trail shoes hoping it would give me more traction, but any gaps between the lugs on the bottoms of my shoes filled in with snow right away.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

One cool thing about this run was that the Hansons-Brooks team was out training. Watching the pros fly by as if the snow wasn’t a factor inspired me. However, it seemed like the longer I ran, the more I struggled with traction. Even though there was just a coating to an inch of snow, running in those conditions was slow and draining. I felt pretty miserable at the end. It did not help ONE BIT that as soon as I finished and walked to my car, a truck finally came along to plow the path. Great timing. My legs were a little sore following this one and I developed a knot in my left calf that stuck around for most of the week.

Totals for week #7: 43 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #8

Despite time with the foam roller and the stick, I couldn’t seem to work that knot out of my calf and it was pretty tender to the touch. I felt it for the first few steps of my runs this week, but luckily it faded as I kept going. I thought I might need to get a massage, but by Friday it finally loosened up on its own. I had 6x800m for my Tuesday workout and it went well. After spending all week on the treadmill, I was ready to get outside on Saturday.

We got a ton of snow on Friday and it continued on Saturday. I went to Oakland University because I know they plow the sidewalks. Some spots around the core parts of campus were totally clear, but other spots had enough of a coating to make me struggle again.

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Eight miles felt like a lot of work, and stopping for pictures of the scenery was the one saving grace. Working my legs extra hard as I trudged through the snow left me a bit sore, so I didn’t think I could do it for 17 more miles on Sunday.

Initially I thought I’d head to Stony and hope that the path was clear enough. I changed my mind when I saw the weather forecast, which called for more snow and even freezing rain. There was no way I would attempt 17 miles through that. It didn’t seem like 17 miles on the treadmill was a good option either, but I decided to try. I downloaded a bunch of episodes of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix and set my phone up on the treadmill to watch. Episodes are only 15-20 minutes long and he has a bunch of fun guests. It was a great distraction and I could just listen when it bothered my eyes to look down at the small screen for too long. I ended up on a treadmill that shut down every hour, so I had a brief break a couple times when I had to restart the treadmill. I broke it up into segments of 6.25 miles, 6.25 miles, and 4.5 miles. Mentally, that was easier than looking at it as 17 straight miles. Somehow I pulled it off! I went through a 25 oz. bottle of water, a 21 oz. bottle of GU Brew, and ate three Clif Shot Bloks every five miles. When I had to scrape a thick layer of ice off my car afterward, I knew the treadmill had been the right choice for me. Nonetheless, I’d prefer not having to do that again!

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Totals for week #8:  44 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions (45 minutes for one, 30 minutes for the other)

Up next – a half marathon next weekend. I’m almost halfway through my 18-week plan and Hal Higdon’s schedule calls for a half marathon race. It’s not necessary to race, but I like the idea of seeing where I stand and what I’m capable of at this point. I found a race in Columbus, Ohio that sounds pretty interesting. I plan on going to explore a place I’ve never been and I’ll make a fun weekend out of it.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz


Chill at the Mills 5K Recap

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Last Sunday, January 21st, I ran the Chill at the Mills 5K in Rochester, MI. I’m usually reluctant to race in the winter thanks to Michigan’s weather, and have only run a race in January twice over the eight or nine years I’ve been racing. I will typically scope out the forecast and wait until the last minute to sign up for any winter races. I’ve been interested in running this race in the past, but injury, scheduling conflicts, or the weather have kept me away until this year. It was on my radar this year, but I hadn’t planned on running it because my marathon training schedule had 14 miles listed for the day. The morning before the race, my running buddy Louise sent a message to ask if I would be there. She put the idea in my head and made me wonder if I could juggle it with my long run. The more I thought about it, the more I figured I should go for it. I went to the Rochester Fire Department for in-person registration the afternoon before the race. I was happy that I could still get a long sleeve cotton shirt in my size despite the last-minute registration. I love the penguin!

I decided that it would work best to run 11 miles before the race so I could eat and enjoy the post-race festivities rather than add on more running at the end. I’ve done warm up runs prior to races during marathon training before, but this was a bit extreme. Usually it’s more like three miles prior to a half marathon…not an 11-mile “warm up” before a 5K! It was helpful that the race was in downtown Rochester. It’s only a few miles from home, I run the town all the time, and I knew where I could go to get the distance in.

I parked at Rochester Mills (a nice brewpub) around 7:15 and started my run with a headlamp because it was still dark. There was a very slight mist in the air to start, but fortunately the potential rain that had been in the forecast stayed away. After a stretch of ridiculously cold temps to start the month, we were lucky to have a warm up that melted most of the snow and ice, and it was in the mid-30s that morning. However, it was just cold enough that there were plenty of slippery spots on sidewalks. Maybe that was good in a way because dancing around icy spots helped keep my pace slow enough to save energy for the race later. Still, it wasn’t great that I spent half the run worrying about slipping. At one point I ran the race route to scope things out. We’d be running on the roads, and those surfaces were fine. Rochester Park had a few questionable spots though.

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I worried a bit about the icy patches. I made a second loop through the park a bit later, and was happy to see a guy in a truck stopping to salt the bad spots. Aside from my one loop around the race course, I didn’t have a set route for the long run, but still managed to run around town enough to get 11 miles in.

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I timed things so I’d finish half an hour before the race. I hit the porta potty line first, which probably took 5-10 minutes. The line kept growing longer and longer, so I’m glad I went there first instead of my car. I ran into Louise and her boyfriend briefly during my jog back to the car. I swapped to a dry pair of gloves, got my bib number, then headed back to the starting area. I had less than 10 minutes to kill at that point, which was perfect. I kept moving enough that I didn’t get too cold between my earlier run and the start of the race. Between the Picky Bar I ate for breakfast, GU Brew that I drank during my long run, three Clif Bloks that I ate in the middle of the long run, and three more that I ate before the race, I seemed to fuel just right.

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The crowd was pretty big and I knew I shouldn’t start behind so many people. I walked around the outside of the crowd and worked my way toward the front. I was surprised to find a huge gap near the front! Apparently most of the people didn’t want to start too close, and the mass of people just kept lining up behind them. I positioned myself in a spot a few seconds back from the front of the line.

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I’m on the left side in the orange shirt and blue hat. Thanks to RunMichigan.com for taking some nice race photos!

I had no idea how this race might go after running 11 miles. I just went with the flow at the start and didn’t push too hard because there was a pretty good climb during the first mile. Fortunately, a block later we got to take advantage of a downhill stretch, and the rest of the course was relatively flat after that.

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The first mile and a half took us through neighborhoods, then we ran about a mile in the park, looped around the back of the library, and finished downtown by Rochester Mills. Aside from a very brief stretch on the snow-covered Paint Creek Trail, the running surfaces were great. My first mile was 7:38 and my second was 7:33. When I race a 5K all-out, I’m usually closer to a 7:00 pace. It felt like a good effort, but nothing too taxing. My nose was so cold that I couldn’t breathe out of it at the beginning, probably thanks to the downtime in between the runs. I was fine after about a mile though. While I was in the park, I realized that I didn’t feel too strained and it seemed like this race was flying by. When I run 5Ks all-out, it usually feels way too long! I told myself that it was time to kick it up a notch for the last mile. I knew the course well and knew exactly what to expect. My pace dropped to 7:19 for the third mile, then I gave everything I had at the end. It sure helped that the finishing stretch was downhill!

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I was pretty happy with my finishing time of 23:18! After crossing the finish line, I received this hat:

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My collection of medals has gotten totally out of hand, so it was kind of nice to get something different. I scoped out the boxes of post-race snacks, which included things like fruit, chips, crackers, etc. I got a bag of animal crackers and some water, then was on the lookout for my friend Carmen. Check out her blog post about the race here. She came through the finish line and we got to chat for a few minutes until I decided I should go somewhere warm. I was happy with the temperature for racing, but got pretty cold once I stopped moving. I knew that there was a pancake breakfast in the fire station, and it sounded like a great way to refuel after 14 miles.

One room in the fire station had computers for checking our results, and I saw that I had placed second in my age group!

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They said awards would be available at Runnin’ Gear, so I stopped by the next day and received this:

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Since I love the penguin, I really liked this award

After checking my results, I went to the main room for the breakfast. They have pancake breakfasts at the fire station multiple times a year but I had never been to one. I know the money goes to charity, so I was cool with paying $6 for it. It was kind of fun to be in the room with the fire trucks and all of their gear.

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I sat at a table and a volunteer asked what I would like to drink, then brought the food 5-10 minutes later. There was a sausage and three big pancakes, and it was the perfect post-race breakfast. I met some nice people and chatted with them for a bit, then headed home. Although this race was a part of Rochester’s Fire and Ice Festival, I didn’t stick around for any other events. Like I said, I was pretty cold while I was outside, so I just wanted to get back to my warm car. I found out later that there was a beer tent that I had completely missed. Oops!

I had a great time and would definitely do this race again…depending on the weather. I’m really wary of running on snowy or potentially icy surfaces, so I’d probably pass in those conditions. I love the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, so as expected, they did a great job with this race as well. I enjoyed being a part of a hometown race, and I loved running a route that was so familiar to me. I’m glad Louise checked in with me and sparked me to sign up.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz


Weeks 1-4 of Training for the Glass City Marathon

The Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH is my goal race this spring. I ran the half marathon there in 2015 and it’s still my PR. It’s close to home so I won’t have to take any time off of work to travel, and it’s early enough in the season that I should have time to recover and get ready for triathlon season afterward. I’ve been anxious to get back to the marathon distance after 2016’s hot and humid Bayshore Marathon was a bust for me. I ended up running about 20 minutes slower than I’d been hoping to run. I’ve been through injury and rebuilding since then, and I think/hope I’m ready to tackle a marathon again.

I still haven’t run the Boston Marathon, but ran a BQ time at the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon. I’m hoping I can pull it off again and actually go to Boston. When I got my BQ, I used Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon plan, but used the Hansons Marathon Method workouts on Tuesdays. Since that worked so well for me, I’m going to try it again. I’m tweaking it here and there, and won’t start the Hansons speed workouts until my sixth week of training. That’s when their beginner marathon plan adds speed. Prior to starting this training, I had been running four days a week. I’ve spent the last four weeks adjusting to running five days a week. The plan calls for six days of running, but I’ve chosen to ride the bike in place of a 3-mile run each week so far. I’m still trying to gauge if I will stick with that approach or try running six days.

I officially started training on December 18th and things have gone well so far. The main theme of my training has been coping with the winter weather. There was a record-breaking 12-day stretch at the end of December and beginning of January when the Detroit area did not get above 20°F. I’m not a big fan of cold, so it hasn’t been especially enjoyable. Fortunately, I have decent tolerance for the treadmill.

Here’s how the training has gone so far.

Week #1

The first week of training went pretty well because there wasn’t much snow and it wasn’t too cold. We have a hill that’s perfect for hill repeats right outside our door, so that was my first real workout of the training plan.

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Our local metroparks are awesome because they keep the paths clear of snow, so that’s where I’ll do the majority of my training. I did a 6-mile loop at Stony Creek Metropark one day.

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Stony Creek Metropark

I went to Indian Springs Metropark for my first marathon pace run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off, but I ended up running each of the five miles 10-15 seconds faster than marathon pace. I’m sure as the miles and fatigue start to build, I’ll settle down a little bit.

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Indian Springs Metropark

My long run for the week was 10 miles, which is the same distance I had run the previous two weekends.

Totals for week #1: 31 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #2

I stuck with the treadmill Tuesday-Thursday mostly out of convenience, but also to avoid the cold. One morning it was -3°F. I was on Christmas break and was able to get all of my workouts done in the morning. A couple days I swam first then hopped on the treadmill next. Another day I did strength/weights first and followed up with a treadmill run. I got outside for my weekend runs and battled the cold.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

My long run was 11 miles this week, and the real feel was 1°F. Brutal. Balaclavas annoy me because I don’t like having something over my nose and mouth when I run. Although I wore one, I spent most of the run playing with it. I’d keep it over my face until it annoyed me, then I’d pull it below my chin. When I did that, the mouth area froze and stiffened up, making it extra annoying when I covered my face again. On top of that, my bottle’s nozzle froze in less than an hour, so after that I had to stop and unscrew the top in order to drink my sports drink slushie.

Totals for week #2: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 50 minutes

Week #3

More time on the treadmill. Once the snow hits, it’s not always convenient to drive to one of the parks after work for my run. Going to the gym to use the treadmill is often the easy way out, especially if I need to shower and go out somewhere when I’m done. I ran 4×800 one day, which is the first true speed workout I’ve done in a long time. I ran the repeats around 10K pace, and it was definitely challenging. The weekend was cold again and I couldn’t bring myself to attempt six miles at marathon pace outside when the windchill was below 0°F. The treadmill run went really well and marathon pace felt comfortable. I ventured out the next day for my long run. Luckily it was a back-down week and I only had eight miles. It was ridiculously cold and my bottle froze again before I was done, but I layered up enough to make the run tolerable. This was the first time I’ve had my eyelashes freeze!

2018-01-07 - stony

Totals for week #3: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 45 minutes

Week #4

Hill repeats were on my schedule, and I was able to do those outside in our neighborhood again. I did a 5-mile tempo run at Stony on an extremely rare warm day. It was 50°F! Clouds of fog blowing off of the piles of snow made for a really scenic run.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

It was super cold again by the weekend, so rather than fight the nasty windchill, I had another solid 6-mile marathon pace run on the treadmill. I braved the cold again for my long run, which was up to 13 miles this week. I’m so tired of the cold! The windchill was in the single digits and I hoped it was warm enough to avoid the balaclava. My face froze for the first half mile, but luckily I warmed up after that. I felt like I was dragging for most of the run, but the pace on my watch made it look otherwise. I felt a lot slower than I actually ran. Having the sun out for the first half of the run helped, but then it got cloudy and the wind picked up. I have a sore spot on my right kneecap following this run, and I hope it’s just a random tweak that goes away. I will worry about any little thing I feel and hope it doesn’t turn into anything that could derail my training!

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Cool ice formations at Stony Creek Metropark

Totals for week #4: 33 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each

Totals for the first 4 weeks: 124 miles of running, 50 miles of biking, 12.5 miles of swimming, and strength/weights 1-2 times per week

Four weeks down, 14 to go! I hope the whole winter isn’t this miserable, but I guess I’ve managed to survive so far.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

2017 Recap

2017 janet

Looking back at another year of training and racing, 2017 was an interesting one. Things didn’t go as planned right off the bat, so it was another year of adapting and going with the flow. I spent the last couple months of 2016 getting back to running after recovering from that summer’s metatarsal stress fracture. I thought things were going well, so I started 2017 with hopes of running a spring marathon. When my foot went bad again two weeks into January, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I probably got too ambitious too soon and aggravated my foot enough to take three months off of running. That’s not how I wanted to start the year. I ran less than 1,000 miles this year. I haven’t seen yearly running mileage that low since 2012.

However, I swam 168 miles! I haven’t done anything remotely close to that as an adult. Since I couldn’t run and biking was iffy for my foot at times too, I had to do something to keep active. Swimming was a substitute for what I really wanted to do…until it became something that I really wanted to do too.

2017-08 pool

Swimming was a big part of my routine this year

It’s hard for me to remember if I truly enjoyed swimming when I was younger or if it was just something that I had to do. I was a solid swimmer since I grew up doing it, but I was never fast. I didn’t win races and was average at best when it came to competitive swimming. By my early teenage years I decided that I wasn’t going to bother with it anymore. I finally returned to swimming in 2012 when I decided that I should try doing triathlons. My swim training was a bit spotty at times until this year. As soon as I realized I couldn’t run, I became determined to swim at least three times a week and work toward a good triathlon season this year. Even as I got back to running, I stuck with my swim routine and recognized that my overall fitness level improved because of it.

I eased back into running very slowly in April, and in May I did my first race of the year. Although the first part of the year hadn’t gone as I hoped, I made up for it the rest of the year. I did 15 races – the most I’ve ever done in a year. That was quite an improvement after only racing five times in 2016.

2017 shirt collage

All of my race shirts from 2017

Because I was so worried about reinjuring my foot, I kept my run training pretty unstructured. I worked on building a base and didn’t do any speed workouts. Most of the year I had no idea what kind of pace I was capable of running. I went into races hoping to have fun rather than aiming to beat past times. I didn’t plan very far ahead and often signed up for races just a couple weeks in advance. By racing so frequently in the second half of the year, races became a form of speed workouts for me and I saw improvement as the year went on.

I concentrated solely on multi-sport events May-August. I started my year of racing with my very first duathlon. My second duathlon was in July. It was supposed to be a triathlon, but the swim was cancelled due to rough water.

2017 tri lakes

I loved the beautiful sunrises over the lakes when I did triathlons this summer. The bottom photo is from Caseville, which turned into a duathlon thanks to those waves.

Although I enjoy swimming during triathlons, I discovered that I really like duathlons as well. Since running is my strongest discipline, I found that run-bike-run events play to my strengths. I may have to try more duathlons in the future. I also did three Olympic-distance triathlons and one sprint tri. My running pace improved with each race and I had a lot of fun. My bike segments weren’t noticeably better or worse than past years, but all of my work in the pool helped improve my swim times. I ended my tri season with a race in Ludington, MI. It was probably one of my favorite races of the year. I had never been there before and absolutely loved riding past sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan.

2017-08-20 ludington

The lighthouse was a very cool age group award.

A week after the Ludington triathlon, I returned to running-only races. I started with the Crim 10-mile race, where I ran a negative split and was only 15 seconds slower than the last time I had run it. It was a big boost to my confidence and I felt like I’d regained my running fitness. Racing so frequently seemed to work in my favor!

I kept things interesting for the last few months of racing. Although I did some races that were familiar to me, I also made a point of getting out to do some that had been on my radar that I’d never done before.

I had run a 5K at the Detroit Zoo once, so to change things up, I did the “Too Wild” challenge by running the 5K and 10K back-to-back. I ran new PRs for each distance! I felt ready to get back to the half marathon distance, and raced one in September, one in October, and one in November. The first one was the Brooksie Way, which was hot, hilly, and a bit rough for me. The second one (Grand Rapids) went a lot better, but it poured rain the entire time. The third one (the LeftOvers Trail Half) was a spur of the moment decision and went surprisingly well until I wiped out running down a hill. Prior to the trail half, I had completed the “Run-Eat-Run” challenge of running one trail 10K on Thanksgiving and another 10K the following day. It was the first time I had done a two-day challenge, so adding the third day was really something new. It was a fun way to wrap up my year of racing, and also gave my confidence another boost.

After pulling that off successfully, I decided I could consider a marathon this coming spring. I’m targeting the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH in April. That was my goal race when 2017 began, so hopefully it actually happens in 2018.

Here are some stats for the year:

2017 stats.jpg

  • I swam 168 miles
  • I biked 1,960 miles
  • I ran 901 miles
  • I spent a good amount of time on strength/weights as well – usually one or two sessions per week of 45+ minutes
  • I did 15 races: two duathlons, three Olympic triathlons, one sprint triathlon, one 10-mile race, two 5Ks, four 10Ks, and three half marathons
  • Out of those races, a couple were unique challenges – a 5K/10K combo in one day, and a 10K/10K/half marathon in three days

Although the year didn’t begin how I had hoped, it ended up being a pretty solid year. Here’s hoping that 2018 is another solid year, and hopefully an injury-free one!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Scenery from Runs in 2017

I didn’t want to bog down my year-end blog with too many photos, so here’s a photo-heavy post on its own. When I’m out for a run, I’m always on the lookout for cool scenery. Here are several cool things I saw in 2017.


Stony Creek Metropark is an awesome place to have so close to home. I do a lot of bike/run bricks there when I’m training for triathlons. It’s one of few places that gets plowed regularly in the winter. It also has some beautiful trails. I love Stony!

2017 stony collage

Stony Creek Metropark


We are extremely lucky to live right by the Paint Creek Trail. Aside from the winter, it’s my go-to place for running, and I do plenty of bike/run bricks on the trail as well.

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Paint Creek Trail


In July, we went to Naperville, IL for a concert. I always love exploring new places when we’re out of town, and we found some great running spots in the nearby town of Warrenville.

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DuPage River Trail


Although we only live 30-45 minutes north of Detroit, we rarely run there. We stayed downtown one night after a concert (notice a theme?) and made sure to get a run in the following morning. We ran along the beautiful riverwalk and to the Dequindre Cut.

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The Dequindre Cut and riverwalk with the RenCen in the distance


We visited Cincinnati once several years ago and had a great run. When we went back to the city in October for…yep, another concert, I couldn’t wait to get out and run the following morning. There are several bridges that connect Ohio and Kentucky, so it was fun to say that we ran in two states!

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Bridges connecting Cincinnati, Ohio and Newport, Kentucky


It’s only 10 miles from home, but I don’t get out to Addison Oaks County Park (in Leonard, MI) often enough. I wanted to hit a different spot to see fall colors during a run in October. Fall colors combined with early morning light made for some great scenery.

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Addison Oaks County Park


I’ve seen a lot of cool things over the last year and will make a point of running in some new locations in 2018 to see more fresh scenery.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Turkey Trail Trot / The LeftOvers Half Marathon Recap

My latest adventure was three days in a row of racing on the trails at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township, MI. When I went to the Brooksie Way expo in September, there were fliers with a discount code for the Turkey Trail Trot and LeftOvers Half Marathon. I stuck them on the fridge to keep them fresh in my mind. Since I haven’t been training for anything specific lately, I’ve been doing a whole bunch of races just for fun. I’ve been trying to do some races that have been on my radar that I haven’t done before. Although I usually go out for a run on Thanksgiving, I have never done a turkey trot race on the actual holiday. It was time to change that this year!

I thought the “run eat run” challenge sounded like fun, so I signed up to do a 10K on both Thursday and Friday. Move-It Fitness gives people the option to do 2.5 miles, 4 miles, or a 10K on both days. If you do the same distance both days, you get a medal each day plus an additional medal for the challenge. I didn’t care so much about collecting more medals, but I thought it would be something fun and different to do. I went to Tim Horton’s a couple days before the race for the early packet pickup. They requested canned goods to donate to the Rochester Area Neighborhood House, so I took a couple bags with me.

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The cotton shirt for people running Thursday and/or Friday

Stony Creek Metropark is only 10 minutes from home, so that made things nice and easy on Thanksgiving morning. The race started at 9:00, and I got there a little after 8:00. There was a pretty big crowd, which makes sense since I’ve read that Thanksgiving is the biggest day of the year for running races.

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I thought it was pretty interesting that the announcements and starting line directions were made without a microphone despite the size of the crowd. Trail races seem to be a bit more laid back than road races.

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With 158 finishers in the 2.5-mile run, 210 in the 4-mile run, and 153 in the 10K, over 500 people participated. All of the races started at the same time, so they tried to organize people by pace. People aiming to run a 7-minute pace were told to line up at the front, and a woman stood at a spot to represent the cutoff point for that group. It was a chip-timed race, so the clock didn’t start for us until we crossed the line. People running an 8-minute pace went a couple minutes later, and I went with that group. Knowing that the trails are more challenging than roads and knowing that I had another day of racing coming up, I didn’t count on running sub-8 miles like I usually do for the 10K.

The start was a little challenging because people were so close together. Some parts of the trail at the beginning weren’t very wide. After watching one girl wipe out, I realized that I should back off the people in front of me so I had enough room to see the roots and patches of mud up ahead. I also realized that I should watch my footing carefully and look down pretty much the whole time. I run the trails at Stony every now and then, so I know that I need to be careful. It was even more necessary with all of the people around.

A photo from Move-It Fitness's Facebook page - I'm in the yellow

A photo from Move-It Fitness’s Facebook page – I’m in the yellow

Another photo from Move-It Fitness

Another photo from Move-It Fitness

It was about 32 degrees at the start of the race, so it was a bit cool and I battled watery eyes for a while. Aside from a small patch in spots, there wasn’t any mud to worry about. There were a lot of leaves on the trails, and sometimes they could hide the roots and rocks underneath. I knew that I should be careful, especially on several downhill stretches where I got some crazy momentum. I kept hoping that I wouldn’t fall!

Apparently they change the direction of the race each year, and this year we went counterclockwise. We hit a stretch called “The Pines” about two miles into the race. I had never run there before and really loved it. The only downside was that it was truly a single-track section and I was right behind three people and their dog. The woman in front of me told me to let her know if I wanted to pass, but I said I was okay. I wasn’t really trying to race and didn’t think it would be a big deal. The trail winds and zig-zags constantly for about a mile, and there are very few spots that are wide enough to try to pass a group. Eventually I got a little frustrated by the slower pace and finally found a spot where I was able to pass. They were totally cool about it, but I didn’t feel like there was an earlier opportunity to pass.

Once I got out of that section, I had a little more space around me for a few miles. Then I came up on the people walking the 4-mile race. I had to be vocal about passing, and everyone seemed to be friendly and willing to move over. There were hills scattered throughout the run, and some of them were kind of tough. However, the earlier hills were nothing in comparison to what came between miles five and six. There was a hill on the way up to the *real* hill, so I was already winded before I got to the worst part of it. Although I didn’t stop to walk, it felt like I was shuffling along slow enough that it could have been considered a walk. That part was brutal. Like most of the uphill stretches, a nice downhill section followed. That made for a speedy finish, and my official time was 53:14.

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My Garmin’s map of the route

My Garmin said there there was an elevation gain of 337 feet

My Garmin said there there was an elevation gain of 337 feet

They had water, bananas and some bite-size candy at the finish. I was surprised by the lack of food, but it WAS Thanksgiving and we’d have plenty of food later, so it was probably for the best.

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I saw that I had placed first in my age group, so I asked a woman in charge if they had any age group awards. She said it was just for bragging rights. I was relieved that I didn’t need to stick around since I wanted to get home and get ready for the day.

As if one day of  racing wasn’t action-packed enough, I went through the same routine the next day. The race started half an hour later and the crowd was much smaller. 36 people finished the 2.5-mile race, 51 did the 4-mile, and 47 did the 10K. That was 134 people on Friday versus 521 on Thursday. It was a few degrees warmer and the sun was out, so it was a pretty morning.

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The race was not chip-timed and we didn’t start in waves, so I got up near the front. I pushed harder during the first mile than I had the previous day because I wanted my space. I didn’t want to get stuck behind anyone in “The Pines” like I had on Thursday, and therefore I expected my time to be faster. Not getting stuck and running faster were my two goals for the day. I didn’t want to start out so fast, but I figured I’d slow down once I had some space. That method worked, and it sure helped that there was a much smaller crowd as well. I still came up on the walkers right around the time when the biggest hills hit, and once again, they were very nice about making room for me to get through. The last hill still sucked, but I toughed my way through it. I flew along to the finish again, with a final time of 52:26. I was almost 50 seconds faster than the prior day, so I was happy. My time was good for first in my age group again, and I was the second female overall thanks to such a small group for the 10K.

The color of my bib signaled that I had raced both days, so I received the additional medal for the challenge.

Medals for Thursday's and Friday's races

Medals for Thursday’s and Friday’s races

A woman at the end asked if I was coming back for the half marathon the next day. I said that I hadn’t planned on it and didn’t think I was conditioned for it. I haven’t been running consecutive days very often lately, let alone three days in a row on a challenging course.

In addition to the water, bananas, and candy they’d had on Thursday, on Friday they also had hot chocolate and cookies. I talked to a few other people who asked if I’d be back for the half marathon. I thought the two days in a row had been a good enough challenge, but the more people asked about the half, the more they put the idea into my head. By the time I got home, I decided that I’d sign up and go for it.

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I knew that I was crazy as Saturday turned into another day of deja-vu. Back to the same parking lot around 8:30 for a 9:30 start. I picked up my bib and shirt, caught up with my friend Carmen who was (smartly) running just the one day, then I went back to the car to stay warm for a bit.

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Thursday and Friday’s shirt was cotton while Saturday’s shirt was technical material

Saturday was actually pretty nice – around 46 degrees. There were a few moments of light rain before the start, but it was the warmest of the three days. Warm enough for me to go with shorts!

Saturday’s race was not chip-timed either, so I started near the front again. 111 people finished the half so it wasn’t too crowded. I started a little fast again to gain some space. I don’t like the feeling of running right on someone’s heels on the single-track portions, and I don’t want to think that I’m holding someone up behind me either. Once I had some space, I settled down to run a pace that felt more comfortable. I knew I should run as if it was a training run and not try to race – especially in the early miles.

In order to make the course long enough for a half, we branched off on one segment of the trail that we hadn’t run the other days. There was usually someone in front or behind me within the first 4-5 miles, but for a good chunk of the race I was on my own. That made it easy to run along at whatever pace I settled into.

I ran with my own bottle all three days, but utilized the aid stations this time for some water. I knew I wouldn’t place as the top female and didn’t really care about my time, so I always stopped to walk for a brief moment when I got the water. The brutal hill still sucked on the third day, but I got through the first loop of the course feeling pretty good. I was totally on my own as I started the second loop. At some point it began to rain a little bit, but luckily it didn’t last very long. When I got to “The Pines” I decided it was okay to stop and take a couple pictures. No one was coming behind me and my time didn’t matter anyway.

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11.75 miles is when things got ugly. As I flew down a hill and rounded a corner, I wiped out. It happened so fast that I don’t know if I tripped over roots, slid on leaves, or just had bad footing. I swore as I went down and was a bit startled as I sat up to assess the damage. I had dirt all over my hands and my left knee, which hurt. I had a little bit of blood on my right hand, but it didn’t seem too bad. A guy I had just passed was coming into view, so I wiped myself off and started to walk. I didn’t really want to walk it in, so I tried to run and felt good enough. I got moving, knowing I could stop at an aid station soon. When the woman there shouted out to ask if I wanted water or Gatorade, I yelled back, “Band-Aids?” They didn’t have Band-Aids, but luckily one of the volunteers had one napkin in his pocket. I poured some water on my hand, wiped it off, and it seemed like the cut was pretty minor. I held the napkin over the cut the rest of the way just in case. I heard the guy call in an injury, and I reassured them that I was fine. The woman told me that someone else had just twisted an ankle. I was thankful that at least I hadn’t done that! She reminded me that I didn’t have far to go, and I carried on. I am extremely thankful for the awesome volunteers who supported this race.

Other than one guy, I hadn’t seen any people for at least five or six miles. While I had stopped for a minute or two, a couple people came along and passed me. I wasn’t concerned with “beating” people, but seeing them helped motivate me to get moving. I gained on them when we got to the last brutal hill. The three of us seemed to take a similar approach of running as much as we could, taking a break to walk, then trying to run again. We swapped places a couple times depending on who was walking or running. Eventually I tried to push myself to keep running, got to the downhill portion, and took off…hoping I wouldn’t wipe out again!

I finished strong with a time of 1:59:06. That was good for 6th female, and 19th out of 111. Although I didn’t have a real goal going into the race, I hoped that I’d finish within two hours. Even with the downtime thanks to the wipeout, I still pulled it off.

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A photo from Move-It Fitness’s Facebook page

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Here’s what the elevation looked like for two loops. My Garmin said that there was a total gain of 801 feet.

2017-11-25 - sat elevation

I went into the tent after the race, where I was thankful that they had hot chocolate and cookies again. I took some time to figure out what I’d done to myself. The blood on my hand was from a few minor scratches. The non-bloody injuries were the ones that hurt more. My knee was covered with dirt and didn’t look bad yet, but I knew it would get worse later. I realized that my right elbow hurt, so I rolled my sleeve up to reveal a scrape there. It wasn’t pretty, but I was hopeful that nothing was too bad.

I went back out and saw Carmen coming into the finish, so I took some pictures and cheered her on.

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The top male and female runners received a free Metroparks pass for 2018. They didn’t have any other prizes, so I didn’t stick around too long after the race. After three days of racing, I was ready to get home and rest.

The day after the race, I’m surprised that I’m not more sore. I thought for sure that the uphill climbs and flying down the hills would beat me up. I think running on the softer trail surface really helped. I also think my wipeout injuries are helping to overshadow any soreness from the running. My knee hurt a bit on Saturday, but isn’t too bad now. It hurts if I touch it and I’m sure it will turn into a really ugly bruise in the next few days, but it doesn’t feel like I did anything serious. I have a variety of other scratches and bruises, and my upper right arm hurts and aches as if I got a tetanus shot. I know there’s always a greater risk of injury on trails. I’m just thankful that it happened on the last day with just over a mile left!

Despite finishing bruised and battered, I feel pretty accomplished following this 3-day experience. I’m glad I chatted with other runners who gave me the push to go for it. It seemed like a crazy idea at first to go for all three days, but I knew that others were going to do the same thing, and I reassured myself that I was capable of doing it as well. It gives me a confidence boost that maybe I can consider running a spring marathon – something I’ve been questioning lately. In the meantime, I’m having fun kind of winging it. I still might squeeze in a holiday race or two before the year ends.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz