Tag Archives: #andierunsaway #andierunsoffcrazy

Fifth Third Riverbank……No More.

So this year I ran the FIfth Third Riverbank Run for the third year. I have run the 5k and the 10k twice. This third year was quite a decision maker for me regarding my future choices on Riverbank. If the race itself remains the same as it has for the past three years of my experience I will not be running the race again. There are many factors that have broght me to this decision.


  1. It is geared towards the Elite 25K Runners and 2-Hour Club.

I get it, 25K is quite the distance, and is not a regular distance race. But even for your “everyday” 25K runner, there is more emphasis on the elite and 2 hour club runners. With that, the 10K and 5K runners/walkers…….low people down on the totem pole.

2.  It could be set up better to accommodate the people and runners.

There are a lot of people that come down to spectate and race. However, trying to get to those places can be difficult. It can be even more difficult for runners of the shorter distances to get back out to support their other runner friends.

Also, is it necessary to put the water, chocolate milk and post race food like, 1/2 mile away from the finish? Seriously……

3.  The time limit is ridiculous.

I have never seen a race have a “2 Hour Club” for runners. But, I can see where they would since they would really like runners to be done by a 3.5 hours race time mark. Now, to the credit of the race itself, this is a stipulation placed on by the City of Grand Rapids. Saturday races need to be done quickly to accommodate the traffic and businesses. However, if the race were on a Sunday………One reason, even if I would run Riverbank again, I will never run the 25K is because if I pay for a race I want an official finish time. To go through all of that then get nothing……hard pass.

4.  Just because the 3.5 hour time limit is up, along with the timing mat, doesn’t mean ALL FREAKING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS NEED TO BE GONE!

Dear lord, to get through all of that hard work and get to the finish with no one there is tough enough. But to get to the “finish” and have some bottles of water and a box of medals to get yourself on the ground…..fuck that.

Now I may catch some flack for all of this, but, we have all been in races that we will “never do again” for some reason or another. A race isn’t a race without runners. Riverbank will always have their share of runners. But when a 10K runner is coming to the finish and the Race Director is waving for us to hurry across the finish so they can get the tape up for the 25K winner, I wanna punch you in the mouth.

When racers are to be announced as they run across and celebrate their finish, but 10K racers are coming across and do not get announced because a certain Olympian is “coming around the bend”, thanks people. Fuck you too. But it wasn’t Danthan Ritenzhein that made the race a third time decision maker. I really think there could have been more emphasis on other people or parts of the race.  Gazelle Girl celebrate Grand Rapids better. Bridge Run celebrates Grand Rapids better. I my experience, many other races within our wonderful city do things way better.

So with all that being said, next year I think it will be time for me to see what Bayshore is all about.


Much Love!

Keep Running!


I Cannot Explain The Excitement!

Saturday was another long training run. Not from my favorite location as the roads are very lacking in structure, and…..hills. However, it was on the books. Ten miles. Since October of last year I have not been able to make it much past 6miles before having fairly to very severe calf cramps. So the longer my mileage climbed, the longer I would have to walk back to the start. It is pretty defeating. So Saturday I was just thinking how long 4 miles seems when you walk.


However, I prepared as much as possible. Electrolyte water on board since the evening before, good breakfast, some good rolling and stretching before, K Tape placed, compression leg sleeves on, electrolyte capsules taken. My thoughts, “Here we go…..”.

I have been working on strengthening my hamstrings so that they can start to take some of the work off of the calves. I have the proper shoes, with good insoles. With everything else I was getting more and more into the thought process that half marathons were not going to be a future possibility for me. The only item left to try was to change my running style.

Now, I am not…..NOT a fast runner. And I describe my running style as more of a shuffle. My knees to not lift much, and I am always thinking about my Good Form Running lessons that I have taken so many times. “Lean forward…..let the lean help to drive you forward.” However, the lack of proper use of my hamstrings was weighing on my calves. So, time to refocus. Pick up the knees, drive them forward. That along with the lean……well, we will see.


So, I made it to the turn around point. Five miles down. I had made the decision that if I cramped on this run I was going to forgo half marathon races. I made sure to bring the proper amount of nutrition. And while I was going slower than normal, I was remaining focused on upping my knee height. I felt like I was running strangely, a reminder of band camp and having to “high-knee” march. I also did not feel like I was taking long enough strides. However, one step at a time.

Mile six came and went with no real issue. Mile seven. Mile eight brought one quick little twinge. I immediately took it to a walk. At the last aid station I made sure to stretch out a little. Time to continue. Mile nine. All good. The last mile I slowed to a nice pace to “cool down”. I even cried a little. Tears of joy. Is it possible? Could the right combination of everything have finally come into sight?

Ten miles. Technically the longest I was able to do in a training run (or any run,. for that matter), where I did not have to walk the last half distance to the end. Technically, the longest run I was able to complete while sticking to my interval plan at a 90% rate (sometimes you just need to “rest” through a “work” time). And technically, the best run I have had at that distance ever. Recovery was even easier.


So, fingers crossed as I move forward. But for now, half-marathon distances are still ON the table.

Keep running!

Much love!

Michigan Titanium

So, I decided, mainly for the double down medal option, to sign up for the MiTi: Michigan Titanium. This event is not offered in a sprint distance triathlon, and I was not ready to try the Olympic distance triathlon for the distance of the swim. So I decided to register for the Olympic Duathlon. Bike24.8 miles, then run 6.2 miles. Sounds like it can happen. I mean, I have done the 20k sprint bike portion before and the run I was not worried about, so, I figured, why not give it a shot.

Now, I am still using my mountain bike that has been fitted with clip on aero bars and road tires. But, WOW…..hello Cannonsburg hills! I have driven down Cannonsburg road so many times since living in Grand Rapids, and it never seemed that hilly. But, when it is a car versus your burning legs on a mountain bike…..yeah…..it was hard.

Being that this was my first Duathlon, and the first Olympic distance I had no real goals except to finish. Ideally, I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. But that was using the time that it took me to do half the bike and run distances in a sprint triathlon. Plus, there was no swim portion, so, it seemed logical to try to calculate that I could finish in under 4 hours.

It was inspiring seeing all the other athletes competing in VERY LONG distance races. The MiTi offers the only full distance Ironman in Michigan. Also offering:

Full Tri – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike, 26.2 Run
Full Relay – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike, 26.2 Run
Full Aquabike – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike
Full Duathlon – 112 Bike, 26.2 Run

Half Tri – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike, 13.1 Run
Half Relay – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike, 13.1 Run
Half Aquabike – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike
Half Duathlon – 56 Bike, 13.1 Run

Olympic Tri – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run
Olympic Relay – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run
Olympic Aquabike – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike
Olympic Duathlon – 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run

So, needless to say, there were ALOT of atheltes.

There was strong Road Warrior representation there as well. Along with myself, Mandy Kitchen was competing in her first Half Ironman Triathlon, and Lisa Barrett was competing in the Half Relay.


The Olympic duathlon was the last to go off at 8:45am. And soon after the start, the hip cramp creeped in….ugh. But, knowing that there was no way I was going to truly place in this event, I pulled off to the side and stretched for a bit. However, on the way back, the hills got the best of me. As did my water consumption. I had to stop and vomit up some water. Then this action made me feel dizzy. So, instead of giving up, I decided to just walk a little with my bike to see how I felt.


Now, at the time of the vomiting, there was a course volunteer who told me that he was going to notify medical, because of his concerns. I told him I was not stopping, I was just going to walk for a bit. Part of me wanted to just give up. Give in to the fact that the hills and the distance were too much for me. But, that is just not me. So I walked. Then rode. Then walked some more. Many racers along the way made sure to ask if I was okay. Some offered nutrition or salt tabs. But I just needed to realize the hills were too much for a full ride. But my legs could still walk!

At bottle exchange I took another break. Slowly consumed more water and some Gatorade. Then, just as some heavy rain started, got back on the bike for the rest of the ride! What I wanted to take no longer than 2 1/2 hours took me over 3 1/2 hours. So I knew my 4 hour attempt was out the door. But, I had not quit….so I continued.

I came into transition at the run. Headed out and just started walking. The run course was also hilly, but, doable. And in the long run I ended up walking a lot of it, but, I did not stop. The aid stations were like my athletic “Golden Corral” buffet. I took cops of water, Gatorade, and Pepsi, pickles, a cookie and some pretzels at every station. And I slowly consumed everything between aid stations. I managed to run some. I managed to see some wonderful faces. I managed to meet some great people.

And near the end the emotion was overwhelming. I was actually going to finish this thing! So many times on the bike course I wanted to just get a ride back. No one would blame me. No one would think less of me. But it was not in me to do it! Luckily, the dude at the corner told me about the lady with the camera at the finish, so I managed to not look teary, smile and give a thumbs up. But as I crossed that finish line I broke down. It was, to date, the hardest event I have ever done. But……….it was done! It was done in 5 hours, 28 minutes and 11 seconds.





A Girl’s Best Friend Triathlon

So, two weeks ago I “competed” (and I say this with quotation marks because, well, I wasn’t in it to win it) in 3Disciplines Girls Best Friend Triathlon in Vickburg, MI. This, given the name, was an all female event. This piqued my interest because I think it is fabulous when there are all female events out there. Not to say that guys don’t deserve to have all male events, but, I love that it can show that women can be strong, athletic, have fun and not really hate on each other. It can be quite empowering!

Anywho, back to the event. I competed in the sprint distance. A 500m swim, 20K bike, 5k run. This is my comfort for sure. There were laughs on the swim…. lots of, “ladies, we ARE doing this, right?!?!”. There was fun on the bike. And I met a wonderful 48 year old women on the run (which was more of a walk for us both) who was competing in her first triathlon. She was very excited to learn she would finish under 3 hours, as this was her goal.

I was somewhat unprepared for the fact (because, obviously I didn’t read enough prior) for the fact that some of the run was cross-country, some trail and the remaining paved road. And then there was all the lovely rain the day and evening before, so…..slippery grass. But, we all managed. And it was not that bad.

The bike course was quite flat (which was nice), and the run more hilly. I will take that combo any day of the opposite. The aid station volunteers were a group of cheerleaders from the local high school and they were WONDERFUL! Yelling at as they saw us coming on the run course to prepare to hand us our choice of drink/nutrition. They were also very encouraging! This is what I LOVE about volunteers and this sport! Younger kids cheering, encouraging, laughing with you…..it is inspiring to see our youth this way.

I had a goal to beat my Grand Rapids Triathlon time. That time was 2:52:36. I figured that was a good enough goal to set. Just beat that time. Of course, then I realized the run course was trail-ish (which I simply LOVE!!! <—sense the sarcasm), and thought no.freaking.way!

The water was 83 degrees which meant it was not wetsuit legal. Of course, I had purchased a wetsuit, so I would not get to try it out in an event, but, oh well. It rained some on the bike course, and then got all humid and such on the run. But the encouragement and fun of this event was out of this world! And as I crossed the finish line, while I knew I had beat my previous triathlon time, it was not until later that results were fully posted to reveal by how much.

Overall Place: 185

Place: 185/191

Swim Place/Time: 156   22:23

T1:   4:04

Bike Place/Time: 182 1:11:07

T2: 2:32

Run Place/Time: 187   58:23

Final Time: 2:38:27

So I beat my previous time by 14 minutes and 9 seconds. And given the fact that the run portion was some trail and some cross-country…..I was pretty proud of myself. And overall, this was a wonderful event to attend, and it will be on my list for next season as well!




Yeah, I Can Do It…..And I’m Gonna

Have you ever had one of those days when you tell yourself, “Ugh….all I want to do is go home, put on my sweats, pop some popcorn and Netflix.”? Yeah, that was me yesterday. I had a fairly mundane day at work. I had felt pretty awake all day. Slept well the night before (which is unusual for me). My Road Warrior group had done a hill workout the night before and my calves were screaming at me. I spent my lunch hour rolling (see my “Foam and Trigger Point Rolling” blog earlier this month) my calves and preparing for court. But then, after an uneventful court session, I was simply wiped out. I was not really feeling going for a run with my group at all. And I contemplated not going. But I knew I should. So I did.


Of course, once I got there I was all ready to go. Run courses were discussed. I was to do an easy, conversation pace 2 mile run. I knew the route. My coaches asked to try to run a full mile without stopping, then walk/run my last mile back. Now, let me back up here. I am an interval runner. It has taken me a long time to get in the mindset of interval running. So I basically got comfortable in a 3 minute run/2 minute walk protocol and finally got into the groove of that. Then came the Road Warrior Program. They push me. In a fantastic way. I have gotten down on myself a bit, but, I know where they are coming from and these ladies are fabulous.

So off I go for my one mile run. I know it involves a hill. A fairly significant hill. And the hill is at the END of the mile. So, as I start off I prepare myself. I make sure to not start off too fast, but at a comfortable pace. I am lit up like a Christmas tree so that I do not get run over by a car. I focus. I pay no attention to my calf that is begging me to stop. I focus on form, leaning forward, bringing up my knees, utilizing my quadriceps muscles to launch myself.  And it was going well. I turned the corner to the road that would head up the hill. It seems long to me, although it is not as long for most runners. There were a couple times where I found that I needed to slow down a little bit. If I did not slow down, completing the full mile would not be possible. So I slowed, and for a short moment, it may have been to a fast walk, but it WAS NOT full on walking.

But then the hill came into view. Ugh. It is dark. It is cold. It.Is.A.Hill…….sigh…..but I am still running. It is a slow pace, but still running. And I am running up the hill. Up. Up. Up. Then, the end. The flattening of the hill. I am at the top! I have completed the request. And I feel good. No, not good…..GREAT! Like, “Tony the Tiger Great”! GRRRRRRREEEAAAAATTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!. So, then I do the unthinkable. At least for me, I continue to run and head back to the beginning, still running. More than a mile. I set goals. I mean, it is easier going downhill. So, why not? I will just run to the bottom of the hill. Then walk. My calf is really not liking me, but, it is okay. However, I know I should not push it. So, at the end of the hill I will walk. But then the end comes, and I don’t want to walk. So I’ll just go to the beginning of the walkway. Or maybe the end of the walkway. Yeah, then end of the walkway. And that is where I decide to stop and walk it out. And while my calf is thanking me I want to know how I did. So I make it through the snow to the sidewalk, stop my TomTom watch and see………1.25. 1.25 miles. This is huge for me. I have participated in numerous 5k races since I have started running, but this is the VERY FIRST time I have ever run 1.25 miles without walking. And it was hard. Not as hard as I thought, but hard. And doable.

I am not sure when being able to do this will happen again, but I will hold on to the fact that hard work and dedication is something that gets you where you want. Patience is necessary. I am not a huge fan of patience. I do not really have any patience, but it is true that you need to be patient in order to get the full capability of what you have worked for. So go out and work for what you want. Push yourself. Accept challenges.  Surround yourself with those that give you the support and drive you desire. You are amazing. Phenomenal. You can do what ever you want to do. And you will.


Much Love! Keep Running.