Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 6: Weeks 18-19)

I Run This Town (Part 6: Weeks 18-19)

Week 18: October 28-November 3, 2017

     Today I ran a very busy section of road.  I had to wait until a Sunday morning, on a weekday this route would be dangerous to run.   There was not much traffic but there was no sidewalk and only a small shoulder on the road.  I ran as far to the side of the road as I could and the drivers gave me a wide berth.  I was shocked at the amount of trash.  I saw screwdrivers, scissors, license plates, and several shoes.  Who loses just one shoe?  I am almost 50 years old and I have lost a lot of things, but I have never lost one shoe.  Yet today I saw three individual shoes on this run. I put it in the Google Machine and came up with some crazy theories but was more shocked to find there is an entire Facebook page devoted to, “Shoes on the Side of the Road.”  

     I felt so good later in the day that I did a second run in a different section of town.  This area had homes with four car garages.  It was quite a contrast to the area I had run in this morning. 
I emailed the mayor of my town today.  I gave him an invitation to do my last run with me.  I have no idea if he runs or if he would be interested, but it seemed like it might be a cool way to end my project.  I know I still have a ways to go, but I am already thinking of that last mile and how amazing it will be.  

     The next day the mayor emailed me back.  He said that he wanted to join me for the finish.  He was also wishing he had thought of the idea of running all the streets himself.  He thought it was a pretty cool.

     The areas I ran this week were quite diverse.  I ran by some fancy houses on a golf course one day and another day in a trailer park.  When I started the project someone from the Sheriff Department said that there really weren’t any “bad” parts of our town, but that this trailer park has had some issues.   I found it to be a nice place to run and most of the trailers were nice and well kept.  I never felt unsafe and the residents I encountered were friendly.  On the flip side a lot of the residents that lived on the golf course community would not even look me in the eye as I passed by.  They did not even reply to my hello.  I found this quite surprising.  I guess to them an almost 50 year old woman running with a border collie was suspicious.  

     Getting this project done before any substantial snowfall is now a major goal.  Today I saw the first big, wet snowflakes and real feel was only 29 degrees.  

     Another day, I happened to be running as school was letting out.  I soon realized that speed limits and stop signs are only  suggestions to people who pick their kids up from school in this area.  I suppose since it was Halloween they were anxious to get home and get their fun started.  I saw a little girl dressed as a witch walking home from school.  It brought back memories of an awesome witch costume my mom made me when I was a kid.  Too bad in my hometown (Marquette, MI) you typically had to wear a ski jacket over your Halloween costume.  Later, I saw a dog in a costume. He was a little thief helping his partner get away with the big bag of cash.  

     When I get home from a run, I upload my Garmin data to my computer.  Then I double check to make sure I didn’t miss any streets.  Today, I missed a street.  It looked like it was a driveway but after checking on Google Maps, I can see I was wrong.  I made a note to go back and do that street the next day.

     I parked my car in a local shopping mall and my husband dropped me off a few miles away.  I picked up that street that I missed the other day, even though I had to run an extra half mile to get to it today.  As I ran to the end I was treated to seeing a deer.  The first one I have seen in weeks.  

     As I approached my car I saw a disturbing thing.  Christmas lights.  It’s barely November.  The village mall was having them strung up in the trees bordering their property.  As I got closer to my car I discovered that they had the lights up in every tree and half way up the tree that my car was parked in front off.  Their equipment was parked in front and on the side of my car.  I’m sure they were glad for me to return so they could finish their job.  

Weekly stats: 28.54 miles 
Square miles done: 26.5
Square miles left: 6.5

Week 19: November 4-10, 2017

     We were up north for the weekend.  When we got back it was raining.  By the time I went for my run, it as pouring.  Ironically I ran down a street called Raintree.  I found a Free Little Library on this run. 

     The next day I took my dog Kirby out with me.  As we came around a corner and a dog came charging at us.  We were one house away and across the street as it got to us.   The owner was in his yard raking leaves and I yelled for him to come get his dog.  He took his time coming to get the dog and didn’t say a word to me or his dog.  His dog kept getting in Kirby’s face.  Thankfully nothing happened but I was miffed that the guy never even said he was sorry.  This is the eighth time in 19 weeks that a dog has been running loose and left their yard to charge at me.  I find this troublesome that people are that irresponsible.  If your dog is loose and stays in your yard, I’m cool with that.  But as a runner, when I’m across the street, your dog should not be approaching me.  Several other times dogs have been on what I suspect is an electronic fence and they charge right up to the curb barking like crazy but never leave their yard.  

     I’ve been trying to run on most days to keep making progress.  I finished one square mile in three days.  I found a few gated subdivisions but fortunately either their gates were open or their was a pedestrian gate to enter through.  I took Kirby out on my run another day and we found a car covered in cling wrap.  

     I felt good so I did a second run today.  I now have only the top row on my map to complete.  I’ve had a few of my runner friends from work ask if they could be there to run me into the finish.  I’m suspecting they will string a roll of toilet paper across the road to pretend I’m breaking the finish line tape like at a major race.  It’s fun that other people are getting excited about this too.  I’m starting to feel a strange mix of happy and sad that this journey will be over in the near future.  

     I got out for one last run this week and absolutely loved the area I ran.  It was so pretty with the leaves falling.  It was the coldest morning I had run yet and I can’t believe there are still leaves left on the trees.   I saw a glider plane trailer in someone’s driveway, that is kind of unusual.   But the most interesting thing I saw was a yard that was filled with the most beautiful bird feeders mounted on poles.   There must have been 30 of them that I could see.

     While I was running I got a voice mail from the mayor.  He was quite excited about the project.  I decided today where my ending location will be.  It wasn’t planned until just now, yet I think it will be a fitting place to conclude my journey of running every street in my city.  

Weekly stats: 28.93 miles 
Total miles since start: 418.14
Square miles completed: 28
Square miles left: 5

Sunday, October 29, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 5:Weeks 15-17)


You may have noticed that I had a long gap between my last post and now.  We took the dogs and headed off to live in our RV for a little over a month.  During this time I got serious about my distance running again.   On five consecutive Saturdays I did marathons.  Two in Michigan, and one in Idaho, Utah and Colorado.  I’m working at doing a marathon in each state, so this brought my state total to 38 states and my total marathons run to 72.  Now that I’m back home, I’m making progress again with running my town.  

Week 15: October 6-13, 2017

It feels really strange trying to get back in the swing of things.  I sized up the map and decided I need to finish off a particular section then I would have all of the south side of town done.  

A few times this week my husband came out with me and several other times I had one of my dogs for company.  Since I use a different color highlighter on my map when one of the dogs is with me, it is pretty neat to see how much of the city they have traveled.  They seem to enjoy all the new sights and smells.  These border collies are high energy.  I say that taking them running “burns off their crazy.”  

As part of my run one day, I had to go down a dead end street in a condo complex.  A couple guys from a lawn care service were stopped eating their lunches by their truck.  As I got closer, I saw one of them was urinating on a fence by a house at the end of the street.  What is wrong with people? 

As if that wasn’t creepy enough, the Halloween displays are starting to show up in yards.  Thankfully my dogs aren’t freaking out when they see them.  Kirby was pretty happy to find some bones one day.

Weekly stats: 21 miles

Week 16: October 14-20, 2017

The fall leaves are changing fast.  The black walnuts are falling and if you’re not careful it’s easy to twist an ankle on them.  

My husband joined me one day, it was warm but rainy morning.  The Detroit Marathon is going on today and I remembered back to 22 years ago when I ran my first marathon there.   Later, we saw a few street signs that seemed humorous to us.

Again I’m joined by my husband and my dog Kirby.  We hit the streets in the last big condo complex.  There are a ton of little streets.  As you start running them they look like a road, then shortly after it looks more like a driveway and it goes to someone’s garage.  I may have cut a few roads short in here, but I certainly don’t want to wind up on someone’s private property.  On our way out of the complex the last road we go down leads to their clubhouse.  It has a small pond next to it.  To my surprise, perched on the rail of a small dock is my favorite bird, the Great Blue Heron.  

I ran a diverse section today that varied between old condos on a golf course, to modern homes, and then to older homes.  It was fun to see the variation of housing in one small section.  I had one long dead end street to run.  I got to the very end and saw three dogs out in a yard.  The owner was in the backyard.  I asked her what kind of dogs there were and I guess that was the international signal for the dogs to run out into the street to me.  They seemed nice but two of them were quite large, and one looked to be a puppy.  They initially looked like pit bulls but as they got closer I saw their faces were all wrinkly.  The owner came out to the street to get her brood and she told me they were French Mastiffs (think Turner and Hooch.)    These guys were all very friendly but I left there feeling inappropriately sniffed and covered in dog drool.  

Another day I found the back entrance to the Dinoasaur Hill Nature Preserve.  I’ve always seen it from the Paint Creek Trail.  It is technically in the city of Rochester, but since I was so close, I had to stop and check out the cool trails.  

Weekly stats: 16.99 miles

Week 17: October 21-27, 2017

I started this week out with the Kansas City Marathon in Missouri, state #39 in my 50 state marathon quest.  

I took it really easy this week and didn’t run a lot of miles.  But I did enjoy seeing lots of fall leaves changing colors.  The mornings are cold, with temps in the mid to high 30’s.  I’ve had to break out my winter clothes including hat and gloves.  Ironically the subdivision I ran thru this week had streets named after ski resort towns.  Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Powderhorn and Snowmass.  I’m serious wondering if I will be running in the snow sooner than I think.

Week stats: 12.15 miles (marathon not included)
Square miles completed: 23
Approximate square miles to go: 10



Not long ago, I was asked to write a blog post for Skirt Sports. The assignment, pick a word. I thought it would be easy to pick a word.  Just one word, something that I felt described me and how I felt about things lately.   I wish I could say it was a word that seemed more honorable, generous or commendable.  But my word was about me and how I’d felt about my life lately.  There are so many words to chose from, but in the end I chose “Progress.”   It took me a lot of thinking to come up with this word.   Then after I chose it, I realized it was something that should have come to mind far easier, since it is tattooed on my body.  If it was three words it would have been “Relentless Forward Progress.”

The tattoo on my leg was done shortly after I finished my first 100 mile trail race.  It was the title of a book that inspired and guided me along the way to achieving my goal.  It became a mantra to me, to remind me that every step you take in the right direction is making forward progress.  And sometimes you just have to be relentless about it.
I wound up with pretty serious stress fracture in my femoral neck late last year.  It resulted in surgery. I had three screws, each three inches in length inserted in my femur to brace the fracture.

I had no idea how hard it would be to sit around in my recliner all day and use a walker just to get the the bathroom.  I needed help to do just about everything.  It was very humbling and honestly quite depressing.  It was so difficult to hear the amazing things my friends were doing while I sat on my butt all day reading books, watching Netflix, or throwing the ball for my dogs. (Ok, I did enjoy doing all of those things, but I didn’t like the being injured part.)  I was happy for their achievements, but felt sorry for myself.  We cancelled races and vacations because I could not even get on an airplane, let alone run the race I was signed up for.  
I worked hard at my physical therapy and a few months later I was able to run again.  I am now running outdoors and doing a few races now and then.  I can’t do the insane ultra distances I was doing before my injury, but one day I’ll get back there.  But for now I’ve altered my plans and decided to take on a project of running every street in my town this summer.  It’s been fun to give myself new priorities and new goals, and I’m enjoying the process it is taking to get there.  I’ve stopped comparing myself to others and counting mileage.  I’m just being me, doing my own thing and enjoying the process.  I’m happy to be healthy and getting stronger.   

One day in the future, you will find me at the intersection of crazy and stupid.  I’ll be doing some insane distance or event that will make my family and friends shake their heads. But until then, I know that the things that happen in my life are for the greater good and I’ll embrace the change and continue making Relentless Forward Progress.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

AfterShokz - #beopen #airinaction

     Anyone that has read my blog recently knows that I took on a project this summer.  I am running every street in my town.  I’ve discovered that a lot of areas don’t have sidewalks and I’m forced to run on the road.  This made me become even more aware of my safety.  I enjoy listening to music or podcasts while I run. But with the headphones I was using I had to have the volume super low, or wear only one ear bud to be able to hear people, cars and dogs.  Then I found Aftershokz.

     Aftershokz headphones do not go in your ears.  They rest just in front of your ears, leaving your ears open to hear the noises around you.  The headphones transmit the sound through mini vibrations.  It travels through your cheekbones into your inner ear, leaving your ear open so you can be aware of your surroundings.  
Wearing Trekz Sportz

     My fist pair of Aftershokz headphones were the Sportz Titanium.  These were so comfortable that I forgot I was even wearing them.  I felt much safer while running because I could hear what was going on around me.  They were comfortable while wearing sunglasses too.  This model is wired but they still need to be charged.  A twelve hour battery life means you don’t have to charge them as often.  I was so impressed with them that I emailed the company to tell them how impressed I was and they invited me to be one of their ambassadors, a ShokzStar.

     They sent me a nice goodie package including the Trekz Titanium.  This model is even lighter than the Sportz Titanium.  It is also bluetooth and has a six hour battery life. I had never used a bluetooth headphone before and now I’m not sure I can go back to wired.  These would be great for anyone but they really had athletes in mind when these were designed.  They are sweatproof.  The wraparound headband is really comfortable for running and biking, and I’m sure a ton of other activities.  Aftershokz even sent me a pair of the Sportz Titanium and Trekz Titanium to loan out to my local friends to try. 
Wearing Trekz Titanium

     As if those other two models weren’t good enough they out did them selves with the Trekz Air.  This is the lightest model. 20% lighter than the Trekz Titanium.  The amazing sound and fit make this model a star.  I could wear these all day, I’ve never been able to say that about any other headphone.  Every other brand I’ve tried hurt my ears after several hours of wear.  This model has a six hour battery life and is also sweat resistant.     Both of the bluetooth models can be used for phone calls when bluetooth paired.  All their headphones are great but they hit a home run with this model.  

Wearing Trekz Air

     I’ve fallen in love with these headphones and if you try them, I think you will too.  If you’d like to know more, check out their website at

     Feel free to use this link to save 20% on the Sportz Titanium and Trekz Titanium models. 

#aftershokz #shokzsquad  #airinaction #beopen #aftershokz

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 4:Weeks 12-14)


Week 12: August 5-11, 2017

My week started out by getting a massage. The masseuse asked if I was a runner and I told her I was and about my “I Run This Town” project.  She said she lived in the my city and told me where.  Strangely enough, I had just run her street a few days earlier.  I told her about the baseball field I found in someone’s backyard  near her home and she said she was going to try to find it.  

I did a long run around Oakland University. I looked up the statistics later and learned that the undergraduate program has about 17,000 students and the campus covers 1,400 acres.  I hadn’t been on the campus in some time and it really has changed.  They now have a beautiful new track and a sports dome.  Lots of new buildings, statues and a clocktower.  

The highlight of the campus is Meadowbrook Hall.  It is the sixth largest home in America and the fourth largest historical home museum. The manor has 88,000 square feet and 110 rooms.  It was the home of the auto baron John Dodge’s family, although he never lived there since he passed away before the home was finished.  
I later ran by the John Dodge house, his home and where the first Dodge automobiles were designed and tested on the rolling hills of the 320 acre farm.  

Later on this run a chinook helicopter flew overhead .

Another day I ran past the courthouse and sheriff department.  I decided to stop in and visit with my friend Dave, he is a deputy in my town. He and I went to the police academy together almost 25 years ago.   He knew I was running all the streets in town and was impressed with my progress.  

In another neighborhood I discovered a beautiful lake surrounded by homes.  This is the second decent size lake I’ve seen in my town.  I did not know that my town even had lakes in it, other than in the local parks.  

I ran past a local park, this one had a lot of baseball fields in it.  It’s also where the city has their fireworks display each year.  I found a garage sale nearby and stopped to look around, but didn’t buy anything.  I had to hold my breath as I ran past two dead skunks on the way back to my car.   

Weekly Stats:
34.2 miles
Police contacts = 1, but that was self initiated.  
Things found: a dime and two Free Little Libraries

Week 13: August 12-18, 2017

I took both dogs out with me to explore a new area.  On a busy road I heard someone yelling my name.  I looked across the street to see my friend Argenta.   She is out training for her first ultra marathon.  I ran with her during week three of this project, that seems so long ago.  (At time of writing this she has successfully finished her race and took first in her age group.)

The dogs and I passed some huge pine trees and turn the corner to see a big brown dog in the middle of the road about 10 feet from us.  After a minute I realized it was a deer.  A few feet behind it was a fawn.  They both stood there assessing me and my dogs.  My dogs were also at full attention but didn’t make a peep.  The deer wandered off to a nearby yard.  I’m starting to wonder if I am seeing the same deer again and again, or if these are different deer.  

A few blocks later I heard a dog barking. I turned to see it running towards us from three houses away.  The owner just kept calling it’s name but the dog didn’t listen to her and she made no effort to get come get the dog.  I yelled that if it came too close, it would get pepper sprayed.  The owner’s daughter came running to get the dog.  My dogs sat down and let the dog approach and didn’t seem too worked up, so I hoped it was friendly.  Nothing happened, but I am a more skeptical of loose dogs after Zuzu’s attack a little over a month ago.    

I got out at 8:00 A.M. to run a tough section of road.  I tried to run this before but there was too much traffic.  My husband dropped me off and pulled off the road to keep an eye on me.  The shoulder is very narrow, maybe a foot wide at most for about a half a mile.  It also goes up a big hill with limited sight distance for drivers. It’s heavily treed, so it is very dark in the middle of the day.  I put on my yellow reflective traffic vest as a precaution.  When I got to the worst spot, I waited for my husband to follow me in the car to block traffic.  He later told me that it was so dark in that spot that if he didn’t know I was there, it would have been tough to see me.  

Madonna grew up in my town.  Her childhood home in only a few miles away from where I live.  I’ve always wanted to look for her home and today I ran past it.  The news said the current owners purchased it in 2012 for $91,000.  They had to remodel the house because fire damage (arson) that occurred in 2008.  It was listed for sale in June for $479,000.  As I ran past it I saw that there was a “Sold” sign out front.  The home is located in a beautiful tree lined neighborhood that any kid (material girl or not) would be happy to have lived in. 

I took my dog Kirby out for a few miles, it turned out to be warmer out than I had anticipated.  We were both glad that our run ended by the drinking fountain at the Veterans Memorial Pointe park.  

I ran two areas today.  One was a section near my pet store.  I needed to get dog food, so I parked in their lot and ran nearby neighborhoods.  I found a new subdivision that wasn’t on the map. It was so new that there were no homes there, just a sign and a street. As I ran it, a noisy red tailed hawk circled me overhead.  

Later I drove to another very busy area.  I only ran a mile here, but it needed to be checked off the map.  Oh and did I mention it was near the Yates Cider Mill?  And it just happened to be free donut Wednesday. 

Another day, no sooner did I park my car and the man that lived in the house came to my car and told me my tires were on his lawn. I didn’t realize this as there are no curbs here.  I apologized and moved my car over a few inches so the tires were completely on the pavement.   He still seemed miffed that I parked near his house at all.  I told him I would be gone in an hour.  A few blocks later I ran past a liquor store.  It brought back memories to the horrible incident about ten years ago when one of the owners was killed in a robbery.  This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in my city, so it’s something you don’t easily forget.    

Weekly Stats:
38.4 miles

Week 14: August 19-25, 2017 (plus August 26-28)

I finished another square mile today.  I ran past a small vineyard in someones yard.  I wonder how productive these vines are and if they are able to harvest anything good here.   A few blocks later I found another garage sale and bought some books for my mom.

I spent two mornings running thru an area that was mostly condos.  There was limited on street parking, I wound up parking in the same spot both days.  On the second day, as I was parking I noticed the homeowner was out front working on his yard.  He eyed me suspiciously as I got out of my car.  I decided it was best to let him know what I was doing.  Here’s the conversation.  

Me: Hi there, I just wanted to let you know I was going to park my car here for about an hour.  I’m going out for a run in the area.
Him: Really?
Me:Yeah, I’m running every street in town.  But I wanted to let you know why I was parking my car here...just so you didn’t think anything weird was going on.
Him: Hmm, you mean weirder than that?

I ran some major streets in my area and past by Rochester College, I looked up on the internet later to discover it is as small as it looks.  Only an enrollment of just over 1,000 students and the campus is just over 85 acres in size.  After my run I downloaded my Garmin data to my computer only to discover I missed a street.  I’m still shocked that this is only the second time I have missed a street while running.  It’s harder than you would think on some of those twisty, windy subdivisions.   Later my husband and I were headed out to run errands and he said we should probably go get that missed street done, clearly he knew I would be thinking about it until I got it done.  So, he dropped me off and I ran the short hill on the block I missed.  I can imagine what the neighbors would have thought.  It probably looked like he kicked me out of the car and I was running after him.  

I really enjoy most of the areas I’ve run, but the apartments and condos can be a bit boring.  Most of the time I feel as though I’m running through parking lots and dead end streets that look more like driveways.  In most of the areas like this the residents give me funny looks.  I’m sure no one ever runs through their parking lots which according to my city map, are technically streets.  I found a street named after my hometown.

I ran through the Meadowfield Townhomes today.  I got a chuckle out of the name as a “meadow” and a “field” are just about the same thing.  Not to mention I really didn’t see a meadow or a field in the area.  What was really refreshing though, was that every person I saw was super friendly, had a nice comment or waved as they drove past.  As one lady drove past she asked me if I was “enjoying my walk.”  Wow, was I really running that slow?  

At work, I bumped into a fellow named Shane.  He was wearing shirt with my city’s name on it.  I asked if he worked for the city.  He told me he is with the engineering department.  I explained what I was doing and he seemed interested.  He gave me a tip on how to find out the progress of new subdivisions so I can be sure to run every street, as the new ones are added.  He said he would pass the name of my blog to the mayor, that it may interest him.

Weekly Stats:
33.58 miles

It’s been 100 days into my project to run every street in my city.  I have 

20 square miles done.  I run a new course every day and I am seeing my town from a perspective I am sure few have done.