Monday, December 25, 2017

Satan's Sidewalk


     After finishing up my latest project of running every street in my city, I was challenged to run 100 miles in my basement on my treadmill.   It was a virtual event that 41 people participated in nationwide.  All proceeds from entry fees would go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.   The event was called the Dreadmill 48 Hour Endurance Challenge.  

     There was only two ways this could go. It was either going to be horrible or great.

     I thought with a generous 48 hour time limit I could certainly finish it, since I’d finished a few other 100 milers in less than 30 hours.  But little did I know that my trip down satan’s sidewalk would be way harder than I thought.  

     I made my basement into a deluxe aid station with everything I could possibly need.  My husband (also known as my Sherpa) crewed me via a walkie talkies.  If I needed anything extra, I just called him on the radio and he brought it to me.   

     Our basement tends to quite warm.  So we turned the heat down, opened up the windows and set up some fans.  I wore my Skirt Sports sleeveless tank top and Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in a pattern aptly named “Tantrum.”  Since I’d likely have one of those later in the day.  

     The first two hours went by quickly.  I ran and walked at intervals and watched the movie 13 Going On 30. Then Netflix started acting up and wouldn’t load my shows.  After 20 frustrating minutes, I finally got it going again and proceeded to watch the series Friends from the beginning.  

     During long distance events, I prefer to eat more solid food and less gels and energy chews.   I was able to keep fueled well with Tailwind drink, fruit, peanut butter on cinnamon raisin toast, salty and sweet snacks and a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  

     I had my runner’s high, but it only lasted for a half a mile. 

     By the marathon point, my feet started to feel really hot.  At the 50K mark I stopped and changed my shoes and socks to try to stop the heat from building up.  It never seemed to get any better and by 38.1 miles I knew my journey was at an end.  

     Everything else on my body felt fine and I was in great spirits.  But my feet would just not let me go on.  Every step I took I could feet the water in the blisters moving around, as if I was stepping on a gel pad.  I have run through some agonizing foot pain at the end of my 100 mile races, but I’ve never had blister problems like this so early on.  I would have liked to have pushed through the pain, but I have a marathon scheduled in South Carolina in three weeks and couldn’t chance that.  It will be a new state on my 50 state marathon quest (#40.)  The last time I attempted to go to a race in South Carolina, it was cancelled at the last minute do to a hurricane.

     The race director posted on Facebook that a lot of people dealt with blister problems like never before.  A friend told me that there is a lot more friction on your feet when you run on a treadmill, and even more when you walk.  I guess that explains some of what went wrong.  My husband thought that the motor on the treadmill may have given off some heat too.  Regardless of the event, I could not go so far that it would take me a month to recover from foot injury.

     Even thought I didn’t finish the event, I was glad to have challenged myself to try something crazy and different. I got in a good long run, made a donation to a good cause and the next time I need to run on a treadmill - it should seem far easier.  Would I try this event again?  You bet!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 9: Week 22) The Final Chapter

I Run This Town (Part 8: Week 22)
The Final Chapter

Week 22: November 25-December 4, 2017 (slightly longer than a week)
     I typically check the weather before I head out on a run.  I like to be prepared and have the right clothing to keep me warm and dry.  Today, the weatherman played a cruel joke on me.  There was no rain on the radar. Fifteen minutes into my run, I saw a very dark sky to the west.  I wasn’t too far from my car, so I sought cover there until it passed.   Heavy rain and hail started. I laughed when I saw the radar on my phone, the only bad weather in the city was where I was currently.  

     On my next run, I kept seeing random clothing items scattered next to the curb.  First I saw two winter hats, then a sock, a few blocks later I saw a pair of socks and a shirt.  I was afraid eventually I’d run into a naked person, but thankfully that never happened.  

     On my way home I stopped to run streets that were not yet on the map.  I had run past these areas months back and noted that new subdivisions were being built but the roads weren’t poured yet.  Since I’m nearing the end of the project, I needed to check these streets off.  

     I used a pink highlighter on my map when my dogs came with me.  They ran quite a bit of the city with me. I’d guess they ran at least 25% of it.  Kirby came with me today.   She loves to pick up sticks and run with them.  She doesn’t care if it is a three inch stick or a three foot stick.  A few times she’s grabbed small tree limbs and dragged them with us a few feet.  

     I spoke with the mayor tonight, he accidentally called me while he was getting his haircut.  We will finish the project on Monday and he’s bringing a camera crew.

     This week I had a phone interview with a local paper.  The article was printed on the front page, which I shared with the other headline about Santa accepting Christmas wish lists and where to deliver them.  I’m beyond flattered. I’m sure my mom will put the article on her fridge and it will be there for years.  The paper also gave information on how to find this blog.  I’m sure I’ll gain tens of fans from it.  

     I was thinking I’d be finishing the project in the snow, but all I’ve seen lately is rain.  The light mist turned to a downpour as I ran today.  I found eleven cents, a nativity scene that substituted a gazebo for a manger and a street sign with my name on it. 

     On the way home I stopped to run another new subdivision that was not yet on the map.  The street doesn’t have a sign up yet.  There were no houses built yet, but it was cool to see it all progressing over the past few months.  There was a house up on blocks here that had recently been moved to make room for this new subdivision.  Some construction guys sat in their trucks watching me run down their practically deserted area in a downpour.  

     It’s hard to believe that the final day is here.  My friend Dani decorated my car with streamers, paper flowers and window paint.  Mayor Bryan Barnett brought a film crew with him.  My friends Geneva and Lori came out to run in the last four miles with us.  The mayor interviewed me on camera before we started my last run on this journey.

     My last few streets to run are dirt, but don’t let that fool you.  This area has some of the largest homes in the city.  Lucky for me, the mayor knows all the details.

     We passed a house and the mayor told us that it was one of the largest homes in the city. It was massive.  The taxes alone for that house in 2017 were $132,539.  It has been used in several films, The mayor told me that the previous owner of this house was the person that brought the UPC Code into mainstream use.

     A half mile north of here (but not in my city) you can see Eminem’s former home.  It’s 17,500 square foot. He bought it for almost $5,000,000, and sold it last month for nearly $2,000,000.  I drove by it a few weeks back, but you can’t see much through the front gates.  The new owners were leaving when I drove past and I think it freaked them out that I was looking at their house.  But if you bought the house previously owned by Eminem, you have to be expecting people to drive by and look now and again.  

     The final run is hilly, but since we know the film crew is out we run up all the hills.  One of the dead end streets we ran down was probably the prettiest street in the city.  It is loaded with tall pine trees on both sides and it makes you feel like you are in a forest.  At the end of the street the mayor showed me a house where the previous owner used to have a pet lion.   These little bits of information he is sharing makes me wish he was with me the entire time I ran this town.  

     We turn into another dead end street and it is a gated subdivision.  The gate is open.  I said to the mayor, “Thankfully the gate was open, or you’d have to go get your keys to the city so we could get in.”  Our four mile run lasted around forty minutes but it felt like it went by way faster than that.  We had fun getting to know each other and sharing laughs.  There is something about running with someone, sort of a bonding experience.  I’m glad he joined me for the last leg of my journey.  

     We ran the dirt road through the historic district.  It was the last mile and it was the fastest for the today.  I like to say when I see the finish line, “I can smell the hay in the barn.”  Kind of ironic since we were ending at Van Hoosen Farm.  

     At the finish, my coworkers Melanie and Anne-Marie strung crepe paper across my path so I could break it as if I was the winner of a race.  My best friend Ronda (who is a puppy raiser for Leader Dog For the Blind) came with her new puppy, Pawnee. The one and only Slow Joe Burns brought donuts and cider from a local cider mill.  It was so wonderful to have these people there to share in my joy at the finish line.  Thanks to you all for making my finish so special.  

      I used my blue highlighter to color in the streets we ran today and now I’m finished.  Twenty-two weeks and nearly 500 miles of running.  

Weekly stats:  28.65 miles 
Total miles since start: 493.2 miles
Square miles completed: 32.91
Square miles left: Zero!

     The video produced by the mayor’s camera crew can be see on  You can view it by clocking on the link below:

     (I also posted it on the blog, it is the post just before this one.  It is called, “Sandy Stiner Runs This Town.”  It was published on December 4, 2017. )

     Since the video has been released, I’ve heard from a lot of people that are going to do their own “I Run This Town” project.  Nothing feels better than inspiring others.  

     Now that we are at the end I’d like to take a minute to thank a few people that made this possible.  First, Heather Croy, who ran every street in Royal Oak a few years back and gave me the idea.  Secondly, my husband who should have thought I was crazy to do this.  Instead he dropped me off and followed me in high traffic areas, ran or biked with me in areas he didn’t want me to run alone, and supported me in every possible way.  Third, by border collies.  Kirby and Zuzu, my best buddies on this journey.  Zuzu even saved me from being attacked by two dogs.  

     Special thanks to the companies that I am an ambassador for: Skirt Sports, Feetures! Socks, ChafeX and AfterShokz Headphones.  You all kept me fashionable, safe and comfortable during this endeavor.  Also thanks to my friends at Clint Verran Physical Therapy for getting me back to running so I could do this! (Amazing last year at this time I couldn’t stand without a walker.  And last but certainly not least, Bryan Barnett.  The mayor of my town, the guy who at first thought when he saw that I called this “I Run This Town,” that I was planning to run against him for mayor.   

Friday, November 24, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 7: Weeks 20-21)

I Run This Town (Part 7: Weeks 20-21)

Week 20: November 17-23, 2017

I had a race this past weekend in southern Illinois.  I did the 50 mile run at the Tunnel Hill ultra marathon.  It was my first really long distance I’ve run since having three screws put in my leg one year ago to stabilize a fracture.  I had an amazing day and was quite happy with my results.  I needed a few days to recover from the distance, so I had to delay my progress on running my streets.

We’ve had a lot of rain lately and I wound up on many dirt road this week.  I never realized just how many dirt roads there were in our city.   Today, I found a dime and a penny, then later saw a deer cross the road in front of me today.  

My husband came out with me one day and we finished our run at the Van Hoosen Farm and Rochester Hills Museum.  It was closed but we walked around on the grounds and decided to come back and see it another time when it was open.

Weekly stats: 7.35 miles

Week 21: November 18-24, 2017

It was another rainy day out and I finished up a subdivision near the museum.  Later, my husband and I visited the farm and museum.  We were given a guided tour of the farm house.  The farm is located in Stoney Creek Village, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Van Hoosen family resided here dating back to 1823.  It’s amazing to know that some of the structures here date back to 1840.  What I learned about the Van Hoosen family daughters astounded me.  

Their daughter Bertha graduated from the University of Michigan in 1888 with a degree in medicine.  This was a time with women doctors were rare.  She was quite the surgeon and developed the “Buttonhole” appendectomy surgical procedure.  She also was the person that realized that sterilization of surgical equipment was key to preventing infection.  Think of the lives that were saved because of this one discovery.  She later used the front room of the farm house for her office.  It was so amazing to be standing on ground that was blazed by this amazing lady.  

Their other daughter Sarah had a love of the land and earned her Master’s Degree in Animal Husbandry in 1916 and later in 1921 got her doctorate in Animal Genetics from the University of Wisconsin.  The family farm was under her direction and in the 1940’s the farm was the first in southeast Michigan to produce certified milk.  In 1932 she was named a Master Farmer, one of only two women at the time to hold this title.  She was also the first woman in the United States to be named a Premier Breeder of Holstein cattle.  

I feel that I am a pretty progressive person.  But these two ladies astounded me.  How they lead such strong careers and achieve such success so many years ago boggles my mind.  

We had the opportunity to meet with the director of the museum and I was able to ask him some questions about an area that I had run in that puzzled me.  A few weeks back I had run in a cool area called, “Wayside Park.”  It was so unique that I knew it had to be something interesting.  It is a big farmhouse and a dead end street that had rows of small houses on them that all looked identical.  Turns out there was a seed company here and the little houses on the street were actually rental units for the workers.  This seed farm was started in 1902.  It is still in business today under the name Ferry-Morse Seed Company, but it is located in Kentucky.   

I learned a lot about the history of my area on this visit to the museum and farm.  I discovered that the first settlers arrived in the area in 1817.  It was later organized and named Avon Township in 1835.  Villages were incorporated or annexed throughout the years and in 1984, Avon Township became Rochester Hills.  The first mayor was Earl E. Borden, which one of my favorite parks was named after.  

I decided that I’d like to finish up my “I Run This Town” project at this area.  I know the last few streets in the area will lead me right to the museum and farm.  It seems fitting to end my journey in the area that my city was founded 200 years earlier.  

I finished up my last part of this area, with the exception of my finish line route.  I ran on more dirt roads.  A guy in a Cadillac drove past me and went in a pothole, covering me head to tow in mud.  Later, I discovered a new sub not on map, with houses starting for the low, low price of $900,000.    My day ended by seeing a turkey vulture in a tree on the side of the road.  He was eyeing me suspiciously, I decided I needed to run faster to avoid looking like road kill.  

For several days it has been snowing lightly during my runs.  Nothing has accumulated on the ground yet.  I have been seeing Christmas trees lit up in house windows, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  Today I saw my first outdoor Christmas display.  

I stopped at shop near my home and the store owner asked me how the project was going.  I told him I hope to finish at the end of next week.  He asked if I had run by his house yet,  he told me where he lives.  Surprisingly, I planned to run that area tomorrow.  

It occurred to me that when I am done with this project, if someone says they live in my city I will be able to say, “Oh, I’ve run past your house.”  They will say, “Well, I didn’t say where I live in the city.”  And I can answer back, “It doesn’t matter, I’ve run by every house in Rochester Hills.”

I’ve been playing phone tag with the mayor for the past few weeks.  He’s a pretty cool guy.  I met him years ago when he was first running for office.  He’s the kind of guy that went door to door, meeting the residents and getting to know them.   He’s been our longest serving mayor, over ten years.  His Twitter account describes him as “Husband of one. Father of two.  Mayor of 75K.  Love my God, my country, my city, a good grilled cheese and all my Detroit sports teams!”  He does his own tweets and you will see him swearing in new firemen,  welcoming new businesses,  and giving Santa a key to the city.  He’s proud of his city and loves being involved.  

This is how the mayor describes our city.  "Rochester Hills is the jewel of Oakland County and is unique in Southeast Michigan.  We take great pride in being a top-notch, family oriented bedroom community.  Take a drive, or better yet, a bike ride through any of our tree-lined subdivisions and you will see that families are what make our community great.  Whether it's playing ball int he front yard, or talking with the neighbors in the back yard, you cannot help but be swept up in our towns' friendliness and charm.  Summer evenings in Rochester Hills are my favorite time of year, and although it has not been proven, I am confident that calories can actually be inhaled as the smell of barbecues waft throughout the community."

Today he left me a voice mail asking me to call him at home over the holiday weekend so we can finally connect.  He said he is very excited about the completion of my project and he would gladly join me for the completion of my journey.   So it looks like I will finish running the town with the guy that runs the town.    

It’s Thanksgiving day and I went out for a morning run.  I may not have smelled the barbecue  that the mayor spoke of but I could smell turkey cooking and it’s wasn’t even ten o’clock.  It’s 25 degrees out and there is some ice on the roads and sidewalk.  I saw two other runners and they were wearing shorts, while I am dressed like a normal person would for running in these temperatures.   Ironically, I ran down a street called Holiday Court on a holiday.  

Later,  I went for a second run and took my dog Kirby.  She’s a real beauty and most people that pass will comment on how pretty she is.  Today was no exception.  She runs next to me on her hands-free leash and you can see how happy she is.  We ran up the Dutton Road hill today.  It’s a well known section of dirt road, made famous locally for being at mile 10 of the Brooksie Way Half Marathon.  People forget that Rochester Hills, didn’t get it’s name for being flat. Although I didn’t run the entire course today, I still did a half marathon distance.  

I got out for a morning run.  I think this should be my last section of dirt road other than the finish line.  The shoulder had a big drop off and the road was narrow on the last part of the Dutton Road hill.  I was glad there wasn’t too much traffic.

Once I got into the subdivisions I passed a small group of people walking.   One lady said to me, “Hey, we saw you running yesterday.”  I told her that I was running every street in our city and the shock and amazement in her expression could hardly be contained.  I stopped and walked a bit with them and answered their questions.  After we parted ways, I kept seeing potatoes on the side of the road.  I bumped into  the group again and asked them about the potatoes, they were mystified about it as well.

I also found a iPhone charger and a dime today.  I’m surprised how few things I’ve found while running the city.  I have found about a dollar in change, a plastic lizard, gift cards with no value left on them and several license plates, as well as things like screwdrivers and scissors.  On my normal runs, in the past I’ve found wallets and puppies (both which I returned), loose change, $100 bills and one time an item of jewelry worth nearly $3,000.  I turned that over to the Sheriff’s Department and it went unclaimed and six months later they gave it back to me.  

I took a second run today with my dog Kirby.  We encountered a lot of yards with underground fencing.  What is scary about that is that the dogs will come charging at you right to the curb and then stop.  But you don’t know they are going to stop, so you expect they are going to get to you.    But typically there aren’t any signs to say the resident has this underground fencing so it is nerve wracking to guess if the dog is actually going to get to you.  Today we had a large dog charge at us.  Since the attack on my dog Zuzu many weeks back in this project, my heart is always in my throat when a dog runs at us.  This dog came into the street near us, no owner in sight, but for some reason stopped just before it got to us and went home.  I’ll add another red dot to my map, this makes nine times that dogs have came into the road and charged us.  That is nine times too many.  

I anticipate that I will finish this project this coming weekend.  

Weekly stats: 39.06 miles
Total miles since start: 464.55
Square miles completed: 34 1/2 

Square miles left: 1 1/2   (+ last day route of 4 miles)

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