To preface, I typically try to write my race recaps as quickly as possible so I don’t forget about all the nitty gritty details I so love to retell. As I start this, I’m already 8 days out, so you may be in for a nice quickie 😉
I’ve always wanted to run this race. I love Northern Michigan. I love running. The two together sounded like a match made in heaven. Plus I had heard nothing but great reviews from others who had run it in years past. Based on all of that, it has been known to sell out very quickly. Like, under an hour quickly. So when registration opened just after Thanksgiving, I was online and ready to shell out the money necessary to secure my spot! (Dad’s too).
Fast forward 6 months. I was already 2 half marathons in for the year. And though I was proud of what I had accomplished, I still was in search of a better race. Faster. More confident. Less pain. But, per usual since baby, I completely failed on my training and thus went into race day with very little expectations. Side note: Mama needs to get on the ball for her next race. No joking this time. An actual calendar. On the fridge. With a big red marker next to it that’ll tell me whether or not I’m doing things right. Maybe I’ll get a new pair of shoes first. So write all that down. It’s happening.
E, the hubs and I set out on our trek to Traverse City on Friday morning. It was a not so quick 7 hour drive, with a pit stop at the inlaws to drop off our furbaby. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day, and besides a little traffic hang up in Grand Rapids, we met up with Mom and Dad in the Cherry City at 6p. We rented a condo at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, which was perfect – 2 bed/ 2 bath, kitchen, balcony. Perfect for a long weekend. After hauling in our stuff, we headed over to the high school for packet pickup followed by a delectable gourmet dinner at the one and only, Ruby Tuesday!
Bayshore had a shuttle system set up for race day. First transporting runners from various hotels in the area to the local high school, then from the high school to the starting line. Since the first shift would’ve required us to be ready to ride at 450a, we opted to have the hubs drop us off at the high school instead. It was already an earrrrrrly morning.
As soon as we were dropped off at the school (around 540a), we literally walked right onto a bus that would drive us the 30 or so minutes north to the starting line (the marathon and 10K courses were out and back, whereas the half mary started north and ran south). This, despite all previous warnings to get to the start line ASAP due to the high number of runners. Guess we were okay after all!
We arrived at Bowers Harbor Park at 615a, and had the fairly annoying task of standing around for over an hour until the race started. This was inevitable since the last shuttle to the start left at 620 and we were once again warned not to wait until the last shuttle. So around we stood, trying to keep occupied and warm at the same time. The pre-race temps were brisk, high 40’s at most, so there was a lot of huddling up amongst strangers. This was by far the most disappointing part of the race. No one wants to wait around, much less STAND that long before running 13.1 miles. We spent our time trying to pick out people that we think Dad could beat,, settling on a lady with a HANS device on her leg 😉
Finally at 730a, we set off. The first mile had an enormous hill, which literally had the entire group silent as we huffed and puffed seemingly straight up in the air for a half mile. I suppose if there’s going to be a hill, I’d rather it be at the beginning than the end. But still! After that torture, we found ourselves in a nice groove, which surprisingly was sub-9 minute miles. Shocked were we! Though I always wear my Garmin, I tend to try to ignore it as much as possible during a race, which I guess completely defeats the purpose. But I really try to not obsess over my pace, because it tends to jinx me in the long run. I like to listen to my body instead of the numbers on my wrist. Since Dad and I seemed to be cruising along nicely, we just went along with it. About a mile and a half in, we finally found our way out of the vineyards and came upon the bay. It was sunny, hazy, and the water was perfectly crystal clear. I literally gasped and said to Dad,, “Oh my gosh, it looks like heaven!!” It was incredible. Something about it even made me teary. What a gorgeous day for a run.
This race was unlike any of the other five Dad and I have ran together. We both had our headphones in, we were much less chatty and much more in the zone than ever before. Chalk it up to recent life events or the beautiful scenery, there was just a different vibe in the air. Having said that, Dad and I continued to pace each other perfectly. When one would pull ahead, the other would follow suit and sometimes move a little farther ahead. We continually found ourselves running behind a guy with ‘Jeffries’ on his shirt back and it was our task to stay out in front of him. A little under halfway in, we started seeing the uber fast marathoners, who were on their way north as we ran south. It was so inspiring to see faces in search of 26.2 during our search for 13.1. We had a good rhythm going on, and for a long time I though we would achieve our long-term goal of finishing under 2 hours.
PS,, the course was BEA-UTIFUL!!! 😉 Just gorgeous the entire time. And even though there was no way for spectators to drive up there during the race, there were still TONS out there! Lots of vacationing families enjoying their morning cups of coffee while working their signs and cowbells. There were also plenty of mimosas and even some beers out there too. In fact, at mile 7.5, I spotted a little table with Dixie cups of beer out for the taking. So I bopped over, grabbed me one, and took a big swig before handing the rest to Dadyo. In hindsight,,, not the best idea as that cheap brew sloshed around my belly until the next water stop. It was fun while it lasted!
As Dad and I walked through the next aid station (which we had been doing fairly regularly just to regroup after those speedy miles), we looked at each other, high-fived and sighed. This tends to be the point in the race where you’re close to being done, but honestly still pretty far away. He looked at me and said, “You got another 5 miles in ya??” to which I replied, “Absolutely.” Though the thought sounded a little rough at the time, I was still confident in us. I still hadn’t really done the math on how fast we needed to run to break 2 hours. Didn’t want to either. So we just ran.
Meanwhile,, back at the condo,,,
The last miles were pretty painful. A little bit physical and a lot mental. Our splits had slowed a bit, but we were still close to 9:30 min/miles. We were pushing probably harder than we ever had before. At one point with a couple miles to go, I finally decided to figure out what we needed to run to reach our goal. When I realized we had 17 minutes to run over 2 miles, I became a little dejected. Come to find out after the race, Dad had felt the same way. It was going to be so close, yet still so far away. But we pressed on. We high fived the little kids on the side of the road. I thanked everyone who wished us luck down the final stretch. And before we knew it, we were back at the high school running our final steps down the track. We grabbed hands and across the finish line we flew.
Final time: 2:03:11. Pace of 9:20 min/mi.
Earlier while we were running, we had seen an older man approaching us in the opposite direction running the marathon. And he was moving slowwww. But he was moving! Dad had made a comment about how he was going to have a tough finish. And I said, “Hey, at least he’s out there trying.” And he replied, “He’s just happy to be alive.” Yes, yes, and YES. This summed up our race. It was our most emotional run to date, and like that older man, we both left a lot on the course before we even had medals around our necks.
We eventually hobbled our way to the post-race area where we found our cheerleaders.
A fantastic race. Beautiful. Strong. Inspiring. & emotional,, all packed in those 13.1 miles. Brums and Did half mary number six in the books. We’re coming for you, sub-2. Catch ya in the fall.
Also! We spent the entire holiday weekend in TC, here are some pics from our wonderful trip!