Schedule called for a 12 mile run, but B and I decided to run a ‘local’ half marathon (about an hour away) instead. As you can tell I have a wonderful friend B, whom I have done all my long runs with, we figured out that this was going to be our last run together until the big day. It is so nice to have a friend with a similar pace, and equal dedication to get you through the tough spots. B and I left at 6a for the drive up to Holland. We had to arrive a little early as we had not picked up or bibs /t-shirt yet. We had a very uneventful drive on the way up. We anticipated a long trip home, because at 6a they were setting up a classic car show in one of the towns that we had to drive through. At the start line /package pickup area there wasn’t enough parking so we had to park down the road a ways and get shuttled in. That was very nice. We had to decide what to bring with us. The biggest question mark was to run with jackets or no jackets. It was really chilly out at this time of the morning and super windy. We both decided to bring our jackets and worse come to worse just tie them around our waist (plus then this gave me a couple extra pockets for sport beans). Bib pickup was very smooth and painless; we got our stuff and went directly to the bathroom. Wanted to get that out of the way before the lines started. They had nice gear check there, so B checked our bags with our long sleeve race shirts that we got. It was so nice that we got there early because we were in and out of gear check and the bathroom before any lines appeared. We still had about 30 mins or so before the start of the race, so we hung out in the warm building. The start of the race was right outside the door so we hung out for as long as we could. With this being a smaller race, there were no pace groups (corrals) or anything. At about 8:15 we headed outside thinking about hitting the bathrooms again, but after we saw the long lines at the both the bathroom indoors and the porta johns we both figured we were good to go. Good thing we saw the foresight and went earlier. Here we go – 13.1 miles
Mile 1- 2.5 Before the start of the race B and I had been talking about how far we both have come in our ‘short’ running lives. I joked and said if I trained hard maybe someday I could qualify for Boston, I would just need to shave off about a one min or so per mile (and hold that pace for 26.2 miles, sounds so easy). Well mile one went by and B looked at her watch as said “Holy smokes we did that in 8:35, we Boston qualified for one mile”. I laughed but said ‘ Oh man, that is great but we better slow down’. Amazing what a little ‘race mode’ does to your speed. We slowed a little but not that much for the next few miles. First water stop was at mile 2.5, they were slightly unprepared (didn’t have any cups ready) but with being a smaller race they were able to pour fairly fast. There were some fun fans around this point; they were holding these big signs on poles. The only things on the signs were faces of people. They were bobbing them up and down trying to grab the attention of the racers whose faces they were. That was pretty cool.
Mile 3- 5 These miles were through a wooded area that was only about a block from Lake Michigan. For those of you not from the Great Lakes Region, imagine running next the ocean. The nice fall crisp air was making the run fairly easy. You could smell wood burning fires coming from near by houses. It was so peaceful and serene. B checked her watch at the 4 mile mark and we were at 36min , which is still way to fast. This would have been fine if the half marathon was our final goal. But really this was supposed to be a training run not a race. But we continued on at this pace, we were feeling too good.
Mile 5-7 These couple of miles were a little hairy. We made the turn onto a fairly busy road (or at least it seemed to be). They didn’t have a path blocked off or anything for the runners so there were cars still going in both directions. Every couple of blocks you would see signs that said ‘ Beware runners on the road’. So, for these couple of miles you had to be really focused not only on your running but the cars coming at you and the road kill that seemed to pop up on the road.
Mile 8- Oh man, this mile was crazy. Up to this point it was windy but the trees and houses were blocking a lot of the wind coming off the lake. It was still rough but tolerable. This mile, was a different story. The 8th mile took us through the beach access parking lot. Which on most days would be fantastic; water and sand to your left, empty parking lot to your right, nice little breeze- priceless. Today, different story, 50 degrees out and 20 mph winds yields a hard run. First half of the mile into the wind, then you turn and the wind is picking up the sand and throwing it at you. Of course, we all have shorts on so the pelting of sand against your legs feels oh so great. Where do they have the photographer for the race? Right here, taking pictures of every one getting sand blasted. Cant wait to see those pictures, our facial expressions will be just wonderful. On a normal day this would have been great; sun, beach, water. At this point, with the wind and sand, I had to have a mental conversation with myself. ‘ This is a training run, not a real half marathon, even though I am in the middle of a race. I don’t want to go all out and get injured with Chicago being only 2 weeks away’. I slowly started to back out of race mode and back into training mode, which is where I should have been all along. But as we all know this is easier said than done. B left me at this point, and continued running strong, it was a race right? I could see her about an 1/8 to ¼ mile in front of me
Mile 9-11 Since I was now focusing on training I started to run/walk, even though I do not plan on doing that in the marathon. I knew that I flew out the first 7 miles way above my marathon pace and just didn’t want to get hurt. The wind was still pretty strong along this part of the route. The water station at 9.5 had some bananas, so I grabbed one of those and then continued on. I normally don’t eat real food on races, but it had been a long time since breakfast. I figured, go with the ‘real supplement’ instead of the sports beans I had in my pocket.
Mile 11 –12 Made the last turn before the before the finish line. The spectators were yelling ‘Your almost there’. I jokingly said to the guy running next to me ‘ I really don’t like hearing that unless I have .1 to go’; he said ‘No kidding’.
Mile 13 Even though I knew this was the last mile, I was still run /walking it. Just didn’t want to hurt myself with all the wind (now if this was the marathon, I would be going all out). All I wanted to see was 2:15 or less (as that is what I ran my last 13 mile training run in). I was running next to a guy that seemed to be struggling, I told him ’Doing good only one more mile to go, you’ve got this’. He said ‘ Yeah, I keep telling myself slow and steady wins the race’. When he said that all of a sudden I started to worry, how slow was I going? Did I mess my training up? Did I really dog this race? My real goal for the race was 2:10, which would have been holding a 10 min/ per mile pace. Imagine my huge surprise when I made the final turn and saw the clock. I still had the .1 to go, but the clock said 2:05:50. WHAT, seriously!?!?! I almost started crying right then and there. I gave everything I had and flew over the finish. My official chip time was 2:05:44. CRAZY!!!!! I was so excited. I would of never ever dreamt of that. B crossed in 1:59:21. I joked with B and said ‘How am I going to even explain this one, I ran hard for the first 7, ran/ walked for the last 6 and still managed to pull off a 2:05:44. I am still in awe. The only bummer of the race was no medal or ribbon for the trophy case. They gave us 13.1 stickers; but both B and I commented that we ran for the medal. In a weird sort of way the sticker still means the same thing. I can imagine the future conservation; “Hey, B remember the race where got a sticker”. Oh well, it was still a lot of fun. I would definitely run that one again. Wow, what will Chicago bring?????
We turned the wrong way getting out of Holland then got stuck due to the Classic Car Show but made it home. I flew in side, took the fastest shower possible and headed directly up to my daughters soccer game. I caught the last half of her game. I missed my son’s game but made my daughters. Since I wasn’t sure if I was going to make either of their games (mom guilt here) I printed out pictures of soccer balls and left them on the kitchen table wishing them both luck. They really loved that!!!!