This race report is insanely late, like, six weeks late! But I wanted to document that it happened, so here it is, mostly for my own benefit.
Steve and I stayed at at little BnB about two blocks from the finish line, so it was the easiest thing in the world to get up around 6:00am, have my usual peanut butter bagel with a banana, and taking Lucy out for a walk. The weather was perfect. Sunny, only a hint of a breeze, and mid-50s. We walked over around 15 minutes before start time (I’d picked up my packet the night before). We are SO going to do this again! The last two years we stayed at hotel back by the freeway, and parking was always a hassle at race time. This was way better – a small, local pet-friendly place close to the water and within walking distance of restaurants.
And we’re off!
Started out pretty fast, but eventually I settled into around a 10:07/min per mile pace. Since I’d done the race last year, I was in a different mental state…like I was already thinking ahead to the next turn, the next change in scenery. It gave me something to focus on. My goal was to finish in 2:10, and I knew that was very ambitious based on my training runs. Still, I was feeling pretty good and chose to run past several of the water stations instead of stopping. (I think there were eight water stations total and I only ended up stopping at six of them.)
The course took a right turn off the main road and began winding up small hills towards the state park. I realize now that I forgot to grab my jelly belly energy beans. I usually ate a few of them during my long runs, but I was out of luck now. Well, I thought, hopefully I’ll not need that energy burst. Steve texts me: “Quickly! Quickly! Quickly! Run fast! Run fast!” Makes me smile.
Before I knew it, we were in the park, dodging roots on sandy trails in a beautiful forest. Very fun part of the run. Love running down the huge sand dune! I was very thankful that I’d done a bunch of trail (or at least off-road) runs to strengthen my ankles. I didn’t feel nearly the level of stress on my ankles that I’d felt last time, or even back in January at the race in Eagle Creek. By this time, I’d settled into pace and pretty much ran with the folks around me for the rest of the race. We pushed each other, spurned each other on. Complete strangers, yet engaged in a very primal, intimate battle.
Out of the park and heading south back towards Ludington, with Lake Michigan on my right and sand dunes on the left. A long, long straightaway. It’s getting warm, but not too bad. Focus on the next mile marker, then the next water station. Around 11, it hits me that I’m tired. My body is just plain tired. Then for whatever reason, I start feeling wheezy. It’s hard to breathe, so I slow down. Breathe deep, breathe deep. Steve texts: “Now is when you push harder!” I take a second to respond: “Blaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.” “Pushpushpush!” he says back, “Resting is for later!”
I realize that my 2:10 goal is way out of reach, but I dig in to do the best that I can. I think about wanting to make sure I’ve given it every ounce that I can. Still wheezy, but something amazing is happening – I’m passing people! I see the turn into Stearns Park up ahead, and gun it. Finish time: 2:17:39, almost eight minutes faster than my 2012 time. I was still gasping for air when Steve found me out of the chute. Even though it wasn’t my goal time, it’s still a PR (personal record) and dang it, it feels good to know that I’ve run three half marathons.
The usual refreshments – water, apples and orange segments. Stretching. Ouch, the stretching. Then we walked back to our motel so I could get cleaned up, and then a celebratory lunch at Luciano’s, a great little Italian restaurant. This whole weekend has become a tradition that we both like. It’s coming “home” in a sense, because this is where my dad grew up and I still have a lot of family in the area. We usually visit a relative or two (or, uh, like nine this year when we stopped by my cousin’s place!) We enjoy time on the beach, eat at a few nice places we both like, and just enjoy Michigan in the summer.
Now on to the next one! THIS one!