I'm going to sit down right now and write my race report or I will never get it done.
Alright...we headed up to Michigan Friday afternoon. Saturday, I got the race packet and checked out the parts of the course you could drive, set out my stuff and stuff for Steve and the kids and headed to bed by 9 pm.
We were out the door by 6:30 a.m. to head downtown, however had to turn around and go back because I forgot my Garmin (an essential at this race because there aren't many clocks on the course). After a stop at McDonalds and a mild melt-down by Emily, we found a parking spot a block away from the start of the race.
We headed into the YMCA (which is amazing!!!) to keep warm and found the bathrooms on the second floor with a short line. After two trips through, found my friend who was running the half with her husband, and her daughter who was going to hang with Steve and the girls. Jill and I headed to the bathroom one more time with about 10 minutes to go before the race was to start. Yeah, cutting it a little close but it did pay off in the end because I didn't need a bathroom break during the race.
I got in a quick warm up run to the starting area and was able to get in the vicinity of the 4:14 pace group. I really wanted to get up with the 3:56 group but figured I would play catch up. The gun went off about a minute or so after I got into the sea of runners and it took about 2 minutes to cross the start line.
We ran south for two blocks, made two right hand turns and then headed north about a mile, running through a kind of industrial area. The road was wide, though, and there was plenty of room to run and get into my stride. I passed by the 4:14 pace group but couldn't tell where the 3:56 group was.
We headed west for a block or two and then turned south through a residential neighborhood before running over the Grand River. The river was like glass with steam rising off of it. We noticed running over the bridge that it was a little slippery. Low and behold, there was some frost thanks to the 30 degree temperatures over night.
The course went through the heart of downtown where people lined the streets cheering on the runners and then turned west back across the river and through the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University. This section of the course was new this year and was a great addition because there were more places for people to watch the runners and the spectators could see runners about three different times in the first four miles.
At mile 5.5 we headed onto a bike path through Butterworth Park. There was a slight incline and then a long slow descent. I remember thinking, this is great! Oh, wait, I have to run up this on the way back. It was on my mind for about and second and then I heard a bunch of cheering and the lead runner for the half marathon was heading back to the start. I also noticed the 3:56 pace group was in view.
Just outside of the park was an aid station and a spectator section where Steve and the girls were. I gave high fives and we both ran our separate directions, literally. Miles 7 through 10 were along back roads with some slight rolling hills. I heard someone near me say use the hills. It was a good reminder. I let gravity pull me down the hill and ran up them. The 3:56 pace group was getting closer and then the disappeared. I remember thinking I wasn't ever going to catch them
At mile 10, we entered Millennium Park, another addition to the race course. Actually, we ran in Millennium Park last year, but just briefly. This year, we ran around the outside. It was gorgeous out there. The trees were all brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, there were several ponds as smooth as glass with steam rising off of them, and a little bit of fog hanging low at the tops of the trees.
By the time we were exiting the park, I caught the back of the 3:56 pace group. Finally! Of course, I lost them again for a minute while I walked through the water stop and took a longer than I had been taking.
From mile 13 to 22.5, we were on bike trails along the Grand River. It was pretty quiet and just a few spots easily accessible for spectators. I could tell I was slowing down and getting a little tired. I took longer walk breaks through the water stations and found myself looking at my watch more. I remember getting behind a group of people and just running for a bit. When I looked at my watch, I saw I was down to a 9:30 minute/mile pace and got moving.
I had a pace chart that I was consistently 30 seconds ahead of at each mile. That is, until mile 18 when I started getting behind but about 30 seconds, and the time got a little longer at each subsequent mile marker. By the time I got back to Butterworth Park, I was starting to make the mental calculations, trying to figure out if I was going to make it in under 4 hours or not. I had 30 minutes to go 3 miles. No problem, 10 minutes miles. Still, there was a little fear that I wouldn't make it and thoughts of, "That's a long was to go in just a short period of time." I picked up the pace as best I could.
As we exited Butterworth Park, Steve was there. He ran with me for a minute, asking how I was and yelled to finish under four. I said I would try, and he said, "DO IT!"
Another block later, there was a guy on a bike answering his cell phone. He said they were at mile 25 and hung up. Then he started talking to a lady just in front of me, telling her to keep going and she would be under 4. I decided I was going to keep her up with her. While she finished somewhat ahead of my, I tried to keep up with her.
At mile 26, the finish line was in sight. I took a look at my watch to make sure I was okay time wise and I hear my husband yelling at me, "Don't look at your watch, just run!" I took off. As I got close to the start line, the finish line clock was at 3:59:50. I thought, there is no way I'm going to let it switch to 4:00:00 before I get across the finish line and sprinted in. The finish photos show 4:00:59 and then 4:00:00. I got across just as it was switching to 4 hours. My official time was 3:58:02.
Once I was done, Don Kern (the race director) shook my hand and said congratulations and I headed off for the mylar blanket and some food.
The front of my hip really hurt when I was done but by the time we got back to my parent's house and got a hot shower, I was feeling much better. Sore, but better.
I'm thrilled with the race and my time. It is a fantastic event and the change in course this year made it even better than last year's. I am planning to do it again next year although I also want to run a marathon on my birthday which, next year, will be 10/10/10. I have some time to decide. In the meantime, I want to find some triathlons to do next summer and the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. I need to find a job, too, to help fuel my obsession :-)
So, there you have it. Next time, I'll post about what happened to my friend and her husband at the start. While I had given them a bunch of advice, I forgot to tell them one thing.
Have a great weekend! Happy Halloween. I'm off to spin before the afternoon Halloween party at the library.