Let me start out with this.. I LOVED THIS RACE!!!! Alright, now let me get into to details.. You might want to grab some more coffee, this might be a long one..
So, I left my house at 7:30am and decided to stop at Tim Hortons for a bagel and coffee.. Since coffee makes me.. ugh, go.. I know that it’s a necessity before a race.. and the longer before the race starts the better.. I also get so paranoid that I won’t ‘go’ before a race and need to halfway through.. and if you’ve ever done any distance running you know how painful that can be.. Well, luckily it wasn’t a problem!
I got into Clarkston about 8:05am and my parents were calling me to tell me that they had just parked by the starting line and that there were still spots! SCORE! So I pulled into a parking spot four down from them and then headed to the car to hang out with them.. We were early (race started at 9:30am), but luckily so because by about 8:30am they were shutting the road so that you couldn’t park where we were.
We used the porter-johns (a few times) and just hung out. Then came the debate on what to REALLY wear for the race.. It was about 42degs and windy.. I wanted to stick to my original plan of a t-shirt, and arm warmers, but I wasn’t sure. I decided, finally, to wear my running gloves and a headband to help keep me warm. I’m very happy with my decision.
The start of the race went smoothly. We started promptly (maybe a minute or so late) and then were off! I didn’t look ahead before we started, which was probably a good idea, because the first turn was an uphill! Talk about a good way to get your muscles warmed up!
It took me only about half of a mile to realize that my clothing choice was spot on, but it took me about another 2.5miles before I was in a ‘running groove’. Not a bad thing when you’re running 13.1 of course, but it did take me a bit longer than normal.
The first 3.5 miles or so were on roads. Mostly shut down to traffic (our lane was, but there was still some oncoming traffic from time to time), which was nice. Oh, and the first water station (about mile 2) had U.S. Army volunteers passing out water.. I’ll be the first to admit that I started tearing up! It was just so wonderful to see them there, with as much as they ALREADY do for us, then handing out water on top of it!!
Alright, next we started on the ‘back roads’.. I was a bit nervous at first. I haven’t run anything but sidewalks/roads in a while and I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. Plus, they kept saying before we started to watch out for potholes! It would be just my luck to twist my ankle in a pothole.
Well, luckily I didn’t!! I did see many pot holes, but nothing too crazy! What WAS crazy was the amount of people on the back roads that were out to support us! People with signs, cow bells, or just cheer “GO RUNNERS!” when we ran by! It was awesome! I’m not going to say that there were a TON of people, but for the fact that we were on the back roads in Clarkston, MI.. I’d say that it was a great turnout!
There wasn’t too much craziness through the first 11 miles of race. It was roads/back roads, then we got into rolling hills. I, unlike most people, really enjoy hills. I’m a strong uphill runner and I know that. So I did use it to my advantage. I could pass people on the uphills, and they would pass me on the downhill.
I should note here that I’ve read enough about half/full/ultra marathons and I know ‘bolting’ downhill can mess up knees if done in a poor manner.. SO, I’m one to hold back on running downhill! However, they were just as many uphills to make up for the ‘holding back’ on downhills, that it didn’t matter.
Around mile 7 I realized that my pace was a lot faster than I intended, but it felt good so I just went with it. My first 7 miles probably averaged around 9:35 or so, and the last 6 were closer to 9! I looked down a few times and my pace was under 9 minutes! But again, it felt good so I just went with it!
I also hardly studied the map of the race.. so everytime we turned I got more and more turned around.. Luckily for me, at every turn there were people telling me to turn.. Honestly, like pointing and saying it.. So I didn’t get lost! However, with as good as I was feeling I probably wouldn’t have minded too much.
SO.. I said that the first 11miles weren’t crazy.. True.. But the last 2 or so.. UGH! THE UPHILLS NEVER ENDED!!! And that’s coming from someone who LIKES running uphill!! At one point we were going uphill, it leveled off for, oh, 10seconds, and then we turned and were going back uphill AGAIN! I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I believe that there is a MOUNTAIN in Clarkston, MI!!!
I’d say that the downhills made up for it, and if I was on a bike I’d probably say it would, but running a super steep downhill is not my cup of tea! So the HUGE downhill post HUGE uphill was only nice because it was giving my legs a minute or so break from climbing!
I ended up finishing in 2:03:05!!! That’s almost three minutes faster than Detroit Women’s half which was my previous PR!! AKA: I got a PR on Sunday!!! EVEN WITH THE HILLS!!
After the race I went to the women’s changing tent to get in clean/dry/warm clothes and then went back to the post-race tent to get a small bowl of chili and my free beer! Both were good, but I only finished half of the beer because it was just SO DARN COLD! (not bad, just cold).
My little sister ended up finishing in 3:39! Not a PR for her, but she needs to work on running more (aka: training) before her next one. The hills that I described as ok for me, the downhills were KILLER for her! (She has bad knee problems.)
All in all, I LOVED the race!! I will mostly DEFINITELY be doing it again! Though next year I’ll make sure to bring a windbreaker vest just to keep my core a tiny bit warmer!
If you made it all the way through that you deserve an… apple! You thought I was going to say cookie didn’t you?! 😉