Race: Martian Half Marathon
City: Dearborn, MI Date: 04/13/2013
Distance: 13.1 mi
Weather: Upper 30s (yikes!) at start, lower 40s by finish, overcast, windy, a little bit sleety.
Course: Last minute course change pulled off very eloquently!
Summary: Great race with a great friend!
Michigan is cold. Pretty… but cold.
I have a good friend that lives in Michigan and is a great runner. He and I tend to have similar opinions of races (especially now that I’ve done 5 with him we have honestly had similar assessments of each of those) so I trusted his judgement in his reply to the “what is a good half marathon to do in MI” question. Like the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham I did in February, this race was highly recommended by friends whose opinions I trusted. Ultimately, they were both right about these races and I enjoyed both events immensely, in spite of the cold each time… maybe it was seeing my friends or knowing I had someone to look for in the race or just knowing they were there that made it enjoyable. I think the Race Directors in both events did a pretty great job, so that probably had something to do with it too… but I think it was mostly my friends.
I’m a southern girl, and, as such, I don’t do cold well. It gets cold in the south – I just don’t like it. Don’t like the heat, either, but I don’t ever prepare for the cold properly. You see… in the south, April is hot. Or, it can be. And Michigan, though a bit of a hike, really isn’t *that* far away – what, 4 states? that’s nothing. So, when I registered for this race, I guess I thought it would be warmer… you know, like NC.
Clearly, I’ve never been to Michigan in April.
Ironically, the week leading up to the race, I was tapering in 90 degree heat in NC and complaining to my friend about it, so I kind of consider this pay back for my griping about the hot weather. “Fine missy… you don’t like the hot? Here… have some sleet”.
It rained for days before I got there – lots of areas were flooded and I was seriously worried that I’d be running 13 miles in driving rain. I’d do it, but I was worried about it. Thankfully, the rain subsided before I got there.
My friend graciously offered to let me stay with his family, and they live near Flint, so I flew into the Flint airport. He picked me up from the airport and took me to the family’s business where one of his brothers was visiting. We sat around and chatted about running – his brother just as serious about it as he and I are – so I was in good company. His brother decided to run the full, but my friend, however, had not decided which race he wanted to do yet, so we discussed the options there. We talked about our plan for the morning – the full started an hour before the half and we wanted to be there in time for his brother to warm up and be ready… so we were taking off around 4:30 am.
That night, his family made pizza for us and we had a great time talking and eating pizza. But, because it is almost a 2 hour drive to Dearborn, we all headed to bed early.
I plugged my phone into a power strip, but didn’t realize that the switch on the wall turned the outlet off, so my phone was not charging. When I woke up in the middle of the night to check the time, my phone was dead. D.E.A.D. Dang! I kind of freaked out a little because I didn’t want to make the guys late. I scrambled to figure out what happened and when I realized it, I plugged my phone in to find out (mercifully) it was only about 1 am and thankfully, I still had about 3 hours of sleep and I was able to go right back to sleep (something that rarely happens to me). My alarm went off around 4 and I got up right away. I was pumped full of adrenaline and ready to go. I got up, dressed, got all my stuff gathered and did some last minute stretches while waiting for the guys to finish getting ready. At around 4:30, we took off. His brother was planning to go back to Chicago after the race, so he drove separately.
We got to the race site and parked. The start/finish was in a park, and at the time we got there (about an hour before the start of the full), there was plenty of parking. It was FREEZING, though. We got out of the car so my friend could register (he decided on the half). While he was registering, we discovered that the route had to be redone *overnight* because of flooding. My friends – had I not heard that information before the race, I would have never guessed it because it was so well organized. After he registered, we met some of my friend’s race friends and his brother and I got our packets. We then back to the warm cars. Our race started about 2 hours after we got there, so the only time we really got out of the car was to go to the bathroom (which we did a couple of times) and to wish his brother good luck at this start.
Finally, it was time for our start. This is a pretty small race, especially considering there are 4 events (a full, a half, a 10k and a 5k). It is part of what I really, really liked about this race – the smallness of it. No big corrals, no wall-to-wall people – just a bunch of runners, and we self-organized. This is one of the few times I ran with gloves – the throwaways I saved from the Mercedes Half Marathon. After peeling off the layers and getting out in the cold, I was really ready to start. Since my friend is much faster than I am, I wished him luck and fell in a bit behind where he was and waited for the start.
As the race started, I decided to listen to music – so I started off listening to music. For the first couple of miles, I was really into it… but after a while, I just wasn’t really hearing anything I wanted to hear, so I took one bud out and only paid attention to the audio cues. The route started out around the park and through the town, but was diverted through a neighborhood that snaked around and had some loop backs – luckily, I saw my friend in one of them! I love it when I see my friends in a race 🙂
I felt great most of the race, and around mile 8 or so, it started to feel colder all of the sudden… and what was that hitting my face? sleet? It only lasted a couple of minutes, but it did worry me on some of the wooden surfaces. As quickly as it cooled off, it warmed back up, so I took my gloves off for better dexterity and held them in my hand. I was also ahead of my plan – on target to PR this race, in fact, until I got to mile 11.5. I wouldn’t say I hit the wall, but I definitely slowed quite a bit compared to the rest of the race. I finally got a second wind around mile 12.25, dropped one of my gloves (but didn’t pick it up, nor did I get rid of the other – so I still have one Track Shack glove from Mercedes), only to turn into the wind on the last bit to slow me again. I ended up with 1:52, just a minute over my PR. The guys and I celebrated by having a large breakfast on our way back to the house.
I can’t say this is a learning as much as an affirmation: running *with* friends is always more fun and I have so far enjoyed the races they have recommended more than ones I found on my own.