I will post most of this in my weekly recap…but just an idea for logistics for anyone that wants to do this race. Rich and I flew into Grand Rapids Thursday morning and drove about 2 hours to Traverse City (this saved us about $400-much more expensive to fly to TC). We were able to do a little shopping downtown and relax. We had dinner with Molly, Matt, Batch and Holly and were in bed early Thursday night (stayed at the Marriott Courtyard).
Friday I was lazy- we were able to check into our rental house (we had 9 people staying with us) an noon so we did our grocery run and then went to packet pick up at 5. Yes, packet pickup- not a race expo. It was great to be reunited with Corey, Brad and CT, and finally meet Jenny and Manny.
Renting a house was a MUCH cheaper option than any of the hotels and it allowed us to cook on Friday night. I played it SUPER safe with my stomach on Thursday and Friday and ended up eating rice, a baked potato, and grilled chicken for dinner.
Race Day Pre-Race
I got up around 5:30 Saturday morning to get ready. Our house was less than a mile from the start line, so I had plenty of time. I had my gluten free bagel with almond butter and a banana and a little coffee and wished good luck to Corey, Jenny, Manny, and CT who all left to do the half marathon (it was a point to point so they had to leave early to get on the bus to their start).
The nerves and excitement started to kick in but all in all, I felt good. I foam rolled and stretched and before I knew it Molly, Holly, Batch, Annabelle and myself were dropped off at the start by Rich and Matt. We skipped the lines and peed in the bushes one last time (lines were WAY too long), got rid of our throwaways, and I took a Huma gel. 7:15 and ready to go.
Miles 1-8 (8:04, 7:47, 7:55, 7:55, 7:57, 8:02, 7:58, 7:56)
My goal was to follow Coach’s plan. The first few miles were a bit congested so actually running fast wasn’t much of an option- which ended up being fine. I knew I needed to calm down a bit- I had a side cramp and Molly helped with the breathing and reminding me to chill out. There were a few turns the first few miles until we hit the main stretch of the out and back. I warmed up pretty quickly and threw out my gloves by mile 2.
I settled in, reminded myself that this was going to be FUN, and it was really just a long training run with one of my BRF. I hated to throw out my arm sleeves, but I was done with those by mile 4 or so. Molly and I chatted on and off and and saw our guys around mile 5 (took first Huma gel). The race was so small, it was nice to be able to see your cheerleaders easily!! And, even though the cheering options were limited for spectators, the support was huge where they were allowed to be. The miles flew by- especially when we the half marathoners started to go by. I loved passing Jenny and Corey- they both looked great (but apparently faked it well because neither had the race they wanted).
Miles 9-14 (7:58, 7:58, 7:59, 8:01, 8:01, 7:58)
Molly ran ahead at one point to use the bathroom and caught back up to me easily. I took another Huma at my 10 and seemed to be hydrating well, switching between the water on the course and my Nuun and Plus for Nuun. The course was gorgeous- and really flat. I told Molly my quads would probably hurt the most because I wasn’t used to the lack of hills.
Cheerleaders again at mile 10! It was seriously so nice to see them. We hit the turnaround (literally, a cone in the middle of the road) a few miles later and made our way back and I got my first Motigo cheer from Rich…which immediately made me smile even more. Miles 15-20 (8:02, 7:57, 8:06, 7:58, 8:04, 8:00)
Molly was a constant support- telling me how well I was doing, telling me to back off if I needed to. She had suggested the gels every 5 miles and it was working well and she also ran ahead and refilled my nuun bottle for me (she carried extra tablets for me, too).
Overall, I felt good. But in my head, I have to admit, the doubts from NYCM would creep in. I was somewhat scared of the back half of the race because I hit the wall so soon the last time. The miles clicked by and even though we had a hit a headwind I still felt strong.
I loved that we were able to see Rich and Matt so many times- they were such good sports about cheering. I can’t say enough how much I LOVED having the Motigo app- hearing my sister and my niece cheer for me was so awesome, quickly followed by my Dad and Nancy. At mile 17 or so, I looked at Molly and realized I was going to do it. Hold on, and this BQ was mine. I said it out loud and started to choke up a bit. She literally said, “Hold it together, sister!” and it was a good reminder to not let it slip away and stay focused on the overall goal. I had no idea how much time had passed (my watch is set to current pace/lap pace not time) but from what I could tell on my watch, most of my splits were between 7:57-8:03. On the money.
The course itself had such small elevation changes, but I felt the little hills more on the back half. I think the wind and direct sun (based on where I slowed in pace) were also a factor in how I started to feel. Molly reminded me to not surge ahead and take the hills easy and not waste energy- such a good call. I had started to notice how many people we were passing and it still felt pretty easy.
I decided to take a salt tab around mile 18-19 because I could tell I was losing more than I needed to (again, learning from previous marathon mistakes) and I couldn’t afford to hit the wall and I wanted to be safe. I also took my last Huma gel at mile 20.
Miles 21-26.2 (7:58, 8:01, 7:57, 7:52, 7:50, 7:47, 7:04)
Per Coach’s plan, it was time to start dropping pace. I told Molly I wasn’t sure I had enough in me to start dropping this soon and she told me that as long as I held this pace, I would still easily get my BQ and PR and we didn’t have to speed up if I wasn’t ready.
We saw our cheerleaders one last time at mile 21 and I told Molly I wanted to be done. Somewhere, I dug deeper, and was able to speed up. Molly chimed in, “You are crushing peoples dreams.” And, I will admit, it was fun. I passed so many people those last miles and while it hurt, I still felt strong. There was definitely some grunting and complaining, but it seemed to fly by. I got my last two cheers from Motigo, one from Rich and one from my Mom. It’s really cool to hear your family cheering from miles and miles away.
Molly reminded me of the few turns towards the end and to take off once we hit the track. I asked her as we were getting close if I was sub 3:30 but quickly changed my mind- I told her I didn’t want to know. But as we did hit the last turn, I caved and she told me I was going to do it.
I tried to fight back the tears when we hit the track and she kept pushing me- seeing the 3:28:xx on the clock was surreal.
Too hard to screen shot the paces, but each one is above next to the mileage. Coach Chris summarized my performance the best, I think.
I ended up passing 8 people in my age group alone and if you look at the race results you can see where I went from 509 overall in the half to 323.
The guys had made their way to the VIP area and were cheering on the track so we saw them even before we got our medals. Rich was waiting with a huge BQ sign and was so excited. We snapped a couple of pics and then cheered for Holly and Batch hoping she was going to snag her BQ, too (which she did!).
We all made our way to the finish line food for Moomer’s ice cream! They also had bagels, bananas, cookies, and a few other goodies.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with our whole gang. We hit up a food truck park, a brew pub, and then went back to the house to chill, order pizza, and enjoy a bonfire and smores.
The shirt is neon green. But I kinda like it. It’s a Brooks shirt and it actually FITS. First race shirt in a while that I can say that.And, the medal is actually pretty cool for it being such a small race. It’s a suncatcher/stained glass and the lanyard is race specific. The half marathon medal was similiar, just a little bit smaller. Marathoners also got free Feetures socks, too. Overall
- Flat, scenic course (gorgeous)
- running with a BRF
- weekend getaway with BRFs
- post race options
- not hitting a wall
- nailing my goal/negative split
Not so Much
- no race pics
I was REALLY, REALLY disappointed to find out they didn’t have a race photographer. If Rich had not been there to take pictures, I would have nothing. I would give anything to have an actual finish line picture, but that isn’t happening. That’s my only negative to the entire race…but that’s pretty big.
I can’t say enough about how amazing this entire experience has been. The day was perfect. Were there times I wasn’t having fun? Absolutely. But all of the good miles outweigh those 3-4 when I wanted to be done. The course is gorgeous, the “mitten” of Michigan is so clean and pretty and impressed me much more than I expected. The race is small, but so well organized and supported. There is a 10K, half marathon, and marathon and it sells out every year (the half sells out in less than 24-48 hours I think), so you can assume that it’s THAT good. This race is a must-do in my opinion. If I didn’t have a states goal, I would go back year after year.
As far as my performance goes- I put in the work and it paid off. I literally had the perfect day. Coach Chris was a huge part in me getting to this point and helping me believe in myself. I PR’d by 11 plus minutes and I REALLY got my BQ this time.
I’m so thankful for Molly who was kind enough to run with me and keep me in good spirits; for Rich who continues to be my #1 fan and cheerleader and put up with my crazy dreams and goals; and for my running friends who make these race weekends the most fun.Bayshore, you were amazing and made me fall back in love with the marathon. Thank you!!!
Have you had a pacer in a race before? Has a race completely exceeded your expectations?