I entered into Traverse City the day prior to Bayshore with a bit more anxiety and trepidation than I would have liked to have had, entirely thanks to the debacle that was Green Bay. Here’s a rough timeline of how things went down for my Michigan marathon.
Friday, 3pm: Arrive at Traverse City State Park. There’s a massive backlog of people checking in for the long weekend – I explain to the lady that I’m only staying one day even though I booked two nights so only and she looks at me like I have two heads. I’ve been getting a lot of awkwardness lately and am not sure why. Put my tent up – I can see the water from here, the beach is over a little pedestrian overpass over the highway.
4:20pm: Head to the local high school a bit early for registration. I decide to drop $15 on the pasta dinner as it’s a fundraiser and I’d rather just eat early and be done with it, skip the whole driving around trying to find a decent restaurant options. The shirt is really cool, and they give us special Bayshore Marathon socks! I splurge and buy another few pairs of whatever the guy has that are most expensive – I’ve been dealing with blisters on my left big toe all week from Green Bay and like a moron haven’t brought any non-cotton running socks with me on the trip.
6pm: Driving though downtown Traverse City, just to poke around. My primary goal is to find coffee as I haven’t had enough for my GI health in the last several days. I find a coffee place at 6:03 – they of course are just closed but let me sneak in anyway. I get two cups, one for now, one to go on ice for the morning. Bringing a cooler from Mikey’s house was the smartest logistical move of the trip.
7pm: Back to the campsite, chillin’ and reading my book. It’s super stupid early but I’m trying to hydrate, stay off my feet and do mental prep for a few hours.
9pm: Crash out for a few hours.
11pm: Wake up to party camp USA. The kids that were running around screaming earlier have gone to bed to be replaced by the campfire drinkers. I listen to them talk til almost 1am when I finally get the idea to put my headphones in and let Sufjan Stevens put me to sleep.
Saturday, 3:15am: Awake before my alarm at 3:30. Dressed and water and coffee and a last minute fashion life-crisis regarding my shades of orange.
4:40am: I head to the high school & start. I had heard someone at the expo say the local parking lot would be full by 4:45am – this is wildly inaccurate. I am one of the first five people there. Fortunately the gym is open as they have a morning of packet pickup. Numbers start to build and we chill inside until the sun starts to come up.
6am: Outside. Temps are good, not cold, not hot. The DJ is playing obnoxiously upbeat music for the hour. The half marathoners have all be bused to the far end of the course so there are more than enough port-a-potties for last minute needs. I obsess a bit about why I’m one of only a very few with a camelbak – regardless, I’m wearing it for the race.
7am: Race start! I spend the first mile convinced the tape job I did on my toe blister is causing my foot to slide inside my shoe. Eventually I’m able to stop thinking about it – it never became a problem (thanks expensive socks!). First four miles are through residential neighborhoods – people are at the end of their drives in chairs even though it’s Saturday and stupid early. Good support.
Mile 10 I take my sports beans. This is a recent change to my strategy and I’m not completely sold on them, but I did buy a 24 pack through Amazon so into the body furnace they go.
8:47:11am: I hit the midway point. I’ve been purposely trying to go slower than I did in Green Bay but my time is faster at half. It’s clear that the lack of heat is good news – there’s honestly no difference in my fitness between last week and this week but here I feel strong, no need to slow. From this point on it’s overcast – no sun is good sun on marathon day. The water of Grand Traverse Bay is omnipresent in this course – from the turn around it stays comfortably on our left.
I decide at 16 that if I’m feeling good at 22 I’ll let myself drop my splits there. This is really just a stalling strategy – I know I’m 100% fine through 16, 90% fine through 20, but 20+ is a mystery, can go either way. Once I actually get to 22 I feel good, but my times have started to slip a bit. Support is high – I take my headphones off for each group of supporters. I’ve found acknowledging them is a good way to get a response back, particularly if they’re waiting for one person instead of cheering in general. Drinking twice at every station by now, up to Gu #4, which is more than usual for me. People keep handing them to me, I keep taking them.
At mile 25 I’ve furtively checked my “average pace” setting on my watch enough to know I’m within striking distance of 3:35 time. I kick the last mile and finish without any sort of asthma episode (unlike in New Orleans, and Baltimore, and St. Louis). My time comes in just over, officially my chip time is 3:35:34 – I neglected to compensate for the +0.1 mile differential my GPS had built up over the course of the race. Still, a massive PR for me, 19+ minutes faster than New Orleans.
11am: Post-party. Ice cream for free and I’m stupid happy. I chill for a hour trying to get on top of things leg-wise then go cheer for the rest of the field.
1pm: Back to the campground to shower and knock down camp & then a long drive back to Chicago. The take home lesson here – it is technically possible to drive for six hours after a marathon, but I really shouldn’t do that again. But no harm no foul, Chicago is waiting and beautiful when I get there. Honestly, it feels like home. I really would not mind living here someday.
Anyway, so as to not bury the lede, despite some six months of planning & training, I didn’t finish the Green Bay Marathon today. At mile 18 we were told to stop – at 19.8 I finally did.
As far as the part of the race I was able to run – the first half went pretty well. It wasn’t hot at the start, I ran with the 3:35 pace group for the first 10 miles (I was 1:22:23 through 10, an 8:14 split). It was about at the split from the half marathoners at 12 that I started noticing the heat. Much of the first 12 was on shaded residential streets – the miles after the split were more exposed & the sun was brutal. I haven’t trained much in the heat – we simply haven’t had any weather like this.
By 13.1, I was running an 8:18 split and had lost my 3:35 pace group. By 15 I was passed by the 3:40 group and my splits had soared over 9:00. I don’t remember much between 15 & 18. The course here was beautiful along the Fox River Trail – more shade but not enough. Really what we needed was cloud cover.
So, canceled, black-flagged, whatever, the call was made by the medical director. Probably for the best. But I’m still somewhat irritated with the ass-covering posturing by the race director in the news today. You didn’t run out of water? Fantastic, glad to see you getting those liability talking points squared away. You want a pat on the back for not running out of water?? Tone-deafness to the disappointment of so many who could have finished but were blocked from doing so, and complaining in the press about those who chose to continue? That’s tacky.
I can’t help but contrast this to what I saw last month when volunteering at the Boston Marathon. That day was hotter, that race started later, and runners adapted as needed, run/ walking as needed. Not that this should be our metric but no one died in Boston, and no one pulled the plug two and a half hours in.
I guess I’m just irritated with the whole situation whether or not it was the right call. Worse, I was highly annoyed to finally get to the finish and find that I couldn’t work my way into the runner’s chute to get bananas, etc. And on finding the food tent – water for $1?? With all due respect, fuck whoever made that decision. It should not be easier to get cold beer than to get cold water, yet there we were. And insult to injury, the band was also canceled, so after listening to 30 minutes of droned race results, there was no entertainment. Upon trying to leave I waited another hour for a hotel shuttle.
Despite my disappointment, I’d like to end this on somewhat of a positive note. Every volunteer on the course was noticeably helpful & supportive. And the rest of the people I’ve met in Wisconsin so far could not have been nicer. The race shirt is quite nice, and I was thankfully able to get a medal (that obviously I don’t deserve). And lastly, since I didn’t finish & can’t check Wisconsin off my list, I’ll happily come back for another race. Just, next time, it’ll be Madison.
Song of the week from an early mile (~3), Foster the People, Pumped up Kicks.
A week from today I’ll be up in Wisconsin, running the Green Bay Marathon. Much like my post one week prior to the New Orleans Marathon, I’m feeling rather happy to be done with the last long run. Better yet, unlike back then I’m thankfully not recovering from any sort of illness. My current problems are all mental (and/or generic joint achy-breakiness). I was taking at look at my training log – I love that it’s so easy to export this to CSV format from daily mile! Anyway in the time since January 16th, the day I started my 18 week training cycle, I’ve run 723.4 miles, roughly 42.5 per week. This is a bump of 60 miles over the pre-New Orleans cycle, which should translate into greater fitness later in the race when the going gets tough. And as the plot to the right should show, I’m still making some gains in the speed department.
Let’s google race news! Unfortunately it looks like the mayor of Green Bay (Jim Schmitt) has twisted his ankle and is dropping out. Well that sucks. And registration is down this year due to our not finishing in Lambeau Field. Huh. We really need some positive news here. Ok here’s something about volunteers helping some disabled folks in the race. That’ll do.
Song of the week, Slow Show by The National. I’ve listened to this song entirely too many times.
The best endorphin rush I’ve had in weeks came to me tonight via a combination of a key change near the end of Dan Deacon’s Snookered at the same time that I got an unexpected smile from some random runner girl on that small vulnerable part of Memorial Drive that lips out over the Charles River just past the Longfellow Bridge (this little bit). That moment pretty much made today into an OK day.
Two weeks til the Green Bay Marathon. I’m technically supposed to be tapering but it didn’t really happen this week. Next week will be slower & shorter.
Accommodations for the Bayshore Marathon, the second race of my upcoming trip have been finalized. Against rational judgement I’ll be camping the night before as all hotels within an hour of Traverse City are either sold out or charging $200 a night. Instead I’ll sleep on some dirt & still try to wake up by 5am.
Song of the week, Make Some Noise by the Beastie Boy. Here’s the 30 minute version. RIP MCA.
You can sign up now for text or email updates for the upcoming Green Bay Marathon here. My bib number will be 879, a good solid nice & low number. It’s not a prime (being divisible by 3) but 877 and 881 are, so 879 is nicely bracketed.
Tracking for Bayshore isn’t available yet.
I’ve been playing with this McMillan race calculator thing tonight, plugging in my recent races. From each of those times it calculates an estimated marathon time for me, all of which are considerably (20-25 minutes) faster than my goal time of 3:50. So maybe I’m sandbagging a bit. I ran a 7:23 split for my last half-marathon, maybe it’s not unrealistic to think that I could stick an 8:23 in Green Bay for a 3:40 race. Particularly now that I’ve got the power of GPS on my side.
Also a postscript, unrelated to anything I usually talk about on here, but I heard from KKV that Mikey’s safely out of surgery with a positive prognosis from his docs. So very very happy to hear that, and happy to be seeing both of them in two weeks!
I’ll be running the BAA 10K June 24th w/ VK LZ & co. My still-to-go-in-2012 race list is getting up there (I’m currently registered for 9 races with a few more short ones I know of [hello!?] still to come). When I ran this race last year it was my first ever 10K and VK & I celebrated by running-slash-mud slogging the Warrior Dash later that afternoon. That was week 2 of training for Baltimore, a million miles ago.
I need change for the better in this area of my life. I just don’t have the answers right now as to how best to achieve this. A change of scenery couldn’t hurt though.