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.