Grand Rapids Half Marathon Race Recap

2017-10-15 - grmarathon medal

The 2013 Grand Rapids Marathon was my first marathon, so of course it was a memorable experience. Little did I know that this year’s half marathon on Sunday, October 15th would end up being unforgettable in a different way. It was definitely an “experience.” Thanks to less than ideal weather conditions, I’m sure this one will remain pretty fresh in my memory for years to come.

I actually signed up to run this half in 2016. I thought I’d use it as a training run as I worked toward running the Richmond Marathon. When I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot in August last year, it was clear that I wouldn’t recover soon enough to run either race. The Grand Rapids Marathon is one of few races that provide the option to defer to the following year. I opted to pay the $25 fee to do so and this race was on my calendar for over a year.

One big reason I enjoy the Grand Rapids Marathon so much is because of Don Kern, the race director. He has a positive attitude and a great outlook on life that really resonates with me. When I considered signing up for the marathon in 2013, the humorous FAQ section on the website caught my interest and made me laugh. He sends newsletters every week as the race approaches, and they become daily updates when the race is 10 days out. He shares inspirational stories from his past marathons as well as tips to help alleviate any pre-race worries. Don has run over 300 marathons and has a lot of great stories to tell, many of which are documented in his book and the adventure continues…. It’s a great read about the adventures of an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things – such as setting the world record for the fastest time to complete a marathon on each continent.

As the race day approached, I fell into the habit of obsessively checking the weather forecast. It didn’t look good. It looked like it would rain, and it could be cool and windy as well. As people began to worry about the weather conditions for this year’s race, here’s what Don had to say:


“So here’s the deal. In case of bad weather, the race will be held OUTDOORS!

Ever run in the rain before?

Some people are asking me about if it’s possible the race will be canceled because of weather. 95 degrees. -25 degrees. Deluge thunderstorms. Wind. Rain. Fog. Whatever. We’ll cancel if there’s a disaster of Biblical proportions. Otherwise, plan on this thing happening. We’ve had 12 years of nice weather. What if one year we don’t?

Always remember–there’s more in you than you think. More strength. More determination. More guts. It’s all in there. Make it happen.”

 

Don’s advice helped me relax. He was right – I’ve run in the rain before and it was fine. Rather than going into the race thinking it was going to suck, I adjusted my mindset and looked at it as an adventure. As Don pointed out, if the weather was bad, we’d have a good story to tell. Boy, was he right…

Grand Rapids is more than two hours away from home, so I headed out the day before the race and stayed at a hotel. The drive out there was kind of miserable as it rained steadily the whole time. I went to the expo at the YMCA for the packet pickup. A pair of socks was included along with the long sleeve shirt. I found a nice short sleeve Brooks shirt that I bought as well.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon race shirt

2017-10-15 - grmarathon expo shirt

I walked around a mall for a bit, got my standard pre-race dinner at Noodles and Company, then settled in at the hotel for the night. Although I had come to terms with whatever race day conditions we faced, I still kept following all of the updates. A video was posted of Don out at a flooded spot along the race course.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon puddle

It was turning into an obstacle race at this point! We might have a few steps through a monster puddle, but we’d survive.

Although the forecast still didn’t look good, it was in the mid-60s and the rain had stopped when I headed out the next morning. Since the “velocity-challenged” racers were due to start at 7:00, I got to a parking lot by 6:45 to avoid dealing with road closures. I took a bag with post-race clothes to the gear check tent, jogged around a bit, and lined up in the corral. I happened to turn around and see one of my online running buddies Pete right behind me, so we chatted for a few minutes.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon start.jpg

We’re lucky that the rain held off prior to the race so we stayed dry and warm. As the National Anthem began, the first drops of rain came. Over the next couple minutes, a few drops turned into a steady rain just as we were about to start. I looked at the girl next to me and we both just laughed and shook our heads. I was thankful that it was warm enough and I was smart enough to wear my triathlon outfit since this was practically a duathlon! I can imagine it would be annoying to have a wet t-shirt and shorts weighing down on me for 13 miles.

In addition to the rain, we had a pretty strong wind to deal with as well. Shortly after we started the wind blew the rain sideways and I heard someone comment that it felt like pellets. This was going to be an interesting one!

I was soaked within the first few minutes. Although I tried to go around most of the bigger puddles, I realized it really didn’t matter. It’s not like I’d end up more wet than I already was. I used Aquaphor all over my feet and wore Injinji toe socks, so I hoped that my feet wouldn’t turn into a mess of blisters. We ran around some streets in downtown Grand Rapids to start, and one stretch through the busy part of town had a lot of spectators cheering us on. I give the volunteers and spectators a ton of credit. At least we got to keep moving and stay warm, while they were standing there getting cold and wet.

After five miles or so of running through the streets downtown, we veered off onto a paved path through Millennium Park. When I ran the full marathon, I really enjoyed running a long stretch of Indian Mounds Road. It’s lined with trees that can be really pretty at this time of year. However, the half marathon turns before hitting that stretch. I didn’t notice scenery much during this race, with the exception of one short area 9-10 miles into the race. We finally got some nice fall colors in that spot versus mostly green everywhere else. I realized that I had forgotten about the hills along the course. I mostly view this race as “flat and fast” but it does have a few little climbs to keep things interesting.

Pretty early into the race I knew that I’d roll along without any big expectations. I hoped that I’d run faster than I had at the Brooksie Way half a few weeks earlier, but that was the only real goal. I didn’t feel especially fresh or fast, aside from a part around the ninth or tenth mile when there was enough of a downhill stretch to help speed me up. The rain didn’t bother me all that much, and it came and went a few times. During the few brief moments when it wasn’t raining, I noticed that my face was pretty warm. The temperature dropped throughout the day, and it’s probably for the best that it was a little warm. I’d rather not be cold in the rain and wind!

Don had announced at the beginning of the race that they had been able to clear up most of the “lake” about seven miles into the race. By the time I got there, it had been raining for nearly an hour and was pretty flooded again. Someone was making a great effort to reduce it by sweeping it and using a pump, but our feet were completely submerged for several steps.

I had to hold onto my hat a few times thanks to the wind, but it didn’t seem to affect me too much until the end of the race when everything felt hard enough as it was. I didn’t look at my watch very often, but I seemed to be averaging somewhere around an 8:00 pace as far as I knew. I didn’t realize that I had a few faster miles mixed in during the second half of the race that helped me end up with a negative split. I felt like most of the run was quite an effort, but mostly sustainable. The last few miles felt more labored though. It’s understandable considering my training.

I normally like to follow a training plan for the half marathon that requires speed work and tempo runs. I’m normally used to running a specific race pace. However, I’ve been cautious this past year because I feel little tweaks occasionally from the foot that I injured. It’s been a year – how long can this linger? I’m very thankful that I’ve been okay running up to the half marathon distance, but it’s still frustrating. Most of my runs have been at an easy pace aside from racing every few weeks throughout the summer. I’m surprised that I was able to sustain an 8:00 pace for so long when I haven’t been running it during training. The end of the race felt hard, but somehow I kept going and even sped up a little. This wasn’t one of those races where I started slow, sped up, and felt strong through the end though. I battled the rain and wind and managed to keep going, but I didn’t feel great. Here’s a picture from the final stretch when I didn’t see the photographer:

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When I knew there would be a photographer at the finish, I faked a smile. The above picture reflects how I felt more accurately though, haha.

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I finished in 1:43:47 – around two minutes better than my time at Brooksie. Goal achieved! It’s clear that the heat and hills of Brooksie were more difficult for me than coping with the pouring rain.

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Here are my splits:

2017-10-15 - grmarathon splits.jpg

As if I haven’t raved about Don Kern enough already, another awesome thing he does is greet every person at the finish line. He’s there to shake every last person’s hand, and I think that’s pretty awesome. Especially in those conditions.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon don kern finish.jpg

I was thankful for the heat blanket at the finish, because once I stopped moving I started to get cold. Although the frozen custard available in the food line looked good, I knew it wouldn’t be the best idea for me. I opted to grab a bagel, granola bar, apple, fruit snacks, and chocolate milk. I thought the chocolate milk would be a good way to get protein and refuel. I decided that was more important than the post-race beer, which I didn’t think would mix well in my stomach after a whole bottle of chocolate milk.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon beer tent

Eventually I went to the gear check tent to get my clothes. I was shivering by that point and my hands were getting especially cold. The race starts and ends by the YMCA, and they are kind enough to let the runners use the locker room. I got a post-race picture prior to changing.

2017-10-15 - grmarathon janet

You can’t tell from the picture, but I was totally soaked. During a triathlon, at least you have the benefit of drying off a bit thanks to the wind on the bike. Not this time! I started and finished totally soaked. I felt much better when I got into some dry clothes, but my hands were bad enough that I had to sit in the car with the heat on for a while before they got back to normal.

Looking back at the experience a week later, yes, it was hard and kind of sucked at times. But it was a memorable adventure, and having accomplished the race in such challenging conditions makes it that much sweeter. I had moments during the race where I smiled at the ridiculousness of voluntarily running 13 miles in the pouring rain. I also had moments where I was just trotting along, not quite suffering but not feeling great either. I feel good about the actual results of my race, but it also means more to me in the bigger picture. This race was a great reminder to keep a positive attitude, be adaptable, and try not to worry so much. The fact that it was so ridiculous and impractical is part of what made me enjoy it. It all worked out, and believe it or not, was actually pretty fun.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

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Brooksie Way Half Marathon Recap

Brooksie Way is the ultimate hometown race for me. We live half a mile north of one section of the route, so that’s about as close to home as it gets! The half marathon starts and ends at Oakland University, and the course winds around the trails and roads I run all the time in Rochester/Rochester Hills. It’s a scenic course with good variety, but it’s also very hilly and challenging.

One thing that really draws me to the race is the sense of community. Between the 5K, 10K, and half marathon, over 3,700 people participated this year. I love getting to participate in a race in my town and seeing the race proceeds go back into the community in the form of mini-grants. It’s fun to see so many familiar faces, between running friends I know from the area and people I see at the gym and on the trail regularly. The Chevy Running Club from my work takes part in the Team Challenge and draws a pretty big group too.

As much as I love this race, I was kind of surprised when I realized I had only done it twice – in 2011 and 2012. I had to look back at the last five years to remember why it had been so long. The race conflicted with family plans in 2013. In 2014 and 2015, the course was altered due to construction and took runners up a brutally steep hill that I hate during the later miles. Because of that, I bypassed the race those years. I signed up for last year’s race, but a pesky stress fracture derailed those plans. After a five-year break, I was pretty excited to get back to it this year.

The race expo is held at Oakland University’s recreation center. This year they offered $15 discount codes for 2018’s race to the first 100 people in the doors both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. I got there about 10 minutes early on Saturday morning and was among the first 15 people, so I guess now I have a good reason to commit to next year’s race! It was nice to get there early before it got crowded. I picked up discount codes to a couple other races I may consider, and found some good deals on shirts…as if I need more. I found high-quality Brooks podium shirts for $10 a piece.

2017-09-24 - brooksie sale shirt

In the past, the official race shirts were nice ones from Brooks too, but not these. I prefer the Brooks quality, but hopefully this one will be nice enough to wear regularly.

2017-09-24 - brooksie race shirt

I also stopped by the official Brooksie merch table and got an additional shirt in honor of the 10th year of the race.

2017-09-24 - brooksie 10 year shirt

The race was due to start at 8:00 on Sunday, September 24th. I got there a little before 7:00 and parked easily right on the race grounds. Typically, it’s the perfect time of year for a nice, cool fall race. This year was a different story though. We’d been stuck in a heatwave for at least a week. We were looking at potentially breaking a record the day of the race. The good thing is that at least I was acclimated as much as I could be. I had made a point of going out to run when it was extra hot in the week or so leading up to the race. Still, as much as I tried to be prepared, it’s never ideal for me when it’s nearly 70 degrees at the start of a longer race.

As I jogged around to warm up, I noticed that people were walking around inside the gates of Meadow Brook Amphitheatre. The race starts along the main drive into the venue. I’m not sure why it was open, but since it was, I decided to go in and explore. Meadow Brook is one of my favorite concert venues, and it was cool to see it looking so peaceful as the sun was rising. Some people were using the restrooms and some were warming up by running around the grounds.

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The Chevy group met for a photo at 7:45, then I wandered over to the start.

2017-09-24 - brooksie chevy group

2017-09-24 - brooksie start

The first wave went off at 8:05, and mine followed a couple minutes later. It didn’t take long to clear the shade of the trees and get out in the open with the sun. Fortunately, the route only took us into the sun during the early miles when it wasn’t too hot yet. Entertainment was spread out every mile or so, including a guy playing bagpipes and local news anchor Stephen Clark’s band within the first few miles. Someone was offering cider and donuts to the runners which made me laugh. I don’t think that would sit too well. The first few miles start out downhill, then we got some shade as we ran along the flat Clinton River Trail for a bit. I had a Foo Fighters song running through my head at that point, so I got extra fired up when I passed a guy playing an acoustic guitar while singing a different Foo Fighters song!

Five miles into the race was the first taste of some hills, although minor compared to what was coming later. There was a quick trip through downtown Rochester and the park, then about a mile up Paint Creek Trail – the place where I run most frequently. That’s where we hit the halfway point and when I could tell I was slowing down. Even though the trail seems flat, there’s the slightest incline which I always feel when I’m already struggling.

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I was happy to see Matt at the end of the stretch on the trail. Notice the smile on my face in his pictures versus the photo from the race’s photographer, haha. It was good to see him, and he stuck around long enough to catch some great photos of a couple other friends too.

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My smile didn’t last long because as soon as the trail portion ended, the real hills began. Even though I’d done repeats on the first big hill numerous times leading up to the race, it didn’t feel any easier. Running that hill seven miles into a race is a lot different from doing repeats on fresh legs. From that point on, the rest of the race was a struggle. I was running with a 21 oz. bottle of GU Brew and was trying to conserve some of it. I realized that I was thirsty and should be drinking more, so I started to grab water along the course as well. Since I tend to spill most of it when it’s in a cup, I only got a few sips here and there.

I was mostly in survival mode for the last five miles of the race, where the most challenging hills seem never-ending.

After the tenth mile I came across a guy handing out small bottles of water. He was a savior and I was finally able to drink enough. I knew that Roland from my work would be spectating somewhere after 11 miles, so looking for him helped distract me for a bit. He has come out to cheer for me each of the three years I’ve run the race which is so awesome of him. Seeing him made me smile – especially when he showed me that his shirt said “Run, Janet, Run!” The next day he told me that another woman named Janet ran up to him for a selfie. It was nice to have that little boost when I was struggling.

Knowing that I was nearing the end, I managed to pick up the pace. The uphill climb to the finish line was brutal, so it was nice to see my friend Jeff from work cheering me on. He didn’t get a smile from me at that point though – I was just hoping my final push wouldn’t give me a heart attack! Somehow I faked a smile for my finishing photo though.

2017-09-24 - brooksie janet finish

This was a rough one. A month earlier the Crim 10-mile had been an ideal race for me. I started slow, finished fast, and felt strong the whole time. This race was practically the opposite. A 20-degree difference in the temperature at the start was probably a part of it. I’ve had the heat shut me down in a couple races, and luckily that didn’t seem to be the case this time. However, I think the heat and hills together were a rough combination. Although I’m very familiar with the course, the five-year gap since I’d last done the race helped me forget just how hard it can be. My splits show how I dropped off during the second half. I didn’t look at my watch much later in the race because I really didn’t want to know how bad it had gotten. Based on how I felt, I thought some of the splits would have been a lot slower than they actually were!

2017-09-24 - brooksie splits

2017-09-24 - brooksie results

When I saw that my final time was just under 1:46, I was pretty happy. It was similar to my 2012 time. I knew I should be happy with the results on a hard day, on a hard course, without having followed a training plan to truly prepare me to run a half. I was also pretty thrilled to see that I was fifth in my age group. When I race distances much longer than 10K, I usually don’t place within the top 10. We don’t have results for the Team Challenge yet, but I’m hopeful that my placing will help one of our Chevy teams score well.

2017-09-24 - brooksie medal

I took my time walking through the finishing chute and picked up a Rice Krispies Treat, granola bar, bag of pretzels, etc. A free photo booth was available so I got in line. It was a very slow line and I waited at least 20 minutes, but caught up with my running friend Carmen (read her post about the race here) as well as Jeff and Jenny while I waited.

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The photo above was texted to me within a minute, then I finally made my way to the Team Challenge tent. It’s definitely one of the perks of participating in the challenge. The post-race snacks at the finish line weren’t very substantial or filling, so it was nice to load up on some carbs provided by Rochester Mills.

2017-09-24 - brooksie food

I chatted with a couple from work for a while and eventually made my way to the post-race tent that was open to everyone. There was another photo booth there where they actually provided a physical print.

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After spending a couple hours on site after the race, I finally headed home. Matt always picks up the best post-race treats!

2017-09-24 - brooksie donuts

I was fortunate to have a lot of really solid races this summer, so I suppose I was due for a tough one. I know that the weather played a role in the struggle, so I’m happy that I did as well as I did considering the conditions. Even though I didn’t have the strong feeling that I did throughout Crim, I still feel like this was a successful race.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo Recap

I spent the summer concentrating solely on triathlons, so I was pleasantly surprised when I ran a really strong 10-mile race at the end of August. Triathlon season has wrapped up for me and that was the first “running-only” event I had done this year. The results got me excited to concentrate on running again, which prompted a visit to RunMichigan.com to create a list of potential races I might want to run through the end of the year.

Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo stood out because I had done the 5K in 2014. At the time, it had been a borderline PR for me and I remembered how much I loved the fast, flat course. They have a 5K, 10K, and a “Too Wild” combo that includes both. Since I had just raced 10 miles so successfully, I thought the 9.3-mile combo race sounded like a good challenge.

Romeo always wants to be a part of the action, so of course he was there to photo bomb my picture of the race shirt

Romeo always wants to be a part of the action, so of course he was there to photobomb my picture of the race shirt

Sunday, September 10th was the day of the race and the weather was absolutely perfect. I got there pretty early and hung out in the car for a while since I had picked up my packet a couple days earlier. The 5K was first, and I warmed up with a half mile jog before lining up. I was happy to see pace signs to help organize the crowd.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 5k start

48 degrees felt cool (but great) for the start of the 5K. I didn’t have a specific goal or a target pace. I just planned to run hard and see what happened. The course runs around the outside of the zoo, past a golf course, and through a nice neighborhood in Huntington Woods. It’s as flat as can be, and with few turns, it can make for a fast race.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 5k route

I ran just above a 7-minute pace for the first couple miles and picked up after that. There’s a long, straight shot down Woodward right before the finish line. I used that stretch for my final sprint, forgetting that it was actually half a mile and that it was tough to sprint for that long!

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 5k finish

I couldn’t believe that the clock had just turned past 21 minutes as I approached. My prior PR had been 21:31, so with a time of 21:04, I had shaved quite a chunk off of that. I hadn’t PR’ed in the 5K for three years, so I was pretty excited.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 5k results

I got my medal and they handed out pre-filled water bottles. The zoo is on a mission to keep disposable bottles out of the environment, so it’s pretty cool that they had these.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo water bottle.jpg

They had Gatorade, apples, and bananas right after the finish line as well. I bypassed all of that because I had a specific fueling plan in mind with the 10K coming up next. The tricky part about doing a 5K/10K combo race is the downtime between races. The 5K started at 8:00 and the 10K started at 9:15. That meant I had almost an hour to kill. I had done a challenge like this once before, and it also took place on a cool morning. I ran that 5K really hard and the 10K felt pretty rough afterward. I was curious to see if the same thing would happen this time. I walked around so I wouldn’t stiffen up and went to take a picture with the famous water tower in the background.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 5k finish2

I spent a little time in the car with the heat on and swapped my long sleeve shirt for a short sleeve one. I knew it was warming up and I wouldn’t need long sleeves for the longer distance. I had a few Clif Shot Bloks and water, hit the bathroom, then did another half mile jog to loosen up. I was relieved that the warm up jog didn’t feel too bad. It was funny to go through the routine again and line up for a second time.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 10k start

The 10K felt a bit more labored, but it’s a tricky distance for me. It’s short enough to still run pretty hard, yet somehow maintain it for a longer time. My first couple miles were in the 7:30s, my next few were in the 7:20s, then I picked up through the end. The course started the same way as the 5K until we branched off on some other roads to add more distance, then we finished the same way. Although it was tough, it helped to have people around to keep me going.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 10k finish

2017-09-10 detroit zoo 10k results.jpg

Once again, I was pretty shocked and thrilled when I saw the clock. My 10K PR from a couple years earlier had been 45:16, so I had shaved five seconds off of that. Double PRs? Awesome! I felt pretty accomplished and like I had really earned the special “Too Wild” medal.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo medal.jpg

People who did the combo race weren’t eligible for age group awards in the individual races, and they didn’t have those awards for the challenge either. They posted the final results for the combo online the next day. Although I cared more about breaking my own records, it was cool to see that I was the second woman out of 79, and eighth overall out of 137!

One of the cool parts about running this race is getting free admission to the zoo afterward. They also have a post-race party with a band and a bunch of food. They had more fruit, granola bars, chips, pretzels, hot dogs, and burgers. I thought it was especially nice that they also had a black bean/veggie burger option.

2017-09-10 detroit zoo party1

2017-09-10 detroit zoo party2

After the meal, I spent 2-3 hours walking around the zoo with my camera. I am very fortunate to take photos of cars/trucks/parts for a living. The number of “fun photos” I’ve taken outside of work has dropped off considerably as running, biking, and swimming have taken over much of my time. It was nice to get the camera out and take some fun shots of the animals. Here are a bunch that I took:

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I probably walked 3-4 more miles through the zoo. Although my legs were tired from racing so hard, I think I recover better if I keep moving.

I had a great day at the zoo and would definitely return to this race again in the future. It’s fun to combine a day of running with a walk through the zoo, and it’s for a good cause as well.

I’ve had some pretty good races lately and I keep surprising myself with my recent speed. When I PR’ed in the 5K and 10K in the past, I’d been running higher mileage with very specific speed workouts. The combination of swimming/biking/running plus racing often seems to be working in my favor. I’ll see how it works for me when I bump my distance up next weekend for the Brooksie Way Half Marathon.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Crim 10-Mile Race Recap

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A photo I took at Crim in 2016

In 2015, I ran the Crim 10-Mile race for the first time and immediately understood why so many local runner friends run the race every year. I had a blast and was excited to run again in 2016. Unfortunately, a stress fracture left me sidelined and I could only spectate. I’m glad that I went to cheer for Matt and other friends because it was still an inspirational and fun experience to watch a race of that size. I was a bit heartbroken that I couldn’t participate, so it made me even more anxious to get back to the race in 2017. I was healthy and ready to go, and ran my second Crim on Saturday, August 26.

I really had no idea how to approach this race or what kind of pace to aim for. When I ran in 2015, I was in the middle of marathon training. I was averaging 50+ miles per week and was very familiar with what paces I could run for various distances. I’ve been averaging 25 miles per week recently and have not been targeting specific paces at all. I recovered from last summer’s stress fracture only to have the area flare up again in January. I’ve been extra cautious about speed and mileage since my return to running in April. I had done a couple of 10-mile long runs and one 11-mile run in the last couple months, but haven’t been doing any structured speed work. The only real speed I’ve done has been during my triathlons throughout the summer. I wondered if it was reasonable to aim for an 8:00 pace, simply because that had been my goal marathon pace last year.

I made sure to get to Flint nice and early the morning of the race. I parked around 6:30, which gave me an hour and a half until race time. I still had to pick up my packet and I was probably parked about half a mile away.

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The design on the front of this year’s shirt

After I got my stuff and made a bathroom stop, I went back to the car to get organized and to stay warm for a few minutes. It was a clear morning, just under 50 degrees with no wind. It was perfect running weather but a bit cool for walking around in a t-shirt and shorts beforehand. Crim has historically been warm and/or humid, so the awesomely cool weather was almost unheard of.

I met up with the Chevy Running Club for a group photo at 7:30. I was sporting the team shirt and ran for GM as part of the Corporate Challenge. We had nine teams of ten people – 90 participants! That’s the most we’ve ever had for Crim. Only about half of the people made it for the group photo. Several days after the race I found out that one of our teams won the Corporate Challenge for the fourth year in a row. We have some real speedsters!

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Some of the members of the Chevy Running Club

The amazing people who have run the race for 30 or more years get to start the race early.

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After watching their start, I did a brief warm up jog then waited in the corral for 10-15 minutes. Crim’s corral system keeps things nice and organized. People are placed based on their estimated finish times and reasonably-sized waves go off every 90 seconds or so.

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As I waited for the start, I still wondered what pace to run. I killed some time by playing with an app that estimates race times based on your current results. I ran a 45:50 10K at a triathlon the previous weekend. Based on that time, it estimated I could run 1:16:36. I’d been thinking of aiming for an 8:00 pace, but this told me I may be capable of 7:40 pace. Maybe I could push a little harder than I thought? Ultimately, I planned to run by feel, have fun, and see how it went.

I was in wave C and started a few minutes after 8:00. Although my hands were a little cold for the first mile or two, I couldn’t have hoped for better racing weather. We ran past the University of Michigan-Flint’s campus within the first mile. As a Wolverine, I got pretty pumped up when I heard the Michigan fight song over a speaker. That was the first of many moments that brought a smile to my face during the race.

Triathlons are the only races I’ve done this year, and people are usually scattered and spaced out during the run segment. Crim, on the other hand, is one big swarm of people. I felt energized being a part of such a large race once again. It was a big group run with a party-like atmosphere. The people of Flint come out to support the race and keep it pretty entertaining between their cheering and antics. Like the last time I did Crim, there was beer in front of one of the frat houses, there’s “Champagne Corner,” the guy who sings karaoke (and sounds great doing it) at the end of his driveway, people bouncing on a trampoline, etc. I had to laugh when I ran past one house where a group of people sat in the front yard with a “clap track” providing applause on a loop. There was a “band” named Kyle and the D-Bags, and I quickly realized the drummer and guitar player were only pretending to play along to a recording. As I ran just behind the 8:00 pace group, I totally cracked up when one spectator (who clearly didn’t understand pace groups) excitedly yelled, “Eight o’clock group! Yeah! Go eight o’clock runners!”

In addition to being entertained, I must have gotten swept up in the magic of race day. A couple of days before the race I struggled to finish the last mile of a run at an 8:00 pace. Yet somehow when race day rolls around, it becomes easy and natural. I’m not sure how that happens, but I love when it does. I think getting into a rhythm with other runners who are running a similar pace really helps. Part of it is about going with the flow. I ran an 8:06 mile to start, then the rest of my miles were 7:50 or faster. I’d glance at my watch occasionally and be surprised by the pace, but my breathing wasn’t labored so I kept rolling with it. I used my breathing and perceived effort as a guide, not my watch.

The Bradley hills are built up as one of the most challenging parts of the course, where several climbs come between miles five and six. I powered up them, and although I was breathing a bit heavily at the end of the third and final hill, I recovered quickly. I’ve made a point of including hills in some of my runs over the last couple months. Fortunately, living in Rochester *Hills* is good for training. Some of Crim’s hills seemed minor compared to the long, steep hills I’ve been running during training. When I ran Crim a couple years ago, I actually thought the rolling hills that came later were more difficult than the Bradley hills. Somehow I barely noticed them and they didn’t really bother me this time.

All around, I had a great run. After shaking off some tightness in the first mile or so, I felt strong and smooth. I consciously tried to pick up the pace the last few miles. When I looked at my watch for the 9-mile split, I realized I could hit 1:16:00 (my 2015 time) if I ran a 7:00 mile to finish. That motivated me to give it everything I had right through the end. I didn’t account for the extra 0.09 mi I ended up running, so I finished in 1:16:15 – so close. Only 15 seconds slower than my last Crim time!

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Since I didn’t look at my watch much during the run, I hadn’t realized what a solid cutdown/negative split I had run. I was pretty excited about these splits!

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I’ve had some of my best racing experiences when I’ve started slow and sped up. I wasn’t aware that I’d done it so successfully during this race. I ran by feel and I guess this is what came naturally. Everything just clicked. I wish I could bottle it up and figure out how it happened so smoothly, then always execute that well!

I got some water, chocolate milk, a couple of granola bars, then noticed a free photo tent. I waited in line for five minutes or so and they texted the picture immediately. Pretty cool!

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I went to the post-race celebration area next, where I got a bag of sliced apples from McDonald’s on the way to getting my free slice of pizza and a drink. I ran into a couple of friends and chatted for a bit. Before heading home, I stopped by the expo and got a pair of shoes for 15% off.

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2017-08-26 - crim medal

I’m thrilled with the results of this race. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me. My 5K and 10K triathlon times have improved as the season has gone on, but I didn’t know if it would help me enough for the longer distance. I’m sure the cool weather gave me a boost. I guess triathlon training has really worked in my favor. I’ve been running four days a week, totaling 20-25 miles most weeks. In the past, I’ve been used to running five or six days a week, doing tempo runs and speed work, and running double my recent weekly mileage. I thought I was underprepared for this race, so I really shocked myself.

This race also reinforced what I’ve found in the past – that Greg McMillan’s McRun app does a great job calculating my potential race times. I ended up running 21 seconds faster than it estimated, so it was pretty darn accurate.

Crim was a great boost to my confidence. I have the Brooksie Way half marathon coming up in a few weeks, and now I realize that I may be more prepared for it than I thought. I hope to do a couple of longer runs before then so I feel more secure, but this race left me feeling confident that I’m getting my speed back. Now that the weather is cooling down and I’m probably done with tri season, I’m looking forward to getting back to running-only events again.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

A Throwback to My First Triathlon Experience

I don’t remember exactly when the thought of doing a triathlon entered my radar. I started running races in 2010, occasionally used the bike for cross-training, and had grown up as a swimmer. I knew that my aunt and cousin participated in triathlons, and that was pretty inspiring to me. I think I had considered the possibility of doing a triathlon for quite a while before I was brave enough to take any action toward making it a reality.

One of the biggest factors holding me back was access to a pool. I started using Oakland University’s rec center in 2007, where I had an “alumni spouse” membership thanks to Matt. They have an amazing pool, but it doesn’t open early enough in the morning for me to swim before work. In the afternoon it was always packed with kids from a competitive swim team who use the pool for their practices. It seemed like half the time the pool was used for swim meets on weekends. I never tried to figure out when I could actually get into the pool.

One morning while I was working out at the rec center, I saw a bunch of people doing an indoor triathlon. I knew that I could do it too and was kind of bummed that I wasn’t participating. That helped motivate me to give one a try. I really had to get into a pool and return to swimming.

I joined Life Time Fitness five years ago today, and that anniversary prompted this post. Joining Life Time was my first big step toward finally getting into triathlons. The facility is 24/7, which meant I could actually get into the pool early enough to swim before work. Once I got back into swimming, I didn’t have an excuse to delay trying a triathlon anymore.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 was my first triathlon experience. Life Time had an indoor triathlon that was an hour long. 10 minutes in the pool, 30 minutes on the spin bike, and 20 minutes on the treadmill. It sounded like the perfect way for a beginner like me to see what a triathlon was like. Even though I really wanted to do it, I was hesitant to sign up at first because I was nervous about logistics. I worried about what to do during the 10-minute transition from the swim to the bike, so I practiced a transition at the gym one day. I didn’t have a triathlon suit or anything, and I tried taking my swimsuit off then switching to my biking/running clothes. That took me too long, so another day I tried putting my clothes on over my suit and it went much smoother. Once I felt more comfortable with that, I knew I’d better sign up and just do this thing.

It was due to start at 7am with waves of 10 people going off every 20 minutes. I signed up for the third wave so it wouldn’t be so early, but early enough that the locker room wouldn’t be too crazy. I got an email from the guy in charge of the race a couple days beforehand with the rules and the wave info. I saw that I was in a wave by myself! He asked if I wanted to switch, and I said I was okay with it because it meant I wouldn’t have to share a lane for the swim. He said that was fine and more people would probably sign up.

I got there half an hour early the morning of the race to check in. I received a visor as swag for the race, got my bib for the bike and run, then had my race number written on my arm and my wave number on my hand. I saw that two more people were in my wave, so at least I wouldn’t feel too weird about being in a wave alone. I still had nerves even though I knew I’d be fine!

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I headed to the pool as the previous wave finished. A guy and a girl were in my wave and both were very nice. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive. The girl had done the race the previous year. She said they had put her in a lane with a guy assuming he’d be faster, but they ended up swimming side by side. I was relieved that I’d have my own lane because otherwise I’d worry about crashing into someone while doing a flip turn. I had time to swim two lengths to warm up, then it was time to start. They put us in the three center lanes of the pool and people sat at the other end with clipboards to count our lengths. They had cones at the halfway point because half-lengths counted too. We were told that they would blow a whistle with one minute left, then three times when our time was up. Once I got going, I got water in my ears and couldn’t hear anything anyway. I knew from my training that I should be able to pull off 20 lengths. It seemed like the time flew by. When I hit 20, I still hadn’t heard the whistle. I barely heard the three whistles to end the swim before I reached 21.5. When I stopped, I was pretty wiped out. I hopped my way through the rest of the pool to the wall, and I was a bit wobbly when I got out. I went into the locker room for the 10-minute transition time before the bike.

I took my swim cap off and went to my locker to dry off quickly. I threw a shirt on along with my tri shorts. I put a hat on, semi-dried my soaking ponytail, then put my socks and shoes on. I gathered my iPod, water, and some towels, and still had a couple minutes to spare as I ran to the cycling studio.

There were people riding the spin bikes when I got there, and the volunteers directed me to the other side of the room. The other people were from the last wave and still finishing their half hour ride. I got to a bike and tried to raise the seat but struggled. I’d only used the spin bikes once and didn’t really know how they worked. Luckily the guy in charge came over quickly and helped me out. He adjusted my seat and handlebars for me. What a lifesaver! There was a little calculator hooked up to the bike to show speed and distance. I had read online that the distance seemed to be greatly exaggerated, so I was expecting that. My problem with the spin bike is that I didn’t know how to gauge the perfect amount of resistance to use. I never really figured that out, but I hit around 40 mph at my best. Obviously it WAS way off because I’m not that fast. I biked pretty hard, but could tell the guy in my wave was going much faster. I have a lot to learn when it comes to the bike. The volunteers were great and kept telling us we were doing good and to keep it up. One guy waved towels at us to give us some breeze and they had music blaring so I didn’t need my iPod. I pushed as hard as I could and my legs felt pretty rough when I got off the bike. We had five minutes to transition to the run. I stretched a bit, went upstairs, filled my water bottle, then went to the treadmills.

They told us the best way to start was to hit the Quick Start button then bump the speed up. I did, but quickly realized I shouldn’t have listened. I usually hit the 6 mph button (a 10-minute pace) and speed up from there. The Quick Start ramp up from 0 was REALLY slow. I finally got the pace to the mid-8s, then the 7’s. I decided my legs didn’t seem to hurt from the bike, so I set it to 6:44. I really surprised myself by managing to hold that pace for a couple of miles! At one point I adjusted it to 6:40, then even faster than that. I didn’t keep that up for long though because the right side of my stomach started to cramp. With around five minutes left I didn’t have much willpower and dropped my pace to 7:08…which was still fast for me. I didn’t think I’d be fast enough to hit three miles in 20 minutes, but part of me hoped I might. I ended up with 2.92 miles in the 20 minutes. So close! If I didn’t have that slow ramp up, maybe I would have been even closer. Despite that, later I calculated my run to be a 6:50 average pace. My 5K PR pace at the time was 7:07, so I was THRILLED. I was wrecked by the end of the run and walked on the treadmill for a few minutes to cool down.

Results would be gathered from all of the waves and they’d make a database with a special points system, so we didn’t know how we truly did until a few days later. That made it feel kind of uneventful when we finished because my wave was so small and we had no clue how we did overall.

My overall count was:

21 lengths for the swim
20.6 miles for the bike
2.92 miles for the run

I felt really proud later that day. I finally did it, and it seemed like I pulled it off pretty decently. A couple days later I got an email with the results, and it turns out I was more than just “decent” – I was first place out of the women! My first attempt at a triathlon and I was first? I couldn’t believe it. It certainly confirmed that I really ought to give triathlons a shot. Life Time had a cool trophy for me that I picked up the next time I went to the gym.

2013-03-02 - lifetime tri award

I’m thankful that I ended up at Life Time and that they provided that spark for me to kick-start my triathlon adventures. I’ve spent many, many hours there over the last five years, and have now had four fun seasons of participating in triathlons. Hopefully I’ll have many more to come!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon Recap

My third Olympic-distance triathlon of the season was the Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon on Sunday, August 20. Ludington is located along Lake Michigan and I’d heard that it’s a great town. I had never been there before and figured signing up for the race gave me a good excuse to finally check it out.

Because the town is one of Michigan’s hot spots in the summer, reasonably-priced hotel rooms are hard to find. I questioned if I should stay an hour or so out of town to save money, but those hotels weren’t especially cheap either. I decided it would be worth it to stay in Ludington so I could make the most of my time there.

Since the race was on a Sunday, I was able to explore the town on Saturday. I wanted to visit Ludington State Park and knew that going early would be ideal. It took me just under four hours to get there and I was able to park easily at 10am. I’m glad I went so early because the park’s beach is very popular and it didn’t take long for the traffic to build and the parking lots to fill. Big Sable Point Lighthouse is one of the top things to see in Ludington, so that was my first destination. Driving there is not an option, so I made the 1.8-mile walk each way though a campground and along a dirt/sand path between the sand dunes.

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It was a beautiful walk on a gorgeous day. It cost $5 to climb to the top of the lighthouse, and it was worth it for the great view.

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I went for a bit of a walk to see the Skyline Trail next. It was a hike up a lot of stairs to start. At the top, a boardwalk winds through a wooded setting and also provides great views of sand dunes down below.

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I kept wishing that I could enjoy it with Matt, but he was on a trip of his own with his dad. Although I was sad that I couldn’t share the experience with him, I’m glad I didn’t let it hold me back from exploring the park on my own. I followed the Sable River Trail next and saw the Hamlin Dam.

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There was so much to see, but I knew that I was already pressing my luck. I walked a total of nine miles though the park, and that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do the day before a race.

I drove to downtown Ludington for the packet pickup next. I really liked the design of the cotton t-shirt.

I scoped out the water for the next day’s swim, which was protected from the bigger waves in Lake Michigan because it was between a couple of piers. Another lighthouse was located at the end of one of the piers.

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Before leaving the downtown area, I stopped for some ice cream at House of Flavors. I got some fudge and other treats at Kilwins, then also had to check out Cops & Doughnuts because it sounded fun.

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I went to my hotel and rested my legs the rest of the night, aside from a quick trip to pick up a sub from Mancino’s for dinner.

My hotel was a quick 10-minute drive from the race site, and I got there a little after 6:30 the next morning. There was a ton of parking along the beach just north of the transition area. The sky was clear and it was in the mid-60s, so it was a really nice morning. I got marked up with my race number then went to pick up my timing chip, only to find that they didn’t have my number. I got it sorted out with a bunch of other people who had the same problem. I had to get marked up with my new number, which meant my arms and hands were a big mess of permanent marker.

8:00 rolled around quickly, and the Olympic men took off for the swim first. The results show that only 18 women did the Olympic distance, so our wave start was nice and small. The water was around 68 degrees, which must have been perfect for me because I didn’t even think about it after I got in the water. The picture below shows that the water wasn’t rough, but it was still wavier than I was used to.

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I was a bit thrown off as I bounced around in the water. It was wavy enough that it would have been fun to play in, but it was more challenging than swimming in the nice, flat water that I’m used to. I didn’t swallow any water or freak out, but I did stop to do breaststroke a couple times when I wanted to recompose myself. I rounded the last buoy on the way out and realized I had to look directly at the sun on the way back in. That made it really hard to spot the next buoy. I stopped to tread water for a minute as I shielded my eyes and tried to figure out where to go. A guy stopped and pointed out where he thought we should go. I headed that direction and eventually I was able to spot the remaining buoys. I didn’t think about the waves as much on the way back in, so it was probably more beneficial on the way in versus the way out. This swim was only 1000m rather than the typical 1500m you usually find in an Olympic race. I finished in 20:50 and ran from the beach into transition.

I was surprised when one of the volunteers told me I was among the first few women. I didn’t feel like I’d had that strong of a swim! He also let me know when I lost a place or two as I took too long in transition though, haha. Looking back at my last two wetsuit swims, my transition time was actually a little faster this time, but still not great at 3:07. I didn’t struggle as much as I usually do, but I guess I’m just always a bit slow.

The bike ride was nice, with most of it being fairly flat and a few rolling hills mixed in here and there. The beginning of the ride took us past some houses along tree-lined roads with very little vehicle traffic. There was a pretty stretch along Hamlin Lake where I enjoyed looking at the waterfront cottages. Through that point, I saw a few people ahead of me at times, but I was mostly on my own. Then I reached a stretch where we had to do a little out and back, and that’s when I finally got to see other people. From there, we rode up toward the state park before turning around and heading back to town. That was easily one of the highlights of the race. I loved riding with sand dunes on either side of the road and getting glimpses of Lake Michigan at times.

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A view of the bike route from Google Maps

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This stretch of the bike course was absolutely gorgeous

Because the sprint, super sprint, and Olympic races all rode that portion, I got to see a lot more people. I felt like I was flying along easily on the way up to the park. I actually hit 20 mph for a few miles, which is especially fast for me. When I reached the turnaround point, I quickly realized why I’d felt so great. I went from 20 mph down to 15-16 mph as I rode back against the wind. On the way up, I was loving the view and kept smiling at people as they rode the opposite direction. Now I wondered if they’d really been smiling back at me or if they’d actually been grimacing! It was definitely more of a struggle fighting the wind, but I kept telling myself to appreciate the view. I finished the 40K ride in 1:23:48, which is an average of 17.8 mph. It’s a couple minutes faster than I’ve typically covered the distance, so I’m sure those wind-aided miles must have really helped.

I flew through the second transition in 32 seconds and felt the challenge of adjusting my legs to running. Like the bike ride, the first stretch of the run course was the same for all of the events, so there were plenty of people. It was around a mile and a half before the Olympic athletes branched off into a campground and park. Half of our race was along mostly paved paths in the woods. It was peaceful, pretty, and flat. We did quite a bit of winding around, and one portion sent us through a neighborhood briefly. When we got back out to the main road, it was a straight shot back to the finish for the last mile and a half or so. I felt pretty good during this run, though I was working pretty hard and breathing heavily at times. I finished the 10K run in 45:50, which is an average of 7:23 per mile. My final time was 2:34:04.

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2017-08-20 - ludington medal

Based on how I felt for a couple minutes after the run, I knew I’d pushed pretty hard. My watch had the run course short, but winding through the woods probably threw it off. I’d like to believe the course was accurate and that I did actually run that fast, because it’s the fastest I’ve run 10K in a couple years. My run was also a 3-minute improvement over my Olympic tri 10K time from a month ago, so I was pretty excited.

I was also excited by the post-race food – waffles! They also had watermelon, bananas, Blow Pops, trail mix, and fruit chews.

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I killed some time before the awards, which I needed to stick around for because I placed first in my age group! The top two women in my group were overall winners, so that bumped me to the top. There were only 18 women total, but I placed 5th, so I was pretty happy about that. 3 Disciplines had really nice awards. Large lighthouses for overall winners and smaller lighthouses for age group winners. It’s definitely a cool and unique award.

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After I received my award, I made another stop at House of Flavors before heading out of town. I figured I had worked hard enough to deserve a couple scoops of Michigan pothole ice cream, which is SO good.

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There aren’t many triathlons left as summer winds down. I have my eye on one possible race in a couple weeks, but it conflicts with family plans and the water might be a bit too cold by then. If this was my last one of the season, it was a great way to wrap things up. Beautiful weather, a beautiful course, and a great race experience thanks to 3 Disciplines.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

Shermanator Triathlon Recap

People commented on my "lucky number 13" several times :)

People commented on my “lucky number 13” several times :)

Saturday, August 5th was my first sprint triathlon of the season. I did the Shermanator Triathlon in 2015 and knew I wanted to do it again sometime. I didn’t feel very good the first time I did the race, and even got sick after it was over. A recap of that race is posted here. I was looking forward to doing the race when I could enjoy the experience more.

The race takes place at the beautiful Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center in Augusta, MI, which is outside of Battle Creek. It also happens to be about 10-15 minutes from where Matt’s parents live. We drove out Friday night and it was nice to have such a short drive to the race in the morning. I parked in the designated field around 6:30 and made the short walk to the rec center to check in. From there, it was a longer walk along the paved trails through the woods to get to the beach.

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Sherman Lake looked beautiful

It was a bit cool – around 60 degrees. Good weather for racing though! I had plenty of time to set up in the transition area and do a short jog before the race meeting started at 7:30. A couple waves of sprint men started the swim first, and my wave of women age 49 and under went third. Waves were spaced out by four minutes so congestion in the water was not an issue. Since the swim was only 500 yards, some of the men finished their swim while we were waiting to start. They said the water was around 78 degrees, but it sure didn’t feel that warm! On a cool morning like we had, the water usually feels better than the air. I didn’t wear a wetsuit because it was a short swim and I’d probably waste more time getting out of it in transition than I would have gained by wearing it. Although I shivered as I waited to start, I felt fine once I got moving. Too bad one side of my goggles leaked right from the start. That annoyed me for most of the swim. I snagged a little bit of seaweed on the way out, but that didn’t bother me as much as the leaky goggles. I’ve been feeling really good about my swimming in the pool lately, but it didn’t seem to translate to the open water. I never felt like I got into a comfortable rhythm. It was a short swim though, and I hit the timing mat off the beach in 10:48.

Matt and his parents came to spectate, so it was fun to see them rooting for me when I came out of the water. I thought my first transition would go a little more smoothly than my recent races since I wouldn’t have to struggle out of my wetsuit. Well, this time I managed to waste a bunch of time on my sunglasses. They were totally fogged up, so I wiped them off twice. I thought they should be fine by then, but I still couldn’t see anything and had to wipe them a third time before they were good enough to get moving. I had that happen at one other race and wonder if I ought to keep them in the case rather than sitting out in the cool morning air. My T1 time was 1:39.

The out and back bike route started uphill on the YMCA trails before getting out to the main roads. I was a little winded for the first mile but sped up after that. My other races this season have had the Olympic distance as an option, and that has spread the bikers out a bit more along the course. I noticed a lot more bike traffic for this race and I always had other people around. It’s a good thing there was very little vehicle traffic since we took up most of the road on both sides. I was glad I didn’t have to worry about the speedy men zooming around me since they had a head start. It was a bit of a rolling course, but nothing too difficult aside from one hill on the way back. I chose to get out of the saddle to grind up that one. It left me pretty winded for a bit, but also helped me gain some distance from a couple women. We’d gotten stuck in a routine where they’d go faster and pass me, then I’d catch them and pass them. I got a little frustrated by the back and forth, so I was relieved that the hill actually helped me gain some personal space. I finished the 10-mile ride in 34:28 – close to 17.5 mph.

Again, it was fun to have Matt and his parents rooting for me on my way in from the bike and on my way out for the run. I could have been a little faster in transition, but 47 seconds for T2 wasn’t awful. I probably ought to train for my transition times like I do for the rest of the race considering how much time I lose there! Like the bike, the run started uphill. It was a challenging start but it wasn’t too long before it flattened out. The main roads rolled enough to keep it interesting but not too hard. The volunteers were great and I never had to question where to go. They also provided some great encouragement. I didn’t look at my watch at all during the run and didn’t know what kind of pace I was running. I naturally settled into a pace that had me breathing heavily but was sustainable. My Garmin shows that I was pretty steady around a 7:33-7:34 pace for the first couple miles, then I picked up after that. Running along a rocky path by the parking area on the way out and back was my least favorite part, so I jumped onto the grass for most of that section on the way back. Right after that area we got back onto the paved YMCA trails. That’s where I really picked up the pace – especially since the difficult uphill start turns into a speedy downhill finish. I finished with a smile when I saw Matt and his parents. I ended up running 22:22 for the 5K and finished with a final time of 1:10:02.

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This race was much more enjoyable compared to 2015 when my stomach ached the whole time. However, I’m nearing the end of a sinus thing that has messed with me for nearly two weeks, and that caught up with me in the form of a coughing fit soon after I finished. It was bad for a few minutes, but when it cleared up I found Matt and his parents.

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Post-race treats included chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, bananas, bagels, and granola bars. I really liked the Kashi bars and will definitely be looking for those at the store.

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I loved these bars!

I loved these bars!

Since I finished the race around 9:00 and awards weren’t until 10:30, there was quite a bit of time to kill. I needed to stick around because I had placed first in my age group! This is where I especially appreciated the support from Matt and his parents. I know there’s a lot of downtime as a spectator, so I was very thankful for them getting up early and being willing to be there for so long.

When I was picking up my race shirt at the registration area first thing in the morning, I heard the man next to me say that his name was David Willey. I knew both the name and the voice from listening to David’s Runner’s World podcast. However, I tend to be stupidly shy at times and didn’t say anything. Of course it kept bothering me that I hadn’t said anything. With all of the downtime before the awards, I decided that I should try to find him and actually talk to him. It turned out he was standing right near us so I didn’t have to hunt too hard.

David was the editor-in-chief of Runner’s World until recently, and I loved listening to his segments about his “moonshot marathon.” When Nike announced the Breaking2 project in which three athletes would try to break two hours in the marathon, David announced his own “moonshot” of trying to qualify for Boston. He was able to work with experts from Nike to try to achieve his goal, and he documented his journey on the podcast. He was aiming for (and got!) his BQ at the Bayshore Marathon this past May, a race that I ran last year. He went through lots of ups and downs between injury, self-doubt, and many of the things most marathoners deal with during the long training process. His journey was very inspirational and relatable, and I found myself really rooting for him as I was drawn into his story. I had a great conversation with him, and he and his family members cleaned up pretty well with some age group awards!

Thanks to Matt's dad for sneaking this photo of me chatting with David Willey

Thanks to Matt’s dad for sneaking this photo of me chatting with David Willey

2017-08-05 - shermanator awards

The awards ceremony

With my 1st place age group award!

With my 1st place age group award!

Here’s the breakdown of my results:

2017-08-05 - shermanator results

I received first place in my age group because the overall female winner was in my group, so she received the overall award and it bumped me up. I was pretty excited to see that I was the fourth woman overall! I seem to place better in the shorter races. More specifically, the shorter the bike portion, the better I do. I was especially happy to see that I ran 22:22 for the 5K. I haven’t run a time like that in nearly two years. Since I did this race once before, I couldn’t help but compare the results. I finished 11 seconds faster this year. That’s not very significant, but at least it’s something. My swim was six seconds faster this time, my run was around 30 seconds faster, and somehow my bike time was exactly the same. How does that happen?! My transitions weren’t great this time around and I lost a bunch of time there.

This is a really nice race and one I’d like to continue to come back to. After doing a couple of Olympic-distance races this season, it was nice to do a sprint again and be done so much sooner! Between the great weather, having family there, placing well, and getting to chat with David Willey, I had a great time.

A long sleeve race shirt along with the official medal and the back of my age group medal

A long sleeve race shirt along with the official medal and the back of my age group medal, inscribed with my place

Now I have to figure out what’s next. I signed up for the Crim 10-mile run at the end of August. That will be my first running-only race since November. I’m kind of hoping to squeeze another triathlon or two in before the season wraps up. I’ve been having a lot of fun doing tris and wish I could do them more than a few months of the year!

– Janet

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