Brooksie Way Half Marathon Recap

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After racing the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon pretty hard, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ran the Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester Hills a week later on Sunday, September 23rd. I would like to follow my Indy Monumental Marathon training plan as closely as I can, but I’m trying to listen to my body so I don’t end up with an injury. I considered the week in between the races a “limbo” week. Based on how I felt, I knew it wouldn’t be ideal to stick to the plan. There was a combination of feeling the need to recover from one race while also laying off enough to prepare for the next one. I didn’t do my strength or marathon pace workouts during the week, but still managed to run a total of 28 miles at an easy pace throughout the week.

I stopped by the expo at Oakland University on Friday evening. Because the fit for women-specific race shirts varies and doesn’t always work for me, I often opt for a unisex shirt. I was surprised to find that the extra small I had signed up for didn’t seem to be an actual option at the expo. I can imagine that had to throw off the availability of shirts later into the packet pickup process. I couldn’t have been the only one who signed up for that size, meaning a bunch of people probably ended up with shirts that had been allocated for other people. I ended up with a women’s shirt after all. I still miss the days when this race provided Brooks shirts. I really prefer the Brooks quality over the types of shirts they’ve used in recent years.

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I saved $15 when I registered for this year’s race thanks to receiving a coupon for being one of the first people to arrive at the expo last year. They did the same thing this year and also offered a coupon to people who donated canned goods at a Kroger table. Since it’s pretty likely that I’ll run this race again next year, I brought some food to get the discount code.

We had been warned that local roads would start closing at 6:45 on race morning, so we should arrive early. Traffic is usually bad getting to this race and construction on one of the main roads complicated matters even more. I am very fortunate that I come from the north because it seems like the majority of the people arrive from the south. Traffic from that direction was RIDICULOUS because there was really only one main entrance. I wanted to park in the lot closest to the start and was one of the last cars to get into that lot at 6:40 – an hour and 20 minutes before the start! Since I had to get there so early, I spent a lot of time playing on my phone in the car to kill time and stay warm. I ate one Picky Bar when I first woke up and had another one an hour before the start while I waited. Between the bars and eating a few Clif Shot Bloks halfway through the race, my fueling strategy seemed to work well.

Eventually I left the car to make a bathroom stop and to meet the Chevy Running Club for a group photo. Amongst the thousands of people I just happened to run into my half brother! We chatted for a bit before I went back to the car to shed my warm clothes. My tank top wasn’t especially warm, so I jogged around the grounds both to prepare my legs and to move around enough to stay warm. We were incredibly lucky to have a gorgeous, cool day. It was around 50 degrees and clear at the start. It was a HUGE improvement over last year when it was 70 degrees and humid to start.

The first wave of speedy people started at 8:00 and my wave followed a few minutes later. The wave start was very helpful and I didn’t have to weave around people much. There was a 1:45 pacer near the back of my corral and I started near him. I didn’t know if I could maintain that pace, but figured it was a good place to start. I had stuck with the 1:45 pacer at my race the week before, but that course was entirely flat. Brooksie is challenging because of the rolling hills that come in the second half of the race. As I suffered to finish in 1:44 at the previous race, I told myself there was no way I could manage that on the Brooksie course too. However, it was hot and humid at that race and it was nice and cool at this race. I figured I’d be ambitious for the first half of the race as it started downhill then see how things played out.

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I had a great experience running with the pacer at the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon because she hit an 8:00 pace right on the dot mile after mile. A couple miles into this race it was clear that I wasn’t going to stick with the pacer. I heard other people comment about how fast he was going as he kept getting further and further away. I figured maybe he was banking time on the downhill stretch to make up for slowing down on the hills later. My pace was in the 7:50s and I didn’t want to push it more than that.

I got into a pretty steady rhythm running with the crowd on the roads of Rochester Hills, and we hit the Clinton River Trail around the fourth mile. It all felt pretty comfortable and uneventful running a route that was extremely familiar to me.

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I always tell myself that the real hills start seven miles into the race even though I know there’s a bit of climbing once we come off of the Clinton River Trail. Sure enough, that first climb took some effort and was more significant than I gave it credit for. A quick downhill followed, but then there’s a gradual incline on the way to the hills. I was surprised to see that my pace that had been 8:00 and under had gone up to 8:19 on my way up Paint Creek Trail. Maybe some weaving and a little rolling in the Rochester Municipal Park got to me. I didn’t feel tired yet, so I was a little worried that I had slowed down that much before I’d gotten to the hard part.

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I knew that Matt planned to take some pictures somewhere around Paint Creek Trail, so I was happy when I spotted him. Then it was time for the hills. We live right by the first one so I’m very familiar with its difficultly. I run it regularly though, so I told myself I could grind through it. With almost every climb, there’s a downhill stretch that follows. I think the rolling actually makes it a really nice course. Although it takes work to get up the hills, I gain quite a bit of momentum when I come back down. At one point I remembered one of my encouraging mantras – the downhills help me more than the uphills hurt me. My average pace on the hills was actually better than the one slow mile through the park and on the trail! I still don’t know what happened to me there.

I drank about half of my bottle of GU Brew during the race and grabbed a cup of water here and there. It was a HUGE difference from the previous year when I went through my full bottle and suffered from thirst due to the heat and humidity. The weather was PERFECT this year. As I worked my way up one of the last big hills, I heard a spectator say, “This is your payoff for the summer.” It was true. Most of my summer training had been pretty brutal as I dealt with the heat and humidity, but I pushed through. I was extremely thankful to have a cool day where I could see all of my hard work pay off.

Once I finished the last big hill, I picked up the pace. I felt strong and it felt good to get moving faster. I was on a straightaway that lasted for a couple miles before the last couple turns that approach the finish. I knew that someone from work planned to cheer for me, so I was really happy to see him. I questioned if I could maintain the faster pace, but just kept rolling with it. The big group of cheering teenagers that manned the water stop in front of Adams High School helped keep me energized. My strongest half marathons that I’ve run have always ended with a really solid final 5K. I had stopped looking at my watch and didn’t realize how fast I was going, but I felt great.

Then I was pleasantly surprised when Matt rode past me on his bike. I thought he would take pictures near the trail and head back home. I found out later that the pictures hadn’t turned out very well. He didn’t want to let me down, so he was awesome enough to head out and try to get more! He caught me while I was in a good groove just before I approached the finish at Oakland University.

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As I made one of the final turns, I finally caught up to the 1:45 pacer. He was definitely ahead of schedule and I wonder if anyone had stuck with him. There’s a cruel uphill climb to the finish line, but I kept pushing with everything I had left. I was wiped out for a minute afterward, but thrilled with my fast finish.

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Like I said, I didn’t look at my watch once I picked up the pace, and I had no idea I had picked it up so much. A 7:06 mile at the end?! I was pretty shocked when I saw these splits later. It’s always a great feeling to come in so strong. Despite the harder course, I actually ran a little faster than I had a week earlier. I guess that really shows what a difference 20 degrees can make for me. I was struggling and suffering as I finished the women’s race in 1:44 on a flat course, yet I got stronger as I went and felt great on this hilly course.

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Although this wasn’t a half marathon PR for me, it was a Brooksie PR by 2.5 minutes! It was my fourth time running the race and it was my best one yet.

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I was happy that Matt was there to help me celebrate, and we spotted our friend Carmen after she finished. She had an awesome race and her first PR in the distance in four years! I guess the great weather and some solid training paid off for both of us. It was nice to catch up with her for a little bit and celebrate how well it had gone.

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We were able to stash the bike in the back of my car, then Matt and I headed to the corporate tent. Since I ran as a part of the Chevy Running Club, I received two bracelets for the tent. The granola bar, chips, and Rice Krispies Treat I got at the finish were okay, but nothing compared to the catered meal in the tent.

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It was similar to last year, with food and beer from Rochester Mills. I got some rolls, a salad, pasta, etc. I was especially happy because I got to enjoy it with Matt. I understand why he wouldn’t want to wait around from 6:40am on if he had ridden with me, so it was cool that he worked his way there on the bike and I was able to share my other bracelet with him.

I love running Brooksie because it’s the big hometown race. I get to see a ton of familiar faces and run the roads and trails that I know so well. I like representing the Chevy Running Club and catching up with some people I know from work and some who I just know thanks to the club. This is one of those races where I feel like I’m missing out on a big community celebration if I don’t participate. Although I always have a good time, it’s a bonus when the weather is beautiful and I run such a solid race!

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Running back-to-back half marathons so hard just a week apart took a lot out of me. This has been another “limbo” week where I haven’t exactly followed my training plan. I had to take a couple days off to recover, and I won’t attempt to run any kind of workout pace until next week. I have five weeks until the marathon in Indy and it’s time to crack down. I’ve had a great time racing throughout the summer and up to this point. It’s certainly helped me build my fitness and see where I stand. I’m feeling confident, but now it’s time to lay off the racing and stick with the plan. If things keep rolling like they have been, I’m looking forward to a solid marathon at the beginning of November.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

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Detroit Women’s Half Marathon Recap

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I’ve been racing a lot lately as I continue to prepare for the Indy Monumental Marathon in November. Racing helps me get good speed or marathon pace workouts done more easily than when I do the workouts on my own. In addition, races have helped me get through the grind of running so many miles.

My first 16-mile long run of this training segment was scheduled for Sunday, September 16th. When I browsed through RunMichigan.com, I made a note that there was a half marathon at Belle Isle that day. The Detroit Women’s Half Marathon might be a good way to get through most of that mileage for the day.

In the past I’ve felt a little torn about the exclusivity of a women’s only race. I feel like running is such an inclusive sport that I don’t like the idea of excluding anyone. At the same time, I understand that women’s races are intended to celebrate women with an empowering, supportive vibe.

Way too many stories have been in the news lately about women getting attacked while running. It’s not fair that we can’t go out for a run by ourselves without worrying about our safety. I shouldn’t have to worry that it might not be safe for me to go to the track by myself. That running the pretty dirt roads alone could be a bad idea. That I have to look suspiciously at any guy who runs by me on the trail if it’s getting a little too late in the evening. That a pre-dawn run is just asking for trouble. 

When I heard that a local woman was attacked while doing a track workout on Labor Day, it hit way too close to home and I got really pissed off. It made me realize that I shouldn’t feel funny about this kind of race at all. In fact, I stopped hesitating and signed up for it while I was still fuming about the news. Maybe we do still need something that’s all about “girl power” now and then.

I didn’t make an extra trip to Detroit for the expo the day before the race, so I got my shirt (and the buff seen below) when I arrived early the morning of the race.

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Because I planned to run 16 miles total, I decided I would run three miles before the race. It was warm and the humidity was ridiculous – 99%!

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I started my run around 7:00, figuring I’d take it easy and finish with at least half an hour to spare before the race started at 8:00. It was beautiful to see the run rising over the Detroit River.

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Even the slow, easy run was enough to work up quite a sweat. This might be a tough day! I hit a porta-potty along the race course on my way back to save me the hassle of waiting in a long line near the starting line. I used baby wipes to get rid of some of the sweat, swapped my bottle of water for a fresh bottle of GU Brew, ate a couple of chews, then headed to the start.

I wanted to see if I could run all 13 miles around an 8:00 pace, which is my goal marathon pace. That meant I had a goal time of 1:45. I was pretty fortunate that there happened to be a woman pacer for that specific time, so I lined up right behind her.

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The pace felt easy as we started, so I made a point of staying behind the pacer. I didn’t want to start too fast while my legs were fresh and pay for it in the later miles. A woman pacing a 10K group was with us for the first few miles before splitting off where the races separated. Otherwise, there was a group of three of us sticking with our pacer Rebecca.

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It was nice to have people to run with and conversation to provide some distraction. There was some brief talk about carrying pepper spray, an alarm, etc. in order to feel safe while running alone or with a baby, and I have a feeling that it’s not a topic that comes up too often amongst men runners. Other than that, this was really like any other race.

Belle Isle is as flat as can be. After an opening stretch through the middle of the island, we ran a couple loops around the exterior before cutting back in on the way to the finish.

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It was nice to run by the Detroit River and see the RenCen in the distance, as seen in the picture below. The race was kind enough to provide free photos and the photographers got some great ones.

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When I hit 16 minutes right on the dot two miles into the run, I knew our pacer was doing an awesome job. She kept nailing the 8:00 pace mile after mile. I could tell when one of the women was starting to struggle based on her breathing, and she dropped from our group about six miles into the race. Three of us continued together for most of the race. The other woman’s pace increased over the last few miles, leaving me alone with Rebecca. I am extremely thankful that I had her there to keep the pace so consistent. All I had to do was follow along. The half marathon had just over 300 finishers, so this race was fairly small. There weren’t many people around us most of the time and I’m sure it would have been a struggle if I had run most of the race alone. Having people around helps me maintain a good rhythm and helps pull me along when things get difficult.

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I had a bottle of GU Brew in my hydration belt, but I knew it was hot and humid enough for me to supplement that with some water. Although I was sweating a lot, half of my shirt was soaked due to my lack of skill when it comes to drinking out of a cup while still running, haha. The heat certainly was a factor and made things challenging. There was a slight breeze when we ran east on the south side of the island. While it was refreshing, it also meant we had to fight the resistance. It was minor, but when I started to get tired, little things like that were noticeable.

I felt pretty solid through the first eight miles of the race. The Thursday prior to this race I was supposed to do a workout with eight of the miles at marathon pace. I kept my pace easy instead, knowing I would save it for the race. Once I hit eight miles at an 8:00 pace during the race, I said anything from that point forward would be a bonus. At least I had nailed my workout. The mental struggle began by the ninth mile. I started to count down the remaining miles and tried to convince myself that I could keep it up for four more miles. Things started to feel difficult by the tenth mile. When I’ve run really solid half marathons in the past, I’ve been able to pick up the pace for the last 5K. Our tenth mile actually was a little faster, but I wasn’t feeling strong enough to keep that momentum going. The heat was getting to me, my left arch was a little annoyed, and my calves were getting tight. I wanted to make that final push, but instead I started to venture into survival mode. At times Rebecca would get a few steps ahead and I just tried to hang on. At other times I’d get a few steps ahead, but felt the struggle. I told myself that I really wanted to maintain the 8:00 pace, and somehow I managed to keep going. It was hard though! By the last mile, I gave it everything I had left and pulled away from Rebecca. It was a really difficult grind, but somehow I dropped to a 7:29 pace for the last mile.

I saw that the clock was about to hit 1:44 and I pushed as hard as I could to beat it. My gun time was exactly 1:44:00, and my chip time was a few seconds under that. The race announcer made a comment about how my last name was pretty fitting as I “bolted” through the finish line. The announcers have actually commented on my name at the last few races I’ve done, and it kind of cracks me up.

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I was so concerned with beating the clock that I forgot to stop my watch, which is why the end of the race is cut off on these Garmin splits. It took a few minutes before I realized the watch was still running.

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I was super pumped that I had achieved my goal. Although this wasn’t a PR, I was so happy about the results that it may as well have been a PR. I told Rebecca that I had to grab her for a photo to give her credit for my excellent race.

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I’ve tried to follow pacers a few times but it has never worked out like this. Sometimes I want to start a little slow and roll into a race and I lose the group. Some races are so big that I haven’t been able to work my way through the crowd enough to stick with them. I felt like a pace group in one race was too crowded and congested, so I broke away. I’ve never followed a pace group all the way through a race. Rebecca was the perfect pacer for what I wanted to achieve in this race.

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This medal is especially cool because it has a charm that can be detached and worn on a necklace.

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I was very happy with the post-race food selection. I got some pancakes, a cookie, chips, and a number of other goodies. I also remembered that I had a piece of salted caramel chocolate from Sanders in my pocket, which was handed out at an aid station near the end of the race.

Because this was such a small race, I placed really well. I was second in my age group and the 12th woman overall! I typically don’t place that high in larger half marathons. Men were able to participate, and a few did, but they didn’t count in the age group results.

One thing I love about Epic Races is their “grab-and-go” approach to awards. I’ve waited an hour and a half after finishing some races this summer before I’ve received my award. Instead of waiting through a long ceremony, I was able to go to the prize table and choose what I wanted. They had a couple kinds of glasses and this water bottle, which I chose.

The more I thought about it, the more proud I was of my results. Although I didn’t do any specific pace workouts in the week leading up to this race, I ran my scheduled mileage so I would stay on track with marathon training. I ran seven miles on Friday, eight miles on Saturday, and the three miles before the race. I wasn’t exactly well-rested coming into this one. The heat and humidity were not ideal racing conditions at all, so the fact that I still managed to hit my goal pace in those conditions was huge. I realize now that I had to work a lot harder to make that happen.

Aside from being happy with my results, I was really happy with the race in general. I’ve done a few of Epic Races’ events and they always do a nice job. It was kind of cool to do a female-centric race for a change. The race announcer shared lots of inspiring stories about women racing that day who had lost weight, fought cancer, and turned their lives around in numerous ways. There may have been around 1,000 women there between the 5K, 10K, and half marathon. It turns out you don’t have to be a “girly girl” to appreciate a women’s race. In times like these, it was actually a really great place to be.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Sunrise Side Triathlon/Duathlon Recap

When I raced an Olympic-distance triathlon in Ludington in August, I wasn’t sure if it would be my last tri of the season. There are only a few races left once September rolls around, so I put them on my calendar and figured I’d play it by ear. The Sunrise Side Triathlon in East Tawas, Michigan has been on my radar for several years but I hadn’t done it yet due to weather and/or family plans. This year the weather stayed warm enough that I thought the water temperature should be reasonable with a wetsuit. Although it looked like things would cool down a little bit by the weekend, it seemed like conditions could be ideal, so I signed up for the race a few days beforehand.

The race was on Saturday, September 8th, and on Friday morning I received an email with this info:

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Even though I waited until the last minute to sign up, things STILL went wrong. Instead of swimming 1500m like I’d been looking forward to, I’d be doing a duathlon with a 5K run, 40K bike, and 10K run. I’d only done a duathlon once before, and like this race, I’d planned on doing a triathlon until the swim was cancelled. I did really well in the other duathlon and had been interested in trying another one, but I always want to swim when it’s an option. I figured this would be a good excuse to do another duathlon.

East Tawas is a nice little town up north and I was hoping I’d get to see some good scenery during the race. I stayed in a hotel in Oscoda on Friday night, which was about 15 minutes north of Tawas. It took nearly three hours to drive there after work, so I had just enough time to lay my stuff out for the morning and get to bed.

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With a pre-race meeting scheduled for 7:10, it was an early morning. I found a parking lot a couple blocks north of the transition area. The registration area was down by the beach, which was a few more blocks away. The sun was just starting to rise when I got there.

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It’s a lot easier setting things up in transition for a duathlon versus a triathlon. No need for a wetsuit, Body Glide, a towel, goggles, swim cap, etc. Just rack the bike, lay a couple things out, and that’s it. I spent a little time debating what I should wear. I was worried that the wind would cause me to get cold on the bike. It was nearly 60 degrees though and I felt comfortable standing around in transition wearing arm warmers. I decided that I’d probably get too hot once I was working up a sweat, so hopefully a t-shirt and shorts would work.

I jogged back down to the beach to take advantage of a building with decent bathrooms, plus it was a good way to warm up for the race. There were several wave starts and people doing the half-iron distance started around 7:30.

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The Olympic men started around 7:45 and the Olympic women started a little while after them. I appreciate the wave starts in the water, but it seemed a little silly to separate the men and women for the run when there were only 55 of us doing the Olympic distance. By the time my race started, I’d been standing around for nearly half an hour. That was enough time for my legs to stiffen up as I shivered a bit in the wind. My legs felt a little heavy as I took off for the 5K run. I’m in the orange in the picture below.

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Thanks to my Instagram buddy Jeremy, who shared this picture that a friend took

I was amongst the top 5-6 women to start the run and felt pretty good about that. During the first mile I glanced at my watch and realized I ought to be going faster, so I tried to pick up the pace. We started out on a road that ran parallel to the main road where I enjoyed looking at the variety of waterfront motels. After turning off of that road we mostly ran past trees and a few scattered houses. It was a flat out and back course, and on the way back I started to catch some of the people from earlier waves. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I managed to run a pretty nice negative split. I noticed that it took me a bit of time to warm up into the run. I’m sure that’s thanks to the fatigue of training for a marathon. By the end of the 5K it was a pretty tight finish for the women. It looks like I came in one second after the leader, and the next woman was just four seconds behind me. I needed that good placement in the run knowing that I would lose plenty of ground on the bike. My official 5K time was 23:56.

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I was able to transition quickly since I’m still haven’t taken the step to learn how to ride with clipless pedals. That meant I didn’t have to change into bike shoes. All I had to do was put my helmet on and run out the exit with my bike. I debated if I should grab gloves or anything else to stay warm on the bike but decided against it. That ended up being a wise choice since I was fine temperature-wise throughout the ride.

My T1 time was 34 seconds. My T1 times for triathlons are always slow, so obviously it made a big difference when I didn’t have to struggle my way out of a wetsuit and get into my socks and shoes. The quick transition helped me stay ahead on the bike for a little bit. I’m so weak on the bike that most of the women passed me eventually.

A lot of the course was pretty flat. I liked riding past one house that had a bunch of goats and another that had a horse. We made our way out to the Huron National Forest and spent most of our time there. We rode along a main road with trees lining each side and I noticed some signs for snowmobile trails. It was peaceful and pretty, and some rolling hills popped up here and there. I got out of the saddle to climb a few times when I struggled to keep moving at a decent pace, but there weren’t any really tough hills. I don’t remember the wind bothering me too much on the way out, but I sure noticed it on the way back. It got pretty annoying at times, but I managed.

While I had finished the first run in 10th place overall for the Olympic athletes, my bike time of 1:30:39 was good for 40th out of 55. It’s pretty clear that I’m a runner and not much of a cyclist!

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By the way, you may notice that there’s no elevation gain listed on any of my Garmin stats that I’ve posted here. I swear there were some hills on this ride! Unfortunately the elevation has gone bad on every Garmin triathlon watch I’ve had…and I’m on my third one right now. I won’t vent now, but it’s REALLY annoying.

I had another quick transition as I racked my bike, took my helmet off, and grabbed my hat. Not having to change from bike to running shoes sure helped, and I was out in 35 seconds.

The 10K run was the same as the 5K for the first half, but we went twice as far on the same road before turning back. The first mile was a bit slow as I dealt with tired legs after riding 25 miles. I felt slow for the first half of the run, but things seemed to improve as I headed back. That’s when I realized that the wind was probably a factor. The out and back course meant that I had plenty of people to watch heading each direction, and that kind of distraction is always helpful for me. I didn’t really have people to chase on my way into the finish like I did during the first run, but I still managed to pick up the pace. It was fun getting to finish on one of the main streets in town with a bunch of cool shops on each side of the road.

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I finished the 10K in 48:20, and my final time was 2:44:03.

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I walked past a table and received a medal. I thought it was kind of odd that it wasn’t hanging from a ribbon like most medals.

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(*Update* – a couple weeks after the race I received a ribbon in the mail. Maybe they mentioned it at the race and I missed it, but apparently they didn’t intend to hand out ribbon-less medals!)

I knew ahead of time that I shouldn’t expect much in the way of post-race food. There was going to be a dinner catered by Boston Market and an awards ceremony/raffle in the evening. They mentioned that there would be “light” post-race snacks. That consisted of bananas, trail mix, fruit chews, and lollypops. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and ate some trail mix while stretching my legs. Then I headed to the car because I got pretty cold. I’d been fine during the race, but I was pretty sweaty and the cold wind started to affect me. I realized that I left my warm clothes in transition and I only had a t-shirt and shorts in my car. Changing into those helped a little, and I sat in my warm car while I ate several snacks that I had brought.

Most races don’t want people going into the transition area while athletes are still racing. If someone is trying to run their bike in and head out for the run, it’s no good to have people lingering around and potentially getting in the way. I figured I’d have to wait a bit before I could get my jacket and track pants. Maybe if I kept moving I could warm up a little bit.

I went down to the beach where the swim would have taken place and took in some of the scenery.

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Based on how much I was shivering, I think they made the right call to cancel the swim. If I’d gotten on the bike soaking wet in those conditions, it could have gotten bad.

Eventually I went back to the transition area and saw that they were letting some people in, so I collected my stuff and made sure I stayed out of the way when half-iron athletes came and went. I knew it wouldn’t be smart to get ice cream when I was shivering, but I was ready for it once I got my jacket and pants. I browsed some of the stores that had the typical “up north” clothing and gifts, then I got some fudge and ice cream before heading home.

It looked like I had placed pretty well when they posted some initial results, and I confirmed it when I got home. It’s pretty typical to win some kind of age group award when I race the Olympic distance simply because there are so few people. Only 22 women did the Olympic race, and I was first in my age group. I was more excited that I placed fourth out of the women! I was 19th out of 55 overall.

I was kind of bummed because I didn’t think I’d end up getting my award. I didn’t want to pay for two nights at a hotel just so I could be there for the awards. By the end of most race days I usually have a headache and feel pretty wiped out, so staying for dinner and then driving nearly three hours to get home was not a reasonable option. I could have the prize mailed to me for $12 but didn’t know if it was worth it. I was really fortunate to find out that my Instagram buddy Jeremy had also done the race and stuck around for the dinner. He offered to collect the prize for me and get it to me somehow. I mentioned that one of my neighbors actually volunteers for 3 Disciplines (the race company) and I probably should have asked if she could grab it for me. He was kind enough to track her down and talk to her for me, so I was able to get my prize after all. I really appreciated both of them being so helpful! This fleece blanket is a pretty cool prize.

20180908 - tawas prize

Jeremy ended up winning a bunch of really cool stuff in the raffle. The race directors say it’s the biggest raffle of the year because they clear everything out for the end of the season. If I do the race again in the future, maybe it’s worthwhile to make a weekend out of it and stick around the extra day.

Although I would have preferred putting my swim training to use in the pretty lake, I still had a great race. I enjoyed my second duathlon and was happy to see that I placed well. I’m thankful that two running segments could help me compensate for my slow time on the bike. I realized that my legs were a bit more wiped out by swapping the swim with another run though. I’ve bounced back after all of my triathlons this summer and continued on with marathon training the next day. This time I woke up to a painful calf cramp in the middle of the night and I decided it would be wise to take the next day off to rest my legs. An extra rest day now and then is probably smart anyway.

It looks like this event will wrap up the multi-sport season for me. I did three Olympic triathlons, one sprint, and this duathlon. It was a pretty solid season and I had a good time. Although I’ll maintain my usual swim routine, I’ll probably drop the biking for now as I concentrate on running. I have a couple of half marathons coming up, but the Indy Monumental Marathon in November is the next big goal.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

Romeo Peach Festival 10K

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest medal

I’m about halfway through an 18-week training plan for the Indy Monumental Marathon, and between the building mileage and coping with a ridiculously hot and humid summer, it’s turned into a grind at times. I’ve found myself dreading my Tuesday speed sessions and Thursday marathon pace runs. Trying to hit the appropriate paces isn’t always reasonable when there are heat advisories and temps in the 90s. I’ve really had to drag myself to get out there many weeknights this summer. Construction everywhere has added 20-30 minutes to my evening commute, and sitting in stop-and-go traffic for an hour or more doesn’t leave me too energized either.

When I browsed through races on RunMichigan.com, I added the Romeo Peach Festival 5K/10K to my list. Running a race on a weeknight would be a first for me, but it could fit well into my training schedule. I waited until the week of the race and signed up when it looked like the weather would be perfect. It was due to be sunny, and the temps were actually going to drop to the 70s. After battling the 90s most nights, it sounded ideal to me.

Thursday, August 30th was the date of the race and I opted to do the 10K. I didn’t do speedwork on Tuesday because it was too hot, so this race would make up for it. The race started at 6:45 and I had to figure out what would work eating-wise before the race. I wasn’t going to try to eat dinner first, but I’m typically hungry every hour once the afternoon rolls around. I ate a Honey Stinger waffle right before I left work and was starving by the time I got home. I ate a Clif Bar at home and thought I’d be all set, but I got hungry again during my drive to the race. I ate a Picky Bar and that helped tide me over, but then I ate a couple of Clif Shot Bloks just before the race for good measure. I realize this makes me sound like I’m The Very Hungry Caterpillar, haha. Eating before an evening race was tricky for me to figure out, especially while I’m in marathon training mode and always hungry.

The race started at Romeo High School and I got there about 45 minutes early. The first parking lot was full, so I went to the next one and found a bunch of spots that had been painted. I hoped it was okay to park there because I didn’t know where else to go.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest parking

I realized that some people were still painting, and it must have been seniors who got to personalize their own parking spots. The one below stood out to me, of course.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest parking2

I went to the packet pickup area to collect my stuff. I didn’t expect a shirt since I waited until the last minute to sign up. Races typically warn you that you’re not guaranteed a shirt unless you sign up by a certain date. They didn’t have any smalls left so I received a medium, but I’ll probably end up donating it because it’s too big…and because I have too many race shirts anyway.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest start

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest shirt

After getting my stuff, I noticed that only two porta-potties were set up. I saw people checking doors to the school and they all appeared to be locked, so I don’t think there were any other options. The porta-potties had long lines that continued to grow, so I was thankful that I didn’t really have to use one. Two was not enough for a race with over 400 participants.

I did a warm up jog of just under a mile, figuring I’d get seven miles in for the day. The 10K started 10 minutes before the 5K, so I lined up with my group. After a few failed attempts with the starting gun, we were off!

I didn’t know anything about the race course. The website said that it was a challenging course so I was curious what I was in for. After a short stretch along a couple of paved roads, we ended up on rolling dirt roads for the majority of the race. That was a pleasant surprise because I enjoy running on dirt roads and don’t do it often enough. I kept myself distracted for a good chunk of the race as I looked for smooth and packed down sections of the roads for the best traction.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest road

It was peaceful, pretty, and I enjoyed looking at the nice houses and the golf course that we passed. I snapped back to reality at one point when I saw a car fly off of a side street. From my viewpoint, it seemed like the driver got awfully close to hitting the runner in front of me. Although there wasn’t much traffic, it was an open course and we didn’t have people along the course to warn traffic that we were out there. I realized I should be more cautious and be on the lookout whenever passing a side street.

85 people ran the 10K, and although I always had someone up ahead in sight, the crowd spaced out and I was on my own at times. Eventually our route met up with the 5K people, so that kept me distracted for a bit as I weaved around them. The 10K looped around a stretch of neighborhood that the 5K did not follow, but then our routes joined up again through the finish. It was no joke that this was a challenging course. There were plenty of rolling hills that kept me working hard, but luckily downhill stretches helped me recover. The race finished on a downhill stretch. I was excited until I realized it was steep enough that I had to slow down a little bit so I wouldn’t wipe out!

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest finish

I didn’t have a real goal in mind, but kind of hoped I’d finish in 45-something. My official time was 45:36, so I was definitely happy. My watch came up short on the distance, but I don’t know how much to trust my watch these days. Maybe I did a good job of running the tangents?

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest garmin

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest elevation

I went to look for the post-race food, and wasn’t too thrilled when this is all that I found:

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest food

Only bananas. At the Peach Festival. They didn’t have any kind of peach treats! It’s not that I was really craving peaches, but still. Aside from that, I was bummed by the general lack of food. It’s pretty standard to find bagels, granola bars, etc. at the end of a race. Since I hadn’t eaten a real dinner yet and had just run six miles, I’d hoped for something more than bananas and water. I only paid $20 for this race, which is on the cheap end for races these days, so that made me feel a little better. I’ve learned to bring food with me in case the post-race selection is a disappointment like this, so I headed back to the car to refuel. The race finished by a community center that was a short walk away from the start. Since I was sweaty and it was cool outside, I needed a jacket at that point anyway.

I had placed first in my age group, so I stuck around for the awards. I was happy about the age group win, but even happier that I appeared to be the third woman overall!

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest awards

The race didn’t have finisher medals, but I received a medal as an age group prize.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest janet

I enjoyed the beautiful sunset before heading out.

2018-08-30 - romeo peach fest sunset

When I told Matt about the lack of food, he told me I should hit Dairy Queen. I thought that was a good idea, so I went to the DQ in downtown Romeo before heading home.

Although there are a few things that could use work, I enjoyed the actual race experience. It was a nice course and I wouldn’t mind running it again. This race was a nice way to break up the daily grind of training on the same routes doing similar workouts week after week. Instead of trying to run the fast pace on my own that night, it was good to get out in the race environment where it comes more naturally. If I do this race again in the future, I’ll know that I shouldn’t expect any peaches.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz