Muddy Mini Half Marathon Recap

2019-06-15 - muddy mini medal

The Muddy Mini Half Marathon sounded appealing to me because it finishes at Fifth Third Field – home of the Toledo Mud Hens and their mascot Muddy. The Mud Hens are a minor league team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers. It sounded especially cool to finish a race on the field’s warning track. I pulled the trigger when I received an email about signing up by a certain date to guarantee a race t-shirt in the correct size. I’d been debating if I should sign up and finally decided to just go for it. I’m really glad I did!

Toledo is an hour and a half away and I didn’t want to pay for a hotel room. That meant I had to wake up crazy early on race day, which was Saturday, June 15th. I left before 4:30 to make sure I could find parking and get to the packet pickup when it opened at 6:00. I also had to catch a shuttle to the half marathon start and didn’t know how long the lines may be for the buses. Everything was really easy and I didn’t need to be there so early, but I guess I’d rather play it safe and have time to kill so I don’t feel rushed.

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2019-06-15 - muddy mini stadium

After taking a walk around the outside of the ballpark I hopped on a shuttle bus that took me to the start in Maumee. Between Boston, Bayshore and this race, I’ve done several point-to-point races lately that require bussing to the start and then playing the waiting game. I was thankful that this time I got to wait in a nice downtown area by a church and some shops rather than on a damp grass field.

Also like Boston and Bayshore, there was rain prior to the start of the race. I may have had an hour or so to kill and luckily the rain didn’t start right away. I was able to find a bench on a sidewalk and play on my phone for a bit. 15-20 minutes before the 7:45 start the rain began to pick up. Some people took shelter by the church or other buildings.

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I wore a raincoat and sat in the rain until I was ready to unload my extra clothes at gear check, then I did a brief warm up jog around some parking lots. Most people weren’t very anxious to line up and opted to stay out of the rain until a few minutes before the start. When people did line up they left a big gap at the front. I realized someone was holding a 1:30 pace sign behind me, so maybe most people didn’t plan to run much faster than that. I moved back a little bit but was still surprised to be so close to the front. Oh well – if I was too slow people could just pass me. At least I wouldn’t get stuck in congestion like I had at the Bayshore half marathon.

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There was an out-and-back stretch to start the race that took us down a hill and on a road that ran next to a metropark. The rain wasn’t too heavy but it kept up for a little bit. Thanks to the lack of congestion and running downhill my time for the first mile was 7:45. That was a bit faster than I intended. I made an effort to slow down for the second mile. Going back up the hill helped me run the next mile 20 seconds slower. The hill wasn’t too significant though and the rest of the course was mostly flat.

After that, my pace sped up to the 7:45 range again for a while. I kept telling myself that I had just run a 1:44 half marathon a few weeks earlier. That averaged out to a pace in the 7:50s. I wasn’t sure I’d done enough work in the weeks since to set me up for something much faster, but maybe I actually did have more in me? Still, I wondered if running 7:40s could set me up for trouble later. Aside from the Bayshore half, I hadn’t done more than a mile or two at that kind of pace in training runs. I was running by feel though and somehow that pace didn’t feel too labored so I kept rolling with it. There were a couple guys running a similar pace for several miles so it probably helped me lock into that rhythm.

The temperature was in the low 60s. Whenever the rain let up I realized I’d rather have it back than cope with humidity. The rain was pretty much on and off throughout the race. I really appreciated the enthusiasm from the volunteers despite having to stand out in the rain. Police were also out in a ton of spots blocking traffic for us. Although there were very few spectators along the route, it was really nice to have the volunteers and police out there.

The course wasn’t quite as scenic as I thought it may be, but the gloomy day and my concentration on running strong may have distracted me a bit. We ran along River Road for much of the race and caught glimpses of the Maumee River in spots. I liked looking at some of the nice houses along the river. We ran past part of the Toledo Zoo but I guess that portion must not be very noticeable from the road because I completely missed it!

2019-06-15 - muddy mini map

After five miles my pace got a few seconds faster and I ended up in the low 7:40s and high 7:30s for the next five miles. I didn’t know where the speed was coming from! I thought about how great it felt though. When running comes naturally and it happens to be sort of fast too, it’s a good feeling. I thought about how I’m kind of good at this running thing and I’m lucky to have discovered that!

Of course it wasn’t a total breeze maintaining the pace and I was definitely working hard. Somehow I was able to keep it up and still managed to take my usual approach of speeding up for the last few miles – 7:31, 7:20, 7:12. I found myself grimacing more frequently in the late miles of the race as I kept grinding. When the 1:40 pacer passed me during the first mile of the race I wondered if there was any possibility I could catch up to him later. Now I could see him and he was within reach. He became my target. My PR is just under 1:40 so I knew it was possible. Could I actually catch up to him?

As I approached the ballpark I felt really strained trying to maintain a 7:12 pace. I didn’t have enough gas in the tank to speed up even more. The pacer was within sight but a bit too far out of reach. I went around the outside of the park and got to the tunnel that goes down to the field. The ramp was steep and turned a couple times, so I slowed down a little bit to manage it. It was pretty cool to run into the park.

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We got to run along the warning track on the way to the finish line.

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1:40:47 was my official time. I couldn’t quite hit 1:40 but I was pretty close. I ran several minutes faster than I did at Bayshore, ran a negative split, and I was only a minute off of my PR. I was thrilled!

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2019-06-15 - muddy mini splits

I found the 1:40 pacer after I finished and talked to him for a couple minutes. Although he didn’t have people around him to pace, I wanted to let him know that he gave me someone to chase and I appreciated that.

After rounding the warning track we had to head up the stairs for the post-race festivities. Although I was wiped out at the end of the race I guess I still had enough adrenaline to get up the stairs without a struggle.

I’ve found that most people are pretty friendly about taking pictures at races. After I offered to take a picture of one group, one of them offered to do the same for me.

2019-06-15 - muddy mini postrace

I ended up chatting with the guy who took my photo for several minutes. He told me this was his third race and the longest distance he had raced. His goal was to keep running the whole time and he had achieved that goal. I love sharing the excitement of accomplishing goals with other runners. I knew that he was proud and I congratulated him and encouraged him to keep it up.

I used one of the computers to check my results and it showed “DNF” – did not finish. Some of the results hadn’t loaded yet so I got some post-race snacks and figured I’d check again later. They had orange slices, bananas, and granola bars for snacks. I wasn’t impressed with the thin selection of food at first, but then I went to the party area in Hensville Park where they had beer, hotdogs, and chips. They also had a great band named Amelia Airharts. They won me over right away with a Tom Petty cover.

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I had signed up for text notifications from the race and received one with my finishing time. I didn’t have to worry about that DNF. I had already been excited enough about my speedy time, but I was pretty shocked to see that I had won my age group and had placed so high overall. I never place high enough for awards when I run half marathons. Most half marathons have more than 400 people though, so I think the smaller crowd gave me better odds.

2019-06-15 - muddy mini results

This sweet award is now proudly displayed on a bookcase with other prizes I’ve collected from races.

2019-06-15 - muddy mini award

Since I raced so well and won an award, of course I’m going to say I loved this race. I would definitely recommend it and may have to return in the future. I realized that I have run some of my best races in Toledo. My current half PR is from the Glass City Marathon in 2015. I ran the full marathon there in 2018 and used my time to get into Boston in 2019. Since I’ve had three solid races in Toledo I may need to race there more often!

I’ve run a few strong races in the last month which makes me feel better about my lackluster race in Boston. Although Boston didn’t play out how I had hoped, I’ve heard that one successful training cycle stacks on top of another. I think I’m seeing the results of that. My training for Boston was very successful and it seems like the fitness has stuck with me. It kind of amazes me that this race was so close to my half PR without “proper” training. I trained very specifically for that kind of speed when I achieved my PR. If I’m in the same neighborhood now without doing the workouts, it leaves me encouraged for what may come once I start doing more workouts. I hope to do a whole bunch of races over the next few months, so I may actually substitute those for my typical Tuesday speed and Thursday tempo runs. I’m racing my way into shape this summer and so far the approach seems to be working!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

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Cannonball Run Recap

2019-06-12 - cannonball run shirt

Back in November when everyone had Black Friday sales, I browsed through some triathlon websites to see if I could find any races I was ready to commit to that early. I was intrigued by a 3 Disciplines series called the Cannonball Run. It’s an aquathlon (or swim/run) that takes place in Saginaw, MI one Wednesday night in June, July, and August. Although I get enough biking in to manage my way through triathlons, I truly enjoy swimming and running. Cutting out the bike leg sounded like my kind of race!

I’ve done an indoor “aquadash” race using a pool and treadmill but have never done a swim/run outside. Saginaw is an hour and a half away which is pretty far to go on a weeknight. I knew that I’d get out of work early enough to make it on time though. The Black Friday sale allowed me to sign up for all three events plus a t-shirt for $45. I figured that was a good enough deal to go for it. If something came up and I missed one or two of them, it would still be a reasonable deal.

When Wednesday, June 12th rolled around, it was time for my first multisport event of the season. I had plenty of time to make the drive after work with a 6:30 start, even with a frustrating stretch of construction to battle along the way. I changed into my tri suit and ate an energy bar at a rest stop when I got closer to Saginaw and made it to the park with 45 minutes to prepare.

The race took place at William H. Haithco Recreation Area. Registration was by a pavilion in the park where I collected my bib, swim cap, timing chip, t-shirt, and some samples in a drawstring bag. Although 3 Disciplines is the event management company for the race series, the event is actually owned by Team ATP, a triathlon club. A good chunk of the people there were members of the club.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run transition

The transition area was a big patch of grass with flags around it and people could leave their stuff wherever they chose. My nerves kicked in when I started to set my stuff up. Towels, swim cap, goggles, wetsuit, shoes, socks, hat, number belt, and hydration belt…I think I had everything. I have checklists to make sure I don’t forget anything but I’m always a bit anxious when I do my first multisport event of the season. It had been a while since I had dealt with my wetsuit. I used plenty of Body Glide on my lower legs in hopes that it would help me get it off more easily after the swim. I also remembered to put some on my neck to avoid chafing from the wetsuit. It took two races for me to learn that hard lesson last summer.

I had signed up for the long course race –  a 1500m two-loop swim and a 5K run. People could also do the sprint distance, which offered a 500m swim and 1.5mi run. The swim took place in a man-made spring-fed lake. I was relieved to see that the water was 72°. That meant it wouldn’t feel too cold, especially in my full wetsuit.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run water

I believe 16 of us chose to race the longer distance and our race started first. We lined up on the dock based on how fast we thought we would swim. First they asked for people who could swim 500m in 8-10 minutes, and I went near the back of that group. The race began at 6:30 when the first person jumped into the water. We may have been spaced out by five seconds or so. I haven’t practiced diving since I was a kid and I’m not allowed to dive into the pools where I swim. Without any practice, I didn’t think it would be wise to dive and possibly lose my goggles so I just jumped in. A little wind created some tiny waves. They weren’t very significant, but it was still a little more rocky than the pools that I’m used to. Thanks to the time trial start it didn’t get congested in the water. Someone cut in front of me at one point which was annoying but I never bumped into anyone.

In the open water I don’t really have a good feel for my rhythm or pacing. Things feel very routine for me in the pool and I’m a little thrown off in the open water. I hadn’t practiced in the open water at all this season, but I feel comfortable enough that I don’t worry too much. I was fine with spotting the buoys and aiming for them. It just felt a little weird to have my shoulders and arms constricted by the wetsuit and not know what kind of pace I might be swimming.

When I got back to the dock area after my first loop, I started to run into some of the sprint swimmers as I started my second loop. Not literally, but I had to make a point of going around a few people. I had to do that at the end as well when I was trying to push my pace as I approached the finish.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run swim

I ended up swimming 1500m in 28:02. I predicted I’d be somewhere around 28:30 so I was happy with that time. I was wobbly when I got out of the water and couldn’t run to transition. I was so hung up on getting my wetsuit sleeve over my watch that I didn’t take my swim cap or goggles off until I was in transition. I realized I had forgotten to take my hair out of a bun when I went to put my hat on. Little things like that made me aware of my rustiness, and I just hope I remember those things so I have smoother transitions as I race more this summer. All of the Body Glide made my suit nice and slippery so I could take it off, but I still had to sit down to get my ankles and feet out. I sat down to get my socks and shoes on as well because I still didn’t have good balance. I got through the transition in 1:40.

I was pretty winded as I started the run. I’m used to being winded as I start the bike leg of a triathlon, but it felt a little harder for me to manage while running. I knew I wasn’t going to be capable of running my true 5K kind of pace and just did whatever I could.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run run

The run took us onto the road for a couple of out-and-back stretches, then we stayed in the park for the rest of it. The road had some stones, then there was a dirt path around the lake, and we ran on some pavement as well. The whole route was nice and flat. The out-and-back nature of the course allowed us to see other runners which is always a good distraction for me. When I got out to the far part along the lake, I kept wondering when the turnaround would come. A woman ran past me in the opposite direction and told me I should be able to catch her. I questioned that at first until I started to approach her a few minutes later and realized she was within reach. I’m typically more competitive with myself rather than aiming to beat other people. However, trying to catch up with her provided good motivation to keep myself running hard. Eventually I passed her and I felt strong by the end of the run. I thought it was supposed to be a 5K, but my watch came up with a little less than three miles. Either way, I was glad that my pace improved as I went and had an official run time of 21:46. My overall time was 51:27.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run splits

It look a few minutes to catch my breath, then I got a granola bar, Rice Krispies Treat, fruit snacks, and some chocolate milk. I enjoyed chatting with the woman I had passed during the run. Despite finishing ahead of her, her overall time was actually better. With the nature of the time trial swim start you never really know where you stand overall. She had started behind me in the swim but swam a few minutes faster than me. It was a pretty small group of us who raced the longer distance and it looks like I may have placed right in the middle overall. I didn’t think I had to stick around for the awards ceremony which was good since I still had to drive home.

2019-06-12 - cannonball run postrace

I didn’t have any specific expectations going into this race which left me with a weird feeling after the race. I was glad I had done it but I didn’t have any feelings about either exceeding or not meeting expectations since I didn’t have any. The next morning when I reflected back on the race I felt proud and more accomplished. It was a pretty cool adventure to have on a Wednesday night. The logistics of driving there, making sure I had everything, dealing with transition, etc. could have kept me home in my comfort zone, but I got out and challenged myself to do something different. I’m looking forward to doing it a couple more times this summer and will be curious to see if my time improves now that I have a baseline.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Flapjack 5K Recap

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A race that features a running pancake cartoon and all-you-can-eat pancakes at the end? Count me in!

The Flapjack 5K and Mile Fun Run took place on Sunday, June 2nd in Macomb, MI. I had actually planned to do a swim/run race in Ohio that day. When a pre-race email mentioned an E. coli advisory for the creek where I’d be swimming, I decided to bail on that race. Apparently some people still swam, but if it’s bad enough to issue an advisory, it’s bad enough to keep me away. At first I was bummed, but I knew my friend Carmen (visit her blog here) had planned to do a pancake run on Sunday. Since my schedule was open and it sounded like fun, I decided I’d join her.

The race has been around for 15 years and benefits the Kids Coalition Against Hunger. I signed up on Friday evening prior to the Sunday morning race and was still able to get a cotton t-shirt.

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K shirt

I got there an hour before the 9:30 start and found Carmen in the elementary school’s gym where we picked up our packets.

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K janet carmen

It was a sunny morning in the high 50s, and although it felt a little cool while standing around, I was sweating by the end of my mile warm up jog. This race attracted lots of younger kids and their families, and the morning started with a mile fun run about 20 minutes before the 5K. When it was time for our race to begin, I didn’t push very close to the starting line because it was clear that the kids were ready to blast off. I knew it was better to have them in front of me so they wouldn’t trip over me!

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K start

Thanks to Greg Sadler for the great race photos.

I’ve done enough races to know that the younger kids might make it a quarter mile before it becomes hard to maintain the all-out sprinting speed. A few of them made it a little bit longer, and a few kids who were older ran solid races. The crowd thinned out pretty quickly as we worked our way through the flat neighborhood roads.

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K map

This 5K was more intimidating to me than the half marathon I ran a week earlier. I feel more comfortable doing longer, slower endurance runs. Whenever I “race” a 5K I know it’s going to hurt. I push my pace to the threshold and just hope I can hang on. I had run some 400 repeats at my goal 5K pace a couple times in the weeks leading up to this race, and that had been the extent of my recent speedwork. I had no idea what I was capable of.

I ran by feel and my first mile was just under seven minutes. It was hard work and I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep it up. I kept hoping I wouldn’t crash hard. I could only see two women ahead of me but didn’t know if there were more out of sight. I caught up to one of them within the second mile and wondered if I could be the second woman. The other woman kept getting faster and there was no way I’d catch her. As the crowd spaced out, I wished there were more people around to motivate me not to slow down. Somehow I kept running strong through the end, but it sure was tough.

I managed to smile just in time for my finishing photo. If you look closely, you can see something stuck on the bottom of my right shoe. Somehow I picked up an arrow sticker from the road when I rounded a corner. It was pretty annoying to have that flopping around for at least a mile of the race, but I wasn’t going to stop to peel it off!

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I was pretty shocked and happy when I saw that I had officially finished in 22:16, especially since my distance was a little long. It was hard to hit tangents with all of the twists and turns through the neighborhood.

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K splits

I was surprised that my pace was so consistent…and that I maintained it somehow. When I do speedwork I typically consider 7:00 pace my 5K pace. I didn’t think I was in 5K shape so this was a really pleasant surprise. I was also happy when I saw that I was the second female and had won my age group. That’s one thing I love about smaller races – I stand a better chance at placing well!

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K results

I cheered for Carmen as she finished soon after me. Then it was time for pancakes!

2019-06-02 - Flapjack 5K pancakes

After the nice breakfast we went to collect our age group awards. There was a group standing around in front of the pancake poster where I wanted to pose. When I asked if I could get in there for a picture, one of the guys cracked me up as he posed with me.

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I thought it was fun that we received little bottles of maple syrup for age group awards. The clay pancake medals were pretty great too.

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Overall, it was a fun morning. I was pretty close to my ideal 5K speed and wasn’t expecting that at all. If I can already manage that kind of speed when I’ve barely put in the work, it gives me hope that I could have a promising summer of racing once I DO start working on it.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

 

 

 

Bayshore Half Marathon Recap

2019-05-25 - bayshore medal

I love the Bayshore Marathon because Traverse City is a great place for a Memorial Day weekend getaway. It’s 3.5-4 hours away and the race provides a good excuse to visit beautiful northern lower Michigan. I didn’t sign up for this year’s race initially because I had the Boston Marathon scheduled for mid-April. I didn’t know if it would be ideal to try running a half marathon six weeks later. I’m usually pretty cautious about returning to running after a marathon and take the recovery process seriously.

When I saw that Gazelle Sports and Brooks Running had some Bayshore entries to give away on Instagram, I was excited about the thought of giving the race a try. I explained in my entry that I’ve had two rough races at Bayshore and hoped that maybe the third time would be a charm. I crashed and burned when I ran the half in 2012, resulting in my personal worst half marathon time. I was in the bathroom line for over half an hour and the race started while I was still waiting. By the time I made it to the start, I got stuck behind people running a slower pace. My pace fluctuated as I weaved around people to make up for the slow start. I developed a side stitch halfway through the race that I could not shake and ended up walking the last 5K.

Four years later I gave Bayshore a second chance when I signed up to run my third marathon. There had been snow a couple weeks before the race and my body definitely wasn’t acclimated to the heat and humidity that I faced on race morning. 70 degrees at 7:00am was not good and I ran a personal worst marathon time…until I beat it by running a minute slower at Boston this year.

I’ve been hoping to redeem myself with a good race at Bayshore and fortunately Gazelle and Brooks awarded me with free race entries for myself and a friend! I was able to choose the distance and hoped that the half marathon wouldn’t be too ambitious following Boston. The half marathon always sells out within a few hours, so I felt especially thankful. I gave my other entry to my half brother-in-law so he could run the 10K. He would be in town that weekend and usually likes to participate, but he didn’t sign up early enough and the race sold out. I’m glad the contest helped both of us!

After Boston, I took a week off of running. I dealt with IT band issues and other tweaks for a week when I started to run again. Then I spent a couple weeks doing easy runs four days a week and concentrated on rebuilding my mileage. A couple weeks before Bayshore I ran four miles at marathon pace within a 10-mile run and the pace felt pretty challenging. I did some 400 repeats a couple times to reintroduce a faster pace. Aside from that, I didn’t feel like my speed had come back yet and I wasn’t sure what pace to aim for at Bayshore. I peaked with six days of running and a 12-mile run a week before the race. That reassured me that at least I was ready to cover the distance.

The race was on Saturday, May 25th, and I took half a day on Friday so I could beat traffic and get to town early. I checked into my hotel then went to downtown Traverse City to load up on treats. Before I left work, my buddy Jeff wondered if Traverse City had any good donut shops I should check out. Thanks to his investigative work, I had to make a stop at Peace Love & Little Donuts. I knew I also had to get some salt water taffy at Kilwins.

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I took in the scenery by the water for a few minutes since I had some extra time to kill before my half sister and her husband made it to town.

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We met at the high school for packet pickup. The orange shirt is the official race shirt and I ended up buying an additional cotton shirt too.

I was tempted by many of the cool items for sale, but I managed to leave with just the one extra shirt.

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After grabbing dinner I thought I’d get my stuff ready for the next morning, but I was distracted for a little while first. My hotel was along the water and it was a beautiful night.

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I actually slept pretty well but I only got around six hours of sleep. Unfortunately I do that way too often so it didn’t throw me off too much.

I drove through lightning and pouring rain on my way to the school, which was only five minutes from my hotel. I got there before 5:30 and was able to find a parking spot easily. Because the half marathon runners take shuttle buses to the start between 5:15-6:20, we’re typically the first runners to arrive. Parking is more of a challenge for the 10K and marathon runners. That was especially clear after the race when I saw cars parked all over the grass and in any random free space they could find.

I debated how long I should wait before heading to the buses. I wasn’t in a big rush to go wait in a field in the rain. By 5:50 I finally headed out, equipped with an umbrella, rain coat, and a couple of plastic bags wrapped around each foot. I learned all of the tricks for dealing with a long wait in the rain at this year’s Boston Marathon. The bags worked for keeping my shoes dry.

I thought the bus ride would take half an hour, but it was more like 15 minutes. There was only one tent in the field where we had to wait and it was already pretty packed.

2019-05-25 - bayshore tent

I was thankful that I managed to squeeze in just under the edge of the tent. I had an hour and 15 minutes to wait and it was still raining. You would think at least a couple tents might be a good idea? Close to 3,000 people ran the half and obviously one tent couldn’t hold everyone.

I played on my phone to keep occupied until I figured I should get in line for the bathrooms. I allowed plenty of time so I would NOT repeat my 2012 issue of being stuck in line as the race started. I saw that some people had found a creative way to cope with waiting in the rain.

2019-05-25 - bayshore prerace

We lucked out and the rain stopped at least 15 minutes before the start of the race. I left my extra stuff at gear check, did a quick jog around the grass, then lined up at the edge of the road near the 8:00 pace sign. I didn’t think I wanted to be that ambitious so I stayed a little further back. When the clock hit 7:30, we were off!

The course is mostly flat but the starting location had changed since I last ran the half in 2012. Now there was a big hill to deal with at the very beginning. You can see the climb up toward the trees in the photo below.

2019-05-25 - bayshore start

I was glad the hill came at the beginning when my legs were fresh. I was not expecting such a slow start though. The two-lane road was really congested and I could not get around people very easily. I guess it acted as a good warm up to keep me from starting out too fast, but I did get a little frustrated because I wanted to get moving.

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I didn’t know what kind of pace to aim for but thought somewhere around 8:15 might be ideal. I wasn’t too excited that I ran the first mile in 8:41. However, the downhills always help me much more than the uphills hurt me. I was able to break free from the crowd by the time we headed downhill and I was kind of shocked that I ran the second mile in 7:27. Normally that would have been way too fast that early in the race, but it was a pretty steep hill and I took advantage of my momentum. I guess it helped balance out the slowness of the first mile!

After the first couple miles we got to the good scenery. Aside from the flat course, the big appeal of Bayshore is running down the peninsula along the bay.

2019-05-25 - bayshore course

Since the rain had stopped just prior to the start of the race, it was a very humid morning. It was around 60 degrees and some parts of the course were really foggy. That’s especially apparent in this photo of the cyclists leading the marathoners. Thanks to Bayshore for providing free photo downloads.

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Typically the humidity kills me, yet somehow it didn’t this time. Maybe it’s because the temperature didn’t climb too much while I was racing. Maybe it’s because I had done a number of afternoon runs on warmer days leading up to the race and was somewhat acclimated to the conditions. I told myself that although I might struggle under those conditions for a full marathon, I knew I could manage it for a half. It helped that there were a few spots along the course where I felt a cool breeze coming off the water.

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I hovered between a 7:50-8:00 pace for most of the race. When I glanced at my watch during the early miles, I worried that I was being too ambitious. After all, four miles at that pace had been a lot of work just a couple weeks earlier. I was running by feel and I guess that’s what I was feeling, so I kept rolling with it.

I’ve been stressed about a lot of things lately and hoped that wouldn’t seep into my race. Fortunately my mind was distracted for most of the race. Four to five miles into the race I started to see the marathoners on their way up the peninsula. I really enjoy watching the other runners. I saw someone wearing a ChadTough singlet, which meant that he was running for the foundation that’s fighting pediatric brain cancer. It reminded me that we’re all battling something and there are many bigger problems than what I may be going through. I thought about how all of us runners were out there being strong and fighting through whatever we may be facing, whether it was the physical and mental challenges of the race or something more. I kept reminding myself that I’m strong and didn’t let my mind dwell on my problems.

Aside from watching runners going the opposite direction, there aren’t many distractions during this race. There are a few spots with large spectator crowds, but much of the route runs past homes and the water. Some residents come out to cheer for the runners, and there was music playing in a few spots. I wish there was more music because I don’t run with my own, and I got especially fired up when I heard songs like Katy Perry’s “Roar.” The scenery was a nice distraction, of course. When I saw sunlight hitting the fog over the water in one spot, it was so stunning that I was tempted to stop for a picture. I didn’t want to mess with the good momentum I had going for me and just had to appreciate it in that moment.

After six or seven miles I told myself that even if I crashed later on, I had done a good marathon pace workout. I kept reassuring myself, “Okay, now at least you’ve gotten six miles in at marathon pace. Seven miles. Eight miles…” Somehow I kept it going, and when I hit nine miles, I figured I was in pretty good shape for the rest of the race. Soon enough I’d only have 5K left.

My mantra about being strong stuck with me in the later miles. It had felt so good to get little bursts of speed in when I had done the 400 repeats a couple times during training. I told myself I could do that now too. Once I get through 10 miles of a half marathon, I typically feel pretty comfortable making a push for the last 5K. It feels great to finish so strong, and fortunately I had it in me during this race. It wasn’t an easy effort but I was able to maintain it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard someone call my name as I got closer to the school where we finished. It was my Twitter/Instagram running buddy Jeff and I didn’t know he was going to be there. That broke my pain face for a moment and made me smile.

I love finishing on the track and gave everything I had at that point. I heard my name again and knew that my half sister Karen was cheering for me. The photographer caught me giving a thumbs up to let her know that I had heard her.

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I managed to cross the finish line in an even 1:45:00. That meant I’d gone a little under since it took some time for me to cross the timing mat at the start. 1:44:17 was my official time.

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I managed to run faster than an 8:00 pace and was thrilled. It was several minutes slower than my PR, but based on my level of fitness coming into this race, I had exceeded my expectations. I was happy to find that maybe some of the fitness from Boston Marathon training was still in me. I hadn’t pulled off that kind of pace in Boston like I intended, so at least I did it at Bayshore!

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Shortly after making it to the post-race celebration area, my half brother-in-law Tom and my half brother Bob (who both ran the 10K) found me.

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I really look forward to post-race treats and Bayshore has one of the best spreads out there. I didn’t have enough room to carry all of the food I wanted! I could stick a bottle of water and chocolate milk in my tri short pockets, but then I had to make room for chips, a blueberry muffin, and one of the highlights – Moomers ice cream. I also collected some cookies and cookie bars along the way, trying to scarf them down so I could carry more. Like I said, I really enjoy treats after a race!

It was nice to spend time with family after the race. I appreciated that Karen and her mom came out to spectate and cheer for us.

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Everything was great until I got in the gear check line. I realized pretty quickly that it was going to take a while. However, I would have never guessed that it would take nearly 45 minutes!! It’s pretty obvious that things were not organized appropriately and the volunteers struggled to find many of the bags. When I finally made it to the front, I lucked out and the girl found my bag in an instant. The group crowded behind the tent in the picture below gives a little idea of how messy it got. Nearly as many people were also in line out of the frame of this photo.

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I hadn’t expected to be held up that long after the race. I was anxious to get back to the hotel and shower so I could meet everyone for lunch. We had a nice lunch at North Peak Brewing Company and didn’t have any wait to get in. It turned out to be a beautiful day in the 80s which was perfect for taking in the gorgeous scenery around Traverse City.

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The lighthouses at the tips of both the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas weren’t anything super exciting, but it was worth all of the driving for the pretty views along the way. Wineries, beaches, beautiful water – all of it was stunning.

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Once again, I was thankful that my hotel was along the beach. I was in heaven with these views!

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When I checked TripAdvisor.com for things to do around Traverse City, I came across the TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) Trails. Family confirmed that the trail between Traverse City and Suttons Bay made for a nice bike ride. I had brought my bike and hoped to get a nice long ride in, so I got up extra early to allow enough time prior to checking out of the hotel. I parked at a trailhead and was able to ride out 14 miles and back.

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The trail is paved, flat, and peaceful. Once again I had a chance to enjoy some nice scenery.

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Heading home on Sunday made it possible to beat Memorial Day traffic, and the couple days I was there gave me enough time to squeeze in some good stuff around Traverse City.

Many thanks to Gazelle Sports and Brooks Running for the opportunity to do this race. It feels great to have finally redeemed myself with a good run at Bayshore. After such a fun weekend, I might be anxious to return again next year rather than letting a few years lapse in between.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz