On Sunday, September 29th I ran the Growler Gallop 10 Mile race in Detroit, MI. My goal race is the Chicago Marathon on October 13th and this was the 13th and final race in my 18-week training segment leading up to the marathon. I’m used to racing frequently during the summer but this is the most I have raced as I’ve built up to a marathon. For the most part, rather than doing the speed/strength/tempo runs that my training schedule called for, I opted to run hard at the races instead. I wanted to do my last 10-mile marathon pace run during the Brooksie Way Half Marathon a week earlier but it was warm and humid and I only managed to hit my goal pace for 4-5 miles. I hoped that the Growler Gallop would be a good chance to make up for it.
I worried that I’d have to skip this race after I wiped out on a sidewalk while running early on Friday morning. I scraped and bruised my knee, and my hands were a bloody mess. My big toe began to hurt once I got home and later that night I realized it was bruised. I wiped out a few weeks before the Indy Monumental Marathon last fall and now I managed to do it again a couple weeks before Chicago. Torn up hands wouldn’t stop me but an injured toe could screw things up. I tried not to freak out too much and reminded myself that I took a lot of time off right before Indy because my knee was in bad shape. Even as I started that race I wasn’t sure it would hold up, but I ended up running a great race. Hopefully I’d be okay this time too.
I skipped my 6-mile run on Saturday to heal and play it safe. I took advantage of the early packet pick-up option at the Hansons Running Shop in Royal Oak. This race offered hooded sweatshirts in a variety of colors during registration which I thought was pretty cool.
My toe and knee didn’t bother me on Saturday so I decided to do an easy 2-mile run on Sunday morning to see how things went. The race had a 4 p.m. start which allowed me to do the trial run, get some rest, then run the race later. I was relieved that nothing hurt and figured I could give the race a shot.
Unlike Brooksie a week earlier, it was actually kind of chilly for this race. It was around 60 degrees plus it was pretty windy. It rained for most of my drive to Atwater Brewery in Detroit but luckily the rain let up until after the race. There was a lot across from the brewery where we gathered before and after the race. The band that was playing put me in a good mood when they did songs by Barenaked Ladies and Sister Hazel, a couple of my favorites. I hung out under a tent with one of my Chevy Running Club buddies for a few minutes. The wind was blowing so much that the legs of the tent had to be strapped to a fence so it wouldn’t blow over. This was going to be an interesting run.
I have run so many hilly races lately that I was looking forward to a course that was as flat as can be. Although this race didn’t have hills to battle, the wind may have made things just as challenging. The course took us along Detroit’s riverwalk to start, along a main road, then onto Belle Isle. We ran directly into the wind for most of the first half of the race and it didn’t help that so much of the run was along the water. I love running around that part of Detroit but the dreary, windy day didn’t make it easy.
Although I was chilly to start, it didn’t take long before I began to sweat. It also didn’t take long before I realized I had made a very poor choice in my selection of Band-Aids. The Band-Aids on my left palm stuck fairly well but I wasn’t so lucky with my right hand. I had five Band-Aids to cover my palm, three knuckles, and the side of my hand. As soon as I started to sweat a couple of the Band-Aids began to peel. I debated pulling them off but the gashes were deep enough that I knew I better keep them covered. My mind was preoccupied for most of the race with a combination of thoughts about fighting the wind and how I could keep the Band-Aids from falling off. It required scrunching my hand up in an awkward position. It made things tricky every time I grabbed the water bottle from my hydration belt. It was annoying but somehow I managed.
My main goal for this race was to hit my marathon pace of 8-minute miles the whole time and go a little faster if I had it in me. I didn’t have any real strategy – I just ran by feel. The wind definitely was a factor and two of the miles on the south side of Belle Isle were the hardest and my slowest. I’ve done a couple races on Belle Isle when the wind was very noticeable on one side of the island but not so much on the other side. I managed to stay faster than my goal pace despite the wind and told myself that hopefully it would give me a boost on the way back. Based on my splits I think it probably did help. I pretty much ran on my own for the last 3-4 miles of the race. I could see people up ahead, but nobody that I could catch up to. I worried about my stomach for the last mile or two but still finished fairly strong. Thanks to Trivium Racing for the finishing photos.
Crim is the only other 10-mile race I’ve run. When I ran it this August, I started pretty fast and felt like I was grinding through and just trying to hang on for most of the race. This race didn’t feel easy, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing my limits to the extreme like I did at Crim. I finished this race just over a minute slower than my Crim time and was pretty happy. With a final time of 1:16:55 and an average pace of 7:42 per mile, I definitely achieved my goal for the day.
I picked up some pretzels, trail mix, and granola bars and hung out in the post-race area for a few minutes before I went to the car for some warmer clothes. I was also very anxious to get rid of the Band-Aids that were barely hanging on. I had some extras in the car but they didn’t stick very well either since my skin was still wet. It didn’t help that the rain started again by the time I left the car.
328 people finished the 10-mile race and 634 ran the 5K, so there were plenty of people hanging out. We had tickets for two free beers so I collected those and was able to save them for later. My friend Lisa was kind enough to hang out for a few minutes while I waited for the awards. The tent that I had stood under before the race was falling over due to the wind, but it was good enough to provide some cover from the rain. I had placed first in my age group and won a 64 oz. growler! It came along with a coupon that said I could fill it once for free at Atwater Brewery through March.
Between the sweatshirt, medal, the growler, post-race party, and nice course, this was a really great race. Aside from the wind, I’m glad the weather cooperated while we ran. I feel better now that I successfully ran my last 10-mile marathon pace run and didn’t feel too beat up after running it faster than planned. Chicago is approaching quickly and I’m hopeful that I’m on track for a good race.