Let’s start off with the most important part: I joined the Sub 2 Club!
Official Time: 1:57:11.6 – a new PR by almost 10 minutes!
1st split: 58:13.8
2nd split: 58:57.8
Sorry, don’t really have any pictures to help break up the post. You can always skip to the end and leave a comment.
The Night Before
I was at my friends’ annual “Wine and Cheese” party the night before. While I only had 1 glass of champagne, I did try a fair amount of cheeses. I couldn’t help myself. Rushed around all day before the party and didn’t get there until after 10. We ended up staying until 2. Got home, threw some clothes in the dryer, put my gear bag together and got to bed around 3.
Two Hours Later…
The alarm went off at 5 and I dragged myself out of bed. I got dressed, finished packing my bag, and laid on the couch – falling back asleep. My backup alarm went off, which I promptly snoozed – twice. When I realized it was 6:20, I scrambled out the door. I didn’t know what to do about food, so I grabbed a half of french baguette, leftover from dinner. Finally on the road by 6:30.
It was probably a sight to see, me tearing into a loaf of bread, like a barbarian, zipping up I-94 at 90 mph, while blasting the New Wave station on XM. Even with the freeway down to one lane for a stretch, I managed to get to Richmond High in record time.
Registration and pickup was in the parking lot of the high school, which is across the street from the finish line. I’ve never done a point-to-point race before. I read that they would do a gear drop-off at the start, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to trust them with (not that they’re a bunch of thieves, but, accidents happen). I took only my car key and a the pair of warmup pants I was wearing. I then hopped onto one of the buses that would take us to the start, in Romeo.
As luck would have it, I bumped into Let’s Move Jon ( he needs a new nickname, but if you’ve read my posts long enough, I met Jon for the first time as we ran the second half of the Let’s Move Half Marathon together). He was there with his usual group of friends, who were all planning to do 3 miles before the start, since this is their 16 mile training run for the Detroit Marathon. At one point they all pulled out their GUs to compare flavors. It reminded me of when kids pull out their lunch boxes, to see if anyone wanted to trade fruit snacks for raisins.
It was then, when I realized I left my Hammer Gel in the car. Oh well. I decided not to use any gels or the like for the entirety of my training cycle. The Hammer Nutrition Guide states that no in-race nutrition should be needed for events that are under 2 hours, and that was my goal. So, I tried not to worry about it and figured they may have GU at one of the aid stations (they didn’t).
I arrived at the starting gathering area in Romeo. It was just a wide open field, with a tent and a sound system. Jon and his friends had gone off for their extra 3. And I looked to see if I knew anyone. I came across some DailyMile friends and stuck with them until the start. It’s funny how you make friends by being at the same races. They become familiar faces, despite never seeing them outside of running events.
The starting line was actually a quarter-mile walk up the trail from where we were gathered. It was like a built-in warm up and the only warm up I did. The course starts at the overpass of M-53. It’s the only hill in the course. After that, you don’t change altitude more than 5 ft. It took a ton of restraint to hold myself back. I knew that was one of the factors at Back to the Beach that killed my time. My goal was to be about a minute behind my goal pace by mile 3. I managed only 30 seconds, but I was being cautious to take it easy.
The course is a 13 mile stretch of the Macomb Orchard Trail, a paved trail that used to be a railroad. This explains why the course was completely flat and straight. Aside from the few road crossings that force us to do a little turn to the crosswalk, the course has ONE turn. That’s it. Its 6.55 as-the-crow-flies miles to Armada, a turn to the right, and another 6.55 completely straight miles into Richmond. The trail is almost completely covered by a tree canopy, which was great for keeping the sun (if there was any) out of our eyes, as we traveled Eastward. I have to say, the course was a little boring after a while. You can peer into the woods for a change of scenery, but nothing really changed for the stretch of the course.
Miles 4-6 were right on pace. I was managing 9 minute miles almost effortlessly. I did my best to pull back when my watch said I was under 9:00 and tried not to freak out when it read over 9:20. My watch isn’t very accurate and somehow underestimates my distance, so I figured if I kept around 9:10 pace, I would be fine. The halfway point came and the clock was reading 57 and change. Knowing I wasn’t at the front of the start, meant I was definitely ahead of my 2 hour goal time. I decided to keep my pace right where it had been and not to push any harder until at least mile 10.
Final Miles and Finish
I waited until mile 11 to finally pick up the pace, but it wasn’t by much. I think I did it in about 8:50. The mile 12 marker came and I decided to cover up my watch and push it. I knew by this time I was going to make my goal. I had 12 minutes to finish 1.1 miles. I kicked it up to near an 8 minute pace, until I got to the .1. With the finish line in sight and the clock visible, I pushed it to beat the 1:58 clock time.
I finished with the feeling of vomit. It was always my #1 indicator in cross-country that I didn’t leave anything to spare. DailyMiler, Laura also managed to break 2 hours for the first time and about 2 minutes faster than me. Mary Beth was running injured, so she took it easy. Probably the only time I will ever finish before her.
I made a beeline to the post race food table for apple slices and a bagel. Jon, even after running the extra 3 miles, managed a 1:49. The guy turns 60 next year. I can only hope that I’m in that good of shape in 20 years. We talked a bit with his friends over some cider and I met the Female Masters Winner, Peggy.
I’m really happy to have met my year’s goal at this race. I had some serious doubts the past few weeks that I would meet it. The race was small with only about 300 runners (not including the 5k runners). The trail is very well-managed and the Macomb Sheriffs did a great job of traffic control at the crossroads. I will definitely be back for this race in the future.
Detroit Free Press Half Marathon is in less than 5 weeks. I have another 100 miles worth of training before then. Hopefully I’ll see sub 2 again.