Or, my first GRM as a lifetime runner.
Or, PRs really hurt
Oh dear Lord am I sore today! Holy crap. I haven’t been this sore in a long time. I felt 10 times better than this after IMWI.
We hit up the race expo on Saturday morning. As always, the GRM puts on a great expo. They even had the expo divided up into blue/yellow and green/white sections for the big UofM v. MSU game later that day.
As a Lifetime Runner, I get an extra shirt each year on top of the official race shirt. This year’s shirt is pretty cool. It is a nice long sleeve Saucony shirt that will be perfect for winter runs. Along with my shirt, I got my race number. I am now #115 for the rest of my life.
After checking out the rest of the expo, we had to stop by the Pickle Juice booth to snap some pictures for Emz.
I spent the afternoon relaxing on the couch watching football. Notre Dame had a bye week so it was stress-free day for me. Jennie made my favorite pre-race dinner – breaded chicken and pierogies. It is the perfect fuel before race day.
Because this is a local race, we don’t have to get up super early. I was up at 6AM, had my standard breakfast of eggs, toast and OJ before we headed out the door around 7AM. It took us a while to wind around road closures because of the race and construction. The GR Marathon has a “velocity challenged” start at 7AM so the roads get closed down earlier than the 8AM start time. It just means that we had to do a giant loop around the city to get to the other side rather than just cutting through.
Just like last year, we got a great parking spot about a quarter mile from the start/finish line. It was raining a bit so we quickly hurried over to the YMCA. Thankfully, despite forecasted rain all morning, the rain let up just after the start of the race and it made for absolutely ideal running weather.
At about 7:40, I saw the pace groups leaving the YMCA. I gave Jennie a quick hug and kiss before heading out to catch up with them. I had my eye out for Ben from Team Type 1, a friend of Tom and Colleen. I picked him out immediately and introduced myself. He was part of the 3:14 Pi Pacers pace group. This was just an “easy” run for him. He was coming off a sub-10 IM finish at Rev3 CP and running Chicago last week. All while preparing to embark on Team Type 1’s Run Across America starting next week. Talk about crazy awesome!
We exchanged race stories from the past season as we headed to starting line. I was still debating on whether to go out with the 3:14 Pi Pacers pace group or the 3:29 Billy Baldwin Racers. Last year I went out with the 3:29 group and picked up the pace around mile 10 to finish in 3:26. Ben helped convince me to go out harder this year as it is easier to fall back than it is to speed up.
We lined up just in time for the Canadian National Anthem. Yep, that’s right, Canada. If they get more than 100 Canadian registrants, they sing both the Canadian and US National Anthems. I consider it good practice for IMMT… “O Canada! Our home and native land…”
The camera was acting up again like it was at the Honolulu Marathon. I think that it is just a later riser and doesn’t like early mornings. However, the slow shutter speed resulted in another ghostly cool image.
I felt great for the first 4 miles. I was holding pace with the group without a problem and was really comfortable. There were a total of 5 official pacers in our group. One of them, Hank, had on a hydration belt that he had rigged with an iPod and speakers to provide tunes for the group. He had a pretty good mix of music and it helped take my mind off the run.
(photo courtesy of mlive.com)
At mile 4, I saw Jennie for the first time and ditched my long sleeve shirt. I had warmed up enough and was glad to shed it.
At about mile 6, the course winds around to the hills of Butterworth. These hills are a series of small, but unrelenting rollers. They are part of the River Bank Run as well so I am used to them, but they never get any easier. Before getting to the hills, our pace was a bit fast (miles 3-5 were sub 7:10) but I knew that the hills would flatten us out and get us back on schedule (7:23 was the scheduled pace).
Sure enough, as we rounded the corner at mile 9 and flattened out, we were right back on track.
I saw Jennie for the 2nd time of the day. She originally had planned on bringing her bike to get around like last year but with the rainy forecast, she decided to try driving this year. It actually worked out great and she was able to get all over the course.
As we entered Millennium Park, I noticed a guy in front of me running kind of funny. Then I noticed his hand up his shorts and the stream of fluid in front of him. Yep, he we peeing out of the bottom of shorts. While running. Do I see a “I Pee on the Run” shirt in the future??
Also in Millennium Park, we passed by the site of a race wedding. A couple from Texas was running the marathon together and stopping at the 10 mile mark to tie the knot. After the nuptials, off they went to run the final 16 miles together as a married couple.
(photo courtesy of mlive.com – See the rest of the pictures here)
Miles 12-15 were my final push to stick with the 3:14 pace group. My longest training run since IMWI was 15 miles at about a 7:30 pace. So, my goal was to be able to hang with the 3:14 group at least until then. I did my best to keep up with the group and managed to hold on, but it was tough.
Almost on cue, at mile 15, I started to drift back. For two reasons. Number one, I was really starting to feel the pain. And number two, I really had to drain the tank. I pulled off and watered a tree for 35 seconds according to my Garmin (remember that 35 seconds).
Shortly after that was the first Pickle Juice Aid Station on the course. I used pickles and pickle juice as a recovery aid during Ironman training, but had never actually consumed any during an event. Knowing how much it helps after a workout, I decided to take my chances on the course. I grabbed a cup (about 2 ounces) and threw it back. About half of it ended up all over my face, dripping down my chin. Whoops! Now I’m going to smell like pickles! haha. I followed it up with a cup of Gatorade mainly to get the taste off my lips. Thankfully, it went down without any problems.
I saw Jennie at about mile 17 and then again at mile 18. As I passed her at mile 18, I was going to say something about hurting really bad, but I noticed that she was taking a video of me so I had to suck it up and smile for the camera. haha
This portion of the course was a long out and back, so at mile 20, I hit the Pickle Juice Aid Station again. This time I slowed to walk, slammed the pickle juice, and started back up. For an out and back, it is a fairly enjoyable run. It is a tree lined road along the Grand River so nice and scenic. The road is nice and flat, but there is a slight crown to it so I tried to run down the middle as much as possible.
I managed to keep up my pace as much as possible and kept my miles at a sub-8:00 pace. I only mention this because I have finally started to use my Garmin during a race. I used to only run with my Garmin as a post-race record of how I did and would never look at it during a race. However, during IM training, I spent more time working to hit certain paces during my tempo runs and adapted to using the watch as a tool during the run.
These miles were both good and bad. They were bad because I had slowed down even more and was really hurting. But, at the same time, I was still running and didn’t have to give in and walk. Because of this, I managed to pass a few people here and there and that gave me a boast of confidence. This ended up being the first marathon that I ran the entire distance (minus aid stations). In my previous marathons, I had always ended up walking for about a half mile in the final 6 miles.
I saw my dad (and his dog Cooper) out cheering at mile 25. Even Cooper cheered by letting a few hound dog barks fly. With only a mile and change left, I was determined to push it as much as I could. I turned onto Seward for the final stretch and kicked it into gear.
I crossed the finish line in 3:20:31 chip time. Remember that 35 second pee break? Crap. I was one pee break away from going sub-3:20. Oh well! It is still a 6 minute PR so I couldn’t be happier!
I immediately found Jennie before heading to the beer tent. They weren’t letting non-runners into the finish area this year which sucked, but I was able to find a chair next to the fence so I could sit by Jennie while I enjoyed my beer.
I ran into some familiar faces in the beer tent. Miguel and Jill (above) are a couple runners that Jennie and I see all the time at races and beer runs. I saw Miguel a few times on the course at the out and back turn arounds and we exchanged cheers for each other along the way.
As we were leaving, I spotted my highschool math teacher,
Sargent Bob Sister Robert Ann. I ran over to say hello and Jennie caught this picture. This picture is amazing simply because it had never been proven that Sister was photographable; rumor was that she would just turn out as a blur. This woman is absolutely amazing. She has been teaching at my alma mater, Catholic Central, for over 40 years and was recently awarded a Lifetime Service Award. She is the sort of teacher that you absolutely hate while you are in her class but are glad that you had after you (hopefully) pass. Sister Robert Ann was my junior year Calculus teacher and she was also the faculty head of the Quiz Bowl team. Yep. I was a Quiz Bowl nerd.
Finally, on the way home, we stopped by DQ for some post race refueling. Sunday was the last day the DQ would be open for the season so it was fitting to celebrate the end of my 2011 racing season with the end of the DQ season.
M&M Blizzard… mmmmmm….
Thanks for reading!
|Age Group Place:||15/83|
|Run Pace:||7:39 min/mile|