Or… My first win!!!
Ok, so first off, this was a super casual race. You didn’t even have to run all 11 miles if you didn’t want – some people walked a mile, some did an 11K, some did whatever they wanted. There wasn’t any awards and it wasn’t timed, but I was the first person to cross the “finish” line and complete all 11 miles so I’m counting it as a win! For being a casual race, it was very well organized and a ton of fun.
We got to the race site around 10:30PM on Friday night to pick up our t-shirts. Despite only be an $11 race, we still got great shirts. While they were cotton shirts, they had both men’s and women’s cut shirts which is the first race where Jennie has actually gotten a shirt that fits.
With everyone ready to go, the race director stood up to thank everyone for coming. When he first had the idea for the run, he thought that if he could get just 11 people to show up, it would be a success. He ended up with over 80 people brave enough to come out at 11PM and run in 35*F weather.
For the sake of safety and simplicity, the course was a 1 mile loop along 8th Street in Holland – down one side of the street and back on the other. As boring as that sounds, it was actually a great loop. It was well lit, lined with US flags for Veteran’s Day and there were lots of people cheering. Also, because it was a looped course, there were constantly other runners around despite it being a smaller race.
My goal in this race was to hit a 7:00 min/mile pace – the pace needed to BQ. End result? 7:01 min/mile. Nailed it.
I went out strong on the first mile, clocking in at 7:02 and felt great the entire way. By the 2nd lap, I already started to lap a few people walking. I have to say, I felt a little bad passing people for some reason. I made sure to say “Good run” or some encouraging words as I passed though. I had never led a race before so I’m just glad that it was loops and that I didn’t have to know which way to go.
I kept pushing a strong pace each lap and felt stronger with each one. The worst part of the course was that we had to pass by two bars. Michigan recently passed a smoking ban for all restaurants and bars (Wooho!!!). However, this means that all the smokers congregate just outside the bar in a giant cancer causing cloud of second hand smoke. Lovely. Despite the horrible smell and air quality, they did add some comic relief to the run. Afterwards, Jennie and I compared notes on the funny things we heard:
“There’s a legitimate amount of people out running tonight.”
“You guys rock. Truly. I only run when being chased.”
“I can’t believe you people just run for fun.”
“It’s 11/12 now. You can stop running.” (shortly after midnight)
“Don’t mind us. We’re just stumbling from bar to bar.”
Besides the “cheering section” at the bar, there was a bunch of groups of other people out cheering as well as the volunteers shouting words of encouragement. The course wasn’t closed and there were 6 street crossings with each loop. However, there was hardly any traffic and with the help of volunteers at the corners, I only had to come to a complete stop a couple of times. All of the street crossings had the newer “Don’t Walk” signs that give you a countdown until the light is going to turn red. They made for good motivation to pick it up a bit to make it through on green.
There was one group of girls sitting on a bench covered in blankets that were the loudest. They cheered for me on each lap, “There goes that fast guy again! Go fast guy!” The group started with 3 girls, but grew to about 8 as some of the runners finished up after doing a few laps. Like I said, super casual event and I would guess that only about half of the participants did all 11 miles, so the cheering sections grew as runners finished up.
I managed to pretty much hold even splits the entire race.
My 7 mile split was a little slower because I had some stomach issues and had to burp a few times to clear out the system. On mile 10, I slowed down a bit as I passed a guy with an M-Dot tattoo on his calf. I chatted with him a bit. Turned out he is a 7 time Ironman. I told him about my IMWI and the problems I had with the nutrition on the bike course. He said that he has heard from at least a dozen other people who had problems with the on-course Perform. Moral of the story – do NOT rely on the on-course/premixed Powerbar Perform. Other than that, I felt great each mile and probably could have pushed it harder.
Jennie has been fighting some issues with her foot so she did an 11K run instead of 11 miles (read about it here). That meant that she was able to snap some pictures of me as I finished up.
In the end, I finished up 11.55 miles in 1:21:03 for a huge confidence boost. While I would have to run another 15 miles at the same pace to BQ, I was still fresh at the end of this run and probably had at least 5 or 6 miles at the same pace in me.
We headed back to the building where registration was and they had a stack of Little Caesars pizzas waiting to be devoured. We were actually surprised by the amount and quality of food they had for such a cheap race. We’d definitely do this race again, but if they are going to stick with the 11/11/11 name, we’ll have to wait another 100 years.
Finally, in case this post was too boring, maybe this will make it better: