There were a couple of teams that surely would have beat us that dropped out in the weeks leading up to the race so we started thinking that we had a chance again. This hope was quickly snuffed out when we found out our friends Mike and Michelle had teamed up too. Damn the luck haha. They're fast, Mike is relatively new to running distances but he's been a quick learner and made up for lost time. Michelle is also fast, having run something crazy like a 3:05 marathon a couple years ago.
Like I said we're all friends and run together as part of a group every weekend and sometimes during the week too, so it was all in friendly competition. The race started at 8:30 and the weather was pretty much perfect. It had rained a bit the night before and this helped cool things off, which was good since it had been in the 80's most of the week.
The girls both ran the first leg and Mike and I anchored.The trail is pretty much a straight shot from Kalamazoo to South Haven, following an old rail road bed so there are plenty of street crossings from which to cheer people on. I drove to a crossing near the 4 mile mark and the girls were about neck and neck and from what I learned later they were in second and third place for our division. At the 7 mile mark Michelle had begun to open up a gap of twenty to thirty meters but Christen was still looking strong.
|My leg of the race|
Mike and I headed to the exchange point 17.6 miles from the start and began to get ready and chatted with friends while cheering on the ultra runners that were coming through the half way point. (they started a half hour earlier than the relay) While getting ready I noticed my buddy Timis wasn't there yet and I knew he was also supposed to be running the second leg so I called to find out where he was. He was still on his way there because the yahoo decided to race a 5k that morning first and then do his leg of the relay. I guess it was a good idea because he won that race and got a free pair of shoes and 50$ gift certificate to the local running store for his efforts, along with a badass trophy. Not a bad way to start the day!
We stood near the exchange point waiting for our partners and keeping an eye out for other coed teams so we'd know who we had to catch. Luckily we only saw one guy tag a girl, not so lucky was that easily three minutes went by before we saw Michelle. Mike and I were talking before the race and we both agreed we didn't care who won between both of our teams, but we weren't going to let somebody else sneak in and take it! haha He took off and I stood there waiting. and waiting. A couple more coed teams came through and about five minutes after Mike took off I got the tag from Christen and was off like a rocket. I want to make sure you know that I'm totally proud of how Christen did! She pushed herself harder than she had to and ran an outstanding race! My work though was cut out for me.
I quickly picked off a couple of the teams I had seen go through ahead of us and I was feeling strong. I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to keep up my high 6:30's pace I had started off with but I knew that if I wanted to catch Mike I had to try. Around the seven miles in I realized....wait hold on....warning....I'm gonna talk about shittin in the woods briefly so you may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don't want to read about poopin! Okay around seven miles, close to eight I realized the one thing I fear for every race was happening. I had to drop a deuce! I attempted to go before the race but nothing was doin so I figured I'd be okay. I was wrong. There are bathrooms along the trail every couple of miles but I'd never been this far on the trail before and didn't know how far it would be til the next one. I held out as long as I could hoping maybe it was just gas, but alas I decided better out than in haha. I realized I was catching someone else and I didn't want to pass him and then duck off into the woods and since there was no one in sight behind me, and trust me the trail is soooo straight that you can see almost half a mile, I decided it was now or never. Before this moment I'd never dropped one during a race in the woods. It was kind of a rush but I wasn't too excited to be in the postion and wanted it to be over as quick as possible. I also had no tp. shit. Luckily the leaves I choose apparently weren't poison ivy or something similair haha, that would have SUCKED!
Okay poo talk over. Feeling much lighter, I kept trucking along and right about ten miles in I caught the girl who at the exchange point was in first place. Now all that was left was Mike. Well that and not blowing up and slowing down and getting passed by everyone and their brother. When I crossed the half marathon mark I looked down to see my watch read 1:28:08 which would be an unofficial PR of almost five minutes! This made me happy and excited for the upcoming race season. There were still three miles to go in this race though. I was starting to struggle to maintain that quick pace that I started with. The pig farm that stunk up a quarter mile of the trail didn't help either.
About three or four miles in I could see a guy ahead of me with a bright green shirt on that I thought could have been mike but he was a half mile away and I wasn't closing the gap at all. with two miles to go I saw my partner and a couple other friends at the final water stop, I shouted to find out how far ahead Mike was and Christens response was a slow and uninspiring "ummm he's a ways" haha damn.
I finally reached the finish in 1:49:00 (avg pace 6:46) and our team time was 4:01:52 (avg pace 7:13). Mike and Michelle had beaten us by about five minutes. This means my minute in the woods didn't cost us the win haha. It was a great day and we finished second in our division and if we had to take second I was glad it was to them and not someone else.
|Last turn before the finish|
|Christen, Michelle, Myself, and Mike after the race|
|Can you tell I made a pit stop during mile 8?|
After the race a group of us met at a friends condo by Lake Michigan and showered. Well some of the crazies that ran the ultra marathon decided to jump in the freezing cold waters of the lake instead. We went out for dinner at a place called Su Casa that had delicious burrito's and even better margaritas!
I forgot to mention that Friday night I decided to shave my beard off because I thought it might be a little too hot for a beard. Do you know what it wouldn't be too hot for though? That's right a fu manchu! Oddly enough I wasn't the only one of our friends to trim their beard into a rockin stache for the race! It was great, there was a debate on wheter it was more of a 70's porn star look or a Super Troopers look. Apparently though no matter how big I smiled people still thought it made me look angry so I sadly shaved off the flavor saver. I'm just kidding, there was no way I was keeping that thing for more than a day. I think by law if you have a mustache like that for any reason other than to be funny then you have to drive a van that says free candy on the side with blacked out windows....too much? Oh well. I laughed, if you didn't too bad. :-)
I hope you all had great weekends too, I'm so proud of all of my friends who competed yesterday. There were many PRs, and a lot were running their first Ultra marathons. My friend Nicole won the female Ultra race and broke the course record by half an hour! Jonathon finished fourth overall in the ultra with a blistering time of 3:51! that's faster than two of my marathons! haha Leslie won the female masters ultra and like I mentioned the EPIC Crew took first and seond in the coed relay too. We've got some talented runners in Kalamazoo, and even better than that, they're all great people too, so again I'm feel lucky and blessed to be a part of this community!