Race Report: Mackinac Island Trail 1/2 Marathon

This was my third time running this course. The first was my first ever 1/2 marathon in 1997. The second with Tim "sightseeing". The third time both Tim and I landed third place in our age groups.

If I had to describe my performance in just a few words (you would all be relieved...) I would say I raced with reckless abandonment and it was really, really, fun. I was chasing a few things. I wanted to break into the 1:30's this season. Meaning 1:39:59. I also knew despite there being some crazy fast runners in Michigan, the field isn't nearly as deep as racing in Southern California. I thought I had a shot at finishing well in my age and overall and I wanted to make the most of it.

This race was so fun. After taking the ferry to Mackinac Island, we walked a mile or so to Mission Point resort. We did this comfortably thanks to umbrellas and winter jackets over our racing kits. My racing kit that day consisted of a hat, thin gloves, arm warmers, shortsleeve shirt, a waterproof cycling jacket, and tights. We had over an hour once we got to the start. Luckily, Mission Point Resort had a wonderful conference room we could stretch and stay warm. Tim and I really weren't interested in running outside to "warm up". So we did what any smart athlete would do and walked down stairs to the fitness room and hopped on the treadmills. I can't believe none of the other racers thought of this. Now this resort supports its racers, I thought. Coincidentally, I saw the treadmill unplugged and outside after the race. Hmm, maybe we started something.

We headed out to the race start and standing in the huddle of people I managed to stay somewhat warm. There were no corrals and I ended up near the front. I ended up going out a little bit fast. Oops, but whatever. It's not like I was going out to fast in an event that lasts all day! The first and last 2 miles of the course were the only flat miles on the course. They paralleled the shoreline and were very windy. I knew I needed to move it on those miles as they were flat and on pavement, unlike the rest of the course.
I got sandwiched in a pack of guys running 10sec/mile too fast for me. However, when I would back off 10 seconds/mile my pace would quickly fall to 20 sec/mile slower as I lost the draft. I ended up just hoofing it a little bit during the first two miles. At mile 2 the course turned and headed through the woods on trails. It was an undulating up. Short steep up and downs and I tried not to off myself in the process. At mile 5, I launched an attack on something. I am not sure what. My mind played a trick on me and told me to run really fast. I should get my work done here because it would be flat for the next 3 miles then downhill. I hummed "Just Dance" by Lady Ga Ga and ran to its beat. It was all I could do not to let my head bop.
I thought maybe I still can beat my Carlsbad time. It turned out I had forgotten that the course continue to roll like a roller coaster for those miles. I charged up and down the hills like mad. I sort of ran out of steam around miles 9. The landlord came to collect the rent and I was forced to pay up.

I told myself to keep charging. The next two miles were downhill and would be easy. Hardy har har! Running down steep terrain on a wet trail takes a lot of energy. Maybe I should have respected that when I was executing my "techno" running. It was so much fun though.
I told myself to keep charging anyway as I'd be done shortly. I told myself it would be easy street at mile 11, when I hit the pavement. It would have been easy at mile 11 if I knocked over a tourist and stole their bike. I knew I wasn't going to break 1:40, but I understood the courses were very different. Actually, I was o.k. with it if I ran my Carlsbad average pace for the last two miles. It was a dig getting through the wind on pace but I did it.

I was 2 1/2 minutes off my PR and so was Tim. People say the course is usually three minutes slower than average 1/2 marathon course. By using Jenny Math, math that always favors me, I come out 1/2 minute ahead. Yippee.
After collecting our awards winner plaques we headed to the boat dock. On the way to the dock we congratulated ourselves for being fast. Ironically, we weren't fast enough to make the boat. It literally pulled away as we walked down the dock. Guess we aren't speed demons after all. We had an hour wait before the next boat. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal but look what was waiting for us at home!
Victory Dessert.

Courtesy of Mom, although my Dad likes to pretend he made it. He probably did pick the apples in the pie though. Sparky runs all the time and all he gets is a cup of kibble so Tim and I must be kind of a big deal. When we visit the U.P. we have it good!


Anonymous said...

We really miss you guys around here; I just can't imagine where you have run off to.

beth said...

great job channeling lady Gaga for some speed.

tim said...

what a beautiful location for a race! you have always talked about going back and doing this race, and we finally did it!

Shan said...

Nice work, Jen!! Nice tune-up for IMAZ in a few weeks - YEAH! I hope you have a fabulous race out there :).

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