ORN: 18.7 miles, R/W 4/1, 3:19:53, 10:42/mile
What a fun, unusual, well-run event, just west of Detroit. On hard-packed dirt roads under a full canopy of leaves, the cool weather allowed for a visually and physically pleasant shakedown of my fall marathon plans.
The Gory Details
The Labor Day 30K bills itself as an excellent training event for fall marathons and that it is. Most of the runners I talked with were using it as such.
My own objective for the day was a) to simply have a race and b) to shakedown a new approach to long races, following less-than-satisfying performances in two marathons last spring. Both objectives happened, in spades.
A bonus for the event was some extended time with my Mother-in-law! No, she didn't run but logistics worked out for me to drive her to spend the night with my sister-in-law and family who live in Michigan, on the way to the race site. With all the jokes and chuckles about MIL's, I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with Sue. I truly enjoyed the 9 hours in the car with her up and back. We covered the waterfront several times and even enjoyed a complete Cub-Mets broadcast on the drive home Saturday.
The race was in and around the little down of Milford, Michigan. Easily 3/4 of the miles looked just like this; it was a very satisfying and enjoyable visual surrounding. The other miles were through the village. All in all, the course was well done and accurately measured. It was steadily rolling as well...lots of ups and downs. This is helpful for me, the flatlander, as hills are so hard to come by here in north-central Indiana farm country.
The race started right on time, a fact I always appreciate. About 600 of us trundled off on the unusual 30K distance. The weather turned unusually cool the night before the race, with temps in the low 50s at the start and never getting much beyond 60. The wind added quite a chill, being 20-30mph all day. Fortunately, the heavy tree cover tended to break up the breeze, so it wasn't a huge factor. Clothing-wise, I found this to be the perfect day for cut-off tube socks on the arms.
My main objective for the race was to test the new strategy, combining the Run/Walk pattern of Galloway with the effort-control provided by using a heart rate monitor. I'll write about the plan in a separate post. I was pleased with how it went.
The really great part of this race was there is nothing remarkable to report! The run was, simply, a most enjoyable jaunt through wooded lanes of Michigan. I had some very nice conversations with folks along the way. Mostly though, I simply marveled at the scenery, so very, very different than what I run in all the time and a far cry from the urban setting I'll run in Chicago in five weeks.
After the eight-mile mark, the miles really started to seem to click by. That's a day when you know it is going well. I kept the 4/1 run/walk sequence and it held up well. I even skipped several of the walk breaks around mile 7-9, as I was in a fascinating discussion with a fellow runner. The legs barked at me a bit around mile 15 on one of the hills but that didn't last long. As I passed the 17 mile marker, I felt strong and picked up the pace. We turned back to the finish line just after the 18 mile mark and I opened it up and ran the last 0.7 at an 8:15 pace. I felt strong at the end, satisfied with a good run.
I had forgotten just how much I enjoy "Race Day". The atmosphere, the energy, the challenge, the need to think on your feet to changing circumstances, the ebbs and flows; all so enjoyable. This race had all of them and ended well.
Five weeks remain till Chicago. I'll do another 22 mile training run in two weeks, then a 10K race the week after that; those two runs should finish off the training. And, if Chicago goes well, some other plans for the rest of the fall may unfold nicely.
A good run, a good trip, a good long weekend. I'm grateful.