Monday, May 28, 2012

Race Report: Bayshore Marathon 2012

ORN:  26.2 miles, 4:40:16, R/W 3/1 thru 10, then 4/1,  10:42/mile

Quick Summary

The Bayshore Marathon has most scenic marathon course I've ever none.  26 miles of Lake Michigan, friendly spectators and wonderful fellow runners on what turned out to be a perfect spring day to run.  A negative split by almost 4 minutes, even splits and a new experiment in pacing all made this a terrific race.

Gory Details and Pix

The Bayshore Marathon is a very popular race in Traverse City, Michigan, a resort town in the NW corner of Michigan's lower peninsula.  Runners World called it a top 10 destination race and I can see why.  I've been trying to get into it for three years and finally figured out this year I needed to register the day it opened.

Fellow club member Cory and I made the seven-hour trek on Friday and had plenty of time to drive the course when we arrived. was all I had hoped for.  During the drive I stashed bananas and some trail mix at miles 15 and 19 of the out and back course.  We picked up our packets, grabbed a light supper and sacked out.

The weather in much of the Midwest for race day was very warm.  Fortunately, we were far enough north to avoid the worst of it.  Temps were in the mid 50s at daybreak, cool enough for me to wear cotton gloves for the first 8 miles.

Cory had arranged a hotel just a quarter mile from the start line.  We were out the door at 6:15 and jogged over to the start line.  The jog was telling for Cory, though.  He had tripped and fallen while coaching his daughter's soccer team on the Thursday before the race and deeply bruised his tailbone.  It hurt and he was hoping it would ease up enough to let him run.  A 3:09 marathoner, Cory was antsy to run.  He said he would have to make a race-time decision.

We lined up and I couldn't resist getting a photo with a sign I never get near.

From Running-General

I lost track of Cory as I joined the crowd around the 11 minute start sign.  The gun went off right at 7:00am and we shuffled away, another marathon started.  But, about a quarter mile in, Cory caught me from behind, looking sad.  He decided there was no way he could go 26 this day, his tailbone hurt that badly.  It was a tough call but he had to make it.  We agreed we'd just meet up back at the hotel after I finished.  I really felt bad for him...a competitive and quality person, I knew it was disappointing for him.

My race day really is captured in three areas---the course, the people and the times.

The course is just fantastic.  A marathon is 26 miles long and, of necessity, most courses go through some less-than-lovely stretches.  But not this one.  The first mile wound through a college campus with graceful shaded streets.  Then we ran on three roads alongside Lake Michigan.  Beautiful lake houses lined these roads. Lots of the residents set up in lawn chairs.  Most had cowbells.  And more cowbells.

From Running-General

And the course just never quit.   There were no ugly portions.  The lake was beautiful.  The houses were terrific.  The people were fun.  The cowbells were plentiful.  The music was loud and fun.  It seemed before we knew it, we were near the turnaround.

I'm glad this course was out and back.  No way you want to loop when you have 13 miles that are this beautiful.

From Running-General

The evening before, I had stashed two bananas and a bit of trail mix in two places; under a pile of leaves near a culvert at Blue Water Road (mile 15) and behind a stone wall at mile 19, where we turned onto Center Road.  Both were perfectly ready for me on the return trip.  And yummy.  

From Running-General

The conversations I had with people during the race were just awesome.  I'm not sure I'll even get them all, but here are a few:
  • Brian, my local running pal with whom I ran the HUFF 50K, was there running as a coach for Team in Training.  We had nice chats before and after the race.
  • Larry Macon, the world record holder for marathons run in a calendar year, entered and I ran mile 3 with Larry.  He ran the Circular Logic Marathon here in March, remembered that race and we had a fun chat.  I asked him if he was on pace to beat his world record this year.  He said he was but didn't know if he'd keep the pace.  I suspect that means he will!
  • From Running-General
  • "Mad Dog".  Fellow Maniac Mark was out there and spotted me first at registration.  Mark ran Circular Logic as well and we see each other several times each year.  He's an animal and knocked off a 4:22 marathon.  
  • From Running-General
  • The Kalamazoo Crew.  I spent a lot of time leapfrogging a group of seven women from 'zoo who had trained together and were running their first marathon.  They were fun and had lots of questions.  They succeeded, too. 
  • Ron and Cathy were a couple from central Michigan with whom I ran a couple of miles, marveling together at the beauty of the course and reflecting together on the privilege of even being able to get out of bed each day.  
  • Don is a computer dude from near Detroit who quit smoking two years ago restructured a big portion of his life and was also taking on his first marathon.  His foot was hurting him, so he joined in my run/walk sequence for about 3 miles.  He was a cool guy.  
  • From Running-General
And then there was Kimberly.  

From Running-General
Just past mile 19, she asked if she could join in my 4/1 run/walk sequence and we ended up running together all the way to the finish line.  It was her first marathon as well and we talked a lot about running, as you might imagine.  She felt tired and wondered aloud if she was hitting The Wall she had heard so much about.  As we chatted, I assured her the fact she was lucidly inquiring as to the vicissitudes of mental acuity at this stage of extended exercise assuaged any concern about the Wall which reduces your mental abilities to something only slightly above a Lake Michigan brown trout.   She really handled the final miles well, despite the fatigue.  The 4/1 run/walk ratio seemed to work well for her.  Our conversation expanded to interesting elements of her job, why electrolytes are important, the aforementioned cowbells, Bill Cosby's famous "We're Gonna Eat Ice Cream", the deeper meaning behind classic rock lyrics and why engineers are so geeky.  It was a ton of fun and sure helped those last miles go well.

Which leads to the numbers.  

This race was Part A of a two-part experiment to see if I can enjoy marathons only 14 days apart.  Part B will be a trail marathon in southern Indiana on June 9, the Indian/Celina Challenge.  So I decided to run Bayshore with an easier strategy I'd never tried before.  I ran a 3/1 run/walk sequence through mile 10, then shifted to a 4/1 for the rest of the way.  Boy, did those early miles feel easy.  And I was able to hold the 4/1 to the end, doing the last 7 along with Kimberly.  

It was only when I got home and could analyze the mile splits from my Garmin that I realized just what had happened.  In none of my previous 27 marathons have I had  such consistency of pace.  Every Single Mile of my race had a time between 10 and 11 minutes.  The slowest were miles 2 and 3, at 10:59.  The pack was slow at 2 and I was talking to Larry Macon for most of 3.  My average over the first 10 miles was around 10:48 per mile.  When I switched to the 4/1, the splits quickened a bit to around 10:35 on average.  

As we neared the end of the race, the pace improved. We passed many people and were passed by none.   Miles 23, 24 and 25 clocked through at 10:42, 10:30 and 10:27, respectively.  Just before the mile 25 sign, Kimberly looked at me and said "Do you think we can run all the way in?"  I said I was game but she made sure I turned off my timer. "I don't want to think about any walk break I might be missing!" she said with a verbal quickness further demonstrating she had not hit The Wall.  And off we took, passing even more people, enjoying the encouragement of all the people lining the route, motivated by even more cowbells.   In so doing, we logged the fastest full mile of the my day, doing Mile 26 in 10:04.  We just kept barreling along doing the last partial mile to the finish line at an 8:30 pace.  

My final time was 4:40:16.  I hit the 13.1 mile turnaround in 2:22:04, which meant my second half of the marathon took 2:18:12, a negative split by almost 4 minutes. Astounding.  Marathon #28, in the books.  

From Running-General
Post race was fun.  Gotta love the icy cold chocolate milk and fresh ice cream.  The race medal was terrific and the race T shirt fit and felt better than the vast majority of race shirts.  A quick shower, back in the car, recapping the race with Cory and home again.  My legs feel great, two days later.  

This is a terrific race...I recommend it and had a terrific time.  Thanks for staying with me for a long race report!!




Chris said...

Great job.

Darrell said...

Well done, Joe. There never are any strangers with you in a marathon. You are quite the ambassador.

Chocolate milk at the finish line is great. They handed it out last weekend in CLE. My family thought I was crazy to drink it but it tasted so good. The perfect post-race drink; so they say.

kimberlyroddy said...

It was SUCH a pleasure meeting you, Joe! You absolutely made the race for me... See you again!!!

Sister Sassy said...

I LOVE that you hid a banana! I did the 10K race and loved it (though I was suuuper slow) I hope to someday run the half. Maybe next year.

Anita said...

I had a guy comment on my recap of bayshore and that is how I found you!! Great recap of bayshore!! This was my first time running it also and I am from Michigan!!!
I was cracking up that u hid food!! Great idea!!!
I spoke to 2 people and it ended up being a total GOD thing!! Great job on your marathon!!!

Sarah said...

Nice negative split! Sounds like a fun time too!

Nigel said...

Hi Joe

I am so glad you are still enjoying the Marathon. 27! You may remember I live in Brisbane Australia so I am always curious about the places you are running.

I ran the Gold Coast Marathon yesterday. I have had two other marathons but they were torturous ( cramps etc) I had sent you an email and followed your blog this definitely played a part in how I ran yesterday. It felt great. It was definetly a challenge but I finished smiling and injury free!