Sunday, July 29, 2012

Running with Bears and Conquering the Dunes, Part I

We are back in NYC from vacation. Just got in this evening and we’re currently trying to ignore the fact that we have to go back to work tomorrow morning. We had such a great week in Michigan and I was not ready for it to end.

Let’s see…where did I leave off?

Tuesday was a big day for us. By far the most activity we did in one day. We woke up bright and early at 6am, had a light breakfast and packed up the car. I was a ball of nerves and anxiousness. I get like this before every race I enter, and this time the fact that we had to drive more than an hour to the race made it a little worse. What if there was a detour we didn’t know about that takes us far out of our way? Or we got stuck behind a tractor that we couldn’t get around? These are very real problems in this part of Michigan. Thankfully, neither of these things happened and we made it to Glen Arbor in plenty of time.

The race was the Running Bear Run 5K (run/walk). All proceeds for this race, which is organized by the local women’s club, go towards scholarships for local high school students and other town projects like the community garden. It was really easy to find a parking spot and registration to pick-up our numbers. Pretty much the entire town came out for this event, along with others like us from around the area. A mix of families who walked the out and back course together and serious runners. We fell somewhere in the middle.


Unfortunately there was no bag check, apparently in the 6 years they’ve had this race, I was the first to ask about one. Maybe everyone just leaves their things at home! Thankfully the car was only a block away and I had plenty of time to take the camera and other oddities back to the car. I missed a picture with the running bear though. He had a great headband and is apparently joining the Army soon so they’ll have a new bear for next year’s race.

We stretched on the lawn of one of the local churches as everyone gathered and chatted with family and friends. Two local musicians were introduced to sing the national anthem and everyone lined up at the start line – a banner over the street, a blue chalk line drawn across the road and a guy in an Uncle Sam hat on a ladder. Woody and I made our way close to the start line so we wouldn’t get caught behind the walkers and after a brief description of the course – Run to the next corner, not this one right here, but the next one, then stay to the right of the cone and turn left, you’ll see where to go, then take the road all the way to the turnaround and come back – and we were off.

The music along the way was an interesting mix. Of course, this was the local women’s group hosting the event, so music at the first turn was religious music, then as I passed by the next group of volunteers playing music the U of M fight song was starting, thankfully to balance this, the MSU fight song was finishing up as I made the turn around and then more religious music at the last turn back to the finish. Not really the kind of music that gets you pumped up to run, but this is small town America! The course was actually a little boring. Given all the beautiful scenery in the area, both Woody and I were surprised that the course just took us past some homes along a street lined by tall trees. We were hoping for views of the lake, but we understand it was easiest to shut down this street rather than the main ones, plus, an out and back course is less volunteer intensive and easier to measure, so we get it. Aside from a small hill at the start and a few tiny rolling hills, the course was basically flat. I tried to stay towards the center of the road, where it was less slanted, but had to jostle around some people as I passed them. While I did pass some people, I was also passed by at least four runners pushing strollers! I contend though, that parents who often run with strollers are super human and are stronger than many ‘normal’ runners. We saw the lead man pass by as he headed to the finish, I think his time was around 17 minutes. The first woman to cross the finish line was a teenager and I think she was in the top 10 finishers overall.

When I got to the turn for the home stretch I picked up my pace a little, which was pretty solid the whole way, but I misjudged exactly where the finish line was and didn’t pick up my speed soon enough. I came in at 27:03 by my watch (this was not chip timed) but could have easily come in under 27 if I had picked up my pace earlier. Oh well, I’m really happy with my race over all. While I still struggled with my breathing because of my sinus issues, I do think that running in fresh air, as opposed to the smoggy air of NYC helped a bit. My ENT said I’ll never breathe like I did before I had my surgery, but I started taking Nasonex which helped and the fresh air was a good mix and I did feel better running than I have for a long time. Definitely a great feeling.

After I crossed the finish line I went through the mister (an older gentleman with a garden hose) then met up with Woody, who finished almost 5 minutes before me. We stretched and found our way to the amazingly bountiful tables covered with fresh fruit, bagels, and homemade muffins, cookies and brownies. Seriously amazing spread. We stuck around for the raffle drawing but weren’t any of the lucky 84 people who won prizes donated by local merchants. Still, it was fun to experience the small town fun. Afterwards we stopped by the weekly Farmers Market. It was great to see so many local farmers and people picking up fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, jewelry and soaps.


I started writing this post and it became much to long to put in just one post, so I’ve split it into two. I’ll post the second part soon! Stay tuned.

  • Do you prefer out and back courses or loops when you race?
  • Are you one of the runners who passes me while running with a stroller?
  • What’s your favorite thing to pick up at a Farmers Market?
  • How was your weekend?

1 comment:

mego@watchmegorun said...

looks like it was a fun time! I usually like point to point races, but out and back is okay by me too. I love the farmers market! I just got a ton of stuff on saturday: two things of green beans, red skin potatoes, grapes, avocados, and green peppers! Glad you have a fun vacation :)