After a five-hour drive from Indianapolis, I arrived in Sterling Heights, MI, north of Detroit. I took a long shower, ate a good meal and went to bed early.
We were changing to daylight saving time and I needed to sleep as long as possible: I was to run only a few hours later and did not have time to recover from the marathon in Indianapolis the day before. I had a good night’s sleep waking up at 6:30 when the alarm clock went off. I took three packets of Immun’Âge® (a ritual I never forgo before and after each marathon) and got ready. I put on the same outfit that morning as yesterday as the weather was cold but should get warmer fast as the sun was shining.
I drove twenty minutes to the start in beautiful Stony Creek Metropark in Utica. I drank some vitamin-enriched chocolate milk and ate a cereal bar underway. The park entrance was free for marathon runners that day. After I got my runner’s pack and my bib, I went back to my car to stay warm until the start of the marathon. I left my car at 8:20 and met with my friends Jeff and Rose. We took a few pictures together before going to the starting line. After the race director’s short briefing, the gun went off at 8:30.
It was a small race with approximately a hundred runners (all distances considered). We started with an out and back section on a bike path and a road closed to the public where police officers watched the crossing. The countryside surrounding us was quiet and peaceful. The colors of the trees were magnificent. We saw deer and squirrels on the roadside. The course had a few small rollers that were messing with my legs – an aftermath of Indianapolis marathon the day before. The scenery, however, was magnificent. I reached km 5 in 30 minutes.
My pace was good but would slow down in the next kilometers as I did not want to overdo it. I enjoyed the scenery. We wound our way back to the start and ran a first loop around the lake. I reached km 10 in 1:01. We ran on a bike path until the end of the race that was open to cyclists but extremely well marked. Bicyclists were asked to watch out for runners and share the path with them. Everything went well as there was enough space for everyone. The course was beautiful but quite rolling as the loop around the lake was not flat.
I reached km 15 in 1:34. I took the time for a few beautiful pictures of the trees. Their magnificent colors offered striking contrasts. We wound our way back to the start for a second loop around the lake. I reached km 20 in 2:09 and the half-marathon in 2:17. It was really more that OK for me that day, but my legs started to stiffen and, understandably, my pace slowed down a bit as the race went on. I reached km 25 in 2:45.
There was not too much ambiance; the young volunteers at the aid station, however, were encouraging us and runners encouraged each other too. I ran into the future winner of the marathon who happened to be a woman. I congratulated her. She performed very well. The first male runner – second in the race – was way behind her. Kudos to her! I finished this second loop at a slow pace reaching km 30 in 3:23.
At km 32, I got something to eat and turned around for the third loop – run in the other direction – until the finish line. I started passing runners and saw Rose and Jeff who too were taking their time. I took some more pictures while keeping track of the time and keeping my pace as I had to finish in less than five hours. I reached km 35 in 4:02 and kept a regular pace until the end. I reached km 40 in 4:39 and finished the actual marathon distance in 4:55:32. A last uphill and I crossed the finish line five hundred meters farther in 4:58.
They gave me a finisher’s medal and two glasses. I grabbed something to eat. A picture next to the finish line where Rick, the marathon organizer congratulated me. Good timing as I also wanted to congratulate him. His marathon is commendable: a flawless organization, simple but efficient; plenty well-stocked aid stations, a reasonable fee ($74, i.e. one of the cheapest this year); a beautiful medal; a great T-shirt and more gifts at the finish line (two beer glasses and a customized mug). Quite a thrill for any marathon runner! We chatted for a while. I was happy to meet a marathon organizer with a passion for running and not for money, I told him. He had organized a nice run in magnificent countryside without much means. Kudos to him! Keeping track of participants running with their cell phone was also available: you could watch them live on the big screen at the finish area. A lot of good ideas and small ‘extras’ play a part in making this run quite charming.
We talked about other marathons and the fee requested for certain races (‘Mainly Marathons’ especially cost $150). We agreed on the fact that some ask too high of a fee for what they offer. We took a picture together. I promised to talk about his marathon to many people as it is well worth discovering and deserves to be run by more runners. I took my three packets of Immun’Âge® and stretched for a while at the lake shore. The weather was beautiful and I was having a great day!
I will rest for a week before next Sunday for the Gobbler Grind Marathon in Overland Park, KS.
Have a nice week.