I’ve had my eye on the Lake Michigan Marathon for a few years, but it has fallen on the same weekend as the No Frills event in Minoqua. When I realized that the events were on separate weekends in 2016 I was thrilled! This event fit perfect in my schedule to prepare for the Fall 50 in October. Doing my research I found this to be a unique course. The tag line describes it as an urban marathon…part road, part trail. Something very different than I have ever run before. My good friend Katie was also training for the Fall 50 so she too registered for the event.
The morning of the event Katie and I headed down to Milwaukee. The trip was uneventful (which is awesome when heading to a race). We found it easy to snag a parking spot and quickly get to the packet pick up area. The staging area for runners was set up awesome. Lots of volunteers to help guide runners and lots of port-a-potties. Katie and I connected with Jen, a fellow Oiselle team member who was running the 20 mile event. We all pinned our bibs on and then headed across the park to set up at the dear drop area.
This was a laid back event. The gear drop was a large tarp stationed next to the start line and mid-race aid station. We organized our stuff on the edge of the tarp and headed to the start line. The announcer took a few minutes at the start of the event to fill the runners in on last minute details and before we knew it the gun had gone off and we were on our way.
The humidity was not terrible to start, but as the sun came out things changed quickly. It was apparent that the day would be interesting and a warm one. I am a sweaty beast and made a plan early in the race to change my shirt half way through to prevent chaffing. If my feet were drenched I had extra shoes, but I wanted to make this a last resort change to keep my aid station time to a minimum.
The 1st loop took use through several parks along Lake Michigan. The course was paved at this point and relatively flat. The views were amazing and continued to “wow” as we moved to the wooded trail portion. I grew up hiking these paths with my dad and sister when I was young. To be back running them as an adult was very emotional. I have not been back to this area since my Grandma Lorraine passed away this past May. I took a minute at the 7 bridges entry to reflect on how much I missed her and then moved on. I have carried a picture of her with me for every race since she passed…she is my guardian angel with a wicked sense of humor. I’m convinced that the hail and Ice Age was her way of reminding me that things could be far worse than they were and to keep going. I had connected with a Texas Oiselle bird who flew in to run a 20 mile training run in preparation for a fall marathon. Melissa was a breath of fresh air and a blast to run with. While we were on our 1st loop the 1/2 marathon runners had started and we were able to see them on their way out as we were coming back off of the wooded portion of the course. Nothing quite pumps you up like high fives from your teammates. (Melissa rocked out her 20 mile training run and later went on to kick butt at her marathon.)
Upon starting the 2nd loop I connected with a runner who was working on her 1st marathon. She was struggling and very out of it. My mom instincts kicked in and I slowed up to walk with her. She had not been eating and was very light headed. Her determination to continue was amazing, but her body was saying otherwise. We talked and walked for a bit. When we arrived at the aid station she grabbed some water and a gel. In all honesty I could not leave her, I was not convinced she was going to stay upright. Through my own running experience I have been in this same position and have been able to come back from this low if I can get food into my system. Within a few minutes of leaving out the aid station she began to feel better. We walked/ran for a mile before heading into the wooded trail section. The tree cover made for cooler temperatures and reprieve from the sun. This combo made a huge difference in pulling her out of the danger zone and before I knew it she was back on track. We chit chatted a little more and I sent her on her way when we entered in the split area.
The last loop took us out towards the residential area of South Milwaukee, but we remained on the park paved paths. This was a challenging hilly loop, especially on torn up tired legs. I ran into Katie as she was headed towards the start. She looked strong and in control! This was her 1st 50k and she was rocking it. I on the other hand looked like a mess. I had changed my shirt at the split, but man it was hot and I did not stay dry for long. The path did not have tree cover and the sun beat on us from every angle. The volunteers at the aid stations were awesome and did a great job of taking care of runners.
As I came into the finish I was greeted by my name being announced and lots of people cheering me on. The beauty of a race that loops is that the staging areas are packed with people to help pump you up with the transitions (loops) and the finish. I grabbed my medal and headed to the results table. I was pleased to find out I had placed 3rd in my AG. That never happens!
This race meant a lot to me. I had been battling injury all summer and questioned my ability to complete the Fall 50. I had gone into this event with an open mind about whether registering for a 50 miler would happen this year. If I DNF’d I would put off the goal of the Fall 50 and focus on other races still on my calendar. I was beyond happy to have pulled through and have my body hold up. I needed this confidence booster and my training ramped up in September. Upward and onward!!!
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive
Date – Sept 4, 2016
Finish Time – 5:53
Gear Used –
- Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP1 –My go-to hydration vest.
- FitSok F4 Tech Socks – With temps predicted to be high and humid I went with the no-show low version. My feet stayed dry, cool, and blister free even though it was HOT!
- Tailwind Nutrition – I filled my bottle 3 scoops of Tropical Buzz (caffeine) with 24 oz of water. I was able to refill my bottle with water easily at aid stations and mix up more Tailwind throughout the day.
- Oiselle – Black Distance shorts, Wazelle short sleeve shirts (I changed half way through the race), and team singlet.
- Run Gum – I popped this in about 30 minutes into my drive and found that the kick was just what I needed to start the race.
- Trail Toes Cream – Only blister fighter I use. I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots. I also used it along my shorts waist band to prevent chaffing…works like a charm and is not just for your feet. I used the cream on my legs to half way through the race when I began to chafe. Worked awesome.
- Salt Stick Caps – At mile 3 popped 2 tablets when I started to feel my legs cramp up a bit and then again every hour. It was super humid and I was sweating like a beast.
- Altra One 2.5 – I have switched to a zero drop shoe to combat my SI joint inflammation. I love the wide toe box and lightness of these shoes. They proved today they can handle the distance.