The Sole Sisters were at it again – same day, different states and different times.
On Saturday morning, Sue ran the Paavo Nurmi half marathon in Hurley, WI. There is also a full marathon and other shorter races during the weekend. It is a small, very community-oriented race that is listed as the oldest marathon in Wisconsin. Although it is difficult to find a lot of details about it online, it is clear the organizers have this down to a science and you shouldn’t worry.
I spent the evening in a hotel in bordering Ironwood, MI, and made the five minute drive to Hurley at 7:00 am to catch the bus to the starting point. There I met a woman from Boulder, CO, who had spent her childhood summers in the area. We compared racing experiences (she in my hometown and me in hers). Once at the start area in Giles, WI, we walked around and visited a bit with a few other runners. This was by far the friendliest group I have run with in quite some time.
A couple minutes before 8:00, we lined up. The race was chip timed, but had a gun start. With only a little over 100 runners, it really wasn’t an issue. As usual, I placed myself very near the back and immediately smelled the strong odor of cigarette smoke. I turned around and directly behind me were two men wearing half marathon bibs taking their last puffs before taking off. Now there’s something you don’t see every day. And we were off, with little fanfare.
The course was somewhat hilly, but not as bad as I expected or as severe as what I am told the full marathon course is. It was just kind of never-ending. I had set my watch for intervals of 2 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking and that served me well throughout the entire race although I strayed a few times because of the elevation. We ran pretty much exclusively on low-traffic county roads through the countryside with few homes or people. The course was not blocked from traffic, with only orange cones to delineate that the narrow paved shoulder was our terrain. Most drivers were extremely courteous, but there are always those few who are not very interested in sharing their road. This is far from my favorite type of course and I ran on the gravel portion much of the race. Temperatures were cool – around 65 most of the race, but the humidity must have been 100% the entire time. Mist and fog were present most of the time, making it difficult for me to see through my either wet or fogged up glasses. Basically I slowed it down and was vigilant about hydrating. In the end, the same old left leg (hamstring and quad) cramping became an issue, but not as bad as usual. There were ample aid stations with amazing volunteers.
The full marathon had started a half hour earlier 13.1 miles farther up the road and somewhere around my mile 9, the first marathoner blew past me – I think this is one of my favorite parts of running a shared course. It is so uplifting to see.
Less than a mile before the finish, we hit the outskirts of town and shortly turned onto Silver Street (downtown) heading to the finish line. Once done, I stretched the quad out a little, collected a bottle of water, some chocolate milk, passed on the Finnish Stew, and found where they were handing out the medals. I then walked the two short blocks to my car and made it back to the hotel in time to shower and check out before noon. All in all, a good day’s work. I was happy to be back out on the pavement again after a much needed rest. Bring on the fall schedule!
Later that evening, Rhonda ran the Alien Half in Roswell, GA. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from my home. Having never ran in the evening (race start was 7 pm), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I hydrated extra during the day and ate the best I could. My husband, Raul, joined me for this race. Let’s say our ways of preparing are totally different. I had water and a club sandwich, he had a burger with an egg on it plus 2 beers for our late afternoon lunch with dear friends.
The race was part trail and obviously very dark by the time we finished. We had headlamps – another first for me. It is listed as a flat, fast course…..I would beg to differ. Although not super hilly it definitely had over 600 feet of elevation climbing. And the heat! Wowie wow wow. 89 degrees at start! Let’s just say it was BRUTAL! I ran a mile and would then walk one tenth. I stopped at every water station and had 2 cups of either water or Gatorade or both and I even had an extra container of electrolytes with me which I finished. I have never felt so dehydrated or woozy on a course. I slowed my pace way down in the second half. Finishing upright was my goal when I hit the turnaround point. Once I rounded the last curve it was a short dart to the finish line. I got some water and my medal. Found my husband who had only finished about 10 min before me (usually he’s waiting closer to 20 min or more) and we headed to the car. I used my Undress to change out of my sopping wet clothes. (Can I add that I LOVE this dress – life changer for me!!) I was extremely woozy and couldn’t even walk a straight line. We headed for home as we drank electrolytes, water, chocolate milk, and BCAA’s. Stopped at the QT and got a bag of chips for some extra salt. It was definitely a new experience. I am definitely ready for some fall running weather!