This weekend started out with Sue coming from the north and Rhonda and friend Cara coming in from the south, meeting in Dayton, OH for the Air Force Marathon Half. Finally…after four long months…we’d be running together again! We met up at our hotel Friday afternoon. Once we managed to find space for all the suitcases, running gear, food, and miscellaneous items, we made the short trek across the street to the expo location. We picked up our bibs and packets and walked around for about an hour but the only things purchased were a couple energy gels. Then it was back across the street and down a block to enjoy a nice meat lover’s pizza and breadsticks. At that point, we were all pretty tired from the traveling and Sue was still suffering from the head cold she’d picked up somewhere earlier in the week. We got our running stuff organized, strategized for the following day, and hit the pillows early.
The next morning we awoke to the forecasted, but dreaded, sound of thunder. Yep, it was raining. At that point Sue decided it was probably not in the cards for her to ever run a dry race again. – lol We just hoped it would pass quickly and not include lightning so as to cancel the race. At 5:30am the rain had stopped and we headed out the door to go back across the street and catch the shuttle to Wright Patterson AFB where the race is held. But dang if those storms didn’t put a wrench in everything. We were delayed boarding, then sat on a bus for quite some time before everything was clear to proceed. In the end, the races were delayed about half an hour; which wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Due to the size of the race and the added complexities of it being held on an active base, there was already a longer than average pre-race wait. Sole Sisters Rhonda and Sue started complaining about being hungry already, whereas Cara just bided her time.
While mulling around, we were approached by a lady asking about our shirts and connection to ALS. She shared her story of a brother-in-law who lost his battle with the disease and how her family now travels to various locations to participate in ALS walks along with hosting a fundraising breakfast. It is humbling to hear these stories at every single race! After a couple of trips to the port-a-pottys, flyover, national anthem, and parachuters, the starting cannon was finally sounded.
The first several miles were very crowded and it was difficult to keep any kind of pace or use the run/walk strategy. It had cleared up, but with the crowded conditions and the fact it was rather warm and humid, we were feeling pretty beat up early on. Unfortunately not far into the race, Cara started having pain in her feet, requiring her to slow down and walk and stretch more. But that’s okay, it just gave us more time to visit since we knew we’d only be together a few more hours anyway. We walked and talked and ran, and even danced a little, through those 13.1 miles. Somewhere in the last few miles, there was a shift in the weather and the storms started moving in again. We sometimes felt like we were using all our energy just to not be blown backwards by the strong winds. Finally, we rounded the corner to the home stretch and ran in to receive our medals from active duty personnel. Then it was off to the food tent to satisfy those hungry bellies. WHAT?!?! No pizza this year?
It was more than a little confusing finding where the return shuttles were located and once boarded, we sat again for a very long time waiting for it to fill. At this point, we started to get a little bit nervous as we had a checkout time approaching and each needed to get back on the road quickly. It would probably have been quite entertaining to be a fly on the wall watching the whirlwind of showers, dressing, packing, and quick goodbyes…Sue back north to Lansing, MI, and Rhonda and Cara to Morgantown, WV.
Four and a half hours later I (Sue) arrived in downtown Lansing in anticipation of the Capital City River Run on Sunday. I had missed packet pick-up, but knew I could grab my bib and shirt in the morning, so I got settled in to my hotel room just a couple blocks from the race start/finish. After driving post-race, it felt good to get out and walk around and scope out the area where much of the race equipment was already set up. I went back to my room, ate a little, and took on the task of organizing the chaos I had flung together upon my hasty Dayton exit. Rhonda and I texted a little before I laid my head on the pillow and fell into a wonderful all-night sleep.
Since I had restored order to my running life the evening before, the morning routine went smoothly and I soon found myself out the hotel door and walking down the street with several other runners. Bib and shirt pick-up was quick and efficient and I was comfortably waiting for the race to start as I did a few quick warm ups. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. I stuck with my 2:30run/:30walk intervals through the entire race except for the few times the course narrowed too much to make it practical and the miles just slid by. I did have some very mild cramping in my left hamstring and quad, but not enough to stop or even slow me much. The course started out on city streets, then made its way through the campus of Michigan State University before heading down along the River Walk next to the Grand River. It was mostly a scenic park-like course with the exception of the beginning city street area. Runners, volunteers, and law enforcement were all super friendly, making the race quite enjoyable. While I certainly wouldn’t say it was hilly, there seemed to be constant minor inclines and declines which didn’t make it the flat and fast course I was expecting, but did bring me across the finish line right around my average time.
Pizza was there…and donuts…and of course Tru Moo, so I filled up before heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and noon check out to get me home by 7:00pm.
Cara and I (Rhonda) made it to the expo at the National Guard Amory in Morgantown, WV with 8 minutes to spare! The process was very simple and once we had our bibs we headed out to get some food and then check into the hotel. We actually ate at Cracker Barrel since we had not had a “real” breakfast due to our rushed state. With full bellies, we got settled in for the night and everything ready for the morning. Storms were forecasted so we were not quite sure what we would wake up to. Cara’s foot was still bothering her and she was on the fence as to run or not.
After a great night of sleep I awoke and no rain or storms! I was totally thrilled as the idea of running hills and being wet was not setting well with me. Cara got out of bed, scratch that, hobbled out of bed and said “I don’t think I can run.” I assured her that I was ok running by myself. She dropped me off at the start line which meant I didn’t have to leave the hotel quite as early. It was a small half marathon but I prefer that over the large one the day before. Hills…..oh yes, there were plenty. I pretty much stuck with the 2:30/30 and adjusted only for the hills if needed. The crowd support and the volunteers were fantastic! I would definitely repeat this race in the future. After I finished I grabbed pizza and a yummy cinnamon bagel and called Cara to come pick me up.
Once I was showered we loaded up and headed the 7.5 hours to home. It was definitely a fast paced weekend but oh so great to be with friends.