Michigan is a pretty big "running state", (especially when you compare it to Kentucky!), and that meant there were always lots of races to chose from. In college, coaches made the choices for us, and since then I have been able to work with Steve to choose. There were two races that everyone seemed to talk about; Run Thru Hell (mostly for the name), and the Crim Festival of races. I put a mental note that someday I would do them, but did not really think much of it until a few weeks ago.
I decided to run this race only about 10 days before, and thankfully, Greg Meyer (Elite Athlete Coordinator) was gracious enough to let me in the race, and give me a room to stay in the night before. I kept this race pretty quiet, as I have been struggling in my marathon training as you know. I also had my highest week of mileage ever last week, reverse taper anyone? Therefore, I did not want to kick up a big fuss about racing. That would add more pressure (from myself), to counter the pressure I am trying to take off.
After my 2.5 hour drive down from Big Rapids, I picked up my packet from the Elite Check in and was given my room, sharing a suite with two other girls; Alexandra Niles and Meghan Peyton.
Crim is not just one 10 mile race, it is a whole weekend of events (1 mile, 5k, 8k). The city of Flint (as well as most of Michigan) looks forward to this weekend all year. I decided to walk over to watch the men and women's elite mile on the Friday night after the pasta dinner. A few friends were racing, and road miles are always fun to watch.
Nicole Sifuentes won in 4:44, which believe it or not, is actually slow for her! After a little more walking to stretch my legs, I went back to my room to relax and get a good nights rest....well, as best as you can the night before a race. We had an elite hospitality room with snacks if we needed, and breakfast in the morning.
The best thing about this rooming situation was that the Start line was 3 minutes away, yes, you read that right. I was in my room (peeing for the 100000th time) at 7:47, and by 7:50 I was on the start line! How is that for a great set up!!!
Somehow, I found myself on the start line near the really big names; Dathan Ritzenheim on one side, and the eventual men's winner on my other side. I ended up being in a lot of photos, including this gem from the mlive website. Captain serious, yep thats me! Don't seem so nice now, do I?
Other than a random woman trying to take a selfie in front of all of us as the horn sounded, things went relatively smoothly in the first part of the race.
|Do you see me? Do you see the guy with t-shirt and camel back who HAD to be on the front line? I wonder where he finished....|
I had heard this course was very hilly, and it was extremely humid, so I tried to remain conservative the first half. This meant running by "feel", which I am pretty good at. I was quite far back in the elite women's field, but there are some major hills (the Bradley hills) around 6 miles, and I did not want to crash and burn so I remained just under 6:00 pace. Once I passed the hills, I slowly began to crank down the pace, but this was difficult as the hills take a lot of the power out of your legs.
I felt pretty good; hamstring was fine, I was relaxed, and other than the rolling hills most the rest of the way (that elevation map definitely makes it seem a lot easier than it is!), I was happy with my race. I finished in 58:55, to place 15th woman. I am definitely not where I want to be yet, but I am trying not to compare to last years training segment. Steve is great at his job; his athletes consider him king of peaking at the right time. I am therefore trusting that I will be ready for Chicago come October 12.
I have shaken the monkey off my back, he is still hanging around, but I am ready to get rid of him for good, and focus ahead. This was a good indicator that things are coming together, and there are over 6 weeks to go to make final preparations.
I had a nice, easy (8:30 pace) cool down with the lovely Meghan Peyton and Heather Kampf (2nd in the elite mile the night before, and ran 58 mins in the 10 mile, how is that for range?!). I showered, and enjoyed a nice big burger and cottage fries with my friend Jackie and her husband Jimmy before heading back to Big Rapids.
If you are ever in Michigan, or anywhere close around the end of August, I would wholeheartedly recommend this race. It was a lot of fun, and definitely a race to do again.
What is on your bucket list of races? Any questions for me about racing as an elite?
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