Jul 15, 2007 4:40 PM
This race takes place in the little tourist town of Port Austin at the tip of Michigan's "thumb" on Lake Huron. It was the 7th consecutive year I've done the race, the first time was in my second year of racing. The 8K had about 40 participants and the 2 mile run and 2 mile walk each had about 90. There is a lot of local support and family groups participating, particularly in the 2 mile events.
I was surprised, and pleased, to see my friends Terry, Brian, Brian's wife, Angie, and Angie's son Josh show up. This was their first time at this race. There were a number of others that I knew. Among them were Karl and Larry who have participated every one of the 15 years the race has existed. Karl is in his 70s and a running legend in the northern "thumb". Larry is in his 40s and one of the faster runners in the area. I was pleased to see Katie who I haven't seen for a couple of years. In high school, she dominated the area in girls cross country and track. She holds the course record for the gals and has been running for Michigan State University.
On the way to the race, I realized that I hadn't checked what time I ran for my 8K PR on this course last year. I thought I had about an 8:20 pace and thought an 8:15 pace might be possible and would get me a new PR.
The temperature was about 60, it was overcast, and threatening rain. I took off with Terry and Angie. I expected them to quickly pull ahead but Angie fell back a bit and I was staying with Terry. The first two miles are paved and fairly flat. I didn't think that Terry and I were pushing very hard but, at the 1st mile we were just about at an 8 minute pace (post race, my GPS showed an 8:02 pace for the first, approximate, mile. I thought that was a little fast for me to hold but kept going. About midway through the second mile, Terry pulled away and I figured I'd slowed to a more reasonable pace for me. At the second mile, my watch showed a time that would go along with that. After the race, my GPS showed that I had gone a little more than a mile and my pace for that approximate mile was 7:47. I guess I speeded up when I thought I was slowing. The third mile was a little rolling with the overall trend uphill. It was also hard packed dirt strewn with "roundish" stones about an inch in diameter. At three miles, my watch read 25 minutes so I had slowed during that mile and made me wonder if I'd lost my chance for a PR. Post race, my GPS showed a pace of 9:09 for that approximate mile. The fourth mile had a short stretch that continued the uphill dirt road and then turned onto pavement that was uphill for a bit before leveling out. It looked like I'd gained back a little time and that maybe if I could push a bit in the last mile I might still get my PR. It turned out my pace for that approximate mile was 8:23. Somewhere, maybe towards the middle of the third mile, it started to rain, steady and gentle, but no problem. About the 4 mile mark, I pulled up to and passed a guy who looked like he might be in my age group. The last mile starts out fairly level, then a slight downhill where you can see Lake Huron ahead. A turn is made onto the shoulder of the highway along the lake for about half a mile then a sharp turn into the park where we started and about a tenth of a mile to the finish. During the mid part of the last mile, I passed a young 20 something looking guy and got an encouraging word in passing. As I approached the final turn, I saw Josh who cheered me on and immediately followed it by a "go mom" so I knew Angie was coming up behind me and gaining. I kicked as much as I could and crossed the finish line just a step or two ahead of Angie. My final time was 41:15. I didn't know until I got home that I did get a 10 second PR and that my last approximate mile was at a 7:48 pace with the overall race at an 8:18 pace.
Less than half a minute after I finished, the guy I passed who looked like he might be in my age group finished and told me that trying to stay with me got him a real good finish time. I told him that hearing his footsteps behind me helped push me. While visiting with people while waiting for the awards, I asked Larry how his race went. He was happy that he'd out kicked Katie at the end. They've known each other for a long time, are both neat people, so I know they both probably enjoyed the challenge. I ended up 18/40 overall and 1/3 in my AG (60-64). I think the guy I passed was 2nd in my AG. He disappeared after the race and no one came forward to collect the 2nd place medal.
Larry was 2nd OA and Katie was the first female finisher. Terry and Angie were 1st and 2nd in their AG and some of my other friends did well, also. I appreciated the attitude of the guy who was 3rd in my AG, the only one in the 8K older than me, who congratulated me and indicated how that he was pleased to be able to be there and participate. For most of us, having a fast race and perhaps a PR are great, but being able to participate is what's really important.