“Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.”
Ludington, MI is a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. My husband, Mark, had proposed going on a trip away to be able to drive our little Miata and found a place that just so happens to have a half marathon going on, he knows the way to my heart!
We were grateful my mom could watch the kids since there definitely was not room for them in the car. It was our first trip away from them (we had individually gone away before).
I really worked to carb load on the Friday as we headed up to Ludington. I felt extra hungry all day, guess the body was recovery even though it was a low mileage taper week. I’m pretty sure before we left after 10am I had eaten: leftover pizza, bagel, pita and hummus, and pancakes plus water with electrolytes in it. We hit a rest stop an hour into the drive to switch drivers… And eat a PB&J sandwich. We stopped on Grand Rapids for lunch at New Holland Brewery.
We got into Ludington right at the hotel check-in at 3pm. Once we dropped things off we decided to check out the town before packet pick up. We we got stopped by the cops for them to allow the Budweiser Clydesdale Calgary to drive by. We later found out that Ludington was celebrating 150 years and the Clydesdales were in the parade downtown. It turned into quite the event and had closed the roads down later.
We took in the view of the beach and lake as we waited for packet pickup to get started.
You know it is a small race when it is just a tent to grab your bib and shirt!
We decided to drive the second half of the course since we knew we couldn’t get on the trail portion. It was pretty driving between the sand dunes and seemed like it would be a flat road with some hills to get back to the finish. After we found the local pizza joint to order pizza. We walked around downtown as we waited. Our pizza came in a bag! Maybe a small town thing?
We enjoyed some more time at the beach before getting back to the hotel around 7pm to wind down and relax. It was even worthwhile to see the sunset from our room!
I slept pretty good but was up at 4:47am and made myself go back to bed. I snagged another hour before I got up to try and get food in before the race and I was getting nervous. Mark got up as well and we had PB bagel.
We got all dressed and decided to head down to the race at 6:45am for the 8am start.
I had seriously studied the course map and the elevation for the race. I really felt I knew what to expect.
It was actually a bit chilly waiting around but knew I would prefer that. I warmed up for a bit around 7:30 after a bathroom break.
Mark and I hit up the bathrooms one more time before heading to the start. That was the one nice thing about the small race is easy bathroom access and didn’t even need to use the port-a-pottys lined up. I took a UCAN gel as we walked to the start. They last minute had people stand out with paces: 6min/mi (only 1 guy stood in that one), 7min/mi (where I stood with 4 other ladies), 8min/mi (where Mark lined up), etc.
The gun went off and tried to find my groove. I knew there were rollers and some climbs to start so tried to feel comfortable. I carried a handheld with Skratch in my water bottle. I was definitely nervous but kept an eye out with the ladies around me. There was a steady climb from Mile 1 to 2 where I was 4th female. One of them seemed to have a guy friend pacing her. I took a Maurten gel at Mile 3.5. The road was winding through Mile 4 where we got on to the trail. A girl came out of no where and passed me before we got into the trails. Man she had no issues on the trails. The trails were sandy and definitely not easy rollers the race described. I had to take off my sunglasses so I could see better in the trails. There were tree roots and very hard to pass people. I did pass one female on the trails so I was back to 4th female. During Mile 5 there were two steep climbs on sand and leaves before we ran down a steep sand dune. I saw my watch click 8:52 min/mi on the trails which was my first and last time checking my watch. I just went by feel this race. Oh the sand got all in my shoes, was such a weird feeling!
Luckily once we got back on the road at Mile 6, the sand started to come out. It took some time to get my legs turing over right after the sand. I appreciated the shade for a bit because I knew Mile 7 was going to be all sun as we ran on a road between the sand dunes. I saw 3rd place female with the pacer. I could tell she was fading already and I passed her a bit after Mile 7. It was full on sun and head wind at this point. We had headwind the whole rest of the race. I took a caffeine Maurten gel at that point. I also started giving up on aid stations for water. It was plastic cups that were filled way too high. I had used my straw technique though for the few waters I grabbed. I could see 1st and 2nd place female so I made it my goal to catch them.
They didn’t close the roads off for this race. I was impressed how most people did take the tangents but we were moving all over the road and switching sides and drivers passing wherever. Luckily it wasn’t too busy but still. Around Mile 10, we were getting out of the sand dune area. I contemplated taking my last Maurten gel but didn’t. My legs felt good, breathing was getting labored but I knew last 5k I was going to have to pick up the pace to catch the two ladies. I was reeling in the guys between us and skipped water stations because I still had hydration. People commented it looked like I was just starting my race and a few even noticed I was third female for me to catch the others. Oh I was on it. By Mile 12, I could see the 2nd female was fading. This was the start of another hill and I had to go for it then. I tried to pull her along with me but I had sights on the 1st female. I could tell she was looking back to see her placement. It was a nice down hill/flat to the finish after 12.4 miles. I gave it everything I had but she had 30 seconds on me. I came to find out she was a 16 year old who lives in Ludington and I’m sure she trains on those trails. It was a hard fight.
I finished 2nd place female overall with a 1:37:33! I’ll take it, still faster than my last half I did last year by 50 seconds so new postpartum PR! I’ll take what I could get today with that course!
I got to cheer on Mark to finish after and ran along the chute with him as he brought up how awful the trails were and went out too strong on them.
We stayed for the awards and recounted the race. It honestly was a pretty course but definitely not the type of race I expected.
We showered and packed up so we could get lunch and ice cream from House of Flavors downtown. I was definitely hungry by that point!
It was a nice evening away with Mark and getting to be active together while checking out another Lake Michigan town. Our Miata has gotten to do some long drives the past three weeks with Mark visiting his brother in Chicago, me visiting my coach and friends in Grand Haven, and now Ludington.
I have to thank my coach @sayrahrunshappy for planning my race my effort because we didn’t know what to expect for this race. Now a little recover before marathon training begins for Twin Cities!
What races do you have this summer?
What carbs do you enjoy before races?