Fall running, peak colors and new friends on a cold morning!

Sometimes you need to change your plans to make sure you stay on track for the goal.

This past weekend, I had 15 miles on the training plan for New York City.  Most of the crew that I usually run my long miles with were running a few local shorter races.  There was a chance of rain on Sunday so I really wanted to get in my miles on Saturday.  Then I remembered that one of the other ladies from the MRTT group said something about running a half marathon up north.  I sent her a quick message and the next thing I knew, I registered for the race and we were heading to the northwoods for part of the weekend!

It was the 5th annual Three Eagle Half Marathon… a small local race that was just what I needed for some long slow miles!  How small?  256 people were registered for the half marathon, and this was the biggest number of registrations yet for this race!

Karrie and I headed out Friday afternoon on a laughter filled road trip.  First stop was in Three Lakes to pick up our race packets.  Since this is a small race, packet pick up was quick and easy!   Each runner was also given an entry into their door prizes that were donated by many local businesses – including a bike! With race bibs in hand, it was off to Land-o-Lakes where we were spending the night.

With all the trips that I have made through the area, I’ve never stopped at the Gateway Lodge!  What an awesome place full of rich history!  We spend the evening enjoying a relaxing evening, a fabulous dinner (their Butternut Squash Ravioli is to die for!!!) and hours of laughs before we got up before sunrise to get ready for the race.

We woke up to a chilly morning with a crisp layer of frost on the ground.  Since we both are early risers, we had plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and some coffee before heading out into the cold morning.  When we walked out the door to the parking area, we were greeting not only by the frigid cold (it was 24 degrees) but the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon.  Since the truck needed to warm up and thaw out, we had the chance to take a few minutes to enjoy the most beautiful fall sunrise I have seen in a long time!

It was exactly what I needed to put me in the right mindset.  I needed to remember that this was a training run.  I needed to take it slow.  It put me into a peaceful state of mind.  I was ready to enjoy a quiet morning, enjoying the miles and taking in the beauty all around.

Since this race starts in Eagle River and ends in Three Lakes, all runners are shuttled from the Reiter Center in Three Lakes, to the Dairy Queen in Eagle River.  The race starts out on the local snowmobile trails right in town, but the entire course is in the quiet woods!

Since we grabbed the first shuttle to the start line, we had about 40 minutes before the race to try and keep warm, use the bathroom and did I mention keep warm!?!  24 degrees is not really ideal running weather, but I guess it’s better than 90 degrees.  I also know that once I start moving, I get warm, so I was probably under dressed for standing… or should I say jumping around trying to stay warm.

I dropped my bag off at gear check (the back on a SUV) so that my jacket could be waiting for me at the finish line.  Promptly at 9am, the race started promptly at 9am.  I headed out, trying NOT to fall into pace with everyone else.  I needed to run my race… which was not a race, but a training run. Karrie, on the other hand, had goals to reach and headed off running her race of the year! Shortly after the race started, I ran into one of other ladies from the Green Bay MRTT group and we ran together for a short time before she headed off to reach her goals too.

As I was stopping just past the 1st mile to dump a rock out of my shoe, I met up with two women who noticed my Green Bay MRTT shirt and told me they were part of the Appleton Chapter!  When I said I was running this as a training run, they were quick to invite me to run their intervals with them. WooHoo – new friends and fun people to run with!

We spent the next 9 miles running, walking, laughing and enjoying the amazing colors of the Northwoods.  They had an awesome group of family and friends that were out there cheering them on at various points in the course.  As we ran past them the first time, they introduced me to their support crew.  Each time we saw them, they were cheering for all of us!

This race was by far one of the most beautiful courses that I have run in a long time.  The trees were in at peek color and made the perfect backdrop for a beautiful training run! Since we kept stopping to admire the beauty and snap a few photos, I was able to stick my paces that I needed to for these miles.

I can completely understand why friends have told me this is, by far, their favorite half marathon!  The course is beautiful and aside from a few small hills while you are on the roads, the course is flat and fast!

Now, I personally can’t speak for the fast part, since I was running slow and enjoying the miles, but Karrie killed that course, hitting her half marathon PR and winning her age group!  Her prize?  An awesome painted mason jar coffee mug!

Overall, I can see why this is a favorite of many!  This year was only the 5th annual race and each year they get a little bigger and make a few improvements!  I’ll gladly add this one back into my calendar whenever I can!

The important stuff:
Half Marathon #47
State #21 (since this was a local race, not a new state)

Next stop – New York City Marathon, Sunday November 4th!

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