My first Half Marathon in Michigan finally complete!

Yes, that is correct… after growing up in Michigan, still traveling back there on a fairly regular basis and only living a few hours away, up until now, I had not run a Half Marathon in the state!
A few months ago, I saw a Facebook post about the Marquette Marathon and figured I’d check it out some more.  I remember the last time I looked at this race, it was a loop that started at Presque Isle, went through the city and along the lakeshore, ended back at the park.  It was a 13.1 mile loop and if you were running the full marathon, you ran the loop twice.  This year, they changed it up and the full and half  marathons were point-to-point races, started in Ishpeming and Negaunee respectively, following the Iron Ore Heritage Trail into Marquette.  Best part?  The course is predominantly downhill!
That’s right!  The total elevation drop for the half marathon course was listed as 735 feet!  There was a few small hill on the course map, but nothing that looking to terrible!  The race was scheduled for Labor Day weekend, so we decided to make a detour in our plans to head up to visit family “up north”.
On Saturday morning, we were up early so that I could catch the bus to the start line.  The weather was once again going to be playing a huge roll in my running adventures today!  This was a complete turn around from last weekends warm, humid weather at the Cheesehead run.  The weather app on my phone told me that the rain would STOP in 111 minutes… so 13 minutes after the race starts, it will stop raining.  Yippee!  Another first for me… running a half marathon in the rain!  Actually, thinking back, this was probably the first race I have run that was this rainy.  If I did run any in the rain before, the rain was so minimal that I completely have it blocked from memory!  So obviously it must not have been too bad!  I guess we all have to have that first wet, rainy race day!
When I hopped on the bus, it was cloudy and rainy, with no sign of letting up.  Thankfully the staff at the Iron Ore Museum was in bright and early, doors open with bagels, muffins, water and coffee for all of us crazy runners that were going to be hitting the wet trail in just over an hour!
I don’t know about you, but I always have that fear that I am forgetting something when I head out for a race.  Usually, if I do forget something, it’s not something major and I can live without it.  This morning, I did forget something… and in my book, it is something major! With the rain this weekend, I make sure to put my phone in my Lifeproof case to protect it from the rain.  Once we got to the museum, I was working on continuing my pre-race fueling and making sure I had everything ready to go. It was now that  I realized that I did not have the headphone adapter for my Lifeproof case!  
So now I had a choice – take my phone OUT of the waterproof case that it was in… or run without music.  Yeah – taking my phone out of the case and running in the ran was NOT going to be an option.  So I guess it was no music.  

I almost NEVER run without music!

In fact in the last 2 years, I think I can count the number of times I ran without music on one hand!

This was going to be a true test – 13.1 miles, in the rain, with no music!  But running without my headphones also means that I won’t have my running app updating me with my current pace etc after each mile!  EEEK!

Weather app was correct, it was still raining when we started at 9am, and shortly after I hit mile 1, it stopped raining!  How’s that for an accurate weather forecast?
I will have to say, despite the rain, I was feeling pretty good!  The trail was beautiful, the puddles were minimal and I found myself actually enjoying the peaceful quiet of this awesome trail!   Just past the 2 mile marker I actually found a familiar face on the trail!  My pastor from the church that I grew up in (just about an hour from where were were running) was out on the course!  Just after I saw Pastor Mike, I saw his wife on the sidelines cheering him on!  She spotted me and we shared quick waves as I kept moving. Moments later, their son came running up along side of us too!  Come to find out, Adam was out running this half marathon with his dad, who was running his first ever half marathon!  What an awesome experience for then share!  

Before I knew it I was passing mile 4!  Even though I didn’t knowing overalls needed it or not, I was going to keep with the a fueling plan similar to what I did last week.  I can say that I was truly enjoying this race, the cool temperatures and the serenity of the beautiful trail I was running on. Every once in a while, the trail was close enough to houses or other roads that you could hear a random car or other voices, but for the most part it was just me, a few hundred other runners and the sounds of nature.  At one point a train past within feet of the train that we were running on!  Definitely not something on most race courses I run!

Before I knew it, we were coming into Marquette!  I was still feeling strong and had met some great people to run with over the last 8 miles!  Now time for the last 5 miles!  It was really nice to run some of these streets in Marquette after living here back in the early 90’s.  Granted I was not a runner back then but this was my home for 2 years and just being able to travel these streets again by foot, brought back some great memories!

I want to say that the rest of the race was a piece of cake, that I blew through those last miles without a care in the world, but the last stretch to the finish was almost enough to kill me!  I completely forgot that the finish line was at the TOP of Third Street.  That last quarter of a mile was tough!  My calves were burning and I was ready to be done.  I wanted to walk, but that stubborn side of me was not about to let anyone pass me on the last stretch!  
As I crossed the finish line, I noticed the clock.  I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I knew that it was close to a new Half Marathon PR!  I grabbed a water, but bypassed the food.  Nothing sounded good right now, except water.  At that point, all I wanted to do what find the gear check tent to get my compression sleeves and flip flops!  My calves were burning and my feet wanted out of my wet shoes!  Right next to the gear check tent was the massage tent!  Normally, I bypass the massage tent, but knowing that I have an hour plus ride in the car to get to our final destination for the weekend, it was just what I needed!

And it was awesome!!

Last stop before I left the finish line area?  Get my official time…
Official race time = 2:26:46! New Half Marathon PR by 2 minutes and 24 seconds!  
I’ll take it!  I felt great (with the exception of that last quarter mile), ran with some great people, enjoyed the awesome course that the crew in Marquette put together and walked away smiling!  I kept with my fuel plan, between the EnergyBits, Honey Stingers cookie and my Adovcare Rehydrate gel, I have found a winning combination!  
Oh yeah, I did this all without my headphones and music that I always rely to to help keep me moving!  The only way I knew what my current pace was, I had to actually look at my phone, which was traveling with me in my armband.  Needless to say, I didn’t look at it very often!  I just proved to myself that I can keep my pace without music and without having a little voice in my ear telling me how fast I was running!
2 races down and 2 to go on my quest to enter the Half Fanatics Asylum, completing 4 half marathons in 37 days, landing on Saturn.  Next stop on this adventure?  Miller Park in Milwaukee for the Brewers Mini Marathon (which is where my previous PR was set).
How are you doing on your goals?  Have you achieved them?  Are you still on track?   
Whatever you do, wherever you are in that journey, don’t give up! 

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