Wednesday, September 9, 2015

State #25: Marquette, Michigan

I didn't know what to expect flying into Marquette. My first impression was:
OMG ... Is the ground crew really waving to us
as we taxi our way to the airport???
And, there was one car on the highway! Here, let's do a little comparison. I left from Newark International Airport in the AM. From the air you see, NYC, Port Newark, and the cranes for export shipping, and the New Jersey Turnpike, which is almost always packed with tractor trailers, straight trucks, SUVs, minivans, and cars, cars and more cars.
Buildings everywhere.
NYC in the distance.
Port Newark, with giant cranes for all the imports/exports
I landed in Marquette in the afternoon, where I saw this:
Marquette International Airport
Before I left New Jersey, I spoke with a few people, and they told me that I would love it in the Upper Peninsula - it's beautiful, it's quiet, and it's peaceful. I even met another runner on the plane, Theresa. Theresa told me that her friends were staying the week and vacationing here. (Theresa - I hope you did well in the marathon!). But after the stewardess traumatized us with stories of how they couldn't de-ice the plane last winter, and it was 40*F below zero with winds at 80 miles per hour ... I must admit, I was a little nervous when we went to pick up the rental car.

As we drove closer to the town, we started to see what everyone was talking about. The town was adorable. There were some very beautiful buildings, and it sat on the edge of Lake Superior.
Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan 
In fact, this was our view at dinner, in a restaurant across from Lake Superior. It was beautiful, but it was also very hot! After the Rock 'n Roll Chicago Half Marathon, I was hoping for a cool race day - especially since the half started at 9am! Later I found out from the locals that race day was the hottest day of the year so far . . . . .yeay!
Race Day, September 5, 2015!
We had to meet at Northern Michigan University, and take a bus to the race. Ron drove to the start of the 5K - he's keeping true to his promise to run a 5K whenever it's paired with my half marathons!
Next, I drove over to the buses. 
On the bus, I met a young lady, Tiffany! She was adorable. She came to Marquette to visit with her grandparents, and she decided to run the half. This would be her second half marathon. She was a little nervous, and I told her that even though this was my 27th half, I was nervous too. I told her why I wanted to run, and how I really like to place 1, 2 , or 3 in my age group, to honor my late husband. I can't believe the attack on the WTC was 14 years ago this coming Friday. Tiffany then shared that she served in the United States Armed Forces as an LPN. We found out that we both work in hospitals, too! We were meant to sit together! Tiffany, I am positive that you will get that RN certification ... you can do all things! :D
The race started with two young girls singing the National Anthem. 
They sounded beautiful!
At the start, I found out that it was a pretty fast course, about 6 miles of a steady downhill. Once we got closer to town, about mile 10, with a few small rolling hills, and ended with a steady incline. I fantasized about having a PR, but when we started, the sun felt really warm and I was worried. The first three miles flew by, and then we were on that steady downhill in a shaded park, which was much cooler. I thought for sure I would PR. I was booking: 7:23, 7:30, I even had a 7:14 in there! 
Woo Hoo!
PR, here I come!
Then, I remembered what that person said at the start: Once you hit mile 10 it levels out, with some rolling, small hills. I was good, still holding 7:25 pace at mile 10 - but the heat started to get to me. At mile 10, there was no more shade, and seemed as if the sun was beating down on the road, and right back at the runner's faces. The sun started to take it's toll on me. I wished I'd worn my sunglasses. I started to get a nasty headache. In mile 11, I began to fall apart. It just got worse through mile 12. I was barely clearing a sub 8:00 mile pace. I wondered: 
How could I ever run a sub 8 minute marathon pace in the 
Chicago Marathon, if I couldn't even finish 
this half at a sub 8 minute pace?
Then someone shouted, "You're almost there,
It's just straight up the hill."
Something you never want to hear at the end of a race ...the finish is straight up that hill!
This hill wasn't very steep, but it was a slow steady torture. I wanted to cry. There went my dreams of getting a PR. All I though was there had to be someone else in my age group killing it right now - and I worked so hard for this run. Every week strength training, speed work, tempo runs, long runs, negative splits, stretching, foam rolling - you name it, I do it! Forget the nutrition - I'm studying Kreb's cycle intermediates and trying to figure out how to get my muscles to produce lots of energy, while working less. The finish line and tented area seemed like one big mirage in the desert. I kept counting to 10, and yes, I must have said my mantra, "I can do all things through Christ who makes me strong", about 1 zillion times. 
Finally ...
I crossed the finish line!
After two waters and some shade, I stood in line to get my results. I was not disappointed.  I clenched my fist tightly and quietly shouted, "YES!" For a moment, I was Serena Williams - hey, I can dream!
First Place Age Group Win!
Let the celebrations begin! 
Thank you Blackrocks Brewery - you smell like pine and serve great wine beer!

 And the Jazz Fest was awesome!

Congratulations to everyone who finished!
You are all winners!
Train Smart Today!

 Sharing a little Marquette:


Black Flies too! Got my leg in this pic! LOL!

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