I'll remember this as the one where I fell in love with trail running...
also the one where I tripped and fell.
We had been staying a few days with family in the lovely town of Saugatuck, Michigan. This was my first introduction to the state that looks like an oven-mitt (or a big toe, depending) and I must say - I was bowled over!
We decided on our drive home we would squeeze in a race. It was July 4th but we didn't want the typical parade and 5K (sorry Ann Arbor, I'm sure you would have been quaint and patriotic). What we found was anything but typical...
The T-Rex 10 Miler Trail Run and Wimpy 8K in Lowell. It was put on by the Old Farts Running Club so when we arrived to find most of the people looking to be over 70 we were impressed. When we heard a group of them playfully gang up on one guy for running the Wimpy ("hey lay off" he defended "I'm nursing this hamstring and I'm running with my grand daughter"), we were in awe... we had found our future.
The race was held in a beautiful park. I wish I had taken pictures along the trail because it was gorgeous. Here is as best as I can give you - a picture of our course map:
very technical, as you can see.
The few times we weren't in true wooded areas, we were on dirt paths that wrapped around a lake or we were crossing a field. It was decidedly not the Michigan described by eminem. It was breath taking. (mostly for the fact that I was winded).
I paced myself much better on this 8K than my last race and I fought back every urge to prove something and just enjoyed the run. I think that's what makes trail running something so easy to love - it's very liberating. I couldn't directly compare it to my road race times so I didn't think about time. And I had to stumble down the rocky hills and make sharp turns to head back up in horribly ungraceful ways. I had to run like a little kid. (or like Phoebe in friends). Its liberating to know you'll probably get dirty and you'll probably get scratchy shins from the overgrowth on the path. Running has always been messy for me, so with trail running it was easy to fall in love.
Coming to the end, my headaches had spiked (no surprise) and the weather was hot (low 90s and humid). When my brain is all about hurting, its not in the mood for thinking. This turns dodging tree roots and jumping stones into the sort of 'high level' thinking I can't deal with, so my head checks out of the equation and I bite it. Nothing major, just a lot of dirt and a few scrapes. It would be much worse if I didn't have Neil to dust me off and help me get going again.
We finished the race, only to find that Neil's parent's drove to Lowell to cheer us on (which was not exactly on the direct route home). It was a great encouragement and a lot of fun because when we're in other states we rarely have finish line paparazzi and warm hugs.
yikes maybe with that back sweat, we skip the warm hugs and just give thanks for great parents... also for running partners and wooded trails and old farts galore
Oh and I need to mention we got our first finisher's medal - sort of. The entire race we were mocked for running the wimpy 8K (4.97 miles). Our shirts were separate from the T-Rex 10M and they said wimp all over them, on the trail there were arrows and signs everywhere that said "wimps this way" and "repeat after me 'I'm a wimp'", and the 8K finishers got "metals" not medals. So here are our wimpy tire irons:
I'm also awkwardly displaying my extra dirty hands from falling,
because who doesn't trip and land palms first? who?
So that's Michigan! We both said we want to go back and do this one again. I want to run all 10 miles and say defiantly "no one calls ME a wimp and gets away with it!" and Neil wants to take his bike and ride the trails instead of running them. Until next time MI, sleep with one eye open my friend.
race: T-Rex 10 Miler and Wimpy 8K
location: Lowell, MI
charity: supporting the Old Farts Running Club