Sunday, May 11, 2014

On the Run: Novi 1/2 Marathon 2014

I never planned on running the Novi Half Marathon.  It was just 13 days after Boston.  I was going to be a good girl and wait a full month to race again.  Then my friend Jen emailed me 2 days after Boston asking me if I wanted to transfer her bib.  I thanked her kindly but said no, I'd have to pass.  Too soon.

I took things easy, slowly increased my mileage over the next week and a half, cycled and did yoga.  I'd gotten up to 7 miles and felt good.  I was recovering nicely.  I was going to be good and ready for my upcoming Back to the Beach 1/2 Marathon on May 18th.

And then I did one of those crazy Amanda things that I do so well.  Two nights before the race I texted Jen asking if anyone had taken her bib.  No one had.  So I said I would.  I couldn't let a race bib go to waste, could I?  I'd just do it for fun.  Nice and easy, no expectations, no worries about placing or setting a PR.  It would be a good chance to get in a long run on a new course.  

For those of you who know me, however, you know these are all lies.  I can't show up to a race and not race it.  I knew it wouldn't be my best race but I would still give it my best shot.  And honestly, I had no idea what to expect, either for my own performance or for the race itself.  This was an inaugural event.  I am not too familiar with the area - Novi, Wixom, and South Lyon - and honestly didn't even look at the course map before the race.  All I knew was that the course was advertised as "fast and flat," which sounded perfect to me!

I got to the race early for parking and bib transfer, which turned out to be nice and easy. I thought the set up for the race was pretty nice.  Everything was at South Lyon East High School.  I did a warm-up mile around the tennis courts and parking lot (where I stalked some lady at her car for a piece of gum!).  Port-a-potties were near the start line and there were plenty because the lines weren't too long.

People seemed hesitant to start up close so it was just a small group of guys, maybe one other girl, and me near the front.  The limit for the race was 875 (still with race day registration so it must not have sold out) so it wasn't a huge crowd anyway.  I liked that about this race.  Smaller is better sometimes.  

I started the race and was immediately passed by a girl in a pink tank top.  Hot damn, she was flying!  No way was I going to catch up with her!  I also got passed by a few guys but no worries.  I didn't want to go out of the gate too fast.  Then I got passed by another girl.  Again, very early and I wasn't here to worry about placing.  The first part of the race was on a dirt road and there were some potholes to watch out for.  Nothing too bad . . . at first.  Then we made a turn onto another dirt road that was even worse.  It was uneven and littered with potholes.  I kept trying to find some solid footing but it was a challenge.  My pace slowed but safety was more important than speed.  I was grateful to get off the dirt road and onto some pavement.  I'm not sure how many miles in we were here but it was probably only about 2 at the most.

The next 6 miles or so were on pavement through subdivisions.  It was mostly flat but there were a few hills.  I remembered that I had run on some of this course before when I did the Live Like Andi run a few years ago.  That had mostly just looped around Island Lake.  The lake was pretty to look at and there were definitely some beautiful homes.  It was, however, a little lonely for a while.  At the beginning there were a few people close to me but around mile 4 I passed a couple of guys and one of the girls who passed me early on.  This put me in the #2 female spot.  So much for only running for fun.  haha.  

At this point I couldn't see anyone ahead of me except for one guy in a blue shirt who I would catch a glimpse of every once in a while.  There were no spectators.  The few water stations I passed were staffed by 2-3 people.  I waved but didn't get much enthusiasm in return.  It's hard to get excited for one lonely runner.  I ended up catching up to some other runners and then the half marathon route converged with the 10K for a bit.  Just in time for us to be back on that pothole filled dirt road again.  yuck.  But this time it was worse because not only were we dodging potholes but we were also dodging the slower 10K runners.  Plus we had 5K walkers coming in the opposite direction on the other side of the road.  I was even more glad to be off that road than before!

Until I saw what was next.  Instead of turning left on the next dirt road we turned right.  And to the right the potholes were even worse.  We had another 4 miles to go on on that road before the end.  At least there was more room to run.  With 3 miles to go I saw a pink tank top in the distance.  Could it be?  I was actually starting to catch up with the first place female!  I had to keep pushing it.  I knew I wouldn't beat her but I had to get as close as I could.  At mile 10 there was a turn-around so coming back, other racers were running past.  It was a great feeling to hear people shout out, "Only one ahead of you!"  Some people were clapping, cheering, or giving me thumbs-up.  I saw a few people I knew.  I kept pushing.  

The final stretch of dirt road was uphill, so that slowed me down a bit.  The course finished on the track but to get to the track you had to run through the parking lot and around the outside of the track.  Unfortunately, many people who weren't running didn't realize it was the course.  So as I was running the final stretch, I was having to dodge spectators and 10K finishers walking back along the course.  There was even a stroller or two!  Then there was a blind turn to get onto the track before finishing out the final stretch.  Again people were on the course and a race official kept yelling at them to get off.  Aye, aye, aye!  They really need to rethink that for next year.  Once I got onto the track I finished strong, only 13 seconds behind the 1st place female, Melissa, and 11th overall*.  

We were both interviewed by Michigan Runner at the finish line.  (Warning: Cheesy music ahead!)

Melissa and I hung out afterward while we grabbed water and collected our age group award mugs.  (No overall awards.)  

All in all, I think Kona did a decent job with this race, considering it was the first time they put it on.  I definitely could have done without the potholes, but after the winter we had, I'm not sure there was much that could have been done about those.  My only major complaint was with the end of the course.  I hope they either consider changing the end for next year or at least do a better job making sure people aren't walking back on the course.  

*Results kept changing.  At first I was 8th, then 10th, then 11th.  I should have stopped checking!



Vanilla Chia Pudding, banana

Pompeii / Bastille
Don't Save Me / Haim
Digital Witness / St. Vincent
Breakout / Foo Fighters
We Found Love / Rihanna
Get in My Way / Robin Thicke
Youth Without Youth / Metric
Mallie Chan / Otto Vector
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
After the Disco / Broken Bells
Stranger to My Happiness / Sharon Jones & the Dapp Kings
Birth in Reverse / St. Vincent
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
Tightrope / Janelle Monae (ft. Big Boi)
The Walker / Fitz & The Tantrums
Man / Neko Case
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Dancing Shoes / Arctic Monkeys
The Stars are Ours / Mayer Hawthorne
What Makes You Beautiful / One Direction
Work Around It / Them Swoops
Sexx Laws / Beck
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Uprising / Muse

If I could go back, I probably would reconsider my decision to run this race.  Not because of the race itself or the course but because I should have waited like I had planned from the get go.  It may have been a free race bib but I've been paying for it all week in my hamstrings and glutes!  I'll take it easy this week to make sure I'm recovered for Back to the Beach next Sunday.  

And if need be I'll take it easy at that one.  I can just run it for fun.  (wink wink)

1 comment:

  1. Great job! I'll be at Back to the Beach as well. Love that race.