On one of the colder, snowier days we've had in a long time (I swear, spring in southeast Michigan has been colder than winter!), Brian and I reluctantly shed our warm layers and stepped out of the car. Normally we run from home to Ford Field Park for the Martian Invasion of Races but because of the cold, we decided to drive and park a bit closer. It was going to be a long morning outside and we needed other clothes nearby. We were running the 10K at 8:00, cheering for friends finishing the half around 10:30, and meeting my students at 11:15 to run the Kids' Marathon at 12:00.
It was snowing when we got to the start corral and the winds were picking up. I wasn't wearing my racing flats and had on my huge warm mittens. Thank goodness I wasn't planning on racing this thing today, not with Boston a week away. My plan was to start out at marathon pace (7:15/mile) and drop down if my legs were feeling okay, hoping to get in some good tempo miles. I didn't start at the front because I didn't want to push the pace. I also wasn't really paying attention, was talking to people, and all of a sudden the corral was filled up all the way to the start line!
Thankfully the crowd thinned out quickly. As planned, I started out at marathon pace. At the first mile marker I caught up to three ladies, held pace with them, then inched ahead on a slight incline. (Hill work is paying off!) One of them caught back up to me and got ahead until mile 2. At that point the course hits a ramp that heads downhill to Hines Drive. I had picked up the pace a bit and caught up to her again. Once we hit Hines - my familiar training ground - I passed her. I was motivated by volunteers cheering and a cameraman. I smiled, waved, and thanked them all. Before I knew it I had pulled away. When I hit the turn-around and heard a volunteer say "first female" I was shocked. I hadn't realized no other ladies were ahead of me!
After the turn-around I saw a few other people I knew to wave at and cheer for, including Brian. Then the course hits the paved trail section that winds through campus, where it gets a little hilly. This year the race was small so it was a bit lonely in there. I only saw two men ahead of me the whole time on the trail. After chicking the first one I chased the second one the whole way to back to Michigan Avenue, where I was finally able to pass him. Unlike Rock CF a few weeks ago, my legs felt good and strong finishing. It was much slower than my best Martian time, but it was a solid tempo run at the end of a less-than-ideal marathon build-up.
Brian did an amazing job with his race! He has not been a fan of 10Ks but this one might have made him a convert - even in the wintry conditions!
After the race I ran a couple of cool down miles (in a white-out), then hit Starbucks to warm up with coffee and oatmeal. Then it was back to the races to cheer on some fellow RUNdetroit Flight Club friends as they finished the half marathon. I also picked up my award - a stein and medallion from Glass Academy as well as a free entry for next year's Martian 10K. YAY!
E.T. / Katy Perry
S.O.B. / Nathanial Rateliff & The Nightsweats
Shut Up and Dance / WALK THE MOON
Caught Up / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
St. Cecelia / Foo Fighters
Born Again Teen / Lucius
Random Name Generator / Wilco
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
Something About You / Lucius
Girl From Mars / Ash
The Walker / Fitz & the Tantrums
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train
Finally it was time to go meet the 50+ students (4-5th Grade Girls Running Club, plus other boys and girls in K-5) and my co-captain who were coming to run the Martian Kids' Marathon from my school. Since February the kids have been running and logging miles, trying to run 25 miles total. Saturday they were lining up to run their final 1.2 miles of the marathon. At the end they would each receive a marathon medal for their hard work.
I was so proud of all the mini martians! While we waited in the cold, the kids warmed up with high knees and knee hugs to get their muscles ready. Then they ran their hearts out, with smiles on their faces. Crossing the finish line with these kids made my heart happier than crossing it during my own race.
And see that girl in the pink? Watch out for that one. She may be small but she's determined and she's got quite a kick.