Monday, February 3, 2014

Groundhog Moonlight 1/6th Marathon #racereport

So, Saturday night's Groundhog Day Eve Moonlight 1/6th Marathon will go down in history as one of the stupidest (read CRAZIEST) things I have ever done.  West Michigan has been in the midst of a polar vortex snowpocalypse for several weeks now and this trail race was going to be hard. 

I had no idea how hard or I was just in total denial.  I think I ran about 5 miles the entire month of January and was still nursing some injuries.  I ran the Groundhog Half Marathon last year and while there was a sh*tload of snow that day too, It was pretty packed down.  I figured, 4.4 miles, I could walk it if I didn't feel up to running.

Thankfully, we ended up with a bit of a heat wave this past weekend so I didn't need to deal with the -11 windchills.  It was about 27 degrees with very little wind at the 6:30 pm race time.  I was outfitted in 2 pair of tights, a long sleeve tech shirt, my Nike Element jacket, hat and a buff. I wore Yak Trax on my feet but honestly, it probably wouldn't have mattered if I'd decided to wear my Uggs.  I left my mittens in the car, which was perfect because my hands were uncovered 1/2 a mile in.  I'd say I was dressed perfectly.  I never felt cold.  Sadly, this was the only "perfect" aspect of this "race".

I was extremely fortunate to go through this torture race with Laura, Susan and Judi.  Had they not been there, I'm pretty sure you all would be reading my obit instead of a race report because I was giving serious thought to jumping in the Grand River and attempting to swim back to town.
The only plowed section of the trail was the start/finish like.  For those doing the half or full on Sunday, they'd cross this area every loop - 3 loops for the half, 6 for the full.  We only had to deal with it once.  

The Groundhog Moonlight 1/6th Marathon race is a 4.4 mile loop through the beautiful Kent Trails system in Grand Rapids, MI.  Headlamps were required and it really was quite pretty when I was brave enough to look up instead of just down at my feet.  I truly believe the 1/6th-er's job is to blaze the trail and hopefully get the snow packed down for the next morning's half and full marathon.  We really didn't do a very good job.  

The snow was easily 18 inches deep and full of ruts and pits.  I have never been so frustrated just trying to WALK.  Forget about any attempts to run.  There was a spot about 1/2 to 1 mile in that runners could bail if they wanted.  Once we passed that point we knew we were in for the VERY long haul.  I give mad props to Susan for blazing our trail, Laura for running her longest race so far, and Judi for falling half a dozen times, not giving up and making us laugh.  I give myself props for packing peppermint schnapps and not just laying down in the snow waiting to die.  When I mentioned swimming, I was about 50% serious and trying to calculate how long I'd live before I either drowned or hypothermia set it.  It became a mind over matter race.  I needed to not mind that the time didn't matter.  It was so f*cking hard and I thought about 100 times that I would be lucky to get out without a broken ankle.  I'm proud to say I never fell and I actually ran the last 25 yards or so to the finish line. I can run 4.4 miles in about 45 minutes or less and walk that distance in a little over an hour.  This "race" took me over 2 FREAKING HOURS! The winner finished in 50 minutes, so that gives you and indication of how bad the conditions were since that dude probably runs 5 min miles and couldn't even maintain a 10 m/m pace.  A couple of my friends placed in their age-groups.  Mandy finished in about 1:40 and Joanne in around 1:30.  I really thought I'd be done in under 90 minutes but I seriously underestimated this.  Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a snowplow.  Pretty much everything hurts, from my neck for looking down for 2+ hours to a very sore hammy to my feet and ankles.  

Saturday night's run will go down as both my Personal Worst and Personal Best 1/6th marathon.  I will NEVER do this race again, so both of those records will stand.

Photo: Seemed like a good idea at the time

At least the sweatshirt rocked.

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