Wednesday, September 23, 2009

North Country Trail Marathon

Saturday, I ran in the North Country Trail Marathon in Northern Lower Michigan. I liked the idea of getting to explore the peaceful north woods on a trail run. Regan, Joy, and I drove up on Friday and camped near the Manistee National Forest where the race was being held. (Near Wellston, MI, which is between Cadillac and Manistee.) The weather was perfect for camping and for the race (low of 40 and a high of 70). It was a small race, with around 225 people doing either the marathon or a 50 mile ultra. Joy and I before the race.

The trails were nice, sandy, and shady, with a healthy dose of hills. There were lots of different plant communities along the way to keep me interested, from pine woods, to oak woods, to maple woods. Trail marathons are great, because everyone is friendly and courteous, which is needed for passing.

I ran with this great runner for a couple hours. She helped keep it slow at first, and then encouraged me to keep it up near the end. I really appreciated her, although I couldn't finish with her.

Regan standing at the decision point. All participants were free to chose which event they wanted to finish, whether the 50 mile race or the marathon. Regan tried to talk participants into 'doubling' their fun by switching to the 50 miler. I was not as tempted as you might think.

Just over a mile to go! One of my goals was to be able to run at the end, and I made that goal. In past marathons, I had crashed and burned by the end. Another great thing about the race was that Regan and Joy got to see me around six times during the day. That was quite a pick-me-up.

Regan even ran with me a couple times. (Maybe for a minute or two.) Here, he is helping me finish.

Last couple steps. Although it may not look it, the sight of the finish line is always joyful.

The finish line with my time. Somehow, they got it wrong on the results page.

Recovering after the race. My average pace was 11:12 minutes per mile, most of which is due to slowing to a 14:49 minutes per mile pace between miles 21 and 24.1. Maybe it was hillier there, maybe it was the 'wall'. All of my other splits were at 11 min/mile or lower. Trail marathons aren't quite the same as road marathons.

There was a very good meal with refreshments after the race. We sat around in the sun, chatted with other runners, and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

1 comment:

Scott said...