Duo at the Ledges

Race Name: Duo at the Ledges
Distance/Type: Half Marathon
Race Location: Grand Ledge, MI
Race Date: July 6, 2013

Finish Time: 2:28:52
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 16/16 & 182/206

Mark’s Finish Time: 2:20:30
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 12/13 & 165/206

This was our first time running in the Duo of the Ledges Half Marathon.  Unlike most races we enter now-a-days, which have to have an awesome tech shirt and medals — we picked this race based solely on it’s location.  As you fellow runners know, racing is not a cheap sport by any means.  Sure it is free to head out each day on the sidewalks and open roads for your practice runs; however, once you start figuring in the cost of running shoes, clothes, race entry fees and travel expenses it can add up quickly.  Specially when both you and your better half run, which means most of the expenses are doubled. 

Since we needed a half marathon to fit into our training and this was the closest half marathon — this is the one we picked. 

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Our race bibs and the tech shirt we got with our race entries.

Mark and I headed over to Playmakers in Okemos on Friday to pick-up everyone’s packets.  (As always, Playmakers does an amazing job with their packet pick-up process.)  That evening Mark and I tried to spend the relaxing and headed to bed around 9:45 pm, knowing that we were going to have a super early morning.  

On Saturday we woke up to our alarm going off at 4:15 am — UGH, yes, that’s right — 4:15 am!!!  We got ready, had some breakfast and headed out the door towards Grand Ledge, which is about 30 minutes away from Mason.  When we arrived at Grand Ledge High School it was still pretty dark and none of the parking lot lights were on (bummer).  It was a little bit of a cluster trying to get my running shoes on, our bibs pinned, and our race belt all ready to go in the dark but we managed.  Mom and Dad met us right there at the high school and also finished getting ready. 

After we were all set we took off towards the starting line to find the restrooms and gear check our one bag we were all sharing. (Yes, a race with 200 people had a gear check and it was awesome!) The line for the bathrooms wasn’t very long so I decided to wait and make sure I was going to start the race with an empty bladder.  After all four of us hit the bathrooms and checked our bag we began to stretch and get ready for the start. 

Mark and I before the race.

Mark and I before the race.

Mark, myself, Mom and Dad before the start of the race.

Mark, myself, Mom and Dad before the start of the race.

The race started out on one of the side street in downtown Grand Ledge and was just a “gun” start.  For being a half marathon this is one of the smallest races I have ever ran in — including all the 5k’s I have done.  With only 206 runners it was a pretty small field and even with a gun start everyone was able to make it across the “starting line” within 10-15 seconds of the “ready, set go!” we got! 

The pack took off from the starting line and 200 yards in I had to remind Mark that we needed to set our own pace and not run with the pack.  I could feel that we were running a tad faster than our goal pace and knowing we had 13 miles left ahead of us I knew we needed to slow down or we would be in trouble towards the end of the race. 

Miles 1 and 2 went great. We ran a 10:10 and a 9:45 mile (respectively) and then came the first water station a little bit past the 2 mile marker. For the first time ever that I remember I broke one of the cardinal rules of drinking water while running. Instead of slowing sipping, I downed the entire small dixie cup of water in one big gulp.  I am not sure if that was the cause of my issues for the next 5 miles or if it were something else, but the next 5 miles were the wort 5 miles of my life!

Mark and I at mile 2.

Mark and I at mile 2.

I literally felt like I was dying as I ran miles 2-8.  It felt like my stomach was being twisted over and over again, while a boxer was constantly slugging away it at the same time.  I was able to push through the pain for miles 2 through 5; however, around mile 6 it really started to take a toll on me.

Around 6.5 miles I asked Mark for my package of Chomps and forced myself to down at least 3/4 of them along with a few small sips of water. Within minutes I felt like that had been a horrible decision and my stomach pain got worse.  After we hit the 7 mile marker I could no longer physically run. It hurt — and I mean — it hurt!  I finally looked at Mark, asked him for the cell phone from the race belt in case I needed to call for help and told him to go ahead without me.  As much as I love running our races together — I felt horrible about holding him back that badly and knew I wanted him to finish better than I would. My loving husband gave me this look like I was crazy for wanting him to leave me in that condition, but I promised I would be okay and told him again to go.  He gave me a quick kiss, told me he would see me at the finish line and took off running.

I pushed myself through mile 7 which felt like death.  At this point I had been pasted by three younger runners, a very elderly gentlemen who was doing a run-walk, and a very elderly lady also doing a run-walk.  Finally I decided that the next time I saw a race worker I was going to ask if they could get me a ride back to the starting line and I was going to take my first DNF (Did Not Finish) ever. It was a relieving feeling knowing that I was making the right decision to pull myself from the race as I knew something was not right.  At this point I had been pasted by three younger runners, a very elderly gentlemen who was doing a run-walk, and a very elderly lady also doing a run-walk. 

Then came mile 8. As I passed the 8 mile marker my stomach pain suddenly started to subside quickly.  I decided to try my hand at running to see if the pain came back and took off in a slow jog.  Not only did the pain not come back it continued to quickly subside. The relief felt amazing and I was able to seriously pick-up my pace.  Over the next two miles I passed every single person who had passed me while I walked, plus a few more.  I ran miles 8 through 11 with an average pace of 10:05 miles! Heck yes!!!!!!  Miles 12 through 13 I ran a little slower because I began to have massive pain in my right knee.  At that point I was not going to let anything stand between me and the finish — anything!!!! 

I rounded the corner downtown Grand Ledge and saw the finish line in sight.  I could hear the theme song to “Rocky” booming from the announcers booth, which just happens to be one of my favorite running songs of all times and I took off as quickly as my legs would take me towards the finish line.  Hearing my name and hometown called as I ran down the finisher’s shoot was one of the greatest sounds I could hear!  I crossed the finished line and within 5 feet gave my Mom a high-five and a hug as her and my Dad were standing right there waiting for me to finish. 

Finish_Meghan

Meghan at the finish line!

A volunteer handed me my finisher’s medal along with two bottles of water and I began to look around for Mark.  Unfortunately, Mark did not get to see me finish.  He finished 8 minutes before me and had headed into the building for some food and water thinking he had about an hour before I would cross the finish line.  Little did he know just how tough his wife really was and how hard she could physically push herself! The instant I saw him, we gave each other a massive hug and he told me how proud he was of me!  I think I was more proud of him though, as that was his very first half marathon. 

Mark at the finish line!

Mark at the finish line!

Mark, myself, Dad and Mom after we all finished!

Mark, myself, Dad and Mom after we all finished!

This, by far, was the most physically and mentally challenging race I have ran to date.  I am incredibly proud of myself for pushing myself to the finish line.  I have heard plenty of runners talk about how one day you will have a bad race.  For me, it took 3 years to experience a bad race but it finally happened.  I am just happy that I had enough strengthen to push myself through it.  (Which brings up the fact that my next article I have decided to write about having a “bad race” and what you can do to help you push through to the end, along with when is the right time to call it quits!)

The race volunteers this morning were all amazing.  All 100+ of them!  The race organizers had more than enough water and food pre-race and post-race for all the runners.  For a half marathon the medals were lacking compared to most other races, but overall it was a good race and I am glad we ran it.  It is not a race that we will make sure is on next year’s list of “must run races”; however, in the future if we are ever looking for another close (and cheap) half marathon this is one we would do again!  

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