Fall Color Run Benefiting the Thin Blue Line of MI & the Fallen Trooper Memorial

Race Name: Fall Color Run
Distance/Type: 5k
Race Location: Northville, MI
Race Date: October 5, 2013

Finish Time: Around 45 minutes (Official finish times have not been posted)
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): ??/?? & ??/??

Mark’s Finish Time: Around 26 minutes
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 4/7 & ??/??

Thin Blue Line         MichiganStatePolice

5k’s — a race that once you start running longer distances you tend to forget about.  It seems like when you are training for a half marathon or a marathon that running a 5k literally becomes no big deal.  I mean — let’s think about this — we literally run at least a 5k each and every day that we go out for a training run.  Racing also isn’t as cheap as one would think it is, so paying $20-40 to run in a 5k really gets expensive after a short period of time.   In order for me to run a 5k now-a-days it has to be for one of two reasons — First, I will always run a 5k with someone who is just “learning” how to run and wants to get into racing!  I love doing 5k with other family members and friends  who cannot go longer distances.  And secondly, I will run a 5k when I truly believe and support the cause/charity the race is benefiting.   This race just happen to fit both criteria this year!!!!

This race is unlike any 5k race I have ever ran before — and it is a race that Mark and I will run in each and every year from now on.  This 5k is a race that benefits the Michigan State Police Fallen Trooper Memorial Fund and The Line Blue of Michigan — two charities that are close to our hearts.  Most recently here in Michigan we recently lost the life of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield.  That made this race extremely emotional as his family was there to honor him and run with everyone.  

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(Left) Mark and I. (Middle) Jennifer, my sister-in-law, and I. (Right) Jennifer and Mark.
Before the start of the 5k race.

The pre-race ceremony began with a Chaplin saying a prayer, everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance together, and then a bagpipe player played Amazing Grace.  After that everyone took off for the starting line.

Mark started near the front of the pack and Jennifer and I went towards the end of the pack — which has always been one of my favorite places to start a race, lol.   I had such a great time running this race with Jennifer.  As we walked/ran we were able to chat and enjoy each other company.  All morning it had been pouring down rain; however, just before the race started the rain stopped and the weather was perfect for the race.  It was not too cold, not too hot, and overall it was the perfect fall day in Michigan.

Mark finished 4th in his age group — the highest group finishing spot he’s ever had.  This 5k course was no easy course and is probably one of the most challenging 5k courses I’ve ever ran.  Half the course is ran on a single person trail that goes up and down some pretty decent hills.  Running on a wet trail course for me can be dangerous!!  For those who know me know that I am not the most graceful person so once you get a wet trail course and add in rocks, large tree roots, pine cones, etc — it could really equal disaster!  Luckily, I survived without injury!!

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Jennifer, myself and Mark after the 5k race.

This was a great race that supports two great causes.  Being the wife of a police officer I know that on a daily basis each and every time my husband leaves for work there is a chance that he may never come home.  I am grateful for his serve as well as grateful for all the other men and women who serve in uniform.  Their jobs are not easy and being the wife, husband, son or daughter of a law enforcement officer is not easy either.  So far this year 86 families have lost a loved one in the line of duty and our hearts and prayers go out to each and every one of their family and friends who remain behind!  (Statistic is from Officer Down Memorial Page.) 

Fort For Fitness

Race Name: Fort For Fitness
Distance/Type: Meghan: 10k/Mark: Half Marathon
Race Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Race Date: September 28, 2013

Finish Time: 1:10:43
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 90/183 & 925/1,834

Mark’s Finish Time: 2:07: 52
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 134/203 & 1,269/2,515

This was my second time running in a Fort For Fitness event and it was Mark’s first.  This race is so well organized, is a beautiful route through Fort Wayne, and overall it is one of the most enjoyable races we run each year.  Plus, as a bonus they have incredibly cool medals for all of their race distances!

I was originally signed up to run the half marathon; however, due to some health issues I had been experiencing I decided that I was going to drop down to running the 10k — as did my Mom.  Mark and my Dad both stuck with running the half marathon.

It started out as a cool morning as we waited for the race(s) to start.  Mark and Dad started before us.  After watching them start we ran back into the stadium to watch my Aunt Peggy and Aunt Mary finish their 4 mile race they were running in.  After seeing them cross the finish line Mom and I dropped our bags off at the gear check table and then  took off for the starting gate.

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Mom, Lisa Mouatt and myself before the start of the 10k race.

Our plan was to stick together throughout the race; however, when running with over 1,800 other runners that can be incredibly hard to actually do.  The starting gun went off and slowly but surely everyone took off from the starting corals.  Mom and I were able to run the first 1/4 mile together until the route turned a corner and then we lost each other.

This was my first race where I ran alone and music free — and I have mixed feelings on how I liked it.  Part of me really enjoyed listening to my feet hit the pavement; however, there was a big part of me that wished I had my tunes to listen too.  Music is such a big motivation for me when running and there are times, specially during a race, where that motivation is really needed and helpful!  The first few miles went by quick and I felt great.  My goal was to finish before the 1:20:00 mark.  I know, I know — you are probably thinking 1:20:00 for a 10k, holy crap that is slow — and it is.  However, like I said I was experiencing some health issues so that was a realistic goal.

Around the 3-4 mile markers the half marathon course and the 10k course come together and everyone runs the last 2-3 miles together.  I knew I was moving at a pretty good pace when I got to the point where the courses came together and my Dad was only 10 yards ahead of me on the half marathon course.  I continued to buckle down and plug along.  A 3/4 of a mile from the finish line I turned a corner and I saw Mark ahead of me — about 50-75 yards ahead of me.  Using what energy I had left I yelled out his name as loudly as I could once.  Luckily he heard me, turned around, noticed me, smiled and waved!  I knew he wasn’t going to slow down to let me catch up to him, so I gave a little burst of energy and tried to catch up to him.  Oh boy, was that a mistake!! My legs were already tired and that just took about every bit of energy/leg strength I had left in me.

I pushed through the last  3/4 of a mile and when I rounded the corner and headed down onto the out field I just kept telling myself — almost there, almost there, almost there.  The more I have run the more I have learned — if you have enough energy and strength left to really sprint as fast as you can to the finish then you haven’t ran hard enough throughout the race.  Well, for me that saying was true!  I only had enough left in me to cross the finish line running but there is no way I had anything left to sprint.

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Meghan finishing the Fort For Fitness 10k.

Mark had finished 5 minutes before me and he was waiting at the back of the finish line for me.  I was so happy to see him — I ran up and jumped into his arms giving him a huge hug and kiss.

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Mark finishing the Fort For Fitness Half Marathon.

I was so proud of myself for finishing 10 minutes under my goal time and I was so proud of Mark for running his second half marathon in under 60 minutes!!   After we finished hugging  we got our finishers medals, went through the food tent and took off to have our finishers photo taken.

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Our finishers photo from the Fort For Fitness races.

After that we went to find Mom, Dad, and everyone else in the family who there running/supporting.  Overall it was another great race and one that Mark and I will probably run again next year!

And just on a side note — here are photos of Mom and Dad!

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Mom’s finisher photo!

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Dad with about 1.5-2 miles left to go in the Half Marathon.

Howell Melon Fest

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Race Name: Howell Melon Fest
Distance/Type: Meghan 5k/Mark 10k
Race Location: Howell, MI
Race Date: August 16, 2013

Finish Time: 31:26:6
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 14/26 & 332/595

Mark’s Finish Time: 58:32:1
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 5/7 & 105/156

The Howell Melon Fest is a race that I look forward to each and every year.  It is not a huge race nor do runners get a finishers medal, but for this race none of that matters.  I enjoy running in the Howell Melon Fest because I grew up in Howell and it’s nice to “go home” and run a race with family and friends.

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My Dad, myself and Mark before the 2013 Howell Melon Fest Run.

I initially signed up to run in the 10k; however, since I have been struggling with my IT Band I have only been able to run about 3-4 miles before my IT Band begins to flare up.  So, instead of pushing myself to far I dropped down into the 5k.  (Luckily, after switching shoes and taking it easy for a few weeks my IT Band has really improved and now I can get back on track with my marathon training!)  Mark and Dad were both running in the 10k.

This was Mark’s first year running in the Howell Melon Fest and he learned that this track is no walk in the park – no pun intended.  The race starts off on a nice and easy with runners heading downhill (awesome, right!) but then about 3/4 of a mile into the race all hell breaks loose.  At that point the track turns into the cemetery by Thompson Lake in downtown Howell and goes back along the lake where you end up running a half mile on a single wide off-road trail path followed by an other half mile on a gravel two track road, where you head back towards downtown Howell.

When you hit the off-road path you really have to go from running to a quick jog as you watch each and every step you take.  Holes in the path, massive rocks jutting out of the ground, huge pine cones, loose wood chips, massive tree roots half exposed, etc are just some of the dangers you will encounter throughout this portion of the run. Luckily for me I only had to run through this once, whereas the 10k runners had to do this twice — as the 10k route is just a double loop of the 5k course.

Mark and I started the race together and ran the first 1/2 mile together before Mark took off (of course he runs faster than me, lol)!  I was really worried about how my knee would feel but after the first mile my knee felt great and I was able to pick up a little bit of speed.  I ran what felt like a quick second mile, until I hit the hill coming out of the park towards the end of the second mile.  Although I was able to run up the hill, I did end up having to walk for 20 seconds in order to catch my breath once I reached the top of the hill.

Around the 2.5 mile point I begun to have some bad runners stitch in my right side, which was painful.  Knowing I was running a good race I mentally forced the pain away, buckled down and told myself I was going to finish strong.   Finishing strong in the Howell Melon Fest is not an easy feat — as the race ends by running up the same hill we ran downward to start the race.

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My Dad, myself and Mark after the 2013 Howell Melon Fest.

It still amazed me how there are races in which I still learn that running is more mentally challenging than it is physically challenging. Forcing myself up the hill at the end of the race was a huge mental challenge for me.  My legs kept begging me to stop running and walk; however, I forced myself to give it everything I had and run as fast as I could the last 1/10 of a mile.  Although I did not PR I felt great and in the end I had what I consider a great finish time.  Mark didn’t PR either; however, he was happy that he was able to keep his time under 60 minutes for the 10k, specially with the course conditions.

Dad didn’t PR either; however, he did take 3rd place in his age group!

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Dad with his 3rd place medal!

We had the best cheerleader/sweater hold for the race as well!  Mom didn’t run the race this year due to a calf injury — so she came along to cheer-lead — and to eat my Melon Ice Cream!

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My Mom!