I decided to run the marathon in the Carrollton Charity Road races in Saginaw, MI simply because I wanted to run a summer marathon somewhere in my Great Lakes sales territory. My friend from college, Mike, had just moved to Grand Rapids and agreed to train and race with me. With all of these things falling into place, why look at the course, right? Right?!
Mike, Jen (spectator extraordinare from Tybee and Charlotte), and I arrived at packet pick-up the morning of. As we claimed our (awful looking!) shirts, a volunteer informed us that there would be an early start in...oh....5 minutes. Huh?! In a split "game time decision", Mike and I started early- after all, then we couldn't sit around and get nervous for an hour, right? Right?!
I was in denial about the course until mile 8ish. The race begins with a 2 mile loop followed by the SAME 3 mile loop & wait for it, that's right, 8 times. With NO water stops, mile markers, or time keepers on the course I kept thinking, 'This cannot be for real!' There are very few local spectators; however, the small loop allowed Jen (i.e., our personal fan club) and a few random enthusiastic onlookers to stay in one place and see us run by multiple times! It was great to see OUR support and see her often! Jen even went to a nearby grocery store for several of my mid-race requests (Gatorade, flex all, batteries for my headphones) during the race and STILL made it back to see me on the next loop.
Everyone knows that a marathon isn't exactly a spectator sport, but in a way, this one was! From the Boston qualifiers to the weaker runners, the back and forth allowed me to see runners of all levels DURING the race. This was incredibly inspirational for me and somewhat helped the mental toughness and positive attitude needed to run in Saginaw.
Our splits/loops were recorded by a volunteer who asked, by show of hands, 'what lap you are on.' The race finish (and last of the repetitive loops) ended in a different area. Several runners, myself included, did not account for the change (as it is not marked) and ran away from the end of the race- agghhhhh! I had to turn around and run an extra quarter mile back to the actual finish., where I clocked a 4:35:04...almost 4 minutes faster than my last race in Charlotte! Mike finished only a few minutes later and, minus bloody nipples (who knew?!), felt great. Right?! ;)