This year’s Pere Marquette race made my 15th year of competing in this race. I have to say that this year I had more fun than I have ever had in all my 15 years of running it. So I know what you’re thinking, what made this race so great, well let me tell you.
This year has been a particularly hard training year for me. I have competed in 6 Adventure races, including the Checkpoint Tracker National race, the Louisville Ironman, the Berryman Epic mountain bike race, and the Vino Fondo, plus many shorter races of all types, tri’s, bi’s, bike races, and trail runs. All this to say, I’m have become a little burned out and having a hard time really concentrating on my training since early November. I have been chasing my friend Jenny religiously up and down our hill course training for the PM race, but my head was just not onboard. So when my friend Val asked me if I wanted to run with her, I said yes, I would love to just run this for fun and not even try to make it a race.
So two weeks before the race Val rolls her ankle and has to take some time off running, she finally gave running a try the day before the race and decided if she took it easy she could run. Well race day came on with a bang, when buckets of water were dumped on us overnight and throughout the race. You can not even imagine how muddy the race course was. Our plan was to run the pace that worked best for Val’s ankle and with all the mud that pace was going to be slow.
My wave was 11 and Val’s was 20, so I just hung back and started in wave 20 with Val. We took off up the first hill and our feet were just sliding around in the mud, but this mud was nothing compared to what we would find later on the course. Like on the first really steep hill on the way to the first water stop. Not only was it so muddy that it pulled my shoe off, but there was a gang of Zilla’s at the top of the hill cheering us on. I felt like Rocky when I finally made it to the top of the hill. The palms of my white gloves were covered in mud from a couple near misses on being sucked completely into the muddy black hole. I couldn’t help but give Bobby the course marshal a nice high five when I made it to the top of the hill. The cheers and taunts on my way up the hill, made it all so much more personal and fun. I’m just really glad that I wore my new shoes for this race, what better way to break in a new pair of shoes.
After making it to the top of hill one, we had some downhill and we got to one corner that was so muddy we had to run over the side of the hill where a really nice runner helped us down so we wouldn’t end up flat on our face in the mud. After we made it through this section, we hit a few really wet spots, which weren’t so bad because the mud was a little thinner and it wasn’t trying to suck my shoes off at every step. Next stop the road crossing at the top of hill two. Once again the Zilla gang was there cheering us on and giving us water. There is so much to say for a race where you know all the volunteers, it made it so much more fun. By now we were way behind the pack with only a few runners still behind us. I have never been this far back in the pack, but I kind of liked it. We talked to everyone, we laughed about everything and just had fun. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having sliding around in the mud and not worrying about trying to run fast and place. I met some great people, caught up with Val on life in general and even discussed the great YouTube video “I’m an Ironman”. If you haven’t seen this video you have to watch it, you will laugh the entire time.
Now we were on our way up hill three, we caught a few people and the hill didn’t seem nearly as bad as usual, since it was so muddy and we were just trying to get through with our shoes in tact, I completely forgot to concentrate on how hard that stupid hill is. I looked up and was at the top of the hill before I knew it. We ran through the next few rollers and headed down the railroad tie steps to the road crossing which starts hill 4.
Coming to the road we saw Lori taking pictures, so we made sure to look good for her. How can you not look good when you are having so much fun. One thing I have to point out, this was the first time I have wore my new Zilla long sleeve running shirt, and although I really liked it, it was a bit of a dress. I think next time I better tuck it in my tights so I’m not racing in a dress.
We crossed the road and made it up the steps and back to the first muddy hill, you saw how muddy that hill was on the way up, now how to get down the hill was a whole different animal. Bobby the course marshal, said everyone is sliding down on their butts, so you guys should do it that way. Haha, we must be really gullible, because we just said OK and down we went. Val even used here feet to try and propel herself down even faster. Where else can you just sit down and slide down a muddy hill on your butt and think it is a normal thing to do. By the way, do you think this mud makes our butts look big.
We ran across the finish line with a smile on our faces with no idea of how long it took and even better, we didn’t care how long it took. When we finished the awards were already over, the hot chocolate was all gone, the volunteers were starting to clean up and the parking lot was starting to clear out.
We found a hose and rinsed off all the mud, then grabbed our clothes and headed to the bathroom to change. So the race was over and I was driving home when I noticed that I still had a stupid grin on my face and couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun I had. Next year I will be back to racing and wanting to win, but no matter how fast I run this race, I don’t think I will ever have more fun then I had this year.