I drove up to Dewitt Mi on Friday night to stay with my new friend Michelle who was going to run The Legend with me on Saturday. She lived in an adorable historical home in downtown Dewitt. We didn’t have a lot of time to visit before bed but we took a short walk downtown where she showed me the local coffee shop and the beloved bakery. I would have loved to visit both, but alas, they were closed when I got there and didn’t open until our race was to begin on Saturday. I’ll just have to go back to let you know how they are.
We drove to Sleepy Hollow State Park just as the sun was rising over the cornfields in rural Michigan. The beauty of a Midwestern countryside is understated next to mountains and oceans. But when the sun rises and sets over the fields dotted with ancient farmhouses, there’s a magical quality to it that always surprises me. What can be beautiful about corn, you say? Well, all I can tell you is you have to see it to believe it.
Trail races are smaller than the big road races. The announcer was providing instructions as we arrived. “There will be falls,” she said. “This is a trail race.” My friend Michelle snickered and whispered, “but we’re all still here anyway.” She admonished those with headphones with a reminder that they were against the rules. If they were going to use them anyway, she warned, they’d better pay attention to other runners passing on the single-track course.
Trail races attract a different type of crowd. The courses are often longer, so the runners are often fitter or just plain daredevils. But trail run participants are a little harder in appearance. It’s not unusual to see heavily bearded and tattoed men with bulging biceps lining up at the start of a trail race. Middle age seems to be the predominant age range although all ages are represented. The starting gun was simple. The announcer said, “go”, and we were off.
We ran through grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers, heavily wooded forests and on well-traveled mountain bike trails. For the first 3 miles, I traded places with several different runners as we adjusted our paces and then eventually I found myself alone. Because I have to pay so much attention to the trail ahead of me, I don’t listen to anything when I’m running on a trail. This race was 3 hours of quiet contemplation of the growing ache in my left knee, increasing fatigue in my quads and the beauty of nature. Volunteers broke up the monotony with frequent water breaks and conversation.
I quit using Gu because of the sugar and caffeine, but they offered it at the water stations. After mile six I started using it, and I noticed a significant lift of my aches and pains and my energy immediately afterward. I will add that back into my fueling routine. It definitely made a difference. By the end of the race, I was tired, but I was not beaten. I am very happy with my accomplishment. Now, the Mt. Baldhead Challenge is in my sights.
My friend Dan from Knoxville passed through St. Joe this weekend. He visits Michigan every summer, and since I’ve been back, he makes a stop here. We toured downtown St. Joe’s Chalk the Block last night and had dinner at the Buck.
Buster approves of Dan… sort of.
Today, we had a hiking and beach day in Saugatuck. It was a great way to refresh after the effort yesterday. We even stopped at Crane’s Pie Pantry for some blueberry streusel pie. We’ll end the weekend with some tacos and maybe even a Lake Michigan sunset. The weekend has been friendly, challenging and fun.
Try to be a badass this week, will ya? You never know what you can do unless you try it!
A beautiful wildflower garden in Benton Harbor….