Sunshine, Racing and Friends: Mackinac Island

View from our Room

During the holidays, my friend Michele from Lansing texted me about a 5-mile race on Mackinac Island. She and a couple of her friends were going, and she was wondering if I might like to go. Now this was in the middle of snow season, and I had not been running at all. Besides, we were knee deep in Omicron and I couldn’t yet imagine that we’d be able to get together without fear of sharing a deadly virus. But it seemed like a great reason to get my running legs in action once again. Besides, it’s so much fun to spend time with women who enjoy running and cycling and spending time in beautiful places. How could I say no?

We’ve had a very cool spring or a prolonged winter, and it snowed literally 3 weeks ago. I tried to get out and run on warmer days and hit the treadmill on the cooler ones starting in mid-February. I worked myself up to running four miles and then promptly lost interest about two weeks before the race. I figured I could at least walk it, and it really didn’t matter how fast I was. It’d be a nice weekend away in a lovely spot, and I know I’d have fun even if I wasn’t into the run.

Friday Bike Ride…..

I took Friday off and drove the four and 1/2 hours north. The temperature inland was in the high 80s, and the thermometer on my car read 92 degrees 15 minutes away from Mackinaw City. When I stopped the car 15 minutes later at the dock, the temperature had plummeted to 63 degrees. I’ve never seen the temps drop so fast, but the cold Lake Michigan water can definitely dispel the heat. I put on my jacket and boarded with my luggage and my bike.

We stayed at the Chippewa Hotel and had a lovely victorian style suite with a living room opening onto the water. The first thing we did was get on our bikes and cycle the loop around the island. I was freezing even with my jacket and long pants on. But it was a gorgeous sunny day, and the water was emerald green. Being that late in the day, we were the only people riding the loop so we had that gorgeous island all to ourselves. We got to know each other and dodged horse poop until dinner time.

Scenes from the race…..

The next morning was the race, and it was forecast to be windy, cold and rainy. We were all dreading it but determined to enjoy the run. We chatted and fell asleep to a movie around 9:30 PM. When we woke up we were thrilled to see that the forecast no longer showed rain, and we were going to have a sunny and 50 degree race. It was perfect.

The race connected the two forts on the island by circling through the woods and down the coast. The course was hilly but mostly paved, and I was mesmerized by the magical forest that surrounded me. I ended up feeling great and ran most of the course with walk breaks on the uphills. Five miles felt easy for some reason, and I had a blast chatting with people along the way. It seemed like everybody was thrilled with the surprisingly dry morning and in finally getting spring weather in this part of the world.

We spent Saturday shopping, eating, shopping and eating and then shopping and eating some more. Michele introduced us to an amazing bread pudding and then I indulged in a traditional Jamaican Beef Patty for dinner. It was delicious and spicy. It reminded me of the Pasties from the Upper Peninsula, and I made a note that I was going to get one before I got on the road to go home on Sunday.

We went to bed Saturday night exhausted but full and worn out from laughing. It felt so great to do something normal again. It was the first race I’ve attended since March 2020. I had a couple of races planned that spring, and they both were canceled on the same day. I forgot how nice it was to do a destination trip with like-minded friends and have long stretches of time to tell stories and make future plans. Before I left to get my pastie and drive home, we exchanged phone numbers and vowed to find another event this summer. I can’t wait.

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