Monday, May 28, 2012

Race Recap: Bayshore Half Marathon

I can’t think of a better way to start this recap than screaming at the top of my lungs… 
I PR’ed!!!

I had no idea what to expect going into the Bayshore Half Marathon. Since my full marathon in early May, I had been pretty relaxed on my training. And I put some weight back on (gasp!). However, the one prize jewel I had was that my run-joy was back.  I was in the zone and truly enjoying my runs again.  In fact, I had a 13-day run streak in my legs heading to the starting line. (Yup, no rest day!)  My run was good. Life was good. And I wanted nothing to mess with that.

As we made the 8 hour trip north to Traverse City, Michigan, my typical pre-race excitement was missing. For the first time ever, I was just ho-hum about the race.  I had no outfit planned. Instead I just shoved a pile of run clothes in my bag.  I had no race plan… and no goal.  I decided to just wing it and have fun.  I learned quickly on Friday that the course scenery alone was a great reason to run this one.  The views were spectacular off Old Mission Peninsula and the race route followed the shoreline for nearly 12 miles.  I love to run along water, but I still wasn’t in “race mode”.

Of course that all changed the minute I stepped into the pack at the starting line.  My adrenaline started pumping and my head became quite clear.  It was perfect race weather – clear sunny skies with temps in the mid-50’s. The wind from previously days had miraculously died overnight.  The course was advertised as flat and fast.  I was well rested and felt good. There really was no reason NOT to go for it. 

The half marathon was a point-to-point race, starting at the end of the peninsula and finishing in Traverse City by Northwestern Michigan College. (The full was an out & back, same route, starting a half hour earlier). The start was quick and quiet.  There were few spectators besides volunteers at the start since the roads were closed.  With only 2200 in the half marathon field, runners spread out quickly over the two lane road.  Congestion was never an issue, which is what draws me to these smaller races. I forgot to put my sunglasses on until mile 2 and my left contact got foggy on me (and stayed that way through the race). The first couple miles felt comfortable, but it always takes me a good 3 miles to get all systems going.
Mile 1 – 8:43
Mile 2 – 8:58
Mile 3 – 8:51

Once I was warmed up, I tried to focus on my form, running efficient and preserving energy for the second half.  People were passing me like crazy, but I held to my steady pace, knowing that I would probably pass many of them later in the race (and I did).  By time I reached mile 6, I was in a PR-state-of-mind (to beat a 1:58:16, which I had managed to run exactly twice in the past couple months).  There was a huge swelling of fans around the halfway point (including my kids and hubby).  It gave me a burst of "feel-good" energy (or maybe it was the GU?), and I popped out an 8:45 mile. 
Mile 4 – 8:53
Mile 5 – 8:56
Mile 6 – 9:05  *GU and water
Mile 7 – 8:45

I tend to converse with myself a lot in the back half of distance races. For the next several miles, I tried to concentrate on every movement (which means I wasn’t gazing around at the beautiful scenery very much).  I focused on working myself just outside my comfort zone. I wanted no regrets or self doubt at the finish. This was my last half-marathon until September and I wanted to end the spring race season well.  Run smart, consistent and strong.
Mile 8 – 8:54
Mile 9 – 8:59
Mile 10 – 9:05 *GU and water… and heavenly ORANGES!

I cannot even express how hard I worked to keep a sub-9 pace in the last three miles. For the first time of the race, I turned on music to provide some bonus energy for the final 5k. In fact, I tried to mind-play with myself that I had just started a 5k rather than closing on a half.  I took each mile at a time.  Mile 11 is always my hardest and worst mile split. I challenged myself to make it strong. The harder I push, the faster I get to 12. And when mile 12 appeared, I thanked my lucky stars gave myself permission to use it up… to have nothing left at the end.  I saw my hubby and kiddos at the final corner as we turned into the campus of Northwestern Michigan College.  

 I love this picture because of Little Girl's face cheering me on.
Mile 12.5

Now that's a PR pose!
There were a couple rolling hills on the final stretch that cut into my quads, but I pushed up and onward with everything I had left.  As I came down the final stretch, I drew off the energy of the crowds.  The top marathoners were still making their way into the finish so every once in awhile there were huge bursts of cheering (as the marathoners soared past me).  We curved into the high school stadium, and as soon as I hit that track, my legs took off for the finish line arch.  When I glanced at my stopwatch thru blurry contacts, I was ecstatic to see a 1:56.  It was far past my expectations for this race.
Mile 11 – 8:58
Mile 12 – 8:56
Mile 13 – 8:47
Mile 0.10 - :48

I had to pause for a moment after the finish to catch my breathe. I had hoped to break into the 1:57’s and went right past it. I was exhausted, but giddy beyond belief!  The thrill of a new PR never gets old.  I thrive on pushing my limits and constantly proving to myself that I am capable of more.  I ran a near perfect race – smart, well-paced and well-fueled. No blisters, chaffing and mild soreness the following day. In my heart, I believe it was the best I had that day. My smile was huge as I exited the finish chute… and searched for the Moomer’s ice cream!!

Official Chip Time: 1:56:44
(8:54 pace)
#40 out of 242  Division F35-39
#610 out of 2204  Overall
State of Michigan done in my quest to Race All 50.

EVENT NOTES: The Bayshore Marathon is a tough event to secure a race bib. On opening day of registration, their website was completely overloaded and it took nearly 20 times for my registration to go through properly.  The half marathon sold out in hours; the full and 10k followed shortly thereafter.  With such great demand, I had high expectations of the event.  The course was indeed the drawing point and worth the $80 entry fee. Pre-race communication was good, with monthly newsletters to keep you up to date. I was amused by the stern directions. Packet pickup on Friday night was quick with only a couple stations inside the high school gym. Parking and traffic were a nightmare though, since there a 5k being held at the same time. The morning of the race took tricky coordination – to bus over 2000 runners to the start of the half marathon (individual dropoff was pretty much impossible with the closed roads).  The lines to load the buses were insanely long.  We waited for nearly 40 minutes to board a bus… and then another 30 in the porta-potty line when we reached the starting area. Once the race started, I enjoyed the Bayshore… large visible mile markers, superb course, and great volunteers throughout the race. I was early through the aid stops, but they were well stocked with water, Gatorade, GU gels/chews and fruit. I’d be curious how they held up for the 4:30 marathoners?  I have to say that this course is a tough one for family to move around to see their runner. To catch me at the halfway point, my hubby drove out the peninsula’s main road and then had to load up onto a spectator bus to even get close to the race course. (Even the side roads were closed.) As they came back into TC, traffic was so busy that they barely caught me before my finish.  The post-race party had plenty of the standard food – bagels, bananas, chocolate milk, cookies, oranges… and ice cream! The finishing chute got runners off the track fast and into a large area where they could meetup with family.  The bonus for families was the two big playgrounds to entertain the kiddos.  Overall, I give the Bayshore a B+, heavily influenced by the PR worthy course. 

Special Thanks to Becky, founder of Sexy Mom's Running Club 
for her wonderful hospitality to my family while we visited her 
hometown of Traverse City.  It was so nice to finally meet you.
Thank you, thank you!!


  1. Congratulations on your PR! Way to go!

  2. SO awesome and proud of you! Such beautiful pictures and an amazing job! Lets talk about whats really important tho ... what skirt is that? :)

    1. LOL... it's a SkirtSports skirt - although I don't think they make that pattern anymore...

    2. I couldnt find it but figured it was! :) Darn it .. so cute! Great job again i got my shirt too LOVE LOVE LOVE! Thank you again! :)

  3. Absolutely amazing! Scream that PR girl!

  4. Way to go! Very nice unplanned PR!

  5. It's thrilling just to read your race. Great job!

  6. Woohoo! Congratulations Jess!

  7. Awesome job on the PR! Way to go!

  8. Way to go!! You did awesome! I'm a MUCH slower runner than you, but I ran my 1st 10k today (virtual) and loved it. Now I'm hooked-I have GOT to sign up for a 10k race!


  9. Congratulations on the PR!! Sounds like it was a beautiful race!

  10. Congratulations!! It sounds like an amazing race - and great ultimate time :)

  11. Yay!! Love the skirt, I had tried to order it a while ago and it was out of stock for my size :(

  12. Congrats on your PR, especially in spite of your contact lens malfunction! I wear contacts too and can only imagine how annoying that must have been for 13.1 miles...way to power through it!

  13. Congrats on your new pr!!! You're just collecting them left and right this year!!

  14. Congrats on a new PR! You are on a roll!

  15. YAY PR!! The scenery does look amazing.

  16. Great job! Way to rock it!


  17. Woo!!! Awesome PR Jess! Your mid-race love of oranges cracks me up... maybe you need to design a special orange slice holder so you never have to go without! :)

  18. Congrats on the PR! I love all the great photos that you got at this race.

  19. Congrats on the PR and for running such an evenly tuned race :)

  20. Congratulations on the PR! I love the Traverse City area and haven't checked off Michigan yet, so maybe I'll have to consider this one since it does look beautiful!

  21. Congrats on a great race and a great PR! It is so awesome when everything just works ... training pays off, nutrition is solid, pacing strategy is on target, and you have FUN! Love reading your report and seeing all the smiley race pics.

  22. Congratulations on your PR!

  23. Jess, just found your review on Bayshore which I'm doing next month :) - thank you!!! BTW do you have a hotel recommendation??


    1. Ah! I can't remember the name of our hotel -- but it was across the main road from Dick's Sporting Goods. haha... funny I remember that part. I really liked the hotel though - balconies off the rooms and a nice outdoor fireplace area that we sat around at night.


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