Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birthday Racing

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year so, early in the year, I began looking for events on that day.  I found out that the Mackinac Island 8 mile race was on my birthday so I registered for it.  I've always wanted to go up there and run it, this was the inspiration I needed, I guess!    It's in the upper peninsula of Michigan, it's an island accessible by ferry and there are no cars on the island.  Taxis are horse drawn and bikes are the most popular way to tour the island.  I love Mackinac Island; my family went there often when I was growing up.  My Dad is an airplane pilot so we flew up there for the day several times each summer.  We also drove to Mackinaw City and took the ferry over several times. 
I learned that the ferries go a lot faster now than what they used to go!  It's a 16 minute ride over where it used to be about 45 minutes, if I remember right.  I'll have to ask my parents if they remember how long the ride was back then. 
I went up on Friday and took the ferry over.  I took my bike with me too.  My hotel was just across the street from the ferry dock!  I knew it was close from their website but I didn't realize that it was right there!  Everything on Mackinac Island is old but well maintained.  The hotels aren't the steel and glass structures we are used to today.  My hotel looked like a large house.  It has three floors and no elevator.  I had an actual key that you put into the lock and turn!  No modern key cards.  My room was on the third floor so I had a climb every time I went up to it.
The Windermere Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI

The stair case, I climbed 3 floors every time

The door to the room
(don't know why the color is really off in this picture, it's yellow walls and white door)

Old school key

The race took place at Mission Point Resort.  When I booked the hotel, I put the address of my hotel and the address of Mission Point in mapquest directions, it came out as being .1 (one-tenth) of a mile apart so I figured I'd just walk over in the morning.  Turns out, they are 1 mile apart.  That's quite a discrepency!  It's no big deal since I had my bike with me.
Shortly after I checked in, I took off on my bike for Mission Point to pick up my packet.  I was surprised to see that the bibs had names printed on them!  I didn't know that they would.  The bib also had gender and age printed in the lower corner.  I told the worker that my age was wrong because I wouldn't be 51 until 7 pm Saturday evening!!  I think she thought I was serious even though I never intended to come across that way! 
I had dinner at a restaurant near my hotel and walked around the main part of town for a while looking in the shops and scoping out the fudge and ice cream options for the next day after my race!  Fudge is big on Mackinac Island.  It was when I was a kid and still is.  I'm not sure why or how that got started but I don't think very many people leave Mackinac Island without fudge!  It's the thing to buy there!
Back at my hotel, I took my Kindle Fire downstairs to one of the rooms they have down there by the lobby.  There are no TVs in the rooms of this hotel, just one in one of the downstairs rooms.  Also, the wireless internet is only in those areas too.  I went down there to check Facebook, read some blogs, and check the  newspapers to make sure nothing outrageous happened back here.  I could hear other people talking about the race in the morning.  Around 10pm I went back up to my room.  This race started at 9:30 am.  It was so odd not having to set the alarm for 5 or earlier on a race day!  The windows were open and the sound of the big Clydesdale horses hoofs is something I have to say that I don't hear every day!
Race morning was sunny and 68 degrees.  I woke up to the sound of the horse hooves!  They begin early.  I looked out the window and it was wagons with what looked liked supplies for the restaurants, hotels, or whatever.  It wasn't the wagons that transport people.  It was so odd not having to get up early.  Finally, it was time to get up and get ready to go.  I rode my bike to Mission Point Resort, locked it up, figured out where the start line was located.  I got a picture of myself against the backdrop of the lawn at Mission Point and Lake Huron.
Before the race
I checked my bag and then headed down a lot of steps to the start line.
I had a goal of 1:10 for the 8 miles.  I had a super secret goal that I never told anyone of running the race at an 8:40 pace.
I got off to a slow start, too many people!  As usual, the first half mile or so was spent weaving through 11, 12+ minute runners and even walkers.  I guess I should have started farther up.  The beginning of the race went right down main street, the main town part of the island where most of the shops and restaurants are.  It was interesting to look at the people on the sidewalks.  Some were wondering what the heck was going on!  To someone who doesn't run, it must be very puzzling to see a herd of 1500+ people running down the street.  I ran past my hotel right on the far edge of the town and then we were on M-185, the road that circles the perimeter of the Island, also called Lake Shore Drive.  My first mile came in at 8:35.  There was a man who was around me during much of the race.  He was talking to people the whole time.  I was passing him at one point and he said that I was running a good pace or something like that.  I replied with, "pretty good for such an old lady!"  I told him that it was my birthday and he thought it was really cool that I was running a race on my birthday.  He was either in front of or behind me for a lot of the race and he just talked the whole time.  I found out that he is from Tennessee.  I did pretty good, I didn't hear Garmy beep every mile but those I did hear were all below my target pace of 8:40.  The last two miles got tough.  I don't think I heard the beep for mile 6 but mile 7 came in at 8:58.  After that, I just tried to keep it under 9 minutes.  I wasn't worried about 8:40 anymore, I just wanted to keep it under 9 minutes.  I felt like I was going so slow and was moving as fast as I could force myself.  (Later when I could look at my mile splits in Garmy's history, I found out that my last mile was an 8:35!)  Finally, I was on the home stretch!  The course veered off the road onto a dirt path that went right down to the shore of the lake and finished there.  When I stopped Garmy after crossing the finish line, she read 1:09:29!!  I came in under 1:10!
race results! 

I was beat; that last mile was tough.  I started to look around for the man from Tennessee who talked the whole time out there but didn't see him.  He got ahead of me in the 7th mile when I slowed down quite a bit to 8:58.  I looked all over around the food tables but never saw the guy again.  I'm sure that he kept me going out there. 
I had some water and several orange wedges and went to look at the results.  My time was 1:09:24 and an 8:40 average!!!  I could hardly believe it!!  I placed 6th in my age group!!  I never expected to place that high in my age group. 
I got my bag from gear check and went out to find my bike and got an after picture of myself:

runner #244, 1:09:24, 6th in age group F50-54
I went back to my hotel, showered and then was off to find some lunch; I was starving.  I had scoped out the restaurants the night before looking for some good seafood, the menus are displayed outside the doors.  I had my lunch and was planning on leaving when I was done because I had plans for ice cream at another place.  The waitress surprised me with this:
birthday cupcake
It was a chocolate cake with gooey chocolate in the middle and also caramel with raspberry sauce.  It was really good!  I had told her it was my birthday earlier when she asked me if I had run the race!  I was one happy girl!!  Ice cream could wait until after supper now! 
Well, I think this post is long enough for now!  I will write about the rest of my weekend in another post.
I did have quite a good birthday!  Several things happened that made turning 51 less tragic!

Runner Nerd
ran 8 miles in 1:09:24


  1. Sounds like you had a nice race and a nice time. Happy Belated Birthday! :)

    1. Thank you! Hitting my goal made turning 51 less tragic!!

  2. What a great way to celebrate your birthday! I've always wanted to do that race, glad you had so much fun. Do you have any more pics from up there? I haven't been up there in ages, since I was little.

    1. It was fun! Next year I want to go up there in October for their half marathon! I do have a few more pics; I need to write more about the rest of my weekend.
      Next year my birthday falls on Sunday so I'll be on the lookout for September 7th races again!