Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beaver Island Marathon

I don’t exactly remember what time I woke up on race day, it was probably around 6:15.  I think I had set my alarm for later, but given that I fell asleep pretty early, I was rise-and-shine ready at a decent hour.  The start was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. so I had plenty of time to eat a good-sized breakfast and let it digest well before the start: coffee, OJ, oatmeal, and a banana are my typical foods and didn’t change for this day.  The race start was approximately a half mile from my hotel, so not too far, just enough to go out for a morning pre-race warm-up jog.  So after I was dressed and feeling good to get out, I jogged over to the start to see who was already gathered and hanging around the area, the same place where packet pick-up had taken place the day before, inside of an old church.  The area was still very quiet.  It was nearly 8 o’clock but not too many people around.  The half marathon and marathon walkers would begin at 8:00 a.m., but it appeared no one was walking from the looks of things.  It had started raining, and had been gray skies most of the morning, so it appeared that it would be a wet day.  Not so bad, better than hot and humid.  Finally the walkers started at 8 o’clock on the dot, with a somewhat melodramatic kick-off.  A dozen or so people headed out on their journey with virtually no spectators or cheering.

Pre-race: Getting to Beaver Island

Two weeks before Beaver Island Marathon: my CARA running group and I were talking about Boston.  Each of us hoping to someday qualify and run the Boston Marathon, the topic has come up a few times on our early Saturday morning runs.  Currently we are each training for the Chicago Marathon, on October 9, 2011.  However because you have to run a qualifying race before registering for Boston, and Boston registration begins on September 12, 2011 and closes on September 23, 2011 (if space is still available during the 2nd week of registration), that means the race we were all training for would not be applicable for the 2012 running of the Boston Marathon, but rather for 2013.  A couple of the guys had not realized this or looked into registration this far, yet.  I felt like the bearer of bad news for them, since they were initially assuming they would qualify for Boston at Chicago, and be running Boston the following spring.  I did shed a speck of light on the situation by telling them about a couple marathons coming up on 9/3 and 9/4 (two weeks away).  Ordinarily planning for, registering, and finding a hotel for a marathon race can generally take some serious consideration and planning weeks if not months ahead of the race.  Often if it requires overnight stay and travel, it can be quite challenging to book a room in the host city if you wait too long.  I’ve struggled with this up to 8 months in advance, if not further out, as some small towns simply have a limited supply of hotels to meet the need.  But it can often be done on short notice too, as people cancel and things sometimes just open up.  Anyhow, given we had already run 19 & 20-milers so far, it was not out of this world to consider doing a marathon at this point in our training.  And it would also line up with a planned 20-mile run weekend anyway.  Not bad.  Anyway, personally, I had already deliberated this a few weeks before and subsequently dropped the idea after realizing none of the races were closer than a 6-hour drive.  Too much planning for me at the last minute.