Only mad dogs and runner go out in this weather but I saw foot prints in the snow of a few other runners so I'm not the only idiot. It took two miles to warm up but the last three were rather comfortable except for my two ring fingers. Weird.
The Moab marathon was a blast...in my mind’s rearview mirror. The whole thing was struggle but it was worth it. Wait, that’s a lie. The whole marathon wasn’t a struggle, only the first 23 miles. The last three miles were no problem because I dropped out with three miles to go. Why not just walk those last 3 miles and finish? Just because.
All smiles at the start.
Because…I wake up at 4:30 am on the day before to drive to the St. Louis airport. Road constructions delays my drive but I get to the airport on time. My flight to Denver and to Salt Lake are uneventful except for the turbulence over the front range of the Rockies. Thrifty car rental upgrades me from a compact to a crossover only because I don’ think they really have any compact cars. I call mom on my way to Provo to pick up Erin. She’s in a good mood but does mention that Monday would be a good day to die. Her comment reminds me of Chief Dan George in Little Big Man. Note to self: watch Little Big Man again soon.
Erin's picture looking up Pritchett's canyon
Pritchett's Canyon with runners below and above.
Tom's photo of Bill, me and the rest of the ants
Tom snapped this of me. The trail was very well marked.
Three Amingo with Hunter's Canyon in the background.
My favorite part of the run overlooking Hunter Canyon.
Erin is ready to go. We drive through Wendy’s for food and Dr. Peppers and head south to Moab. The drive is full of good conversation, bad drivers, and scenery much different from Illinois. We stop in Price to pick up essentials (more Dr. Pepper, bananas, and bagels) at the Walmart. We pull into Moab around 6:00 and meet Tom and Shelly at the race “expo” a Milt’s Stop and Eat. What Milt’s is is a walk up ice-cream and burger place and not a convention center. It’s all outdoors with no expo just race bid numbers, packets full of typical stuff, and an ugly T-shirt. If you think of the Chicago Marathon race expo at McCormick center and imagine the exact opposite, you have the Moab Trail Marathon non-expo at Milts. There’s good ice-cream, at Milt’s though. Well, that’s what I was told. I did eat there back in 1990 during my only other trip to Moab to try out my new Jamis mountain bike with Bill, Tom and Jim. Moab has changed sine 1990.
Bill and me running down Tom.
After spending a total of 5 minutes at the “expo” we drive to the Hampton Inn and check into the room next to Tom and Shelly’s. Sensing I may not be up to driving back to Provo after the marathon, I ask if there are rooms available for the next night but they’ll full. So I reserve a room at the cheap and, I’m sure more super, Super 8 up the road. Bill drives in from his cabin rental and we all go to Zax for pizza and a lot of laughter. “Did you just say, “Thank-you?”. We catch a little of the Aggie’s victory over the Cowboys in rainy Laramie but Saturday’s forecast for Moab is perfect running weather.
Erin (aka E-ran) looking strong.
Because…I sleep well for a couple hours but after that I awake every hour until I finally just get up at 5:30. We don’t need to leave the hotel until 7:30 and the race doesn’t begin until 8:45. It’s a shame to leave all the sleep in a decent hotel bed. I’m too much like my mom. Maybe I have restless leg syndrome? Tom and Shelly eat waffles in the hotel lobby while Erin and I stick with DP, banana, bagel and I add a PowerBar. Bill arrives at the hotel all rested for a carpool trip to the start. We were told if we carpooled (three or more people) we could park near the start. However, we are directed to park with the non-carpoolers about a quarter mile from the start. Tom and Bill recount their 20 mile bike ride on part of the trail we are to run on and how Tom bonked real hard. Do I hear ominous music in the background?
Tom running through the wall!
By the time we walk to the start and stop at the Port-a-potties it’s time for Bill, Tom, Erin and me gather in the start corral. Shelly decides to give us all a head start and begins in the following group. It’s chilly but I throw away my throw-away-shirt before we begin. We take a couple of selfies and we’re off! Sunny skies, crisps air, red sandstone and yellow autumn leaves. It couldn't be more beautiful and only a few things distract me from the dessert splendor. The first distraction was the number of runners. There were more than I expected so there’s the usual maneuvering in and around people up the first few miles of Pritchett Canyon. It’s a little more challenging being a trail marathon with limited places to pass or be passed. Erin hangs with us for first few mile but eventually, Bill and Tom’s pace separate us. However, we do we see her later on. The view at the top of the canyon is amazing, especially rearward down the canyon. It’s nearly impossible to not want to stop and take pictures so we and just about everyone else do just that. I’m motivated to move on knowing we have a downhill ahead of us. I buzz around a few of the slower pokes on the down hill and then we hit a nice flat portion which provides a great view of Pritchett’s Arch. Along the way, Bill chats with a lady from Long Island who is running her first marathon with her ultra marathon running friend until we arrive at the first aid station.
Bill after the turn around in Hunter's Canyon.
A little further on, more pictures are taken as we run above Hunter’s Canyon. I meet a guy from Kansas City who used to work for Sprint and shares my challenge of training for a mountainous, Utah, marathon in the Midwest. The next mile or two is the most enjoyable for me. The trail is mostly flat but winds up and down, over and around rocks all while looking out over Hunter Canyon. A this time I’m jealous of Molly because I want to look at the trail with one eye and the scenery with the other. But, my oscillating gazes comes to stop when we hit a traffic jam. A traffic jam? There’s no traffic jams in marathons! But we end up waiting in a line for 20-30 minutes waiting to descend through two large rock to the trail 8 feet below. Volunteers are helping the runners through, but it’s slow going. We look back and see Erin waiting in line a little ways behind us. This log jam is my second frustration but it gives me time to ponder; should I continue on with Tom and Bill and or wait for Erin and switch to the half marathon. It’s a tough call. My legs are already feeling like I’m at mile 19 but it’s only mile 9. As I’m pondering my future, out of the blue, Bill sings out, “Jitter bug” just like he was Georg Micahels from Wham. I thought Tom was going to roll down the mountain with laughter. One, it was so random and two, since when does Bill know a Wham song? Did Emmy Lou Harris cover Wake Me Up Before You Go Go? Still waiting in line, a short, 20 something girl behind Bill asks him if she can have a drink from one of his water bottles. It’s an odd request since we can see the next aid station in the canyon below. But, it’s also a scary request since with a long, green flow of snot coming out of one of her nostrils and a little bit a foam in each corner of her mouth. Bill reluctantly agrees and is relieve that the bottle didn’t touch her mouth but we’re all creeped out for the rest of our lives. We approached the bottle neck and scurry down and continue on. Eventually, a different volunteer arrives who knew something and showed runners a second route that speed things up by the time Shelly arrived.
Erin's view from the line.
This is what caused the traffic jam.
The annoying wait gave me a false sense of respite that tricked me into deciding I might as well finish what I started. Oh, boy. So with determination, or was it confusing, in my head and not much in my legs, I turned left instead of right towards miles 10 through 23. After a short jot down a dirt road we are required to run an out-and-back section in Hunter’s Canyon. Up to this point, Tom and Bill would run ahead of me take pictures while I leap frogged pass them and then catching back up to me. But towards the turn around point, I finally got out my phone and took a couple of pictures of Tim and Bill. The canyon was pretty but it was a single track trail with runners going up and down the trail with little room for passing. Frustration number three. Going up, I considered reversing course at the end of the out and back and joining the half marathoners. But, since we were almost to mile 14 I figured it won’t be that much shorter. Going left out of the canyon meant 13 more miles. Going right, 5 more miles. Now I’m no math major but but Bill in a math minor and he’s my brother so I know that’s an eight mile difference. Note to self: don’t try to do math while running.
Looking up Burned Wall
Looking back down Burned Wall
View from the top.
Sensing trouble, I down a Hammer Endurolytes at the mile 14 aid station but I should have taken two…or three…or four. We run through some tall willows or whatever and emerge to see a mile and a half ascent cut diagonally up Burned Wall. Looking up at what’s ahead a few bad words came into my head and likely out of my mouth. With no other option I push upward with Bill and Tom right behind me. The first quarter was okay, of course I walked the entire distance, as do most of the runners at this point. Did the leaders actually run up this entire section? They must have. Show offs. I reassure myself with the thought that after this accent i’s mostly downhill. That thought helps but then my calves began to cramp up. Angry calves with 11 miles to go? Great. Bill slips me a couple extra Endurolytes which help get me to the top. And, oh what a from there! Maybe not entirely worth the pain to get there but the view is amazing. And, I’m glad because Bill and Tom didn’t seem to mind taking a lot of pictures. The more pictures, the more rest for my legs. Tom even got cell reception so he sent a message to Shelly telling her how slow we, or I, were/was going but it never got to her. At this point, Shelly and Erin had already finished and were waiting for us at the finish line.
With over 10 miles to go we needed to move on so we head northeast towards the mile 17.5 aid station. It’s mostly flat here so my legs aren’t cramping and I felt better until about mile 16 when my calves balled up into tight little bundles. Bill and Tom waited for me, once again, and we snapped a few pics just before mile 17 aid station where were we greeted by a Sammy Hagar look-a-like and another volunteer. While we ate and drank the second volunteers told us the story about the race director, Danelle Ballengee, who, while out of a run, fell and broke her hip just above where we are. She crawled down into the ravine nearby for water but was too injured to crawl out. Fortunately, she was running with her dog, who eventually went one down the canyon and led the rescuers to her. It’s an amazing story. (http://www.runnersworld.com/running-with-dogs/dogged?page=single) I would have enjoyed listening to more stores from these two volunteers but that would only prolong things. I jogged about a mile after the aid station, passed Bill and Tom talking to a biker, but then they caught up to me, pass me and continue onward up a slight incline. Meanwhile, my legs were done. I was done. Too bad because this part of the trail would was mostly on rock with the trail marked by white paint strips.
Tom took this picture of Bill and me with Jackson Hole (not Wyoming) in the background.
Unknown runner getting through a tight spot near mile 17.
Bill is up there somewhere taking....
...this picture of Tom below heading to the mile 17.5 aid station.
The medial side of Bill’s knee is bothering him but he and Tom tap out a nice pace to the next aid station while I walk. Every attempt to jog causes an instant rebellion in my calves. Even my right chest muscle cramps a little bit and my left and right arms started to tingle. During this stretch a few mountain bikers passed me going the other way and each one told me “good job” or something similar. It’s nice of them to try and be encouraging but I new better. Just like a couple of faithful dogs, Bill and Tom are waiting for me at the mile 20 aid station. I thought they’d go ahead but Bill was chatting it up with one of the volunteers and Tom was eating orange slices that looked like lemons; no orange on them at all. They were completely yellow. But, they did taste like oranges and they were tasty oranges.
Unknown runner with the LaSal Mountain's in the background.
All three of us left the aid station together but I told Bill and Tom that I was quitting at mile 23 when I got to the finish line. I was not going to the last 3 mile loop. With his bum knee, Bill said he’d do that same so Tom left us behind and charged onward to complete the full Monty, er marathon. Bill and I walked the last 2 miles above the Colorado river until we got to the finish area where we turned in our bibs, found Erin and Shelly, got some soup and waited for Tom. By this time, Erin and Shelly had been waiting four hours and Erin was a little sun burned. I felt bad they so long rather than driving back to the hotel to shower but how were they to know how darn slow I was going to be? I must have held Bill and Tom up by at least an hour or more. Runners are a loyal bread of human. Tom returned from the loop, made the steep ascent and crossed the finish line in 7:30. Well done, Dudley!
Tom climbing to the finish line that is just to the right of the picture.
We drove back to the Hampton where Bill showered and hit the road for home around 5:00 pm. Erin and I drove to the (not so super) Super 8, checked in, showered and met Tom and Shelly for dinner. I had a buffalo burger and sweet potato fries. Perfect. We wanted to buy a Moab T-shirt we would actually wear but all the stores were closed by the time were done eating. We did stop for some frozen yogurt before returning to the (still not so super) Super 8 and a super friendly front desk manager, I’ll call him Cam, who told us about breakfast in the morning. “It’s Continental but it’s yummy.” When I stopped by later that evening to pick up an iron he responded, “Dressing up, eh?” None of your business, Mr. Yummy. I took a couple Tylenol PM and one more at 1:00 am and slept very well, thank-you very much.
Because I turned left I saw beautiful scenery and learned my brothers are more mountain goats than I’ll ever be but they are very loyal goats. I learned Erin and Shelly were wise women to sign up for the half marathon. And they too, are very loyal wise women. I learned that on long runs, it’s important to run with someone who is loyal to you whether it be brothers, sisters, daughters, dogs or even goats. I also learned, or relearned, that sometimes you do thing for the ‘association’ and good association—in a car, in a restaurant, and particularly on the trail—can make rough times most enjoyable.
Yesterday my left Morton's toenail fell off, only two and a half weeks after the Grand Island Trail Marathon. That's a record for me. Usually my toenails hang in there for months post-marathon. This one, however, was surrounded by a color blood blister which must have hastened the demise of the nail. But, alas, no pictures of my nail-less toe. Instead, here are two pictures from my seven mile morning run on the Panther Trail with my new Merrell All Out Fuse shoes. I'm still getting used to the 6 mm heal-to-toe drop but I love the roomy toe box and their light 8 ounces weight.
When: July 26, 2014 Who: Lesa and Me Recall: Can't see the lake for the trees but who cares? Overall: Great weekend with a fantastic marathon in the middle. Rating: 5/5 carbs
Lesa is such a good sport. She not only puts up with my running shenanigans but is the best support team ever. This year she let me celebrate my 30th marathon by driving with me all the way up to Munising in the upper peninsula of Michigan to run the Grand Island Trail Marathon. I've had my eye on this marathon for a few years finally this year it all worked out.
After work on Thursday we drove 4 hours to Milwaukee. Along the way we finished a murder mystery audiobook, Still Life by Louise Penny that takes place in rural Canada. I really liked it.
Friday morning we hoped to go on a Laverne and Shirley tour of Milwaukee but it was German Days and we didn't want to fight the crowds. So we headed northward with a new audiobook, The Crossing Places by Ellys Griffiths, a murder mystery set in Scotland. We can't help notice that the corn of Illinois is replaced by tall trees in Wisconsin. As we drive through Green Bay, Lesa understands why they love their Packers so much—there's nothing else to get excited about in Green Bay. The forest become thicker in Michigan where we stopped for lunch here...
...the Swedish Pantry in downtown Escananba, MI.
Our course I carbohydrate loading with Swedish pancakes covered in spiced peaches. Lesa had the same but covered in strawberries. Inside, the restaurant's walls are covered in nicknacks. Very similar to a B and B in Still Life. We opted not for a new clock or an 'Uff Da" tile but we did purchase a couple of huge cookies.
"No, thank-you Escanaba!"
Little Bay de Noc at the upper end of Lake Michigan
We stopped for fuel and Lesa found the perfect yooper headwear. Yooper = in reference to things of the upper (i.e. UPer) peninsula of Michigan.
First speeding ticket in over 25 years. Uff da. Oh well, my heart is lightened as we pull into beautiful (?) Munising, home to one paper mill and 2000 people. We check intothe Holiday Inn Express which is only a quarter mile from the ferry to Grand Island. It's also were I pick up my race packet and Lesa buys tickets for the ferry and bus ride on the island that take spectators to three of the aid stations during the marathon. Not wanting to waste a moment of time in the Yooper, we set out to explore the streets of Munising and after two gift shoppes and one bookstores, we're done. We've seen it all. We pick up our tickets and the lady at the counter gushes over how pretty Lesa looks. Yes, I won the beautiful wife lottery!
Luckily, with nothing left to see in town, it's time to board our three hour tour (Lesa points out that the S.S. Minnow was schedule for a three hour tour as well) of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Amongst our group are no obvious millionaires with or without a wife, no movie starts, but there is a professor of Kinesiology (me) who will be of no use if we shipwreck.
The cruise is nice and peaceful. The boat is slow, 13 mph, but what else are we going to do in Munising? Here are some of the pictures we took from the cruise.
It's hard to see but right in the middle of the tree line is our hotel. Unfortunately we didn't have a lake view room but it's better than the Super 8 which is where we were going to stay until a room became available at the Holiday Inn.
On the left is Munising, MI and the land to the right is Grand Island. The ferry across to Grand Island is only half a mile.
The East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island. Constructed in 1868 and restored in 2000. I think it's privately own by the group of people who have houses on the island.
I got this picture off the internet.
The first major feature along Picture Rocks National Lakeshore is Miners Castle. There's a e walked out to it on Saturday after the marathon.
Lovers Leap but don't try it. The water underneath is only a few feet deep.
Rainbow Cave. Not as impressive as Rainbow Arch but what is?
With the surrounding earth washed away, a large root systems (left of the tree) extends over the water to the shore to keep the tree alive. Amazing.
Also found online, this picture shows the tree and it's lifeline root from the shore.
The sandstone that makes ups the pictured rocks extends from the UP south but underground into KY and back up into the LP. Glaciers may be slow but they can do amazing things.
A tree hanging on for dear life.
Sunset on Lake Superior
Kind of like Lake Powell but with trees.
Unfortunately, the batteries in both our phones died near the end of the cruise so we didn't get pictures of an amazing double rainbow. It was the most vibrant, brilliant rainbow I have ever seen and will never forget. These two rainbow pictures were taken in the Munising area and look like the rainbow we saw over the Pictured Rocks.
The cruise ended at 9:00 pm so we just grabbed Subway sandwiches and ate them in the room while watching Modern Family reruns. I also ate my huge cookie from the Swedish Pantry.
Ready to roll. The ticket stabled in the upper left corner is for the ferry ride.
We woke up at 4:00 am just because. I caught the 5:25 bus from the hotel to the ferry. I met runners from Michigan (of course), California and Arizona. Our ferry got us to the island only a few minutes before the start time of 6:00 but the race director gave us time to get ready. Lesa would catch a later bus and meet hopefully see me at one of the three aid stations on their route.
I was in the 6:00 start group, or the group for "special" (i.e. slow runners). We had a 1 hour head start on the real runners and half marathoner. There were about 160 total marathon runners and we must have been about 50 or 70 in our group. The first few pictures below were taken "on the run".
The course started on dirt roads like this...
...but most of it was on old double lane roads that were more like two lane running trails. This was taken on the out and back section on the thumb of the island to Muskrat point. The entire section was a canopy of trees. I never did see the lake on this section. In fact, I didn't see the lake much at all except for the beach portion (below) which surprised me. I expect more lake vistas but the shady course was cool (literally) and beautiful.
The most surprising thing was that the volunteers at the aid stations were decked out from head to tow in anti-mosquito gear. Poor Lesa's ankles are proof that they were thick. All aid stations were stocked with bug repellant.
All runners were required to carry a water bottle since there were no cups at the aid stations. Only pictures full of Hammer HEED ready to refill your bottle. And, it was nice to leave the aid station without the trail lined with discarded cups. In fact, littering was an automatic disqualification. Reconnect with the earth, is the marathons motto.
After the first aid station I picked up the pace. My goal was to reach the mile 16 or 17 aid station by 9:00 before Lesa and the other spectators who have to leave. I thought this was the only aid station they would be at so I hated for Lesa to endure the long waits and not be able to see me on the course. Well, my legs felt good so I was optimistic.
A ranger offered to take my picture with Trout Bay in background. I look like I'm hoping he just doesn't drop my phone in the sand. Sand? Yes, we ran on sand. In the next picture you can see the trail leading on to the beach and then a view of the beach we ran on.
Fortunately the sand was wet and packed making it somewhat easy to run on except for the nasty slope to the right. The flattest part was near the water so I did get my feet a little wet but it wasn't too bad. I'm just glad it was only for half a mile or less.
This borrowed picture from the web is what running that section of beach is like during sunnier times.
While waiting for me, Lesa snapped some gorgeous pictures around the island.
Lake Superior is cold even in July but Lesa was willing to get her feet wet. I'm sure while she was waiting she was singing, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot...or not. Assuming she was, I'm going to throw some lyrics underneath the following pictures.
"the big lake they call Gitche Gumee"
"The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay"
Note: this is not Whitefish bay but there is a Whitefish Point Marathon. Next year?
"Superior sings in the rooms of her ice-water mansion"
"The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead"
Finally, I appear at the mile 9 aid station where Lesa is patiently waiting with the rest of the spectators.
Wait, is that the wreck of the John Dudley Emmett?
I wasn't expecting to see her at the mile 9 aid station and she was too busy taking pictures to yell at me so I kept pushing forward to get to the mile 17 aid station by 9:00.
"Yes, I will go slow. You don't need to remind me."
At mile 12 I was passed by the fist runner from the 7:00 group. At mile 13 I was passed by the second runner from that group. I also started to feel a little pain from second toe on my left foot. It's the longest of the left foot toes. This is the first marathon in a pair of Salomon shoes I bought last fall. It will also be the last. Oh, well. Tally-ho.
These are the cliffs the sign above is referring to. Note the clear water below.
Between miles 4 and 16 the only people passing me were a few of the fast 7:00 runners. My legs felt great and I was close to a 10:00 per mile pace. The course is not near as hilly as the Tecumseh Marathon with really only four major incline. I did walk up the hills at mile 4 and 8 to save my legs for later and I also walked up the hills at mile 16 and 18 because I hadn't save enough. Plus, after not seeing Lesa at mile 17 I figured I better slow down a little (I know. It's hard to slow down from an already glacial pace but it was possible) over the last 9 miles.
The course peaked at mile 21 and I continued to feel good until a my calves started to twitch and then cramp up. Oh, well. I snapped this picture as I stopped to stretch them out around mile 23 or 24.
Shoreline on the west side of the island.
The bus got Lesa back to the finish just about 30 minutes before I sauntered in. She captured this picture of me 'flying to the finish'. Note the absence of blurring.
According to my iPhone I covered 26.2 miles before I got to the finish line. I'll trust the race director and not the GPS capabilities on a yooper island.
Just chilling my bones in the coldest but cleanest of the great lakes, and now my personal favorite. I went all the way under to wash off and to be able to say I was 'baptized' in Lake Superior. (So the lake does give up her dead) Not that it mattered to me, but it started to rain while I was in the lake. "Oh, there's lightening? Okay, I'll get out."
After my Lake Superior bath, I take my shoes off to find a large blood blister on the second toe of my left foot. Yuck. Time to retire the new trail shoes.
My poor Morton's toe partially covered.
[Morton's foot, Greek foot, "Royal toe", "LaMay toe", "Sheppard's toe" or Morton's syndrome,long toe is the condition of a shortened first toe in relation to the second toe.]
I slip on my comfy Chaco sandals (made in Michigan?) and we get in line for the ferry back to the mainland. The line is long. People say there wasn't a wait in years past. We're not sure if it's because of the rain or they are low on boats but we figure we'll have to have for 3-4 more round trips of the single ferry boat before we get off the island. Then a 12 year old kid asks us if we'd like a ride on a pontoon. Sure, I think. Is this a joke? No, just some nice guy who willing was helping transport runners and spectators on his little six passenger boat. But why did he ask us? We were in the middle of the line. I think he looked at me and figured I looked closest to death than any of the other runners in line so it would be best to get me off the island as soon as possible.
Finishers medal and shirt. Comments on marathon guide.com complain about under sized shirts (not this year) and cheap finishers medals. We'll they are hand made from wood but I'll take it.
It was about noon when we got back to the hotel and we had already check out so I washed up and changed in their restroom. I was not hungry at all so we drove outside of town to see pictured rocks from the mainland. We walked 0.6 miles into see Miners Falls...
...and then drove a little further to see Miners Castle.
The water below Miners Castle
Crystal clean water.
View from the lookout on Miners Castle
Annoying loud "water snowmobiles."
Panorama view from Miners Castle. In the distance is Grand Island.
I loved this icon. It looks like a snowboarder to me but it gets the point across.
Finally, I was hungry so we considered our Munising eating options and vetoed the popular Li'l Abner themed restaurant and opted for a local pizza parlor called Main Street pizza. Not too bad. We took the leftovers with us and hit the road. Lesa drove us through Green Bay and Appleton to Madison where we stayed the night before driving home the next day.
Lesa and me in Madison on the shore of Lake Mendota. Apparently marathons make my forehead grow longer. Not the best picture of Lesa, the LOML, who is a beautiful as ever.
Overall the marathon did not disappoint. The trail was easier than I expected and while there weren't as many views of the lake as I thought, the course was gorgeous. It would have been nice to have sunny skies for sight seeing but I can't complain about running a marathon in July in 50-60 degree temps and cloudy skies. The sight seeing cruise was a little long (neither one of us brought any snacks) but well worth it. The only down side was the limited eating options in Munising but that's a easy trade off for the incredible scenery.