Mackinac Island Great Turtle Run

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Saturday, October 26th marked the 18th annual Mackinac Island Great Turtle Run. Why is it called the great turtle you ask? Well because Mackinac Island is said to be “turtle shaped” so there’s your lesson for today. Let me start out by saying that I did not train for this race at all except for a 4 miler I did the week before to make sure I wouldn’t die. The GF thinks I’m crazy… maybe I am… but I’m a crazy guy who wants that turtle medal!

Race day was here and it was cold… VERY cold! The temp was somewhere around 40 degrees, cloudy, and the wind was blowing at 25 mph. It wasn’t “my fingers are numb and frostbit” cold but just enough to make you think “wtf am I doing here?” There were 3000 people between the Half and the 5.7 race all cramming onto the ferries and rushing to packet pick up so it was pretty crowded everywhere you went. I was getting a little frazzled prior to the race start because people tend to piss me off lol. About 10 mins before race start Betsy and I head for the starting line… well we tried to anyways. There was just this HUGE mass of people standing around, most in plain clothes so I assume they were spectators… maybe walkers… but chaotic none-the-less. They could have done a better job by keeping the spectators away from the starting line, it’s not unheard of and they tend to gum things up by being in the way. We ducked behind some bushes and snuck in closer to the start …still a complete mass of total chaos… but at least they were in running attire so we knew we were in the right place. The count down begun and we were off.

I lost the GF in less then 10 seconds as she made it out and I got cut off by about 30 people. Theoretically there was supposed to be 2 waves for the 5.7 but I think everyone just went all at once. Slow people starting off at the front and fast people way in the back so it was a mad dash for position off the gun. 30 seconds into the race there was this giant hill. I knew what hill it was, I’ve walked up it before and trust me it is steep. I ran it without much trouble and for a brief moment at the top of the hill you could see out over the island and into the lake. Then it was a sharp turn and into the woods we go. Now, I remembered the big hill… and I remembered there were a few other hills… but as it turns out …there were A LOT OF FREEKING HILLS!! Every time, I would tell myself “ok you got this! run the whole thing!” and I would… again, and again, and again… but eventually it changed to “maaaaaaybe I should walk this one, and the next one”. Even when I do run, there are no hills, so I was proud to get up as many as I did.

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The pavement turned to dirt and it was now a trail run. By this time I had fallen back quite a bit. Partly because I was tired from all the hills, but also because I was trying to find a good spot with lots of space so I could move about when needed. The woods seemed to be never ending! There were no mile markers so I had no clue how far I had gone. My phone was tracking my run but was in my belt and not accessible. I started to believe that maybe I had only gone a mile because of the hills and this run was going to kill me. The trees were F’ing with my head… for as long as I was in them, I knew I was less then half way done. That’s when it occurred to me that, like an idiot, I didn’t fuel up before the race. I packed some goop, running beans, and a granola bar that were sitting back in our locker. The only thing I had was a rather unsatisfying breakfast 4 hours before and the Gatorade in my water bottle. I was running out of steam.

I no longer noticed the cold anymore. I was wearing 3 layers of shirts which, at first, wasn’t enough but now was killing me. I was burning up, I can’t breathe. It’s very possible I have mild Asthma but I’m not sure. My glasses were fogging and I wanted to peel off all my layers and go topless. Just as I was about to slip into insanity the tree line broke and we stepped out on to the open path by the water. The breeze felt nice, the sun peeked through the clouds, and the view was unbeatable. I had made it out of the woods alive and it was all flat pavement from here on out… I found my second wind!

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This was it! The home stretch. At this point all the seasoned runners had a commanding lead and I was where I belonged with “my peeps”. We all trudged along, running some, walking a little, running some more. I felt comfortable with these people, they felt exactly as I did. I could see it in their faces. We’d crack jokes as we passed things, a “2 mile” marker brought groans for more then one runner around me. “If that was only 2 miles I’m just going to fall down and die right here” one girl said out loud. I laughed out a “yeah no kidding” as we continued on. The end was near I could see arch rock. I even stopped a moment to snap a couple pictures like the tourist I am.

A runner who had already finished was walking back up the course and I caught my eye on the medal. It was bigger then I had imagined it, I believe I even said it out loud. My pace quickened, fueled on by that sweet sweet piece of metal with a string tied around it. There it was! The finish line! Betsy was on the side lines with her phone out to take my picture. I did a little pose as I ran that she, of course, didn’t capture and I mustered up a little sprint to cross over the finish line.

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My time was 1:08:35 and I finished 674 out of 1468 runners. Middle of the pack as I always am. You can see my total stats here. You can also track my run on the course map via the Nike+ app, which fyi I think is the coolest thing ever, by clicking here. All things considered this was a great race. I felt blah and I knew I was going to feel that way because I haven’t been running. It is what it is. I live for the experience, to do something I can tell people about. To receive something that I can display for years to come and look upon and remember.

I’m a collector of memories, fitness is just a side effect on my road to amassing cool stuff. 😉

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