Friday, July 11, 2014

Winner, winner. Chicken dinner.

The Schmitty train pulled into Grand Ledge, Michigan last weekend to celebrate the 4th with the family of Schmitty #4 and to run the "Duo at The Ledge" Half Marathon. They call it the "duo" because runners can run the half marathon in the morning and then go out and run the 5k soon thereafter. Cheeky monkeys.

The Duo at The Ledge is the very definition of a small town race. And I loved it. Goliath sized races are becoming so overblown (I'm looking right at you Chicago). These small races are where it's at. Everything about the race was easy and low stress. The volunteers were cheerful and everything was top shelf...as far as a small race is concerned. Easy parking, walk-right-up-to-the-table-on-race-day packet pickup, a full pre-race spread with bagels, fruit, sweet rolls and coffee and -- perhaps most importantly -- zero lines for the facilities (ding!). Yet just like any large, commercial, for profit race, the anthem was sung, electronic timing commenced (with immediate race results), there were fully stocked aid stations, a couple of photographers and an announcer at the finish. Perfect.

The course set out on country-ish roads...some of them dirt. It was a lot of fun. Like an fully supported training run on a random Saturday in July. Maybe 120 or so locals toe'd the line for the half. And it was a morning of brotherly love as Schmitty #2 was charged with pacing Schmitty #4 to a half marathon PR. And we had a blast. The miles ticked by, the conversation was light. We were killing it...that is until mile 9.5. A testament to family genetics, Schmitty #4 had that sudden urgent need to pull off into the weeds (there's some word play to be mined here about "runs in the family" but it's currently too wordy...let me work on it and get back to you). Now, I want to make it perfectly clear - there is absolutely no shame in having to answer nature's call during a race...it is the scourge of pro and age groupers a like. I myself have faced the intestinal devil during many a race. That said, my responsibilities as a race pacer ended there. I live by the warriors credo of leaving no man behind....except for "that." And "that" is definitely a you problem not a me problem. I wished him "a good one" and we parted ways.

I cruised on to mile 10 where I happened upon the shiny morning time faces of Jen, Emily (SIL) and my two nephews.  Everyone cheering - well except for Jen who, as only an endurance spouse can, lovingly shouted "What's you're problem! You're running too slow! Go get those guys!" Well played Jen, well played. She said go...so I went, covering the last 5k at right around a 6:55 pace. Which moved me past a couple guys in my age group scoring Schmitty a first ever AG road win. Granted it wasn't a PR and yeah it was a small field but hey, you can only race against the dudes that dare to show up. Go me.

I am happy to report that Schmitty #4 recovered quickly from his detour and was that amount of time off his own PR. Bummer. You ran a great race and The Triathlife salutes you - SALUTE! Next time Schmitty #4 you will conquer the intestinal menace and victory shall be yours!

- HIM

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