The day of after Christmas this past year I was in a funk. There was some minor drama occurring between me and certain family members which had me feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer myself up, I turned to the internet, looking for some retail therapy. New boots would surely heal my wounds. Instead, I saw a post on Facebook about the Snowmans Half Marathon on in Mt. Pleasant, MI. The race was part of a series of three, each occurring during winter months promising runs through snow, slush, and mud. Instead of boots, I found salvation in a half marathon. In January. In Michigan.
Thankfully Randy was super supportive in my decision to run a half marathon in potential blizzard conditions. “Whatever makes you happy,” was his response. Right on! Michigan experienced one snow storm early on and then conditions became mild, melting most of the snow and ice off of the sidewalks which made running conditions optimal. I was running record high mileage during this usually abysmal month. Then, the week before my half, the snow fell and the mercury plummeted. We experienced sub-zero wind chills and suddenly I was more frightened of frostbite than running on ice.
When the morning of January 26th rolled around, it was a sunny 17 degrees in Mt. Pleasant, a relative heat wave. Randy and I had rolled into town the night before in a white-knuckle drive that saw five cars in the ditches. Mt. Pleasant is the home of Central Michigan University, and our packet pick-up was in a bar called The Wayside. The place smelled of stale beer and broken condoms. Dancing cages and stripper poles were placed throughout the dance floor. Runners warmed up by shaking their stuff. “The men’s room is nothing but a toilet with no stall around it,” I overheard. Oh college, how I’ve missed you.
Now on to the race. I debated wearing my Yak Trax. In the end I decided to spare my feet and run without them, and I’m thankful I did. Though the course was completely covered in snow and/or slush, it was compact enough so I didn’t slip around too much. The course itself went through Central’s campus and through some country roads. I saw horses and alpacas. I ran cautiously without a goal time, and in the end completed the half marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes. Not my best, but not my worst either. Randy was of course there at the finish line with a camera and a smile on his face. Has he ever taken a picture of me finishing that turned out well? No, not even close. But I look forward to it all the same.
After receiving my medal I cleaned up to go enjoy my free drink coupon at a local pub. My calves and hamstrings took a beating in the snow and the Bacardi helped sooth the pain. Despite the conditions, The Snowmans Half felt pretty effortless and it felt great to know I was in the kind of shape to just get up and run a half marathon without months of preparation. It got me fired up for my next half in March, which I hope to complete in 2:05.
I have to say that the more races I run, the more I appreciate the small town races with the smaller price tags. The frills may be few but what they lack in swag, they make up for in charm and camaraderie. If you live in Michigan and love running in whatever Mother Nature throws at you, I highly suggest you run the remaining two half marathons in the Winter Warriors Series- The Ice Cube on February 16th or the Mud Dog on March 23rd. Both races are in Mt. Pleasant.