Michigan in March? Think twice about that. Or, “Hey, I can see Canada!

Date: March 24, 2013

Distance: 13.1 miles

Time: 2:21:16

Twentieth state is complete! That milestone number puts me one state closer to my goal of having twenty-five states done by the end of this year. michigan

The justification. This race, “Rock CF” in Grosse Ile, Michigan, was on my “maybe” list for the past several weeks. My running buddy, Denise, had this one on her race calendar for quite some time since it wasn’t too far from Auburn Hills, where she and her husband were staying to watch several March Madness basketball games over the previous few days. I was hesitant to go do this particular race because my schedule is really busy right now, but I decided, if flights worked out, I could be in and out of Detroit in a 24-hour time span. Besides, I reasoned, I wouldn’t have to pay for airfare and I didn’t have to pay for a hotel room so expenses for this race would be minimal.

The town. Haven’t heard of Grosse Ile? I hadn’t either, until this race. Grosse Ile, French for “Big Island,” is nothing like the Hawaiian Big Island. Too bad. In fact, the weather conditions for the race could not be more opposite than tropical, warm, Pacific island weather. Rather, we found ourselves running in bitter cold, windy conditions.

The conditions. Luckily, we didn’t have to contend with rain or snow, but the humidity, cold, and wind made this the coldest race I’ve run–by far. Despite wearing several layers of tech materials and wool, I still froze. And I’m the one who loves running in colder weather! Even with my running gloves, I still couldn’t feel my fingers at the beginning of the race and a generous fellow runner overheard me complaining and gave me an extra pair of glove liners he had. He assured me they were throwaways and he didn’t need them back, so I gladly took them. Even with two pairs of gloves, it took until about mile three to feel my fingers again. And, I’m so glad I was wearing a full-on running beanie type hat instead of just my headband. That saved me, I’m sure.

The course. About twenty-five miles south of Detroit, Grosse Ile is on the Detroit River, connected to the rest of Michigan by two bridges. The island has about 10,000 people living on it and it was a really easy, flat race course. The course pretty much followed the shoreline of the entire island, with a only a few detours–like the one at about mile ten that took runners through an old Naval airplane hangar and on part of the now municipal airport. Interestingly, Amelia Earhart sometimes flew into this airport and former president George Bush (the first one) trained here for about two months in 1945.

The recap. Denise and I stayed together for the whole race, providing each other the needed moral support. The views of the east end of the island were striking–the Detroit skyline in the distance to the slight northeast and a scenic, Canadian landscape to the direct east (Ontario). The west end also provided a river view, but the Michigan shoreline was much more industrial (and smelly). If I were to live on the island I would definitely want to be on the east side.

When we finished, satisfied with our times in light of the conditions, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We hit a diner-type restaurant in full running gear to warm up with several cups of hot coffee and mountains of breakfast food–I indulged in eggs, hash browns, and biscuits with sausage gravy. I then had to quickly shower, change, and get back to the airport to try to catch a flight home. Such a whirlwind of a trip!

The challenges of flying non-rev. Once again, I was flying standby, trying to use my non-rev benefits and that always puts a little added stress to these race weekends. I was not able to get on the first two of my three options home but I luckily got on the last direct flight out of Detroit for the night. It entailed having to switch planes due to maintenance issues and an hour later departure time, but nonetheless I was grateful to get home and sleep in my own bed after the whirlwind weekend. Nothing like rushing to the airport only to have to sit and wait for eight hours until you can finally get out of there.

Michigan is crossed off the list and Denise and I have one more race story to tell. Next up is our back-to-back Friday/Saturday races in May. THAT will be interesting.


One response to this post.

  1. Sounds fun! I like your goal idea here… gets me thinkin… which is never good.


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