Monday, June 27, 2016

Back in the Saddle

Babe Ruth said, "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." I love that quote particularly these days when running feels a little harder. Last week I was in Northern Michigan for my office's annual board retreat. I went for a quick run one morning (maybe 2.5-3 miles), and my joints paid for it the rest of the day. Granted I also wore 4-inch wedges all day, but there are some things one just can't compromise. 

Early this year I registered for the Charlevoix Half Marathon after realizing it coincided with our board retreat. I switched to the 10k after my hospital stay last month. I've barely been running, and the steroids cause crazy swelling in my joints when I do. I didn't really think I was even in 10k shape, but this was more about my running mental state than anything else. 

On Friday morning I went from our retreat at Boyne Mountain to downtown Boyne City where my husband and son were to join me later that evening. I had the most relaxing day I've had in approximately 18 months walking around town, having a leisurely lunch while reading a novel and taking a nap. Friday evening I went for a long walk, and I was nervous about my race the next day. My joints were not happy, and I could only imagine how they'd feel about taking a beating for 6.2 miles.

Boyne City hosts Friday night strolls in the summer, and the streets were packed with people. There were bands on every corner, public art, free carriage rides and games for kids in the park. I have to admit several times I actually teared up because I loved it so much. When I think about great communities and the power of places and public spaces, it checked all the boxes. This tiny town in northern Michigan had all the elements, and my heart was so happy. 

Friday Strolls in Boyne City
My husband and son arrived later in the evening, and despite that we were up and out the door of our hotel by 5:45 Saturday morning to drive to Charlevoix (about 20 minutes). I seamlessly picked up my packet, and we walked around downtown until the race started. There were different start times for the half marathon and 5k and 10k races which I didn't quite appreciate until I realized how crowded the narrow course would be for a while.


We started right on time, and I tried to find a zen place that wasn't annoyed by the fact that so many toward the start were walking. My husband took a video, and you can tell how many people in front of me are walking (and have pets). It was pretty frustrating especially considering that the course was narrow for a bit. 

The course was lovely. The weather was flawless (mid-60s), and we ran through beautiful neighborhoods in Charlevoix and along the water with peekaboo views. Once we approved the 10k turnaround, however, the course got a little squirrely. It's not uncommon for a course to have a turnaround point, and runners are then often urged by volunteers to stay on one side of the course. As I approached the 10k turnaround it was a free for all. Runners were coming straight toward groups of runners, and it was course chaos. Thankfully it's not a busy race, but it expends a good bit of energy to go back and forth dodging other runners. I'm also not one of the fast ones, so I'm sure the winners didn't love that either. 

I think start corrals and better course direction could go a long way in what was an otherwise pretty enjoyable race. The medal is legit - one of my favorite medals I've ever gotten. Very cool. I finished in a respectable 56:49. It was three minutes slower than my PR, but I'm pretty happy with that time given that 1) I spent a week in the hospital last month and 2) I haven't been running.

Hardware!
We headed back to Boyne City after the race and had breakfast at Cafe Sante, one of the restaurants downtown. I've eaten there several times for work, and I'm always a huge fan. After showers and regrouping it was time to head out in Boyne City. We went to the farmers market which had a number of vendors. It was a warm, gorgeous day, and our son immediately wanted to play in the massive play structure by the farmers market. How different life is with children!

Playtime didn't last long, and nap time for toddler and adults followed. It was mid-afternoon before we really got to check out the city. We wandered in the many shops including the awesome specialty wine store and market. We found all the sculptures in the Walkabout Sculpture exhibit which will be up all year. Our son played in the park on the waterfront (one of my work's PlacePlans sites last year actually). There were balloon animals, public art exhibits, and bubbles (an 18-month-old's absolute favorite). It was an ideal day in a charming town. Again, heart exploding.




Art for everyone!
We walked to dinner at the Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company Taproom which had only been open for a week. Our service, drinks and food were all fantastic. Our toddler's behavior left a little more to be desired, but it was a long day for him. He went right to sleep when we got back to our hotel, and my husband and I were able to enjoy drinks and some quality time on the balcony overlooking beautiful Lake Charlevoix. 

Not the worst evening ever.
As he is wont to do right now my son was up bright and early at 5:15 on Sunday morning. It was supposed to rain, so we headed outside just before 6 am with the beach to ourselves. The water was pretty warm, and my son enjoyed the fun task of filling a bucket with sand to dump into the water over and over again. By the time the rain arrived he was ready to head inside. 

Somehow the only people on the beach at 6:15 am
We had breakfast and then drove away in the rain after a really relaxing weekend. We travel a lot, but rarely do we relax and slow down enough to appreciate it. It was the perfect mix of relaxation, a great community, running and really appreciating my surroundings. It was the reset I needed for my mental health as a wife, mom and runner. My heart is full and happy.  

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