As if the long holiday weekend wasn’t fabulous enough all on its own — let the 100 days of summer in Michigan begin! — these past few days proved especially enjoyable for my family with two days of running and race spectating.

Days off from work with your family and friends + cheering on your favorite people at your hometown race + running a trail half marathon yourself = happiness, pure happiness. It’s safe to say I’ve felt — and still feel — that my cup runneth over. It was just one of those special weekends.

First up was the Bayshore 10K, an event that’s become a tradition for Joe and Andrew, our just-about-13-year-old. I typically run one of the Bayshore races myself, usually the marathon, but knowing I’d be coming off Boston this spring, I didn’t sign up. I wanted to be on the other side for a change. I wanted to be out there cheering for Joe and Andrew the same way they’ve done so for me countless times.

The Bayshore fun started Friday night, when we picked up their race packets and joined two other families for some carb loading at our favorite family pizzeria.

A Bayshore weekend tradition: meeting up with these amazing women to talk running and life and, of course, carb load.

A Bayshore weekend tradition: meeting up with these amazing women to talk running and life and, of course, to carb load. Cassy (wearing red, between me and Krista) had an awesome half marathon on Saturday.

Saturday morning we were out the door early to get the guys to the race start. The weather was perfect: sun-filled, cloud-free skies, just-right running temperatures in the high 40s, low 50s at 7 a.m.

Andrew and Joe at the start of the Bayshore 10K.

Andrew and Joe at the start of the Bayshore 10K.

Once we saw them off, we headed to our spot on the course where we could see runners on the way out as well as on the way back in. It was so much fun cheering for runners, including many MRG readers. (Thank you, friends, for saying hello. Seriously made my day to see so many of you out there!) It was especially fun seeing my dear friend Jen, who was right behind Andrew on the way out. “Keep an eye on my boy!” I yelled to her.

Once we saw Andrew blazing past us, heading toward the finish, I left Emma and Alex at our spot to watch for their dad — they’d end up running a bit with him, which I just love — and made my way to the high school track, where the race ends. (This is the part where I gained even more appreciation for the work spectators do to see their runners — it ain’t easy to sprint along sidewalks and closed roads so you can hopefully catch sight of your runner!)

I found Andrew just as he was reaching the start of the finish chute (whew!) and yelled his name, encouraging him to finish strong. He looked great, and I was overcome, as I usually am when watching my kids run, with so much pride.

Andrew, my 12-year-old rock star of a runner.

Andrew, my 12-year-old rock star of a runner.

He continued onto the track and I watched as he crossed the finish line. I glanced down at my watch, amazed at Andrew’s finish. He shaved 4 minutes off his best 10K time, running 6.2 miles in 44 minutes. Alright, it’s official: I can no longer keep up with him… (Quick mom brag: two days prior to this race, he ran a personal best in the mile — 5:33. What an incredible ending to his seventh-grade track season!)

Emma kept me posted on her dad’s progress, texting me to inform me where he was at on the race course. I found a perfect spot to capture a finishing photo, right along the track near the bleachers. This was another highlight of my race spectating experience: seeing the finishes of so many runners. The determined looks, the wide smiles, the fist pumps — it’s all so inspiring and moving. And then I saw Joe come onto the track. He’d planned to do a run-walk method throughout the 10K, but there was no walking when I saw him — he was running strong and had a smile on his face.

Joe, in yellow, about to finish the Bayshore 10K.

Joe, in yellow, about to finish the Bayshore 10K.

All of us, at the finish.

All of us, at the finish.

One of the most delicious things in life is a nap following a race. So that’s what we all did after Bayshore. I know, I didn’t race Saturday morning. I took a I-worked-kinda-hard-myself spectator nap.

We woke up with time to enjoy the beautiful afternoon before packing up for our overnight at Crystal Mountain, where I’d be running the North Mitten Half Marathon on Sunday morning. The resort is about 45 minutes from our house, and by the time we hit the road we all were hungry for dinner. We stopped at the Hofbrau in Interlochen on the way there; if you haven’t been to this restaurant before, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s a northern Michigan tradition, boasting 52 beers on draft and delicious American fare.

Our accommodations at Crystal Mountain were perfect for our family of five: a suite that included a separate master bedroom plus plenty of room for three kids to sleep and stay up late to watch their own TV show (current favorite: the Food Network’s Chopped). The indoor pool stayed open until 11 p.m. the night we arrived, so we spent some time there after checking in. The hot tub was a hit with my guys, who wanted to soak their tired legs. Most importantly, staying at the resort meant I could set my alarm for 6:45 a.m. and have plenty of time for pre-race coffee and talking with fellow runners before the 8 a.m. race start. It took me all of three minutes to walk out our hotel room to the race start.

I love this race.

I love this race.

I have wanted to run this race since hearing about it a couple of years ago, when race director and runner Janice Davidson first contacted me about it. Janice oversees all recreational activities at Crystal Mountain (there are many!) and she was excited to tell me about this new northern Michigan half marathon and 10K. I ran the Bayshore Marathon last year, so running the North Mitten in its inaugural year was out. But this year, the timing was right.

What I loved about this race: the course is pretty much all trail — and the trails are lush and wooded and winding and just gorgeous this time of year. The final couple of miles are on road — a quiet, paved road on resort property, which truthfully, was a welcomed break after double-digit miles of trail, some of which included oh-hi-there-slight-hills and thick sand. My legs had been growing heavy and the flat, sturdy pavement felt good. I found myself increasing my minute-mile pace significantly, a nice surprise so late in the race.

At the halfway point!

At the halfway point!

Also: I met a number of MRG friends at the race start and at the finish.

Colleen, Katie and me at the start of this past weekend's North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K.

Colleen, Katie and me at the start of this past weekend’s North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K.

I have to give a special shout-out to Katie and Colleen, who found me at the start, and Keli, whose lovely mom Pat was so kind and helpful (she drove Joe out to the halfway point, in the middle of the woods, to find us and cheer us on!)

Keli and me at the finish. We both placed in our age group!

Keli and me at the finish. We both placed in our age group!

Two days later and I’m still reveling in this weekend’s awesome-ness. Maybe it’s the weather (warm, finally) or the fact that summer truly is just around the corner (12 more days of school)…or maybe it’s that I haven’t run a half marathon in a long, long time. And it felt amazing. I felt strong and capable and — because I was on the trail — truly myself. It was my longest run since Boston. Whatever it was, I am happy and I am savoring.

How are you feeling as summer gets underway? What are you happy about? What are you looking forward to?

 

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