Plenty of sun. High in the upper 50s and lows in the mid 40s. Zero percent chance of precipitation.

Could there be better conditions for running a half marathon?

Let’s just hope nothing changes in this forecast between today and Saturday…

Either way, though, I am eagerly anticipating this weekend’s race — my first half since end of July. More recently, I’ve taken on the 5K, and unlike the majority of 5Ks I’ve run in the last few years, i.e. more “fun” runs without the pressure of going all out, the 5K I ran with Emma on Belle Isle a couple of weekends ago was most definitely a race. As in, let’s-see-what-we’ve-got kind of race. It was fun (running alongside my 15-year-old for 3.1 miles? I’m one happy mama) but it was also tough. And at the end, crossing that finish line completely spent…It was thrilling to keep up with Emma, who has been training hard with her high school cross country team these past few months. And hey, turning 40 has its perks: I snagged my first “master’s” win!

Emma and me at the Detroit Women's Half Marathon & 5K earlier this month. We ran the 5K together and won the mother-daughter team award!
Emma and me at the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon & 5K earlier this month. We ran the 5K together and won the mother-daughter team award!

This coming weekend I am back to what I feel most comfortable doing: running distance. Not that it won’t be tough in its own ways — hello, hilly course — but my body does seem to be most comfortable (in that sometimes-uncomfortable way) with 13.1 and beyond. I’ve often felt I find my groove at miles 4-6. This often means the first couple of miles can basically suck, but if I can just breathe, find my pace, I hit my stride soon enough and from there can feel like I can keep going…and keep going. Great weather, smart fueling, good pre-race sleep…these all help, too, of course.

So I am hoping all comes together as they should this Saturday morning, when Joe and I, along with our boys, head out to Empire to run the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K. The guys, including my brother-in-law Jason, are running the 5K, I’m running the half. Emma, my speedy running partner of late, will be downstate at a cross country meet.

It’s been a whirlwind lately, as fall can be, with kids back in school and juggling homework with after-school sports. Our youngest, Alex, had his very first elementary school cross country meet last week, and did he ever knock it out of the park, running with such heart for the mile. Alex has run his share of family 5Ks over the years, but his athletic experience (and interest) has focused on sports like soccer, football and basketball. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about signing on for cross country, but he was willing to try it after deciding he wanted “a break from soccer” this fall and had no interest in doing tackle football again, at least for the time being. “See how you like it,” I offered to him gently. “It’s one mile and you’ve run 5Ks! Plus, you’ll have friends from school on your team.”

Alex, 9, running the mile at his first-ever cross country race.
Alex, 9, running the mile at his first-ever cross country race.

The memory that’s lodged in my mind of last week’s meet is not so much Alex’s impressive time (he took nearly two minutes off his mile time from practices!), but the triumphant look on his face coming into the finish and as he caught his breath afterward, his face flushed and his dark brown hair matted with sweat. “Holy cow, I just did it,” his look seemed to say, as we walked-ran toward him to give him hugs and high fives. He was absolutely beaming when we reached him. It doesn’t get much sweeter than seeing this kind of expression on your kids’ faces.

With more than 500 participants, the Sleeping Bear races this weekend are shaping up to be one of Endurance Evolution’s most popular and largest events, race organizer Todd Gyulveszi tells me. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend, given the expected weather and also because this event is in such a scenic area of northern Michigan. If you’re also going to be there — please say hello if you see me and my family! — there’s a few things to remember:

The marathon and half are, for the first time, taking place on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Check out the course maps here »
– All competitors 21 and over will receive (2) complimentary Short’s Brewing beers at the finish line.
Don’t forget to check out the Hops Festival is in Empire after the race.
– Race organizers are looking for additional volunteers, and they offer discounts to future Endurance Evolution events if you volunteer. Email Todd Gyulveszi directly to volunteer. Email him at todd@enduranceevolution.com 

See you all there!!

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