Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mackinac Bridge Run

Me and Mighty Mac.

Some of y'all might be aware that I was selected via lottery for this year's Mackinac Bridge Run.
What I did not mention until now is that I was also appointed by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports to serve as a Fitness Ambassador for the 2009 Bridge Run. I was one of ten people selected as ambassadors this year. When I submitted my entry for the lottery in January I filled out a lengthy questionnaire regarding my athletic endeavors. The folks in Lansing must have read something they liked because I was told not long after the bridge run lottery about being tapped as a fitness ambassador. The official announcement came out in mid-August while I was on vacation. I returned home to find an article in my hometown newspaper:

Look, it's me! In the newspaper! The picture was from last year's Run for the Rolls.

All right, I admit to being a wee bit tickled by this. OK, a lot. OK, it was totally rad. Wait, I just dated myself as a Generation X-er who grew up in California. I was...very honored and deeply humbled. I didn't think my story was that impressive when compared to my fellow ambassadors. I just decided three years ago I had to change my lifestyle...I never, ever expected my efforts to lead to losing 65 pounds and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. When I began running in earnest I was barely aware that the Boston Marathon existed and running a marathon myself was COMPLETELY OUTSIDE THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY. Naturally I am HYPER-aware of its existence now because I WILL BE RUNNING IT IN APRIL 2010 (omg!).

I headed "up north" (as we say in Michigan) on Saturday afternoon. In the morning I had a superb 14-mile run on my beloved yet neglected country roads which was as pleasant and relaxing as a 14-mile run can be.

After arriving in Mackinaw City on Saturday afternoon, FK and I found a place to eat dinner:

Oh jeez...they had Short's Brewing Huma Lupa Licious! One of the more formidable India pale ales out there! My inner hophead was so hoppy...I mean happy...

Monday morning I set my alarm for 4:30 AM, yes, that's 0430, not a glimmer of dawn on the horizon, the nearly full moon still shining brightly, hardly anyone reasonably sane up and about at that hour except for approximately 330 runner types converging on the Mackinaw City Recreation Center for transport on school buses across the bridge to St. Ignace. Speaking of school buses, even though it's been 20 years since I rode one to high school, how come it still smelled the same? L'eau de school bus? Curious...

Once I was deposited on the north side of the bridge around 5:15, there was not much to do except stand around and wait for the 6:45 start of the run.

It's totally dark because, well, it's pretty much still the middle of the night.

I found my RF501 training group teammate LF in the crowd.

Eventually, the eastern sky began to lighten and the runners assembled to begin the run. The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, was on hand to send off the runners. After everyone else had departed, the Fitness Ambassadors were able to meet the Governor and pose for a photo op.

It's the 2009 Bridge Run Fitness Ambassadors!

And then it was time to go:

4.3 miles of bridge await.

This was not a race, just a friendly ramble across the bridge. A...noncompetitive group run?? When was the last time I did that? I told myself to just enjoy the moment, take it easy, talk to my fellow runners, look at the scenery, this was a unique experience, no need to rush.

Approaching the north tower, almost halfway across.

Sunrise over the Straits of Mackinac.

Closing in on the finish line. Thanks to LF for the awesome picture.

After the run, enjoying myself.

I finished the 4.3 miles in about 37:45. I had Garmy on, of course, but forgot to stop it once I finished. I asked one of my fellow Fitness Ambassadors who had crossed the line with me what she had for a time. Even though this was a noncompetitive run, it was still a run, and I wanted to count it toward my weekly mileage.

Once some more official pictures had been taken, everyone was free to go their separate ways. I walked back to my hotel, which was not even five minutes away from where the run ended, and then FK and I got some breakfast and hit the long road back to Detroit. The crowd of thousands there for the Bridge Walk was thronging the city and I was beginning to get agitated and irritated because I do not like large mobs of people. Trying to drive in large disorganized mobs of people and insane traffic jams makes me even more anxious. I finally pulled a U-turn, backtracked, and found the correct on-ramp to the southbound freeway and then I was home free.

So, the Mackinac Bridge Run. It was a first in my running career. Will I do it again? I don't know. I do enough officially endorsed races during the year to be able to put my name in for the bridge run lottery. If I do decide I want to do it again, it will not be for a few years.

My most urgent concern right now is that registration for the 2010 Boston Marathon opened today! What the hell am I waiting for?


Kirsten said...

What a cool experience--and an honor to be chosen as a Fitness Ambassador! I think it was richly deserved!

Gorgeous day for that run...I may have to do this in the future. Very unique.

Payam said...

There's something special about bridge runs; I'm glad you had fun. More importantly, was the 14 miler pain free?

Sun Runner said...

@EN: I better like bridge runs since I'm going to be doing, what, five of them in NYC? :) And yes, my 14-miler was 100% ache-free.

Mike Fox said...

Any suggestions for the waiting around early in the morning part? I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself at the NY marathon. That may be the one thing I'm most concerned about...

Sun Runner said...

@Mike: I'm going to have my iPhone with me, which will be my main source of entertainment. But I hope I can strike up conversations with my fellow runners, too...sitting there playing with my phone for three hours could get boring (not to mention it will totally kill the battery).

girlrunningaround said...

Awesome and Congrats! What an honor! Running across the Mighty Mac is probably one of my best running memories. So serene and beautiful as the sun comes up.

Also, I had the Huma a few weeks ago on a trip to Bellaire. Amazing!

Sun Runner said...

@girlrunning: we got so lucky with the weather. It was perfect. There wasn't even a hint of a breeze and it was about 60 degrees. I brought so many different clothes with me because I had to be prepared for anything (as everyone from MI knows). But it was just gorgeous!

bunnygirl said...

What a cool experience, both being a fitness ambassador and doing a bridge run. I think my only frustration would've been standing around waiting longer than the race itself took!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Gotta get stuff done before we leave for the shore so no time to read this post today (later for that),

... but re: Teh librarians:


That's what we're about!

Carolina John said...

Looks like a beautiful run! That bridge looks tough and long. here in sc we have the cooper river bridge run in charleston. 10,000 people run a 10k across that bridge every april. one of these years i'm going to do it.

Nitmos said...

I'd like to run the Mac sometime. Thanks for the tour and congratulations on the selection!

Viper said...

Sounds like a nice run. Congrats on the good run. No go sign up for Boston. Cheers!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Found time to read this just before leaving.

Congrats, Ms. Ambassador!

Now you must know how Shirley Temple Black felt!

Spike said...

does not compute: noncompetitive run.

congrats on what is a great honor and a fun run. glad you had fun and great pictures.

Kristin said...

Congratulations on all fronts! What a beautiful location. Mackinac Island always makes me think of Somewhere in Time :) ... I would love to go there someday!

joyRuN said...

Breathtaking views on the run & noncompetitive - sounds right up my alley.

Congrats on your celebrity :)

ee said...

Wow! Cool pics! Should've taken one thru the grate... Now. Was Granholm as foxy in person as she appears in the news media (I mean... I'm surely not the only one who finds power sexy...)?

Mechelle said...

Thanks for the great recap and it was great to meet you!

MrsCJ said...

Very cool! Congrats on being a fitness ambassador!


Morgan said...

Wow that is awesome! I would LOVE to run the Mac!!!

It's funny... I remember taking a family vacation up there once after we had gone to Florida a few years in a row and I was so mad... now looking back I wish I had enjoyed it more. It's so beautiful up there.

What an awesome experience! Congrats!

Laura said...

Congratulations! What a cool recognition to get :)

mr loser said...

What a fantastic newspaper article and color pic too. Congrats on being recognized for your achievements.