Today is the day where we let a little furry rodent predict our weather for the next 6 weeks. Every year they rip this poor guy from his wintery slumber and thrust him into the air so he can tell us what we all already know. So, you know, it was a big surprise when Phil predicted six more weeks of winter for us.
But, what you may not have known is that Phil has a more interesting cousin. This cousin and I, we made friends today in the form of a race: The Ground Hogs Day Marathon and Half Marathon at Millennium Park in Grand Rapids, MI.
According to their website: “We’ve all heard of Punxsutawney Phil, the little furry guy in Pennsylvania who comes out, sees
his shadow, and declares six more weeks of winter. Then there’s Augustus T. Groundhog, better known as Grand Rapids Gus. He’s Phil’s much more interesting cousin. Unlike Phil, who it seems can only see shadows, Gus has much better eyesight and can look at a calendar on February 2 and know that spring doesn’t start for six weeks. Gus suggested that instead of lamenting over six more weeks of winter, we should EMBRACE the cold and snow and do something fun.
And so, the Groundhog Day Marathon was born.”
To say this race was a challenge may be an understatement. This was the first time I have ever, ever thought of quitting a race. Even running a marathon wasn’t this hard. Seriously. Running a marathon was easier than this.
Yep. That’s snow, and a lot of it.
The course is a loop. The full marathon runs this loop six times, and the half three (it’s a repeat, like “Ground Hog Day.” Get it? Hah!). So, you’d think that the snow would get packed down the more we ran/walked/slid over it. Not the case. Nope. Not at all. That picture was taken on the third loop around. The more we traversed the path, the more churned up it got. The more churned up it got, the more difficult it got. I think I walked about 80% of the last lap. I am not kidding when I say this was difficult. Boston Qualifiers dropped out of this race. I would say about 40% of the people who started this race dropped out.
Most walked a lot of the way. Especially on the back half of the loop where there was no footing and at least a 2-foot base of snow, plus the loose stuff on top:
I finished in 3 hours, 52 minutes and 7 seconds. For some perspective, my best half is 1:53:17, that was Park2Park this summer. My marathon time is 4:08:54. Yeah. I finished a half-marathon in almost as much time as it would have taken me to run a full on a normal day.
Luckily, I had some great company:
And I met some fellow-crazies out on the course as well. Those of us who actually finished realized that we were in this together. At some point, you really realize that it’s not about time. This happened about 5 steps into it for me.
Finishing this race was probably the dumbest thing I have ever done. The risk of injury was huge. But you know what? Hearing stories and sharing camaraderie with those foolish/awesome enough to finish this made it worth it. That’s one of the best things about running a race, for me. The people you meet that you would have never otherwise had the chance to connect with. In the end, it was worth it. And I can now say that I am badass for running in these conditions. And also probably crazy enough to try it again next year.