My third half marathon with Tom, Barb, Carol, Rhonda, mom, Bill & Brenda
Grand Rapids, Michigan
For my third half marathon, I flew into Grand Rapids, Michigan and 8 others drove in from all over the US. My hiking/marathon buddies Mom, Tom, Carol & Bill came, and some new marathon buddies - Barb, my former boss in China; Brenda, an old family friend; and Rhonda, Carol's daughter. It was Rhonda & Barb's first time to do a half marathon. Another person, Theresa, came along but didn't run. She just laughed at us the next day when we were limping around.
The Metro Health Grand Rapids Half Marathon http://www.grandrapidsmarathon.com/ was the largest and most established I had ever done.
The night before - we find margaritas are good fuel.
Theresa is the smart one (non racer) second from the right.
These folks throw quite a party - with a huge pre-race expo, a tremendous amount of entertainment along the route, and a big party afterwards. A so called 'group of races', the actual day included a full marathon, half marathon, relay run and kids run. They also had pace teams, which I had never seen before. These are groups of people that run together to meet a certain time. They have a team leader - kind of like a Japanese tourist guide - who waves a big sign with a celebrity's picture on it while running so they all know where their team is. Imagine seeing a sign with a head shot of Al Gore (whose pace is 4:58:25) or Oprah (whose pace is 4:29:20).
While we didn't participate in a celebrity pace team (that was just for the full marathoners), we did enjoy the "velocity challenged" early start - which allowed slower marathoners to begin an entire hour early.
The American Horse that pays homage to Leonardo da'Vinci
We were still clocked at real time - it just meant we were finishing with the fast folks who started at the normal time instead of being the last and lonely to cross the finish line as in my first two races. It was a great ego boost to cross the line with tons of people, instead of straggling across with everyone knowing you are the slowest. I wish they had this early start at all races! As with my first race, this one also benefits charity - raising over $30,000 for various organizations.
Of special note is the fact that my mom had her third foot surgery in two decades in July. She had her cast and stitches removed in early September - which gave her slightly over 4 weeks to learn to walk again, let alone do a half marathon. Nevertheless, her pace was still faster than mine, yet as with our first race together, she hung back with me and we crossed the finish line together.
Rhonda, who was doing her first race - finished third out of the 8 of us, just behind her parents, who did not wait to cross over the finish line with her. For those of you who are not runners or walkers, it is very difficult to go at a pace not your own - even if it's slower it can sometimes make it more difficult. So my mom waiting for me is a true act of love and support.
In addition to all the race related events, Grand Rapids has a lot to offer visitors for a long weekend. We checked out the really cool downtown area, which is walk-able from the Grand Rapids YMCA - the start and finish point of the marathon and site of the Expo. The downtown area has many eclectic restaurants & bars, and four downtown museums: the Gerald R.
In recognition of Grand Rapids furniture industry
Ford Presidential Museum, an Art Museum, a Public Museum and a Children's Museum. The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was my ultimate favorite - with wonderful garden art, displays and sculptures. http://www.meijergardens.org/
A few minute drive from downtown, the Gardens and Sculpture Park gave us an opportunity to log some more miles as it has numerous outdoor gardens connected by trails and a boardwalk and dotted with fabulous sculptures.
While Grand Rapids in October would not normally be a dream destination for me, it was a great event, benefitting worthy causes, with some of my favorite people.
Grand Rapids Hotels & Accommodations review
This hotel was formerly the Days Hotel. It switched ownership sometime in 2009 and is now a very nice, completely renovated Holiday Inn. Excellent l… read entire review