Bass Pro Shops Marathon Recap

Marathon #93 – Bass Pro Shops Marathon Recap

During the summer when my wife and I were mapping out marathon options for the Fall races I had an idea of us doing Bass Pro Shops marathon in Springfield, MO. I needed to get a a sub 3 hour marathon in Missouri since my other two attempts about 8-9 years ago I came up short.  My parents could meet us in Springfield, MO  watch our kids and we could celebrate my Step-Dad’s 60th birthday. When we did something similar 2 years ago when I ran Bowling Green, KY the kids loved having a birthday party for Papa. My Mom thought it would be a cool idea so we made plans for it. I quickly booked two rooms at the Angler’s Inn which is right across from Bass Pro Shops and is a hotel maintained by Bass Pro. If you do Bass Pro stay at this hotel the start and finish line are right across the road, staff were welcoming for runners and gave late check-outs. Very convenient!

My wife, kids and I left Friday when I got home from work and drove around 300 miles and stayed at a hotel in Springfield Illinois. We got there about 7:15 pm central time. That was a great plan so that we could get a good night’s rest and it split the trip in half since Springfield MO is just over a 600 mile drive for us. Saturday morning after we both got a little run in we were on our way to Springfield MO. We ended up arriving in Springfield MO at 3 pm for the packet pick- up.

Pack pick-up was in one of the buildings that are connected with Bass Pro Shops. It was very simple process and they had various vendors. You got your number and clear bag with some goodies in it. Then they had you go through the banquet hall and walk around the vendors to get to your race shirt. Shirt was a nice ¾ zip with thumb holes, perfect to use on future runs. After the expo we went into Bass Pro shops for a little bit and looked around. Definitely would like to go to the aquarium sometime in the future that they have there.

Race day weather was pretty good, there was some wind, but all the rain moved through during the night and it wasn’t as windy as it was the night before. Going into Bass Pro I knew it had a few hills, I grew up in Missouri so I know there are plenty of hills. I found some great advice from the good folks at Fleet Feet Springfield from Youtube the week of the race as well. The plan was to stay really relaxed the first 7-8 miles since we had some hills. After the first mile I would know who was running the marathon or half marathon since marathoners turned right and half marathoners went straight at that point. I ran my first few miles 6:19,6:14,6:10,6:19, while dealing with some early hills,  I was sitting at 6th place at this time, and then I took my first Honey Stinger gel at mile 6.

At around mile 9 the course flattens out some, and I start picking it up some for the next few miles and moved up into 5th place. I really liked miles 11-14 I really moved very well. Mile 11 was 6:06, 12, 6:08, 13, 6:11,14, 6:09,We ran right by Missouri State University and had some great straight sections after running with some turns the first 7 miles some straight stretch running was nice. I took my 2nd Honey Stinger gel at 13, since I knew next aid station was mile 14. For most part aid stations were every 2 miles, with some closer towards end of the marathon. Then we went through a pretty cool section through downtown Springfield from miles 18-19. At this point the marathon runners joined back up with the half marathon course the rest of the way. Just after 19 we had a decent hill coming out of downtown, I took my 3rd gel right after that hill. We had a nice slight downhill that took us through mile 20. We went through another neighborhood around mile 21 and I hit a 6:07.  I did a quick watch check and knew I was on pace for 2:45 as long as I don’t slow down the last 5 miles. I knew we had some decent hills the last 2 miles of the race. A section on mile 23 I didn’t really like and neither did my wife. You had to go thru this little short tunnel under the road and to me it felt like I was almost about to hit my head and it was a little muddy from the rain the night before. I think my paced slowed there just because I was ducking my head 6:22 on that mile. Time to get back into it I thought to myself. I saw up ahead and it looked like a marathon runner was within striking distance. I caught up to him around mile 23.5. Now I’m in 4th place. I knew the next 2 miles would be a challenge with the hills coming up. Mile 25 was 6:18 as I am passing some half marathon runners. Mile 26, 6:11. The last .2 your going straight downhill to the finish line. 2:45:27 was my finish time and 4th male finisher and a sub 3. Funny thing is this is my 4th 2:45 marathon in 2018. Overall if you want to a race in Missouri I would recommend Bass Pro Shops races. Yes there are some hills, but I wouldn’t say it was a hilly race. Enough rolling to keep you patient and to make things interesting. My wife ended up 2nd female with a 3:15 and scored $500 cash for that. She got some bragging rights since I was one position away from getting money.

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Keys to a perfect marathon

Here is just my past experience with marathons. Everyone is different. Go what works with you.

  • 2 days before marathon start drinking electrolytes and have a nice carbo dinner with pasta or starches.
  • Take the day off running 2 days before or do 30 minutes of running.
  • Resume normal daily life, except go to bed 45 minutes earlier or even an hour.
  • Light foam rolling would be good.

1 Day before

  • Minimize your time on your feet, like don’t push mow your yard a day before a marathon or cut an acre of woods out. In a bigger city like before Boston marathon don’t walk 10 miles a day before your marathon.
  • Don’t go completely lazy and lay in bed though.
  • Do an easy 25-30 minute run to go over game plan in your head and to stretch out the legs.
  • Have everything ready to go for race day and laid out in hotel or in bedroom if driving day of. Double and Triple check your stuff. Sometimes even I forget something or accidently pack a small sock and big sock.
  • DON’T OVER EAT- if you eat too much it will sit in your belly for 26.2 miles or you will have bathroom issues. You don’t need to go all crazy loading yourself with pasta or you will pay for that later during the race. Eat your normal portion you normally do.
  • Eat at your normal time or little bit early and have Gatorade/ PowerAde or water  with meal.
  • Try to go to bed early, you will be nervous and probably wake up several times during the night that’s why 2 days before we got extra sleep.

Day of

  • Wake up early so you can eat 90 minutes to 2 hours before. I usually do a bagel with peanut butter. Avoid dairy for breakfast and juice with acids. Some do oatmeal, toast, or even Honey Stinger Waffles. Eat something you have been used to and don’t try any new product.
  • Have all your gear on you need including race shoes as you drive to race.
  • Drink some Gatorade/PowerAde and Water as you eat or pre race.
  • 30-45 minutes before I usually take Honey Stinger Chomps, again this is what I do, not what you need to do.
  • Use the bathroom, use the bathroom, and use the bathroom. Get everything out you can. If you need to use bathroom in marathon don’t panic. I have to stop sometimes as well.
  • Do a 5-6 minute walk or a 5-6 minute run 50 minutes before the race, sometimes running isn’t possible like if you have to get in a corral. No worries…
  • Start off 15 seconds slower the first 1-3 miles to get a good warm up with your legs and it holding back early will help you those last few miles.
  • Get locked into your goal pace by miles 6-8 and cruise along.
  • Take gatorade/powerade and water at the aid stations. Try not to stop, just grab and go.
  • I take a honey stinger gel every 6-7 miles in the marathon.

Holland Haven Marathon Race Recap

In 2015 I did Holland Haven marathon in Holland, MI and ran a personal best time of 2:37:30. I was very familiar with the course and decided to run it again for one of my marathons in 2018. I had put in a nice training session leading into Holland Haven and even did Riley Trails marathon 4 weeks before as a nice long run training race. Going into race week at Holland Haven I really didn’t know what to expect. I had a feeling it was going to be a tough battle and mentally I had to be ready. My goal was simple, I wanted a low 2:40s time or faster if possible. My legs felt decent and a nice tune up workout earlier in the week indicated 2:40 was a possibility. The weather was shaping up to be a good weather day, except some East wind 15-25 mph gusts, thankfully most of the course ran south.

On race day we left the hotel by 6:30 am for the 7:30 am start. We were roughly two miles from the start line. As soon as we starting driving the tire pressure light came on in our vehicle. I thought “oh no do we have a leak or flat tire.” My wife was thinking it was due to the cold weather since it was like 50 degrees and we were having like 90 in Goshen the day before. She said it had happened to her last fall as well.  I kept driving to Rosy Mound Elementary School where the race started. As I was driving the tire pressure went up 2 psis so I was pretty confident it wasn’t a flat tire or leak, just due to cold weather changes. I told her I would put air in it after marathon at a gas station unless she noticed changes and needed to deal with it. Once parked I did check tire and everything seemed good. Pre-race I got my mile warm up in and legs felt pretty good, and took a couple pre-race bathroom stops. My wife and kids were at the start line and they had planned to check out the Rosy Mound Natural Area for a while which was across from the start. Now let’s talk about the race.

Chatting up with some runners at the front of the line some had goals of a Boston marathon qualifying time, others wanted sub 2:50, and couple wanted 240s. Since the Boston marathon registration opened on Monday September 10, I knew there would be a nice group wanting a Boston qualifier. The race director started the race and we were off. It was me and another guy named Theodore out in the front. We clipped a first mile at 6:09. We were chatting a little bit and he said his pr was 2:43, I told him I wanted a good time around that as well. So we both had similar goals. We were running together then around mile 4 I felt like I needed to have a #1 pit stop, if I already had this feeling this early I knew I better hit the next port o john. At mile 5 there was one and I went in quickly. It happened to be my slowest mile of the day with a 6:34. I wasn’t in panic mode when I came out. I knew I had plenty of time to catch back up. It took me about 3 plus miles running 6:00 and I was right next up to Theodore. I just kept on the pace I was running and I think he wanted to keep rolling with me. So we were side by side again.


At times he would get ahead of me on a little hill, and then I would catch back up to him. I knew from running it in 2015 that the course had some rolling hills, but if you ran it smart it could be fast race as you got some relief on some downhill sections. At 13.1 miles we hit identical splits 1:20:16. He told me well it looks like one of us is going to win this thing, in my head I wanted to win it, and I wanted to do the best I can to make that happen. Throughout that whole time I hadn’t seen my wife or kids on the course, so I had no clue if she had to deal with the tire or what was going on. At 16 I dropped a 5:56 to try to separate from him a few seconds. I had maybe 3-4 seconds on him. At 17 he responded with his own move and got ahead of me again, even though I hit a 6:01. It was like playing a game of chess or checkers.


Shortly after he got ahead of me I saw my wife and kids for first time right before 18, turns out they played longer at Rosy Mound Natural Area by Lake Michigan. I took my 3rd and final gel at 18 to get ready for the last round of the run. 18-19.5 had a couple of rolling hills and we had some wind our direction. He had like a 4 second or so lead on me at 18. I ran a 6:01 at 19 to catch back up.  I wasn’t going to give up without a fight I knew we both wanted to win this thing. We turned off that path and turned right and started heading East right into the wind. That wind was definitely powerful and almost blew my hat off a few times. I wanted to stay relaxed at 20 we were still neck and neck, he would get ahead of me a few steps, then I would get ahead. At around 21 I decided to push it hard in the wind and ran a 6:14 which was slower, but again we had wind and it felt like a 5:55 effort. I knew this could be a risky move but it was make or break time. We made a right turn just after 22, which I hit at 6:08. I kept pushing it at miles 23 and 24 even with some long climbs in that section. Mile 23 and mile 24 were at 6:00, 6:10. Then we made the turn into the wind again. 25 was at 6:19, I knew I was close to a sub 2:40, but that wind was a little brutal finishing up. Mile 26 was 6:23. I kicked it in for the last stretch to make sure I would still be in 2:40 range. They made the announcement of the first marathon finisher coming in and I crossed at 2:40:22. My 2nd time winning Holland Haven marathon and I went 1:20:06 the 2nd half even with the last two miles a little slower. I waited around to see Theodore finish and he hit a new personal best time of 2:42:15. We chatted a little bit afterwards and both agreed that both us helped push each other to reach our limits. It was an awesome race by both of us!



If you are looking for a nice Boston Marathon qualifier or a half marathon race I highly recommend Holland Haven. The course is fast even with the rolling hills. If you run it smart you can negative split the course. I also negative split Holland Haven in 2015 when I hit my PR. The post race food was awesome with BBQ meat, chips, cookies, chocolate milk. They even let your family eat for free which my wife and kids loved! The also had a nice little bounce house at the finish area which the kids did a few times while I showered in the building. There is also so many cool things to check out in Holland and Grand Haven area.


August running Recap

August is a month to me that means summer is almost over, since my summer break from teaching is nearing an end. Also means kids go back to school. With all the hustle with things in life my August training kept going without a hiccup. Some of the runs were quite warm, but I would rather tough out a 90 degree run then a -20 windchill run, with both conditions you have to be a little crazy in the head to go out on a run, but I pressed on with goals in mind. Here are some highlights of my August running.

8/3/18- Very Hot and Hilly 13.5 miles in Bristol Hills.

8/11/18- Ran on a nice bike path to run on in Hoffman Estates,IL did a solid 14 miler @ 6:45 pace in 85 degrees in middle of afternoon.

8/14/18- Did a very nice track workout 200 meters fast, 200 meters jog at a little slower than marathon pace for 4 miles.

8/18/18- Won Riley Trails marathon in Holland, MI. Very well run event, and great course.

8/21/18- Paced my daughter Natalie to a 2k PR at Reith Runs.

Total miles ran in the month: 315 miles.

Total time running: 40:25:37

Honey Stinger Gels consumed: 12

Total Bowls of ice cream consumed: 14

Riley Trails Marathon Recap

Riley Trails marathon wasn’t initial on my racing schedule. It wasn’t until late June until I signed up for the August 18th marathon in Holland, Michigan and boy was I glad I did sign up. I left the house at around 4:30 am for the 2 hour drive to Holland, Mi at Benjamin’s Hope. I had plenty of time for packet pickup and do a little warm up before the 7:30 am start. Before the race started the Race Director talked about the course, instructions, and their management company Egress Endurance, and the non profit organizations they were helping with the event. Here is a little bit about what organizers said: Egress Endurance was recently established and their mission is to help change peoples lives with trail events throughout Michigan and help nonprofits along the way. Riley Trails marathon/ or relay options of 2,3, or 4 people raised funds for Benjamin’s Hope and One17 International.  Benjamin’s Hope is a “live, work, play, worship” intentional community in which people of all abilities are transformed by the love of Christ. It is a 40 acre facility where adults with a range of intellectual and developmental differences, including autism live in housing buildings, work on the farm, and play on the beautiful campus. Overall a great selection for the marathon event. One17 International is a Holland, Mi nonprofit which mission is to build and operate schools for the left behind in places of urgent physical and spiritual need in other countries. It was humbling to hear about these organizations before the race.

The race director got all the runners lined up and we started right on time, and we were off on the muggy/foggy 70 degree morning. We had to run about 1.2 miles until we reached Riley Trails, about a mile of that was on a paved bike path. So my plan was to get out decent when we reached the bike path out of Benjamin’s Hope facility since I knew that would be a very fast section. Marathoners had to do 5.5 loops on Riley Trails then come back on the bike path and finish. I got out with 3 other guys doing the relay and it was nice to chat it up with them for a while. Once we hit Riley Trails the two younger relay guys took off and I broke away from the other relay guy who already logged like 12 miles before the race about a mile into the trails.

As I was making my run through the trail I was falling in love with the way the path took you through tall pine trees and overall pretty woods landscape. During the loop there were a couple small sand hills to run up in the loop, but overall it was a pretty flat course. After I got done with loop one I had an idea of sections to push it more and areas to ease off a little due to turns or a hill coming up. I was running steady and not pushing it too much, my plan was to be about a minute or so slower per mile than I would be on my road marathon coming up in a few weeks. It was humid enough and I was sweating like a pig after like 8 miles so I knew to just keep it from 7:00-7:20 range. To keep up with all the sweating I was doing I was drinking plenty of water from my handheld and I stopped twice at the Gazelle aid station to fill it up. They were always nice to me and asked if I needed anything else. The last two times I passed that aid station I did drink some Gatorade that they had as well. It was a little bittersweet when I was starting my half loop, and knowing my journey in Riley Trails was almost done. Although I was tired and ready to be done, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in nature and God’s beautiful landscape. As I approached Benjamin’s Hope finish line the Race Director called out my name and said “your marathon champ: Jake Gillette.” I was truly blessed to win the marathon.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I would say Egress Endurance put on a fantastic first event for their race management company. You could tell the event was well thought through and the fact that the race director is a runner helps as well. The course was marked with orange flags on your left side and I think probably the most distance you had before you saw a flag was like 300 meters or something like that during a part of the trail where it was obvious where to go. They had two aid stations on the 4.25 mile loop which was stocked with a variety of goodies. For a $53 entry fee you got a race shirt, a Merrell Tubular, wooden medal, free race photos, and great goodies for post race food like Pizza. The top 3 in marathon got handmade wooden awards by residents of Benjamin’s Hope. They took sticks and glued them of the logo and your placing on the wood. We also got nice gift card to Merrell. If you are looking for a trail marathon or even a relay with some friends I recommend checking out Riley Trails marathon next year.





You might be a Runner…

You might be a Runner…

I remember growing up and hearing the “You might be a redneck jokes,” by Jeff Foxworthy. Well on my run the other day I thought of some “You might be a Runner,” sayings. I’m sure there are some you can even think of on your own or maybe some I mention you can shake your head and say yup that’s me.

  • You might be a Runner- If you decorate your house based on the trophies and awards you get from races.
  • You might be a Runner- If you know the exact Personal Best time you have ran from a one mile to a marathon but you don’t remember phone numbers without looking in your phone’s address book.
  • You might be a Runner-If you have more running shoes than any other selection of shoes in your house.
  • You might be a Runner-If 90% of your clothes is either running gear, or running shirts you got at races.
  • You might be a Runner-If you see another runner on the road and you try to catch to them.
  • You might be a Runner-If easy and 10 miles are in the same sentence.
  • You might be a Runner-If you run circles around the outside of you house to finish up that last mile in your run.
  • You might be a Runner-If you plan your vacations around races.
  • You might be a Runner- If you have tried an energy gel and liked it.
  • You might be a Runner- If you get up at 5 am on the weekends for a “fun” long run with friends.
  • You might be a Runner-If you have had to make a mad dash into a nearby corn field for a #2.
  • You might be a Runner-If you carry water with you like it is precious gold.
  • You might be a Runner-If you ran in the morning and then forgot you ran and then run again in the evening.
  • You might be a Runner-If you run over your lunch break.
  • You might be a Runner-If planning your day involves getting your run in.
  • You might be a Runner- If you did a run and posted that your ran on social media.

Birthday Run

Birthday run- A run that equals your age in miles or kilometers to celebrate your birthday. I first read about this concept in college with Dean Karnazes Ultramarathon man book. Here is the segment from that book: As Karnazes recounts, “it was my 30th birthday. I was in a San Francisco bar, drunk on tequila and fed up with my life in PR for a multinational corporation.” Suddenly he flashed back to his preteen years as a running and hiking sensation and decided that was when his life had had meaning. “Somehow, I found an old pair of sneakers, stripped to my shorts and, seven hours later, wound up in Half Moon Bay—I’d run 30 miles, straight through the night, to celebrate my 30th birthday.

Well I started my tradition back in 2016. In 2016 I turned 30 and ran Whitefish point marathon on my birthday. I thought why not do 30 miles like Dean Karnazes to celebrate my birthday so between my warm up, marathon, and doing a little cool down run back to the hotel I did 30 miles. In 2017 I did Sunburst marathon, ended up getting misguided and ran 27.4 miles, add that to my warm up 1 mile run and I just needed to do 2.6 miles which I did in the evening to celebrate turning 31. Well in 2018 I wanted to continue the tradition of running my age in miles, this year 32 miles. This time it would be different, no race to keep me mentally engaged, no medal at the finish line, no fan support, or aid stations. It was me against the distance.

On June 10th I started planning my route for my birthday run for June 11. Initially I thought about running from my house to pumpkinvine towards Goshen and using the Elkhart bike path go 16 miles and come back 16 miles, since there are a few parks I could refill my water bottle.  However, we did get some rain and I didn’t want to run in the muddy crushed gravel section. On to plan B. I decided I would run towards Shipshewana on pumpkinvine from my house. I would spur off the trail and hit River Bend park to fill my handheld water bottle up that would be around mile 9, then I would continue that road until I got to CR 43 then turn until I hooked back up to the pumpkinvine then take the trail all the way to Shipshewana town and refill my handheld at the bathroom and water fountain by Morton street at 16. Then retrace my steps and refill again at RiverBend park. Overall, that was a fantastic route. Now on to the run details.

June 11th my birthday. I woke up at 6:00 am I wanted to get out the door by 6:15 am. I gobbled up two POP TARTs (not the healthiest choice, but works for those long runs). I tried to go #2 before I ran but had no luck. I knew that would be a problem, more on that later. Anyways I got out the door with my 5 Honey Stinger gels on my SpiBelt, my handheld water bottle full, and singlet, shorts and hat on. I started off slow the first mile 8:23, then 2nd mile 7:30. Around mile 2.5 I got the sensation to have to do a #2. At this point I was on the pumpkinvine trail, and no good place to hit the trees, plus there were some bikers already on the trail. I ran slowly like a penguin until I got the port o John at mile 3.5. So mile 3 was my slowest at 8:59. After that pit stop I felt much better. The next several miles were around 7:30 pace. At mile 9 I hit a 8:08 as I stopped quickly to refuel my water bottle. The weather was hazy and humid so I made sure to stay hydrated. I hit 16 miles in Shipshewana in 2:04:40 and refueled the water bottle and hit the bathroom. Halfway done, and I was feeling good. The next 6 miles, 17-22 I picked it up some, it helps that the trail is slightly downhill heading towards Middlebury. 7:01 was my fastest mile at 22. Mile 23 was my bottle fill up time and it was about empty since I was sweating hard due to humidity. Temperatures were fine it was just muggy. 9 miles to go I thought to myself I got this in the bag. At 26 I hit 3:18:19 which I glanced at my watch at the 26.25 mark right around 3:20 for a marathon. The last bit of the run went by pretty good, even though I had a nasty climb on CR 20 to go up. I was around 7:35 pace the last 6 miles. The best sight to see when running is the finish line. I was glad to see my house when climbing my last hill up to our subdivision. 32 miles done, and I was all sweaty. 4:04:14 overall time 7:38 per mile pace. I negative split my second half. I was 1:59:34 the last 16 miles. Before I started my 32 mile journey in my head I was shooting for something close to 4 hours. Overall, I felt good afterwards too. My family even went out for bowling that evening. Hopefully I have a few more birthday runs in me in the future.



Two races in one day

On June 9th 2018, my wife Laura Gillette and I had planned to do two local races in the same day, and one of races had a  mile that the kids would do. It’s not often that you can do two races in one day, but we were up for the challenge. I will admit I was a little nervous on race night while in bed, it probably didn’t help that I watched WHERE DREAMS GO TO DIE – Gary Robbins and The Barkley Marathons, if you haven’t seen the movie it’s free on Youtube. Anyways I kept thinking I would either out sleep my alarm, or miss a turn or something like that. I know weird, but sometimes you get that feeling the night before a race. 

The first race was in the morning and called Puerto Rico Rising 5K RUN/WALK it was held at Bethany Christian schools in Goshen. The race proceeds were to help efforts to benefit Academia Menonita Betania (Bethany Mennonite Academy) of Aibonito, Puerto Rico….a pre-K through 10th grade  Mennonite Education Agency school and service location for Mennonite Mission Network Volunteers. Hurricane Maria has significantly damaged the school. I thought it was a neat idea to do. One of our running friends Ruben Falcon and his family were organizing the run. The race had volunteer to watch kids so parents could run the 5k. So that was awesome and both Laura and I could run race at same time which doesn’t happen often. The run started at Bethany and then went out and back on Bethany bike path that goes to Goshen College. It was really flat. The goal for Laura and I was top 3. I ended up winning and getting 17:28, and Laura got 2nd female in 20:12. We finished right before it started down pouring, unfortunately some runners did get soaked. Luckily there was a pavilion for the awards ceremony. The race came together very well for first year event and Laura and I both got some nice prizes fleet feet gift cards and I got some cash.

The 2nd race we were to do that day was Randy Miner Memorial Country Run held at Etna Green, Indiana in the evening. One of our running friends Todd Hoffer puts on the race in memorial of Randy Miner. Funny thing on way there the kids asked in the car how many hours until we get to the race. I think they are used to our family travels with marathons, and driving a while to get to races. Anyways this race I was doing the mile run, kids would do the mile run, and Laura the 4 mile run. The weather was great considering other spots in Indiana were getting thunderstorms, it was clear skies and sunny in Etna Green. The mile course you ran about 400 meters or so on grass then the rest in the city streets. My goal was top 3 to get a nice prize, handmade clock and fleet feet gift card. There were some fast runners in the mile so I knew it would be tough. The race started with a firing of a cannon, if that didn’t wake you up to run, then I don’t know what would. I was close to the leader in the grass, could tell he wasn’t used to running in grass as much as I am due to getting off road for running. Anyways once we got on the road he put a couple of surges in to gap me. I stayed somewhat close to him until 500 meters to go, then he really turned it up, and I pretty much knew I had 2nd so just wanted to keep my placement. I ended up with a 5:08 and 2nd male in the mile. Then I waited at finish line to see my kids come in. On Tuesday June 5th Reith Runs Brayden actually beat Natalie, and she wasn’t happy about it, and doesn’t like me to bring it up. So I was wondering if she was going to hold him off in the mile. I saw Natalie coming up towards the finish line 8:28 was her time, and 4th overall girl to come to the line, and first in her age group 9 and under. Then I saw Brayden I could tell he was exhausted and he was battling some other boys towards the finish. They ended up out kicking him and Brayden got 8:44. That’s a personal record mile for Brayden, not bad on a tough mile course with grass and hills, he held his own against some bigger kids. Next was Laura in the 4 mile. The 4 mile course is a country square course. The goal for Laura was top 3. They started up the hill and next time I would see her would be when she was finishing. It didn’t take long and the first few guys arrived. Then I saw the lead gator vehicle and noticed it was my wife who was leading. Awesome! She finished first female in time of 26:57.

We both enjoyed the challenge of two shorter races in the day. We picked up some nice awards from the races and got some excellent speed work in.


Oh Boy! Race Recap

Back in December my wife and I had tentatively made plans to do a family trip out East and for her to knock out another state with Vermont City marathon in Burlington, VT, and for me to do knock out a new one as well at Oh Boy! marathon in Waterbury, Connecticut. Also, we thought it would be fun to see family members that we have out East. Several things had to fall in place for it to work: we had to wait to make sure we weren’t bombarded with a bunch of snow days at school, since school would be out Thursday before Memorial Day, and I would have work Friday for Teacher Records day. We had a few snow days and even a flood day. Luckily, we had used some built in snow days: holidays like Martin Luther King Jr day, President’s day, and a planned make up day on April 27. Once it looked safe from any snow we registered both of our races, booked the hotels, and made arrangements with family for Memorial day. We left as soon as I got home Friday to start our journey. Sunday was Vermont City marathon for Laura and she ran a 3:09 and 15th female in a huge field and Memorial Day Monday was my marathon below is the recap for my run.

Not many marathons are on a Monday. Luckily for me Oh Boy! Marathon is always on Memorial Day, so I was able to do Connecticut, with our quest of all 50 states. I hadn’t really thought about my race plan for Oh Boy! I was coaching my wife that week getting her ready for Vermont City marathon. I knew one mission was to try to get the course record of 2:56:14. The USATF certified course for Oh Boy! is an out and back 2 mile loop with some flat sections and some rolling hills at Hamilton Park. So my plan was to ease into the first few loops and get used to the terrain then try to pick it up later on. It was nice to see one of our friends at the race, which also happened to be his birthday. What a way to celebrate your birthday Benn!


The pre-race instructions were given about 10 minutes before the start on the 53 degree day. Plus, a moment of silence for those who died fighting for our freedoms and remember then on Memorial Day. Then a Pastor blessed the race and gave a prayer. A very nice touch with both of those things. The race director also told us why race was called “Oh Boy!” I will let you try to figure that out by checking the race out yourself.

Ready set Go! Race goes off and one of the marathon runners took off like a lightening. “Oh Boy!” I thought to myself, this will be interesting. I told myself stick to the plan and see what happens. First mile 6:23, and guy in lead probably had 100 meters on me or so. We get to the sidewalk portion and it was a little narrow but had some downhills, but I knew at the turnaround part we would have to climb up those downhills. Man were those hills on sidewalk a little tough. I thought from the turnaround point to the finish that mile section was always a little bit slower due to the hills you had to climb up. Considering you had to do the loop 13 times those little hills did add up for sure, but overall it wasn’t too bad, especially if you relaxed on downhills.                  Anyways the guy in the lead kept looking strong and had a lead on me. After mile 6 I had to hit the Port o John really quick for a number 1 stop. It was a bit cooler, and misty/hazy/humid. I knew I needed to make a pit stop since it felt like I already I had to go. So mile 7 was my slowest at 6:41 due to the pit stop. Now the leader had probably 90 seconds on me. Time to reel him in I thought to myself so I dropped a 6:27. Then I saw my cousin Stephen, who lives about 30 minutes from Waterbury. I thought to myself I can’t sandbag this sucker, let’s get this guy, and try to win it, boom 6:08. I didn’t see the leader anymore? Where did he go? My guess he probably had to hit one of the Port o John’s on the course. So I kept plugging away. 6:19 going up the hills on sidewalk, then I see the guy and boy is he flying to catch back up to me, most likely he had to do a pit stop. I knew I needed to keep grinding and pushing. Usually I would pick it up on the road section as well since there was more room to run. He kept holding strong. I probably only had about 40 second or so lead through 16 miles. I think he had to hit the bathroom again, because around 17 my lead looked like 2 minutes or so. Then when I was at 20 miles I saw that he was walking. The repetition of the hills must of gotten to him. I would later on lap him. I would cheer him on each time I saw him, hoping he would get a Boston qualifier time still. At mile 25 I noticed I had a shot at another 2:45. I pushed hard to try to break 2:45 but that didn’t happen. I finished in 2:45:09, first overall, and new course record! It’s my 3rd straight marathon in 2:45s which is consistent, and weird at the same time. Overall it was my 22nd state done, and 19th state that I have done a sub 3 hour marathon, and 89th marathon overall, plus 40th win. It was a fantastic weekend for us to race and to see our  family members.                                                                                 .34107647_704622230228_5838461238035611648_n

Kalamazoo Race Recap

     Initially I had no plans to run Kalamazoo marathon on May 6, 2018. It wasn’t on my racing schedule that my wife and I planned out with our races that work around her work schedule. It was over Spring Break April 2-6 when I was looking at game plan for April and May for our long runs and training schedule. Based on our schedule we would have to do a long run 20-22 miler on May 5-6 weekend to prep us for our marathons memorial day weekend. I then approached my wife about an idea I had for my long run with me doing Kalamazoo marathon on Sunday May 6. She knows usually when I have a crazy idea to just roll with the punches, and see what happens. She didn’t say no, and I told her I would make the decision after doing Circular Logic marathon on April 7th. April 8th she wanted an answer since the price would increase on the registration fee. I told her I’m doing it. I would just get up early and drive up on race morning and she could go to church with kids. So that’s the backstory on how I ended up on the starting line now time for my race recap.

    My plan for Kalamazoo was 2:45 or faster. I have heard the rumors that Kalamazoo is hilly. My plan was to go out easy so that I would have some left in the tank to tackle the late hills and not hit the wall hard. The marathon started with the half marathon at 8 am. One thing you always have to be careful is getting sucked into the crowd especially all the half marathon runners that go out hard. I knew to worry about myself and focus on my plan. I even told my wife that early in the week. My first mile was 6:12 it felt very comfortable. Several people were ahead of me from the marathon and half marathon, but I wasn’t worried. On the 2nd mile we had a little bit of a downhill. When you have a course that has uphills and downhills, you just go with the flow of the course. My 2nd mile was 5:59. Mile 3-9 had some climbs and some downhills as you go through Western Michigan University. Mile 3 was about where the marathon and half marathon split off and someone told me I was in 7th place at that point. I maintained 6:10-6:20 range during the section going with the flow of the course.

     At mile 10 I was able to pass a runner to move into 6th place. I was feeling really good at this point and hit some low 6 miles. I was pretty much in “no man’s land,” I didn’t  see anyone ahead of me so I was just focused on my pace. Then around 16.0 I got a glimpse of someone. “Is that another runner,” I thought to myself. My eyes probably lit up like a Christmas tree. “Game on,” was what I was thinking in my mind. As I got to mile 17 we had a nice straight stretch of running and it was in fact another marathon runner ahead of me. Then I saw another guy about 500 meters ahead of him as well. All of a sudden a guy on a bike got next to me and he a GoPro recording some of the race. I told him my plan is to catch those guys and he said I will check on you later to see if you get them. As we reach mile 18 I got one of them. Now I’m in 5th place. I didn’t want to get too excited and told the guy come with me let’s go we are almost done. He said I’m hurting it’s going to be a while. Then I got the other guy about 2 minutes later. I put a surge in right when I passed him to make sure I had him. Now I’m in 4th place I thought to myself. Around 20 we join the last part of the half marathon runners. I was feeling decent as we did some running on a bike path. I kept thinking ok how many half marathon people can I pass. It definitely kept me focused on keeping my pace at a good clip. I kept mile 20, 6:17, mile 21, 6:21. Then we approach popsicle hill. You know it’s going to be a tough hill when they have popsicles at the top, 90 feet of elevation gain in less than a half mile. At this point of the race you are focusing on one step at a time and conquering that hill. I looked at the top of the hill and moved up as steady as I could 6:31 in that mile. Had 4 miles to go and I dug deep to keep 6:25 pace the rest of the way even with a couple of little climbs along the way and a short steep one at 25ish. I looked at my watch and knew 2:45ish was possible and focused on a good finish. Although I didn’t see another marathon runner the rest of the way and only passed half marathon runners I did manage to finish 4th overall in the marathon with a 2:45:25. Overall I was satisfied with my race, I moved up in placing throughout and my last 13.1 miles were only about 25 seconds slower than my first 13.1. Overall a great game plan, and my fastest marathon so far in 2018.


     Final thoughts: Yes Kalamazoo marathon has some hills, but don’t let it scare you away. I thought the race had excellent organization. Parking was very easy and right on site near start/ finish line. Decent post race food as well, chocolate milk at the finish is always a plus. I will always keep Kalamazoo marathon as an option if I need a marathon/ long run in the future. It is close enough to drive race morning without getting a hotel which saves money. If you have never done any of the races offered at Kalamazoo Borgess Run for the Health of it in 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon then you need to seriously consider checking it out in the future.