Off to Mars

THERE’S A LITTLE RACE OUT EAST on Monday. It’s called the Boston Marathon, and I hear tell it’s very popular. A fair number of PR Fitness runners will be there, and we’re all rooting for them to rock it out. I won’t be there; my hand-lettered invitation and personalized racing bib must have gotten lost in the mail. But that’s okay, because I’d already signed up for the half marathon on Saturday’s Martian Invasion of Races in Dearborn, and I prefer to support local activities. Don’t we all?

The 2013 Martian PR Fitness contingent. Yours truly, far right (spatially, not politically).
The 2013 Martian PR Fitness contingent. Yours truly, far right (spatially, not politically).

“Martian,” as it’s called for short, is also a big event, with races from 5K to full marathon and a very popular “Meteor Mile” for kids, who all get a racing bib and finishers medal just like us bigger kids. It’s also the only race I’m aware of that has chocolate milk at the finish, which runners consider a top-notch recovery fuel, although personally I find it a bit too rich after a long hard run.

Martian spiritThis will be my third year running the half marathon at Martian. The first two were cold and damp, and this year looks to be the same, but I’ve had a good time anyway, and a couple of memorable moments:

In 2011, I started the half marathon dead last. I was in the starting queue when I felt a sudden call of nature and ducked into a porta-potty. When I came back out, all the runners were gone! After confirming that they had indeed taken off without me (the nerve!) I charged through the starting gate in hot pursuit. As I ran down the road all by myself I felt like waving my arms and yelling, “Wait for me!” but decided that would be too goofy. I caught up to the main pack after a couple of miles and wound up with a pretty decent time. Thank goodness for chip timing.

(This wouldn’t be the only time. Last year at Run Woodstock I showed up late for the 6:00 a.m. trail run start, so not only was I by myself, it was still pitch dark and I had no idea where the trail head was. But that’s another story.)

Lining up for the Meteor Mile.
Lining up for the Meteor Mile.

At the 2012 Martian, I broke 1:40 for a half marathon for the first time. After a lackluster first couple of races that year, it was my first indication that I was indeed “a different runner,” as my coach put it, than I had been the year before. The highlight for me was after mile 10, when I was just trying to keep pace with several faster people ahead of me and wound up passing them instead. And seeing 1:37 on the clock as I crossed the finish line was a terrific feeling.

A finisher's medal worth showing off.
A finisher’s medal worth showing off.

Tonight was my final pre-Martian prep run, a five-mile easy jog after work. It was cold and damp outside, which means it was a perfect tuneup. Look out, Little Green Men, here comes the Whitest Man in America (*).

P.S. If you’d like to watch the 2013 Boston Marathon, it will be streamed live online for free at starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.


(*) Paler than ever, after this winter. I don’t need reflectors at night – I just roll up my pant legs.

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