Tag Archives: Northville

How Runners Have Fun

WARNING: This post contains material of an “adult” nature. If it offends your sensibilities in any way, then I’ve done my job. And thanks for reading.

YOU NON-RUNNERS OUT THERE may wonder what runners do for fun. Well, the first answer of any runner would be, “running, of course.”  But contrary to what you may believe, we do know how to throw a party.

Me Playing Disc GolfHow good a party? Let me ask you this: at what kind of party can one have the opportunity to taste wine, drink a shot, sit in a Corvette, swim fully clothed, play disc golf, eat ice cream, and (gasp!) bare it all – while running? The answer is the Running Fit Events Dash and Burn Soiree, which took place Thursday night at a secret location near Northville.

The D&B is the annual “thank you” party for event volunteers, so only volunteers get invited. (See the end of this post for how to get involved.)  It’s low-key but a lot of fun. And this year the Events staff spiced up the pre-party run by adding a scavenger hunt. The mission was to locate area landmarks and/or perform certain activities, and Instagram photos back to the staff. As I (very happily) don’t own a smartphone, I brought along my daughter Rachel, who lent her social media expertise to the effort.

We teamed up with two nice ladies (Jen and Kelly), and were handed a hand drawn map of the Northville area and a checklist of things to find or do (including, yes, a “run naked” item). At 6:00 we were sent off. We had until 7:15 to return and hand in our checklist, along with the photos of items completed.

I believe this "half price for men" is grounds for gender discrimination.

I believe this “half price for men” is grounds for gender discrimination.

Some items were easy, such as climbing a tree or doing sit-ups. Others required exploring the Northville area – on foot, of course. Unfortunately, Kelly was injured and had to drop out, so our team of three hotfootted into town. Jen’s knowledge of the area proved incredibly valuable as we went through the list. Here’s a sampling of the things we were able to accomplish in 75 minutes.

Rachel scores big for our team!

Rachel scores big for our team!

Runners are very sophisticated drinkers.

Runners are very sophisticated drinkers.

The church people hoped we'd win. I didn't tell them what I thought we needed to do to win.

The church people hoped we’d win. (I didn’t tell them what I thought we needed to do to win.)

Lucky break: finding a real horse in the Northville Downs parking lot.

Lucky break: finding a real horse (big bonus) in the Northville Downs parking lot.

One downer in an otherwise great hunt: the Corvette owner rudely denied our request to sit in his car. And he worked in a sewing shop! Well, we know where we’re never going to buy embroidery supplies.

So – if you’ve gotten this far, I bet it’s because you want to know if people really ran naked. (That’s okay – I’d do the same). So here you go.

The “run naked” item was 250 points, and I felt that just might win it for us. So with Rachel out of earshot, I told Jen I would “take one for the team” when we got back to the party site. She was surprised but didn’t object, so I sprinted to the finish table and asked if there was time. But the clock was just past 7:15. Darn!

During dinner I moped a bit because of the missed chance. And the scuttlebutt (so to speak) was that at least one other team had done it. So I wasn’t expecting much when Randy stepped to the mike to announce the results.

“Wow,” he said. “This team really did all that stuff? The winning team, with 2,275 points. Jeff, Jen, and Rachel, come on up here!” We’d won it after all, and I hadn’t had to strip off. Just as well – I’m sure it saved at least one camera from exploding, not to mention my daughter’s head.

Jen on my left, Rachel on my right.

Me with race bag, Jen with camp chair and Rachel with her well-earned blanket.

Our prize was first crack at the swag table, piled high with shirts, mugs, and other race prize paraphernalia. I spied a Dances with Dirt gym bag – perfect as a drop bag for trail ultras. Mine!

And I got one more unexpected shout-out for my “Most Valuable Runner” performance in 2014, when I ran all 24 Running Fit races. Good grief. What am I going to do for an encore?

Actually, I got a possible answer to that the next day, when a friend of mine who lives in Portland helpfully told me about this:

World Naked Bike Ride website

It’s too late for this year, but in 2016? Do I dare? If I do, my devoted readers will be the first to know. Can’t promise any photos, though.

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Want to join the party next year? Volunteer for a Running Fit event – which you can do at an event’s website. (Click here for the 2015 race calendar.) In addition to a $30 credit for a race entry, you get on the “A list” for the D&B. Such a deal! And you don’t have to be a runner to volunteer, although it would help to study the language. (For example, “fartlek” is not an obscenity.)

Smoking, and the Bandit

Wow, what a week. Seven days, four running events. I’m going to recap today’s events here and save the other two for a bit later – just cuz I wanna.

1. Smoking (the good kind)

The day kicked off with the Flirt with Dirt 5K, a trail run in Lakeshore Park in Novi. Regular readers know how much I love me a trail run, but this was actually my first-ever 5K on a trail. My strategy was basically the same as for any 5K – run like hell – and after all the half marathons and 50K races this year, I was looking forward to letting it all hang out from start to finish. (So to speak – this was not a natural run.)

Start of the 10K race.

Start of the 10K race.

At the FinishI lined up at the front, literally “toeing the line” and got into the front group right from the start. The course had been advertised as “an ungroomed bike trail” but it was in terrific shape. There were sharp turns but it was wide enough to run comfortably, with fewer roots and stones than my other trail runs. So I kept up my pace, and to my surprise, nobody passed me, or even seriously challenged me. I charged up the final hill and over the finish line in 4th place overall – my third top 10 finish (all on trail runs) and best finish ever in a race.

I just had time to get my award and take a few quick photos, and then it was down the road to Northville and the Kona Run.

2. Forced Into Banditry

I’m a regular pacer for the Kona series of races, and thought it would be a good challenge to run the trail 5K and then pace the Kona 5K. I’d cleared it beforehand with Larry, the organizer. But when I got to the starting line, the pacer bibs and signs were nowhere to be found. Turned out Larry had relocated to the finish area, and there wasn’t time to go find him.

1st Time 5K - 2So, Plan B; I became an unofficial photographer and “race cheerleader”, and took photos of people who were running their first-ever 5K, along with high fives and encouragement. Then I ran in the second wave, with no bib, and took more photos. In running, this is known as being a “bandit.”

Bandits are generally harmless, unless they’re deliberately cheating in a competitive race – for example, by wearing someone else’s bib and essentially impersonating that person. But many in the running community consider banditing uncool, the attitude being that if you’re going to run an official event, you should pay for it.

Read more: Why Running Bandits are Bastards

The price of banditry - getting splashed by little girls.

The price of banditry – getting splashed by little girls.

But some bandits have more noble motives. Perhaps the most famous bandit is Kathrine Switzer, who ran the 1967 Boston Marathon when women weren’t allowed to participate. Actually, she did register (as “K.V. Switzer”) and ran with a bib, although it was nearly torn off by Jock Semple, the race manager, when he saw her on the course. Read Kathrine’s account of the event at this link – it’s a good read.

In my case, Larry had no problem with what I did. He even gave me one of the pacer shirts at the finish line. But next time I’ll get specifics on where he’ll be.

3. Like Fish, The Best Photo is the One That Got Away

But perhaps the most memorable event of the day took place at the cafe where I was enjoying a post-race latte and scone. I happened to be sitting outside near the road, and a car pulled up next to me and stopped. And the driver starting speaking to me in French!

Oui, Monsieur, il faut parler francais quand on est a un cafe.

Hanging out with fellow runners Hunter and Katie. Malheureusement, ils ne parlent pas francais.

“You’re outside at a French cafe,” he said. “You should be speaking French!”

Turns out he was a D-Day veteran, and seventy years ago this weekend he was in Normandy. I wish I’d gotten his photo, but there wasn’t time – he was blocking traffic. So I settled for thanking him for his service, and exchanging a few phrases in French.

Next up: a recap of the week’s other events, and looking ahead to the Liberty Festival in Canton and the Uncle Sam Slam.

Roadrunners in the Rain

THANKS TO MOTHER NATURE AND A FELLOW RUNNER for two memorable experiences Saturday night at the Northville Road Runner Classic 8K road/trail race.

Normally I don’t race much in midsummer. But I like me a good 8K trail run, for the challenge of the off-road terrain and a distance short enough to run hard. So I took a break from my LSD and slept in on Saturday morning. My body ordered me not to feel guilty about it.

Rain was likely so I packed a backup set of clothes, including socks and shoes. I even brought a warmup jacket, as the temperature had also dropped from the mid-90s of the past few weeks into the 60s. I was looking forward to finishing a run without being soaked in sweat. At the park I put on my race bib and set out on my usual one-mile warmup run. It started to rain.

"This is running! Embrace the rain!"

“This is running! Embrace the rain!”

People headed for cover. I kept running; a little water doesn’t bother me. Then the Good Lord turned the shower full on. My jacket soaked through. The flooded paths soaked my socks and shoes. I completed my warmup – after all, I couldn’t get any wetter. As I headed back to the pavilion, still in the downpour, I invited the people huddled under the shelters to come out. “What are you doing under there?” I shouted. “This is running! Embrace the rain!” (Yes, I actually did say that.) No one joined me, but someone was nice enough to step into the rain for a moment and capture this photo.

So I was soaked after all, and the race hadn’t even started yet. I returned to my car to change – and discovered that I hadn’t packed a second short-sleeve shirt. So I resorted to an act of anathema, and put on the race shirt before I’d actually run the race. (*)  I didn’t get struck by lightning or break a leg tripping on a tree root, so I guess the running gods forgave me.

ALSO SEE: Active.com – The Dos and Don’ts of Race-Day Etiquette

The rain ended shortly afterward, and we lined up for the race. I got off to a quick start and established a position in one of the front-running packs. From there I held my own until near the end, when one guy who had been just behind me caught up and passed. I felt pretty gassed, so I let him go. But as we emerged from the woods and the finish line came into view, I heard someone behind me shouting, “Go! Catch up with him!” I glanced quickly behind me and saw a guy in a white shirt charging at me hard.

This was too much. Not gonna happen. I went into an all-out sprint – and something amazing happened. In other races, my final sprints have been painful, gasping efforts. This time it was smooth, even effortless, a “finishing kick” I’ve never felt before, and it carried me over the finish line just ahead of him. Incredibly satisfying. Something to remember and carry forward to my future races.

Now here's a guy I don't want chasing me.

Now here’s a guy I don’t want chasing me.

PR Fitness at Road Runner Classic 2013Fellow PR Fitness runners Aaron (left) and Erin (center) were also there, and our small contingent acquitted itself very well. Aaron finished first in the 55-59 age group, and Erin won the female Masters – that is, she was the top woman finisher age 40 and over. I had a good race too, finishing second in my age group (50-54) and the third overall male Masters finisher.

The race shirt is pretty nice. The back has a variation of the old proverb that usually involves a lion and an antelope. But of course the road runner has a famous nemesis too.

Race shirt - proverb==========================

(*) There’s nothing wrong with wearing the race shirt before the race, but it’s a negative superstition among experienced runners. Kind of like saying “Good luck” to an actor before a performance instead of, “Break a leg.” The idea is that you shouldn’t wear the shirt until you’ve “earned it” by crossing the finish line. Many people wore it anyway, and one of the race volunteers said, “Nice shirt,” as I passed his station. So there you go.