This is the second time that I have run the Kalamazoo Marathon. I last time I ran in Kalamazoo was in 2016 after running the Wisconsin Marathon, completing the Mitten Challenge. This time I would be running on mostly rested legs and hoping for a better result than to just finish.
The expo was held at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. The expo seemed smaller than it did in 2016 and a lot less that I was interested in. I did pick up a Run MI Boco hat from Gazelle Sports but that was it. You had to walk through the whole expo to get to your packet and shirt. That was kind of annoying, but I get it. We were out of the expo probably within 10 minutes of entering.
The shirts are disappointing to me. The shirt is more of a 50/50 blend which I am not a big fan of, as well as a really small logo on it. The women’s shirt was pink also, which makes it even more difficult to see the logo. To me, I don’t care about the logo and how visible it is, I want something comfortable that I can run in. This shirt just doesn’t do it for me.
Tina and I handled this weekend a little differently than we usually do. To save some money, we decided to camp at a local state park at Fort Custer State Park. It was a beautiful state park with a nice lake to go swimming in. Tina and I have already talked about bringing the kids sometime this summer for a weekend. After we checked in and got the camper set up, we headed to the movie theater. I couldn’t think of a better way to stay off my feet than watching a 3 hour long movie (End Game). After the movie, we had a nice dinner and headed back to the campground for the night
This was my second marathon this spring, with Carmel being my first. The weather for Wisconsin was the direct opposite of Carmel’s cold and rainy day. Temps started off cool in the morning at 45 degrees, but it was a sunny day so the temps rose about 20 degrees from the start to the time I crossed the finish line. My main focus early on in the race was to hydrate and not to go out too fast. My goal was to run a 3:10 marathon, which is about a 7:14 per mile pace.
My pace started out real conservative, starting with a 7:31 mile to start. Probably a little too slow especially given that the first 2 miles are down hill. The second mile I did pick up the pace and got a 7:11 mile. My pace was about right on for miles 3 and 4 with both being in 7:16 but my legs just felt heavy. I remember on mile 4 running by Western Michigan University, yelling at my legs “why!!!”
The legs were just not there and this would be a tough course for my legs not to be there with me. this course has 700 feet of elevation gain on it. My goal became to try to stay ahead of the 3:15 pacer, but with my pace changing every mile, it was hard to judge how far in front of the pacer I was. I felt like I was running at a decent pace, probably because I was still passing other runners, but every time I could look back, they seemed to be getting closer and closer to me. I was running some very inconsistent mile splits. Some were in the 7:20’s followed by 7:40’s and then back down to sub 7:10’s.
The hills really got to my legs, and by mile 20, I was beat. The 3:15 pacer caught me and I had no response. I actually started walking at this point for a minute. I got going again but it was not too fast. Shortly after passing mile 20, a woman watching the race said “the last 10k is the hardest part of this course.” Thanks for the confidence boost, but she was right. The hill at mile 23 and the start of the last mile is awful. It just beats you up even more than the course has already.
There was nothing pretty about this race for me and at Mile 23, despite doing everything I could and making sure I was getting the fluids in me, I was becoming dehydrated. My fingers were tingling, which is the first sign for me that I am dehydrated. I knew I just needed to get to the finish line even if that meant walking some, which I did. It was a long last 5k but I crossed the finish line in 3:23:15. It was faster than I ran in 2016, but I also didn’t run a marathon the day before this year.fighting up the last hill
Overall, I like this race, its a good test of your body. It is not a fast course and you shouldn’t run it if you are looking for a PR or a BQ. However, if you are looking to test your body and see what it can go through, give the Kalamazoo marathon a try. The course support along the course is actually great and top notch. You run through so many neighborhoods, especially early in the race that are real supportive of the runners.
One thing that happened on the course, I believe on mile 11 was that a woman driver, who apparently decided to ignore the street closures, was driving on the course. When she saw that she could not get out one way because of the closures, she turned around and eventually ended up right on my heals. Now, I could have been a nice guy, and maybe I should have let her go by. But she was the one who ignored all the signs and was driving on the marathon course. She honked, I waved and kept running in the middle of the lane. Eventually she got on the shoulder and sped by. Oh the fun of running marathons.