Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brooksie Way Half Marathon; 30th September 2012

This was another race that was getting arranged with the help of my company, Tata Technologies, in much the same way as last years Detroit Free Press Marathon relay team last year. This year the half was the longest was the longest distance under offer, which suited me down to the ground. My son, Gordon, had also started doing longer distances as part of training with his school cross country team, so he wanted to run it with me. This was going to be our first long run together so I was looking forward to it. Gordon also contacted one of his friends, Yu, from his middle school cross country team and he was going to be running with us as well. The plan for this race, what with it being Gordon's first half and his friends first race since the spring, was to finish and still be ambulatory.

Up bright and early at 6am, grab a quick snack and get ready to head out to pick up Gordon and his friend at his friends house and then a 45 minute up to the Oakland University for the race. The field was going be significantly smaller than at Detroit, so getting parked near the start line shouldn't have been a problem. Hmmm, not so much, one lane into the car park meant that what should have been a leisurely drive up, packet pickup and a wander around for 45 minutes before the race, became kind of hectic and rushed, not the best start, but hey, you have to play the hand you are dealt and not necessarily the one you want, right? Work colleagues wanted all the runners from the company team together for a group photo, which we missed, ho hum. Anyway, off to the start and we were ready to rock.

Conditions we absolutely perfect for the race, a little cool, beautiful blue sky. The course, recently voted one of the best fall half marathons in the US, was apparently going to be a little hilly, with a mix or road and trails with plenty aid stations throughout. We lined up near the back of the pack as it was bloody mobbed and we couldn't fit in anywhere else, it did mean that we were going to have to navigate the walkers, etc, but what the hell.

The first four miles went well, although it took a while for the pack to really start spreading out. I could tell that Yu was starting to feel it but didn't want to let on, he just asked if we could take a very short walk after a water station and kept on going from there. The following miles were interspersed with pleasantly wooded trails and rather long nasty hills. Every aid station became a progressively longer walk, but all kudos to Yu, he stuck it out and kept going, even when it became obvious that he was struggling.

Looking at the elevation profile before the race showed that while the first half was mostly downhill, it did mean that the second was obviously going to be uphill, and it was, quite impressively at some points, but we got there and took pleasure looking back down them afterwards. I felt good pretty much the whole race although I did experience some pain in my left inner calf after about 7 miles, which stayed there for the rest of the race, although didn't actually become debilitating  We got a view of the finish line with about 1/4 mile left to go and Gordon flew ahead of me, which I guessed he would as he had plenty left in the tank, I also cranked it up a notch and finished strong.

All in all a fun day, glad we did it.

Race Reflections

  • Beautiful course, nicely varied with trails, hills, etc.
  • Well marshaled 
  • Plenty of aid stations (almost too many, but you can never have too much of a good thing)
  • Lots of enthusiastic spectators
  • Lots of music, even a bagpiper at one point which was very cool
  • Running with my son was very cool
  • Extremely cool medal, very cool translucent inlay, the picture really doesn't do it justice.
  • Perfect weather
  • Parking sucked
  • Post race snacks very fairly under whelming

How Garmin saw it -
How Endomondo saw it -

Myself and Gordon, two generations of McWilliams
half marathon runners, kinda cool
Day glow green long sleeved tech shirt &
a particularly awesome medal


  1. Wonderful that you were able to run with your son! I did 2 5K mud runs with my son (now 19) and we could not have had more fun. I don't think we could ever do a half, but maybe someday.

    1. If you had asked me 18 moths ago, would I have ever considered even running a couple of hundred yards, I'd have said you were crazy, so who knows, go for it, you might surprise yourself...