Canal Run Recap

So we missed our Friday Five post last week because we were traveling to the Keweenaw Peninsula for the 2015 Canal Run. Despite the fact that we both grew up in this area this was our first ever time running this event.

The Canal Run was celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Canal Run was started in 1975, and is the premier running event in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Following the rolling hills along the Portage Lake Shipping Canal, the Canal Run offers three distances for runners and walkers of all levels, including a half marathon, 10-mile run, 10-mile walk, five-mile run and five-mile walk.

This year set a new attendance record with 846 participants over all the events. We decided to run the half marathon that had 224 registered runners. This event is not large enough to have an expo so Jen picked up our packets on Friday afternoon by herself.

This race was nice because both sets of grandparents helped us by watching our children while we ran. This is a luxury we don’t have in New York. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning to run. wpid-imag0768.jpg


I came into this race training for the Chicago Marathon and felt I had trained well enough to place in my age-group. I just set a PR at the Buffalo Half Marathon over Memorial Day weekend so I did not expect to beat it. After all, Buffalo is a very flat and fast course with one of the highest Boston Marathon qualifying time percentages. As evidence of how fast Buffalo is, I set my half marathon PR at Buffalo by 5:41.

I have only run one “large” race – Buffalo. Most of the events I run are smaller with fewer runners. The problem I have with smaller races is I feel the need to get to the front. So for this race I tried very hard to run consistent splits, which I did except for miles one and three which had more than a ten second variance off of my average pace. I slowly began to catch up to the those who shot out from the start around the four mile mark and began to move up in the field.

Around eight miles into the race, as I was passing a few people doing the five mile walk I asked if they knew how many runners had passed them. I was told only two! I was so excited to know that I had worked all the way up to third. At nine miles, I noticed the runner in second place around a half mile ahead of me. It took everything I had but slowly I gained ground and caught him at mile 11.5. I finished the race strong and crossed the finish line in second place!

I ended up setting a new half marathon PR by 2:59, finishing in at time of 1:28:39. I was very happy with how my race unfolded and I’m sure that my success breaking PR’s this season has everything to do with training for Chicago.  As is my tradition, my son got my medal before it ever touched my neck.


Canal run was my second race since having our daughter in January. Unfortunately, I haven’t been recovering from my c-section as well as I’d hoped and due to some recurring abdominal issues I haven’t been able to train the way I would like to. Going into this race the only goal I established for myself was finishing. All of the half marathons I’ve done in the past have been relatively large in terms of field size with the exception of this race. This was a new experience for me as I’m not used to being in the back of the pack – literally.

This race was very challenging to me both mentally and physically. It was hard to look down at my watch and see that I was running a better race than I ran in Buffalo in May, yet to know I was the last runner on the course. On the other hand, it was kind of fun to run with my own personal entourage (the state police and bike patrol, haha!) but I have definitely decided that I enjoy the larger races. I ended up finishing a full 4 minutes faster than my last race. I also got the pleasure of crossing the finish line with our son, which is always a bonus as not many races will allow children to jump in at the end. I’m looking forward to hopefully figuring out what’s going on medically so I can focus on getting into better shape for a fall race!


One of the things we look for when we select races is not just the area or the medals, but do they have a children’s race. The Canal Run has the Kid’s Dash which is a 1/4 mile run, finishing over the same finish line as all the other races, complete with t-shirts, bibs and medals for all the kids. This was probably the nicest kids race we have participated in. While some previous events have given shirts, bibs or medals, this was the first event where our son received all of these – for free! And to top it off his medal was a custom medal with it’s own Kid’s Dash logo. A very nice touch.


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