With Gravity and Tailwinds

My aunt who lives in Marquette emailed yesterday to say Team Road Kill will start the 26-mile trek from the River Park Sports Complex on Hawley Street north along Co. Road 550 toward Big Bay. We’ll hit the pavement shortly after 8 a.m., just two minutes behind the mayor’s team. I still don’t know whether Big Bay is a town or a body of water or both, but I reluctantly agreed some foggy-headed time ago (February? March?) to run with Team Road Kill–a five-person co-ed group made up of my brother, dad, aunt, and cousin. It only recently dawned on me that being a member of the team also meant running five miles. Five miles in the same day.

I haven’t been to Marquette since 1992, and I’ve never visited Big Bay. Thanks to Google Street View and some of my dad’s handiwork running an elevations report, I’m starting to have some sense of Co. Road 550, its slopes and grades, shoulders and hazards. When there was discussion among the team earlier in the month about who gets the steepest hills, who gets the two-mile stretch, who gets the start gun fanfare of Leg One, and who gets the champagne and confetti glory at the finish line, I laid low, kept to myself. Waited. This tactic worked brilliantly. Everyone else on the team claimed these in turn: two-miler, hills, finish, start. This left me with the peaceful (if banal) UP spring jog that is Leg Two.

My rigorous preparation for the relay has been equal parts of watching Power 90X infomercials, clicking through segment after segment of (is it uphill or isn’t it?) Co. Road 550 on Google Street View, and trying to determine, based on the elevation report my dad sent, which miles will be mine. You can see below how I’ve tried to highlight my five miles, but is also happens–wishfulness error?–to be more down-sloping than I could have hoped for.

Big Bay Relay

That email from my aunt (no, not the one insisting that I wear a size L t-shirt, rather than the 2XL I asked for; yesterday’s email) included a hopeful weather forecast: high 80F, cool start near 50F, light winds from the south. Between the wind and the down slopes, here’s hoping I don’t have to do much running other than lightly lifting each foot in slow alternation until it’s finished.


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