Bayshore Half Marathon Recap

By: Zach Ripley

Make Memories with Others

Before diving into this, I must reflect on something I have found to be of incomparable worth in every stage and aspect of my running journey (enter awkward middle school years reference).

Every experience is better when shared with people I know and love.

I’m obviously not the first person to realize this (running groups, teams, clubs, etc.). But what I have realized is that I don’t always make this happen, and I really should.

Three aspects of the community runner concept I’m articulating come to mind right away.

  1. Make it a family thing. In this case (Bayshore), my family (Andi’s parents, siblings, and all the accompanying little ones) vacations in or near Traverse City every year for the Memorial Day holiday, and many of us run some event or another at Bayshore (this time: George, mom (Robin), Sage, and myself all ran the half; Doni ran the 10k… and Andi would have run the half but for the injuries this spring). We have a blast with this. Other family members often come out to watch (if they can get the little ones up in time), and everyone is instrumental in making the day work (thanks, Caleb and dad, for holding down the fort and remaining kids!).

2. Anticipate friendly rivalries or competition. Hats off to Matt Melvin for making it a race despite aggressive tactics on my part (more on this later) and less than ideal circumstances. Ahead of time, I knew Matt would be in the race, and having competed previously (he also runs with some of the crew I used to race with at Playmakers!), I looked forward to the contest. This concept has been elevated by the near-saturation of Strava (you can find me under “Zach Ripley”) in the running world, something I quite enjoy because it helps me stay connected to my acquaintances and friends in the running world.

Matt Melvin finishing the half marathon while passing 10k finishers.
Miles, Zach, & Griffin after the races.

3. Do the running thing with others. Even outside of competition, and however frequent or occasional, connecting with other runners has a huge positive impact. For me, this falls mostly in the digital sphere (Strava, again) simply because my schedule makes running with others a bit tricky (I log most of my mileage starting between 5:30-6:00am and don’t leave myself much time for anything else in the morning). Still, some of my most memorable running moments were everyday runs with old friends or new running pals. (Couple more shout-outs here: Dave DeVries, Pete Mumbower, Griffin Bohannon, Morsi Rayyan, Jamal Ismail… so many more!)

The key, in my mind, is to make the running experience a community thing as much as possible. In my own experience and in that of a great many others, I have observed the powerful motivation, encouragement, and inspiration that results.

Now, back to Bayshore…

I do mind the rain after all.

That’s the last time I say out loud before a race, “I don’t mind a little rain.” Seriously. Never doing that again.

It was silly, in fact, how the weather went down. You see, when running the Bayshore Half Marathon, it is important to remember that the race is point-to-point and requires shuttling to the start in a bunch of school buses. Once at the start, you do what you gotta do before checking your bag and hitting the line.

No problem. Now insert the rain.

That shuttle bus thing? 3,500 runners all have to do it. So it takes a bit. All of that bit is spent waiting in line. With no umbrella (unless you’re George. Good thinking, George).

Then, of course, there is the harrowing 12 minutes on an old school bus so fogged up that you can actually taste coffee and Gatorade when you breath it in. Also, the bus driver can’t see. It’s not really a big deal, so long as he avoids driving into the lake on the one side or off the clifflike trench on the other.

Don’t forget that when you get off the bus, it’s still raining, and now you have to wait in yet another long line for a jon.

By the time I actually got to the start of the race, I had about 17 different notes to self ready to post.

All that aside, the race itself was quite sporting, though, so let me dig into it a bit.

Race Plan

I will always reiterate the importance of knowing the race you are running. For me, this involves some amount of scoping the competition (yes, Matt, even without an elite athlete bio). It also involves some race-time tactical choices if I am not confident from other sources about what to expect. More on that later, though.

My intent for this race was to run hard and win, assuming the running hard part worked and the competition did not run harder and win better.

It’s actually a fact that very rarely do I ever race with a goal time or goal pace. Aside from marathons (because it would be stupid NOT to have a plan for pace/time) and qualifying events, I run simply by effort and contest.

Race Experience

If you are familiar, the Bayshore Half starts on a 4% incline (appropriately, the road is Devil’s Dive). That incline is sustained, more or less, for one mile. For me, that was a perfect opportunity to implement my tactical evaluation strategy. I held back up the hill and just watched the other runners to see what would manifest.

Once over the hill, I had a good idea about who was hoping to contest the victory and used the downhill that followed (once again, about 4% grade for nearly a mile) to overtake the leaders and test the group. When possible, a downhill is a great opportunity for a little pressure on the pace because the return is far greater than the cost (as long as it is not so crazy that you are losing control).

The race very quickly turned into a duel with Matt Melvin, but he started fading around halfway (and later told me that his body wouldn’t respond to his attempts to keep the pressure). He still ended up second with a few minutes on third, salvaging a strong effort despite having to relinquish the victory.

From that point, it was a solo effort and an exercise in focus for me.

Everyone loves this course!

Setting multiple events to run on the same course at the same time is quite exciting. And it’s terribly inconvenient (for all the runners). Bayshore does that thing where multiple races finish simultaneously AND run the same final few miles (full, half, and 10k all run the same last 5k and finish).

Depending on the timing, that can be brutal. It meant that I (and reportedly several of the other half marathoners) spent a good amount of time weaving and dodging other runners. Admittedly, part of me enjoys that because it makes for an exciting twist to the final miles. However, it is horrible for the runner trying to hit a big PR or actually racing other runners.

If Matt had been with me still at that moment, things might have gotten dangerous. Think Lion King in that scene when Mufasa is rescuing Simba from the stampede.

Otherwise, the Bayshore races may very well be run on one of the most beautiful courses on the planet. The winding road with gentle slopes and intermittent views of Lake Michigan are amazing. It’s no surprise so many do run PRs there, especially in the marathon.

Do as I say, not as I do…

It should be noted here that my recent half marathon racing is exactly the opposite of what I would have recommended were I to have asked myself for advice on the matter. I’m on the return from a significant bout of training disruptions and nowhere near base levels of mileage, long runs, and workouts. To anyone in the period of rebuilding after injury or even just some general time off, avoid significant hard efforts.

That said, both of these races (take a look at the Flying Pig post from a couple weeks ago) were commitments made long before the fall/winter injury spree. Otherwise, I would never have done it.

Coming soon!

So next up for me? A heavy block of some old-fashioned base training for at least 8-10 weeks before I start trying to scratch the racing itch again. I might hop into some things a couple times this summer, but the focus is now on the fall and, yes, another full marathon. It’s been 3 years, so some of the scars have faded and most of the wounds have healed.

Here’s to a healthy push toward the 2019 Chicago Marathon!


Also, we are interested in knowing whether you want occasional updates along the way. Interested in what Zach does for training? How he approaches workouts or long runs or recovery efforts? What he does to stay healthy or maintain general strength and mobility? Curious about any of the low profile races he jumps into? Share in the comments or hit us up on our social media! (Same goes for Andi! Let us know what you would like to see more.)

14 thoughts on “Bayshore Half Marathon Recap”

  1. Congrats on a great race. Like Dan said it’s hard to dial it back and ‘recover’ easy for a few days. I’ve been reading 80/20 book and it’s such a mental things it’s crazy.

    I know everyone is different with running and fueling, but just wondered what you diet is.

    1. Totally, Steve. 80/20 is a great guideline rule that will always ensure that you (1) don’t overdo it and (2) feel as fresh as possible for every hard effort. And since Matt Fitzgerald wrote the book, you know it’s got plenty of real data and science to support it!
      Diet for me is exactly what you might expect: I eat whatever is in front of me. Our menu at home is a lot of chicken and rice/quinoa, pasta, or tacos. We pay almost no attention to things like organic or all-natural, reliably eat some kind of baked good dessert near-daily, and don’t hesitate to grab a bag of chips, a burger and fries, or a doughnut.
      The key is amounts. I can tell you exactly how I’ll feel on a morning run if I had a few too many cookies or a greasy burger the night before. But that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge. That’s what works for me!

  2. Good stuff and congrats on the W! I know it’s not the sexiest topic, but I love learning what competitive runners do to stay healthy and maintain general strength and mobility? For me, this is the more challenging part of training.

    1. Completely agree, Steve. Perhaps others don’t think so, but I find that topic to be perhaps the MOST interesting!
      That said, we’ve got good things coming your way. Two solid resources you can always consider on your own include whartonhealth.com (the stretch book and the strength book are great sources of runner-focused routines and exercises) and just about all of Jay Johnson’s SAM stuff (strength and mobility).
      I don’t necessarily endorse these, but I have found both quite useful over the years!

  3. Love the recap! I’m at a point in my running where I’ve plateaued and am struggling to make gains with my pace. I would like to hear how do both of you work on the small stuff (i.e. diet, cross training, etc) to get those incremental gains to continue improving?

    1. You said it, Travis: incremental gains over time. That’s a great one. We’ve got lots to say about it (not all of it is helpful to everyone, which is why we have so many things we could say – some work for some people and some for others).

      First comment I would offer: connect with an expert on some of those elements (we work with Adam Homolka at Endurance Rehab [athleticrehabilitation.com] not just for the PT care but also as a kind of GSM – general strength and mobility – coach/trainer).

      Second quick comment: stronger and more mobile always = better running (for some a lot, for others a little). Starting there is key, and knowing specifically what to work on/improve will help avoid causing problems (that’s where someone like Adam helps a ton).

      Let’s work this into some future posts more. Also, it might not hurt to check out Matt Fitzgerald’s latest writing on nutrition: The Endurance Diet.

  4. Great recap and covering a lot of ground beyond the mile by mile action! Looking forward to some maintenance posts on keeping the training and racing moving forward with a healthy body. Also when the injures do come along…

    1. Pete, for sure!

      I would also encourage you to take a look at a few of the recent posts Andi has written on injury and goals. Some keen insights there.

      One of her next posts will be addressing the nature of training DURING an injury, too, so stay tuned!

  5. Zach, really enjoyed reading the blog and enjoy watching your runs/workouts on Strava. As a veteran runner, aka old, I also have the issue of not respecting the recovery runs as much as I should and even though I know I should be backing way off on these recovery days, I get wrapped up with motoring along at a “comfortable pace” and call it good. Then when I look at what I just ran, pace wise, I just shake my head at my self and know that is just not a good plan of attack during a training cycle. Any thoughts you have, even though we run at much different paces, would be appreciated. Thanks and keep up the great running and maybe I will bump into you in Chicago as I am planning to run the marathon with my daughter during her first marathon! Dan Oumedian

    1. Thanks for the note, Dan. Runners of all levels seem to struggle with that (personal experience and anecdotal proof of that one!)…

      I feel like visuals are the best way to address the concept of taxation vs. rest in running… Maybe that would be a good element to include in a future post. For now, though, the biggest lesson I’ve learned personally and read about widely is not as much about some kind of magic ratio or balance (something I used to think), but more about a larger strategic approach.

      And in a simple comment section, I am not going to do that thought justice… so I feel the need to drum up a more comprehensive post on this one. In the mean time, though many call it outdated, I always recommend reading “Healthy Intelligent Training” by Keith Livingstone (disclaimer: it is a pure Lydiardist approach, so a lot of people think it’s rubbish. I disagree and will likely get into that at some point on this blog).

  6. First, thanks for the shout out. Now the comment; With all the focus Strava and Zwift put on KOM’s it seems a lot of the basic building blocks are being pushed aside because they aren’t “sexy” enough. I would love to see some good discussions on building quality base miles, VO2 max workouts, and since I’m older and don’t recover as well as I once did, good recovery programs. I would also be interested in discussions about, your favorite, cross training for those that physically can’t run 6 days a week anymore. Looking forward to how this works out for you both.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Dave – that constant temptation to run farther, faster, bigger… my Garmin account is another source of the same problem. It’s got to be more methodical and strategic than that.

      We’re brewing some posts about the training experience and some of the most common philosophies that work best for people (including what has worked well for us!). Appreciate the input this and will definitely keep it moving. Cross-training, too!

  7. Awesome recap of how it all went down on limited workouts! I follow on Strava and thought you might NOT be uploading (Sharing) some key track workouts etc. That said, u crushed it! 👊🏼 2019 guna be huge!

    1. Thanks, Jam! No secrets from me (in terms of Strava and workouts, etc.). However, it is always hard to get the full picture of what someone is doing just from the Strava feed. There’s always more to the story, right? Perhaps we can capture that better in some upcoming posts.

      Stay tuned!

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