Sunday was the Detroit Half Marathon that I’ve been training for over the last 10+ weeks. Woody and I flew to Michigan Thursday after work. Friday we headed down to Detroit to pick up my bib since we wouldn’t make it on Saturday while the expo was open. The expo was pretty well organized – you followed an S of vendors including Women’s Running Magazine (where I got to meet B.O.B.), Brooks, local running shops, regional races, Meijer, and to my dismay, McDonald’s. The bib pickup was pretty seamless even though not only was there a half marathon, but a full and a relay.
After the expo we got back on the road and headed home for dinner with my Grandma. Saturday was a great but exhausting day, and after watching MSU beat Michigan for the fourth straight year, and give UofM their first loss of the season, we packed up the car and headed back to Detroit. We got to the hotel around 8:30pm, a little later than I had hoped. It took us quite a while to figure out the exact start location of the race. The race goodie bag was by far the worst I’ve seen. There was only one sample and maybe only two or three coupons. I was hoping there would be more details about the race, like when the waves start, where exactly the starting line was, etc, but no such luck. The only map that was detailed enough to show the start line was that on the Android App I had downloaded on my Dad’s phone. Anyway, once we figured that out, it was time for me to get everything ready for the next day which included stuff for wet weather as there was a good chance it would rain. On top of being super windy.
The alarm went off at 5:10am and it was time to get ready (I’m still half asleep in that picture). At Six, Woody, my parents and I found our way out of the hotel and followed the crowds to the start line. We were there with plenty of time before the 7am start so I got in one of the long port-a-potty lines and chatted up with a few other runners. Soon I was saying goodbye to my cheering section and got in a wave, several behind my assigned wave which was based on the finish time I had hoped for way back in January before my stress fracture in the Spring.
It was still dark out when the gun went off and each wave went about a minute and a half after the one before. All the runners were mixed in together – full, half, relay – and I kept reminding myself to run my own race. My warm up only consisted of the nearly mile walk from the hotel and some dynamic stretching at the hotel and in the corral. Thankfully, it was a nice 50 degrees and no rain. Just wind. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel once I started running, but turns out they felt great!
My cheer squad was down the road not even a mile and I waved as I passed. Then we hit the first water station – I always go to the end but that was a mistake because they already had Gatorade at the first water station. So, I had to wait till the next one. I also never saw the 1 mile marker and when we hit the mile 2, I realized they didn’t have timers up so there was no way I’d be able to keep any track of my splits. Which really didn’t bother me too much, but I thought it was weird.
Soon we were nearing the Ambassador Bridge heading to Canada. The approach was a little crazy, lots of loops and all gravel. Then, the high winds started. Not only do we have to climb a bridge, but we have to do it while battling crazy strong winds. What?!?! I pushed my way to the top and on the way down I thought it was sweat that hit me as a guy whizzed by me, but then after I felt a few more drops, I realized it was rain. We were welcomed into Canada by a cheering crowd, which was nice cause a lot of the route had been pretty quiet. We ran down the road along the Detroit River – and I checked out the houses and imagined the amazing view they have of Detroit. By now the sun was up but it was really cloudy and the light rain was still coming down. I walked through the last water stop, took my Hammer Gel, and headed towards the tunnel just was the rain started to come down a little harder.
The start of the tunnel wasn’t too bad, but after about three minutes, the cool factor was gone and I was ready to be out of there. Thankfully I’m not claustrophobic but the stale air was kind of gross and it was about 15 degrees warmer in there than outside. The incline seemed to go on forever and I could not have been more happy to see the customs and borders patrol guys saying “fresh air right around the curve”!
We ran through Hart Plaza, hit another water station and my cheer squad wasn’t far beyond. It was great to see them again and our plans were working on where to meet! I loved the signs they had made and my Dad was there with the camera. A little more than a mile later, my left leg started to feel a little funny up towards my hip. To this point, I was feeling great and had to keep slowing down my pace because I would catch myself going too fast. The pain kept getting worse but I tried to keep it out of my mind. The last few miles I just kept thinking that I was getting closer to the end and I tried to focus on the neighborhoods we were running through, the mariachi band that was playing outside the Mexican restaurant as we went by, the neighbors in Cork Town that had set up a massive sound system and were blasting classic rock to keep our spirits up. The crowds were pretty slim throughout most of the race, but when there were spectators, they were great.
I saw my cheer team again and knew I was almost there. Usually I’m able to sprint to the end, but this time I just wanted to make it across at a speed above walking. I crossed the finish line in 2:16:03, got my cool medal and found some water. I saw people with bagels and chips but never found out where they actually got them from. It’s okay though, since I wasn’t the least bit hungry and I can’t eat bagels anyway! I called Woody, broke out through a gate that was open and limped my way to meet up with them. I couldn’t believe how much my leg hurt. Seriously worse than when my leg was fractured. We made it back to the hotel after taking some pictures with the Spirit of Detroit and I iced for about 15 minutes and drank mint tea.
We checked out and headed to a Coney Island for brunch. It was also my Dad’s Birthday and I’m so glad we could spend it with him. Although I felt bad that it required him to wake up so early and stand in the cold dampness for hours as I limped my way across the finish line. He loves me though, so we he didn’t mind, too much! We also stopped by a Cider Mill in the afternoon for some hot apple cider and donuts (for Woody).
Aside from the pain (which I spent the majority of Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery having tests done trying to figure out what’s going on), I had a great weekend! I think I’m spoiled by the NYRR uber-organized races that I run because I do think quite a few things about this race was unorganized or unclear, but I do recognize that the logistics must be crazy to have so many runners going across international borders, so I do have to hand it to them for that. Also, it’s a great event to bring people to Downtown Detroit, which I’m always in favor of! But I’m not sure if I’ll run this race again. Actually, I’m going to rethink the distances I’m going to race in the future all together.
(Thanks to my awesome Dad for most of these pictures!)
Today’s workout -