Hello! I’m back from Detroit with a long race recap to share. Sorry this post is delayed — I have to wait until I get off a plane and access internet to publish it, and I’m too rushed to proofread it! Settle in for a lot of scrolling and hopefully not too many typos….
I felt so weird during the end of last week – no running and lots of eating! Carb loading can be hard but I gave it my best shot ;). Starting with pasta at home on Friday night…Anthony made a lemon-garlic pasta inspired by a dish we had in Naples. Hit the spot! Vino on the side. I know some runners cut back on alcohol the week before a race, but I just consider it another “good” carb…Saturday morning I was off to Michigan! I met Lizzie, her fiancé Tommy, and their friend Dean for some afternoon beer and tots. Again — great pre-race fuel choice 😉After hanging out for a bit, we headed to the Detroit Free Press Marathon expo so that Lizzie, Dean, and I could grab our bibs. Tommy was our support team and photographer for the weekend – thanks, Tommy!A few days before the race, I settled on my pace goals, all of which were aimed at beating my past PR of 3:25:03. A Goal: PR with a 2:22-2:23. B Goal: PR with a 2:24-2:25. Holy Crap Goal: PR with a sub 3:20.
I decided to be ambitious and jot down my name on a pace group bib (more on that later…). I’d never run with a pacer before but thought it might be a good race tactic.And that was it! Tommy’s family hosted us on Saturday night and it was soooo wonderful to have a home-cooked meal (more pasta!) and cozy bed the night before the marathon.
We woke up around 5 am, fueled up at home (two English muffins with jam + hot coffee for me), and drove our sleepy/nervous selves to the race. The full and half marathons started at 7 a.m., and by arriving there at 6:30 we had juuuust enough time for a quick bathroom stop and bag check. Glad that I brought some throw-away flannel pants and a hoodie, because it was a brisk 36 degrees at the start line.
Things got pretty chaotic around 6:50 a.m., when the race crew closed off the barricades and runners outside of the race area couldn’t get into the start line area. We were trapped outside with spectators. After a short panic attack, I joined a bunch of other crazed/late runners who crawled under and jumped over the barricades to get to the start line. Lots of pushing, shoving, and foul language… not cool. Overall, I thought that this marathon was really well-organized, but I think they could do a better job organizing corrals and start lines next year.Anyways, all of this meant that I could barely make it to the start line, let alone my pace group. Lizzie, Dean, and I had gotten separated during the pre-race rush, too. So, the gun went off and I started running solo, weaving my way through a group of slightly slower (8:30-ish) runners – as well as around those jerks who set out to WALK a race but decide to get in the 2nd corral anyways. (Sorry, I really can’t stand those people). Even though my race had gotten off to a bit of a rushed start, I tried to stay cool and reassure myself that I could pace myself, solo, for 26 more miles…
And I did! The first three miles were pretty easy. A gradual hill at mile 3 as we climbed our way to Ambassador Bridge, which was lit up and lovely! Excuse my on-the-move photos; I didn’t have time to slow down for clear shots Miles 1-3: 7:36, 7:34, 7:36At mile 4 we made our way into Canada! That was fun. As we were crossing the border, the Canadian guards made lots of inappropriate jokes about needed to strip search all of the runners. Ha. See the Canadian flags?!We were only in Canada for a few miles, but those were some of my favorites in the whole race. Awesome crowd support from the Canadians (who did not hand out shots of maple syrup, unfortunately…) and lovely views of the lake, too. There were a few downhills in Canada so I let loose a little bit on the pace. Miles 4-7: 7:39, 7:23, 7:35, 7:17As we made our way out of Canada we had to endure mile 8, which everyone was dreading. The TUNNEL.We ran a full mile in a stuffy, smelly, underwater tube. An interesting experience, for sure – but I was glad to get out of there! And glad that, despite rumors, my Garmin did not lose satellites. Mile 8: 7:47Another slight incline as we made our way out of the tunnel and back into the USA. The USA border patrol was way more serious than the Canadians…Miles 9-13 were kind of uneventful. We headed back downtown to drop off the half marathoners. Crowd support was great! I was still feeling strong at this point in the race and focused on keeping a steady pace. Even though I knew I could have picked it up, I tried my best to hold myself back and enjoy the interesting Detroit scenery… Miles 9-13: 7:36, 7:27, 7:30, 7:36, 7:25.I also tried my best to get a good shot of this Superman/tutu-wearing man. He was surprisingly speedy.Crowd support dwindled after the halfway mark (lame), but we did run through some beautiful streets full of fall colors. I started chatting with another runner around mile 16 and it was nice to have some company to help pass the time. Miles 14-19: 7:36, 7:29, 7:33, 7:37, 7:33, 7:33.At mile 18 I didn’t hit the wall (thank goodness!), but I saw it! I think my favorite part of the race was running through Indian Village – this Detroit neighborhood has spirit!
I lost my friend (and many others) when we reached Belle Isle. The WIND! Belle Isle was beautiful, but the strong breeze slowed everyone down. Since we were on mile 21, people started really dragging. I tried to zone out and not listen to all of the heavy breathing, coughing, swearing, and shuffling. Tough times. Miles 20-22: 7:29, 7:31, 7:36.Lowlight of the race: At mile 21, I ran by a couple of guys who must have seen my 3:20 pace sign on my back as I passed them. One of them turned to the other (assuming I was out of earshot, I guess?) and said “Oh man. She’s going to have to really push it for the next five miles if she wants to finish in 3:20…”
Haters gonna hate. I took his words and used them to push myself through that last tough mile, running as fast as I could to get off that bloody island! Since mile 23 was uphill with headwinds, my goal was to keep it under 8:00 and then make up for it later. Mile 23: 7:53
And then we were back in the city. Only three miles to go! At this point I started visualizing the finish line and reminding myself that three miles wasn’t that far – less than 30 minutes left of running this stupid marathon. Mile 24 was actually quite scenic as we jogged along the riverfront, but I was too exhausted to take a photo.
I wanted to finish those last two miles fast, but my tank was totally empty. Especially since there was a little hill at mile 25 – really, race directors?! That was cruel. Anyways, I gave it my best and kept a reasonable pace. I knew a PR was in the books as long as I kept running. Miles 24-25: 7:35, 7:47.
And just as I was about halfway through mile 25… I ran into Lizzie! She’d slowed down a bit at the end so we ended up catching each other. It was awesome to have my Nashville training buddy by my side as we ran toward the finish line – and I think that at that point, we both needed the encouragement. We struggled through that last mile, but were able to pick it up for the last 0.2 when the finish line was in sight! So cool to cross the finish line with a friend, especially after running the first 25 miles solo.
Mile 26: 7:54, Mile 0.2: 7:37. We hobbled through the finish line area in our blissful yet painful states.Hugs and a few tears were shared. Marathon #9: Done!!!Official time: 3:20:00, on.the.dot. – a second off of my “holy crap goal,” but close enough that I’m going to count it! I hope the guys from Belle Isle read this post :). So glad that I as able to meet my goal, and grateful to have such good company supporting me along the way. Including you guys, my readers! Couldn’t have done it without your comments, emails, and clicks Thanks so much for your support during the past few months of training!
More to come tomorrow!