minutes per mile blog

detroit free press marathon recap

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….

Pre-Race Prep

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…_DSC0850Anthony 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…_DSC0848Saturday 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 😉1017151457After 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!1017151614bA 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.1017151609And 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.

Race Day

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.detroit_free_press_marathon_2015_1018150701Anyways, 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, 7:36detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150728aAt 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?!detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150735aWe 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, 7:17detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150743As we made our way out of Canada we had to endure mile 8, which everyone was dreading. The TUNNEL.detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150756cWe 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: 7:47detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150757Another 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…detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150805Miles 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.detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150827I also tried my best to get a good shot of this Superman/tutu-wearing man. He was surprisingly speedy.detroit_free_press_marathon_20151018150829bCrowd 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, 7:33.1018150906aAt 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, 7:36.1018150929aLowlight 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! 1018151021At 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.1018151036-001Hugs and a few tears were shared. Marathon #9: Done!!!1018151032-001Official 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!

54 thoughts on “detroit free press marathon recap

  1. Congrats, Mary!!! So impressive! I hope you’re taking the week off to relax, celebrate, and drink more wine!

    P.S – It looked freezing outside!

    • haha it was pretty cold, but actually a few degrees warmer than we’d been warned. so, not so bad. i think richmond last year was actually colder.

    • bahaha, i’m far from that but thanks! we need to do a marathon together! stop going to iceland and come to the warm, sunny south.

  2. Congratulations!!! What an exciting race. I’m so glad you showed those guys!! I ran my first half this weekend in Columbus, and it was 28 degrees at the start. BRRRRR.

  3. Congratulations on such a great race, you absolutely killed it! Way to run steady and stick with it through the finish. Ha, who the heck comments on someone else’s race? I had a pacer say something like that to me before.. they need to learn that if it’s not encouraging, don’t say it!

  4. I love the Detroit marathon! I’ve done the half twice and the full once. It’s so fun to run to Canada! The support on that side is so fun – donuts and orange slices. You’re making me want to do it again next year!

  5. WOWEE!!!!! CONGRATS!!!!

    You made your goal in my book. I loved reading the recap of the race. Do you mind if I use your photo of Through The Wall in a post that I’ll be writing about race signs and crowd support? I’ll give you credit of course and link back to your blog.

  6. Congrats on the huge PR! I had a friend run this race for her first marathon and she enjoyed it, too!

    I also feel you about the individuals who choose to start a race walking. I ran the Army Ten Miler last week and I was so frustrated by the number of walkers who chose to start in the early corrals. They just become a huge inconvenience when trying to navigate an already packed course in the first few miles.

    • ugh! i can imagine it’d be worse for such a popular race like the ATM. glad your friend enjoyed the race! hope she did well!

  7. CONGRATS!!!!!!! That is so speedy & amazing that you basically hit your goal! I’m so inspired by your determination & drive to push yourself when it gets tough! Way to show those guys too! You rock!

  8. That is awesome!! Congrats on a great race. I will share this with my husband — he did a marathon in Maine that went in and out of Canada which was a lot of fun. Maybe that could be #10 for you?

    What did you eat during the run?

    • oooh, i’ve always wanted to go to maine! mostly because i want to try this creation called poutine that i have heard of but never witnessed. i ate 3.5 huma gels and took sips of gatorade/water along the way.

  9. AMAZING JOB!!!!

    This marathon seems like fun! I love the whole US/Canada thing. There is one in Niagara Falls that does the same thing. I think I ran on the part you would have been on in the Windsor section when I was down there last summer. Some good running paths along the river!

    I’m not a fan of the walkers in the fast corrals either. I ran the Toronto Waterfront half yesterday and was in one of the ‘faster’ corrals, where really – you cannot walk that much to get the faster times – yet people randomly stopped and walked. I even saw one pair holding hands……

  10. Congrats on your PR! That’s so great that you met up with your friend right near the end-perfect timing! In my half marathon two Saturdays ago I got a PR by 13 minutes-I don’t wear a watch so I had no idea what my time would be until I saw it. I could not stop grinning for about 3 days! It’s hard to beat the feeling of a PR!
    I hear ya on the comment about the walkers. Sometimes I just don’t understand people. Do they literally have no idea what that what they’re doing is rude or are they just being selfish? No clue, but it happens in every race, and it blows my mind. Congrats again!

  11. What the heck…a 3:20?! Amazing – congrats on an awesome race, Mary!! This is inspiring me to get in shape!!

    • i’m sure you’re in fine shape! i can’t wait to get out of shape again. this marathon thing is too much.

  12. Congrats on your PR!!! Your pace is so inspiring. I’ve only hit 7:30 once during a speed workout, for like 3 seconds! LOL. I’m so impressed that people like you can hold it for 26 miles!

    • i don’t know how i did it, either! i guess if you just keep shaving off a second here or there, eventually it adds up. good luck to you!

    • haha, not so much abandoned furniture as just straight-up abandoned buildings. but really, i thought the course was pretty scenic. a few quiet spots but lots of pretty water views.

  13. Congrats Mary!looks like you ran an awesome consistent pace! Way to push through the wall!! Looks like a fun marathon. One to consider. Oh and I’m totally with you on the wine. Race week is not the week to give that up :) great work on making your super speedy goal!

  14. You are a rockstar, congrats! What a great accomplishment and how cool to end it with a running buddy!

  15. Congrats on an amazing race and an awesome PR!!! Can’t believe you hit 3:20 perfectly on the nose. You ran a strong and consistent race and should be so proud! How special to finish with your good friend! I love that the course crosses the border twice. Looks like a fun and great race to do. Good luck climbing down stairs this week :) xo

  16. Whoa! Great race, Mary! I’m really impressed by how much you’ve improved and that you were so consistent with your pacing. I did pretty well with my fall race as well. I ran a seven minute PR (2:45) though I think I was in shape to run even faster had I done a better job of running tangents (I had 26.78 on my Garmin. Yikes!) and been able to hang on to goal pace past the 20 mile mark. I loved reading this race recap. Wishing you the best from DC! :) ~David

    • thanks david! did you do MCM? for some reason i feel like that course is always long — everyone complains about it. that is speedy!

      • No, I ran Chicago this fall. I don’t think MCM is a very good PR course, so I always avoid it. I live right by the finish line, so it would be super convenient though.

  17. As a Michigander, I stumbled upon your blog. I spent the better half of this morning exploring it. It is very well done, informative, and inspiring! Great job on the Freep! You nailed the description to a tee. Belle Isle is so windy. :)