Race Day Morning
When the alarm went off at 5:30am, I couldn’t get up. I was soooooooo nervous! Like a what-the-hell-do-I-think-I’m-doing-running-a-marathon nervous! But I knew that once I got down to the starting line the nerves would go away. And they did. As I was getting ready I kept checking out the window to see what people were wearing (it was 40 degrees out) and if it was getting busy. I couldn’t eat because of my nerves. I took 2 bites of a protein bar and had half of a bottle of water. I knew this wasn’t enough, but honestly it was better than throwing up so I had to risk it. Finally around 6:20am I was ready and Matt and I headed down to the starting area.
After saying goodbye to Matt…
I was ready to join the rest of the runners in line. The organization of the starting area made it very easy to find my corral. I started in corral G based on my predicted finish time of 4:30 when I registered back in July. I knew I was going to be nowhere near that time though; I was hoping for around 5 hours so I started at the very back of the corral. After what seemed like an hour, we were finally listening to the national anthem and getting ready to GO!
It took about 3 minutes for me to reach the starting line, and then we were off! The first two miles were very surreal. I kept thinking things like “am I really running a marathon?” and trying to figure out my pace. I was hoping to run 11 minute miles for as long as possible, but consistency really proved to be a challenge. One funny thing that I didn’t expect was all of the clothes being thrown off! I mean, I knew about throwaway clothes, I just didn’t realize that people just let them fall where they may. As a result, slower runners like myself were left to run a hurdles race for the first few miles. I feel sorry for the people that had to clean all that up.
Around mile 3 or so, the Ambassador Bridge came into view. I may not have mentioned this before, but I am TERRIFIED of bridges. And tunnels. By choosing this marathon I was hoping to conquer all sorts of fears! ;) We actually ran under the bridge before going on it and I couldn’t believe how high it was! I didn’t run many hills during training so this was a bit intimidating. Once we finally got on it the incline was gradual enough (4.5% I believe) that it wasn’t terrible. And the view from the top – wow. Amazing! I started eating my sport beans on the bridge to distract me, and before I knew it we were into Canada. They announcer at the tollbooth was telling us the male strippers were just around the corner and the women strippers were at mile 6. He also kept yelling “Welcome to Canada! Free Healthcare!” I was cracking up!
I believe it was around this point that I started getting a cramp in my shoulder. I tried to work it out but it stayed with me for a few miles. Everything else was functioning well though. I was following my plan to walk through the water stops and alternate water and Gatorade at each one. We ran through Windsor and quickly approached the tunnel at mile 8. It wasn’t nearly as hot and stuffy as I had heard that it can be – this is probably due to the cooler temperatures. I even stopped at the Canada/US border sign to take a picture of two ladies…it hurt my underwater mile time but I figured it was probably a once in a lifetime photo op for them! Plus, I’m running this for FUN, right? ;)
Coming out of the tunnel I was expecting to see my peeps, and I was so happy to see them! I got a Gatorade, Gu, and some licorice, talked to them for a few minutes, and then I was off. It was a nice little pit stop, except I forgot to give them the long sleeve shirt that I had tied around my waist way back at mile 3. Crap.
Check out that guy behind me! Nice T&A!
Around mile 10 I realized that it had been the most enjoyable 10 miles I’ve ever ran! The weather was perfect and other than the shoulder cramp, it was easy breezy. Somewhere around mile 11 some nice peeps were handing out M&M’s. Sweet! I love the little things in life. At mile 12 the half marathoners parted ways and I was sad to see them go. There were 8,000 of them and only 4,000 full marathoners, so after the split I felt like I was running alone. At mile 13 Matt and crew were supposed to be waiting for me but somehow I missed them. They decided that Starbucks and McDonald’s were more important than my silly little marathon. Just kidding, guys! You know I love ya. I was really hoping to see them though, because I was still wearing my shirt around my waist and I didn’t dare throw it away. It’s a favorite.
Miles 14-17 kind of sucked. I had lost my half-mary friends, didn’t see my peeps at mile 13, and I was running past warehouses and into the running unknown. My longest training run had been just 15 miles, so I didn’t really know what to expect after that point. Somewhere around here there was a Gu station. This was my first time ever using Gu, if you can believe that. I had a lemon-lime Gu, washed it down with some water, and kept on. Around mile 16 my hips and quads started to cramp up, so I decided to start taking walk breaks. I didn’t want to injure myself; I just wanted to finish. This was the strategy that I used for the next 10 miles.
Miles 17-20 were on Belle Isle. It is gorgeous there! There wasn’t a lot of crowd support but it was a good time to mentally regroup. Mile 20 started the second half of the race. I had read this before but now that I’ve experienced it, I believe it’s true. Once we got off the bridge and back onto the mainland, there was the most annoying “supporter” EVER shouting out to us on a microphone. I don’t mean to be crude, but when there is an overweight guy yelling telling marathoners in their 21st mile to not be quitters and get moving….yeah. Not exactly motivating. I overheard one girl near me telling another to “run faster to get away from that guy” – LOL! I’m glad I wasn’t alone.
The next 3 miles went through Indian Village where the homes were gorgeous and the spectators were incredibly friendly! They had jelly bean stands and “Polish Pop” (Pabst Blue Ribbon beer) stands and pretzels….so nice! The shady streets were also a nice break from the sun. I was taking walk breaks more frequently by this point…my hips literally felt like they were going to snap. And I was feeling overall tired and HUNGRY. I ate a pretzel rod at one of the stops but I needed some real food.
Around mile 25 I decided to stop taking walk breaks. THIS IS IT! We were back downtown Detroit and a police officer said I was “2 blocks straight, 2 blocks left, and a long sprint from the finish.” Hey thanks dude, but these legs are NOT sprinting! When I got to the straightaway and saw the finish line…that was the best view ever! Plus I saw Matt, DJ, and Rachel on the sidelines cheering me on – it felt like I hadn’t seen them in years!
I coasted into the finish and immediately started chowing down on a banana. lol
I forgot to throw my arms up at the finish, but hopefully I at least managed to smile! The official pictures should be available any day now so I will post them as soon as they are.
My official time was 5:27:44 for 26.52 miles. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but not too bad considering it was 11.5 miles further than I have ever run before. I tend to hold myself to a pretty high standard, so I have to keep reminding myself that I ran a MARATHON. Something that 99.9% of the world will never, ever do.
Sunday through Tuesday my legs/hips were VERY sore, but I am happy to report that the soreness is now gone! I didn’t get a SINGLE blister and I have no new injuries.
I have every intention of completing more marathons, but I will most likely have to wait until next spring, unless some hot airfare deals open up for Vegas in December. Otherwise I have no desire to run long training runs in the Michigan snow and ice. Since this marathon was so slow, I think a significant PR for the next one should be a realistic goal. I know I’ll never be BQ fast, but I would love to eventually run a 4:30 marathon. We’ll see.
Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement. And congrats to the other bloggers that ran Detroit – it was a great day for a marathon. :)