It’s been a very busy week. Fast approaching deadlines at work, a midterm exam and several other happenings. But I managed to get the recap down, bit-by-bit when I had a chance.
I’ll try not to bore you with details. Hopefully some pictures will break up the monotony.
Jack and I headed down to Cobo Hall on Saturday for the expo. If you’ve never been to it, it can be overwhelming. The packets are located in the very back of the hall with a labyrinth of vendors you must pass first. I usually really enjoy going down and checking out all the vendors, but his year I wasn’t as interested compared to past years. We dabbled a bit and I looked for expo sales, but couldn’t find any.
When I picked up the packet, the volunteer told me that I must have my passport on me during the race. There is always a debate whether you have to or not, but this was the first time I was ever explicitly told to have it. One item you usually find great deals on at the expo are gear belts. Not this year. Because of the passport mandate, belts and holders were the hottest selling item. I saw SPIBelts on clearance last year for $10. This year SPIBelts started at $25.
I had my alarm set for 4AM, but Jack had other plans. He woke up crying sometime around 3AM and apparently this was the second time. I slept through the fist time and Lauren calmed him back to sleep. He wanted to go downstairs, so we laid on the couch together and fell back asleep. Around 4:30 I took him back to bed and got ready. I was more prepared this morning than years past. I had packed everything up and laid my clothes out the night before. So I took an hour just relaxing, getting dressed and ready (band-aids, body glide, bathroom, etc)
I ate on my drive down. Apple cinnamon rice cakes. They are a great pre-race food. Light and easy to digest. There was little backup at the exit I took, but everyone was trying to get into the Greektown Garage, I was able to move around them and get a much closer spot on the street (Sunday – free parking!). I took with me the bare minimum: key, phone, the warm-up gear I was wearing and the gear-check bag. After Boston, the security policy had to change: no more backpacks or bags.
I made it down to the Fort Street Presbyterian Church, which is a block from the start and always opens it’s doors to allow the public to stay warm in their rectory. Its also where the GP Runners congregate for a group photo. With 30 minutes before the first corral, I headed down to gear check to drop off my pants, jacket, hat and gloves. All I was left with was my tank, shorts, and belt with phone, passport and key.
Despite being half-naked in 40 something degree weather, I wasn’t cold. The only part of me that was, were my hands. I was in corral E this year, which was the closest I’ve ever been to the start. On my way to the corral, I spotted my cousin who was running her first half marathon. She joked that she was all the way back in the last corral, but she managed a 2:30 finish. In my corral with me, were GP Runners John, Allison and Jess.I didn’t foam-roll or stretch at all. I was a little concerned, but there was nothing to do about it. I never pre-run stretch normally, but I try to foam roll prior to long runs. Calm, cool and relaxed I took a few shots around me and posted to Twitter. It was nice to not be a ball of nerves.
I found the 2:00 pace group and stayed in their proximity. My only goal for this race was to go sub 2 again. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me. My first sub 2 was on a uncrowded, straight, flat, shaded course. Detroit has two inclines and the first was coming up.
One of the greatest parts of the Detroit Marathon, is the fact that it is international. The course takes the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and 5 miles later you enter back into the USA through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel; the only underwater mile. I find the bridge to be one of the most difficult parts of the race, but it is also one of the most scenic. The bridge is about a half mile of 5-6% grade, followed by a half-mile of downhill. I managed to keep a 10 min/mi pace going up and made up my time by letting go of the brakes on the downhill. At this point I was still near the 2:00 pace group.
A local Radio DJ greets you at the customs checkpoint (you run right through, the patrol is there looking for bibs and anything suspicious). I was a little disappointed that the DJ wasn’t welcoming to us into Canada by playing Rush. He did however, announce that the next aid station would have Coors, because that’s how they do things in Canada. 1) Coors isn’t a Canadian beer, however they did merge with Molson. 2) He was lying. No beer.
It was after the first Canadian water station that I passed the 2:00 pace group. I expected them to catch up at some point, but they never did. I was feeling great, just taking in all the scenery. Soon after passing the 10K marker, I decided to take the one gel I brought with me. Before I knew it, I was heading to the tunnel entrance.
The tunnel breaks many of the runners, but it’s always been one of my best parts. Unlike the cold windy bridge, you decline first, going below the water. The temperature easily raises 10-15° and its a little humid. I think that is why so many people hate it. They are all wearing long sleeves and pants and suddenly sweating. Not me, I was already sweating a bit, but being in warm weather gear, I welcomed the warmth.
Once you return to the USA, you are greeted again by someone over loudspeakers, getting the crowds going. Apart from the Start/Finish area, this is probably the most spectator packed area of the course. People are lined up along Jefferson Ave, behind a barrier with signs, costumes and noisemakers. You run enough races, you tend to see the same signs, but two that caught my eye this year were “May the course be with you” and “Run like you stole the Kishka”
A change in the course this year had us skip The Joe Louis Arena, but instead stay on Jefferson a little longer which goes under Cobo Hall. I found it much more enjoyable rather than the serpentine bottleneck down to the river. Mile 10 came and went, which is where I spotted Pellayia, a GP Runner doing her first full. I tapped her shoulder and kept her company for a couple miles. She was doing awesome. We kept at a 9 minute pace and she was talking up a storm, thanking every volunteer and spectator. She was full of energy and on track for a sub 4 finish. I warned her about the loneliness of Larned, a long stretch after all the Half Marathon runners split off, but to keep positive because some of the funnest spectators follow right after in Indian Village.
With a little less than a mile to go, I left Pellayia and put in my final kick, which was about 8 min/mi pace. I noticed the 3:55 pace group were to my right and I kept going right past them. In the sidelines I spotted some Daily Mile friends and my parents, before making the final turn to see the finish line. Once it came into focus, I couldn’t believe that the race clock had just turned over to 2:00. When I crossed the line I took a look at my watch (something I barely did during the race) and saw that I was under 1:55.
I received my medal and mylar cape and headed over to the food table. They had bananas, Larabars, chocolate milk and full-size containers of Garden Fresh Hummus! New to this year and growing in popularity is a 2D barcode on your bib that if you scan it with your phone, you will get your official time and share it with Twitter and Facebook, which I did. I posed for my finish line picture and headed to the rendezvous point for the GP Runners, between miles 25 and 26 of the course.
Christos (Pellayia’s husband) was there with his kids setting up a table with goods. Soon, most of the half-finishers were there and we had a celebratory champagne/beer cheer and waited for the 4-5 of us that ran the full. Pellayia was one of the first to make her way past us and looking as strong as she did 13 miles earlier. I stayed long enough to see most of the GP Runners finish and even caught Jon H. who was just behind the 4:00 pacers.
I got back home to see my family and have celebratory Burger King, because nothing causes a fast food craving more than running 13 miles. Jack was sure to take the medal as his own and wear it around the house.
I just want to thank everyone who supported me or cheered me on towards my goal. I was happy to make my goal of sub 2 at Romeo to Richmond. I was thrilled to go sub 2 a 2nd time in Detroit and ecstatic that I managed to beat my goal time by over 5 minutes. The encouragement I receive from my friends goes a long way to make it possible.
I couldn’t do this without the support of my family. My wife is always there for me, even when I upset her with my crazy running schedule. I couldn’t have done it without her. She is my rock. My son is a constant reminder or why I run. Why I try to be a healthier person. I want to be around to watch him grow old. I may tell you how my mind usually goes blank during a run, but that’s not entirely true. My family comes in and out of my thoughts and with each time, I get a little boost of adrenaline.