Let me start this by saying: HOLY CRAP THAT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!!!
I can’t believe all of the times I almost talked myself out of this run. My foot hurts, I hate running in the morning, I can’t run that far, it will be cold out!!! Despite all of that, I had some really positive motivation from friends and family and I am so glad I did it.
The day before the half I spent most of the day trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. I was terrified. I picked up my packet at the Health and Fitness Expo and was super intimidated by all of the “runners” there. I still have a hard time calling myself a runner, but after this, I finally feel like I am one of them. After getting my packet I distracted myself by dragging Rob to the Humane Society to look for a dog (more on that later!), spent a ton of time making a pasta dish, and went to see a movie. At 9pm I realized it was FREEZING outside and went to Target to get long running tights (great decision, I love those things!).
So now its the morning of the race. Alarm goes off at 5am and I am too tired and groggy to be nervous. I hit the shower to attempt to wake up, put on my gear, and eat a bagel with PB and banana. I head out the door and downtown where I see sooo many runners heading to the starting line! Its so dark out but the mood is amazing. I parked about half a mile from the starting line so it was a nice warm up walk. One of my biggest fears was having to use the bathroom so I made sure to hit a porta potty, even though those things gross me out.
I was running the race alone but I did know a couple of people also running. Texted Michelle to wish her luck but never found her before the race. I was alone, but I never felt that way because of the massive crowd of runners. (I think it was a record 27,000 this year!). At 7am they start calling waves to begin the run. When I signed up I just guessed and put myself in the 10:18/mile wave, which I could easily do for a shorter run, but I may have been a little bit over confident in my longer run time.
Finally around 7:15 they called wave “I” which was mine! We were off across the starting line! It was still really dark out but the first mile didn’t feel like anything. I spent most of it screwing with my HR monitor because it was going beserk. After the first mile marker I didn’t even see any other markers until mile 5 or 6….which was a good thing. About 2 miles into the run is the best part: running across the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. (This is the only marathon that crosses an international border and goes through an underwater tunnel!). The sun was starting to rise as we hit the bridge and the view was priceless! I never felt tired or winded, the crowd kept me going. I swear my eyes were tearing up and at least once out loud I said “this is the best!” Once we hit Canada the support was overwhelming. High fives from border guards, homeowners on the riverfront passing out orange slices, posters, cheers, etc! The worst part was having to go to the bathroom, which I finally had to give in to and make a quick stop. I wasn’t tired but when you have to go, you HAVE to go!.
Around mile 7/8 you hit the tunnel to head back to the USA. The tunnel was my least favorite part. A lot of uphill, hot and muggy, claustrophobic even? Once we exited the tunnel the crowd was in full force again cheering us on! The last half was definitely more of a struggle, I knew I should take walk breaks but I just never felt like I wanted to. The course continued to wind around Detroit neighborhoods until it went back downtown to the finish line. This is wear the marathon splits off. I knew that next year I wanted to be in that awesome group, but this year I could take that right turn to the finish line! That last mile I gave it everything I had left while I looked for Rob and our friend Alex on the sidelines (I was so glad they came down because I was almost in tears about how happy I was and I would have hated to celebrate alone). I finally saw them right before I crossed and waved to them, Alex snapped a picture and I look pretty damn happy!
I finished in 2:20:27. I didn’t really have a goal but I was hoping for 2:30. My average page was around 10:40/mile. I am pumped about that!
I finally feel like I belong as a runner. Maybe not an elite runner but I am a runner. It feels great!