Detroit Freep Marathon 2011 RR

Marathon Eve, I met up with Running Loopy, his bro and dad for some pre-race chatting and dinner at Hard Rock.  What a great trio of gentleman!  We had a fantastic time and they were so kind to even be sure to walk me all the way back to my car.  Fun times as always when Loopsters meet up.  Sorry, no photos. . . I’m really bad with remembering to take them.

Marathon Morning, I met up with J, a guy that a friend suggested that we run together as we had similar goals (3:40-4:00).  This was the first time we met.  We drove down to the race and worked on our strategy.  8:45s to start and we would slowly work our way faster and see how we felt as the race wore on.  It would be strange to many to meet up and run w/ a complete stranger, but as runners we all share commonalities that make us not so “strange.”  Plus, after 26.2 miles, you can’t call anyone a stranger anymore.

Porto-potty stop, chatting with some friends and then off to line up in our corral.  We placed ourselves right between the 3:40 and 3:45 pace groups.  After both anthems (Oh Canada and the Star Spangled Banner) we were off.  Well, after a few horns our wave was off.  The first few miles were all about getting on pace and keeping it relatively close to 8:45s.  As we were nearing the Ambassador Bridge, J had to snot rocket and the guy beside him got furious.  I chuckled.  Sure the wind was blowing, but it’s not like he got hit.  Besides, if you are a germaphobe and easily grossed out, I’m not sure marathon running is for you.  Seriously?!  I thought I was going to have to step in and mediate.

The bridge usually offers a beautiful sunrise and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  On Sunday, well it made me feel freezing (stupid wind) and it was just dreary with no sunrise.  Oh, well. . . can’t win ’em all.  The boats honking at us was pretty sweet though.  Up and over the bridge, which seemed a bit tougher than I remembered.  Then again we were going at a pretty good pace, especially on the way down.  It was hard to hold back but, we tried our best and made sure we were still feeling like we were chugging along at a comfortably moderate pace.

So, we are over in Canada.  I greet the police with a Rod Marinelli (former Lions’ coach) “Morning Men!”  They look at me funny.  We had decided to chunk the race up by landmarks instead of miles, which was different.  So, next up the tunnel – the underwater mile!  But, first I noticed a woman squeaking a “toy” giraffe and immediately laughed and said, “Oh, I didn’t know Sophie was gonna be cheering for me.”  My niece Celine has the same giraffe and it’s name is Sophie.  How fun!

So, the tunnel. . . sure it’s cool for about 2 minutes.  Then it gets unbearably hot and very difficult to breathe towards the end.  The uphill doesn’t make it any easier.  We kept saying, “Love the tunnel, love the tunnel.”  One of our many mantras for the day.  I’m not sure I loved the tunnel, but I’m quite certain I loved exiting it.  A rush of cool air and rain sprinkles felt amazing.  As did the cheering and “Welcome to the USA” banner that I attempted to jump up and hit.  I would’ve had it, but the banner was horizontal at the precise moment I tried.  Oh, well. . . it’s not like  it was the M Club banner. . . speaking of banners. .  .

Right up to the left past the banner was my “friend” who unbeknownst to me had made a sign as well as finding me at the first spot I had suggested when providing him with a map and approximate times of where I “should” be able to be found.  So, what did the sign say?  “Angie #925 is Kinda a Big Deal”  Explanation – I saw a Bondi Band at the expo that said that and I jokingly said that it must have been made for me.  The sign made me smile!  Now, on to Mexican Village!

Mexican Village was tough mentally and physically for me and J.  My body was feeling the toll of the lack of oxygen through the tunnel and it was having difficulty recovering.  I had taken my first gel after mile 6 and it was probably not soon enough.  In addition, I had forgotten to take my endurolyte at one hour, taking it at 1:18:xx.  Oh, well.  Can’t stress about it.  Lots of race left, so we walked a bit at the next water stop.  J grabbed a cookie, which I completely didn’t see.  Over the next mile we started to feel better again.  Soon, we had crossed the half way point, where surprise, there was my “friend” again, sans sign which got wet and too heavy to carry around.  I gave him a high five and a big smile.

J and  I were feeling pretty good heading out Lafayette on our way to No Man’s Land.  This stretch is the longest straightaway and just happens to be pretty much spectatorless.  We tried to engage fellow runners in conversation, but they seemed to be unwilling to chat.  So, we focused on getting to Indian Village.  “Jelly Beans and Beer!  Jelly Beans and Beer!”  For the next few miles, we chanted that.  Finally, I can hear a drum line. . . getting close!  I must’ve said outloud, “I love drum lines!”  A lone spectator was walking along the course ringing a cow bell.

I say, “More cowbell!”

He says, “Make up your mind!  Thought you wanted the drums?”

I say, “At this point, I’ll take what I can get.”

Flashers up ahead signified the road block where we turned into Indian Village.  Sweet!  Now where’s that beer?  Indian Village is full of historical homes that are fairly large and very well kept.  Lots of people out cheering, making for a very festive atmosphere.  Up ahead I hear polka music playing and there it is. . . BEER!  I grab a cup and off I went, in search of jelly beans.  The two staples of Indian Village each year.  J was beginning to have some hip pain, as was I.  My hips hurt to slow down and he slowed to a walk for a minute.  I kept plugging along a little slower, hoping he would catch back up.  I knew he really wanted to break 4 hours.  The last time I saw him was heading out of Indian Village toward Belle Isle.  He yelled, “I’ll be up there in a minute.”  I walked a bit at the next water stop to allow him to catch up, but he never did.

At this point, I knew Belle Isle would be tough.  Thankfully, slowing the pace for a bit helped me get some energy back.  I had been gu-ing, electrolyting and stuff pretty regularly at this point and I felt maybe I could pick up the pace a bit.  I settled in and decided to run based a bit on feel and not so much worry about the time.  As long as I kept up what I was doing, I would come in under 4 hours.  Ah, the “booty music” DJ!  Love him!  I’m just jammin’ right along, smile on my face and enjoying the fact that I’m out running.  I kept an eye out on the opposite side for those I may know, so I could yell over a “lookin’ good” or something.  A couple turns and I’m off the island. . . but, there are actually several turns.  GET ME OFF THE ISLAND!

Just as I’m starting to think I would become like Gilligan, stuck on the Island FOREVER, I hear, “There she is!  Looking good, Angie!”  My running  buddy M, leading the 4:15 pace group was heading onto the Island.  This made me smile and got me moving into a good rhythm again.  Finally, I could see the bridge.  Phew!  I made it off the Island and smack into a headwind!  Man, the River Walk miles left were gonna be tough.  Most of the remainder of the race would be into the wind.  Now, it wasn’t a strong wind, but 10 mph or so with a few gusts here and there sure make the last 4 miles or so of a marathon a little tougher.

Focus – River Walk, Mile 25 hill, Mile 26 hill and turn to the finish.  Make it onto the River Walk and just tuck my head down and keep pushing.  I found two guys in gray shirts running together up ahead a bit.  I focused on keeping them close for a while.  I made it to the end of the River Walk where the Mile 25 hill looms.  Sure, it isn’t HUGE, but it seems ginormous at Mile 25 (yeah, it’s bigger than the “hill” at Chicago).  I grab a towel being handed out and spend most of the hill trying to tuck it into my shorts, QB style.  It was an awesome distraction from the hill.  Thanks Detroit River Front Conservacy!

1.2 to go and one more hill.  A longer lasting incline, but I don’t care.  At this point I stop at the last water stop to grab a water and a gatorade.  The plan was to leave there and finish strong.  I picked up the pace and concentrated on one person at a time, passing as many as I could.  I was feeling happy and still smiling.  I knew I had ran a smart race and was giving it my best I had on that day.  I gave a “Go Lions!” to a group of fans heading to the game and got a few cheers.  Soon, I was coming up on the last corner to cheers of “Go Angie!  You got it!”  I turned and looked but, I just couldn’t tell WHO I knew that was over there.  Turns out it was some of my running buddies. . . like 10 of ’em!  What a rush!

I turned the corner and Ryan Hall’d it to the finish line.  I tried my best to get the crowd to cheer as I made it a point to attempt to pass everyone I could, especially the couple of guys that were there.  Sorry. . . but, I was SO pumped to be finishing #6 that I really wanted to sprint it in to the finish!

3:53:03 (8:54 avg pace)

850 of 3,444 overall

196 of 1,330 females

34 of 240 in 30-34 age group

I had fun!  I loved every minute of this race.  It was really nice to have J to run with.  Sadly, he missed his goal  of 4 hours, but ended up with a PR anyways.  He will get it next time.  J felt bad that he couldn’t keep up and I felt bad that I left him, but we both did the right thing for us at the time and there were definitely no hard feelings.  He was a great running buddy to have and we got each other through some tough parts early on.  What a day!  I honestly feel like I ran exactly what I should’ve based on my current training, so I was very happy with the results.  Alot has changed about how I race this year.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that every race is it’s own story and while I may not always PR, it doesn’t mean I can’t walk away with a huge smile and a super sweet medal for a race well ran.  Besides. . . I still have Philly!

Oh, and my “friend” – In addition, to being super wonderful and supportive DURING the race, he forced me to stay put on the couch all evening so, I could relax and watch football.  Meanwhile, he made me turkey fajitas, brought over MBC’s Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale and some Bear Claw Ice Cream.  He earned himself a few bonus points for all of that for sure.  And the best part was he said he actually enjoyed being out there and cheering for/watching me do what I love so much.  Apparently, I was one of the few who was actually smiling and looked like I was having fun.  Mission Accomplished!  Run Happy!


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