“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Detroit Free Press Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
As you folks know by now, this was my second venture into the 26.2 distance. I had high hopes of cracking 5 hours after my blow out last year in Philadelphia.
As a quick recap, last year at the Philadelphia Marathon the weather was my nemesis. It was 35°F and for the last half the winds were a steady 20-30mph with gusts over 40. I ran almost 13 miles looking down at the ground for the majority of the time. I was miserable. I was broken. So I had high hopes this year to come back and attack in Detroit. So let’s get to it!
We rolled into Detroit and were lucky enough to get early check in! We headed over to the expo at the COBO Center and packet pickup was your first stop. Your pickup was by Bib# and if you didn’t remember or know your number there were computers set up to look it up. Once at the pickup counter you presented your passport, and boom, bib and packet in hand. It was a really nice package complete with your finisher shirt, a 26.2 sticker, a temporary tattoo, and a tech head wrap that was a new addition this year!
The expo was your typical snake configuration of vendors. There were some regional races represented, local charities, hydration drinks, clothing, etc… The only perk I usually look forward to is to try some free samples of new products and there seemed to be much fewer of this type of thing than other race expos I had been to. The best part was seeing the official race gear with the retro emblem and with the star and maple leaf. I really liked that!
Next up, we had a behind the scenes tour with Leah, one of the official race staff. She was great and led us around where the post race food bags were being prepped and the setup of the start/finish line! Lastly, we were led into the room where it all happened! The planning room for the entire planning of the marathon. It was really cool that they’d let us see all the behind the scenes stuff and it was a true honor to have that sneak peak!
It was an early morning as the race started at 7am. After my obligatory coffee and protein bar (pre-race musts!) I got my things together and headed toward the starting line.
Let’s talk weather. As soon as I walked out the door – *BAM* slapped in the face with humidity. Now, have I felt worse humidity? Sure, a July night in Savannah GA it was surely more humid than this, but the humidity was rough! It was probably high 60s and at 6:20am I wasn’t excited, haha. I met up with my friend from grad school and with my BibRave Pros for a pre-race pic. Then it was to the port-o-potties. I’m not sure if people were having GI issues or what that morning but the line was CREEPING along. I was still in line when the starting gun went off. Eventually I made it and then headed to the starting line.
We headed out down the streets of Detroit and wrapped our way to Ambassador bridge. That was around mile 3. The bridge was incredibly easy for the climb after all my summer hill training and I was sooo grateful for it at that point! The border patrol was super cool and cheered us all on. I did here them call out some people who they didn’t see their bibs, so that actually made me feel pretty good that they were dedicated to protecting us and cheering for us!
Once in Canada we were welcomed by all the natives of Windsor. Maple leaves everywhere! (as an aside, I absolutely love Canada and was super excited to run there!)
And then comes the tunnel. While it’s cool to say I ran an underwater mile, the conditions were not fun. It wasn’t crowded, but the humidity and heat were awful. On the way out of the tunnel was the first time I walked. I had to keep drinking as I was drenched in sweat. I made my first pit stop once back in the USA. I do have to say, people were super fun in the tunnel and were hooting and hollering in excitement.
Once back I finished up the first half and was frustrated by how tired I already felt and the blisters already on my feet (stepped in a puddle and got soaked…)
At the end of the half distance there were a lot of people cheering for the half marathoners and that was fun to see! As we split ways the marathoners headed out of town. The crowds thinned and your were left to your accord own to keep the strength going. Around miles 15 to 18 there were some awesome folks setting up beer stations in front of their homes. This was in Indian Village. I just can’t drink beer and run, but I enjoyed the vibe and it kept me going.
It was here I saw the 4:55 pacer. At first I was shocked because I thought I was well over the 5hr mark. So I dug deep and thought wow! I might be able to crack the sub 5hr mark I had wanted to! Well, mile 20 came around and I just couldn’t keep it going. I had to walk… Just as last year in Philly, I felt defeated. But I kept going. I made it to Belle Isle.
Out onto Belle Isle I felt a surge and saw myself pass the 5hr pacer. I had it in my mind that I was going to do this! Keep going! That lasted for 1 mile. I started having tingling in my fingers and around my mouth. I remembered this feeling. Dehydration was setting in. I took a quick break and had more fluid and a gel. I felt a little better and kept on. There was a slight uphill just before the bridge and I crashed. It felt like Everest. I walked. And kept walking. I started trotting a bit more and then around mile 23 I felt my blisters pop and some wicked left foot pain set in there. Maybe I need to get tougher on race day, but that did me in. Back to walking. I was down on the Riverwalk portion now and the winds were STRONG! I almost lost my hat 3 times, so I flipped it around and kept going. Again, I had more flashbacks from Philly. The US half marathoners were passing me at such speed, I couldn’t believe it. I kept walking. I was finally back downtown and made up my mind I will “run” across the finish line! I started trotting! And kept it up. I saw my wife and son cheering me on just before the finish line! That was awesome. My son screamed “DADAAAAA!” As he saw me and that powered me up to really run across the finish line.
I finished. I am a marathoner again! Did I do as well as I wanted? Nope. Did I finish and feel good about it? Yes. I finished. To me there’s no such thing as a DNF as long as I’m not seriously injured. I was given my finishers medal and a bag of food and slammed some Gatorade. And hey! I even saw one of my BibRave Pro buddies! Angie!
At the end of the day, the Detroit Free Press Marathon was a great course and fun vibe. Even though I didn’t meet my intended goal I had a lot of fun that day and still finished a marathoner! Thanks Detroit for my second 26.2 mile journey!