Detroit Marathon, Race Report

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Detroit Marathon Race Report

As I set out to write my Detroit Marathon race report I decided to make a mile by mile outline of what I saw to guide me in telling you my story.  What struck me was how many entries I had to create I though, do I really have to describe twenty six miles?  The Detroit Marathon is long — What work!  Then It occurred to me, I just ran twenty six miles, wow.
And it begins…
On Saturday I stayed close to home and tried to relax as much as you can when watch two children.  I laid out all my Detroit Marathon race gear.  I divided it into two piles, one for what I would wear in the morning before the Detroit Marathon, and the other for what I would put on at the Detroit Marathon.  The first pile had my shoes, shorts, shirt, socks, runner’s glide, and of course band aids.  The second pile has things like my hat, runner’s belt for my bib and GU, and my gloves.  After getting all my equipment sorted out the kids and I got a bite to eat.  For lunch I had a bowl of Spaghetti.  Later that evening I chowed on two cups of rice, and again right before bed I ate another two cups.  I went to bed around 10:30 PM, but I don’t think I really fell asleep until 11:30 PM.  I remember waking up sometime around 1:00 AM and drank some water, but quickly fell back asleep.  The Detroit Marathon starts at 7:00 AM, but I wanted to make sure we got an early start!

Detroit Marathon pre-race Preparation

On race day I got up at 4:00 took a shower, woke up the wife, and got dressed for the Detroit Marathon.  I then ate half a muffin, a cup of coffee, and a glass of water.  We got on the road around 5:00 and headed downtown.  My wife is great.  She drove downtown with me.  She was my race crew, photographer, and Detroit Marathon cheering section in one.
Detroit Marathon
Before the Detroit Marathon
I remember the John” the Penguin” Bingham stating in Marathoning for Mortals to find a porta potty, get in line and use it.  So I did.  We walked around a little more, found another blue vestibule and stood in line, and again, and then once more.   Good thing I took his advice, many Detroit Marathon participants did the same thing!  I was so excited.  Time flew by; it was fifteen minutes to the Detroit Marathon start.  I took off my jacket, gave my wife a kiss, and wandered into my assigned starting corral.  It’s hard to explain what I felt.  I wasn’t apprehensive or nervous; I was excited, but also somewhat swept off my feet.  I had that dreamy feeling you get when you hear a nice mellow song or your eyes cast upon a naturally beautiful vista.  The Detroit Marathon was my first marathon and I was awe swept.

Detroit Marathon Start

As successive waves launched we marched to the Detroit Marathon start line.  After about ten minutes it was our turn.  The timer counted down from two minutes, and go!  We were off.  I started the Detroit Marathon.  Some people just shot out of the gate and sprinted.  I bet they didn’t get too far in the Detroit Marathon!  For me, I tried to just relax and keep pace.  Many in my start group passed me on the first mile I kept concentrating on running slow.  I deliberately made sure the first couple songs in my play list were mellow.  We ran down Fort Street and I crossed the first mile at 09:47.  My goal pace was 10:12, so I came out a little too fast for my Detroit Marathon goals pace.
As we continued on towards the Ambassador bridge my pace slowed somewhat, but I was still running faster that I planned for the Detroit Marathon.   We were nearing the bridge and I was getting excited to cross it.  It spans between Detroit, MI and Winsor, ON and rises one hundred fifty feet above the river.  Unfortunately there was construction on the bridge and it caused some congestion up until the second tower.  This is the most congested portion of the Detroit Marathon.  I got lucky and didn’t have to stop, but I’ve heard runners in subsequent waves were forced to walk or sometime even stop.  See even runners suffer from construction traffic!
Detroit Marathon
Ambassador Bridge

Because of the congestion I had to pay attention to the Detroit Marathon runners in front of me and didn’t get too many chances to take in the view of the river and Detroit.  What glimpses I caught were spectacular, especially with sunrise.  By the time we left the bridge I was running a 10:03 pace.  It was great being welcomed into Canada; what friendly people.   I really like that the Detroit Marathon spans two countries.  Running the Detroit marathon in Windsor is a pleasure, the people are very friendly.

We the Detroit Marathon course back along the bridge’s approach to the river’s edge and continued to run along the Detroit River to downtown Windsor.  You haven’t seen Detroit until you’ve seen it from the Windsor side of the river.  This is one of many unique perspectives the Detroit Marathon offers you of the city.  The city looks great from this vantage point.  We ran along the river and into downtown for the next two miles.  There was a good crowd and the running was very flat.  Once we entered downtown we entered the tunnel for our return trip to Detroit.  I was running a 10:05 pace at this point a running steady.  I felt great.

Detroit Marathon
The Tunnel


Detroit Marathon – an International Race

A unique element of the Detroit Marathon is the course is set through two countries.  It starts in the US, progresses to Canada via the Ambassador Bridge, and returns via the Tunnel.  I can say it is a interesting experience knowing you are running 75ft below the river.  The Detroit Marathon is the only race I know of where you run in a long tunnel.   As you approach the tunnel the road starts a shallow decent.  The tunnel sides are white and it is very bright.  It gets warm in the tunnel and there is an echo.  People are yelling “Go Green” for the first time marathoner, and “Go White” for the Detroit Marathon alumni.   Its fun crossing the international line, one step you’re in Canada, the other the US.
When you emerge on the US side of the Detroit Marathon you spiral up to street level.  There are is a large concentration of spectators and it makes it very fun.  They are all looking down at you as you hit the street.  You feel like a star.


Detroit Marathon
Motivational Signs are “A Must Read”


At this point we are at mile eight in the Detroit Marathon and my pace is holding steady at 10:06.  I start looking for my wife on the right side of the road, and I see her.  I’m so excited, I run up and kiss her.  Yea, and on I go to continue the Detroit Marathon.


Detroit Marathon
I’m in the Yellow Shirt with the RenCen behind me


We head toward Cobo Hall and finish mile nine near Joe Louis Arena.  My pace slows down to 10:16.  That kiss must have been longer than I thought!
Detroit Marathon
Cobo Hall


Once we pass the Joe the run gets pretty normal again as run in parallel to our Detroit Marathon start route.  We turn just short of the bridge and head towards Mexican town.  I’ve never been there, but now know what it is like.  I hear there is good food to be had, but I suppose a bean burrito during the Detroit Marathon wouldn’t be wise right now.  A man with a grocery cart full of Mexican groceries dashes across the street in front of us.  It was funny to see someone running with a cart.  We run through some neighbor hoods, head into cork town and finish up Detroit Marathon mile twelve at Michigan Avenue and the Lodge Freeway.  The United Way has the best Detroit Marathon spirit station set up here.  As your round the bend, they are playing great music and have at least two hundred people cheering really loud.  It really pumps you up. My pace is now at 10:01.  I feel great; can we do this every day?
Detroit Marathon
United Way’s Spirit Station
The pace, in general, with all the runners is picking up.  Why?  Then it hits me, perhaps, a mile or two too late.  All the half marathoners are about to finish.  I’ve been somewhat caught up in the faster stream of runners and run a 9:56 to Detroit Marathon mile thirteen.  When I see my split, I groan…  I’m starting to figure out that my splits are too fast and shouldn’t sustain this pace remainder of the Detroit Marathon.  Besides, we are only halfway done with the Detroit Marathon.

Halfway Mark!

I cross the 13.1 half marathon mark in 2:12:20.  I’ve shaved 3:40 off my half marathon time from last May.  I see my wife, give her a kiss and sweaty hug and continue on.  The half marathoners have since split off and finished, we are now alone in a vastly diminished field of runners.  The second half of the Detroit Marathon is a more open course, lonelier.
Detroit Marathon
Half Way Home!


I’m Half way home.  In a sense the Detroit Marathon journey has just begun, as we now, for the second time, depart downtown Detroit, and head out towards the North for our second leg of the Detroit Marathon.

Once of the longest legs of the Detroit Marathon is on East Lafayette.  We run on a straight course for about two and a half miles.  The road is boulevard at points, and feels wide open.  There are some spectators to cheer you on, but it’s a haul.  I hold at 10:15 and 10:07 pace through this stretch.  I’m not as revved up as I was, but I’m holding up well.  I start to see people waking the Detroit Marathon.  I saw one person running all hunched over, as you would if completely exhausted, with sweat dripping from his nose.  I felt sorry for him, so much farther to go.  The Detroit Marathon is brutal in this stretch, I wonder if he made it.  I also start to see people hobbling, favoring injured legs.  I’m keep running, concentrate on form, and try not to think about my hammered legs.

Indian Village

Detroit Marathon


The course turns away from the river and heads into Indian Village.  The neighborhoods are very nice.  There are some great houses along the roads, and the people are out to greet and cheer us.  This is a fun portion of the Detroit Marathon.  Seminole was my most favorite street to run on during the Detroit Marathon.  My pace starts to weaken.  At mile seventeen I’m down to a 10:21 pace, but I’ve been running so well up to this point, I’m not too concerned.

Around mile eighteen I make my first huge mistake.  I stop to go to the bathroom.  I really could have kept going, but I stopped.  I honestly think I used it as a excuse to stop; lame!  Anyways, I have to wait behind two other people, so it takes me a couple of minutes to get back on the road.  My pace at mile eighteen is 12:11.
I shouldn’t have stopped.  It is very hard to get my rhythm back.  It’s surprising how quickly your legs stiffen up.  Up until this point I haven’t stopped at any of the Detroit Marathon fluid stations, I would just run through and grab cups on the fly.  Why I stopped, I don’t know, but I believe it added more than just those two minutes to my time.
We now enter what I now consider the worst part of the Detroit Marathon – Belle Isle.  What a desolate place.  I’m sure, if you haven’t been running twenty miles and are out for a Sunday drive, it is very nice, but at this point in the Detroit Marathon, I hate it.  I run past mile twenty, my pace slackens to 11:19.  I’m feeling sluggish, I anticipate every Detroit Marathon fluid station, my mouth is dry, and I’m running into the wind.  A portion of the course Detroit Marathon runs along the river.  It’s named “the strand,” it reminds me of being stranded.   I want out of there, but It seems so long.  I drink too much water at the next fluid station.  I’m loosing my poise.
I get passed by the 10:15 pace group just before mile twenty two.  I’m running a 11:45 pace, and seeing the group, I realize my goal of completing a 4:30 marathon is slipping away from me.  It sets me back.  As I approach the Mac Arthur Bridge I decide to walk up the bridge.   By the time I hit mile twenty three my pace is 14:00.  Now I’m mad at myself for walking.  I didn’t really have to walk; I let my head get to me.  And by walking, it is now harder to run, but I push on.
I remember thinking around mile twenty three that this was all a mistake, that I should have ran the half marathon, I would be finished by now, better yet, I should had signed up for the 5K and left it at that.  Then I realize, that a mile twenty three, there are 3.2 miles left, which is 5K.  How funny!  Can I just run 5K?
Detroit Marathon
I’m too Tired to Appreciate the View


The Renaissance Center looms in the distance, but never gets closer.

I suppose running by the river is supposed to be pretty, but I really didn’t notice.  I ran a 13:17 pace to mile twenty four, and 14:37 to mile twenty five.  At mile twenty five you start to enter the downtown area once again.  Thankfully, the Detroit Marathon crowds increase and their cheering is loud.  Also, I know I can run a mile, I know I have made it, I’ll finish run a 14:12 pace to mile twenty six.  I see Cobo hall and start to cry.  Well, really, I’m starting to get that emotional choked up feeling.  My throat feels thick.  OK, so being emotional is cool, but not if you’re running and can’t breathe!  Kris, get a grip, keep running!  Oh, and don’t forget to run up that last hill…
At the top of the hill I turn left and see the Detroit Marathon finish line… two hundred yards to go, keep running, no need to sprint, just don’t fall.  And then it’s done, I cross the line four hours and forty six minutes later than I started.
Detroit Marathon

I’m glad the Detroit Marthon is over, but now my legs are in pain.  They are tired, so I want to sit down until I get out of the finish area.  Finally, after a block or so, I’m out of the finish area and sit down and wait for my wife.  I get up and we start to walk towards the car.  I’m so tired and my legs hurt so bad.  I really wished I had a bag of ice for them.  I sit down for a bit, get up, and walk some more.  We sit on a bench for a couple of minutes.  My legs are madly twitching.  Its freaky, they hurt.  We continue to walk, and finally arrive at our car.  I continue to stand and after another five minutes my legs no longer hurt.  I’m so glad that part is done.  But now I’m hungry.  I slam a gator aid, and then we depart for home.  We decide to grab some breakfast at Leo’s
Detroit MarathonDetroit Marathon


I proudly wear my Detroit Marathon medal into the restaurant.  I don’t care if people think I’m a dork.  I can do what I want, I just ran a marathon.  I get two pancakes, an omelet, hash browns, and toast and eat it all.  Once home I crash and sleep for three hours, I get up for some supper, eat and then sleep until the next day.

Now it’s the second day after the Detroit Marathon and I’m getting back to normal.  I can finally walk forwards down stairs, and I’m feeling not extremely stiff every time I get up from a chair.  I want to run soon, but will take my time.  I sure love running.
When is the next Detroit Marathon?

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