Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Detroit International 1/2 Recap

Yesterday I completed the 2013 Detroit International Half Marathon, that includes the crossing of the Ambassador Bridge and a return to the USA through the underwater tunnel.  While I have ran this race 3 previous times, yesterday was my first Detroit Marathon Day "Experience".  As I wrote about last week I went into this race without a plan, knowing that reaching any PR time goal may still be to much for me as I am still suffering recovering from a few minor aches I picked up during the 50K race/training.  What I did not talk about was the two private goals I had which were to run the entire uphill of both the Ambassador Bridge and the exit of the tunnel.  In my 3 previous attempts I would become winded and at least have to walk part of both.  This was a personal struggle for me, knowing that even though the extra taper weight is still there I needed to prove to myself I was still stronger then ever and it seemed like a fitting goal.  My recap will not include splits or times because I did not know our approximate finish time until less then a mile from the finish, and did not know our splits until late last night when John sent me the Garmin link.  It was a very different experience running a race and looking at the course, not my Garmin, focusing on how I felt and not what the time said.

Eve of the Race: Normally the night before a race I would have been in bed at 9 pm to get a good nights sleep, however the Tigers game did not start till 8 so of course that was not happening.  In fact I enjoyed a nice Mayan Mocha Stout and stayed up well past 11 pm.  That was followed by about 3.5 hours of broken sleep with the littlest needing some vicks and snuggles for a stuffy nose.

3:45 am: Up (b/c sleep wasn't happening) had some coffee, a banana and a Picky Bar, got dressed, packed up and headed out to stop at Tim Horton's for a road coffee (need both the caffeine and warmth) and then headed to our meeting spot to pick up the car pool.

5:15 am: Depart with a van full of runners (Here is a race morning tip: If you shut your lights off while waiting for your friends to arrive, it is always wise to turn them back on before driving even if you are used to the "auto" setting or else a nice Police Officer will stop and remind you)

5:40 am - 6:45 am: Got parked and everyone got on their last minute gear, and we all headed to the Fort Street Church to stay warm, potty breaks and a group photo.
GP Runners ready to run the D! (Photo w/ John Martin's camera taken by random stranger at the church)
6:50 am: One last potty stop and an Island Boost (my hoarded new chocolate flavored one, stay tuned tomorrow for a full review of Island Boost but YUM) and we were off to the starting line.  John (who once again was carrying his camera & got some fun/awesome pics), Val and I had planned to run together since we were out there for fun and no time goal.  We jumped in Corral E, figuring it would be a good place to start and we were with a few other GP Runners.

7:07 am: START TIME!
Starting Line (Photo by John Martin)
Miles 1-3: I felt awesome, I had switched my race outfit at the last minute from a skirt to capris pants and I am glad I did.  The wind was cold and the capris pants kept my legs warm.  It was a nice paced run up Fort Street to the bridge, where we proceeded to make our way up the on ramp for mile 2 and finally onto the bridge by mile 3.  (This is one of the most deceiving parts of the race because you don't just run up the bridge, no you have to run up the on ramp for a mile first and then run up the bridge)

(Photos by John Martin)
Miles 3-4: Up and over the bridge! I did it! Ran the entire up ramp and up the bridge without having to stop and walk!  Focusing on form, shortening my stride and "pulling the rope" with my arms.  It is really an amazing view (even though yesterday's view was accompanied by a cold wind) from the top of the bridge.  You can see the sun rising over Belle Isle, the beautiful fall colors of the trees as you come into Canada,  the Detroit River.  We even saw a few more GP Runners up there!
Coming back down the Ambassador (photo by John Martin)
Miles 4-7: Still feeling great, legs were nice and warm, no shin or hip pain.  I was still very relaxed and I won't lie at a few points I was looking for a clock to see approximately where we were at time wise.  No such luck.  I knew I felt better then my last long run so that was positive and I was having fun enjoying the music, bands, spectators, and the view of Detroit from across the river.

Mile 7-8: The Underwater Tunnel mile.  The dreaded Underwater Tunnel mile in my mind.  It is not a well ventilated mile at all, so upon entering the tunnel I rolled down my arm sleeves.  Even then by the 1/2 mile mark I was starting to sweat so bad.  Using the gloves I had shed about mile 3 I wiped up as much as I could from my neck and face knowing once we exited that would only contribute to chills.  Then it was up the 1/2 mile out of the tunnel, looking forward to the fresh air and the open course again.  As we approached the exit I pulled my arm sleeves back up, because while the fresh air was nice it also can make you really cold really quick.  Goal #2 accomplished! Ran the entire tunnel! Shortened my stride and focused on breathing and next thing you knew we were out of there.

Miles 8-10.5: Included a walk through the water station right outside the tunnel and another Island Boost.  I was in good spirits and crowd support this year was awesome! Cowbells, signs, cheering...IT WAS A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

Miles 10.5 - 13.1: We ran into a training partner who was running her first half marathon.  It was clear (Because I have been in that place before, that "I want to sit down possibly cry and say screw this" place. Last year that was me with that same look, that same struggle, and that same frustration at roughly the same spot)  Being that we had no time goals, John, Val and I fell in next to her.  These last 3 miles are both my most hated and favorite.  I love running through Mexican Village and running past what is left of Tiger Stadium, I love the turn into the homestretch and seeing the finish line.  It is also where for the last 3 attempts I truly wondered if I would finish, and several times included tears.  Really though they were uneventful miles, except for the M&M's around mile 11, that is always one of my favorite spot.  Together we put one foot in front of the other, and reminded me that even though I love my solo runs, why being a part of a group, particularly this group is so important, because if that was me someone would have done the same.  That's the beauty of running with a group, of those early morning runs, those good runs, those bad runs, those relationships that are formed are priceless.
Seconds after we finished (Photo by John Martin's awesome photog friend)
After getting our medals and solar blankets we headed back to the parking lot where we changed.  The parking lot was in a perfect spot for cheering, we were at about mile 25.75 on the Full Marathon course.  As we waiting for "our runners" we stood on the sidelines and offered cheers and high fives to those that past.
GP runners cheering and GP Runners running in some full marathoners, including a 1st timer (Photo by John Martin)
Tailgate party GP Runner Style (Photo w/ John Martin's camera)
We hung out, talked, drank some recovery type beverages and cheered on runners till after 1 p.m.  It was an amazing experience to run the Detroit 1/2 and celebrate with this group on Sunday!


  1. Congrats on the race!! It sounds like so much fun to run underwater (even though it is stuffy as heck). Great job!