Monday, October 18, 2010

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon 2010

The Detroit Free Press Half Marathon was yesterday.  The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. because we had to make our way over the border into Detroit.  Luckily, I had gone to bed at a decent hour the night before and had slept like a baby.  We packed up a couple of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and hit the road at 5 when Sydney and Andy picked us up.

The border crossing went pretty smoothly and we were able to get a spot in the parking garage that we had lucked into last year.  $5 to park in a garage that overlooked the starting line is pretty sweet.  There was also a line up of port-a-potties on the side street beside the garage that never had a line last year.  We were there by 5:45 so had alot of time to hang out and use the port-a-potties (more than once) and, for me anyway, start getting nervous.  I was a little vexed about to wear for this race.  Last year it was COLD but yesterday morning it was already 52 degrees at 4:30 a.m.  I had my New Balance compression tights and the long sleeve race shirt they had given us at the expo.  I also had my pink and black stretchy gloves that I had bought at the dollar store and could toss when/if it got too warm.  My main worry was about headwear.  I had brought my lululemon run brisk toque but I was worried that would be too warm.  When my head gets too hot it's game over for me.  I made the decision to go with my run cap and it worked out perfectly for me.

Once we heard the national anthems playing we made our way into our start corrals.  Sydney and Andy were in a different corral from me as they had signed up later than I had.  I was supposed to meet my friend Sharon who was running her first half and we were going to run together.  Paul and I get into the corral and looked all over for her.  i couldn't find her!  I started to panic a little because I've never run even near that distance by myself and I hadn't brought my iPod because I was expecting to run with Sharon.  I knew I couldn't run with Paul because he had a goal of finishing in two hours and that wasn't happening for me.  After a couple of minutes a got a hold of myself and told myself that it would be good mental training for the half ironman for me do it alone. 

The atmosphere was pretty fun with music blaring.  At 7 a.m. the gun went off and we started moving towards the start line.  There were 19,000 people running this race and it took almost 20 minutes for us to get to the start line.  I felt great from the start and hoped that it was a sign of things to come.  My goal for this race was to improve on my time of 2:20 from last year so I decided to run by feel, only checking my watch rarely to see where my pace is at.  From the start line we headed out towards the Ambassador Bridge.  We ran around the bridge plaza and then started the long climb up toward the peak of the bridge.  Unfortunately this year there is construction on the bridge that closed one lane and the runners were limited to one lane as the traffic going in both directions had the remaining two lanes.  This caused a major jam up of people on the climb and we actually had to walk alot of it.  Despite the slow down I still enjoyed the experience.  The sun was just starting to come up and the views from the top of the bridge is pretty cool.  I still can't get over that I got to run over an international border crossing that I've crossed hundreds of times in my lifetime going back and forth to the U.S. 

Once off the bridge we ran towards Riverside Drive that runs along the Detroit river between Windsor and Detroit.  The run along the river was awesome with so many people out cheering on the runners, local school marching bands, and announcers over loud speakers getting the crowds riled up.  I was feeling really good at this point as we made our way towards the Windsor-Detroit tunnel to head back to the U.S.  The entrance to the tunnel is mile 7 and the world's only underwater mile.  The first half of the tunnel is downhill but it instantly got really, really hot.  There were alot of people stopping to get their pictures taken between the Canadian and U.S. flags where it becomes the U.S. again.  The incline towards the exit of the tunnel was tough and the heat didn't help things.  I concentrated on keeping my legs turning over at a good pace and keeping my breathing even.    Coming out of the tunnel we were greeted by U.S. Border Patrol making sure that everyone's numbers were visible.  This international race requires that everyone is pre-cleared to enter both countries so they're pretty diligent about making sure that everyone coming back in has been through the proper procedures.  Running out of the customs plaza and toward Jefferson Avenue is the best part of the race.  There are hunders of people lined up at the wall overlooking customs and along that curve going to Jefferson and they are just going CRAZY!  It makes you feel like a total rockstar.  I was still feeling realy good (we at 8 miles by this point) and the crowd helped put a little spring in my step.  There were alot of signs and some of my favorites were:

"Pain is temporary.  Pride is forever."
"Your feel hurt because you're kicking so much ass!" and
"In our heads we're all Kenyans"

Once I hit mile 10 things got a little more difficult.  In looking at the stats from my Garmin I actually  managed to complete the final 3 miles faster than the first three (by a little - but still).  When I reached the point where the full marathon participants went one way and the half runners went the other I couldn't help but wonder whether I'd ever be able to do a full.  I was so done by then.  My legs felt like they were ready to give out.  I had in fact skipped the last water station because I wasn't sure I'd be able to start walking again (I only walked the water stations because I haven't managed to learn how to drink and run at the same time).  I couldn't even drum up a sprint to the finish line because I was convinced that I would fall down.

I remembered to keep my head up and smile as I crossed the line so that I might be able to get a good photo.  I collected my medal and took a mylar blanket before setting off to look for Paul.  I was so proud of my race and excited to find Paul.  He was surprised to see me as he wasn't expecting me for another 5 minutes!

My stats-
Total time - 2:08:31
Overall place - 3363/8816
Division place - 208/844
6.2 mi - 1:01:24
7 mi - 1:09:27
8 mi - 1:18:53
12.2 mi - 1:59:24
Tunnel - 9:26
Pace - 9:49

That's a 12 minute improvement over last year!  I also managed to keep a really consistent pace throughout the whole race.  I'll take it!  Paul was also able to make his goal of finishing under 2 hours with a time of 1:57!   Here I we are with Sydney and Andy at the finish.  I'm the short one. :-)

I was in bed early last night and surprisingly my legs feel better than expected today.  Quads are a little sore and I'd love to spend the evening with my feet up and relaxing.  Unfortunately I'm playing volleyball tonight -  that should be interesting!


  1. YEAH!! Congrats on your 1/2 Marathon, loved the RR!

  2. Congrats on a fantastic race! The 1/2 I did had about 16,000 it's a crazy amount of people! Like you I think it was about 25 minutes before I crossed the start line.

    Amazing time! Running in a tunnel sounds a little strange!

  3. Wow, how exciting to beat your previous time by 12 minutes!! You ARE a rock star!!

  4. Woohoo! Congrats on your race and your PR! That is so awesome that you beat your time by 12 minutes! Yay! :)