Sunday, October 27, 2013

On the Run: Detroit Free Press Marathon 2013

Last Sunday the alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. but I was already awake.  It's not often that I get nervous for races but I sure had some jitters for this one!  In fact, I was even more nervous than I'd been for Marquette, which was my first marathon and big BQ.  However, that one was so small, there was no fanfare, and in all honesty I had no CLUE what I was doing.  But on Sunday, so many what-if's were going through my mind:  What if I just lucked out in Marquette?  What if I hit the wall this time?  What if I wouldn't be able to hang with my pace group?  

And I had a cold so naturally What if I wake up with full-blown pneumonia?!?

So when the alarm went off I hopped right out of bed, ready to go.  I got dressed, pinned on my bib, and did my hair first thing.  Then I put my pj's back on over my clothes.  It was a chilly morning!  I had plenty of time to eat my chia pudding, have some water, relax, and be ready to leave right on schedule at 5:00.

You'd think, then, that getting to the race at 5:20 wouldn't mean that I almost missed the 7:00 start.  Here's what happened.  We only sat in the car for a few minutes before heading to the start area.  I used the port-a-potty right away but because it was only 6:00 I knew I would have to go again.  I saw my friend Stephanie and we got to talking for a few minutes while the lines got longer and then around 6:15 we got in line again.  We figured 45 minutes was enough time to get through the line.  WRONG.  Turns out we picked the worst line. The line with the least aggressive people.  They were letting everyone from the other lines use their port-a-potties so our line wasn't moving. (Also apparently someone threw up in one of the port-a-potties so it was out of commission.  Who throws up in a port-a-potty?)  6:30 came and went.  We had barely moved.  6:40. 6:45.  "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" were sung.  We'd moved but were still waiting. At this point we nearly started a riot.  I stripped off my pj's and had my iPod ready. People started to get more aggressive at the front of the line but I was panicking big time.  Finally it was my turn!

At this point I had 5 minutes to get the start.  I was all the way back at Corral M and I needed to get to Corral B.  The sidewalk was jam-packed with runners and spectators.  I pushed my way through them as fast as I could, running when it was possible, vaulting over obstacles, shouting and swearing the whole way.  I thought maybe I was where I needed to be and I shouted to someone in the corrals, "Which corral is this?!!"  When he told me G I yelled something not very nice back at him. Sorry man.  I kept fighting my way through and finally, FINALLY I saw B.  I saw my pacer with his 3:15 sign and I ran up to him shouting, "3:15!  Thank God!  You're Jordan?  I can't believe I found you!  I was in the longest port-a-potty line ever! It wasn't moving because someone threw up in one and everyone was letting everyone else go in front of them I mean seriously who throws up in a port-a-potty?!"  At that point I'm pretty sure he wanted to point to someone, ANYONE and say, uh, Jordan is over there.  But he was cool.  He just looked at my bib and said, "First marathon?"  (Green bib meant first time marathoner.)  I explained about Marquette which probably only confirmed my craziness.   

I started my iPod and Garmin but because of all the other Garmins it didn't find the satellites right away.  I only had 1 minute before the first wave went off.  30 seconds later our wave went.  (Talk about cutting it close!)  Just as I was crossing the timing mat my Garmin found the satellites.  And we were officially off!  The race had begun!

The Start/Ambassador Bridge
Although the beginning of the race is always crowded, it's not too bad up at the front.  I was able to stick with my pace group and made sure to run as close to Jordan as possible, even when he was weaving in and out of crowds.  It was very dark at the start but the sun started to rise soon enough.  I love that the Ambassador Bridge comes early in the race because that's always around the point that the sun is starting to peek up.  Running up the bridge and over the Detroit River, looking across the city, and seeing the sun come up is always an awesome sight.  Although it's a challenge to go uphill it's nothing unmanageable and my legs were nice and fresh so it didn't feel difficult.  Jordan helped us keep a steady pace both uphill and down.  23.5 miles to go.

Running through Canada is always great - the welcoming announcers when you come off the bridge, the cheering crowds, the guy in the banana suit.  I love running along the river and looking across to see Detroit.  Winding our way from the bridge to the tunnel is a sweet part of the course.  19 miles to go.

The Tunnel
Ah, the tunnel.  That blasted tunnel.  Hot.  Stuffy.  Hilly.  There isn't really anything good I can say about the tunnel.  Except for the border patrol guards at the end who were looking for bibs.  One guy was making a big show of looking - doing like pretend binoculars - so I stuck out my chest and motioned really big at the bib for him and he clapped and laughed.  Most of them seem to have no sense of humor so I was glad he made me smile! 18 miles to go.

The Lodge/Mexicantown/Corktown/Campus Martius
After coming out of the tunnel we were greeted to a fantastic crowd in Detroit, welcoming us back into the U.S.  Then for the first time (due to construction) we ran on the Lodge, under Cobo.  I saw one of my friends cheering for me, which was a nice boost!  After that we ran by Green Dot Stables, through Mexicantown, and then wound our way through Corktown and up Michigan Avenue.  The crowds became more plentiful again at this point because it's where the half marathoners split off to head to the finish line and we continued on for the rest of our race.  As I neared Campus Martius I thought about how for the past 3 years I was always headed to the finish line.  Usually at this point I think, "Thank God I don't have another 13.1 miles to go!" but this year I was excited that I was only halfway done. I was ready to take on the back half of the course. I opened my first CLIF Shot and as I rounded the corner I saw Brian cheering me on!  I was feeling good other than some slight pain in my left hip.  I realized that in my mad rush to get ready in the port-a-potty line I'd tied my shoelaces too tight and they were digging into the tops of my feet.  13 miles to go.

Lafayette/Indian Village
The next stretch of the course wasn't all that exciting.  We ran down a long stretch of Lafayette and through Indian Village.  This is where it was great to have a good group to be running with.  My pace team was great.  I was still holding strong with them and carrying on conversations about various running topics.  I was the only girl in the group so that was pretty sweet.  Love that I can hang with the boys!  We were encouraging each other along and it was a really positive group. Unfortunately I started having some IT band pain in my left leg at mile 16.  It only got worse between 16 and 19.  Naturally I was imagining the worst possible scenarios.  But I kept pushing myself, kept up with the group, had another CLIF Shot and some water, and miraculously it seemed to feel better. 7 miles to go.

Belle Isle
I was a little worried about Belle Isle.  Everyone says it's the worst - lonely, isolated, boring.  Yikes.  I wasn't so much worried about it for those reasons, though, because I had my pace group to keep me company.  I was more worried about it for the wind.  It was already a windy day and with it being on the water it was probably going to be especially bad.  And it was.  I couldn't keep up with my pacer.  I couldn't keep up with anyone in the group and fell behind.  I tried to catch up by not slowing down at the water stations but that didn't help.  Finally I just had to put my head down, stop complaining, and push it.  I caught back up to the group just before we hit the bridge to head back.  And while there weren't that many people on Belle Isle, I wouldn't agree with those who described it as "boring" and "lonely."  Plus the bridge was pretty happening and right at the end I saw another friend unexpectedly so that was a nice push.  At this point I was running right next to my pacer and feeling good.  3 miles to go.

The Riverwalk/Atwater Street
We ran a bit of a stretch down Jefferson again before winding our way down to the Riverwalk.  I had hoped that getting off Belle Isle would mean less wind but unfortunately it didn't.  I fell behind the group again but not by much.  Running along the Riverwalk was probably my favorite part.  It was peaceful and quiet and it hardly seemed like we were running in a marathon at this point.  Then we ran down Atwater and by Chene Park, which was cool because I never knew where Chene Park was until I ran past it!  There were some good spectators out along this part of the course and I knocked out a few fist pumps for the crowds.  At the end of Atwater we turned the corner (I could still see Jordan not too far ahead of me!) and there was a decent enough hill with the 25-mile marker at the top.  I saw 2 friends I knew cheering me on.  Wahoo! 1.2 miles to go.

The Finish
With about one mile to go, I was still about the same distance behind Jordan.  Then I saw one of my friends who shouted something about me needing to catch my pacer.  I yelled back, "I know I fell behind!"  And that's when I suddenly became determined to catch up to him.  I started to push.  I passed one runner and as I came upon the next I recognized it was one of my GLR teammates.  I encouraged her and then kept going.  Next I passed two guys from my pace team who wanted to know where I'd been storing that energy.  I rounded the corner onto Fort Street. I could see the Finish line.  The crowds were cheering.  Up ahead I could hear the announcer.  I kept pushing, trying to catch Jordan and that 3:15 goal.  And I did!  I crossed the finish line in 3:14:49, setting a new PR for myself by almost 9 minutes and finishing 10th woman overall!  

After the Race
The great thing about running with a pace group is you have people to celebrate with at the end.  It's a pretty awesome feeling to run and encourage each other along for 26.2 miles to help each other meet their goals.  None of us knew each other when we started. I saw another GLR teammate just after I finished, which was an awesome surprise!  Then I grabbed my post-race snacks from really friendly and excited volunteers.  Vegan-wise, the snacks weren't bad - Food Should Taste Good chips and Garden Fresh hummus (both vegan), bananas and apples, and mini Larabars and Uberbars (Uberbars have honey but still a good choice).  Then I walked over to the after-party to meet Brian and get a free massage.  No waiting! I told the massage ladies not once but twice that I loved them.

We didn't stick around for anything else - I was way too cold and deeply in need of my Starbucks coffee and oatmeal.  However, on the way back to the car I ran into my friend Amy who placed 3rd overall for women in the marathon.  She is SMOKIN' fast!!

I loved everything about this marathon (well, not the IT band pain!) and couldn't be happier with how I ran it!



vanilla chia pudding, banana (pre-race)
2 CLIF Shots (mid-race @ miles 13 and 19)

Seven Nation Army / The White Stripes 
You Can't Hurry Love / The Supremes 
I Want It All / Arctic Monkeys
A Long Time / Mayer Hawthorne
Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running) / Foo Fighters 
Spark / Fitz & the Tantrums
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
Radio / Raphael Saadiq
Lately / Soul Asylum
Don't Wanna Talk / Brendan Benson
Mallie Chan / Otto Vector 
Safe and Sound / Capital Cities
Get in My Way / Robin Thicke
Crown on the Ground / Sleigh Bells
Back & Forth / Foo Fighters
Hooray for Hollywood / Neon Trees
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train 
I Love It / Icona Pop 
Think / Aretha Franklin
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne 
Ain't Messin 'Round / Gary Clark Jr.
Area 52 / Yeah Yeah Yeah's
Work Around It / Them Swoops
Charmless Man / Blur
Sleep Alone / Two Door Cinema Club
Molly / Sponge
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor
Second Chance / Peter Bjorn & John
Blue Orchid / The White Stripes
Reptilia / The Strokes
Worship You / Vampire Weekend
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse
Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells
Man / Neko Case
All is Well / Soul Asylum
L.O.V. / Fitz & the Tantrums
Silence is Their Drug / Sponge
Hell / Tegan & Sara
What Makes You Beautiful / One Direction
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
The Man That Never Was / Rick Springfield
Bulletproof / La Roux
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White
Good to Me / Brendan Benson 
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Foster the People
Reach Out (I'll Be There) / The Four Tops
Hotel Yorba / The White Stripes
We Found Love / Rihanna
Everything / Nine Inch Nails
Mercy / Duffy
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
Race for the Prize / The Flaming Lips
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Arctic Monkeys
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Demons / Imagine Dragons
Uprising / Muse

After 2 marathons in 2 months and 18 weeks of Hal Higdon (though I love him and thank him dearly), I'm looking forward to not following a training plan and running shorter races.  Bring on the 5k's and 10k's!

Next races: Mustache Dache, November 9th

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Detroit Marathon Countdown: 4 Days

I know I've sort of fallen off with my countdown posts.  Sorry about that.  Running the Marquette Marathon took some of the pressure off Detroit and I'm not as nervous as I anticipated I'd be back in June when I started training.  Wow, June.  That seems like forever ago!

Looking back over these past 18 weeks of training, I've done a lot of things to grow as a runner.  A lot of things that have helped prepare me for this marathon way beyond what just following the Hal Higdon training schedule would have done. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad I had a plan.  But I tweaked it here and there and I made it my own.  Not so much that I wasn't still following it.  I guess you could say I spiced it up a bit.  BAM!

Beyond the Plan:
  • Early on I did GLR, which pushed me to run faster and harder than ever before, challenging me mentally like no other race I'd run before.  I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the foundation for my marathon training.  
  • I sprinkled in races throughout my training program to help me train at race pace.  I did 3 10K races and 2 half marathons.  Plus the full marathon but that wasn't entirely planned. This isn't necessarily more than I would normally race in an 18-week period but I was definitely logging more miles along with these races.  And I didn't think anything of it, nor was I any more tired because of it.  Adding in the races made the miles more fun and it was a good way to challenge myself with speed.
  • Speaking of speed, I've really picked up the pace, thanks in large part to my new Garmin. Just running the miles isn't enough if you aren't pushing your pace on some runs.  I highly recommend using a Garmin or equivalent, along with a pace calculator if you want set a new goal for yourself.  (I used the Runner's World calculator to obsess over, er, PLAN my pace for Marquette and Detroit.)  
  • In July I started doing group runs with RUNdetroit, which is hands-down THE BEST running store around!  My Saturday runs are a whole lot more interesting now that I'm running through Midtown, Corktown, Hamtramck, and along the Riverwalk.  I've met some amazing people through this group and it's a great way to get in a fast 6 or 10 miles on Saturday mornings.  Recently on a rainy Saturday when my motivation to get out to run was dwindling, knowing there would be a big group of people meeting at the store was just the push I needed to get me out the door.  18 weeks ago I would have just gone to the gym instead!

Running gradually became more important to me over the past few years but in the last 18 weeks it has become much more of who I am.  It's part of how I define myself and I couldn't see my life without it.  Because of this, as I approach the marathon, I don't look to it as the end.  Yes, it's the end of THIS training cycle but it's not the end of my training.  After the marathon I will have more races, more Saturday group runs, more solo after-work stress-relieving runs.  I will have Boston.  
So after Sunday's race I'll take a few days to recover - do some yoga, get a massage - and then be back on the road, ready to run.  And if all goes to plan, I'll have a new PR to beat.

Are you running Detroit on Sunday?

Read previous Detroit Marathon Countdown posts - 17 Weeks, 15 Weeks, 12 Weeks, 10 Weeks

Saturday, October 5, 2013

On the Run: Brooksie Way 1/2 Marathon 2013

Although it wasn't my first race of the season, in my opinion, the Brooksie Way is the race that officially kicks off Fall.  It's the last weekend in September, so the weather is starting to cool off a bit and get into those perfect racing temps.  The leaves are starting to change color and with a course like Brooksie, you get to take it a lot of scenery!  In fact, it's the most scenic course around without having to drive up to the UP.  It takes you along the Clinton River Trail and Paint Creek Trail, both of which have a lot of trees.  Aside from the weather and scenery, the tee shirt and finisher's medal always have leaves on them so that is very fall-like, as well.  I'm not necessarily a sucker for medals but I do have to say that this is one a looker!


On the day of the race I was scheduled to run 20 miles.  The race started at 8:05 so I arrived at 6:30 to get in 5 miles ahead of time.  My plan was to run them easy, around an 8:30 pace.  Well . . . that turned into more of a 7:45ish pace.  oops.  But I was feeling good so I went with it.  After I was done I had time to use the bathroom, eat a banana, and talk to some friends.  Then I squeezed into my corral - boy was it crowded! - and had about 5 minutes to go before the start.

And I was off!  My 5 mile warm-up really helped me be able to get going at a good pace.  For the first 4 miles my pace gradually decreased as I settled into the race and slowly broke away from the crowds.  Brooksie has rolling hills that start around mile 7 and take you through the end of the race.  (Oh how I LOVE the hills!!)  My pace slowed at miles 8-9 but after that I was able to speed up and kept it consistent for 10-12.  Then for mile 13 I knocked off a whole 30 seconds to kick it out strong to the end.  

I finished in 1:32:30, placing 3rd in my age group, 8th woman overall.  I was only 2 seconds behind the girl ahead of me but because of chip timing, I didn't realize how close she was.  Had I known I might have poured a bit more on at the end!  But I was really giving it my all so I don't know if I could have done any more than I did.  This was a new course PR for me, beating last year's time of 1:33:33.  It was also a new half PR, beating my Free Press time of 1:32:37.  Considering this was my last half of the year, I was definitely excited to end on a high note!

After the race I ran 2 more miles to finish out my 20 for the day.  Those miles I did take easy.  I swear.



Vanilla Chia Pudding, banana

Off to the Races / Lana Del Rey 
Never Wanted Your Love / She & Him 
Over Here, Over There / Dr. Dog 
Lately / Soul Asylum 
Song Away / Hockey 
Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells 
Blurred Lines / Robin Thicke 
Everything / Nine Inch Nails 
The Great Defector / Bell X1 
Locked Out of Heaven / Bruno Mars 
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White 
Worship You / Vampire Weekend 
I Will Wait / Mumford & Sons 
Spark / Fitz & the Tantrums 
Better Left Unsaid / Otto Vector 
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor 
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae 
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne 
Good Time / Owl City (Ft. Carly Rae Jepsen)
All is Well / Soul Asylum 
Tap Out / The Strokes 
Battleflag / LoFidelity Allstars
Chop and Change / The Black Keys
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The Antidote / St. Vincent 
Brave / Sara Bareilles

Next race: Detroit Free Press Marathon, October 20th

What's your favorite Fall race?