Detroit Free Press Marathon Race Report

Thank you everyone for the kind words about my grandpa.

Getting back into the groove of training is going to be a little daunting, with this imposing 300pg document screaming in my face. After Detroit, I decided to take an entire week off, mainly because I had a lot of traveling/family-ing on my plate, but also because I was sore. Really sore. I couldn’t walk well the day after the race, and my feet ached. In fact, my quads screamed for the longest post-race duration I’ve ever experienced, and I was still feeling the marathon on Thursday. Which, of course, I think is odd considering it was “only” a marathon, and not a super fast one to boot. Some days you have it, some days you don’t.

So, how was the Detroit Free Press Marathon, you ask?

In one word: Awesome.

I have to start with the disclaimer that I love Detroit. Sure, it has a bad rap. I admit, I used to make fun of it. It was kind of dingy. I used to call it names, maybe even show embarrassment whenever someone would ask where I was from. And, to be honest, there’s really nothing that cool about car arson or five-story apartment buildings without any windows. But things are starting to change in that town. Detroit has shown me what it takes to be resilient, to persevere. To turn the other cheek, to ignore the naysayers. I’ve been shown that those from Detroit are proud, yet they aren’t afraid to lend a hand to a neighbor in need. They have every right to be proud; it was this city, after all, that brought everyone in the US their own vehicle. Detroit has helped make driving a right, not just a luxury. Whether or not we like it, without Detroit and the Big Three, the US wouldn’t be what it is today. Yet we are quick to judge this city and its people, throwing them to the wolves. Many Americans point their fingers at the Big Three and Detroit for the downfall of the economy.  They have used Detroit as the scapegoat for their financial strives, and that is quite unfortunate. I’m looking forward to the day when the phoenix rises up from the ashes…

But, off my soapbox, let’s just say that Detroit has a special place in my heart. There’s awesome music (and no, I’m not talking about Kid Rock… he’s not even from Detroit!). Awesome food. Great parks. It’s a blue-collar town.

So, without further adieu, here’s my Detroit Free Press Marathon report!

Expectations:

Going into this race, I was hoping to cruise to a fast marathon time with my post-FullRev fitness. Unfortunately, my post-FullRev diet and activities included a lot of junk. I did a lot of sitting at my desk, I did a lot of eating candy and not hydrating well, and I did a lot of nothing. I ran ~3-4times a week, didn’t swim more than twice, and only bike once. It was pathetic. But, for whatever reason, I thought I’d be ok. I even thought I’d have a chance to snag a PR. I was delusional.

Expo:

The expo was extraordinary. This is probably the best expo I’ve been to. Race wear was for sale, and they had some seriously cool designs. Had I not been in a penny-pinching-gonna-move-to-another-state-soon financial situation, I’d have definitely bought plenty of Christmas gifts. We went to pick up our packets on Saturday afternoon and it was not too crowded, the flow was great. We were able to get our bibs and swag quickly. There were plenty of last-minute things if I needed anything, but fortunately I didn’t.

Pre-race:

Fortunately, Big Daddy Baberaham gave Babe and I a ride to the race start on Sunday morning, so we didn’t have to fuss with parking or People-Movering. Not that the People-Mover is bad; it’s actually quite awesome. But, easing pre-race stress is always key. It was dark, and it stayed plenty dark until the race started.

The only qualm I had about the whole race was the gear drop. It was a little chilly but Baberaham decided to ditch his pre-race clothes with his dad in case we couldn’t find the gear drop. Luckily, there was a gear drop, so I didn’t lose my layers. I ended up giving him my jacket though, since he was shivering and I felt fine. Not only did that give him a little bit of warmth, but it also encouraged other athletes to think he was a pro marathoner, and a few people approached him with questions about the race start because “he looked like he knew what he was doing.” That was funny. Anyway, back to bag drop– We found it about fifteen minutes before the race start, which apparently wasn’t enough time because the queue was quite long… and not moving. Eventually, it was 8min to race start, I had to pee, and we were still in line. About five minutes to the start of the race, we were able to make it to the front of the line and I got into line to pee… then ran to the start. I found my friend and college buddy, Kaoru, who helped me jump the fence and start with the B wave.

The waves started 2 minutes apart, and I was bummed because in my run from porta john to start line I lost Baberaham. I wanted to run with him for the first few miles, but that was a lost cause (there were nearly 20,000 people). So, I started with Kaoru. The rope held us in the gate until our wave was to take off, and I didn’t feel the jitters that a pre-race PR-seeking gal might.

The course:

The marathon course was excellent. Since I was in wave B, it was pitch black when I started. I didn’t see the first mile, which was ok, but I figured that when I got to 8minutes I had passed it. It was probably the best that it was dark at the start because the first mile or two are the ugliest of the course. Around mile 3, we headed up and over the Ambassador Bridge and into Canada. The bridge was a little slower than I wanted, because the Trolls thought it was a hill, or something. After we got off the bridge, it was a few miles of flat shoreline running in Winsor. I loved it, the spectators were great and the views were amazing. We headed into the tunnel to get back to the US and it was a hot mile underground. My arm warmers came off and I cruised through the halfway.

Right around 13miles, my legs started to fight me. I could feel feet clomping on the ground, and my joints ached. It was a strange sensation, telling me to slow down. But I was on pace for a 3:15, which would be a PR, so I pushed through. Then I saw my friends, D&T, and thought “wouldn’t it be more fun to stop and cheer the other athletes on?” But I’ve never DNF’d a marathon, and I wasn’t about to start in my home state.

We headed down Lafayette, and my legs got more and more tight. Maybe I should have stopped, I thought. The pain in my legs didn’t go away. It just got worse. But now I was the farthest from the finish line I’d be all day, and if I stopped I’d have a long walk back. My quad muscles started to get shooting pains through them.

The course headed onward into Indian Village, and the spectators were phenomenal. I took in as much as I could of what was going on around me. The tree lined streets and the beautiful, old houses… the leaves crunching under my feet, the colors. It was just awesome. I was a little disappointed to run past, or get passed, by athletes wearing headphones. I wanted to chat with them, I wanted to take it all in.

I slowed a little, but that didn’t help the pain in my legs. I stopped and stretched out, but that didn’t help. My run turned to a shuffle, and I walked through the aid stations. I physically could not force myself to run any faster. The course headed over the River Walk bridge to Belle Isle, a place in Detroit where I had never been. It was an awesome 2mile loop around the island. I wanted to enjoy it more, and I felt like I had so much in the tank to burn. But the legs just wouldn’t wake up. It was as if I had left everything at the halfway mark. I walked a bit, I’d walk backward to see if Baberaham was catching up. I’d scan every person passing by and every person approaching, to see if they were wearing a blue shirt and hat, to see if it w
as Babe. But then I thought, if he does catch me, I won’t be able to run with him. So I would start running again, only to stop about two miles later to stretch or walk. It was mile-by-mile of sufferfest. And it was only a marathon.

Eventually, I heard a huff and puff come from behind me and a “Finally I see you at mile 24!” Babe caught up, and was going to run with me, but I encouraged him to catch the girl in the pink skirt that ran by a few seconds before. At first he resisted, but he saw I was hurting, so he took off. Two more miles, anyone can run two more miles. Or walk. I shuffled my way to the finish line, thinking to myself what a poor attempt at a marathon that was.

But I really can’t be that upset. For blowing up completely, I still hung on to a 3:30 marathon. And I was actually quite happy when I finished. Not because of my time, I didn’t really care. I was happy because I didn’t quit. Because I experienced a part of Detroit I’d never experienced. Because I had a good time, even though I had a painful time. There was no “woe-is-me” for me afterward, I was just glad to be done. Baberaham got a PR by over 15minutes, and my friend Jess PR’d in the half. I was so glad to be done to hear their stories and congratulate them.

That’s one of the few times I’ve raced where that thought has crossed my mind. Glad-to-be-done. The finish line volunteers put the medal around my neck, and I smiled. It was worth every step.

It’s amazing how the same things can feel so different on different days. Some days you feel cold when its 70 degrees outside. I think running a marathon fits in this category. Sure, I wasn’t prepared for a PR. I admit that, hands down. But its amazing to me how hard a marathon can feel, like how hard it felt on Sunday. And yet, on other days, marathons can feel like a breeze, even after you’ve biked 112 miles and swam 2.4. I guess some days you have it, and some days you don’t.

So even though it was a crappy race for me, even though I felt sore and slow, I still had an awesome time. I enjoyed seeing parts of Detroit that I’ve never seen, even though its where I grew up. It’s amazing what a marathon can show you; it’s amazing what we don’t see unless someone else shows us. Thank you, Detroit.

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About megankillian

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. I love biomechanics!

Posted on October 24, 2010, in marathon, Michigan, race report. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I loved this marathon post, thanks! It IS amazing how hard a marathon can feel!

  2. Sounds like you had a fun time which is what is most important! Detroit is on my “todo” list but it is always the same weekend as the GR marathon which is basically in my backyard – hard to pass that up.

    I’m going to go digging through some of your old posts to see if I can find the answer, but if you have any recommendations for a good Saucony racing shoe, I would be very grateful. I just won a gift certificate for a free pair of Saucony’s and have never had racing shoes.

    Good luck with your PhD work!

  3. I’m sorry you didn’t get that PR, but OMG, that time is awesome and super fast! I would love that time!!

    I’m sorry you were having pain, but you didn’t quit! You pushed through the pain and finished! Yay!

  4. Megan, you rock! Thanks for sharing your race report even with Phd work on your plate.

  5. Your report reminded me of my marathon. Ouchy. But you still did ” SO GOOD!” 🙂 I was right against the rope in wave B. I bet we were right by each other and didn’t even know it. I also missed mile 1, but probably for the better. I might have scared myself with the pace!

  6. love that medal! 🙂 Great report! Way to hang in there!!!

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