Sunday was a great day for Detroit! Yes, I know that the Lions lost but as far as I am concerned they are still giving Detroit a football season to be proud of! But this blog entry is not about the Lions, it is about the Detroit Marathon!
On Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 am and then my second alarm went off at 4:20am. If that sounds early to you, I completely agree! However, between my excitement for competing in my first Detroit Marathon (I signed up to do the relay with 4 other runners) and the tons of well wishes that were waiting for me to view on my phone when I woke up, that early wake up call was actually an enjoyable one.
I met up with my relay partner Mike and his dad and then we headed to Detroit around 5:15am. The drive downtown was smooth sailing and we were able to find a parking spot close to the start line very quickly. Since I was running leg two of the race, I boarded a bus that was bound for Canada.
While I waited for the bus to depart, I watched out the window in amazement at the sheer number of people I saw. This was the biggest race I had ever been too, it is the second largest race in the midwest, Chicago being the largest. Eventually all the seats on the bus filled up and we even had people standing in the aisle! I should mention that I was on the last bus of the 10 buses that were headed for Canada! 10 buses, can you belive it?!?! We had a super awesome volunteer helping us board the bus and direct the driver. She told us that this year was her tenth year as a volunteer and even though this year’s race fell on her birthday, it didn’t deter her from coming back! Thank goodness for volunteers like her! She ran a tight ship too. The buses were scheduled to depart at 6:30am and that is what time we left. I was told that when we pulled out several runners tried to chase the bus down. I’m thinking those runners did not have a good day.
The bus took us through the Detroit / Windsor tunnel and parked in a lot not too far from the border. At this point, I still had well over an hour before my relay partner would be reaching the hand off area. I used this time to go to the bathroom, have a snack, stretch and familiarize myself with the hand off area. I would say the most difficult part of running the relay was waiting. I knew approximately what time my partner would be arriving at the hand off area, but I wanted to be ready at least 15 minutes before his expected time so we had a smooth transition. There were volunteers at the hand off area yelling out the bib numbers of relay racers coming in but they were not able to announce every runner as there were often too many approaching at one time. I just watched and listened as best I could, while still trying to enjoy the race occurring in front of me and cheer on the other runners. I did eventually see my partner Mike come in to the hand off area and after a quick high-five, I was off onto the course myself!
I was only in Canada for a short time but is should be noted that the crowd there was amazing! Lots of people cheering with signs and cowbells. I loved the energy of the race from the get go! Soon after I started my leg of the race I made it to the Detroit / Windsor tunnel. I got to have the unique experience of running 1 mile under water! I will admit that I was a little nervous about it, although I am not sure why. For future racers I can tell you that it is nothing to stress about. The tunnel was narrower than the road we had been running on, so it did cause some congestion amongst the runners, but at no time did I have to slow my pace. It was definitely a lot warmer in the tunnel as well as the air was thicker. But after a short run uphill, I was out of the tunnel and into Detroit. Immediately after the tunnel, I was greeted with a HUGE crowd of people. It was wonderful! In fact, a majority of my 6 mile portion of the marathon was packed with spectators. It was fantastic!!!
The most surprising thing to me about my leg of the race was how hilly it was! I thought Detroit was flat?!?! I had at least 3-4 hills counting the tunnel and by mile 4 my legs were starting to feel it. To keep me moving, I would look for another relay runner (we wore a sign on our backs that said relay) and try to catch or pass that runner. Towards the end of my 6 miles, I had to pick up my pace a little to reach my goal of finishing in under 60 minutes. My Garmin said that I did finish in under an hour, but my official time was posted as 01:02:16, so I am guessing I didn’t see my partner immediately as he came into the hand off area.
I spent the next few hours going to each hand off area with my relay partners to see each of our team mates come in. It took us a while to find our last partner, who had all of our medals. I think he secretly wanted them all for himself! 😉 But once we finally found him, I got my hands on this beauty. The best medal I have ever received!
And we got a team picture taken!
My team was not trying to finish the race within a certain amount of time, we were just doing it for the experience and for the joy of running. But we had a respectable time of 4:26:37! Go team!
I also got a chance to stop by the Refuel with chocolate milk booth and meet two of my Twitter friends in person! One of them has an awesome blog of her own. Check it out here. I of course, grabbed myself a chocolate milk and Mike and I had our picture taken with our chocolate milk moustaches!!! Don’t forget that I am still in the running to receive a sponsorship from Refuel with Chocolate Milk and I need your votes to make it happen. Click here to vote for me once a day! Voting ends on November 15, 2011 at 11:59am. I appreciate each and every vote I get!!!
My favorite part about the Detroit Marathon is that it showcased Detroit in a more positive way than how the city is usually viewed. Since I am a Detroiter, I am aware of the many wonderful things that Detroit offers, but I know that a lot of people see Detroit for what the media portrays the city to be like. On Sunday, people got to see Detroit in the way I see it. A city alive with positivity and possibility. People came together for the common cause of supporting a great race and a great city. On Sunday, Detroit shined!
Before I even left downtown on Sunday, I knew that I would be adding the Detroit Marathon to my list of MUST DO races each year. And if I ever decide to throw my running shoes in to a FULL marathon, it is going to be Detroit. There is no place I would rather run my first marathon!