So I’ve been told that I shouldn’t call it my bucket list, as I just want to check off somethings before I turn 30… But calling it an “over the hill list” or “before the hill” just sounds weird. So, in January of 2012, on New Years day, I signed up to run the Detroit 1/2 marathon. Thinking I would have 9 months to train, as the marathon is at the end of October, I said I could do the 1/2 marathon in 2 hours and 9 minutes. Since I had just run a 5k in under 30 minutes without training… so with training, 2:09 seemed attainable.
But… I didn’t have a lot of drive this year… After I started my job in the suburbs I enrolled at a gym close to work, where for a while, I was attending all the time. But slowly I became busier and busier, and slowly stopped going to the gym. I did a 5k in the middle of the summer, I was much slower than I was a few months before, but I blamed that on the 90+ degree heat and fresh black pavement. I wasn’t sure if I would be in town during the 1/2 marathon. And a list of a million other reasons why I didn’t end up running during the 9 months before the 1/2 marathon. Every once and a while I would really get to work, run for a week straight, then I would stop again.
Two weeks before the 1/2 marathon I ran a few days just 2 or 3 miles each time. The Wednesday before the 1/2 I ran 5 miles in one hour and 4 minutes, I was just trying to work out the pace that I wanted to run. I wanted to run 13 minute miles. At 13 minutes a mile I assumed that I could run 13 miles. The Thursday before I ran 2 miles.
Saturday I did nothing. I just sat around and tried to “rest” my legs. I tried to go to bed at 10pm, of course I couldn’t sleep… I woke up all night fidgety about the race. I got up before my alarm went off at 5, had breakfast, tried to shove as much stuff into my iPhone arm band as I could. Martin gave me some Gatorade Chews, I took my drivers license in case I got stuck at the border, put Chapstick and my earphones in my tiny workout pocket, and wrote my emergency contact info on my bib number. Then put on my blue jeans, sweatshirt and jacket. Martin and I rode our bikes down to the parade start.
I stood in the corral where a race pacer had a 12:36 minute sign. I was with a friend, Maria, who was going to run with me. She was going to do 12:30 minute miles. So I thought, I can run that instead of 13 minute miles. No big deal. By the time our corral got to the start line it was already 7:25. I started my Nike+ and we started running. I had turned the Nike+ voice to give me the pace every 1/2 mile. So at the first 1/2 I didn’t have my ear phones in. By mile 1 I had put them in, heard that we were running an 11:40 second mile. I said something to Maria, she said it was ok. Mile 2 was paced at 11:27… SOOO much faster than I wanted. But the view was amazing! We ran up the Ambassador Bridge, with the sun coming up, fog rolling in over Canada. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.
At Mile 3 somewhere across the bridge we were running an 11:30 mile. Mile 4 was down the bridge and only 11 minutes. I was so ready to be done at this point. But I wanted to get in 5 miles. So I kept up with Maria, we paced the 5th mile at 10:39.
That’s the last mile time I’ll give you. I told her at 5 miles that she could go on without me. I knew if I kept going that hard that I wouldn’t make it. So I slowed up. Walked through every water station to make sure I wouldn’t spill one precious drop. I ran back to the US through the tunnel. The tunnel was hot and full of people that had stopped to take photos at the US / Canada boarder. I took off my long sleeve shirt and gloves. The underwater mile was the slowest mile I ran all day.
I came out of the tunnel, and it was freezing outside with no long sleeve shirt on. I waved at a friend at the top of the tunnel and the announcer said my name over the loud speaker. That was really cool. Then I kept running and saw Martin. I gave him my shirt and gloves. For a while Martin rode next to me and we talked. It was neat, but I didn’t really have enough brain left to talk and breath at the same time.
At the 10 mile mark, I got really excited! Only 5k left! I started running faster… Soon after I ran past a group of people handing out M&M’s. The smell of chocolate at that point in the race was disgusting. They were passing them out in front of a Burger King, making the smell even grosser. I very quickly realized that I couldn’t run any faster, and needed to slow my pace again. My joints hurt all over my lower half. I could feel every muscle moving, or barely moving. Between mile 11 and 12 we ran through Corktown and I saw a bunch of friends sitting on porches, hanging out cheering people on, it was a really amazing sight.
After mile 12 I started getting excited again, I’m not sure what it was but I wanted to start crying. I knew from the voice on my Nike+ that I was still at 12:30 minute miles, and that if I kept it up and I would crush my 3 hour 1/2 marathon that I had been planning. I came around the corner and turned down the finish stretch and looking ahead of me I saw the man who was standing in front of me in the start corral. The pace man with the 12:45 minute sign. I wanted to beat him so badly. I wanted to have a good time. I could taste the finish.
So I tried to out sprint him. I could tell that I had run 13 miles already, my body didn’t respond as fast as it should have. But I did pass him with 3 blocks to go before the finish.
I finished my first 1/2 marathon in 2:43:28. 17 minutes faster than I had planned. I was so happy getting my mylar blanket and my metal. But I couldn’t fathom standing in line for a banana, so I left to find Martin, knowing that as soon as I stopped moving my legs they wouldn’t start again. We walked about 6 blocks to where Martin had parked the car. My ankles, knees, hips and all of my muscles were hurting. I could feel the pain in my lungs.
I had a cupcake and protein shake when I got home, I took a shower and a nap. Once again, I was a part of something amazing. I met a woman who was trying to run a 1/2 marathon in every state. Detroit was her 19th state, 24th 1/2 marathon. She said there was nothing like running your first 1/2 marathon. She was right.
It’s now 3 days later, my muscles feel much better. Joints are all fine. I will run again tomorrow. I spent 2 hours and 43 minutes doing something that I never thought I could do. And did it with basically no training.
Now on to the next big thing… TedXDetroit is Friday… I love to nerd out, and the GAR Building is my favorite building in the whole city, and has been since my first trip to Detroit in 1997, when I came down to watch the Detroit Marathon. …. Life Cycles… puns… ha.
Have a good night.