Thursday, October 20, 2016

Race report: Detroit Free Press Half Marathon

Ugh, it’s already been A Week. I was a little more sore than expected after the Freep Half Sunday; I have a shin splint in my right leg that is only now starting to feel better. I had a work event last night before the debate, and the rest of the week was quickly filled with food prep, getting a much-needed haircut, and (let’s be honest) lazing around and eating junk food. This report kind of fell by the wayside.

But ANYWAY. On Sunday, my husband and I completed the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon and had a blast! It was his first half marathon and first big race. It was my first open half marathon, too, although I’ve done 7 fulls and a 70.3. It was fun, and it was a learning experience, but most of all I’m happy that we did this together.

Leading up to the race, we did a few easy runs of 3.5, 3 and 3 miles. It was nothing too strenuous – just enough to keep the legs warm and mobile. We opted not to go to the expo Friday night, instead meeting up with some friends of my husband in town for his high school homecoming. We got home WAY too late and slept in Saturday, eventually enjoying a nice big bacon-filled breakfast. We headed to the expo in the afternoon and picked up our packets without incident, even buying a nice finisher's jacket for him. We met up with a different set of friends later who were hosting a huge kielbasa-smoking party (yes, I’m serious). I made sure to eat a large helping of potatoes as well as the delicious sausage.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and organized our running stuff. We got to bed early and I was up at 4:30 a.m. Sunday to eat something, get changed, use the bathroom, take the dogs out, and check for the 15th time that we had everything. I was taking the role of logistical manager and sherpa; my pockets were filled with Gu, my phone, Kleenex, our IDs, a bit of cash, our keys, etc. All my husband had to do was run.

We found street parking easily and headed to the start line with about an hour to spare. Yes, we probably could have left later, but like I said, this was my husband's first big race, and I wanted him to experience everything. We walked around, we ate our bananas, we danced in place to the music — you get the idea. It was also fairly warm; he was comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, and I had capris and a t-shirt underneath a throwaway long sleeve. It was much more enjoyable than getting snowed on waiting for the start last year.

About 20 minutes after the first gun we were off! The first stretch is a straight shot to the Ambassador Bridge, where we would cross into Canada. The very first aid station had already run out of cups and were offering to let runners drink for the gallon jugs, or have water poured into their mouths. Uh, no thanks! I was alarmed we would be fluid-less for the race, as I sure wasn't drinking out of a jug God knows how many people's lips had touched before mine. Luckily every other aid station had cups. 

I took my phone out of my magnetic pocket to catch the sunrise from the bridge (about mile 3), and just ran with it, switching hands, for the rest of the race. I wanted to get some pics to remember the big day, and I honestly barely noticed it. The crowd support for the 4-ish miles in Windsor is always great and we saw a freaking DOG running the race with a bib and everything! Of course I got some pics. (Note: I always stepped off to the side when taking pics and NEVER stopped running in front of people. Etiquette, people.)
Gorgeous sunrise from the bridge ramp.
Now here's something you don't see every day. (Actually only once per year.)
I thought this was a cool pic running back toward the water. 
A dog running the race. REPEAT: A DOG RUNNING THE RACE 
Windsor isn't a bad little town.
The tunnel to get back to the U.S. was hot and stuffy, like always, and it never really cooled back down. We could see clouds coming in from the west and it felt like the humidity was rising. I only half-joked to my husband that we better hurry to miss the storm. The next few miles (8-11) were all about putting our heads down and getting it done. It was starting to warm up, and he was starting to slow a bit, but we kept shuffling forward. I'd try to encourage him by reminding him that all we had left was a lap around the neighborhood, our usual morning run, etc. to hopefully help him feel like the remaining distance wasn't insurmountable. He didn't yell at me to shut up, so I kept at it.
In the tunnel under the Detroit River, almost back home.
Back in the fresh air!
We made the turn to head back to downtown. He was really starting to struggle and his knee was starting to hurt, but I did the math and realized that if we held a 13:00-ish pace, we could come in under our goal of 2:45. I tried to be encouraging but not too hard. Still no yelling to shut up. The crowd got bigger and bigger and the cheering got louder and louder. The full marathoners turned off and for the first time I've done this race, I didn't follow them. We turned right for the final shot to the finish. We had about 90 seconds to make our goal. More encouraging words. We picked it up a bit to the finish and ... success! We made it with about 35 seconds to spare.

I was so proud. He worked hard, pushed through discomfort, and never gave up. He did it.

We got water and snacks and shuffled back to the car, and headed home for showers and food. After eating pancakes and relaxing for a few hours, I actually got some stuff done in the kitchen, including making sauce with tomatoes from our garden and some cleaning. Afterward, we headed to our friends' house, where they treated us with smoked pork shoulder and macaroni and cheese. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.

We have been reveling in our accomplishment all week. We are officially half marathoners!

And pancake eaters.


  1. Love the pictures and hurray for your husband getting his goal time! Has he been bitten by the bug; is he already planning the next race?

    And this is obviously haircut week. Just a trim or something drastic like me?

    1. I drag him to races occasionally but I wouldn't say he has the bug... yet. =) There is a race on Black Friday we are looking at doing and bonus, we have an excuse not to shop! haha

      Just a trim for me, I had grand plans to get a few inches taken off (it's just above my shoulders) but like every single time I chickened out once in the chair.