Monday, October 21, 2013

I did it--I finished a MARATHON

To think that 18 months ago I had no desire to even go a mile, to complete 26.2 of them on a Sunday morning is huge. My first race over a 10K was in February but before that, I had already registered for my first full marathon. How do things like that happen? Well, this one was simple. For the Detroit Marathon the cheapest registration is the first week of the year. The race with the least amount of spots is the Marathon BUT unlike other races, Detroit allows you to change your race distance through August. So, I signed up for the full expecting that come August I would drop down to the half, well I didn't.

The race was amazing and hard and emotional and everything I had read it would be. Here is how it went.

The night before we stayed downtown at the RenCen. This has 2 benefits. 1. I would not have to stress about parking or getting downtown by 6am on race morning. 2. It meant the kids could be on the course. There was no possible way the kids could be outside from 6am-1pm and not go nuts.

I have to admit, when we checked in I got super excited. Here is the room key for the runners. I was wondering if everyone staying there that night got it but I saw others with a different, normal key so it was so cool!!

I had a nice dinner with my amazing group of running friends and then had a relaxing evening, I even skipped watching the Tigers play so I could rest.

Sunday morning came early. We met in the lobby at 6am to walk to the picture meeting point at Campus Martius. It was cold but not miserable (I think it was 41 at the start but very little wind). I even left my sweatpants and sweatshirt in the hotel. After the picture I realized I had not grabbed my inhaler and had not used it either. I knew I was going to go slow in the beginning so I texted my mom to bring it to Mile 8 for me. After a quick stop in the Compuware building to use a real bathroom it was off to the start.

I was in corral L and it was not bad. Not too crowded and the people around me were so nice and friendly. Lots of first time runners which was so neat!!! I knew in my head I had to start off slow because I had to make it the entire way. I got lucky and ran into a friend and her mom and I stuck with them for the first 10K. It was so much fun to run across the bridge and into Canada. The border agents were cheering and super friendly on the course and Windsor was very welcoming to us. I made it to the relay exchange, saw my team member off and I had to double back to get my tag cut off my shoe.

At this point I was feeling good and it showed in my times. My time from the 10K-20K split were the best of the whole day. I really liked the tunnel, though I know a lot of people don't. I thought it was just so cool and coming out to all the cheering fans. I also got to see my family for the first time at that point. The kids were so cold and I felt so bad for everyone standing out there. It meant so much but honestly I think it is too much to have the kids come to races, it is just not fair to anyone.

Corktown was fun and there was a group giving out M&M's (complete with someone dressed as one. That was fun and a nice treat.

At mile 13 we split from the International Half runners who had done the first half of the course with us. It was quiet on the course until about 14.5 miles when we caught up to the US only half runners who were doing the second half of the course. I got to see a running friend at 14 and it was a huge help to see him and have him check in with me. He caught a picture of me going past!

As I approached Mile 16 I started thinking, only another 3 miles until I see some friends who were coming out to cheer. Imagine my over the top surprise when they were there on the side of the road. They had brought signs, a speaker system to cheer and their kids ran with me for a little bit. It totally gave me a boost!!! I actually had tears in my eyes to know I have such an amazing friend to do this.

Indian Village was amazing. They seem to have a lot of fun with the event. So many of the people who live there were out and celebrating the runners. There were beer stations and one guy was out with Jelly Beans in a cup. I also found a PoP with NO LINE and I took a quick pit stop which I have never done in a race before.

Then it was time to get onto Belle Isle and I fell apart. My hamstrings got so tight (never happened before) and that was my slowest split time, including the end. I was just dragging around the island. I could not get into and kind of groove BUT my friend and her family where at the start of the island and the end! Leaving the island I felt better after seeing them and knowing there were only 4 more miles to go. I knew I could do 4 miles but I also knew my chances of getting below a 5:30 were GONE. The Riverwalk was nice but it was kind of boring, not a lot going on but it was the end!!! There was a nice man and his daughter with bananas and cider as we got on to Atwater and it was so sweet to see all the people who came out to support strangers.

I had been dreading the hill at 25 but I knew my family would be there and sure enough, I turned the corner and there they were. The kids even ran with me up the hill and it made me want to cry. As we left and turned on Larned towards the finish a lady said seeing the kids made her want to cry and gave her a boost. It was so sweet. Then right as I was questioning why I was doing this, I saw my amazing friends. Her husband and kids ran a little with me and then it was time to get to the finish. One of my relay team members was right there and that gave me a boost!!!

The finish line was emotional. I did it. I knew I could but I had not counted on it being so hard. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but I did it. I walked to the end to get my finisher picture and then to meet my relay team. I was even able to bend down which I count as a HUGE WIN!!!

I was so lucky on this journey to meet so many amazing people to help me through this and support me. Also I know without Jeff and my mom there is no way this could have been possible. The support and encouragement they gave me was beyond anything I could hope for. Not a single complaint when I headed out for my long runs on the weekends and braving the cold to be there to cheer me on. THANK YOU!!!

I will do this again, I am not sure. I love the half and enjoy running it. I am not sure if the full is my thing but I did it and I am proud, even if my time is not so pretty.

The best thing about being done was coming home. My sister and her family came over and decorated the house. It made me tear up, again!!!

BONUS Surprise: Today I got a video of the start and finish! I am hard to spot in the start but it is just before it ends and I am in the middle wearing teal


  1. Erin,

    I truly enjoyed reading your first marathon experience. Months of intense training and sacrifices must've been difficult but you conquered all obstacles and made it!! I have my first full next month and a huge part of me is so frightened by this experience, but it's thanks to you who made me believe in myself. You are awesome and you rock!

    So, congratulations marathoner!! :)

  2. I am so glad I accidentally found your blog! You are amazing and I am so proud of you!!!