Thursday, October 22, 2015


Halfway up the ramp to the Ambassador Bridge to run into Canada (stolen from Runs for Cookies... sorry Katie!)


My plane left at 7am on Thursday morning and I was in Detroit by 5pm local time after a stopover in Salt Lake City. Katie picked me up and we went straight to her cross country practice for the team she is coaching. That was fun to watch and if I were to ever coach again I think cross country would be a fun one to do. Jerry and the kids met us there and after the practice we went out to a place called Anson's to eat pizza. It was very good and they had all sorts of unique varieties. My favorite was the Rueben... yum! The night ended by sucking at Keno at a local bar near their house.

Red Wings game at Joe Lewis Arena! They lost 5-3.
Friday we spent most of the day in Detroit. The three of us had Caesar Salads for lunch at a BBQ place called Redsmoke. The Caesar dressing was interesting but very good... almost a cross between a Caesar and a balsamic vinaigrette. I got pulled chicken on my salad and tried a bunch of their different BBQ sauces. The honey mustard was my favorite. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything honey mustard. After that yummy lunch we gambled a little bit at Greektown Casino... I played $20 and was up to $40 at one point, but as in true gambling fashion, kept playing and ended up with zero. Oops.

After that it was off to the expo. You've been to one, you've been to them all. The only unique thing about this one was showing your passport to a Department of Homeland Security official before you got your bib. Other than that though, same as usual. Bought some of the same Margarita Shot Blocks I used in Portland. After that we walked the River Walk and went to a bar and had a drink before going to my first NHL game. I had fun even though the Red Wings got housed. It was fun to see Joe Lewis Arena before they tear it down in a couple years.

Saturday was a fairly low-key day. In the morning we went their kids' cross country meet. It was my first meet and it was really interesting to watch even though it was super cold and I was freezing. Both kids ran and did really well and it was cool to see the variety of abilities there and all the different teams. After that we got lunch from a place called Eerie Bread Company and the sandwich I got was very good! Total calorie bomb though!

In the afternoon we played laser tag and went bowling with the kids. Laser tag was a lot of fun and it was cool to go to another arena other than the one here I always go to.  There wasn't a ton of people there so the first game was just Jerry, the kids, me, and two other people. The second game was the four of us versus a six pack of kids. My team won both times but I wasn't the top score, Katie's oldest was. Guess he's pretty good at laser tag! After that it was off to bowling. Did crappy on my first game (90-something) since I didn't have my ball or shoes, but got a 144 and 143 to redeem myself slightly in the final two.

Right after the race started.

I actually adjusted to Eastern Time pretty well, probably the best of any trip back East for a race. Saturday night I fell asleep around 11 and woke up at 5. So about six hours of sleep. We left for the race at 5:30 and I had my normal breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese. The bagel was a pretzel bagel from Tim Horton's and it was pretty yummy! We parked at Greektown Casino and then took the People Mover to the start line. I was much less nervous for this race than Portland.

We probably should have studied the start line map because we got there with about 25 minutes until the race started. I needed to bag check the sweats and sweatshirt I was wearing (it was 33 degrees) and I couldn't find it. Maybe some directional signs would have helped. Anyways, it was super crowded due to the 15,000+ runners doing the various events, and getting anywhere was slow. I finally found bag check and checked my clothes with about one minute before the gun. All told, even though it was a close call, it worked out well. I was never cold because after checking my warm clothes I ran right to the start line and started the race.

MILES 1-8: OH CANADA! (8:14, 8:24, 8:40, 8:37, 8:02, 8:17, 8:24, 8:34)

Due to the close call at the start line I was unable to get with the 3:35 pacer. My bib actually had me in a slower corral (I think I put 4:00 or 4:15 as my time expecting to be pacing Katie) but nobody was monitoring it. I ended up slipping in near the 3:55 group and crossing the start line about six minutes after the race started. The start line was a lot like Miami... really busy and chaotic. They are similar sized events due to the large half taking place at the same time.

In the crowds toward the beginning of the race.
That first mile or so I had to weave a bit as I was with a slightly slower group of people but it wasn't too bad. I didn't think I could catch the 3:35 pacer, as they probably started three minutes ahead of me, so I knew I'd probably have to pace myself. That first mile or so felt really easy. My legs felt good and I was thinking just maybe I'd have a good race. Did I mention it was snowing at the start? Yeah. Luckily I was never cold. My shorts, long sleeved t-shirt, hat, and gloves were more than enough to keep me warm, especially once the sun came out.

It was two miles until you start going up the ramp to the Ambassador Bridge. This ramp is a more gradual climb than the St. John's Bridge and thus the "hill" lasted a lot longer. I took it easy up the bridge, averaging about 8:40, knowing there was a lot of race left. This part of the race was really cool... crossing the bridge into Canada as the sun came up. Very awesome! We got some downhill into Canada and I clocked an 8:02. Legs started feeling not as fresh though.

Once we leveled out in Canada I tried to maintain about an 8:15 pace. I was able to do it for one mile but then slowly drifted off pace. More on that later. Canada was very cool. Not a ton to see, you mostly run along the river and it looks a lot like the river from the other side, but it was fun to see the Detroit skyline and the people really come out and cheer over there. The Canadian border people were a lot of fun too, high-fiving participants and getting in on the festivities. After a flat two miles it was time for the tunnel back to the United States.

The tunnel was cool but way hotter than I excepted. It was a good 70F in there and I had to take off my hat and roll up my sleeves. It was pretty neat but I could tell my legs were starting to slow. So while I enjoyed the tunnel, this part of the race was also where I kind of realized I wouldn't be running a 3:40 race. At this point I had to readjust my focus and think about going sub 4:00. The "hill" out of the tunnel was tougher than it should have been but I still managed an 8:34.

MILES 9-14: THE U.S. OF AHHHH CRAP MY LEGS (8:58, 9:09, 8:41, 9:16, 9:04, 9:01)

Looking back at Detroit from Canada (Runs For Cookies)
As you can see with my times, this was an adjustment period. The thought at this point was to finish averaging about 9:00/mile and finish in 3:55 or so. I even followed the 3:55 pace group for a majority of these miles. My legs didn't crap out yet, but they were feeling very "not fresh." I could tell they weren't recovered from the Portland Marathon yet and there was no way I could have a similar time. So the hope now was to hang on at 9:00/mile. It would be a grind, but maybe I could do it. Maybe my legs could hang in there.

This part of the course was the least interesting. The "industrial part" of Portland for Detroit. Even then it was way more interesting than that damn section of Portland. Just around downtown streets that all kind of looked the same. Generally maintaining my 9:00ish pace and hoping that my legs would stay in there. Honestly, nothing much stands out at this point of the race. I was getting agitated by all the half runners around me celebrating each mile and counting down. "Only two more to go!" Not what I wanted to hear as a marathoner. Some of the spectators were also shouting similar things.

Eventually the half marathon people split off and I was expecting it to really thin out but it seemed like maybe 40% of the people around me stuck around and were running the marathon. Maybe the half has a lot of slower folk/walkers and exodus would be much more noticeable at a slower pace. Overall it was a nice surprise and the amount of people felt a lot like Portland. So I wasn't alone at least. Again, these miles weren't very interesting but the scenery would quickly turn around.

MILES 15-20: HOUSTON, WE HAVE A SHIT SHOW (12:59, 11:06, 10:21, 11:02, 10:20, 9:43)

Here's one of Katie and Jerry coming
back into the US. Mile 8ish.
So, yeah... mile 15 was almost thirteen minutes. What happened? My legs finally gave out. They weren't recovered from Portland and eventually they just stopped responding. What finally triggered me to walk was a muscle in my right leg being strained and feeling it pull with every step and causing me to limp. It isn't my hamstring or my quad, it's located more on the side of my leg toward the back. I think it's my glute. It's acted up before but not in a long time and it only acts up when my legs have been overused. So I guess it's not surprising that it flared up!

Thanks to the modern miracle of GPS watch technology I can pinpoint exactly where I crapped out. It was right after my watch beeped for 14 miles, so probably mile 13.9 on the course. At that point I was staring at 12 miles of walking in 36 degrees. Surprisingly, I didn't freak out. I texted Katie to let her and Jerry know I was going to be later than expected and then tried to get back up and running. When I started running again I could feel the muscle pull. I tried to stretch it out a little bit and was able to run for about a block until I had to stop and stretch again.

The thought of quitting never crossed my mind. I've thought about what I would do in a situation like this and it was always to finish, no matter how I did it. After many stops and starts to stretch I was able to run from about 15.3 to 16.6 only stopping twice. If I kept my pace around 10:00/mile the muscle wasn't aggravated very much and I could kind of shuffle along. Even if I could run faster I'm not sure the rest of my legs had it in them. Energy wise I felt good, so it was just a matter of managing my body.

A flavor of Indian Village. Sorry, no pics from the entire
2nd half of the race. Apparently I wasn't a intriguing target?
I had a great period of running from mile 16.6 to 20.0 where I only had to stop once. I actually was near the 4:00 pacer at this point and talked with some people. I was actually having a pretty good time! This was the Indian Village part of the course and it was really cool. Very nice neighborhood with cool old houses and large trees everywhere. Super pretty and it put a little pep in my step. I even had a 9:44 mile. At this point I was feeling much better about my situation. At mile 14 I was staring at walking the rest of the thing, but now I knew I could hopefully run most of it.

MILES 21-26.2: SURVIVING THE SECOND WAVE (11:34, 12:44, 12:22, 10:39, 11:10, 11:49)

After Indian Village I was feeling pretty good. I was actually kind of looking forward to Belle Isle, knowing it contained mile 20 and was the beginning of the final 10k. It was pretty and I was probably able to enjoy it more than if I were running a 3:40 pace, but it also featured the attack of the glute, round two. As you can see by the near 13 minute mile, it flared back up. This time the stop and stretch didn't loosen it up for a while, as soon as I started running it would pull again.

Belle Isle. Despite my legs, I still enjoyed the sights!
So much of the island was a frustrating experience of trying to stretch my legs in different directions to try and loosen them up. Sometimes I would last a couple steps. Sometimes I would last a quarter mile. Most of my running was just spent waiting for it to pull again though. Aside from that, I was still enjoying myself. There's a little more talking back with the 4:00+ folk so I was able to talk with a few people about the race, my Portland Marathon shirt, etc. Unfortunately I had to drop a couple chats to stop and stretch. Most of the two miles on the island were this frustrating start/stop.

Once off the island though I was able to get back into somewhat of a groove. In fact, I was able to run miles 23.2 to 24.6 without stopping. This was along the River Walk, which I had visited earlier, so it was familiar territory. After that I had to stop and stretch, but for the rest of the race I never had another bout like on Belle Island where I was flirting with a 13:00 mile. Most of the time one 30 second stop to stretch was enough to get me back up and running. Mile 25 was a little slower because there was a small hill of about three blocks I walked. Uphill running aggravated my strained muscle and there was no incentive to try and push it there.

Sprinting into the finish! Finally a pic!
After walking that hill around 25.4 I ran the final mile without stopping. My watch tracked me at 26.5, which I'd believe. I wasn't paying attention to tangents and kept having to run to the side of the road to stretch. So I'm pretty proud of running the final mile. The crowds and energy kept my leg from bothering me to much. Great support and energy that final little stretch. When I turned the corner and had about three blocks to go I looked at my watch and decided to try for a 4:20 (cuz Oregon). Unfortunately my full out sprint fell just short. Don't know how I was able to sprint for those three blocks, but it happened. I crossed the finish line with great relief.


While the chute wasn't highly comfortable, it wasn't nearly as bad as my other four marathons. I could have made it through without stopping to sit, but I figure it was a tradition by now so I took a short break. I think I was mostly paying for that final sprint in, otherwise the chute would have been fairly easy. Anyways, After shuffling through there and taking that couple minute break, I went out to find bag check and meet up with Katie and Jerry.

I was able to get my gear and get it on me before I got cold. I wasn't actually cold the entire morning which was surprising given the temperatures in the 30s! I met up with Katie and Jerry who froze a little waiting for me (sorry guys!). We pretty quickly headed back to the People Mover to get back to the car. My legs definitely felt the best they have after a marathon. Not to say they felt good, but the slower pace overall definitely did a little less damage to them even though they were sore and depleted from the Portland Marathon.

Overall I wasn't too bummed about the race at all. In fact, I think it might have been my favorite marathon experience after my first. I wasn't focused on any goals, I was going to try to run a pace similar to Portland but knew something like this could very well happen. When it did, I was mentally prepared for it and just kind of rolled with it. I loved the race itself, the course was awesome, the support was good... I had a good time. It was frustrating to keep having to stop and stretch, but overall I tried to just look past that and soak up the experience. I had a really fun time! The 4:21 didn't feel any longer than my 3:33 marathons.

I'll probably have another post about the race but I'll wrap this one up since it's already a novel. Looking back, I'm proud of my effort. I ran two marathons in 14 days and never gave up in Detroit despite my body kind of crapping out on me. I stayed positive mentally and enjoyed the race more than my other marathons. I don't think I'll be doing two marathons so close together again but it was fun to see what would happen... now I know!

Official Chip Time: 4:21:00, 9:57/mile. 1554/3801 overall, 1073/2149 male, 150/269 M25-29.

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