Running and racing doesn’t get much better than this. Cool, clear morning. Thousands of runners and fans. And I beat my goal and felt great at the end.
The Detroit Marathon was Sunday, Oct 19. As the sportscasters say, it was “a Chamber of Commerce day”. The streets of Detroit looked great. Colorful, bright and buzzing with activity.
After talking with one of the pace leaders at the Expo Saturday, I decided to start with the 4:05 pace group. That time seemed challenging but reachable. Part of me definitely wanted to try to break four hours but I also didn’t want to risk going out too fast and then crash and burn at the end and have to walk across the finish. So, a 9:20 pace sounded comfortable. And it worked. There were about a dozen of us sticking by Donya, our pace leader, at mile 3 as we headed up the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor. By the time we were nearing the tunnel to cross back at mile 8 Donya said we were actually running a few minutes ahead of pace. While that was working for me she cautioned us to stick to our game plan.
As we came off Belle Isle at mile 20 I felt great. I really couldn’t believe how strong I was feeling. Unlike lonely training runs, the race experience can carry and motivate you. The great sites (yes, we saw many interesting parts of Detroit that I’ll talk about in future posts), the casual conversations with fellow runners, the many fans lining almost the entire route and the live music every mile were all distractions that made the morning fly by.
Before I knew it we were on Lafayette approaching downtown. I had driven the final six miles the day before so I knew the route. I was running with Mark from Plymouth now as he and I had pulled slightly ahead of the pace group. I told Mark we just had to turn onto Randolph, go a couple blocks to John R then left to Woodward and we’d be staring at the finish line. As we hit Randolph the crowds seemed three or four people deep and they were all cheering. Total strangers cheering as runner after runner fed off their energy for that final quarter-mile.
Once we made the sharp turn onto southbound Woodward I saw the finish line and clock. I instinctively picked up the pace to the end and crossed under the banner feeling strong, tired, relieved and proud. I stopped my watch at 4:03:07, heard someone yell my name and looked up to see my family waving from the sidewalk.
What a great day for the race!