When I woke up the morning of Sunday October 18, 2015 everything in my mind and body told me to stay in bed. It was 4:15am, I laid there and debated whether to go back to sleep or get up and get ready. It was nice and warm in bed, I could just “oversleep” since I haven’t been sleeping well. It seemed like it would be a good idea, but I forced myself to get up and begin to get ready.
My mom drove me downtown and was going to try to show up at random spots along the course to cheer me on. She was at my first half marathon and now she was going to be at my first marathon. I am very close with my mom, having her there made me happy. We arrive downtown and find a parking garage, then begin our walk to the starting area. I had so many feelings, nervousness was the predominant feeling. Could I do this? Well I decided that I would quit if I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone except myself at this point.
I line up by corral J, which is what corral I had been placed in. I try calling the true athlete, who was at drill for the weekend. Voicemail. Try again. Voicemail. I text him telling him I had tried calling but it went right to voicemail. Then he calls me. The only thing I cared about was hearing his voice and him telling me good luck before I embarked on this 26.2 mile journey around Detroit and Canada. He told me good luck, to not push myself to where I got hurt, and that he knew I could do this. I cried. He was supposed to be there with me. He was supposed to be telling me this face to face, then sitting with my mom while I ran. It made me so sad he wasn’t there.
They called away to start the Canada National Anthem to be followed by our National Anthem. I take off my hat and stand with my hand over my heart. Being a Veteran, it really irritates me to see people walking around and talking during the National Anthem. This was the first race in a long time that I saw so many people being downright disrespectful. I made a comment to someone afterwards and they just ignored me. Such a shame.
I join the rest of the runners in corral J and say a quick prayer before the race starts. Then I look around and see a couple other runners with green bibs like mine. The green bib means it is your first marathon, those with more marathons under their belt had a blue bib. I walk over and tell a fellow newbie good luck out there. While waiting for the other corrals in front of us to begin we all look up and what do we see? Snow. All I could do is shake my head, Michigan never ceases to amaze me anymore. It was a chilly 30 degree start, around 26 degrees with the windchill. I hadn’t ran in weather like this since the winter lol. The day before I ran a 5k at Chene Park in Detroit so I had an idea about the weather. I bought gloves and a pair of cheap sweatpants that I could discard during the race if I needed to.
Finally our turn to start. We begin at a nice pace, just trotting along taking in the sites of Detroit around us. Then, the girl that was running next to me falls. I run and pick her up, asking her if she is alright. She shakes it off and continues along. I felt bad for her, tripping early in the race, hopefully it didn’t cause her any problems later on in the race. Everyone was talking and laughing while we began our journey towards the Ambassador Bridge.
The cool things about this race are this: you run across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, then you run around Canada for a bit before running a mile underwater in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to get back into Michigan. You then run around Detroit before running across another bridge onto Belle Isle, run around part of the island then take the bridge back before beginning your journey to the finish line.
Running across the Ambassador Bridge was fun. You could see pretty far, would have been beautiful had the sun been out but it was a cloudy morning. We get to Canada and are welcomed by border patrol and a man with a microphone. He was a pretty funny guy, that announcer. He told us that strippers were included in our race fee, but they were afraid of shrinkage. I have always said, anything goes in Canada. As we round the corner from the bridge I decide its a good time to lose the sweatpants. I mean, I wanted to be able to say I lost my pants in Canada. On the Canada side of the race, the views of Detroit were great. I love Detroit skyline. The crowds cheering were a lot of fun. It seemed like Canada went fast because in no time we were coming up on border patrol again.
The tunnel was my favorite part of the race. It was warmer than it was outside. I could make loud sounds to hear the echo. Then we came up on the dividing line. Of course I took a picture pointing at both flags on the line. The we come out from underwater to be greeted by some of the most energetic border patrol ever. They were high giving us and telling us we got this. Round the corner to the street and were greeted by a crowd of people cheering us on. It was a cool feeling. All these people were braving the cold weather to cheer us on. Then we cross the timing mat and the announcer said my name and city over the speaker! I felt like I was famous. Crowds cheering and my name being called out. Really kept my head in the game. We ran along the freeway, which was a little boring but I was still feeling good from the tunnel so kept chugging along. I was looking for my mom along the way, I hadn’t seen her since the start but figure she went to nap in her car.
The amount of support along the course was great. There was a water stop every couple miles, restrooms were plentiful, people cheering in all the right places. We came up on a huge cheer station where Team RWB had their tent. They were handing out bacon and bourbon. Well we all know this wouldn’t work for me so I kept chugging along while people got their treats. We finally made our way to the halfway point. I was feeling good. Decide to call the true athlete to tell him I am at the halfway point and I am going all the way. Then I saw my mom! She was there cheering me on, I run over to her hug her and tell her Im doing good and going for it. She tells me I got this and I continue on my way.
It had been awhile since I felt good after a half marathon. I crossed the halfway point at 2:48, which was 12 minutes faster than my last half marathon. All things considering I was proud of myself. The next stretch was rough. It was a long lonely road. Not many people cheering, just the people at the water stops. We lost a large number of people, the international half marathoners finished. The US only half marathon had yet to begin, they were lined up waiting. We kept chugging along the lonely stretch of road, turning into a neighborhood. There was polish music, more alcohol, a huge “wall” we could run through, people cheering, kids laughing. It was a nice change of pace. Even the cops blocking the roads were happy and cheerful. Take a couple turns and then we are headed towards the bridge to Belle Isle. At this point I was tired. My body was sore. I had yet to hit the wall. I had all kinds of snacks and candy from people. Belle Isle itself was well supported. Nice cheering crowds and water stops. The wind on the island though was rough. Cross the bridge back and continue along. Then I hit the wall. I had been warned about what could happen. I was walking. I physically could not get my body to run again. It wouldn’t go. I felt helpless, but all I could do is laugh about not being able to run. We walked a bit more then I tried again. My knee had been hurting before. Then it started switching from knee to knee, I knew it was in my head, wanting me to quit. Telling me I couldn’t do it. But I had made it this far, I knew I would finish.
By the time we were heading towards the finish, other runners were leaving and telling us we only had a little bit further. Then I look up and see my mom again! Telling me to run, I tell her I can’t run anymore. She says she will run the last mile with me so I hobble to start my slow run. Then she stopped and fell behind on the phone. I just needed to keep going to finish this race. I could see the finish. Hearing the crowd. I cross the finish line with tears in my eyes. Crying. He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to rush to me and put my medal on me. Kiss me. Tell me he is so proud of me. I come up on the people handing out medals and I look at the girl, while I am still crying, and she says “I want to put the medal on the newbie.” Still crying I choke out a thank you and she hugged me. I get my heat blanket and I really feel like I did something. I did this. I ran a marathon. I get my picture taken, my snacks, then I wanted to hear his voice. That was all I cared about. He answers and says well??? I say I just finished. I am an international marathoner! He says congrats babe I am proud of you. Im crying. He is happy. I wish he was there. Despite everything. All I wanted, all I needed was him there with me.
Before we could leave I had to find my mom again and exchange my race shirts. I always seem to have issues with getting the right size. Every tech shirt seems to be different. These ones were small. Luckily I was able to get it exchanged after the race at the New Balance tent. I wanted the next size up, which they didn’t have so my shirt is a little big. I would rather it be a little big than too small. Heck, I just ran 26.2 miles, I was going to flaunt this shirt.
I was an international marathoner. I was part of the 1% of the population that has completed a marathon. I did it. Despite all that life had thrown at me in the last week. I did it.