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Marathon #3 – Detroit

My third marathon is now in the books. This past Sunday, I ran the Detroit Marathon. Overall it was a pretty fun race that took us into Canada for a few miles along with numerous little neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

On the drive up to Detroit on Saturday afternoon, things were not looking so great as 50+ mph winds were blowing the Vibe all over the highway, along with occasional downpours. But we made it there in the afternoon and met up with my friend Ryan who was running the half-marathon and was kind enough to put us up for the night. We went to the less-than-impressive marathon expo to pickup our required gear and then headed off to a big pasta dinner with some other friends before going to bed nice and early.

Race day started with a 6am wakeup to eat a bagel and an energy bar before driving downtown. The starting area was a sea of port-o-potties (well over 100) and long lines, though I managed to find one with almost no line. I then spent 5 minutes squeezing into the overcrowded starting coral for my pace about 10 minutes before the race started. Temperatures were only in the upper 30s so I decided to go with the leg tights under my shorts, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a knit hat. I also took along my iPod, which allowed me to track my run (see here).

The race started off well, as most of my runs do, with a first mile time of around 7:22. The first real challenge (course map) was during mile 4 when we crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada. The bridge is super long and the first half was a pretty steep incline. The coolest part of the run was the run back to the States via the Detroit-Windsor underwater tunnel. My “underwater mile” time was 7:46, very good for mile 8. I then made it to the halfway point at 1:47:01, for an average pace of just under 8:10 a mile.

After that, things were pretty much downhill (in a figurative sense). The wind started picking up, and was really bad during the 3-mile run out to and around Belle Isle. During mile 18, I started getting cramps in my left calf muscle and had to stop to stretch a few times. The last few miles, which are always the worst part, was made even worse this time because of the wind. When we made the turn onto Lafayette Avenue for the last 3 miles, we started running into a headwind that was brutal. I ran my slowest mile in mile 24 with a time of 9:22, which is probably because of having to stop to stretch both calves which were now both cramping.

When we made the turn to head for Ford Field, I managed to pick things up, which was helped by a large crowd of fans that had been absent for most of the last 10 miles. We entered Ford Field through a big entryway that led into a downhill tunnel that led down to the playing field. I managed to sprint the last minute or so and finish strong, and finish in under 3 hours and 50 minutes, with an official time of 3:49:18, which is just under 3 minutes better than my personal best that I set back in Cincinnati in May. I had hoped to do a few minutes better, but given the conditions I should be happy that I did as good as I did.

After crossing the finish line, I crashed on the field for a bit. It was cool to be out on the football field with a bunch of fans in the stands, but I was too tired and dazed to really enjoy it. I felt pretty lightheaded, which I credit to dehydration and had to stop and sit down a number of times before grabbing some food and heading outside to my waiting friends.

Overall it was fun and I’m glad I ran it. I wish the weather had been a little better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected much better this late in the year. Next fall I’ll try to run something earlier, if I do run one. I haven’t decided what is next for my running career, but I don’t plan to hang up my shoes quite yet. After all, I just bought a new pair on Monday.

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