I woke up before my alarm on marathon morning. It was 3:53am and I decided I might as well get out of bed and start getting ready. I quietly grabbed the pile of clothes and gear I had set out the night before and got dressed. I brushed my teeth, put my hair in a pony tail and slipped on my “Crazy Hat”. I threw my body glide, flip belt, water bottle, and breakfast into a bag and went to leave. My parents and Ken all woke up and said goodbye and good luck. I walked out to get into my car… and realized I didn’t have my keys. Oops!
So that got my mom up and out of bed, to unlock her car and get the keys out of there that I had apparently left behind. I said goodbye again and got into my car, ready to head to Detroit. I drove around to leave the hotel, and thought, “My mom is awake. I really don’t want to go by myself. I’m going back.” and drove back around to where my mom was. I asked if she would come with me and she said “Sure, do I have time to get dressed?” So she hurried back up to the hotel room, apparently warned the boys that she was going to turn the light on as she flipped it on, and rushed to get dressed and back down to me. We hopped on the freeway and were glad to see that not a lot had been shut down yet, and made it downtown. We ended up parking at Greektown casino and walking to the Ren Cen to meet my friend Staci.
After some confusion and walking in circles, we finally found Staci and headed up to her hotel room. I finished eating my Frosted Flakes that I had started to eat on my way from Greektown. We sat and ate and chatted for a little while before we headed down to the race. As we turned onto Fort Street at about 6:30am, the street was already getting packed with runners and spectators. Staci and I decided to make a mad dash to the restrooms and thankfully one of the buildings was open to spare us at least one porta-potty trip! We hurried back to the street to see that it was even more packed than before and worked our way to our corral. The sound system was acting up, which was really getting to us because we wanted to rock out to some tunes before we took off, and the starting and stopping of the music definitely was wearing on people’s nerves! As each corral took off and we inched closer, I was growing more excited and more nervous. We realized that we had done the hardest part – showing up to the start line, and the next thing we knew they had called our corral and we were off!
It was still dark as we started the race, but the sun was quickly rising. I was glad that I had decided to wear my tank top instead of a short sleeve shirt, because it was unseasonably warm and humid. We witnessed a gorgeous sunrise as we crossed the Ambassador Bridge. When we got into Canada, the Canadian Border Patrol welcomed us in total Canadian style. We saw some hilarious signs – our personal favorite was a woman in Windsor holding a sign that said “For a minute there I thought it was November 9th!” There were a few others that were quite funny, such as “If Trump can run, so can you!” And I couldn’t stop laughing when we saw a “Tap here to Power Up” sign that a kid had made, so we both tapped it, but apparently it really helped Staci because she ended up taking it with her! We stopped for a quick selfie with the Ren Cen in the background across the river. We both felt really good… and then we got to the tunnel.
So remember how I said it was unseasonably warm and humid? Imagine now entering into a tunnel that goes underneath the riverbed, with a TON of people, no moving air, and – oh yeah – it’s an incline to get out. I tried not to think about all of this too much, until we were close to the end and could see the way out. That’s when I realized how claustrophobic I was and that I could not wait to get out. That was also when Staci started to feel ill. We trudged our way out of the tunnel, saw the “Welcome back to the U.S.A.!” sign and we high-fived the border patrol officers. I shouted to them, “You guys are way more fun than the officers were on the bridge!” And one of them shouted back, “Hey! Not cool! I was over there!” Oops. I guess they learned how to be more supportive. ;)
The journey next took us to Mexican Town and this is where Staci started to really struggle. We didn’t know it at the time, but she had a little case of food poisoning that was turning her stomach upside down! She half joking half serious mentioned she might stop at the half and I gave her a stern talking to. No way was she not finishing this race! We slowed down and changed our intervals – instead of running 2 minutes and walking 1 minute we started to run 1 minute and walk 2 minutes. After a while Staci started to feel better. We hit the half and a woman said “Great job, you’re halfway there! Expect rain around mile 15!” Somewhere around this time we decided to switch to 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking… and just as that woman had told us, it started to ran at mile 15. At first, the rain was welcome. And then it became annoying. Around mile 16 we joined up with 2 other women that were struggling and they asked if they could run with us. We said sure no problem! So they ran with us for a couple of miles, but Staci and I kinda caught a second wind. Her stomach was feeling better and I was still feeling good. We celebrated when we reached mile 17 because we now only had single digit miles left to go! We cheered “9 more to go, 9 more to go!” and kept pounding on in the rain.
It wasn’t long after that when we started wondering, “Where the heck is Belle Isle?” We were ready to finish. We headed out onto the busy streets and heard some police officers complaining about being in the rain. We shouted to them, “We don’t wanna hear it!” And the replied “You volunteered for this!” Oh man – not something you say to first time marathoners slugging it out to finish! Finally we reached Belle Isle and thought – we only have a 10k to go, we got this! Longest effing 10k of my life though. I tried to stay positive but I just wanted to get off that dang island to know that I had a 5k to go. It finally stopped raining somewhere on Belle Isle and we were grateful. The rain had been so welcome at first because it cooled us off, but once we got to Belle Isle it was raining hard and it was windy, yuck! This is the point when I really started to struggle to put one foot in front of the other.
We reached the end of Belle Isle and headed on to the River Walk. It was beautiful scenery, but at this point I just wanted to be done. Everything hurt and I was so tired. I never “hit the wall” during the race, but I definitely reached a point where I was like, “Why did I sign up for this mess?” I texted my husband once it was dry to let him know where we were at. He kept sending encouraging texts back to me, and sent me a picture of everyone waiting for us at the finish line. I saw that my sister was there and I started to cry again. Right around that same time, two people ran onto the river walk and started running with us. It took me a minute to figure out who they were… and then I realized it was Matt and Paula! I cried again and was so overjoyed that they had surprised us! They found us about 2-ish miles from the finish, and it was exactly what we needed to push through. My pain went from a 10/10 to a 6/10 and Staci could tell because I sped way up! Matt and Paula ran with us almost to the finish, then before we reached the turn to head towards the finish line they hurried ahead of us so they could get pictures and video of us crossing the finish line. We found Staci’s kids and I was bawling. They cheered her on, telling her “You can do this mom! You got this! You’re almost there, just around this corner and you’re there!” This time we really believed it!
We turned the corner and kept to our intervals. Staci was getting terrible Charlie horses in her calf, something she had never experienced during running before! That poor girl went through hell and high water, quite literally, during this race. We were walking as we approached the finish line. I could see my family up ahead. We agreed we were going to start running at the cross walk. Just as we got there, we heard our names announced, and we started running! I threw my hands in the air and started crying – you can see it in the pictures and video, oh man. Just before we crossed we grabbed each other’s hands and ran in together, screaming… with joy, pain, frustration, happiness, EVERYTHING. Every single emotion you can think of we felt it during that race. And we did it! We crossed that start line, and we crossed that finish line. We are MARATHONERS.
At the finish line, I sobbed, hugging each and every one of my family members and friends. My nephew gave me a donut and cider from Franklin cider mill, which was much appreciated, more than any other post-race food I’ve ever had! I hugged Staci a million times, thanking her for sticking with me through the whole darn thing. We took off our separate ways with our families. I was especially grateful that my sister and brother-in-law had found a close parking spot so I didn’t have to hobble all the way back to Greektown!
When I got out of the car at the hotel, I had no clue just how much pain I was in until my feet hit the ground. My feet hurt so bad it was almost impossible to walk. I Frankenstein-walked my way up to the hotel room (next time request a 1st floor room or get a hotel with an elevator!) and my amazing husband helped me get to the shower. That shower felt so incredibly good and I was impressed with how well the Body Glide had prevented any chafing! One I felt semi human again, we headed out to BFD Clubhouse to meet Matt and Paula again for “linner”. Man – best burger and beer of my life, once again. At the restaurant I hashed out the run again to everyone and we celebrated this amazing day. I am so proud of what we did that day, and I am so blessed to have such supportive friends and family. Not just the people who were there physically but all of the people who supported me virtually during the race. I heard shout outs and cheers from my best friends while I was running, telling me to keep going. Our running groups were following us along our journey and posting updates as we went. I was just overwhelmed with the support we received and my heart was overflowing with love and joy for my friends and the running community. This was an experience like no other.
“The person who starts the marathon is not the same person who finishes.” Thank you SO much to everyone who was a part of this journey for me over the last 8 years. I am not the same person that I was at that start line. And for that, I am grateful.