I am hoping that by now you are feeling close to the same feeling felt by many as they stand in their corrals on race day. Waiting for their corral to be called and the announcer to hype them up to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles starting in 3… 2… 1…
Except this year, when they called corral L, did the countdown thing, and we moved up slowly like a herd of cattle… I was stopped RIGHT before the start line. Why? Because it had been so crowded and crazy that the group of people around me and myself ended up in corral M instead of corral L. Not a big deal for me, really. I mean my name is Megan, so corral M is fitting. But I wasn’t so sure how I felt about being right at the front. It was a different experience, much like riding a roller coaster in the front seat for the first time when you’ve always ridden in the middle or the back. So I got to go through the hype for a second time when they called corral M, asked if we were ready, and counted us down to the start. Finally, we were off!
After passing the cameras (pictures were free this year so I made every effort that I could to get great pictures of myself!) I popped my earbuds in my ear and turned on my music. The sun was peaking out as we were running down Fort Street, making our way towards the Ambassador Bridge. This straight away early on is a good way to push yourself too fast, and I was trying to be mindful and not do that. Since I was shooting for my B goal, thinking my A goal was out of reach, I wanted to start the race with a pace between 13:00-13:20. So when I reached mile 1 at a pace of 12:44, I had to tell myself to slow it down. I told myself “There’s no way you can maintain THIS pace for 26.2 miles. This is only mile 1. Take it easy, you can push it later if you take it easy now.”
Crossing the Ambassador Bridge alone was a completely different experience. In years past, I was with friends and we could commiserate about how steep the incline was, how it felt like this dang hill would never end, etc. I heard others around me making those comments, but I just kept pushing. I reminded myself that I only had to run 3 minutes at a time and that I would be just fine. That soon I would be over the bridge and in Canada, my favorite part of the race. I hit mile 4 at the end of the bridge and my stomach was growling – I was ready for my Gu. But since I didn’t carry fluids with me (and I am glad that I didn’t because I saw people getting stopped for carrying theirs) I had to wait until I got to the fluid station. This was a common theme throughout the race for me… wanting to take my Gu but waiting for a fluid station. The signs, support and views in Canada once again did not disappoint. I took all of the high fives that I could get, thanked the supporters, and got a few compliments on the shirt I was wearing (on the back it said “At the end of the day the relentless always win.” – a lyric from a 311 song). My pace from my 4-7 ranged from 12:48-13:04. I was running consistent, but couldn’t help being a little apprehensive that this pace would hurt me in the end.
As I descended into the tunnel, I was hit with a wall of warm air and immediately starting peeling off my gloves, my ear warmer, unzipped my top and rolled up my sleeves. I didn’t want to get too hot because I knew when I popped out of the tunnel it would be cold again, but unfortunately I still got pretty heated up and started sweating. The tunnel is always a little freaky for me but this year was better than previous years. Even though seeing half of the ceiling missing for most of it was pretty weird.
When I got out of the tunnel I put my gloves back on, zipped my top up again, and rolled my sleeves back down. I knew that my friend Christine was waiting for me just outside of the tunnel. As I was looking for her I noticed a fluid station coming so I veered to the other side of the road, only to realize there were stations on both sides. I made my way back to the side of the road she was on and saw her. She told me I was doing awesome and to keep it up! I tossed her my ear warmer thinking I probably wouldn’t need it for the rest of the race.
We made our way down the lodge under cobo and past Joe Louis Arena and into Corktown where the smallest hills feel like mountains after the bridge and the tunnel. Of course the tunnel messes with the GPS on our watches, so mile 8 was an 11:54 pace and mile 9 was a 13:51 pace. We started to head back into downtown and everyone was cheering, saying “Only one more mile to go!” A girl in front of me turned around and said, “I really wish they would stop saying that!” I saw that she was wearing a green bib – meaning she was a first time marathoner. I told her I agreed, and I shouted “Yeah some of us have like 14.2 more miles to go!”
As I approached the full/half split, I was looking for Christine again. I was texting her and Ken the whole time, updating them on where I was at so that they could see me along the course and have an idea of when I would finish. I asked her to take my ID from me because it kept slipping out of my flipbelt, and after dropping my Gu I was really afraid of losing my ID, too. Once again she told me I was doing great and cheered me on. I knew that was the last time I would see her before the finish, and I felt overwhelmed thinking that I still had another half marathon to go.
Come back tomorrow, and I will wrap this recap up with the last half of the marathon and the after. Thanks for reading!