covid-19, Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon, Running

Marathon Megan

Today was supposed to be the 43rd running of the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. It’s 6:43am. If it weren’t for COVID, I would be in downtown Detroit right now. Specifically I would be on Fort Street, huddled amongst tens of thousands of other runners waiting for the start of the race.

The Detroit Marathon course map from 2016.

My alarm would have gone off at some ridiculously early hour. I would have set out my “Flat Megan” the night before: the clothing I would be running in, including all accessories, gels, and my bib laid out on the floor as if I could just jump right into them and be ready. I would have snapped a picture (do it for the ‘gram!) and then folded the clothing back up and set them on a chair or table in order of what to put on first to last. Depending on where I was staying, and how early I needed to get up to get going, I would either be starting to eat my breakfast or I would be getting dressed and headed out the door with breakfast in hand. My favorite pre-marathon breakfast is Frosted Flakes cereal with milk and 1-2 hard boiled eggs. That’s exactly what I ate 4 years ago in my friend Staci’s hotel room before we walked to the start line of our first marathon from the Renaissance Center.

My “Flat Megan” for this mini marathon today.

Today I won’t be having my Frosted Flakes, because I ate the last of the box we had for breakfast yesterday. Instead I’ll have my second favorite kid’s cereal, Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries. Since I’m going to do just 1/10th of a marathon today, the cereal with milk will be just fine to sustain me for breakfast.

I’m not disappointed that these aren’t Frosted Flakes but I am disappointed that I’m not eating them in Detroit today.

After I decided that I was not going to do a virtual marathon this year (or actually my crazier idea of 31.3 miles) I was feeling both relief and regret. I love the Detroit Marathon, and I really wanted to be a part of the virtual experience in 2020, but so much had happened to me in such a short period of time that I did not feel like training for that big of a challenge was a good idea. Cost was also a factor, and by the time I was considering a different option for the race, many of the less expensive options had sold out. Eventually I asked a few friends if they might be interested in the virtual marathon relay option, including my friend Staci who I had run my first marathon with in Detroit in 2016. My friends, especially Staci, were totally on board with the idea but we needed a team of 5 and we only had 4. We found a 5th by the next day… and unfortunately by then the relay was sold out.

The ladies I had asked to do the relay with me were still interested in finding something, so after some searching we found the Toronto Waterfront Marathon that offered a virtual relay option for a team of 4. We signed up our team – Saginawesome Wonder Women – and agreed to try to run our legs of the relay the same weekend as Detroit.

So that’s why I ate the Frosted Flakes yesterday was the day I decided to do my leg for the marathon relay. It was 7 miles. When I started up my run, I FaceTimed with Staci. We had been chatting the days before, reminiscing about our marathon together, and missing the excitement of marathon week. It was fun to chat with her and see her running route, some miles that we ran many times together when we trained for our first marathon 4 years ago. We ended our FaceTime chat when I reached 3 miles and was back at my house. After a quick wardrobe change, I was off to finish my 7 miles.

Back to today. It’s 6:54am now. I am not standing on Fort Street, but sitting in my dining room with my laptop on the table, typing this post and thinking about what today is actually going to bring. I’m a little sore today. Not long after I finished my conversation with Staci, I fell at about the halfway point of my run! It must have been a sight to see, since my running outfit featured bright pink breast cancer awareness ribbons complete with a tutu. My hands stung a little bit but otherwise the only thing that was really hurting after the fall was my ego. I knew that today might tell a different story, and I was right. I am still going to go for a run today, though. I’m going to do my own mini version of a marathon.

6:58am now. On Fort Street the music would be blaring and the sound of the crowd would be almost deafening. Through the darkness you would be able to see the lights on the officially Start line up the road from where I would be standing in the back of the pack. Instead, all I hear is the whirring of my computer that sounds like it might be on its last legs; I told my husband yesterday our Christmas gift to ourselves should probably be a new laptop. My dining room is illuminated with lamplight and the only other living being here is my cat, who is off somewhere else, not at all interested in this reminiscing that I am doing.

The clock in my dining room chimes at 7:00am – it is start time! The gun has gone off and the first corral of runners – the elites, the speedsters – are off and running. Adrenaline is pumping as I listen to the announcers calling off each corral, knowing that it will be a while before they get to me. I would have probably ended up in corral L or M this year, the back of the pack, one of the last two corrals for marathon runners. Each corral is sent off in 2 minute intervals, so it would be closer to 7:30am before I took off. Somehow that time goes by so much faster than you would think it would. You feel like you are so far away from the start line and then suddenly… you are the next corral to take off. The announcer is pumping you up, everyone around you cheering in response. You’re right in front of that brightly lit Start banner. You’re about to take that first step of thousands of steps required to complete a 26.2 mile journey.

Today I started my little mini marathon at 8:16am because it is one of my favorite times in the day. It is a dreary, dark day here in Michigan, but I still wore my Goodr sunglasses because that was the plan if I were running Detroit today. Sometime this summer I purchased two pair of Goodrs – one that was themed like the Canadian flag and one that was themed like the American flag. My idea was to have both with me on marathon day. I would wear the U.S.A. Goodrs for most of the race, switching to the Canadian ones for the 4 miles spent in Windsor.

Since my run today was 1/10th of a marathon, I paused at significant checkpoints that correlated to the actual Detroit Marathon. At 0.4 miles I put on my “Sorry Not Sorry But Actually Sorry” Goodrs (the Canadian flag ones) to represent running along Riverside Drive in Canada. I pulled up the song “Tom Sawyer” by Rush on my phone and ran along until I got to 0.8 miles where I switched back to wearing my “Suck It King George” Goodrs (the American flag ones) since I would be back in the U.S.A. At the halfway point, the song “Shut Up And Dance” came on which reminded me Staci, the friend I mentioned earlier that had run my first marathon with me in 2016. Around mile 1.7 I stopped for a picture of my neighbor’s skeleton. It reminded me of the Halloween decorations that you see in Indian Village, which makes up miles 17 and 18 of the marathon. There was no wall for me to run through, though, like I normally would in Indian Village. The second mile represented starting on Belle Isle, mile 20 of the marathon, and I put on the song “Till I Collapse” by Eminem. Appropriate given that by mile 20 in Detroit you are ready to collapse! Right about this time it started to rain, which was very fitting, since 2 out of the 4 times I have run Detroit it was raining when I was running on Belle Isle. I ended my mini marathon listening to “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, the song that was playing as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in 2016 and my fourth in 2018.

Fast forward to 10:52am. I finished my mini marathon, got some Tim Horton’s to enjoy and I am getting ready to log on for the Virtual Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo. The silver linings of this whole COVID thing and not being able to do the Detroit Marathon is that it has allowed me to attend FNCE for the first time. It is a costly event (although a worthy investment for how much continuing education you get and networking you can do with dietitian from all over the country) and usually requires travel. This year I get to do it from my dining room in my cozy Detroit Marathon sweatshirt and fuzzy socks, and the cost was very affordable.

It is now 1:36pm. I just wrapped up the first 2 sessions of my virtual conference and have two left for the day. If I were running Detroit, I would have crossed the finish line by now. At the beginning of 2020 my goal was to finish a marathon in under 5 hours, but by May I had decided that wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to run another marathon. That’s still my goal, and while I won’t completely let go of my sub 5 hour marathon dream, just getting a PR would be great. Ultimately the best thing will be when I can run with the marathon community again along the streets of Detroit, see all the sights that were only in my head today, and finish the race a stronger and better person.

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