my detroit 26.2 recap… I cried triumphant tears.

Settle in… Are you ready for this?  I crossed the finish line.  I completed my 4th marathon.

Detroit marathon

Let’s get down to business.  I took Friday off from work to mentally prep for the weekend ahead and to rest my legs.  Saturday morning I woke up with a wicked headache.  I mean, the start of a migraine and it freaked me out since I had a drive ahead of me.  Then I also started to get really nauseated.  I’m certain it was all stress related so I tried to nip the headache away along with the tummy troubles and I managed to only be behind by about an hour or so.  The drive to Detroit was also weighing on my mind as drivers there and along the way take no mercy.  The speed limit is 70, I drive 75, maybe 78 and I get passed like I’m going 50.  Scary.

I arrived safely and found the expo easily enough (thank you GPS!).  Parking was a whopping $10 in the garage but finding parking on the street would be silly.  My trepidation grew as I climbed the stairs to the expo and then it greeted me with open arms!  Bib pick up was first and I immediately considered mine a good omen.  It was blue, my favorite color and my age was part of my bib number.  I then purchased the following sweatshirt:

the magic sweatshirt
the magic sweatshirt

This is important as it plays a role in my finishing this race.

The expo was larger and it dawned on me how big this race was.  Also, I realized this was my first non-specialty race – I’ve only done the Nike Women’s marathon, the Disney full and then the Dopey.  I don’t know why, but this felt different.  A bunch of places were selling these throw away gloves because it was going to be 35* at the start.  I caved.

runner girl detroit gloves

My right knee has been hurting me since June (well, off and on for some time before this actually) when I ran the duo 5k/10k on the slanted sidewalk.  There was a sports PT person there and I had him tape up my knee – my pesky patella. It felt better (driving over had aggravated it) and stabilized.

pretty tape always saves the day
pretty tape always saves the day

My hotel room sucked.  I learned the shower head didn’t work, so a bit of sponge bath was needed in the morning.  It wasn’t all the way clean and there was shenanigans the whole night through from other guests.  It was only a mile away from the race start though so I pushed those concerns aside.  Since I gave up gluten I can’t figure out a good pre-race meal and I chose this:

umm... yes, this is a cheese covered omelette...
umm… yes, this is a cheese covered omelette…

Bad idea.  Why didn’t I just put a lead ball in my gut and call it good?!

Race morning.  I woke up on time, got dressed in my splendid new compression tights, thanked my good sense to purchase the gloves and finally got out the door.  I packed up my car and started along.  I was slightly nervous about walking through downtown Detroit in the dark but I quickly found a fellow runner to walk with.  We got to wait inside the conference center until it was time to hit the starting line.  First of all, it started snowing a bit, which just made me laugh.  I looked around me and I didn’t see any other blue bibs – just the orange international 1/2 marathon ones.  Was I in the wrong line?!  I was in one of the last wave of runners so maybe this was part of it?  I still asked three different people and remained confused for a good chunk of the race. My anxiety was a bit high anyway since the cut-off was 6 and 1/2 hours and my lack of training gave me reason to believe I was in danger of not making this.

I tried to memorize these cut off times. I also sent my friend a
I tried to memorize these cut off times. I also sent my friend a “WTF am I doing text”.

Go time.  I started out at my manageable pace.  When we hit the bridge to Canada, the Ambassador Bridge, the sun was peaking through the clouds and I couldn’t believe I was really doing this!  The bridge is long and up hill for the first part.  I walked it.  Then ran down the other side – yay! I love downhills!  We ran through Canada for a few miles and then we crossed back onto U.S. soil through the underwater tunnel.  Everyone talks about how bad this part was but I didn’t mind it – I was warm (I was cold the entire race).  When we came out of the tunnel we ran through customs and then they had a sign welcoming us back to the U.S.  They were announcing some names as they crossed and I was one of them!  “Welcome back Amy German”!  It was neat.  It was a beautiful, albeit chilly fall day and the hilly course was great.  I love the international aspect!

By this time, my knee was seriously bothering me.  I think it started around mile 6 or 8 – I can’t remember now.  My strategy for the race was to run/walk it and this was working well for me.  I even had a couple of negative splits.  The marathoners split from the 1/2 folks as the 1/2-ers were crossing their finish line (slightly cruel to us who were only half way finished) and I considered crossing this finish line because my knee was hurting.  A smarter runner probably would’ve quit but I knew I would ALWAYS wonder if I could’ve made it to the end.  So I kept running.  The miles ticked on and my knee got worse.  I would run for as long as I could and then when it started to give out, I would walk for a bit.  The first steps back into running were beastly but they eased as I kept going and the cycle repeated itself.

An awesome member of the crowd built a pretend brick wall to run through around mile 18.  I loved it.  Another 1/2 marathon (the U.S. only route, the other 1/2 was international) started soon after I got through the 1/2 way point, so they would go screaming past me at certain points.  Umm – rude, haha.  They had 18 water stops as we weren’t supposed to carry liquids across the border.  I did a great job of hydrating the days before the race and during.  I fueled decently – my 1/2 of a ham sandwich in the morning was brilliant idea!

The last 5k I was basically throwing my bad leg/knee ahead of me as I ran and even walking painful.  Right at this moment, someone along side of the course said, “Amy!  You’re DOING IT!”.  I teared up at this point.  It’s really hard to run and cry so I pulled myself together.  When the finish line came into view, I started crying again and of course as I crossed.  My official time was 6:02.  My Nike app said I completed all 26.2 at 5:58, which I like better!

detroit marathon finish

My heart didn’t swell with pride after my first marathon.  It didn’t after my second either – that one kind of crushed my soul.  Dopey did because of the major undertaking.  The Detroit 26.2?  It gave me the same overwhelming sense of accomplishment as Dopey.  I really wasn’t sure I could finish.  Everyday for three weeks I considered dropping out of the race.  I shouldn’t have finished – my last long run was back in the beginning of Sept and it was 11 miles.  The fact that I could barely walk after didn’t matter.  This race made me feel strong and reminded me of my fierce fighting spirit.  Grit and determination (support/cheers from family and friends, compression tights, extra strength tylenol and that newly purchased sweatshirt I wanted to wear with pride) got me through this race.  So many freakin’ emotions were going through my mind, I’m not even sure I can adequately express them.  I made it.

I think the medal weighs almost a pound
I think the medal weighs almost a pound

And I didn’t get swept by the people zamboni – WIN!

marathon week has begun

*All cartoons are from Hyperbole and a Half.  I adore this blog.  And have cried from laughing so hard.

Yesterday.  Not the best of days…

I woke up late.  Actually, the first time I woke up, I was sittin’ pretty to run out to get my favorite coffee drink.  Then I hit snooze about 1/2 a dozen times & not only did coffee go out the window but so did being on time.

Not my favorite way to start marathon week.  Furthermore, I felt really crummy, my shower won’t drain, my anxiety was barking & I felt all kinds of out of sorts.  Really, I recognize these are all non-critical happenings and I wish I could throw up my hands with an “oh well” but my emotional investment is high *surprise*.

Part of the anxiety is marathon related.  Sunday is rapidly approaching & while I’m excited, I also have a real understanding of the pain I will be inflicting on my body.  That I PAID to inflict (hmm… unsightly visions of S&M popped in my head).  I’m also under no illusions that suddenly the running gods will bestow some great power to my legs.  Nope.  The strange runner in me is excited though.  I’m looking forward to the expo, the camaraderie of the other runners & other whole, “I’m never going to finish-I hate running-am I insane?” feeling that immediately evaporates with a medal around my neck.  So many emotions!

I will say, I had a dandy run on Saturday.  Considering the curious case of my non-compliant ankle, I’ve taken to running every other day to give it a bit of a rest.  I also went down & traded a pair of shoes in for a pair of Brooks PureFlow. Moment of digression: I bought a pair of PureFlows back when they first came out.  Loved them.  I bought them too small however, so they retired a bit early.  Fast forward through a gazillion different pairs of shoes later & I went back to them.  Saturday night PureFlows, the treadmill & I had a date & it went swimmingly.  6 miles.  I was certain I had only gone 4 then looked & magically I had already hit 5.  Then SIX!So this run helped.  I have a few more planned for this week-nothing over 5 miles.  I’m hesitant to refer to this as “tapering” since my overall training has sucked.  I’ll just call it my last ditch effort to avoid crumbling into a pile of mushy goo at mile 16.  I’m keeping my expectations low and working toward a more upbeat attitude (isn’t this obvious??).  This is a big marathon-I get to cross into Canada over an amazing bridge & run through a bunch of different parts of Detroit.  I feel a certain pride for (With? In?) Detroit despite being a relatively new Michigander.  It does have a number of issues BUT I’m pleased to be part of an event that celebrates the city rather than tearing it down.

Maybe there’s a bit of sunshine in me yet.

Ok, I have more on my mind but that’s it for now.  Lots of marathon talk this week-so please prepare yourself!  Oh, I did use my lunch hour to secure some delicious coffee.  I could sort of keep my eyes open for a few more hours.

this is how I felt all day

red pill or the blue pill?

These came in the mail today!

yay! new compression sleeves!
yay! new compression sleeves!

I took advantage of their 1/2 off sale and grabbed the two sets of calf sleeves I’ve been ogling for the last year and half.  Now I can sport my Irish roots AND rock some polka dots.  I LOVE me some polka dots.

For some reason, summer encourages me to spend money.  I don’t know why.  I realized this the other day when I not only purchased the above but also super cute red stripped new Sketchers.  I’m kind of obsessed with Sketchers (I think these are really cute too!) at the moment because I can wear them for work and they are comfortable and supportive.  The other day I wore heels for the first time in MONTHS.  While darling, I realized why I haven’t worn them in so long.  Supportive and comfy shoes certainly have their perks, even if they don’t uplift my buns in quite the same fashion!

Alas, now it’s time to put the kabash on the summer spending.  It was fun while it lasted…  This morning I woke up in a panic.  I couldn’t believe I missed a race.  It’s the Firecracker 5 miler (more on this later) and it’s such a fun race.  I was so disappointed in myself.

Then I realized, “hey!  It’s not the 4th of July yet!  That’s tomorrow!  You didn’t miss it!”  I also realized I had to be at work in less than an hour and the dimmer switch was hit on said excitement.  By the way – NO ONE is at work the day before the 4th of July.

Today is some serious prime running weather and I am determined to get my buns out there.  I’ve been so freakin’ lazy lately.  I don’t know why!  My procrastination is in high gear for no reason.  It hit me that yesterday was my last possible “lazy day”.  Otherwise, I am going to be in so much pain.  Remember when I spoke of the aggressive marathon training schedule a.k.a. run camp?  This might be part of why I’m procrastinating – I don’t feel like I can get any better and just want to put this training off so I don’t have to face failure.

Brilliant plan, no?

Ho-hum… I did join Jess’s summer challenge running plan so maybe this will offer a bit of inspiration, too?  This morning, I kept thinking, “I used to be SO motivated.  I used to just get out there or get up and JUST DO IT!  Where did all of that go?!”  I’m still not sure where it went but I’m guessing it’s largely habitual.  Maybe my earlier athletic self was all a facade… I took the blue pill and then somewhere along the line I decided the red pill was more me.

oh morphius, which one is the MOTIVATED pill?

In order not to end this on a really whiny note, here is a picture of my super fat and adorable cat, Simon

GIANT cat
GIANT cat

 

run camp – day 1

Yesterday was my first day of run camp.  I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to my first day.  Run camp officially started last weekend but since I was doing the Charlevoix 1/2,  yesterday was my day.

My alarm went off at 6 am and I hit snooze until 6:08 and then laid there until 6:11 am.  I have some strong support for this venture and I didn’t want to disappoint them.  Nevertheless, I absolutely seriously considered not going and here are my reasons:

1.  What if no one likes me?!  My social anxiety was in high gear.  I didn’t exactly know where to go from the parking garage, I was on my own and I simply felt out of place.  I know I’m a real runner, however, I was certainly intimidated.  I hate feeling lost.  I found my way though and people did talk to me!

2.  The requirement was you had to be able to run at least 4 miles.  In my mind, this meant we would start at 4 miles.  Uh… no… on the docket  were 7 miles and this was the low intensity schedule.  I could run the 4 without walking but after that it would be a crap shoot.  I was taken by surprise by this.  The training plan isn’t fooling around.  I talked to a few people after the run and some were saying they didn’t feel they could keep up with the aggressive requirements.  At least I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

3.  What if I was too slow?!  I was very worried about lagging behind.  My pace group is the 11:30-12 min and I figured this would be the best fit for me.  It would have been had my pace leaders not kicked us off with under 11 min miles!  I’m not exaggerating – mile 3 was 10:57.  While I was pleased I could hit this (especially in the stifling humidity) I knew this was going to haunt me on my way back.  And it did.  I had to walk a few times because I was beat.  Probably mostly in my head.  I told one of my pace leaders that I was just too slow and she said, “well, we are hustling a bit”.  I’m hoping we adjust a bit next week.

4.  Marathon training has officially started.  This might be one of the scariest reasons of all.

this was essentially how I felt when i finished

So, I will go back next weekend.  8 miles are up for grabs and I’m determined not to let it beat me.  The heat and humidity aren’t going to stop anytime soon so I need to dress accordingly and accept it.  There is also a track workout (insert some nervousness) on Tuesday and I’ll follow the weekly mileage requirements.

Right now, I don’t want to disappoint my “cheerleaders”.  In a couple of weeks I know this will shift to not wanting to disappoint myself.  Here I go!

gut check

This weekend offered up a gut check… well a few of them.  It was a good thing.

Gut check #1:  Thanks for the words of encouragement with regards to run camp!  Those were all words I needed to hear.  Other friends also weighed in and there wasn’t one person who said I should simply train on my own.  Fairly certain this is a positive sign.

Result:  I signed up.  I’m still nervous.

suck it up buttercup

Gut check #2:  I talked with Meagan about run camp and FINALLY admitted one of the main reasons I was holding back.  “What if I do all of this training and go all in and I STILL don’t achieve my goal?”  Meagan:  “I don’t think that will happen but if it does then you are a really good 5 hour marathoner”.

Result:  Oh yeah, good point.  So I signed up – yep, I need to keep reminding myself of this!

Gut check #3:  I ran a half on Saturday with Meagan.  It was very difficult for me.  I almost had a DNF on my record simply because I was so exhausted and not ready to run 13.1.  I’ll have the recap up soon.

yep

Result:  I need to STOP doing this to my body.  And my confidence.  I’m pretty certain I left part of my left patella on the course, not to mention the whole wanting to quit after 5 miles.  I am setting myself up for failure and some serious injury by pulling these shenanigans.  Enough is enough.

Gut check #4:  One more reason I didn’t want to do run camp… the whole social anxiety piece of it.  I don’t currently know anyone else doing it and this freaks me out a bit.

Result:  I’ve become a bit of a hermit and I need to put myself out there a bit more.  Yes, I will probably have some minor panic attacks without someone I know right there with me but we WILL all have running in common.  And I can meet people – they will probably like me, right?  So, in case you missed it the first two times, I signed up.

this hits a bit close to home

Gut checking – check.  20 days until my next and last 1/2 of the summer.  It won’t be breeze but I will have more training under my belt and a better attitude.  Not to mention I’ll be running in one of the most beautiful places around – not to shabby!

make my big decision

Here’s the scoop… many moons ago I did my first half marathon.  I was super nervous!  I joined a local run camp that met every Saturday morning during the winter.  I did it with my friend (we alternated driving) and then I met two incredible people/running partners that helped me power through.  I always knew I needed and wanted to meet up with them.

1:2 with my medal

I finished in 2:04, which I was and still am, damn proud of.  It currently stands as my PR and as you can see by the goofy grin on my face I was overflowing with excitement.  Then I kind of fell off the quality training track.  Part of me was a bit burned out and the other part was the lack of structure.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed sleeping in on Saturdays again (we got up and running around 8 am if memory serves) but I also knew it helped me cross the finish line strong.

can I do this?
can I do this?

So, there is another training camp starting on June 21st.  It’s 18 weeks long and can either be 1/2 marathon training or the full 26.2.  Since I have the Detroit marathon on the docket I would use this as my training.  It’s $120 for the entire duration and offers Saturday runs, a weekly run if you want to and track sessions.  Training camp will end the week after my race so it’s perfect timing really.

What’s the problem?  Saturday runs START at 7 am.  Not to mention, I haven’t been very good with sticking with a training plan since that first 1/2.  My discipline is kind of in the toilet and I’m very good at putting off what I could do today until tomorrow (or the next day).  I’m worried I will lay down the cash and then drift by the wayside.

thomas jefferson doesn’t look too impressed

On the other hand, I want to do WELL in Detroit.  I’m eager to hit a time that starts with a 4 rather than a 5.  It may seem silly but I want to cross the finish line feeling like I did when I crossed the finish line of the Dopey – that I gave it my all.

dopey 1/2 bib/medal

By the way, did you know I sometimes wear my Dopey medal around when I’m at home?

I’m probably making a decision based on this post.  I’m just doubting my follow through.  I need encouragement.  I need accountability.  I need some confidence.  I need… something.  Clearly.  The first day of camp will be the weekend of my Charlevoix 1/2 marathon but I’m not too worried about this as I can jump in the next weekend.

One more thing.  I signed up for camp one other time in the past – probably two winters ago?  First time around I was in the 10 min pace group.  I certainly didn’t belong there the next time around and our first run I was huffing and puffing long behind the rest of the group.  So much so that one of the coaches was hanging back simply to make sure I didn’t get lost.  I was deeply embarrassed and felt like a failure.  At least when I train on my own, I’m the only one to witness those unfortunate running days.

a pretty accurate description of my those running days

What do you think after reading all of this?  Share your words of wisdom!  Make my decision!

it’s much easier to sign up for races than run them

Every once in a while (read MOST of the time) I make things much more difficult than they really are.  I use every dish when I cook or bake.  I figure out how to make instructions vastly complicated.  And I tend to miss details so things seem harder as I only see the big picture.

With this in mind, I’m not surprised that I’ve been massively concerned about signing up for the Detroit Free Press marathon.

found on Confessions of a Non-Runner

When I first checked the marathon registration, I saw you needed either your passport or an enhanced license.  My passport is expired & I don’t have any type of enhancement on the ol’drivers certificate.  Crazy enough, two years ago when I renewed said license, they told me it had been invalid for the 14 months.  Umm…  Excuse me?  Isn’t this information someone should have told me?!  Apparently not…

Anyway, I was stressing due to these lacks of identification.  I looked at the passport renewal process & it seemed like it was going to take too long so I went for the license update.  I finally got my buns to the DMV (or Secretary of State as its known in MI), yesterday.

yep…

Brief commentary: how is the DMV ALWAYS busy?  There are several branches in Kzoo.  Also, why are there ALWAYS strange people there?  Yesterday a man started yelling inside how we all needed to pick if we wanted to go to heaven or hell & that Jesus was the only way.  And no one really did anything – it’s like we expect it there.

Anyway, turns out you need a birth certificate or valid passport to get this type of license.  Not sure why I would want an enhanced license if I already had a passport but whatever.  I think DMV employees have to put up with enough abuse so I left without voicing my disappointment.  I decided to just use my expired passport and sign up.  The price increase is soon & I didn’t want to miss my shot at Detroit.

Wouldn’t you know it?  Your passport or enhanced license number ISN’T REQUIRED!  Haha, I’m such a goober.  I’ve been worried about this for nothing; clearly I didn’t read this part very well.  I signed up straight-away.  I am so excited – another full here I come!  I’ve heard such wonderful reviews of this race & it’s been on my list of “to-do” races.  I’ve lived here in MI for almost 11 years so I basically qualify as a Michigander.  So, I HAVE to do it!

source
(source) not my pic but I can’t wait to have my own!

I’ve found a few more races that are catching my fancy.  I haven’t signed on the dotted line just yet but they are bookmarked!  I talked to previous runners of said races & naturally they all garnered rave reviews.  I love how much easier it is and what a wonderful idea all of these races sound right now.  Then at 4 am (or earlier) when my alarm sounds come race day, I can’t figure out what I was thinking!  Oh… life as a runner!