Detroit Free Press Marathon: Race Recap

This race was not my race. It was for the most part a great course and a well run marathon. To start the Expo was a little basic in my opinion, while they had a lot there, there was just some things I was looking for that were absent.  Then again I’ve been to worse expos. My favorite thing was the Run Detroit booth with the course preview video. It was pretty fun using the people mover and seeing the billboards next to the start/finish line. I wish I would’ve gotten pictures, but I didn’t. We hit up the Expo on Friday, but came back on Saturday after checking-in at our hotel. Due to pre-race jitters, the only thing that sounded remotely edible was pizza so we enjoyed a salad and a deep dish pie at Niki’s; normally not my go-to be for a race meal, but when you have zero appetite for 2-3 days, you go for what sounds appealing because at least then you might eat some of it.

Hotel: The only downside of the Detroit Free Press Marathon is trying to find a hotel close to the start/finish line. No only do most of the local hotels require a minimum two nights stay (except the Casino a mile away at $499/night) they are at least $300/night stay. Another downside of a city-stay is the traffic-noise throughout the evening/night. But the plus-side was being able to walk to the start, and having a 2pm check-out after.

Wake-up: I didn’t sleep well. Shocker I know. My shoulder was bothering me most of the day, and made it impossible to sleep. So I got up and had to foam roll it before I could attempt any sort of rest. I was in and out of consciousness most of the night, waking up around 2:30am thinking I was never going to fall back asleep; then my 4am alarm happened and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was strange because Friday and Saturday I was a ball of energy doing everything possible to sit still and conserve, especially since I had a nervous tummy and my appetite was all but gone. Waking up Sunday morning, I had nervous energy but I felt exhausted.

Weather: Leaving my hotel I noticed that it was warm (66 degrees F), and humid (around 90+%). The wind which was supposed to be 10-15mph felt wicked strong.

Goals:  I set out with a pace goal for a 3:50 finish. My GCM time was 4:00, and I felt positive that I was in better shape than the Spring. I did make the decision to start out with the 3:45 pacer to help me make it over the Ambassador Bridge and through the Tunnel.

Start Line: I arrived to the start line around 6:15am, and it wasn’t very crowded. I noticed how small the corrals were too, but was happy to find the 3:45 pacer almost immediately. She was friendly and chatted with those of us around her; she commented that the course was long at 26.4 miles. I saw some familiar faces from Dave’s MIT. Around 6:45am the corrals closed, and we got ready to run.

Mile 1-5: Starting off I noticed we were fast, my watch was ready 8’29 pace, which was not at all what I had planned for. But it felt comfortable so I just ran with it. When we hit the Ambassador Bridge I was expecting the elevation change, but knew it was early enough in the course that it shouldn’t be too rough. I was wrong. Combined with the headwinds I slowed to almost a 10’30 mile. Coming down off the bridge I fell back into a 8’50 pace, but I knew something was not right.
Average Pace: 8’51”

Mile 6-10:  I had the 3:50 pacer pass me, and then the 3:55 pacer pass me and I knew I was in trouble. But looking at my watch and the Mile Markers, my watch was almost 0.22 off, which I was expecting considering I knew the course was measured long. Miles 6 and 7 came in around a 4:00 finish time. Mile 8 was almost completely in the Tunnel, and when I read that its hot and humid in that Tunnel–its so very true. I was sweating profusely, and very concerned that I was going to be in a medical tent before the end of the race. My Garmin FR230 had me at a 9’53 for that underwater mile. After the Tunnel my legs were not cooperating with me and I had consecutive 10’50 miles.
Average Pace:9’58”

Mile 11-15: To be honest, most of this part of the race was a bit of a blur; I remember stopping to walk because I was mentally checking in with my body to see what was fixable to try and salvage this race. I was hoping to be back on track for at least a 4 hour finish. At fluid stations I was taking two cups hoping to re-hydrate from the fluid loss in the tunnel. I texted my mom who I knew would be around Mile 13, so she would know when to expect me. I stopped briefly when I saw her to give her my passport and then headed back out on the road. I crossed the half marathon mark at 2:06:55. Now I was hoping to hang on for a sub-4:15 finish. At this point I knew I needed another packet of fuel, but my stomach wasn’t feeling it so I stopped at a fluid station to eat and drink before heading back on the road.
Average Pace: 10’33”

Mile 16-20: Approaching Mile 17, I was approaching familiar territory. But I was still struggling. I was motivated to pull through, although feeling the affects of too much water too quickly at the fluid stations. Shortly after Mile 18, the 4:15 pace group passed me. I fell in with their pace and started to feel really strong again. Then we turned onto Jefferson and hit a headwind. I knew it was time for another baggie of chews, so I stopped at the next fluid station to eat and drink at Mile 19. Then we turned into Belle Isle, and another headwind, but thankfully not an crazy elevation change. My legs were feeling okay, I saw Terra from Detroit Body Garage coming from the other direction; this made me happy because after the Start and my mom, I hadn’t seen anyone else I knew.
Average Pace: 11’07”

Mile 21-25: When they say Belle Isle is windy. Its not a joke. It wasn’t windier than the rest of the course, but most of the course had buildings providing relief and on Belle Isle it was just you and the wind. You could see the storm coming in. I was doing some quick math and determined I really needed to pull out some speedier miles if I wanted to cross that finish line before 4:20. I passed a much speedier Dave’s MIT runner who seemed to be having a rough race just like me, after some words of encouragement, I was back on my way. At Mile 23, I noticed that my watch was now surprisingly 0.55 off the mile markers. Right as we turned onto the Detroit Riverwalk the rain began. I knew with the rain and wind, it was going to take something fierce to get me to that finish line in time. I never saw Mile Markers 24 or 25, so I had no idea where I was compared to my watch. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I felt a bad headache coming on during these last miles.
Average Pace: 10’27”

Mile 25-26.2: Around Mile 25.6 there was the last fluid station, each fluid station had a distance marked until the next. I saw 0.6 miles to the finish and I felt a little relief because I had missed the last two Mile Marker signs and wasn’t really sure where I was anymore. We made a quick right and then left and while I couldn’t see the finish line (yet) I knew I needed the fastest legs of this race, thankfully my legs finally decided to cooperate.
Average Pace: 9’10”

Finish: As I headed towards the Finish Line, I saw a crowd of runners ahead and knew I needed to pass them otherwise they would slow me down right near the finish. Once again my legs didn’t let me down and I had the best kick in of my life. I guess when you run one of your slowest marathons (and 20:30 slower than your last marathon).
Official Finish Time 4:24:57
Average Pace 10’06”

Summary:
-Fastest Mile: 1(8’28”)
-Slowest Mile: 17 (11’33”)
-Number of Miles under 9 minutes: 4
-Number of Miles under 10 minutes: 11
-Number of Miles over 10 minutes: 11

Thoughts: To be perfectly honest, this race was not as mentally challenging as my last two Glass City Marathon performances, but physically I fell flat. Most of the race I tried to rack my brain and figure out what went wrong, so that I can fix it for next time. It could be partly due to training, or cross-training; my body felt as if this was more of a cut-back week in training than race week (you know what I’m talking about, the week when your body feels like sludge and you’re thankful it’s cut back week). I’ve run a lot more this summer in hot and humid and even stormy weather, so I thought I was prepared for race day conditions, but my body didn’t respond as if it was prepared at all. I did hear afterwards that many Marathon runners had rough races that day (including those in Columbus); heat and humidity might have gotten the best of many runners, although I did hear a lot of great races from the Half Marathon runners. This was my fourth worst marathon performance since I began running (followed by my 2nd Marathon in 2012, my first in 2010, then Dopey in 2015), but it was also my third marathon this year. I also ended with a horrible headache that kept me nauseous and on the couch until the following morning, typically I get these from allergies, dehydration or heat-sickness, all of which could have lead to a crappy race performance. If you gave me another week or two, maybe I could pull out a better finish. I have one more marathon on my schedule next spring then I think I’m going to take a break and focus on building speed at shorter distances for a while; something I feel like I’ve said before and never followed through on, but this race might have proven that I need to refocus for a while.

Overall: I was pretty impressed with the Detroit Free Press Marathon going into race day. Their website is pretty awesome. I love their responses to FAQs. I learned a heck of a lot just browsing around. But the best thing was how speedy they were to respond to questions via Twitter and Other Social Media. I asked questions over Twitter and not even a few minutes later…response! Amazing. I may have not been impressed with their Expo, but for the most part the course brought you through some neighborhoods that really came out to support the runners, and that is always a marathon win in my book. The only advice I would have for future runners would be to get the Passport card to carry, and please wear your bibs on your crest like Race Officials tell you too–so many Border Patrol agents were weaving in and out of runners trying to make sure they were wearing bibs!

You can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run Detroit? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?

Jes

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6 Replies to “Detroit Free Press Marathon: Race Recap”

  1. Great race report – thanks for taking the time to share. I love GCM and have paced either the full or the half 3 out of the last 4 years. I was the 4:15 pacer for Detroit and I was glad that you were able to run with us for a while. Detroit is one of my favorite marathons – I notched up a 3:20 PR there in 2013 – running out and in of the US is a novel concept. I love the course – except for that little hill (mountain) at mile 25! Unlike most, I’m a fan of Belle Isle. It’s always windy and crappy but it’s a welcome 2 mile detour – for me anyway. Sunday’s conditions were tough. The temps and humidity were a tough start to the day and the winds added a little more misery to the mix. Like you, I found the course long – starting at mile 2! Congrats on your finish and another 26.2 to your name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Gordon! You seemed to be having fun pacing the group. I wanted to hang with you longer but I decided to stop at the fluid station instead. Maybe I’ll see you again at GCM!

      Like

    1. Worst in terms of performance based on training vs outcome. The humidity got to me. I’m not sure I was where I needed to be physically to attempt a 3:45, but I thought I was in better condition than my finish time. I’ve finished faster with less training (and without as many/any speed workouts). Otherwise I enjoyed the course (we ran past where T and I met). I’ll be back next year for the half!

      Liked by 1 person

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