On Sunday I ran the Detroit Free Press US-Only Half Marathon. I was feeling good from Brooksie Way, had some good runs the following weekend during the Ragnar Relay, and had so many other great workouts this summer, that at about a week before the race, regardless of what the weather gurus were predicting, I felt ready and capable of a PR. I wanted it. I could really do it. I put the work in. Just like I was able to pull off a sub-24/23:30 goal race 5k race in August, would I finally break 1:50? (current PR 1:50:11 Brooksie Way, 2014)

I was feeling so excited for it I even posted a picture with my bib to Instagram in anticipation. Which is something I never do before a race, not because I was ever superstitious, though, at least not about that.

At packet pick-up!

I was laying in bed still looking at my phone when my friends started to post start-line pictures before the international races started. I did feel like I was missing out, a little, even though I knew I would be down there soon. The US-Only Half started at 10:30. I wanted to leave my house by 8:15 am at the latest even though downtown is less than a half hour away. I was worried about what road closures would affect us. My parents came with me and drove- which I really appreciate!

Mom and Dad drove me downtown

We were ready early so we left the house around 7:45 am. Parking was abundant in Greektown and we walked over to Cadillac Square to find the start of my race. We watched the runners as the international half marathoners turned into the finish and the marathoners kept heading straight. First-time marathoners wear green bibs instead of blue. Detroit was my first and only marathon (so far). I think its great they differentiate between the bibs because they can all use some extra love and recognition for their achievement. As we’re watching, the air is warm and humid and the wind very present. The rain is holding off so far.

Eventually we made our way back to the start of the US-Only Half. I thought there would be just a few thousand participants, compared to the 15,000-some participants of the International races, but the area looked sparse.

Heading over to the start area about an hour before

Below is one of my favorite race pictures I came across over the years participating.

Some 15,000 runners at the start of the International races in 2016 (photo by Detroit Free Press)

On Friday, WXYZ Channel 7 News shared a story with us: Sister Beth, a retired nun soon to be 89 years old, was running in the half marathon this weekend. If you haven’t watched the clip, see it here. I spotted her and I  couldn’t help but say hello. My mom and I took pictures with her. I sure hope I’m still running when I’m her age! While the director was giving pre-race announcements he let her share with everyone that she’s been praying for us all the last six months, so that we may all finish.

Sister Beth and I before the race

I had the idea to stick near the 1:50 pacer. Too bad for me (to be fair she shared it with us before we started) she planned to bank time in the early miles of the race when the wind would be at our backs. I don’t think this works for me. Not during speed workouts or during the Brooksie Way half marathon (although I kinda intentionally backed off).

I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be. Really! I stuck with the pacer up until the turn onto Jefferson from Burns Street. This was the point in the race we started to turn back and towards Belle Isle and the wind came at us. It was the point I realized just what 20 mph winds feel like: “Oh, wow, this wind is really something!” I got water at the aid station there (~5.5 miles in) and then the pacer was gone and I couldn’t even spot her ahead. Huge shout-out to everyone who didn’t let the wind bother them! You are awesome! (I looked it up and the pacer finished right on time!)

The southwest winds were not helpful

I also had this great idea going into it that I could draft behind someone to help shield me from the wind. The marathoners on the course weren’t exactly my pace and anyone else running the US-Only half passed me! I was joking last week about being blown off the MacArthur Bridge (bridge to Belle Isle) but turns out the bridge wasn’t the problem. The whole stretch along the Detroit River was the problem.

Also, huge shout-out to the Hanson’s crews cheering at the entrance to Belle Isle. It’s great to see familiar faces not just once, but twice! Once crossing back over the bridge it became, “just finish under two hours.” I try to gradually pick it up over the last few miles of the race so that I can confidentially say I gave it my all. I was trying. I know the effort was there. I’m not lying to myself either (not just because my readers don’t care) because I was a little sore on Monday and Tuesday. But looking at my splits, you can’t even tell!

Unlike the Brooksie Way half when I banked time in the beginning, I couldn’t pick it back up near the end
Aside from the large dips when I grabbed water, I think the other dips demonstrate well the 30 mph wind gusts that runners faced

The last stretch to the finish line felt like I was running in slow-motion! Here’s a couple official race photos I’m laughing at. Please laugh with me. They can’t all be as good as the one from Mackinac Island!

On Belle Isle
Great slow-mo shot! Not sure what part of the course this was taken…

The rain was just starting to come down the last few miles (aka pelt). I finished in 1:57:06 (8:56 pace) for 179th of 1,407 runners- again, still a couple thousand participants less than I thought. But then again it helped since I was 38th of 714 women. This one was certainly a tough one with temperatures starting in the 70s, high humidity, and strong, gusty winds. I am a little grateful I was not participating in the full marathon because the conditions were not favorable. But I believe next year is my year for both a half marathon PR and my second marathon.

Don’t I look soaked?

I’m always glad I participated in the Detroit Free Press events. I haven’t ran their 5k yet; maybe next year! Their shirts always look great, too!

The back of this year’s shirts

I took Monday off from all exercise to recover- I even skipped my usual yoga class! Tuesday I biked easily for about 20 minutes. And today I got a new pair of running shoes and did Runner’s World Iron Strength workout videos (‘m going to have to order the new one!). I’ll try for an easy run tomorrow. Legs are feeling good. The only thing lasting from the race is a peeling face from the wind burn, haha.

Lastly, Sister Beth did finish the half marathon and took first in her age group!