Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Detroit International Half Race Recap

It all worked out quite conveniently - my daughter was out of school on Friday and Monday for fall break so we decided to make a long weekend out of this race trip.  We headed to Michigan Friday morning, after dropping the hubby and kids off at my in-laws house I headed down to the race expo to pick up my bib.

I honestly wasn't super impressed with the expo, there wasn't anything WRONG with it, just nothing that overly stuck out as worth my time.  It was a 30 minute drive and I hate Detroit traffic.  The exit my gps told me to get of at was closed so I had to back track and it was sort of a pain.  Add to that, waiting nearly 20 minutes to get into the parking structure and having to pay $8 to park for the less than hour I was there.  Not the best experience for me.  I did hate that you had to wind/snake your way through the expo to get to bib pick up.  That was probably the one thing I would change.  They had several booths giving away freebies: granola bars, sweet potato chips, lara bars, and my personal favorite -  coupons for free chocolate milk!

Before leaving I found a photo of the international crossing in the tunnel.  I had to take a photo because  I knew that I had no plans to stop and take a photo during the race.  I knew this would be my biggest challenge on race day.

There was one major hiccup - when we registered we gave our passport info to be "pre-cleared" to cross the border and also had to show our passports to pick up the bibs.  No where did they mention that we needed to carry our passport during the race.  Apparently this year there was a change in policy and it was highly recommended runners carry their passport in case they were stopped by customs crossing the border.

Many runners, myself included, were upset because they didn't want to carry and risk losing/ruining such an important document.  Luckily, I realized that my passport fit in the zipper pocket on the front of my running skirt - problem solved!  To keep it safe, I put it in a baggie and also pinned the bag inside the pocket, just for double security.  Honestly though, the biggest mistake is that it took them nearly 24 hours to send out an official email to runners to make them aware of the issue.

Race morning came and I still wasn't sure what to wear, it was predicted to be in the 40s at the start and get to 60s.  I had a new long sleeve shirt that I was dying to wear so I went with it - though by mile 2 I regretted that decision.   I headed to the start line about an hour before the race was to start, we were running late so I didn't have time to put on the KT tape to stabilize my ankle that I had rolled a few days prior.  After saying goodbye I squeezed my way into corral D and waited for my go-time.  Turns out that I somehow ended up going off with corral E - but it doesn't really matter either way.

Me and my Girl
It was dark at the start - the first few miles went by rather smoothly though it was very crowded - shoulder to shoulder.  I felt like my legs were running into other runners, because if was so packed it was a battle to make sure that I wasn't tripping over people's throw away clothes.  I knew the bridge was the first real landmark in the race, and it felt like it took FOREVER to get to the bridge, though honestly once we arrived I was wishing it was would be over.  The ramps/inclines to get on the bridge seemed to go on FOREVER, and once we were on the bridge, the incline still continued until about half way across.  I did manage to pull out the camera and snap a picture as I was running.  It was beautiful, the sun was just starting to come up as I crossed the bridge.  Somewhere before the bridge ended, we hit the 5k mark.

Mile 1: 9:24
Mile 2: 9:04
Mile 3: 9:21
Ambassador Bridge

Let's get this thing started!

I have to say, once we reached the top of the bridge, the climbing was all worth it - the view was beautiful and running in Canada was probably the best part of the race.  The spectators were out in full force and they were very supportive of the runners. The miles in Canada were my fastest of the race.  I felt strong and felt like I was running consistent and looking at my splits I was doing fantastic.
Mile 4: 8:48
Mile 5: 8:48
Mile 6: 8:49
Mile 7: 8:50

Then, it all changed... the tunnel... the darn tunnel, the underwater mile.  I knew it would be difficult for me, mostly because of my fear of being underwater.  What I didn't realize is that it would be physically difficult too - the first part of the tunnel was a nice decline (at its lowest point the tunnel is 75 feet below the surface of the water) however, even with the decline the crowding started to take its toll (and what goes down, must come back up).  It was hot and humid, the air was stale and I was struggling to get any air into my lungs.  It felt like I had a buffalo sitting on my chest - I couldn't get a good breath and I was getting light headed.  The worst part is that I had no clue what my pace was because the garmin drops out when you enter the tunnel.  I slowed down and tried to focus on breathing, the incline kept coming, I was so relieved to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The cold air slapped me in the face as I exited the tunnel and I was never so glad to feel cold air in my life.
Just after the tunnel - I was suffering here

Not long after I re-entered the US I saw Tommy and the kids - it was SO nice to see them mid race, its not something I normally get to do.  I waved hello and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  It was getting hard and I knew I had to keep my head in the game.  I started to feel rumbling in my tummy so I decided to hit the next porta-potty for a bathroom break.  Miles 8 and 9 splits are off due to the tunnel - these also included my bathroom stop.
Mile 8: 10:12
Mile 9: 10:37

Somewhere around mile 9 I popped a jolly rancher to try to keep my sugar levels up - I was really starting to struggle but I refused to give up.  I don't honestly remember much of the last 4 miles - I was miserable and there was nothing left to look forward to except the finish line.  I had no clue where I was - I sluggishly followed the crowd, I could feel myself slowing down but I kept pushing on. There were several more short inclines - at this point every incline felt like a mountain.
Mile 10: 9:17
Mile 11: 9:15
Mile 12: 9:23

Mile 12 was where I felt the desire to give up and stop to walk.  I actually moved to the side several times with the intent of stopping.  I slowed down and every time I got to the sidelines I reminded myself how far I had come - I was so close to the end of the course.  I was so close to my goal of running the entire 13.1 miles - I would kick myself later if I stopped to walk.  I kept plugging - I kept closing my eyes imagining the finish line in front of me.  With my eyes closed, I couldn't see how far I still had to go.  Finally, the balloon arch was within reach - I had done it.  I pulled out as much of a "kick" as I could manage and pushed hard to get across the finish line.  I had secretly hoped for a sub-2:00 half, but knowing I had run the whole course made it easier to except when I missed that goal.
Mile 13: 9:20
Last .20: 1:19
     Official time: 2:02:37 (9:21 pace)
     Overall place: 2262 / 9557
     Gender place: 878 / 5983
     Age Group place: 154 / 843

This race wasn't a PR for me, not even close.  It was actually a minute slower than my first ever half marathon last year.  However, as I said, its the first time I have ever run every step of the race.  It was also my fastest half of the year (my others were 15+ minutes slower).  I went into this race knowing I wanted to push but not overdue it - I think I managed a good balance.  I think if it weren't for the tunnel and the crazy incline to get over the bridge I could have managed to break 2 hours. 

I had a good enough time running Detroit, but it honestly won't be on my "to-do" list again for a long time, if ever again.  The tunnel just about killed me and I really didn't enjoy the last 4-5 miles.  In addition, it was a royal pain in the butt to get out of down town after I was done running.  I guess its inevitable but the police out weren't helpful and I hated driving around in circles for 30-45 minutes! Although, the medal is pretty nice so it might lure me back again sometime....

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting race! We have a few races that go through tunnels here but none of them are underwater.