Our family lived in the Detroit suburbs for four years while Jim completed his fellowship, and I ran my first half on Belle Isle, so I’ve been EXCITED about running this particular marathon for years. We love visiting Michigan, so this was the perfect excuse to take a long weekend and bring the kids along to visit old friends.
I had high hopes for my marathon experience, and I was not at all disappointed. We stayed downtown at the Westin Book Cadillac, which was an easy walk to the start and finish line. We also had the good fortune to have our friend, Angie, and her two kids spend the night in the hotel as well so that we had childcare for Sunday morning.
I wanted to push for a faster time on this marathon and was hoping for a 3:25 pace group to run with. The website didn’t have this as a goal time, so I decided to double- check once we got to the expo. Not only had Detroit added a pacer, but it turned out to be one of our running club friends, Brian. I’ve never had the opportunity to run with a pacer that I knew personally, and I was so glad to have someone familiar there to push me and keep me on target. Brian’s plan was to go out a little fast during the first twenty miles so that once we reached Belle Isle, where the wind can get nasty, runners would have the opportunity to slow down if needed. I definitely had to push myself to keep his pace, but it was really nice to have someone to talk to and who would periodically shout out, “Sadie? Where are you? You still with us?”
As someone who knows the area fairly well, I’ll say that I really liked this course. The highlight is most definitely running across the ambassador bridge into Canada and then taking the tunnel back into the US. The boarder control workers were our best cheerleaders, and it was fun to have an international experience—event if it was only for a couple of miles. Aside from the bridge and tunnel, this course is essentially flat, which made it fast. It ran through the old city neighborhoods and also out to the island, and I thought that it provided a good tour of Detroit. The weather can be iffy in Michigan during this time of year. The temperature hovered in the low 30’s for the majority of the race, which was a little chilly but not prohibitive to a good time.
The wind that Brian was expecting on Belle Isle ended up being a non- issue, so we had built up a nice little time cushion for ourselves. He told those of us who felt good to keep running at a pace that felt comfortable, and he slowed down for the 3:25 finish. The last thing that he said to be was, “Sadie, you might PR today.” And while I wasn’t expecting to beat my Saint George Marathon time, I did come within nine seconds of it. As Saint George had miles of exceptionally fast downhills and this was flat, I felt good about my overall performance.
Another random race day highlight: Brian had to go to the bathroom around mile 13, so I held the pacer sign for about a half mile. Angie and the kids were having breakfast at the hotel at the same time, and my older son looked out the window and said, “Look, there’s mommy with a sign!” Our kids don’t get to see us run very often, so it was really cool that they happened to see me on the course (and leading the pace group!)
I’d highly recommend this marathon as a well- organized midsized race. There were plenty of aid stations and support throughout, and while there weren’t a ton of spectators, we never felt lonely. The full and the half stay together right up until the half marathoners turn off for their finish, but even after they split away, I always had people to run with. This is one of the few races that I’ve done that I would enjoy running for a second time.
Race Highlights: Running into Canada and back again.
The Downside: It was a bit cold and windy in sections.
Sub 4:00 State #33, BQ State #32, Sub 3:30 State #14
Finish Time: 3:22:58
Overall Place Within My Gender: 36/1,306
Total Training Miles: 7,030.8
Shoe Total: 23