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The marathon weekend… or as my family enjoys saying, “Oh look mom’s running away from our insanity again!” Started out a little rocky. Between coordinating airport rides and getting on our flight, I think everyone was running (no-punning! lol) a bit late. Of course that would mean in crappy weather our flight is somehow still on time and we had to mad dash it to get through TSA. I swear those TSA agents dislike me. I never see anyone else get stopped for having extra sneakers/shoes in their carry on bag! And I ALWAYS get the longer of the two lines… So after the hustle we finally make it to Detroit. I was kind of hoping I’d see something on the drive to Ann Arbor that looked like what I pictured of Detroit (i.e. dangerous city) but that never happened.

Dear Detroit,
That’s a lot of hype you’ve got going on and I never saw one bad thing about your city.
Sincerely,
Me

Oh wait, we hadn’t even ran the marathon or flown home at this point.

The Ann Arbor marathon is still small in size, this being only it’s second year in the running. Overall there were 406 finishers in the full marathon distance. They also had a half, a 5k and a 1.2 fun run. I hadn’t bothered to check the elevation map since I was planning to run this as a long training run and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. I think I would have just sat this one out. Seriously. I knew it was going to be a challenge to finish since my longest 20M run had been a month prior and I was fighting off some foot and hip aches and pains. Even the race FAQ’s talk about how there are hills everywhere in Ann Arbor. Duh.

Alright, so let’s chat about the course. The start and finish happen at The University of Michigan. What you should note is that the campus is GINOURMOUS. Something like 25,000 students attend this school. So when you finish at the “little” stadium, you are not near the “big house” stadium (that’s right! more than one football field for these kids!) which is almost two miles?? (ok maybe 1.5 miles) away from your parked car. That’s also a big walk UP a HILL. Postrace. #fail

The first few miles 0-2.5 take you through the University campus through downtown Ann Arbor and out towards a residential area of rolling hills. By miles 3-4 you continue in Geddes on quiet streets in the early morning heading towards more hills what almost feels like a “country run.” You end up in Gallup park and run along the river miles 5-8. The park is pretty and few spectators are out cheering you on. Every two miles or so there is an aid station and one or two port-a-potties. Which I may have stopped at least six of them during the race. Mile 8 is a big one though. The first pass for the marathoners find it relatively quiet at maybe an hour plus into the race. There is a band though playing good music and many signs with clever sayings to keep you going. My favorite was, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!” Up a *slight* hill runners find themselves having to do two out and back loops including miles 10-11 (Plymouth) and then miles 12-13 (Haywood). Back down the hill you cross the half way point and onto mile 14 which ends up being the mile 8 aid station area. At this point I was ready for this race to finish. I knew I had enough in me to get to mile 16 where everything was primed to “go to hell in a handbasket,” as they say. The half marathoners who began the race an hour after us joined us for a stint and it felt like there was atleast some fresh faces to keep us going. More hills reared their ugly faces and as I knew it mile 16 was the F-bomb. My body was pretty much finished at this point and I just kept telling myself “Ok I made it this far, what’s another 10 mile struggle?” Don’t answer that question because it’s a stupid one and two hours of struggling never feels good or rewarding at the end!! Anyway, the course has a small reprieve and miles 16 thru 18 having us running backs towards the University and through this really pretty garden/trail/hilly/woods called the “Arboretum.” Look it up. I swear it’s cool. At the top of the hill is mile 18 and some nice ladies with ice pops and kids cheering like crazy just rolling out of bed from last night’s frat party. I was taking anything I could get my hands on at this point. I was still running ahead of the four-hour-pacer but quickly falling apart. The next several miles towards the finish are pretty much hell and a disaster. Two miles of rolling hills back into the city and out to the Briarwood Mall loop, where the expo was held the day before. Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 I wanted a bus to come run me over. No luck there except putting one sad foot in front of the other. At mile 23 the four-hour-pacer past me and that was it. Mile 24 is over the stadium sidewalk and uphill to mile 25. Another out and back (small one) to the finish in the “small” stadium…

The finish was kind of anti-climatic. I guess there had been a course change because we were suppose to finish at the “big house” instead of two miles away from the car and parking lot. Ah well, it’s another race under my feet and a medal for the wall. I finished in 4:04:53, 151st over all, 40th female and 12th in my age group (ouch lol).

racephotosD

I consider every race a learning experience and here is what I learned:

* The TSA hires only mean, grumpy people intent on making you miss your flight. I already knew this, however, it’s nice to have my assumptions reaffirmed often and completely.

* Mustard can help cramps. Long story but, look it up. I used it at mile 21 and felt pretty good. I also purchased a pre-race pretzle as a diversion technique so my friends could “get more” packets than was perhaps needed for one pretzle. Big Daddy has said he will not bail me out of jail for running shennanigans so my guilt complex cost me $3.75 and garnered two dozen mustard packets.

mustard

* Cats away from home are cute but not always a good sleeping companion. *Simba Rocks* This little devil made our stay very interesting popping air matresses and knocking lamps over at 3am …

simba

* Avocado on pizza tastes delicious. There are soooooo many good places to eat in Ann Arbor. So if you’re going to run there, remember to eat well.

pizza

* Detroit = worst airport ever I can’t say this strongly enough. Let’s just say the evening did not end well. The flight was cancelled after a huge ruckus and mechanical problems and we had to stay the night. (What kind of an airport has to call a maintenence guy, not a “crew” just ONE guy to drive four hours away in Chicago to come and fix the plane?????) The only bonus was the nice room we got for free and the “real” Starbucks coffee I was willing to commit unspeakable acts for.

PID

I never though I would be so happy to see Newark, NJ in my life but there you have it. Home Sweet Home!

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