Ok for those of you who want to hear the whole story behind the marathon, this is for you. I have been wanting to run one for a few years now just to say that I did it. This year everyone at Hantz Group (my old employer) was harassing me to run it but I hadn’t really been running much so I kept putting it off. Then one night, September 16th at about 11:30pm I was sitting with my wife and she started browsing Hulu looking for something to watch and so she turned on “Spirit of The Marathon”
So here I am watching this movie, seeing Brian Sell and Clint Verran racing and of course, I start getting the nervous sweats while my wife is laughing at me. ( I can’t talk about running or even smell the rubber of the track without getting butterflys in my tummy) So I said “screw it” and went and snagged my wallet. A few minutes later I was registered for the Detroit Free Press Marathon.
So being I hadn’t run a long run in a few weeks I decided to run with EMU XC for Sunday long run, 17.5 at 6:35 pace and it was painful. After that run I was a little worried about my decision being I only had 4 weeks to go. That was my highest mileage week weighing in at 66 miles.
The next week was a good week for workouts and on Sunday I did another long run with EMU XC and one of Kenya’s best, Boaz Cheboiywo (EMU Alumni and former Teammate) We did a 20 miler out and back. We were out for the first 10 in 6:37 pace but when we turned around the chase was on. The group just kept getting faster and faster. In the last few miles I got dropped by Boaz but still finished in 1:58.44 / 5:58 pace, clocking in 5:23 pace for the last 10 miles.
After this I just thought “whats 6 more miles at a slower more even pace?” Over the next few days Eric Green had offered to pace me through my first marathon at 6:00 pace (2:37.12). I was delighted to have company on the run.
2 Weeks later and an 8 week mileage average of 40 per week, Sunday morning was here. I was dropped a few blocks away from the start line by my wife Jamie and my buddy Joel. I made my way through the crowd to the never ending port-o-potty line next to the start line 6:42am…6:52am still in line…6:55am National Anthems are sung, still in line…6:58am Scott Hubbard starts to makes race announcements, still in line…6:59am the wheel chairs start and I ask the guy in front of me if I can cut and showed him my section A bib number, he graciously steps aside. I handle my business, burst out the door, weave through the crowd, and hop the gate into the start line, BANG! gun goes off.
Where is my pacer Eric Green? It feels like I’m in about 60th place and I’m looking all over for Eric. First mile 5:50, still no Eric. Next mile 5:59 I think I see Eric ahead of me. I catch up to him right as we are about to make the loop and start the bridge climb. We have a good climb, he lets me know we are ahead of pace and I start to feel bad for mass of people following as I notice only one lane open for the runners. Mile 3 and 4 go by in 11:13, again Eric cautions me of our quick pace.
In Canada the crowd was pleasant and the view of the river was beautiful. A few more miles went by as we approached the tunnel hitting the 7 Mile at 40:07 again Eric cautioning me about the pace. In the tunnel we met up with former CMU standout Jake Flynn, who I raced against many of times. He said he was hoping to run 6:00 pace as well and started running with us. It was nice to have him there as we got caught up on life, talking about marriage and him finishing up med school.
Mile 10 came quick as we crossed it in 57:51 as we just chatted away, Eric again reminding me we are over 2 minutes ahead of goal pace and if we dropped to 6:00 he would still set a personal best.
As we passed the half way point the crowd quickly thinned out. Now I was feeling good still and was getting antsy as two full marathoners passed us…1:15.26 at the half. My competitive nature kicked in as I said to Flynn “That’s not sitting well with me.” as I pointed to the two guys that just passed. We kept them in our sites for the next two miles. I started asking Eric and Flynn how I should be feeling at this point in the game as we crossed the 15 mile mark. They told me “if you are still talking and feeling good, you should go.” I hesitated for one more mile…5:54 16th mile.
We turned the corner for Indian Village and I just started running. I felt a rush of adrenaline and freedom wash over me as the chase set in. I could still see the two runners that had passed us a few miles back. Dropping a 5:35 for the 17th mile, I was feeling good. I passed my old manager from Hantz Group, giving him a high five, and telling him I feel great! Headed South on Burns, back towards the river, I finally caught up to those two guys. I was wondering how many more full marathoners were ahead of me.
As I came to the bridge for Belle Isle, my buddy Joel was there telling me I can win this. I thought to my self “No chance, not with Boaz in the race.” Joel pointed to the guy in front of me and told me that guy was in 2nd place. I charged past him, clocking 5:15 for my 20th mile. I could actually see Boaz. Mile 21 5:21 I was catching him…something wasn’t right. At about 21.5 Boaz rounded the corner and looked back at me, I gave him the point and right then his pace instantly slowed. He stepped off of the road and slowed to a stop. I asked him if he was ok and he said “Go Man!! I’m dropping out.” So I went! Mile 22 5:19.
Coming back over the bridge there was Joel. “Where is Boaz!?!” he said. “He just dropped out!” I replied. He said “Your going to win this!” “Wow!” I thought, I only have to hang on for 4 more miles. Mile 23 went by in 5:25…my legs were starting to ache, and my feet felt like they were bruised. The turns by the boat docks were feeling way hard on the hips. Mile 24 5:24. Mile 25 was very long, straight, and boring. Not much of a crowd to keep you motivated. I was out of energy and my legs were screaming. “This is what everyone talks about…the marathon starts at 20 miles.” 5:34. OK 1.2 to go…I can do this. I looked down at my watch only 2 minutes of running left.
My wife was there right by Cobo, just before I made the left to the home stretch. I had never seen her so excited before. I could hear it in her voice as she cheered for me. That was what I needed. Mile 26 5:28. I rounded the corner, the finish line was in my sites…it just seemed so far away. I ran as hard as I could, so I could hurry up and stop. The closer I got to the finish line the bigger my smile got. By the time I hit the finish line I was all smiles. Last .2 67.58.
I can’t believe I just ran and won my first ever marathon!! 2:28.30 way ahead of my 2:37 goal.