October 21, 2014

Nathan's first marathon!

I could not be any prouder than I was on Sunday when I saw my "little" brother, Nathan, cross the finish line of his first marathon! It was an amazing day, and I'm so glad that I was there to see everything.

I got up super early on Sunday, because we had to drive Nathan up to Detroit for the Free Press Marathon at 4:45 a.m. I'd been planning this day for weeks--exactly how I was going to be the best, most supportive spectator that ever spectated a race! ;) Also going along to cheer him on were my mom; my sister, Jeanie; Jerry; and Kendall, his girlfriend.

Kendall had gotten us shirts that said "TEAM NATHAN" to wear to the race. It was going to be pretty cold outside, so I dressed in a lot of layers--I had on two pairs of Cold Gear tights, FIVE shirts (four long-sleeved, including Cold Gear, and the t-shirt on top), gloves, and a hat. I felt like I could barely move my arms because of all the layers, but the clothes ended up being a good choice. I also wore my rainbow-colored tutu, just to be easy to spot.

I made a few signs, but forgot to get pictures of them!

"26.2... Yeah, b*tch!"
"Hurry up! The Kenyans are drinking your beer!"
"Nate the Great, you just passed mile 8!"
"Remember when you thought you couldn't do this?"

When Kendall came over, I found a couple of good ideas for her signs as well:
"I don't do marathons; I do a marathon runner!"
"Marathon runners do it longer!" ;)

I also ordered an enormous cutout of Nathan's face to hold up. I'd seen a lot of people with them when I ran the Chicago Marathon, and I loved the idea. I asked my older brother, Brian, to conspicuously get some nice/funny close-ups of Nathan, and he got some good ones. I uploaded one to Shindigz.com, and placed an order for a 3-ft. cutout. Just 24 hours later, it arrived on my porch! That was uber fast service, and I hadn't even paid extra for fast shipping. Here is a post-race photo, so you can see what the cut-out looked like:

Nathan knew nothing about it, and I didn't want him to see it until he saw us cheering at mile 8. We arrived in Detroit and parked at the casino to meet up with Kendall, and then we went down to the starting line. There was a bar right next to Nathan's corral that was letting people in for $2, just to sit and stay warm. We had about an hour until the start of the race, so it was worth it. We got coffee and hot chocolate, and waited until it was time for Nathan to go to the corral.

About 10 minutes until race time, Nathan got in his corral (E) where the 4:00 pacer was. He hoped to finish under 4 hours, and barring any unforeseen stomach issues or something, I was sure he would do it as long as he didn't start out too fast. Once we dropped him off in the corral, we wanted had to head back to the car to get the signs, and then make our way to mile 8 (which was just after the tunnel coming back into the U.S. from Canada). We took the People Mover (a small train that runs in a 3-mile loop around downtown Detroit) to mile 8, and just as we got there, the wheelchair participants were coming through.

I've been battling a cold all week, and my voice was pretty hoarse--but I brought clackers and cowbells to make some noise, and I yelled when appropriate. I was really hoping to see Adam from The Boring Runner, because I knew he'd be running. He wrote a guest post for me a couple of years ago about "The Unmentionables of Running", and I've been reading his blog for a long time. I felt like such a stalker, tweeting him several times that morning, but somewhere around the 3:20 pacer, I saw him go by. He knew I'd be carrying the "head" sign, and he later said I was super easy to spot--success! ;) That was the last I saw of him during the race, though--I was hoping to get a picture with him, but there were so many people there, that it was impossible to find anyone!

After the 3:55 pacer went by, I got really nervous about spotting Nathan. I really didn't want to miss him, and I certainly didn't want him to miss us. Someone from the newspaper came up to me and asked for my info as well as Nathan's info, because she'd gotten a photo of us from across the street--how fun! A friend saw it on RunMichigan.com today:

I wish they'd snapped the picture when I was actually cheering instead of looking desperately for Nathan, but it's a pretty cool pic :)

Right on pace, we saw Nathan! He looked surprised and we yelled and cheered like crazy, and then just like that, it was time to go to the next spot. Our next plan was to go to mile 15.5. We had to take the People Mover back toward where the car was, and then we had to drive to E. Grand Blvd. There, we had to park and walk about a third of a mile to get to the course. We got there right as the 3:20-ish groups were going by.

That was a good spot to cheer, because a lot of the runners were starting to look tired. The pace groups were getting smaller, which is what happens in a marathon. We just hoped that Nathan was still on target and having a great race.

Just ahead of the 4:00 pacer, we saw Nathan! He ran over to our side of the street for high fives, and then he ran to Kendall to give her a kiss. He nearly biffed it when he stumbled on the curb (yikes) but he stayed upright and kept on going.

He was feeling good at the halfway point, so (against my advice) he picked up the pace a little, and was slightly ahead of target. After he passed by, we just had to walk one block to where the 19-mile mark was. We saw a lot of the same runners going by once we were there. That was a fun place to cheer, because the runners go onto an island right after that (Belle Isle), and then off the island at mile 22.5. It was at mile 19 that I kind of fell apart when I ran the Detroit Marathon back in 2012, and the island felt like it was FOREVER long. Later, Nathan told me the same thing happened to him--it was all he could do to keep on going, and he wanted to quit, but it would be stupid to quit that far in!

Again, just ahead of the 4:00 pace group, Nathan went by, looking very strong and like he was doing great. After he went by, we knew we had to book it to the car. I had been hoping to stay to see him at mile 22.5, but there was no way we'd make it to the finish line on time if we did. When we got back to the car, we had to drive back to the casino to park. It took longer than planned, because of the road closures, and when we got there, they were charging $40 for parking! It had been free before we left, but there was a Lions game in the afternoon, so they started charging for that. We didn't have much time to find an alternative, so we just sucked it up and parked, then took the People Mover as close to the finish line as we could.

When we finally got to the finish line, the 3:45 pacer went by, so we had made it just in time. We were searching for Nathan, and finally, we saw his bright green shirt, so we yelled and cheered as loudly as we could as he ran the finisher's chute. He crossed the finish line in 3:57:06!

We started making our way to the runner's exit, which took a while because it was super crowded. As we waited, I held up the giant cardboard head so that he'd know where to find us. I saw a woman take a photo, and it later wound up on the Detroit Free Press website:

When Nathan came out, he looked extremely pale, and I was a little worried about him. He wasn't talking much, which I knew meant he wasn't feeling all that great. We took a couple of pictures, but Nathan said he nearly passed out at the finish line, so we wanted to get him to the car ASAP.

Nathan and Kendall
By the time we got to the car, he was feeling better after eating a protein bar and drinking some chocolate milk. We had plans to go home to shower quickly, and then go to Anson's, our favorite place to get pizza. Jerry and I drove separately to Anson's, because I wanted to "set up" his "cake" before he got there. Nathan's not big on desserts (yet we are blood-related--what the hell?!), so instead of getting him a cake, I made him a "cake" out of his favorite beer:

I also got him a card and the book signed by Bart Yasso. My dad and kids joined us for pizza, as well as a few of Nathan's friends, so there were quite a few of us there for pizza. We ordered all kinds of yummy pizzas, including Reuben, chicken bacon ranch, jalapeƱo popper, barbecue chicken, and a couple of others. I ate four pieces, and easily could have eaten more (it was the first I'd eaten all day), but I reined it in after tasting those four that I really wanted to try. ;)  The pizza was delicious, and perfect after a day of running all over Detroit! (I'd gotten in about 15,000 steps)

We got a picture of our TEAM NATHAN group--Jerry, me, the kids, Kendall, Jeanie, Nathan, and my parents:

I was SO COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED after the week of traveling, getting up early, and running around spectating that I actually fell asleep on the couch at 6:30. I went to bed at 7:30, and slept the whole night. As tired as I was, I wouldn't have missed it for anything--I am SO proud of my brother! I know how hard it is to train for a marathon, and he's only been running for a year. He works 12-hour midnight shifts, and he never missed a training run. He's lost about 40 pounds, and has gotten super fit in the process. The whole day was just amazing, and I hope that we made his first marathon experience as memorable as it could be :)


  1. Wow! You are a great sister! Nathan is one lucky guy! Congrats to him!!

  2. That giant head sign is quality, lol. Congrats to Nathan on his first marathon!

  3. Congrats Nathan! Awesome achievement! Rangers Lead The Way!

  4. Katie,
    You are a wonderful sister! Life is good here in Irvine. Still miss you!

  5. how fun! congrats to your brother on his marathon! i love how you and the cardboard head made so many photos!

  6. I love the giant head! That's awesome!

  7. Can't wait to see a two-generation race!!!

  8. What a sister!!! What a family!!! I know Nathan felt y'all's love. :)

  9. What a great day. Maybe Nathan will do a guest post to tell us his version?

  10. Wow! Sub-4 on your first marathon, Nathan! Way to totally rock it!

    Katie, you DO win the best sister and best spectator award. That was awesome! Kendall's shirts were great too. Love the beer cake and the photo of all you guys.

  11. Congrats Nathan!! Sub 4?!?!?!?! Amazing job!!!! I love the giant head idea!!!!!

  12. What a great story. I could feel your excitement as you ran all over the place trying to be in the right spot to cheer Nathan on as he ran by. Those signs you made sound great, and the "giant Nathan-head" one? PERFECFT! Talk about being easy to spot! You could see that for miles! You are a wonderful sister! Way to go Nathan!!! The family photo is frame-able for sure!

  13. I was running my first full as well & I must have been in front of your brother the whole time because I kept seeing the group cheering with the big head! I had issues with throwing up the last few miles & slowed down slightly to finish right behind him in 3:59. I saw you all waiting in the finisher's area too when I was there with my family :) Congrats to him!

  14. Ah that's so cool! Love the huge head lol

  15. Congrats to Nathan! Heck of a first marathon and he was so lucky to have all of you there cheering for him!

  16. What a great awesome amazing family!

    And totally loving the giant face!

  17. Congratulations to Nathan. I saw him run by in Canada but of course I didn't know it was him. LOL My son and daughter were running in the half. I had so much fun cheering for everyone as they ran by. My sign read, "Run like you stole something." Many claimed that they DID steal something.

  18. congrats to him! does he run after he gets off in the morning, and is still able to sleep during the day alright?
    I just got switched over to graveyards and haven't found a groove yet.
    PS the giant head is awesome - but I would be way to embarrassed for it to be my face!

    1. Sorry this is such a late response! He has trouble sleeping because of the PTSD, so he's probably not the best example of how to fit in a run and get enough sleep ;) He does run when he gets off work, and on his super long runs, he would occasionally take two-hours of vacation time to get an earlier start. But he works 12-hour shifts, so the fact that he could fit in training on top of that is pretty impressive!


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