October 18, 2015

Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon race report

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days--we've been super busy!

Today was the day I was supposed to run the Detroit Marathon for the second time. A little over a year ago, Thomas and I made plans to run it together in 2015. Well, as you know, training didn't go so well for me. I got injured, and every time I started to pick up mileage again, my injury would flare up. On the day I was supposed to run 15 miles, my leg hurt so badly that I decided not to continue training, and to drop out of the full. I was super bummed about it, but I know it was the right decision. I stopped running for six weeks, and then started again with just 2-3 miles at a time.

A reader suggested that I switch my marathon registration to the half, and walk it. I loved that idea! When I told Jerry that's what I was going to do, he said he'd walk it with me--even better. So, we registered for the half, with plans of a scenic, fun walk together.

Thomas got into Michigan on Thursday evening, because he was still planning to run the full (solo). We spent the entire day in Detroit on Friday (Redsmoke Barbecue for lunch, Greektown Casino, a walk along the Detroit River, the marathon expo for packet pick-up, a taste test of the competitive American vs. Lafayette Coney Island coney dogs, a dive bar for a beer, and then the Red Wings game, where the Wings got crushed). It was a fun day!

Can you tell we were going to a Wings game? ;)

This morning, we headed up to Detroit at 5:30 for the 7:00 start time. The starting line is always EXTREMELY packed with people, so we had a hard time getting into the corrals. About five minutes after the race started, we were able to squeeze in (Thomas was in a faster corral, so it was just Jerry and me). It was super cold this morning--33 degrees and SNOWING. I was excited to get started, if only to get warm.

We had decided to just do run/walk intervals--nothing consistent, just running and walking when we felt like it. For the first mile, we ran slowly to get warm. Then we ran/walked until we got to the Ambassador Bridge.

View from the ramp that leads to the bridge

We wanted to walk up the bridge, so we could check out the sights. It was a really great view (which we saw last week on our bikes!), then we went into Canada. There, we ran along the river for a few miles. I saw a man holding a sign that said, "Just one country to go!" which made me laugh.

The bridge from the Canadian side

View of Detroit from the Canadian side
To get back into the United States, you go under the Detroit River through a tunnel for about a mile. Last time I did this race (I did the full marathon in 2012), I remember really disliking the tunnel. It was humid and people were yelling to make it echo through the tunnel. I just wanted to get out, so I didn't take any time to enjoy it. This time, I noticed the border on the wall--the Canadian side and the U.S. side. It was pretty neat!

We came up out of the tunnel just after mile 8, and I was actually feeling really good. We continued to run/walk the course, and it was a fun way to do the race. We stopped for a picture if we saw something cool, and we weren't at all worried about our time or pace. I was hoping to finish the half before Thomas finished the full, but that was only because I didn't want him to have to wait for us to finish. I saw another funny sign when we were back in the U.S. It said, "You smell like Canada!" Haha ;)

At around mile 11, I saw that I had gotten a text from Thomas that said his legs just crashed at mile 14.5 (no doubt because he ran the Portland Marathon just two weeks ago!) and he would be run/walking the rest, which was a bummer for him.

A little after mile 12, there were some spectators handing out shots of bourbon! I've never had a shot of bourbon in my life (neither had Jerry), so naturally, we took one. I was surprised at how much (and how quickly) that warmed me up! ;)

We ran the last mile into the finish, crossing the finish line in 2:50:55. Not bad for an enjoyable run/walk! We went to the finish line party to sit for a little bit before going back to the finish line for Thomas. I was hoping to get an update from him, but I kept checking the live tracker to see how far along he was. At the finish line party, I met up with Colleen, a long-time reader of my blog. She and her husband flew in from Iowa to surprise their friend, who was running her first half-marathon!

Thomas finished in 4:21, which is not even close to his previous marathon times (he always finishes just over 3:30). He said his legs kept cramping up, so he had to keep stopping to stretch the whole second half of the race. It's kind of amazing that 4:21 is a "bad" time for him--I would be thrilled to get 4:21 on a good day! He really enjoyed the course, though (he even said he liked the course better than Portland's, which is a big compliment coming from him!).

Overall thoughts on the half-marathon run/walk today: I had fun doing it with Jerry; I love the course; I wish the weather was better but I can't do anything about that; and I am happy that I was able to complete it, after having taken so much time off of running. I've now done the Detroit 5K, the International Half, and the Marathon. If I ever have the desire to do another half-marathon, I will probably do the Domestic Half.

Tonight, we have friends coming over for a bonfire. It's super cold, which is unfortunate, but I'm sure we'll have fun!


  1. I love the idea of run/walking a race! I used to run a race every month in the fall and spring, but this year has been a bit busy personally with a long-distance move, buying a new house, and I've also experienced some knee pain. I'm signed up for a half marathon next April, and haven't signed up for any races - I was thinking I'd wait until I was further along in my training, but there's no reason I can't just walk/run one now, so thanks for the idea!

  2. Great commentary and pictures! Jerry's face in the first one makes me giggle -- he's a keeper. 2:50:55 for a half is nothing to sneeze at. I'm still waiting to break 3:30.

    I ended up totally ditching the LB half; I didn't even go to packet pick up because I didn't want to have a shirt that was going to mock me. ;) Race day was over 90 degrees and the heat index pushed it closer to 100.

    Congrats again for beating the cold. If we could find a happy medium between our cities' temps, it would be perfect!

  3. lol Your "slower" pace is faster than my fastest half marathon yet (2:56). So that sounded like a great time to me! Great job!!

  4. I'm training to solely walk the Rock & Roll Vegas Half next month and my projected finish time is 3:23:00, so your under 3:00:00 is fabulous - nice job!

  5. The "You smell like canada" sign was one of my favorites! I ran Leg 2 of the Marathon Relay, it was so much fun!

  6. This is a fun idea and a great way to still have the experience even without the pain of running. In fact, it actually seems like it might be more enjoyable at times ;-) Loved the bourbon thing! When I ran shamrock in VA Beach, the spectators had tables of tiny cups of beer, and I surprised myself by taking one. It's just carbs, right?!?! Great job!

  7. Katie (and Jerry), great job!!! Good job finding a way to complete the distance race even though your body didn't cooperate with the run training earlier this year.

  8. 33 and snowing!! Wow, I can't imagine. I don't think we have been under 60 yet this Fall in So Cal. Great job on finishing your half in under 3:00!

  9. Hi Katie! I have been reading your blog for a couple years now. You are a great inspiration! Myself I am also into weight loss- maintenance lifestyle, loving my yoga and learning to love gym. Actually loving them both. Keep on posting please!

  10. Last year I ran/walked the International Half and this year I did the US-Only version with my teenage daughter. It was so much more fun this year! We stayed in a downtown hotel and didn't have to wake up at an obscene hour. We bundled up and took a cup of hot coffee to watch the start of the Full and then we went back to the hotel for a nice breakfast. We had plenty of time to get ready for a 10:30am start. Our weather was perfect! Sunny and maybe 50? Just beautiful! We danced, drank a little beer and enjoyed jelly beans throughout Indian Village. Our family surprised us at (our) mile 6 and were able to park easily because it was 11:30 and on the east side of town. Belle Island was rough (windy!!) but we just laughed and made the best of it. River Walk was just as beautiful on the U.S. side as it is on the Canadian side. Do the U.S. version!! It's so much fun!

  11. You and Jerry are amazing!! How fun to get to run/walk a half together. My husband would laugh in my face if I asked him to do that with me. haha! (he cycles, running is too hard on him) Poor Thomas- it's a bummer that his legs crapped out on him! I hope he gets a good rest now. I love your race reports! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. This seems like a wonderful race!! I couldn't imagine starting in the US and running/walking to Canada~that would be awesome...in fact, it may be on my list of "things to do" now.

    (Also, love your hubby's expressions....he makes the pictures fun for sure!)

  13. You and Jerry are the cutest! I have to ask my man walk a half with me.

  14. Oooh Iowa! I'm from the Iowa City area.

  15. I think it's awesome that you turned a negative (not being able to run the marathon) into such a positive (walking the half instead)! You didn't let your injury defeat you and found a way to work with it instead.


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