1. Wow, it’s so nice to step out of the hotel and be comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt!
2. It’s probably not a good sign that I’m comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt before the race has even begun.
3. It’s really handy that my corral is right in front of my street! But I can’t figure out how to get IN it.
4. Eh, I’ll start in the next one down. So what if it starts two minutes later? What difference can two minutes make?
5. I’m not nervous at all. Trust your training. Lock your cage. Isaiah 40:31. I’m so excited!!!
6. We’re off! It’s okay that everyone is passing me. That’s the plan. Start slow and keep your heart rate at 140 for a few miles. Why does my watch say it’s 150 already?
7. There, that’s better. It says it’s 120. Just keep it nice and slow for a, wait, now it’s 160. Fluky heart rate monitor.
8. I don’t think it’s the heart rate monitor. It’s the humidity. I can’t get my heart rate to go down and I’m barely jogging. People from later waves are passing me. I’ll grab some water at the upcoming station.
9. Everyone is grabbing water at this station. They don’t even have enough cups. People are just taking swigs from communal jugs. I’ll wait ’til the next one.
10. Look around, Jen. Take in the sights and the people. This is the beginning of an amazing journey.
11. I don’t remember the climb to the top of the Ambassador Bridge being so steep or taking so long. I’m drenched in sweat already and it’s mile 2.
12. Great, the sun’s coming out. Should I bail on what’s sure to be a rough race? I could try for better conditions at another race.
13. We’re still going up. How is that possible?
14. Now we’ve started the actual incline. I think I might die today.
15. That was the lamest rosary I’ve ever prayed. “Hail Mary, full of grace, it was snowing this time last year, no, I mean, the Lord is with thee…”
16. Well, the view from the bridge into Canada sure doesn’t disappoint! It’s so beautiful with a big moon and a misty haze over Detroit. This is spectacular.
17. Yay, now we’re going downhill! Coach says to use the downhills as a recovery, not to pick up speed. I’m going slow but my heart rate is not going down!
18. Are they planning on having water stations this year?
19. Let’s analyze. It is WAY more humid than you could have expected. You’re at mile 4 and you’re drenched. Your heart rate is where it’s supposed to be at mile 17. You can’t remember your fuel strategy and it’s written right there on your arm. Maybe you should bail.
20. Your family is waiting for you at mile 8. See them first and then re-analyze. Can’t wait to see them!!!
21. I wish I was running the relay. The relay looks fun. The relay looks finished.
22. It’s mile 6 and I’ve already switched to a run/walk method. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
23. Where did my enthusiasm go? It melted. It melted into a puddle at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge.
24. This sweat is disgusting. I renounce my citizenship and choose to stay in Canada at that Tim Horton’s over there. Man, an iced coffee sounds great.
25. Down to the tunnel and over to the States. Oh dear God, it’s not a welcoming warmth this year. It’s stifling. I’m totally anaerobic already.
26. Best part of the tunnel? The literal light at the end of the tunnel.
27. Aww, there’s an announcer and he just said, “Welcome back to the United States, Jennifer Nashif!”. Glad nobody heard me renounce my citizenship.
28. There’s my family! Smile and pretend like I’m totally nailing this marathon thing. Memorize their faces so that I’ll remember them in Heaven.
29. Head down the underpasses. This was supposed to feel better than the first time I ran this route during the half marathon. Alarmingly, it does not.
30. I will learn later that hundreds of runners dropped out between now and mile 13.
31. I’m in a bit of a panic about how hard this is. I can not get into any sort of rhythm. I’m merely surviving from water stop to water stop. The sun is up and the humidity is gross. Maybe bailing is the smarter choice.
32. The best reason to keep going is that my family is here now. Also, I really want to wear that awesome 26.2 jacket that my husband bought for me at the expo. Pretty sure it’s non-refundable.
33. Okay, get a grip. Have a gel, some water, and some electrolyte tablets. Refocus and listen to my playlist of inspirational speeches.
34. Deep breath. I’m convinced. TODAY is my day. It’s going to be hard the whole way through but I’m going to see it the whole way through. These conditions are simply what My Marathon Day holds. They are a part of my future story. Lean in, accept them, and never quit.
35. St. Anne’s is really beautiful. A course volunteer just gave me a boost with her “Go, marathoner! You WILL do this!”. Yes, I will!
36. The sky is growing dark. A little rain would be kind of nice. Only two more miles until I see my family again!
37. Aww, this is the corner where I thought I saw my dad in 2014. So glad that he’s here this year!!
38. Corktown has some pretty houses and very nice spectators. I’m kind of hating those people enjoying brunch at that sidewalk cafe. Whoa, where did that surge of fury come from?
39. Everyone surrounding me is running the International Half. Am I the last marathoner?? Well, there’s something epic about that.
40. “Half marathoners get in the right lane! Full marathoners in the left!”… But there is no one in the left lane. I am literally the only one in the left lane. Hey, it’s my own private race! Sky sure is dark.
41. There’s my family but we’re separated by barricades. Did not realize that ahead of time when I planned out our spots. Dad is holding my bag of rain gear but we can’t get near each other. Oh well, a little water won’t hurt anything.
42. The half marathon clock says what?! Aw, man, someone is going to take some heat for the clock malfunctioning. Unless… it’s… accurate?
43. There were supposed to be porta-potties at mile 14. I’ve waited until now and don’t see any porta-potties! The fact that I’m not bothered by this could indicate that I’m dehydrated. The fact that I’m not bothered by that could indicate that my brain is short on carbohydrates and not working so goodly. The fact that bothered not by that am I not bode well uh oh.
44. I’m half dead and still have another half marathon ahead of me. I can do it by just moving forward as long as it takes. But it’s taking an alarmingly long time.
45. Dear God, are those police cars up ahead of me that are driving super slowly the back of the pack police cars?!? But I’m BEHIND them!
46. I don’t know if these guys are official race volunteers or just angels in disguise. One gave me a bottle of water and said, “Don’t you worry about those cars! Your time doesn’t matter. You just keep going and finish!”. I told him that I fully intended to and he cheered for me.
47. Rain. Well, at least I’ll cool down.
48. Whoo hoo! Passed those police cars AND found the porta-potties! My eyes are stinging from the rain washing the salty sweat onto my eyelashes and into my eyes. This day is brutal.
49. Maybe I’ll just sit in here in the porta potty for a while. No, I won’t.
50. POURING rain. Mile 16. I’m going to be so impressed with myself for gutting out these conditions.
51. There’s my family up ahead. My daughter has a sign with that Mario mushroom guy and “Push here for power”. He looks like he’s bleeding. But as she says, “He’s wet, but he still works… just like you.” Love.
52. Aww, my other daughter runs with me for a bit. I tell her, “Every runner is physically better than I am. But NO ONE is mentally stronger than I am!”
53. Here come the fun beer stations. Coach says no, but I can’t imagine how it could hurt at this point. Still not going to do it because I’m feeling queasy.
54. I was supposed to be picking up the pace by this point, but even with my fun tunes, I just can’t get myself going any faster. Jog/walk… jog/walk…. jog/walk…
55. There is an old man in a chair at the end of a driveway. Gotta get a high five from him. Tell him, “Thank you for being out here.” He says, “Thank YOU for running. I wish I could.”. Humbling.
56. This is really hard. Way, way harder than I expected it to be and I expected it to be hard. I respect the distance. I trained thoroughly. But this is hard.
57. Can I finish?? Nine more miles to go, which is less than double digits. When did I become the sort of person to whom nine miles sounds short? Although today it feels interminable.
58. Aww, it’s the Jelly Bean Man! I tell him that I remember him from last year’s half marathon. Eat one jelly bean and regret it. Save them for the kids.
59. Turn out of Indian Village and now the rain is pouring with no tree cover. The RenCen building is sooo far away. This is either epic or disastrous. Hahaha… this day! I mean, I just can’t even…
60. My feet are squishy now. That’s not going to be good, fancy new wool socks or not.
61. My husband and daughter appear out of nowhere. Are they insane?! Pete wants to give me his hat and Julia, her jacket. It’s too late, but I deeply appreciate the offer.
62. They say they’re going to run with me for a while, to get me to the Belle Isle bridge. They’re here to keep me going. Why is Pete so dang cheerful? I think I love him. They’re getting poured on, too. I love them both.
63. Wave at the others across the street, braving the rains for my sake. I love them all.
64. Ever the mom, I tell them, “Go back to the hotel. Stay dry! Save yourselves! Go have some snacks.”
65. Newly motivated and heading up the bridge to Belle Isle. I’ve got this. I’m going to run faster. I can’t say that I’ve hit a wall. It’s the weather and migraine that have done me in. But only six more miles to go! What’s that? Maybe 10 more hours?
66. Slowly pass older man shuffling along. He’s my hero. I wish I had the energy to tell him so.
67. Haha, my plan called for me to tuck behind other runners on windy Belle Isle. There ARE no other runners. I’m with a handful of half marathon walkers. Seriously, how am I so slow??
68. It hurts my legs worse to walk than it does to run. But it hurts my feet worse to run than walk. Every step feels like I’m landing on glass shards. Glass. shards.
69. There is soon going to come a point where all I can do is walk. That’s okay. It really is okay. I’m going to finish a marathon today. Start to cry with joy. I’ve waited for this day for years. Pain puts an end to the joy.
70. I’m at mile 23. I really am going to finish. This. This is the moment in which I’m changed forever.
71. Shuffle by a group of partying friends who spy my green first-timers bib and cheer enthusiastically. One woman yells, “I can’t believe you have this weather for your first marathon! My name’s Jennifer and I had bad weather the year I did this as my first marathon, too. You’ve got this!” I will always remember her.
72. Go over a timing mat around mile 25 and it looks like the guy is packing it up. I ask him if it’s still on. He says yes and that I’ll definitely finish in time. Every minute counts at this point. (Ha, see point 4 up above.)
73. Up ahead is a race photographer and the guy in front of me waves him off. I wave him towards me. Whoo hoo, zombies have more life in them than I do in me right now, but I can smile for the camera because I am about to FINISH A MARATHON!!! The photographer says, “You don’t look any worse for wear for being out here so long.” That’s a fairly decent compliment. I’ll take it!
74. Cruising along slowly and there’s… my husband and son? Pete says, “You’ve got 10 minutes until they close the course and you have to move to the sidewalks. We’re here to run you in!!”. I tell him to quit telling me to run faster. The pain. It hurts.
75. We make it up Griswold. Is this Griswold? That’s the last little hill, right? I’m at the end, right? Or have I entered some surrealist painting where the roads melt into nowhere…
76. YES, there’s the Finish arch!!!
77. Pick up the pace to try to sprint it in. Why is the finish arch another 26 miles away??
78. I spot my daughter over at the barricade crying hard so I stop to give her a hug. She says, “I’m SO PROUD of you!”. That was worth every second of pain. I could quit now and be happy.
79. Disentangle myself because I’m not going to quit now. That would be stupid.
80. There’s my dad! He says, “Come on, I’ll run along the sidewalk as you finish.” I make a mental note… “Look at your dad running with you to the finish of your first marathon. Remember this moment forever.”
81. Cross the finish line to much cheers and applause in my hallucinations. Smile victoriously with arms upstretched for all of the cameras pointed at me. They had no one else to photograph!!
82. A nice lady puts a medal around my neck and I hug the next volunteer in line. I want to feel emotional about having been here before as the volunteer, but I don’t have the energy to feel much of anything.
83. I’m not the least bit hungry. I just want some chocolate milk. All they have is a bag of pretzels.
84. Attempt to change clothes in the convention center restroom and discover that I can’t bend my limbs. Well, this is awkward.
85. I want to be feeling proud, excited, thrilled, anything as the family and I gather at Five Guys for a celebratory lunch but I’m practically in a catatonic state. I can’t even eat, but at least I can nurse a recovery protein drink.
86. Decide to Google: “When to seek medical care after a marathon” Learn that I’m already dead. Take some Advil.
87. What I do know is what I told so many racers when I was the finish line volunteer four years ago: This pain is temporary but the pride will last forever. I will recover. I set the goal and worked so very hard to earn it. I ran a marathon.