The “Downriver” Half-Marathon

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I really shouldn’t even call this a “race, ” but I worked so hard to train for it that I feel like I should count it, even if it wasn’t an actual race. This was supposed to be the Glass City Half (on Sunday April 26), but because the world has gone crazy, it was cancelled. They offered me the option to run it on my own in exchange for the medal and the shirt, and although at first I was too disappointed to even consider it, eventually I decided that for all the training I had done, I might as well.

The challenge with running a “race” without it actually being a race is that there’s no crowd support, the roads aren’t closed to traffic, and you have to figure out your own course. I knew I was going to run it on Saturday (the day before the actual race would have been held) with my three running partners (Ann, Toddra and Jennifer), and I came up with a course that would allow Ann and Toddra to cut out at about the halfway point, but would also avoid me having to do an actual turnaround. We would start at Ann’s house, then we’d end about 1/3 mile down the road at Jennifer’s house. I couldn’t seem to get the distance to work out if we ended back at Ann’s, but I figured it would simulate the walk back to my car from the finish line, like a real race, ha ha!

I met up with them at 7am Saturday morning at Ann’s house and I took my traditional “pre-race selfie” with Jennifer, maintaining social distancing guidelines. 😛

Isn’t she just the cutest back there? 🙂

We made sure to give ourselves plenty of space between us while we ran. I had told Jennifer, who planned to run the whole thing with me, that I wanted to run around 11-minute miles, but when we got stopped by a traffic light, a fire truck, AND an ambulance within the first two miles, I kind of gave up worrying about my time.

I actually did pretty well for the first six miles, and in fact, besides the intersection mentioned above, I didn’t even stop until we got to the end of mile 7. After we dropped Ann and Toddra back at the starting point, Jennifer and I headed north my hometown, and by the time I got to Eureka, I really had to go to the bathroom. (Too much water, damn it!) I stopped on a main road for a minute, when I thought I might go into a Dunkin Donuts (but of course they were closed), and then I ended up calling my mom and alerting her that I was going to stop by. She was so thrilled to be my “pit stop.”

Masks on for safety!

I ended up staying way too long at her place (because my mom loves me and was trying to find things to help make my race experience more pleasant, ha ha). My right knee was hurting as we continued through my hometown and then back toward Jennifer’s house (our finish line). The knew was a known injury I’d been feeling for a couple of days; I had been walking out to the barn when it suddenly started hurting for no apparent reason. It wasn’t terrible at that point, though…just a nagging pain.

I was doing okay until I got to about mile 10.5, and then I had a sudden, sharp pain my LEFT knee (seriously? WTH?!). I literally stopped in my tracks at the pain. I walked for a while but by that point I was SO close to being done (less than three miles), I knew I wasn’t going to stop. Jennifer was so great; she didn’t push me but just kept encouraging me and telling me to take it easy when I had to.

I trudged along and was thankful for Jennifer telling me stories about her family and people she knew in the neighborhood (the same neighborhood in the town just south of mine, where I used to bike in when I was a kid!). I think the cement was a major factor in the knee pain, because for the few seconds we were running on a wooden bridge over the creek by the golf course, my knee didn’t hurt!

I trudged back along the route I’d designed to get us to 13.1 miles, which would allow us to end at Jennifer’s house. I had to stop a few times because I was tired and in pain, but then we ended up having to go farther because my measurements were off. (Why is it always that way?!) When we finally got back to Jennifer’s street (same street as Ann’s), I tried to convince Jennifer that we should finish at Ann’s house instead (so I wouldn’t have to walk back to my car), but she didn’t even say anything. She just turned left, which mean we were heading toward her house. I groaned a bit.

When we rounded the last corner, I saw why Jennifer wouldn’t let me finish at Ann’s house–Ann, Toddra, and Toddra’s nine-year-old son had a “finish line” waiting for me, ha ha!

I have the best friends!

After such a tough, disappointing “race,” that totally made my day! Even though I was tired and my knee hurt, I still managed to find enthusiasm to finish with a smile.

I broke the tape, so that means I won, right? 😀

They even made sure I had a cold bottle of water to drink in my post-race recovery.

I didn’t even care that they forgot my post-race banana. 😀

I sent my result (a very slow 2:34:39) to the race directors, and they are supposed to be sending me my shirt and medal. The marathoners’ gear is being mailed first, though, so I just have to be patient. Not that I’m going anywhere to show it off, right?

So, all in all, even though this is my worst “non-pacing” half marathon time, it was definitely my favorite race because of my friends, who ran with me and cared enough to make it a great experience. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

PS: I suppose I should explain for those who aren’t from Southeast Michigan: Downriver is the name of the region located south of the city of Detroit; it is where I grew up and where most of my family still lives. It’s very blue-collar and traditionally was very Italian and Polish, though that’s changed a lot in recent years. Although I now live in the next county south, I am still a proud Downriver girl at heart.

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