Sunday October 15, 2017 was the day. It was 7am at the start line in downtown Detroit, MI, 70 F, and quite humid. The day was finally here- after 3 months of training, I was going to complete my second half marathon of 2017, my 5th ever half marathon, and my first race outside the U.S.
The race opened with the U.S. national anthem and then the Canadian national anthem. This may have been my first time hearing the Canadian national anthem. This was the 40th Detroit Free Press Half Marathon so that made it even more special for me. The coolest part, and the major reason I signed up for this race, was getting to run into Canada via the Ambassador bridge and coming back to the U.S. via the tunnel. 13.1 miles of running fun; I just wasn’t bargaining for a start of 70 F. You have to take what race day brings you and make the best of it.
The whole week leading to race day, I checked the weather forecast obsessively. We got emails about potential cancellations. Even until the day before (and maybe morning of?) it called for rain and thunderstorms but thankfully, it was dry throughout my time running. The full marathoners weren’t so lucky though.
This was a very fun race for me. Sure, running over the bridge was challenging- hills are my kryptonite. However, once I was at the very top, it got much better. It was also cool to see the sun rising while crossing the bridge. Running through the tunnel on the other hand, was a little weird and I was glad to get out and get a great big gulp of FRESH air. Being welcomed back to the U.S. by so many people cheering made me feel like I was some great hero that just conquered the meanest villain and saved America.
Surprisingly, the immigration logistics weren’t too bad. Smoother than I had hoped. So if this is one of the things holding you back from running this race, don’t let it stop you. Just make sure you have a passport and can legally return to the U.S. when you leave. Oh, and you may need a Canadian visa too- depending on your situation. But really, it is quite a fun and unique way to run a race.
From the get go, the heat was on so I pushed through really hard. I tried my best to keep hydrated and I also had energy gels on me. Hunger was not an issue on this race, unlike my previous half marathon. I started slow, just like the articles online advised, but unfortunately, I ended up not picking up speed like they promised would happen. I guess it doesn’t happen automatically, you do have to run faster. lol.
I ended up running about 10 min/mile +/- 10 seconds throughout the race so I’d say A+ for precision :). It wasn’t a P.R. but I felt great about the race and had a lot of fun and that was really all I was hoping for. My predicted time based on my training plan – a new training method I tried this summer (Lydiard) was about 2 hours 10 mins and I ran 2 hours 12 minutes and 8 seconds.
After the race, I got a free massage and a decent bathroom to change into clean, dry clothes thanks to the VIP package I received as a perk for signing up for this training program. I also got hot food, a cool t-shirt, and a backpack so it was a great post race experience too!
I really liked the medal from this race. I’m not sure if it’s the same design every year but I liked that it had both the U.S. and Canada flag elements on it.
Afterwards, I walked around Detroit downtown a bit and waited with a few friends who were cheering on one of their coworkers who was running the full marathon with his dad.
We went out to get some food and hang out a little more and by then, my eyes were getting a little heavy. I decided to call it a night.
Thus is how my first international half marathon went. So maybe a full marathon next? Maybe an entire race in a different country without crossing borders mid race? We’ll see!