"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? ... So use every part of your body to give glory back to God..." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon: The Obnoxious Runner

We headed down to Detroit Saturday night. Team Harless style. 1 room at the Holiday Inn with mom, dad and the boys.

We got to The Expo around 5pm and the line was the longest I have ever stood in. Mom and dad took the boys while we chatted it up with other runners in line. When we arrived at the booth to get our bib the lady working said "You BOTH have been randomly selected by Customs. Please head over to Customs and they will give you your bib." I wondered if it had anything to do with running Boston but Andy said "No, it is RANDOM!"
"Random that we BOTH got pulled?!" I replied.

We ate at Pizza Pappalis like we often do before this race and then over stuffed headed across the street to Astoria Bakery. The entire experience is so wonderful. We were glutton's. We could hardily move from Chicago style pizza but manage to not only find the means to stagger over to the bakery but we also found a way to indulge in oversized desserts. We wait until we get back to the hotel room so we can get all comfy in our pjs and eat until we want to puke. Somewhere in the middle of our dessert we all decide it isn't as good as it looked however we still polish it off. We eat so bad that I know that my race is going to be 13 miles of gurgly belly.
None of us slept well. Dad snored through his C-pap machine and Andy had the room hotter than Haiti's.  I was wide awake at 4am. I just laid there until I realized I wasn't the only one awake.

It was a relatively easy morning. Our hotel was closer to the starting line therefore we were not crunched for time.

Even though it was only 42 degrees it didn't feel to cold walking to our corral. Andy was in Corral F and I was in Corral C. We prayed with the family and separated into the massive crowd of runners.

This year has been a big year for me with races. This race was Andys Race. He had trained all year for this ONE Race. Every year this race comes around Andy has been injured. This year he wasn't injured and was going to run hard enough that he wasn't going to feel bad if he got injured!

The crowds of people fill you with such emotion. It is contagious. As the announcer is giving the countdown we are scuffling our way in between the runners in our corral. Every breath you inhale is the air of nerves, excitement, anxiety and adrenaline. It is pumping through your veins with the sites, smells and sounds surrounding you.

I brought my camera with me in hopes of actually being able to photo journal some of the race.

Andys goal was to run 1H:55min for the Half.
My Goal was to Pace him there. To encourage him and kick him in the rear when he needed it.

The bullhorn went OFF!
Everyone hit their watches in our corral as we slowly made our way to the starting mats.

When running  Detroit Half Marathon I have it set up into 3 parts.
1: Start to the Bridge
2: Bridge to the Tunnel
3. Tunnel to the Finish.


The crowds were tight but not unmanageable. The first thing I noticed was the increase in spectators. I LOVE spectators.
The first mile always feels so foreign. There are so many runners it is hard to pace yourself properly. I stayed close to Andy . Being smaller than Andy I was able to weave easily through allowing him to follow my path. Andy was in good spirits despite his dread coming at mile 3: The Ambassador Bridge. Because it was so dark I couldn't see our pace and just wanted him to trust me. What I did see were flying clothes everywhere.
As we came up to the bridge the Border Patrol were out greeting the runners. I flung my hand up and yelled "Come on Don't leave me HANGING!"
Within seconds I was getting high fives from all the men in suits!

The sky was lighting up as we headed to the bridge. It was looming in front of us. I personally HATE driving over bridges but I LOVE running across them!
Slowing our pace down a bit I could hear a lot of heavy breathing. People were not laughing a lot as they scaled the bridge. I was so happy I was not racing this.
I had a little more wind in me to stop and take a couple pictures then catch back up to Andy.
Andy looked good. The great thing about the bridge is WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN! Although we lost a some time going up we regained it going down.

The Bridge was Andy BIGGEST concern but now he was thinking about the tunnel. I personally LOVE the tunnel.
The tunnel was about 4 miles away. I was going to try and get Andy back into a groove and maintain a steady pace with the hopes to bank some extra time in case he had a hard time in the tunnel.
The crowds were incredible this year. As we ran through Canada I flew both my hands in the air boasting the crowds to wake UP! "Wake UP Canada!!" I yelled. Andy actually encouraged me to get the crowds going. I was loving this. At first they looked at me like I was a nut job then they all caught on and starting laughing and cheering the runners on.
As we ran along the water over to the left I noticed HULK HOGAN!
Andy says "Nita, look at that it's Hulk Hogan!" Very loudly I screamed " Check it out, we are running with Hulk Hogan!" The runners alongside of us all saw him to only now they were engaging in the fun. "Oh Man I got to get a picture! I yelled. I increased my pace to get in front of him while Andy got close to him for the photo. Everyone was laughing as I ran ahead. I heard someone shout "HEY WHATCHA running so fast for this aint a RACE!!" It was fun to see all the runners having fun together.

At mile 7 we began to approach the tunnel. Andy was looking forward to coming out of the tunnel to be greeted by Team Harless.
Going into the tunnel I was feeling my lungs going. I love hollering in the tunnel. Everyone does it. I belted out a shout only the sound that came out sounded like a wounded dog. Feeling embarrassed I decided to try again only use my voice. "WOO HOO!!" I barked perfectly. It was joined with dozens of others barking and screaming.
Andy and I found ourselves behind the 8:47 pace group. Because you cant get satellite in the tunnel Andy suggested we stay close behind them to pace us out.
I love when you make that slight turn and see the light coming in from outside.
I just know what waits on the other side: The CROWD!
Andy was edging me on "Oh No Nita, DO Your thing!!" We came out and made a little turn and there they were, more spectators than I have EVER seen. Like a bull out of the pen I went crazy raising my hands and challenging the crowds. "COME ON DETROIT!!" , "LETS Go DETROIT!!" and so many hands came out that I could hardly keep up with the high fives.
I lost track of Andy in the excitement and heard him yelling at me from the left. As I looked over I saw him running towards our family. They were full of smiles and hugs, dad had the camera and Austin had a grin from ear to ear. I knew they were so proud of Andy. He was a couple minutes ahead of his time. I was so proud of him.

As we left them I asked Andy how he was doing. He replied "It is great that you are boasting the crowd that really helps the runners."
I knew it was really helping Andy. In real life Andy gets mortified when I speak to strangers.  He is such an introvert. Painfully shy.
The course is a little different this year. This year you run underneath a large overpass. People were lined up on both sides of the road and all across the over pass. It was nothing shy of awesome. I had a little voice left. I was hooting and hollering. I was raising the roof and throwing back some high fives. I loved the little kids. When you bend down to give them a high five they look at you like a superstar! It was like a wave. Once you got the first one energized everyone down the line got pumped!
Coming to mile 10 I checked in on Andy. "How ya doing Andy?" I glanced at my watch noticing we were still making really good time. Andy replied " I am starting to feel it."
"Well you can bring it down a little bit if you like, You have some time banked and you are running a 8:30 pace." I said with encouragement.
"NO, I think I can carry this, I think I can do this, Can YOU bring me in at a 8:35?"

Andy didn't give any more high fives. He got really quiet. I grabbed his water at the water stations and offered him chews.
At mile 11 I saw a pocket of spectators so I engaged in a little more fun hoping it would give Andy a  bit more adrenalin. A lady comes up to me and says "I love your energy, thank you."
I looked over at Andy to see he was digging deep. "Anita, it is gone, I can feel my back cramping up."
Seeing his seriousness I said, "Do you want to bring it down a little bit?"
With just enough energy to reply Andy responds "NO, I am going to race this!"
Playtime was OVER. "OK then ANDY, lets do this." I continued with "Give ARIEL mile 12. That is her MILE."

Approaching mile 12 Andys IT Band was toast. He was running well. I prayed over him and tried to coach him in.
"Come on Andy, You are almost there. DIG in." I coaxed.
With less than a half a mile, the brick road underneath our feet reminded me of the CRIM. This was such a great portion of the race as well. The Bricks were a reminder we were almost finished.
My last words to Andy were "DO NOT REGRET any STEPS. Do NOT GRIEVE over Lost time!"

Seeing the finish I could feel Andy increasing his pace. I looked down at my watch and saw a sub 8 minute pace.
"Come On Andy!"
They announced Andy over the sound system at the same time as we saw mom, dad and the boys. It was a perfect stretch to the finish.
We raised our hands in the air as we crossed the finish. It was perfect.

The volunteers put our medals on. I got an extra medal for Ariel. Andy saw this commenting "That's my medal for Ariel."
Last year I ran the Detroit Marathon for the first time. I had trained so hard. My niece was killed tragically less than 10 days before. My niece was like the daughter I never had. My entire world fell apart. I ran last year for HER. I still have no idea how I finished.
This year ANDY ran for HER.

Time: 1:52:58
"KEEP GOING, KEEP GOING, THATS WHAT SHE SAID"  (a bit inappropriate but so funny!"
"WTF...Where's the Finish!"
"You needed COURAGE to START, You Need STRENGTH to FINISH!"
Great Job Detroit! Thanks to the Awesome volunteers.
It was great to see KEN Volunteering at mile 9.
Awesome race to all those who ran it, Andy and Mary Ann J, Ken H, Hannah and Patty . Jama had a amazing race. Also great job to first time marathoner Rachael! And Dan B who also ran the marathon.
I wish I would have seen Dawn and Michelle B.
Congrats to everyone!



  1. Nice job! I need you to pace me someday :D
    My favorite sign was on a man's back: My doctor said I couldn't run. My God said 'Have faith in me.'"

    1. HI Michelle! I love that quote. I may have to steel that! I was hoping to see you. It seems that every year this race gets bigger and bigger. The crowds were the best ever!