The Detroit Marathon Relay Race Report
Bottom line: Detroit did!
Things have been moving in a weird other worldly time warp around here. Officially, I am “working” from home. How perceptive of you to notice the qualifiers attached to “working”. (See, there they are again!) Unofficially, my “work” consists of me tidying up the basement, building a cheap Sauter brand desk, running my TV cable lines (priority!), and exhausting at least two cans of Lysol all over the strange oozes along the floor trim which I’m pretty sure contain the swine flu origins. At least, when I dabbed my finger into it and tasted it, it sure tasted like the swine flu. A lot like chicken. And now, my index finger, tongue and bottom lip have herpes. Is that a symptom?
This past Sunday, me, my brother, a friend and the lovely Mrs. Nitmos took to the streets of Detroit for a run. Now, it’s not unusual to run while on the streets of Detroit. That’s often how it’s recommended that you get from point A to point B on the city tourist guide. However, this was for a relay race.
Here’s the team breakdown: me, my friend (a one time marathoner but multiple time 5k and 10k’er), my brother (first race ever – didn’t train any further than 2 miles and not since July), and Mrs. Nitmos (first race ever and – despite a hip injury – was able to get in good training.) You may recall that our fifth relayer had to pull out when he selfishly shoved his face into an ATV dash and tree while tossing his co-riding daughter to the side to save her from injury. Jerk. Hope your selfish ribs and selfish broken jaw heal.
We knew we’d finish but were not too optimistic of a top time. Not that it mattered. Since we were in the “Open Mixed” category which requires three penises and two uteruses (at a minimum), we were expressly told that we could participate but not place. As a team, we were one uterus short of official qualification.
Legs 1 & 2: 12.2 miles (Me)
Leg 3: 6.6 miles (Friend)
Leg 4: 3.0 miles (Mrs. Nitmos)
Leg 5: 4.4 miles (Brother)
The great thing about a relay is sharing the event with friends and family. But, unlike other relays where everyone piles into a sweatlodge magic bus filled with stank and communicable diseases, this relay involved the team members taking separate buses to their assigned leg start and then waiting patiently with strangers for their teammate to arrive. You really only see your teammate in passing. And through the magic of cell phones.
I must admit that I lucked out. The first two legs are the most scenic: over the bridge into Windsor with the oddly beautiful sight of downtown Detroit off on your left*, through cheering Canadians**, and then back into Detroit by way of the underwater tunnel, around Joe Louis arena, and up into Corktown to Michigan Avenue arriving back near the finish line area for the leg #3 exchange. No bus ride for me!
I had put 4 hours down as our expected finish time – anticipating someone else taking the first leg – which placed me in a pace group at the start going a bit slower than I wanted. After the bridge bottle neck, I had a lot of time to make up in order to make my goal of 7 minute miles. Here are the splits for your perusing boredom:
Mile 1: 7:23 (Not too bad but lots of side to side running around people)
Mile 2: 7:18
Mile 3: 7:56 (Bottle neck as we smash together into one lane for the bridge on ramp)
Mile 4: 7:41 (I’m dying inside…get me over this bridge!!)
Mile 5: 6:13 (Off the bridge and flying down the off ramp in Canada)
Mile 6: 6:40
Mile 7: 6:37
Mile 8: 6:20 (Underwater tunnel!)
Mile 9: 6:20 (Around Joe Louis arena)
Mile 10: 6:26 (Lots of time to make up…get on your horse!)
Mile 11: 6:36
Mile 12: 6:28
Last ½ mile: 2:58 (6:00 pace!)
Officially: 12.2 miles in 1:24:56 (around 6:58 pace)
My Garmin recorded 12.5 miles instead of 12.2. Part of that was probably due to the side to side weaving through traffic.
Friend kept the momentum going and knocked out his 6.6 miles at goal pace (just under an hour) then handed off to Mrs. Nitmos.
The unfortunate part of our leg assignments was that I would not see Mrs. Nitmos on the course. (Fingers crossed for a photographer on her leg!) She completed her 3.03 miles (according to mapmyrun) at goal pace of 10 minute miles! A huge accomplishment for her as she’d never run at all prior to a couple of months ago.
After three hours of waiting, my brother, who had read the newspaper front to back at least three times by then, took the hand off from Mrs. Nitmos. Unbeknownst to her, the adventure was just beginning.
Through all of the exchanges, we kept in touch by phone. I waited at the finish sipping nice warm coffee (it was 29 degrees at the start but warmed to about 40 by the time our last relayer took the exchange) and watching overall winners come in. Friend had just arrived back at the finish when I received word that Mrs. Nitmos was on the bus heading back. I was settling in for a 20 minute wait for Brother to bring us home when….
Brother comes heading into the home stretch! Holy shit we are ahead of schedule. He finishes. We are altogether…except for Mrs. Nitmos.
Where is she?
Turns out, she’s on Hellbus. The driver took them for a spin on the highway completely lost. They should not have been on the highway. Then, back in town, couldn’t find the drop off zone. He’s refusing to open the doors a few blocks away from the finish and is instead circling and circling Detroit searching for the drop zone with an increasingly agitated group of runners who are, by the minute, receiving phone calls from their team that they have missed the finish. Time goes by. Phone calls are made. Mrs. Nitmos informs me that a near melee is breaking out on the bus. People are yelling at the bus driver and threatening him with physical abuse. An hour has gone by (the bus had to drive no more than 3 miles.) I can hear the shouts in the background of our phone conversation and I’m getting a bit concerned for Mrs. Nitmos. She tells me people are pounding on the bus windows whenever they see a street cop to try to get some help to GET THEM OFF THE DAMN BUS. Threats are made. A stabbing seems eminent.
Finally, the bus driver defies his radio bosses orders and opens the door. He tells his boss that he’s afraid for his safety and he’s letting people off. He never did find the drop zone.
We reunite with Mrs. Nitmos.
Despite the Hellbus experience, Mrs. Nitmos seems to have enjoyed the event. The team is thrilled. We ended with these numbers:
Steers Long Distance Project
Place: 18th(!) of 244 in Open Mixed; 66th of 629 of ALL relay divisions
I’m very proud of Mrs. Nitmos. Hopefully, she’ll consider doing another relay in the future! Considering we had two first time runners, this went about as well as we could have hoped.
Except for the bus ride.
* Detroit is pretty cool the more you squint at it.
** “Looking good, eh!”
Obviously, I am aware of the 3 fatalities that day. Though I didn’t know any of the people who died, some other parents from my son’s soccer team did know one of the gentlemen. And though I finished near mile marker 12 at nearly the same time as one of the fatalities was occurring at this same location, I did not see or hear about any of it until much later in the day.