Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 Detroit Marathon Report: Not to C

The question in my last post was To C or not to C?

The answer? Not to C….officially.

Unofficially, I fought off the cramps like a cramp fighting mofo from their first twinge at 19.5 miles through to the finish.

But let’s talk in typical linear race reports detail fashion as I know that’s what most of you are used to and I don’t want to confuse anyone by jumping around all non-linearly…like a Savlador Dali warped rhombus or something.

The Arrival

Can you say clusterf*ck? I can. It’s spelled D-E-T-R-O-I-T city streets. We arrived downtown at 6:15 for a 7:10 start. And then crept along at roughly 4 winos per 15 minute pace for the next 40 minutes until runners everywhere, including myself, jumped out of our cars in the middle of the street to run to the start line. I felt sorry for the runners who were driving themselves and couldn’t leave the car idling next to Bummy McCarjack. Did they make it to the start in time? Who knows? Good luck, Mrs. Nitmos and kids, I don’t envy you continuing to “drive” in that mess.

The Get Go

I don’t know if a race horse really has to urinate badly. It’s a long held belief that people have to “piss like a race horse”. If so, count me in. There was no chance to get through the port-a-potty line in time so I decided to find one on the course. Starting in corral B, I should be able to get to one before a line developed. Alas, I had forgotten the pre-race gift from Steer Tange which would have solved that problem (more on that in the next post).

Off we go, down past old Tiger Stadium, around mile 1, which is partially demolished. A tear welled up and promptly froze on my cheek on mid face descent. It was mid 30’s at race start.

No port-a-potties.

Over the Ambassador Bridge at mile 3. This was a highlight. Looking to my left, the Detroit skyline was illuminated by the rising sun. I’m now convinced any city looks beautiful off in the distance with a new sun behind it. This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen during a marathon. No jokes. It really was neat.

Into Canada off the bridge and wrapping around to the riverfront. It’s funny, the Canadians looked just like us. I didn’t expect Centaurs but, you know, something different.* Detroit still on my left as we go along the river for about 3 miles. The miles are flying by. I feel great. In fact, I have to remind myself to pull back as a few of the miles dipped below 7 minutes here and I wanted to maintain 7:10/mile through the first 16 miles or so.

Into the underwater tunnel for the return trip to the U.S. It’s warm in the tunnel but, you know, pretty cool also so I barely noticed. It’s one mile long. I don’t know what I clocked but probably close to a 7 minute mile here which will be printed onto an Underwater Mile certificate I’ll receive in the (e)mail some day, as I understand it.

Back in the U.S.S.R **

Finally, a port-a-potty just after the tunnel. If there was one before this point, I don’t remember seeing it. I jump in and unleash the stream. My internal waste management system and I have had a long and stormy relationship. Of course, I’m hoping for a quick expelling and back onto the course. Does it cooperate? Well, at some point, I remember looking down at the non-stop stream and muttering out loud ‘I always knew you hated me. Why are you doing this now? End already. I’ll pinch you off. I really will.’ Meanwhile, roughly 17.5 million runners passed by and Garmin leaped forward about 47 minutes. I might be exaggerating.

Back on the course and peeling off miles like a race horse. A different kind of race horse this time. I crossed the half mat at 1:33:02. I was seeking 1:34 so I’m pretty happy here and feeling strong. But I always feel strong at this point. Trouble lurks ahead. To C or not to C?

Can I have Seconds?

The second half of the race poses some challenges. Less crowd support. A three mile jaunt on Belle Isle which is the caving point for many a participant in this race, or so I’ve been warned.

I start popping some Endurolyte salt capsules I brought along for the first time for this race at 16 miles. I’m digging them out of my Ziploc sandwich bag while running along the Detroit riverfront walk in full view of two police officers who must be considering what this person is doing with a sack full of pills. Images flash through my mind of being tackled over the railing into the Detroit River Miami Vice style.

Until the 17 mile mark, every mile has been at 7:17 or less.

Ring the Belle

I had been warned multiple times that the 3 mile loop on Belle Isle is tough. It’s the most difficult mentally. It’s windy. There’s not much crowd support. At 17 miles, we entered Belle Isle and I was feeling like I could run all day.

Having never been to Belle Isle before, I was checking the park out. I was still pacing in the 7:15-7:25 range. The 3 miles went by in a flash. I don’t know what the concern was here. For me, it was a great break in a “normal” marathon road miles.

The only down side was just before leaving the island. I felt the familiar grab in my lower left leg. The beginnings of a calf cramp at mile 19.5. Crap.

Don’t Sell Myself Short

I was determined to fight the cramps off as long as I could. I had latched onto the back of this short, body builder looking dude running a nice pace. I immediately judged him as probably having a Napoleon complex but figured I’d pace behind him as long as I could before passing him and slapping him on top of the head with a hearty ‘Way to go, Spanky!’.

Coming off of Belle Isle I got an unexpected motivational boost. Brian Sell, A Brooks-Hanson team member and one of our U.S. Olympic team marathoners from Beijing, was stationed at the 20 mile marker. I recognized him immediately as I approached. He was standing with a group of folks in red jackets just past the bridge. He looked at my bib, saw my name, pumped his fist and yelled “Go Mike Go!”.*** And how can you not put a little jump in your step when one of the worlds finest marathoners just called you out by name?

My whitehead is oozing all over the course. I’m being swept down the road on a river of diseased skin pore secretion. I’ve run the race I wanted if I can just keep the cramps away. At 20 miles, I’m at 2:23:40.

I followed Napoleon for the next 3 miles. Each mile in the 7:30 range. I’m in full on War of Post mode. I have several minutes banked for a BQ. I fully accept that running negative splits is the preferred marathon method. At the 21 mile marker though, there is simply no way I’m speeding up. But I am drawing inspiration from the knowledge that I’m way ahead of BQ pace. Between miles 21-23, I challenged Napoleon but immediately felt a grab in the calves each time. Just run, baby, at a nice easy pace. The legs are not allowing sub 7:30 miles at this point even though, cardio vascular-wise I feel great.

The 3:10 pace team passed me at mile marker 23. I secretly wanted to beat 3:10. I stepped it up in a vain attempt to keep pace, watched my left leg kick out to the side in a cramp, and decided, no, I’m happy at the pace I’m at.

Mile 24 Napoleon started pulling away. Mile 24 and 25 were my worst at 8:06 and 8:13 respectively.

Rounding the corner to the finish, I knew I was close to a PR if I could give one last burst. The BQ was in the bag. I decided to give what I had. What I had was 2 fast steps and then both legs cramped and kicked off to the side like the worst Rockette audition in history. Nope. I’ll just finish the race and call it a day.

I crossed officially in 3:12:29. My PR is 3:12:19.

10 lousy seconds. Oh, well.

I didn’t cramp out to the point of ruining my race.

I BQ’ed again.

I’m quite content with that.

Some things you may be wondering about: I did, in fact, actually spoon Mrs. Nitmos at the finish. There is a photo somewhere once I find it. My stallion arrived in the form of a Chevy Equinox which did transport me to the nearest Applebee’s. ****

More thoughts and amusing tales in the days ahead as I confined this entry to just the Detroit Marathon itself. Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post.

Numbers? Yes, numbers.

3:12:29 time
7:21 pace

192nd / 12,584 total runners
26th / 940 in age group

Note: These placement numbers look off to me (as in Too High) but that is what is published as of now but may be subject to change. We'll go with it for now.

Happy trails.

* Just teasing, Canadians. I know you don't look like half-man, half horse beasts. But no tails did surprise me.
** As in Back in the United States for Some more Racing.
*** I don't put "Nitmos" on race bib. Otherwise I just know some jerkwad will say "Go, Nitwit, Go!" which is not nearly as motivational as you might guess.
****And the "nearest Applebee's" was, in fact, my filly's two soccer games which we hopped in the car to get home just in time for her to play. And she scored 5 more goals in the 1st quarter of one of the games!


Marcy said...

CONGRATS homie!! Just another day, and another BQ ;-) If only it were so easy for the rest of us :P You did AWESOME! 29th out of 940?!?!? Dayum!

Port-a-pots?!? I'm surprised you didn't pull out the ziploc bag midrun, urinate, and then throw it at the runner ahead of you :P

Unknown said...

Farout on USSR - I was like.. WTF? Now it makes sense. I like that... Man.. man.. man... 3:12 That is freaking AWESOME. Hat off to you for completing the race with a "C". WTG, dude !!!

Meg said...

Congratulations! That is awesome, I'm glad to hear you had such a good race!

Wendy said...

That is awesome! GREAT JOB!!

Aron said...

CONGRATS!!!! you ran an amazing race!! awesome job on another BQ!

C said...

Congrats on BQing once again! Fabulous run. Just sorry the calves wouldn't let you go all out in the end.

And another congrats to your filly. What an athlete she is!

As always, condolences to Mrs Nitmos for having to put up with the post-race spooning. yikes!

Al's CL Reviews said...

Congratulations! Very impressive.

Unknown said...

Awesome job and thanks for the recap!

That is so cool that Brian Sell called you out by name!!! And you did wonderful despite the cramps.

Ian said...

You couldn't find 11 more seconds in there somewhere?

Congrats on a great race and on BQing!

tfh said...

192 out of 12,594 AND Brian Sell cheering for you by name?

Great (practically) c-free race, super BQ. Sounds like all you need for a PR is to become a little more comfortable with the idea of peeing your pants.

Re: the filly, WOW! Was she trying to make your accomplishment pale in comparison?

Jess said...

Congrats on an awesome race and another BQ!

Also congrats to your daughter for another awesome soccer game!

Vava said...

Fantastic! Well done Nitmos! Another PR like performance, cramps and all. The 3:10 mark is definitely in jeopardy in a future race. Great report!

From: friendly and furry Canuck.

Jennifer Burgett said...

Great race!!!!

Razz said...

Nicely done, sir! Now, how about running my marathon for me? I'll give you a dollar and you can punch Vanilla for me.

Unknown said...

Yeah Nitmos! Great report. But you KNOW it was the port-o-potty stop that kept you from your PR, right? Couldn't you just slowly release it down your leg? Would have made the apres-race spooning with Mrs. Nitmos all the more special :)

Unknown said...

I'm guessing that at you pit stop that stream lasted for right around 11 seconds.

Awesome run and great BQ! I wish it was that easy for me. I set my half PR this year with the same pace you just ran the full in. Maybe next year. :)

Jeff said...

Way to go Nitmos.

I suspect you could have made up the 10 seconds if you had tried to hold off the potty break like a kindergartener afraid to raise his hand. That would've certainly sped you up!

Fun Guv said...

Great job, saw you wiz by a couple of hundred yards before the finish line. Got a great in stride shot, will email it to you.

Mike & I were looking at the numbers last night too and were confused. The 12,584 includes all runners, 1/2, 5K, & full marathon. there is a way to find out how many ran just the marathon, then how many ran by gender, then again by age...that might help

Kristina said...

I stalked you on the results page of the marathon site and have been waiting for your report. Congrats on the BQ, except now I'll have to change my big sign to "Go Mike," since you only now tell us you don't like "Nitwit."
Hoping all these BQs in the blogosphere are an omen...

Teacher Pursuits said...

Seriously!? You are super fast... PRs are overrated. :)

Aileen said...

Congratulations on an awesome race and ANOTHER BQ! I'd settle with one in my lifetime.

It's so cool that Brian Sell was there...he seems like a cool guy. And he cheered for you! Very cool!

Spike said...

glad the cramps were kept a bay, and that the war of posts pulled you through! congrats on another BQ and a great race report.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

You know you're reading a post chockfull o' amazing accomplishments when the progeny's 5 goals sneak in only by way of footnote.

Congratulations, Nitmos!

Great post. Even greater race. The rest is silence.

Lily on the Road said...

Holy popping whiteheads!

You are fast despite the "peeing like a race horse" conundrum!! That alone added 10 seconds which I assume felt like 10 minutes to your race time!

Good job Nitmos, and again Mrs. are an Angel!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow good job! Boston '09?

S said...

Congrats on an amazing run! And double congrats for BQing.

Also...your filly ROCKS!

Unknown said...

Very well done! Not to C really worked out well. Get some rest and recover well.

I hope you find an Appleby's soon.

Charlotte said...

Congrats on running a great race!! I'm way impressed you beat those cramps back and still finished so well. And thanks for filling me in on the peeing thing - you know I have a weird fascination with athlete's bodily fluids. Yeah, that came out sounding way creepier than I intended...

Cindy said...

way to go on your time and another BQ! all that AND you went to your daughter's soccer game. i'm thoroughly impressed.

Marathon Maritza said...

way to kick ass, dude!!! Nice job covering Detroit with your zit juice!! I'm thinking now it knows who's the boss...and it ain't Tony Danza.

You rock!

Marlene said...

AMAZING! Congrats on your killer time and another BQ... 10 seconds is a little panful but at least the evil C's didn't screw you over. Great job and love the report, as always!

Anonymous said...

really? i don't know if i could run ONE mile at a 7:21 pace. ugh. congrats!

Anonymous said...

On Saturday evening I told you that I thought you had a 3:11 in you on Sunday. Obviously you wanted to prove me wrong.

Steer Tange gives good and practical gifts and you chose not to use it. How much time did that cost you?

Then you stopped for a while just past the tunnel to warm up in the POJ.

Are you sure that Napoleon's name isn't "Mike" and that Sell was talking to him and not you?

Nice race, but I expected more out of you.

Melanie said...

DANG. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Daaaamn you're fast. Congratulations!! So when's the next marathon?

AddictedToEndorphins said...

You're amazing. What's your secret. Really? Seriously.

Congrats on the fantastic race. And thanks for the timely race report.

Anonymous said...

I bow to your greatness. Great job, congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great race! Us mere mortals are in awe... Good job on BQing again.

And WTG, to your filly on the soccer goals. She rocks!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on another BQ finish!

Marci said...

Our tails appear only after midnight and the fourth Tuesday of the month, :)

Seriously, congratulations! You train hard, and you put out amazing race time. Well done!

KimsRunning said...

I am so happy for you! Your time does not surprise me one bit. You are a true athlete. But you know what impressed me the most? You ran a fantastic marathon and still went to your daughter's soccer game. THAT brought tears to my eyes. You may be a fine athlete, but you're an even finer Dad. Congratulations on both accomplishments Nitmos. I need a tissue please.

Unknown said...

You weren't the only one who said Detroit was fustercluck this year.
Outstanding effort!

joyRuN said...

Congrats on another BQ!! Too cool about Brian Sell :)

Did you thank Napoleon for the tantalizing a** that you followed for how many miles?

The Laminator said...

Congrats on your BQ! Nice way to hold off the C's. Outstanding effort.

Anonymous said...

If they didn't have tails, they aren't really Canadians. Really. We all have them... they keep us warm in winter.

Congrats on the BQ...

Turi Becker said...

Ok, yeah, great race. Isn't BQing kind of "last year" these days, though? What you NEED to do is run another marathon in a couple weeks - like Viper. Heh.

Paul said...

The phrase "Pee Clearly, Pee Often, PR" certainly didn't apply to you on Sunday. I've read accounts of runners 'voiding' on the fly. Dude, you had a 1 MILE TUNNEL!

Great effort Mike. Here's to no Cs on Patriot's Day.

Btw, "Knights Who Say Nitmos" would be my rallying cry if I saw that on your bib.

Oh yeah, as an employee of Weight Watchers may I point out that the fine Applebee's establishment proudly serves a healthy selection of Weight Watchers approved meals?

Brianna said...

Congrats on your BQ! Bummer about those 10 seconds - I'm sure it had nothing at all to do with the layover in the port-a-potty. Imagine what the race would have been like WITHOUT that lovely little box for your relief. Yikes!

I'm amazed that you did the marathon AND still were able to watch your filly's game. You should get some sort of super dad award for that one.

Enjoy your post marathon week.

Oh, and your Canadian comments are rare gems. I'll be laughing about those all day (and be sure to have my Canadian friends drop by for a laugh, too - they have surprising good senses of humor). :)

thebets said...

Again...Mrs. Nitmos is a saint. Congrats on the BQ!

Ms. V. said...

Nice job! Read your report last night...

Um, Nitmos isn't your real name? Really LOL

You are a great runner, and your wife is awesome!!!

Congrats on the BQ!

P.O.M. said...

Nice BQ and minimal cramping.
But did you really say "pinch it off" in your post? Oh Lord have mercy. Is nothing sacred? HA!

B. Kramer said...

Well done! A non-cramper BQ sounds delightful ... delightfully boring. I mean, I guess, congrats, but cramps are more fun to read about. Next, you'll probably overcome Beardsley.

RunToTheFinish said...

Super friggin star, must have been all the good luck posts you got before the race.

So glad the cramps didn't ruin the race.. I hope you find a long term solution for that and maybe something to deal with your urine output it sounds like you have an unfriendly relationship.

good to know that I should not drive to Detriot for any reaons, but particularly for the race start.

Scott said...

Geat race! Congrats on the BQ. I think you should shoot for a sub 3:00 Boston. That's what I'm thinking of doing. What the hell. Why not.

KimsRunning said...

FROST on the window. I do not miss that. Nor the kids screaming in their snowsuits in the car on the way to daycare. Or waiting for the car to heat up before I get in it. Been in Florida 5 years now and I'm NEVA going back to Boston. Well, HOPEFULLY I'm going there in 2010 to run a little race they got going up that way. Hopefully....

Reluctant Runner said...

Sounds like you ran a gritty and intelligent race -- congratulations!

sRod said...

Great race...those allusive 10 seconds would haunt me, but also drive me to run the next one!

Cheers on a job well done! And congrats on finally containing those cramps.

John said...

geez, i was going to kiss your ass for running a great race (i missed my 4-hr goal by 7:57 but there are already enough people doing that here. so i'll just brag about not having to pee a single time on the course.

Laura said...

Sorry for the slow response, but congratulations! The BQ is totally impressive to a slow runner like me :)

Viv said...

I don't know what was more exciting you getting another BQ or finding out who the heck was this Mike person at the end of the post...LOL! Really congratulations are in order!!

KC Stine said...

Nitmos, what, that's not your real name, you're actually.....Mike?

Hey, great race and I really enjoyed reading the report. Brought back many memories as I grew up in Detroit.

Funny, I too had been warned many times about going to Belle Isle!!