I'm honored to be a Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon Race Ambassador this year. Ambassadors represent the race, interact with the running community, share information, host giveaways, volunteer, and promote the best race ever!
This year, the 5k and Kids Fun Run are on Saturday, Oct. 15. The half marathons, marathon relay, and marathon are on Sunday, Oct. 16. Use code "happylegs" for 10% off race registration. www.freepmarathon.com
Reasons I Love the Freep (and you will, too!)
July 7: 100 days until the Freep. I'm telling you, this is my adult version of Christmas. The excitement, the reverence, the faith, the passion, and the joy. I spent today's run with my #runningbuddyhubby
because we'll do this together every year, if I have anything to say about it. #JoinTheJourney #TeamWar zecha
Week 28: I love that the Freep is always the third Sunday of October. From a race-scheduling perspective, you've got all year to train. If you're running 26.2, you can do one in the Spring and Detroit in October. If you're doing 13.1, you could run a few in the Spring and Summer and Detroit in October. You can finish off your year after the Freep with the Mustache Dache and the Turkey Trot. Or, you can wake up at the crack of dawn only ONE day out of the year and just run the Freep.
In Detroit, though, the Freep is more than just a goal race at the end of a runner's season. For so many in the running community, the Freep is a celebration. From the last group run, to the team carb-loading dinner, to the races themselves, the Freep is a celebration of a year spent with friends. A year spent pushing our bodies and hearts, stepping outside our comfort zones, fighting, growing, evolving, living, believing, and having faith. It all plays out in downtown Detroit, a city I've called home for over seven years. I've seen people open their hearts to the idea that Detroit could be something beautiful again. I've watched Dr. David DiChiera breathe life into the breathtaking Detroit Opera House, my husband's and my second home. A Y kid for 27 years, I'm proud that the YMCA had faith in Detroit and built the beautiful Boll YMCA in the heart of the city. On October 16, we'll run our goal race of the season on the streets of Detroit, a city with the kind of heart and determination it takes to run the Freep.
Week 32: My recent, mostly solo long runs have me thinking a lot about long run and race courses. The Freep International 13.1 course has always impressed me. I'm pretty easy-going; loop, out-and-back, point-to-point; give me some nice scenery that varies and I'm happy. Lately, I've been doing some solo long runs up north. The scenery doesn't change and there's no company. I'm not talking trails through the woods; I'm talking northern Michigan county roads. Let's call it mental preparation. If I can run these for 20 miles, then 26.2 on a nice race course with crowd support and aid stations and so many different scenery changes will seem at least a little easier. Also, check out these race tips from the Freep.
Mile 1 - The excitement of the start. "Lose Yourself" (Eminem) always plays plays on the PA system at some point. "If you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?" The gun goes off. Nice run down Fort Street, and you see the Ambassador Bridge before you know it.
Mile 2 - Heading up the ramp onto the bridge, going through customs. It's a hill, but it's fun! (And I don't love hills)
Mile 3-4 - Ambassador bridge into Canada! Watch the sunrise on the bridge. Run through Canadian customs. Canadian customs agents dancing. If you don't like bridges or heights, you might want to reconsider this race. Also, watch out for runners who stop, and I mean STOP, in the middle of the bridge to take pictures.
Mile 5 - Exiting the bridge/customs area, running towards the Windsor river front.
Mile 6 - Windsor river walk. Beautiful. Fun to see the Windsor view if you're used to running the Detroit River Walk.
Mile 7 - Windsor River Walk and some turns to get you to the Windsor tunnel.
Mile 8 - The Windsor tunnel! Some people don't love confined spaces. I've always loved the tunnel because it's different. Yes, you get hot. My husband's contacts fogged up last year. He's also noticed that the temperature change from the hot tunnel back into the cold, outside air can hit your stomach. Yes, it can get congested. Yes, there's a hill out of the tunnel. But it's an underwater mile! The only underwater mile in North American distance racing!
Mile 9-10 - You get to run on the Lodge for a bit. Lafayette. Kind of fun to see spectators on the overpasses. A good place to suggest spectators go to cheer.
Miles 11-12 - Mexican Village and Cork Town! Sometimes I get a little bored around mile 12, but I think it's because I'm actually feeling "it." Bourbon and bacon "aid station" at Mile 12 over the last two years!
Mile 13 - You can see Campus Martius in the distance as you run down Michigan Ave. If you're running 13.1, you know Griswold and the finish line are close. Just watch out for holes in the brick road.
.1 - Two blocks to the finish line on Fort Street! Kick it in as you round Griswold and give it all you've got. Pass that runner in front of you. Leave it all on the course. Fall over that finish line. Rock that wheel chair (or just the heat blanket and the banana). Savor what you just did. Then go online on New Years Eve and sign up to do it all over again because wow, that rocked.
Week 33: Running on Belle Isle. Whether you're running the 26.2 or U.S.-Only 13.1 or just training in Detroit, you get to enjoy the beauty that is Detroit's state park, located between the U.S. and Canada. Fun fact: Detroit is actually NORTH of Canada. Look at a map. It's hard to explain why Belle Isle is special, but most runners I know agree. Maybe it's because the park is a natural oasis of woods, lakes, trails, bluejays, and geese in the middle of urban Detroit. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets don't hurt. Maybe it's because, during the dead of winter, a few of us crazy runners have it all to ourselves. Maybe it's seeing EVERYONE on the island in the summer, running, biking, swimming, playing on the beach, doing yoga, playing kickball, and barbecuing, and feeling the sense of community and revitalization. It could be the feeling of Belle Isle being home turf. I started training there with the Be Bold Crew in the summer of 2015 and run one the island at least once a week. Whatever it is, come find out for yourself. Don't let October 16 be the only time you enjoy this Michigan treasure. #RaptorFreeSince93
Week 34: I get to drive by this billboard at least every other day and feel all the overwhelming emotions.
I used to drive by the Freep billboards and secretly wish I was part of such an awesome group of people. I couldn't imagine running a 10k, let alone 13.1 or 26.2. I have no CLUE why I convinced Jason we should register for the international half marathon in 2014. But I can tell you it's the best decision I ever made. Training for long distance races with my husband has brought me joy, health, success, community, and friendship, as well as disappointment, fear, and stress, and taught me perseverance, commitment, and the knowledge that I can do things I never knew were possible. That's what I see when I look at that billboard. I feel the nerves and excitement of a cold Sunday morning when 20,000 runners line up on Fort street and put their hearts, bodies, and training to the test. I see months of training, highs and lows, successes and failures, runs when I fly and runs when my legs feel like lead, and hopefully, come race day, joy. Because if marathon training has taught me anything, it's that all the best stuff happens when you commit yourself fully to the journey. No fear. #JoinTheJourney #FreepMarathon #FreepAmbassador
Use code "happylegs" for 10% off race registration. www.freepmarathon.com