Thursday, October 18, 2012

Detroit Free Press Marathon


 
 My hometown Detroit Free Press Marathon is this weekend!
Below are a few excerpts of the marathon featured in 


Marathon Morning

      Piping hot, extra strong cup of coffee to get me started. Caffeine improves performance, but too much dehydrates. A banana is the first thing I eat, followed by a peanut butter sandwich. It is 5 am, two hours and fifteen minutes before take-off. I scan the weather on the TV with the noise muted.
Forty-eight degrees currently, high of sixty-two, a mix of sun and clouds with a chance of showers increasing towards the afternoon. Winds out of the northwest with gusts up to ten miles per hour. No real change in the weather from what was expected yesterday.
I take a warm shower to get my body going, yet keep the lights out in the bathroom and my eyes closed in the shower. I bow my face towards the shower faucet. Water hits my forehead and drips down my nose and my chin. The splatter of the water starts humming, putting me into a trance so that I don’t know if I’ve stood under the water for five seconds or twenty minutes. Either way, there’s not a spot that hasn’t been cleansed and is fresh and ready to go.
This is the morning you’ve worked for. You’ve done your work, today is just the victory lap. Run like you have metal in your chest and the finish line is one big magnet, sucking you in. Take nothing with you, leave it all on the course, all of it, all of it, all of it, all of it, all of it on the course today. There is no tomorrow.
My naked self is all I got. Everything else is gone except the body that I have sculpted to shoot through the Detroit city streets.
I get out, dry, and then do my best to have a bowel movement. Anxiety usually means this is no problem, but today I’m too scared to move anything.
I stay naked for a while, letting every spot fully dry in the air, before I put on body glide on any area of my skin that may chafe. Then I take each piece of my outfit and put it on ceremoniously as if I had an audience: blue shorts, white running bra, red top, and anklets that I pull tight three or four times. I wrap my watch around my wrist, check it more than once to make sure it is zeroed out and ready to go, and I tie my shoes loosely. I know they will get tied, untied, and retied many times before starting time.
The dogs come up the stairs, fresh from Sharleen’s bed, and I take them out back. The backyard scents are doused with fresh morning dew and the dogs put their noses to the ground. They make little sniffing noses and wag their tails. The cold pricks at my flesh, little hairs on my arms stand on end, and my heart rate picks up an extra beat.
There is nobody else awake in the whole world it seems. It’s always so quiet on marathon mornings. So still. Always dark.
Whatever is waiting for me after the finish, I can’t worry about. None of that can matter today. If it does, I’ll be lost. I should just stay home if I’m worried.
Randall wakes up at 6:15 am to drive me. He’s to drop me off and return to pick up Sharleen, who lays still sleeping in the basement. I wonder if she’s really asleep or just down there, scared, maybe with nightmares, but probably not. That’s just me.
We start the car and I turn on a light heat. It will be cold until a mile or two into the race.
I sit in the passenger seat and rub my thighs and calves, trying to loosen up the muscles, warm them to the core, and I eat one last perfect yellow banana. Tiny sips of ice mountain water quench my nerves. Both of us are always quiet on this twenty-minute drive.
Downtown Detroit. The streets are empty except for folks like us coming down to the event. Nervous runners are already sprinting the streets for warm up, shooting this way and that. The place looks like the top of an anthill. Randall winds the car through the many closed down streets to take me as close to the start as he can before letting me out.
“You are ready for this, I believe in you,” he says. “You are ready for this, I believe in you,” he repeats.
I watch him drive off, and start my walk towards the start, surrounded by many, but alone.



Running The Ambassador Bridge 
From Detroit into Canada



      The incline to the bridge begins, and even though it demands more of my thighs and a deeper pump of my arms, it’s a nice change. The sky is fully light now, the faded moon completely gone, and the sun starts to peek above some horizon clouds. Sweat has formed on the base of my neck. I pass through the tollbooths, still uphill, and my thighs are eating it up. Sweat itches my brow and I occasionally swat it away with my hand.
Below me are the swirling waters of the Detroit River, choppy and turbulent, from lakes Erie and Huron being smashed together. On the bridge above, orange cones separate runners from the open side of the road. The occasional truck comes by, shooting fumes into our lungs.
 Then we’re greeted by the sun: like a slowly opening eyelid with rays of golden eyelashes, the orange pupil rises above the horizon cloud. A swelling of warmth rises in my chest and I run farther up the bridge, way above the water below, far enough now that a jump would be deadly. Sunrays splinter my eyes...  


Back Home Through The Underwater Tunnel 
      Border guards on the Canadian side scan our race numbers, yell out ‘Good job’, and walk in little back and forth paces. We fly by, shooting through the tollbooth and down the depths, back to my country through the underwater tunnel. The tunnel connecting Windsor and Detroit is advertised as the only underwater mile in all of marathoning. Every runner passes through the underwater tomb, going first over the water across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and then returning to the United States below.
Our shoes plop on the pavement, echoing about us as we descend. The day turns dark, lit by periodic lights lining the tunnel besides us. Gravity pulls us through the little downhill, and Mom and I both widen our wingspan. Our bodies and legs get pulled faster, shooting us down farther into the earth and towards the middle of the river. The little downhill smashes my hamstrings with each collision of foot on pavement, but the speed feels good.
The tunnel is moist and traces of water leaks can be seen running down white tiles on the walls. Bits of the raging river all around us are dripping in. The engineers must know this, this must be how it’s supposed to be, I tell myself, it doesn’t mean the tunnel is about to break open and drown us all, it’s just condensation. Somebody somewhere is always looking out for us. Nobody is forgotten. We’re all safe.

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon


STRAY on Amazon
 

3 comments:

Clarinda @ Enjoying the Course said...

Another book added to my wish list. This was a great teaser. I want more!

I think I'd be nervous running through an underwater tunnel, but I'm also very intrigued. Perhaps, I should also add this marathon to my wish list. :D

Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

BOOM!! u best be kicking butt out there...rip it up! good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

I just finished the 2012 Detroit Marathon this weekend and this teaser was awesome. It all feels so true. Good Luck in New York.

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