Ann Arbor, Michigan
Where? Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date? June 3, 2018
Race? Dexter Ann-Arbor Half Marathon
Finish Time? 1:39:00
1/5 of the way through the states!!! Wow, I can’t believe I’m already on my 10th state, 1/5 of the way finished with my journey. It has been an amazing adventure so far, and state #10 was no exception.
State #10 was done in Ann Arbor, Michigan. First things first: the location. Ann Arbor is an absolutely beautiful place with so much to see and to do; it also has a huge downtown area with tons of little shops, boutiques and restaurants. Next: my Ann-Arbor cheer squad (my travel companions). This was the second race that my older sister, Carrie, made the trip to see; and this time, she brought her whole crew. My sister, brother in-law, niece, and two nephews all came along to explore Ann Arbor and watch me race. I can’t exactly describe how wonderful it feels to have family willing and eager to come and be a part of my goals, dreams, and adventures, to have all of their support and encouragement is truly irreplaceable.
First we all met at the hotel, they had traveled from Green Bay and me from Athens, Ohio. We met, briefly set our things down and discussed where to go, and quickly headed out to explore the downtown area of Ann Arbor. Once down there, I was informed about the children’s goal for the trip: to see all of the fairy doors. At first I was a bit confused, but after hearing their excitement and doing a little research, I realized how freakin’ cool it actually was, I mean who doesn’t like a good fairy mystery? So, to clarify, all around downtown Ann Arbor are about 20-25 little fairy doors. They are hidden in between, inside of, outside of, and all over the shops, restaurants, and businesses (like the library, in case you ever need to know). The goal is to find all of them, including the very mysterious and hard-to-find goblin door.
We walked around, eagerly searching in between our stops in the little shops. We found several fairy doors, got some ice cream, and then it was time for my favorite part of the day: PRE RACE MEAL. We ate at a delicious local Italian restaurant with AMAZING pizzas and pastas. I got pasta, soup, tons of bread, and admittedly tried some of Carries’ family pizza.
Once we had filled up, we decided to head back to the hotel, swim a bit, and relax. My sister and I watched the boys and Kenzie swim as we caught up on life, lounging back in our chairs. Then Kenzie (10 years old) got out of the pool and started chatting with me. It’s priceless to have time to get to know your niece better when I only get to see her a few times a year. I felt so lucky to have even 30 minutes to learn about her life, her school, her interests, and be a part of her life.
Evidently we ate Linner (lunch/dinner) a LITTTTLLEEE too early to fill our bellies for the night, so once we got back to the hotel room we decided to order some pizza (bad choice, but I mean, when you’re hungry you’re hungry). We ate pizza, breadsticks, posssssssibly some cinnamon sticks (woops), and went to bed with our bellies full.
RACE DAY. I woke up, got dressed, took my beet juice (read about this in my tip’s section), and put my race bib on. My family drove me to the starting location, which was at a nearby high school. The race started at the high school and then we ran 13.1 miles straight to finish downtown. My family took my picture, wished me luck, calmed me down when I started to freak out, and then left to meet me downtown.
The race… Beautiful, but also pretty brutal. I think that’s the last time I talk myself into Domino’s pizza at 10 p.m. being “fine” before my race. Yes, I threw up, a few times. But, I finished! I pulled it together at the end and finished the race. I could hear my little niece and nephews cheering me on during the last .1 as I finished. I always like to end with a sprint, but they gave me extra motivation to sprint even faster in the final stretch.
There’s always this feeling after finishing a half marathon, an irreplaceable, unmatchable, feeling of ecstasy. A feeling like you can do anything, a grateful, thankful, mindful, peaceful feeling of happiness. I can’t put it into words, but if you’re a runner, I’m sure you’ve had this feeling before. After finishing, we walked around downtown more as I let this feeling continue to flow through me.
As we walked, we noticed there was a food festival happening downtown. And, if you can’t tell, our family loves food… soooo obviously we bought some tickets and explored juuuust a little more before departing. I tried some Sheppard’s pie (YUM), some beer (DOUBLE YUM), and an oreo cupcake (TRIPLE YUM). Honestly the perfect post-race combo. But after trying lots of yummy foods, the time had finally come to say goodbye’s to both Ann Arbor and my family.
As I pulled away, waving at my family, I felt so unbelievably grateful. I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about how lucky I was to have had such a perfect weekend away from “the real world”. At this point in my life, I was about 3 weeks away from finishing my Master’s and also working full time as a preschool teacher and mentor teacher. The amount of stress in my life was almost unbearable before leaving for this trip; between four courses (I had doubled up to finish my degree a semester early), work obligations, the natural stress from being a teacher, and training every day, I was at a loss of both time, energy, and as always, money. I actually had to go see a doctor about the fact that I could barely turn my head side-to-side due to the stiffness from stress and was also developing a rash (too much info???). But, as I left this half marathon, everything seemed okay, no, actually, everything seemed perfectly unperfect. There was no possibility of returning to that stress level, because I had realized how truly blessed I was, that’s what race #10 gave me: peace in my perfectly unperfect life.