The many (many) miles of the first-time Detroit FreePress marathoner--

I am batman. I reek of bananas, Nike Dri Fit and promise. Six months ago I had no desire to even walk one mile but now? Now I feel like someone liquified the Beastie Boys and fed them to me through an IV. Let's do this.

Mile 1
It's still dark, people are cheering like crazy and clothes are hitting the ground at a rate so fast you think the Rapture happened. 
You giggle and say "one down, 25 to go!"

1.5 Fluid Station
Flasks are full so you don't stop, but you stare because you can't believe everyone just throws the cups on the ground like that!

Mile 2
You might need to retie your shoes. Why is your belt bouncing like that? When should you GU? 
(Mental math as you attempt to calculate how long those 6:00a bananas will stay in effect) 
Take one just to be safe.. You brought like, 15. 
Hold the wrapper so border patrol doesn't tackle you for littering. Smile, they have guns

Mile 3
Almost a 5K! That was easy! You should do the Color Run or something!
Wow..the sunrise is gorgeous! Let's stop, immediately, in front of the 20K people behind us, and take a selfie

Mile 4
Begin talking about what you'll eat when you're done. Smile at the Canadians. Repeat.

4.5 Fluid Station
Seriously people.. The garbage cans are RIGHT THERE

Mile 5
Sweet Jesus, it's cold. Riverfront winds blast you but you're still rolling from the rush of having just crossed the Ambassador Bridge on foot. The Canadians have clever signs, and beer, and oranges, and bundled blush-faced babies bouncing in the air, and rock bands on makeshift stages, and little old ladies with snarky political signs. You just keep smiling. You're fascinated. Another GU, and you find a garbage can because.. No way you're going to litter in Canada.

Mile 6
Yay! But dang, you're still not close to the tunnel? It looked so much closer on the map. 
Just keep running. Start a chant. High five a stranger. Try not to think that you *only* have 20 to go.

Mile 7
First little wall as you do the math and realize you still have about 4 hours of running, at the very least. You can't even watch Netflix for that long. 
Oh Canada and all your's been real, but seriously, give me the tunnel or give me death.

Mile 7.3-8
You're in the tunnel! It's warm! You're underwater! 
Omg... you're underwater. 
Everyone's cheering and whoo hooing, and yeah, it sounds cool.. but that's because you're in a tunnel, UNDERWATER. 
If something gave out you'd no longer be running, but swimming, and panicking and.... 
oh look, the border. You're about to run back to the USA, cool! 
Wait, what was that? Why is there water on the wall? 
Ok, either someone just now tossed their Gatorade cup, or the tunnel is gonna go. 

Mile 8
Daylight! People! 
And a hill. 
And you're struggling. 
I mean, you ran to Canada and back, but you can't go up this hill?

Mile 8.2
Potty. Hold onto EVERYTHING. You cannot go after whatever falls in there. 
Another GU even though there wasn't any sanitizer in that port--you're livin' on the edge.

Mile 8.3
Friends are cheering!! You promised to dance when you saw friends. Cue the MC Hammer.

Mile 9
On your way to Mexican Village and so turned around that you're just following the people and fist pumping every chance you get. 
Someone says "great job Kristin!" and you're confused--how do I know you?! 
Oh yeah.. Your name is on your jersey.. Idiot.

Mile 10
You barely remember mile 10. 
You're tired, you think you heard your name again but aren't sure, and you're beginning to wonder if you're even going to make it. 
Like, seriously, why the heck would anyone run 26 miles? You're crazy. 
And then you see another 26.2 bib and realize--you're with your people. You're all on a mission. 
You're one of them.. or they're one of you. 
Either way, you're drowning in some kind of new emotion and it gives you an edge. 
Celebrate with the chocolate GU because, solidarity.

Mile 11
Cheer station! 
You see your team and you're fired up--back on track. Up ahead is a fluid station and you snag a Gatorade because your flasks are almost empty. 
Minor freak out as you trample 4,000 cups to hand yours to the volunteer with the bag. 
She laughs; "Just toss it honey, look around!" Yeah, you're a dork.

Mile 12
You're on fire. You have made it 12 miles, passed on tempting bourbon, sang along to the Doobie Brothers and have formed some kind of kinship with the dude waving the paper cut-out of the runner he's been chasing since the tunnel. 
Is this the runner's euphoria? Or are you just in your own delirium? You don't know, but you like it.

Mile 13.1
"Half-marathoners to the right, Marathoners to the left!" Do they have to yell and rub it in like that? 
Suddenly, 90% of your people are gone. It's actually colder without the extra bodies, clearly more quiet, and the fans have even fizzled a bit. 
GU it up, take a breather, check in with the fam, and settle in for the next half. 
Oh, and ask yourself WHY THE HECK did you do this again?!?!

Mile 14
Snag two gatorades and throw your cups in the pile. You're making progress! 
Look ahead for signs of people turning. Cue the playlist and chat it up with your partners. 
Dream of bacon.

Mile 15
Dude, this is a lot of straight running. And cars are crossing the course up ahead. Um, hello, we're still here! 
You freak out. Did you miss a turn? Are you still on the route? 
Then you notice an officer is letting them through. Yeah, that's right.. The amount of crazy people has dwindled down to a number that allows them to let traffic through. Your quest is no longer an event, but rather, you're now basically interfering with other people's normal daily lives. 
Like, you have so long to go that they had to roll out this endless stretch of Lafeyette to let you finish.

Mile 15.5 Fluid Station
Slam it, toss it, don't look back.
Now you look like a runner!

Mile 16

Mile 16.5
So this is Indian Village? It looks like The Hills of the Midwest, and I'm legit gawking like Will Smith when he rolls up to Uncle Phil's. There's a totally normal October front-yard volleyball game, and "beverage" stations aplenty. There's a couple walking a dog wearing a bumble bee costume and a house playing what sounds like Prohibition era tunes from what looks like an actual phonograph?! This place is weird.

Mile 17
Your people! Your team's water station and familiar faces! You feel refreshed. You fuel up and tell yourself there's only 9 miles left--single digits! This is nuts!

Mile 18
You caught your second wind. You're smiling again. You wave at the people who are on actual furniture in their front yards eating waffles and chatting, who are likely tipsy and, by this point, have completely forgotten why all these people are running down their street. A sweet little old man is handing out Dixie cups of jelly beans. You run through a plywood "wall" in someone's lawn while singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody. 
Basically, Indian Village was pretty freaking awesome.

Mile 18.5
Jefferson Ave! Dude, you're almost to Belle Isle, and that's 20! That's when it gets real!
You hear a woman behind you yelling... at herself... 
She dropped her running fuel and can't stop and turn around for fear her legs will think the race is done and seize.
You offer her one of yours, and she nearly consumes the wrapper with it. 
It's like Band of Brothers out here y'all.

Mile 19
You're at the bridge. You see your family. You cry and celebrate. You're on cloud nine. 
You think you broke a toe but that's ok because you got this!

Mile 19.8
The two people standing here say, "20 miles!!!" And you're stunned because, there's no flag. Where the heck is the flag? It's not real if there's no flag? Out here we live and die by the flippin flag! Don't you know what we're going through?! Why would you lie to us?! 

Oh hey look, the flag! Yay for 20!

Mile 20
Silently apologize for mentally insulting strangers

Mile 21
You didn't realize Belle Isle was so big. You can see the Ren Cen, which is sort of how far you have left. You have 5 more miles. Remember when you'd only run 5 miles? You were in Canada. Now you can see where you were. It's like a runner's inception. Space and time are messing with you. Or it's the copious amounts of GU and Gatorade. You fall behind your running partner. Minor freak out. 
You wish she wasn't wearing ear buds. 
You wish you could sprint. 
You wish you hadn't passed on the jelly beans at Mile 18.

Mile 22
You catch up to your friend, go GU crazy and prepare for the homestretch. You're in pain, she's on a roll. You plan to ride it out as long as you can. 
Finishing is most important. If you weren't spiritual at the starting line, you are now!

Mile 23
Your family waited for you to leave the island!! So exciting, and just like that, you're like a horse out of the gates. 
Only this horse moves more like one of those elderly mall walkers.

Mile 24
Dude, Detroit is pretty from here. You swell with love for your city. Or you have to puke. Either way, you're feeling it.

Mile 25
Just before the flag, one of your teammates spots you in the chaos, runs up to you, and tells you exactly how far you need to go to finish. 
He points to the farthest building in your line of sight and says "turn there, and then it's only 16 more blocks." 
He might as well have said you just had to stop by the moon real quick. 
It feels like forever. 
And then you remember your one mile self joking about "only 25 to go." 
You want to punch your one mile self.

Mile 25.1

Mile 25.2-3

Mile 25.4

Mile 25.5-6

Mile 25.7
Your coach finds you and walks with you. 
You say, "I'm dying." 
He says, "and you're doing it beautifully." 
You cry.. You can't believe you're doing it. You signed up for this sucker back in January and now you're here--at the end--receiving tender encouragement from the people who brought you through from your first day of training back in April. He sends you off. 
You feel like the scene from Chariots of Fire. (but it's totally the senior mall walker stride again..)

Mile 26
You see the flag. You make the second to last turn, uphill. You hear the finish line. You just breathe. 
You're not done yet. Left foot. Right foot. Repeat.

Mile 26.1
Final turn, the end is literally in sight. The roar of people takes away the tears but your legs are morphing into cement by the second. You are stomping along a beach of mental mud as you close in on that magic line that makes you a finisher. You see your girls on the left, throw out a smile, and then it hits you all over again. Left foot. Right foot. You can't believe you're doing this. Left foot. Right foot. Repeat. The emotion erupts and you just cover your face and keep running. Left foot. Right foot. 

Mile 26.2
And then you stomp over the line, and the sensor that signals your clock's end, and just like that you are done--you did it! You are officially a Marathoner. You hear the announcer say your name--your name! They put a medal on your neck. and a spacesuit over your shoulders.
You feel your legs begin to freak out so you stroll down the line to collect high fives and take a few celebration pics. 

Before you head back to get your gear, you collect some post-run nourishment and giggle as you're right back where you started six months ago: full of bananas and you probably couldn't even walk a mile.

Hail to all the runners out there... 

And if you think the recap was long--RUN IT!

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