Saturday, December 5, 2015

Motown is mo' fun

Canada to the left, U.S. to the right
My first time to Detroit definitely made me want to return again soon.  I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon in mid-October, marking Michigan off of my list of states.  Speaking of press, Detroit seems to get some bad press, but un-derserved in my opinion.  Although I stuck mainly to the downtown area, I was surprised by how nice it was.  I stayed at the Marriott which was in the monstrous GM building.  And from my room in that monstrosity, I had an amazing view of the Detroit River and across the boarder into Windsor, Canada.  
The GM monster

Oh, did I mention that this awesome race runs into Canada? Not only can I check off running in another state, I can check off running in another country!  It is a bit odd though when you go to the race expo to pick up your packet and a U.S. Customs official is there asking for your passport before he'll hand over your bib.  (and if you forget it, you don't get to run into Canada, and will be forced to run the U.S. only half marathon).

My hotel was fairly close to the expo, so I was able to enjoy Detroit's lovely riverwalk.  They had graffiti art, sculptures and scenic views.  What more can you ask for?  Well, to be honest I could have asked for some warmer temperatures, because the wind coming over from Canada was a bit brisk to say the least.  Here are some scenes from the Riverwalk.  

 Since I figured I'd spend a lot of Sunday running and then napping, I did most of my exploring on Saturday.  It was recommended that I venture to Corktown, so I headed that way to a brewery, called Batch Brewing Company.   I don't remember the beer I had but I do remember that it was pretty darn good.  If you ever find yourself enjoying some local Detroit brews there, I would also highly recommend the smoked whitefish spread.  Their menu had a lot of other things that looked amazing, but one person can only eat so much.  

So my marathon goodie bag gave me away as a runner to other runners who were doing their own mini pub crawl.  I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow runner Andrew (who learned the hard way about forgetting your passport).  He introduced me to his friends Rachel and Carl, who were locals (and my apologies if I've remembered your names wrong, I'm horrible with them).  They were all so nice, and invited me to join them on their bar crawl. 

We ventured to a cocktail bar, (maybe called the Sugar House, maybe called Bill Murray) for some Bill Murray movie themed drinks.  We were there right as they opened the door.  As they say, the early bird gets the craft cocktail.   I ordered the Au Revoir, Gopher, which is a delicious mezcal cocktail that comes along with an awesome presentation from the bartender.  I'll just say it involved some smoking action.  One of my hosts ordered the Ectoplasm Cooler, which was the precise color of ectoplasm.  If you are a craft-cocktail seeker, I say seek out this place.  

We continued on to the Westin hotel bar, where we witnessed Michigan State beat University of Michigan.  And by witness, I mean listened to a lot of simultaneous cheering and groaning though out the bar.  This game was a big deal, I guess. I'm not much into sports.  And since 2 of my 3 hosts were British, they also didn't seem much into the game.  But everyone else in the bar was, that is for certain!  After sampling another local Michigan brew, I had to bid adieu to my wonderful, gracious hosts and try to get some rest before the race.  I can't say thanks enough to the three of them for befriending me and making my time in Detroit fun and memorable!!  Let me know if any of you are ever in Chicago as I'd love to return the favor! 

Into Canada
Out of Canada
Now it's race day.  Brrr, brrr, brrr!  The cold temperatures were verified by the snow flurries that fell as we waited to cross the start line.  Seriously, it was October.  Snow is not allowed!  Eventually I crossed the start line where we made our way to the Ambassador Bridge, which we crossed over and into Canada.  Oh, Canada!   We ran into Windsor and were greeted by lots of red maple leaf flags and cheering Canadians.  Oh, and of course, we were also greeted by lots of customs officials, looking for our bibs to confirm we were legit to cross the border.  

We ran a few miles through Windsor along the river and then we hit the Windsor tunnel to pass back into the U.S.  We ran a fair distance through the tunnel, and it wasn't nearly as hard to breathe as I thought it would be considering all the residual car fumes that are probably hanging out in there.  It was pretty cool though where they border was indicated.  In Canada, in the U.S., in Canada, in the U.S.  You could go back and forth over and over if you wanted.  We were greeted back to the U.S. by a LOT of U.S. Immigration officers.  You know how when you go through Customs in U.S. airports when returning from a trip abroad, and all the officers seem angry, like they hate you and don't believe at all that you are actually a U.S. citizen?  Well these officers were nothing like those.  They were cheering, giving us high fives as we crossed back over the border.  They were fantastic! 
I can see my hotel from Canada! 
Inside the Grand Trunk
Are they serious?
 I finished the race with one of my best times in maybe 2 years.  No PR, but I was happy with my time.  I returned to the hotel promptly after the race to thaw in a hot shower for at least 30 minutes.   Of course I was hungry, so I was forced to return outside to get some food.  I ended up at a nice little pub called the Grand Trunk Pub.  I ordered the sandwich dubbed the Corktown, and ridiculous is all I can say.  And if you're eating it, you actually can't say anything at all, because you are basically buried under the largest mound of corned beef you've ever encountered.  See what I mean?  I had to dismantle the thing to eat it. That thing was delicious though.  I'm getting hungry thinking about it right now.  Wonder if they deliver to Chicago.

The Spirit of Detroit 
Tiny oyster fest.
After lunch I did a little more wandering downtown, past the Spirit of Detroit and back along the river front.

In my usual post-race M.O. I enjoyed some post race oysters for dinner at Joe Muer seafood, which was conveniently located adjacent to my hotel.  It ain't a race without some oysters.  It's like a food medal.  I haven't officially finished until I have that medal around my neck and some oysters in my belly.

There are so many other great places that I came across but didn't have the opportunity to enjoy.  I'm looking forward to heading back to take in more of the Motor City and meet more of those friendly Michiganders. Thanks again to Rachel, Andrew and Carl for making my time in Detroit so much fun!

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