On Oct. 24, 2021, like in years before, the writers of The Michigan Daily Arts stretched out their hammies to participate in a grueling challenge of mental fortitude and physical fitness: the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon. A little pretentious, a little weird, Daily Arts had a writer running the half-marathon and two relay teams: A-Side and B-side (a reference to the special themed B-Sides that Arts publishes bi-weekly). Read the initial race impressions from our 2021 runners here. Additionally, you can read reflections from A-Side runners here.
Leg 1: Ross London, 7.05 miles
I’ll be honest, I didn’t take this seriously enough. Between postponing (read: skipping) training runs and staying out late on the Saturday night before the race, I was setting myself up for a struggle. When I woke up on Sunday morning, my cat tacitly questioning why I had woken her so early, I walked over to the start line with a seething dread in my gut and the morning air biting at my face. The start line wasn’t any more fun. Sure, I looked forward to running alongside my brilliant colleague Cece Duran, but nothing would have quelled my bitterness at being dragged from a warm bed to listen to a poor performance of the national anthem at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
Well, almost nothing. Because once we actually got running, things started to look up. I wasn’t as cold, and Cece and I had a chance to fill one another in on our lives as we ran through a still-sleeping campus. The sun low in the hazy dawn sky, our leg of the race was the most beautiful. Undoubtedly, it was the most rewarding, too, as we stuck together for the whole leg.
Although our pace turned out to be better than I expected it would be, the race isn’t about speed or distance traveled. Running, though a solo activity, really is a team sport. By this, I mean the community of runners, but I also am referring to the communion in running: sharing the rhythm of a stride, the hills that rob you of your voices and leave you both huffing and panting and the vistas best appreciated in good company.
A lot of people claim to hate running, and I understand why. Until you find your cadence, it’s uncomfortable. You may be injury-prone, you may dislike the early mornings or you may simply prefer a less monotonous sweat. But I urge the non-runner to find a friend — maybe someone you haven’t felt connected with in a while — and go for a jog. I assure you that the endorphins create a bond strong enough to override any concern that you look and smell like a sweaty rat by the time all is said and done. The Ann Arbor Marathon reminded me that running is a powerful thing, and I’m glad to have logged 7.7 miles with a dear friend.
— Ross London, Daily Arts Writer
Leg 2: Gigi Guida, 6.05 miles + the Arb hill
Waking up to my 6 a.m. alarm that Sunday, tying up my Brooks and taking a chomp from my banana, I felt positively giddy. I hadn’t run (or so much as walked briskly) since two Sundays before, when I ran my first major marathon in Chicago. Without a run in my daily routine, I’d been majorly antsy, terribly hyper and totally stir crazy. So, as I waited to start my leg at Gallup Park, a dreamy morning mist rising above the Huron River, I couldn’t stop grinning.
Ross came cruising around the corner; I donned his bib, spread my arms wide, and began to gallop through Gallup. I started slow, feeling the little exciting explosions within my dormant legs and monitoring their intensity.
Now, listen — running to me is more of a mindful thing than an exercise thing. Thus, I see no reason to run fast, and usually, I strictly maintain a leisurely pace — a pace that I can sink into and let my mind wander. But that chilly October morning, feeling those fireworks in my legs, I started speeding up. Faster and faster, until I was zooming through the Arb, pumping my arms past the Big House.
I was running just to run, like a barefoot little kid, sprinting to feel like you’re flying, just to feel the wind on your skin. Once I safely delivered our bib to Lizzie, I slowly tiptoed back to the finish line, feeling the fireworks sizzle down my calves. Still grinning.
And the pancake at the finish line? Oh, the pancake at the finish line. The fluffiest, nearest to cloud-like, hottest off the press pancake I’ve ever had. And you know what? It may very well have been, in reality, your average, not too fluffy, somewhat dense, not even hot pancake. But, being the windswept, barefoot little kid I was that day, I understood that pancake to be heaven above, and I devoured it with my bare hands.
— Gigi Guida, Daily Arts Writer
Leg 3: Elizabeth Yoon, 7.05 miles
On race day, I stepped out into the early Ann Arbor morning armed with an inexplicable sense that everything race-related was going to work out. All The Daily runners would be awake and race-ready. We would find the race start and our relay trade-offs would be seamless. The night before, I had slept three hours, jittery with race preparations and excitement. The race was the culmination of months of planning, several Zoom meetings with the Race Coordinator Eva Solomon (one notably taken on the train to Boston) and several edited articles. I had been anticipating race day since July 2021.
Thus, actually running the race was one of the most cathartic and empowering things I’ve done in college. After months of toil (with many thanks to various, patient running partners), I built up my running endurance, hitting my distance goal a week before the marathon. I am not a fast runner and during the race, I ran the same leg as Kaitlyn. She quickly outpaced me and I have fond memories of sending a video to our running group chat of me panting, spinning around trying to capture the flashing bottoms of her sneakers over my shoulder as she sped past me.
Despite not having Kaitlyn’s company while running our leg, the many vibrant volunteers kept me entertained. Ted Lasso quotes lined the side of the road and I saw so many dogs that day with volunteers enthusiastically ringing cowbells at me. Notably, a group of elderly musicians played cymbals and drums as I ran past. This is embarrassing to admit but I actually got lost during the race and ran an extra half a mile. I only found my way back to the race trail when the race tracking app warned me that I might be off the path.
However, the best part of the marathon was spending time with the Arts relay teams. After the race, we got back together with our medals and headed to Avalon Bread & Cafe. Sitting in a booth in the back, I felt content — a rare, full-bodied happiness. My body was tired but not aching. I was just on the cusp of crashing but surrounded by good friends and people I hoped would be good friends. It’s a particular kind of calm and happiness that I fantasize about: a gold standard for calm Sundays. Sitting in that booth, a full plate of food in front of me, reality was suspended while I enjoyed a slim moment of absolute satisfaction.
— Elizabeth Yoon, Managing Editor
Leg 4: Darby Williams, 6.05 miles + the Arb hill
There’s nothing quite like the starting line. There’s nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the first mile of a race. There’s nothing like the sharp fingers of the wind twirling through your hair, your feet carrying you somewhere between earth and heaven.
There’s nothing like waiting three hours in the lobby of South Quad in anticipation of it all.
As the last runner on the B-side team, this race was not an exercise in speed, endurance, or even grit. It was an exercise in patience. I geared up, consumed caffeine, stretched out, and listened to the entirety of Taylor Swift’s magnum opus 1989 in an attempt to catalyze a high that seemed more mirage-like with every passing second. There’s something intensely anticlimactic to witnessing your teammates dwindle away as you await your moment on the track. A unique solitude, as it were. By the time my leg of the race rolled around, I was practically vibrating with excitement. I was washed over with the overwhelming sensation that I was ready.
It was a feeling I had not had in a long time. In the past two years, my college experience has been marked by the careful construction of chaos. In other words, it’s been one best-laid plan after another thrown to the wind and seldom returned. All I knew going into my senior year was how little I knew. In the wake of quarantine-induced ambiguity, the future seemed incomprehensibly close and far away all at once. I planned and prepared, only to change plans at the last moment. And it was terrifying.
I’m still planning, still trembling in my shoes, frankly. But at the very least, I’m ready to run. I run confidently with the knowledge that I have caffeine and adrenaline in my veins, Ms. Swift in my ears, and the best goddamn team in the world waiting at the finish line. The start is delayed, but when it finally arrives, I’m off like a bullet. My feet fling mud and anxiety behind me, finding new ground on the road ahead.
— Darby Williams, Daily Arts Writer
Half Marathon: Emma Chang, 13.1 miles
The last time I thought about the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon was mid-March 2020 when we had entered the almost-blissful realm of early quarantine — I was convinced we would be back to classes in two weeks, that I would find myself back at Rick’s on Thursday night within the month and that I would run my half-marathon in May, at the latest. When that didn’t happen, and the world fell apart thereafter, I deferred my registration to whenever they decided to reschedule the race and quickly forgot about it (I even wrote a note in my notes app reminding myself that “you deferred your registration,” one of my more prescient moments).
Fast forward to the end of September this year, when I finally looked at one of the many emails from the marathon and I realized the event I hadn’t thought about in over a year was actually happening.
After finally running the race I was supposed to run a year and a half ago, with a pandemic and a less-than-exciting-but-somehow-still-satisfying senior year behind me, I have found myself in an oddly reflective mood.
In that 13.1 miles of pavement and Arb dirt, I had two hours to think about the girl who would have stood at the start line in early 2020 and the one who finished the run a week ago. Emma from 2020 was a runner unprepared for the half marathon she told herself she was perfectly capable of running, while present-day Emma not only runs more but has a better relationship with the sport and what it means to “go for a run.”
For all intents and purposes, we’re really the same person. Except now, I’m a super senior lamenting the passing of time and reminiscing over the walks through the Diag when there was a much higher chance I would run into a familiar face.
— Emma Chang, Daily Arts Writer