The Daily Artz Punk Rockers ran the Probility Marathon relay last Sunday. We shockingly placed 14th, verified by the race’s rather impressive standardized results system. Writers can run, too. Ask John. He finished first in his leg.
The Probility Marathon, facilitated by Epic Races, held their first event in Ann Arbor in 2012. This event raised thousands of dollars for Ann Arbor Public Schools and various nonprofits. Recipients of this year’s race proceeds include Packard Health, Cancer Support Community, Ele’s Place and North Star Reach. Epic Races has raised a total of $205,000 for nonprofits since 2015. This number continues to grow through their events — which not only benefit charities, but the local runners who participate in them as well.
This year’s starting line began near Michigan Stadium, directly outside of Fingerle Lumber (RIP Fingerle). The course then proceeded into the Hill neighborhood, around Forest Hill Cemetery, through Gallop Park and, finally, through the Arboretum, which was arguably the worst leg of the run, thanks to its massive hill. The course then finished back at the start — outside of Fingerle, in view of Michigan Stadium in all its glory.
Cameron Trinh mastered the course and won the Marathon, with a time of 2:49:03. That’s a 6:27 pace! For 26.2 miles! Congrats from Daily Arts, Cameron. Most of us can’t run a mile that fast on a good day.
6:00 a.m. – Verity
I wake up on my couch to the tinny rattle of the iPhone alarm preset, computer still asleep on my stomach. My roommate and I have passed out perpendicular on the sectional again, feet kissing in the middle, up until three a.m. pounding out bad poetry analyses (sorry Marjorie). My lymph nodes are swollen for whatever reason; my mind is weak. I somehow peel myself out of the scene and fumble around in my bedroom for a minute or ten, tossing on a couple sweatshirts and throwing back various generic cold & flu pills in an effort to Feel Better. I’m moving slow. I can’t find my earbuds, and shake my roommate awake demanding she lend me hers.
When I look at my watch it’s somehow 6:45, and Fingerle Lumber is a 30 minute walk away. I shamefully text the Punk Runners that I’m going to Uber to the start line, but then Emma offers to scoop me. Hell yeah. I lay back down on the couch for another five, willing my headache to abate, and then she texts me “Here.” I rise, anti-heroic, and my roommate stirs awake to murmur “you’re a champion, dude.” I almost fall down the stairs and then crawl into Emma’s Chevy. “I feel like shit,” I tell her. She hands me a CLIF bar. We roll out.
7:30 a.m. – Jenna, who ran the first leg and missed the rest of the marathon
Thankfully, I’m more awake now than I was 45 minutes before. I woke up late, inhaled oatmeal and spent the whole pre-race period praying that I wouldn’t vomit whilst running. The night before, I’d Googled “What to eat before running 7.05 miles,” but promptly ignored and subsequently forgot the Internet’s advice.
I also didn’t train whatsoever and hadn’t run all winter (because, honestly, who would want to). I wondered in between prayers if I could even run 7.05 miles. To chase the thought out of my head, I remember that, when Verity asked me if I could run 6 to 7 miles a week before the race, I responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” It was decided: whether or not I can run 7.05 miles, I’m going to run 7.05 miles.
Before I reluctantly leave my team to head toward the start line, John gives me a bandana, which I tie around my ponytail, and Emma and Verity hype me up for the race.
“I’m gonna win!” I say in response, knowing damn well that I am, in fact, not going to win.
“That’s the spirit!” they respond. Before I know it, the horn sounds and off I go, into an abyss of runners who are undoubtedly more ready for this than I am.
After fighting off the thought that I just might throw up, the miles seem to fly by. I’m perplexed by this the entire time I’m running, because usually I start dying around mile three. Conveniently, however, my boyfriend shows up with my dog and an adorable sign that says “Go Jenna” at the mile three marker. The thought of stopping then becomes impossible because stopping would fail both him and my dog, who not only woke up at the crack of dawn for me, but also made me a sign that I’ll keep until I actually die.
Another factor contributing to the rapid passage of miles might’ve been the fact that I’m listen to Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” on repeat the entire time I’m running. Great choice in the context of running, bad choice in the context of contributing to a collaborative Punk Rockers playlist.
Who really knows how I finished my leg. The important thing is that I did. I round the corner in Gallop Park to see my loyal relay team hooting and hollering for me next to the giant bus that they missed earlier that morning just to see me start the race. I pass John the relay belt, wish him luck and watch him fade into the distance, his long strides looking a lot more graceful (and productive) than my short ones.
Though dead, I feel accomplished. I see my dad, my step-mom, my brother, his girlfriend and my dad’s so-ugly-she’s-cute bulldog waiting for me across the park. I kiss the dog before my dad tells me she just puked all over my brother’s girlfriend’s leg, and my brother’s girlfriend shows me the stain on her pants. I smile. I just ran 7.05 miles and not even dog puke can bring me down now.
I say goodbye to Emma and Verity, eat an omelet with my family and go straight to a three-and-a-half hour orientation for study abroad. I sit in an Angell Hall auditorium in my sweaty running clothes and “love” react to my relay team’s pre- and post-race selfies. My FOMO is overwhelming. I cheer aloud when I get the “we did it!” message a few hours later, and realize that, wow, we did do it. We ran a marathon.
7:31 a.m. – John
Preceding such a gentle passing-of-the-belt, Verity, Emma, Noah and I were meanwhile on the hunt for transportation to the hand-off point where I would take over from Jenna. Thankfully, Epic Races was providing a bus that would drive to the hand-off point. Unfortunately, we missed that bus. Granted, this was purposeful — the bus departed before the race began, and we wanted to see Jenna start. So, after she sped off, we were stuck at the finish line, race apparel doing little against the freezing weather, scrolling violently for a Lyft or an Uber that would pick us up.
Things didn’t look up much once we found a ride, though. Almost every road surrounding the race site was closed off. So, while we had succeeded in acquiring a Lyft, it was far away and struggling to come any closer. We huddled together for half an hour, watching the Lyft do circles on the map — all the while with Jenna approaching the hand-off point where no one waited for her.
At last our ride arrived. We crammed (certainly not illegally) and endured a fifteen-minute ride of near silence broken only by early morning jazz radio. Verity pulled out a copy of “Pride and Prejudice” from the dash, but it turned out to be an empty iPad case. It was silent and maybe a little awkward.
We arrived just on time to see Jenna making her way (galloping?) through Gallop Park.
8:30/40 a.m. – John encounters a woman holding a dixie cup
After Jenna handed me the belt (and Verity tightened it for me — yes, I am truly that incompetent) I was off. Unlike Jenna, I didn’t have a boyfriend or a dog awaiting me at mile three. Defeating, I know. All that expected me at such a checkpoint was an older woman hunched over, holding a cup of water and saying “good job.” Which is also fine.
The miles felt surprisingly short (which is emphatically not to say easy), and I guess I could say there seemed to be some sort of friendly ambience between all of the runners as we went along. Some understanding of mutual pain coupled with the fact that we all smelled revolting that made the movement easier. All the while I reveled in some good old Kero Kero Bonito and Polo and Pan which made me go faster (or so I’d like to believe).
The course twisted through U-M Medical Campus, through the Arb, and back down Central Campus to Hill Street where my very own abode lies. Things were feeling somewhat fantastic save a slight urge to vomit, and after my miles I finally crossed the second hand-off point, sweating violently, and I transferred the belt victoriously to Emma. Or, I would have transferred the belt victoriously to Emma, if she would have been there. She was not.
8:31 a.m. – Emma
After Verity and I watched John run off in all his glory, we made our way back to the start — this time with the wonderful (and free) help of a Michigan Flyer sponsored bus. It was as good as a chartered bus could be, which means it was pretty great. With its cushy seats and temperature control system, the bus provided a welcome respite from the morning cold. Verity and I spent the superlit ride back discussing everything from the race to high school crushes; it was an enlightening experience.
The bonding didn’t stop there, though. Once we arrived at the start, we talked to Eva Solomon, the event coordinator, about the race and started to explore the amenities offered to athletes. We eventually found Gabe Solomon, a human pancake making machine, and some scrumptious breakfast burritos. All the while John was trudging along through the second leg of the race, it truly was the best of both worlds. That said, Verity and I got sidetracked exploring the start line and ran into some problems finding the exchange point for the relay. We eventually got there (and John only had to wait for five minutes.)
9:15 a.m. – Emma listens to a podcast
Verity made a collaborative playlist so we could share what we all listened to while running and I contributed, like the team player I am. But I won’t lie: I wasn’t listening to the songs I put on there. My media of choice is a podcast and I’ve been called a psycho by one person several times because of it. I still stand by my choice – the podcast in question is Crooked Media’s “Keep it” and helps me keep up on all the pop-culture-turned-political-drama I could ever ask for. The hosts are a funny trio (Ira Madison III, Louis Virtel and (my favorite) Kara Brown) and keep my mind off the fact that I am without a doubt dying while I run.
The actual run wasn’t too eventful. Did I know where I was supposed to go the whole time? Not particularly, but that’s why the other participants are there. I will admit that it took me at least four miles to remember that the plan wasn’t for me to circle back to the start, but rather end at Gallup. Pro tip for running a race: look at the race map before you head out.
There is something oddly satisfying about running through the streets of Ann Arbor; the roads are closed just for racers and you have the whole street to yourself. I timed it well enough, or maybe I was just that slow, where there were never too many people around me, and I didn’t have to share the street with anyone but the encouraging race volunteers. My heart was light, even if my legs weren’t.
On the point of the race volunteers, I had absolutely no clue how to interact with them. Was I supposed to smile? Did I have to make eye contact? What do I do when they’re shoving water in my face? Obviously, I appreciated the water and the encouragement, but when you’re the only one in the general vicinity and have no ability to chalk up your rudeness to the fact that they weren’t talking to you, it gets real. Most of the time, I gave a half-hearted smile or quickly averted my eyes and just pretended not to hear them. I had headphones in, so that’s fine, right? My manners may appall Emily Post, but my nerves applauded the decision.
By the last three miles of the race, I was in the middle of Ira, Louis and Kara’s interview with Busy Phillips and I just have one quote to leave you with: “I know that you think that I’m like the mom down the street, and that’s chill, but I’ve also worked my fucking ass off in Hollywood for 20 years and I have some nice shit.” Busy Phillips provided all the aspirational moods I needed to get through my last mile, and I may not have worked 20 years in Hollywood by the end, but I did run seven miles and it felt great.
10:45 a.m. – Verity redeems herself from the morning
Racing on three hours of sleep and half a pancake has made me prematurely nostalgic for my youth. To be honest, one of the things that keeps me running is the fear that I won’t be able to do it later (and, of course, that I’m lucky enough to be able to do it now).
I put on St. Vincent’s “Sugarboy” when I saw Emma coming round the bend in Gallup Park, managing to time it so that my first stride landed on the line “Oh, here I go.” My body must have gone into fight or flight the moment I got out of the transfer point, because I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt such running levity. Somewhere between the sleep deprivation, potential illness, half pancake and hours of Ubers and buses ridiculously crisscrossing the same seven-mile stretch, I woke up.
I hit that sweet spot at the very beginning of my stretch, gliding down Gallup Park like a minor god, feeling full and light and … guilty. I was running with people who were completing the final six miles of their marathon. I’ve never run a full marathon (and I’m not sure if I can), but a lot of my cousins have braved the 26.2, and they all say that mile 18 is this mythically awful moment where one’s command of their legs and their race begins to unravel, and then you’re just holding on for dear life. For eight more miles. Springing around on fresh legs around these race-jaded soldiers felt idiotic.
Luckily, everything is so spaced out by mile 20 that I barely had to see anyone else. After breaking out of the first mile in Gallup, I was alone, and would remain alone until the very end. Furthermore, after Gallup Park, the course happens to overlap near-exactly with my go-to route. It was like any old weekend run, except I was flying on adrenaline and wearing a ridiculous outfit. I’m a woman in a makeshift Sharpie “Daily Artz Punk Rockers” crop top, some zany ’70s headscarf found at the Salvation Army and two race bibs, running very alone and very hard in the middle of South U.
As Emma mentioned, a huge upside to running alone in the middle of a race is that you monopolize the attention of everyone at the water stations. Each time I hit one, the eight to 10 volunteers working would lose their minds, screaming their heads off, clanging cowbells and thrusting handfuls of water cups and energy gels in my face, probably because they hadn’t seen another person in minutes. No one has ever been so excited to see me as these perfect strangers. It’s one of my favorite things about racing.
I’m greeted by one of these frantic groups before I enter the Arb, and the infamous Arb hill. I love hills. New England is composed of almost exclusively hills, a geography as consistently unfriendly as its people. I feel at home on a good hill, all limbs working in instinctive harmony to get over the damn thing. Productivity, baby. She makes you feel ALIVE.
“Sex is in the Heel” is blaring through my roommate’s earbuds as I scale Arb hill, and then melts into a bunch of Grimes as I stride through campus, back to Fingerle Lumber. By this time it’s almost 11:30, and Ann Arbor is stirring. There’s a tour group passing by the Law Quad, and I laugh thinking about how I must look to these people. I hope it informs their college decision process.
I turn the corner from Hill St to S. 5th, good Ole Fingerle Lumber, and then there’s everyone: Noah, Arya, Cassandra, John and Emma and the spirit of Jenna Barlage, jumping their hearty hearts out. I’m used to racing alone, so this sight nearly makes me cry. Emma and John peel off to join me for the last stretch, grinning like goblins, and then we’re done.