What Happens after Mile 17?

Katie Siroonian, Northville, shares with us her first marathon experience.


My First Marathon


"I think the hardest part of running a marathon is getting to the start line. Once I was on the course the crowd carried me."

"What happens after mile 17?

I kept asking myself that question for 3 weeks leading up to the Detroit Free Press marathon. I was more confident about 26.2 back in June when I signed up for the race, but seasonal allergies came late August and I had a set back in my training. My longest training run before the marathon was only 17 miles. Leading up to the marathon I was second guessing my decision to run the full, but what got me to the start line was the support of my friends at Gazelle Sports run camp and our coach - Angela. They believed in me more than I believed in myself.

I think the hardest part of running a marathon is getting to the start line. Once I was on the course the crowd carried me. I started the race with two of my run camp friends and just before the 2 mile mark I had to take an unexpected bathroom break. For a mile or two after that I tried to speed up to find them, but realized that would just exhaust me. I read a quote somewhere that said "Running is 90% mental and the rest is physical," but what it doesn't tell you is how hard that mental part really can be. In my experience- running with friends is much easier than running alone, but at this point I had to accept that I would be running for the next few hours alone... and I had a BLAST!

The first part of the race went by super quick.

 It was my first time to Canada and running across the bridge was beautiful. There was tons of crowd support coming back to the States until the 13.1 runners split off. Things started to quiet down from there and I was forced to listen to my own thoughts. As 17 approached I started to think, "I'm almost to my longest run ever and every step after that will be my longest run. Just one step at a time."

Right around 17 I saw a gentleman holding up his golden retriever for high fives. His dog looked just like my dog Chloe, so I went over to give the pup a high five! Another runner just behind me did the same thing and we both started laughing about how cute that dog was. I noticed he had a "first timer" green bib on and I mentioned how it was my first marathon too. One mile after the next we started chatting and getting to know each other. Before we realized it we were approaching Belle Isle, which is right around mile 20. I told him if he needed to he could pull ahead, but we were holding a pretty consistent pace and both agreed that we were finishing this race together. What was so cool about meeting each other on the course was that his longest training run had been 18 and mine was 17, which was right around where we met each other! My friends always laugh because almost every long distance race I run, I say I'll probably meet a friend out there. The Law of Attraction really came through for me Sunday morning.

So, "what happens after mile 17?" Well- it's different for everyone, but if you are lucky the universe will give you a friend who will get you to that finish line. On the last stretch to the finish I saw my friends and parents cheering me on and I yelled something to them just before I crossed the line. It wasn't, "OMG! I just ran a marathon."

It was- "Look! I made a friend!"

and I pointed to my running buddy as we crossed the finish line together.