Running Bridges: The Detroit International Half Marathon

I’ve been over the Ambassador Bridge more times than I can count.

My parents have a cottage on Lake Erie in Ontario, and that’s where we’ve spent most weekends in the summer. We get to the cottage via Windsor, which ultimately means via the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.

I’ve been both the passenger and the driver. I’ve raced across the bridge, going 45 without another soul in sight, and I’ve crawled along in heavy traffic at a whopping 5 miles per hour. I’ve been over the bridge in the early morning, mid-afternoon, and the dead of night. Once, I got carsick from the stop-and-go traffic , but was able to hold it together until we got through Canadian customs and made it to the nearby McDonald’s.

But I never thought I’d run across it.

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This past Sunday, I participated in the annual Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon. I ran the international half marathon, which meant I ran through downtown Detroit, across the Ambassador Bridge, along the Detroit River in Windsor, through the Windsor Tunnel, and back through Detroit again. I ran the course in a dead-even two hours and 20 minutes.

Running over the bridge was one of the most surreal, fascinating, and exciting experiences I’ve ever encountered. I pushed myself during the incline, so I wasn’t really able to look around and soak in the scenery. (Problem: I knew if I didn’t run uphill full-out, I wouldn’t run it at all.) Once I got over the hump, I was able to back off, take a deep breath, and check out the city skyline to my left.

I’ve seen the Detroit skyline from the Ambassador Bridge no fewer than half a million times. I’ve seen it in every season, at every point throughout the day. I’ve seen it through rain and blinding sunlight, through snow and dull, cloudy days. But there was nothing like seeing it on foot, passing by slowly as I ran over the bridge.

Running 13.1 miles was hard, even with the ten months of training I had as preparation. But that one moment–looking out at the skyline while running on a bridge I’ve grown up crossing–made every ache and feeling of fatigue 100% worth it.

Apparently I’ve been bit by the running bug, because I’m doing another half marathon in Grand Rapids, Mich., in April. And you better believe I’m running Detroit again next October.

An ode to September: Why I now love my once least-favorite month

Okay, saying September was once my least-favorite month might be a bit extreme, but I never used to like it.

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October is my absolute favorite month, so I saw September as a roadblock standing in the way of perfect fall goodness. It also meant the end of the cottage season. Plus, I was usually sick of 80-degree weather by the time September rolled around, so this month was almost always too hot for me.

During the past two years, my attitude toward September has changed. Here’s why:

  1. Living in the Detroit area full time means I can spend weekends at my cottage in the fall.
  2. When you think about it, September weather is actually perfect. The mornings and evenings are cool and crisp, while most afternoons are warm enough to pad around in shorts and bare feet.
  3. The sand at the cottage is warm enough where it feels good on your feet without scorching them to the point of blistering. (Anyone who walks barefoot on sand in July is basically batty.)
  4. Most Michiganders will argue that we have no real transition between seasons, but I don’t think that’s true; I think September’s pattern of 73 degrees one day and 62 degrees the next actually helps ease us into cooler fall weather. (Feel free to disagree, of course. I know this weather drives some people insane.)
  5. The leaves begin to change in September, and it’s usually during this month where you first notice that patch of red on the maple tree in your front yard. That’s one of my favorite moments all season.
  6. My nephew was born in September. He’s pretty awesome.

September, we’ve had a good run, and I’m actually a little sad to see you go. Don’t worry–I’ll welcome you back with open arms again next year.

I’m baaaaaack!

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In case you were wondering, this is what happens when you try to take a picture of a one-year-old. But picture a teeny, tiny voice saying, “I’m baaaaack!” and it totally works.

You know those summers where you turn your back for one minute — one lousy, stinkin’ minute — and suddenly it’s the end of September and summer is over? That’s how this summer felt for me. Combine that fleeting summer with far too many nights of telling myself, yes, I am going to blog tonight, but just after this Friends episode… and you get 4+ months of zip-o blogging.

One question that has weighed heavily on my mind was this: What now? In its almost five years of existence, As told by (a) ginger has grown and shifted depending on whatever life stage I was in at the time. In the beginning, it was a blog about surviving freshman year and getting this whole college thing under my belt. Then, it turned into a blog simply about college. Then, it became this one-year happiness project, an attempt to remind myself of all the good things that happen every day during a time of weird transition.

Throughout the shifts and changes, one thing has remained constant. I always posted about things that made me happy, whether it be a silly story about something dumb I did with my college roommate, a muffin recipe my post-grad roomie and I whipped up one Thursday night, or a picture of an adorable baby animal.

Ergo, we have a slight name change (A Lifetime of Happiness | As told by (a) ginger) and a plan for the future of this blog.

Think of it as a continuation of 365 days of happiness, except it won’t be every single day, which means you’ll see fewer photos of my food. (You’re welcome.) The daily grind can be a real drag, so we all need to occasionally take a step back and appreciate the little things that happened throughout the day and made us smile. For me, it was doing a cheesy 30-minute workout DVD during lunch with my officemates this afternoon and then going through photos of my nephew’s first birthday this evening.

I’ll be honest: This blog is mainly for my own sanity, but I’m hoping these stories will remind you of your own happiness moments during the day. After all, isn’t life too short to be anything but happy?

365 days of happiness: day 365

This:

I originally posted this photo on May 6, 2013. It was a Monday evening, like today, and I was sitting out on my parents’ deck, watching the birds with my dad. It was three days after I graduated college, the day before I started my new job, and my first day in this yearlong blogging adventure.

As I look at this picture and think back over the last 365 days, all I can think is this: how on earth did one year fly by so quickly?

This year, I started my first full-time job, bought a car, moved to an apartment in Royal Oak, and became an aunt. I went running a lot, spent many nights in reading or watching Friends, gushed about my love for snow and nature, and took too many pictures of my food. I spent many weekends at Rondeau, visited friends in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, ran a 5-mile race in Baltimore that ended in wine and soup, and took more trips to Wisconsin than anyone would think is possible. I rarely blogged about this, but there were plenty of days where I felt lonely, I felt frustrated, and I felt scared and unsure about my future.

But above all else, I felt happy.

In the months leading up to graduation, all I could think about was what I was leaving behind when I crossed that stage at the Breslin Center. I thought about my friends, my sorority, my internships, and that campus that I love so much. I tried not to think about what came after, because I didn’t know what would come after; it was just this foggy abyss, with no clear direction and no end date. Finding a small piece of happiness every day this year kept me from getting lost in that abyss; it was the rope guiding me through the fog, even if I didn’t know where it was taking me.

So, today’s happiness is this: I made it! I came out of my first year in the real world with my sanity in check. And to all of you 2014 grads, know this: you will, too. 

365 days of happiness: day 364

This:

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This evening, I sat on the balcony and drank a glass of chocolate milk while T ate her dinner. It was chilly, so I was wrapped up in one of my favorite blankets. As I sat and listened to the birds sing, I felt this enormous sense of contentment wash over me.

This yearlong blogging adventure (which ends tomorrow—holy cow!) has taught me that most happiness can be found in small, seemingly insignificant moments, like sitting on a balcony listening to birds sing. It’s those moments, not the grandiose gestures that happen once in a long while, that keep us going and make life worth living. The moment I began realizing that, my life became a whole lot sweeter.

365 days of happiness: day 362

This:

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Today, I smelled freshly mowed grass for the first time since winter – that fresh, sweet smell that you don’t realize you miss until it’s finally back again.

And boy, did I miss it.

The smell lingered in my car even after I had passed the landscaping crew, and I kept breathing deeply to try to soak in as much of that sweet scent as I could. It was fleeting, only lasting a moment, but it put a smile on my face for the rest of my drive home.

365 days of happiness: day 361

This:

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Dear recent college grads,

I don’t have much good advice for you. It’s been about a year since I finished my last final and walked across the stage at the Breslin Center in my cap and gown, and I still feel like I’m struggling to figure this whole real world thing out. I can tell you that lunch breaks are vital and it might take you a while to find your groove in your first real job, but I think the most important takeaway from my first year out of college is this: You can do anything with a good roommate by your side.

T is my rock; my support system; my venting soundboard. I don’t know what I would’ve done this year without her, and I don’t think I’ve told her that enough. So while today’s happiness was the little note she left on my dresser while I was at dinner, it’s really more than that. Today, I am happy because I’m so lucky to have her as a roommate and friend.

Thank you, T.

365 days of happiness: day 360

This:

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Ernie’s Market in Oak Park is always the best choice for dinner. These sandwiches are huge, inexpensive (no joke, I paid $3.18 for that monster), and made with love. Ernie’s has been voted the best sandwich shop in Detroit every year since 2008, and it’s no surprise—between Ernie’s friendly and funny attitude and the delicious mega-sandwiches, it’s hard to find a reason not to love Ernie’s.

365 days of happiness: day 354-359

Day 354—This:

When in doubt, I can always count on music to make me happy.

Day 355–This:

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On Friday, my parents and I hit the road to go visit K, E and Baby L in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It was a long drive, but those drives are always worth it.

Day 356–This:

Saturday was spent walking through downtown Oconomowoc with my parents, K, E and Baby L. It was a warm, sunny day–perfect for pushing a stroller downtown. Guys, I love being an aunt.

Day 357–This:

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Remember how J and I made beer a couple of weeks ago? It was finally done fermenting, so we bottled it Sunday night. I can’t wait to try it when it’s done carbonating in a couple of weeks!

Day 358–This:

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Yesterday was my big brother’s 30th birthday. On the outside, my brother seems pretty quiet and reserved–most likely because he can’t talk over his three loud-mouth sisters–but when you crack his shell, J is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I’m so happy I got to spend his birthday with him.

Day 359–This:

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Today was rough, but at least I had a good dinner to make me happy.