Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If heaven ain't a lot like Detroit, then I don't want to go.

I went home this past weekend - with two native New Englanders in tow - to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in Detroit, MI. Convincing people that have never been to Detroit that they want to go there can take some work - hell, it can take work to convince people that HAVE been there.

The half-marathon has a great course, though. It not only winds through some of the more interesting parts of Detroit (Corktown, old Tiger Stadium); it also crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, takes you three or four miles along the river in Windsor, then brings you back to Detroit through the tunnel, giving the course the distinction of having the world's only underwater mile. (The full marathon course is even cooler - it includes Belle Isle and Indian Town - but you won't see me doing any of those any time soon.) But in addition to all the sites they would see on the course, I wanted to show my fellow Trifecta members some other good things about Detroit.

First up: we had Becky organize a massive girls-only trip to Boogie Fever (technically in Ferndale, but close enough). There is no better way to kick off a weekend than a light-up dance floor and some dancing and pointing. The only draw back: I always forget that Michigan allows people to smoke in bars. Get rid of it already!

Dancing, singing, and of course, pointing at Boogie Fever

After we (Amanda and I) picked KLF up at the airport on Saturday, we headed into Detroit to pick up our race packets at Cobo. Kristen came along and at her suggestion we boarded the People Mover (the so-bad-it's-good piece of public transportation) and showed the girls around Greektown and Foxtown.

First stop was the Astoria Pastry Shop for mouth-watering baked goods. I almost don't know where to look first when I walk into the Astoria. Do I go for a traditional Greek pastry? Some kind of cheesecake? A giant meringue or a chocolate-dipped muffin? (Cheesecake usually prevails and this occasion was no different. I picked caramel apple cheesecake - picture the cinnamony, spicy flavors of apple pie in a cheesecake consistency with a caramel topping. Yes, it was as good as it sounds!) After selecting our confections, we headed to Foxtown for a drink.

(I have to stop here and ask why there were six separate wedding parties waiting to have their pictures taken with the big tiger statue at Comerica Park. Is that really such a wedding photography hot spot?)

Trifecta on the People Mover

Unfortunately, Cheli's and Hockeytown were both completely packed with people either there early for the Red Wings Game or watching the Michigan State/Ohio State game ('annihilation' might be a more appropriate term). Unable to grab a beer, we went back to Greektown and headed to an early dinner at Pegasus Taverna, home of the best neon sign in Greektown and fantastic Greek food. (Naturally we started the meal with Saganaki so we could yell "Opa!" - or at least, our waitress could.)

Opa! Greek Food at Pegasus.

Once we were stuffed full of grape leaves and lamb and pasta casserole, it was time to once again board the People Mover and head back to the Cobo/Joe Louis Arena area for...wait for it...the Red Wings Game! I was thrilled to see my boys on their own turf against the Rangers, even if the Rangers were too stupid to resign Shanahan. It got even better when the Wings managed to score 29 seconds into the first period and follow it with another four minutes later.

Things got a little close when the Rangers managed to tie it up and pull ahead, thanks to some sloppy play in the second and third periods. However, Jiri Hudler was able to tie it and send the game into OT...where our newest acquisition, former Pittsburgh Penguin Marian Hossa was able to score his 300th career goal and his first goal as a Red Wing.

Getting up at 4:00 AM to get ready for the half marathon was not the most pleasant thing in the world, but all was good once we started. The weather was perfect - a little too cold for standing around but great for running. The views of Detroit from Windsor were amazing, and there were thousands of spectators cheering the final stretch to the finish line. My personal favorite sight: the woman who came out to encourage the runners by holding up a sign that read "You are better than the Lions." We celebrated our finish by heading back to Ypsi for the best burgers in the world at Sidetrack.

Trifecta post-finish.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. It's not quite as hard to come back to Connecticut as it used to be, but it's still a little difficult. At least before I came back this time I got to show some north easterners why I like Michigan so much.

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