Whenever there is so much for me to say about something, I end up with writers block. My brain is in information overload and I want to tell you every detail, but I’m still foggy. Frustrating. The 38th Marine Corps Marathon was challenging for me. I went with four of my running friends and stayed on the fourth floor at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington. My target race time was 4:45:00 and I clocked in at 4:44:44. Do you see a trend setting? Not sure what was up with the number four, maybe it’s because I turned 40 last week, but it seemed to be my lucky number.
We were up at 5 a.m. to get ready for the race. Unfortunately, I only had about an hour of sleep as my wonderful roommate snored and I’m a light sleeper. She warned me ahead of time, but I wasn’t prepared. I finally dozed off about an hour before the wake up call came. What really sucks is that during that hour of sleep, I had a marathon nightmare. I dreamt that I was in the starting line only to realize I was wearing jeans. How was I going to run a marathon in jeans?? I was frantic trying to get to my room to change, the race was starting and I was missing it! Anyway, wake up call came and I was up. I made sure that I got plenty of rest Friday night and I hoped that would be enough to carry me through 26.2 miles. I ended up scheduling room service for breakfast at a very heavy price, but it was worth it to not worry about getting down to the buffet and scarfing down food before heading out. I got dressed and checked and double checked that I had all of my Gu’s and my baby banana were tucked in my belt. It has become tradition for us to wear the same outfits during races. This time, we were all running our own races, so we wore the same Lululemon Pacetters, and Under Armour tank tops, but we chose different colors.
We took our traditional pre-race pictures…
Wrote inspiring messages on our legs, which included the names of two of our sole sisters who were unable to run this race due to injury.
These are mine 🙂
Layered up in our throw away clothes and headed out.
Our hotel was one metro stop away from the start line. I felt sorry for anyone who was not in the race that had to use the metro to get somewhere on Sunday. The runners totally took over! I was so glad that we purchased preloaded metro cards when we went down to the expo as it really expedited our way in and out of the metro.
Instead of all four of us checking in separate bags, we consolidated everything into one and checked it in, and then headed to the port-a-potty lines…the long port-a-potty lines. As we waited, Meg realized she forgot to use Glide. Thank goodness Kendra had it with her, if only I were as smart as Meg. I did not glide at all. I had no idea what I was thinking, but I paid for it in the end. I’ve got a nice chafe burn all around the front of my ribcage where my sports bra rubbed and I ended up chafing in places that never chafed before…how THAT happened, Lord only knows (still hurts to sit a little).
The race was scheduled to start at 7:55, so when I looked at my watch and it said 7:45, I was in a panic…we were still waiting in line!!! Little did I know that it would take me an additional 15 minutes after the howitzer shot off before my pace group even crossed the start line. While we were still waiting to use the potties, the opening ceremonies began. We saw the skydivers jump from their plane with American flags beautifully waving in the wind (notice there was only four jumpers in this shot, but I believe there were about a half a dozen jumpers). The view was breathtaking.
The corral for the start was INSANE! We weaved and squeezed to about the 5:30 corral before I decided to go on my own to find the 4:45 group. My friends knew that it was important to me to try and reach that goal, so they were fine with me breaking away. (Thanks for letting me use your picture Katy!)
Once I made my way out of the corral area, I jogged up to where I thought the 4:45 group would be and with the help of some of the runners, jumped the fence to the start. Now, while they were kind enough to help me jump the fence, they were in no mood for my chit chat. It was the first time I felt alone and lonely. I always run with my friends and it’s calming for me to be at the start easing our nerves together. My longest distance running alone was a 13 mile training run. It hit me that this may be harder than I expected. I was without my security blanket.
When it was time for us to go, I felt great with the exception of my two numb feet. It was like running on frozen stumps. It would take about 3 miles for me to find feeling in my feet again. I was constantly checking my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t running too fast. My adrenaline was in high gear and I wanted to sprint to the finish. Looking at my times below, you can see I was all over the place. I could feel myself speed up and have to slow myself down. I kept repeating in my head, “Save it for the end. Save it for the end.”
I was grateful to run into two other runners that I knew from training group. YES! SOMEONE TO TALK TOO! Even if it was just for a brief moment, it was great to see familiar faces.
- 11:16 (STUPID FREAKING HILL!!!)
I felt great and did well until mile 24 when I started to feel the sweet pain of running a marathon. It was the first time I thought I was going to have to walk. I pushed through up until the stupid hill around mile 25. I ran up that hill until my legs just stopped. I had to literally walk three steps to get to the top of the hill and then continue to run. I was SO CLOSE! At that moment, I was sure I was going to miss my goal and I had to really dig deep to find the strength and energy to push through without walking.
As I said in the beginning, there’s so much to say and my brain just can’t process it, so I’m going to have to resort to my handy bulleted list of highlighted items.
What did I consume during the race?
- 3 caffeinated salted caramel Gu’s
- 1 chocolate raspberry Roctane
- 1 non-caffeinated vanilla Clif shot
- 1 orange wedge
- 1 baby banana
- lemon-lime Gatorade
What inspired me?
- The marines who cheered us on and all of the amazing spectators.
- The competitors racing with hand bikes. How the heck do they do that??
- The triple amputee who was miles ahead of me.
- Wear Blue: Run to Remember (http://www.wearblueruntoremember.org/marine-corps-marathon.html). I wish I had pictures of this part of the race. Volunteers held flags next to pictures of fallen soldiers. It was heartbreaking to see the names, faces, and ages of these soldiers…so many and oh so young. The Wear Blue: Run to Remember organization did a beautiful job of their living memorial tribute to our servicemen and women. Thank you for what you did!
- 22 too many. I kept seeing runners with signs pinned to their backs that said “22 Too Many” in light of current statistics showing that 22 veterans commit suicide per day. By running marathons and other races in honor of these veterans, we hope to raise awareness of combat related PTSD, and provide comfort to the veterans’ survivors. (https://www.facebook.com/22TooMany) The statistic is shocking and it made me grateful for what they did to protect our freedom.
Things I enjoyed.
- The bands, all of them. Rock bands, high school marching bands, the percussions, the bag pipers (which always make me tear up), even the solo guy playing the acoustic guitar.
- Running into friends during the run.
- Post-race meal. Kendra and I treated ourselves to steak dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. And yes, we wore our medals.
- Meeting up with my best friend after dinner and having way to many martini’s.
What motivated me?
- All the things that inspired me, of course.
- My friend Michele who came out with her dog Blue at the Capitol to see me…an hour in a half before I was scheduled to be in that area. She thinks I’m Flash and that I run like a Kenyan. I heart her.
- Jim, one of the runners who runs in my training group was a spectator for his wife Shirley who was running MCM as her first marathon. I heart them both and when I saw him cheer us on, it was like home.
- The need to prove to a friend that I COULD reach my 4:45:00 goal. Little did she know (she will now) that the little bit of “I’ll show her” got me through some of the toughest parts of the race. I could not bare to see the look of “I told you so” on her face in the end. It’s not that she doubted me, she was concerned…but still, concerned is just a little bit of worry with a sprinkle of doubt…I had to prove that it was unwarranted. I heart her, because I know her concern was only out of love and friendship.
Things that kinda sucked.
- I scheduled a massage for me and Kendra for after the race. The place had great reviews and the price was right. Little did I know that my masseuse was going to beat me up…literally. She smacked my sunburned face, pounded on my sore legs and feet, and slimed my hair with baby oil. It was not the massage I had expected.
- The chafing. Again, don’t know what I was thinking, but I’m a dumbass for not Gliding.
- The 14th Street bridge is no joke. It’s never ending and it’s brutal. I wanted to throat punch the bridge by the time I was finished with it.
- The very last hill around mile 25. Seriously folks, no hills at the end of a race, OKAY??
- My mobile phone crapped out on me towards the end. I had it set up so that my friends and family could text me and I would hear their texts through my earphone while my music was playing. During the last miles, when I was dying, every time a text came through, my music stopped and my text message was not read out loud. I had to fiddle with my phone each time a new message came through. I finally gave up in the end and finished the race in silence.
- Stay closer to the finish line next time I run a marathon that requires travel, while it was nice to get to the start line fairly quickly, it sucked trying to get back to the hotel after the race. My friends and I waddled like ducks until we figured out a hidden entrance to get on the metro and bypass the three block long line to get in. Yes, THREE BLOCKS!!!
- Stay better hydrated. While I wore my water belt with two 8 oz bottles of water mixed with Gatorade and consumed Gatorade and water from the water stops, I was a little dehydrated after the race. The only good thing about that is that I didn’t stop to pee once. The bad, I was of course, a little dehydrated.
- When washing your prized finisher shirt, DO NOT forget to make sure the sleeves are all the way inside of the washer! I’m absolutely devastated that I ripped the sleeve right off of my shirt before I could wear it around town! You don’t understand!!!! I missed out on the Baltimore Marathon finisher shirts and I waited forever in line for the MCM one. I wanted…no, I NEEDED this shirt! I don’t even care that I ripped the gasket our of my upright washer, what I cared about is my FINISHER shirt!!!
All in all, it was a great race and I’m so happy with my results. We “Rocked the Mock” on Monday and waddled like ducks around town. I’m still waiting for my official MarathonFoto and will post them when they are ready. Next race…I’m working on it 😉