What a whirlwind these past couple of days have been! Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and thankfully we did not lose power over here at my friend’s house. I will be in Maryland for the rest of the week, enjoying post marathon recovery and a well deserved vacation! I guess I had better get you caught up on this past weekend’s marathon festivities…
I arrived into the DC area late Friday nite after a long flight from Dallas. I was pooped but I knew I had to find some carbs fast! Some of my Luke’s friends were also running the race too so we all decided to link up for a meal. I enjoyed some delicious shrimp pasta and then we noshed on cupcakes afterwards. So tasty.
Saturday nite my hotel roomie Laurie and I laid out our race clothes. I loved my race outfit this year…I did break the rule about getting new clothes and wore a brand new pink running skirt! It was so comfy and I am actually glad that I colored outside the lines a bit and made that purchase.
Race morning! Laurie and I had been discussing the weather the night before and we knew Hurricane Sandy was right off of the coast. We were prepped for the worse but thankfully we woke up to no rain! It was a breezy, yet humid 50 something degrees the morning of the race. We met up with our other Luke’s Locker buddies and made our way to Runner’s Village via the Metro. Of course we had to take some pre race photos.
I also ran into some of my buddies from Philly, Eric and Anthony! It was Anthony’s first marathon and I knew he would rock it.
My friends Lori, Laurence and I lined up in the 4 hour corrals along with thousands of other runners. It was a LOT more runners this year from what I remember of last year’s race! Lori and I said a little prayer for happy strong legs, the gun went off and we were on our way.
The first half of the race was mostly rolling hills, and I started off with a 9 minute pace. My goal for this race was to stay around the 9 minute pace mark for a while and then in the back half see if I could negative split. The first half of the race was thick with crowds of runners and for the most part it did not thin out. I put on my music to zone out a bit. My first 10K was a 9:02 pace. Right on target for where I wanted to be.
Towards the half marathon point I started mentally struggling. I don’t know why it happened for me so early in the game. It was humid, and the winds from Sandy started picking up a bit. Once I hit 13.1 in around the 2 hour mark I knew that it would take a lot out of me to get to a sub 4 marathon finish like earlier in the year and of course from last year’s PR finish. I started feeling here like I wanted to quit. During my pity party, as I looked up I saw signs of all of the fallen Marines that were killed in battle. One after the other. Photos of every one of them. This gave me strength somehow and really put things in perspective for me. I shuffled along and picked up the pace a bit.
Although my pace had slowed…towards the back half of the race I started feeling good, like I was capable of finishing this race. My pace had slowed by nearly a minute around the 18 mile mark. I allowed myself to take it easy here and in perspective I probably could have picked it up, but I just wanted to finish strong and healthy. I was so happy that I had written my name on my shirt this year! Spectators left and right were cheering for me, total strangers and it was awesome. Whenever I was feeling down on myself, a runner would pass by me after looking at the back of my shirt which read my favorite scripture, Phil 4:13. They would say “You can do ALL THINGS through Christ…keep going!” and it was just what I needed to hear. I have a feeling it encouraged them to persevere as well.
After conquering the bridge at mile 20, which is a LONG stretch of road with almost no spectators for 2 miles, we entered Crystal City with people all around. I stopped at each water stop for Gatorade and water here, and although my legs were starting to feel heavy, I drew strength from the people around me and from the Marines to charge to the end. I could feel my muscles and everything in my body ached but I tried to push back all of those feelings and push forward. We circled back around and I saw the Iwo Jima hill and the finish line in the distance. My eyes welled up in tears, knowing I had finally made it to the end. I knew God was with me the whole way, and I felt that my late aunt who was an avid runner was there the whole time too, coaching me to stay strong.
My finish time was not my best by far, 4:28 on the clock. It took me some time for that finish time to sink in, and actually when I spoke with several others not everyone was thrilled with their times this year. But just the fact that I finished this thing, that I overcame all of those mental struggles that plagued me so early in this race, was enough satisfaction for me. The marathon will always be there – it’s the ultimate mental test. Not all races are created equal, and I have learned that just from doing a handful of these bad boys. I will ALWAYS be challenged and forever changed by the 26.2.
I did it. Number 5 is behind me, and I am looking forward to conquering the next one.
So I have had a few days to recover from Sunday’s marathon. Boy, were those days needed! Tomorrow is my last day here in Washington D.C. and then I’ll be headed back to Dallas. I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here and I almost don’t want to leave! I have gotten to spend some time with so many amazing long lost friends from college. Some of them I haven’t seen in years. It has been nice to reminisce with them and catch up on their lives. One of my best friends got engaged the other day, I am so happy for her!! Congrats Aditi!!!
I am guessing you want to hear a little bit about how the race went, huh? It was absolutely the best marathon experience I’ve had thus far. Yes, I am a little bit bias considering my finish time, but I loved everything about this race. It was the only marathon I’ve done so far that I can honestly say I want to do again. The Marines, awesome volunteers, beautiful mouments and sights along the course, and even down to the runners who support each other along the way really made this one memorable.
Me and my running buddy Laurie flew in Friday and headed over via the Metro to our hotel to drop off our bags, then to the expo to pick up our packets. The Marines gave us our bibs then we went and got our race shirts and did some shopping at the Brooks store. The expo had a lot of great booths, and it was hard not to want to stay in there forever but we made our way out of there.
We were real low key on Friday and ate dinner at the hotel. We stayed at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, and we got a beautiful room overlooking the capitol.
I enjoyed my stay at the hotel but in my opinion it was a little overpriced for the small amount of amenities that they offered. Anyway, I did like the low key-ness of the restaurant. We met a few people at the hotel running the marathon which was cool. Saturday night they even had an Italian buffet for a decent price for the runners. I laid out my clothes after that and got ready for the big day on Sunday.
Sunday morning, race day. I must say I was a little bit bummed because a couple of nights before I accidently dropped my ipod shuffle in the bathroom sink. Awesome, right? Perfect timing. Even after putting it in rice and doing all of those tricks to dry it out…no music. Anyway, so I decided I was going to suck it up and how many long training runs have I done sans the ipod? Like, a bunch. So I decided that music was not going to be my handicap and I had better quit crying and get over it.
Laurie and I took the metro up to the race site which proved to be the perfect way to travel there! I really like how organized the public transportation is in D.C. We got there quickly without the stress of having to drive. It was freezing that morning, temps in the 30s! So I decided against my skirt and went with my hoodie, leggings and compression socks. They worked out perfectly.
We went to line up and the gun went off. It only took us about 3 minutes to pass the start, which I was happy about. We got right near the 4 hour finish corral area which worked out great.
Pretty much the first 5 or so miles the runners were packed and it did not thin out. So I took that to my advantage and made sure to hold back a bit with my pace. I was just about at 9 minute pace at the 10K and was feeling good, and feeling like I was holding back just right. Since I didn’t have my ipod, I decided I would really take in the sights around me, and even talk to some of the runners who were at my pace. One guy I talked to was running his 20th marathon. It was amazing to hear some of the runner’s stories…something I would not have been able to do had I been wearing my ipod. Everyone was so cordial, and encouraging towards one another. Even when the wheelchair athletes went by the runners would say “on your left” or “make a hole!!” for them to get by. I thought that was so cool.
When I hit 30K, I was surprised at how amazing I was feeling. I had picked up my pace to about an 8:45 and felt like I could hold on to it. It was great that I felt like I hadn’t hit a wall or wanted to slow down. Just seeing all of the runners and how determined everyone looked was so motivating. Even at the water stops, the Marines would say “keep it up! you’re doing great!” and it would be just what you needed to hear to keep trucking.
I hit mile 20 and we were on a bridge with a little bit of an incline and a long stretch of road. I started feeling a little tired here but knew I was almost done. So I started talking to myself. Out loud. I didn’t really care who was listening. So I started repeating Phillippians 4:13 to myself and calling out the names of all of the people who I was running for. My dad who has been sick as of late, my late aunt who was an avid runner…all of the people I wanted to be strong for. And it worked…it gave me the determination I needed to keep going. Towards the end…around mile 24-25, I saw people struggling and I encouraged them and told them to keep going, and they encouraged me.
Finally, I saw the finish straight ahead. The finish had one of the biggest uphills, although it was short lived. At that point I was just running off of adrenaline. I finished strong and gave it all I had.
I can definitely say I fought the hardest during this race and felt mentally stronger than I’ve ever felt during a race. I am not sure if it was the Marines, the runners around me, or what that made me feel that way. But I felt it, the whole way. I didn’t want to stop, no matter how tired I was, I ignored all of those thoughts of being tired and kept pushing. Yeah, I definitely felt sore afterwards (and until today, had to go down the stairs backwards) but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It just so happens that I nailed my sub 4 hour time goal with a finish time of 3:54.
Marathon number 3 is in the books.
I did it.