Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm a marathoner!

 Love the medal.  I'm probably biased, but I think it might be my favorite.  I am a marathoner!  I've wanted to run a full marathon for SO long, and as I said earlier, I got a Marine Corps registration back in February since it sold out in 28 hours.  But I had so much going on and life got in the way, and 2 of my 3 longest training runs never happened.  I don't regret it - I chose to drop them - because I just couldn’t handle all of the half marathons and my other commitments while making time for the training runs, and that was the right choice for me.  Yet, I still had put a lot of time into training and I couldn't help but want to run MCM.
 Parachuting to the start with an American flag.  Really great way to start a race.
 The flyover at the start

And I did it!  I crossed running a full marathon off my bucket list!  It wasn't easy.  In fact, it was one of the more painful experiences of my life.  The race started out great for me.  It was a very cold day and waiting at the start made me nervous.  In fact, the day before it had snowed a tiny bit, which is basically unheard of in DC in October.  I ultimately decided to run in pants and a long sleeve shirt, which I think was too much by the end of the race but it wasn't unbearable.
 It was SOOO cold.  And I was SOOO nervous.
As we got going, I started with the 4 hour group with the plan to drop back around the half way mark. I somehow got ahead of the 4 hour pacegroup (the race was crowded and staying with them was honestly taking more effort than it was helping me), and I'm not sure when they passed me but at some point I fell behind them.  I met some nice people, held a few brief conversations, ran up a bridge covered in ice (eesh!), and was feeing solid.  Since I’m used to running much faster for 13 miles, everything felt good and in control.  I got to see Adam a few times, and he even jumped into to run with me for a few seconds and made me feel great.
 Near the start
Here we go!
Then mile 20 happened.  Probably not coincidentally, 20 miles was my longest training run to date, and that training run had ended with me walking into my apartment and bursting into tears.  Not a confidence instilling event. 
It didn't disappoint in this race either, as somewhere in that mile my Gatorade and GU did not stay down.  I'll keep details to a minimum, but things started to go downhill after that.  Then my calf muscles started to spasm and I had to walk really frequently to be able to keep moving at all.  I would tell myself to just run 100 steps and then I could walk 20, but I don’t think I ever even made it to 100 because my calves would spasm so bad.  It was painful, and it was difficult.  But in a lot of ways, that's why I'm even prouder - because I did not give up.  Sure, there's no shame in dropping out, but I wanted and in some ways I needed to do this.  So I did.
I'm so spoiled from being used to the DC views, but this reminds me how great the area is.
The day before the race I picked up my registration (since I'd paid I figured I'd get the tshirt anyway), and it wasn't until we were walking out, a full 15 hours before the race, that I officially decided to run it.  I chose not to tell anyone other than my family or Adam that it was definitely happening.  It sounds silly, but I was afraid that everyone knowing would put too much pressure on me to finish and I wouldn’t drop out if I felt that it was the right choice. My ultimate goal was 4:20, and despite slowing down a TON for the last six miles, I finished in 4:14:30.  Nothing too great, but for me, a huge victory. 
I wasn't giving up!
The marines did a great job with this race, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a first marathon.  Plus, the crowd support was tremendous.  The pride of having a marine place a medal around my neck and congratulate me, when of course they are incredible heroes, is a moment I will never forget.  Whenever I thought I couldn’t take another step, I thought about how they defend our freedom daily and the struggles they go through that make a marathon seem easy, and suddenly I felt the strength to go on.   
 Calling mom after the race. 
I honestly thought I would cry at the end of the race, but I was too tired to do even that.  I am so proud to have been part of this race and to push my limits.  And of course, I’m now one of those annoying people with the 26.2 sticker on their car!  This was probably one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never ever forget it.  I'm so glad I pushed through and so appreciative of all the support I received.  As always, this one’s for you, Mom.
I wore a sign on my back for the race that said "This one's for you, Mom."
 Celebrating at the finish!

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