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.