Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So Good, It's SCARY

10/31/2010 Marine Corps Marathon 10K
Official Time: 1:16:50 (RAN THE WHOLE WAY!!!!)

Sorry for the delayed race cold has been kicking my butt, and I've also been waiting to assemble all the pictures. This will probably get a little long...please bear with me!

As I mentioned in my last entry, on Saturday I went to the race expo to pick up my packet. The energy there was amazing, and I couldn't help but take a few pictures. I love the spooky Halloween design on the t-shirt and bib!

I awoke before dawn on Halloween far before dawn, in fact, that I got dressed, drove to the metro, rode the metro all the way into DC, emerged from the metro to find it....still TOTALLY dark outside! I wasn't completely awake yet at 5am, but I tried to look alert for a pre-reace photo at home.

Here are the symbols I wore to represent Jack. I thought if I drew them on, they might come off with sweat, so I used foam stickers. I loved having them on my hands because everytime I looked down for any reason, I saw them and thought of Jack some more. He was definitely with me throughout the race!

This is the starting line for the 10K. I knew I wouldn't be lined up anywhere near it for the actual race, so I had to get my photo ahead of time. As you can see, it was still very very dark.

For you ladies who enjoy a man in uniform, this race had two preferences covered in one spot: Marines and UPS men! Dropping off my bag was one of the highlights of my morning. Heehee.

The pre-race atmosphere was fantastic! I just walked around for a while, checking out people's costumes (I don't know how some of them could run in their costumes, but they managed!), and taking pictures. There was a very positive, fun energy everywhere and I soaked it all in. Finally it was time to stretch, jog a little to warm up, and find my way to the start.

I lined up in the 1:20-1:29 corral, and that was perfect because the clock time of my finish was 1:24. We were so far back that we could just barely hear the national anthem being sung, but we sure heard whatever they shot to start to race! I'm thinking it was a cannon... When we finally got up to the start line, there was music playing and an announcer saying all kinds of encouraging things. The song switched to "Bad Romance" right before I crossed the starting line, and it was the perfect final burst of energy to get me going. I'm a big Lady Gaga fan, and my 5-year-old son sings "Bad Romance" all the time. So I started running feeling happy and excited!

The first mile felt like it went by really quickly even though I was running my usual pace. It was a challenge to dodge all the people who started walking early on, but I managed not to trip or run into anyone. I started out without using my ipod, but turned the music on sometime while I was crossing the 14th St. bridge. I ended up pausing the music several times throughout the race, anytime there were spectators cheering or other music playing, but in between I did rely on some inspirational songs to keep me going.

I'm glad I set my goals so low for this race, because I think the lack of pressure was what helped me keep going the whole time. All along I kept thinking "I can walk at any time if I need to and it's fine," but at the same time I realized that I didn't truly need to walk yet. I hit 2 miles, and then 3, and realized I was very close to my reach goal. As I approached the 4-mile marker, I knew I'd almost achieved everything I hoped to in this race, but I also thought about how I had completed a 5-mile run just two weeks before, and so i decided to keep going one more mile. I was so excited about completing 5 miles that I managed to take a photo with my phone and post it to Facebook, complete with the caption "Still running." Yes, I know, I run really slowly, or else that wouldn't have been possible. LOL

As I passed the mile 5 marker, I considered taking a walk break to conserve some energy for the big hill that I knew was coming at the end. But my ipod was blasting "Don't Stop Believin'" and all I could think was that I had just a little over a mile left to why not just keep going? So I did! I was really tired at this point, but also really motivated. I stopped thinking "I can walk at any time" and started thinking "I am going to FINISH THIS THING!!" Soon I didn't need my ipod anymore because there was loud music playing along the course. When I passed the mile 6 marker, I started to get emotional, realizing I was actually going to run the whole race. I think I would have cried a little if I hadn't been both exhausted and dehydrated. At the base of the scary hill was a Marine shouting encouraging things like "You're not finished until you get up that hill!!" Can you imagine any better motivation to charge up the hill just like a Marine? I went at it with all the strength I had left. It was insanely steep but thankfully very short. I think the hills I run regularly in my neighborhood had me well-prepared for this moment. And even if that were not true, there were throngs of cheering spectators, as well a wheelchair racer completing the marathon right next to me. It was a finish right out of a movie or something...and a truly amazing moment for me.

Unfortunately my kids chose to have one of their uncooperative mornings on Sunday, so my family didn't make it to the finish line in time to see me cross. Therefore the only running photos that exist were taken by the MarathonFoto people. Below are proofs of their shots of me approaching and then crossing the finish line.

Once I finished, I sort of wandered around in a daze for a while. I missed the medals at first because I was confused by all the crowds and didn't know where to go. I walked along where Marines were handing out Powerade, water, and bags of food, and almost kept going beyond there when I realized that a lot of people were wearing their medals. I found my way back to where they were being handed out, and an adorable Marine put one on me. Then I went and posed for the official "finisher's photo" in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial.

I was still somewhat in a daze at this point, so I just sat down on the ground and started eating a bagel. I took this opportunity for a self-portrait with my medal, which I posted to Facebook along with the exciting news that I had run the whole race!

Once I finally met up with my family and picked up my bag, we made our way back to the finish line area so they could see it. By then the marathon had already been won, but we watched a few other finishers cross. My husband took this picture of me with the finish line in the background.

Then we all took the shuttle to Crystal City and hung out in the "Crystal Run" area for a while. The kids took advantage of the snacks and fun family activities, while I stood on the side of the road and cheered on marathoners until I nearly lost my voice. That was almost as fun as running my own race! It felt great to see the appreciative looks on their faces when they'd thank us for our support. If you ever have the chance to be a volunteer or spectator for a marathon, you really should do it! It's an incredibly gratifying, not to mention inspirational, experience.

Overall, I'd say my race experience was 100% positive, and not just because I so far exceeded my expectations. It was just a great event to be part of, and I can't wait to do it again! There are so many people who run in memory of a lost loved one killed in action, or in honor of a brave soul currently deployed. As I ran, I thought of Jack and my own race dedication, but also offered a prayer for every loved one I saw pictured or named on someone's shirt. It's great to participate in an event that is about fitness and athletic competition, but has a deeper meaning also.

So my running time was 1:16:50, which is a 12:22 pace. My treadmill runs are generally at a 12:00 pace, and my outdoor runs tend to be about the same. I'm slow, but at least I'm consistent. And to quote a great shirt I saw on a fellow runner, "Slow mileage is better than No mileage." If you got this far, thanks for reading. I'm going to enjoy my feeling of accomplishment for a little while before I set another large goal. I hope to kick my cold soon so I can get back to running. As always, I'll keep you posted.

Semper Fi, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! That's a long way to run, and I'm glad you accomplished your goal. Worst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume ever though. :P