A marathon isn’t just the 26.2 miles ran on race day. A marathon is the blood, sweat and tears that go into the weeks of training. Late nights traded in for early morning runs. You learn things about yourself; your doubts fade as your accomplishments shine. My marathon wasn’t 26.2 miles in 5:18:26. My marathon was 16 weeks, 315.2 miles, 59:41:12. Every second was worth it. I’m a marathoner!
WOW! What a ride. I think I’m finally coming down off of my marathon high. I haven’t been able to sit down and type out everything I wanted to say, which is why this recaps is a few weeks late!
I want to start by saying how happy I am that I chose MCM as my first marathon. I feel so blessed to be able to run in our nation’s capitol alongside 30,000 amazing people, many of whom are veterans and active duty members of our armed forces. I didn’t take a minute of it for granted.
We arrived in D.C. on Friday afternoon and headed straight for the expo. My 6-year-old was running the kid’s run in the morning and we needed his bib (and mine!). The expo was huge, crowded and slightly overwhelming. We didn’t spend too much time there because after 8 hours in the car, we were ready to relax at the hotel.
On Saturday, I met up with other members of the MCM & 10K club Facebook group. We did a 2.5 mile shake out run through the National Mall. It was nice to be around other runners and calm my nerves. Afterwards, I headed for the Pentagon to meet my family at the Kid’s run. Over 3,600 kids were running that day. The race was very well-organized with waves going off every 45 minutes or so. The kids had so much fun. I highly recommend signing your kids up if you’re from the area or in town to run MCM.
Onto race day…
I was up early due to nerves and excitement. The day I had been anticipating for months was finally here! I arrived at the Metro around 6:45 and got ride on. I was staying in Crystal City so I had 2 stops to the Pentagon. I arrived and waited in the security line. It wasn’t fast by any means but I didn’t have the delayed start that many experienced. Luckily I made it through with plenty of time to enjoy all the pre-race activities. The atmosphere at the start was amazing and I was incredibly emotional.
I decided to line up with the 4:45 pace group. My training had that as my projected finish time but due to knee pain I hadn’t proven that I could maintain a 10:53 pace for that long. My main goal for my first marathon was to finish and being in D.C. I wanted to take in the sights.
7:55 the Howitzer went off and the crowd began to move. At 8:15, I made it over the start line.
The race course was crowded and would remain that way the entire time. The pace felt good even for an uphill climb. The spectators were amazing!
Around mile 7, I started to fall behind the pacer. I also felt the need for a pee break so I decided I would stop. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable for the next 4 hours just to save a few minutes. Luckily, the line was short and I moved as quickly as possible.
At this point I was on the return trip of an out and back loop. I could see the back of the pack on their way out to where I had just run. Anyone who completes a marathon is an inspiration to me. Whether you run a 5 minute mile or a 15 minute mile, you are a badass!
I planned to see my family around mile 11 so I shot them a quick text and realized I had missed them. This would happen several times. I had a moment of utter despair. I really needed to see them. I felt fine and everything was going well but in my mind I was supposed to see them and it wasn’t happening. It took me a few minutes to get over it and just focus on my run.
Mile 12 was hosted by Wear Blue: Run to Remember. They are an amazing organization that honors our fallen services members. There was a half mile lined with the faces and names of fallen men and women followed by a half mile of *Wear Blue* volunteers holding flags and cheering us on. It was an amazingly emotional and encouraging mile.
At the mile 13 water stop, I topped off my hydration pack. I run with Tailwind, so having it available (in my water) is key. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized my knee was pain-free. As I mentioned before, my last few long runs ended in a strong discomfort in my left knee.
Miles 17-19 run up and down the National Mall.
Mile 20 is the infamous “Beat the Bridge” point. Runners have to be here by 1:15 or they are scooped up by the van and taken to the finish area. I stopped here to take a picture with a handsome Marine and rejoice in the fact that every step from this point on was a personal best for me!
That bridge was awful!! It was hot, uphill and wide so runners were very spread out. I had been waiting for more elbow room the whole time but it felt LONELY!
Mile 22 brings you into Crystal City. At the end of the bridge, I saw more MRTT mommas. They had an amazing presence along the course.
Just after mile 23 you turn back and head for the finish. They had a HUGE fan blowing water across the road to cool us down. AMAZING.
One of my favorite parts was hearing a Marine yell “WHY ARE THEY MARATHONERS *WALKING* ON MY RACE COURSE????” I was running, but it still made me chuckle.
We passed mile 25 at the Pentagon right where the kids had run the day before. Then we ran along where the start line had been. A half mile up was where I saw my family, ***finally***. I stopped for hugs and a picture and dropped my hydration pack. I was ready to bring it home. I ran down, passed the sign for mile 26, turned left and charged the hill. The Marines were VERY motivating on this torturous hill. One more turn and we were headed towards the finish. I had made it. I threw my hands in the air and started to tear up a bit.
I was a marathoner! All my months of training had paid off and I felt on top of the world!
I couldn’t believe how good I felt, physically.
I snapped some pictures in front of the Iwo Jima memorial, grabbed some food and water and joined the mass of runners slowly walking out of the finish area.
I grabbed my free beer, chatted with a few fellow runners and made my way back to the metro. The line was about 4 blocks long but moved fairly quick. The atmosphere was just as amazing as it had been at the start. Everyone was so happy and full of life. Runner’s high at its best.
That night, my family spoiled me with Hibachi and I went to bed pretty early. We’d be heading home the next day but not before walking over 6 miles around the city seeing more landmarks and checking out the Museum of Natural History.
As funny as I must have looked walking around that day, I truly think it is the reason I had a fairly unremarkable marathon recovery. Besides a little stiffness after not moving for a while, ie. the car ride home and sleeping that night, I felt pretty darn good.
As wonderful as my first marathon experience was, I won’t be running another one anytime soon. However, one day, I will get that sub 5:00 marathon 😉
Oh… and I raised $1,674 for Girls on the Run. Thank you to every one while supported my goals.