9 runners. 1 spouse (Thank you, Susan!). 1 sister-n-law(Thank you, Denise!). A Mercedes. A Marine Corps Marathon. Manchester meets Washington D.C. for MCM!
The 2009 Marine Corps Marathon was and is the only long distance event on my calendar this year.2008 was the year of a lifetime, but 2009, well, not so much. If you've followed me at all on Twitter, Facebook, or on the occasion that I actually do post a blog entry here, you probably know it's been a roller coaster ride. Train hard for a week, do nothing for a week. Get up at 4 a.m. for a week, then hit-snooze-until-I'm-almost-late-for-work for a week. I've been in and out of doing MCM more times than I care to mention. So, when I finally got a decent 20 miler in the books 2 weeks prior to race day, I made the decision to go. I really had no goals that I would have ever mentioned in public, but I'll just be honest with you...somehow I was secretly hoping I was Super Girl and could go bust out a sub-4. Hehehe...yeah, go ahead and laugh. My marathon PR is a 3:56.This was seriously a recession-proof trip. We arrived in D.C. Saturday, ate lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, took the metro to the expo, ate dinner back at the Embassy Suites where we were staying, crammed the girls in one room, the guys in another, and depended on Denise, Yogi's sister-in-law and a local resident, to transport us to the race Sunday morning. Then back to the hotel after the race to get to head home. If you ever wonder if a Mercedes is actually worth the extra money, let me go ahead and answer that question once and for all - Hell Yes, it's worth it. That thing is like one of those tents in Harry Potter - you can just keep cramming people into it! Note that this was a car, not an SUV...but it rolled us all the way to the Pentagon in time for the race start, when the line on the shuttles would have made us at least an hour late. (Note to self - and anyone else planning on doing MCM in the future: Do NOT wait until an before race start to catch the shuttle. You won't make it in time...not even close.)
So we all made it to the start line and wished each other good luck. Yogi, Holly, Lee and Jonathon were out of site before I even knew what was going on. I ran with Tim, and Heather, Tammie and Ros jumped into the crowd somewhere behind us. There were so many people you really couldn't move. We kind of just cruised along at the pace of everyone around us for the first couple of miles, and then I got impatient. It was a beautiful day, I felt halfway decent, and I had a huge rush of adrenaline just from the fact that I was back at the races. It had been almost exactly 51 weeks since I had done anything of the sort (IMFL), and I certainly did feel like myself again. You know what I mean, right? That uncertainty of what's going to happen - because it's 26.2, anything can happen, the beautiful sunrise promising a great day to run, the OMG how I love the marathon, all the people, the sheer excitement, the butterflies, the I-will-do-this-if-I-have-to-crawl-to-the-finish-line. You know what I'm talking about. Go 51 weeks without it, when you've been used to it, and see if you don't get overly excited and overly confident in yourself too.
And that's what I was - overconfident. When I finally saw a little bit of daylight through the crowd, I went too fast. Some of the miles were close to 8 minutes. At one time, Tim even came right out and told me that we needed to check up. I crossed the halfway mark around 1:53 still feeling pretty good. Mile 15 came, though, and I knew I was starting to slow down. Mile 16 I finally found the port-a-potty I needed, Mile 17 hurt like 7 hells trying to get my legs going again, and at Mile 18 I was done by all manners of any kind of respectful marathon running. Mile 20 brought the cramps in my calves and the death march -the run as far as I could, then walk until I could run again and repeat. I crossed the finish line at 4:16:53. I remember seeing the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, other than that I can't really tell you too much else about the course. One thing that I thought was really cool about the finish of this marathon was all the people...there were tons crossing the finish line with me. Normally it's fairly sparse, a person here or there, but getting to the finish line here was almost as crowded as starting out. Lots of encouragement to get there...I even heard one guy yell for someone to "RUN!" when they stopped to walk - and they did! Haha!
We all reconveined and took an adventure trip (read - every damn road in D.C. was closed) back to the Embassy Suites, and then to Denise's house for some of the best food and the best shower I've had in a long time! The adventure actually lasted so long that Lee missed his flight and got the priviledge of riding back with me, Susan and Yogi - 10 hours to Manchester. I got up and made it to work the next day, with the help of that good office coffee - 2 cups, instead of my normal 1.
Soooo glad to be done!!! Ros, Yogi, Tammie, Lee, Lana, Holly, Tim, Heather, Jonathon
What I loved about this race:
- Great friends can make a painful marathon not so painful. Yeah, I was disappointed in my time, but who cares - I had a freakin' blast with all my runnin' buddies!!
- The marines on the course and the general patriotic you feeling you got while being involved.
- The woman we met on the subway. We met a lady, also from TN, who was there for the marathon and had recently lost her husband in Iraq. And her two sons are there now. When the pain set in at mile 18, all I could think about was her...and how what I was feeling was nothing even close to pain. It's only because of this woman's sacrifice, and many others, that we are able to do this stuff.
- It really is a cool course, if you're not hurting too bad to pay attention. We were up close and personal with many of the monuments.
- It's not hilly. Nope, it's not. I mean there are a couple hills during the first 7 miles, but they aren't anything to get worked up over. They have a nice downhill on the other side, too.
- The crowd support. Geez...there was 26.2 miles of crowd support in this one. You gotta love it when you don't have to wave goodbye to all the half marathoners and the crowds at the half point and take the lonely road of faith.
- Ros qualified for Boston. Ros kicked ass. Major ass. 3:43 ass. Boston Ass. LOVE. IT.
- The buffet at the Embassy Suites the night before. Good stuff.
- The medal, the l/s shirt, the coin, and the patch. Very cool.
Lee, Heather, Jonathon, Tammie, Holly, Lana, Ros, Tim
Heather, Lee, Yogi, Tim @pre-race dinner
Holly, Tammie, Yogi, Jonathon, Lana, Tim, Ros, Heather, Lee @pre-race dinner
What I didn't love about this race:
- Water stops. Sorry, but after mile 18 I need a water stop every mile. Not sure if it's mental or what, but I need it. I swear at one point I think I went over 3 miles before I came to one. Some girl even offered me her half-drank bottle of water, and I will be forever grateful for her. No worries about the swine flu when you are about die of thirst.
- The post-race festivities were too far away. Dude - I hate to admit it, but once I got my medal I hit the grass for a few minutes. I'm glad I did, too, because I had to walk what seemed like another two or three miles to the family meetup area.
What I learned at this race:
- It's worth it to get up at 4:00 a.m. and run in the dark because the plan says to. Just like I always use to say. It's still true. It's still the same. Baby, babe your still the same.
- It's not worth it to sleep in and hit snooze. And skip runs. You WILL regret it.
- Don't go after a goal you haven't trained for just because you get all caught up in the excitement of the event.
- It helps to have your own luxury taxi service at the race venue. Denise and Susan-you are angels sent from God, girls.
- I love my running peeps very, very much. I already knew that, but now I know it more.
What's next?!?! I'm headed to NYC to support my super fast sister - Holly Jane - at the NYC Marathon!! I will serve as head cheerleader and co-photographer alongside The Flash and Kathy. Go Holly!!