I am a marathoner.
It’s totally surreal.
I ran a marathon on Sunday.
But yes. Race report.
We left for DC early Friday morning. My uncle picked us up from the airport and we headed to my cousin’s place. The day was pretty uneventful, but we did get over to the expo on Friday afternoon so I could pick up my bib and race packets.
(And oh MY Lucky LOVED riding the Metro!)
I had never been to an event this big, so the expo sort of shocked me. It was a trade show! But for runners!
I got myself a long sleeved technical zip neck that had the Marine Corps Marathon insignia on it. But that was pretty much it.
Saturday was a nutty day. The weather was crappy – rain, freezing rain, and snow. We spent the day trying to catch up with friends, then my cousin had a baby shower. My uncle and Charlie Brown stayed home in the afternoon and made a batch of marinara sauce for a pasta dinner.
(And as an aside? My cousin’s husband bought Dreamfields pasta, which apparently is a low-carb option. Ha!)
The big stress of the day for me was figuring out what the hell I’d wear the next morning at the race. The race start was supposed to be in the 20s, and it was only going to warm up into the high 40s during the race. I had a t-shirt and a pair of capri running tights. So I decided to wear my running hoodie over the shirt, even though I usually only wear it when the weather is below 30. I figured I could shed it later in the race if need be.
After dinner, I headed to my blogger friend Kate’s house. I had never actually, you know, MET her before, but being internet friends, I wasn’t worried. She and her husband were fantastic in helping with the pre-race jitters – we just hung out and chatted until I was pleasantly sleepy at 10:30.
I slept REALLY well, probably because the room was quiet and dark and I wasn’t sharing a bed with Lucky like I had the night before.
But I was WIDE awake at 4am.
Had my bagel with cream cheese and then headed to the race start to meet my friend LJ at the hospitality suite.
And then we walked the mile to the start.
Kate had given me a hat and a throwaway fleece, so I was actually pretty comfortable as we walked to the start. When we were waiting my feet went numb, but the rest of me was okay.
And it was shocking how quickly the time came for the start. All of a sudden, it seemed, we were off.
I had really expected a lot of shuffling and pushing and trying to find a decent pace from the get go, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t have that issue. I couldn’t feel my feet, but otherwise LJ and I found a pace pretty easily. And by mile 3, my feet were warm and I felt pretty good. On the hill I just decided to find a good pace on my own and left LJ to her own pace. Which, in retrospect, probably meant I was going too fast.
It’s interesting to note that I didn’t spend much time looking at my garmin at ALL for pace. So I can’t really tell you how fast or slow I went consistently. I know that early on I saw a 9 minute mile and thought “Crap, slow it down, Serenity!”
By this time I was warming up. I had shed my gloves, my hat, and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt. So when I took a portapotty break at mile 5 or so I moved my race bib to the t shirt underneath, took off my sweatshirt and tied it around my waist.
The hill at mile 6 or 7 took my completely by surprise. I was starting to feel some tiredness in my legs at this point, and all of a sudden we take a turn and there’s this MASSIVE hill in front of me. Crap. I ran/walked it, honestly – knew that I didn’t want to attack it because I had 19-20 more miles to go.
Got to see my family around mile 8 or so, and gave Lucky and Charlie Brown a kiss and handed off my sweatshirt. Then I was off.
Immediately I was COLD. Mostly I wished that I had something for my hands, which felt like frozen claws. Kept shaking them to try and warm them up to no avail.
I think it was about mile 11 that I decided to DO something about it. People were shedding clothes everywhere, and I kept passing discarded gloves. I was miserable with my hands being so cold… so I grabbed someone’s discarded gloves around mile 10 or 11. Oh YEAH. I wore someone else’s manky gloves.
But man, it was INSTANT relief. Felt SO MUCH better.
The race route got crowded with spectators around the Lincoln Monument at mile 11 or so, but then we kept going onto a pretty, but QUIET, area. There were no spectators and really it was just runners.
Crossed the half marathon point at around 2:18, still feeling pretty decent.
It was around mile 15 when things started to fall apart. I started feeling nauseated, really nauseated. A few times I was pretty sure I was going to throw up, so I’d stop and find a relatively quiet place and gag. No puke though.
LJ passed me, gave me a HUGE hug and said “you GOT this.” And I was like, uh, no, I don’t. I’m going to puke. I ran with her for a couple of steps, but had to peel off again.
And of COURSE this is where there were a TON of spectators, right?
Worse was the thought that I had missed my family. Thought I was going to see them around mile 15, but by mile 16 I figured I had passed them already.
And then we got to the mall and hit mile 17. And I saw Charlie Brown and Lucky, and stopped, and hugged them, and nearly started crying. I felt SO sick. I didn’t think I could do this.
But what choice did I have?
I went back out on the road. And I figured that, well, if there ever was a time where I needed my music, now was the time. So I put my iPod on.
And something happened as I started listening. Eminem came on, and I got energy back. And all of a sudden I was running again, and I felt GOOD.
When I saw my family again at mile 19, I gave them a HUGE hug and a triumphant smile and then ran away.
That good feeling lasted all the way to the bridge at mile 21 or so. Then I started getting SORE. So I ran and walked and ran and walked.
That was the rest of my race, really. Stopped here and there to stretch out my hamstrings. At mile 23 my knee started really hurting – a knifing pain on the outside of my kneecap – the place that’s been twingy for a while.
Run, run, run, walk, walk, stretch. Rinse, repeat.
And then I saw Key Bridge, and decided that it was time to run for good. I was worried about The Hill – but it was short and quick and not even a blip on my radar at that point. I just wanted to FINISH.
And damned if I didn’t have enough in the tank to sprint, just a bit, to the finish. Raised my arms and got in under the 5 hour mark.
My official time was 4:54:46.
And I was SPENT. I’ve never done a big race like this, but I spent the next 45 minutes on my feet, being herded with the crowd. I got a space blanket. And as I waited in line to get my medal, Iwo Jima in the background, it all hit me, and I started sobbing. I got a handshake from the nicest Marine EVER and my medal, then got my picture taken.
Then stood in line to get water, gatorade, a banana, and a box of food. As the line spit me out into the crowd of people, I just kept shuffling forward, hoping that I’d see my family.
And then Charlie Brown stepped out. And I stepped into his arms and gave him a huge hug. And my sister unwrapped my banana, which took me literally 20 minutes to eat.
But after I ate, and drank, I felt energy returning, and I was able to walk with them to the hotel and get my stuff. I was sore, my knee is STILL twingy, but the soreness is wearing off and I can’t wait to get back out and run again.
It’s still shocking to me that I ran a marathon.
Seriously, I can’t wrap my brain around it.
And I’m considering another. Not next year, given the level of commitment (especially on Charlie Brown’s part!) to a training program. Next year I want to focus on getting faster at shorter distances. I’d like to break a 26 minute 5k, a 55 minute 10k, and a 2:00 half marathon.
But maybe I’ll run the Chicago Marathon in 2013.
Because I can actually run a marathon. I proved it on Sunday.
So freaking cool.