I’m happy to report that I’m starting to walk normally again.
As many of you know, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. It was my 13th marathon (still can’t wrap my mind around that!) and my second Marine Corps. Here are the highlights:
Autumn in Virginia. Virginia is my home state, but since moving away, most of my visits back have been for Christmas. The holidays can be pretty there, but the fall foliage is gorgeous, and I haven’t seen it since November of 2007. Eight years ago! Not okay! It was a lovely reunion.
Hanging out with my parents. Always good.
The Marathon Expo. This year, MCM moved the pre-race expo from the D.C. Armory to a convention center downtown. I don’t remember enough about the Armory to compare the two, but the convention center was spacious and conveniently located close to a Metro stop. As for the expo itself, I loved it, but then I’m a sucker for expos, especially when there’s a big race involved. It’s a veritable running festival: Shopping! Free samples! Stellar people-watching! Palpable optimism in the air! Just remembering it makes my adrenaline buzz.
Butterflies. I don’t get nervous for all of my races anymore – I don’t know if that’s good, bad, or just inevitable. But the butterflies still flutter for marathons, including this one, and that makes me happy. I figure it means the spark is still there.
The race. The Metro train that my support crew (Mom, Dad, and Robin Hood) and I boarded that morning hit a deer. Yes. Our train hit a deer. I knew then that it was going to be an interesting day.
We eventually made it to the starting area…sort of. This year, MCM introduced a security checkpoint, and…they have some kinks to work out. We made it through with just enough time for me to visit the PortaPotties a couple of times, shed my extra layers of clothing, hug my loved ones, and drift towards my starting position.
Did I mention it was raining?
Due to the time factor, and my refusal to bring any more stress on myself, I wound up starting a tiny bit farther back than planned. Not that much farther, but still. I found myself running in what felt like a pack of sardines for the first six miles or so. I did my share of weaving and darting, but after a while I thought to myself, “I can either stress out and mentally exhaust myself in the first half of this race, or I can pull my head out of my rear end, relax, and have faith in the miles ahead of me.”
Things got better after that. The crowds did thin out, and the rain stopped around mile 10. I was able to pick up my pace a little, and clung to it with grim determination.
It was hard. That’s all I have to say about that.
I kept track of the minutes and seconds ticking by. It became apparent that I wouldn’t run a PR, but no way was I going to allow this to be my slowest marathon.
With that bit of resolve; with the support of the cheering crowds; and with more than a little help from God and a fleet of guardian angels, I pushed through the last few miles and across the finish line, in a time of 3:26:24.
Not my fastest, not my slowest, but an effort I’m proud of. Yes ma’am, I’ll take it.
My Support Crew. I can’t thank them enough. All weekend long, they were fantastic, and Robin Hood handled his first marathon experience like a champ. Also, kudos to MCM for having such a spectator-friendly course. I saw my crew three times during the race, which was a HUGE morale boost.
Would I recommend the Marine Corps Marathon? Absolutely. It’s a fabulous course, and a beautiful time of year to run and sight-see in metropolitan D.C. And if being surrounded by hundreds (thousands?) of Marines doesn’t inspire and motivate you, I don’t know what will.