Monday, November 1, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon (The Race)

One last wave to my dad and I'm off.

Let's do this thing!

The start line.

That is A LOT of RUNNERS.

I started the race with B and Kristen and figured the first three miles would be completely jam packed. It was definitely crowded, but the crowds weren't moving nearly as slow as I anticipated they would be.

Here are my splits from my Garmin. Now, please keep in mind I forgot to turn off my auto-pause so my Garmin did not take into consideration the time I lost when I stopped to stretch, re-tie my shoes, and stretch some more.

Mile 1: 8:45. A bit fast, but I'll slow down. I'm just hyper at this point.

Mile 2: 8:50. Okay good, slowing down. Ditched my hoodie, but kept on my gloves.

Mile 3: 8:30. Crap, got faster again. There was a big downhill during this mile, so maybe that's what happened. No worries.

Mile 4: 8:16. Heidi, what the hell are you doing?!?!?! Slow the hell down! There was another down hill, but this is ridiculous!

Mile 5: 8:40. Okay, this mile is only slower because I WALKED through the water and Powerade stop.

Mile 6: 8:17. I am the dumbest smart person in the world. I am going to crash and burn and I'll be telling myself, "I told you so" the entire time.

Mile 7: 8:50. Again, only slower because I walked through the aid stations and ate some jelly beans. Also stopped to tie my shoe and stretch my calves.

Mile 8 8:44. Settling in, went up a hill, but still going way to fast. Water stop right at the end of the mile.

Mile 9: 8:45. Well at least I'm consistently stupid. Gotta have some credit for that!

Mile 10: 8:25. Getting dumber. The course split into two sections here and I had no idea which way to go. My family was supposed to be looking for me around 10.5 and I got worried that if I ran on the "wrong" section I'd lose them. I saw my dad's head (thank goodness he's tall!) and heard him yell, "holy crap! There she goes already!" They weren't ready for me yet! Still walked through the aid stations.

Mile 11: 8:55. Thank goodness. Still too fast, but getting better.

Mile 12: 8:31. Damnit, getting faster.

Mile 13: 8:51. Saw a water stop coming up and figured I should eat more jelly beans and switch my piece of gum. Dropped a fresh piece of gum :( Realized I probably just PRed my Half-Marathon time and that wasn't a good thing.

Mile 13.5. The pain begins.

Mile 14: 9:37. Slowed down and stretched, again. Pain is picking up steam, but I'm trying to be positive. I keep telling myself that I'm going to see my family again soon.

Mile 15: 9:20. This is still faster than I wanted to be, but I'm getting better.

Mile 16: 9:40. Was able to slow down.
Saw my family and it was fantastic! I heard my dad yell for me around a slight turn. I saw my brother kind of point (honestly he could have just been moving his arm to wave) but that made me look across the street and I saw the hubs. Instant life high. Since my brother was close enough to the course he handed me a pack of jelly beans. I had given my brother, dad, and hubs each a pack the night before and told them to hand them to me if I look like I needed food. My brother just figured that was his best chance to fork 'em over.

Mile 17: 10:18. Houston, we have a problem. I'm in pain and it's not going away. I think this is where I started running on the grass for a bit just to have a softer running surface. I again walked through the aid stations. I swear as the race progressed there seemed to be more distance between the Powerade and water stations. I would just walk from as soon as I got my Powerade and continue walking until I finished my water. I just can't run and drink at the same time!

Mile 18: 10:50 Yucky!!! Slowed down too much, stopped to stretch again. Legs are definitely heavy. Foot is definitely not happy.

Mile 19: 9:41. Getting better. Saw my co-worker and about tackled him. He didn't see me at all and I popped out behind another runner and definitely scared the daylights out of him.

Mile 20: 11:11. Running over 395 was miserable. I've avoided running on concrete as much as possible because it's such a hard surface. That bridge hurt. I realized I had two options. 1 keep running and risk either getting injured and/or finish the race absolutely miserable. Or, option 2, slow down, walk a bit, stretch more often, and finish the race happy. Slap hands, "hoo-rah" and in general have a good time. I went with Option 2.

Mile 21: 10:47. This is now the farthest I've ever run! There was an aid station right before the mile 22 marker.

Mile 22: 13:44. I had to stop and use a port-a-potty. I didn't want to stop completely so I would just walk around in a big circle around the port-a-potties! I guess that never caused my watch to stop. There is a funny dark red dot on my GPS tracker during this mile! Oh, dear mean lady spectator! When a runner stops to use the bathroom, please be kind and don't skip the runners walking around and dive into the next available bathroom. The port-a-potties are there for us first and then you!!!

Mile 23: 11:09. The wind through Crystal City is ridiculous! There was a tiny water stop, but the street was looking gross because so many red Powerade cups had blown onto the street that the street looked bloody. Yucky!

Mile 24: 10:48. I am officially very tired and on the verge of getting cranky.

Mile 25: 12:22. Walked for what seemed forever between the two aid stations. Honestly, don't care because walking felt nice at this point.

Mile 26 and .2: 11:03. Started off slow, but got stronger as the race progressed. Saw a woman pass out, but a Marine caught her before her head hit the ground. I had no idea where the finish line was so I kept looking for it. Now, I'm running back where the course began, so at least I've been here before. Running by Arlington Cemetery calmed me down and made me focus on the hill that I knew was coming. When that road started to incline and I heard a Marine yell, "you're not done until you take that hill!" that's when I knew I was close and I just let loose.
I heard my family yell for me, but I didn't see them. I was just looking ahead and focused on a group of people a head of me. I said, "you are going to pass every single one of them."

I did. I tore ass up that hill. I honestly don't think a single person passed me on that hill. I just wanted to be done running and all those painful training runs popped up in my head and I figured I could tough it out for a few minutes longer.

The end.

Haha, just kidding. After finishing I fell in with a mob of people. I think the first thing that was handed to me was a blanket. 10 seconds later I got freezing cold and said, "wow, these Marines are brilliant! They must have known all these runners would get cold once they stopped running." Yeah, my mental capabilities at this moment were slightly lacking.

Next, I got herded into a line to receive my finisher's medal. A very nice and courteous Marine told me to stand up straight and then he put my medal over my head, said congratulations, and shook my hand. That was awesome! I think I stared at my medal for a minute straight before I tried to figure out where to go next.

My next stop was to weakly walk to my left where another Marine put a bottle of Powerade in my hand told me that in continuing with the course, water was at the next table :)

Now, at this point there were so many people I had to stop moving, which was not the best idea. Once I stopped moving I wanted to just lay down and not get back up. So I started taking mini air steps while waiting in the next line. In that line I received a food bag from a Marine. Bagel, fruit cup, banana, wheat thins, and pineapple chips.

Here the mass of people got really annoying. Apparently people were trying to go into the Finish Festival and a bunch of people coming out decided to exit via the entrance. That caused a massive pedestrian traffic jam!!! After navigating through that mess I found a Verizon stand that was letting people make free phone calls. Of course the only cell phone number I know is the hubs so I called him. Like any rational person, he was over at family link up!

I wondered over there and found the hubs and B. At that point everything became a blur! We got my bag, found the rest of my family, said goodbye to B and headed home. The metro on the way home was packed, but we got out safe and sound.

I'll have one more post of crazy costumes people wore during the race and a few other pictures my dad took during the day.

I just wanted to end with the most moving and emotional thing I witnessed that day. There were so many runners who were running in memory of someone else. Many of them had a picture of their fallen loved one pinned to their back. It was beautiful. However, around mile three I heard runners cheering. As I continued forward I found out why. There were four Marines running in full gear. I mean the 60lb backpacks and everything. They were surrounding a hand-cart participant. As soon as I got closer I could see what all the runners were cheering about. The two marines flanking the back of the cart were each carrying a prosthetic leg. One of the Marines running up at the front of the cart was carrying a prosthetic arm. When I started to pass the cart I was able to see that the hand-cart participant was a wounded Marine. He had no legs and only one arm. He was willing himself forward with his comrades, his own arm, and a prosthetic arm.

Every single runner who was near this group cheered in some way shape or form. Many cheered, "USA! USA! USA!" Others yelled "SEMPER FI!" I went with "HOO-RAH!" Runners were patting these Marines on the back and one runner offered to carry a backpack. I honestly started to tear up.

Anytime I started to feel weak and thought about giving up I thought back to that moment very early in the race. If you witness something like that and your heart doesn't swell up with emotion for your fellow man, then you need to get yourself to a hospital because you're dead inside.

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