I was going to run very conservatively at Marine Corps. I toed the line after not having run for 2 weeks with a sudden case of plantar fasciitis. Some people told me not to run. Others told me to do it but go easy. I chose to follow the latter advice and scrap all my PR plans I had and just get the medal that I trained all summer for. Also, I was plenty scared from all the stories I had heard about running with a known case of pf and how that sidelined people for untold months thereafter. I wanted to finish but I also wanted to be able to run again soon if I could!
And then the race almost didn’t happen because I LOST my iPod! Or I thought I did. I FREAKED OUT!!!!… on the inside. I had just gone to use the loo and I clipped my iPod on my shirt. I got out and walked back and then couldn’t find it. Not anywhere. My first (and only) thought was, pfft! That’s it! Race over!!! I’m not strong enough to run this thing with my own thoughts piping through my head!! Nope. Done.
Then by some miracle I found it, clipped to my underwear! Ok, this is a random story but just telling you because it was a huge moment for me. A race where I’m injured at the start AND I don’t have music?! I am not that strong.
Anyway, crisis averted and it’s time to start! This was the second marathon I ran this year where it rained on me (such a minor thing after the iPod incident). It rained at the start and then again an hour or two later. Since I wasn’t looking at my watch at all, I couldn’t tell you exactly when. The beginning was a bit weird with runners on both sides of this partition and nobody knew that they were supposed to be on the left side. After all, the pacers were on the right and last year we were on the right side. After the race started, a group of runners actually went on a left street and a group went on a right street, one up and one down, and I started to panic I was going the wrong way. I asked the people around me and they confidently said that those other people were the ones jacked up, not us. Turns out we all got to the same point but it’s a bit nerve wracking that you see these runners going UP over a bridge and you’re going down. It’s like they’re going to Rosslyn and you’re headed out to Manassas or something!
The course was hilly. Yeah… hill training… that thing I only remember when I show up to DC and start running the Marine Corps Marathon. You run at sea level for so long that you assume everyone runs at sea level and every race is a flat sea level race too. The hills were not fun. Fitness-wise, I had it. Plantar fascia-wise, it was not good for me. I was on my slow, conservative pace for most of the race, maybe 13-15 miles? My friends and family said I only really slowed down from that starting pace at mile 18. Like I said, I don’t know. I didn’t look at my pace and I don’t even want to know. (Thank you to all the people who take that to mean they should look it up and tell me that sad sad number). But I was just really happy that I got to mile 13 without experiencing great pain, then mile 15, then that dreaded Capital Building. Something about when I get to that turn at the Capital that everything starts to go downhill for me.
My foot decided that it did not want to be on this “finish the whole race” plan. I could feel every tendon or whatever it’s called in my foot. Like every little string being strained. When it hurt really bad, I stopped and stretched or walked. Yep. Walked. During a marathon. Because that’s the fastest way to get it all over with. I knew before I started that I would probably have to walk. And truly I was grateful it only started in the last third of the race. But there’s still a major hit you take to be walking during a race. This isn’t Disney Marathon where you could whip out your phone and say “Oh I’m not walking! I’m just getting ready to take a selfie with Captain Jack Sparrow!” No. You’re just walking. And people are passing you by. And you start to have a wee bit of a pity party going on in your head.
Or you would have done, if you hadn’t passed the blue mile with the pictures of all the fallen soldiers were on display, followed by dozens of American flags. Bunch of pictures of men and women, soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors… many of them young kids. Killed in action. I turn off my iPod every time I run through there, and try to read every name, rank, date and face I can absorb.
Going back to the Capitol, I got through there through just trying to zone out the pain in my foot and in the back of my knees from the hills. They had aid tents throughout but I didn’t stop this year. I didn’t want to numb the pain in my foot and then cause more damage. I wanted to feel the pain so I knew when to stop and when to go easy. I’m glad I did it that way. But in the back of my mind I was wondering if I wouldn’t have PR’d if I had gone with the pain meds. My friend and I discussed this pre race and were in agreement about no meds. It’s good to go with the strategy you had before you were losing your mind in the middle of a race.
That long incline on the way to Crystal City was not fun. That was the worst. But once I got into Crystal City, miles 22-24 (?), it felt wonderful! I think it was because it was finally FLAT!! And there were a ton of people there. It felt like more people than were down at the National Mall. I saw my folks there again and they got my picture. They haven’t sent me any so I’ll update here when they do. Unless my face reflects the pain I was in and then maybe not. My dad yelled out “ONLY 2 MORE MILES!!!” I gave him a look and yelled back “FOURRRR!!!!!” … but who’s counting?
Headed out of Crystal City and now for the long trek to the Iwo Jima. Right outside of Crystal City they have those Dunkin Donut holes. This year they put them in little cups for you, 2 donut holes in a cup, with marines handing them out. Last year I thought they were just in a giant pile you grabbed at. And I told myself this year I should try one, especially after a fellow blogger recommended it. Yeah… it did not work for me. First of all, when I slowed down to grab a cup, the marine who handed it to me looked me in my eyes and said “Why are you walking?? Get running!!” I was like, what?! I just stopped to grab these damn donut holes! I knew I shouldn’t have had donuts during a marathon! He was right to say that to me! What kind of person stops running to chow on doughnuts?! At this point though I already had a glazed doughnut hole in my mouth. It was awful. I felt sick. I didn’t even chew it. I spit it back into the cup and threw it out. I was hoping that at least some of the sugar would enter my bloodstream and help me out a bit.
The last couple miles were uneventful. I actually saw one of the Oiselle Volee Team people around mile 24. I thought I followed her on Twitter and Instagram. I couldn’t be sure of anything at mile 24. I tapped her on the shoulder and told her I was Oiselle Volee too and she asked from where. I said Florida. And that’s all we really said. She was doing a run-walk to the finish so I would see her pass me and fall back and pass me and fall back. I think I mentioned how I didn’t run in my singlet because I decided to go with my military team instead – Team RWB. Again, not the greatest time to have a conversation with a stranger – mile 24 or 25 of a marathon.
I don’t think I walked the last 2 miles of the race. I so wanted to be done. And I wasn’t going to walk up the hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial. No fing way. Not with what Iwo Jima stood for. Not with all the marines had sacrificed there. I could get up that damn hill no matter what.
And there it was. The finish line. And I was ok. As soon as I wasn’t running, I had no pain in my foot. I felt crazy dizzy but that was it. It was a horrible bottleneck at the end. I still don’t know why. Lots of spectators crowding the upward finish area made it hard to exit I think. I made my way through and I thought I would pass out. Then I saw these girls handing out watermelon. Cold watermelon! I forget who they were but they looked like pageant girls. Like they had sashes and tiaras? Or was I hallucinating? Anyone else see this? I think I saw something about Texas. Texas beauty queens? I don’t even care, it was wonderful! It saved me. I needed that energy to get up Wilson Blvd to the Runner’s World finish line party. Whatever those people were doing to promote watermelon totally worked on me. I’m going to stock my fridge before long runs from here on out! Thank you Texas beauty queen company!!!… unless you are a figment of my imagination, then nevermind.
Hope you all had a great race! Check out my Runner’s World Challenge/VIP experience here. And tell me how your race day went! I was thinking about all the bloggers I follow and wondering how their races were going. It wasn’t easy out there, that’s for sure!
Read MCM Part I here.