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Just This Once

When I ran my first marathon,  I went with to it with the running Mama who was the little birdie in my ear telling me that I should register because after running the Runner’s World Hat Trick I was ready.   I was probably an easy sell, but without her nudging I would not have registered.  She had everything in place and needed a room mate, so it all worked out.

I was all set.

I admit that I was a little sad that my family was not coming to see me, but that was understandable and for another post.    During my training, both my mother and “baby” sister who lives across the country (literally) were my biggest cheerleaders.   They had both expressed how they wanted to be there, but I was really ok with it.    My mother is not one to travel by  herself especially to the city and my sister is on another coast.

The day of the race comes and off we go.    When this race took place, both the half marathon and marathon were not only the same day but started together.   I went into this with no expectations as I really jumped in last minute with only one ever 20 mile training run.   As I was heading into the mid point of the marathon, I could hear the finish line for the half.   The announcer was clearing stating how If you are running the marathon, please stay to the left.   All half marathoners, please go to the right for the finish line.  THE FINISH LINE.   This was disheartening to hear.   At this point, I was thinking that there would be no shame just to run the half and was planning to go right.

Until…

Then crap, I had to run a marathon.   My mantra became, “your sister did not fly across country for you not to finish.

So I did.

Towards the end of the marathon, my sister ran onto the course to give me one single rose to carry across the finish line.   I took it, looked at it, and gave it back to her  telling her it was too heavy.

Yes, I really did.   I think the rose was made of metal.  Ha!

Once the race was over, there were many hugs and before my family and I parted ways my sister informed me that she only did this because it was my first marathon.

One year later…

This time, I am running Marine Corps Marathon.    I am going to DC on my own.    That is until my sister informs me that my mother and her are hitching a ride with me.   She flies in and off we go for a road trip to DC.

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Once again, she joins me towards the end of the race.   This time she brings no rose.   I  am dealing with some stomach issues.   She hears me drop the F bomb a few times, curse the stupidity of running a marathon even going on about how stupid it is for people to want to watch, and then listens as I tell her never again.

I finish.

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Once again, we both say never again.   I won’t do another marathon and she can’t keep flying across the country.

Then NY.

My sister although a California girl  but a huge part of her heart is in NY City.    She watched the marathon a few times when she lived in the City.    How could she not come in now.    This time she can not stay for the end as she literally had to catch a plane, but does maneuver herself around the city to see me a few times.

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She is not there this time to hear me curse the never again, but we both have the same thought.   We can’t keep doing this.

Then Chicago…..

I am not going alone this time.   I am going with another Mama Runner.   It’s all set and it’s all good.   Then a text from my sister.   Her husband happens to have something in Chicago that week.   She is going to fly out and meet him and then stay for the marathon.

So it seems like no matter how often we both say never again, we keep meeting like this

and

It will be a wonderful thing.

 

 

Best Marathon Signs

We’ve all done the long lonely training runs.   We can all admit that they suck.  Part of it really is not the running, because we all love that or we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing.   Now I’m not saying that anyone has woken up early for a training run and thought, “I am so excited to be running 18 miles.”   If they have, these are the people I worry about.  We do them because we know that we need to do them.   We do them because we are looking at the bigger picture.    We do them because if we didn’t, we know that we probably won’t reach our goals and might not cross the finish line.

Somehow though running all those miles in a race is different.   It’s actually easy to figure out.

The excitement of the start line.

The comradery of the everyone else lined up with you.

The bling at the end!

Cheering families along the course

Cheering strangers along the course

Great motivating signs!

I had all of these during MCM.   I wish that I could have taken a picture of some of the great signs that I saw along the way.   Being as I was running my heart out, I didn’t stop to take any pictures of the signs along the course.

First I MUST mention the Blue Mile.   For those of you not familiar, this is a group that is dedicated to honoring our service members for their sacrifice and to remember all that was given.   Their slogan is Wear Blue to Remember and you can find out more about them here.   This was a VERY moving mile at about the half way point of the race where the have signs with pictures, names, age, and where the soldier died.   The runners around me all went through this mile quietly.   I know that as I looked at each the signs that I passed, I reflected on all those lost lives.   So many.   So young.   Broken families.    I wanted to cry for them.   I wanted to run for them as a way of running for those that could no longer.    Then at the end of this reflection, you depart into a sea of American Flags held by volunteers many of you know are there for personal reasons.   They pumped you back up with high fives, cheers, and just being there.   I can honestly say that this was the most memorable mile that I think that I have ever run in my life.

There were the other signs along the race.   There were more than a few that made me laugh out loud.   For real!    So I thought that I would share them.   For obvious reasons, I did not get any pictures of them as I was kind of busy running.   So these pictures will have to do…

Sign Sign2

Then there were these two…

RUN TO FROM CONGRESS

&

YOU FEEL LIKE CRAP, BUT YOU STILL LOOK GREAT!

These are much, much, much better than “You’re almost there” which we all know is a lie!

What was your favorite race sign?

Road Trip!

We all makes mistakes.   We all look back and think well I should have done it this way instead of that way.    These same things apply to a marathon.   Some of them although not the correct choice for the marathon were the correct choice for a weekend away with my Mom and sister that I’m not sure I would change.   If I was racing for the win, yes but I’m only running for me.   The journey is just as important.

The Hotel

Not knowing the city or the lay of the land which would be true for any destination race does make it difficult.   I did what I could.   I got the hotel, Sheraton Pentagon City, from the Marine Corps Marathon list of hotels.    I went on Google Maps to try and get an idea of where it was in relationship to everything.   It was a little apart, but it was also a little more reasonable priced than those right in DC.  Don’t get me wrong it was a beautiful hotel with very comfy beds, and an easy shuttle service to Metro.   The downside is that once the race was over we then had to navigate a way back to the hotel to get my car.   My sister checked us out and packed the car before they went out to cheer along the race.   When it’s all said and done though I think the comfy beds were a good choice.

My second mistake with the hotel though is that it would have been nice to stay over the actual night of the Marathon.    BUT I am a mother of three boys and a husband who works long hours, so I needed to be home Monday morning.    The real downside to not having a hotel to go to after the race is that I had nowhere to shower.   Now I don’t know about you but I don’t normally smell that sweet after a 5K let alone a marathon that I got rained on some.    I did manage to change and wipe away some of the grime, but I really did not feel human again till I got in a shower at almost 9:00 PM.    Best shower ever!

One thing that I did do right with the hotel though was to go in on Friday instead of Saturday.    This way, we were able to get up at leisure Saturday morning and feel rested for the day.   I think if I had to choose going in a day early is better than staying a day later.

The Tourist

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I’ve never been to DC.   My mother hasn’t been since she was in High School.  This made us want to tour the city especially because I honestly don’t know when I would be going back.   Would love to, but don’t know when or if that will happen.  There is so much to see in such a short time.   I think I only saw 1% of it before the marathon and honestly during the marathon I probably missed a lot too.   But even with only seeing a small portion of it, I probably walked 6 miles on Saturday.   Probably not the best thing to do the day before a marathon.

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My sister’s boyfriends pre race plan includes spending the day watching movies and lounging.   I made fun of him for this, but I think there is something to this.  Although I do think that is to the extreme.   Maybe we should have found a happy medium where we toured in the morning, but made in back to the hotel before 9:00 PM.    We could have sat by the pool in the afternoon.    Although again, I’m back to I wanted to see DC.   So it’s a choice you have to make.   I’m happy with mine and I can live with it.   Besides, I got to see some amazing sites.

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The Food

This is the part that I would and will change in the future.   Since we were being tourists, we really didn’t know where we would eat.   We just played it by ear.   This was a BIG mistake.   Although we found a great Irish Pub for lunch that was super yummy, we did not have such luck for dinner.    The appropriate places were few and far between as I did not want to eat anything out of the ordinary and spicy.   We walked and walked and walked searching for the elusive perfect non fancy, non spicy place to eat.   Finally we just gave up and went into one.   I ordered what I thought would be the best choice.   On the menu it really was the best choice, but when the dish came I really did not enjoy it.   I ate what I could as I knew that I needed to eat.    It wasn’t enough.

The funny thing was that at this point my sister was meeting a friend who lived in DC and my Mom and I were going to take Metro and the shuttle back to the hotel.   We get off the Metro line and sit down to wait for the shuttle.   Look up and literally across the street is a California Pizza restaurant.   Seriously.   We run over grab something to go and race back to catch the shuttle.   By this time though, I really don’t want to eat but do manage to eat some more of the yummy pasta.

When I told my coach this, she said this is why she always takes food when she is traveling to an event because you never know.   She said some people think that it is strange that she travels with food, but I think she might be onto something here.    Either that or next time, I will make reservations!

The Company

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As some of you know, I got into Marine Corp through the lottery.   I personally did not know anyone going, so I would have been flying solo without my family.   I do remember though that the first thing my Mother told me when I got into the marathon was that she was going with me.   Then my sister decided to join in on the fun too.    They made the trip so worth it.    Jen, my sister, even commented on how sad it would be to be there alone.   She is so right.   I could not imagine crossing the finish line and having no one to share it with.  Besides it made for an awesome girls weekend!

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How do you plan for your destination races?

Random Thoughts During a Marathon

MarathonMemeThere isn’t just a lot of truth to this.

This is a fact!

But before we get to mile 26, lets go back to the beginning!

I started the race with the thought that I was going to go for my B plan of 4:30.   My A plan is just a dream, but you’ve got to have one of those anyway.    It was a cool morning with a very light drizzle as we were waiting for the start of the race.  The race started and I was near the 4:30 pace group.   We hovered around each other all day, but alas they finished where they were supposed to.   I felt strong during the first half of the race.   I remember thinking around the half way point how good I was feeling, how much my training had helped me get to this point, and was just having an amazing race.

My pace was good.

My legs felt strong.

I was on fire.

Then as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.   My legs still felt strong.   It really was never my legs that gave out on the run.  As the saying goes, running is a mental sport.  By mile 22, I was having a full on conversation with myself about how absolutely stupid running a marathon was.   It went something like this:

Who ever started the first marathon was an idiot.

How stupid is it to run these things.   I mean really, does it really matter if I run 26.2 miles.

What is the point of this?

Why am I doing this?

I dragged my Mom and sister to come watch me do this!   What is wrong with me?

Then I hit another mile and realized that if I would just shut the hell up, that I might actually finish this race.   The conversation changed to:

You are this close, you might as well finish this.

You didn’t drag you Mom and sister here for you not to finish.

You can throw up later.

You want that cool medal don’t you?

It’s up to you.

Then my sister met me for the last two miles and ran along side me.   Even though that was my slowest mile, it was my best mile as she encouraged me to finish.   I didn’t throw up although I thought I might.   I didn’t give up, although a big part of me wanted to.   Then I hit mile 25 and knew that I could finish it.  Then I hit mile 26 and hit my fastest pace of the day 8:23.   So there really is more left in the cup when you think it is empty.

My advice to anyone running a marathon in the near future is to make sure that when you hit mile 20, you tell yourself to shut the Hell up.    They are right when they say that the Marathon really doesn’t start till mile 20 because that’s when the fun really begins.

So enjoy the ride.

Stay true to yourself.

Never give up and remember

You Got This!

Mission Accomplished

mcm3Well it’s over with now.    Can’t believe it.    Happy, Relived, Sore, and now wondering what is next.   But there will be time to sort that out.    So there is SOOOOOO much to tell that this will probably take a few days to get through it all.    I also want some time to reflect.   Today will be about the numbers…

MCM4This was a personal record from Philly by 8 minutes and 6 seconds and as Dawn pointed out on a harder course.   So yes, I was happy.   Between you and me though I was shooting for an even 4:30, but you know it just wasn’t the day for that.

I felt strong in the beginning.   Really strong.   Literally by mile 10 I was thinking how much my training was working for me.  It really was.   As you can see by my splits, I was on the money right up until the 40K.   I lost it a little but even in loosing it, I still had overall good splits.   In retrospect, could I have pushed it a little more.  Probably, but even with walking a bit towards the end due to stomach issues I still am pleased.

These are the numbers

Age Place for Females 45-49

344 out of 1318

Gender Placement

3291 out of 10,428

Overall Finish

9,445 out of 23,197

And a steady pace for most of the race.

I would say

Mission Accomplished.

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I think this may be my favorite medal ever.  Love it!

Stay tuned for more on this epic weekend as there is so much more to this race than the numbers, but being as I have been away for a few days there is much to be done at home.

Do you have a favorite piece of bling?