This will be short because it's been nearly 11 months since MCM 2011, but I want to get a few things out there.
MCM weekend was awesome!! Especially being able to experience it with 2 awesome running ladies, Diane & Patti! We left early friday morning, drove 7 hours and arrived at our hotel in Alexandria, Va. We quickly checked in and zipped off to the expo to see what fun running gear we could find! We all picked up some sneaker jewels from BeeCause Charms, along with our race bibs and packets. Dinner was fantastic at a downtown D.C. restaurant and then we headed back to the hotel to get that 'best night of sleep'!
Saturday brought on some nasty wintery weather and made us rethink our running attire for the next day. We just relaxed on saturday, visited a running store, went to my brother's house to say hi, and then to Target to pick up some disposable baselayers because the startline temp was going to be in the 30's!! Yikes...... Along our travels, we found a little italian resturaunt in Old Alexandria and decided that is where we would carbo load saturday evening. Dinner was fantastic and the resturaunt was filled with runners shoveling in their carbs in nervous anticipation of sunday! Once we were fully carbed, we headed back to the hotel, made sure each of us had all that we needed for the big day, and hit the hay.
We were all up bright and early sunday morning and nervous as hell!! We got suited up, boarded the hotel shuttle, and headed to the bus taking us to the start village. It was FREEZING!!! High 20's at best.....we had so many layers on at this point!
The start village area was starting to buzz in the darkness of the wee hours of the morning and the tent began to fill with runners just trying to stay warm before the run. The military chaplain then began his morning prayer that we all had a wonderful and healthy run. It was still in the low 30's and I'm pretty sure I was beginning to lose feeling in my toes....yikes....
The gun went off and we were off and running. Diane started in a different coral, so it was just Patti and I at this point. We started off with the 5:30 finish group, not realizing they had planned a run/walk for the marathon. That wasn't how either of us trained, so we left the group and went off on our own. After about 3 miles, Patti and I split and wished each other a great run!!
I was feeling AWESOME!! I was running well ahead of my planned pace and felt strong. I was easily hitting the checkpoints ahead of schedule and continued to feel incredible. I made a point of taking in all the sights and sounds of Arlington/D.C. and was enjoying every step. It also turned out to be an amazing weather day, even though it was a bit cold, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I still felt awesome even after I had a near wipe out at a water table around mile 7! I went for the water, but there were so many runners around me still (30K runners so it was kinda packed) that I didn't notice the huge pot hole in front of the table (way to go on the planning of that one) and just about went down. Thankfully, the runners near me grabbed my and made sure I didn't hit the ground and that I was able to continue running. That was a close one!!
After about 15/16 miles the tables turned for me....I started feeling every step in a very bad way. I couldn't believe how fast I went downhill in this run. I felt like I could run forever and then I felt like I wanted to cry out in pain with every step.....and I still had 10 miles to go before I had a break. I really tried to focus on running through the monuments and by the capital but I couldn't get past the pain in my feet/knees/legs/hips. It was as if everything just shut down at the same time. All I kept thinking about was the finish. I wanted to cry.....yep, I said it. I wanted to cry....during a marathon....it was awful. How could it go from SO good to SO bad? But, I gave myself a little pep talk (that included 'THERE'S NO CRYING IN RUNNING') and kept my feet moving.
The big goal was to 'Beat the Bridge' at 20 miles. Once I got to the bridge, I knew 2 things. 1. I would make it to the finish and not be removed from the course, and, 2. I only had 6.2 miles left!! Unfortunately, they were the longest and most challenging 6.2 miles of my life. I gave myself a significant walk break as I crossed the bridge and then tried to run a bit when I got into Crystal City.
At this point, I made 2 fatal errors. First, the food station around 21 miles was Dunkin Donuts....and they were giving out munchkins. Seriously, I thoughts donuts would be awesome running carbs! But alas....after running 21 miles, a munchkin is a horrifically bad idea. Probably would have been better followed by a beverage, but it wasn't and so I was choking on the dryness of the donut and looking for anything that would quench my parched self! Second fatal error.....the first beverage I found was beer. Yep, I said it. Beer. There was a table of people with a keg around mile 22 and they were giving out shots of beer. Rock on!! So of course, I took some beer. I figured what the hell....I was in excrutiating pain....parched from the damned donut and 4 miles from the finish. Another bad idea.....hahahaha! I just didn't care anymore!! I wanted it to be over.
At mile 23 I had enough. I physically couldn't make my body run another step. 3.2 miles to go. Ugh.....I made the tough decision to speed walk the final 3 miles. I just couldn't take another running step. I wasn't the only one....I made some new friends as we all shuffled our way to the most welcoming sight....the finish line. As we approached the final hill (the finish is straight uphill to the Marine Corps Monument in Arlington) I found the strength to run to the finish. The hill is lined with Marine's cheering you on and pushing you to finish strong....how could I not run with that kind of motivation!?!? I made it up that final hill and there it was, the finish. What an amazing sight....I started to feel the pain wash away as I crossed under the arch and walked toward the Marine's who were ready to place the medal around my neck. Now I really wanted to cry. What a trying day. What a challenging run.
I made my way to the monument, had my finish picture taken, and then shuffled off to find Diane and Patti....but not before I stopped at the med tent to get some tylenol. After I was medicated, I got my post run food box and met up with Diane to decompress. Patti joined us after a little bit and we all started reliving the event.
We headed for the beer tent and met some awesome finishers, shared some beers, and then found our way back to the hotel. Along the way, we also met a flight crew and had some super fun witch finger cookies! :) People are so much fun....and I'm pretty sure they thought we were crazy in our post marathon delerium! Once we were showered and rested, we headed out to a little Irish pub in Old Alexandria were we tried not to fall asleep in our food and replenish our bodies. We continued to relive the day and plan for our departure Monday morning.
In hind sight, it was an incredible experience. Even though I had a difficult time, I still overcame and finished. That is what matters most and that is what I've taken from this marathon. Overcome & Finish.
Congrats to Diane & Patti on completing your first marathon....I'm so glad I was able to be there with you.