I can’t believe I did it! I’m a marathoner! The more time that passes, the more exciting this whole thing gets…and how I seem to forget all the really hard parts of this whole thing. Buckle up…this thing is LONNNG. So long I’ve decided to split it into two posts…
I couldn’t sleep the night before the race. I fell asleep pretty quickly, but woke up at 1 and was up for two hours, then I woke up again at 4 and then again at 5. I was feeling pretty groggy when I got up but EXCITED. I got all my stuff and went to Christina’s room (since Brian came along, we had separate rooms). Chrissy and I have a good pre-race ritual of getting ready together where I play pump-up music and we take turns going to the bathroom, and then I panic about something at some point.
Marathon day, it was my cell phone battery. I’m not sure what was up, but I think it was all the social media that morning, but I looked down and my battery was only at 60%. Since I use my cell phone for my music, I FREAKED OUT. Luckily, I had a rapid charger, so we plugged it in and waited…which added to the nervousness. I ended up going out with 80% battery and decided to put my phone in airplane mode to conserve the battery while running. By the time we were ready to go down my hands were shaking!
So, I haven’t really talked about the weather. I stalked the weather the entire week leading up to the marathon, thinking SURELY it would change. Nope. 100% chance of rain and it never changed. The nice thing is, since I was so sick and I wasn’t sure if I would even run….I was so happy to be running that I didn’t care as much as I normally would have. The rain was a light, but steady, drizzle that morning and it stayed that way most of the race. We wore our ponchos until we got into the corral and then just took them off.
We met Chrissy’s sister in the lobby and started walking toward the start. We got into the corral where there was more waiting (we were in #18). While we were standing in the corral I came up with the perfect metaphor for my emotions.
Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? Specifically the kind that starts with a huge hill? That initial climb, when your getting cranked up to the top, and you’re looking at how high you’re climbing and you get this funny anticipation but excitement in your belly but you kind of feel like you may throw up….that’s what it’s like standing in the corral at the marathon. When you get to the top of the hill, and you kind of go over the top but not really, and just hang there for a second, that’s what it’s like when you’re at the start line. And then woooooooosh….you’re off!
We started out at a conservative pace and also tried to avoid puddles. We saw some of our support squad right at the start which was really exciting! Everyone seemed to be in a good mood as we started out and I have to admit, running in the rain wasn’t that bad because the energy was so great! The first few miles went by pretty quickly, and soon we were settling into an even pace.
I was really impressed by the crowd support and entertainment the first few miles, especially since it was raining! All the bands were there, and there were lots of signs and people cheering! I saw a few people running with American flags which was pretty cool, too. Sadly, since it was raining, my phone was in a waterproofed case and I didn’t get any photos….
My favorite, and most emotional, part of the race came at mile 6. This was the “big hill” of the half marathon course, and it was quite a doozy. However, an organization called Wear Blue: Run to Remember adopted the mile and set up the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen at a race. At the start of the hill, there was signs showing pictures and names/ages of fallen veterans. At first I thought it was just a few…but it kept going, and going, and going….there were about 150 of them, they covered an entire half mile!
Photo Credit: Wear Blue: Run to Remember Instagram
Christina was trying to talk to me about these signs but I just couldn’t speak. It was so moving to see this. I grew up in a military family (my father is retired Navy) so this hit home for me. And to have this while running your first marathon…in the Nation’s Capital….it left me speechless! And very choked up!
As if the signs weren’t enough, the second half mile was filled with volunteers cheering us on while holding giant American flags. Those flags had to get heavy, but the volunteers were AMAZING!
Photo Credit: Wear Blue: Run to Remember Instagram
I can’t remember exactly, but sometime shortly after this hill I felt some tightness in the side of my knee. I thought…”hmmm, that’s concerning…it feels like my IT band”. It didn’t really hurt, so I decided to just ignore it and hope it worked itself out.
The next couple miles were pretty uneventful, except for a bunch of small hills that we didn’t realize were going to be there. Seriously, I expected the course to be much flatter than it was! During these miles, we talked to quite a few other runners. Our shirts were custom made by my mom (Christina and I came up with the design, and she helped finalize it and printed them for us!!!) and the design invited a lot of conversation which was great! Since the back called out that it was our first marathon, a lot of runners shouted encouragement to us (as they passed us…haha!) or stopped to chat us up and tell us about their first marathon. It was a welcome distraction for sure!
Around mile 10 I realized that this IT band issue wasn’t going away. It was getting tighter and we were moving into the “discomfort” zone. I started thinking about how I let go of my strength training during the last 6 weeks or so of marathon training and how that surely was a factor. I decided I needed to tell Christina that this was happening so that I could prepare her if it got too bad.
Mile twelve was the split from the half. It was a little annoying to have all the spectators yelling “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!” when we really weren’t. Oh well! At least we had that great support for 12 miles.
As we split off, it suddenly got really real. Like….we’re in this for the long haul. No turning back now!
…..to be continued!….