It’s been a week since my 1st marathon went down in the books. I’ve had time to be sore, and recover and get on with life. What felt like a part time job (training) is now over.
Before I recap the race, I need to say…
This was a big undertaking. It was doable with a plan. And God protecting my body for 5 months or more (especially with a fear of a cold or sickness leading up into the days before the race). Only 1-2% of the human population takes a marathon on and completes it. Our class Sunday school lesson this morning was about preserverance. In James 1, James talks about enduring trials. While this more refers to how we are enduring trials such as a Cancer diagnosis that we don’t choose, running a marathon is a trial we choose. But both can give you the faith in God to understand that he can get you through this.
Trust the plan.
To recap the race, I was a little nervous going into this past weekend. Especially when you taper and run your final long run 11 days before the race. It leaves you feeling worried your legs will stop somewhere. What if I can’t do this? Thoughts of how bad this could go. There’s always a story about someone ‘bonking’ on the course. Hopefully its not me. My longest training run had been 18 miles…they were a good 18. But I would have to wing the last 8.2.
Like any dedicated runner to a big race they are nervous about, I stalked the Marine Corps runners facebook groups and stayed very up to date with everyone’s training schedules, routines, and expectations so that I would be mentally prepared. There were awesome motivating posts and memes that helped me in training.
Thankfully, after my horrible 20 mile attempt (turned into a cramping 16 mile run instead), I changed up my nutrition, thanks to my friend Karla who helped me load up with IsAgenix products for the run. I could tell an immediate difference in my last 2 weeks of runs using this product.
So, wrapping around to our trip to DC, we had no real interest in sight seeing since we had been to DC in April with the boys. Luckily, our football game Friday night was moved due to weather circumstances and last minute, we had the night free. So we figured it all out and drove half way Friday night so that we could sleep late Saturday morning…which we did. Ate a big breakfast at our nice hotel and drove the rest of the way in gloomy weather Saturday. We arrived at the expo Saturday around 145pm. It was pretty big and took us a few hours to get through it. We were immediately suckered into the Brooks attire for the marathon. We each picked ourselves something out to commemorate this race- possibly our only marathon.
We drove to our hotel and checked in, met with the @seymour_pink group, whom left me a sweet goodie bag at my door. Part of some of the charity perks. I raised $ for this group as a desire to pay it forward for women with breast cancer. It wasn’t a local group to me, but it was the only charity on their list for breast cancer. With their 40-50 runners, they raised $42,000!! That was a big deal! I’m proud to have run for them. Thank you to all who helped me by sponsoring miles or eating at Chipotle or Blaze Pizza on the days/nights we did those fundraisers!
Next was off to dinner with my friends (2 traveled from out of town, and 1 was local to the area) Karla, Julie, and Kathleen! What a nice evening we had hanging out in the hotel restaurant, relaxing and laughing. This helped make this a great weekend.
Bedtime and organizing for the next morning happened and we were asleep before 11pm.
Sunday morning we were up by 5am and slowly worked through the pre-race morning routine. Our hotel had breakfast up and going by the time we walked downstairs as well, which was helpful for getting a little boost.
We took the hotel shuttle to the race shuttles. The crazy part was that it took an hour of standing in line outside before we could get on our shuttle. It was a little bit ridiculous and stressful, but at least we were in line with hundreds of others doing the same. Word had it that the metro did something similar last year, so the right answer was questionable. Once we got to the location, we were dropped off almost 1 mile from the starting line… and with little time to spare. Race started at 7:55… and well after walking as fast as we could without running, going through security, dropping off our bags, and hitting the portapotties I was in my corral by 8:03am. Luckily since my corral was in the back, they weren’t close to the start line yet. Conrad had to move ahead to get to where he wanted.
30,000 runners signed up for this race- and the corrals were not so official but they were broken up into 3 parts, but everyone still started at once- it just took the back corrals closer to 15 minutes to cross the start.
Spectators were at the starting line with us and everywhere throughout the course. Cool signs everywhere.
Mile 1 felt good. I met another girl from the facebook I’m on for this race. I knew there were hills on this race in the first 5 miles. I heard there was a big one somewhere…but I never could figure out which one it was (the joys of training in WNC- we eat hills for breakfast). I watched my pace and stayed between 10 and 11 m/m for a while.
Did I forget to tell you that the weather was perfect?? 50 and cloudy. I wore a tank and arm sleeves and capris. I couldn’t have been happier. It rained around 545 that morning a little bit and that was it.
Around mile 8 I stopped at the aid station for a bandaid. I was starting to rub a blister under my arch and I knew I could not run another 18 miles in pain. They were out of bandaids!! So they quickly offered a heel and lace pad as a possibility that had skin lube on that. They were out of any coflex or powerwrap… so I threw the lubed pad on and 2 strips of tape around my foot, threw my stuff on and went. Amazingly, that actually worked. Never felt it again.
Marines were set throughout the course, from the start line to the finish. They worked all the stations, clapped for us, cheered us on, and gave us photo ops.
Spectators really picked up at mile 5 and waned in and out at different areas. An old friend saw me at mile 10 as we passed the Lincoln Memorial. But I caught my picture with Shannon and my friends Julie and Karla in mile 17.
Music was booming, fans were cheering. They didn’t care if they knew you or not. They told you good job the whole time. I had a method down- walk at the miles… but it was hard to tell yourself to stop and walk when so many fans were cheering you on. Such motivation.
Even more motivating were the cheers I got on my Motigo app. This app was designed to collect cheers from family and friends to automatically go off in your ear at certain mile markers. I wasn’t going to use it…until my sisters realized it was there and posted it the day before. They all filled it up with cheers as well as a few friends.
The best part was hearing my kids cheer me on and my mom proudly reading off verses that helped me get through. Especially when I imagined I was soaring like an Eagle as she read that verse at mile 12.
“Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“ Do you not know, have you not heard. The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth….he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength and will soar with wings like Eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not grow faint.”
Mile 12 was the Blue Mile. That was special to see the memoriums along the entire mile, and the last part with flags on both sides of the run. I’m not sure that you can get the true emotion unless you are running through this mile. The tears and emotion of those around you, those who stop to pray or cry for their loved ones …
Around mile 14 I sucked down a mustard packet to stave off a cramp. At mile 17, I took Hylands muscle cramp pills. At mile 18 I grabbed a bag of Cheetos and started working through those a few at a time. Every time I felt a tightening in my calf, I would eat 2, and they would disappear.
Leading into this race I was very concerned about beating the bridge at mile 20. But I reached it with an hour to spare on the cut off time!
The band led you into the ‘Bridge’.
Miles 22-24 ran through Crystal City. It was lined with spectators- more than any other location!
I was not sure what to expect my body to do at this point. After I passed mile 21, I had told myself all bets were off. Just get to the finish. And the cramping was coming every quarter mile. It seemed that sometimes I could get through half a mile, sometimes an entire mile, sometimes a quarter mile before I stopped to walk again. I just persevered. Kept going. At no point was there a time that I just thought I needed to be done. There were people waiting for me. I had promised so many people that I would endure this and get through. So many mile sponsors! My kids were cheering me on in my ears. TRex (Nolan) was chasing me. Jenny and Michelle were sending me messages! Alyson was cheering me on! My parents were sending cheers and prayers. I had to complete this.
One thing that surprised me were the number of people handing out random food (in packaging) or groups dedicated to that specific role. So many options! Hands holding out candy, chips, Jell-O shots… just grab and go- whatever you needed.
The last and final mile was the hardest. Not as many spectators. Cramping was more often at this point. I’ve been running over 5 miles… And then you pass mile 26 marker and you see the hill.
Charge the hill they say. The Motigo app guy is telling me to be ready. The hill is LINED with so many spectators cheering on their friends up the hill on the left of it. To the right are the marines lined up to keep people going. So, remember, I eat hills for breakfast and I feel energetic…but my calves feel stoppable. I get halfway up the hill and, I hear my friends screaming for me… and then the worst happens, my quads lock and cramp. I can hear my friends screaming ‘NO CRYSTAL DON’T STOP!!!’ But I literally could not move faster at that point. This sweet older gentleman comes beside me on my right and gently speaks words of encouragement to keep moving up the hill- one foot in front of the other. But he doesn’t understand that my quads are locked. But I keep going. I’m thankful for him and my screaming friends. As I crest the hill, the quads calm. I have .1 mile left. I can see the finish line! I jog again… And OMG I’m done!
The finish is lined with Marines praising you for your awesome finish. They are hanging medals around our necks. I had to get a picture of this! You then walk the long walk down the finishing chute for your fluids, snack box, and post race paper jacket to keep you warm. The line is so long and backed up. Conrad is waiting for me at the end of the line.
Again, I don’t know that it is possible to tell you how blessed I was to be able to run this race after what I’ve endured and have such amazing friends come cheer me on. They had their own testimonies of amazing things that happened surrounding the race that just goes to show how amazing this is to just be part of, whether you are running or spectating.
Having others cheer you on, no matter how, is more of a motivation than you would ever know.