The 44th Marine Corps Marathon is over. My 7th, and perhaps toughest marathon. I’m grateful to Team Safe House Project for the opportunity to run for them, raise awareness, and support their organization. I’m really, really happy that I finished. That’s the short story. Here’s the long one:
As I wrote last week, I didn’t enter this race weekend as prepared as I’d hoped. I made poor choices, like wearing new shoes for my 20 miler (same beloved Hoka model, just new!). I found myself nursing some posterior tibialis tendonitis after that run, so I rested as a precaution. I worked on gentle stretching and strengthening, and I tried a couple of KT taping methods to provide some support to allow me to run this race. My test run went well, so I was grateful to give it a go.
I think every average athlete goes through the same emotions during taper. We begin to have doubts. We are restless. We lose sight of our “why.” We eat all the foods. We have nightmares about race day. (I always have at least one about showing up to run without race attire and with a huge, heavy backpack I have to carry!) All of these anxieties really play with our mental game. I discuss this phenomenon freely in emails to my sub-team and with our runners during training runs with Sports Backers MTT. This way, when they feel these things, too, they know it’s normal.
I am so lucky that my best friend Patty was running this race. Patty and Steve picked me up early Saturday to make the journey from Richmond to the National Harbor for the expo. I was so excited about the race shirts! MCM did an amazing job this year! I stopped by the Nuun booth. I couldn’t be there for the ambassadors meet up at noon, but I did see the sign in social media posts, and I found my name!
We had a great hotel location about a half mile from the race finish. We ate a delicious meal at True Food Kitchen. I had a roasted butternut squash vegan pizza which was amazing!
And then it was race day. I had controlled everything I could. I had my race gear laid out. I taped my right ankle. I didn’t overdress. I body glided/Aquaphored everything that needed it. I donned my poncho. And we were out the door.
Yes. I said rain poncho. Because, as my teammate and fellow Pink Nation coach Amanda said, we all thought the weather in 2016 was awful. And then Mother Nature said, “Hold my beer.” In 2016, there were heat advisories. And as much as I love running in heat and humidity (note the sarcasm!), it’s even better when it’s preceded by hours running through torrential rain. Patty and I ran together. The race started in just a drizzle after waiting for over an hour for the race to begin in steady rain. The rain picked up at about mile 6. Miles 13-14 were punctuated by driving rains and wind with multiple, ankle-deep puddles. Patty was starting to struggle at mile 14, and she told me to go. I gave her a hug, shed a couple of tears, and went.
By the time we reached the National Mall, it had stopped raining, and the sun emerged. This really only served to heat up the asphalt and puddles and to make conditions, well, steamy. It was also 80 degrees. By mile 17, still on the mall, I saw a med tent. I was so close to walking right off the course. I was spent. And then Patty caught up to me. She pushed me through the next few miles. One of our Richmond supporters rubbed Biofreeze on my upper back on the 395 bridge. I almost cried at each gauntlet, the final one at mile 22 in Crystal City. It was a party at that point! There were spectators handing out all kinds of goodies! I felt much better after eating a bag of Skittles and sharing a bag of Lay’s with Patty!
At mile 23, we had friends we didn’t expect to see from Richmond cheering on the sidelines! I pretty much cried like a baby in Becky’s arms when I saw her. She pointed out that legendary runner Kathrine Switzer was nearby, and she graciously agreed to take a selfie with us! Without Kathrine running the Boston Marathon in 1967 despite the rules restricting women from participating, women may not have the opportunities to compete in endurance races as we do now. She’s inspiring!
At this point, we knew we were going to finish. It was hot, but we were relieved. There was a lot of walking during the last 5k, but we didn’t care. We were in great company, as most everyone on the still crowded course was walking at that point. And in the end, we finally got to run and finish a marathon together! So grateful for Patty!
While we were running MCM, our teams were running 20 miles in Richmond. Pink Nation is about half first time marathoners. I’m so excited to finish this season with them, and I can’t wait to witness their successes in 2 weeks at the Richmond Marathon!