5:20am - Missy and I leave the hotel room to walk towards the shuttle. Its freezing outside! 41 degrees to be exact. We are bundled up with sweat pants and shirts over our race attire, we join about a hundred people in line for the free shuttle. I was going to take pictures during the waiting but I looked down and saw my phone had already dropped from 100% to 85% battery in the 10 minutes since we left the hotel. NOT a good sign since I was planning on taking my phone with me on the 5 hour marathon journey. So I put it away and held off on the picture taking.
6:00am - the shuttle drops us off at Runner's Village. We are greeted by cheerful marines checking bags and wishing everyone a good morning. We pee (the first of many port-a-potty stops that morning), figure out where everything is and then find a tent where people were huddled because a.) it was still dark and too early to go the starting line and b.) it was freezing, so we runners banded together and huddled in the event tents to share body heat and pre-race jitters.
7:00am - while we were in the tent sipping on water and getting our race gear all set, the Marine Corps chaplain came on the mic and announced they were going to have a small worship service. I wasn't expecting this at all, so I was super happy about it. My friend Missy is not a christian and really wasn't interested in this worship service but she agreed to stay in there. I was so excited to hear the Word that morning and have a time of prayer. (My temporary tattoo I had on my wrist.)
7:15am - we head down to the starting line. We are stripped down to our race gear except for the cheap gloves and jackets that we planned to toss once we got warmed up. (The MCM team donates all discarded clothes to the local shelters.)
7:40am - The opening ceremony began. This included the National Anthem while Marines jumped out of planes and then drifted to the ground with gigantic American flags. I got a smidge bit choked up being surrounded by current and past military members standing there in the early dawn chill while our countries anthem was sung over the loud speaker.
7:55am - The canon goes off and the first wave of runners leave the corral.
8:10am - Our wave finally crosses the starting line and I stop paying attention to the time. :)
Miles 1 -4 - There was a long hill right in the beginning but we conquered it with grace. I think it was because we were running on adrenaline from the opening ceremony, but at the same time we held a steady pace so we wouldn't over do it in the beginning. Unfortunately at mile 4 I had to PEE badly thanks to sipping on water right before we started but after I had peed for the "last time" back at the starting line... grrr... I never have to pee this early in to a run and this port-a-potty stop cost us 3 minutes.
Mile 5-10 - nothing much to report. There were a few more hills. We were holding a steady pace. The miles were passing pretty quickly but I remembered this from my first marathon. The first half flew by but the last dragged on so I tried not to get too excited that things were moving so easily. We only stopped to walk through a water stop and eat our GU's but then got back to running quickly.
Miles 11-13 - These were pretty boring miles. We ran a long a river but there wasn't much else to see... Except for this beautiful sign which meant we were half way done! Our half marathon split time was around 2 hours and 24 minutes. Definitely slower than I had anticipated but I tried not to worry, because we were feeling good and I figured we could make up a minute or 2 at the end.
Miles 14-16 - I could definitely feel the mileage starting to kick in. My knees were starting to ache a bit and the fatigue factor made weaving around people just that much harder. I tried to remember how 16 miles was an easy training run a couple months ago to fuel me on. Also, we kept up our counting of the running skirts that we saw to help distract us. : ) And we ran through a lane of flags...
Miles 17-19 - These miles we started to pass some monuments and museums a long the course. In the beginning we had said that if we wanted to stop and take pictures in front of them we would because we wanted to enjoy this race as well as finish strong. Turns out we weren't exactly feeling up to taking pictures at mile 19. Haha. We decided if we stopped to take pictures we might not start again, so we just kept on going. Since we were using my phone as a mini boom box, I tried to snap some pictures since it was already in my hand. But it turns out running and picture taking aren't a good combo...
My attempt to take a picture of Missy and also trying to take a picture of the Washington Monument....
See.. It doesn't work so well...
Thankfully they're photographers were ready and waiting for us! (But I haven't bought those pictures yet so you'll just have to take my word for it that they are pretty good, as in, we don't look like we're dying!)
Mile 20-22 - Beat the Bridge! You had to make this milestone by a certain time or you would be cut off from the race. We were way under the time so that wasn't a concern. But what we didn't know was that this bridge lasted foreverrrrr....It was over a mile long and the sun miraculously turned hot at the exact time we were crossing this bridge. It was here that I started to realize I might not come in under 5 hours. We saw our time and we saw the 5 hour pacer pull up next to us with her big old sign reading "5:00". We decided to stay with this group for as long as we could, which happened to be the next water stop. They not only run faster than we do but drink water way faster too! They were gone before we had walked through the water stop and my heart dropped as they turned out of sight. So much for getting in under 5 hours. We were both feeling a little discouraged and started to fall apart a little bit. We had been doing SO well up to that point, but we were tired. We walked a bit, ran a bit and walked again.
Mile 23 - I was feeling ready to run again, Missy not quite as much so I went ahead. I kept trying to convince myself that I run 3 miles all the time. 3 miles is no big deal. I can totally pull out 3 more miles. I texted Mark to let him know I was almost there. (I'm pretty good at texting and running haha) He texted back to let me know where he was waiting for me.
Mile 24 - Just as I had predicted those first 6 miles flew by but these last 3 were painstakingly slow. I did however, continue to jog.... if you can call it that. : ) All around me people were stopping to walk. You think that having made it this far you could pull out just 2 more measly miles. But it becomes so frustrating to know that you have indeed made it this far and now your body just wants to quit on you. It's no longer a question of physical strength but mental strength determining whether you will pick up your feet and jog it out. My time was 4:41:23 - I remember this specifically because for a brief moment I thought I could run 2 miles in 19 minutes and still make it under 5 hours. Yea, that wasn't going to be happening the last 2 miles of a race. I can do it on fresh legs easy, but on 4+ hours of running? Nope. Not happening.
Mile 25 - GLORY! One more mile. The crowd got thicker and noisier as I got closer to the finish line. I knew I wasn't making it under 5 hours as my watch read 4 hours and 55 minutes, I came close to having a melt down, and possibly would've have cried if my body had had any extra fluid to spare. Thankfully I knew Mark was waiting for me at the finish line and this truly spurred me on. I couldn't wait to see him.
Mile 26 - Relief! I made it. I made a left turn to climb the final hill towards the Iwo Jima memorial. I stopped for a couple of seconds to look around because I didn't see Mark and I didn't want to miss him as I ran by. Thankfully he saw me before I found him in the crowd! A quick kiss and a "good job babe" and he sent me off to the finish line.
26.2 - I crossed the finish line at 5 hours 8 minutes and 36 seconds.
Below are a few pictures of us after finishing the race...
I love crossing the finish line!
I suddenly lose all memory of the pain of the last few miles and can be convinced to do it all over again. It's a strange phenomenon.
My Man. He gave up watching the Cowboys v. Lions game to be there for me.
I need him at the finish line and he always agrees to be there.
Marine Corps Marathon finishers!
The medal is awesome.