I DID IT!!
It’s official: I completed my first marathon! I’m still pumped up, and it’s been almost a week since I crossed the finish line!
This experience was easiest one of the best of my life. I conquered the physical challenges (pain) and mental challenges (doubt), and am already planning my 2015 races. Perhaps a bit overzealous, but I’d like to run two marathons next year, along with some shorter races peppered in.
So, what was race day like?
I treated it like any other group run. I woke up at 4 a.m. to stretch, drink coffee, and eat a bowl of oatmeal. After that, I met my team around 6:30 a.m. at our tent near the half-mile marker, and walked with my running buddy, Alex, to the start line. We both started to get nervous as we edged closer to our corral. The energy from the announcers, military, and runners was simply overwhelming.
My plan on race day was to run conservatively the first half, and then pick up the speed a bit in the second half (aiming for negative splits). Staying conservative helped in the long run. The amount of runners I saw “hitting the wall” after 18 miles was shocking. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but I guess that I expected to see people struggling more around mile 23 (that’s where I started to break).
I conquered Haines Point, which was not as awful as I had anticipated. The 14th Street Bridge was as I imagined: atrocious. Never-ending, no shade, boring. I did run alongside someone dressed as the devil, so that helped to keep me going!
The last 2 miles were my version of complete hell. My injuries had flared up to the point where I could no longer ignore them, and the pain was almost unbearable. I remembered Coach Jack telling us that the last few miles are all guts, that you just dig deep and get it done — and that’s what I did. I thought a lot about David during those last few miles. I pictured him running alongside me, actually. To me, we finished together.
I received my finisher’s medal from a young Marine, pictured below. I wasn’t prepared for the weight of the medal, and after running for 4+ hours, it felt like a 10 lb. weight around my neck!
Before celebrating with friends and family that evening, I did all the things I normally would after a run: coffee, Oreos, ice bath. The pain was legit — perhaps the worst I’ve ever felt — but it was worth it and I cannot wait to run another marathon with Team in Training.
What’s next? Well, it’s been almost one week since the race and I’m feeling a little depressed. Not because the marathon is over, but because running with the team has been a part of my routine for almost 5 months. For the first time since May, I have nowhere to be this morning. I have no miles to run. I have no running buddies to see. I feel sort of incomplete. Maybe that will wear off, or maybe I will find ways to fill that void. For now, I will try to enjoy the gloriousness of a Saturday morning.