A Simple Running Log

November 1, 2010

2010 Marine Corps Marathon

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:46 pm

Yesterday, I actually finished a marathon! I also learned why the only goal you should set for your first one is to finish.

The bottom line:

  • Chip time: 4:43:29
  • Gun time: 4:59:something
  • Overall: 11,356/21,873
  • Sex place: 3,625/8,667
  • Age group place: 888/1,923

Saturday afternoon, I took the Metro to the D.C. convention center, where the expo was held. It should have been a sign of things to come when there were so many cars in the Metro station parking lot that many were parked up on curbs and in crosswalks, very unusual for a weekend.

The expo was packed solid with people, but well organized. I have little patience for crowds, so I just got my runner’s packet and shirt, bought the GU Chomps I wanted for the race the next day and bolted.

The convention center Metro station was completely full of people waiting to board trains. Not only was the expo going on, but it was Howard University’s homecoming this weekend, which is right down the line from the convention center, and Jon Stewart held his political rally as well. Yet the morons who run Metro kept the trains on the reduced weekend schedule! Two out of every three trains that came in the station were being taken out of service, so all the passengers had to get off, which only loaded up the platform even more, and then the trains left the station completely empty. When a train finally came in that was actually taking passengers, it was already so loaded only a handful of people could get on.

I was elbow-to-elbow in that damn Metro station for more than an hour before I finally managed to squeeze myself onto a train. Absolutely ridiculous.

I finally got to the stop where I’d parked and drove to Meredith’s house, where I was spending the night. She made a big pot of whole wheat spaghetti. Clark met me there as well.

I was already nervous about MCM since my first marathon attempt in March had ended in a disastrous DNF due to injury. But the Metro situation was really wreaking havoc on my nerves. I tossed and turned forever worrying I wouldn’t be able to get on a train and make it to the starting line on time, and when you’re sleeping on an air mattress, that makes a lot of noise. So Clark didn’t get much sleep either.

I must have finally fallen asleep, because it was a surprise when the alarm went off at 5 a.m. Clark was in a pretty bad mood due to the lack of sleep and the hours of standing around ahead of him, and was an absolute grump the entire drive to the Metro and ride to the starting line, which wasn’t helping anything either.

It wasn’t the Metro’s fault, but we got to the starting line late. I was supposed to be running this race with my friend Ashley, but you try finding one person in a starting crowd of 30,000! The last time I talked to her on the phone while running for the starting line, she said she was near the 4:30 pace group. I stripped off my sweats and gave all my stuff to my husband, then took off down the median along the starting area, headed for the 4:30 pacers.

It was while I was standing there on that guardrail, next to the 4:30 pacers, scanning the crowd for Ashley, that I realized I had left EVERYTHING in my bag that I gave to Clark — including my Chomps, which were important because the first on-course energy gels weren’t until the halfway point; my 4-hour pace band (like I was going to need that anyway); the baby aspirin I usually take before long runs; and the poor man’s arm warmers (old socks with the toes cut out) I wanted because the start was COLD.

I couldn’t find Ashley. I hopped the guardrail and squeezed in behind the pacers, hoping I would run into her during the run. We finally crossed the start line 15 minutes after the cannon went off.

I started running, thinking she was ahead of the pace group. I’ll end the suspense here — we never found each other.

The beginning of the race was awful. I was mad at Clark for being such a jerk all morning, mad at myself for leaving all my stuff with my husband and not getting to the start in time to find Ashley, which meant I now had to run the race alone, mad at the enormous crowd of runners around me I had to try to weave through and avoid and mad that my pace was already slow because of the crowd.

Not the best attitude to have when you’re trying to get through 26.2 miles for the first time.

I would say my general pissiness lasted until mile 9. We were running through Georgetown and I saw a sign that said “Chuck Norris has never run a marathon.” I laughed out loud. That was the first time I remembered I was running a marathon I’d been training for since June, and maybe I should just get over myself and enjoy it.

It was like my GI tract realized I was having a good time, because it was at that moment it first made itself known. I stopped at a bank of port-o-pots but realized I had cut in line. When I saw how long the line was I thought I could make it to the next ones.

Just before mile 10, I spotted two port-o-pots kind of off the course with no runners in line, just a few spectators and a Marine. They were so nice to me. They insisted I cut in front of all of them. I only lost a couple minutes that time due to their kindness.

I figured business was taken care of and I could concentrate on running. Um, wrong. Just a mile or so later, I could feel my gut rumbling again. No lie, I felt like I had to go the entire race after that, even after I actually DID go, twice more, including a 10-minute stop after mile 17 and the final stop just after the 25th mile marker. All in all, I lost at least 15 minutes due to my damn gut and I really don’t know what I did wrong. I guess it was in a bad mood yesterday too. I missed out on a lot of the sights and even Clark, who walked to two points along the course to cheer me on, because I spent the entire time scanning off-course for the next port-o-pots.

Anyway, waiting in line for the mile 17 port-o-pot, I noticed my legs getting stiff. I stretched some, but I don’t think it did them much good. When I finally got to run again, I knew the next nine miles were going to hurt.

It was probably around 20 miles I first had to walk. We were approaching the bridge, the one you have to get to by the 5:30 mark before they close the course and reopen it to traffic. My legs hurt so bad! Running another 10K sounded impossible at that point. But so many other runners were down to the same run-shuffle-walk routine I was doing, it perked me up. Misery loves company, right? There was only one way out of this mess, and that was to cross the finish line.

So that’s what I did. Miles 20-25 were run, shuffle, walk a bit, repeat. At the 25 marker, I decided I could run the rest of the way. Two minutes later, I had to make my final port-o-pot stop. But I ran the entire final mile. I felt tears well up when I saw the 26 mile marker. I don’t cry much, never before in a race, but that was just overwhelming. Then we made a sharp left onto the steep hill that leads up to the finish at the Iwo Jima Memorial. I got as close to a sprint as possible and crossed the finish line.

Again, so. many. runners. The runner’s chute was packed. The Marines were barking at us to keep moving, but we couldn’t. There was nowhere to go. My legs started cramping very badly at that point. I finally got my space blanket, my finisher’s medal, my food bag, a bottle of water and a bottle of PowerADE and shuffled my way to the family link-up area, where I found Clark.

He’s never looked better to me than he did at that moment, haha. The relief of putting the race behind me and finally finding him in the crowd came to a head and as soon as he gave me a hug, I burst into tears and sobbed into his shirt for a solid two minutes.

Then I plopped down on the ground, peeled off my running shoes (no blisters!) and called my mom. I also called Ashley, and we FINALLY found each other. We discussed the race over Chipotle, which might be my favorite post-race meal ever.

Finally giving my legs a rest and texting everyone I knew about my big accomplishment!

Ashley DOES exist!

So, today. I wore my CEP compression socks after I showered yesterday ($60 well spent) and everything from my knees down feels 100 percent. My quads and hamstrings aren’t so lucky. They’re sore. But compared to how I felt after my DNF in March, when I couldn’t bend my knees enough to put on socks, I feel like superwoman today!

Favorite moment from yesterday: Clark complaining how he had to walk at least five miles to the different points along the course, then realizing who he was talking to and tacking on, “Although you had a more physically demanding day.”

My feelings on the marathon — I really respect that distance now and I know I can run it better. I did not like MCM, however. It was a beautiful course, well-organized and all the Marines are awesome, but I hate crowds and this race had twice as many runners as the next-biggest one I’ve run. I am not one of those friendly runners who likes to strike up conversations with strangers. I think I’ll stick to the smaller events.

Which brings me to my final point. I am taking on the Shamrock again in March 2011! I’m moving on to a training plan with more mileage overall and three 20-milers, instead of the single 20-miler I ran in my novice training plan.

Almost a year since I first got the idea to train for a marathon, I can finally call myself a marathoner!

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