I woke up the morning of my second Marine Corps Marathon well rested, hungry, and a teensy bit nervous. I had only gotten about two-thirds of the way through my training plan, I hadn’t gotten over 16 miles on my long runs, and I hadn’t ran much in the past few months. Soccer games and hikes? Yes, ma’am! Running, though? Not so much.
I was so antsy and anxious at the start line the previous year, but this time around it was more like, meh – hopefully I finish without a major injury. My no-effs given mentality was totally freeing and, as it turned out, effective 🙂
I hung out with my dad in the VIP runner tent for about an hour. The tent had a glorious buffet of energy gels, Clif Bars, bagels, cream cheese, bananas, apples and coffee. As in normal life, I stuck to banana, half a bagel, and some coffee to hold me over till the start.
I made a friend at the bar the night before (pro tip: beer has electrolytes!) and we met up at the start line. We expected to be around the same pace, so we linked up and took off together. We stuck for the hilly first eight miles, but I wanted to go slower and he wanted to speed up. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve made the mistake of starting out too fast – no Bueno.
Despite my lack of training, the miles flew by quickly. The crowd was awesome as always, with especially riveting signs rooted in the craziness of the current election. There were rock and jazz bands, spectators in full costumes, and – best of ALL – a female firefighter running the entire marathon in her full gear. GIRL POWER, YEA!
I kept seeing my dad with his awesome sign at regular intervals, cheering me on and telling me I was getting close to the bridge. The bridge is the cutoff at mile 19, which you have to reach in four hours or else get kicked off the course and ride home on the loser bus with a drill sergeant. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but my dad swears that’s the case 🙂
Finally, I got to the bridge. I was so excited that I ran up and hugged my dad and almost cried. I was DOING IT. Without fancy gear or trackers, without anyone to run with, and despite the fact that I had every excuse in the book to opt out or quit – here I was. Proudly pushing through.
The rest of the race I ran simply because I wanted to be DONE. I let myself walk for 30 seconds at every mile marker, and found myself weaving through a sea of walkers for the last 5 miles. I hit the wall – the biggest, baddest, meanest wall I’ve ever encountered – right at mile 25. Shit.
I’ve gotten lucky in that I’ve never really bonked. I’ve gotten tired, or bored, or was in pain, but I never got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t continue. That last mile felt like hell on earth. It was the longest and worst part of the entire thing.
By the time I rolled around to the VERY UPHILL finish line (who did that???) I was totally gassed. It was an immense accomplishment and relief to finish. Plus, I found out that I hit a PR – 5:15:05. HELL YEA!
I can’t wait till next year 🙂