My runs during this last week were significantly shorter, so I had plenty of time to cook up some delicious food and eat extra healthy all week. A few favorites were the French Onion Soup I made in the hand-me-down Crock-Pot from Grandma Lois, (modified) Chocolate Pumpkin Banana Muffins, and a ton of roasted butternut squash.
Plus I got to go to a lovely Pre-Race Pasta Dinner hosted by Run For Burma, and found out that I was runner-up in fundraising totals! Thanks to everyone who donated! The dinner was delicious, and it was a nice chance to meet some of the other runners and talk race-day specifics.
Saturday night I stayed with Mom and Dad. I did my best to get to bed early and actually managed to get a decent night's sleep. Mom took me to the metro station at 6:30 and I was at the Pentagon by 7am. There was a bit of walking and a bit of waiting in lines but I must say, the Marines really know how to organize a race. I was able to drop off a bag with sweats for after the race with the Marines that were manning the UPS trucks and then I was off to the start line. After a long wait at the PortaJon I found the "corral" for my expected finish time just before they started at 7:55.
The energy at the start was something else.
At the start of the race it was a bit crowded. They stagger the start using the "corrals" so that most of the faster runners are near the front, but it still took a while for the pack to thin out a bit. After a mile or so I was able to settle into a steady pace, but the pace that I settled for turned out to be a bit too fast. I was running about 8:30-8:40/mile for the first ten miles. Way too fast for me. My goal time required a 9:00/mile pace, so I was pretty far ahead of myself. I felt good, and the pace felt comfortable, but it wasn't sustainable. I knew better, but I couldn't help it. I was having a blast. The race opened up with a series of hills in the Spout Run/I-66 area, and at the start of the last big hill, the Marine Corps band was just starting up with "Halls of Montezuma." It was a big hit.
Just before the 10-mile marker, I nearly blew by my support crew.
Mom brought some big helium ballons so I could spot them,
It was actually Mom that spotted me and hollered my name just in time. I grabbed a pre-packed goodie bag with pretzels and my salt pill and kept moving.
Still I brushed it off, and told myself that in 10 miles I'd be enjoying a beer at the finish festival, as long as I just kept moving. The next three or four miles were slower, but I felt okay. I went by the monuments, had my picture taken by the paparazzi - I mean race photographers - and passed by Mom and Becka again. Dad missed me in his effort to get a "better" look.
At that point I knew I only had about an hour of running to go, but I reminded myself of the saying that's used by a lot of running coaches that the first half of a marathon is 20 miles, and the second half is 6.2 miles. Boy, was that saying true for me yesterday.
|That's me in the gray top, pink sneakers.|
|Not obvious enough!|
|Waiting for me at mile 17...|
|The look on his face says "So much for that 8:40 pace..."|
|I feel great! Really!|
|Oh yeah. I got lei'd by a random supporter somewhere around mile 18.|
|Becka was ready with the camera. Mom was caught off guard and didn't really see me coming.|
|"Erin! Come back! I didn't get your picture!" Seriously, Mom? She actually said that.|
I was dog tired by mile 21. I had slowed to about a 10:00/mile pace and was frantically checking my watch to make sure I didn't lose the gap between my actual time and my goal time. I honestly can't remember much from the last 5 or 6 miles. I went through just about every disassociating strategy that I know of, doing math problems to think about how much was left, thinking about the different people that had donated to my fundraising efforts, planning the feast that I would be enjoying for the rest of the afternoon, basically trying to think about anything except for the pain that was coursing through my legs. (Luckily it really was just my legs. My muscles were super sore, but other than that I felt great.) I saw the hill just before the finish line and actually found some strength in forcing myself to power through it. I picked up my pace a tiny bit on that hill and made my way through the finishers tunnel.
I finished at 3:55:39. (My goal was under four hours, or to beat Sarah Palin's time of 3:59:36.) I saw Mom, Dad, and Becka in the crowd almost right away and the tears pricked. By the time I had been funneled along to the gates where we were medaled by the Marines I was pretty emotional, and I was overcome by the hurt that I felt all over. Somehow my mind was able to trick itself into believing that I was not really hurting at all until I had crossed the finish line and started walking. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I had hurt my foot pretty bad and I limped along as the Marines handed me all sorts of post-race goodies. By the time I was past the gate that separated the crowd from the runners I had lost track of my crew and went to claim my bag so I could call them up.
When I met up with my mom and Becka, mom was all worried because I "looked pale." I felt like crap too, but couldn't bring myself to eat much of anything for another hour or so. So much for that free beer. We went to Chipotle's and I had about a bite of my burrito before I gave up and put my head down on the table.
Then I asked if we could wait outside (while dad got the car) because I was worried I might get sick. I didn't.
|Feeling great. Looking great.|
|"Erin! Could you at least try to smile?!"|
|It was pretty windy by that point so I found a corner to cuddle up with my burrito.|
Once we were home, mom did what she does best. She babied me all afternoon. She drew me a bath, gave me some clean, dry sweats to change into and fed me and fed me and fed me until I couldn't eat any more. (Still I insisted that Becka and I stop at a Burger King on the way home. Give me a break, I earned it!)
In the end I couldn't be happier with how things turned out. I met my mark. I didn't sustain any (serious) injuries. I ate a ton of food. I set a reminder in my phone for 2013 registration.