A week ago, I boarded a metro with two fellow princesses and headed to the Rock and Roll DC Marathon/Half Marathon Health and Fitness Expo. We were off to pick up our packets (and a still traveling Princess’s packet) for the marathon and half marathon.
After almost 20 years of being married to a marathoner, crewing/cheering/traveling to marathons, herding kids at marathons… cheering in awe and amazement as he moved from marathons to ultra lights and eventually 100 milers, I was taking that step and reversing our roles. I was picking up my packet for my first ever marathon!!! And, twenty years ago, ok, fifteen, ten, even five years ago if you had told me I would be here… about to embark on a journey of 26.2 miles, I would’ve told you that you were absolutely insane! But, after four half marathons, a 10×10 challenge and and The Glass Slipper Challenge – here I was! That moment, when the volunteer handed me my packet, it was sort of surreal, in some ways I kept waiting for some one to take it away and laugh and tell me that I was only ready for the half, that was all I could run. My longest training run was only 20 miles and the next longest distance was 15… what made me think I could tackle a WHOLE MARATHON?
As I walked around the expo, I looked at all kinds of swag… t-shirts, hats, car magnets… many with 26.2 as the theme, but I would not let myself buy anything – I didn’t want to jinx myself! Packets in hand, a few goodies (who could resist the cute Sweet Spot Skirts) in our runDisney bags (Once a Princess, always a Princess) we headed back to work/school/home and my waiting began. It was an almost 48 hour period of lots of excitement…my hubby coming home from a two and half week trip, my BFF from Jr High flying in to run the half, and just the whole marathon experience. One part of me just wanted to go run – to start this journey RIGHT NOW… then one part of me was scared – what if I got swept? What if I couldn’t finish? What if, what if, what if…
Hubby got home ok, BFF arrived without any issues… then it was time for some carbs and an attempt to relax and get some sleep… all while my stomach was doing flips! Eventually, I dozed off and felt ready to get my shoes on the road when the alarm went off. Weather was not as nice as we had hoped for, but you control what you can and dress for the weather – even if that dress is very stylish, haute couture, custom cut, trash bags! Dressed in our running gear, we grabbed our drop bags (complete with baggies of TP), our custom trash bags and four Princesses were dropped by Prince Charming at the metro station to head in with 2500 of our closest friends. Fortunately we were one of the first stops so we got seats…and we were near the back of the train which proved the exit of the metro to be easier. Then we began to swim upstream (at this point it’s getting very wet) and to drop our bags. This is where the baggies of TP came in handy (no pun intended). We jumped in line for the porta potties and many of them were out of paper – when other folks were not willing to use them, we were able to jump a few people ahead because we had our own! (Thanks for the tip, Honey! After he cut our trash bags, he packed our TP baggies for us!). The Porta Potty lines were AWFUL… painfully long and excruciatingly slow… by the time all four of us had taken our turns and headed towards the corrals, 18 had already been released! Princess Katie Reed and I jumped into corral 19 while Princess Tavel and Princess Carol Ann warmed up a bit more…I was worried about getting swept and anxious to get going and Princess KR is young and had the plan to “drop the hammer” and set a PR. And with a few high fives, a hug from my daughter, and a starting gun… my marathon was underway!
I went out fast – excitement, trying to keep Princess KR in my sights (ha ha!) but settled into a groove pretty quickly… and ran pretty consistent 10:30 pace. I ran the DC Rock and Roll Half last year, so I sort of knew what to expect for the first bit… the weather was a bit of a downer – not as many bands or spectators, but it was about like I remembered – then came the point where the half went straight and the full veered off to the right – that was hard – we thinned out drastically. I was struck with the humor of the situation – from mile 11 to mile 12.5, when we peeled off, I was worried about whether or not I had missed my turn and how mad I was going to be if I all the sudden was at the finish of the half… then it was clear I was on the full course and it was empty and I thought, what am I doing?!?
The first three miles of the second half were great – I felt good, the rain was lighter, the music was good (it was at mile 15 we passed the drum corps… my favorite from the year before and they didn’t disappoint this year either). Then at mile 17 the course crossed a see through draw bridge – and I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could finish in 4:30…so I pushed, pushed hard and ran a 9:56 mile – at that point, it was clear, I would finish, but not in under 4:30! The next two miles the rain picked up again (hardest yet) and the course got more deserted – and flooded in some parts as we entered a park! Then, we started up the hills – I kept thinking, surely this the last hill – funny though, I don’t remember any downhills – although I am sure they were there! LOL! Eventually, I broke out of the park and knew that there was less than a 5K to go! I feel in stride next to a young lady who was running her first marathon too. Her training partner hadn’t put in the miles needed to and she was running on her own. We decided we would carry each other in… there was no way we were stoping now! There were a few times in those last few miles when I wanted to walk – the course was pretty empty, the spectators hadn’t braved the weather, who would know… but she wasn’t going to let me, and I wasn’t going to let her – and I’m glad we made that pact! I came into the finish at 4:46 – meeting my goal of under 5 hours!
I was tired, happy, in shock and hungry! See my hubby running across the parking lot from the bridge where he had watched the finish to the waiting are where I was – that was a sight I am not sure I will ever forget! And the hug he gave me over the fence…I couldn’t stop smiling!
I grabbed all the food they were offering at the finish, made my way out of the finishers area and over to bag drop and jacket pick up. All marathon finishers were given a finishers jacket. When I saw the jacket on line the night before, I wasn’t all that excited … but I tell you, now, I am all about that jacket! It’s much cuter in person… and just the right weight for the weather here – at least that’s what I keep telling myself!
I can now say I am a marathoner. One of the 1% of the country who can say that they are! And although it was harder than I thought, I can say I will do another one! But for now, I’m going to take it a little easier, do a little more crafting and get ready for track season, where I get to watch my kiddos run instead of them watching me!