Beware….long recap ahead.
Sunday morning came with ease. I had some pizza early Saturday evening and went to bed later than I wanted but I felt rested and ready. I got around while the crew slept peacefully in the room. I double checked to make sure I had all my stuff and headed downstairs to the shuttle. It was there and waiting for us. Soon we had arrived as close to the starting line as the shuttle could get us and we started the long walk to the runners village.
Security was a breeze and then I made my way toward the very back of the village near gear check. It was still fairly early so instead of dropping my bag off right away I used it as a pillow and looked at the sky for awhile. Lying on the pavement was actually quite comfortable. It was around 60 at the time so it was perfect to just sit in.Eventually I dropped off my bag, used the restroom and got around to walking toward the start.
It was very weird. I was wide awake, at the starting line of another marathon (after being injured at AFM) but was not nervous. I had no goals, no time in mind, no concerns in the world and that left me at ease. I didn’t care if I ran slow or fast as long as I was comfortable and got to actually experience this marathon for everything that it is. And I am so so so glad I did!!
The starting line was crowded but I could still hear our National Anthem and feel the excitement that surrounded me. We had the fly over and then slowly started making our way toward the starting line. I had tucked in somewhere near the 4:15-4:30 pacers but couldn’t see either of them through the crowds. I just wanted to be ‘near’ people that were going to run at a easy pace. By this time is was right around 65-70* out. 🙂
Miles 1-5: 10:21, 10:41, 10:40, 9:29, 10:21
The first mile or so was pretty flat. Then you hit the hills. The first few miles were by FAR the worst with the hills. I could feel them but was going slow enough they weren’t draining and I could focus on the people around me. Along with each hill came numerous people walking. This is fine and I do not mind walkers AT ALL. But when you are running and they stop right in front of you with no warning to walk….it gets pretty frustrating. (this happened throughout the entire race) Each time we came to an aid station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water as I knew the heat would eventually get much worse. The down hills were nice in mile 4 but again the walkers made it difficult to navigate the road. Oh, and in this section I got the opportunity to see Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso as I passed by them. I didn’t stop for a picture as we all had business to take care of but it was nice to see them out there!
Miles 6-10: 9:49, 10:21, 10:11, 9:52, 10:10
At this point we had moved our way across the Potomac into Georgetown. This was an out and back section to the course that was really not as scenic as I would have liked. We ran next to Rock Creek for a couple miles and then made our way toward the Potomac and East Potomac Park. The entire section was very crowded with spectators and runners. The spectators were amazing and there were bands playing. It was very nice to see! Continued with my Gatorade and water at each stop.
Miles 11-15: 10:14, 10:24, 10:13, 10:12, 10:33
Miles 10-11 were the Blue Mile. It was…humbling and quiet. All you could hear were the runners breathing and shoes hitting the pavement.
I would read each sign as I passed which would immediately result in my throat tightening up and breathing getting harder so I would look away. Only to look back again. I passed a gentlemen having his picture taken by a sign of a young man, I can only assume his son, and he kissed it before he stood up. This literally brought the tears to my eyes and I had to just breathe for a minute.
When we got out of the Blue Mile we went around East Potomac Park around the Tidal Basin and started to run through the national mall. It was amazing. The spectators were jam packed in. Cheering and clapping, playing music and dancing. It was great. I also passed a person dressed as Chewbacca during this section too. It was seriously about 75* by then and that costume had to have been completely soaked!!
Miles 16-20: 10:13, 10:17, 10:33, 10:16, 10:18
We passed the Washington Monument, went in front of the Capitol Building and back down toward the Potomac. This is were you have to Beat the Bridge…aka time cutoff. I wasn’t worried about that at all but had heard that the bridge was extremely boring due to the lack of crowd support. This was true!! It was a dead zone. Luckily for me, I am used to just doing my own thing. I talked to a lot of people throughout the race but was mostly by myself on the bridge. This is also where I started see A LOT of people walk. It was starting to get really hot as the sun was now full and directly above us. I started seeing medics with runners and people sitting down. It was not looking good for a lot of folks.
21-26: 11:10, 10:44, 10:27, 10:34, 10:23, 12:49
We circled around the parking lot at the Pentagon this was probably my least favorite part of the course. We went around a huge parking lot and there was nothing. I mean there was the Pentagon but it isn’t some attractive building to look at. You can tell that my pace suffered a little during this mile but I am not sure if it was my actual pace or going through the underpasses as we looped around completing that mile. But soon we headed toward Crystal City and the crowd support was back!! Crystal City was great for crowd support but was also a nightmare to run in. It was another out and back but it was just single lane roads we were using. So for as many runners as there were it was hard to move around people. At this point I think more people were walking than running and the heat was really hurting some folks. I had originally thought it was early but right around the end of mile 25 into mile 26 I saw a woman and man walking. He was concerned with her big time. I stopped to see what was going on and she needed help! We were just on a straight part of highway with not much around so I stayed with her and walked very slowly with her until the man (her husband?) returned with a medic. I really do hope she was alright!
I continued on and heard “Staci!!” turned and saw Kevin and the kids!! I smiled and geared up to finish. The last part of this course is uphill. So I hit the hill and pushed. It wasn’t as bad as people had made it out to be but it wasn’t fun either! haha!
I crossed the finish line and started walking. 26.7 miles in 4:38:53…yes .5 miles of weaving around 😦
Then…my phone rang??? Dare was calling! He had to stay home in Michigan and got the text alert I was done so he called to congratulate me! Such a good kiddo! I let him know I hadn’t even got my medal yet and would have to call him back. While walking toward the medals, Marines were giving all the runners high fives and congratulations as we walked along.
I walked through the chute, received my medal, and moved forward. I sent Coach Kyle a beautiful photo and told him I actually finished 😉 then moved along. Eventually I found Kevin and the kids, grabbed an Uber and headed back toward the hotel.
I really didn’t reflect much on this race for awhile. I thought it would be more to me than it was. Yes, I finally got to finish a marathon. I did it without hitting the wall, without feeling tired when finished and happy with the way things went. I am not injured, I am not disappointed and I now know how I could actually ‘race’ this distance in the future.
- You will NOT hit the wall if you don’t want too! Everyone always talks about the wall. I never hit it. On a day with a temp of 82 at the finish line I could have easily. But I took my Huma regularly, hydrated like crazy, and took advantage of the people handing out things like orange slices.
- You can run a marathon without a huge positive split! I took the race at a comfortable constant pace. I hit the half at 2:15ish…26.2 at 2:33ish (including the walking with the woman waiting on a medic). I knew what I wanted to do and focused on good execution of that.
- People don’t care about you as much as they do your times. I had several people let me know they were going to track me for this race. You know how many have said anything to me about it??? Zero! Apart from my family and coach. Not one person that tracked me wanted to know anything other than how fast I finished. Why? Is it that important to care only how others do in comparison to you? I don’t give a shit who runs what pace…that isn’t what is important. Not at all.
- Racing isn’t always the BEST! This is the first race I have run for me without pushing myself. I took it easy so I could enjoy it and the experience of running through Washington DC. I am so glad I did. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this race half as much had I been pushing.
- Recovery isn’t always painful! I always hurt when I push myself. I am always sore for a few days and it hurts to move. This time since I took care of my body, and didn’t run it too hard recovery is a breeze. I have had no soreness, no chaffing, no blisters and no iffy toenails 😉