So, new this year has been serious running. I've always run, thanks to the Navy's requirements, and I even ran for pleasure a bit, especially when there is good scenery. I just never ran far because it didn't feel good. Then one of my friends got involved with a running group and I sort of followed along...first to the Nike Women's Half Marathon this March.
Here, with a random person I ran with from Mile 10 to 13.1. Then I convinced myself that I could totally do a marathon, but I should do it with a group, so I signed up for Team in Training. (Thanks to those of you who donated!) On the way to the Marine Corps Marathon, I ran a 5k Color Run as a recovery run after a long 18 mile training run. We started like this...
My final training run a week before the marathon was the Army Ten Miler, which covers a lot of the same ground as the marathon, which was nice. Even better, I ran into a shipmate from my very first ship at bag drop-off.
And at the first water stop, around mile 2.5, I ran into a pair of classmates from the War College. They were running the ATM as their big race and I was using it as a training run, so we only ran together for about a mile, but we found each other again at the finish, which was nice.
Finally, my race week arrived and I rested almost completely. Almost because I did have one trapeze class and the dog doesn't walk himself. Sunday came bright, early and thankfully about ten degrees warmer than the previous Sunday. I didn't need the gloves or headband I'd dug out. I did use arm warmers since I wore a short sleeved shirt rather than a long sleeved one.
Twenty minutes after the canon fired, I made it to the starting line. That's what happens when you're a slow runner, so I don't mind too much. Better than being trampled by the speedy folks in front. I worked hard through the race, and made it to the half more than ten minutes faster than I did to 13.1 in the March race. I saw my first friend at the mile 16 water stop where she'd been volunteering. She ran with me for close to a mile, then turned right towards the finish when I broke right to run the Mall. I ran into my second friend after crossing the soul-sucking 14th Street Bridge, which totally picked me up. After the four or so miles in Crystal City, I ran into both friends again as the route turned onto the final stretch. One got a picture of me (walking, sadly) right at mile 25.
Waving AND smiling five hours into my run. The other friend, on my left in the picture, ran with me to the final turn, and did the coolest thing. She pointed at the 26 mile marker and said "Do you see the sign? Take a moment and take that in...you've run 26 miles." That will be one of the defining moments of my life, I think. So, slow or not, I finished #17,000 something overall and just over #1,000 in my age group (I looked it up but can't remember). 5 hours and 15 minutes...I didn't stop (except a pee break around mile 14) and I never felt like I couldn't finish, which astonished me.
Moments after I crossed the finish line, my feet started to ache horribly and the left hip and knee that hurt from about mile 17 on started demanding my attention, but I managed to keep myself upright long enough to check out from the TNT group and find my wonderful, wonderful friends. I'd have made it without them, but I don't know that I would have been as happy or as fast at the end.
I'm already mentally preparing for a couple of half marathons in the winter, and yes, I am really thinking about another marathon. Don't think I'll do more than one a year because the training is so time-intensive, but I had a lot of fun both training and racing.