at the 2011 Suntrust National Marathon...
So here it is... my first BIG race of the 2011 season... a MARATHON... yep 26.2 miles and some more... according to my Garmin!
I slept pretty well going into race morning... though I did manage to wake up around 3:30 instead of 4:30... which was when my alarm was supposed to go off. I first checked the weather. It was going to be in the 30s so I wanted to make sure I dressed warm enough so that I wouldn't get to warm. After much debation I decided to go with my black Mizuno running shorts... my Girls on the Run Solemates running tee... my light bike arm warmers (as compared to the heavy ones)... my sparkly green and white polka dot headband... my green Zensah compression sleeves... and of course my pink Ironman running socks. Like always I would be putting clothes over it for pre race.
Mom... like always... my number one cheerleader came with me to the race. We left the house at 5:15ish and were down in DC somewhere near RFK Stadium by about a 5:45. I thought I knew where I was going but obvioulsy I didn't cause we got lost. I saw a car with an MDot bumper sticker and told her to follow that car... cause hopefully it was going to the race as well. After sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for nearly 10 minutes... mom told me to get out of the car and walk over to RFK Stadium while she went off to find parking. There were so many people walking over there that I hopped out of the car and followed everyone else.
As soon as I got by RFK I went into the DC Armory to drop off my bag at bag check. By 6:30 I was downing some Cran Apple Gu Chomps and water... so my stomach wouldn't get upset. By 6:40 I was ready to head out and find my corral... whereever it was located. After asking many runners and several race volunteers I found the Gray Corral. I was set for the race to begin. The only problem... I was the 7th corral... so it would take a while for me to start the race and reach the start line. I would watch my heart rate on my Garmin rise as 7 am neared. At about 7:02 the Elite guys and gals were off. I didn't then reach the start line for another 10 minutes.
Once across the start line... my Garmin was started and I was off. Boy were the streets crowded with runners. They said at the start that this was the biggest race National had ever seen in it's six years. Anyways... I was weaving in and out of other runners just so I could start at a steady pace. My first mile was just a shade over a 9 minute mile... just where I wanted to be. I missed the first aide station because I was on the right side of the road and it was on the left... oh well... I'd be fine till mile 3... the next water station. The sun was just coming up... so running down Constitution by The Mall and The Washington Monument was a beauty... like always. Somewhere between mile 7 and 8 I saw my two buddies Melissa and Steve from Pacers when they screamed my name. No waving just a somewhat head turn to recognize I saw them. Somehow... just somehow I was able to hold a consistant 9ish minute mile pace for the first part for most of the race. Of course during this point I didn't forget about nutrition... I had water at each aide station... every 2 miles apart... and popped in a Gu Chomp about every three miles. Nutrition was the only way I would make it till the end of the race.
The first half continued with the half marathoners and relay until the marathon veered off to the left to circle around the stadium. Even at that point I was feeling great... I was a shade under a 2 hour half... yippie! The circle around the stadium was boring... until I saw mom. Yep she was standing there screaming my name when she saw me. I had been running since mile 2 1/2 ish with my arm warmers tucked in but sticking out of my shorts... so it was time to give them to her. She looked as me weird as I said "here you go" and gave them to her. I told her where my Garmin said I was on pace and distance so she could call dad and the twinster to let them know I made it halfway. I heard her say "Love You Marci" so I replied back with "Love You Mom... See You In A Bit".
Anyways it was back towards The Mall and down Constitution for the second half. This where two things happened... I saw Melissa and Steve again around mile 17 and as we were going down the hill by the Capital I almost faceplanted but saved myself. It was actually scary... thinking I could have hurt myself during a race like that. Everyone around me was making sure I was ok... which I was. From there on we made our way along the waters of the Potomac... such a pretty sight. The next thing I knew we were approaching the South Capital Street Bridge over by Nationals Park... home of the Washington Nationals... and my dad's office at the Department of Transportation. I hate running over bridges and actually have a fear of them in general so I just took my time going over it. After the bridge we made our way onto the Anacostia Riverwalk Path. This is where things got bad. My stomach couldn't handle the Gu Chomps anymore and my legs were shutting down. I kinda knew I was done... but continuted. This is where I started thinking about the Girls on the Run gals.... how they struggle to in their 5k race but keep going... and that is what i would have to do even if it meant walking.
I had totally collapsed into a pile of nothing. My average pace now was at a 9:15 and I knew it would just get harder from there... I was around mile 23 at this point. Goodbye 4:15 marathon... goodbye... I would just have to settle for something under a 4:30 that day. As I said the race got hader and what made me furious was that my Garmin was about a mile ahead of the race mile markers said.
We made it through the creepy parts of Anacostia... where there were police at every corner and block... that's how creepy the neighborhoods were... and were coming down the home stretch. Now according to my Garmin at Mile 26ish I was just over a 4:11 marathon for the day but according to the race itself I still had a mile left. THis is where everything hurt and I fell totally apart. I had stop and walk many parts of this last mile... most of which were uphill. But I kept going... for both myself and these gals from Girls on the Run... cause neither of us would want me to give in this close to the finish line.
We finally made it back to RFK... just a little longer to push. I was relieved... i had made it. Funny thing about this race though... by the time we had made it back to the stadium my Garmin said well over 26.2 miles. By the finish line I was laredy at 27 miles. Back to the race... the finish line was painful... I wanted to run in strong but running in was all I could do. I hit the mat... I was done... and I mean done... and spent. I got my foil sheet... my medal... and my finisher picture taken. I had done it... my 7th marahton... COMPLETE!
I thank those of you who have supported me through thoughts on race day and I ESPECIALLY thank many special Girls on the Run gals for helping me push through a rough last part of the race. I hope the same inspiration comes when I run The Run of the Bridges in Pittsburgh!
Up next... Pittsburgh Marathon... in just left than 7 weeks from now... must get training!
Here we go...