From the moment I checked in at the race expo, the pressure was on:
The shirts we were given(absolutely amazing shirts I must say) said “Finisher” right on the front before we even started the race. That scared me. I knew if I didn’t finish I could never in good faith where this shirt and it would haunt me from my closet for as long as I kept it. It would be my beating heart beneath a floorboard. I needed to finish for the shirt’s sake.
The course was divided into two parts: The first 13.1 miles and the last 13.1 miles. The first half included marathoners and half-marathoners and was a beautiful path through Constitution Ave and down by Dupont. We experienced just about every famous monument and it was great scenery to run by.
The last half was rougher. As the half-marathoners peeled to the finish line, we looped around the stadium to go back down Constitution Ave. Seeing the marathoners keep going after 3/4 of the field finished was like watching ants march into an ant trap. The scenery also wasn’t as nice but having a good number of people around me going through the same Hellish experience made me feel better. I used the run/walk method for the second half when my legs wanted to give out.
Miles 1-10*: I felt excellent during this time. If this were a 10 mile race I would have rocked it. I knew I was between the 4:00 and 3:50 pacers and running strong. My playlist and the crowd kept me going, especially when I spotted Caitlin(who took this photo) and Emily on the sidelines.
Miles 10-16*: Mile 10 I had to stop to wait and use a restroom, which lost me a lot of time and threw off my sense of location in the crowd. I wasn’t sure what pace I was on anymore when I started running again until I saw a pacer at 13.1 and assumed it was the 4:00 group. For a while I tried to catch them but quickly realized I needed to run my race and start taking walking breaks.
Miles 16-20*: These were the 4 toughest miles of the run. I was constantly fighting to stay with the people around me using the run/walk method. I also stopped to use the bathroom again at mile 19. You never realize just how much time you lose to the clock going to the bathroom until race day; if you can hold it in for 26.2 miles of running, you deserve a whole other medal.
Miles 20-26.2*: These were surprisingly not as hard as I thought they’d be. Yes, my legs wanted to fall off and everything was cramping. But mentally these were easy to push through since there really was no where to go but forward.
*I drank fruit punch Powerade and water gratuitously throughout the race, had half a Pranabar at mile 11 and a GU gel at mile 18. If I could do it again I would probably skip the Pranabar since solid food didn’t digest easily and hydrate more throughout the first 10 miles.
My official time was 4:19:37. After only 3 months of training and a slew of injuries before that, I have to say I’m pretty darn happy. My secret goal way back in October was to beat 4 hours but life happened and I wasn’t that prepared this time around. A question I’ve gotten a lot since is “Any plans for a second marathon?” At this point the answer is no. I want to take time off for my legs to heal fully, build back up my running base, and get into better running shape. Down the road maybe I’ll try again, but for right now I’m happy with my medal(and you can bet your boots I haven’t taken it off since).