So, how was the marathon?
I’m sort of at a loss on how to sum it up. It like a range of emotions, physical highs and lows…there’s not really a word for what it’s like to do a marathon. It sucked/was awesome. With that beautiful non-sense, I’ll just go through the day (with pictures!)
We knew going into Sunday that there was a high probability that it’d be raining and/or hurricaning during the race. That was a tough pill to swallow and I went through stages of acceptance on that… ending up at a pretty good place where I didn’t really care what it was gonna do. I picked up a new rain jacket (turns out in the 10 years since I’d bought the one I had packed they’ve started to make them a lot thinner!)
This was the doppler the morning of the race, and I’m pretty sure it stayed just about like this the whole time. Spoiler: we got no rain… a few moments where it was spitting, but nothing bad at all.
I woke up around 5:45, a few min ahead of my alarm. I got all dressed & took my breakfast down to the lobby so as not to wake my cheering squad. I saw the hotel shuttle and took it, not realizing it was taking us to the metro (I ASSumed it was somewhere “near the start” Silly Jamie.) We got there and I had my first minor freakout since I didn’t bring any money.
Lesson: Bring money. Just in case.
So this really nice fellow runner bought me a ticket. Thanks Shauna! It was a pretty bonehead move, looking back. She was all like “I’m here with my husband and kids so I have to be prepared!” And I’m like… “yeah… me too. I’m just a doofus, evidently.” Anyway, kindness of strangers saved me from being late, so there’s that.
We made the mile or so walk from the subway stop to Runners’ Village (which was really just a ton of Porta-potties and the gear check. Waited in line for like 25 min for a toilet and then walked to the start. We missed the official start, but made it up to the 4:30-5 hour corral. It wasn’t a relaxing start, but it all worked out. I ran with Stacey and Brittany for the first 10ish miles, which was so fun. 🙂 (Thanks for the pic, Brittany!)
The first few miles of the course were substantially hillier than the rest (since the rest is almost completely flat). Training in Raleigh, you kind of involuntarily do hills so I wasn’t intimidated. Even so, I hate hills like any sane person so it wasn’t the highlight of the course. Crossing the bridge to Georgetown was really pretty (and I totally peed on the side of the road just before the bridge too – you’re welcome for that detail! And for the show, fellow runners!) There was another long, slow hill in G-town but then we got to the top and a spectator was like “That’s it! It’s all down hill after this!” and… then I smiled. She was right.
Georgetown was awesome. I love Georgetown (who doesn’t!), it’s an adorable downtown stretch and it was SO LOUD and exciting! So fun to have so much crowd support there, definitely one of my favorite stretches of the race.
Next we came up on the Lincoln Memorial and I got a text from Scott that he & Margo were there. (Oh, I can text and run, are you impressed?) Seeing them was a big boost… we had planned on seeing them in Rosslyn, but couldn’t find them so that was a bit of a bummer.
Also right around the Lincoln (in between mile 10 an 11), I started to feel the beginnings of… Frankenblister. It’d been a sort of recurring issue… I’d been using Aquaphor and hadn’t had a bad run since. I said I was going to stop if we saw a Medic tent with Vaseline bc my toe on my left foot was starting to rub. We passed the Medic tent right as we saw Scott & Margo so I was all happy and like “I’ll just get the next one.” The next one was about 4 miles later. And THEY WERE OUT OF VASELINE.
Lesson: Never wait for Vaseline.
It just got worse. I did end up finding some a few miles later. (And to the Marine I grabbed the blob from, I said “OMG, you saved my life.” Good one Jamie, to a guy who’s probably been in a war. Moron.) I’m not sure if it was too late or Vaseline just didn’t do the trick. It didn’t help. By that point I had drifted back from Brittany and Stacey. I was trying as hard as I could to just not think about the blister… I mean, it’s not like I can break a toe from that, or really hurt myself. It’s just a blister. And when I looked at it (during “save my life” Vaseline application), it sorta just looked like a callus. But it hurt so bad. I won’t lie, I definitely cried at one point.
I motored through the mall section, which sorta makes me sad. I was looking forward to that part so much and I was just so preoccupied with Frankenblister that I couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Oh well, whatever.
On the way out of the mall towards the bridge to Crystal City, we passed the Holocaust Museum. Maybe this is super dramatic, but I started thinking about the victims of the Holocaust and how if they had blisters, and they stopped they’d probably be killed. That worked for me. It still hurt me, but I didn’t stop again on account of my toes and I didn’t cry about it again. I’m sure that’s not what the Holocaust Memorial *intended* to provide to society, but it got me through my marathon & Frankenblister.
The bridge to Crystal City (Mile 21ish) was hard: basically no crowd support and it just seemed to go on forever. Crystal City, though, was AMAZING. I was listening to music at this point, but there were several stretches where I couldn’t even hear my music because the cheering and bands were so loud. It was awesome to have that sort of energy when I was so depleted myself!
I started to actually go a little faster in Crystal City (well, it felt like faster, I don’t know if it actually was). I never hit “The Wall.” As I ticked past Mile 22, 23, 24 I just kept trying to think of it in terms of time. Like, in a half hour, I’ll be done. It somehow seemed more manageable that way. And then, the now famous line among my runnerd friends (originating from Kathleen? Heather? I can’t recall)… “I can do anything for 20 minutes.”
I finished strong, and ran up the short hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. (I had to pass so many walkers. Seriously people? I know it’s a hill, but .1 left!!! RUN!) I finished strong. I’m not sure what my official time was, but my Garmin had me 2 min under 5 hours. It’s way slower than I thought I’d finish, but by the end I didn’t care at all. The crowd was SO thick until mile 18? And even then I felt like I was constantly trying to find a space to run the pace I wanted to run without being on someone’s heels or being elbowed. The crowds made running your own race difficult. But, I’m not sure I could have/should have gone any faster than I did.
Woohoo! The other side of the finish.
After the finish… that’s when things started sucking 🙂 I got my medal, high fives from the Marines, photo by Iwo Jima. Then I just wanted to lay down… like a primal, unfightable urge. There was this Marine with a megaphone going around telling ppl NOT to lay down, and I wanted to hurt him (but didn’t have the necessary energy to do so). I found Brittany at the finish and I was so out of it. I collected the food & water and walked with the herd out of the finish area. I found a Medic tent and got some broth. I kept up with my salt (had 5 salt caps over the course of the race and lots of Gatorade…), so I’m not certain that was my issue, but it sorta felt like when I had my salt issue before. They gave me salty chicken broth and a little cot for a few minutes and it helped me perk back up. I still hated walking, but I could at least string together a sentence.
Lesson: I’m not sure. Just have more salt?
Scott and Margo found me and we slogged over to the Finish Festival. I was so happy to see them, I gave Scott a hug and said “Never let me do that again.” We were all so tired and just wanted to go back to the hotel (esp as we were plowing right through naptime). The metro line was up into the street. We went for a taxi, which also had a ridiculous line. When I add up the time I spent getting to and from the race, it’s about the same amount of time I spent running. I guess this is what you get in a 30,000 person race. It was beyond exhausting.
& Re: Frankenblister – it still hurts now, but more like a chafing burn rather than a big blister? And if it is a blister, it’s really far under the skin. I have no clue what went wrong there or how to prevent it. Oh wait, I bet not running that far would prevent it…
So… that’s the long and short of it. I am not sure I did a great job making it sound equal parts awesome and awful, but it was. If not for Frankenblister, it would have been much better, but there’s obviously not much that can be done about it now. I am proud that I did it, that I enjoyed it and mentally overcame the physical challenges (and never hit the wall… unless the end was the wall? IDK.) Am I doing it again? If so, not for a very, very long time.