Eye of the Tiger

Slowly but surely, I ran a marathon. 26.2 miles criss crossing Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA with 23,529 other crazy people. I finished in 5:05 which is good – hey I finished my first marathon! – but slower than I was secretly hoping. (The winner? Finished in 2:20. Whoa.)

The Marathon
I held a steady 10:30 pace until mile 18. I was stoked that I was going to finish around 4:30. But that joy wasn’t compensating for the increasing pain in my hip. By mile 20, I couldn’t even run a full mile without taking a walk/stretch break. Lifting my leg was excruciating. I did manage to run the final 1.2 miles non-stop, high fives from a group of Navy men helped, so did the long line of high fives from Marines right at the finish line. There were some military men and women running with their rucksacks – I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. I ran among people with amputated limbs, and again, I willed myself to keep going.

Thankfully, R was there on the sidelines cheering me on throughout the course – miles 2, 11, 16, 22, 24. By the end, getting to him was all that was keeping me moving.

So much else that I can hardly keep it all straight. Meeting another runner who had won 2 marathons and run 22 of them. People just going pee on the side of the road. All the cheering and funny signs (“If it were easy, it’d be the Army 10.” “Make this marathon your bitch” which I like to assume is a Breaking Bad reference.) Running past the Washington Monument and Arlington Cemetery. Knowing that I beat Katie Holmes’ marathon time but not Oprah’s. A giant tele-tubby on the sidelines. Drum lines and rock bands. Kids sticking out their hands for high-fives. The shirts that said “My Dad is a Marine” and “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” All the incorrect Hoo-rah-ing by civs (it’s Oo-rah!)

Hurricane Sandy
Oh yeah, luckily the hurricane didn’t hit until Sunday evening. The race was cool and a little windy, but thankfully, there was no rain and no gusts. Worrying about the weather definitely toyed with me mentally. Riding on the bus on Saturday, our return bus was cancelled and so we had to scramble to find lodging and transit options. I considered whether we should just turn back to get home. Not exactly how I wanted to spend the night before a big race. But it all turned out fine. (Although we didn’t get back to Brooklyn until Wednesday afternoon.)

The Recovery
I was hurting later in the day, but was still mobile. I had been so excited to be done with it, that I forgot to stretch afterwards, that came back to bite me in the ass on Monday (the day after the race.) Turns out running uses a lot of back muscle, because whoa, my back was hurting. I also spent a half day thinking I had lost all the cartilage in my left knee (an exaggeration, but it did really hurt.) A few days later, I’m good as new – sort of, a few cracks and unexpected surprises, but more or less back to normal.

And a Mighty Hearty Thank You
Thanks to everyone who’s run with me over the past two years. I couldn’t have done it without you. Seriously. From my brother dragging me way too far all over Santa Barbara to running with D in San Francisco through the rain like bad asses. Running with J on the South Beach boardwalk and running Portland’s bridges with M. I’ve gotten to run in so many great places – Brooklyn, Central Park, Ithaca, Scituate, Santa Monica, Austin, Denver, the Bahamas, and more. I’m really lucky, and I love running. After the marathon, I said never again. But two days later and I’m ready for my next one.

The race finishes at the US Marine Corps War Memorial and runners can have their photos taken with the Iwo Jima memorial statue. Rather than trying to beat the crowds on race day, I opted to do my photo the day before.

At packet pick-up with the Marine Corps bus.

R’s super awesome sign for me!

4:45am wake-up call. I am ready!

R’s awesome photo of the Lincoln Memorial. I only got to see the back of the building.

The Washington Monument and reflecting pool.

With my marathon medal!

Eye of the Tiger