Yesterday, I had the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon. The People’s marathon. The marathon that runs through my city, that I have spectated and supported for years. During a marathon, you learn what you’re made of….
When I signed up to run the 39th MCM in Feburary with Washington Humane Society, I did so because of a discussion Kat, Linzie and I had while running the WDW 10k at Disney World in January of 2014. If it hadn’t been for this conversation, I might have waivered.
I was waivering up until July 2014. At the end of June, I was on target to finish my masters in August (and I did), and my husband and I were exploring possible futures. When my father died, everything got put on hold, so I could train and run Marine Corps, for pop who was planning to register as a photog on the course and take pictures and watch me run.
I trained all summer and as we went into September, I was feeling more ready than ever to take on this marathon. I had high hopes for a sub 5 hour marathon and a huge PR at the marathon distance. I was in close contact with my coach, following her instructions to a T. Then the Navy/Air-Force Half Marathon happened…
It was a great race and I did PR, but as with all PRs, they could have been bigger… better…. and I got injured. It was less than pleasant and I believe a large part was because I hadn’t been aligned by a chiropractor in over three years, so my back was WAY out of whack and was a large reason why there was extreme hip imbalances. I was diligent, however, and I listened to my coach, saw a PT and a chiropractor and worked hard to stay in marathon shape, spending hours in the pool and on the bike, continuing with an amended training schedule. Finally got in a solid 20 miler and was like, maybe I can still do this. 20 miles in 3 hours and 50 min. I can nail a sub 5.
So Thursday I went to the expo and picked up my bib and some swag for Linzie and I so we could ensure we got our sizes in the stuff we wanted. I also had the opportunity to meet Janice (another fellow INB ambassador).
On Friday, I hung around and teleworked until it was time to go pick Linzie up from the airport and then the REAL fun started! We met up with Emelia at the expo (we went so Linz could get his bib) and headed to dinner at Shop House and then over to Union Station for the Monuments by Moonlight Trolley tour with some other INB ambassadors! It was pretty awesome to experience the sights of DC with people who hadn’t seen them before!
On Saturday morning, Linzie and I went to the bRUNch and had a phenomenal time! We did a quick 5k shakeout and ate some breakfast while chatting it up with Bart Yasso.
Linzie and I milled about DC with some of his friends who drove up from Richmond and then went back to my house to put our feet up and relax before the marathon
Me and Linzie, watching Pitch Perfect and hydrating! Photo courtesy of SharpEndurance
On Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready to run Marine Corps Marathon. We were meeting my friend Leanne at the metro by my brother’s house to head to the start together. Leanne (for some ungodly reason) decided to run the marathon with me. Linz was going to try and PR so he went up to start with the 4:45 pace group. We were starting with the 5 hour pace group.
Us at the start of MCM — Photo courtesy of Leanne
The howitzer cannon might have gone off promptly at 7:55, but we didn’t actually start moving forward and running until 8:15 or 8:20. We were off, and headed further into Arlington. I was told not to burn out on the first 3 miles because they were gradual uphill and to be aware of that. We took it easy during the first 10k as we went into Georgetown. We proceeded through Georgetown and into the rest of DC and down Rock Creek. I was fine until we got onto Haines Point and around mile 12, I saw the photogs taking pics up above us and it made me think of my dad and how he was supposed to be there. And I looked at Leanne and told her it was too early for this shit.
As we moved around Haines Point and around Independence Ave, I could feel pains creeping in on the inside of my lower left calf. At mile 16, I started getting concerned. Leanne told me I needed to let my shit go, have a cry and move the hell on cause we had a marathon to finish. I told her to go on without me. (she is really speedy) She said hell no. She was going to give me a piggy back across the finish line before she was going to leave me. At mile 18, I called my husband, who was at work and told him what was going on with me emotionally and mentally. He told me Leanne was right, I needed to cry it out but that he knew I could finish this marathon. As we ran down and past the capitol building, she asked me why I couldn’t just have it out. I looked at her and told her I couldn’t cry in front of such a badass because she was a bad ass; and she was like “what, you think I don’t cry?” Then we had real confessions and found Sheena just after mile 19, where she hopped in and ran with us.
We beat the bridge with 45-50 minutes to spare, but the bridge was tough and I still hadn’t had the relief that crying would have given me. My wall lasted 8 hellish miles. Leanne pulled me along through to Crystal City where we saw my brother, future sister in law and buddies, Anh, Aaron and Will. They had made signs and Anh had brought me shot blocks (I forgot an extra pack). When I saw Ben, I almost started bawling and wanted to give him a giant hug… but I didn’t because, yknow, we aren’t huggers… and I was sweaty. My brother actually came out to support me! Anyway, we motored along through Crystal City and saw Gail and Tony around mile 23.
Sheena, in blue, Leanne in pink and me in the flag at mile 23
My demons wouldn’t leave me though. I was having a rough time and when we hit mile 24, Leanne looked at me and said Becca, it is 2 shitty little miles, come on. Let’s do this! My mouth said yes, my legs said ok, but my brain… my brain told me to f*ck myself because as far as it was concerned, we were walking, damnit.
When we got to mile 25.5, Leah jumped out of nowhere and started running with us also! I had an entourage as we approached the finish where we saw my mom jumping up and down and cheering for me. Side note, she was so adorable cheering and our family friend, Barbara Lanzer was there too.
photo courtesy of Barbara
I kicked up the hill then tuckered out less than 100 yards before the finish, giving a half-hearted and defeated jog to the end.
I was definitely surprised that what ended up defeating me was my mental demons and not my injuries.
Now for the fun section.
Things I Have Learned and Could Have Done Better (or what I would change for next time)
- Calculated my nutrition correctly (which I didn’t. I only brought 2 of the 3 shot block packs I needed, and as Sheena can attest, when anything happens in the negative way, it mind f’s me… even when I had it covered and got extra shot blocks and everything, I just couldn’t let it ride)
- Not gotten so introverted and stuck in my head, which is WAY easier said than done. One thing goes wrong and I get mind f-ed or in this case, I realize that I miss my dad. The missing of him comes in waves and it can be completely untimely. Basically, I need to learn to shake it off.
- Listened to Leanne and sucked it up or let her carry me next time
- During my training, I am going to do the 20 miler and a 22 miler (my schedule called for 20 miles and a 20 or 22 miler, I did the 20 miles instead of 22). While I followed my schedule, when given an option I did less rather than more, and mentally, I wasn’t as top notch as I could have been, so I will learn from this and make it work.
- Complain less. When I complain less, I do better and shake things off better. Period, end of story.
People I couldn’t have done this marathon training cycle without:
My husband, first and foremost, and my mom. Both have been incredibly supportive of the early mornings, the injuries and the whining.
Sheena and Leanne for their constant support during training and during the race. OMG these two ladies have been so amazing. Sheena rode her bike during my long and really tough runs and Leanne, my god, this tiny lady kept threatening to piggy back my through the race if necessary. hehe
Linzie and his words of encouragement! I cannot believe I got to share this amazing weekend with you! It was incredible to share this amazing weekend with you; I suspect there will be several more marathon weekends together! SO MUCH FUN!
My other friends and family, virtual and otherwise: Leah who showed up out of nowhere to run with and support me! It was a boost! My cousins and extended family who were tracking me and following me and texting me as well as the rest of my running buddies and friends who were cheering me on via text and facebook! Everyone has been so amazing.
The crowd support during the race was off the hook. I definitely plan to run this marathon again. And to never run the Disney marathon again (Disney does not even hold a candle to MCM).
At one point during the race, I asked Leanne why the hell people chose to run marathons? and she said because, it challenges you and shows you what you’re made of. This is so true. That is why I signed up…everytime, to see what I was made of and if I could do it. The marathon distance breaks you if you let it. But when it does, it is all a question of whether you can get back out there and make shit go right at some point. Sunday was a challenge and my mental demons definitely beat me, but I still finished and Leanne’s and my friendship is still intact despite my negative attitude during the second half of the marathon.
Linzie and me, post-marathon
Have you run a marathon? Were you beaten down or did you overcome the mental blocks?