The Battle of Need vs Want

One of my tactics lately on miscellaneous purchases is to make myself wait. If I can hold out for 30 days and the urge to own the item is still pretty strong, then I’ll pull the trigger. This is really hard when you come across something that’s on sale for much cheaper than normal and you’ve somewhat convinced yourself that you “need” it. For example, a pair of $150 heels I’ve been eyeing for several months recently dropped to $90. Great price – I have to buy them, right? Rather than jumping on the deal, I still held back from making the purchase. After two weeks I realized that money would be better spent elsewhere. Like on running shoes a new laptop battery.

Exercising restraint for a few weeks is difficult but I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 the thing I once needed should have actually been classified as a want.

you can't always get what you wantIn February I was caught up in the excitement for the impending lottery openings of a few bigger fall marathons like NYCM and Marine Corps. Reading blogs and being active on Twitter sometimes causes major race envy and this was a standard case. I needed to run a fall marathon! Houston in January 2015 seemed incredibly far away and I wanted to get back to the full marathon distance sooner than that, which had me crunching numbers and scrutinizing my budget looking for a way to finagle a trip to NYC in the fall. I realized if I was diligent about putting every extra dollar aside, I could run the race.

Marine Corps Marathon

 But after taking a step back for a few weeks, I don’t think I really want to. There’s underlying anxiety about being able to finance the trip. The thought of eliminating concerts, dinners out, and any semblance of a social life for the next 8 months in exchange for one ridiculously expensive weekend in NYC just isn’t that appealing. Running NYCM in 2014 is certainly a want, not a need.

Houston Half Marathon Medal

The race I have my heart set on is Houston. It was on the half marathon course earlier this year where the urge to run 26.2 returned. I’m determined and ready to make my comeback. So Houston is where that comeback needs to be! None of my race times are fast enough to qualify for guaranteed entry so I’ll be entering through the lottery once again. And if I don’t get in, there’s always the possibility of running for a charity. But I’ll cross that road when I come to it.

So that’s that. I NEED to run Houston. [and Houston NEEDS to let me in!]

What’s your current “need vs want” battle? 

 

 

The Comeback Kid … Maybe

The Marine Corps Marathon in 2011 was my first marathon and probably my absolute favorite race to date. I had no expectations for a finish time so it was simply about finishing the race and having fun out on the course. My DNF at the NJ Marathon in 2012 was humbling and downright depressing. Torn between swearing off the 26.2 distance and pulling the trigger on a redemption race, the registration bug got me and I was in for Philly that fall. Training started off really well but halfway through I was feeling burnt out and even the thought of running long was daunting. I half-assed training in the back half and it showed one million percent in miles 13-26 along Kelly Drive. And that was it, I swore off marathons until I got my shit together. I even went and put this bold statement out there: I would like my half PR to be under 2 hours before registering for another full marathon. Yeah, I’m not there yet. Might have even backpedaled and became slower in the process. [<— that takes talent] But I did follow it up with this: I’m shelving the 26.2 distance until 2014. Technically I left myself a loophole to make my comeback this year.

Not exactly sure what to do at this point. Do I continue focusing on getting faster for 13.1 or do I go for the gold by registering for a fall marathon? To make the decision more painful [and annoying] all of my top options are lotteries:

    • I’d love to run Chicago in October with these two and maybe this girl, but I recently [ahem, yesterday] committed to Ragnar Trail Relay Hill Country the following weekend so that’s probably not a good idea.
    • Marine Corps Marathon would be fantastic to experience again but after reviewing my budget for that trip in 2011, it doesn’t seem financially feasible.
    • And finally, the New York City Marathon, which is astronomically priced but has been on my bucket list pretty much since I started running. Although this would probably be the easiest on the wallet as a whole AND I’d be able to spend some time with my family in November.

Okay, it basically boils down to me entering the lottery for NYCM. But … what if I don’t get in? Do I say screw it, I wasn’t meant to run a marathon this year? Do I then enter the lottery for Houston in January 2015? (If I could get into Houston outright this would undoubtedly be my #1 choice for the full.) Or do I resolve to only run half marathons this year?

I don’t know what to do. Please help.

2012 Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

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It’s hard to believe last weekend I completed my second marathon. It wasn’t the picture-perfect race I envisioned, where I’d cross the finish line with a huge PR feeling like a million bucks. In fact, if you can believe it, I actually finished slower than my first marathon. My training runs weren’t as fast as I’d hoped. Work was kicking my ass in the weeks leading up to the race, leaving me drained and wanting nothing but to be in bed as early as possible. I abandoned all pace goals for Philly and decided to simply focus on finishing. Also, on the Tuesday before the race I came down with a sore throat, cough, and a cold. Of course I did. I armed myself with Vitamin C, cough drops, and enough meds for an army in an attempt to stop the illness in its tracks. Unfortunately, the illness carried right through race day.


Sunday morning Brad and I met up with Shannon, Ashley, Ritsa, and Kara in the lobby of my hotel. I was oddly calm despite the fact I was about to, you know, run a marathon.

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We made the mile trek to the start line, talking about the race and trying to keep warm. Once we arrived at Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum it started to feel a little bit more real. Ritsa and Kara were running the half, Shannon and I were running the full, Ashley had plans to be the World’s Best Spectator (and she was!)

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Ashley, Shannon and I

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And my race shirt:

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The race officially started at 7am but since our corral was a little further back, we didn’t cross the starting line until nearly 7:30. The first few miles were fairly congested but once everyone settled into their pace it seemed to space out a bit. I was fueling with Honey Stinger chews, which I had used religiously throughout training. Unfortunately that morning my stomach decided it didn’t like them. I knew there would be Clif Shots in the later miles but it wouldn’t have been smart to go without until that point. So every 30 minutes I ate 2-3 chews.

Around mile 7 (after several miles of trying to talk myself out of it) (and pleading with Shannon not to kill me for having to stop) I decided to make a pitstop. The portopotty lines were ridiculously long so I took my chances on a Starbucks bathroom. Thankfully the women already in line ushered me to the front since they knew I had a race to get back to – so nice of them! Shannon and I were on our way very quickly afterwards.

My stomach felt a bit better but my legs were already feeling heavy. Great feeling to have when you aren’t even halfway into your race. My walk breaks became more frequent and I continued fueling as planned, hoping the sugar & carbs would keep me moving. Shannon was trucking along in front of me, killing it – feeling GREAT! I was so proud of her. I felt like I was holding her back but she insisted she wasn’t going to leave me. So thankful for her – she definitely saved me.

As we neared the halfway point, I heard the crowds cheering. Half-marathoners filtered out as they made their way to the finish. I really hated how close we had to run to the finish line. But not as much as I hated the miles I was about to run…

Miles 13-17 were hard, but I was going to see my family at mile 17 so that kept me moving. Shannon was still a bit in front of me, basically my carrot, pulling me through the miles. On a walk break, I texted Brad to let him know I wanted him to jump in at mile 17. Shannon and I discussed that she was going to push ahead and meet a friend at mile 20, and then we’d meet back up again at mile 23. I was so happy that she was going to run ahead because she was doing SO well – she needed to keep going and not worry about me.

The graceful water bottle swap for fresh Nuun at mile 17:

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Why yes, I DID wear sparkly leg warmers.

Brad handed his jacket to my parents and jumped in with me to tackle a few miles.

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Brad was smiling. I’m pretty sure I was not.

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Had I done a bit more thorough research on the course for Philly, I would have noticed miles 13-26 were an out-and-back. I absolutely LOATHE out-and-backs.

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When you’re heading out at mile 13, watching runners hauling ass to the finish near mile 26 is brutal. And then you continue to watch those faster runners all the way to the turnaround in Manayunk. So tough. Mentally it tore me apart. Thankfully I had Brad with me, who listened as I rehashed the first half of the race. Around mile 21 I realized my phone was vibrating. I had a text from Shannon, saying she couldn’t stop at 23 or she might not be able to finish the race. I completely understood (I even mentioned to Brad a few miles back that I wasn’t sure how she was going to stop and wait for me, because it would be tough to start running again) and wished her luck. Go check out her race recap – she did amazing!!

I was going to drop Brad back off at mile 22 with my parents but he offered to stick with me until 23 and then I’d fly solo to the finish.IMG_0209

Could have been a good shot, if Brad wasn’t blocking my face.

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I was trying to fuel but my stomach didn’t want the Honey Stinger chews and it wasn’t a fan of the Clif Shots either. I tried sipping Gatorade instead of Nuun at water stops for the extra calories but (unsurprisingly) my stomach couldn’t handle the way-too-sweet Gatorade. I’m pretty sure miles 20-26 were 90% walking and 10% running shuffling. Every time I tried to run, I could hardly lift my legs off the ground. I had hit the wall at mile 18 (WAY too early) and every step after that was a struggle.

The last three miles were quiet, lonely, cold, and LONG (18:21, 19:51, 20:23 – NOT an exaggeration). I wanted so badly to be done, to see the finish line, to sit down. Once I came up on mile 26, I saw Shannon + her boyfriend, Ashley, and Kara screaming their heads off for me. They gave me the push I needed to start running again. Ashley jumped in with me for a minute, telling me to keep running and haul ass to the finish. So I did. Heel strike and all.

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yup, didn’t buy that photo. stolen.

I got my medal, a heat sheet, and quickly made my way out of the finisher’s chute.

I’ve never been so happy to finish a race.

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It wasn’t the race I hoped for – not even close. I’ve decided I’m going to hang up my 26.2 shoes for awhile. Ideally until 2014, but knowing myself I probably won’t be able to hold off for that long. I want to not dread 3+ hour training runs. I want to focus on running faster in shorter distances. I want to PR in the 10K and half marathon. I’ll certainly have plenty of chances in the spring: 3M, Austin, and ZOOMA.

I don’t want to run races to finish. I want to give them my all – leave everything I’ve got out on the course.

My calendar is full of races and I’m ready to put in the work. I’m ready to push hard. I’m ready to dig deep and run strong.

I’m ready to RUN.

The Art of {not} Racing

Hi my name is Ashley and I blog over at Running Bun. I consider my tiny little space of the internet to be a place where I can write about my fitness activities and how I am feeling (good and bad). When Melissa asked me to guest post, I wanted to simply share the feelings I have had lately.


I was injured during the past 5 weeks, and I spoke about it relatively frequently on my blog. My feelings about the situation changed every 10 minutes! It was a disaster. One moment I was extremely angry over a simple thing like missing my train because I couldn’t even run for it and the next moment I was completely at peace with my situation. Before my foot injury, I was diving right into some tough training for the New York City Marathon. I was on top of my game and nailing paces I never thought I would see on my Garmin! I experienced a runner’s high after every single training run, I felt unstoppable! When I found out I would have to stop running for about 4-5 weeks, I went from unstoppable to dead in my tracks in a single second.

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When I was given the green light to start running (and fully exercising without modification), I fully accepted the fact that I may not be able to run the NYC Marathon in just under 7 weeks. However, this past Monday, I ran. I ran with an empty mind and a heart full of genuine love for the sport. I am no longer angry, feeling sorry for myself and most importantly, I am longer experiencing feelings of self-doubt. I believe I can cross the finish line of this race.

In the past two years I have fallen in love with racing and have become very competitive (especially with myself). I want to give it my all and produce a personal best during each race. Relatively fast feet and a cluttered mind used to get me to the finish line. What’s allowing me to currently reassess my goal (from a speedy-for-me 3:40 to crossing the finish line with a smile on my face) is the fact that running means more to me than competing.

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Running makes me respect my body.
I constantly repeat to myself, “Do I want to run today, or do I want to run forever?” The ability to run for my entire life is what drives me to make healthy choices regarding my diet and rest when my body calls for it. My body is the only thing I will own for my entire life, and injury recovery has helped me learn to pay attention to my its needs.

Running humbles me.
I can’t even come close to holding paces I was running 5 weeks ago. I respect that it will take time to build back up.

Running makes me feel powerful.
My heart and mind are filled with endless amounts of confidence and possibility of my body’s abilities! Training showed me what I was capable of accomplishing. I can (and will) be there again!

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I believe everyone could use some “running” in their lives. It is important to have something that helps build confidence and to love whatever that is enough to return to it after time away, whether from an injury or life in general!

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At some point in the future, when fully healthy and prepared, I will run the NYC Marathon again. I will let my competitive side race! Until then, I fully plan on running on November 4, 2012 and I no longer feel the need to get back to my pre-injury training paces. I plan on enjoying the race and its atmosphere. It will be unforgettable first NYC Marathon experience!

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0 for 2

So last Tuesday Nuun announced the lucky women chosen to run Hood to Coast 2012 on their team.

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Sadly, I didn’t make the cut. But I wasn’t completely surprised. The field was uber competitive and the odds were not stacked in my favor, with my not-over-the-top-creative application and lack of a huge blog following.

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On Wednesday, the lottery results for the ING NYC Marathon were revealed. After refreshing my bank account 4589764 times and desperately stalking the NYRR website for hours on end, the results were in: Not Accepted.


So now what? After my rejection from NYC, I was on the prowl for a rebound marathon. Or a fall race longer than a 10K, for that matter. I had planned on giving See Jane Run another shot but an email received late last week informed us they wouldn’t be back until maybe 2013. So much for that idea.

There’s not a chance in hell I’d run the 26.2 in San Antonio in November, especially with the steamy temps Texas has been experiencing during our fall/winter months. The same goes for the Chosen Marathon in New Braunfels in October. Heat & humidity – no thank you.

After a quick Twitter consultation and a Google search, I found two marathons I deemed worthy of suffering through another training cycle during the 100+ degree summer:

Long Beach Marathon

Philadelphia Marathon

My next potential victim will either be Long Beach on October 6th or the Philly Marathon on November 18th. The price increase hits May 1st for Philly so I’ll be making a decision REAL soon.

Have you run either Long Beach or Philly? Thoughts on which I should choose? Wanna run with me?

NJ Marathon: The Plan of Attack

Well, it’s no secret I’m registered and training for the New Jersey Marathon on May 6, 2012.

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Marine Corps was a phenomenal experience and the best race I’ve run to date. I’ve been back and forth hundreds of times whether or not to run it again in 2012. I know there will be extreme race envy when registration opens in a few weeks and I don’t sign up. That weekend in DC wasn’t exactly easy on the wallet, and the thought of training through a Texas summer again doesn’t sound terribly appealing.

One of my friends suggested I run the New Jersey Marathon, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. I’m looking to shave some serious minutes off of my race time from October, and this flat, fast course is the perfect place to do it.

More importantly, this is essentially a hometown race for me so I’ll get to spend a lot of time with my wonderful family and friends. Also important: Wawa Subs, Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner, and Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches. AND It’ll be Brad’s first time in NJ; he’s already practicing his Jersey Turnpike. Clearly we watch way too much Jersey Shore.

I found this gem when looking for a Jersey Turnpike photo:

Deena Cortese demonstrates the Jersey Turnpike on Ed Helms

You’re welcome. Ed Helms is such a trooper.

Anyway, back to that massive marathon PR I’ve got my eye on. Given my performance at 3M at the end of January, obviously the speed work I’ve been doing is working. As much as mile repeats leave me gasping for air and wondering why I chose running as a ‘hobby’, the results speak for themselves. Speed work + tempo runs + long run = The Return of FIRST Training. I used FIRST for the Marine Corps Marathon, but my speed work and tempo paces weren’t aggressive at all. Welp, they are now.

I present to you, Operation PR in New Jersey.

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Ambitious you say? I concur. This plan definitely has wiggle room, and I don’t doubt there will be some tweaking along the way (I’m looking at you, 11 mile tempo run in week 12!)

The next few months are going to be TOUGH. But you know how you learn to run fast? You train fast. I know I need to push myself and run paces outside my comfort zone. If I don’t test my limits, how will I ever know what I’m capable of?

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Let’s do this.

Post-Marathon Revelations

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It’s officially been one week since marathon day.

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Although I promised nearly everyone around me that once the race was over I’d end my incessant marathon talk, I’m still running my mouth about it. I love reading others’ running and spectating recaps and reliving each moment of the course as they describe it perfectly:

Lauren

Heather

Alyssa

Ericka

Jenn

Sarah

Kandi

Chelsea

Kara

Randy

Amanda

Laura

Stephanie

Megan

Jess

Morgan

Some runners upon crossing the finish line need a few weeks (or months) to let the memory of those tough miles fade away before they even start thinking about their next marathon.

I started thinking about mine a couple hours after I finished.

Marine Corps Marathon was such a learning experience for me. I learned the importance of proper fueling, the power of positive thinking, and the benefits of a successful training cycle. I’ve been thinking of how I’d eat differently (less Gu – more Shot Bloks), run differently (slow down more in the beginning miles) and train differently (add in a 22-23 mile run; focus even more on speedwork).

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I am incredibly thankful I had such an amazing first marathon experience, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Here are a few races I have my eye on for 2012:

New Jersey Marathon – Long Branch, NJ – May 6, 2012

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Marine Corps Marathon – Washington, DC – October 28, 2012

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ING NYC Marathon – New York City, NY – November 4, 2012

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Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon – San Antonio, TX – November 11, 2012

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I definitely am interested in running NJ since I’ll be able to visit my family and friends while I’m in town. Not to mention the fact I won’t have to train through the brutal Texas summer heat.

I’m not ruling out a double marathon year either. One spring, one fall? It’s not impossible. I think if I choose to run NJ, I may try San Antonio for the fall marathon since it would be more cost effective than traveling to the other two. Not to mention that the lottery could keep me out of NYC.

But I’d really love to run Marine Corps again. Seriously, I cannot get over how amazing the course, Marines, and spectators were.

Ahh I don’t know! So many choices…

2011 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

I think I only slept for an hour total the night before the marathon. I was so nervous and excited and anxious that my mind would not stop racing long enough for me to get some solid shut-eye.

Brad and I discussed his spectating game plan before finally deciding to get our morning started around 4:30am. He went straight to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast and I began getting ready.

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The temperature was a brisk 30 degrees so I went with a t-shirt, the longest capris I owned, a throwaway sweatshirt and pair of gloves. I think even if I had added a pair of throwaway sweatpants, it still wouldn’t have been enough to keep me warm. Hello, I came from Texas – it was 82 there!

I ate a bagel and drank a bottle of Nuun while I double and triple-checked to make sure I had everything. We skipped making coffee in the room because they were supposed to have a few carafes set up in the lobby by 6am. Unfortunately, the security guard misinformed us and it wouldn’t be ready until 7. It wasn’t important enough to hang around for, so Brad and I headed out on the cold trek to the starting line.

In the hours leading up to the race, the only thing I was really focused on was how cold I was. Thankfully this helped to keep my mind off the fact I was about to embark on my first marathon. Brad stayed with me for about an hour, heading back to the hotel around 7:30. I strategically placed myself behind the exhaust pipe of an MCM Straggler bus to keep my legs warm.

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Also, I bought the whole damn CD of photos from the race so I don’t feel a tiny bit guilty jacking these pics from Marathonfoto until I get the real ones in the mail.

At 7:45 I headed into the 5:30-5:59 corral. My only goal for this race was to cross that finish line in an upright position. This, however, did not stop me from grabbing a 5:30 pace bracelet at the expo on Friday and slapping it on my wrist Sunday morning. It was an attainable pace, and it never hurts to have an ‘A’ goal.

The opening ceremony was incredible:

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Yes, that’s Drew Carey with the starting gun. It was his first marathon too!

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All photos courtesy of marinemarathon.com

And we were off!

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Once I crossed that starting mat, I was overwhelmed with emotion – I am running a marathon! The race was a culmination of all the hard work and dedication I had put in over the past 4 months. A huge smile spread across my face.

The crowd support was phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like it (firsthand) in a race. Sure, Austin has it’s fair share of spectators, but nothing like this. I fed off the crowds infectious energy for several miles.

The first 7.5 miles included a few hills:

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We started in Arlington, then ran through Rosslyn, Clarendon, and across Key Bridge into Georgetown. The beginning miles ticked away like they were nothing. Every time I glanced down at my Garmin it was about to switch over to the next mile. Time was flying by. Every mile split was within 10 seconds of what it should have been for a 5:30 finish, and felt effortless.

At mile 4, I was finally starting to warm up so I tossed my sweatshirt. At mile 8, I tossed the gloves. And at mile 9, I made my first (of many) stop at a portopotty. I didn’t feel like I was hydrating too much, but clearly I had to have been.

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After the stop, I was about 1:20 minutes off of my pace. I didn’t stress over it though – that’s not what this race was about. Just after mile 9 they were handing out orange slices. Somehow I managed to grab one from the Marine, peel it with one hand, and devour it mid-run.

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Based on the plan Brad and I had discussed, the first place I would come across him and my family would be between mile 10 and 11. Sure enough, just around the corner there they were!

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My sister was in charge of being paparazzi for the race, and she did an awesome job! Now if only I could hire her for all of my races…

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And there I go!

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I continued on to Hains Point. I recalled countless race recaps and training runs on DC natives’ blogs which referenced this out and back trek. None were positive, and I mentally prepared myself for it.

Honestly? It wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. This probably had a lot to do with how gorgeous the weather was. I took in the sights and enjoyed the beautiful views. Just past the 20k mark was the second food stop, and I grabbed a chocolate Clif Shot.

When I hit the timing mat at the halfway point, the “oh my god I’m running a marathon” feeling hit me again. And I felt great.

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The members of my awesome spectating family planned on setting up camp at mile 15, so I kept my eyes peeled for them.

Apparently I flew by too quickly!

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As I came up on Tidal Basin bridge, I came across the most memorable sign I saw during the race:

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I laughed out loud when I saw it, and when I ran by someone yelled “Go Melissa!” (By the way, putting my name on my shirt was a great idea – I definitely recommend it!) Every time someone encouraged me along the way during the race, I made sure to wave and thank them. When I turned to thank her, I realized it was Megan from MegaNerdRuns! Thank you Megan and Jess for coming out to support the runnersspectators make all the difference!

Around mile 16 I made another bathroom stop, and this one cost me nearly nine minutes. There were only three portopotties, and the lines were a mix of runners and spectators. Again, I wasn’t worried about the time so it didn’t make me too anxious to have to wait.

My cheering brigade was now stationed at mile 17 waiting for me. I don’t know what I would have done without them; they gave me something to look forward to every few miles!

Mile 17 – still going strong:

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And still smiling!

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My family headed to hang out near mile 20 to wait for me, and I made my way down Madison towards the Capitol building.

I started taking frequent walk breaks after mile 18. I tried to tell myself it would hurt just as bad to run as it would to walk, and if I ran I would be done quicker. But the only thing my brain could process was that I was less than two miles away from that damn bridge and I was going to beat it.

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There were so many photographers lined up down this stretch. They positioned themselves on the ground in the center of the road about 6-7 feet from each other. I was so paranoid I was going to end up tripping over one of them!

Somewhere around the 19 mile marker I grabbed a packet of Sports Beans from the third food station. I don’t think I would have been able to choke down another Gu if I tried, so I was thankful for something different.

Once I made the left onto 14th Street, I spotted my family! Brad had been holding onto a pack of Shot Bloks for me so I slowed to a halt to grab them and tuck them into my handheld.

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Nice face. I must have just remembered I still had more than a 10k to go:

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Stretching out my back before I take on the bridge

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Ah. So let’s talk about that bridge, shall we? Once I crossed the 20 mile marker, my mind registered that point as the finish line. Before I knew what was happening, I was walking. I tried to pick up the pace but I felt I was running slower than I had been walking.

The 14th Street bridge took FOR-EV-ER. I had heard for many months about how I needed to “Beat the Bridge” but I had never realized how long the damn thing was. Long, as in, we passed the mile 21 marker while STILL ON THE BRIDGE. I graciously accepted a package of Skittles from a spectator and inhaled them. The spectators on this stretch were few and far between but I appreciated each and every one of them.

I flipped through my playlist and finally came to a song that got my legs moving faster than a snails pace. I powerwalked the uphills and ran the downhills. After what seemed like thirty minutes (and it very well could have been), I arrived in Crystal City. The homestretch! Ha – not quite.

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I grabbed a chocolate munchkin at the fourth and final food stop. It tasted like a little piece of heaven.

Brad jumped in with me as I came up on mile 22.

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I had heard a lot of good things about Crystal City, but I wasn’t that impressed. Having to watch the runners coming back in the other direction KILLED me. Out-and-backs like that mess with my head. All I kept thinking was “where is the turnaround?!” I knew Morgan would be in Crystal City with her sparkly silver pants but unfortunately I never saw her. I think I was in my own little world at that point.

At mile 23, I said goodbye to Brad. And to my water bottle. I knew there would be two more water stops and really didn’t feel like carrying it anymore. Honestly I’m surprised I didn’t ditch it sooner.

Stretching my quads before heading out to tackle the final three:

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More stretching…

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Then I hit the road again to finish up the race! To give you an idea of how much I had slowed down, it took me 20 minutes longer to finish the last 5k than it did the first. Those miles were ROUGH.

I do NOT look happy

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But I managed to slap on a weak smile for this photographer:

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I spent most of the last miles reflecting on how far I had come in just over a year as a runner. It’s hard to believe that I finished my first half marathon last October, and I was in the midst of finishing a marathon. My thoughts were nothing but positive, and not once during the race did I think I wouldn’t finish. My legs were going to fight me until the end, but my heart was in it 100%.

Once I passed the mile 26 marker, I kicked it into high gear and headed towards the finish. The uphill finish. I contemplating slowing to a walk, at least until the top of the hill where it turned towards the finisher’s chute, but the Marines lining both sides of the hill were yelling to stay strong and keep moving.

So I did.

finish-chute

As I neared the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial, a huge smile appeared on my face and I threw both arms up in the air

finish-line

And as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, I received high fives from two Marines at once. Amazing.

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I finished in 6:16:07. I know, it’s not the fastest time. Could I have pushed myself harder? Yes. But I didn’t want to hate my first marathon and swear them off forever. I enjoyed every single moment (even those last 6.2 miles) of that race, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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finish

I am a marathoner!