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Monday, October 30, 2006

31st Marine Corps Marathon

Well, first of all, I did it. A quick summary is that I had no blister problems, no knee problems, no real foot problems. For the most part, pysically I held up well. However, I had basically a mental breakdown. That was my problem.

Before the Race
We were to meet at 7:45am at UPS Truck #30 in the Pentagon North Parking lot. Late, as usual, I didn't even leave the hotel until 7:35 and it was not the short stroll down there that I thought it was. Down a hill, past the Iwo Jima Memorial, past the start line, through thousands of people and then maybe another 1/4 mile later, we didn't reach the spot until 8:20 or so. No one was there. The start of the race (for our wave) was at 8:40... I was wearing a long-sleeve Brooks shirt, with my Fleet Feet Singlet over it, and black shorts, plus some long warm-up pants purchased at Wal Mart the day before, and a sweatshirt ($5!) also purchased at Wal Mart. At the UPS Truck, I ditched the pants, and I decided not to wear my gloves that I had brought.

Walking back towards the starting line, I got a call from Kristy and we easily found her, Dianne, SueW and Sue's Brother Mike. Todd headed off to head farther forward in the crowd. We stood for a while and I started to panic that my sport shield had rubbed off when I was wearing the pants. Sue had some BodyGlide and I put it on, but then started to panic that I had never used BodyGlide and that I would have some sort of difficulty for trying something new. We were held up for 30 minutes because someone in the first wave had had a heart attack right after the start. I ditched the sweatshirt at the last minute and we were off at 9:02.

Miles 1-10
As always, taking that first walk break after 2 minutes was difficult. It's especially hard to start walking so early with so many spectators. I was in a great mood. Things were going well, we finished the first 2 miles in 13 minutes or so each. That was right on track (actually, 30 seconds faster than Kristy had wanted to go). Things were hilly at the start and in mile 3 we lost Dianne.

I was cheering with the spectators, slapping hands of the kids that were out on the course. Men were off peeing in the woods... Kristy: Don't look left!! Men peeing!! Kim: Screw that, they're not even going far up there, I'm going to take a picture! (I didn't take a picture, btw). Speaking of my camera, I had to hold it because my water belt pouches were so full of gels. I finally could put it away after I ate a gu at mile 3.

I was hot enough after those first few miles that I had to take off my headband, which I had worn because of wind warnings, I didn't want to get a migraine from the wind. I put it around my wrist, there was no where else to put it. The next few miles went through some wooded areas, which was gorgeous. Miles were ticking by fast, we were all in great spirits, things were going really well. We crossed a bridge into Georgetown and things were still good. I'd heard from my mom and she said they'd made it downtown.

After Georgetown, at about mile 5/6, we headed back into Rock Creek Park. The course doubled back through here, so we could see other marathoners coming from the other direction. Suddenly, there was Todd. He slapped my hand and smiled and said he was "on top of the world." Which was good, because I worry. Somewhere around there, I took off the long sleeve and tied it around my waist. We also passed Heidi, Jess, and a couple other Fleet Feet people there. Coming back, we saw Dianne and she was still holding up well.

Somewhere around mile 9, we saw Rose and Kim from Fleet Feet cheering us on, and they gave us gummy life savers, which I shared with Mike. Mike and I were mostly running ahead with Kristy and Sue behind us. We went under the Kennedy Center and turned up past the Lincoln Memorial to head towards The Mall. Things felt great, I was doing awesome. I could not have been better. I knew I was heading towards my family and the rest of the Fleet Feet folks, so I was excited.

Miles 11-20
Coming up into The Mall was awesome. Lots of high school bands had come out to play and there were tons of spectators. I was taking lots of pictures (I'm really glad I got that camera!) and I was getting a couple updates to my phone (via text message) about where other people were on the course. I rounded the corner to head down past the museums at the mile 11 mile marker and there were Davida, Debbie and ErikaW. I ran over and gave Debbie my long sleeved shirt and my headband, which I was happy to be rid of. I said hi for a second and continued on, my family was only about 50 or 60 yards ahead.

I practically skipped over to them. It was my Dad, Emma, Shelly, my mom, Bo and Vic. I was feeling great and I was happy that they were there. My mom got a picture with me and I could only talk to them for a second. I turned the corner that was there and then I saw that Kristy, Sue and Mike had stopped at the potties right around the corner. We stood in line (I did have to go, but I could have waited) and my Dad and Emma came over and we talked for a few minutes. I would say about 6 or 7 minutes passed and the line hadn't moved at all. I was getting nervous and Mike and I decided to leave Sue and Kristy behind.

We continued on and I saw some people holding up signs that said "Yay Kim!" and I didn't think anything of it - they weren't the first group of people that I'd seen along the way cheering on a Kim. Getting closer, I saw they were getting really excited, and I realized it was NickF, Mary, WN, Dustin and Jenny. I was too behind on that mile from the potty break, so I couldn't do anything but wave and say hi.

At the next group of potties, the line was shorter and Mike and I got in quickly. I gave my water belt to a nice Marine standing nearby to hold while I went inside. Kristy and Sue caught up with us as we came out of the potties. On we went, around past the Capitol building. Kristy and Sue wanted to slow down and I was definitely starting to feel tired. We passed over the half marathon mark and I ran ahead because I knew my family had crossed over The Mall to the other side and I would see them soon.

There was Shelly, my mom and Vic and as I stopped Mike ran ahead. I stayed with my family long enough to talk for a minute or two, and then along came Sue and Kristy. I joined back up with them, but Sue's leg was cramping. Mike didn't seem too far ahead, so I went to catch up with him and Kristy stayed with Sue. Sadly, I didn't see Mike again until the finish line.

I've run alone a million times. No problem, right? Well, by mile marker 15, I was starting to feel terrible. I can't say that anything was hurting, I was just worn out mentally and for some reason didn't feel like I could go on. I had nothing to look forward to, my family had told me that they were headed home. I'd already seen the UMBC people and the Fleet Feet People. At that point, I only was looking towards the finish line and that was still 11 miles away. I started text messaging. I text messaged Todd and Joanna. I was lonely, tired and mentally having major issues. I was keeping ok pace, but I was discouraged by the wasted time back on The Mall.

And then we headed into Haines Point. This is 3 miles of being alone. No spectators to speak of, relatively boring terrain (except the little bit of view out onto the Potomac), rough winds. I decided to pee and stopped at a block of potties with no line and nearly vomited inside at the nastiness. I headed on.

I cannot describe the horrific mental stress I was going through while I was on Haines Point. This was the point where I honestly thought I wasn't going to finish and I honestly didn't care. I considered laying down in the grass for a while. I don't even know what kept me going. I could have thought about finishing, but finishing seemed so far away. Somewhere just before mile 19, I heard my name and turned and saw Kristy. One would think I would have been ecstatic, but I was so far gone that I waved and turned around and kept running (although slower, so she could catch me).

She joined up with me and I was worried she was going to push me faster than I could handle. Kristy passing me was more than I could take. But, she didn't. We trudged on to the 20 mile marker and the bridge and I found she was feeling nearly as bad as I was. She had left Sue out of fear of not making it to the bridge (we had to get to the 20 mile marker by 2pm). We turned a corner to head up the ramp to the 14th street bridge and there was Kim and Rose cheering us on, but it wasn't enough to lift my spirits. Past mile 20, we were on the bridge. We could theoretically walk it in from there.

Miles 20-26
Yikes, the bridge was windy. I was sorry I'd given Debbie my long sleeved shirt. It hadn't occured to me that I'd be out so long that it would start cooling down again. Right at the beginning, I got a text message that Todd had finished. He sent me his own text message a short time after, which I really needed. My mom and Sharon had called, but I'd been in no mood to talk. I responded to Todd that I needed a bullet in the head. That bridge was, I swear to God, the longest bridge ever. At mile 22, we finally were headed back into something halfway exciting, which was Crystal City.

Kristy stopped to pee and I waited. I was not letting her get away from me. We had switched to 1 and 1s on the bridge and then we had walked for about 8 minutes straight. After the potty break, we decided to switch to one minute of running and two minutes of walking. It was hard to start running again after the long walk break, but we did it and after a couple intervals, we were starting to recover and were feeling better. The course was doubling back again and we were passed on the other side by Kathy and Vip.

As we headed through Crystal City, Kristy said "Hey, those people's sign says Kim!" and I saw it was Jenny, NickF, Mary and Dustin. I could not have been happier to see people I knew. I needed encouragement so bad. We were walking in 20 seconds, so the gang joined up with us and walked with us. They were asking me how I was feeling and said that we looked better than some others that they had seen along the way. After two minutes, Kristy and I started running again and we waved goodbye to the gang. There was music again and I was feeling so much better. My spirits were really lifted.

We turned around and there was a Cold Stone Creamery. I really strongly considered stopping. I didn't realize until later that night that I didn't have any money. We were wondering about Dianne and if she beat the bridge, but we hadn't heard from her. Kristy started calling Dianne's husband to find out, but didn't get through. We were watching for her, but we didn't see her. Back through mile 23 in Crystal City, we saw the gang again and waved and contiunued on.

As we passed mile 24, Kristy heard from Dianne's husband. Dianne had beaten the bridge!!!! I sent Todd a text message to let him know. We trucked on, doing 1 and 2s. Past the Pentagon. Kristy's blisters were killing her, I was doing ok. At mile 25, some medical folks gave me crackers that I swear to God were the best crackers ever. Passing past where the starting line had been, we saw Debbie, ErikaW and Davida again. "How are you doing??" one of them said, and Kristy responded "I just ran 25 miles, I don't know..." The 26th mile marker was right ahead. The last .2 was straight uphill. We agreed to run at mile marker 26.

The Finish
And we did. We ran. Nearing the top of the hill, Kristy couldn't do it and told me to go on, which I did. There were bleachers and up there were the UMBC gang and I saw Mike and his wife waving and calling my name. There was an annoying big group that I decided I wanted to finish ahead of. So, I sprinted. I don't know where the energy came from for that. I ran out of gas about 10 feet before the finish, so I really was just jogging over the mat at the finish. And then for a spit second, I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to stop running... It was weird. I stood for a second and looked around, I was looking for anyone I knew, but I didn't see anyone.

I headed up to the corrals and a Marine put a medal around my neck and I was crying. Then, I just stood. Where was everyone? Then, I saw Kristy and she said she wanted to wait for Dianne. There was a blur. I stayed in one spot, but I was getting text messages like crazy and Sharon called and Todd called and my Mom called and NickF called. I met up with the gang and Todd told me he was on his way back to the start. I stood and talked to the gang for a while, finally found Todd, got my picture taken with a marine. Mary gave me a sweatshirt because it was cold.

Dianne crossed the finish line and she was crying and we were all so proud of her. ErikaW, Davida and Debbie appeared from somewhere and we all got pictures. And we headed back to the hotel.

I stayed overnight. I took a shower and I was really not as bad as I expected to be, soreness-wise. I called my mom and then had dinner at some steakhouse. I weirdly fell asleep at 8pm and then woke up wide awake at 11pm. I took a TylonolPM and finally slept at 1am, and drove home this morning. And, here I am.

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