MCM-Lessons learned

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MCM-Lessons learned


First, I must say I rarely write race reports, just when they have meaning.  This report is special to me.  It was filled with lots of learning lessons which I would love to share.

Clif note version:  Races are just more special and meaningful when experienced with friends.  

Long version for those who want to settle in.  Go pee first, pour yourself a glass of your pleasure, and prepare, it is going to be long...

Marine Corps Marathon is NOT on my bucket list.  I don't know why I signed up to tell you the absolute truth. I have done it before.  It is NOT my favorite course.  I felt like I won the lottery by getting in as it closed in less than an hour and next year will go to a lottery for registration. Again, very weird because I really didn't care and I figured it was only $99 dollars and I got in without a hassle (I heard of the registration problems with Active after but I did not have any issues).  It turns out that my youngest daughter decided to move to Virginia sometime after registration.  This became more of an excuse to go see her.

I started training with the Hansons beginner plan in June.  I had not run in almost a year (I did Big Sur 21 miler with no running since last Big Sur in April 2012) but that plus 2 5k's was the extent of my running in 12 months. I had started with a trainer, who had me do something stupid on the treadmill causing bilateral 2nd degree friction burns to both my knees and shins. Old ladies should not jump on moving treadmills, at least not on Day 1 of a marathon training plan.  3 weeks of 3x/day dressing changes, I excitedly carried out the Hansons plan as it quickly moved through base mileage of 10mpw to 24 mpw in week 5.  My hip decided it was too much too soon and it had had enough.  It would not allow me to bring my leg forward without 10/10 pain when I tried to run.  It was sore with walking but I had no issues really with walking, just forward motion with impact.  At first they thought it was a TFL strain, and then after 4 weeks of PT and getting worse they ruled out a stress fracture, and settled on a trifecta of TFL strain, bursitis, all caused from my glute med which had stopped firing completely.  No one really knows why.  It is like it doesn't exist.  I think it ran away because I worked it too hard when it was getting so comfortable with my couch potato lifestyle.  So since July, I threw myself a self pity party and just went to my 2x/week PT, and told myself that if I couldn't run, I didn't want to do anything.  Boo hoo poor me.  I don't like that side of me.  #1 lesson: if you don't like something about yourself, change it.  Simple.

Through lots of discussions and mind-changes (DNS, 10k, DNF, or DFL or be okay with being pulled at the bridge), I decided, against medial advice from my PT (but she is a runner with a stress fx right now so she totally understood), Cathy S's evil eye, and Argenta's scolding, that I would run the marathon with the intention of stopping if my hip started to hurt at all.  I have never gone into a race, off the couch completely, and with the intention of a DNF.  I decided I would run:walk and try for the 14 min/mile pace to beat the gauntlet and bridge.  Roxanne was a total lifesaver and let me borrow her gymboss as it seems every store that sells them was out after the Detroit marathon and they were back ordered.  

Getting to DC started on a very small plane, next to a guy from Yemen, who refused to turn his cell phone off the entire flight and was texting in Arabic the entire time.  His phone beeped constantly and the stewardess didn't notice as he hid it when she came to look for the noise several times.  I learned what most of you probably know about me, that I am an extreme rule follower.  It is part of my job, as a researcher to do things the right way, in the right order.  My whole job revolves around protection and integrity.  Lesson #2: Accept what I can't control.  Obviously we landed safely and the plane's computers did not freak out with the transmission from his cell phone.  Okay.  I lived. Now, on to DC.

My daughter met me on Thursday and we were able to spend lots of time together.  That was very nice, a little stressful but nice. I had not seen her since June and before June, a day had not gone past in her life that I did not speak to her.  I had lots of lessons in letting go last year.  I am still working on that.  I is hard to turn off that mother-gene.  Lesson #3: Let go of expectations (this will be important later also)

The expo was a mad house.  We spent 45 minutes in packet pick-up lines and then another 30 minutes through security into the expo to get the race shirt, then another 30 minutes in line to pay for the jacket I had to have.  After the expo, and with the help of YPOM's facebook page, Jaye was able to remember the awesome burger place that we went to when we did this in 2011, Good Stuff Eatery.  It was actually the highlight of my trip, mostly because I remember getting lost on the way there in 2011 and Mike F. having to find us and lead the way, plus we got to spend time with amazing friends. It sort of felt like the pub, but in another state.  :)   We went back again on Saturday.  I felt close to all of you when we were there.  I know, weird, right.  

Now the actual race report, if any of you are still with me.  

Got up at 5:30am and went to lobby for coffee in my pj's.  There was a big group of TnT in the lobby, dressed and just leaving.  I asked them if they were going to the 10k and they said the marathon.  The start was 7:55am. They were headed to the Rosslyn metro to take it to the Pentagon, WRONG!!!  I told them that you just walk down the street about 0.75 miles and you are there.  Charity hill is only 0.25 miles from the hotel.  They didn't believe me.  I don't know what they ended up doing but I hope they saw all the salmon swimming upstream as they walked downstream to the metro.  I left my hotel room at 6:45am.  It was a beautiful morning, about 45 degrees, perfect!! The walk to the start goes down what I call, haunted hill.  It is still dark out and all you can see are the gravestones at Arlington Cemetary on the right.  Makes you realize what the MCM is all about.  So many people running for soldiers who have fallen, really makes you centered for this as an event to honor more so than a race.  Argenta told me to high five Marines, so I followed Sarge's orders.  I made it a point to thank each one I saw for their service and got the same response from each (at least 200 throughout the day), "it is my pleasure, ma'am".   The parachute drop during the national anthem consisted of the world's largest American flag, with each star 5 1/2 feet tall.   It was incredible.    

7:55am- Horwitzer fired, race started.  I actually didn't start for another 25 minutes or so.  I was standing with lady who was 66 and this was her 12th MCM.  She was local.  She said she doesn't train anymore, too fatiguing.  She just runs daily and throws in 4 long runs of 20 miles/year.  She claimed she was to old to run for time.  She started running in 1987 and found out she was real good at it. She has done all local races and never been out of the state of Virginia for a race eventhough she has qualified for Boston several times.  She just likes running.  She won my heart....and we were off.

My running 1:1's started off good. Hard but good.  I definitely have lost a ton of fitness. I fought hard to make that 14 min/mile pace but I was doing it and then mile 8 my hip decided to start hurting and stop working.  I texted my husband and daughter who were stalking me and told them I was done.  My daughter told me to keep walking.  I told my self I would find a metro.  I had money with me so it would be easy to jump on.  I kept walking and did some running and all of a sudden I was at mile 10. I texted my neighbor and told her I was hurting and she told me to be smart.  I was still looking for a metro but we were in a park, no metro.  Then came the blue mile, the mile lined with faces and names on signs of all the fallen soldiers that everyone was running for.  I started to cry and then realized I couldn't quit, no matter how much it hurt.  The only way I was going off that course was to be pulled off.  I planned the pull off at the bridge. I knew that I was not going to make the cut off walking.  I ran a little, just to make it look good but no one near me was running at all so I didn't have any incentive to run and be in pain.  I figured I would walk until the bus at the bridge.  I came to the gauntlet at mile 17.  I didn't really understand the instructions about the gauntlet but they said that the gauntlet closes at 4 hours after last runner starts.  Apparently that was 12:30pm.  I was not allowed to run (walk) on the National Mall.  I was redirected to skip that part and then I could still make the bridge and finish.  WTF???? I was confused, so I stopped to ask, after the bridge.  I explained to the Marine that I was not allowed to run the 3 miles on the Mall but was told to go straight to the bridge.  He verified that was procedure.  They were not allowed to let people on to the Mall after 12:30pm, "this way you could beat the bridge, finish, and still get a medal".  NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!  Remember, I am a rule follower.  So what they told me was if you don't make the gauntlet cut off, you can still finish and get a time as if you ran all 26.2, but if you made the gauntlet and missed the bridge cut off, you were done.  NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!   So running on the most boring ugly part of the course, I went into bitch/beast mode.  I started running 0.25 miles backward at each mile marker.  I lied to Marines and would tell each one of them and many inquiring runners, as to why I was running the wrong direction, that I was looking for a friend that I was separated from.  I was going to make up those 3 miles on the course before I EVER accept a medal for doing a marathon.  I passed by many people who also were rerouted and I actually was a little disgusted that they were okay with finishing 3 miles short and still saying they had done a marathon. RULES people RULES!!!  Cathy S. taught me during a Bastille Day race all about the reasons to finish dead last.  You can't quit when you are dead last because by finishing last, you let someone else finish not last.  I was not taking a time or a place from someone who did 26.2.  

By mile 25, I was on track again.  I started running down a hill and ran into some famous Marathon Maniacs, who are known for encouraging people at the back of the pack.  Louie, Dave, Mary and I, became fast friends and took several pictures on that last mile.  They were the friends I must've been looking for by running backwards, I just didn't know it.  I wasn't lying to the Marines, I was just predicting.

We finished at 7:01 on the clock.  6:39 on my garmin.  They were out of medals AND beer!! All that not accepting a medal stuff seemed a little futile at that point. I learned another lesson. Lesson #(who knows, I lost track and doubt that any of you are still reading any way): Respect!   Respect your body and where it is at.  You can't compare to where you used to be. Respect your values and don't judge the values of others.  Each of those people that finished short of a marathon still finished more than most, and most of them were not going to finish because they would've missed the bridge.  The MCM tries to get everyone a medal, after all no matter 23 or 26.2 miles, we are still honoring those who have given their lives.  This was a run/walk of honor and I am so glad that events happened to make me see it through to the end.  

Last lesson: Running with friends is the best!!  I love each and every one of you. I was so blessed to carry my phone and be able to text people when I was hurting and see Paul stalking me and get texts from Veronica.  Sue sent me an email  and Anne sent texts the day before that I re-read when I was feeling lonely.     You were all with me in spirit, and I ran with all of you in my heart!!  
Half Fanatic #703
Marathon Maniac #4451