Chris and I were able to get away to a great hotel right off the Metro Stop that we needed to take to the start of the race. After hitting the runner’s expo and meeting some neat people we checked into our "resort" and relaxed for a bit (a bunch of Biggest Loser runners were in this race because of what it was – the National race - AND I met a team of runners whose main goal was to raise money for melanoma research – that’s why I was running!).
My hubby took me out to a very nice carb-filled pre race pasta dinner (increases the glycemic index – yes, there is a real reason you carbo load the week leading up to a big race) and as a “celebration” of signing our half of the closing papers. :)
Yuppers – that’s the start, and miracle of all miracles, I am smiling – and awake. This picture was taken before the start (obviously) at 6:40. At this point I had been awake for an hour and 10 minutes and was feeling peppy. Honestly, that alone is a true miracle from heaven itself – I am not, repeating, NOT a morning person. I think it helped that we had lights out by 8:30 on Friday night.
The start line “line” was to our estimate between 3/4 and a mile long. I hopped in my corral (yes, they corral you like cattle according to your qualification time.). The sun was beginning to rise over RFK stadium as we lined up for the start.
Right after this, my wonderful husband left my side and headed to the Metro to his first race stop.
This was a chip-timed race, the chip was actually imbedded into my race bib. One of the first in the country to not have to attach an extra chip timer elsewhere (like your shoe) on your body. What this means is that my actual time didn’t start when the gun went off at 7 am. My time started at around 7:10 when I actually crossed the starting line. Get that difference? I was half-way back in the corrals and it took me ten minutes to get to the start. Wow! That’s what 15,000 runners look like.
This is a pic Chris took as he set up camp at Mile 3 on Capitol Hill mile. It was during this mile that I started to cry. Not from pain, but from pure joy and a worshipful experience. Chris had loaded my ipod with an incredible worship mix, I was so grateful that God had created my body to be able to do what I was doing, the sheer number of people praising God with their physical abilities (whether they knew it or not, they were) and the sunrise over the capitol – it was all too much – I began to cry out of sincere thankfulness. And then I stopped myself, because I knew that crying took energy, and I wanted to conserve it.
This is a little video Marion took at about 3.5 miles – she was trying to take a pic of me "running" and had it on video; so we have a short clip. (Chris had missed me and Marion and Kim caught me a little further down the road. They were easy to spot (see below at their signs). What great friends and supporters – they drove from home that morning to come cheer me on. Just seeing them was an energy booster.
I was feeling great. And did feel great through the whole race. Once I missed Chris at 3, I knew he would try to get to 7 to meet me. The plan was to drop my long sleeved shirt (start time temp was mid 40’s, but highs were to hit mid 70s – incredible weather!) and to pick up my energy beans. Jelly Belly makes awesome energy replacement beans (better than that thick GU stuff). After you run about an hour, your body needs to begin to replace energy. I picked up a cup of water and a cup of Powerade at every aid station(odd miles), and after I saw Chris, I rewarded myself with 3 or 4 jelly beans on every even mile. I like food, and it was a good way to keep myself motivated. I must confess, I felt so great that I was worried about when I would not feel so good….it never came.
Marion took this shot at around 10.5 miles. Still going strong. Still smiling. I felt great and knew I’d see them somewhere around 11 miles, so I had my eyes peeled for them. Coldplay came on my mix, and I knew I’d see them soon :) (we went to see Coldplay live with them last summer)…2 minutes later, there they were!
Miles 11 and 12 went smoothly and once I saw the 12, I realized I had a lot of energy left. I had forgotten my watch, so I had been pacing by feel. I picked someone that looked strong and kept my eyes on his right shoulder. I figured he would take a quick pace the last mile and if I could keep him within 50 yards of me, then I’d be able to finish well and strong.
Another miracle? I felt so well that I ran a very fast last mile and passed him. I beat him by about 90 seconds. By my rough calculations, I think my last mile was about an 8:30 mile.
Here’s me after the finish – I took a warmth foil because I was sweating so much that when you stop, you cool quickly, despite the warmth of the air. I was glad that I did. You can see my cool medal for crossing the finish as well.
I met my goals.
- I finished and they didn’t kick me off the course.
- I raised money to beat Melanoma.
- I raised money for my dad’s scholarship fund.
I beat 2 goals.
- I RAN the whole thing.
- I beat my goal time by 25 minutes – my time? 2:21 :)
After stretching and loading up on 2 water bottles, a bottle of powerade, a banana, and I think a soft-pretzel (all complimentary as you crossed the finish – there was more than that, but I wasn’t hungry – I had to force myself to eat that) Chris and I hit the Metro back to our hotel. I also drank some Muscle Milk Lite, which by the way, the flavor I got wasn’t that bad. Only minor gagging.
Kim and Marion headed to protest at the capitol. I’m not kidding. Marion even had a sign; “Kill the Bill” it read. I got a nice luxurious shower, took my time stretching again, got ready and even received a foot rub from my personal masseuse. We checked out and met K & M at a delish Tapas restaraunt. It took a a good bit of walking to get there, but it was actually really good for me – really? After 13.1 miles? – yes. It gave me a chance to slowly work some of the lactic acid out of my muscles.
This picture shows I even had some energy to burn after lunch – I did a little interpretative ice dancing near the Mall’s ice rink. I wasn’t sore, and never did get sore. What my biggest obstacle (not that big) was actually my knees. I could feel they were way fatigued and a bit swollen.
We strolled around the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian area, sat by the pools at the WW2 Memorial and took a gander at the Lincoln Monument from afar. Chris had never been to DC. (I know, right? CRAZY!) So we had to show him the main sights and he was excited to see the White House from a distance.
Now, if you made it this far I want to say 2 more things.
Thanks be to God for an amazing experience. For giving me the chance to do this and for making our bodies able to worship him through exercise – yes, it is possible – and being outside. Thanks to Him for me being born in a free country where I can worship Him (and lift my hands in worship while I run!) and speak His name freely.
Thank you, for supporting me. For words of encouragement, for donations to the causes I ran for, for loving me. This was an AMAZING experience. I may be hooked. Not addictively hooked, but considering the next day I got online to see when another half-marathon was nearby, well…. :o)