I might not have been fast, or quick or speedy or anything even close, but I finished, and I didn't walk (except through water stops). Here's some pics and a quick recap of the events of the weekend...
Saturday was the very well run expo... in the SNOW! That is so so rare for DC, and a little disconcerting. The Expo was great, but really crowded, and we were there before Ryan Hall... I can't imagine how crowded it was once he got there.
Once off the metro, we walked for what felt like forever in a huge crowd of people toward the start. There were tons of Porta Potties and the lines were pretty short. We met a retired Marine name Chris who was full of running advice and calmed a lot of my fears. He was great! Walking to the start line was terrifying, and I started getting pretty shaky. I went to put on my newly purchased iFitness Belt and barely could because 1) I was FREEZING (it was in the 30's) and 2) I was freaking out. After crying a fair amount and kissing Nick goodbye, I was on my way. Minor detail- I had pinned my race number to the back of my shirt, and had to turn it around while waiting to start. I made friends with some nice South African men who laughed at me turning around my shirt.
It happened? It was a weird, fun blur. I was on such a high for the first 2 miles or so, but nervous and trying to find Kim and Scott. They caught up to me around mile 2 and we ran together for almost 10 miles. It was so wonderful seeing them, and she definitely pushed my pace, which I needed. It made the first half of the race just fly by. The only thoughts I had were, "holy cow, I'm doing this." My IT band was achy, but only a little distracting. My feet were hurting, which was weird, but I powered through.
Nick asked me when I knew I would finish, and I think it was around mile 13, I said, well, you made it this far Laurel. I was by myself at that point, and having a great time. I felt strong and happy. Then reality set in: YOU STILL HAVE 13 MILES TO GO. I didn't start feeling super cruddy until about mile 17. I was in pain. My feet ached really bad, and at every water stop when I slowed down to walk, my calves screamed at me. It was around that point that I realized that if I tried to switch to a run/walk combo, I would die. Really and truly, I realized I would most likely not finish if I slowed down, my joints and muscles were far less painful when I was running.
I saw Nick and my dad at some pretty critical points- around mile 12, 16, 20, and then at the end. It was so wonderful to see them, it really helped me and it is great they were able and willing to come hang out and watch me all day.
I powered through. I 'Beat the Bridge.' I ran through MISERABLE Crystal City- it was terribly congested and only a couple miles of out-and-back. My least favorite part of the course. I kept chugging along. Around Mile 22, I began counting down the miles left in 0.1 mile intervals-- mayyyybe just a little too early to do that. It became a crazy mental battle to just keep my legs moving, but somehow I did. I haven't pulled my paces off my Garmin yet, but although I felt like I was going <11 minute miles I definitely was not. I was struggling, and that last 0.2 UPHILL (c'mon guys, that's just cruel) was not fun. But then I was done. I actually said, out loud to myself "Laurel, you can stop running when you cross. You get to stop!"
My stomach was mediocre throughout- I was crampy and uncomfortable off and on, and considered stopping, but I didn't want to make my legs hurt even more, and if I ignored my tummy I did just fine. Also, bathrooms were scarce and seemed to have long lines at all of them. Not cool.
Getting out of the finish area was miserable. Another -1 to the MCM- it was too crowded and we all came to a stand still for almost 10 minutes. That was painful, since at this point I was able to fully realize how sore I was. We got space blankets and our medals ( +1000000 to the MCM). This was probably why the finish area was so congested, but getting a few seconds with a Marine who actually made eye contact with me and congratulated me was so special. Maybe have a few extra Marines next time? Then there were finish pics in front of the MC War Memorial, and then the really bad planning hit me. It was a bottleneck trying to get out to where families were, because everyone was stopping to grab water and gatorade and little boxes with snacks in them. It was just terribly crowded. Then there was quite a walk to meet up with spectators. I saw my dad, we walked and found Nick, and then the misery set in. I was SORE and I was FREEZING. My stomach finally decided it was done with behaving, but by the time we got to porta potties at the finish line, they were all out of TP! YIKES. I did finally find one that was fully equipped. I chugged some gatorade, sipped water, and tried to eat... I choked down some of the snacks from the snack pack they gave us- little thing of dried edamame (meh), diced pears (okay), and chocolate (yes!). I sat in the sun for a few minutes and tried to recover, take pictures, and recount the race. I continued shivering and being sad. Then we stood in a long to get back on Metro and begin the hour long ride home... ugh. I started feeling even grosser, super nauseous (riding metro. again) and icky. I puked a couple times when we got to our destinationm, ugh, and then hunkered down in the car. I was finally sort of warm at that point. After another hour long commute, I was back at Nick's.
I took a little shower and then soaked in a super hot tub for a few minutes. It was amazing. I tried napping but my legs were achy and my mind was still racing. I still had not eaten. Yikes again. After the failed nap, I transferred to the couch with Nick, ate some Halloween candy and 2 pieces of pizza, and chilled for a few hours. Then I went to Taco Bell. I can eat whatever I want, I ran a marathon!
Today I am starving, and I am exhausted. I slept alright, but not for very long. I'm sore, but not ridiculously sore. Stairs suck. My upper body, back and abs are surprisingly sore... I'm trying to eat like a normal person but my stomach is demanding food every 10 minutes. Insane.
Also, I am so super proud and happy. I am a marathon finisher!!!! More thoughts on the race, training, food, etc. will come this week. Yayyyy!