Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon

Let me spoil the ending for you: Dan & I finished the Marine Corps Marathon!

On Friday afternoon, we drove to DC just in time to hit rush hour. Yay! We made it to the Expo, where we had enough time to buy some official race jackets (hey, you can't wear your medal every day, but you can wear your jacket every day!) and take some silly pictures:

From there we went to the First Timers Pep Rally in DC. We figured the speakers wouldn't hit the stage until 8 PM, since the event was from 7-9 PM. We got there around 7:30 PM, and then remembered we were surrounded by Marines and of COURSE they started right at 7 PM. We basically missed all of the free food and good speakers. Bummer. We hung out for a little bit before eating dinner at the hotel and heading back to crash.

Saturday was a very calm day, since we wanted to save our legs for the marathon. We met up with our DC friends for brunch at Busboys & Poets, where the food was delicious and the wait staff pretentious. From there we went to the Women in Military Service For America Memorial, where my Grandmom was a charter member. The Women In Military Service For America Memorial is a unique, living memorial honoring all military women - past, present and future. I haven't been since 7th grade, and a lot has been done since. It was very moving, and appropriate given the marathon we were about to run. We gave our thanks and then went off to the Team Lemon dinner.

It was great meeting new people hearing everyone's running stories and how they found out about Alex's Lemonade Stand. We didn't stay long because we wanted to meet up with Katie and Kathleen before the big day.

Before we knew it, it was race morning!

We actually got up with the first alarm, got ready, and then took off for the big day. Between walking to Runner's Village (the staging area for all of us), checking our bags, and using the bathroom the time really flew by. Before we knew it, we were starting.

The first half of the race was great. If I didn't have a 15(?) minute bathroom stop right before the halfway mark, I would have PRed for my half marathon time. Despite a huge blister on my right foot, I was feeling good. I was confident we'd finish with our 5:30 group, maybe a little later. I thought for sure we'd finish under 6 hours though.

After my bathroom break, I started to get tired and hungry.

After I beat the bridge at mile 20, I emotionally hit the wall. Then, after mile 21, I physically did too. Something in my ankle snapped, and it hurt to put too much weight on it. I would try running in one minute intervals, but even then the pain was too much. I kept thinking, "Why am I doing this? This won't bring Justin back. What is the point?"  It was a long 5 miles. Dan pushed me to run up the hill, where after my medal I hobbled to the medic tent.

The end!

 Running up Iwo Jima with soliders from the UK Army.

We finished in 6 hours and 33 minutes. A full hour slower than I had hoped. At this point Sandy started to kick in, and we met up with our cheerleaders and personal assistants Katie and Kathleen so that we could head back to the room to decompress and shower before the long ride with Sandy home. In New Jersey, Sandy has kept us busy enough that processing the marathon hasn't really been an option. We were lucky that our town was spared.

I had my final PT appointment today. While they were taking measurements, we hashed out the marathon and my ankle and everything else. I told them that I was glad that if I was going to do one marathon in my life, I'm so glad it was this one. While my time was disappointing, my training and race day was not. I've learned a lot about myself during this journey; I also never realized what a support system I had around me. People from all different parts of my life have cheered me on these past four months. It's been incredible every step of the way. As I was gushing about how great Dan has been since the first time I attempted Couch to 5K, they gave me the great news that I've met 90% of my goals and that I wouldn't need to come back!

309.58 miles. 68.15 hours (not counting cross training).12 PT visits. 6 states. $1,813 raised. It's been a long journey. Thank you to everyone that's followed it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rain Rain, Go Away

I’ve been freaking out about the upcoming hurricane that’s ready to crawl her way through the marathon with us on Sunday. I’m trying to keep positive though. Negative thoughts will not ruin this experience.
I’ll think of the man who greatly shaped the athlete I’ve become – my tennis instructor, Dan. My dad dragged me to tennis lessons in 6th grade, and I was not happy about it. Dan didn’t care. He taught me week after week for six years. Dan served in the Marine Corps for four years, and that must have taught him patience and perseverance to deal with me. Two things I’ll need when shuffling along this weekend, for sure.  I’ll also think of my grandmother, also known as one of the coolest ladies to ever walk the planet. She was a Marine during World War II. Thinking of her tough love has forced me to suck it up. It’s not like I’d be comfortable even if it was 60 and partly sunny.
I’ll be thinking about how around 2pm on Sunday, this will all be over. Training will be done, and I will get to celebrate my accomplishments. For children battling cancer, this is not the case. There is no end in sight. I’m sure they’d love to run around in the rain for 6 hours and then be free from pain. I’ll be thinking how grateful I am that this does have an ending. How lucky am I?
I’ll keep in mind the hard work I’ve done. I’ve run almost 290 miles since the end of June. I’ve gone to 10 sessions of physical therapy, with my final session being tonight. I’ve spent hours cross training at the gym. Hurricane Sandy does not get to discount all the time I’ve put in:
Sandy can take her rain and 22mph winds and bring it on. It’s a MARINE CORPS Marathon, after all!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Final Countdown

It's official. The marathon is in less than a week. I'd like to say training has been going well, but my last two long runs have been a bust. On October 13, I was supposed to do 12 miles, but then this happened:

Took it easy all the next week, got my runs in when I could. This weekend I was supposed to do 8, but then this happened:

So now, after the party of the year, I get to switch gears and focus on the Marine Corps Marathon. Oh boy.

"You're running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You're delirious. But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in, because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line. It's a misery that non-runners don't understand."
-Martine Costello

Monday, October 8, 2012

First time.

Lots of firsts for me this weekend. First time in Syracuse in the fall.

Green Lakes State Park

First time at the LaFayette Apple Festival.
 Jabba the Pumpkin

Carbo-loading with apple fritters.

First time needing to pee in the woods during a run.

Finding privacy was a challenge at Old Erie Canal State Historic Park.

First time being heckled during a run. Said I was cheating for walking. He's lucky he didn't end up in the bottom of here:

No seriously, it's a good thing he caught me at mile 19. Too exhausted to be violent.

First time running 20 miles. I was only supposed to go 14-16, but around mile 8 I decided that this needed to be my last super long run. It was slow. After mile 15, it was painful. It was the first time I had to walk for a solid mile during a run just to keep my sanity.

 Time to start tapering!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Race Recap: The Four Seasons Parkway Run

The Four Seasons Parkway Run for Children’s Cancer Research is a 5K that starts at the Four Seasons outside of Logan Square, runs along West River Drive, and then back to the Four Seasons for a complete breakfast.  Good cause and good food!? I was all:
But then I was sidelined, and then when I tried to run again, with every step the pain got worse. I was supposed to run 9 miles on Saturday, how was I going to swing that plus a 5K on Sunday? So instead, Dan and I decided to do 6 miles after the 5K instead, making time for this:
Oktoberfest celebrations made it tough to get out the door in the morning, but knowing we were meeting up with Christine provided the right motivation to not ditch the cheese to my macaroni. We stayed with Christine until about the first mile or so, and then Dan and I slowed it down. Between my busted hip, and his bruised ankle, we were feeling pretty blah around mile 2.5. We sucked it up, got through it, found Christine and then ate a feast before going back out for another 5.8 miles.
Without the pressure of 7,000 other participants, we took the rest of the run much easier. We ran from the hotel to Kelly Drive and back. A very pretty run, and a nice change of pace from south Jersey. The last few miles killed me though.
The Parkway Run raised over $850,000 for the Cancer Center at CHOP, and the Four Seasons really accommodated the large group with the same excellence as they do with their hotels. While the race festivities were going on, the Cancer Center at CHOP held a candlelight vigil for the children that passed this year.
We miss you buddy.