|I told you I was all alone!|
So here I am, relieved to have made the cut-off but also extremely tired from the stress of the first 12 miles. And I’m alone. It was a weird feeling to know that I just left a sea of people only to be on the road with only 1 other person who was pretty far ahead of me. I was a bit terrified but ready for what was ahead. I reached the half marathon mark at a time of about 2:45 (I don’t remember the exact time and I would go and look it up but about a month after I got home from D.C. my Garmin freaked out and deleted everything!!) and I know that is not fast by any means but I was pleased with that time. That was exactly where I wanted to be based on my previous half marathons and the half marathon I knew I had in front of me.
I plugged along running at a pretty slow pace until right before mile 15 when there was a water stop. I saw several people walking and so I myself walked through the water stop. It was then that I realized there was a giant truck behind me coming to clean up that water stop and there were RNR official vans and people everywhere cleaning up. I ask a girl beside me if she knew what was going on and at this point we were both oblivious to the fact that they were closing the course but knew something was up.
Right about mile 15 I realize that there is in fact a trail van behind me and a group of about 5 people and I remember just texting my mom in a panic. She sent me a text back right away saying that no matter what everything would be ok. I will say that I did go into this race knowing there was a 5.5 hour time limit. I knew the RNR policy on course time limits and I knew they would still let me finish the race if I got in the sag wagon at any point. And my mom and I had talked about this as a possibility. I also knew that I was not fast enough to run a 5.5 hour marathon; my goal was somewhere around 5 hours 45 minutes. However, I thought that based on what the website said that I would be ok. I was also told (per the website and the expo) that the time clock for the time limit would not start until the last person started the race. I would find out over the course of the next few miles that that was not in fact the case…
At mile 16 I stopped and talked to the guy in the van and he told me that due to city rules certain streets had to be back opened at certain times and my options were to get in the van and he would take me up about half a mile and let me keep running until they had to open the next streets or I could get in and someone would take me back to the finish area. At that point I thought if I skip half a mile and move forward I can live with myself. So I got in the van at mile 16 and he took me and one other guy to 16.5 and let us off and went on his way.
Oh, and I must point out that at this point we had crossed the Anacostia River and we were running along some not so pretty water front pathway and then we were heading into a warehouse district. I was extremely disappointed with the second half of this race course. There was nothing beautiful or historic about it at all. It was also very hot that day and the sun was out in full force by this time. The day before the marathon was a little chilly and drizzly, the day after was cool and overcast, but of course, just my luck the day I’m running a marathon it’s hot and brilliantly sunny!
Anyways, I got out of the van and went on, running as much as I could because I really didn’t want to get back in that van. I passed quite a few people at this point which now that I think about it felt kind of good. I kept thinking, the more people I pass the better chance I have of being able to stay on the race course. It was hard to run though because at this point I was not only tired from running 16+ miles but I was also very tense from all the stress. I wasn’t able to run at a comfortable pace and it would always be bursts of running and then speed walking, running and then speed walking.
At this point there were enough people around me that I was able to stay away from the dreaded van, or as Alex likes to call it, “the struggle bus”; but I could always see it and I was keeping an eye on it. Miles 18-20 were on some odd highway and over this ugly and awful bridge and it was hot! Once we were over the bridge we ended up on this jogging/biking/driving path that would lead to a park area and now that I think about it I’m wondering why that “road” had to be opened….
At mile 21 that darn van came back and brought with it two large 15 passenger vans and started collecting people saying that certain streets needed to be opened and they had pushed their luck for too long and we had to get in the vans. I got in a van with about 8 other people and it was headed to mile 25. We moved along very slowly, sometimes so slowly that I wanted to scream and say “just let me out I promise I’ll run faster than you!!!” We picked a few people up along the way as we went and my Garmin started freaking out so I finally turned it off. My head was a mess. I remember texting Alex and my mom but I don’t even remember what I said. I was so disappointed. I do remember absolutely hating the fact that I was sitting in a van, with air conditioning and looking out the window seeing people struggle to barely run. I hated it. I still to this day hate thinking about that. I wasn’t incapable at all, I was just too slow, or rather, slower that they wanted me to be.
The van was headed to mile 25 to unload and then head back out to get more people, but watching people running as we were passing them was just too much for me and so as we approached the mile 24 marker I told the van driver to stop and let me out. I at least had some dignity left in me and I wanted to run as much as I could. I got out of the van and immediately my feet felt like they were on fire!! I had been sitting for close to 15 minutes in the van and my body was tense and stressed and while my socks hadn’t worn blisters on my feet they had cooled off and so getting back out was painful. I walked some and I think I ran the longest 2.2 miles of my entire life. At this point I was no longer alone and many people who were running were on pace to finish at about 5:20-5:40ish range. I saw a lot of corral 15, 16, 17 and 18 bibs. The scenery was still nothing spectacular and the finishing stretch was on this highway leading into the Armory stadium where the race was held. It was so hot and I was so emotionally spent. I just wanted to be done.
I remember when I got to the finish area and they had the barricades set up I just wished at that point that I could be invisible because so many people were cheering and encouraging me. I could hear the peppy announcers and how they were congratulating people and I know I had tears streaming down my face, but not because I was excited about what I had just done. Instead I felt like I was cheating. I wanted to tell every single person that was encouraging me that they needed to save their cheers for the next person who actually ran the whole thing. I wanted to grab the microphone from the lady and tell her that she should stop cheering for me and when they handed me my medal, I couldn’t even put it on. Just the raw emotion of disappointment and defeat was too much.
|you can tell I'm crying here|
|not the face I was hoping for when I finished my marathon|
Alex was the first to call me the moment I crossed the finish line. I had signed up for runner tracking and it must have alerted him. I was crying, so thankful to be done but so frustrated. My mom called while I was talking to him and I clicked over and immediately broke down. I think the hardest part for me was knowing that I was capable of something but due to so many things beyond my control I wasn’t able to accomplish them. Thankfully I wasn’t mad at myself for what I had done that day, in fact I was proud given what I was able to accomplish. But I most certainly didn’t feel like I had accomplished what I had gone to D.C. to do, and that was to become a marathoner. I don’t feel right calling myself that. I ran 22.7 miles that day and while that’s still the furthest distance I have ever run I cannot say I ran a marathon. I respect those who do run marathons too much to take that away with my 22.7 miles. But I did keep my medal. I never wore it, I only carried it. It hangs with my other medals as a reminder of what I am capable of but have yet to accomplish. I know I will have another chance and I know I will do well. My official results say that I finished in 5:24. That includes the 15 or so minutes I sat in the van and I had just a bit over a 5K left to run had they let me finish. I could have finished and I would have been close to my goal time as well....
So there’s my story. It comes with many tears, then and even still now. I didn’t realize just how much that story still hurt. I think what stands out to me the most though when I think about that day (and what makes me all choked up the most) is thinking about how even though I was alone in D.C. my mom never let me be alone that day. She sent me so many encouraging text messages and was always prepared with loving words no matter what I sent her. I cannot tell you how grateful I was for her support. I know as a mother it pained her to know that she wasn’t there to hug me at the end but I’m not sure if she truly knows just how much she helped me that day. She even had my sisters and my grandmother send me texts of encouragement. It was so wonderful to have so much love and support and know that no matter what my family was proud of me.
Next week I plan to put up a post about what I learn from running 22.7 miles and why I don’t think I’ll run a Rock ‘N Roll race any time soon….
I also still need to share about the rest of March, I still had more races to run…..
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great weekend!