Ready for retirement
On Sunday, October 30th, 2012, I along with 34,999 of my closest friends lined up Route 110 in Arlington, VA to begin the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon. The course, which took us from Arlington to Washington, D.C and back, wound its way through Georgetown, around Haines Point, the National Mall, and ended at the Iwo Jima memorial. Along the way, runners were motivated to keep pushing in the midst of fatigue and pain by a supportive throng of complete strangers.
This year’s MCM marked my 2nd time on the course and my 4th marathon overall. Training has been challenging, painful and rewarding; sometimes I experienced all 3 at the same time. Likewise, on the course, there were times when I wanted to quit and go home. I have often been asked “what do you think about for that long?” I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s a brief synopsis of my thoughts (many of which have been edited so you don’t think I am a heathen):
5 am- my alarm goes off. I think running is stupid and silently curse my friend who talked me into signing up for this stupid race. (It is important to note that this scene took place on most Saturday mornings when my alarm went off for my training runs as well.)
6 am- drive to Kristen’s house and head to the course. Again, I am thinking running is dumb as I run to the bathroom for the 5th time this morning.
7:45 am- panic when realizing just how long the lines are for the port-a-potty. What happens next will not be mentioned in order to protect the not so innocent. You know who you are.
7:55- Howitzer goes off to indicate the race has begun (if you really want to upset a Marine, call it a cannon). Unless you are in the first corral (which I will never be), it will be another 15-30 minutes before you cross the start line so calm down.
Miles 1-5: This running thing isn’t so bad. I’m running well and I look good. Is that a hill? Arrgghh.
Miles 6-10: I’m feeling pretty good still. Maybe I should slow down a little. You know, since there’s 20.2 miles left and whatnot.
Miles 11-12: If I can just make it to the half-way point, then maybe I can walk a little.
Mile 13: Congratulations self, you have made it 13.1 miles. Wait, I’m only halfway done? SMH
Miles 14-18: Upon approaching the mall, the crowd support begins to kick in. Race supporters make the greatest signs. I have probably seen 5 signs about farting and poop. Runners sure are a strange, gross lot.
Mile 19: I see the face I’ve been looking for and run for a hug. I don’t know if I was more excited to see him or that I had a chance to stop for a moment. Let’s go with I was elated to see him. That sounds better.
Mile 20: I really hate the 14th street bridge. It seems so benign when you cross it in your car; on foot, the stupid bridge never seems to end.
Miles 20-23: I hate Crystal City. I hate running. I’m never doing this again. This is dumb.
Miles 23-26: Suck it up buttercup and finish. Think of this as a short, easy training run. Put on headphones and GO!
Miles 26-26.2: You mean after I’ve run 26 miles, I have to run up this hill to the finish? With Marines yelling at me?
Finish- I’m never doing this again. Can I just lay down somewhere?
This brings me to my initial point that perhaps I should just retire from marathons. I remember seeing some random statistic that less than 1% of the population will complete a marathon (take that 99%, I am the 1% in something!). Even fewer will complete multiple marathons. So will I hang up my marathon dreams along with my medals? I can’t say with certainty. Training is hard and time consuming. Yet, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment associated with setting a goal, working towards it and accomplishing it. At points of the race, I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing this again. At the end of the race, as I gingerly hobbled my way around my apartment anxiously awaiting Hurricane Sandy, I was positive I was done for good. Three days post-race I am still not convinced that I’ll do another marathon. However before I began them I was convinced I had better things to do with my time than run 26.2 miles (we see how that worked out for me). Only time will tell. Besides, the prize for completing the Nike Women’s marathon is a necklace from Tiffany’s. What girl doesn’t like a little blue box?