Today is race day!
Hubby finally arrived in DC! Granted it was 11:30pm and he had to take a plane (a great friend hooked him up), but he made it. So bedtime came a little later than I had hoped; I finally fell asleep around 12:30.
The alarm went off at 6:00 am and I felt exhausted. My prerace jitters got the best of me and I didn't sleep as soundly as I liked. After getting ready and hurrying out the door we finally made it to the metro station (which DC opened an hour early).
When we arrived at our transfer point, the trains were having major problems. Which meant there were 20,000 runners stuck waiting for long periods to squeeze into a small space on the train.
When we finally arrived at our station, I couldn't help but turn around at the top of the stairs and look down (of course out of the way of foot traffic). The sea of runners was insane.
Once out of the metro, we made our way to our corrals. As I found my pacer (2:45), my hubby whispered to me that he would be running with me today because he was exhausted (both mentally and physically from work). Hubby only ran one run with me during training, so the fact he wanted to run a whole race with me was surprising. He is substantially faster than me, so I was pumped to have him run alongside me for 13.1.
As the race started, the corrals moved smoothly through the start. Runners were spreading out nicely and it didn't feel like people were on top of each other. Not once did I feel like I was being squeezed to the shoulder of the road.
Mile one went by pretty fast. I kept a really steady pace and was pretty proud of the speed. As we reached the mile one marker a female spectator was yelling, "Yo! You running through the hood! Run faster!" My hubby and I looked at each other and laughed.
Mile two I stopped to use the bathroom. I hesitated because I didn't want to lose my pacer, who was only a few yards in front of me. I hate my bladder (will do a separate post about it a different day). But the pit-stop cost me 3 minutes. The port-a-potties were disgusting, pee all over (I mean on the walls, floor, seat, etc). And there were so few of them as the race went on. Definitely not enough for 25,000 people to utilize. After I was finished I hurried outside to find my husband motioning for me to get a move on, "You got to pick up your pace a little bit to make-up for the time you were in the bathroom". I nodded and sped up to a comfortable fast.
The first five miles were pretty uneventful. But the scenery was nice; we passed the Capital Building, Washington Monument, the Smithsonian's, and ran Constitution Avenue. There were great spectators. Some cute signs. One family waved a sign for their daughter, Ali, that said "Don't Dilidalie Ali, Beer Awaits." It made me smile. A group of people who were part of the Fallen Soldiers had flags set up and it lined half a block. Everyone seemed to fall quite when they passed. During this whole time I hadn't seen the pacer, but I held hope that I could catch her. A little after mile 4, I saw her turning a corner. I got excited and told my husband we can get to her if we increase speed just a little bit. He told me to not push to hard and we would catch her soon. I sorta listened. I sped up gradually. And just short of mile 5 I had caught her. I was happy.
Just after we passed the mile 5 marker I started to feel like I was losing some steam. I had just climbed our first massive hill. So I took 3 Shot Blocks. It took a while to feel the energy comeback, but my husband kept pushing me forward. I took a short walk break and we continued. My bladder started to act-up and I told my hubby that I might have to pee. We saw some bathrooms, but the line was at least 20 deep. Hubby motioned to pull off the road towards the line, I shook my head no. I couldn't afford to lose the valuable time.
Miles 6-8 had some crazy hills. CRAZY! I walked a few and coasted down the downhill. But hubby wouldn't let me walk them all, he would say "you trained for this, utilize it" or "keep strong". It helped. I ran up most of them, and while doing it I would say "I eat hills for breakfast!" Hubby would just giggle and keep going. At mile 7 I felt tired. I lost a lot of energy running up those hills, and it really did have an impact on my time. It was the worst mile I ran at 13.43 minutes, it was over two minutes slower then my good pacing. Mile 8 I took a few more Shot Blocks and I started to feel the energy come back in. I felt strong and I utilized it.
The spectators in the later miles were amazing. We were now running through neighborhoods, and people were on their porches and sitting on their lawns cheering us on. One group of young adults were giving out cups of cold beer. COLD BEER! Oh how much I just wanted a sip, but I didn't want to risk it. I had never had beer while running and I had a mission to accomplish.
Mile 10 volunteers were handing out Gu, I passed it because I had my own sustenance. I should have used that as a sign that I needed to have something soon. Miles 10 and 11 I cruised through. I felt strong and hubby kept me going. I had been keeping my pacer in front of me most of the time, but at mile 10 I passed her. I had the energy, I didn't push myself and I knew it was the right thing to do. The rest of the race I felt like I was being chased. I did not want for her to pass me. If I could accomplish this, I had my PR in the bag.
Mile 12 was brutal. It was getting hot and my energy was running out. Hubby kept telling me to run just a little faster. I couldn't, my back was killing me and I just wanted to walk with everyone else I saw walking. I saw my hubby glance back. The look was disappointment. "What is it?" He didn't answer me. He didn't have to. 3 to 4 seconds later my pacer was beside me. I had slowed down and she caught up and passed me eventually. But I wouldn't let this happen. My brain turned into crazy mantra mode, I started saying out-loud "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever" over and over. It helped, because on a uphill I passed them.
Mile 12.6 I knew the finish line was around the corner. But I was exhausted. I wanted to stop. Not once during this race did I say I wanted to quit. Until that point. I told hubby "I'm done. My feet can't go anymore." He shook his head no and said "push". So I did. I ran that uphill to the finish (this was very mean of the race organizers to put a finish on an uphill like this). And as I got to about 20 yards from the finish line I began to sob. I couldn't help it. The harder I ran the harder I cried. But I pushed. And I finished.
My unofficial Garmin said 2:45. I did it I had a PR. Thanks to my hubby and my Personal Trainer, Alexandra. My official time was 2:44:59 (even better). As I sat at the finish line trying to gain composure, I watched my pacer come through. I had done it. The feeling was crazy. I was so proud of myself, of my husband for pushing me, and us as a couple for working together. It was amazing. I beat my previous PR (from Oct) by 6 minutes and 42 seconds. As I sat in a chair waiting to get ice for my knees, I heard the live band Switchfoot start their next song. They begun singing Dare You to Move. I just closed my eyes and lived in that moment, and it felt great.
My Mile by Mile Breakdown
* After looking at my results and really thinking about how I felt during certain times of my race, I have come to the conclusion I need to adjust when I take my energy bars. I think I could have avoided those slow times at miles 5, 7, and 12 if I had gave myself the blocks a little earlier.
The Overall Pace and Course Elevation Graph
- Water stations were in abundance. At least 1 every other mile. They had supplies of water and Gatorade.
- Food after the race was also abundant. Tons of bagels, bananas, water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk.
- The first medical tent post race was swamped. The second tent had more people helping. Response time post race was fast.
- I only saw one medical tent on course and a few medical people sprinkled around the miles. This was slightly disturbing for such a large race.
- There were not enough restrooms on course for 25,000 people.
- People have been complaining that there was not enough on-course entertainment, I didn't mind. But I am not a big on-course entertainment person.