There is nothing like a marathon. Every time we head to DC for the marine corps I am reminded of the dedication, determination and excitement of everyone involved. Runner, volunteer, Marine or spectator, you can feel the energy that this race gives off.
This year, my dad and I queued up again with 30,000 of our closest friends for the gun to sound. As the national anthem blared, we looked up to see about ten parachuters gliding down to us with flags. They landed in and amongst the runners while the whole crowd cheered. Honestly, it was one of the coolest sites I’ve ever seen. Rock on Marine Corps.
The gun sounded and we waddled our way towards the start. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the hurry-up-and-wait of a marathon start, your heart is pounding and your bouncing up and down, ready to go, but your surrounded by a mass of people on all sides, and there’s nowhere to go until you officially cross the start line.
In typical marine fashion and as expected as a second-timer, the race was very well-organized, plenty of water stations and bathrooms. My only complaint was that we didn’t get food, oranges, until mile eight (two years ago, we got this two miles earlier, made all the difference!). Now, it was right around these oranges that my run started to go south.
My feet had started to hurt, so I popped two Tylenol to take the edge off, but the real problem was my stomach. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had pretty bad stomach issues for the past month and a half. Found out that I’m basically having a bad reaction to a naturally occurring bacteria in your body (so not awesome). So, of course, my stomach decided to put up a fight to all this running.
We ran on, until mile 10, where I literally left my mark on the race course in the most un-attractive way possible, by puking. Shout out to the woman who congratulated me with a spirited “better out than in!!”. I shook it off, and ran, much more slowly, onwards. We hit the next aid station where hero #2 of the race traded me one of my citrus goos (my stomach = no citrus for now) for a chocolate one. At this point, my stomach started throbbing, literally. I won’t go into gory details, but a shirt we saw on our run sums it up nicely: “Nothing can stop us now, we’re champions, going str….wait, hang on, dry heaves!!”.
My dad, the most awesome running companion you could ever ask for, started walking with me during mile 14. I won’t lie, the tears were flowing, I was crushed. It was taking everything I had to keep going, but all I could think was, just keep moving.
We came around a bend and found the American University pep band cheering us on. When they saw my alumni shirt, they started going nuts, yelling at my dad and I to just keep going! But, at this point, both my dad and I knew there was no way I was going to make it the last 10 miles to the finish. In true solidarity, he ran with me the last mile (no matter how much it hurt, I refused to stop my race on a walk), to where our friends and family were waiting at mile 16, our finish line.
I’ve never not finished before. Slow, tired, hurting, I’ve been all of these things, but I’ve always pushed through and made it across the line. To say that I was devastated was an understatement. After months of prepping and getting excited, ending everything early felt like a cop out. Admitting that I had failed felt even worse.
And then, after the love + encouragement from my friends and family had finally gotten under my thick skin, I decided to quit feeling bad. Sure, I didn’t make it to the finish, I don’t have a medal to prove it, but I ran my heart out. A marathon is just a distance, that’s all. I ran 16 of those 26 miles, and know that I left everything out on the pavement, there weren’t any miles left in me.
Now, I’m picking myself up, dusting off a rough run and getting my head in the game for the next one. The best part of all this? I have even more motivation for next year. MCM 2014 is going to be the race to end all races (and even if it isn’t, I’ll know that I did everything I could). Congratulations to all of my friends that completed the MCM 2013, so proud to have run with you!! Can’t wait until next year!!
As always, run on runners.