The race started at 9 a.m., so I got there at 7 a.m. Parked. Picked up packet. Peed. Pooped. (I really like the alliteration! Sorry, can't keep it up.) Sat in car and waited. I had printed out Bex's directions and read and re-read them like I was sitting for the bar exam, and these questions would be on it. Next, I worried about where to pin my race bib: on the outside of my fleece? But it was going to heat up fast, so what if I want to take my fleece off? Or on the inside? Then how would the race photographers get my bib number? And I can't take my fleece off because it has the cute little pocket that holds my Shuffle. These were important issues.
So that held me until around 8:15, when I got out of the car and went to "Freedom Plaza"
to meet Madame X who was coming just to cheer me on (thank you Madame X!).
By then of course I had to pee again, but by then, so did 5,999 other people. I really hate long lines. I looked around. We were not exactly in a wilderness area. On the other hand, seek and ye shall find. Yes! I found somewhere else. Not exactly somewhere inside either.
I saw my friend A. from my marathon pace group; A., who consistently ran faster than me last year from April right on through the marathon. (Not that I'm competitive or anything, but ya know? I really wanted to beat her. Badly. Plus she's 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. I'm just sayin'.) Some junior ambassador from the Irish embassy said a few lilting words ("Good Luck," I think was the gist) and we were off!
There was supposed to be (note foreshadowing) water at two and four miles. So, no need for a water bottle. My, it got hot fast! I cranked up the Shuffle, and A. and I ran together for a bit. Down Pennsylvania Avenue, up a bit of a hill towards Union Station, past the Capitol, then (yippee!!!) down, down, down that freakin' hill back towards the start. Many detours here and there.
I tried hard to follow Bex's directions. I really did. But it was really hard to speed up at 3 miles when there are NO miles ... grrrr. No matter, soon there would be a water stop, you know, at Mile Two.
Except: no. No water stop. On I ran, trying to figure out by time what mile I could possibly be at. The funny thing was, they had plenty of volunteers at this race, holding up big orange flags hither and yon. Would it have killed them to write some numbers on those flags?? Would It Have Killed Them?? No, I think it Would Not Have Killed Them.
Anyway, finally a water stop. Was this halfway, or mile 4? Who knew? I only knew I wasn't stopping. I was passing people, not yet killing myself, but I had definitely sped up, per the Little Dictator's instructions. I was running strong, with the Little Devil (must be the Little Dictator's evil twin) on my shoulder constantly whispering that I could just walk any ol' time I felt like it. From which I distracted myself by thinking that this was just another Sunday morning run, no big deal, I've run this long many many times. Or several.
I had ditched Marathon Pace Group Pal A. rather quickly, somewhere around mile two. (Who knows?) It was really hot.
As we were nearing the end, which was right in front of us, we had to take a left turn (away from the end: cruel) onto 10th St, run a few blocks, double back, turn left onto Pennsylvania, where we were now just a few blocks from the finish.
I had decided that I would turn "it" on at that left turn onto 10th. Right then, Sean Paul's "Temperature" came on (thanks Elle!), (what can I say? that song has a good beat). Whatever "it" is, I finally figured out how to turn it on full blast, and prayed I wasn't turning it on too soon.
I ran hard and fast. My work colleague, C., was on the corner (he had already finished the race, damn him) cheering for me! I remembered Bex's instructions to keep running even after crossing the mat. I thought I was gonna die, but just like giving birth, it's funny how soon you forget the pain.
Here I am, pouring it on, (photo courtesy Madame X):
Note, please, that one leg is entirely and fully off the ground. Note also: bad form.
I ran across the mat and kept going. And here are my unofficial splits (and for once it was not my fault):
Mile .97: (my watch time) 52:32 (avg. 10:34 min./miles)
Update: Official time: 52:28 10:30 min./miles
Oh joyous day!!!
Let's take a ride in the WayBack Machine, to July 18, 2005, my first 8k:
58:18 (avg. 11:44 min./mile).
I was happy. Madame X and I found each other, high-fived, I kept looking at my watch like a maniac, trying to figure out the average (like it matters; oh, it so matters). Water, banana, stretching, walking, Irish dancing girls. Or Irish girls dancing. We said farewell, and off I went to church, smelling like an Irish dance hall. I changed in the bathroom, and made it in the nick of time. The sermon was on: "Letting Go."