I will thank you because I am marvelously made/ Your works are wonderful, and I know it well.So I wrote "marvelously made" on back of my hand, and it became my mantra for the day. A reminder of how marvelous and miraculous it is that I am able to do any of this.
But enough of that, let's get to the good stuff. (And sorry if you thought yesterday was the recap. Obviously, you don't know me. Oh, and my tenses are all over the place. Shockingly bad form.)
Prelude to a Race
First, David and I get GOLD medals for being on time. We were the ONLY ones out of five people! In all fairness, I did set a ridiculous meet-up time of 7 a.m. for an 8:20 (or 8:40) start. But I wanted time to take group pictures, and lollygag.
David, me, happy before the race
Poor Rich. David and I called him at 7:20, and asked where he was? He was in his hotel, why? We told him what time it was. Poor Rich! He insisted that we were kidding, that it was 6:20 a.m. (I think he finally caught on that we weren't.) So, we pretty much saved his race for him, which fact I will now remind him of for the rest of his days. (Lucky boy!)
Bex called around 7 ish to say she was running late. Then called again to say she missed her train. Then called again to say she was on her way to Charity Village (near the finish) to drop her gear. We never did see her, but I'm pretty sure she made it to the race on time, since, holy cats, she "placed in the top 10 percent of female finishers as well as in the top 10 percent of age-division finishers, and in the top 18 percent of the 20,855 runners who completed the marathon. More than 32,000 runners started the race." Go send Bex some comment love!
Back to me. Certain things had not happened by the time I left home at 6 a.m. I had been experimenting with taking Metamucil wafers (tasty!) every night before bed for a week. Worked like a charm every morning except marathon morning. I was so worried that I went and bought a cup of coffee, totally forgetting that I do not drink caffeine because my body can't handle it. I was hoping that the coffee ... well, you know. But no luck. (Poor David had to listen to all this. I mean, I just met the man!! No shame.)
It was decision time, and I knew I couldn't run this thing with a bellyful of ... well, last night's dinner and that morning's oatmeal. So out came the Immodium. I took five. Now, I had immodium and Metamucil swimming around in my stomach, along with coffee. Which one would be the victor? Three guesses.
David and I finally left our cozy perch at the Organization for Autism Research booth, and headed toward the start, with 50 million other people. We were walking against the crowd. He was meeting up with Michelle somewhere around the 4-hour pace sign, and I was looking for the Other Jen, at the 5:30 pace sign. We hugged goodbye, and I went on my way, back back back back to the waaaay back.
I never did find the Other Jen. I asked the pacer about how she paced and she said she'd be doing a walk/run thing. Ut-oh. She said it was too hard to run that pace without walking. I'd trained to run this race, so I wasn't going to change that now. I had my pace band all neat and tidy on my wrist. My goal was to shoot for 13 min miles for the first two miles, which are pretty much straight uphill. And then switch to 12:36 til mile 20, when I'd knock it down to 12:26, all set for a 5:30 finish (I'm hilarious, non?).
The race was delayed for a medical emergency (the first of several). It was cool, crisp, sunny, a bit breezy. I was literally shaking, teeth chattering. (Here's where I remembered why I don't use caffeine. It makes me insanely jittery and anxious.) We stood for an eternity, finally crossing the start at 9:11.
Mile 1: 12:11 Ok, this part of the course was only slightly uphill, so I must have read the map wrong. No problem, I thought, I'll just do the next two miles at 13. Because, God knows, the only way I can screw this thing up is to start too fast. How many times have I read this??? And been told it??? Thousands.
Mile 2: 14:42 This time is wrong because I missed the mile two marker. But this was the first hill. Pretty steep but I ran it like it was buttah. This hill killed me last year!
Mile 3: 9:10 OK, this isn't right either, because I started the watch after mile 2. So no idea what my pace is, but I'm pretty sure it's not 13. We entered Spout Run Parkway on our way to the George Washington Parkway which runs along the Potomac. A beautiful, beautiful morning. The crowds were out in full force.
Mile 4: 11:24: The crowds continue along Key Bridge and into Georgetown.
I have this conversation:
"Jeanne, what are you doing? You are so going too fast and you will regret this later!"
"Yes, but what if I go slow now and I'm still slow later? That will suck. I have to bank some time now!"
"You know it doesn't work that way."
Mile 5: 11:59 Pace band goes out the (metaphorical) window. Is it possible I can do this in 5 hours? Oh yes! I head up Rock Creek Park for a three-mile out and back. Another hill and I'm not feeling a thing.
I see runners flying along the other side of the road, on their way back. An emergency vehicle comes past on our side, scooting everyone over to the right. Suddenly on the other side, I see the Marines holding back the runners. They have stopped the race for the emergency. (It looked like a girl fell off her bike.) They soon get going again.
Mile 6: 11:59 So, all along I've been listening on and off to the Phedippidations "Bravery" episode on my Shuffle, turning it off whenever we passed bands playing or crowds cheering, because I wanted to be in the moment and remember everything.
The park is glorious! The day is gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. A bit windy, but we're well protected here. We're on our way up towards the National Zoo. I'm so glad we trained on these hills! I've turned Phedip back on, and I hear the host, Steve Walker (who also ran MCM yesterday) say, "I'm adding a new feature to the podcast. I'll be featuring a blog or podcast of the week." And I'm thinking "Cool! I wonder if I know who he'll pick! And it would be great to find some other good running podcasts."
And it turns out, I know quite well who he picked for this week's featured blogger. Quite well indeed. And I had a big stupid smile on my face for a long long way.
Mile 7: 11:56 Hmm. Funny tummy rumblings. I start looking for a portapotty, but they all have lines and I am not going to wreck my time by waiting in line! Heavens, no!
Mile 8: 12:02: I'd rather wreck my time by darting hither and yon into the bushes lining the park. Except we're running alongside a straight uphill on the right and a severe drop to the Creek on left. What to do?
Mile 9: 14:12: Ah, I spot an underpass! And run over to it. Cars are blocked from coming this way, so no fear of being seen (this was when I still cared). There was a little concrete barrier and I went behind it and ... I went behind it.
Mile 10: 12:28: We're now running along the National Mall, past the Washington Monument. It feels so different this year, I actually have people around me! I start looking for my friend S. so that I can ditch the pullover I've tied around my waist.
Mile 11: 11:37: Still looking for S.! I so want to see a familiar face. I'm now running along the part of the Mall where the Smithsonian is. I chat with a girl for a few minutes and tell her there's only one more big bad hill, up and around the back of the Capitol building.
I finally see S. a bit after mile 11. Woo!!! But, I can't hear what she's saying. Why can't I hear her? Because my Shuffle is on and there is music blasting in my ear and I don't think to turn it off. I back up and run again so she can get a photo. I do have the presence of mind to ask her if she can hold my pullover. Relief! She looks cold and unhappy. I find out later she was battling a migraine. Good Lord!
Tummy again. I see a low sculpture in front of the East Building of your National Gallery of Art. And sad to say, I think I may have defaced it. Two security guys are sitting nearby, watching the runners. Thankfully, they did not arrest me. Let's just call what I did performance art, OK? Also, thankfully, I see that no one is going up Capitol Hill! I was so wrong! Instead, we turn in front of the Capitol building, where it's nice and flat, and run back on the other side of the National Mall.
Mile 12: 13:27: ... And a tree grows on the Mall. And now it is fertilized. This time, all of God's creation got to see what should never be seen. Tourtists strolling the Mall. Security people. Homeless. Spectators. I. Don't. Care. I catch S. again on this side of the Mall. She says I shrugged my shoulders. I have no idea what that meant!
Mile 13: 13:07: I see the first electronic clock and it says 3:15. 3:15!!! Oh man, I am so off pace! That's a six hour finish! I panic and speed up. We're heading towards the tidal basin.
Mile 14: 11:41: See? panicking is good! I realize here that the official clock time is not my time. Idiot. My watch said something like 2:40 for the 1/2. So now I can slow down again.
Mile 15: 12:51: Slowing down.
Mile 16: 12:16: I pass am ambulance, one of many that day. This looks serious, so I refuse to look. It turns out it was serious. A runner died. I find this out last night. So heartbreaking. Marathons are deadly serious business and we must never forget that.
Mile 17: 13:14: Am entering the feared Haine's point. The wind has picked up a bit. Haine's point is a peninsula known for its winds and for being a desolate part of the course because there are no spectators out here. Last year, it went on for miles (it's a 3-mile loop). Lulu had said she would join me at mile 17, and there she is! I had warned her I might not be able to talk, but I manage a few words here and there. She has kindly brought Gatorade, and happily dumps it into my water bottle. She also has a garmin, so I tell her to keep me at 12:30, no 12:40 min. mile pace. I swear she's running 10 min. miles, just to trick me.
Mile 18: 13:09: Lulu is trying her best, but look what she's got to work with?
Mile 19: 15:14: And it's the tummy again. This time near the Haine's Point golf course. I tell Lulu she should turn away, but forget to tell that to the other 5,000 runners. After I finish, we see several people barfing their brains out. I say, "Thank God I'm not barfing!," and Lulu gives me a look, like "Please, must you tempt fate?"
Superman (my work colleague) jumps in here, cleverly avoiding my last roadside episode. He gets a lot of attention! I'm so glad I get to escort him.
I run right past Susie and David, who are waiting at the base of the on ramp to the 14th St. bridge. Superman tells me that someone just said my name. He says, "Who is it?" I say, "I have no idea." I'm expecting Susie at the other side of the 14th street bridge, so it takes a few minutes to register that she and David are here on this side! They jump in and start running.
I now have an official entourage! I feel like royalty! Lulu, Superman, Susie, and David! We power up the ramp to the bridge, where I saw D. and C. from work. C. shoots some photos. Mile 20 starts at the top of the ramp.
l-r: Superman, Lulu, and moi
l-r: Superman (he's so shy!), moi, and David
Mile 20: 13:15: The bridge? Is a bitch. The wind is bad. I run for a bit, and then on and off I say "fading," like I'm a piece of electronic equipment giving a warning. As I fade i move to the right and walk. But my entourage is there encouraging me on. I do a lot of run/walking across this effing bridge.
Susie has Dianna on the phone and hands it to me. The first thing I say is "I went out too fast!" Dianna says "No kidding!" along with some encouraging words, and I finish by saying "I love you." I'm heartened to know that when I finally do go completely bonkers, it will not be the angry version of insane; it will the slobbering lovefest version. Because I really do love everyone. I cannot believe all these people are here to help me! I LOVE EVERYONE! No cursing at anyone this year.
I'm listening to Billy Bragg singing, "You're an accident waiting to happen!," which of course I sing out loud, with every refrain. God, I have a Great Voice! Who knew? Susie advises me, wisely, to save my breath.
And then, in a gesture worthy of Florence Nightingale, she offers to carry my water belt for me. It's like heaven on earth getting rid of that thing. I almost cry with joy.
Mile 21: 12:46: Noooo! The bridge is only one mile! How is mile 21 in the middle of this bridge? HOW?
Mile 22: 15:54 Finally off the bridge and into Crystal City, Virginia. There's a line of portapotties and no waiting. Oh, the luxury of a real toilet! Lulu says good-bye before I duck into one. I can't believe she's leaving so soon! Time stands still in a marathon. When it's not biting you in the ass, that is. Superman ducks into another portapotty. And just like the real Superman? He disappears. Susie tells me we can't wait for him, so off we go. Maybe that was the real Superman, after all.
Mile 23: 13:22: Now, it's just me, Susie and David. Susie reminds me I can just run slowly. BRILLIANT! I swear, the thought hadn't occurred to me. My left knee started hurting on the bridge and I'm doing my best to ignore it. I get strange bursts of speed and then totally fade. I am out of water, so ask Susie to run on to the next water stop and fill my bottle. Before she returns, David and I reach the water stop and we walk thru it, but don't see Susie. I figure she'll catch up to us. I figure wrong.
Mile 24: 14:03: David is great. He helps me keep running. I hug David because, well, yes, he's a nice guy, and all, but I suddenly notice that I am freezing and that he is quite warm. Warm feels good! What is wrong with me? Where has my cynical bitch gone? Last year at this point I was hurling curse words at Bex and Naomi! There is nothing to see from mile 24 on. It's all concrete. Spectators are sparse. The Pentagon comes into view and that makes it feel like we're close. We're not close. It's a mirage.
Mile 25: 12:45: Look, a one-mile negative split! Because it is time to get this over with. We're running on a barren highway. Lots of people are walking. Some are barfing by the side of the road. It looks like something out of the Civil War. Somewhere in here is the last water stop, which I walk thru, and then start running again.
Mile 26: 13:09 I finally make it, and say good-bye to David, because this is where the chute starts.
Mile .2 2:48 (hey my goal was 2:30!): The last .2 miles begins with an uphill that is brutal. I ran this uphill every single Saturday during training. Funny, it didn't feel so hard then. I am by myself now, and take out my headphones so I can hear the crowd roaring for me. I want to walk so badly but I refuse. I feel like there are lead weights on my legs running up that hill. Lots of people are walking, but I'm not one of them. Several times I try to kick it in, but I don't think it's working. Point two miles is a long freakin' chute! I can't even see the finish. Finally, it comes into view. I try to remember to smile and not look at my watch. At the very last minute I think I should raise my arms but it's half-assed so I'm pretty sure I screwed that photo up.
Yes, I kissed another Marine. It was good. Was it good for him? Who cares?! Collected my medal. It took an eternity to get a stupid space blanket but I was freezing. This year I remembered to look up to see the Iwo Jima Memorial. (It's huge. It's right there at the finish line, and last year I missed it.) I follow the signs to have my photo taken in front of it.
And then? I'm in a daze. Last year my posse was waiting at the finish, telling me what to do, but this year my posse had been very busy running me in. And the rest of my posse, David, Rich, Michele (who I never met!), and Bex, had all come in earlier. The place where we planned to meet ("under the letter 'Z'") was a million miles away. I had to retrieve my bag from Charity Village, which was in the opposite direction from "Z." My knee was killing me. My stomach was killing me. I was trying to remember what to eat, but felt nauseated. I grabbed water and a drinkable yogurt and carried them around.
I limped over to Charity Village to collect my stuff and had my photo taken there, and got another medal from the Organization for Autism Research. They gave me ice for my knee, too. I was getting cold. My phone battery was dying, but I reached David. He was far away, waiting for his ride.
So, I slowly limped my way to my parked car, which was a solid mile away, but I bet all the walking was good for me.
I drove home alone, elated.