10.29.2008

My MCM Review, or in a Word...OoohRah!!

28 days before the beginning of my 40th year, I ran 26.2 miles, for the second time within 10 months, with 30,000 anonymous friends and the support of the United States Marine Corps. That kinda makes a girl feel special.

Scott and Annelise saw me start, then they made their way to the Washington DC Zoo. Annelise had an appointment with a panda. I tell myself they saw me start, but really, who am I kidding? I have never seen such a seething swarm of humanity making its way across the start line.

This was my first time to participate in an event so enormous, twice the size of the Houston Marathon. There were always people in front of me and behind me, which was comforting to my inner slow poke self. I never felt left behind, in the dust of faster runners.

Race morning was cold and clear. In a word, perfect. I wore my pink tank, black skirt and I borrowed Kristi's tip of wearing thigh length socks on my arms for warmth. As the sun rose, there were breathtaking views to appreciate.


See the sea of humanity ahead of me, through the fog, way-yyy down the road? Yeah, this was a HUGE race.

For a large part of the race, I leap frogged with The Juggler. That was fun. I don't know how he managed to juggle for 26.2 miles, but he did.

See, there we are along the Potomac somewhere. I was probably huffing it and he made it look easy by juggling.

The course was absolutely amazing. So many sights to take in and tons of spectator support along the way. I had to shake my head sometimes and realize I wasn't dreaming, I really WAS running beside Arlington National Cemetery, along the Potomac, behind the Lincoln Memorial or through the Mall.

Or by the Jefferson Memorial for instance.

There was a brief moment while in Georgetown I wanted to call it a day and just go shopping.

The presence of the Marines was so inspiring. They were at street closures along the course, the mile markers, the water/Powerade stations and at the finish.

They were clean cut, polite, and seemed terribly young. The Marines cheered for us, some pushed us along with a bit of good ol' Marine Corps verbal intimidation and a bull horn, and they cleaned up our messes. I was (and still am) humbled by their service.

Each water station resembled this. It was slippery and yucky, but I was grateful for the fluids. If you think this was bad, you should have seen the orange carnage at Mile 9, the Clif Shot muck at Mile 13 and the Sport Beans residue at Mile 19.

I tried to get a self-portrait with the Washington Monument, and couldn't get it. Then I realized it was in the reflection. Cool.

I felt really strong though Mile 15 or so, then hit a bit of a slump. I was in such a daze I completely missed running by the White House around Mile 17. Duh! My mojo returned briefly between Miles 18-22.

There were several high school and college bands playing along the course and other music too. This drum group was really cool.

I waited until Mile 5 or so to start listening to my iPod, then I only used one ear bud to stay somewhat tuned in to everything around me. It really came in handy at certain will crushing points along the course, like hills and when I thought my feet were about to fall off. In honor of Annelise, Olivia, Kim and other tweeny-boppers, myself included, I added songs from Hairspray and High School Musical 1 and 2 to my play list. I must admit that those catchy, saccharine dripping tunes became my favorites during several points of the race.

Thankfully, I beat the bridge!! You had to make it to the bridge at Mile 20 by a certain time in order to finish and not be swept up by the loser mobile.

The bridge however seemed to stretch for an eternity. And then a tad longer.

Soon after the bridge we entered Crystal City and the course looped where you ran beside runners that were ahead of you.

I REALLY wanted to be on the opposite side with them. I started to struggle a lot between miles 22-24 because my Garmin was registering about half a mile MORE than what the course markers were saying, so in my mind I was running farther. And I wanted to be finished, because my Garmin said I should be closer to the finish than I was. Does that make sense? I had started my Garmin when I stepped on the timing mat at the start line and it was always approximately .5 MORE than each mile marker. When I finished it said I had run 26.76 miles. Hmm...bitter much?

Anyway, that discrepancy played with my mental mojo a LOT. I also had started walking more than running, so I was kinda mad at myself for that too. My left IT band had gotten pretty tight and my knee had been yelping for a while.

I really want to know whose idea it was to plan the finish line up. a. hill.

Seriously sadistic.


But, look... I finished!!! (Yes, The Juggler and the Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead guy beat me.)

After getting my picture taken in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial (how cool is that?!?!), I collapsed in a heap on my Mylar blanket to stretch. I was in such a daze I didn't take any pictures. I managed to find Scott and Annelise in the sea of humanity and limped my way to the Finish Festivities.

However, it turns out I wasn't feeling too festive. We slowly made our way to the Metro station at Rosslyn (another seething mass of humanity) and a sweaty ride (sorry lady beside me) back to Alexandria. And a shower.

After that, I was somewhat revived and completely, shamelessly starving. I said I wanted to eat a burger as big as my head.

And so I did. With bacon too. Bless you, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the hotel shuttle that drove us there.

Thank you Marine Corps Marathon and Washington DC for helping me celebrate my 40th birthday a little early. It was spectacular!

Ooooh and a Rah.

32 comments:

  1. Way to go Holly! I'm so proud of you. Good job at the play-by-play; I felt like I was right there with you.

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  2. You did awesome Holly! I know because I saw you as you were approaching Crystal Drive and I was on my way out. (if only you could hear my shouts!) Did you get some gummy candies or pretzels from the saints on that stretch of road? They saved my life!! I'm so bummed we never met up, but I felt just like you did after the race. Not in the mood to do any celebrating. I didn't even call my family to tell them I had finished!

    Anyway, I love your recap and your pictures, especially the one of the fog on the Potomac. That was a beautiful sight! I hope you enjoyed your running tour of DC :)

    Oh...the infamous joggler! He is a fixture in the DC running scene. I'm pretty sure he runs every major race in the DC area (at least he's been at every one that I've run).

    That bridge! Ooh, I could kill that bridge. You're absolutely right, it kept going and going and going. Who knew?!

    Great job! We'll see you again next year? :)

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  3. way to go, holly! what a fantastic recap. i am trying desperately to reignite my own dreams of accomplishment!

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  4. Yeah you! That was so fun to read! My favorite part was the Anthropologie. Oh, and the burger and fries. Mmmmmm... burger and fries....

    I'm so impressed with you. I'm glad you recorded it all so well, so that I don't feel like I have to do it myself.

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  5. How fun!! Congrats on your accomplishment!

    I lived in DC for a summer in college, so it was fun to see all of the places in your pictures that I frequented. Oh and Georgetown? My whole summer's salary was spent there!


    Congrats again, it looked like a fun race!

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  6. oh, I am so happy! I am typing this comment through teary eyes. right now I am just struggling to run for 30 minutes! But, when I run, I always think of you and what you have accomplished. I love that you used to be a non runner and now you have embraced it. That is me, too, and your journey gives me strength and motivation to keep going myself! thank you thank you.
    I love your recap, it made me feel as if I were there, too. I have been to many of those places and wow, what a fantastic place for a marathon! amazing! i just feel overwhelmed and ferklempt right now! thank you for finishing and setting a wonderful example to me! Please tell A. to give you a big hug from me! I mean it!

    PS I love those teeny bopper songs, too, they get me pumped...embarassing, huh? :o)

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  7. oh, I am so happy! I am typing this comment through teary eyes. right now I am just struggling to run for 30 minutes! But, when I run, I always think of you and what you have accomplished. I love that you used to be a non runner and now you have embraced it. That is me, too, and your journey gives me strength and motivation to keep going myself! thank you thank you.
    I love your recap, it made me feel as if I were there, too. I have been to many of those places and wow, what a fantastic place for a marathon! amazing! i just feel overwhelmed and ferklempt right now! thank you for finishing and setting a wonderful example to me! Please tell A. to give you a big hug from me! I mean it!

    PS I love those teeny bopper songs, too, they get me pumped...embarassing, huh? :o)

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  8. YEAH! Glad you are home safely and you had such a wonderful time. I love all your pictures and memories from the run. Did you get my text on Sunday? I'm also glad you got to enjoy your iPod some...and Macy would have been proud of you too for all your High School Musical songs. :) I am so proud of you...you did great. And what a great 40th birthday. Love ya!

    See you tonight.

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  9. Way to go... You have inspired me and this Saturday I am doing my very first 5K... It is not nearly as excited as your marathon but I am pumped about it. I probably will not even run the whole thing but I am excited and ready to go! It is a steping stone right?!

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  10. Congrats and thanks for the great race report! Loved the pictures!

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  11. Go Holly!!! It takes guts to run 26ish miles and to do it in another state!!! I am soooo proud of you!

    Thanks for the postcard! K-man would have loved the blue room too!

    Love ya!

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  12. Way to go girl!! I got goose bumps reading about it! My step-son is a new Marine...I just might have to do this one! You are inspiring. Thanks for sharing! I would love to hear more details!

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  13. YAY Holly! Fantastic pictures and report - I felt like I was there - without the 26.2 miles of running of course :) Five Guys is the best - what a way to end it! You are awesome!!

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  14. What a great recap of the race and what good pictures! My mom and I ran too, but did not bring cameras--darn! We saw the juggler but didn't know what that bobble-head thing was! Did the man on the bike with the music ride near you? That was great encouragement. Congrats on finishing. Your post was fantastic.--Alison

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  15. I'm just teary reading this!
    wow holly-- great job!!!!!!
    great job on the posting too- I love the photos- you ran with your camera... YOU ROCK

    I just can't get over this- AMAZING!
    yOU ARE my InspIratioN :)

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  16. WOnderful post!! YEA for you! What a terrific birthday present for yourself and it seems like an amazing place to run!

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  17. Holly...you are amazing. It sounds like a great trip, a great race ( you should be VERY proud ), a bunch of great sights, and a really great burger.

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  18. Oh and the most important thing? HAPPY HAPPY birthday. If you were here I'd make you a red velvet cake!

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  19. I knew you would love HSM and am glad that the tunes got you through a hump! The pics are beautiful!!!!! I am so incredibly proud of you. YOU ROCK!!!! Can't wait to hear more and more!!! Love you!

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  20. I have been checking to see when I'd see a marathon post! CONGRATS! Yay for you. Fun to experience it all through your eyes . . .

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  21. I enjoyed every word and every picture Holly! Congratulations on finishing the race and on your
    40th!

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  22. I've been waiting for the report. I could not have done anything like this, and I'm so impressed with your capacity to train and complete it! It will be something you can always remember in the moments of trial or adversity. If I did that, then I can do this.

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  23. congrats!! how fun. you rocked another 26.2, girl! I am so excited for you. and I'm excited that you had my most very favorite post-race refueling meal--burgers as big as my head + fries. perfect blend of carbs, protein, and the much needed sodium. love it!

    so when/where's your next race??? :)

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  24. I am so glad you had a great time. DH and had dinner in Old Town Alexandria Saturday and we were walking around and shoppingi before our reservation. A woman with almost the same haircut as you passed us and I did a double take thinking it may be you. But it wasn't. But it did remind me to offer up a little prayer for you on Sunday. You are an inspiration.

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  25. You did it! I'm so excited for you and your pictures are so good! Loved reading this post. Really wished I could've met you in person while you were here. Come again next year!

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  26. I loved the play by play. What an accomplishment...26.2. Congrats!

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  27. Congratulations! Looked like an amazing marathon and a fantastic way to celebrate your birthday a little early!

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  28. Thanks so much everyone for your support and encouragement! It means a lot to me.

    The Houston Half in January is my next race. Nothing on the horizon after that--hmmm...better start looking.

    TJ: You are SO right. Running (whatever the distance) has changed my attitude about difficult or challenging circumstances. If I can run XX miles, well then I can do/bear just about anything else.

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  29. what a great post race post! I love the pictures; you did great running and still getting some great shots! it almost made me want to try a marathon there....almost! what a great great accomplishment and a great place to do it! also love the finish prizes you got, including the burger! :)

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  30. Oh Holly! I'm so proud of you. You inspire me to try running again. I love that you took pics along the way. Really Great!

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  31. I'm a little late in sending congratulations...but they are heartfelt never-the-less. Way to go! I loved all the photos, too!

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  32. I am WAY behind in wishing you the congratulations you so deserve. Way to go with such an amazing accomplishment! And to take photos along the way - you are an amazing woman. My husband's cousin, a former Marine and current US Marshal, ran the race, too. Like you, he was impressed by it all. Thanks for sharing your experience so we can live vicariously through you!

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