Trust me when I say you should grab a drink because this could get long. I’ll mention the expo but the pre-race fun will wait until another day.
I spoke briefly with Marie, the 5:30 pacer, at the expo. I took a pave bracelet but was totally unsure I was going to be able to run with her. Ten days earlier I had torn, small but still a tear, my upper calf muscle. I’d done a lot of walking since then but no running at all. I was hoping I could run the race but, if need be, I’d walk all 26.2 miles.
Race day dawned warmer than I had anticipated. The hotel opened breakfast at 5 for racers. They also ran a special shuttle to the start. I am a be at the race early person so was down waiting for the shuttle by 6. The shuttle, a 15 passenger van, had 20 of us in it. Once at the parking lot, it was easily a mile or more walk to the security check point. Then, on to the UPS trucks for baggage check and a meet up with friends from the charity I ran for.
Ann and I liked to be at the start early. We headed off to the port-a-potty and then the start. Ann had run the race many times previously so she knew where we were headed. She left me at the 5:30 anticipated finish and moved further up the starting corral.
As always, I talked with others around me. I also took in the sights.
Off we started.
I didn’t run with the pace group. I was slightly ahead of them for the first 14 miles. To hit the 5:30 time, I needed to average around a 12:30 mile pace. I was certain I could do that but since I had trained alone I thought alone would be the best way to start the race.
The first five miles, which includes running party the 26 mile sign we will see later is pretty intense. I had already cried during “The Star Spangled Banner” and as the parachutists had floated through the air with American flags. The firemen running in turnout gear also did a number on me. I managed to get through the first five in just a second over an hour so a 12 minute pace. So far, so good.
Miles 6-10 consist of an out and back through Rock Creek Park. As a slower runner, I enjoy our and backs as long as the road is wide enough. I enjoy seeing other runners. Mile 10 included such sites as The Kennedy Center and the Marine Corps Base Quantico Band. I ended ten miles at 2:01 duo still under the pace time but with my calf starting to hurt a bit.
Miles 11-15 contained some tears. Mile 12 is full of signs with photos of service members who have died along with family members holding flags. Tears are hard to contain. Mike 15 contains views of some of our nation’s memorials, like the Jefferson Memorial. My cumulative time at the end of mile 15 was 3:09. I wasn’t horrible off pace but my leg was causing serious issues and I knew I was going to have to walk a bit.
Miles 16-20 were where I walked a couple miles. I also passed other monuments, including the US Capitol. I was way off pace by mile 20 but still Beat the Bridge. Cumulative time 4:30.
My leg started feeling better, having been given a walking break so miles 21-25 should be good. I still wasn’t truly running but I was picking up my walking pace and passing others again. Then, I turned just right at mile 25 to grab a last bit of hydration. I felt the muscle in my calf give again. No stopping for pain now, though. I managed to get to the finish and, though almost in tears, ran the short uphill to the finish line.
There is nothing like finishing a race and having uniformed Marines shaking your hand. That finisher photo in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial brought on more tears.
Finishing time: 6 hours, 17 minutes which includes six miles walked in the middle due to my calf muscle.