I had the content of this blog post geared up around, oh….mile 21. Where to begin on the lessons learned during my nearly 5 hours of running yesterday’s Marine Corps Marathon?

We’ll start with hellish Saturday, where everyone’s best friends Icy Rain and Freezing Cold graced us with their presence. Would THIS be our fate for Sunday morning? The thought of dropping out crossed my mind if so.

With out-of-town guests, it was the most imperfect day for sightseeing and traveling around DC. The MCM Expo was a carnival! There were so many people that it wasn’t really even enjoyable to experience, though I did have to pay props to my favorite expo brand:

Sweaty Bands are the only ones that work for me!

Then, I unexpectedly ran into Alyssa, whose blog I just started reading a few weeks ago! I felt like such a dork but when I recognized her, I knew I had to say hello! Plus, I know blogger girls in the healthy living world and they are all nice and fabulous. Of course, she was no different and was very excited to say hello:

Hello blogger buddy, fancy meeting you here!

After a lot of walking (not recommended) the day before MCM, we hit the only suitable place in Rosslyn where my parents were staying — Red, Hot & Blue. We had a lot of fun posing with Elvis:

This one was for Grandma Sharon — who loves Elvis more than anyone I know!

On race morning, the rain thankfully went away. The cold? Not so much. It was hard to decide what to wear! I eventually went with long, black pants, a long sleeve dry fit with a short sleeve dry fit over it, and gloves.

When I thought it was going to be a breeze!

But, it was so cold (in the 30s I think) that we had to start out with major layers. I didn’t throw off this sweatshirt till around mile 6 and mom kept her stuff on for even longer. We were also running with my mom’s friend, Crystal, but she was going a bit faster so we ended up parting ways with her at the start.

First time its snowed in October in like decades. Awesome.

I had promised my mom I’d run with her. But, fresh off my hilly PR in Baltimore, I felt kind of invincible. Surely, cruising through MCM at sub-4 would be easy…right? Minutes before race time, I asked my mom on a scale of 1-10 how much she wanted me to stay with her. She said a lot and mentioned that my legs would NOT be ready for this after Baltimore. I said okay and figured we’d have some good mother-daughter bonding time for the next 4+ hours. Let the lessons begin.

Just starting out…before we wanted to die.

 Lesson #1: Your legs really do not recover 2 weeks after running a marathon — no matter how “recovered’ they feel.

After just five miles, I said to my mom, “I’m already glad I decided to pace with you.” At this point, I was still thinking the rest of the race would be a breeze. My very best ten minutes of the entire race were running through the streets of Georgetown to music and tons of fans. It was the happiest of all happy runs — feeling like I could sail through a marathon like it was nothing. It didn’t last long. Here is the video I took during that time:

Lesson #2: Just because you are planning on a slow, fun marathon doesn’t mean you can skimp on the nutritional rules the week before.

I could immediately tell I had not fueled like I did for Baltimore. For Baltimore, I had been really diligent in drinking tons of extra water, Gatorade and being sure I got all my fruits and veggies daily. I didn’t drink any alcohol and got plenty of sleep. I was marathon-focused. For MCM, I kind of paid attention to those things but it was mostly an afterthought. Well, that didn’t bode well for me.

Lesson #3: If you are PMSing the day before the marathon, don’t just assume it will go away.

Yeah, I didn’t take any Midol or pain meds before the race. My tummy was a wreck most of the time, nevermind the fact that I had no idea if my period would start or not. Sorry for the TMI, but it was a fact of this race. I also had to pee more than usual, despite the fact that I drank minimal liquid before the race. These factors combined made me stop at a bathroom twice, which probably took at the very least 10 minutes of racing time. I didn’t stop at all in Baltimore and I can see now how bathroom stops can really affect your PR.

I was definitely committed to staying with Mom during the race but at a water stop around mile 15, I stopped to stretch and somehow we lost each other. I stopped several times to watch people go by and see if she was behind me — but it turns out, she was in front of me so I was losing her by even more. This, again, probably added at least 5+ minutes to my time. By this point, I had given up hope of any kind of respectable time so I told myself not to push too hard and try to enjoy the run. No pressure.

That helped but things did not get easier. My legs were aching, my knee hurt, my stomach was churning and to top it off, I had a pounding headache. The ONLY time I get headaches is when I’m hungover — seriously. So, this was an unpleasant surprise. But my only option was to keep moving.

Maggie was all over the course looking for me but somehow, we NEVER saw eachother! 🙁 However, I was texting during the race and she was a great encouragement, despite the fact that my texts were pretty depressing things like this:

Around mile 19 or 20, I began to truly realize how much diligent preparation and dedication it takes to run a good marathon. You can’t just got out there and wing it like I did for yesterday. Also, the two marathons in two weeks things is almost never going to be a win-win. Last year, when I did Chicago and MCM three weeks apart, I did awesome in MCM. However, I hadn’t overtrained and my body was ready for MCM that day. This year, it was the other way around.

At mile 22, I heard the time was something like 4:15 and I was thinking, how in the world did I run that crazy, hilly Baltimore Marathon in 4:11 two weeks ago? I’m as slow as molasses today and this isn’t even uphill! As I sit here today, my legs aren’t even sore! Two weeks ago, I was walking like freak for four days! However, I accepted the fate of my time, even though I was reading signs that said things like, “Pain is only temporary but finishing times are on the Internet forever.” Not comforting!

In reality, I know hardly anyone in your real life cares about your finishing time but…as a marathoner, you just can’t help but care!

At mile 24, I thought 2 more miles sounded like an eternity. I could not believe I thought this was going to be easy! I just shuffle jogged along and praised God when the 26-mile marker came up. As we rounded the last .2 an the crowds got loud and large, my energy revived a bit but not much. At MCM, you are truly the center of attention because the crowds are up higher than you…you literally feel like some kind superstar (except I really didn’t!). Finally I crossed the finish line, feeling…not so great.

Glorious end at the Iwo Jima Memorial

Then, I got a text from Rick saying he was there and had seen me cross. That actually made me feel a lot better. It meant a lot to me that he came again this year to watch me finish and support me in that way. Running is not his thing but I loved him for being there for me and seeing him minutes later made me feel a lot better. Unfortunately, we were seperated by a fence and getting out was a hassle. I had to sit down because I felt like I was going to pass out! I feel really nauseous and weak — it was not a strong finish for me. 

“Lucky I’m in love with my best friend.”

We slowly walked back to the hotel and met up with mom and dad. Since there is almost nothing good to eat in Rosslyng (within walking distance, because road’s were a mess, metro was packed, and three marathoners didn’t want to walk far!), we went back to Red, Hot and Blue. It wasn’t the greatest post-marathon meal but it would do.

Obviously, we had to do this.

I needed about a million kinds of beverages but when with the essentials: water, diet coke and beer. A lot of people say they like to drink after marathons but it never suits me well. I had like 2 beers and that was plenty. My body always feels confused after marathons. It doesn’t know if should be hungry, thirsty, sleeping or what. Finally, went home around 6pm and fell asleep around 8, totally exhausted!

Do I still want to run Myrtle Beach in three months? Yes. How about Rock n’ Roll in four months? Well, now I’m not so sure. If they are actually a month apart, maybe. Less than that, I may stick with the half for Rock n’ Roll. Anyway, I have the day off to spend with Mom — and now we are off to get a massage!

FREE: Simple Faith Practices for Busy MomsYes, please!