Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

I Ran a Marathon…and I Didn’t Die

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Saturday, October 26th, 2014, twenty some thousand marathon hopefuls assembled near the pentagon to run the 39th Marine Corps Marathon.

I, along with my partner in crime, Cindy, was among them.

In the days leading up to the marathon, we had devised a plan – a plan that we failed to follow. My painstaking interrogation of veteran MCM runners was only useful if we followed the plan. Not following the plan = fail. Oh well, live and learn.

The plan, if you are so inclined to know, was as follows:
  1. Arrive early. Not a little early, but a lot early. This requires staying at a hotel close to the race the night before and being at the Metro station right when (if not before) they open at 5am. Ideally, we’d be at the pentagon before 5:30am which would allow PLENTY of time to drop our bag and use the bathroom. 
  2. Drop a bag containing a snack, portable phone charger, a jacket, and Ribeye – my stuffed bison and the GBC Mascot.
  3. Use the bathroom – this should not require any explanation.
  4. Be at a pace group that is 20-30 minutes faster than what we run. Considering the size of the event, I had been forewarned of bottlenecking that occurs beyond the start. It was explained to me that you should get in a faster pace group, run your pace and allow them to pass you, and that eventually your pace group will catch you and you just need to cruise with them.
What actually happened was:
  1. We were over confident about the location of the hotel in reference to the race and we hit the Metro at 6:15, boarded a train that was PACKED FULL of other runners – I’m talking sardine packed - and we arrived at 6:30ish. 
  2. Once at the pentagon, we hopped in the bathroom line first and unfortunately that meant an hour long wait – no really – AN HOUR! If you didn't have to go when you got in line, you most certainly did when you got to the front of the line. I think it was at the 45 minute point that those in line started shouting “motivational statements”. “Finish Fast.” “Squish it Out!” and “Hey, up in front…pay attention.” 
  3. Cindy and I ran to the baggage drop, giving each other a quick hug before all but throwing our bags at the attendants. 
  4. We disappeared into crowds to get to somewhere relatively close to our desired pace group. Cindy managed to navigated through the crowd that lined the side of the corral, somehow making it to her actual pacers and climbed over the side. I took the direct approach and went right into the corral, parting it like the Red Sea with a series of “Pardon Mes” and “Excuse Mes.” I landed somewhere between 4:30 and 4:45. 
I was not happy. Cindy was not happy either.

We missed all the pomp and circumstance, barely saw the fly over and paratroopers, and before I could take a breath, the race started.

That is not to say that I crossed the start line at that point – no – I began the very slow shuffle in that direction. Once over the starting line, the bottlenecking that I was warned about was way worse than I could have ever imagined. It was impossible to settle into any kind of a pace out the gate. There were just way too many people.

There were moments that I had become hopeful that things were thinning out and that I could start to settle into a rhythm, but it was not happening. As soon as I’d get comfortable, the road would narrow and everyone would crowd into the center causing us to run a good minute or so slower.

Despite not being able to maintain my happy pace, the first half seemed to just fly by. There was a great deal of scenery and crowd support.

Then it all went downhill and not in the sense of elevation.

I got mowed over at a water stop.

The scenario went like this:

I ran into a water stop on the left. The person in front of me slowed from a full run to all but a total standstill. I slowed down as a result. The woman behind me did NO SUCH THING. She stepped on my left heel, causing me to completely lose my shoe and throwing me off balance. Had it not been for the soldier working the stop, I’d have hit the ground but he caught me by the arm and pulled me upright. Another runner snagged my shoe and handed it to me. I then got asked if I wanted to see the medical tent, to which I said, “NO.”

I just wanted to finish.

The second half of the race was not pretty. The temperature went up and the winds started. I had to walk off muscle spasms in my leg from time to time because I’d pulled something thanks to the water stop mishap. Despite that, I kept going. Much like the title of a book I have, it was “Relentless Forward Progress.” Nowhere in that title does it say “Pretty” or “Painless.”

All that mattered was “Progress.”

I pushed forward, grateful for the running buddies that cheered me on along the course and for the Annapolis Striders water stop, around mile 23 - an oasis of morale support complete with photos, soda, and hugs.

Photos courtesy of Bad A** Coach, Rachel Ratel
In the final stretch, I ran into a fellow strider and running buddy, Kelly. We both commiserated with each other through a single look and then agreed that we need to get this S**T done and that we'd do it together.

The last mile seemed to go on forever but I was thrilled to turn the corner to find the uphill climb I'd been waiting for - the Iwo that led to the finish line and my Soul Sister, Cindy standing just on the other side of it.

So there you have it, marathon number one in the books. Only minor injuries and some sun/wind burn to speak of but I didn't die. The really ridiculous thing is, I am looking forward to doing it again.

Love, Theresa
Finish Time: 04:57:06
7 comments on "I Ran a Marathon…and I Didn’t Die"
  1. Good job on your race! Good that you didn't let your water stop mishap throw you off. Maybe a smaller marathon next time?

    ~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home

    1. A smaller marathon is in my future but not one that is a PR kinda race. I'm revisiting Blue Ridge in April - because I'm crazy and I just really loved that race.

  2. Oh no! Loosing your shoe, not idea! But thankfully it happened nearer the beginning...can you imagine trying to get up after tying your shoe at mile 25? UGH! Glad you ran into a buddy for that last mile, and most of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You are a marathoner! I am sure you will be hooked now :)

    1. Tina, I am totally hooked. I'm running Disney in January. I've totally lost my mind.

  3. Awesome job on your run! You finished and that's the important thing! So cool you are a marathoner now! I hope to do one some day! :)

    1. Sharon, I never imagined that I would ever do a marathon. Now that I have, I can't not imagine not doing another one. When you are ready, you'll do it and I'll help cheer you on.

  4. I can't believe that girl tripped you up! UGH! At least you were caught in the arms of a soldier. sigh...awesome. Great job completing your marathon! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! xoxoxo