I will be honest. I have struggled to write about Marine Corps Marathon.
Because I’m not proud of my finish. I’m not happy with my time. I’m not thrilled with how I felt.
I’ve been grappling with it. I’ve been wrestling with the feelings of disappointment. It’s not easy. But I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and it’s going to be okay. I am competitive – but only with myself. Thousands of people crossed the line before me – but I wanted to cross the line before my own best time, and in under 4 hours.
So where did I end up? 4:48:11.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot. About what happened. About what went wrong.
And here is the conclusion I have come to: A finish line is a finish line, and I need to be grateful that I was able to cross it.
It may not have been the time I hoped for. It may not have been the race I worked so hard for. But I finished. And not everyone can say that they run 26.2 miles for fun. Not everyone can say they run 26.2 miles at all. I need to adopt the attitude of gratitude that this season and that racing should be all about.
The day started at 5 a.m. Last year I got to the Pentagon and Runner’s Village really early and sat and froze for about 2 hours. So this year I figured I’d arrive a little later, so I didn’t have so long to wait.
Here lies my first issue. I arrived at the Metro station at 5:45, stood on the platform while waiting for the train to arrive, and hear an announcement that went something like this: “There may be delays on the blue line, as a train has hit a deer. They are working to clear the tracks.”
Shortly after, the train arrived, and by around 6:10 I was at the Pentagon walking toward the safety check point. There were a lot of people there already. I mean, a lot. Last year I walked right in. This year, the experience was different.
Maybe it was because of the delays at the metro stations – but thousands of people arrived at nearly the same time. And we stood. For 2 hours. In the rain, waiting to get through security.
The race starts at 7:55 a.m. with the sounding of the Howitzer. At 7:55 myself and those thousands of other people were still standing in line waiting to get in to runner’s village.
It was stressful. Stressed is not a great way to start a race.
Once they finally started moving people through faster, I walked in, dropped my stuff at bag check, used the porta potty, and found the starting line. At 8:20 a.m.
From the first running steps I could tell that both physically and mentally I wasn’t feeling quite right. Both the stress of missing the official start, and walking around Washington D.C. for miles the previous days had taken quite a bit out of me. Not to mention the fact that when you start late, and not in a pace group, you start with whoever is around you – which includes some really fast folks, and some slower folks.
The first 5 – 7 miles of my race where a lot of weaving in and out of crowds of people, and those that stopped to walk in the middle of the course. I am grateful that at least the rain let up.
By the time I got out of Rock Creek Park and in to Georgetown my race was over. There wasn’t even a way to make up the lost time. And I still wasn’t feeling my best.
And that’s when I decided to just enjoy my surroundings and take some pictures. Each step still felt agonizing. My innards still felt off. I think part of it was the effects of stress. But I am grateful I got to take in the beautiful sights of Washington D.C. There’s no better way to see it than on foot.
MCM truly is a beautiful race. The sun may not have been shining (either literally or figuratively), but the support of the Marines, and the number of participants, and just the general area makes this race worth it. At around 31,000 people, this is the largest race I have ever run.
I wore my Ryu shirt this year, and got many compliments, and had one gentleman ask me about it at the finish line. Ryu – the Dragon – means strength. I definitely needed strength to get through this race. The design of this shirt, the beautiful flowers and the dragon, always inspires. I know that’s a weird thing – but certain shirts or clothing always make me feel different or better at races. I am grateful for the opportunity to wear amazing tech gear.
And of course, the Wear Blue Mile makes it amazing as well. I stopped to take pictures this year. And nearly cried. The support of the family members, the photo signs of the fallen – it still gives me pause even today. The fact that I can run, the fact that I am still here – this is a reason to be grateful.
In the end, I crossed the line. I finished. Upright and smiling – mostly just happy to be done and incredibly tired, but still smiling.
I am grateful to have crossed that line by Iwo Jima Memorial once again. I am grateful to have been there. And I am grateful for the fact that I had more family there this year, and for the continued support of the people in my life.
And of course for the continued support of my husband.
Was it the race I wanted? Was it the race I trained to run? Not exactly. I’ve come to terms with the bad – I’m focusing on the good. That is one huge thing I learned this time around.
With more focus, more training, and different circumstances, I know I can make my goals. Even the bad races have something to teach us. And for that I am grateful as well.
I will continue to try to continue in my attitude of gratitude, no matter what.