I based my mileage off the same Hal Higdon plan I used last year, but I add speed work with the Yasso 800's starting 10 weeks prior to the marathon. I even changed things up a bit and went on vacation for a week two weeks before the marathon. Vacation was great and I would totally do it again this way. However, I do not recommend diving off a Segway. That my friends is another story for another day, but I fell/dove/superman-ed off of a Segway. Thank goodness I only suffered from some bruises on my left leg, left shoulder pain that eventually went away in a few days, and sore right ankle.
I met up with my friends Margaret and Gabe on Friday morning at the airport for our non-stop flight to Reagan. We caught the shuttle to our hotel and our rooms was ready so we were able to check in early. We ditched our bags and headed to the expo. I don't usually buy a whole lot at the expo, but I needed to pick up some body glide.
At the expo, we got our bibs, bought t-shirts, and were a little underwhelmed by the actual expo itself so we didn't stick around too long.
We spent the rest of the day wander around the city and grabbing dinner. In for an early night.
On Saturday I had made prior reservations and we got one of the White House Walking tours. Right as we were about to start the tour, on the South Lawn we saw Marine One land. I made my friends wait by the window for about 15 minutes because I had read that the President may be either boarding or getting off. We waited and we saw President Obama board Marine One. Basically he was wishing us good luck at the Marathon. After our self guided tour, we headed to Georgetown for lunch at an Italian restaurant. A friend told me you should make lunch, instead of dinner your bigger meal before a marathon. Makes total sense. We all wandered around Georgetown and then Gabe and I caught a cab to the Rossyln station and we saw the start/finish area. That little cab ride started to put my mind at easy just a little bit. And soon we were back at the hotel to rest our feet. Dinner was had at Chili's and then it was early to bed.
We had prepped everything the night before so basically all we had to do was get up and get dressed. We headed over to the shuttle stop, which was about .2 miles from our hotel, waited in line for about 15 minutes, and then we were at the runner's village before I knew it. At the runner's village there were port-a-potties galore. I got in the line first thing. Grabbed a quick photo. Dropped our bags. Went to the bathroom again. This whole time there were only a few sprinkles of rain. We were feeling pretty good about the rain staying away. And then it was time to make our way to the corrals.
I feel like we were only in the corral for a few minutes before the race started. Gabe and I said goodbye to Margaret as she made her way to the 3:45/ish pacer and Gabe and I stayed back near the 4:00 pacer.
My big, scary, maybe I will, maybe I won't goal was to complete the marathon in under 4 hours. So I picked up one of the 4:00 hour pace bracelets at the expo and new it was within reach. But if I was running in the rain or if something started hurting I knew it wouldn't be possible. As the race started I tried to stay as close as I cold to the pacer, but there were just so many people. I kept sight of the balloons, but after the hill at mile 2, I had pretty much decided there was going to be no way I could keep up with the pacer and would just need to pace myself.
There was another large hill at mile 6. Having trained in Nashville and done several runs at Percy Warner I wasn't too concerned about the hills. But the hill at mile 6 was no joke. My dreams of a 4 hour marathon were kind of disappearing before my eyes. At least I thought they were. And somehow after the hill at mile 6 I caught up with the pacer, well at least I was a more comfortable distance away from him. By the halfway mark I could have ran up to the pack and ran with him and the group following him. But I decided to stay back and just keep him in my sights.
The park that we ran through at 12-15 was kind of miserable. There weren't a whole lot of people out there and it was windy. Like 20 mph winds. But on this part was the only time I got really emotional during the run. Family and friends of Marines who had died in action were lining one side of the course holding flags with the picture and name of the person they were honoring.
Miles 16-20 were great. Lots of crowd support and we were running by all the monuments.
Miles 21-25.5 just kind of sucked. We ran on the freeway, the roads were tiny, and it felt like we made a lot of turns. It also could have been that I was on the backside of the course and just ready to be done. During mile 22, I knew I had my goal within reach. I just had to keep up what I was doing and I should be fine.
About 15 minutes before I was estimating my finish, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came on. Same Love is such an uplifting battle cry for human rights and it was the calm I needed. No joke, I just listened to it 3 times and I was done with the marathon! )Funny thing, at Chicago last year my favorite songs were two other Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gems: My Oh My and Can't Hold Us.) Oh and the hill at mile 26 is no joke. I felt like was one of those bikers on the tour d'france trying to climb a hill and the crowd starts making the course.
I immediately stopped my watch after crossing the finish line and got chocked up. I did it. I finished in under 4 hours. Barely, but I did it. And the rain held off! Last year it was just great to finish the marathon. This year it was a great feeling to finish and achieve a goal. That finisher shirt would be mine! I may have told myself that the only way I was going to buy a finisher's shirt was if I finished in under 4 hours. But, I am sure I would have bought one even if I hadn't finished in under 4 hours.