Waking up at 0-dark thirty was not pretty this early spring morn. For one, it was Saturday and I survived a vicious week. I hit the snooze button to squeeze in another 15 minutes of sleep -- but no, my digestive system would appreciate it, if I rose now.
Finally, I dragged myself out of bed at 0415 and went straight to the kitchen, toasting three small wheat bagels smudged with a double scoop of peanut butter and honey to give me lots of energy. I stuffed this in my tummy and then waited.
I wanted to get the food into my system so that I could the waste out before I left the house. Didn't want to have to wait those long, painful lines for the Potta Potties and dash to the corrals-- which I ended up doing anyway.
After breakfast, I took my detrol to control my bladder (not too many bushes through NW DC), my allegra (spring was here and the cherry blossoms were budding to bloom), my 8-Hour Tylenol (to placate those inflammed muscles and joints that I would experience by Mile 10) and said a quick prayer (for anything and everything that day).
Today was another big door in the journals of my young runner's experience -- I would be running the National Half Marathon today, although I was registered to run the Full (The Half was already filled up weeks in advance and I had no choice but to sign up for the Full).
Certainly I was allowed to register for the Full and just run half, but officially, I would sure to be be disqualified.
The beginning of the run was awesome. Temps in the low 30s, no wind, only 8,000 runners in attendance so plenty of space in front of me. Everything nice and flat and scenic.
The first leg took us to Constitution and the Monuments. Then we hung a right and started heading for the Dupont Circle. Then up the hill on Connecticut Ave to the heart of Adams Morgan where the young and old were still asleep from all the partying the night before.
Then coming down on N Capitol St was nice cuz it was mostly downhill - I was finally getting back what I had put in.
As I was making my way through H Street and at the half way point, a funny thought crossed my mind. I had 2 more miles to go -- didn't want to stop running so soon, and I felt pumped and ready to press on.
What if at the 13.1 mile point, I veer off to the left and continue this race, I thought. This would be the most bizarre run ever.
So it was right there and then, that I decided to bust it loose and go for a full 26 miles-- I know it was such a foolhardy running decision because I had not trained for the full (longest run was 9 miles this year) and I was wearing my Brooks (ST Racers) flats with almost zero support -- not the type of shoe you want to run 26 miles on.
I broke my record on the half -- ran 13.1 miles in 1:49. Not bad and almost 20 minutes faster than my Half Marathon two years ago.
But would I regret going the full distance when I had only planned and prepared to go the Half?
And why would I want to torture myself for another 2 hours plus when I had already reached my goal and scored my personal best? Surely, I had plenty of things to do that day (visiting contractors, calling my realtor, visiting UDC) , none the least of which included hitting the streets of DC including south of the Anacostia River for another couple of hours.
At Mile, 17 -- it hit me, just as I was hitting my stride. Oh no, the dreaded blisters on the sole of my feet (same as last year) -- spurred on by my flats and its inability to provide necesarry cushion and support. I passed near L'Enfant Metro -- the thought about quitting momentarily crossed my mind -- but not, at this point -- I wanted to press on to SW.
Down through the tunnel to the SW Waterfront -- I had to terminate my Marathon now. I pulled a full screech halt, the Metro within a close earshot. Took off my shoes and inspected my feet. They were in pain, but it was not bloody. I would suck it up and pound on.
By now, my pace had slowed to over 9 minutes and I was just trouncing along at a horrid, wicked pace.
Finally I set my sights on the National Ball Park which challenged me to slug on. Wanted to just run over the Frederick Douglas Bridge to my home terrain of Anacostia and just plop down on some grassy lawn somewhere in the Anacostia Park. Had driven on the Bridge a million times, but never ran on it (besides the Pedestrian path), so this was meaningful for me.
The Anacostia Park, though quiet, was actually very nice -- peaceful, scenic and my home turf (I've only ran here once and just for a couple of miles, though, I have shot golf here before).
Then onto Ward 7 (The Marathon covered 5 out of 8 DC Wards) and onto the hilly but idyllic Minnesota Road. Unlike Constitution or Connecticut, there were no tourists this side of town -- but I should know, the local folks were very friendly and accommodating. Many said 'Hi' or just waved in their friendly fashion. It was all they could muster up that day, but it meant the world to me as I struggled physically, but was trying to motivate my mind.
Though, it's rough on the heart, I do love hills -- both running down as well as running up and Minnesota Avenue had a lot of them -- Rolling, Rolling, Rolling.
This is where I started picking up my pace, until I noticed that both the 3:50 and 3:55 pace group had passed me and were starting to make some distance. Bamm! It hit me hard on the asphalt pavement. By now, I started getting scared.
On the last hill, I started hitting the stretch. Then as I remembered from two years ago, the vicious turn onto the East Capitol Street Bridge and final mile into the Finish Line.
I ran so hard that I could feel the blood, hot and heavy, pumping my thighs and my calf muscles -- felt like they were gonna explode.
I ran so hard, that my feet started burning, catching on fire almost. Didn't want to think about the pain. I tuned my brain out, focused on good thoughts and closed my eyes tight, hoping the finish line was near.
As I passed the 26 mile point, I let out a quiet scream of joy then horror -- I suddenly make out the finish clock, alive and large, displaying 3:56 -- Oh no, I had to stretch it out, even if my muscles no longer cared. I had made a poor mistake as it is. Now I had to make it below 4:00 to save my face.
Yes, Made it -- 3:58 Clock Time; 3:55 Chip Time, in fact. Was it my PR? Yes and No -- in actuality I had coincidentally matched my PR from last year's MCM. But, essentially yes, since I was 20 seconds faster this time and could have sliced several minutes off if I hadn't stopped to check on the status of my feet.
After the run, I hit a steam bath on base, got a quick Chinese acupressure massage (from Bolling AFB) and now am icing my legs with a cup of ice so that I can quickly and completely recover -- BIG week ahead w/ Hearings.
And thank goodness I'm not nursing my Ego -- that would have taken longer to heal.