After much dithering (read all about it, below), I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K this morning. Here’s a version of the race report I sent to my running group (hence, the pace time details), once I got home, warmed up, decked out in my bright yellow race t-shirt, and had a celebratory mimosa in hand. (Apologies for the text formatting/lack of breaks below — don’t know what’s up with WordPress right now.)
1st alarm went off (to take Synthroid, so I’d be able to eat before leaving the house): 5:01 a.m.
2nd alarm: 6:01 a.m.
Actually out of bed: 6:13 a.m. (in the pitch black darkness)
Temperature at race time: 38 degrees
Number of kids who passed me: A lot, as always
Number of tutus on the course, the day before Halloween: Disproportionate to the number of other costumes on the course
Number of runners running in honor or memory of loved ones who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan: Countless
Finishing the Marine Corps Marathon 10K in 1:05:30: Priceless!
I was still on the fence about even running this race as of 11 p.m. last night. My sure-to-be-cranky back was in such spasm that I had to take a muscle relaxer to be able to sleep. I knew it was going to be COLD — and I don’t run well in the cold. I hadn’t been training, per se, for the race, only getting up to even 4 miles infrequently in the last YEAR. (Last week’s attempt at a longer run ended badly when I got bad blisters inside my arches at the 40-minute mark of my run.) I’d have to battle parking and Metro to get downtown for the start.
Wouldn’t it be just as “easy” to get up and run 6.2 miles on the treadmill and call it a day?, I was thinking last night.
Yet, I still dragged out my cold-weather running clothes, laid out my water belt and pinned my bib to my shirt. And this morning, I got up in the cold darkness and headed to the King Street metro station. I rode on a packed train, full of runners and spectators, to the Mall.
I got off the train, and it hit me: THIS is why I race. The buzz of the crowd and the pre-race adrenaline rush made all those cranky thoughts I had at 11 p.m. last night disappear.
I ran around a little to get warmed up (as much as my cold-blooded body can ever warm up) and then headed to my corral: 1:00-1:09 expected finish time. (I kept alternating between not having a goal for this race and really wanted to finish sub-70 minutes, so I made my best guess.)
It was SO COLD at the race start, but the adrenaline helped me not to notice it. It was an easy first couple of miles — actually more relaxed than I expected, though I had to remind myself not to go out too fast — to keep my own pace and not get swayed by other, faster runners. It was a good strategy — I hit the 1 mile mark at 11:01, and the 2 mile mark at 22:00. I was feeling GOOD at that 11 minute pace….so I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the 3 mile mark at 32:30, and then the 4 mile mark at 43:00. (Especially because we hit several VERY slick spots along the course thanks to the cold weather and yesterday’s sleet, which slowed the whole crowd down — lots of tentative, small steps all around.)
I started to flag a little heading toward mile 5, but I kept hearing my coach’s voice in my head on the uphills (short strides!) and a fellow running team member’s on the downhills (“Remember, we have hips! Use them to help propel you down the hill.”) Then the song “Rescue Me” came on just as I hit the 5 mile marker, and I was good to go. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga got me through the last half of mile 6, up the steep Iwo Jima hill and across the finish line. Final watch time: 1:05:30. Not bad for the first “long” run I’ve done since the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 2009.
It was so fitting that “Born This Way” was the last song of my run “I’m on the right track baby/I was born this way”). I was thinking a lot during the race that although my body has failed me in so many ways in the last five years, it actually never has on the race course. I may not (ever) be the fastest runner out there, but this body, thyroid-free and all, has gotten me across a lot of finish lines. And for that, I’m grateful.
Today’s race got me even more excited for two more to come in November: the end-of-season Cancer to 5K race next weekend (followed by celebratory brunch) and Thanksgiving’s Trot for Hunger (followed by celebratory fried turkey). Bring it on!