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(Tips, truths and stuff I don’t want to forget in … sequence-ish except when it isn’t)

So, the marathon was perfect.  It took forever, but I did it and I loved it.  I want to do more but I got really lucky and have lots to improve on before I try and level up.

Tips –

Ditch layer should be a bathrobe filled with tissues.  First, those layers are often donated somewhere locally useful and a reasonable bathrobe can be nice to have, second it helps with leg warmth and sitting on the ground when you get there hours before the start, third it should be filled with tissues because even the Marines can’t stay ahead of the portapottypaper needs.

After struggling with nutrition for months about 80% of what I consumed on the course was what they handed me.  It worked out fine but there were also a lot “comfort stops” so I was never too far away when my stomach went sour.  I carry my own because my Chattanooga half fell down on some basics so I doubt I’ll ever fully trust again but MCM was good to go.

Engage with those who took time to disrupt their schedule to be on the side of road to clap.  I did more high fives yesterday than I have in the last 20 years combined.  If they were young and their sign was gibberish I was elated.  If I should hit the sign for a power up you bet I did.  When I was tired I started asking Marines for high fives and they ma’am’ed me and it was great because it was “grown adult ass woman” ma’am instead “you could be my grammy” ma’am.

Look up.  I was running through the national mall with practically nobody around and often forgot to look up and see the amazing views and monuments.  If you picked a race for it’s location – treat it like you did, not like it is a well trod training run.

Salt sticks.  Everybody has sugar.  Nobody has enough salt.  I gave two different runners a spare salt stick and one of them gave me credit for saving their run because she was cramping at mile 14.

Truths –

I cried.  A lot.  Weeping buckets before the start, and three times on the course.  Why?  So imagine how you felt before you got married, especially if you Had A Wedding that took a ton of planning.  Now, instead of the “but at the end of the day you’ll have a spouse” statement put … nothing.  No confident answer.  Hospitalization is one answer, a medal and a banana is another, a PR, a train wreck … it is ALL available. At the end of the day – the day will be over.  Now move through that day.  I was BARELY trained enough, there was a heat warning, and a spot that the struggle bus would pick me up if I didn’t make it fast enough.

Oct 1 Dave saved my race because he had just the right words when I needed them.  Tracy did the same the night before the race.  Lots of people said lots of good things all along the way but those two moments were pivotal.

I was giddy the whole time, which seems in contradiction to the crying but I don’t think it really was.  I was accepted into this race in Feb of 2015 and deferred 2015 when I was clearly not going to be ready in time (damn was I RIGHT about that) – so it has been the better part of two years that this has shaped and tugged at what I was doing.  All the miles in all the weather and all the times it would have been easier not to – but I ran anyway.

I have never been in a race where I didn’t see at least one person injured, and twice that has been relatively early in the race.  The ambulance came for the head injury at mile 7, anything is possible on race day.

What started  as “I’m training for a marathon” has morphed into “I’m a runner”.  Might not be for the rest of this week – but I am.

I’m super funny in the first 10 or 15 steps getting up out of a chair, airplane seat, etc today.

To remember –

Sunrise over the Pentagon was really pretty.

At the start everyone was motionless and breathless during a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

The helicopters at the start were awesome.

The giant piles of ditch clothing put a new perspective on how many people were running.

Seeing the Howitzer rolled back after the start was just cool.

The man with the dog at the bridge

The lady with the unicorn suit.

The sloth couple

How pretty it was when I remembered to look up

This is going to be too long a list of bullet points – suffice it to say I did it and as of this specific moment I still have all my toenails.

So far.

I did it.  I ran with the marines, at 43 year old.  I’m delighted.




Ok, I’ve reframed “taper” in my mind and made it less about my legs and more about all the torn up parts of me.  It seems that, for me, taper and nesting are really damn similar.  Which is to say – this is some exhausting mental stuff ya’ll.

So… I’m teary eyed these days.  I’m watching a lot of MCM videos to see if I can desensitize myself to the helicopters and howitzer start.  It isn’t working yet.  I’m reading about the temporary nature of pain and trying to make the grand words equate to my hips.

I’m really proud of what I’ve done but with less than 10 training miles between me and race day I made the lists of things aren’t related in any way except their proximity in time.

  • The Cubs are in the World Series.
  • A nation shaping election is on the horizon
  • November 2 would be 20 years in a parallel universe.
  • November 11 will be two years without dad.

That is some sentimental stuff up there.  So.  I saw a two-second meditation video the other day, that every time I recenter my monkey brain on my breath I’ve taken a moment to meditate.

I’m doing that a lot right now.

I’m happy to have the support of those around me who are loving me while I spaz and have my back.  I feel lucky.

One breath. One step. One mile. One run at a time.

This sucks.

I know I can Beat the Bridge.  That will be ok.  After I do that I’ll have another 8 miles and … I will be covering new ground (ha!) for those miles.  It feels like a lot (in large part because it IS a lot).

Tapering is about letting my body sew strength into all those tentative connections made in the long runs of recent weeks.  What it FEELS like is a long list of grievances and heavier thighs, shins with pin pricks of sensation, a left ankle made of crumpled paper, feet … oh my feet.

Food is important, but with shorter mind clearing runs I am not “eating for tomorrow” but instead I’m “scarfing for this strange emotion I’m having RIGHT NOW.”

This is a traveling run for my whole family and so logistics need sorting but I approach them and my mind twitches because it is 10 days away.  The biggest part of a first marathon is that your brain doesn’t know that it is possible, so legs (and feet) are just a minor part of the conversation.  I’m not sure My Mind & I have ever had a conversation quite like this one.

Ten days.

Absolutely right to try.

There is a difference between pain laced with fear and anxiety about true danger and pain that is an expected experience of work.

With my shield or on it.

Holy shit I’m nervous and excited and pretty sure in this victory there will be a measure of failure as well and that is true with a lot.

I’m a mess.  This sucks.  I’m so happy right now.  Miles on miles.  The People’s Marathon in Washington DC.  I DID THIS.  I may even cross the finish line.

I’m done building single run mileage for the month.  I enter the nomadic zone of The Taper.  I don’t know, yet, how I feel about this.

I know that I’ve put in many (MANY) miles.  With the exception of something less than 50 total in the last year, those miles have included plantar fasciitis in at least one foot.  I know that right now, my biggest risk factor is my left foot which is what has made me stop in each of my last three runs.

I know that I keep learning about food and fluid but I haven’t found something that feels like a magic mixture.

Thinking about that today brought an interesting idea to the front of my mind…. it turns out that I had been waiting for this tremendous amount of work to be comfortable and pleasant.  I suppose some day that it might, that certainly became true for the 4-5 mile distance on nice days.  Still, somehow I was waiting for the addition of 4-5 miles at the END of an already long run to just be … easy.

I’d like to KNOW that I can do this, and that is unknowable at the moment.  I know that I’ve done a lot to prepare and that I’m trying to be diligent about things like food and rest and shoes.  I know that on a good day by foot can go a distance, and on a bad day it can do something else.  The fact that I didn’t train in rain AT ALL this summer was great as it happened but might not be ideal.  The day will hold what it does and I will show up as who I am.

It might work, it might not.

In the end – I’ve worked, and I’m glad for all the moments of it.  It would be neat to finish this race, and if it isn’t this one it will be the next one, or a different distance, or a different day.

I don’t get to know if I can do it – I just know that I was absolutely right to try.