Well, if you have been watching the weather, you know that there were a lot of tough races this weekend. While they were battling high temps in LA, we were completely soaked and freezing in DC!
Oh, where to start. You may want to get a snack first because this will probably be loooong.
The race expo was moved to the Washington Convention Center from its previous home at the DC Armory. This annoyed me because I had to switch Metro trains to get there but the metro stop is literally outside of the convention center. I decided to attend the first day, right when it opened. It was deserted! There were no lines, no crowds, and some of the vendors weren’t ready yet. I moved quickly through bib pick up and then retrieved my drawstring bag (to be used at gear check – a bit confusing since everyone is now used to clear bags and this was a black woven one) and my race shirt. The shirt is nice and it was a true, gender specific cut. I also grabbed a Brooks race shirt, a magnet, and a package of Race Dots. I was in and out in less than an hour.
Of course, everyone was watching the weather closely. The days before and after the race were forecast to be decent. Race day, not so much. We woke to drizzle and low temps.
I was hoping that it would taper off but I Body Glided the heck out of myself (plus my KT Tape anti-chafing trick) and headed off to meet my friends at the metro station. We arrived by about 6:15. The race didn’t start until 7:30 but by the time we stopped by bag check (which I did not use but I guess some of the higher alphabet names had problems retrieving their bags at the finish) and the port-a-potties, there wasn’t a ton of time to spare. My wave began at 7:55.
The First Half
The first half of the race was great! The rain was lessening and there was decent crowd support. I’ll admit, I didn’t take in too many sights because I was trying to avoid as many puddles, and people, as possible. Many were running with ponchos or plastic bags on and would douse you with run-off water if they bumped in to you. Not fun!
This race has a notoriously tough hill just before mile 7 that almost did me in last year. This year, the Blue Mile volunteers were lining it (The Blue Mile is organized by Run Blue to Remember. They post pictures of service men and women who were killed in action and then volunteers hold American flags that are dedicated to additional service members). I was a little worried about trying to climb that hill while being super emotional. As it turns out, a lot of my friends were volunteer flag holders so it turned into a hell of a boost for me.
My family was waiting for me at the top of the hill but it was packed and they didn’t see me coming. I surprised the heck out of them and Little Runner almost spilled his hot chocolate 🙂
By this time, I was still feeling great but I had to go to pee (it wasn’t hot enough for me to sweat it out, as usual) and my stomach was starting to feel… ominous. There were a lot of people in the neighborhoods offering free beer and tequila shots. I didn’t see the sausage guys from last year but I could smell them! Ugh!
Several of my running friends who were doing the half passed me and cheered me on. It was great seeing them on the course!
The closer we got to the course split, the more dire my stomach situation was becoming. I knew that there was a bathroom stop after the split so I just had to hang on a bit longer but I was really starting to hurt. The rain was also increasing so I was nice and wet and the wind was picking up.
When we hit the split, it was all I could do to turn right for the 2nd half. Tons of runners were streaming left but only a small handful took the other lane. To make matters worse, the volunteers after we diverged weren’t terribly attentive and some runners took the wrong merge and almost ended up back on the half course! I made it through that section and luckily found the bathrooms, just in time. This was the first time that I stopped and the first time I really realized how absolutely miserable I already was. Everything was freezing, my hands were starting to swell, I was soaked through and just tired. I knew my family was waiting for me just before mile 14 so I got my act together and kept going. The crowds were much thinner now so I was able to talk to them for a few minutes before going on. I told my husband I wanted to quit but I knew I had to finish. By this time, I knew that my time goal was not going to happen. Now my only goal was to finish.
Miles 15-17 had us though an industrial complex and around a big power plant. It was extremely bleak and the speakers that RnR had set up on the course kept shorting out so it was mostly static. This is when I started to slow considerable and utter a few choice expletives. After that, it was over the the bridge across the Anacostia River (with open grating, more choice expletives) and a long stretch by the river. The wind was really strong and we had to run through several really deep and wide puddles of freezing water. My feet totally cramped when they hit the ice water.
I can’t describe how horrible I was feeling at this point. I had blisters under three toe nails (that has never happened before) and I feel nauseous and couldn’t bend my fingers. I passed all of the course cut-off points but one loop had me finishing a section as later runners were being diverted before entering it and I was insanely jealous. I knew my family was waiting for me just before mile 25 so it became a death march to see them.
I could see them waiting for me at the bottom of the hill. Did they see me? I’m not sure! My eyes are playing tricks. I try waving but I can barely get my arms up. I’m moving as fast as I can and I can feel the tears building. As soon as I can clearly see them, the water works start. I can’t believe that they stood out in the rain for five hours for me!
I try to get my act together but it just isn’t happening. I want to stop. I want to go home. Little Runner hugs me and tells me he loves me and that I’m doing great! Okay, I can do this.
“Are you okay? Do you need anything”
“No, I just need to be done. This is really hard” (while wiping my tears) <– may be the understatement of the century
You’re doing great! You just keep going. But stop crying! You’re going to make me cry!”
I’m crying again so that’s enough for now. Tomorrow I will discuss my overall review of the race and some of the things I did well (and not so well!)