We made it to D.C. at about 4:45 on Friday. We arrived at the Crystal Gateway Marriott at about 5:15 and had about 15 minutes to put our stuff in our rooms before meeting to go to the Marathon Expo at the DC Armory. I forgot my paper that would get me my number and then was able to remind Kenny to get his, as well. We took the DC Metro to the station about two blocks from the Armory. There was a big tent that we went in first to get our number and pins, and then we went to the main Armory where we had to get frisked before being able to get our official race shirt, which looks a little like a hunting shirt. There were many vendors offering free running as well as non-running gear. I bought a sleeve to keep me warm, after asking two women if they had black in a smaller size, as well as an official hat and t-shirt. It seemed to be worth it to get that stuff. They were helpful and they both gave me the same answer but I wanted to see what they would say. Not wearing a long sleeve shirt during the race was the correct decision because I would have been burning up.
After I caught up with everybody we decided to go to the Foggy Bottom area (or right near the Foggy Bottom area), which is near George Washington, and we settled on the Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant. I got the Maryland Crab Cake sandwich with salad, which really hit the spot. We then went to a Frozen Yogurt place, with many different flavor varieties, right next to the escalator to the train. A few people tried combinations that are not found at most Frozen Yogurt shops, but I went for the free hot fudge because I saw a sign that said “free hot fudge”. The woman at the cash register said I could take some hot fudge without frozen yogurt so I went for it. People seemed to think that was funny. It was a nice night with Rachel, Travis, Jessica, Tressa, Larry and Kenny.
After not getting very much sleep I went downstairs to the lobby at 10 to meet with the other people and the coaches to go over the race course. I, along with a few others, got a bagel with cream cheese from Einstein Bagels, in the lobby, so that something would be in my stomach. Soon after Kenny, Larry and I went to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which is near the World War Two Memorial. We took two different trains and got off right between The Capital and the Lincoln Memorial. This guy selling umbrellas told us it was about a 10 minute walk but it was actually about 20 minutes in the cold rain. Once we got there, I saw some Asian tourists who asked me to take a picture for them. I took two so it was just how they wanted. We looked at the monument that looks very similar to MLK, and listened to some of the talk that the official gave, but didn’t stay very long because of the rain. However, I was impressed by what they did with the memorial. Then, we went into the gift shop while looking around a little, but mainly went ventured inside to get out of the inclement weather.
The 20 minute walk back to the Metro awaited us and once we arrived we decided to go to the DuPont area for lunch. My falafel sandwich was very fresh with spices that added to it but were not too spicy. For some reason the tomatoes tasted like watermelon. The bread was very hot and contained some carbs, which might have helped in the morning. Larry and Kenny made a good decision on deciding to go to the Turkish place. Once the Turkish lunch was finished by all, we made the half a block walk back to the Metro. We took the train a few stops before we were supposed to transfer to a train that would take us back to our hotel, but the train we got on was going in the wrong direction. Kenny had the map but I can’t really blame him since the train we were transferring to was going both ways on one platform. This added about 45 minutes to the trip but we found a couple from Washington who were running on Sunday. When we got back Kenny and Larry decided to get a $10 Snuggie in Rite Aid to keep them warm before the race, so after thinking about it a little I decided to roll with the Snuggie, also. The other notable pieces of clothing that would be worn to keep warm were found by Jessica. Also, the night before the race, she found three bath robes that she would wear along with Travis and Rachel. They pulled the bath robe look off to a tee. That is a versatile look and if Travis had a red one he could have been Hugh Hefner. As far as I remember, she got them right after the Inspiration Dinner, which comes next in my story.
There was then the TNT pasta inspiration dinner. There were chapters from all around the country and each city tried to dress in a different costume, to various degrees. There was even a chapter from Alaska, which definitely deserved the shout out that they got from the guy on the microphone. When we were about to enter the reception room I felt like I had return to my city after winning a championship or something because of all the cowbells and cheering. Once we got inside, there was a wide selection of food to choose from and an official TNT person gave opening remarks. The mood then changed a little because somebody described his ordeal with cancer and chemo. This was sad but also inspiring because he would then go onto the races he participated in. He said, “Our worst day of running, or worst ache is far better than anyone’s best day on Chemotherapy”. The stories were definitely worthwhile to listen to. There was a lot of extra food so I was able to stock up on some of it.
The NYC people then went into a smaller conference room so that some people could describe why they got involved and so that the coaches could give some last minute advice. Coach Jim wrote a memorable sign on the white board at this point, but it was so memorable that I don’t remember it exactly. It was something like: Right foot, left foot, repeat and cross the finish line. We now had some time for some last minute discussion of pre race nerves as well as time to decorate jersey’s in Rachel, Travis and Jessica’s room. It was sweet that they had so many in their room. Something notable that happened right after was that Mike said he was going to go downstairs and have a beer to help him prepare for the race. I like that strategy, but I am not sure if I would have one then.
Day 3 – RACE DAY
Once again I did not get much sleep in anticipation of my big day. I got out my clothes the night before and then was thinking a lot about the race as I was trying to go to sleep. Then I realized it would not really matter as exhilaration, running in my first marathon, wanting to finish strong and enjoy it would help me get through it. All of the training and help from the coaches definitely was very helpful!
At 5:50 in the morning Rachel, Jessica, and Travis met me at my door, with half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we went down to meet the group in the lobby. That sandwich gave me some extra fuel that helped me out at some point. When I got downstairs, as well as on the trip to the start of the race, many people remarked about my blue Snuggie. I liked it because it would keep me warm but I am not sure that I will come close to wearing one in public again. However, I guess that was the perfect opportunity to wear one. I tossed it in the median of the highway right before I was about to begin my 26.2.
We waited for everybody to get downstairs and make sure that they had everything needed to run the marathon, and then we were off to the train station. Before leaving for the Metro station we took a group picture to remember what we looked like with our warm clothes on at the hotel. The Metro ride was unique because I can’t remember the last time I was on a train that early and it was basically full of people running or watching the marathon. The Metro seems to come frequently but the two complaints I have are the escalator is usually mysteriously out of order, and they seemed to not know that the marathon was on Sunday because only about two of the 10 turnstiles were open. It was OK because we still had a long walk until race area, so, that delay just added to the adventure. We had about a 10 minute walk to the Pentagon parking lot where we found the bag check and Porta-Potties. I was now about to realize that the moment of truth was here and the race that I had been training for was about to start. I was probably the coldest one at this point but my Snuggie was clutch. Mike said his fingers were really cold but he was smart by bringing long pants that he could toss away.
I decided to move ahead so I said good luck to Jessica, Travis and Rachel. It was great to pass a lot of marines after crossing the beginning of the race. The first mile had ample crowd support while we went through downtown Roslyn. It was great to see Coach Jim at about mile three to help me keep going strong. At this point we were approaching a park area and he ran with me for a little bit and then waited for the next person. Having the support of the coaches throughout the race was awesome. It was also great to get advice from everybody who gave me advice on various aspects because it was my first marathon.
Shortly after passing mile four I crossed my first bridge taking me into Georgetown. It was a little before this point that I saw two guys that were probably about my age, one was dressed in a penguin costume and the other was a banana. If he would have been an orange he would have been eating himself because people gave out orange slices a few times.
Also, at about mile four the sun made its presence known so I was happy that I decided not to put on the long sleeve shirt at the hotel. When we made into D.C. after crossing the bridge I ran down Canal for about 1.5 miles and back. At this point I was at mile eight and approaching the first true swarm of spectators. This was a GREAT SUCCESS. I tried to high-five as many people as possible because it is a free shot of energy, according to Damien, and it made me feel good. Some parts were narrow or congested but I just did what I could to adapt. It did get confusing when people would stop in the middle without any warning, but I guess you never know what will happen during a marathon.
I think it was shortly after mile nine that I saw Coach Amy. She was helpful and that would include opening chocolate gu for me since I didn’t have all the feeling back in my hands. She assured me that there was another water station coming up soon. Shortly after leaving Amy I saw a guy running with no shoes! I had to tell him that I realized that he didn’t have any shoes because he was a warrior! I liked the blue Zumba people at about mile 13. They were very energetic and tried to high-five everybody! I would pass the Marine Corps medical station but I didn’t need that! I was still feeling good at that point and when I made it to about mile 14 the crowd started to pick up again. Another GREAT SUCCESS! I saw some TNT people, on the other side of the street, at about mile 15, and made them know I saw them. I was still cruising along and after picking up some Skittles I passed by Becca, Brian and Casey at about mile 16, before the mall. It was great to see those cool people and hear the cheering at the best cheer station, but I was distracted by my number having a mind of its own so I didn’t really go over or say anything. I heard that Coach Joel was on the course somewhere around this point but we did not see each other. It is hard to find everybody. It was cool that he came down on his birthday! From here on out the crowd was basically packed and many had creative signs making me smile. The stood out above all the rest. I was able to cross the bridge that everybody has to “beat” at a certain time, at mile 20, so that I wouldn’t get kicked out and driven somewhere else. I ran with a coach from the DMV area, over the bridge, and tried to keep up with two TNT people from DC, but I could only do that for less than a mile.
Once I got to Crystal City, the area of the hotel, I realized I was in the proverbial homestretch, my eyes were on the prize and I told me self to keep going strong. I guess Jay-Z line – “You’ve been put on this earth to be all you can be, like the reserves” fits here, also. The reason I told myself to keep going strong is because this is when I began to hit the wall without actually hitting it, literally. I am not sure when exactly it happened but it was between miles 22-24. There were many notable things that I saw and that were passed out as well. It was about mile 23 that I saw Coach Jim again and then at about 24 I saw Coach Radie. She ran with me for about two miles and was very encouraging but was also to the point. She helped get the crowd fired up and they followed her like fans follow a Jumbotron at a Knicks game.
I can’t remember the last time my legs were in the amount of pain that they were in when I reached the top of the hill that got me to about mile 26.1. It seemed like that “mountain” was double the steepness of the steeper hill in Prospect Park but I made it to the finish line in one piece without having to walk so I was happy about that. My time was 4:13, which was slower than my goal, but it is OK since it was my first marathon, I enjoyed the race and I will just try to get my goal next year. Maybe next year I will be able to improve by about 14 minutes? Next time I might have to change something about my race intake of food/liquid.
What happened next was unexpected but it was not the end of the world. I got dizzy but was better after about an hour. I was lucky that I was able to remember my dad’s number off the top of my head because if not my time would have most likely been wasted by being sent away. My parents were able to come and convince the people that I was basically my normal self so I could go on with my day. Thanks! It was good to be able to see them then but I thought the first time I would see them would have been during the race and not in a tent. However, that hour was not that bad and was just another thing to remember.
I then saw Amber, Rachel, Becca, Travis, Casey, Brian and Jessica when I made it to what I think was called Charity Village. I enjoyed hearing them congratulate me on my time/race when I saw them. It was great to see them at that point! I asked them about their racing/cheering/coaching experiences as we trekked over to the UPS trucks to pick up our checked bags. We then took the Metro back to the hotel and I was finally able to call Rachael so that we could have dinner at Chevy’s. It was cool to be able to see Rachael and Jarid while I was in the area. After dinner I was off to a three-floor sports bar, which apparently attracts a lot of people because they show games of basically ever team and there are so many people from all around the country in D.C. I met up with many of the people I had spent time with earlier and it was good to see them. More stuff happened but this recap is probably getting long enough already so I will wrap it up here.
The coaches were extremely supportive and gave very helpful advice throughout the training. I thank them very much for that. It was great getting to know the people that I got to know that last few months. Some of them I met and talked to early on and some more the last few days but they are all amazing. I can’t wait to train to tackle the five boroughs in 2012.