Today I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and looked out the window. Conditions were unfortunately, just as the Weather channel had predicted. It was wet, cold, clammy, and dark. I needed to mentally prep myself now not only to run 10 miles, but to run those miles in less than favorable weather.
I considered not leaving the house. The bed was warm and my eldest son had come into our bed as some point during the wee morning hours and was snuggled against my side. Sandwiched between him and my husband, I waited until the alarm bleated away and the talk radio hosts from 106.7 chattered on about some sports issue I was too foggy to comprehend.
At 6 a.m., my youngest emerged from his bedroom. For a two-year-old he really is more like me than my oldest son. He walked down the hall to out bedroom all smiles and ready to tackle the day (like Mommy). That just meant I only had to wrestle my two night owl bed sloths out of the bed – not an easy feet, truly.
My oldest, to my surprise, shot upright when I said it was time to get up. To his credit, he can get up early when he must – usually to leave early to go on a road trip, or in this case, to my race.
“What’s the weather like outside?” my husband asked, or more grumbled. “It appears to be about 45 degrees but not raining,” I said.
Somehow, everyone eventually got up, but the family unit was moving too slowly. Race officials made it clear to use the metro to get to the race as there is no where to park down at the National Monument anyway – DC’s infrastructure would not have been able to handle 12,000 cars dropping off passengers. Metro was the way to go.
I could have easily walked to the metro but chose not to because it was still dark outside. Before a long race, I am a little bit of diva. I want to be taken to where I need to go and I want my family and/or friends there. In March, when I ran the Sarasota ½ marathon, I was fortunate enough to have my friend Karen, who held my clothes and cheered for me in the middle and at the end of the race course. Then again, it was sunny and warm in Florida. There was no way my husband and kids were going to stand in the chilly 45-degree cold for 90 minutes while a chilling rain soaked them to the bone.
I was dropped off at the metro – pissed that it took about a half an hour longer than I anticipated for everyone to get into the car so that I could be driven the .5 miles to the metro, but I AM a diva on race day. Let’s face it.
Fortunately there were a lot of people to keep me company on the train – all traveling solo like I was. I watched endless trail of sleepy-headed runners got on the metro at each station. I was glad to see that with the exception of a few runner, virtually no one had headphones on. Ipods, as glorious as they are, are not allowed in these big races. People like me get addicted to music while running and when I saw about 80 percent of the field wearing headphones despite the race rules in my ½ marathon, I called Karen over to let me get my Nano out of my bag. Who wants to run 13 miles without the funky beat of Nelly Furtado and Beyonce’ and the heavy metal banging of Limp Bizcut, Dokken, and Winger, the rock beat of 3 Doors Down, or the pop beat of Madonna, Maroon 5, and Will Smith?
Well no one I know of!
But on this day, for this race, I chose to run sans the music so as not to appear like a party pooper or rule breaker. It was too cold and damp to even need music because everyone was so pent up on trying to keep warm before the gun went off. When we arrived at the Smithsonian station, thousands of us drained off the metro and up and out into the cold for the short walk to the National Monument. By the time I arrived it was 7:30 a.m., an almost ½ hour wait until I would cross the starting line. I passed some time by going to the clothing drop-fff tent. By 7:40, the elite women, then men, began their races, and by 7:50 I lined up in the orange carral with my other orange number-laden brethren and waited in the crowd for our time to cross over the starting line.
The first three miles were a piece of cake. I started out running at about a 9:20 pace, faster than necessary but I felt fine. The fact that I had been working 50-hour weeks and was actually physically exhausted was not affecting me now – that would come later.
We ran down to a place called Hines point and then up around the tidal basin where Washington’s famous Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. Many of us, as we ran by, were sprinkled with petals that fell from the trees as the wind blew.
By mile 5, you emerge from the tidal basin and work your way toward the Kennedy Center. At this point we ran through crowds of amazing race volunteers and supporters. I looked for my family and was disappointed that I did not see them. I knew it was the rain and the crowds that kept the family away. They would be waiting for me at the end, so I knew I just had to wait but I would have done anything to see my oldest yelling for me.
It was around 5 ½ miles that I started to slow. My body, for some reason, ran out of juice. I was now officially over dressed with the two layers that remained. I had stopped around mile 4 for about 90 seconds to take off my light rain pull over and pin my number on my t-shirt, but the technical shirt underneath it was keeping me too warm. I was frustrated and having to “haul” the extra weight of the jacket around my waist, my running mittens, and chap stick along with the dragging weight of my long pants. While I expected this to happen on a crappy running day like today, I did not expect to fatigue like I did.
By mile 7 I realized I would not finish in 90 minutes.
I had eaten my sports gu at mile 6 and nothing worked. While I ran 6 miles in 58 minutes, I was behind pace. I was four minutes behind where I wanted to be so I switched my expectations. “Finish in 1:38” I said to myself.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Miles 8 and 9 were ok, I mean, no miracles there. I caught up to some people I had seen earlier in the race. My last mile felt like I had lead weights around my ankles. If my life depended on it, I could not push forward. I was frustrated that I had run out of steam but my body could not go any faster. I cursed my job – I mean somebody had to be blamed for my performance today! The toll numerous hours, and lack of proper training will make for a substandard race, but really, I should not be that disappointed, but I wanted to get that 90 minutes today. I was so close at the ½ marathon when my 10-mile split was 1:34. I thought today would be the day – there’s always next month at the Broad Street 10 miler in Philly, and if I cannot get to that race, there are few more 10-milers I can run before fall in and around the DC area.
My husband and kids stood outside for 45 minutes past the finish line waiting for me. I never saw them, nor they me. Fortunately, I found them later, and we all traveled home with the thousands of now damp, smelly, and tired runners, I had traveled with to the starting line.