Archive for October, 2009

MCM 2009

Monday, October 26th, 2009

My planned approad to the MCM was to treat it as a 20 mile race and a 10K fun run, but it turned into a 20 mile race and a 10K walk, but I will get to that later. Let’s start from the beginning.

The MCM weekend started with me picking Andi up at BWI. When she was coming down the escalator I noticed a bump, where I did not expect to see one. She walked up, put her hands on her belly and grinning announces “BABY!” If that wasn’t enough good news she said her race plan was to stick with me. Yay! A partner in crime!

We headed down to the expo straight from the airport so that we could avoid the Saturday rush. We decided to take the metro in and met Margaret and the lovely Ms. I for the ride down. When we were walking into the expo we ran into Erica, Jen and Sean. Lots of screaming and hugs followed and Andi shared her news with them as well. Then we parted ways and tracked down Kelly for some expo shopping. The packet pickup went extremely smoothly. Despite the streams of people walking into the expo there were no lines at any of the pickup locations we went to. We then hit the official merchandise store where I optimistically purchased a jacket, water bottle, pin, sticker and gloves for myself as well as two shirts for Dad. The one shirt I purchased Dad was just like my MCM In Training shirt but where I had In Training Dad’s has Support Crew. Too cute!

From the expo we headed back up to Baltimore where we picked up some dinner for Dad, Mr. Mike and ourselves. We had to do a small packet pick-up at Dad’s house so that Mr. Mike and Mr. Dave could get their packets. After a very busy and exhausting day we headed to my house and went to bed.

Saturday morning we spent relaxing. I did some packing and made us some pasta for lunch. We got a call from Annie that she was headed back to the hotel so we hopped in the car and started our drive down to Crystal City, VA. It was pouring down rain for much of our ride, which we were not going to complain about because it meant that the weather system was moving through and would be gone before the start of the race the next morning. After checking into our room we met the ROTE crew downstairs in the lobby to head to dinner. While we waited for everyone to arrive Erica presented me with a small red canvas bag. When I pulled out the contents I found a framed picture from the Cherry Blossom race. She told me it was to remind me of all the people I had supporting and believing in me for the race. I gave her a huge hug. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a great group of friends.

Mustapha worked his magic and talked the gentleman who drove the shuttle for the hotel to drive us to and pick us up from dinner. It was a tight squeeze but we did manage to get everyone into the car. The dinner was delicious and there were many laughs had among friends. After dinner we took our group picture and stood around chit chatting. The shuttle came back to take us back to the hotel. Now it was arts and crafts time.

From the idea of buying tubesocks to keep our arms warm at the start line and Ernie’s imagination the idea of arm warming sock puppets was born. So we all sat at a table in the breakfast area of the hotel and we made sock puppets to wear the next morning. We had Mickey, Minnie, Beaker, a Prince and a Princess, a witch and a vampire. All sock puppets were complete with googly eyes. After we burned our creative energy it was bedtime.

I quickly realized when arriving back to the room that I had forgotten my PJs, so I was stuck sleeping in my street clothes. Oh well! Could have forgotten worse things right? I sat my framed picture on my bedside table and attamped to get a good night’s sleep. At about 3:45 AM I woke up and rolled over to look at my picture. I started cracking up laughing because attached to frame was one of the googly eyes from our sock puppet arts and crafts project. I snapped a picture when it got to be a little later and sent it off to Erica and Jen when the caption “Sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me…”

Our alarms went off and we prepped for the race day. I realized I had accidentally grabbed the almost empty bar of Body Glide so I was trying my best to make it last. We had some PB sandwiches, loaded our gear, and headed down to the lobby to meet everyone for the shuttle ride to the start. Luckily Mr. Mike found us and was already in the lobby when I got down there. We all made the short walk over to the shuttle and hopped in line. The bus ride to the start was fairly quick. Nothing more than 5 minutes I would say. We hopped off the bus, checked bags, used port-a-pottys and walked to the start. I have to say the start area was ran just as efficiently as the expo. I was very pleased.

Kerry found us at the start when we were lining up in the corrals. We were under orders to stop him if he tried to pass us because he was recovering from a stress fracture and I had planned to take my job seriously. Right before the start he ran off to use the facilities one last time. It took about 15 minutes to cross the start line, which I knew was eating up my time to Beat the Bridge. For those that don’t know about the bridge: There is a 7:30 cut off for the MCM course with one exception. You have to make it across the 14th St bridge before the 1:15 PM cut-off. That roughly works out to 14 min/miles for the last person to cross the start. If you start earlier the pace requirement varies.

Andi, Annette, myself and Tricia ran together for a while. The hills for the first 8 miles or so were tougher than I expected. The elevation chart did not show that much change, but some of these hills were really steep. Annette, training in TN, was much more adapt to the hills so I spent much of the first few miles chasing her and Andi up them. I started to feel like I was using way too much energy getting up them. At one point when Andi slowed to check on me we ended up losing Annette altogether. With the crowds I was only able to track her for a minute or two and she was gone.

Andi, being the AWESOME friend that she is, stuck right by my side. We finished the hills, headed through Georgetown and then back to downtown DC. We passed the Washington Monoument the first time and headed down to Haine’s Point. We could see some great crowd support for the runners leaving this area and I was excited to get to it. The only aggrevating this is the spectators in line for our port-a-potties. WTH??? This is where things started to turn for me. I was getting annoyed by everything. My belt was bothering me, the wind was annoying, and I could have done without the constant helicopters buzzing over my head. This area of the course is not the place to get annoyed. Unfortunately Andi was started to sense my frustration, especially when I asked to please stop talking to me, lol. I think miles 12 through 16 were harder on my emotionally than the first 8 were on my physically. Around mile 14 I started to realize that I was going to be really close to the bridge cut-off and I didn’t want Andi to get swept on my account so I asked her to leave me. She looked at our average pace and seeing that we were right on top of the 14 min/miles she aggreed.

Once Andi was gone I was able to withdraw back into myself and concentrate. When I got to where we had seen the awesome crowd support when we were heading towards the tidal basin I found that it was gone. I gutted it through the new few miles just trying to keep on pace. I know I lost some time here, but I think I also was able to recover some. Around mile 17 1/2 we came up to the mall and started heading towards the Capitol Building. From here you could see the turn to the bridge on the other side of the mall. It gave me a new shot of adrenaline especially when I looked at my watch and saw that I had a good amount of time to make it over there and still beat the bridge.

I charged toward the Capitol Building, rounded the two turns started heading back down the mall. At this time I heard a siren behind me and a police officer come on speaker announcing, “I am the official MCM pace car. If you are behind me at this point please move to the sidewalk.” I just about crapped myself when I glanced over my shoulder and noticed they were only about 1/10th of a mile behind me. The adrenaline definitely kicked in and I gave up on my pre-defined run walk intervals and just started running as much as my body would let me. I kept glancing back over my shoulder and watching he distance between me and the car increase. I heard the announcement two or three more times, but before I knew it I had turned the bend and had the “Mile 20 Beat the Bridge” sign spinners in my sights. You could tell there was a renewed energy in people when we saw them and everyone picked up their pace heading towards them.

The official timer at mile 20 was announcing the clock time and then announcing how much time we had left to beat the bridge. I heard him say “You have 5 minutes left to Beat the Bridge!” Someone asked him where we had to be to Beat the Bridge. The time got a big smile and said you just have to pass me. At this point we were only about 10 feet away from him. As we passed him I decided I needed to hug someone and picked a random stranger next to me. We made friends and chit chatted as we started walking across the bridge. My body was beat and I was exhausted. I tried several times to get running again and my body just wouldn’t do it. My hamstring started getting tight. I stopped several times to stretch it some and had people walk up concerned I about my safety. I guess my stretching didn’t look too poised, lol.

Part way across the bridge I saw a bunch of police motorcycles lined up and I panicked thinking we hadn’t really beat the bridge and I tried again to run towards them as they started up their engines. They ended up driving back towards the time guy to be the blockade for the bridge opening. I have to say this bridge was LONG and I was thirsty. My water belt had been long depleted. I knew the ROTE support crew was up ahead and they would have water, so they became my next goal after the bridge.

As I was coming near the end of the bridge I saw a group of supporters in the middle of the bridge. I had trouble focusing my eyes but then I recognized Jen L and threw my arms in the air. Jen H and Margaret, my looper running partners that helped me train for this race, came running towards me and gave me big hugs. I told them I just needed water. I walked up through my water belt into Margaret’s wagon and downed a bottle of water. I ended up taking two more for the road and asked them to take care of my friends that were kind enough to hug me after I crossed the bridge and they did.

I spent some more time with the ladies from the bridge before getting seperated from them. The bridge was finally over arond 22 miles and now we were heading into the out-and-back. I have done races with out-and-backs before. Disney has an out-and-back between miles 20 and 21. This particular out-and-back seemed cruel. We it just seemed to take forever. However it did lend to some great spottings. I got to see Mr. Dave, Mr. Mike and Annette all running back towards me. Whew! We all made it! Then I spotted Andi and Erica at a port-a-potty right in front of me. I yelled Andi several times but she didn’t hear me. So then I yelled “Erica! Princess!” and she spun around. Andi came running towards me and gave me a big hug telling me she had been so worried since she had left me. I was very happy to hear that Andi had run into Erica shortly after leaving me and they two ended up sticking together all the way to the finish.

I made friends with a guy that had a cramp in his leg around and his girlfriend around mile 23 and we chit chatted for a while. Then started the most lonely part of the race. The miles between 24 and 26 wrapped around the Pentago and the road was very wide with very few people. You could tell that everyone left on the course at this time was just hurting. I stopped a coule times along the way to stretch. Got a butt cramp at one point I think because of the tight hamstring. Came up to the last water stop and they were starting to break down some of the tables. The mile 26 sign spinner’s shift must have ended as they were walking towards me with their signs tucked under their arms and talking on their cell phones. Then I came across a marine that pointed down the road and said the finish is 400 yards past that white tower. I walked up until I came to an area where marines had lined the road. I slapped 5 several times and the last one said, “That white tent is the finish.” I looked straight ahead down the road for the white tent and I could not see it. I then looked up in the air slightly to the left and spotted the tent. It was at least 200 feet higher than the current roadway I was on and the hill to get there was STEEP!

I made to to the bottom of the hill and it was also lined with marines. At that point I was elated to have the finish line almost in site. The marines along the hill slapped 5 and it just brough a smile to my face. The last marine stepped out of line and said “YOU ARE THERE! YOU DID IT!” Put both hands up for a hight five and I almost started laughing. When the course leveled out again I started running, scanning the crowds for my friends. As I got close to the finish line the announcer called my name, so I threw my hands in the air and crossed the finish line. After the finish I was slightly confused where to go. I just wanted my medal, lol.

Finally after searching for a little while I noticed the chutes directly in front of me with a marine at the end of each with medals on their arms. I tried to pick a cute one and walked down it and got my medal. After I passed him a photographer snapped my photo. I did not make my way over to the official finisher’s photos because I was in pain and very tired. I heard peopel screaming my name and turned to see Margaret, Jen L, Jen H, and Stephanie running towards me. Margaret handed me a Diet Dr. Pepper. OMG it was SOOOO good. They then helped me find my way through the finisher’s area and to where the rest of the group was waiting for me. It was SOOOO nice to have all of them there at the finish. I know some of them had to wait a long time for me to get there. I snatched up my finisher’s coin and we started the long walk back to the shuttle.

I think we walked probably 2 miles after the finish before we were in the shuttle line. The shuttles were coming very slowly, so we waited maybe 45 minutes for it to get there. Then the shuttle ride back to the hotel was nearly 30 minutes itself. At this point Andi and I decided to just head home stinky and shower when we got back to my house. We waited at the hotel to tell everyone how proud we were of them and that we would see them soon. Andi drove us home as I have a tendency to get hip cramps when I sit down after a full marathon.

It didn’t seem to take us long at all to get home. We showered quickly and then had Dad drive us to dinner in my car (no way were either of us getting in and out of the back seat of either a BMW 1 series convertible or a Honda Element). We had been very much looking forward to crab cakes and we both were starving. We started eating and only made it half way through our meals. Jackpot for me as I have some REALLY tasty food for lunch at work today.

I have to say that overall I was impressed with the organization of the MCM. Packet pickup and the start line were both ran very smoothly. The on course support from the marines was excellent. Overall I expected more spectators on the course. I could really have used the encouragement in certain areas and it seemed to be lacking and I was very disappointed when we left Haine’s Point and the crowds there had dispersed. While I plan for Goofy to be my last marathon I have no regrets about this event and will hobble around with my marathon work at the office today very proud of what I accomplished yesterday.

BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED ME GET TO MY RACE TODAY! My parents of course. The Loopers who were there for all of my long runs this summer, cheering me on and pushing me to go further than I ever had before. Jen L, Erica, Sean, Kelly and Mustapha who I think had more belief in me than I had in myself. Margarent and Jen H who were with me on those tough long runs. I am looking foward to returning the favor as we train for January. Laura for bringing so many smiles to my face as my mobile support crew. Everone on ROTE for their encouragement, good luck wishes, and the smiles they brought to my face as I read their race day tracking thread. My run blogging friends that always had words of encouragement for me. I will admit I cried many times yesterday, not because of the pain, but because you all have been there for me so much as I trained for, ran and completed this race. I am very blessed. I LOVE YOU ALL!