So there we were at the Marine Corps marathon expo 2 days before the race…Jen was stuffy and barely breathing and I was still limping from my injury at the Steamtown marathon 3 weeks prior. Definitely not in the shape we had envisioned when we signed up, we had both mentally prepared for the fact that dropping out of the race was a real possibility.
Then we saw it: the most gorgeous medal ever. Shiny silver Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor attached to a beautiful navy blue ribbon with details that confirmed it was, in fact, this year's medal. Agreeing that we had to have it and deciding that crawling wasn't necessarily that embarrassing after all, we confirmed our motto for Sunday's race: "WHATEVER IT TAKES".
On marathon morning, Mom, Trey, and I met up with Jen and her folks to metro to Arlington National Cemetery for the beginning of the race. Lining up to a cold and windy starting line, Jen prepped herself with Vick's vapor rub and I resisted the temptation to "test" my hurt heel with a warm up. If the gun went off, I knew I would go into "fight" (instead of "flight") mode.
After the gun, we had 8 full minutes until our area started advancing forward. I purposely started with the 5+ hour group, not really knowing what kind of time to shoot for. With "WHATEVER IT TAKES" written on my back, I began the first mile with almost no pain and I knew immediately that I would not have my first DNF (did not finish). I saw my support at mile 2 and gave them a thumbs up so they knew my heel would be okay.
The elevation course map made them look scary, but the early hills in Rosslyn were a joke (of course, it helped that I had trained on these exact roads). The real scary part came at the first water stop, when the Team in Training coach shouted "stay together" and 20 people around me slammed on their running brakes. The vivid memory of slipping and falling at a Steamtown water stop came rushing back…I didn't fall, but I came close. Water stops have now replaced clowns as the odd thing I am really freaked out by.
We swung back towards the memorials, past Kennedy Center, around the backside of Lincoln towards the White House and then past the Washington Monument. The crowd support was incredible! I hit the 10 mile marker at 1:32:43.
Looping back around the Capitol, I saw my support (including Trey, who looked really hot!) and gave them another thumbs up. At the half, I was at 1:58:53...I only know this because of the splits they e-mailed me, though. I really didn't care during the race. I was focused on picking off the runners ahead of me, one by one.
Somewhere between mile 14 and 15, a HUGE stabbing pain began in my injured heel. I slowed down…the pain was even worse. You will not believe me when I say this (I'm not even sure I buy it myself), but when I sped up it felt MUCH better. As if I "ran it off", by Hains Point it did not hurt at all. At all! AT ALL! At 18 miles, I clocked 2:39:51.
Waving goodbye to the District and heading into my now hometown (1 year on Nov 1!) of Crystal City, where the crowds were deep and loud. After the turnaround at mile 22 (3:15:05), we went past the Pentagon to the 25 mile marker. A gradual incline during the last mile, topped off with a super steep .2 mile sprint to the finish just seems unfair…but as if they could read my mind's focus and heart's desire, the announcer had the crowd chanting "UNDER 4! UNDER 4!". The hill, as well as any pain I had at that point, did not matter and I finished with 3:51:41- a (very!) negative split!
Looking stunning in her signature Cardinals hat, Cox also finished strong. After the race, we took tons of pictures with our gorgeous medals ;) WHATEVER IT TAKES!