National Marathon

March 29, 2008
I decided I wanted to complete a "double" last summer, after talking with an experienced ultramarathoner in the waiting area of an auto mechanic’s garage. After discovering the Saturday/Sunday schedule of the National and Ocean Drive marathons and confirming the less than 4 hour drive between the two, I was in. Simply finishing would be fine…but completing both in a combined sub 9 hours was the goal.

National Marathon: I met up with a myspace friend, Kim, at the expo. After several months of race reporting, running chats, and messages of support, it was very cool to finally meet her face to face! Running is, of course, a very individual sport- having others to be accountable to (even if it is online) is a major source of motivation. If you are reading this blog now, odds are YOU fall into this category as well. Thank you.

My roommate, Claire, is a coach for TNT so my Dad and I grabbed a ride to the start at RFK Stadium with some of her runners. The excitement of first-time marathoners really lifted my spirits and positive mentality for the upcoming 26.2! Mayor Fenty, who was also running the full marathon, spoke as we lined up and I began to get nervous. Those nerves turned to heavy emotion during the national anthem when I thought about Trey, who is currently in OCS at Ft. Benning.

I tried to take the first part easy because I knew the overall challenge would be staying within my limits and preserving energy for the next day. The first few miles were the real "welcome to DC" miles – past the Library of Congress, National Gallery, and US Capitol Building. Even though I have been running past these things on a regular basis for over a year, I was as excited as the newest tourist…DC is a beautiful city. Also, the Howard University marching band and step teams were great support additions that I normally don’t get during my weekend training runs!

I had a sign on my back that read: "26.2 today + 26.2 tomorrow = 52.4 miles in 48 hours"…this invited a lot of conversation from the beginning. Typically, I run with music the entire way; this time, I only had my ear buds in about a third of the time! I got a lot of "which race are you doing tomorrow?", "I couldn’t imagine doing this tomorrow!", "You’re insane, girl!", and welcome advice from experienced runners who had already accomplished the feat. I talked at length with a woman who was running her 83rd marathon, a man who was completing his 27th state of 50 plus DC, and another who was using National as part of training for his 7th Comrades ultramarathon. No doubt about it, at races you will ALWAYS find someone who has crazier running goals than you do!

Because of the recovery benefits, I had planned to use the "Galloway method" both days, meaning I would run 9 minutes and walk 1 throughout both races. As the crowds began to thin out around DuPont Circle, I put Galloway into action and by Adams Morgan the ratio was consistent. Somewhere around the Maine Avenue waterfront and new Nationals Stadium, dialogue with other runners surrounded my falling behind to take a walk break and then quickly passing them (again, again, and again)! To credit the run/walk method, I beat each and every runner I played this "game" with. I finished Saturday’s race strong with an "official" chip time of 4:16:17. One down, one to go….