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Marine Corps Marathon Ooh Rah Recap: Hot Dammmm

6 Nov

Hi friends! Here I am with MARATHON NUMERO DOS under my belt!!! Hot dammmm.

I never knew that screaming hot dammmm could be both a good and bad thing! Let me explain.

Pre-race: good thing.

Mid-race: good thing.

Last 3.2 miles: bad thing x bad thing x bad thing. It was hot dammmm! Seriously! When is this isht going to be effing over? My Garmin was flashing 26.2 miles and I was NOT done. Where was the finish line? Was that the finish line? I couldn’t see. Hot dammmm[it]!!!

Let me define hot dammmm by breaking it down.

Hot [good]: I refined my training for this marathon. I got this! Feeling good! Feeling light. Feeling flight. Wind under my legs. I got this!

Hot [bad]: My calves were on fire. My calf muscles felt like they were falling off my bones with every strike on the pavement. Ouuuuuchhhiessssss. Then there was my anxiety. My anxiety was running hot. It had a fever. A bad one because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see because I lost my left contact at mile 9, (my left eye requires the strongest prescription) lucky me.

So there I was with a fever of anxiousness and a crowd cheering “You’re almost there!” They were relentless with their excitement to include clapping, whistling, shouting, cowbelling…I might have had a fever but the only prescription was finding the finish line, not more cowbell!!!

Dammmm [good]:I got this! I trained. Hot diggity dog, I might BQ!!! Wooohooo I’m flying.

Dammmm [bad]: It felt like I was sprinting when the reality was I shifted into granny gear!!! Talk about a Sunday joy ride. It was Sunday and I belonged in a walker at that point to carry my weight.

The Real Recap

The morning of the marathon was unlike any other. I hopped on the metro and was greeted with a swarm of runners (civilians, Marines, and other service members), volunteers, bands, and spectators. We were all crammed on the blue line heading to the Pentagon. The metro ride was a concert of songs, Ooh Rahs, and praise. The acoustics were unlike the normal route into the city. The clamor was a stark contrast from the Monday-Friday commute when most are plugged in to their phones being disconnected from the very person who’s sharing their personal space. These people were all up in each other’s personal space and they were welcome there! It was really something.

Fast Forward.

It’s race time. Hot Dammmm [good]. There were no “real” corrals. If you think you’ll finish with a 3 hour time, 4 hour time, 5 hour time, etc., you were to go park your feet near the designated sign. Oh I hate that kind of pressure. I wanted a 3:35 time because that is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). But I hesitated because I was suffering from acute bronchitis and didn’t know whether or not I would run fast or if my breathing would be exhaustively labored. I took one look at the crowd, the 20,000+ people (talk about sharing personal space), and recalled how much effort it took to weave in and out of the crowds of runners in my last race. So I deliberately parked at the 3:35 sign until the gun went off.

Gun went off.

Welp, I was wrong. What’s new? I am wrong a lot. The 3:35 sign did me no favors. I was stuck behind crowds of runners. I was shuffling my feet.

Thank gosh I stand 5’2” tall because I darted through people and any open space given the right opportunity. It took a lot of effort but none from my legs or lungs. I had to watch the people in front of me to gauge the motion and timing of their stride and elbows. Who said you don’t use physics and math in real life? I had to strategically and deliberately plan my attack to squeeze through limbs, spit, and other runners like me trying to dart ahead, while not colliding with one another. I was gauging speed and velocity at 8am, with the intent to BQ, while maintaining steady breathing, with a focus on my stride, fuel intake, etc. Are you kidding me? This isht gets difficult. I managed not to collide with anyone other than a fellow shrimpette, who like me, was planning her breakaway and taking full advantage of her 62 inches or less. We barely touched but shared a chuckle. We exchanged an excited “Sorry!” and kept moving forward. If you know me, you know how I say this!!! [“Sa-weewww-thank you cab driver!]

Mile 3 people were stopping. I remember thinking “It’s mile 3. How are you going to line up at 3:35 and stop here!?!” I mean seriously, it’s kind of dangerous when you’ve got me and shrimpette number 2 darting around. I mean flying around. Especially dangerous because it was a decline. Declines are FREE SPEED and I was all about that high velocity. I wanted more!

The FREE SPEED lasted a while. I took full advantage of it. Hot dammmm [good]. I loved that I didn’t have to return any favors either. Each decline and incline over the course was a silent declaration of what was to come. I paid close attention to its subtle hints (how often do those get overlooked girls?) and adjusted my body to its forewarning.

I leaned into the road. I was one with the road.

I was one with the road until mile 9. I had a gnarly cough paired with its obligatory accessory-phlegm. It was radiant in shades of green. OooOoo green! My favorite color! And neon green to boot! Thanks acute bronchitis! I digress. Anyway, I had just ate a GU so everything in my mouth felt sticky. Plus my cough was deep and my phlegm was thick. That’s the time when my left contact developed a film so thick I could no longer see. I stopped to make an effort to clean it. I had no other choice. I had to. I had to because it was more uncomfortable not being able to see than hacking said lungs. I can’t see 2 feet in front of me without contacts but this was worse. So I took my contact out and planned to spit on it to clean it. (As if you haven’t before. Spare me!) But my spit was thick with Jetberry GU residue and phlegm. I couldn’t do it. Sanitary purposes. I had to draw a line.

I ended up putting my contact back in my eye. Unclean and all. And with one intentional blink to make it fall in place that sucker fell off my eye and was gone. Shit!

I glanced at my Garmin. No I didn’t. I squinted. I couldn’t see very well at all so I placed the Garmin right in front of my right eye. That’s when I realized I had lost approximately one to two minutes of precious BQ time. Hot dammmm[it] [bad].

I ran the rest of my race, 17.2 miles, with one contact. I was blind. I was uncomfortable. And I couldn’t see the spectacular air show above. I couldn’t read the funny marathon signs. It sucked. 😦

As sucky as I felt I found pleasure in how great my legs felt. I just crested the course. I relied on my other senses to elevate me. I breathed in the remarkable, and inspirational cries from the crowd. I maintained focus. I repeated the mantra, Pain Only Hurts. Flight. Glide. Fly. Easy. Light. Smooth. It worked. I was clocking 7:40 miles give or take a few seconds. I even clocked a 6 minute mile somewhere in the mix. HOT diggity DAMMMM [good]. I fell back to a mid-8 minute a few times. Even losing a contact! Insert Hot dammmm  [good] one more time! Yes!!! My potential to BQ was still real.

But the pain began to set in at mile 18. Hot dammmm [bad].

The pain got so bad in my chest that I had to stop and cough for thirty seconds at least. My BQ fell further from reality. Hot dammmm [bad].

My legs were still fresh and agile. But my chest hurt. I was hacking. I dug deep. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. When, OWWWWwwwweeeeee happened. The discomfort of being blind coupled with my heavy chest was one thing. But by mile 23, with 3.2 left to go, my calves felt as if they were on fire. That was the other thing; the ugly thing.

Each time my foot touched the pavement my calves ached with excruciating pain. I tried to ignore it. I tried to ignore the ugly pain by telling myself that if the whole race goes to shit in a hand basket at this very moment, and I fall back to 10 minute mile pace, I would still, at the least, PR. So that was a good thing. 🙂

But I would resent myself if I did. I knew I was a tough runner and could endure pain. I knew I could endure even more pain. So pain, I taunted with, summoning it to BRING IT ON. I double dog dared it!!!

That was the pain I had been begging for during my last marathon. Pain is the telltale sign that you’ve pushed your limits. (For me at least.) There it was staring at me at mile marker 23. I was tickled with excitement that it finally came to meet me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was that same feeling you get when you massage a bruise. (Right?)

I wanted nothing less than to be seduced by it. I wanted it to take all of me.

But I played hard to get. I wasn’t quite ready to give up. My effort was twinged but at I still had some.

For the last three miles pain and I danced around the course. It seduced me with water stops, orange slice stops, Gatorade, etc. I wanted to give in. The temptations were hydrating. The allure had me salivating.

However, I knew relief was only three short miles ahead. And in three miles I would be greeted with a medal and a beer!!! Mmm beer! Please! And it was only three short miles away. Three short miles away after having already covered 23.2 miles!!! Why do I do this to myself? I’m crazy!

I begged my body for merciful forgiveness as I repeated: Only Three More Miles. Only Three More Miles. You Got This. You Got This. Easy. Light. Smooth. Glide. Fly. Flight. Run For Those Who Can’t. Pain Is Temporary. Beer. Beer in Thirty Minutes or Less! Fly.

I convinced myself that not all pain is significant. I focused on the finish and not my legs.

I started to fly.

Or so I thought…

With less than a mile to go I started to focus on my will rather than my physical strength. I was running on empty and enveloped in pain. I wanted to walk so bad! I squinted at my Garmin to see how much more distance I had to cover before I would finish. I was p.o.’d. The Garmin told me I had already run the distance of a marathon. Ugh!

I recall thinking that I must be close. The trouble was I couldn’t see ahead. I saw two or three massive displays of orange balloons. One of them promised to be the finish but I could not decipher which one.

I had a fear of sprinting too early, granny sprints or not, so I maintained my pace.

When I could finally see the finish line I realized I should have started sprinting a quarter-mile before. Hot dammm [bad].

I dug deep, shifted gears, and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. Granny kicked ass! I think.

I crossed that finish line. Hot Dammmm [good].

I was in pain. I was exhausted. I couldn’t walk. Hot Dammmm [bad].

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I PR’d! Stopping to breathe, contact issues , and all! Hot Dammmm [good].

I finished in 3:39:35. An 8:22 pace per mile!!! Hot diggity Dammmm [good].

I missed Boston by 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Had I run 10 seconds faster per mile I would have BQ’d. But I accepted the circumstances. Had I been 100% healthy, I bet I could have celebrated a BQ. Regardless, I PR’d by 11 minutes. That’s something I’m proud of, sick and all!

This was the first race where I finally met pain. I finally met exhaustion. I finally met the wall. They all stink, literally: Pain. Exhaustion. Wall. = PEW. Hot Dammmm [bad]. But I can’t wait to meet them again and crush them. Hot Dammmm [good] J

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Happy Running!!! Happy BQ’ing. Happy Cowbelling, he he he. Happy whatever makes you happy! Just be true to you!

XO

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Tales From the Metro

20 Nov

This was a mistake. I decided to try the 6:50a complimentary shuttle to Pentagon City metro. If the commute is anything like the commute at 6:10a I’ll get to work in 20 minutes.

The jokes on me. As I walked into the metro, only the yellow lines were displayed. Where’s the blue line? I patiently waited. The screen showed three yellow lines arriving. One arriving in 3 minutes. Another in 6 minutes. The last one displayed on the screen said 8 minutes. As time passed and folks boarded, I let out a sigh of relief. The blue line made its debut on the screen! The blue line arrival time–>8 minutes.

I finally board the metro. It’s a mass of people contrary to getting on at 6:20. I stood grasping the handrail. About three people shared each handrail. Strangers united and we were forced to get comfortable with our close proximity.

Someone accidentally grabbed my hand and overzealously apologized in an attempt to start small chat. I gracefully accepted his apology but told him not to worry. I diverted my attention to my handbag and dug for my phone. Nothing better than to be enthralled by your phone to help articulate the perception of “unavailable”! I glanced at my phone. Shit! The screen alerted me it’s 7:20 and I’m still on the blue line.

I raced off the blue line and headed to the office. I arrived with my cheeks in my seat at 7:30. No. No. No. This will never happen again. What takes me 20 minutes if I start my trek at 6:10 took me 40 minutes all because I wanted to try something new. I’m a creature of habit. Why did I mess with a good routine?

Conclusion: I would rather get to work 30 minutes early in comparison to 30 minutes late any day! Coming in early gives me no stress. I can take my time and leisurely stroll the streets. I can contemplate picking up an extra cup of Joe and maybe even indulge and buy breakfast somewhere without the pressure of the clock.

Today of all days I am wearing my stilettos boots! I couldn’t fit the boots in my large oversized bag so I wore them for my commute (I normally commute in flats). In hindsight I laugh; the satire. I give credit to my running skills as I hurriedly paced the streets in my stiletto boots. I mean I was flying! This will be the last time I try a new morning routine.

As for now, I need coffee. Ciao!

Happy running
XO

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Good Morning from the Blue Line

15 Nov

Good morning from the BLUE Line Metro. It’s 6:17a and the metro is dead. I’ve learned that people don’t start their commutes until after 7a and that’s when the people watching would be ideal. But here I am. Sitting and watching the early morning commuters at 6:20a. I don’t think many are awake. They never look disheveled but they don’t always look coherent. I enjoy these moments. The observing of the sharply dressed men and women. But really men! I love watching them. They are so dang handsome walking hurriedly in their suits and Cole Haans; appearing untouchable. Then I see a glimpse of toilet paper stuck to their necks and chin. It reminds me at this very moment status (i.e. Salary, title etc) doesn’t matter; we are all human.

Back to the BLUE Line. The weather finally took a turn to chilly but you don’t feel it in the metro. I’m sitting here on the BLUE Line and I notice the gentleman to my right is holding on to the rail. He’s older. He’s dressed sharp. Dressed to the nines (almost everyone is), and he is sporting a heavy black coat, gloves, and a slight mustache or shadow of facial hair (for what I assume is for #mo #movember #november #movember #movembernovember; mens health awareness). Let me reiterate. A heavy coat and gloves. I get the gloves. I get the mustache. I don’t get the heavy coat.

I don’t quite understand the heavy coat because as a Phoenician I find the temperature this morning tolerable. It’s 30 degrees. Or perhaps 30ish degrees. I’m dressed warm. True. I’m not not dressed for extremely cold conditions but I am comfortable. I am warm. There’s no blizzard in the forecast. So I chuckle about this man’s attire because as a Phoenician, it should me in the heavy coat.

This chilly morning I have on my white and black polka dots slacks, a black turtleneck, one of my favorites gray scarves from Road Runner Sports (come to think of it I should order the other one in black. Santa if you’re listening?) my black Ralph Lauren jacket and my $16 Nikes to boot! $16!!!

I mean I wouldn’t run in these Nike’s but they retail for $75ish to $150ish. You could say I committed petty theft. Anyway, these are my fashion forward Nike’s. I can’t help but to think, Gawd athletic gear is sexy. Or do I think solely Nike athletic gear is sexy? (I’m staring at my shoes…) The entire gamut of it all-the whole athletic look thing—>embodies sexy (In my humble opinion).

Sure the tight compression pants show off every curve or lack there of. I recognize I have no arse thanks to distance running. Please refrain from telling me to do squats … I do. However, 50+ miles a week negates my efforts. Let me get back to the point.

The shoes are my daily commuters. No sprints or distance runs will be logged in these fashionable gems! But first I must rave: these Nike’s are black with a silver swoosh. The bottoms are adorned with the glorious combination of white, neon green and a slim outline of black. These kicks are the freakin shizzle!!! I actually think they make my morning brighter. No joke. Welcome to the world of me and my obsession with Nike. It’s the little things that make my days.

Okay. Back to the topic at hand…again. It’s truly not that cold yet. Or is it? Is this what they are taking about!? Is the older gentleman on the metro trying to prelude to something by sporting a heavy winter coat prematurely? Is it premature?Should I expect to be froze here soon? To date I am comfortable with what 30 degrees feels like.

I’m beginning to look like I belong here. I have the jackets. Yes that’s plural. Jackets. I dress appropriately with the exception of black leather gloves. I carry a tote that is refuge to my pink umbrella and choice of stilettos for the day. I frolic around the city in my flats and relish in the moment when I get to adorn my feet with the gorgeous collection of my heels when I settle in at the office. I even wear the earbuds as I walk around the streets as a deterrent to avoid engaging with the psychiatric patients … ehhhhh…ya. It’s not every day I meet this “psychiatric someone” but I prefer to deflect the probability of it happening again…

Regardless of that, I am blissfully happy. Living in the now. I’m taking this all in. Who would have thought my dreams would have led me here. I’m in awe!!! This feels so right!!!

Thank you for believing in me friends.

Please enjoy the pictures!

XO

Valerie

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