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Marine Corps 17.75k Recap

CAN’T STOP! WON’T STOP!

It was Friday.  A beautiful Friday, at that.  The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s, and there was a perfect breeze going on.  Nothing gets me more excited and motivated than perfect weather outside.  Maybe a little too much;  it was the kind of day that makes me want to do something crazy like, oh, I don’t know, randomly decide to sign up for the Marine Corps 17.75k (that’s about 11 miles for us non-metric system using folks) which is at 7 am on Saturday – yes, the next day.  I say “crazy” because lately I haven’t run more than 6 miles, so to jump at 11 miles seems a little irresponsible, but what’s another 5 miles??  Luckily, I was able to find somebody to sell me their bib.  JOY!!

I’ve done the 17.75k before, but this was going to be a new course that I haven’t done.  I couldn’t imagine it was going to be that much different – hills are hills.  Where there’s an uphill, there’s a downhill and I can live with that.  So, Saturday morning, I get up bright and early to get my rear into gear.  I’m going solo, which I haven’t done….ever.  I usually take someone to races with me or I do them with someone – I like to bring my own cheerleaders, I guess, but I didn’t mind.  There was something liberating about going by myself and being by myself.

THE COURSE:

The beginning of the course was torture!  Not only was it a gravel path with plenty of rocks and uneven ground, especially considering the hundreds of people around you, but the hills weren’t just up and down – oh no!  They were looooong and unending.  That lasted for maybe 3 quad-busting miles!!  After that you were on a paved road, mostly flat, but there were some hills that annoyed the dickens outta me.  The wooded area in Prince William was actually very pretty and made it easy to jog through.  I was looking around and taking it all in – aaaaaah!!!

Since we all know a “run” just didn’t happen unless it was tracked by Nike+, I had it going so I could have an idea of how much further I had to go; you know, just in case the mile markers weren’t enough of a clue.  So around mile 8 or 9 i’m thinking that the rest is gonna be such a breeze!  But noooooo, no breeze!  That’s when you’re back on the original gravel trail to get back to the finish and it’s all gravel and hills again.  Man, I totally thought I was going to improve my pace and jog all the way to the finish; I thought I would catch my 2nd or 3rd wind.

THE FINISH:

Alas, I crossed the finish line to my own satisfaction and received my finishers coin along with the coveted “access granted ticket”, or “golden ticket” as it used to be called, which guarantees my entry into the Marine Corps Marathon.  I still don’t know if I want to run THAT much at one time.  I survived the 11 miles and maintained a nice 10:30/mile pace.  That isn’t fast to most but, for me, it surprised me that I could maintain that pace, all things considered.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I booked it home as soon as humanly possible, and within the speed limit, only to get out of the car as if I were the tin man in desperate need of some WD-40, starting with my knees!  UGH!  The mileage wasn’t the tough part, but I probably wouldn’t sign up for another race like that with just one day’s notice if I don’t have everything I need to care for my body once I’m home.  Lesson kinda learned….i’m sure this won’t be the last time I do something like this.  😉

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The triathlon that touched my heart

Sunday I completed a sprint triathlon – the inaugural Quantico Triathlon, with one of my awesome Seesters, Maribel, which I will most definitely do again next year.  I won’t bore you with my finish time, you can look it up if you want, but I will tell you that I was very pleased with myself because this was my first race post-arthroscopic knee surgery to smooth out my meniscus that I jacked up last year while I was trying to train for the Marine Corps Marathon.

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I started my “race career” by doing 5k’s, specifically the Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure, years and years ago with my mom and the folks at her job.  I use the term “race” loosely seeing as i’m not trying to break any records or even come in the top 10, but I always gave it 100% and I loved it.  Now, all the in between is a tad fuzzy because I started having kids and all, but at some point I decided to take my racing and fundraising a step further and decided to jump into a triathlon – an Olympic distance, at that.  So for a few years I joined other causes like LLS, The American Heart Association, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the American Diabetes Association, etc. and raised money while preparing to run races, complete triathlons and cycling fun rides, too.  I don’t take credit for getting the family involved, but between my Seesters and I, and even cousins, we’ve all done some kind of endurance event together and it’s a great experience to go through with family.  Talk about bringing everyone together, not only for a good cause, but for our own health and fitness, as well.

As my kids got older, I always wanted them to come see what Mommy did, to see me do what I loved to do.  I wanted them to not only cheer for me (because nothing beats seeing children cheering for their parents), but I wanted them to want to get involved, too – kids are so impressionable like that.  I wanted to make sure that I taught my children to do for others and if the only way to help is to fund raise (since we’re not all scientists finding cures), then pick something you can stand for and do it.

Anyway, I didn’t always have the luxury of having my kids waiting for me at the finish line, but that doesn’t stop me from keeping them informed of what I’m doing and letting them train with me to prepare for the races.  So in recent years, I have been blessed with the chance of having them waiting for me and it’s the best; Sunday was no exception.  I made plans with the Man of the house to bring the kids down to watch but, 4:30 am Sunday morning, the alarm goes off, I go out to rack my bike and it’s raining.  I was reluctant to press forward because the rain and slick ground made me nervous about my knee, which I haven’t fully recovered from, but I couldn’t leave my Seester high and dry, so off I went to pick her up.   We arrived at Quantico Marine Corps Base and, before getting out of the car, I sent a text to the Man to let him know that they didn’t have to come because of the rain – I was going to feel really bad for them to stand out there in that mess.  Though I was sure he received the message, I didn’t wait for a response.  We racked our bikes in transition, got our body markings, and strapped on our timing chips.  I checked the cell one last time before heading to the pool and I see his response about having a raincoat. He’s still coming! I love this man!  🙂

As I anxiously waited for 7:47 to come, my official race start time, I keep looking around the pool at the spectators that made their way in to cheer and watch and I don’t see my brood.  I was hoping I could spot them for that extra bit of encouragement since my Seester had already started 20 minutes before I did.  Oh well, off I went.  14 minutes later, I got out of the pool and my girls were there cheering, “go mommy!” as I entered my first transition – THANK YOU LORD THEY ARE HERE!  As I exited the transition area on my bike, I could see out of the corner of my eye a blue figure running through the grass and for a second I thought, he’s running through the rain taking pics of me! (I later found out that it really was him.)

9 miles later and i’m entering my second transition to prepare for the run and there they are, cheering – my heart swells with happiness!  As I fumble along to take my bike shoes off and put my run shoes on (yes, I put on new, dry socks even though it was soaking wet out there and I was about to put on soaking wet shoes) I hear a couple to my left.  The 50-something year old woman was in transition, soaked like me, curly hair all a frizz, and fumbling around, too, while her husband was on the spectator side of the fence.   They spoke Spanish so, lucky for me, I understand it 99.9% of the time.  She seems slightly frantic so her husband, in such a loving tone, tells her, “Mi amorsita, no te preocupes….no tiene que apresurarse.” which means, “my love, don’t worry…you don’t need to rush.”  Meanwhile, he’s trying to take pictures of her and she’s telling him how ugly the weather is and to please not take pictures of her looking like she does.  It was like she was embarrassed for him to see her not looking her best, it was so cute.  So he says, “Mi corazon, mi reina, te veas tan bella siempre.  Estoy tan orgulloso de ti.” which means, “my heart, my queen, you always look so beautiful.  I am so proud of you.”  I paused and it made me smile because it was so loving.  It wasn’t just the nice words, you could hear it in his voice that he truly supported her.  It made me think about my Man, he supports me in all that I do.  He brought my kids down because he knows it means a lot to me.  He ran through the rain to take pictures of me because he knows i’d want that.  He made sure they were at the finish line because he knows they are who I want to see after an accomplishment like that.  (Sure, it was a sprint triathlon, but I felt like I’ve come a long way and it HAS been a long, depressing year of recovering in the gym.)

I entered this triathlon for no one but myself, to see if I could do it.  After crossing the finish line I realized that it was about more than just completing it, it was about having the support of family there to see that i’m not through yet so that I could believe it, too.  Yep, I still got it in me.  I’m not registering for any more races just yet, but this has certainly encouraged me to keep on keepin on!

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PS: Pardon any grammatical errors in my writing or translating of the Spanish language.  😉