In case you were wondering...I finished the Marine Corps Marathon. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't what I hoped for, but I didn't stop and I made it up that hill and finished. It was the best and worst experience of my life, but I wouldn't change a thing. Except for maybe the searing pain I felt in my left foot while crossing the 14th St Bridge at mile 21. Even still I fought through it and finished.
All my fears of not making it through the Gauntlet and Beating the Bridge disappeared as I ran to beat Sandy. The weather was actually pretty perfect. Mid-50s, cloudy, a bit of wind (more on that later) and not a single sprinkle.
The spectators were fabulous and I highly recommend any marathoner write their first name on their shirt. (We used hot pink duct tape) When you hear your name being called it really makes you feel special and gives you that extra push. The signs were superb. With "Paul Ryan already finished" at mile 6 probably being one of my favorites.
Haines Point was the beast we knew it would be, but the road was lined with pictures of fallen soldiers and marines holding American flags, making it really inspiring. Especially when the wind decided to pick up and we had to run INTO it on the absolute worst part of the course. TERRIBLE
As the anxiety of beating the bridge fell away I turned to a fellow runner who said "is it bad that I just want to walk the rest knowing that I am going to be allowed to finish now?" It was his first too and I asked him "is that how you want to finish?" He smiled said no and we took off for the bridge.
The last 6 miles were brutal. I started talking to myself at 3. "You can do 3 in your sleep any given day." At 2 it was "you don't even break a sweat running 2." And finally, I started telling myself if you don't make it up at hill what was this for? I finished saluted the Marines as they handed me my medal and looked for my family.
Did a Marine cluck at me like a chicken when I said I couldn't hop the fence to see them? Yes. Did he make me do it? Yes, because as he said "if you can run 26.2 in my honor, you can hop a fence for me too."
Yeah this was awesome!