MCM Part 3
11:13 a.m. - 2:00 and beyond
11:13, Tidal Basin. I was still moving through a headwind along Independence Avenue straight to the river. I downshifted to a slower pace on the premise that I needed to conserve and take care of myself for another 12 miles. I made the turn at the Potomac and slipped around through some quiet parkland to the edge of the Tidal Basin. Spectators were thinning out but there I was jogging along and I heard, "Hey, Mr. Thomas!" and I looked over to see Eric, the son of some of my best friends in Rhode Island. I knew he was in DC for the race to watch his girl friend run. I hardly expected we'd see each other. That chance meeting and greeting made me feel good. I had another fan right after letting Michelle go. Mile 15 - 10:55.
11:24, Jefferson Memorial. I concentrated on smooth strides and as little up and down as possible. I felt good and I was looking forward to the Hains Point experience ahead of me. I equated it to my silent lonely long runs. I passed the Jefferson Memorial just before reaching Ohio Drive. Mile 16 - 11:05.
11:35, Ohio Drive. The drive was more of a lane. There was little distraction other than the occasional runner who stopped in front of me and walked. I was still running but extremely thirsty. I started to feel cramps in my feet. I successfully ran through them at first. We crossed Buckeye Drive just before mile 17 - 12:05.
11:47, Hains Point. It was a mile to the point with a water stop halfway there. I had been sucking on Gu to rev me up some more but my thirst was strong. The lane had narrowed. The golden leaves on the trees in the park that bordered the Potomac were glorious. A sculler was out on the water gliding in some slight chop. The forecast wind must have been behind me. I could hardly feel it. There was a golf course on the other side of the course. This was a peaceful and tranquil place. It was not as grueling as I feared. The water stop was congested. I walked with everyone else and drank water and Powerade. Beyond the stop I shuffled to the point and mile 18 - 13:06.
12 noon, The Long Road Back. Once I turned back towards the district I felt more cramps. This time they forced me to walk. I tried to follow the lead of some Gallowayers to at least give me some structure to my revised plan. The walking gave me energy when I ran. Mile 19 - 12:29.
12:12, Finally Running. The next mile passed another water stop with more walking and finally a return to humanity and fans. As I ran off Hains Point there were very narrow running lanes due to the many fans crammed on the sides to cheer their loved ones. Minding my own business, I trudged on when all of a sudden I saw Susie standing in front of me. I couldn't resist running up to give her a hug and shake David's hand. I asked if she'd seen Michelle. Yes. Just a little bit ahead of me (she lied). How did I feel. I said something like I was okay and getting along fine. She snapped my picture and I moved on. 14:03.
12:26, 14th Street Bridge. I was thinking about how I only had a run around my lake at home to finish the race. That wasn't a far distance. Then it struck me that there were no long boring bridges around my lake. I was struggling some more and was embarassed when Eric from the Tidal Basin encounter saw me again and I was walking. Oh yeah. It's a run, I said and started up again. The foot cramps were becoming more regular and even though Mile 21 was over the river it was nowhere near the end of the highway to Crystal City. 14:10.
12:40, Marines World. I was approaching the four hour mark in the stretch and started calculating my chances for a finish time. I had five plus to go and, at my current pace, I had to only hope I could beat the Miami Marathon time of 5:00. Coming down into the Crystal City Street Spectacular I only noticed two things: wind and Marines. They were more prevalent at this water station for some reason. Maybe it's because I was walking through it. I missed the mile mark and hit the split a little late. 15:00.
12:55, Beer is Good. I had my last Gu before the water stop and soon thereafter came upon the beer oasis. I was still running but I stop for all beer. Even better, some guy was offering potato chips which have lots of salt which I believed might relieve my foot cramps. I took as much as I could carry. The mile went down to the turnaround and back up. There thousands of fans in this area with some sponsored interactive displays and a band to make it seem alive; far more so than the bridge. Mile 23 - 14:13.
1:04, A boring mile. I was not drawing any karma from the loud crowd as I left Crystal City, passing the Marines at the same water station and looping over the interstate towards the Pentagon. I kept alternating runs with walks. Running as often as I could, I raised my pace to give my legs a different feel. Sometimes I find that helps. 14:39.
1:19, Pentagon. I have two miles to go and it's starting to look iffy about beating the 5 hour time. I need to cover the next miles a little faster. The route around the Pentagon was boring with no fans and a lot of police. The sun was beating down and there was asphalt as fara as the eye could see. The road started to swell up and down too. 15:27.
1:34, Crippled. I approached the last mile in a blur. I could not calculate any numbers. I was concentrating on moving forward with the others around me. They did not inspire me either as a lot of my neighbors were walking. That included a Marine wearing an 8th Tanks shirt. We kept passing each other between our walks and runs.
I came along Washington Blvd. to the ramp leading down to Jefferson Parkway. The grade was steep and my right knee revolted. It could not run. I tried. Really I did. What do you do in such situations? I remembered Miami and the pains there. I had vowed then and again now not to race hurt and never run another race. I walked the last mile with my head hung. 21:30.
1:56, Iwo Jima. The turn up to the Iwo Jima Memorial was the last straw. I had every expectation and hope that my walking the 26th mile might afford me enough strength to run the last .2 and across the finish line. As I looked up the hill and stepped forward I felt such pain in my knee that I had to stop and walk up sideways. At the finish I feigned a jog for the cameramen (it worked) and crossed into MCM oblivion. The last .2 - 4:54.
2:01, Done. I got in the queue to receive my finisher medal but was happier about the Marine who gave me an orange. The LT gave me an cut one which I stripped of its skin over the next 20 minutes while devouring the sweet fruit. I headed off to the Autism tent to retrieve my bag. I put on my warm ups and weaved toward the mighty crowds of Ft. Myers Street. My first observation was a lot of folks sipping beer so I followed their drip lines and got a beer of my own. From there it was off to the farthest end of the street to the X-Y-Z meet-up zone, hopefully to find Michelle and anyone else.
I got there and found Richie and Bex with hubby E. It was windy and we exchanged a few race impressions before they headed out. Before they left I spotted Michelle and the Studdlies just a few yards away. We all said hey. A few pics were snapped. I retrieved my clothing and cell phone from Hubby before I hugged Michelle goodbye.
I stood around a little while wondering about Jeanne and Susie. I walked back a little ways thinking I might see them. The Finish Festival was too crowded and I was keen on getting home. I called both ladies and left messages. With hardly any battery strength left I saved my calls for Gil so to coordinate an extraction from the area. It took some time but we were successful. While I waited I had final phone calls with Jeanne and Susie. Au revoir my friends.
I might run this race again some day. I will definitely run another marathon, maybe the new one in Atlanta in March (hilly).