An Explanation for Why the Hot Doc’s Rules Don’t Apply in Washington D.C.
National Marathon, 2011.
Friday = arrive, Expo = fun because we were in good company, Dinner = excellent, my morale = a few rough moments because I wasn’t running, Music = "Old School", beige mini-van = no ego, bed time = decent, and 4something am = wake up…
The Hotel had a shuttle. We contemplated using it. Glad we didn’t. The shuttle was a complete fail. As in- me to the pack of runners freaking out on the sidewalk, “We have 2 extra seats in the van… anyone want them?” Meet John and his wife Jackie. First time marathoner, and first time marathon spectator. John was a red shirt.
The METRO didn’t open until 6am, thus pretty much every runner had to drive in…. that’s not an issue right? I mean, it’s not like the city of Washington DC is tough to drive in on a given day... 50 minutes into our 5 mile drive the van emptied of Runners.
I managed to park, illegally in the grass, and sprint a half mile to start corral #7 to meet Jen, see IronJ & KC off to the Half, say Hi to Kty and give T her last instructions. “There is no Parcheesi. There is no wall. I will see you around mile 13.” Snap a few photos. Race start.
I ran with them for ½ mile or so…. And walked back to my car to read. Fortunately, I have a Kindle with a really good book in it for a non-running runner.
I exited my car with a new sense of purpose and refocused vision, and wandered up to the Armory to find mile 13. No mile markers to be found. No idea what road is which on the postage stamp sized map in the program. I ended up waiting “around” mile 14 because, I knew I couldn’t miss her at that point and I was afraid to move. Met a woman named Tennessee from Brooklyn, we cheered for random people ~ GO BEARD GUY! GO CRAZY PANTS DUDE! HEY AMY & AMANDA, HAVE FUN OUT THERE!
I connected with Lion (an adorable HCB who gets major points for driving up to run in ShyA & SpeeDee) around now and we waited together for our respective Posse members.
I picked up T for about 5 or so minutes at this point. I know about what pace she was running, and “about” where she was on the pace band, but no way to truly know for sure or give update because there were no mile markers on the course. No seriously. There were also no H2O stops to be found either.
At this point I left T with the words, “I’ll see you at MILE 21”… and jogged back (it’s a soft J) through the course. Said HI to Cass’s Paul as he ran by me, and then I saw Lion with ShyA and SpeeDee 100 yards back. SpeeDee (love you, but…you) looked terrible. I was worried. Very worried. ShyA left her to run her own race, and then Lion & I left SpeeDee with the words, “Don’t’ worry, we’ll COME BACK FOR YOU”.
Lion and I were a little lost in the city. Headed to Lion’s car to drop off SpeeDee’s stuff… and suddenly I looked at my watch and said, “we need to be ON the Metro by now… oh, S#it”.
We hoofed it to the Metro, bought our tickets, and I looked at the map. From the M stop on the other side it was a short ½ mile walk to the course. But I looked at Lion and said, “Here’s the thing. We’re going to have to get oriented when we get up there… it’s going to be tight… if T’s running the fast pace, I might miss her…”. We changed trains, rode to Anacostia (all while I'm thinking in my head the joke of the weekend was "let's not get accosted in Anacostia") and the station on the other side was definitely “rough” feeling. No worries, I’m sure there’s someone from the race somewhere up there is my desperate hope as I’m riding (while jogging) up the escalator toward the daylight.
Lion and I were washed in a blast of sunshine as we stepped onto the street, and when our vision cleared we realized… This was bad.
Bad in the way Bruce Willis would use the word in a Die Hard movie back when he had some hair... Bad the way Mel Gibson would use the word in a Lethal Weapon movie back when he had some morals… it was definitely the old school use of the word.
Remember that short ½ mile walk? Well. The underpass under the freeway was a no go, blocked due to construction. We were going to have to run for it. HD’s rules were temporarily going to have to be suspended.
Here we were. 2 white runners jogging through ghetto.
Female. Cute. Lost. = A trifecta of badness.
You know what would make this story more interesting? The part where the two or three guys thought we were worth chasing. Insert 7:30 minute pace here. Lion’s a sport, and didn’t even panic when I quietly said to her, “Fast runners back.”… insert 7:15 pace here. Survivor = outlast. I knew we couldn’t out sprint anyone, but thank you endurance training… crack smoking doesn’t apparently provide that benefit.
Thank GOD (I mean that too) for the street side sermon going on and the nice preacher who waved us down and said, “You girls looking for something?”
“We need XYZ Street,” I gasped.
“OK. You see where that car turned there?” uh huh we nod, “You all turn there and follow it to the end…. And. don’t. stop. OK?” uh huh we nod.
And the tempo pace continues as I’m now racing the clock to TMB’s pace band. IF T’s on pace, I’ve missed her. How will I know? Poor Lion had to listen to me freak out a little. She’s a trooper. Because I know if I’d missed T there was no way I would know. We arrived on the course and walked backwards to the H2O stop to fill our bottles and recover. We’re scanning the crowds for anyone we knew…. And there she was… I breathed. I had missed her at mile 21. I never would have forgiven myself for missing her at mile 22.5 (which is where I ultimately picked her up).
I hopped into the course and started running with T. She looked really good. My prepared statement of “suckage” wasn’t relevant. Instead I tried to think of anything I could to cheer her or occupy her thoughts. I really should have prepared SOMETHING… and....
THIS part is T’s STORY. Go read it if you want… but it's hers to tell.
Mile 26.X ~ I hopped off the course as she entered the chute and sprinted to try to catch a photo. I couldn’t get close enough. I then pushed my way through the crowds to meet her at the food tent. As we walked through the line I realized, oh yea, I haven’t eaten in HOURS. I wolfed down a bagel. Took some photos. And when I felt recovered, I texted LION.
“ShyA is in. I can’t find SPEEDEE” is her reply. I sent the posse to the car, spent a few minutes looking for ShyA, and when I didn’t find her, I started backward through the course.
And this is where I learned a lot about marathoning, coaching, and being a general GALACATIC BADASS. Inspired by Pam at Thirty S....
I saw a girl really struggling. I called out her name off her bib… she looked confused and hopeless, and so... I hopped on the course to run with her for a minute… “Hey,” I said, “Do you hear the sound that’s like a dull roar?”… “Yes…” she nods… “THAT is the sound of YOUR VICTORY. The finish is right there… you can practically see it. Go get it.” Her face lit up, she smiled and thanked me… and picked it up. I turned around…
…and continued to jog back looking for Dee.
A beautiful girl with a long black ponytail said on a gasp of pain, “Am I close?” and I hopped out on the course with her and said, “you’re right here, see, look at that turn? The finish is right after that turn. You can do anything for two minutes right?” “...but I hurt so bad she cries…” and I said, “Well then, I think you better just run it in so it’s done sooner...” and I picked up my pace, and she matched me while saying "Thank you for running me in...", and I cheered LOUDLY, "GO GET IT!" as she left me to head for her marathon finish. I turned around…
…and continued to jog back looking for Dee.
HCBs: Lion, ShyA and SpeeDee
In the meantime I shouted every BIB name I could READ, cheering loudly… "GO BEARD GUY!" “Hey red shirt – run hard!” I shouted. I stopped jogging on the bridge and stood. I knew my mileage was kind of high for the fankle. Things hadn’t gone to plan. But I told SpeeDee I would come back for her. So that’s what I was doing. And there, down the bridge was a white spec with tall socks… and somehow I knew it was her… so I picked up a jog, and ran to her and Lion waving and dancing wildly. Lion and I ran her to within a half mile of the finish, and I hopped off and walked so SpeeDee could finish her race. We bumped into two Smiling HCB J’s said "Hi", and then went on to find SpeeDee and ShyA in the masses. I stopped to send a few text updates and then walked the HCB’s back to the car, taking random photos of their victory.
Over all, it was a good day. Half Marathoners were pleased. T got a XX minute PR. ShyA came within minutes of a goal time and got a HUGE PR. SpeeDee finished in the way she wanted, goal achieved. Lion and I bonded and survived to tell the tale. My coaching debut was over...
And yes, it was a good day. I think I learned more about running while I was spectating/"coaching" at National marathon than I have ever learned running a marathon.
Final thoughts? This was the first and last Team GBA outing to this race as far as I’m concerned… National Marathon is too large to be that disorganized. There are too many OTHER spring marathons in the WORLD to make this a repeat event. Skip National and do Shamrock instead... or even better? Come run the Monument Ave 10K for your spring race, and run Richmond in the fall.
OH, and reflecting back on the HD’s rules... I ultimately only ran about 9.5 miles, not the 12.5 I thought... and most of those miles were run between a 9:30 and 10 minute pace....