The fun (or not so fun) part of our story this year was our walk to the start. Last year we did the Runner's World Challenge - we paid a bit extra to get some seminars with the editors of Runner's World, special warm up tent (great when it's cold) with private bag check and bathrooms (that in itself is the best reason to do it) and a post race private party. It's sooooooo convenient and easy, and we loved it last year.
This year we stayed in the same hotel and headed bout to the start about 15 minutes later than we did last year. Last year we walked with the Runner's World crew - and it was perfect. You end up walking from the hotel about a 1/2 mile, then past the start line (we took pictures both years there) talking to Marines the whole way, and into the Runner's Village where the Runner's World tent is. THIS year, we left after the Runner's World crew ( we knew where we were going, so we gave ourselves a little more time to sleep). We head back out on the same path as lost year. Now, at the pre-race strategy session the day before, Rick Nealis (the Race Director) talked to us about the start, getting there, extra security, etc etc. It was confirmed that there were three checkpoints - to get to the Runner's Village at the start you had to go through one of those checkpoints. Ok, no problem. As we headed toward Arlington National Cemetery, we passed through checkpoint A (I think). Marines were lining a group of tables, checking backs, etc. Then we walked through the start area (right under the big blow up starting line arch) and headed to the village, just like last year.
We went under an overpass to head into the parking area that was staging the Runner's Village. There we were stopped by two police officers. They told us that we could not go in that way, that we had to go through the checkpoint at the Pentagon. Umm, what? We had just gone through security up the road!! Arguing ensued. Then we headed up the street to try to go to the Pentagon entrance. We were about 200 yds down the road when someone was running toward up yelling "there's no tim! It's an hour to the Pentagon entrance on foot!" We turned around (by this time there were probably 20 or doe people with us) and went back to the police officers. More arguing. At this point, people were LEAVING the runner's village and heading toward the start line. We were all panicking. People were yelling and crying - we needed to get into the runner's village to drop our bags, use the restroom, etc. We could;t just drop our bags at the side of the road - we had room keys, ID, phones, clothes, etc. Tim remembered that last night we got an e-mail from Jen V. - someone had left something behind at the strategy session, and she wasted to return it - so we had her phone number. Tim called her and they arranged to have a Runner's World staff member come to the exit of the Runner's Village (where we were still standing and arguing) come and just take our bags, if we could not get in. Then the police officer heard us and said "There are NO bags getting through here! You have to go through security!" to which everyone started screaming "WE ALREADY DID!!!" There was talk of arresting people if anyone tried to breach security, etc etc - it was very tense and crazy. We had taken off our garbage bags (for warmth) and I took my hat off because the officers kept talking to us and pushing us away from the entrance. The yelling between Tim and the officers was getting bad and I was afraid that this was it, we were getting arrested. There was one very calm gentleman who kept saying to the police officer "Sir, you have been misinformed". He was calmly trying to get him to call someone, anyone who could confirm that we HASD gone through security up the road!
By now, there had to be 100 runners desperate to get in. SO many people were headed out to the start - jot was getting confusing. The associate from Runner's World came out - we saw him and ran to him - and while he tried to take our bags, he just said "Let's go" and we just ran in. I was waiting for the police officer to grab my shoulder but we just ran. We met up with David Wiley (Runner's World editor) and he had walked all the way to the Pentagon entrance after being turned away 15 minutes before us!! He was angry and tired but he said "Leave it here. Don't let this ruin the race." Good advice .
We made it to the tent, checked our bags, used the bathrooms and did our final prep, then headed right back tout to the start. Tim thought that ok, we had no time to stress about the race because of this, let's use that to our advantage. We get lined up, listen to the music, watched the parachutes come in, and off we went!
I really had no idea how this was going to go for me. My whole hip/IT band issues have made for a few months of not feeling great. I decided that 9 min pace would be good. The only issue I had was that around mile 3 I realized that I needed to find a bathroom. I couldn't decide if I should just stop (losing time) or just ignore it (losing time anyway, it's had to push a pace with a bursting bladder). I contemplated my options until mile 11, when I just forgot about it. I'll never know if that was a huge mistake or the right choice. Maybe that was the difference between a 3:59 and a 4:05, but I'll never know!
The course is great, constant encouragement and support. The people are always great. I never stopped, never walked, and help steady for the entire race. I saw Bart Yasso at mile 25 and waved - he was so encouraging, but I had nothing left at that point. I'm just happy that I was steady and never stopped. Once again I shook hangs with every single Marine after I crossed the line, and hugged the Marines that gave me my medal. Then I hobbled to find Tim.
The greatest marathon. I'm so happy and lucky to have the opportunity to do this one (twice!!)