With the NYC Marathon just days away, I figured it was time to look back on another of the races that helped get me this far. It’s not always pretty… it’s certainly not easy… and sometimes the reward doesn’t show up till much later. But every mile is another one closer to the big 26.2, it’s another mile I that wouldn’t have been run otherwise.
Back in September, Megan and I packed bags, jumped on a train, and head down to Washington DC for the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon. Let’s just say the trip started out on the opposite then right foot, with a cab driver who wasn’t quite sure how to get to Penn Station (NYC problems)… and the fun continued as we, in early morning Amtrak required glasses and oversize sweatshirt, watched very drunk people tottle around Penn waiting for their commuter trains home on a Saturday night (morning).
Once on the train, it was smooth track for the morning. Having never been to the country’s capitol, I was excited to see a new city, earn a new medal, and see the sights. We pulled in as the sun was just starting to lighten the sky over the White House and bound past the chatty homeless people outside into out waiting car (thanks Aunt Diane!).
Saturday morning was for coffee, monument viewing, and packet pickup. The Expo… sort of disappointing I have to say. Either I’ve been spoiled by the BK Half party of an expo or I was looking forward to the massive Marathon every… There just wasn’t must to see or things to do. Get your number, get your shirt.. look over the green of the ball park and head back to the car. Ok, so at least it was easy to get into and out of! With race numbers acquired, the only other thing to do was eat well and sight see- not wearing ourselves out to much- and rest before the race the next day.
This is when we really got a taste of the weekend weather— seasonally way to hot and HUMID— so not my ideal race conditions. * Side note, I’ll run in rain, snow, wind, the dark, etc without a single complaint… but as soon as it’s excessively hot and humid without a breeze, I’m out. I overheat way to fast! * I should have known then to re-evaluate my race plan and not push it. But did I listen, of course not.
5:30AM Sunday morning- We are up, dressed, hydrated, and out by 6. The Start line right by the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial was beautiful as the sun rose with just a few clouds in the sky. Energy was high all around as runners and teams assembled to start out on the 13.1 mile trek. I felt good till about mile 4, that’s when I started to feel the heat. The sun was up and the course, while relatives flat, had minimal coverage and only breeze when we were by the water. Starting around mile 6 (at least I got through the 10k) I started alternating Run a Mile, Walk a Mile. I was determined to finish, but could feel my shoulders locking up and my breath getting short.
It was about this time that I started to question HOW I was going to make it through the 26.2 miles in November that I was planning on doing. But anyone else who runs (any distance really) you know that running is as much mental as it is physical. I had to get my head space into a better place- fast! other wise I knew I wouldn’t finish this race or any other. Singing, reading other runners shirts, looking at the scenery all around me, feeding off the crowds and giving every high-5 I came across.
Having family and friends on the course seriously helped. The community support and energy was amazing on this race and I would say really kept me going. Each water station had a different theme and made all kinds of noise! We actually got to vote for our favorite water/cheer station, so they had an awesome reason to pull out all the stops and make noise! Leading up to the finish line, more and more people could be heard cheering and encouraging us along. To exhausted to sprint the finish and knowing I wasn’t gunning for a PR, I crossed in at 2:45 and, the hot sweaty tired mess that I was, earned her DC medal!
OK, so the race itself wasn’t bad… it was all me… and the bad part came later……. post walk to the car and post shower… my usual post race migraine. Ok, that’s nothing to surprising, I’m sure you are tired of hearing me mention it. Usually I can sleep it off, eat something and be fine- ready to see more of the city… but not this time. Hours later there I am, curled up on the couch, so sick to my stomach, migraine and all with ice and crackers. What a great way to end a race day! Could it get any worse? Of course!- I had to get on a train and get back to NYC. Oh great…
Once the actual being sick part stopped I was just tired. I was that annoying person on the train taking up 2 seats (sorry y’all). Try sleeping curled up on a train car with a migraine after running 13.1 miles… actually, don’t try that- take my word for it- NOT FUN!
Sunday night- September 18th, 2016… what happened that night? Anyone? Anyone at all? Elizabeth, NJ. Ring any bells yet?
Yes, that night- while I (and tons of other passengers) were just trying to get back to NYC, although very few of them had just run a half and even fewer had a stomach bug and migraine… I digress- there were bombs discovered at a train station in Elizabeth NJ. (this is after the Chelsea NYC incident)
We got stopped in Trenton NJ. For like 3 hours. Stuck on a train in the middle of nowhere New Jersey at 11pm. You can imagine how thrilled everyone was.
After about an hour of being stuck, contacts came out and glasses went on. The social media and google searches began to find out exactly what was going on… cause, bless our train crew, they were not telling us much and clearly overwhelmed (and tired… wait, that was ALL of us). Eventually we were moved up a few station and a little closer to the city. There we de-trained and were told, “Shuttle busses will be available for transport to New York or stations past the incident”. That’s great! We all thought… till it was only 2 busses. 2 busses for a whole train of passengers.
Now, 2am maybe, due tempers!
Ok, maybe it didn’t get that bad… but as the wait for more busses continued (and we were eventually told they got lost and not coming, so other busses were being arranged) people- complete strangers- began banding together to get home. Calling Uber cars to various destinations there 4-6 people were headed.
We broke down and went in with 4 others to get back to Penn. It’s 4:45am. Trying not to totally pass out in the very back seat of as SUV, I honestly hardly remember getting to Penn and promptly falling into a cab with Megan to get home.
5:30am Monday morning- When I fall into my bed, fully dressed and totally exhausted, just so glad to be home and off that darn train. Pain, hunger, excitement all gone, all I wanted to do was sleep and sleep and sleep.
I don’t know that I’ve had a longer 24 hours. Needless to say, I was not at work that day. About 3pm, when I woke up, it was time to evaluate the food situation, stinky laundry pile, and add the medal to the wall. I got through one of those things before promptly going back to bed.
Maybe not the best race. Maybe not the best travel. But it does make a great story.
Anyone else run the 2016 Navy-Air Force Half in DC? Or get stuck on a commuter train that night? I’d love to hear shared stories here!