After weeks of training and running seemingly endless miles, it was marathon week. At the beginning of the week, the forecast for run day was mid-50s and sunny. Within 24 hours, the forecast had dropped to low 30s with the possibility of snow. Thankfully, the prediction of snow moved to Sunday and the temperature had risen 10 degrees.
Thursday night was the Back On My Feet 1st Birthday Bash at the JW Marriott downtown. Bing was selected as one of a few speakers for the festivities, so there was no question that we would be there to cheer him on. Anne Mahlum kicked off the night telling her story and Bing was then brought to the stage. He retold his story and how he connected with BOMF and was 2 days away from the longest run of his life. Needless to say, he brought the room to tears with his emotional journey. Following a great dinner and dessert, we said our goodbyes with hopes of an earlier bedtime.
Friday was packet pick up day. John was number 102, I was 107 and Bing was 126. We had our bibs, shirts and bags of 589693 random advertisements ready to go. We then made our plan to reconvene for some chicken and pasta to carbo-load before the big day. A few hours later we were eating away while catching up on some March Madness Basketball. 12 hours to go...
The 5am alarm rang and it was time to get ready. Having everything laid out made life easy, but there was still nervous energy as we worked our way to RFK Stadium for the start of the race. We met up with other Back On My Feet runners and did our traditional calisthenics and stretching. We wished the others well and went to the starting line.
In the starting area, John, Bing, Amanda and I went over our plan to keep an even pace and take our time over the 26.2 miles. The horn sounded and we were all off. We crossed the starting line about ten minutes after the horn and headed out on the course. We go to Lincoln Park and saw John's wife Cory and his sister Karen and Karen's boyfriend Steve. We had expected to hear Cory's trademark cowbell, but as we ran by, she suggested that the neighbors had told her that 7:30 on a Saturday was too early for a ringing cowbell. Babies. We moved passed mile one and saw my folks who had journeyed down from snowy New England to wake up at the crack of dawn, go out into the cold, and cheer us on. I would argue that running a marathon is less difficult than cheering on runners for 26 miles in the cold.
The miles went by quickly...we kept an incredibly even pace of 9:00 minute miles. The crowds were active and very supportive as we passed Lincoln Park, the Capitol, Union Station and the Mall. We cut up 18th Street heading north towards Dupont Circle. As we moved on Connecticut Avenue under Dupont Circle we saw the first of our supporters, Cara Sheridan, her fiance Adam and pooch Latte. Not only did the have a great sign, but Latte was fully dressed for the occasion.
We continued north into Adams Morgan with incredible support. There were bands, DJs and countless screaming fans. We passed Wendy Davis who came out with co-workers to scream support. We cut back south passed Howard University with great student support. As we hit mile 9, John stopped for a bathroom break and said "stay left and I will catch up". We saw Dave Delcher out cheering and then ran into the CUArch cheering section with Michelle Rinehart, Aidan Fredericks, Mike Doster, Alex Bahr and Lee Cooper [I think there were others, but in my attempt to not trip over my own feet, I couldn't look to the side for too long]. We got high fives as we went by.
We passed mile 10, then mile 11. With encouragement from BOMF team members Carolyn, Kristen and Ellis we turned onto H Street NE. Soon we were back at RFK and the half marathoners were splitting off to finish as we wrapped around the stadium. Still no John. We passed Lincoln Park and saw Cory, Karen and Steve again. Cory informed us that John was not lying in a ditch along the race route, rather her had connected with another team member, Tyrone, and was running with him.
We weaved through DC again and cut south under the mall in SW DC. As we approached Nationals Stadium and mile 19, Bing's legs decided they were not interested in continuing. He had hit a wall. Amanda and I did everything we could to keep him loose and moving forward. Bing gave the proverbial "go on without me" [insert Arnold Schwarzenegger voice here...thankfully he did not yell "Get to the chopper!"] We reminded him that we were pretty sure that we weren't going to win and we were doing this insanity as a team. Bouncing between walking and running for the next couple of miles, at miles 23 Bing made the decree that he was going to finish and nothing was going to stop him. BOMF DC Executive Director, Autumn Campbell, joined us in working to finish the race.
We came out of Anacostia Park and went up the hills of Minnesota Avenue. We made the turn onto East Capitol Street and could see RFK. All we had to do was run halfway around the stadium and cross the finish line. As we navigated around the stadium, we could see the crowd increasing and then saw the finish line. Carolyn, Kristen and Ellis screamed from the right and my folks, Maureen and Brighid cheered from the left. Step after step...We crossed the finish line as a team and all immediately embraced.
National Marathon - Details
We looked down at our medals and tried to take in the last 4+ hours. It is incredible how after torturing your legs for 26 miles, when you have finished and see everyone who has supported you, you feel no pain. After posing for few photos we gathered our belongings and waited for John and Tyrone. A few minutes later, they crossed the finish line and we began to recount the morning's journey.
We split up to go shower and relax and then reconvened for big, juicy hamburgers followed by cake and ice cream. After months of preparing, we had attacked the National Marathon and won.
Thanks for everyone for their emotional and financial support. We are so proud of all the runners especially our BOMF brothers and sisters! We are planning on a few days to rest the legs and then will be back our for our normal morning runs. Come out and join us!!!