Sunday, February 12, 2012

Race 8 Soldier Marathon

November 12, 2011 (my first marathon), Columbus, GA

I was deeply humbled to have been given the opportunity to participate in Soldier Marathon on Veteran’s Day weekend.  Reading the stories of the men and women (at the National Infantry Museum) who have made the ultimate sacrifice so I can enjoy the freedom that I do was quite emotional.  The debt of gratitude, a debt that cannot be repaid, became very clear while taking in all the National Infantry Museum had to offer.  Also, I was overwhelmingly impressed with the professionalism, courtesy, respect, and encouragement shown to us from all of the soldiers who helped with the race. 

This was so much more than a race.

The clock read 3:42 AM – why I ever thought I needed to set alarms to get up I’ll never know.  Luckily the Days Inn had a coffee maker in the room – coffee brewing, making a peanut butter on raisin bagel – having a rerun of NCIS or watching the weather channel just didn’t seem to fit…  So I downloaded the theme from Rocky I & II and Chariots of Fire to my iPad – a race day medley!  This will be part of the routine from now on 

Arrived at the National Infantry Museum with plenty of time.  This was nice as it was heated (had to scrape ice of the windshield that morning).  The start of this race was unique – the firing of a canon - we were off.

My race strategy was to jog 2 minutes and walk 3 minutes for the first half and then see what made sense at that point.  The first part of the race was the best – obviously having ‘fresh’ legs helped but also this part of the race was on Fort Benning and I really like running on post.

The next 15 miles of the race are pretty much a blur.  I do not remember much about them.  I think at about the half way point I switched to walking only (maybe a few jogs– but not much).

Around mile 20 something (22, 23, 24?) met up with Marsha (from the Marathon Walking site forum).  This was good as she provided inspiration and pace.  A mile or so after that we met up with another woman who was struggling (and verbally questioning why she was even doing this…).   She was asking me questions… (I had no answers for her, I was still fighting my own internal battle) but I did let her know that this was Marsha’s 99th time doing this.  This was very cool to observe, I could ‘see’ inspiration happening.  Marsha became her inspiration for the rest of the race.

I finished with a time just under 6 hours.  My watch had 5:54 but I’ll have to wait and see when they post the results to see my official time.

There were many people near the finish line cheering.  This was nice.  Crossing over the finish line I was greeted and congratulated by 15, 20, 25? soldiers.  Much appreciated!!!

Much of the post race food was gone by this time – no biggie – they still had water, powerade, Coca Cola, cookies,…  

The drive home (~120 miles) was anticlimactic and included a few stops just to get out, stretch, and get some food.  Once home after a shower and a nap had pizza and a couple of beers – seemed to taste much better than usual 
Later that evening, walking was quite difficult and I’m sure I looked extremely odd to anyone observing this.  This did cause me to google ‘aches after marathon’ which had a link to a youtube video of a girl ‘trying’ to walk a few hours post marathon – this made me feel better because it looked exactly like how was walking.

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