The Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon is done and it’s recap time! Saturday morning, Mom and I loaded up the car and headed to Fredericksburg. We went straight to the expo. All around Fred, were indications of the race – porta potties along the roads, signs welcoming runners, mile markers set up…
The expo was no different. Like all pre-race expos, vendors were set up offering free samples, products, advertisements for future races. I love expos. They always get me excited for the race. After collecting my bib and tech tee, mom and I went shopping!
Of course we had to buy t-shirts and headbands. Gotta have the souvenirs! The expo was fun and full of people. Loud music played and the Marine Marathon mascots were walking around taking pictures with everyone.
Once we were finished with the expo, we decided that we were hungry but didn’t want to eat too much because we were going to dinner at Bonefish Grill later. So where did we stop for a “snack”? Crave – for frozen yogurt! Of course we had to sample all the flavors first! After I started eating my delish concoction of peanut butter and birthday cake yogurt did I realize that I had not eaten that much dairy at one time in about 5 months. Unfortunately, I was stricken with terrible stomach pains for about 4 hours after that. Guess I learned my lesson on that one!
Moving on! After Crave, we checked into our hotel. Mom and I were both pretty tired so we took a little nap. After we woke up we got ready to go to dinner. We went to Bonefish Grill for pre-race grub because Sam works there! We got to see her and sit in her section. I had a super yummy spicy veggie pasta dish. It was so huge I could barely put a dent in it. But it filled me right up!
After we got back to the hotel, it started pouring down rain, complete with thunder and lightning. This worried me a lot because I had never ran a race in the rain and I was already thinking about the terrible blisters and chaffing I was bound to endure.
After some reading and an early bed time, mom and I went to sleep for a few hours. 5:00 am came quickly. It was time to race! I wore a hat as opposed to my usual headband because of the chance of rain.
By the time we were ready to leave there was no rain in sight – thank goodness! Mom dropped me off at the start and nabbed some awesome pictures before the race. I grabbed a spot in the corral right next to the medals and told myself that one of those would be mine in about 3 hours.
I love this race. They really put an emphasis on the historical aspects of Fredericksburg, as well as give lots of honor to the military. While standing in the corral, they played the Marine Corps warrior song. This hyped me up so much. It made me proud of my family and especially proud of my brother who will commissioned in July.
After a couple of bathroom breaks and some stretching, it was time to start! And who kicked off the race? No other than Drew Carey! He is a former Marine and wanted to honor the Marines by running this race. He was a first-time half marathoner. He said and few words and we were off!
*there he is!
As I jogged across the start line emotion hit me so hard. Starting a race is my favorite part. I love the feeling of pride and determination that surges through my body. Being surrounded by runners who have all worked so hard to get to that race is just so inspiring.
The race began like every other. I turned on my music and got into my groove. I slipped into a steady pace and the first few miles flew by. All along the course were spectators and crowds of people cheering. Out of all the races that I have ran, this one definitely has the most course support. It feels so good to have total strangers smile and cheer for you.
Lots of race volunteers, Marines, police officers and boy scouts were stationed along the course and at water stops. I made sure to tell everyone thank you. It was so uplifting to see the support the runners also gave the volunteers. Pretty much every runner would tell the Marines thank you as they passed. Lots of high fives and cheers were passed around. It was so uplifting that you almost forget you’re running a race.
At the half-way point, I knew I would see my mom. And sure enough as a rounded a corner, there she was. She stood and cheered and took lots of pictures. Seeing her always gives me that extra boost.
As I approached mile 8, my legs started to feel achy. Hunger also started to gnaw at my stomach. I knew I still had a ways to go, so I made sure to get enough Gatorade at every water stop and take my time to drink it. I definitely needed the sugar. Because rain was in the area, the air was super thick and muggy. I was sweating like crazy. My face was caked in salt. But I had to push on.
The last half of the race was harder than the first and the worst was yet to come. Hospital hill – the dreaded mile long hill behind Mary Washington Hospital – infamous for being the toughest part of the course.
I slowly made my way up the hill, and knew after that hill and one more medium-sized hill, I was home free. So I just kept pushing myself and telling myself I was almost finished. All around me were strong and inspiring people, all pushing themselves for the common goal of finishing this race. I don’t know who any of those people were, but they all helped me power through.
Finally, I reached mile 12. As I came along the last mile, people were cheering like crazy. I saw my mom and Sam along the street and gave them a big smile and wave. A few more yards later, and I was finished with my 5th half marathon.
It felt so good to be done. A medal was placed around my neck by a Marine. I chugged a bottle of water, grabbed a Gatorade and bagel, then took a picture with Thomas Jefferson. I told you Fredericksburg loves their history!
I found mom and Sam and got lots of hugs. My heart rate finally slowed, and I instantly wanted to run again even though my legs were screaming. I guess I was riding that post-race high!
After lunch with Sam, mom and I headed back to our area. I was ready for a long shower and a nap!
It was an amazing weekend. I am so grateful for mom and Sam. Having people there to support you really makes the race more fun. I love them!
This is probably the toughest course I have ever ran, but a favorite because of the genuine love and support for everyone involved in the race. I am so thankful for all the awesome volunteers, spectators, race officials and the US Marine Corps. They put on a great race and one I hope to run for years to come!