Holy hills, under boob chafage and drill instructors…
Well, I did it. Another race is in the books and I am spending yet another Monday at work with sore quads and a dopey smile. The Crossroads 17.75k is over and like with all races, I want to run it again. Blame is on the runner’s high, because no one in their right mind would run that course any time soon.
Let me back up though..the Crossroads began with packet pick up Friday afternoon at VA Runner in Woodbridge. I was almost immediately intimidated when every car in the parking lot had a 26.2 magnet on it. My truck only has a measly 13.1 magnet, so I knew I was dealing with some big dogs.
Upon walking into the store, the butterflies kicked into high gear when I saw I was the only female and every man picking up his packet was a fit, buff Marine. So I did what any intimidated girl would do. I turned on the swagger and acted like it was nothing, bought some Gu gels and went on my way. Race. Pro. At least I pretended to be.
Saturday morning came too fast. I never sleep well on race nights so I was tired. But the adrenaline kicked in pretty quickly and I ended up looking like this…
ready to run! Buster was ready to run too!
I drove to the rent’s house so mom and I could go to the start line together. I let Marcus sit this race out. At about 6:00am, we caught a shuttle to the start line. The race was pretty small, so mom was able to hang out with me right until the race started.
We spent the hour chatting. I stretched, took four- yes four bathroom breaks, and tried to suppress the butterflies.
I was happy to look around at the race start and see a lot more people who looked like me. Sure, there were buff Marines, but there were also girls my age, older folks, even kids. This helped…a little.
That hour went by fast and before I knew it, the race was starting. The cool thing about being nervous is that the second my foot crosses the timing mat at the start, the nerves disappear. Instantly, I turn into a warrior, ready to tackle the race no matter what. It never fails. It is the most ridiculously awesome feeling in the world. I love starting a race. That adrenaline boost is unlike anything else.
The race started off pretty normal. We ran about 2.5 miles on a main highway. The sun was coming up and I felt great. After those few miles though…it all changed.
As we approached the entrance to Prince William Forest, a female drill instructor was waiting. No more jogging for us runners. With her screaming and yelling, we all sprinted up the hill and into the woods.
It. was. awesome. I mean who doesn’t perform better with someone yelling at them?
The few miles that followed were on unpaved gravel. This was the first time I ever ran a trail-like, unpaved race. I loved it. I barely even noticed the miles. I was super focused on my footing so the running was a breeze. Also, the course was really hilly so that offered some distraction.
Along the trail were signs with funny sayings on them like, “my grandma can run faster than you” and “any day now, Alice.” Believe it or not, I found them motivating…and pretty funny.
As I came up on mile six, I encountered another drill instructor. He was at the bottom of a hill and yelled at me to pass the two women in front of me. I don’t think I ever ran up a hill faster in my life. I passed the women and was greeted by a water stop. I paused to take a breather and drink some Gatorade, but the drill instructor had other plans, and literally chased me through the water station.
It was hilarious because the whole time he was screaming, he was calling me ma’am. I guess they couldn’t be too rude to us. He was great, and definitely gave me more push.
Miles 7-9 were not my favorite. We were back on paved road and the hills…oh the hills. They were killer. Every time I ran down one, another followed. I knew the hills were going to be tough. But this was tougher than tough. So I just took it one hill at a time and kept telling myself that we would be through the forest soon.
Finally we came upon another main highway and I knew we were close to the finish. Mile 10 was easy and pretty flat. I was able to run out the cramps in my legs and catch my breath again.
As we turned down Route 1 and approached the entrance to the Marine Corps Museum, my two favorite people were waiting for me…the drill instructors, along with the last hill of the course.
Their yelling and motivation really pushed me up that hill and even though I wasn’t fast, I got up it.
With the end in site, I pushed out the last few yards. I saw my mom immediately and gave her my standard “I’m exhausted, but so happy” smile, and ran towards the finish line.
As I approached the finish line, the announcer called out my name. Since the race was so small, the runners were spread out so I pretty much crossed the finish line by myself. It was super cool.
So many people were at the finish line offering high fives and congrats. I felt like a rock star. I collected my finisher’s coin and chugged some water and ate a bagel. I had just ran the hardest course of my life and it was awesome.
Thoughts on the race:
-It truly was the hardest course I ever ran. Even though I was really hating life on some of those hills, it was one of my favorite races. I loved the challenge.
-The race was small, about 600 people. I liked that because there was never a time where I felt too clustered up. And I got to hang with mom right until I started.
-The race people recycle the signage from the Marine Corps Marathon.
-The Marines put on a good race. This is the third one I have ran, and I am impressed every time. They are so organized and all of the volunteers are so nice.
-I wish we were given finisher’s medal as opposed to coins. I realize the tradition of giving coins in the military, but I sure do love hanging another medal on my rack.
-I love my mom. She stood out there for two hours in the cold and rain waiting for me to finish. She’s amazing. 🙂
-I have so much respect for people who run. It takes a lot of courage and strength to run any kind of distance. I felt honored to run along side the people who really pushed themselves and worked hard that morning.
Wilson Bridge Half Marathon next weekend. Yeaaa buddy! Thanks for reading!! Have a fab one! 😀