This is part 1 of my 40th MCM race recap. I needed to share this special part of the journey first before I shared the rest.
I always share about my upcoming races, but I was really nervous about sharing my journey to the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon. If you follow me on Instagram you may remember when I posted that I was in! I was beyond excited! Then fear stripped me of my desire to share updates, progress, and just excitement of the process. I knew this race was going to be different from other races I’ve done in the past, but it was still going to be a beautiful journey.
I wanted to run for charity this year so I researched different ones and discovered Team Fisher House for the Fisher House Foundation. Then I found out it was the 40th year of the Marine Corps Marathon. At first, a “Marine Corps” marathon just sounded grueling and plain scary. I started reading up on it, asking past runners, and I heard nothing but great things about this race. It didn’t take long for me to know that this was the race I wanted to run and Team Fisher House is where I belonged. I love Fisher House Foundation’s mission. They are making a mark in the lives of countless military families. I began my fundraising and this is the one part I didn’t shy away from.The training process was a different motivation for me and I welcomed it. I faced a lot of challenges during my training. I had illness in my family, I was running back and forth to the hospital, I was stressed completely out, and I gained weight. The stress started to affect my health. I had a mini-breakdown the weekend of my 20-miler because I was over-committing myself. So much was going on: family, work, training, dream teaming, and other obligations that could not be put on the back burner. Then add: blogging, coursework, celebration dinners, and events…just to name a few. I had to take a step back and refocus. I found ways to deal with my stress. Thank God for sounding board and prayer warriors. I got a plan and lost the weight I gained (yes, even during marathon training). I couldn’t let anything distract me from my MISSION!
A marathon is no easy feat, but Oh My God! Did I mention that I have to Beat a freakin’ Bridge, too?! I was TERRIFIED! This was THE MOST terrified I had ever been preparing for a race in my life. Even more than my first half marathon and first marathon. I knew MCM was going to be a tough race physically, mentally, and emotionally. Leading up to the race, I allowed so much fear and anxiety to consume me. I kept hearing runners talk about “Beat the Bridge”—basically you had to maintain a 14 minute per mile pace to reach the 14th Street Bridge and successfully “Beat the Bridge”. If you didn’t make it by the cut-off time (1:15 p.m.) you would get “swept” (i.e., placed on the straggler bus aka the bus of shame) and driven to the event finish area. I’m used to races where you have to finish before the sweepers—but for me, this race was different. I’m a back-of-the-pack runner and I was so scared I wouldn’t beat the bridge, especially after hearing horror stories. And I heard many of them. I became so overwhelmed with anxiety over beating the bridge that I almost talked myself out of the race. I was running this race for something greater than myself and I didn’t want to be a failure. I was a top fundraiser, I couldn’t quit! My Sister said to me, “Why are you making this bridge your idol? You can’t allow it to put fear in you!” If you could have heard her tone. I remained silent. I felt like a kid in 1st grade getting scolded by the teacher for misbehaving. I knew better and she was right! I had to keep negative thoughts out of my head, beat the bridge, and finish strong. I prayed about it and got it in my mind that God was BIGGER than the bridge before me.
I started off strong, hills and all, which would give me enough time to beat the bridge (make it past mile 20) and shake the edge off. I would also gain 2 minutes per mile for the remaining 6.2 miles. The course was tough! I mean really tough physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then leg cramps hit me at mile 15 with a vengeance. I didn’t even experience these cramps during my training! It slowed me down. I stretched, walked, and started back running. I refused to give up.
Negative thoughts, fear, and doubt will try to take you out of the game before your body is even ready. I have learned that running will always have its challenges, but the end results are so rewarding. This is the very reason I was able to give it my all, keep pressing, and keep pushing to beat the bridge with time to spare AND finish this race!
There’s something about being above the clouds…
On my flight home I had time to reflect over the race weekend. I wanted to share this with anyone reading this: if you are discouraged, please don’t EVER give up on your dreams or a goal placed in your heart. This race was a true test of my faith and faith in myself. I set out to run THIS marathon and I didn’t care how slow or fast I ran it. I was going to complete it! Yes, it was super tough, but the moment I got the negative thoughts out of my mind and replaced them with positive, that’s when things turned around for me.
Don’t let anything stop you from reaching your goals. Not weight, comparison, pace, people, fear, time…anything! Even when you feel like everything is against you (including your mind), you can STILL overcome! I’m so glad I did not give up. This was truly an amazing experience and I am honored that I was able to share this moment with so many heroes! From the Marines, their families, charity runners, my team — Team Fisher House, runners, and supporters and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
It took me covering those 26.2 miles to realize this race wasn’t about pace and it wasn’t about time…it was about perseverance and FINISHING what I started. I am a witness that God is faithful and will carry you through to completion.
“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1