I’m not a crier -- but I was moved to tears at this year’s Marine Corps Marathon.
I crossed the finish line with my best time yet in my six marathons, and I was overwhelmed by my emotions. I was elated, exhausted and humbled. I breathlessly shuffled along after finishing the race, greeted by lines of Marines who told me “congratulations,” and offered me high-fives and handshakes.
All I did was run a lot; they do so much more.
My voice shook, and my chin quivered as I moved through the chute of Marines. When one put a medal around my neck, I lost it. I said “thank you” through sobs.
I trained hard for this race. I sacrificed a lot: I got up early on weekends, put in a lot of miles before and after work, I skipped fun things I would have rather done to make time to work out. But as I finished, I realized that our servicemen and servicewomen make the true sacrifices. Their involvement in the Marine Corps Marathon truly makes the race remarkable.
The weather for this race was perfection! It was a tad chilly to start, but I was shedding layers early.
On race morning I was happy and focused. I didn’t have a specific time goal – but had a general time I was hoping to achieve. After a disappointing race last year, I had some tactics I’d hoped to employ to run a smarter race. Overall, I knew my goal for the marathon was singular: to have fun. If I’m not having fun doing this, why bother?
Well – mission accomplished.
I had a blast! And in addition to that, I beat my personal record by more than 20 minutes. Also, it was with a negative split, which means completing the second half of a race faster than the first half. At mile 20, I actually thought to myself, "I get to run 6 more miles."
I attribute the good race to several things: proper training, diet and rest; focus and good weather; and not to be understated, the support from friends, coworkers, family and my spouse. I’m lucky to have those who came out to cheer for me and support me, too.
A finish that moves me to tears is rare, but I think a testament to how spectacular this race is run. It’s fun, inspiring and gives a face to the Marine Corps.
I must admit, I already can’t wait to run again next year.
Congratulations to all Marine Corps Marathon runners! You have a lot to be proud of. Let me know how you did and what's next on your race calendar. But for now, relax, indulge, stretch and rest – I know I am. Mission accomplished!
Miss any of WTOP's coverage? Check out our Marine Corps Marathon page with photos, details about the day and a follow up about how runners spotlighted on WTOP finished.
Running is about putting one foot in front of the other, no matter your age, say Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson — a husband and wife team known to many as royalty in the running world.
“You’re never too old to be an athlete, you’re never too old to try. You’re never too big or too slow or too out of shape to put on a pair of sneakers and start moving,” Switzer said. “And the more you move, the better your health is going to be.”
The couple, who once rooted for Marine Corps Marathon runners when they lived in Vienna, Virginia, is returning as celebrity guests for the 2019 race weekend. They will be at the expo at the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center, speaking, selling and signing their most recent books, as well as the Carbo Dining In event the evening before the race.
This year, they are bringing a message of perseverance and resilience that transcends the sport.
Read more from my interviews with Switzer and Robinson:
Running makes me happy, but it takes some serious time. I often feel like it's one more thing I have to do on my ever-growing list of tasks.
Just because it's something I enjoy doesn't mean I'm not exempt from putting it off, prioritizing other things ahead of it or just not feeling up to it. Marathon training means longer miles, which can suck even more time no matter what you're up against. Chores, work, commuting, time with friends and family and other distractions can often leapfrog my running plans.
Regardless of my own excuses, I know it comes down to time management. Running might by one more thing in a busy schedule, but it can be possible to work it in.
Here are some of my tips for making time for running:
--Come up with a plan. At the beginning of the week, map out how many miles you have to run on which days, where you want to run them and any other scheduling conflicts you may have. Knowing your time constraints and making a plan for how to overcome that can be crucial. Have an early Monday meeting? Plan to run in the evening. Doing carpool duty in afternoon? A morning run may suite you best. Can't squeeze a run in? You may have to set that alarm for even earlier. Having a plan can make you feel ready to take on any obstacles.
--Work out in the morning. I'm 1,000 percent more likely to get my run in if I do it in the morning. If I wait until later in the day, I'm bound to have excuses: I'm too tired, my stomach is upset, I spent too long at work, plans came up or Netflix beckons to me. Get up and knock it out. You'll feel better, be more accomplished and won't have it hanging over your head all day as one more "to-do."
--Think outside the box. Take any opportunity you can to book your run. Try running at lunch; run to or from work. Taking the kids to soccer practice or getting your car serviced? Pack your running clothes and do it while you're waiting. Think about 30-minute segments where you can add running into a jam-packed day.
--Minimize distractions. This is my biggest challenge. I can get lost on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, emails or just going through photos on my phone. The time that I have blocked off for a run can dwindle as I get lost in my phone. My advice is to put your phone by the door and don't grab it until you're ready to head out for a run (if you take your phone with you.) Otherwise, leave it behind. Keeping it out of sight can keep you focused on getting ready to head out the door to run.
--Lay out your running clothes. Having your running clothes set out ahead of time can save the precious moments you have and may have spent looking for your socks, running shoes or that perfect running T-shirt.
--Just say "no." Remember, you signed up for this. That means you may have to say "no" when people ask you to go out or take on a task that interferes with your running plans. I'm not saying you should pass on your family BBQ to run, but it may mean happy hour has to take a back seat to that 4-mile run you know you need to tackle.
What do you do to help manage time and train? Let me know! Tell me in the comments or tweet at me!