Wow. This was a challenging race. And honestly, I would say it was more mental than physical.
We’ll start from the beginning – As you may or may not know, I was running with the group wear blue:run to remember. We’re a group that serves as a living memorial to the service and sacrifice of the American military. I was personally running for my brother Jon, who was killed in Afghanistan in November 2008. You can read previous entries about him here and here.
We had buses donated, to get us to the start line, and to pick us up from the finish. I forgot what it was like to ride the bus. VERY bumpy. So much so, that I had to focus on not getting sick [that was later]. To make matters worse, I had butterflies in my stomach, so I started this run on the completely wrong foot!! I also suspect I was a bit dehydrated, as I stopped sweating at around mile 4. !
The first few miles weaved through an industrial part of town, as well as some neighborhoods. I honestly don’t really remember these – again, too focused on not upchucking. Mile 4 hit, I powered up a hill, and felt incredibly lightheaded. Here I walked for about 20 seconds to regain composure, and just kept repeating to myself “MILE SEVEN”. This was our running group’s water station, where my husband (!!!) was volunteering, as well as his soldiers.
Honestly, miles 4-7 were so mentally exhausting. I don’t remember terrain, or where I was at during the race – again, 110% focused on seeing my husband. My run group had flag holders. I started tearing up the second I saw the first flag. They also set out pictures of fallen soldiers. Names. Birth dates, and the dates they were killed. Photos. I almost lost it. A runner behind me commented, with his voice breaking, “They were all so young. So many of them, holding their own babies; God, their families…” About a minute later I finally ran into my husband’s soldier, handing out Gu. I’m sure he thinks I’m an emotional pansy, but in all honesty, I was so relieved to see him. I knew my husband wouldn’t be too far away – in fact, I could see his hat peeking up over the sea of runners just ahead. I sprinted towards him, buried my face into his chest, and lost it completely. I thought so much about Jon. My memories of him flashed across my eyes, I thought of everything he is missing, I thought of everything that could and should have been. Having The Husband there was a complete God-send. He hugged me, helped pulled me together, and ran the remaining quarter mile with me.
From then on, I was incredibly motivated. I lost reception to my Garmin in the tunnel, suffered up a couple of more hills, pounded my way on the overpass, and picked it up when I saw the finish line. During the race I wore Jon’s necklace. I touched it, and prayed to him, when I was going through a hard time. I finished in 2:06:16. I’m ecstatic with my time. Of course, the ‘runner’ part of my brain is kicking itself, “if you wouldn’t have walked… if you wouldn’t have broken down”. - I don’t care. I needed this.
Everything physical about this race is a complete blur. I remember funny signs, I remember Elvis, I remember the runners in grass skirts – I just don’t remember where I saw them. The next day I definitely paid for the poor execution of my training plan. The last month was a total joke. I am definitely NOT doing that again. My husband and I will be running a half marathon here on post in September, before my full in October.
I am thrilled to be a part of this run group, and look forward to every single Saturday run with them. I’ve made friends that I know I’ll never lose touch with. While the bond that ties us is the most unfortunate in life, I am glad to know we have one another.
Please join us on Facebook — wear blue: run to remember.