Ok, so today I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, my first marathon and my longest run ever, by 6.2 miles (about 10K).
First, I want to thank all my supporters. A lot of people donated money to the Archdiocese on my behalf, prayed for me, bought me shoes and nutrition supplies, cheered me on, encouraged me, and prayed for me. A number of you have called to check in on me and have emailed me your best wishes. Without that support, I would have bailed out about two months ago.Y'all are the best. I want you to know that when the howitzer (no starter's pistol for the Marines!) was fired to start the race, I offered the entire run to our Eternal Father for your benefit, asking him to bless you all for how much you've blessed me. I believe it is exactly the sort of sacrifice that our Heavenly Father loves to accept and to multiply.
Second, the race went well. I did not run the times I had targetted, but am very happy with having finished, and well especially in the last 3-4 miles, and having come very close to my desired time. The first few miles were hard because the course was so congested. Miles 18-22 were especially hard - I don't think I hit the wall (I think I did that once) as much as just became fatigued, very fatigued in the legs. There were water and carbohydrate-gel stands every two miles or so - a real godsend. At mile 22, as fatigue was hitting its worst, another young man whose name turned out to be Dave called to me while I had stopped to stretch, "Hey, c'mon, you can do it! Let's run together." So we did run together, each encouraging the other for the last four miles. The race ends on a fairly steep hill, going up an exit ramp off of I-66 or some such road (maybe VA-110). I slowed to a trudge, and then began to walk, just 150 yards from the finish! A hand gently lay on my back and pushed, and I knew it was Dave, and we ran in to the end together. Talk about a grace! It's a metaphor for life in Christ - we can try it alone, but it's so much better to go at it with others. Dave just came into Mother Church's fold at the Easter Vigil this past spring; and this coming spring will marry his fiancee. During our four miles together, we prayed a few Hail Marys and encouraged other runners who were struggling. Please take a moment to pray for their marriage to be blessed with fruitfulness and joy.
I saw some cool quotes, and even moving anecdotes, written on the back of peoples shirts. One said, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body." I like that. As a Christian striving with St. Paul to be a coworker with Christ in the labor of redeeming the world, I thought of my own little rejoinder.
Pain is the sound of the world being redeemed.
At the finish line, a Marine greets each finisher and puts a medal around his or her neck, and offers congratulations. People bring the finishers fruit and vegetables, sports bars, and lots of liquids. The Marines think of everything, and handled everything with gracious hospitality and efficient thoroughness. They have my complete confidence in every matter from now on. People were crying; I cried too - the pain is pretty real, but the joy, the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie of the runners, the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of spectators who formed a veritable gauntlet of cheers for about 80% of the course - it's all so much realer than any pain. I type that, 11 hours after having finished, as I ice my weary joints and down tylenol like jelly beans. Another shirt said, "Pain is for now; glory is forever." I really like that one.
One big lesson I learned: don't eat lots of jelly beans, no matter whether they are advertised as "Energy Beans," at mile 18 of a marathon. Trust me.
After the race, I called my roommate, Ben, who had my bag and phone, and he came to meet me. My friend Tamara called my cell phone before he got to me, and he told her where I was. I expected him, and am so grateful; I got her to boot, an unexpected surprise, for which I am also grateful. They stood with me in line for an hour while I waited for a massage (yes, the Marines think of everything) and then, while I was getting massaged, went to a sub shop and got me the best tasting sub I have ever eaten.
Bad news is that bad spelling and a data entry glitch seem to have prevented my times from being recorded by the official electronic device. Sorry to y'all who logged in to track me. Happily, I recorded my own darn splits, and will put them up in a few days when I've had a chance to figure them out for sure and format them properly, and when the photos from the race come out.
For now, a few stats are in order, from the time I crossed the starting line, about 3 minutes after the howitzer blasted:
1st 5k = 27:52.11
2nd 5k = 25:20.3
1st 10k = 53:12.41
last 10k = 63:52.38
total (42k / 26.2 mi) = 4:05:20.--
average pace = 9:21 min/mi
Thank you, all of you. Now, my icing is done and I'm ready for some zzz's. I've got school in the morning, and the Tylenol-PMs are starting to kick in. Good night. And, did I mention, thank you?