In the Name of Walls and Devious Thoughts

My beau (bless his heart) has always been the voice of reason, the beacon of positivity and perspective, and the “hype man” before the race. During my first year of racing this drove me crazy because I was the over-thinker, the planner, and I was “in the zone” like 30 minutes before the start — basically I was really nervous. So questions like “Are you ready?” and “Are you excited?” were usually met with stank eyes.

So, there we were (hey, this is how all the good stories start) in summer 2016 at the Quantico 12K. This was my first time running more than 5 miles. Uh…YES, I knew 12K was 7.46 miles … and NO, I didn’t really train for the run. In retrospect, there were soooo many things I didn’t know about running. But, that’s not the point.

So, there we were, running our first race together. He easily has a pace a few minutes faster than mine, so I just assumed that he (like my Sole Sisters I race with) would simply run ahead and I’d see him at the finish line. But after I turned the first bend, there he was (his pace slowed, trying to find me through the crowd). Damnit! I thought … I had no illusions of grandeur in my pace … so I immediately feared I’d slow him down. “What are you doing babe? Go ahead, run your race,” I said. “No babe, we are going to run this together!” he replied. I really didn’t want to slow him down, but I appreciated the gesture … at first.

A couple miles into the run, he looked at me and asked “How you feelin’ babe?” In my mind I was thinking “Uh, like my heart is beating fast and I don’t wanna run this race!” but of course I just said “I’m good.” Well, perhaps he didn’t hear me … because like TWO MINUTES LATER he asked the same question. Okay! In all fairness, it was probably longer than two minutes, but after being asked the same questions a few times I was coming pretty close to losing it!

—- The Wall —-

Just when I was approaching my mental wall … which was probably 1/2 mile after the 5 mile marker … there my loving beau was running along side me … still talking … still asking me questions … still periodically looking over at me. And it happened … he had his phone in his hand and he said, “Hey babe…” when I abruptly yelled “I swear if you say one more thing about this race!!!”  He looked at me in shock and answered, “I was just going to share this song with you” (showing me his playlist).

Oh Great!” I thought…”NOW I’m the jerk!”

I think he knew I hit my wall (hmm, wonder what gave him that idea), so for the rest of the race he tried encouraging me, “You’re doing great babe.” “Pick up your feet a little bit, there you go, good stride, you’re looking good.” I still had a horn and fangs … but said nothing in response. This was the part of the course where clearing the last 1.4 miles includes a continuous (seemingly never ending) incline. Mind you, this was two months after running the Semper 5ive and I was beginning to see a trend with the Marines (hills, they love those dang hills).

My beloved beau kept encouraging me, and as we climbed the last hill and passed the 7 mile marker he reached for my hand so we could run in together. Well, (horn and fangs in full effect) I pulled my hand back and just tried to focus on not dying … but he stuck right next to me and we crossed the finish line together.

—- Devious Thoughts —-

Never one to miss an opportunity for self-reflection, after I ate my banana, drank half my beer, and we took our “finisher photo”… I looked into his eyes, grabbed his hand, and apologetically said “Babe… I’m SO sorry for being mean to you during the race!”

He looked at me, with his beautiful blue eyes and bright smile, and retorted …

“Aww…babe, it’s okay … but you do that crap again and I’ll PUSH your ass off the trail and into some bushes.” 

quantico 12k (2016)

We Started Together, We Finished Together

Charging, Trailing, and Trotting with the MARINES!! (Semper 5ive Review)

As noted, I have a love-hate relationship with running, but it’s just about time to start registering for some of my favorite races. Oddly enough, I love the Marine Corps race series because all of the courses include inclines/hills – which I still hate, but I sure do love the feeling of finishing … like a boss! 

Over the last two years I’ve charged Hospital Hill during the Semper 5ive, I’ve run over the hills and through the woods during the Quantico 12K, and I’ve trotted along the streets of Quantico during the Turkey Trot 10K.

Semper 5ive: Charging the Hill(s)

Registration for this beloved event opens on January 17th and it’s part of the Historic Half race weekend on May 20th, which includes two additional race opportunities (the Historic Half or the Devil Dog Double). I’ve run Semper 5ive twice, and I tell you, there must be some truth to the “suppression or substitution” notion of trying to erase unpleasant memories. Everyone talks about Hospital Hill and yeah it’s a beast, but there is another hill somewhere within the last mile, that everyone conveniently forgets to mention! What? You’re scoffing because you don’t like hills? Me either! But the crowd support throughout the race – especially going up those hills and along the home stretch is totally worth it (whispers “come on, you should totally run this with me“)!

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Semper 5ive Course Map

The last leg of the run is relatively flat and I seem to have trouble judging the remaining distance (let’s call it … oh shall we say … “Oh my gosh! When is this over?!?!” syndrome). So those last few hundred meters feels like an eternity, but I try not to die while kicking it in gear.

—- Woot! Woot! You Finished … Now What? —-

The Marines do a phenomenal job of herding the finishers through the corral at the end. Walk (or stumble) a few steps, one of them will give you the medal … (and they’ll make sure you keep walking) … then you’ll approach the refreshments … just hold open the bag someone has magically put in your hand and walk the line of tables (it’s really that easy). Then, you’ll see the area on the side for photo ops. Don’t neglect this opportunity to relish the moment and make memories … eh, um … but please be considerate, there’s a line forming behind you!

Semper 5ive

My Bling from 2016 (L) and 2017 (R)

After that, there’s only one direction for you to walk … you will walk towards the beer tent (straight ahead); the family rendezvous area (to the right), and the exit (towards your left). Once you get out of the fenced area you’ll be walking in the same direction as the free shuttles in the Central Park Wal-Mart parking lot (it’s really not too long of a walk … but the Marines want to make sure you get a good cool down … wink, wink).

Sounds awesome huh! That’s because it is. Let’s recap … five miles to run; four months until the race; three potential races to run that weekend; two hills to conquer; and one week until registration opens!!!

Okay, now, before you forget, save the dates: register on January 17th, run on May 20th!

So, maybe I’ll see ya there?