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Lower Potomac River Marathon RR

We made it to Piney Point!

At packet pick up, we were kind of thinking… what have we gotten ourselves into?  It was basically a table set up with three ladies who handed us our bibs and t-shirts and expressed no interest in us being there.  Hi, thanks for the bib, bye, was pretty much the extent of the conversation. 
We head over to our hotel which ended up being an extended stay. It was kind of creepy, off to the side of this industrial road.  When we walked in, nobody was at the desk, and it was eerily quiet.  Finally this girl comes around the corner to check us in.  She talked in a really soft voice and had a strange presence about her.  She was doing the creep. I went straight to the bed and checked out the sheets to make sure everything looked clean.  I’m not saying that means they were clean, but it made me feel better.
Glenn offered to take me down the road to a Marriott we saw that wasn’t full, but we would have lost our money on the extended stay, so I sucked it up and we stayed at the creeptastic hotel.  One more mention to the creepiness of this place – there were several vacant looking rooms on the third floor and the curtains were pulled back all funny like it was an abandoned building.  Overall creepiness factor of this place was 8 out of 10.  

On to race morning- we showed up at 6:50 for the 7:15 start time. Since it was such a small race everyone just lined up and the race director said Ready, Set, Go.  Glenn made sure to head to the front of the line, since he was trying to qualify for Boston – and although this course is a Boston certified course, there were no chips!  So, he couldn’t afford to lose any seconds, in case he qualified right on the dot.  We get to the line – hug, kiss and we are off.
We knew going in to the race there was at least one out and back section that we would see each other, but did not realize there would actually be three- at miles 5, 10 and 19. Here are our the 2 second passing recaps:
Mile 5 – We feeling good and I made sure to run over and high five- I don’t think he was really feeling that, but I made him do it.
Mile 10 – We asked how each other were feeling – he says good, I say ok. He tells me I’m in 2ndplace for the women by a lot.  Of course I realize this, and I feel a little frustrated because knowing I have a chance to place I start feeling pressure to try and hold it.  Let’s be real here – 2nd place a mile ten doesn’t mean you’ve got anything in the bag.
Mile 19 – Technically this was more like 18 for me 19.5 for him.  We look at each other in obvious pain.  I am on a downhill, getting close to the turn-around point and he is climbing the same hill I am going down, on the other side of the street.  Now I’m focused on the fact that in about 10 minutes I am going to have to run by butt up that hill, he is so painfully climbing.  
Needless to say those three points of the race were the most fun, as we were able to give a little support to each other, and although that was a big race highlight in my book- the most important part of my race happened at mile 10. This is when I started running with a guy that had gradually caught up to me.  We started chatting a bit and he asked me what pace I was going for.  I tell him I’ve trained for a 3:30 and would really like to break that, but have had a hectic two weeks, so I’m just seeing what happens.  He tells me, “Oh you are way on to break that”.  I tell him, I kind of guessed that, but I’ve been here before at mile 10.  There is a lot of running left.

Glenn likes to joke and say I have marathon affairs with other guys, because I usually end up running with a random guy in races.  He is openly fake jealous about this.  So about this particular marathon affair – this guy is a very experienced marathon runner, he has done over 25.  His PR is 3 hours flat, but for this race, like me he is going for a 3:30.  Naturally we decide to stay together.  I tell him I am hoping to chill at this pace until about mile 15 and start picking it up.  He tells me not to, thinks I will bomb later on in the race if I pick it up that early.  I think it through and decide I am going to trust this guy.

I decided not to wear a watch for this race (no watch, no ipod, no distractions). The only clock on the course was at the ½ marathon.  I am usually very good at guessing my pace, andI had an idea how fast we were going.  At the ½ marathon we were at 1:40 and some change, which was a good sign… on for a 3:20 if we didn’t lose any speed.  I have not however, EVER run a negative marathon split.  The closest I have ever come was in St. Louis last year when I ran a 3:34, and even then I was 13 minutes off from a negative split.  So, although I felt pretty darn good, I didn’t see it being hopeful that I wouldn’t lose at least 5-10 minutes.
Over the course of the next 16 miles, we talked about marathons, Glenn, his girlfriend and kids and just running in general.  This guy pretty much coaches me in for the last 16 miles.  He tells me to relax down the hills and shorten my stride just a bit up the hills.  (miles 12-24 had a decent amount of rolling hills, that were doable, but definitely challenging)  More than anything though, he boosts my confidence, which is what I really needed.
Now I am focused and it’s the middle of the race. The 2nd place situation is something I’m really thinking about.  Miles 10-13 the girl in third was slowly gaining on me, and at 14 went on to pass.  It discouraged me a bit, but as I was running behind her for quite a while, I realized her stride was looking labored.  At mile 18, Steve looks at me as says “you’re going to beat that girl” I laugh it off and get more nervous. He tells me my stride looks great, and my breathing is on and it’s going to happen.  Sure enough, we end up passing her at mile 19.  She hung on for about a ½ mile, but soon fell off.  What I didn’t expect though, was at mile 21 when the girl who had been chillin in 4th place most of the race came cruising by us. Literally cruising. There was no hope for me keeping up with her, so we just tried to maintain pace and move ahead.  
At this point, although my main goal of the day was to just break 3:30, I want 3rd place.  Let’s be honest, 3rd feels a lot better than 4th.  Miles 21-26 were pretty darn painful.  I think I told Steve I was thinking about crying on 4 different occasions during these miles, along with also telling him I thought I might pee my pants.  He told me to go ahead and do that if I had too, after all there were showers at the end of the race.  The good news is that I actually didn’t cry or pee my pants, but at least Steve was OK with it if I did.
As the mile markers crept by, it was getting pretty hot and I was in a mental battle to get my body to the finish line.  I kept telling Steve to just get me to the next mile marker.  At mile 24, he tells me I’m going to blow my PR out of the water, while also blowing that 3:30 goal out of the water.  I’m thinking…. Look Steve, I don’t know… we’ve still got 2 miles left, I could crawl it in for all you know.   I start reminding myself about how badly I was hurting in Chicago last year, which helped, because I knew for sure that no matter how bad I was felt… I DID NOT hurt that bad.  
Once we cross mile 25, Steve sees a guy up ahead that looks like he may be in his age group and suggests we slowly creep up on him and pass, in case they are in the same age group so that he doesn’t miss out on an age group place.  I tell him – “no way, can’t make that happen, but please go get him for yourself…. You helped me get here, and I will see you at the finish line very soon.  Steve decides as long as he has 400 meters, he can catch this guy, so he’ll hang with me a big longer.   Sure enough with 400 meters to go, he takes off and passes.
With a half mile left in the race, I know for sure I have third place locked in, which felt awesome.  I turn the corner after the 26 mile marker to haul in the last 200 meters.  Like always, there’s Glenn walking towards me to see my finish.  There he is, holding up my Boston sweatshirt. I was so focused on getting my butt to the finish line; I realized I had briefly forgotten about my husband’s hard sought after goal.  1 second later it clicks… he’s holding up the Boston shirt to signify that he QUALIFIED!!  As I’m gutting it out to finish I look back at him, yell “what was your time?!”  He yells back “3:05”… holy crap he smashed the current Boston Qualifying standard by 5 minutes!  I start screaming out of excitement – and forget about my pain for a second.
Twenty steps to go, I look up at the clock – turning over to 3:24.  I can hardly believe it. There are two people who I want to bury in hugs– both Glenn and Steve.  I run over to Glenn and celebrate our huge PRs and his first BQ.  I am so excited for him, and can’t help but feeling a little selfish that I am almost (ALMOST) equally excited about my 3:24.  Immediately after I hug Glenn… I have to go find my buddy who coached me to this PR.   We hug, get a picture and I thank him 5,000 times for his encouragement.
I tell him he got me to the finish line in that time – and really believe he did.  Although I clearly physically got myself there, one thing I know for sure is that without him, I might have had a new PR, but it certainly would not be 3:24.  Two very important lessons in running– or achieving any goal was shown here.  There is nothing that can replace the importance of having confidence in your abilities.  There is also nothing that can replace the importance of boosting someone else’s confidence when they need it most.  He made me believe that although I was hurting, I did not need to slow down and I could in fact destroy 3:30.
Oh Happy day – An amazing race for both of us, a quick pasta dinner with the other runners, the award ceremony – where indeed I grabbed the overall womens third place and received $100.00 in prize money, and my now Boston Qualified husband placed 2nd in his age group, with a 9th place overall finish.  Not too shabby!  Let me humble myself really quick though and mention that there were only around 160 runners in the whole race. =)
Pictures from our adventure!

Steve and I – it’s not often you run 16 miles with someone you’ve never met.  Just one more reason runners are so weird.

We recognized this guy from a Runner’s World article last year.  He is a Marathon Maniac – Literally. Very nice guy, runs about 80-100 miles a week. 

 Boston Bound!

Thank You for boosting my confidence Steve!

 Bye Bye Piney Point!
We hop in the car, turn on the Decemberists and talk about the race for the next two hours.  It’s a good thing we both love this so much, otherwise we would find our conversations completely annoying. And by the way, have you ever sat in a car for 12 hours after running a marathon?  Talk about uncomfortable legs.
Next marathon cued up: Flying Pig – Sunday, May 1st. 
And…. the Hein’s will be seeing everyone in Boston next year!
Happy Running!

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