Running around our National Treasures
Eagerly and somewhat impatiently standing in my coral waiting for the race to begin, I look forward to several wonderful experiences ahead such as meeting and jogging alongside other runners, hearing people shouting on each side of the street, and anticipating the creative signage from supporters mile after mile. As corral #12 began inching closer and closer to the starting line, I happened to be standing next to a lady who was listening to her music while stretching. I couldn’t help but notice the back of shirt: “I lost 200 lbs. I beat cancer. 13.1? No problem!” Like many memories throughout this journey, I am constantly surrounded by runners motivated by personal causes and challenges who commit themselves to making a difference in their life or the lives of others by running a particular race. There were over 22,000 runners today, many of them, like myself, have inspiring stories to share.
Imagine how many other stories we have never heard about?
Walking up to the the starting line, my hands were clammy, my mind was focused, and my adrenaline was elevated. As I crossed the start line and my chip time began, I was careful to maintain a solid pace and not allow the adrenaline to consume the moment and my body. This is often easier-said-than done, but is a vital factor in maintaining energy throughout these long-distance runs. Right out of the gate, I saw a sign that read “Free beer in 26.1 miles.” You have to appreciate people’s creativity and like every city beforehand, D.C. residents did not disappoint.
Halfway past Mile 1, I headed on East Capitol St, running alongside the United States Supreme Court as well as the Capitol Building. By Mile 3, a series of big sites came up like one domino after the other: on Constitution Ave, I ran side-by-side the National Mall for about a 1/4 of a mile. As I approached Mile 4, the Washington Monument was standing alone to my left, not to be outdone by the White House appropriately showcasing a green fountain at mile marker 5. What phenomenal national treasures to run around during this half marathon.
While most of the sites were frontloaded in the beginning of the half marathon, the crowd support was excellent throughout the 13.1 mile trek. Sure, some of the spectators were already intoxicated from drinking beer and downing green Jell-O shots infused with Smirnoff, but their enthusiasm was helpful in boosting momentum mile after mile. Furthermore, one of the perks to running a Rock ‘N Roll race is the organizers conveniently place rock bands every mile along the race; thus, bringing out even more supporters on the streets and providing an extra pick-me-up. On top of that, running toward and under several tunnels was thrilling because the crowd was going wild! I could hear the energy from above, and after emerging from the darkness and up the incline, people were cheering as if an Olympic torch was being carried through their city!
Upon reaching a sharp incline on Mile 8, I came across an army soldier in full uniform running with a backpack stuffed with weights. Talk about hardcore! He was running for the men and women sacrificing their lives abroad for our safety. I wish I would’ve been able to grab a picture but you will have to take my word that it was downright unbelievable to see in person.
Eyeing Mile 9, I decided to switch up my routine by running 7 mins, walking for 1. The logic behind this adjustment was to test the recovery process for China. Normally, I run non-stop until the end (for half marathons); however, in China, recovery is going to play an intricate role and will be an essential part of that challenge. With this recovery period, I regained my strength and pushed forward at a quicker pace over the next several miles. With RFK stadium ahead and the homestretch in sight, I rounded the corner and saw a sign that said “May the spirit of Saint Patrick guide your feet to the finish line.” I picked up my pace through the last mile and crossed the finish line at 2:13:13, completing my 3rd half marathon this year.
No matter how many times I visit D.C., I always look forward to seeing our national monuments and this half marathon provided a tremendous opportunity to run alongside some of the most recognizable ones in Washington. It was an honor to be part of this experience and a special day which I will never forget. And to pay my respect to Saint Patrick, I made sure to have a celebratory pint or two following the race…
Next stop? Chicago!
I will be in the Windy City Saturday March 24th, 2012 for the annual PPA Family Caregiver and Professional Education and Support Conference.
On Sunday March 25th,myself and Kevin Connolly of the CNADC will be running in the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K with 40,000 of our closest friends.