Friday, November 4, 2016

What does it mean to be part of something bigger than yourself?

This past Sunday I ran the 41st Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. for Team Fisher House.  I must say it was an astounding marathon.  In my Opinion being part of something bigger is our quest to find meaning in life.  Well I certainly found meaning with the Fisher House Foundation.  

If you've never heard of the Fisher house, let me give you a very brief description of what they do.  It is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans' families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  And it's not just marines they help.  It's ALL military.  Here is a website you can check out:

I knew very little about the foundation in the beginning.  In the past 4 years I've ran for St. Jude Children's Hospital.  I like to run marathons for a reason other than myself.  It's what pulls me to that finish line.  When I checked into the MCM, I asked about the charities in which you could run under.  My aunt actually gave me a list of several military foundations and I picked Fisher house from her list.  I was drawn to it because it lets the families stay with their veteran.  I know if I'm sick in the hospital, I would sure love for my family to be around me.  

Kyle's parents, dinner tables, & brochure on event.

Fisher House Foundation hosted a pasta dinner the night before the race at the hotel in which I was staying.  We got to hear from Kyle Carpenter's mother and father.  If you are not familiar with his story, here is a link to check it out and BTW he's from Mississippi:

The Fisher House team consisted of 418 people and together we raised $510,289.45!! That's 1/2 million folks!!! AMAZING!  As I sat there and heard the total raised it made me think of Team Run4Thekids.   We've grown so much in the past 3 years.  Maybe one day we will have 400 team members and raise $500,000 in the future! 

I know I've talked a lot about Fisher House in the post so far and none on the MCM race itself, but I was so impressed with Team Fisher house that I wanted to share.  They were so very organized!  We meet the morning of the race in the hotel lobby and walked to the start line where they had a tent with food and porta potties. 

We all had to go thru security and be scanned. 

 Fisher House peeps were along the course cheering you and on the monster hill coming into the finish one of them ran out and ran with me up the hill thanking me for being apart of the team.  There was great post race food and massages at the tent.  But what I'm so very proud of is the fact that I was apart of a team that raised $500,000 for military families!  Especially since my cousin recently stayed at a Fisher House while her husband was being treated at the Hospital in ICU.  I encourage you if you want to do a marathon, do it for a charity.  :>)  Be apart of something that is bigger than yourself. 

Now to the race: 

The MCM was a bucket list race of mine so I was super excited.  It worked out perfectly with our yearly trip to see my husband's parents in PA so that I only had to buy plane tickets once. YEAH ME!  The only downfall is the hotel for 3 nights in D.C. was more than the hotel for 6 nights in PA.  Washington is not cheap.  However, me and my husband had an amazing good time.  I'll post more later on our visit to his parents in another post.  

I was so glad I bought Gary and I metro cards ahead of time.  I had them pre-loaded with $30 so we could use the metro and not try to drive in D.C.  We arrived Friday at lunch and I didn't want to be walking a ton on Friday or Saturday before the race on Sunday.  In the past when we went to D.C. we didn't really use the metro.   We walked and walked and walked trying to meet all my schedule deadlines of things to see.  This time I had the cards ready.  It was AWESOME.  One of the metro stations was 2/10 of a mile from our hotel.  We walked and hopped on with no problem and got off right where we wanted to.  We never used our car the whole weekend.  AND I didn't have an itinerary for us.  I think it was so much better this time.  We didn't plan anything.  We just hopped on and got off the metro and we saw so much more and was so much more relaxed than previous years.  

Several of us from the Laurel/Hattiesburg area were going to try to meet at the expo on Saturday around 2pm to get a group picture so I didn't attempt to go to the expo on Friday.  I kind of wished I had after it took me an hour to get there on Saturday.  The expo was like 8 miles from our hotel.  The metro would only go part of the way and then you had to take a bus the rest of the way.  Our hotel also offered a shuttle bus back and forth.  But due to construction and the sheer amount of people trying to get to the expo, traffic was back up for days and it took forever.  I barely made it in time for the picture and then I was worried about getting back to the hotel for the Fisher House pasta dinner, so I didn't have much time to shop at the expo.  Not to mention the line to check out if you purchased and MCM marathon stuff was like a Disney wait line where you weave through for days before reaching the ride.  

Nestor, Jane, Julie, Me & Joshua

So here's my info on the race simplified.. (I hope).
1.  Weather was warmer than expected. All week it had been low 30s and high 60s, but for race day it turned 82! We started the race around 61 and I finished when it was 82.  Good thing I train in the heat normally.  The day after the race it was back to high of 55! Go figure!   

2.  The course was hilly the first 6-7 miles.  I loved it.  Where there is an uphill there is normally a downhill.  The middle of the course was FLAT... Grrrrr.. those that know me know that I don't really like a flat course.  The last miles were hilly again and at the end a curve turning directly into a monster hill to climb to the finish.  I wondered if it was like Boston where they say "heartbreak hill".   You also had to make it to a certain bridge on the course by 12:30pm or they would not let you finish the marathon.   You would be diverted.

3.  Marines were everywhere! :>)  They were along the course cheering you... or should I saw screaming "keep moving", etc. 

Marines gave us our bibs

Marines gave us our shirts.

4.  One of the streets was lined with pictures of soldiers that had died for our country.  Some pictures had family members standing behind them and some had family running the race that stopped to pay respect to their family member in the picture for a few seconds before continuing on in the race.  They called it "Wear Blue ... Run to remember."  It was very touching.  I could barely hold back the tears.  

5.  The course overall was beautiful.  When we started it was a gorgeous sunrise with the Washington Monument in view.  We ran by Arlington then into D.C.  

White House

At the WW11 Memorial



6.  The race was crowded.  I heard someone say that we had between 28,000 - 30,000 runners.  I was never alone in the race.

7.  I had really only 2 goals.  One to finish and the other to do my run/walk program and try to finish under 5 hours. I just did make it.  I made a bad judgment call around mile 15.  I had been sticking to my run/walk program all the way to mile 15 and I was constantly around the 4:30 pacer.  My run pace was between 9:15-10 most of the time.  I felt good so I decided to quit walking and just run and stay right up with the 4:30 pacer.  Well, around mile 21 my toe joint with all the arthritis was killing me and my other big toe had huge blister on it.  My feel were hurting so bad I had start back walking.  And my run pace was much slower now...ughhhhh... I pushed through and managed a 4:56 time.  Not a PR, but I finished my 7th marathon.  

Our awesome medal.. I didn't even realize it opened to the Iwo Jima statue till the next morning.  So cool!

8.  When you cross the finish line a line of marines are standing there to shake your hand and congratulate you and then a marine puts the finisher medal around your neck. LOVE! #OORAH!

9.  I got to see MO!  Mo (Maureen Higgins) is a fellow runner that I met through another running friend.  She doesn't live in my home town.  She has battled breast cancer and is currently taking treatments.   She has ran the MCM every year with her nephew.  I didn't know if I'd find her in the sea of runners because I never saw the people I knew from my hometown on race day, but I got to see her.  I was thrilled!  We hugged and chatted for a minute and then I ran on so she could run with her nephew.  I'm sad I didn't stop and take a picture of her! Here is one from previous years MCM.

Some of my expo loot

Finisher Jacket... LOVE!

Well, another one in the books.  I would love to do it again.  It was truly a great race for a good cause.  Now time for me to get ready for marathon #8 next month.  I will be running the St. Jude Memphis Marathon as a hero for St. Jude Children's Hospital with many Team Run4TheKids teammates.  EXCITED!

God bless!

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