On October 30, 2016 I ran in my first marathon; The 2016 Marine Corps Marathon! First and foremost, I am so thankful that I got to participate in such an honorable race. It was a great way to show my support to the American Marines all over the world and to show my gratitude for them serving and dying for this wonderful country of ours! This event was such a great experience that I will never forget. Being surrounded by thousands and thousands of runners from all different walks of life and running for the same finish line...it just puts chills throughout my entire body. Preparing for the race, however, was more than I expected; let me explain:
Preparing for the Marathon is extremely important. You have to be determined and committed! My training consisted of running 4 miles a day, to slowly progressing to 7 miles a day, then to 12 miles every other day, to 15 miles, and finally to 19 miles. Once I was able to run 19 miles, I knew I was ready for the race. When I start training for my next marathon, I will be sure to complete a 22 mile run more than once. All of this was during our super hot summer as well! It all balanced out because although the weather was sweltering, I was able to see areas in Loudoun county I've never seen before; the paths and hidden trails leading to the Potomac River were awesome!
So, the preparation was over and the marathon was one week away. I started to feel nervous knowing that thousands of people are going to be running and even more would be watching! My brother Michael from San Diego came into town to run the marathon with me; this was his fourth one. It was very exciting to see him again because we don't get to see each other often. I also saw my four-year-old nephew who was a baby when we met. He's such an intelligent, loving kid and he was soooo in love with my wife, haha! My dad came into town from Florida to volunteer for the marathon, which was such an honor. My family and I stayed on Boiling Air Force base in Washington, D.C due to the traffic and metro delays from to the marathon. I lived on base as a child so we reminisced many memories while we were there! We ate out at many new, different places in the area. My favorite place was "Grace's" at the National Harbor; I really did enjoy the pad-thai, it was actually the best I've ever had...delicious! And their bathrooms...well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
Okay, the wait is over, it's here!! The 2016 Marine Corps Marathon is hours away!! 4:30 a.m, folks! My brother prepared an energetic smoothie before the race consisting of beets, beet leaves, chia seeds, apples, lemon, and an orange. I ate two slices of spinach and chicken pizza as my carb fuel. I drank a couple of glasses of water, of course, and filled up my camel backpack with water as well. I packed in 2 Cliff bars for fuel in the middle of the race, and I'M READY!! The shuttle bus took us over to the Pentagon where the race is set to start. Thousands of people are now at the starting line! Two V-22 Ospreys fly over during the singing of the national anthem, and the howitzer fires off to indicate that the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon has begun! There were so many people, it took nearly 10 minutes for us to actually begin running! Once we began to take off, it was so exciting! Lots of cameras, spectators, and Marines...the energy was great! We began the marathon heading towards Rosslyn, then to Georgetown, then into the heart of D.C. It was such a beautiful and scenic run. My favorite part was all the spectators who were literally everywhere you looked. They were so uplifting and encouraging. As we approached the 16th mile near the Smithsonian, my lovely wife and family were there to cheer us on, provide us with oranges for fuel, and give us a morale boost. We continued running towards Crystal City were we saw my dad handing out bags of animal crackers to the runners. It was such an honor to see him volunteering there! We finally approached the last mile and ran our hardest all the way to the Vietnam Memorial where the finish line was. With my hands lifted towards God in thanksgiving, I crossed the finish line... Marathon completed!!
Life Lessons I learned:
1. Prepare for endurance; think right, eat right, and take care of yourself.
2. Run your own race; don't compare yourself with other people.
3. Pace yourself; don't want everything right now.
4. Cheer on/encourage somebody on who may be having some trouble.
5. The race is so long that if you go backwards it will effect you majorly. Don't look back, forget about what's behind you. This is easy if you're optimistic about the future.
6. Focus on mile 1, 2, 3, 4 etc and eventually you'll find yourself at mile 26.
7. Take notice and don't be ashamed to get some help along the way.
8. Make it fun; don't be so serious all the time, but when it's time to get serious...get serious.
9. Don't look too far ahead; it can be discouraging. Focus on where you are now and try to get to the next step, take it one day at a time.
10. The final goal is to finish the race (period). There is a prize if you stay in the race and endure. Keep the faith no matter what!