Can you see it? Can you feel it?

The start of the marathon will be packed. 10’s of thousands of people will be waiting in the early morning to get to the starting line of the 36th Marine Corps Marathon. Temperatures should be around 40 and skies clear.

Mostly likely it is about 6:00-6:30 – we have already walked from the hotel. Breakfast has been eaten, hopefully the last bathroom break is near.

Everything is going as planned. I am wearing pretty much the same clothes I have worn all through training. They are comfortable and I like them. Hopefully I stand out so my family can see me at the finish. I have done my taper miles and my stretching.

I am running alone… meaning I do not have any of my regular running partners with me. Nobody I “know” is running the race with me, but I will not be alone. I have all the thoughts and encouraging words from my friends and family with me. My family will be cheering me on from DC and waiting for me at the finish. Also, new friends that I have met online will be all around me. I cannot wait to meet some of the people I have been chatting with for months! We are the “MCMFT’s” (Marine Corps Marathon First Timers)! We will be wearing red felts on our back so we can find each other. I have met so many people just like me… working hard to balance training and life, having good runs and bad runs, nervous and excited and the same time. Many of us are the same pace so I will be able to have company at the start. Hopefully I will see them on the course and be able to cheer them on. This is one marathon where I will not be running alone!

At this point I have logged way over 400 miles just running. Add the bike rides, the walks, the hikes, the strength training, yoga… I have put in my time. I have wanted to quit many workouts – it is so hard to get up at 4:00 AM to be ready to run at 5:00 AM. Tired of having to wake up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to get a run in. Most of the time solitary runs around a park, in the dark.

Most of the time I have some sort of pain. My foot, my leg, my hip… it is funny that I would even want to do this. I knew it would be painful! I trained for this before and it is no piece of cake (oh, how I want cake)! But I keep running.

As odd as it sounds, I actually like it all. Every bit of it. Testing myself to see if I can get better. The best part is the camaraderie of fellow runners. I really look forward to my running friends that are at the park with me in darkness pushing themselves around the track. Some are faster and some are slower, but we are all doing the same thing. I love to have the support of my girlfriends on long runs – each of us digging deep to get the miles in.

The best part is yet to come. I can see myself at the starting line waiting for the Howitzer to blast and send us on our way. I can see myself running strong past the monuments, the Marines, the spectators… Hydrating and taking my gels like I am supposed to, eyes straight ahead, forward lean, feet up, arms moving… pace constant.

20 miles and 4 hours pass. The unknown. I have strength in me to finish strong. I grab water from a Marine and thank him. I take my last gel and run strong. Run past the Iwo Jima Memorial head held high… I get my medal.

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