There are so many reasons why I love marathons. One of them is because of the awesome adrenaline rush that you get at the beginning. I mean, you're standing in the middle of thousands of runners, news cameras all over the place like you're a big deal, pump-up music playing, a guy with a microphone getting everyone riled up....it's pretty chaotic. And so exciting! Today did not disappoint.
And what made it even more fun was running with four of my favorite people in the world - all who were running their first marathon!
My training for this marathon had been pretty weak. I didn't feel too confident going into the race, and was particularly worried that my legs would likely give out on me at some point. But thankfully my body wasn't in as bad of shape as I was afraid of. Haley and I actually ended up staying together about 80% of the race. We kept taking turns passing each other and finally decided we might as well run together!
There were definitely many "interesting" things to see (and smell) along the course of the race. I am just in love with people who come out and cheer on marathon runners. I know it's cheesy, but it's never meant so much to hear "You're doing great! Keep going!" I just want to go by and give them all personal hugs when the race is over. And my new favorites this time around were the people who came out in their front yards with water hoses and were hosing us down as we passed. The last mile of the race was on the boardwalk of the beach and it was BRUTAL. Haley and I decided to run the full last mile but I had to stop about halfway through and walk...I was choking on my spit. :) Anyway, Haley and I ended up being the first of our group to cross the finish line at at time of 2:27:00. I was pretty pumped because it was only 2 minutes slower than my last time. My sister came in next a little under 3 hours (which was AMAZING because she had hardly trained much at all...I was very proud). Then Ross and Erica came in a little later (Ross's knees had been giving him a lot of trouble, so they had to slow down the pace considerably). Anyway, we all relished in our accomplishment of living through the race for a while then headed back to the hotel to get CLEAN!
Ross took Erica to the airport (she had to head home to get to classes on Monday) while the rest of us got all cleaned and packed up. Then the 4 cousins all loaded up in "The White Schrute" and headed to D.C.!! Of course, by this time we were starving from, well...running 13 miles...and for whatever reason, we all wanted Fuddrucker's as soon as we saw the sign, so we went and commenced to pig out on burgers and fries - the perfect post-marathon meal.
Then it was off to D.C...our plan was to go straight to the hotel and then head out to dinner. But as soon as we saw the road sign for Arlington National Cemetary, we couldn't help ourselves. We decided to go ahead and get one thing crossed of the list and this was definitely one at the top. I had always pictured what it would be like, but it was nothing like what I had imagined. I never DREAMED that it was so huge. I took about 70 pictures but I'll just grace you with a select few here.
I had a weird mix of emotions there - a gratefulness for those who died to give me the freedoms I have today, but a renewed hatred for war mixed with a sadness for the fact that every grave I saw represented a son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother lost to war. I still feel like I'm kind of processing it all. We also got to see John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy's gravesites AND the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was very cool.
We stayed until the cemetary closed and then headed into the city! We checked in at our hotel and got our luggage settled. We got this super sweet deal on our hotel (it was just one of those random Travelzoo weekly specials....if you aren't a subscriber to the Travelzoo e-mails, DO IT!). Anyway, we got the hook-ups to a sweeeet hotel right on Capitol Hill called the Liason Capitol Hill. The lobby was a little intimidating...a little TOO chic for us, but whatever. The rooms are awesome, there's a pool on the roof, and the beds are to DIE for...like dream beds...and down pillows. This picture doesn't adequately express their amazing-ness, but maybe you can get an idea...
After we got settled in our rooms, we headed to Chinatown for dinner!
We found this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant where we again commenced to pig out on some fried goodness.
Once our stomachs were full, the exhaustion hit us like a freight train. We took Haley by her cute little apartment to get her stuff because she just couldn't deny the goodness of our hotel beds. And now we're back in the hotel resting up for another full day tomorrow!!