The People’s Marathon

Holy Guacamole, I’ve been neglecting our little blog! Fear not: The Nicoli have had plenty of adventures – I hope to post about the big ones and be caught up before the end of the year.

Marathon training is a pain in the neck. And legs. And calendar. It’s expensive. I’m a complainer. I promised Big D after last year’s race that I would not go the distance again.

And then: I watched this year’s Boston Marathon. I cried like a baby when Meb won, walked from the TV to my computer to join Team Fisher House, and laced up my shoes…

I trained the same as usual: inconsistently. And thanks to encouragement from a friend, I set a lofty fundraising goal: $2,620 – one hundred dollars per mile. No pressure!

My year in a nutshell:
– Procrastinate
– Run
– Sweat
– Hydrate
– Beg friends for fundraising donations
– Rinse and repeat.

Time sped by when it came to fundraising efforts and draaaaaaaged when it came to awaiting race day.

October eventually arrived, and during the team dinner the evening before the race, I got an e-mail notification that I reached my fundraising goal! Chances are if you’re taking the time to read this, you are one of my many supporters – so, once again: THANK YOU!

I stuck to my usual race routine, like laying out my outfit and writing the names of my donors on my pace chart.
all ready for tomorrow

#Teamfisherhouse #runwiththemarines
The early morning view from Charity Village was beautiful.

I had some problems on the course: though well-rested and properly hydrated, I had a headache. I washed a giant Motrin down with too much water and the sloshing made me sick in the stomach, so ate something, which made me more thirsty…you can see where this is going. I started walking at mile 18. My legs were wobbly, I felt weak overall, and just when I was doubting myself: the best cheering squad ever gave me a snack, the gulp of Diet Coke I was craving, and our pal Jym set out to run miles 19 to 23 with me, even though he was hurting since he conquered a Tough Mudder himself just the day before. Good grief, I really owe him!!

Cutest cheering squad!

Jym joined me for a few miles
Pretty sure I’m explaining that I just want to finish, and there’s no need to run – walking is just fine.

thanks, Jym!
My hands were so swollen – check out those sausage fingers!

at mile 23
I was able to run a bit here and there. (Folks in a FaceBook training group I belong to used that Thumbs Up you can see on my back to identify each other. Those “friends” were a such a source of encouragement and help to me throughout the year, even though we’d never met.)

#Teamfisherhouse #runwiththemarines I *think* I can...

And after 26 miles, just .2 remained: up hill. That distance and the incline doesn’t seem like much if you’re just out for a stroll, but man, oh man… Thankfully, Team Fisher House has coaches on the course and one (that I do not know) was helping me along when Team Coach Stacy spotted me and took over. She’s fantastic, tireless, and was so calm as she ran and talked me through it. I was out of juice and air – I can still hear her saying, “Breathe. just breathe. you’ve got it…” My lungs were heaving. I was ecstatic. And crying.

I thought of all of the people – some are friends of friends that I don’t personally know! – who donated to my fundraising efforts. I thought of the military families that would benefit from the Team – we raised more than $500,000! I thought of my sweet husband who put up with so much throughout the year (what’s new!?) and of my friends who drove for hours so they could crisscross the city a bunch of times to cheer me on. I am one lucky gal.

And: I was proud. I didn’t participate in sports when I was a kid. I’m not particularly athletic, I’m really uncoordinated, and I didn’t train properly (which isn’t anything new.) Yet somehow, I made it to the finish line, through the chute, and to a Marine, who hung a medal around my neck and saluted me.

2014 MCM 2014 MCM

Best Support Crew EVER
I couldn’t have done it without them!

not too shabby
Pretty consistent, considering.

It took a few days until I was really ready to celebrate, and we had a little retirement party:
retirement party

I’ll keep running (I’ve already registered for another half.) But no more marathons for me. I will be back at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2015: as a volunteer.

More photos from MCM2014 are over on Flickr.

Semper Fi!

Pheidippides died at the end…

…but I managed to run my third marathon!

I was inspired by the events at the Boston Marathon earlier this year and running the Marine Corps Marathon was my way of saying, “We won’t be afraid on the streets of our own cities, you jerks!” (though I called them a much more colorful name…)

DailyMile says I ran 182 training miles – a lot more than while preparing for two previous marathons, but not even remotely close to what is recommended. Life (and laziness) got in my way. Knee pain at the end of the training season made me wonder if I’d be able to complete the whole distance.

But, thanks to my very generous family and friends, I raised more than $1,700 for Team Fisher House. I couldn’t let everyone down – there was no backing out!

The expo was fun:
Miles & me at the Expo

Carey and Isabelle joined me for the team dinner on race day eve:
Me, Carey & Isabelle

Isabelle left a fantastic note for me in my hotel room:
Found this fantastic note in my hotel room this morning. Thanks, Isabelle! I'm going to look at it when I need extra pep in my @marinecorpsmarathon step!

And if you know me at all, you’ll know that hearing U2’s Breathe while the sun rose over the District got me in the right headspace on the big day:
They're playing U2. I'm sure it's just for me!

30,000 people set out on the course:
MCM Start Line

Family and friends leapfrogged all over the city to meet me at miles 16 and 19. I missed them at 23 because I was ahead of schedule (sorry, guys!)
Big D & me

and Jym ran with me from miles 19 to 23.5 (THANKS, JYM!)
me & Jym

I started doing mental math at mile 23 and realized that not only was I ahead of the sweaty schedule I had in my pocket, but I would set a Personal Record. I had to walk the last mile and a half or so. And since the Marines are a cruel bunch, the final .2 miles are uphill. But the team coach was there to work her motivational magic (THANKS, STACY!) and before I knew it…

taking the hill

26 down, .2 to go

My friend Jenny was kind enough to volunteer with the team and then stick around for an extra hour to see me finish:

My success was an occasion momentous enough that Big D had a genuine smile (forget you’re seeing this photo – it’s Christmas Card material!)
Big D & me at the finish

But what’s much better than finishing a marathon is having friends like these:
at the Finish
Jenny, Jym, Carey, James, Isabelle, Big D, me, Tricia, and Lee. 

Thanks again to everyone –  your generosity supported an amazing organization, and you motivated me. When I turned my phone on at the end of the day, my mailbox was bursting with your sweet messages and reading them that night made me cry.  Just saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough.

my splits I may or may not be wearing my @marinecorpsmarathon medal with my pajamas right now...