Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

First News on the Marathon

Here are some initial pictures that I raided from the Facebook of my friend Dave Brewster.  He and I met last year during the marathon.  One of the womenfolk (thanks, ladies!) of his family that came to cheer for him took these.  I owe his dad a huge debt of gratitude for carrying my during the run because I arrived too late to check my bag in.  Here's me at the start.  Dave is in the dayglo yellow shirt a few paces ahead of me.

I got up earlier than last year, but took a wrong turn on the crowded metro system and ended up at the Smithsonian station, getting off with all the 10k-ers.  Realizing my blunder, I reboarded and went the correct way, but the wrong turn cost me about 15 minutes worth of pre-race time.

When I got there, I was confronted by crowds that looked like this.

Now, I wasn't as far back as it appears.  To put it in scale, the red triangle at the lower left is part of the inflatable arch that marked the starting line.  It took me four minutes to cross the starting line from the time of canon blast that started the race.  My roommate, Tom, who got separated from Dave and me, took twenty minutes to cross the starting line.

I felt NO excitement.  ZERO.  That is, until about two days before the race, when I went to pick up my packet.  I grabbed my roommate's too, and seeing our tee shirts and racing numbers, the big "Run for Vocations" posters, I began to get excited.  Going from my team headquarters to the Marine Corps Marathon Expo at the Washington Convention Center to get my free swag only made things worse!  In fact, whereas last year it had been hard to sleep the night before the marathon, this year, it was the night before the night before the marathon where I barely slept a wink.  Now, I am not a terribly jittery person, but this year, about 10 minutes before the race, I couldn't get my fingers to put the goo packs into my little spandex racing belt.  Dave's wife calmly took it from me, loaded the packs in the belt, and handed it back so I could fasten it around my waste.  Erin, thanks!

Around the fifteenth mile I encountered my first acquaintance to cheer for me by name.  I had no clue that Annie was going to be there, but there she was, screaming "Go, Ryan Haber!"  That was a very happy and unexpected meeting.  During the race the Run for Vocations team was out cheering - the organizers, designated cheerers, and those who had already finished the 10k.  Carol Flannery, the team organizer, was among them.  I think we met around the sixteenth mile.  Thanks, guys!  My mom met me at the twenty mile mark.  We hugged, and I spent a few minutes stretching.  She gave me some water to swallow my ibuprofen, which I had kept forgetting to take.  Seeing her was a real morale boost!  She hustled all over the Mall and Rosslyn to see and cheer for me.  Thanks, Ma!  What a sight for sore eyes.  A few meters later I encountered another Run for Vocations crew, led by Msgr. Rob Panke, all of whom went wild cheering.  Thanks, guys!  They told me later that my ma heard them cheering and went over to thank them, as she hustled by to get to the next cheering point.  They also told me that it looked like I was flying.  Lol.  I sure didn't feel like it at that point.

The 14th Street Bridge stunk again this year.  It will always stink.  The MCM Champion, who won the race in 2:21 hrs, said that it stank.  It is about a mile long, including the launch and landing, but it stinks.  It is arched, so it is the second hill of the race, and it stinks.  It is exposed to the sun, without shade, and with a brisk wind off the river, it stinks.  There are very few cheerers because it is inaccessible by car, and it stinks.  LOTS of people start walking at that point, creating obstacles for those still running, and it stinks.  It stinks.  It stinks.  At the start of the bridge, a runner has only 10k left in the 42k race.  But let me tell you what, no 10k I have ever run has stunk that much.  Cramping picks up, dehydration feels more acute, and frankly, jumping to certain death in the chilling Potomac must seem like a plausible option to some of the racers, because it stinks.  About halfway across the bridge, at my second stop on the bridge to stretch for 30 seconds or so, I started sobbing.  It just happened.  No tears came out, but I just shook and sobbed for another 30 seconds or so.  Then I prayed, "Eternal Father, please give me strength.  Help me to accomplish this thing for me and for you and for priests for our Church.  Help me to encourage others whose hearts are wavering.  Please, Father.  Amen."  I breathed deep and looked up.  A spectator was leaning against the Jersey barrier, resting his arms on his bike and looking at me, and at the crowds.  Unashamed, I started to run again.

Like all unpleasantries, it passes if we persevere.  Landing in Crystal City is a bit of a morale boost - tons of crowds cheering, more live music.

On the metro ride home I met a man who was wearing his medal, and proud.  He had a tummy and told me it was his first marathon.  I smiled and congratulated him.  Very much like the Christian life - it is freaking difficult, but surprisingly doable by anyone with a heart to do it, with some friends to help him along, and with some grace and power from God.

Ok, so my stats, from the MCM website, are above at the right.  When I get more pictures in, I will post them.  Thanks for your support throughout my training.  I am grateful to you all, and offered up miles on this race for many of you.  I'm also grateful to my other roommate for meeting Tom and me after the race to carry our bags and celebrate with us.  You have all been in my prayers.  This time around, I think I will try to avoid getting out of shape by signing up for a spring marathon.


Anonymous said...

Awesome Ryan! Congrats!

Fred S. said...

Good job, dude! Awesome!

Kelly said...

Well done, Ryan!

Mark T said...

Congrats Ryan! Makes me want to do it again. NOT! Tremendous accomplishment and blog entry!

Thy Handmaid's son said...

Luce, Fred, Kelly, Mark,

Thanks! It was a lot of fun, in a painful kinda way, ya know!

Maybe I'll see y'all there next year! Who knows?!