November 23, 2016 districtrunningcollective@gmail.com

#TrayTakesPhilly: The Journey to 26.2 Miles

By Traci Scott

“You’re running how many miles?”

Yes, I know…Saying it out loud sounds a little crazy. I decided to embark on this journey when I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon back in June. Initially, I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of running a marathon. I was completely content running half marathons and just working on improving my overall time/pace. However, I’m a gal that loves challenges and training for a marathon, I figured, was the ultimate challenge! So…what’s next?

TRAINING

This is the part where it gets REAL. I configured an 18-week training program and hit the ground running. I began my training at the end of July and let me tell you, training in the middle of the summer is NOT a game! The heat and humidity made some long runs seem impossible to finish, but hey, this is what I signed up for, right? I will never forget…It was week 16 in my training program, and I had a dreaded 20-mile run to tackle. Thankfully, I had my DRC family (Keshia, Perri, and Stephanie) to hold me down the last six miles of that brutal run. I remember feeling so fatigued and hungry, I literally did not know how I was putting one foot in front of the other. But the constant encouraging words of these women pushed me through those last few miles. At that point, it hit me, Wow, I’m seriously about to run a marathon!

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NO TURNING BACK NOW

I headed up to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon, checked into my hotel, and proceeded to the Philadelphia Conventional Center to pick up my race packet. This was a pretty exciting moment for me. Once the volunteer gave me my bib, it was a wrap…THIS IS HAPPENING! After picking up my race packet, I then went to get laced at the Under Armour brand house. The Under Armour team was so gracious to give us runners a VIP shopping trip. I was so grateful and spent hours finding the perfect outfit (you have to look good too!).

Now, the part everyone loves the night before a race…CARB LOADING! I had a delicious pasta dish from The Cheesecake Factory in the city, a couple of blocks away from the store. Immediately after finishing my meal, I got super nervous and anxiety out of this world! Once I got back to the hotel, I started my preparation for the big day. Of course, I laid out my entire outfit and took an obligatory “race-ready picture”, then took it down for the night. No turning back now!

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THE BIG DAY

I didn’t get any sleep! Anything and everything kept me awake, from the howling wind to my anxiety about what was in store for me. I struggled the entire night trying to get a good night’s rest…that did not happen. So, I started getting ready at 4:00 A.M. to be on time to catch the hotel shuttle to the starting line which left at 5:00 A.M. As I took my seat on the shuttle bus, I had the opportunity to chat a little with some of the other runners. They shared with me briefly about their past races and what to expect with this course. “Get ready for those hills!”, said the older gentleman beside me. However, the hills weren’t the only thing we had to endure. The forecast for the day was brutal: Temperatures below 30 degrees with wind gusts more than 40mph. There was really no point to me being a worrywart about the forecast because that was beyond my control. I just had to say a prayer and get through it. When we arrived at the starting line, to my surprise, we were the only runners there! I guess the other thousands of runners were busy getting more rest (I mean…we were two hours early). Luckily, one of the perks of being the first to arrive is we didn’t have to wait in the blistering cold! One of the volunteers was so kind to let us stay in one of the heated tents until the start of the race.

After taking a couple of bathroom breaks and stretching, it was time! The moment I had been anticipating for five months was here. As I took my place in my corral, my heart started racing…I can’t believe I’m about to run a damn marathon! I then thought of all the good luck wishes and all the people rooting for me which warmed my heart and eased my anxiety.

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LET’S DO THIS!

SET…And we’re off! I had so many emotions at this point, but I was mostly excited! The sun was rising above this beautiful city of Philadelphia, and supporters were LIT. I immediately remembered all the advice given to me and took action. I kept a slow and steady pace, so I wouldn’t burn completely out towards the end. I felt great…then came the WIND! The wind was so strong, physically pushing me backwards, but I kept it moving to the next mile. Then, the hills…and more hills…and more hills. At this point, I was at mile 11 and over it…not a good feeling. So, I popped a few Cliff Blocks and prayed for them to kick in FAST! As I began to gain some energy back, the hills subsided and the course headed right outside of the city alongside the Schuylkill River (gorgeous views!).

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I have to say, the one thing that motivated me to get through miles 13-17 was seeing the DRC CHEER SQUAD at mile 18! The fact that these amazing individuals drove from D.C. just to show their support and cheer me and my fellow runners on is incredible. I approached mile 18 with a burst of energy (guess it was the Cliff Blocks). There they were! Cliff, Maya, Stephanie, J. Knight, Keshia, Perri, Tosha, Natalie and Collins were so LIT! And they were even more LIT at mile 22, just when I hit “the wall” and was starting to completely burn out. They gave me the boost of energy I needed to push through the last four miles. Let me tell you, those were THE hardest 4.2 miles I’ve run in my entire life! Of course, the wind kicked into HIGH GEAR the last two miles. I seriously wanted to walk because it seemed never-ending! But then I thought about all the training, all the early morning runs, all the Friday nights I didn’t drink, all the people cheering and dug DEEP. I thought to myself, I didn’t train ALL summer to walk at mile 25…Finish strong girl! As I approached mile 26, I felt so overwhelmed with so many different emotions. I heard all the supporters cheering and some yelling, “Go Traci, you’re almost there!” Normally, hearing that during a race is kind of annoying because half of the time you really aren’t “almost there”. However, this time I seriously was ALMOST THERE! The feeling I had crossing the finish line was indescribable and getting that gold medal put around my neck was ALL worth it! Challenge completed…I’m officially a marathoner!

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About Traci Scott: This was my first year running with DRC, but I have been running for the past three years. Running has brought me through numerous life obstacles and has allowed me to enjoy and see the beauty in the sport.

Why I RUNDRC? I love and appreciate everything that DRC stands for. I’m an advocate for living a healthy and fit lifestyle, and DRC represents that. But above all, I love that it’s more than just a running community. It’s a family.