So I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. Although I did a 6 hour race in July, I really didn’t have an idea of how my body would react to actually trying to RUN a marathon since this is the first one I had signed up for. My training wasn’t what I wanted when I signed up courtesy of my knee injury in June, but I had a decent Army Run Half in September, so I had a least a smidgen of confidence going into the race. So on Saturday night I set out the flat Running Lonely.
It really isn’t all that flat when you think about it
Then after taking the picture, I promptly threw all of it in a pile of my bedroom floor. I woke up Sunday morning at 4, so I could get some foam rolling in, collect my stuff, fill up my hydration pack, and get out the door. Oops, forgot to get dressed, sorry about that. After putting on my running clothes I went out the door. I had the choice between picking up Metro at Pentagon City, or just walking to the start, and I chose the latter. Yes, it is nice being able to walk to the start of a major marathon.
Once I was there I checked my bag, visited here a couple of times.
Another entry for my book on pre-race bathroom facilities-The Runs
Did some stretching and some light warm-up running and then went to corrals. The wind was already pretty high and I was shivering in my singlet. Fortunately the wind calmed down a bit and wasn’t too bad for the first 11 miles.
So we waited:
Trash bag chic. Waiting in the corrals. Obviously these women do not read my blog or they would have moved elsewhere. Well I guess they could be tweeting that they were standing next to Running Lonely, but I really am guessing not so much.
As the howitzer went off to start the race I reminded myself of a very important thing:
I have bad penmanship
So the first three miles are net uphill and I have a tendency to start out too fast and I have a tendency to run up hills too fast. What do you think happened when the two of these things are combined? Well Mile 1 I looked at my watch and I was going 6:05.
Did Anyone Really Believe I would not go out too fast?
Of course the 6:05 was km/min. I decided to switch to km on my Garmin to get more readings and to keep myself from starting too fast. The first three miles were 10:15, 10:13, 10:01 (the 3rd mile included a pretty steep downhill onto Sprout Run). After Sprout Run we ran through Georgetown (it was too early to get cupcakes so I didn’t go to either Georgetown Cupcakes or Baked and Wired). After jaunting through Georgetown we then turned onto Rock Creek parkway. If you are fast, you get the see the leaders coming the other way. I was only fast enough to see pretty darn fast runners. I felt bad for anyone who saw me coming the other way, for so many reasons.
My basic game plan for the race was to keep a solid pace to take advantage of the cooler temps, shade and less wind in the first half of the race, then hang on for dear life in the 2nd half of the race.
The Rock Creek Park piece seemed to take forever to get to the turnaround but finally I got there and on the way back got to see DCRunster and she shouted encouragement. This helped for the next mile until one of the more humiliating things in my running career happened:
I was passed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
Actually I was passed by him twice since he stopped at a water stop. *sigh* Miles 4,5,6, came in at 9:45 (some downhill) 10:10 and 9:40 (downhill again). The course at this point is short ups and downs and I found it difficult to find a good rhythm. I had carried a water bottle in addition to my hydration pack and tossed the water bottle to the side at the water stop past mile 6. At first I was wondering if a hydration pack was overkill, but I ended up using all but a couple of ounces during the race and sucked it dry post race so it was a good decision to drag it along. I would also like to thank the race organizers for handing out Vaseline at several points on the course because my nip guards fell off at mile 1 and 2 and well, that isn’t a site that anyone really wants to see (and you probably didn’t even want to read about).
So back to the race– leaving Rock Creek Park we made our way past the Kennedy Center I finally hit a rhythm with miles 7,8 and 9 came in at 10:06,10:08,10:07. It was a good pace but we were starting to hit patches of sun and I was starting to notice the wind. I probably over compensated by trying to go a bit harder for the next two miles were 10:00 and 9:55.
A serious moment here. At mile 12 there fallen service members are commemorated with their picture and along the roadway and it also decorated with American flags. Somewhere around mile 11 there was this woman passed me carrying an American flag. When I got to mile 12 I turned off my music and took everything in. I notice the same woman on her knees holding one of the signs of a fallen service member and she was sobbing. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have seen in my life and I will never forget it.
I hit the half at just under 2:12, Now Hains Point has been a bit of a nemesis for me in the past, and after the halfway point Hains Point took another swing at me. The next two miles were 10:13 and 10:25. After mile 14 I tried to concentrate on my pace a bit more as we made our way past the Lincoln Memorial on onto the National Mall (no shopping just history). Miles 15 and 16 were both 10:10. The kick up on Madison on the mall seems to take a bit out of me and the runners around me. I noticed more and more that a lot of people around me were walking or slowing down so I was weaving in and out of people more than I would have liked.
Living in the DC area I run the Mall from time to time so it doesn’t quite have the same impact on me that it does on those from out-of-town. That being said I did get a kick out of seeing the awed faces of the runners around me seeing our national monuments and museums. Mile 17 came in at 10:12 and that is about where I ran into trouble (not coincidentally it matches up with my longest long run). Mile 18 and 19 were 10:40 and 10:36 and I felt my goal of 4:30 slipping away with every step. I got to the 14th street bridge and mile 20 and I slowed to 10:50. Then the bridge was seriously windy and the sun was in full force at the point. I mentally gave up on my goal and just wanted to hang in for the best time I could put together. Miles 21 and 22 were 10:40 and 10:50.
We made our way into Crystal City and at this point I really just wanted to have the crowds go away so I could suffer in silence (ok, suffer with my music but that sounds sorta silly (no surprise for long time readers of this blog)). I am glad they had the mist sprayer set up because I really needed it. Miles 23 and 24 were 10:45, 11:05. I was slowly crumbling at this point. At mile 24 was the doughnut ball stop. Although the race was well-organized, I would give this tip to them–if you are going to hand out doughnuts holes, you should have something to drink as well. I wasn’t going to have them in any case, but I can’t imagine being at mile 24 and eating one of those things with no water.
So it was off to the finish line and I limped in the next couple of miles at 10:45 and 11:00. Then there was the final 100 ft hill to the finish line (got to love those Marines). I got up the hill and picked up my medal and jacket. I missed my time by just under 3 minutes, but I won’t complain too much given I didn’t train appropriately and the weather didn’t favor me. I was in the top half of my age group which is unusual, but hey, I’ll take it.
I have mentioned before that I really don’t have a sense of accomplishment that most people have when finishing a race. Well if you ever wondered just how broken a human I am in this regard, let me demonstrate.
I kept my watch going through getting my medal, bag pick up and tweeting to those who sent encouragement (thanks for that BTW!). Then I started to go to Metro but decided I would walk the Mount Vernon trail down to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop. It then dawned on me that I could break my 6 HR PR from July if I picked up with walk pace and threw in some walk run (while carrying bags in both hands). Although I was trying to beat my timed PR, I did stop to appreciate the fall foliage that has started to peak out.
Leaves Leaves Leaves Leaves Leaves Leaves Leaves
When I got to Arlington Cemetery, I still had time left before 6 hours and I thought I could cheer on my friend Steph (AKA Goobermonkey78) just before mile 26. I was able to beat my 6 HR PR by .6 miles by doing laps by the side of the road. Then I got to cheer my friend toward the finish.
So then I walked up to Arlington Cemetery Metro stop (only walking past it once in my post marathon haze) and then went home.
Mission Accomplished. Well, until my 8K/Marathon (make you own 50K) in Richmond in less than three weeks where hopefully I can add a new PR or two to the list.
I would like to thank everyone for their support. It is much appreciated. Now on to Richmond.