November 6, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon (Race Report)

I know I've owed you a race report for nearly a week now...but life sort of got in the way. My mom and I flew into Sacramento late Monday night (after having to completely change flights due to delays) and I literally collapsed into bed, only to be woken a couple hours later to the news that my grandmother had passed in the night. So needless to say, family was priority and running and race reports took a back seat this week. And honestly, I just didn't have the energy to run or even write about it. Things have slowly started to return to normal though and it's time to fill you in on an epic MCM!

The first couple days in DC I wasn't feeling so hot, I think partly due to the traveling, lack of sleep, and time change. I actually felt a little feverish Saturday night, but hoped I'd feel better in the morning. Sunday my mom and I were up at 5am. I had everything laid out so I just went through my usual routine. We headed down to the hotel lobby to grab some breakfast then caught a shuttle to the metro. It was chilly out, but anticipating warmer temps later on I had chosen to wear shorts, a short sleeve with arm warmers, and a jacket to ditch just before the race. The metro was crowded with runners, but luckily we got on the first train. We made it to the Pentagon Station and joined the throngs of runners making their way to the start. It was a bit of a walk from the metro - I'd say almost a mile - then we went through "security" to get to the runners village and start. I made a beeline to the potty and was pleased to see they had a ton of them which made for fast moving lines. With that out of the way my mom and I headed to the start. The runners were organized into self-assigned corrals, so based on my goals I kept walking til I saw the 4:10-4:29 sign. I finally handed over my jacket to my mom and at 8am the cannon signaling the start went off! I was actually relatively close to the start so it only took about 8 minutes before I was crossing the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon : )
 freezing my butt off at the start!
 30,000 runners (!!)
 getting close!

The race started out in the cute little neighborhood of Rosslyn. The first steady hill began immediately and lasted until about mile 3. I managed to keep up a decent pace, but I couldn't help but think how much it sucked to already be tired from hills! Eventually the hill peaked and then we had some nice downhill and flat stretches. During this part in particular we were surrounded by trees aflame with color in true fall fashion - it made for a beautiful sight. Next we crossed over the Potomac River into Georgetown for an out-and-back loop near and another long hill at mile 6 (the last of the course, thankfully). It was around this point that I saw a couple marines helping push one of the handcyclists who was struggling up the hill - definitely brought a tear to my eye and helped me push it up the rest of the hill. Lots of spectators greeted us as we came back through Georgetown. Looking back I'm still amazed, not only by the insane number of runners that were out there, but also by the hordes of spectators! It was a little ridiculous.
first mile through Rosslyn
 i love fall : )
 crossing the Potomac
 mad respect for these guys
 gearing up for the oncoming incline
 haha i love this sign!

Up to this point I was averaging about a 9:45 pace which felt pretty comfortable. A few twinges in my hips, but nothing extreme. As we made our way toward central DC I kept an eye out for my mom. She had planned to be at mile 10 first, but with such huge crowds we weren't able to find each other. The next few miles we ran along the river adjacent to a golf course. At this point I realized I had to pee, which would be a constant nag for the rest of the race, since I refused to stop : / I started to get a little tired around mile 11, and for the first time it started to require some effort to maintain my pace. I made it to mile 13 right on schedule at 2:11 (consistent with my A goal), but from there things started to fall apart. I was just tired, and my hip had started to ache pretty badly. I took my first brief walk breaks, but managed to hang on to my pace until about mile 15.
some shade at mile 9ish
running along the river
about halfway!

Around mile 16 we ran right next to the Lincoln Memorial which was pretty amazing. Again I looked for my mom, but the spectators here were three deep so I missed her again. The noise of everyone was incredible, it felt like I was running through a tunnel of cheering fans! As we approached a water spot I discovered a minor setback - my remaining salt caps had completely fallen apart in my pocket! I chose not to panic, and instead simply switched to drinking the course drink, which luckily was Powerade, something my stomach could handle. From here the course took us along the Mall and we passed our second monument, the Washington Memorial. I continued taking little walk breaks when necessary, and my overall pace slowly started to creep up. At mile 17 I finally spotted my mom for the one and only time during the race. Grabbed some water from her quickly then kept moving - it had gotten to the point where it almost hurt more to walk than to keep running. The course looped in front of the US Capitol and came back up the Mall on the opposite side, taking us past the red brick Smithsonian Castle. A little ways further we ran along the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial on the opposite bank.
 Lincoln Memorial
 Washington Memorial
 passing the Washington Memorial
US Capitol
cool angle!
 Smithsonian Castle
Jefferson Memorial
At mile 20 we came to the infamous bridge that must be "beat" in a certain cutoff time in order to continue with the race. This is where things got really miserable. Whoever thought to include a mile long bridge freeway at this point in a marathon is cruel. You could literally see it stretch on and on in the distance meanwhile there were no water stops along this section. Finally we got off the freeway and found ourselves in the exuberant Crystal City for the final miles. There were tons of people out there to cheer us on and this entire section of the course was lined with colorful flags. At this point my walk breaks had become a little more frequent in response to an increase in hip pain. At mile 22 I saw a girl handing out beer, and as I passed her I seriously considered turning back. It sounded so good at the time. One of life's regrets, I guess : )
"beat the bridge"
 colorful Crystal City

We left Crystal City around mile 24 and the last 2 miles were along a stretch of highway near the Pentagon and adjacent to Arlington Cemetery. I got a little bit of a finishing kick that propelled me those last two miles and I was passing people right and left. The crowds grew thicker as I got closer, I passed the mile 26 marker, then it was a quick turn and straight up a steep hill for the final tenths of a mile to the finish! I crossed the line smiling, then was immediately stopped in my tracks by the traffic jam of runners. We slowly moved forward to receive our medals, given out by the Marines which was pretty cool. I came in at 4:34:52 which met my B goal and was a 15 minute PR. The course was about .25 miles long, too, but with the crowds I wasn't surprised. I'll admit I'm a little disappointed I didn't hit 4:21, and I hate that this has sort of overshadowed my otherwise awesome accomplishment. A few months ago I never would've thought I'd have a 3 in that second place of my finish time. I know I have that 4:21 in me, and there's always CIM : )
 big crowds near the end
finish line in sight!
woot woot!

As soon as I stopped moving my legs immediately began throbbing unbearably so I headed to some grass and collapsed. Now that I wasn't moving the wind and clouds made it a little chilly but thankfully they had space blankets for us. I sat and waited for the throbbing to subside a little then tried to call my mom so we could meet up. I took a few pics in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial, then made my way out of the finisher's area and somehow found my mom among the crowd. We grabbed some food and then made our way to the metro which had a line literally going around the block! It moved pretty fast though and about an hour later I finally hobbled into our hotel. I showered and even took an ice bath, and by then it was late afternoon so we decided to relax in our room before going out to dinner to celebrate.
Iwo Jima Memorial

I was considerably sore that night and Monday, and my toes were particularly sensitive. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be losing 3 toenails that just grew back : ( We got some last minute sightseeing in Monday morning before heading to Baltimore for our flight home. I will just mention that being cooped up on a plane for like 6 hours after running a marathon is not fun and makes for some very unhappy legs. Due to the circumstances I mentioned at the beginning, I haven't really had the time or energy this week to run so I took it off instead. Between work, family stuff, and lingering soreness and fatigue (I'm quite prone to jet lag it seems), the rest was much needed. I had an awesome time in DC though (I'll post about the sightseeing soon) and really enjoyed the race. Kudos to the MCM for a well organized and fun race, and thanks to all the Marines for volunteering! If you ever have a chance to run this race, do it!!
MCM: marathon #7!

p.s. Congrats to everyone who ran the Santa Barbara Marathon and Half! It seems like such a long time ago I was running my second marathon on that course and barfing my guts out : / Missing sunny Santa Barbara...

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear of your loss. As much as we love running, sometimes other far more important things remind us of that it's the people in our lives that make us who we are.

    When I've been confronted with the loss of people around me I do what I can to help & then I run (for me). I call it my "mourning run". No music, no Garmin, just me & my thoughts.

    Congratulations on another fantastic marathon & a wonderful race report.

    All the best,