Monday, October 29, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

This weekend was a blur. Honestly, I'm not even sure I remember what happened yesterday. I arrived in DC around midnight on Friday, and fell asleep some where around 2am. Saturday was hectic, and filled with way too much walking. Though I was exhausted, I could not fall asleep. I can't really calculate, but I was tossing and turning in bed all night, and seemed like I got just a few hours of sleep.

I woke up at 5:20am on race day, had my breakfast and coffee, used half a tube of body glide, and I was on my way to the runners village! We were lucky that at this point the weather seemed pretty good. It was cool, slightly windy, and barely drizzling. The weather reports said the wind would start to pick up around noon, with rain later in the night. I was really happy to meet up with my friend Rebecca in the village. It was nice to talk with someone and try and get our minds off the race. It was also nice because we were planning on running similar paces, so I thought I would try and hang with her.

Now, let me just preface the rest of my recap with one sentence: I did not like this race. At all. I thought the logistics were terrible. There was a 20 minute walk from the nearest train station to the runners village, and then another 1/2 mile from the village to the start line. And then when you finished the race, it was kind of like the post-NYCM march of death, except on a wider road, but with no Mylar sheet. And then it was another 10-20 minute walk to the UPS trucks that had your baggage. And then it was either A) Stand on line for 20 minutes to get a bus B) Wait for a taxi for 20 minutes or C) Take 20 minutes to shuffle down to the train.

Okay. With that out of the way, let me continue my race recap. So, Rebecca and I get to the start line, but the closest to our "Projected Finish Time" we can get is around 5:00. Great. So we started farther back, and it took us about 15 minutes to cross the start line. I tried to keep her in my sights, but did I mention this race was super crowded? No? Oh. Well it was super crowded. She was weaving in and out of people, and I quickly lost her. I tried to find a comfortable spot of my own to run in, but it was difficult. Then we hit the first hill, some people started walking, and some people slowed down so much it felt like we were walking. I looked at my Garmin....12 minute mile?! Oh no, no, no. I needed to pick up the pace. Unfortunately, there was no where to go. Every time a path opened up I would cut through, and I would look down at my Garmin which hovered around 9:15-9:30, but then in just a few minutes I would catch up to a slower group in front of me that caused me to slow down. And up every hill, people seemed to slow down drastically. Did I seriously train more on hills then all these other runners?

There were also a few really boring out and backs on this course, too. In the beginning of the race there's an out and back/loop by the Potomac River. It was very beautiful, and peaceful, but not much to look at. The road was also so narrow, I got tripped (but didn't fall) by someone cutting in front of me, and got kicked by someone doing the same. Then you hit Georgetown, which was my favorite part of the race. It reminded me a lot of the vibe in Manayuk in the Philly Marathon. I was feeling amazing, and all "I LOVE RUNNING MARATHONS!" After the wonderful energy, and excitement in Georgetown, you pass some great crowds by the Lincoln memorial, and then you head towards this dreadful narrow loop by the East Potomac Golf Course. It was also tough because there was a water station at mile 11, and normally I would have taken a Gel around 12...but the next water station wasn't until after mile 13, and the one after that wasn't until after mile 16.

Around mile 18 I got elbowed by a stupid female spectator trying to cross the street. And after that, not much happened. My left piriformis/hip started to get sore around mile 13, but it seemed to dull until mile 22 or so. The bridge over to Crystal City was brutal, and I was also extremely thirsty. (No water between 19 and 23) I was definitely starting to fade by this point, and everything was hurting. I kept thinking about everyone tracking me at home, and how proud I was of myself that, at the very least, I hadn't stopped to walk once. I would say very early on in this race I knew I was not going to make my A goal, and just hoped I'd be able to bring it in around 4:15-4:20. By the time we got into Crystal City (mile 23ish) I knew it wasn't even likely that I'd finish sub 4:20. At this point, I just wanted to finish. I'm sure by mile 24, everyone wants to just "be done" and stop running!

Oh, and that little hill right before the finish line? Ouch. I heard my name being called as I crossed the finish line in 4:24:47, and tried to raise my arms in triumph. Just over a 5 minute PR from last year. It's not the race I was hoping for, but that's what happened. I would be lying if I didn't say that I'm very disappointed I couldn't run sub 4:20 (or my A goal of 4:09) but it is what it is. I might have been asking too much of myself to PR 20 minutes two years in a row!

Marathon #4 done and done.
I am trying to look on the bright side of the race. I am grateful that I was able to train, and finish marathon #4 and still PR! I charged up the hills and tried to stay strong even when I was hurting. Also, I ran a really, really even race, which is something I'm really proud of. I always seem to have the issue that as the race goes on, I start to slow down so much. Below are the average paces for each 5k during the race.

10:12/10:02/9:49/9:43/9:59/10:16/10:08/10:42 (Sadly, by this point I was definitely suffering in the race, and I knew I wasn't going to make my A, B or C goal, so I just wanted to get the race done.)

Why yes, I would like to.

I can blame a million things other than myself, but the fact is, as my friend Joe put it, that was the race I had in me THAT day. Maybe if I had gotten more sleep, maybe if I had walked less the day before, maybe if the course had been less crowded. Maybe, maybe.

The last thing I want to share with you is one of my favorite signs that I saw a spectator holding, right around mile 19. It was a very simple sign, and after I read it, it took me a second to understand it, but once I did, it became the words that I repeated during the rest of the race whenever I needed a boost.

Inhale: Can, Exhale: Can't

1 comment:

  1. Nice article! I was there too and did not finish the way I wanted to. The north wind was quite strong and it caused me to miscalculate my fluid intake resulting in some bad leg cramps after mile 20. But a great race all the way around. How often will you have a story about trying to beat a hurricane?? And who knew what clothes to bring??? I brought everything not knowing what the weather would be.
    good luck!