Alright, so this *should* be Tuesday's Tip day but instead, I am going to share my race report from the Marine Corps Marathon from this past weekend. Remember, I am the same person who was 50 pounds overweight and in a size 14 about 3.5 years ago....
MARINE CORPS MARATHON - OCTOBER 30, 2011
Traveling there: Never thought it would snow at the end of October but it did. My aunt and I drove over the mountains to get there, thinking we were being smart but avoiding the turnpike. Well, it ended up being super snowy. Accident count on the way there was 8 and the 4.5 hour journey took a little over 6 hours.
The Expo: I was not impressed with the expo but I suppose it would be difficult to arrange for 30,000 runners so I'll cut them some slack. First, you had to go to one building to get your race bib and then to another building for the t-shirt. The shirt is a really thick cotton and is a mock turtleneck. Definitely not my style and I prefer a tech material so I can wear it for running. Apparently, you can buy finisher shirts but I never found the area at the end to do so Since we were in so much bad weather, we never stopped for lunch so we ate at the expo. There was a concession stand set up and no seating. Fail.
The Night Before: I had been having random heel issues ever since I wore those stupid shoes to usher at the Cake Boss event. It wasn't pain exactly, just a weird numb sensation. It was freaking me out though and I ended up canceling on going out to dinner with "F" and her friends so I could rest it. Instead of getting on the metro to meet them, we headed to the mall that was across the street from our hotel and went to a pub style restaurant. I got a French Dip sandwich and mashed potatoes. I crawled in bed at 8pm but didn't fall asleep right away. I got up at 3am to blow my nose (hotel air always has that effect on me...) and slept on and off again until 4am. I woke up to a sweet video from my family and a couple of friends to watch and it made me cry.
Race Time: After taking the Metro in the morning, I met up with friends at an office near the finish line. (Thanks for the hookup, "J"!!!) I had bought breakfast at Panera the night before and ended up eating about 3/4 of a chocolate chip bagel and 1/2 of a banana. We used the nice clean bathrooms there and headed out. It was fuh-reezing out there! The bridge we had to cross in the one mile walk to the start was icy and that made me nervous. The start was super crowded. I had been planning to start with "F" but I lost her in the crowd and ended up lining up at the 4 hour corral with another girl I met that morning. I probably should have been a little further back but it was so insane that I just figured I would be better off stopping than risking stepping on toes to keep moving. The start was awesome. They were playing "Moves Like Jagger" which reminds me of my oldest son (we tease him that this is his favorite song) so he was my first motivation. Drew Carey was the "starter" for the race. I had a throwaway shirt on and tore it off, literally, in all the excitement of tossing clothes. I also dropped my pack of Kleenex at the same time.
The miles ticked by pretty quickly. The first 7-8 miles are pretty hilly. One of the hills was really similar to one in my neighborhood and I felt myself passing people on that one. I was grateful for my hill training at that point as there were quite a few runners taking walk breaks. I tried my best to keep my pace consistent and only sped up once and sprinted when I saw "F" just a bit ahead of me. I think we were around mile 7 or 8? I smacked her butt and asked her how she was doing. She wasn't feeling great and was looking for a bathroom. We ran near each other for about another half mile maybe and then she peeled off to the port-a-potties. I spent the next few miles thinking about her. I had my name on my shirt and was feeling like a celebrity as people called out my name and encouraged me along the way. Instead of listening to music like I do on all my long runs, I high fived, fist pumped and woo hoo'ed the crowd and other runners. I had a blast.
A few times out on the course, I was running near this girl who had a small veil on her ponytail and a shirt with the name of a soldier who had passed. I tried so hard to fight back tears because I am pretty sure she was planning on marrying him. There were lots of other moments where I nearly cried, like when I passed the pentagon and when I saw a Marine running with an artificial leg. This was such an inspirational race!
I passed the 13.1 mark at about 2:01:00 and said to myself that if I doubled that and added 10 minutes from that point, that would be awesome. At mile 14, I started to feel a blister developing on my left big toe and that slowed me down a little. I changed my goal about 100 times out there, finally deciding that it would be really cool to beat my last marathon by 20 minutes which would be a 4:17:00.
Around mile 19, I felt my legs starting to fatigue. In addition to that, I felt like I was going to throw up. I am blaming the chocolate Gu for that one. I think next time I will alternate between Gu and sport beans. I started walking through the water stations and hearing people calling my name was about the only thing keeping me going. My aunt was in the crowd at that point but I was pretty delirious and wasn't sure if it was her voice that I heard. She says I stuck my thumb up in the air when she yelled. LOL! The last few miles were really difficult. It was through an area called Crystal City and there were tons of turns. We'd go down a street and then loop back to the other side of that same street. At that point, I was just ready to be done but figured I could stick it out til the end. The sun was shining a lot at that point and I wanted to tear my running tights off but obviously, I couldn't do that discretely so I settled for unzipping them at the bottom.
At mile 24-ish, I saw a guy from Pittsburgh that is at all my races. He was walking. I stopped for a couple of seconds to check on him. He said he was tightening up and encouraged me to keep going. He said I looked great out there which was a total lie but I was willing to go with it at the moment. I also saw the girl I had started with at mile 26. She had been trying for a sub 4 but had ended up having some issues with her left leg. I was super proud of her - this was her first marathon. We encouraged each other as we headed to the last bit.
The end of this race is up a hill, turn right and up again. I *knew* the finish was right there and started to sprint a little bit. Instantly, my stomach got a giant knot in it and I was about to puke. I didn't want that to happen there at the end so I walked for a second to catch my breath and trotted in for my finish. The clock read 4:14 something and my chip time was 4:11:09. I was and still am over the moon. This is a 26 minute PR for me The marathon was a thorn in my side as I feel like I am fairly quick on all the shorter races but just wasn't able to overcome the marathon distance. Well, now I did and though yesterday, I swore I was done with marathons, I am guessing that if you give me a week or so, I'll change my tune.
I was really grateful for all my friends who were tracking me as I thought about you all every single time I hit a timing mat.
Post Race: We waited in line for the Metro for 20 minutes and had only moved a few feet up so we decided to walk back to the hotel. According to the navigation on my phone, it was 2.4 miles. We headed off and it was pretty hard to walk. I wasn't tightening up yet but that blister was killing me. About a mile into the walk, I spotted a cab and hailed it. We got back to the hotel with 15 minutes to spare before I would have to pay a half day room rate. I quickly showered and threw on some clothes with my aunt packed the car. We set the keys on the front desk counter at 1:59pm and the staff congratulated me on the marathon as well as my quickness in getting out of the room. I was really impressed with the service at the Hilton. I will definitely recommend them anytime.