Adventures in Colorado and around the World

Horizontal Miles: 2014 Marine Corps Marathon

Before I start this blog post I have to give my dad credit for the title. He’s the best person I know at stating the ironically obvious. Thanks Dad!!

This past weekend Jason and I traveled back to Virginia to see my family and for me to run the Marine Corps Marathon. This was a race that I had signed up for last year but had to defer when I injured my hamstring. I had big plans to get really fast between Leadville and the Marathon, which didn’t exactly happen. Post-Leadville I experienced a running funk like none I’ve ever experienced before. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to run, it was that I didn’t want to run fast. Between Run Rabbit Run’s DNF and the marathon, I “ran” 215 miles, with an average pace of 12:45 min/mile and minimum pace of 10:31 min/mile. That’s slow! Anyways, that should have been an indication of what my marathon would look like.

Jason and I flew in to DC bright and early Saturday morning and headed straight into downtown with parents and sister to do a little sightseeing (including going to the top of the Washington Monument!) and a little eating. We walked a TON – 6.7 miles according to Strava and probably drank a little too much, but it was worth it. My sister was nice enough to let Jason and I stay at her house Saturday night so I could sleep in a little bit more than I would have been able to at my parents’ house. 

My alarm rang at 6am with a reminder to shave my legs (to prevent chaffing) and to mix up some Tailwind to drink on the course. I then donned my wonder woman costume, woke up my sister, met up with mom and headed to the metro. It was easy getting to the start, a quick metro ride followed by a mile-ish walk to the starting corrals. We got there right as the hand-crank (wheelchair) division was starting so I quickly said goodbye to my mom and found the appropriate corral. I picked the 4:30 – 5 hour corral, since I had no idea what my running abilities were going to be. All of sudden the howitzer was sounding and it was time to run! For the first time in a month! During a race! Have I mentioned I can be a little crazy sometimes?

The race started with a nice uphill. I knew the race was extremely (for me) flat so I was excited with the hill. I kept the pace slow and easy, not knowing how my body was going to handle running 26.2 miles on a flat road in trail shoes. After crossing the Key Bridge into Georgetown I saw my family for the first time! I was so surprised with how easy it was to spot them, considering there were 20,000 people running and who knows how many spectators. They had awesome signs with sayings like “I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 26.2” and the very contentious “women like stamina”. The race then continued down memory lane, running from the Georgetown waterfront through Rock Creek park. That route was one I used to run all the way back during crew in high school. 

 By the time I made it back to the waterfront, almost exactly in front of the Thompson Boat House, my feet really began feeling the miles. And my hamstring started bothering me. Luckily not the I want to rip my leg off bothering me that happened last year so I knew I could just push through the pain. But I really had no motivation to do so. I slowed my pace down a little more and promised myself I would run until I saw my mom and sister again at mile 15. Unfortunately Haines Point killed that idea and kicked my butt just like it did during the 2013 Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC. I did a mixture of walking and running until I got to the aid station a little after the halfway point (which ironically was at the “point” of Haines point). At the aid station I poured some water on myself which reinvigorated me.

I ran the whole next 2 miles until I saw my mom and my sister which reinvigorated me even more! Really it was so wonderful to have them there, knowing I’d get to see their happy, smiling faces every 5-6 miles. And then the heat of the day started to wear on me. And my feet started hurting again. I spent the rest of the race alternating running and walking, making sure to pour cold water on my head and neck at every aid station. Somehow I made it to the 14th Street Bridge and “beating the bridge” by over an hour. I zoned out for most of that time, but I did pose for lots of pictures with people. It was amazing how many spectators were on the course and how many of them were loving the wonder woman costume!

When I finally made it back in to Virginia, my mom and sister were waiting for me. I told them about my feet killing me and my mom offered to walk the remaining 5.2 miles to the finish with me. I told her I was probably going to run as much of it as I could since I just wanted to get the race over with. So they headed to the finish line and so did I, I just took the long route. When I reached the 22 mile mark I decided I was only going to take very short walking breaks for the rest of the race. While running through Crystal City, I saw my friend Lisa, which was a huge surprise. I knew she was going to be spectating but I had no idea where or when she was going to be at the race. Luckily I was running both times I passed her. At the 24 mile “Dunkin Donut” aid station, I stopped for my two donut holes, although I could only eat one since I was pretty dehydrated and the donut holes weren’t helping. I walked with the extra one until the real aid station where I could drink some more water and toss the donut.

The next 2.2 miles seemed like we were running straight into a wind tunnel! I walked when the wind got really strong, but ran as much as I could. When I finally made it to the 25 mile mark, I knew I only had 1.2 miles left to go. I started running and kept repeating 1.2 miles, 1.2 miles, 1.2 miles every time I felt like slowing down. I slowly picked up my pace and passed so many people while only getting passed once. When I made the turn at the 26 mile point to run the last 0.2 miles to the Iwo Jima memorial, I knew I was in the home stretch and started running as fast as I could. When I got to the finish arch I raised my arms in victory, so happy to have finished my first road marathon and to get a marathon PR of 5:26:00 – over 2 hours faster than the only other marathon I’ve run (which was on a trail with a severely twisted ankle).

After collecting my medal and posing for pictures, I started the walk back to Roslyn to meet up with my mom and sister. We decided to bypass the crazy amounts of people at the Roslyn metro and walk to Court House. Along the way we stopped for some celebratory pizza and beer at Piola, one of my favorite happy hour places from when I lived and worked in Roslyn. Overall the race was a huge success. It was so well run and organized. The Marines were extremely motivational, especially the ones running in their full combat uniforms carrying flags. I’m so happy that the Marine Corps Marathon was my first road marathon. Who knows if I’ll do another – they really really hurt and I have no motivation to train on the roads – but if I don’t I’m happy that it was my one and done. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

 The rest of the weekend was wonderful too. While I was running, my dad and Jason were busy tearing up the golf course. We all met back at my parents house, along with my Nana and Papa, for a delicious home cooked meal and quality family time. I always love when I can spend time with my family, especially since I don’t get to see them very often. My Nana and Papa had so many interesting stories to tell, along I think my Nana held back some stories about my mom that I still want to hear some day! Monday we had a nice breakfast of homemade donuts and bagels (I get my cooking skills from my mom – she’s amazing) and then headed back into DC to show Jason the Air and Space Museum. The weekend was over too quickly, but luckily I’ll be back soon to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. Now it’s off to Chicago for me!