Marine Corp Marathon Recap

Oh my, where to start?  I said on my Facebook page that the marathon is similar to childbirth, you really can’t remember it all when it is over.  Here are a few snippets.

I spent Saturday night in a hotel about a mile from the finish.  The idea was to not disrupt my family by making them get up at omygod thirty to take me to the metro and so I could get as much sleep as possible before the race.  It sounded good on paper but when my husband dropped me off, I immediately LOST MY SHIT and spent the night crying.  I didn’t sleep but an hour or so and spent most of the night imagining myself being swept (not meeting the cutoff time to the bridge) or worse.  I was half certain around 2 am that I wasn’t going to even try.  It was a very bad night.

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Best thing I did was put my name on my shirt. Instant cheering section!

Luckily, I managed to talk myself (mostly) out of my funk by morning.  I didn’t trust the hotel shuttle so I walked to the metro and braved the crowds. It was then about a mile walk from the Pentagon station to Runner’s Village. I was glad I had walked it the day before for Little Runner’s fun run so I knew exactly where to go.

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Disabled veterans parachuted in with American flags right before the start. It was an amazing sight!

I didn’t have a ton of time so I immediately headed straight for the portapots.  Unfortunately, I had just entered one when the Howitzer blew.  A lot of people were still walking to the start and I knew I would be at the back of the pack so I wasn’t too concerned.  I was a bit surprised by how long it took to cross the start line.  It was about 8:17, even with me arriving late.  I thought most everyone would be out by then but I guess it takes time to move 30,000 runners!

Everyone was in great spirits when we started.  The weather was perfect, not too cold or windy, and we were all looking forward to the day.  I didn’t take any pictures on the course but these were my mental highlights:

– the “hillbilly” band, complete with a wash tub bass and an accompanying washboard playing “You Are My Sunshine” right before an underpass and hearing the runners’ voices reverberating under the bridge as they sang along.

– the Marine Corp band playing the Marines’ Hymn on the steps behind the Lincoln Memorial.

– the Blue Mile on the mostly desolate Hanes Point that featured pictures and names of fallen soldiers and then a long row of volunteers holding full-size American flags.  There were many teary eyes during this part of the run.

– Seeing my friends and family four times!!  I was so happy they were able to come and support me!  It really made all of the difference.

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First stop at Foggy Bottom
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Second stop on The Mall
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Running a bit with one of my friends before the bridge

– a high school brass section playing “Sweet Caroline” as we left Hanes Point. I was tiring so no singing but I did bop along to the “duh, duh, duh” part and one of the girls on trumpet gave me a “rock on” sign.

– the row of fraternity boys offering free hugs – some runners were taking them up on the offer!  Those poor guys!

– the f-ing 14th Street Bridge!  How I hate that bridge!  I ran it last year when I did the 10K so I knew it was long and desolate but it was still miserable.  A lot of us dropped to a walk once we passed into the “safe” zone where we were no longer in danger of being swept. Some people had friends join them to run across it.  I’m definitely doing that next year.

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Unexpectedly seeing my family at mile 26. I thought they couldn’t make that stop and I was feeling very sorry for myself. Needless to say, I broke down crying when I spotted them.

– pushing up the hill at Iwo Jima.  By this time, my legs were spent, my feet were killing me, and I was just tired but I ran the last 2/10th of a mile as fast as I could and I pushed up that hill!

Overall, I feel that I fueled well and I performed as best that I could.  I’m not thrilled with my time but this was more of a mental challenge than anything.  Now that I know that I can do it, I am going to work on improving my speed.  I have big plans for next year!

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Giveaway: RooSport Pocket

I bought a RooSport pocket about a month ago, right before it was announced that CamelBaks would not be allowed at MCM.

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My pocket after the marathon

Since I use whole food instead of GUs and gels, I really needed something to carry all of my fuel. I hate to have anything bouncing (I have enough of that on my own!) so a fuel belt was out.  When I heard about the RooSport, I thought it might fit my needs.  Overall, I have been very happy with the pocket.  My only complaint was the little piece of Velcro on the outer-most pocket. I could never get the pieces to line up right and it was a major chaffing point.  I finally took some scissors and cut out the stitches.  After that, I had no further problems.

I met one of the owners, Brenda, at the expo on Friday and told her about the Velcro. She said that they weren’t happy with it, either, so they have removed it from the current models. She then gave me a BRAND NEW, Velcro-less pouch! Well, mine works just fine now so I decided to pass the new one on to YOU!

The pocket is super soft, has a zippered pocket that can hold an iPhone, another pocket for fuel, and it attaches to your waistband via a super strong magnet. I have never had it shift or even noticed it on my runs, no matter what I stuff in the pockets!  Oh, and best of all, you can wash it 🙂

The giveaway runs until 8:00 am Monday so don’t delay!

1. Like Unexpected Runner on Facebook
2. Like RooSport on Facebook
3. Leave a comment here saying what you will put in your RooPocket

Good luck!

Terra Incognito

Little Runner is learning about maps in school and was telling me last night about the flat earth/falling off the world idea.

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I thought it fitting as I’m about to sail right off my map.  I have no idea what is on the other side or if those are sea monsters or friendly whales.

People keep asking me if I’m ready and I just can’t reply to that.  I will never feel ready.  Even if I managed to execute a flawless training cycle, I wouldn’t feel ready.  There’s always more that could be done.  But, the “hay is in the barn”, so to speak. I’ve trained the best I could — I worked hard and smart to prepare my mind and body in every way.  Now I just have to trust my ship and hope for favorable winds.

Race Report: Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon

It’s always nice to find a race group that consistently hosts an excellent race!  I first ran with J&A Racing in February for their Virginia is for Lovers 14K.  Yesterday, Little Runner and I partook of their Crawlin’ Crab race trio and were very pleased with the day (despite the weather!)

I had planned on this half marathon to be my big PR of the year.  My plan was to run with the 2:30 pace group and cut 10 minutes off from my previous PR at the Historic Half.  I didn’t count on the weather.  It was abnormally hot and humid and the sun was shining it all its glory.  Remember, I’m the wilting flower who usually collapses under those conditions but I decided NOT THIS TIME!

Packet Pick Up

The packet pick-up, as well as the race start and finish, was at the Hampton Convention Center.  It was super easy to pick up our packets, have my ID checked for the post-race beer band (even though I never have one), and pick up our shirts.  LR and I both received race specific shirts.  His was cute blue cotton T and mine was a red tech v-neck.  Even though it was a “ladies cut” it still fit appropriately.  I also received a 13.1 car magnet with a crab between the 3 and the 1.  It’s very cute!  The “expo” was quite small.  They had some race branded merchandise but I think there was less merchandise than the VIFL exp.  They also had a couple dozen vendors on site.  One chiropractor was doing complimentary KT taping, which I thought was nice.

Kid’s Kilometer and Race Start

We were advised to be at the convention center by 7:00 if we wanted to park and we had no problems finding a good spot.  The Kid’s Kilometer began at 7:30.  They started with Miss. Someone – Teen Virginia? I don’t know – leading the kids through the Pledge of Allegiance.  I thought it was a nice touch.  The race started right on time and LR blazed the way.  He was very excited that it was chipped timed and was asking me to look up his results the entire ride home!

My race began at 8:00.  I was seeded in corral 4 and my pacers were at the back of the corral with the obligatory sign.  They were very nice guys and not excessively chatty.  The Hampton University marching band led the start with the chair racers at the front.   It was already in the 70s and very humid at this point.  It was all very organized and orderly.

On the Course

Did I mention it was hot?  We were all dripping by mile 2.  There were 7 water/Gatorade stops and I had my small bottle of EFS but that was barely enough.  I lost track of my pacers at the mile 7 water stop and was feeling a little discourage.  I was miserable and my time was starting to show it.  Luckily, this was about the time that we moved into the neighborhoods where some wonderful people had set up sprinklers, an impromptu Skittles and pretzels stop, and several had cases of water that they were passing out.  They were freaking awesome!  There was also a planned candy aid station with fruit flavored Mike & Ike’s.  I didn’t think I would take any but I wound up with two cups (3 pieces in each cup).  I needed the sugar!

The course itself was almost entirely flat.  We just had “hills” on the two overpasses and one over an inlet – which smelled like steam crabs – that struck me as very fitting.  We ran past the water for a bit and by some interesting architecture but I was honestly just trying to keep moving so I didn’t look around very much.  I think it was around mile 10 that I saw one of the pacers helping a woman to the curb.  I talked to him for a minute and he was cramping so badly that he had to drop from the group.  At this point, I really wanted to walk but my stubborn side kicked in and I tried to push as hard as I could.  I decided to run until mile 12 and then finish strong.  And I did.  Mile 12 was at an 11 minute pace.  I wound up setting a new personal best by 4 minutes.  It wasn’t the 2:30 that I was hoping for but, considering the conditions, I was just fine with my time.

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Strong finish!

On Course Support

The support was fabulous. There were plenty of volunteers passing out cold water at all 7 aid stations plus a police officer or other official at all intersections – most of the roads were still open to traffic on one side so this was very important.  There was a gel of some sort at one of the later aid stations but I wasn’t paying attention since I don’t use them.  And, of course, the Mike & Ike’s.  The course and the mileage was well marked and agreed with my Garmin.  The true gems, though, were the good people of Hampton who were out showing their support.  Around mile 11, a woman sitting on her porch asked why we were running.  I shouted back “because we can!” and I heard her mumble “uh, okay…” but she was still out there waving, even if she didn’t get it.

The Finish

It was so great to come down that last straight to the finish!  I saw my husband and LR at the side and the crowd was cheering.  When I heard them announce my name as I approached the mat, I pushed as hard as I could and finished in great form.  Volunteers were waiting with a crabby medal, water, bananas, Power bars, and – best of all – buckets of ice cold wash clothes!  Oh, heaven!  I immediately plopped one on my neck and the other on my face and told the volunteer that I loved her!  We also received a nice finishers hat.  I almost missed that table because I was so preoccupied with the wash cloths 🙂  The finish festival was inside the convention center but we didn’t go to it.  The J&A finisher food is a bread bowl with soup.  When I signed up, that sounded awesome.  After that run, I could hardly stand the thought of eating something hot.  Plus, we had to motor back to the hotel for a little pool time before heading back to home.

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Done!

Overall

A+!  This was a well-organized, family friendly event.  I would be happy to run it again any time, but maybe next time they can dial the sun back a bit?

Quick Tip

If you are running with you kids, wear matching shirts in some obnoxious color.  LR and I both had on fluorescent orange shirts – we were going for a “crabby” color – and it was very easy for us to find each other in the crowds and for me to spot him in pictures that the organizers posted on Facebook

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Bright orange, in the front!