Okay, I’ll just remove all suspense and say that I had the race for which I trained!
If you follow my Facebook page, you know that I made major progress in my pace this training cycle, especially the 20 milers. While I wasn’t 100% true to my plan, I definitely hit 95% of the runs and ALL of the key ones (unlike last time). I had high hopes of coming close to 5 hours this race and my secret goal was to break 5. For reference, MCM 2013 was 5:50:24.
Expo and Packet Pick Up
As usual, the actual packet pick up was a breeze. They moved it to the Convention Center this year but it still felt pretty cramped and crowded. After getting my awesome ruby red mock, I entered the Brooks race gear section and couldn’t deal. There were just a few shirts that I really liked and there were none in my size. I almost got a larger size until I realized that the line to check out was about an hour long! No thanks! (Luckily, one of my awesome running friends was going first thing in the AM and she snagged one, in the right size!, for me 🙂 )
I spent a bit too much money at the expo but I did make a conscious decision to have a shadow box made for me. My name and time will be engraved on it. I was debating if I should do it, just in case I had a crappy race, but I went ahead and got it. I’m now happy with that decision!
I tried to rest as much as possible but that didn’t really happen. I was running around a lot and didn’t even have time to make dinner so my husband and I went out while Little Runner went to a Halloween party. My husband picked him up at 9 and we got ready for bed. I had just gone upstairs when I realized I forgot to turn down the heat so I went back down and walked through the front room and looked out the window and said “What the hell?!” The yard was covered in signs! I thought some joker had put a bunch of political signs in the yard so I went out to look. And then spent five minutes crying!!
I later found out that one of my very dear friends, and her poor husband, decorated my yard for me! They must have moved fast because they weren’t up at 9 but were at 9:20. I’m so lucky to have friends like this! ❤ I felt like the football star who got his locker decorated!
I woke at 4 and prepared for the day. Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of 4 am runs so it didn’t seem too awfully painful. I had some coffee and an avocado and a banana and headed off to the Metro.
I was running with Team Fisher House so I went to Rosslyn and walked to the finish area where they had a huge tent on Charity Hill. It was nice having a tent, since it was raining, and no lines for the port-a-johns, short line for security, personal bag drop, and breakfast! I grabbed a mini bagel with peanut butter and another banana. We hung out there until about 7:12 and then the bulk of the runners made their way to the start.
I’m so thankful that I ran with Fisher House for a variety of reasons but, after hearing about the nightmare lines trying to get through the main security check-point, I was doubly happy! One of my MRTT buddies was planning to meet up with me so we could run together and she was stuck in the mess. Thankfully, I found her right before 8 am! We passed under the arch around 8:10 and settled in for the day.
It was raining intermittently for the first hour or so and that was okay. It kept the temperatures down for a bit. As it was, I removed my gloves and arm warmers well before mile 2. We were running intervals of 3 minutes run/30 seconds walk – at least when the crowds weren’t too incredibly heavy to do it safely. That put us pretty much in the middle of the pack. Last time I ran this race, I was squarely in the back so I was a bit shocked, and a little overwhelmed, by the number of runners and the crowds of spectators! My co-runner and I did our best to stick to our plan and I think we did a good job. We did have one pit stop on the way back down Rock Creek Parkway and we had to skip a few intervals due to the crowds but our splits were pretty consistent.
We were very lucky in that we had a ton of MRTT support on the course! From random chapters that cheered because we were wearing our MRTT visors to seeing some dear friends who were holding flags at the Blue Mile (thank you for the sweaty hugs!! <3) to the craziness to come later, it was fantastic to feel so much love and support!!
I surprised my husband and LR right before the Watergate.
The crowds were heavy and we just had time for a quick round of hugs before we were off again. The second stop at mile 15 didn’t happen due to the crowds and that bummed me out quite a bit. I was really worried we wouldn’t see them again before the 14th St Bridge right at mile 20. My pace was definitely off in those five miles as I kept looking on both sides for them.
We were coming up on Mile 20 and I was really getting worried. I knew the drum troupe was coming up and my husband isn’t a huge fan of really loud noises like that so I was positive that they wouldn’t be there. I had just taken my phone out of my pack and looked up and … there they were!!!!
Next up, The Bridge! The Bridge turned out to be a non-event for me! I have been working very hard on my internal dialogue and visualizing it as just another road and it really worked! I just kept my head down and stayed calmed and put one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t nearly as demoralizing as it has been in the past. Now, the section after we came off the bridge and before we turned into Crystal City was a bit of a bitch but, what can you do? Luckily, we knew we had all sorts of MRTT craziness waiting for us!
There were a few other groups of supporters along the course and they certainly helped to give me a great boost for the end! Around mile 24, my friend started to flag. She knew I was trying to get a sub-5 so she encouraged me to go ahead. I felt horrible but went ahead after she promised me she was okay. I was really gunning for that time so I skipped my intervals until it was clear that it was impossible for me to get that time. It was also the time when the sun decided to appear and the heat was on the rise. I kept a good pace until I found my family for the last time and then took a few minutes with them.
I powered through the end of the race as fast as I could go. I like to think I charged the hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial but it was likely a determined power walk at that point 😉 And, just like that, I was done!
I think that one thing that really helped was my consistent fueling strategy. I cannot do math of any kind during a long run so I wrote on my right arm the miles that I was to take fuel and I did it! Every four miles I had a packet of something. I had one peanut butter and chocolate chip Bonk Breaker cut into quarters (took two at a time), one packet of Clif Banana Mango food pouch, a baggie with pretzels and raisins, and right before the bridge, a salted caramel Gu. I also drank electrolyte water and took two Hammer Endurotabs before the last 10K.
Like I said, I think I ran the race that I trained for! Just about everything went as planned and I reached my goal. My knee was twingy around mile 8 and I was a bit worried but then it settled down to a low crank and didn’t really give me too much grief.
This all feels a little anti-climatic! There was no big cry fest, no “will overcoming the desire to quit”, no miles of banishing mental demons. Just a few hours of hard work and the joy of reaching my goals!
Sorry for the lack of profanity or overly wrought emotions. I’ll try better next time 😉