Race Review: Marine Corps Marathon 2016

AKA, “The Accidental Marathon”

So, this all started in March.  We were training for the Blue Ridge Marathon and needed to run 12 miles the same day that the Marine Corps 17.75K race was to take place.  My training buddy and I decided to try to register for it but didn’t have high hopes since this is a “golden ticket” race and all finishers have guaranteed access to the Marine Corps Marathon.  Well, wouldn’t you know it… we got in!

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Our third buddy, who we hijacked, was like “wait, what??”

But, I didn’t really think I would run this since I assumed I could easily give away my access code.  And I tried.  I really did.  Three times!  No one wanted it.  So… I hired a coach and got to training!

Fast forward 18 weeks, and one injury, and M and I found ourselves running to National Harbor to pick up our race packets.

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The run over was a lot of fun!

Honestly, I’m not a fan of the new expo location.  The Gaylord is a lovely hotel but traffic was nutty, Uber couldn’t pick us up when we were done because they couldn’t get to the designated Uber-lot due to police routing them elsewhere, and the layout of the expo was not good.  The lines to get your bibs ran perpendicular to the main entrance so you had to wade through the lines to get from one end of the hall to the other.  No one knew where the Kids’ Run bib pick up was (because neither they, nor I, read the email saying it would be at the race start) so I had to wade through several times.  Not awesome.

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The Dick’s booth told us to act like we just won the marathon!

The Brooks area was supper chaotic (as usual) so I didn’t buy anything there and it didn’t feel like there were as many vendors there this year.  I did like the shirt, though.

On Saturday, Little Runner ran the kids’ mile and we had a good time, as usual.  If you decide to do this with your kids, I highly recommend the early waves.  It’s gets pretty busy and they completely sold out the race this year!

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Race morning found us all a little tense.  M’s mom graciously drove us and a few others to Rosslyn so we didn’t have to worry about shuttle buses, etc. due to Metro’s unwillingness to open early. We hung out for a bit in the Fisher House team tent (my second year with them and I still can’t recommend them enough!) before making our way to the start.

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Food, private bag drop, chairs, coffee.  What more could a runner want?
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A beautiful view

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The race itself was extremely difficult for me. It was “comfortable” at the start, and that is never a good sign for me.  I knew I was in for a long day when, around mile two when we were slogging up the Lee Highway hill, I yelled at a spectator who was shouting that we were “almost there”.  Sorry, dude.  (but I still think you were being an asshole).

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Family stop #1.  LR is excellent at spotting me!  Still feeling good here.

I was staying close to my B goal pace until I hit mile 12.  This was along the “Blue Mile” where Wear Blue lines up with flags and pictures of fallen service men and women.  It’s an emotional mile. And the sun came out.  And my pace went right in the toilet.  I hit an  MRTT stop on the back side of Haines Point and literally just broke into tears when I saw my friends.  I was so thankful for their ice bottle and cold cloth!

At that point, I was seriously considering just dropping out.  My back had started to cramp and I was beginning to have stomach problems.  I knew my family was waiting for me before the bridge, though, and I didn’t know how I would tell my son that I was quitting.  So I kept going.  I rallied a bit along the Mall — until I had to make another unexpected bathroom stop.  I knew my family was coming up soon so I just kept moving until I found them.  I spent a few minutes with them and then tried to push on to the 14th St Bridge.

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My husband was amusing himself while waiting for me.  Anyone recognize this scene?
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The wheels were totally off the bus and had rolled away by this point.

I saw two of my MRTT friends right before the bridge and  I couldn’t even talk, I just cried and kept running somewhat jogging.  Halfway across the bridge,  I just gave up on life for a while and walked.  I walked around the Pentagon parking lot(s) — I was so out of it that I thought that I had somehow gotten off course and was stuck in an infinite loop!  It was horrible! — and in to Crystal City.

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I survived the parking lots of doom!

I knew I’d see more of our MRTT mommas soon so I tried to keep moving.  Thankfully, I found them and their icy goodness!  I took handfuls of ice and shoved it in my shirt and I wrapped some up in one of my towels and ate it a bit at a time as I kept walking.  I also took some Ibuprofen. That loosened me up enough so I could pick up into a jog again. I was now working on my second slowest marathon time but I tried to keep as even a pace as I could.   We were all in a death march down 110, past the Pentagon.  We were running as close to the wall as we could get, trying to find shade, and people were collapsing under the overpasses.  Seriously, I saw a ton of runners go down after mile 18.  It was scary!

I saw my family again at mile 26.  Have I mentioned before how much I love them??

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Still moving forward. Barely.
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These guys were also there again but I didn’t see them until we were walking back to the Arlington Metro.  You’re welcome.

And then, the finish!  One of the Fisher House girls came out to run me up the last hill and I told her how much of a shit show that day had been.  She said yes, but you finished it!  And, by god, I did.  So, I ran up that hill as fast as my tired and broken body would let me and I finished knowing that I did the best that I could that day.

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DONE!
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I couldn’t do it without these guys!

If you’re still with me, you might be wondering what the heck happened.  I really don’t know.  A big, huge, massive part was weather. I do not do well in heat or direct sun.  I’ve been training in it all summer but, mentally, I was not prepared for this.  I also did not adjust my pace/goals for the weather.  I should have switched to intervals when I started to struggle. That would have eliminated the miles of walking.  Also, next time, Imodium — enough said.

So, that’s Marathon #5. Overall, I’d give the race a low B.  I did not like the changes that they made this year and I’m in no hurry to do it (MCM) again any time soon.  I’m not done with the distance, though. I still have Richmond in two weeks (oy!)

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