November 1, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

I don't think it's possible to write an accurate recap for this race because there are so many points that got me across the Finish Line with a shiny new PR early Sunday afternoon that I couldn't possibly put into words.

I was nervous about this race. More nervous than I was when I ran my first marathon in Philly last year. I could not have asked for a better first marathon and I was nervous about anything going wrong in DC and how I would handle it since Philly was so flawless.

This race definitely wasn't perfect  but I'm  so unbelievably thrilled with how I did in this race, it's bringing tears to my eyes just writing about.

This was Mile 18 1/2, I took it on my run Friday night. I LOVE running in DC.
I fought so damn hard to PR this race that when I crossed the Finish Line, I collapsed. But before we get to that whole bit of me crossing the Finish Line, we need to talk about the 26.2 miles that got me there, don't we?
I'll skip the details of everything that happened over the weekend leading up to the the race but just know that it involved a lot of Expo, a not-so-spontaneous registration for an international marathon with this girl, a zombified Dora the Explorer, snow, and The Pilot commandeering (well, not really) an Amtrak train to get to DC about 30 minutes before I went to sleep on Saturday night after all flights out of Newark Airport were cancelled.

My bib and commemorative patch
Sunday morning,  Mom  and The Pilot woke up to me bouncing off the walls with energy screaming "It's marathon day! I'm running a marathon today!" I got dressed, ate some breakfast, triple checked to make sure I had everything and headed out the door.

We decided to take the Metro which was nice and easy although the line from the Pentagon station to the actual starting line was at least a mile long...and we were freezing. I got to the Start about 5 minutes before the gun went off which was perfect. I lined up in the 3:45-4:00 corral and we were off.

The second I crossed that starting line, tears just shot through me. From the Marines lining up along the side of the start to the loud cheering from the spectators, it was everything in me to not well up. "Here we go," I thought, "Marathon #2, it's time to kill this!"

The first 14 miles absolutely flew by. I felt fantastic. I was hitting all of the targets on pace for a sub 3:55 and I felt fantastic. I was having fun enjoying the spectators, I was killing it up the hills, I was striking up conversations with people left and right, I felt great! It was truly humbling to be running alongside Marines, especially those that had "Running for ______ K.I.A." or the one guy I saw running with a prosthetic leg, or the woman I saw wearing a USMC shirt powering up the hills in a wheel chair. Running with the Marines made me one proud marathoner.

It took me a while to get warmed up in the first mile but after that I started getting warm and quickly started shedding my layers. We hit the first hill right at about the quarter mile mark and it was a steady climb to Mile 2 and then a pretty steady descent to Mile 4. Miles 4-6.5 were pretty flat and then 7-8 were a pretty steep hill with a pretty steep descent through Miles 9-10. The rest of the course was flat as a pancake until Mile 26.

I took a Gu around Mile 5 and around Mile 10, wanted another one but was worried how my stomach would handle it since I've been having so many issues with my stomach so I held off until around Mile 11. It started bothering my stomach but not too badly so I kept on pushing. At this point in the race, I was absolutely thrilled with my consistency as you can see from my splits below. Miles 5 - 13 were extremely consistent (save for the hill at Mile 7). I was running a smart race and I knew it. I just had to hold on to this through the whole thing and I'd be set. And at that point, I knew I could do it. I came in the Half at 1:56:41 and was ecstatic. Now, it was time to maintain the pace and push through the last 10k to come in with a negative split and a huge PR.

Splits (Miles 1-20)
Mile 1 - 9:10          Mile 6 - 8:41         Mile 11 - 8:38          Mile 16 - 9:00      
Mile 2 - 9:17          Mile 7 - 9:17         Mile 12 - 8:45          Mile 17 - 9:06        
Mile 3 - 8:53          Mile 8 - 8:45         Mile 13 - 8:51          Mile 18 - 10:05      
Mile 4 - 8:21          Mile 9 - 8:42         Mile 14 - 8:56          Mile 19 - 9:00        
Mile 5 - 8:48          Mile 10 - 8:42       Mile 15 - 9:00          Mile 20 - 9:54

That obviously didn't happen. Around Mile 15, my stomach was in knots. I haven't eaten dairy in 12 days, wtf is wrong with you? was about all I could keep thinking. At Mile 17, I grabbed some Gatorade from the Marines and kept going. We were on the National Mall at this point and I loved running through the Mall. I especially loved all of the "That's what she said signs." Whatever works, right? I started cramping up a bit at this point so I stopped to stretch out my quads and hamstrings and jumped right back into the race. I felt fine and eased back into a 9 minute mile but my stomach was just starting to hurt and I needed a bathroom and couldn't see one anywhere.

Then we hit that damn 14th Street Bridge and I realized that "Beating the Bridge" was about a lot more than time. That bridge was the death of me. It was endless. 2 miles long with no spectators and nothing but water around you, I started getting nauseous, my stomach was a mess and I started to just break down. But I was still well on pace for about a 3:55 marathon so I just needed to hold it together. When we finally crossed the bridge, I looked to my left and saw the massive Out and Back that would take us through Crystal City...and then I looked to my right and saw what looked like another massive out and back loop that would take us back to Iwo Jima and I started to fall apart. Everything hurt. My stomach was a mess. I hadn't seen my mom or boyfriend along the course and I was just hurting. I wanted a hug, I wanted to cry, I wanted someone to run with me. I knew that Katie, Lauren and Morgan would be up ahead around Mile 22  so I pushed it to get to them.

Splits (Last 10k)
Mile 21 - 9:07
Mile 22 - 9:27
Mile 23 - 9:15
Mile 24 - 10:24
Mile 25 - 10:05
Mile 26 - 10:16

They saw me before I saw them. I heard Katie scream out "There she is" and I grabbed her and heard Morgan say, "Go! She wants you to run with her." Oops, sorry for throwing that on you Katie! She jumped in with me as I made my way back around and gave me the best damn pep talk I ever heard. I didn't say a word other than, "It hurts, I'm  having a rough time." She told me how smart of a race I was running and how close I was to crushing my PR. She jumped out shortly after and I kept ahead. Around Mile 24, I just lost it. I had to start walking. My knee was hurting, my stomach was in knots and I felt like 2.2 miles at this point could have been 26.2. As I was power walking, I saw a Marine woman up ahead and she just looked at me and said, "Come on, you've got this." And I started running. When I we came up on Mile 26, I started sprinting my little heart out.

Katie made me smile and wave for Morgan's camera and pretend I didn't feel like dying
Except that it wasn't Mile 26. My Garmin had measured true to the course the entire way and every recap I've read has said that this course measured long so when my Garmin said Mile 26 and I didn't see the Mile Marker, I just started sprinting looking for that infamous hill up to Iwo Jima. Then I hit the wall.

By wall, I don't mean the proverbial marathon wall. I mean the wall that was the hill up to the Finish Line. I started running up that hill and just lost it. I got so damn dizzy and nauseous, I completely blacked out, ran into a guy in front of me and had to start walking so I could get my sight back. Everyone around me was literally bent over at a 90 degree angle just trying to climb that hill...and I still couldn't see the damn Finish Line. When I came to, I started running again, I was so dizzy and I could see the Finish Line but I honestly didn't think I was going to make it across. The guy next to me completely collapsed into the barricades. Another person went down. People were dropping like flies, and here we were, 1/10 of the mile from the Finish Line. I wish I could say I hauled ass across that Finish Line but realistically, I shuffled across it and collapsed.

4:03:10. A 5 1/2 minute marathon PR.

I passed out for what was probably only about 10 seconds and when I came to, there was a Marine asking me if I was ok and needed a medic. I told him  I just needed to walk it off and he helped me to my feet and I started walking. I was so dizzy and I felt like I had swallowed a brick. I grabbed some Powerade and swallowed it down, grabbed my space blanket and a bagel and laid down in the grass for about 10 minutes. Then I got up and walked over to grab my medal. The Marine who put it around me said, "Congratulations, I could never do what you just did." I just smiled and thanked him for his service to our country.

By far the BEST medal I have ever received at a race.

My one regret about this race is not taking a picture in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial when I finished. But my only thought when I crossed that Finish Line was finding a bathroom.. Talk about the edge of glory, right? My thoughts should have been reveling in my new PR, finding my friends and family and loving that fact that I had finished my 2nd marathon but in all honesty, I was so unbelievably sick on my stomach for the next 24 hours that I didn't even have time to start thinking about those things until last night.

I could barely stand up straight...good thing I had a handsome Pilot there to hold on to.
 I ran an awesome marathon. I can't complain about a single thing. I may not have hit my A goal and I may not have come in sub-4 but I had an awesome PR and I fought so many things that could have brought me to a grinding halt at this race. I'm proud to say that I'm a two-time marathoner. I'm  proud to say that I ran a 4:03 marathon and I'm  proud to say that I ran with the United States Marine Corps because that was truly humbling.

To all of you who were following me throughout the race and sending me texts and tweets, thanks a million. You all rock my socks.

Marathon the books!


  1. Congratulations! You did an awesome job.

  2. congrats! you ran a fantastic, smart race. so happy for you!!!

  3. Girl, I think you KILLED it! I am so happy for you! Enjoy this next week and celebrate! You deserve it!!!!!!

  4. Great job! I love the medal. Really great time. I want to do this one. Looks really fun! Those last three miles are my time killers too. I've got to get over that somehow! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Congrats! That's amazing! Sounds like such a great marathon to run!! Glad you made it through those little rough patches!!!!!

  6. Congrats! That is a great achievement! Esp. running with the Marines! My best friend is a Marine and it is truly an honor to be around so many people that put their lives on the line for us :) Again, Congrats on finishing and PR-ing

  7. congrats you are amazing!!! i am so happy for you!!!

  8. Sitting here crying! SOOO proud of you! Congratulations!!!

  9. Yes, that bridge was turrble. But CONGRATULATIONS on running a GREAT race and nailing down a new PR! Way to go girl!!!

  10. HUGE congratulations to you! You did an awesome job and definitely left it all out there on the course. I hope you're still basking in your marathon glory.

  11. Congrats! Scary stuff about the passing out and such; glad you are okay and finished strong!

  12. wow, i knew you had rocked it, BUT you rocked it even with feeling the way you did! congrats, it sounds like the race was truly amazing.

  13. Congrats on the great race!! A 5+ minute PR is AWESOME :) I totally agree with you that the ending of MCM is a total killer with that hill in the last .2 miles!!

  14. CONGRATS on finishing your second marathon - not many people can say that - AND you PRed! You are my hero :)


  15. Congratulations!!! Amazing job on the race! I loved reading your recap as I had a lot of similar feelings throughout the race. The 14th St Bridge and the hill up to the finish? Awful. Nothing could've prepared me for how tough that finishing stretch was. But you made it! Way to keep pushing through and staying tough, even when things got really rough near the end. I hope you are celebrating your PR this week!

  16. Great job!!! You did it! I'm confused - where did the dairy come in?

  17. WOW. Congrats on your PR and finishing your 2nd marathon! I loved reading your recap.

    Way to push through and stay tough through the finish!

  18. So proud of you girl and was so happy we spotted you in the crowd! You did great and I gasped out loud when you said you blacked out mid run to the finish! Yikes!!! Congrats again and big hugs to you!!!

  19. You are too cute!! So freaking proud of you! Also, SPAIN! SPAIN! SPAIN! Here we come!

  20. Love your recap! What an accomplishment! You are so inspiring!

  21. Congratulations!!!! You did awesome!!! So proud of you for not giving up an finishing. LOVE this year's medal!!!

  22. Congrats lady!!! wow! wow, i don't know how you pushed through all that. way to rock it. i hope you are feeling better. that hill was a bitch and lets not even talk about those out and backs...way to dig deep!

  23. Congratulations!! What an accomplishment-- especially pushing through the end like that. Good for you, girl!! :)

  24. You are literally insane!!! Amazing job twin!!!

  25. I'm so proud of you - I wished I could have run with you some more!!! Congratulations on your PR!

  26. Congrats on a great race and a new PR!!

  27. Sorry we didn't get to meet up, but glad Sunday turned out to be such a great day for a race! I had such a fun time cheering everyone on. Great job!


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