This year was my 3rd running of the Marine Corps Marathon. This year was made extra special as I connected to a fantastic organization to honor Marines who lost their battle with PTSD once they returned home. I signed on and was matched with a Marine that I would run for.
We started the weekend with the expo on Friday night. I kept my MCM metro card from last year and used it to get down to the expo. I thought it was very fitting!
The expo this year was at the convention center downtown which made it much more convenient than going to the Armory as in year's past. I have heard next year the expo will not be at the convention center, but will move to National Harbor. We got to the convention center and made our way to our first stop, picking up my daughter's packet for the kid's race to be run on Saturday morning. She was so excited! Then we picked up our packets for the marathon. We had to take a group picture as all three of us had bib numbers!
The Expo is large! So many booths to visit, free samples, and official gear to buy! You can definitely spend a good while there.
We headed home at closing on the expo on Friday night. Saturday we were off to the kids race (a separate blog post and review on the kids race here), errands, picking up my in-laws at the airport and marathon prep. The night before, I had a very difficult time picking out my race outfit! I knew that the orange was more unique and easily visible in a crowd, but the maroon and black won out after I was reminded that this 40th running of MCM was the ruby anniversary and the shorts were perfect fit for the occasion!
We woke up early, hopped on the metro from our house and rode in with a lot of other runners and we all chatted on the ride about the course and our goals. Jim and I are both members of Montgomery County Road Runners and they had arranged for a hospitality suite before the race as a place for bathrooms and to leave our gear and then walk to the start line. We dropped off our things and then left earlier than the rest of the group to walk over. I am glad we did because we encountered quite a security line! From everything I have heard/read of others accounts a lot of people were late to the start line!
|Running in Honor of Fallen Heroes. 22 Too Many Veteran Suicides Per Day.|
It was lightly raining as we walked to the start. Humid and warmer than I would have liked. I was not cold at the start except for my hands. Luckily someone tossed their gloves in the corral and I ran over to grab them! I wore them for the first two miles. Score. I had my strongest training cycle to date but didn't want to get ahead of myself goal wise. I just told myself all I wanted to do was go sub-4:00. I started out slow as was my plan since the first 4 miles of the course are pretty hilly. I also wanted to start slow to conserve my energy for later. My early miles were in the 9:30s much slower then goal pace, but for some reason these early miles felt really hard. I started to doubt how I was going to make it all 26. I had a feeling this wasn't my day. At mile 6 I got a painful side cramp. I never get side cramps and honestly can't remember the last time I had one. I tried deep breathing, running with one arm in the air, etc. It finally went away around mile 8. Around that time, my stomach began to feel very acidic. I keep feeling like I had to burp but each time I would, stomach acid would come into my throat. It was very unpleasant. Each time I felt I had to burp I tried to suppress the feeling...that was hard to do. I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. I stopped at the Medical tent at the end of Haines Point to ask if they had Tums. They said all the had was saltine crackers. Looking back now, I should have accepted those.
|Not feeling good, but faking it for the cameras. I couldn't even fake it later on.|
I met up with my running buddy, Abbie around mile 19 to give me the support to get over the 14th street bridge. For some reason that bridge just gets me. It killed me in last year's MCM and I had to walk part of it. It got me during the Army 10 miler and in my splits you can see that is where I was off pace. I just don't like that bridge! I told Abbie about my stomach issues and she so graciously offered to run to a CVS and get me some pepto or Tums...something to quiet my stomach. I figured we would never find each other again if she left. The thought of more sugar in the form of Gatorade or Gu or Cliff Shots made my stomach want to turn. I had a similar issue during my very first marathon and my stomach pain brought me to tears during that race. Once we got to Crystal City, the stomach pain was pretty overwhelming and I had to stop twice to walk. I needed something, anything to balance out all the acid I was feeling. A spectator had a giant tray of goldfish crackers and I grabbed a handful. I was trying to eat them while I was running and it was so difficult since my mouth was dry and they stuck to the roof of my mouth! It did help the stomach a little bit! I kept checking my watch and even with the slower pace then planned, I was calculating that I would be very close to 4:00. What I didn't plan on was running long. I didn't realize how far off I was from bring accurate to the mile markers and that in turn made my own calculations be pretty far off. My watch beeped for Mile 26 but the finish line was no where in sight! I finally came upon the final 90 degree turn and up the final steep hill to the finish. My watch finished at 26.7 miles. That extra half mile adds almost 5 minutes unfortunately. I know that it is impossible to run the tangents in a race this large, but I need to get better at attempting it. It can make a big time difference. I ended up crossing the line with a 4:10 finish. It was a 3 min PR over last year, but the training I put in this cycle should have carried me to a much stronger finish so I still felt very disappointed.
I walked through the very long finisher's chute and saw my husband and our friend Jamie Corey. We all shared our race stories and I learned my husband was over ten minutes off his sub-3:00 goal too! He threw up on the 14th street bridge (see I told you that bridge was EVIL!). He considered a DNF, but since we were both running in honor of fallen Marines and sending our medals to the families', he knew he had to press on to get his. For some reason, for both of us- it just wasn't our day. Better luck next time.....
The marathon distance is such a fickle beast. It's tough on the body for sure and I feel like things have to fit together just right sometimes. The weather wasn't ideal and obviously something within my own body wasn't ideal either.
|Wasn't the race I imagined, but every finish line is a victory!|