On Sunday, October 31st I ran the 35th Annual Marine Corps Marathon. The whole experience was one that I will never for get and I am really glad I did it. The two main things I will take away from this experience are: 1.) I have a wonderful family and friends and 2.) there is nothing like crossing a finish line after months of hard work.
I started training for this race in July. Throughout the course of my training I ran 425 miles. I mostly trained alone for this marathon, since between school and work I had a hard time keeping on schedule with the different training groups. I actually like training alone, every week the long runs were an opportunity to clear my head.
Now to the race.
I woke up a 4:30 am to get ready in time to meet my friend Stan at the metro at 5:30 pm. After a a banana, some stretching, and attaching my bib I headed out. Since this was the Saturday night before Halloween I actually saw several people coming in from the Halloween festivities the night before which was pretty amusing. I got on the metro around 5:45 and got to the race about 6:30 am.
I was pretty impressed by the set-up. Several port-a-potties, long lines for bathrooms is always an issues before races, so this was a plus! It was FREEZING. This was about the time I asked myself why on Sunday morning I was standing outside in the 40 degree weather waiting to run 26 miles instead of in my warm bed.
After a bunch of walking around, Stan and I parted ways to line up by estimated finish times. I lined up with the 4:15 pace group. The start gun went off right at 8 am, but it took me about 9 minutes to actually pass the start line.
Miles 1-3 Arlington
These miles are a bit of a blur to me. I think I was just actually in shock that I was actually doing running a marathon. The run down Spout Run was beautiful, very fallish. Had to make a bathroom stop here, took about 5 minutes (boo).
Mile 4-Key Bridge
On key bridge I saw my buddies Stephanie and Kim cheering me on. Big boost! They had awesome Glee inspired signs “You think running a Marathon is hard? I am passing a gallstone as we speak, that’s hard!”. Seeing friendly faces throughout the course really helped keep my spirits up and made the race memorable.
Mile 4-8- Georgetown Reservoir
This was the hilly part of the course. We ran up through Georgetown Reservoir and back down. My knee was absolutely killing me here, I actually wondered if I was going to be able to finish. By stayed on course and took a few walk breaks and pain pretty much went away until later in the race.
Mile 9-11- Georgetown & Rock Creek Pkwy
Back through M street, we my buddies Stephanie and Kim were waiting again. M street was awesome. Lots of people cheering, lots of cute kids in Halloween costumes. This was one of my favorite parts of the race. My knee pain was going and I was feeling great. I took my head phones off here and really didn’t use them again until mile 20 just so I could soak it all in. We left Georgetown and went up Rock Creek Parkway around the Lincoln memorial. Huge amounts of people, marching bands, the works. Very fun, so much going on I didn’t even realize that I was almost half-way done.
Mile 12-14 Haynes Point
This was Haynes Point. I have lived in DC for 5 years and never been here so it was interesting for me to see. A very quiet part of the course, hardly any observers. We were right by the water, so I just took in the scenery. This when we reached the halfway point! My half time was about 2:11.
Mile 15-20 The Mall
The Mall! This was definitely the highlight of the race for me because I got to see my husband and my friend Vero 3 times on different parts of the mall (mile 15, 17, 20). The Mall was packed and it was really fun. I included this part of the race in several of my training runs, so I felt pretty comfortable with it. I also saw the AICR team, I did the marathon to raise money for the research efforts, at mile 18. Katy, one of their representatives, ran with me for a little bit!
Mile 20-24 14th St Bridge & Crystal City
This was a rough part of the race. You leave the high of all the people cheering on the mall to enter the mile long, windy, 14th street bridge. Literally, everybody came to a halt, walking stretching, etc. I actually felt ok here so kept going. I was amazed I had not hit my wall yet, so just kept going since I knew I would soon. But, the bridge seemed like it would never end!
Mile 24-26 Crystal City & Pentago
Hello wall. I had a hard time here, the course was just a yo-yo through Crystal City (not exciting) and well, I had been running for 4 hours. At mile 24, I got a tap on my back. It was my good buddy Tyson from Austin, Texas! I had been looking for him and Katie the whole race and and finally given up. At mile 25 I was really running out of gas, but as I slowed to a walk an older gentleman, who looks like he runs alot of these, just said keep going you are almost there. So I ran! Then before I knew it, finish line. As they say for this marathon, before you finish, you have to run up that hill. So I ran up the steep incline to Iwo Jima to the finish line.
Official Finish time: 4:26:31
The finish line was crazy, I got my metal and just wanted to find my husband. Things were so crazy though it took me literally a half hour to navigate through the insane amount of people. But then I found him! I was so so happy to see him and get a congrats hug!Although my knee hurt like hell here, and I could barely walk.
As as I mentioned before, the best part about this whole thing was the support I got from my friends and family. Everybody was so generous. My family always an amazing support system and have been throughout my training. My friend Vero hosted a big pasta party on Saturday night (delicious) and then my wonderful husband Jerry had a surprise party after the race for me! My good buddy Jennifer brought me my faves, Georgetown Cupcakes & Cheese! The party was awesome and the perfect end to the day.
Special thanks to all those who donated to AICR on behalf of my marathon! They do great work and I am so glad I could run for a cause.
Will I run another? Not sure. I loved the experience, but true be told I think running marathons is bad for you. Not only your muscles and joints, but research has showed significant cardiac damage can occur from running such a long time.
Next races: Jingle Bell 10K in Dec, National 1/2 Marathon in March
Thanks again for all the encouragement!