Sunday, November 1, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, Part 2

To read up on the expo and my activities leading up to race day, please read Part 1 of this post here.


I didn't sleep very well the night before the race, but I was expecting that. I woke up at 2:30 AM (meaning I got about 4 hours of sleep). I guess my brain thought I was supposed to get up "Disney early". Since I was meeting my ROTE friends at their hotel, I didn't actually have to get going as early as I would have if I had to go through the Pentagon entrance. So I lay in bed for about another hour or so, then I heard my aunt up and decided to go ahead and get up. I did my rolling and some gentle yoga and then made my oatmeal and ate it while talking with my aunt. It was raining (as it had been most of the night) and that was disappointing. But it wasn't cold. I can handle rain or cold, but prefer not to have both.

I finished breakfast, got dressed, finished packing up my stuff, and posed for a pre-race picture!

Not too bad for 4:15 AM!
The plan was for my aunt to drop me off at the train station, where I would ride down to the Rosslyn station and walk to the hotel. I arrived just as the earlier train was leaving and didn't feel the need to rush to it so I picked a spot on the bench and waited for the next train. Of course, I had to take a selfie!

Not too bad for 4:35 AM!
I tried to start up conversations with those around me but I didn't get very far. I wonder if everyone was too tired because there were lots of grumpy reactions around! The rain had pretty much stopped, though, and that was good. And I wasn't freezing, and that was good! The train came on time, though they were announcing that other lines were having trouble due to a deer that was hit on the tracks. :( I was able to get a seat and sat the entire ride to Rosslyn. I got off and headed to Jill's hotel, thankful that my aunt had insisted we take the time to walk the route during the day because it was different in the dark and I would have had more trouble!

I arrived at the hotel room and thankfully I checked the room number on my text because I had the wrong room number in my head - wouldn't have been nice to wake up the wrong people! I hit the bathroom and dropped off my bag in the room. We checked weather one last time and saw nothing on the radar so I left my poncho. I would regret that decision later.

Met up with the crew in the lobby and walked towards the start line. We got to the entrance for the military base (and I knew this from my aunt's tour the day before) and we stopped. Huge crowds and nobody was moving.  This was different according to my friends who run MCM year in and year out. But we weren't moving. And the rain was starting to really come down. And it was dark. My nerves were a bit on edge and I'm glad I had friends around me!

The line was caused by security checking bags and having to walk through the metal detectors - and there were only 4 or 5. But apparently we had it good compared to folks coming through the Pentagon side who were in line for an hour or more. Lots of racers missed the start completely. We made it through, hit the potties, and then went to the start line. And before I knew what was happening, it was time to start.

The start as seen by my aunt and uncle on the hill!
Jill and I were planning to run together and I had us doing a 4/1 interval. I had all these plans of enjoying the race and making all these memories and remembering every single detail, but my mind had other plans. Almost immediately, my brain started playing horrible games with me. And it did not let up until the very, very end. I'm not sure what happened because I hadn't had any of those problems during training, not even when I ran 20 miles in the pouring rain! But it got ugly. I did a very good job talking back to myself, in my mind... but it was exhausting me emotionally. Looking back, I should have prayed more and I think that would have brought peace to my mind, but in the moment and the surprise at having such an issue, I didn't do it. I was probably really quiet in places and I think I even said something to Jill about it at one point but I was so busy talking to myself that I didn't have time to talk out loud! LOL

As a result of all of the mind games, the details of the race are a bit fuzzy. It's a shame, but it is what it is. The course was fantastic and Jill is wonderful to run with! I had told her - and everyone that would listen - that I wanted to come in under 5 hours for my finish time. I'm not exactly why I chose 5 hours, but I did. I knew that it wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't come in under 5 hours but I was hopeful! Jill stuck with me all through the race and really pushed me towards the end. She wasn't ugly about it at all, but she said that we were close to making my time goal! So for many of the end miles, I just settled in behind her and focused on her feet and her turnover. It really helped!

I felt pretty good through the majority of the race! My right ITB started to make noise around the 16th mile but it wasn't horrible. However, after the bridge while we were running through Crystal City, my left knee started to feel like it was giving out. I tried to keep up with Jill but lost her when the course turned around. I had to walk because it hurt so badly. But once I started to walk, it felt fine! So we switched from our regular intervals and I would run until it started to twinge and then we would walk! I was thinking of the next race I had coming up in two weeks and the reminder from Jeff Galloway that I needed to keep under the threshold of irritation. During the run intervals I would focus on keeping good form, and the walking felt very good. Once we hit that mile 24 marker, I knew that we would make it and that I would finish running! I can't even begin to describe that feeling! There is no way on earth I would have been able to do that without Jill's support and encouragement!

I will always remember as we started to run up the hill to the finish, she called out, "Remember, this hill isn't any worse that what we run at home!" and she was right! I pushed out the last bit of energy I had and watched my Garmin tick away the seconds to the finish to make sure that I came in under 5 hours! And I did - with 35 seconds to spare!! Incredible!!

Happy Runner Girl!

Finisher!! I did it!!

Official time was 4:59:25! So excited! 

Jill is a Titanium Marathon Maniac and my personal marathon angel! :)
There was another line to get the food boxes and these neat jackets that took the place of the warming blankets! We didn't need the jackets but I took it to use at a future race! Then we waited to get out of the finish line area. Lots of standing and barely walking. Not good for the legs, I'm sure!

Hugs from my aunt!
We were able to connect with my aunt and uncle, who had been along the course spectating in various areas - despite the rain! I was so happy to get a hug from her! I can't believe I was able to see them in all the crowd. My uncle is nice and tall and was wearing a bright yellow jacket! It was perfect!

The Metro ride home was crazy - saw someone being carried out of the crowds at the Roslyn station by medics! We ended up getting on the first train that was going in the right direction and getting off at a station closer to home to switch to the correct line, just to get out of the scary crowds! It was worth it for sure! We actually ended up making it home in good time. And I was physically feeling good but was completely emotionally drained. My original plan had been to stay in the finish line area and cheer my other friends across the finish line, and have my aunt pick me up at the metro station later, but I was so emotionally spent that I just needed to get back to their house and decompress.

As the night went on and we went out for dinner, my knees were definitely hurting a lot worse. But then I came home and took an epsom salts and felt much better, and the next morning I felt surprisingly very good! My aunt had to work on Monday so we went in late and she took me around to see the 9-11 memorial at the Pentagon and then I got on the metro and went sight seeing! I ended up doing a lot more walking than I had intended to do but I felt fine throughout. I was a bit nervous about sitting in the plane for 2 hours, but I stood up after my flight and felt really good!

It's now a week since the race and it has been a very busy week for me and my family. I have 6 more days until my Marathon Maniac Qualifier! I have had 2 runs in this last week, a 3 miler and a 6 miler. The 3 miler was first and was horrific! It was as if I had never run before! Yesterday the 6 miler felt MUCH better, but then my left knee hurt afterwards. I think despite doing a 2/1 intervals, I was doing the actual running too fast because it felt better. I have to remember that I am still in recovery mode and any runs that I am doing need to be very easy! It's not like I'm trying to maintain fitness!  I stretched and rolled frequently yesterday, and this morning I woke up feeling just fine. I will do epsom salts bath again tonight (didn't have time to yesterday with the whole Halloween thing) and I'm sure that will help.

My only goals for Saturday's race are to get to the finish line. I have NO time goal and I do not mind going slowly and walking a lot! I guess if I had ANY goal, it will be to see if I can actually run a marathon and finish feeling good. I was able to do that the Disney marathon but that was mostly walking. I would like to discover if I have a "sweet spot" pace that will allow me to run the marathon and not feel pain at any point!

Sorry it took so long to get this posted - and I apologize for the lack of details! Oh! I remember something: I was quite disappointed in Rock Creek Park! I had been wanting to run there because it's on NCIS and it was not very exciting. LOL But now when Gibbs says, "Dead Marine found in Rock Creek Park" I can say, "I ran there!" :)

Anyway, sorry for the delays! Hopefully I'll have more details next week after the Soldier Marathon where I qualify - FINALLY - for the Marathon Maniacs! :D

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