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Marathonpalooza Part 1: Marine Corps Marathon 2014

Hi, everyone. It’s only been about 4 months since I posted last…oops. Anyway, that four months consisted of lots of long runs and not quite hitting my weekday mileage like I needed to, and oh, a half marathon, a ten-miler, and two marathons.

Marine Corps Marathon did not go nearly as well for me this year as it did last year. We stayed at the Fisher House team hotel, Key Bridge Marriott, and they placed us right next to an elevator. I am a light sleeper, and that elevator was LOUD. Those two things meant that I got almost no sleep whatsoever. Okay, fine – that alone wouldn’t kill my race, even if it made me crabby. When I woke up, though, my mind was just not into it. Before leaving Brian, I started crying and said, “I just don’t want to do this. I should be home with Caroline on her birthday.”

Eventually I tried to shake it off and headed to the team hotel with the Fisher House group. I met up with my running buddy, Danny, and some of my Fisher House teammates there and headed to the start. I was secretly hoping to hit 4:15 but the main goal was to finish in good enough shape to take on New York City the next weekend. I started the race feeling pretty achy and crampy & not knowing why. Unlike last year when miles 1-21 seemed easy and fun, these miles seemed really hard. I was not enjoying it, and despite starting in a faster corral, we were still maintaining the same pace we maintained last year through the first 5k (which is pretty much dictated by the crowd of runners around you). That was really frustrating to me.

At the halfway mark, I kept telling Danny to go ahead because every part of me was aching and sore already, and I had no clue why. I was really needing a Brian sighting SOON. Eventually we separated, and I struggled through the next 2-3 miles until I saw Brian. I begged him to take me home because I just didn’t want to be there, but he sent me on my way and told me I would really regret not finishing. Okay, fine, I headed off again towards the National Mall. The first 20K was actually okay, but the rest of it was a struggle pace-wise. I made sure to up my fuel intake and that seemed to help a little bit because the next time I saw him, I was a little more peppy. AND I had a Bart Yasso sighting! Woohoo! My first (and hopefully not last!) one! I trudged through the mall with the sole goal of making it to the Bridge on time. I knew that once I made it there, I could technically walk the rest of the way and still finish, and I found that comforting, even though I didn’t walk the rest of the way!

Long story short, the bridge sucked, as it always does. It was hot and hard and I just wanted a water stop! Two Fisher House teammates caught up with me and helped keep me sane, at least, until I decided to head off on my own once we got into Rosslyn. Rosslyn was good for making other runner friends, because we were all suffering by that point. I even ran into an amazing Fisher House volunteer who saw me and told me I looked great, but I looked at her and said, “I think I might cry.” She was awesome and said, “well, then you cry! Look how far you came, you can do whatever you want!” She walked with me for a block or two until I felt ready to run again…such a wonderful person!

The rest of Rosslyn was sort of a blur (except the donuts), and I remember heading into the Pentagon the same way we did it for Army 10-miler. The tunnel heading out of the Pentagon and up towards the finish was just a wind tunnel. It was crazy! I saw Brian one more time before hitting the finish, and I had the pleasure of the Fisher House hill runner coming down to meet me at the base of the Iwo Jima hill to run with me up towards the finish. I promise I was running up it even if I was alone! 🙂

I was so upset by this entire MCM performance. I was feeling so off and in pain and I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I knew I didn’t want to push too much because I wanted to stay in one piece for NYCM. My head was not in it, my body was not in it, and I was just over it before it even started. The weather was HOT (70 degrees at the finish), sunny, and windy – the perfect storm for dehydration. Apparently, this was the slowest-run MCM in 10 years, and the weather definitely had something to do with it. The wind dries all your sweat, so you don’t even feel like you are dehydrated until it was too late. On top of that, when I got home, I realized why I had felt so off during the entire race: I had gotten my period right smack dab in the middle of the marathon! Once I realized that, I felt a little better about everything that had happened, and even laughed, albeit a TINY bit. Way to keep me humble, universe!

No photos, because, well, I didn’t have a good time, so I didn’t take many. I didn’t really feel like this was a huge accomplishment, though I guess just finishing it was. I am ready to move forward and maybe try again next year…orrrrr maybe I will just stick with the 10K (especially if the marathoners keep getting poop brown shirts).

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Week 2 training & the hiccups (or kidney stones) that accompanied it

I knew going into last week’s training that it was probably not going to be my best training week in terms of hitting all the miles required, but I had no idea it would turn out the way it did! Last week was busy for me in terms of class & assignments, and since that is my top priority right now and it’s sooooo early in the training cycle, I was okay with it. I missed my Sunday 9-miler because I was on a home visit – I always feel blah about missing a long run, but it is what it is! I intended to do a second 5-miler this week as well but didn’t get to it. Oh well. Here’s what the week looked like:

Sun: no run

Mon: 3.1 at 8:48 min/mile – I was NOT feeling well that morning!

Tues: no run

Wed: 5 miles at 8:40 min/mile

Thurs: 3.1 miles at 8:20 min/mile

Fri: no run

Sat: 7.1 at 8:37 min/mile

The 7-miler was my scheduled long run this week (it was a low-mileage Kurtis week), and while it was scheduled for Sunday, I wanted to get it in on Saturday because Audrey & Caroline had their own races to run Sunday morning – Potomac River Running’s Mighty Mile Kids’ Race! They were both really excited for it, especially Audrey. Good thing I got that mileage in early since Sunday morning took an unexpected and unpleasant turn.

I woke up around 4:30am on Sunday with abdominal and pain on my right side. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and tried to switch positions and go back to sleep. That did not work out very well – I could not find relief no matter what position I tried! I suffered alone for a while, but then I started getting nauseous and throwing up. I felt like maaaaybe I should wake Brian up, but I didn’t want to get him up so early! We are going through a bad sleeping spurt w/ the girls, and he is always up at the crack of dawn (or before). I didn’t want to be the cause of the early wakeup this time when we go to bed every night hoping that the next morning is the morning the girls sleep in! I couldn’t stand it anymore, though, so I woke up and told him what was going on. He said that I looked so pathetic that he couldn’t find it in his heart to be mad at me…ah, love. 🙂 We sat on the couch for a little while with me in fetal position before I decided I was going to try and get some sleep. I went back to bed and still couldn’t get any relief, and then I threw up again – all over the sheets. I called Brian in and he sat next to me for a while. Eventually it got bad enough that we decided to get the girls up and go to the ER, so the girls came along with their crazy bedhead and footie pajamas.

Long story short – after lots of time in the hospital, more throwing up, an IV, a urinalysis w/ elevated red blood cell count, bloodwork, and a CT scan, the diagnosis was a kidney stone. I actually passed it in the waiting room, and it wasn’t very long after that I felt way better. B told me he could tell when I was feeling better because I actually talked audibly instead of whispering and mumbling 😉 On our way out of the hospital, we spotted the Ft Belvoir Fisher House! I don’t really pay attention that much when leaving the hospital because usually I am driving chatty children home from doctor appointments, so this was maybe the second time I noticed it. I remember when they were building both FH and the hospital and that area was just a huge pile of dirt. So cool to see it up and running – and it is beautiful!

So, yeah. That was our “relaxing” Sunday morning! I have had two natural births (I call Audrey’s birth a “supernatural” birth), so I am not a wimp when it comes to pain – and that is what made B realize it was serious because I don’t cry wolf with things. If I complain, I am probably already way past being in normal pain and on my way towards excruciating pain, ha ha. And for the record, I prefer childbirth to kidney stones. At least with labor you can move around and ease the pain, contractions come in waves and aren’t constant, AND you get a sweet baby after.

The girls were angels during that whole 4 hours in the hospital, but Audrey was really sad to miss her race. I am doing a 4th of July 5K, so she gets to come run the fun run to make up for it!

Here’s to a better training week this week – it can’t get worse, right? I will leave you with pics of my sweet baby Bear (her older sister was pouting in the other room):

 

 

 

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Filed under birth, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, natural childbirth, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House

Here we go again

Marathon training season has started once again! It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since I started last year’s training cycle. I can’t decide how I feel about starting up again. On one hand, I was really itching to start a new training cycle because I wasn’t really thrilled with spring, but on the other hand, there goes my life for the next 4-5 months. What have I gotten myself into (again)?! The idea of not getting to sleep in until the end of October makes me want to cry! But let’s be honest – these days, “sleeping in” isn’t really sleeping in anyway.

I started off thinking that I wanted to try Hanson’s Marathon Method, and I even bought the book to read. It was really interesting and appealing, but in the end, I don’t have the time to dedicate to the higher weekly mileage. I kept thinking I could make it work, but the reality is that I probably can’t, especially with two nights of class in the fall. Someday I do want to try this method (if I keep running marathons…) but for now, it is too ambitious.

I came across Doug Kurtis’ marathon training plan in Runner’s World and was intrigued. He splits some of his long runs into two segments, one run earlier in the day and the other run at least three hours later. This doesn’t happen with all of the weekend long runs in this plan, and I thought it sounded like an interesting strategy. I also like that his intermediate plan included some speedwork, whereas Higdon’s (the one I followed last year) doesn’t. I penciled it into the planner next to the Higdon Intermediate mileage, and they are both similar enough that it made me feel like the Kurtis plan would prepare me for MCM and NYCM, but different enough that hopefully my interest stays piqued. The Kurtis plan has 6 days of running per week while Higdon has 5 and one day for cross-training (which, honestly, I used as an extra rest day last year). I also like their similarities because I feel like I can hybridize my plan by fusing them when I need to (if that makes sense). If I miss some mileage in the Kurtis plan during the week, maybe I can make up for it using the little bit of extra Higdon training mileage on the weekends. Flexibility is so important to me because marathon training is, oh, only about 5% of my life – mothering, working, military spousing (aka: Brian will be traveling at some points), & grad school take up the rest of it.

Kurtis’ plan is 20 weeks, so it already started. I hopped in at week 2, which was last week. I hit all my runs that week, hooray!!

S: 8 miles (8:45 min/mile pace)

M: 3 miles (8:39 min/mile)

T: 5 miles pace (8:18 min/mile – I used it to do 9×400 intervals at 5k pace w/ 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile cool-down, 1 min or so between intervals)

W: 5 miles (8:45 min/mile)

T: 3 miles (8:16 min/mile)

F: rest

Sat: 4 miles (8:34 min/mile)

I’ve already missed my long run for this week (9 miles) because I was out all afternoon on Sunday doing a home visit for class, but since it is so early in training and it’s a mileage I hit pretty regularly, I am not worried in the slightest!

And, just like last year, I am fundraising this year for Fisher House. If you remember, I was a Top 25 fundraiser last year thanks to all of your support!

Bring it on, MCM & NYCM! I will be ready for you (I think)!

 

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Filed under Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House

New York City or bust

Last Wednesday, I received an unexpected email in my inbox (and no, this is not an April Fools’ joke):

photo-5

 

To say I was taken by surprise would be an understatement. I entered my name into the lottery back in February, but assured Brian that there was absolutely no way I would ever get in this year. My plan was to enter the lottery as many years as it took to get in, and then to run it without question whichever year I was actually accepted. Because I don’t live in NYC, it is a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime race for me. It just happened to come a lot earlier than expected/planned! This race has a lottery acceptance rate of 10-15%; 77,000 people applied for lottery entry, but only 9,000 were accepted. Eesh! No wonder I didn’t expect to be one of them!

I am a little overwhelmed (but still excited!) at the prospect of running it because this is now not only a marathon, but an adventure! I was signed up for MCM and Richmond this fall (with MCM being a training marathon & Richmond being my PR-goal marathon), but will more than likely defer Richmond to next year. The plan right now is to sloooowly run MCM and then do NYCM the next weekend. That plan is a little intimidating, but I just can’t fathom not being at MCM with Fisher House on October 26. Obviously doing two marathons a week apart means I will probably have to sacrifice performance time, but I think I am okay with that (Brian begs to differ). I am not sure I even want to run NYCM for time, either – I sort of want to enjoy the experience and not rush through it! We’ll see how things go… 🙂

Here are some Rock ‘n’ Roll USA pictures – I look like I was having more fun than I was! The not-so-happy pictures were fewer than I thought, actually…

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Filed under Fisher House, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Races, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC

Post-marathon life stuff.

Oh man, I feel like I have been in such a fitness funk since MCM. I took almost the whole week off from running afterwards to let myself “rest” (aka: do and eat whatever I felt like), and now I am finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. I ran 2 easy miles the Saturday after MCM, and then a little under 5 miles this past Tuesday morning, but nothing other than that. Saturday’s run felt hard (but it was on the treadmill and I think I was just not into it mentally) and Tuesday’s run felt awesome but left me with a little bit of residual ankle soreness which prevented a Wednesday morning run. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s okay to be easy on my body, especially since my racing season is essentially over. I have a 12K, 10K, 8K, and 4 miler still on the schedule before 2014 hits, but those are all fun, no-pressure races.

There has also been a major life routine change since MCM which hasn’t helped my running routine, but it is a GREAT change! Now that C is two, she is FINALLY at the same preschool as Audrey instead of 40 minutes away near B’s work. She is adjusting SO well & is so happy; I am thankful for an almost seamless transition! This came at the best time possible because B is switching locations in December, and her old daycare would not be on his way home anymore. It’s also way more convenient for those days when Brian is not around and I have to pick up both girls. I never have to go through the days of driving 80 total minutes out of my way to drop off and pick up babies anymore! Hooray!

Ironically, though, having both girls with me at the end of the day leads to less productivity time. I would use the 30-45 minute time between when Audrey and I got home and when B and Caroline got home to a) cook dinner, b) get in a quick treadmill run if I didn’t get one in earlier while Audrey plays or watches a movie next to me, or c) run errands…now I don’t get that time because they are constantly, um, needing me, bickering, running around the house like crazies, etc. This change also means Brian gets home earlier, though, so that’s awesome! But, as I mentioned, it’s cut out a significant chunk of potential running time, so I am still adjusting to that and trying to work in the time, especially now that it’s getting dark so early.

Anywayyyy, usually after big races, I have this tendency to over-analyze everything and constantly think of what I could have done better. I am not really going to do this for MCM, though, because I don’t know that we could have run a better race. The one thing I wonder about is what our official time would have been if we didn’t have a bathroom stop, but that is more curiosity than anything else. I also have this huge desire to run the Richmond Marathon in two weeks (hey, I’m already trained, ha ha), but B has basically said, “NO WAY, not supporting this one, you need to take it easy!” and he is probably right. Oh well – I’ll plan for MCM and Richmond next year!

Here are some of the professional photos & photos taken by Fisher House that have popped up since marathon day.

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THE BIG ONE: Marine Corps Marathon 2013 recap (10/27/13)

Wow, I don’t even know how to start this post – there is so much to say and I am not sure my brain has processed it all, but I want to get it down before I forget anything! First off, I AM A MARATHONER! How surreal. On one hand, it doesn’t even seem like it happened, but on the other hand, my body definitely feels it! This post will probably be long because a) 26 miles is a long time and b) this race was awesome and I want to share/remember all the awesome parts of it!

I stayed at the Fisher House team hotel the night before the marathon so that I could avoid the metro chaos into Arlington. Plus, Fisher House offered the amazing service of an escort to the team tent in Charity Village (right behind the finish line!) which had tons of food and water, and then another escort from the tent to the start line. It is nice not to have to worry about those logistics when you are already stressed about the race ahead of you! Also, we bypassed main race security because we had our own security, and we didn’t have to do bag check because Fisher House allowed us to keep our bags in the tent – SO convenient. Everyone on the Fisher House team woke up to an inspirational sign on our doors which was a sweet way to start the morning, and we all shared duct tape and markers to put our names on our jerseys (such a crucial thing in a race!).

Walking to the start line with Team Fisher House was so fun and there was really a sense of camaraderie. As we were walking in towards the start, we paused for the flags and anthem. Marine and Army veterans parachuted in with a huge American flag as well as service flags from all of the military branches. It was so cool, and, because it was so early, the moon was still out, so it was a beautiful backdrop. Once we heard the National Anthem, we moved on into the starting area, took a last bathroom break, and hopped into the 4:00-4:15 corral (or so we thought but I think we got slower people with us!).

Flag being parachuted in

Flag being parachuted in

Corrals were split across a highway with a barrier, so you had a left side and a right side of people in the same pace group. Once the Howitzer cannon went off to signal the start (awesome, by the way), everyone went – it wasn’t a staggered start. The announcer said there were so many people running this that runners would cross the start line continuously for 25 minutes. That is insane! Anyway, we must have picked the nervous half of the start line because everyone in front of us was walking to the start, whereas the group on the right was jogging towards the start. Being impatient, we hopped the fence and ran in with the right side. Because people had to self-select into corrals and because there was not a staggered start, we were completely jam-packed through almost the entire marathon. It was so painful to see how slow some of our earlier paces (and even some of our later paces) were because we were trapped behind people and couldn’t get around them. We finished the first three miles in 31+ minutes, and that was really hard to see on the Garmin. I know marathon pacing is SO different, but when you can run 25 min or less 5K’s, that’s a hard number to see, especially when you didn’t necessarily want to go that slowly to start off with.

Anyway, the first 3-4 miles were the hilliest miles, and sort of lonely because it was through a wooded area and the George Washington Parkway but at that point, you don’t mind not having so many spectators. We did get to see Danny’s wife, Dominique, pretty early on which was so fun! I also happened to run into a friend from my Montana days on the course at around mile 2 – wow, what a fun and unlikely reunion! We squealed and gave each other a big hug and then were off again. What are the chances of us seeing each other in a crowd of 30,000 runners? Amazing. One of the other really cool things about MCM is that you get to race with wounded warriors who are riding their hand cycles, and there were many times when runners were instructed to move over because a cyclist was coming through (first time was right around mile 3) – talk about inspirational!

Once we hit mile 5 or so, we were running through Georgetown. There were tons of spectators there and it was amazing! The spectators throughout the whole race were just insane – they really made it so much easier! I actually didn’t even turn on music until mile 23 because of how incredible the atmosphere was. After we left Georgetown, we went through Rock Creek and the Potomac Parkway for what seemed like FOREVER. It was a U-turn part of the course, and it was hard to see people running the other way and not knowing when it was your turn to turn around! We came out of it around mile 9, and Danny and I decided to make a bathroom break. Eek, that might have been a mistake, because it wasn’t a desperate situation for us, but the line didn’t seem that long, so we stopped because we knew we’d eventually need to stop. However, the people in there took FOREVER, and the whole trip ended up costing us about 7-10 minutes. Oh well.

Once we hopped back on the course, it wasn’t too long until we had our first Brian sighting! He found us (and startled me) around mile 10 or 11, right before we hit Hains Point. Hains Point was, well, Hains Point. For those who don’t know what Hains Point is, it’s a long stretch (5 miles?) along the Tidal Basin/Potomac River and it is SO lonely. I usually don’t mind it, and it wasn’t that bad for most of it, but the isolation gets to you after a few miles. It was also an emotional stretch because there were pictures of fallen soldiers, their names, and ages lining the roads. I know I got choked up, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. All of a sudden I was like, “Why can’t I breathe easily anymore?! What is going on?!” and then realized it was because I was getting emotional. After we passed by all of the pictures, there were people lining the route single file holding American flags. Wow. It made you really stop, think, and reflect. I think we left Hains Point around mile 14 or 15, but I felt my first “down” moment of “yikes, this is a long race” at the half marathon mark. I was still feeling okay physically, but coming off of that isolation and realizing I still had a long way to go definitely wore on my spirit for a little while. Being alone for so long with just the people you were running alongside did allow for some extra bonding time among strangers, though!

Once we emerged from Hains Point, the crowds were so intense!  It really felt like they were carrying you. Miles 15-20 might have been my favorite stretch because of that, and also because that’s when we ran through the Smithsonian area, the Capitol, and the memorials. We saw Dominique and Brian about 2-3 more times each within those 5 miles, and each time we got a huge boost! Brian even ran with us for a few steps to coach us on the final hill before the finish (shh, we won’t tell security). He had run the MCM 10k which finished at the same spot, so he had all the intel and it was so cute. He also passed me his headphones because I had accidentally dropped mine at the start and was panicky about not having music as a possibility to carry me through the last 2-3 miles.

Feeling great at mile 17!

Feeling great at mile 17!

We passed the Gauntlet at mile 17.5 (the first timed cut-off) and still felt great, and we hit miles 18, 19, and 20 and still felt AMAZING. We knew that we had to “beat the Bridge” at mile 20-21 (the second and hilly timed cut-off at the 14th St Bridge) and head back into Virginia, so we made sure to hydrate and fuel up, and off we went! Once you “beat the Bridge,” within the time allotted, you knew you were going to be finishing that marathon one way or another. Pretty sure I choked up for a brief second there, too. One thing that surprised us, though, was how many super fit-looking people started walking REALLY early into the race, and that made us feel really good about our training.

No more pictures!

No more pictures!

We took the 14th St Bridge a little more conservatively than we did last weekend at Army 10-Miler (no 8:30 pace for us, ha), but we finished it strong and kept on going. We had said to each other that we would be happy if we hit 22 miles feeling good and constantly running (especially since our longest training run was 20 miles), and after that, we’d take the next 4 as they came. We accomplished that (hooray), but oh my gosh. Mile 21-22ish was when it got HARD. I think it was a combination of so many things. Obviously, we had just run 21 miles and that is a lot, but we were now in the sun (the rest of the course was pretty nicely shaded) and it was getting warmer, there were less people there cheering, the bridge is no joke, you are just tired, and it seriously feels like you are NEVER going to be done. It’s so weird because it’s only 4 miles to the finish at that point, but those 4 miles just seem insurmountable. Based on everyone around us, we all started struggling at the same time.

We took a few short walk breaks starting at 22 to the end, but nothing super long (proven by the fact that our paces stayed so consistent through the whole race!), mostly enough to conserve energy for the finish and to stretch out painful muscles/cramps. I don’t even really know what to say about miles 22-24 heading into Crystal City other than they were the hardest miles I have ever run in my life. Even once we got into a more spectator-filled area, it just didn’t matter anymore. At that point, nothing brought me up! My feet were killing me, my toes hurt, my muscles hurt – everything hurt. I did see the Lululemon cheer people at 23, and that was a good pick-me-up, but then we saw someone who collapsed at mile 23.5 and heard medics reminding us to drink our fluids because it was getting warm out, so that was a major womp womp moment. I finally turned on some music with headphones in just one ear so I could still hear the crowds, and hoped that would carry me through. It helped a little bit, but not much.

Once we headed towards the Pentagon and mile 25, it got a little easier because there was a nice downhill and I knew we would be finished soon-ish (I add that “ish” because never before has a mile felt so long). I knew I’d see Brian soon, and we’d be done soon, but we were definitely moving slower than before…at least it felt like it, but our pace isn’t that different once you look at it. We got heckled by a Marine, too, so that helped us pick up some speed, ha.

Something that was mentally tough for me was my watch was 1/4 of a mile ahead of the mile markers so every time it beeped, I knew we weren’t really at that mile. We saw Brian again right around when my watch beeped mile 26 (so in reality we had about half a mile left), and I gave him a sad face. He told me later on that he didn’t understand why I gave him that face because we only had half a mile to go at that point, and I gave him a look and said, “seriously, that is the LONGEST half mile ever and everything just hurt!”

Once we hit the actual 26 mile marker, everyone dug deep to conquer the hill leading up to the Marine Corps War Memorial (aka Iwo Jima). We saw Dominique at the base of the hill which was a nice boost, and the pavement itself had a ton of sayings on it like, “Marine up!”, “Take the hill!”, and there were bleachers set up for people to watch the finish. The hill was HARD, but short, and the finish was not far after you made it up the hill. It was so, so sweet to hit that finish line and be greeted by tons of Marines giving you high fives right before crossing, and then all of them congratulating you afterwards. Honestly, I don’t remember how I felt the second I crossed the finish. SO happy, of course, but I don’t think I actually teared up as I crossed it, though I was positive I would just start crying right away. I teared up at some earlier miles when I realized that I was actually going to finish this, and I teared up in line to get my medal, but I probably just felt relief at the finish line itself!

Once we crossed, it took forever to get our medals and jackets and food, etc, but Marines lined the entire chute, and each and every Marine shook my hand and congratulated me and/or thanked me for running with them. It was the greatest thing ever. I felt like such a superstar the whole race, but never moreso than in this moment. I felt amazing, as evidenced by the giant grin in the below picture right after a Marine handed me my medal.

SO happy!

SO happy!

We took a minute to take a quick picture in front of the Memorial (the official pictures will actually have the full Memorial in it) and we sat down for a few minutes  (painful in case you were wondering) before embarking on the search for family.

In front of the Iwo Jima memorial

In front of the Iwo Jima memorial

It was a giant mess to get from the finisher area back to Charity Village where we were meeting our families (even though the Village was right there!), but what else can you expect with a race this size? I think having to wait so long to see Brian allowed me to get some emotions in check – otherwise, I might have been a sobbing disaster when I saw him, though I did tear up a little and gave him the biggest hug ever. I cried when I said bye to him that morning, and I cried when we got home, but I kept it together in public (ha!). I was just so exhausted and happy at that point that it was hard to keep emotions in check. Literally, every single feeling that exists in the world, I probably felt at some point that day. I also felt so, so grateful to him and touched by both his unwavering support of this ambitious goal and his pride in me, and all of that came pouring out, especially once we made it home and had a few minutes to ourselves.

I was really proud of the way we ran this race, even though it was just outside our goal (goal was 4:00-4:30, and with our bathroom stop we were a smidge over). There came a point when we realized that we either had to stick with a 10ish min/mile pace or risk continuously wasting energy passing everyone and we just sort of adapted our end goal to accomodate that. Neither of us anticipated this being an issue, but we rolled with it. I’ve been religiously reading other people’s race recaps and the overall consensus was that because this race didn’t thin out until mile 20, it would be near impossible to run it for time unless you were at the very front of the pack. It was probably for the best because even running that pace, it really hurt at the end!

I tend to be wary/nervous during new longer distances because I don’t know what to expect and I don’t want to burn out at the end, but I feel way more confident now and know that next marathon is going to be even quicker! That being said, I couldn’t ask for a better first marathon performance – I am so happy with this. One of my goals was to find the balance between pushing myself but also allowing myself to enjoy the experience – you only run your first marathon once, after all! I think I accomplished both, and I had so much fun interacting with the crowd (and even had enough energy to heckle a Va Tech supporter!).

It’s funny because a year ago to the day of MCM, I ran my FIRST 5K. When I think about how far I have come in just a year, it’s incredible, and there is nothing but pride there. I never would have thought last year during that 5K that I would complete a marathon (and four halves, 3 ten milers, etc etc) the very next year. And I spent the majority of the race with a huge smile on my face, so that in itself is a win.

Final shot of the Garmin

Final shot of the Garmin

Marine Corps Marathon itself was an incredible experience, and I felt lucky to be a part of it. It was inspiring from start to end. Where else do you get Marines handing you water, fuel, high fives, and encouragement? And the crowds were the best. I had so many people cheering for me individually (that’s why you put your name on your jersey!) and it was so uplifting! And I will run for Team Fisher House every single opportunity I get because that was an awesome experience, too. The support they offer on course, afterwards, beforehand, etc was unmatched. Running for a charity is seriously the way to do it! The historical and meaningful setting of the race added to the poignancy of the day, and I really can’t believe I have to wait a whole other year before running MCM again! I think that living in such a huge military community, being a military spouse, and raising money for a military charity also affected how personal this race was for me. It was so special!

The first thing I said (well, whimpered) to Brian when I saw him was, “That was so hard, that was SO HARD!” and I repeated it for 2-3 hours after meeting up with him, yet I am already looking forward to running another marathon…runner’s amnesia for sure! It’s just like childbirth, which I also loved because apparently I am a masochist.

Medal & finisher warm-up jacket

Medal & finisher warm-up jacket

Anyway, wow, I cannot believe it is over! I think I am going to have a running identity crisis for a little bit. I have a 12K in mid-November and a couple of short races before the holidays to look forward to. There are a bunch of halves on the spring schedule already, and I think my plan for now is to work on PRing them. But for now, I rest (and eat) and feel eternally grateful to my amazing and supportive husband and babies…time to dedicate some weekend mornings to them!

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Filed under Celebrations, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC

Army 10-Miler recap {10/20/13}

All done with our Pentagon coins!

All done with our Pentagon coins!

Danny and I didn’t really plan on “racing” this race since Marine Corps Marathon is next week. On the metro ride over, our conversation seemed to have settled on an 8:45-9 min/mile pace. We are so close to MCM and I know we are both getting super wary of injuries, so we were conservative in our goals. That’s not really how it happened, but that’s okay! Today’s run felt GREAT.

Let me tell you, though – this morning was COLD, and we had a long time to wait outside the Pentagon (where it started & finished). I am so happy I had a throwaway hoodie, or else it would have been truly unbearable. There were 6 waves, and I was pretty excited to be close to the front of the 35,000 total runners by being assigned to Wave 2 – that meant we didn’t have to wait up to 30 minutes to start! We got to see all of the wounded warriors pass by our wave and line up for their race, too – so inspiring! The leader of Wave 2 was General Ray Odierno! It was cool to hear the cannons fire for the start of each wave, and everything (in true military fashion) was so well-organized. Even the water stops were executed flawlessly…although, no one was allowed to walk through them or you were scolded by soldiers. That meant lots of spilling and people running into each other – all part of the experience!

What Danny and I “struggled” with this race (but I think eventually just gave into) was going too fast (or what we thought was too fast) and needing to slow down. Every time I looked at my Garmin, it was a much faster pace than I thought! It was amazing to me because I felt like we were running easy, but in reality we were running at my 10-miler PR pace from last spring. I’d think we were for sure running a 9 min/mile, and I’d look down and it’d be an 8:30-8:35 minute/mile. It’s so fun to contrast that to my 10-milers last spring where, yes, I was running that pace, but it felt hard, and I was giving so much effort. Those races usually involved me going out too fast, feeling like I was going to die, and going way slower towards the end. It makes me wonder what my time would have been if I had really set out to RACE this one! Runs like this make me feel like my training has actually paid off. Another time I felt training pay off was the hills. We maintained an 8:30 pace up just about all of them – no slowing down for hills! – and they didn’t seem impossible. I wouldn’t say they were easy, but they weren’t hard.

According to unofficial results, I missed my PR time of 1:26:36 by around 30 seconds. According to my watch, we did 10.15 miles in 1:27:09, so approaching the finish, I thought I might have had it once all of the extra stuff was taken into account. Of course it’s a little bit of a bummer that I missed it but I can’t be too upset since that wasn’t the point of this race. Plus, if you want to get technical, I stopped at every water stop this time (stopped at none last spring), felt way stronger and more steady this time around (it felt so easy!), and wasn’t even trying to go this fast – overall, today was a win! One thing that I was really proud of was that we still had enough energy to keep our pace steady and to even give it our all in the last half mile or so. Once we hit mile 9.5, I looked at my watch and realized that maaaaaaybe I could PR this race without having tried to, and how fun would that be?! Once I realized that, I just took off! Obviously I missed it by a few seconds, but the fact that I had enough juice left in me for that 7:05-ish half mile makes me happy! I also felt like I could have kept going for a while, and that is encouraging going into a 26.2 on Sunday.

The atmosphere was amazing! I love big races and I love the crowd support (and usually bands) that comes with them. Fisher House had a team for this race as well, and even though I didn’t fundraise for ATM, I wore my jersey to test it out for next weekend (can’t wear a shirt that bothers you for 26.2!). I felt like a superstar – the FH support was SO great! I can’t wait to feel it next weekend!

Here are standings:

7165 out of 26,025 total (27%)

1691 out of 12,070 women (14%)

354 out of 2013 division (17%)

And wow, can’t believe the day I’ve been training for is so close…

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Filed under autumn, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC