Tag Archives: Washington DC

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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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, Washington DC

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler recap {4/6/14}

Wow, what a beautiful spring morning for a 10-mile race in DC! This was the view that greeted me after getting off the Metro:

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And this was the view that greeted all runners approaching the start line:

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I ran this race last year & loved it, so, unlike the morning of Rock ‘n’ Roll USA 1/2 Marathon, I was really excited. This race has to be one of my favorites! There is nothing quite like running through DC, around monuments, the Tidal Basin, and the cherry blossoms to kick off the spring! I don’t think you can get any more quintessentially DC than this race.

My main goal for this race was to run a strong one. I only ran 5 miles last week because of a swollen foot arch, and a really tender/painful foot/ankle. I spent the week icing & resting, but had no idea what impact it would have on this race. After RnR USA, another goal was to fight through the whole thing, even if/when I wanted to stop. I am working on trying to build up my mental grit again. I definitely had it last year, but in my mind, I proved everything I set out to prove, so I sort of feel like I’ve lost some of the drive.

With all of that being said, I had a great race! There were definitely tough moments, but I pushed through and kept going. I am really happy with how I ran. It was about a minute shy of my PR (which was last year’s Cherry Blossom), but I am fine with it. I didn’t go out intending to PR, and all my 10-mile races have been within the same 1.5 minute time range, so I’m happy to be on par with last year. I was way more diligent with getting my miles in last year, whereas I look back at this training cycle and it feels so helter skelter to me!

I tried to run using Runners’ World’s Timeless Challenge, which implements zone (yellow, orange, red) running; I’m not sure that it worked for me this time, but I want to explore this further. It was a last minute decision for me to run this way, so maybe it would have worked out better if I’d had more mental preparation/practice. I went out too fast in this race because with your adrenaline pumping, it’s easy to feel like you’re running at a more leisurely pace (yellow zone) in the first few miles than you actually are. For me, I rely heavily on my GPS watch in the first few miles as a way to slow myself down. Without that, I basically sprinted the first 4 miles (um, 7:12 pace at mile 4?!), and then couldn’t really push myself into the red zone at the end. Also, Hain’s Point really zapped me of my energy this time around – ugh, such a hard, boring part of the course. Oh well – you live & learn!

Splits:

Mile 1 – 8:20 min/mile

Mile 2 – 8:17 min/mile

Mile 3 – 8:21 min/mile

Mile 4 – 7:12 min/mile (can that be right?!)

Mile 5 – 8:51 min/mile

Mile 6 – 8:32 min/mile

Mile 7 – 9:14 min/mile (leisurely water stop!)

Mile 8 – 8:56 min/mile

Mile 9 – 8:54 min/mile

Mile 10 – 8:41 min/mile

Final – 1:27:51

I love looking at the RunPix data for runs! Here are mine:

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A fun perk at the end of this race was my friend (and bridesmaid!) Katelyn spotting me in the finisher area. Neither of us knew the other was going to be there, so it was unexpected and really great to see her. What are the chances?! Also – pink race shirts, woo!

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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Recap and Reflections {3/15/14}

Hmmm, how to start this…

This was my 5th half marathon, and I did not have a good time at this race. I simply did not want to be there and it showed in my time. I think this race came too soon after B got back, and all I wanted was to be at home with everyone. It is also not my favorite course or race, and it was a logistical pain in the butt for me. I was so paranoid about it that I woke up at 3:45am and ended up at the starting line 2 hours (!) before race time because of my fear of the huge crowds (there were 25,000 runners!) and not getting there on time. That, paired with an additional 20-25 minute wait to cross the start line (wave start), just added to my desire to be anywhere but there. I was over it before it even started. I even texted Brian before the start that I wanted to come home and didn’t want to race at all!

I started off the race trying to shake off my bad attitude, and even paced myself well for the first half. I held back at the start and forced myself to slow down after starting at 8:10 min/miles, and up until mile 7-8, I was averaging around 8:40-8:45 min/miles which I would have been thrilled with at the end. My heart and head were not in it, though, and by mile 5, I was ready to be finished. The huge hill of this course comes at mile 6 (exiting Rock Creek & heading into Georgetown), and then there was another sizable hill in mile 7, and I think those were the catalysts to my complete loss of interest in the race. I started alternating between walking & running at mile 9 (?) – even considered texting Brian to tell him how miserable I was, but refused to stoop that low (ha). If I had really pushed myself at mile 10, I still could have finished sub-2, but I just didn’t care enough to fight for it. Knowing it wasn’t my goal race did not help my apathy, either.

And guys – I DIDN’T EVEN SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS (well, most of them). YOU KNOW THIS WAS A BAD RACE WHEN I COULDN’T EVEN MANAGE THAT! I ran a 7-miler with BRONCHITIS and still smiled for all of the cameras! This was clearly dire 😉 .

My final time was 2:03:34. Despite my bad race, I still finished in the top third(ish) of all competitors, top 30% of age division, and top 26% of women so there’s that, I guess…

Splits:

5K = 27:45, 10K = 56:59, 10 miles = 1:32:58.

Something that Brian reminded me of when I got home was the difference in treadmill training vs. actually pounding the pavement, simply from an impact perspective. He asked me if my legs felt tired/sore earlier, and when I thought about it, they had. I noticed it during the race but didn’t really connect the dots. I’m sure it was because my training over the past 2-3 months has almost exclusively been on the treadmill (thank you weather + military life). Honestly, when I was sprinting to the finish of this race, my legs felt like they were sprinting to the finish of MCM (and they felt like I had just run a marathon for the rest of the day, too). I haven’t gotten any hill training in, and this race is pretty hilly in the second half. At least my days of single parenthood are over for a while and I can get outside for runs again – gotta get used to the pavement impact and hills again!

Another more sobering feeling that has been running through my mind (even prior to this race) is burn-out. I went all out last year in terms of my race schedule, and while it was rewarding, it was also exhausting. I have a packed spring race schedule this year, too, but I’m not sure if my desire to push myself is there. I am prepared to run them, but I almost want to run them for FUN, not for time. At the same time, though, I know that my very competitive nature will be annoyed if I don’t meet time goals. UGH, such a catch-22. But isn’t running supposed to be fun?! I’ve lost that feeling lately. Waking up at 5am to squeeze runs in isn’t fun. Running on the treadmill isn’t fun. Feeling like I don’t have a spare minute in my day isn’t fun. Hopefully these feelings improve now that Brian is back and I have room to breathe again, but I guess time will tell. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training just to give myself a break.

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And in HAPPY news, GO HOOS! It was so fun to watch the ACC Tournament this weekend, especially because we are not used to being on the winning side! Caroline wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but she cheered along saying, “GO, HOOS, GO! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” in her sweet little baby voice!

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Filed under Celebrations, Charlottesville, Family, Fitness, Georgetown, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, military, Military Life, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, University of Virginia, Washington DC

And so completes the 2013 race season…

This post is SO overdue, but with the holiday season in full swing, I just haven’t had a chance to write it! Last Sunday (12/5?) was my final race of the 2013 racing season, and oh, what a season it has been! I ran the Pacers Jingle All the Way 8K starting at Freedom Plaza and working its way past the Capitol building & museums. I ran this race last year and it was really fun, so I knew I had to end the season with it. We had a winter storm warning for the day, but it was supposed to start later in the morning. Luckily, all that happened during this race was snow falling down! What could be more perfect for a holiday race? The goal for this race wasn’t to PR (I think my current PR is 42 & change from last year) but just to have fun, and it was TOTALLY fun. For this race, Pacers gives everyone bells to wear on their running shoes, so we all sound very festive while we race. There were so many fun costumes, too, and even a Santa photo booth! I am a little sad that I can’t close out 2013 with Pacers’ Fairfax Four-Miler on NYE, but we won’t be in town 😦 .

I can’t believe what a crazy racing year it has been. It’s definitely been a very unexpectedly busy 2013! I never intended to accomplish what was accomplished, but I just sort of naively kept signing up for things…

Here is a summary of my 2013 racing (give or take):

Five 5Ks, two 4-milers, two 8Ks, one 5-miler, one 10K, one 12K,  three 10-milers, one 12-miler, four half marathons (+ one postponed one due to shutdown), two 20-mile races, and my first marathon! It’s exciting to think about what 2014 will bring, but also a little stressful, too. 2013 was so great – how will 2014 compare?!

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Filed under Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New Year's Eve, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC

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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Unknown poignancy

Yesterday we found out that someone in our lives lost her mother in the Navy Yard shooting. It is someone who is influential in Audrey’s life, and we are so heartbroken for her, her family, & the families of all the victims. I have shed tears for her (and still tear up if I allow myself to dwell on it for a while) and simply cannot fathom what she is going through. A part of me is also so sad that Audrey and the other children she influences are indirectly affected by a national tragedy because of the way it directly & horrifically affects someone they love. It reminds me that we cannot protect our young, innocent babies from tragedy & sadness for the rest of their lives, and it makes me dread the day when they are old enough to understand things like this.

On the car ride home after I heard the news, Audrey randomly requested that I sing “America, The Beautiful” (one of her new favorite songs, but she cannot sing it herself because she doesn’t know all of the words)…my voice cracked as I sang it for her, and all I could think about was how children can be so unknowingly poignant.

Audrey's class made this for 9/11, but it is so applicable now, too.

Audrey’s class made this for 9/11, but it is so applicable now, too.

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