Marine Corps Marathon 10k Race Recap

I didn’t know what to expect going into this race. I hadn’t run more than up and down my block since the Wineglass Half Marathon on Sept 28th and wasn’t sure if I should even attempt it. I feared the logistics of dealing with metro on such a crazy day with thousands and thousands of runners and spectators. I had never run in such a huge race and had no idea what to expect. I realllllly didn’t want to drive all the way to the DC Armory to get my packet and bib. I was also a little nervous about not using Gu or ShotBloks for energy; both are full of sugar and not approved for Whole30.  And to top it all off, the days leading up to the race was when the carb flu hit me from Whole30. I was nauseated, weak, tired, and grumpy – and seriously considered wimping out and not going.

I’m so happy that I didn’t listen to myself.

I convinced my husband to come with me to packet pickup the day before the event, so my little family made the drive to DC around 10am. Even then, I still wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to run, but I wanted to have my bib just in case. It was a mad house getting to the Armory because of traffic congestion (big surprise!)  but my husband dropped me off to get my bib and found a place to park. I had planned to just grab my bib and shirt while avoiding the Expo that had a line down the block to get in – but had to go into the Expo if I wanted my shirt. Foiled! The good news is that I got my bib extremely fast; it was a great sign of the outstanding organization of the event.

It didn’t take long to get in (the lines were due to metal detectors and bag screening) and I was able to get my shirt really fast. We walked around the expo for a few minutes so I could check out the Sweaty Bands booth but didn’t end up buying anything. I could feel the excitement of the event around me and decided that I was going to just go for it and just deal with whatever logistics were thrown at me.

I was up by 5am on race day with plenty of time to have coffee and some breakfast. I ate some cubed sweet potato with egg (so delicious!) and a couple of pieces of bacon, got dressed, grabbed my stuff, and was out the door by about 5:45am. The drive to the nearest metro was only about 30 minutes, I found great parking right away, and the lines for metro cards wasn’t too bad. I happened to be in a line where the machine rejected credit cards, so I gave myself a mental high five for remembering to grab some cash before I left the house.

The best part of living further out from the city is that the nearest metro stop is also the first metro stop for two lines. I was able to grab a forward-facing seat and settled in for a long ride with other runners and lots of spectators. Everyone was excited to run or watch people run and I chatted with my seatmate for most of the trip. Most of the runners were headed to the Pentagon for the marathon start but there were still quite a few headed to the Smithsonian stop for the 10k.

Once we got to the Smithsonian, I was again so thankful that I decided to get off of my bum and face my irrational fears. The energy was off the charts despite the early hour and cold morning. Even the threat of Hurricane Sandy couldn’t sway thousands of people from getting out there and I was so happy to be part of it. My escalator climbed and climbed – and once I was out, I stopped to take some pictures.

It was already 7:30 with a start time of 7:55, so I immediately started walking to the porta potty line. What you see in the above picture is the back of the porta potty area: the very long and very slowwww lines were hidden and provided a great facade of no lines at all. Only when I got closer did I realize how bad it was.

I started talking to the lady in front of me and we took turns taking pictures for each other. Mine is super blurry and dark (sorry) but I’m taking advantage of more pics on PFG! :)

I finished in the porta potty just as the race started, but since it was a chip timed event, I knew I didn’t have to rush to get a place. I wandered towards the back, found the 1:10:00-1:19:59 pace group, and squeezed in along the side. There was music playing, an emcee yelling out encouragement, and people were dancing and cheering and jumping around to warm up. We walked for quite a while and then we hit the mat…and we were off!

I didn’t remember to turn on my Garmin until after the race started and then it took a really long time to load. By the time it picked up the satellite, I had already run almost a quarter of a mile, so I knew an idea of overall time was out the window and I’d just have to go by pace time and not worry about overall time.

We ran around the National Mall for a bit where we ran by the Washington Monument. We then ran past the Holocaust Museum and by an all-female drum corps that was out of this world amazing and motivating!

(Sorry for the blurry pictures – I didn’t stop to take them!)

 

Next, we ran up a small incline to cross the 14th Street Bridge. I drove over that darn bridge twice a day, nearly every weekday for six years, so it was pretty cool to run over it and see the Potomac River from a different angle. There were plenty of runners around so I didn’t lose any sense of excitement – in fact, my pace picked up after the first mile!

From the bridge, we went to 12th street in Crystal City, VA and looped around Crystal Drive for a bit. There was a water stop here at some point and I slowed to drink it, then picked back up when I was finished. We ran by the Pentagon and things are a bit fuzzy here since it was a lot of highway. I knew we were going towards Rosslyn and the Marine Corps Memorial…aka the finish line!

There was a nice downhill right after Mile 5 and I leaned forward into the descent and let my legs just go for it. It felt awesome to not hold back and since I knew I only had a little over a mile to go, I wanted to push myself just a bit. I was getting pretty tired but just as I started to slow down, the road was lined with Marines on either side, offering encouragement and high-fives. I picked up my pace again and knew I was almost there.

I knew that I’d see the finish line only after climbing a small yet exhausting hill up to the Marine Corps Memorial. The cheering crowds and encouraging Marines once again helped me out because I managed to dig deep and sprinted as fast as my legs could take me. I didn’t even look at the clock or worry about my finish line picture: I wanted to go out strong and fast and give it my all.

We were directed to chutes to receive our finisher medals, where a Marine Lieutenant put it around my neck and saluted me. We were then able to get in line for an official photo at the base of the Marine Corps Memorial, where I took a few pictures.

(Yes, that is a banana costume.)

I ditched my jacket soon after the start (Goodwill is great for throw away jackets!) so I was freezing and decided to go directly to the metro. It was crowded and I had to wait a few minutes to get inside the turnstiles, but that was the only issue. I got on the first train that came to my stop and even got a seat – score! Before I knew it, I was at my destination and headed for my car. Getting to and from the race was easy and painless but I know that was largely due to the fact that I got out of there as soon as I could.

Some final race thoughts:

The people watching was great along the course which really helped distract me. I saw costumes and fun running outfits and large groups of people running or walking together. The spectators were incredible and seemed genuinely excited to be there. There were people running or walking who were older than me, younger than me, bigger than me, and smaller than me. I saw people struggling who didn’t give up and I saw people who made it look like the easiest thing in the world. But here’s what really got to me and kept me motivated during the rough patches: being surrounded by memorial shirts or pins for fallen Marines or other service members. The Marines lining the course, encouraging us and giving out water. The amputees or injured who were running or walking. They gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to keep going – to keep running because their son or daughter or dad or mom or sister or brother couldn’t. I teared up quite a few times, laughed my way through lines of high-fives with Marines, and thanked as many Marines as I could.

My chip time was 1:16:43 but I’m not sure if that’s an accurate time. There was apparently a suspicious package near the Pentagon and some of the runners were delayed. The MCM 10K website says that the delay was universal, so I assume that means they added that time to all of our finish times. I’m thrilled with my time and how great I felt after the race, so it’s no big deal.

This was, by far, my favorite solo race. It could have only been better if I had run it with my sister. :) Everything from bib pickup to getting a bottle of water at the end was organized and efficient. I don’t know that I’ll ever run a full marathon, but if I do…it will be the Marine Corps Marathon. If I don’t run the full next year, I’m definitely running the 10k again and I’m already looking forward to it! :)

 P.S. – My finish line photo is freaking terrible! :)

Weigh In Week 42

Well it can be done.  You can lose weight while sick and with virtually no exercise for the week.  (I did run a 5k but that was it).  With all of those things being true I had a nice loss this week.

-1.2 Pounds

79.0 Pounds lost to date

I had been hoping for more with as diligent I was about my food this week but some things can’t quite be controlled.  And at the Doctor on Monday their scale showed me down another 1.5 pounds.  Different scale so it doesn’t make it official but I do know that I am moving in the right direction.

I can’t say enough about finding the situations that you CAN control however.  I couldn’t really control my illness or my inability to workout this week, but I could control my food.  I was able to have a few nice meals out with friends/family but I made good choices.  I tracked everything.  I didn’t have Halloween candy in the house.  When I went to Target to get prescriptions I did not let myself get “pity” treats.  Ok, well I did get some baked chips, but I tracked them and didn’t go over for points.  And really, baked chips are such a comparatively lame “I’m sick” treat.  I avoided the ice cream, ruffles, candy and other things that I craved.

So I can’t complain about this week.  I did the work and I got a good result.  Imagine that, working for it means you lose weight.  Why is something so obvious so hard to remember sometimes?

To Boldly Go..

…where I have not gone before.

Saturday was my 6th 5k, my first one that was not in the summer in warm or even hot temps.  It was cold out (4o’s) and I was still sick.  Nothing about the race sounded appealing, including dressing up in costume.  However I am a determined lady and hate going back on things I have committed to doing so I put on my big girl pants, took some cold meds, grabbed my inhaler, and headed out to meet my friends and finish the monster dash.

Since it was the monster dash it was a costume race.  Normally have not been a big costume lady, but I’ve wanted this old school Star Trek dress for ages.  And since the largest size is an XXL it seemed that I could get away with wearing it now.   So I ordered it for my costume.  It was perhaps a bit tighter than I would have liked, particularly with cold weather running gear on underneath, but it is a sign of how far I’ve come already.

I had been hoping to be well to give my two main 5k goals a run for their money (Two goals – 1. run a whole 5k without walking, 2. do a 5k under 40:00) but being sick I nixed those as being too feasible and instead decided to just run as much as I could.

It was a crowded race and I have no action shots.  It was too cold to want to bring little goat out with Mr. Goat and my friends and I have different paces right now.  So I found myself alone in a see of people.  It took nearly 5 minutes to even get to the start line, but once things began it thinned out enough to find my own pace.  Having the variety of costumes sure gave me a lot to look at and I’m glad I brought my ipod to provide some music for me.  Those two things kept me moving.

I ran the first mile and realized that I was a third of the way there, so I kept running.

Around the halfway mark there was a water station and I grabbed some while running past.  I was still running.

At mile two the water was making me all phlegm-y and I was feeling worse, but I was still running.

At mile 2.5 I was still shuffle running along.  My pace was slower but I was still running.  Despite feeling worse and worse I still was moving.  It looked like there was a chance I could finish the race running.

My phone told me I hit mile 3 ahead of the actual marker and I was still running.  Only a tenth of a mile left!

But then I ran around a corner to be faced with a big hill, I slowed to clear my throat and I slowed just enough that my legs rebelled.  I ended up walking up the hill and for a minute (or two?) before running the last 200 yards or so.

My first instinct was one of disappointment.  I was SO CLOSE to running the whole thing and my body/mind just failed at the end.  Not only that but I felt seriously awful after the race.  All my cold came back with full force and I had no voice, little breath and a desire to curl up in a ball.  A little time and perspective later, I am amazed that I did as much as I did, especially while sick.  I was seriously close to both of my 5k goals despite being nowhere near 100%.  My time was 42:40 and I ran at least 3 miles.  I know both of my 5k goals are realistic and if I manage to get well and train through the winter my next 5k might be a very different story.

I walked off the worst of my body’s complaints, had some water and met my friends.  Oh and I got my first medal for completing a 5k!  I adore this medal, it is a sign of just how far I’ve come.

Part of me doesn’t want to be too boastful of what I’ve accomplished, especially with my fellow Prior Fat Girl’s rocking things like half marathons, but my journey is not theirs.  For me the fact that I went out in the cold and ran a 5k while sick tells me that I am committed to making changes.  This is stretching myself to improve and grow and I am proud of my accomplishments.  I am also so grateful for the friends I have to cheer and run with me – Cindy (not pictures, boo), Amelia, and Kristen (the deviled egg).

I’m home sick again today and finally dragged myself to the doctor.  No strep so it is just a generic crud that is lingering.  I suppose it might have been more responsible to skip the 5k on Saturday and rest, but I am glad that I didn’t.  I earned my medal the hard way and in the end I did myself proud.  Yes, I wish I could have run that final hill, but I gave the monster dash my all and that is a wonderful thing.

13.1 miles complete with my wings upside down

I DID IT.

I ran 13.1 miles!

And, I’m not sure I should be proud of this, but I did it with my angel wings UP-SIDE DOWN! {How in the world I ran past hundreds of spectators with no one pointing it out, I don’t know!}

I was so nervous the morning of. My stomach was doing flips and I was slightly shaky. I wasn’t thinking right so when I got out of the car as Carlos dropped me off at the start, I pulled my wings on and just went it it not realizing they were up-side down.

See me coming up?

 

Me and my upside down wings:

 

Finishing strong:

I was a dark-angel of sorts. Wings and a halo, good enough for dressing up. I wonder if because my wings were up-side down, I created some resistance? Either way, it was amazing! I struggled a bit miles 9,10, 11 and 12 but the minute I saw the finish line, I booked it! I just wanted to be done.

I ran the race with my sister, Heidi – it was also her first time running a half-marathon. She was nervous she didn’t train very well but she finished about 6 minutes behind me so she did AWESOME! My dad came out to watch us finish, which meant a lot.

My sister, Heidi, my dad, and me:

My sister, Heidi and me:

 Friends: Sarah, Jen, Melissa and me

 

I loved seeing Carlos at the end, as well as Heidi’s husband, Dan, and her boys, Caleb & Noah.

Caleb and me

My official time was:

2 hours, 21 minutes, 43 seconds

My sister Alicia and her son, Colton, came out too. Colton dressed up as an Angry Bird and was adorable! Carlos and I went to the Lowry and had breakfast – it was delish! Saturday evening, I went to my cousins and then, on my way home, I swung through McDonalds.

I got a medium french fry and a cheeseburger. Iggy was so interested in what was inside the bag but he got none – I ate it all. YUM! I haven’t had McDonalds in years!

Sunday, I relaxed A LOT and then did a Hip Hop Yoga class at Moksha Yoga. It was $10 and the proceeds went to charity. It felt good to stretch but I tell ya, even Monday morning as I crawled out of bed, my legs were sore. I’m taking the day off from the gym and planning on hitting the weights tomorrow!