Since the Boston Marathon, I have neither run nor trained for a road race. I spent a lot of time training for trail races, which means lots of time on my feet and many miles, but none of them were run at a very quick pace. This led me to be a little uncertain of what the MCM would hold for me.
I had planned this several months ago with two friends who I had met last year at The Relay. One of them lives in Philadelphia, and he had been wanting to do the MCM for a long time. It was one of his bucket list races. The other gent hailed from Texas, and had never run a marathon before.
My plan was to attempt to run about a 3:30. I figured if I stayed at about an 8 minute pace the whole time, I could make it. However, like I said, I have been running the trails, at about a 10 – 12 minute pace, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I have done a couple of road runs, but they were at around a 9 minute mile and there were only a few of them. Texas had been training at about a 10 – 11 minute mile and he wanted to stay at this pace the whole time. Philly was injured; he used to run about a 6:30 pace, but since his injury has not been running. He was planning on running with Texas to keep him company.
|Me and the boys — ready to go!|
The expo was a mess. We had to wait in line for 2 hours to get our bibs and goodie bags. Needless to say, this made me really doubtful of how good the race organization would be. However, it was pretty well organized! There were shuttles to the start line, with roughly a 1 mile walk to the start. The sweat checks were well labeled and there were a ton of porta-potties. We had to go through a bag check to get to the start line. The Star Spangled Banner was cool; there were a bunch of parachutes with flags that unfurled as they came closer to the ground.
The start line was self corralled. I lined up at the 3:20 – 3:39 corral (kind of a big gap, if you ask me) and actually got to talking to a few fellow runners about Boston. The guy behind me BQed but didn’t get in this year because there were so many applicants. And then we were off!
|Ready, set, go!|
The first few miles had a lot of uphill. The wheelchair racers had started before us by about 5 minutes, and we ended up catching up to a lot of them at this point. I can only imagine how tired their arms must have been! I was really trying not to start off too quickly in this race. However, my first mile was slower than I would like, so I started to pick up the pace a little after that. Mile 1 – 5: 8:15, 8:07, 7:53, 7:30, 7:52
Miles 6 – 10 were pretty flat and were an out and back section. It was cool because I saw all of the front runners and then on the back portion, got a chance to look for my friends, but I didn’t see them. Miles 6 10: 7:45, 7:49. 7:47, 7:57, 7:53.
Miles 11 – 15 were a loop around the tidal basin and the Jefferson Memorial. I was still feeling pretty good and it was fun to see the crowds along the route. I was running along side a couple of Semper Fi guys and I just kept their red shirts in my sights. I saw a lot of the same spectators as they were criss-crossing the course and I could recognize them from their signs. Mile 11 – 15: 7:49, 7:52, 7:54, 8:08, 7:58.
At mile 16, my hamstring started to give me trouble. I slowed down in order to save myself from injury and to attempt to save a little energy until the end. The best part about this section was that it was run along the Mall and for much of the time we were running toward the Capitol building and past the Smithsonian buildings. However, I was definitely starting to lose energy and my quads were tired and my hamstring was aching. Mile 16 – 20: 8:08, 8:23, 8:24, 8:26, 8:23.
They say the real race begins at mile 20, and for this race, this really was the truth. At mile 21, we crossed over the Potomac for the last time and people were walking. I wanted to join them so badly, but I knew that if I did, I would regret it later. So I kept plodding along, step after step. At mile 23, I ran near my hotel. I was about a quarter of a mile from it and I remember thinking about how I could just go there instead of to the finish. People were handing out doughnut holes and I remember thinking that maybe I could just stop for a while and eat a doughnut and call it a day. I ran past the pentagon and the start line and I finally passed the 25 mile mark. Mile 21 – 25: 8:24, 8:25, 8:24, 8:32, 8:34.
The last mile (point two!) was the longest mile ever. To top it all off, the last 30 or 50 feet before the finish line were uphill. I wanted to punch someone. I gave it all the gas I had left, which was barely any. Mile 26: 8:23, Mile 26.2: 8:06.
|Iwo Jima finish|
The verdict? I started out too fast. Again. I fueled. I even ate a Gu, but I am not sure I fueled enough. I definitely did not train correctly. However, I had fun! The crowd was great; there were lots of gorgeous monuments; there were a ton of cute military guys; the weather was perfect. What more could you ask for?
Oh, and my friend from Texas, for his first marathon, got a 4:21, which is just under a 10 minute mile! He is a rock star! He beat his own goal and did so great! I am proud of him! He is already signed up for two more marathons too. See what happens?
Have you ever been to DC? What mile is your least favorite when you are running? Have you ever had a doughnut in the middle of a run?