Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon : From My Point of View

I arrived in D.C. Saturday morning. I was so surprised I didn't hit any traffic on the way down from Philadelphia. It was perfect timing. I was just pulling into the parking garage when I saw one of the ladies I was meeting. We walked down the street to get on the metro to go to the Expo. I heard from many people that this Expo is quite the process between all the lines and the security you have to go through. Well they were not kidding. The line was wrapped all the way around the block to get into the Expo. Luckily about half way up there was a separate line that we were able to go through since my friend's husband was retired military and he had his card.

The Expo was a pretty good size and well organized. Downstairs was where you received your bib and upstairs was where all the vendors were. There wasn't any special vendors that I hadn't seen before at any other expo, besides this.
 
 These were service dogs that helped with wounded warriors. How adorable!

 
 
My expo finds
 
Before picking up my bib I went to the Merchandise area because I wanted to get a jacket before they sold out. I picked that up as well as a magnet and sticker. The line wasn't too bad for the merchandise. It actually went pretty quick (faster than waiting in line to get into the expo). I purchased some more Nuun. And they usually have the sale if you buy two Nuun you receive a free water bottle. Well the bottle was just not the usual blue one you may have seen in the past. It had Run Washington 2014 on it, which was appropriate for the race.

After I picked up my bib I went back to the hotel to get off my feet and relax for the evening. Our hotel was having a special for the marathon. All you can eat soup, salad, pasta, and bread. I was so hungry because I hadn't really ate all day.
When I woke up my leg was feeling a little tight. I was having IT band issues earlier in the week. I was hoping it wasn't going to give me any problems during the race. I even brought my foam roller so I was doing that the night before and in the morning while I was getting ready. 

 
I am always so undecided on what to wear for race day. I had brought a t-shirt and a tank top with my arm sleeves depending on how the weather was. When I stepped out on out balcony that morning it was beautiful! Decision made, tank top without arm sleeves. It was soon time to walk to the start. Our hotel was about a mile away from start, which was fine since it was right next to the finish. It really worked out well. After getting through security, stopping at the porta potty, and getting to the start, the National Anthem was just starting.

I met my friend in the corral as we watched the wounded warriors parasail down to the starting line. Soon enough it was our time to start. My friend said she wasn't really going for specific time since she was doing a 50k in two months so she would run with me. I know she is much faster than me but I did want to keep up with her. I told her that I was having IT issues the other week so I wasn't sure how I'd do. 

I admit I do not study the course before races. I kind of like not knowing what's coming. I did read some reviews about this race and read the program you receive, but still you don't fully understand it until you are actually on the course running it.

The first couple miles I was surprised how many hills there were. I thought to myself if this is how the whole course is going to be then I am in trouble. It soon flattened out which made me very happy. There were some parts of the race that became very narrow and congested at times. Especially between miles 6-9. There are nothing but runners on each side. When we were just approaching mile 6 there were a few runners on the opposite side. Those elites were really moving! I couldn't believe they were almost at mile 9.5. Approaching mile ten where the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial are,  I was still feeling pretty good. It wasn't until mile 12 that I lost track of my friend, which was fine. I knew it would happen at some point. I didn't mind at all.  I was still feeling good, I just couldn't keep up with her pace. It was then where I decided to put my headphones in and find a comfortable pace. 
 
 
At mile 15 is the Jefferson and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. I kept thinking to myself well this is the longest run I did in my marathon training cycle this time. I wonder how the rest of the race will go. By mile 16 there were a ton of spectators that kept me going passing the many other Memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial. Then it was seeing the Washington Monument at mile 17 and the U.S. Capitol at 18. 

I have heard many reviews about the dreaded mile 20. I thought it was only because at mile 20 that is when runners hit the wall. But I found it was called Beat the Bridge. If you are not there by a certain time, you are able to get swept up along the course and not be able to finish. In addition to that,  people think that is a tough spot in the course because of some of the inclines and little spectators. Like I said, I don't read too much about the course but I did hear about this part, so I was expecting so much worse. And for me, honestly I didn't think it was that bad. I think for me the hardest was the last three miles. I think it was the end of mile 22 where there was a sprinkler hitting the runners. In addition to that it became windy too. It was a beautiful day, but not hot enough to have a sprinkler going. After that I was a bit chilly for awhile. Then I approached the munchkin aid station. Of course I couldn't imagine eating something that sweet right then. I have been having a sweet taste in my mouth during the whole race between eating my GU and drinking my Nuun. I was so thirsty for water that I actually stopped at two of the water stops and chugged water.

The last two miles felt like they were never going to end. I felt like I could have been going my fastest, then I look down at my pace and think that's all the faster I am going? I really felt like I was in slow motion towards the end. I remember hearing this spectator at mile 25 saying You guys are doing well. Almost done, just push a little more. I knew he was cheering us on, but all I could think to myself is Buddy we can't push anymore. You know we have already ran 24 miles. Anyways, I kept pushing and finally I knew I was almost there when I saw that last brutal hill at .2 towards the finish line. After getting up that hill, I sprinted of course to the finish line, which I always do no matter how I feel. Those last couple miles I was getting through but was thinking is this over yet? But then after I crossed the finish line I told myself well it wasn't that bad. I was so happy that my IT band didn't act up during the race, just after. I have been rolling it, sitting in my massager, and taking epsom salt baths. I hope soon enough I am feeling back to normal to get a few more longer runs in before Vegas. 
Marine Corps Marathon medal and shirt
 
If you read to the end of this I Thank You!  I know this was a longer post then usual.  ~L
 
Do you study the course map or do you like to be surprised?

65 comments:

  1. Congrats Lacey. I also did not think the bridge was too bad. My biggest complaint was the sea of runners that I had to pass during much of the race. It was very difficult to move and keep any sort of rhythm/pace. Lesson learned, have absolutely no goal during a big marathon.

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    1. Thanks! Congrats to you as well! Yes it was hard at times weaving around other runners to find your pace.

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  2. Congrats! I would love to run tis race one day. It must be an incredibly moving race too.

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  3. Congrats Lacey--you know how much I love this marathon! I love hearing people's accounts of it. I actually loved the bridge when I was running it--kind of a time to collect and reflect, you know?

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    1. Thanks! And now I know why.
      Exactly! Thanks for stopping by today.

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  4. I don't study the course map either. I might look at the elevation details and if it's hilly, then I'll do more hills when training. Congrats and I am glad your IT band held up ok!

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    1. Yes, I am very happy it didn't give me any problems. Even if I know it has hills I never incorporate them into my training. I know I should!

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  5. Awesome job, Lacey! The last few miles seem SO long! Super cute jacket too!

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    1. Thanks! I wanted to get the blue one but they didn't have it in my size, and I found it was for the men's anyways.

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  6. I usually look at the course map, but I usually find that my experience actually running the course is different than what I had expected it to be! Awesome job!!

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    1. Yes, it always is so why stress yourself out with studying the map.

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  7. Congrats Lacey! MCM is such a great race. That hill up to Iwo Jima Memorial is tough after both the 26 miles and 6 miles! (I've done both the marathon & 10k in past years.) Crystal City is one of my favorite parts of the race as a spectator.

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    1. Thanks! Yes the last .2 was a killer after already running 26.

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  8. Congrats on MCM! I have some friends that ran it this year. I definitely study the course map. I like to know everyyyyything.

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    1. Thanks! I feel like even when reading it you still don't know until you are actually on the course. I guess I like being surprised. And I sure was at certain points.

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  9. Keep up with that foam rolling! I study the course so I have an idea of what to expect, but it's mostly for water stations and possibles port-a-potties, if I need them.

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    1. Yes I am. It has been helping. Foam rolling, epsom salt baths, and ice. I also got a massage yesterday and It was lovely.

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  10. Congrats on the finish and yay for the IT band not acting up! I try to get as much information on the course as I can as I like to know what's coming and what I should be prepared for, especially hills.

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    1. Thanks. Yes I should've looked up those hills. I had no idea about them in the beginning.

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  11. Congratulations! I'm glad your IT band let you have a good race. I like to read race recaps and check out elevation charts so I have a general idea of what's coming, but I don't study it too closely.

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    1. Thanks! I am happy it didn't act up then. I am still dealing with it now in the recovery process.

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  12. HA, that sprinkler! I was like IF THIS WATERLOGS MY PHONE I WILL NOT BE OKAY.

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    1. Haha I know right! I think that may be one of the reason I got blisters. Wet socks!

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  13. What a great recap. IF I were to do another marathon, I always thought it would be the MCM. I have to survive WDW first! :)
    @heatherlas

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    1. Walt Disney World is a great marathon. You will have a blast!

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  14. Congrats!!! I am bummed I didn't see the magnets when I went to look at the merchandise! I'll have to pick one up next year when I go to the expo earlier!!

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    1. They were at the register along with the stickers. But they were quickly selling out of them both

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  15. Congratulations!! Iike reading the different experiences at MCM.

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    1. Thanks! You too! I agree. Everyone has a unique story of their own to share about the race.

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  16. congrats! interesting that you didn't like the sprinkler -- i talked to tons of runners who loved it! your body must do a good job of keeping you cool :) i love reading all the recaps - wish i would've seen you while i was spectating!

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    1. Thanks! Wish I would have seen you too! Yeah I was not a fan of the sprinkler. I didn't think it was hot enough for that. I was pretty chilly for the next mile or so.

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  17. Congrats! Finishing a marathon off of one 15 mile longest run is great! I like to drive or run the course, or at least part of it, so I know what to expect before the race. I'd like to run this race someday!

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    1. Thanks! It really is a great race! I think I actually do better when I don't burn myself out from training so much. So this worked out great!

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  18. Nice job Lacey! And how did you NOT take one of those mutts home with you? :)

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  19. You did great!!! What an experience, too - I hear the MCM is one of the neatest marathons to run.

    I like to look at the race course ahead of time, but I'm bad at checking elevation, so I still end up being surprised by the hills.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah same here. Numbers don't really do too much for me.

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  20. Way to go on completing the marathon! I'd love to do the Marine Corps Marathon someday!

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  21. Congratulations! You finished and that is always good. This race is definitely in my bucket list for sure. Those hilly sections sound scary though.

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    1. Thanks! Well there was no doubt that I wasn't going to finish!

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  22. Congrats!!!! I've heard that is such an amazing race! So glad your IT Band behaved for you during the race!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I'm so grateful it didn't act up during the race.

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  23. Congrats Lacey! The bridge is included in the course for so many DC races, including Army Ten Miler. I think so many people dread it because it just seems like its never going to end (or at least that's how I felt a couple of weeks ago).

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! Yes it did seem never ending. But wasn't too bad.

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  24. Congrats! Sounds to me like you did awesome, especially with those last tough miles. I had heard from another friend how tough that last final hill is! And she also told me about the service dogs at the expo. Glad you got a picture! :-) Congrats again!

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    1. Thanks! Yes I got a great pic. Almost like that one was posing for me:)

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  25. YAY Congratulations Sounds like overall it was a great race for you. I am so hapoy for you that you IT band was fine for ya. I do the same as you I never really look at a course map either, dont like to worry I rather be surprised.
    I remember people telling me this was a hilly course. But other than the hill at the beginning and a small hill in the middle (that i heard they removed now ). And if course that hill at the end. But other than that its a great flat and fast course. Glad you had a good time and looks like you picked up some cute new gear:)

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    1. Yes, I don't remember any small hill in the middle so they must've removed it. But the ones at the beginning and last .2 were enough.

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  26. Great job, and so glad you were able to finish without your IT band acting up.

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  27. Congrats!! Been so excited to read everyone's MCM recap. That is really neat that they brought service dogs to the expo. I usually study course maps ahead of a race - I think it is a control thing for me hehe. Hope you are enjoying some rest!

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    1. Thanks! Yes I have been enjoying the rest this week. I even got a massage:)

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  28. Congrats on a great finish! I rode by the crowd about 4 and half hours in and remember thinking it felt pretty hot! I hope your IT band doesn't get to cranky. Enjoy the recovery :) What an awesome medal.

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  29. Great recap! I can't wait to see how you do at Vegas.

    Thanks for checking out my blog too! :)

    ~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home

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  30. Congrats on a great race! I love reading all the race recaps and it sounds like it was a great race overall. I like you don't usually like to look at race maps, it just adds to my anxiety, so in most cases, ignorance is bliss!

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  31. Congrats! Glad you had a good run. I did take the munchkins :) They were delicious, I was needing salt desperately at that point too, so they hit the spot. Sorry we didn't get to meet up!!

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  32. Usually I like to have the race be "new" to me, I just look for elevation on the course map. The marathon that I just completed, I ran the 13.1 loop as practice because I was trying to BQ--It was also familiar to me because we used to live in the town.
    GREAT JOB! would you run it again?

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  33. I really enjoyed the race, however there are so many great ones out there I don't think I would repeat it.

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  34. Congratulations Lacey!! I never study course maps, I just like to be surprised. I'm so glad your IT band didn't bug you during the race!

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  35. Great job girl! Glad you had a good race. The first few miles have crazy hills! I remember being really nervous on them last year and hoping the rest of the course was not like that. Sounds like you had a good race. I tried to find you on the course but was never able to spot you :( -C

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  36. Congrats!! I'm so happy your IT band didn't bother you during the race. I always study the course, but I agree with you that you don't really know what it's like until you're running it. And it's funny how the supportive things spectators say do the opposite of making you feel good after you hit a certain point!

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  37. Hey there! I just came across your blog post because today I got into my first MCM! And my first marathon!!! Which hotel did you choose?

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    1. HI, I think maybe it was the Holiday Inn. It was close to the Start (not quite a mile) and it was only a subway ride away to the expo. Congrats on getting into MCM!

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Fairytales and Fitness is a personal blog authored and edited by us, Meranda and Lacey. The thoughts expressed here represent only our own and are not meant to be taken as professional advice. Please note that our thoughts and opinions change from time to time. We consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind in an ever changing society. Any thoughts and opinions expressed within our out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those we may express today.