Marine Corps Marathon 2014 – Well, it Happened…..

Hi friends!  Addie here.  Well, Marine Corps Marathon was on Sunday, my legs feel back to normal human leg strength, and life is moving on.  Let’s recap the last two weeks.

When I last left you, I was getting ready to run the Baltimore Half Marathon.  I was running with a friend with the plan to run it nice and slow so that I didn’t blow out my legs the week before the marathon.  We accomplished that goal handsomely.  We enjoyed all of the handy treats and drinks the city of Baltimore brought out to share, and it was a really lovely time.  I’ve never run this race before, but it made me quite a fan!  Lots of spectators, clearly marked, easy enough to deal with, and so many unofficial beer stops!

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Enjoying a delightful doughnut hole around mile nine!

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Someone around mile 12.5 handed me this full, unopened beer. I very much enjoyed drinking it for the last half mile!

Baltimore – a city generous with it’s beer and its hills!  I wish this race was a few weeks earlier (or a few weeks later) so that I could race it for real.  I suppose any year that Marine Corps isn’t in the cards for me, this could be a solid back-up race.  It is put on by Corrigan Sports, who really do a great job.  They also put on the Frederick Running Festival and the Baltimore 10 miler, both of which I ran this year and enjoyed quite a bit (except for the hill at the end of the Baltimore 10 – eesh!)

The week between Baltimore and Marine Corps I only went on one run.  In hindsight, I was a bit too cavalier with this marathon training.  I let myself skip too many runs on the premise that no one follows their plans to the letter.  While that may be true, perhaps trying to stay within the 75%-80% sticking to plan range would be a better solution when gunning for a certain time.  But, I digress.

20141026_070412Marine Corps morning rolls around.  I meet up with a group of folks from the Metro Run & Walk store team at 5:30 at the metro to ride in together.  We enjoy each others company and chat about our goals.  There’s four of us hoping to finish around 4:20, one hoping for 4:00, and one looking to finish under 5:00.  We hopped on the metro, made it downtown, and hung out in the Pentagon parking lot, waiting for the sun to rise.

It was a chilly morning, but we knew the warm up was coming.  We made it over to the start line, got in our appropriate corrals, and off we went.  Our plan was to run even 10 minute miles, and for the most part we stuck to this well.  I had a secret weapon planted along the course – my new husband.  We had ended up with an extra bib for the race, and while he could not run the full 26.2, we knew he’d be good for at least ten miles.  He had been instructed to wait just after the water stops near mile 16 to join me and help me get through those last ten miles.

It warmed up quickly into the race – I didn’t even make it a mile in before I took off my jacket and tied it around myself.  The company couldn’t be beat and I was enjoying the sights of the spectators and the sounds of thousands of people in some crazy adventure together.   Shortly after mile ten I found my kids, my parents, and my husband.  I was super excited to see them and my mom even handed me a peanut butter sandwich, which is a wonderful treat while running!  I stopped for a few seconds to give hugs and then I was off again.  I caught up with our group and we headed down Haines Point.  Somewhere around mile 14 or 15 I fell a little behind.  Not far, the rest of our group was always in my sight, but just started to feel the need to go every so slightly slower.  On I ran….

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See the cell phone in hand? I was calling my mom…

Finally I’m approaching the mile 16 water stop, and I’m scanning the crowds for Sean.  I stop to walk, drink, and regenerate while I look.  Then I find myself passing the water stop.    No Sean.  Hrm.  I start jogging again and pull out my cell phone to call him.  No answer.  I had been running with a high school friend and we stumbled upon his wife and kids, and she took a quick picture for us.  I call Sean again.  No answer.  I call my mom and ask if they are still together.  No, she tells me, he went to the water stop and he doesn’t have his phone.  Crap.  Now my husband is somewhere behind me, with no phone, no way to get home (my car was at the metro, and my mom drove in with him when the spotted me earlier – the plan being for he and I to metro home after finishing the race together), and perhaps worst of all for me – I’ve now fallen WAY behind the group and have these ten more miles to run, all alone.  I made the decision I had to make.  I went back.

Marine Corps is a crowded marathon.  And now I found myself running against the grain.  I tried to stay as far to the shoulder as I could, but I certainly confused a lot of people.  I ran about a quarter mile, back to the very start of the water stop and walked through again.  Searching, knowing that he just HAD to be here somewhere!  But no, he was not to be found.  I gave up, felt sad, and started to trot forward.  I was totally in my head now.  Not only was I starting to feel much more fatigued than I should for this point, now I’m totally alone, with ten miles to go, AND have to worry about a husband that will somehow have to get home at some point.  On I trot….

A bit after mile 17, my heart leaped.  SEAN!  There he was on the side of the road, waiting.  He ran in and joined me and I learned that when he saw the rest of the team from the store, he jumped in with them.  He learned I was just slightly behind so he jogged slower, thinking I’d catch him – not realizing that I had now gone backwards on the course.  When he still didn’t see me he pulled off at the side of the road where he waited, and thankfully, we found each other.

At this point, I couldn’t care less about the time I lost going backwards.  I was so relived I wasn’t running alone, that on we went.  Unfortunately, we didn’t go terribly far or terribly fast.  Shortly after the 18ish mile marker (maybe closer to 19, I really don’t remember), my calves cramped up terribly.  I was having to stop and walk, and I even hit to sit down to stretch and rub them out.  Sean was lovely (on his fresh legs) and would sit patiently and help me try to get moving again.  We carried on and then hit the bridge.

I hate that bridge.  That bridge is the worst of things.  My new goal in life is to run Marine Corps again next year and make that bridge my bitch.  This year, well, the opposite was true.  I wanted to cry.  Everything hurt so bad.  My calves were like rocks and I was hot and I watched all the runners around me also break down and walk and complain.  It was awful.  We walked most of it.  I sat (once?  twice?  I can’t remember).  I cursed myself for thinking this was a good idea.  I hate that bridge.

As we crossed the bridge and went into Crystal City, I got a brief second wind.  The crowds were great and I saw friends spectating.  I managed to keep up a jog through most of it until about mile 24, where again I had to sit and rub my calves.  At this point we happened to stumble upon my high school friend again, and decided we would get it done.  We set off again at a trot, and never stopped to walk again.  It was a slow trot.  It was a pained trot.  At one point, from some unknown source, Loryn Hill’s song “That Thing” was playing and I started singing as loud as I could.  I may have been delirious.  But then, the crowds got thicker.  People were lining both sides of the course and I realized we had to be close.

We bypassed the mile 25 water stop – I knew if I stopped again it would be damn near impossible to start again.  We kept moving forward, lifted up by the knowledge that we were SO CLOSE to it all being done.  I saw the 26 mile marker and suddenly, I was running.  I hit that hill, and I RAN.  I have no idea what my pace was, and to be honest, it was probably still slower than a ten minute pace, but in my head I was FLYING.  No stopping, no looking back.  Up the hill, across the finish line.

My final time?  4:58:07.  My A goal had been 4:15 – so, that didn’t go well.  My B goal had been under 4:30 – also didn’t go well.  My C goal – faster than last year.  And last year’s time?  4:58:11.  I beat my time by four seconds.  How do I feel about this?  Well, not great.

But, I finished my second marathon.  I was reminded, yet again, to respect the distance.  And you can bet your ass I’ll be trying again next year.

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One Response to Marine Corps Marathon 2014 – Well, it Happened…..

  1. A four second PR is still a PR! Congrats on the strong finish. And from a Baltimore native – you’re welcome for the Boh. 🙂

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