Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon Weekend Race Report

October 29-31, 2010

I traveled up to the D.C. area Friday morning. My friend Melissa from the WW Marathoners group generously offered a room in her home. She picked me up at the airport, we dropped off my bags and then walked to the metro. We got to the expo and met up with first Heidi and then Vanessa. The shirts we got were men’s sizes and fit very snug around the waist but big in the arms. So I decided to buy a nice shirt from the Brooks booth and also a visor. We all wondered through the aisles, finding lots of fun stuff to sample. I bought a tank top at the one more mile shop that says “Will run for coffee.” After 2 hours at the expo we headed out to lunch and then they left me at the Spy Museum. It was very crowded, but a fun place. I would like to go again one day when I am not so tired and my feet don’t hurt so much. I spent a lot of time on my feet Friday. Saturday morning we met up with a group of ladies from the board for coffee then headed back to Melissa’s for a relaxing day on the sofa watching the Rally to Restore Sanity. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to tire my legs and feet by standing so long out there. We had a nice walk around Old Town Alexandria that afternoon before heading back to the house for dinner. We watched Spirit of the Marathon before heading to bed early.

Me, Sondra, Kelly and Melissa

Race morning started at 4:30 am. We had time to get dressed, have some coffee and a snack and take a group photo before heading out to the Expo. Melissa’s husband gave us a ride so we didn’t have to walk the mile to the nearest station. Melissa and I headed off on the Blue train, while Sondra and Kelly had to wait for the yellow, to take them to the 10K. We arrived at the Pentagon station and then had a long walk to get to the race start center. We found a group of port-a-potties with no lines! Hit those up before dropping off out bags with the UPS trucks. I tried to get a hold of my friend Gina, but she never texted me back. Should have thought of a meet up plan the day before! By then it was about 7:30 am, so we started the walk to the starting area. Again, we found a group of Port-a-potties without lines! So we took one more pit stop before heading to the 4:15 to 4:30 area. This was a little slow pace for Melissa, but speedy for me, so it was a good in between spot for us. We tried looking out for Katie, B.J. and Alison, but didn’t see them at all.

At exactly 8 a.m. the guns blasted and we were off! Well sort of off. It was a slow walk to the starting mat that took just a little over 5 minutes. Melissa and I started off together. I figured I would run at least the first two miles slow but without intervals. About a mile or so into the race we came up to friends Vanessa and Heidi. It was fun to talk to them for a little before wishing them luck and moving ahead. The first two miles seemed to be mostly up hill. Just before mile two, I told Melissa that I was going to start my 4/1 intervals, so she should just go on ahead. I tossed my jacket soon after hitting that first water stop, but I kept my gloves on. It was still pretty cold. When my watch started beeping after 4 minutes, I noticed the time went back to 4 minutes instead of the one minute for walking. What a pain! By my walk break at around mile 3, uphill again, I tried to fix the problem with the time. But I haven’t used it much, so I couldn’t figure out how to make two different times appear. So I finally just kept it at 4 minutes and worked in the one minute of walking, which meant a lot of looking at my watch. That walk break ended up being a little long too.

Even with all the hills, I was feeling pretty good. I enjoyed all the beautiful scenery along the river and tried not to pay attention to all the men (and a few women) on the side of the road going to the bathroom. The course was very packed with runners still. It was very hard to get to the side for my walking breaks. I was constantly trying to run from the middle, flat area to the side for walking that in the end, I had run .3 mile more than I should have!

Mile 1: 10:19
Mile 2: 10:05
Mile 3: 10:20
Mile 4: 10:06
Mile 5: 10:31
Mile 6: 10:11

At the water stop just before mile seven, I tossed my gloves. Mostly because I couldn’t open the baggie that had my endurolytes. I unfortunately forgot to take any before the race like I normally do, which I think lead to the problems I had later. At mile eight, we had a crazy steep downhill. We then entered an area with lots of spectators. For well over a mile there were just tons of people cheering us on. It was great, except that I hated taking walking breaks with people yelling my name (my name was on my tank top) and encouraging me. Just after mile nine, the volunteers were handing out orange slices. Those suckers were dangerous on the ground! I really had to watch my step so that I wouldn’t slip on them.

Mile 7: 10:45
Mile 8: 10:18
Mile 9: 10:18
Mile 10: 10:12

From mile 11 to 13, the cheering crowd was smaller, but still there. It was nice to have a bit of peace actually. I got to the mile 13 water stop in good time. I was thinking that even if I slowed a little, I could still make my 4:45 time goal. Once we passed the water stop though, we changed direction and that was right into the wind. It wasn’t too bad, it just made it colder. Unfortunately there wasn’t a water stop again until just after mile 16. I really needed it by mile 15. I was behind on eating my cliff blocks and taking my endurolytes. Before getting to that water stop, I saw the Washington monument to my left, so stopped for a few seconds to snap a photo of it. I think I drank a bit too much at the water stop, I was already feeling like it wasn’t helping like it should. I was still thirsty. My muscles were tightening up and I was feeling tired, so I talked myself into trying to keep this pace for a couple of miles before switching to a 3/1 interval. This didn’t work so great. By mile 17, I had to stop at a curb and tighten the laces on my left shoe because I could feel my foot sliding to the outside and pinching my little toe. While bent over doing this, my calf muscles really tightened up. So after a few steps of walking, I had to stop at the curb again and stretch my legs. At this point I decided to just change to 3/1 intervals. It would make the tracking on my watch easier. I could just stop for a walk when it beeped and then start again when it showed 3 minutes.

Mile 11: 10:21
Mile 12: 10:43
Mile 13: 10:54
Mile 14: 11:15
Mile 15: 11:31
Mile 16: 12:25
Mile 17: 12:36

Just after mile 18 we came up to the Capitol. I stopped and asked a woman to take a photo of me with the building behind me. This took at least a minute because she had a hard time figuring it out! Next time I look for a young person who knows how to work a phone with a camera. Lots of course photographers past this point. Hopefully I got some good shots. I tried smiling when I got close to them. By mile 19 I had switched to the 2/1 intervals that had got me through a summer of training in Florida. Soon we were heading onto the famous bridge. This is the bridge you have to run over by a certain time or you get picked up by a bus and can’t finish. It wasn’t so bad, just super long! When we got to Crystal City at mile 21 I was feeling like crap. I drank 3 cups of water. Of course this made my nauseous. I think I walked the whole 3 minutes after this water stop. So for the next 3 miles I was struggling to keep those 2/1 intervals. I had quite a few 1.5/1.5 intervals in there. When I got to mile 24, I knew there was no way of making my under 5 hour second goal. I didn’t feel too upset about it, but I did try to keep to those 2/1’s more. At mile 25 we started running through the area we had been at before the race started. We ran past the starting line and then past mile 26. Then came the crazy last hill I had heard about. Nothing could really prepare me for it though. It was the steepest uphill yet! I made it half way up and then had to walk. It flattened out a bit before curving to the right. I saw the finish line up ahead, so powered through the last part of the uphill and finished!

Mile 18: 13:21
Mile 19: 12:26
Mile 20: 12:33
Mile 21: 12:07
Mile 22: 12:30
Mile 23: 12:46
Mile 24: 13:31
Mile 25: 13:23
Mile 26: 13:42
Mile .5: 6:11 (if I hadn't done so much weaving, I could have taken at least 3 minutes off this time!)

I got my medal and mylar blanket and then started looking for water. After getting my power aide I noticed that not many people were getting their photo taken with the Iwo Jima statue behind them, so I headed over and had that done quick before sitting on a grassy spot to stretch and call my boys at home. The finish area was a crazy, packed mess. A huge crowd lined up for a bag of food and then to get up the hill to the finish festival. It would have been so much better if they hadn’t allowed family and friends here. I stopped at the Brooks booth to buy a nice long sleeved finisher shirt and then stood in line for 30 minutes to get into the metro station. Finally I got to the station near Melissa’s house. I decided to stretch my legs and walk the mile back to her house. I made sure to stop in the Starbucks for a Venti Mocha on my way back. :)

During the race I thought that I would never run this race again. But I want a sub 5 hour marathon!! I know I have it in me, I just need to get my fuel and water situation worked out. Maybe a flat course would help. I think I'll try to get down to my goal weight and then start training again. I'm sure these extra pounds don't help me out.

I need to add that this is a PR for me! :) My first marathon was in 1998 at the first San Diego Rock N Roll. The clock time was 5:36:21. I don't know about my real time because this was prior to having a chip on your shoe. I was in one of the last few corals. I know it took me about 25 minutes to get to the start, but even so, Sunday's race was still a PR! My 39 year old self beat the skinny 28 year old I used to be. Just proves we can get better with age. :)


  1. That is so awesome!!! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Awesome job, Jenna! I'm so glad you had a good race. If you need a flat course, come do Shamrock with me in the Spring in VA Beach!