Friday, October 30, 2015

Run with the Marines - a Marathon Race Recap


This past weekend I crossed a major marathon off my running bucket list-- Marine Corps Marathon.

If you've been following along Unapologetically You for a bit, you probably already know how spotty my training had been. I'm happy to announce that despite a sub par training cycle and major hip/knee pain that started {and progressively got worse} with 9 miles remaining, I finished the marathon. Not a personal best, but not a personal worst either.

Official time was 4:42:59 and I am content with that.

So, what do I tell you about MCM?

Like any good fitness blogger planning to write a race recap I started thinking about what I would report on while I was still running. 


And you know what? I don't have a whole lot to tell you.

I don't want to turn this recap into a complain-fest. But with the exception of the amazing Marines and The Blue Mile {more on this in a bit} I didn't like anything about race day. Having 26.2 miles to think about it I have come to the realization that I am not a fan of such large races.


26.2, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race Recap, Run with the Marines, running, race shirt

The Details

I wasn't trying to PR. I just wanted to run well and get it over with! I ran pretty well for the first 16 or 17 miles-- sticking with the planned 9 min run 1 min walk intervals. But that's when things started to fall apart. I promised Nick I wouldn't complain or get quity :) So instead I just said that we needed to change things up. The goal was to "beat the bridge" then change up with run/walk intervals, but my hip/knee pain was getting worse. 

Between mile 18-19 we switched to 8 min run 1 min walk, but by the bridge we had negotiated to 6 min run 2 min walk and I was pretty much able to stick with that for the remaining 6 miles. I hurt-- 6 minutes was almost too much, but I had Nick pushing me. I was so thankful for the long walk breaks though!

That last hill to the finish was killer. As we came up to it Nick started laughing "You're going to love this!". I think I mentioned this in my ZOOMA race recap-- finishing a race on a hill {especially a steep one} is just mean.     

The Positives

The Marines. They were fabulous. I work with Marines, but seeing thousands of them at MCM all ready to support you, the runner, really puts things into perspective. These men and women are putting their lives on the line for us daily-- and here they are again pushing us, cheering us on, supporting us, saluting us at the finish. Wow, just wow.

Somewhere towards the end of the race {maybe 5k-ish remaining} I was on a walk break and hurting bad. One young Marine started running next to us and encouraged us to keep moving.

The Blue Mile. I get chills just thinking about it. Mile 12 to 13 was what's referred to as The Blue Mile or Wear Blue to Remember. For an entire mile both sides of the course were lined with photos of Marines who lost their life. The last {maybe} quarter of The Blue Mile was lined with people holding American Flags. At any given time there were hundreds of runners passing through The Blue Mile. But what was amazing-- everyone was silent. The only sound was feet hitting the pavement. Everyone had so much respect for that mile. I got teary at one point looking at all the photos.


26.2, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race Recap, Run with the Marines, running, The Blue Mile, Wear Blue to Remember

Marines running in full uniforms {including boots!} carrying heavy backpacks. We chatted briefly with one Marine and he told us his backpack was filled with 60 lb of sandbags. Thinking back on this-- I was hurting, like if Nick wouldn't have been pushing me I'd have been content to walk the last few miles, kind of hurting. And here are these Marines running a marathon with the equivalent of what they'd be carrying on a mission in the fleet. It's almost laughable that I was complaining. I can't imagine carrying 60 lb over 26.2 miles. Utmost respect.     

Things That Could Have Been Better

Getting through security created a major security concern. For whatever reason, there were only 5-8 people checking bags for thousands of runners and their families trying to access Runners Village. Everyone was in a mob crammed together. There were no lines or anyone directing the flow of people. We arrived at the security line with 1.5 hours until the race start. We got through security 15 minutes after the race started-- then had to use the port-o-potty and walk a full mile to the start line. It was nuts.

I was having some anxiety waiting in this large group outside the Pentagon, trying to see where my exit was. If someone wanted to do something bad-- we all would have been f'ed {excuse the language}.

I was basically running from the port-o-potty to the race start area and across the start line. No time to even think about what we were getting ready to do. We just went. Again, it was nuts.

I have never seen so many runners in one place. Even the few times I ran Disney. In most races the runners eventually spread out and everyone has a bit of space. Not at MCM. We were in a thick crowd of runners the entire 26.2 miles. Even crossing the finish line-- there had to have been 15 other people crossing at the same time.

We were either zig-zagging around runners or stuck behind people. I don't think I ran my actual pace the entire race. And I'm pretty sure that is what contributed to the intense hip/knee pain. There were a few locations that were wider and allowed people to spread out, but eventually everything would narrow again.

There were spectators lining almost the entire 26.2 miles. I've never seen anything like that. It was pretty cool. But {isn't there always a 'but'?} the spectators tended to come out in the road which made an already too small area for thousands of runners even smaller.

After you crossed the finish line you were funneled {kind of like cattle} through the water, food, jacket stations and out of the finish area. It, no kidding, took an hour from when we crossed the finish line to where we could actually move freely. Another security concern in my mind. All I wanted to do was sit down, but we couldn't get out. There were too many people.

We actually don't have a single photo of us before, during or after the race. Pretty disappointing.

Final Thoughts

All in all I'm really glad we ran with the Marines.

I'm thankful for all the Marines and volunteers who were out supporting us.
I'm thankful for my body being strong enough to finish even when I was in pain.
I'm thankful for Nick being such an amazing support crew {I really don't think I could have done it without him}.

But we won't be back. One and done for MCM!


26.2, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race Recap, Run with the Marines, running, finisher medal

Your turn! Did you run MCM? Or maybe another big race this past weekend? What was your best memory of the race? Did you get a personal best?

♥ AK

This post is linked up with Jill for Fitness Friday and Fitful Focus for Fit & Fashionable Friday. Make sure to stop by and check them out!